The SoCalCW Conference Just Landed On My “Favorites” List

Me to my calendar: “Hm…I think June will be a bit of a breather month.”

My calendar:

So…I spent half of June traveling to conferences and have only just returned home to write my next book on a very very looming deadline. But that’s how conference season always is and–despite the exhaustion and sleep deprivation–I love it.

Two days ago, I returned from the inaugural year of the SoCal Christian Writers Conference. And, despite needing a full day to catch up on breathing and life…I’m so inspired to write! I loved this conference and, while a recap post probably won’t be for everyone, I wanted to share some of the things that made this conference amazing:

1. The location.

Biola University is a gorgeous campus with multiple coffee shops for the writer-chat breaks (and sanity), gazebos and fountains and walkways of trees. I walked the campus countless times, laid out on the grass to chat with my roomie and talk books, visited under a canopied deck…*happy sigh*

Also, for those who didn’t know, Biola is my alma mater (aka: where I went to college) so it felt a bit like coming home.

2. The faculty

Half the reason I chose this conference as my “new-conference-of-the-year” was because of the faculty line-up. There were so many amazing industry professionals (and friends!) teaching this week. They had everyone from Karen Ball (brilliant speaker, author, editor, and agent) to Tosca Lee (NY Times bestselling author) to Allen Arnold (founder of Thomas Nelson’s fiction line) to…you get the picture.


3. The low cost & Bubble tea

This conference was SO AFFORDABLE. So affordable, in fact, that I was able to register on an excited whim without breaking my bank. 😛 I’m sure as it grows those costs might adjust a bit, but I was still very impressed. And then that just left more spending money for books and BOBA TEAAAAA!! (My great weakness). I actually stole Shannon Dittemore’s car to introduce everyone I could kidnap to the magical wonderland of Boba (Bubble) Tea.

We also may or may not have had a boba-tea-shooting competition. 😛

4. My roomie was AMAZING.

The adorable Ashley Townsend (with her equally adorable time-travel novels) was my comrade-in-arms during the conference. It was so nice being able to request each other as roomies. We laid claim to dorm #217, living off of min-Oreos and late night chats.

5. The conference had classes for EVERY writer.

Poetry, nonfiction, fiction, young adult writers, marketing, screenplays, children’s books, advanced writing, beginner writing, speculative fiction, fighting classes…PHEW! I’ve never seen such a line-up of classes! And they were all excellent, of course. I don’t know that I’ve attended a conference that had classes for every single type of writer out there. Bravo, conference planners!

6. I got to stay with the professor who changed my life.

This isn’t directly conference related, but since Biola is my Alma Mater, I was able to get together with Dr. Erik Thoennes, the department chair of of biblical studies and Theology at Biola. I got to attend my college-time church and listen to him preach, then spend two glorious days with his beautiful family. To twist a C. S. Lewist quote: You can never get a cup of tea big enough or book long enough to replace the rare blessing of soul-deep conversation. 😉


I also discovered that his wife and I shared a passion for Yorkshire tea. And, if you didn’t think they were already amazing, they surprised me with Oreos! I returned home with both my spirit and stomach filled. 😛 Also, Dr. Thoenne’s theology books are brilliant. I’m crossing my fingers that he’ll write more. 😉

Overall, the SoCal Christian Writers Conference was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. A lot happened that I didn’t expect. And a lot that I expected to happen didn’t actually happen. This conference is staying on my radar and I hope authors everywhere will put it on theirs!

What factors would convince you to attend a writers conference?

What’s your favorite writers conference to date?

Will I see you at SoCal next year? 😉 



About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. BRAVO! Sounds like many, many blessings have overcome you! So happy for you! For old Biola memories, new memories and for writing inspiration! Love you sweetie…….write on!

  2. Polaris Northstar

    AHhh!!!! I am SOOOOo jealous!!! I wanted to go to this conference SO bad but I could not because of finals And jury duty! It looked like it was going to be TOTALLY Amazing! And even though it would have been expensive for me, it was still WAY more feasible than other conferences (especially considering it is closer to me than Any other writer conference).
    I am SO hoping I can go next year (and I think I will be able to, Lord willing the funds will be there).

  3. Realm Makers is my must attend! I could totally see SoCal being on my list. I can fly there from our tiny town to LA for about $200 and no time zone changes. Also, it’s in the summer when childcare is easier for me to manage.

  4. Oh I wish there were writing conferences in AUSTRALIA, but America is just not possible… At least we can do camp Nano and stuff like that with amazing virtual cabin mates. Our cabin has already gone crazy and the months has not even started. We left a few people with 500-700 notifications, because they weren’t there one time when a heap of others chanced to be on together.

    • That’s so not fair! You shouldn’t have to fly all the way to America to attend! Someday….someday there will be a writer’s conference in Australia. And yes, CAMP NANO ALL THE WAY!


  6. Abraham Sherman

    I totally concur! The conference was much more than I had hoped it would be.

    (1) BIOLA!! Didn’t know how much I loved the school until I walked around it for the first time in seven years and nearly cried.

    (2) What a great and generous blessing it was to have such wise, caring people hosting, teaching, and encouraging us.

    (3) The timing could not have been better, as the conference came toward the end of a multi-week vacation to visit family in CA – flights were already booked before I even considered attending the conference! I wouldn’t have made it if it were a solo trip. Though, now that I’ve caught the conference bug, I’m going to be tempted to put more focused effort into planning to attend others in the future!

    P.S. I just discovered Boba tea a couple weeks before the conference!

    (4) You gotta have somebody to keep the paparazzi and sycophants at bay. ;-P

    (5) The variety was awesome. I wanted to attend three or four workshops at the same time!

    (6) Totally enjoyed and benefited from his preaching and his “Character of God” class.

    ‘Til next year!

I love hearing from you!