Posts Categorized: Writers Conference

Down Payment on a Dream

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Wendy LawtonBLOGGER: WENDY LAWTON

Literary Agent and Vice President of Books & Such Literary Management

Co-Teaching a One-Hour Workshop and serving on the Agent Panel.

 

DOWN PAYMENT ON A DREAM

I’m guessing that some who investigate the cost of attending a writer’s conference like The Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference are taken back by the cost. Four nights of accommodations in a pristine giant redwoods setting with a couple dozen meals, snacks and food events not to mention professional mentoring, teaching and networking with publishing professionals. Does it give you sticker shock?

I’m rereading Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge for the third time. Yes, it’s only been out for a little less than two years but this book is worth reading and rereading even in the space of a few months. On day seven, which he titles, Put on Waders, he tells the story about the year before his congregation bought what is now the famous coffee shop, Ebenezers, on Capitol Hill. They were praying for a piece of property to come available– any piece. They knew it would take a near-miracle to find anything for sale, let alone for a price they might be able to pay.

That year he took an $85.00 step of faith that set them up for the three million dollar miracle to come. His children’s school held a charity auction and he attended. Most people bid on trips or tickets to sporting events but he decided to bid on a book on Capitol Hill zoning codes donated by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. Batterson bought the book and considered it a down payment on a dream. He sensed he needed to demonstrate his faith even before they found a property.

As I read that for the third time, it hit me– that’s what we ask writers to do all the time. Put a down payment on a dream. What are some of the things you might do?

  • Create a website and begin building a reader following long before you have your first contract.
  • Jump into social media and begin to build a platform long ahead of your book.
  • Join the writing community and connect with other writers, both published and not-yet-published.
  • Spend scarce dollars to take classes and webinars.
  • Create a writing environment in your home– a place for you to be serious about your dream. (I know, I know, but Noah built the Ark on dry land, didn’t he?)
  • Or maybe, just maybe, click on register for the 2016 Mount Hermon Writers’ Conference. Let it be your down payment on a dream.

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Come meet Wendy Lawton at the Mount Hermon, March 18-22, 2015, where she’ll participate in a couple of workshops, review pre-conference manuscripts, and meet with writers!

 

There’s Never Been A Better Time to Write for Kids!

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Jill OsborneBLOGGER: JILL OSBORNE

Children’s Author

Serving on the Critique Team, March 2016; Teaching an Afternoon Workshop

 

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Write for Kids!

I stared out at the crowd of a hundred or so kids at VBS.

Should I ask the question or not?

I was afraid, a little, because I’m a writer. But I was curious, a lot, because I’m a writer.

“How many of you like to read?”

To my surprise, three-quarters of the hands shot up. Half of them belonged to the boys.

 

My fingers fumbled with the zipper on my purse as the young couple in front of me talked about the joys and struggles of raising three girls.

Be bold. Ask them.

“What’s the age of your oldest?”

“She’s ten.”

“Does she like to read?”

Their eyes widened. “She loves it.”

“Then I’d like to give her a gift, if you don’t mind.” I pulled a book out of my purse, signed it, and handed it to them.

“You’re a writer?” They both teared up a little. “Thank you so much. We just visited our daughter at summer camp, and she’s struggling to fit in with girls her age. We know this will encourage her.”

 

I noticed an alert from a parent on my author Facebook page.

Go ahead. Click on it.

“My OH so picky reader LOVES your books! Thanks for following Jesus.”

 

There’s never been a better time to write for kids.

 

“I’ve thought about writing for kids,” you might say. “But… (Fill in your best ‘but’ here.)”

Hmmm. Sounds like you need encouragement. I have some for you.

The Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference in 2016 is shaping up to be one of the best years yet for training, inspiring, and discovering children’s writers!

Check out who’s on this year’s faculty:

Children’s Authors:

  • Mona Hodgson (She’s the conference director but has written many books for kids—one that is currently my granddaughter’s favorite)
  • Christine Tangvald (A picture book genius and the inventor of enthusiasm)
  • Tim Shoemaker (I love his intense Code of Silence series.)
  • Nancy Rue (I’ll finally get her to sign all my Faithgirlz books!)
  • Crystal Bowman (She’s an expert at loving the littlest readers with her many picture books and Bible stories)
  • Me (I’ll be teaching a workshop and hanging out at the critique table. Please come and get a “Hey, you’re a children’s writer!” knuckle bump and some M&Ms.)

Children’s Editors:

This list is amazing! And it doesn’t even include all the super-talented writers for kids who plan to attend the conference.

I hope you will be one of them.

Why? Because kids really do like to read these days—even the boys. They’re also struggling to grow up godly in a culture that is fighting against them at every turn. Parents are hoping and praying and searching for quality materials for their children to read. And you, my friend, are a writer.

Sounds like the best time ever to write for kids.

See you at Mt. Hermon!

Why I Attend Writers’ Conferences

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Rachel Kent CroppedBLOGGER: RACHEL KENT

Literary Agent with Books & Such Literary Management

Serving on the Agent Panel workshop and meeting with writers.

 

WHY I ATTEND WRITERS’ CONFERENCES

Thank you for the opportunity to share on the Mount Hermon blog.

[Mona: We’re happy to hear from you, Rachel. Thanks for the post!]

I’m excited to get to be a part of the writers’ conference next year. I always enjoy the Mount Hermon conference! I have met a lot of my clients there and the classes are top notch.

[Mona: We’re thrilled you’re going to be with us and part of the faculty in March.]

Obviously, agents go to writers’ conferences to meet potential clients, but are there reasons beyond the obvious? YES!

Here are a few of the other reasons I like to attend writers conferences:

1) I attend conferences to help authors learn about publishing and what agents do. I usually teach one or two workshops. I am not teaching at Mt. Hermon this year because I have to leave on Sunday, but I will be participating in an Agent Panel workshop Saturday afternoon and I’m available for appointments–not only for pitches, but also to help answer questions writers might have.

2) I always enjoy gathering with fellow bibliophiles and worshiping God with other Christians. The worship time at many Christian conferences is a highlight for me. And worshiping surrounded by people who love books is a small slice of heaven.

3) I take time during conferences to talk with the editors who are also there on faculty. It’s a great time for us to connect face-to-face to discuss projects that are in the works, find out what the editors are looking to acquire, and discuss projects that I have to pitch that might be of interest.

4) I like to take the time at conferences to connect with my clients who are also at the conference. At larger conferences where there are many clients gathered, we’ll host a get-together for all of our agency clients to meet and mingle. I try to fit in one-on-one time with each client, too.

What are some reasons you like to attend writers’ conferences?

Will I see you at Mount Hermon’s Christian Writers’ Conference 2016?

__________________

Come meet Rachel Kent at Mount Hermon in March!

What I Wish I’d Known When My First Novel Was Published

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LisabooksigningthumbPBXBLOGGER: LISA WINGATE

Award-Winning Novelist

Instructor for Supercharge Your Fiction and Your Writing Career, a Major Morning Track, Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 2016

 

What I Wish I’d Known When My First Novel Was Published

No matter what trajectory your particular writing career may take or what point you’re at in your quest, you can safely assume that, if you’ve chosen this profession, you’re in for a roller coaster ride. A writing career is challenging. It’s demanding. It’s busy. It can be unforgiving and maddening. It can also be unbelievably rewarding and filled with moments of story and human connection that are nothing short of bliss. With my twenty-fifth book, The Sea Keeper’s Daughters, hitting shelves in September, I can honestly say that my career has been filled with things I didn’t expect. That’s probably because I knew next to nothing about the business when I started.

If I could go back to the moment I sold my first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, to (then) Penguin Putnam, I’d tell myself a few things:

  1. Write because you love it.  I know everyone says that, but it’s true. If you really want a long career, you must figure out how to produce book, after book, while managing promotion, production edits, multiple forms of communication, and life in general. Set a manageable daily page quota or daily writing hours, and hold yourself to it. One of the hardest things about writing is time management.
  1. Finish your first manuscript and write another.  It’s almost impossible to sell on a partial in fiction if you’re unpublished. Polish your manuscript and send it out, because as much as we’d like them to, editors won’t come looking in your desk drawer. While you’re waiting for news, write another book.  If the first one sells, you’ll be set for a two-book deal. If the first one doesn’t sell, you will have eggs in another basket. Be tenacious, be as thick-skinned as possible, keep writing while you wait for news.
  1. Rejection stinks, but it happens. Rejection isn’t anything personal; it’s just part of the business, and it’s to be expected. Your project isn’t bad just because it gets rejected. It may not be that editor’s (or agent’s) cup of tea, the house might not be buying right then, they may have another author under contract whose work is similar to yours, and so on. There are so many reasons a book can be rejected, and the real trick is to look at the rejections as a tool and then move on. Don’t make sweeping changes based on one opinion unless there’s an imminent sale involved. Conversely, if you receive the same criticism from several editors (or agents), consider pulling out the red pen and getting to work
  1. You probably won’t hit the NYT immediately. In fact, few writers ever reach this coveted level. Be careful how you measure success. Setting lofty goals is a good thing… right up until you feel like a failure for not achieving them. Myriad factors determine which books get the “perfect storm” of great cover, great market timing, and heavy publisher promotion. Some of it is just luck. Write the very best book you can. Do what you can to promote. Stop obsessing. Write another book.
  1. Find your creative tribe. On any given road, you’re never the only traveler. Others walk in shoes like your own and shoes that are different. Find them. Critique one another’s work, brainstorm together, give creative criticism, take creative criticism, and learn from one another. Give back more than you get.
  1. Cheer for other people. One of the best promotional avenues available to writers today, yesterday, and tomorrow remains cooperative promotion. Find authors whose work is similar to yours. Shout out for one another’s successes, awards, and new releases. Your readers will thank you for the tips and you’ll feel good about doing something positive for someone else. You’ll also have that warm feeling when others do the same for you.

Above all, while you’re walking the writer-road, be aware, be in the moment, don’t close your eyes even for an instant. Wherever you go in life, there are nuggets of story along the trail. Sometimes you’ll see them coming; sometimes you’ll stumble over them. Pause long enough to pick them up and examine them. Your writer’s mind can take it from there.

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What piece of advice from Lisa struck a chord with you? What next step will you take in response?
Lisa Wingate The Sea Keepers Daughter

Read a free excerpt of The Sea Keeper’s Daughters!

Come meet Lisa Wingate at Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, 2016, where she will teach a Major Morning Track for fiction writers. In the meantime, here’s where you can connect with Lisa on the Internet.

Lisa’s website 

Lisa’s newsletter signup 

Twitter 

Facebook  

Pinterest

Lisa’s blog

A Courage Challenge

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Many thanks to our 2016 Faculty for supplying two posts a week through the conference in March. 

Jan Kern smlBLOGGER: JAN KERN

Nonfiction Author

Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic Coordinator and Nonfiction Mentor

Morning Mentoring Nonfiction Coordinator and Nonfiction Mentor

 

A COURAGE CHALLENGE

Artist Vincent van Gogh asked the question, “What would life be like if we had courage enough to attempt anything?”

As a writer who is also a credentialed life coach, I love asking questions like this. They are big dream questions that lift us out of the narrow scope of vision we are living. They help us explore, not simply possibilities, but where our heart might be already longing to go, where perhaps God has been inviting us to go next.

But what is courage enough for us as writers?

Courage enough to…

  • slash what isn’t working in our stuck plotline
  • cut open the tough places of our own story
  • take that leap toward a different reader-audience focus
  • face down the daily taunts of inadequacy
  • add our voice to a seemingly satiated market
  • compose those first difficult words of a new project

These are what stir our writer’s gut with longing or fear, where we find we are holding our breath.

What is stirring for you as you look at your unique writing projects or publishing hopes and dreams? Capture a clear picture and then allow me to add one more—a courage challenge:

Courage enough to trust God to take you wherever he needs to in order to shape you as his writer so he might powerfully set loose words and stories through you for his purposes.

Where might he take you? Can you imagine the heights? Or does hesitancy keep you grounded? You might have already seen and been inspired by the popular quote by contemporary poet, Erin Hanson:

There is freedom waiting for you,

On the breezes of the sky.

And you ask, “What if I fall?”

“Oh but darling,

What if you fly?”

In those words, and really throughout Scripture, we see a companion to courage called trust. The question that begins and ends the whole adventure of flying is God’s: “Do you trust me in this?”

______________________

Where do you struggle most with courage?

You’ll 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.

Why Viewpoint Matters

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Kathy Tyers GillinBLOGGER: KATHY TYERS GILLIN

Freelance Author, Fiction

Mentoring a fiction group in the Morning Mentoring Clinic, March 2016; Teaching a one-hour workshop

 

WHY VIEWPOINT MATTERS

Think about the last book that made you forget everything but the story. Maybe making dinner slipped your mind. Maybe you stayed up way past your bedtime.

Why do we do this?

A deeply involved reader is temporarily convinced that the story events are really happening. For as long as she’s reading that book, she actually feels like she’s a character, experiencing the romance and adventure, the strange and wonderful world that the author created.

But a human being can only be in one place at a time, experiencing one person’s thoughts. That’s why—to convince readers that they are living the story—it’s vital for a writer to understand viewpoint.

Skillful authors use viewpoint well, and once the adventure ends, their readers thank them—after recovering from those forgotten dinners and missed hours of sleep. Satisfied readers want to repeat the experience, too. They want to buy the next book in the series. They recommend the author to their friends, so they can share the excitement.

Good, strong viewpoint anchors the reader in every scene without confusion or frustration. Authors use many kinds of viewpoint, but one in particular is easiest to write well: we call it “third person limited.” Since the reader becomes one character in every scene, living in story time, it feels like real life. To create this sense of living inside the story, an author uses vivid, active verbs, skillful speaker attributions, body language and gesture, realistic sequencing, and other elements of strong fiction writing.

That’s why studying viewpoint is essential. I’d love to see you next spring at Mount Hermon, where I’ll teach an afternoon workshop on taking your readers along on the journey using strong viewpoint.

Kathy Tyers Gillin

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You’ll meet Kathy Tyers Gillin at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, where she will lead the Morning Mentoring Clinic for Fantasy and Speculative Fiction writers and teach a one-hour workshop.

Writing Your Own Story

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Kay StromBLOGGER: KAY MARSHALL STROM

Freelance Author, Fiction and Nonfiction

Leading the Returners’ Reunion and teaching The Ready Writer: An Intro to Writing for Publication, a Major Morning Track at the March 2016 conference.

 

WRITING YOUR OWN STORY

You have lived through some tough stuff. But you have also received unexpected blessings. You feel certain that people could benefit from the lessons you learned, but is it possible to write personal experiences in a way that resonates with others? When your writing is done, will anyone want to read it? Will it be published?

Excellent questions! (The answers are: yes, hopefully, and that depends.) So, how to proceed? I’ve written from my own experiences, and I’ve also taught personal writing, and what I’ve found is that these four steps can pave the way to a strong manuscript.

1. Find your focus. Suppose your entire neighborhood was destroyed by fire. One person might focus on the horror and loss of such a catastrophe. Another might write about the bravery of a particular rescuer. Another might concentrate on how best to explain loss to children. Still another might focus on a biblical examination of God’s protection. Which of these is the right focus for a personal experience essay? If you said, “Any of them!” you are right. The important thing is that you choose a single focus and stick with it.

 2. Search out a Universal Truth. We all experience tough things. Some so tough that they forever divide our lives into before and after. The problem with writing about such events is that readers tend to think: Yes, that’s bad. But what happened to me is even worse! Why, one time…  However passionately you write, however poignantly you express yourself, readers will never be able to feel as deeply as you felt. It’s not their experience. The best way to write about your milestone is to make it a frame for a universal experience. Have it illustrate something to which we can all relate. For instance, if you lost your house in that fire, the universal truth might be perspective. Your loss is a terrible tragedy. (I know, because it happened to me!) But still it is just a house. Whatever your topic, I suggest that you make a list of Universal Truths and find one that will fit your experience. Here are some suggestions to start your list: Give thanks always. This world is not my home. The truth will set you free. Where your treasure is, that’s where your heart will be.

3. Determine your audience. Who do you expect to read your writing? Your family? Other Christians? People who are experiencing similar difficulties? People who have no idea what it’s like to be in such a situation? This is important for you to know, because you will write differently for each—for instance, readers who already know and love you and understand your pain, as opposed to strangers who are struggling to make sense of their own situations.

 4. Start writing! Should you write about your personal experience? Absolutely! Way too many people get so busy talking about writing that they never get around to actually putting words on paper. Should that writing be published? Maybe, or maybe not. But this I can say unequivocally: no one will ever read it if you never write it!

Bring your writing with you to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in March 2016. Remind me of this post, and I will go over your work with you.

Write on!

______________

Are you working on a personal story? Which of Kay’s four steps will you work on next?

You’ll meet Kay Marshall Strom at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, where she will lead the Returners Reunion and teach a Major Morning Track.

 

 

A Celebration of Villains

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Elizabeth Mazer head shotBLOGGER: ELIZABETH MAZER

Associate Editor

Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense, Love Inspired Historical

Teaching two afternoon workshops and meeting with writers, March 18-22, 2016

 

A Celebration of Villains

Romantic suspense writers are amazing. The way that my fantastic Love Inspired Suspense authors balance compelling characters, fast pacing, strong conflicts, terrifying danger, deep faith and sweet, satisfying romance into each story never fails to impress me. Writing a good romantic suspense story isn’t easy, but when it works wow how it dazzles. How can you make that happen for your story? Here’s my tip—take a closer look at your villain.

I am a champion of those poor, underappreciated bad guys—and you should be, too. The villain is the heart of your story. He (or she! or they!) makes it all happen. In your mental plot party, the hero and heroine bring the warmth, the charm, the strong sense of duty and gradually blossoming love—but the excitement and adrenaline-rush don’t step through the door until the villain arrives with the high-stakes danger.

Know your villains as well as you know your protagonists. What are his goals? What is he willing to do to get what he wants? What’s standing in his way? And how does every action he takes play into his grand scheme?

Imagine a heroine sees something she wasn’t supposed to see, and bolts before the villain can stop her. Once the villain tracks her down, what does he do? Does he send her a threatening note? No, he doesn’t want her on her guard, he wants her oblivious so he can sneak up right behind her. So don’t start your story with a threatening note—start it with the heroine waking up in the middle of the night to someone breaking into her house. Or discovering her car brakes have been cut. Or a gunshot out of nowhere.

Maybe the heroine has info the villain badly needs. Will he try to kill her? Nah, she can’t tell him anything if she’s dead. Will he threaten her? Maybe…but with what? Could he hold one of her loved ones hostage? Could he blackmail her with the threatened exposure of some past secret? Before the story even starts, your villain needs to be asking himself these questions—and finding answers that get him everything he wants.

That’s the fun part of villains—they have a plan. Whether they want to steal an inheritance, cover up a murder, or take over the world, the villain knows precisely what he’s after. Villains aren’t reactive—they start the ball rolling and keep it rolling. While the hero and heroine are dodging bullets and wondering what on earth is going on, the villain is giving an evil laugh and telling his hairless cat that everything is going according to plan. J

Dig deeper into your villains, and watch the story fall into place. Once you know how your villain has decided to threaten/attack/connive his way into what he wants, you’ll know what your hero and heroine are up against. And with those high stakes and ruthless plans in place… the party begins!

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Who are your favorite villains?

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.

It’s All About the DASHES

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Kathy Ide 

 BLOGGER: Kathy Ide

Coordinator of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference Critique Team

 

DASHES

Two types of dashes are often used in book manuscripts:

em dash: —

en dash: –

The em dash

According to The Chicago Manual of Style and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, an em dash should be used to denote a sudden break in thought that causes an abrupt change in sentence structure. For example:

Will he—can he—obtain the necessary signatures?

The em dash is used to indicate that one person’s speech has been interrupted by another.

“Well,” he began, “I thought I might—”

“Might what?” Jayna interrupted.

The Chicago manual also states that a defining or enumerating complementary element in a sentence may be set off by dashes.

“Suzette could forgive every insult but the last—the snub by her coauthor.”

“Three novelists—Francine Rivers, Angela Elwell Hunt, and Karen Kingsbury—have most influenced my own writing.”

CMOS and CWMS recommend that no more than a single dash (or pair of dashes) be used in a sentence. Dashes should be used sparingly throughout a manuscript.

The en dash

The en dash is used for connecting inclusive numbers, including dates, time, or reference numbers. Examples:

1981–1982                 pages 31–33                Daniel 13:3–15

 

TYPING TIPS

Some word processors can convert hyphens to dashes. In MS Word, go to Tools, AutoCorrect, AutoFormat. Put a check in “Symbol characters (–) with symbols (—).” Then:

To make an en dash, type a word, insert a space, then type a hyphen, then type the next letter or word followed by a space. Once the hyphen converts to an en dash, delete the spaces before and after it. To make an em dash, type a word (do not insert a space), then type a double-hyphen, then type the next letter or word followed by a space.

MS Word has keyboard shortcuts for dashes. For an en dash, hold down the Ctrl key and hit the hyphen on your number pad. For an em dash, hold the Ctrl and Alt keys, then hit the hyphen on your number pad.

If your computer can’t convert, a hyphen may be used in place of an en dash, and a double-hyphen can be typed to represent an em dash, with no spaces before, after, or in between.

Note: For article manuscripts (per the Associated Press Stylebook), do not use the en dash. And insert a space before and after an em dash. For example: “Books — but not articles — use en dashes.”

__________________

Did you know the distinction between the two dashes? Think maybe those tips will help revolutionize your dash-editing process?

You’ll meet Kathy Ide at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, where she serves as the coordinator of the Critique Team. Click here to learn more about the Critique Team.

 

What Kind of Children’s Book?

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

 

Starting today, we will feature bi-weekly posts by some of our 2016 writers’ conference faculty and resource team members. We’re starting with a little something for children’s writers.

Crystal Bowman from FB

BLOGGER: CRYSTAL BOWMAN

Mentor, Pre-Conference Next Level Mentoring Clinic ~ Take Your Children’s Writing to the Next Level

Workshop ~ Rhythm, Rhyme & Repetition

WHAT KIND OF CHILDREN’S BOOK?

When writers tell me they want to write a children’s book, I ask them, “What kind of children’s book?” They often give me a puzzled look and reply, “What do you mean?”

The writer is usually referring to the standard 32-page hardcover picture book with illustrations, but there are several sub-genres within the genre of children’s literature that writers need to know about before submitting their work to a publisher. Boardbooks for toddlers, preschool picture books, and books for beginning readers are much different from 32-page picture book with a story. Each sub-genre has its own set of requirements such as word count, page count, vocabulary, and themes.

God’s Big Promises for Kids
  • Boardbooks: Boardbooks are written for little ones who are not learning to read, they are learning to talk. Therefore the words in a boardbook need to be chosen carefully. Even though an adult will be reading the book to the child, the words need to be concrete words that a child can comprehend. Boardbooks are usually 12 pages with bold illustrations and few words per page. Even though you will have little or no say in the illustrations, you need to be able to visualize your words.
Preschool Picture Book
  • Preschool Picture Books: Though some preschoolers may begin to recognize letters, numbers, and even a few short words, many children at this age are still experimenting with sounds and learning new words to add to their growing vocabulary. They enjoy verbally playing with words and sounds, and a skilled writer will incorporate “word play” into the text. Alliteration, onomatopoeia, assonance, repetition, and rhyme are some examples of word play that can help a preschool picture book reach its targeted audience.
Picture Book
  • Picture Books: The standard 32-(or 48) page picture book is a fictional story with a full plot—beginning, middle, and ending. It is usually less than 1000 words, and the story is told using complete sentences and paragraphs. Character development is critical, as well as dialogue. The illustrations enhance the story, but the story can stand alone and is not dependent on illustrations. The market is flooded with premium picture book, so in order to get noticed, a writer has to offer something that is unique and exceptional.
Beginning Reader Book
  • Beginning Reader Books: When writing for beginning readers, writers need to write satisfying stories to get kids excited about reading. They need to use vocabulary words that can be sounded out easily. The sentence structure needs to be simple and direct with few dependent clauses. The stories are told primarily through action and dialogue, and most of the descriptions are left to the illustrations. The key is to combine good writing with engaging stores that can be developed into a series.

In addition to these sub-genres, the children’s market also includes non-fiction picture books, young adult fiction or non-fiction books, Bible storybooks, and devotions for children. So the next time you tell someone you want to write a children’s book, be prepared to tell them what kind of children’s book you have in mind.

_________________

Did you know about the various formats for children’s books? Which category best fits the children’s book you’re writing?

You’ll meet Crystal Bowman at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, where she will serve as a mentor for children’s writers in the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinics, March 16-18, and teach a workshop and serve on the Critique Team, March 18-22. Click here to learn more about the Critique Team.

The Ready Writer: Intro to Writing for Publication

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Each Monday, we’re featuring one of the Major Morning Tracks lined up for March 2016.

Choose one of seven tracks designed for writers at every skill level for your Major Morning Track—Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Designed with three parts packed with benefits.

  • Morning Instruction
  • Guided writing in tandem with the teaching
  • Afternoon Mentoring Groups


Instructor: Kay Marshall Strom, Author 

Kay StromKay Marshall Strom is a writer and speaker with a heart for the world-wide family of God. She has authored 44 books—nonfiction and fiction. Her writing credits include magazine articles, TV and movie scripts, curriculum, books for children, and writers’ helps. Her work appears in many compilations, including various editions of NIV Devotional Bibles. Kay and husband Dan Kline live in Eugene, Oregon.

Major Morning Track #7 of 7

The Ready Writer: Intro to Writing for Publication

Writing is both an art and a craft. In this class we will develop both sides.  Art of Writing topics will include: finding ideas and determining their marketability, managing writing time, handling acceptance, and gaining through “rejections.”  The Craft of Writing topics will focus on specific how-to’s of successful writing such as structure, theme, beginnings and endings, dialogue, characters, research, and self-editing.  You will have an opportunity to apply what you learn, and by the end the course will have a finished short piece.  This class is designed for beginning writers, and also intermediates who want a more solid writing foundation.

What specific questions do you have that you’d like Kay Strom to answer in her Major Morning Track?

If you missed any of the previously featured Major Morning Track posts you can view them here.

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Magazine Writing: Starting Point or Destination?

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Each Monday, we’re featuring one of the Major Morning Tracks lined up for March 2016.

Choose one of seven tracks designed for writers at every skill level for your Major Morning Track—Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Designed with three parts packed with benefits.

  • Morning Instruction
  • Guided writing in tandem with the teaching
  • Afternoon Mentoring Groups


Instructor: Jesse Florea, Magazine Editor and Author 

Jesse FloreaJesse Florea has worked at Focus on the Family for more than 22 years. For the past 18, he’s been the editor of Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse magazine (for boys and girls ages 8 to 12) and is currently the editorial director for youth publications where he oversees Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines. Additionally, Jesse has written for dozens of magazines, including current monthly assignments from devotion and teen publications. He has helped co-write more than a 20 books (including The Case for Grace for Kids, The One Year Father-Daughter Devotions, The One Year Devotions for Active Boys, The One Year Devos for Sports Fans, Linspired: The Jeremy Lin Story and Playing With Purpose Mariano Rivera).  He lives with his wife, Stephanie, in Colorado Springs, and enjoys hanging out with his two adult children.

Major Morning Track #6 of 7

Magazine Writing: Starting Point or Destination?

Is print dead? No way! But the industry is changing. This workshop looks at the reasons you may want to write for periodicals, which include the 3P’s (not to be confused with the C-3PO’s): profit, platform and portfolio. It’s also a great way to express your passion. (Hey, that’s a fourth P!) We’ll talk about how to capture an editor’s attention, practice crafting an effective lead, learn about different types of magazines (online and print), delve into devotional writing and discover how good interviewing skills can open doors to big-time periodicals.

What specific questions do you have that you’d like Jesse Florea to answer in his Major Morning Track?

If you missed any of the previously featured Major Morning Track posts you can view them here.

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The Art and Wonder of Writing for Tweens & Teens

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Each Monday, we’re featuring one of the Major Morning Tracks lined up for March 2016.

Choose one of seven tracks designed for writers at every skill level for your Major Morning Track—Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Designed with three parts packed with benefits.

  • Morning Instruction
  • Guided writing in tandem with the teaching
  • Afternoon Mentoring Groups

Nancy Rue cropped (677x800)Instructor: Nancy Rue, Author 

Nancy comes to the mentoring table with a wealth of experience: 31 years writing both fiction and non-fiction for middle grade, YA, new adult, and adult audiences; 43 years teaching creative writing; and 122 published books. Over a million of those have sold over her 20 years writing full time. A two-time Christy Award winner, Nancy has expanded her ministry through her Writer’s Mentorship Program to mentor new authors who are led to a writing ministry of their own.

Major Morning Track #5 of 7

The Art and Wonder of Writing for Tweens & Teens

It takes a special kind of writer to create for children and young adults. Writing for them requires not only a  degree of child-brain and kid-memory, but a  certain skill set – an aptitude – a calling. In our time together we’ll discover exactly where you fall as a young people’s author, how you can hone the tools you need in the bag, and just where to go from there as a person called to the kids.

 

What questions do you have that you’d like Nancy Rue to answer in her Major Morning Track?

 

If you missed any of the previous Major Morning Track posts you can view them here.

 

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Super Charge Your Fiction and Your Writing Career

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Each Monday, we’re featuring one of the Major Morning Tracks lined up for March 2016.

Choose one of seven tracks designed for writers at every skill level for your Major Morning Track—Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Designed with three parts packed with benefits.

  • Morning Instruction
  • Morning Writing Assignments in conjunction with teaching
  • Afternoon Mentoring Groups

Lisa WingateInstructor: Lisa Wingate, Author 

Lisa Wingate’s novels were selected among BOOKLIST’S Top 10 of 2012 and Top 10 of 2013, Publisher’s Weekly calls her work “Masterful,” and Booklist described her as, “Quite simply, a master storyteller.” She is a journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the author of twenty-five novels. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol Award finalist, a Christianity Today Book Award finalist, a four-time Christy Award finalist, a Christian Retailing’s Best Award finalist, and a two-time Carol Award winner. The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.

Major Morning Track #4 of 7

Supercharge Your Fiction and Your Writing Career

Lisa Wingate, national bestselling author of twenty-five novels for Penguin Putnam, Bethany House, and Tyndale House, opens her writer’s toolkit and shares her methods of employing plot structure, character, setting, voice, pacing, editing, tight writing, author brand, and marketing strategies to tune floundering manuscripts, sustain audience, and maintain a long-lasting career in fiction. These tips will help your work speed past the roadblocks that could be standing between you and your writing goals.

What questions do you have that you’d like Lisa Wingate to answer in her Major Morning Track?

If you missed any of the previous Major Morning Track posts you can view them here.

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Snapshots from the 2015 Mount Hermon Writers’ Conference

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Were you at the 2015 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference in March?

What would you say is one of the many benefits to gathering with others in the redwoods at Mount Hermon every spring?

Many would say ~ it’s the conversation!

Conversations with writers, agents, and editors.

classroom conversation conversation amidst the trees Conversations outside auditorium meal conversations Randy in conversation after class conversation at the field Three conversations Meal conversations three

 

Join the conversation . . .

March 16-22, 2016!

Mark your calender ~

Pre-Conference Next Level Mentoring Clinics – March 16-18, 2016

Main Conference – March 18-22, 2016

 

How To Be An Insanely Great Indie Author

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Each Monday we are highlighting one of the Major Morning Tracks for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference.

Choose one of seven tracks designed for writers at every skill level for your Major Morning Track—Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Designed with three parts packed with benefits.

  • Morning Instruction
  • Morning Writing Assignments in conjunction with teaching
  • Afternoon Mentoring Groups

Randy Ingermanson
Instructor: Randy Ingermanson, Author

Randy Ingermanson is the award-winning author of six novels and the best-selling guidebooks Writing Fiction for Dummies and How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method. He has a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from UC Berkeley and is famous around the world as “the Snowflake Guy” in honor of his wildly popular Snowflake Method of writing a novel. Randy is an indie author whose goal is to achieve Total World Domination. His wife is OK with that, as long as he remembers to take out the garbage. Visit Randy’s web site at www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com to see what he’s up to next.

Major Morning Track #3 of 7

HOW TO BE AN INSANELY GREAT INDIE AUTHOR

The internet is buzzing with rumors of indie authors earning millions of dollars—all on their own, without an agent or publisher.  It’s also buzzing with naysayers who warn that indie authors don’t earn diddley.  The truth is that most indie authors don’t earn much, but a surprising number are doing incredibly well.  Why the difference?  In this track, we’ll talk about the “Success Equation” that explains who will be winners and who won’t.  We’ll reveal the secrets of successful indie authors—the vision, strategy, and tactics they use to achieve success.

What questions would you like Randy to answer in his Major Morning Track for Indie Authors?

If you missed any of the previous Major Morning Track posts you can view them here.”

Major Morning Track #1 of 7

Major Morning Track #2 of 7

 

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2016 Keynote Speaker for Mount Hermon Writers

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One of the many highlights of the annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference is the faith-building encouragement and inspiration shared by a general session keynote speaker who has been there.

And our 2016 Keynote Speaker has certainly been there. Places we may dream of going. And places the rest of us would never wish to go, but her writing and her speaking are all the richer for it.

MEET CAROL KENT!

Carol Kent

 

Plan now to come to Mount Hermon, March 18-22, 2016, to glean from Carol Kent.

Why did I choose the word glean?

Take at look at these few facts about Carol . . .

~ 20+ books, including: Becoming a Woman of Influence, When I Lay My Isaac Down, A New Kind of Normal, Between a Rock and a Grace Place, Secret Longings of the Heart, Tame Your Fears, Speak Up With Confidence, and her newest release, Unquenchable.

~ A dynamic, humorous, biblical, and international public speaker.

~ Keynote speaker at Women of Faith, Extraordinary Women, Women of Joy, Time Out for Women, and Heritage Keepers arena events.

~ Speaker at The Praise Gathering for Believers and at Vision New England’s Congress.

~ President of Speak Up Speaker Services, a Christian speakers’ bureau.

~ Founder and Director of the Speak Up Conference, a ministry that equips speakers and writers to take the next step: www.SpeakUpConference.com

~ Along with her husband Gene, founded the nonprofit organization, Speak Up for Hope, which benefits inmates and their families.

~ Former radio show co-host and has often been a guest on Focus on the Family.

~ Regularly appears on a wide variety of nationally syndicated radio and television broadcasts. Past appearances have included the Billy Graham Prime Time Special, Dateline NBC, CNN, MSNBC, Focus on the Family, LIFE Today with James Robison, Family Life Today, and 100 Huntley Street.

~ Featured on the cover of Today’s Christian Woman, and her articles have been published in a wide variety of magazines.

 

As you can see we have much to garner and gain from this passionate and transparent author and speaker.

Plan now to come and reap the benefits of Carol Kent’s life and industry experience.

Have you ever heard Carol Kent speak? When? Where?

We are SO excited Carol (and Gene) will be joining us in the redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains, March 18-22, 2016. We’d love it if you’d help us spread the word in your writing circles.

Find Your Words in the Father’s Presence

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Each Monday we are highlighting one of the Major Morning Tracks for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Choose one of seven tracks designed for writers at every skill level for your Major Morning Track—Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Designed with three parts packed with benefits.

  • Morning Instruction
  • Morning Writing Assignments in conjunction with teaching
  • Afternoon Mentoring Groups

Doug Newton in TreesInstructor: Doug Newton, Author 

Doug Newton is the Senior Pastor of the Greenville (IL) Free Methodist Church and co-director of the National Prayer Ministry of the Free Methodist Church-USA. Formerly the 15-year editor of Light and Life magazine, Doug has authored eight books and travels extensively speaking at conferences, seminars and churches around the world. He and his wife Margie founded Mary’s Place Ministries and hosted prayer retreats for over 15 years.

Major Morning Track #2 of 7

Find Your Words in the Father’s Presence

Jesus set the standard for writers when He said: I do not speak on my own. The Father tells me what to say and how to say it (John 12:49). Seriously? All those amazing parables (fictional short stories) that change hearts? All those authoritative teachings (non-fiction) that transform minds? All that came from an intimate listening relationship with His Father? If the “Word of God made flesh” had to find His words in His Father’s presence, how can we hope to write without a similar process? In this major morning track you will gain confidence in your co-authorship relationship with God and learn how it works in the realms of reasoning and imagination. Your writing will likely become Spirit-filled and creatively fresh. And the value-added bonus? Your prayer life will never be the same.

What questions do you have that you hope Doug will answer in the class?

If you missed any of the previous Major Morning Track posts you can view them here.

Major Morning Track #1 of 7

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Writing Life-Changing Nonfiction

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Each Monday we are highlighting one of the Major Morning Tracks for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Choose one of seven tracks designed for writers at every skill level for your Major Morning Track—Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Designed with three parts packed with benefits.

  • Morning Instruction
  • Morning Writing Assignments in conjunction with teaching
  • Afternoon Mentoring Groups

Alice CriderInstructor: Alice Crider, Senior Acquisitions & Development Editor at David C. Cook

Alice Crider a Senior Acquisitions & Development Editor at David C. Cook. She began her career in Christian publishing at David C. Cook in 1998, moved to Alive Communications in 2001 and then to WaterBrook Press in 2004 where she progressed through editorial ranks acquiring and developing manuscripts. Along the way, she became a certified life coach and published several magazine articles with Focus on the Family. Before returning to David C. Cook, she worked as an Agent with WordServe Literary Group representing 40+ authors. Alice lives in Colorado, where she enjoys hiking, horseback riding, organic gardening, and time with her family.

 

Major Morning Track #1 of 7

Writing Life-Changing Nonfiction

Have you written a non-fiction book (or two) that hasn’t quite hit the mark high enough for a traditional publisher? Have you published or self-published a book that didn’t reach as much of your audience as you intended? In this workshop, Alice will talk about how to reach and engage your audience by tapping into a felt need they don’t even know they have. Look at the characteristics of best-selling books and how you can use the same techniques, and Alice will provide “results-based” coaching that will help you take a quantum leap forward in your writing career. Bring your current project and/or new ideas, as well as some white paper and a blue ink pen (you’ll see why), and be ready to transform how you approach your writing career.

What questions do you hope Alice will answer in the class?

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Mount Hermon Writers–A Timely Distraction

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The Major Morning Tracks at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference experienced a makeover this year. Each of the six offerings delivered three key components–Instruction, Directed Writing, and Mentoring to students in all stages of their development as a writer.

In No Excuses Nonfiction: A Bootcamp for Serious Writers, taught by Lynn Vincent, the participants worked on narrative nonfiction pieces written in response to their experience at the 2015 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference.

Congratulations to Eileen Kusakabe! Her post was one of two chosen to appear on the Mount Hermon Writers blog.

Eileen Kusakabe with her daughter Elyse

Blogger: Eileen Kusakabe

My pulse quickens as I hear others around me tapping furiously on laptops or scribbling their lines on notepads.

“Why am I here?” I moan to myself. “Lord, I want to bring you glory, and present the best story I can about what you are doing in my life. You alone know my lack of education, my overuse of commas, and the genuine struggle to get thoughts and ideas down on paper. Please guide me and provide what I need to serve you well.”

My chest heaves as I take in a deep breath to settle myself and begin the task before me. “What can I write about my Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ conference experience?”

Just last Wednesday I was rolling off an inflatable mattress, reaching to turn off my “Morning Song” phone alarm. How could such a beautiful song start such a sad day? My swollen eyes bore proof of all the tears shed the night before. The end of our time together was at hand. Tiptoeing around the dorm room, I gathered my last few belongings to take down to the car. After quietly changing, my daughter Elyse gathered the car keys and we headed out the door. The crisp early morning air kept us walking at a brisk pace.

My flight, the first of three legs in the journey to Mount Hermon, was set to leave at 6 a.m. Hearing the chimes of Raley Chapel at Oklahoma Baptist University, we knew we were right on time. Few headlights crossed our path as we drove down the wide open roads of Highway 40. We both sat quietly, lost in our thoughts of the past 10 days together. Nearing the Will Rogers World Airport, her wavering voice broke the silence, “I will miss you so much, Mom.”

Feeling my own tears prick the corners of my eyes then splash down my cheeks, I hoarsely replied, “Thank you for letting me see your life and your world. I have enjoyed every moment with you, and can’t wait to see you again.”

Parking at the curb, we pulled out my suitcase, and hugged tightly for a long moment. “Want to pull a ‘Thelma and Louise’ instead?” I whispered into her thick, long hair. Elyse leaned back and rolled her teary eyes.

“Oh Mommy!” She chuckled. I stood alone as she got into the car and called out one last time, “I love you!” Spring Break has ended, and the journey to Mount Hermon begins.

“This is so crazy!” That mantra runs through my mind as I trudge down the staircase to the baggage claim area of San Jose International Airport. My heart flips when I see the “Mount Hermon Writers’ Conference” placard in the hands of a tall balding man. “This is it.” Straightening my shoulders and extending my hand, I introduce myself.

He warmly replies, “Well hello, Kristal you say?”

Shaking my head, I say too quietly, “No, Eileen.”

Continuing down the list he holds, he says,

“Courtney?” Turning my head to one side I smile and jokingly reply, “Nope. Would you like to continue guessing or can I give you my name?”

He nods offhandedly, still looking at the list.

“Eileen Kusakabe.” Looking over his shoulder, I point it out.

“Oh, you’re early,” he states, pointing to a far wall. “You can go stand over there.”

I see a group of enthusiastic men and women smiling and laughing together. I sidle up to the far edge of the group, and notice that a few of these faces look familiar. I had seen them on the website!”

Brief “hellos” are exchanged before I wander off to retrieve my suitcase from the carousel. Thoughts run rampant through my mind. What am I doing here? They look so smart! My pulse quickens as I look down at my old jeans, dirty jacket, and sneakers. They even dress smart! Coats, slacks, scarves, and shoes seem to be the norm. Oh Lord, what have I gotten myself into? Did I hear correctly when you gave me Psalm 32:8? Is this really the best pathway for my life?

Swerving through the mountains in the crowded shuttle I suggest we play, “Jello.” To the right, I hear a faint chuckle.

Small talk ensues with, “Where are you from?” and, “What are you writing?”

Unsure of myself, I rattle off a short concise response that doesn’t portray the depth of what I feel about my writing. “I am writing a memoir about my cancer journey.” How boring! How unimaginative!

Why can’t I convey that God sent me here? How do I get out the story that burns within? Will this conference help me in my quest to write, or confirm my fear that I am incapable? I feel like a spy with a secret identity that I cannot reveal. Maybe I am crazy.

Sleep eludes me after days of endless eating, teaching, and clock watching. I feel as if I am a cup being held beneath a raging waterfall.

Stacy Hawkins Adams, Eileen Kasakabe, and Lynn Vincent

 

It is Palm Sunday, and I long for some refreshment and reflection. The birds call out back and forth between the tree tops, “chrrip, chrrrip, chrrrip” as I walk outside my door in the predawn morning. Though bundled in many layers of clothes, the cold air still seeps through to touch my skin.

Seeing silhouetted forms huddled in front of the coffee shop and hearing faint conversation, the now familiar mantra in my head begins again: Do I really belong here…? Suddenly self-conscious, my gait slows as I make my way across the street. I hear a quiet, “Hello” and, “Good morning” tossed my way.

A fellow writer, Frieda, comes over and gives me a hug, as does my Pre-Conference Head Start teacher, Judy.

A new warmth seeps into my tired bones as I realize I feel a kinship towards these women. Though I have only known them for a few days, they have already read some of my deepest secrets and fears.

A hike to the cross on Mount Hermon’s expansive grounds begins with our group of enthusiastic men and women smiling and laughing together. The cold within melts away as we continue the steep climb. Gasps of delight ensue as we catch our first glimpse of the cross, silhouetted by the faintly lit sky. We circle in and begin singing psalms of praise and offering brief heartfelt prayers.

As the sky begins to lighten, so does my countenance. I am thrilled with the insights learned and the ability to see scenes in my writing. As the sun peeks beyond the horizon, I realize I am in community with these writers. I am no longer afraid.

 

NOTE From Mona Hodgson, Director of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference: Thanks for sharing your blog post with us, Eileen! And many thanks to Lynn Vincent for her stellar contribution to the 2015 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference.

For those of you who left Lynn’s classroom wanting more AND for those of you who missed out and need another opportunity, I have great news! Lynn Vincent plans to return to Mount Hermon, March 16-22, 2016, as a nonfiction mentor.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. And plan to join us in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California in 2016!

 

 

 

 

Writing Bootcamp

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

The Major Morning Tracks at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference experienced a makeover this year. Each of the six offerings delivered three key components–Instruction, Directed Writing, and Mentoring to students in all stages of their development as a writer.

In No Excuses Nonfiction: A Bootcamp for Serious Writers, taught by Lynn Vincent, the participants worked on narrative nonfiction pieces written in response to their experience at the 2015 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference.

Congratulations to Bethany Macklin! Her post was one of two chosen to appear on the Mount Hermon Writers blog.

Bethany Macklin

Blogger: Bethany Macklin

“This stupid thing, I can’t get it to work,” my husband said swiping back and forth on his iPhone. His recent job loss had been hard on all of us. He glanced at me. “My mom is sending group texts about Easter plans. I hate group messages!”

We sat in the car waiting for my ride to Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference. Going to Mount Hermon this year was a gift from God. In the face of our financial crisis, I had planned to cancel my reservation, but a generous campership had come through at the last minute. Good thing, too. I didn’t know how much more stress I could take and I hadn’t been able to write for a month.

I needed to get away. To regroup. To recharge my writing call. After months of intense work pressure, impossible ministry deadlines, and three weeks of back to back mind-numbing 14 hour days, I was done. Finished. Cooked. My mind a puddle of primordial goo. I just need to get out of town, I thought.

I sat slumped in my seat, my phone askew on my lap, exhaustion oozing from every pore. I ignored my husband’s outbursts. Instead, I stared out the window at the curb, my mind a mush pot of resume outlines, women’s ministry tea ticket sales, and tax prep. I couldn’t absorb another thing.

The energy needed to encourage my husband amidst his job angst was tapped out. To make matters worse, the late night hours I’d spent performing plastic surgery on his resume had depleted my reserves even further. By the morning of the conference, I barely had enough strength or presence of mind to dress and gather my bags.

“I can’t figure this stupid thing out.” Mike jabbed ineffectually for a moment then thrust the phone toward me, “Could you figure it out?”

I took the phone and stared at it, unable to process the simple screen. I needed to get away, but was I ready for Mount Hermon?

My goal for the conference was simple: meet with my target publisher and pitch my project. See what happened. Although editors had requested my proposal in the past, my project hadn’t made it through the final committee–despite the editor’s initial excitement over it. After seven years of incorporating suggested edits, the pressure to return home with good news hung like a yoke around my neck.

I needed a breakthrough. A prayer team had supported my writing for over eight years and my husband had funded it at great cost. And although I’d published articles with leading magazines, I didn’t always feel like a real writer. “Real writers” produced more material.  “Real writers” published books.

I could see it now:

“What project are you working on?”

“Well, uh…the same one I was ‘working on’ the first time I came 7 years ago.”

“Wow, you haven’t gotten far have you?” Translation: What a failure…

My ride pulled in and I climbed out of our car. Finally I was on my way. As we hummed along the freeway, I tuned out the happy chatter of my fellow travelers. They were going to a writers’ conference–I was going away. Destination: “Anywhere But Here.”

When we arrived at Mount Hermon I was still in zombie mode. Brain-dead and leaden limbed. A by-product of pressure overload.

My car mates had slated us for a day at the ocean to defragment before the conference began. As I sat on a bench overlooking the beach, the ocean air penetrated the pressure induced coma I’d been functioning in for the last two months. I felt the breeze on my skin. I could see the faces of those walking past me on the sidewalk. I could hear snatches of words–and they made sense. My wine even tasted good at dinner.

After a good night’s sleep, I walked briskly down the narrow cobbled path to my major morning track refreshed by the calm mountain setting. I could feel the writer in me stirring. I didn’t want to talk with anyone. I just wanted to think. To focus. To write. “Bootcamp.” Sounded about right. What my writing needed was a “do over,’” a hard reset and I was ready for it. Hungry for it.

Lynn Vincent and Bethany Macklin

A young woman pulling a small black suitcase, it’s wheels clacking on the rutted walkway drew up beside me, “Is this the way to the class?”

“Yeah, I think it’s up here past the parking lot. I’ve been coming here for several years and have never been back here.”

“I haven’t either,” the young woman walked beside me at a clip to keep up. I slowed my pace to a friendlier stride and we walked in to the first morning workshop. I was awake, engaged, and ready for a breakthrough.

That first day, I felt great. Full of hope. Of cheer. Of benevolence. Then I made the trip to pick up my submission envelope within whose fate-lined seal lay my hopes. I opened it, drew out the blue comment sheet and read the few words scrawled across the bottom, “See me at dinner to make an appointment. Are there more studies than this? What’s next after this?”

Disappointment descended like fog, dense and heavy, obscuring the optimism of the morning. I had hoped for more. I’d heard this before and thought I’d addressed it in my proposal. Obviously not. But it was a familiar question at least, and after eight years I knew how to answer it.

It took an evening of wrestling with God in prayer, rest, and renewed surrender to God’s plan before I broke through the heart fog. By the following day, I was alert, laptop open, fingers poised ready to report for “Bootcamp.”

 

NOTE From Mona Hodgson, Director of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference: Thanks for sharing your blog post with us, Bethany! And many thanks to Lynn Vincent for her stellar contribution to the 2015 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference.

For those of you who left Lynn’s classroom wanting more AND for those of you who missed out and need another opportunity, I have great news! Lynn Vincent plans to return to Mount Hermon, March 16-22, 2016, as a nonfiction mentor.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. And plan to join us in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California in 2016!

Meet the Airport Shuttle Team

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Are you flying into the San Jose airport for the 46th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference this week? If so, and you’re planning to take advantage of the shuttle Mount Hermon is providing for writers, I thought you might like to meet the Transportation Team and review a few shuttle details.

Bob Hodgson

 Bob Hodgson, Writers’ Airport Transportation Coordinator

Linda Smith

 Linda Smith, Writers’ Airport Transportation Assistant

Marci Seither

 Marci Seither, Writers’ Airport Transportation Assistant

Look for one of these familiar faces, or the Mount Hermon Shuttles sign. One or two members of the Transportation Team will be at Terminal A and B to greet you and direct you to our shuttle vans for the drive to the gorgeous Mount Hermon Conference Center.

Here’s a  handy-dandy checklist for using the Mount Hermon Airport Shuttle:

  1. Send in a completed Airport Shuttle Request Form (shuttle available for San Jose airport only). If you haven’t done so, please do that now.
  2. If your flight time has been changed prior to your travel day, please email mona.hodgson@mounthermon.org with the new information.
  3. On the day of travel, if you miss your flight or your flight is delayed, please call Transportation Coordinator, Bob Hodgson, at 928-593-9280, or the Mount Hermon Front Desk, 831-335-4466). For voicemail, leave a detailed message with a cell phone number where you can be reached.
  4. Arrivals in Terminal A: Take Inter-terminal Shuttle from Terminal A to Terminal B Baggage Claim Carousel #3, look for a person with a Mount Hermon sign.
  5. Arrivals in Terminal B: Congregate at Carousel #3 in Baggage Claim. Look for a person with a Mount Hermon sign.
  6. If you requested that we shuttle you to the airport when you leave Mount Hermon, be sure to stop by the Mount Hermon Writers’ Transportation team’s table in the Hospitality Center (Multipurpose Room, below Dining Hall). Starting Saturday, Bob Hodgson or Linda Smith will frequent the Transportation Table in the Hospitality Center (Multipurpose Room, below Dining Hall). That’s where you’ll go to confirm your departure flight and get your departure shuttle time.
  7. Please report changes in your departure plans–not taking the shuttle, after all, or flight delays–to Bob Hodgson or Linda Smith at the Transportation Table in the Hospitality Center.
  8. At Mount Hermon, Airport Shuttles depart from the Loading Zone on the main road (across from the post office, in front of the dining hall). Please check-in with Bob, Linda, or Marci at the curb 15 minutes before your shuttle van is scheduled to depart.

The Mount Hermon  Airport Shuttle experience is a great way to start connecting with other Mount Hermon writers before you ever step foot on the welcoming grounds. So enjoy!

We’ll see you soon!

10 Reasons You’ll Want to Visit the Critique Team

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Kathy Ide, Critique Team Coordinator for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, shares some of the many benefits of stopping by the Hospitality Center during the afternoons.

Kathy Ide

Blogger: Kathy Ide

The Critique Team is one valuable resource of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference that sometimes gets overlooked in the frenzy of editor appointments and workshops. Conference participants can stop in on a break or during any of the afternoon workshop times for a 15-minute one-on-one meeting with a faculty member. No appointments are made; just come by whenever is convenient for you. As many times as you wish.

This year we have almost a dozen faculty members on the Critique Team, with expertise in fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, YA, poetry, articles, short stories, indie/hybrid/e-book publishing, blogging, ABA markets, and more. No matter what type of writing you do or what stage of writing you’re in, you will benefit from a personal meeting with one of these industry professionals.

Here are ten reasons you will want to make time in your schedule to visit the critique team:

Direction on a project or idea – The Critique Team can help you decide if your nonfiction book or novel is ready to pitch to an editor. Or whether you should turn your idea into a book or start with an article. You’ll want to visit the Critique Team early n the conference so you know whether you should start making editor appointments or if you need to take a particular workshop.

Brainstorming – Have you been told your book idea would work better as a series of articles? Or that                         your memoir would be more marketable as a Christian Living book? Does your novel lack something but you              don’t know what it is? Our Critique Team members can help you brainstorm, plot, and plan.

Feedback on your work-in-progress – If you never show your work to anyone (besides family and close friends), how will you know if it’s any good? Bring a few pages of your writing to the Critique Team. We can offer honest feedback that will help you see your project’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Practicing or preparing a pitch – You have a meeting scheduled with an editor and feel completely clueless. Everyone is talking about “pitches.” What exactly is a pitch anyway? Is yours any good? Visit the Critique Team for an opportunity to practice a pitch or start one from scratch.

Industry Insights – How does this whole publishing thing work? What are your options? Do you need an agent at this point? Ask a Critique Team member for some insights.

Help Processing –If you submit a manuscript to two editors and get responses that seem to conflict, or if an editor review leaves you confused or hurt, come see us. A Critique Team member can look at those comments through the eyes of experience, point out common themes, and help you make sense of what was said. Don’t waste time on frustration or confusion, come see us!

Encouragement and prayer – Writers’ conferences are exciting and fun, but they usually include moments of       information overload and discouragement too. Come talk with a Critique Team member if you need to pray with someone about your writing goals, cry over a disappointing manuscript review, or be talked out of going home early. (You wouldn’t want to miss what God has planned for you, right?)

Processing exciting news – Sometimes good news can overwhelm us. What does an editor mean by “Send me a proposal?” Did the agent really mean it when she said she wanted to represent you? Or maybe you just want someone to celebrate with. The Critique Team would love to share your exciting news—especially if we prayed you through a difficult moment or evaluated the manuscript that just got requested!

Applying advice – You’ve received great feedback at the conference; the question is how to apply it to your work-in-progress or to future projects. Before packing to go home, visit the Critique Team and ask for tips on applying comments and suggestions or understanding how to implement something you heard in a workshop.

Planning your next step – Whether you’re brand new to writing, coming out of a season that affected your creativity, or needing to take your career to the next level, a Critique Team member can help you figure out where to go next. You might want to do this near the end of the conference as you prepare to go home and apply what you learned.

The Critique Team is located in the Hospitality Center, under the Dining Hall. Critique Team hours are Saturday through Monday, 1:15-6:00 pm, during breaks and while workshops are in session. (Instructors understand that conferees sometimes need to leave for appointments. So if you find that a workshop you’ve chosen isn’t right for you after all, feel free to leave quietly and come see the Critique Team.)

This valuable service is included in the price you paid for registration. Don’t leave the conference without taking advantage of it. At least once!

Have you been to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference before? Did you take advantage of the opportunity to meet with a Critique Team member? Why? Why not? 

 

 

Strategies for Writers’ Conference First Timers

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

The year, 1988.

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.

That writer?

Me. Mona Hodgson.

Mona-0858-Edit[1]

Twenty-seven 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 offer 15 Tips and Tidbits that I hope 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 and using our San Jose Airport Shuttle service? Did you send in your Airport Shuttle Request Form? 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 Shuttles sign.

3.  Upon arrival at Mount Hermon, 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.

MH Admin corner

 

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.

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 and afternoon workshops. 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 27th at 1:30 pm for the First Timers’ 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. It’s a normal reaction to information overload and over-stimulation. 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 to 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-to-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 were probably 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 table 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. When you can’t find the answers you need on the website, do you contact with

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

I can’t wait to meet you!

Mona

2015 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference Coordinator

 

Conference Programming for Indie Authors

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

The Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference is the place to be this month!

That’s true for Indie Authors as well as for writers planning to go the traditional route with a publishing house. It’s especially the place to be for hybrid authors wanting to do both.

The conference does host agents and editors from traditional publishing–books and magazines, but that doesn’t mean we’re neglecting writers who publish their writing independently or want to at least explore the possibility of self-publishing.

This year Mount Hermon is offering three Afternoon Workshops and a Night Owl specifically focused for writers who want to publish their short stories, novellas, and books independent of a traditional publishing house.

Saturday Night Owl: The Five Laws of Successful Self-Publishing

James Scott Bell

James Scott Bell see bio

Going Indie: How to Produce a World-Class E-book When You Don’t Know Diddly

Randy Ingermanson

Randy Ingermanson see bio

We’ve all heard that indie authoring is hot, but it can be terrifying to newbies. How do you actually produce your e-book? In this practical workshop, we’ll discuss the four main tasks an indie author needs to get done that a traditional publisher would normally do: Editing the book, designing the cover, formatting the e-book, and uploading it to online retailers. By the time we finish, you’ll know exactly how to do these tasks yourself—or how to hire them out to qualified professionals. You’ll be ready to produce your first e-book and start reaping the rewards.

 

Children’s: Indie Publish Your Children’s Book

Angela Hunt

Angela Hunt see bio

Angela Hunt has considered all the possible venues for independent publishing, and in this workshop she’ll explain the best method for publishing a children’s book through Amazon’s Create Space and Kindle programs. She’ll walk you through step-by-step, so no worries! She will also include writing guidelines so your children’s picture or chapter book is the best it can be.

 

Going Indie: Making Your Indie E-Books Massively More Discoverable

Randy Ingermanson

Randy Ingermanson see bio

We’ve all heard about the superstar indie authors who’ve sold millions of books. The conventional wisdom says that huge sales numbers only happen when your book is “discoverable,” but what is that supposed to mean? In this workshop, we’ll talk about four specific things you can do to make your e-books massively more discoverable. These techniques work—they’ve been battle-tested by numerous indie authors. I’ll show you the amazing results I experienced when I put these techniques into practice myself. I’ll explain why they work. And I’ll explain all the pesky details you need to know to boost the discoverability of your own e-books.

 

On the flip side  . . . hear from a traditional publishing insider–Alice Crider.

PUBLISHING: Book Publishing from A to B: Understanding the Book Publishing Process from Acquisitions to Book Signing

Alice Crider

Alice Crider see bio

An inside view of book publishing processes from Acquisition to Book Publication. Why traditional publishing is the best idea for most authors (in my opinion!).

 

Do you know a writer wanting to look into self-publishing their book for adults or children? We’d love it if you’d share this post with them and encourage them to join us at Mount Hermon, March 27-31!