Posts Tagged: Christian Writers Conference

Scout’s Guide for Conference Attendees: Be Prepared

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scouts preparing

by Susan K. Stewart

    “I am a first-time ‘camper’ and am so excited that it’s all I can do to keep from sewing nametags in my clothing.”
    “I am going for the very first time and I am nervcited!”
    “I’m coming as a first timer this year, and I’m extremely excited (also a little nervous, but don’t tell anyone ;).”
    “I will be attending for the first time, and I am beyond excited because this has been a long-time dream.”

 

These are just a few of the comments from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference Facebook page. For these writers, this conference is a dream of their writing career.

The conference staff has prepared resources to help first-timers get the most out of the conference. Returning conferees may want to take a look as well. There is a lot of good information.

Start with the First Time Preparation Packet.

The online packet includes information about what to bring, how to prepare, preparing a pitch, first-timers FAQs, and more.

Next review the Frequently Asked Questions.

Here you will learn about airport shuttles, meeting editors & agents, and pitching projects. The information on this web page will supplement the First Time Preparation Packet.

Head over to Letters, Form, & Guidelines.

One of the most valuable items on this page is Online Course Outline Binder. The binder includes outlines for all the workshops. This information is helpful to choose the session to attend. Also, read the conference registrant letter from Kathy Ide, conference director

Take a look at the schedule.

The schedule will help you orient to the conference. Take note of the time of meals, breaks, and session. Don’t miss the First Timers Orientation with Jeanette Hansome at 1:45 on Friday. All attendees want to be at the Meet-and-Greet.

Find out what else you can do at Mount Hermon.

In addition to learning, writing, and fellowship, Mount Hermon offers a variety of recreational activities, which are free to attendees. Go kayaking, hiking, or play games in the Fieldhouse. Of course, you can also head back to your room for a nap.

Mount Hermon is a writers conference like no other. With a little preparation, first-timers and veterans can have a blessed experience to most forward in their writing career. We look forward to seeing you there.

Susan Stewart

When she’s not tending chickens and peacocks, Susan K. Stewart teaches and writes. Susan’s passion is to inspire her audience with practical, real-world solutions. She brings her trademark realistic and encouraging messages to conferences, retreats, and small groups. Her books include Science in the Kitchen, Preschool: At What Cost? and the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers. You can read more of Susan’s practical solutions at www.practicalinspirations.com.

More Than Skin Deep: Getting to Know Your Characters from the Outside In

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variety of women characters

by Sarah Sundin

My favorite part of writing is getting to know my characters. Although I was a chemistry major in college, I took quite a few psychology classes for fun. As a student, I loved contemplating the interplay of nature and nurture and life experiences, and as an author, I love it even more.

In my newly released novel, When Tides Turn (March 2017), I enjoyed writing from the point-of-view of Ensign Quintessa Beaumont, a Navy WAVE in World War II. It was also a challenge because Tess is my opposite. I’m an introvert; Tess is an extrovert. I’m a homebody; Tess lives for fun.

Getting to know a character means looking at nature, nurture, and life experiences.

When authors start character development, we usually start with nature. What does she look like? Eyes? Hair? Face? Build? What’s her personality like? What natural talents and gifts does she have? In Tess’s case, she’s sparkling, lively, and fun-loving. These are the types of qualities we notice when we first meet a person, but they only give us a surface knowledge of the character.

Going deeper, we look at the character’s upbringing—the nurture. What was her family like? Rich or poor? Loving or distant or abusive? Harsh or lenient? Was she the oldest, middle, or baby? What was her childhood like?

Tess is the only daughter of an acclaimed artist, much doted on by her parents and in the art community. When her parents noticed her becoming conceited, they moved to a quiet Midwestern town and cracked down on Tess, encouraging compassion. This upbringing contributes to her strengths—her confidence and her care for the outcast. But it also contributes to her weaknesses—a tendency to selfishness and entitlement.

Going even deeper, we can explore the character’s life experiences. What choices has she made—good or bad—that have made her who she is today? What trauma has she endured? What joy has she relished? What difficulty has she faced? Has she overcome adversity and grown stronger—or has life beaten her down?

Because Tess is beautiful, gregarious, and bright, everything comes easily to her. But recent failures have shaken her self-worth. She comes to realize that she puts herself first, and she’s appalled. With World War II raging, women around America are contributing to the war effort—but Tess isn’t. She decides she’s nothing but a pretty face, and she wants to be more. Of course, as an author, I make this very difficult for her.

The interplay of nature and nurture and life experience brings out fears and flaws, strengths and weaknesses, quirks and habits, goals and dreams unique to the character. This is what makes her “human” and relatable.

Just as we get to know our friends slowly over time, from the outside in, as stories and traits are revealed, the author gets to know her characters. Then she figures out the best way to torture them.

In love. Because we care for our characters and want them to grow, to overcome their sins and fears and flaws, and to become the best people they can be.

Read Sarah’s article, “17 Questions to Ask When Researching for Your Historical Novel.

Registration is still open for the Morning Mentoring Clinics.

Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin will be teaching a Fiction Morning Mentoring Clinic and a workshop on “Historical Research Without the Headaches.” She is the author of nine historical novels, including Anchor in the Storm and When Tides Turn (March 2017). Her novel Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award, won the INSPY Award, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California. www.sarahsundin.com.

10 Ways to Be Awkward at a Writer’s Conference

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awkward smiley face

by Mary DeMuth

My young adult kids overuse the word awkward. As in … they say it a lot. Everything’s awkward, apparently. As a writing conference attendee, and now as faculty, I have learned the true meaning of the word. While the vast majority of folks who attend writing conferences try not to be awkward, in case you choose to embody it, let me offer you 10 ways to be awkward at a writing conference.

  1. Stalk. Follow editors and agents around–even into the bathroom. Find out personal information about them and mention it often. As my kids say, “creep on them.”
  2. Hog appointments. Take all the slots for one-on-one meetings with industry professionals. Meet with children’s editors even though you write prairie romances. Monopolize the conversation at meals with in-depth pitches of your project. Barge in on others’ conversations in the hallway.
  3. Be a wallflower. If hogging appointments isn’t your style, stay in the background. When casual moments naturally lend themselves to discussion of your project, keep quiet. After all, editors and agents aren’t the kind of people who enjoy relationships.
  4. Play the God card. Tell an editor, “God gave me these words; therefore, they are not to be changed. Ever.” Or better yet, “God told me two things: write this book, and when it’s written, it will be a New York Times best seller.” Or really go for broke with “God told me you are going to publish this book.”
  5. Choose not to learn the industry. Have no business cards (except maybe some index cards with your name scrawled across them). Ask what a proposal is. Spend your time doing anything except going to workshops.
  6. Aggrandize yourself. Tell everyone you’re the next Stephen King or J. K. Rowling, and mean it. Bring an entourage to assure others of your importance.
  7. Get noticeably angry when you experience rejection. Throw your pen. Call the agent a name. Huff and puff. And decide before you leave the conference that this one rejection means you should quit writing altogether.
  8. Avoid other writers. After all, they’re your competition. Stay aloof and unapproachable, even if they act like they’re your allies in the journey.
  9. Leave the conference with no strategy. Once it’s over, forget everything and put the experience behind you.
  10. Don’t follow up. If an editor or agent expresses an interest in your project, don’t send it in. Surely they didn’t really mean they wanted to look at it, right?

Seriously, I hope you will avoid these things. And don’t be awkward at the conference!

Have you ever been awkward at a conference? What did you learn from the experience? What is the most awkward thing you’ve seen at a conference?

Originally published at Book Launch Mentor, September 1, 2016, http://www.booklaunchmentor.com/awkward-conference/

photo of Mary DeMuthMary DeMuth is the author of thirty-one books, including her latest: Worth Living: How God’s Wild Love Makes You Worthy. She has spoken around the world about God’s ability to re-story a life. She’s been on the 700 Club, spoken in Munich, Cape Town, and Monte Carlo, and planted a church with her family in southern France. Her best work? Being a mom to three amazing young adults and the wife of nearly 25 years to Patrick. She makes her home in Dallas alongside her husband and two dueling cats.

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 discover 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, April 3.

    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 Google query letters and book proposals 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 By Genre 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 Critique Team 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

    We are trying something new this year. Four faculty members have agreed to look at digital submissions:

    • Andrea Doering (editorial reviews for Revell Books)
    • Susan King (editorial reviews for The Upper Room)
    • Sarah Rubio (editorial reviews for Tyndale)
    • Cynthia Ruchti (critiques as a freelancer)

    If you wish to submit to any of the four, please send your submission in a Word file to me at john@johnvonhof.com. 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, April 3rd.

    Your submission will be emailed before the conference starts to whomever of the four 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, April 3. 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 faculty that you might talk to about your manuscript. We’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the manuscript process.

Extended Deadline for All Mentoring Clinics

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized, Writers Conference.

by Jan Kern

Do you have a writing project that’s nearly ready to be birthed? Could you benefit from a small mentoring group of no more than six writers? This can be the perfect setting for focusing in on developing your writing and taking your manuscript to the next level.

The Pre-Conference Next Level Clinics, April 5-7, offer mentoring groups for children’s writing, fiction,  nonfiction, and platform. The fiction and nonfiction clinics have beginning and intermediate levels.

The main conference, April 7-11, offers Morning Mentoring Clinics in both fiction and nonfiction.

The good news is, it’s not too late! Most of these clinics have room for you to join them. And we are extending the application deadline to Monday, March 27.

If you’re interested in the pre-conference clinics, check out the application details here.

If you’re interested in the main conference clinics, follow the directions at this link to request an application.

Take advantage of the extended deadline and sign up for a mentoring clinic that will help bring your writing and that manuscript into the world.

First-Timers Contest: Winners Announced

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winners

We are excited to announce the winners of The First-Timers Contest. Congratulations to:

Ann Neumann

Erica Hale

Erin Kincaid

Karen DeBlieck

Karl Haffner

Laurel Burlew

Leah Hinton

Lisa Gefrides

Margery Warder

Robin Phillips

If you entered and were not one of the ten winners, we hope you will still consider spending an amazing and life-changing week in the California redwoods to experience this one-of-a-kind event. Find all the conference details at http://writers.mounthermon.org/.

3 Things I Wish I’d Realized Before My 1st Mount Hermon Writers Conference

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Jill OsborneBLOGGER: JILL OSBORNE

Children’s Author; Serving on the Critique Team, March 2016; Teaching an Afternoon Workshop

3 THINGS I WISH I’D REALIZED BEFORE MY 1st MOUNT HERMON WRITERS CONFERENCE

In 2010, I stepped onto the Mount Hermon campus for my first ever Christian Writers Conference. It was one of the best weeks of my life. The valuable skills I learned, the encouraging people I met, and the spiritual guidance I received shaped me into the author I am today. I love Mount Hermon, and, God willing, I plan to come back every year.

But, when I replay the movie of that first week in my mind, I can’t help but wish I could hit the pause button at a few of the more awkward moments and yell out to my newbie self,

“Cut! Can we try that again?”

There’s the scene where I almost went home the first night, because I couldn’t pitch anything—much less an elevator.

There were scenes in the dining room where I kept stuffing my mouth with salad so I wouldn’t have to converse with “scary” agents and editors. (Stomach alert! Don’t ever eat that much salad in one week.)

And then, there was the mid-conference dark moment, when, tired and overwhelmed, I crawled back to my cabin, fished out my eyebrow pencil, scribbled a giant unibrow on my face and pronounced, “I am not a real writer.”

Friends, don’t let this become your movie!

Here are three things I wish I had realized before my first Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I offer this advice as a gift to you, the first time attendee. Memorize these points. Write them on your forehead if necessary. (It’s a better use for the eyebrow pencil.) Recite them to yourself throughout your time at Mount Hermon.

  1. You Belong Here

If you find yourself doubting this, consider the facts:

  1. You’ve been writing, or you’ve been thinking of starting for some time.
  2. God spoke to your heart and led you to sign up. And then he provided the funds!
  3. Every published writer began somewhere, and a writers conference was one of their first important steps. Congratulations, this is your first step!
  1. You Have Something to Offer

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the lingo—like what an elevator pitch is (I found out it has nothing to do with pitching an elevator). The people sitting next to you in the dining hall may wear the title of literary agent, editor, or best-selling author of over one-million books, but they’re real people. They struggle with family issues, job stress, and health challenges, just like you do. They might have a killer headache when you arrive on the scene. You can offer a smile, an encouraging word, or even an extra-strength Tylenol. People who have worked in a profession for a long time are energized by those who are just starting out. They need you! So be bold. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know much about this writing business.” You never know where that conversation will lead.

  1. Your Journey Is Unique

 You will hear plenty of helpful advice about next steps to take in your writing career. Some of that advice will work for you, some of it won’t. That’s okay. God’s got your story in the palm of his hand, and thankfully, it doesn’t read like anyone else’s. A short, straight path to a desired destination is not necessarily the most scenic. If your next chapter involves trudging uphill, you’ll build the muscles you need for the next long haul. God will never short-change you in the character-building department. So, stride into that next step, breathe, and enjoy the journey. Remember what it says in Philippians 1:6:

And I am certain that God, who began a good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Welcome to your first Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. This week will be life-changing for you—in a good way! Embrace both the beauty and the chaos in each moment. Don’t forget to laugh. Find a banana slug on the redwood trail. Meet new people and invite them to join you for ice cream or coffee. Be still, and listen for God’s voice.

And come say hello to me during one of the meals! I’ll be the one not eating salad.

If this your first writers conference, what are you most concerned about?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Come meet Jill Osborne at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

Click here to Register!

Strategies for First Time Conference Goers

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

A writer as green as spring grasses arrived at the San Jose Airport, looked for the Mount Hermon Shuttle Sign, boarded a van, and began an adventure into the publishing industry that resulted in long-lasting relationships that deepened her spiritual roots and nourished her as a writer and speaker.

I’m that writer. Mona Hodgson.

Mona-0858-Edit[1]

Twenty-eight years and hundreds of publishing credits later, I still look forward to returning to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference every spring.

Now it’s your turn. You’re the one arriving at the conference for the first time. And you’re probably feeling as green as spring grasses. Excited. Nervous. Maybe even scared.

I’m hoping these 15 Tips and Tidbits will help prepare you for your God-ordained adventure at Mount Hermon!

1.  Connect with Mount Hermon Writers on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll continue to post updates there and on the blog.

2.  Are you flying in to San Jose and signed up to use our Airport Shuttle Service? At the airport, go to Terminal B Baggage Claim and look for a friendly face. Bob, Linda, or Marci will be waiting for you and holding a Mount Hermon sign.

Bob HodgsonLinda SmithMarci Seither

 

3.  Upon arrival at Mount Hermon on Wednesday or Thursday, go to the Administration Building (beside the Mount Hermon Post Office). That’s where you’ll check in, receive your room key, and your conference packet. For Friday arrivals, if the weather permits, you can check in at the kiosk next to the Mount Hermon Book Shop, across the street from the Administration Building.

4.  Cruise the website with frequent stops on the pages under Program, Faculty, Resources, and Blog.

5.  Take advantage of the free critique available as part of the pre-conference manuscript submission feature. Even if you plan to pitch to an editor or agent, make sure at least one of your two pre-conference submissions go to the Critique Team.

6.  Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be shy. New friends are waiting to meet you. Introduce yourself. Ask questions. The benches around the fire circle are a great place to meet and greet. So is the line at the Expresso Cart in Central Lounge (above the Mount Hermon Book Shop).

MH fire circle

 

7. Make education a priority. It’s tempting to focus on the pitching, networking, selling yourself or your work, but be sure you engage in a Major Morning Track (or the Morning Mentoring Clinic, if that’s the option you choose), afternoon workshops, and night owls. Visit The Critique Team in the Hospitality Center (Multipurpose Room, below the Dining Hall). Get comfortable with the idea that your first foray will be a learning experience. Be sure to join Nick Harrison in the Auditorium, Friday, March 18th at 1:45 pm for the First Timer’s Orientation.

8. Remember, it’s not just about the writing. Or publishing. Be open to God’s plan for your conference experience. Anticipate and welcome the work God wants to do in and through you. One way to prepare for that is to come with prayer support. Ask friends and family to be praying for you.

9. Expect to be overwhelmed. Information overload and over-stimulation is a normal reaction. And it’s bound to happen more than once during the conference. Pace yourself. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to do it all, all of the time. Take a walk. Find a quiet corner or bench where you can breathe and pray.

MH FLowernig Tree bench

 

10 Download “You Make Me Brave” by Amanda Cook and Bethel Music onto your phone and listen to it every time you begin to have doubts. (Maybe not during a workshop or one-on-one appointment, but soon there after.) By the way, even faculty members and seasoned veterans experience doubt and insecurity. You’re not alone.

11. Set goals realistic with your level of experience. Prepare emotionally and spiritually for the fact that your expectations might be unrealistic. Remember that you don’t know what you don’t know. Give yourself grace. That’s the beauty of the conference, it provides you with a place to learn what you don’t know.

12. The folks on the faculty have left families and desks that will pile high to meet you, to serve you. Sit with different ones at lunches and dinners. Introduce yourself to them and the others at the meal tables. They are coming to the conference to bless others and to be blessed by their Father.

13. Schedule time with God during the conference. Visit the A-frame chapel or one of the tables in the field down the road from it.

Chapel Exterior

 

14.  Be open about any health problems or physical limitations that might impact you at the conference. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask for it.

15. For questions or concerns about the Mount Hermon grounds or accommodations, check in with the front desk in the Administration Building. For program related questions or concerns, see Gay or Lynn at the Hospitality Tables in the Hospitality Center (Multi-Purpose Room, below the dining hall) or connect with me (Mona).

Do any of those tips and tidbits speak to you? I hope so.

I can’t wait to meet you!

Mona

Director, Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference

Weaving Grace into Non-Fiction Writing

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Bill GiovannettiBLOGGER: DR. BILL GIOVANNETTI

A Nonfiction Mentor for the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic.

Serving on the Critique Team and teaching a one-hour workshop at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference.

 

WEAVING GRACE INTO NONFICTION WRITING

My equipment consisted of a hammer, an empty soda can, and a stool. Over a thousand people watched me set the can on the stool and crush it flat by a hundred little taps. No, not a skills test, but a sermon before the church that calls me pastor.

My goal was to illustrate a painful point: so much of the Christian message seems to consist of a thousand little chores. People are tired. So many come to church worn out. What do they get? Hope? No. A glimpse of the power of God to transcend their mundane problems? No. A promise to claim? Another attribute of God to rest upon? No. No. No.

What they get is another item for their already backed up to-do list. Tap! We need help in the nursery. Tap! Did you pray/read/study this week? Tap. Integrity matters. Tap. Tap. Have you fallen into crazy love with Jesus? Tap! Tap! Tap! Be radical! Tap! Get to work, Mary! Go help Martha!

No crushing blow. No giant wagging foam finger of shame. But a thousand micro-guilt-trips, delivered courtesy the most sincere Christian communicator, resulting in a dispirited readership that would, if it had the clarity of mind, would through the offending book across the room, in Christian love.

Non-fiction writers, like pastors, need to weave grace into their writings. You may look at your body of work and protest, “Well, I never pound my readers on the head.” Amen! I’m happy to hear that. Now look more deeply. Study hard the thrust of your words. What are you writing about? Duty? Obligation? Practices? Christian chores?

Right, you may not pound. But do you tap?

Relentless tapping is today’s literary equivalent of yesterday’s water-drip torture.

Here are three ways to weave grace into your writings.

  1. Emphasize the DECLARATIVE over the IMPERATIVE.

Only in a writer’s blog could I get away with that statement. The bulk of Scripture is written in the in declarative mode. Scripture-writers relish to lay out a feast of who God is: his character, attributes, names, and deeds. They revel in his promises, and reveal his provision. They blaze forth the message of a God able to lead his people through the wilderness, and prepare them a table in the presence of their enemies. Without shying away from life’s painful realities, they nurture hope by pointing to eternal realities, more real and lasting and significant than anything we see with our eyes or feel with our senses.

As non-fiction writers, we have an embarrassment of riches from which to work. Yes, there is most definitely a place for the imperatives of the Christian life. But let us be sure to anchor them in the abiding declaratives. That is the only way our readers will know both the reasons for their obedience, and the power from which that obedience flows.

  1. Emphasize IDENTITY over ACTIVITY.

As a Christian author, you are naturally concerned with the way of life your readers embrace. It’s tempting to spell out that way of life in so much detail you begin to rival the Pharisees. The simple reality remains that people act out of who they are. More correctly, the act out of who they think they are. If they label themselves stupid, or weak, or victim, or ugly, their lifestyles invariably take on those hues.

If you really want your writing projects to speak to hearts and change lives, then speak to your readers’ identity. Who are you in God’s eyes? How does he label you? What does it mean to be truly beloved, wanted, cherished, protected, provisioned, enabled, empowered, and accepted in Christ?

If you spend a little more time telling people who they are than you “tap” their craniums with what they should do, you’ll see the grace take root and grow up like a tree.

  1. Emphasize TRANSCENDENCE over PRACTICAL APPLICATION.

Yes, the Holy Grail of modern Christian writing is, in my mind, woefully misplaced. What are we, Oprah with Jesus sprinkled on top? Dr. Phil Got Religion?

Of course, readers need tips for living. But those tips are just taps unless they’re rooted in something heavenly, something miraculous, something that transcends the mundane stuff of tabloid and Internet advice.

When a writer lifts that veil that separates earth from heaven’s throne, and describes a glimpse of God’s never ceasing labors in your everyday affairs, when you lift your reader’s mind above the humdrum of daily existence to the glories of the world above, when you make your reader’s heart skip a beat over the angelic watchers, and gasp at the glories to come, you have strengthened them to face the day by the matchless grace of God.

Sometimes “practical” is code for “tap, tap, tap.” Write to thrill the heart with the never-ceasing love of God, and you will have a your band of raving fans… not of you, but of the grace you proclaim.

Oh, and they’ll buy and sell your books too.

The saintly Robert Murray M’Cheyne wrote, “For every look at self take ten looks at Christ.” That’s what I’m talking about. Instead of tap-tap-tapping on your readers with what remains undone, fill their hearts with what has been done for them, perfectly, completely, and irrevocably by God’s matchless grace.

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Come meet Bill Giovannetti at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference.

 

Registration is Now Open!

Building Your Platform with a New “P” Word–Potential

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

B.J. Taylor.2BLOGGER: B.J. TAYLOR

Editorial Representative, Guideposts Magazine

Teaching an Afternoon Workshop, Reviewing Pre-Conference Manuscripts and meeting with writers at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22.

BUILDING YOUR PLATFORM WITH A NEW “P” WORD–POTENTIAL

You’re hard at work on a novel or nonfiction book. You sign up to attend the conference and are eager to discuss your work with agents and publishers. Along with feedback, get ready to hear this question, “What’s your platform?” Right now you might have to say, “I don’t have one,” but you can change that.

Don’t despair. Everyone has a platform. It is built on YOU! And you can start right now to construct yours or add to what you already have. Friends, family, acquaintances, even other writers, are a great beginning. And it’s what I call the new “P” word: Potential.

Start small and add to it weekly. Join Twitter, or Pinterest, or any of the social media sites. How do you get started? Google “how to get started on (blank)” in the search bar (insert one of the following into the blank space: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest). You’ll be amazed at the information that pops up to help you.

A large platform doesn’t happen overnight. A novel doesn’t get written in a day, and thousands of followers and friends don’t just drop out of the air one night. Layer your platform one step at a time, like building the foundation of a house, or constructing a novel. You may already have a Facebook account. Build it up by making friends outside of your circle of family. Not on Twitter? It’s not hard, but like everything else, there is a learning curve. The same with Pinterest or any of the other sites. Take time now to invest in your platform, then look forward to those meetings at the conference.

Set goals and work toward them. Do a little bit more on social media than you have done in the past. Post a few times a week on your sites. Taken one small step at a time it’s not so scary, not so insurmountable, not the big bad “P” word you thought it to be. You can answer an agent or publisher the next time they say, “What’s your platform?” with the following response, “I’m building it, and it has great potential.”

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Can you name three things you’re doing to build your platform?

Come meet B.J. Taylor at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

Ready to learn more about Platform and work with a mentor to build your writer’s platform? Join us for the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic and participate in Kathi Lipp’s Platform Workshop.

Click here to register for the Next Level Clinic and the Main Conference!