In My Words: Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference

Me with BRMCWC Co-director Edie Melson


I’ve never heard a negative comment about the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC) — and now I know why.

I attended my first BRMCWC last week — and I hope it’s not my last one! I taught four “A Writer’s Life” workshops, each themed to a different segment of The Princess Bride movie:

  • A Writer’s Life: The Cliffs of Insanity
  • A Writer’s Life: The Fire Swamp
  • A Writer’s Life: The Pit of Despair
  • A Writer’s Life: Waiting for Vizzini

BRMCWC Director Alton Gansky with me and my husband

Alton Gansky, conference director, Edie Melson, conference co-director, and Eva Marie Everson, conference contest coordinator, put a lot of time, energy and prayer into making BRMCWC successful. The faculty roster is impressive and the list of classes — both continuing classes and one-time workshops — boggles the mind.

But the thing I will remember most about the conference?

How a sense of caring, of concern for others, was woven through each and every moment. I didn’t see a single ego show up last week — not a bit of “me first.” Instead, there was a continual attitude within the group (both faculty and attendees) of considering others more important.

There was laughter. (Think a faculty “un-talent” show.)

And worship. (I was so touched by Lynn DeShazo, who led us in worhsip, I invested in four of her CDs.)

And insight. (Keynote speakers who spoke with transparency and humility. And, yes, humor.)

Highlight: Finally meeting my online friend Patricia Hunter, who blogs at Pollywog Creek.

I know we’re only (almost) half-way through 2012. But when you start thinking about 2013 and what writing conferences you want to attend, put the BRMCWC at the top of your list!

Stayed up late, late one night talking with writer Pepper Basham -- & would do it again!


In Your Words: Did you attend BRMCWC this year or in the past? Any favorite memories? What other conferences do you have on your “must attend” list?

Had to post this "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" photo with Susan May Warren, Melissa Tagg, me & Edie Melson.



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  1. May 29, 2012, 5:52 am   /  Reply

    Oh. It sounds like a wonderful conference. I’m on the loop and finally had to quit looking at the pre-conference posts, because it made me want to attend. Glad it was a great experience.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 6:24 am   /  Reply

      I hope you put it on your “must attend for next year!

  2. May 29, 2012, 5:56 am   /  Reply

    I’ve never attended this conference, Beth, but it’s definitely on my list for the future now. Thanks so much for providing such a helpful, grace-filled insight.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 6:24 am   /  Reply

      I’m still savoring the memories — as is evident by this post.

  3. May 29, 2012, 6:02 am   /  Reply

    This was my second year at BRMCWC, and it was somehow even better than the last. It’s so much fun to reunite with people each time. I’ve also attended ACFW, and LOVED it, but it’s a completely different experience. Favorite memories? Yeesh. There are always some fun moments that come from that un-talent show. And I always know I’m going to be entertained and challenged any time Steven James takes the stage (don’t tell Mom). I think the most memorable moments, though, are always the conversations–just getting to spend time with other writers.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 6:25 am   /  Reply

      Agreed, Erynn.
      Talking with other writers is the best of the best times.
      The keynote speakers were all excellent, although I won’t forget Al’s comment: “Note to self: No props for Steven James.”

  4. May 29, 2012, 6:42 am   /  Reply

    I attended BRMCWC in 2009 and hope to go again. Beautiful site, and like you said, no egos show up. Everyone tries to help everyone else. Awesome time spent there. Wish I’d been there this year–sounds like y’all had so much fun!

    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 6:55 am   /  Reply

      The location is great, Pat! And my husband and daughter (who came along for some vacation time) also had fun hiking Chimney Rock Mountain, white water rafting, and exploring the Biltmore.

  5. May 29, 2012, 7:11 am   /  Reply

    Every year I think this is it, we’ll never top this oneโ€”then God shows up and the next is even better. We’re so blessed to be involved with this group. My conference highlight? Definitely watching Steven James and Susie May Warren discuss fiction. Two writing genius’s with specific ways of crafting a book that are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 7:24 am   /  Reply

      I’m sorry I missed Steven and Susie’s discussion. Those two are both so talented … and, as you said, view writing from opposite sides of the writing world.

  6. May 29, 2012, 7:23 am   /  Reply

    When I first saw your Princess Bride themed workshop, I was unsure how you tied that into the writer’s life – but after seeing The Cliffs of Insanity and the Pit of Despair, I got it right away! I bet it was a lot of fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I look forward to attending the BRMCWC, ACFW, She Speaks and so many others I’ve just discovered. I know the importance of conferences – I’ve been blessed to have gone to the MOPS Conventions in 2007 & 2008 – there is nothing else in the world like being surrounded by thousands of other people who have the same heart as you.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 7:25 am   /  Reply

      Yes, yes! Conferences are a must!
      And I’ve attended MOPS Conventions too — and will be speaking at Convention again this year. Will you be there?

      • May 29, 2012, 7:57 am   /  Reply

        No, I won’t be at MOPS Convention this year. I went while I was the coordinator of our local MOPS group, but now I serve as the Publicity and Discussion Group Leader and want the current Coordinator to attend (if she can). MOPS is AMAZING and has been such a big part of my family’s life these past six years. I would have loved to hear your speak at MOPS – maybe I’ll have to wait for that pleasure at a writer’s conference, instead! ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Beth Vogt
          May 29, 2012, 3:23 pm   /  Reply

          I applaud you for being so involved in MOPS. It is such a wonderful organization.

  7. Jeanne T
    May 29, 2012, 7:39 am   /  Reply

    Beth, sounds like a fabulous time! I’ll definitely have to consider this one for next year. With so many great conferences out there and a tight budget, choosing one next year will be difficult. Sigh. So glad you had a great time!

    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 3:24 pm   /  Reply

      It is a tough choice, Jeanne.

  8. May 29, 2012, 8:03 am   /  Reply

    It sounds like a blast! Is it fairly large or on the smaller side? I’m glad you had a fun time!

    As you know, I’m soooo looking forward to ACFW this September! Other than that, I don’t have any on my schedule, but you never know. I’ve heard good things about Mt. Hermon as well, and would love to attend that some year. I also would love to do an MBT retreat! So much good stuff!!

    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 3:23 pm   /  Reply

      The conference is large (r), but not as large as ACFW — and it has such a casual, friendly feeling to it.
      And I would highly recommend a MBT retreat. So, so helpful craft-wise — and much, much smaller than the standard writing conference. A great way to connect with other writers.

  9. May 29, 2012, 8:17 am   /  Reply

    Hi Beth,

    I agree wholeheartedly! Although the faculty and classes were top notch, it was the caring and giving spirit that drew me back for the second year. BRMCWC is already on my calendar for next year.

    I didn’t get the opportunity to meet you, but I heard great things about your class.



    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 3:22 pm   /  Reply

      Thank you for those encouraging words, Lynetta. Sorry we didn’t meet this year.
      Next year?

  10. May 29, 2012, 9:22 am   /  Reply

    Wow, sounds like a great conf. & I didn’t know they had a contest. Do they offer scholarships? I’ll have to consider for next year.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 3:21 pm   /  Reply

      Yes, Dee, the do offer scholarships.

  11. May 29, 2012, 9:31 am   /  Reply

    You are absolutely right! I attended Blue Ridge for the first time in 2010 and then again this year. I was amazed and humbled by faculty who remembered and welcomed me as if I were a ‘regular’, who spent their personal time visiting with conferees, and who displayed not only willingness but eagerness to help each of us grow in our craft. It is a blessing to count them as friends and to look to them as mentors.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 3:21 pm   /  Reply

      You’re echoing my sentiments exactly, Felicia!

  12. May 29, 2012, 12:18 pm   /  Reply

    Great conference as always, my sixth year at Blue Ridge. So happy you were on faculty this year. I enjoyed being in a couple of your classes. Wish I could have taken the whole course…next time! I believe those in your class were very encouraged and strengthened by your teaching. I came home determined to pull a writers group together and have about four people, yea! Thank you for sharing your heart.
    I enjoyed meeting your lovely family and hope to stay in touch.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 3:20 pm   /  Reply

      So, so excited that you’ve developed a writers group! Brava, friend! Please keep me posted.
      Loved connecting with you at BRMCWC!

  13. Patti Mallett
    May 29, 2012, 2:58 pm   /  Reply

    It sounds wonderful, Beth!! So glad you were able to both bless and be blessed!!

    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 3:19 pm   /  Reply

      I’m still savoring the memories, Patti.

  14. May 29, 2012, 3:11 pm   /  Reply

    Excuse me! Why did we not have our photo taken together???


    • Beth Vogt
      May 29, 2012, 3:19 pm   /  Reply

      Inconceivable is right! How did this happen?

  15. May 29, 2012, 4:31 pm   /  Reply

    It sounds fabulous! One day ๐Ÿ˜‰
    And you look great in those photos Beth!

  16. May 30, 2012, 4:29 pm   /  Reply

    Isn’t it the best? Love your blog post and feeling like I was there, at least for a moment.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 30, 2012, 10:50 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks, Kim.

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