Writers from across South gather at SCWC to be ‘equipped and encouraged’

Writers from across South gather at SCWC to be ‘equipped and encouraged’

By Jessica Ingram
The Alabama Baptist

The pouring rain and rolling thunder weren’t going to keep writers away from the Southern Christian Writers Conference (SCWC) held June 7­–8 at First Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa. The church fellowship hall filled up quickly as the 200 registrants found seats, greeted old friends and swapped writing ideas with new acquaintances.

Delaney and Sydney Wray opened the conference with a time of worship. Cheryl Wray, first-year director of SCWC, welcomed registrants.

“I’ve been struck by a word recently: new,” she said. “I’ve been struck by new faces, I’ve been struck by familiar faces seeking new knowledge, and I know God will honor our new strivings this week.”

Writers from all over the South come to SCWC each year seeking encouragement and advice as they pursue their dreams of professional writing and publishing. Leadership of the SCWC was passed down to Wray this year from her parents, David and Joanne Sloan, who founded the SCWC 28 years ago as a ministry to writers. “We all wanted a place where writers of faith could gather to be equipped and encouraged,” Wray said.

Joanne Sloan followed the welcome with a devotion on the importance of telling the story and carrying on a legacy.

Several SCWC members shared encouraging words to those gathered.

Todd Gerelds, author of “Woodlawn,” said the desire to write comes because people are made in the image of God.

“Everything started with words,” he said. “God values words. He could’ve done anything to create the world and he chose words.”

Connie Gatlin, longtime participant of SCWC, encouraged the writers to soak up every moment at the conference.

“I can promise you one thing. There is a reason you’re here. There’s a reason the Lord has you here. It’ll be a blessing that will pierce your soul with its truth,” she said.

Allison Mackey, who has a book releasing in 2020, concluded with one tip for all writers: “Bathe the whole process in prayer.”

More than 30 workshops took place throughout the conference led by numerous guest speakers, including Bruce Barbour, founder of Literary Management Group and co-founder of Barbour and Company; Ellen Maze, editorial director at Little Roni Publishers; and Javacia Browser, founder of See Jane Write.

Friday night’s keynote speaker John Herring, CEO of Iron Stream Media, used an anecdote about his family trip to Disney World to explain the importance of “last” — last in line and the last line of books.

“The end of the line for us really is a place of worship. It is worship unto God when we position ourselves behind others. It’s not about getting published; it’s not about making a lot of money. It’s about serving readers,” he said. “When you come to the last line in your book, what will be the next step for you? Is your last line the beginning or the end? Use that last line as the launch pad to the next great adventure.”

Ramona Richards, associate publisher for Iron Stream Media, spoke on the importance of one’s “voice” after she was presented the Joanne Sloan National Award for the Encouragement of Writing.

“You were born with your own voice,” she said.  “The words that come from your heart and your mind, the message that God has laid on your heart — those are yours.”

Eva Marie Everson, bestselling author and managing editor at Firefly Southern Fiction, spoke on the power of the pen during her keynote address on Saturday afternoon.

“My pen empowered with God’s spirit and writing what I know God wants me to write can change things. It can split the sea in two,” she said.

Referencing how God’s command to Moses in Exodus 4 to throw his staff on the ground yielded the power to part the Red Sea, Everson asked each person listening to do the same with his or her tool of trade.

“I want to you stand quietly before God, yield that pen up to Him and throw it down. What if we then dared to pick it up in a new way, in a different way that scares us,” she said. “What if our words split the sea in two so that we may guide just one person to the Lord. What if our words lead them out of captivity?”

Sharing the gospel message is the calling of all Christians, whether writers, publishers, athletes, doctors, accountants or anything else, said social media workshop leader Marlin Caddell, who works as the digital content team manager for Randall-Reilly Publishing.

“Even as we showcase our talents, the world should see that those talents came from Jesus and are ultimately an outflow of the love He has demonstrated to us.”

An annual feature of the SCWC is the writing competition and a few Alabama Baptists were among this year’s winners:

Rita and Harry Moritz from Seddon Baptist Church, Pell City, took first and second place, respectively, in the poetry competition. Rita Moritz also took home honorable mention in the newspaper article competition.

Shirley Crowder from Valley View Baptist Church, Leeds, was awarded first place in the newspaper article competition.

To view photos from the conference visit www.tabonline.org/SCWC.



So you want to publish a book:

Bruce Barbour and Karen Ann Moore led one of the more popular workshops at the 2019 Southern Christian Writers Conference held June 7­–8 at First Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa.

With more than 80 years of publishing experience between them, Barbour and Moore offered their valuable insight into the book publishing world to conference attendees.

Interested in publishing a book? Here are some important things to know when it comes to traditional publishing using agents and publishing houses:

*Know what you want to write. Use your passions and background to find the topic or idea that best fits you. “You must have credibility and be a practitioner,” Moore said. “Read what you want to write.”

*Have a big enough idea. “Don’t think big, think bigger,” Moore said.

*You must copyright your work.

*You can quote other writers but make sure your publisher accepts and agrees with the writer. You also will be required to get permission from the author or his or her publishing company to reprint work.

*Every aspiring author needs an agent. Most publishers don’t accept proposals sent directly from authors.

*For nonfiction books submit a book proposal and two sample chapters

*For fiction submit the full manuscript in a Word document with no formatting.

*Research intellectual property rights and consider hiring an attorney who specializes in them.

*Understand royalties follow formulas set by each individual publisher and are usually based on net receipts or retail price.

*Writers are generally not artists. Submitting artwork with your manuscript could hurt you. Publishers will handle artwork and illustrations.

*Publishers also will handle the design of the book cover. You can share your ideas with them but do not send them a cover design.

*Be open to changing the title of your work. Because the title is important to the sales and marketing of your book, publishers often have inside knowledge about why a title change is needed.

If you are interested in learning more about writing and publishing visit www.southernchristianwriters.com for information on upcoming events. (Compiled from information provided by Bruce Barbour and Karen Ann Moore)