St. Davids Christian Writers Conference

I just got back from serving on the faculty at a writers’ conference in Pennsylvania. This was my first time at St. Davids, and it was absolutely wonderful!

I’d met the conference director, Lora Zill, at the Montrose Christian Writers’ Conference last summer. She and I hit it off, and she asked if I’d be interested in teaching at her conference.

I hesitated at first—only because the conference was in June, which is when my Colorado family comes to visit every year. I didn’t want anything to interfere with that. But as it turned out, my family would be heading home the day I’d be flying out. Though I usually don’t like to plan things back-to-back, I agreed.

Really glad I did!

Though I didn’t know any of the conferees at this conference, I did know a couple of my fellow faculty members: Eva Marie Everson and Susan King from Upper Room. By the end of the week, I’d made several wonderful new friends.

I taught six workshops and gave a general-session talk. One of the workshops was on writing and selling church play scripts. At the end of that workshop, I asked if anyone would like to volunteer to put together an improvised sketch for the awards banquet on the last day. (I’d done this at the Montrose conference, and Lora told me she laughed so hard, she … well, I won’t embarrass her by telling you what she said. Suffice it to say, she loved it!)

As happened at Montrose, God brought just the right people who really worked hard to put together a sketch that was humorous, fun, and uplifting. (My only regret was neglecting to mention to the audience that the sketch was not scripted—I’d just given them a theme, a setting, and some basic character notes, and the actors did everything else … including writing the beautiful, poignant poem at the end.)

The photos on this post are from that performance. (And yes, I’m the one yawning while looking over my own PUGS book!)

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Every conference I go to has its own unique atmosphere. This one was particularly enjoyable because of its relaxed tone, its emphasis on learning the craft, and the warm yet playful attitude of the director, Lora Zill. (Her right-hand gal, Catherine L. Young, kept everything running smoothly, freeing Lora to have a ball! Although I’m sure Lora did a lot of work too.)

The tone was set on the first night, when Lora announced that a bear had recently been sighted near the conference grounds. She read the usual warnings about what to do if you come across a bear. Make yourself look bigger. Make lots of noise. Don’t show fear. And never get between a mama bear and her cubs. She then gave everyone a writing prompt: “What to do if you come across a _______.” She asked people to fill in the blank and write a short piece on an index card, with just one goal: to make Lora laugh. The top entries would win stickers (stars and/or butterflies) for their name tags.

I took up the challenge … and wrote about what to do if you come across a faculty member at a writers’ conference. As I recall, my piece read something like this:

            1. Make yourself look bigger. Brag about all of your writing accomplishments, no matter how small. You probably know more about writing than they do anyway.

            2. Make lots of noise. Monopolize the conversation. Don’t let the faculty member get a word in edgewise, and make sure you go over your allotted appointment time so other conferees don’t get a chance.

            3. Don’t let the faculty member know that you feel intimidated. They can smell fear.

            4. Never get between a faculty member and the bathroom. Or her next workshop. Or chocolate.

I won first place. Lora said she laughed so hard, she … well, you get the picture.