Posts Categorized: Writers Conference

How To Be An Expert

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

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: expertizing.com, PRLeads.com, and AuthorsAndExperts.com (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: ExpertsWhoSpeak.com.

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 http://www.eabookspublishing.com/

 

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 BloggingBistro.com. Re-printed with permission.

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

Dear Admin,

I have seen your blog http://www.bloggingbistro.com/. 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:

Hello,

While surfing Internet, I’ve run into your site – http://www.bloggingbistro.com/. 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.

Why?

Here are six reasons:

1. The pitcher has no clue who I am.

“Dear Admin.”

“Hello.”

“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 “http://www.bloggingbistro.com/” 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.

Why?

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?

No.

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 BloggingBistro.com.

What You Need to Know about the GDPR

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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 ParadisePraises.com and TheBlogConnection.com, 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

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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 carrietalbottink.com. 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

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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 www.practicalinspirations.com.

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

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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

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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.)

A Writers Conference with More

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dining hall

Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference is one of the premier conferences in the United States. It offers a wide variety of opportunities for all writers, no matter level of experience or genre. It is one of the few conferences that also has a variety of other chances for fellowship, worship, and recreation.

Night Owls

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights the night owls have an opportunity to tell their story, hear a concert, learn writing software, and more. The Night Owl Sessions are held from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Worship

“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12 ESV). As writers, we have the opportunity to be bold in our message. We are also called to be bold in worshiping the source of our message. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday open with Prayer and Praise led by Karen Ball. Sunday morning there will be an early morning hike to the cross, as well as Palm Sunday worship and communion service.

Fellowship

Food and beverages spark social interaction. Meal times, of course, are a good time to meet new friends and catch up with those we’ve known for a while.  The conference starts on Friday afternoon with

  • First Timers Orientation (1:45 p.m.)
  • Returners Reunion (1:45 p.m.)
  • Meet and Greet (3 p.m.) This will be the time to make appointments with faculty members.

On Monday evening, after Award night and General Session, the bookstore is open for an autograph party.

Each evening refreshments are served and the bookstore is open. This is a good time to unwind and make new friends. What’s more fun than discussing books with other writers?

Recreational Options

  • Go Kayaking on Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon, and/or Monday morning. (Free for conferees!)
  • Take a small-group Nature Hike on our campus trails Sunday afternoon. (Free for conferees!)
  • Go on a Guided Mountain Bike Ride through the beautiful Henry Cowell State Park on Sunday afternoon. (Free for conferees!)

Other activities include the Sequoia Aireal Adventure, Redwood Canopy Tour, and more. Details are here.

The Fieldhouse will open on Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon for foosball, pool, air hockey, ping pong, basketball, volleyball, and more

Bookstores

The Mount Hermon Bookstore and conference bookstore will be open each day with products from faculty members and attendees. (Did I mention an autograph party on Monday evening?)

Want a Professional Head Shot or Video?

If you don’t have a high-quality head shot, or if it’s been a while since you had yours taken, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity we’re offering this year.

The professional Mount Hermon photographers will be doing photo shoots at the conference for a very reasonable price. $75 for a 20-minute photo shoot in one or two locations, including digital photos. Sign up for a photo session will be at the Thursday Meet and Greet.

New this year is the opportunity to work with a professional videographer to create a three-to-five minute video for your website or social media. Each session is sixty minutes and customized for each individual. Sessions must be scheduled in advance. E-mail arsenaultkendra@gmail.com.

Check out the details of both of these opportunities.

 

Take a look at the schedule and plan now for learning, friendship, recreation, and worship.

Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Opportunity

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

a promise of rain book

by John Vonhof
Manuscript Retrieval Coordinator

One of the benefits of attending the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference is the opportunity to submit manuscripts for review by faculty. You may submit two manuscripts, pre-conference, by following the guidelines on the conference website. In this blog post, I’ll summarize the process.

Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Guidelines

You have several options. You can request an editorial review (not a critique) by an editor or agent as a possible match for their needs or you can request a critique by a professional writer. You may submit one or two manuscripts – one for a review and one for a critique, or both for one or the other. Not sure which to do? Here’s help.

  • Critique – If you primarily want an honest evaluation of your writing, its marketability, and to learn how you can sharpen your writing. You may receive a line-by-line critique of three to five pages, some general editorial pointers, and sometimes direction on places where you might submit the manuscript for publication.
  • Editorial Review – If you want to learn if a publishing house or magazine would be interested in publishing your manuscript or if an agent might like to represent you, request an editorial review.
  • A manuscript for pre-submission consists of:
    • One article or short story (1800 word maximum)
    • One article query, with outline (3 pages maximum)
    • One book proposal. Please do not send complete books.
    • Up to three devotionals or fillers (250–400 words each, maximum)
    • No more than three poems (24-line maximum each)
    • Manuscripts are limited to 10 pages plus the other components (a cover or query letter, a book proposal, a 1 or 2-page outline for nonfiction or synopses for fiction, etc.).

    Complete details are on the conference website. Here’s a direct link to the page with submission guidelines. It’s important to read the instructions for submitting manuscripts.

    • Manuscripts should be typed, with your name on each page.
    • Your manuscript should be double-spaced and single-sided. Other parts of your of your submission package may be single-spaced.
    • Manuscripts must be original (your work) and unpublished.
    • The Pre-conference Manuscript Submission Form must accompany your package.
    • Submissions must be received by Monday, March 19.

    What to Include

    It’s helpful to understand the different parts of what you may submit. Use this link to learn about query letters, book proposals, and the fiction and nonfiction components of each.

    If you are unsure how to write a query letter or book proposal, you are encouraged to check out any of the books available about proposals. My favorite book is Ryan G. Van Cleave’s The Weekend Book Proposal: How to Write a Winning Proposal in 48 Hours and Sell Your Book. It includes fiction and nonfiction proposal examples, a chapter on query letters, and lots of tips on the different components of a successful proposal. You can also search “query letters” and “book proposals” on the internet to see examples.

    Make sure whatever you submit is your best work. Double-check everything for spelling and grammatical errors. If you are part of a critique group, have them review your proposal and manuscript.

    Choosing Whom to Review or Critique Your Manuscripts

    The Editorial Needs webpage is an excellent resource to help you choose whom to send your submissions to. Use this list to learn what the editors and agents are looking for. For critiques, use the Freelance Specialty information to learn how they can help and the team member page to see who is on the team. Once the conference has started, the Manuscript Retrieval Team can help you think about faculty to approach about your manuscript.

    Digital Pre-Conference Manuscript Submissions

    For the second year, digital submissions will be accepted. Thirteen faculty members have agreed to look at digital submissions:

    • Dawn Anderson (editorial review Kregel Publications)
    • Karen Ball (critiques as a freelancer)
    • Jessica Barnes (editorial reviews for Bethany House Publishers)
    • Adria Goetz (editorial review Martin Literary Management)
    • Janet Grant (editorial review Books and Such Literary)
    • Jeanette Hanscome (critiques as a freelancer)
    • Jan Kern (critiques as a freelancer)
    • Christi McGuire (critiques as a freelancer)
    • Cynthia Ruchti (editorial review Books and Such Literary)
    • Mick Silva (critiques as a freelancer)
    • Susan K. Stewart (editorial reviews for Elk Lake Publishing)
    • Julie Williams (critiques as a freelancer)
    • Kathy Carlton Willis (critiques as a freelancer)

    If you wish to submit to any of these faculty members, please send your submission in a Word file to me at john@johnvonhof.com. Your submissions must conform to the same guidelines as the print submissions. Include all of your submission in one file. Have each item start on a new page in the file. If you include a query letter or book proposal, please have them at the front of the file. Please name your file like this: NAME-Title.doc. Submissions must be received by Monday, March 19.

    Your submission will be emailed before the conference starts to whomever of the thirteen you designate. You will receive your file and comments back in digital form too, so please bring a USB thumb drive.

    Packaging and Sending Your Manuscripts

    The Advance Manuscript Guidelines page has detailed information on submissions and the Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Form that you need to print and fill out. It needs to be sent with your manuscripts. For each manuscript submitted, you need to fill in your: name, title of manuscript, email, cell number, circle the type of manuscript, check either critique or editorial review and by whom, and add any comments. Make sure you read and follow the instructions on how to package and send your manuscripts. Be sure to check the appropriate box on the manuscript submission form—Critique by a Published Author or an Editorial Review.

    Each manuscript must be in a 9×12 manila envelope with the submission form taped to the top front side. Do not seal the envelope. If the envelope has a metal clasp, please tape over it and do not use it. Manuscript pages should not be stapled, clipped, or bound.

    Make sure you do not send your only copies of your manuscript. Either print an extra copy and bring it in a folder or bring your files on a USB thumb drive. The Hospitality Center can make copies from either source as needed for a nominal fee.

    If you hope to submit manuscripts to additional faculty at the conference, please bring a few extra 9×12 manila envelopes.

    Deadline for Pre-Conference Submissions

    All pre-conference submissions must be received at the conference center by Monday, March 19. Make sure your manuscripts are mailed early enough to make the deadline.

    When You’ll Get Your Manuscripts Back

    Saturday after lunch is the first opportunity to pick-up any manuscripts the faculty has returned. Others are returned after that, depending on faculty’s timing. Depending on what you submitted, and to whom, there will be a form inside the envelope providing feedback on your submission, whether the faculty member wishes to meet with you, or suggestions on other places to submit.

    Submissions After the Conference has Started

    Once the conference has started, you may talk to a faculty member who asks to see your manuscript. Request a signed form from the faculty member and process your manuscript through the Manuscript Retrieval system in the Hospitality Center. The Manuscript Retrieval Team will get the manuscript to the faculty member. The faculty’s first obligation is to those who submitted pre-conference submissions.

    All manuscripts must go through the Manuscript Retrieval System for tracking. Please do not hand your manuscript to an editor for review. Likewise, do not allow an editor to hand you your manuscript if it has not been checked back in through the system.

    The Manuscript Retrieval Team

    The Manuscript Retrieval Team, located in the Hospitality Center, is eager to help you with your manuscript questions. The team can look over your manuscript, query letter and book proposal, help you practice your pitch, and help with ideas on the faculty member who you might talk to about your manuscript. We’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the manuscript process.

Morning Mentoring Clinics and More

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

sunrise over the mountains

Unlike other writers’ conferences, the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference offers many options for attendees to choose from. One option is the Morning Mentoring Clinics. (Deadline for application is tomorrow, March 1.)

The clinics are designed for writers who have some writing and publishing experience. The goal is to give fiction and nonfiction writers concentrated time for having their works-in-progress critiqued in a knowledgeable, supportive, and realistic manner. Skilled professionals in each genre are committed to coming alongside the attendees.

Sarah Sundin says this about the fiction mentoring clinics:

Imagine spending three mornings with half a dozen other serious novelists, learning from one another and from a published author. In the Fiction Morning Mentoring Clinics at Mount Hermon, authors Gail Roper (contemporary), Lindsey Franklin (fantasy and speculative), Joanne Bischof (romance), Ginny Yttrup (crossover), and Sarah Sundin (historical, contemporary, women’s fiction, and romance) will lead groups of no more than six writers.

In these groups, writers will have a chapter or two critiqued by the other participants and the published author. By analyzing one another’s writing, we learn techniques that sing and pitfalls to avoid. Each published author will tailor the time to the needs of the group, offering writing exercises, teaching, or discussion time. For example, in my clinic last year, we had mini-workshops on dialogue and point-of-view, topics the participants had requested.

If this appeals to you, and if you have some writing experience and wish to take your fiction skills to the next level, apply for a clinic today!

Jan Kern, one of the nonfiction mentors, says:

Our nonfiction mentoring clinics offer a dynamic small-group setting that is perfect for writers desiring focused direction for their works-in-progress. This year we have two mentors, each ready to come alongside you in your specialized area of interest: general, men’s or women’s nonfiction, spiritual formation, devotional, Bible study, or personal-experience stories.

Participants will interact with their mentor, a skilled professional in their genre, along with five other participants in their group. Come and make connections, layer in new learning and perspective into your writing, experience the synergy of creative interaction, and discover momentum for your work in progress.

The Mentoring Clinics meet each morning opposite the Major Morning Tracks and are by application only. Fiction and Nonfiction Clinics are limited to six students each. Applications are processed and the writers placed in groups in the order the applications are received. Application deadline is tomorrow, March 1.

Other morning options include Major Morning Tracks. There are seven comprehensive courses to choose from, each one designed with three parts packed with benefits. All included in the main conference fee.

  • Receive instruction from top-notch industry professionals.
  • Apply some of the principles in your own writing.
  • In an afternoon critique group Saturday and Monday, share your writing for constructive response and/or brainstorming.

If neither of those options is right for you, why not make the Mount Hermon writers’ conference a writing retreat? Start your day in a Prayer & Praise session with Kim Bangs, or take a prayer walk along one of the beautiful redwood trails, or seek divine guidance in the Mount Hermon chapel. Join us for a delicious, healthy breakfast. Then spend the rest of the morning writing whatever God lays on your heart to work on.

After lunch, do more writing or take some workshops, meet with the Critique Team, have appointments with faculty members, or enjoy some of the recreational opportunities available to conferees. If you get stuck, spend some time with our Prayer Partners in the chapel. After dinner, be inspired by our evening worship and keynote speaker … or do more writing. You’ll be amazed at how much quality work you’ll get done in this inspiring atmosphere!

Register today for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference!

 

 

 

Dream Bigger Dreams

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the word dream with pencil

by Allen Arnold

The world can be hard on our dreams. What once seemed so likely, now feels partial at best. Our best -laid plans laid to rest, sacrificed for other more pressing needs.

It feels like such loss. Not just a loss of our dreams, but also of hope and heart.

I mentor a wide spectrum of writers. Some are at the start of their calling, expectant at all that awaits them. But for others, their attempts at story have been met with heartache and disillusionment. Why would I have this creative desire if this is all there is? Maybe it’s time to give up.

Perhaps you find yourself there, wondering if it’s time to move on or radically downsize your dreams.

I have much better advice.

It’s actually time to dream bigger dreams.

That may feel counter-intuitive or even cruel, especially if your earlier dreams still haven’t materialized.

But it’s actually the kindest advice I know. Because I don’t just want you to dream bigger, I want you to dream differently.

I want you to dream with God this time. Which is the opposite of asking God to come alongside your dreams and make them happen?

We were never meant to dream alone. When we do, we give our dreams wings way too small for the places God longs to take us.

In my book The Story of With, I describe it this way.

When we only consider the options we know are possible, we miss the higher options of God. Yet as a good Father, he invites his children into a future that surpasses human limitations or expectations. Where we see three possible options, God sees endless possibilities. But he will leave us with our three if we refuse to invite him into the process. Thankfully, he stands ready to share his higher options once we’re ready to release our best options.

Whatever we can accomplish purely in our own strength means those dreams were way too small. Pursue instead the dreams God whispers to you, the ones so big they can only be achieved together…with him.

If you’re ready to start dreaming those bigger dreams, a great place to start is with this simple yet profound question: Father, what are your dreams for me – the ones you’ve created me for and that we get to enter into together?

 (This blog post originally appeared on NovelRocket.com, where Allen Arnold is a monthly contributor.)

Hear Allen Arnold present more about dreaming at Mount Hermon Writers Conference, March 23-26. Registration is open.

Allen Arnold photoAllen Arnold is the author of The Story of With, an allegory about creativity that fuses together elements of identity, imagination, intimacy, and creative fellowship with God and fellow bohemians. He knows first-hand how common it is for writers to become disheartened, isolated, and overwhelmed—as well as the freedom that comes by making the “shift to with” into truer identity and calling. As the founding Fiction Publisher for Thomas Nelson, Allen oversaw the development of more than five hundred novels that spanned every genre. He now oversees content at Ransomed Heart, a ministry in the mountains of Colorado founded by John Eldredge, the New York Times best-selling author of Wild at Heart. His favorite way to spend the day is with his family—in whatever that day’s adventure may hold. He loves blue oceans, black coffee, hot salsa, and big ideas. Get to know Allen at withallen.com.

Fantasy, Sci-fi, Spec Fiction … Huh?

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fantasy panorama

by Lindsey Franklin

I tell people Mount Hermon is my home conference. It’s not an exaggeration to say Mount Hermon helped launch my career. I met my agent, many of my editing clients, several critique partners/heart friends, and both of the editors with whom I would go on to contract a total of six books (so far). Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

I’m honored to be on faculty for the first time this year, and in one of my favorite teaching roles—small group mentoring. Mentorship clinics and groups are amazing opportunities for one-on-one instruction with authors who have traveled the path before you, as well as those writers traveling alongside you. Their feedback and insights are invaluable. If you’re ready for a major growth spurt in your writing, please check out the pre-conference clinics and the main conference morning mentoring groups. Group size is limited so you’re guaranteed deep, personal attention, and there’s a group for every genre and every writing focus.

Since I’m leading both a pre-conference clinic and a mentoring clinic for speculative fiction writers this year, I thought I’d briefly explain the difference in focus for my two groups. Maybe one is right for you. I’d sure love to have you.

Pre-Conference Boost

Have you thought about tiptoeing into the speculative fiction world but don’t have any idea how to write in those strange genres? (It’s okay…spec fic writers know we’re kind of strange.) Maybe you’re a historical fiction author who has a time-travel idea. Or you might write Victorian romance and you have an awesome new plot with some steampunk technology and you’re not sure what to do with it. Perhaps you write contemporary fiction and you have that one crazy urban fantasy idea that won’t quiet down. Perhaps you usually write thrillers and your next story has some tech that doesn’t actually exist yet.

In the pre-con clinic, I’d like to help writers of all skill levels wade into speculative waters, maybe for the first time. This is a “no dumb questions” space for all your brainstorming needs. We’ll discuss different genres that fall under the speculative umbrella, tropes readers love, clichés they hate, and what’s the same and what’s different about building a speculative story. I write fantasy, contemporary fiction, and even nonfiction (what!), so I understand both sides of this coin. I love bridging the gap and helping writers explore the uncharted and get in touch with their wild sides. Join me?

This group would also be excellent for someone who knows they want to write speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, and all the glorious sub-genres) but is perhaps just getting serious about their writing. I will address the writing craft problems I tend to see over and over in speculative manuscripts. You’ll leave equipped with practical tools to make all your imaginings come to life.

Morning Mentoring Clinic

During the main conference, the mentoring clinic will focus on serious spec writers who know their genres and want focused feedback on their works-in-progress. This group is designed for writers with intermediate writing/publishing experience. We’ll dive deep into story here, addressing characters, plot, tension, voice, and premise, while also addressing specific craft issues in each manuscript. This group is perfect for writers wanting in-depth critique with their fellow “weirds” who won’t bat an eyelash at their urban fantasy manuscript about gremlins who have infected the books at the local library, or their high fantasy detailing an epic struggle between good and evil, or that hard sci-fi story about extracting dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes trapped in amber and using it to create a theme park with real dinos. Except I think someone already wrote that last one.

Any of this sound tempting? Hope to see you in March, fellow wordsmiths.

Pre-conference Boost details

Morning Mentoring Clinics

Register for Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Lindsey FranklinLindsay A. Franklin is an award-winning author, award-winning freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. She spends a lot of time in made-up worlds, and she’s passionate about sparking imagination through stories of infinite possibility. Her debut fantasy novel, The Story Peddler, releases in May. When she’s not exploring the fantastical, she’s exploring the Bible and encouraging young women through her devotional books, Adored and Beloved. Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her husband (master of the dad joke), their awesomely nerdy kids (Star Wars super-fans, all three), two thunder pillows (AKA cats), and a stuffed wombat with his own Instagram following (@therealwombatman). You can find Lindsay on social media, too, if Wombatman hasn’t hijacked all her accounts. www.facebook.com/LindsayAFranklin.

An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving a Writers’ Conference

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people visiting outside at mount hermon

by Jeanette Hanscome

“I don’t think I have the right personality for the writing world,” I told my friend. “I’m not bold enough.”

I’d just watched one of my fellow conferees hop up from her chair and cross the dining hall to ask a well-known author to endorse her novel. It was all I could do to request an editor appointment without shaking and answer “What kind of writing do you do” without tripping over my own words.

My friend leaned across the table, “Every year, I have a moment when I wonder the same thing. I think a lot of us do. Writers tend to be shy, yet we come to these conferences and are forced to talk to editors and do all kinds of things that we normally wouldn’t.”

I tried to hide my shock. My friend was a member of the faculty, a pillar of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and here she was admitting to being just like me—insecure and shy. Knowing I wasn’t alone erased the lie that I had to become like that woman in the dining hall in order to make it as a writer.

Since then I’ve discovered that even the writers who can cross the room to ask, “Will you endorse my novel?” are doing it scared to death. I’ve lost track of how many author friends—successful authors whose names you would recognize—have told me, “I’m an introvert.”

Just today, I read an article titled, “23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert.” Number 22 was “You’re a writer.”

So, if one of your pre-conference fears is, “I’m an introvert,” know you will be in good company at Mount Hermon. It will also help you to apply these survival tips:

  • Plan to step out of your comfort zone. If we avoid everything that makes us uncomfortable (for example, having a conversation), we won’t get very far in life let alone the publishing industry. Each day, plan to do at least one thing that requires stretching yourself, such as requesting an appointment with an editor or visiting the Critique Team. If it helps, ask a friend to be your accountability partner. Definitely have friends pray for you. Each one will get a little easier, I promise.
  • See yourself as brave. I used to think I was weak because I felt scared so much of the time, until I discovered that others thought I had guts because I went to writers’ conference and submitted my work for publication. It took a while for me to recognize that seeing myself as weak compounded the challenges of being an introvert by messing with my confidence. Your willingness to attend a major writers conference and put yourself out there is a big deal. In moments of fear, remind yourself how strong you are just for signing up.
  • Take breaks. You probably don’t need to be told that large crowds and endless conversation are exhausting for an introvert and can cause a lot of anxiety. Give yourself permission to go to your room for a while in the afternoon, skip a workshop, hang out in the bookstore, or go to bed early. Every session is recorded.
  • Reach out to other introverts. If you see someone who always seems to be sitting alone, say hello. Sit together during general sessions. Suggest having coffee together. You might discover that you have a lot more in common than your personality type.
  • Know that it is okay to be quiet. One nice thing about being surrounded by other introverts is we don’t think quiet people are anti-social and weird. I bet you’ve been described as a “gentle spirit” or “deep thinker” in addition to “quiet,” and those are pretty high compliments. In moments when you catch yourself thinking, I don’t have the right personality for this, remember, if introverted is how God wired you and he gave you the passion to write, you have the right personality for this. You just need to push through a few fears.
  • Plan for some post-conference downtime. A five-day conference will take a lot out of anyone, but for those of us who are introverts, coming down from the mountaintop can take days. Be prepared to feel tired and in need of space. If it’s possible to take a day off after the conference or go to work late, do it. If not, at least plan for quiet evenings at home between Tuesday and Easter Weekend. Give yourself time to reflect on all that God did at Mount Hermon, and how He used the conference to grow your confidence.

Meet other introvert writers. Register today for Mount Hermon Writers Conference.

Jeanette Hanscome is an author, speaker, freelance editor, and busy single mom. Her book Suddenly Single Mom: 52 Messages of Hope, Grace, and Promise was published by Worthy Inspired in March 2016. She has written four other books, hundreds of articles, devotions, and stories, and contributed to Kathy Ide’s Fiction Lover’s Devotionals 21 Days of Grace and 21 Days of Love, as well as Ellie Claire’s Just Breathe. In 2012, she coauthored Running with Roselle with blind 9/11 survivor Michael Hingson.

Though she has been visually impaired since birth, Jeanette refuses to allow her limitations to hold her back from doing the things she loves. When she isn’t writing, Jeanette enjoys teaching writing workshops, speaking, and mentoring writers. She pours her leftover energy into singing, knitting, and crocheting, and dabbling in new areas of creativity. Jeanette is the mother of two wonderful sons—one young adult and one teenager.

Jeanette is presenting “When Life Gets in the Way of Your Writing” at this year’s Writers Conference.

Be Bold—Take a Boost Clinic!

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

rocket launch

by Jan Kern
Pre-Conference Boost Clinic Coordinator

You’ve probably already noticed; the 2018 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference’s theme this year is “BOLD.” That’s fitting. The conference days are packed with opportunities to be bold in moving further into the passion you have to write words that make a difference and change lives.

One of those opportunities takes place even before the main conference begins—during the Pre-Conference Boost Clinics. What a bonus. Whether you’re a new writer or seasoned writer, there is a Boost Clinic for you.

Our Boost Clinic offerings include fiction and nonfiction clinics for those who are just beginning to dip a toe or foot into the professional writing world. For those who have already jumped in and have begun to create their unique splash, we have intermediate to advanced clinics for you. We also have included a mixed-level speculative fiction clinic for those who are writing in this genre or interested in having fun trying it on.

Our mentors are already developing their plans for their clinics, and wow are they getting creative. Which one calls to your bold side?

Be bold pre-conference logo

Want to hear what others have said about pre-conference clinics? Here you go:

Because of the small class size, I received constructive one-on-one feedback that has greatly improved my writing. Don’t go another year without taking advantage of this unique opportunity to master your writing craft. It is well worth your time and money.—Penelope C.

The small group allowed me to establish friendships with other writers who were also learning the craft. The mentor, a veteran published writer, provided personal guidance that I wouldn’t have achieved in a larger group setting or from reading the many books I have on writing—Stephen H.

The group was a perfect mix of preparation, commitment, and experience. The information and tools shared helped propel my work to a level of professionalism I needed but didn’t know how to create. My mentor encouraged me and guided me in seeing the overarching idea and organization of my project, and I was able to look at my book proposal and book with fresh eyes and a renewed passion for the content.—Billie J.

The intimacy of our group and the encouragement launched friendships and editing partners, and truly created a safe a loving space to grow and learn as a new writer. Our mentor created this space and worked wholeheartedly to help us dig deep in order to reach the truth in ourselves, which makes for authentic and meaningful writing.—Lydia T.

By far, the most impacting part of the mentor relationship has been their encouragement as they pinpointed my strengths, highlighted my growth points, and lifted me to the next level in my writing process. What I found equally profound and enjoyable were my writing peers who expressed joy, honesty, and belonging as we pressed into our works, our hopes, and our writing process. —David L.

Ready to get bold and give your writing a boost with a Pre-Conference Boost Clinic?

Check out the details and application process here.

photo of Jan KernJan 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. She is the author of the Live Free series (Standard Publishing), launched in 2007 with Scars that Wound, Scars that Heal: A Journey Out of Self-Injury, a 2008 ECPA Gold Medallion finalist. In the series, she intertwines a narrative style with fiction techniques to tell the true stories of teens and young adults who struggle with pain and brokenness. She knows about writers in transition as she moves from the teen world into writing and ministry for women. She serves alongside her husband, Tom, at a residential ministry for at-risk youth and recently co-founded with her daughter Voice of Courage, a multi-generational organization for women.

I Don’t Belong Here

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

check sign from the street

by Christy Hoss

The closer I got to Mount Hermon driving up Conference Drive, the tighter the knots in my stomach became. My foot left the accelerator long enough to slow down my anxious thoughts. “What am I doing? I don’t belong here. I’m not a professional writer.” I’ll be an inkwell and parchment trying to fit into an electronic world.

The Mount Hermon sign loomed into view.

I had just begun pursuing my second-grade dream of writing novels. My first attempt at chasing that dream had been sent ahead for manuscript review with great trepidation. Certainly, this was not where I belonged. I stopped the car and looked for the first place to turn around. Fortunately, vehicles lined up behind forcing me to move forward.

Pulling into the first spot by the post office, I thrust the car into park and took a deep breath. Slumping forward on the steering wheel, I startled an unsuspecting pedestrian as the horn blared with great volume announcing my arrival.

My cheeks heated 100 degrees. “I shouldn’t be here.” But God reminded me that my sister had paid my tuition because she believed in my dream. I couldn’t disappoint her. Swallowing the lump of fear in my throat, the stomach ropes tied a few more knots as I stepped out of the car.

Every lifted foot ascending the stairs to registration made me wonder if my choice of shoes that morning had been cement. The glory of majestic Redwoods next to the office shouted to me, “Keep moving upward,” and I opened the door to possibilities my conference experience would bring.

I prayed for strength, wisdom, and guidance. At lunch, I met another conferee, also there for the first time and we became BFFs. I decided I’d be a sponge and soak up as much as I could. I didn’t have an agenda and didn’t know where to start. I came in faith, trusting God hoping for direction.

God did not disappoint. The first afternoon workshop I took was “The Call to Write.” I walked into the Laurel meeting room for my “divine appointment.” Every word spoken confirmed I was meant to be there. God’s presence flooded my anxious heart, overcoming all my fears. I belonged at Mount Hermon.

With fear conquered by the grace of God, I pressed on into my first conference, gleaning information and gathering resources, meeting lifelong friends. I left feeling full and confident I was a writer walking the path of my calling.

Don’t let fear keep you from pursuing your dreams. Trust God, seek his face and he will lead you by his righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:9-10).

Christy Hoss headshotChristy Hoss caught the writing bug in second grade when she won a prize for a story about her dog. Her true story is fictionalized in Cry of the Night Bird (2012). She has written for Focus on the Family and Guideposts magazines. She writes sweet romance for adults and fun children’s stories about playing with Jesus using Bible accounts. She started Type One Editing and Writing Consultations to help writers pursue their dreams using her editing experience and advice. Christy lives in Northern California with the love of her life Kevin and they have three adult children. Visit Christy’s website at www.christyhoss.com.

Giving Place to Teens

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mount hermon teen writer track

by Shannon Dittemore

Why do we tell stories? Why does it matter? And what does success truly look like?

Young people are telling stories and they want to do it well.

If you are one of those courageous young people, Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference has created a weekend track just for you.

Authors Jill Williamson, Paul Regnier, and I could not be more excited about our time together. The three of us have different backgrounds and different styles, but we’re united by a passion for the art, a desire to honor God with our writing, and a love of all things fantastical.

Together, we’re prayerfully crafting a series of lessons that will not only dig into the mechanics of writing fiction but also the purpose driving what we do.

We’ll talk about building worlds and developing characters. We’ll do our very best to unravel the mysteries of structuring a story. We’ll brainstorm and we’ll plot, and because you’ll be learning from three different instructors, you’ll get an extended look at the various ways authors create, and perhaps find some things that work for you.

When you leave Mount Hermon, we want your hands full of tools to try out and your heart overflowing with inspiration. We hope to provide you with the kind of encouragement that has you excited to sit down in the chair and turn those ideas into stories. And we’d like to give you enough information so that you can begin to consider whether or not writing as a career is something you’d like to pursue.

To that end, we’ve carved out time in our schedule for plenty of personal interaction. In our three Night Owl sessions, we’ll share our own publication journeys and answer any questions you might have about the process. If you have work you’d like us to look at, send us the first five pages in advance, and we’ll be happy to provide you with feedback.

We know there are many factors to consider when selecting a conference and, this year, Mount Hermon has made it easier than ever for young writers to attend. A 20% discount is available for teen registrants, while the adults who accompany them may pay the full amount and participate in everything the conference has to offer, or skip the instructional sessions and appointments altogether and take $500 off the total price. Please see the full website for details. We hope you’ll prayerfully consider joining us this March.

Until then, teen writers, know you have authors cheering you on, praying for you, and hoping the best for the stories God has placed in your hearts. Here’s hoping we get a chance to meet you this year at Mount Hermon.

Register for the Teen Track today.

 

Shannon Dittmore photoShannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She attended Portland Bible College, has performed with local theater companies, and has an affinity for mentoring teen writers. Since 2013, Shannon has taught mentoring tracks at a local school, where she provides junior high and high school students with an introduction to writing and the publishing industry. She blogs weekly for Go Teen Writers, posting instruction and encouragement for aspiring authors while emphasizing the importance of community. Shannon, her husband, Matt, and their two children make their home in Northern California.

Let God Pick Your Roommate

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log camp bed

Interested in attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference? Need to go with “shared economy lodging”? Don’t know anyone to room with? Our Registration Team matches conferees who don’t indicate a roommate preference, based on time zone, age range, and a lot of prayers.

Here’s what some of our past conferees have said about their experiences of signing up for shared lodging and letting the Mount Hermon registration team choose their roommates:

“I was super nervous going without knowing a soul and having a stranger for a roommate. I chose to trust that God would bless my time there and help me through my anxiety about it. My roommate and I did not spend all our time together and become BFFs, but our time together glorified God. We laughed, cried, shared deep things, and prayed together. I am glad I trusted the Lord and gave it a chance. God in His graciousness grew me and I let Him. No regrets.”

“It worked out fine for me. It was always a good experience getting to know someone else on the writing journey. Many of my roommates didn’t return, but those who did became long-term friends.”

“I roomed with strangers for my first several years of attending Mount Hermon and met a lot of nice people that way. In fact, I started looking forward to who I would meet so much that when I ended up in a private room unexpectedly one year (my roommate must have canceled), I was kind of disappointed.”

“I had a great time with my assigned roommate at the writers’ conference. I only did it once, but it turned out we were both night owls and enjoyed our time together. We kept up with each other for years.”

“I’ve been to the conference five times and God orchestrates divine connections every single time I go. Sometimes it’s my roomies, other times it’s someone else. Like many writers, I’m a total introvert. Having one or more roommates is a good experience, apart from the challenges of being a light sleeper paired with snorers! (I did not sleep a wink last time, but I enjoyed long quiet times on the balcony with Jesus, so that was sweet). I’m still connected with a few past roomies (one is currently on my book launch team), and always see God’s hand in all of it.”

Don’t let finances or nervousness keep you from experiencing the divine appointments, inspiration, encouragement, and craft-honing that await you at Mount Hermon Writers Conference 2018. You may just make a new lifelong friend as well.

Take a look at the housing options for the writers’ conference.

Register for Mount Hermon Writers Conference.

Meet Keynote Speaker Allen Arnold

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dishes of salsa

Allen Arnold is the author of The Story of With, an allegory about creativity that fuses together elements of identity, imagination, intimacy as we pursueAllen Arnold photo creative fellowship with God and fellow bohemians. He knows first-hand how common it is for writers to become disheartened, isolated, and overwhelmed—as well as the freedom that comes by making the “shift to with” into truer identity and calling. Allen reveals how creative interests and desires actually serve as a supernatural homing device, drawing us closer to God as we pursue what we are most passionate about from an awakened heart.

As the founding Fiction Publisher for Thomas Nelson, Allen oversaw the development of more than five hundred novels with a wide range of writers from NY Times bestselling authors to debut novelists. He now oversees content at Ransomed Heart, a ministry in the mountains of Colorado founded by John Eldredge, the New York Times best-selling author of Wild at Heart.

Allen’s favorite way to spend the day is with his family—in whatever that day’s adventure may hold. He loves blue oceans, black coffee, hot salsa, and big ideas. Kathy Ide had Allen fill out a fun questionnaire to get to know him a little better for her blog. Enjoy!

Allen’s fun facts:
In college, I had a secret identity. I made appearances dressed in the official Captain Crunch uniform to promote the cereal.

Favorite pastime:
Coaching basketball for my kids.

Something most people would be surprised to find out about you:
I drink salsa by the glass … the hotter, the better.

Besides the Bible, what’s one of your favorite books and why?
The Song of Albion trilogy by Stephen Lawheadbecause he does a masterful job of taking readers to a mystical thin place where realities bleed together in ways that leave the reader as transformed as the characters.

One person you would love to meet and why:
Damon Lindelofhe’s the co-creator of the television series Lost, which blew my mind and remains, to me, the best television series to air. I’d love to discuss story and creativity with this brilliant artist. Okay, him and Daniel (I’ve got some questions about his time in the Lion’s Den).

Learn more about Allen at withAllen.com.

Allen joins LIz Curtis Higgs as keynote speakers at Mount Hermon Writers Conference, March 23-27, 2018. Register today.

Why Is This Taking So Long?

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woman waiting

by Janet Hanscome

I knew I should be happy for my roommate, but when she shared her exciting news—“I have an agent”—tears came almost immediately. I’d been attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference for seventeen years and still didn’t have an agent, despite writing three work-for-hire books with Focus on the Family. Eight years had passed since the last one hit the shelves. I’d followed through on invitations to submit book proposals and a request for a complete novel manuscript, only to have every one of them turned down. Now I was going through a divorce and trying to survive as a single mom on a freelance writer/editor’s income. If ever I needed doors to open it was now. Instead, they were opening for my friends.

Two and a half years later, my dream of finding an agent—my dream agent, in fact—had finally come true. But the book proposal that she loved so much—a devotional for single moms—still hadn’t found a home.

For the first time since attending my first writers’ conference in 1995, I considered setting writing aside.

I was tired of arriving at conferences with nothing to show for my efforts while my friends arrived with new releases.

Tired of writing proposals for books that nobody wanted.

Tired of wanting what I couldn’t have.

Two thoughts kept me from quitting:

  • The reality that I would be miserable if I did.
  • If this was a test of my commitment to writing (How badly do you really want this?), I didn’t want to fail.

I’m so glad I didn’t quit! A few months later, my agent found a publisher for my devotional, and in March 2016, it released on the last day of the Mount Hermon conference.

This might sound shocking, but I am now grateful for the frustrating timing.

  • If the first agent I connected with at Mount Hermon had signed me, or the second, I wouldn’t have the wonderful agent who represents me now.
  • When I think back on my early book proposals and that completed novel, I still had so much to learn about the craft, marketing, and which genre suited me best. Most of my ideas flowed from personal struggles that were still unresolved. Now that I was in a more professionally and emotionally mature place, I saw what a disaster those other projects might have been if accepted.
  • By the time I signed the book contract, I had twenty-year’s-worth of relationships to draw on for endorsements, reviews, guest blog posts, and influencers.
  • The book flowed from my experience as a newly-single mom—so while exciting things happened for my friends, God had been at work in me as I lived my future material and developed a heart for hurting women.
  • I had six months to complete my first draft. By the time I sat down to write it, my post-divorce life had settled down, and I’d done enough healing to revisit some painful memories.
  • God timed my release date so it fell during the conference where I first sensed His call to write, and where I would be surrounded by friends who’d been part of my very long journey, including my healing journey. It was like a five-day launch party!

Perhaps you are feeling like I did a few years ago—like no matter how hard you work, and no matter how long you study the craft, exciting things always seem to happen for your roommate instead of you. Maybe you enjoyed some success only to have your writing life get stalled.

Maybe, like me, you have considered quitting. As you consider attending Mount Hermon in 2018, I encourage you to draw on the valuable lessons that I learned from this long period of waiting.

  • Waiting often tests how badly we want something. How happy would you be if you stopped writing? If you know you would be miserable, ask God for renewed patience, trust, and wisdom as you seek His direction.
  • You probably get sick of hearing this, but we really can trust His timing. He not only knows when we are ready craft-wise, but also which agent we need, when we are emotionally ready to take on a daunting task like a book, and when we will have time to write it well. He knows who our audience really is, and what we need to experience in order to minister to them through our stories.
  • This is not wasted time. Consider what you are learning while you wait for that long-awaited yes. Take advantage of this opportunity to hone your craft, find your voice and niche, build relationships within the publishing community, and grow your platform. If you are going through something difficult, pay attention to what God is teaching you, and what you will have to offer others later.

In those moments when you find yourself crying, Why is this taking so long? take time to record the benefits that you discover in waiting for your dream to become reality.

Have you been waiting for your writing career to take off? This may be the year. Be BOLD, register now for Mount Hermon Writers Conference.

Jeanette Hanscome is an author, speaker, freelance editor, and busy single mom. Her book Suddenly Single Mom: 52 Messages of Hope, Grace, and Promise was published by Worthy Inspired in March 2016. She has written four other books, hundreds of articles, devotions and stories, and contributed to Kathy Ide’s Fiction Lover’s Devotionals 21 Days of Grace and 21 Days of Love, as well as Ellie Claire’s Just Breathe. In 2012, she coauthored Running with Roselle with blind 9/11 survivor Michael Hingson. Visit Jeanette’s website https://jeanettehanscome.com/

Say Something Nice

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encouragement is optimism in action

Large writers’ conferences can be encouraging and discouraging at the same time. For some writers, disappointment comes during a much-anticipated appointment or not getting the most desired appointment or a manuscript critique. Keynote speaker, Liz Curtis Higgs, gives us advice to encourage others from her book It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba.

It’s Good to Encourage Others

When I’m asked, “What do you like to do for fun?” my standard answer is read long novels, travel to new places, and watch old movies. But my favorite thing to do is encourage people. Just the best.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3 (and free).

  1. Keep an eye out for people who need a little boost (we all do).
  2. Ask the Lord for the right thing to say that will lift their spirits.
  3. Share that encouraging thought for His glory and their pleasure.

Ta-da!

So simple, yet what a profound difference a few kind words can make.

  • For a young mother who’s fretful about her energetic kids giggling and wriggling in their seats at church, in a restaurant, at the movies:
    “Your children are so happy. You must be a terrific mom!”
  • For a woman whose downcast expression says she’s having a hard day at work:
    In case no one has mentioned this, you’re doing a great job.”
  • For a teenager who has that “I’m so ugly” look on her face:
    “Cute top! And the color matches your eyes perfectly.”

Look, this isn’t rocket science. Just say something nice. It costs nothing, yet might be worth everything to the other person, whether friend or stranger.

Check out the queen of Sheba—a true encourager in action.

How happy your people must be!
How happy your officials,
who continually stand before you
and hear your wisdom!
1 Kings 10:8

Love all the exclamation points! This is one enthusiastic woman here. “O the happiness of thy men” (YLT) and “How blessed are your staff!” (ISV).

She could have praised Solomon directly, privately. By praising him and his followers openly, she made lots of people happy, rather than just one. Smart.

For two months or more, Sheba had listened to Solomon’s powerful, God-soaked wisdom. We’re seeing the fruit of it in this verse: honest praise, genuine encouragement.

The Lord calls, equips, and empowers us to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Though it might be easier to say nothing, how much better to say something. To get our focus off ourselves and on others. To look for ways to lift up rather than tear down. To whisper words from God and bring refreshment to a parched soul.

I see you, nodding your head. You get this. You do this. God bless you for sharing your gift!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for pouring out words of encouragement through Your children to bless others. Help us never hold back, worrying about what people will think or how they’ll react. Give us the courage to take the risk and speak up. May it never be about making us look good, but about making Your goodness shine in a world full of darkness and discouragement. Remind us everywhere we go, everyone needs a word from You.

Liz Curtis Higgs

Keynote speaker Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of 37 books with 4.6 million copies in print, including her nonfiction bestsellers, Bad Girls of the Bible, The Girl’s Still Got It, and The Women of Christmas, and her Scottish historical novels, Here Burns My Candle and Mine Is the Night, a New York Times bestseller. Liz has also spoken at more than 1,700 Christian conferences in all 50 United States and 15 foreign countries. Follow her monthly Bible study at LizCurtisHiggs.com/blog.

Attendee Learns from Informal Conversations

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dining hall

“I sensed that God was telling me to write a book. I thought it was a crazy idea. I didn’t have anything to say, or so I thought. In retrospect, I realized that I wrote the book before I knew anything about the craft of writing. I wondered why God didn’t tell me to learn how to write before he told me to write a book. Surely that would have been more logical,” Susan Barnes, 2017 conference attendee, says about her work in progress.

She continues, “However, one day when I was rewriting, I realized that if I was to write that book now, I wouldn’t have been able to write some things, with the same intensity as I felt back then because God has brought so much healing into my life.”

Susan flew from Australia to attend the conference. When asked if this was her first trip to the United States, she said that in 1994 she and her husband visited friends, who had accepted a call to a church in Texas. Then in 2010, they attended the Doing Church as a Team Conference in Hawaii.

“For the last six years, there has been a Christian Writers’ Conference. For several years I was the coordinator. It’s run by Omega Writers and is a two-day conference held annually in October. There were about 100 delegates at this year’s conference. So, as you can gather, it isn’t a big conference and doesn’t have the depth and breadth of information that is available at a U.S. conference.”

In addition to those two trips, Susan attended the Glorietta Christian Writers’ Conference in New Mexico. “Australia is a big country with a small population (24 million). We only have eight major cities and some of those aren’t very major when you compare them to U.S. cities. Therefore, we cannot support a large publishing industry. Plus, Australia doesn’t have a strong Christian heritage. Rarely can you buy a Christian book anywhere apart from a Christian bookshop or online.

It was at Glorietta that Susan heard about the Mount Hermon Writers Conference. “It stayed in my mind because people kept telling me Mount Hermon was the best Christian Writers’ Conference in the US. It struck me as odd, why were they here if Mount Hermon was better?

“However, it planted the seed in my mind that I wanted to come. I had to wait eleven years. I had the opportunity this year when I unexpectedly inherited some money.”

Susan’s goal in coming to Mount Hermon was to find a publisher for her book. She has been writing devotions for twenty-five years. She tells us that she’s always enjoyed writing but didn’t have good grades for her essays in school. In 1988, her husband, Ross, was diagnosed with cancer and she needed a distraction. She began to take writing seriously and completed a couple of writing courses at the local community center.

A few years later, after his recovery, Ross went into pastoral ministry. One of the job requirements at their first church was to write a devotion for the church’s weekly newsletter. Ross told the leadership Susan was a better writer; he gave the job to her. She’s been writing devotions ever since.

“After some time, I sensed that God was telling me to write a book. As I said earlier, I thought it was a crazy idea. I didn’t have anything to say, or so I thought. I became aware that God wanted me to turn my devotions into a book, but not as a compilation,” Susan says.

She goes on, “I tend to write about particular themes in my devotions, such as God’s grace and his love. I felt God wanted me to write about these themes, using the ideas from my devotions. I wasn’t that excited.

“I told God, it was a crazy idea and how would I ever get it published anyway? Nevertheless, the idea wouldn’t go away. I wasn’t employed at the time and since I didn’t have much else to do, I wrote a book.”

Even though Susan has been to the United States before, she did have one fear about coming again. She tells, “One of my big fears about traveling to the conference was that I get lost easily. I tend to confuse my left and right. I’m the sort of person who can get lost in a shopping complex. For this reason, I planned to fly direct to the conference and back. However, my family persuaded me if I was going that far I should spend a few days sightseeing. So I flew to San Francisco five days prior to the conference.

“I managed to navigate my way around San Francisco fairly well until one day I caught the cable car to Lombard Street. Afterwards, my intention was to make my way back to the main shopping area. However, first I had to decide which direction I needed to go and then which side of the street to stand on to catch the cable car. In Australia, we drive on the left-hand side of the road. I crossed the intersection three times and ended up almost back where I started before I was confident I was in the right place!”

When asked about the highlight of her trip, Susan says, “The highlight of the conference and the trip was the opportunity to talk to publishers and editors informally over meals and at workshops. From these discussions, I learned a lot about what I need to do to get my work published.”

Get to know Susan at her website https://www.susanbarneswriter.com/

Do you want to have the opportunity to talk to publishers and editors informally over meals and around the conference grounds? Come to Mount Hermon Writers Conference. Register here.

And, don’t forget about the First-Timers Contest. Ten winners will receive a full scholarship. Deadline December 30, 2017.

Something New at the Writers Conference

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The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference has been a premiere conference for years. One of the reasons is the organizers constantly look for ways to meet the needs of the attendees. The 2018 conference is no different. The upcoming conference will introduce new Major Morning Tracks courses to help all writers.

Major Morning Tracks provide instructions and an opportunity to apply what is learned during the morning sessions. There’s an added bonus of working with an instructor and a published mentor. Here’s what’s new.

Career Growth Course

Whether you want to begin a career as a writer, blogger, editor, writing coach, or consultant, or take the next step toward that goal, you need to create a business strategy. This track is for you. Lead by Susy Flory and Laura Christianson.

Professional Writers Retreat Course

This session is designed for multi-published authors who understand the field of book publishing and realize the value of continued learning, encouragement, spiritual refreshment, and connecting with other professional writers. Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young lead this track. (See this page for criteria.)

Weekend Teen Course

Scheduled to run from Friday evening through Sunday, this track is for teens who are starting out or have been at it a while. The sessions will cover fiction basics like point of view, showing vs. telling, and plot structure. There will be brainstorming sessions to create plots, characters, and story worlds. This track is led by Jill Williamson, Shannon Dittemore, and Paul Regnier.

Of course, non-fiction, fiction, the spiritual life of a writer, editing, and memoir courses will be back.

In addition to the Major Morning Tracks, attendees can also choose Morning Mentoring Clinics or use the morning hours for a personal writing retreat.

Register today for the Mount Hermon Writers Conference.

The First-timers Contest is still open.

First-Timers Contest Open

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by Susan K. Stewart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christy Awards Gala Upcoming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven Months and Counting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Register Today