by Lindy Jacobs, OCW Summer Conference Director
“What a good conference. Life changing.” ~ Cheryl Colwell
Our many prayers of the last year were answered as more than 205 writers, staff, and faculty gathered to worship, study, and fellowship at the OCW Summer Conference in Portland, August 4–7. One-third of our conferees were first-time attendees, and conferees came from all across the country. Our numbers grew to almost 250 during the Wednesday evening Cascade Awards.
Tuesday lunch keynoter Chad Allen, Senior Editor at Baker Books, encouraged the audience to stay motivated and keep moving on the road to publication. He suggested taking concrete steps for taking action, setting a timeline to reach our goals.Keynoter Allen Arnold reminded us that God called us to create for the purpose of relationship first. At the end of what Allen calls the “Staying Psalm” (Psalm 27 msg), David says, “Stay with God” (verse 14). It’s easy to forget the gift and try to go it alone and ask God to bless our efforts afterwards. The result is we lose heart and become overwhelmed. Allen drew on his experience as publisher where he saw many authors burn out after a book or two. They didn’t go into it with God, and they hit a dead end. Without God, our stories don’t have life, don’t have eternity. Rather than being independent, ask to be in dependence. “Stay with God. Be strong.”
In the closing keynote, author Dan Walsh said all three parts of Psalm 27:14 are important, but one is harder than the others. Staying with God doesn’t come naturally for us. Like sheep, straying is more natural for us. Like the eagle in Isaiah 40:31, who waits for the current that will surely come and then stretches out its wings to glide effortlessly, we’ll get more done in the hours with God than we could ever get done in our own effort. Dan stressed he wasn’t saying all the craft things taught during conference aren’t important. They are, but they are not more important than the first things. Our relationship with God means more.
As always, the emphasis was on teaching, and many commented on the great choices from coaching classes to afternoon workshops and editor/agent panels to late-evening nite owls. The writing center was a hive of activity as editors, agents, and mentors met with conferees, enjoying a view of the beautiful Columbia River.
We heard many compliments from editors, agents, and pro writers about the quality of writing they reviewed. By the end of the conference, many conferees were invited to submit proposals and full manuscripts. A fun surprise came Wednesday evening when Ashberry Lane Publishing awarded book contracts to authors Susan Maas and Sam Hall.
In 2015 we will return to the beautiful Red Lion on the River, August 10–13. Keynoters will be Ed Underwood, senior pastor of the historic Church of the Open Door in Southern California and the author of When God Breaks Your Heart, Reborn to Be Wild, and his latest, The Trail, and Jane Kirkpatrick, New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of more than 30 books. Our theme will be, “Being Salt and Light” based on Matthew 6:13–16, “You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world” (niv). Watch our websit for details about faculty, registration, and the 2015 Cascade Writing Contest as plans for the conference are made.