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#NCWC2020 @unw_ncwc @unw_ncwc

Table of Contents 4 Welcome 5

Our Mission & Team

7 Schedule 8

Important Information

10 Friday Keynote Speaker 12 Saturday Keynote Speaker 14 Pro Advice Panels 15 Workshop Sessions 21 Essential At-Home Writer’s

Conference Guide

22 1:1 Appointment Prep 23 Faculty Bios

Welcome Welcome to the 2020 Northwestern Christian Writers Conference! Congratulations! You’ve just walked through a global pandemic. You’ve endured months of quarantine. You’ve wondered when it will all end. And, you’ve come through with a dream in your heart and purpose in your steps. You made it! Though we can’t physically be together this year, remember this: God is with you in this moment. May you encounter Him during the worship and hear Him speak in ways that are specific to your story. You’re both a student and a steward this weekend. You have things to learn and gifts to nurture. Listen for tips to improve your writing from experienced writers and editors. Listen for the tricks of the publishing trade while attending online panels with agents, editors, and authors. Connect with some new friends on our Facebook page. Lean in, listen, and learn what you need to know. May God clearly show you the next right steps in your writing career. We’ve prayed, we’ve prepared, and we’ve assembled an incredible faculty to serve you. We trust that you’ll have many opportunities to hear God’s voice. Take your time and work your way through the accumulative wisdom you now have at your fingertips. There’s too much here to digest in one sitting. When your mind feels full, get up, take a break, and take a walk. Give yourself room to breathe. God is equipping you to take your next steps. So, take it all in. We’re so glad you decided to join us. May this be for you, a soul-stirring, faith-inspiring weekend. - Northwestern Christian Writers Conference Committee


Our Mission & Team Northwestern Christian Writers Conference engages the hearts and minds of writers who are Christians. • We celebrate and cultivate Christian writers whose work is inspirational and accessible, artful and nuanced. • We support the flourishing of both Faith Radio and the College of Arts & Humanities.

The Northwestern Christian Writers Conference committee is dedicated to fulfilling our mission statement and providing attendees and faculty with the best experience possible.

Dr. Heather Peterson (‘95)

Karisa Rogers

Melissa Clutter

Kim Sanders (‘12)

Chair & Associate Professor, Department of English & Literature NCWC Event Coordinator; Office Assistant; College of Arts & Humanities

Katy Hamilton (‘19)

NCWC Event Coordinator; UNW English Literature & Writing Alumna

Andy Gammons

Director of Traditional Admissions

Jackie Lea Sommers (‘03)

Senior Admissions Counselor; Author

Neil Stavem (‘95)

Listener Engagement & Brand Manager, Faith Radio Network Assistant Producer, Susie Larson Live; Creative Services, Faith Radio Network

Tami Kroll (‘98)

Ticket Office Manager/Marketing & Sales Coordinator, Event Services

Sara Ring

Internship & Employer Program Specialist, Career Development

My Linh Olsen (‘20)

Station Manager, Faith Radio Network

Graphic Designer; UNW Graphic Design Alumna

Susie Larson

Mason Kupfer (‘21)

Show Host, Faith Radio Network; Author

Graphic Designer; Junior UNW Music & Ministry Double Major


Dr. Jeremy Kolwinska August 17, 1975–March 13, 2020

The 2020 Northwestern Christian Writers Conference is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jeremy Wade Kolwinska, who passed away unexpectedly on March 13, 2020 of an aortic dissection. Dr. Kolwinska will be remembered for his leadership, integrity, deep faith, sense of humor, and love for his family.

Schedule Friday, July 24 1:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.

Registration and Tech Support

Available by phone, email, or Zoom

2:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.

Pre-conference Sessions

Zoom Meetings

5:00 p.m.–6:45 p.m.

Registration and Tech Support

Available by phone, email, or Zoom

6:30 p.m.–7:15 p.m.

Worship & Welcome

Live-stream Session

7:15 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Keynote Address

Recorded Session

Saturday, July 25 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Registration and Tech Support

Available by phone, email, or Zoom

8:00 a.m.–8:15 a.m.

Worship & Welcome

Live-stream Session

8:15 a.m.-9:00 a.m.

Keynote Address

Recorded Session

All day

Workshop Sessions

See Workshop Sessions page

9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Pro Advice Panels

Zoom Meetings

9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

1:1 Appointments

Zoom Meetings

11:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m.

Premium Panel Discussion

Zoom Meetings

11:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m.

Student Lunch

Instagram Live

4:30 p.m.–4:45 p.m.


Recorded Session

4:45 p.m.-5:15 p.m.

Award Presentations, Writers Commission & Prayer

Facebook Live


Important Information For questions regarding REGISTRATION on July 24 & 25, please contact us using one of the methods below. Phone: 651-631-5151 or toll-free 866-821-5151 Email:

For questions regarding TECHNICAL ISSUES on July 24 & 25, please contact us using one of the methods below. Email:

Zoom Link: See Zoom Help Center on our website

For questions regarding registration and technical issues AFTER July 24 & 25, please contact us using one of the methods below. Phone: 651-631-5151 or toll-free 866-821-5151 Email:

KEYNOTE and WORKSHOP recordings can be found online through the KEYNOTE SPEAKER LINKS page of our website.

PRO ADVICE PANELS and 1:1 APPOINTMENTS will take place on Zoom. Links to these meetings will be sent in advance.


Alicia Britt Chole Alicia Britt Chole



In person or in print, Dr. Alicia Britt Chole’s voice cuts through fluff and summons souls to walk with God anew. As a speaker, leadership mentor, and award-winning writer, Alicia places words like an artist applying paint to a canvas. Nothing is wasted. Every word matters. Heads and hearts are equally engaged. A former atheist, Alicia’s worldview was interrupted by Jesus as she began her university studies. Of that experience Alicia states, “I would have had to commit emotional and intellectual suicide to deny God’s reality.” Today, her raw faith and love for God’s Word hold the attention of saints and skeptics alike. Alicia focuses on the fusion of authentic belief and unexplainable pain. Business leaders, pastors, college students, and churches agree: Alicia is an unusually disarming combination of realism and hope, intellect and grace, humor and art.


DR. ALICIA BRITT CHOLE author / speaker / mentor aliciabrittchole aliciabrittchole

NCWC Resource & Relationship 5-Book Bundle [$55] ($26 savings) Anonymous Anonymous Study Guide 40 Days of Decrease The Sacred Slow Until The Whole World Knows + FREE Ready, Set, Rest Ebook + FREE 12-video teaching series link + FREE Online Q&A with Alicia Zoom session + FREE Shipping within the USA + Book bundle available at

Dr. ABC Anonymous Study Bundle [$20] Anonymous book Anonymous bible study (+ link to free 12-video teaching series) + Flat $4 shipping within the USA

Dr. ABC Books

Karen Kingsbury Karen Kingsbury



Karen Kingsbury, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist, is America’s favorite inspirational storyteller, with more than twenty-five million copies of her award-winning books in print. Her last dozen titles have topped national bestseller lists, and many of her novels are under development as major motion pictures and television series. Her Baxter Family books have also been developed into a TV series. Karen is an adjunct professor of writing at Liberty University. She and her husband, Don, live in Tennessee near four of their adult children and their two grandchildren.



One frozen embryo. Two families with life-long secrets. And a guy who never planned to fall in love again.


Pro Advice Panels Zoom

Session I:

9:00–10:00 a.m. Fiction: Editors & Agents Linda Howard Wendy Lawton Cheryl Ricker Raela Schoenherr

Session II:

10:00–11:00 a.m. Non-fiction: Editors Megan Dobson Patnacia Goodman Kathleen Kerr Shaun Tabatt

Session III:

Session IV:

11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Fiction Michelle Griep Julie Klassen Ann Sorenson

12:00–1:00 p.m. Non-fiction Alice Crider Mary DeMuth Carmen LaBerge Susie Larson

Session VI:

Session V:

2:00–3:00 p.m. YA & Kids Literature Jesse Florea Shawn Smucker Jackie Lea Sommers

1:00–2:00 p.m. Fiction Tessa Afshar Judith Hougen Susan Meissner James L. Rubart

Session VII:

3:00–4:00 p.m. Agents & Editors Blythe Daniel Janet Grant Andy McGuire Tim Peterson Cynthia Ruchti David Sluka


Workshop Sessions Recorded Sessions

Become Your Own Best Editor Tessa Afshar

One of the requirements for becoming a successful writer is skillful editing. Using examples from her own books, Tessa will demonstrate techniques for creating a better story and show us how to transform a mediocre first draft into writing that captivates readers.

Pitch Perfect Alice Crider

Whether you’re presenting your book to an agent, an editor, or your ideal reader, a great pitch isn’t an art or a rehearsed act—it’s a science. In this workshop, we’ll apply recent brain science information to give you a powerful advantage anytime you talk about your book. With a bit of scientific technology and an innovative method for presenting and persuading you’ll be able to: • Craft a powerful hook • Create irresistible intrigue • Get to “yes” quickly Come and find out how one powerful pitch can improve your publishing career—and even change your life!

Write the Truth; Change the World Mary DeMuth

So many of us write afraid. We fear what others think, particularly our families. But if all of us shrank from telling our stories, who would mentor the next generation with words? Mary shares how to move from fear of the page to bold, powerful, life-changing writing. Writing like this is possible.

Writer’s Toolbox Brianna Flavin

What makes your written voice distinct? How do you catch, and keep, readers’ attention? All writers use words to convey meaning, but imparting a voice, a tone, a rhythm goes far beyond the dictionary. In this workshop, you will learn a variety of tools you can use to tailor your writing style to fit your projects, as well as innovative ways to lend clarity, control emphasis, invigorate vocabulary, and enhance overall impact.


Art of the Interview Jesse Florea

Everybody has a story to tell...and you can help tell it. A constructive interview will enable you to write an engaging story. (And personality stories are big sellers in the magazine and book market.) From tips on how to land an interview to ideas on how to structure questions, this workshop will help you make the most of an interview and break into the feature-writing world. We’ll also cover how to structure your article for a particular market and how to use the same interview for multiple markets.

Taking Your Writing to the Next Level Mark Galli

When we first start writing, we are given a number of useful rules, like “avoid the passive” and “don’t use a long word when a short one will do” and “avoid jargon.” But we’ve read enough to note that good writers often break the rules, which suggests that taking our writing to the next level might entail different ways of thinking about what we’re doing. This workshop will offer some tools and ideas to do just that.

Getting Started in Christian Fiction Michelle Griep & Julie Klassen

What sets Christian fiction apart? We will cover choosing a sellable idea, incorporating faith in fiction, resources for character and plot development, avoiding common mistakes, and tips for finishing your book and getting it published.

Writing Personal Stories: Tools for Finding the Heart of the Narrative Judith Hougen

People are drawn to personal stories. When written well, they can be powerful and transformative. This workshop will cover practical aspects of writing our stories, including the arc of a narrative, detail, scenes/reflection, and tension. We will also dive into the deeper concerns of personal narrative, touching on issues such as how we know a story is ready to be told, our motives for telling it, and the spiritual journey of sharing ourselves in writing.

Understanding the YA Market Linda Howard

YA books have some of the biggest hits and the biggest flops. What works and what doesn’t? What are Christian publishers looking for in their YA books? How can we reach our teens and adults with strong messages of hope? We will address all these questions in this informative session.


How to Avoid an Embarrassing Book Proposal Kathleen Kerr

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.​

The Right-Brain Writing Plan: From the Ideas in Your Head to the Printed Page Carmen LaBerge

Writing is a creative art, which means most writers operate most naturally out of the right brain. So why are most writing plans designed with left-brain style lists? Carmen shares a right-brain process for getting creatives from ideation to the printed page. Using a visual map and a process that’s literally (on and) off the wall (sticky notes galore), you’ll find fresh inspiration with interactive worksheets that help you see your ideas, communicate them effectively to others, and even earn a “badge of honor” to keep you motivated for the writing journey.

Devotional Writing Susie Larson & David Sluka

In this inspirational and practical workshop, Susie Larson and David Sluka will discuss how you can write from your heart, stay true to the Word of God, and encourage others through devotional writing. Topics will also include: • The fastest way to write a devotional entry • Essential devotional content to include and extra elements that are a bonus for readers • The difference between devotional writing and a diary • Recommended length for daily devotions • How to go deeper with your writing content to create greater focus and impact for your reader • Titling to attract more readers • Putting together a daily devotional or a compilation of your devotions into a 21-, 31-, 40-, 90-, or 365-day collection


How to Maintain Great Relationships in Your Writing Career Susan Meissner

Writing is so very often a solo exercise, but having a career as a writer is not. Building great interpersonal relationships with fellow writers, your agent, editor, readers, and the public will set you up to be seen and respected as a true professional who values other people more than status or opportunity. This workshop will show you what to do to nurture those relationships and, more importantly, what to avoid doing.

Understanding Branding, Discover Yours, and Immediately Apply it to Your Website James L. Rubart

In this practicum, participants will learn what branding is, how to discover their own unique brand, then use that knowledge to transform their websites. Three class members will be chosen to have their website analyzed and given suggestions on how to revise their website to reflect their brand and more powerfully engage with their readers.

The Shark Tank School of Pitching Your Project Cynthia Ruchti

What can a writer learn from the Shark Tank TV show? How is pitching a book proposal to an agent or editor much like pitching an invention or product to a panel of potential investors? What makes an investor want to say yes? What makes them need to say no, even if they like the product? What do the investors name as red flags? There are so many similarities between pitching a book and pitching an invention on Shark Tank. Let’s discover together what writers can learn from the Shark Tank model.​

Creating Characters with Depth Shawn Smucker

The driving force behind any story is the group of characters that inhabit it. In this workshop, we’ll explore the key elements of compelling characters and what an author can do to bring them to life.

Teen Talk: Writing Effective YA Dialogue Jackie Lea Sommers

This lively, engaging workshop will focus on the elements that make for effective teen dialogue, why effective dialogue is better than realistic, a thoughtful analysis on using profanity, the pros and cons of slang, the best dialogue tags, how to discuss mature topics in a teen voice, the importance of pacing, and a critical look at subtext, what’s not being said, and why that matters too.


Screenwriting 101 Ann Sorenson

This session will explore three differences between writing for the page and writing for the screen: • Structure • Show vs. Tell • Devotion

Podcasting for Fun and Profit Shaun Tabatt

Podcasts are a great way for authors to connect with fans and fellow authors, but for the uninitiated, taking the plunge can feel rather intimidating. In this session, we’ll discuss how easy it is to get started in podcasting, look at ways to effectively integrate your podcast into your existing social media plans, and examine several authors who are already using their podcast to sell more books and generate affiliate income.


Next Step Online Writing Courses Gain new strengths. Hone your skills.

With these six-week courses, you can press forward into the publishing world, knowing you’re well on your way to print.

Registration opens July 25, 2020:

You’ll join a cohort of other Christian writers encouraging one another each step of the way. • $400 per course • Non-credit bearing • Use discount code “NCWC2020” through 8/15/20 for 10% off registration “Ready, Set, Go: Proposal, One Sheet, Pitch” (August 2020) Lead Instructor: Alice Crider, experienced industry expert and coach. This course focuses on non-fiction work. Your book’s audience, central problem, and concept must already be established. “Building a Platform” (October 2020) “Writing Style” (January 2021)

The Essential At-Home Writer’s Conference Guide The Northwestern Christian Writers Conference believes equal parts rest, refreshment, energy, and creative play are essential to the writer’s journey. We encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities while at home.

Make a writing-centric space in your home

Listen to a writing playlist

Prepare snacks

Grab a special drink

Take a deep breath and/or walk

Journal for 15 minutes

Chat with a new friend


1:1 Appointment Prep 1.

Look good. You’re meeting with a professional. Dress like one.


Be polite. Everybody likes meeting nice, interesting writers who can talk naturally about their books. Nobody likes meeting someone who comes off as a know-it-all.


Write a two-paragraph summary. When pitching agents your book, you must strip your story of all its frills and address its basic elements: why would a reader want to read this book?


Practice and be prepared to answer questions. Practice will help your pitch sound natural and conversational, which will help your pitching session feel more relaxed.


Have something with you. It’s always best to have a short overview and some sample pages with you at the meeting.


Identify how your book is different. No matter what genre you’re writing in, you have to be able to show why your story is different and why that difference needs to be read.


Prepare answers to follow up questions. You might have time for the agent to ask questions about you. This is their chance to get to know you as a writer, so it helps to think about what you want to say in advance.


Listen to the response you receive. Don’t be surprised if an editor doesn’t like your idea or if an agent suggests changes.


Relax. If you believe that your literary career will be made or broken in your 10-minute pitch, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Be calm and be confident because no matter what happens, you win. Prepare, practice, and you’ll do a great job. Adapted from:


Faculty Bios Tessa Afshar

Novelist | Tyndale and Moody Publishers Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of historical and biblical fiction. Her books have won the Christy and INSPY awards, and they’ve been voted by the Library Journal as one of the top five Christian fiction titles of the year. Tessa was born in Iran and lived there the first 14 years of her life. She survived boarding school for girls in England before settling in the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship.

Alice Crider

Author Coach, Editor | Write Concepts Alice Crider is an author coach and a freelance editor. Since 1998, she has served in various editorial capacities in Christian publishing— from editor (WaterBrook Press) to literary agent (Wordserve Literary) to director of acquisitions and development (David C Cook). Also a certified life coach, Alice teaches writing and editing workshops at writer’s conferences nationally and internationally, coaches individual authors and groups, and she is the creator of an online marketing course that shows authors how to succeed in publishing without struggling to build a platform.

Blythe Daniel

Literary Agent | The Blythe Daniel Agency, Inc. Blythe Daniel is an author, literary agent, and marketer with 25 years of experience in media and publishing. She is a speaker for writer’s conferences and writes for publications such as Focus on the Family. Her passion is helping authors share their unique stories. She links bloggers with readers through BlogAbout and publicity campaigns. She is the co-author of Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters with her mom, Dr. Helen McIntosh.


Mary DeMuth

Writer, Novelist Mary DeMuth is an international speaker and podcaster, and she’s the novelist and non-fiction author of 39 books, including the latest: We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis (Harvest House Publishers 2019). She loves to help people re-story their lives.

Megan Dobson

Publisher of Christian Audio | Recorded Books Megan Dobson is the publisher of Christian Audio, an imprint of Recorded Books, the largest independent English language audio publisher in the world. Prior to this role, Megan spent nine years at HarperCollins Christian Publishing as the associate publisher for W Publishing, a non-fiction trade imprint, and as the director of a general market sales division where she partnered with publishers on content direction and expanding placement for inspirational books in Target, Walmart, Costco, and more. Megan began her writing and editorial career with the nonprofit Stephen Ministries in St. Louis. She received an English Alumni Scholarship to study English literature at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, where she won the Excellence in Writing Award and Frederick Fausz Achievement Award from the Pierre Laclede Honors College.

Brianna Flavin

Assistant Professor of English | University of Northwestern Brianna Flavin is an assistant professor of English at University of Northwestern – St. Paul and a poet. She mentors incarcerated poets in the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop and writes freelance content articles for higher education institutions. She believes the power of words impacts not only communication and expression but also selfdiscovery, empathy, and spiritual health.


Jesse Florea

Senior Editorial Director, Youth Publications | Focus on the Family Jesse Florea has worked at Focus on the Family for more than 26 years. Currently, he oversees Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines. He also co-hosts the biweekly “Official Adventures in Odyssey” podcast and the weekly “Official Average Boy” podcast. He has written or co-written more than 40 books (including the Defend Your Faith Apologetics Bible for Kids, The Case for Miracles for Kids, The Case for Grace for Kids, and numerous Christian sports biographies).

Mark Galli

Former Editor-in-Chief | Christianity Today Mark Galli was born and raised in California, where he received degrees from UC Santa Cruz and Fuller Theological Seminary. He served as a pastor in Mexico City and Sacramento, California before joining Leadership Journal. He went on to become editor of Christian History and ended his 30-year journalism career as editor-in-chief of Christianity Today.

Patnacia Goodman

Acquisitions Associate | Bethany House Publishers Patnacia Goodman is a non-fiction acquisitions editor at Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Her love for reading led her to pursue her B.A. in English Literature and Writing from Bethel University.


Janet Grant

Founder, Literary Agent | Books & Such Literary Management Janet Kobobel Grant founded Books & Such Literary Management in 1996. The agency consists of five agents who represent more than 275 clients. Janet’s clients include numerous bestselling authors and winners of the ECPA Gold Medallion, Christy Award, Holt Medallion, and RITA. Previously she was a book editor for more than 12 years, an imprint editor at Zondervan, managing book editor at Focus on the Family, collaborator on 17 books, and writer of two books.

Michelle Griep

Author | Barbour Publishing Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Bow Street Runners trilogy (The Noble Guardian, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, Brentwood’s Ward), Once Upon a Dickens Christmas, A Tale of Two Hearts, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captured Bride, The Captive Heart, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but she also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan.

Judith Hougen

Professor of English & Literature | University of Northwestern Judith Hougen is an award-winning writer who has taught creative writing at University of Northwestern – St. Paul for over 20 years. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and has published two books: The Second Thing I Remember (poetry) and Transformed Into Fire: Discovering Your True Identity as God’s Beloved (Christian living). She loves leading workshops and retreats on writing and spiritual life.


Linda Howard

Associate Publisher, Children & Youth | Tyndale House Publishers Linda Howard is Associate Publisher for Children and Youth at Tyndale House Publishers. She brings an extensive background working with children and children’s products to her role, including teaching, marketing, and product development for several brands. Linda currently leads the kids’ team, developing overall strategy for Tyndale Children and Youth, acquiring projects, and overseeing product development of all books. She has also worked in the marketing arena and built strong relationships with several of Tyndale’s publishing partners. She oversees the Compassion International Publishing partnership and has worked with best-selling authors Ann Voskamp, John Ortberg, and more.

Kathleen Kerr

Acquisitions Editor | Harvest House Publishers Kathleen Kerr grew up around books, and when she got old enough she decided to try making them herself. She is an acquisitions editor at Harvest House Publishers and is a frequent speaker at conferences around the country. Previously, she was an acquisitions editor at Zondervan Publishing House.

Julie Klassen

Author | Bethany House Publishers Julie Klassen is a bestselling author of historical fiction whose books have sold over a million copies. She is a three-time recipient of the Christy Award and has also won the Minnesota Book Award, the Midwest Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in Christian publishing for 16 years. She now writes full time and enjoys encouraging new writers.


Carmen LaBerge

Host, Mornings with Carmen | Faith Radio Carmen LaBerge helps people reconnect the eternal with the everyday and equips Christians to engage the culture in ways that honor Jesus. Carmen is a trusted evangelical voice in a time when evangelical leadership is often considered suspect. Carmen has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Florida (1990) and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary (1993).

Susie Larson

Author; Host, Susie Larson Live | Faith Radio Susie Larson is a national speaker, multi-published author, and the host of the daily talk show Susie Larson Live, heard on the Faith Radio Network. Susie is a regular guest host for Chris Fabry Live, heard nationally on Moody Radio. Susie is the author of 16 books and many articles and was twice voted a top-ten finalist for the John C. Maxwell Transformational Leadership Award.

Wendy Lawton

Vice President, Agent | Books & Such Literary Management Wendy Lawton is an agent with the much-respected literary agency Books & Such. She represents some of the finest writers in the industry, including many bestselling authors. She’s served on the faculty of several major writer’s conferences, won the infamous Bulwer-Lytton competition, and authored 13 books.


Andy McGuire

Executive Acquisitions Editor | Bethany House Publishers/ Baker Publishing Group Andy McGuire is executive acquisitions editor of non-fiction for Bethany House, where he has worked for 11 years. Previously he acquired for Moody Publishers, and before that he edited economics textbooks for an academic publisher. Andy has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Miami University and an M.A. in Literature from Ohio University. Andy also writes and illustrates children’s books in his spare time.

Susan Meissner

Author | Penguin Random House Susan Meissner is a USA Today bestselling novelist with more than half a million books in print in 15 languages. Her novels include The Last Year of the War, a Library Reads and Real Simple top pick, and As Bright as Heaven, starred review from Library Journal. She attended Point Loma Nazarene University, and when she’s not working on a book, she volunteers for Words Alive, a San Diego nonprofit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.

Timothy Peterson

Publisher | Salem Books Timothy Peterson has more than 25 years of publishing experience. He worked in sales and sales management for Zondervan, marketing and editorial for Baker Publishing, and served as associate publisher for David C Cook.


Cheryl Ricker

Literary Agent, Author Coach | Dunamis Words Cheryl Ricker is an author, poet, ghostwriter, author coach, and literary agent who enjoys all things artsy. Her memoirs and devotionals reveal God’s limitless power and love, igniting people to passionately pursue Him. Cheryl and her husband, Dwight, love helping gifted authors and ministry leaders make a big Kingdom impact while reaching their literary dreams. Cheryl gives her clients focused attention and representation through her agency, Dunamis Words. She studied creative writing and film at York University in Toronto, Ontario and theology at Christ For the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas.

James L. Rubart

Co-owner | The Rubart Writing Academy James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons. He’s the bestselling, Christy Hall of Fame, Carol, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews awardwinning author of ten novels and loves sending readers on mindbending journeys they’ll remember months after they finish his stories. He’s a branding expert, audio book narrator, and owner with his son, Taylor, of the Rubart Writing Academy.

Cynthia Ruchti

Agent | Books & Such Literary Management Cynthia Ruchti is a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management, which specializes in serving the Christian publishing industry. Her background includes 33 years writing and producing a 15-minute scripted radio broadcast, authorship of more than 30 books (both fiction and non-fiction), and serving as the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers.


Raela Schoenherr

Senior Acquisitions Editor | Bethany House Publishers Raela Schoenherr has been a member of the Bethany House Publishers fiction acquisitions team since 2008. A lifelong reader of Christian fiction, she is privileged to work with the excellent authors publishing in Christian fiction today. A graduate of Bethel University, she loves to connect with writers on Twitter.

David Sluka

Acquisitions Editor | Chosen Books For over 20 years David has worked with Christian authors to help them prepare, write, and share the messages God has given to them. He is the author of two books and has ghostwritten others, was the editorial director for BroadStreet Publishing and The Passion Translation, and is now senior acquisitions editor for Chosen Books, a division of the Baker Publishing Group.

Shawn Smucker Writer, Podcaster

Shawn Smucker is the author of the novels The Day the Angels Fell, The Edge of Over There, Light from Distant Stars, and the memoir, Once We Were Strangers.


Jackie Lea Sommers

Senior Admission Counselor | University of Northwestern Jackie Lea Sommers lives and loves and writes in Minnesota, where the people are nice and the vowels are long. She is the 2013 winner of the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing. Her debut novel, Truest, was published by HarperCollins in September 2015. Currently, she is at work on a novel about an angry girl afraid to trust, a broken boy ruined by nightmares, and an island that opens like Pandora’s Box. Jackie blogs about faith and creativity at

Ann Sorenson

Professor of Film | University of Northwestern Ann Sorenson received her M.F.A. in Film from Columbia University. During her time in New York City, she received a New York Women in Film nomination and a Directing the Actors Fellowship from Columbia University.

Shaun Tabatt

Acquisitions & Marketing Publishing Executive | Nori Media Group Shaun’s first loves are his faith, family, books, coffee, and running. By day he works for Nori Media Group as an Acquisitions and Marketing Publishing Executive. By night he stays up late planning for and editing episodes of The Shaun Tabatt Show. Shaun and his wife Lynette are the proud parents of 10 AMAZING children.



Advance your story. Write yourself into a career in publishing, editing, script development, digital content creation, and more.

Discover where your story will lead you. From filmmaker to poet, radio host to grant writer—University of Northwestern gives you the chance to find your voice and change the world. Programs include: • English: Creative Writing • Media Production: Content Creation & Journalism • Professional Writing Activities include: • PSEO Credits • Inkstone Literary Magazine • The Remnant Student Radio • Five16 Film Festival Questions? Contact UNW Admissions at 651-631-5111 or

Theatre Season


Beauty and the Beast Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure Lettres et CafĂŠ Bright Star The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby Season tickets available July 2020 |



Mitali Perkins

Anthony Doerr

Jemar Tisby

Kiki Petrosino

Anne Bogel

Kevin Young

Kate DiCamillo

Kim Cash Tate

& more!

Katherine Paterson


Faith Radio offers a blend of preaching, teaching, and compelling conversation to help connect faith to life.

Mornings with Carmen LaBerge

6:00 - 8:00 am With unique insights from a Biblical context, Carmen LaBerge seeks to reconnect the eternal with the everyday and enters into conversations in ways that honor Jesus.

Susie Larson Live 3:00 - 4:00 pm Engaging in conversations that bring Scripture to life, Susie Larson offers practical ways to live out your convictions and inspire you to a deep and active walk of faith.

Afternoons with Bill Arnold

4:00 - 6:00 pm With faith, hope and clarity, Bill Arnold welcomes Bible scholars, teachers, and Christian leaders to help us grow deeper in our faith.

Listen anytime on, or download the Faith Radio Network App

March 5 & 6, 2021 Come, set one or two days apart to spend with your Heavenly Father in vibrant worship, Biblical and Christ-centered teaching, insightful speakers, relevant workshops, true friendships and fun!

University of Northwestern - St. Paul Campus

3003 Snelling Avenue North | St. Paul, MN 55113

Keynote Speakers

Pam Tebow

Rebekah Lyons | 651.631.5151

A leader in Christian fiction and nonfiction for the Christian life. Congratulations for the winner of the Bethany House Aspiring Author Award.

Want to write words for a reader but don’t know where to start? We’re here to help you balance the art of writing with the business of publishing. JOIN OUR COMMUNITY FOR TWO WEEKS FOR ONLY $1!

Save the Date


July 16 & 17, 2021 University of Northwestern – St. Paul *Discounted tickets on sale January 2021!*

learn your craft, develop your skills. MNCHRISTIANWRITERS.COM

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