Posts Categorized: Writers Conference

Ready to Reboot Your Career?

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized, Writers Conference.

reboot button for pro track

Even best-selling authors can feel dissatisfied with their careers.

“It was the day after Thanksgiving, 2017.  I was out in the yard raking leaves and thinking about my writing career.  I had let my marketing slide over the last few years, and I could see 2017 was going to be the worst year financially for my writing in a long time. So, I decided to turn things around. And I gave myself a year to do it.” Randy Ingermanson clearly wasn’t pleased with where his career was going.

Randy isn’t the only one who thinks such thoughts. Christy-award winning author James Rubart said this when asked if he’s ever been unsatisfied with his career, “Today. Ten years ago. Ten years from now (assuming I’m still here in what Paul calls our tents). I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied, and I think that’s a good thing. I want to stretch myself, grow as a writer, take on new challenges, and learn how to give back more than I ever have. This journey has been beyond my expectations, but it’s still a journey, and because of that, there will be highs and lows still to come. And that’s okay. More than okay. God will use them to train me, drawing me closer into alignment with who I was meant to be.”

If these rock-star writers have a sense of discontentment, is it any wonder we may feel frustrated with our careers? Is it because we aren’t multi-published? We need to work harder? Is it all about the money?

“Let’s be clear,” Randy said, “life is not about money. Money won’t make you happy. So what good is money? Money is time. Time is freedom. Freedom means you can do what you were put on earth to do. This is something my friend Jim Rubart and I have been talking about for years.  Freedom.  In our Pro Track, we’re going to talk about how writers can get that freedom.”

The Professional “Pro” Writers Track Randy mentions is one of the Major Morning Tracks offered at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference.

According to Randy, “We’re going to focus on the few things each writer can do, right now, to boost their revenue and move their career forward. To teach a new way of thinking, a new mindset. A mindset that gets results.”

And James adds they will, “give concrete ways for our students to increase their sales, expand their influence, and understand their brand more completely.”

The goal is for attendees to take away an action plan to reboot their careers.

Randy includes a caveat. “And that means we’re going to work our people like dogs during the conference. LIKE DOGS! If you don’t want to work like a dog, please, please, please don’t sign up for our Pro Track.”

But he promises those who are “burning with desire to make a change . . . do what it takes to turn [your life] around, you will leave with a plan that will get results.”

James said he wants attendees to leave with hope. “This crazy writing world isn’t an easy one to navigate . . .  most of all I want them to leave encouraged. They can do this. They can make it through hard times. There is great light ahead.”

The Pro Track meets Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 9:00 to 10:30 and 11:00 to noon.

Attendance in this track is by application only. Please read the prerequisites and fill out the application. Go to Major Morning Tracks and scroll down to the Professional Writers Track section.

Deadline to apply is March 23, 2019. Applicants will be notified of acceptance within one week of applying. If accepted, a link to a form to tell Randy and James more about yourself will be sent before the conference.

Writing pros James Rubart and Randy Ingermanson proclaim the “Jim-and-Randy Professional Writers Reboot Camp” will transform your career and your life.

Are we ready to get serious about our careers and take the challenge? Apply today.

10 Reasons to Apply for a Mentoring Clinic Now

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

green and purple exotic bird

by Mona Hodgson

A rare bird. No two are alike. The green and purple speckled bird flying through this year may not take the same route next year. Sometimes we don’t realize we’ve seen a special treat until the moment is past. Then we wonder why we didn’t take the time to appreciate what was before us.

The Mount Hermon mentoring clinics are like the rare bird. A particular genre or specialty offered this year may not be available next year. And even if it is, it won’t be the same breed. Each mentor brings a rarified personality (was that adjective polite enough?) and body of experience and insights to their clinic.

Just in case you’re not convinced that you need to stop what you’re doing (after you read this post) and apply for a Pre-conference Mentoring Clinic or a Morning Mentoring Clinic during the main conference, consider my ten reasons.

  1. Because you get to meet and hang out with a multi-published writer in your chosen genre who has already taken some of the steps you’re taking.
  2. Because your mentor wants to save you some steps or at least smooth them out for you.
  3. Because you’ve lost all impartiality when it comes to your writing. (I don’t know how I know this.)
  4. Because your other clinic members serve as a friendly focus group for your writing.
  5. Because your mentor will read your work and offer a constructive critique, replete with encouragement.
  6. Because you’ll receive comments and suggestions you get to sift through. (Hopefully, you like that sort of thing.)
  7. Because most morning mentoring clinics meet in a cabin, not a classroom. The tea kettle is close by and so is the restroom.
  8. Because a mentor and your other mentees can point out distracting proliferations of alliterative phrasing and purple prose in your manuscript. (See #5 and #6.)
  9. Because you benefit from reading other writers’ works-in-process. (Whether you believe it now or not.)
  10. The mentoring clinics offer you a first-rate opportunity to face your fears. (You’re welcome!)
  11. Here’s a bonus reason for applying for a mentoring clinic now: the application deadline is tomorrow, March 20th.

Since you asked (whether you did or not), my morning mentoring clinic is the best even if you don’t write for children. Thankfully, I’m not expecting Jan Kern, the mentoring clinic coordinator, to agree with me.

See you at Mount Hermon next month, friends.

Mona is leading a Morning Mentoring Clinic for children’s writers, A Work-in-Progress Clinic for Children’s Writers.

A second nonfiction mentoring clinic with Renae Brumbaugh Green has been added.

Pre-conference Mentoring Clinics

Morning Mentoring Clinics

Mona Hodgson photo

Mona Hodgson, an award-winning author, has published 42 books, historical novels, and novellas for adults and children’s books for ages birth to twelve. Her writing credits also include several hundred nonfiction articles, poems, and short stories, which have appeared in 50 publications. Mona speaks for churches, schools, and conferences, including YWAM, Mount Hermon Christian Camps and Conference Center, and MOPS groups.

What Guides Your Writing Process?

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

guide in the sunbeams

by Jan Kern

When I had a PC (before my MacBook), I changed the hover-over message for Microsoft Word to say, “apart from him I can do nothing,” a personalized rephrasing of a part of John 15:5. I wanted to bring into my time of writing an awareness that I need God to do this well.

Writing with prayerful intentionality became important, even crucial. Not that I always did, but I noticed the difference when I didn’t. Somewhere along the way, I developed a sort of creed that now hovers in the background of what I teach in my clinics at Mount Hermon. It also hints at the content of our hours together as we look at writing elements that matter for our reader, how to know and care well for our reader, our author presence and its impact in our writing, or ways to identify the arcs and create flow for our projects.

These are practical teaching points but alongside is a recognition that God is active in each. The words I chose for the paragraphs below grew out of those initial words from John 15:5. They reflect the development (over years, I’m slow) of my writing process with God and his invitations to keep him in the center of that process.

I encourage writers I mentor to consider creating a simple creed shaped by their own writing journey with God. I share this one with you with the same encouragement.

  • • Writing That Reaches toward Your Reader
  • We tell our stories and share our passion around our topics honestly, humbly, and prayerfully with our readers always in mind. We know the difference between writing for ourselves and writing with a sensitivity to our readers’ questions, hurts, and needs. We pray for our readers often and before we write.
  • • Writing That Reflects the Writer God Created You to Be
  • We honor who God is creating us to be as a writer through our authentic and creative use of words. We are alert to the ongoing process of discovering and developing our writing voice and its genuine reflection of the uniqueness of our person and calling. We pray for his continual transformative work in our lives.
  • • Writing That Remains Open to God’s Overarching Purposes
  • We seek God’s wisdom in writing the message he has given us. We remain open to his leading of the structure, forms, and tone that will carry that message well. We pray he will help us see, beyond our own understanding, the connections and flow of the message or story he has placed on our heart.
  • • Writing That Flows from “Apart from Him I Can Do Nothing”
  • We understand the responsibility inherent in the opportunity to write to others. We realize our lack and God’s grace and gifts in making each project we write possible. We pray he will help us to abide daily and closely with him when writing and when not writing so our words flow from open and discerning hearts ready to serve.

So, what guides your writing process?

If you look closely, you might see, hovering in the background, that one phrase that guides you well—like John 15:5 does for me. Jot it down. Recognize it as God’s invitation to join you in your writing process. That’s where you begin each time you write.


If you’d enjoy a focused, small group mentoring clinic for your current nonfiction book project, consider one of the main conference clinics. Jan Kern and Joseph Bentz are teaching nonfiction clinics. Mona Hodgson is offering a children’s writing clinic, and Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen is leading a clinic on blog writing. Fiction clinics are also available with Brandilyn Collins, Sarah Sundin, and Ginny Yttrup.

During the pre-conference, we also have fiction and nonfiction clinics. Highlighted is a newly opened beginning nonfiction clinic led by Renae Brumbaugh Green, and a clinic specifically focused on proposal writing, taught by Janet McHenry.

For more information about the various clinic and application details, visit Morning Mentoring at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference webpage.


Jan Kern headshotJan Kern, author, speaker, and credentialed life coach, is passionate about story—not only how we live it with courage and intentionality but also how we write it with craft and finesse. Her Live Free series for teens launched with Scars that Wound, Scars that Heal: A Journey Out of Self-Injury, an ECPA Gold Medallion finalist. In the series, she intertwined a narrative style with fiction techniques to tell the true stories of teens who struggled with pain and brokenness. She knows about writers in transition as her focus has turned to writing for and serving women through Voice of Courage, a multi-generational organization she founded with her daughter.

Spiritual Growth … It May Not

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

check off items from list

by Bill Myers

Often the Christian life becomes a list of dos and don’ts.

  • Read Scripture
  • Go to Church
  • Pray
  • Be nice
  • Help others
  • Give
  • Forgive
  • Cheat
  • Kill
  • Steal
  • Party
  • Drink
  • Use drugs
  • Pre-marital sex
  • And on and on and on …

The Bible has hundreds of rules. Jesus condensed them into:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.

Here’s how I see those three parts of us: heart, soul, and mind. We’re emotions (heart) and intellect (mind). Where these two overlap is the complete us, who we really are—our soul.

In the center of the soul is God’s Spirit. It’s what was breathed into Adam and what I believe makes us different from animals.

To keep our heart and mind functioning well we need to feed them. We do that by feeding our bodies three, four times day. The Spirit in our soul needs to be fed as well. How many times do we feed our Spirit?

The impact of the Spirit on my life is my choice. I am the one who decides whether to feed it. If I do, by abiding in God’s presence, its influence in me continues to grow until it is actually replacing my old ways of feeling, thinking, and behaving.

Sadly, many Christians stop feeding the Spirit. The worries and cares of life begin choking it out. As a result, their spiritual life begins to starve. It becomes stunted. But as we continue to feed upon God’s presence, it continues to grow, and we continue becoming more and more like him.

This is what makes Christianity so unique and different from any other religion or philosophy. Christianity is based on a living, vital relationship with God. It is not a list of dos and don’ts. The dos and don’ts are still important, but we don’t focus on them.  Instead…

We pursue our relationship with God
Which in turn grows the fruit of his Spirit
Which allows us to naturally live the dos and don’ts.

Many of us have it backwards, focusing first on the dos and don’ts of our behavior. Instead, God calls us to focus on our relationship with him. And that makes all the difference in the world.

© Copyright 2015 Bill Myers

In addition to being a keynote speaker, Bill Myers is also teaching a Major Morning Track, “Keys for Unforgettable Storytelling.”

Photo Bill Myers

Writer/director Bill Myers’s work has won more than 70 national and international awards, including the C. S. Lewis Honor Award. He’s sold more than eight million books and videos, including McGee and Me, Imager Chronicles series, Eli, and his latest nonfiction, The Jesus Experience: Journey Deeper into the Heart of God. His film company, Amaris Media, is in development with multiple projects. Find out more at

Bill first taught at Mount Hermon in the late 1980s, when he and Robin Jones Gunn were rambunctious newbies having food fights in the cafeteria. (He says biscuits fly the best.)

The Path of Questioning for Writers

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

outdoor layrinth

by Eva Marie Everson

In February 2017, my brother called to tell me the mass doctors had found the week before was malignant. Because my brother has no other family, I put all my plans on hold and headed “back home” to help.

That March, I spoke at a writers’ retreat. Between writing, directing the Florida Christian Writers Conference, speaking, running a writing contest, and traveling to be with my brother, I was exhausted. My room at the retreat wasn’t the Ritz Carlton, but it was quiet and clean, and the bed was pretty comfy. I got what I needed at night: sleep.

On the last day of the retreat, as I headed out of the room, I noticed a piece of paper on the nightstand. Pick it up, I heard a voice say. So I did, shoving it into my purse. Days later, I read it and learned the retreat center had a prayer labyrinth. Unfamiliar with this concept, I did a Google search and discovered what became an amazing formula for my journaling: The Path of Silence … The Path of Memory … The Path of Questioning …

Prayerful silence I understood. Reminding myself of God’s faithfulness had long been part of my quiet times with the Lord. But the questioning part had me stumped. I only had three questions for God. When I wrote in my journal that I didn’t know how to handle this part of the new journey, I heard God’s still, small voice say, Not your questions. My questions.

My journal pages filled quickly with the questions God asked—the ones recorded in Scripture. Where are you? What have you done? Where are you from and where are you going? I understood that God already has the answers to those questions, but by asking, he demanded that I examine myself. One question—What is it you want from me? —left me nearly staggering for the remainder of the day.

In October 2017, I sat at the feet of Robert Benson for five days, along with eleven others, at a retreat center. The teaching was superb, the writing time priceless, the food tasty … and they had a prayer labyrinth. One afternoon I walked between the rocks that formed its paths. Afterward I headed back to my room … and my journal.

As I wrote, the circumstances of my life came into focus. My brother’s cancer. The piece of paper on the nightstand. My new practice of labyrinth journaling. The writing retreat. Something inside me stirred until it led me to a greater understanding of what God wants from me … and what I want from God.

This nearly year-long season led to the most difficult question of all: Why do you think I called you to write?

Too inspired to keep this to myself, I emailed the director of a large writers’ conference and asked if I could write and lead a different kind of practicum that year—one that would help attendees learn who they are in Christ, who Christ is in them, and why he called them to this marvelous thing called writing.

We writers come to God with questions on a daily basis. When is that door going to swing open for me? Should I take this road to publication or that one? It can be frustrating, especially if we feel God is ignoring us or refusing to answer.

But what if God is waiting for us to hear his questions? What if we could dig into those questions and discover the answers we’ve been waiting for all along … or perhaps find a new path?

I taught that continuing class to writers whose hearts God was piercing as he had mine. I have since spoken on this topic several times, and each time the results have left me breathless.

Now I am bringing this class to Mount Hermon—which has its own permanent outdoor prayer labyrinth. And this year, the writers’ conference will have an indoor labyrinth too! During our time together in the “Spiritual Life of the Writer” Major Morning Track, I will show how God took my writing to a deeper level, my role in Christian publishing to a higher place, and my heart to a new rung of understanding what God wants from me.

Pre-registration for this track is strongly suggested so I can provide tips on preparing your heart and mind for our sessions. To pre-register, email me at with “Mt. H. Labyrinth Practicum” in the subject line. Then come prepared to listen, to write, and to share. At the end of the conference, you’ll not only know how to write but why.


Eva Marie Everson photoEva Marie Everson is a best-selling, multiple award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction, including such titles as The Ornament Keeper (2018), The One True Love of Alice-Ann (2017), and Five Brides (2016). Her Reflections of God’s Holy Land (2008) earned her a Silver Medallion. She is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of both the Florida Christian Writers Conference and North Georgia Christian Writers Conference. Eva Marie is also the managing editor of Firefly Southern Fiction. She is both a graduate and a sometimes-student at Andersonville Theological Seminary. Eva Marie enjoys working with new writers through her company, Pen In Hand. When she’s not jet-setting about, she makes her home in central Florida, where she and her husband are owned by a small but feisty dog. They are the parents of three amazing children and nine beyond-amazing grandchildren.

Looking for the Next Level

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writing books and paper with quill

by Susan K. Beatty

“An adventure . . . where I re-discover that I’m here to experience with them—writers, authors, and instructors—the same fears, goals, and desires about their writing journey as I have. From there, I’m encouraged to step to the next level of my writing adventure.”

Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference attendee Anina Swan is praising her experience with the Pre-Conference Clinics.

I am like Anina, looking for the next level in my writing journey.

I’m a somewhere-in-between, not a beginning but not an experienced published writer. I’ve been wondering how I can get the most out of this fabulous, gem-packed conference and how to step up to the next level without feeling fire-hosed.

Comments from Anina and others have me considering taking one of the Pre-Conference Clinics held April 10-12.

The conference website says, “Why not get a jumpstart on the main conference by signing up for a pre-conference mentoring clinic!” Why not, indeed?

Clinic Combines Learning and Fellowship

Another attendee said, “An excellent warm-up, relationship builder, and venue for personal critique. I am sure the main conference had greater impact because of this personal orientation for this first-timer.”

How could we go wrong when each clinic combines learning in a small-group setting, a mentor critique of our work in progress, and a one-on-one consultation with our mentor?

Each clinic is designed to give writers at all levels an opportunity to focus on developing projects or to support other areas of a writing career.

“Encouraging, informative, helpful, insightful, and so much more,” said another attendee.

And the faculty. Wow. I’m not sure how to choose from among these talented professionals: Lori Freeland (Beginning Fiction); Tim Shoemaker (Intermediate to Advanced Fiction); Jan Kern (Beginning Nonfiction); or Doug Newton (Intermediate to Advanced Nonfiction). Also, within the specialty topics, choose from Renae Brumbaugh Green (Humor Writing); Laura Christianson (Website Building); or Janet McHenry (Proposal Creation).

Pre-Conference Clinic Application

Participation in a Pre-Conference Clinic requires an application. The process includes a statement of your purpose and goals for participating and a three- to five-page sample of your writing, depending on which clinic you choose.

Don’t be daunted; just be sure to follow the instructions available on the website. Application deadline is March 20.

The clinics are a value-added opportunity for an additional fee and space is limited.

I’m thinking of applying for intermediate to advanced fiction. Or maybe website building. Or proposal creation. Oh, my. Which will you choose?

“Best part of the whole conference!”

With applause like that, what are we waiting for? Let’s choose our clinic and get our applications started.

Off to start my application. What about you?

Susan Beatty

Susan Beatty is the author of An Introduction to Home Education manual. After thirty-five years of leadership in the homeschool community, including writing, editing, and managing conferences, she retired in 2017 and is now pursuing a novel-writing career. Her first novel is in revision. She is the assistant director of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and recently became the president of her local ACFW-OC Chapter in California. Susan is a professional writer/journalist.

Essential Information to Include on Your Business Card

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blank business card in hand

by Laura Christianson

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met at conferences who moan, “Ohhh, I forgot to get business cards made!”

They smack themselves upside the head for not having the foresight to bring along those tiny-yet-essential pieces of card stock to exchange with everyone they meet.

What info should you include on your business card?

Some people prescribe to the “less is better” method; others like the “more is better” method. Just remember, whatever information you print on your card, it has to be easy to read (please, no 6-point type!).

You don’t have to squish everything on one side of your card. It usually doesn’t cost much extra to get cards printed on both sides.

For the front of the card, I recommend:

Laura Christianson business care front
  • Business name
  • Business tagline
  • Your name
  • Your title (or a descriptor of what you do)
  • Your professional-quality headshot
  • Primary website address
  • Key social networks (Facebook, Twitter)
  • Email address
  • Phone number(s)
  • Fax (if applicable)

And on the back…

Laura Christianson business care back

The back of your card can include any of the above info, or:

  • Graphic logo that brands your business (I recommend hiring a graphic designer to create an eye-catching logo)
  • Images of your product(s)
  • Bulleted list of your primary services
  • Photo of you (make sure it’s professional-quality)
  • Inspiring thought
  • QR code

Card sizes and shapes

Print your business cards the standard size. From time to time, people give me over-sized or oddly-shaped cards, which I can’t fit in my business card pages without folding them. This is irritating, so I usually throw the oddball cards away.

Print the copy horizontally, instead of vertically. It’s okay to put a vertical image on the back of your card, but the writing on the front should go horizontally across the long side of the card. Again, for folks who organize their cards in business card pages, it’s much easier to access and read the information when it’s in standard format.

Laura’s super-secret strategy for organizing business cards

When I attend events, I bring along several sheets of Avery Business Card Pages. Each clear sheet (made to fit in a three-ring binder) holds twenty standard-sized business cards.

Whenever someone hands me their card, I write notes to myself on the back of the card to remind me of who the person is and where/when we met, and then I slip the card into the card page. When I get home, I add the full card sheets to a binder and label each sheet with the name of the conference.

Whenever I need to contact someone I met, their information is at my fingertips.

(Copyright 2018. Originally published December 18, 2018, Blogging Bistro,, used by permission.)

Laura, along with Susy Flory, will be teaching a Major Morning Session, Career Growth Track. These sessions will cover business strategies for all writers.

Laura Christianson

Laura Christianson helps everyone from pre-published writers to best-selling authors establish a vibrant online presence. She owns Blogging Bistro, LLC (, a business that builds custom websites and provides brand coaching and marketing education. The author of several books and thousands of articles, Laura serves as marketing director for West Coast Christian Writers. When you can drag her away from her computer, you’ll most likely find Laura swimming laps, rollerblading, or bicycling. Laura and her husband live in the Seattle area and are the parents of two young-adult sons.

Four Ways to Keep Blogging When You Want to Quit

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man tired of blogging

by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

As a writer, you know how hard it is to stay motivated. As a blogger with low or no traffic, you have an additional problem: you hope someone will read your posts, but it seems like nobody cares. And that makes you want to give up.

You are not alone.

I’m celebrating my tenth year as a full-time blogger, and believe me, there were times I wanted to quit. Surprisingly, it was at the height of my blog’s popularity and financial success that I most wanted to walk away.

And walk away I did. I went back to school for my Master of Social Work (MSW), which helped me see why my blogs were no longer fulfilling. I was chasing the wrong things: traffic, money, comments, and social media approval. I needed something more meaningful.

After two months of school I realized writing is what God created me to do. But I couldn’t keep blogging like before, so I went to school full-time while rebuilding my blogs on the side. I took time to examine my reasons and goals for writing. I re-evaluated my identity and learned what really inspired me. Now, I don’t struggle with motivation. I blog every day.

Why do you blog? Maybe you know blogging improves writing skills, helps you connect with readers, strengthens your platform, and increases your chances of getting a book published. However, those reasons won’t bring passion and life into your work because they’re externally oriented. These four tips, on the other hand, are internal and intentional. They helped me rebuild my She Blossoms blog; I hope you find them helpful too.

1. Use the same format for every post
“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work,” said Gustave Flaubert. Using the same format for all your blog posts may seem stifling, but it actually frees you to write boldly and creatively. My articles always follow the same structure (five paragraphs, title, three points, etc). This allows me to focus on what I want to say instead of how I want to say it. The best part? I have extra creativity, energy, and time to write for other websites and magazines.

2. Plan a series you want to explore
One of the hardest parts of blogging is deciding what to write about. My problem was that I had too many ideas, too many reader questions, too much to choose from. It took me years to find a series I love and can sustain—my She Blossoms Through the Bible project. These articles require me to lean on God more than ever. I’m writing an article for every chapter of every book of the Bible. Here’s a recent post, inspired by Genesis 32, “Preparing to Meet an Estranged Family Member.

3. Summarize the purpose of your blog in one sentence
Why are you blogging? Get specific. Organize your blog into something more than a smattering of your thoughts, experiences, memories, goals, and tips. Talk to God, sit down face-to-face with Jesus, ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern your purpose. Take time to pinpoint an overall blog theme or focus. Summarize it in one short sentence and pray over it every day. And remember that if God is calling you to blog, then not blogging is disobedient.

4. Accept that writing isn’t easy
Having a purpose and structure won’t automatically make blogging easy. Just like following Jesus doesn’t make life a walk in the park with a fat-free, double-dipped chocolate ice cream cone. Blogging is hard even when you’re called, even if you create a rhythm and structure. Writing is a struggle even if you believe God is working through you. If blogging was easy, everyone would do it. But you’re not everyone. You’re a child of God, created for a purpose.

And here’s a bonus tip: 
5. Write like you have a message from the King . . .
because you do.

Do you have blog questions or problems? Maybe you’re having trouble starting or sustaining your blog, or you can’t overcome a hurdle. Join my Morning Mentoring Clinic at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in April 2019. We’ll blossom your blog together.

You may also enjoy reading “Morning Mentoring Clinic: Best Choice I Could Have Made.”

Laurie Pawik-Kiwnien

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, MSW, is the author of Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back (Bethany House) and the creator of the “She Blossoms” blogs. Her experiences taught her that choosing to grow forward is essential—especially when you can’t go back. Her degrees are in psychology, education, and social work. Laurie writes full-time in her treehouse in Vancouver, Canada. Visit

Morning Mentoring Clinic: Best Choice I Could Have Made

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coffee notepad computer

by Susan K. Beatty

Excited as I was at the prospect of receiving small group and professional mentoring advice from the Morning Mentoring Clinic, I was bowled over by the results.

I knew that a skilled, multi-published professional would come alongside me and help with my work-in-progress. I knew the advantages of working within a small group for critiquing and encouragement.

What I hadn’t known was my mentor would be more than top-notch; she was knowledgeable, detailed, kind, encouraging, and, well, you get the idea.

Neither had I anticipated how our small group would bond immediately. It didn’t hurt that three out of the four of us were named Susan, and the fourth even had the childhood nickname of Suzy-Q. Poor Cynthia, our mentor, had to look at each of us for a few moments to remember which Susan she was talking to. And she did a magnificent job all the way around. Okay, you shouldn’t expect to have three people with your same name in your group, but you can expect the members to be picked by the Lord just for you.

A personal appointment with the group’s mentor left me with direction and encouragement. That alone was worth the price of the conference.

What, you ask, is this Morning Mentoring Clinic? Instead of taking Major Morning Workshops, you attend a set of sessions tailored for intermediate writers with publishing experience. The clinic sessions meet each morning on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The mentoring clinics combine learning in a small-group setting, mentor and group critique of your work-in-progress, and a one-on-one consultation with your mentor.

With several options to choose from, there’s sure to be a focus that fits your needs.

For example, intermediate fiction topics include “Novel Structure: Bring Your Story to Life” and “Developing Memorable Characters.”

One mentor, Sarah Sundin, says of her fiction clinic, “You’ll learn about crafting realistic characters, incorporating thematic elements, good fiction mechanics, and grounding readers in the setting without overwhelming them with details.”

Two intermediate nonfiction topics are “Writing the Irresistible Nonfiction Book” and “Writing for Your Reader with Impact, Depth, and Flow.”

Nonfiction mentor, Joseph Bentz, tells us his clinic will “combine teaching, critique, one-on-one coaching, and creative inspiration for the writing life. Six writers will critique excerpts from each other’s work ahead of the conference and will receive careful individual attention during the conference.”

Don’t see what you’re looking for yet? There’s more. Check out the special-interest clinics: Children’s Writing: A Work-in-Progress Clinic for Children’s Writers; Blog Writing: From Good to Great: Taking Your Blog to the Next Level; and From Public Speaking to Published Writing.

And who wouldn’t like to work closely with such great writers and writing coaches such as Brandilyn Collins, Sarah Sundin, Ginny L. Yttrup, Joseph Bentz, Jan Kern, Mona Hodgson, Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, and Doug Newton?

“Okay,” you say. “I’m sold. Sign me up.”

Hooray! There are a couple of details you need to know about signing up. Because these clinics are designed for intermediate writers with publishing experience, participation is by application only. The application deadline is March 1, and applicants are placed upon approval in the order received. There is also an extra fee.

So don’t wait. Follow the link for further information and application instructions.

I think, like me, you will be more than rewarded by your experience in the Morning Mentoring Clinics.

Susan Beatty

Susan Beatty is the author of An Introduction to Home Education manual. After thirty-five years of leadership in the homeschool community, including writing, editing, and managing conferences, she retired in 2017 and is now pursuing a novel writing career. Her first novel is in revision. She is the assistant director of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and recently became the president of her local ACFW-OC Chapter in California. Susan is a professional writer/journalist.

Ten Things You Should Never Say to an Author

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by Phil Callaway

My son is an accountant. When people ask what he does, he says, “I solve problems you didn’t know you had in ways you don’t understand.” But when people ask what I do, I wince a little, because they usually follow my answer with at least three questions or a statement I’d rather not hear.

“I’m a writer,” I say, as if apologizing for beating someone to a parking spot.

“What do you write?”


“Do you have one with you? May I have it for free?”

Here are ten other responses I’ve heard. I’m not making these up.

  1. “I have a great idea for a book. You write it, we’ll split the profits.”
  2. “Cool! But what do you do for a living?”
  3. “I should, like totally, like, write a book myself.”
  4. “I write books too. I wrote one in a week.”
  5. “That must be so much fun. I wish could just sit around and write all day.”
    I think it appropriate that I drop anchor midstream and defend myself. Writing books is the closest I will ever come to giving birth. Ask my wife. I am moody. Cranky. I snack at odd hours. I am irrational at times. Writing is slow and agonizing, like a deer moving through an anaconda. But back to our list:
  6. “I found your book in a yard sale for a quarter. You autographed it to the guy who sold it to me.”
  7. “How much money do you make a year?”
  8. “You’re an author? I have a blog.”
    Once again, let me interrupt. Blogs are great. But writing books for publishers requires that authors appear before a fastidious tribunal for approval of each semi-colon; trust me, there’s nothing bloggish about it.
  9. “There’s no way I’m telling you anything. It’ll just end up in one of your books.”
    Writing is lonely work. Mention people’s names and you’re lonelier than a porcupine with halitosis. So, you learn to seek permission of friends, to get it in writing. And if they won’t give it to you, you write novels and change their names.
  10. “Are you still a writer, or do you work now?”

Today I was discouraged thinking of these things. So, I came up with a list of ten things I love about being a writer:

  1. I can live anyplace I like. The writer has the freedom to starve almost anywhere.
  2. I can stare out windows without my spouse asking what I’m up to.
  3. A friend who’s a professional athlete retired at thirty. I haven’t developed knee problems yet—just a sore rear end.
  4. My overhead is cheap. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was written on the back of an old envelope.
  5. I can get my picture in the paper without being charged for a criminal act.
  6. I can work in my bathrobe without being charged with indecency.
  7. No heavy lifting. Except when 5,000 books arrive.
  8. I can still speak my mind long after I’m dead.
  9. I can receive notes like this one: “My toddler chewed most of your book. I need another one.” Or this one: “I’m a mother of five. I lock myself in the bathroom and read your book. When I come out, I feel like I can face the world again.”
  10. I’ve been blessed beyond measure to write almost thirty books one word at a time. My children have traveled the world with me and seen lives changed. It doesn’t get better than that.

Still, the next time someone asks what I do, I think I’ll take a cue from my son and say, “I’m an electrician. I wire for money.”

Phil is a keynote speaker at the 50th Anniversary Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. He will also be presenting a workshop The Writer’s Life: If I Can Write, You Can Write.

Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway is an award-winning author and speaker, known worldwide for his humorous yet perceptive look at life. He’s the best-selling author of twenty-five books, including Laughing Matters, I Used to Have Answers…Now I Have Kids, Making Life Rich Without Any Money, and Family Squeeze. He hosts the daily radio program Laugh Again, which is broadcast across North America, the UK, and English-speaking Africa. Phil’s writings have been translated into Polish, Chinese, Spanish, German, Dutch, Indonesian, and English (one of which he speaks fluently). Phil’s humorous stories on family life have been featured in hundreds of magazines worldwide. But he insists that his greatest achievement was convincing his wife to marry him.

Success or Failure?

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by Blossom Turner

I first attended the Mount Hermon Writers Conference in 2009 with high hopes, dreams too large for my skill set, and aspirations aplenty. I did not know—as of yet—what I did not know. By the time the action packed four-day marathon was complete, I felt like I had gone to boot camp, not book camp. I learned about POV, show don’t tell, voice, and how to tighten and brighten with word choice. I grappled with grammar, played with poetry, puzzled over punctuation, and struggled to spit-polish my manuscript.

One could look at this experience as a failure, for I did not obtain an agent. No one was clamouring around me as the latest and greatest new talent. No publisher asked for a proposal. And I certainly did not win the award for the best new writer. Instead, I went home with my tail between my legs (having learnd that I should not use clichés as I just did) and ruminated over Steve Laube’s session on “Rejection: Turning Pain into Pleasure.” Overwhelmed and dejected I had two choices—smash my computer into a thousand unrecognizable pieces or hunker down and apply what I had learned.

I attended the following three conferences with a more realistic viewpoint and only one objective in mind, to glean as much knowledge as I could. If any other blessing came out of the process, it would be a bonus. At the 2011 writers conference an opportunity to submit a short story into a book called Kernels of Hope, by Bob and Gail Kaku was presented. I submitted two and to my amazement they accepted both.

Thereafter, financial pressures dictated I work long days beside my husband in our business and place writing into the category of a hobby. I journaled, scribbled short stories, and wrote copious amount of boring company polices, manuals, and emails. I put my novels aside, too exhausted at the end of a twelve-hour work day to think creatively. Oh, and I lamented to God. Thankfully he was faithful even when I was less than pleased with my circumstances. He used me to lead an employee to Christ just before he passed away with cancer and gave me numerous opportunities to share my love and faith with employees and customers alike.

November 2017 God gave the opportunity to return to writing. I reread a book I had started five years earlier and scratched my head. Where was I going with this? As a seat-of-the-pants writer only God knew. With a cup of tea and prayer, my imagination took flight. I finished the book in the next couple of weeks. (I use the word finish lightly, because all writers know that the first draft is horrific, the second, a marginal improvement, and the tenth draft a possibility.)

In spring of 2018 I was given the blessing of attending Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference once again. I looked forward to a reunion with two ladies I had met in 2009. (The connections and friends made at Mount Hermon are a lifetime gift.) Previous failure and gained knowledge led the way. I had my manuscript completed, a pitch perfected, and a one-sheet ready to share. I surrendered all to Jesus, but had also done the hard work of preparing to the best of my ability.

A God appointment followed. I had not intended to meet with the lovely Susan Stewart, senior nonfiction editor from Elk Lake Publishing, as the information had stated they were looking primarily for nonfiction. In conversation she asked me what I wrote with genuine interest. I happily shared my pitch and she asked for a meeting. That meeting, along with others, lead to four requests for a proposal.

The hard work of writing a proposal, more edits, beta readers’ input, and critiques ensued. Finally, in June, I sent the proposal off—and waited. In August that request for the full manuscript felt amazing—more waiting.

What a joy to hear in September that my long-time dream of becoming a published author was about to happen thanks to Susan for her gift of time, to Nick Harrison for becoming my agent, and to God for giving this opportunity. I also include my thanks to the many incredibly talented writer/teachers who helped me, and to Mount Hermon for providing a Christian environment in which an everyday person like me, can fail, can learn, can succeed, and make great friends along the way.

Blossom Turner

Blossom Turner is a freelance writer who has completed one nonfiction book and three romance novels with the first one, Anna’s Secret, due out this year. She is an avid blogger bringing faith and hope to the world. Currently blogging weekly on how to pray using the many names of God. Check out her website at

What Mount Hermon Taught Me About Writing and Life

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by Joseph Bentz

The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference has been a crucial part of my calling as a writer. Of the nine books I’ve published, all but the first one came from connections I made at Mount Hermon. I connected with my publishers and also found my agent there. I have made many friends at Mount Hermon and have also served as a faculty member at the conference about fifteen times.

Oddly enough, I didn’t really want to go to the conference the first time I signed up. I didn’t know much about writers’ conferences and had never heard of Mount Hermon. I signed up only because I happened to see a brochure that showed a particular editor I wanted to meet was going to be there. I went solely to see him. It was a seven-hour drive from my house, and at the last minute, I almost backed out.

I’m Glad I Went

The editor I wanted to see ended up canceling, so I didn’t meet him. But I fell in love with the conference anyway. I had brought nothing to pitch and had no idea what sessions I would attend, but I soaked in all the information I could and met fascinating people at every meal and in every workshop. With all these writers surrounding me, I had found my people. I was hooked on this conference.

The next year I came back more prepared, and I have attended most years ever since, either as a conferee or faculty member.

Important Lessons Learned

Mount Hermon has taught me some important lessons about writers and writers’ conferences. Here are a few that I wish I had known from the start:

• I don’t have to force everything to happen in my career as a writer.

As a newer writer, I often went to Mount Hermon feeling great pressure to get some specific result. I felt I had to meet a certain editor or had to get someone interested in a particular proposal. I eventually realized the best things that emerge from the conference are often much different from what I go there to seek.

One year I brought a proposal for a series of World War II novels I hoped to write. I got nowhere with that proposal, but on the evening before the conference officially started, I happened to sit down with an editor who listened to an idea I had for an entirely unrelated nonfiction book I thought about writing someday. She loved it and asked for my proposal. I told her I didn’t have one, I was just talking. I went home and worked on the idea and proposal over the next six months, and that led to a contract and a relationship with her publishing company, which resulted in my next five books, with more to come.

• Knowledge is important, but relationships are even more important.

Some people who can’t decide whether or not to go to a writers’ conference ask, why pay all that money to go to a conference? Can’t you get most of the same information online? If information were the only thing that mattered, I might agree. But I would not trade the relationships I have made at Mount Hermon for anything. I am not referring only to connections with editors and agents, as helpful as those have been. I’m talking about friendships I have formed with some of the most amazing people I have ever known. What’s not to love about a place stuffed with fellow writers and fellow Christians with remarkable stories to tell?  

• Some of the best answers I receive at the conference are for questions I didn’t even know to ask.

Mount Hermon has helped to expand my universe of what is possible for me as a writer. It opens up ideas, genres, markets, techniques, and opportunities that never would have occurred to me on my own. I go with my eyes and ears wide open, asking, what might I try next?

•  Mount Hermon is a spiritual place, bathed in prayer, and in the presence of the Holy Spirit for more than a century.

The physical beauty of Mount Hermon is inspiring, and the way God shows up is breathtaking. If you listen, he will speak to you there.

Joseph is mentoring a nonfiction clinic at Mount Hermon this year. The title of his sessions is Writing the Irresistible Nonfiction Book. Find out more about Morning Mentoring Clinics here.

Joseph Bentz

Joseph Bentz is published in both fiction and nonfiction, with four novels and five nonfiction books. His most recent book, Nothing is Wasted, was published in 2016 by Beacon Hill Press. His novel Dreams of Caladria was published by Enclave in 2015. He is currently at work on a book about passages of Scripture that have changed the world. He is a professor of English at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California, where he teaches courses in writing and American literature. His blog, Life of the Mind and Soul, can be found at He frequently teaches at writers’ conferences and also speaks at churches, professional conferences, and other venues around the country.

Early Bird Catches the Discount

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Attendees seated at Mount Hermon conference grounds

Haven’t registered yet for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference? Be an early bird and save $75 by registering before February 1st. Registration includes conference, lodging, and meals.

You don’t want to miss Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference’s golden anniversary celebration. A fifty-year milestone means a bash of epic proportions with lots of extra-special things planned, including four keynote speakers.

Registering now to secure your spot will not only save you money, but will help you secure your favorite housing option. Because lodging is limited, and with everyone wanting in on the celebration, accommodations are filling up quickly. Coming with friends? Just name your roommates when you register.

Don’t know anyone to room with? The registration team is skilled in teaming registrants with other like-minded people. Many lifelong friendships have been forged by meeting new roommates. (Read “Let God Pick Your Roommates.”)

If you like to eat (and, honestly, who doesn’t?), the meals are plentiful and delicious. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert—oh my. Buffet tables are loaded with options for a variety of eating styles. If you have specific food limitations, you may let the registration staff know by filling out the Special Dietary Information form.  This form must be submitted no later than MARCH 5.

The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference has always been multi-faceted: First Timers Contest, pre-conference mentoring clinics, morning mentoring, major morning tracks, afternoon workshops, advanced submission manuscript critique opportunities, optional activities, and mingling with agents, publishers, and your peeps—fellow writers.

Don’t wait. To save $75, head to our website and register now, (The early-bird discount will be applied after registration is complete.)

Interview with the Conference Director

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50 anniversary logo and Mount Hermon photo

2019 will be a special year for many of us: births, weddings, books published. It’s going to be extra special for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference — 50th Anniversary.

The party begins on April 10 with the Pre-Conference Mentoring Clinics. The main conference starts April 12 and runs through April 16. 

Here’s Director Kathy Ide talking to Patricia Durgin of about what you can expect when you attend Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Don’t delay. Register Now and take advantage of the early-bird discount of $75.

Take the First Step

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized, Writers Conference.

First timers contest


“Coming to Mount Hermon was a pivotal moment in my writing career,” a First-Timers Contest award winner said.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to experience the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, so you too could have that “pivotal moment.”

But maybe you’ve been in this First-Timers award winner’s shoes. “I had heard wonderful things about Mount Hermon, but our tight budget meant a conference was not in the cards this year.”

Guess what? If you’ve never attended and always wanted to go, you can enter the First-Timers Contest and perhaps win a full scholarship to the 2019 conference. Ten winners will each receive free registration, economy (multiple occupancy) lodging, and meals (travel expenses not included).

If you haven’t previously considered attending, you may want to consider what these contest winners said about the conference’s benefits:

    • “The faith on campus was palpable, and I was refreshed and restored in a way I was not anticipating. I left not only with a pocket full of contacts, but also a deep assurance that God had a plan and a purpose for my writing.”
    • “I walked away with some practical tools I needed, but God also confirmed what I had been sensing: that for me writing needs to be a ministry and that if I am with the Lord, I have everything I need.”

Already published? No, problem. The contest is open to both published and unpublished writers. Send a five-page fiction or non-fiction writing sample, one entry per person.  Entries must be in English and do not need to be overtly Christian but must have a Judeo-Christian worldview.

With no entry fee, all you need to do is polish those five pages and send them in. The deadline to enter is December 10 at midnight Pacific Standard Time.

There are guidelines that must be followed, so here are all the details.

You could be a winner and leave the conference repeating what these former winners said:

      • “The business of writing is full of ups and downs but the peace that I received at Mount Herman is sustaining me until I can come back for more next year!”
      • “I’m grateful for my time at Mount Hermon and the chance to attend as a contest winner. It was my first time at the conference, but I hope it won’t be my last.

The first step is the hardest. What are you waiting for? Take that first step.

Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference First-Timers Contest

Christy Award Winners Announced Soon

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Logo of christy awards

Joanne BischofThis week Christy Award finalists are waiting for the announcements—is their book a winner?

Mount Hermon attendees and faculty members have been represented among those finalists and award-winners. 2018 Mount Hermon faculty member Joanne Bischoff was one of those winners last year. Joanne’s book The Lady and the Lionheart is the first self-published book to receive the honor.

The Christy awards have accepted self-published titles for several years. Joanne had entered two previous titles, To Get to You and This Quiet Sky, both of which were finalists. Joanne says that “to have been awarded a Christy was a real dream of a lifetime.”

Cover the Lady and the LionheartThe Lady and The Lionheart has now been published in German, Romanian, large print, as well as an audiobook.

When asked if she will be publishing independently in the future, Joanne says she is writing a two-book series for Thomas Nelson at this time and is very content she will continue with them. However, she does have some fiction ideas, which may fall outside of their usual publishing realm, so may publish those stories independently.

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 7 in Nashville. Joanne will be serving on a panel of authors at The Art of Writing Conference. Registration for both events is open until November 8. Register for either event separately, or both for just $99.

Food, Friends, Fellowship: The Mount Hermon Dining Hall

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dining hall

“I find meals important for relationship building. The dining room atmosphere and staff make it possible for us to relax and enjoy the others at our table. Oh yeah, I’ve never had a bad meal.”

“Everyone who works there is pleasant and efficient.”

“Good variety of food, and plentiful!”

Who doesn’t like a good meal and great fellowship—together?

Mealtimes in the Mount Hermon dining hall are like conference gold. Good food, reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, meeting that special agent or publisher. Maybe even making that one special connection that changes your career as an author forever.

“The connections I made with people who get me have been priceless,” one attendee shared.

Another couldn’t help but gush about how she met her agent during a Mount Hermon dinner.

But have you ever thought about what it takes to provide that opportunity? All those meals?

Mount Hermon has served more than seven million meals in the same dining hall since 1989. That’s 240,000 meals each year. After thirty years, the dining hall and kitchen need some major renovations. New equipment, like four giant kettle pots and a tilt skillet, and structural repairs including under-floor pipes, the subfloor, ceilings, and significant repairs to the loading dock are critical—to the tune of $200,000.

Watch this video for more details.

Remember how you gratefully dished up barbecued chicken, pasta, salad, and veggies without having to clean up afterward? Think about that best friend you met over one of those meals. Or how about that agent or publisher who loved your pitch and, joy of joys, asked for a full manuscript over the French toast?

What are alumni saying about the meals and dining hall?

“I always appreciate the plentiful supply of salad and veggies,” said a guest.

“The food is always first rate and plentiful. They accommodate food sensitivities and allergies (please declare in advance). Good desserts too,” a member of the conference volunteer team told us.

We can’t forget the friendly and encouraging staff who have waited on us for years. Faculty, volunteers, and guests sing the praises of the staff:

“Food is top notch and the staff is amazing.”

“The networking and friendship building was out of this world.”

Bottom line, according to one attendee is, “We are spoiled rotten!”

Perhaps you can help so they can keep spoiling us in the dining room.

If you and everyone who has partaken of those 240,000 meals this past year donated only $1 for every meal eaten in the Mount Hermon dining hall, Mount Hermon could easily make that goal. Did you eat sixteen meals over the course of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference? That’s only $16.

Would you prayerfully consider giving to the Mount Hermon kitchen project? Any amount will help. You may give a gift online, just click here.

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.

How To Be An Expert

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symbols of experts

by Cheri Cowell

Do you consider yourself an expert? As speakers and writers, like it or not, we are seen as experts. Wearing the expert mantle takes some getting used to, but if we want to carry the message that’s been placed in our hearts into a world full of “experts” on just about everything, we need to get comfortable fast. Here are some things to consider in hanging your expert shingle out.

Experts Are Seen and Heard

First, experts are seen and heard in a variety of places. They are seen on television, in magazines, and online. They are heard on radio, TV, and at conferences. Experts have websites and books and articles. Experts speak and write on their topic. Have I described you? Consider expanding your arena if you’ve got limited exposure.

Experts Are Quoted

Second, experts are quoted. If you’ve written and spoken on a topic, you can be quoted. You are an expert. Register at these sites so you can be the next “expert” quoted:,, and (paid service).

Experts Speak

Lastly, experts speak. And if they are also Christians, they believe the message they have to share can change people’s lives. Now don’t confuse the word expert with know-it-all. No one wants to hear from a know-it-all Christian, but if you’ve published your message in an article or book, then you know more about that subject than the average person. You are, therefore, an expert. Register at this site to let others know you are an expert speaker:

Becoming a ‘Subtle’ Expert

The above suggestions are more “out there,” but there is a way to be more of a subtle expert. In today’s world, this approach may win more fans than you can signing autographs. We are bombarded today with experts touting their knowledge. You and I are just as turned off by it as our readers are. Perhaps this is why we shy away from calling ourselves an expert. We don’t want to be seen as “one of those people.”

So what is the answer? It is called Community Sharing. It is done through message boards and groups, where like-minded people gather online to share with each other. Here are the steps to be a part of a sharing community.

  • First, you need to understand it is a community. So you are not joining the community as an expert, but rather as someone also interested in the topic at hand. When you join, I suggest you simply lurk for a while. That’s right, lurk. Hang out and listen; get a feel for the lay of the land.
  • Next, when you feel compelled by someone’s need, offer your knowledge, your advice, and/or your words of encouragement. Remember, you are one of them, so come along beside them and offer your gifts as someone who’s been there and who understands.
  • Now, this is the magic–how to turn this into a subtle expert pitch. You will need to set up your profile, signature, or avatar (Google and Yahoo profile) to include a link to your website. Thus, when you give away great advice or just the right solution that helps someone, readers will click on your website in your signature to learn who you are. They don’t see this as “one of those” people selling themselves, but rather as someone who served them and who they want to get to know.

I liken this to the “Jesus way” of hanging out with sinners and meeting their needs. In community sharing, we are simply being Jesus in a broken world. When you meet their needs, they will want to know more and your more is where your expert status is developed on your website.

A couple of places to find boards and groups:

Whether you are a more traditional expert who is seen and heard, who is quoted and speaks, or a subtler expert who seeks to serve, don your expert mantle and get out there with the message God has given you. There are so many “experts” in the world with many messages, may your message be the one that points others to the One who is the real expert they seek.


Cheri Cowell headshot

Cheri Cowell, owner and publisher of EABooks Publishing, is passionate about helping others see God’s Word come alive, and she is excited to expand that mission by helping fellow authors take advantage of the new publishing trends. Says Cheri, “Whether your vision is e-books, print, or audiobooks, we can help you expand your reach with the message God gave you.” Cheri maintains a busy schedule teaching at Christian writers’ conferences. For a list of where you can meet or hear Cheri, or learn about publishing your own books visit


How to Guarantee Rejection of Your Guest Post Pitch

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six ways to guarantee your guest blogging pitch gets rejected

by Laura Christianson
This article was originally published at Re-printed with permission.

Here is the actual, unretouched text of a guest blogging pitch I received:

Dear Admin,

I have seen your blog I must appreciate your effort to maintaining such a good blog. As a professional writer and a web designer I found it very nice and interesting. I am a specialist in the clear communication of sophisticated concepts to both technical and non-technical audiences, using both text and graphical content. I will love to publish my unique latest article only in your blog. Will it be possible for you to post the article with my link?

Eagerly waiting for your reply.

Here’s another one:


While surfing Internet, I’ve run into your site – It caught my attention with it’s informative content. I thought it would be nice if you could consider me as a candidate for writing something interesting to your blog readers.
After detailed analyzing of the content performed on your web site, I came to conclusion that I really have something to offer.
I’m a highly experienced article writer, who is currently cooperating with [company buying incoming links].
If you are interested in my offer, I would gladly review your requirements to the post.

Will be highly excited to get your prompt reply.

A match made in heaven? Or hell?

In a creative twist on the two pitches above, many would-be guest bloggers note that the topics they write on are a “perfect” match for my blog. Then they list topics such as dog training, paintball gaming, restaurant furniture, designer fashion, or baby care.

Um… last time I checked, my blog focused on social media. But hey, dog training is close enough, right?

Every week, I receive dozens of nearly identical pitches. I route every single pitch straight into my Trash folder.


Here are six reasons:

1. The pitcher has no clue who I am.

“Dear Admin.”


“Dear Blog Manager.”

I have a name. It’s plastered all over my website and blog. If you’re going to pitch a guest article, learn my name and address me by my name.

2. The pitcher doesn’t care about my blog.

“While surfing the Internet, I’ve run into your site.”

Ouch! Running into my site must have injured your brain.

Never, EVER tell a blogger you stumbled across his or her blog. We know that all you did was google “social media blogs that accept guest blog posts” and inserted “” into the first sentence of the same pitch letter you sent out to 100 other blogs.

3. The pitcher oversells his or her writing abilities.

“I am a specialist in the clear communication of sophisticated concepts to both technical and non-technical audiences, using both text and graphical content.”

Can you provide examples of those “sophisticated concepts” you’re so skilled at communicating? How about a list of published clips? Topics you’ve written about?

4. The pitcher did not bother to read our guest contributor guidelines.

“If you are interested in my offer, I would gladly review your requirements to the post.”

Yes, we have guest contributor guidelines! If you had visited our website, you may have noticed them at the top of the blog’s sidebar, where a large headline says “Guest Post Guidelines.” Or, you could’ve done a quick search of our site for “guest post guidelines.”

Our guidelines detail exactly what we expect from our guest columnists, and specify that we do not accept links to third party sites that hire bloggers to write articles on their behalf. That’s because we received a truckload of poorly-written articles submitted by people who blog on behalf of some company that pays them to obtain incoming links to said company’s website.

After discovering that it took a lot of time to review and reject these articles, we decided to stop accepting them. Period.

5. The pitcher did not follow our guest contributor guidelines.

While many blogs accept pitches, Blogging Bistro does not. Our guidelines state:

We do NOT accept email pitches that ask us what we think of your idea. We do not open them. We do not read them. We do not acknowledge them in any way. We delete them.


We receive several pitches per day and there are not enough hours in the day to respond to them. Simply submit your article, bio, and headshot.

Yes, that requires work on your part. But it shows us that you’re a serious writer with serious intentions. We respect that.

So, dear pitchers, you are going to be eagerly waiting for my prompt reply for a very, very long time.

6. The pitcher does not know how to write.

“It caught my attention with it’s informative content.”

Aaargh! You just broke the cardinal rule of the English language by demonstrating that…

a) you do not know the difference between it’s and its.

b) you did not proofread your email.

This blunder is grounds for immediate expulsion of your email from my inbox.

“After detailed analyzing of the content performed on your web site, I came to conclusion that I really have something to offer.”

I work with several people who speak English as a second language, and all of them have a better grasp of sentence structure than you. What, exactly, do you have to offer that won’t make me gag?

Will they listen?

Do I assume the guest blogging pitches will stop as a result of my rant?


Because the people who need to read this article never will, unless they “run into it” while they’re surfing the internet. You can help that happen, by sharing this post with your friends and fans (and even your enemies).

I will be “highly excited” to get your prompt reply!


Click here to receive guest contributor guidelines for Blogging Bistro.


Laura Christianson

As the owner of a business that helps communicators establish a vibrant online presence, Laura Christianson receives oodles of guest post pitches daily. She promptly deletes 99.9% of them for one simple reason: writers do not read or follow her guest contributor guidelines. She mainly writes her own blog posts and focuses her energy on building custom WordPress websites and coaching people in brand messaging, blogging, and email marketing. Laura hangs out at

What You Need to Know about the GDPR

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

secure locks to protect private data

by Katie Hornor

In a modern digital world that is constantly changing, it’s important that we as Christians “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 4:15-16).

To that end, I want to make you aware of something that could affect Christian writers, bloggers, and business owners.

The European Union and the United Kingdom have initiated legislation called the Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to further safeguard the rights and the personal data of their residents, including IP addresses, names, email addresses, interests, and preferences. The EU expects anyone who handles the personal information of their residents to comply with their rules—even those who live in the US.

The EU and the UK have been working on this legislation for two years, but now there’s a deadline: May 25, 2018.

What do you need to do?

Without getting into too much tech talk, the GDPR legislation requires website owners and businesses to give users more say in the type of data collected, how it’s stored, how it can be requested or changed, and what can be done with it, including the third-party providers you use (for emails, giveaways, etc.).

If you’re in the EU you have no choice—you must comply or shut down your website. And you’re not given the option to block countries from your website (which would likely greatly affect your website speed anyway).

Many US-based website owners are allowing the myths they’ve heard about this to cloud their thinking, causing them to run in fear of what they do not understand. I’ve addressed some of those myths in my article “Mythbusting GDPR for US-based Bloggers.”

Does GDPR apply to me?

To answer this, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your site for EU residents or targeting them in any way?
  • Can you identify traffic coming from EU countries?
  • Do you have newsletter subscribers from EU countries?
  • Do you have customers/clients from EU countries?
  • Do you use Google Analytics or third-party data processors (including your newsletter service)?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, it is in your best interest to comply with GDPR. You don’t want to limit your opportunities to reach those God sends your way. You want to be a good steward of what God has placed in your hands under the existing authorities. And if you do everything within your power, as a US-based writer/website owner, to safeguard the information you collect from your EU readers, you probably won’t be assessed any fines.

The basis for GDPR is improving the online business culture of transparency, respect for other’s information, and trust with your readers, followers, and customers. So why wouldn’t you follow it? Compliance with GDPR shows that you care about people’s rights to make better choices. You care about the security of their privacy. You care about serving them better, even in the mundane technical issues of running a website. In short, you care about customer service and having great relationships with your people, which breaks down the barriers to sharing with them the message God has given you to share.

We could be seeing measures like this in the United States and state legislatures very soon. Not because someone is forcing us to obey another policy, but because with the growth of technology, there has to be a growth of protective policies and procedures.

What are your options?

I am not a legal expert, so I strongly advise you to research GDPR on your own and consult with a certified legal professional in regards to your decision whether to comply or defy GDPR. But here are the options as I see them.

  1. Block EU countries from accessing your website, blog, and store.
  2. Do nothing differently. A risky option.
  3. Be as compliant as possible with GDPR so as to not impede your opportunity to reach, market to, or have a testimony with EU residents.

If you’d like step-by-step help for making your US-based blog or website compliant, check out my course.

It’d be my pleasure to walk you through the process. You may also wish to visit these web pages:

photo of katie horner

Most days you’ll find Katie Hornor answering client emails or working on her next book in the front room ministry café of their 250-year-old home in tropical Mexico. She’s a Christian speaker, missionary, homeschool mom of five, author of more than forty self-published works and the #RelationshipMarketing brand behind and, where she thrives on helping women live in the Truth, while growing their influence and online income.

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

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

tired dragon resting on books

by Carrie Talbott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spacing out now …

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

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

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

Do I?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

Will I return next year? Heck yeah!

I mean yes. Lord willing, yes.

And they all wrote happily, forever, with laughter.

The End.

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

Get Ready for That Appointment

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

by Susan K. Stewart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Susan Stewart

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

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

Writing on the Deepest Places

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

lady walking in fall leaves

by Kelly Harrel

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

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

I found a lump. Please pray.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

kelly harrell

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

Get Your Professional Head Shot

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

photographer's camera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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