Bonnie S. Calhoun

Bonnie S. Calhoun is the Founder and Publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine . She is also the Owner and Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance which is the parent organization for the magazine.

In addition to her passion for spreading the word about Christian fiction, Bonnie is also an author of snarky suspense/mystery thrillers. Her novel Cooking The Books (A Sloane Templeton Story) will release from Abingdon Press in April 2012. 

Colorado Christian Writers Conference

CCWC is happy to offer 50 percent off the registration fee to a CFOM subscriber. Click on Scholarships at and e-mail your application no later than April 10.

Marlene Bagnull

Has anyone ever squelched your imagination?

Like most children, I enjoyed creating make-believe worlds and telling stories, but it was a practice my mother effectively squelched by her insistence that I tell the truth and nothing but the truth. It wasn’t until about twenty years ago when I read the last fifty pages of Nancy Rue’s novel Row This Boat Ashore by the light of my electric blanket control that I discovered the power of story to present truth in life-changing ways. (Why I risked ruining my eyesight reading by that dim light is another story!)

At the May 11–14 Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference, fiction writers will find a warm welcome, kindred spirits, and lots of opportunities to learn from and network with authors, editors, and agents.

“This past year my first novel, Triune, was e-published,” says Nils B. Ohman. “I never would have completed it without God’s leadership and the committed Christian authors, students, editors, and agents who took a personal interest in my writing and encouraged me to keep going.”

Through the four one-on-one, fifteen-minute appointments that each conferee receives, as well as the optional thirty-minute paid critiques with faculty members of their choice, things happen.

“I tried on my own to find a publisher for my first novel and had no success,” says Becca Anderson, author of The Gathering Place. “When I attended CCWC, I paid a few extra dollars for a special half-hour critique with an acquisitions editor. Marlene read the submitted pages and matched me with a great editor who liked the book and eventually gave me a contract for it. None of that would have happened without face-to-face contact at CCWC.”

Sandy Cathcart “I’ve been attending the Colorado Christian Writers Conference for over a decade,” writes conferee-now-faculty-member Sandy Cathcart. “In that time, I’ve seen many would-be authors become published and highly successful. One of the things I enjoy most is the opportunity to take part in a specialized clinic. I’ve gleaned a year’s worth of knowledge out of each six-hour fiction intensive in which I’ve participated and have made lifelong friends. Each clinic is limited to six to eight writers. We learn through both the personal critique of the instructor and reading one another’s submissions. This year, Marlene is offering four clinics, one of which is led by Jeff Gerke for not-yet-published novelists. I expect to see several of those novelists published in the near future!”

Sue Brower, Executive Editor for Fiction at Zondervan, is offering aSue Brower Fiction Intensive for Advanced Novelists. Applications for both Sue and Jeff’s clinic are due by April 9th. (

Those not participating in a clinic choose six hour-long workshops from the forty-two workshops offered. Dave Lambert, author of the fiction curriculum for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, will be teaching “Emotion vs. Sentimentality” and “Creating a Story Dave LambertWorld.” Just a few of the other workshops offered include “The Controversy of Voice,” “Unblocking Writer’s Block,” “Author/Editor Collaboration,” and “Adapting Your Novel into a Hit Screenplay.”

“I like the well-structured schedule that has a variety of workshops to choose from,” says teenager Jessica Agius, who has attended several years. “It helps me dig deeper, and it poses questions that I hadn’t thought about before. Although it is mainly adults, everyone is very kind and welcoming. They don’t talk down to me but are willing to discuss my work in progress and give me tips on writing, since they have more experience. Last year, I even had two publishers interested in the story I was writing. Overall, CCWC is a welcoming, family-friendly environment that encourages young writers to go after their dreams.”

Each year a growing number of teens attend the entire conferenceCaleb Breakey as well as Teens Write on Saturday. Caleb Breakey, whose Website for teen writers, reaped 50,000 hits in its first hundred days of existence, is one of six instructors for this year’s expanded Teens Write.

For those who feel called to write for children and teens, author/producer Bill Myers is teaching a six-hour continuing session on “Impacting Kids and Teens through Story.” Bill’s works for adults and children such as McGee and Me and his most recent, The God Bill MyersHater, have won over sixty national and international awards including the C.S. Lewis Honor Award. Bill will take an extensive look at plot, character, scene structure, dialogue, comedy, trends, and age relevance.

“Trends in Christian Publishing” will be discussed in depth by Dave Lambert in the “Advanced Writers Only!” Thursday morning continuing session.Greg Johnson Thursday afternoon he will address “Is CBA Becoming Less Uptight since The Shack?” Friday morning Linda Waterman will focus on “Developing a Personal Marketing Strategy,” and Friday afternoon literary agent Greg Johnson will talk about “Understanding the

NEW Persistence.” Cindy Sproles and Eddie Jones will teach theEddie Jones last session Saturday, “Amazing Marketing Results for Little or No Cindy Sproles Money.”

“The Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference is without a doubt the only reason I am a published novelist today,” says Conlan Brown, author of The Firstborn and The Overseer. “It was there that I learned the needs of the industry, made the networking connections needed to thrive, and discovered what would be expected of me once my work was in print. For me, CCWC was the single most importantConlan Brown step in the journey to publication.”

Another conferee, Dave Rhoades, says, “CCWC for me over the years has been a peaceful, safe environment where the craft of writing is taken seriously, and I have always been challenged by other faculty members to produce the best and most creative stories not only for the pleasure of the reader but to further the kingdom of God. I enjoy the camaraderieDave Rhoades around mealtime and the serenity of Estes Park, and to steal away and breathe fresh air and do what we do best: write. My first novel, Altar, was released on Amazon about seven months ago and has been doing well and getting favorable reviews.”

Yet another learning opportunity is Jeannette Windle’s continuing session, “Focus on Fiction.” Jeannette is an award-winning author and author representative for Kregel Publications. You’ll learn how to build a strongJeanette Windle foundation for your story. Add flesh and soul to the bare bones of your characters, interweave plot line, develop realistic conflict and dialogue, and effectively use other story elements.

“Another thing I’ve seen at the Colorado Conference is Marlene’s amazing insight to be on the cutting edge of the publishing industry,” says Sandy Cathcart. “Last year she took a chance and offered The Lightbox Method as a continuing session. The method was developed and led by John Wiuff and myself in Southern Oregon to rave reviews. At last year’s conference we started out with a small class and ended up with three times as many students by the third session . . . all extremely happy that they attended!

“The Lightbox Method is an entirely brand-new visual process of unlocking creative plot development while developing purpose-driven narrative and restoring passion in the writer’s life. It is a three-step method to writing fiction (and nonfiction narrative) that rediscovers the ancient approach to storytelling that is both analytical and intuitive. It takes a look at how stories are presented and how those stories fit into the biblical story. It explores the difference between writing from wounds or from scars and invites discussion as to why that difference is important.

The Lightbox Method is used to:

• organize thoughts
• brainstorm creative ideas
• develop plot
• add depth to the narrative
• ensure a take-away point
• enrich character development
• avoid writer’s block
• restore story foundation and continuity

“It’s about bringing deeper meaning into the work and lives of authors through therapy that penetrates into writing skills, and it’s about taking care of our souls while we develop purpose-driven narrative and overcome writers’ block. Because of its diverse nature, The Lightbox Method holds value for published and unpublished writers of all levels who wish to write books that make a difference in reader’s lives. For a sample, check out, but please keep in mind that the sample will not be very helpful if you haven’t yet attended the class.”

Set in the breath-taking Colorado Rockies, God’s presence and creative power is very real. He has provided an outstanding faculty, and I have no doubt many publishable stories will emerge from this year’s CCWC.

“Some people think writing fiction is easy because ‘it’s just making up things,’” says Sue Cameron. “But that’s a fairy tale. Fiction writing is not easy but it’s not impossible. You can’t even imagine how the classes I’ve taken at CCWC have helped me improve my storytelling and left me happy, ever after.”

In addition to directing the Colorado and Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, Marlene Bagnull has served on the faculty of over seventy conferences and taught over fifty one- and two-day writing seminars around the country. She is the compiler/editor of three books and author of five books, including Write His Answer—A Bible Study for Christian Writers. She offers fiction and nonfiction At-Home Writing Workshops, a correspondence study program. Marlene also helps writers self-publish affordably yet professionally through Ampelos Press. Visit to learn more.

CCWC is happy to offer 50 percent off the registration fee to a CFOM subscriber. Click on Scholarships at and e-mail your application no later than April 10.