Meet Cynthia Simmons, Vice President of the Christian Authors Guild

Cynthia Simmons, Vice President of the Christian Authors Guild, is a dear friend and a dedicated writer determined to help others succeed. She spends a great deal of her time critiquing other people’s work, offering words of advice, and generating a buzz for other writers. Visit her personal website to listen to her podcast interviews of writers and other industry professionals.

Today she joins us to talk about the Christian Authors Guid upcoming writing conference, held September 8-11 in Norcross, Georgia. Attending writing conferences is one of the best ways to invest in your writing career. They offer excellent classes and help you connect with other authors and industry professionals.

Cynthia, tell us a little about the Christian Authors Guild. Is it for fiction or non-fiction authors or both?

Christian Authors Guild was founded in 2001 and serves the Metro Atlanta area. Our goal is to educate and equip the Christian writer. Our authors come from every genre.

What kind of services/benefits do you offer authors?

We offer support, education, and critique groups. Each fall we sponsor a writing conference with speakers, agents, and manuscript critiques. Every spring we have a Saturday class, called Coffee and Quill. Our regular meetings are twice monthly, and we have authors speak each month to describe their writing journey. CAG Spotlight Podcast highlights authors who live outside the state.

How do authors get involved with your organization?

We have an application process since our membership is limited to Bible believing Christians. Members pay yearly dues to cover our expenses.

Sounds reasonable. Can you tell us about your conference coming up? Where is it and is it too late for authors to sign up?

Catch the Wave Writing Conference is our 9th annual conference. We’ll be at Simpsonwood Conference Center in Norcross, GA. Day attendees can continue to sign up until the day before the conference. We have a couple of hotels who offered special rates, but a few spots are left at the conference center. Check our website for complete information: www.christianauthorsguild.org

What is your staff line-up for the conference?

We have two agents: Les Stobbe of Stobbe Literary Agency and Jennifer Hudson Taylor of Hartline Literary Agency. Our speakers are Lin Johnson of Write to Publish, New York Time best-selling author, Cec Murphey, Mary Lou Redding of Upper Room, Tiffany Colter, Writing Career Coach, and other local writers.

I knew my boss, Tiffany, would be there. She is a dynamic speaker with a wealth of industry information! And Mr. Stobbe is a wonderful man. I did a three-day feature on him for the Barn Door Book Loft a while back and he shared some great tips on increasing your reader base. Any classes you’re particularly excited about?

Our president, Eddie Snipes, will present two classes on using technology in writing. Eddie is always up to date on the latest and can answer the problems and questions writers encounter. We also have Steve Miller doing two classes on how to do online publicity.

What are a few of the benefits of attending conferences?

Conferences are great ways to network and build your skills. Editors like to publish people they know, and the best way to get to know people in the industry is to attend a conference. Two of our speakers are offering manuscript critiques. They will edit your manuscript and then meet with you at the conference to give you suggestions.

I couldn’t agree more. A while back, Tiffany Colter wrote an excellent article explaining the importance of connections. You can read it here. Writing conferences are definitely worth the time and money involved. Now…about your study. Can you tell us more about it?

The Bible study Struggles and Triumphs uses my book, which is a collection of stories of prominent women in history. For instance Kateryn Parr was the sixth wife of Henry the VIII. She tried to get him to completely reform the Church of England so that the Gospel could be preached in English churches. He became offended at her and planned to have her arrested. That story brings up the question a wife submitting to her husband, and we look at Bible passages to determine whether or not Kateryn stepped out of her proper role as a wife. The Bible study is unique in that I use the lives of real women.

How did you research your study?

I love to read diaries and letters from the past, and my stories are derived from the writings of women who actually lived. I called it historical fiction since I stepped inside their heads and imagined their thoughts and feelings. The stories raise issues, and I examine those issues in the light of Scripture.

As a homeschool mother and Bible teacher, I’ve been teaching for over twenty years. Before I married, I took a Bible study class from my home church, and I also learned how to study in the original languages from my husband who serves as an elder and Bible teacher. I love to take a passage of Scripture and make it come alive.  Pulling stories from the past to illustrate my points has been a great way to engage my students.

Wow, knowing how to study the original language used to write Scripture must have been very interesting. Hermeneutics was the best class I ever took in seminary. In fact, I found it so helpful, I took it twice, from two different seminaries. The knowledge gained from those classes help greatly when I write Christ to the World material.

What are the unique challenges to writing a Bible study versus writing a novel or freelance article?

Actually Bible study came first for me, so writing a Bible study is easier than writing articles or fiction. I studied fiction techniques so I could use them to teach Biblical truths.

How important is reader trust when writing study material and what are some ways writers can gain their readers’ trust?

I’d rather my readers not trust me, I’d rather them trust Scripture. The Apostle Paul praised the Bereans because they didn’t take his word for anything. Instead they searched the Scriptures to see if he was correct. That’s what I would encourage women to do, trust the Word of God.

Excellent advice, Cynthia! What do you hope readers will take away from your study? 

I heard someone describe Christianity in America as a thousand miles wide and one inch deep. That concerns me. My goal is to deepen Christian in their faith and teach them to think Biblically.

That is an interesting quote, and one I’d probably agree with to a great extent. Personally, I think this is largely solved when we live out what we learn in the study.

Cynthia, I’ve enjoyed talking with you. To my readers, visit the Christian Authors Guild website to find out more about their services and their upcoming conference. Stop by Cynthia’s website http://www.clsimmons.com/ and blog, www.clsimmons.com/blog, to learn more about her and her website.

Listen to a podcast or two, including an interview of yours truly, at The CAG Podcast is www.clsimmons.com/Podcast.

Cynthia joined Christian Authors Guild (CAG) in 2004. She has served as chaplain, conference director, president, and now, Vice President. CAG granted Cynthia lifetime membership in December 2009. Cynthia’s writing appeared in CAG publications, NATHHAN NEWS, Chattanooga Regional Historical Magazine, Georgia Right to Life Newsletter, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Catholic Exchange, and Christian Devotions.com. Her first book, Struggles and Triumphs, came out in 2008. Cynthia continues to serve in a leadership position at CAG. She teaches seminars, conducts podcast interviews, and makes videos.

And remember, all through August I’m giving away one free critique per post. To be entered into the drawing, simply comment on this post, tweet the link ,or fb share it. (Make sure to send me an email letting me know if you tweet or share this post so I can get you entered.)

Before you leave, I’d love to hear from you. Have you attended a writers conference before? If so, tell us about it. What was the greatest benefit of attending?

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About Jennifer Slattery

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery, also writing as Jen Pheobus, uses humor, grace, and truth to inspire God's children to live abundant, Christ-centered lives. She does content editing for Firefly, a southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and is a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com; Internet Cafe Devotions; Faith, Friends and Chocolate; and manages the social media for Takin’ it to the Streets, a ministry that serves Omaha’s working poor and homeless. She’s placed in numerous writing contests and her work has appeared in numerous compilations, magazines, and e-zines.

Posted on August 23, 2011, in community, Platform Building and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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