Faculty Spotlight: Hallee Bridgeman

Meet Hallee

With over a half million sales, Hallee 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.  Visit Hallee’s website at http://www.halleebridgeman.com.

Hallee’s Workshop

Creative Marketing Plan

In a competitive publishing industry, authors must learn to market. But how? And where to start? Join best-selling author Hallee Bridgeman as she shows how to begin marketing your book before it’s even published, where to advertise/market, and how to create a support team that will help spread the news of each release.

Hellee’s Friday Four-Hour Workshop

Best-selling indie author Hallee Bridgeman will teach Seven Steps to Successful Self-Publishing, including tips and tricks for the current market. This expanded version of the workshop she presented last year will allow Hallee time to discuss topics on a more complex level.

The Friday workshop costs an additional $35 with conference registration or $55 for the Friday workshop alone.


God Knew Before You Did!

A Guest Post by Brandilyn Collins

Last summer I was on a plane, minding my own business. Simply reading a book. God chose that moment to interrupt and speak to me. He spoke just one sentence.  Eleven words. The sentence was … rather unique, as our amazing God often tends to be.

I marveled at the sentence. Turned its meaning over in my mind. I wrote it down so I would not forget the exact wording.

Within a few weeks of that event, I received an invitation to keynote at this year’s Mid South Christian Writers Conference. Two months later, conference leaders told me the theme: “Lighting the World with Our Words,” based on Psalm 119:105.

I had a good laugh with God over that. He knew this theme before the conference leaders did. He led them to it. And His words to me on the plane two months earlier had begun the work in me to speak to this theme. God has a message for you to hear at the conference. He knew you were coming, even before you did.

Amazing, isn’t it, how we can be on God’s journey, even in times when we don’t know it. How He orchestrates events in our lives for His glory and our growth in Him. God’s speaking to me on the plane that day is only one example of how He’s done this in my life over and over again—even when I wasn’t asking for His leading and wasn’t focused on Him at all.

I look forward to telling you about it.

Meet Brandilyn

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling author of over thirty books. She is best known for her Seatbelt Suspense®–fast-paced, character-driven, with myriad twists and an interwoven thread of faith. Brandilyn’s awards for her novels include the ACFW Carol Award (three times), Inspirationa Readers’ Choice, the Inspy, Christian Retailer’s Best Award (twice), and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice. She is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors. When she’s not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers conferences and keynote speaking.

Brandilyn’s Workshop

The Four Ds: Desire, Distancing, Denial, and Devastation

Desire, Distancing, Denial, and Devastation form the story structure for your novel. We’ll talk about each one, focusing particularly on Desire. What does your character want? (Many novelists think they know—until their story starts to sag.) You need to understand the concept of Desire fully, because what your character wants—what deep down drives his actions and perceptions—will catapult him through your story and lead to the other three Ds.

Songs are Musical Novels

A Guest Post by Gary Fearon

Lyrics are often thought of as poetry that’s been set to music, and there’s truth to that. But writing lyrics for a song involves a unique structure very similar to writing a novel. Like chapters in a book, each section of the song (verse/chorus/bridge) tells a specific part of the story and ends on its own unique note.

The first verse establishes the premise and introduces the protagonist; that is, who the song is about:

“I was born a coal miner’s daughter…” (Coal Miner’s Daughter)

“We’re caught in a trap, I can’t walk out…” (Suspicious Minds)

“You think you lost your love, well I saw her yesterday…” (She Loves You)

Having set the stage, each verse section that follows expands further into the story, as in these second verses. They are more informative than introductory in nature:

“For forty days and for forty nights, law was on her side…” (Billie Jean)

“I know a man ain’t supposed to cry…” (I Heard It through the Grapevine)

“Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis, pumped a lot of  ‘pane down in New Orleans…” (Proud Mary)

It’s not by accident that the most memorable part of a song is usually the chorus. The chorus delivers the main message and is so important that it’s repeated multiple times:

“Welcome to the Hotel California…” (Hotel California)

“I fell into a burnin’ ring of fire…” (Ring of Fire)

“I’m pickin’ up good vibrations…” (Good Vibrations)

While not present in every song, the bridge (that variation that occurs at roughly the 2/3 point) is an exposition.  It digs deeper to reveal a perspective that offers new insight into the entire situation.

“Other arms reach out to me, other eyes smile tenderly…” (Georgia on My Mind)

“Oh, can’t you see, you belong to me…” (Every Breath You Take)

“On the day that you were born the angels got together…” (Close to You)

Once the whole story has been told, the chorus will reappear as a final chapter to hammer home the main point.

Listen to your favorites with an ear toward what specific message each section conveys and you’ll see that every effective song resembles the classic storytelling technique of beginning, middle and end.

Better yet, come to my presentation at the Mid-South Writers Conference on March 17th and I’ll show you how you can put your own words to music.

Meet Gary

Gary Fearon is a songwriter,  musicologist, writer, and Creative Director for Southern Writers Magazine. He has written over 300 songs and jingles for advertisers such as Polaroid and created countless song parodies for national radio shows including The Rush Limbaugh Show.  A former Billboard Air Personality of the Year, his broadcast work has also been recognized by the Associated Press, Radio and Production, and over two dozen MARS awards for commercial production. His voice is heard daily on radio and TV stations across the USA and Canada.

An avid analyst of entertainment, he has studied thousands of hit songs from the perspectives of music theory, lyrical content and production value. His instructional book, A Guide to Songwriting Structure, is scheduled for publication in 2018. Visit Gary’s website at www.garyfearon.com.

Gary’s Workshop

Songwriting Shortcuts for the Writer

Finding the perfect music for your lyrics is easy with a few secret tricks geared especially to wordsmiths. Whether you’re a newcomer or an experienced songwriter, you’ll discover new and intuitive approaches to crafting memorable melodies in this entertaining, enlightening session.

Tell Me a Story

A Guest Post by Tracy Crump

“Grandma, will you tell me a story about my daddy when he was a little boy?” my granddaughter often asks. She already understands what most of us know—there’s nothing like a good story.

True stories speak to us on an intimate level, passing on one person’s experiences to another. Many believe storytelling possesses a power superior to any other form of communication. One book series, in particular, has tapped into that power: Chicken Soup for the Soul®.

This summer, Chicken Soup celebrates its 25th anniversary. Their first book (probably intended to be their only book) came out in June 1993. Within a few months, sales skyrocketed. They’ve since produced more than 250 titles and sold an astounding 500 million books worldwide. According to a Harris poll, 88 percent of the public recognizes the Chicken Soup for the Soul trademark. No wonder they’ve been called a publishing phenomenon!

Chicken Soup receives thousands of submissions but publishes only 101 stories and poems in each book. While competition for a spot is fierce, writers can increase their chances by following a few simple guidelines and keeping Chicken Soup’s main tenet in mind: it’s all about story.

Join me at the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference on March 17, 2018, to learn what this longstanding series is looking for and how you can stir up a winning Chicken Soup for the Soul story.

Meet Tracy

Tracy Crump has published two dozen stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul and other anthologies as well as numerous articles and devotionals. As co-director of Write Life Workshops, she has led workshops and webinars on writing for Chicken Soup since 2008. She also edits The Write Life, a free e-newsletter with callouts. She lives with her husband in north Mississippi, has two sons and two perfect grandchildren, and believes Grandma is the most beautiful word in the English language.

Tracy’s Workshop

Stirring the Pot: Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul

Since Chicken Soup for the Soul receives thousands of submissions and only publishes 101 in each book, how can you increase the chances they’ll choose your story? Come learn what Chicken Soup wants, what they don’t want, and how you can stir up a winning Chicken Soup story.

Quick Tips for Writers to Get Started with Their Brand


A Guest Vlog Post by Bethany Jett

Click on the image to hear Bethany’s tips.

Meet Bethany

Bethany Jett is a military wife and homeschool boy-mom who is addicted to suspense novels and all things girly. She is an award-winning author, speaker, ghostwriter, Vice President of Platinum Literary Services, Inc., and co-owner of Serious Writer, Inc. In her spare time, Bethany is working on her Masters degree in Marketing: New Media and Communication. Bethany writes on living brilliant at BethanyJett.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Bethany’s Workshop

Zero to Book Deal in Three Months

“Zero to Book Deal” teaches how to turn a few resources into publishing opportunities with magazines, radio, guest posts, and speaking engagements. We will navigate the components of creating fantastic nonfiction proposals, building a speaking list, and leveraging every opportunity already in your arsenal.

Five Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Writing

A Guest Post by Patricia Bradley

I’m a list maker. I make grocery lists, to-do lists, gift lists…the lists go on, and the other day I was listing a few of the things I’ve learned in my writing journey. When I finished I thought, gee, I wish I’d known some of these things when I first started putting words on paper.

So…I thought if I felt that way, maybe you would too. Here goes in no particular order:

  1. It takes eight to ten years of schooling for a person to become a doctor. Likewise, it takes years for a writer to learn how to craft stories that are publishable. Maybe not ten years, but certainly longer than the year it took me to write my first book— which will never see the light of day.
  1. Writing is subjective and not everyone will like what you write. If you don’t believe me, enter your story in a contest. You’ll probably get a couple of high scores and one very low score.
  1. When you first start out, do not submit  three chapters and an outline if you haven’t completed the whole manuscript. If an editor likes those first three chapters and asks for the completed manuscript and you haven’t written it, you will make a bad impression on that editor.
  1. On that same note, when you go to a writer’s conference and an editor or agent asks you to send your completed manuscript, do it. I’ve had editors and agents tell me they only receive about 25% of the manuscripts they request at conferences.
  1. Most people like to HAVE written because writing is hard work from the first sentence to the middle to the end. Understand that there will be days that the words will not flow like water from your brain to your fingers.

These are just a few of the things Johnnie Alexander and I be talking about at the Mid South Christian Writers Conference on March 17, 2018. We will also be answering questions on how traditional publishing works.

Meet Patricia

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

Patricia and Johnnie’s Workshop

Popular Clichés to Avoid in Your Fiction

We don’t always know what we don’t know and that can lead to rejection. Two experienced authors share what they’ve learned from their agents and editors about the scenes, plots, and clichés to avoid plus their experiences with the traditional publishing process.


Why Write for the Magazine Market?

A Guest Post by Carolyn Tomlin

A writer has many opportunities to share the Good News of Christ.  Writing for the magazine and newspaper market, I speak to millions of people each year. For example, Mature Living Magazine, published by LifeWay has a printed circulation of approximately 350,000. Editors tell me that at least three people read each issue. With this one magazine, that is over 1 million readers. If a magazine writer publishes three or four articles weekly, they touch millions of lives each year. And there is no way to measure those who read magazines online!

In teaching the Boot Camp for Christian Writers, I encourage new writers to begin with the magazine/newspaper market instead of books. Everyone can be successful. Everyone can publish. Everyone can see their name in print. That is…if you are willing to study this trade.

My suggestions: know the publication and know the reader (your audience). Read from other writers, read at least 3 current back issues of the magazine you want to write, come up with fresh ideas that meet the tone and style of those already published, meet the deadline, and be a writer who can take constructive criticism from an editor. And networking with editors and becoming a friend they can count on is of utmost importance.

If you want to have success as a writer, start with the magazine and newspaper market. They need writers! They need you!

Meet Carolyn

Carolyn Tomlin had taught 33 years in public school and at Union University when she heard God calling her to write for the Christian market and to help others learn this skill. Today, she co-teaches the Boot Camp for Christian Writers and has taught over 3,000 people to write-to-publish. Her published magazine and newspaper articles number over 4,500 in both the Christian and secular markets. She’s published 17 books which are mostly focused on teaching writing skills. Carolyn is married to Dr. Matt Tomlin, a Baptist minister. They have two adult children and six grandchildren. Shelter dog Ernest Miller Hemingway shares his life with their family and visits nursing homes with Tomlin. https://carolyntomlin.com.

Carolyn’s Workshop

The Four Articles Editors Love and How to Write Them!

This workshop shows an easy format for writing the four basic articles for magazines and newspapers. You will learn how to select and know the magazine, identify the reader, and write a query letter that catches the attention of the editor and results in a contract.