2017 Mentors

2017 Mentor Appointments: Focus on the Next Step

We are pleased to offer half-hour career mentoring appointments in our Writing Center, where you can sit face-to-face with an experienced professional author to ask advice about craft, marketing, goal-setting, or the business of writing. Mentoring appointments are not just for new authors. A writer can benefit from wise counsel at any stage of his or her career. An appointment might include a brief prayer, if requested.

At the beginning of July, all registered full-time conferees will receive an email asking for their first, second, and third choices for mentors. Only one mentor appointment will be given to each conferee who requests one.

What to bring to the appointment: Several pages of your writing if you have craft questions—plus your answers to the following critical questions. Be specific. This will tell your mentor where you are in your writing career and provide insight on how to best help you.

  1. What kind of writing are you doing right now?
  2. How long have you been writing?
  3. What do you want to achieve with your writing?
  4. What is the biggest thing preventing you from achieving that goal?
  5. How can your mentor help you today?


Meet Your Mentors

 Tessa Afshar, biblical fiction—https://tessaafshar.com/

Coaching Class: “Weaving Spiritual Themes into Fiction”
Keynoter: Wednesday night

Tessa Afshar

Tessa Afshar has received numerous awards and nominations since she burst on the publishing scene with her first novel, Pearl in the Sand, which won “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards in 2011. Her book Harvest of Rubies was nominated for the 2013 Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) Book Award in the fiction category. World Magazine chose Harvest of Rubies as one of four notable books of the year. Her novel Harvest of Gold won the prestigious 2014 Christy Award in the Historical Romance category. In the Field of Grace, based on the story of Ruth, was nominated for the Grace Award in 2015.


Karen Barnett, historical fiction— www.karenbarnettbooks.com

Karen Barnet
Karen Barnett

An OCW success story, Karen Barnett is the author of five published novels. Her newest book, The Road to Paradise: A Vintage National Parks Novel, releases in June. Oregon Christian Writers honored her with the Writer of Promise award in 2013 and a Cascade Award in 2014. In 2016 she received the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference Writer of the Year award.



Rebecca DeMarino, historical romance—www.rebeccademarino.com

Rebecca DeMarino

Rebecca DeMarino writes historical romance and is the author of The Southold Chronicles (Revell/Baker), a series set in 17th century Long Island. She inherited her love of baking and gardening from her mother; a love of horses, reading, and writing from her dad—and the wanderlust gene from both parents. When she traveled to Southold, L.I., with her mother in 1999 to discover their roots, passions collided: her love of faith, family, travel, history, and writing. Her novels include A Place in His Heart, To Capture Her Heart, and To Follow Her Heart.



Melanie Dobson, fiction—www.melaniedobson.com

Coaching Class: “Writing Historical Fiction for Contemporary Readers”

Melanie Dobson
Melanie Dobson

Writing historical fiction is really an excuse for Melanie Dobson to explore ghost towns, interview fascinating people, and spend hours reading old journals and books. Melanie is the award-winning author of 16 historical, romantic suspense, and time-slip novels. Three of her historical novels have won Carol Awards: Chateau of Secrets, Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa, and The Silent Order. Currently, she is writing historical and time-slip fiction set in Europe.



Marion Duckworth, nonfiction—http://marionduckworthministries.com/

Prayer Team

Marion Duckworth
Marion Duckworth

Marion Duckworth, a past president of OCW, is the author of 17 books, plus curricula and hundreds of articles. A former columnist for Power for Living, she has spoken widely and has been a frequent guest on various media. Marion and her husband, John, spent 11 years as Village Missionaries and later established Abiding Ministry, a free counseling service. Marion has worked as a book doctor and editor and invites conferees to let her help them.


Jeff Gerke, fiction—http://jeffgerke.com/

Coaching Class: “Destined for Glory: Crafting Your Protagonist and His/Her Inner Journey”

Jeff Gerke
Jeff Gerke

When you’re truly ready to make your fiction publishable, it’s time to call Jeff Gerke. He trains novelists how to better do what they’re trying to do. He trains through his top-rated Udemy class, “Write Your Best Fiction and Get It Published.” He trains through his five books for Writers Digest: The Irresistible Novel, Plot Versus Character, The First 50 Pages, Write Your Novel in a Month, and The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction. He trains through the many writers’ conferences he teaches all over the country every year. He trained his authors when he ran Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction, which he sold after an award-winning five-year run. And he trains through the freelance editing he does for his clients. Jeff is known for his canny book-doctoring skills and his humorous and encouraging manner, which leaves writers feeling empowered and like they really can do this thing after all.


Leslie Gould

Leslie Gould, fiction—www.lesliegould.com

Nite Owl: Small Group First-Page Critique: “Hook Your Reader on the Very First Page” (Wednesday)
Mentor: Wednesday
Leslie Gould is the #1 best-selling and Christy Award-winning author of 25 novels, including The Amish Midwife, The Amish Bride, and Courting Cate. She writes contemporary, Amish, and historical/time-slip stories. She received her MFA from Portland State University and teaches writing at Warner Pacific College. She enjoys church history, research trips, and traveling with her family. Leslie was the 2013 recipient of the OCW Cascade Trailblazer Award.

Traci Hilton, mystery, blogging, marketing—www.tracihilton.com

Workshop: “Choose Your Own Adventures in Publishing”

Tracy Hilton
Tracy Hilton

Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of The Plain Jane Mysteries, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries, and the Tillgiven Romantic Mysteries. She has been involved in indie publishing since 2010, and though she’s had offers from small and large presses she hasn’t gone hybrid yet. She was the Mystery/Suspense Category winner for the 2012 Christian Writers of the West Phoenix Rattler Contest, a finalist for Speculative Fiction in the same contest, and has a Drammy from the Portland Civic Theatre Guild. She blogs at www.TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com, and www.CozyMysteryMagazine.com. Traci attended Fackelbararnas Bibelskola in Holsby Brunn, Sweden, and earned a degree in history from Portland State University. You can join the Good Clean Book Club at http://www.tracihilton.com and be the first to find out when her next book releases.

Ginger Kolbaba, nonfiction books and articleswww.gingerkolbaba.com

Coaching Class: “Get Published Fast: The Art to Writing Great Articles”
Workshop: “Writing for the Web”
Writing Center: Mentor and Independent Acquisition Agent for Parenting Articles

Ginger Kolbaba

Ginger Kolbaba is an accomplished, award-winning author, editor, and speaker. She has written or contributed to more than 30 books, including Your Best Happily Ever After. In the publishing industry for more than two decades, Ginger is the former editor of Today’s Christian Woman magazine, Marriage Partnership magazine, and the founding editor of Kyria.com, all award-winning resources of Christianity Today. Four years ago, she started her own writing and editing business, in which she works with both major publishing houses and individuals. She acquires articles that focus on tweens, teens, adopted, or special needs for a national Christian parenting publication. Find her at Facebook.com/gingerkolbaba, or Twitter @gingerkolbaba.


Maxine Marsolini, nonfiction—http://www.rebuildingfamilies.net/

Maxine Marsolini
Maxine Marsolini

Maxine Marsolini is an author, life coach, and co-host of KRVR “The River” blog talk radio. She has a passion for helping others reach their God-given potential. She is the author of Rebuilding Families One Dollar at a Time (with Charlie Marsolini, CPA), Raising Children in Blended Families, Blended Families, the Blended Families Workbook, and the newly released Mother’s Fury. Maxine received life coach training at Western Seminary and is a lay member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. She is considered a valued resource for family matters; her tried and tested ideas can be found in articles appearing in magazines, blogs, and compilation books. Maxine is also a monthly columnist for The Christian Journal and the East County Gazette.


April McGowan, healing fiction—http://aprilmcgowan.com

April McGowan

April McGowan loves writing “Healing Fiction,” books that don’t just entertain but connect on a deeper level with the brokenness we all live with and don’t often talk about. She writes stories of hope, courage, and inspiration. She has published two novels, Jasmine (nominated for the Carol Award debut novel) and Macy. Her latest novel, Hold the Light will release in August 2017. In 2014, April was named the OCW Writer of Promise. April is the OCW Publicity Coordinator.


Lynn Otto, Poetry —lynnottoinfo.wordpress.com

Workshop: Poetry in the Image of God
Mentor -Wednesday

Lynn Otto

Lynn Otto has given dynamic writing workshops in the US, Canada, and France. She holds an MFA from Portland State University, has had poems published in various online and print journals. Last year she was a resident associate at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, where she worked on a collection of poems exploring the tension between duty and love. Now back in Oregon, she facilitates poetry critique groups, serves on the Oregon Poetry Association board, and is an advisory editor of Triggerfish Critical Review.

James L. Rubart, fiction—www.jameslrubart.com

Coaching Class: “Imaginative Fiction Critique Class”
Mentor: Premium Students only

James L. Rubart

James L. Rubart thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and he loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the best-selling, Christy Book of the Year, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews award-winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker. During the day, he runs his branding and marketing company, which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm.



Cornelia Seigneur, journalism, article writing and blogging—www.corneliaseigneur.com

Mentor: Wednesday

Cornelia Seigneur

Cornelia Becker Seigneur has been a freelance journalist for The Oregonian since 1996, specializing in faith, family, motherhood, and community stories as well as writing articles and blogging. In addition, she has written for Christianity Today, Today’s Christian Woman, and the Huffington Post, among other publications. Cornelia is also the author of two books, Images of America: West Linn and WriterMom Tales: Corralling the Commotion while Savoring the Chaos, Spilled Cheerios and Prayers of Real-Life Motherhood, and is working on her third book. In addition to being a writer and a mom, Cornelia has been an editor as well as an adjunct professor (Multnomah and George Fox universities) and a high school English teacher (Horizon Christian). Cornelia is the founder of the Faith & Culture Writers Conference, and she loves helping connect and inspire other writers and artists of faith.

Poppy Smith, speaking—www.poppysmith.com

Workshop: “Be a Speaker Worth Listening To”

Poppy Smith

Poppy Smith is an award-winning writer whose latest book reflects her passion. Go for It! Make Your Life Count for God is a Scripture-based motivational guide to saying Yes to God’s leading. Poppy is a multi-published author. Her twice-monthly blog, THRIVE, provides spiritual encouragement and insights to more than 2,000 people around the world. Drawing from her extensive experience as a Bible teacher with Bible Study Fellowship as well as her ministry as a popular inspirational speaker both in the USA and overseas, Poppy is uniquely equipped to help writers turn their work into meaningful messages.


Bo Stern, memoir, nonfiction—www.bostern.com

Coaching Class: “Telling Your Story with Authenticity and Empathy”
Mentor Wednesday

Bo Stern

Bo Stern is a teaching pastor and writer who focuses on the strength that comes through suffering. She has written three books, published by NavPress and Thomas Nelson, around the subject of her family’s journey through the Shadowlands as her husband, Steve, battled ALS, the disease that took his life in 2015. Her work has been featured in countless publications including Huffington Post, Christianity Today, and Focus on the Family publications.


Susan May Warren, fiction—www.susanmaywarren.com

Coaching Class: “A Novel Career: for both indie and traditional authors at every stage in the writing journey”
Nite Owl: “Your Brilliant Blurb”

Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren is owner of Novel Rocket and the founder of Novel.Academy. A USA-Today best-selling, award-winning author of more than 50 novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill, Summerside Press, and Revell, she’s an eight-time Christy Award finalist, a three-time RITA finalist, and a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and the ACFW Carol. A popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation, she’s also the author of the popular writing method, “The Story Equation.” A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at her website.


Jill Williamson, young adult fiction/all genreswww.jillwilliamson.com

Workshop: “Creating a Timeline for Your Novel”

Jill Williamson
Jill Williamson

Jill Williamson is a chocolate-loving, daydreaming creator of kingdoms, and the award-winning author of several speculative novels including By Darkness Hid, Replication, Captives, and King’s Folly. Jill received Christy Awards for By Darkness Hid and To Darkness Fled (Blood of the Kings series books 1 and 2) and the Cascade Award for The New Recruit. She also received the 2015 OCW Trailblazer Award. She loves teaching about writing, which she does weekly at www.GoTeenWriters.com.



Ben Wolf, fiction and short stories—www.splicketypubgroup.com; www.benwolf.com

Workshop: “Writing Short Fiction That Sells”

Ben Wolf
Ben Wolf

Ben Wolf is the founder of Splickety Publishing Group (SPG), which offers three quarterly flash-fiction magazines: Splickety Prime (multi-genre), Havok Magazine (speculative fiction), and Splickety Love (romance). His first novel, Blood for Blood, won the 2015 Cascade Award for Best Speculative Fiction and examines the question of whether or not God can redeem anyone—even a vampire. Ben is a frequent speaker and teacher at writing conferences and offers a variety of professional services to other writers, including editing, proofreading, ghostwriting, strategic novel planning, and marketing/branding consulting.


Julie Zander, journalism, memoir ghost writing—http://www.chaptersoflife.com/

Cascade Awards Co-Chair

Julie McDonald Zander

Julie McDonald Zander, OCW photographer, served as OCW’s newsletter editor for three years and summer conference notebook compiler for seven. She worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for 20 years before launching her personal history business, Chapters of Life, in 1999. She has written and published more than 50 individual, business, organizational and community histories. In addition to running her self-publishing company, Julie has written a column for The Chronicle in Centralia, Washington, once a week for a decade.