“What Do You Write?”

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“What do you write?” That question is asked of and by each attendee dozens of times at the annual Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at the Ridgecrest Lifeway Center near Black Mountain, NC. That’s just a little east of Asheville.

And what a variety of answers! Novels in a variety of genres, screenplays, non-fiction, Bible studies, children’s books, blog posts, greeting cards. If something can be written, the conference has at least one person who writes it.

Uh, with the notable exception of porn, of course. Not appropriate for Christian writers.

A conference like the BRMCWC is a wondrous thing to attend. Not only do we hear inspirational keynote addresses by a variety of speakers, each group session includes a time of worship, conducted by special musical worship leaders. (More on that on Wednesday.)

And then there are the classes themselves. Dozens of classes to choose from. One-time workshops, continuing classes (they meet each day of the conference), and practicums that not only meet every day but involve homework! The daily schedule includes one class time in the morning and two in the afternoon.

An experienced conference attendee comes with some sort of agenda. Often, it’s to meet with as many publishers as possible (we can sign up for two appointments the first night and as many additional ones as we can the next morning). Published authors, publishers, and agents are exceedingly good at accomplishing a lot in a fifteen minute appointment.

The faculty also have assigned tables in the dining hall (did I mention they have pretty good food at this conference and serve it cafeteria style?), and it’s not only acceptable, but expected that conferees sitting at a specific person’s table will have a chance to pitch his or her work then or to ask questions.

I’ve been going to the Blue Ridge Conference off-and-on since 2005. Never has it failed to meet my needs of the moment, and I’m determined now to make this my every-year conference.

I can’t do the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference justice in one blog post, but I realize not everyone is interested in writing or in reading about something that benefits writers–and consequently benefits readers as well.

But if you have questions about the conference, please leave a comment.


I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Family Christian Stores. Go HERE for links to those places.
Best regards,

Old Enough to Ask for Help Occasionally?

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When I was younger, I wasn’t very good at asking for help. I remember being ill while working at a summer job out-of-state (I was just into my first year or two of teaching). My coworkers stopped by my dorm room each morning to see whether I would make it to work that day. This went on for four or five days.

Forget work. I wasn’t even strong enough to make it to the dining room to eat.

I needed to go to the infirmary, but I wasn’t up to walking and wouldn’t have felt safe driving. I kept waiting for my coworkers to ask if they could do anything for me. I would gladly have told them I needed a ride to the infirmary.

But they didn’t offer, and I was too proud to ask. Too proud and too sick.

Fortunately, the bug worked its way out of my system eventually, and I woke up one morning feeling stronger—and hungry for the first time in days. I made it to the dining hall with ease.

I could tell you other stories about times as an adult when I needed help, but—for one reason or another—refused to ask for it.

Flash forward to this week. I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest, NC. The faculty was tremendous, and I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with friends I only see at the BRMCWC.

I had an inspired thought. Something I hadn’t planned to do until recently. But it would require asking for help. And from someone VERY well known—at least to Fox News fans.

I’d met Fox commentator Todd Starnes at previous conferences. I knew his blog has a tremendous following, and he was in the midst of a promotional book tour for his newest book, God Less America. Talk about a busy man…

But what did I have to lose?

I asked if he would consider writing a foreword for the upcoming release of my novel, The Devil & Pastor Gus. He looked over my one-sheet summary and—I still can’t believe it!—said he would be honored.

That’s the kind of stuff Cloud Nine is made out of.

Several days later I turned around to see who the instructor kept addressing as Jane. She looked awfully familiar, but it took me till the end of class to be positive that she was Jane Herlong. Jane is not just a writer, but a wonderful singer, a brilliant women’s speaker, and a hilarious comedienne. Oh, and did I mention she’s also a former Miss South Carolina?

We’d met when she was on the faculty several years earlier. I’d sung some of my original songs for her and she did a duet with me. All for fun, of course. Not for the conference itself. And she emailed me shortly afterwards to thank me for the privilege of letting her sing with me. Can you imagine? She’s the professional singer, not me.

Practically as soon as I realized the familiar lady in the back of the room was Jane Herlong, the thought came to mind—I’m assuming it was divine inspiration—to ask if she’d be willing to write the foreword for another book that’s pending publication, Impractically Yours.

She didn’t even have to think about it. She would be honored to help me that way.

I emailed her a copy, and she started reading it almost immediately. Today I received a message that she LOVES it!

Lord, thank You for helping me reach the point in my life where I’m willing to take a chance and ask other people for help—sometimes, at least. But I know You’re still the ultimate source of all the help I’ll ever need, and I praise You for that.

I’ll let you decide which of the pictures at the top of this post is of me with Todd and which one is with Jane.


Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”–check it out here–to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,