Llamas Jumpstarted Mindy Peltier’s Writing Career

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

When Mindy Peltier was sixteen, she got a job as reporter for the local newspaper. Her first assignment was to interview a farming couple whose livestock included two llamas.

“Two llamas and two friendly neighbors? How hard can this be?” she thought, even though she’d never actually written a journalism article before. She conducted the interview to the best of her ability and even risked getting spit upon when she snapped photos of the cantankerous creatures.

A few days after her editor published the story, a big-city daily picked up the article and reprinted it. That was when Mindy realized her writing career was off to a great start, thanks to a pair of exotic animals.

MindyPeltier2PinableA quarter of a century later, she had what many writers long for—the perfect writing alcove in her dream home. She was mother of six children and happily married to Scott. She wanted to stay put for the rest of her life.

Then Scott’s employers announced they were moving him and his family to Seattle. “I cried for a week,” Mindy recalls. After she got settled in her new home, she discovered that only four blocks away was where the Northwest Christian Writers Association met for monthly meetings.

“It was a powerful lesson that when the Lord says ‘no,’ it often means, ‘I have something better for you’,” she says.

In addition to being passionate about writing, Mindy also wants to conquer the digital world and encourage writers to overcome their fears of technology and social media. She teaches at area conferences about blogging and also directed NCWA’s WriteTech Conference in January.

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Mindy will co-lead three interactive sessions of a WriteCoach Lab especially designed for those who have questions about basic technology:

BYOD-Tech EssentialsBYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Tech Essentials (Friday, May 15, with Dennis Brooke) – Ever wonder how to make those graphic “thingies” you’re supposed to include in blog posts? Stumped trying to build an email list? Wish you knew how to use hashtags, make captions, or manage friends/followers? Nervous about uploading photos to “the cloud”? Recently changed from PC to Apple—or vice versa—and feel lost? At this BYOD Tech Essentials Lab, no question is too basic for experts Mindy Peltier and Dennis Brooke. And if they don’t know the answer, they’ll demonstrate how to search the Internet for solutions. Bring your own laptop, netbook, tablet, smartphone, etc., to gain the most from these sessions.

Mindy has served as NCWA’s secretary and resource coordinator and is now the president. She’s done a great job in all of these roles. She also assisted the former conference director, Judy Bodmer, in putting on the Renewal.

Now that Judy has stepped down due to health reasons and I’m the new director, I’ve discovered what an incredible assistant conference director Mindy is. She brings all the knowledge she gained when helping Judy, and she adds new ideas and creativity each time we talk. She spends many hours a week creating solutions so that everyone who attends the conference will have the most fun, productive, and memorable time possible.

Sometimes a teacher’s skill is reason enough to attend a class or workshop. At other times the main draw is the instructor’s care and concern for students.

With Mindy, you get both—in big doses.

So, to get your technology questions answered—or simply to interact with someone who cares deeply about helping writers succeed—sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

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Disney and Prayer Gave Alex Marestaing His Break

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference

Alex Marestaing was an unknown writer when he learned of a new line of products the Walt Disney Company planned to publish. Although Alex didn’t have an agent at the time, he did believe in the power of prayer, so he wrote Disney a letter and introduced himself.

A few weeks later, Disney hired Alex for the project. That response changed the trajectory of his writing career forever. “I’ll always be thankful to Disney for giving me a shot,” he says. “Having that name on my writing credits really helped me move forward in the industry.”

AlexMarestaingPinable copyAlex has also worked on creative projects for Lego and for media outlets such as Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins and the Los Angeles Times.

His latest novel, I’m Nobody, is a suspense-driven YA/Middle-Grade story about an agoraphobic teen who begins receiving strange, poetic notes from someone claiming to be reclusive, long-dead poet Emily Dickinson. It received an honorable mention at the London Book Festival and was nominated as a finalist for the 2014 Epic Awards.

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Alex will teach two workshops:

Writing Through the Silence1) Writing Through the Silence (Friday, May 15) – Have you ever felt like tossing your manuscript in the trash and giving up on writing altogether? Let’s face it—the writing business can be tough on the ego and even heartbreaking at times. In a field where rejection e-mails, poor sales, and dashed hopes can be par for the course, it takes a steadfast spirit to keep writing through the pain. This workshop is for writers who are discouraged, lack vision, or simply feel uninspired. Through contemplative activities, lessons from famous authors, and discussion, writers will learn how to write through the “silent” seasons of life when inspiration seems distant.

Finding Success in the and Middle Grade2) Finding Success in the YA and Middle Grade Markets (Saturday, May 16) – In the age of iPhones and the Internet, writers face some tough competition when trying to catch the attention of young-adult and middle-grade audiences. Alex will discuss trends in the youth market and help you better understand why books such as Wonder, The Hunger Games, and Harry Potter have captivated new generation readers. You will leave the class with a better understanding of how to use creative points of view, pacing, and unique setting and character elements to draw readers into your tales. We will also discuss enhancing book proposals and projects with 3D elements such as music, video, and web components. Engage this hurting generation with your talent, and shine the light of Christ in a literary landscape that has become very dark in the last decade.

In addition to writing for the youth market, Alex has also written for faith-based publications and has covered soccer, his favorite sport, in Europe and the US for Sports Spectrum magazine and Yanks Abroad.

When Alex isn’t writing or speaking at conferences, he usually hangs out in California with his wife, three kids, and the family dog, Milou.

To learn Alex’s insights, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

Editor Terry Glaspey Speaks His Mind about Artists

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Terry Glaspey can talk for hours about the arts.

“Christian art shouldn’t be propaganda for the Christian cause,” he says. He believes that artistic people, while blessed with the privilege of rearranging God’s creation in fresh and beautiful ways, must remain mindful about truth-telling, even uncomfortable truths.TerryGlaspeyPinableTerry is the director of acquisitions at Harvest House Publishers. Not only does he love good books, but he is also the author of more than a dozen titles himself, including Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis (a Gold Medallion finalist), Bible Basics for Everyone, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, and 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know. His latest book, The Prayers of Jane Austen, is being released now.

On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Terry will meet with writers in group appointments. If you want to show him your work, please follow the guidelines concerning what he would like to see and what he’s not looking at right now.

The following day, May 16, Terry will teach one workshop himself and co-teach another with fellow editor Carolyn McCready:

Great Writers1)   What the Great Writers Can Teach Us about Writing: Here’s how to become a better communicator by learning the lessons of authors such as C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, G.K. Chesterton, and others.

What Editors Are REALLY Looking For JPG2)   What Editors Are Really Looking For (with Carolyn McCready [insert URL] of Zondervan): You will get to contrast the different approaches of two different publishers! Between them, Carolyn and Terry have reviewed it all.

Kirk Kraft’s Interview with Terry Glaspey

Three years ago NCWA member Kirk Kraft interviewed Terry on his blog right before the 2012 Renewal conference. Kirk has graciously allowed us to reprint a portion of that informative interview here.

Kirk: As an acquisitions editor, what do you look for in manuscripts?

Terry: I am looking for two key things: quality and marketability. Both are important. In terms of quality, I am always looking for good writing, fresh new perspectives, theological orthodoxy, creativity, energy, and style. Personally, I can enjoy reading about any topic if it has these qualities.

But—and this is the second thing I have to look for—the book needs to be marketable. We can’t ignore that publishing is a business and that publishers need to sell books. So, any book that is going to receive serious consideration needs a topic with a wide level of interest among readers, and it usually needs to have an author with a strong platform who can steer people toward it. The day has long vanished when an author can count on publishers to do extensive promotion on their books, unless he or she is already a bestselling name. Sad, but true.

In these economic times the marketing budgets have shrunk. It is critical for authors to use every means at their disposal to get the word out. And the topic needs to be one that is of general interest—not overly specialized.

Kirk: What’s been the most rewarding experience in your editing career?

Terry: I love interacting with authors who work hard to improve their books. The best writers are those willing to go through numerous drafts in order to deliver something that is polished and powerful. I have had the honor of working with some exceptional writers—people whose talent far outstrips my own—but have been able to help them make a good book even better. Few things are more satisfying than that!

Kirk: How do you think faith and the arts interact?

Terry: Do you have a couple of hours to talk about this? J This is one of my favorite topics. We are created in the image of God, and one of the obvious characteristics of God is that He is a creator. We have the privilege and enjoyment of also being what Tolkien referred to as “sub-creators,” those who rearrange God’s creation in fresh and beautiful ways. And I believe that God speaks to us very powerfully in beauty. I am often moved more deeply by a song or a painting or a film than I am by most sermons. To be an artist—with words or paints or film or clay or a quilt or whatever—is a high and important calling. But Christian art should not be propaganda for the Christian cause. It should be about truth. Art is all about truth-telling, including uncomfortable truths, and we all need to be challenged and inspired in ways that the arts best accomplish.

Kirk: You’re an avid C.S. Lewis fan and have written books and spoken often about him. When did you fall in love with his writing?

Terry: I discovered Lewis while in college. At first, his biggest impact upon me was through his intellectual arguments for the reasonableness of faith. And while I still enjoy that aspect of Lewis, there is also an aspect of his writing that is more mythic and intuitive that moves me at an even deeper level. He was unquestionably one of the greatest creative communicators in the history of the church. I never tire of his work. When I reread his books, I’m always discovering new insights that I missed before.

Kirk: What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from Lewis that you can encourage writers with today?

Terry: I think that one of his talents was in finding fresh metaphors for traditional ideas. It is far too easy for Christians to use phrases and words and ideas that have become clichés. This makes for lazy writing, and these clichés have little power to actually move anyone. We might nod in agreement, but they usually fail to move us. We need to find fresh ways to speak, fresh metaphors and word pictures that surprise and sneak past the defenses of our readers. It is often in surprising our reader with a “new way of saying it” that we create an openness in the heart and mind which allows the truth to slip past all the defenses and make the reader vulnerable to hearing the Word afresh. Lewis, in both fiction and nonfiction, was so good at doing just that. That should be the goal of every Christian writer—take the timeless, and make it new.
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Thanks again to Kirk for letting us share his interview with Terry.

To request an appointment to meet with Terry Glaspey, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

Undercover Director Checks Out Conference Hotel

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal confereUndercoverDirectorPinablence

When I agreed to become conference director, I never dreamed the assignment would turn me into an undercover hotel guest. But that’s exactly what happened in January.

While taking part in the NCWA* WriteTech Conference in Kirkland, WA, I checked into the Redmond Residence Inn. This renovated facility is only about five minutes from where our May writers conference will be held at Overlake Christian Church. Our out-of-town speakers will stay there, and we’ve also secured a special rate for conferees.

But was the Residence Inn a hotel we could be proud of? The list of features was impressive:

  • Enhanced studio rooms, each with a queen bed and fold-out sofa (for sleeping up to 4 people)
  • Kitchenettes in every room, with appliances and well-stocked cabinets
  • Complimentary on-site parking for registered guests
  • High-speed Internet
  • Flat-screen television
  • Ergonomic desk and office chair
  • Fitness center
  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Dinette table and chairs
  • Complimentary hot buffet breakfast in main-floor dining room
  • Morning copy of USA Today
  • Grocery shopping service
  • Redmond Town Center shopping mall nearby

ResidencePorticoDirections: Even without GPS and while encountering a detour, I found the Redmond Residence Inn easily using directions I’d printed off the Internet.

Parking: It helped to know that the hotel’s portico and entrance were in back of the building. I left my vehicle under the portico for a few minutes while I checked in. Once I had my room key-card, I swiped it through a box in front of the parking lot. The gate opened, and I parked for free.

ResidenceBedRoom amenities: The clerk directed me to the elevator, and I took my luggage up to my third-floor room. The studio had a queen bed, large flat-screen TV, foldout sofa bed that could accommodate two more guests, an easy chair, a desk with a lamp, and a small dinette table with two chairs.

During my stay I used the stairs almost exclusively. The stairwell was close to my room and provided great exercise. If I’d had more time, I would have checked out the hotel’s fitness center too.

ResidenceKitchenKitchen: The kitchen was equipped with a sink, stainless-steel dishwasher, refrigerator with freezer, 2-burner glass-top electric range, coffeemaker, and microwave. The cabinets were stocked with dishes, glasses, stemware, stainless-steel pots and pans, a colander, measuring cup, toaster, nested mixing bowls with lids, and a couple of microwave-safe cooking dishes.

SnackBasketIn-room food: Knowing ahead of time about a microwave being in each room, I brought my own supper to heat up. That saved me time and money—plus, I didn’t have to dine out alone. For an evening snack, I took advantage of the package of microwave popcorn left in a basket for guests. To accompany the popcorn, I wanted a cup of decaffeinated tea, but the only tea bags in the basket were caffeinated. LobbyBeverageCartHowever, in the main-floor lobby, I found a well-equipped beverage station with hot water, regular and decaf coffee, ice water, and a dozen varieties of tea bags.

Shopping: Sundown comes early in January, so, after I unpacked a few things and while it was still light, I stopped at the hotel’s desk and asked if the Redmond Town Center shopping mall was close enough to walk to. “Oh, my yes!” they said, handing me a brochure and explaining how to get to my destination. At the mall’s security office, I inquired about getting 150 of the brochures to include in our conference registration packets. It just so happened that they had received their order of brand new brochures that very day. The woman at the desk handed me a stack on the spot.

The most difficult part of dishing up my bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal was deciding which toppings I wanted.

The most difficult part of dishing up my bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal was deciding which toppings I wanted.

Hot-buffet breakfast: The next morning, the tremendous variety of selections at the complimentary breakfast buffet blew me away. The service begins at 6:00 a.m. on weekdays and at 7:00 a.m. on weekends.

Although the conference will feature a continental breakfast on Friday and Saturday, hotel guests who need heartier fare will find everything they need—and then some—at this buffet.

I appreciated the fresh fruits and veggies.

I appreciated the fresh fruits and veggies.

Choices seemed endless: hot and cold cereals, bagels, muffins, donuts, breads for toast, and waffles—all with numerous topping selections. In warming containers were red-skinned potato wedges, sausage patties, french toast, and scrambled eggs.

High-protein, low-carb, low-fat, or whatever your preference, you can probably find exactly what fits your dietary needs.

High-protein, low-carb, low-fat, or whatever your preference, you can probably find exactly what fits your dietary needs.

Ice kept fresh fruits and vegetables chilled, yogurts were at another station, and hot and cold drinks were readily available as well.

Networking areas: The main floor lobby features a lounge area with upholstered seating arranged in groupings conducive to conversation. Not far away is the breakfast area with tables and chairs that are perfect for setting up laptops at other times of the day and schmoozing with fellow writers.

OutdoorPatioNot to be missed is the outdoor patio area with even more seating options, some of which encircle a cozy fire pit.

Challenges: At first I had a problem finding an Internet connection. The dialog window said I was connected, but when I tried to check e-mail using Mozilla’s Firefox browser, I got an “Untrusted Connection” error message I couldn’t bypass. The same thing happened when I tried to log in at social-media sites. I finally opened Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to connect to e-mail. That brought up the Residence Inn’s welcome page requiring me to choose either the regular (free) connection or opt for a premium ($4.95/day) connection. After that I accessed the sites I wanted and switched back to Firefox with no further problem.ComputerOnDesk

The novelist in me wonders if being in Microsoft’s home town had anything to do with the glitch.

Reserving your spot:

The Residence Inn will hold a block of studio rooms for us until April 16, 2015, at the special price of only $99** per night. Want to save even more money? Why not bring a few writing friends and share a studio room (sleeps up to 4) or a 2-bedroom suite (sleeps up to 6)?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll mention that the general manager gave me the complementary overnight stay so I could check out the hotel. My experience was such a pleasant one that I’m confident the Residence Inn will serve our conferees well.

If you haven’t registered yet for the Renewal, there’s still time to get in on the early-bird conference rate good until April 6. Sign up today!

* NCWA: Northwest Christian Writers Association

** Hotel room rates are subject to applicable state and local taxes (currently 12.5%) in effect at the time of check-out.

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DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.