Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Rebecca Irwin-Diehl with Judson Press

Give us a snapshot of the company you represent. 
Judson Press is the historic publishing ministry of American Baptist Churches USA, the most culturally and theologically diverse of the Baptist conventions. We publish ecumenically for trade and church audiences, with a particular emphasis in the moderate Baptist and multicultural market. A niche publisher, Judson specializes in practical resources for the church and church leaders, offering only nonfiction titles. We also publish The Secret Place, a quarterly devotional magazine composed entirely of submissions from freelance writers, and Judson Adult Bible Journeys, a quarterly Sunday school curriculum written by and for American Baptists.

How can a person best prepare for appointments with editors? 
DO your homework on the editor’s publishing company before you show up for the appointment. (DON’T pitch an academic title to a fiction house, or vice versa. DON’T bring your personal memoir to an editor whose house clearly states that it doesn’t publish autobiography.) DO come equipped with a concise verbal summary of your book project; I want to hear you talk about your project (2-3 minute overview). DON’T hand over a 25-page proposal (much less the full manuscript) and expect the editor to read it then and there and respond—all in a 15-minute appointment! DO bring a copy of the proposal in case the editor requests it, but speaking personally, if I like what you pitch, I would prefer that you email the formal proposal to me after our meeting. (I’m flying home and prefer to travel light! Plus, I want to see if you can follow through on my first and simplest request. J) DO be prepared to answer clarifying questions about your content, audience, and promotional strategies. DO bring your own questions if you’re more in the inquiry stage; most of us are happy to talk process and basics with a new author!

What type of writer are you hoping to meet with at the conference? 
I’m seeking writers who are passionate about their topic and informed about their intended readers. Good focus around topic and audience, combined with flexibility and openness to constructive critique are a must. And a willingness to put themselves out there—in social media, in media interviews, in soliciting endorsements and speaking engagements—are increasingly essential, even for authors seeking traditional publishing. We want to be partners with our authors in making the most of every opportunity to put the good news of their work into as many hands as possible.

Anything you would like to add? 
I enjoy coming to writers’ conferences, not only for the potential projects I hope to discover but also because part of my ministry in publishing is cultivating authors out of aspiring writers. It is both adult education and a kind of pastoral call for me. So, I’m looking forward to meeting a new crop of writers with a lot of good questions to ask, as well as to discovering the more experienced folks who will have more polished presentations to make.

On the Web:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Cindy Sproles, Christian Devotions & Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

I welcome Cindy Sproles today. She is Executive Editor of Christian Devotions, and heads up
Devotional & Non-fiction Acquisitions  for
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Give us a snapshot of the company you represent. 

I represent and Lighthouse Publishing of theCarolinas. 
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas is an Indie Publisher. We are NOT a self-publisher. You do NOT pay us to publish your book. (There is a Lighthouse Publishing that is a self-pub. This IS NOT us.) Lighthouse is growing and becoming a solid name in the publishing industry, carrying a full line of imprints in romance, contemporary, southern fiction, non-fiction and devotionals.

Christian Devotions ( is a ministry of daily devotions. We publish devotions year round for the Christian reader, teens and children. is our site for children, reaches out to teens, and is our mission oriented site. Our goal is to spread the word and help writers gain their first opportunity at publication.       

How can a person best prepare for an appointment with you?

Come with a business card, a one-sheet, a devotion and the first 5 pages of your book. We only have 15 minutes so let's make the best of that. Check out our websites before you come to be sure we are publishing what you are writing. I look forward to meeting you all.

What type of writer are you hoping to meet with at the conference?

I'm looking for writers who have the heart of Christ. Writers who are willing to work for God and who once they receive a contract remain gentle in spirit and trusting that God will use their work.

Anything you would like to add or any specific needs?

Christian Devotions publishes devotions on the web 365 days a year. Christian Devotions loves new writers. It's our goal to help new writers break into the the publishing market by giving them some of their first published works on-line. We look for writers whose heart shines through their devotions. We do not want Sunday School lessons, rather we want devotions with a small story that drives home a point...something readers can relate to. Christian Devotions is a non-paying website, however, we offer in return, a huge platform for the writer to draw from and the opportunity for first time publication.

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas:  I acquisition non-fiction and devotionals (SonRise Books). In non-fiction, I'm looking for solid stories that need to be told. I don't want depressing, rather books that show the hardship and how God has fully worked them into victory. I am not interested in "mom" books. The market is flooded with these, however, if there is a good story about a child that overcomes or a family that overcomes, I would be interested in looking at it.  I will look at solid Christian helps, church staff resources and good non-fiction stories. If you write church staff resources you absolutely MUST have a tremendous platform.

For SonRise Books:  I am looking for devotionals that are thought- provoking, offer good relatable stories, and drive home the scriptural application. Think Oswald Chambers, Jesus Calling, or Streams in the Desert. I will look at niche books but currently devotionals flooding the shelves. It needs to stand heads above the rest and it needs to have meat to it - not just "skimming the surface" Christianity. It's time to deepen the reader's knowledge and relationship with God.

On the web:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Write-to-Publish Faculty: Marti Pieper and How to Get Published Class

Give us a snapshot of your continuing class.

How to Get Published: You dream of becoming a published writer, but how do you cross that invisible line? In this continuing class, I present tips on what you need to do—and who you need to be—to reach your publication goals. Receive practical ideas on topics ranging from focusing your ideas and structuring your work to writing query letters, self-editing, and developing your voice. Each session examines a common blunder made by beginning writers and uses real-life examples to reveal the character qualities and practical steps that help you navigate the challenging journey toward publication.

What is the most important thing a student can learn from your four-day class?

I would say the most important thing a student can learn from this class is that who you are as a person (character) is just essential for your journey toward publication as how you write (craft). In this class, we'll take time to discuss both. I love to teach from my mistakes and hope to prevent other writers from making the same ones.

Is there anything an attendee can do to prepare themselves prior to the conference?

Of course. Go over the conference schedule and learn as much as you can about the faculty and classes offered. You can find many helpful articles online about preparing for conferences (if, like many writers, you're an introvert, check out my link here). Pray about your choices and pre-select your schedule, but be open to changes, too. And don't forget to keep writing while you wait for the conference. If you plan to meet with agents and editors (and you should), you'll want to present your best work. Finally, relax. All of us who serve on faculty want to see you succeed. You'll be among friends who happen to be publishing professionals. Come to the conference with an attitude of expectation and watch as God surprises, delights, and instructs you.

Anything you would like to add?

I always bring a basket of chocolate to my classes. That way, no matter how the teaching goes, I know my students will take away something wonderful. If you're interested in writing for teen girls, feel free to make an appointment with me to discuss our needs at Sisterhood magazine. I'll also be glad to talk to you about your nonfiction book, book proposal, devotionals or articles. And (happy dance) my most recent collaborative book, Escape the Lie: Journey to Freedom from the Orphan Heart releases May 20. I hope to have some of the first copies with me at Write-to-Publish.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Amanda Luedeke with MacGregor Literary

Today, Amanda Luedeke of Macgregor Literary answers a few questions about agents. She is also the author of The Extroverted Writer, a book that guides writers, who are mostly introverts, through the world of online marketing. 

Why is an agent important in today’s publishing environment?

With so many options available to authors, it's difficult to know what to do, when, and how. A great agent will guide an author through those decisions so that they can come out with the best business model for them. An agent will also help identify scams or shady companies (there are a LOT of them these days), and an agent can shop sub rights to projects that are self-published. Last year I sold audio rights to a few self-pubbed YA novels, and currently I have a publisher in Germany considering a self-pubbed women's fiction project. 

What type of a writer are you hoping to meet with at the conference?

I am always intrigued by authors who are polished and put-together…ones who have done their research on me, the industry, and the process. I'm also looking for writers who are hard-workers. There is nothing easy about being an author. It typically means waking at 5am to squeeze in writing time, and sacrificing free time to pursue marketing opportunities. So this component is very important to me, because the last thing I want is to find myself playing the role of "nagging parent" with my clients.

What would you like us to know about your agency?

As I write this, we are the fifth most deal-making agency in the nation (according to Publisher's Marketplace). We do a lot of business. We are respected in the Christian and secular markets. And we are serious about working with our clients long-term.  

Anything you would like to add?


If you are new to this, it's okay to feel overwhelmed. This is a big, old industry. But everyone on faculty is at this conference because they want to help and mentor. So feel free to reach out to us, and soak up what you learn. And if you realize that your writing or your idea or your platform isn't ready yet (this often happens with newbies!), determine to do what you need to debut a "new you" at next year's Write-To-Publish.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Write-to-Publish Faculty: Balow and Stobbe Share About Agencies

Over the next few weeks I will feature interviews by various faculty members of the Write-to-Publish Conference. The conference will be held June 4-7 in the Chicago area, on the campus of Wheaton College, although not a function of the college.

Dan Balow 
of The Steve Laube Agency

Dan Balow

Why is an agent important in today’s publishing environment? 

Two primary reasons...first, publishers are reducing their acquisitions staff and relying more on agents than ever, second, the contractual/business/marketing sides of the business are getting more and more complex. Few authors have the knowledge and background to be able to navigate on their own.

What type of a writer are you hoping to meet with at the conference? 

Always looking for fresh voices with creative ideas to communicate timeless truths. Also, people who are committed to the craft.

What would you like us to know about your agency?  

The Steve Laube Agency operates in a way that builds long-lasting relationships and trust. We represent over 175 authors with four agents who combined have over 100 years of experience in Christian publishing. 

Anything you would like to add?  

The author-agent relationship is as much a personal connection as it is a business arrangement. There is a correct match.

  On the web:

Les Stobbe
Les Stobbe of the 
Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency

Why is an agent important in today’s publishing environment?

Most publishers today insist your proposal come via an agent, which means that to get to an editor you have to have an agent. Secondly, without an agent you get a basic contract. With an agent he or she will usually be able to get upgrades in the contract. Finally, an agent becomes your advocate if there are problems with the editing being done, the cover displeases you, etc. 

What type of a writer are you hoping to meet with at the conference?

I love adult fiction and non-fiction writers who have done their homework, but at a conference I am wiling to help anyone. 

What would you like us to know about your agency?

I am known for helping first book authors. 

Anything you would like to add?

I am a writer's best friend because I've been a writer, editor, president of a publishing house, and longterm agent.

On the web:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Shoemaker: Author and WTP Conference Faculty Member

Tim Shoemaker, author of a recently released three-book series for Zonderkidz, is my guest. First, my review and then Tim answers some questions.


I just finished reading Back Before Dark, the second book in the Code of Silence series. It is a book targeted for middle readers, especially boys, but this adult found it very intriguing and difficult to put down.

It is a book about four junior high school friends, three boys and a girl. In an incidence at a local park, one of the boys is abducted. The story plays out over the next few days as the trio and the police search for their friend, Gordy. The action will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Three of the friends are believers. Tim did a good job of keeping the belief aspect subtle enough so religion is not an overblown issue, but a way of life.

At the end of the book, he included a section of advice to the young reader. He discusses friendship, how to avoid being in a situation where you may be abducted and what to do if you are.

I chose to read a book for youth because Tim is teaching the fiction track at the Write-to-Publish Conference, June 4-7, where I met him a few years ago. After reading the book, I’m anxious to hear him teach the fiction track class.

Welcome, Tim

Tell us a little about the Code of Silence novels, including your target audience, as I know they deal with serious issues.

Middle grade is the prime target for the contemporary suspense Code of Silence series.  The books work well for younger kids, of course, and even adults.  They are designed to pull in reluctant readers. The three-book series is about a small group of ordinary friends—and the extraordinary things that happen to them during their last year in junior high.
Code of Silence- Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro witness a violent robbery and fearing for their lives, make a pact to hide what they know. Trapped in a code of silence, they must face the consequences of choosing right or wrong—when both options have a price.
Back Before Dark- When Gordy is abducted, Cooper struggles with guilt and takes increasing risks to find him.  With no ransom call and no leads, everyone fears the worst.  Cooper can’t live with that—and makes a decision that just might get him killed.

Below the Surface- Cooper and friends just want to enjoy their summer vacation with no mysteries and no trouble.  And no way is that going to happen.  Old fears and new dangers are just below the surface—and have a way of finding them.

We definitely deal with some serious issues. Honesty. Friendship. Fear. But I’m very careful how I handle them. It is my hope that in some small way I can help show kids how to grow into men and women of honor.

Back Before Dark was set in your hometown of Rolling Meadows. Has this brought interest to the youth in your area because I know you teach writing classes in local schools?

Both Code of Silence and Back Before Dark are set in Rolling Meadows.  It has definitely given the series some added local interest.  When people can identify the places in the story it becomes just that much more real to them.  And the schools and libraries really embrace the series.  One local junior high bought ninety copies of Code of Silence so they could make it a classroom read.

I like the fact that readers can go to the places described in the books.  When I was writing Back Before Dark I actually had to work out the kidnapper’s escape route.  That was kind of creepy. But the great thing was that I could do that.  I could time it out and make sure everything I wrote was more real.

The third book is set in the area of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  This is a familiar place for people in the Chicago area.  There are some places in the book where the kids go—and I think the story pops off the page just a little more because I’ve been to all those spots.

Give a brief description of what you will be teaching in the Fiction Track at the Write-to-Publish Conference, June 4-7.

This will be a really fun and informative class.  Those attending will learn some things they’ve never heard before—or not in the way I’ll present it.  And their fiction will improve and get stronger immediately. Guaranteed. We’ll talk about characterization, point of view, showing instead of telling, dialogue, creating a powerful scene, and so much more. But we’ll sink in and give the conferees some real meat. I won’t just tell them how to make their fiction gain strength… I’ll show them!

Tim speaks at churches, conferences, youth worker conventions and other events. He is the author of eight books, including the Code of Silence novels. He can be found on the web at


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hospitality Along the Trail

For those of you who don’t follow me on FaceBook (my page), last Friday I completed my first draft of a novel. I have started more than one novel, but I had never finished one.  Now, I have a rough draft and the rewriting begins.
Huddleston Farmhouse Today

My novel takes place at a stagecoach inn along the National Road in Indiana during the 1830s. Part of my rewriting will also involve filling some holes in my research. Today and in the future I would like to share some of the unique things I have found through my research. The Huddleston Farmhouse is one example of a type of stopping place for stagecoaches along the route.

The National Road was the first major improved highway in the United States built by the federal government. It was to be a road that would help open up more Western expansion. This road began in Cumberland, Maryland and stretched to Vandalia, Illinois.

Along the road various taverns and inns sprang up to accommodate travelers and provide a place for the horses to rest or be replaced. There were also families along the road who opened their homes to the travelers. The Huddleston family had a farmhouse in Cambridge City, Indiana, near the Ohio border. The Huddleston's had eleven children, but still opened their home to weary travelers. 

I would love to visit this farmhouse in the near future.