2016 Lesser-Known Writing Workshops, Conferences and Retreats

Since joining the Redbud Writers Guild, in early 2013, I’ve been intentionally rubbing shoulders deeply and frequently with the amazing women in our guild. Because our network of women writers has been ever-expanding (we now number around 125, with the goal of 500 in 5 years), so has my personal network. As a result, I’ve been blessed with relationships and opportunities of which I’d not been aware otherwise.

One of those opportunities was attending the recent Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, where the Redbuds also gathered frequently and tried to be fairly ubiquitous, so we can become more of a presence in the field of Christian writing. Of course it was fantastic gathering at the festival with like-minded people: book lovers, writers, aspiring writers, editors, bloggers, publishers, etc. There were something like 2.5K in attendance and the number of sessions and other opportunities were, at best, amazingly-prolific and, at worst, overwhelming and paralyzing. Sometimes both. 🙂 Yet while it was awesome, there wasn’t time dedicate to actually writing if you became particularly inspired, because, ironically or not, that wasn’t the point of those 3 days.

There are opportunities, however, for people who want or need to actually work on their craft in community with others, and I’ve come to know about a small bevy of them as a result of that expanding network.
So, for those readers of my blog who are interested in writing, either avocationally or vocationally, I thought I’d pass along some of the notifications I’ve received about the lesser-known opportunities to gather in more intimate settings than big writer’s conferences. Below I’ve started a list of links to lesser-known opportunities for intensive craft development in smaller, groups of writers, editors, and publishers, often in someone’s home, converted barn, or even private island (oh yes). I’m limiting this list to opportunities offered by Christian writers, editors, and publishers, because it could get unwieldy otherwise.
I’ll keep adding to this list as I’m aware of more opportunities. If you know of others not listed here, please feel free to place it in the comments (subject to approval, as always) and/or write me at info@natalieeastman.com to make me aware of it. Please provide me with a link and anything else that is particularly noteworthy about it.

In order by month…

Faith and Culture Writer’s Conference (April. Portland, OR). (Thank you for this info, Leslie Leyland Fields)

The Glen Workshop (July-August. New Mexico. Karen Swallow Prior; emphasis on becoming good readers to become good writers)

God’s Whisper Farm Writers Retreat (July. Virginia. Andi Cumbo-Floyd)

Harvester Island Wilderness Writers Workshop (September. Alaska (and I mean it doesn’t get much more Alaska than a private island off an island off the coast of Alaska). Leslie Leyland Fields. Guest Writers  – Jeanne Murray Walker and Luci Shaw)

Breathe (October. Cornerstone Univ. in Grand Rapids).  (Thank you for this info, Leslie Leyland Fields)


About Natalie, As Author, Part 2: The Development of My Writing

I’d sure like for us to become better acquainted. It’s kind of awkward over the internet. However, I have a few Q&A items that might serve us to this end.

Today’s centers on my development as a writer.

I hope that you will comment below and introduce yourself, as well, and let me know what brought you here.

Thank you! In advance: it’s nice to meet you.

How has your writing developed over the years?

Since high school, people have told me that I’m a good (at times, excellent) writer; however, I never considered myself a writer—not until, that is, God tapped me to write a book to encourage women to develop themselves biblically and theologically (about ’01). I’ve worked hard to develop my writing voice as I’ve crafted what eventually became Women, Leadership, & the Bible: How Do I Know What to Believe?

I invested four years, tons of effort and study, and $10K into a D.Min. degree primarily to force myself to hone the idea in writing and, subsequently, complete the primary research. I attended two (maybe three) years of the Writer’s Publishing Workshop, offered at Gordon-Conwell, submitting my idea and writing to peers, editors, and publishers for feedback and learning. For six years, I attended the Society of Biblical Literature/American Academy of Religion’s annual meetings so I could make contacts for the book’s emergence and take advantage of every writing workshop either association offered.

Initially, I attended the Synergy Women’s Network conferences primarily for the same reasons; then I attended it for those reasons, plus I’d finally found a place that I felt I could “breathe” theologically and as a woman. I not only wanted to make contacts and improve myself there, but I wanted to participate as fully as I could and contribute significantly to other women’s well-being, as well as the network’s.

It’s taken me twelve years to write the book, so I’ve had a lot of time to develop my writer’s voice. I sought and received excellent—and often helpfully critical—feedback on my style, making the end product clearer and hopefully more enjoyable for a reader.