Thursday, March 6, 2008

Colorado Christian Writers Conference

Twelve years ago in June we moved to Colorado from Illinois. We also changed jobs—from a very good-paying secular job for my husband supplemented by my part-time salary as a teacher in a Christian school to full-time church camp director (Roger) and kitchen manager (me).

My writing was just starting to move forward and show results. And I'd started attending American Christian Writers' conferences when they were close enough. One of the reasons I was excited about the move (other than we could definitely see the Lord in everything!) was the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

So one of the first things I did, after the first busy, busy summer season at camp, was to contact someone about CCWC. The contact person informed me that she no longer was in charge and that she'd sent my name to Marlene Bagnull who would be directing the conference from then on.

I was familiar with Marlene, but had never met her personally, through doing her study for writers, Write His Answer. Marlene graciously answered all my questions and offered me a scholarship to the conference the next spring. God provided the rest of what I needed in wonderful ways. And the rest (I know, clichéd) is history.

I've been at every CCWC since 1997. And if you're counting, that's 12 years this year. There were years I didn't think I'd be able to go because of lack of funds, but every year those funds came in.

There are several things about CCWC that makes it stand out above other conferences. Every year Marlene, with the Lord's help, works very hard to make sure there is a good balance of faculty for both fiction and nonfiction. And the workshops are geared for writers at any level, from not even sure of a call to write all the way up through advanced. This conference is bathed in prayer long before the workshops and faculty are decided. And it shows.

The conference is held in beautiful Estes Park, right on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. The YMCA of the Rockies has an ideal auditorium that suits the needs of the conference. And for those of us who spend a lot of time in the lobbies, we are treated to awesome views of the mountains that surround Estes Park. But the scenery is really only the icing on the cake.

The spiritual aspect of the conference has an impact on me every year. Many times I've gone so needy and the Lord meets me there and encourages me to continue on. I've grown in my walk with the Lord each year.

And I've grown in learning the craft of writing. When I first started attending, I focused on the nonfiction aspect, because that's what I was writing. And my first sales came as a result of the contacts I made there: an article in Discipleship Journal, several devotionals in various devotional books, newsletter articles, etc. But my heart has always been in fiction, so I started attending the continuing sessions and workshops that dealt with fiction. I met several of my favorite authors along the way, people I consider good friends and mentors today.

Through working as a volunteer at each conference, I started building a network of writer friends, editors, agents, and authors, which is a pretty large circle of influence today. For a very shy, introverted person this is huge! I'm amazed at what God has done. Because of CCWC, I am a freelance editor and proofreader today. My first proofreading job with Barbour is a result of Marlene's recommendation to an editor there. Because of CCWC, I review manuscripts and do in-depth critiques for a literary agency as well as individuals through my Web site. Because of CCWC, I've had several articles and devotionals published. Because of CCWC, I joined ACFW when I was just beginning my fiction writing journey. Because of CCWC, I'm a part of a local critique group. And because of CCWC, I've learned a whole lot more about running a conference. The Lord has opened up new areas of service and leadership, broadening my network even further.

CCWC is a top-notch conference. I'm privileged to be a part of the conference staff, and it has been my experience in the workshops and general sessions to grow as a writer and editor.

This year's conference is May 14–17 at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. Please visit the Web site to get a pdf brochure, learn more about the faculty and staff and workshops, and to register. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I'll address them in later posts.

We hope to see many of you there this year.

Daily Bible reading: Friday, March 7—Job 3-–4; 1 Corinthians 2


Anonymous said...

I just want to thank you for posting this! You have no idea who I am, I actually was googling 'freelance' Christian writing, and your website popped up:-) I have been praying about a career in writing. Right out of highschool I was nearly hired by Barbour as an editorial assistant. Five years later, I am trying to get back into it, searching for His guidance. Coincidentally (or maybe not) I am also praying about moving out to Colorado! Again, thank you for posting this. It was so helpful.

Jan Parrish said...

I'm just glad you moved here just before we moved back. I always enjoy our time together. :)

Caleb's mom said...

Thank you so much for your heartfelt expression of gratitude toward the conference that I am about to attend for the very first time. I have not prepared for the conference as of yet. Many other things have demanded my attention lately. But today I began to take time out to gather a focus toward next week and the blessing that the Lord has provided, as I embark on a new adventure. I have attended a few writer's conferences but never a Christian one. Your words helped me to rest in my decision to attend. I hope to see you there and thank you in person.