Posts Categorized: Writers Conference

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

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

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

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.


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

Attendee Learns from Informal Conversations

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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

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.

Something New at the Writers Conference

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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.

First-Timers Contest Open

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by Susan K. Stewart

I pulled my suitcase from the carousel, turned, and looked for the sign to direct me to the shuttle. I may have looked like any other traveler. Or maybe I didn’t. I’m sure what I felt inside showed on my face. “I’m almost there!” A forty-five-minute drive is all that was left.

As others chatted in the van, I watched as the city started to give way to the lush hills. Soon the van left the freeway to start a curvy two-lane road up the California coastal mountains. Trees became the predominant scenery. I began to recognize landmarks along the way. As the van topped the summit, I was awed to see the restaurant we used to stop at when I was a child traveling the same route to Santa Cruz.

Finally, the turn to the conference center. Not far now. I made it. I finally made it.

Attending writers’ conferences is an annual event, sometimes twice a year, a local conference and a regional one. But THE conference for me was always Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. I stepped off the van, looked around. I’m here! My brain shouted.

Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference had long been a dream. Let’s face it, though. It is a pricey conference. I knew when God’s time was right, he would provide what was needed for me to attend. And he did. (Why are we often surprised when God does great things for us?)

If like me, you have prayed for the opportunity to attend this premiere conference, then the Mount Hermon First-Timers Contest may be it.

Ten winners will receive a full scholarship, including economy lodging and meals. The contest is open to unpublished and published writers who have never attended. There is no fee to enter. The deadline is December 30, 2017.

The entry can be an article, blog post, fiction or non-fiction book manuscript, or poetry. The piece does not need to be overtly Christian but must have a Judeo-Christian worldview. Complete entry submission details are at the Mount Hermon Christian Conference website, click here.

God wants to do great things for us. For many writers, a major conference, such as Mount Hermon may be that great thing. Prayerful consider entering the First-Timers Contest and you too can enjoy the excitement of that trip up the mountain.

Susan StewartWhen she’s not tending chickens, peacocks, and donkeys, Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Susan’s passion is to inspire readers with practical, real-world solutions. Her books include Science in the Kitchen and Preschool: At What Cost? plus the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers. You can learn more at her website

Christy Awards Gala Upcoming

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Upon hearing the news that her short novel Restoring Christmas is a 2017 Christy award finalist, Cynthia Ruchti raised her face to the sky, clasped her hands to her heart, and said, “I can explain hard work. I can explain that God gives the gift of storytelling. But I cannot…ever…explain the outrageous favor of God.”

Restoring Christmas is Cynthia’s second Christy finalist. Last year her novel As Waters Gone By was also a finalist.

Established in 1999, the Christy Awards have come to represent the best aspirations and accomplishments of authors who write from a perspective of faith. The award was named in honor of Catherine Marshall’s novel, Christy, published in 1967.

Christy has sold more than ten million copies since its first publication, earning the rank of national best seller in August 1968, a rare feat for a Christian novel.

Independent publisher Joanne Bischof was walking on her treadmill when she received the news that her novel, The Lady and The Lionheart, is a Christy finalist this year. She says “[I was] trying to shut it down and get off all at the same time as the news was being relayed to me so it took me a few moments for my brain to engage with what was happening!” Two previous books of Joanne’s were also finalists.

When asked about the Christy Awards and nomination, Cynthia Ruchti said, “It’s been an honor to have books recognized by industry awards. From the first one, I have placed my Bible over the physical award and prayed, ‘Jesus, help me always see this through Your Word.’ I have a Christy finalist medal from last year for As Waters Gone By. This year’s honor is at least as humbling. Maybe even more so. The legacy of the Christy Award program has had me applauding for other authors and publishers for years. I’m still applauding, including for the quality judges who invest their time and diligence in finding meaning in the pages.”

Both authors say it’s the story that matters. Joanne advises, “Write the best book you can.” Cynthia tell us, “A great story is not a writer’s solo effort. It is communication among the author, the characters, the reader, and the God of story, the Author of our faith.”

Joanne offers this advice to independently published authors: “Study the craft, read good fiction, and develop a writing style that is true to your heart and one that readers can engage with. Hone your marketing skills, put careful thought into a strong cover and polished product, learn who your audience is, and connect with them on a true and authentic level. Beyond that, I suggest trusting the process and embracing the unique role that books, and authors, serve in the Christian fiction market.”

Both authors remind us that it’s the grace and provision of God that allows them to write these award-nominated novels. “No matter where you land (and believe me, I have been rock bottom before with many, many rejections),” Joanne commented, “hold on to the hope that God doesn’t make mistakes, and the refining process is only going to equip you to be a better storyteller and a more tenderhearted author for your readers.”

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) acquired the Christy Awards in 2016. The program gives awards in nine categories plus naming one novel “Book of the Year.” Members of ECPA see value in this prestigious Christian fiction recognition program. The ECPA board and Christy Award advisory board have an aggressive plan to bring out the best of Christian fiction.

The award announcements will be made at The Art of Writing Conference  and Christy Award Celebration Gala on November 8 in Nashville. Registration for both events is open until November 8. Register for either event separately, or both for just $99.