Posts Tagged: Christian Writers Conference

Get Ready for That Appointment

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by Susan K. Stewart

I remember my first appointment with an editor at a writers’ conference. I thought I had really blown it … well, alright, I did blow it. I was late. I wrote down the wrong time. The very gracious editor took a few minutes with me when he had a free moment and did ask for a full proposal.

I tell you my little tale as an example of what not to do. And, also, as an encouragement to relax. It’s not as hard as it may sound and editors aren’t scary. Although making that first appointment may be.

As I look back to that first appointment more than a decade ago, I wish I had known what was expected of me and the person on the other side of the table. I didn’t even know what an elevator speech was, let alone a one-sheet. I anticipated a gruff old man ready to reject anything put in front of him. A throwback to my first days working at a daily newspaper, I guess.

If this is the first time you’re meeting with an editor or agent at a conference. Take heart. The person on the other side of the table is just that … a person. The fact is we are looking for new material to recommend to our companies. Why else would we be there? Most editors and agents want to say “yes.”

Remember also, the person you are meeting with is a human being. We want to meet you and get to know you. Stuff happens. Editors and agents get tired, planes are delayed, or we worry about our loved ones at home. We’re just like you.

Like a scout, you can be prepared. Here are few other things you can do make your appointment go a little smoother.

Once you’ve narrowed the possibilities down, go to the publisher’s or agents’ website. Look at their style sheet and other information. Check the books and authors the company has published or represents. This will help you know if your project is a good fit.

Nearly all of the faculty members are available when not speaking to meet with attendees on their topics. Want to know more details of blogs? Have a specific question about accounting? Are you confused about the Oxford comma? One of the faculty members will be able to answer the question. You can read about faculty members and their specialties here.

Not sure if a specific publisher or agent is right for you? Have a meal with them. Faculty members have assigned tables for lunch and dinner. Look for that editor, agent, or faculty member you might want to meet. This is a good time to have that elevator speech ready. It’s also a good time to listen. So much can be learned during a meal.

Faculty members will be taking appointments at the Meet and Greet on Thursday, March 22 at 3:00 p.m. in the Field House. Hors d’oeuvres and mocktails will be served. You won’t want to miss this fun social time.

Relax and get ready for your conference appointments by preparing before you get there. And double check that time.


Also, read Mary DeMuth’s guide, “10 Ways to Be Awkward at a Writer’s Conference.

Susan Stewart

Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits nonfiction. She is known for practical solutions to real-world situations. Susan is senior nonfiction editor with Elk Lake Publishing and blog content manager for the Mount Hermon Writers Conference blog. She has published three books, including the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers: Convert Your Word File to Kindle. Susan teaches writing and editing workshops online and in person. She lives in central Texas with her husband, Bob, three dogs, three cats, nine chickens, and a donkey. The Stewarts have three children and five grandchildren. You can read more of Susan’s practical solutions at

Susan will be teaching “Practical Blogs for Writers” (Sunday, 1:45 p.m.) and “Preparing and Formatting E-books” (Monday, 3:15 p.m.).

Writing on the Deepest Places

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lady walking in fall leaves

by Kelly Harrel

Last year I had the honor of teaching for the first time at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. One of the workshops I led was “Writing in the Deep Places.” I felt I had much to contribute to this topic since through the years I have battled with physical pain, depression, even brain trauma. Rather than allowing it to debilitate me, I’ve grown through it and even used these difficult experiences in my writing. When I shared last year on that topic, I felt like I had arrived. Like I had made it through with wisdom to share. In my own mind, I had conquered the deep places. Little did I know that this year God would teach me how to write in the deepest places.

The text came from my best friend on March 1, 2017.

I found a lump. Please pray.

For twelve years we have done life together. Our husbands both work nights, weekends, and holidays. Since we only live five minutes away from each other, we basically raised our kids together. We homeschooled together, we worked together at the same charter school, and led Bible studies together. Yes, we have done life together. And now, we’re doing death together.

It’s not that we didn’t pray. I’ve uttered the same prayer almost every day for a year. Lord, heal her. We absolutely believed He could heal her. In fact, after her double mastectomy, we thought the cancer was gone. She had never felt better. In July we toasted to my birthday and her health. Less than two months later the cancer had spread to her liver, lungs, and spine. The four months of chemo that followed did nothing. And now, she’s at home on hospice. Waiting for God to take her home.

The past twelve months have been full of trials and hardships. I stopped asking “What’s next God?” when my husband had a heart attack in September two days after my best friend got out of the hospital. Then my son totaled his car in November (praise God he wasn’t hurt) and I ended up with shingles for the second time in my life. Yeah, I don’t ask that question anymore because honestly, I’m afraid of what might come my way.

I have many reasons NOT to write. Truly, I feel as if my life is falling apart and at times feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m also working more than full time at my teaching job. But God has taught me that in this deepest place I NEED to write. At first, I thought it was my escape. My way of leaving the troubles of this life behind. I crave that hour or two of the day when I cease to be wife, mom, teacher, friend and can be the instrument through which God delivers his next story. Though in a way it is an escape, I realize now it’s more. Writing is how God made me express my emotions. And my emotions are what bring my characters to life. The story I’m writing now is not one of someone struggling with cancer, but of someone struggling with God. A teenage boy who doesn’t understand why his prayers go unanswered, why things can go the way he wants. At night when I turn off my light, I feel the struggle.

God, why won’t you heal her? We were supposed to raise our kids together, spoil our grandkids, and grow old together. It shouldn’t be this way…

I get the struggle. I’ve felt the emotions. I’ve cried the bitter tears. And even though everyone would understand if I just didn’t write in this season, God wants me to. He made me to tell stories. Writing in the deepest places is more about obedience than productivity.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, except that I will write.  In a week I’ll be packing my bags to go to Mount Hermon. My slides are ready for my workshops, I have Kleenex and chocolate, but I also feel like a wreck. I’m trusting God to carry me through as he has the past twelve months. Life is hard, without a doubt. But God is good even when we don’t understand. And when you continue to use the gift he has given you in the deepest places, he will bless your efforts. I do believe this will be my best series yet, I just need to do my part and trust the Lord to do his.

Don’t worry about having it all together when you go to #MHWriters18, my friends. None of us have it all together. What matters is that we come together to encourage, inspire, and lift one another up. I am looking forward to seeing you on the mountain.


Kelly will be teaching “Authors Don’t Preach–But Their Characters Might” and “Making Your Dreams Come True … Without Quitting Your Day Job” at Mount Hermon Writers Conference. It’s not too late to register. Join Kelly at #MHWriters18.

kelly harrell

Kelly Harrel writes inspirational fiction and Christian romance that deal with real-life struggles in the light of God’s love and grace. Passionate to inspire others into a deeper faith, she enjoys speaking at women’s events, writers conferences, and to audiences of all genders and ages about overcoming depression and anxiety. After several decades in education, publishing six novels, and leading a multigenerational women’s ministry, Kelly still claims that her biggest accomplishment is homeschooling her children. She resides in Southern California with her husband, two teens, and a desert tortoise named George.

Get Your Professional Head Shot

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photographer's camera

With the ease of taking a selfie and relatively inexpensive photo editing software, why pay a professional photographer for a headshot? Maybe your cousin is a hobby photographer and will be happy to take some photos in your living room for you.

Your headshot is your introduction to your audience, and you want to put your best face forward. Just as they judge your book by the cover, they may judge you by your photo. Featured on business cards, manuscripts, your blog, and other media, a high-quality, professional headshot shows readers, agents, publishers, and others that you take your career seriously. A professional photographer will help you look your best when you meet your audience.

Plus, if you haven’t updated your headshot recently, your photo may reflect how you think you look but not how you appear to others.

Not sure whether you need a professional headshot. Or what a professional headshot can do for you. Check out this article “Why Do You Need A Professional Headshot?

Mount Hermon has a team of professional photographers offering a great deal on author head shots this year. Here’s what Angela Breidenbach, president of Christian Authors Network, said about her photo shoot:

I am thrilled with both the result and the variety of photos taken for my headshot at Mount Hermon during the Christian writer’s conference! I use these photos for branding on my podcast, book covers, business cards, blog tours, website, and all my social media bios. Love, love, love how professional and versatile the experience and the photos have been for me.

This year professional product video opportunity has been added. Videos often increase the time a visitor spends on your website and it will be more likely to show up first in a Google search. You can schedule a 60-minute session to record a three- to five-minute promotional video. Like the photo session, Mount Hermon attendees receive a special package price. If you’re unsure about having a promotional video, here’s an article to help make the decision “7 Reasons Why Writers To Start Using Video For Book Promotion.”

Sign up for both photo session and video session will be available at the Meet and Greet, Friday, March 23 at 3 p.m.

Check out the details for getting your own photo and video shoot at Mount Hermon 2017! (Scroll to the bottom of the page for photo session tips.)

Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Opportunity

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a promise of rain book

by John Vonhof
Manuscript Retrieval Coordinator

One of the benefits of attending the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference is the opportunity to submit manuscripts for review by faculty. You may submit two manuscripts, pre-conference, by following the guidelines on the conference website. In this blog post, I’ll summarize the process.

Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Guidelines

You have several options. You can request an editorial review (not a critique) by an editor or agent as a possible match for their needs or you can request a critique by a professional writer. You may submit one or two manuscripts – one for a review and one for a critique, or both for one or the other. Not sure which to do? Here’s help.

  • Critique – If you primarily want an honest evaluation of your writing, its marketability, and to learn how you can sharpen your writing. You may receive a line-by-line critique of three to five pages, some general editorial pointers, and sometimes direction on places where you might submit the manuscript for publication.
  • Editorial Review – If you want to learn if a publishing house or magazine would be interested in publishing your manuscript or if an agent might like to represent you, request an editorial review.
  • A manuscript for pre-submission consists of:
    • One article or short story (1800 word maximum)
    • One article query, with outline (3 pages maximum)
    • One book proposal. Please do not send complete books.
    • Up to three devotionals or fillers (250–400 words each, maximum)
    • No more than three poems (24-line maximum each)
    • Manuscripts are limited to 10 pages plus the other components (a cover or query letter, a book proposal, a 1 or 2-page outline for nonfiction or synopses for fiction, etc.).

    Complete details are on the conference website. Here’s a direct link to the page with submission guidelines. It’s important to read the instructions for submitting manuscripts.

    • Manuscripts should be typed, with your name on each page.
    • Your manuscript should be double-spaced and single-sided. Other parts of your of your submission package may be single-spaced.
    • Manuscripts must be original (your work) and unpublished.
    • The Pre-conference Manuscript Submission Form must accompany your package.
    • Submissions must be received by Monday, March 19.

    What to Include

    It’s helpful to understand the different parts of what you may submit. Use this link to learn about query letters, book proposals, and the fiction and nonfiction components of each.

    If you are unsure how to write a query letter or book proposal, you are encouraged to check out any of the books available about proposals. My favorite book is Ryan G. Van Cleave’s The Weekend Book Proposal: How to Write a Winning Proposal in 48 Hours and Sell Your Book. It includes fiction and nonfiction proposal examples, a chapter on query letters, and lots of tips on the different components of a successful proposal. You can also search “query letters” and “book proposals” on the internet to see examples.

    Make sure whatever you submit is your best work. Double-check everything for spelling and grammatical errors. If you are part of a critique group, have them review your proposal and manuscript.

    Choosing Whom to Review or Critique Your Manuscripts

    The Editorial Needs webpage is an excellent resource to help you choose whom to send your submissions to. Use this list to learn what the editors and agents are looking for. For critiques, use the Freelance Specialty information to learn how they can help and the team member page to see who is on the team. Once the conference has started, the Manuscript Retrieval Team can help you think about faculty to approach about your manuscript.

    Digital Pre-Conference Manuscript Submissions

    For the second year, digital submissions will be accepted. Thirteen faculty members have agreed to look at digital submissions:

    • Dawn Anderson (editorial review Kregel Publications)
    • Karen Ball (critiques as a freelancer)
    • Jessica Barnes (editorial reviews for Bethany House Publishers)
    • Adria Goetz (editorial review Martin Literary Management)
    • Janet Grant (editorial review Books and Such Literary)
    • Jeanette Hanscome (critiques as a freelancer)
    • Jan Kern (critiques as a freelancer)
    • Christi McGuire (critiques as a freelancer)
    • Cynthia Ruchti (editorial review Books and Such Literary)
    • Mick Silva (critiques as a freelancer)
    • Susan K. Stewart (editorial reviews for Elk Lake Publishing)
    • Julie Williams (critiques as a freelancer)
    • Kathy Carlton Willis (critiques as a freelancer)

    If you wish to submit to any of these faculty members, please send your submission in a Word file to me at Your submissions must conform to the same guidelines as the print submissions. Include all of your submission in one file. Have each item start on a new page in the file. If you include a query letter or book proposal, please have them at the front of the file. Please name your file like this: NAME-Title.doc. Submissions must be received by Monday, March 19.

    Your submission will be emailed before the conference starts to whomever of the thirteen you designate. You will receive your file and comments back in digital form too, so please bring a USB thumb drive.

    Packaging and Sending Your Manuscripts

    The Advance Manuscript Guidelines page has detailed information on submissions and the Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Form that you need to print and fill out. It needs to be sent with your manuscripts. For each manuscript submitted, you need to fill in your: name, title of manuscript, email, cell number, circle the type of manuscript, check either critique or editorial review and by whom, and add any comments. Make sure you read and follow the instructions on how to package and send your manuscripts. Be sure to check the appropriate box on the manuscript submission form—Critique by a Published Author or an Editorial Review.

    Each manuscript must be in a 9×12 manila envelope with the submission form taped to the top front side. Do not seal the envelope. If the envelope has a metal clasp, please tape over it and do not use it. Manuscript pages should not be stapled, clipped, or bound.

    Make sure you do not send your only copies of your manuscript. Either print an extra copy and bring it in a folder or bring your files on a USB thumb drive. The Hospitality Center can make copies from either source as needed for a nominal fee.

    If you hope to submit manuscripts to additional faculty at the conference, please bring a few extra 9×12 manila envelopes.

    Deadline for Pre-Conference Submissions

    All pre-conference submissions must be received at the conference center by Monday, March 19. Make sure your manuscripts are mailed early enough to make the deadline.

    When You’ll Get Your Manuscripts Back

    Saturday after lunch is the first opportunity to pick-up any manuscripts the faculty has returned. Others are returned after that, depending on faculty’s timing. Depending on what you submitted, and to whom, there will be a form inside the envelope providing feedback on your submission, whether the faculty member wishes to meet with you, or suggestions on other places to submit.

    Submissions After the Conference has Started

    Once the conference has started, you may talk to a faculty member who asks to see your manuscript. Request a signed form from the faculty member and process your manuscript through the Manuscript Retrieval system in the Hospitality Center. The Manuscript Retrieval Team will get the manuscript to the faculty member. The faculty’s first obligation is to those who submitted pre-conference submissions.

    All manuscripts must go through the Manuscript Retrieval System for tracking. Please do not hand your manuscript to an editor for review. Likewise, do not allow an editor to hand you your manuscript if it has not been checked back in through the system.

    The Manuscript Retrieval Team

    The Manuscript Retrieval Team, located in the Hospitality Center, is eager to help you with your manuscript questions. The team can look over your manuscript, query letter and book proposal, help you practice your pitch, and help with ideas on the faculty member who you might talk to about your manuscript. We’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the manuscript process.

Dream Bigger Dreams

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the word dream with pencil

by Allen Arnold

The world can be hard on our dreams. What once seemed so likely, now feels partial at best. Our best -laid plans laid to rest, sacrificed for other more pressing needs.

It feels like such loss. Not just a loss of our dreams, but also of hope and heart.

I mentor a wide spectrum of writers. Some are at the start of their calling, expectant at all that awaits them. But for others, their attempts at story have been met with heartache and disillusionment. Why would I have this creative desire if this is all there is? Maybe it’s time to give up.

Perhaps you find yourself there, wondering if it’s time to move on or radically downsize your dreams.

I have much better advice.

It’s actually time to dream bigger dreams.

That may feel counter-intuitive or even cruel, especially if your earlier dreams still haven’t materialized.

But it’s actually the kindest advice I know. Because I don’t just want you to dream bigger, I want you to dream differently.

I want you to dream with God this time. Which is the opposite of asking God to come alongside your dreams and make them happen?

We were never meant to dream alone. When we do, we give our dreams wings way too small for the places God longs to take us.

In my book The Story of With, I describe it this way.

When we only consider the options we know are possible, we miss the higher options of God. Yet as a good Father, he invites his children into a future that surpasses human limitations or expectations. Where we see three possible options, God sees endless possibilities. But he will leave us with our three if we refuse to invite him into the process. Thankfully, he stands ready to share his higher options once we’re ready to release our best options.

Whatever we can accomplish purely in our own strength means those dreams were way too small. Pursue instead the dreams God whispers to you, the ones so big they can only be achieved together…with him.

If you’re ready to start dreaming those bigger dreams, a great place to start is with this simple yet profound question: Father, what are your dreams for me – the ones you’ve created me for and that we get to enter into together?

 (This blog post originally appeared on, where Allen Arnold is a monthly contributor.)

Hear Allen Arnold present more about dreaming at Mount Hermon Writers Conference, March 23-26. Registration is open.

Allen Arnold photoAllen Arnold is the author of The Story of With, an allegory about creativity that fuses together elements of identity, imagination, intimacy, and creative fellowship with God and fellow bohemians. He knows first-hand how common it is for writers to become disheartened, isolated, and overwhelmed—as well as the freedom that comes by making the “shift to with” into truer identity and calling. As the founding Fiction Publisher for Thomas Nelson, Allen oversaw the development of more than five hundred novels that spanned every genre. He now oversees content at Ransomed Heart, a ministry in the mountains of Colorado founded by John Eldredge, the New York Times best-selling author of Wild at Heart. His favorite way to spend the day is with his family—in whatever that day’s adventure may hold. He loves blue oceans, black coffee, hot salsa, and big ideas. Get to know Allen at

An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving a Writers’ Conference

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people visiting outside at mount hermon

by Jeanette Hanscome

“I don’t think I have the right personality for the writing world,” I told my friend. “I’m not bold enough.”

I’d just watched one of my fellow conferees hop up from her chair and cross the dining hall to ask a well-known author to endorse her novel. It was all I could do to request an editor appointment without shaking and answer “What kind of writing do you do” without tripping over my own words.

My friend leaned across the table, “Every year, I have a moment when I wonder the same thing. I think a lot of us do. Writers tend to be shy, yet we come to these conferences and are forced to talk to editors and do all kinds of things that we normally wouldn’t.”

I tried to hide my shock. My friend was a member of the faculty, a pillar of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and here she was admitting to being just like me—insecure and shy. Knowing I wasn’t alone erased the lie that I had to become like that woman in the dining hall in order to make it as a writer.

Since then I’ve discovered that even the writers who can cross the room to ask, “Will you endorse my novel?” are doing it scared to death. I’ve lost track of how many author friends—successful authors whose names you would recognize—have told me, “I’m an introvert.”

Just today, I read an article titled, “23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert.” Number 22 was “You’re a writer.”

So, if one of your pre-conference fears is, “I’m an introvert,” know you will be in good company at Mount Hermon. It will also help you to apply these survival tips:

  • Plan to step out of your comfort zone. If we avoid everything that makes us uncomfortable (for example, having a conversation), we won’t get very far in life let alone the publishing industry. Each day, plan to do at least one thing that requires stretching yourself, such as requesting an appointment with an editor or visiting the Critique Team. If it helps, ask a friend to be your accountability partner. Definitely have friends pray for you. Each one will get a little easier, I promise.
  • See yourself as brave. I used to think I was weak because I felt scared so much of the time, until I discovered that others thought I had guts because I went to writers’ conference and submitted my work for publication. It took a while for me to recognize that seeing myself as weak compounded the challenges of being an introvert by messing with my confidence. Your willingness to attend a major writers conference and put yourself out there is a big deal. In moments of fear, remind yourself how strong you are just for signing up.
  • Take breaks. You probably don’t need to be told that large crowds and endless conversation are exhausting for an introvert and can cause a lot of anxiety. Give yourself permission to go to your room for a while in the afternoon, skip a workshop, hang out in the bookstore, or go to bed early. Every session is recorded.
  • Reach out to other introverts. If you see someone who always seems to be sitting alone, say hello. Sit together during general sessions. Suggest having coffee together. You might discover that you have a lot more in common than your personality type.
  • Know that it is okay to be quiet. One nice thing about being surrounded by other introverts is we don’t think quiet people are anti-social and weird. I bet you’ve been described as a “gentle spirit” or “deep thinker” in addition to “quiet,” and those are pretty high compliments. In moments when you catch yourself thinking, I don’t have the right personality for this, remember, if introverted is how God wired you and he gave you the passion to write, you have the right personality for this. You just need to push through a few fears.
  • Plan for some post-conference downtime. A five-day conference will take a lot out of anyone, but for those of us who are introverts, coming down from the mountaintop can take days. Be prepared to feel tired and in need of space. If it’s possible to take a day off after the conference or go to work late, do it. If not, at least plan for quiet evenings at home between Tuesday and Easter Weekend. Give yourself time to reflect on all that God did at Mount Hermon, and how He used the conference to grow your confidence.

Meet other introvert writers. Register today for Mount Hermon Writers Conference.

Jeanette Hanscome is an author, speaker, freelance editor, and busy single mom. Her book Suddenly Single Mom: 52 Messages of Hope, Grace, and Promise was published by Worthy Inspired in March 2016. She has written four other books, hundreds of articles, devotions, and stories, and contributed to Kathy Ide’s Fiction Lover’s Devotionals 21 Days of Grace and 21 Days of Love, as well as Ellie Claire’s Just Breathe. In 2012, she coauthored Running with Roselle with blind 9/11 survivor Michael Hingson.

Though she has been visually impaired since birth, Jeanette refuses to allow her limitations to hold her back from doing the things she loves. When she isn’t writing, Jeanette enjoys teaching writing workshops, speaking, and mentoring writers. She pours her leftover energy into singing, knitting, and crocheting, and dabbling in new areas of creativity. Jeanette is the mother of two wonderful sons—one young adult and one teenager.

Jeanette is presenting “When Life Gets in the Way of Your Writing” at this year’s Writers Conference.

Be Bold—Take a Boost Clinic!

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rocket launch

by Jan Kern
Pre-Conference Boost Clinic Coordinator

You’ve probably already noticed; the 2018 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference’s theme this year is “BOLD.” That’s fitting. The conference days are packed with opportunities to be bold in moving further into the passion you have to write words that make a difference and change lives.

One of those opportunities takes place even before the main conference begins—during the Pre-Conference Boost Clinics. What a bonus. Whether you’re a new writer or seasoned writer, there is a Boost Clinic for you.

Our Boost Clinic offerings include fiction and nonfiction clinics for those who are just beginning to dip a toe or foot into the professional writing world. For those who have already jumped in and have begun to create their unique splash, we have intermediate to advanced clinics for you. We also have included a mixed-level speculative fiction clinic for those who are writing in this genre or interested in having fun trying it on.

Our mentors are already developing their plans for their clinics, and wow are they getting creative. Which one calls to your bold side?

Be bold pre-conference logo

Want to hear what others have said about pre-conference clinics? Here you go:

Because of the small class size, I received constructive one-on-one feedback that has greatly improved my writing. Don’t go another year without taking advantage of this unique opportunity to master your writing craft. It is well worth your time and money.—Penelope C.

The small group allowed me to establish friendships with other writers who were also learning the craft. The mentor, a veteran published writer, provided personal guidance that I wouldn’t have achieved in a larger group setting or from reading the many books I have on writing—Stephen H.

The group was a perfect mix of preparation, commitment, and experience. The information and tools shared helped propel my work to a level of professionalism I needed but didn’t know how to create. My mentor encouraged me and guided me in seeing the overarching idea and organization of my project, and I was able to look at my book proposal and book with fresh eyes and a renewed passion for the content.—Billie J.

The intimacy of our group and the encouragement launched friendships and editing partners, and truly created a safe a loving space to grow and learn as a new writer. Our mentor created this space and worked wholeheartedly to help us dig deep in order to reach the truth in ourselves, which makes for authentic and meaningful writing.—Lydia T.

By far, the most impacting part of the mentor relationship has been their encouragement as they pinpointed my strengths, highlighted my growth points, and lifted me to the next level in my writing process. What I found equally profound and enjoyable were my writing peers who expressed joy, honesty, and belonging as we pressed into our works, our hopes, and our writing process. —David L.

Ready to get bold and give your writing a boost with a Pre-Conference Boost Clinic?

Check out the details and application process here.

photo of Jan KernJan Kern, author, speaker, and credentialed life coach, is passionate about story—not only how we live it with courage and intentionality, but also how we write it with craft and finesse. She is the author of the Live Free series (Standard Publishing), launched in 2007 with Scars that Wound, Scars that Heal: A Journey Out of Self-Injury, a 2008 ECPA Gold Medallion finalist. In the series, she intertwines a narrative style with fiction techniques to tell the true stories of teens and young adults who struggle with pain and brokenness. She knows about writers in transition as she moves from the teen world into writing and ministry for women. She serves alongside her husband, Tom, at a residential ministry for at-risk youth and recently co-founded with her daughter Voice of Courage, a multi-generational organization for women.

I Don’t Belong Here

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check sign from the street

by Christy Hoss

The closer I got to Mount Hermon driving up Conference Drive, the tighter the knots in my stomach became. My foot left the accelerator long enough to slow down my anxious thoughts. “What am I doing? I don’t belong here. I’m not a professional writer.” I’ll be an inkwell and parchment trying to fit into an electronic world.

The Mount Hermon sign loomed into view.

I had just begun pursuing my second-grade dream of writing novels. My first attempt at chasing that dream had been sent ahead for manuscript review with great trepidation. Certainly, this was not where I belonged. I stopped the car and looked for the first place to turn around. Fortunately, vehicles lined up behind forcing me to move forward.

Pulling into the first spot by the post office, I thrust the car into park and took a deep breath. Slumping forward on the steering wheel, I startled an unsuspecting pedestrian as the horn blared with great volume announcing my arrival.

My cheeks heated 100 degrees. “I shouldn’t be here.” But God reminded me that my sister had paid my tuition because she believed in my dream. I couldn’t disappoint her. Swallowing the lump of fear in my throat, the stomach ropes tied a few more knots as I stepped out of the car.

Every lifted foot ascending the stairs to registration made me wonder if my choice of shoes that morning had been cement. The glory of majestic Redwoods next to the office shouted to me, “Keep moving upward,” and I opened the door to possibilities my conference experience would bring.

I prayed for strength, wisdom, and guidance. At lunch, I met another conferee, also there for the first time and we became BFFs. I decided I’d be a sponge and soak up as much as I could. I didn’t have an agenda and didn’t know where to start. I came in faith, trusting God hoping for direction.

God did not disappoint. The first afternoon workshop I took was “The Call to Write.” I walked into the Laurel meeting room for my “divine appointment.” Every word spoken confirmed I was meant to be there. God’s presence flooded my anxious heart, overcoming all my fears. I belonged at Mount Hermon.

With fear conquered by the grace of God, I pressed on into my first conference, gleaning information and gathering resources, meeting lifelong friends. I left feeling full and confident I was a writer walking the path of my calling.

Don’t let fear keep you from pursuing your dreams. Trust God, seek his face and he will lead you by his righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:9-10).

Christy Hoss headshotChristy Hoss caught the writing bug in second grade when she won a prize for a story about her dog. Her true story is fictionalized in Cry of the Night Bird (2012). She has written for Focus on the Family and Guideposts magazines. She writes sweet romance for adults and fun children’s stories about playing with Jesus using Bible accounts. She started Type One Editing and Writing Consultations to help writers pursue their dreams using her editing experience and advice. Christy lives in Northern California with the love of her life Kevin and they have three adult children. Visit Christy’s website at

Giving Place to Teens

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

mount hermon teen writer track

by Shannon Dittemore

Why do we tell stories? Why does it matter? And what does success truly look like?

Young people are telling stories and they want to do it well.

If you are one of those courageous young people, Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference has created a weekend track just for you.

Authors Jill Williamson, Paul Regnier, and I could not be more excited about our time together. The three of us have different backgrounds and different styles, but we’re united by a passion for the art, a desire to honor God with our writing, and a love of all things fantastical.

Together, we’re prayerfully crafting a series of lessons that will not only dig into the mechanics of writing fiction but also the purpose driving what we do.

We’ll talk about building worlds and developing characters. We’ll do our very best to unravel the mysteries of structuring a story. We’ll brainstorm and we’ll plot, and because you’ll be learning from three different instructors, you’ll get an extended look at the various ways authors create, and perhaps find some things that work for you.

When you leave Mount Hermon, we want your hands full of tools to try out and your heart overflowing with inspiration. We hope to provide you with the kind of encouragement that has you excited to sit down in the chair and turn those ideas into stories. And we’d like to give you enough information so that you can begin to consider whether or not writing as a career is something you’d like to pursue.

To that end, we’ve carved out time in our schedule for plenty of personal interaction. In our three Night Owl sessions, we’ll share our own publication journeys and answer any questions you might have about the process. If you have work you’d like us to look at, send us the first five pages in advance, and we’ll be happy to provide you with feedback.

We know there are many factors to consider when selecting a conference and, this year, Mount Hermon has made it easier than ever for young writers to attend. A 20% discount is available for teen registrants, while the adults who accompany them may pay the full amount and participate in everything the conference has to offer, or skip the instructional sessions and appointments altogether and take $500 off the total price. Please see the full website for details. We hope you’ll prayerfully consider joining us this March.

Until then, teen writers, know you have authors cheering you on, praying for you, and hoping the best for the stories God has placed in your hearts. Here’s hoping we get a chance to meet you this year at Mount Hermon.

Register for the Teen Track today.


Shannon Dittmore photoShannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She attended Portland Bible College, has performed with local theater companies, and has an affinity for mentoring teen writers. Since 2013, Shannon has taught mentoring tracks at a local school, where she provides junior high and high school students with an introduction to writing and the publishing industry. She blogs weekly for Go Teen Writers, posting instruction and encouragement for aspiring authors while emphasizing the importance of community. Shannon, her husband, Matt, and their two children make their home in Northern California.

Let God Pick Your Roommate

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

log camp bed

Interested in attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference? Need to go with “shared economy lodging”? Don’t know anyone to room with? Our Registration Team matches conferees who don’t indicate a roommate preference, based on time zone, age range, and a lot of prayers.

Here’s what some of our past conferees have said about their experiences of signing up for shared lodging and letting the Mount Hermon registration team choose their roommates:

“I was super nervous going without knowing a soul and having a stranger for a roommate. I chose to trust that God would bless my time there and help me through my anxiety about it. My roommate and I did not spend all our time together and become BFFs, but our time together glorified God. We laughed, cried, shared deep things, and prayed together. I am glad I trusted the Lord and gave it a chance. God in His graciousness grew me and I let Him. No regrets.”

“It worked out fine for me. It was always a good experience getting to know someone else on the writing journey. Many of my roommates didn’t return, but those who did became long-term friends.”

“I roomed with strangers for my first several years of attending Mount Hermon and met a lot of nice people that way. In fact, I started looking forward to who I would meet so much that when I ended up in a private room unexpectedly one year (my roommate must have canceled), I was kind of disappointed.”

“I had a great time with my assigned roommate at the writers’ conference. I only did it once, but it turned out we were both night owls and enjoyed our time together. We kept up with each other for years.”

“I’ve been to the conference five times and God orchestrates divine connections every single time I go. Sometimes it’s my roomies, other times it’s someone else. Like many writers, I’m a total introvert. Having one or more roommates is a good experience, apart from the challenges of being a light sleeper paired with snorers! (I did not sleep a wink last time, but I enjoyed long quiet times on the balcony with Jesus, so that was sweet). I’m still connected with a few past roomies (one is currently on my book launch team), and always see God’s hand in all of it.”

Don’t let finances or nervousness keep you from experiencing the divine appointments, inspiration, encouragement, and craft-honing that await you at Mount Hermon Writers Conference 2018. You may just make a new lifelong friend as well.

Take a look at the housing options for the writers’ conference.

Register for Mount Hermon Writers Conference.