Posts Tagged: Writing

Writing on the Deepest Places

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

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.

Be Bold—Take a Boost Clinic!

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

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.

Something New at the Writers Conference

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference has been a premiere conference for years. One of the reasons is the organizers constantly look for ways to meet the needs of the attendees. The 2018 conference is no different. The upcoming conference will introduce new Major Morning Tracks courses to help all writers.

Major Morning Tracks provide instructions and an opportunity to apply what is learned during the morning sessions. There’s an added bonus of working with an instructor and a published mentor. Here’s what’s new.

Career Growth Course

Whether you want to begin a career as a writer, blogger, editor, writing coach, or consultant, or take the next step toward that goal, you need to create a business strategy. This track is for you. Lead by Susy Flory and Laura Christianson.

Professional Writers Retreat Course

This session is designed for multi-published authors who understand the field of book publishing and realize the value of continued learning, encouragement, spiritual refreshment, and connecting with other professional writers. Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young lead this track. (See this page for criteria.)

Weekend Teen Course

Scheduled to run from Friday evening through Sunday, this track is for teens who are starting out or have been at it a while. The sessions will cover fiction basics like point of view, showing vs. telling, and plot structure. There will be brainstorming sessions to create plots, characters, and story worlds. This track is led by Jill Williamson, Shannon Dittemore, and Paul Regnier.

Of course, non-fiction, fiction, the spiritual life of a writer, editing, and memoir courses will be back.

In addition to the Major Morning Tracks, attendees can also choose Morning Mentoring Clinics or use the morning hours for a personal writing retreat.

Register today for the Mount Hermon Writers Conference.

The First-timers Contest is still open.

The Psalmist Had a Day Job

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

the text of psalm 23

by Cynthia Ruchti

For every writer who slogged through a day where interruptions outnumbered hours spent writing…

For every novelist who left a hero in deep distress because the family car needed its oil changed or the substitute teacher position turned into a financially helpful but creatively draining three-month maternity leave sub…

For every memoirist at the edge of a breakthrough in a gripping opening line, called away by a spreadsheet due on a client’s desk…

I offer hope.

King David managed roles as writer, worshiper, and warrior, among other things. He had a day job—king. But what he wrote in pensive, reflective, or desperate hours while listening to, praising, or arguing with God formed among the most frequently visited pages of history’s all-time best seller: the Bible. King and lyricist. King and musician. King and warrior and worshiper and writer.

Aspiring writers might be surprised at the number of veteran authors who—despite multiple books to their credit—have day jobs in addition to their writing careers. They teach fitness classes, work for non-profit ministries, hold down part-time jobs at coffee shops or dental clinics. Among many prolific authors are those who offer home daycare, run ranches, sit in uninspiring cubicles working on uninspiring projects until the end of the workday when their paycheck will provide more printer ink for their heart’s true passion: writing.

You mean I can have it all? I can have a prolific writing career while single-handedly managing a national or international ministry and teaching weekly cooking classes and traveling more than I’m home at my desk and raising organic goats and getting my doctorate in advanced nuclear physics and refinishing museum-quality fifteenth-century furniture and caring for my elderly parents?

No. Key words from that paragraph tell the story:

  • All. The only “alls” we can successfully handle are all God has for us and all God wants us to be.
  • Single-handedly. If the “all” God is asking of us can’t be listed in one breath, we’ll need help: His, obviously, and the help of others who can assist or, better yet, take over responsibilities we thought were ours to manage.
  • Weekly. The writer who is serious about using the gift of words, story, and language for holy, God-directed purposes will have few additional weekly, regular, time-consuming commitments. We’re not told that King David had time for a golf league or that he played the lyre in nursing homes every weekend.
  • Goats. David may have insisted on organic goat’s milk on his breakfast table, but he left his animal-herding days behind when God called him away from tending livestock. The committed writer soon learns that some activities become archives and memories in order to create time for writing.
  • Caring. God too may have glanced over all the other words in that paragraph of piled on responsibilities and landed on this one. Caring is dear to His heart. If what we abandon in our pursuit of a writing career is the caring part—caring for our families, about our relationship with the God for whom we write, about our readers, caring for those entrusted to us—the words we write will ring hollow in His ears and hollow to those who know and love us.

King David was writer, worshiper, and warrior. How did he juggle those interconnected but distinct roles? And what core principles guided all three careers?

Ah! That’s the stuff of which workshops are made.

Cynthia will be mentoring nonfiction writers in inspirational and personal-experience stories at the 2017 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Cynthia Ruchti headshotAuthor and speaker Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope. Her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction have been recognized by a number of significant industry awards. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren. Her prayer is that those who finish reading one of her books or attending an event where she’s speaking will gain the confidence to say, “I can’t unravel. I’m hemmed in hope.”

Allowing God to Lead You

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Marla SchultzBLOGGER: MARLA SCHULTZ

Managing Editor, Molly Green Magazine

Reviewing Pre-Conference Manuscript Submissions and Meeting with Writers at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22.

 

ALLOWING GOD TO LEAD YOU ON YOUR WRITING JOURNEY 

“Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work” Exodus 36:2, NKJV

A few years ago our pastor challenged us to ask God to use us in our area of talent. My heart leapt and I immediately thought, “I want God to be glorified through my writing—I want Him to use me.”

This wasn’t something that unexpectedly pounced on me that morning. Since childhood I’ve enjoyed imagining and writing stories. I majored in Communication Arts, but in the busyness of raising and homeschooling six children and being a wife and homemaker, I pushed the desire to create to the sidelines. Occasionally I’d slip away to write, but rarely found or made time to do.

That Sunday morning something changed. I could feel it. God stirred my heart and I responded.

Within a short period of time I began to see Him answering. Completely unaware of my whispered prayer, I was asked to co-write the skits for the upcoming VBS at our church—an event that averages about 500 children a day. Then the Women’s Ministries offered another writing opportunity. My dormant desire was being nourished and once again I began working on my unfinished books and stories, as well as these other projects.

In 2012, after an incredible and encouraging experience at Mount Hermon Writers’ Conference, I decided I needed a platform. Within a few months I stumbled on an opportunity—writing literature unit studies for a homeschooling website—perfect for this season of my life. This opportunity led to writing articles, as well, but also to my current position as the Managing Editor of a magazine that covers topics that highly interest me and still allows me to home educate our children.

As I look back on the past few years, I see how faithful God has been to answer my prayer to be used in an area I love, and to guide my steps—even when I feel like I’m flailing.

Maybe for years you’ve had a desire to write, but the circumstances in your life haven’t allowed you to be able to commit the time needed. Is now the time? Is your heart being stirred like the artisans in Exodus to come and do the work and allow God to direct your writing journey?

Ask Him.

Perhaps attending the Mount Hermon Writers’ Conference in 2016 is the next step and will help lead you to a new season in your life. If your heart is being stirred, He’s the one inspiring you.

What will your journey look like?

_____________________

Come meet Marla Schultz at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

REGISTER NOW!