Northwest Christian Writers Renewal
May 18-20, 2023

Teaching faculty

Alton Gansky, Award-Winning Fiction Author

Alton L. Gansky is the author of 24 novels, 6 novellas, 1 screenplay, and 11 nonfiction works, as well as principal writer of 9 novels and 2 nonfiction books. He has been a Christy Award finalist, an Angel Award winner, and received the ACFW award for best suspense/thriller. He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies and was granted a Litt.D.

For the last 4 years he has served as adjunct professor in the Business Master’s Degree (Leadership) program at Fresno Pacific University where he teaches and mentors students in research and thesis writing.

In addition to his own writing, Alton Gansky has consulted and provided editing/ writing services to several CBA publishers and written copy, video scripts, and other works for the general business market.

Gansky has taught and keynoted in numerous writer's conferences in around the country. For 5 years he directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

Deb Gruelle, Award-Winning, Best-Selling Children’s Author

Deb Gruelle (grew-WELL) is an ECPA bestselling and award-winning, multi-published author for both children and adults. Related to Johnny Gruelle, the creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy, she loves being a third-generation writer for children. Her books have been sold in Costo and Sam’s Club, and recently, she received an award for her first children’s book surpassing 100,000 copies sold.
A recovering Silicon Valley technical writer, Deb has been featured on multiple radio broadcasts including Family Life Today and has served on the faculty of major writers conferences. Currently, she serves as the chaplain for a writers organization and as a certified coach, where she loves to encourage writers to turn their God-given dreams into tailor-made plans that propel them toward their writing goals.

Deb enjoyed homeschooling her three multi-ethnic children (now adults), who joined her family by both birth and adoption. She's always open to eating dessert first. (

Kathleen Kerr, Alive Literary Agency

Kathleen Kerr is an agent with Alive Literary Agency, representing authors as they hone their ideas and navigate a changing publishing landscape. She’s always on the lookout for the bold voices that are shaping conversations in today’s culture.

Before joining Alive, Kathleen served as an acquisitions editor at Zondervan and Harvest House Publishers. She worked with bestselling, debut, and award-winning authors, helping to refine their messages, build their careers, and partner in their ministries. She also worked as a bookseller at an independent bookstore, where she learned that there are few greater joys than introducing kids to the books that will shape their own stories.

Kathleen graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with degrees in French and English. She now lives with her husband, Noah, and their two daughters in Oregon’s Willamette valley. She can usually be found reading, camping, and creating chaos in the kitchen.

Joanna Weaver, Award-Winning, Best-Selling Non-Fiction Author of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

Joanna is the bestselling author of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World which has sold more than one million copies, as well as Having a Mary Spirit, Lazarus Awakening, At the Feet of Jesus devotional, and her new book, Embracing Trust. A pastor's wife, mother of three, and host of The Living Room with Joanna Weaver podcast, Joanna loves speaking to women about the powerful freedom that is found in making Jesus Lord and trusting him for things bigger than themselves. She lives with her family in Hamilton, Montana.

Thomas Umstattd, Author, Award-Winning Speaker and Marketing Expert

Thomas Umstattd Jr. built his first website at the age of 13 and taught his first web design class at only 16 years old. He has been helping authors and small businesses use the web ever since. Thomas currently serves as the CEO of Castle Media Group LLC, a company that builds websites for world changers. He runs a resource for authors timid about technology. As an award-winning speaker, Thomas teaches all over the world. His friendly speaking style blends multimedia and audience participation. His unique historical perspective will help audiences use the web in a whole new way.

Kate Breslin, Award-Winning Historical Fiction Author

Author Kate Breslin lives on a small bay in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where she enjoys spending time with her husband and family. A writer of travel articles and award-winning poetry, Kate received Christian Retailing's 2015 Best Award for First Time Author and her novel, For Such A Time, won the 2015 Carol award for Debut Novel and was a Christy and RITA Award finalist. Her sixth novel, In Love’s Time, released with Bethany House Publishers in December of 2022. In addition to her love of writing, Kate also enjoys reading, gardening, hiking, and traveling to new places for the next story idea. Please visit her at

Ocieanna Fleiss, Multi-published Author & Speaker

OCIEANNA FLEISS’s upcoming Advent devotional, Awaiting the Manger: Whispers of Advent in the Old Testament will release in September from Harvest House publishers. Her memoir, Love like There’s No Tomorrow, tells the story of how she died and came back to life and the incredible life lessons she learned during her recovery. She has also written two mysteries in the Secrets of Wayfarers Inn series and three historical novels with Tricia Goyer. She’s been featured on KOMO 4 TV News, US News and World Report, and several local radio stations. She speaks at churches, parenting groups, and writers conferences and teaches Sunday school to middle schoolers. Ocieanna makes her home in Seattle, Washington. She and her husband are parents to four kids, two still at home. Connect with Ocieanna at and on social media.

Athena Dean Holz, Publisher, Podcaster, Author Advocate

Athena Dean Holtz serves as founder and publisher at Redemption Press in Enumclaw, WA where her Romans 8:28 Books & Gifts is one of the few remaining independent Christian bookstores in Western Washington. Having pioneered the indie publishing movement in the Christian space over 3 decades ago she is past president of NCWA, was named Publisher of the Year 2022 by the Soul Café Awards and Best Female Podcast Host 2021 by the national Spark Media for her All Things Podcast. She is the author of Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God, and most recently co-authored Together for a Purpose: Love and Mission in Marriage and Ministry with her pastor-husband. She also founded the She Writes for Him movement, launched during the pandemic. Their virtual events continue to equip, inspire and create connection through its extensive global community.

Nova McBee, Award-winning Author and Scriptwriter

Nova McBee is the author of the bestselling and award-winning Calculated series, which is currently in development to become a major motion franchise. Emmy-Award winning screenwriter Ann Peacock (The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), will adapt Calculated for screen in partnership with OneDoor Studios and a fantastic production team.

As a screenwriter and author, Nova has a passion for unique and relatable characters; deep and universal themes, and fast paced, high stakes action and adventure. Nova McBee is a Seattle native who has lived nearly half her life in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, which is why her stories are always full of international diversity and rich perspective.

Chelsea Bobulski, Contemporary Fantasy Author 

Chelsea Bobulski is the author of two YA contemporary fantasy novels (The Wood and Remember Me, Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan) and of the four-book All I Want for Christmas YA romantic comedy series (Wise Wolf Books), which has been optioned by ESX Entertainment in a 4-movie deal. Chelsea graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in history and loves to use her knowledge of the past to inspire both her historical and contemporary stories. Her favorite themes to explore are those of holding onto hope in the midst of dark times, true love winning the day, and good triumphing over evil.

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