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Glimpses of OCW

Carolyn Bickel, Debby Lee, Julie Zander, Heather Alexander with Kyle Pratt behind.

Carolyn Bickel, Debby Lee, Julie Zander, Heather Alexander with Kyle Pratt behind.

In August I attended the Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) conference in Portland. About fifteen years ago this was the first conference I ever attended. I’ve attended other conferences since then, but OCW remains special to me. Consequently, I know many of the regular attenders, but it seems that more people recognize me than I know. I’m always trying to remember names.

The conference ran for several days. I always take a few pictures, but this year I decided to make a short video of my experience. In the video I included the picture of Kelsey and me that you see in the blogpost, A Good Conference. I also included video from classes and many more pictures.

Over the days of the event, I thought I took ample pictures and video, but when back home I discovered that I didn’t have all I needed. Still, I worked to create it. Over the last few weeks, I combined what I had with some pictures that friends provided and made this six-minute video. I hope you enjoy it,

Also, if you’ve ever been to the Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) conference. press the red button below and let me know about your experience.


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A Time to Endure

Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference, Day Three

The third day of the 2015 Conference required endurance. 

Susan May Warren teaching in a cold room.

I know I’m late with my summary of the third day of the conference, but I have two things I must mention. The morning coaching class taught by authors Susan May Warren, James Rubart and Jeff Gerke, was always insightful—but cold. The weather in the northwest has been hot and dry this summer and the management of the Jantzen Beach Red Lion hotel must have turned up the air conditioning in an attempt to cool the entire region.

One person said, “They don’t need to give us ice water, just tap water and in a few minutes we’ll have the ice.” Another person bought coffee for the entire class. Bless her, Lord.

So, now you know why Susan Warren is wrapped in a blanket as she teaches class.

The Cascade Awards Banquet

The Cascade Award banquet climaxed the third evening of the conference. As a finalist for the Cascade Award in published speculative fiction for A Time to Endure, tension grew in me with each passing minute. At my table as my own private support group were my critique partners Barbara Blakey, Carolyn Bickel, and Kristie Kandoll. Other award nominees at our table were Cheryl Secomb, for unpublished children’s fiction, Bethany Hayes for unpublished nonfiction, and Shari Carroll, for unpublished devotionals. Shari Carroll went home that night as a Cascade Award winner, the rest of us remained finalists.  

Ben Wolf and Kyle Pratt after the Cascade Awards banquet.

The other nominees for the published speculative fiction award were Gary Bray, author of The Republic of Texas 2022 and Ben Wolf, editor-in-chief of Splickety Publishing Group with his novel Blood for Blood. I’ve never met Bray and didn’t find him at the conference, but Ben Wolf is a friend and I’m glad he won the 2015 Cascade Award for published speculative fiction.

I’ll try again next year. And maybe Ben won’t!

OCW Third Day

I should have kept a list—with pictures.

I mentioned earlier that one of my goals for this conference is to meet people and network. I’ve continued my practice of sitting at different tables for lunch and dinner. For today’s lunch, I sat with Jeff Gerke at a table of speculative fiction writers, including a teen working on his first novel.

Randy Ingermanson and Jeff Gerke discuss business trends

Jeff is an editor, author, graphic designer and the founder of Marcher Lord Press, now Enclave Publishing, which is the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. Since I write speculative fiction, this seemed a great place to eat lunch. However, it got even better when, moments later, Randy Ingermanson sat across from me. Eating occurred between talk of what those around the table were writing and trends in the genre.

Unfortunately, I’m meeting so many people, I can’t remember many of the names or most of the interesting books they’ve told me about. I should have taken notes.   

Barbara Blakey receives the Cascade Writers Award for unpublished historical fiction.

As fun and interesting as lunch was, the real excitement for me came later, at the Cascade Awards Banquet. This award, given by Oregon Christian Writers, has ten categories for both published and unpublished works. These include contemporary, historical and speculative fiction, young adult, poetry and more. I had known for a couple of weeks that my good friend and fellow author Barbara Blakey was a finalist. That meant her book was among the top three in her category.

I sat beside Barbara as the hosts, Jeff Gerke and author Susan May Warren, presented the first ten awards. Then it was Barbara’s category. Jeff read the first line of the winning book and I recognized the main characters name. Then he announced that in the category of unpublished historical fiction the winner was, “The Secret of Clara Rose, by Barbara Tifft Blakey.”

 I look forward to reading in print soon.