Posts Categorized: Writers Conference

Dangle Your Modifiers In Someone Else’s Fairytale, Por Favor

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tired dragon resting on books

by Carrie Talbott

Once upon a time there was a faculty member—the fairest smarty pants in all the camp. “Kill the adverbs and avoid split infinitives.”

Totally nodding my head in agreement, wise instructor lady. Love your class so far, but if you call on me I might have to break up with you and slip out the double doors.

Your basic writers’ conference gives you tools to become a better writer. Tips to hook your reader. Insights to hone your craft.

The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference gives you a whole lot more than basic. And when one of your instructors is the Senior Acquisitions Editor from David C. Cook, you are clearly not in English 101.

Her split infinitives were plenty for this simple writer. But when overachievers in the class started showing off their grammar skills, we who just want to write glazed over and slumped down.

Feel free to look these up if you want to thoroughly kiss up to impress an editor or aggressively bore your neighbor.

  • Independent and relative clauses,
  • Third conditional sentences,
  • Imperfect past participle,
  • Quantifiers of relative quantity.

Um, what? Totally impressed, old guy in the front. But I don’t need a play-by-play of your dramatic narrative nonfiction and how you used quantum physics in your life to manifest what you wanted while using the above list.

Spacing out now …

Craving an adjective? I gotcha covered. Need a verb? I’m your girl. Beyond that—not so much. Of course, life would be lovely if I actually knew what each of those intimidating terms meant and how to use them while I write, but alas, I do not.

I got almost straight A’s through every English class; why didn’t these rules stick? My normal routine includes hitting “Control N,” staring at a blank screen and clickety-clacking my way through new ideas. Now I wonder if I’m doing it wrong.

What’s “it,” Carrie? Don’t write like that—you know better.

Do I?

I’ve got an idea, future editor of my future book… how ‘bout I write the stories and you let me know if I ever breach the English 909 rules. This will be our relationship.

When we moved on from the über overwhelming parts of the classes to the helpful, practical parts, I woke up and sponged.

“Avoid clichés like the plague.”
Yessss. That’s as refreshing as water in the desert.

“Show, don’t tell.”
I’m trying. I mean, I tried. Err … I will try.

“Write your introduction last.”
Okay. Seems awkwardly backward for Type-As, but okay.

“Don’t use words like ‘awkwardly.’”
You’re losing me.       

“Practice B.I.C. (Butt In Chair)”
Woohoo—I’m doing this right now!

“Have you thanked Jesus for unanswered prayer?”
Uhh—no. But I could!

And on I went, typing with focus, ignoring my insecurities, ready to attack my new challenges. After five days of this, however, my soaked sponge clocked out and I continued on autopilot.

Don’t curl up in the back, just take copious notes and absorb when you get home.

In the midst of grammar chaos, I snagged a few quotes from our fantastic instructors and speakers. Don’t have to be a writer to love these….

Favorite Quotes

      • “Show up and serve.”  ~ Kathi Lipp
        “Develop a heart of integrity. Don’t allow jealousy to fester. Remain humble. Surround yourself with friends who hold you accountable.”  ~ Carol Kent
        “Our failures only matter when we allow them to prevent God from embracing us.”  ~ Mick Silva
        “There is still room for your voice.” ~ Alice Crider
        “When God is about to bring up a new thing, Satan is usually about to bring up an old thing.”  ~ Susie Larson
        “There will always be trolls; develop thick skin now. Is this your call from God? Then get back up and move on.”  ~ Bill Giovannetti

In addition to the wise writers and editors, I met a multitude of conferees who surprised me with their stories and encouraged me through mine. They wrote about everything from sexual abuse and politics, to alcohol addiction, psychotherapy, and autism.

We exchanged business cards like cute little author nerds and agreed to connect in cyberspace. Not in the midst of the fourteen-hour days though—once we all got home and decompressed from the lack of sleep and firehose learning.

I learned more. I feel smarter. Maybe not compared to those of you who know what modifiers are and why you shouldn’t dangle them, but smarter than two weeks ago. And I’m more motivated than ever to continue writing thanks to Mount Hermon and the rad faculty members.

Will I return next year? Heck yeah!

I mean yes. Lord willing, yes.

And they all wrote happily, forever, with laughter.

The End.

photo of carrie TalbottRecent transplants from twelve years in Baja, Mexico, Carrie now lives in California with her husband and two boys. Raised in the forest at a Christian camp, Carrie’s heart is for young women and all things wood. She has a children’s book about bullying, writes for magazines, and is currently collaborating on a memoir about grit and resiliency while outlining a book about their rough and zany years in full-time ministry. Carrie is dedicated to Jesus and avocados, and blogs regularly about hope and how-to’s with a splash of wit at carrietalbottink.com. She can also be found on Instagram @carrie_talbott_ink, on Twitter @carrie_talbott and on Facebook at Carrie Talbott Ink. She believes normal is boring and weirder is better.

Get Ready for That Appointment

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by Susan K. Stewart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Susan Stewart

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

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

Writing on the Deepest Places

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lady walking in fall leaves

by Kelly Harrel

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

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

I found a lump. Please pray.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

kelly harrell

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

Get Your Professional Head Shot

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photographer's camera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Writers Conference with More

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dining hall

Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference is one of the premier conferences in the United States. It offers a wide variety of opportunities for all writers, no matter level of experience or genre. It is one of the few conferences that also has a variety of other chances for fellowship, worship, and recreation.

Night Owls

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights the night owls have an opportunity to tell their story, hear a concert, learn writing software, and more. The Night Owl Sessions are held from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Worship

“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12 ESV). As writers, we have the opportunity to be bold in our message. We are also called to be bold in worshiping the source of our message. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday open with Prayer and Praise led by Karen Ball. Sunday morning there will be an early morning hike to the cross, as well as Palm Sunday worship and communion service.

Fellowship

Food and beverages spark social interaction. Meal times, of course, are a good time to meet new friends and catch up with those we’ve known for a while.  The conference starts on Friday afternoon with

  • First Timers Orientation (1:45 p.m.)
  • Returners Reunion (1:45 p.m.)
  • Meet and Greet (3 p.m.) This will be the time to make appointments with faculty members.

On Monday evening, after Award night and General Session, the bookstore is open for an autograph party.

Each evening refreshments are served and the bookstore is open. This is a good time to unwind and make new friends. What’s more fun than discussing books with other writers?

Recreational Options

  • Go Kayaking on Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon, and/or Monday morning. (Free for conferees!)
  • Take a small-group Nature Hike on our campus trails Sunday afternoon. (Free for conferees!)
  • Go on a Guided Mountain Bike Ride through the beautiful Henry Cowell State Park on Sunday afternoon. (Free for conferees!)

Other activities include the Sequoia Aireal Adventure, Redwood Canopy Tour, and more. Details are here.

The Fieldhouse will open on Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon for foosball, pool, air hockey, ping pong, basketball, volleyball, and more

Bookstores

The Mount Hermon Bookstore and conference bookstore will be open each day with products from faculty members and attendees. (Did I mention an autograph party on Monday evening?)

Want a Professional Head Shot or Video?

If you don’t have a high-quality head shot, or if it’s been a while since you had yours taken, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity we’re offering this year.

The professional Mount Hermon photographers will be doing photo shoots at the conference for a very reasonable price. $75 for a 20-minute photo shoot in one or two locations, including digital photos. Sign up for a photo session will be at the Thursday Meet and Greet.

New this year is the opportunity to work with a professional videographer to create a three-to-five minute video for your website or social media. Each session is sixty minutes and customized for each individual. Sessions must be scheduled in advance. E-mail arsenaultkendra@gmail.com.

Check out the details of both of these opportunities.

 

Take a look at the schedule and plan now for learning, friendship, recreation, and worship.

Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Opportunity

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a promise of rain book

by John Vonhof
Manuscript Retrieval Coordinator

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

Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Guidelines

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

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

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

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

    What to Include

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

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

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

    Choosing Whom to Review or Critique Your Manuscripts

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

    Digital Pre-Conference Manuscript Submissions

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

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

    If you wish to submit to any of these faculty members, please send your submission in a Word file to me at 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, March 19.

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

    Packaging and Sending Your Manuscripts

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

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

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

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

    Deadline for Pre-Conference Submissions

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

    When You’ll Get Your Manuscripts Back

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

    Submissions After the Conference has Started

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

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

    The Manuscript Retrieval Team

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

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. (Deadline for application is tomorrow, March 1.)

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 another and from a published author. In the Fiction Morning Mentoring Clinics at Mount Hermon, authors Gail Roper (contemporary), Lindsey Franklin (fantasy and speculative), Joanne Bischof (romance), Ginny Yttrup (crossover), 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 two 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 is tomorrow, March 1.

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!

 

 

 

Dream Bigger Dreams

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the word dream with pencil

by Allen Arnold

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

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

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

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

I have much better advice.

It’s actually time to dream bigger dreams.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.