Fall 2017


Saturday, October 21, 2017 ~ 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m

“Writing to Capture Readers”

“For all the people were hanging on to every word He said” (Luke 19:48 nasb)

Rolling Hills Community Church ~ 3550 SW Borland Rd~ Tualatin, Oregon 97062

Online Registration now CLOSED 

            please register at the door


(Scroll Below For Workshop Descriptions)

8:30–9:00         Registration, Continental Breakfast, Bookstore


9:00–9:40         Piano Prelude: Bob Williams

                            Welcome and Introductions: President Marilyn Rhoads

                             Devotional: John Avery


9:40–10:30        General Session I: Jeff Gerke – “The Spiritual Roadblocks to Writing”


10:30–10:50      Morning Break: Refreshments and time to visit the bookstore


10:50–11:40      General Session II: Jeff Gerke – “How to Self-Publish a Book in Print and E-Book”


11:40–12:30      OCW Business Meeting: Recognition of new members, election of two new officers, writing accomplishments, and introduction of workshop teachers


12:30–1:35        Lunch: Deli sandwich/salad buffet (will include gluten-free options) – $14.00 (must be ordered by October 14) – you are welcome to bring your own lunch and enjoy the fellowship around the tables during our extended lunch break


1:45–2:45 Workshops: Session 1 (Choose one)

All workshops suitable for all levels of experience

  1. Jeff Gerke: “The So-Called Rules of Fiction and How to Not Be Paralyzed by Them” (fiction)
  2. Jill Williamson: “What Every Character Needs” (teen fiction TEEN TRACK)
  3. Jennifer Anne F. Messing: “Heart-Songs: Expressing Life and Faith in Poetry” (poetry)
  4. Kendy Pearson: “Feature or Content or Books—Oh My!” (writing markets)


2:45–3:00         Break: Bookstore


3:00–4:00 Workshops: Session 2 (Choose one)

All workshops suitable for all levels of experience

1. Jeff Gerke: “Hack Your Reader’s Brain” (story structure)

2.Jill Williamson: “Secrets of a Great Plot” (teen fiction TEEN TRACK)

3.Julie McDonald Zander: “Personal History as a (Paying) Ministry” (memoir)

4.April McGowan: “My Book Is Published, Now What? Ten Essentials for a Successful Book Launch” (marketing) 


4:00–4:30         Dessert, Autograph Party, and Photo Session in the Bookstore


Registration fees

Registration is now closed, you may register at the door. 

$45 for members

$75 for nonmembers

$20 for those 20 & under (special pricing for this conference only TEEN TRACK)

Annual dues to join OCW:

$60 for those 61 and younger

$35 for those 62 and over

$35 for full-time students

$75 for two members of the same household or family


~Workshop Descriptions~



Jeff Gerke: “The So-Called Rules of Fiction and How to Not Be Paralyzed by Them” (fiction)

Fiction teachers like to come up with lists of 49 things to never do, 10 things to always do, and 365 rules to help you get published. The problem is that they don’t agree. How is a novelist supposed to remember, much less obey, all these rules? How should a novelist reconcile teachings that simply can’t be reconciled? Come hear Jeff make sense of it all and give you the one Great Commandment of Fiction, the one principle that will help you put all other fiction “rules” in their proper place.

Jeff Gerke
Jeff Gerke

Through his top-rated Udemy class, nationwide writers’ conferences, and freelance editing, Jeff Gerke (www.jeffgerke.com) has made a career of training novelists to do their best. Writer’s Digest has published five of his popular writing books, including Write Your Novel in a Month and The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction. Jeff is founder of Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. With his humor and encouraging manner, he empowers writers to write. Jeff lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and three children.


Jill Williamson: “What Every Character Needs” (teen fiction TEEN TRACK)

A great character can live in a reader’s mind forever. These are the kinds of characters we want in our books. In this class, we’ll go through a step-by-step process to help you create authentic characters that your readers will never forget. We’ll discuss character backstory, motivation, tags, archetypal roles, interactions with other characters, and tools to help you keep track of it all.

Jill Williamson
Jill Williamson

Jill Williamson (www.jillwilliamson.com) writes fantasy and science fiction for teens and adults. She is the author of 19 books, including her debut novel By Darkness Hid, which won several awards and was named a Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror novel of 2009 by VOYA magazine. She teaches writing at www.StoryworldFirst.com and at www.GoTeenWriters.com, which Writer’s Digest named one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers.” She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children.


Jennifer Anne F. Messing: “Heart-Songs: Expressing Life and Faith in Poetry” (poetry)

In this workshop, award-winning poet Jennifer Anne Messing will help writers explore what poems are and where they originate. She will offer ideas on how poets can find their unique voice and use journaling techniques to awaken and ignite their creativity and write touching, heart-stirring poems. The fundamentals of writing, editing, and marketing poetry will be covered. She’ll offer tips on finding lesser-known, but equally attractive, markets for publishing poetry.

Jennifer Anne F. Messing

Jennifer Anne F. Messing (www.JenniferAnneMessing.com) is an OCW past-president, multi-published author, poet, speaker, wife, and mother of three children. With a bachelor’s degree in Christian education and journalism, Jennifer Anne has more than 200 published works in 60 magazines, including: Bible Advocate, The Secret Place, Aglow, LIVE, and Christian Fiction Online. Her latest book, Everlasting Love, is a collection of short fiction and romantic poetry, and was a top finalist in three competitions last year.


Kendy Pearson: “Feature or Content or Books—Oh My!” (where to sell your writing)

What to write? The possibilities are endless. Is your goal to make money, build your platform, minister to others, or simply stretch your writing wings? If you need greater focus in your writing, this workshop will help define and explore the most common types of professional writing in both the general and Christian marketplace, discussing the pros and cons, income potential, and acquaint you with publishing terms. Most importantly, you’ll discover why your goals and purpose for writing should determine your direction.

Kendy Pearson

Kendy Pearson is a former high school teacher, part-time music instructor, worship leader, curriculum writer, and magazine columnist. More than 200 of her articles have appeared in ten publications and a Bethany House anthology. Since 2014, her books have earned two Cascade Awards, Cascade Finalist, three-time Genesis Finalist, and First Impressions Finalist. Let Kendy’s experiences and hard-won wisdom help you focus your writing and find the direction that suits your goals.



Jeff Gerke: “Hack Your Reader’s Brain” (story structure)

Best-selling fiction doesn’t happen because the writer gets all the so-called rules of fiction right. It’s not about avoiding gerunds or -ly adverbs or head-hopping. People read a book from beginning to end because they’re carried away, fully engaged, staying interested all the way through. In other words, they don’t get bored. How do we do that? Is there a way to tap into the mechanisms that engage a reader’s brain? Yes! Come hear the neuroscience of reader engagement and learn how to catch the attention of readers and keep them reading all the way to the end.


Jill Williamson: “Secrets of a Great Plot” (teen fiction TEEN TRACK)

What is a plot, anyway? What is its purpose? And what makes that three-act structure so successful? Are there other ways to create a strong story? In this class, we’ll discuss the secrets of a great plot, look at some alternative plot structures, and talk about the different ways to keep things moving when your story is too short, seems to have stalled, or is just plain boring.


Julie McDonald Zander: “Personal History as a (Paying) Ministry” (memoir)

Learn how to use your listening and writing skills as a personal historian. Just as biblical patriarchs passed on their stories to future generations, you can record the life stories of older adults, creating a cherished legacy for their family and friends. You’ll learn all the steps, from interviews to publication, to give your clients the joy of holding their own book of life stories, linking the generations, giving them assurance that their words will linger long after they’re gone. Not only can you earn an income, you’ll also gain from others’ experiences and wisdom, and hone your research skills for other writing projects.

Julie Zander

Julie McDonald Zander, co-chair of the OCW Cascade Writing Contest and former newsletter and summer conference notebook editor, worked two decades as a newspaper reporter and editor before launching her personal history business (Chapters of Life) in 1999. She has published more than 50 personal, company, community, and individual histories. In addition to running her self-publishing company, Julie has written a column once a week for the past decade for The Chronicle in Centralia, Washington. She and her husband, Larry, live in Toledo, Washington, where they’ve raised two children, Paul and Nora.


April McGowan: “My Book Is Published, Now What? Ten Essentials for a Successful Book Launch” (marketing) 

You’ve spent months writing, editing, and polishing your book. It’s about to go to print and arrive bright and shiny in your hands. What must you do to prepare for its arrival, and what steps can you take to successfully launch your book-baby into the world? Now, more than ever, authors are expected to be at the forefront in marketing their books, and April can help guide you through this marketing maze.

April McGowan

April is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope, courage, and inspiration. She has published three novels, Jasmine (nominated for the Carol Award debut novel), Macy, and Hold the Light. In 2014, April was named the OCW Writer of Promise. She has been a member of Oregon Christian Writers since 2006, a member of the Christian Authors’ Network, and American Christian Fiction Writers. April also serves as the OCW Publicity Coordinator.


Jeff Gerke
Jeff Gerke

Keynote Jeff Gerke is an award-winning editor, multi-published novelist, graphic artist and author of five craft 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 is a popular speaker and teacher at writing conferences

around the country. In 2008, he founded Marcher Lord Press, a small indie house which he sold after an award-winning 5-year run. 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. He lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and three children.