Major Morning Tracks

This year we have nine comprehensive courses to choose from, including three new offerings! 

  • Receive instruction and guidance from top-notch industry professionals.
  • Apply the principles to your own writing during the conference.
  • In afternoon small-group sessions on Saturday and Monday, share your writing or ideas for constructive feedback and/or brainstorming.

At the conference, choose one of nine tracks designed for writers at every skill level for your Major Morning Track—Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Major Morning Courses


Susy FloryLaura Christianson

Susy Flory see bio | Laura Christianson see bio

Whether you want to begin a career as a writer, blogger, editor, writing coach, or consultant, or take the next step toward that goal, you need to create a business strategy. If that sounds intimidating and overwhelming, this track is for you!

Susy Flory and Laura Christianson transitioned from other careers into thriving full-time businesses in the writing world—Susy as a New York Times best-selling author, and Laura as a marketing-blogging-branding-website expert. During this track, they will equip you with tips, tools, systems, and strategies to successfully launch your own writing-related business. You’ll learn how to manage your finances, time, and online presence. You’ll get practical ideas for how to organize your office, your writing tools, your deadlines and work flow, and your “people.” With Susy and Laura’s guidance, you’ll come away with a working business plan tailored to your skills, experience, and goals.

Creating a plan and working that plan helps take the worry out of the work and creates a path for you to grow your business into something that enables you to live out your calling.

Get a sneak peek of what you can get from the Career Growth Track! 


Karen BallErin Taylor Young

Karen Ball see bio | Erin Taylor Young see bio

If you think you've attended this kind of track before, guess again. This all-new session is designed for multi-published authors who understand the field of book publishing and realize the value of continued learning, encouragement, spiritual refreshment, and connecting with other professional writers. 

Retreat leaders Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young will contact registrants in advance of the conference and then personalize the session’s offerings to meet the attendees’ needs and strengths.

A few of the options for this session include:

  • best practices, twists, and new inspirations that will help you grow as an author
  • networking time with other professional writers for support and cross-promotional opportunities
  • brainstorming sessions to help you solve problems with your fiction or nonfiction book
  • mastermind groups to provide you with personalized collective wisdom for your needs and questions
  • help from guest speakers who will address specific issues that professional writers face
  • designated writing time with creativity (and snack) support
  • spiritual refreshment with prayer, personal reflection, and shared requests


  • Must be registered for the 2018 conference
  • Must have at least two books contracted with traditional, royalty-based publishers; 4 indie-published books; or a combination of the two.
  • One of those books must have been released within the last 6 years

If you don’t quite meet this criteria but would like to participate, submit an application and we will consider whether your background would make you a good fit for this session.

Check out Karen and Erin's video about the Pro Track!

You must complete and submit the application for this track no later than March 1, 2018, to be a part of the Professional Writers Retreat Track. Acceptance of applications is at the discretion of the leaders. Email Erin Taylor Young to request an application.

If you’re a professional writer and would like to attend a track that is led by publishing professionals, customized to meet your specific needs, and will leave you feeling refreshed and encouraged to meet your writing goals, come join us!

If you are not a multi-published author with experience in the Christian publishing field, check out our new Career Growth Track.


Jill WilliamsonShannon DittemorePaul Regnier

Jill Williamson see bio | Shannon Dittemore see bio | Paul Regnier see bio

Teens, we’ve got a special weekend program just for you! The Teen Track will run from Friday evening through Sunday. Come just for the weekend or stay to get in on all the main conference offerings on Monday too. Find out more here!


B. J. Taylor

B. J. Taylor see bio

This track will cover writing short pieces for magazines and anthology submissions, as well as writing book-length self-help and memoir. Instructor B. J. Taylor, with experience in both self-publishing and working with a royalty publisher, will look at meeting agents and editors and also share extensive self-publishing tips. 


Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner see bio

This track will focus on the four pillars of a great novel: emotionally engaging characters who possess compelling motivations, a plot that is alluring and relevant, stakes that are believable and organic to the story, and settings that are rich in detail and intrinsic to the quest. Special attention will be given to incorporating these facets of gripping story into the tried-and-true three-act structure, but with today’s reader in mind.


Lucinda Secrest-McDowell

Lucinda Secrest-McDowell see bio

“Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6.45). What’s inside you will be reflected in your words. Will they be life-giving and redemptive from the inner strength of a settled soul? Or will chaos and unrest confuse your message? You already know the importance of dwelling in God’s presence for His power and provision. Join us each morning to receive gifts of mercy, grace, and hope. We will discuss how you can be filled with God’s love and creativity, fueled by regular spiritual disciplines, freed to live as a wounded healer, and focused on sharing real life and redemption, and how you can find purpose during both lean and plenty.


Mick SilvaLissa Halls Johnson

Mick Silva see bio | Lissa Halls Johnson see bio 

A compendium of the most useful, hands-on editing instruction you can fit into one class--what to do, how to do it, and why--so you can see how professionals get books done. 


Kay Marshall StromLinda Clare

Kay Marshall Strom see bio Linda Clare see bio

Your story matters. Should you write it? Absolutely! Should it be published? Yes, but in the right form. And at the right time. And for the right readership. Bring your story to this track and learn how to write it right. A memoir is the story of you, so craft it with prayer, professionalism, and purpose.

The Writer as Speaker

Kathy Carlton Willis

Kathy Carlton Willis see bio

Whether you’re just now setting up your speaking business or it’s time to revamp your existing one, this session will help you order your work as a professional. Kathy will cover working from home, creating a speaker contract, setting speaking fees, requesting endorsements, getting the word out, and putting together your resource table.

Then it’s time to evaluate your speaking craft so you can work up better programs to offer event planners. Kathy will help you learn what event planners want and brainstorm ways to create a turnkey event. She will also help you identify ways to stand out when event planners consider their options from the sea of speakers available today.


Major Track Schedule

Saturday, March 24

Sunday, March 25

Monday, March 26


Lecture & Guided Writing

Lecture & Guided Writing

Lecture & Guided Writing


Lecture & Guided Writing


Lecture & Guided Writing


Instructor-guided Critique and Brainstorming Groups with published mentors


Instructor-guided Critique and Brainstorming Groups with published mentors

Morning Mentoring Clinic

If you have some writing and publishing experience and are ready to deepen your skill in a small-group setting, consider signing up for a Morning Mentoring Clinic instead of a Major Morning Track.

Writing Retreat

If neither of those options is right for you, why not make the Mount Hermon writers’ conference a writing retreat? Start your day in a Prayer & Praise session with Karen Ball, or take a prayer walk along one of the beautiful redwood trails, or seek divine guidance in the Mount Hermon chapel. Join us for a delicious, healthy breakfast. Then spend the rest of the morning writing whatever God lays on your heart to work on. After lunch, do more writing or take some workshops, meet with the Critique Team, have appointments with faculty members, or enjoy some of the recreational opportunities available to conferees. If you get stuck, spend some time with our Prayer Partners in the chapel. After dinner, be inspired by our evening worship and keynote speaker … or do more writing. You’ll be amazed at how much quality work you’ll get done in this inspiring atmosphere!