2018 Writer’s Conference Faculty, Workshop Descriptions & Schedule

For overview information and registration link, click here.

Conference schedule (may be subject to change)

Time Track 1 Track 2 Track 3 Extras
8:30 – 9:00 Check-in and light breakfast
9:00 – 9:30 Prayer, Devotion, and Worship
9:30 – 10:25 Keynote: Crushing the Chaos: The Parallel Journey of Faith, Frenzy, and Freedom: Ronie Kendig
10:30 – 11:25 General Session: Mind Magic: Ronie Kendig
11:25 – 12:10 The Crown Award Luncheon
12:15 – 1:10 Linda Rondeau: 5 Things an Editor Most Wants to See (Intermediate Level) Misty M. Beller: Marketing a New Book Release (Intermediate Level) Dina Sleiman: Advanced Plot Structures (Advanced Level) Special Guest appointments
1:15 – 2:10 Zoe M. McCarthy: Send Your Characters on a Journey: Learn to Plot Using the Hero’s Journey (Beginner Level) Donna L. H. Smith: Plunging the Depths of Deep POV (Intermediate Level) Heather Gray: Being Christian in an Industry That’s Anything But (Intermediate Level) Special Guest appointments
2:15 – 3:10 A. E. Schwartz: The Female Protagonist: Creating a Character Readers Will Want to Spend Time With (Intermediate Level) Ruth Morris: World Building (Intermediate Level) Lynn Blackburn: Upping the Suspense to Create Un-put-downable Novels Special Guest appointments
3:15 – 3:50 General Session, Q&A Like Crazy (Panel)
3:50 – 4:00 Conference Closing


Ronie Kendig

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author of over twenty titles. She grew up an Army brat, and now she and her Army-veteran husband live a short train ride from New York City with their children and retired military working dog. Ronie’s degree in psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters. Visit Ronie online at: www.roniekendig.com.

Intermediate Level. Mind Magic: Tips & Tricks to Capture Your Reading Audience (Fiction and Nonfiction)
Learn some “sleight of hand” maneuvers to psychologically capture your readers—without them realizing it! This workshop is not limited by genre. There are elements in writing that will either spur your reader to maintain the journey or divert them to the nearest exit. This workshop looks at visual construction as well as psychological impressions. It’s almost like cheating, using the right techniques, words, sentence structure, and other aspects of writing that have psychological value.

Linda Rondeau

Nominated for Editor of the Year award for her work with Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. Linda serves as both a senior editor and acquisitions editor. She is the author of eight novels, including her award-winning book, The Other Side of Darkness, and her most recent release, Hosea’s Heart. Additionally, she has received awards and nominations from Writers Digest, Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conferences, and American Christian Fiction Writers. Linda writes to encourage those whose lives have taken a few wrong directions Her stories demonstrate our worst past, surrendered to God, becomes our best future and reminds us that God is sovereign over our yesterdays, today, and tomorrows.

Intermediate Level. Five Things an Editor Most Wants to See.
Editors are looking for well-crafted stories, strong characters, logical plot progression, clearly defined message or goal, and marketability to target audience.

Misty M. Beller

Misty M. Beller is the managing editor of Wild Heart Books, a traditional publisher focusing in Christian Historical Romance novels. She’s also a successful author in her own right with 15 novels published, as well as a non-fiction book for authors, How to Market a Book Release. After over ten years working in professional project management and marketing, Misty uses her experience in the corporate world to develop best practices in her writing and book marketing efforts. It is her passion to help other authors on this same journey.

Intermediate Level. Marketing a New Book Release.

Step by step strategies to supercharge your new book release. Learn the comprehensive approaches to reach both previous fans and new readers during a book launch.

Dina Sleiman

True teaching must take place both head to head and heart to heart, and I am passionate to assist novelists in developing the gifts that God has given them. I am currently published with Bethany House, Zondervan, and WhiteFire, and the 2016 Carol Award Winner for young adult fiction. In addition, I have served as an editor for WhiteFire Publishing for over four years. I love to put my M.A. in Professional Writing to work by teaching aspiring novelists, and I have taught at writers conferences throughout the U.S including Philadelphia, Colorado, Blue Ridge, and Lancaster. Learn more about me and my books at http://dinasleiman.com.

Advanced Level. Advanced Plot Structures.

Whether you want to break out of category fiction, bring more excitement to your writing, or just become a stronger content editor, this class will examine plot in depth as well as present a number of advanced, elaborate plot structures.

Zoe M. McCarthy

A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy, is the author of five books including Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, The Putting Green Whisper, and The Invisible Woman in a Red Dress. She writes contemporary Christian romances involving tenderness and humor. Believing opposites distract, Zoe creates heroes and heroines who learn to embrace their differences. When she’s not writing, Zoe enjoys her six grandchildren, teaching Bible studies, leading workshops on writing, knitting and crocheting shawls for a prayer shawl ministry, and canoeing. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Zoe blogs regularly at www.zoemmccarthy.com.

Beginner Level. Send Your Characters on a Journey: Learn to Plot Using the Hero’s Journey.
Participants will learn how to use the popular plotting aid, the Hero’s Journey. They’ll learn what the twelve stages are and how they fit into a three-act structure. They’ll observe how the twelve stages play out in the movie, Love Comes Softly. Participants will leave the class better able to identify the plot holes they may have in their stories.

Donna L.H. Smith

Donna L.H. Smith is a Kansas prairie girl transplanted to Lancaster County, PA. She’s the Managing Editor of www.almostanauthor.com, one of 2018’s Top 101 Best Websites for Writers from Writer’s Digest and serves as ACFW Mid-Atlantic Zone Director. She is also a member of AWSA’s Protégé program (Advanced Writers & Speaker’s Association). Her education includes Christian Writer’s Guild Craftsman program and she holds a B.S. in Telecommunications (broadcasting) from (Oral Roberts University) and a M.A. in Mass Communication from WSU (Wichita State University).

Intermediate Level. Plunging the Depths of Deep POV.
What is Deep POV? Why is it important to develop the skill of writing deep POV? In this workshop, you’ll learn techniques to bring your characters’ thoughts to life within your manuscript, making your story impossible to put down. A deeper understanding of show v. tell may also result from this study through many examples.  Homework assignments will be given for you to continue skill development long after the workshop is over.

Heather Gray

Heather Gray is a multi-published author who has books with a small press as well as independently published. She served as Vice President of Virginia’s ACFW chapter for two years, has handled social media marketing for an Alabama-based small press, and regularly mentors new authors on how to launch their debut novels and what to expect from that launch. With a split personality that bounces back and forth between creative and business-minded, Heather has found herself at home in the writing world where both are in high demand. She can be found at www.heathergraywriting.com.

Intermediate Level. Being Christian in an Industry That’s Anything But.
In a world that does it’s best to pull us away from God and an industry that constantly encourage us to compare ourselves to others, it’s hard to remember who we are in Christ. Stumbling blocks – including bad reviews and the success of other authors – can trip us up, have us stumbling around in the dark, and make us question our worth and our identity in Christ. We’re going to take a look at some of the common spiritual battles that authors face, what God has to say about them, and what it looks like to walk in the truth of His Word.

A.E. Schwartz

A. E. Schwartz’s writing has received praise from bestselling authors Lynette Eason and Robert Dugoni. She has served as an editor for Destiny House Publishers and for bestselling author Steven James. Passionate about telling riveting stories with a deep emotional core, A. E. provides Christian audiences with previously unexplored storylines in suspense. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s busy coaching authors on the craft of fiction. Visit her website at www.authoraeschwartz.com.

Intermediate Level. The Female Protagonist: Creating a Character Readers Will Want to Spend Time With.

It’s no mystery that powerful female protagonists in fiction are becoming the norm. But how can authors craft strong female leads without coming across as mean or unsympathetic? Where and how should gentleness and vulnerabilities appear? In this workshop, you’ll learn some of the pitfalls that authors who write female characters face, and how to craft your heroine in a way that shuns stereotypes and helps her come across as believable.

Ruth Morris

Ruth Morris is a retired teacher with Masters in Christian School Education and Professional Writing/Journalism. She has written workbooks, brochures, and video scripts for several ministries. Her current project is a three volume fantasy series set in the Caparian world. Her pen name is Verity Moore. She can be found on facebook and her web page veritymoore.com.

Intermediate Level. World Building.

World building is critical for writing fantasy, but it is important regardless of the genre–whether the setting is around the corner, across the globe, or two thousand years ago. Choosing the right elements pull your readers in, engage their imagination, and add tension and conflict to your story. We will look at the eight components of world building and discuss the power and potential of each. There will be time for brain-storming application to your current project.

Lynn Blackburn

Lynn H. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. Her new Dive Team Investigation series kicked off in March 2018 with Beneath the Surface. Book 2, In Too Deep, releases in November with Book 3 following in 2019. Her first book, Covert Justice, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Her second book, Hidden Legacy, released in June 2017. You can follow her real life happily ever after at www.LynnHBlackburn.com.

Intermediate Level. Upping the Suspense to Create Un-put-downable Novels.

“I couldn’t put it down!” This is what every author longs to hear. But how do you create stories that keep readers turning the page? You keep them in suspense! Suspense is the key, regardless of genre, to crafting stories that compel readers to stay in the story world you’ve created long after they should have returned to reality. In this workshop, we’ll dissect the definition of suspense and discover how to up the suspense in every scene. .

Panel Discussion

Q&A Like Crazy facilitated by Heather Gray with Carole Towriss, Dina Sleiman, Ronie Kendig, Misty M. Beller, and Toni Shiloh.
Whether just starting out or already established in the industry, every author has questions, and this panel is the place to ask them. You’ll be given an opportunity to meet authors representing a variety of genres and areas of expertise and to ask whatever questions are on your mind. From the craft of writing to the business of publishing, no area of the writer’s life is off-limits.