Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mount Hermon, the conference for every Christian writer

Not to take away from ACFW as the premiere conference for writers of Christian fiction, but if you can attend only one conference next year, or if you’d like a change of pace, give serious consideration to Mount Hermon, a conference held in a gorgeous campground setting near Santa Cruz, California.

As a three-time attendee (1999, 2001, and 2007), I have always come away refreshed, recommitted, and re-inspired. How can you not, amidst the incredible redwoods, the fellowship of other Christian writers, a wealth of first-class instruction, great food, lots of singing, and the peaceful, worshipful atmosphere? Not to mention jeans and sneakers are the standard attire!

The 2009 conference, which runs April 3-7 (it’s always Palm Sunday weekend) marks the 40th anniversary of “a one-of-a-kind laboratory for training writers at every skill level, from unpublished to professional” (from the web site). Slated as keynote speaker is author Bill Butterworth, noted for his humor, wisdom, and practicality.

Mount Hermon offers workshops in all areas of Christian writing: children and teens, devotions, short stories, magazine articles, script writing, speaking, publicity, nonfiction, and novels. For 2009 you can choose from 12 different major morning tracks (you stick with one for in-depth study throughout the weekend) and 70 afternoon elective workshops. Included in the morning track options are intermediate fiction and nonfiction mentoring groups as well as a career track (these are by application only--check deadlines if you’re interested). And for beginning writers there is also a head-start mentoring clinic running April 1-3 (details on the web site). View a sample conference schedule here.

The faculty consists of a wide range of authors, editors, and agents--names you’ll recognize from ACFW plus many, many more. Gayle Roper heads up the fiction mentoring track, assisted by authors such as James Scott Bell, Randy Ingermanson, and Brandilyn Collins. Each mentoring group is limited to 10 participants. Assisting with the career track, directed by Sally Stuart, are Karen Ball, Janet Grant, and Wendy Lawton.

Included with your registration are two FREE manuscript critiques by your choice of industry pros and a one-on-one session to discuss your critique. Or, you can pre-submit a proposal to an editor or agent, who will review it for possible publication. This option does NOT include a critique, and if you want a fifteen-minute meeting with this person, you will have to sign up for an appointment after your arrival. Further details here under "Manuscript Submission Requirements." The submission postmark deadline is March 28, 2009.

The appointment system is very casual. You simply find the person you would like to meet with and arrange with him or her directly for a time and location convenient to you both. Many faculty members fill their available slots quickly, so catch them as early as possible.

Meals are buffet-style, with the chance to sit with faculty members at the noon and evening meals. A conference bookstore will accept books on consignment from both faculty and conferees, and there’s always an evening autograph party.

I strongly recommend adding the extra night option to your registration, which means arriving on Thursday, April 2. You’ll appreciate the chance to settle into your room, explore the grounds, and visit with other early arrivals before the conference kicks into high gear around noon on Friday. There’s also a free Thursday-night workshop on mastering the art of pitching, with a chance to practice yours with a pro.

Unless you’re driving, you’ll fly into the San Jose airport, then catch the Mount Hermon shuttle (must be prearranged--details here under "Shuttle Request"). It’s about an hour’s drive on a scenic (and very winding and hilly) highway, but this is the perfect time to introduce yourself to your fellow passengers and start getting acquainted. Last year I had the pleasure of sharing a shuttle with agent Steve Laube, so you never know who you’ll run into! If you plan to do a little area sightseeing, you’ll need to rent a car; if not, there’s plenty to keep you happily occupied onsite.

The latest information brochure can be downloaded here (click on the "web packet" link). It includes full details about registration, pre-conference manuscript submission, faculty bios, and a list of publishers and publications represented. The online info will continue to be updated over the next several weeks, so check back often.

If you decide to give Mount Hermon a try next spring, I hope you’ll look for me there. I can hardly wait!


  1. Oh man, Myra, you really make me want to go to Mount Hermon!!! It sounds like a dream come true for writers at all stages of their journey. It's definitely going on my dream-come-true list ... right up there with chin tuck and tatooed eyeliner ... (and yes, I'm serious!).

  2. HI Myra, Mt. Hermon was my first Christian writing conference and it was heavenly. No pun intended. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet with editors and agents. The networking with other writers is especially a blessing. I grew up a few miles from there so of course loved being back in the giant redwoods.

  3. I would love to go there. Sighhhh.
    We'll see :-)
    I hope you have a lovely time!

  4. Good morning, Myra! The Mount Hermon conference sounds fantastic with lots of opportunities to hook up with editors and agents. The timing isn't good for me since we get together with our kids for Spring Break.


  5. This sounds so nice. I'd like to try and second conference some year, but so far have only found the time and money for one and, for me, that will always be ACFW.

    And Julie, I've heard that tatooed eyeliner fades to a light gray and you have to use eyeliner anyway.

  6. I hope a few of my Seekerville sisters will give MH a try one of these years. It would be even more fun with y'all there! Last spring I went with Carla Stewart, my crit partner and good friend, and we had a blast. We're both planning to attend again in 2009.

    I think hubby will go with me this time, though. He's looking forward to exploring the area and catching up with an aunt near San Francisco.

    Um, I think I should be offering refreshments or something. How about some hot spiced cider and cranberry scones? All served in bright Christmas mugs and poinsettia-decorated napkins.

  7. I'll be there - my first time. Flying in from Saskatoon!

    Looking forward to it!

  8. Hi, Bonnie! I'll be watching for you! Let me know if there's any more I can tell you about the conference. You'll have a wonderful experience, I know.

  9. What pretty scenery. Duh -- I thought California was one huge smoggy suburb.

    Sure sounds like fun.

    Maybe someday.

  10. PS ... the hot cider and scones are the bomb. Thanks!

  11. LOL, Ann! Obviously your California experience has been greatly limited. Once you get away from the big cities, there are some breathtakingly beautiful areas.

  12. You make this conference sound so wonderful, Myra. I'd love to attend, maybe, in a couple of years. With ACFW being held in Denver this year, I think I better aim for local.

    The setting you describe makes the Mt Hermon conference attractive. Casual attendance is high on my list. And the list of speakers and critiques and...

    Thanks for sharing the details about this conference. You really make me want to attend!

  13. I've wanted to go to Mount Hermon. Unfortunately, time, money, and babies have all put that plan on hold.

    With any luck I'll see you there in a year or two!

  14. Hi Ann, California has some gorgeous scenery. Yosemite, Sequoia, Redwood, Mt Lassen national parks for one thing. The Coast near Monterey and Carmel is breathtaking.

    Hey nobody has brought food yet. I'm at the airport in the San Francisco area and just bought some of the yummy Fisherman Wharf french bread. With crab and cheese spread this is divine. The salt air in San Francisco gives the French Bread a world famous tang. Love it.
    Some white wine would go good with it, but then we wouldn't get any work done. How about some Sparkling apple cider instead. Yummm.

  15. I'm telling you, the scenery alone at Mount Hermon makes it worth the trip! It's so peaceful there. Although I remember last year Sue Brower complaining that she had her windows open one night and couldn't sleep because of the frogs chirping.

  16. It looks wonderful!! Maybe someday.

    Thanks for sharing your photos, Myra. I loved them! It truly is gorgeous.

  17. Jules, I'll tatoo your eyes, sweet-cheeks. You just say the word!!!

    And the price is right, LOL!

    I'm totally in with the scones. May I have fresh clotted cream and hard sauce with mine, please?

    And the cider is perfect. Today is a 'wintry mix' in WNY, a meteorological term meaning SLOP...

    Rain and freezing rain mixed with sleet and snow. Thank God for Christmas lights that brighten December's gloomy northern horizons.

    Mt. Hermon sounds like a wonderful respite. Like most unpublished authors, (and probably many published ones!) money governs way too much of my life, but I'll be with you in spirit, Myra, so happy that you can celebrate this year's conference with your first contract firmly in hand. A wonderful blessing and well deserved.

    Must go. I'm helping a four-year-old Mary and a three-year-old Joseph prepare for a living manger photo op tomorrow, weather permitting.

    My 4 yr. old "angel of the Lord" is straight out of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and my two-year-old shepherds have already appeared in Internet puppy commercials for us, so they think they're union material and demanding union wages.

    Does peanut butter count???



  18. Conferences can eat a giant hole in the family budget pretty darned quick, I know. I'll never earn enough in advances to cover what I've already spent over 25 years of attending conferences, not to mention all the other writing-related expenses.

    And the other day I started wondering what my hourly rate would come to if I divided my advance by the total hours I put into planning, writing, and revising my book (if I could even account for them all). Not pretty. Not pretty at all.

  19. I'm pretty sure burger flippers make more, Myra. Try not to think about it.

    But answer me THIS? Who has to remember to NOT wash their hands, huh? Who???????????

    Me, that's who!!!!!!!


  20. I’ve been to a few conferences, but Mt. Hermon continues to be my favorite. Educational, relational, and God-filled, it meets my every need. I’m blown away that I get to go again next year. I’ll be sure to look you up!

  21. Myra,
    You've done a great job of giving folks a preview of Mount Hermon. Let me just second everything you've said. I met my agent, Rachelle Gardner, at Mount Hermon--she was an editor then, but the contact proved to be important in later days. I've attended three mentoring tracks and taken some excellent classes by writers and editors. And David Talbott's piano playing is worth the cost of the trip.

    I must agree (ACFW officers, stop reading now!). It's a close race, and getting closer, but if you only attend one conference, think about Mt. Hermon.

  22. Thanks for adding your MH plugs, Cheri & Doc! Returning last year after missing the 6 previous conferences, I was sorry I waited so long. But to echo other comments here, money issues often force us to be very choosy.

    Mary, liquid hand sanitizer works wonders.

  23. I discussed 2009 conferences with my husband just yesterday. I didn't include Mt. Hermon in the choices, but I may. It looks intense.

    Also, my daughter, her husband, and the grandson I'll have next February live in Southern Cali. If I can swing the conference, I'll swing by and see them.

    I may have missed it (or my contacts are fuzzy) but I couldn't find registration prices. Is it in the web packet?

  24. Kimberli, if you click on the "Register" button on the main page, it will open another window. In the lower center is a green box with info about the writers conference. Click on the line about "view rate sheet" and a little window will open giving the different rooming options and prices. I have always chosen the Deluxe option. It's very comfortable, a step above dormitory housing, more like an average hotel room (or you might get one of the darling cabins).

  25. Thanks, Myra. Wow, I totally missed that and I don't know how. I searched for a registration link.

    My husband wonders how I function with this tunnel vision focus of mine. I'm beginning to wonder myself (it really helps during writing sessions, though.) Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

  26. I love the pics! I wish I could afford this conference. I've heard such great things about it.

    Thanks for sharing!