Coaching Classes

Summer Conference – August 12-15, 2013

Oregon Christian Writers is pleased to offer 12 coaching classes taught by some of the best in the publishing field. These in-depth classes meet for three consecutive mornings for a total of seven hours. Note: Class caps vary. When you register, please indicate your first, second, and third choices. If your first choice class has a spot available, you will be assigned to that class; if not, you will be assigned to your next choice.

Where Do I Go From Here? (Fiction Career)

Karen Ball

Geared to published fiction writers who feel stuck in their careers. This interactive coaching class addresses this question from a number of angles, including craft, career, and commission. In the craft sections, we’ll test tools to help you take your writing to a whole new level. In addition, we’ll explore such topics as Author Voice and Story Catalyst. In the career sessions, we’ll examine practical things you can do to increase your value to editors, publishers, and readers. And in the commission, we’ll dig into the reasons for doing what you do with the goal of reigniting the excitement that first drew you to this ever-changing world of writing and publishing.

Karen Ball has been blessed to use her love of story for more than 30 years in publishing. Currently the owner/operator of Karen Ball Publishing Services, LLC, and a literary agent with the prestigious Steve Laube Agency, Karen has been dubbed “the Fiction Tiger” of Christian publishing. She has built and led fiction lines for Tyndale, Multnomah, Zondervan, and B&H Publishing Group. She has acquired and worked with some top novelists, including Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, Brandilyn Collins, Angela Hunt, Ginny Yttrup, and Robin Jones Gunn. In addition, Karen is a best-selling, award-winning novelist and a popular speaker.

From Idea to Print and Beyond (Nonfiction)

Kim Bangs

“Let’s start at the very beginning . . . a very good place to start.” In this track we’ll begin with the creative idea and move forward, discussing details of publishing, platform, proposals, and process that can lead to print. The class will be active, interactive, and reflective, with a few surprises along the way. Learn from an acquisitions editor what publishers want and how to produce it, along with all the elements that can make a nonfiction author successful.

For 23 years Kim Bangs has served in the Christian publishing industry. Beginning as an editor in the children’s curriculum department at Gospel Light, she currently is the contracts/author relations manager for Regal (the book division of Gospel Light) and also serves as part of the acquisitions team. In 2012 Kim was awarded Editor of the Year by Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA). She also can be found at several writers’ conferences throughout the year doing all she can to inspire and encourage writers to write their passion and keep pressing on. She enjoys baking, gardening, Disneyland, and sports . . . but loves Jesus and His Church.

Proposals: How to Write One That Gets You to YES! (Nonfiction and Fiction)

Chip MacGregor

Writers often complain that after months or years spent writing a book it seems unreasonable they should then have to go to all the effort of creating a proposal. We’ll discuss why proposals are important not only to publishers but also to authors. We’ll discuss the purpose of both fiction and nonfiction proposals; talk about choice of elements and style; we’ll look at samples, dissecting what works and doesn’t work; we’ll study the process the proposals go through with a publisher; and get to work creating one that helps you—and hopefully an editor—stand up and say “YES!” to your book.

Chip MacGregor is the president of MacGregor Literary, a full-service literary agency in Portland. Chip has worked in the publishing industry for three decades, including time as a freelance writer and editor. He is the author of numerous books, including a couple of best-selling nonfiction titles, and he formerly served as a publisher with Time-Warner. He began working as an agent 15 years ago and has represented hundreds of titles, including numerous award winners and best sellers and one book that hit #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. He works with both fiction and nonfiction titles, but the majority of his business is in the fiction market. A well-known speaker at conferences and via online writing sites, he lives on the Oregon coast. Learn more about Chip at

The Power of Plot (Fiction)

Jeff Gerke

Plot is easy, right? Just drop your characters onstage and let them do whatever they want. But novelists who excel at creating wonderful characters may struggle to come up with plots that are just as strong. This can result in a manuscript that wanders everywhere but gets nowhere, and readers are not given a sound and satisfying story structure. Come find out how to utilize the power of plot to make your novel the focused page-turner your characters—and your readers—deserve.

After writing his own speculative fiction and spearheading the launch of a fiction imprint dedicated to Christian speculative fiction at a major Christian publisher, Jeff Gerke launched Marcher Lord Press, an independent publishing house whose several major awards lend credence to its claim of being the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. His how-to book, The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, is available through Amazon or Marcher Lord Press, and Plot Versus Character, his first craft book from Writer’s Digest Books, released in 2010. His latest WD fiction craft book, The First 50 Pages, released in 2011. He also teaches online with the Bestseller Society,

Marketing 101: Vision, Strategy, Tactics

Randy Ingermanson

If you’re going to market your book effectively, you must have a clear vision of what it is you’re actually selling and how your book is different from every other book on the planet. You also need a vision of who you are as a writer and what you have to say. If you have no vision, you will almost certainly fail. Once you develop a clear vision, you still need to create a strategy for marketing your work. Your strategy must define your target audience, how you plan to reach it, and how you’ll measure your effectiveness. If you have no strategy, your marketing will get mired in doubts and desperation. Once you create a strategy, you need to use sound and ethical marketing tactics that work together to make your strategy happen. Don’t be a willy-nilly, ineffective marketer! Be a great marketer so you can be a great writer.

Randy Ingermanson is the award-winning author of six novels and two nonfiction books, including Writing Fiction for Dummies. Randy has a doctorate in theoretical physics from UC Berkeley and is known around the world as “the Snowflake Guy” in honor of his Snowflake method of designing a novel. His Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine—the largest electronic magazine dedicated to teaching fiction—has more than 28,000 readers. Randy is one of our Mentoring Team leaders and is known for encouraging budding writers, some of whom have gone on to write award-winning and best-selling fiction. Randy has served on the advisory board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Learn more at

Get Published Fast: The Art to Writing Great Magazine and Online Articles (Nonfiction)

Ginger Kolbaba

The average book will sell fewer than 2,000 copies. Contrast that with magazine writing in which your article could be read by more than one million people worldwide. That means the best and fastest way to build a freelance writing career is by starting with articles—both print and online. But there’s an art to magazine writing—and magazine publishing is a difficult field to break into. Yet it’s possible for you write articles that editors and readers will love (and that could potentially help you land a book contract or get you speaking gigs). What’s the secret? This class will help you move past the predictable to explore fresh ideas. From this class filled with practical help and writing exercises, you will discover how to write to get an editor to look at your article. You will also examine the kinds of features editors look for, the calendar-content connection, the similarities and differences between writing for print and online, copyrights and wrongs, and how to market articles at the right time to the right publication.

Ginger Kolbaba was editor of Today’s Christian Woman,, and of women’s resources for Christianity Today from 2008-2013. In Christian publishing for 17 years, she was the founding editor of the award-winning and Marriage Partnership magazine. An accomplished book author, Ginger has written or contributed to more than 20 books, including the novel Desperate Pastors’ Wives, and often teaches classes on writing.

How to Write Your First Novel So It Gets Contracted (Fiction)

James L. Rubart

A majority of fiction writers have two or three (or more) finished manuscripts sitting in a drawer collecting dust. This class is designed to help you make sure your current work in progress gets a contract whether it’s your first or fifth. Best-selling author James L. Rubart will teach beginning novelists the writing secrets that got him a contract for the very first novel he wrote and how those techniques can be applied no matter where a writer is on the journey.

James L. Rubart is the award-winning author of Rooms, Book of Days, The Chair, Soul’s Gate, and his latest, Memory’s Door, releases in August. During the day, he runs Barefoot Marketing, which helps authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time, he dirt-bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. More at

Why Active Faith Means Passive Writing (Fiction and Nonfiction)

Mick Silva

Come be filled and rejuvenated to pursue the “both/and” of the wonderfully frustrating interplay of Christian writing. Far from hokey, religious, or mystical, we’ll explore writing as one of many basic human functions, like breathing (“what goes in will come out”), eating (“both bread and wine, body and blood”), and relating (both sharing stories and listening). We’ll discuss connections between the things of God and the things of man, and discover our “one line” in God’s poem and the slowness required to grow and mature our God-given passion for words.

Mick Silva is a book editor with more than 12 years’ experience acquiring projects for Focus on the Family and WaterBrook Multnomah (the Christian division of Random House)—focusing on heartfelt, artful, “God-seeker” stories—fiction, narrative nonfiction, and memoir, especially ones that don’t wrap up neatly. His authors include Susan Hill (Closer than Your Skin),Milan and Kay Yerkovich (How We Love), and Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts,a NYT bestseller). As a pastor’s son, Mick probably should have been a pastor, but he’s always been a bit of a bookworm. He runs, where authors critique and connect through story.

Wanna Be a Speaker? Taking Your Message from the Page to the Public (Beginning speakers)

Poppy Smith

Do you want to expand your ministry and increase your book sales? Learn from an international speaker and author how to get started and successfully conduct a speaking ministry. God has given you a message—words of hope, laughter, encouragement, and insights that can change lives. Move your message from the page to the public and watch yourself grow personally and professionally.

The class will cover:

  • Essentials of a talk worth listening to—Understand the basics.
  • Examining your material for hidden jewels—What do you have to say?
  • Engaging your audience—How to connect with warmth, humor, stories.
  • Exploring your desire and direction—What is involved?

Bring a story or book you’ve written for the basis of your speech. You’ll work on this in each class and get encouraging feedback to help you develop your message and speaking style.

Poppy Smith is an award-winning writer whose latest book, Why Can’t He Be More Like Me? (Harvest House), received the Advanced Speaker Writer Association (AWSA) 2012 Golden Scroll award for the Best Nonfiction Book of the Year. In addition, she has authored three books (published by Bethany House), two Bible studies, and numerous articles. Her e-zine Thrive provides monthly spiritual encouragement and insights to more than 2,000 people around the world. She was also the OCW fall conference keynoter in 2010. 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 US and overseas, Poppy is uniquely equipped to help writers turn their work into meaningful messages. For more information, visit her website,

Discovering Gold in Others’ Poems, Planting Treasures in Our Own

Colette Tennant

We will go on a conference-long poetry treasure hunt! Poetry offers so many wonders—birthday good wishes; devotional poems; the rich, moving lyrics of our greatest hymns; and, of course, David’s Psalms. In this class, we will study the various treasures poetry has to offer. One of the gems we will find is that studying poetry and practicing writing poetry teaches us how to give the gift of our full attention. Simone Weil recognized this when she wrote, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” Learning from master poets, we will write our own poems. So many treasures—as G. K. Chesterton said, “Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about things in my pocket. But I found it would be too long. . . .” When we write new poems, they will have some rhinestones at first, but then through careful editing, the rubies, the sapphires, the pearls will begin to shine through.

Colette Tennant is an English professor at Corban University in Salem, where she lives with her husband, her youngest son, and three cats. She got her doctorate in English from Ohio State University. Along with teaching creative writing and literature at Corban, she also teaches art in Germany, Austria, and Italy every other year. Along with writing poetry, she enjoys playing the piano and writing music. Her poetry book Commotion of Wings was published by Main Street Rag in 2010 as an Editor’s Choice. She has had many poems published in journals, including in Christianity and Literature, Dos Passos Review, and Southern Poetry Review.

Let’s Make a Scene! (Fiction)

Susan May Warren

A great book is made up of a conglomeration of scenes—the kind that make you weep and laugh and that move the characters through their journey. But a great scene has many components, a flow, and most definitely a purpose for being there. “Let’s Make a Scene!” is an in-depth, advanced coaching class on how to create a powerful scene. We’ll start with the elements of a great scene then, in Scene Therapy, we’ll learn how to apply these elements to a new or current scene. You’ll learn how to recognize a great scene and how to fix a saggy one, how to build in powerful emotional metaphors, and tricks to adding a literary voice. Create powerful stories by learning how to “Make a Scene!” Please bring a sample scene to class. (Class limited to 24.)

Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of more than 40 novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill, and Summerside Press. A five-time Christy-award finalist and a three-time RITA (Romance Writers of America) finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award and the ACFW Carol (Book of the Year) award. A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook, From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you! She is also the founder of, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

Why Aim for YA? And How to Hit the Mark If You Do (Youth Fiction)

Jill Williamson

There are times when teenagers are impossible to talk to. But these maturing individuals react to story with the same open-mindedness of other age groups. A tale that captures their attention also influences their character, changes the way they think, and allows them to examine truth in a safe atmosphere. What we write for YA is probably the most valuable human effort in terms of molding another’s perception. With the weight of its importance on their shoulders, authors need to have a clear vision of what they hope to accomplish. We will explore what attracts the YA reader, myths of the genre, practical steps to engage the reader, and how to preach without preaching.

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming creator of kingdoms and the award-winning author of several young adult books including the Blood of Kings trilogy (for which she won two Christy awards in the fantasy category), Replication, the Mission League series, and the Safe Lands trilogy. She lives in Oregon with her youth-pastor husband, two children, and a whole lot of deer. She loves working with teenagers and giving writing workshops, and she blogs for teen writers at Visit her online at, where adventure comes to life.

Check Also

2014 Manuscript Submission

Manuscript Submission Guidelines for Registered Conferees Beginning June 1, registered conferees will be able to …