I’m a huge fan of writer’s conferences, especially for new writers. In 1994 I attended my first Mt. Hermon Conference. I was 22-years-old and pregnant with my 3rd (yes, 3rd) child. If you would have known me then I was far from what you think of when you think “Christian writer.”
1) Everything I know about writing I learned from conference workshops. My first article was accepted through MH. Then, after taking a track on article writing I sold 30 articles in one year. I learned about novel writing there too, and devotional writing, children’s writing, non-fiction. And yes, I’ve been published in them all.
2) I built wonderful friendships through conferences. My 2nd Mt. Hermon I connected with 17 other writers and started a private online prayer and support group. We’re still praying and supporting 13 years later. Every conference I attend I meet and make new friends.
3) I connected with editors and agents. I remember Karen Ball and Lisa Bergren sitting down with me and giving me specifics about my first fiction manuscript. It was like one-on-one mentoring. I met with Steve Laube (then with Bethany House) year after year. He gave me specifics too. I also remember the year he read my fiction manuscript and told me, “This is the one …” It was.
I also met with magazine editors and connected with them. One meeting I had with Jon Walker (then with HomeLife) led to an amazing relationship with that magazine and DOZENS of articles being publishing with them and other LifeWay publications.
4) My connection to my agent, Janet Grant, came through Mt. Hermon, too. I was one of her first clients, and I’m SO thankful to still be with her.
5) Over the years, as I’ve been publish more, I’ve also enjoyed meeting others at writer’s conferences and giving back. Though I wasn’t official on staff, I’ve met and mentored dozens of new writers, and I’m trilled to see them succeed.
6) Finally, I drew closer to God at Mt. Hermon. I remember early, morning prayer and worshipping in the auditorium. I remember praying under the blooming trees and praying with friends, editors, people I’ve never met before—you name it. I remember the many, encouraging message I learn that reminded me: “It’s about God, not you, honey.” Those messages have kept me grounded.
This year, I’ll be teaching at my first national conference. I’ll be teaching a historical fiction track at ACFW. I’m thrilled because I feel this is my chance to share what was freely given to me: time, knowledge, understand, and . . . hope. Hope that God can use us to share His goodness through the written word.