Psssst… Want to Get Published?

“You’re a writer? Really? So, how did you get your start?”

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question. Fortunately, I have a ready answer: “I went to a good writers conference!”

When I first started writing, I had no clue what I was doing. All I knew was that from the time I was 12, I wanted to be a writer. Time was passing, so it was high time I got going. A friend invited me to go with her to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in California’s beautiful Santa Cruz mountains. She backed out, so I went alone. I arrived to cherry blossoms breezing across the road and dogwood trees just beginning to open their pink and white cross-scarred blooms. More importantly, friendly writers and un-intimidating editors strolled close enough for me talk to.

I hurried over to an editor and proudly handed her my amazingly well-written children’s book manuscript. She was amazingly underwhelmed. (Her exact words: “Keep writing, dear. You’ll get better.” Ouch!) My first inclination was to take the next bus home. Instead, I attended a Major Morning instruction class on the craft of writing (8 hours total) that turned out to be tremendous.  Plus I took in a plethora of workshops, and I spent my off-time rewriting like a crazy person. The result was my first published book.

That’s how I got started. And it is just one of the reasons I’m so quick to recommend writers’ conferences to writers–especially those starting out.

If you’re wondering whether or not you should take the time, and lay out the bucks, to attend such a conference, consider:

  1. You will get expert training. Most of what I know I learned at writers’ conferences. Believe it or not, the biggest reason manuscripts are rejected is because the writing isn’t up to par. Your writing may be good. Perhaps even really good. But to be published, it has to be great enough to stand out in today’s glutted market.
  2. You can get individual instruction. In some of the best writers’conferences, special mentoring tracks are available. (They are at Mount Hermon.) A published writer works with you and your manuscript to help you zero in on whatever it is you need the most.
  3. You can “network.” Okay, I don’t really like that word. In fact, I’m not that crazy about the concept. Gathering up people in order to use them? Uggg! But it can also mean easing into a group of people with the same struggles and concerns you have, where you can gain mutual support and wisdom. That’s a concept I do like!
  4. Hear challenging presentations. Most great conferences have a keynote speaker who is way more than just entertaining. He/she is an expert in the field of writing and has helpful, inspiring words to share.
  5. Interact with the Pros. Yes, pros. As in editors and publishers and agents and such. They are at the conference for one simple reason: to meet people like you. They want to read your work and consider it. They want to help you be all you can be as a writer.

Some really good writers’ conferences are coming up. But I especially want to mention the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference that’s just over a month away: April 7 – April 10. Need an extra boost to get started? Check out the “head-start” offering the day before.

So, you ask, “Will you be there, Kay?”
Will I?! Couldn’t keep me away!

For more info check out:  mounthermon.org/writers
Want to talk to a real live someone? Call 888-MH-CAMPS

About kaystrom

Kay Marshall Strom, who am I? Well, I’m a traveler, a railer against social injustice, a passionate citizen of the world. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m a 21st century abolitionist who speaks out against slavery of all kinds. I am a beach walker and a gardener and the off-key singer of songs. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Most people, though, know me as a writer and a speaker. So here is a bit more about that part of my life: Of my 43 published books, eight have been book club selections, seventeen have been translated into foreign languages, and two have been optioned for movies. My writing credits include numerous magazine articles, books for children, short stories, television scripts and two prize-winning screenplays. Along with my husband Dan, I also have produced a series of booklets for writers. My writing has appeared in a number of volumes including three versions of the NIV Devotional Bible and the devotional book My Heart, Christ’s Home, Through the Year. I love to write, and I love to share about topics close to my heart. I speak at seminars, retreats, writer’s conferences, and special events throughout the country. And because I do enjoy travel, I even speak on cruise ships! More and more my writing and speaking are drawing me to countries and cultures around the world. Because I don’t see how a writer can really reflect another people and land without spending time there, I’ve been trekking through India, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sudan, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, tape recorder and camera in hand, to gather stories from the world-wide family of God and to speak on their behalf. I’ve traveled to the hard places of the world to tell “the rest of the story” of our donor dollars at work. Thanks to my “virtual friendship” with 17th century John Newton, slave ship captain turned preacher, I traveled through Ireland with the preview team of the movie Amazing Grace (John wrote the hymn). I recently spoke in Japan and South Korea, and my husband Dan and I taught writing classes in India. And, oh, how thankful I am for every bit of it! I went to West Africa to work on a non-fiction book, but when I toured an old slave fortress off the coast and saw a tiny set of baby manacles bolted to the wall, I was struck dumb. All I could think was: “How could good, God-fearing people ever get to the place where they think that is okay?” From that horror came a story question, and from that question, my foray into fiction: The Grace in Africa trilogy. My seven trips to India led to the Blessings in India fiction trilogy. Come join me as I travel and rail against injustice. Join me as I walk along the beach, or work in the garden, or warble a tune. Be my friend. Maybe you will choose to also be a 21st century abolitionist.
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6 Responses to Psssst… Want to Get Published?

  1. B.J. Taylor says:

    Mount Hermon’s conference is so very helpful, supportive, and encouraging to writers at all levels in their writing career. I highly recommend it!

  2. Jean Stewart says:

    Mt. Hermon left me inspired and redirected toward a writing career because of kind, honest, helpful input from the editors, publishers, and writers there. And that includes YOU, dear Kay. The place, the people, the learning and sharing are life-altering. Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Kay. And B.J., too.

  3. Laura Bennet says:

    I’m so grateful for the Mount Hermon Writers Conference and you, Kay! You were there with such helpful advice when I was a wide-eyed newbie. I’ve sure missed it these past few years! Thank you!

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