Why a Writers Conference?

A Guest Post by Patricia Bradley

Are you one of those individuals who have people wandering around in your head? Maybe you even talk to them. Or maybe you have ideas floating in that gray matter that beg to be put on paper. And maybe no one in your family ‘gets’ you. Even your close friends sometime look at you like you’re from another planet.

Well, I have the perfect place for you. The Mid-South Christian Writers Conference will welcome you with open arms. We understand. We talk to the people in our heads, too. Some of us don’t have people we talk to, but we have these wonderful stories to tell about other people, or places and events. And some of us write devotionals. But rest assured, we want to help you take what’s in your head and put it on paper.

At MSCWC we have workshops that range from beginner to advanced to help you and encourage you in your writing journey. In addition, there will be editors, small press publishers, agents and mentors you can connect with to discuss your short and long range plans. And on Friday night, we have a Meet and Greet where you can mingle with the speakers and other writers.

For you fiction writers out there, Johnnie Alexander and I will have a workshop on deepening your characters. We’ll talk about things like writing emotions into your characters and how to make your characters come alive. And that’s just one of the workshops you’ll encounter at the conference.

So, make plans to attend the MidSouth Christian Writers Conference March 15-16, 2019. You will be glad you did.

Meet Patricia

Winner of an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award in Suspense, Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty, Suzy. Her romantic suspense books include the Logan Point Series and the Memphis Cold Case Novels. She also has written sweet romances for Harlequin Heartwarming available as ebooks. Her workshops on writing include online courses with American Christian Fiction Writers and workshops at the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference in Collierville, TN, including one on Scrivener. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.

Patricia and Johnnie’s Workshop

Creating Characters with Personality and Pizzazz!

To write an unforgettable story, create memorable characters then deepen their emotional connection to your readers. We’ll share ideas for developing well-rounded characters using techniques such as Myers-Briggs Personality Types and “channeling” your character’s inner life. 

Advertisements

A Quarter Century of Stories

A Guest Post by Tracy Crump

Who would have thought the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series would be around for more than a quarter century? I doubt even Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen realized what they were starting when they published that first book in 1993.

Now, three hundred titles and hundreds of millions of books later, the company is taking on more projects and bringing out more new products than ever before under the leadership of Amy Newmark. What does this mean for you, our Mid-South Christian Writers Conference attendees?

Last year, I led a workshop on writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul, sharing as much of what I’ve learned in writing for them as I could fit into one hour. This year, Andi Lehman will join me on Friday afternoon of the conference to present our four-hour workshop on writing for this wonderful series.

Between us, Andi and I have published two dozen stories in Chicken Soup books. Not only will we teach guidelines and techniques to help enhance your writing, we’ll conduct hands-on sessions to get you started on stories you can submit to Chicken Soup. Andi’s “Weaving Your Web” will show you how to generate story ideas and narrow them down to a publishable piece (attendees love Andi’s energetic teaching style). And I’ll help you “Dissect a Chicken.”

DISCLAIMER: No animals are harmed in the presentation of this workshop.

So join us Friday, March 15, from 1-5 p.m. for “Stirring the Pot: Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Then stay for Meet and Greet. Then come back on Saturday for the best conference around!

Meet Tracy

Tracy Crump has published two dozen stories in anthologies, including nineteen in Chicken Soup for the Soul. As co-director of Write Life Workshops, she conducts workshops and webinars on writing for the series, and her “How to Write for Chicken Soup for the Soul” course is one of Serious Writer Academy’s top sellers. Her articles and devotionals have appeared in national publications, and she edits The Write Life, a popular writers newsletter that includes story callouts. She is a freelance editor and proofreader for Farmer’s Almanac.Visit Tracy at TracyCrump.com or WriteLifeWorkshops.com.

Tracy and Andi’s Friday Session Workshop

Stirring the Pot: Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul

Chicken Soup for the Soul receives thousands of submissions but selects only 101 for 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.

Do You Plan Your Reading?

A Guest Post by Bob Hostetler

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, of course, I mean the annual celebration of our Lord’s nativity, which is rich with meaning and blessing for me and my family. I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas.

But there’s something else that makes this time of year wonderful to me: the joyful preparation of a reading plan for the coming year, which I do every year in late December and early January. That plan becomes something like a syllabus that will allow me to derive maximum variety and benefit from my reading throughout the course of a year. My annual reading plan always includes:

  • a minimum of one biography;
  • at least one memoir;
  • a healthy dose of at least four classics (e.g., Pascal, Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, etc.).
  • at least one history book;
  • several writing books;
  • at least two books by authors I’ve never read before;
  • a minimum of one poetry book;
  • a few books from my favorite authors, such as C.S. Lewis and Wendell Berry;
  • a minimum of two books in a new discipline or field of interest (e.g., logic, gardening, ethics, archaeology, etc.);
  • at least one children’s book, since I am still a child at heart and a great admirer of picture books and juvenile literature (and look forward to the release of my first children’s bookin February);
  • one or two selections from a short list of books I re-read every few years, some serious, some life-changing, some fanciful, from A. A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner to The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer.

Finally, for good measure, I require that at least one of the books on my list (in any category) must be what I call a “mule-choker,” a book of great heft, the intimidating sort of book I might not otherwise read, such as Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) or The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Shirer).

Usually, by the time December rolls around, I have quite a few titles already on my list, from reading book reviews or hearing recommendations from friends. Since I’m reading constantly, I don’t have to buy or borrow a book I’m interested in right away; I simply add it to my list for the coming year, and that way I don’t forget it or feel pressure to squeeze it in to my current stack.

My reading is not entirely void of spontaneity, however. The above list accounts for roughly twenty-five books; I often read four times that number during a given year. So, there’s ample opportunity to read a book on a whim or stay in a favorite genre. Nor do I carve my reading plan in granite; I’m free to substitute books, shift priorities, or even add whole categories. It’s my plan, after all, not the Ten Commandments.

And, while my writer’s annual reading plan is no talisman, it has delivered me from overdosing on one writer or genre, reading only the least challenging books, and that listless feeling of staring at my bookcase like a teenager standing before an open refrigerator, wondering, What do I want, what do I want?After all, the menu’s already been prepared; I need only place my order, and I’m ready for a readable feast.

How about you? Do you plan your reading? Or keep it spontaneous?

Note: This post also appeared on The Steve Laube Agency blog.

Meet Bob

Bob Hostetler is an award-winning author, literary agent, and speaker from southwestern Ohio. His fifty books, which include the award-winning Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door (co-authored with Josh McDowell) and The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional, have sold millions of copies. Bob is also the executive director of the Christian Writers Institute. He and his wife, the lovely Robin, have been married for forty years. They have two children and five grandchildren.

Bob’s Workshop

Writing for Teens

Our keynote speaker, a former editor of magazines for children and youth, presents the “Ten Commandments” of writing for teens.

Introducing 2019 MSCWC Mentors

We are so excited to introduce the publishing professionals who will be available for one-on-one mentoring appointments at the 2019 Mid-South Christian Writers Conference. Join us in welcoming the following mentors:

Debra Butterfield dreamed of being writer since she was a pre-teen. She didn’t pursue her dream until she was forty-five years old and began as a junior copywriter with Focus on the Family. In 2006, she stepped into the world of freelance writing. She is the author of Carried by Grace and Mystery on Maple Hill (a short story ebook). Her magazine credits include CBN.com, Susie, Live, The Vision, and On Course online. Debra has three adult children and two grandchildren whom she doesn’t see often enough. Oddly enough, she likes the smell of skunks. She blogs about writing at DebraLButterfield.com. She has been freelance writing since 2006, started freelance editing in 2010, and joined CrossRiver Media as Senior Editor in 2014. Debra is especially interested in inspirational fiction and nonfiction for women.

Kathy Cretsinger lives in Benton, KY, but she is a native of the mountains of East Tennessee. She and her husband moved to Kentucky nine years ago to be closer to their children. Mantle Rock Publishing began in 2012 for the purpose of publishing only her books, but agents and other authors wanted her to publish theirs. Kathy attended Freed-Hardeman University and took several other classes in colleges close to her hometown. She loves history and watching her grandchildren in their sports and music venues. She enjoys working with authors to help them become better authors. Kathy and her husband, Jerry, have two grown children and four grandchildren. Kathy is especially looking for pitches on contemporary romance, historical romance, cozy mysteries, and romantic suspense. Mantle Rock does not accept novellas.

Julie Gwinn, currently a literary agent with The Seymour Agency, has more than a decade of experience in Christian publishing, including serving as marketing manager then Fiction Publisher for B&H Publishing Group and marketing manager for Abingdon Press. Prior to joining the publishing industry, Gwinn had more than 20 years’ experience in advertising, marketing, and public relations. She uses her previous experience to aid her authors at every phase of their publishing plan. She lives in Nashville, TN, with her husband and two children and also enjoys freelance editing and DIY projects around the house.  Julie is most interested in Christian fiction (especially romance), mystery, historical and contemporary women’s fiction and nonfiction (especially spiritual growth and Christian living titles).

Jon Woodhams has been in Christian publishing for more years than he cares to admit. He worked for David C. Cook and Waterbrook Multnomah prior to joining Guideposts in 2011 where he is editor of fiction continuities. He has edited Miracles of Marble Cove, Nantucket Dreams, Chesapeake Antiques Mysteries, A Cup of Christmas Cheer (short Christmas fiction), Secrets of the Blue Hill Library, Mysteries of Silver Peak, Tearoom Mysteries, and is now launching a brand-new series in 2020. This will be his third time at MSCWC.

Introducing 2019 MSCWC Faculty

April Carpenter, Conference Director and President of Byhalia Christian Writers, is pleased to announce the workshop leaders for the 2019 Mid-South Christian Writers Conference.

Johnnie Alexander creates characters you want to meet and imagines stories you won’t forget. Her award-winning debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, made the CBA bestseller list. She writes contemporaries, historicals, and cozy mysteries, serves on the executive boards of Serious Writer, Inc. and the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference, co-hosts an online show called Writers Chat, and interviews inspirational authors for Novelists Unwind. She also teaches at writers conferences and for Serious Writer Academy. Connect with her at www.johnnie-alexander.com and other social media sites via https://linktr.ee/johnniealexndr.

Winner of an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award in suspense, Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty, Suzy. Her romantic suspense books include the Logan Point series and the Memphis Cold Case novels. She also has written sweet romances for Harlequin Heartwarming available as ebooks. Her workshops on writing include online courses with American Christian Fiction Writers and workshops at the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference in Collierville, TN, including one on Scrivener. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens. Visit Patricia’s website at http://ptbradley.com.

Tracy Crump has published two dozen stories in anthologies, including nineteen in Chicken Soup for the Soul. As co-director of Write Life Workshops, she conducts workshops and webinars on writing for the series, and her “How to Write for Chicken Soup for the Soul” course is one of Serious Writer Academy’s top sellers. Her articles and devotionals have appeared in national publications, and she edits The Write Life, a popular writers newsletter that includes story callouts. She is a freelance editor and proofreader for Farmer’s Almanac. She is represented by Bethany Morehead of Cyle Young Literary Elite. Visit Tracy at TracyCrump.com or WriteLifeWorkshops.com.

Rhonda Dragomir is co-founder of the Dragomir Group in Wilmore, Kentucky, which offers services to businesses and writers. She has published works in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies and Spark magazine. Rhonda has decades of experience as an administrative assistant and graphic designer, and she loves to share tips and tricks to increase productivity and professionalism in all forms of communication. Winner of several writing awards in both fiction and nonfiction, Rhonda invites you to visit her author website, rhondadragomir.com. In her one-on-one appointments, she will be happy to consult with you about your website design or work with you on formatting your manuscript.

Victoria Duerstock wears many hats, but none more enjoyable than writing! A natural outgrowth of building her author platform and learning social media, she enjoys teaching these subjects to others. She has courses available at Serious Writer Academy and has added personal coaching for authors building their platforms. Her full length project Heart & Home: Design Basics for Your Soul and Your Living Space, releases April 16, 2019, with Abingdon Press. This short devotional presents 90 days of Scripture, personal application, prayer, and design tips into one full color volume. She is currently working on the next in the series Heart & Home for Christmas, releasing in the fall of 2019.

Linda Fulkerson has nearly two decades of experience in small business management and marketing. Her writing career began as a freelance magazine features writer. She later moved into the exciting realm of newspapers and has held the positions of copy-editor, sports writer, online editor, and online advertising coordinator. Her company, DLF Digital Services LLC, provides a variety of services including cover designs and video book trailers. She is the author of several nonfiction books, a series of coloring books for writers, and Dead Broke, a mystery novel. To learn more about Linda, visit her website at www.LindaFulkerson.com.

Vanessa Davis Griggs is a motivational speaker and the author of eighteen novels and one inspirational book of devotionals. She also contributed ten devotionals in Sisters in Faith Holy Bible published by Tyndale. A wife, mother of three, and grandmother of five, Vanessa believes we all come here with a purpose, and she encourages everyone she meets to take flight and soar!Bo

Jean Matthew Hall lives in Louisville, Kentucky. She is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary. Her premier picture book is due to be released by Little Lamb Books in early 2019, to be followed by three more books in this Four Seasons series. Jean is a member of the SCBWI, Word Weavers International, and the Kentucky Christian Writers. She is also an AWSA Protégé. Jean is a former director of the Write2Ignite! Conference in Tigerville, SC. Her desire is to write stories, articles and poems that encourage young children and the caring adults in their lives. You can visit Jean at www.jeanmatthewhall.com, on Facebook at Jean Matthew Hall Author, and on Twitter @Jean_Hall.

Bob Hostetler is an award-winning author, literary agent, and speaker from southwestern Ohio. His fifty books, which include the award-winning Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door (co-authored with Josh McDowell) and The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional, have sold millions of copies. Bob is also the executive director of the Christian Writers Institute. He and his wife, the lovely Robin, have been married for forty years. They have two children and five grandchildren.

Andi Lehman holds a degree in communications from the University of Memphis and freelances in diverse markets. She enjoys writing devotionals and true stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. A popular wildlife speaker, Andi continues to work on a series of nature books for children. In 2016, Andi joined Tracy Crump as a traveling partner presenting Stirring the Pot, a workshop that teaches how to write for Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. Andi serves as a staff member of Write Life Workshops, which offers webinars and workshops about writing and publishing.

Award-winning Shannon Taylor Vannatter writers contemporary Christian cowboy romance and has over a dozen published titles. It took her nine-and-a-half years to achieve traditional publication. She gleans fodder for her fiction in rural Arkansas where she spent her teenage summers working the concession stand with her rodeo-announcing dad and married a Texan who morphed into a pastor. Shannon is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and taught a novel-writing continuing education course at Arkansas State University along with countless sessions at conferences canvassing Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and Georgia. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her husband and son, flea marketing, and doing crafts.

Brenda L. Yoder is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, speaker, author, and life coach. Her new book, Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind was released by Herald Press in 2018.  She’s authored Balance, Busyness & Not Doing It All and has been featured in The Washington Post and two Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She writes nonfiction for several online magazines and has a mental health column in her local paper. Brenda specializes in faith, life, and family beyond the storybook image. A speaker for women’s groups and youth, she also trains pastors and church leaders on topics relating to faith and mental, behavioral, and emotional health. Brenda is a mom of four and wife of 29 years and lives on a farm in Indiana. You can connect with Brenda at brendayoder.com or on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

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.

Hallee’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.