Workshops - Maranatha Christian Writers' Conference | Maranatha Christian Writers' Conference


Friday – 1:15-2:15pm            Workshops #1


1. Writing a Compelling Non-Fiction Book Proposal – Cindy Lambert

A book proposal that catches the attention of an acquiring editor—positive attention—needs more than just the inclusion of the right items. It needs to be based on a unique and winning idea; it needs the right tone; it needs the right personality; and it needs to be the best possible example of your writing ability. Learn how to create a compelling proposal from an editor responsible for discovering and publishing some of the most admired Christian authors writing today.

2. Advanced Dramatization—Learning to Say Anything Through Dialog and ActionDave Lambert

William Sloane said: “In its pure essence, a work of fiction is a sequence of scenes from page one to the end.” Yet too many novelists include, besides scenes of characters in action, everything from summary to sermonizing in their fiction. We’ll discuss how to write fiction in scenes only—and also how to effectively get into and out of a scene, how to select and organize scenes, and how to recognize the essential tasks required in those all-important first few lines of every scene.

3. Marketing and Platform: Turning These Twin Dreads into Your Biggest Assets – Cheri Cowell

They ask, “What is Your Platform?” and “What is Your Marketing Plan?” These two dreaded questions are part of the publishing reality. But how do you get a platform if you don’t have one, and what are you to do when the whole marketing thing overwhelms you? In this class you will learn to build on your strengths while tapping into a plan any writer can put into place. You will leave this class with a step-by-step course of action so you can confidently answer the twin questions with, “Yes, I have a platform and marketing plan, let me show you.”

Key concepts we will cover:

  • Are you a speaker or someone with a message?
  • Becoming the “expert”
  • Getting the gigs
  • The business side of writing- dollars and cents
  • Marketing verses Promotion
  • Getting more done with templates
  • Social Media, Article Writing, Networking
  • Begin before the book is written
  • A blueprint for action

4. From Proposal to Print – Shannon Popkin & Janyre Tromp

Get the perspective of an acquisition editor plus a first time author on your book’s progression from proposal to print. You’ll receive step-by-step insight into each part of the process.

With 19 years as both an acquisition editor and marketing specialist, Janyre Tromp offers her expertise on what makes a book proposal viable, and what the publisher wants and doesn’t want from the author. And first time author Shannon Popkin shares what surprised her most about the publishing journey, offering some tips for success as well as some mistakes to avoid.


Friday – 2:30-3:30pm            Workshops #2


1. Self-editing Your Manuscript—with Help from an Editor – Linda Taylor

Ready to go back over that first draft of your manuscript and polish it? Veteran editor and publishing professional Linda Taylor will walk through checklists and some examples of the first pages of manuscripts to help you get your work-in-progress in its best shape before you send it off. Bring your laptop with your manuscript on it. We’ll get it formatted correctly, and then we’ll spruce up those first pages. (If you’re willing to have your first pages used as an anonymous example, feel free to send to She will choose from among submissions. Please send no later than September 15, 2017.) 

2. Online Security and Privacy Issues – Christopher VanOosterhaut   

Both legitimate organizations and criminals have intentions on our data. It’s being collected, stored and analyzed in amazing ways.  These collection efforts can benefit us and make our lives easier but they can also endanger our well being.  We will tackle myths of data security and examine the risks related to your personal life and specifically how it relates to your calling as a writer. You’ll leave with usable tools and a better understanding of how to evaluate the risks to protect you, your your family and your intellectual property.

3.  The Seasons of Writing – Brian G. Phipps

If you’re discouraged because you just can’t seem to discipline yourself to write when you don’t feel like it, take heart. You can have a rich writing life without being prolific. For many writers, creativity is seasonal. Because we experience times when we don’t feel like writing (fallow seasons), as well as times when we do (fertile seasons), grace plays just as important a role as discipline in our productivity and perseverance as writers. If you don’t feel like writing, it’s okay. Don’t write. But be ruthless about writing when you do feel like it. Drawing on pastor Mark Buchanan’s ideas about seasons of spiritual growth (Spiritual Rhythm: Being with Jesus Every Season of Your Soul) and neurologist Alice Flaherty’s research on creativity and the brain (The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain), this presentation suggests ways to make the most of your fertile seasons.

4. Turning Personal Experience into a Devotional Message (Part 1) Susan King

The first of these two-part workshops will focus on the devotional market in general, as well as specialized writing for The Upper Room, the world’s premier daily devotional guide.


Friday – 3:45-4:45pm            Workshops #3


1. Today’s GPS for Writing Magazine Articles – Sandra Aldrich

As the former associate and senior editor for two major Christian magazines and the author of more than 500 articles, Sandra Aldrich is ready to outline basic magazine principles. Yes, numerous publications have ceased during the past decade. But a stroll past the magazine display at any major bookstore is a reminder of the welcome awaiting creative  ideas. So bring your notebook and a fresh determination to get into your favorite publication.          

2. Do I Need an Agent and How Do I Get One? – Dan Balow

This presentation will cover what an agent does, help a new author determine if they need one, how to get their attention and what an agent will do for you. Based on the goals of an author, an agent might not be necessary. But an agent is needed, certain things need to be understood about how an agent works and how they can benefit the author.            

3. A Busy Person’s Guide to Writing – Susan Call

Feel called to write & speak but have no idea how to fit it in to your busy life? Then this session is for you! Susan will explore tips, tricks, and life hacks to help you make your writing & speaking vision a reality.  From practical time use tricks to fun story boarding with Pinterest, you’ll take away tools to help your ministry take shape.                                                             
4. Turning Personal Experience into a Devotional Message (Part 2) Susan King

(Style: The Key to Excellence in ANY Writing)  Since only the most accomplished writers can create good devotionals, this second part is a crash course in the essential elements of excellent style for any genre. Participants will come away with concrete tools for producing polished works that dazzle both readers and editors.


Saturday – 9:45-10:45am            Workshops #4


1. 18 Rules for Contemporary WritingDoc Hensley

In this session Doc Hensley will explain how the world on online publishing, ebooks, screens and tablets, and digital publishing has altered the format and style of writing needed in the 21st century.  He will explain how to improve sentence structuring, make transitions smoother, select words for maximum impact, organize paragraphs more effectively, and use punctuation in powerful ways.                                                

2. Genres in Fiction – Travis Thrasher

Want to know the difference between writing a love story or a horror novel? Curious about teen fiction and why it’s so popular? What works well with suspense stories? Travis will talk about the different genres of fiction and what it’s like to work on them. This will include technical aspects, such as why the right point-of-view or structure matters so much.

3. The Ten Creative Commandments – Jim Watkins         

Christian authors and speakers are filled with the Spirit of the creative God of creation, so we should be the most creative people! Jim shares practically and humorously ten ways to develop your God-given creativity.

 4. The Tension of Two Callings – Katie Reid              

It is an honor to be called to minister but it is tough when you are called to more than one thing. How do you thrive in the tug of war between Titus 2 and the other giftings that God has entrusted to you? This session will give you encouraging support and practical strategies to navigate the tension of ministering inside and outside of the home.


Saturday – 11:00-12:00pm            Workshops #5


1. Binge WritingCyle Young

  • Discover the Binge Writer in you. For some, writing is a talent, a special gift they were naturally born with. But for most, writing is a craft, improved upon over time by intentional practice and repetition. Every writer has the potential to write thousands of words, but often times our lifestyle, atmosphere, and/or self-esteem holds us back.
  • In this workshop, you will learn how to unlock your subconscious, control your internal censor, harness your ideal writing time, capture ideas, set goals, and most importantly, get a lot of words down on paper.                                      

2. How to Be Your Publisher’s Dream Author – Jillian Schlossberg

Congratulations! Your book is being published! You are about to begin on the exhilarating, long, sometimes-confusing-but-totally-worth-it journey called the Publishing Process. If you are a first time author, this can be a scary prospect. But no fear! As an acquisitions editor at a major publishing house, I’ve collected all the tips and tricks of the trade for you to have the best experience possible—and to become a dream author for your Publisher.

3. Writing from your Area of Expertise – Brenda Yoder

Whether it’s blogging, writing an article, publishing a book or informational resource, God’s given you areas of expertise to share. In this workshop, you’ll be equipped to turn your skill-set and life experiences into professional articles. You’ll learn practical and powerful ways to write non-fiction to instruct and influence others.

4. To Tell or Not to Tell – Cindy Lambert

How much do I tell? How honest should I be? How do I balance authenticity with the need for privacy and sensitivity to others involved in my story? Cindy will explore the questions and reveal principles, practices, and techniques to guide you in writing with transparency while honoring the others in your life.


Saturday – 1:15-2:15pm             Workshops #6


1. Memoir WritingTravis Thrasher

Everybody has a story to tell, whether they’re “famous” or not. Writing that story, however, can be difficult, especially when it’s your own. Travis will share his experiences of having co-written and ghost-written a variety of memoirs, from young celebrities to successful businessman to grandfathers wanting their story told for the grandchildren. How you structure a memoir is incredibly important. Not only that, a memoir will work not because of what you include in the story but what you decide to leave out.

2. Building Online Communities… for Dummies – Kate Montaung

In this session, attendees will learn practical ways to find and build community online as Christian writers. Specific tips will be shared, including starting a blog, participating in blog link-ups, guest blogging, contributing to online publications, joining hashtag conversations and weekly parties on Twitter, joining a Christian Writers’ Facebook group, joining a membership site, starting an online discussion group, etc. Links and names of groups will be shared for attendees to research and consider for participation after the conference.

3.Writing Kid’s Devotionals – Crystal Bowman

Devotions for kids are often in demand with Christian publishers. But in order to catch the attention of a good publisher, writers need to learn everything they can about this genre. In this session, we will take an in-depth look at creating devotions for children that will reach today’s market. We will discuss what Bible translations to use, whether to write in first, second, or third person, the use of fiction or non-fiction stories, and how to incorporate spiritual take away for the reader.

4. Why You’re Not Getting Book Contracts & What to do About It – Eddie Jones

The book publishing industry changed last decade … year … month. Did you?  Learn the top seven mistakes writers make when they pitch their book and what to do about it.