Q and A with Jim Hart

 

Jim is a literary agent with the Hartline Agency, as well as a singer and songwriter with a long history of involvement in youth and music ministry. He will be teaching “Peace in the Literary Storm” and “Starting Strong,” as well as taking appointments.

 

Q: Where do you live and where did you grow up?

A: I’ve lived in Pittsburgh since 1978. Dad is a pastor and we lived in a number of states when I was growing up. Living in Colorado for a few years was pretty nice.

Q: What was one of your favorite books as a child?

A:  The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Q:  Have you ever visited the home of anyone historically famous?

A:  I’ve been to Calamity Jane’s house when we lived in Sturgis, S.D.

Q: What are you currently reading for pleasure?

A: Eminent Hipsters by Donald Fagen

Q: What animal do you most identify with as a writer and why?

A: A squirrel – short attention span.

Q: Do you consider yourself an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between?

A: I am a card-carrying Myers-Briggs INFP

Q: Can you tell about the hardest day in your writing life?

A:  The toughest day was when a single publisher rejected four of my client’s proposals in one e-mail.

Q: What advice would you give attendees to help them make the most of their time at a writers’ conference?

A:  Learn – soak it all in!  And then make an attainable action plan when returning home – follow through!

Q: What are you most looking forward to during your faculty stint at St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference this June?

A: I love talking with writers, their creativity is inspiring!

Thank you, Jim. Learn more about Jim Hart by visiting his agency’s website at http://hartlineagency.com/.

Check out all our 2017 workshops and click here to register!

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Q and A with Eva Marie Everson

Eva Marie Everson is an award-winning author and speaker, editor at Firefly Southern Fiction, president of Word Weavers International, and the director of the Florida Christian Writers Conference.

She will be teaching the continuing class “Foundation of Fiction through Film.” She will teach the workshop “First Page Critique” with Michelle Metlock Adams. Eva will also take appointments with authors.

Q: Eva, tell us something about your background.

A: I was born and reared in a small agricultural Southern town near the coast of Georgia. This, of course, is where the rich fodder for my Southern fiction comes from…

At 19 I moved across the state to Albany, Georgia … then met my husband. Years later we moved to Orlando where we’ve been ever since.

Q: What was one of your favorite books as a child?

A: As a little child, To Dance, To Dream, which was given to me by my aunt and grandmother to celebrate my love for dancing. At the age of about 14 I read Mr. & Mrs. Bo Jo Jones, which changed my life. I not only knew for sure I wanted to be a writer, I read that book more times than I can count.

Q: What are you currently reading for pleasure?

A: Since You’ve Been Gone, by Christa Allen

Q: What animal do you most identify with as a writer and why?

A: An ant. I carry a lot on my shoulders … and I rarely stop moving.

Q: Do you consider yourself an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between?

A: An introvert. Totally. Everything I do “on stage” is done painfully.

Q: Can you share a story about the hardest day in your writing life?

A: How about the day I got a call that I had two months to completely rewrite an 85,000-word novel, taking it from first-person POV to five third-person POVs … and 120,000 words?

I stared at the computer for about 24 hours before I could write the first word! LOL

Q: What advice would you give attendees to help them make the most of their time at a writers’ conference?

A: Sleep when you go home. Take advantage of every single minute.

Look for the God-meetings. You know, those times when God brings someone into your path who He intends will change your world. Also, look for those times when God brings you into someone’s path … you know, those He intends for you to change their world.

Q: What are you most looking forward to during your faculty stint at St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference this June?

A: I appreciate the close-knit group at St. Davids. There is a family-feel there. And I love my family! 🙂

Thank you, Eva Marie. Learn more about Eva Marie Everson by visiting her website at https://www.evamarieeversonauthor.com/.

Check out all our 2017 workshops and click here to register!

 

 

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St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference Offers Special Value

By Crystal Hayduk

“She can turn a dime into a dollar,” said my father, praising my mother’s ability to balance the household budget. Frugality runs in my family, a result of surviving the Irish Potato Famine, a hardscrabble existence, and eventual immigration to Pennsylvania. Even then, my ancestors practiced thrift on the farm as they strived to improve their financial lot. Their prudent use of resources got them through two world wars and the Great Depression.

Since my parents and grandparents lived the well-known mantra, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without,” economy is second-nature. I don’t like to spend money without assurance of the value of the goods and services I will receive. Value is one of the reasons I first chose to attend St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference, and the reason I choose to return.

Most people attend conferences to learn new things, and at St. Davids, full-time conferees get information from Wednesday evening through Sunday morning. You’ll be inspired by the keynote presentations of best-selling authors. On each full day, there is a general session (all about marketing at this year’s conference), along with three separate classes on a variety of topics related to the writing life and publication. You can choose from continuing courses or pick something different for each class. (See this year’s schedule at http://stdavidswriters.com/conference/schedule/.)

Of equal importance is networking. Conferees interact with faculty, agents, editors, and other writers whose experience ranges from beginner to advanced. During an entire conference, that’s networking during eleven meals, three late-night snacks, six breaks, and three extended break times or genre critique groups. (See this year’s currently scheduled faculty at http://stdavidswriters.com/conference/markets/.)

Now that you’ve committed to get out there and learn something new, you need to think about location. St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference is held on the scenic campus of Grove City College. Its beautiful landscaping and interesting architecture provide a relaxing, vacation feel. The small town of Grove City is in western Pennsylvania, roughly halfway between Pittsburgh and Erie, and only a short drive from either I-79 or I-80. (If you are a savvy outlet shopper and have some time to spare before or after the conference, Grove City Premium Outlets are only about five miles away. Sometimes I manage to do some birthday or Christmas shopping before heading home to Michigan – if the price is right, of course.)

There’s no need to be concerned about the additional cost of a hotel while attending St. Davids, because room and board are included for full-time conferees. Imagine moving into an air-conditioned apartment where you get your own bedroom retreat (although you will share a bathroom with one other person). Each apartment also has a spacious living area and kitchen for hanging out with your newfound friends.

Three cafeteria-style meals a day are provided in the Breen Student Union, with a variety of large and small tables to facilitate friendly discussion. If you still have energy past 9 p.m., you can enjoy snacks and more networking in the basement lounge of the apartment building each evening.

St. Davids offers on-site entertainment. There’s an open mic night on Thursday, so consider signing up to share a talent or a reading from your work. And there is a hilarious auction on Friday night that you won’t want to miss. Money raised at the auction funds conference scholarships for the following year, so it’s all for an excellent cause.

You’ll even have the opportunity to dress up for a special evening on Saturday when St. Davids hosts a delicious banquet in Rathburn Hall as part of the conferee awards ceremony. If you entered any of the free writing contests, you might be a winner.

Three and a half days of conference and networking, four nights of lodging, meals, and entertainment with friendly folk in a lovely location – all this and more for the incredible bargain of $535.

If you can’t spare that much time, or you live close enough to drive each day, see the registration page (http://stdavidswriters.com/conference/registration/) for alternate price points.

Come and see why author and speaker James Watkins dubbed the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference “the happiest conference on earth.”

I’ll see you in June!

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Crystal Hayduk is a freelance writer and part-time university instructor who currently serves as president of St. Davids Christian Writers’ Association. She and her husband, the Duke of DIY, live in a partially finished house in rural Southeast Michigan. Their daughters help them save money by clever consignment shopping and cutting the Duke’s hair.

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Stalled Submissions

by Audrey Stallsmith

My father once received a check for a poem that had been sent to a farming magazine over two years earlier. The check was tucked inside the issue of the magazine with the poem in it.

Dad, now 88 years old, doesn’t do e-mail, so I’d originally submitted three poems for him. That summer the magazine published one and paid him for it. Over the many seasons that elapsed afterward, we forgot about the other two. So, when the second check and its accompanying issue arrived, we experienced one of those pleasant surprises that sometimes come to writers—and almost make all the rejection worthwhile.

My father’s poem was about how goldenrod consumes abandoned farms. Upon thinking it over, I realized that the quarterly magazine would only have one issue a year in which they could publish autumn poems. So it’s no wonder it took a while.

I experienced a similar delay with an article of my own, which I sent to another magazine the same year I submitted Dad’s poems. Although the editor had requested the piece, I received no response, even after sending him an inquiring e-mail a few months later. Assuming that he hadn’t liked the article, I didn’t think much more about the matter, except to conclude that he was rude for not telling me so.

That editor called me, almost two years after I submitted the piece, to apologize for losing it. Having recently stumbled across it again, he wanted to publish it.

Before agreeing, I had to scramble to make sure that the event about which I’d written was still being held and that someone could supply more current photos of it. The article did eventually appear in the magazine—almost three years after its submission! It taught me that I might sometimes be too pessimistic about editors and the reasons for their silences.

Of course, not all of them are so poky. In an unusual burst of energy, I recently got my act together enough to submit seven different articles to as many different periodicals. I included a previously published one on guinea incubation which I considered a long shot for the magazine I’d selected. But, since sending it by e-mail wouldn’t cost me anything, what did I have to lose?

I received an acceptance the following day because the magazine just happened to be putting together a special poultry issue at the time. That proves the electronic age sometimes can expedite matters in fortuitous fashion. But not always! I also received three not-quite-as-prompt rejections, and am still waiting to hear from the other editors.

Does all this mean there’s still hope for the novels I submitted to publishing houses six or seven months ago? Perhaps. These incidents prove that, even in this fast-paced digital age, getting published still can take time. Sometimes plenty of it!

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Registrar for St. Davids, Audrey Stallsmith authored the Thyme Will Tell mystery series from WaterBrook Press, The Body They May Kill from Thomas Nelson, and e-books titled Love and Other Lunacies and Inklings of Truth. Her recent article in Writer’s Digest was reprinted in the magazine’s Novel Writing yearbook. You can also visit Audrey on her website here.

 

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Whatever It Takes

by Susan Boltz

For some of my friends, writing is their deepest passion and pleasure. If you stuck them on a desert island, they’d immediately find a stick and begin chronicling feelings, poems, and stories in the sand. Then they’d go look for water. After finding water, they’d have to find rocks to scrape together to make a more permanent record of their musings. That’s just who they are.

I’ve never told my friends the truth. I envy them. I don’t enjoy writing. The process is no fun for me, and at times it’s excruciating. Why do I bother at all? Seems to be God’s calling in my life. Why would He ask me to do something that I don’t want to do, have spent years learning, and seems painful? Everyone since Moses asks these questions, and only God knows.

He puts stories in my life, teaches me, and then won’t let me get a decent night’s sleep until I write them down. He places people in my life who encourage (nag) me to submit them or more sleep will be lost. I call it a spiritual discipline and keep going. I could be playing a computer game now, but instead I have to share this with you (I want to rest well tonight). I need the discipline, so I can glimpse God’s glory.

His glory came to me in a fan letter. I’d never had one of those before. The letter was in reference to a Chicken Soup story I wrote last year, The Power of Gratitude – The Grocery Store. It came from our local school superintendent: “Sometimes God puts something you need to read right in your path. This story made a difference in my life.”

I struggled and prayed to write that story. Agonized to make the story flow, the internal dialog clear and find the right ending. I am so humbled because it was God who wrote that story and used my friends in my discomfort. That’s why everyone writes—to make a difference. Thanks to our Lord and St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference. Perhaps writing is difficult for you too, but God keeps calling you. He’s placed people at St. Davids who can help you become who He’s calling you to be. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it all.

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Susan Boltz has been published in The Upper Room, Vista Magazine, and Penned from the Heart.  Lately, she’s been featured in the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, The Power of Forgiveness (page 287) and The Power of Gratitude (page 237).  Although retired, she stays young by teaching a High School class on Sundays, and the students help her embrace technology.

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In the Nick of Time

By Crystal Hayduk

Christmas is only a few days away. Unless you’re one of those organized and efficient types who plan far in advance, chances are panic is setting in because your heart is full but your hands are empty. You desire to fill a stocking or put a memorable gift under the tree for that special someone.  Maybe you spend Christmas Eve at the department store in search of a previously unclaimed prize, or scour the local drug store for a last-minute token before dawn on Christmas morning.

Like the angel of the Lord said when greeting the shepherds the night Jesus was born, I say to you: Fear not. For behold, I bring you a great idea for a memorable Christmas gift that will cause great joy for writers everywhere. For to you is given this day the easiest solution ever–it is a contribution to help fund an experience like no other. This shall be the sign: you will find the gift in a plain white envelope.

st-davids-christian-writers-conference-registration

And the writers will say to each other, “Let’s go to Grove City June 21- 25, 2017, and attend the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference that we have heard about.”

And after the writers had attended the conference, they spread the word about what they had learned and how they had been encouraged, and all were amazed at what the writers said and wrote.

Registration for the next St. Davids Christian Writers Conference is expected to open in early 2017. But in the meantime, think about the many ways to give the gift of conference to someone you care about. Perhaps you can cover the full cost of registration. Maybe you can afford to cover just tuition or room and board. If your resources are more limited, any conferee could use a gas card to help with transportation costs, or a gift card to cover the cost of meals while traveling. A contribution of any amount that will help get your family member or friend to conference would be greatly appreciated.

When you help get a writer to conference, you are truly providing a gift that keeps on giving. Conference benefits include information and education, skill advancement, networking, encouragement, inspiration–among friendly people in an inviting environment.

Maybe best of all, your gift will nurture and support a writer’s calling and talent.

Christmas Eve is just around the corner, but you can still manage to invest in someone’s life with a simple gift–in the nick of time.

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Registration for the June 2017 St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference is scheduled to open in early January. Fee for full-time conferees staying on campus with all meals included is $564. Other plans available at reduced prices.

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Choosing An Editor

by Sue A. Fairchild

When a new author contacts me about editing work, I always cringe a bit inside because their first question inevitably is, “How much do you charge?” (Why is everyone’s first thought about money?) Now, I know my worth (especially in the editing realm), but all too often I see that authors will go for the cheapest editor they can find. This is not always the best practice.

I read this blog post from Richard Adin this morning on “The American Editor.” What insightful info! I suggest you read it and take every nuance to heart. What Mr. Adin is saying here is that money is not solely the basis of what you should be considering when picking your editor. And I agree.

Let’s consider this: You want to buy a toaster. (Does anyone still use toasters?) You buy the cheapest one because, well, it’s just for making toast. That makes sense. If it dies next week, you only have to go buy another. And, chances are, it won’t die next week so that’s even better.

BUT. Now think about your novel. Your baby. You’ve spent how long agonizing over it, seeking out the best possible words, and giving up early mornings and nights to write (while avoiding the kids and hubby) just so you could have a manuscript that might actually sell. And now you need an editor, but you have no money (because you’ve spent too long working on this novel and not making any). So you choose an editor who promises to edit the entire 100,000-word manuscript for $100. What a bargain! Soon your masterpiece will be out there in the world for everyone to read!

Every. One.

some-editors-want-to-change-your-writing-some-want-to-help

So when that two-bit editor doesn’t do a good job (because who could do that job correctly for $100?), every single person who reads your baby, your life’s work, will see every misspelled word, every gap in the timeline, and every error that editor left behind. (And don’t think you don’t make errors. We all do. It’s a fact. We are blind to our own mistakes—a novel always needs a second set of professional eyes.)

Do you want a manuscript fraught with errors that people won’t want to read? I don’t think so.

As a legitimate editor, I don’t want that, either. So here is what I do for new clients.

  1. I don’t make promises I’m not sure I can keep. Until I see your work, I have no idea of the quality of your writing. Don’t take that the wrong way—you might be a great story teller, but just a bad speller.
  2. I give my per-hour rate ($50), but I also suggest a small free sample edit of your work. This serves two purposes: 1) You can see how I edit; and 2) I can see how you write.
  3. I give the big picture. When I’ve completed your sample edit (which I time myself for so I can get a good idea of how long your whole story will take), I provide you with a total cost.
  4. I give options. I like to work within an author’s budget and I want to still give them the best possible editing I can. So, if I know the work is going to take a lot and they are low on funds, we spread out the editing (and the billing). After all, it took you two years to write this baby; why should it be edited in less than a week?

Here are some things I want you to consider if you’re looking for an editor:

  1. It’s a relationship. Every person I edit for starts a friendship. I invest in their work just as much as they have and I get to know that author over time. This is essential in keeping an author’s voice. How can I, as an editor, not get to know the author a bit and keep their voice?
  2. It’s not a race. You didn’t write this book overnight. You invested your precious time into it. Let the editor have their time, too.

One last thought…my dad is a carpenter. When he makes something, he first cuts out the wood, then puts the framing of the piece together (your first draft), then he sands it down a few times (your second and third—or more—drafts), then he adds the stain (my first round of editing) and then, finally, the polish or the lacquer that makes it shine (my final editing pass). Good, quality things take time and effort in many different ways. Good books do, too.

* This post was originally published on Sue’s Simple Snippets.

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frontalshoteditedSue is a freelance editor and OCD sufferer (which works well for editing). She works with a variety of clients through the Christian Editor Connection as well as a secular online publisher. Her strengths are substantive editing for the Christian market, but she enjoys editing novels and stories of many genres (YA being her current favorite). She can be found at Sue’s Simple Snippets and @suefair48 on Twitter.

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Interview with Faculty Member: Carol Hamilton

by Linda M. Au

What types of writers will benefit from your class on public speaking? What stage of their careers might they be in?

Writers have a message to share. Public speaking gives them another avenue to proclaim the words God has put on their hearts.

Editors prefer authors with the desire and ability to promote and sell their books. Improving public speaking skills will benefit published authors by helping them share their message and sell more books. Writers who strive toward publication can develop a platform which will make them more appealing to editors.

Who needs to know how to speak in public? Writers tend to be introverted, so public speaking may be difficult for some of us. Why can’t we just sit behind our keyboards and write?

Publishing houses don’t have the funding to heavily promote the books they publish. They rely on their authors. I understand introverts and have tricks to help them feel more comfortable presenting to an audience.

You always seem so self-confident and full of poise when you speak. Must we be born with these traits to succeed as you do, or can some of this be learned?

What a nice compliment, Linda. Thank you! I’m always nervous before I speak. I use that adrenaline for extra vigor during the presentation. Usually I tell God I prefer to stay home, but that I will share the message He has for me, for His glory, and I ask Him to guide and help me. He gives me confidence through Christ.

Some world-class professionals say if they stop being nervous before a speech, they’ll quit because their edge will be gone.

I know people who were so anxious speaking before others they shook or couldn’t get the words out. They learned the skills, overcame their fears, and are now comfortable making presentations.

How much of a modern-day writer’s success needs to be tied up in public speaking? What sorts of public speaking should a writer be doing?

How many books do they want to sell? Do they have a message that will benefit others? Will people grow from what God has placed on their hearts to share?

Often book signings are unsuccessful, but if you provide entertainment or information your sales can improve.

Non-fiction writers tend to have a topic they can expound on in a presentation. What about fiction writers? In this class we’ll study your fiction and find a theme or message you can develop.

There are many places authors can speak gratis with the opportunity to sell books. In the workshop, we’ll discuss obtaining gigs and find ways to be paid for presentations.

Thank you for asking these thoughtful questions, Linda. Public Speaking for Writers will provide skills for anxious authors and professional tips for seasoned speakers. Everyone can improve for His glory.

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Hamilton

Carol Hamilton is associated with National Speakers Association, Toastmasters International, American Christian Fiction Writers, Mission to the World Disaster Response Ministry and others. In the Thursday-Saturday workshop “Public Speaking for Writers,” Carol will share practical ways to prepare and present an engaging talk for any audience. Click here to register.

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Poetry: New Truth From Old Stuff

by Lora Zill

This class at St. Davids Conference this year will appeal to poets at any level, but all wordsmiths will benefit. Learning to write poetry teaches the nonfiction or fiction writer how to choose the right word and create sensory imagery with layered meanings.

I will talk about the process of writing poetry, its art and craft. We will learn techniques and devices and develop a feel for the art of language and how it works.  I encourage participation so come ready to offer your insights into the artistic writing process! Of course, you are welcome to come and just absorb.

I’ll share favorite poems as examples of art and craft. I will bring lots of hands-on activities, like seed catalogs, paint chips, newspapers, word tiles, crayons, and stained glass to generate ideas. To highlight the sounds of language we’ll watch and discuss short videos of poetry being performed during a national competition called Poetry Out Loud.  (I’m the NW PA regional coordinator for Erie Arts and Culture.)

One of poetry’s biggest rewards comes from trusting the reader to “get it.” Poems create a space for the writer to imply and the reader to infer.  There the writer and reader meet to wrestle with life’s most important questions.

Ted Kooser says, “In writing poetry, even those poems that fail and fail miserably, we honor and affirm life.” So, come to Poetry: New Truth From Old Stuff for fun, interactive workshops that will dare us to write poems and not worry about perfection. We will explore, learn, discover, and enjoy the art of the written and spoken word and discover the Root and Wellspring of our creativity, Jesus Christ.

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LoraZillLora Zill teaches at Gannon University and in Allegheny College’s gifted program for public school students. She is a teaching artist with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a conference speaker. She is working on a book about creative expression and feeling God’s pleasure. Check out Lora’s class Writing the “Good Poem” Thursday through Saturday at this year’s conference.

 

 

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Interview with Faculty Member: Bob Hostetler

Hostetler2Bob Hostetler is an award-winning writer, editor, pastor and speaker from southwestern Ohio. His 36 books, which include The Bone Box and American Idols (The Worship of the American Dream), have sold millions of copies. He has co-authored 11 books with Josh McDowell, including the best-selling Right from Wrong (What You Need to Know to Help Youth Make Right Choices) and the award winning Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door. He has won 2 Gold Medallion Awards, 4 Ohio Associated Press awards, and an Amy Foundation Award, among others.

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You were a hit at last year’s conference, and a lot of people wanted you to come back. What kind of background do you have in writing, and how and why did you pursue it?

I often tell people I was raised in a family of readers and writers, so I’ve more or less been a writer all my life. I think the first time I saw my name in a publication was in Highlights magazine (I sent in a joke, which they printed, and then later sent in a drawing or two, which they also printed). I was fourteen or fifteen when I enjoyed my first byline (and payment!), for an article I sent to my denomination’s teen magazine. As a young man in ministry training, I took a creative writing course and submitted a few pieces, which were also published. As a young pastor, I continued to write occasional pieces for publication, which continued with some regularity until I composed my first two book proposals in my late twenties.

How did you get your name out there? That is, what did you start doing first?

I don’t know that my name is “out there” yet. My first few books were coauthored with Josh McDowell, so my name was the least important information on those books. I’m not a natural marketer or platform-builder by any means; I just do my best to keep after it. I have blogged regularly since 2005. I regularly update my website (bobhostetler.com). I speak at around twenty conferences, retreats, and churches every year. I pay careful attention to my Twitter feeds and Facebook friends, and keep them updated (but never inundated) with news about my publishing and speaking efforts. And so on.

Last year you said that the nonfiction market is far larger than the fiction market. In your experience, what can/should people do to get published?

Many of the people I meet at writers’ conferences are most interested in writing the next Great American Novel or publishing their memoirs. But those are pretty steep mountains to climb, so to speak. It is a far more likely path to publication and impact to pursue the many and varied streams of nonfiction in magazines and books, from puzzles and crafts to Bible studies and devotions, and more. I encourage aspiring writers not to focus so much on “getting published” as on “being read.” That can change the equation and bring a lot of joy while often leading to surprising results.

What is your spiritual/religious background, and how does that impact your writing?

I was raised in a Christian family and came to faith as a child. My faith background is The Salvation Army, which many people still don’t realize is a denomination in the Wesleyan tradition. I started ministry in The Salvation Army, and owe an immeasurable debt to that wonderful band of people. When I planted a non-denominational church in 2000, much of my ministry training from The Salvation Army went into that church’s formation and growth. Today, my family and I worship and serve at Cincinnati’s Vineyard Community Church. All of that—along with regular prayer retreats at a Catholic monastery, fellowship with family and friends from a wide range of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, and more—has richly contributed to my writing over the years. I think my solid background and varied experiences have made my writing much more accessible and informative than it would have been otherwise.

Check out Bob’s three day Nonfiction Book Writing Course at this year’s conference!

 

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