Thursday, April 21, 2016

OCCWC 2016, Part II: The People

Yes, this is my only conference-related pic.

I really should do this post last, because it's probably going to be the best one, but I can't wait and you can't stop me.

The people at the OCCWC were a blessing. What struck me over and over again during the weekend was how generous almost everyone at the conference was. Both the staff and the attendees were generous in sharing their wisdom, information, and opinions.

But even more striking than that, they were generous in listening. Veterans of the industry listened to the students, older writers to younger, editors to writers ... and vice versa on all of those.

That kind of generous listening made for really good conversations.

Yeah, but who was there?

Okay, with a few exceptions, I'm not going to name any of the attendees, because they weren't there in any official capacity and so they deserve to manage (or not) their public images however they please. But the pros were there officially, so let me tell you about a few that stood out to me (though, heavens! I am going to end up missing some very cool folks) ...

The Spec-Fic Folks

It's not a secret around here that I love sci-fi and fantasy. (Hey! go read my first pro-pubbed spec. fic. short story here. Seriously. I'll wait.) And at this conference, I got the chance to listen and talk to some Christians who are writing and publishing science fiction and fantasy in real life.

-Mike Duran - Mike is one of those talented folks who writes both novels and short stories. His blog is chock-a-block with great thoughts about the intersection of faith and fantasy. He was kind enough to answer my questions about what it was like to be a Christian writing in this space -- and he also engaged the whole table with a hilarious theory about why so many Christian fantasies seem to involve the Nephilim. This post on his blog is a good example of the kind of thinking he's engaged in.

-Paul Regnier - Paul is one of my two exceptions, but only because I came home, checked my Goodreads to-be-read list* and discovered, yep! he's on there. A little while before the conference, I'd gone on Enclave Publishing's site and marked down a few books that looked fun to me. Read that description. Doesn't a humorous space adventure sound like a fun way to kill a few hours? (Yes. The answer is: yes, it does.) Paul was a blast to talk to; I'm glad I got to meet him and I'm looking forward to reading his book.

-Ben Wolf - Ben is a writer and the founder of Splickety Publishing (which looks fantastic - I got to page through some of the issues at the conference bookstore and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna subscribe). He was generous with his time; I got to chat with him about flash fiction, and his Christian vampire novel is now on my to-be-read list (hey, now that I've read one, I've got to keep going, right?).

-Realm Makers - Okay, this is not a person, but a lot of people at this conference were talking about that conference. It's definitely an event I want to keep my eye on.

The Editors

-Kathy Ide - Our Fearless Leader! Kathy is the reason there was a conference at all, and she was such a gracious hostess. And she'd probably be the first to turn around at point at her volunteers, so I should mention: there was a stellar bunch of volunteers at the conference who worked hard to make everything happen and they were amazing. Thanks, guys!

-Jennifer Edwards - I had so much fun meeting Jennifer. We got to the conference early on Saturday morning and spent an hour drinking coffee and animatedly discussing our lives as editors at small Christian presses. (You can check out the press she works for here.)  Meeting someone else who does what I do is so rare. I loved, loved, loved talking (in real life!) to someone who is doing the same kind of work I do every day.

-Lindsay Franklin - Lindsay's another one who could go under "spec fic", but I mostly talked to her about editing. She was lovely to talk to, and you should go poke around her website, which is fantastic!

-Debbie Dillon - Debbie runs Joyful Kitchen and Christian Women's Voice Magazine.

-Susan Osborn - Susan's not just an editor, she also employs a bunch of editors! It was interesting to hear her speak about being both an editor and a small businesswoman.


-Eric Lorenzen - Eric could also go under "spec fic", but I put him here because we mostly chatted about self-publishing. He had some great info about all the different things that go into putting together a high quality self-published book (there's more to it than most people think).  

-Carol Alwood - Carol wasn't on staff, but I wanted to mention her because her website for church planters' wives looks like a neat resource.

Like I said: I'm still leaving out a ton of interesting people, but I hope that gives you a taste of what it was like to be there!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*My to-be-read list isn't in order according to which book I want to read first. It's in order of: 1) modern non-fic, 2) older non-fic, 3) modern fiction, 4) older fiction.  When I want a new book, I just skim the whole thing and pick one.  (Or five. Let's be honest: this is me. When I have I ever read just one book at a time?)

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