The Montrose Christian Writers Conference
Every year the last full week of July I attend what I think is one of the most beneficial writers’ conferences in our great land. For the last fourteen years, I’ve not missed the Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Montrose, PA, held at the restored home and conference grounds started by the world-renowned evangelist and missionary R.A.Torrey back in the early 20th Century. Nestled in among towering maple trees, the conference grounds invite all attendees to come apart from the busy world and bathe the soul in Christian fellowship.
Over the years, I’ve been on faculty about five times, presenting workshops about juvenile fiction, promotion, writing techniques, and so on. But this year, I went just as a conferee and enjoyed sitting, listening, and fellowshipping with fellow writers and friends I’ve made there over the last fourteen years.
The writers’ conference is directed by Patti Souder, a writer and the wife of Larry Souder, who is the manager of the Christian radio station WPEL, housed just a block away from the conference grounds. Every year, Patti organizes a faculty of an average of fifteen that is diverse and offers help in almost every area of writing. With about 110-130 conferees in attendance, the conference center comes alive with morning praise and worship, workshops from morning until late afternoon, critique groups and private critique sessions with faculty, and evening activities, including Readers’ Theater on Thursday evening, when any conferee may have three minutes to read a piece or a sample of a work he/she has written. This event is the highlight of the week for many conferees, especially unpublished ones, who look forward to sharing some of their creativity with “the world.”
This past year, an event separate from anything that has to do with writing occurred that none of us will forget. On Thursday, a bad storm blew through northeastern Pennsylvania, causing a tornado watch for the entire area. For about an hour in the late afternoon, about thirty of us huddled in the
basement of the main conference building, Torrey Lodge, where we waited in a hallway until the storm passed by. We sang hymns and chatted, and, some faculty members even engaged in critiquing some conferees’ work. Thankfully, other than some branches blown down, there was no damage to the conference grounds, and we were able to continue with the normal schedule, which included a delicious supper in the dining room and then the Readers’ Theater at seven o’clock. The conference ended at 11 a.m. Friday morning, and we writers all left with sad goodbyes and a promise to stay connected on Facebook at the Writers of Any Genre Group and reunite next year “at the same time/same station,” the 2013 MCWC.
I said all that to say this. If you are serious about writing, please consider attending writers’ conferences. There’s no better way to learn the craft, to meet other Odd Ducks just like you who will understand you, and to make connections with editors and agents, who just might like your work and give you a contract. Of the five contracts I’ve signed, four of them were initiated at writers’ conferences when I met an editor or agent who liked my work.
So check Angie’s list or some conference websites and make a point to attend some writers’ conferences over the next year. And if you’re within a few hundred miles of Montrose, put that conference on your itinerary list. Writers come from as far as the New England states, Virginia, Michigan, Florida, and Tennessee. I’d love to meet you, and I guarantee that you’ll say it was well worth the time and expense to attend one of the best writers’ conferences that ever was.