October 01, 2019

How Were You Refreshed at a Conference? By Sandi Somers

Several years ago, we wrote our October blogs on takeaways from a conference. These blog posts were popular, judging by the number of hits we received. This month, we’re repeating that prompt. Our writers will share significant highlights from InScribe’s Fall Conference, or if they couldn’t attend, highlights from another conference, course, or coaching.
“Come to the Well”
The theme of this year’s Fall Conference was “Come to the Well,” based on Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman: “(To those) who drink the water I give, (it) becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life” (John 4:14 NLT).
Introduction: Charity Mongrain, our Vice President, introduced our theme, emphasizing both Jesus’ water well of refreshing and the ink well symbolizing our writing. We were invited to take a scripture verse from the large wishing well at the front of the auditorium. It should not have surprised me that God met my need as I reached in and picked just the right Scripture—as did others for their needs.
 “Author mixer”: Different authors read from a wide variety of genres, topics, and styles of writing. As we read, I was impressed that more authors, including new members, participated than in years past. I couldn’t help but appreciate how much our well of InScribe writers and talents is deepening and expanding.
A new well of “Open Concept”: What does “Open Concept” mean? Our conference format was distinctly different—and distinctly inspiring, led by Colleen McCubbin. Instead of having pre-set speakers, attendees brought up topics they wished to discuss, and placed these ideas in time slots on a chart. From there we chose which of three (or four) simultaneous sessions to attend. (It was sometimes difficult to chose sessions!!!)
I can only briefly touch on several session highlights:
Dipping into our inkwell of publishing and developing a website. I was particularly interested in discussing the steps to publishing, which usually take longer than we anticipate:
·        Pre-production: author questionnaire (3-4 weeks)
·        Creative work of marketing plans, pictures, editing (2-5 months)
·        Printing and advance review copies (5 weeks)
·        Marketing, distribution and presentations (ongoing, but begin as you write your book)
Dipping into the well of healing. Alan Anderson led a workshop on “Writing as Healing”. As participants shared stories, my main takeaway was that when we draw from our own well of suffering, trauma or trouble, we can offer the water of healing to others.
Dipping into Freefall creativity: Tracy Krauss guided us in short writing prompts, using such objects as a colour swatch, a photo, and an object. I was inspired by the lively discussion, the variety of thoughts and the depth of perception our writers brought. An unexpected bonus came when I discovered creativity and insight for several pieces I’m writing or could write.
 Guest speaker Sigmund Brouwer, from Red Deer, drew from his years’
Sigmund Brouwer
experiences of writing and presentations at schools. With humour and sensitivity, he answered the question: “How do you tell the story of World War 1 Vimy Ridge (and other historical events) from a new angle?” The answer is to research unusual and interesting stories. Stories connect to the heart and capture emotions, he said. From there we find the best way to tell the story. He illustrated these principles with such books as, Innocent Heroes: Animals in War and the Battle of Vimy Ridge and Thief of Glory.
The Waters of networking: What would conference be without personal networking? I’m always refreshed as I chat with others during meal times and coffee breaks, at the book tables, and in significant moments. I meet new writers and deepen existing friendships as we share our writing and faith.  
This year, I was so aware that many of our writers had discovered new successes. Through them, God was gently prompting me to dip my pen into the inkwell of more possibilities, drink God’s resources and faithfully accept opportunities and challenges. From there, God would infuse me with His strength to bring a message of hope to others.
I came away with the Scripture: “Let (us) give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds…for he satisfies the thirsty…” (Psalm 107:8-9a).
~ ~ ~
Now it’s your turn. How has this year’s Fall Conference, or another conference, course, or coaching, refreshed and inspired you?

*Photos thanks to Marnie and Wally Pohlmann and Ruth Snyder


  1. You did such a fine job of summarizing the areas that affected you most at conference. It truly was a special time. And it was so wonderful to see you again in person. I think this is always the highlight for me - seeing people who have become very important in my life.

    1. Thanks, Tracy. Yes, there were many highlights and I touched on just a few. And yes, it's wonderful to see others. You have become very important to me, too!!

  2. Thoughtful and insightful highlights blog, Sandi! Thank you. 😄

    1. Thanks, Diane. One year you'll have to attend our Fall Conference!

  3. I do wish I’d been able to attend Fall Conference, Sandi, so it is lovely to read your summary of what happened. I love your headings and how you highlight the way you collectively responded to the theme and how you are coming to the well, as Christ invited us to do.

    1. I missed you at Fall Conference this year, Sharon. So glad you enjoyed my overview. You'll get a good glimpse as other blog members share their memories. God bless you.

  4. Thank you for the summary, Sandi. I like Charity's use of the woman at the well and the ink well. Interesting how a "random" Scripture verse can be just the right one. God knows.

  5. Yes, Bob, so often God speaks to us through what seems a "random" verse.


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