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A Conference with Carrie

On February 23rd I had the pleasure of speaking at the Oregon Christian Writers one-day winter conference in Salem, Oregon.

Carrie Stuart Parks delivers the keynote address

I arrived about thirty minutes late due to an accident on the freeway but, after checking in, I entered the main auditorium and listened to the keynote speaker, Carrie Stuart Parks. Carrie is an award-winning, internationally known forensic artist and author. I had read about her before the conference. She taught classes for the FBI, Secret Service, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Her awards include the Christy, Carol, and the INSPY.  

Kyle Pratt, Cornelia Becker Seigneur, Carrie Stuart Parks. and Julie Zander

She talked about her progression from artist to writing books on drawing and on to her fiction novels. I enjoyed the way she mixed art and writing in a talk about growth. Evidently, I missed how she met Frank Peretti and came to be mentored by him. As a longtime fan of his novels, I would have taken eager notes on that.  

Fortunately, I wasn’t late for my class on Finding and Forming Critique Groups. I’ve attended critique groups for more than a decade and through them learned many valuable writing lessons and formed lasting friendships.

As authors, we spend many hours alone while writing, but sometimes we need the perspective of others. That’s where the critique group comes in handy. Getting out of our comfort zone and letting others read and comment on our work is hard, but that is what we do as published authors.

I hope to expand upon the talk and give it at other events.  


Click on the following links to read my author bio, or read more about current writing projects.

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OCW Second Day

Tuesday, my second day at the conference, was a 15 hour day.

I study to stay informed about author and book marketing techniques, but as much as I learn, I want to know more. That led me to take Randy Ingermanson Passive Marketing class. This is a three-day class and much of this first morning was on establishing your vision and goals for success. As they say, how can you get there if you don’t know where you’re going? Tomorrow and the next day are more on the specific strategies and tactics.

One of my goals for the conference is to meet people and network. People tend to sit at the same table for meals but, at conferences, I make it a point to sit at a different table for each meal. Today, for lunch, I sat at a nearly empty table. Gradually the table filled. As we talked I learned the man on my right was a newspaper editor. A woman on my left had just finished writing her first book.

Frank Peretti and Kyle Pratt at the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference

Just before the meal was served, only the seat directly across from me remained available. Moments later, a gentleman sat there. I thought he looked familiar so, I glanced at his nametag. It was Frank Peretti, one of the best-known contemporary Christian authors. I can still remember reading his first adult novel, This Present Darkness when it came out in 1986, and the sequel Piercing the Darkness, two years later. He’s written ten novels and sold over 10 million books. I told him I was a longtime fan, asked him about current projects and got this picture with him.  

All of that happened before noon. There were still two classes on public relations, an editor’s panel, an author’s panel and another class with Randy Ingermanson on Scrivener software to attend.

I didn’t get back to my room until after ten o’clock. I don’t think I could survive many conference days like this one.