Posts Categorized: Writers Conference

Fantasy, Sci-fi, Spec Fiction … Huh?

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fantasy panorama

by Lindsey Franklin

I tell people Mount Hermon is my home conference. It’s not an exaggeration to say Mount Hermon helped launch my career. I met my agent, many of my editing clients, several critique partners/heart friends, and both of the editors with whom I would go on to contract a total of six books (so far). Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

I’m honored to be on faculty for the first time this year, and in one of my favorite teaching roles—small group mentoring. Mentorship clinics and groups are amazing opportunities for one-on-one instruction with authors who have traveled the path before you, as well as those writers traveling alongside you. Their feedback and insights are invaluable. If you’re ready for a major growth spurt in your writing, please check out the pre-conference clinics and the main conference morning mentoring groups. Group size is limited so you’re guaranteed deep, personal attention, and there’s a group for every genre and every writing focus.

Since I’m leading both a pre-conference clinic and a mentoring clinic for speculative fiction writers this year, I thought I’d briefly explain the difference in focus for my two groups. Maybe one is right for you. I’d sure love to have you.

Pre-Conference Boost

Have you thought about tiptoeing into the speculative fiction world but don’t have any idea how to write in those strange genres? (It’s okay…spec fic writers know we’re kind of strange.) Maybe you’re a historical fiction author who has a time-travel idea. Or you might write Victorian romance and you have an awesome new plot with some steampunk technology and you’re not sure what to do with it. Perhaps you write contemporary fiction and you have that one crazy urban fantasy idea that won’t quiet down. Perhaps you usually write thrillers and your next story has some tech that doesn’t actually exist yet.

In the pre-con clinic, I’d like to help writers of all skill levels wade into speculative waters, maybe for the first time. This is a “no dumb questions” space for all your brainstorming needs. We’ll discuss different genres that fall under the speculative umbrella, tropes readers love, clichés they hate, and what’s the same and what’s different about building a speculative story. I write fantasy, contemporary fiction, and even nonfiction (what!), so I understand both sides of this coin. I love bridging the gap and helping writers explore the uncharted and get in touch with their wild sides. Join me?

This group would also be excellent for someone who knows they want to write speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, and all the glorious sub-genres) but is perhaps just getting serious about their writing. I will address the writing craft problems I tend to see over and over in speculative manuscripts. You’ll leave equipped with practical tools to make all your imaginings come to life.

Morning Mentoring Clinic

During the main conference, the mentoring clinic will focus on serious spec writers who know their genres and want focused feedback on their works-in-progress. This group is designed for writers with intermediate writing/publishing experience. We’ll dive deep into story here, addressing characters, plot, tension, voice, and premise, while also addressing specific craft issues in each manuscript. This group is perfect for writers wanting in-depth critique with their fellow “weirds” who won’t bat an eyelash at their urban fantasy manuscript about gremlins who have infected the books at the local library, or their high fantasy detailing an epic struggle between good and evil, or that hard sci-fi story about extracting dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes trapped in amber and using it to create a theme park with real dinos. Except I think someone already wrote that last one.

Any of this sound tempting? Hope to see you in March, fellow wordsmiths.

Pre-conference Boost details

Morning Mentoring Clinics

Register for Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Lindsey FranklinLindsay A. Franklin is an award-winning author, award-winning freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. She spends a lot of time in made-up worlds, and she’s passionate about sparking imagination through stories of infinite possibility. Her debut fantasy novel, The Story Peddler, releases in May. When she’s not exploring the fantastical, she’s exploring the Bible and encouraging young women through her devotional books, Adored and Beloved. Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her husband (master of the dad joke), their awesomely nerdy kids (Star Wars super-fans, all three), two thunder pillows (AKA cats), and a stuffed wombat with his own Instagram following (@therealwombatman). You can find Lindsay on social media, too, if Wombatman hasn’t hijacked all her accounts. www.facebook.com/LindsayAFranklin.

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 www.christyhoss.com.

Giving Place to Teens

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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

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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.

Meet Keynote Speaker Allen Arnold

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dishes of salsa

Allen Arnold is the author of The Story of With, an allegory about creativity that fuses together elements of identity, imagination, intimacy as we pursueAllen Arnold photo 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. Allen reveals how creative interests and desires actually serve as a supernatural homing device, drawing us closer to God as we pursue what we are most passionate about from an awakened heart.

As the founding Fiction Publisher for Thomas Nelson, Allen oversaw the development of more than five hundred novels with a wide range of writers from NY Times bestselling authors to debut novelists. 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.

Allen’s 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. Kathy Ide had Allen fill out a fun questionnaire to get to know him a little better for her blog. Enjoy!

Allen’s fun facts:
In college, I had a secret identity. I made appearances dressed in the official Captain Crunch uniform to promote the cereal.

Favorite pastime:
Coaching basketball for my kids.

Something most people would be surprised to find out about you:
I drink salsa by the glass … the hotter, the better.

Besides the Bible, what’s one of your favorite books and why?
The Song of Albion trilogy by Stephen Lawheadbecause he does a masterful job of taking readers to a mystical thin place where realities bleed together in ways that leave the reader as transformed as the characters.

One person you would love to meet and why:
Damon Lindelofhe’s the co-creator of the television series Lost, which blew my mind and remains, to me, the best television series to air. I’d love to discuss story and creativity with this brilliant artist. Okay, him and Daniel (I’ve got some questions about his time in the Lion’s Den).

Learn more about Allen at withAllen.com.

Allen joins LIz Curtis Higgs as keynote speakers at Mount Hermon Writers Conference, March 23-27, 2018. Register today.

Why Is This Taking So Long?

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woman waiting

by Janet Hanscome

I knew I should be happy for my roommate, but when she shared her exciting news—“I have an agent”—tears came almost immediately. I’d been attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference for seventeen years and still didn’t have an agent, despite writing three work-for-hire books with Focus on the Family. Eight years had passed since the last one hit the shelves. I’d followed through on invitations to submit book proposals and a request for a complete novel manuscript, only to have every one of them turned down. Now I was going through a divorce and trying to survive as a single mom on a freelance writer/editor’s income. If ever I needed doors to open it was now. Instead, they were opening for my friends.

Two and a half years later, my dream of finding an agent—my dream agent, in fact—had finally come true. But the book proposal that she loved so much—a devotional for single moms—still hadn’t found a home.

For the first time since attending my first writers’ conference in 1995, I considered setting writing aside.

I was tired of arriving at conferences with nothing to show for my efforts while my friends arrived with new releases.

Tired of writing proposals for books that nobody wanted.

Tired of wanting what I couldn’t have.

Two thoughts kept me from quitting:

  • The reality that I would be miserable if I did.
  • If this was a test of my commitment to writing (How badly do you really want this?), I didn’t want to fail.

I’m so glad I didn’t quit! A few months later, my agent found a publisher for my devotional, and in March 2016, it released on the last day of the Mount Hermon conference.

This might sound shocking, but I am now grateful for the frustrating timing.

  • If the first agent I connected with at Mount Hermon had signed me, or the second, I wouldn’t have the wonderful agent who represents me now.
  • When I think back on my early book proposals and that completed novel, I still had so much to learn about the craft, marketing, and which genre suited me best. Most of my ideas flowed from personal struggles that were still unresolved. Now that I was in a more professionally and emotionally mature place, I saw what a disaster those other projects might have been if accepted.
  • By the time I signed the book contract, I had twenty-year’s-worth of relationships to draw on for endorsements, reviews, guest blog posts, and influencers.
  • The book flowed from my experience as a newly-single mom—so while exciting things happened for my friends, God had been at work in me as I lived my future material and developed a heart for hurting women.
  • I had six months to complete my first draft. By the time I sat down to write it, my post-divorce life had settled down, and I’d done enough healing to revisit some painful memories.
  • God timed my release date so it fell during the conference where I first sensed His call to write, and where I would be surrounded by friends who’d been part of my very long journey, including my healing journey. It was like a five-day launch party!

Perhaps you are feeling like I did a few years ago—like no matter how hard you work, and no matter how long you study the craft, exciting things always seem to happen for your roommate instead of you. Maybe you enjoyed some success only to have your writing life get stalled.

Maybe, like me, you have considered quitting. As you consider attending Mount Hermon in 2018, I encourage you to draw on the valuable lessons that I learned from this long period of waiting.

  • Waiting often tests how badly we want something. How happy would you be if you stopped writing? If you know you would be miserable, ask God for renewed patience, trust, and wisdom as you seek His direction.
  • You probably get sick of hearing this, but we really can trust His timing. He not only knows when we are ready craft-wise, but also which agent we need, when we are emotionally ready to take on a daunting task like a book, and when we will have time to write it well. He knows who our audience really is, and what we need to experience in order to minister to them through our stories.
  • This is not wasted time. Consider what you are learning while you wait for that long-awaited yes. Take advantage of this opportunity to hone your craft, find your voice and niche, build relationships within the publishing community, and grow your platform. If you are going through something difficult, pay attention to what God is teaching you, and what you will have to offer others later.

In those moments when you find yourself crying, Why is this taking so long? take time to record the benefits that you discover in waiting for your dream to become reality.

Have you been waiting for your writing career to take off? This may be the year. Be BOLD, register now 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. Visit Jeanette’s website https://jeanettehanscome.com/

Say Something Nice

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encouragement is optimism in action

Large writers’ conferences can be encouraging and discouraging at the same time. For some writers, disappointment comes during a much-anticipated appointment or not getting the most desired appointment or a manuscript critique. Keynote speaker, Liz Curtis Higgs, gives us advice to encourage others from her book It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba.

It’s Good to Encourage Others

When I’m asked, “What do you like to do for fun?” my standard answer is read long novels, travel to new places, and watch old movies. But my favorite thing to do is encourage people. Just the best.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3 (and free).

  1. Keep an eye out for people who need a little boost (we all do).
  2. Ask the Lord for the right thing to say that will lift their spirits.
  3. Share that encouraging thought for His glory and their pleasure.

Ta-da!

So simple, yet what a profound difference a few kind words can make.

  • For a young mother who’s fretful about her energetic kids giggling and wriggling in their seats at church, in a restaurant, at the movies:
    “Your children are so happy. You must be a terrific mom!”
  • For a woman whose downcast expression says she’s having a hard day at work:
    In case no one has mentioned this, you’re doing a great job.”
  • For a teenager who has that “I’m so ugly” look on her face:
    “Cute top! And the color matches your eyes perfectly.”

Look, this isn’t rocket science. Just say something nice. It costs nothing, yet might be worth everything to the other person, whether friend or stranger.

Check out the queen of Sheba—a true encourager in action.

How happy your people must be!
How happy your officials,
who continually stand before you
and hear your wisdom!
1 Kings 10:8

Love all the exclamation points! This is one enthusiastic woman here. “O the happiness of thy men” (YLT) and “How blessed are your staff!” (ISV).

She could have praised Solomon directly, privately. By praising him and his followers openly, she made lots of people happy, rather than just one. Smart.

For two months or more, Sheba had listened to Solomon’s powerful, God-soaked wisdom. We’re seeing the fruit of it in this verse: honest praise, genuine encouragement.

The Lord calls, equips, and empowers us to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Though it might be easier to say nothing, how much better to say something. To get our focus off ourselves and on others. To look for ways to lift up rather than tear down. To whisper words from God and bring refreshment to a parched soul.

I see you, nodding your head. You get this. You do this. God bless you for sharing your gift!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for pouring out words of encouragement through Your children to bless others. Help us never hold back, worrying about what people will think or how they’ll react. Give us the courage to take the risk and speak up. May it never be about making us look good, but about making Your goodness shine in a world full of darkness and discouragement. Remind us everywhere we go, everyone needs a word from You.

Liz Curtis Higgs

Keynote speaker Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of 37 books with 4.6 million copies in print, including her nonfiction bestsellers, Bad Girls of the Bible, The Girl’s Still Got It, and The Women of Christmas, and her Scottish historical novels, Here Burns My Candle and Mine Is the Night, a New York Times bestseller. Liz has also spoken at more than 1,700 Christian conferences in all 50 United States and 15 foreign countries. Follow her monthly Bible study at LizCurtisHiggs.com/blog.

Attendee Learns from Informal Conversations

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

dining hall

“I sensed that God was telling me to write a book. I thought it was a crazy idea. I didn’t have anything to say, or so I thought. In retrospect, I realized that I wrote the book before I knew anything about the craft of writing. I wondered why God didn’t tell me to learn how to write before he told me to write a book. Surely that would have been more logical,” Susan Barnes, 2017 conference attendee, says about her work in progress.

She continues, “However, one day when I was rewriting, I realized that if I was to write that book now, I wouldn’t have been able to write some things, with the same intensity as I felt back then because God has brought so much healing into my life.”

Susan flew from Australia to attend the conference. When asked if this was her first trip to the United States, she said that in 1994 she and her husband visited friends, who had accepted a call to a church in Texas. Then in 2010, they attended the Doing Church as a Team Conference in Hawaii.

“For the last six years, there has been a Christian Writers’ Conference. For several years I was the coordinator. It’s run by Omega Writers and is a two-day conference held annually in October. There were about 100 delegates at this year’s conference. So, as you can gather, it isn’t a big conference and doesn’t have the depth and breadth of information that is available at a U.S. conference.”

In addition to those two trips, Susan attended the Glorietta Christian Writers’ Conference in New Mexico. “Australia is a big country with a small population (24 million). We only have eight major cities and some of those aren’t very major when you compare them to U.S. cities. Therefore, we cannot support a large publishing industry. Plus, Australia doesn’t have a strong Christian heritage. Rarely can you buy a Christian book anywhere apart from a Christian bookshop or online.

It was at Glorietta that Susan heard about the Mount Hermon Writers Conference. “It stayed in my mind because people kept telling me Mount Hermon was the best Christian Writers’ Conference in the US. It struck me as odd, why were they here if Mount Hermon was better?

“However, it planted the seed in my mind that I wanted to come. I had to wait eleven years. I had the opportunity this year when I unexpectedly inherited some money.”

Susan’s goal in coming to Mount Hermon was to find a publisher for her book. She has been writing devotions for twenty-five years. She tells us that she’s always enjoyed writing but didn’t have good grades for her essays in school. In 1988, her husband, Ross, was diagnosed with cancer and she needed a distraction. She began to take writing seriously and completed a couple of writing courses at the local community center.

A few years later, after his recovery, Ross went into pastoral ministry. One of the job requirements at their first church was to write a devotion for the church’s weekly newsletter. Ross told the leadership Susan was a better writer; he gave the job to her. She’s been writing devotions ever since.

“After some time, I sensed that God was telling me to write a book. As I said earlier, I thought it was a crazy idea. I didn’t have anything to say, or so I thought. I became aware that God wanted me to turn my devotions into a book, but not as a compilation,” Susan says.

She goes on, “I tend to write about particular themes in my devotions, such as God’s grace and his love. I felt God wanted me to write about these themes, using the ideas from my devotions. I wasn’t that excited.

“I told God, it was a crazy idea and how would I ever get it published anyway? Nevertheless, the idea wouldn’t go away. I wasn’t employed at the time and since I didn’t have much else to do, I wrote a book.”

Even though Susan has been to the United States before, she did have one fear about coming again. She tells, “One of my big fears about traveling to the conference was that I get lost easily. I tend to confuse my left and right. I’m the sort of person who can get lost in a shopping complex. For this reason, I planned to fly direct to the conference and back. However, my family persuaded me if I was going that far I should spend a few days sightseeing. So I flew to San Francisco five days prior to the conference.

“I managed to navigate my way around San Francisco fairly well until one day I caught the cable car to Lombard Street. Afterwards, my intention was to make my way back to the main shopping area. However, first I had to decide which direction I needed to go and then which side of the street to stand on to catch the cable car. In Australia, we drive on the left-hand side of the road. I crossed the intersection three times and ended up almost back where I started before I was confident I was in the right place!”

When asked about the highlight of her trip, Susan says, “The highlight of the conference and the trip was the opportunity to talk to publishers and editors informally over meals and at workshops. From these discussions, I learned a lot about what I need to do to get my work published.”

Get to know Susan at her website https://www.susanbarneswriter.com/

Do you want to have the opportunity to talk to publishers and editors informally over meals and around the conference grounds? Come to Mount Hermon Writers Conference. Register here.

And, don’t forget about the First-Timers Contest. Ten winners will receive a full scholarship. Deadline December 30, 2017.