So, you want to be a writer?
Where do you begin?
What steps should you take?
The Speak Up Conference brings in renowned Christian authors, editors and publishers to help walk participants through the process of preparing a fiction or a nonfiction book proposal for submission beginning with the initial steps, learning to captivate readers with excellent storytelling, and deciding whether self-publishing is an option for you.
Our Speak Up Conference is unique in that each Premier Package conferee in the writing track will be offered up to four 15-minute appointments with publishing/editorial professionals, author mentors, self-publishing professionals, or social media experts. With the Classic Package, conferees will have up to two 15-minute appointments. Our goal is to match you with the best possible connections, so take time to read through the descriptions in the 15-minute appointments section. You will receive an email when it’s time to sign up for them, so be prepared with your top picks.
Below you will find 12 breakout sessions that are designed for conferees in the Writers' Track, and below those you will find 18 more options that cross over with interest to both writers and speakers. For alumni, new sessions are added every year to take you to the next level in your ministry.
If you are in the Standard Package you will have access to all the breakout sessions in the Writing Track, and they will be available to you for a full week after the conference.
If you are in the Classic Package, you will have access to everything on this page for one month after the conference.
If you are in the Premier Package, you will have access to everything on this page, and everything on the Writers' Track page for one full year.
Breakout Session #1
Ever wonder what should be your next best writing project? Is there a formula to your writing success? Yes! When we can effectively communicate what is important to us, that significantly influences the success of our writing. In this practicum you will learn how your core values impact your writing and how to identify which ones are the most important. You will create a take-away that will bring clarity for your next writing project.
Visit Cynthia's Bio
What role do agents play for Christian writers? How important are they in this publishing climate, and at what stage of our writing careers? Do I or will I ever need an agent? Can an agent make that much of a difference between whether I'm published or not? These questions and more will be answered by Cynthia Ruchti, an award-winning author who has worked with her agent for twelve years, and who now also serves as an agent with Books & Such Literary Management, one of the most highly respected and successful agencies in Christian publishing.
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A book proposal that catches the attention—positive attention—of an acquiring editor and other publishing professionals 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 ingredients; 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.
Visit Cindy's Bio
A conference is the perfect setting to present your book idea to agents and acquiring editors. A one sheet is the perfect way to do that. Learn the information that should be included on a one sheet, discover format ideas, get creative in presenting your book idea, and more. A little pre-conference work will be necessary, however, after this conference session, you will have a one sheet to share. Be ready to create!
Visit Kim's bio
How often have we heard it said of some particularly well-written piece of nonfiction, "It's so engaging, it reads just like a novel!" In Add Power to your Nonfiction Using Fiction Techniques, learn how to write nonfiction that elicits that same response. The techniques of fiction apply equally to all forms of storytelling, and by learning and then applying to your own nonfiction such techniques as dialog, characterization, dramatization, and creating a convincing setting, you can grab your readers' attention on page one and not let go till the final page. Our instructor is the author of many articles and short stories and a dozen books, half of them novels, and was senior fiction editor for HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster.
Visit Dave's Bio
You’re are more than just an author—you now have entered an industry that few writers understand. Success is not solely about craft, it’s equally about business. Whether you are traditionally or self-publishing your book, there are very intentional strategies every author needs to know to make their book marketable. Not only will you learn what you need to know about the differences in publishing options, so you can make wise decisions, but you will discover insider secrets about creating a commercially viable product that book sellers want and readers buy.
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Your stories can impact the world, one heart at a time!
Join Sandi Banks for this interactive, inspiring, informative workshop. Here you will learn key elements for effectively writing devotions, then getting them into the publishers' hands and the readers’ hearts.
What’s so intriguing and rewarding about devotional writing? It communicates truth, heart-to-heart, and points the reader upward for encouragement and connection with God—all in a five-minute-or-less read.
Sandi defines devotional writing as a "nugget of truth, wrapped in a story, immersed in insight, served with grace." Come discover what that means, and how God can use your gifts and experiences to honor Him and offer hope to a hurting world.
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Learn the writer’s secret to article success—mapping. It’s a tool all good writers use when drafting their manuscripts to create one wining article after another. After this workshop, you will be one of those writers, too. Hands-on examples make this class a must take.
Visit Cheri's Bio
Your first point of connection with an editor is likely going to be a book proposal. This proposal is where you communicate three things—your message, your wordsmithing abilities, and your audience. In this workshop, we’ll work through all the key elements that acquisitions editors need to see in your pitch. Far from being a tedious hoop to jump through before getting a book contract, we’ll see how the proposal is your chance to refine and perfect your message so it’s ready for the world.
Visit Kathleen's bio
Do you believe God is calling you to write? Step into this workshop and learn how to chunk down your BIG story. Make the pouring out to the page, short, simple, and sufficient. Learn twenty truths to keep your pen to the paper or your fingers on the key board.
Visit Darlene's Bio
This workshop is for anyone who is writing a first or second book. We’ll look at what authors learn in their first book process that they do better with for their second book. I’ll share the challenges and expectations of a first book and the differences I’ve seen with authors between their first and second books. We’ll look at what we can learn from second-time authors and mistakes writers can avoid. And we’ll uncover how authors can set themselves up for success by pinpointing what could be done the next time around.
Blythe Daniel, founder and literary agent at The Blythe Daniel Agency and author, looks at what authors learn in their first book process that they improve in their second book. Through personal experiences, practical ideas and Q & A, Blythe will help you to:
- Meet the challenges and expectations of a first book with greater insight.
- Learn from the mistakes of other authors and soften the blows of disappointments that come and how to move forward
- Pinpoint how to set yourself up for success the second time around no matter your experience
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Writing and Speaking Breakout Sessions
Marketing is KEY to building ANY business, and a speaking and writing ministry is no different. S.H. Britt said, “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. YOU know what you are doing, but nobody else does.” Indeed, we must let others know what we have to offer. But how can we do this effectively without looking like we are “marketing ourselves?” One of the best ways to organically advertise your ministry is to establish both a speaking and writing platform. This allows your voice to be heard, your face to be recognized, your message to be magnified, and creates a “breadcrumb trail” to your door. This workshop will help you (1) Craft a strong speaking bio that will leave a lasting impression, (2) Identify the most common psychological road blocks hindering the marketing success of any minister, counselor, coach, writer, or speaker, as well as strategies for overcoming these road blocks, and (3) Explore unique marketing strategies familiar only to the most experienced professionals.
Visit Shannon's Bio
Focusing on Instagram and Facebook primarily, Jill will teach you how to grow your platform using social media. In this workshop, Jill will:
- Discuss why social media is important to engage.
- Explain how to use it to its fullest ability without it taking over your life.
- How to set up a compelling profile on each platform.
- How to use the smartphone apps to the fullest.
Note: This is a very practical workshop, please bring your smartphone with you and have WordSwag, Instagram, and Facebook apps already loaded on it. You are welcome to bring a laptop with you as well.
Visit Jill's Bio
You’ve heard it said that you need a platform, but what does that really mean? How do you maintain and grow an effective email management system that engages your subscribers?
In this session, you will:
- Understand why email marketing is NOT DEAD
- Know how to choose the best email management tool for your website both for now and the future
- Recognize how to gain subscribers who ACTUALLY read your emails
- Learn how to write emails that prompt your readers to action
- Comprehend the purpose behind the practice of emailing your readers
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Keep your audience on the edge of their seat, or your reader unable to put down the book.
Wish you could tell a story and have the audience or reader so involved they are captivated? In this workshop you’ll learn how to:
- Find great stories to tell
- Develop a cast of characters
- Use body language and vocal techniques to captivate your audience, and
- Access on-line resources for storytellers
Jesus, the Master Storyteller was concise, relevant, and kept crowds and now readers captivated. Come and learn how, with God’s help, we can do the same.
Visit Jennie's Bio
A book that synthesizes the central message and story of your speaking ministry is a wonderful tool to have on hand when you’re at events and to expand your reach online. But speaking is one thing, and writing a book is another. In this session, book editors Janyre Tromp and Joel Armstrong guide you through the process of distilling the core message of your ministry, creating an effective narrative and chapter structure for your book, and lacing your writing with illustrations, applications, and thoughtful questions from your speaking engagements.
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Much of our fear and insecurity is based on comparison. We're not sure that what we have to say is important because so many others are saying similar things, seem to say it better, and/or have larger platforms. This talk helps writers and speakers focus on obedience, growing and developing their skills, and trusting God for the fruit.
Visit Bruce's Bio
Communication that produces change happens when we apply the truth of God's word to people's lives. Today in ministry, we must be prepared to share the truth of Scripture to a culture that has gone digital. This interactive workshop will demonstrate the use of Logos Bible Software for effective speaking preparation, writing research, and personal Bible study. What normally takes five to 10 hours of flipping through paper books for speaking prep and Bible study can be done in seconds - and the depth of study is unparalleled! Logos 8 gives you access to your entire biblical library wherever you are because it is compatible with Mac®, PC, iPad®, iPhone® and Android™ - this ease of use and power of Logos will be clearly taught and demonstrated.
Visit Scott's Bio
Podcasting Like the Pros
With ministries like MOPS, Proverbs 31, and Catalyst jumping on the podcast bandwagon, it is clear that podcasting is a communication method that is here to stay. Podcasts are an incredible way to deliver content to your audience and connect with them in a very personal way at a time that is most convenient for them, but the setup processing and beginning stages can be daunting.
This practical workshop will give you all the tool you need to choose the right equipment on a shoestring budget, determine your hosting platform, get listed on ITunes, all the way to creating content that moves people and batching work. Allow Lee Nienhuis, host of the wildly popular, Moms in Prayer Podcast help you decide if a podcast is the right step for connecting with your audience!
Visit Lee's Bio
Are you a Bible study teacher/leader who gets discouraged from spending continual time in Bible study, yet not observing your desired spiritual growth among participants? Are you wanting to write/teach more of your own curriculum, but you’re unsure how to start? Do you wonder how to reach across generations to encourage different ages to commit to study time? Then it’s time to rock the boat and step into the waves! We’ll look at how Jesus modeled teaching truth; ways to make growth and change an anticipated part of study times; uncover simple formats and practical tips to construct application driven lessons, and why now, more than ever, effective teaching of the full counsel of God’s Word is imperative.
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Don't go it alone on your writing and speaking journey! Gather a ministry team to help minimize isolation and maximize your impact. Speakers, authors, and podcast hosts, Lee Nienhuis and Katie M. Reid, will share time-tested tips and different approaches to gathering the people you need to help you succeed. From formulating a prayer team, to hiring an assistant that fits your needs and personality, to swapping services with colleagues, you will walk away equipped to take the next step in building a strong ministry.
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Join Chandee and learn the basics of audio/visual production and editing. Authors and speakers will learn how to DIY their own production. Production is vital in platform building, content marketing, book sales, and in a speaking ministry. Learn how to produce basic audio and visual content to grow your reach and establish your brand.
*Is production for me?
*Why learning production can be a game-changer for your ministry
*How to add production to your ministry
*Where to start at an affordable rate
*When to share it with others
*What you will need to get started
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Raise your hand if you have a fear of rejection in ministry? Before we realize it we can quickly slide into living a life where we are constantly trying to protect our hearts and lives from rejection. As an author and speaker are you afraid of the no’s? The fear of no’s can keep us from moving forward with our yes to God. What if a publisher says no? What if that speaking engagement doesn’t accept my proposal? What if I get a bad review? Is this fear of rejection paralyzing you? In this workshop participants will
- Look at Biblical characters who had a fear of rejection and how God helped them move forward in faith in their calling by God-- instead of being stuck between fear of success and fear of failure
- Provide action steps to help participant examine how they may be stuck in areas of ministry due to fear of rejection as they move forward in their calling
- What do you do when you get the no’s? Participants will be encouraged to find courage when they experience no’s, seeing how God is still moving in their story.
Visit Jenn's Bio
Our stories are one of the most powerful tools we can use to impact the world and share our faith. In this session we’ll discuss considerations for developing your hard story into a memoir as well as the many way your story can be leveraged into other types of media. We’ll pose questions and consider discernment for which parts to tell, timing of sharing, and developing a theme or focus for our story. Additionally, we’ll cover a variety of ways to use our story to inspire and encourage through avenues such as articles, blogs, memes, and truth-inspired fiction.
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Speaking and writing professionals have specific demands which require emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual care to prevent stress and burnout. In this seminar (or intensive workshop), licensed counselor and life coach Brenda L. Yoder equips participants with practical, personal tools for soul care and life balance for the longevity of your ministry or writing and speaking career.
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So, you have a dream. It is precious, perhaps secret, and you wonder… could it really happen? Is it good? Is it foolish? The truth is God loves you, and your dream could never ever be stupid. But just as true is that God will take your dream and refine it, because it probably isn’t in its final stages yet. He will give you vision. He will give you provision. He will connect you with others to help, because your dream is bigger than you. If it’s a God-sized dream it affects the community, and it will involve other people! He will open doors of opportunity. He will empower you to do your part. He will train you. He will provide encouragement. He will walk with you through every step as you co-labor with Him! Come, let’s dream together!
Visit Jeri's Bio
Though competition is a natural response in this industry, it can be deadly to your own mission and message. In this workshop we are going to get real and dig deep to establish our confident identity, our own unique story and our strategy for living, speaking, and writing authentically to a hungry world.
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The Essentials of Bible Study to Speak and Write the Truth
Hermeneutics isn’t typically a word that comes to mind when we think of Christian writers and speakers, but it certainly should be. Many times, we have neglected the call to the ardent study of The Word before we venture in to sharing a message with God’s people. There is an immense responsibility, as Christian communicators, to share the whole counsel of God- not only the small portions that we have sliced away from their original meaning and context. Even as well-meaning writers and speakers, we can miss God- and subsequently miss sharing Him with our audience. This break out session will cover basic biblical interpretation methods, resources, and instruction on infusing these skills into writing and speaking.
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What is your greatest need? What obstacles or opportunities are overwhelming you? For reasons or seasons, speakers and writers may need to enlist others to “lift them” in practical, tangible ways, so they can stay focused and energized. Whether it’s meals for your family while you’re away speaking, advice about a blog post or book proposal, administrative or organizational support, or more strategic help when an unexpected crisis occurs, God has unlimited resources and people to support you, if you are willing to receive. Come share your greatest need and leave with a creative next step to enlist your support team of Leaderlifters to help you.
Visit Kathe's Bio