Sunday, May 21, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Ginger Kolbaba, Nonfiction Continuing Class and Manuscript Makeovers


Please give us a description of your Writing Nonfiction Continuing Class.

Writers write more nonfiction than anything else—and I see an awful lot of awful nonfiction writing! So in this class, we’ll sharpen our writing skills for all our nonfiction work—from articles, to blog posts, to memoirs and books. You can even make your recipe writing stronger! We’ll cover tips to write clearly and concisely, how to add description and why that’s essential, what to put in and what to leave out, how to research and capture great interviews, how to avoid common writing mistakes, and how to revise and polish your content.


Who should attend your class?
This class is for beginners and intermediate—although to be fair, it’s a great refresher for the “expert” writer too.

Anything you would like to add?
Sometimes we get this idea that we just sit and type and brilliance happens. But great writing is a lot of wrestling. When you know what you actually need to wrestle with, you have a greater chance at getting published. My class will help you with your wrestle mania training. 

Manuscript Makeovers:
I’m also leading the manuscript makeover class on Thursday night. We still have some openings. It’s a great opportunity to get more personal coaching—and it’s available for both fiction and nonfiction writing. [http://writetopublish.com/manuscripts_new.htm]


Who should schedule an appointment with you?
I’m actively acquiring articles for parents of teens, tweens, adopted, and special needs children. Other than that, if you just want to hang out and ask questions about writing, editing, or favorite movies, I’m good with that too.


How can they best prepare for an appointment?
Breathe. I meet so many writers who are nervous during these appointments! No need to be. Come open to present an idea and then to listen and learn how to make it better.

Read more about Ginger Kolbaba.

June 14-17 in the Chicago area.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Carol Traver, Senior Developmental Editor, Momentum Books, Tyndale House Publishing


Tell us a little about Tyndale House and what specific area of the company you are representing?

The largest privately-held Christian publishing house in the world, Tyndale has published numerous New York Times bestsellers, including David Platt's Follow Me, Tony Dungy’s Quiet Strength,Drew Brees' Coming Back Stronger, Deanna Favre’s Don’t Bet Against Me!, Jim Tressel's The Winners Manual, Melanie Shankle's Sparkly Green Earrings, and Joel Rosenberg’s Damascus Countdown.

Though perhaps best known for the Left Behind series, Tyndale produces more than 200 fiction, non-fiction, Bible and kids' products a year for both the Christian (CBA) and the general (ABA) markets.  

As Senior Developmental Editor for the Momentum Team (Tyndale’s Non-Fiction imprint), I have acquired the NYT Bestsellers: Coming Back Stronger, by Drew Brees; Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler; The Winners Manual by Jim Tressel; Don’t Bet Against Me! by Deanna Favre; The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry; First Things First by Kurt and Brenda Warner; and Game Plan for Life by Joe Gibbs; as well as the National Bestsellers: 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life by Tommy Newberry and All In by Gene Chizik. Specializing in inspirational memoirs, Carol has worked with a wide range of authors in both the ABA and CBA markets, including: Former Victoria's Secret Model Kylie Bisutti, 4-time CrossFit Games Champion Rich Froning, Former G.O.P Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum, Grammy Award winning CREED Frontman Scott Stapp; American Idol Finalist and Grammy Award winning recording artist Mandisa Hundley, CNN anchor Christi Paul; NY Yankees World Series MVP Bobby Richardson;Former Minnesota Governor and GOP Presidential Candidate Tim Pawlenty; Ironman and US Triathlete Scott Rigsby, and Dove Award winning singer and songwriter Jeremy Camp; as well as perennial bestsellers, Melanie Shankle, Gary Chapman, Ann Voskamp, David Platt, Randy Alcorn, John Ortberg, and Jerry Jenkins.

Who do you hope to meet with during appointments?

We are always looking for strong devotional writers to write for our One Year Devotional line, and of course, we are always on the lookout for compelling memoirs. Those are the two categories where it is not necessarily vital that the author have a significant platform. Those wishing to pitch more traditional Christian Living concepts (parenting, marriage, Bible study, Self-Help, etc…) are required to have a solid platform (i.e. a website or blog following of 10K minimum, a strong social media presence (5K minimum on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram, and/or a direct tie to a large ministry) Unfortunately, Tyndale does not publish poetry, photography, or reference titles.

How can someone prepare for an appointment with you?

Be prepared to go immediately into your pitch. Be able to tell me what your book is about in 30 seconds or less (we call this an elevator speech), who your target market is, what makes your idea unique (in other words, be familiar with your competition), and be ready to give me your own vitals quickly (blog following, social media presence, ministry ties, previous books, agency representation, etc…). Also, have a one-sheet prepared that includes all pertinent info so I can take it with me as a reminder (don’t forget to include your name and contact info). It’s fine to bring a writing sample, but please don’t expect me to read it during our appointment. If I don’t feel as though your idea would be a good fit for Tyndale, I will tell you and try to make a recommendation for a house it might be better suited to or refer you to an agent who can help you refine your idea. Please do not take this as a bad sign. Not every book works for every house. My goal is to point you in the best possible direction for your unique situation.




Read more about Tyndale House.

Write-to-Publish meets June 14-17

in the Chicago area.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Steve Bootsma of the Calvinist Cadet Corps


Tell us about the Calvinist Cadet Corps.


The Calvinist Cadet Corps has been around since 1952. The elevator speech description of us would say that we are similar to the Boy Scouts, yet fully Christian, and fully Reformed. We are a mid-week boys club program that churches can offer for boys, in their own congregation and in their community, ages 6 to 14. We provide a structure, program and materials for Christian men to work with boys, helping the boys to grow spiritually in all areas of life - devotional, mental, physical and social. Living for Jesus is the motto that we wear on our uniform and strive to fulfill.
The Cadet Quest magazine is designed for boys ages 9 to 11. We publish 7 times a year with each issue including stories, articles, projects, Bible lessons, games and puzzles. 



Who do you hope to meet with during appointments?



I’m hoping to meet with authors who understand the mind of a nine to eleven year old boy. Whether fiction or nonfiction, we need to reach the boys with what they want to read, not what adults think they want to read. From authors looking to have something published for the first time, to experienced authors with a catalog full of stories that are available for reprint rights, I’m looking to meet with those with a passion for the youth of today, the leaders of tomorrow.



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




We’re a magazine for boys that wants to present Christian life realistically and help boys relate to Christian values in their own lives. Don’t come with stories filled with female protagonists and talking animals.



Write-to-Publish meets June 14-17
in the Chicago area.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Ben Wolf, Splickety Publishing Group




Tell us about Splickety Publishing Group.


Splickety Publishing Group is your source for high-quality flash fiction in a variety of genres. If you like to read but don't have time try Splickety's magazines. You can enjoy our stories, always 1,000 words or less, and get your flash fic fix without the time commitment of a novel.



We publish three flash fiction magazines quarterly (for a total of 12 issues per year): Havok Magazine (speculative fiction), Spark Magazine (romance fiction), and Splickety Magazine (YA with various subgenres). For more information (including submission guidelines), visit www.splickety.com.


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


I'm hoping to meet writers who are experts in their genre or genres of choice who are either wanting to write some great flash fiction stories for our magazines or are looking to improve their craft by working one-on-one with a professional freelance editor. I love writers who take chances with their work, and flash fiction is one of the best genres for experimenting. I also have a special place in my heart for spec fic authors and action/adventure authors, so it's always a pleasure to meet with them as well.


How can someone best prepare for an appointment with you?


If you're coming to show me some of your awesome flash fiction, bring me the flash fiction piece itself and nothing else. I'm always happy to offer feedback on your writing if you have a sample for me to look at. Anyone looking to hire me as an editor should bring the piece they want edited (computer versions are preferred).



As a side note, anyone who primarily writes speculative fiction should come and chat with me so we can get to know each other. We weirdos need to stick together.



Give us a snapshot of your classes.



10 Steps to Better Time Management for Writers (and increase productivity amid stress)



How do you juggle a marriage, kids, a day job, volunteering at church, working with your critique group, and still have time to pursue a writing career? How do you manage the stress of so many things demanding your time and attention?



Did you know it's possible to use that stress to your advantage rather than having it weigh you down? Take this class and learn my ten-step process to get your rear end in the chair, improve your time and stress management, and enhance your writing productivity.



Writing Flash Fiction that Sells



In this class, I teach on Splickety's specialty: flash fiction, which I define as 1000 words or less. Attendees will learn what makes a flash fiction story great (elements like plot, structure, conflict, character development, etc.) and how to condense everything into such a small amount of words.



By the end of the presentation, attendees will know what it takes to write compelling flash fiction, will know where they can submit their fiction, and will hopefully do so as one step in their journey toward publication on a grander scale (i.e. a novel).



Your High Concept: Developing a Great Idea



Every story begins with a great idea, but how do you know whether your high concept is indeed great? Before you sit down to write, it’s important to have a grasp on what your high concept is. What will the book achieve? What will the book be about? What is the book’s theme? What happens throughout the course of the book? This class will address these questions and more.


Write-to-Publish meets June 14-17
in the Chicago area.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Blythe Daniel of The Blythe Daniel Agency


Tell us about The Blythe Daniel Agency.



We are a literary and marketing agency. We work with our clients through consulting and collaboration to build the right book idea and book proposal and then place our clients with the best publishers for their book. We also do publicity campaigns for authors. We’ve placed clients on Fox News, The Washington Post, CNN.com, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, CBN, Christianity Today, Guideposts, Inc., Business News Daily, and others. 



This is year 20 for me working in publishing and writing – I started in marketing at Thomas Nelson Publishers, now part of Harper Collins Christian Publishing. And for seven years I directed their publicity campaigns and then marketing campaigns before leaving to work for New York Times bestselling authors John and Stasi Eldredge. I opened the agency in 2005 to help writers find their voice and write the books they were compelled to write.

We’ve worked with hundreds of authors on publicity campaigns and agent representation. In 2015, we started our blog network, which now has over 300 bloggers, reaching into the millions with their networks. We conduct blog campaigns for publishers and authors as well as businesses.



Our clients come from nationally known businesses, churches, ministries, and media outlets. Some of these include: North Point Community Church, International House of Prayer, Focus on the Family, Proverbs 31 Ministries, Women of Faith, Dollar General, JP Morgan Chase, The Huffington Post, the Today Show, the Hugh Hewitt Show, Houston Chronicle, Christianity Today, and other popular blogs and websites.



We have done blog campaigns for FamilyLife Today, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Revell, Tyndale, and other publishers for authors: Ann Voskamp, Karen Ehman, Jennifer Rothschild, and others.

  



Who do you hope to meet with during appointments?


I will meet with anyone who has a book in the categories that we acquire. We are not acquiring young adult or adult fiction so it won’t be helpful for anyone who has this genre to meet with me. The children’s books I would look at are from authors who have published children’s books and have a strong following.



We are acquiring in Nonfiction:



Topics:

Christian Life, Spiritual Growth, Current Events, Inspirational/Narrative Non-Fiction, Business/Leadership, Church Leadership, Marriage, Parenting, Apologetics, Social Issues, Women's Issues, Cooking and Gift books concepts.


We will look at up-and-coming voices that fit these categories: ministry leaders, business leaders, pastors, journalists, counselors, and others who have an established organization or one they are a part of.



Devotionals: Will look at uniquely themed and creative devotional concepts from authors who have a strong following.



Children’s: Looking at picture book concepts that fit the Christian marketplace. Author needs to have a good-sized platform for these books.



We are not acquiring fiction, Bible studies, poetry or short stories.   





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



Writers need to see if what I’m acquiring fits their genre and book category. If so, I want them to tell me in an “elevator pitch” what their book is about, who the book is for, and how they are connected to the audience for it. I want to see how they are building their audience even if it is small. We look at blog or website unique visitors per month, online outlets the writer contributes to on a regular basis, social media presence, an active speaking schedule, and your network with other authors, bloggers and speakers.



I will meet with writers who don’t have all of these things established yet but am mainly able to help those who have built this type of platform. Even if you don’t have all of them but have some of them, show me what you have built and what you have done – not what you are planning to do. I want to see that you have already started this process of building your audience and how you are building your audience (i.e. gaining new subscribers, building your email list). Doing all of this work ahead of time really puts you at an advantage for having a sellable idea and platform from which to speak on the topic.



Come prepared to talk about what you are saying in your book that no one else is saying. You need to have a distinguishable book hook that is unique and stands out from the same topic written in other books. Do searches on Amazon and in book stores and compare the topic of your book to others that are already published. There are always at least a couple of books that are similar, and I need you to have a paragraph of how your book compares to the ones already in print. I need to see how you have developed your concept in a way that makes me say, “I haven’t thought about that before” or “I haven’t heard anyone say it like that.”



Just relax, be yourself, and come ready to talk about what you are passionate about and how it’s built into your book idea. Even if you don’t have a proposal completely ready, come and share your book idea and just be ready to talk about what stands out in your concept and how you will help reach the intended audience.   



I would like to receive a printed book proposal at my meetings, but not a one sheet.






Please give us a snapshot of your classes.



Four Questions Every Writer Should Ask



There are four cornerstones that I believe every writer should address as they write a book. Without these, the book falls flat. With them, they help make a clear presentation to the reader and have a greater chance of being picked up. They are:


1 - What is the felt need you are addressing? 

2 – What is your unique approach that hasn't been done before? 

3 – What is the practical takeaway for the reader?

4 – What are you asking the reader to consider or do that will improve his or her life?



Not sure how to make sure you are doing all four (or even one of these)? We’ll talk about how, when, and where to incorporate these into your nonfiction book projects and what happens when you don’t have them. Four questions = for your success!



What’s In and Out in Publishing?



Marketing and publishing preferences change yearly, even monthly, in what publishers want to see from writers. This is your chance to find out what’s “in” and what’s “out” in publishing topics, formats, and promotional tools. From building email subscribers, to how to utilize an online platform, and popular forms of media like podcasts, this workshop will look at: How do you stay current with technology and content? What attracts publishers and readers to your content? And more. Building this is key, and doing it effectively to make yourself marketable is essential. This will help you streamline your efforts, not duplicate them and feel overwhelmed. Understanding = utilizing best practices!





Blog to Book: How and When to Take Your Blog Content to a Book



There’s a trend of writers developing a blog and testing book ideas on it and using the blog to build a platform to eventually turn blog content into a book. How do you do this and what is attractive about this to agents and publishers? Similarly, some writers build a blog as a business and for them a book deal might come later. How do you effectively build a blog as a business or from which to write a book? How much content can you use on your blog in a book? We’ll cover all of this with examples of writers who are doing this successfully, why it’s a good idea for branding purposes, and how you can do this too.



Read more about The Blythe Daniel Agency

Write-to-Publish meets June 14-17
in the Chicago area. 










Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Rachel LaMonica Pellegrino of Little Lamb Books


Give us a description of Little Lamb Books.



Little Lamb Books is an independent publisher of faith-based fiction for elementary, middle grade, and young adult readers. We launched in 2015 and are planning to produce 8-10 titles by the end of 2017 ranging from full-color picture books to our first book in a YA trilogy. Our goal is to produce stories that encourage young readers in their faith through biblical principles, inspire their love of reading with strong characters and curious storytelling, and delight their imagination with colorful illustrations and covers.



Who do you hope to meet with during appointments?



I hope to meet agented and unagented authors who have completed, edited, and ready-to-publish manuscripts in a range of genres from humor to contemporary to fantasy. We are looking for submissions that are clean, have clever writing and make a positive impact on kids in all age categories. We do not accept nonfiction or adult fiction. Authors should review our website and our submissions guidelines to get to know our vision for our company and authors.



How about a snapshot of the classes you will be teaching.



Writing for Young Children:



There is a general mistake among writers that writing for young children is easy. The truth is that it can be quite challenging, especially if you are adding a faith element. It’s not just about being silly or simple, but about crafting a story that will grab a child visually and verbally. We will discuss a variety of publishing trends, writing tips, and pros and cons.



Writing Youth Fiction:



There are many clich├ęs today in writing for young adults, which frankly just means that your main character is a “youth”. You can write in a wide-range of genres, but there are many important factors that should be remembered in order to write successfully for young adults. We will discuss these factors and how adding a faith-base can also be done.



Five Must-haves for Author Platforms:



Are you confused about what an “Author Platform” really is? Do you wonder what agents and editors are looking for exactly? Whether you have zero books published or a plethora of titles published, every author needs to think about and plan out their platform, and this class will tell you the Five Must-haves that will help a rookie build a strong platform and a veteran assess their current platform.



Read more about Little Lamb Books.





Write-to-Publish meets June 14-17
in the Chicago area.
























Monday, May 8, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Rowena Kuo, Brimstone Fiction & Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas



Tell us about Brimstone Fiction and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. 

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas was started by the founders of Christian Devotions and has multiple imprints in fiction and nonfiction. I was the editorial director and acquisitions editor for general fiction. I was also the managing editor for Brimstone Fiction, the speculative fiction imprint of LPC.  LPC no longer plans to publish general fiction but instead will publish fiction through one of its remaining imprints, each one specializing in a specific genre.

I acquired Brimstone Fiction in February, so what was once an imprint of LPC has now become its own publishing house. Brimstone currently specializes in speculative fiction and chiller thrillers, but I plan to expand to other areas of fiction as the house grows. Brimstone will publish 8-12 books per year. I am looking for well-written, full-length stories, 60,000-100,000 words, that capture the imagination and engage the senses. We are a traditional publisher, using POD and e-book formats.  Although I no longer acquire new fiction for LPC, I still manage some of their existing non-Brimstone titles.


I am also the executive development producer for LPC Media Group, the film division of LPC. We are seeking ways to produce our books into movies and helping screenwriters find avenues to produce their work. 



Who do you hope to meet with during appointments?


I hope to meet eager, highly-motivated authors with a good story. Regardless of whether or not you have an agent, no matter the genre, or how many books you've published, if any, I would love to discuss where you are in your career and share your vision for the work you present at conference. Bringing your first chapter and a one-sheet would be a bonus during our interview. I look forward to meeting you!



Please give us a snapshot of your classes.



The Ultimate Book Proposal


Whether fiction or non-fiction, a polished book proposal could make the difference between rejection and publication. Find out what your book proposal should include to attract the attention of an editor, agent, or publishing house.





Adapting Your Story to a Screenplay


Have you ever been told that your book would make a great movie? Here's a step-by-step formula for adapting either a full-length novel into a 2-hour screenplay or a short story into a 15 min film. Discover what essential elements a screenwriter should incorporate to interest potential producers.




Research Techniques


Wiki-me-not! If history is written by the victors, then make history by writing it yourself. Discern fact from fiction, theory from law, and Churchill from Plato. State your position, but be prepared to back it up using reliable sources. Where do you start when researching material for your written work? How do you attribute researched information once you find it? And does it all have to be so boring? Whether you love or hate research, but have to do it anyway, this is the class for you.

Write-to-Publish meets June 14-17
in the Chicago area.




Sunday, May 7, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Karen Neumair, Agent, Credo Communications



Tell us about Credo Communications.


Credo Communications LLC represents some of the leading Christian thinkers and writers today. Having worked on both sides of the publisher’s desk, we know how to advocate for veteran voices with fresh ideas. We dream together, and when we have the concept solidly in focus, we take those ideas to the right publishing partner. After the proposal gets accepted, we become advocates and cheerleaders every step of the way. We are currently acquiring fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books for the Christian marketplace (CBA). We are not acquiring cookbooks, anthologies or essay collections, gift books, graphic novels, poetry, or screenplays.



Who do you hope to meet with during appointments?

I personally represent nonfiction only, particularly Christian Living/Spiritual Growth, Contemporary Issues, Family/Parenting, Inspirational, Marriage, women’s interests, etc, but very little memoir/personal narrative and only a few devotionals. These are my areas of expertise so I prefer to meet with authors writing in these categories. I can meet with fiction and children’s authors as needed, but I will likely put them in touch with one of my colleagues as a follow up.


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


I always appreciate a good One-Sheet, but in general, I would like to meet with authors who are prepared to give me a brief introduction to the book concept focusing especially on the felt need of the project (if nonfiction), along with information about themselves and their platform. I would not like to receive any hard copies of the book proposal; that can be sent by email as a follow up.



Read more about Credo Communications.

Write-to-Publish meets June 14-17
in the Chicago area.

 


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Linda Weddle of Awana



Share with us what Awana is all about.  



Awana is a global, nonprofit ministry committed to the belief that the greatest impact for Christ starts with kids who know, love and serve Him. We are in more than 10,000 churches here in the United States and in 120 countries around the world. Our estimate is that 3.7 million kids attend Awana each week ... around the world.



Who are you hoping to meet with during appointments?



I am interested in talking to those who would like to write for Awana. The different departments do not accept unsolicited submissions but will look at the information I bring back and contact the writer if they have an project that they feel is a good fit. The writer then would be given a specific assignment.




Give us a snapshot of your classes.



Writing Nonfiction for Kids



When we think of writing for kids, we often think of fiction, but any Bible story, any lesson, and most of the curriculum we write is nonfiction. How do we do this? How do we explain the Bible in kid language? How do we explain the heroes of the faith so that kids understand? How do we take a difficult concept and communicate it to the younger generation? Some tips, some discussion, some help.



Writing Instructional Material



Remember that last Bible study you wrote ... and the publisher wanted an instructor's guide? Or that last curriculum project you did and you needed leaders' help? This workshop is all about those instructional pieces you're often assigned to do as part of a writing project. We'll talk about goals, objectives, clear communication and get some instructions about writing instructions!



Read more about Awana.

Write-to-Publish meets June 14-17
in the Chicago area.



























Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Cathy Norman Peterson of the Covenant Companion






Please tell us about The Covenant Companion.


The Covenant Companion is the denominational magazine of The Evangelical Covenant Church. We were just awarded “best denominational magazine” for the second year in a row by the Evangelical Press Association. Our mission is to inform, educate, and inspire dialogue on issues that impact the church and its members.



Who do you hope to meet with during appointments?


The bulk of our articles are written by members of The Evangelical Covenant Church. When we do publish non-ECC writers it is because they are willing to write a personality profile piece or feature on a Covenant ministry. On rare occasions, we may publish thought pieces or reflections on how God has worked in an individual’s life and faith.



How can a writer prepare for an appointment with you?

  
Spend some time on our website: covenantcompanion.com. Understanding the audience you’re writing for—and the tone of our publication—is key.



How would you advise a first-time conferee to prepare for a conference?


Similarly, pay attention to what your writing niche is. Identify as specifically as possible who is the market for your story (and writers who say “everyone” usually end up with a hazy idea about their ideal reader). Study the list of speakers/faculty, and research their websites so that you understand what kind of pieces they publish.




Write-to-Publish meets June 14-17

In the Chicago area.







Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Tim Beals, Credo House Publishers



Please tell us about Credo House.

Credo House Publishers is an independent Christian publishing house I founded in 2005 after my 25 years in traditional Christian publishing. We offer a range of contracts, including full royalty contracts with an advance, co-publishing (50/50) agreements, and book packaging contracts. We publish thoughtful nonfiction, genre fiction, and illustrated children’s books, all with a strong Christian message. We have published over 150 books and average about 25 new books a year. 


Who do you hope to meet with during appointments?

I hope to meet with authors who are humble, hungry, and smart. They will have a clear message (fiction, nonfiction, and children’s), an eager audience, well-defined goals, and manuscripts ready to go. 


How can someone prepare for an appointment with you?

A proposal and samples are a must. A compelling 60-second pitch is very helpful. 



Read more about Credo House.





Write-to-Publish meets June 14-17

In the Chicago area.




Monday, May 1, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Joyce K. Ellis, Continuing Class Instructor and Prayer Connect Rep


Give a description of your continuing class, “Writing with Excellence.”

In more than 45 years of writing, editing, and teaching writing, I’ve had the opportunity of reviewing many manuscripts. I’ve given so many critiques at conferences, mentored hundreds of writing students, and edited so many articles and books for publication, and I’ve seen a number of areas that can hinder our communicating clearly to the target audience we want to reach—if we’ve even considered who our audience is. So in this continuing class, we’re going to use illustrations from actual manuscripts, in many cases and look at ways to strengthen our writing on many levels—from basic structure “traps” to the nitty gritty of using strong verbs, proper grammar, and effective punctuation. We always want to communicate more clearly, which often, in turn, helps us find editors willing to publish our work and readers willing to read it.



Is this class for all writing levels?

Definitely. Newer writers can quickly learn some essential basic skills, and more experienced writers can gain fresh insights into effectively touch the heads and hearts of their readers. I presented some of this material to a convention of editors recently, and they expressed their appreciation for clarifying many issues for them. And I love to present what can often be frustrating—or just plain boring—material in a humorous way.



Anything you would like to add?

I’ve drawn a lot of the material in these classes from the humorous grammar column called “Your Writing GPS (Grammar, Punctuation, and Style), which I wrote for five years in the Christian Communicator magazine. We’ve now compiled those columns into a book, just released, called Write with Excellence 201: a lighthearted approach to the serious matter of writing well—for Christian authors, editors, and students. Yeah, I know. It’s a long subtitle, but we want to clarify what the book is all about. And the book has some great added features that can help conferees further develop their skills, building on what they learn at the conference. Our ultimate goal is to write our best for the Master to bring Him glory. That’s what I’m praying the participants will take away from these classes.




Tell us about Prayer Connect and what you are looking for?

Prayer Connect seeks to encourage people involved in personal and organized prayer ministries—within the local church and the body of Christ at large. The “connect” part of the magazine is our coverage of news of significant prayer events and announcements of upcoming prayer gatherings. But we also publish a few personal articles about specific, fresh, significant things a person has learned about prayer. These are the kinds of articles I’m looking for while here at the conference. But the articles need to be very targeted and have strong takeaway value. Writers for Prayer Connect also need to remember that most of our readers generally have a strong biblical background and are involved in prayer ministries of some kind. I welcome the opportunity to speak to anyone who has an idea for an article they think might work for us—to help them tweak it for our audience.  


I will also be happy to talk to anyone who has general writing questions. I’ve published both fiction and nonfiction for all ages, and I’ve served as both a staff editor and freelance editor at various points in my career. I love helping newbies.






Thursday, April 27, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Marilyn Jansen of Worthy Publishing Group


Please describe your publishing house.



Worthy Publishing Group is a privately held, independent voice in inspirational publishing, based in Nashville, Tennessee. Worthy has four imprints: Worthy Books publishes a broad spectrum of genres, including current events, pop culture, biography, fiction, spiritual growth, and specialized Bibles; WorthyKids and its Ideals imprint create colorful, interactive children’s books, including VeggieTales and Berenstain Bears, for ages 2 to 8; Ellie Claire produces beautifully crafted journals, gifts, gift devotionals, and paper expressions; and Worthy Inspired publishes inspirational felt-need, personal growth, and devotional books. I will be representing Ellie Claire and Worthy Inspired.



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



Have a proposal ready and be prepared to sell it. Identify your audience. Tell me why the audience would need or want this book. Explain the felt need of this concept. Explain how you will help market this book. Know comparable books and be prepared to demonstrate why yours is needed, wanted, or how it will be different from those. Explain your connection to the content and/or expertise concerning the subject of this book. I have to sell your idea to a pub board so I need you to make me a believer.



Do you publish first-time authors?



We do publish first time authors. We love them and their enthusiasm. However, we expect them to do their homework and come to us prepared to do the work needed to launch their book. And it helps if they already have a social platform or are building one. 



Anything else you would like to add or any specific current needs?



We are always looking for devotionals that meet the felt needs of our market: keeping your life together when the world seems to be falling apart; how to live with joy when all you feel is loneliness, anxiety, or regret; how to be real in a fake news world; the adventure of being an empty-nester; etc.

Read more about Worthy Publishing Group.


Write-to-Publish meets June 14-17
in the Chicago area.




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Cynthia Ruchti, WTP Worship & Devotional Leader, Speaker and Author


Give us an overview and the purpose of the worship and devotional times and what are your priorities as you go about your planning?

One of the elements that distinguishes the Write-to-Publish Conference is its commitment to Christ-centered, God-honoring instruction, relationships, and worship. Networking is important. Growing in the writing craft is important. But growing as followers of Jesus Christ--followers who are also writers--is essential. That's why every morning session (with the exception of Wednesday) and evening general session begins with a purposeful time of worship, reflection, and aligning our thoughts, ambitions, writing goals, and our very lives with the Word of God and worship. The conference is intense. All the more reason to make the times of worship "can't miss" priorities.


I'm blessed to be tasked with leading us in worship. It would be easy for a worship leader to choose songs that please the attendees or the leader. But songs chosen for their cuteness, cleverness, or popularity often stop short of what pleases our true Audience. So just as the conference itself is couched in prayer, so are the worship times. The chief question in preparing the worship sets is, "God, what would You like to hear from these voices, these hearts?"



You will be teaching a couple of elective classes. Would you give a short description of what you will cover in each?


Thinking Outside the Book (aka, Writing for Fun and Nonprofit)

The average 1500-word magazine article can reach more readers than the average book. The most wide-reaching writing may not be the best paying. Brilliant ideas rarely serve only one purpose. If you’ve hesitated to call yourself a writer because you haven’t written a book that made the New York Times bestseller list, join this elective workshop and kiss your reticence goodbye. Bring your idea and emerge with dozens of uses for it.



Setting Yourself Up for Success

We are WHOLE people. Writers can’t separate themselves from their roles as spouse, parent, friend, child, sibling, church member, citizen… And we're multi-faceted in our wholeness. How can we set ourselves up for success in our writing careers spiritually, so we're filled and ready? Mentally, so we're trained and teachable? Emotionally, so we're adequately toughened and softened? Relationally, so we're aware and approachable? Tangibly, so we're equipped and optimized? Those are the questions we'll answer together in this elective.


"The Write-to-Publish conference is one of the highlights of my year. I arrive knowing it's an atmosphere in which God is free to move and speak. What could be better?"



Read more about Cynthia Ruchti.




Write-to-Publish meets June 14-17

in the Chicago area.