Workshops

Workshop titles and descriptions are listed alphabetically, by faculty members’ last names. Peruse faculty bios on the Faculty page.

Debbie Alsdorf

Writing Bible Studies and Devotionals

Spiritual growth and discipleship are important components to the Christian life. Though there are many materials to support growth, there is always room for more.

In this session, bible study and devotional author, Debbie Alsdorf will walk through the process of writing a bible study, looking at different formats and possibilities. This session will help writers step out to help with guides, studies and devotionals for their local church or  create growth materials for publication.

The Sacred Journey of the Writer and Speaker

Writing and speaking is not something we do for self-promotion or accolades. When saying “yes” to God in this area of ministry, we are saying “yes” to the surrender of following him enough to be vulnerable through the hard stuff of real life.

This sacred journey is a beautiful path that is often hard but filled with the possibility of writing a redemption story of encouragement to others. This session will look at the spiritual life of the writer and speaker.

Karen Ball

Write Your Passion!

Passion. You can’t write without it, nor can you build a solid career without it. So how do you avoid the things that will kill your writer’s passion?  Even more important, how can you nurture it? Come join us for an interactive exploration of what it means to write from a foundation of a God-breathed passion.

Creative Brainstorming

Few things are as fun—and helpful—as brainstorming with other writers! Whether you’ve tried it before or not, come join us in an interactive workshop where we explore—and test out—tools to make brainstorming more effective than ever before. Whether you’re brainstorming with one other person or a group, in person or online, come learn how to use this amazing writer’s tool.

Kim Bangs

How to Pitch Your Book Idea

For many there is nothing more frightening on this publishing journey then “pitching a book” idea to an agent or an editor. A fifteen minute appointment often begins with what has been called an “elevator pitch”: 30 to 120 seconds to present your idea to your audience and grab their interest. After that you have 13 to 14 ½ minutes to sell not only the book idea but also you as the author.

In this interactive workshop we’ll discover how to get the pitch right from second one to done (with insights shared from someone who has heard thousands of pitches–some that worked and some well, not so much.)

The Power of Your Premise

One of the most necessary, challenging, difficult and shortest items on your proposal is the premise statement (or the hook of the book).

In this workshop, we’ll discuss why a premise statement is such a critical element and how you can write it so that those who read your proposal (agents, editors and pub boards) “get it” and give your proposal a deeper look.

Judi Braddy

The Art & Craft of Writing: Words that Make Sense and Inspire

Surely everyone’s mother said it: “Whatever’s worth doing is worth doing well.” This is especially true regarding the ministry of Christian writing. Since every biblical truth carries the weight of eternity, it is imperative that we make certain it is communicated accurately, clearly and with excellence. Fact is, words put on paper—or computer—live longer than those simply spoken. (Some say internet postings may never be retracted—yikes!)

Here’s the good news: more care can be taken clarifying written words than spoken ones. One author defined writing as “refined thinking”. This means that if our words are to be taken seriously and shared liberally, they must be crafted carefully. This workshop for the aspiring writer offers insights from a seasoned author by exploring such topics as:

  • Establishing and developing your gift and calling
  • Learning the basic “nuts & bolts”
  • Finding ideas for stories
  • Deciding how far you wish to pursue it
  • Bonus: Handout on organizing your space, thoughts, and materials

The Business of Writing: Words That Sell

King Solomon said it long ago: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” If that’s true, how can we possibly expect to come up with anything that will attract an editor’s attention and end up in print?

Maybe it will help to be reminded that Solomon was also the guy who said “There’s a time and place for everything” and that he managed to write three of the most profound, poetic and provocative books of the Bible—Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. All made the Eternal Editor’s ‘cut’ and have been on the best-seller list for centuries.

This workshop for the aspiring writer offers insights from a seasoned author regarding the complete publishing process by exploring such topics as:

  • Finding fresh ideas that capture an editor’s attention
  • Crafting a compelling proposal
  • Exploring alternate publishing options
  • Understanding the complete publishing process
  • Determining the need for an agent
  • Keeping an optimistic outlook
  • Bonus: Handout on organizing your space, thoughts, and materials

Laura Christianson (WCCW Board Member)

Essential Elements of a WOWful Website

Does your website deliver a powerful, professional punch in two seconds or less? Or, are you embarrassed to send people to your website because it’s so awful?

If you answered “yes” to the second question, you’ll want to attend this workshop. Laura Christianson, who specializes in creating custom, mobile-friendly WordPress websites, will reveal the four most common causes of cringe-worthy websites and show you how to repair the damage.

Help for Facebook Fatigue

The average social media user spends 3.6 hours on social networks every day! How much of that time are you using effectively to grow your writing or speaking ministry?

If you suspect you’ve been frittering away your time on Facebook, it’s time to re-evaluate your goals. Come and learn techniques for gathering, scheduling, streamlining and analyzing Facebook content so you get the biggest bang for your time investment.

Marcus Corder

Finding the Heart of the Story (F/NF)

Some writers know exactly what a story is about from the moment they conceive the idea, and that focus never wavers. Then there’s most of us.

Do you have stories that started one way and diverged completely? Or drafts that seem disjointed or inconsistent? Does your prewriting process look like you’re writing in tongues? Do you find yourself speechless when someone asks what a story’s really about?

You’re not alone. But don’t ditch those drafts and false starts just yet. We may be able to perform some literary CPR.

In this workshop we’ll discuss:

  • How to figure out what makes a story tick.
  • How to excise fluff and filler so your story packs a punch.
  • The delicate yet brutal art of balancing lines of tension.

We’ll explore how to develop a cohesive focus before the writing process starts, and how to read your own draft like an editor so you can revise with purpose—and heart.

Please note: The workshop is geared toward writers of prose (fiction and narrative nonfiction). We’ll focus on the prewriting and revision process. The concepts and tools address short works (less than 10,000 words), though most apply in some fashion to longer works also.

Michele Cushatt (Keynote Speaker)

Speaking: Crafting a Powerful Presentation in a Fraction of the Time

The most challenging part of any presentation is what happens long before you hit the stage. You have several possible ideas, but where to begin?

How do you develop a message that is both practical and poignant? And how do make sure the heart of your message sticks with your audience long after you deliver it? After all, the goal isn’t a few moments of entertainment, but ongoing life change.

The secret lies in your preparation, not your delivery technique. If you know the anchors of your message, then each presentation becomes a powerhouse of opportunity to influence. Even better, you’ll also decrease your prep time, increase your clarity, and boost your confidence. It doesn’t get any more fun than that.  

Jane Daly (WCCW Board Member)

Finding Your Voice

Agents and editors say they’re looking for new authors with a strong voice. Many of us struggle with recognizing our unique voice in our writing. Why is voice so important? This workshop will help you find your voice, and how to use it in different genres and books. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, voice is the most important secret to a breakout writing career.

Jon Drury (Former WCCW Conference Director)

Devotionals and Devotional Articles

Short but life-changing. That’s daily devotionals, at 200 words some of the shortest pieces written for publication.  But the impact of these pieces can be great, bringing your reader to God. Often the story you share comes from your own journey. Devotionals are also a natural way to break into the writing market, learn your craft, and grow as a writer.

Devotional articles, though longer, deepen your reader’s connection to God. It also allows you to break into article writing, a huge market, both in print and online. And often a collection of articles is a natural step to a book. In the workshop we will cover each of these steps.

Suzanne Woods Fisher

Creative Non-fiction: Engage and Entertain

Merging the imaginative strategies of fiction storytelling and new ways of narrating true, real-life events, creative nonfiction is the fastest-growing part of the creative writing world—and the fastest-growing part of the market for books as well. It’s a cutting-edge genre that’s reshaping how we write (and read) everything from blogs and memoirs to biographies and magazine articles.

In this workshop, you will learn how to apply storytelling techniques to your nonfiction writing, including memoirs, essays, features, reviews, and blog posts.

We will borrow essential fiction elements—such as creating 3-dimensional characters, adding dialogue and beats, narration, plot, tension, and scenes—to increase the readability and (hopefully!) publish-ability of your work.

Susy Flory (WCCW Conference Director)

The Art of Memoir

A NYT bestselling memoirist teaches you how to use the events, high points, and challenges of your life (or someone else’s) to take your reader on the ride of their life.

Learn the art of memoir (hint: it’s not the same as history or biography), by exploring how to use structure, hooks, surprises, unforgettable characters, powerful beginnings and endings, and multiple climactic moments to create a page turner.

Cheri Gregory (WCCW Board Member)

How to Build the Perfect Platform and Become a Marketing Master

In this practical session, you’ll gain answers to questions like:

  • Who am I to build a platform?
  • What on earth is a platform, anyhow?
  • Why do I need a platform when all I want to do is write?
  • Where is the best place to build this platform?
  • When should I listen to platform-building “experts” (and when should I ignore them)?
  • How can my platform honor God, serve others, and create a return on my investment?

You’ll leave with a customized, concrete plan for:

  • discerning who is in your specific audience (and who isn’t)
  • determining exactly what kind of content to share for what purpose
  • discovering how to best connect with your audience

You’ll learn the marketing mistakes to avoid and the best platform-building practices to implement so you can discover—and meet—your audience’s deepest needs through the message of hope God’s given you to share.

Jeanette Hanscome

Secrets to a Successful Writing Career

  • “I want to be a writer, but I don’t know where to start.”
  • “When will I ever find enough time to write?”
  • “When will I start making money?”
  • “Everyone said I should write a book, but editors aren’t interested in it. What should I do now?”
  • “Lately all I have to show for my writing time is rejection. What am I doing wrong? Is it time to quit?”

Whether you are a complete newbie exploring the idea of writing for publication, or are waiting out a frustrating dry spell in a career that seemed to be taking off only to stall, you’ve asked at least one of the above questions.

This class will answer them and point you toward the next step. You will find out what it really takes to get started (or restarted) in today’s publishing industry. You will walk away with tools for overcoming rough patches, finding time to write, and build a career that can withstand crazy schedules, changes in the market, and the ups and downs of life that often become our best material.

Getting the Most Out of Your First Writers’ Conference

If this is your first writers’ conference you are probably excited, nervous, and a little bit overwhelmed. This workshop is designed to answer your questions, and offer tips and tools for making your first conference experience a fun and fulfilling one. We will cover:

  • Why writers’ conference are important
  • Realistic goals and expectations
  • How to choose workshops
  • How to benefit from the Coaching and Critiquing Team
  • How to make a good impression on an editor or agent
  • Handling discouragement and disappointment
  • The value of relationships
  • How a smaller conference can help you prepare for a larger one like Mount Hermon

Marilyn Hilton

Writing Today’s Young-Adult Fiction

Today’s young-adult (YA) literature is not what it was twenty—or even five—years ago. Today’s YA fiction is honest, daring, authentic, diverse, and emotionally compelling. It takes risks, it sets trends, and it doesn’t always have a happy ending (though it can be hopeful).

Readers of YA fiction expect an entertaining, thought-provoking, emotional story told by a confident and authentic voice. They’re sophisticated consumers who make their own purchasing decisions, and they’re savvy promoters who can influence the success or failure of a book.

For first-time authors of YA, writing a compelling story can be a daunting challenge. But if you have a story to tell for readers 13-18 years and older*, then you must write it.

In this workshop, we’ll survey some of today’s best-selling YA fiction, define young-adult fiction and compare it with literature for other age groups), and outline what to do and avoid as you develop and write your story. Bring an idea or the first page of your YA novel, and your questions.

*According to a 2012 market survey reported in Publishers Weekly, 55 percent of YA readers are adults.

Mona Hodgson

Breaking Into Children’s Writing

You want to write for children, but where do you begin? With an agent? Without an agent? What age group should you write for? What is the right format for my idea? How do I get an editor’s attention?

In this workshop, Mona will answer these questions and many more.

Basics of Writing for Children 0-12

Come learn about age group breakdowns, book formats, and submission formats. But, wait, there’s more–participants will also receive an overview of how to write and submit board books, picture books, early readers, and middle grade fiction and nonfiction, including age groups breakdowns and submission formats.

David Hyde

Screenwriting A to Z

In Screenwriting A to Z, we’ll cover everything screenwriting, from formatting and story, to marketing and sales. Screenwriting is like no other writing with its own quirky rules of format and content all the way to its own specialized marketplace.

While self-publishing has come within reach of many a novelist, self producing in the film industry is still a long way off for the average writer. To succeed in screenwriting you need a great story, but you also need to know how to write that story and where to market the finished product. Whether you have in mind to write for TV or Feature Film, Independent or Hollywood studio the foundations we will discuss are all the same.

Subject that will be covered include:

  • Edit, Edit Cut!
  • No Ifs, Ands, or Butts (no, that is not a typo)
  • Fight! Fight! – giving your story enough conflict
  • The Cure for the Common Cold Shoulder
  • Wishes, Dreams, and Goals – a practical look at what can come true

Kathy Ide

Proofreading and Editing for Yourself and Others

Everything you write needs to be thoroughly edited and carefully proofread. In this workshop, professional freelance editor, Kathy Ide, will cover seven levels of editing that will make your writing shine and turn your good prose into a stellar manuscript that publishers and readers will love.

She will also discuss why proofreading and editing are so important, how to catch typos and inconsistencies, and where to find the industry-standard guidelines for Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling (which Kathy likes to call “PUGS”).

This workshop will equip you to better proofread your own manuscripts and those of your critique partners. And if you enjoy learning the skills covered in this workshop, you may have the right temperament to become a professional freelance proofreader yourself! Kathy will share how she started her business and offers tips for those who’d like to give it a try.

Top Ten Myths of Becoming a Published Author (FRESHMAN)

Most people have no idea what’s involved in getting a book from idea to publication. The general public has a lot of misconceptions about what it takes to get published.

In this workshop, Kathy Ide uses video clips from Everybody Loves Raymond, Frazier, and Anne of Green Gables to share what she considers to be the Top Ten Myths of Becoming a Published Author.

Kathy debunks these false encouragements:

  • “Anyone can write a book.”
  • “Writing a book is quick and easy.”
  • “Getting published is quick and easy.”
  • “After I find a publisher for my book, I’m done.”
  • “Writing books is a lucrative career.”

Wendy Lawton

All About Agents

Everything you always wanted to know about working with an agent.

How to Know You’re Ready for An Agent

Is it best to have an agent long before you’ve published?

After you’ve had an offer?

Well into your career when things start getting really confusing?

Wendy Lawton will talk about the pros and cons of each. Plenty of time will be left open in the session to address specific questions about your own career and agents.

Tosca Lee (Keynote Speaker)

10 Secrets of a NYT Bestselling Author

During this interactive session, we’ll cover personal motivation; practical, tough love advice to reach the finish line; harnessing our personal and writing strengths; crafting stories readers can’t put down, and perspective on both rejection and success.

Kathi & Roger Lipp

Marketing Boot Camp, Parts 1 and 2

If you want to be an author, you have to be a speaker (and the other way around). Every publishing house is looking for an author with a platform and want someone who knows how to market their own book. (The days of multi-city book tours and over-paid publicists are a thing of the past. If you want a better chance of getting a book published, learning how to market the book, your message, and yourself are critical.

Mike Lynch

Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

You’ve decided to write your book, short story or article. Great. Your next decision is probably just as important as the story itself–which medium will you publish your work: traditional publishing or self-publishing?

Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, which can be difficult to navigate if the writer doesn’t understand how they work. This workshop will explore the benefits and pitfalls of each, what is expected of the writer and publisher, and which choice is the right one for you.

Dana Mentink

A Labor of Love: The Ins and Outs of Writing Christian Romance

Dana will share her own inspiring journey about how a stay-at-home mom launched a career as a bestselling romance writer. She will offer some fascinating facts and figures about the romance industry, and the current market.

Attendees will learn about the elements of a Christian romance and enjoy a Q and A to discuss five frequently asked questions about the wacky world of romance writing. The workshop will be interactive with plenty of time for audience participation.

Robynne Miller (Robynne Cole-Feavearyear)

Blogging Your Way to a Book Deal

There are many ways to get published these days. . .from the not-so-accepted vanity presses to legitimate self-publishing right through to the traditional agent-and-publisher route.

But what, exactly, should you be attempting TO publish?

If a lengthy novel is not your cup of writing tea… or you have some great nonfiction ideas, but none of them seem book length… or you have a passion for and expertise in a particular subject, but don’t know how to craft it into a larger project, this workshop is for you!

We’ll explore how you can use the medium of blogging to blog your book into existence and what to do with it when you’re done. What’s more, we’ll discuss how this method of writing can pull triple duty: Fleshing out your book, establishing you as an authority in your subject, AND build that all-important “platform” agents and publishers are always talking about!

Whether you’re writing nonfiction, devotionals, or even fiction, together we’ll map out an attack plan to turn your blog into the launch pad for a book deal!

Sarah Sundin

Crafting Characters

We want to create characters who feel as real to our readers as they do to us. We want multi-dimensional characters with strengths and weaknesses, quirks and flaws, hurts and secrets, fears and dreams. We want our readers to unconsciously look for our characters on the street. We want them to wonder what the character is doing right now and to think about them long after the book is closed.

Just as we are all affected by nature (how we were created), nurture (how the world has shaped us), and experience (what we have done in the world), so are the best-crafted characters. Delving deep into our characters helps us see how they’ll act and react throughout the story.

In this workshop we’ll get to know our characters from the outside in, gaining insight to make our stories deeper and richer.

Making Fiction Come to Life

“I felt like I was there!”

That’s some of the highest praise a novelist can receive. As readers, we’ve all become so immersed in a story that we forget the world around us. As writers, we want to create that same experience for our readers.

In this workshop, we’ll explore ways to draw readers into our stories. For our plots, we’ll look at story structure, research, and pitfalls to avoid.

For our characters, we’ll think about point-of-view, character arcs, and staying true to personality and background.

For our settings, we’ll look at sensory details, research, and techniques to describe the story world without overwhelming the reader with details.

Your story is real to you—and you can learn to make it real for your readers.

Beth Thompson (Founder of Inspire Christian Writers)

Writing with Friends: Plug into the Power of a Critique Group

As the founder and past president of Inspire Christian Writers, Beth Thompson has trained writers in the craft of writing and the art of critique for over fifteen years.

In Writing with Friends, Beth will explain why critique groups are essential and how they work. She’ll explore some of the potential pitfalls and how to overcome them.

Writers need each other! Learn how to find or create a writing community that provides the feedback, accountability, and encouragement you need. You’ll learn how to support others on their writing journey while growing your Christian writing ministry.

James Watkins

Twenty-Five Rejection-Proof Markets

Writing opportunities that well-known writers have employed to truly change lives–and avoid rejection slips. Many of these proven writing ministries can be implemented immediately without waiting months–or years–to be traditionally published in books and articles.

Additional Info

Visit the Faculty page to peruse faculty bios. And be sure to “meet” our two keynote speakers, Michele Cushatt and Tosca Lee.

For details about the full conference schedule, visit the Conference Schedule page.

“I have been to dozens of conferences and WCCW created an environment I had not felt before; of being in a unique, special, interesting family and feeling tremendously encouraged!  I loved that feeling. Well done.”

-Greg Hurley