Karen Burkett

Karen Burkett, founder and owner of Christian Editing Services, heads up the team of Christian book editors and designers. Karen is a published writer with more than fifteen years' experience. Karen has done a host of Christian editing and writing projects including books, articles, study guides, website features, daily devotions, brochures, radio messages, video scripts, television spots, grants, and more. She has written feature articles on assignment for several trade magazines.

Wife, mother, grandmother, writer, editor, Bible teacher, ministry director, retailer, pastoral assistant, motel operator, campaign worker, library assistant . . . these and many more words have described Karen at times throughout her life. She says, however, the description serving as an umbrella over all that is "follower of Jesus Christ."

Karen says, "Through the years and many learning experiences (both failures and victories), I have come to realize the one real focus of my life must be to accomplish the purpose of the journey God has for me. Only He knows that complete purpose. My job is to trust Him day by day to help me stay on His path."


Lois Lofton, Marketing Coach

Lois Lofton, Marketing Coach. Lois received her BA in Marketing from West Chester University in 1987. She soon left the business world to give her time and talents as an AGWM career missionary to the Czech Republic. It was there she learned to value flexibility, communication, relationship-building, and adaptability - all necessary elements for thriving in today's business environment. Her love for God and His people is her motivation to serve others in their God-given calling. Lois wants to help Christian authors get their books out there where God can use them to make a difference in the lives of people. From a marketing standpoint, she sees her efforts best described as "matching clients with their audience." Read more about our coaching services.

Along with serving on our CES team, Lois provides business owners and directors affordable access to a wide variety of services at LoisLofton.com. Services include administrative support, creative content management, communication support, event planning, social media management, and special projects. 

Writers and Editors

Dixie Phillips

Dixie Phillips, CES Editor and Writer,
is an award-winning children's author who began writing seasonal plays for children in 1987. These delightful programs have been published by Abingdon Press, Standard Publishing, Eldridge Publishing, Evangelizing Today's Child, and Gospel Publishing House. Dixie's children's book, Stubby's Destiny, was awarded the 2008 Best Children's Animal Story by Books and Authors and One Noble Journey received an award from The Children and Teens Book Connection, Top 10 Favorite Books of 2009 for Kids. In 2011 Angel Eyes won the Global E-book Award in the Children's Christian category and One Noble Journey was a finalist in the Global E-book Award Faith category.

Read about Dixie's books and musicals.

For several years, Dixie wrote one of our CES blogs: From the Heart of Dixie. Because of so many family and ministry commitments, she is no long posting, but if you will browse through her archives you will be blessed!

Although Dixie has been writing children's books for years, she also has a passion for writing God's truths for adults and is a contributor to Guideposts. She has contributed to an award-winning devotional book and has been the ghostwriter of books on marriage, health, poetry, and personal testimonies. Thomas Nelson has recently accepted a story Dixie wrote about her father-in-law's P.O.W. experience during World War II. They will be including it in God Makes Lemonade, scheduled for release around Mother's Day 2013.

Dixie also writes song lyrics. Judy Nelon, a southern gospel icon, says this: "My friend, Dixie Phillips, is an accomplished author who uses her amazing communication skills to deliver the message of Christ. Dixie's writing ministry has impacted children, adults, small and large churches. I was not surprised when Dixie, a pastor's wife and singer, combined her writing skills with another talented pastor's wife, her sister-in-law Sharon Phillips, to pen award winning songs."

Dixie is a pastor's wife of more than thirty years. She and her husband, Paul, have four married children, three grandsons and a granddaughter. They have served the Gospel Lighthouse Church in Floyd, Iowa, for thirty-one years years.

Stephanie Nickel

Stephanie Nickel, CES Editor and Writing Coach, is a wife of over thirty years and mother of three grown children. She loves the Lord, her family and friends. It is her desire to honor Him through her writing and editing, as well as through all of her other endeavors.

In addition to editing and writing for CES clients, Stephanie blogs at Steph Nickel's Eclectic Interests. Her writing has been published in magazines, her local newspaper, and a collection of devotionals. Stephanie is awaiting the publication of her first book, due out early this year (2014). 

 She has long-term dreams of writing Christian fiction for adults and children's picture books.

Visit Stephanie's Christian Editing Services blog to find a weekly list of writing prompts: Monday Motivation.

Roger Simmons

Roger Simmons
, CES Editor, has been a follower of Jesus Christ for more than fifty years. He has worked with words for many of those years, building on a long teaching career that has spanned diverse age groups—from second graders to adults. In the field of Christian publishing, Roger has done copyediting, proofreading, and book rewriting. He has transcribed messages and converted them into books. In addition, he has co-written books and has written pamphlets, home-school units, and magazine articles.

Roger and his wife, Linda, have lived in California, Kentucky, and Colombia, South America, among other locales. They currently reside in northern Wisconsin. They have three grown children, each serving the Lord, and six grandchildren.

Jen Miller

Jen Miller, CES Content Editor and Critique Specialist, 
is a published author, seasoned editor, and writer. She also serves as a mentor for Christian writers and as an ordained chaplain-minister dedicated to women. Most critically, Jen has a passion for her family, Jesus Christ, and sharing the truths of God's Word.

Jen began writing seriously in 1978 and has been honing this passion ever since. In the 1990s she began accepting article editing and other contract writing work, including music and lyrics. She has written numerous praise and worship songs, articles published in a wide variety of Christian publications (including Guidepost’s Angels on Earth magazine), and poetry. Jen has been a contributing writer for The Family Connection magazine and managing editor for The Trumpet. Since 2001 she has also used her talents as a web developer and graphic designer. In 2008, Jen’s autobiographical novel, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep: The Story of Sara, was published.

Jen is the founder and chairman of The Sara Ministry, a non-profit, non-denominational ministry dedicated to women. In 2010 she founded Moms of Marines Support (M.O.M.S.).

Jen resides in the Midwest with her husband of over 20 years. She is the mother of a U.S. Marine and his much younger sister.

Bethany McShurley

Bethany McShurley, CES Content Editor and Critique Specialist, is a developmental and content editor who has worked on projects for noted authors Randy Alcorn, Henry Blackaby, and Lisa Whelchel. With a degree in English Education and a minor in Bible, Bethany has actively served both traditional and Christian indie [independent] publishers for over a decade. Faith centered biographies and apologetics resources are among her favorite projects. Bethany also writes Christian curriculum, church productions, and leader guides. Her work is featured in Vicki Courtney's Five Conversations You Must Have with Your Son, Jennifer Rothschild's Missing Pieces: Real Hope When Life Doesn't Make Sense, and Beth Moore's James: Mercy Triumphs.

Bethany is an encourager at heart. Whether she is helping authors perfect their messages prior to print or condensing inspirational trade books into workbook format, she uses her eye for detail to strengthen discipleship efforts and to spread the message that a relationship with Jesus can radically transform every aspect of life.

Today she resides in Tennessee with her husband, Jon, and two sons, Aidan and Tristan. At lunchtime she can often be found in her favorite tearoom where she enjoys quiche, scones, and fruit tea.

Katie Rodgers Boxeth

Katie Rodgers Boxeth, CES Content Editor,
holds a Master of Divinity from George Fox Evangelical Seminary, and a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from Lewis and Clark College. She served as a children’s pastor in Portland, Oregon for seven years. With an eye for detail and an ear for flow, Katie enjoys polishing the written word until it gleams.

Her love of writing began early in life, when many of her short poems were published in small poetry journals. Recently, the bulk of her writing has been either academic, as she graduated GFES in May 2011, or utilitarian, as she serves the staff of her church in writing job descriptions, policy manuals, emergency protocol, etc. However, she has plans to return to creative writing when the bug gives her the bite. Currently, the only bite she’s getting is from her little teething daughter! Allie is a joy and a delight and keeps things lively for Katie and daddy, Tim.

Katie specializes in editing for writers who have theological content to communicate. Her masters degree enables her to not only hone your words to get at the heart of your message, but to check for consistency and historical continuity. Bringing a work from concept to finished masterpiece is a journey—Katie looks forward to traveling with you!

Tammy Webb-Witholt

Tammy L. Webb-Witholt, CES Content Editor and Screenplay Writerhas written discipleship material, plays, and most recently a memoir with her mother: A Harvest of Joy. The book tells the story of her mother’s life as a missionary. Tammy has worked in the world of ministry and business. Her passion is to communicate through creative storytelling the redeeming message of Jesus Christ. She believes writing for the glory of God is a divine call. She desires to fulfill this call personally and to help others develop the written stories or teachings God has entrusted to them. She specializes in writing and editing screenplays.

Zillah Williams

Zillah Williams, CES Proofreader and Line Editor, was born in England and emigrated with her parents to Sydney, Australia in her early teens. A writer, proofreader and copy editor, her early background was as a librarian. Zillah’s love of editing began when she was involved with her husband’s secretarial business in Sydney. She finds immense satisfaction in helping authors with their manuscripts—checking for typos, checking facts, and helping authors achieve the best possible outcome for their work.

Zillah has written articles for Christian magazines, five novels for young adults, and a romance novel. She adds, “I now help my husband with his work of preparing audio material for a Christian program on 1 RPH, Canberra’s radio station for people with print disabilities, and for Christian Blind Mission, whose Australian headquarters are in Melbourne, Victoria.”

She lives in Canberra, Australia’s capital city.

Audrey Dorsch, CES Line Editor, Proofreader, and Indexer, has more than 30 years’ experience, both in-house and self-employed.

Audrey is the former managing editor of Canada’s Faith Today magazine. She started her career in newspaper journalism, then edited the Canadian constituency magazine for Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Self-employed since 1998, Audrey has clients in Christian publishing, trade publishing, non-profit organizations, and educational publishing.

She has directed or taught at dozens of writers’ conferences (including Mount Hermon, Biola, and Write!Canada, among others) and coordinated a communications program at Tyndale College.

Some of the more than 250 books she has worked on have won awards, including the 2001 Christy Award. In 1999 Faith Today honored Audrey with the Leslie K. Tarr award in recognition of “outstanding contribution to Christian writing and publishing in Canada.”

Jarl Waggoner, Editor

Jarl Waggoner, CES Editor and Writer, has worked in Christian publishing for more than twenty-seven years as a copy editor and proofreader. As a graduate of Grace Theological Seminary, his work has focused primarily on academic and professional books in theology, biblical studies, and Christian ministry by such authors as John Piper, John Phillips, Darrell Bock, Grant Osborne, John Whitcomb, Andreas Kostenberger, Karen Jobes, and David Alan Black. However, he also has edited Sunday school curriculum for all ages, self-published books and booklets, and even a doctoral dissertation. He currently serves as managing editor of the Creation Research Society Quarterly.

In addition to being an editor, Jarl has been an associate pastor and a visiting instructor at a Bible college. His published works include magazine articles, Sunday school lessons, and book and movie reviews, as well as the book Prophets for Our Time: An Exposition of Obadiah and Jonah.

Kevin McNelly

Kevin McNelly, Grant Writer and Researcher. Kevin comes to our team with a rich history of working in Corporate America and with Christian non-profits.  His early career was spent in the military and as a senior auditor with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST).  His fascination with overseas missions work was fostered when his employment in Chattanooga allowed him to use his vacation time for short-term missions work in Europe and Southeast Asia.

After ten years with BCBST, he answered the call to leave the corporate setting and move to the Philippines to lead a non-profit in developing a coalition of ministries to impact the northern islands.  At its peak, the ministry had 60 ministries working together to spread the gospel.

Upon returning to the U.S., Kevin developed a new ministry in his local congregation to impact their urban and global outreaches.  His ability to build cooperative efforts resulted in the partnership of 60 churches blessing every school in the county school system.  His understanding of non-profits, their needs and processes, empowered numerous agencies to impact cultures from China to Chattanooga.

All in all, Kevin has been the Executive Director of three non-profit ministries and has served as a trustee on numerous non-profit boards impacting ministry work in Thailand, China, Philippines, Bali, Chattanooga, and Indiana.  Each assignment built a depth of understanding for agency development and the expectations and steps that lead to the ‘Big Ask.’

Kevin and his wife, Gina, live in Chattanooga.  They have three children – a son living in Scotland as a Missionary, a son at Lee University, and a five-year-old-daughter adopted from China.

Kate Hinke, CES Grant Writer, Researcher, and Line Editor, has almost four decades of experience in research, writing, and editing, beginning with stints as Associate Editor of World Vision and Inspiration magazines. She has edited books (fiction and non-fiction), magazine articles, technical journal articles, and corporate newsletters, with a special interest in grant writing and non-profit organizational communications. God has also given her a special heart for editing manuscripts by non-native-English speakers, particularly authors from developing countries. 

Kate also does pro bono grant writing for PEER Servants, a non-profit organization that partners with indigenous Christian microfinance institutions in developing nations. She’s also a volunteer editor and grant writer for Agape Way, a Christian organization that provides educational assistance for poor children in China. Kate has served as a cross-cultural consultant and often lectures on international business etiquette, cross-cultural communications, and leadership development. She has lectured at the University of Business and Economics in Beijing.

Kate has a B. A. in English, French, and history, as well as an M.B.A. in Economic Development from Eastern University, outside Philadelphia. She and her husband of 41 years have been in ministry to international students and visiting scholars for 28 years. They currently live in San Jose, California. They have one adult daughter and the cutest toddler grandson on the planet—who sadly live 2,251 miles away. 

Donna Petersen, CES Grant Writer, Researcher, and Line Editor, has loved reading and writing since childhood, when her dad taught her to read phonetically from the newspaper.  She later wrote and illustrated a simple book about her little friend Jill.  “Jill Will” never made it to a publisher, but was a treasured keepsake.  In junior high, Donna and friends used to write silly stories just for fun.  So when Donna entered Iowa State University for Journalism and Mass Communications, it was no surprise.

And where did her Journalism degree and love of writing go?  All over the place!

From helping friends write their resumes or Christian testimonies to writing and co-editing a monthly evangelistic/business newsletter, the writing never stopped.  While working in Adult Ed, Donna wrote many of her own teaching materials and post-employment support materials, as well as press releases and other promotional materials for the department.  Donna also wrote often for her churches in NY and IA.  She researched low-cost marketing options and created an array of promotional materials including press releases, PSAs, display ads, door hangers, direct-mail, tri-fold brochures, posters and flyers. She also helped plan, implement, and maintain new websites for both congregations. 

In the past several years, Donna has expanded her love of research, writing, and benevolence by delving into grant research and writing.  After online training in Grant Proposal/Grant-Writing Campaigns by nationally known expert Linda Vallejo, Donna became involved in researching and writing grant proposals to help in an anti-bullying campaign in their local school district.  She has also researched and written grant proposals for ASPIRE, a local therapeutic horseback riding program, and has done similar work for New Life School, a Christian school for disabled children in Guatemala.

After 23 years in New York State, Donna now resides in Denver, IA with her husband Mark of 30 years, and their two young adult daughters.

Robyn Burwell, CES Editor, Writing Coach, and Critique Specialist, is experienced in publication management, editing, and proofreading. She earned a bachelor’s in biblical text and a master’s in English literature from Abilene Christian University (ACU), then did continued course work in Christian ministry. With a fervor for the written word and a desire to teach, she became an English professor at ACU, teaching composition, rhetoric, and literature. 

Robyn later became the Managing Editor at ACU Press & Leafwood Publishers. In 2010, she earned her certificate in copy editing from the University of California, San Diego. Robyn writes, “At Leafwood, I had the opportunity to assist authors in every aspect of their writing. Such phenomenal people with such unique life stories. And what a pleasure it has been working with them all.”

She continues, “Now, with three children in school—plays and playtime, homework and life lessons—I come to freelance editing and proofreading in order to be available for my children as they learn who they will become. And as a freelance editor, I can work on a more individual level with authors from every background, aiding in the coming together of gifted creativity, life experience, and the written word. What a gift God gives us in the written word."

Terri Hall

Terri Hall, CES Proofreader,
 graduated from the College of William & Mary with a bachelor’s degree in math, minoring in French, and pursued graduate studies in scriptwriting at Regent University in Virginia Beach.

Terri has worked as a proofreader, data analyst, quality assurance analyst, and programmer at a publishing company that produces alumni directories. She has done some independent work editing books for acquaintances.

Terri understands and takes seriously the honor and responsibility of proofreading another writer’s work. She will treat you with the grace, courtesy, and honesty she prays for when someone is reviewing her work.

Terri is a small group leader at one of the largest Coffee Break Bible studies. She was instrumental in starting prayer meetings at Coffee Break as well as at her home church. She lives in the Central Valley of California and sings soprano in her church choir.

Phil Wade

Phil Wade, CES Editor and Writer, has been a creative writer all of his adult life. He graduated with an English B.A. from Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, and briefly studied children’s literature before employing his talents in web and graphic design. Since 2001, he has edited many theological articles, study books, and scripts for smoother reading. In 2012, he led the editorial revisions to Operation Timothy, an internationally used set of workbooks for discipleship.

Phil is a sympathetic editor who tries to let another writer’s voice be heard. He would love to work with new Christian writers of intelligent fiction to help them publish strong, creative stories of God’s work among men. He blogs at Brandywinebooks.net and dabbles in devotional writing.

Phil is married to his best friend, Sarah, and has four daughters. They live in the greater Chattanooga area.

Lisa Groves

Lisa Groves, CES Editor, is an independent missionary currently living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her passion for writing began after she took an English composition course in her sophomore year at university. She says that is actually when she learned how to write something worth reading! She has authored three published books in Portuguese: a devotional that encourages young people to study the Bible; a textbook on evangelism, cross-cultural missions, and discipleship; and a study on sexual abstinence outside marriage.

After two short-term trips to Bolivia while attending Talbot School of Theology, Lisa accepted God's call to career missions and was assigned to Brazil with OC International, Inc. (Sepal, in Brazil) from 1984 until 2008. Her ministry encompassed church leadership training and discipleship, Bible institute teaching, conference and seminar speaking, and the occasional article writing for local Christian magazines.

From 2003 until 2012, Lisa ministered in jungle communities of African descendants of slaves called quilombos in the state of Sao Paulo. Her activities involved coordinating visits by medical and short-term missionary teams, leadership training, Bible studies, and the distribution of food and clothing. At present, she still coordinates short-term missions teams to the area at least once a year. She is also an English as a second language teacher in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Lisa, known by her family and friends as an easy-going, fun-loving person, as well as counselor, has a passion to equip people to help them maximize their God-given calling. Teaching English as a second language in Brazil is part of this process.

Born in Colorado Springs and raised in Washington state and British Columbia, Canada, Lisa holds U.S. and Canadian citizenship. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of British Columbia (1975), Vancouver, Canada, and a M.A.C.E. in Christian Education from Talbot School of Theology (1980), La Mirada, California.


Shannon Herring

Shannon Herring has been doing Christian graphic design work for more than 13 years and has been with Christian Editing Services since its beginnings. She enjoys working closely with clients to get a feel for their personality and projects and strives to create an end product that depicts both. In addition to book formatting services and book cover design, Shannon does Christian web design and designs logos, business cards, stationery, brochures, newspaper ads, signs, banners, and other promotional material.

"I do freelance so that I can still be an involved mother of a fabulous 8-year-old little girl and wife of an awesome husband of 14 years," says Shannon. "I am amazed every day that the Lord opened this door in my life and still allows me to have the best of both worlds . . . staying home for my family and doing a job I love that advances God's kingdom."

Kimberly Merritt, CES Children’s Book Illustrator, has always loved drawing. She majored in art in high school and took several classes in college. Her favorite subject matter has always been people, especially children at play. Kimberly says, “I love working on Christian children’s books because of the many fun scenes of children and animals having adventures. I have illustrated for self-publishing authors and enjoy the process of making their story come to life with color and faces and action. I often pray for my authors, as I paint, and for those who may read their books.” We found Kimberly when one of our clients told us how thrilled she was with the illustrations she was doing for her children’s book.

Kimberly became a Christian when she was twenty-eight, and four years later her husband heard and responded to the call to pastoral ministry. She has served beside him as a pastor’s wife for since 1997. God blessed them with four children, three now grown and off to college. Kimberly is still homeschooling the youngest.

Currently, Kimberly serves in various children’s ministries at the two small Bible churches her husband pastors in New Hampshire. Kimberly notes, “Excitingly, one of the ways the Lord has provided for us has been through my children’s book illustration work. The Lord has been so precious to me through the seasons of life. I want to bring Him glory with every page of illustration.”

Sarah Nickel

Sarah Nickel, CES Children’s Book Illustratorgrew up in a Christian home and has gone to children's, youth, and even adult events over the years. She wants to use the gifts the Lord bestowed on her for His glory.

Sarah was always an artistic child. When she reached the age of fourteen, she started to play with the idea of becoming a professional and began taking her artistic studies more seriously. Now God has blessed her hard work; her illustrations appear in three picture books.

She is continuing her studies and growing as an artist . . . and as a Christian.