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.)