“My agent, Les Stobbe, had some sage guidance for me from day one. A bit of wisdom that I recommend every writer follow was “go to a writer’s conference.” He offered me two that were coming up soon and I chose the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference, near Santa Cruz, California at Mount Hermon Christian Camps & Conference Center. What a great bit of advice from Les! I had always considered these gatherings to be for writer groupies and critique groups. I was so wrong. Mount Hermon exposed me to a dozen interested editors and that networking was the catalyst to get my work into print. In the many seminars and editor meetings that I attended in those critical five days, I found that often a publisher buys the author as well as the book. A conference gives you the chance to interface with people who are seeking an author that will be a draw for audiences in the marketing phase, and an author who can articulate the message of his or her manuscript. Mount Hermon was a watershed event in my publishing process.”
Thanks, Austin, for your great comments. And the rest of you . . . have a great weekend!
This is the first blog I’ve written in a week and a half having been visited with the respiratory flu bug. Not fun . . . but while I was “resting” I read something C. S. Lewis wrote that I thought was perfect for the writers blog, so here it is–Enjoy!
1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
2. Always prefer the clean direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “more people died” don’t say “mortality rose.”
4. In writing, don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please, will you do my job for me?”
5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
So there you have it, in Clive Lewis’s own words! If you can pull that off you’ll be a much better writer than you presently are. Go for it!
One of our Writers Conference faculty, B. J. Taylor, sent this blog today. Enjoy!
When the professional photographer set up a fan and started blowing my hair around I wanted to yell STOP. Wind-blown hair, flying all over the place, that’s just not me. It felt uncomfortable. It felt like I wasn’t in control–every strand of hair wasn’t perfectly in place. It felt well, different. But I told myself it was okay to stretch, to take a leap of faith, to stick my neck out there…to blow in the wind. So I let her take the shots. And I looked at them when she was done. Hmmm…I liked it. I was out of my comfort zone, but it felt kind of good.
I wondered if I was in a comfort zone with my writing. Reach out and try new markets? That would be too scary. Speak at a women’s event? Goosebumps would break out all over my body. Write a novel? Too daunting to even think about.
But what am I getting by doing what I’ve always done? I’m getting the same thing as always. So for 2009 will you join me? Let’s take some chances, fly with the wind, dare to risk. Let’s stick our necks out. Here’s a list of some of the things you might try:
Write a book proposal for that idea you have.
Speak at an event, or join a speaker’s bureau, to get your feet wet.
Make an appointment to talk to an editor or agent at a conference.
Submit to three new markets.
Begin to work on your novel (you know you’ve been thinking about it!).
Take a class to beef up your writing skills.
Join a writers group.
What else can you think of that is outside of your comfort zone? It might be a little scary and feel quite uncomfortable, but pretty soon if you keep doing it you’ll become more and more at ease with stretching, growing, and blowing in the wind.
Fly with me in 2009. And if you want accountability, send me a quick email to tell me WHAT you plan to do…and then as Nike says, “Just Do It!
I just uploaded the form on the web that helps registrants know what the publishers, editors and freelancers want to see and are willing to critique. It’s the most important form for writers to see so they can make intelligent decisions as to what person they want to peruse/critique their pre-conference manuscripts. Have at it, writers!
Keep praying for more writers to sign up even though the economy is difficult at the moment. We’re excited about what God wants to do through this time together.
Thanks so much,
Rachel Williams Director, Christian Writers Conference
The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference has long been the standard by which all others are judged. I attended their first more than 30 years ago and have been back nearly 20 times. It’s been a kick to see it grow.
It may seem strange for someone who hosts his own writing conference every year to, in essence, endorse the “competition.” But I’ll admit it: Our Christian Writers Guild’s Writing for the Soul conference patterns itself largely after the Mount Hermon conference. It was there I learned especially the value of a deep lineup of workshops and exposure to book and magazine editors and veteran authors to evaluate manuscripts and counsel people on their writing futures.
Mount Hermon also offers inspirational keynote speakers and great music, and the friendships and professional relationships begun there can last a lifetime. My entire adult life has been immerced in writing, editing, and publishing, and I still like to attend writers conferences as a conferee. No matter where a writer is in his or her journey, we all need to remain lifetime students of the craft.
Jerry B. Jenkins
New York Times best-selling author of the Left Behind books and Riven; owner of the Christian Writers Guild
I cannot begin to recommend the Mount Hermon Writers Conference enough! It’s always held Psalm Sunday weekend in the awe-inspiring redwood forests of CA. I credit this conference (God-inspired, of course) for landing my contract with Multnomah for my passion book, Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer.
Just so you know, I didn’t sign a contract there, but met the editor who would champion my book all the way to a contract. Networking is invaluable, especially these days when many publishing houses will not accept freelance work. It pays to know someone. Editors are looking for fresh talent at conferences. That is one major reason they participate. When you send in a query and submission to a publishing house and can say you met the editor at Mount Hermon’s Writers Conference, you’ll most likely get your project looked at.
So I encourage you to go to Mount Hermon’s Writers Conference. You will learn tons, make invaluable contacts, and begin wonderful new friendships. It’s not cheap, but nothing worthwhile is. If you can’t go this year, start saving your pennies for next year.
There are a number of wonderful conferences out there, but this one, hands-down is the best–la creme de la creme! And what other conference could beat those renowned redwood trees? Go for it!
One of our faculty members for the Head Start Mentoring Clinic sent in this e-mail this morning and a new video to encourage those of you who might not have considered this opportunity. Here is what she says in her own words:
I created this new video for the Mount Hermon Head Start Mentoring program that falls right before the conference April 1—3.
First off: No, I’m not going to make a career out of writing conference promotional videos!
But, I am really passionate about this mentoring program, offered right before the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. If you know of beginning to intermediate writers who would benefit from some one-to-one and group mentoring prior to the conference, consider steering them toward this clinic. It’s not often folks get to have a professional critique your work, help guide a career, and learn from other writers. This is a unique opportunity.
Check the Mount Hermon website for all conference information, forms and instructions you need to register. By the way, I’m one of the nonfiction mentors for Head Start, so if you’re writing nonfiction, there’s a good chance we might get to work together!
Got a little boost from Books & Such Literary Agency in Santa Rosa, CA this morning when Rachel Zurakowski (one of our faculty members for the upcoming conference and YA agent) wrote a little blurb about her participation. Thanks, Rachel!
This is a wonderful video taken in 2007 by a writer who attended Mount Hermon Writers Conference. It has such a joyful feel to it and will give you a very clear picture of the beauty of Mount Hermon’s campus, as well as the fun and learning that’s available for participants.
We’ve coming of age! Mount Hermon is now “blogging” with everyone else out there. Intentional information for writers, available writers resources, testimonials from published authors who got their start at Mount Hermon Writers Conferences in the past, and a myriad of other articles by and for writers will be posted here from this point on. We’ll be posting several times a week . . . hopefully you’ll subscribe to our blog and we’ll become a regular part of your blog reading, an encouragement to your call to write, and a viable resource for you. We welcome your comments to this new venue.
Our April 3-7, 2009 Writers Conference Children’s Writing Track Instructor (WOW, that was a mouthful!), Mona Hodgson, sent me a wonderful testimonial today and I wanted to share it with you . . .
“I can’t say that I had a dream to write. It felt more like a nudge . . . even a nagging. Be that as it may, I felt compelled to explore the possibilities. That’s what took me to my very first writers’ conference–Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference in April, 1988. I’ve been a loyal fan ever since. Little did I know, as I took those first shakey steps, how crucial that conference would turn out to be for my 21 years (and still counting) writing career and ministry.”