Posts Categorized: Writers Conference

The Challenge of Writing for Children

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shelves with children's books

by Crystal Bowman

When people find out I write books for children, their response goes something like this: “Oh, how fun! I have always wanted to write a children’s book.” Writing for children is fun, but fun does not mean easy. That’s why I love teaching classes on writing for children. I enjoy helping writers learn the craft of this genre. But the more you learn, the harder it gets! Here are a few basic tips on how to get started:

  • Learn the genre and the sub-genres. The genre of children’s literature is very specific and writers need to learn how to write for children. Writing an engaging story with limited word count and limited vocabulary is difficult—even for seasoned writers. Then there are the sub-genres. From board books to early chapter books and everything in between, each sub-genre has its own specific requirements that writers need to know.
  • Understand the market. Before you invest your time and energy in writing a children’s book, research the market to find out what is already out there. If what you write is not better than or different from what is already being sold, your book stands little chance of being published.
  • Master writing techniques. Rhythm, rhyme, repetition, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and other forms of wordplay are effective tools for children’s stories. However, these writing techniques must be mastered if you want to add creative elements to your story. Misusing these techniques will send your manuscript on a fast track to the slush pile.
  • Have your story edited. Once you have learned the basics and begin writing your story, be sure to work with a children’s editor or writing coach. Your story needs to be professionally polished to catch the attention of a publisher. You must be willing to accept constructive criticism and revise your manuscript multiple times.
  • Don’t give up. There are no shortcuts or quick paths to the world of publishing. Writing for publication can take many years, and some writers give up along the way. If writing for children is truly your passion, learn everything you can about the process. Be persistent, patient, and prayerful. Learn. Learn. Learn. Revise. Revise. Revise.

 

I was thrilled to be invited back for a second year to lead sessions at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I will be teaching a Pre-Conference Next Level class and look forward to working with some talented writers. If your passion is writing for children, please sign up for this session. I can’t wait to meet you!

Crystal is the Children’s Books and Magazines mentor for the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic, April 5-7.

Click here for more information about the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, April 7-11.

Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman is a best-selling, award-winning author of more than 100 books for children, including The One Year Book of Devotions for Preschoolers, Our Daily Bread for Kids, and My Mama and Me. She has written many I Can Read! books, as well as stories for Clubhouse Jr. magazine and lyrics for children’s piano music.

 

The Power of a Mason Jar

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mason jar

by Marci Seither

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First-Timers Contest: Winners Announced

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winners

We are excited to announce the winners of The First-Timers Contest. Congratulations to:

Ann Neumann

Erica Hale

Erin Kincaid

Karen DeBlieck

Karl Haffner

Laurel Burlew

Leah Hinton

Lisa Gefrides

Margery Warder

Robin Phillips

If you entered and were not one of the ten winners, we hope you will still consider spending an amazing and life-changing week in the California redwoods to experience this one-of-a-kind event. Find all the conference details at http://writers.mounthermon.org/.

First-Timers Contest For MH Writers Conference

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pen, notebook, and coffee for writersWhen I attended my first writers’ conference years ago, I didn’t realize how dramatically it would change my life. I met so many professionals in the publishing industry and authors I admired (and came to admire later). And it really kicked off my own writing career!

Major writers’ conferences can be expensive. But they can be valuable investments in our future.

If you’ve always wanted to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, but never been able to afford it, I have exciting news for you.

Mount Hermon is running a First-Timers Contest for the 2017 conference. Ten winners will each receive a full scholarship, including economy lodging and conference meals.

There is NO FEE to enter this contest. It is open to both published and unpublished writers.

Just send a five-page writing sample (fiction or nonfiction). In addition to writing quality, winners will be determined based on the answers to these questions:

  1. Why do you want to attend the Mount Hermon Writers Conference?
  2. Why have you never attended before?
  3. What do you hope to get out of attending in 2017?

Once submissions are narrowed down based on those factors, the final decision will be made based on prayerfully asking for the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Deadline to enter is December 30 at midnight Pacific Standard Time.

Go to http://writers.mounthermon.org/resources/first-timers-contest for details, guidelines, and submission instructions.

Please spread the word to anyone you know who might benefit from this amazing conference.

Kathy Ide, Director
Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference

The Top Five Things You Shouldn’t Do in Kids’ Devotions

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Kristen GearhartBLOGGER: KRISTEN GEARHART

Managing Editor, Keys for Kids

Reviewing Pre-Submission Manuscripts for Editorial Review and Meeting with Writers at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22.

 

THE TOP FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T DO IN KIDS’ DEVOTIONS

Every year, I receive hundreds of children’s devotional submissions for publication consideration at Keys for Kids Ministries—from both new and seasoned authors. Our daily devotional is one way to break into children’s publishing to get some clips and also expand an existing author’s platform, so I see all sorts of writing levels on a day-to-day basis. Here are some examples of things I immediately decline publishing:

  1. Stories that have lofty messages or use complex theological terms. Devotions are meant to speak directly to readers. They should be able to see themselves in the situation or relate in some way. Every story should have a biblical/spiritual application, but presented in a way kids can relate to without getting too complicated.
  2. Stories told from an adult’s point of view. Because kids don’t want to read about someone’s grandma’s personal connection to her garden.
  3. Devotions that feature mythical creatures. In order to be biblically sound, I hold myself to being as truthful and upfront as possible for 6-12-year-old listeners/readers. While fantasy has its place, I’d rather not potentially confuse children by weaving biblical elements with imaginary beings.
  4. Devotions that are condescending to the reader. I don’t like it when someone wags their finger at me because I should or shouldn’t do something. I’m pretty sure kids don’t like it either.
  5. Stories that are poorly constructed or do not follow the writers’ guidelines. While I know it’s my job as an editor to smooth out plots, beef up character development, and clean up grammar issues, being forced to crawl through confusing dialogue or messy writing hinders me from truly connecting with the story.

Of course, these are just my opinions—another publisher might be interested in publishing stories featuring spiritually hungry Amish Leprechauns from outer space. Who am I to say?

__________________

Come meet Kristen Gearhart at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Click here to Register Now!

3 Things I Wish I’d Realized Before My 1st Mount Hermon Writers Conference

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Jill OsborneBLOGGER: JILL OSBORNE

Children’s Author; Serving on the Critique Team, March 2016; Teaching an Afternoon Workshop

3 THINGS I WISH I’D REALIZED BEFORE MY 1st MOUNT HERMON WRITERS CONFERENCE

In 2010, I stepped onto the Mount Hermon campus for my first ever Christian Writers Conference. It was one of the best weeks of my life. The valuable skills I learned, the encouraging people I met, and the spiritual guidance I received shaped me into the author I am today. I love Mount Hermon, and, God willing, I plan to come back every year.

But, when I replay the movie of that first week in my mind, I can’t help but wish I could hit the pause button at a few of the more awkward moments and yell out to my newbie self,

“Cut! Can we try that again?”

There’s the scene where I almost went home the first night, because I couldn’t pitch anything—much less an elevator.

There were scenes in the dining room where I kept stuffing my mouth with salad so I wouldn’t have to converse with “scary” agents and editors. (Stomach alert! Don’t ever eat that much salad in one week.)

And then, there was the mid-conference dark moment, when, tired and overwhelmed, I crawled back to my cabin, fished out my eyebrow pencil, scribbled a giant unibrow on my face and pronounced, “I am not a real writer.”

Friends, don’t let this become your movie!

Here are three things I wish I had realized before my first Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I offer this advice as a gift to you, the first time attendee. Memorize these points. Write them on your forehead if necessary. (It’s a better use for the eyebrow pencil.) Recite them to yourself throughout your time at Mount Hermon.

  1. You Belong Here

If you find yourself doubting this, consider the facts:

  1. You’ve been writing, or you’ve been thinking of starting for some time.
  2. God spoke to your heart and led you to sign up. And then he provided the funds!
  3. Every published writer began somewhere, and a writers conference was one of their first important steps. Congratulations, this is your first step!
  1. You Have Something to Offer

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the lingo—like what an elevator pitch is (I found out it has nothing to do with pitching an elevator). The people sitting next to you in the dining hall may wear the title of literary agent, editor, or best-selling author of over one-million books, but they’re real people. They struggle with family issues, job stress, and health challenges, just like you do. They might have a killer headache when you arrive on the scene. You can offer a smile, an encouraging word, or even an extra-strength Tylenol. People who have worked in a profession for a long time are energized by those who are just starting out. They need you! So be bold. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know much about this writing business.” You never know where that conversation will lead.

  1. Your Journey Is Unique

 You will hear plenty of helpful advice about next steps to take in your writing career. Some of that advice will work for you, some of it won’t. That’s okay. God’s got your story in the palm of his hand, and thankfully, it doesn’t read like anyone else’s. A short, straight path to a desired destination is not necessarily the most scenic. If your next chapter involves trudging uphill, you’ll build the muscles you need for the next long haul. God will never short-change you in the character-building department. So, stride into that next step, breathe, and enjoy the journey. Remember what it says in Philippians 1:6:

And I am certain that God, who began a good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Welcome to your first Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. This week will be life-changing for you—in a good way! Embrace both the beauty and the chaos in each moment. Don’t forget to laugh. Find a banana slug on the redwood trail. Meet new people and invite them to join you for ice cream or coffee. Be still, and listen for God’s voice.

And come say hello to me during one of the meals! I’ll be the one not eating salad.

If this your first writers conference, what are you most concerned about?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Come meet Jill Osborne at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

Click here to Register!

The Gratitude Jar

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Joy HarrisonBLOGGER: JOY HARRISON

Joy manages the Writers’ Conference Bookstore in Ivy (Upstairs street-side corner of the dining hall).

 

THE GRATITUDE JAR

I’ve been fortunate the last decade and more to be part of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Most of the time I am in the Writers’ Conference Bookstore helping attending authors check in their books for sale, find a book to purchase relating to their continuing writing journey, or to listen.

The bookstore in Ivy Dining Room is set up just for this conference and is unique in many ways. One of my favorite little known perks of this job is overseeing the Gratitude Jar. People stop by all day and take a moment to write down something they are thankful for concerning the conference.

It might be something they learned, how they arrived at the conference or someone they met or spoke with that day. It can be just a word or several paragraphs, but all the papers entering the jar testify to how grateful we are to be where we are.

Each day before dinner I randomly draw one of the notes and, if it is signed (because sometimes people just want a place to say thank you), I reward a book to the note writer. It isn’t about winning a book because being grateful is its own reward. But it is fun to get an unexpected gift.

Some of my favorite Gratitude Notes have mentioned a moment in conversation with an editor or a new acquaintance speaking words of encouragement, cementing the resolve to continue writing. Or this one, “I’m thankful for my grandma and my church, who helped me come here.”

Stop by the Writers’ Conference Bookstore to see what your fellow authors have published, to find a book for your return flight, or to find a book for the kiddos you left at home. When you do, I hope you’ll write a grateful note to put next to all the others in the Gratitude Jar.

I hope to see you during the conference. I’m in the bookstore and always ready to help, sometimes with a smile or a prayer or a hug. And certainly I can direct you to the books your instructor has recommended.  Just ask for Joy.

Click here for Book Consignment Guidelines

Click here for Book Consignment Form

Strategies for First Time Conference Goers

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A writer as green as spring grasses arrived at the San Jose Airport, looked for the Mount Hermon Shuttle Sign, boarded a van, and began an adventure into the publishing industry that resulted in long-lasting relationships that deepened her spiritual roots and nourished her as a writer and speaker.

I’m that writer. Mona Hodgson.

Mona-0858-Edit[1]

Twenty-eight years and hundreds of publishing credits later, I still look forward to returning to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference every spring.

Now it’s your turn. You’re the one arriving at the conference for the first time. And you’re probably feeling as green as spring grasses. Excited. Nervous. Maybe even scared.

I’m hoping these 15 Tips and Tidbits will help prepare you for your God-ordained adventure at Mount Hermon!

1.  Connect with Mount Hermon Writers on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll continue to post updates there and on the blog.

2.  Are you flying in to San Jose and signed up to use our Airport Shuttle Service? At the airport, go to Terminal B Baggage Claim and look for a friendly face. Bob, Linda, or Marci will be waiting for you and holding a Mount Hermon sign.

Bob HodgsonLinda SmithMarci Seither

 

3.  Upon arrival at Mount Hermon on Wednesday or Thursday, go to the Administration Building (beside the Mount Hermon Post Office). That’s where you’ll check in, receive your room key, and your conference packet. For Friday arrivals, if the weather permits, you can check in at the kiosk next to the Mount Hermon Book Shop, across the street from the Administration Building.

4.  Cruise the website with frequent stops on the pages under Program, Faculty, Resources, and Blog.

5.  Take advantage of the free critique available as part of the pre-conference manuscript submission feature. Even if you plan to pitch to an editor or agent, make sure at least one of your two pre-conference submissions go to the Critique Team.

6.  Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be shy. New friends are waiting to meet you. Introduce yourself. Ask questions. The benches around the fire circle are a great place to meet and greet. So is the line at the Expresso Cart in Central Lounge (above the Mount Hermon Book Shop).

MH fire circle

 

7. Make education a priority. It’s tempting to focus on the pitching, networking, selling yourself or your work, but be sure you engage in a Major Morning Track (or the Morning Mentoring Clinic, if that’s the option you choose), afternoon workshops, and night owls. Visit The Critique Team in the Hospitality Center (Multipurpose Room, below the Dining Hall). Get comfortable with the idea that your first foray will be a learning experience. Be sure to join Nick Harrison in the Auditorium, Friday, March 18th at 1:45 pm for the First Timer’s Orientation.

8. Remember, it’s not just about the writing. Or publishing. Be open to God’s plan for your conference experience. Anticipate and welcome the work God wants to do in and through you. One way to prepare for that is to come with prayer support. Ask friends and family to be praying for you.

9. Expect to be overwhelmed. Information overload and over-stimulation is a normal reaction. And it’s bound to happen more than once during the conference. Pace yourself. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to do it all, all of the time. Take a walk. Find a quiet corner or bench where you can breathe and pray.

MH FLowernig Tree bench

 

10 Download “You Make Me Brave” by Amanda Cook and Bethel Music onto your phone and listen to it every time you begin to have doubts. (Maybe not during a workshop or one-on-one appointment, but soon there after.) By the way, even faculty members and seasoned veterans experience doubt and insecurity. You’re not alone.

11. Set goals realistic with your level of experience. Prepare emotionally and spiritually for the fact that your expectations might be unrealistic. Remember that you don’t know what you don’t know. Give yourself grace. That’s the beauty of the conference, it provides you with a place to learn what you don’t know.

12. The folks on the faculty have left families and desks that will pile high to meet you, to serve you. Sit with different ones at lunches and dinners. Introduce yourself to them and the others at the meal tables. They are coming to the conference to bless others and to be blessed by their Father.

13. Schedule time with God during the conference. Visit the A-frame chapel or one of the tables in the field down the road from it.

Chapel Exterior

 

14.  Be open about any health problems or physical limitations that might impact you at the conference. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask for it.

15. For questions or concerns about the Mount Hermon grounds or accommodations, check in with the front desk in the Administration Building. For program related questions or concerns, see Gay or Lynn at the Hospitality Tables in the Hospitality Center (Multi-Purpose Room, below the dining hall) or connect with me (Mona).

Do any of those tips and tidbits speak to you? I hope so.

I can’t wait to meet you!

Mona

Director, Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference

Making Friends at Conference

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Tamela Hancock Murray 2BLOGGER: TAMELA HANCOCK MURRAY

A Literary Agent with The Steve Laube Agency, Tamela will teach an Afternoon Workshop, participate in an Agents Q&A, and meet with potential clients at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference next month.

MAKING FRIENDS AT CONFERENCE

Conference time is exciting for everyone, especially those who are looking forward to meeting people they’ve only met over the Internet and reconnecting with old friends. For certain, strengthening relationships is one of the best benefits of any conference.

But what about the person who’s new, who hasn’t had a chance to make lots of friends yet? What about the shy person who doesn’t like social media, and must gather up all her courage even to go to a conference? Conference veterans know to expect lots of hustle and bustle, especially at larger conferences. Experienced and multi-published writers know they have a place. Often, they are sought after and even revered. But what about the newbie who suddenly feels even smaller among all the authors, editors, and agents? What about the writer who’s struggled for years, and is finding he feels even more intimidated amid the brouhaha?

It’s easy to pass around hugs to your immediate group and start chattering away. I know I’ve done this many a time, to great joy. But at conference, let’s all be mindful of the people who need us to step aside enough to let them in to our little circles of friendship and camaraderie. If you see someone approaching your circle, let that person in. You might discover this new person is not an intruder, but could end up being one of your best friends.

If you see me at conference, feel free to tap me on the shoulder whether I’m with or without a group of friends. I’d love to talk with you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Come meet Tamela Hancock Murray and make new friends at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

 

Click here to Register Now! 

 

Checklist for Conference Deadlines

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IMPORTANT CONFERENCE DEADLINES

With so many SPECIAL FEATURES that make the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference a favorite among writers, editors, and agents, I thought it might help you with your prep to see a listing of the opportunities with deadlines.

Three conversations

 

MARCH 1, 2016

Application for Pre-Conference Writing Genre ClinicsMarch 1, 2016

The Next Level Pre-Conference Mentoring Clinics are designed to give new-to-intermediate writers an opportunity to focus on and move toward their next level in their writing journey or profession. Mentoring groups are formed by genre (fiction, nonfiction, and children’s) focus and writing level. Groups limited to six writers. Apply now.

Application for Morning Mentoring Clinics (during Main Conference) ~ March 1, 2016

Gain valuable insight from a skilled professional in your genre, who is committed to coming alongside other writers. Instead of participating in a Major Morning Track, you might prefer having your work-in-progress evaluated by a multi-published author and mentor. This option is specifically designed for writers who are ready to deepen their skill in a small-group setting. Groups limited to six writers. Apply now.

 

MARCH 10, 2016

Airport Shuttle Request Form ~ March  10, 2016

Mount Hermon coordinates airport shuttles for its writers. The shuttle service is from Mineta San Jose International Airport (and back again after the conference). It’s approximately a one-hour ride to Mount Hermon, but allow two hours for shuttle groups. Reserve and pay for the Shuttle Service with your conference registration at writers.mounthermon.org/registration, no later than March 10, 2016.

 

MARCH 14, 2016

Free Pre-Conference Manuscript Submissions ~ March 14, 2016

As part of your registration, you may submit TWO manuscripts for a total of TWO faculty readings.

You have the option of readings by professional writers for a critique of your manuscript or readings by an agent or editor to review (not critique) your manuscript as a possibility for their agency, periodical, or publishing house. If you have never had your writing critiqued by a published author and/or you’ve never been published, we strongly suggest you choose two critiques.

 

Sign up to receive feedback on work-in-progress in the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic, March 16-18, 2016!

I hope we see you at Mount Hermon for the 47th annual Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016

Click here to register for conference now!

The Right–and the Left–Way to Prepare for Writers’ Conferences

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Sarah Sundin Right-Left (357x400)

 

BLOGGER: SARAH SUNDIN

Historical novelist Sarah Sundin will serve as a mentor for the Morning Mentoring Clinic, teach an Afternoon Workshop, and serve on the Critique Team at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

THE RIGHT–AND THE LEFT–WAY TO PREPARE FOR WRITERS’ CONFERENCES

Are you a left-brained, analyzing writer? Are you a right-brained, spontaneous writer? If you’re attending a writers’ conference, engage both halves of your brain and plan the right way—and the left way.

Experience has taught me to let the left brain reign before the conference and the right brain fly free during the conference.

The Left Way

Before the conference, analyze and plan. Proper preparation allows you to get the most out of the conference and be relaxed.

  • Decide which tracks and workshops to take. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and consider where you are in your career. Pick workshops to target your weaknesses or solidify your strengths.
  • List the editors, agents, and authors you want to meet. Make a list of professionals you’d like to meet—at workshops, meals, etc. This can keep you focused during the flurry of a conference.
  • Prepare your pitch. The most common question at a conference is, “What do you write?” Be prepared to answer with a sparkling one-to-two sentence description. Also be prepared to answer follow-up questions with more detail. But not too much detail. Really.
  • Business Cards. A simple and professional way to remember the wonderful people you meet. Make sure to include your photo, email, and website.
  • Prepare your One-Sheet. (Optional, and only if you’re pitching a completed project). A one-sheet is “you and your project” on a single piece of paper. A catchy tagline, one paragraph about your project, a short bio, and your contact info. Include your photo and don’t overload with graphics.

The Right Way

At the conference, work your plan but let your right brain frolic. Serendipity produces the best conference moments.

  • Let your creativity play. You will learn so much and be surrounded by hundreds of creative people. Soak it in. Brainstorm. Explore new ideas.
  • Veer off your list. Your list of professionals to meet is a guide, not Scripture. Try to meet others, even outside your genre. The publishing industry is fluid, and the editor from House A may be with House B next year—or have become an agent. That casual conversation over dinner might lead somewhere unexpected. And don’t forget, these people know the industry. Ask questions, absorb, and simply enjoy them as people.
  • Meet new friends. Don’t overlook the person next to you at lunch. I’ve met some of my dearest friends this way. We struggled together along the pre-published road and now we’re exploring the world of publication together.
  • Watch for God appointments. My best conference moments come when I set aside my plan. Pray with those who’ve been rejected, who need a boost before an appointment, or who face personal issues. Introduce people with similar interests. Listen for God’s voice about your writing and life. When you look for God at work, you’ll find Him.

I hope to see you at Mount Hermon! Please veer off your list to say hi!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sarah Sundin (501x800)

Meet Sarah Sundin at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

Click here to Register Now!

The Name Your Character Game

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Crystal Bowman from FBBLOGGER: CRYSTAL BOWMAN

Crystal Bowman will serve as a children’s writers’ mentor in the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic, teach an Afternoon Workshop, and serve on the Critique Team at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

 

THE NAME YOUR CHARACTER GAME

I’ve been writing children’s books for two decades and have learned many things along the way. Writing for children is much harder than most people realize—until they try it! The challenge is to write an engaging, creative story using limited vocabulary and word count. Another thing to consider is choosing the right names for your characters. Whether they are human or animal characters, names are important to the story.

Here are a few tips on naming your characters:

  • Be sure the name fits the time period. This is one of the mistakes I often see when critiquing manuscripts. If your story is set in pioneer days, then names like Kaitlyn or Parker are not the right choice. Writers often want to use the names of their children or grandchildren, and those names may or may not work.
  • Site word names. If your story is written for beginning readers, then the names you choose must be early grade level site words. Names like Kate or Jake are first grade words, whereas Charles or Abigail would be at a higher grade level.
  •  Characternyms: Similar to onomatopoeia, when the sound of the word defines its meaning, a characternym is when the name of the character defines the identity of the character. For example, Swimmy is the name of a fish, and Barkly is the name of a dog.  In my Otter and Owl I Can Read! stories, the first draft included actual names for the two characters. The otter was Rex and the owl was Ray. After several revisions, the editor and I found it to be very confusing and we kept getting Rex and Ray mixed up. I then decided to drop Rex and Ray and named my characters Otter and Owl. Problem solved! When used appropriately, characternyms can add fun and creativity to a story.
  • Names and book titles. In classic fairy tales, it’s common for the name of the main character to also be the title of the story. Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel are some examples. When a series of books are created around a main character, the character’s name is often used within the title. In my I Can Read! series based on Jake, a lop-eared rabbit, Jake’s name appears in each of the titles— Jake’s Brave Night, Jake Learns to Share, Jake’s New Friend.  This lets the readers know from the title that these books are different stories, but include the same main character.
  • Avoid the obvious! Although names are not copyrighted, a writer should never use a name that is already popular in another book or series of books. If you have a monkey in your story, do not name him George. If you have a duck in your story, do not name her Daisy.

Writing for kids is always fun, but never easy. The rewards may not be monetary, but having children fall in love with your books and stories and characters, is worth a pound of gold. And you can even put your name on the cover.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Come meet Crystal Bowman at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 16-22.

Click here to Register Now!

At the Cross

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

BLOGGER: JESSE FLOREA

Editor, Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.

Major Morning Track Instructor, Magazine Writing: Starting Point or Destination?

Reviewing Pre-Submission Manuscripts for Editorial Review and Meeting with Writers.

Cross (420x560)

 

AT THE CROSS

There’s a reason Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference occurs during Palm Sunday every year. And it’s not just so David Talbot can lift our spirits to heavenly realms during the annual service on Sunday morning. This conference is truly focused on Christ. And nowhere is that more evident than during the predawn hike to the cross.

If you don’t mind waking up early and can put a pause on personal grooming (I, for one, never shower), you can’t miss this adventure. Just learning more about Mount Hermon as you wind up the roads would make the hike worth it. But the relationships and conversations you have with other participants makes it even better.

Walls don’t seem to exist at 6 a.m. And there certainly aren’t any walls as you walk through the redwoods. The conversations go deeper. Yes, there’s talk about craft, writing experience and comma usage (well, not so much that last one). But you also learn about the other person’s family, passions and hopes. And the coolest part is that you’re walking alongside some of Christian publishing’s best.

If you’re worried about the pace of the hike and elevation gain, don’t be. You need to be in decent shape, but everybody sticks together and encourages each other along the way. And while it feels like you’re climbing a lot, Mount Hermon tops out at 584 feet above sea level. (My house in Colorado Springs is at nearly 6,800.) As further motivation, you can remember that with every step you’re getting closer to the cross—which is what Mount Hermon is all about.

This writers’ conference is designed for you to grow closer to Christ. At the same time, it’s also set up for you to network with other writers and the faculty. Take advantage of one-on-one appointments, critique sessions, night-owl meetings, meals and general sessions to talk with people. Writing can be a lonely business. Usually, it’s just you, a keyboard and a blank screen. Use your time at Mount Hermon to connect with people who share your love for the Lord and build your writing network. And sometimes connecting means losing a little sleep and getting a little exercise.

Oh yeah, one last tip for the hike: Always bring a hat.

________________

Jesse FloreaCome meet Jesse Florea at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in March.

Click here to register now!

Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic ~ 12 Reasons Why

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference is packed with Extra Features.

The Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic is a favorite among writers wanting to take their writing to the Next Level.

conversation amidst the trees

 

12 Reasons to Take Advantage of the 2016 Next Level Clinic opportunity!

  1. The ability to focus on your work-in-progress in a small group without the distraction of other conference options and crowds.
  2. The opportunity to take your work-in-progress to the next level with a multi-published mentor AND then participate in a Major Morning Track during the Main Conference.
  3. NEW: A mentor for CHILDREN’S WRITERS as a GENRE WRITING option.
  4. Receive FEEDBACK on your work-in-progress whether it is Fiction, Nonfiction, or Children’s.
  5. NEW: A clinic for INTERMEDIATE FICTION writers.
  6. NEW: A clinic for INTERMEDIATE NONFICTION writers.
  7. NEW: A clinic specific to BEGINNING FICTION writers.
  8. NEW: A clinic specific to BEGINNING NONFICTION writers.
  9. NEW: An interactive PLATFORM workshop as a CAREER BOOST option.
  10. NEW: A hands-on SCRIVENER workshop as a CAREER BOOST option.
  11. Personal ONE-ON-ONE TIME with your mentor.
  12. Meet and interact with other writers in your genre or area of interest.

A Pre-Conference Next Level Mentoring Clinic offers an added-value opportunity for a small additional fee. Don’t miss out!

Next Level APPLICATION DEADLINE is MARCH 1, 2016!

Click Here to Register Now, or to add the Next Level Clinic to your existing Main Conference Registration!

Take Your Fiction to the Next Level

Joanne Bischof - Headshot 1Joanne Bischof  |  Mentor, Beginning Fiction

MickSilva_2 (800x577)Mick Silva  |  Mentor, Intermediate Fiction

Take Your Children’s Writing to the Next Level

Crystal Bowman from FBCrystal Bowman  |  Mentor, Writing for Children

 

Take Your Nonfiction to the Next Level

Kathy IdeNEW! Kathy Ide  |  Mentor, Beginning Nonfiction

Jan Kern smlGROUP FULL! Jan Kern  |  Mentor, Beginning Nonfiction

Bill GiovannettiBill Giovannetti  |  Mentor, Intermediate Nonfiction

 

Career Boost Clinics

Take Your Platform to the Next Level

Kathi Lipp (533x800)Kathi Lipp  |  Mentor, Platform Workshop

Platform: How to Find Your Readers, Lavish on Your Audience and Sell Your Book

If you’re going traditional, publishers want to know that you have a built in audience for your book. For self-publishing, you want to know that you have a built in audience for your book. While our ways may be different, our goal is the same—we need to create a platform. Kathi Lipp will give you the step by step directions to building a platform that readers will love and publishers can’t resist.

Take Your Scrivener Savvy to the Next Level

RobinLeeHatcher350wRobin Lee Hatcher  |  Mentor, Scrivener Workshop

Scrivener: Make it Work for You

If you’re a writer, you’ve at least heard of Scrivener, and there is a good chance you have begun using it. But many only use a small fraction of the features of this powerful writing software. Come discover something new or share your favorite features with others. Bring your laptop with Scrivener installed (available free for 30 days if you haven’t already purchased) and let’s learn together.

FOR PLATFORM AND SCRIVENER, REGISTRATION NECESSARY, BUT NO APPLICATION NECESSARY!

 

A Pre-Conference Next Level Mentoring Clinic offers an added-value opportunity for a small additional fee. Don’t miss out!

Next Level Writing Genre Clinics APPLICATION DEADLINE is MARCH 1, 2016!

Click Here to Register Now, or to add the Next Level Clinic to your existing Main Conference Registration!

Make the Most of the Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Opportunity

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.


John VonhofBLOGGER: JOHN VONHOF

John coordinates the Manuscript Retrieval Process during the Main Conference.

 

MAKE THE MOST OF THE PRE-CONFERENCE MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSION OPPORTUNITY

One of the benefits of attending the Mount 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 – 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)
  • Editorial Review – If you want to discover 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. The same rules as above apply.

Complete details are on the conference website. Click here to see the 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. Other parts of your of your submission package may be single-spaced.
  • Manuscripts must be original (your work) and unpublished.
  • The manuscript is 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.).

Choosing Whom to Review or Critique Your Manuscripts

The Resources page  has tabs for Editorial Needs by Genre and Editorial Needs Alphabetical. Use these lists to learn what the editors and agents are looking for. For critiques, use the Critique Team Listing.  Once the conference has started, the Manuscript Retrieval Team can help you think about faculty to approach about your manuscript.

What to Submit

The Query Letter & Book Proposal Guidelines webpage has information to help you prepare your submission. 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 Google query letters and book proposals 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 manuscript.

Packaging and Sending Your Manuscripts

The Resource section on the conference website has a Letters, Forms & Guidelines webpage that has 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 save your files to 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.

All the above information and more can be found on the Free Manuscript Review webpage.

Deadline for Pre-Conference Submissions

All pre-conference submissions must be received at the conference center by Monday, March 14. 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 get any manuscripts the faculty has returned. Some are returned after that, depending on faculty’s timing.

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; and help with ideas on faculty that you might talk to about your manuscript. We’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the manuscript process. Feel free to email me at: john@johnvonhof.com.

John Vonhof and Dan Kline

Manuscript Retrieval Team

~~~~~~~~~~

Come meet John Vonhof at the 47th Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22!

Click here to Register now!

Don’t Miss The Facebook Giveaways

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Only SIX WEEKS to go before we gather at Mount Hermon for the 47th annual Christian Writers Conference, March 16-22! I hope you plan to join us. The main conference begins Friday, March 18!

Check out the FACULTY!

Check out the PROGRAM!

 

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to celebrate the upcoming conference with FACEBOOK FRIDAY WEEKEND GIVEAWAYS!

OT Studios, the Olneys and the Beckwiths who record the General Sessions, Major Morning Tracks, and Afternoon Workshops for sale during the writers conference each year, donated FIVE complete sets of the 2015 recordings (CDs/Thumbdrives).

20150514_075852_resized (570x760)

 

First, visit Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference FACEBOOK PAGE and Like the page.

Then stop by every Friday and leave a comment on the GIVEAWAY post to enter the drawing for a 2015 set of recordings from the General Sessions, Major Morning Tracks, and Afternoon Workshops.

Friday, February 5 ~ Friday, February 12 ~ Friday, February 19 ~ Friday, February 26 ~ Friday, March 4

ENTER GIVEAWAY

Comment on the GIVEAWAY post on Friday, then check back each Sunday afternoon to see if you’ve been selected to receive a set of the 2015 recordings. See your name listed as the winner? Email me at mona.hodgson@mounthermon.com with your mailing address.

In the meantime, be sure to finalize your plans to join us in the California redwoods next month!

Click here to REGISTER NOW for the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

PLEASE SHARE!

Self Ambition, Self Preservation

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Susie LarsonBLOGGER: SUSIE LARSON

Susie is teaching two Afternooon Workshops and serving on the Critique Team at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22.

 

SELF AMBITION, SELF PRESERVATION

We love to write. We long to be published. We decide to step out of the boat. Others seem to skate right through the publication process. Yet for us, progress often feels slow and the frustrations, constant.

Over the years I’ve met writers who experienced quick success only to fizzle out within a few years. And, I’ve met writers who had great potential but allowed their fears to keep them from taking the risks necessary to succeed. Looking back, they now feel only regret. What happened in these situations?

When we finally awaken to the idea that God wants to do great things in and through us, two temptations may also surface for us:

  • Self-ambition
  • Self-preservation

 Self Ambition:

The minute we decide to pursue our dream, we notice those with similar dreams who seem a little farther down the road. We feel impatient. And even frustrated. We’re tempted to posture and plan and to use people as a means to and end. We justify grabbing quick solutions and shortcuts to our goal.

So what’s the problem with a healthy sense of self-ambition? And is all ambition bad?

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. 

Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” 

Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

Self-ambition compels us to drive beyond what’s healthy or even realistic.  We sacrifice relationships for opportunity. We strive in our own strength instead of humbly stewarding our current assignment. Self-ambition makes us self-focused; it blinds us from seeing the value in others and the significance of their call. Self-ambition neglects the wisdom in God’s timing.

As Christians, our God-given call to write will always make life better for others. God brilliantly designs our call to fit our story and to nourish many.  And, as an invested, loving Father, He will not send us out until we’re ready.

If you’re frustrated and tempted to take matters into your own hands, I dare you instead to humble yourself and trust God’s timing in your story. Apply yourself to the task before you. Learn what you need to know. One day you’ll break through.

Self Preservation:

When we take the necessary steps to learn the craft and to educate ourselves on the publication process, we eventually find opportunities designed just for us. Where in the past, our ambition and impatience compelled us to strive forward and self-promote, oftentimes it’s our fears that compel us to pull back and self-protect.

When our humanity touches our dreams, it’s tempting to hit the breaks and think, I could really mess this up. What if I fail publicly? What if I make a fool of myself? Maybe I’m not ready. I’m definitely not ready.

Publishers tell us that of the conference attendees who actually receive an invitation to send them a book proposal, only 25% follow through with this invitation! Think about that for a moment: 75% of writers who dream of being published, when faced with an opportunity to submit a proposal, never walk through that door.

Do not let fear keep you from achieving your dreams.

And do not let self-ambition drive you to strive in ways that are beneath you.

You can trust God’s timing.

Work hard. Stay the course. Be humble. Be teachable. And one day your hard work will pay off and your faith will become sight.

“Work like it all depends on you. Pray like it all depends on God.”[1]  –Mark Batterson

[1] Mark Batterson said these words on my show, Live the Promise with Susie Larson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Meet Susie Larson at the 47th Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in the California redwoods, March 18-22, 2016.

Click here to REGISTER NOW for the conference.  EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT OF $75. expires TODAY, February 1st!

Tips for Capturing Emotions in Your Novel

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Angela BreidenbachBLOGGER: ANGELA BREIDENBACH

Angela will teach an Afternoon Workshop and serve on the Critique Team at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

TIPS FOR CAPTURING EMOTIONS IN YOUR NOVEL

Emotions are often scary because we feel out of control. Enter the writer who needs to infuse emotion into the character and story so the reader can feel them as the story world unrolls page-by-page. The problem isn’t knowing the words to use. Anyone can write dictionary words like angry, funny, afraid, hurt. But the story doesn’t evolve from just words, does it?

Capturing emotions in your novel means capturing your own emotions—and then being willing to let some stranger get really intimate with you by, gasp, reading them. Writing a novel is much like writing a journal. A journal is a safe place to pour out all those secret feelings in any order. No one is editing. No one is judging. But a novel?

My favorite “secret” place to capture my emotions for a novel is my personal journal. I don’t mean telling all my secrets by writing them on the page for those unknown eyes. I mean looking at the actual words I use to describe how I feel. When I’m angry, I let my pen leave fiery, ferocious words like an avalanche. They roar down the page until I’m spent. When I’m jotting a funny moment, the ink chortles in spurts of glee. And when I write of love the prose dances in swirls and loops caressing the memory.

Journals are excellent places to write your thoughts, memories, and experiences. But they’re a treasure trove when you need just the right word to express an emotion happening in your story. The way you express yourself in your real world is invaluable to the way your characters express themselves in a fictional world.

How, you ask?

Make column headings for basic emotions like anger, sadness, joy, fear, Surprise… (Think of those words as the simplest form.) Go through your journal and put the emotional words you find in the appropriate category. Once done, you’ve just created your own emotional thesaurus in words you would use. As you’re mining those gems, you’ll make another amazing discovery — your writing voice. A little refining, you’ll see characters leap off the page without revealing your personal secrets.

Share an emotion word from your journal that one of your characters could express. (Remember, just the emotion word, not your secrets.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Come meet 2016 faculty member Angela Breidenbach at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22.

Click here to register now.

The $75. Early Bird Discount ends Monday, February 1, 2016!

You Want to Speak at Schools? Do Your Homework.

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Tim ShoemakerBLOGGER: TIM SHOEMAKER

Tim will serve as a fiction mentor for a Morning Mentoring Clinic at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, 2016 and lead a bonus session Friday night, Preparing for the Appointment 

 

YOU WANT TO SPEAK AT SCHOOLS? DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

Speaking at a school is a pop-quiz—and a quick way to ruin your reputation. If you don’t do your homework, that is. Some authors seem to feel that just showing up for a classroom visit is enough. They go in with a celebrity mentality, and that’s a big mistake. Huge.

There was a day when meeting an author was rare. Now you can hardly ride an elevator without bumping into a writer. Authors aren’t the novelty they once were. If we want the admiration of others, we need to earn it.

One of the biggest obstacles to getting into schools is other authors who have been there before you. Authors who thought they were celebs. Authors who bored the students. Authors who left faculty unimpressed—and consequently gun shy to bring another writer in.

You want to create a good impression … so here are some things to remember when you’re doing your homework for a school visit.

-Be normal in the way you talk, act, and dress. Building a quirky character for your story? Great. Being a quirky person in real life? Weird.

-Find out how the teachers dress. You don’t want to overdress, and definitely don’t want to be more casual than they are.

-Trying to be cool is not cool at all. Don’t wear jeans and a T-shirt because you’re a cool author—or want the students to think you are. News flash … if you’re over twenty-five you’re old in their eyes.

Don’t try to be like the students. Kids don’t respect that. You’re older. You have wisdom to offer. Share that, and many students will long to be as smart as you. You’ll inspire them and give them something to aim for. Dumb speakers try to be like the kids … and give the students little to shoot for.

-Arrive early. Stay late. Try to deliver more than the teachers/staff expect.

-Bring a gift for the teacher or librarian. A poster of your book. Your book.

-Bring something for the kids. A bookmark picturing your book works well.

-Have more prepared than you can possibly use for an author visit. Have things ready to fill time if kids aren’t asking questions. Was there some actual event that inspired your story? Is there some inside scoop … some little detail about your story that nobody else knows? Kids love to hear about that stuff.

-If they offer you a stool or chair, thank them … but stand. Sitting up in front of a bunch of kids in some elevated king-chair drips with self-importance. Stand. Move around closer to the students.

-If you’re not a people person, stick with a blog. Please. You’ll hurt your reputation—and people may think you’re writing is just as awkward.

Speaking at schools is like a pop-quiz. Whenever students are involved, you never really know what’s coming next. But the grade will stick. Do your homework, and you’ll do just fine.

__________________

Come meet Tim Shoemaker at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW FOR THE CONFERENCE

$75. Early Bird Discount expires February 1!

 

Words–Love’s Sacrifice

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

BLOGGER: JAN KERN

Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic Coordinator and Nonfiction Mentor; Morning Mentoring Nonfiction Coordinator and Nonfiction Mentor at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 16-22, 2016.

Jan Kern Grapes

 

WORDS—LOVE’S SACRIFICE

Recently, on a whim, I turned my smaller sofa toward my fireplace. Yes, this made for a crazy living room arrangement, but it seemed like it could be a fun way to enjoy our winter evenings. Then I discovered that it also created a restorative morning space where I can prepare for a day’s work and writing.

Settling into my cozy corner one morning, I reviewed a quote I had found:

Measure thy life by loss and not by gain, 


Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth, 


For love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice, 


And he who suffers most has most to give.

(from a sermon by Ugo Bassi)

The quote emphasizes the pouring out of our lives, offering what we have from our experiences—particularly from places of deep sacrifice or suffering.

Sounds like a writer. We dig deep into the trenches of our lives where we have wrestled and suffered and paid a cost.  Then we pour out heart-laid-bare, honest words and stories, not for our gain but for our readers’.

The Apostle Paul, who was radically transformed and inspired by Christ’s complete and powerful sacrifice, encouraged the Ephesian church with following:

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children

and walk in the way of love,

just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us

as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV

Walking in the way of love includes knowing well love’s sacrifice:

  • We seek to understand and to be fully grateful for the depth of Christ’s sacrifice.
  • We consider our own suffering with vulnerability, humility and prayerful reflection.
  • We compassionately acquaint ourselves with the sufferings of others.

Only then can I, or any of us, pour out love’s sacrifice, a fragrant offering that serves our readers well.

This is where I want to begin each day. As I turn away from the warmth of the morning fire, my writer’s prayer becomes:

May the words I write today pour out of time spent with you, Lord. May each phrase, reflection or story be a fragrant offering to you and love’s sacrifice for my readers.

 

Want to read another Writer’s Devotional by Jan Kern?

A Courage Challenge

Unleash Wonder in Your Writing

~~~~~~~~~~~

Jan Kern smlCome meet Jan Kern at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 16-22, where she will coordinate the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinics and coordinate the Nonfiction Morning Mentoring Clinic. Jan is also a nonfiction mentor in both programs.

EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT OF $75. expires February 1st.

Click here to REGISTER NOW for the conference.

 

Two Things You Do Not Want in Your Manuscript

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Kathy IdeBLOGGER: Kathy Ide

Coordinator of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference Critique Team; Freelance Editor

TWO THINGS YOU DO NOT WANT IN YOUR MANUSCRIPT

You want life-changing content in your nonfiction manuscript. Or an intriguing story with lots of conflict and interesting characters in your fiction manuscript. But you don’t want anything that’s going to decrease your chances of getting a traditional publishing house to accept your manuscript. Or pull your readers away from your content or story.

There are two things that can ruin your manuscript, no matter what genre you’re writing: typos and mechanical errors (punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling).

Why should you bother proofreading your manuscript for typos and “PUGS” mistakes?

Here are a few reasons:

1. They can cause miscommunication.

A colleague of mine recently sent me an e-mail about a local writers’ conference, asking if I’d be on board for it. I responded that I would definitely be on board, especially since it was close to my home. When I reread her e-mail later, I realized she had asked if I was interested in being on the board! I gulped. That’s a whole different ballgame. I was certainly “on board” with the idea. But serving on “the board” would require a significant investment of my time—something that’s always in limited supply for me.

I quickly decided the Lord must have wanted me to accept the invitation, and that He allowed me to misread the e-mail so I wouldn’t say no without even considering (or praying about) it. And I have thoroughly enjoyed being on the board for this exciting conference.

This is an example of reader error, not author mistake. But it does point out how one little missed word can change the entire meaning of a sentence.

2. They can cause confusion.

My older son, Tom, is a very busy professional, and even before he moved out of my home, a lot of our communication took place via e-mail. One Sunday, I asked him what he wanted me to make for dinner that evening. His response was: “When you decide what you can say I decided this and if it’s not OK that’s OK.” It took me a while to decipher it. And when I asked my son for permission to quote that, his response was, “Did I write that? What on earth does it mean?” Even he didn’t know! Well, after reading that line several times, I came up with this: “When you decide what, you can say, ‘I decided this,’ and if it’s not OK, that’s OK.” Pretty confusing without the punctuation, isn’t it?

3. They can give an unprofessional appearance to publishers and readers.

Most acquisitions editors, people on publishing committees, and avid readers know a lot about proper punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. And they can spot a typo a mile away. You don’t want them looking at your manuscript and thinking, This author has some good things to say, but she doesn’t know a comma from a semicolon.

Even if your manuscript has already been accepted by a traditional publishing house, if their in-house editor has to spend all her time fixing your mistakes, she won’t be able to catch the deeper, more subtle nuances of your text. Besides, you won’t be presenting a very polished, professional image to your publisher.

4. They can be embarrassing.

A friend of mine once picked up a book at a bookstore and noticed a typo on the back cover. When she reported it to our critique group, she didn’t say she’d found a mistake on a book published by “XYZ Publishers.” She said she found the mistake on a “Jane Doe” novel. She didn’t connect the error to the publishing house, but to the author.

5. They may cause readers to take you and your message less seriously.

Ireland On-Line ran an article on their website on November 15, 2004, with this title: “Crowe Turns Hero to Help Snake Bite Boy.” The story was about actor Russell Crowe helping a boy who’d been bitten by a snake. But by spelling snakebite as two words, this sentence implies that Mr. Crowe helped a snake bite a boy! Now, I got a good laugh out of that. But I sure don’t want those kinds of mistakes showing up in my own writing.

And take a look at this headline: “Rachael Ray finds inspiration in cooking her family and her dog.” An image of a Tails magazine cover featuring the celebrity chef and that jaw-dropping teaser went viral on Facebook. The magazine cover turned out to be a fake done with Photoshop, but that’s a great illustration of how a missing comma can turn a serious piece of writing into a joke.

6. They can affect the sales of your book.

Readers who find a lot of mistakes in your book will not be as likely to recommend that book to their friends. And who knows? You may have a high school English teacher reading your book, and she just might recommend it to her students … unless there are a lot of mistakes in it.

7. They can give you a poor reputation.

If you self-publish, or work with a small, independent publisher that doesn’t proofread carefully, your book may go out to the public with several typos or PUGS errors. Readers who catch those mistakes may consider you an amateur. For a lot of avid readers, typos practically jump off the page. And many are familiar with the rules of punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. If your reader finds mistakes that you missed, that’s not going to make you look very good.

If you have a hard time finding typos and “PUGS” errors in your writing, consider hiring a professional proofreader. A careful proofread might make a life-or-death difference for your manuscript.

NOTE: It is an infringement of copyright law to reproduce this publication, in part or in whole, without the express permission of the author. To request permission, please e-mail Kathy@KathyIde.com.

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Come meet Kathy Ide at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW!

$75. Early Bird Discount expires February 1!

 

Morning Mentoring Clinics

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

The Morning Mentoring Clinics are filling up fast.

As a matter of fact, Kathy Gillin’s Fiction Clinic for Fantasy/Speculative writers is full! Good news is . . . . we’ve added another fantastic mentor to the faculty roster for a second group of Fantasy/Speculative writers.

WELCOME, JEFF GERKE!

Jeff Gerke  |  Morning Fiction Mentor / Fantasy & Speculative  |  www.jeffgerke.com

Jeff Gerke New Fiction Mentor

 

Jeff Gerke is known for his canny book doctoring skills and his encouraging manner. He’s authored The Irresistible Novel, Plot Versus Character, The First 50 Pages, Write Your Novel in a Month, and The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction–all published by Writer’s Digest Books. Jeff ran Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction, which he sold after an award-winning 5-year run. He lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and three children.

Hurry! Only six slots. They’ll go fast.

Click here to register for the conference!

OTHER FICTION MENTORS (with openings as of this posting)

Tim Shoemaker  |  Morning Fiction Mentor—Middle Grade, YA ,Contemporary Suspense, & Mystery  |  timshoemakersmashedtomatoes.com

Tim Shoemaker

Tim Shoemaker is the author of eleven books and is a popular speaker at conferences around the country. Code of Silence, the first in his middle grade series, was listed by Booklist in the “Top Ten Crime Novels for Youth”.  Tim has a passionate style of teaching that makes the mentoring enjoyable and helps make even difficult topics clear.  If you want to strengthen your fiction, Tim will show you how to do it. Happily married for over thirty-five years, Tim has three grown sons and continues to do volunteer youth work.

 

Sarah Sundin  |  Morning Fiction Mentor— Romance, Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction  |  sarahsundin.com

Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the adventure and romance of the World War II era. She is the author of seven historical novels, including Through Waters Deep (Revell, August 2015), the Wings of the Nightingale series, and the Wings of Glory series. Her novel On Distant Shores was a double finalist for the 2014 Golden Scroll Awards. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A mother of three, Sarah lives in northern California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. She also enjoys speaking to church, community, and writers’ groups.

March 1 is the Application Deadline for all Morning Mentoring Clinics! Although I suspect all of the clinics will be full by then.

 

NONFICTION CLINICS and MENTORS (each has openings as of this posting)

Nick Harrison  |  Morning Nonfiction Mentor—General Nonfiction/Self-help/Men’s/Devotional  |  nickharrisonbooks.com

Nick Harrison

Nick Harrison is the author of ten books and a freelance editor based in Eugene, Oregon. For fifteen years he served as a senior editor at Harvest House Publishers, acquiring both fiction and non-fiction. Nick has a long history of championing new and unpublished writers. Nick and his wife, Beverly, are the parents of three grown daughters and grandparents to two boys and two girls.

 

Jan Kern  |  Morning Nonfiction Mentor—Women’s, Spiritual Formation, Devotional, Bible Study & General Nonfiction / Coordinator  |  jankern.com

Jan Kern sml

As an author, speaker, and life coach, Jan Kern is passionate about story—both how we live it with hope and intentionality and how we write it with craft and finesse. Her non-fiction series for teens/young adults garnered ECPA Gold Medallion and Retailers Choice finalist awards. Currently, she is enjoying new ministry and writing opportunities for women. When Jan isn’t writing or coaching, she serves alongside her husband Tom at a residential ministry for at-risk teens.

 

B.J. Tayor  |  Morning Nonfiction Mentor—Personal Experience Stories & Memoir  |  bjtayloronline.com
B.J. Taylor.2

 

B.J. Taylor writes for Guideposts and Angels on Earth and has 40 stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She wrote her latest book, P MS to a T: the winning formula for writing nonfiction short stories that sell, to help writers become published authors. Home for B.J. is in southern California with her husband and rescue dog Charlie Bear.

TO RECEIVE AN SPPLICATION FOR A MORNING MENTORING CLINIC, CONTACT:

FICTION: Mona Hodgson |mona.hodgson@mounthermon.org

In the subject line of your email, please write MH Morning Mentoring Clinic, your last name, and specify your fiction genre (fantasy, historical, contemporary, suspense, YA, etc.). Example: MH Morning Mentoring Clinic, Smith, Historical.

NONFICTION: Jan Kern | jankern@gmail.com

In the subject line of your email, please write MH Morning Mentoring Clinic, your last name, and specify your nonfiction genre (Memoir, How-To, Personal Experience, Women’s Issues, etc). Example: MH Morning Mentoring Clinic, Jones, Personal Experience Book.

March 1 is the Application Deadline for all Morning Mentoring Clinics. Although I suspect all of the clinics will be full by then.

Click here to register for the conference.

Cross-Train Your Brain

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Marci SeitherBLOGGER: MARCI SEITHER

Marci Seither will serve on the Resource Team as an Airport Shuttle Team, on the Critique Team, and lead a Night Owl at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 16-22.

 

CROSS-TRAIN YOUR BRAIN

I will never forget the day my sister talked me into signing up for the Donner Lake Sprint Triathlon. It was 13 years ago and I didn’t really take into consideration all that would be required.

I was a certified lifeguard and had taught swim lessons for several years. Confident that, despite the high elevation and frigid snow fed temperature of the lake, I would be okay with the swim part of the event.

The bike and run sections were going to be a challenge for me. A serious challenge.

After moving to the countryside when I was in 3rd grade, we weren’t allowed to ride our bikes down the thin tar and gravel road that stretched beyond our short driveway. We did a lot of other activities, but the bikes were soon stored under the deck, which is where they stayed until they became antiques.

I borrowed a bike to start training for the triathlon. It was the first time I rode anything with two wheels that didn’t have a banana seat and long handle bars.

I remember making the long climb up a hill near our home. My legs felt like Jell-O. Gasping for air, I took a long drink from my water container, only to have it come out my nose. Someone pulled to the shoulder to see if I needed medical assistance. I waved them off and, in-between gasps, reassured them I was totally fine. I wondered if I could get a refund if I backed out of the race.

A few days later, I contemplated the run and what it was going to take to actually complete the event.

I figured if I needed to “Stop-Drop-and Roll” the last half mile or so, I would still get the T-shirt, so I kept going.

I spent the summer training, getting up early in the morning before the kids got out of bed, and charting out my progress each week. Muscles I didn’t even know I had began to ache less and less.

By the middle of Summer, I was able to ride up the steep hill without stopping. My swim time increased. I felt healthy and stronger than I had in several years.

The weekend of the race came. I carefully packed my gear and headed to Donner Lake.  When we arrived at the staging area, the volunteers handed us our race numbers and marked our age on the back of our calves in black permanent marker. Each age group started at different times. Some people obviously had trained for much longer and with more intensity than I had, but I was just there to prove to myself that I could make it across the finish line.

When the staring gun popped, it was time to put my training to the test.  I don’t remember much about the swim, or even about the run, but the one thing I will never forget is when, after several miles of grueling straight up the mountain switchbacks, I reached the lookout where we turned around. The sight of Donner Lake below, sparkling like a million diamonds under the morning sun, was my ah-ha moment.

“If I can do this…” I felt a renewing of energy. “Who knows what else I can do.”

It wasn’t about the race, or the T-shirt, it was about challenging myself to stretch beyond my comfort zone to a place I had never imagined.

The same is true with writing. We might be equipped in one area and focus all of our energy on that one aspect of the craft, but what would happen if you cross-trained your brain?

I do it all the time and I think it has made me a better writer article writer. Taking classes on fiction, screen writing, speaking, and even writing for children have been beneficial in being able to hear, write, and market my work better than if I had only focused on my original skill.

I learned how to weave the fiction technique of “show-don’t-tell” into my articles. I learned to write with more creative imagery through poetry. I understood scenes and movement because of scriptwriting.

Because I love seeing how far I can take a project with what I have learned, I have ended up with a few published works outside of my specific focus of article writing. Does that mean I am genre jumping? No. It means that I love seeing a project through to the end and watching it take flight whether it is shared with only a few friends, or a few hundred kids.

As a Christian writer, it is a comfort, and an added discipline, to put all of our work into the Lord’s hands. For me, I think of the passage in John, where Jesus feeds the multitude. There was a boy who had a few barley loaves and a couple of fish. Not a huge lunch by any means, but he gave it to the Lord anyway. After everyone was fed, the Lord told his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

I have heard people say that going to a conference without having something to pitch might be a waste of time, or that they have already taken the track in their area of interest.

“Great!” I respond. “That means you are more open to learning something new. Something that might stretch you beyond what you would normally consider and work part of your brain that hasn’t been used for a while.”

It is not genre jumping to cross-train your brain. It is taking advantage of opportunities to strengthen your writing skills. To become better at the craft and calling you have as a writer. To trust that when you take your meager offering and put it into the Lord’s hands, he will gather what is left and not allow anything to be wasted.

Cross-training your brain helps to better equip you in your area of focus. It gets you out of your comfort zone and makes you think in ways that might feel as awkward as getting back on a bike that doesn’t have a banana seat.

Like making it to the top of that mountain on that crisp morning, it might take all you have to prove to yourself that you can do the unimaginable.

Side note-I have been in the Mount Hermon gift store, they have a variety of awesome apparel. If you make it to the end of the conference, treat yourself and get the shirt.

_________________

Come meet Marci Seither at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 16-22, 2016.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW FOR THE CONFERENCE

$75. Early Bird Discount expires February 1!

How to Move Your Cover Letter to the Top of the Pile

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Have you seen the plethora of Editors–both for adult and children’s periodicals and books–joining us at Mount Hermon in March? Exciting! And many of them are blogging for you here. Today, I’m welcoming Elizabeth Mazer back tot he Mount Hermon Writers Blog.

Elizabeth Mazer head shotBLOGGER: ELIZABETH MAZER

Associate Editor, Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense, Love Inspired Historical

Teaching two afternoon workshops and meeting with writers at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016

 

HOW TO MOVE YOUR COVER LETTER TO THE TOP OF THE PILE

Writing a cover letter is a little like dressing for a blind date. The right choices can be key to winning someone over…but what’s the best option? What outfit says “I’m funny, charming, and make a killer apple pie”? How can you guess what your date will like or hate? There’s no hard-and-fast rule about what makes a good cover letter. But there are some things you can keep in mind. As someone who reads a lot of cover letters, here’s my two cents (or rather, three hints) to help your cover letter stand out in the best way.

1) Cover the basics: Writing your cover letter may be like prepping for a blind date, but receiving it is like speed dating when I first skim through it to see if your story fits my requirements. Help me out by starting the letter with some key facts: word count, genre, main selling points (in romance fiction, these can be things like “reunion romance” or “secret baby”). Also be sure to let me know that the manuscript is complete. (I’m afraid I can’t review works-in-progress.) And what I want to know most? The title! You’d be surprised how often I get cover letters where the book’s title isn’t mentioned at all.

2) If you know it, show it!: You’ve done your research before targeting an agent or editor, right? You know what books we’ve worked on already, and what types of stories we’re seeking. Pique our interest by pointing out how your writing style fits with what we’re requesting. If you’re targeting me with a Love Inspired story, be sure to note how your sweet-rather-than-sensual romance grows as the hero and heroine face challenges together and achieve happiness in a realistic but still faith-driven manner. Show us that you know what we’re looking for, and that you have it, ready to deliver.

3) Toot your own horn—especially if your hero’s a trumpet player: The information describing your story (word count, title, plot highlights) definitely needs to come first, but when you get to the end of your letter, leave room for a little bragging. Has this story won awards from your local writers’ organization? Have you won awards—or maybe landed on a bestseller list—for any other books you’ve written? Or perhaps you have personal knowledge or experience that enhances this particular story? If you’re writing a story with a special forces hero/heroine and you served in the military for fifteen years, then that’s great information for us to know. But please keep it professional and related to this project—sell me on your book, not yourself.

There aren’t any guarantees in life, but by following these tips, you stand a much better chance of getting a second date—or at least a letter from an editor/agent to say something other than that s/he’s just not that into you!

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You’ll meet Elizabeth Mazer at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, where she will review manuscripts, teach two workshops, and meet with writers.

Click here to REGISTER NOW!

Why Investing in Your Writing Career is a Good Idea

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

B.J. Taylor.2BLOGGER: B.J. TAYLOR

Editorial Representative, Guideposts Magazine

Teaching an Afternoon Workshop, Reviewing Pre-Conference Manuscripts and meeting with writers at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22.

 

WHY INVESTING IN YOUR WRITING CAREER IS A GOOD IDEA

The great accomplishments of man have resulted from the transmission of ideas and enthusiasm.” – Thomas J. Watson

The Mount Hermon Writers Conference has ideas, enthusiasm and more!

l  Choose from a variety of classes (all at the same place).

l  Meet many other writers (think writer’s group/critique group potential).

l  Touch base with editors and agents (think sales down the road).

Benjamin Franklin said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” When I first started attending the Mount Hermon conferences, I was a newbie writer with a few small successes in publication. I kept coming back, year after year, and learned more and more, and today, well, I’d credit a great deal of my success to attending those conferences (adding in a lot of perseverance and a lot of work on my writing skills).

Do you want to change the world with your writing? Steve Jobs said, “…The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Be one of those people. And if it scares you to think of attending a conference where there are hundreds of people, just remember this from John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.

Investing in your writing career by attending a conference is important because it’s the place where you can hone your skills, listen to other writers talk about how they succeed, and make a plan for yourself on how to be successful and make money with your writing. And making money isn’t a bad thing. Selling what you write helps to offset the money you invest.

When thinking about where to come up with the funds needed for the conference, take it from Steve Martin who said, “I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too.” lol Like Steve Martin, I’ve bought dumb stuff, too, but I’ve learned to put priority on what I need, and that’s the infusion of ideas and enthusiasm that Mount Hermon brings.

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Lao Tzu

Take that step of investment in your writing career. I’d love to see you at Mount Hermon in March.

___________________

Come meet B.J. Taylor at the 43rd annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

Click here to Register Now!