Oregon Christian Writers is pleased to offer 13 coaching classes taught by some of the best in the publishing field. These in-depth classes meet for three consecutive mornings for a total of seven hours. Note: Class caps vary. When you register, please indicate your first, second, and third choices. If your first choice class has a spot available, you will be assigned to that class; if not, you will be assigned to your next choice.
Children’s Novels: What Do Agents and Editors Want to See in Middle Grade and Young Adult Novels?
Editors are looking for debut novelists with fresh vision and fresh voices. We’ll look at some tried-and-true concepts, plots, characters, voices, and themes and discuss how we might twist them into exciting new stories.
Day One ~ High Concept/Plot High concept doesn’t mean you have to write about zombies or vampires or dystopian worlds. We’ll discuss ways to come up with high concepts and how to fit a plot to the concept. What does your character want, what’s standing in his way, what’s his plan? Every scene needs to help the character learn what he needs to learn so he can finally win his war.
Day Two ~ Character Compelling characters go pretty quickly on the offensive. If your character doesn’t want anything (besides to duck the bricks the author is throwing at him) and if he isn’t working for anything, your book will be rejected faster than you can say, “Dear Writer.”
Day Three ~ Voice/Theme If you want to sell in this competitive market, you need a voice that stands out. Your voice is your perspective on the world. And that perspective also shapes your theme. Editors want books with universal themes, written in your unique voice. So bring your perspective—your worldview—to the manuscript while speaking to the universal fears and desires of your readers.
Sally Apokedak is an associate agent with the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. She’s been studying, reviewing, and marketing children’s books as well as giving writing instruction for a dozen years. As the manager of the Kidz Book Buzz blog tour, she was privileged to work with best-selling and award-winning authors such as Jeanne DuPrau, Ingrid Law, and Shannon Hale. She is presently the YA contributor to Novel Rocket, and she teaches at general market and Christian writers’ conferences across the country. Find out more at www.sally-apokedak.com.
“To get the most from this class, each participant will have an opportunity to share the first chapter (up to 10 pages) of a manuscript with other class members before the conference for feedback. Instructions will be sent to registered students by July 15.”
Live Free, Write Free
Allen Arnold and James L. Rubart
Imagine writing free of all the things that currently hold you back. No more fear or loss of heart. No comparison. No striving. No doubt. “Live Free, Write Free” is a revolutionary approach to writing because it starts not with the story on the page, but rather the story of your life. Once you understand your truest identity and the “story” you were born to live—then you are free to write without limits. This is the foundation for Christian writers from which everything else follows—a game-changer for your “story” and the stories you’ll write.
Allen Arnold, from the mountains of Colorado, oversees Content & Resources for Ransomed Heart Ministries (led by John Eldredge). The 20-year Christian publishing veteran is the founder of Thomas Nelson Fiction, where he launched more than 500 novels during his eight years as publisher. His personal mission is to help storytellers awaken their hearts and discover the story God is writing with their lives.
James L. Rubart is the best-selling and Christy award winning author of Rooms, Book of Days, The Chair, Soul’s Gate, Memory’s Door, and Spirit Bridge (May 2014). He’s also a professional speaker and owner of Barefoot Marketing, which helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at http://jameslrubart.com/.
From Idea to Print: Bringing Your Nonfiction Book to Life
As the saying goes, “A lot has changed in publishing over the past several years.” And, the changes continue. So if publishing has changed and the way readers read has changed, then that also means the way we write must change. In this active, interactive, reflective track we’ll start with the creative idea and move forward, discussing details of publishing, platform, proposals, and process that can lead to print.
For more than 25 years Kim Bangs has served in the Christian publishing industry. Beginning as an editor in the children’s curriculum department at Gospel Light, she most recently served as the Publishing Director for Regal (the book division of Gospel Light).Recently, Kim joined the Baker Publishing Group as a Senior Acquisitions Editor with the Bethany House and Chosen Divisions. In 2012 Kim was awarded Editor of the Year by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She also can be found at several writers’ conferences throughout the year doing all she can to inspire and encourage writers to write their passion and keep pressing on. She enjoys baking, gardening, Disneyland, and sports . . . but loves Jesus and His church. Kim’s experience is with nonfiction that engages culture—outside and inside the church—in meaningful, relevant dialogue in books that strongly apply the Bible to life, encourage a deeper Christian life, and move toward justice for all of life. Kim will be available to meet with authors at the conference.
Writing Words that Change the World (Intermediate Nonfiction)
We all want to make an impact on this big, crazy world. But how can we write books that actually changes lives? What kinds of books cause readers to pass along your book’s life-giving message to others? As a writer of several critically acclaimed Christian living books, Mary offers writers several tips and practical strategies to write this kind of reader-grabbing nonfiction. If you’re interested in going deep with Jesus and your writing, if you’re passionate about penning words that affect eternity, if you feel there’s something missing from your prose, dare to try a (possibly) new way of writing. Topics covered in this continuing track include:
- Structuring your writing time and your book for maximum impact
- Journeying toward creative excellence: tenacity, humility, risk-taking, discipline, routine, strategic rest
- Capturing God’s heart with your pen
- Living first, writing second
- Learning the iStep method of effective nonfiction
- Penning the truth, even when it hurts
- Excelling in marketing and publicity with your heart aright
This class is for intermediate writers wanting to deepen their already strong prose.
Mary DeMuth is the author of 15 traditionally published books (nonfiction and fiction) and has spoken around the world, helping audiences live uncaged, freedom-infused lives. She is passionate about writing words that change lives and has a unique style of authenticity and craft that engages readers. She lives in Texas with her family. Find out more at http://www.marydemuth.com
The Top Three Mistakes That Will Kill Your Novel’s Chances with Editors, and How to Eliminate Them (The Mistakes, Not the Editors)
There are many more miscues than three that can sink your novel with editors and agents, and in fact we’ll talk about more than twenty in class. But there are three biggies that pertain to fiction craftsmanship that will end the discussion in a hurry. But beware: These three aren’t things you can just do a global find/replace on to fix. They will require concentrated effort applied over time. Come find out what they are and how to begin showing editors and agents that your writing has what they’re looking for.
Jeff Gerke trains novelists how to better do what it is they’re trying to do. He trains through his four books for Writers Digest: Plot Versus Character, The First 50 Pages, Write Your Novel in a Month, and The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction. He trains through his online video training program called FictionAcademy.com. He trains through the many writers’ conferences he teaches at all over the country every year. And he trains through the freelance editing he does for his clients. Jeff is the founder of Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. He lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and three children.
Passive Marketing 101
This course is especially for writers who HATE marketing. I believe that marketing shouldn’t be hard and it shouldn’t take over your life. “Active marketing” is the kind of horrible marketing where you have to keep doing the same lousy stuff over and over for the rest of your life. If you’re on the “active marketing treadmill,” then get off now! “Passive marketing” means that you do the work once and then your system continues to work hard for you—forever. This course covers the “Eight Commandments of Marketing”—a set of simple principles that will set you free. Do you know the three basic phases that every potential customer goes through before they give you money? If not, then your marketing is doomed to fail. Yes, DOOMED. If you do know these three phases, then you’ve got a chance to earn some serious money with your writing. We’ll talk about all the usual suspects in this course—websites, blogs, email lists, social media, and how to launch a book. But we’ll do it right. I’ll teach you ONLY the stuff that I know works. And I’ll warn you again and again to avoid working too hard because that way is death to your creativity.
Randy Ingermanson is the award-winning author of six novels and two nonfiction books, including Writing Fiction for Dummies. Randy has a doctorate in theoretical physics from UC Berkeley and still works half-time as a scientist for a biotechnology company in San Diego. He is known around the world as “the Snowflake Guy” in honor of his Snowflake method of designing a novel. His free Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine—the largest electronic magazine dedicated to teaching fiction—has more than 32,000 readers. Randy sits on the advisory board of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and lives in southern Washington state with his wife, daughters, and three surly cats. Visit his website at http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
Writing Great Devotionals—Or How to Write Well in Any Genre
Do you want to write with such sparkle and verve that you’ll knock the socks off editors? Do you want them to be falling all over themselves to publish your submission and then clamoring for anything you plan to write in the future? As all professional writers know, the longer a work, the easier it is to write. The inverse is also true: The hardest piece to write is the shortest—a poem or a devotional. That’s why any class about writing devotionals also has to be a class about advanced writing techniques. We’ll start with the essentials for writing for the Christian market and specific do’s and don’ts in writing devotionals and move on to detailed instruction in the elements of great style in any genre. Participants will come away with concrete tools for self-editing to produce polished works that will delight editors and publishers.
Susan King, Associate Editor of The Upper Room magazine, also teaches English at Lipscomb University and functions as a seminar facilitator in leadership and group dynamics. Formerly she taught English and feature-writing classes at Biola University, served as book editor and radio-program producer/on-air talent for The Institute of Scriptural Psychology, and wrote magazine features as a freelance writer. Susan and husband, Joe, have three grown children and two grandchildren (both perfect, of course).
Mastering the Three-Act Structure for Your Novel
Using a fresh approach to this classic story-building device, attendees will learn how to develop and execute an unforgettable plot that includes memorable characters, a compelling quest, believable obstacles, and a satisfying conclusion. The class is geared toward writers with some experience.
Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker, and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008 and a Carol Award winner. She is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. Susan also writes small-group curriculum for her San Diego church. Visit Susan at her website: www.susanmeissner.com, on Twitter at @SusanMeissner, or at www.facebook.com/susan.meissner.
Crafting the Redemptive Novel (Fiction Critique for published authors)
This class is for experienced fiction writers looking for in-class critique and coaching in developing deeper themes and characters, serious drama, and broader cultural appeal. We’ll discuss techniques and methodologies and look at how great narratives capture a fuller, truer world through specifically revealed insight. Bring your two-page outline, your first five pages, and your firm conviction in the power (and pleasure!) of story.
A former acquisitions and developmental editor for Focus on the Family and WaterBrook Press (the Christian imprint of Random House) for 13 years, Mick Silva has coached authors through traditional and independent publishing, offering one-of-a-kind editorial feedback to inspire books of uncommon depth and artistry. He has edited many best-selling books including One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich. As founder of the prayerful community YourWritersGroup.com, he guides writers seeking God through their own creative process. Mick lives with his artist wife and two musical daughters in Portland.
Poetry and Christian Mystery
Some of the best Christian poetry is poetry that allows mystery to remain in a poem. Excellent Christian poets don’t have all the answers, and they know it. Jesus had so much patience with people who had questions. It’s the ones who thought they had all the answers who weren’t received quite as well. Julia Cameron once wrote, “Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise.” And Albert Einstein proclaimed, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” In this coaching class, using model poems, we will write poetry that doesn’t try to have all the answers; we will create strong poems that illustrate our belief in God that we as humble humans cannot totally explain.
Colette Tennant is an English professor at Corban University. She earned her doctorate in English from Ohio State University. Along with teaching creative writing and literature at Corban, she also teaches art in Germany, Austria, and Italy every other year. In addition to writing poetry, she enjoys playing the piano and writing music. Her poetry book, Commotion of Wings, was published by Main Street Rag in 2010 as an Editor’s Choice. She has had many poems published in journals, including Christianity and Literature, Dos Passos Review, and Southern Poetry Review.
Finding Your Story and Telling It Well (Memoir)
A coaching class on writing techniques for the memoir, with exercises to unlock your inner writer and guidance on how to tell your autobiographical story well.
Sarah Thebarge is the author of The Invisible Girls, a memoir that weaves her story of having breast cancer in her 20s together with the story of a Somali refugee family she met on a train in Portland. Sarah’s writing has also appeared in Red Letter Christian, The Good Men Project, Christianity Today, and other magazines. She won first prize from the Evangelical Press Association in 2012. She has spoken at Donald Miller’s Storyline conference, as well as other conferences and retreats. Her second book is scheduled for publication in January 2015. She currently lives in Portland.
Mastering the Things That Matter Most to Readers (Fiction)
There are a thousand things that can be said about fiction writing but only a few things that matter most to readers. Reaching and connecting well with readers has to be our goal. Literary agents and editors evaluate manuscripts as readers. Their expertise and the success of their own careers depend on their ability to pick out the kind of stories readers want to read. Even if a writer’s goal is to self-publish, he must still master the things that matter most to readers—if he has any hopes of growing an audience. Using what he gleaned from his survey on the Seven Components of Every Fiction Novel, the class will focus on the three areas that got the most votes plus Dan will share his best tips on the remaining four.
Dan Walsh is the best-selling author of 10 novels published by Revell and Guideposts, including The Unfinished Gift, The Discovery, and The Dance. He’s won three ACFW Carol (Book of the Year) Awards and two Selah Awards, and three times his books have been finalists for Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Word Weavers International, Dan served as a pastor for 25 years and now writes fulltime in the Daytona Beach area. He and his wife, Cindi, have been married 37 years and have two grown children and two grandchildren. You can find out more about his books or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest from his website at http://danwalshbooks.com.
Writing Unforgettable Characters (Advanced Fiction)
Susan May Warren
A powerful character is one a reader understands, relates to, and cheers. A powerful character lives in our memories, and inspires us to change, to be better people. Storytelling is all about building powerful characters. In this class, learn how to create a powerful character then build him/her into your story, step by step. Learn what makes a character change and how to write that change effectively—and believably—into your novel. You’ll learn everything from how to build a convincing—and yet simple—backstory, the steps of the character-change journey, plotting for the perfect “Happily Ever After,” the use of character layers, and, finally, the essential character scenes every story should have.
Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of more than 40 novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill, and Summerside Press. A six-time Christy Award finalist and a three-time RITA finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the ACFW Carol (Book of the Year) Award. A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you! She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.