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

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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

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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 She will be presenting a workshop, Write What You Know: Finding Stories in Everyday Life, at MSCWC on March 8.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Word from our MSCWC Director, April Carpenter

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Do you remember the song by Mac Davis entitled Stop and Smell the Roses? As conference director, the theme in my life has been stop and do things right! James Michener once said “I’m not a very good writer but I’m an excellent rewriter.” That says it all for me. With God’s help and lots of people praying for me, here is my blog post!

I want to share with you why I love attending writer’s conferences. For first time attendees, I have also included some tips on what to expect at your first conference.

One reason is because you meet a variety of people. This was part of the vision months ago when we started our initial planning. God seemed to be telling us to reach as many people as possible in all genres, ages, and stages in their writing careers. I am encouraging you to come with a great attitude and be prepared to meet people. This is not the time to be a wallflower. Bring business cards with you and be prepared to tell your new friends (in 30 seconds or less) what your writing passion includes.

In May of 2009 I attended the Colorado Christian Writers conference and roomed with a great woman from Oklahoma. At this point in my career I categorized myself as a non-fiction writer. I was adamant about non-fiction. My roomie was a historical fiction writer and she was very passionate about her current book. Her passion opened my tunnel vision eyes to writing fiction. I read her book and thought Wow. I want to write historical fiction.  Since meeting her I have expanded my writing to also include fiction. We’re praying for God to open your eyes and ears on March 8th. Come without blinders on, come with an open heart and receive what God has planned for you.

Another reason why I love attending writing conferences is because you leave the conference ON FIRE! If this conference sparks one thing in you, and that in turn helps you in your writing, then we have accomplished one of our goals. My personal goal after our conference is NOT to let the spark go out, ever! What are your personal goals for writing? Trust me when I say the people you meet will ask, “What sort of writing do you do?” and “What are you working on at the moment?” Take time to ponder why you write and why you feel called to write.

The day of a writing conference brings me into self-awareness. You can say that I stop and smell the roses. I let the world continue doing what it is doing and I become fully present. I am painfully aware of what writing I have done and not done. Conferences help me to refocus my commitment to God and His plan for my writing. I seek forgiveness from God and then I forgive myself. And then I make a plan to get back to writing. “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:5.

Whether this is your first conference or fifty-first conference, we’re so excited you have chosen to join us. We understand firsthand that you have a personal investment in this conference. You’re investing your time, energy and money. We haven’t taken your commitment lightly. We know that writing can be a solitary activity. Come prepared to learn something new and to receive reaffirming encouragement and a lot of camaraderie.

We’re beyond words with excitement about this conference and we’re praising God now for the blessings to come. I’m looking forward to stopping and smelling the roses with you on March 8th! Can’t wait to meet you!

April Carpenter, Conference Director

April Carpenter has published articles in Memphis Parent Magazine, The Desoto Appeal, and The Desoto Times Tribune. Two of her stories about her children and her marriage have been published in two Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She proudly serves as president of Byhalia Christian Writers.