The 2018 Workshop will be held

Friday and Saturday, June 8-9

Location: Tuscaloosa, Ala., at First Baptist Church

Time: Registration will start at 11 a.m. Friday, and sessions at 1:00 p.m.

On Saturday, doors will open at 8:00 a.m. The workshop will end at 4:00 p.m.

Four of our SCWC staff members — Joanne Sloan, Cheryl Wray, David Sloan, and Christopher Sloan — all of whom are successful published writers, will also give presentations. You can check them out by clicking here.


KEYNOTE SPEAKER  -  John Phillips 

KEYNOTE ADDRESS:   “How To Make a Full-time Living

in Writing”

WORKSHOP SESSION: “How To Write a Nonfiction Book”

John E. Phillips is one of the most prolific writers in America. He has published more than 100 books, more than 6,500 magazine articles, and several thousand newspaper columns. He also is a magazine editor, photographer (who has had 27,000 photos published), marketing consultant, and daily internet content provider.

He has contributed articles to about 100 magazines, has been affiliated with 27 radio stations as an outdoor editor, and written a weekly syndicated column, “Alabama Outdoors,” for 38 newspapers. He served as Outdoor Editor for the Birmingham Post-Herald for 24 years and was the executive editor for Great Days Outdoors magazine for three years.

He conducts college seminars across the nation in freelance writing, photography and outdoor education and speaks frequently to writers’ groups.

Along with his writing, he is the owner of Night Hawk Publications, a marketing and publishing firm, and president of Creative Concepts, an outdoor consulting group.

He is vitally interested in the outdoors and travels the nation collecting personalities, stories and how-to information for his articles and features.

He is a founding member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) and an active member of the Southeastern Outdoors Press Association (SEOPA).

He has received a number of awards for his work. In 2012, for example, he received the Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). He is the recipient of a Certificate of Merit from the Governor of Alabama and the Department of Conservation for his work in the outdoor field.


KEYNOTE ADDRESS: “Making Your Writing Dreams Come True”

WORKSHOP SESSION: “How To Create Conflict in Fiction”

Melanie Dickerson is a bestselling writer and winner of multiple awards for her novels. Most recently, her novel The Silent Songbird won the 2017 Christy Award (for Young Adult novel). The Christy Award is usually considered the top award for Christian writing.

A New York Times bestselling author, she combines her love for all things Medieval with her love of fairy tales, and her love for Jane Austen with romantic suspense. “I love medieval romance,” she says, “because it was such a colorful time in history, with its own particular rules of society, etiquette, feasts and festivals. I can let my imagination go with medieval romance, because there were so many interesting situations common in medieval romances, like betrothals that were legally binding, marriages for political purposes, not to mention that medieval clothes were so spectacularly different, and damsels were often in distress and in need of a knight in shining armor.”

Behind her writing is her Christian faith. Jesus Christ,” she explains, “is the Lord of my life. He has saved me from my sin and I live for Him. I love to talk to people about what He can do in your life, if you open yourself to His love. God is in the healing and saving business.”

She has published 14 novels, and, along with The Silent Songbird, three of them have won or been finalists for national awards. The Fairest Beauty was a Golden Quill finalist; The Merchant’s Daughter won the Carol Award and was a Christy Award finalist; and The Healer’s Apprentice (her first novel, published in 2010) won the National Readers Choice Award for Best First Book and the HOLT Medallion Award of Merit. It was also a finalist for the Christy Award, the Carol Award, the Golden Quill, and Maggie Award. Of The Healer’s Apprentice, the Romantic Times review said, “In her debut, Dickerson spins a magical tale.... Laced with plenty of romance, action, faith and fantasy, it’s a perfectly romantic and well-told tale.” Kirkus Reviews said, “The medieval German setting and fastidious details of period clothing, food, music and dance provide an ideal context.”

She has a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama. She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany, and the Ukraine. 


KAREN MOORE  -  Topic: “How To Make Your Idea Big

Enough for a Book”

Karen Moore is an award-winning author of more than sixty books.

Her inspirational and devotional books cover a wide range of topics and include daily devotionals and gift book formats. She is a regular author with Christians Art Gifts and has published with Simon & Schuster, Faith Words, Thomas Nelson, and Abingdon Press.

Her numerous books for children include How Noah Knew What to Do, illustrated by the renowned artist Pete Kersten, and two books for the “Little Angels” series with Roma Downey. She works to develop children’s books and specialty concepts for several publishers.

She also utilizes her writing talents as a greeting card professional. She teaches greeting card writing and has published nearly 10,000 greeting cards. She works with American Greetings, DaySpring Cards, and other publishers to develop card lines and concepts.

She also has written several books for teens and tweens, including one for Joyce Meyer.

She is a much sought after conference speaker and a mentor for authors and other aspiring artists. She addresses a variety of inspirational, motivational, and practical writing tips to writer’s groups and other specialty groups across the country.

Her work in all the areas of publishing has served her well as a mentor and coach for authors. She listens with her heart, writes with compassion, and filters out what’s important. Karen’s goal is always to create the best possible work for her readers and her clients.

She has an M.Ed. degree and has taught in both grade schools and colleges.

JENNIFER DAVIS RASH Topic: “How To Find Your Place in a Saturated Writers Market”

Jennifer Davis Rash is editor-elect of The Alabama Baptist (TAB), the newspaper serving Baptists affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and other Baptist and evangelical Christian groups.

She oversees the weekly production of TAB in all its formats (print, digital, social media, etc.).

She has worked at TAB since 1996, filling roles such as news writer, news editor, managing editor (2002-2011), executive editor (2011-present), and now editor-elect.

The Alabama Baptist has the largest circulation of all Southern Baptist state papers in the nation and one of the largest circulations of any publication in Alabama. It has won more than 200 national awards during Jennifer’s tenure, including top regional Christian newspaper in the nation for more than 20 years.

She has personally won national writing awards for investigative reporting, news writing, feature writing, blog writing and for online, broadcast, and video work. 

She is an honors graduate of the University of Alabama, where she won the Outstanding Journalism Student Award, and has a master’s of theological studies from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham.

Jeninfer has served in leadership positions with Baptist Communicators Association, Associated Church Press and Religion Communicators Council.

You can follow her @RashionalThts on Twitter or at www.rashionalthoughts.com

ALECIA ARCHIBALD  -  Topic: “Writing for Trade Magazines”

Alecia Archibald is senior editor for production and content marketing at the Cahaba Media Group. The company publishes several trade magazines.

Writers, when they think of magazines, often have “consumer” magazines in mind — but trade magazines may offer better opportunities for getting published. “Trade magazines” are aimed at industries or professions and publish articles of useful information (whereas consumer magazines are sold to the general public).

At Cahaba, Alecia develops marketing concepts and programs for editorial products, manages editorial production, oversees the creation of covers, spearheads the company’s digital content strategy, and heads other big projects, both print and digital, for all of Cahaba’s publications.

BRUCE R. BARBOUR  -  Topic: “How To Prepare a Book Proposal

That Will Get an Agent's Attention

Bruce Barbour is one of the world’s most notable names in Christian publishing.

    He is the fourth generation of a publishing family that has served authors and publishers for more than 140 years. In 1870, his great-grand uncles, Fleming H. Revell and Dwight Moody, started publishing Christian books.

   Among his various activities, he co-founded Barbour and Company and served as its executive vice president from 1983 to 1986. Today it is a leading Christian publisher. He has held executive positions at several publishing houses, including Fleming H. Revell Company (family-owned business sold in 1979), Barbour and Company, Thomas Nelson (VP, Publisher, 1986-1993), and Random House (VP, Publisher, 1994-1996).

    In 1997, Bruce founded Literary Management Group, Inc., a full-service literary agency and publishing consulting firm that has represented best-selling authors and properties including Zig Ziglar, Sandra Felton, and The Beginner’s Bible and consulted with publishing houses including Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, Gospel Light, Pneuma Life, Legacy, New Hope, White Stone Books, and others. His expertise in editorial, sales, marketing, and management provides superior counsel and ad­vice for both authors and publishers.

    At the SCWC, he will be available for free, individual consultations.

Three LITERARY AGENTS will be available throughout the conference for individual sessions with attendees. You can find detailed information about them below.

They are Sally Apokedak of the Apokedak Agency and Bruce Barbour and Karen Moore (husband and wife) of the Literary Management Group.

Sally Apokedak, after years of experience as a literary agent, founded the Apokedak Agency this spring.

Bruce Barbour in 1997, drawing on his extensive background in publishing, founded Literary Management Group, a full-service literary agency and publishing consulting firm that has represented many best-selling authors and properties.

Karen Moore has held executive positions at Thomas Nelson, American Greetings, DC Cook, and Gibson Greetings. She has agented, written, and published children’s and a variety of other books.

RAMONA RICHARDS  -  Topic: “Working with a Christian Book Publisher”

Ramona Richards is associate publisher of New Hope Publishers. New Hope has twice (2009 and 2015) been chosen as book publisher of the year by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Along with New Hope, Ramona has served as an editor for three other major book publishers — Abingdon Press, Thomas Nelson, and Rutledge Hill Press — and for Ideals magazine. She also has freelanced for more than a dozen others.

As an editor, she has worked on more than 300 publications, including children’s books, fiction, nonfiction, study Bibles, and reference books for a number of major Christian publishers.

After a career as an editor with Rutledge Hill and Thomas Nelson, she then started her own editorial business and has edited as a freelancer for two dozen publishers, including Barbour Books, Harlequin, Honor Books, Howard Publishing, LifeWay, NavPress, and W Publishing Group.

She joined New Hope Publishers in 2017.

Along with her editing, she has written seven novels, three books of devotions, and numerous magazine articles. She published her first book when she was only 18. Her latest, My Mother’s Quilts, is from Worthy Publishing.

For registration information, click here.



GRETCHEN COOK  -  Topic: “Writing for Regional


Gretchen Cook is owner and editor of Parents & Kids Magazine. She founded it in 2003. Since then, the magazine has grown from six to 60 issues a year, with five regional editions.

She began her career as a librarian and, as librarians sometimes are prone to do, believed she could write at least as well as the authors of the materials she was handling. That led to her launching a freelance writing business, which led to her becoming an editor, which in turn led her to become a publisher.

She considers Parents & Kids a writers’ incubator and is willing to work with new writers. She says that some of her proudest moments have been when she has had to part ways with writers because she could no longer keep them!

She conducts annual writers’ summits to advise new writers on how to get published. Additionally she has taught “Get your words in print” workshops in the enrichment program at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. 

She believes it is important for Christians to seek publication in all types of publication — both secular and Christian. “The more we can get our values in print,” she says, “the greater an impact we can have on culture.”

SALLY APOKEDAK  -  Topic: “Working with a Literary Agent”

Sally Apokedak is founder and owner of the Apokedak Literary Agency. Before founding the agency this year, she worked as an agent for Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency, one of the nation’s premier agencies. When Stobbe retired and sold the agency, Sally began her own agency.

“I have been the agent for several bestselling books and some award-winning books,” she says, “and I am so grateful that my clients trust me with their careers, and allow me to come along for the ride.”

She is also the owner of Paraklesis Press. “Since,” she says, “I’ve been a writer for so long and since I’ve loved writers for so long and since I am an agent who fights for my authors to try to get them a living wage for their books, it is important to me to pay an advance.”

As an agent, she has worked with authors of children’s books, nonfiction books for all ages, women’s novels, picture books, middle grade books, young adult books (particularly fantasy), nonfiction for all ages (devotional books, Christian living, science for young children, and biography), and adult inspirational books (particularly fantasy and romantic suspense).

Sally has worked as the children’s writing editor for Bella Online and was the manager of the Kidz Book Buzz blog tour, through which she worked with such bestselling authors as Jeanne DuPrau, Ingrid Law, and Shannon Hale.

In a recent online interview, she explained what she enjoys about being a literary agent: “There are so many things I love about this job. I love it when I read a great manuscript and I think, ‘This one is going to be big.’ I love to hang with writers, to brainstorm books with them. I love editing really good manuscripts, helping make them into really great manuscripts. And I love conferences.”

KELLY KAZEK  -  Topic: “Using Humor in Your Writing”

Kelly Kazek is the unofficial Weird News Reporter of Alabama. She writes humor columns and stories about odd roadside attractions and quirky history for AL.com, Alabama’s largest media presence. She also writes about the south for “It’s a Southern Thing” and her blog at KellyKazek.com.

She is the author of nine books, including the humor collections Not Quite Right: Mostly True Tales of a Weird News Reporter and Fairly Odd Mother: Musings of a Slightly Off Southern Mom.

In her 32-year career in journalism, she has won more than 180 state and national press awards, including two Alabama Associated Press Sweepstakes Awards for best story of the year, and national honors for Best Humorous Commentary (the Society of Professional Journalists), Best Column Writing (Suburban Newspapers of America) and Feature Writer of the Year (award given by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.).

She was editor of the newspaper in Athens, Alabama, for 11 years and twice served as president of the Alabama Associated Press Media Editors.

She describes herself as a “middle-aged newlywed” and lives in Huntsville with her husband, known to her readers as “Sweetums.”

ANGELA BENSON  -  Topic: “How To Write a Novel”

Angela Benson has written 14 novels, two novellas, and a nonfiction book about writing. Her book Telling Your Tale: A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction was published in 2016.

Her work has been published by six major publishers, including Harlequin, Tyndale House, Berkeley and HarperCollins. She writes, on average, almost a book each year. Her books have appeared on national, regional and local bestseller lists, and she has won several writing awards, including Best Multicultural Romance from Romantic Times magazine, and Best Contemporary Ethnic Romance from Affaire de Coeur magazine. She was a finalist for the 2000 Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award in Multicultural Romance.

In 2000, she turned her writing to Christian fiction with the publication of Awakening Mercy, the first book in her Genesis House series from Tyndale House Publishers. It was a finalist for both the RITA Award given by Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction. The second book in the series, Abiding Hope, was published in 2001. It was awarded the Emma Award for Best Inspirational Romance presented by the Romance Slam Jam. BET Books, now Harlequin's Kimani Press, purchased the mass market rights to Awakening Mercy and Abiding Hope and released them in mass market editions.

In 2005 Walk Worthy Press released her first hardcover title, The Amen Sisters. It became a bestseller and won the Emma Award for Best Inspirational Romance. It was released as a trade paperback in 2007. Up Pops the Devil, published by HarperCollins (Avon A) in 2008, was her 11th novel. It was selected the November 2008 African-American Book Club Pick at Books-A-Million and was featured in the September-October 2008 issue of UPSCALE Magazine.

She has a diverse education and work history. She majored in mathematics at Spelman College and in Industrial Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and then worked for 15 years as an engineer in the telecommunications industry. She has masters degrees in operations research and human resources development and a Ph.D. in instructional technology from the University of Georgia. Dr. Benson is an associate professor of educational technology at the University of Alabama.        

KEITH ELDER  -  Topic: “Songwriting”

Keith Elder, songwriter and singer, has recorded seven music albums. His latest is Mine That Moountain.

He has performed and spoken for over 30 years at concerts, conferences, and church events. Along with music for his albums, he has written many theme songs for service organizations and special events and also has written and produced several small-scale musicals. Even while serving as a pastor and youth director, he continued to write and record, play small concert venues, and provide leadership for special events.

His songs are life/people songs crossing the lines of Christian, folk/Americana, musical theater, and borderline bluegrass. He says he just writes what come out on a given day. Call him “genre-challenged,” he explains, but these days he is “shooting for an honest word, a compelling story, and a fitting musical form to carry the message.” His favorite songwriter quote comes from the legendary Roger Miller: “Songwriting is easy. It’s like taking candy ... from a bear.”

Because new songs continue to surface, his concerts are always changing, but all include songs, stories, heartfelt moments, and food for thought. If you hear echoes of James Taylor, John Denver, or Larry Gatlin, you won’t be the first.

Along with his musical activities, he pastors The Church at Cahaba Bend in Helena, Alabama.

CINDY JONES  -  Topic: “Building Your Writing Brand Through Social Media”

Cindy Jones is a freelance writer who also operates a business that provides content, manages social media, and does digital marketing. She works with small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop unique personal branding. She recently compiled the Gulf Shores RootsRated.com online city guide website and app dedicated to local experts and outdoor recreation. She is Social Media Manager for two real estate companies in Gulf Shores, Ala., and she provides for other real estate agents monthly newsletters blog content, and other marketing materials spanning Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

As a writer, she has had articles published in Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family Magazine, Lifeway’s Journey Devotional for Women, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and other magazines. Her writing has won various awards, including first place in the Alabama Professional Media NonFiction Category. She has founded and facilitated creative writing groups in Alabama and Mississippi for all ages.