Posts Categorized: Writers Conference

How About Asking for Writers Conference Help This Christmas?

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A month before Christmas??  Where has 2009 gone?

I’ve been thinking that perhaps the best Christmas gift anyone could receiver this year (other than Salvation and a loving family) would be money given toward Mount Hermon Writers Conference!  Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Do you have several family members who have asked you what you want for Christmas this year?  Perhaps  several could go together to give a substantial amount toward your conference registration?  Think about it.

We’ll do all we can on this end to make it valuable for your writing career as well as supply the eternal value, too.   Count on us to do our part.  Might be the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received.

Here’s to a Writers Conference Fund gift this Christmas.  Hope to see you in 2010.  It’s going to be wonderful.

A Few Fun Details of 2010 Writers Conference

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Has it really been since May that I’ve written on the blog? Must rectify this!

2010 Faculty are all invited –a very exciting group of people will be here to teach and facilitate this coming event. We have some first time faculty who will bring some new flavors to what is already wonderful.  There will be an Internet Major Morning Track besides a Sci-Fi/Speculative Fiction Major Morning Track . . . things we’ve never done in the longer training sessions. Prolific fiction author and teacher, Tricia Goyer, will be teaching the Teen Track which should be great fun! One of her writing students won the Most Promising Writer award last year at 17 years old and has a contract for her first historical novel with a well-known publisher!

Awards continue to grow . . . this year we’ve added a new award for the  Most Promising Teen Writer! Are there any home schoolers out there who have a group of students that like to write?  Let’s get them motivated to start saving to come to this amazing conference where they’ll be well trained in the craft of writing.   Come on, gang. Get writing!

And we have a NEW Fiction Contest as well. B&H Publishing Group is sponsoring a contest for “adding an additional ending” to Leanna Ellis’s new book, Blue Moon, which comes out in February 2010.  Length of entries is limited to 3500 words. If you’re interested, purchase your book at the first of February and read it, then get your pencil sharpened (well, you computer techies know I’m speaking in a figure of speech) and “get the lead out” on the paper so you can turn your best idea in by March 1st.  I know it doesn’t give you much time, but you can do it.  Writers need goals, right?  Details are up on the website–click “forms” at the top menu, then on “General Info for Writers” under that.  Check it out.  The winner will have some pretty wonderful opportunities.

In the meantime, continue to save your money and motivate some of your writing friends to do the same. Let’s pack the place out . . . for your creative growth and His sake!

TEEN TRACK for 2010 WRITERS STARTING TO FILL

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Yeah!! Our first 10 teens are registering right now for the Teen Track at our 2010 Writers Conference! Students from Turlock Christian School in Turlock, CA are selling muffins in the mornings and ads for the school newspaper to raise the money they need to come to the Conference. They are so excited and their English teacher, Lyn Thompson, is thrilled. So are WE! Years ago Oliver Wendell Holmes said when a mind is stretched by new insight, it can never return to it’s original dimensions! It will be a life changing experience for them.

Do you know of any other Christian Schools who would be interested in sending high schoolers to the Writers Conference? I’m happy to work with them on ideas for raising funds. If they get started right now it will be possible for them, and what an exciting experience to watch them work hard at raising the funds to make this happen. Contact me at rachel.williams@mounthermon.org.

And, are the rest of you working on saving a little each month so that 2010 can be a packed house? You won’t be sorry you did.

Have a wonderful week.

Teen Track Growing Already for 2010 Writers

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Today I had a phone call from a Christian school teacher who is already planning on bringing her journalism class to the Teen Track at the Spring Writers Conference!!!! I’m so excited. She is planning on starting the school year off with cupcake sales each Friday to start raising money right out of the shoot! What a great idea. Yeah, Mrs. Thompson!

Are there more folks out there who have connections with Christian school administrators, or English department heads that could so some “word-of-mouth” marketing for us? It would be great to have a whole lot of teenagers here learning along with all us adults, wouldn’t it? If you have any ideas, or can connect me with administrators who might have the authority to let students take the time away from school and perhaps even get credit for it, let me know. Happy to talk with them. My e-mail is Rachel.williams@mounthermon.org or my direct phone is 831-430-1238. Let’s fill the place . . . and gain a huge increase in teens for 2010.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

2010 Writers Conference Keynoter Announced

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Charlie Peacock may be best known for his creativity as a singer-songwriter, pianist, record producer, but in addition to his successful music career, he is a published author, speaker and noted expert at the intersection of Christianity and the Arts.

Charlie’s writing includes the discipleship book, New Way to Be Human, and his analysis of Christian music, At The Crossroads, both published by Waterbrook Press/Random House.  As a columnist, Charlie has writtten for CCM, Christian Musician, and Worshipper Magazines, with articles in ByFaith, Prism, and Re:generation Quarterly.  He has also been cited in First Things, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Mix, Electronic Musician, Keyboard Magazine, Billboard, CCM, Melody Maker, Details, Publishers Weekly, Paste, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and others.

Sara Groves:  “I like a lot of things about Charlie Peacock, but my favorite thing is his joy.  It pours out into his music, production, writing and friendships.  He is preoccupied with the Kingdom, how it works, and how it is meant to come to us, and because of this, his books, his music and his life are full of fruit and clues about kingdom living.”

Denis D. Haack, Ransom Fellowship, editor of Critique:  “Few people have the necessary gifts to communicate wonder in both music and words, and Charlie Peacock is one of those rare artists.  In both the poetry of his lyrics and the thoughtful prose of his books, he asks just the right questions so that we see more deeply.  Those hungry to be fully human will gravitate to New Way to Be Human, not because Charlie is clever (though he is), but because his heart and imagination is aflame with The Story that brings both grace and hope in our fragmented world.”

Charlie and his wife, author Andi Ashworth, co-founded Art House America in 1990 — a ministry of hospitality, art, and Christian studies, whose primary mission is the advancement of the integration of arts and the Christian faith for the benefit of the Church and the culture at large.

Rachel Williams Co-author for Don Miller’s New Book?

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How do you feel about viral marketing?

I first read a couple of months ago that one of our Writers Conference alumni, Mary Hampton, was a “co-author” to Don’s new book. Wow! I fell for it and congratulated Mary on FB. Then this morning on FB I saw that another alumni and mentor for our Head Start mentoring clinic this spring, Tricia Goyer, was the co-author! Being exceptionally bright, I murmured, “Something’s fishy here.”

I did some research and, behold, Thomas Nelson personnel blogging about “You too can be a co-author with Don Miller”! Fill in the blanks and add a comment about working with Don — and “walla” . . . Don’s wakky idea for marketing to get the title of his book out there in the public. So I said to myself, “Self, why not just for fun? And make it silly so people would know it was a joke.”

Check it out at: Rachel Williams Co-author for Don Miller’s New Book

How close to the line should we go for marketing? Does this sell books or merely bring laughs and build community around humor? Good questions to ponder in your spare time today. Let me know how you feel about this.

Totally apart from viral marketing . . . how are you doing on your saving program for 2010 Writers? Faculty are already being invited and I’m waiting for some specific information on our keynote speaker so that I can let the secret out. It’s going to be something special and different. Can’t wait. Hope you’re excited, too. Check the website in the next couple of weeks for the denouement!

Looking toward 2010

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Cherry blossoms have now been replaced by the most glorious array of dogwood blossoms I’ve ever seen at Mount Hermon!  Wish you could see them.  I love that God puts on such a display of His glory right around the time of Writers Conference every year.

Didn’t we have an amazing 2009 Writers Conference?!  God was so evident in our midst and a palpable sense of peace pervaded everything that went on.  Bill Butterworth knocked it out of the park with his motivational/Biblical general sessions, Dave Talbott and Dave Burn’s worship times were wonderful, while instruction and mentoring were life-changing.  The teen track added fun and laughter to the whole with their full-campus espionage game played in costume Saturday evening.  They even put on foreign accents.  Funniest thing — the kids were so authentic they actually fooled our Mount Hermon security guards who stopped them for questioning!  :>)

We’re already planning for next year and are excited to be able to put up specific information on the web as soon as we have confirmation of our keynoter. One new thing we’re working on is pre-registration for those of you who would like to secure your place while you save for the 2010 conference through the rest of this year.  Be watching the website for updates on this.  It’s the first time we’ve offered this option.

In the next little while we’ll have the CD/MP3 form up for anyone desirous of ordering individual workshops/tracks/general sessions from the recent Writers Conference.  It’s a great way to continue learning during the year.  And they’re exceedingly reasonable.  Even if you weren’t able to come this year you may purchase them.  Watch the web for the little icon that will lead you to the form.  We should be receiving the audio masters in a few weeks from OT Studios and then I’ll get the form finished and uploaded, hopefully by May 15th.

Can’t wait to see you all again.  Have a fabulous summer and fall, and make sure you’re encouraging friends and new writers to start saving for 2010.  A little bit of cash put away each week will enable you to be ready to come March 26, 2010.  It will be life-changing, as you well know.  In the meantime, I’ll meet you on FB and Twitter !

Blessings!

40th Writer’s Conference Anniversary

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We’re a week away from our 40th Writer’s Conference Anniversary!! Can you believe it?  And I’ve been thinking a lot about the present economy and its effect on writing in general, and publishing in specifics.

–I read the first-time CBE event in Dallas over the weekend was expecting 10,000 registrants and came in with less than a third of that! Is it just the economy?

–Amazon.com just came out with it’s second version of the Kindle making it possible to download and read any book out there. Will this cut into the publishing business? And the business of literary agents?

One of our Mount Hermon executive staff members cut an article out of the Time Magazine from February and gave it to me to read . . . I wonder what you’re thoughts are about it.  Read it and think laterally for the future of writing!  Willing to share your thoughts and creative ideas for the future of Writes Conferences?

Excerpts from an article in Time Magazine, February 2, 2009, pg. 71-73

Written by Lev Grossman and reported by Andrea Sachs.

“…The publishing industry is in distress. Publishing houses—among them Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Doubleday and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt—are laying off staff left and right. Random House is in the midst of a drastic reorganization. Salaries are frozen across the industry. Whispers of bankruptcy are fluttering around Borders; Barnes and Noble just cut 100 jobs at its headquarters, a measure unprecedented in the company’s history. Publishers Weekly (PW) predicts that 2009 will be “the worst year for publishing in decades.”

A lot of headlines and blogs to the contrary, publishing isn’t dying. But it is evolving, and so radically that we may hardly recognize it when it’s done. . . .

What’s the Matter with Publishing?

It isn’t the audience. People are still reading. According to a National Endowment for the Arts study released Jan. 12, literary reading by adults has actually increased 3.5% since 2002, the first such increase in 26 years. So that’s not the problem. What is?

The economy, obviously. Plenty of businesses are hurting . . . (but) publishing has deeper, more systemic problems, like the fact that its business model evolved during an earlier fiscal era. It’s an antique, a financial coelacanth (def. no real commercial value, apart from being coveted by museums and private collectors) that dates back to the Depression.

Consider the advance system, whereby a publisher pays an author a nonreturnable up-front fee for a book. If the book doesn’t “earn out,” in the industry parlance, the publisher simply eats the cost. Another example: publishers sell books to bookstores on a consignment system, which means the stores can return unsold books to publishers for a full refund. Publishers suck up the shipping costs both ways, plus the expense of printing and then pulping the merchandise. . . . These systems are created to shift risk away from authors and bookstores and onto publishers. But risk is something the publishing industry is less and less able to bear.

If you think about it, shipping physical books back and forth across the country is starting to seem pretty 20th century. Novels are getting restless, shrugging off their expensive papery husks and transmigrating digitally into other forms. Devices like the Sony Reader and Amazon’s Kindle have gained devoted followings. Google has scanned more than 7 million books into its online database; the plan is to scan them all, every single one, within 10 years. Writers podcast their books and post them, chapter by chapter, on blogs. Four of the five best-selling novels in Japan in 2007 belonged to an entirely new literary form called keitai shosetsu: novels written, and read, on cell phones. Compared with the time and cost of replicating a digital file and shipping it around the world—i.e., zero and nothing—printing books on paper feels a little Paleolithic.

And speaking of advances, books are also leaving behind another kind of paper: money! Those cell-phone novels are generally written by amateurs and posted on free community websites, by the hundreds of thousands, with no expectation of payment. For the first time in modern history, novels are becoming detached from dollars. They’re circulating outside the economy that spawned them.

And there’s a staggering amount of fan fiction, fan-written stories based on fictional worlds and characters borrowed from popular culture—Star Trek, Jane Austen, Twilight, you name it. It qualifies as a literary form in its own right. Fanfiction.net hosts 386,490 short stories, novels and novellas in its Harry Potter section alone.

No printing and shipping. No advances. Maybe publishing will survive after all. Then again, if you can have publishing without paper and without money, why not publishing without publishers?

Vanity of Vanities, All Is Vanity

. . . It’s true. Saying you were a self-published author used to be like saying you were a self-taught brain surgeon. But it has begun to shed its stigma. Over the past couple of years, vanity publishing has become practically respectable. As the technical challenges have decreased—you can turn a Word document on your hard drive into a self-published novel on Amazon’s Kindle store in about five minutes—so has the stigma . . . . The fact that William P. Young’s The Shack was initially self-published hasn’t stopped it from spending 34 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.

Daniel Suarez, a software consultant in LA, sent his techno-thriller Daemon to 48 literary agents. No go. So he self-published instead. Bit by bit, bloggers got behind Daemon. Eventually Random House noticed and bought it and a sequel for a sum in the high six figures. “I really see a future in doing that,” Suarez says, “where agencies would monitor the performance of self-published books, in a sort of Darwinian selection process, and see what bubbles to the surface. I think of it as crowd-sourcing the manuscript-submission process.”

. . . And there’s actual demand for this stuff. In theory, publishers are gatekeepers: they filter literature so that only the best writing gets into print . . . but (self-publishing would suggest) that there are cultural sectors that conventional publishing isn’t serving. We can read in the rise of self-publishing not only a technological revolution but also a quiet cultural one—an audience rising up to claim its right to act as a tastemaker too.

The Orchard and the Jungle

So if the economic and technological changes of the 18th century gave rise to the modern novel, what’s the 21st century giving us? Well, we’ve gone from industrialized printing to electronic replication so cheap, fast and easy, it greases the skids of literary production to the point of frictionlessness. From a modern capitalist marketplace, we’ve moved to a postmodern, postcapitalist bazaar where money is increasingly optional. And in place of a newly minted literate middle class, we now have a global audience of billions, with a literacy rate of 82% and rising.

Put those pieces together, and the picture begins to resolve itself: more books, written and read by more people, often for little or no money, circulating in a wild diversity of forms, both physical and electronic, far outside the charmed circle of New York City’s entrenched publishing culture. Old Publishing is stately, quality-controlled and relatively expensive. New Publishing is cheap, promiscuous and unconstrained by paper, money or institutional taste. If Old Publishing is, say, a tidy, well-maintained orchard, New Publishing is a riotous jungle: vast and trackless and chaotic, full of exquisite orchids and undiscovered treasures and a hell of a lot of noxious weeds.

Not that Old Publishing will disappear—for now, at least, it’s certainly the best way for authors to get the money and status they need to survive—but it will live on in a radically altered, symbiotic form as the small, pointy peak of a mighty pyramid. If readers want to pay for the old-school premium package, they can get their literature the old-fashioned way: carefully selected and edited, and presented in a bespoke, art-directed paper package. But below that there will be a vast continuum of other options: quickie print-on-demand editions and electronic editions for digital devises with a corresponding hierarchy of professional and amateur editorial selectiveness (Unpaid amateur editors have already hit the world of fan fiction, where they’re called beta readers.) The wide bottom of the pyramid will consist of a vast loamy layer of free, unedited, Web-only fiction, rated and ranked YouTube-style by the anonymous reading masses.

And what will that fiction look like? Like fan fiction, it will be ravenously referential and intertextual in ways that will strain copyright law to the breaking point. Novels will get longer—electronic books aren’t bound by physical constraints—and they’ll be patchable and updatable, like software. We’ll see more novels doled out sporadically, on the model of TV series or, for that matter, the serial novels of the 19th century. We can expect a literary culture of pleasure and immediate gratification. Reading on a screen speeds you up: you don’t linger on the language; you just click through. We’ll see less modernist-style difficulty and more romance-novel-style sentiment and high-speed-narrative throughput. Novels will compete to hook you in the first paragraph and then hang on for dear life.

None of this is good or bad; it just is. The books of the future may not meet all the conventional criteria for literary value that we have today, or any of them. But if that sounds alarming or tragic, go back and sample the righteous zeal with which people despised novels when they first arose. They thought novels were vulgar and immoral. And in a way they were, and that was what was great about them: they shocked and seduced people into new ways of thinking. These books will too. Somewhere out there is the self-publishing world’s answer to Defoe, and he’s probably selling books out of his trunk. But he won’t be for long.”

There you have it from the secular side of things. I’m not an alarmist, but this had made me do a lot of thinking. I’d love to know what you think about the future of publishing?

  • Is this writer accurate in his analysis?
  • How does this affect your own writing?
  • How does this affect Writers Conferences as we know them?

I’d love to “pick your brain” on this whole subject. Looking forward to interacting with you . . . on the Web, of course!

Author Austin Boyd Lauds Writers Conference

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“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!