ARCHIVE February, 2012

Inspire Member Spotlight: Lori Hartin

How long have you been a member of Inspire Christian Writers?

I joined Inspire in 2011.

What prompted you to join Inspire?

I wanted to fellowship and work with like-minded servants who desire to use their talent for God’s glory!

When did you first know you were a writer?

I have been writing ever since I can remember.  I remember elementary classmates groaning at creative writing assignments, and I thought they were crazy!  As a teen, girlfriends would ask me for the latest installment of a “series” of stories I created with a high school setting.

Describe your writing career high point and low point.

Without a doubt, publication was a definite high point!  The excitement came after an initial disbelief.  As I’m sure others can relate, rejection can be a low point, especially if it has ever come from a source where publication would seem a “sure thing!” (Scoff!)

Which of your stories is closest to your heart?

It may seem silly, but one of the stories closest to my heart is a picture book that I made in sixth grade titled, “Pride Goes Before a Fall.”  We made them as a class project, and while modest, they resembled an authentic book with binding and dust jackets.  I treasure it because my teacher encouraged me to enter it into a county-wide arts contest.  I didn’t see it being worth the effort and left for the weekend without another thought.  The next week, I returned to school to see a 1st place blue ribbon attached to my picture book.  My teacher had taken the time to enter it for me.  I have never forgotten her gesture of confidence and faith in my skill.

How did you react when you received your first acceptance or publication?

When I discovered that a tribute I had written as a gift would be nationally published in an ezine, I sat in disbelief for quite a while.  After the shock wore off, the happy dance began, as well as a flurry of emails and text messages to alert all of my friends and cheerleaders.

Describe receiving your first book contract.

This is a privilege that I have not yet been given.

What project of yours is gathering dust?

I have just brushed the dust off an idea for an e-book that I hope to market in Christian leadership circles.  It is a collection designed specifically for women’s ministry fellowship.

What’s next for you?

The above project will be in conjunction with a leadership kit that I am hoping to create and market for women finding themselves leading a ministry group – small or large.

What does it mean to you to be a writer?

For me, to be a writer simply means that I’m a servant just like anyone else – but I use my pen for God’s glory.  There are so many talented servants in this world.  My talent is no greater than the next person’s, it just happens to be writing.

Was there a book that changed your life?

Without a doubt, the Bible has definitely changed my life.  It is a masterpiece collection of romance, intrigue, drama, and more!  However, I cannot neglect the mention of To Kill a Mockingbird. This book cemented the phrase, “Never judge a book by its cover.” I remember being “forced” to read it upon a challenge from my 8th grade teacher.  Grumbling as I opened the book, I quickly found myself lost in its chapters and was sad to read the last page because it meant the book was ending.

Describe your writing environment. Or better yet, include a photo.

My writing environment is on the go.  However, I someday hope to have this environment:

PS – I’d also like to look as great her someday, too!

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

The best advice that I’ve ever received could be applied to writing – or just about anything.  On more than one occasion, I’ve had someone remind me to never let someone tell me that I can’t.  Those same people have often added that I should be surrounding myself with individuals that encourage, rather than remind me of all the obstacles that could lie ahead.  And to always remember that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.

To learn more about Lori and her writing, go to her website.

February 29, 2012 in Uncategorized, Writer's Journey by


Get Ready for Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference

Are you going to Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference this year?

We are hosting a workshop just for you!

Join us for a “Get Ready for Mount Hermon” Workshop:

Friday, March 9, 2012 from 9am to noon

At the Raley’s Meeting Room

Inside Raley’s

4480 San Juan Ave.,

Fair Oaks, CA

Limited space is available. Please RSVP to Beth at 916-607-7796

Free to all Inspire Members!

February 28, 2012 in Conferences, Training Workshops, Uncategorized by

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Planning for Your Writers Conference

Seventeen years ago I went to my first writers’ conference. I was a rookie. I had my proposal and a sample chapter – such as they were. I had studied the list of speakers and knew who wrote what and who I wanted to talk to.

Looking back, I thought I had done my homework. I’m an analytical person, thinking things through and trying to plan ahead. I had a book idea. It was good. At least I thought so. But I went home with rejections. Deflated.

I returned year after year and kept learning. Having attended more than 40 conferences as participant and speaker, I’d like to share a few thoughts on planning for a conference.

At every conference, I talk to writers who are frustrated because they can’t interest an editor in their idea. Just like I was when I attended my first conference.

Let’s start with your writing idea.

Whether it’s for a book or article, it must be the best you can do. Maybe you think it’s your best. But until you have studied the craft of writing and received feedback from others, it’s probably not your best. Here’s where critique groups come in. Join one if you can (on-line or face-to-face) and learn from the feedback of others. And don’t forget to read a book about writing in your genre.

The same goes for your proposal or query letter. It’s your responsibility to know how to write them. If you haven’t read a book about queries or proposals, take the time to do so and then implement what you learn. You have the opportunity to submit proposals, queries, articles, and sample chapters to the faculty. You want them to be professional.

How about your idea?

Have you identified its audience?

Is it large enough to make the publisher money through book or magazine sales?

Publishing is a business and while we love our ideas, they have to stand on their own merits. Too small a market makes it hard for publishers to earn back expenses. An over done idea will be a hard sell. An idea whose time has come and gone will receive no support.

On the other had, an idea that has been thoroughly explored and vetted, an audience identified as well as how to reach them, is timely, has been written as close to perfect as possible, and is a good match for the publisher to whom it is being pitched, has a better chance of catching an editor’s interest.

Did you catch that last point – a good match for the publisher?

Conference organizers do a great job of getting publishers, editors and agents to the conference. Look over the faculty list and do your due diligence to learn what they publish. Spend a few hours exploring their websites to see what type of books they publish, or if a magazine, what articles they use. Find several that might be a good match for your writing. Your pre-conference submissions should go to these individuals. Then at the conference, meet them and get feedback on your submission.

Remember that the faculty at the conference is a small representation of the much larger Christian publishing industry. While you may not find a home for your writing at the conference, you will learn a lot to help you polish your work and this will help you submit to other publishers after the conference.

I love to talk to writers about their writing interests. Many are well thought out and with patience and perseverance, they will be published. Unfortunately, many others are not. When you decide to go to a writer’s conference, you need to make a plan that will not only help you be successful, but also the editors to whom you pitch your ideas.

If you want to learn what came out of my first ideas and rejections, ask me. It may inspire you. I took those rejections and turned them into a positive outcome.

Are you attending any conferences this year? What are you doing to prepare?

John Vonhof is a freelance writer who writes for the Christian and secular markets. He teaches at writer’s conferences, has self-published two niche market books, both of which were later sold to a mainstream publishers, and has been published in many magazines, newsletters and Internet sites. Writing for niche markets is his passion. To learn more about John and his writing, visit his website:

February 28, 2012 in Conferences, Uncategorized, Writing Tips by


Chris Pedersen Takes Aiden to School

On Friday, Inspire Writer Chris Pedersen participated in the Arlene Hein Elementary Read-A-Thon. She brought her newly released Prisoner of Carrot Castle iPad app and read the story to first and second-graders in several classrooms.

The students and teachers loved it! Most had never seen an iPad storybook app before.

Chris read the story with enthusiasm and delight. She has an obvious passion for storytelling and a heart for children.

She brought in a couple of props: a red cape and an over-sized wooden fork. In each classroom, she chose a student to wear the cape and hold the fork, allowing the child to “become” Aiden as she read the story.

At the end of each reading, Chris allowed the children to play the games included in the app. They really enjoyed the hands-on experience.

She explained the “Read to Me” feature and showed the students how to use it.

The children had many questions. (These are bright kids with a great future!) They wanted to know:  How long does it take to build an app? How did you come up with the story? Is it in a regular book, too? Are you making other story apps? Can I dress the guard next?

I’m sure you have some questions for Chris, too (since you are bright writers with a great future!) so ask away.

Elizabeth M. Thompson is the founder of Inspire Christian Writers leads the Inspire Elk Grove critique group. She is currently editing her grief devotional book while simultaneously writing her first novel.

When she’s not scribbling notes on 4×6 cards, she enjoys screaming from the stands of her son’s baseball games and cheering from the front row of her daughter’s theatrical productions. She can also be found visiting her first-born on the beaches of Santa Cruz with her handsome husband, Mike.

February 27, 2012 in Book Signings & Launch Parties, Publishing, Writer's Journey by


A Fragrant Offering: A Prayer for Caring and Community

by Xochi E. Dixon

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2, NIV


Thank You, Lord, for this community of writers dedicated to serving You, one another, and the readers You have placed under our charge.


Guard our hearts and minds as we learn to love in word and deed within this fellowship of believers.


Help us equip and encourage each other toward excellence of craft and Christ-like character.


Refine our attitudes and strengthen our resolve as we rejoice, and support one another, in our seasons of pruning, as well as our spurts of growth.


May each word we write, as well as everything we say, do and think, be a fragrant offering of love and devotion to You.


In Jesus’ name, Amen.

How has God used Inspire to equip and encourage you during your writing journey?

February 26, 2012 in Uncategorized by

1 comment

The Upper Room: Writing Contest

We just received this from The Upper Room and wanted to share it with you.

Write or Help Us Choose The Upper Room’s 2013 Easter Meditation!

How the Contest Will Work:
From all meditations on Easter themes that we receive* by March 9th, we’ll choose three finalists and post them on our Facebook page. Visitors to this page will vote for the meditation they feel most effectively expresses the message of Easter. The writer of the Easter meditation will receive, among other prizes, an iPad 2! Meditations must reach us by March 9, 2012, to be considered. All three finalists will have their work published in an upcoming issue (and be paid) and receive prizes.

*Upper Room staff and their family members may not participate in this contest as writers. They may vote to choose the winner.


The Meditation:
You probably already know what makes an effective meditation: Being clearly rooted in scripture, with a personal story that shows how the scripture relates to contemporary life. Meditations should be 250-300 words and include a suggested Bible reading, a quoted verse, a Thought for the Day, and a prayer. You may wish to review our writer guidelines.


Send Your Meditations To: or to our postal address. Put the words Contest Meditation in the subject line. For your submission to be considered, these words must appear in the subject line of emails (or on the envelope if you send your work via postal ma il). Again, all contest meditations must reach us by March 9, 2012. Do not use the submission form on our website. Meditations submitted on the Web form cannot be considered.


The Voting:
The three finalist meditations will be posted on Facebook by March 30, 2012. Visitors will be asked to vote for the one meditation they feel most effectively conveys the message of Easter. Visitors may vote only once. To ensure objectivity, writers’ names will not appear on finalists’ meditations at the time of voting; writers’ names will always appear with their work otherwise. The name of the winner will be revealed in the March-April 2013 print edition of The Upper Room and here on our Facebook page on Ash Wednesday, 2013 (February 13, 2013).
Contest Procedures:

Writers may submit up to three meditations. Meditations submitted for the contest will be evaluated by staff members of Upper Room Ministries at three levels. Different staff members will participate at each level. Selection of the three finalists will be done by a committee of additional staff members. By submitting work for the contest, participants grant us permission to post their work on our Facebook page without a writer’s name for the voting only; otherwise writers’ names will always appear with their work. Meditations written in Spanish will be evaluated by staff of El Aposento Alto (the Spanish edition of The Upper Room) and if chosen as finalists will be posted in English translation as well as in Spanish.

All meditations submitted for the contest will be considered for possible publication in future issues, and meditations not chosen as finalists may still be published. Al l writers whose work is published will be paid; writers must complete a contract giving The Upper Room, Inc. the right to use their work in one issue of the magazine and in possible future anthologies of meditations. All other rights remain with and/or revert to the writers. No work will be published without the writer’s consent. All meditations published in The Upper Room are edited.


Winner: An iPad2, an autographed copy (by The Upper Room editorial team) of Where the World Meets to Pray, a one-year subscription to the digital edition of The Upper Room, publication in the March/April 2013 issue, announcement of the win in the print edition of The Upper Room magazine and on the magazine home page and Facebook page.

Two finalists:
An autographed copy of Where the World Meets to Pray and a one-year subscription to the digital/ mobile-device edition of The Upper Room.

Our Postal Address:

For meditations written in English:
Contest Meditation
Editorial Office, The Upper Room Magazine
POB 340004
Nashville, TN 37203-0004

For meditations written in Spanish:
Meditacion por Competencia
Oficina Editorial, El APosento Alto
POB 340004
Nashville, TN 37203-0004

Please do not submit via The Upper Room website!  They receive those submissions in a different format. If you wish, you may email Marilyn Beaty directly at:

February 23, 2012 in Announcements, Opportunities, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing Contests by


Inspire Writer Spotlight: Kathryn Mattingly

How long have you been a member of Inspire Christian Writers?

I joined the El Dorado Hills IW group right after the holidays, in January. I saw it as part of a new year’s resolution to reinvent my career path. Nonetheless, that initial visit was to ‘check it out.’

With fear and trepidation did I consider taking on such a commitment while job searching and rebuilding my past entrepreneurial business as a private reading/writing tutor.

I can honestly say that first meeting was impressive! Everyone was gracious, intelligent, professional in attitude and motivated to succeed. I hope I have something worthwhile to contribute toward each ‘inspired writer’s success.

What prompted you to join Inspire?

Chris Pedersen, a friend and neighbor, mentioned the group to me on several occasions but at the time I had a highly stressful position as a department chair at a private college. I was laid off because of economy related cutbacks. It would seem time was suddenly on my side, and of course, timing is everything. When Cindy Jacks, from my Wisdom for Women Bible study group shared how much it was benefiting her as a writer, I caught her enthusiasm! Looking back, Chris was just as excited and motivated by IW as Cindy, but God had to open my heart in order to walk through that door.

When did you first know you were a writer?

When I was in 4th grade I often got scolded for writing lengthy stories in lieu of completing other schoolwork at my desk. One day the teacher confiscated and read what I’d written. She sent it off to a contest and I won a blue ribbon. I would like to say I was hooked from that moment on. Truthfully, I was hooked the day I had a vocabulary large enough to escape into a fantasy world.

Describe your writing career high point and low point.

I remember pitching my first publishable book to a coveted NY agent at the PNWA conference in Seattle and he took me on as a client. The manuscript won an award as a New Century Quarterly Finalist and got a second reading at Random House. Publishing was just beginning to spiral into a funk over the impending doom of e-books on the horizon. They tightened their purse strings, especially to new writers who would take some time and investment before a pay off. Long story short I lost out to a more established author with a fan base. (That would be one of my all time lows.)

Another high was winning a short story contest in which the prize was getting your short story collection published. It went to press and then the publishing house (Carpe Diem) went bankrupt. The editor I had been working with disappeared into the black void of Cyberspace and I never heard from him again. (That was another all time low.)

My second and third publishable books met a similar fate at creditable publishing houses, after second readings and ongoing negotiations with my agent. Ultimately, I was told literary fiction has a tighter budget and greater risk of getting lost in the sea of choices, because it doesn’t get the automatic pull of readers hooked on a particular genre. My biggest all time low was firing my agent and giving up at that point. I am not a patient person. Thankfully God is working on that.

 Which of your stories is closest to your heart?

When I was in Rome I wrote a short story about a beautiful little ragtag girl with a large white cat following close behind, begging among the outdoor cafes while her parents watched from across the street. The whole family dynamic affected me. These were young healthy gypsies with gorgeous children living a lifestyle they basically inherited. I found it all very fascinating.

How did you react when you received your first acceptance or publication?

I was excited to have my short fiction accepted into an anthology with much more seasoned writers, but making the “Internationally Yours Prize Winning Stories” anthology was my most satisfying accomplishment.

Describe receiving your first book contract.

I was ecstatic, but then the publisher went bankrupt. (It was the collection of my short stories).

What project of yours is gathering dust?

My four novels, but technically, I have blown the dust off and am spit shining them as we speak.

What’s next for you?

Getting those novels published – one at a time.

What does it mean to you to be a writer?

I have a personal quote I use frequently that sums it up:As a writer of fiction, I am not always sure where reality ends and non reality begins, when sane thoughts become less than sane, or what is imagination versus undiscovered truth, but ultimately, it is my job to make you as unsure as I am.” To me, this is what keeps life interesting and ultimately, poignant.

Was there a book that changed your life?

Many books have changed my life if we are speaking about a deeper awareness of our world and the many complexities within it. As a child I was deeply affected by Steinbeck’s The Red Pony. I read ferociously, but all those amazing books mostly blend together in my head except for this particular book by that great master.

During my teenage years the big standout was: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I was reading the classics and this one caught me up in a huge AHA moment we seldom have. Within the last five years, despite having read many noteworthy books, one that definitely stands above the crowd is: Little Bee by Chris Cleave. The nonfiction behind the fiction in this tale has greatly affected me.

Describe your writing environment.

I have a small den with a large desk housing a small Mac Book Pro and a large gray cat most of the time. The cat is my most cherished possession along with the Mac Book Pro. If a fire broke out and I could only grab one, let’s hope I choose the living pet over the replaceable electronic devise. But I don’t trust my decision making when under pressure so I pray about it frequently.

The desk holds a large printer (of course) and a small box I bought in Roatan, Honduras (carved by native Hondurans out of their exquisite inland mahogany) and in the small box is an assortment of tiny flash-drives that house the millions of words I have written. I hope to keep adding to this collection of flash drives, God willing.  

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

Elizabeth Engstrom Cratty (who wrote Lizzy Borden) told me early in my career “persistence is the key.” Liz was the first person to believe in me and publish my work. (I have a dozen short stories published in anthologies.) If I had listened to her, my four novels would be published today. Instead I am giving them one more final edit. (The more we write, the better we get.) I won’t quit this time until they are published. I will be “persistent.”

Visit Kathryn’s blog, The Possibility Place,  friend her on Facebook, and connect with her on LinkedIn.

February 22, 2012 in Uncategorized, Writer's Journey by


Need a Buddy for Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference?

Last year, I had the privilege of meeting Jeanette Hanscome, coordinator of the Mount Hermon Buddies. I mentioned I was considering attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. After spending one afternoon with her, I couldn’t sign up for the conference or the program fast enough.

Jeannette is the author of three Focus on the Family books for teen girls. She has published over 400 articles, devotionals, and stories. She is a regular contributor to Walk Thru the Bible’s Tapestry, Standard Publishing’s Encounter—the Magazine, and the “Girls, God, and the Good Life” blog. She has a passion for teaching and coaching new writers, as well as the gift of encouragement.

It is my privilege to introduce you to Jeanette Hanscome.

Thank you for joining us on the Inspire Christian Writers blog, Jeanette.

Thank you for inviting me. I’ve heard wonderful things about Inspire Christian Writers.


In your journey as a writer, how has belonging to a writing community helped you?

The friends that I’ve made through the writing community have become like an extended family to me. It has provided me with mentors, friends and prayer partners, and allowed me to make a difference in other writers’ lives as well.


When and how did the Buddy Program begin at Mount Hermon?

Several years ago, my friend Marilyn and I roomed together at Mount Hermon. During the conference, we kept running into overwhelmed first-timers. Some were discouraged, others felt overloaded, others couldn’t understand why they felt like crying or hiding in their room. ALL of them thought they were the only ones having a hard day.

We assured each writer that even those of us who had been attending the conference for years hit low points.

Marilyn mentioned how nice it would be if first-time registrants had some pre-conference mentoring or prep. We bounced the idea off a few faculty members and the Buddy System started the next year.

The program has grown and changed since, but the basic goal is still the same—helping first-timers prepare for an exciting, inspiring, but sometimes overwhelming five days.


In what practical ways does this program serve writers who are attending the conference for the first time?

About a month before the conference, first-timers who sign up for the program are matched with those who have attended at least once before.

Buddies are equipped to answer pre-conference questions, offer prayerful support, help define realistic goals, and advise on choosing workshops. Buddies can also help newbies prepare to pitch ideas to editors (if they plan to), guide in preparing to submit manuscripts, and give advice on practical things, like what to pack.

Some first-timers set themselves up for disappointment by going to Mount Hermon with unrealistic expectations; a pre-conference buddy will often recognize this and offer a gentle reality check, averting an emotional disaster.

Buddies and first-timers attend a Meet & Greet on Friday night and check in with each other partway through the conference, but once the workshops get under way, newbies are encouraged (and usually eager) to make new friends, start accomplishing their goals, and get all they can out of their time.

The Buddy System also serves first-timers who either didn’t know about the program or registered too late to really benefit from pre-conference mentoring. Select buddies are available to answer questions, offer encouragement and prayer, or just help newbies feel settled and welcome.

In the past, I’ve hosted a special table at lunch and dinner, especially for registrants who need a little boost of encouragement. Everyone is welcome at this table, whether it’s their first conference or their twentieth.


After the first day of the conference, I realized Mount Hermon was an emotional and spiritual experience, as well as a learning opportunity for writers. How have you seen the Buddy Program bless writers who participate as newbies to Mount Hermon?

Since each buddy has attended before, they have experienced the emotional ups and downs and know that God meets people in a unique way at Mount Hermon, often in areas that have more to do with our hearts than our writing. Buddies understand the need to pace ourselves and lay our agenda aside for God’s plan. Those who participate in the Buddy System not only come prepared for this, but also have someone to pray them through the journey.


How are Mount Hermon Buddies matched up?

When first-timers sign up, I ask a few simple questions: name, e-mail address, type of writing, their goals for the conference, and this year I also ask first-timers to let me know if they have any special needs that their buddy should know about.

I pray before matching people up and leave the rest up to God. Buddy/first-timer pairs have discovered that they lived in the same town, were struggling with similar health problems or family issues, or had hobbies in common.

It has been fun to watch friendships form through this program, too. I love it when God does that!

How can writers who have already experienced the Mount Hermon Writers Conference benefit from and serve through the program?

Buddies are definitely blessed in the process of serving. This is their chance to “give back”—to pass on the tips and encouragement that they needed during their first year. It’s fun to watch someone go from nervous to excited—from vowing that they won’t talk to any of those scary editors, to not only talking to one, but getting the go-ahead to send a proposal or article. Serving the first-timers is actually one of my favorite parts of this conference.


What would you say to encourage someone who is considering attending Mount Hermon for the first time in 2012?

Don’t let fear hold you back from attending.

I have low vision and was afraid of getting lost on an unfamiliar campus. If I had given in to fear, I would have missed out on a life-changing experience. And I don’t throw around the term life-changing casually.

If you have the desire to go, ask God to help you make it happen. Go to learn, meet other writers, and seek God’s direction for your writing dreams.


Thank you for taking time to visit with us on the Inspire Christian Writers blog, Jeanette.

Thanks again. This was a lot of fun. Please spread the word about the Mount Hermon Conference and about the Buddy System.

You are invited to attend the 2012 Mount Hermon Writers Conference, scheduled for March 30th to April 3rd.

To request a Buddy, or to sign up as a Buddy, please email Jeanette at:

After interviewing Jeannette, I signed up to serve as a buddy. I look forward to meeting you there!

Xochi (so-she) E. Dixon is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher who loves Jesus and studying God’s Word. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Alan, their teenage son, Xavier, and their doggy-daughter, Jazzy. With a heart for prayer, Xochi enjoys encouraging women, teens, and fellow authors. She writes Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction for women, articles, poetry and devotions. You are invited to connect with Xochi by subscribing to her author website at and fellowshipping with her on Facebook and Twitter.


February 21, 2012 in Conferences, Spiritual Life of a Writer, Uncategorized, Writer's Journey, Writing Tips by


Juiced for the Journey: A Prayer for the Long Haul

By Xochi E. Dixon


“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” Psalm 18:32, NIV


Father God, we praise You and thank You for every moment of this amazing journey through the life You’ve planned for us.


Thank You for using every heartache, every struggle, and every weakness to magnify Your power and build us up in Christ-like character.


Empower us to follow You with patient endurance, nourished by Your Word, strengthened by Your faithfulness, and emboldened by Your sovereign goodness.


Equip us for the long haul, a lifetime of fruitfulness devoted to bringing You glory.


Help us accept every closed door as an exciting opportunity to press on toward the path You’ve prepared for us.


Give us humble spirits, open to teaching. Ignite our courage, helping us receive Your grace, as we submit to You and submit our work to be critiqued or considered for publication.


Align our desires with Your plan, guiding each baby step we take. Help us trust we are held secure in the center of Your perfect will.


We love You, Lord.


In Jesus’ name, Amen


How has God helped you persevere with courage and endurance throughout different phases of your writing journey?

February 19, 2012 in Spiritual Life of a Writer, Uncategorized, Writer's Journey by


A Dual Perspective: Inspire Interview with Author / Editor Dana Wilkerson

I met Dana Wilkerson, editor of ENCOUNTER—The Magazine, at the 2011 Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. She taught the Magazine Articles workshop and shared valuable tips on formatting articles and submitting to magazines. The skills I learned in her class equipped me to submit and sell seven pieces after leaving Mount Hermon.

Dana has served as a full-time Independent Publishing Professional for over five years. Her commitment to building up the body of Christ is evident in her service as a writer and an editor. With a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education and a Masters of Divinity in Christian Education, she currently offers valuable insight as the editor of ENCOUNTER-The Magazine and 252 Basics Family Experience. Her most recent published works, The Vow – The True Events that Inspired the Movie (Collaboration, B&H, 2012) and My First Hands-On Bible (Contributor, Group/Tyndale, 2011), are just two examples of how God is using Dana to reach readers of all ages.


I’m pleased to introduce Dana Wilkerson, author, editor, and encouraging teacher.

Thank you for taking time to join us on the Inspire blog, Dana.

Thanks for having me.

Why do you think it’s important that unpublished and published writers submit to magazines?

Submitting to magazines that accept unsolicited submissions is a great way for unpublished writers to break into the publishing industry.

I know it’s frustrating for new writers when they discover that most publications only accept submissions from published writers. After all, how can you ever get published if you have to already be published to get published?

One of the great things about ENCOUNTER—The Magazine is that we accept unsolicited submissions from anyone, published or not. To me, what’s important is the words within an article, not the list of the author’s previous published works.

I also think it’s good for published writers to keep submitting to magazines because it keeps them fresh and challenges them in different ways than writing a book or blog entries does. It also helps put authors’ names out there, because magazine circulation numbers are often much higher than book sales numbers or blog hits. It’s a great form of publicity.

What can writers do to make their work attractive to editors among the throngs of daily submissions?

First, follow the writing guidelines. I know that sounds simple and obvious, but you would be surprised how many submissions I get that are not appropriate for our magazine in either content or format.

Second, be creative while staying within those writing guidelines. At ENCOUNTER we use themes for each week, and it amazes me how many articles for a theme sound exactly the same. Find a new approach or a new angle for a topic.

Congratulations on your new book, The Vow: The True Events That Inspired the Movie, which hit the shelves and the theaters on February 10, 2012. What is the most rewarding and challenging aspect of writing a book based on a true story?

The most challenging aspect was making sure I was portraying the real people and events accurately while also writing in an engaging way. I worked very closely with Kim and Krickitt Carpenter as I wrote because I wanted to be certain what I wrote was what really happened.

And the great part was that they weren’t interested in making themselves look good; they wanted the reader to know them, for better and for worse, but most of all they wanted to make sure God was the focus.

The most rewarding aspect was the thanks I got from the Carpenters for doing what I just described.

What is the most rewarding and challenging aspect of collaborative writing?

The most rewarding aspect of collaborative writing is knowing I’m helping people get their stories out there for people to read. I don’t think the reading public should be deprived of hearing an inspiring story just because the person the events happened to isn’t an accomplished writer. I love helping those people share their stories with the world.

The most challenging aspect is communication. Some people I’ve worked with, like the Carpenters, have been great about being available and keeping in touch with me while I write.

Others (and I’m not going to name names here!) have been really hard to track down when I really need some input or answers. In those cases I just have to push ahead while hoping I’m headed in the right direction and won’t have to do extensive re-writes.

As an author and editor, you have a unique perspective on the publication process. What advice would you give authors who are intimidated by the process of pitching and submitting to an editor?

I know interacting with editors can be intimidating, but we’re people just like you. Many of us are also writers ourselves, and we’ve been (and still often are) where you are.

My advice is to do your homework. Take a look at sample pitches, cover letters, and so on from writing books and websites so that you can appear to be a professional even if you don’t feel like it!

Then do some research on the specific publication you’re pitching or submitting to. Resources like The Christian Writer’s Market Guide are a fantastic place to start, and almost all publications have a page on their website dedicated to writing FAQs and guidelines.

Don’t ask an editor a question that is answered in those places or do (or not do) something that our guidelines have told you not to do (or not do). It makes us think you’re not serious about writing for us.

And finally, be confident, but also be teachable and willing to adjust your writing according to editorial guidelines and suggestions.

What would you say to authors who have felt frustrated or discouraged when it comes to receiving a “no” from an editor?

We have all been there, so take comfort from the misery of others. Ha! I’m only partly kidding.

Seriously, though, the fact that you received a “no” doesn’t necessarily mean your work wasn’t of good quality (though it might; if an editor will give feedback, take advantage of that option). Some rejections might just mean that there were too many great pieces to print. That happens all the time with ENCOUNTER.

For example, I might get 20 submissions for one week’s theme, of which 7 are great articles. (See, I told you some rejected articles are great.) We print at most 4 freelance articles per theme, but usually it’s just 2 or 3. So what I have to do is choose just the right combination of articles for those 2-4 spots, based on length, genre, and subject matter.

I often have to send rejection letters for articles that I absolutely love just because there’s not enough room.

What final word of encouragement or advice would you like to share with published and unpublished authors?

Keep writing! You never know where God might take you and who He wants to reach through your words.

But keep in mind that His plans might be different than yours. The goal is for God to be glorified, not for us to make a name for ourselves.

Thank you for sharing insight from both sides of the fence in the publication world, Dana. We pray the Lord will continue to use you to equip and encourage your fellow authors as He blesses your personal writing ministry.

Thanks, Xochi. It’s been a pleasure.


ENCOUNTER – The Magazine is currently accepting unsolicited submissions. Check out their writer’s guidelines and read samples of the magazine. If, after all of your research, you feel your work fits the needs of ENCOUNTER, pray for God’s leading, polish that piece and send it in.


Xochi (so-she) Dixon is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher who loves Jesus and digging into God’s Word. She lives in Northern California with her hubby, Alan, their teenage son, Xavier, and their doggy-daughter, Jazzy. With a heart for prayer, Xochi enjoys encouraging women, teens and fellow authors. She writes YA Fiction, Contemporary Women’s Fiction, articles, poetry and devotions. You can visit Xochi’s author website at and fellowship with her on Facebook and Twitter.


February 17, 2012 in Opportunities, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writer's Journey, Writing Tips by

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