First-Timers Contest

Never attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference but always wanted to go? The First-Timers Contest awards ten full scholarships, including economy lodging (multiple occupancy) and conference meals.

Congratulations to these 2020 winners:

Becky DePaulis         LG McCary
Kim Duffy                  Charlene Mossman
Don Ellisor                Jason Porterfield
Becca Kinzer             Kristalyn Simler
Megan Menard         David Rawlings

Below are the details for the 2021 conference. (We will begin taking submissions October 15, 2020.)

There is NO FEE to enter this contest. It is open to both published and unpublished writers. Writing samples may be published or unpublished.

Submission Details

BETWEEN OCTOBER 15 AND DECEMBER 10, send a five-page fiction or nonfiction writing sample.

Do not send more than five pages, even if the last page ends in mid-sentence. One entry per person, please.

For articles, blog posts, and short stories, submit the FIRST five pages.

For novellas or book-length manuscripts (including young adult, middle grade, and children’s), submit the FIRST five pages of any chapter. Your manuscript does not have to be completed.

For book-length nonfiction manuscripts, submit the FIRST five pages of any chapter. Your manuscript does not have to be completed.

For board books with illustrations, submit the entire manuscript, but no illustrations.

For screenplays, send the first 25 pages, formatted using screenplay software and saved as a PDF file.
Your submission does not need to be overtly Christian but must have a Judeo-Christian worldview.

Must be written in English.

Contest opens October 15. Do not send early entries, as they will not be accepted.

Deadline to enter is December 10 at midnight Pacific Standard Time. 

Entry Format

With the exception of screenplays, all submissions must be formatted according to the guidelines below:

  • Word document (.doc or .docx).
  • All margins 1 inch. Left aligned. Double-spaced. Times New Roman 12-point font.
  • Using the header feature, all pages must have a working title, your first and last name (real name, not pen name), email address, and a running page number.

The filename should be your first and last name, then an underscore (_), then the working title of your entry. Example: Jane Doe_The Big Sky.


Submissions will be judged in part on the quality of the writing, including:

  • Intriguing opener and keeps reader’s interest
  • appealing tone/style
  • good flow/pace/smoothness
  • clarity, ease of readability
  • cleanness (few if any typos, inconsistencies, or errors in punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling)

To give your entry the best chance of winning, you may want to consider having a fellow writer read your submission for clarity, grammar, and typos. This is only a suggestion; it is not a requirement for entering the contest.

This is not a quality-of-writing contest. In determining who receives the scholarships, we focus more on the answers to the three essay questions (see below) than the writing sample. The sample is merely to help us determine whether you’re ready for what the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference has to offer.

As our judges are narrowing down the submissions, they prayerfully consider which entrants they believe the Lord is leading them to choose. Final decisions are made after much prayer about who we believe God wants to come this year but couldn’t attend without a full scholarship.

If you don’t win one of these scholarships, maybe God has another plan for getting you here. You could apply for a campership. (Details are on the Registration page.) God might provide funds some other way. Or perhaps He knows you’d get more out of attending a different conference this year and coming to Mount Hermon another year.

The Prize

The winners of this contest will receive conference registration, meals during the conference, and economy lodging (multiple occupancy) for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. (Travel expenses not included.)

Winners may upgrade lodging or add pre-conference or a mentoring clinic at their own cost.

Winners will be notified by email no later than January 30 and names will be posted here soon after.

Note: Due to the number of entries we receive, we are unable to notify all contestants of their status.

Submission Instructions

Email your writing sample to our contest coordinator, Lori Freeland, at loriafreeland@gmail.com

Put “First-Timers Contest” in the subject line of your email, followed by your first and last name.

In the body of the email, let us know: (a) your email address, (b) where you live, and (c) what other writers conferences you’ve attended (if any). Then write a one-paragraph answer for each of the following questions:

1. Why do you want to attend the Mount Hermon Writers Conference?

2. Why have you never attended before?

3. What do you hope to get out of attending the next conference?

4. Give us your favorite social media address(es) so we can tag you if you win (if you are on social media and wish to be tagged).

In addition to writing quality, winners will be determined based on the answers to these questions. And guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Questions? Email Lori Freeland at loriafreeland@gmail.com. I’m always happy to help!

Deadline to enter is December 10 at midnight Pacific Standard Time.


I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the individuals responsible for selecting the contest winners for the Mount Hermon scholarship recipients. My time there was a tremendous gift from God. I’m praying for those who will receive this gift next year, and for those of you who serve tirelessly behind the scenes to make it happen.

Teri Jones