The Who, What, When, Why, Where? Of OWFI

This past week I eavesdropped on a conversation between best-selling authors David Morrell and Cara Brookins. Okay, maybe not exactly eavesdropping, but reading their conversation on Facebook. To paraphrase, David wrote of how he had met Cara at a writers’ conference and then saw her again at various other conferences.  He went on to write, “she was having trouble finding an agent. Believing in the strength of her topic, I pitched it to my representatives Jane Dystel and Miriam Goderich at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. They asked one of their team (Jessica Papin) to look at it. Jessica suggested that Cara turn it into a memoir, and after a long hard road, magic happened. Cara's memoir Rise: How a House Built a Family was published on Tuesday by St. Martin's. She's been interviewed for the Today Show and similar big-time programs. I couldn't be happier for someone who triumphed over adversity and wrote many drafts of a book that turned out to be wonderful and will inspire many people.”

Why attend OWFI? Cara and David’s story in a nutshell explains why you should attend OWFI. Not that everyone will become an instant success, but that writers are there for each other. We support each other and we are truly happy for one another’s success.

Who should attend OWFI? Writers. All writers. Not just those who have “made it,” but everyone who has the passion for the writing craft.

When, May 4th through 6th.

Where, Embassy Suites, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

So, it’s a given: You must come to OWFI 2017. No more discussion.

That answers the first four Ws, now for the last, What. What exactly is the 49th annual Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc., conference all about?

Even though the official conference doesn’t begin until Friday, come early. Registration begins at 5:00 Thursday evening. Pick up your nametags and your schedule. And here you can also donate $1 for a chance to win one of the Famous Author Centerpieces from the banquets.

Kick off the pre-conference Thursday evening with a special add-on session at 6:30 featuring Pulitzer Price nominee journalist Ben Montgomery as teaches us about Dirty Little Narrative: How to make your true short stories for magazines and newspapers sing. Be sure to check that option on your registration form.

After the Thursday night festivities – DON’T SIT IN YOUR ROOM.  Come down and hang out in the atrium, make some new friends and get started enjoying the conference.

Friday morning at 8:30 OWFI’s own Amy Shojai will kick off the opening ceremony with an original work OWFI The Musical. After a good laugh, you’ll be introduced to the OWFI 2017 faculty and hear in detail what will happening throughout the weekend. At the opening session the schedule will be explained, presenters introduced, scavenger hunt cards passed out, and questions answered—and door prizes awarded.

Sessions, Sessions, Sessions.  The best way to comprehend our sessions schedule is to think of a three-ringed circus – only we’ll have four (rings that is, not circuses.) During a two-day period we will have forty-one presentations, two add-on luncheons, two banquets, a costume contest, a centerpiece drawing, a mini concert, a basket auction, numerous buzz sessions and an old fashioned bookstore. Definitely more than Barnum and Bailey ever packed into a circus tent. 

We have sessions on queries, contest winning, characterization, poetry, Scrivener, blogging, action books, memoirs, fiction into fact and fact into fiction, playwriting, inspirational, horror and ... well, you just never know what might be covered. (Check out the Conference Schedule.)

Let’s Do Lunch Never eat alone at OWFI. On Friday you can join Ann Leslie Tuttle for a boxed lunch and a casual time of questions and answers with an editor. On Saturday you can hold your pinkies high, hats and pearls optional, and join Sonia Gensler for luncheon as she tells us about “Honing Your Writing to a T(ea)”. (Check these on your registration form. You must pre-pay.)

Or make a new friend and invite one of our speakers out for lunch. The unwritten rule of OWFI is you can talk to anybody. Read their nametag and then strike up a conversation. You know from the start you have one thing in common – you’re both interested in writing.

A very important plan ahead so that you don’t miss out is the Costume Contest. Yes, you read that right. Each year for the Friday night Famous Authors Banquet, we dress as our favorite Author or Character. Be as extravagant as you want and compete to win some great prizes.

OWFI Famous Authors have three ways to be recognized at the conference. One – create a centerpiece with your book to be awarded to the lucky person whose $1 donation ticket is drawn. Two—if your books was published since the last conference—have your book cover and synopsis included in the Famous Authors Slideshow. Three have your books in our OWFI Bookstore. (Details on all these are online.)

Enjoy the Friday night Famous Authors Banquet and hear our special famous author, New York Times Best Selling Author, Kelley Armstrong keynote address: Coping with the Unanswerable.

After the banquet on Friday night DO NOT GO TO YOUR ROOM. We will be having our first ever OWFI concert with Nathan Brown.

But wait there’s more. After we’ve rocked out you can join a smaller group for an informal buzz session. A list of buzz sessions and locations will be posted at information central in the bookstore.

Then get up on Saturday and start in again.

Sometime before noon on Saturday stop by and bid on the Basket Auction. This is a wonderful opportunity to get some lovely prizes and help support OWFI scholarships at the same time.

At 5:00 all three evenings, DO NOT GO TO YOUR ROOM, but have a complimentary beverage courtesy of Embassy Suites and chat informally with the OWFI Faculty and all your new friends.

End the conference in style at our own version of the Academy Awards as we present the OWFI 2017 Writing Contest winners. Glitz and Glamour to your hearts content and cheer on all your new friends and possibly yourself as the names are announced.

Hopefully, this quick overview gives you all the Who, What, When, Where, and Whys so that you do not miss out on WHAT is shaping up to be another fantastic OWFI. I’ll see you in OKC May 4th – and I doubt I’ll ever go to my room.