Colorado Conference Report

This past week, for the first time, I attended the The Write His Answer Christian Writers Conference Conference, in Colorado, where I was honored to be on faculty.

Marlene Bagnull, conference director, is a wonderful woman with a heart for God who really cares about writers. Her staff was always cheerful and helpful. The conference as a whole reflected her spirit and was, as a result, a joyous place to be. I could feel an overall sense of joy in the attendees, too. All were enriched by worship and sharing from speakers as well.

I was on four panels, so writers had a chance to get to know me as well as my colleagues. Attendees could choose from many workshops and sessions with excellent faculty. My feeling is that a writer who wanted to learn about a particular publisher, editor, or agent present at the conference had at least one good opportunity to do so.

The conference is held at a camp setting and I found my room comfortable although dicey cell phone service made it impossible to reach my family a couple of evenings. Thankfully I had warned them this might be the case. No television in the room took away the temptation to turn on the nightly news and increased my ability to relax.

Viewing snow-capped mountains in May does come with the price of thin air. I struggled to cope with high altitude sickness and I’m hale and hearty. When you go, do:

drink plenty of water before and during the trip. I was grateful the conference organizers were diligent about providing plenty of bottled water. Those who chose to do so could provide a donation to the scholarship fund in return.

ask your doctor if you should take ibuprofen to prevent headaches.

limit caffeine.

sleep when you can. This conference has a sensible schedule, a fact I greatly appreciated and needed.

plan to stay in Denver for a day or so to acclimate yourself to higher altitudes before the conference. I didn’t have time to do this but it may have been a good idea for me since I live at sea level.

You’ll fly in to Denver for this conference and the drive to Estes Park is absolutely stunning. If you’re not pressed for time, plan to pull off at one or two overlooks to take photos.

As with any writer’s conference, there are many factors to consider when deciding to attend. But if you’ve been on the fence about this one, I’d recommend grabbing a bottle of water and climbing on up!

Your turn:

Have you ever been to this conference? What did you think?

Do you have any tips to share about avoiding or coping with high altitude sickness?

19 Responses to Colorado Conference Report

  1. Jackie Layton May 28, 2015 at 4:35 am #

    It sounds like a great conference. I’ve only been to Colorado once, and I still remember how close I felt to God in the beautiful mountains.

    Some people get dizzy, and for that I’d recommend the wrist bands you can find at most pharmacies. Also Meclizine helps with dizziness, but it might make you sleepy, but not as sleepy as dimenhydrinate.

    Thanks for sharing about this conference. I’ll keep it on my radar for next year.

  2. Tamela Hancock Murray May 28, 2015 at 5:28 am #

    Jackie, thanks for those suggestions. I was not aware of either option. Fatigue was my major problem during the conference. I’m glad I didn’t experience dizziness.

  3. Susan Baganz May 28, 2015 at 5:53 am #

    Tamela it was a delight to serve on faculty with you at CCWC and an honor to meet you after hearing so many wonderful things about you by one of the authors you represent. You really are as sweet as she says! My doctor instructed me to increase water intake significantly days (if not at least a week) before going can help with the altitude sickness issue. I’m horrible at getting water in anyway but somehow managed. I’m sorry you struggled with it. It really is a wonderful conference with great faculty in a beautiful setting! And your tip to take the trip up there slow to enjoy the scenery is great. I managed to do that this time and really enjoyed being able to soak in the beauty of the Rockies. Another tip is to rest when you can. Sometimes that means missing out on some of the wonderful things going on, but worth it to be able to enjoy what you get to attend.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray May 28, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

      Susan, I enjoyed meeting and talking with you at the conference, too! You are a blessing! 🙂

      Great tip about preparing at least a week in advance. I made the mistake of waiting to peruse the Internet for extra advice the night before the conference and ended up buying Advil at the airport. Your tips will help others be more prepared than I was. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Dina Sleiman May 28, 2015 at 6:25 am #

    I’ve been to the Colorado conference twice and thoroughly enjoyed it both times. The first time my lips got crazy chapped, though, so bring good lip balm. And imagine being a beach girl and expected to do a worship dance both times at that altitude, but I survived it. LOL. Love the scenery.

  5. Marti Pieper May 28, 2015 at 6:36 am #

    Thanks for this, Tamela! And I agree: the inspiration of the Rocky Mountain setting is well worth any special altitude precautions. My husband and I enjoyed a hike to nearly 10,000 feet on the day after the conference ended, and he has asthma.

    I appreciate your gracious spirit in ministering to conferees at this and other conferences. I’m grateful to have served alongside you at CCWC.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray May 28, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

      Marti, your husband has me beat by a literal mile. That is awesome!

      You well deserve your place as a spiritual mentor at every conference. Such a calming and caring presence! God surely walks alongside you wherever you go.

  6. Norma Gail May 28, 2015 at 6:53 am #

    This was my fifth year to attend CCWC, and it is the same wonderful experience every year! You put it well, Tamela!

  7. Pamela Meyers May 28, 2015 at 7:24 am #

    I’ve only attended CCWC once maybe six years ago?? I can’t remember exactly. Loved the mountain setting and the casual atmosphere provided by the camp. There was little I found to complain about. I didn’t experience dizziness but did feel fatigue in climbing the hill from the main conference building to the building where my room was. I also periodically had a slight headache on the top of my head. I loved that they provided water to everyone like you described.

    They had a lot of available editors and agents to interview with and there were no limits on the number of appointments you could have. That may have changed since then.

    My roommate and I rented a car at the Denver airport and, if you can do this, I highly suggest it. The food in the dining hall is good, but it is a camp and not a five-star restaurant :-). We decided to make it more vacation-like by going into town (about a ten min. drive) once each day to eat at different restaurants in the quaint mountain town. We’d look at the menu and decide which meal we wanted to skip that day. So often at conferences, once you are there you don’t leave. Having the rental provided freedom to do that.

    On the last day before heading to the airport, we took a road trip up Ridge road into the Rocky Mtn. National Park and that was an experience worth doing. The views were amazing. I was glad I wasn’t driving, but the road felt completely safe. An awesome end to an awesome week.

    I’d go again, but I have a couple other conferences on my bucket list before I make a repeat.

  8. Davalynn Spencer May 28, 2015 at 7:35 am #

    You nailed it, Tamela. This was my first in five years to not attend CCWC, but other issues pressed. It’s hard to beat the Colorado Rocky Mountains and the company of such great staff and attendees.

  9. Carol Ashby May 28, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    I prepare for going to high altitude in Colorado by living at 6700 feet in New Mexico. I highly recommend it. I actually have more red blood cells per milliliter than you lowlanders. It takes 2-4 weeks to build up to the proper number for the lower oxygen levels up here. Olympic athletes train in mile-high Albuquerque because they can train outdoors all year. Living and training here is like blood doping only legal. Now for some suggestions you might actually be able to use.

    High altitude can raise blood pressure. If you’re hypertensive and on medication, it won’t work quite like it did at low altitude. My father-in-law who lives at 700 feet in central Texas found it became too hard to vacation in the 9000-ft Colorado basins after he got on medication. He could still handle our 6700 feet, but he did feel it.

    There is a lot more UV with the thinner atmosphere even one mile up, like in Denver or Albuquerque. Block up well if you plan to be outside for more than half an hour, or you can get a humdinger of a sunburn even in winter. I always wear sunglasses when I’m outside for any length of time. It prevents headaches and reduces UV that can cause cataracts. A wide-brimmed hat helps with the brightness as well as keeping you from burning.

    I was planning on going to my first CCWC next year. It’s only a 500 mile drive, and we New Mexicans will drive 100 miles one way just to go shopping. Are there any other really good conferences within an 800-mile radius from Albuquerque? Also, there was a link to a CD order form for last year’s conference. Are there any sessions that were so good that I should buy the CDs right now to improve my skill set?

  10. Jeanne Takenaka May 28, 2015 at 9:22 am #

    I’m so glad you made it to our beautiful state, Tamela. I’m also glad that, for the most part, you enjoyed it. Colorado is absolutely beautiful. I haven’t made it to that conference yet, though I want to one year. Estes Park is one of my favorite places!

    For high altitude, it’s definitely best to drink lots of water and get rest. And don’t push yourself too hard. All stuff you figured out.

    I enjoyed reading your impressions of the conference!

  11. Ava Pennington May 28, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    It was a pleasure to serve with you at CCWC, Tamela!

    • Tamela Hancock Murray May 29, 2015 at 8:43 am #

      And you as well, Ava. I always enjoy being conference buds with you wherever we land. 🙂

  12. Carla Jo Novotny May 28, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

    The information, discriptions and encouragement is appreciated. Learning many valuable, fun, interesting, and useful tips widens my view, dreams and helps set me up for being a better, smoother, happier communicator. Thank you to those who wrote. I’ve read it all twice so far.

  13. Sandra Schoger Foster May 28, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

    What are the dates for spring 2016 conference?


    • Sandy Kirby Quandt May 29, 2015 at 6:53 am #

      Tamala, thanks for the great write-up about CCWC. I’ve attended the conference for years and never tire of the beauty of the Y at Estes Park. I’m a flat-lander, also, and the altitude can be an issue. I’ve learned to walk really s-l-o-w up the inclines.

      Sandra, next year’s conference dates are May 11-14, 2016. The conference begins the Wednesday after Mother’s day and runs through the following Saturday.

  14. Dawna Hetzler May 31, 2015 at 10:13 am #

    It was wonderful meeting you and gleaning from your wisdom. I hope to see you at the conference next year!

  15. Sarah W. June 2, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    In addition to your tips to avoid altitude sickness my tip would be prayer. Pray for yourself and pray for each other. One morning on my way to breakfast at the conference I saw a woman stop and put her hand on her head. When I passed her I asked how she was doing and she told me she was lightheaded and suffering from the altitude. I asked if I could pray for her and she said yes. So I prayed a short prayer releasing Jesus’ goodness and commanding the symptoms to leave. We parted ways and I went to breakfast and the first session. After the session the woman came up to me and told me that after we prayed her symptoms immediately left and she felt normal again! Yay Jesus! He is so good.

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