Thursday, January 30, 2014

Interview With a Conference Director—Eva Marie Everson—Florida Christian Writers Conference

Eva Marie Everson
I’m continuing my series introducing you to the people behind the conferences. Today I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Eva Marie Everson. I first met Eva when I was an attendee at Blue Ridge, and she was part of the faculty. As a matter of fact, she helped me get one of my first articles published with 

I’ve been privileged to sit in many of her classes, as have many of you. And if her name sounds familiar, not only is she a best selling author and conference director, she’s also the contest director at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

EM: When did you take over this conference?
EVA MARIE: Last year. After the death of Billie Wilson’s husband (Billie had started and run the conference for 25 years), she asked that someone else take it over. Through a series of events, that responsibility ended up with Mark Hancock and me.

EM: As the director of this conference, can you share a little of your philosophy behind running a conference?
EVA MARIE: “Do it well …” As a published writer, and as a faculty member at multiple conferences over the years, I felt I knew what conferees and faculty would be looking for. I think Mark and I bring that to the table at Florida Christian Writers Conference. We have a lot of fun, but we also make certain the conferees, who work hard for the money spent to come, will leave with more knowledge than they know what to do with. We make certain the networking opportunities are there. And, we make certain our faculty is treated well.

EM: What do you offer that’s different from most conferences?
EVA MARIE: Mark, Sarah Bulls (our conference manager), and Taryn Souders (our conference social director) and I have worked to incorporate a lot of different events you may not find at any other conference … or that you won’t find all together at another conference. 
  • On Wednesday afternoon we have a Book Proposal Studio (conferees walk in with an idea and walk out with a full-fledged book proposal) and a Pitch Studio (where conferees learn to give that all-important “elevator pitch). These are taught by Kathy Bruins and Kim de Blecourt (book proposal studio) and Fay Lamb (pitch studio). 
  • Wednesday evening we’ll have a social gathering (a chance to network) with dessert by Lake Yale (complete with little twinkle lights in the trees) and, later on (God help us) Karaoke Night. 
  • Thursday night we have “movie night” featuring Brent McCorkle’s “Unconditional” (with Brent McCorkle in the house). 
  • Friday night we have critique groups using the Word Weaver’s method of critique (Word WeaversInternational, Inc. owns the conference). 
  • Saturday evening we have our awards banquet (a nice, dressy affair).

In between all this we have 8 continuing classes, nearly 60 workshops, 6 extended workshops … and a chance to meet with agents, editors, and freelancers who are considered the top in the biz.

Mark Hancock
EM: What are some highlights from years past—for you and for attendees?
EVA MARIE: Just focusing on last year (since this was the first year Mark and I took over) … I think we managed to jazz things up a bit. Mark is truly my brother in the Lord; we have playful banter that leaves the conferees laughing but also lets them know that, with the seriousness of what they are doing there, there is much joy in the midst. 

We also brought in Robert Gorini, a praise and worship leader who, last year (and we expect this year) helped us usher the Holy Spirit into the conference in such an amazing way. Our devotional leader is Marti Pieper. Marti also coordinates the “Prayer Box” where anyone with a prayer request can bring that to her attention. We also have an “on faculty” photographer who is there to capture the moments for us to cherish and to professionally photograph our conferees (with option to purchase) those much-needed headshots.

EM: Who do you have coming this year?
EVA MARIE: Well … you. We are excited to have you lead one of our extended workshops. We have Ellie Kay, Brent McCorkle, and Todd Starnes as our keynoters. In addition to that, nearly 55 other faculty members! For a complete list, go to: and click on the “2014 Faculty and Workshops” button.

EM: Do you think a conference is an important step for a writer to take? 
EVA MARIE: Ab.So.Lute.Ly. I cannot stress it enough. It is the way for a new writer to get into the business, to learn about the business, to know the changes within the industry (especially for those writers who have been at it for a while …), to make those much-needed contacts and connections. I simply cannot stress it enough.

EM: Anything you’d wished I’d asked?

EVA MARIE: How about … “Eva Marie, how do you put up with Mark as well as you do?” Answer: “It’s a gift. Truly. I use all the fruits of the Spirit. Come to the conference and watch me at work!” LOL

Eva Marie Everson is an award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction as well as an award-winning national and international speaker. She has worked closely with Israel Ministry of Tourism to bring Christian pilgrims and journalists to The Land of the Bible, teaches at writers conferences across the US and, in 2011, served as a adjunct professor at Taylor University in Upland, IN. Eva Marie is the president of Word Weavers International, Inc., made up of face-to-face critique chapters in the US and Canada. She is the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, a role she shares with Mark Hancock.

Eva Marie has worked with a number of publishers--and not because she is difficult to get along with. Among those she has been honored to work with are: Barbour, David C. Cook, NavPress, Baker Publishing Group, Broadman Holman, and Thomas Nelson. In 2012, B&H, along with Harbinger Media, honored Eva Marie by asking her to novelize the movie Unconditional. Eva Marie has been chosen to be a part of the Spirit of Naples Storytellers Conference, 2013.


  1. I have a feeling that my first writer's conference is the best writer's conference! Thank You!

    1. So glad you are going! I will never forget my first one. I thought I could write, lol. There is so much to learn. Keep your ears and your mind open and have a great time! God is certainly ordering your steps!

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  3. This will be the third year that I will take my daughter to the conference (15yr old). She has learned so much that I consider it part of her schooling since she has a passion for writing. Every year I see her growth as a writer because of the teen track lead by Bryan Davis and the other classes that are offered. Eva Marie and Mark do an incredible job with the conference making it fun and a great learning experience.

  4. Eva Marie was the very first person I ever took a class from at my very first conference. :)