Category Archives: Events

4 Surprising Things You Can Expect from a Christian Writers Conference



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Have you ever had a moment when you knew, with utter clarity, that God was speaking to you?

I had one of those moments in January 2015. I had just finished reading an encouraging email from a Christian blog when I heard God say these words: “I’m going to send you somewhere…and you’re going to go.”

I was so excited! Although I had often dreamed of doing missions work, God had never sent me anywhere before. Figuring He would reveal the details over time, I replied simply, “Okay, Lord. Just let me know where.”

Then I flipped over to Facebook and saw the latest post from Todd Starnes, a writer and journalist with FoxNews. In his feed, he announced that he would be the keynote speaker at the Florida Christian Writers Conference (FCWC) the following month. “I hope to see you there,” he wrote.

So this was where God was sending me! I showed the post to my husband and said, “I think I need to go to this writers conference.” Being the super-supportive guy that he is, he said, “Okay. What’s a writers conference?”

“Um…I’m not really sure.”


What to Expect

I had no idea what I was getting into. After weeks of research and preparation, I still felt totally unprepared that week. The good news is that it didn’t matter; I was in the right place at the right time. God used that conference, and the ones to follow, to open doors I had never imagined for myself.

I got to meet Todd Starnes in 2015!

The sad truth is that I would have missed out on all of it if God had not spoken directly to me. Without such clear conviction, I would have drummed up a hundred reasons not to go to that conference, most of which would have centered around my inexperience and fear of failure.

If you’re a writer, you may be mulling over reasons to skip that writers conference. Perhaps you could use the money for something else, or you think you’re doing fine on your own. Or maybe you’re justifying your fear by saying that you need more time to work on your writing project, or you’ll be more prepared next year.

As someone who has now attended three conferences and will be attending two more this year, I can tell you that there’s nothing more beneficial to a writer than going to a conference. To help you understand the benefits, I’ve pulled together this list of four surprising things you can expect to find at a Christian writers conference.

1 – Community

I have a background in business, so I assumed the conferees would act like businessmen and treat each other as competition. Instead, everyone—every single person I met—was excited to share their book ideas, freely dispensed words of experience and advice, and genuinely wanted to help me succeed.

I’ve learned that this camaraderie is a hallmark of the Christian writing world. Since we are Christians first and writers second, we believe we have a responsibility to bless other writers as well as our audience. This community readily accepted me—a wanna-be-writer with no blog or platform—and has supported me in many ways over the years.

2 – Encouragement

If your mom likes your writing, that’s nice. If an award-winning author likes your writing, it’s awesome! I had the opportunity to share my ideas with people who knew the industry, the trade, and the genre I was writing in, and I was immensely grateful for their feedback. Even constructive criticism was music to my ears because it helped me grow as a writer.

After the conference, I realized that I needed year-round encouragement and accountability, so I joined an online critique group through Word Weavers International. In our monthly meetings, we pray for one another, critique each other’s writing, and encourage one another to keep working. I’m so glad the encouragement from the conference can last throughout the whole year!

3 – Education

Education is a key component of any Christian writers conference. There are usually multiple classes going on at the same time, so you can learn more about the topics that are important to you. Whether you want to dig into the craft of writing, the publishing process, or social media, there are plenty of classes to choose from.

By the end of the week, you’ll feel like you’ve been drinking from a fire hose! The good thing is that you can reference your notes and resources throughout the year.

4 – Opportunities

You may have already figured out that randomly mailing your manuscript to publishing houses probably won’t get you published. Statistically, you’re just one in hundreds of thousands of writers vying for the publisher’s attention. But at writers conferences, the editors and agents come to you!

While every conference has a different process, you can usually schedule time to meet one-on-one with editors and agents so you can pitch your book ideas. You can also sit with them during lunch and dinner, which is a great way to connect on a personal level. No other venue can give you this kind of face time with the very people you need to get published.


Where to Go

Maybe God hasn’t told you specifically to attend a writers conference, but has He been urging you to write? Have you felt led to document your story, write a devotional, or start a Bible study? Don’t try to write on your own! Seek the community, encouragement, education, and opportunities that only a Christian writers conference can provide.

Here are four exciting options for you to consider:


This year, I plan to attend FCWC, BRMCWC, and the Tallahassee Tour Stop. To quote Todd Starnes, “I hope to see you there.”


[Click to Tweet: There’s nothing more beneficial to a writer than going to a conference. #christianwriter #bigsisterknows @TChristianvoice @bigsistertweets]

Special Offer!


This gift box includes a beautiful rattan basket, paisley apron, blue Mason Jar spoon rest, and more. Follow this blog for a chance to win!

[Read all the way to the bottom for a special offer.]

I need your help!

I just signed up to attend the Florida Christian Writers Conference again this coming February, where I plan to pitch two different books to editors. There’s a catch, though. The big publishers require us writers to have thousands—yes, thousands!—of followers before they will consider publishing our books.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve taken a deep dive into writing and blogging, and I have been humbled and honored by the positive responses you’ve shared with me. Now, I have a favor to ask of you: if you’re not already following this blog via email, or signed up to get the monthly newsletter, please do so.

I hate to ask, but Big Sisters need help sometimes, too.


Please help me get published by:

  1. Signing up to follow the blog.

Don’t rely on Facebook or Twitter posts! Instead, sign up to receive these posts directly in your email to ensure you don’t miss a word.

To sign up, simply enter your email address in the box on the front page of

2. Signing up for the newsletter and becoming a Friend of Big Sister.

In addition to the weekly blog, I’ll be revamping the monthly newsletter. It will include special information, updates, and freebies (like recipe cards!) that won’t be published within the blog posts. I’ll also ask for suggestions, thoughts, and feedback on upcoming blog topics, so you’ll have an opportunity to help determine the content for the site.

To sign up for the newsletter, go to the page Become a Friend of Big Sister.


To show my appreciation, if you sign up to follow the blog and/or the newsletter, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win one of two gift boxes, each valued around $40. I shopped with a friend, my mother, and my little sister to pick out each item, focusing on little treasures that are useful, helpful, or encouraging.  (Guys, these are worth winning for the lady in your life!)

The drawing will be held on 12/1/16, and I will notify the winners via email.

If you’re already following BigSisterKnows and you’re signed up to get the newsletter—thank you for your support!!

~Ashley (Big Sister)


This gift box includes a fun French apron, kitchen towels, a green Mason Jar spoon rest, and more, nestled within a tote. Follow this blog for a chance to win!

I’m Teaching a Seminar!




The Desire

It started when I was a teenager. I would lie awake at night and imagine myself teaching a group of students about something very important. I was engaging and funny—but not silly—and by the end of the presentation, I knew I had a made a difference.

When I told my mom about it, she assured me that it was not common for people to fantasize about teaching in front of large groups. It figures; I never seemed to do anything normal. But it did make me wonder if this was a “God thing:” something He was laying on my heart.

While I don’t feel called to be a full-time teacher, I still find myself dreaming of teaching, speaking, and instructing on some level. (I have utmost respect for all our amazing teachers and cannot fathom how they have the patience to persevere in light of school politics and standardized testing. May God bless you!)


The Reality

Finally, this year, I’ll see this vision start to become a reality. I will be teaching my first seminar at the Tallahassee Christian College and Training Center (my alma mater) on November 19, 2016!

The class, “Navigating Your Spiritual Journey,” is based on all the research I’ve done as I continue to write my book, Girls with Gusto. We’ll dive into what I call the eight major steps of the spiritual journey, from salvation to becoming the person God made us to be. This course will be heavily based on Scripture and, since we’ll be talking about the spiritual journey in general, it will be applicable for both guys and gals, from new believers to the seasoned Bible student.

As I prepare for this class, I’m beginning to realize something important. These things God places on our hearts aren’t just our “imagination;” they aren’t “possible outcomes” that we can choose to embrace or deny. They’re words from God that He has spoken over us and imprinted on our hearts. The Bible says that God’s Word goes forth and accomplishes what He desires; it does not return to Him void. (See Isaiah 55:11.) Yes, this primarily refers to God’s Word as captured in the Bible, but it also applies to words He speaks over us directly, in the here and now.


May Your Dreams Become Reality

Do you have a vision of yourself teaching, preaching, singing, writing, healing, counseling, etc.? Have you always had a strong or unusual desire to go to a different city or country, to be involved a particular ministry, or to change careers entirely? Do you have an idea for an invention, a new product, or a business?

Seek the Lord! If He put this desire on your heart, He means to fulfill it! (See Proverbs 37:4.) You might have to wait nearly twenty years like I have, but when it happens, you know it’s God’s doing, and you can move forward without hesitation.

May God put you in the center of His will, and may He accomplish what He set out to do with you and through you.

If you’re in the Tallahassee area, please join us for the seminar! Here are the details:

When: Saturday, 11/19/2016, from 9am-1pm
Cost: $15 for personal growth or $25 for .25 semester credit
What to bring: Your Bible and a notebook to write in.

Our goal with this class is to understand the layout of our spiritual journey so we can grow closer to the Lord and become the person He wants us to be. By the end of the class, you’ll be able to determine where you on your journey, what steps are still in front of you, and how you can continue to press forward.