Continuing Sessions 2022


Five & a half hours each
of in-depth teaching!

Continuing Sessions meet five times.
Thursday: 10:15-11:30 and 4:45-5:45
Friday: 10:45-11:45 and 4:45-5:45
Saturday: 1:00 – 2:15

Choose one for the entire conference.


1 – Screenwriting

Brian Bird
Film & Television Writer and Producer

As a 35-year veteran of the Hollywood film and television business, Brian’s mission as a writer, producer, and media professional is to create high-caliber life-affirming redemptive true stories and uplifting entertainment projects. He has written or produced two dozen films including The Case for Christ; Beverly Lewis' Trilogy, The Reckoning, The Confession, and The Shunning; and Francine Rivers' The Last Sin Eater. Brian also served as co-executive producer and writer on five seasons of the series Touched by an Angel. He is the executive producer and co-creator of the Hallmark Channel original series, When Calls the Heart, now in its 9th season, and its spin off series, When Hope Calls. He is also the co-author of When God Calls the Heart: Devotions from Hope Valley. 

Soup-to-nuts advice for authors adapting their own stories into screenplays. The necessary ingredients for creating a compelling Act One. Plot or Character . . . which comes first? The answer is . . . YES! The essential toolbox of screenwriter superpowers and truths of the trade no screenwriter can succeed without. The 12 stages of the Hero’s Journey behind every great movie and the Mythic Orchestra behind the greatest movie characters of all time. The decade long odyssey and lessons learned behind the hit television show and adaptation of best-selling author Jeanette Oakes’ beloved book series, When Calls the Heart.

2 – Writing (& Selling!) Personal Experience Stories

B.J. Taylor

Author & Freelance Writer
Represents Guideposts, Angels on Earth,
Mysterious Ways
, and All Creatures

Ever thump a watermelon to tell if it’s ripe or stick your fingernail into the stem end of a cantaloupe to see if it’s soft inside? It’s hard to tell by a smack or scratch, but it does give you a clue. Thus, we have a few clues into B.J.

B.J. first began writing in grade school, with English as her favorite subject and spelling bees her specialty. A personal diary was her journal, hidden under her mattress during her teenage years. Her penned thoughts filled numerous notepads (which she still has in a box in the garage). She admits a lot of choices are scary at first, like signing up for a writing class, joining a writers group, or submitting a novel to an agent for consideration. She plunged into the deep blue sea, took a chance with her writing, and has been blessed abundantly.

A lover of true, personal experience stories, B.J. cut her teeth on a multitude of submissions to numerous markets. With publication success garnered in newspapers, magazines, and anthology collections like Chicken Soup for the Soul, along with winning the Guideposts Writers Workshop contest in 2004, B.J. has done a lot of nonfiction writing. She continues to write personal experience stories and is also working on her second novel that is based on a true story. She loves character development, primary plot and subplots, timing and tempo, and strives to deliver true emotion to her writing as she did in her memoir, Charlie Bear: What a Headstrong Rescue Dog Taught Me about Life, Love, and Second Chances.

An award-winning author and popular speaker at conferences around the country, B.J. has been a published writer for twenty-five years with credits ranging from newspaper articles for no pay, to magazine markets that pay quite well. She has sold 40 stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul; two dozen stories to Guideposts and Angels on Earth; numerous articles to Writer’s Digest, Romantic Homes, Victorian Homes, John Gray’s Mars and Venus in Love, and many other publications along the way. B.J. represents the following magazines: Guideposts, Angels on Earth, Mysterious Ways, and All Creatures. She looks forward to talking with you about your stories for those magazines as well as other nonfiction markets. B.J. wrote a book to help writers titled, Writing True Stories: Using the Winning Formula P MS to a T.

Now that B.J. is retired from the business she and her husband ran for twenty-three years, she lives in Southern California half the year and in Northern Idaho the other half. She enjoys walking her scruffy dog Charlie Bear, golfing, aqua classes, traveling, and helping writers to reach their goals.

Want to make money with your writing? Then this class is for you. Interactive sessions will cover the following (in no particular order):

1. Your Journey to Publication – How to Get Where You Want to Go.

2. Writing Personal Experience Short Stories That Sell (learn B.J.’s easy formula for writing great hooks, riveting dialog, satisfying endings).

3. Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul.

4. Writing for the Guideposts family of magazines and how to submit to the Guideposts Writers Workshop contest.

5. Writing Book Length Stories (memoir, self-help, and a secret one).

6. There will be handouts and a little bit of volunteer homework.Will you be the one to help the class learn?

3 – From Idea to Manuscript to Masterpiece

Sharon Norris Elliott

Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher
Literary Agent
Founder/CEO, Life That Matters Ministries 
and AuthorizeMe®

“Live significantly!” That’s the inspiring message of Sharon Norris Elliott, award-winning author, popular speaker, astute Bible teacher, and founder/CEO of Life That Matters Ministries and AuthorizeMe®. She encourages everyone who will listen to live a life that matters. Some of her 12 published titles include:

A Woman God Can Bless
366 Glimpses of God: Getting to Know the God Who Knows You
Why I Get into Trouble
(the first title of her 7-book children’s series)
Boomerangs to Arrows: A Godly Guide for Launching Young Adult Children
Power Suit: the Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame

Sharon is amazed at how God’s goodness has brought her from being “Straight Outta Compton” to standing before great people and audiences. Dedicated to teaching and learning, she is a cum laude college graduate (Biola University), holder of an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree, and member of several prestigious organizations (ACE, AWSA, SCBWI). Sharon is also a religious broadcaster hosting her own show, Life That Matters with Sharon Norris Elliott, and guest hosting a women’s roundtable show, A View from the Upper Room, on The Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (, and the Christian Women’s Word Network ( Both shows also available on Facebook Live, Spotify, and several other platforms.

Under the Life That Matters Ministries umbrella, are her two companies. Milk & Honey Life Retreats rival any other girls’ getaway for both fun and faith enhancement. Through her AuthorizeMe® Consulting, Coaching, and Editing Firm, Sharon edits others’ work, mentors up-and-coming writers and speakers, coaches writers as they draft their manuscripts, and conducts hands-on seminars personally assisting attendees toward their publishing goals. The latest exciting growth of her AuthorizeMe® brand includes her new move to now function as a literary agent.

Sharon is retired from her esteemed 35-year teaching career and now focuses full time on her writing, editing, agenting, and broadcasting. She and her husband James serve at Christ Second Baptist Church in Long Beach, CA, where Sharon is an assistant minister. They enjoy their empty nest, traveling, and visiting their children and grandchildren.

You have held this book idea in your heart and mind long enough. It’s time to get it out of your brain and down onto paper. But you want to do more than simply write it; you want it to touch the souls of your audience, and you want it to be really good. This muli-part workshop helps develop your thinking and writing to reach toward that goal. Learn to think like an acquisitions editor and publisher as you write the book, to capture the attention and soul of your reader, and to organize your thoughts so they flow beautifully on the page. Taught by literary agent and multi-published author Sharon Norris Elliott, this session will position you to be a best-selling published author yourself. 

4 – The Successful Author of Nonfiction

Dan Balow

Agent, Steve Laube Literary Agency

Dan started in Christian publishing in 1983 and over the years has been involved in the business side of the industry in marketing, sales, foreign and domestic rights management, audiobooks, digital publishing, and acquisitions.

A significant amount of his experience was with Tyndale House Publishers from the early 90’s to the mid-2000’s. While there, Dan developed a wide-ranging perspective on the industry, taken from involvement with hundreds of authors, thousands of books, and a love for the business.

Dan served on the board of the Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association, the trade association for Christian publishers in the U.S. and was board chairman of the Global Publishers Alliance, a group of U.S.-based publishing executives involved in mentoring Christian publishers in other countries. He was an original member of the advisory board of the Christy Awards (now part of ECPA) and involved in training and mentoring Christian publishers through Media Associates International (

Dan is a graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in Communications. He has been married to Carol for 40+ years. They live in Wheaton, Illinois, and have four grown children and five granddaughters.

Sitting down and writing a book is not the first thing you should do. The successful nonfiction author will start in a different place. Time is a precious thing. If you skip steps along the way in an effort to get your book written and published and ignore those things that give the book a purpose and platform, you are probably wasting your time. Dan will present practical steps to developing your platform, your personal ministry, and your relationship with your readers—all the things that make for a successful author of nonfiction except for the writing. 

5 – Building Rock-Solid Fiction

Tim Shoemaker
Author, Speaker

Tim is the author of 17 books and a popular speaker at conferences and schools around the country. Over 25 years working with youth has helped him relate to his reading and listening audience in a unique way. He is a regular contributor to Focus on the Family Clubhouse and Clubhouse JR. magazines.

His contemporary suspense, Code of Silence, was named in the “Top Ten Crime Novels for Youth” by Booklist. Tim loves writing fiction! Easy Target and Escape From the Everglades (Focus on the Family, 2021) are his newest releases. Every Hidden Thing, (also Focus on the Family) is scheduled to release early in 2022.

Tim’s energetic style of teaching helps make even difficult writing topics clear. He is all about encouraging and equipping writers to do what they do—better.   

A tall building needs a strong base. If you want your book to rise above the rest, you’ll need a rock-solid foundation. Learn essentials for building a better book—or strengthening the one you’ve already written. We’ll look at plotting, deepening your point-of-view, when to show—and when to tell, creating stronger scenes, and writing better dialogue. You’ll learn what’s needed for powerful openings that draw a reader in and how to avoid “hokey” Christian fiction. We’ll cover insights to getting published that are often overlooked . . . and more. Tim will share tips and secrets to writing fiction that will stand tall and strong in the marketplace.


6 – The Short Road to Publication: Writing Articles and Devotions

Karen Whiting

Writing/Marketing Coach

Karen’s creative juices are always flowing and spill over into her books and hundreds of articles. She loves playing with children and has five children and one dozen grandchildren. She was a contributing writer for Focus on the Family's Focus on Your Child magazines. She also writes regularly for three other publications.

One outlet for Karen’s creativity is in her passion to connect activities and fun to spiritual insights. She says, “It helped my children know that God is involved with all aspects of life. I weave that in my books, such as connecting crafts for tweens with virtues of Biblical women in my God's Girls series and revealing true accounts of how God worked in the lives of military families.”

Karen understands the hearts of families who keep being uprooted as her family moved many times, while her husband, Jim, spent twenty-two years in the Coast Guard. She now lives on the east coast of Florida.

In addition to writing, Karen is  speaker and often a guest on radio. She has traveled to Malaysia, China, and Russia to speak and minister to families and children. She had the adventure of swimming in the Black Sea and helping children to make puppets. She says, “I don't speak Russian or  any Chinese dialect, and they didn't know English, but puppetry is a language of the heart and we connected. Through a translator I helped people who minister to families to give them tools to use to help strengthen family communication skills, manage time, and treasure one another.”

“It's amazing to know my words and thoughts have touched people so far away. I majored in math in college, so I never expected to write. I loved raising my five children and people kept encouraging me to share from the wealth of experiences I created for my family. I prayed about writing and God actually gave me a vision. Then, within hours, I received a painting of the vision and knew God had called me to write. I'm thankful that God has used me to help others and await his plans for the future!”

Devotions can be the easiest pieces to sell. Articles pitched well can be widely read and help build a platform and your authority to write on a topic. Both help you write tight and stay focused. Topics in the classes will cover:

7 – Mastering Marketing

Tamara Clymer

Publisher, CrossRiver Media Group


Tamara (or Tami as her friends call her) used to work in television and newspaper newsrooms as a reporter and photographer. Then she turned in her camera and keyboard for a life publishing Christian books . . . and she hasn’t looked back.

Born and raised in the Midwest, Tamara earned a journalism degree from Kansas State University in the early 90s. Soon after, she started working in T.V. and newspaper newsrooms, covering everything from local school board meetings to terrorist attacks. In the process, she realized God was calling her to do more with her writing - something with an eternal impact.

In 2010, she founded CrossRiver Media Group, a Christian publishing company that helps women build a battle-ready faith. CrossRiver has become a tiny powerhouse in the Christian publishing world. It has produced several award-winning books including Christian Small Publishers Books of the Year and SELAH Award winners. Tamara encourages her authors to use the words God has given them for His glory, and she teaches writers at Christian writers’ conferences across the country to do the same.

Tami and her high school sweetheart, Shad, have been married for more than 30 years. They live in western Kansas with their four kids, two dogs, and a grumpy cat who, ironically, is named Grace. Tamara loves her husband and kids dearly, but she also loves hot chocolate, camping, and reading anything she can get her hands on.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The same goes for marketing. When you look at the big picture, it looks scary… newsletters, social media posts, building a platform, podcasts, guest blogging, book signings… It feels like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. But Tamara says it doesn’t have to be scary at all. You just need to take it one a little chunk at a time. This continuing session will take the overwhelm out of marketing by teaching you . . .

8 – Your Writing Life - Dig Deep, Build High:
      Set a Solid Foundation & Fan the Flames of Your Passion!

Ava Pennington

Author, Bible Teacher
Writing Coach, Freelance Editor

Ava has a heart for God’s Word and God’s people. For 16 years she has taught an interdenominational, weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of (presently) 175 women. Ava is passionate about encouraging writers to use their gifts for His glory. She began writing for publication after a 20+ year career as a corporate executive in NYC. As she transitioned to writing and teaching, she learned, first-hand, the importance of establishing a solid foundation as she pursued writing. Her publication credits include articles in numerous magazines as well as short stories in 30+ anthologies. Her one-year devotional, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is being released by Revell Books this year in a gift book edition that includes content from the original devotional. For more information about Ava’s books, speaking, and writers’ services, visit her website.

The taller the building, the deeper the foundation. You may have just begun your writing journey. Or you may be multi-published, but you’re feeling stuck. Either way, what are you building on?

Learning the technical skills to write in our chosen genre is important. But we won’t finish well if we don’t have the foundation in place to fulfill God’s call on our life.

This continuing class will include:

Regardless of where you are in your writing journey, this class will serve as a mini-retreat for you to recharge, refocus, reconnect, and rejoice in what God is doing in and through you and your writing!



How I love the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Though I've taught at the conference for  well over a decade, I'm still one of its earnest students. Every year I take home loads of inspiration, encouragement, and instruction. If it weren't for what I've learned at CCWC, I would not be the author of over 35 books today. I hope to be involved for at least another decade because I've got more to learn—and write!

Linda Evans Shepherd