Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thursday Review—the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference

photo provided by Mary Denman
The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference is unique in what it offers those attending. Ask those who’ve come in the past to describe their experience and you’ll frequently find the conference described as a small gathering of family and friends. That may seem odd, considering it’s one of the largest Christian conferences in the US. 
But this description is at the heart of why so many return to Blue Ridge year after year. In spite of the numbers, the staff and faculty are committed to meeting the needs of each individual. Everything has been carefully planned to encourage a camaraderie of writers growing together in their craft and in their faith.
If you haven’t attended, here are some of the highlights:
Photo provided by Mary Denman
Registration is where it all begins on Sunday afternoon. You’ll hear squeals of recognition, as well as a murmur of introductions as lifelong friendships take root. This is also where the newbies gather, excited to put faces to names. Most have already met through the Blue Ridge Yahoo group where writers gather to network before and after the conference. Membership is moderated by Edie Melson to prevent spammers, but encouraged for anyone who has ever attended or who’s interested in attending the conference.
After everyone gets settled into their rooms and has supper, the first big meeting takes place. The Monday night kick-off includes the first keynote of the week and after, an introduction to the faculty. Alton Gansky—Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference director—gives a run-down of any last minute schedule changes and then dismisses the assembly to sign-up for the coveted 15 minute appointments.
Meals are a great place to meet with the faculty and network with other writers. Each round table in the cafeteria has the name of a faculty member posted and attendees are encouraged to use lunch and supper to meet with faculty. Breakfast is informal, with faculty not required to attend, but lunch and dinner are a great time to make valuable contacts.
Classes are divided into several categories:
Photo courtesy of Mary Denman
  • Continuing Classes are classes that continue all week during that time slot and build on previous sessions. To get the most from these classes it’s best to stick with the same one all week if possible. But if you find yourself in a class that doesn’t fit, don’t hesitate to change to one that does.
  • Workshops are one time sessions. These classes give you all the information during one class time.
  • Practicums are special, hands-on classes. These vary in how many sessions they are held. Some are only one session, others last all day—everyday. There are two offered that require PRE-REGISTRATION, so be sure to check the class listings.
  • Next.Level Classes are sessions geared toward the more experienced writer and contain advanced material.
  • One of the unique aspects of Blue Ridge is the fact that attendees aren’t required to sign up for a classes in advance. We understand that your needs change—sometimes abruptly—and what you thought you wanted to concentrate on when you signed up for the conference may be radically different from what you need when you arrive. 

Photo courtesy of Mary Denman
Evenings are special at Blue Ridge, beginning with keynotes from amazing professionals. They also include a chance to see the sillier side of some of our faculty with an always hilarious improv offering.
After hours you’ll find groups gathering at Clouds coffee shop (where they serve Starbucks coffee) or in the lobby of Mountain Laurel. Many times faculty will sit around talking and catching up—but don’t shy away—the point is always to include attendees and make them feel like they belong.
15 Minute Appointments are held in a central location—the Rhododendron Auditorium—you’ll find others waiting who are just as nervous as you, so don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation.
Awards Banquet on Wednesday night is a highlight for everyone—no matter if you entered a contest or not. By then you’ve made close friends out of strangers and everyone has someone to root for. The dress for the banquet is varied. It’s a fun time to dress up a little, but no one goes overboard. Just a nice dress or slacks for the ladies and a jacket for the men—ties always optional.
I hope this gives you a taste of what to expect. It’s by no means exhaustive, but hey, everyone needs a few good surprises. I’m looking forward to meeting all of you at the 2011 conference and hopefully the Yahoo group as well! 

To make reservations for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer's Conference, call 1.800.588.7222.
To register online click here.
Now it's your turn, if you've attended Blue Ridge in the past, please share one of your highlights from years past.
Don't forget to join the conversation!


  1. I attended BRMCWC for the first time last year and I cannot wait to return in May! There are several things I especially appreciated. The faculty is approachable and classes are informative, but the best part of the week? The friends that are made -- lifelong friends. Of course, redeeming my punch card at the end of the week for a free coffee at Cloud 9 topped it off!

  2. One of the best! Enjoy, everyone who attends this year.

  3. I've had the opportunity to attend BRMCWC for 2 years and can say without a doubt that it was the best thing I did for my writing. I sold my first article while meeting with an editor but most importantly I learned so much. Not to mention I found hundreds of "kindred spirits" -- those of us who call ourselves writers..

    I won't be able to attend this year due to circumstances beyond my control, but if the Lord provides for next year I will definitely be back. It is worth the investment of time and money.

    To all my friends that are going ... Can't wait to hear what God does this year! Praying for all of you!