Bonnie S. Calhoun
the Founder and Publisher of Christian Fiction Online
Magazine . She is also the Owner and Director of the Christian
Fiction Blog Alliance which is the parent organization for
Climb Every Mountain
I met Marlene when I went to my first-ever Phila conference in 2006. I fell in love with her as a sister in Christ, and our meeting has blossomed into a full-blown friendship. She is my friend, my mentor, LOL…and my boss, as I am on staff at both of her conferences. Take it away Marlene…
My five-year-old granddaughter snuggled in my lap as I recently watched The Sound of Music. The story captivates even little Laura, who rarely sits still. I know the storyline almost by heart, yet it never fails to hold my attention. This morning the scene with Maria and Mother Superior replayed in my memory. “You must go after your dream to find it,” Mother Superior says. And then she sings “Climb Every Mountain.” The scene touches a deep place within me, encouraging me to continually pursue the dream God has placed in my heart to equip His people to write about the God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives.
I must climb many mountains I prepare to direct the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (May 12–15) and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference (August 12–14). My faith muscles get a real workout. Much remains to be done, but the dream, fueled by the power of His Spirit, keeps me putting one foot in front of the other.
This is how it is for Christians who are called to write. The blank computer screen is intimidating. Even when we begin to fill it with words, the goal may seem too far distant and impossible to reach. Our determination may wane as the evil one throws obstacles in our paths or accuses that we are not good enough, smart enough, or creative enough to be published. Other things demand our time and energy. Without encouragement, many give up writing.
I would have never gotten my first book in print, much less seven others, without the practical help, encouragement, and contacts I made at Christian writers’ conferences. And so, directing the two conferences all these years is my way of giving back in appreciation. And the faculty-authors have the same mind-set: Rather than seeing up-and-coming authors as a threat, they come alongside to help, from commenting on manuscripts to sharing tips and perhaps even recommending a conferee to their agent or publisher. The spirit of helpfulness and encouragement at CCWC and GPCWC is exciting to observe. And each year, beyond the valuable networking that takes place, deep and lasting friendships form.
Not to be downplayed are the exciting workshops and continuing sessions. One conferee observed they are equal to a full semester’s course in writing. To be good stewards of the space CCWC rents at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, early-bird workshops are offered on Wednesday afternoon while staff and volunteers set up book and literature tables.
CFOM’s publisher, Bonnie Calhoun, will teach Blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. “For the cost of zero dollars,” Bonnie says, “an author can easily create an Internet presence that effectively reaches thousands of people a day.” In her workshop you’ll learn to “Blog and micro-blog to the masses,” thus building the “platform” that is essential for gaining editorial interest in your manuscript.
Creating Convincing Characters will be taught by Megan DiMaria, author of two novels, Searching for Spice and Out of Her Hands (Tyndale House Publishers).
Does it take you forever to finish a manuscript? Linda Evans Shepherd, coauthor of The Potluck Club series, will discuss how to write your next novel in a month as a bonus to her nonfiction early bird How to Write a Book in 14 Days.
One of our most popular workshop leaders, Tim Shoemaker, will teach Putting Words in Their Mouths. “Talk may be cheap,” Tim says, “but poor dialogue will cost you. The words you put in the mouths of your fiction characters are critical. Discover how you can heave-ho your ho-hum dialogue.”
The conference formally gets underway Thursday morning with Dr. Ted Baehr’s keynote, You Can Help Transform the Culture. Ted is founder and chairman of The Christian Film & Television Commission and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE Magazine. He also will teach a continuing session on Breakthrough Scriptwriting. If your dream is to see your story produced as a movie, this six and a half hour continuing session is for you.
David Lambert, who wrote the fiction curriculum for Jerry Jenkins’s Christian Writers Guild and worked eighteen years as an acquiring editor at Zondervan and three years as senior fiction editor at Howard Books, will teach a continuing session on
Advanced Fiction Writing. Those who are ready to take their fiction to the next level will explore character growth and change, creating believable character emotion, voice, exposition, a sense of place, style, conveying meaning through implication, and more. Time will be available for discussing problems in your work in progress.
Have you become so focused on getting published that you’ve neglected the more critical parts of writing? Sandy Cathcart and John Wiuff’s continuing session, The Lightbox Method, is about taking care of the journey of our souls; it’s therapy that penetrates into writing skills by bringing deeper meaning into our work; it’s an innovative technique to unlock creative plot development, develop purpose-driven narrative, and overcome writers’ block. This class is for published and unpublished writers of all levels who want to shed light on the hidden message that will bring greater insight and meaning to both their lives and their stories. For a preview, check out http://www.LightBoxMethod.com.
Jeff Gerke, publisher at Marcher Lord Press, will talk about current publishing prospects for writing fiction “that takes us beyond the edge of the map” in his continuing session, Speculative, Sci-Fi & Fantasy.
Maybe you’ve been writing for a number of years. Your writing is good enough to be published but it could be better. Award-winning author Cec Murphey’s continuing session, From Average to Excellent, can be the turning point you need.
Or maybe you have a finished or near-finished manuscript and need to focus on how to Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams with Terry Whalin, vice president and publisher at Intermedia Publishing Group. Whether you call them “secrets” or “difference makers” or “critical steps,” Terry says, “there are key decisions every writer makes that determine whether their material is published or joins the millions of manuscripts stuck in some desk drawer or floating around at publishing houses.”
CCWC also offers forty-two hour-long workshops or the option to apply for a six-hour clinic. Tracie Peterson, best-selling author of over eighty-four books and former managing editor of Heartsong Presents, along with her husband, Jim, will lead a Beginning Novelist Clinic. Best-selling author of thrillers Robert Liparulo will offer a Fiction Intensive for six writers who are serious at becoming better novelists in a very short time. Or perhaps you need to rediscover The Joy of Unblocked Creativity in the clinic led by Liz Babbs and Sue Cameron.
Teens are encouraged to take part in the entire conference at 60 percent off the registration fee and/or to attend Teens Write on Saturday afternoon. Making Characters Real with Barb Haley, Creating a Scene with Tim Shoemaker, and Dialogue that Works with Bonnie Calhoun will help lay a good foundation for teens interested in writing fiction.
To learn more about CCWC and our faculty of sixty authors, editors, and agents, visit www.writehisanswer.com/Colorado. Photos of the magnificent Rocky Mountains will greet you. You will be encouraged to “climb every mountain” as you pursue your dream to write His answer through the power of story.
In addition to directing the Colorado and Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, Marlene Bagnull has served on the faculty of over seventy conferences and taught over fifty one- and two-day writing seminars around the country. She is the compiler-editor of three books and author of five books including Write His Answer—A Bible Study for Christian Writers. She offers fiction and nonfiction At-Home Writing Workshops, a correspondence study program. Marlene also helps writers self-publish affordably yet professionally through Ampelos Press. Visit www.writehisanswer.com to learn more. Visit www.writehisanswer.com/Philadelphia for information about the August 12-14 Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.