Writing Advice I Took to Heart

Today’s guest post is by Lori Hatcher. She is an editor, writing instructor, award-winning Toastmasters International speaker, blogger, and author of three (soon to be five) devotionals, including Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible, and Hungry for God … Starving for Time: Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. Her articles and devotions have been published by Our Daily Bread, Guideposts, Revive Our Hearts, and When she’s not writing, she spends her time with her pastor-husband and four hilarious grandchildren. Connect with Lori at or on Facebook, Twitter (@lorihatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God). She is represented by Bob Hostetler.


I officially stepped into the Christian writing world in 2011 by attending my first conference. For the last decade, wise voices in the Christian publishing world have shared instruction, advice, and encouragement. I’d like to spotlight a few of those voices and the words they shared.

Eddie Jones

“Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Write what you know.”

Surrounded by Christy award-winning novelists and romance-writing machines, I felt intimidated at my first conference. Who was I fooling? I wasn’t Christy–award material, and I’d never wanted to write a novel. I didn’t belong in this crowd of wonder kids.

Then Eddie Jones took the lectern and said two sentences that changed my perspective: “Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Write what you know.” His no-frills advice told me I didn’t have to be a Christy award-winner to have a place in God’s writing stable. And I didn’t have to write novels to be a success. I could be a homeschool mom who wrote five-minute devotions for busy women. By giving me permission to be who I was, Eddie gave me room to become who God intended me to be.

Steve Laube

“Stay true to your project.”

I’d just been buried under an avalanche of rejections when I approached Steve at a conference. Reminding him of my (now thoroughly rejected) proposal, I said, “I’m not ready to give up on this. I still believe in it.”

“Tell me about it,” he said.

As I talked through my idea, he saw right through the shallow marketing concept I’d wrapped it in. Thinking I had to have a gimmick to attract a publisher, I’d disguised the true nature of my work.

“You have a unique concept here,” he said, “but it’s buried under all this other stuff. Rework your proposal to spotlight the main idea, and I think your book will have a chance.” By reminding me to stay true to my concept, Steve gave me the confidence to present it as it was. I reworked the proposal, and five months later I had a contract.

Bob Hostetler

“Always be thinking of the next great idea.”

During a career-planning meeting with Bob at the Blue Ridge conference in 2019, I announced that I’d recently submitted the manuscript for my book Refresh Your Faith: Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible. I expected him to give me a high five, chocolate, and roses (or at least buy me a milkshake) to celebrate my accomplishment.

Instead, he peppered me with a series of questions: “What’s the next book? What else needs refreshing? What would be a natural sequel to this one?” We brainstormed a few ideas, including Refresh Your Prayers: Uncommon Devotions to Unlock Power and Praise. This became my next-contracted book with Our Daily Bread Publishing.  By encouraging me always to be thinking of the next great idea, Bob taught me to be proactive in my writing career.

Proverbs 18:21 reminds us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (NASB). As members of the Christian writing community, we have the power of death or life in our tongues. Let’s choose our words carefully as we help other writers along on their journey.

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What if You Get a Book Deal on Your Own and Then Want an Agent?

One of our readers asked this via the green “Ask us a question” button.

What happens if you get a book contract before you have an agent? What if, by some miracle, an editor sees your work and wants to publish it? (1) would having a publisher interested in my work make an agent much more likely to represent me, and (2) would it be appropriate to try to find an agent at that point (when a publisher says it wants to publish you)? My fear is that querying an agent and receiving a response could take several months, but I’d need to accept a potential contract with a book publisher right away (I would think). Is it appropriate to ask the editor to speak with an agent on your behalf to speed the process?

This is a great topic but there are a few questions within the question. Let me try to break it down.

Many times have had authors approach us with contracts in hand and seeking representation (happened just last week). Of course this will get an agent’s attention immediately. But there are caveats:

a)      Who is the publisher? There is a big difference between a major company and your local independent publisher. Not all publishers are created equal (see the Preditors & Editors warnings).

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6 Chances to Meet Me in 2020

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! The 2020 Christian writers conference season is at the starting line. And this year, it presents writers with six distinct and geographically diverse opportunities to meet me! And pitch to me in person. What could be better? I ask you (and I’m still waiting …

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Down Under

By the time this blog is posted I should be nearing home after spending the weekend with a wonderful group of Australian and New Zealand writers at a retreat center in Mulgoa, Australia (approximately an hour’s drive west of Sydney) for The Omega Christian Writers Conference. I had the privilege …

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Always Be Learning

During the Summer of 1978 the #1 hit on Christian radio was the classic “He’s Alive” by Don Francisco (click here to listen). That same Summer I attended a Christian music festival in Estes Park, Colorado and decided to take a class on songwriting being taught by Jimmy and Carol Owens. I settled into my chair near the back of the room with notepad ready.

Just as the class was about to start a bearded man slide in the chair next to mine….notepad at the ready. To my astonishment it was Don Francisco. (I recognized him from his album cover.)

Here was a singer/songwriter who had the number one hit in the nation…taking a class on songwriting! What did he think he needed to learn?

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Reflections on a Busy Writers Conference Season

The first six months of 2019 were an exciting whirlwind of writers-conference activity for this author and literary agent. I presented and met with writers at eight conferences from February through June—four I’d never attended before and four others I returned to. I delivered six keynote addresses and more than …

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That Conference Appointment

You snagged one of those valuable 15 minute appointments with an agent or an editor at the writers conference. Now what? What do you say? How do you say it? And what does that scowling person on the other side of the table want? What if you blow it?

Many excellent posts have been written on this topic (see Rachelle Gardner and Kate Schafer Testerman for example) but thought I would add my perspective as well.

What advice would you give to a beginning writer about attending a writers conference and meeting with an editor or an agent?

Go in with realistic expectations.

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