2014 Conference Faculty | Maranatha Christian Writers' Conference

2014 Conference Faculty

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.


nccerak Newell and Colleen Cerak, Authors of #1 New York Times Bestseller, Mistaken  IdentityNewell 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.

CGraham 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.



PayleitnerJ 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 RadioToday’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.



AndersonD 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.


portraits of Dan Balow taken April 9, 2010 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).

BarnesBBarnesB BarnesBBarb 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.


BowmanC 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.




ByleA 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.



CarmichaelB&N 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 HomeLord, Bless My ChildLord,  Bless This MarriageDesperate for GodPraying For RainSelah, 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.

jChisum 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.



CrydermanL 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.


DGates 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.

GlazL 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.



HainesT 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.



HudsonB 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.

ChrisJager2 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.


JohnsonLH 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-03032013-2-v2-cropped-72-facebook 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.




JackK 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.



LambertC 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.

LambertD 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.

MartinG 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.


SMoore 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.


RogersA 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


JSawyer 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. 


davesheets13 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.

sloan 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.

JTaylor 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. 

IMG_0184 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.




Sandy3 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.

WatkinsJ 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.

PSW- arms folded PeggySue Wells, Author, Editor, Speaker. Multi-tasking author, editor, teacher, and  speaker,  PeggySue Wells is the author of thousands of articles and two dozen books published  nationally and  internationally, translated into five languages, including a Wall Street Journal  and USA Today   bestseller, which is an audio finalist and made for TV film. PeggySue is a  broadcast co-host, columnist,  and writing coach. Her books focus on strengthening relationships,  the intrepid human spirit, and our  great God with whom all things are HIMpossible.


photo 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.


WetzelW 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.