Posts Tagged: Nonfiction

Morning Mentoring Clinics and More

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sunrise over the mountains

Unlike other writers’ conferences, the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference offers many options for attendees to choose from. One option is the Morning Mentoring Clinics.

The clinics are designed for writers who have some writing and publishing experience. The goal is to give fiction and nonfiction writers concentrated time for having their works-in-progress critiqued in a knowledgeable, supportive, and realistic manner. Skilled professionals in each genre are committed to coming alongside the attendees.

Sarah Sundin says this about the fiction mentoring clinics:

Imagine spending three mornings with half a dozen other serious novelists, learning from one anther and from a published author. In the Fiction Morning Mentoring Clinics at Mount Hermon, authors James Scott Bell (mystery, suspense, and thrillers), Ben Wolf (fantasy and speculative), and Sarah Sundin (historical, contemporary, women’s fiction, and romance) will lead groups of no more than six writers.

In these groups, writers will have a chapter or two critiqued by the other participants and the published author. By analyzing one another’s writing, we learn techniques that sing and pitfalls to avoid. Each published author will tailor the time to the needs of the group, offering writing exercises, teaching, or discussion time. For example, in my clinic last year, we had mini-workshops on dialogue and point-of-view, topics the participants had requested.

If this appeals to you, and if you have some writing experience and wish to take your fiction skills to the next level, apply for a clinic today!

Jan Kern, one of the nonfiction mentors, says:

Our nonfiction mentoring clinics offer a dynamic small-group setting that is perfect for writers desiring focused direction for their works-in-progress. This year we have three mentors, each ready to come alongside you in your specialized area of interest: general, men’s or women’s nonfiction, spiritual formation, devotional, Bible study, or personal-experience stories.

Participants will interact with their mentor, a skilled professional in their genre, along with five other participants in their group. Come and make connections, layer in new learning and perspective into your writing, experience the synergy of creative interaction, and discover momentum for your work in progress.

The Mentoring Clinics meet each morning opposite the Major Morning Tracks and are by application only. Fiction and Nonfiction Clinics are limited to six students each. Applications are processed and the writers placed in groups in the order the applications are received. Application deadline has been extended to March 27.

Other morning options include Major Morning Tracks. There are seven comprehensive courses to choose from, each one designed with three parts packed with benefits. All included in the main conference fee.

  • Receive instruction from top-notch industry professionals.
  • Apply some of the principles in your own writing.
  • In an afternoon critique group Saturday and Monday, share your writing for constructive response and/or brainstorming.

If neither of those options is right for you, why not make the Mount Hermon writers’ conference a writing retreat? Start your day in a Prayer & Praise session with Kim Bangs, or take a prayer walk along one of the beautiful redwood trails, or seek divine guidance in the Mount Hermon chapel. Join us for a delicious, healthy breakfast. Then spend the rest of the morning writing whatever God lays on your heart to work on.

After lunch, do more writing or take some workshops, meet with the Critique Team, have appointments with faculty members, or enjoy some of the recreational opportunities available to conferees. If you get stuck, spend some time with our Prayer Partners in the chapel. After dinner, be inspired by our evening worship and keynote speaker … or do more writing. You’ll be amazed at how much quality work you’ll get done in this inspiring atmosphere!

Register today for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference!

 

 

 

Harnessing the Magic of “After-Writing”

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by Joseph Bentz

I would like to declare a new stage of the writing process. I call it “after-writing.” Even though I never see it discussed in books or articles about writing, for me it has been a crucial stage in the writing of my books.

I teach writing in a variety of venues, from freshman courses at Azusa Pacific University to professional conferences like the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, where I will be leading a Morning Mentoring Clinic on writing nonfiction books this year. In textbooks, writing experts often identify and describe the various stages of the writing process as pre-writing, drafting, revision, editing, and proofreading. The “after-writing” stage that I am proposing is not represented by any of those steps. By overlooking it, writers may be losing an opportunity to harness much more of their creative energy.

creative child in afterglow of sunset Here is how after-writing works for me. I sit down for my scheduled daily writing session on the book I am working on. Let’s say I have three hours for that session. At the end of that time, I will have to set the book aside, move on to other things, and come back the next day to pick up where I left off. By the time the writing session is over, my ideas are usually flowing pretty well, I have an idea where I am headed next, and I look forward to getting back to it the following session.

As you may have experienced, what often happens the next day is that as I glance over what I wrote the day before, my sense of momentum that had felt so strong the previous day has now shut down. I often think, Now, where was I headed with this? What was I planning to write next? I can spend much of the current day’s writing time trying to reconstruct that mind-set of the previous day and re-enter that creative flow.

“After-writing” helps prevent that dilemma. Now, instead of merely stopping at the end of a writing session, I make sure to leave a little time—maybe ten or fifteen minutes—at the end of a session to jot down a note to myself about what I would have written next if I had been able to continue. This “after-writing” note is usually rough. I don’t worry about getting the wording just right or tracking down the documentation of a source or even writing in complete thoughts. What I’m after is a road map for the next day. I need notes that capture my thinking of that moment so that when I read them the next day, those thoughts will come alive inside me again, and I won’t have to waste time recreating my earlier mind-set. The notes might be so rough that they would make sense to no one but me, but I am the only one who will read them anyway.

“After-writing” has another benefit. I have noticed that when I am in my more formal writing stage, I am sometimes a little tense as I try to get the sentences and paragraphs just right. But once I enter the “after-writing” stage and the pressure is off, sometimes that unleashes a whole new burst of creativity. Even though I might have felt worn out from writing, I suddenly have a new gush of words that I can barely type fast enough to get on the screen. That second wind sometimes leads me to postpone my stopping time and keep going awhile longer.

I have discovered one final advantage of the after-writing stage. After many years as a writer, I noticed that once I have stopped writing for the day and my mind has let go of that disciplined way of thinking, I often have another rush of ideas about an hour later. I used to ignore that or even squelch it, thinking that I had already done my work for the day and should relax and return to it tomorrow. But now I prepare myself for that little “brainstorm” and take advantage of it by jotting down whatever comes during that time. Then I can go back to whatever else I was doing.

For me, writing a book includes many moments of joy, insight, and satisfaction, but it is also a long, hard slog. Good ideas are precious commodities in that process, and I want to do everything I can to capture the ones that show up. “After-writing” is one of the best techniques I have found to accomplish that.

Joseph Bentz has published four novels and five nonfiction books. His most recent book, Nothing Is Wasted, was published in 2016 by Beacon Hill Press. He is a blogger and currently at work on a book about passages of Scripture that have changed the world. He is a professor of English at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California, where he teaches courses in writing and American literature.

Joseph will be a nonfiction mentor and also presenting workshops at the Mount Hermon Writers Conference. Click here for more information.

Make the Most of the Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Opportunity

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John VonhofBLOGGER: JOHN VONHOF

John coordinates the Manuscript Retrieval Process during the Main Conference.

 

MAKE THE MOST OF THE PRE-CONFERENCE MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSION OPPORTUNITY

One of the benefits of attending the Mount 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 – 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)
  • 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. The same rules as above apply.

Complete details are on the conference website. Click here to see the 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. Other parts of your of your submission package may be single-spaced.
  • Manuscripts must be original (your work) and unpublished.
  • The manuscript is 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.).

Choosing Whom to Review or Critique Your Manuscripts

The Resources page  has tabs for Editorial Needs by Genre and Editorial Needs Alphabetical. Use these lists to learn what the editors and agents are looking for. For critiques, use the Critique Team Listing.  Once the conference has started, the Manuscript Retrieval Team can help you think about faculty to approach about your manuscript.

What to Submit

The Query Letter & Book Proposal Guidelines webpage has information to help you prepare your submission. 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 manuscript.

Packaging and Sending Your Manuscripts

The Resource section on the conference website has a Letters, Forms & Guidelines webpage that has 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 save your files to 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.

All the above information and more can be found on the Free Manuscript Review webpage.

Deadline for Pre-Conference Submissions

All pre-conference submissions must be received at the conference center by Monday, March 14. 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 get any manuscripts the faculty has returned. Some are returned after that, depending on faculty’s timing.

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; 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. Feel free to email me at: john@johnvonhof.com.

John Vonhof and Dan Kline

Manuscript Retrieval Team

~~~~~~~~~~

Come meet John Vonhof at the 47th Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22!

Click here to Register now!

Writers Meeting Editors and Agents ~ Oh my!

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If you have an interest in writing or in the publishing industry, we’d love to see you at Mount Hermon, March 25-31.

How do you know the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference is right for you?

computer keyboard image

 

You’re going to want to join us at Mount Hermon, if . . .

1.  You have to write. You can’t help yourself, you’re a writer.

2.  You care about meeting and mingling with folks of like-mind, who share your interest in writing and publishing.

3.  You desire to build relationships with folks in the publishing industry–published authors, editors, and agents.

4.  Social media and the concept of blogging baffles you and you could use some help with it all.

5.  You have the desire to explore a new genres or type of writing.

6.  You’re interested in studying the craft of writing with a multi-published mentor.

7.  You need encouragement from writers who have been where you are and taken have the next steps.

8.  You don’t know all there is to know about writing for publication, publishing, marketing, and promotions.

9.  You’re wondering what to do next in your writing career and could use some direction.

10. You crave Christian fellowship with other publishing industry professionals.

11.  You have been in the desert and could use some spiritual nourishment.

12. You see value in a contemplative stroll through a stand of awe-inspiring redwood trees.

Which one or ones in the above listing best fit you in this season of your writing life?

 

Here’s how to REGISTER

Click here to find Mount Hermon Writers on Facebook

 

What’s New. What Isn’t.

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Mona from Arizona, here!

If you’ve ever been to Arizona, and especially if you haven’t, you know the expectation. Arizona is always hot and dry. Right?

Wrong!

Last Wednesday, Central AZ became a Winter Wonderland. (Yep, the song is playing in my head, too. You’re welcome.)

2015 Arizona Snow Collage

Expectations can disappoint us. Lull us into complacency. Expectations might even cause us to miss out on a glorious surprise because we think we know what to expect and don’t anticipate anything more. Or we snub the surprise because it means things are different.

You may have heard the rumors . . . change is in the air for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference. I’m not sure what you’ve heard, if anything, but it’s true that change is coming to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference. We’ve hit the refresh button for 2015!

So far, I have run in to two different camps.

  • Those who initially respond with “oh.” Picture sagging shoulders.
  • Those who initially respond with “Oh!” Picture eyes wide with anticipation.

The good news is that the “oh” easily becomes “Oh!”

So . . . I’m here to break it all down for you ~ What’s New and What Isn’t.

ONE

If you’re already a fan of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, you know that the fabulous Rachel Williams is the Conference Director. Following the “passing through” of her husband, Roger, Rachel has taken a leave of absence from her job at Mount Hermon. That’s why you’re hearing from me. I’m serving as Coordinator for the 2015 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference.

Who am I? A Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference veteran (okay, old-timer works too). It was my first writers’ conference. When? (I was afraid you’d ask that.) In 1988. I’ve been in the publishing industry awhile and Mount Hermon and the relationships I’ve made at the conference over the years have played a key role in my writing journey. Click here to learn more about the progression of that journey.

TWO

Break out the chocolate ~ it’s a New Website!

Don’t miss out. Go ahead . . .  take the new website for a spin. While you’re cruising, check out what’s new in the program.

Oh, and don’t forget to visit the familiar and new faculty faces.

Looking for the guidelines and forms for the various conference features? Resources has it all!

THREE

The Writers’ Conference Blog. It’s integrated into the new website and easy to access there. Yes, but that’s not all. There’s a plan.

You don’t have to wait until you’re breathing the Mount Hermon redwoods in March to get to know the faculty and start gleaning from their years of experience in the publishing industry. (Yep. I heard that “Oh!”) Not only will you find helpful tidbits about the conference and ways to prepare to get the most out of it, we’ll feature Faculty Guest Posts too.

Make sure you subscribe to receive the blog posts by email so you don’t miss out on any updates.

HEY, EXPECTATIONS HAVE MERIT!

I hear you. And it’s true. Expectations have their perks. Indeed, there can be comfort and even joy found in knowing what to expect. Especially if your expectations are grounded in the What’s Not New about the conference features. So . . . for 2015, we’re giving everyone a bit of both. The familiar. AND the surprising.

Signature Features that have given the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference its stellar reputation in the publishing industry . . .

Mount Hermon, the bridge between writers and agents, writers and editors, agents and editors.

Added-Value Features new to the 2015 conference . . .

Come see for yourself. REGISTER ME NOW!

Mount Hermon offers a one-of-a-kind atmosphere for writers at every skill level, from unpublished to professional, and offers help to writers in a wide span of genres and in every phase of a writer’s career. We continually research the latest trends in writing and publishing, seeking out the foremost experts.

Whether you desire to publish the traditional way with a royalty publisher or you intend to go the indie publishing route, you’ll find industry professionals who can instruct, direct, and encourage you.

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YOUR TURN: We’d love to hear from you. What are you most looking forward to at the 2015 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 25-31?