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HopeWords Writers' Conference

March 8-9, 2019 $55
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Dates & Times

  • Mar 8-9, 2019
    7:00pm - 5:00pm


  • Regular

About HopeWords Writers' Conference

Register now to join the first major conference in our area for Christian writers. The conference is for everyone who has ever felt the desire to write, from novice to expert. Join Dr. Karen Swallow Prior and other experts as we endeavor to inspire and equip Christian writers who will tell stories of hope.

Featured Authors

Dr. Karen Swallow Prior
Karen Swallow Prior, Ph. D., is Professor of English at Liberty University, where she has won multiple teaching awards. She writes frequently on literature, culture, ethics, and ideas. Her writing appears at Christianity Today, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, First Things, Vox, Think Christian, The Gospel Coalition, Books and Culture and other places. She is the author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me (T. S. Poetry Press, 2012), Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist (Thomas Nelson, 2014), and On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Literature (Brazos, 2018).

She is a Research Fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, a Senior Fellow with Liberty University’s Center for Apologetics and Cultural Engagement, a Senior Fellow with the TrinityForum, and a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States. Karen and her husband live in rural Virginia with sundry dogs, horses, and chickens.

S. D. Smith
S. D. Smith is the author of The Green Ember Series, a middle-grade adventure saga. The Green Ember spent time as the number one bestselling audiobook in the world on Audible. Smith’s stories are captivating readers across the globe who are hungry for “new stories with an old soul.” Enthusiastic families can’t get enough of these tales.

Vintage adventure. Moral imagination. Classic virtue. Finally, stories we all love. Just one more chapter, please!

When he’s not writing adventurous tales of #RabbitsWithSwords in his writing shed, dubbed The Forge, Smith loves to speak to audiences about storytelling, creation, and seeing yourself as a character in The Story.

S. D. Smith lives in West Virginia with his wife and four kids.


Jacinda Townsend
Jacinda Townsend is the author of Saint Monkey (Norton, 2014), which is set in 1950’s EasternKentucky and won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for historical fiction. Saint Monkey was also the 2015 Honor Book of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was longlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and shortlisted for the Crook’s Corner Book Prize.

Jacinda took her first Creative Writing classes at Harvard, where she received her BA, and then cross-registered to take more classes through the English Department at Duke University, where she received her JD. After practicing law for four years, she went on to earn an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and then spent a year as a Fulbright fellow in Côte d’Ivoire. She recently finished a novel called Kif. Jacinda is mom to two children, about whom she writes frequently.

Greg Lucas
Greg Lucas is a police officer in Barboursville, West Virginia, a graduate of Boyce college, and a Bible teacher and advisor for The Elisha Foundation, which encourages families experiencing disability toward a more intimate faith in Christ. He is also the author of Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability, and the Lessons of Grace. Greg says the book is “about coming to the end of your rope, to the end of your strength, to the end of your understanding and finding that God’s grace really is enough.”

Greg has been a featured speaker for Desiring God at their National Conference and has traveled extensively sharing his story. Greg and his wife, Kimberly Ann, have four children.

Dave Pedde
Dave has been involved in worship ministries for 40 years, although he doesn’t really want anyone to believe he is that old. Prior to coming to Bluefield College to serve as Director of the Center for the Worship Arts, he was the founding President of Sanctus School for Worshippers in Toronto, ON, and also Composer in Residence at North Central University in Minneapolis.

He travels frequently leading worship and teaching, and has extensive studio experience having produced 32 albums to date. Dave has over 100 published worship songs, with his most recent recordings being Windows Vol. 1 and The Planting, and has authored two books, Prayer Primer: Morning or Anytime Prayers (2015) and Worship Songwriting Tips (2017).

Shane Simmons
Shane Simmons is a lifelong resident of the Appalachian Mountains. He is a founder of the Appalachian Project (TAP), a multimedia group created to preserve the heritage of the central and southern Appalachians. In addition to East Tennessee folklore, his areas of interest include the history of the coal mining industry in central Appalachia, the Civil War in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia and Appalachian cultural history.

His background in social media includes being an admin for Facebook pages with over 200,000 followers and creating posts that have reached over 25 million people worldwide. It was through the development of this large and loyal following that Shane secured his first publishing contract for the book “Legends and Lore of East Tennessee.” He is currently working on a children’s book based in Appalachia.


Friday, March 8, 7-9PM
Keynote Address
Why the World Needs More Stories (and How to Begin Writing Yours)

Human beings are storied creatures. From ancient tales told around the fire to the stories we share at the dinner table, we love to find and express meaning through narrative. We all have a story—or many stories—to tell. But telling a story effectively requires care, attention, and skill. Drawing upon years of teaching and writing about literature, Karen Swallow Prior will inspire you to attend to the art of reading others’ stories and writing your own.

The address will be followed by free desserts and a chance to meet Dr. Prior

Saturday, March 9, 9AM-5PM
Lectures and Workshops led by our Featured Authors


Finding Your Writing Voice
Dr. Karen Swallow Prior
Effective writing is just as much about how you write as what you write. One quality that sets any writer apart from all the others is voice: a style that is uniquely yours and reflects who you truly are. This session will look at examples of different writing voices and offers tips and strategies for identifying and developing your own.

Conflict Through Character
Jacinda Townsend
How do you save characters who feel flat? How do you build plot through character? We will answer these questions by looking at the six ways characters announce themselves on the page, and the way that plot is built, through character, to premise, straight up from the ground.

Make. Believe. (A Guide For Generous Writers)
S.D. Smith
Creation and Connection in the Vocation of Writing

Biography Born Out Of Desperation
Greg Lucas
The focus of the conference is how to tell stories of hope, but what if your story is full of pain. Greg’s writing began as a personal journal, which served as a temporary escape for dealing with the difficulties of raising his severely disabled son. He used to lock himself in his study and vent in writing. Eventually, he discovered that by thinking through some of the most painful moments and writing about them, he was able to step back and see the bigger picture. He was able to see God's grace in all of the difficulty and pain. He also found that his honesty connected with readers and helped them find hope as well. Greg will share tips on how to find hope through writing truthfully about our struggles.

Writing As Worship
Dave Pedde
Perhaps lyric writing is something you have never considered, particularly if you don’t fancy yourself a musician. Dave Pedde gives practical tips on how you can get started regardless of your musical ability or previous experience.

Growing An Engaged Audience
Shane Simmons
In a constantly growing book market, developing a loyal readership is key to the success of any author. This session will look at different ways to “Find Your Tribe” through the use of social media. Shane will share the lessons he has learned and the secrets to building an engaged audience.


Comfort Inn Bluefield, VA
The Comfort Inn is the closest hotel to the venue. Most other hotel options would be in Princeton, WV. These would be a 20minute drive from the venue. To receive a specially negotiated rate just for our conference, call The Comfort Inn at (276)326-3688 and mention HopeWords Writers’ Conference.

The conference will be held at Bluefield College and registration is $50, which includes desserts on Friday and lunch on Saturday. Register today!