Interview by Alex Mellen (PWR class of 2014)
What was your first byline—the first piece of writing you had professionally published?
My first published manuscript outside of work was an article in Moody Monthly magazine.
How did you first get involved in the editing and publishing world?
Less than two years after college, I took a job as a Sunday school curriculum editor in a denominational house. After I left that job, I wanted to get published in other places, so I took the Write-to-Publish Workshop at Moody Bible Institute. That course led to networking with church-resource editors at Victor Books, who hired me to both write and edit on a freelance basis. From there, my name got passed along to other editors.
What motivated you to move toward teaching writing and helping writers with tools like the Write-to-Publish Conference and Christian Communicator?
One of my spiritual gifts is teaching. My degree in Christian education prepared me to teach well, and I enjoy doing it. So teaching writing was a natural progression as I moved into the publishing field. It’s a way to give back what other people invested in me, and it’s also a way to get well-written manuscripts for the magazine I edit.
How long have you been the director of Write-to-Publish?
I was assistant director for 10 years through when Moody Bible Institute owned it. I’ve owned it since 1993 and have been directing it since the following year.
How do you balance writing, editing, and running a conference as a full-time freelancer?
Ha! I can’t remember when my life had balance. I tend to overschedule since many jobs take more time than I estimate, so I’m almost always bumping against a deadline. Rather than working on several projects at once, I tend to work by the deadline, focusing on one job until it’s completed.
What are you looking for in terms of subject matter and writing style as you take pitches or manuscripts for Christian Communicator at the conference?
I’m especially looking for how-to articles on writing craft (except fiction) and growing a freelance career; reviews of recent, recommended books on writing, speaking, or publishing; and short, humorous anecdotes for “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Becoming a Communicator” column.
What else can writers ask you about in a one-on-one session?
I’m open to answering questions about writing, publishing, and freelancing. I can also give quick feedback on a nonfiction or curriculum manuscript, but please don’t bring poems.
One of your workshop topics at the conference will be review writing. What are some benefits to writing book reviews, especially for writers just getting started?
Reviews are a good way to hone your craft since you need to say a lot in a few words. You learn what’s important to focus on and to cut extraneous words. Plus reading the book increases your knowledge or gives you a “vacation” break from your schedule.
Name a book, nonfiction or fiction, that is not directly about writing but has taught you something about writing or editing.
Creative Bible Teaching by Lawrence Richards was a textbook in a college Christian education course. Although it focuses on teaching, it also provides the basis for writing curriculum, which is my specialty.
Lin Johnson will be teaching two sessions at the conference:
Writing Book Reviews
Finding Time to Write