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. Writing Great Devotionals – Susan King

Do you want to write with such sparkle and verve that you’ll knock the socks off editors? Do you want them to be falling all over themselves to publish your submission and then clamoring for anything you plan to write in the future?

As all professional writers know, the longer a work, the easier it is to write. The inverse is also true: the hardest piece to write is the shortest—a poem or a devotional. That’s why any class about writing devotionals also has to be a class about advanced writing techniques. We’ll start with the essentials for writing for the Christian market and specific do’s and don’ts in writing devotionals and move on to detailed instruction in the elements of great style in any genre. Participants will come away with concrete tools for self-editing to produce polished works that will delight editors and publishers.

Participants are welcome to bring any unpublished devotional they’ve ever written (including ones that were not accepted by The Upper Room), and we’ll have our own writers’ critique group. We may not look at every meditation in every portfolio, but every participant will get to read at least one devotional for the group to discuss and offer feedback on, with suggestions for making it fit The Upper Room.                                                                            

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. What to do with a Blank PageBob Hudson

4. The Best (and I Mean Best) Way to Build Your Author Platform- Linda Taylor 

Authors don’t like to think about the importance of building a platform They want to just write their books and watch them climb best-seller lists. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. But building your platform isn’t about tooting your own horn or getting people to buy your book. Instead it’s about finding your “tribe,” appreciating others’ work, connecting, and being interested in what others are doing. This is important (even vital) for all writers–published or not–because we’re all part of the literary community. In this session, we’ll learn about blogging and tweeting and connecting–all to join the literary community and build a platform in a non-scary way. Come if you’re published; come if you’re not. It’s about “literary citizenship.”


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 & Speaking – 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. How an Editor Strengthens Your Writing – Natalie Nyquist

Natalie interacts with participants’ previously submitted writing samples as a book editor might copyedit a contracted manuscript for a publishing house. As she works through the samples she will share her thought process on possible changes and levels of editing that address errors or clarify passages. In contrast to a “thick-skinned critique,” Natalie will focus on how an editor might strengthen the text structure, not content, with minimal intrusion.  Anyone attending is welcome to submit a 2-3 page writing sample to: Please send your writing as a Word document and include your name, email address, and the title/genre of the piece.  (All samples will be presented anonymously unless otherwise requested.)


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


1. 18 Rule 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. Writing Kid’s DevotionalsCrystal 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. 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. Point of View & Voice – Dave Lambert

Sherri Szeman: “It is not an exaggeration to say that a novel is its point of view.” Even so, too few novelist understand not only how to select an appropriate viewpoint for their story, but also how to maximize the effectiveness of POV in drawing readers into their stories. We’ll examine these issues in depth—and also explore the related and crucial issue of voice—What is it, and how can you select the best narrative voice for the story you have to tell? How does it differ from POV?

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. Go Green!Cheri Cowell           

Do you know what an evergreen article is? Are you aware every publisher wants evergreen articles? Come learn how to meet publishers’ needs by writing these timely, relevant pieces, and receive over 100 “I can write that” article ideas.

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.