[A word from Susie:
About 9 months ago, I birthed a new…idea! I really wanted to help a handful of serious writers dive into their stories and mentor them through the process of writing a great book. God blessed me with an amazing and dedicated first group of women who not only loved fiction but were willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard.
Nine months later, most of them have finished their novels and moved onto the next ones. A handful of them are finalists in either the Genesis or Frasier, and quite a few are planning on pitching their novel at ACFW.
After the retreat, they started a support group within MBT Club Voices to encourage each other which has now spilled out into a blog they started. The MBT Ponderers, which shares a wealth of information about writing. I’m so proud of these writers, and thankful for their willingness to allow me to assist them on their journey.
As I prepare for the 2nd annual Storycrafter’s Retreat, I asked Beth Vogt, one of the Ponderers to share with the MBT audience her impressions of the retreat. Thankyou, Beth!]
Beth K. Vogt is the editor of Connections, MOPS International’s leadership magazine, and a regular contributor to MomSense. Beth was a confirmed non-fiction writer until the persistent call of the Voices lured her to the “Dark Side.” Her work-in-progress is a romantic comedy. Her critique groups affectionately call her “The Evil Editor.” To learn more about Beth, visit her at The Writing Road.
By Beth Vogt
You may think a writers conference featuring best-selling Christian author Susan May Warren is all about her.
You’d be wrong.
The StoryCrafting and Coaching Retreat, hosted by Susan last October 23-25 in Minnesota, is all about you.
Susan limited the number of attendees to maximize personal interaction. She welcomed each of the 12 writers with her trademark warm smile. She also handed us a bag filled with several books, a My Book Therapy mug, and an assortment of chocolates. Yum! Once she started teaching, she hardly stopped to take a breath—or a bathroom break, for that matter.
Susan’s brain is wired for story, the way a master musician’s brain is wired for melody, composition, lyrics and harmony. Throughout the StoryCrafting Retreat, she poured her expertise about plot, character, inciting incidents, scenes and synopsis into an eager audience. We wrote notes until we had writer’s cramp and marveled as Susan brainstormed one woman’s work-in-progress (WIP) on a white board.
Friday night we watched the movie “Frequency,” complete with popcorn and cookies and apple slices. Yum, again! Susan stopped-started-stopped-started the scenes again and again to highlight the elements of story throughout the movie.
One of my most valuable items from the conference? A white napkin from a local restaurant, covered with scribbled words and—finally!—the new and improved opening line to my novel. At dinner Saturday night, Susan instructed each of us to grab a napkin and hammer out the hook for our opening paragraph, revealing what’s at stake for our main character. She went around the table and listened to each one, working with us individually until we had it down. After dinner, several of us—Susan included—went back to the conference room and worked on our stories. A late night filled with creativity, laughter and fellowship.
I came to the StoryCrafting Retreat with my WIP, the desire to ramp-up my fiction writing ability, and—I confess—a little bit of nervousness.
I left on Sunday with a new opening scene, increased confidence, and a brain filled-to-the-brim with expert advice on writing fiction. I also came away with writing friends, a.k.a. “The Ponderers.” We e-mail each other, Instant Message (IM), talk about our characters, our plots and our families. We believe in each other. Why? Because Susan believed in us as writers—enough to invest her time, her life, into us. For Susan, the StoryCrafting Retreat was a dream come true—devoting focused attention to writers. For her, the weekend was all about us and our writing dreams.