Posts Tagged: Writers

Christy Award Finalists Announced

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image of christy award finalist

Hear ye! Hear ye! (sound of trumpets)
The announcement of … (more trumpets)

Each fall many Christian authors wait for the announcement of The Christy Award finalists. This year’s announcement made September 19 can be viewed at Nearly thirty Christian fiction books in nine categories are selected as finalists.

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) sponsors the book awards each year. It was established in 1999. The award was named in honor of Catherine Marshall’s bestselling novel, Christy.

The Christy Award Gala is being held November 7 at Lipscomb University in Nashville. ECPA is also offering The Art of Writing: A Focused Conference for Writers, Storytellers and Publishing Curators. The conference will be held in the afternoon before the gala. Speakers at the conference include Jerry Jenkins, Donald Miller, and Charles Martin, 2017 Christy Book of the Year winner.

The gala will feature authors Charles Martin, Francine Rivers, Carla Laureano, Sarah Arthur, and Cynthia Ruchti.
ECPA will also be celebrating the legacy of Madeleine L’Engle, author of more than sixty books including A Wrinkle in Time. This year is the 100th anniversary of L’Engle’s birth.

Registration is now open for both events. The fees are $69 for the conference, $69 for the gala, or $99 for both.

Seven Months and Counting

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Only seven months. That’s right. Only seven months until 2018 Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. We’re busy getting ready for you.

The main conference will be March 23 through 27, 2018 with the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic, March 21 to 23.

Liz Curtis HiggsLiz Curtis Higgs is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. Liz is the author of thirty-six books with 4.6 million copies in print, including her nonfiction best sellers, Bad Girls of the Bible, The Girl’s Still Got It, and The Women of Easter, and her Scottish historical novels, Here Burns My Candle and Mine Is the Night. She has spoken for Women of Faith, Women of Joy, Extraordinary Women, and 1,700 other women’s conferences in all fifty United States and fifteen foreign countries, including South Africa, Thailand, and Indonesia. Her messages are biblical, encouraging, down-to-earth, and profoundly funny. She has one goal: to help Christians embrace the grace of God with joy and abandon.

In addition to workshops, night owl sessions, and editor and agent appointments, the Morning Mentoring Clinics and Manuscript Review will be available again.

Registration is now open. It only takes a small deposit to reserve your spot.

To receive the latest information, subscribe to this blog and you will receive an email notification of each new post. Also, “like” the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference Facebook page.

We look forward to welcoming in 2018 to the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference.

Register Today

See Yourself as a Writer

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hand with pen writing

by Blythe Daniel

Over the years there have been messages I’ve heard from pastors or authors that really impacted or altered my thinking. And when it comes to our profession in writing, editing, publishing, and helping bridge writers with publishers, there is something I believe is pivotal to writers taking their place as authors.

See yourself as a writer. Imagine it and start seeing how God can use you. The verse that speaks to me in this is 2 Corinthians 4:18 where we are asked to see by faith. To see with our hearts when we can’t see it with our eyes yet. If we will pursue our calling as a writer, it will come to pass. You are the one to activate it. You have to imagine and walk in it.

During the writer’s conference, you will probably hear me and others ask about how you are doing this. Don’t be put off by this question but use it as a way to activate your path to becoming a writer. God told Abraham he would be a father of many nations and he would be blessed for generations to come. But Abraham had to activate his faith in that – it didn’t just happen

And so it is with your writing. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Our minds need to be consistently on Christ and our trust in Him – not a person or a process. God has more for you – so much more than you’ll probably ever be able to tap into. But it starts with imagining, fixing your mind on what it means to be a writer and rise up to that. If you think of yourself as “I might be a writer” then you might be. But if you say “I am a writer” you have grasped that which the Lord has for you. You cannot be what you haven’t given your mind to.

So during the conference, continue to set your sights on him and remember: You are a writer. Start seeing yourself as such and you will receive all that you’re supposed to from him during the conference and beyond. If you see it on the inside, you will start to see it on the outside. Don’t let anyone or anything hinder you from seeing who you are and what you are doing with the opportunities he has given you.

blythe daniel

Blythe Daniel is a literary agent and publicist. In addition to placing clients with publishers, she has had clients on the Today show and Fox News and featured in the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and others. Blythe was the publicity director for seven years at Thomas Nelson Publishers and marketing director for two years. She worked as the product development manager for New York Times best-selling authors John and Stasi Eldredge, and in 2005 Blythe started her agency. In early 2015 the agency launched their blogging network, which reaches several million through the bloggers and their followers.

The Power of a Mason Jar

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mason jar

by Marci Seither

“Are you going to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers conference this spring?” I asked Susan Gregory one day. I had volunteered to give her a ride to an event, and as we rode together we found out we shared a love of writing.

She told me it wasn’t in her budget but she hoped to attend one year. Despite having a book that she would love to see published, it seemed like her dream was beyond her reach.

I knew the feeling of having something you dream of doing, and even feel called to do, yet not seeing any way it could happen.

The first year I decided to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference I taught swim lessons and worked as a lifeguard all summer, putting the money I made into a mason jar designated for conference tuition. I knew it would take a lot of planning and sunscreen to pull it off.

My husband gave me money toward tuition in lieu of Christmas and birthday gifts, adding to my mason jar. I did a photo shoot for a friend, and in return, she surprised me by putting cash into my Mount Hermon fund. I managed to collect enough to attend the conference. I did the same thing for a few more years after that.

“Let your family and friends know you have a big dream,” I told Susan. “And start a conference fund for yourself.”

When we got to our destination, she handed me money for gas. I gave it back to her. “This is the first deposit in your conference fund.”

Eighteen months later, Susan’s face beamed as she walked down the redwood-lined path at Mount Hermon. “I made it!” she exclaimed. “I’m here because of the Conference Fund! It took a while, but the money you gave me became something that grew.”

cover of the book slender reedsI recently saw Susan’s newly published book, Slender Reeds, being shared on Facebook. It is beautiful. And it really was a dream come true.

I later heard about a young mom named Jenni who felt led to write but didn’t know where to start. Her friend encouraged her to set up a GoFundMe account in order to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A GoFundMe account is a way for people to tell others what they need funds for and why. Instead of giving gifts or stocking stuffers, people can add funds to that person’s project. Many of Jenni’s friends helped support her and her dream of reaching others through her writing.

I’m not saying that if you just set a mason jar on the counter all your dreams will come true. That’s not realistic. But sharing your goals with others allows them the opportunity to partner with you in something worthwhile.

Pride can make us dream hoarders. Humility allows us to be vulnerable and share our dreams with others.

Do you have a big dream? Are you among the 81 percent of Americans who would love to write a book but just need the courage, and maybe a nudge, to put action to that dream?

Why not set up a mason jar conference fund and see what happens?

For more information about the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference, click here.

Marci SeitherMarci Seither has written hundreds of feature stories, op/editorials, and human-interest articles for local papers as well as contributing to national publications. She has been married to her husband almost 30 years and is mom to six amazingly rowdy kiddos who have provided her with volumes of great material, loads of laundry and symphonies of laughter. Marci encourages others with humor that packs a punch and entertains other moms with her Urban Retro style. She recently had two books published and knows how to make marshmallows from scratch. Marci is an airport shuttle assistant for Mount Hermon Writers Conference.

Say No to Creativity

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Meet Nick Harrison, Senior Editor, Harvest House Publishers! To Read the full bio for Nick Harrison, click here.

Nick Harrison

Nick plans to join us at the conference, March 27-31, 2015, to review manuscripts, meet with writers, and teach an afternoon workshop. Click here to view the workshop summary for What to Do When You Don’t Have a Platform.

Blogger: Nick Harrison

Say No to Creativity

taking a testStop it with the creativity….for a while anyway. Being creative doesn’t get you published. Many very creative people never make a go of their writing career. Why?

Because they’re so busy being creative, they’re not taking the time to plan their career. And many mediocre writers succeed because they’ve stopped being creative long enough to plan to succeed.I’m going to put on my drill sergeant’s hat now (reluctantly of course) and have you take a little test.

How many of the following statements are true of you?

  1. You have more than half a dozen unfinished writing projects somewhere on your computer.
  2. You resent the intrusion of having to write a book proposal, rather than just work on the book itself.
  3. You write when you can with no specified writing time, often missing two or three (or more) days at a time.
  4. You are a self-confessed procrastinator about your writing.
  5. You’ve come up with acceptable reasons for not attending a writer’s conference this year.
  6. You have no idea how different your writing career will be one year from now.
  7. You do not impose deadlines on your projects.
  8. You’ll skip writing to watch a mediocre television program or spend more time on Facebook.
  9. Your writing future consists more of hopes than it does of plans.
  10. You’re still bummed about your most recent rejection. (Get over it! Blame it on the editor if it helps you get past it.)

If you answered yes to a few of the above, that’s okay. Welcome to the real world. None of us is perfect.

But if more than half are true of you, you need to turn off the right side of your brain—the creative side—and engage the left side of your brain to set up a plan to succeed. That plan can consist of several possible elements, not limited to these below.

  1. Compose a mission statement for your writing. What is your goal as a writer? Keep it brief. Just a couple of sentences should suffice. A mission statement will help you stay focused.
  2. Create a list of your writing projects prioritized by their importance. You can define importance in the way that works best for you. For me, the list is prioritized by my passion combined with what I perceive as the marketability of the idea. I’ve just winnowed my list down to 44 items. If I live long enough to complete 5-10 of them, I’ll be happy. We all know not all ideas are created equal. Some are true duds and can eventually be discarded. Some simply arrive before their time and must wait several notches down on the list until they “ripen.”
  3. Take your top three projects and assign deadlines for some aspect of their progress. For instance, set a deadline for when you will have a completed proposal on number one on your prioritized list. Set a deadline for a “one-sheet” description of book number two on your list. And a deadline for a paragraph summary of book three. Other possible deadlines: securing an agent, sending a query, conducting an interview for your project, etc. Most writing projects are unique enough to have several possible deadlines. Be sure and write your deadlines and goals on your calendar. Keep them in mind daily. Move toward the goal with anticipation of setting a new deadline when the present one is reached.
  4. Set aside a specific time each day to write. For those of us who are admitted procrastinators, the trick is to tell ourselves that this sacred time needs to be only five minutes. Anyone can sit down and write for five minutes. But hopefully you’ll discover, as I have, that those first five minutes are the hardest. One you commit your backside to the chair and begin to write, the five minutes will turn into fifteen, then into half an hour and beyond. Simply committing yourself to those five minutes is key. And even if you do only write for five minutes and move on to something else, you’ve started a habit. Now keep it up.
  5. This will be the hardest for some of you. Search out a good Christian writer’s conference near you and plan to attend. I know the reason this is hard is often due to economic reasons. If that’s the case, ask the conference director about scholarships. Or about working for your tuition. Back when I was just starting, I couldn’t afford to pay for a conference, so I volunteered driving conferees back and forth to the airport. Another option is to see if your church will pay your way. After all, for most of us, writing is a ministry. Pray the money in. Just do what you can to be there.

Okay, there are just five steps to take to begin planning to succeed as a writer. Add more as necessary. When you set these five in motion, go get creative again.

If all this makes writing sound like a job….bingo! A pleasurable job to be sure, but a job and a calling nonetheless.

Taking off my drill sergeant’s hat now.

YOUR TURN: Do you have more trouble turning on the right side of your brain (the creative side) or turning it off?

You Will Have to Neglect Something

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Meet another one of our esteemed faculty members ~ Joseph Bentz, a freelance author and an English Professor at Azusa Pacific University. Click here to read the full bio for Joseph Bentz.

Joe Bentz casual

Joe will join us at the conference, March 27-31, 2015, to serve as a Morning Mentoring Track Nonfiction Mentor and teach an afternoon workshop. Click here to view the workshop summary for Strategies for Writers with No Time to Write.

Blogger: Joseph Bentz

You Will Have to Neglect Something—Make Your Choice

How big a place in your life should writing be given?

That question frequently comes up at writers conferences like Mount Hermon. When you’re surrounded by writers who are constantly pitching this and that to agents and editors, it’s easy to think writing should be everything. As you look around at other writers, it’s easy to feel guilty that you haven’t written more or published more, but it’s important to put writing in perspective.

Writing is important, and most of us could do it better, but writing isn’t everything. It is one part of life that should take its proper place among other priorities. But how do you determine what that place is?

cat at keyboard

I used to think that if only I could get organized enough and follow the right disciplines, I could find a way to fulfill my goals and obligations in my personal and professional life without having to leave work undone or relationships unsatisfied.

I no longer believe that. I now believe that time and energy are so limited that I will have to neglect something important to me. I simply have to choose what that will be. Will I write less than I want to? Will I devote less time to my family than I want to? Less time to my church? Less time to my students?

The Limits of Our Attention

A writers group I am part of studied the book, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In one section, the author discusses the idea that attention is a limited resource but crucial to creativity. Since we have only so much of it, we must decide where we’re going to put it. Then he makes this memorable point:

“Another consequence of limited attention is that creative individuals are often considered odd—or even arrogant, selfish, and ruthless. It is important to keep in mind that these are not traits of creative people, but traits that the rest of us attribute to them on the basis of perceptions. When we meet a person who focuses all of his attention on physics or music and ignores us and forgets our names, we call that person ‘arrogant’ even though he may be extremely humble and friendly if he could only spare attention from his pursuit.” (10)

Creativity book Joe quoted

As we pursue our passions, few of us want to be perceived as selfish, arrogant people who care only about our writing or our music or our art or whatever other work we feel called to do. Better to be a generous, well-rounded person who cares about others but also makes a meaningful contribution to our field. However, with the truly creative person who brings about a groundbreaking change in a domain, Csikszentmihalyi writes that “it is practically impossible to learn a domain deeply enough to make a change in it without dedicating all of one’s attention to it and thereby appearing to be arrogant, selfish, and ruthless to those who believe they have a right to the creative person’s attention” (10).

During the 2012 Olympics, one TV commercial showed athletes training vigorously, and in voice-overs they told some of life’s pleasures they had given up for their sport: “I haven’t eaten a dessert in two years,” says one athlete, and others told of giving up television, burgers, etc. The list they gave focused mostly on trivial pleasures, but I’m sure many of them also sacrificed more important things also, such as spending time with family, hanging out with friends, and so on.

At certain points in life, I have practiced the kind of focused discipline those athletes are talking about. While I was still single and in graduate school trying to finish my dissertation, I gave up television for a couple years, dedicated one room of my apartment to nothing but a computer and dissertation materials, and set rigid hours for working on the project until it was finished. Even now, when I write a book, I commit to working on it at least a little every day until it is finished.

Deciding Where to Set the Limits

As a writer today, I am willing to sacrifice for my passion, but I will go only so far. I believe all of us make trade-offs, but we don’t always knowingly make them. Often we simply slide into letting things get out of balance in one direction or another.

The choice I knowingly make now is that I am not willing to sacrifice my family for my work. When my son says, “Let’s go play soccer in the backyard,” I go. I take him and his sister to their sports practices. I take long walks with my wife. I have more writing projects than I can ever complete. I want to get to them. I do the best I can with those projects, and I get some of them done. But I know that I will simply have to neglect some of them.

My teaching also holds me back. So does my church. So do my friends. So do my other interests. So be it. I care about those things and intend to give each of them some of my Attention. When I teach American literature, I sometimes teach authors who had writing as their only priority, even when it brought shipwreck to their personal lives. They were creative people. They made a contribution to literature. The cost was high.

For me, writing has an important place, but as much as I love it, it doesn’t get all of me.


YOUR TURN: What have you given up to write? And if you haven’t given up anything yet, what are you considering giving up for more time and attention to devote to writing?

Procrastination: Win the Battle

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Our Faculty Guest is an Author, Blogger, and Editor of indeed magazine and Pathways Magazine (Walk Thru the Bible) ~ Chris Tiegreen. Click here to read the full bio for Chris Tiegreen.

Chris Tiegreen


Chris will join us at the conference, March 27-31, 2015, to review manuscripts, meet with writers, and teach two afternoon workshops. Click here to view the workshop summaries for Breakfast with Your Readers and I Blog, Therefore I Am.

Blogger: Chris Tiegreen

Win the Battle Against Procrastination

Imagine your first dive off the diving board. Scary, wasn’t it? If you’re like most people, you stood there a while and tried to work up the nerve.

People were watching, so backing away wasn’t an option. And standing there longer wasn’t going to make the height any shorter, the water any more inviting, or your nerves any calmer. So why did you stand there? Because you felt emotionally unprepared. And there was a payoff for putting it off. You gained some comfort for the moment by postponing the discomfort of the future.

Procrasination Photo


Procrastinating as a writer can be like that. It’s delaying the inevitable, but somehow the inevitable seems safer later than now. Yes, the writing may be more difficult when the deadline gets tighter, but in the moment you’re not doing it, it isn’t difficult at all.

Every writer knows procrastination well. We all do it. We know we do it. It’s not complicated. No one needs to set up the concept for you. So diving right in, the question isn’t whether you procrastinate as a writer. The question is why you’re doing it and how to get over it. Actually, how you get over it is the only question between those two that really matters. But knowing why you do it can help you overcome it.

So why do you procrastinate in your writing? Very simply, you don’t want to be writing right now. Maybe you don’t have the energy, or perhaps you’re burned out. Maybe you really do need a break, and procrastinating is the only way to get it. Still, if a deadline nears and you don’t have words on a page, that’s a problem.

Here’s where you have to be really honest with yourself and tell yourself some basic truths. And you may have to be persistent with them:

1)  Putting this project off will not make it go away. You will have to do it sometime, and no matter how much better “later” looks, it isn’t. Looking back, you’ll be very glad you jumped in when you did.

2)  Projects look more overwhelming at the beginning than the do in the middle. And certainly more than they do at the end. The only way not to feel overwhelmed is to start and keep going. There’s no other way to get around it.

3)  You want the exhilaration of being done. You can imagine how great it will feel. There’s only one way to get that feeling, and you know what it is. Think of how you’ll feel when it’s over, and use that energy to get going.

4)  What you’re writing will help someone. No one would have hired you to do it—or you wouldn’t have come up with the idea for it—if it were pointless. Somewhere, somehow, it’s needed.

Telling yourself those truths—again and again—will help get you started. Why? Because procrastination is an emotional issue, and these truths help defuse negative emotions and put positive ones around your project.

So dive right in. If the beginning seems too difficult, begin with the middle and add an intro later if you need to. Just begin. Because starting is the hardest part, and finishing is the best part. Procrastination doesn’t get you there. Starting does. And that’s not nearly as scary as it seems.


YOUR TURN: Are you battling procrastination? Ever have a problem with it? Have any suggestions to add to Chris’s?