Our stellar 2014 faculty has the passion and ability to help Christian writers meet the challenges of today’s writing and publishing world. We will continue to add additional information as the conference date nears.
SPECIAL KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
Newell and Colleen Cerak, Authors of #1 New York Times Bestseller, Mistaken Identity. Newell and Colleen are the parents of Whitney Cerak who was mistakenly identified as deceased at the scene of a tragic car accident in the spring of 2006. A month later, it was discovered that Whitney was in fact alive, and another family, thinking she was their daughter, had been caring for her all that time. While the Ceraks were overcome with joy that Whitney was alive, they soon found that their happiness was met by the despair of the other family newly grieving a month old loss of their own daughter. The Ceraks along with the Van Ryns released a book about all these events and their emotional struggle called Mistaken Identity. This New York Times #1 Bestseller brings to life the joy and pain of two families who have over come so much, and in the midst of it all, point to God’s love as the source of their strength.
Cliff Graham, Author, Speaker. Cliff Graham is the author of the Lion of War series of novels based on King David’s Mighty Men, soon to be a major motion picture franchise. He was an officer in the United States Army and veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. Cliff speaks around the country, and he and his wife Cassandra live in the mountains of Utah with their children. He is an avid outdoor enthusiast, finding adventure and inspiration in the mountains that are his backyard.
Jay Payleitner, Producer, Speaker, Author. Jay Payleitner is one of the top freelance Christian radio producers in the United States. He has worked on Josh McDowell Radio, Today’s Father, Jesus Freaks Radio for the The Voice of the Martyrs, and many others. He’s also a popular speaker on parenting and marriage, a bestselling author of 14 books, creativity trainer, and served director of the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative. Jay and his wife, Rita, make their home in the Chicago area, where they’ve raised five great kids and loved on ten foster babies.
Dawn Anderson, Editor, Kregel. Dawn Anderson passionately loves the career to which God has drawn her. A graduate of Cornerstone University with an English major and a psychology minor, she began proofreading professionally in college, but took the circuitous route through typesetting, teaching high school English, homeschooling, and play directing before finally settling down to editing full time. Kregel employee of the year for 2012, wife of twenty-plus years, mom of tweens and teens, and involved with youth at church, she enjoys reading proposals (and a few published works) in her free time.
Dan Balow, Agent, Steve Laube Agency. Dan Balow, director of publishing development and literary agent at the Steve Laube Agency, started in Christian publishing in 1983 and over the last 30+ years has been involved with the business side of the industry in marketing, sales, rights management, foreign sales, audio books, digital publishing, web management and acquisitions. With half of his experience coming with Tyndale House from the early 90’s to the mid-2000’s, Dan has developed a wide-ranging perspective on the industry. He joined The Steve Laube Agency in July 2013. Dan is a graduate of Wheaton College (Illinois) with a degree in Communications, is married to Carol, a speech therapist in the public schools, and they make Wheaton, Illinois their home. They have four grown children (and one grandchild).
Barb Barnes, Editor, Baker Publishing Group. Barb Barnes has been an editor for nine years at Baker Publishing Group with their Revell and Baker Books Divisions. Before BPG, she worked in television production, then had the joy of becoming a stay-at-home mom, freelancing as a proofreader for several publishing houses and then as a copyeditor. Fiction is her primary focus and passion. Working with delightful authors like Suzanne Woods Fisher, Lynette Eason, Ann Gabhart, Julie Lessman, and Jane Krikpatrick, she lives in the Grand Rapids area with a crazy husband who keeps her young. They have two awesome sons, one of whom is a Marine.
Crystal Bowman, Author of children’s books. Crystal Bowman is an award-winning, bestselling author of over 80 books for children including The One Year Book of Devotions for Preschoolers, My Grandma and Me, and J is for Jesus. A national speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and teacher at several writers’ conferences throughout the year, Crystal also writes lyrics for children’s piano music and stories for Clubhouse Jr. Magazine.
Ann Byle, Agent, Credo Communications. Ann Byle is a freelance writer for local and national publications and a literary agent with Credo Communications. She writes for Publishers Weekly, Christian Retailing, Thriving Family, NovelCrossing.com, and Grand Rapids Magazine, and wrote for many years for The Grand Rapids Press. She is also author or coauthor of several books. She lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., with her husband, children, and pets.
Bill and Nancie Carmichael, Deep River Books. Deep River Books was founded by Bill and Nancie Carmichael. When it comes to publishing and writing, the Carmichaels are veterans. The Carmichaels are the founding publishers of Good Family Magazines, which included Christian Parenting Today, Virtue, and Parents of Teenagers magazines, with a combined readership of over one million. Today, the magazines continue to be published by Christianity Today.Bill and Nancie are the authors of 15 books, including Habits of a Healthy Home, Lord, Bless My Child, Lord, Bless This Marriage, Desperate for God, Praying For Rain, Selah, and Your Life, God’s Home. Their newest releases are Surviving One Bad Year and The Missionary. Their books have been published by Howard Books, Moody Publishers, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Harvest House, Revell-Baker, Crossway Books and more. They are also frequent contributors to magazines, which include regular columns in Becoming Family and PE Weekly. Bill and Nancie are also frequent guests on radio and television talk shows.
John Chisum, Musician, Worship Pastor. John is widely known for his songs recorded by Christian artist Ron Kenoly, Steve Green, Larnelle Harris, The Gaither Vocal Band, Truth, First Call, The Cathedrals and many of Integrity’s Hosanna! Music recordings. John has been a long- time music industry professional in music publishing, artist development, songwriter, and producer roles for over 200 projects.
Lyn Cryderman, Writer and Publishing Consultant. Lyn Cryderman began his publishing career as a high-school English teacher where every night he took home a briefcase full of essays and attacked them with his red pen. In his spare time he wrote for newspapers and magazines, making the transition to the publishing industry in 1985 as the editor of a denominational magazine. After serving as managing editor of Christianity Today and publisher of Zondervan’s book group, he left to pursue freelance writing and consulting opportunities.
Don Gates. Don Gates is the founder of The Gates Group, a multi-faceted communications agency, where he works with well-known pastors, authors and ministry leaders. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Wheaton College. Prior to starting his own venture, Don was Vice President of Marketing for Zondervan where he collaborated with such accomplished authors as Rick Warren, Anne Graham Lotz, Philip Yancey, Lee Strobel, Ann Voskamp, Kyle Idleman, and Max Lucado. Previously, he spent fifteen years in brand management and food marketing. Don received a BS degree from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA degree from Kellogg at Northwestern University. He is pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and serves on the board of several faith-based organizations. Don has been faithfully married to Amy for twenty-two years and is very active in the lives of their three children.
Linda Glaz, Author, Agent, Hartline Literary Agency. Linda S. Glaz is an experienced editor, reviewer and writer, has participated as a final reader for Wild Rose Press, then for White Rose Publishing all the while reviewing for online sites. She has worked as an editorial assistant for Hartline Agent Terry Burns. She’s extremely active in the judging community and speaks at conferences nationwide. She is also a member of AWSA. Linda understands writers, because she IS a writer.
Timothy Haines. Tim Haines grew up in Upstate New York but fell in love with Michigan after attending Hope College. He launched a digital social media agency called TechBridge in 2009 and works full time as the Social Media Specialist. In a world where social media is constantly changing, Tim hopes to make a difference by providing hype-free education to clients trying to make their message heard.
Bob Hudson, Senior Editor-at-Large, Zondervan. Bob Hudson has been an editor for Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins Christian) for thirty years. His articles have appeared in Christianity Today, The Banner, The Lamp-Post (C. S. Lewis Journal), and Gadfly among others, and his poetry has appeared in Seneca Review, Mars Hill Review, The Other Side, Good Foot, The Mennonite, West Hills Review, Studies in Contemporary Satire, The Formalist, and other journals. He is the author or coauthor of The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, Companions for the Soul: A Yearlong Journey of Miracles, Prayers, and Poems (with Shelley Townsend-Hudson), and Beyond Belief: What the Martyrs Said to God (Duane W. H. Arnold and Bob Hudson). He and his wife, Shelley, play fiddle and banjo, respectively, in the old-time string band called Gooder’n Grits.
Chris Jager, Fiction Buyer, Baker Book House. Chris Jager has been the fiction buyer for Baker Book House for the past 18 years. An avid reader her entire life, she loves fiction. She has an enviable grasp of the genre with a solid understanding of authors and publishers alike. Customers value her judgment and recommendations, and publishers often seek our her opinion for advice on both content and cover designs. She is a frequent speaker at the Evangelical Christian Librarians’ Association (ECLA) in Chicago and is consultant to numerous church libraries.
Lissa Halls Johnson, Author, Collaborative Writer, Editor. Lissa’s contribution to this conference comes after many years of conference teaching; the classes she offers have grown out of her work as a freelance writer and editor, in addition to several years as an editor in the book division at Focus on the Family. Her experience in writing covers the gamut, from articles to radio theater to short stories, novels, and memoirs. She’s had over twenty books published, the most recent a memoir for David C. Cook with Irene Garcia titled, Rich in Love. She has also written memoirs for Kirk Cameron (Still Growing) and his mother, Barbara Cameron (A Full House of Growing Pains). She has been editing for over fifteen years, including being the editor/creator of two book series. She combines that wellspring of experience with her genuine enjoyment of hanging out with writers and being a flashlight for those on the journey with her.
Eddie Jones, Lighthouse Publishing. Eddie Jones is a North Carolina-based writer and Acquisition Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. At the Maranatha Christian Writers’ Conference Eddie will be looking for niche devotional books, daily devotions for ChristianDevotions.us and fiction for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.
Jack Kuhatschek, VP & Publisher, Baker Publishing Group. Jack Kuhatschek is executive VP & publisher at Baker Publishing Group. He is a publishing veteran with over thirty years in the book business, having worked at InterVarsity Press, Zondervan, and Baker. Jack has worked with such authors as Rick Warren, John Ortberg, Bill Hybels, and David Kinnaman. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his wife, Sandy, and their dog Annie. Jack and Sandy have two children.
Cindy Lambert, Publishing Strategist, Collaborative Writer and Editor. Cindy Lambert publishing strategist for Somersault Group and collaborative writer, began her career as owner of an award-winning independent Christian bookstore, then expanded into leadership roles in distribution, editorial, consumer research, and publishing at Ingram, Simon & Schuster, and Zondervan, where she served as vice president and associate publisher of trade books. As a collaborative writer, Cindy has co-authored the bestselling book UnPlanned with Abby Johnson (Tyndale and Focus on the Family, 2010), 40 Days for Life with Bereit and Carney (Cappella Books, 2013), One Light Still Shines with Marie Monville (Zondervan, 2013), and Unstoppable with Christine Caine (Zondervan, 2014). She and her husband, Dave, have six children and nine grandchildren.
David Lambert, Editorial Director, Author. Dave Lambert is the author of ten published books. He has received numerous awards for magazine articles and short stories published in such places as Virtue, Moody, Story, Christian Parenting Today, Sweet Sixteen, Decision, Montana Magazine, Campus Life, Outreach, and many other periodicals. David has an M.F.A. in fiction writing from the University of Montana. He has held a variety of positions in publishing, spending eighteen years as an acquiring editor at Zondervan, most of that time as executive editor for fiction, and more recently, three years as senior fiction editor at Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. David is the editorial director for Somersault.
Gail Gaymer Martin, Author and Speaker, Gail Gaymer Martin, multi-award-winning novelist, writes Christian fiction with fifty-five published novels and nearly four million books in print. She is the author of Writers Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance and a co-founder and executive board member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), as well as a member of Christian Authors Network(CAN). Gail was named one of the four best novelists in the Detroit area by CBS local news. She is a keynote speaker and workshop presenter at writers’ conference across the US. Visit her website at www.gailgaymermartin.com.
Shayne Moore, Author and Speaker. Shayne Moore is the author of Refuse to do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern Day Slavery and Global Soccer Mom: Changing the World is Easier Than You Think. Shayne is a founder and sits on the Board of Directors at Redbud Writers Guild (www.redbudwritersguild.com). With an MA in theology, Shayne is an active speaker and writes for her blog (www.ShayneMoore.com). She is a member of the World Vision Speakers Bureau. She can be found at www.facebook.com/shayne.moore and on Twitter @GlobalSoccerMom.
Andrew Rogers, Editor, Discovery House. Andrew Rogers writes fiction, non-fiction, and emails that are just a bit too long. He has worked in the book industry since 2007 in both publishing and retail, on marketing team and on editorial team. He is currently an editor at Discovery House Publishers. Andrew is a member of a writers group called The Weaklings. Together they host Jot: The GR Writers Mini-Conference. Andrew is married, a father, and lives in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. His writing has appeared in Catapult Magazine, The Write Michigan 2013 Anthology, The West Michigan Christian News, Prodigal Son Magazine, the Upper Room, and elsewhere. Twitter: @ALRstories Website: www.tellbetterstories.wordpress.com
John Sawyer, Brand and Marketing Strategist, Somersault. John Sawyer is the brand & marketing strategist for Somersault Group, responsible for developing brand identity and positioning strategies for authors and publishing professionals to help them build loyal readership and long-term value. Previously vice president of Bible marketing at Zondervan, John is also chief strategy officer at Grey Matter Group.
Dave Sheets, AuthorOneSource, Christian Writers’ Guild. Dave Sheets is a book industry veteran with experience with some of the top publishers and distributors in the industry, including Tyndale House Publishers, Multnomah Publishers, STL Distribution and Harvest House. In 2008, David was named as one of Christian Retailing Magazine’s ‘Top 40 under 40,’ in which CRM identified 40 individuals under the age of 40 “who are widely considered to be influential figures for the days ahead in the Christian product industry.” From traditional publishing, Dave transitioned to independent publishing, first serving authors through a revolutionary digital print solutions company called Snowfall Press, which later led to a new printer called BookPrintOnDemand.com, a full service print-on-demand company. In September 2013, Dave became President of Christian Writers Guild, co-owned with Jerry B. Jenkins, and merged this organization with Believers Press, an eleven year old indie-publishing company and created Author1Source.com.
John Sloan, Zondervan Executive Editorial Specialist, HarperCollins Christian Publishing House. John has worked for thirty-four years in religious publishing. He specializes in non-fiction essay and narrative non-fiction, including memoir and autobiography, and he has worked on books with authors Philip Yancey, Ben Carson, Chuck Swindoll, Chuck Colson, Joni Eareckson Tada, Lee Strobel, Ravi Zacharias, Howard Hendricks, Bill Hybels, John Ortberg, and Gary Wilkerson as he pens the authorized David Wilkerson autobiography. Using editorial experience and creativity to advocate non- fiction narrative John guides authors in finalizing book organization for proposals and their final writings. He gives different approaches to structure and unity, and suggests rearrangements of material in new frameworks. He helps the author discover structure, unity, and their voice. John has edited 22 Gold Medallion Award-winning books and 2 Book of the Year winners.
Jeannette Taylor, Product Development and Marketing Strategist. Jeannette Taylor is our research & development architect, responsible for product development and marketing strategies, and supervision of all research functions for Somersault. With 30 years of strategic marketing and research experience, she’s conducted research studies on everything from egg kits to Philip Yancey. She owns the research firm JET Marketing and is an adjunct professor at Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, MI. Jeannette is the former General Manager of Bibles and Vice President of Marketing at Zondervan.
Rob Teigen, Baker Book Group. Rob Teigen has been a publishing professional for over twenty years, working with Moody Publishers, Harvest House Publishers, and Baker Publishing Group. Rob is also a best-selling author having written several children’s joke books with over one million total copies sold. He and his wife Joanna have teamed up to write several parenting books as well. Rob lives in West Michigan where he enjoys life and laughter with Joanna and their five children.
Sandra VanderZicht, Associate Publisher and Executive Editor, Zondervan. Sandy VanderZicht has more than thirty-six years of experience in Christian publishing, the past twenty- nine of those at Zondervan, where she serves as Associate Publisher & Executive Editor. Sandy has worked with many authors, including Christine Caine, Henry Cloud, Jim Cymbala, Karen Ehman, Carol Kent, Anne Graham Lotz, Les & Leslie Parrott, Lysa TerKeurst, Jerry Sittser, Ann Spangler, John Townsend, and Ann Voskamp. She has also served as an associate editor of a weekly denominational magazine and as a curriculum editor for Christian Schools International. Sandy loves meeting new people and encouraging them in their dreams.
James Watkins, Author, Speaker, Editor. Jim wears more hats than his Aunt Luella! He is author/contributor to over 30 books and over two thousand articles, conference speaker throughout North America and overseas, editorial advisor for ACW Press, instructor at Taylor University and most of all, child of God. The “hats” are what he does, but not who he is. “Whether I succeed or fail in those jobs, I know that my identity is secure in being an unconditionally loved child of God.” Jim has also served as an editor/writer for the American Bible Society, full-time editorial director at Wesleyan Publishing House, and weekly columnist for three secular newspapers for fifteen years – but not all at the same time. Most important, he’s married to Rev. Lois, has two married children and five adorable grandchildren.
Jessica Westra, Media Relations. Jessica Westra is an event manager and publicist from Holland, Michigan with over 20 years experience. She most recently was an event coordinator for Tulip Time, a large festival that draws in 500,000 people with an estimated $10 million economic impact. Previous to her positions at Tulip Time, she did freelance PR and events for a dozen years, focusing on Christian book tours, campaigns and mega-church author events. One of her career highlights during this time was helping to manage President’s Obama’s visit to Holland on behalf of client JCI. Her previous corporate PR positions were at Zondervan, where she managed adult trade book campaigns for authors like Philip Yancey, John Ortberg and Lee Strobel; and at SeyferthPR.
Wendy Wetzel, Editor, Baker Publishing Group. Wendy Wetzel is an editor for the Revell and Baker Books divisions of Baker Publishing Group. She has worked in publishing or as a freelance editor for over ten years. The many authors she has worked with include Melody Carlson, Holley Gerth, Mark Batterson, Sandra Orchard, and Hayley and Michael DiMarco. She lives in Grand Rapids, MI, with her husband and young daughter.