MSCWC: Registration, Location, and More!


The Fifth Annual Mid-South Christian Writers Conference will be here before you know it!

Though March may seem like a long time from now, the days are going to fly by faster than we can sing “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

After all, next week is Thanksgiving, and there are only 39 shopping days left till Christmas.

So do yourself a favor, and cross “register for the MSCWC” off your to-do list today.

You’ll save $10 when you register before the Early Bird Deadline of Saturday, February 24, 2018.

For more information and to register, visit our Registration Page.


Registered attendees may reserve either a half-table ($10) or a whole table ($15) to sell their books or author services.


The MSCWC is held in the beautiful facilities of Collierville First Baptist Church, 830 New Byhalia Road, Collierville, TN 38017.


A limited number of rooms have been blocked off for a special conference rate of $99/night (plus tax) at the  Courtyard by Marriott – Collierville. Mention the Mid-South Writers Conference (Code MCWC).

Courtyard by MarriottThe special rate expires on March 1, 2018 or when all the blocked rooms have been booked. Regular rates are $195-229/night.

The Courtyard by Marriott is located at the Carriage Crossing Mall, 4640 Merchants Park Circle, Collierville, TN 38017.

Phone: 901-850-9390.

Additional hotels and their rates are listed on our Location Page.

Note: This is prime soccer tournament time in Memphis. Most hotels will fill quickly, so please make your reservations early.


For additional details, visit the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference website.

And visit this blog every Thursday for updates, faculty posts, and news.


Trust MSCWC With Your Writing Dreams

A Guest Post by

April Carpenter, Conference Director

On behalf of the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference (MSCWC) committee, I get the honor of welcoming you to our blog for the 2018 conference.

Our team is already hard at work dotting our “i’s” and crossing our “t’s” just for you.  We strive every year to carefully review the evaluations and we take your suggestions to heart.

If you are an alumnus to the conference, I know you will be pleased at the new things we have planned for you.

If you are new, I give you an extra WELCOME!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,

in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Regardless of where you are in your writing journey, we encourage you to put your TRUST in God.

If you’re feeling a tug at your heart to attend a writer’s conference, TRUST. God may be urging you to take this important step.

A conference like ours isn’t as overwhelming as larger, multi-day conferences. We’re a great place to make friends with other writers who share your dreams and–dare we say it?–also your fears. (Writers tend to be an insecure bunch!)

This is our fifth annual conference, and each year the number of participants have grown. Come see for yourself how God is blessing MSCWC!

TRUST that the Lord is calling you to be with us on March 16 & 17, 2018, and thank Him in advance for the blessings to come.

We are praying for you!

One more quick note: Be sure and check back every Thursday for updates regarding the conference. We have exciting news to share each week!

2017 MSCWC Wrap-Up

A Guest Post by

April Carpenter, Conference Director

While deciding what I should say in this blog post, I thought about James Watkins’ first keynote presentation, “Ten Creative Commandments.”

His third commandment is:

“Thou shalt hang around creative and funny people.”

There are two excellent ways to do this.

  1. Join a local writers group. The conference packet included information on Memphis writing groups for our local attendees. If you’re not from the Mid-South area, please check out the 2017 Christian Writers Market Guide’s list of writers groups for your state.
  2. Join our new Facebook page. Whether you attended this year, a previous year, or plan to attend in the future, we invite you to “like” our conference Facebook page once it’s created. Be sure you’re following this blog so you’ll know when the page goes live.

During the last keynote address,  “I Have a Dream,” Jim encouraged us to make our dreams specific and realistic.

So… how is your writing going since the conference?

I pray you have thought about and written down your specific, realistic dreams and that you are pursuing them every day.

I pray that this year’s theme, “Changing the World with Words,” inspires you to create stories, articles, devotions, poems, Bible studies–whatever God has called you to write–that will change lives in a powerful way.

On behalf of the committee, we thank you for taking time from your busy schedules to join us. This year’s conference included 96 participants, nine presenters, and one keynote speaker.

Thank you, too, for your kind words in the evaluations and for the thank you cards you wrote the day of the conference.

We read each evaluation and truly take what you suggest to heart.

It’s not too late to give us your opinion. Please feel free to send your comments to:

We are so glad you joined us this year, and hope to see you again in 2018.

Last Minute Conference Prep

hlayer_alexander-u3470A Guest Post by Johnnie Alexander

The Mid-South Christian Writers Conference . . . drum roll, please . . . is this weekend!

On Friday evening, from 6:30 to 8:00, all participants are invited to our Meet and Greet. Let the networking, the friendships, and the chowing down on delicious treats begin!

Saturday’s first session begins at 9 a.m., but you’ll want to arrive early to browse through our bookstore.

Come prepared for a full day of inspiring and humorous keynotes by acclaimed speaker James Watkins, informative workshops, and encouraging appointments with the faculty.

Registration is still open, so it’s not too late to participate. Click on the button then pack your bags.

We can’t wait to see you there!


Meet Johnnie

Johnnie Alexander writes stories of heritage and hope while raccoons and foxes occasionally pass by her window. Where Treasure Hides, her CBA-bestselling debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011). Her first contemporary novel, Where She Belongs, was a Library Journal Pick of the Month. She treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives near Memphis with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, the princely Papillon who trees those pesky raccoons whenever he gets the chance.

Johnnie’s Workshop (taught with Patricia Bradley)

Telling the Story: I Wrote It My Way

You may be a plotter, outlining every scene before you begin, or you may be an organic writer, writing by the seat of your pants, or you may be somewhere in between. Two experienced novelists share tips and ideas for writing fiction the right way—that is, the way that works best for you and for your story.


Laughing Matters

hlayer_watkins-u3572A Guest Post by James Watkins

According to Elton Trueblood, in his wonderful book called The Humor of Christ, Jesus was a stand-up comedian.

Yep, “hyperbole,” or intentional exaggeration, was the hip humor in first century Palestine.

So, Jesus would have had them rolling on the hillsides with his comments about looking for a “speck of sawdust in a brother’s eye” while having a “plank” in our own. And I can just imagine the multitudes roaring when he told the Pharisees they would “straing out a gnat but swallow a camel.” Or how ’bout camels squeezing through the “eye of a needle?”

Unfortunately, a literal translation of Christ’s words doesn’t always capture the cultural comedy that’s really there. For instance, “hiding a lamp under your bed” isn’t funny until you understand that a “bed” was a flat, dried-grass mat and a “lamp” was an open flame. Grab the fire extinguisher!

Humor is a powerful communications tool

First, humor breaks down barriers between people. If you can share a laugh with someone, you’ve connected with that person. The defenses come down, and there’s a desire to continue the dialog.

Secondly, humor is “laughing gas.” You’re not going to stay in the dentist’s chair and allow him or her to drill away on a root canal unless you’re hopped up with plenty of anesthetic. So humor is the laughing gas that allows us to drill away at the abscessed areas of another person’s life.

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer claimed laughter is–and I quote–the “sudden perception of incongruity” between our ideals and our behavior.

And third, you can get away with so much more using humor than you can with preaching. That’s why G. K. Chesterton wrote, “I am all in favor of laughing. Laughing has something in common with the ancient words of faith and inspiration; it unfreezes pride and unwinds secrecy; it makes men forget themselves in the presence of something greater than themselves.”

I heard someone at a youth worker’s convention–way back during the Polyester Era–say, “It’s a sin to make the gospel boring.” I’ve always instinctively known that humor was a powerful method to share the gospel. The speakers I remember most–and who had the greatest impact on my life–were stand-up theologians.

Humor is a proven communications tool

It wasn’t until I was taking a grad class on communications at a secular university that I discovered that this is not only good theology. It’s terrific psychology as well. One study showed how humor could increase retention of information in a statistics class. Now there’s a real sleeper of a course. Students in the class, where the prof used humor, scored significantly higher than students in the class where the prof simply presented the same information, but with no humor.

So, if I’m going to be “effective,” I’m going to use all the tools available and humor is a heavy duty, high-voltage power tool. It’s proven that humor increases attention, retention and comprehension.

squeezing-good-out-of-badHumor is a serious–and sacred–communications tool

I’m reminded of a great quote from author Conrad Hyers. “Humor is not the opposite of seriousness. Humor is the opposite of despair.” If anyone has reason to laugh, it’s a person who’s trusting that God does indeed work all out for our good. Romans 8:28 is the ultimate “good news/bad news” joke. God takes our tragedies and adds a punch line.

Squeezing Good Out of Bad addresses the power of that attitude and is written as a top ten list of strategies to cope with life’s lemons.

You can also read about the principles, practices and pratfalls in my college text book, Writing with Banana Peels, which I wrote for my course at Taylor University. It includes 20 ways to use humor in writing to indeed increase attention, comprehension and retention.

But the best way to develop your gift of laughter is this:

  • Don’t take your situation too seriously,
  • Don’t take your senses too seriously, and
  • Don’t take your self too seriously.

Laughing matters, so leave ‘em laughing . . . and learning!

Meet Jim

Known for his love of Scripture, fun sense of humor, and gracious encouragement to other writers, Jim Watkins is a popular speaker at writers conferences across the country and around the world.

We could tell you more about Jim. But we think you’d rather hear from him.

So here’s Jim’s intro in his own words:

Whatever anyone dares to boast about, I dare to boast about it, too. Are they writers? So am I with 20 books and over 2,000 articles.Are they speakers? So am I. I’ve spoken throughout the United States as well as countries in Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe—in churches, conferences and colleges such as Liberty and Regent Universities. Are they teachers? So am I having taught writing for 15 years at Taylor University.

But if I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my C in Freshman Composition, hundreds of rejection slips, poor sales figures, clinical depression, mild autism, broken relationships, cancer, four surgeries in three hospitals in two months, and . . . well that’s probably enough. But here’s the point: when I am weak, then I am strong.

So, that’s all you really need to know. I’m simply Jim, a writer saved by grace.

Jim’s Workshop

squeezing-good-out-of-badWriting with Banana Peels

Based on his college text book, this seminar provides practical strategies for communicating more effectively with humor. If nothing else, you’ll laugh a lot!

Writing the Opening Sentence in a Story


A Guest Post by Sandra Robbins

When I was in college and taking a course in writing fiction, my teacher told me something that I’ve never forgotten. He spoke at length about how important the first sentence in a story is. When I began writing, I reminded myself of this as each story took root as an idea in my head. In trying to improve my ability to hook a reader right away, I began to look at what other authors had done in the past. How did their opening sentences give a hint to the story that would unfold in the book? I became fascinated by what I found.

 Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again.

This opening line from Daphne du Maurier’s story Rebecca sets the stage for a book that has been called the best suspense story of the twentieth century. It tells the story of a young wife who realizes that her husband’s first wife casts a shadow of lingering evil that threatens her marriage from beyond the grave.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, 

must be in want of a wife.

 So opens the love story of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. What follows is a delightful tale of the folly of judging a person from first impressions.

It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least not at first glance.

This sentence paves the way for the story of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser in eight Outlander novels (so far) and numerous novellas and Lord John books by Diana Gabaldon. The sweeping story of a young woman transported two hundred years into the past is filled with larger-than-life characters, sweeping landscapes, historical accuracy, and a love that transcends the distance in time.

These are only three examples of the great opening sentences that have been written through the years. If you have a favorite book, look at the first sentence. See what the author did that piqued your interest right away. Studying what other authors have done can guide us to challenge ourselves to writing an opening sentence that will grasp the attention of the reader right away, making it impossible for them to put the book down. After all, isn’t that what we all want?

Meet Sandra

email-signature-robbins-002Sandra Robbins, former teacher and principal, is the author of twenty-eight published novels. A native of Tennessee, she lives with her husband in the small college town where she grew up. They are the parents of four children and have five grandchildren. She is a two-time winner of the HOLT medallion given by the Virginia Romance Writers of America to honor outstanding literary talent and the winner of the Gayle Wilson Award given by the Birmingham Southern Magic Chapter of Romance Writers of America. Her books have also been finalists in the ACFW Carol Awards and the Daphne du Maurier Award given by the Kiss of Death Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

It is her prayer that God will use her words to plant seeds of hope in the lives of her readers so that they can know the peace that comes from trusting Him. 

Sandra’s Workshop

How to Combine Riveting Suspense with Heartwarming Romance

Participants will understand the elements of romance and suspense that combine to appeal to the reader’s heart. They will learn how to balance a story about a once-in-a-lifetime love that is threatened by the worry and concern of an impending crisis that will keep the hero and heroine apart.

Early Bird Deadline February 25th

canstockphoto37333127Are you still trying to decide whether or not to attend this year’s Mid-South Christian Writers Conference?

Maybe this will be the push you need to take the plunge into conference waters.

The deadline for paying the Early Bird registration fee is Saturday, February 25, 2017.  After that, the fee increases by $10.

Visit the Registration website for more info.