Michael Duncan Explains Path to Indie Publishing

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

MichaelDuncanWhenever he preaches, NCWA board member and area pastor Michael Duncan receives immediate feedback. “I can watch the effect of my words in the eyes of those who are listening—and in the yawns of those who are not,” he says.

But he can’t see the faces of those who’ve purchased his books. “We writers want to know that our work is well received—wanted, even needed,” he points out. “It’s hard to continually remain motivated to do something when there are very few quantifiable indicators that the work is valued.”

As with many Christian authors, Michael tries to console himself with the idea that it’s not about the numbers. We truly do write to honor and obey God. But how can any of us know that our work is reaching anyone?

There is one singular gauge: sales. “Every book sale, to me, is like having another person come into the worship center—filling up the sanctuary with hungry hearts,” Michael says.

In his quest to continue honoring God through his writing and to fill up the “sanctuary” with hungry readers, Michael has authored or coauthored multiple fiction and nonfiction books through both traditional and independent venues. At the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, he will teach a workshop on the basics of indie publishing:

7 Keys to Becoming a Successful Indie Author7 Keys to Becoming a Successful Indie Author – Learn from someone who’s been there what it takes to be a successful indie author; investing in your career; selecting great covers; tips on selling books, building your platform, and growing your readership; as well as how to diversify for added benefit.

At the Renewal, Michael will also serve as worship leader in the general sessions.

To learn the basics of publishing your work independently and/or to request an appointment with one of our seven editorial reps at this year’s conference, sign up for the Renewal today!

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, 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 also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Don Milam’s Nontraditional Path to Becoming an Editor

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Don Milam didn’t take a boring route on his way to becoming Acquisitions Consultant with Whitaker House Publishers.DonMilam

After he graduated from Prairie Bible College in Alberta, Canada, Don and his bride joined the staff of Philadelphia Teen Challenge, working in the inner city with drug addicts. After two years, they exchanged the streets of Philadelphia for the streets of Maputo, Mozambique (East Africa), where they opened a drug rehabilitation center at the request of the Portuguese Department of Health. In 1975, Communists took control of the country. Don was arrested and spent ten months in prison.

Following his release, he pastored for ten years in Pennsylvania. For eighteen years he was head of Author Development at Destiny Image Publishers, and then he joined Whitaker House.

Scott Spiewak of Fresh Impact Public Relations Group says, “Don is an expert in the field of publishing and has a knack for finding great authors.”

Don will be looking for great authors at the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal this May 13–14. He will also teach two workshops:

10 Ways to Become a Better Writer1) 10 Ways to Become a Better Writer – If you want to be a complete writer, you need a strategy. Out of his experience as author and acquisitions editor, Don Milam will share an abundance of tips that you can use to devise your own personalized strategy for becoming a successful writer.

Successful Writing Results from Creative Thought + Dynamic Experience2) Successful Writing Results from Creative Thought + Dynamic Experience – Writing doesn’t begin with the words someone types on a computer. That output is simply a visible manifestation of a mixture of ideas, thoughts, revelations, imaginations, intuitions, and feelings, combined with a person’s experiences. Too often a book suffers a premature birth because the author didn’t experience the truth or fully engage the thought before sending off the manuscript. Let Don guide you into learning to think in a way that will help ensure the permanence of your writing.

As an author himself (The Lost Passions of Jesus and The Ancient Language of Eden), Don has a heart for conferees who want to discuss their book projects with him. He is interested in seeing nonfiction proposals on Christian living and growth, spirituality, marriage, parenting, counseling, relationships, and leadership.

To hear Don speak or to request an appointment with him or with one of the other six editorial representatives at this year’s Renewal, register today!

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, 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 also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

The Myth of Perfection

NCWA welcomes Joe Bunting from The Write Practice in the final post of his writing prompts.

This post contains excerpts from Joe’s e-book. See links following post to obtain the complete version.

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Perfect is no place for a writer. Listen to me: you will never write a perfect novel, short story, essay, blog post, sentence.

Everything you write will be criticized. If it’s not, then it has been ignored. Your job is not to write perfect sentences. Stop thinking it is. No one will praise you. They will either ignore or criticize you. (Even if you are lauded, you will care more about the criticism than the praise.) That is your fate if you want to write.

I want to write. So I will write pieces that are open to criticism (even from myself). Pieces I know are imperfect. I will publish them anyway.

You have to write something you’re not an expert in. You have to begin the novel you aren’t ready to begin. You have to write the blog post that is immature and incomplete. This idea that you will be perfect is a myth. It is a lie from the enemy of creativity, the one who wants to destroy your life.

You will never be perfect. This is a good thing, of course, because your readers aren’t perfect either, and how could you ever relate to them in your writing if you were perfect? People don’t need you to be perfect for them.

They need you to be so completely honest about yourself and the world that they realize they are not alone. There’s someone out there who gets it. (There will be those who demand perfection and are disappointed when you don’t measure up. Slough them off like a too large jacket. You don’t need them.)

The opposite of perfectionism is vulnerability…

The Prompt
The most vulnerable (and therefore interesting) people are children. Describe a child, either one you know or one you’ve made up.

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Excerpts and writing prompt from Joe Bunting’s e-book,

14 Prompts, available by clicking on the link.

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Joe Bunting is the founder of  The Write Practice. He loves the sound of a good sentence and would like to think of himself as a literary snob but can be kept up far too late by a page turner meant for thirteen year old girls. He would like for you not to know that though. He and his wife, Talia, enjoy playing backgammon and Angry Birds on her iPhone. Click here to view his website.

Fall

NCWA welcomes Joe Bunting from The Write Practice in a series of writing prompts.

This post contains excerpts from Joe’s e-book. See links following post to obtain the complete version.

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The night sky fell and turned my skin blue-grey and my skin goosebumped with cold then smoothed over like an ice cube but still I stayed outside, crouching, then kneeling, then lying prone like a sniper staring at the yellow tree which was disappearing into the night.

The next day the leaves on the tree were gone.

The Prompt
What is your fall moment?

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Excerpts and writing prompt from Joe Bunting’s e-book,

14 Prompts, available by clicking on the link.

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Joe Bunting is the founder of  The Write Practice. He loves the sound of a good sentence and would like to think of himself as a literary snob but can be kept up far too late by a page turner meant for thirteen year old girls. He would like for you not to know that though. He and his wife, Talia, enjoy playing backgammon and Angry Birds on her iPhone. Click here to view his website.

Write For Your City

NCWA welcomes Joe Bunting from The Write Practice in a series of writing prompts.

This post contains excerpts from Joe’s e-book. See links following post to obtain the complete version.

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I had the pleasure of interviewing poet Paul Willis recently. Paul is the current poet laureate of Santa Barbara, California, the city of my childhood. One thing he said particularly struck me: “I guess when you’re a poet laureate you’re a poet for a particular group of people. It makes you think of the whole community, and how poetry can be part of their lives.”

What if you wrote for your city? To your city? How would that change your voice?

I once wrote a prose poem to a group of friends. Sitting around a table full of Italian food, I read it to them. Never has anyone listened so intently to anything I’ve written. Since they knew it was for them, for them alone, they engaged with it more deeply than if it were written to some abstract audience.

What if you made yourself the unofficial poet laureate for your city? What would you write?

The Prompt
Write something for your city. What will you say? How will you support the life of your community?

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Excerpts and writing prompt from Joe Bunting’s e-book,

14 Prompts, available by clicking on the link.

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Joe Bunting is the founder of  The Write Practice. He loves the sound of a good sentence and would like to think of himself as a literary snob but can be kept up far too late by a page turner meant for thirteen year old girls. He would like for you not to know that though. He and his wife, Talia, enjoy playing backgammon and Angry Birds on her iPhone. Click here to view his website.

The Soldier And the Most Vulnerable Man In the World

NCWA welcomes Joe Bunting from The Write Practice in a series of writing prompts.

This post contains excerpts from Joe’s e-book. See links following post to obtain the complete version.

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I heard the story of a man named Ed who has Lou Gehrig’s disease. Doctors told him he had two to five years to live. Ten years later, he is still alive. It’s something of a miracle. However, sometimes he can’t button his shirt on his own, his hands are frozen stiff and turned inward in strange shapes, and he talks slowly, like a man whose voice has almost run out.

When his son was sent to Iraq, he said, “Enough is enough, God.” What was to be done, though? He and his wife drove his soldier son to the airport. “I think he was trying to be brave,” Ed told us. In the back seat, there was the soldier, the stoic.

In the front, watching him and fearing for him, sat the father, the disabled man whose vulnerabilities were visible before all the world.

Today I went to a conference in Chicago…which reminded me I have a story that matters. You have a story that matters, too.

In fact, our stories can change the world. However, right now I feel weak. It’s late. I don’t really want to be writing right now. The words I’m writing are not very good. I don’t have anything to teach. My voice feels like it has long run out. But at least I’m here, being brave. This is the battle going on inside of all of us, writers or not. It’s a battle between the stoic soldier and the vulnerable, disabled one. A good writer, I think, gives voice to both.

The Prompt
Write a story about a disabled man and a soldier. What do they say to each other? How do they interact?

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Excerpts and writing prompt from Joe Bunting’s e-book,

14 Prompts, available by clicking on the link.

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Joe Bunting is the founder of  The Write Practice. He loves the sound of a good sentence and would like to think of himself as a literary snob but can be kept up far too late by a page turner meant for thirteen year old girls. He would like for you not to know that though. He and his wife, Talia, enjoy playing backgammon and Angry Birds on her iPhone. Click here to view his website.

How to Be Creative When You’re Busy

NCWA welcomes Joe Bunting from The Write Practice in a series of writing prompts.

 This post contains excerpts from Joe’s e-book. See links following post to obtain the complete version.

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…Sir Ken Robinson said: “The arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak, when you’re present in the current moment, when you’re fully alive.”

The ever-present enemy of this is busyness. Today is a busy day. I have to wash and iron my white shirt. I need to make an emergency run to the cleaners to get my suit pressed for an event tonight (yes, I realize I should have done this earlier).

My wife is stressed. I’m stressed. We’ll be running around like busy fools today. A trip to the dry cleaner is not the stuff of literature, and it’s impossible to create anything interesting in a rushed state of mind. However, these busy days often have the most potential for stories to spawn from them, and if you’re paying attention, you can capture them no matter how busy you are. Here are a few tricks I use to write when I’m busy:

1. Carry writing tools with you

On the day of my wedding, I found a napkin…and sat on a couch to write out my thoughts and a few key images (like the half-dozen bees circling those beautiful purple flowers right next to the chairs where our guests would sit, or the thin crescent of the moon just peaking above the pines and poplars).

2. If completely rushed, use your phone as a notepad.
If you have a fancy phone, it probably has an app that you can use to jot down a few notes. However, my phone is stupid, so when I have an idea for my novel or for my other writing projects, I just send a text to myself.

3. Find moments to escape.
No matter how rushed the day is, there are always a few minutes here or there. (Confession: In emergencies I’ve excused myself for a long trip to the “bathroom” to get some notes on paper.)

4. Choose to take advantage of downtime.
Most busy days are of the “hurry up and wait” variety. Once I ran through Budapest to catch a train, only to find out it didn’t leave for six hours. So what did I do? I sat down on the gumstained cement ground inside Budapest’s beautifully run-down train station and wrote.

There are always moments to write. You just have to be disciplined enough to take advantage of them when they appear.

5. Practice the art of haiku.
One reader…suggested writing haiku, a form of poetry invented in Japan consisting of one five-syllable line, one seven-syllable line, and one five-syllable line. It’s short, and thus perfect for the rushed writer (you can even publish your haikus on Twitter).

6. Wake up to the day.
To be an artist of any kind you must make a commitment to consistently “wake up” to the present throughout the day. You have a busy day ahead of you. Tomorrow will be busy. The next day will be busy. There is no alternative but to wake up, to write right now, to recreate your crazy busy life and the crazy busy lives of others into art.

Discussion Question: Have you been present today? What do you do to “wake up”?
The Prompt
Reflect on your busy day and on the present moment. Write about it.

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Excerpts and writing prompt from Joe Bunting’s e-book,

14 Prompts, available by clicking on the link.

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Joe Bunting is the founder of  The Write Practice. He loves the sound of a good sentence and would like to think of himself as a literary snob but can be kept up far too late by a page turner meant for thirteen year old girls. He would like for you not to know that though. He and his wife, Talia, enjoy playing backgammon and Angry Birds on her iPhone. Click here to view his website.