A limited number of 15-minute “Next-Step” mentoring appointments will be available on a first-come, first-served basis during registration. Ask an experienced professional author your questions about craft, marketing, goal setting, or the business of writing. Review instructions below for how to prepare for your meeting. One mentor per conferee as long as they last! Register Early!

Mentoring appointments are not just for new authors. Writers can benefit from wise counsel at any stage of their career. An appointment might include a brief prayer, if requested. An appointment is included with your conference tuition.

How to prepare for your appointment: Please be ready to give your answers to the following critical questions. Be specific. This will tell your mentor where you are in your writing career and provide insight on how to best help you. 

  1. What kind of writing are you doing right now?
  2. How long have you been writing?
  3. What do you want to achieve with your writing?
  4. What is the biggest thing preventing you from achieving that goal?
  5. How can your mentor help you today?

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Meet Your Mentors

Tessa Afshar, biblical fiction – tessaafshar.com

Morning Devotions (Wednesday)
Workshop: “Write All Wrongs—Learn to Edit Your Manuscript”
Premium Small-Group 4-Hour Critique: “Fiction Editing/Revision” (Thursday)

Tessa Afshar is the best-selling author of biblical and inspirational historical fiction, including the award-winning Land of Silence and Harvest of Gold. Harvest of Rubies was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Christian Book Award for fiction. Her first Bible study, The Way Home: God’s Invitation to New Beginnings (based on the book of Ruth), released in June 2020 to critical acclaim. Tessa was born in the Middle East and lived there her first 14 years. She then moved to England, where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her 20s changed the course of her life forever.

Mesu Andrews, biblical fiction, historical fiction mesuandrews.com

Mesu AndrewMesu Andrews is the Christy Award-winning author of Isaiah’s Daughter and has received numerous accolades for her other novels, including Of Fire and Lions and Love Amid the Ashes. Her deep understanding of and love for God’s Word brings the biblical world alive for readers. Mesu lives in North Carolina with her husband Roy and enjoys spending time with her tribe of grandchildren.


Jeane Burgess, publicist, consultant, coach – www.facebook.com/jeanwynn 

Jeane Burgess runs a full-service publicity firm for both nonfiction and fiction titles. Her more than three decades of experience in the publishing world—both on her own and employed by publishers such as Zondervan, Salem Books, Waterbrook Press, David C Cook, Harvest House, Kregel Publications—have given Jeane a well-rounded view of the industry, which is essential in the ever-changing world of publicity. Jeane loves working proactively on marketing/publicity campaigns long before the book is published. In addition to providing a complete publicity package, Jeane also coaches writers who are looking to strengthen their publicity skills in the marketplace.

Melanie Dobson, fiction, historical fiction – www.melaniedobson.com

Monday Evening Small-Group Critique: “Hook Your Reader on the First Page” (Historical Fiction)
Morning Devotions (Tuesday)
Cohost of Cascade Award Presentation (Wednesday 6 p.m.)

Writing research is Melanie Dobson’s excuse to explore abandoned houses, travel to unique places, and spend hours reading old books and journals. The award-winning author of almost 20 novels, Melanie enjoys stitching together both time-slip and historical stories, including her recent release The Curator’s Daughter, Memories of Glass, Catching the Wind, and Hidden Among the Stars. She is also the co-author of A Split in Time: How to Write Dual Timeline, Split Time, and Time-Slip Fiction. Her historical novels have won five Carol Awards, the 2018 Audie Award, and the ForeWord Religious Book of the Year Award. The Dobsons reside in the Pacific Northwest, where Melanie enjoys hiking, teaching, and leading a monthly critique group.

Heidi Gaul, devotionals and nonfiction stories ‒ www.HeidiGaul.com

Heidi Gaul has contributed to eight of Guideposts’ devotionals including Every Day with Jesus (2018), Mornings with Jesus 2019, 2020, 2021, and upcoming editions 2022 and 2023. Her devotions are also included in Guideposts’ One-Minute Daily Devotional (2021) and the Pray a Word a Day (2021). Winner of the OCW Cascade Award for devotionals 2015, many of her pieces have appeared in The Upper Room. Her stories are included in 11 Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, the most recent being Age Is Just a Number (2020). She also leads workshops and enjoys mentoring at writer’s conferences.

Hannah C. Hall, children’s board books, picture books – www.hannahchall.com 

Workshop: “Writing for Young Children (0–8)”

Hannah C. Hall is a best-selling and award-winning author and speaker with more than one million books in print. Her most recent picture book, Penguin and Moose, was awarded the 2020 Selah Award, and her popular “God Bless” series includes ECPA bestsellers God Bless You and Good Night, God Bless Our Christmas, and God Bless Our Fall. Her first picture book, Would a Worm Go on Walk? was a Cascade Award winner, Christian Book Award finalist, and a Focus on the Family Top 10 Picture Book.

Peter Leavell, historical fiction www.peterleavell.com

Peter Leavell graduated from Boise State University with a degree in history and is currently in the University’s English lit graduate program. He was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel Contest and received the 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best Award for First-Time Author for Gideon’s Call. His other titles include West for the Black Hills and Shadow of Devil’s Tower. A novelist, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband, and father, Peter and his family live in Boise.

Bret Lott, fiction and nonfiction – www.facebook.com/bretlottauthor/

Morning Devotions (Monday)
Workshop: “Deepening Your Fiction Through Detail”
Premium Small-Group 4-Hour Critique: “Deepening Fiction Through Detail Critique” (Thursday)

Bret Lott is the best-selling author of 14 books, including Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian and the novels Jewel (an Oprah Book Club pick) and A Song I Knew by Heart. His work has been translated into eight languages and has appeared in The Yale Review, The New York Times, The Georgia Review, Vanity Fair Online, and dozens of anthologies. Former editor of The Southern Review, he also served on the National Council of the Arts from 2006 to 2012. He currently teaches writing at the College of Charleston.

Maxine Marsolini, nonfiction – www.rebuildingfamilies.net

Maxine Marsolini is an author, life coach, founder of Rebuilding Families, and former OCW president. Her passion is to help individuals and families build harmonious relationships and achieve their goals, using Christ-based and grace-filled methods. She is considered a valued resource for family matters. Maxine’s tried-and-true ideas can be found in articles appearing in magazines, blogs, compilation books, and her column in The Christian Journal. Her books include Because of Love, Mother’s Fury, Rebuilding Families One Dollar at a Time, Raising Children in Blended Families, Blended Families, and Blended Families Workbook. 

Jennifer Anne F. Messing, short stories, articles, poetry, marketing www.JenniferAnneMessing.com

Jennifer Anne F. Messing is a Cascade Award winner and triple finalist (published short story in 2018 and 2019), an OCW past president, a traditionally and indie published author of four books, a poet, and a writing teacher, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She has published more than 250 articles, short stories, poems in 60 magazines, and book compilations, including Aglow, Standard, LIVE, Evangel, The Storyteller, FellowScript, Seek, and Nudges from God. Her book Everlasting Love was a top finalist in three competitions. Her latest release, Love’s Faithful Promise: Heart-Stirring Short Stories and Poems of Romance and Faith, won the 2020 American Fiction Book Awards “Christian Inspirational” category. Philippine-born, Jennifer Anne’s greatest inspiration for her writing comes from her 30-year marriage and raising her three children. 

Christina Suzann Nelson, fiction – www. christinasuzannnelson.com

Christina Suzann Nelson is an inspirational speaker and the award-winning author of If We Make It Home, Swimming in the Deep End, More Than We Remember, and The Way It Should Be, which released this spring. She writes and speaks about hope after dysfunction. Christina is over the top about her passions for faith, family, fiction, and foster care. When she’s not writing, she’s working with the “Every Child” initiative, chasing escaped steers, reading, breathing in the sweet smell of her horse, hiking with her dog, or enjoying her just-as-crazy family.

Gina Ochsner, fiction, nonfiction, short stories, essays – www.ginaochsner.com

Monday Evening Small-Group Critique: “First-Page Short Stories” (Fiction) 

Gina Ochsner, Writer in Residence at Corban University, teaches literature and writing and directs their Between Two Worlds Young Adult Writing Conference. She also teaches for Seattle Pacific’s low-residency MFA program. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Image Journal, Christianity Today, In Touch Magazine, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, and other journals. She is also the author of the novels The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight and The Hidden Letters of Velta B.

Carrie Stuart Parks, mystery, suspense, thriller www.CarrieStuartParks.com

Workshop: “Easy Plotting for Those Who Hate to Plot!” LIVE (Monday 10 a.m.)
Premium Small-Group 4-Hour Critique: “Mystery/Suspense Critique” (Thursday)

Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning, internationally known forensic artist. She travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals including the FBI, Secret Service, and RCMP. Carrie and her husband, Rick, are the foremost instructors of forensic art in the world. Her best-selling novels in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre have garnered numerous awards, including several Carols and INSPY, Christy, Golden Scroll, Maxwell, and Wright awards. As a professional fine artist, she has also written and illustrated best-selling art books for North Light Publishers.

Kendy Pearson, historical fiction, children’s picture books – www.kendypearson.com

Kendy Pearson serves as a private music instructor, worship leader, critique group leader, writing coach, and Civil War reenactment enthusiast. After 26 years teaching high school, Kendy dove headlong into a freelance writing career in 2014. Periodicals published more than 200 of her articles in the first two years, and she contribute the anthology Jesus Talked to Me Today. She wrote children’s curriculum and family magazine articles for Union Gospel Press and signed with Books & Such Literary to represent her fiction. With six children’s picture books and four historical novels written, she has received three Cascade Awards, two Genesis Awards, and a Crown Award. Kendy developed nine workshops as part of a “Write for Publication” series plus a three-hour NaNoWriMo workshop, which she presents to libraries and other groups.

David Rawlings, fiction – www.davidrawlings.com.au

Monday Evening Small-Group Critique: “Imaginative Fiction”

David Rawlings, an award-winning author whose first three novels were published by Thomas Nelson: The Baggage Handler, The Camera Never Lies, and Where the Road Bends, is the first Christy Award winner from Australia. He’s also the sports-mad father of three who loves humor and a clever turn of phrase. Over a 25-year career he has put words on the page to put food on the table, developing from sports journalism and copywriting to corporate communication. Now in fiction, he entices readers to look deeper into life with stories that combine the everyday with a sense of the speculative, addressing the fundamental questions we all face.

Paul W. Smith, nonfiction, true-to-life fiction (no spec fiction), short stories, articles, books, and blogs

Paul Smith worked as an editor for A/G Publishing at the Assemblies of God National Office for more than 30 years, his last 15 as manager of Editorial Services. He oversaw the complete line of Sunday school curricula under the imprints Radiant Life (English) and Vida Nueva (Spanish) and the production of all books and brochures under the imprints Gospel Publishing House, Logion Press, and My Healthy Church. As a freelance editor, Paul has edited books, articles, professional journals, doctoral theses (theological and psychological), transcripts from seminars, college syllabi, and short stories. Although retired, he continues to edit, fact-check, proofread, and format a variety of projects. He also reviews material for biblical and theological accuracy. In addition, Paul leads a small Celebrate Recovery group in Republic, Missouri.

Angela Ruth Strong, contemporary romance – www.angelaruthstrong.com

Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009 then quit writing romance when her husband left her. Twelve years later, God has shown her the true meaning of love, and there’s nothing else she’d rather write about. Her books have since earned Top Pick in Romantic Times, won a Cascade Award, and been Amazon bestsellers. Her book Finding Love in Big Sky just filmed on location in Montana and will air on television soon with the same title. She also writes nonfiction for SpiritLed Woman. To help aspiring authors, she started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho, and she teaches as an expert online at WRITE THAT BOOK. 

B.J. Taylor, nonfiction: true stories, devotionals – www.bjtaylor.com

B.J. Taylor represents Guideposts, Angels on Earth, Mysterious Ways, and All Creatures magazines (the Guideposts family). She sold 40 stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul, two dozen stories to the Guideposts family of magazines, and numerous articles to Writer’s Digest, Romantic Homes, Victorian Homes, John Gray’s Mars and Venus in Love, and many other publications. She penned the memoir CHARLIE BEAR: What a Headstrong Rescue Dog Taught Me about Life, Love, and Second Chances and wrote Writing True Stories: Using the Winning Formula P MS to a T to help writers. Now that she’s retired, she lives in Northern Idaho half the year and in Southern California the other half. B.J. looks forward to talking with you about your true stories and discussing the formula for writing stories that sell.

Beth K. Vogt, romance, contemporary, and women’s fiction – www.bethvogt.com

Beth K. Vogt is a speaker as well as a mentor to writers and the author of 13 contemporary novels/novellas. She’s won both a Christy Award and ACFW Carol Award. Her novel Somebody Like You was one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. Beth started as a nonfiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. Her Thatcher Sisters women’s fiction series includes Things I Never Told You, winner of the 2019 AWSA Golden Scroll Award for Contemporary Novel of the Year; Moments We Forget, a 2020 AWSA finalist; and The Best We’ve Been, a 2021 Selah finalist. Beth also blogs for Novel Academy and The Write Conversation. She lives in Colorado with her husband, Rob, who has adjusted quite well to discussing the lives of imaginary people.

Becky Wade, romance – http://www.beckywade.com/home/my-books

Workshop: “Taking Your Romance Writing to the Next Level” (Fiction, LIVE Monday 11 a.m.) 

Becky Wade is a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas, where they live with their three children and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance. She’s the Christy and Carol award-winning author of My Stubborn Heart, the Porter Family series, the Bradford Sisters series, and the Misty River Romance series. Her latest novel is Stay with Me. 

Julie McDonald Zander, personal historian, articles – www.chaptersoflife.com

Julie McDonald Zander worked as an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor for 20 years before launching her personal history business, Chapters of Life, in 1999. Since then, she has published more than 70 individual, business, community, and organizational histories. Her nonfiction biography, Washington Territory’s Grand Lady: The Story of Matilda (Glover) Koontz Jackson, was a finalist for the Western Writers of America Spur Awards and the Will Rogers Medallion Awards. Julie also does freelance editing and, since May 2007, has written a weekly column for The Chronicle in Centralia, Washington. A former OCW newsletter and summer conference notebook editor and Cascade Writing Contest co-chair, she and her husband have two grown children and live in Toledo, Washington.