Bonnie S. Calhoun
the Founder and Publisher of Christian Fiction Online
Magazine . She is also the Owner and Director of the Christian
Fiction Blog Alliance which is the parent organization for
My oldest granddaughter just completed first grade. I’m amazed at all she learned and what she is reading. No more boring “See Dick Run.” Stories for beginning readers have come a long way since I was in first grade.
The same is true with Christian fiction, thanks, in part, to the seasoned pros who view teaching at writers’ conferences as a way to give back. And what an exciting line-up of authors, as well as agents and editors, we have at this year’s GPCWC, August 10–13. Joyce Magnin again will lead our clinic for Not-Yet Published Novelists. Joyce has been part of GPCWC for more years than I can remember, first as a conferee and then as a faculty member. In September 2009, Abingdon Press published her first Bright’s Pond novel, The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. The fourth book in the series, Blame It on the Mistletoe, is releasing this September. And August 18, her first middle grade novel, Carrying Mason, will be released as a result of meeting the editor from Zonderkidz at last year’s conference.
Joyce’s clinic will be limited to ten writers, by application due July 16. Applicants need a draft of at least 10,000 words and the desire to learn, grow, laugh, and experiment. “Are you serious about finishing and submitting your novel?” Joyce asks. “Are you submitting but collecting rejections? Sometimes fun, always encouraging, and always truthful, this clinic will get to the heart of your situation and provide the tools necessary to help you rise above the run-of-the-mill slush.”
Those not participating in a clinic, can choose six workshops from the forty-two offered. Nicole Resciniti, agent with The Seymour Agency, will teach Conflict: The Core of a Novel. Nicole is actively building her client list. She represents romance (all genres), YA, action/suspense, mysteries, commercial thrillers, Christian/inspirational, and sci-fi/fantasy/UF. She is especially interested in historical romances. She is also teaching a Wednesday early-bird workshop, Good vs. Great, where you’ll learn the difference between selling and slushing through an in-depth analysis of what distinguishes an amazing manuscript from an average one. She also will give tips on how to improve your current WIP, with an eye toward making the material marketable.
Other workshops opposite Joyce’s clinic include Created for a Sensory Experience taught by Gary Burlingame, a professional environmental scientist who has more than twenty-five years of experience studying, lecturing, and teaching on the human senses for evaluating changes in the environment. In his workshop you’ll discover nine human senses, hear what the Bible says about them, get links to websites, and have fun with class exercises. Your writing and speaking will improve with better sensory descriptions.
It is a rare author who doesn’t struggle with point of view, and no one explains it better than Tim Shoemaker. His workshop on Pesky Point of View Problems is understandable, entertaining, and interactive. You’ll have no excuse for messing up your POV after listening to Tim.
You know your first chapter is not as strong as it needs to be and that your last chapter also needs work. Rowena Kuo, Executive Editor for Harpstring Magazine and Books, will teach Take Off & Land Without Crashing. She will present the top ten elements to a stunning first and last chapters. Harpstring is part of the expanding publishing program of Written World Communications. Rowena is looking for Christian fiction, any genre, including but not limited to: romance, women’s fiction, lit, mystery, suspense/thriller, historical fiction, and international fiction.
Do you have a strong plot but weak characters? Learn about primary and secondary characters, heroes and villains, protagonists and antagonists, and how to avoid stereotypes in Torry Martin’s workshop, Creating Original Characters. Torry is an award-winning actor, screenwriter, comedian, and author. He will be representing Lillenas Drama Publishers.
Last month’s cover girl, multi-award-winning author Kathi Macias, will use Romans 12 to explore how to create three-dimensional characters your readers can relate to and care about in her Creating Motivated Characters workshop. Kathi will be representing New Hope Publishers, AuthorHouse, and WestBow.
Whew! And I haven’t begun to tell you about our continuing sessions that meet at a different time from the workshops and clinic. Literary agent Les Stobbe will teach three sessions in the
Advanced Writers continuing session: Enhancing Your Role as a Writer, Writing Biblically for Life Impact, and Navigating Book Collaboration and Contract Negotiation. Linda Waterman will address Developing a Personal Marketing Strategy. Cindy Sproles and Eddie Jones will talk about Amazing Marketing Results for Little or No Money. Cec Murphey is teaching Dancing with Dialogue, a continuing session that every fiction writer can benefit from because dialogue isn't only having people say things.
Is suspense/thrillers your genre? This continuing session will cover every aspect of writing a suspense/thriller readers won’t be able to put down, from idea inception to starting with a bang, pacing, characters, dialogue, mood, violence, to incorporating themes into your story. We’ll also look at wrapping up, rewriting, polishing, and perfecting that eye-catching proposal that will move your thriller all the way from concept to publisher’s contract. Mike Dellosso, author of four Christian thrillers, The Hunted, Scream, Darlington Woods, and Darkness Follows, will teach three of the workshops. Jeanette Windle, award-winning political suspense novelist, will teach the other two. Jeanette also will represent Kregal Books, which is always looking for top-notch fiction (YA and adult).
For those who hope to one day see their novels become screenplays, Dr. Ted Baehr, founder and chairman of The Christian Film and Television Commission, will teach a continuing session on Breakthrough Scriptwriting. You’ll learn how to write a script that is structurally sound, entertaining, morally responsible, and marketable.
Speaking of marketable, we’ve got a track of six workshops on Getting Published and six on Marketing. We also have a third agent: Diana Flegal from Hartline Literary Agency. Although Diana’s focus is nonfiction, she considers well-written fiction as well. She has a passion for getting great writers published, also for venturing into the ABA market. All material must be written from a Christian worldview but does not have to be overtly evangelical.
Other editors at the conference who are looking for fiction include: Cynthia Ballenger, Lift Every Voice, Moody Press African American Imprint, and Tony Bonds, editor for Rainbow Books and Legacy Press, who will teach Writing Fiction Children Want to Read as part of the continuing session Writing for Children. Pam Halter, Children’s Editor with Halo Publishing, a complete publishing service for everything from children’s picture books through adult novels. Pam is the facilitator of Thursday’s expanded Teens Write program.
Vie Herlocker, editor with Sonfire Publishing, is looking for speculative fiction, including supernatural suspense that is gripping, well-written, and reveals the truth of spiritual warfare. Jeff Nesbit, Managing Director, OakTara Publishers, wants fresh fiction for adults in every genre—biblical, classic & allegory, fantasy, futuristic, general, historical, issues, legal/political thrillers, mystery & detective, romance, romance-suspense, sci-fi, suspense. He is also open to cutting-edge fiction for young adults (11–17 years).
Dina Sleiman, acquisitions editor with WhiteFire Publishing, loves stories that take risks. She is open to historicals (exotic settings welcome!), historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, suspense, supernatural thrillers, speculative, and is receptive to queries on other genres.
GPCWC has loads of opportunities for learning and connecting. Our Appointments Coordinator, Bonnie Calhoun, makes it easy for you to connect with editors, agents, and authors through our new online appointment request system. If you register for all three days (Thursday through Saturday), you are entitled to four fifteen-minute appointments with the faculty of your choice, depending, of course, on availability. The sooner you register, the more likely you’ll be able to get your top choices.
So don’t delay! The price increases after July 15. A scholarship for 50 percent off your registration fee is available for two CFOM readers. Go to www.writehisanswer.com/scholarships.htm for application (due July 10).
God bless you as you keep writing, learning, and connecting with authors, agents, and editors who can help you get your novel in print.