Friday, May 30, 2014

Welcome to The Colorado Christian Writers Conference

by Dina Sleiman

Over the years we've featured a number of writers conferences on this blog, particularly American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. But there are many smaller writers conferences that meet all over the country. Some of these are hidden jewels. So today I'd like to share with you about my experience at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.


Yep, it really looks like this!
The Colorado Christian Writers Conference shares a director and the "Write His Answer" theme with the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. While there are many similarities, the main difference is in the gorgeous Colorado Rocky setting. This conference is held at the Estes Park YMCA campus. The lodging is lovely and comfortable with a number of gracious amenities. The food is pretty decent for cafeteria style dining. And the entire complex is surrounded by a ring of awe-inspiring mountains, many of which are still snow-capped in May.

This conference itself costs about $350. The housing options vary significantly depending on your choice of lodge and number of roommates, and meals are included with most options. Total, expect to pay between $500 and $800.

Two issues to keep in mind with this conference. First, there is a decent bit of walking up and down hills involved. For many, this is a pro, but for those with mobility issues, it could be a con. And this can be further complicated by the high altitude. Second, the complex is about 90 minutes from the Denver airport. Although the cost is far less than many other conferences, be sure to include the shuttle fee to the Estes Park YMCA or car rental fee. You might want to stick around the final night for the hayride and cookout which I've heard displays the campus at its best, but be aware that this also costs an extra fee.

Conference Specialty

Make new friends in Colorado!
As I mentioned, Marlene Bagnull runs both the Colorado and Philadelphia conferences, and both reflect her unique spirit. If you like a casual, family style feel, these conferences were tailor made for you. Want to meet with that editor in jeans or shorts, no problem! They might just be wearing the same. Marlene has been running these conferences for several decades, and if you get a chance to meet her, you will be sure to get a wonderful dose of motherly love. Even if not, her warmth and sweet spirit permeate all of the general sessions. It might not feel as sharp and professional as some of the big conferences, but it makes up for that in other ways.

Perhaps the stand out quality of this conference is the attention to the spiritual side of both writing and living. While there is much writerly inspiration offered during the general sessions, attention is also given to building you as an individual and to important issues of our time. So you kind of get a writers conference/spiritual retreat two-for-one. I've also noticed that many of the workshops have a spiritual tone. Of course there are plenty of craft and business classes to choose from, but if you'd rather focus on hearing from God, on the heart, and on ministry, those options are available as well.


This conference covers a number of genres including fiction, nonfiction, journalism, devotions, etc... It even offers a Saturday tract for teenage writers. While the staff is divided between genres, this year's fiction staff was still top notch.

Allen Arnold - developed the fiction line for Thomas Nelson, received the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, and now works for Ransomed Hearts Ministry. This year he gave a keynote address and taught a continuing session on The Heart of a Storyteller (which was my personal highlight).
Tracie Peterson - author of 100 Christian novels, best-seller, and winner of many awards. Tracie offered a fiction practicum. You can't really beat that.
Not to mention: Tim Shoemaker, Tiffany Amber Stockton, Kimberly Woodhouse, Kim Vogel Sawyer, N. Paul Williams, Susan Baganz, Nancy Lohr, Nick Harrison, and yours truly, Dina Sleiman

You might not find as many editors and agents that represent fiction at this conference as you would at say ACFW. However, since the conference is only about a third of the size, you might actually increase your chances of meeting with the people that you want to talk to.

And of course, the variety of genres is great for an author with multiple interests or a new writer who hasn't yet found their niche.

Final Thoughts

So if you are looking for a conference well covered in concrete with obligatory elevator rides, climate control, gourmet meals, and three piece suits, this one is not for you. LOL. Of course the next conference is a year away, and you will want to consider the staff, agents, and editors who will be there. But, if you love nature and spirit and want your heart awakened, be sure to put this conference on your radar. For many attendees it is a yearly tradition not to be missed!


Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Check out her novels Dance from Deep Within, Dance of the Dandelion, and Love in Three-Quarter time. And please join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at


  1. Excellent review of the conference, Dina. Maybe NEXT year I can go!

    1. That would be awesome. I had breakfast with your friend, Marian.

    2. She's awesome. So glad the two of you met!

  2. Sounds like a wonderful conference! I'd like to attend a small conference next year. Was thinking Blue Ridge, but this one is closer.

  3. They are both great conferences. I love both for different reasons.

  4. This sounds absolutely Heaven-sent. I can think of nothing better than a writer's retreat and spiritual retreat all rolled into one. And the setting is perfect. - also Heaven-sent.

  5. I'm so glad you wrote about this, Dina. I've been curious! I'm intrigued and would like to attend.

  6. Maybe we should do an inky year in Colorado sometime. We could all share a cabin.

  7. you made me homesick for home. grew up in Colorado and hubby has mentioned if he ever would give up the ocean, Estes is where he'd like to migrate.

    1. You know, Deb, I always thought I would love living in Colorado. But I think it's actually a little too rugged for my taste long term. I must just be an East Coast girl at heart.


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