Monday, August 20, 2012

OWFI 45!

OWFI 45! Revive! Strive! Thrive!  

So, why this theme for the 2013 conference?  Well, it rhymes. And look at all those exclamation points!   How fun is that? For all those people who've asked me over the years why I don't write poetry, you now have your answer.

When conference chair, Jan Morrill, and I discussed the upcoming conference, we threw out all kinds of theme names: Write On, Write Now, Holy Smoking Ink Balls, The Write Way,  Slaughtering Those Pesky LY Words, etc. After a couple cups of coffee, our ideas didn't get any better.  So, we backtracked and discussed what we wanted the attendees to gain from the 2013 conference.

We reviewed our list of speakers and realized that we have folks who could inspire authors to spark and/or regain their creativity.   There are times when as writers we begin to question our abilities, second guess every sentence and fret over our storylines. I can't tell you how many times I've been 70,000 words into a novel and stop dead in my tracks, smothered in doubt.  Fortunately, I have wonderful friends who kick me in the backside and get me going again.  Sometimes, though, you need to hear the same message from a different messenger.  We need to gain confidence in our talents and REVIVE our creativity.

There are speakers on the 2013 faculty who will help you hone your craft. We have several speakers who are leaders in their genres: Jodi Thomas, Ron Fortier, Rob M. Davis, Jordan Dane, Lauri Owen. These speakers will show you the ins and outs of those genres and help you STRIVE for excellence.

It is our hope that you'll take the information you gain from the 2013 conference, apply it to your writing and your careers will THRIVE!  Thriving is awesome, don't you think?  Wouldn't it be awesome if the 2014 Famous Author Banquet took 4 hours??  Okay, maybe not, but it would be incredible to have hundreds of published authors to celebrate each year.

If you have suggestions, comments or ideas for the conference, please don't hesitate to contact me.

The next Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for September 9 at 2 PM at the Norman Embassy Suites and Conference Center in Norman, Oklahoma. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Can you believe it? Time for the OWFI Conference is almost here. And with the conference rapidly approaching there are a few loose ends to tie up:

  • We are now receiving items for the bags. If you have bookmarks, post cards, anything fliers, etc. please send them to me at 20245 Pug Gayer Road, Fayetteville, AR 72703 OR bring them to the Embassy Suites on Thursdays before 2:00. 
  • We now have a "Buzz" page on the website. If you would like to host a buzz session please let Jen Nipps know. 
  • APRIL 19th is the last day the hotel block will be held for OWFI conferencees. Even though the hotel shows as full, we still have rooms reserved for us! Be sure to tell them you are with the OWFI Conference!
  • PANELS: As of now I have received one (1) uno, panel question. Those sent to me will be asked first. In the interest of time, those who attend the panels will be asked to write their questions and give them to the person working the floor who will sift through them and take out any redundant questions and give them to the moderator, who will ask the questions.
Also, I have read and re-read suggestions from last year and have tried to implement most of them (except for the dancing girls suggestion) One of the chief complaints have been the cold rooms. I'm sorry to say that we have absolutely no control over that. If we make one room warmer, the others will be burning up. The reason is that the system is set for the Ballroom which we divide into parlors with the folding walls. Therefore, bring sweaters. It is better to put things on than to take things off. 

Another suggestion is to have coffee and tea. I will look into that for the afternoon. But you have no idea how expensive that is! I'll look into the budget and see if we have "room" for it. 

We will have better signs. 

This year the book room is on the first floor. We were going to put it in the Pre-con room, but that is going to be the meeting space for editors and agents. The Embassy has combined two rooms by the pool (behind the area we eat breakfast) They used to serve as the hospitality room and the game room. That will be our book room. We will have signs and will also encourage other hotel guests to shop as well! 

That is all for now but I'll be blogging more often to keep you updated on what is going on. This is going to be a great year!! I can't wait to hear all of your success stories! 

Keep Weaving,

Monday, February 20, 2012


Since becoming president of OWFI, I’ve learned how “fluid” the conference can be. We’ve had more changes. Pat Smith is suffering a condition that not only prevents her from taking pitches at our conference, but has also forced her to resign from Goldminds Publishing. That said, her boss, editor Steven Anderson (Law) is coming in her place. Be sure and go to our website and read all about him.

Emmanuel Morgan has changed literary firms. She is now with Stonesong. That said, she is still looking for the same things as stated on our website. But you might want to check Stonesong out.

We have added pages to our website. We now have the Table Reservation, Autograph Party, Editor/Agent appointment, Shepherd, and Volunteer pages up. Which brings me to something I’d like to encourage you to consider—volunteering!

Jim Davis, our shepherd chair, still needs shepherds. This is a great way to not only network, but to have extra input in your writing. I encourage you to contact Jim at and volunteer. Please put Shepherd Volunteer in the subject line.

We also need volunteers for the following:
·      Information desk. This is new this year. We would like someone take one hour to man the desk to answer questions that attendees might have. You will have all the cell phone numbers of those who will know the answers (if you are not sure, we will go over everything with you). There will also be a map to all the different rooms and classes.
·      Registration. If you are interested in helping with this, please contact Ruth Weeks at and put Registration Volunteer in the subject line.
·      Bag Stuffer. This is a fun job! We will do this on Thursday afternoon. If you are in the area and can come early, we’d love to have your help!
·      Editor/Agent Appointments. If you would like to help here please contact Jan Morrill at and put Editor/Agent Volunteer in the subject line.
·      Basket Wars. If you would like to help Vivian with this please contact her at and put Basket Wars Volunteer in the subject line.

Another awesome opportunity is to help Chuck Sambuchino with his book table. He will have a table in the bookroom but is going to handle his own books. However, while he is teaching or taking appointments he will need help. Now get this, he said for those who help him he will offer edits on your queries or synopsis, or pages. This is fantastic. This is a guy who knows the secrets! This offer is especially desirable for those of you who hate writing queries and synopsis!  We could use two or three people for this. And what better way to get to know Chuck? Networking, networking, networking! I’m just sayin . . .

Finally, I want to tell you about another incredible opportunity. This year Bill Bernhardt is conducting a preconference small-group seminar. It will be in Oklahoma City beginning on Sunday, April 29, 2012 and finishing the morning of Thursday, May 3, 2012. There is only room for 10 people. We only have 7 spots left. The charge for this intensive seminar is $499.00. There will be a non-refundable deposit of $50.00 due by April 22nd.  

Below is the description and if you are interested or would like more information, please write me at Put Bill Bernhardt Seminar in the subject line.

OWFI Pre-Conference Small-Group Seminar

The seminar consists of five intense, inspiring days learning the art and craft of writing. In addition to the instruction, editing, and advice, each participant will be guided in:
·      Composing
·      Writing a first-rate query letter and synopsis
·      Outlining several chapters of their book–the building blocks for selling and publishing your work.

Participants will also gain experience pitching and selling their work for publication. The seminar is limited to no more than ten participants.  This seminar is designed for writers who have at least started a work-in-progress and hope to be published by a major publisher. 

I appreciate all of you! 
Keep Weaving!


Friday, December 30, 2011


Well, it is starting. We had an agent drop out. This happens all the time but the members just don’t know about it unless it happens at the last minute. This is one of the things that make the job of OWFI President challenging, well, budgets can be a headache too!  

The process of inviting speakers may be as easy as, “Would you like to?” and the answer being “Yes, I would love to!” But normally the answer comes packaged with, “Well, let me think about it. You pay how much? I have to have more. And I want a flight at this time, direct if possible, but if not no more than one stop, oh and I need baggage and taxi fare,” etc, etc, etc. The OWFI president must walk that fine line of budget and providing the most opportunity for the members. Decisions like this will keep you up at night. I know! And just when you think you've got it all sewn up and you can breathe, change happens. Just before Christmas, Christine Witthohn dropped out due to an ongoing illness in her family. 

Back at the proverbial drawing board, I had to consider the pros and cons of replacing her with another agent or another editor. The pro for another agent is he or she will get your work in front of a lot of editors. But, getting that agent to sign you that is the tricky thing. The pro for an editor/publisher is that you are cutting out the middle guy and speaking directly to the one who will buy your story.

After much deliberation, I decided to invite Normandie Fisher of Wayside Press: Why? Because she is actively seeking submissions and she likes most all genres. She is a delight to work with and very open and friendly. I think she is a good fit for the majority of our members and offers the greatest opportunity for publication as opposed to another agent.

Let me say that I am also excited about our agents. They are also actively seeking clients and I know they will not be disappointed by the caliber of authors they will meet at our conference.

My goal for you is to provide you with the best publishing opportunities and for your writing to be in the hands of readers all over the world. You have worked hard at weaving your stories and you deserve the opportunity to see your work in print.

Remember to get your contest entries in! February is fast approaching! And don’t wait too long to register for the conference. We only have room for 400!

Happy New Writing Year. Keep Weaving!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


On December 1 the OWFI contest is open for entries. The rules and categories are on the website now and the category chairs and entry form should be listed on Thursday. Remember that each entry must be mailed separately to the correct category chair. One $20.00 entry fee allows you to enter as many categories as you want.

The entry deadline is February 1! Remember to get your entries in early.

If you have any questions about the contest, please contact Maria Veres, or Sonia Gensler,

This year you will notice a change made to the entry form. Below the space where you write your name, we have added a space for the phonetic spelling of your name. Of course if your name is something easy like Apple or Smith, there will be no need to add the phonetic spelling. However, if your name is Xenofon Kazantzidis, we may need a little help when we are announcing the contest winners. So, if your name is often mispronounced, please give us the phonetic spelling. After all, we cannot call you and ask. It may give away your big win!

A BIG THANK YOU to all who have volunteered to be shepherds. We still have openings. Just write Jim Davis at

Keep weaving your stories! May is just around the corner!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Great Minds Needed!

Great conferences are a melding of many minds. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I took the suggestions from last conference and made several changes for next year. That said, I’d like us to put our heads together about another thing I’ve been thinking about.

Each year we give out bags we stuff with post cards, bookmarks, pens, flyers, tablets, and sometimes magazines. I was wondering . . .

·      What do you do with all those postcards with book covers on them? What about the bookmarks? Do you use them or throw them away? Do these items encourage you to buy the book?

·      Since the hotel supplies pens and tablets in every session, do you actually use the ones in your bags?

·      Do you read the flyers advertising other conferences and contests?

·      Do you like the free magazines that are either in your bag or on the free table?

Another thing, I would like suggestions, within reason since we are on a limited budget, what would really be beneficial in your bag? Or maybe you’d just like it empty to use for all the stuff you brought?

Please email me: with your thoughts or post them to this blog.

Thank you for your help!  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Conference is Underway - BIG TIME

Even though our conference is 8 months away, there is so much happening NOW! We have seven agents coming, six are from NY. We have six publishers who want to hear pitches. I have speakers who represent almost every genre. New things are happening as well. As I said in The Report, we have a paranormal panel and a social networking panel.

I've been going over suggestions made from last conference and I'm listening. Some suggestions I'm implementing:

  • Sessions are to be more workshop oriented. I have increased the class time to 70 minutes, passing time is 15 minutes. I've asked the speakers to make their sessions "hands on" and include audience participation.
  • More on E-Publishing. Dan Case will be our Thursday night Pre-Con session. He does this for his publishing company AWOC. COM. He will be teaching us how. This is an "extra" session that will cost $20.00. But well worth it!
  • The book room is going to be in the glass Pre-conv room. That way it will be easy to access, open to other guests at the hotel and hopefully increasing sales. We will screen it off and have the editor/agent appointments in it as well. That way we can keep the hall where the presentations rooms are free. 
  • More Sci-Fi/Fantasy agents - got 'em
  • We had one suggestion that we'd already implemented, so when I read it I felt validated. The suggestion was for Bill Bernhardt to have a slot that is 2 hours long. After lunching with Steve Berry he suggested a 3-hour intensive teaching time. He offered to do it, but after checking his schedule he saw he was book. I immediately called Bill and he said yes! So on Friday, he will teach a 3-hour class.
Of course there are suggestions we can't take. Such as
  • Move conference back to Norman, next sheet says: Keep conference at the OKC Embassy. Each year the incoming president visits area hotels, including Norman, and gets bids. The best bid wins. AND the people of the OKC Embassy are impossible to beat in terms of service. The only hold back with the OKC Embassy is the limited accommodation which is 400 people. 
  • Have dancing girls. Right. No. :)
  • Rooms are too cold. We can't do anything about that. This is a problem in every hotel conference I've attended all over the country. I suggest you bring a heavy sweater with you.
  • Not on Mother's Day weekend. Since the beginning the conference is held on the first weekend in May. Sometimes it falls on Mother's Day weekend.
  • Get Nora Roberts as a keynote speaker. Simply put, we can't afford her. :)
  • More "big name" magazine publishers/ editors. We ask and they say no. Our hands are tied. So we make sure that there are plenty of teachers to help you hone your skill so you can submit superior work. 
  • More people helping. I couldn't agree more! Again, we ask . . . 
Will you consider helping? We need shepherds, category chairs, registration helpers, and new to this year, "Ask Me" people who will answer questions like where a class is, who to contact for different things, what time things start. 

If you want to help with category chairs contact Sonia Gensler at If you'd like to be a  shepherd contact Jim Davis at and put OWFI Shepherd in subject line. Our lovable web dudes, Dan Case and Brad Smith should have the list of our speakers and agents on the website really soon. Look through it and see who you'd like to have a lot of one-on-one time with that only shepherds can have. 

Last thought. This conference is going to be amazing. The opportunities are going to be incredible. We have very motivated agents and publishers. Don't wait too long to register. We have room for 400—max!

Keep weaving!!!