Thursday, February 04, 2010

What About Writer's Conferences?


Along with all my other activities, I'm preparing to teach at the Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference in March. I've been to the Mount Hermon conference several times, but this is my first time as a faculty member. I'm looking forward to the experience. Such conferences are a great way to do two things I consider very important for a writer: learn the craft and meet others in the field.

My own road to writing began at one of these conferences when Alton Gansky and James Scott Bell inspired me to try my hand at writing fiction, in addition to the non-fiction book I was planning. And I treasure the contacts I've made with authors, editors, and agents over the years at writer's conferences. I met Rachelle Gardner at Mount Hermon. At that time she was an editor, but later she became my agent. Some of the authors I've come to know through being with them at conferences have become mentors and good friends. Writing is a small world sometimes, and the people that inhabit it are a wonderful part of it.

Of course, Mount Hermon isn't the only writing conference around. There are many others, each offering a unique perspective on learning the craft along with the opportunity to network with authors, agents, and editors. Alton Gansky directs the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, located in a beautiful area near Asheville, NC. I've never been to that one, but it's definitely on my list. A Google search for "Christian writers conference" (or just "writers conference" if you prefer) will provide a list of many more opportunities.

One more conference I have to mention is the annual meeting of the American Christian Fiction Writers. I've attended a number of ACFW meetings, and I believe they're getting better each year. Each year they put together an all-star line-up of presenters. It was a special privilege for me to teach at last year's conference. If writing fiction is your thing, this is definitely a conference to consider.

Attending a writer's conference is expensive, and in today's tough economic times it may not be an option for you. But if you can make it, I think you'll find it a great experience. At Mount Hermon I'll be teaching two courses: Medical Details In Your Fiction: Get Them In But Get Them Right and Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started. This latter course is aimed at the person attending their first conference, and consists of lessons I or others have learned--as is the case with most things--the hard way. For instance, when is it okay (and more importantly, not okay) to pitch your novel to an agent or editor? How do you go about pitching? What about follow-up?

If any of you will be attending Mount Hermon, I hope you'll introduce yourselves. I'll be easy to spot. Just look for someone who looks like Cary Grant. (I'll probably be standing right behind him.)

4 comments:

Amy Sorrells said...

Were you at Mt Hermon last year? I was--it was a miracle trip. Literally. It's killing me not to go this year, and even moreso knowing you'll be teaching there. And yes, I've made some of the most AMAZING friends in my life as a result of Mt. Hermon. I'm trying to see if I can't get to the Blue Ridge Mts this year. And all you say in this post is true and more: in large part due to what I learned and who I met at Mt. Hermon, I just received "the call" from your agent last week. My jaw is still stuck to the floor. Do you have a remedy for that, Dr.? Blessings and writing mercies to you!

D'Ann Mateer said...

I wish I were going this year! I have a feeling this is going to be a "conference free" year for me unless the Lord does something drastic. I hate that! I've gone to either MH or ACFW every year since 2004! And of course I met you at MH!

Keli Gwyn said...

The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference is awesome. I was privileged to attend in 2008 and 2009. I won't be there this year though. I hope to attend ACFW, so perhaps we'll meet in person at that conference.

It must be awesome to be attending MH as a staff member. I hope your workshops go well.

D'Ann Mateer said...

I wish I were going this year! I have a feeling this is going to be a "conference free" year for me unless the Lord does something drastic. I hate that! I've gone to either MH or ACFW every year since 2004! And of course I met you at MH!