Draft Keynote Matt Spring New

Please join us on Saturday, March 16th at Peoples Church in Salem, OR, for our Spring Conference! We are very excited to announce that Matt Mikalatos will join us to keynote. In addition, there will be several other workshops, bookstore, and fellowship time.

Did you know that becoming a CCW member will save you money on conference fees? Check it out here.


We will enjoy the following workshops!

Morning Keynotes

Called and Gifted – Matt Mikalatos

Based on Exodus 31:1–11. God invites us to do this thing we love in the arts. And then He gifts us with the skills we need. We’ll talk about the CALLING in these verses as an accessible way for everyone regardless of their exact theology, GIFTING them with skills and then COMMANDING them to use those gifts.


Afternoon Workshops


Screenwriting and Community Storytelling – Matt Mikalatos

All storytelling is collaborative, but screenwriting is uniquely so. Let’s get together and talk about how screenwriting is different from other writing (and how it’s the same), how to “break in” to making TV and movies, and how to build a community passionate about telling stories together.


We’re supposed to write our bios in third person, but if an author can prove they know the rules, they’re allowed to break them. (I can prove I know the rules: Matt Mikalatos has been writing professionally for fifteen years. See?)

For most of us, writing is something that happens alongside our careers, families, and lives. I wrote my first published novel, Imaginary Jesus, over winter break from my job (I was a missionary at the time). My first nonfiction book was written while my small children were in the bathtub (they got long baths in those days). I’ve written memoirs, speculative fiction, YA, MG, picture books, and most recently I was in a TV writers’ room (Going Home, from Sony Affirm) and wrote a movie (Legacy Peak, also Sony Affirm). I have two graphic novels on the way. My most recent book, Loving Disagreement, coauthored with Kathy Khang, won the Englewood Review of Books “Best Book of the Year” in 2023.

I am passionate about helping people write what they love and get published (if that’s their goal). I am thrilled to be with you all at CCW. I also love people … please do come talk with me!

Changing the World Through Young Adult Literature – Matt Mikalatos

There are few genres as vibrant, powerful, and transformational as YA literature, which is also read by many adults. The best fiction is about change, and YA lends itself to talking about change in the most essential, basic ways. It allows us to talk about deep personal issues, direct social issues, and wrestle with some of the most core human experiences. We’ll talk about the core attributes of YA literature and help one another sharpen our work so we can write books that entertain, delight, and transform our readers.


A02D38FC-2923-449F-9F7A-D4024E10BE9DDialogue and Beats: Essential Tools for Compelling Writing (Fiction) – Lindy Jacobs

Dialogue is more than talk. Learn to breathe life into your characters and advance your plot by using dialogue and physical beats. In this workshop, we’ll review effective techniques and rework some narrative passages together. What to bring: participants may bring a one- or two-page scene from a work-in-progress that involves two (or more) characters to work on during the workshop.

Critique Clinic: Get the Help You Need! (Fiction and Nonfiction) – Lindy Jacobs

How can we tell if our stories are headed in the right direction? Want to learn how to help others see what is or isn’t working in their manuscripts? Learn the basics of how to evaluate another writer’s work and improve your own writing skills. In this workshop, we’ll review guidelines for how to give helpful feedback and then break into groups of six participants each to work on our writing. Note: please bring six copies of a page or two of your writing to share for feedback.

BIO: Lindy Jacobs writes contemporary romance where the possibility of second chances exists. She is a professional speaker and writing workshop teacher, and she has written storylines for television. Lindy enjoys encouraging fellow writers and served as director of the four-day Oregon Christian Writers (now Cascade Christian Writers) Summer Conference for 12 years and coordinator of Central Oregon Writers critique workshops for five years. Originally from Kansas, she and her husband make their home in the beautiful high desert of Central Oregon.

Julie Zander

Cobbling Together an Income as a Writer – Julie McDonald Zander

You don’t need to have a best-selling novel to earn a living as a writer. With writing and editing skills, you can do personal histories, newspaper columns, magazine articles, freelance copywriting, freelance editing, and other paying work. Since leaving full-time work as a newspaper editor in 2000, Julie has cobbled together an income by juggling volunteer and paying projects to network, create, and craft stories that stimulate discussion, trigger memories, or leave lasting legacies on families and the community.

Ethical Wills: Creating Your Spiritual LegacyJulie McDonald Zander

Ethical wills are a 3,000-year-old Jewish tradition found in the Old Testament when patriarchs bestowed blessings on children and grandchildren orally. Later, these took the form of written ethical wills. What is an ethical will? How do we create one? Why would we want one? In this workshop, we’ll explore the reasons to leave behind a spiritual legacy and how to go about capturing yours for loved ones. If we have time, we’ll even write our obituaries to save our loved ones the trouble.

BIO: 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 75 individual, company, community, and organizational histories, including histories of Centralia College, Bucoda, Chehalis, the Hemphill-O’Neill Company, and the Lewis County Courthouse. She also does freelance editing for clients. For seven years, Julie co-coordinated the Cascade Writing Contest and volunteered as Oregon Christian Writers newsletter and notebook editor then later served as photographer at OCW events. She also organizes the Southwest Washington Writers Conference at Centralia College each September. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington in communications and political science. Julie and her husband, Larry, have two grown children.


Kristen Joy WIlkesHumor in Writing: Using Humor to Engage Readers, Hone Characterization, and Ease into Tough Topics Kristen Joy Wilks

Introduce your characters with a story about their snake-wrangling prowess, show they are impetuous by having them engage a cloud of attacking bees with a leaf blower, or use your unease about pet taxidermy to share how God longs for His children to be authentic. Writing about death? Not a problem. Humor isn’t just for laughs. Make the funny things count and the hard things easier with these handy writing tips from a woman who once watched her husband fall through their living room ceiling!

BIO: Kristen Joy Wilks lives with her camp-director husband and sons on a remote mountain meadow. She has blow-dried a chicken, smuggled bacon into the movie theater, and fought epic Nerf battles instead of washing dishes. Kristen writes about the humor and grace God gives amidst the detritus of life. Try one of her chicken-themed books for free by signing up for her newsletter at her website.


Marketing Strategies to Set You Apart and Increase Sales –


If you feel that marketing your books or services is overwhelming, you are not alone. “But I just want to write!” we often hear. Unfortunately, sometimes much of the marketing does rest on an author’s shoulders.

Although all marketing is impossible to learn within an hour’s time, Julie will share tried-and-true strategies you can focus on to set you and your books apart from other authors as well as increase your sales.

BIO: Julie Bonn Blank, an award-winning and Amazon best-selling author, spends her day career in marketing and management. She uses her experience and ongoing experimentation to find unique and effective ways to market her books and services. She is also very connected with other authors who are effectively marketing their books. Julie is the current president of Cascade Christian Writers and is writing one biography, cowriting an additional memoir, and working on book three in her award-winning fiction series, “Guardians of Grace.” She also develops websites for other writers.



We intentionally keep our pricing low and supplement with donations. We truly want you to attend, learn, and feel encouraged by our community of writers. Please join us in Salem this Spring!

One-Day Fees:

Members (all ages) – $50

Nonmember – $90 (Check into membership here)

Writers 30 & younger – $35

Online registration closes March 10. After that, you will have to register at the door and pay an additional $10.

Register Now

Download Spring Conference Schedule Here


(due to printers having different parameters set, we highly recommend either using the above link to download and print the safe PDF or copying and pasting the below information into a Word or Pages document before printing).

Cascade Christian Writers Spring Conference

Saturday, March 16, 2024 ~ 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Peoples Church ~ 4500 Lancaster Dr. NE ~ Salem, Oregon 97305

“Called and Gifted”

8:30–9:00        Registration, Continental Breakfast, Bookstore 

9:00–9:05        Welcome and Introductions: Julie Bonn Blank

9:05–9:15        Call to Worship: Cody and Christy Wildman

9:15–9:30        Devotional: Sandra Peterson

9:30–10:20      General Session I: Matt Mikalatos, “Called”

10:25–10:45    Morning Break: Refreshments and time to visit the bookstore

10:45–11:35    General Session II: Matt Mikalatos, “Gifted”

11:35–1:35      CCW Business Meeting Summary: Business updates; book giveaways; introduction of workshop teachers

 (NEW!) Panel Discussion: Current Publishing Trends in the Christian Marketplace with Nick Harrison, an agent from WordServe Literary; Kevin Ferguson, owner of Willamette Valley Christian Supply in Albany; and Rick Adams, owner of Rainbow West Christian bookstores in Gresham and Salem. Linda Kruschke will moderate.

Lunch – brown bag; coffee, tea, and water provided

1:40–2:40        Workshop Session 1:

  1. Matt Mikalatos – Changing the World Through Young Adult Literature
  2. Julie McDonald Zander – Cobbling together an Income as a Writer (all writers)
  3. Lindy Jacobs – Dialogue and Beats: Essential Tools for Compelling Writing (fiction)
  4. Julie Bonn Blank – Marketing Strategies to Set You Apart & Increase Sales (all writers)

2:40–3:00        Break: Bookstore is open.

3:00–4:00        Workshop Session 2:

  1. Matt Mikalatos – Screenwriting and Community Storytelling
  2. Kristen Joy Wilks – Humor in Writing: Using Humor to Engage Readers, Hone Characterization, and Ease into Tough Topics (all writers)
  3. Julie McDonald Zander – Ethical Wills: Creating Your Spiritual Legacy (nonfiction)
  4. Lindy Jacobs– Critique Clinic: Get the Help You Need! (all writers)

4:00–4:30        Dessert, Autograph Party, and Photo Session—all authors available to sign their books