Today we’re joining Karen Barnett for an insider’s view of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.
After the evening session, I hurried to my room and grabbed my laptop, making a beeline for the lounge—I wanted to check my e-mail before turning in for the night. I sank down into a soft chair by a crackling fire. Within moments, the room began to fill. Before I knew what was happening, authors Mary DeMuth and Randy Ingermanson sat on either side of me, talking about their journeys to publication and offering me hope and encouragement. Other published writers joined the circle, aspiring writers ambled in, an agent sat down, an editor pulled up a chair. My laptop lapsed into screensaver mode, long forgotten. Jokes flew, stories were shared, and laughter ruled the evening.
Why is the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference special? Where else can you kick up your feet and feel at home while surrounded by the best in the business?
Here are the top ten things I love about Mount Hermon.
1. Beautiful Location—The Conference Center is situated in the California redwoods, not far from Santa Cruz. When you step out of a stressful appointment or an intense workshop, you walk out into beauty that refreshes the spirit. God uses those moments to remind me He is in control.
2. Casual atmosphere—Casual dress rules the day. You can leave your high heels and business suits at home. Most registrants wear jeans and slacks, layered t-shirts and sweaters. I like to pack scarves and fun jewelry pieces to dress up the casual look.
3. Unparalleled access to editors/agents—Lunch and dinner tables are hosted by faculty members, including agents, publishers, magazine editors, and published authors. It’s like a back door into the publisher’s office. The host keeps the conversation flowing around the table, speaking to each person and asking about their writing. If they’re interested in your project, they might request an appointment or ask to see your proposal. Good-bye slush pile!
4. Speaking of meals—Mount Hermon’s are the BEST. Ask anyone.
5. Pre-conference submissions—You are encouraged to send two copies of your proposal ahead to the conference, either to published writers for critique or to editors/agents for review. There are also opportunities during the conference to have your work critiqued on the spot by a member of the critique team. This is all included in the cost of registration.
6. Major morning tracks—Morning tracks are classes that you follow for the entire conference to receive in-depth instruction on the subject of your choice. The tracks vary, but they generally include classes for fiction, non-fiction, public speaking, magazine writing, and social media. Specialized tracks are offered for teens interested in writing, for beginners (Head-Start, actually held before the conference), and for published writers (career track—by application). Personally, I love the intermediate mentoring tracks. You pay a few dollars extra, but the class size is limited and you get personalized teaching based on your needs.
7. Afternoon workshops—With forty workshops to attend, how do you choose? (I decided not to stress out about it and bought the CD recordings for the ones I missed).
8. Trend-spotting—One of my favorite parts of the conference are the panel discussions. This is a fantastic time to find out what is selling, where publishing is heading in the future and which of these individuals you would most like to work with.
9. Casual conversations—From the moment you board the airport shuttle to the moment you leave, God arranges divine appointments. An editor might not hand you the rich-and-famous contract, but you might meet a favorite author and become friends. You might have a casual discussion at a table that leads to a magazine article (true story). You might catch someone’s airplane during an ice-breaker or get lost with someone on the hike to the cross… and make a friend for the long writer’s journey ahead. And like I said earlier, some of the best conversations happen after hours.
10. Confirmation of the Call—The first time I went to Mount Hermon, I hesitated calling myself a writer. Attending this conference taught me is that YES, I AM a writer—without question. God has a call on my life. Each year I go back, I feel it anew. The conference at Mount Hermon gives me the energy I need to make it through another year.
The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference is held every year over Palm Sunday weekend, so add it to your calendar for next year: March 22-26, 2013.
Karen Barnett writes historical romance for the Christian market and has been published in Guideposts, Ladybug and Babybug magazines. She lives in Albany, Oregon with her husband, two kids and a houseful of pets including a dachshund who loves to chew up her daughter’s dance slippers. When she is not writing, Karen enjoys hiking, photography, leading worship with her church’s children’s ministry and decorating outlandish birthday cakes for her kids. She blogs at “Cannot Be Shaken” found at http://www.cannotbeshaken.
Don’t miss next week. It’s our final installment with Jodie Bailey sharing about Blue Ridge