Northwest Christian Writers Renewal
May 19-21, 2022

Teaching faculty

Karen Ball  Best-Selling Author, Suspense, Romance Editor, Writing Coach, Host of From the Deep podcast

First thing to know about me: I've worked in publishing for a loooong time. I've headed up fiction for four publishing houses, been a freelance editor for over 30 years, been a published author since the 1990s, and was a literary agent with the amazing Steve Laube Agency. I absolutely LOVE working with words and writers. In fact, it was my authors who told me I should be writing--and when people like Francine Rivers, Angela Hunt, and Gil Morris tell you to write, you do it. In the last few years the amazing Erin Taylor Young and I have been doing the From the Deep podcast, where we encourage writers and do interviews with career writers who offer encouragement as well. (Check it out at In addition, I get to travel around the county speaking at Writers' conferences. So not only do I get to work with words, but I get to spend time with such amazing folks as Brandilyn Collins, Francine Rivers, Ginny Yttrup, Roseanna White, Kimberley Woodhouse, Erin Taylor Young, and a host of others.

James Scott Bell  Best-Selling, Award-Winning Author, Legal thrillers, Historical. Author of more than 20 books on writing. Speaker, Writing Coach

James Scott Bell is a winner of the International Thriller Writers Award and the author of the #1 bestseller for writers, Plot & Structure (Writer’s Digest Books). His thrillers include Romeo’s Rules, Romeo’s Way and Romeo’s Hammer (the Mike Romeo thriller series); Try Dying, Try Darkness and Try Fear (the Ty Buchanan legal thriller series); and stand-alones including Your Son Is Alive and Final Witness (which won the first Christy Award for Suspense). He served as the fiction columnist for Writer's Digest magazine and has written several popular writing books, including Just Write, Conflict & Suspense, and The Art of War for Writers (all from Writer’s Digest Books). He’s also published How to Write Dazzling Dialogue, Write Your Novel From the Middle, Super Structure, and How to Make a Living as a Writer. Links to all his writing books may be found HERE.

Jim has taught writing at Pepperdine University and at numerous writers conferences in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where he studied writing with Raymond Carver, and graduated with honors from the University of Southern California Law Center.

A former trial lawyer, Jim now writes and speaks full time. He appeared as an expert commentator on Good Morning America,CBS radio, and in Newsweek magazine during the O. J. Simpson murder trial. His book on search and seizure law is the leading authority in its field, used extensively by lawyers and judges throughout California every day. He lives in Los Angeles.

Melanie Dobson Award-Winning Author of more than twenty Historical Romance and Suspense novels. Speaker and Teacher

Writing historical and time-slip fiction is Melanie Dobson’s excuse to immerse herself into the past by reading old books, interviewing experts, and exploring fascinating places across the United States and Europe.

Melanie is the award-winning author of more than twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels. Five of her novels, Memories of GlassChateau of SecretsCatching the WindThe Silent Order and Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa, have received Carol Awards. Catching the Wind received the Inspirational Fiction Audie Award in 2018 and was nominated for a Christy Award in historical fiction. The Black Cloister, her novel about a dangerous cult, was named the ForeWord Religious Fiction Book of the Year.

Melanie enjoys teaching at writer’s events, conferences, and as an adjunct professor. She received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master’s degree in communication from Regent University. Prior to her writing career, she was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of Dobson Media Group.

Steven James  Award-Winning Author, Suspense, Psychological Thrillers Story Crafting Expert, Author of Story Trumps Structure, How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules Podcast host at The Story Blender

Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base. His latest novel, SYNAPSE, a near-future thriller, was a finalist at the International Book Awards in the Science Fiction category. Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book EVERY WICKED MAN one of their “Best Books of 2018,” says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing.” Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game,” and RT Book Reviews promises that “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you.” Steven deftly weaves intense stories of psychological suspense with deep philosophical insights. As critically-acclaimed novelist Ann Tatlock put it, “Steven James gives us a captivating look at the fine line between good and evil in the human heart.” Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, he has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades and has spoken more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe. His short fiction has appeared in more than eighty different publications, including Writer’s Digest and the New York Times. Steven’s groundbreaking books on the art of fiction writing, STORY TRUMPS STRUCTURE and TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR NOVEL, have both won Storytelling World Awards. Widely recognized for his story-crafting expertise, he teaches regularly as a Master Class instructor at ThrillerFest, North America’s premier training event for suspense writers. In his podcast The Story Blender, he interviews leading storytellers in film, print, and web. Listen now on When Steven isn’t writing or speaking, you’ll find him trail running, playing basketball, or drinking dark roast coffee near his home in the Appalachian Highlands of Eastern Tennessee.

Nick Harrison, Agent

Nick Harrison has worked in the book industry for more than 30 years. He began his career working for the public library while attending San Jose State University where he graduated with a degree in English. Since then Nick has owned or managed both Christian and children’s bookstores, written articles for several prominent publications, and has authored ten books including Magnificent Prayer and Power in the Promises. Endorsers of Nick’s books include Anne Graham Lotz, Lee Strobel, Mark Mittelberg, Liz Curtis Higgs, Jim Cymbala, Chip Ingram, Jerry Jenkins, and Tony Evans. For fifteen years Nick served as a senior editor at Harvest House Publishers where he worked with several well-known fiction and non-fiction authors. Nick is a popular speaker and teacher at writers’ conferences where he loves to discover promising new writers. He and his wife, Beverly, an avid quilter, live in Oregon and are the parents of three adult daughters and grandparents of two boys and two girls.

Josh Kelley, Author       

Josh Kelley is the author of Radically Normal (Harvest House), novelist, and a fulltime ghostwriter with ten books under his belt. He is also a writing coach and developmental editor. A former pastor of fifteen years, he holds a bachelor’s in biblical studies from Life Pacific College and lives in northwest Washington with his wife and two daughters. His website is

Dena Netherton, Author   

Dena Netherton is the author of eight published novels and several articles, short stories and devotionals. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and the President of Northwest Christian Writers Association. Ms. Netherton loves to encourage new writers and regularly teaches classes on some aspect of the writerly craft. She and her husband live in Wyoming where they make music, host big parties, and plan the next landscaping project for their big, big high-country property.

Darlene Panzera, Author     

Darlene Panzera is a multi-published author, speaker, and writing coach of both sweet contemporary and Christian historical romance. Her career launched with “The Bet,” a novella included in bestselling author Debbie Macomber’s Family Affair, which led her to publish twelve more titles including The Cupcake Diaries, Montana Hearts, and novellas in Barbour’s Underground Railroad Brides, Runaway Brides, and Sew In Love collections. Darlene is a member of RWA, ACFW, the Oregon Christian Writers, and the Northwest Christian Writers Association. When not writing, she loves spending time with her husband and three kids, teaching at conferences, and feeding her horse carrots.

Carolyn Rice, Author     

Carolyn Rice graduated with an Associate degree in Biblical Studies, then promptly broke her foot. While healing, she started taking writing classes which led to three years of studying the craft of writing, although she never really stopped learning on her own. She has been published with ministries such as, Penned from the Heart, Living by Design Ministries and Breakthrough Intercessor. She also writes for Seattle Bible College where she serves as the Alumni Director. Carolyn is the author of four non-fiction books and is nearly finished with her fifth.

Ginny Yttrup, Award-Winning Author, Contemporary Women’s Fiction Mentor, Writing Coach, Speaker

My debut novel, Words, released in 2011 and set me on the path of writing women’s fiction woven around issues many women face, myself included. While Words was loosely based on my childhood, not all my novels are inspired by my own life story.  Although, I have written about other issues I’ve struggled with. Regardless of the issue I’m addressing, I work to make my characters emotionally layered, conflicted, yet infused with hope, and sometimes humor. Just like us. My recent release, Convergence, marks a transition from the women’s fiction genre to the suspense genre. But for those of you who’ve enjoyed my women’s fiction titles, not to worry, Convergence will include the elements of hope and healing my novels are known for, along with a setting that reflects the grandeur of creation. When I’m not writing, I speak, coach writers, critique manuscripts, and offer developmental edits of both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts. I love spending time with my two adult sons, Justin and Jared, my daughter-in-law, Stephanie, or with the small circle of dear friends who enrich my life in so many ways. If I can spend time outdoors or gathered around a food-laden table with those I love, it’s even better.

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