2017 Summer Conference Workshops

Workshop Descriptions

 We are pleased to offer 24 hour-long afternoon workshops taught by top editors, agents, and authors from the Christian publishing industry. Full-time conferees will have an opportunity to attend four workshops, two on Wednesday afternoon and two on Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday Afternoon

Workshop A
“Songwriting: Stories in Miniature” ~ Aaron Doerr       
This workshop will explore the beauty and power of songwriting. We will discuss the balance of inspiration and perspiration involved in songwriting. We’ll also explore the similarities and differences between writing for the page and writing for the stage. As time permits, participants may have the opportunity to share some original works in a friendly, supportive atmosphere.

“Discovering Your Writer’s Voice” ~ Alice Crider
Technique/Nonfiction and Fiction
Most writers are so focused on their message or on writing good sentences, paragraphs, and chapters that it takes a long time to settle into their unique voice. In this workshop, we’ll explore what voice means and do some exercises to help you discover your own unique expression that will help you stand out as an author—and may also help build your platform! Bring paper and pen and/or your laptop.

“Do’s and Don’ts of Writing for Children” ~ Jesse Florea
Technique/Writing for Children
Kids are taught to follow rules. And to write for them, you should follow some rules, too. By learning these do’s and don’ts, you’ll have a better chance of creating stories that will catch an editor’s eye and eventually entertain a child. You’ll find out about audience insights and felt needs, writing tips, industry trends, the use of humor, and more.

“Writing Short Fiction that Sells” ~ Ben Wolf
Technique/Short Fiction
Splickety’s specialty is flash fiction, which we define as 1,000 words or less. In this workshop, conferees will learn what makes a short 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 short fiction, will know where they can submit their fiction, and will be empowered to do so as one step in their journey toward publication on a grander scale (i.e. a novel). All writers can benefit from the discipline of writing short pieces.

“Marketing for Writers Who Don’t Like to Market” ~ Jim Hart
Marketing/Nonfiction and Fiction
This workshop will look at marketing and promoting your book in a different light, starting with Jesus’ parable of the talents. We will define marketing simply as engaging with others. These are the questions that will be presented:

  • Why to engage?
  • Whom to engage?
  • When to engage?
  • Where to engage?

“Blogging 101—From Blog to a Book Deal” ~ Stephanie Alton 
Online/Nonfiction and Fiction
This workshop talks about whether or not you really need a blog to get a book deal, what a successful blog looks like, who is scouting blogs, what the publishing industry can tell by looking at your blog, and the need for your blog to have credibility and a community.

Workshop B

“The Pursuit: Seeking His Purpose for Your Writing” ~ Judy Dunagan                                 
Inspirational/Nonfiction and Fiction
Discover how your passion for writing can become an act of worship. We will dive into Hebrews 12 and focus on the importance of pursuing His purpose for your writing. We will also look at what it means to surrender the dream to get published, while still pursuing that dream. As an acquiring editor, Judy will share why she is seeking proposals for books that teach deep biblical truths in creative and fresh ways. And she will provide practical tools for making those truths and His Word come alive in your writing.

“Creating Your Proposal from a Marketing Perspective” ~ Tawny Johnson
Technique, Marketing/Nonfiction and Fiction
This workshop will explore the varied components of a strong proposal along with tips on how to market that information to catch the eye of an agent and/or a publisher. Also, attendees will discover a critical marketing exercise that will take their proposal from blah to brilliant!

“Writing for the Web” ~ Ginger Kolbaba
Technique/Online Articles
What’s the difference between writing for print and for online media? If you say there’s no difference . . . bzzz, that would be incorrect, but thank you for playing. If you want to write successfully for the web, you need to understand how it differs from print and how readers behave differently depending on the medium. This workshop looks at writing style and structure, the power of visuals, and other tips you may not have realized could be the difference between successfully reaching your audience or weeping and gnashing your teeth because nobody clicked on the link to your writing masterpiece.

“The Plot Thickens” ~ Nancy Lohr
An idea, an emotion, and a hero or heroine (the protagonist) are all some of the necessary elements to include in a novel, whether your reader is a child or an adult. But none of these is a substitute for a strong and compelling plot. This workshop will look at what is necessary in a plot along with a variety of ways to develop a plot that will hold your readers’ attention and deliver a satisfying, forward-moving story.

“Poetry in the Image of God” ~Lynn Otto 
How do poets image God in their work? What are characteristics of God-imaging poetry? Who should be our models, and how can we learn from them? In this discussion/workshop, we’ll explore these questions with example poems. Our discussion will introduce a writing practice (which in this context we’ll call “sitting at the feet of the poem”) that with continued use will expand your poetic tool box, hone your poetic sensibilities, and provide plenty of inspiration. A guided writing exercise will get you started.

“Writing and Publishing Bible Studies in the 21st Century” ~ Terri Kalfas
Technique/Bible Studies
Do you have an idea for a Bible study but don’t know exactly what to do with it? Maybe you’re already writing and teaching Bible studies for your church or small group and are interested in taking the next step—publication. In this workshop, we’ll look at how modern culture influences not only your reader but also publishers, how changes in churches’ Christian education structure have affected Bible study, current Bible study needs, and important concepts you must understand in order to write and successfully market a Bible study.

Thursday Afternoon

Workshop C

“Preparing Manuscripts for Submission: Making Sure Your Manuscript Meets the Publisher’s Needs” ~ Paul Smith
Manuscript Mechanics
Writing for a publisher is more than just getting the guidelines off of their website. This workshop will look at what you need to do to ensure that your manuscript gets a second look.

“What Agents Do for Authors (and Publishers)” ~ Vicki Crumpton and Bill Jensen
Agents/Nonfiction and Fiction
Join us for a discussion of the role agents play in book publishing. We’ll explore how agents help publishers and authors as they identify new talent, refine and develop new ideas, help authors focus their creativity, make the right matches for authors and publishers, negotiate contracts, serve as a go-between when things don’t go as planned, and many more topics.

“Not Dead Yet—Why Traditional Print Media Still Has an Important Role” ~ John Fortmeyer and Chad McComas       
Some media observers have declared that traditional newspapers are dying, if not dead. While newspapers no longer represent as big a slice of the overall “media pie,” many newspapers still serve their communities well and fill an information need in a unique and valuable way. One example is the specialized ministry of Christian newspapers like Christian News Northwest and The Christian Journal. The editors will outline the opportunities that Christian writers can find today in papers like theirs from coast to coast, but also in secular papers at local levels.

“Biographies for Children” ~ Nancy Lohr
Do you have a hero you’d like to share with children? Biography is the genre for you, and while it is a familiar form, there are some unique elements to master. We will discuss topics specific to biographies, including research and the inherent tension between fact and fiction. (Specific to children’s writers, but all are welcome.)

“Lessons from Experience: What the Books on Writing Can’t Teach You.” ~ Frank Peretti   
That’s basically what coaching writers comes down to: pointing out common mistakes and finding a better way. Beyond the basics, these are some of the finer points one learns over the years by doing and teaching writing, pearls of know-how one may not find in the how-to books, skills to use, and pitfalls to avoid. Topics will include: Pedestrian Recap, Info Dumps, Signposting, Repeating a Beat, Excessive Self-Knowledge, Hating the Villain, Tension Inversion, The Flat Line, Turning a Scene, Saying Not Showing, Clichés, On-the-Nose Dialogue, Shoe Leather, Quilting, Pitch Blend, Blabbiness, Head Hopping, Drop-Ins, Risk, What a Hero Is, I, and, if time permits, Glop. Followed by questions and answers.

“Choose Your Own Adventures in Publishing” ~ Traci Hilton
You and you alone are in charge of what happens to your story! There are risks, choices, royalties, and consequences. You must use your numerous talents and much of your enormous intelligence. The wrong decision could end in disaster. But, don’t despair. At any time, you can go back and make another choice, alter the path of your story, and change its result. From formats to platforms, from advertising to social media, the choices are almost unlimited, and you are the one who gets to decide which you use and what you do. Publishing is a series of choices that each lead to fabulous new opportunities. In this one-hour workshop, Traci will teach you how to avoid or recover from the major blunders authors make in indie publishing to set you on a fantastic lifelong adventure as an author.

Workshop D

“Matchmaker, Matchmaker” ~ Sherri Langton
Have you poured your heart and soul into an article and submitted it to a magazine only to have it crash land in the rejection pile? Often the problem isn’t poor writing but a poor match: You really don’t know what the magazine is about. Though editors urge you to familiarize yourself with their publications, how exactly do you study a magazine? In this workshop, we will learn tools of analyzing a magazine and how to shape your writing for different markets. Bring an article you haven’t submitted yet, a reprint of a published article, or an idea, and we’ll spend time finding the right match.

“The Business of Writing: Understanding Literary Agreements, Book Contracts, Copyright, and More” ~ Timothy Beals    
Business/Nonfiction and Fiction
This workshop will unpack the business and legal side of publishing, from literary agreements and publishing contracts to copyright and fair use so new authors and veteran writers alike can be confident about the important financial documents and legal concepts that affect the writing and publishing enterprise. Learn how to tackle a project on your own and when to seek professional counsel.

“Be a Speaker Worth Listening To!” ~ Poppy Smith      
Want to avoid the butterflies, speak confidently, and present a fun, challenging, or thought-provoking talk? Whatever your topic, Poppy will share five basics for connecting with your audience—the most important being to touch their hearts, not just their minds! In this supportive and encouraging atmosphere, you can ask whatever questions you have about speaking.

“Praying, Planning, Persisting in Your Career” ~ Nick Harrison         
Inspirational/Nonfiction and Fiction
Published books don’t happen by accident. Authors who succeed are authors who pray for their books, plan to succeed by improving their craft and by learning the current market needs, and they persist in developing their writing career. In this workshop, we’ll look at ways aspiring and already-published writers can pray, plan, and persist their way to success.

“Creating a Timeline for Your Novel” ~ Jill Williamson                       
Whether you’re writing contemporary, historical, fantasy, or any other genre of fiction, a timeline is an important tool to keep track of what’s going on in your story. In this class we’ll learn about the different kinds of timelines you can create, how to start one, what to add, and what to leave out. We’ll also talk about how to use a timeline for multiple points of view, how timelines can help you see plot holes in your story, how they can help you find places to add plot twists, and how they can help you build a history for your world.

“. . . And Then There Were ‘Nones’” ~ Todd Hafer
Technique, Marketing/Nonfiction and Fiction
America’s fastest-growing religious group is not religious. Almost one-quarter of Americans do not identify with any religion or denomination. (Or they identify as an atheist or agnostic.) And the younger the person, the less likely he/she is to identify as religious. More than 35 percent of millennials are “nones.” How can we write to engage and influence this growing market segment? And how can we all better understand this important trend in contemporary religion—and a trend that many Christian ministries deny is happening, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.