Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Notes From the Fla Christian Writers Conference shared by Diana

Dear Reader; I wanted to share with you a few of the highlights from the Fla Christian Writers Conference I just returned from this past Sunday.

This was the second year that the Fla Christian Writers Conference was held at the Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center located in Lake Yale Florida and my first time in attendance. What a beautiful venue for the conference. Each morning we were greeted by incredible beauty even if the temps were low and our breath could be seen as we walked over to the cafeteria where our breakfast was served. The food was very good and in plentiful supply. The dinning hall was banked by windows with a lovely view of the Lake and was wi fi wired.

The most outstanding feature of the landscape to this Pennsylvania girl was the Spanish moss draped trees. It gave the campus an Other Worldly feel. Mysterious and exotic. The perfect backdrop for the eclectic group pf writers editors and publishers assembled.

I thought I might share some of the wisdom imparted to us from the highly qualified faculty I was privileged to be a part of.

Three of the keynote speeches were given by Cec (Cecil) Murphey. For those of you new to Cec, he is an author and Ghost Writer of award winning titles, and has had 108 books published, 17 of them fiction. Cec’s current bestseller is 90 Minutes in Heaven, which he wrote for Don Piper. Another title he is well known for is, Gifted Hands,The Ben Carson Story, a personal favorite of mine. You can find out more about Ces at .

Cec spoke to us, "Don't be afraid to say things your way. Be as open and transparent as possible. In Christian writing it is easier to sound like everybody else. Be as real and as true to yourself as you can. Let us know who you are." He implored us to take risks, reminded us that we had something to offer others that only we could offer. "You don't have to be brilliant- be authentic!"

A second keynote speaker was Jesse Floren from Focus on the Family. Oh my goodness, he has us all laughing so hard and groaning the next! His introduction gave us a take away tag line, "Writing Will Make You Sick!" If you know anyone that was there- ask them to explain that one for you! We will never forget it! (Has to do with riding upside down in a P51 Mustang airplane for his first story for Focus.) Jesse also shared that we should realistically examine ourselves to see if we are meant to be a writer, Is the writing life for me or am I meant instead to be an editor, a marketer or an agent? Also, "You can't be a writer without hope. You must apply Christ's words on servant hood to the writers life. Serve your reader, serve your subject, serve the tools of the trade and serve the editor.We all have blind spots- editors often know best. Lastly but most importantly, serve God." He shared a quote by Ken Dyer, "The words you write, they are not sacred, nor the pen and paper but the heart that God moves is."

Author Jerry B. Jenkins spoke Saturday night. What a wonderful glimpse into the heart of a gifted writer. He shared the many 'malapropisms' his friend often said, making us LOL. He told us, "writers are good readers, great writers are great readers." He shared many excerpts from his favorite writers, driving home his point. He challenged the writer to write concisely and to use words the reader would understand, being careful to get out of your own way. Two scriptures Jerry shared were Psalm 91:1&2 and Joshua 4:19-24.

A highlight for me was getting to sit in on three workshops presented by Zena Dell Lowe titled Screenwriting- Using Hollywood Storytelling Tools. Most everything Zena presented is applicable to the novel fiction writer. She blew me away, pointing out by example many films I had seen, describing what they had lacked or succeeded in doing right. She stressed the importance of a writer telling a normal story in a unique way. For Example: Finding Nemo was a coming of age movie. Told in a different way. "Figure out your genre and write for it." "Action must have action, comedy must be funny." " Writers work better with boundaries". Sharing about spiritual gifts and demonstrating the fruits of the spirit, Zena reminded us it was not what we did but HOW we did it. "Don't carry the mantle without seeking God." Zena continued, "The writer must do a good job of telling the truth. Don't protect the reader by withholding truth from them. There is a lot of criticism that we think we hold the corner on truth- well we do!" Zena's told us to present the truth and let the Holy Spirit work. I highly recommend trying to catch this screenwriter at a conference near you!

In addition to these there were workshops on blogging, marketing, public speaking, writing a great book proposal, to how to make your reader care. I hope this gives you an appetizing taste of what a writers conference has to offer. We encourage you to attend one if you can.

I made a new forever friend in my roommate Nina Bergman as well as met many talented unpublished authors. An album of pics can be seen at my FB page. Stop over and take a look. Some of you will see many familiar faces.

A final note: A recurring thread of discussion through out the whole conference and from most editors we have talked with this year, is the need for authors to present the highest quality writing to their agents and editors. Hone your skills at workshops such as these, through online courses, and in critique groups. Make it an easy decision for the editor to chose your manuscript above the others placed on their desks.

Thanks for stopping by.
From my heart to yours,


Carrie Turansky said...

This sounds like a great conference. Thanks for sharing this info with us!


So glad to have met you at the conference. The entire event was a "Wow" experience. I came home with a new insight into my protagonist, a solution to a difficult chapter, and advice on combining my blogs. Best of all: seeing old friends and making new ones.

Thank you, Diana, for your gracious smile and warm laugh. I truly enjoyed smiling and laughing along with you*


Caroline said...

Fla conference sounds like a superb one! I'd loved to have sat under Zena (makes me want to get busy & learn that business) and heard the keynote speakers! Thanks for sharing, Diana!

Jeanette Levellie said...

An upside down plane ride? Wish I would've thought to include that I in my marketing plan!

I'm so happy for you that you were able to attend this conference, Diana. Thanks for sharing the fun with us.

Millie Samuelson said...

WOW, Diana, for those of us who didn't attend the conference, your notes from it almost made us/me feel like we were there too. Thanks for the wonderful points and descriptions. I especially will remember: "We don't have to be brilliant; we just have to be authentic!" Amen! I'm going to FB now to see your photos! You're the BEST! :-)

Connie Cameron said...

I was fortunate to have been able to attend the Florida conference last year, and you are right Diana - the atmosphere is "other worldly", indeed!
I love the reminder that we are to apply Christ's servanthood to the gift of writing. (Our words can soothe the saints and they can also point the lost to Him.)
Thanks for sharing and encouraging us. You ARE the best!

Shirley Corder said...

Thank you Diana for the picture you've painted of this year's FCWC. I have written a 9-part blog on the conference and forgot to mention the other worldly atmosphere.

I so enjoyed the time I spent with you. Thank you for taking my hands and praying for me. That was a special moment in a whirlwind few days.

Blessings from South Africa!