Mona Speaks to Writers

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Are you planning a one-day seminar or a multi-day conference for writers?

Whether Mona leads a comprehensive class, teaches a workshop, or gives a keynote address, she draws from her experiences as a nonfiction writer, novelist, children’s author, and poet to offer practical instruction, inspiration, humor, and encouragement.

Mona’s Schools of Writing and Writers Conference Faculty Credits Include:

  • YWAM (Youth With A Mission) School of Writing in Texas and Kona
  • Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in California
  • Colorado Christian Writers Conference
  • Florida Christian Writers Conference
  • Write! Canada Conference in Ontario, Canada
  • Write to Publish Conference at Wheaton College in Illinois
  • Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference
  • Orange County Christian Writers in California
  • Oregon Christian Writers Conference
  • ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) East Valley Chapter, Arizona
  • Wrangling with Writing Conference in Arizona
  • Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Pennsylvania
  • North Texas Christian Writers Conference
  • Texas Christian Writers Conference
  • Inspirational Writers Alive! in Texas
  • Sandy Cove Christian Writers Conference in Maryland
  • American Christian Writers Conferences in several states
  • Twin Cities Christian Writers Conference in Iowa
  • Glorieta Christian Writers Conference in New Mexico
  • Food for the Hungry Public Relations Conferences in Arizona
  • Various other writers groups

Other Industry Involvements Include:

  • Director of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, 2014-2016.
  • Professional memberships in the); Christian Authors Network (CAN); Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA); Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).
  • Founded and directed of the annual Glorieta Christian Writers Conference in New Mexico for five years, 1997-2001.
  • Founded and directed the Central Arizona Christian Writers Workshop, 1993-1995.
  • Former poets columnist for The Christian Communicator and for the Cross & Quill.

Mona’s Faith Journey

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My cousin Irene inspired my career goal to be a nurse. Like her. Although I preferred words over numbers or science projects, becoming a writer had never crossed my mind. Until I hit the age of thirty.

Soon after I graduated from high school, I met Bob Hodgson. My parents, and others, gasped when I set my career goals and university application aside. Bob and I married that same year–1972. In 1975 and 1977, I gave birth to daughters.

Bob eventually became a Sheriff’s deputy, and in 1983 the four of us attended a retreat for Law Enforcement families at the Forest Home Conference Center in California. There, I had my first encounter with a real writer! While Carol the writer’s interviewed Bob and I for a magazine article, the thought of being a writer enthralled me.

I picked up a copy of The Christian Writer’s Handbook by Margaret Anderson and subscribed to The Christian Writer (now available as the Christian Communicator). Bob encouraged me, reminding me of my prolific letter-writing habit and the positive responses I received from their recipients.

Still, I didn’t have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English or Journalism. Nor did I have any extraordinary life experiences in my history. What did I have to draw from?

Doubt and fear plagued me and I gave in to them, launching what I call my Jonah Journey.

In the fall of l984, I enrolled in a nursing program, headed in the opposite direction of my Nineveh. Before the end of the first year of anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and college algebra, the stress of going my own way landed me in a hospital bed. As I lay in a hospital bed watching a nurse switch out a bag of fluids for my I.V., I realized a nursing career wasn’t the path for me.

I went to my college counselor and discussed switching my major to music. After all, I liked playing the piano and I had taught piano lessons. Easy to see I was more qualified to teach music, than I was equipped to be a writer.

It didn’t take more than a brief discussion with the dean of music for me to realize that a music career wasn’t right for me either.

Writing. That’s where my thoughts seemed to settle.

The end of 1986, during a walk with my Dad, I shared my pesky little interest in writing. Like Bob, Dad didn’t seem to think being a writer was so strange an idea.

The next summer I responded to an ad for a correspondence course (picture an online course today) offered by Christian Writers’ Fellowship International. After reviewing the writing sample, my instructor recommended that I enroll in the unit on writing daily devotionals. I did.

In November 1987, my first acceptance letter and non-acceptance letter arrived in the same envelope from The Secret Place, a quarterly daily devotional. I moved on to correspondence course units in various genres including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; all the while taking writing courses at the local community college and attending at least two writers’ conferences each year since the Spring of l988.

I entered the ambiguous world of publishing nearly three decades ago, and soon had aspirations of writing nonfiction books for women. Instead, I wrote devotionals, short stories, poems, profiles, personal experience stories, how-to articles, and book reviews for fifty different periodicals, plus a weekly newspaper column.

In 1990, while my dad and I walked a dirt road toward a creek, we discovered a deserted and dilapidated cabin not much bigger than my dining room. My imagination immediately planted seeds from which the premise for a novel sprouted. Next, I took countless novel-writing courses to learn the craft of writing fiction.

Women’s fiction wasn’t my first book published in 1998. God had other plans. When an idea for a children’s story tickled my imagination, I wrote it, studied writing for children, had the story critiqued by a published author, and then showed the book to an editor at a writers’ conference. Nineteen years later, my writing credits include 32 published children’s books.

Still, my heart remembered the dream to write and publish novels for women.

In 2008, I sent the first twenty pages of that endeavor to ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) as an entry in their Genesis contest for unpublished novelists. Later that year, at the annual ACFW conference, my writing sample was awarded First Place for Historical Fiction.

March 31, 2009 my agent called. She’d shown the proposal for my historical novel set in Jerome, a historical copper mining camp in Arizona, to several editors, and had heard back from one who was interested in publishing me.

In an out-of-the-ordinary situation, the editor asked if I’d be willing to adapt my story premise and move it to Cripple Creek, Colorado. Still set in the late 1890’s. Still taking place in a mining camp, but gold instead of copper. I said “Yes!”

When the editor suggested a series that included four sisters coming west, she nor my agent knew I was one of four sisters. I leaped at the chance to write that story, incorporating a few of the characters and plot points from the Jerome novel. Dr. Morgan Cutshaw, Lewis P. Whibley, and a devastating fire all found their way into Two Brides Too Many, Book One of four in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series.

As they say, the rest is history. I now have 11 novels and novellas published with WaterBrook Multnomah, Barbour Publishing, and Guideposts Books.

Fast forward to 2017. I’ve returned to my publishing roots and first publishing daydream—to write nonfiction books for women. I’ve written 10 devotionals to be published in Every Day with Jesus with Guideposts Books in 2018. And, yes, I’m currently writing my first nonfiction book for women.

I’m over-the-top thankful that God persists in pursuing us with His plans and for His purposes.

Stay connected with me on my Facebook page and through my eNewsletter to find out what’s next.

Comprehensive Courses

These multi-session courses are designed for 4-8 hours of class time.

Topic 1: The Art and Exercise of Writing for Children

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This interactive course offers an overview of writing for children from birth to age twelve. Learn about publishing’s age group divisions, fiction and nonfiction formats for books and magazines, the artistic technique of writing for children, and much more.

Topic 2: The Heart of Fiction (Storytelling for Beginning to Intermediate Writers)

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The hunger for a gripping story gnaws at our core. That need sticks our nose in other people’s business, glues us to news programs, takes us to the library, and sells loads of fiction. But what is it about “story” that makes it so powerful? What goes into a tale that engages readers and holds them spellbound? Come find out. Learn how get to the heart of fiction.

Topic 3: Pathways to Publication (Laying the Foundation for Beginning to Intermediate Writers)

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These interactive sessions will help the beginning and intermediate writer discover who they will write to and what they have to say; learn to recognize, test, develop, and focus ideas; discern good writing; cultivate creativity; learn the value of and how-to’s of marketing; format manuscripts for submission; understand publishing rights; compile a strong book proposal; and more.

Workshops

These sessions are designed for 45-minutes to 120-minutes each.

Workshops for Non-Fiction Writers

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Storytelling Secrets to Breathe Life into Your Narrative Nonfiction

From characterization to conflict, dialogue to action tags, learn how to use fiction techniques to breathe life into your nonfiction.

Hand Out Word Candy

Discover how the use of figurative language and imagery can add compelling layers to your nonfiction or fiction.

Workshops for Fiction Writers

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Building an Arc: Your Character Needs One

To move a reader, the writer must first move a character. A character the reader cares about seeing moved. Participants in this interactive workshop will explore what causes a character to move or change, and how to write that organic transformation into the story.

Hand Out Word Candy

Discover how the use of figurative language and imagery can add compelling layers to your fiction or nonfiction.

Researching History for the Story

Historical research involves so much more than digging into a setting or time period for historical accuracy. Learn how to research the history of your chosen setting and time period for characterization, plotting, and so much more.

Romancing the Reader

What is a Romance Novel? Is a story with romance, always a Romance Novel? What are the expectations of a romance reader? This workshop answers these questions and many more in an exploration of what it takes to write in this best selling category.

Workshops for Children’s Writers

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Story Building Blocks for Children’s Writers

A solid story consists of a beginning, middle, and ending. Does your story have the necessary components? This popular workshop provides the building materials you need to lay the foundation for a compelling story.

Writing Books For Young Children

Come to this workshop for an overview of how to write and sell board books and picture books, including age groups breakdowns and submission formats.

Mona Speaks to WomenMona Speaks to Students and Educators