The Perfect Conference for Christian Speculative Fiction Writers

An Author Interview with Ben Wolf

Fiction writers understand the challenges of creating a well-developed setting for novels. Carefully crafted details can draw readers into a familiar world in which relatable characters could feel like real neighbors and even friends.

Whether writing contemporary or historical fiction, novelists strive to entice readers to escape into their characters’ lives while remaining anchored to the familiarity of a realistic setting.

But what if their characters live in an entirely different realm?

Ben Wolf understands the need to connect special world-builders and will be serving as the emcee of 2017 Realm Makers conference.

A Writing Coach’s Secret Formula

An Author/Writing Coach Interview with Lorraine Pintus

Lorraine Pintus is an international speaker, author, and writing coach known for her bold teaching on women’s issues such as sex, hormones, parenting, marriage, and intimacy with God. She has been a guest on hundreds of radio and TV programs and is the author of six best-selling books, including Jump off the Hormone Swing , Intimate Issues, and Intimacy Ignited.

Today, we’re focusing on Lorraine’s role as a writing coach who helps other writers craft their message and discover their voice.

Please help me welcome, Lorraine, as she shares encouraging insights for Inspire writers from a coach’s perspective.

Cultivating Online Communities

A Brave Blogger Interview with Denise J. Hughes

Some critics claim genuine relationships and authentic fellowship are impossible to obtain in the world of social media. After being housebound for over four years, as I undergo and recover from multiple surgical procedures, I’ve learned those critics are wrong. Many of my most authentic, supportive, and loving relationships are with people I met through Facebook and in the comment sections of a few of my favorite blogs. I have yet to meet most of these genuine friends in person, though we pray for one another and encourage each other daily.

Denise J. Hughes, author of Word Writers Philippians, Ephesians, and James, is the founder of Deeper Waters Ministries and serves as Editorial Coordinator for the blog. Through these two well-established blogs and her personal blog, Embracing Grace and Truth, Denise cultivates online communities while equipping and encouraging women to dive deeper into the Bible and draw closer to God and others.

Please help me welcome Denise as she celebrates the launch of her third Word Writers Bible study and shares the rewards and challenges of nurturing community in the blogosphere.

The West Coast Christian Writers are Flashing Again!

An Author Interview with Susy Flory

Flashing? That’s right, flashing, as in gleaming and sending forth light. The West Coast Christian Writers are devoted to equipping and encouraging Christian writers to be radiant lights for Christ.

And, yes, flashing, as in a Flash Sale for the month of January only.

WCCW conference director, Susy Flory, recently announced a limited-time, special registration price in January for $179 ($149 for Inspire Members). This incredible two-day conference will be featuring keynote speakers Michelle Cushatt, Michael Hyatt’s cohost on This is Your Life podcast, and New York Times bestselling novelist Tosca Lee.

Susy Flory, the New York Times bestselling author of Thunder Dog, has authored or co-authored eleven books. She’s been a reporter, an educator, a wife, and a mom. Now a full time writer, she loves chasing big, true stories with themes of adventure, courage, hope, transformation, and redemption.

The WCCW board includes five talented authors. Collectively, they’ve published over 30 books and have served through ministries such as Focus on the Family and Proverbs 31. The team excels in teaching on the craft of writing, speaking, marketing and social media, platform building, as well as book, proposal, and article writing. But they’ve invited more industry professionals to join them in presenting Bay Area writers with this amazing learning opportunity.

Please help me welcome Susy as she shares why writers will not want to miss the 2017 WCCW conference.


Susy, thanks for joining us. Would you please share what makes the WCCW conference different from some of the other two-day conferences currently available?

Glad to be here, Friend! The WCCW Conference is a warm, friendly, encouraging conference dedicated to bringing Christian writers, of all ages and stages, the latest and most inspiring workshops and keynote speakers to help us all grow to the next level in our writing. And we try to keep it as cost-effective as possible!


You’ve secured over 30 workshops for the WCCW conference. How can beginning, intermediate, and advanced writers benefit from such a wide variety of learning opportunities?

This year we’ve added workshops for writers interested in children’s and Young Adult literature, as well as workshops on screenwriting, writing Christian romance, developing your platform, and traditional vs. self-publishing. We work hard to provide something for everyone.

And don’t be afraid to cross over genres or the fiction/nonfiction distinction to learn something from an expert who writes different kinds of books than you. Some of the best workshops I’ve taken have been geared towards fiction (and I write nonfiction!)


With so many great workshops to choose from, how can writers choose a schedule that best suits their needs?

Spend some time before the conference browsing our website and reading through the workshop descriptions and the faculty biographical info. You might even want to check out individual faculty websites to find out more about them. Once you register for the conference, you’ll be invited to join a private Facebook group where you can see short videos of the faculty members and get a sense of who they are and why they do what they do. And don’t forget—if you have to miss a workshop because there are two you want to go to at the same time, you can always purchase the recording.


What can conferees expect from the quality of faculty serving at this event?

All faculty members are professional writers with the best reputations in the business for integrity, excellence, and a heart to serve other writers. Most are multi-published, multi-talented, and many have bestselling credits on their resume. They are wonderful people who love the written word and are dedicated to helping writers be the best they can be. They could each be doing something else, but they choose to be at the conference and help writers like you and me!


How can writers benefit from the one-on-one appointments with the agents and editors serving at the 2017 WCCW conference?

We have a group of experienced, wise writing mentors who will be available to look at excerpts of your work and give you honest but kind advice and encouragement. Sometimes you need someone who is experienced and can give you just the right idea or insight to get unstuck, or go in a new direction that makes all the difference in the world. Publishing is a business with many paths to getting published, and so advice from a seasoned professional can help you find that path that’s best for you. More information on this program, called Coaching and Critique, is coming soon.


How can writers prepare for meetings with agents and editors?

I remember going to my very first writers conference hoping to meet an editor or agent and feeling like I was about to meet super humans. I was shocked to find out that they wear jeans, tennis shoes and T-shirts just like we do. In fact, they are exactly like us—people who God has called to study and master words, and use those words to make a difference in the world. Every published author or publishing professional was once unpublished. They know what it feels like to be bubbling over with a message God has given you to write, but you’re not quite sure how to do that.


Why should writers take advantage of the on-site critique coaches?

There’s no substitute for good critique—meaning honest and kind feedback from an experienced professional writer or editor. They are there to help you, not hurt you. Their comments might surprise you, but listen carefully and see what you can glean to help move you forward. Also, don’t worry about anyone stealing your ideas. You and I can have the exact same idea for a book or article and it will be unique because we have different ways of carrying out that idea. Your voice and your imagination is your own. Celebrate it and use it in the way that only you can.


Why should attendees consider entering the writing contest?

First of all, it’s fun to win a prize! I think everyone enjoys the encouragement of an award certificate assuring us that we’ve worked hard and done something very well. Second, it’s a great way to spur yourself on to finish a story. Writers often perform better under the gentle pressure of a deadline. Last, the writing contest is free to enter this year, so what do you have to lose? Take a look at the rules here and give it a shot!


How can connecting with the prayer team help writers during the conference?

We have a dedicated prayer team already praying for each and every writer who will be attending. There will also be prayer team members available during the conference if you’d like someone to pray with about anything that’s bothering you—writing related or not. Every writer needs prayer, and having a writer pray for you is something special.


Why should writers plan to invest in some of the resources offered at the WCCW bookstore?

One special offering is the Christian Writers Market Guide, the definitive guide to the publishers, conference, and literary agencies in the Christian market. We’ll have a special conference price, so be sure to look for this. We’ll also have books from the faculty and attendees available for purchase, in just about every genre and specialty under the sun. I can’t wait to buy some books myself!


How can writers be praying for the WCCW team, the faculty, and the volunteers, as you prepare for the conference?

Please pray that God would strengthen and encourage each writer individually, and as a part of the writing community. We are stronger together, especially with God at the center.


How can writers make sure they don’t miss out on the upcoming Flash Sale, or any other important updates and announcements, as the conference approaches?

The January sale of $30 off goes for the whole month of January, ending at 11:59 pm on January 31. If you go to our website, you can register online for just $179 (and buy a box lunch for Friday, too, if you’d like.) Inspire Members get another $30 off for a total of $149 for the two-day conference.


What final word of encouragement would you like to share with writers who are considering registering for the WCCW conference?

Writers need each other. When I started attending this conference (back when it was led by Pastor Jon Drury) I felt like I was part of a family, or a group of close friends. That’s our dream—that you would feel a part of the writing family when you attend the West Coast Christian Writers Conference!


Thanks for investing in the training of Christian writers, Susy. And thanks for being willing to drop in to answer questions and encourage writers in the comment section below this post.  

Thanks, Xochitl. It’s an honor.


To find out more about what God’s doing in and through Susy’s writing journey, you can visit her website. Subscribe to the WCCW blog and newsletter to learn more about the board members and the 2017 conference keynotes, faculty, and workshops.

We’re praying for you and looking forward to seeing you there.

Xochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. Married to her best friend since 1994, she enjoys being a wife and mom, traveling, photography, and sharing God’s Word through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and her blog.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

A Brave Blogger Interview with Greg Hurley

Many beginning writers believe the writing process requires great confidence and unfaltering courage. I’ve learned the writer’s journey requires the ability to admit we’re not brave or altogether perfect.

As Christian writers, we fare well if we possess the wisdom to ask God for the strength and discipline needed to buckle down and type the words He gives us. Of course, we may have to erase them, type them again, and repeat until we convince ourselves to click save and post.

This week, it’s my privilege to introduce one of the bravest bloggers in this series. Greg Hurley, founder of Hurley Wealth Management Group, is a new writer who recently took that first leap of faith.

Greg serves as a speaker who encourages others to align faithful stewardship with financial management. He answered ‘yes’ to God’s nudging to dig deeper into the Bible. He answered ‘yes’ to following God’s leading from Los Angeles to San Francisco. And he answered ‘yes’ when God led him into the blogosphere.

Please help me welcome Greg to celebrate what God has been doing as he writes from the heart on his first blog, “Calendar, Cash, and Calling,” launched in September, 2016.


Congratulations, Greg. Please tell us what led you to start your blog?

I dream of a different Bay Area, one where Jesus Christ is reigning as King over everyone and everything, as soon as possible. I started the blog to encourage Bay Area Christians to live as God intended in the areas of calendar, cash and calling—three areas I think we all tend to get stuck in. Why? So the other 97% will know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and live as God intended. This is what I think about most, and what drives my decisions.


What steps did you take to prepare for launching your blog?

I got advice from wise mentors, who happen to be bloggers themselves. I journaled, dreamed, prayed, and focused on knowing God more and more (not in that order). With my mentor’s help, I realized I did, and still do, have an arrogance problem. I asked for accountability and started learning more and more about what the Bible said about that subject.

Realizing how debilitating pride can be helped me along this path. I have a long way to go but I have come a long way through the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, the truths of God’s word, others praying for me, and with the support of my wonderful wife Nicole who has been so patient over the last 16 years.


What were the biggest obstacles you faced when you made the decision to share through this medium?

Confusion, fear, perfectionism, and making sure my wife and I were united in this decision fully.


How did God help you work through those challenges?

God sent me Nicole for numerous reasons, but one I know for sure. He uses her to help me accomplish what He created me to do. She’s one of the smartest people I have ever met. She’s not afraid to share her opinion with me, which can drive me nuts but is totally necessary if I am to become all that God created me to be. My wife also played a key role in helping me find the best writing coach.


Please share some of the greatest rewards you’ve experienced through your blogging adventures.

It’s most rewarding to be able to share what God has put on my heart and see people encouraged through the pain I have gone through. Being able to give talks that relate to my blog topics has been awesome. I’ve been able to interact with people face to face, answering some of their questions and hearing feedback on how my talks have helped them to think differently. It’s rewarding to see people’s lives changed, as they draw closer to this Awesome God we serve and begin to live out their purpose.


How often do you post new content and what can get in the way of your commitment to maintain this consistent blogging schedule?

I post once a week, usually midweek. I also share a Friday Inspiration quote. Balancing my schedule to include family, work, and the organizations I am very passionate about has been challenging. But with Nicole’s support, it has been okay.


How do you prepare for those distractions?

Just finishing my MBA in May of this year, I have been able to learn to do a lot of work in a short amount of time. Sometimes the work pressures can be intense, but then I go back to the promises of God’s Word, and know that God can do the impossible and surely get me through a time crunch I may be facing.


What have you done to expand your readership?

I have mostly been focusing on content and direction for the blog. I am trying to direct most of my efforts to creating great, concise, blog posts. I worked with my writing coach and my design consultant to create 30 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude During the Holidays, a free PDF giveaway. This project was meant to help me during my Christmas time grumpiness, but will hopefully help others and lead to new subscribers.


How do you prevent being overly concerned with the number of subscribers, likes, or comments on your blog posts on your website or through social media?

I believe God owns the blog. He is going to bring who He wants to read the content. I try and understand what part I am supposed to play and leave God’s parts to Him. I am trying to be patient and know that it takes time to build a platform, especially in a place like the busy Bay Area. I believe in the message He has put on my heart. I believe He wants that message to get out, in His timing.


What’s the most important thing God has taught you about using the voice He’s given you through your blog?

To be humble and to watch my tone in my writing.


What final word of encouragement would you like to share with writers who are hesitant about taking that first brave step into the blogging world?

Know God more. Wait on His timing. Enjoy the process. Have fun. Dream big.


Thanks for inspiring us, Greg. 


You can connect with Greg by visiting or subscribing toCalendar, Cash, and Calling.” You can also like his Facebook Author Page or follow him on Twitter. Greg will be available for questions, and would be blessed by your encouragement, in the comment section under this blog post.


Xochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. Married to her best friend since 1994, she enjoys being a wife and mom, traveling, photography, and sharing God’s Word through FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn, and her blog.


When Good Blog Posts Go Viral

A Brave Bloggers Interview with Jami Amerine

Platform. Platform. Build your platform!

As writers provide quality content, nurture community, and meet readers’ needs, their platform grows. This process requires time, effort, consistency, and patience. But sometimes, as Jami Amerine learned, a message shared through a personal blog touches the hearts of readers, gets shared until that good post goes viral, and expands the writer’s reach unexpectedly and quickly.

Though Jami entered the blogosphere reluctantly in March 2015, she faithfully encourages readers with courageous transparency, authenticity, wit, and wisdom from the trenches of life. One heart-felt rant posted on her blog, Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, whisked her into an instant platform and changed the course of her writing journey.

After “An Open Letter to My Children: You’re Not That Great” went viral, Jami gained an agent’s representation and signed a two-book contract with Harvest House. Stolen Jesus: An Unconventional Search for The Real Savior, her debut book, is scheduled to be released on October 1, 2017.

Please help me welcome Jami, as she encourages fellow writers and shares her adventures since entering the blogosphere at top speed.


Congratulations on your upcoming book and the exciting things God is doing in and through Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, Jami. Please share how God blessed you with an “instant platform” through your blog.

Thank you, Xochitl. Honestly, I had given up on publishing the minute I learned about platform. It seemed daunting and unrealistic to me. Who am I? Just a mom. I wasn’t even a “writer.” After attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I left convinced I would never be published but that it was fun to write. A few writers convinced me to blog. I admit now, I believe myself a needle in the haystack. I was okay with this. Maybe the greatest act of faith is oblivion and relinquishment. I expected nothing. When I posted “An Open Letter to My Children: You’re Not That Great,” I had 69 loyal readers. Two days later I had 690,000.


What was your initial response to that first viral post?

I was in shock, undone, and humiliated. I was harshly irritated when I wrote the article and had posted it with misspelled words, from my phone while at a dance recital. I couldn’t believe the response, or face the comments. I was receiving death threats and accolades. I wrote a response, “Then a Riot Broke Out in Target,” and my numbers skyrocketed.


What challenges did you face after that good blog post went viral?

My newfound audience wanted more and I didn’t know what to say next. My agent encouraged me to sign up for Write 31 Days, a blogger challenge for the entire month of October. The night before, I still hadn’t chosen my topic. I was crying in my bathroom, reading another venomous comment, and it came to me like manna from heaven: “Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying.” The viral status went over the million read mark within the first three days of October.


You encourage writers to build their platform and increase opportunities for posts to go viral by participating in syndication. Please explain the concept of syndication and share your top tips for bloggers as they explore this option.

Syndication is when an online magazine publishes your material and links back to your site. They usually only pay for unpublished works. Currently, I rarely syndicate because I have a good following.


I appreciate your genuine relationships with your blog readers. How do you nurture those connections with such a large following that seems to be continually growing quickly?

I just comment. I love them. I care what they say and what they are going through. As my numbers increase, I have one fear: I don’t want to lose touch with any of them. Readers email me and send me private messages. They ask for prayers or pray for me. I feel like they’re my real life friends. I confess this to God: Let me stay grounded in this, and please afford me the time and resources to be with these readers.


Through authentic encouragement, you continue to establish great network connections with other writers who share your target audience. How does connecting with and supporting other writers better your blogging experience and expand your reach?

Well, I was very convicted of “greed” with my platform. This was laughable, so I decided to share all of my tricks.

The greatest message I like to convey to “Jesus Bloggers” is you don’t have to look behind you.  Your message and words are different from the other guy. Trust God with your platform. Share what you know generously. He didn’t bless you with the gift of words to stress you out. He moves how He moves and saves how He saves. If your words meant eternity for JUST ONE… would you be satisfied?


What has been the greatest reward you’ve experienced through the whirlwind growth of Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors?

Freedom in Jesus Christ. I didn’t even know what I was saying, until I started saying it out loud. He is a good Father. He loves me. He died for me. I was “saved,” but I didn’t believe in my salvation until He started unfolding the story of Stolen Jesus. All the bad theology, all the misinterpreted emotions, hurts, hardships and joy have brought me to a place where He trusts me to shout GLORY and know what the heck I am talking about. I can’t believe what He is doing. I can’t believe what He has done. I am sad I lost so much time fearing Him and bathing in condemnation, but I wouldn’t change it–if it was only for one reader to stop and look at who Jesus is… I am truly blessed.


What final word of encouragement would you like to share with writers who are navigating through the blogosphere?

Keep writing. Trust Him to move your words. The reality is I gave up, in my weakness, but people stopped and read some of the harshest words I have ever written. God can do whatever He wants whenever He wants. Every time you start to wonder, ask Him, “How can I bring you glory?” Sit back and let Him be God. He is really good at it.

Thanks for inspiring us, Jami. I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store for you as you continue to honor Him and minister to readers through and beyond Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors.


To connect with Jami, you can receive email notifications by subscribing to her blog, Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, join the community on her Facebook Author Page, and follow her on Twitter. You can also support her newest adventure, The Easy Wife, a Grace Podcast she launched with her sister, Stacey Todd in December 2016.

Jami will be joining us in the comment section of this post to answer questions as she continues to inspire us to use our God-given voices through blogging.


Xochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. Married to her best friend since 1994, she enjoys being a wife and mom, traveling, photography, and sharing God’s Word through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and her blog.