Best Christmas Gift for Writers and Editors


Attending a writers’ or editors’ conference can do more to advance your writing or editing journey than just about anything else. You get to learn writing/editing techniques directly from industry professionals, meet them face-to-face, and discuss your work-in-progress or specific areas in which you’re struggling and could use a little help or encouragement.

I’ve had many amazing “divine appointments” at writers’ and editors’ conferences that brought me my agent, several publishing opportunities, numerous editing clients, multiple virtual assistants, and countless lifelong friendships.

Many of my colleagues have told me they would love to attend a conference but can’t afford it. Usually the monetary cost is the biggest hurdle, but time away from home responsibilities is an important consideration as well.

If you’re in that position, consider asking your friends and family members to give you a very special gift this Christmas, one that will have a powerful impact on your life and the lives of myriad readers: a contribution toward the cost of a writers’ or editors’ conference. Instead of buying you something they think you might like, or purchasing a gift card, ask them to give you the amount they would have spent in cash or a check that you will set aside for a conference. Or request the gift of their time: to help watch your kids while you’re gone or whatever else you might need.

Not sure which conference to attend? Allow me to suggest a few.

The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference offers an extensive program that appeals to writers of all genres at every level. Agents, publishers, multi-published authors, and other industry professionals come together with writers at all levels in a special spiritual-retreat atmosphere among the beautiful California redwoods. Pre-conference Next Level Mentoring Clinics will be held April 5-7, followed by the main conference April 7-11. The main conference offers Major Morning Tracks, Morning Mentoring Clinics, 42 afternoon workshops, unlimited 15-minute consultations with the Manuscript Critique Team, and two free manuscript reviews by faculty members.

This year’s theme of Writing as Worship could not be more appropriate for Mount Hermon. The conference center is nestled in an inspirational setting of woodland, nature paths, and streams. There’s worship music at every general session, followed this year by keynote presentations from Mark Batterson, New York Times best-selling author and lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC. And the ecumenical Palm Sunday service is definitely a spiritual highlight of the week.

Visit for more details.

If you live in Southern California or would like to visit in the summer, check out the brand-new SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference, to be held at Biola University June 22-24. Thirteen continuing sessions will run each morning on a variety of topics, including beginning fiction, intermediate/advanced fiction, speculative fiction, beginning nonfiction, intermediate/advanced nonfiction, memoir, writing and illustrating for children, writing for Hollywood, marketing/publicity/branding, indie/hybrid/self-publishing, music/songwriting, and writing as a career. There will also be a special track for teen writers. Three top industry professionals will present inspiring keynotes in the evenings. Faculty will include several agents, acquisitions editors from big and small publishing houses, and multi-published authors. (Names and bios will be posted soon!)

For details, visit

If you are a freelance editor, or interested in possibly becoming one, consider attending PENCON in Atlanta May 4-6. You’ll meet fellow editors, from beginners to seasoned professionals, and learn from established freelancers who are eager to share with you the secrets of their success.

The keynote speaker for PENCON 2017 is Cecil Murphey, beloved author and ghostwriter of more than one hundred books, including New York Times best sellers.

Details are currently at, but are in the process of being moved to

PENCON is the only conference for editors in the Christian market. However, there are many excellent writers’ conferences, each with its own unique flavor, tone, and focus. (Steve Laube has an extensive list at I listed those three because I happen to be the director of the Mount Hermon and SoCal ones, and PENCON is a division of Christian Editor Network LLC, of which I am a co-owner.

Here are three other conferences I’ll be teaching at next year:

West Coast Christian Writers in Pleasanton (San Francisco Bay area), February 17-18. Four keynote sessions and over two dozen workshops. Keynoters are Tosca Lee and Michele Cushatt. I’ll be teaching workshops on “Proofreading and Editing for Yourself and Others” and “Top 10 Myths of Becoming a Published Author.” Visit for more details.

Celebrate Lit conference in El Monte, CA, March 10-11. I will be teaching workshops on “Proofread like a Professional” and “Touching Hearts, Changing Lives.” Also includes a “readers’ mini-retreat” and workshops by Chautona Havig, Caryl McAdoo, and Sandra Barela. For more, check out

Called to Write conference sponsored by Christian Writers Fellowship, March 30-April 1, in Pittsburg, Kansas. I will be giving a keynote address on “Touching Hearts, Changing Lives” and teaching workshops on “Writing Your First Draft,” “Refining Your Rough Draft,” and “The Option of Self-publishing.” I am honored to be co-teaching with Twila Belk—author, speaker, and full-time assistant to beloved author and ghostwriter Cecil Murphey. For details, visit

If you don’t get quite enough financial contributions from friends and family to cover the cost of the conference of your choice, don’t despair! Most conferences (including the ones I listed above) offer a limited number of full or partial scholarships. And if you’ve never attended a Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, you are eligible to enter their First Timers Contest. (Details to be posted on the website soon!)

Have you ever asked friends or family for funds toward a conference? Or have you ever contributed toward someone else’s attendance at a conference?

If you had the money and the time, which conference would you attend in 2017?