Six years ago I found my writing “career” hijacked by Randy Ingermanson. I’ve never recovered.

Randy is, in his own words, a ‘physicist, novelist, and all around geek”—which means I liked him right out of the gate. Well, except for the physicist part.

When I first skimmed Randy’s wildly popular website for writers, I read that early in his own writing journey he’d made a commitment to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference until he learned his craft and got published. He followed through. Today, Randy is an award-winning novelist and serves as a faculty member at that same conference. And he’s stranger than ever.

Personally, I just finished year five at Mount Hermon. I’m going to attend this Conference until I’ve learned my craft and been published. After that, I’ll probably keep going. If you’re serious about writing, here’s why you should join me.

1. This is where the big dogs hang out.

(Case in point, that’s me and Liz Curtis Higgs, of Bad Girls of the Bible Fame). You’ve probably heard that a huge part of becoming a successful writer is who you know—your connections. And that’s true. At Mount Hermon, you’ll have the chance to lunch with dozens of editors, agents, successful writers, and budding geniuses. Mount Hermon has been doing this Conference since the Stone Age so they’re really good at it by now.

Reality check: When you submit a manuscript to an editor online, your “baby” gets buried alive by a nine foot slush pile full of ideas just like yours. When you smack down the cash for Mount Hermon, the slush pile evaporates because you find yourself sitting next to industry giants over dinner. This gives you the chance to make eye contact and poke your food and pitch your project live, complete with the lettuce caught in your teeth. If you’re willing to pay serious coin to learn the craft, the thinking goes, you deserve a shot at the top of the pile.

But that’s just the beginning. See, these aren’t just editors and agents. They’re fantastic people—wise, caring, insightful, and a lot of fun. They aren’t just convenient means to your publishing dreams end, but potential friends as well. This year’s keynote speaker? No less than Liz Curtis Higgs, and man, can that girl preach!

2. This is where little dogs learn new tricks.

Trust me when I say the opportunity to learn from masterful writers is worth the price of admission. Every year I absorb game-changing tricks of the trade that have helped me grow leaps and bounds as a pupp—er, writer. Discovering how little you know is just as valuable.

When I left Mount Hermon after year one, the reality check devastated me. After year two, my lack of progress was disappointing—but disappointment is still a step up from devastation. After year three, I left encouraged and affirmed, ready to conquer the world one verb at a time. Here’s a video interview I did with the Mount Hermon folks about that experience. After year four, I found myself froofing around on cloud nine as I began breaking through as a bona fide writer.

And today, after year five, I’m sitting in the Seattle airport with a Burger King Whopper ruling my gut, hopeful that my dream of getting published might just be around the corner. God has something cool to show or give me every year. Like winning the Innovator Award (click to see a pic). I mean, how cool is that?

And finally…

3. The conference is held in a gorgeous retreat centre nestled in a Redwood forest fifteen minutes’ drive from Santa Cruz in Northern California.

I mean really. 

Oh, and the food is awesome. Need I say more?

Fellow Mount Hermonites, feel free to weigh in!

Check out the 2013 Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference.