Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Spokane Christian Writers Conference

I had the most amazing time at the Spokane Christian Writers Conference. I guess I am officially hooked on writing conferences and will hopefully be attending at least one a year from now on!

We started the morning with prayer, great motivational speech from Rob Fischer + keynote speaker David Murrow, and an introduction of all the workshop teachers at the conference. We then had a quick break, workshop 1, break, workshop 2, lunch, workshop 3, break, workshop 4, break, and panel Q&A. I sat with Denise Parker and we immediately connected about some really deep, intense emotional wounds from our pasts. I felt like I’d made a fast friend before the conference had even begun!  

During each workshop time we were able to choose between three available workshops. A couple of speakers held their workshop twice, thank goodness!

My first workshop was Writing for the Glory of God from Gus Bess. This is huge on my heart and I was really excited when I saw this class available as my first one. It got me exactly as pumped and inspired as I had hoped it would! Gus Bess lives his faith and inspired us all to do the same. Also, he has the world’s greatest voice and should for sure be doing voiceovers. He’s a former Marine with an amazing story so I plan to eventually send a copy of his book to my Marine cousin. Gus’s class was so powerful in showing how fiction and nonfiction writing can all be done for the glory of God (and can all point people to God), but also in providing so much hope and joy for life in general.

My second workshop was a fiction-writing workshop with Jan Cline, focused on the oh-so important element of tension in your story. This was so huge for the story I’m currently working on, the second draft of a time slip I’ve been working on since November. I immediately had some great ideas pop into my head for my own story’s tension and I quickly jotted them into the back of my notebook as soon as the class was over. Jan also used a few movie clips to make her points even more apparent for visual learners and I was so impressed!

At this point we ate lunch and I sat with Shoshanna Gabriel, a former erotic romance novelist who quit writing those books when she became a Christian and is now focusing on contemporary Christian romance instead. If this story sounds familiar to you, too, it’s because I totally just shared this exact plot synopsis in my Christy awards post, about the book The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck. I of course asked and no, Shoshanna hasn’t read it. We bonded over the struggle to find time to write when you’re homeschooling and parenting young children (she has a special needs nine-year-old and twin toddlers), and how hard it is to choose to write late at night when we’d rather unwind from the day, hang out with our husbands, etc. Another woman sat with us and she offered so much great insight to the conversation, plus I was really interested in the book she was working on! But alas, she didn’t have business cards with her and I had already forgotten her name by the time I finished my lunch and had a chance to write it down. (Lunch, by the way, was a catered taco bar. It was safe for the gluten-free crowd (apparently there were a lot of us) and I made mine as a taco salad so still felt great by the end of the conference!)

After lunch I took David Murrow’s workshop on building your electronic platform. This is something I’ve known for a while is a struggle for me. True confession: I really don’t like social media. I just don’t. I use it to fulfill a marketing obligation but don’t really use it all for personal use, other than when I occasionally get self-conscious and think my family and friends will think I’m a jerk for not using it outside of business! But it’s so important for an author, and especially a self-published author whose works are not sold in a store. Without my online platform, I have no platform. I mean, I have a mom and a grandma… but otherwise no platform. I have done lots of research on the subject and mostly already knew what I needed to do, but also felt extremely a) overwhelmed b) unmotivated c) apprehensive. David’s class gave me quite a bit more information that I hadn’t previously read or considered, but he also made everything seem so easy and achievable! I walked out informed, inspired, and with a workable list that will help me reach completely attainable goals!

I took my final workshop, Brandilyn Collins’ fiction workshop. Oh man, y’all. I loved all four workshops, like I said… but I think the order was especially God-ordained. I was so pumped and inspired in Brandilyn’s class! I really hope to take another class from her in the future. We talked all about human passions and emotions in a story and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I got out of this class! I bought her writing book, Getting into Character, and can’t wait to start it!

We took one last break, where I talked a bit with Carmen Peone about YA writing, and then we enjoyed a panel Q&A discussion before some closing remarks. I was so fired up from the great classes, I actually took the mic and asked three different questions! This was a seriously awesome session and I wished I could have taken all the other writers’ workshops, too! Dave Perry, Josh Johnson, Rob Fischer (who put the conference on), Ray Edwards, Terry Whalin, and JD DeWitt (development director for 5x5 Productions who was there to take pitches for finished books to be turned into movies or mini-series) all spoke in the panel alongside the writers whose workshops I took. There was a lot of really great stuff shared and there were also some book giveaways. I won a huge stack of books so you know this bookworm was pretty happy about that.

A few quick notes:
-I was so happy there was a quick break between each session! I didn’t have to miss anything for a bathroom break, I had a chance to refill my water between sessions, and I loved having a few minutes to process everything I’d just learned before moving on to the next big thing! 

-I brought a backup pen because I am both a writer and a classic Myers-Briggs J. Except that the first pen didn’t work and the second was accidentally stolen by an author who signed one of my books. I was at a writing conference without a pen! The kindest fellow writer, whose name I never caught, lent me hers. When I tried to give it back she told me to keep it since I’d want to take notes in the next sessions. <3 If you are reading this, THANK YOU! I’d still love your name! 

-I found advice online and not only had business cards printed specifically for the conference but also printed cards with my photo on them AND intentionally printed the smallest number of cards possible. Sure enough, three people said they were always excited when a card had a photo on it so they could actually remember who they had talked to… and I walked out of there ready to make some big website changes and therefore business card changes! I’m very glad I didn’t buy a huge box!  

I would absolute recommend the conference! Whether you have already written several books (Shoshanna Gabriel was a New York Times bestseller with maaaaany books under her belt) or just want to write but haven’t been able to get started yet (several people said this was their situation) or are anywhere between, there was just so much available for everyone! I hope to attend again next year, and you can bet I’ll be keeping an eye out for other Christian writing classes and conferences too!


  1. I didn't get up meet you at the conference, but appreciated the questions you asked in the Q&A. It was a wonderful group of speakers. Such an inspiring and encouraging day!

    (P.S. I found you on Instagram through the conference hashtag.)

    1. Thank you so much! I am just now seeing this for some reason but I'm happy to see it! I actually recognize you! Maybe next year we'll get to meet in person =]

  2. It was great meeting you! I’m so glad I went to the conference. It renewed my focus!

    1. It was great meeting you too! I really loved talking to you and I'm glad to hear that! I hope you've gotten a lot of writing done since you got back. =]
      My hold for Write a Novel in Ten Minutes a Day came in at the library so I thought of you when I picked it up!


Thanks so much for your comments! I always read them, don't always have time to answer quickly. Sorry about that!