Pre-conference Mentoring Clinics

April 1–3, 2020

Get a head start on the main conference by signing up for a pre-conference mentoring clinic!

Purpose of the Pre-conference Mentoring Clinic

The Pre-Conference Mentoring Clinics are designed to give beginning, intermediate, and advanced writers an opportunity to focus on developing their projects or to support other areas of their writing careers. Each clinic combines learning in a small-group setting, a mentor critique of your work-in-progress, and a one-on-one consultation with your mentor.

Fiction and nonfiction clinics are limited to six participants.

Specialty clinics are taught in a workshop setting and are for writers of all levels. Alongside the learning material, these clinics include evaluations and suggestions.​

Specialty clinics are limited to twelve participants.


  • By Application Only
  • Additional Cost (see Registration page for options)
  • Deadline is March 11
  • Applications are processed in the order they are received
  • Meeting from dinner Wednesday through lunch Friday

Pre-conference Mentors


A Compelling Chapter One: A Key Building Block toward Great Fiction
Mentor: Joanne Bischof
Beginning/Intermediate Fiction

In this track, Joanne will help writers explore key tools to advance their storytelling, including character likeability, authentic dialogue, and vivid settings. A great novel begins with a captivating start, so special focus will be placed on page one and chapter one, while providing valuable skills the writer can utilize in every chapter to follow.

Unleash the True Power of Your Fiction
Mentor: Karen Ball
Intermediate Fiction Editing

In this interactive clinic, Karen Ball uses her more than 35 years as an editor to help you develop your self-editing skills. You’ll dig deep into your WIP, identify your unrealized mistakes, and eliminate obstacles between readers and your characters. You’ll also learn small edits that give big impact, how to harness the power of Deep POV, and how to create a personalized guide for editing your own work. Expect to work hard, laugh often, and come away a more skilled writer!


From Only a Dream to Finished Book
Mentor: Jan Kern
Beginning Nonfiction

You’ve dreamed of turning your idea, story, or chapter starts into a book that makes a difference, but you aren’t sure how to take it through the finish line. In this clinic, Jan will coach you in building on the writing strengths you have and layering in the foundational skills you may not yet know. You’ll also engage with creative tools that will help you connect strongly with your reader and finish your project. Together let’s move your dream closer to reality!

Unlock your Manuscript’s Potential
Mentor: Erin Taylor Young
Intermediate Nonfiction Editing

Through instruction, group feedback, and one-on-one critique with Erin, this intermediate nonfiction self-editing clinic focuses on asking the hard questions that pinpoint your book’s weaknesses and push you toward rock-solid solutions. She’ll ask questions to hone your manuscript’s strengths, takeaways, and target audience. You’ll wrestle over what to leave in, what to leave out, when (and how) to apply fiction techniques, and how to organize your chapters into a message that can pierce hearts and change lives.


Retreat to Get You Started
Mentor: Jeanette Hanscome
Beginning/Intermediate Writers (up to 12 participants)

Have you ever wished you could take a retreat before the conference? Here’s your chance! Enjoy this opportunity to examine your goals and expectations, find out how to best prepare for your appointments and faculty interactions, and learn strategies for making the most of your time. This clinic is designed for writers of all levels who want to feel fully prepared—professionally and spiritually—for whatever God has waiting for them at the main conference.

Why Should They Listen to You?
Mentor: Dr. Sharon Norris Elliott
Beginning/Intermediate Writers and Speakers (8 to 10 participants)

If you’re going to be a successful author, you must also be a dynamic speaker; however, many writers would much rather sit in front of a screen than stand in front of an audience. In this clinic, speaker and multi-published author Sharon Elliott will work with you to evaluate your platform presence, encourage your heart, and enhance your talks, all to enrich the lives of your listeners.

Rooting Deep to Soar High: A Clinic for Teen Writers
Mentor: Amanda Dykes
Teen writers of all levels and genres
Limited to 6 participants, with a minimum of 4

You have a message on your heart, a pen in your hand, and a passion to make a difference with your writing. This clinic was designed with you in mind and with a deep focus on who you are in Christ. You will be encouraged that you’ve been called and equipped for such a time as this. Each participant will provide five pages of a story or nonfiction work, or three to five poetry samples. We’ll explore how to healthfully process feedback in an outspoken world, hone your vision, develop consistent writing habits, fuel creativity, and see a project through to completion.

* This clinic’s availability is dependent on whether we have enough teen registrants. If this clinic interests you, we invite you to sign up as early as possible. If we don’t have enough registrants by March 2, we’ll let you know and encourage you to consider taking one of the other pre-conference clinics.
* If you are under 18, please see the “Adults Accompanying Minors” section of the registration page.

Conference Preparation for Advanced Writers
Mentor: Kay Marshall Strom
Advanced Writers (8-10 participants)

If you are already well on your way to mastering the writing craft, this pre-conference clinic is for you! Learn to write, polish, and perfect your book proposal, develop and practice your elevator pitch, choose the right planks and put them together in a way that will build a solid platform. Develop discussion points to use when talking one-on-one with an agent or acquisitions editor. After this pre-conference clinic, you will be fully prepared to present yourself as a professional during the main conference.

Application Details and Requirements

Participation in a Pre-conference Clinic is by application only. If you are accepted, the Registration team will register you for the same housing division you chose for the Main Conference.


Application Deadline: March 11, 2020

A Pre-conference Clinic offers an added-value opportunity for an additional fee.

Application Process

Submit a Word document attachment in an email to coordinator Jan Kern: jankern@gmail.com
  • In subject line of your email, write: MH PRE-CON 2020 – YOUR NAME
  • Your attached document should include these items:
    • Name and contact information, including mailing address, phone number, and email address
    • The clinic for which you are applying
    • Your purpose and goal for participation in a Pre-conference Clinic
    • Your writing credits and experience, if any (published works, courses you’ve taken, critiques of your work)
    • A three- to five-page sample of your writing
      • Your sample should be a piece that represents the genre of the clinic for which you are applying. See Sample Requirements below.
      • Your sample should represent your current best writing. It can be edited by you but please submit a sample that has not been edited by others.
Clinic space is limited. Apply now!

Sample Requirements


A three-page sample that includes a scene between two people, with dialogue. If your sample is part of a work-in-progress, include title, intended audience, and a paragraph about the plot and characters.


A three-page sample of any nonfiction writing you’ve completed or from your current work-in-progress. If your sample is part of a work-in-progress, include title, intended audience, and a paragraph summary of your project.

Pre-conference Schedule