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My Experience at the OCW Summer Conference

by Kellyn Roth |
September 15, 2018

Hello all! Now, you remember back towards the end of August, I attended the Oregon Christian Writer’s 2018 summer conference. Now, quite a few people were like, “TELL ME ALL ABOUT IT!”

Because I didn’t get to go the whole time*, I thought, “Eh, I’ll not talk about it; didn’t get the whole experience, y’know.” BUT I forgot many of you haven’t been to a writer’s conference, and it was all new to me, too, so why not share about it?

So, if you’ve been to a writer’s conference, you’ll have to read this post just because you love me. (No, there are no excuses for not reading this post. Don’t be a silly snuggleuffigus.)

*I’ve gone into more detail elsewhere, but basically my grandpa had a stroke/brain aneurism/some scary thing, and I rushed home to be with the fam!

Now, I think the best way to tell this is by just … starting at the beginning!

Oh, right, when you left for the conference, say you.

NO. I mean ages before that. Hold your horses, Jack.

Deciding to Go to Le Conference

Basically, I started really wanted to attend a conference last year, and this need arose and became greater in February. I’d hoped to attend a writer’s retreat with some friends, but it didn’t work out, and I was super disappointed.

THEN the lovely Ivy Rose sent me a message. I refuse to scroll back six months or so in our chat thread to get a quote, but basically she was like, “HEY, OCW has a conference in August, wanna come? You can hitch a ride with me!”*

Then I was like, “HECK YEAH! Wait, lemme ask my parents …”

And, after loads of negotiating,** I decided to go and signed up!

*I’m sure she didn’t say it anything like that, but whatevs.

**Getting away from my family is like getting out of a hostage situation. (translation: they love me and don’t want be to be murdered or anything)

Pre-Conference Prep

If you ever go to a conference, be sure to prepare ahead of time! I’m so grateful I did, or I really would’ve been lost.

Here are some things I did:

  1. Researched about conferences.

    1. I’m a member of YWW, and there are some great resources on there for first-time conference attendees!
    2. I did some Googling and read blog posts by other writer’s conference knowledgeable people, too.
  2. Talked to some conference pros.

    1. Other than Ivy, who was super sweet and helpful, I also talked to Kara Swanson, Brett Harris, and other folks on YDubs.
    2. Even if you don’t have the fantastic resource that is YWW, though, you can totally talk to some conference-wise folks; they’re not hard to find.
  3. Actually sent in a “mini submission” for Once a Stratton!

    1. A bit more on that later.
    2. But I was so proud of myself for meeting the deadline.

But mostly I just waited … and waited … and WAITED for August 20th!

And Then It Was Time

At 1-ish on Monday the 20th, Ivy Rose pulled up in her family’s van. (SQUEEE!) And I got to meet this fantastic lady!

I admit I was a little nervous because I’m very awkward until I get to know someone, and this manifests as stone-faced aloofness, or so I’m told, and I didn’t want Ivy to think I hate her. 😛

So I’m thinking, “Okay, Kell … try super hard to be nice. And not look like you’re biting the bullet even being in the room with her.”  (I don’t show a lot outwardly, lol.) (Blessing and a curse!)

BUT … it all went well. She met my parents, and they seemed to decide she wasn’t a serial killer.* And, basically, Ivy was the sweetest soul, and I was so glad I got to meet her!

*There was room for doubt before they met her.

So then we started the long drive to Portland, and it flew by because we were talking the whole time about writing and genres and blogging and vlogging and weird town names and basically everything you can imagine.

(At one time we got totally distracted and talked for like 10 minutes about colors of railroad cards.) (Also, it took me way too long to remember how to get on the freeway in my own town because we went around the back way.) (Help, I cannot direction.)

AND … at last … we arrived at the conference center! Hoorah!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, eyeglasses and closeup

Le Conference: Day 1

So we arrived around four-ish, I think. I can’t remember exactly. And we got out of the van, walked into the big building, and got our little packets.

Mine had a couple things in it: name-tag, a mentor appointment, a little survey I never filled out (& it wouldn’t be fair for me to fill it out, really, since I was just there two days).

We also grabbed a booklet that had schedules, lists of editors and agents and all the other people involved, information about different classes, etc. Quite helpful!

We sat through a newcomer welcome speech and mostly just explored and chilled until dinner. At dinner, we sat at the newcomer table (even though Ivy had been there before) and talked some. We ended up leaving early that night and skipping the keynote because we were exhausted.

Highlight: we talked to a couple writers who were super impressed that Ivy and I were published authors at such tender ages! 😉 Always fun to meet people who are excited for you.

We spent the night with some family friends of Ivy’s who were the best. 🙂 Super nice and kind.

Day 2, Part 1

We arrived at the conference the next morning, caught the tail-end of devotions (haha), and then Ivy and I parted ways, each to our own workshop.

You see, every morning throughout the conference there are these workshops that are about three hours long? Anyway, they go until just before lunch.

Now, at first, I was like, “I can’t believe I separated from my buddy. I should’ve gone to the same workshop as her!” But, though I love hanging with friends, I probably function better as a loner anyway, so this worked well for me.

It was a super amazing workshop, and though I only got the first day, I could tell it was great , and I learned so much just from those three hours! (Also, Taylor Bennett was taking the same workshop, so I got to meet her.)

After that, I had lunch. I sat at the same table as Rebecca DeMarino (as well as other authors but she was the one I talked most to). And, being the muddle-brain that I am, I didn’t recognize her! But we did talk about her grandchildren and children and writing.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, eyeglasses, stripes and indoor

Afterwards I walked out into the bookstore, saw her series, and grabbed a business card. I ended up grabbing an ebook copy of her first book and read it in a couple days. Super good!

Anyway, in the afternoon at this conference there were hour-long classes – I think either two or three a day, though I cannot remember for the life of me. I just went to part of the first one before I snuck out to have my mentor appointment with Karen Barnett.

My Mentor Appointment

I had no idea what to expect going into my mentor appointment, but I was rather excited. I sat down across from Karen, whose books I knew of (they look fantastic) but who I didn’t know a ton about.

But it ended up being super chill and laid-back. We talked about favorite books and whatnot some, but she also read my one-sheet for Once a Stratton. She seemed to think I should try submitting the novel, which made me a lot more confident.

Here are a couple things I picked up from the appointment:

  1. There is a market for Once a Stratton.
    1. I’d worried about that.
  2. I stand a chance at getting published if I just put effort into it.
    1. Hard to remember.
  3. Professional traditionally published authors are nice and relatable.
    1. Also hard to remember, but hey!!
  4. Karen Barnett has such gorgeous blue eyes!
    1. I don’t know why that stood out to me, but it’s true! 😂😝

But anyway, it was just great for me to do that and shake some of the nerves out.

And then …

I went back to catch the tail-end of the class I’d started. Afterwards, I called my mom back (checked my phone for the first time in a bit, lol).

And of course y’all know my grandpa had had a stroke, I needed to come home, etc. My mom gave me the option to stay as there was nothing I could do, etc., but I don’t think that would make me a very good person, now, would it! What kind of granddaughter doesn’t come home when her grandpa is sick?

So, I got off the phone with my mom and was a little emotional. Texted Ivy and told her my dad was coming to pick me up, etc. I cried in front of Rebecca DeMarino, who got me tissues. So that was … interesting.

Then I headed home. And that was my conference experience!

A couple random things


I texted my best friend Bailey in the car and went, “I cried in front of Rebecca DeMarino.”

Bailey: Who’s that?

Me: Revell author.

Bailey: Oh. Were you really that excited to meet her?

Me: LOL, no, because my grandpa’s sick.

Bailey: Ohhhh, that makes much more sense!

Though if I were to meet Jane Austen, I might cry. Just sayin’. 😉


The antagonist of It’s a Wonderful Life is George Bailey.


Miscellaneous Info

I fully intend to do a Dares post this month, but have … forgotten. I’ve been crazy busy!

I haven’t sent out my newsletter, either. *facepalm* And I actually have to say stuff this time!

I neeeeeeddddd to be editing Beyond Her Calling, but lack the motivation. Oops? Better get on that.

And … that’s about it!


~Kellyn Roth~

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Have you ever been to a writer’s conference? Does it sound like something you’d be interested in (based on my … very limited experience)? Isn’t Ivy the best? What do you think about crying in front of big-publishing-house authors? 😛 Also, please don’t tell Karen Barnett I made a creepy comment about her eye-color … I don’t know why I notice these things. #aestheticallyminded

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20 Responses

  1. So for writing conferences, do you just have to sign up? Or do you have to pay? Are they all over the world? (since if I ever go to one, I would love for it to be close by… 😂) And these can help you get a better idea of the publishing industry and stuff? (obviously I am very vague on what the details for these things are…)

    1. Haha! Yep, you have to sign up … I had to sign up for this one six months in advance to get a discount. Yes, you have to pay – they’re very $$$, but honestly, worth it. And yep, they definitely can! You can also meet with agents, editors, and others who have traveled this path before, which is great! 😛

  2. I’m glad you had a good time, even if you had to leave early. I had a nice chat with Rebecca DeMarino later and she mentioned this great writer she’d met and showed me the picture you took together. And I was all, “I just had a fantastic mentoring meeting with her!” You were definitely a highlight for both of us. 🙂

  3. It was verycnice to meet you at the conference – I was so impressed with what you’ve accomplished! I’m so glad your grandfather is doing well. I can tell you are a treasure to him and he to you❤️ I hope you can come back to OCW next year! You are right – Karen Barnett has beautiful blue eyes and she is full of good encouragement and wonderful advice❤️ Your post brought a huge smile to my face – thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much! 😀 My grandpa is definitely the best. <3 He's very wise and very funny and just a very good man. 🙂

      I'm hoping I can come to OCW next year, too! It was definitely a learning experience, but I'm hoping to come back and learn more and meet more people ... it was fantastic.

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