[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=””]Oregon Christian Writers regrets the 2021 Summer Conference scheduled for August 16–19 has been canceled. The 2021 Cascade Awards scheduled for Wednesday, August 18 will continue as planned. We look forward to our next in-person Summer Conference in 2022. Until then, recordings of previous conference workshops are available here. If you have questions about the summer conference, please feel free to contact us at summerconf@oregonchristianwriters.org[/box]

Keep your writing and marketing skills fresh and keep
moving in the direction of your writing dreams!

“Establish the Work of Our Hands.”

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.”
(Psalm 90:17 niv)

2021 Summer Writers
Coaching Conference
August 16–19, 2021

 Manuscript Reviews
Editor & Agent 1:1 Appointments

Editor/Agent Panels + Marketing Panel
Mentoring Appointments
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Join top editors, agents, and award-winning authors from the Christian publishing industry who want to help you reach your writing goals.

One-Hour Workshops 

“Write All Wrongs: Learn to Edit Your Manuscript”
– Tessa Afshar
(Fiction and Nonfiction)

One of the requirements for becoming a successful writer is skillful editing. Using examples from her own books, Tessa will demonstrate techniques for creating a better story, showing us how to transform a mediocre first draft into writing that captivates readers. 

Tessa is the best-selling author of biblical and inspirational historical fiction, including these award-winning titles: 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), was released in June 2020 to critical acclaim. Tessa was born in the Middle East and lived there the first 14 years of her life. 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.

“Writing for Young Children (0–8)”
Hannah C. Hall (Fiction or Nonfiction)

The focus will be on writing board books and picture books, covering such topics as: industry standards in the children’s market, to rhyme or not to rhyme, making every word count, and writing with humor and hope (no kid-sized sermons allowed!).

Hannah C.  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. 

“Hooks That Won’t Let Go”
Bob Hostetler (Fiction or Nonfiction, articles, books) 

Twenty ways to write a hook for your article, story, query, or book that will compel interest.

Bob Hostetler (www.bobhostetler.com) is an award-winning author, literary agent, and international speaker from Nevada. His more than 50 books, which include the award-winning Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door (co-authored with Josh McDowell) and The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional, have sold millions of copies. Bob is an agent with the Steve Laube Agency and the executive director of the Christian Writers Institute (www.christianwritersinstitute.com). Bob was also the founding pastor of Cobblestone Community Church in Oxford, Ohio; he served that church from 2000–2010.

“Deepening Your Fiction Through Detail”
Bret Lott (Fiction)

Details are the lifeblood of fiction and are the real reason we turn page after page when we read the books we love. To write a successful work of fiction we need to pay attention to the precision called for in creating our story worlds. Too often writers get carried away with the big-ticket notion of theme, but in order to approach writing something with meaning, the details of setting, character, dialogue, and landscape must be tended to with all the precision we have available to us. We’ll discuss ways to bring the reader closer through details.

Bret Lott is the best-selling author of 14 books, including Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian, the story collection The Difference Between Women and Men, 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 such places as The Yale Review, The New York Times, The Georgia Review, Vanity Fair Online, and dozens of anthologies. His honors include being named Fulbright Senior American Scholar and writer-in-residence to Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv in 2006–2007, speaking on Flannery O’Connor at the White House, and serving as a member of the National Council on the Arts from 2006 to 2012. He teaches writing at the College of Charleston.

“Dynamic Fiction Proposals”
– Rachel McMillan

The ability to craft a winning proposal will always be one of the strongest tools in your publishing toolkit. In a competitive industry, a proposal is an essential business document that will prove to every member on the publishing decision board that your story is a must-have to fill a gap in their upcoming list. Using examples of successful proposals, you will learn the importance of a captivating hook to make your story stand out and the information needed to wow the reader as well as the importance of selecting competitive titles that will prove your story needs a place in a crowded marketplace. Proposals take a specific type of writing—different than the manuscript you have polished and made shine. Everyone from pre-published to debut authors and authors with several publications under their belt needs this valuable skill.

Rachel McMillan is a seasoned publishing professional with more than a decade in sales and marketing for an educational publisher, and a sought-out influencer in the Christian book industry. As the author of more than a dozen books, including the upcoming Dream Plan Go (Harvest House) and The London Restoration (HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson), she brings keen insight to her role as a literary agent. 


“Nonfiction Proposals Editors Love”
Karen Neumair (Nonfiction)

Learn how to put together the perfect presentation for your nonfiction book and gain insights into how to craft a proposal that will sell your project to publishers. This workshop is perfect for beginning authors ready to seek an agent or publisher.

Karen is a Senior Literary Agent and the Chief Operating Officer of Credo Communications, where she assists authors with their book proposals and connects them with potential publishers. For more than a decade, she has worked alongside nonfiction authors who write about Christian living and spiritual growth as well as topics geared toward women and families.


“Easy Plotting for Those Who Hate to Plot!”
– Carrie Stuart Parks (Fiction) 

Hate plotting? Yeah, me too. Learn how to work out the details of your novel without writing a word. Well, okay a couple of words. Through visual plotting, storyboarding, and mind-mapping, you can figure out your next novel without pulling out your hair, hating life, or resorting to eating copious amounts of chocolate. Wait. The chocolate can stay.

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 written and illustrated best-selling art books for North Light Publishers.

“4 Key Traits of Bestselling Nonfiction Writers”
– Mick Silva

Since you have to reach people who don’t know you or your story, how can you edit your material down to the one thing you are uniquely gifted (that is, called) to share? A 20-year veteran of acquisitions and development for multiple houses will share the four universal characteristics of any top-selling writer and reveal the closest thing to a step-by-step guide to publishing well that one could hope for.

Before becoming Senior Acquisitions Editor for Zondervan Books, Mick Silva edited for Focus on the Family, Baker, InterVarsity Press, Chalice, Waterbrook, and Windblown Media (publisher of The Shack). He now acquires for Zondervan in men’s and relationship categories and consults on platform building and author relations. Mick will also lead a premium intensive small-group critique, “Narrative Nonfiction,” on Thursday afternoon.

“Story Technique in Nonfiction”
Janyre Tromp (Nonfiction)

There’s a reason even Jesus himself used stories to illustrate his points—humans are built to be compelled by and understood through story. One of the keys to a relatable, successful nonfiction book is constructing illustrations that both connect and expand understanding. This workshop is the first step to creating an effective illustration.

Janyre Tromp has worked in the CBA industry for more than 20 years, spending time in both marketing and editorial. Currently she is an editor for Kregel Publications by day and a writer (represented by William K Jensen Literary Agency) at night. 



“How to Start a Podcast”
Thomas Umstattd (Marketing)

Podcasting can be a powerful way to build a platform. In this session, you will learn exactly how to start your own podcast and grow your influence. It is easier than you think!

Thomas Umstattd is an award-winning speaker, author, and podcaster who hosts the “Novel Marketing Podcast” and “Christian Publishing Show.” As CEO of Author Media, he has been coaching authors on marketing for more than 12 years. 



“Taking Your Romance Writing to the Next Level”
– Becky Wade

This workshop will address the most important elements of romance novel writing—characterization, goals, romantic conflict, and more. Learn why these building blocks are essential ingredients for this popular genre as well as practical tips for strengthening these elements in your current and future projects.

Becky Wade is a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas 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.

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Mentor Appointments

A limited number of “Next-Step” mentor appointments will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to all registered conferees and is included in your registration fee. Ask a pro writer your questions about craft, career, or the business of writing. Visit our 2021 Mentor page to see participating authors and choose your mentor during registration. One mentor appointment per conferee.

Premium Options

“Monday Evening First Page Small-Group Critique in Multiple Genres ($65)”. (limited to six students and leader)

These 90-minute groups will meet Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. PDT. Participants will share first pages for constructive and encouraging feedback. Sessions led by an editor, agent, or professional author.

  • “Refine Your Pitch” with YA/Children’s Agent Sally Apokedak
  • “Nonfiction Books” with Agent Mary DeMuth
  • “Hook Your Reader on the First Page” (Historical Fiction) with Melanie Dobson
  • “Children’s Devotionals, Middle Grade, or YA Pitch Practice” with Youth Editor Linda Howard
  • “Hook Your Reader on the First Page” (Romance) with Author and Literary Agent Rachel McMillan
  • “Short Story” (Fiction) with Gina Ochsner
  • “Imaginative Fiction Critique” with David Rawlings

“Thursday Afternoon 4-hour Intensive Small-Group Critique with 3-Page Review ($165)” (limited to eight participants and leader)

Participants will share pages for review before the conference. See details here

  • Fiction Editing/Revision – Tessa Afshar
  • Deepening Your Fiction Through Details Critique – Bret Lott
  • Young Adult Literature Critique – Matt Mikalatos 
  • Mystery/Suspense Critique – Carrie Stuart Parks
  • Imaginative Fiction Critique – James L. Rubart
  • Narrative Nonfiction Critique – Mick Silva
  • Empathy Is Your Superpower: Writing in a Way that Connects to Hearts and Builds Others Up – Trieste Vaillancourt

Editor and Agent 1:1 Appointments ($35)

Some editors and agents will meet with an author only after reviewing their work through the conference Manuscript Submission Program. Review instructions and guidelines on our Editor and Agent 1:1 Appointments page. Another group of editors and agents will only take “Cold Pitches” (listening to an author’s pitch without reviewing a writing sample). During registration, you may choose one (1) Manuscript Submission review (which may lead to an appointment) plus one (1) “Cold Pitch” appointment, for $35 each.

Please do your homework! Use the SUMMER CONFERENCE drop-down menu on the navigation bar above to scroll through conference pages to familiarize yourself with our outstanding list of Book Editors, Magazine Editors, and Literary Agents to see what they’re “looking for” and also who will review through the conference Manuscript Submissions Program and who will take “Cold Pitches.”

Appointments are limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Summer Conference Registration will open May 15! 

Pricing: Standard registration tuition will be $170 for members, $210 for nonmembers, and $125 for conferees 23 and under. Tuition includes all workshops, morning devotions, and pep talks, editor and agent panels, 2021 marketing panel, genre lunch discussion groups, access to conference Facebook group for daily Q & A and chat, book drawings, access to the prayer room, and a 15-minute mentor appointment.

Premium options (additional fees) include manuscript submissions ($35), editor and agent cold-pitch appointments ($35), first-page 90-minute small-group critique sessions in multiple genres ($65), four-hour intensive small-group critique sessions with page review ($165). 

2021 Cascade Awards
Wednesday, August 18 ~ 6:00 p.m. PDT

All are welcome! Please join us for this celebratory evening as we honor all finalists and present awards to the winners of the 2021 Cascade Writing Contest. [divider style=”solid” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]

“The summer conference was absolutely wonderful. I came away totally inspired. My coaching class helped me find my niche and vision for writing. I enjoyed the fellowship, prayer, and Christian atmosphere so much. I received great tips on my submitted manuscripts, and my mentor gave me great direction.” Conferee