Joanne Bischof and Kara Swanson, local Idyllwild writers, received major awards at the March 27 through 31 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.
Top award, Writer of the Year, went to Bischof for her body of work, and high school student Kara received Most Promising Teen Writer Award, for her debut fantasy novel, “Pearl of Merlydia” (EntrustSourcePublishers.com 2014) co-written with Charis Smith.
Held at the Mount Hermon Christian Camps and Conference Center near Santa Cruz, the 46th-annual conference offered 36 workshops, concentrated study in fiction and nonfiction writing, and mentoring for intermediate writers.
Among the nearly 300 participants from the U.S. and Canada were 52 faculty and resource team members from a variety of Christian publishing houses and magazines, plus book agents and several New York Times best-selling authors.
Bischof, author of what she calls “heartfelt fiction,” is best known for her historical romances set in the hills of Appalachia. She is a Christy Award finalist, one of the highest honors in Christian publishing.
Bischof taught a variety of different fiction techniques at conference workshops and also mentored new writers in what was called a “headstart writers’ track.”
Conference faculty nominated writers for the various awards and a panel of professional agents made the selections.
Bischof had attended the conference once before but said this was the first time she had been asked to be on the faculty.
She said she was very surprised at receiving the award. “I was so caught up in what I had been doing for the conference I had lost track of what was coming,” she said. “I was amazed.”
Bischof’s newest book, “To get to you” (Mason Jar Books, 2015) marks a departure for her. “It’s contemporary, not historical, and is a road trip book — a professional surfer father and an estranged son,” she noted. “I’m currently polishing it.”
For more about Bischof, including her blog, see www.joannebischof.com. For more about Swanson, visit http://readwritesoar.com/books/pearl-of-merlydia/.