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Ava PenningtonGuest post
by Ava Pennington
Co-captain, Appointment Desk

Banner 2015 GPCWC

The first time I attended a Christian writers’ conference, I was reminded of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Not just any buffet, but one whose tables overflowed with lobster and filet mignon.

That four-day conference was packed with continuing classes, workshops, resources available for purchase, and free resources, too. What amazed me most were the opportunities for appointments with acquisition editors, agents, and successful, multi-published authors.

Although I was grateful for those meetings, I was also terrified. Would I say the wrong thing and be branded as a hopeless novice? Or would I be able to make the most of each opportunity?

Here are 7 lessons I learned from those experiences as well as from my experiences on the other side of the table…

  1. Be prepared

Research the people you will meet. Learn their editorial needs or areas of expertise. Check the Faculty-at-a-Glance page or the summary spread sheet for details about the 53 authors, editors, and agents serving on the faculty of the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

Preparation also includes ensuring your writing sample is the best it can be. Edit for punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. Remember, your written work represents you!

  1. Follow directions

Follow directions regarding what and how to submit. Did you review the guidelines regarding length and format? Did the agents and editors say they were interested in your genre?

Following directions in advance of your meeting is also good practice for submissions after the conference.

  1. Don’t be surprised by differing responses.

Opinions will be as varied as the people you meet. One agent might not be interested in your work, while another will be enthusiastic. The first agent might already be representing a similar manuscript. The second agent might have recently spoken with an editor seeking books similar to yours. Don’t be surprised—or discouraged—if your appointments offer differing responses to the same manuscript.

  1. Develop a thick skin.

One of the most difficult things writers learn to do is pour themselves into their work, then listen to someone else’s critique without taking it personally.

As writers, we can be our own worst enemy if we become argumentative and defensive about our work. Remember, you don’t have to implement everything that’s suggested. But at least consider what you hear, pray about it, and compare the comments to what other objective people say (not including your mom).

One thing not to say is “God told me to write this.” The editor might be tempted to answer “God did not tell me to publish it!”

  1. Be open to God’s detours

Your heart may be set on writing a book, but an editor may tell you the content is better suited for a magazine article—or a series of articles—instead. Or maybe you wrote a picture book, only to be told that it would make a terrific story for a children’s magazine.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you must change your project. But consider and pray about what they say. Keep in mind the average book now sells 250 copies, while the circulation of some magazines can number in the tens of thousands. It’s easy to see which one will give you a greater audience.

One other thing I’ve learned in staffing the appointment desk is that God’s detours sometimes include having you meet with someone other than who you requested. Don’t despair—you may very well be pleasantly surprised. Last year at the GPCWC, one conferee was unable to meet with her first choice, but the appointment we scheduled for her turned out to be the person she needed to meet. Trust God’s sovereignty over your writing…and your meetings. He’s in control and He loves you. There’s no better combination.

  1. Follow through

You may find this next point difficult to believe. After the conference, conferees frequently fail to send manuscripts requested during an appointment. If the agent or editor asks you to send your work, do it!

During the conference, keep a list of what agents and editors ask you to send. Did they request a query? A full proposal? A complete manuscript? Send it!

Last, but not least…

  1. Enjoy your meetings!

The editors, agents, and authors you’ll meet at GPCWC are looking forward to meeting you. They’re friendly and yes, they’re human—just like you. We all have the same goal—to use our abilities to glorify God and bless His people. So enjoy your appointments!

For more information on preparing for your appointments, check out the

Appointment Preparation page of the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference website. Conference Director Marlene Bagnull has included lots of helps to assist you in having successful appointments.

While you’re at the conference, stop by and say hello. I’ll be at the Appointment Desk and will be happy to meet you and answer your questions!

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Have you ever said, “If only someone would sit beside me and help me figure this out”?

I have! All too often I am overwhelmed by the learning curve. I’d love to be able to sit in all of the clinics at the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, but I’m too busy directing the conference. The clinics aren’t recorded so I can’t listen to them after the conference. Even if they were available on CD, it wouldn’t be the same as being there and getting help with my projects and questions. And I do need help!

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Karen Whiting from FB 3Develop a Unique Marketing Plan for Your Book with Karen Whiting
I know I’ve not done a good job marketing my books. That’s sad. My Turn to Care – Encouragement for Caregivers of Aging Parents is a needed devotional book. For Better for Worse – Devotional Thoughts for Married Couples is also needed but it’s out of print the same as two other books I worked so hard to publish. I need to get them back in print, but what I really need first is time with Karen Whiting to develop marketing plans that will work. Vicki Chandler, a clinic participant, says, “In three days, Karen helped me create a detailed marketing plan. She’s the Michelangelo of marketing.” You can read more about Vicki’s experience in Karen’s clinic at http://bit.ly/1K0EL7z.


Get Them Coming to Your  Blog/WebsiteMegan Breedlove cr
with Megan Breedlove
I spend a lot of time on blog posts and my three websites but not near enough time on learning the secrets of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and choosing (and using) effective keywords. I need the help Megan is going to provide. See Megan’s post, “How Do I Get to Be #1 on Google?” at http://bit.ly/1KXn9fR.


Jeanette WindleHook that Editor Book Proposal Clinic
with Jeanette Windle
Writing a book proposal is not fun or easy! Although I have written proposals that have resulted in contracts, I know Jeanette’s input would strengthen my proposals. And unlike the other clinics, I’d only need to miss three workshops to attend the nonfiction or fiction clinic. Jeanette is an award-winning novelist, missions journalist, editor, and collaborative writer. She represents Kregel Publications.


Fiction Intensive
with Nancy RueNancy Rue 2014
Someday I’m going to write a novel. When I do, there is nobody’s help I would value more than Nancy’s. I’ve never forgotten the day long clinic with Nancy that I sat in on over ten years ago. Wow! Christy Distler, one of last year’s participants, says it better than I can: “Nancy has a wonderful way of connecting with each writer she works with, her feedback is honest and yet kind, and her sense of humor makes the classes not only enlightening but also a fun fellowship with other writers.”

*~*~*~*

For more information about GPCWC’s cliics and the needed application go to http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/clinics. And do it now. The deadline for applying is July 15. And if you’ve not yet registered for the conference, I encourage you to do so before the late fee (I call it “the procrastinator’s fee”) kicks in July 16.

Banner 2015 GPCWC

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questions

Why you need to come?

Banner 2015 GPCWC

  1. To learn the craft of writing. Okay, maybe you’ve been writing for many years, but there is always more to learn. Master craftsmen will teach workshops and continuing sessions that, as one conferee said, are the equivalent of a semester college course in writing. Writing a novel? Allen Arnold, the Founder and Publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction who spent 20 years in Christian publishing overseeing the development of more than 500 novels, will be with us. You won’t want to miss his continuing session, “Heart of the Storyteller,” or Tim Shoemaker’s “Take Your Fiction to the Gym,” or Eva Marie Everson’s “Fiction Practicum.” And they are just several of the 53 authors, editors, agents, and publicists serving on this year’s faculty and covering a wide range of topics and genres.
  1. To learn the craft of marketing your work to potential publishers. If you’ve gotten more than your share of rejection slips or have yet to get your first rejection (I’m sorry, it goes with the territory of being a writer), GPCWC’s “Get Published” track of six hour-long workshops will provide practical help.
  1. Face-to-face opportunities to pitch your work to editors and agents. At GPCWC you get FOUR 15-minute one-on-one appointments with the faculty of your choice if you register for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; THREE if you come two days; TWO if you come one day. If you are among the next 15 to register you’ll receive one more free appointment. Check out our helpful charts of editorial needs and areas of expertise as well as the faculty bios.
  1. To learn the craft of marketing/promoting your published work. And yes, it’s a craft, and not one that comes naturally to most writers. I’ve often said that the reason I quit Girl Scouts is because of the stress of trying to sell cookies. Whether or not you like marketing, the fact is that you hold the key to the sales of your book. But the good news is that it’s a craft that can be learned. Suzanne and Shawn Kuhn’s six-hour continuing session, “Take Your Publishing Ministry to the Next Level,” will provide practical help and encouragement. Marketing genuis, Karen Whiting, wifll lead a clinic limited to 8 particpants on “Developing a Unique Marketing Plan for Your Book.” For those who choose not to apply for Karen’s clinic, we have a “Marketing” track of six workshops. In “News Releases, Media Kits & More,” “Social Media for the Reluctant,” “Branding For People Who Are Not Cows,” and three more workshops you’ll find the help you need.
  1. Friendships with other writers. My closest friends are writers I’ve met at writers’ conferences. In amazing ways writers connect deeply with one another more quickly than I ever have in the chit-chat before and after Sunday morning worship services. And we need each other. A key verse for me that I’ve experienced and sought to follow is 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Encourage each other to build each other up” (TLB).
  1. Inspiration and encouragement to keep on keeping on. Our keynotes will challenge you not to give up. Jim Watkins will keynote on “Keeping Your Dreams Alive.” Other keynotes include “Writing Light into Darkness,” “Awakening the Writer’s Heart,” “Dreambusting,” “Breaking Fear’s Grip,” and “The Cross is the Main Thing.”
  1. Direction from the Lord. Each year, and this is my 32nd year directing GPCWC, God meets us and changes lives. He has a plan for you and for your writing. He is the One who makes the impossible possible.

So here are seven reasons you need to prayerfully consider coming to the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. I could easily list many more! Partial scholarships are still available if you need financial help to come that your family, friends, or church are unable to provide. Housing is available on the campus of Cairn University, and we’ll do roommate matching to lower the cost. Speaking of cost, if you register through June 30, you’ll save $5 to $20 on the registration fee.

There’s lots more info on our website and in our 16-page brochure. Still have questions? You’re welcome to email me at mbagnull@aol.com or call 484-991-8581.

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It’s taken almost a month to switch my focus from the Colorado Christian Writers Conference to the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. I’m definitely in the catch-up mode! It would be easy to feel overwhelmed by all that needs to get done in the next five weeks were it not for the staff working alongside me.

I’m especially excited about the chart of editorial needs our Appointment Coordinator, Barb Haley, has compiled that show the specifics of what our 5 agents and 24 editors are looking for. This is helpful info whether or not you’re able to come to the conference. Here’s a bird’s eye view of page 1 of the four-page chart:

Chart Editorial Needs

The conference website provides lots more info. For example:

Sally Apokedak1.png

Sally Apokedak is an associate agent with the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. She has been studying, reviewing, and marketing children’s books, as well as giving writing instruction for a dozen years or more. In a six-hour continuing session she will teach How to Break In with Middle Grade and Young Adult Books.

Other continuing sessions are:

  • Heart of the Storyteller with Allen Arnold
  • Master the Memoir with Marti Pieper
  • Writing Nonfiction Books that Change Lives with Jim Watkins
  • Indie Publishing with Scoti Domeij
  • Take Your Fiction to the Gym with Tim Shoemaker
  • Take Your Publishing to the Next Level with Suzanne and Shawn Kuhn
  • Fiction Practicum with Eva Marie Everson

Along with the rest of our faculty of 56 authors, editors, agents, and other professionals Sally and will meet with conferees in 15-minute one-on-one appointments. (The next 21 people who register for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are entitled to FIVE free 15-minute appointments with the faculty of their choice based on availability.) Sally is interested in representing picture books, middle grade and YA books (fantasy is her favorite), nonfiction for all ages, and adult inspirational books.

Blythe Daniel 2015Blythe Daniel is a literary agent and publicist helping authors publish and market their book. She is acquiring 18 categories of nonfiction! In her workshop,How to Promote Yourself and Your Book, she will talk about how to step out of your comfort zone to sell yourself and your book wihtout feeling like you are selling your soul. In Position Yourself she will help participants undertand what makes them and their book unique and audience/publisher friendly.They will learn how to discover and meet true felt needs in a format that works. (These are just two of the 58 workshops at this year’s conference!)

Something new in The Blythe Daniel Agency for everyone – not just conferees!
Blythe says, “We want to be on the cutting edge of practices that embrace the ever-changing publishing landscape. We want to connect publishers, authors, and bloggers for more exposure to books and bloggers who play an integral part in highlighting books and films. We have put together a community of bloggers called The Blog Spot that reviews books and movies from publishers and film production companies we work with like Thomas Nelson, Tyndale House, Abingdon Press, NavPress, Exploration Films, and others. Since January, we have 70 bloggers in our network reaching over 2.5 million people!

“We have a monthly drawing for a $50 gift card to a major retailer, and those who post at least one review during the month will be eligible to enter the drawing. Each review will also be posted on The Blog Spot’s Facebook and Twitter pages to help bloggers reach a broader audience.

“We are looking for active bloggers with all sizes of platforms. If you are interested in participating in the network or having your book or film reviewed through The Blog Spot, contact Stephanie Alton: stephanie@theblythedanielagency.com. We will be reviewing books, movies, and participants in the network can decide how often they are available to review products.

“In essence we want to help get the word out about new books and movies while helping bloggers increase the traffic to their blogs. Go here to sign up!”  http://theblythedanielagency.net/the-blog-spot

If a family vacation or finances (some scholarship help is still availabile) makes it impossible for you to come to all or part of the July 29 – August 1 conference, I hope you will still visit http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com for the information you’ll discover there to help you grow your writing ministry. There are also almost a dozen free writers’ helps.

Remember His promise:

I can do everything God asks me to
with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.
Phil. 4:13 TLB

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Rhyner Adoption Book

 

Connecting the Dots
From Wannabe to Published Author

by Christine Rhyner

How many of us remember as children taking our yellow wooden pencils to paper and playing “Connect the Dots?”

We began with a single line, then another that might take us in a different direction, then a third that could be quite long, and a fourth, just a tiny inch. We would zig-zag our way across the page until we found ourselves staring at a kite or a butterfly and think, “Cool.”

I have discovered that a walk with the Lord is much like this. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 it is written, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Though we cannot see the bigger picture God does when we set out on a journey, we must take that first step of faith, that first pencil stroke to move along a path that we believe will lead us to something “cool.”

In print & ebook

In print and ebook

I never realized that finding a blurb about the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference in a trade magazine would lead me to becoming a published author. That ad led me to Founder, Marlene Bagnull’s website where I found “Write His Answer.” What a treasure! While publishing magazine and website articles as a fairly new Christian I had struggled to understand the passion God had placed within me to write, how to approach this calling on my life and how to move forward in my desire to do so for Him and from Him. I immediately bought the book and found just what I needed—a Bible study for Christian writers. I never knew such a resource existed!

Right away I registered for the next GPCWC. There I found the blessing of hundreds of others just like me, with the same focus, passion and calling–to connect with and learn from. I had never felt such a sense of belonging, acceptance and encouragement. I was at home!

I knew that I wanted to write a book sharing my testimony about my
God who had determined to make me a mother through international Adoptedadoption. It was during perhaps the third summer I attended the conference that God decided the timing for such a book was right. I had learned a lot, grown as a writer and explored various ways of communicating my story. Then, it just happened. While on the ride home back to NY, my entire book outline just poured out of me onto paper while my husband drove. I saw the dots starting to connect!

After returning home, I set to work sharpening my book’s theme and message. As I wrote chapters I also worked on a proposal. After I sent off this proposal to an editor who had taught at the conference and graciously offered to review it for me (an amazing benefit of the GPCWC in that professionals will actually offer to follow up with you on projects), it was clear that my proposal was a mess. But I had already purchased W. Terry Whalin’s “Book Proposals That Sell” at the conference. Why wasn’t I using it?

After carefully following Terry’s direction and advice, my pencil took a detour and I re-wrote a proposal that garnered three positive responses and a contract within a few months!

But the picture, as any author will tell you, wasn’t quite complete. I now needed an editor to help me polish my first manuscript submission to a publisher. Back to Marlene’s website I went. What I thought was a random pick of an editor to hire was actually God’s way of connecting another dot. This editor was a staff member of my publisher’s, able to give me insight into their expectations and navigate my way through the process! Additionally, she is a godly, professional, faithful woman, always quick to respond to my many questions and concerns.

After a few more months of hard work and re-writes the dots were finally connected! In fact, I saw a butterfly. One that had finally emerged from its long night captive in a cocoon, now beautiful and free to fly forth with a message of a mighty God’s blessing, grace and forgiveness before and after an adoption journey.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 goes on to say, I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.”

As authors, we need that sense of purpose God has intended for our work. We can delight in it if we remember that God has called us to do it, that the fruit of our labor is a gift from Him and that this is how we serve Him. Understanding and focusing our purpose and calling is what Marlene brings to authors with “Write His Answer” and her tireless efforts at running the GPCWC for decades. The dedicated, godly and professional people I’ve mentioned above are the kind she offers year after year for our benefit and instruction.

Were it not for a blurb in a writing magazine for the GPCWC I may not have seen How much did you pay for her? Forgiving the Words That Hurt Adoptive Families come to fruition.

How is God connecting your dots on your journey?

For more about my book, view my trailer at:

http://youtu.be/WhoehU5wH0E

Available now through www.clcpublications.com, www.amazon.com, www.christianbookdistributors.com and soon to be available in Barnes & Noble bookstores.

Interested in adoption? Check out my website at www.christinerhyner.com, or drop by my Facebook author page at www.Facebook.com/ChristineRhynerauthor

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pen & inkwell7 Reasons Why                                          You Need to Come

Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference

July 30 – August 2, 2014

 

 

1. To learn the craft of writing. Okay, maybe you’ve been writing for many years, but there is always more to learn. Master craftsmen will teach  workshops  and  continuing sessions that, as one conferee said, are the equivalent of a semester college course in writing.  You’ll learn from authors like Cec Murphey, Linda Evans Shepherd, Tim Shoemaker, and Jeanette Windle. And they are just four of the 56 authors, editors, agents, and publicists serving on this year’s faculty.

2.  To learn the craft of marketing your work to potential publishers or explore the how-to of indie publishing. If you’ve gotten more than your share of rejection slips or have yet to get your first rejection (I’m sorry, it goes with the territory of being a writer), GPCWC offers a “Get Published” track of six hour-long workshops that will provide practical help. In addition, literary agent, editor, and author Dave Fessenden is teaching a two-hour Wednesday early bird workshop, on “Book Proposals: The Front-End Method.” You also can choose Tim Shoemaker’s continuing session, “How to Get Published.” For those considering indie publishing. we have a two-hour “You Can Publish Your eBook” early bird workshop on Wednesday and a continuing session on how to professionally format a book interior for CreateSpace.

3. Face-to-face opportunities to pitch your work to editors and agents.  At GPCWC full-time conferees get FOUR 15-minute one-on-one appointments with the faculty of your choice. Because we have such a large faculty, there’s a good possibility that  even late registrants will get their top choices. On Thursday afternoon you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for additional appointments with faculty who still have openings. In today’s publishing world, the only way to connect with many agents and editors is through meeting them at a conference. Check out our helpful spreadsheets of their editorial needs. You’ll find links on the pages for our editors and agents. Anxious about meeting a real live editor or agent face-to-face? Jeanette Windle’s two “Practice Your Pitch” early bird workshops (one for nonfiction and the other for fiction) will help build your confidence. Our authors are also available for appointments. They can point out the strengths and weaknesses in your writing, answer questions, and provide helpful guidance.

4. To learn the craft of marketing/promoting your published work. And yes, it’s a craft, and not one that comes naturally to most writers.  I’ve often said that the reason I quit Girl Scouts is because of the stress of trying to sell cookies.  Whether or not you like marketing, the fact is that you hold the key to the sales of your book.  But the good news is that it’s a craft that can be learned. We’ve also got a track of six hour-long marketing workshops.

5. Friendships with other writers. My closest friends are writers I’ve met at writers’ conferences. In amazing ways writers connect deeply with one another more quickly than I ever have in the chit-chat before and after Sunday morning worship services. And we need each other. A key verse for me that I’ve experienced and sought to follow is 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Encourage each other to build each other up” (TLB). It happens at GPCWC!

6. Inspiration and encouragement to keep on keeping on. Our keynoters will challenge you to “Write His Answer.”

7. Direction from the Lord. Each year, and this is my 31st year directing GPCWC, I see God at work in Ephesians 3:20 ways.  He has a plan for you and for your writing.  He is the One who makes the impossible possible. Indeed, GPCWC is “More than a Writers Conference.”

There’s still time to register and to request appointments. Housing is still available in Cairn University’s Heritage Hall. None of the workshops or continuing sessions are filled because of the university’s large classrooms. If you need time payments or scholarship help, please ask. You can email me at mbagnull@aol.com or call 484-991-8581.

God bless you and your writing – Marlene

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Larry Carpenter

New Faculty Member
Larry Carpenter

Larry has been in the Christian publishing industry for 26 years, serving as:

President and CEO of the largest Christian distributor, Ingram/Spring Arbor
Vice President of Marketing for Thomas Nelson
President of Standard Publishing

Currently Larry serves as President and CEO of Christian Book Services, LLC. Larry works with authors desiring a contract with an established publisher, helping them to create their book proposal and find a literary agent.

For those authors desiring more control over the publishing of their book, Larry works with them to design their book, edit their book, get their book printed, and get it sold and distributed through all of the major book distributors. The price for this process, called “custom publishing,” is significantly lower and the quality of the design and editing of the book is significantly higher than that offered by the internet-based self-publishing companies.

In the last three years, Larry’s company has helped authors publish over 200 books through his publishing imprint of Carpenter’s Son Publishing.

Larry is available for 15 minute appointments as well as 30-minute paid critiques at the July 31 – August 3 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Because he is a late addition to the faculty, the due date for manuscripts (for Larry only) has been extended to July 25 by email. Paid critiques and appointments are available on a first-come basis, so if you plan to take advantage of this great opportunity, you need to register for the conference ASAP. I guarantee a paid critique with Larry will be worth far more than the $35 cost.

What others are saying:

Larry is a fantastic resource.  We recommend him at SuzyQ.
Shawn Kuhn

Fantastic! Larry’s got the experience, know-how, and servant’s heart
that will take authors a long way toward achieving their dreams. 
Tiffany Amber Stockton ~ Author

 Wow! Larry is super! I hope everyone who attends will get to be blessed by his presence there.
Once again, an indicator why this & CCWC are the best Christian writers conferences in the country.
Gretchen Passantino Coburn ~ Director, Answers in Action

It’s not too late to register for the conference but please note that after July 15 meals will cost more. I also can’t guarantee on-campus lodging after July 15. If needed, you can register with a deposit and pay the balance when you arrive or in time payments.

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