Delaware Dangerous!

Delaware Dangerous logo art

Delaware Dangerous logo art

I’ve been corresponding with Lela Gwenn, an event organizer for a writer’s retreat that allows a writer to experience encounters with fist, blade, or gun, in a controlled and safe environment under the experienced supervision of self-defense and weapons instruction professionals.

I’ve long been a big believer in writers getting our hands dirty, if we’re going to try to write anything that actually resembles real life. If you’re going to be anywhere near Delaware in September of this year, this is your chance to safely experience a great deal of mayhem in a short amount of time.

When I asked for a description of the workshop I could share with all of you, she sent me the following copy:

Delaware Dangerous is a unique concept in Writer’s Retreats. We offer the opportunity to get hands on with all types of weapons and combat– Hand guns, Long guns, Knives and Hand to Hand.

Our team of professional instructors will provide detailed instruction. We have five black-belts on the team, two of whom are former military. Participants will get twelve hours of firearms training, six hours of knife training, and six hours of hand to hand. This isn’t just theoretical or role-playing or demonstration. After receiving appropriate safety training, you will have a gun in your hand.

The weapon work is always serious, but there is plenty of fun to be had. Brewery tours, kayaking, behind the scenes at a tattoo shop, tax free shopping at a huge outlet mall. The Delaware Beaches are beautiful and have something for everyone. Nature, nightlife, gourmet dining and down-home charm.

Delaware Dangerous. Put a little violence in your vacation and a little realism in your writing.

For more information go to www.DelawareDangerous.com or email me directly Lela@DelawareDangerous.com

I know I’ve written in the past about how very integral I think real experience can be to writing authentically. I strongly believe there’s nothing in the world like hands-on experience to help a writer achieve that kind of authenticity.

From the details section of the Delaware Dangerous Website:

Dates:
Sept 9-16 2011

Cost:
$889/ person
discount available for 2 people booking together

Includes:
Professional Instruction
12 hours gun training
6 hours knife training
6 hours hand-to-hand combat

Ammo, use of various firearms, training blades and live blades.

2 Dinners
5 Lunches
Breakfast Daily

Value of the Range Time, Instructor fees, Ammo and Meals- $1350.00

If you are interested in being paired up with a roommate Contact Us and we will try to help.

Group STRICTLY LIMITED to 20 participants for safety reasons.

Here’s the thing: I know it sounds awfully expensive, but for a workshop to do this for under a grand per student? That’s actually a screaming deal. And Lela says that she’ll offer AWers a $50 discount.

So take a look, figure out how you can swing it, take some vacation days, go to Delaware and get sweaty and loud!

Heads Up, folks!

You guys know I don’t endorse very many contests. But this is well worth looking at:
Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition
www.shortstorycompetition.com

$2000 Awaits Winners of Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition

Writers of short fiction are encouraged to enter the 2010 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. The competition has a twenty-nine-year history of literary excellence, and its organizers are dedicated to enthusiastically supporting the efforts and talent of emerging writers of short fiction whose voices have yet to be heard.

Lorian Hemingway, granddaughter of Nobel laureate Ernest Hemingway, is the author of three critically acclaimed books:
Walking into the River, Walk on Water, and A World Turned Over.
Ms. Hemingway is the competition’s final judge.

Prizes and Publication:

The first-place winner will receive $1,000. The second and third-place winners will receive $500 each. Honorable mentions will also be awarded to entrants whose work demonstrates promise.

The Saturday Evening Post To Publish First-Place Winner:

The Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition is pleased to announce that each year — beginning with our 2009 competition — The Saturday Evening Post will publish our first-place winner in its pages. And occasionally, the Post may also choose to publish our runners-up, either in its pages or on its website.

The Post will pay a fee to winners upon publication of his or her story, in addition to the $1,000 first-place prize given by the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. The Post’s payment will be in keeping with the magazine’s general rate structure for fiction at the time of publication. Entrants whose stories are published will allow The Post first serial rights, nonexclusive electronic (including online) rights, and nonexclusive anthology rights. This is a standard agreement for magazine publication.

For many years it has been our dream to be able to offer an assured publication for our first-place winner. The Saturday Evening Post, through its generosity and deep appreciation for new voices in literary fiction, has made that dream come true.

Breaking News:
THE SATURDAY EVENING POST PARTNERS WITH INTERNATIONALLY RESPECTED LORIAN HEMINGWAY SHORT STORY COMPETITION, BECOMES EXCLUSIVE PUBLISHER OF WINNING STORY

“Lazarus” by 2009 Winner Gregory Loselle is Published in Jan/Feb 2010 Issue

Lorian Hemingway Joins The Post’s Prestigious Fiction Advisory Board Along with New Members Robert Stone, Gary Svee and Ray Bradbury

Indianapolis, IN, February 4, 2010 – The Saturday Evening Post, the nation’s oldest magazine, which traces its roots to Benjamin Franklin and is famous for covers that illustrate the lives and experiences of the American people, today announced its exclusive partnership with the internationally respected Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, publishing 2009’s winning story in its Jan/Feb 2010 issue. Joan SerVaas, chief executive officer and publisher of The Saturday Evening Post, made the announcement.

The Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition (www.shortstorycompetition.com), in its 30th year, supports and encourages the efforts of emerging writers of short fiction. As part of the partnership, The Post will have the first serial rights to and annually be the exclusive magazine publisher of the competition’s winning story. “Lazarus,” by 2009 winner Gregory Loselle, can be read in the magazine’s current issue.

Throughout its history, The Saturday Evening Post has introduced and published fiction and poetry from a long list of celebrated writers, including Edgar Allan Poe, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Twain, Jack London, Agatha Christie, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The magazine’s new alliance with the competition is part of The Post’s recent restoration of fiction as an important component of its editorial mix.

“While it’s important to tap into our vast archives of fiction, it is equally important for The Post to maintain its role as the leader in finding the next great American fiction writers, and forming this partnership is a significant step toward meeting that goal,’ said SerVaas.

Lorian Hemingway, author of the critically-acclaimed books Walk On Water, A World Turned Over and Walking Into The River, said, “For many years it has been our dream to be able to offer an assured publication for our first-place winner. The Saturday Evening Post, through its deep appreciation for new voices in literary fiction, has made that dream come true.”

In addition to the alliance, Lorian Hemingway has joined The Post’s prestigious Fiction Advisory Board, along with new members Robert Stone, Gary Svee and Ray Bradbury. The board advises the magazine’s editors on fiction selections and recommends up-and-coming fiction writers.

Eligibility requirements for our 2010 competition

What to submit:

  • Stories must be original unpublished fiction, typed and double-spaced, and may not exceed 3,000 words in length. There are no theme restrictions. Copyright remains property of the author, with the exception of the first-place winner, whose work will be published in The Saturday Evening Post.

Who may submit:

  • The literary competition is open to all U.S. and international writers whose fiction has not appeared in a nationally distributed publication with a circulation of 5,000 or more. Writers who have been published online or who have self-published will be considered on an individual basis.

Submission requirements:

  • Submissions may be sent via regular mail or submitted online at: shortstorykw@gmail.com. Please visit our online submissions page for complete instructions regarding online submissions. Writers may submit multiple entries, but each must be accompanied by an entry fee and separate cover sheet. We do accept simultaneous submissions; however, the writer must notify us if a story is accepted for publication or wins an award prior to our July announcements. No entry confirmation will be given unless requested. No SASE is required.
  • The author’s name should not appear on the story. Our entrants are judged anonymously. Each story must be accompanied by a separate cover sheet with the writer’s name, complete mailing address, e-mail address, phone number, the title of the piece, and the word count. Manuscripts will not be returned. These requirements apply for online submissions as well.

Deadlines and Entry Fees:

  • The entry fee is $12 for each story postmarked by April 1, 2010. The late entry fee is $17 for each story postmarked between April 2 and May 15. We encourage you to enter by April 1 if at all possible, but please know that your story will still be accepted if you meet the later deadline. Our dual deadline must be imposed this year due to information already in print in Writer’s Market, etc. that states May 15 as our final deadline. We apologize for this inconvenience. Beginning with our 2011 competition we will have a single deadline. Entries postmarked after May 15, 2010 will not be accepted. Entries submitted online after May 15 will not be accepted. Writers may submit for the 2011 competition beginning May 16, 2010.

How to pay your entry fee:

  • Entry fees submitted by mail with their accompanying stories may be paid — in U.S. funds — via a personal check, cashier’s check, or money order. Please make checks payable to LHSSC or  The Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. Entry fees for online submissions may be paid with PayPal.

Announcement of Winners and Honorable Mentions:

Winners will be announced at the end of July 2010 in Key West, Florida, and posted on our website soon afterward. Only the first-place entrant will be notified personally. All entrants will receive a letter from Lorian Hemingway and a list of winners, either via regular mail or e-mail, by October 1, 2010.

All manuscripts and their accompanying entry fees should be sent to:

The Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition

P.O. Box 993

Key West, FL 33041

or submitted online at: shortstorykw@gmail.com

For more information, please explore this website or e-mail: shortstorykw@gmail.com

Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition Online Submissions
We are pleased to announce that we are now able to accept online submissions to our competition, in addition to continuing to accept entries by mail. We have been accustomed to doing things the old-fashioned way for so long — 2010 will mark the 30th anniversary of the competition — that accepting stories online seems like a bold step into a brave new world, and while we have a bit of stage fright we do believe that this additional option of submitting your stories will help save a few trees in the long run.
Below please find what we trust are rather simple guidelines for online submissions:

Online Submission Guidelines:

  • All submissions must meet the requirements set forth in our regular guidelines. Stories must be original, unpublished fiction. Word count: 3,000 words or less.
  • A Paypal account is required for online submissions. If you would like to sign up for Paypal, please click this link to be taken to their signup page: Paypal Signup. If you do not wish to have a Paypal account, please follow the normal submission procedures described on the Guidelines page.
  • Use the PayPal drop-down selection to pay for your submission prior to sending your story. You will be given a choice of paying for the April 1 deadline entry fee or for the April 2 – May 15 late deadline entry fee. Please make sure you choose the appropriate one.
  • In the subject line of your submission please write the Transaction ID number given to you by PayPal, along with your full name as it appears on your PayPal receipt.
  • Please print out a copy of your PayPal receipt for your records.
  • Once your transaction is completed you may submit your story to shortstorykw@gmail.com after following the very important guidelines provided below:
  • Stories must be submitted in Microsoft Word Document format, as an attachment. Please do not send your story in the body of an email.
  • Each story must be accompanied first by a cover sheet that includes the writer’s name, the title of the story, his or her complete mailing address, e-mail address, phone number, and the word count of the work submitted. The author’s name should not appear on the story. Only the title should appear on the manuscript.
  • Writers may submit multiple entries, but these must be submitted as separate Microsoft Word documents, with separate cover sheets and separate entry fees.
  • If you have questions regarding online submissions please do not hesitate to contact us at: shortstorykw@gmail.com

Many thanks and the very best of luck to all who enter!

Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition Submissions
Through April 1st, 2010 $12.00

April 2 through May 15, 2010 $17.00

Win a Signed Copy of Peter Straub’s New Book!

A Dark Matter, by Peter StraubDetails on the official Peter Straub Facebook page:

Win a signed copy of A DARK MATTER! Straub’s Madison, Wisconsin is a scary place, but every town has its secrets, right? Describe the scariest thing about your town here. The best entry as judged by the administrators will win a signed copy of A DARK MATTER. Contest ends midnight EST, 2/9/10.

Don’t post your descriptions here! Post ’em over there!

But if you’re wanting to comment here, tell us what you’re reading, what you like, and what you’re dyin’ to read next. I’d love to hear from you!

I’ve just finished reading an ARC of Connie Willis’ new book, Blackout. I’ll be posting a review tomorrow.

Backspace Writers Conference

Pen nibJust a reminder to those of you thinking about attending Backspace Writers Conference in May, you’ll get an early registration discount if you register before February 1.

(In the interests of full disclosure, Backspace does advertise with AbsoluteWrite on occasion, but this is not a paid post, and I’ve personally heard really excellent things about this conference.)

This is a terrific opportunity for agents and writers to find each other. From the Backspace FAQ:

Both the Agent-Author Seminar and the 2010 Backspace Writers Conference offer access to agents so that authors can talk about their project, get a feel for the agents’ personalities and interests, and learn from the agents’ cumulative knowledge and experience. We offer workshops, not pitch sessions, which means that while an author can get their work in front of agents, if the agents feel it’s not yet ready (or if your opus is not quite finished), authors haven’t burned any bridges. The agents know that based on what authors learn at the conference, they might want to take another pass through their manuscript before they submit it. So while ideally, authors will be coming to the seminar with a finished manuscript in hand, they can still connect with agents and learn from their feedback, even if their work is not quite finished.

Writers generally have to do a lot of self-educating about both writing craft and the publishing industry. Conferences like Backspace Writers Conference can offer an excellent set of resources for a writer’s continuing education and professional network.

Get the Most From a Conference

By Patricia S. Baker

Each year, thousands of aspiring writers flock to writers’ conferences bearing< suitcases, manuscripts, and high hopes for enhancing their writing careers. One of them might be you! Given that a considerable emotional and financial investment has been put into this endeavor, how can you optimize your chances for a successful experience? Here are ten tips.

Find the Right Fit

Carefully research and consider which of the many available conferences is a fit for your particular writing genre. Network with writers from your writers’ group who have attended conferences, or visit http://writing.shawguides.com/ for a list of conferences nationwide. Try to choose a conference that schedules critique appointments with editors or agents who are interested in the type of writing you do.

Register Early

Some conferences schedule appointments based on registration number. Attendees who register early are likely to get their first choice of editors, agents, or authors to meet with. The past two years I have been the first registrant simply by visiting a conference website early and printing off the registration form, rather than waiting for it to arrive in the mail.

Visit the Conference Website

Not only is browsing the conference website helpful in getting a jump on the registration process, but you can glean valuable information to prepare for the conference. Many times the site will have links to market needs or overworked topics. These can influence your decision as to what you’ll present during your appointments. It is also helpful if the site has pictures of faculty members, in case you want to familiarize yourself with them before attending.

Polish your Manuscripts

Polish your best work to take to the conference. Whether you are writing articles, stories, poetry, or book proposals, use the weeks before the conference to make your work shine. Have your writers’ group critique your work, or meet with another writer for feedback. Be sure it is typed neatly, free from spelling errors, and double-spaced; pack it carefully in a folder or manuscript box for travel.

Also prepare orally. Memorize a hook of no more than three sentences that describes what makes your work unique, and be prepared to share it with editors or agents you meet at the conference.

Design and Print Business Cards

Business cards can add a professional touch to your presentation during appointments and be a networking tool during the conference. Be sure to include your email address and website. These cards are also handy for staying in touch with new friends and acquaintances after the conference.

Confirm Reservations

You will have enough excitement during the trip without having to deal with last minute surprises in lodging and transportation. Try to make your reservations as early as possible, too; sometimes airport shuttles fill up even before the flights do. And when you make reservations for lodging, see if you can get ground floor accommodations if there are no elevators. Wheels on your suitcase aren’t much help on three flights of stairs.

Pack for Contingencies

I’ll never forget last year’s May conference in Colorado, which greeted our sandaled feet with six inches of snow. We huddled in our thin windbreakers against a three-day blizzard — beautiful to behold but not convenient, considering our wardrobes. The Boy Scout motto says it best: “Be prepared.”

Also be sure to pack your business cards, notebook, comfortable shoes, and a sweater for notoriously cold conference rooms. A camera is a good option, too.

Travel light

Don’t take more than you need, but do pack an extra suitcase or tote for all the free samples and purchases from the bookstore. Who knows, you may even win a contest or door prize. Don’t pack multiple copies of manuscripts or book proposals. If you are fortunate enough to have editors request your work, they will most likely want you to mail it to them after you return home. (They don’t want to lug heavy manuscripts at the conference any more than you do.)

Plan to Arrive Early

Arriving early can take some of the pressure off during the registration process, and give you time to unpack and get oriented. Many conferences have their appointment sign-ups at registration, and the spots can fill up quickly. Arriving early may also give you the advantage of attending any early-bird sessions. If nothing else, it will afford you a brief period of rest that can energize you for the nonstop schedule of the next few days.

Relax

Despite your best intentions, things may not go as planned. You may not get the appointments you’d hoped for, or be able to attend a certain workshop. But don’t rule out the serendipitous surprises that might await you. That editor you didn’t get a chance to make an appointment with may be the one to stand behind you in the lunch line, or sit at your table at dinner, giving you more time with him or her. Whatever the outcome of your conference visit, you’re sure to make valuable contacts and grow as a writer — and who knows, you might just have a lot of fun while you’re at it!

*First published in Christian Communicator. February 2006, Vol. 18, Number 2: pp. 17-18. Reprinted with permission.

A former teacher, Pat Baker writes articles, devotionals, and poetry from her home in Frisco, Texas. She has written for several publications, including Writer’s Journal, The Lutheran Digest, Spirit Led WomanThe Quiet HourBreakthrough Intercessor, The Secret Place, Christian Communicator, and The Lutheran Journal. When she’s not writing, she enjoys coaching figure skating and spending time with her husband Gary and their two children. Patricia S. Baker has a Website.

Attending a Conference for Writers: Anxiety and Ecstasy

By Krysten Lindsay Hager

The night before attending a conference for writers there’s always that excitement about going and meeting the perfect agent or editor for your work. Maybe it’ll be a magical moment where time will slow down and you’ll end up running in slow-motion toward each other,“Chariots of Fire” playing in the background as you leap, holding your manuscript in one hand, the other outstretched to literary glory. Or maybe you’ll just go, find out your genre isn’t selling and come home feeling defeated and a little poorer since you spent fifty bucks buying the speaker’s books. In reality, very few people find their editors at conferences.

In fact, in 2005 I attended a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference where I heard the most surprising news. An editor from a very well-known publishing house said that she had been shocked to find an author at one of these conferences that she actually went on to publish. The editor said it almost never happens and that she might see potential in a few writers that she had done critiques with, but she had never heard of anyone getting published from having a writing conference critique. This was news to me and the rest of us who had plunked down the extra thirty-five dollars for a critique and clung to dear life to the few positive comments that were thrown our way. This editor had been in the business for years and for her to say it was almost unheard of to find talent through attending a conference was shocking to me. However, it was also a relief.

I decided after hearing that comment that I would no longer get so worked up about missing out on my “big chance” with an editor or agent. Instead of handing out business cards and trying to corner agents and editors in every place but the bathroom (I have my standards) and missing out on the speakers’ advice because I was too busy “stalking my prey,” I was going to take advantage of the conferences in a different way.

First, no matter how interesting your work is, chances are an editor or agent isn’t going to remember what you looked like or if you told them a witty story. Instead of making editors and agents attending a conference uncomfortable by cornering them and asking if they’re interested in your new novel, take note of what the agent or editor is interested in. Find out what they’ve represented or published before and what they’re looking for now. They usually share these things in their presentations, but if they don’t you can always raise your hand to ask and, if you’re not the type to raise your hand in public, many conferences have a box for questions that is presented at the end of the conference for the speakers to address. That way you, once you’re at home, you can mention in your query letter that you enjoyed his presentation at whichever conference you attended and then ask if he’d be interested in seeing your work. The agent or editor isn’t going to remember you anyway, so you might as well do your homework and save yourself the embarrassment of coming on too strong with your proposal.

Many times it’s not the big names at the conference that will get you anywhere. One author I know spent all her time at a writing conference trying to find publishers and representation for her middle-grade novels. She ended up getting discovered through a query letter to an editor she had seen named in a writer’s guide and said the only decent contact she had made at that conference was me because once she got her books published, I wrote reviews on them in several places (both in print and online) and later wrote an article about a group book-signing she was participating in that gave her more attention as well as articles to put in her portfolio. You never know when the person you sit next to at the conference might help you more than the famous connection you’re trying to make by attending a conference.

Also, many times editors and agents come to conferences with an invisible shield up. They’re wary of taking writing and art samples at the conferences for many reasons. Your work could get lost, nobody wants to carry extra heavy manuscripts back home on a plane, and there are also the legal issues. They prefer to get work that’s been submitted in the mail. Plus, nobody likes to be put on the spot. Sure its easier for them to reject you via mail where they don’t have to face you, but may editors and agents are so put off by people trying to slip them manuscripts at conferences that they’ll give you a flat “no” if you ask about giving them work. So save your dignity and put your questions in writing.

Focusing on meeting fellow writers can also benefit you in finding out about publishers that are eager to sign on new authors. You might meet someone who gets published down the road and can later direct you to the right person to submit to at that publishing house. You can also meet people who write book reviews who, when you do get published, can later help you out by writing a great review and “bumping” a less-than-great review that’s been posted on Amazon.com. You might meet people attending a conference who are aware of great new places to submit to or critique groups or other writing conferences that might help you. I found out about a writing publication through a writing group member that later published one of my articles. I never would have found it on my own, but that publication has proven to be a great way to get my foot in the door. Finding out where other conference attendees have been published is a great way to get new leads for your work as well.

Plan to Enjoy Attending a Conference

Instead of staying up late worrying that you’ll miss your big shot to talk to the editor or agent that you “just know” would be perfect for your manuscript, relax and plan to enjoy attending a conference. You’ll end up gathering more information from the speakers and you’ll be just as far ahead (if not farther) than the people who tracked down that editor in the lunch line. In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether or not you make a personal connection at the conference because these professionals meet so many people at these things that they wouldn’t remember you anyway. So enjoy the conference, take notes on the market, and find out what each agent and editor is interested in. Then mention in your query letter that you saw them at the conference. In the long run, this will pay off more.

Cover of Krysten Lindsay Hager's book Can Dreams Come True? (The Cecily Taylor Series Book 1)Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Dating the It Guy, and Can Dreams Come True. Krysten Lindsay Hager has a website.

The 2006 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference

By Kathy Ide

The Mount Hermon Christian writers’ conference is always an amazing experience —  professionally, personally, and spiritually. This was my fifth year there, and my first year on staff with the manuscript critique team. What an awesome conference this is! And what a privilege it was to be part of the faculty for an event that has been so special to me for so many years.

To begin with, Mount Hermon always attracts an amazing faculty. This year was no exception. In attendance were multi-published authors like Karen Ball, James Scott Bell, Brandilyn Collins, Cecil Murphey, Kay Marshall Strom, and renowned children’s book writer Christine Tangvald.

Acquisitions editors were there from all the major Christian book publishing houses: Baker, Barbour, Beacon Hill, Bethany, Harvest House, Howard, Legacy, Meredith Books, Moody, Multnomah, NavPress, Tyndale, Warner-Faith, WaterBrook, Wesleyan Publishing House, and WinePress (a subsidy publisher).

And agents attended too, including Janet Benrey from Hartline, Janet Kobobel Grant and Wendy Lawton from Books n’ Such, Steve Laube, and Bucky Rosenbaum.

Magazine editors, like Grace Fox from Power for Living, Hal Hostetler from Guideposts, Ginger Kolbaba from Marriage Partnership, Doug Newton from Light & Life, Tonya Stoneman from In Touch, and Connie Willems from Discipleship Journal were present as well.

Bonnie Jensen from DaySpring Cards was also there. DaySpring does not take freelance submissions for their line of greeting cards; however, Bonnie accepted submissions from attendees who spoke with her at the conference.

This year’s keynote speaker was Phil Callaway. This hysterically funny man regaled attendees with uproarious tales, most gleaned from his own childhood or his parenting experiences. Then without warning, he’d throw in a zinger of a life truth. Like “Find out who’s going to cry at your funeral, and hang out with them.” And “Someday your books will go out of print. But your children will still be in circulation.”

The friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere at Mount Hermon makes faculty members approachable. At each lunch and dinner of the four-day conference, every faculty member has an assigned table for eight. Attendees can sit at their table of choice on a first-come, first-served basis. That means numerous opportunities to give a sixty-second pitch of your writing project directly to agents and editors. If any of them are interested, you can ask if they’d like to see a proposal. If they say yes, you can mail in your proposal after the conference, with “Requested Material — Mount Hermon” on the envelope. That gives your manuscript special treatment when it arrives at the publisher’s or agent’s desk — on top of all the envelopes that go into the “slush pile.”

Major Morning Sessions included continuing workshops on fiction and nonfiction writing, article writing, writing for children and teens, speaking, and media marketing. There was also a Career Track for published authors. In addition, 70 elective workshops were offered. A wealth of information and instruction for aspiring writers and established authors, all presented in a lively, fun, and easy-to-understand way.

And if that’s not enough, attendees can send in advance submissions — up to 20 pages of two book manuscripts or articles (or two children’s books or five poems or devotionals), either for critique by a professional author or for an editorial review. At the conference, attendees pick up their manuscripts, read the comments, and meet one on one with the faculty member who did the critique/review. In addition, attendees can visit the Critique Station at any time during the conference to discuss their projects with professional authors and freelance editors.

Dave Talbott, director of the Mount Hermon conference center, is unsurpassed at organizing the event, opening all the sessions with a wonderful blend of humor and inspiration, giving away lots of free books, and leading attendees in worship sessions with his own heart-stirring musical renditions.

All this in the most incredible setting imaginable: Mount Hermon is nestled in the Redwood Forest near Santa Cruz, California. When you’re not taking in a workshop or hobnobbing with authors or singing hymns and praise songs in the auditorium, you can find emotional and spiritual refreshment strolling along the many quiet tree-lined paths alongside gently flowing streams. (All the workshops and general sessions are made available on CD after the conference, so you can skip one or two classes and still get the instruction later.)

Housing options range from rustic cabins to dorms to hotel rooms. Depending on your accommodation of choice, the conference cost ranges from about $600 to about $1,000, including tuition, 13 meals, all workshops and sessions, two manuscript critiques, and a thick three-ring notebook packed with workshop notes and other useful information. If that’s a bit steep for your budget, partial scholarships are available.

An abundance of professional training. A proliferation of opportunities to meet industry professionals face to face. Networking opportunities galore. A bookstore with just about every writing resource you could ask for, along with plenty of fiction and nonfiction books written by staff members and attendees. An autograph party, where you can get your books signed by the authors. Inspiration, encouragement, instruction, and a whole lot of good, clean fun. That’s the Mount Hermon experience.

Many successful authors will tell you that they would not be published today if not for the Mount Hermon Christian writers’ conference. This is where they learned how to write. Where they met their agents and publishers. Where they discovered things about the inner workings of the publishing industry that helped them get beyond the slush pile and the standard form rejection letters and achieve their goal of a flourishing writing career.

Mount Hermon’s writers’ conference is held on Palm Sunday weekend every year (one week before Easter), from midday Friday through midday Tuesday. For details, check out the Mount Hermon Conference website. If you’re serious about getting published in the Christian industry (or if you just need to get away for a few days of refreshment and encouragement), there’s no better place on earth than this.

The only thing that’s more exciting than attending this conference is having the honor and privilege of serving on the staff for it. I had a terrific time, worked with a lot of wonderful people, exchanged warm hugs with all my friends from previous conferences, and got to meet some extremely talented new writers. Maybe I’ll meet you there next year!

Kathy Ide is a published author, professional freelance editor, and writers’ conference speaker. She is the author of Polishing the PUGS: Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling. Check out Kathy Ide’s website.

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