Posts Tagged With: Christian writers conference

What I’ve Learned Lately … with Jodie Bailey

Today I’m kicking off a new column that will appear on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month – What I’ve Learned Lately. One of the best things about being a writer is meeting people at conferences or through online groups who can be mentors, cheerleaders, and – ahem – motivators when needed. I’ve invited some of these wonderful people to share about some things they’ve learned, whether they’re related to writing, faith, or some other corner of life.

My first guest blogger is Jodie Bailey, whom I met at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference a couple of years ago.

A little intro … Jodie Bailey is an avid reader and an aspiring beach bum. She is a stubborn child who resisted God’s calling for two decades until He hit her over the head with a Beth Moore Bible Study book, and she finally figured out He wanted her to be a writer. When not tapping away at the keyboard, she watches NCIS reruns, eats too many chocolate chip cookies, wishes she were at the beach, reads with her daughter, and follows her Army husband around the country. Visit Jodie online at

And now, here’s Jodie, with a lesson I still need to learn every day myself.  🙂


Two years ago, I went to my first writers’ conference. And I had no idea what I was doing.  Get this… I was driving six hours to a place I’d never been before, where I knew not one single soul, with a novel God had already told me not to pitch, all because I heard my “dream” agent would be there.  If that wasn’t a recipe for disaster, I have no idea what would qualify.

It was about five hours into my drive, while I was happily singing along to Colbie Caillat,  when THE VOICE spoke.  (No, it was not an audible voice, but humor me here.)  Want to know what it said?  It said, “Choose now, Jodie.  This conference is your make or break.  Either writing will be your hobby, or writing will be your ministry for me.  Choose.”

Whoa.  There is nothing like God laying it on you when you are only one hour away from the gates of Never Been Here Before.

After the most amazing week of my professional life, I got back into my car and drove home, amazed by God.  On that drive, I said, “Know what, God?  This is for real.  I choose to do it for you.”  Right there, I surrendered writing to Him and promised to take it as seriously as He wanted.

I would love to tell you I kept that vow.  Know what I’ve learned?  Surrender is a daily—sometimes a “minutely”—occurrence.  It is not something to do once and for all.  Because after I made that decision and vowed to give it all to God, I picked it right back up and tried to do it all in my own power.  Sometimes I pick it up for a day or so.  Recently, I spent about four months doing it all on my own.  Guess what happens when you do it all on your own.  Nothing.  At least not for me.  You want a massive case of “can’t think of one single word to write?”  Tell God you’ll handle this next book and He can take a break.

God recently had a little sit-down with me.  He actually gave me a list of ten things I need to consider about my life.  Some things were blessings He’s given me.  Some things were convictions I need to work on.  One big thing was this:  Discipline is an act of worship.  God called me to be a writer.  When I sit myself down at my desk and press the power on my computer, what do you think He wants me to spend my time doing?  I’m guessing it’s not exploring Facebook.

When I turn on my computer to get to work for the day, the greatest act of worship I can perform is doing what God created me to do.  God created me to be a writer.  He gave me a talent to use or lose.  He gave me the time to put words on paper.  It is a high honor from Him, and one I should not take for granted.  When I—when we—allow ourselves to become what He made us to be, when we do what He called us to do, there is no greater way to praise Him.



Categories: Wednesday Writings, What I've Learned Lately, Writing life | Tags: , , | 16 Comments

Resource: Conference CDs

If I had unlimited vacation time, a bottomless bank account, and no family obligations, I could easily become a writers’ conference junkie. I’m involved with a conference my local writers group hosts each summer and try to attend one other conference during the year. But there are so many to choose from and it can be so hard to decide which one is best! Since I can’t go to nearly as many as I’d like, I’ve found the next best thing — CDs or MP3 downloads of the conference sessions.

No, it’s not the same as being there, but most are really high quality and it’s nice to be able to listen to them again in case I missed something the first time (and I always miss something the first time!). They’re also pretty inexpensive and most speakers are happy to email you copies of the handouts if you can track down their email address. Just think — if you were a speaker, wouldn’t you love to get an email months after your talk saying, “I bought the CD from your class at ____ conference and am really enjoying it. Is there any way you could send me the handouts you used?”? Personally, a note like that would make my day! So even if I don’t need handouts sometimes I’ll send a quick note to the speaker just to let her know I learned something.

So far, I’ve bought CDs or have downloaded MP3s from sessions at 4 conferences. Here are some links for you to check out the next time you’re looking for a conference-on-the-go or need a quick fix before your next one:

I’m sure there are other conference that have class CDs available. If you know of any, send me a note and I’ll add it to the list. Happy learning!

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EMACW Conference with Marion Bond West and Julie Garmon

My local writers’ group (EMACW — East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers) had the fun of hosting a conference a couple of weekends ago. We’re so blessed that our director works for a local technical college and handled arranging the meeting space for us. You can’t beat having a state-of-the-art conference facility at your disposal.

We had a nice crowd (about 40, which is what we had prayed for … next time we’ll pray for more!) and top-notch speakers: the mother/daughter team of Marion Bond West and Julie Garmon.

If you’re familiar with Guideposts, both those names mean something to you. Marion is the magazine’s most published writer (and she’s quick to add ‘and most rejected’ to that claim to fame), and Julie has also written many things for Guideposts and other magazines. Marion signed copies of her latest book, Praying for My Life.

They taught about how to write the type of inspirational articles Guideposts likes, how to write (and not write) devotionals, and how to focus on take-away value. It was the first time they’ve taught together, so they seemed to have a lot of fun with that. They taught us so much and felt like part of the family by the time the day ended. I think that’s part of the beauty of being writers — we all understand and love each other and the creativity God blessed us with.

I hope you enjoy a few photos from the day (double click the images to enlarge them)!

Julie Garmon & Marion Bond WestOur wonderful instructors, Julie Garmon and Marion Bond West.



Our director Colleen welcomed everyone to start the day. We’re blessed to have several members who write music and lyrics, so have a subgroup for them. Cindy, the leader of the songwriters’ group, led us in several praise and worship songs. After that time and a devotional and prayer we were all in the right frame of mind for learning and listening to God!

Marion teaching. She had a basket overflowing with copies of Guideposts with her articles and spent a lot of time showing them to us — what worked, what didn’t work, the stories behind the stories. Very interesting, especially to a group of writers!


 Julie loves to teach with visual aids. Here, she uses a couple of Barbie dolls to illustrate how we need to be real in our writing instead of dressing things up and trying to impress people. Readers love us so much more when they see that we’re real!


Notice Wanda the Wig Head on the table. She’s all dressed up with loads of jewelry, feathers and other fanciness … but she would’ve been just fine with some earrings and pearls. Their point (other than to make us laugh)? Sometimes we keep adding and adding to our writing when we need to keep it simple. That’s especially true with pieces like devotionals, where we need to focus on one point and not go off on oodles of tangents or try to cram too much into a short space. Hmmmmm … I’m sure I never try to do those kinds of things (yeah, right).

Please visit if you’d like to learn more about our group and upcoming meetings or special events. We have members who write fiction, non-fiction and poetry … members who are published and those who are unpublished … members who have babies and members who have grandchildren … and we all love each other and writing for the Lord dearly! I can’t imagine a better motto than the one they crafted years ago: “Because He lives, we write for Him!”  

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