CWCO Webinar was a smash hit!

CWCOiconby Nancy Ward, Coordinator of Committees

The highlight for March was our Catholic Writers Conference Online (CWCO) staring Ann Lewis, Karina Fabian and Laura Lowder – These two organized and, with four moderators, facilitated an amazing weekend of 23 presentations given by 18 presenters to 129 attendees. We also had two pitch practices to prepare 38 writers to pitch to 11 publishers. These publishers were definitely interested in 24 submissions, another 11 conditionally, with only 3 rejections for manuscripts that were mismatched with the publisher’s market.

Overall impressions are that the weekend format was effective and encouraged more participation than a weeklong conference. No one mentioned missing the forums. The AnyMeeting webinar software worked well for most attendees. Those with connectivity issues called in and participated by telephone. Presenters adapted quickly to the new interface. I was one of the many presenters who welcomed speaking rather than typing my presentation. Several people requested recordings.

The side chat room allowed for illuminating conversations that did not disrupt the speakers. I was thrilled that during my “Three Steps to Sharing Your Faith Story as a Writer” presentation, the participants chatted about their faith stories. AnyMeeting tech support met with several people who reported that they were pleased with the assistance. That’s what I experienced when practicing the setup the week before.

Looking ahead, we’ll keep AnyMeeting subscription to use for year-round presentations – if we get volunteers. Let Karina know what kind of seminars you would like to attend. Her email blast was highly successful, and going forward we will use the newsletter campaign to generate interest. We’ll separate the pitch sessions from the conference to give authors more time to prep. Like me, ask yourself, “Now, what shall I present next year? What shall I pitch?”

Do you have an SOA book that hasn’t been featured on Catholic Book News? Dawn Witzke has an opportunity for you!

If you want to have fun networking and serving on a committee, we are searching for volunteers for the CWG Newsletter, Public Relations and Volunteer Committees, a forms coordinator for SOA and another copyeditor for the CWG Blog. Here’s the full story on what’s happening in the committees:

Blog: Kathryn Cunningham and Dennis McGeehanWe are getting requests from members, some new, to contribute to the blog. We welcome them and look forward to working with them. All posts must conform to the teachings of the Church and our guidelines. Since an editor must edit every blog prior to going live, we schedule new ones to allow time for that. And we need another editor.

CALA (Catholic Arts and Letters Award): Carol Ann Chybowski – We are still in a quiet place here in CALA. We have confirmed all six judges. Entries have closed, and the reading period has begun. Good luck to all our entrants, and God bless you all for the beautiful work you do!

Catholic Book News: Dawn Witzke March featured Christian Frank’s young adult novel, Near Occasions, and Stephanie Landsem’s The Thief, an historical fiction with a biblical theme. With the April issue I will be out of books to feature in the newsletter. Authors, if you have not yet been featured, take up this marketing opportunity and send your sell sheets to me.

CWCL:  Ann Lewis and Ellen Hrkach – The great and wonderful Catholic Writers Conference LIVE will be held July 26-29, 2016, at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center. Schaumburg, IL. Registration is set up and open here: CWCL registration. We just need to start getting the word out. We’ve settled on a theme: Openness to God’s Will. Ann has asked Margaret Realy to be our keynote speaker, primarily because she’s a CWG success story and her story fits in specifically with our theme. We also have Ken Ogorek from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis coming. He wowed the retreatants at our retreat last fall. Nancy Ward and Joe Wetterling are on board as presenters.

Facebook: Karina Fabian reports that our private Facebook group is going very smoothly. Now that we don’t have daily activities, we get more response on the ones we do. Book Blast for March was scheduled for Holy Week so was postponed to April.

Membership: Maureen Smith – We had about 20 new members in February, probably because of the conference. We had 7 new members by mid-March.

Newsletter: We need a new chair for this committee to send out a monthly newsletter to inform the membership of what’s happening in CWG. In the absence of the newsletter, check our private Facebook group, the Blog and the CWG website.

Public Relations: We need a chairperson to use their social media skills to promote the Blog, CALA, SoA, conferences, elections, BookNews and membership.

Retreat: Ann Lewis and Margaret Rose Realy –  Our next retreat is in 2017.

SOA: Erin Cupp – We will be able to take on 10 books when we reopen for submissions April 1. As for the training itself, we’ve only had two recommendations for changes. Otherwise, all seems to be going relatively smoothly from our end. Please contact the committee at for more information.

Speakers Bureau/Educational Outreach: Dennis McGeehan – This committee takes cares of maintaining a list of CWG members who are speakers. If your organization needs a speaker, here’s the place to find one.

Volunteer Committee: We need a chairperson to coordinate small temporary assignments and assist in the big events.

Zenit: Dennis McGeehan –  Mike Eisenbath’s blog, “A Long, Holy Goodbye to My Mom,” was picked up by Zenit. We can still use one more member to review the monthly submissions for Zenit. Contact me if you would enjoy helping the Zenit committee select CWG Blog posts to submit to

CWG Fiction Critique Group: Contact Don Mulcare.

CWG Non-Fiction Critique Group: Contact Nancy Ward or Connie Rossini.

For other concerns and suggestions about our fabulous committees, contact Nancy Ward, Coordinator of Committees.

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