My Experience at the Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat
By Susan Neal
Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat is settled in the heart of the Conecuh Forest and overlooks a majestic lake. This retreat center is the site of many ongoing events and is prayed over regularly. From the moment you walk in the door, you can feel the spiritual presence of the Lord in this ideal setting.
Every year I look forward to this retreat because I get to know so many different individuals personally. This is a retreat, not a conference. When you leave you feel as though you have been bathed in the presence of the lord and have a better idea of what you are supposed to write for the Lord. You begin to understand His mission for you.
In addition, you are trained by top-notch authors regarding the craft of writing. In 2019, you get to meet with one of the best Christian publishers in the industry—New Hope, and with one of the most sought after agents—Bob Hostetler. You get all this for a very reasonable price. If God has inspired you to write, take this opportunity to pursue His God given dream.
A Restful Retreat
By Jennifer Hallmark
When my friend, Lisa, mentioned the word “retreat” I was immediately interested. I try to take in a writer’s conference each year but in 2018 I was tired. A lot had been going on in my life and the larger conference I’d considered going to just wasn’t right.
Blue Lake was perfect. The retreat was large enough for me to gain valuable knowledge, and small enough for me to make life-long friends. The relaxed setting combined with a less hectic schedule was what I needed.
So instead of a conference trip, why not try a retreat? You’ll enjoy it. And maybe you and I can chat over coffee. I’m already signed up for 2019 🙂
An Eye-opening Experience
By Alice Murray
It was a no brainer for me to recognize that, if I wanted to be an attorney, I had to go to law school. But when it came to me wanting to be a writer, I was initially resistant to the idea of attending a writers’ retreat. Why did I need to attend Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat (BLCWR), I naively thought? I already knew how to write. I’d had articles published and been told that I write well. Although skeptical of the value of the opportunity, I finally broke down and registered to attend BLCWR. That choice was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.
Being in the picturesque setting at Blue Lake Camp gave me the opportunity to reflect on the whole idea of writing. The absence of the hustle and bustle of everyday life allowed me to be still and consider that writing is a God-given talent. God had a purpose for gifting me with that talent. What did He want me to do with my talent? How could I be a good steward of it?
BLCWR offered exactly what I needed to develop as a writer. First and foremost, the praise and worship sessions each day connected me to God. What better source for finding out what to do with His gift to me than connecting with Him and listening for His direction? Second, the retreat offered the opportunity to be a good steward of my talent by improving it. Classes and workshops offered by seasoned and experienced writers imparted invaluable tips, guidance, and suggestions. Third, the small nature of the retreat allowed for me to interact on more than just a superficial level with other attendees and faculty members. The connections I made at the retreat led to friendships, encouragement, and writing opportunities.
The positive impact of having attended BLCWR was beyond what I could have imagined. I thank God that He provided me with the chance to attend the retreat and that He did not let my silly idea that I didn’t have much to gain from doing so prevent me from going. I can’t wait to be at the 2019 BLCWR because I am certain God has more wonderful things in store for me as I go down the writing path which He has directed me. BLCWR is the write and the right place to be!
So glad I came to Blue Lake CWR
By Steve Duke
Last year, several people from Crosspoint invited me to come to Blue Lake for the Christian Writer’s Retreat. Even, my better half, Belinda encouraged me.
I sent my check, received my registration confirmation, packed my suitcase and pointed my truck northward.
There are not enough superlatives to describe that three-day experience. I met some fabulous authors, editors, bloggers and others in the publishing industry. I made dozens of new friends. Collectively, they have been my Barnabas. They have encouraged me to try to new things, to risk stumbling and to push on.
Thanks to editor Susan King, I have been published in Short and Sweet Takes the Fifth. Children’s writer, Michelle Medlock Adams penned the Dinosaur Devotions which I gave to me eight-year old grandkids as a Christmas gift.
For anyone with a hint of an interest in attending, I say this. “Do whatever you have to do to come to our retreat in March 2019.”
I will tell you how positive I was. When registration for 2019 opened, I was the first to send my check. My office staff has already been told that I will be absent for those three days.
Bring your cameras and cell phones. The beauty of Blue Lake is fantastic, especially at sunrise. Plenty of photo-ops.
The food is very good. The keynote speakers are beyond inspirational. There will even be a laugh or dozens.
Yes, it is that great. Come join us. I feel confident you will feel the same.
Top ten reasons to attend Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat/Conference
by James Watkins
Gotta Do’s for Conference Goers
by Cindy Sproles
Every conference has its unique qualities, but there are certain “gotta do’s” conferees should plan for as conference season approaches.
My first conference was overwhelming. I distinctly remember breaking into a sweat as the conference director opened the doors to schedule appointments. I had no idea what appointments were much less all the initials folks spit out – things like POA, GWS, MS, and RUE. What was I to do? When the director instructed conferees to purchase the conference cassettes (yes, they were cassettes back in the day), I cringed at the cost.
It was easy to see, I had no idea what I needed to do. With that in mind, here are some “gotta do’s” for your conference experience, whether you are a new conferee or not.
- Cost – Let’s address this first. If you are serious about making writing a career, then swallow hard and make the investment. Attending a conference is a substantial investment. Between conference fees, critiques, housing, meals, and transportation, the cost will vary from $500-$1100. It would be nice if conferences were free but they aren’t. Still, like anything else in our lives, if we really want it, we’ll find a way to make it happen. Begin saving early and when registrations open, you aren’t in panic mode. Attending a conference is a business decision and should be treated as such. Add the costs into your business plan, count it as a tax deduction, and invest the funds. Warning: Don’t put yourself in debt to attend. Many larger conferences offer one or two day attendance packages where you can attend the conference on a limited basis rather than attending the entire conference. Smaller conferences do not usually have that luxury. Plan ahead, think smart, and attend.
- Paid Critiques and Mentoring – Conferences offer paid critiques and private mentoring. As you plan for your conference experience, budget funds for a paid critique or a mentoring appointment. The feedback from professionals offer will help you grow as a writer. Mentoring is a bit more costly. These appointments are 30 minutes to 1 hour of one-on-one intense work with a professional. Money well spent if you want to forward your career.
- Conference Recordings – Some smaller conferences do not offer conference recordings, but if the conference you are attending offers them . . .+ leave without purchasing them. Yes, it too is an investment, but once you have these recordings you have them year round for extended learning. Plus, purchasing the recordings takes the pressure off for choosing classes. It’s smart. Spend face time with the teachers at the conference who can help you where you are in your writing at this moment. Then when you get home, you can take the classes that you wanted to attend and couldn’t. It’s a wise decision. Trust me.
- Network – Learn to network. This is your opportunity to make connections in the industry. You’ll meet other authors, publishers, and agents who can help you along your writing journey. Get to know folks. Make friends. Latch onto peers who will join you as accountability partners and critique buddies.
- Don’t jump the gun – In other words, don’t come to a conference seeking an agent until you have a completed, edited, and publishable manuscript. An agent cannot sell what they don’t have. There’s no rush. Learn the craft, work to finish that manuscript and then look for an agent. If you don’t have a manuscript then take time to meet with industry professionals and pick their brains. Find out what they look for in a manuscript and how they shop them. If you don’t have a completed manuscript that is polished and ready for publication, spend your time learning the craft. This is far more valuable than wasting time in areas where you are not ready.
Ready yourself for a productive conference. Make the money you spend become money well spent. When you have the right expectations you’ll enjoy the experience much more. A conference in an investment in your career – a business decision. Focus on learning the craft to the best of your ability while you can sit at the feet of those who have walked the path first. Your time to become published will come. Prepare and learn.
Eva Marie Everson
Have you ever gone to a writers conference and seen the class or workshop—often called a practicum—where the conferees had to sign up ahead of time? Yeah, those are the ones … the ones where someone with a little know-how gathers eight to ten writers who often tremble as they enter through “the door” for the first time. They’ve brought in a sample of their work. Double-spaced. Line-numbered. One-inch margins all around. They’ve followed the leader’s instructions to the letter. At least, they hope they have.
But, when they leave … oh, when they leave … when the conference is done and the last goodbyes and giggles and whoops echo in the vacant hallways of the venue … they leave knowing exactly why they took the chance. The leave with a mission. With a vision. With a greater understanding of what their work is supposed to be when it grows up. They leave glowing under the praises of what they did right, even if they were not aware of it when they arrived.
So, what exactly happens at these “practicums”? And why should you consider signing up?
In my fiction practicum, we dig in. We don’t talk in abstracts, but instead look directly at your manuscript. We talk about the things that work. The things that don’t. We take the building blocks of your story and grow a book. We share with one another, bounce ideas around, find a path and then take it. We look specifically at dialogue … at character arc … at plot points … at beginnings and middle and ends.
Now, there’s a reason why we take only a select number (only eight). We want to make sure all the time needed is there. That no one walks away “hungry,” (other than hungering for more days such as these). So, if you are a fiction writer who is ready for this next step, I hope you will consider joining the fiction practicum I’m offering at the Blue Lake Writers Retreat. You’ll have to email me to ensure your spot (and eight spots will fill up quickly). If you make it in, I promise you an experience you’ll treasure. And, possibly, chocolate.
To ensure your placement, email: PenNHnd@aol.com
Place: Blue Lake Fiction Practicum in the subject line (this is very important)
Hope to see you there!
Eva Marie Everson
Blue Lake Practicum Leader