Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Sign, Signs, Everywhere a Sign by April Carpenter

Are you paying attention to God’s signs?

A sign, signs, everywhere a sign, has been playing in my head recently. You know the 1971 song from the 5 Man Electric Band? 

Because of this song, I added a sign to my office door at home, for the kids not to bother me while I’m writing. It says, “Taking time for me.”
Does it keep them from knocking on my door? NO.
Does it keep my husband for yelling, “Honey, where’s my dinner?” NO.
Here’s your first sign to come to the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference on March 7th.  The sign reads….
I hear you saying, “I don’t have the time,” or “I went to the conference last year, why should I go again?” These are just excuses. Your family can function for one day without you. Trust me I know.   Everyone needs encouragement, and to be with likeminded people.
I was honored to speak at my church before Christmas regarding my personal prayer journey. I shared with the group the writing I was doing concerning what the Bible says about verbal abuse. I also explained why I hadn’t completed this book yet. I said, “This is a hard topic to write about. I can work on it for a while and then I have to put it aside.”
After the talk, two people stopped to tell me, “Please finish your book, I would buy it and share it with women I know who are in abusive situations.”
HMMMM I thought, was this a sign?
If God has given you sign after sign, “Write for me,” or if every other day God blesses you with a great idea for an article or character, I feel that these are signs. In order to serve God 100% writers must hone their craft; because for me writing doesn’t come very easily.
The sign reads for me today, “Come away with me for a while….. God.”
When God speaks I make a plan so I can be obedient. One way to be obedient is to prepare.  When I have taken the time to learn about the craft of writing then I see results. God gives me new characters and the ability to tweak old characters, among other things. Attending conferences for me is my way of preparing and to get encouragement.
What are the signs in your life, regarding your writing, that you have been avoiding or not noticing? Please friends, I encourage you to come to the conference.  Now the sign reads, “Won’t you join us?”
(C)April Smith Carpenter

Meet April!

April Smith Carpenter is excited to return as the MSCW conference director for the second year. She is an avid daily journal writer, aerobics enthusiast, a marching band/thespian mom, and writer on the fly. She has published articles in Memphis Parent Magazine, DeSoto Appeal, DeSoto Times Tribune, and Parent Guide News. She covers a wide variety of topics with a particular focus on parenting, sports, and women’s health issues. Two of her stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul book series.  Smith Carpenter proudly serves as President of the Byhalia Christian Writers (BCW).  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Unexpected Benefit of Attending a Writers Conference by Johnnie Alexander

I attended my first major conference, the Florida Christian Writers Conference, in February 2007. This was a milestone on my road to publication.

Not because I wowed agents and editors with my sparkling writing style, can't-put-it-down manuscript, or charisma.

Believe me, none of those things were true.

But I met four women, three of them first-timers like me, who dreamed of sharing their unique messages with others.

They were the answer to the prayer I prayed on my drive to the conference.

"Please, God," I whispered. "Give me someone to eat meals with."

And He did.

These new friends and I ate together, attended workshops together, prayed together, and supported each other.

We also formed an online critique group that actually worked. (Until then, I didn't even know what a critique group was!)

Even better, our friendships deepened and strengthened. Though we seldom see each other, these women are four of my closest and dearest friends.

Workshops and keynotes are important elements of a conference. But so is the opportunity to meet other people who share your writing dreams.

When you attend this year's Mid-South Christian Writers Conference, you'll go home with your notebook full of great information.

You might also meet people who will become your critique partners and, better yet, your lifelong friends.

Won't you join us?

Meet Johnnie!

Johnnie Alexander is the author of Where Treasure Hides which won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011 Historical Fiction). The first of her three contemporary romances, tentatively titled Into a Spacious Place, releases from Revell in January 2016.

She also has won the Best Novel and Best Writer awards at the Florida Christian Writers Conference is a 2012 Bronze Medalist in the My Book Therapy Frasier Contest.

A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie lives in the Memphis area with a small herd of alpacas, her dogs Rugby and Skye, and assorted other animals.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Oh, Me of Little Faith by Tracy Crump

A new writers conference? It sounded nice—to have a conference right here in the Mid-South. But every time someone in our group brought up the subject, all I could focus on were the negatives. Our group was too small to facilitate a conference. We had no money to pay speakers or rent a venue. The economy was bad. Other conferences that had been around for years were seeing major drops in attendance. This was not a good idea.

Eventually, April Carpenter made an executive decision—“We’re going to hold a conference, and I’m going to direct it. I need volunteers.”

My hand went up of its own accord. I not only volunteered to lead a workshop but also act as registrar and coordinate the website construction. What was I thinking? My parents were in very poor health, and their demands on my time left me little occasion to write, much less work a conference.

Then Jeris Hamm came on board as marketing director. Her enthusiasm was contagious, but every time she expressed concerns about overflowing a room large enough to accommodate seventy attendees, my negative side resurfaced. I told her not to worry. We’d be lucky to have twenty-five. She finally had to tell me to stop. I was dampening her enthusiasm.

The day of the conference arrived, and everything was going beautifully. And yes, more people registered than I’d expected. Halfway through the first keynote address, Jeris came out to the registration table and asked how many attendees we had.


“Oh, my goodness!” she said. “When I signed on as marketing director, I prayed for fifty attendees.”

“Oh, my goodness!” I said. “One of the registrations was complimentary. We have exactly fifty paid attendees.”

My lack of faith never dampens God’s plans. He counters every no with a yes, every negative with a positive. He knew who needed to attend our conference, and He brought every writer who needed to hone skills, network with others, and be encouraged.

Now we’re doing it all over again. How about you? Is God calling you to develop your talents for His glory? Join us at the 2015 Mid-South Christian Writers Conference on March 7.

 Meet Tracy!
Tracy Crump has published articles in Focus on the Family, Mature Living, ParentLife, Light & Life, and other national magazines. A dozen of her stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and she has written numerous devotionals for publication. Tracy has served on staff at writers conferences and co-founded Write to Life workshops with Marylane Wade Koch. Together they present one-day workshops and webinars and co-edit The Write Life, a free monthly e-newsletter which includes story callouts. Visit Tracy at www.WriteLifeWorkshops.com.
Tracy will be presenting a workshop titled Writers' Rights at this year's conference..

For more information, please visit the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference website.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 MidSouth Christian Writers Conference Welcomes Vonda Skelton

Theme: Writing for the Ages

Vonda Skelton, nationally recognized speaker and author, is this year’s keynote speaker. She is founder and co-director of Christian Communicators, a conference and community dedicated to educating, validating, and launching women in their speaking ministries. She is an occasional actress in film, theater, and commercials, and she is currently working on a screenplay. You can find out more about Vonda and her ministry at VondaSkelton.com.
In addition to delivering two keynote messages, Vonda will be presenting a workshop titled: Writing for Children: One Size Does NOT Fit All.
For more information about this year's workshops and speakers, please visit to the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference website.
Registration information available here.
Be sure to check back often for posts from our speakers and additional information.




Monday, March 31, 2014

Did You Remember Your Gift?

The first Mid-South Christian Writers Conference is now a part of our shared memories. 

What a great time we had! We made new friends, plotted social media strategies, and crammed in everything we could about how to publish, write, and GET OUT THERE.

Before our enthusiasm cools, we need to channel that excitement into . . . uh, work.

God has called us. He's equipped us. We have each other for pep talks and encouragement. Now it's up to us. Where do we go from here?

During the workshop I taught, I encouraged the class to remember that we've all been given a special gift.

But the gift of writing is sometimes left on the shelf of a dark closet, in a room we rarely go in to. 

It's time to open the door, flip on the light, and embrace our beautiful gift!

As our gift is unwrapped, the bright-colored paper and curly ribbon will fall away. We might frown at the plain brown box underneath. And when the top of the carton is lifted, disappointment could follow as we realize our gift is in pieces.

Like my kids' favorite Christmas toys, our gift could have tedious instructions and need careful crafting to put it all together.

As a hoped-for puppy, our gift may need feeding and care. Although we might love our gift and nurture it, we could get back something we don't want. Something like what's left on the puppy's newspaper and needs throwing out. Quickly.

On a classier note, our gift could be a hidden gem, like an antique chandelier that needs gentle polishing before it sparkles with light.

Writing needs to be well-crafted, clean, and polished. Most of all, our gift of words should bring understanding, beauty, and truth into the world.

So there's work to be done. With a plan for success, our wild Twister game becomes Stratego.

Ready to unwrap your gift?


Thursday, March 6, 2014

My Own Worst Enemy

Register for the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference www.midsouthchristianwriters.com

Guest Blogger: Loretta Eidson

Attending my first writer’s conference was a nail-biting experience. I’d never strayed too far from home without my husband or a friend by my side, but my desire to learn and connect with fellow writers over-rode my fear of going solo. It took determination and a lot of prayer to fight the inner battles of my mind, before I could jump the hurdle of insecurity and dare to believe in myself.

The day I arrived at that first conference my stomach twisted with pangs of ignorance. I felt inferior to the vibrancy and successes of others. People laughed and talked like they were the best of friends, which left me feeling like the outsider. Their conversations consisted of terms I didn’t understand, so I avoided any interaction. I was my own worst enemy.

God didn’t let me back down. He gently persuaded me to pursue the desires of my heart and overcome my introverted ways. I pressed forward, trusting Him to grant me courage.

Since then, I’ve attended several conferences over the past five years. I have grown very fond of these opportunities to meet with writers on every level. It’s now invigorating and motivating to talk to others who share the same interests.

 I’ve learned that every writer faces those moments of doubt and uncertainty. That’s why it’s so important to come together as a group, like a conference, to seek out answers, discover new ideas, and make new friends. I am proof that writer’s conferences can turn an introvert into an extrovert with a smooth transition.

It is my desire to help the new writer feel better equipped by making each one aware of terms and words writers use. To have a general understanding of these words will help boost self-confidence in writing and in conversing with others. I call it Understanding Writer’s Lingo.

The Mid-South Christian Writers Conference is a great starting place for the beginning writer, as well as an educational experience for all who attend. It’s just the right size to keep anyone from being overwhelmed, and is packed with talented speakers. Taking advantage of this conference opportunity will boost confidence, increase writing knowledge, and energize motivation.

Loretta Eidson is a Craftsman Alumni with the Christian Writers Guild. She is published in several non-fiction compilations. She is presently writing a romantic suspense trilogy, and was a semi-finalist in the 2013 Genesis Contest awarded by American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Heart of America Christian Writers Network, Christian Writers Guild, and the Byhalia Christian Writers. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Meditation for Christian Writers

(Register for the Mid-South Christian Writers conference at

by Emily M. Akin

Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets. Luke 5:5 (NIV).

Some of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen. When He called them, He didn’t offer a lot of explanation on what they would be doing or how they would do it. Jesus simply said, “Come, follow me. I will make you fishers of men.” 

They were professional fishermen, so they already had the knowledge and skill to catch fish. Jesus wanted them to use their skills to bring people to Him. Sometimes, they were discouraged because they were not getting results.

As Christian writers we are also disciples of Jesus, we are called to go fishing for people in different ways. We have gifts, talents, and skills that God has given us. Like the disciples, we want to learn how to use them to spread the gospel. And we get discouraged, too.

Fishing in Bible times was tough, physical work. They didn’t use powerboats, rods, and reels. They rowed or sailed to the fishing spot. Then they cast heavy nets out to haul in lots of fish at one time. No snoozing on the pier for these fishermen. They worked hard, yet sometimes they wondered if they were getting results.

We writers often wonder if writing is what we're supposed to do with our gifts. We sometimes doubt whether we should continue. That’s OK. Even Jesus’ disciples had doubts. We can do what they did—keep fishing. We can cast our nets for new ideas. We can talk to other writers or non-writer friends about faith, mission, or just about writing in general. We can attend conferences to keep our skills up-to-date and share our experience with other writers.

Prayer: Lord, show us how You want us to use our gifts and talents. Give us a fisherman's net full of inspiration to jumpstart our writing ministries. Amen.

Emily M. Akin is a writer, editor, and blogger who blogs at http://blog4writers.com. She will be presenting a workshop, Write What You Know: Finding Stories in Everyday Life, at MSCWC on March 8.