Afternoon Workshops

The program includes 54 one-hour workshops, taught by well-respected industry professionals, in the areas of Fiction, Nonfiction, The Writer’s Life, Marketing, Publishing, Business, and more.

Workshop 1

Friday 4:30–5:30PM

Newbie No More — Jill Osborne and Carrie Talbott

New to Mount Hermon? New to writing? This class is packed full of insider secrets about the conference center, acronym-busters, writer lingo, and tips for a smooth start to your weekend. Bring your nerves and walk out in peace.

The Changing Nature of the Publishing Industry — Jason Fikes

The ecosystem of Christian publishing is changing. Do you know what you need to know? What crucial conversations do you need to have with your publisher so that you have a strong relationship and a successful book launch?

Develop a Thick Skin: The Key to an Author’s Long-Term Success — Steve Laube

How a writer deals with criticism differentiates an amateur from a professional. Explore the ongoing process of critique and criticism and some methods for properly handling each.

Did God Really Ask You to Write — Erin Young

Have you ever wondered if you heard God wrong about being a writer? Do you struggle to know what God is leading you to do amidst the multitude of options in this turbulent industry? If He really did give you the task to write, then why is it all so … difficult? Frustrating? Disappointing? And why isn’t He confirming that He gave you this task more often? The good news is that you’re not alone. Many writers battle doubt. Come learn to put those doubts to rest and move forward in your writing journey with peace and confidence.

Understanding Publishing Speak — Linda Howard

The publishing world is full of acronyms, processes, terms, and details that can be confusing to someone who has not been a part of the industry for long or for someone who is trying to break in. How can you as a new or unpublished author ever hope to understand the inner workings of the publishing world? Come untangle the mystery of BBD vs. Publication Date, learn what COGs are, and much more! You’ll leave with the information you need to navigate important conversations with publishers and agents.

How Can God Use What I Write — Janet Ann Collins

Perhaps your work isn’t selling well or even getting published. God can use anything for His glory! In this workshop we’ll discuss examples of how He has used things other people have written and possible ways your own work can make a difference in the lives of people who read it.

How to Know if You’ll Succeed as a Christian Writer — Nick Harrison

In this fun and light-hearted workshop, Nick will cover the many aspects of becoming a successful Christian writer through the means of an informal “test.” Conferees will learn several ways to improve their craft, how (and why) to find an agent, what a “platform” is and why it’s important. By the end of the session writers will know what they need to do to increase their chances of success.

The Writing Mom — Joanne Bischof

This workshop explores four key tips for the writing mom and how to utilize them to promote both productivity and balance. We will look at togetherness, patience, communication, and grace. Our goal as writers is to advance God’s kingdom by sharing truth and hope through the written word, while our goal as mothers is to nurture the hearts and lives within our care. By uniting these two callings, we can honor the Lord through our words and through our family.

The Shark Tank Method of Getting Your Proposal Noticed — Cynthia Ruchti

Brave inventors and entrepreneurs pitch their products to a team of savvy investors on the TV show Shark Tank. Some are dismissed before they’ve gotten past introducing themselves (like a quick publishing house rejection). Others are commended for their hard work, but investors still pass on the opportunity for a variety of practical or personal reasons. Sometimes, Shark Tank investors will fight for a chance to partner with the inventors to help launch their product to the world. We can learn a wealth of insights to apply to our “presentations” (pitches or proposals). What works and what doesn’t? Let’s eliminate reasons for an investor/agent/editor to say no.

Workshop 2

Saturday 1:45–2:45PM

FICTION: 10 Reasons Your Novel Isn’t Published — Karin Beery

Writers everywhere speculate about their rejections, and most of the things they post on social media are wrong. Lack of platform is not the main reason most manuscripts are rejected. Publishers do want fresh voices and new twists on classic tropes. And they want authors to submit the types of manuscripts they’re looking for. In this class, Karen shares the top 10 reasons she’s rejected manuscripts for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction this past year.

NONFICTION: Writing Gift Books — Marilyn Jansen

The gift-book publishing world is the pretty little sister of trade-book publishing. The books are usually shorter, hit a universal felt need or season, and use four-color interiors or special processes or bindings. In this workshop, we will discuss what editors are looking for in a gift book proposal, what kinds of products are included, why work-for-hire is a good first step for aspiring authors, and how a gift book can expand your brand or ministry. We will also cover what will be expected of you once your proposal is accepted and how this is different from and similar to trade-book publishing.

WRITING CRAFT: Editing — Lissa Halls Johnson

This workshop is for writers who want to learn how to edit their own work or someone else’s. You may know that editing is a vital part of the writing process, but aren’t sure what to look for beyond grammar and punctuation. This class presents all the useful, practical editing instruction that can fit into one workshop, including what to do, how to do it, and why.

THE WRITER’S LIFE: Keys to Creativity — Robin Lee Hatcher

Remember when you wrote just for the fun of it? This workshop will explore ways to avoid the dreaded “burnout” or “writer’s block” that many writers fear. We often make roadblocks to creativity by being our own toughest critics. Learning how to shift into creative mode is crucial. Participants will complete writing exercises and then share them with others. Come prepared to let your creativity loose and to have fun with your writing.

PUBLISHING: Bring Your Backlist to Life — Misty M. Beller

A writing career means you likely have a solid “book inventory.” Whether you’re a traditionally published author getting your rights back or an indie author seeking to increase monthly income, your older published works don’t need to languish any longer. With the variety of tools available to authors today, it’s never been easier to reinvigorate your backlist with a whole new readership. In this course, we’ll unpack the options and help you develop a plan.

MARKETING/PROMOTION: Partnering with Your Publisher to Create Book Sales
— Linda Howard

You’ve signed a contract to have your book published. Whose responsibility is it to get the buzz going and build excitement in the marketplace? Promotional strategies in which authors team up with their publishers often achieve a much greater level of success. Learn how to partner with your publisher to give your book the greatest opportunity to receive the attention it deserves and create sales prospects that could otherwise be missed. Discover specific tactics you can bring to the table that will make you an invaluable part of marketing your book. 

SOCIAL MEDIA: The Stress-Free Instagrammer — Joanne Bischof

Instagram can be an intimidating and overwhelming platform for a writer to navigate. In this workshop, Joanne shares helpful tips on how Instagram can be used in a stress-free and low-key way so writers can adapt the platform to their unique style and engage with readers on one of the most popular social platforms around. She’ll debunk myths, offer picture-taking tips, and share ideas on how to make sense of Instagram so it becomes a friend instead of a foe!

BUSINESS: Ghostwriting: It’s Not as Spooky as it Sounds! — Jill Osborne

Ghostwriting and collaborative writing opportunities are popping up all over now that publishers are contracting with more celebrities to author books. These people have a story to tell but may not have the time or expertise to craft a novel or nonfiction book. So … who’re they gonna call? A ghostwriter! If you’re looking for adventure and you love meeting new people, or if you desire to use your God-given talent to inspire as many readers as possible, you may be a future ghostwriter! This workshop will show you how.

SPECIALTY: Turning Your Novel into a Screenplay — Bob Saenz

Learn the differences between writing novels and writing screenplays. How to break your book down to its visual essence and get it ready for the screen. Learn the step-by-step processes you can take to take your book from page to screen.

Workshop 3

Saturday 3:15–4:15PM

FICTION: The Power of Deep POV — Lori Freeland

If you’re a novelist, you’ve probably heard of POV. If you’ve been writing awhile, you may even have mastered Point of View. But if you haven’t written with deep POV, your writing isn’t as strong as it could be. Which means your readers are missing out on the full impact of your stories. In this workshop, you’ll gain an understanding of the importance of deep POV as well as learn how to ensure you’re harnessing this tool’s power to take your craft to a whole new level.

NONFICTION: Writing to Heal Broken Hearts — Cindi McMenamin

Articles and books for hurting hearts will always be in demand. But writing them is no simple task. Cindi McMenamin, author of several books (and hundreds of articles) that address the deep hurts of women and couples, will help you look at key issues in your life that hurting people can relate to, the beauty of scriptural teaching and application, and how to write in a way that resonates with hearts and transforms lives. Leave this session with a plan of what to write and how to write it.

WRITING CRAFT: Simple Tricks to Improve Your Prose — Robin Patchen

Has your editor ever “fixed” a great piece of your writing because it wasn’t grammatically perfect? Have you ever received rewrites because your narrative contained too much repetition? Maybe you were using a literary device and didn’t even know it. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to properly use literary devices—which often don’t follow rules—and other simple tricks to improve the emotional impact of your stories. Because great prose transcends voice and genre, examples of the different devices will be taken from speeches, literature, and movies to illustrate how they can be used effectively in all kinds of writing.

THE WRITER’S LIFE: Redeeming Rejection: Turning Pain into Pleasure — Steve Laube

Rejection is a normal part of the publishing process. Hear insider information and stories on why a project may be rejected and how you can avoid that outcome.

PUBLISHING: The Art of the Query Letter — Adria Goetz

Writing a great query letter is an art and a science. This workshop examines the core elements every strong query letter has and how to add that extra pizzazz that will capture the attention of an agent or editor. Adria will share real examples from her inbox, both good and bad, as well as a specific formula that workshop attendees can plug their information into to generate a great query letter. Adria will share common pitfalls to avoid and ways to rise to the top of the agent’s slush pile.

MARKETING/PROMOTION: Collaborative Marketing
— Amanda Dykes and Joanne Bischof

Marketing can be a delight when approached with heart and purpose, and even more so when it’s done collaboratively. Join two multi-published authors for an engaging workshop exploring the layers, joys, and mutual benefits of collaborative marketing.

Topics include how to get started, who to join forces with, ways to reach readers, logistics, execution and tools, as well as a fun chance to brainstorm your projects. Anchored in the concept of functioning as a body of caring believers, this workshop is a combination of practical takeaways and a hope-filled approach to marketing. 

SOCIAL MEDIA: Groups.io for Authors — Angela Breidenbach

Groups.io is the perfect place to manage your author loop, book club, launch team, or a special interest like genealogy, crafts, or clubs. Learning to how takes only a little skill. Calendars, message loops, file storage, polls, and more are at your fingertips. A great tool for groups. Laptop required.

BUISNESS: Day Jobs and Side Gigs — Jeff Willis

Writing can be a tough business to break into. Many of us end up having to take on day jobs or side gigs to make ends meet. This course looks at the pros and cons of a variety of ways to supplement your income while you build your creative career.

SPECIALTY: Writing YA Christian Fiction — Kelly Harrel

The YA fiction genre in the general market is more popular than ever. So why does YA Christian fiction seem to be suffering? Teens often assume Christian fiction is cheesy or preachy. Books can be powerful tools to reach lost youth. But when today’s teens pick up a novel; they’re seeking a story and escapism, not a sermon. In this workshop, Tessa will discuss how you can deliver a story that appeals to the heart of youth while avoiding major pitfalls that YA Christian fiction writers sometimes make.

Workshop 4

Sunday 1:45–2:45PM

FICTION: Using Essay Structure to Power Through a Scene
— Lori Freeland

A good essay uses a three-part structure—intro, body, conclusion. Likewise, a scene in a novel has an opening, a middle, and an ending. This structure can be used as a frame to keep your scene on track. Openings set the stage, middles move the story forward, and endings hook the reader to turn the page. Knowing what you want a scene to accomplish is your baseline for filling in that frame. Bring your laptop or a printed scene and tailor what you learn to fit your personal project.  

NONFICTION: The Benefits of Short Writing — Janet Ann Collins

Writing for newspapers, periodicals, and online sites can get you established in the profession by showing you are capable of writing well and meeting deadlines. Even very short pieces can make a difference to the people who read them. In this workshop we’ll cover many kinds of short writing and how to get started getting short pieces published.

WRITING CRAFT: Great Beginnings, Middles, and Endings to Wow Editors — Cheri Cowell

Whether writing fiction or nonfiction books or articles, we all get in a rut sometimes when it comes to how we write. This workshop will provide the tools to help you spice up your writing, giving alternatives to those tried-and-true beginnings, middles, and endings. The handouts alone are worth coming to the class for, as you will use them over and over again.

THE WRITER’S LIFE: Staying Organized Amid the Chaos
— Robin Lee Hatcher

Chaos is often a good description of a novelist’s life. A writer must keep track of plot, characters, productivity, and much more. Over nearly forty years as a writer, Robin has developed a number of techniques and strategies to help her stay organized even in the midst of chaos. This workshop will look at many of the tools she uses to organize her characters from book to book, to make sure her imaginary world comes to life, and to keep herself as productive and positive as possible.

PUBLISHING: Landing a Literary Agent — Karen Neumair

Get insider information on how to open the door to traditional publishing with the right representation. This Q&A-style session with senior literary agent Karen Neumair will give you the answers to the following questions: What is a literary agent? What does a literary agent do? What does a literary agent look for in an author? How do I find a literary agent? How do I approach an agent for representation?

MARKETING/PROMOTION: Simple Video Broadcasting
— Angela Breidenbach

Media & marketing—the techie stuff. Practical and simple. Learn the techie skills you need to incorporate video broadcasting on Facebook Live, Zoom, and recorded video into your marketing campaign. You’ll leave with your broadcast plan in place—and know what to do with it. Laptop/Smart Phone required. Earphones with mic suggested, but not required.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Leveraging LinkedIn — Alice Crider

Why bother with LinkedIn? Because LinkedIn has more than 590 million users, with new members joining at the rate of two per second. Having a strong LinkedIn bio and profile summary can make the difference between being a stand-out author or being invisible, not only on LinkedIn but in other places as well. In this workshop, Alice will give you the tools to write an audience-grabbing bio and share proven ways to make your profile attractive. She’ll also reveal the secret to positioning your writing to be noticed by the masses.

BUSINESS:  Business Basics for Creative Professionals — Jeff Willis

A broad overview of business matters every writer should be familiar with, including intellectual property rights, contracts, and financial considerations for those who are self-employed or business owners. The session will also discuss issues of representation, negotiating agreements, and planning for long-term career success.

SPECIALTY: Writing Books Kids Want to Read — Sherry Kyle and Jill Osborne

People say kids don’t read anymore, but that’s not true. They read what they’re interested in! This workshop will give insights into the hearts of today’s kids, who love adventure, challenges, and seeing the impossible become possible! How can we wrap all these elements into our fiction and nonfiction? Come and learn how to craft stories, devotionals, and other books that will breathe new life into a kid’s world.

Workshop 5

Monday 1:45–2:45PM

FICTION: AddressingMental Illness in Christian Fiction — Kelly Harrel

One in five Americans struggle with mental illness. This workshop will look at the resources available on the topic, provide tips to show symptoms and effects, and will help you develop realistic characters that bring inspiration to a hurting world.

NONFICTION: Writing for the General Market — Janet Ann Collins

In a world with so much anti-Christian bigotry, we need to show people that Christians are people of love, not hate. But how can we communicate that to others through our writing? In this workshop you’ll learn some methods and we’ll discuss possibilities.

WRITING CRAFT: Tackling Writers Block — Cindi McMenamin

Where do writers and authors get their inspiration? Cindi McMenamin, author of seventeen published books, will show you how to find and develop content and test market it to gain the confidence needed to continue writing. In this session you will gain practical tips for coming up with book and article ideas, learn creative ways to stay motivated when you don’t feel like writing, and receive helpful suggestions for drawing upon your spiritual life, key learning moments, and everyday conversations to develop material others want to read. 

THE WRITER’S LIFE: Staying Motivated When You Feel Like Giving Up
— James L. Rubart

When writers fail, it’s not usually due to lack of talent but lack of perseverance. In this workshop, best-selling author James L. Rubart will show you how to stay motivated, stay inspired, and stay true to your dream when everything inside you is screaming to give up.

Jim will take you through the habits and techniques he’s developed over the past fifteen years and show you how to design your own path of perseverance that will make you unstoppable.

PUBLISHING: Proposals Publishers Love — Karen Neumair

Senior literary agent Karen Neumair explores the key components to putting together the perfect presentation for your project and gives you a sneak peek at proposals that sell.

MARKETING/PROMOTION: Your Unique Marketing Portfolio
— Stephanie Alton

Marketing your brand or your book is similar to looking at a financial portfolio. Since there is not a one-size-fits-all option, you have to look at what you have going for you and what you want to accomplish to create a marketing strategy that helps you grow at your own rate. We’ll talk about four investment areas for writers:

  • The things you have control over: your writing, email list, and how you invest your time and money
  • The tried and true: speaking and podcasting
  • The helpful: be a guest, blogging, and marketing/publicity
  • The wild card: social media and other trends
SOCIAL MEDIA: Podcasting to Build Your Platform — Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young

Want to build a platform before you publish your book? Want to own your platform and not be subject to Facebook and Twitter algorithms? Are you passionate about the topics you write about? Then podcasting is for you!

This interactive workshop will teach you what you need to know to get started or to make what you’re doing now even better. We’ll cover topics like what a podcast is, how to create one from start to finish, what equipment you need (surprisingly little!), finding the right topic, and how podcasting can boost your newsletter list and social media presence.

BUSINESS: Lessons in Literary Law — Kelley Way

Every author should know their rights in relation to their work. This presentation looks at five areas of law: copyright, trademark, right of privacy and publicity, defamation, and contracts. Kelley talks about how to protect your rights in these areas while avoiding infringing on the rights of others.

SPECIALTY: Writing for Young Readers — Jennifer Lindsay

Middle-grade and young-adult fiction have seen an explosion of growth in recent years, and the market continues to grow as readers of all ages discover new titles. As Christian writers, we have a golden opportunity to present messages of hope to children who increasingly feel like they live in a world with none. But before you start your book, you need to know who you’re writing for and what editors, agents, and readers expect to find in your story. In this workshop, you’ll learn the similarities and differences of the two age ranges and how to determine your target audience.

Workshop 6

Monday 3:15–4:15PM

FICTION: Creating Unique Stories with Spiritual Impact
—  James L. Rubart

Has an editor or agent ever looked at your story and said, “I’ve seen this a hundred times—this year”? How do you get your ideas to stand out in a sea of other stories? Make them unique and give them spiritual weight. During this workshop, best-selling author James L. Rubart will teach you the techniques he uses to create his stories, which are consistently praised as “original” and “deeply thought-provoking.” You’ll learn the framework he runs his stories through and then learn how to apply them to your stories to make them unforgettable.

NONFICTION: What Magazine Editors Wish Writers Knew — Sherri Langton

What really goes on behind the editor’s desk? This informative workshop covers why revisions are made, where freelancers fail, and where they succeed.

WRITING CRAFT: Working with a Professional Editor — Erin Brown

Does the freelance editing process frighten you? Are you afraid an editor will change your voice or make changes that will alter your story? What if you lose control of your project? These are valid concerns. This workshop will address those issues and more. From typos to usage to structure, a good freelance editor partners with you to strengthen your manuscript’s weak areas and bring out its full potential. Erin will also explain how to find the right editor for you, understand the costs of an edit, and determine the level of edit your manuscript requires.

THE WRITER’S LIFE: The Valleys and Mountains of the Writer’s Journey — Joanne Bischof

The publishing journey has many highs and lows, seasons of abundance and times of great drought. Yet by God’s special design, in each of these seasons He better equips us as storytellers by honing our faith. By looking to the greatest commandment in Mark 12:29-31, writers are equipped for the greatest journey: drawing closer to the Lord and more compassionate toward others. The publishing industry offers no guarantees, but by entrusting our dreams to God’s will and timing, we can navigate the writing road with great joy.

PUBLISHING: Master Class inEbook Self-Publishing — Mark Coker

This workshop will guide you step-by-step from the basics of ebook publishing to more advanced topics, with an eye toward helping you make your books more discoverable, more desirable, and more enjoyable to readers. No whiz-bang fads, gimmicks, or shortcuts here. Mark Coker’s no-nonsense knowledge and advice will provide you with best practices that will be just as important ten years from now as they are today.

MARKETING/PROMOTION:What to Do When You Don’t Have a Platform— Nick Harrison

Many new writers are confused about what a “platform” is and why it’s important to their careers. Even published writers find building a platform frustrating and time-consuming when they’d rather be at their keyboards writing. In this workshop Nick will discuss several ways to succeed without a platform while slowly constructing the platform necessary to continue their success. Examples of several best-selling books by authors without a platform will be discussed, along with reasons these books have succeeded.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Social Media Etiquette — Crystal Hodges

Does social media intimidate you? What should you share, and what shouldn’t you share? What should you write, and what shouldn’t you write? In this workshop we’ll cover important social media etiquette, both as everyday users and as those with pages to promote our writing and speaking. Let’s break some digital bad habits, creating a welcoming and safe space for our followers and friends to visit.

BUSINESS: Landmines in Your Book Contract — Steve Laube

Your book contract is a binding legal agreement. So it’s important for you to understand every nuance within it. After negotiating more than 1,000 contracts as an agent, Steve Laube knows there are many terms that can trip up the uninformed. Using actual clauses found in various Christian publishing contracts, you will learn how to read them and understand what to avoid.

SPECIALTY: Current Trends in Picture Books — Adria Goetz

This workshop highlights and examines current trends in the picture-book market and where those trends might be heading. Hear straight from an agent’s perspective what is selling, what isn’t, some dos and don’ts, and which trends are oversaturated. We will also discuss how to tap into trends in your own unique way to make your story more marketable, while staying true to the story that’s in your heart—the pesky one that’s keeping you up at night and bothering you all day long. The workshop will cover trends in both the general market and the Christian market.


The General Sessions, Major Morning Tracks, and Afternoon Workshops are professionally recorded and available to conference registrants for purchase at the conference. Thanks to OT Studios of Whittier California. Six or more CDs are $7.00 each, including a free CD case and free shipping. One to five CDs are $8.00 each plus $3.00 shipping per order. A full set of all sessions recorded on MP3 discs or flash drive is $89.00.