Announcing 2017 MSCWC Faculty

April Carpenter 01April Carpenter, Conference Director and President of Byhalia Christian Writers, is pleased to announce the workshop leaders for the 2017 Mid-South Christian Writers Conference.

hlayer_watkins-u3572Author and speaker James Watkins, who “writes for food,” is this year’s keynote speaker. Jim’s workshop, “Writing with Banana Peels,” provides practical strategies for communicating with humor. You might get a chuckle or two from our post introducing Jim.

Our other workshop leaders are:

hlayer_alexander-u3470Johnnie 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.

hlayer_bradley-u3482Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi and loves to write romance and suspense with a twist of romance. Her books include the Logan Point series. She has also written two sweet romances for Harlequin Heartwarming all available at Amazon. Her workshops on writing include two online courses with American Christian Fiction Writers and workshops at the Mid-South Christian Writer’s Conference in Collierville, TN. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.



Andrew Breeden is associate and acquisitions editor of the Upper Room Magazine in Nashville, TN. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University Divinity School, and he lives in Charlotte, Tennessee.



hlayer_bridgemann-u3502Hallee Bridgeman is a best-selling Christian author who writes action-packed romantic suspense focusing on realistic characters who face real world problems. Her work has been described as everything from refreshing to heart-stopping exciting and edgy. Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her.



John Burgette has worked and studied in several fields, including computer/technology, leadership, group fitness, and academic teaching/research.  When he’s not helping his wife, Sandra, raise chickens and goats, John enjoys creative writing, and he is an active teacher/speaker, leader, and musician for his church.



Nancy Kay Grace is a speaker and award-winning author who recently published her 200th blog. She has faced the fear of technology and overcame the panic of possibly crashing her website. Her devotional book, The Grace Impact, recently won the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book of the Year for Christian: Non-Fiction. Nancy hosts a weekly Internet radio show, “Living Life Unedited,” on the Christian Women Affiliate Radio Network.

hlayer_malone-u3542Deborah Malone’s first novel, Death in Dahlonega, finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Category Five writing contest. Deborah was nominated in 2012 and 2013 for the Georgia Author of the Year Award in the Novel category. She has worked as a freelance writer and photographer for the historic magazine Georgia Backroads. Deborah has been featured in Tales of the Rails, edited by Olin Jackson, as well as in the Christian Communicator and Southern Writers Magazine. She is a member of the Georgia Writers Association, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

hlayer_richards-u3552Ramona Richards is a speaker, writer, and editor whose latest book, My Mother’s Quilts, is from Worthy Publishing. Ramona has been an editor for Abingdon Press, Thomas Nelson, Rutledge Hill Press, and Ideals magazine, and has freelanced for more than a dozen others. The author of seven novels, three books of devotions, and numerous magazine articles, she is a frequent speaker for women’s and writers’ groups and has presented at numerous conferences across the country.

hlayer_robbins-u3562Sandra 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.



Introducing Our Keynote Speaker: James Watkins

We are excited to announce James Watkins is the keynote speaker for the 2017 Mid-South Christian Writers Conference.

Known for his love of Scripture, fun sense of humor, and gracious encouragement to other writers, Jim 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 editors? So am I as an editor, acquisitions editor and editorial director. 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.

To learn more about Jim, visit

To hear this amazing man share his wisdom, laughter, and encouragement in person, register today for the 2017 Mid-South Christian Writers Conference.

We hope to see you on Saturday, March 18, 2017!

MSCWC Details: What You Need to Know


The Fourth Annual Mid-South Christian Writers Conference is only four months away.

That may sound like a long time, but these days are going to fly by. After all, next week is Thanksgiving, and there are only 38 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 25, 2017.

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 at the  Courtyard by Marriott – Collierville. Mention the Mid-South Writers Conference (Code MCWC).

Courtyard by MarriottThe special rate expires on February 17, 2017 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.

MSCWC Director April Carpenter Welcomes You!


2017 Theme: Changing the World with Words

April CarpenterI’m so excited to be the first to welcome you to the 2017 Mid-South Christian Writers Conference blog.

March 17 & 18, 2017 will be here before you know it! Around 128 days to be exact.

The committee is hard at work preparing for another great conference. We have a superb lineup of faculty along with our key note speaker Jim Watkins.


Are you paying attention to God’s signs?

Sign, Signs, Everywhere a Sign,” has been playing in my head recently. You know the 1971 song from the 5 Man Electric Band?

Because of this song, I added a sign to my office door at home so the kids wouldn’t bother me while I’m writing. It says, “Taking time for me.”

Does the sign keep them from knocking on my door? NO. Does it keep my husband from yelling, “Honey, where’s my blue shirt?” NO.


Here’s your first sign to come to the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference on Saturday, March 18, 2017.


I hear you saying, “I don’t have the time,” or “I went to the conference last year; why should I go again?”

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Your family can function for one day without you. Trust me I know.   Everyone needs encouragement and to be with likeminded people.

I was honored to speak at my church during the summer regarding my personal prayer journey. I shared my writing on what the Bible says about verbal abuse. I also explained why I hadn’t completed this book yet: “This is a hard topic to write about. I can work on it for a while and then I have to put it aside.”

After the talk, two people stopped me. “Please finish your book,” they urged. “I would buy it and share it with women I know who are in abusive situations.”

HMMMM I thought. Was this a sign?


If God has given you sign after sign that says “Write for me,” or if every other day God blesses you with a great idea for an article or character, then heed His call. Serve Him 100%,by honing your craft. One way to do that is by attending a writers conference.

write-for-meWhen God speaks I make a plan so I can be obedient. One way to be obedient is to prepare. When I have taken the time to learn about the craft of writing then I see results. God gives me new characters and the ability to tweak old characters among other things. Attending conferences is my way of preparing and also a way to receive encouragement.


What signs in your life, regarding your writing, have you been avoiding or ignoring?

Please friends, I encourage you to come to the conference.

We are praying for you and your writing. We are praying that all signs point you to the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference.


Register Here!

Visit the MSCWC Website.


Wrapping up the 2016 MSCWC

April Carpenter 01The 2016 Mid-South Christian Writers Conference has come and gone.

With 95 in attendance for the actual conference and 63 at the Meet and Greet event, we feel it was a great success.

Thank you again for choosing the MSCWC. “God’s love is new every morning.”

The theme this year was “Connecting Through Words.”

For the conference committee this phrase led us to Habakkuk 2:2. “And the Lord said to me, ‘Write my answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell the others.’”

This is the third conference that God has blessed us with, and each year God enlarges our billboard.

We would love to hear from you about how this year’s conference helped your writing. We’re praying that God is allowing you to rush and tell the others, and we want to hear about it.

Please share with us at,

Until next year!

Praying God’s Blessings upon you.


April Carpenter, Conference Director

Before, During, & After the Writers Conference

Johnnie Alexander (2)A Guest Post by Johnnie Alexander

A writers conference is an invaluable investment in your dreams and aspirations. But attending one can also be nerve-wracking, overwhelming, and just plain terrifying.

Though a separate post could be written on each of these aspects–before, during, and after–please allow me to give you just a thought or two about each one.

Before the conference

Read the conference website for information on the speakers, the workshops, and any special events. Find out the dress code and, if you’ll have the chance to make individual appointments, be sure to identify the best match for you. Definitely bring business cards (with your photo and email address). Most of all, leave the nervous willies at home.

During the conference

Smile at someone who looks lost or lonely. Engage in conversation. Be more interested in others’ stories than you are in your own. Take good notes during the workshops, and if you need a little alone time–take it! (Most writers are energized by a moment or two away from the crowd, so we understand.)

After the conference

Reflect on all that you’ve learned. Connect via social media with those you connected with in person at the conference. Write thank you notes to the workshop presenters and conference committee. Take some time to rest and reconnect with your family, especially for a multi-day conference, and then review your notes. Create an action plan.

Most important of all–write!

Remember one other essential: Seek God’s guidance for your writing journey before, during, and after the conference. He knows the desires of your heart, and His timing is perfect.

Meet Johnnie

All covers 2015Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). Her first contemporary romance, Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series; Revell), and her first novella, The Healing Promise (Courageous Bride Collection; Barbour), release in 2016.

She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest). She volunteers as a category coordinator for the ACFW Genesis Contest, judges various contests, and serves as marketing director for the MidSouth Christian Writers Conference.

Johnnie’s Workshop

Fine-tuning Your Fiction: From First Draft to Final Manuscript

Polished prose that sings “Buy me! Buy me!” to an editor doesn’t magically appear on the page. Specific writing techniques are needed to craft your story idea into a compelling novel that will grab a publisher’s attention. In this workshop, we’ll discuss: asking and answering story questions; showing a scene; telling the story between the quotes; and choosing our words. As time permits, we’ll review specific editing issues.