Why Should I Go to a Writer’s Conference?

I believe there are three compelling reasons to go to a writer’s conference and as many, or more, conference “genres” to choose from.

Mount Hermon Azalea

Mount Hermon Azalea

  • You will dwell with a community of writers. The benefit is not only the chance to meet other people who think like you, but you will gain affirmation, encouragement and support. Perhaps you will meet a Facebook friend or an online writer’s loop member face to face for the first time and a lasting friendship blossoms. Or you might sit next to someone at dinner   who writes in your genre or lives nearby and a friend and/or critique partner is found. “A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25.
  • There is no better place to learn the writing craft. Most conferences will have an ???????????????????????????????array of workshops and tracks for every level of writer, whether you only have a vague idea about what you want to write or you have a whole drawer full of manuscripts. You can learn specifics about the publishing world from editors and agents and gain insight to what each is looking for. And you can learn from authors who have found success and are generous in sharing what they have learned along the way. “For wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul, discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you.” Proverbs 2:10-11
  • You will have the opportunity to make an appointment with an agent, editor or mentoring author. Beyond learning, building relationships is really the core and the blessing of writer’s conferences. Editors and agents are very interested in finding excellent writers who they enjoy on a personal level as well. The ability to work together is almost as important as your ability to write. If the thought of sitting down
    A meeting waiting to happen.

    A meeting waiting to happen.

    and chatting with an industry professional fills you with anxiety, say a prayer, take a breath, and know that the person you are talking to is interested in what you have to say and wants you to succeed. One of the biggest blessings I have found at conferences of any size, is that those who are there to instruct have a big heart for what they do, and are glad you are there. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

There are many conferences to choose from, Christian and secular. And there are many good secular conferences so don’t be afraid to attend and be a light to the world. But if you desire to write for the Christian market, you really need to also attend Christian conferences. I like to break them down by size, and each has its benefits. I’ve attended the Romance Writers of America conference (this July it’s in San Antonio!) and a plus is meeting with the Faith, Hope and Love Chapter.

  • The small, weekend workshop. You can usually find one of these close to where you live, and they often are the best place to dip your toe in the water, or your pen into
    Beachside 2011      The Weight of Words

    Beachside 2011 The Weight of Words

    the ink. Especially great for newbie writers. and also those who write because they love to, but don’t necessarily aspire to be traditionally published. Choose one that is lakeside, beachside, or mountaintop for an extra dose of inspiration! My favorite is Bob Welch’s Beachside Writers with Jane Kirkpatrick. They are a dynamic duo and the weekend offers a unique blend of learning the craft and practicing your writing skills. It’s on the Oregon coast in Yachats, and I try to go as often as possible.

  • Regional conferences. Once again, most likely you won’t have to travel far to find a writer’s conference that is still small but offers much to the writer who wants the chance to meet editors from publishing houses and magazines, agents, librarians, freelance editors, and multi-published authors who enjoy “giving back” and sharing techniques or writing methods they’ve learned along their journey. Most likely there will be an amazing keynote speaker. I have just returned from the Mount Hermon
    Mount Hermon Check-In

    Mount Hermon Check-In

    Christian Writer’s Conference in Santa Cruz, CA. Author and speaker Glenna Salsbury was the inspiring keynoter this year and next year Author Robin Gunn will be speaking. The campus is in the redwoods, with dogwood and azalea in bloom, and I can’t imagine a more beautiful spot to be inspired to write. The sense of being among a community of writers is awesome, and as you drink in the beauty and tranquility you can’t help but experience God’s presence. And  the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference has fantastic conferences ranging from one-day to a full four-day conference in Portland with keynote speakers such as Author Jane Kirkpatrick, Allen Arnold of Ransomed Heart Ministries and Author Dan Walsh.

  • National conferences. This is where you will find a compendium of knowledge about all aspects of the writing world. It’s most likely located at a conference hotel and
    Enjoying friends at ACFW

    Enjoying friends at ACFW

    maybe only occasionally near you. But it’s worth the time and effort to attend. The pace might seem hectic and you will literally fall into bed each night, but you will come home filled with enthusiasm to finish the book or start the next one! My favorite one is the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference, held this year in beautiful St. Louis, MO, with keynote speaker, Author Lauraine Snelling. The conference dates this year are September 25 – 27th. And remember, if you feel overwhelmed, there is always a chapel or prayer room arranged at ACFW with Brandilyn Collins and volunteers there to pray with you and/or beside you.

I’d love to know if you have attended a conference or if you are planning on attending one in the future. Which are your personal favorites? Why? If you’re attending one for the first time what do you look forward to the most? What do you fear?

WordServe News: December 2012

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

As the year comes to a close, we’re so very grateful that WordServe Authors released 83 books in 2012, and signed 80 book contracts for nearly 119 books to release off in the future.

IntotheFreeJulie Cantrell had the agency’s first New York Times Bestseller in many years with her book Into the Free. It also garnered a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. A rarity.

We had several books climb over the 100,000 copy mark:

* The Secret Holocaust Diaries of Nonna Bannister, written by Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin (Tyndale)

* The Devil in Pew Seven by Rebecca Alonzo, with James Pence (Tyndale)

* My Flight to Heaven by Dale Black (Bethany)

* Edge of Apocalypse by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall (Zondervan)

* Linspired (adult and YA book together) by Mike Yorkey (Zondervan)

And we’ve had several authors show up on national shows:

* Rebecca Alonzo on Dr. Phil (twice)

* Lauren Scruggs appeared on several shows in November at the launch of her book, Still Lolo.

These WordServe authors signed their FIRST BOOK CONTRACT in 2012:

* Anita Agers-Brooks (Leafwood)
* Leigh Ann Bryant (Authentic)
* Deb DeArmond (Leafwood)
* Rebecca DiMarino (Revell)
* Jan Drexler (Love Inspired)
* Michael Hidalgo (IVP)
* Heather James (Kregel)
* Amanda Jenkins (Tyndale)
* Caesar Kalinowski (Zondervan)
* Heather Larson, with David and Claudia Arp (Bethany)
* Tracie Miles (Leafwood)
* Jerry and Caroly Parr (Tyndale)
* Christina Powell (IVP)
* Rachel Randolph, with Becky Johnson (Zondervan)
* Tina Samples (Kregel)
* Lauren Scruggs (Tyndale)
* Amy Sorrels (David C. Cook)
* Mandy Stewarad (David C. Cook)
* Janalyn Voigt (Harbourlight)
* Jeremy & Jennifer Williams (Thomas Nelson)
* Tricia Williford (WaterBrook)

These WordServe authors had their FIRST BOOKS published through a traditional publishing house:

* Julie Cantrell, Into the Free (David C. Cook)
* Arnie Cole, Unstuck (Bethany)
* Katie Ganshert, Wildflowers from Winter (WaterBrook)
* Adam Makos, A Higher Call (Berkley Caliber)
* Jay Pathak/Dave Runyon, The Art of Neighboring (Baker)
* Zeke Pipher, Man on the Run (Howard)
* Lauren Scrubbs, Still Lolo (Tyndale)
* Helen Shores and Barbara Shores Lee, The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill (Zondervan)
* Jordyn Redwood, Proof (Kregel)

So all in all, we had lots to celebrate!

New January Releases

WhatJesusSteve Addison, What Jesus Started.

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UnholyHungerHeather James, Unholy Hunger, her debut novel!

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RadicalDr. Rita Hancock, Radical Well Being

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AHigherCallAdam Makos, A Higher Call

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JustWhatDoctorRick Marschall, Just What the Doctor Disordered

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TheRiverGilbert Morris, The River Palace

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DilemmaOlivia Newport, The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow

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GreatStoriesJoe Wheeler, Great Stories Remembered #1, audio (eChristian)

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StinkyJoe Wheeler, Stinky: The Skunk Who Wouldn’t Leave (Pacific Press)

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New WordServe Clients

Several new clients have joined the WordServe stable with Alice Crider as their point person, but we’ll report more on that next month.

New Contracts

Christina Powell signed with Intervarsity Press (IVP) for her first book. The book is tentatively titled Question your Doubts. It explores the many roots of doubt experienced by both believers and nonbelievers, providing a corresponding response of faith from the rare perspective of a Harvard-trained research scientist who is also an ordained minister. (SF)

What can we help you celebrate?

WordServe News

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

New Releases

Sifted by Wayne Cordeiro (Zondervan). This was the lead book at the Exponential (church planting) conference in Orlando.

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You’ll be Sor-ree by Sid Phillips (Berkley Caliber). Sid was one of the men portrayed in the HBO series “The Pacific.”  He’s still alive and well and living near Mobile, AL. A very fine Southern Christian gentleman.

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Red Blood, Black Sand by Chuck Tatum (Berkley Caliber).  Chuck was another one of the Marines portrayed in “The Pacific”. He’s also still alive and living in Stockton, CA. Stephen Ambrose called this book (originally self-published in 1995) “Probably the best WWII memoir ever written.”  Chuck’s book served as part of the basis for the 10-Part HBO series.

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The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport (Revell).

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Playing with Purpose: Baseball by Mike Yorkey (Barbour).

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Always the Designer, Never the Bride by Sandie Bricker (Abingdon).

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Toward the Sun Rising by Lynn Morris (Hendrickson) book #4 in the republished Cheney Duvall series.

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New WordServe Clients

James A. Hall was a successful businessman for many years before working as a vice president with Walk Thru the Bible Ministry. For 15 years, he led their Seminar Division and currently is the Executive Director of a 25-year-old national ministry, Saints Prison Ministry. Some Jungles Have No Giraffes is his exciting memoir that details his amazing and compelling life. From a childhood tarnished because his father was on the run from the law, through his boarding school experiences at a Catholic seminary, to his days as a wealthy businessman involved with the Mafia, and his time spent in prison, the author’s life story reads like fiction, but is true. The miraculous conclusion of this tale again proves that without God life is indeed a jungle. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Kariss Lynch began her writing career in third grade when she created a story about a magical world for a class assignment. Since then, she has received a Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in creative writing from Texas Tech University. Kariss believes her readers should expect a journey. Readers can expect to see the beauty that God creates through broken lives and the adventure that comes when we follow the Lord. We serve a God of big dreams, daily adventure, and lasting hope. Making her home in Dallas, Texas, Kariss recently finished the Craftsman course through the Christian Writer’s Guild. She became a freelance writer and blogger for Demand Media Studios in January 2011. In March 2012, Kariss accepted the writer position in the Communications Ministry at First Baptist Dallas. She is very active with her church and family, is an avid Texas Tech fan, and enjoys photography and swimming in her spare time. (Agent: Sarah Freese)

New Contracts

Terry Brennan signed another contract with Kregel Publications for his next book The Brotherhood Conspiracy, a sequel to Sacred Cipher. Terry is in his 14th year of senior management for New York City nonprofits dealing with homelessness. Prior to his present focus with nonprofits, he had a 22-year career in journalism with the Pottstown (PA) Mercury, winning the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing while he was editor. His first novel, The Sacred Cipher, was published in 2009. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Rebecca DeMarino signed a three-book contract with Revell Books for her debut Blue Slate series. The first novel, A Love of Her Own, will be released in 2014, followed by Heather Flower and Pure Patience. A 2011 ACFW Genesis semi-finalist, Rebecca and her husband Tom live in the Pacific Northwest. When not writing, Rebecca enjoys reading, running, gardening, and trying to keep up with her eleven grandchildren. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Steve Addison signed with IVP for What Jesus Started, a follow up book to his first release onMovements. Steve works with Church Resource Ministries in Austraila.(Agent: Greg Johnson)

Calvin Miller signed with Baker Books for The Vanishing Evangelical, a penetrating look back and forward on what has happened to the Church in the last 30 years, where it’s going, what good and what harm has been done, and what we can learn from it all.  This is the 61st book Greg has represented for Calvin in the last 18 years.  (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Joe Wheeler signed with Howard Books for The Civil War Stories of Abraham Lincoln, a follow up to his book: Abraham Lincoln: Man of Faith and Courage (also with Howard). One of America’s top-three story anthologizers, this is the 74th book Greg has represented for Joe, as well as his 64th short story collection. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Lauren Scruggs signed with Tyndale Houe Publishers for Still Solo: A Plane Ride, a Horrific Accident and a Family’s Journey of Hope. The book tells the story of losing Lauren losing her hand, her left eye, and becoming scarred for life after a tragic airplane propeller accident in December 2011. It is written with collaborator Marcus Brotherton, and it will be published this November. Also signed was a second book to young girls on body image. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Jonathan McKee signed with Youth Specialties/Zondervan for More 10-minute Youth Talks, a follow up to his previous book for youth pastors. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Ken Gire signed with eChristian/Mission Books for Finding God in the Hunger Games, an insta-ebook and follow up trade book on the spiritual themes in the book series and the new movie. The ebook will come out in June!  (Agent: Greg Johnson)

What We’re Celebrating

The Christy Awards committee has announced that Dancing on Glass (B&H Publishing Group) written by WordServe Literary author Pamela Binnings Ewen is one of three finalists in the Contemporary Series, Sequels, and Novellas category. The winner will be announced at a dinner to be held at 7p.m. Monday, July 16, at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.

Amy Sorrells is the grand prize winner of the 2011 Women of Faith Writing Contest for Comfort and Salvation (now titled Canary Song). Amy is a wife, mother, registered nurse, and blogger, but most importantly, she is a woman of faith and a WordServe client. Recently, Amy received an offer for the manuscript from a well-known publisher. More to come later. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Sarah Freese attended the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 19-21. She met with several editors and potential future WordServe authors. Various current WordServe authors, including Patty Kirk, Anne Lang Bundy, Leslie Leyland Fields, and Margot Starbuck, were in attendance, and a few of them presented on panels and led forums. Leslie and Patty’s forum was so full that people sitting in desks and on the floor had to make more room for people to stand around the perimeter of the room! The picture below doesn’t even show the room at its fullest.

What can we help you celebrate?