“Sing to God, everyone and everything! Get out His salvation news every day! Publish His glory among the godless nations, His wonders to all races and religions. And why? Because God is great — well worth praising!” (1 Chr. 16:23–24)
After being presented with the Joanne Sloan National Award for the Encouragement of Writers for 2023, Karen Moore read from 1 Chronicles 16.
“Why should we publish? What should we do? We should get the word out,” she said. “Why? Because God is great and greatly to be praised.”
Moore is an award-winning author of more than 100 books, runs Literary Management Group with her husband Bruce Barbour and has encouraged writers for years through articles, her blog, podcasts and speaking at conferences.
“We have a story to tell because God has done great things in our lives and we want to share that,” Moore said. “That’s why we write. We want to make a difference.”
God Himself is a storyteller, Moore said, and He’s written the perfect story for those who follow Him.
‘Get the Lord’s work done’
“We want to take people to the greatest romance and the greatest adventure of their lives — God,” she said. “So don’t let anyone keep you from doing what you’ve been called to do. We are going to keep going. No excuses. We will stop at nothing to get the Lord’s work done.”
Moore’s husband echoed those sentiments in his keynote address later in the evening.
“God is the ultimate Creator and each one of you is created in His image,” Barbour said. And as image-bearers, we are all creators too.
“He is your example. What an opportunity God has given you to be His witness and messenger through writing.”
Barbour has worked in book publishing for more than 40 years, and in 1997 he founded Literary Management Group with his wife.
“It’s a really important thing to be called to do, and you couldn’t tell a better story,” he said. “It’s a life-or-death story.”
Telling God’s story
He answered the big five questions for every writer striving to tell God’s story:
- Why? Because God said so.
- How? Publish it.
- Where? Everywhere.
- Who? You!
- When? Now!
Saturday’s keynote speaker, Valerie Fraser Luesse — a Southern fiction novelist and retired senior travel editor for Southern Living — discussed how storytelling and faith can intersect in writing.
“Jesus often used simple stories — parables — to teach abstract concepts such as justice and faith,” she said, noting that writers can do the same.
“Lead by example,” she said. “Don’t point out the problems but show examples of things done well.”
Instead of explicit gospel presentations, writers can demonstrate Christlikeness through their characters and how they handle relationships, conflict and their communities.
“My characters aren’t superheroes or villains,” Luesse said. “They are just ordinary people faced with hard questions — hard questions just like the ones we’ll all face at some point.”
The South sits on the crossroads of folklore and faith, she said, making it a perfect setting for meaningful stories with Christian values and biblical themes.
This year’s conference, held at Valley View Baptist Church in Leeds June 9–10, also featured numerous workshops varying in topic from design and social media to writing book proposals, fiction, screenplays and more. It also included a share and critique session on Thursday night when writers had the opportunity to bring their work and get feedback on it.
The conference concluded with the recognition of the winners of the 2022 SCWC Writing Awards.
And the winners are …
In the newspaper article category, first place went to Tracy Riggs Frontz for “Seed of Hope,” published in The Alabama Baptist; second place went to Laura Lee Leathers for the Rosalie Hunt series, published in The Alabama Baptist; and third place went to April McCay for “Hope,” published in The Blount Countian.
In the magazine article category, first place went to Linda Lyle for “A Question of Trust,” published in Refresh Bible Study Magazine; second place went to Shana Buchard for “Apple Picking,” published by Calla Press Literary Journal; third place went to Catherine Segars for “8 Things Parents Can Learn from a Survivor of Teen Suicide,” published by Crosswalk; and an honorable mention went to Sandy Lemoine for “Invested and Transformed,” published by Lifesigns Magazine.
In the short story category, first place went to Sandi Herron for “Who is Counting?,” published in “Promises and Prayers”; second place went to Lettie Whisman for “One Text at a Time,” published in “All You Need is Love” (from Chicken Soup for the Soul); and third place went to Katie Dale for “Overwhelming Peace in His Presence,” published in Strengthened by His Touch.
In the poem category, first place went to Laura Lee Leathers for “With These Hands,” published in Refresh Bible Study Magazine; second place went to Linda Holloway for “Who Will Speak for Me?,” published in Little Miss Linda Speaks Out; and third place went to April McCay for “In My Folks Garden,” published in The Cullman Tribune.
In the blog post category, first place went to Melissa Hanberry for “Endings,” published on Leaf by Leaf; second place went to Kristy Ensor for “The Table,” published on The Well; third place went to Wendy Lanier for “Helping Our Kids Face Fear,” published on Christian Children’s Author; and an honorable mention went to Paige Hamilton for “Sunbeam,” published on Paige’s Pencil.
Cheryl Wray, director of the SCWC, took the reins of the conference five years ago from her parents David and Joanne Sloan, who founded it in 1991. The conference has since expanded to include regional workshops throughout the year and annual book awards.
To view a photo gallery from the conference, go to tabonline.org/scwc-2023.