Conference Session Recordings

Recordings of our conference sessions are available for purchase from VW Tapes in either MP3 or CD formats. Find out more by clicking here!

Keynote Speaker


Michael Dahl

Michael Dahl is the author of more than 200 books for children and young adults. He has won the AEP Distinguished Achievement Award three times for his nonfiction, a Teachers’ Choice award from Learning magazine, a Seal of Excellence from the Creative Child Awards, several Moms’ Choice awards, the Moonbeam Award, and had been shortlisted twice by the Agatha Awards for his middle-grade mysteries. He has written The Everything Kid’s Joke Book and Gotcha Covered! (with Kathleen Baxter) on nonfiction books that get kids excited about reading. His Finnegan Zwake mystery series published by Simon & Schuster won rave reviews. The Chicago Tribune called it a “wisecracking riot” and “golden!”

He is the author of the bestselling Bedtime for Batman and Goodnight, Football picture books. His Library of Doom adventure series has been the number one hi-lo series read in US schools for years. His latest picture book Sweet Dreams, Supergirl was recently reviewed by Booklist as  “a perfect introductory graphic novel for picture-book readers,” a “guaranteed bedtime favorite for your little supersleeper” and “as admirably diverse as the rest of the series.”

Dahl has spoken at schools, libraries, and conferences across the US, including ALA, Texas Library Association, the Tulsa Reading Council, Oklahoma Young Writers Association, the Massachusetts School Library Association, the Bank Street School and at the New York Public Library. He currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota in a haunted house.


From Richard Scarry to Really Scary: Writing Horror for Children

"Middle grade fiction is exploding!" – and "We need more scary books” is the perennial request from librarians, teachers, and children’s book buyers. But if you have a spooky idea for a book, how do you know if it’s too scary? What if it’s not scary enough? What's appropriate for different age levels?  Are you writing like J.K. Rowling or R. L. Stine? Young readers love horror tales, but why? Michael Dahl, author of award-winning children’s fiction, takes you behind the dark curtain to reveal what he’s learned in writing thrillers for children. Don’t be afraid. Just keep telling yourself, "It’s only a’s only a workshop..."


Pre-Conference Speaker

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Diane Drake

Diane Drake is an accomplished professional screenwriter, writing instructor, story consultant, speaker, and author. Prior to becoming a screenwriter, Diane served as Vice President of Creative Affairs for Academy Award-winning director/producer Sydney Pollack. Her first produced original script, Only You, starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Marisa Tomei, sold for one million dollars, while her second produced script, What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt, is the second highest grossing romantic comedy of all time. In addition, both films have recently been remade in China featuring major Chinese stars.

Diane is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and has been an instructor/mentor/panelist for the Austin Film Festival, UCLA Extension Writer’s Program, Atlanta Film festival, Scriptwriter’s Network, Story Development Group, University Club, The Phoenix Screenwriters Association, and Writer’s Store. She has also served as a judge for the Humanitas Prize, UCLA Extension Contest, and Austin Film festival, and a mentor for the Young Storytellers and the ISA (International Screenwriters Association) Diane has been featured in IndieWire, Script, MovieMaker, and Creative Screenwriting Magazines. She recently released her debut book, Get Your Story Straight (Reel Life Publishing, May 2016).


What's the Big Idea: Creating a Strong Logline

A compelling logline can be key to both keeping your screenplay on track and to selling your material. This workshop will briefly cover the definition, purpose, and ingredients of a good logline, and then have attendees engage in a couple interactive exercises designed to practice crafting them. After that, we’ll have some time for Q&A on screenwriting and the film business.

Get Your Story Straight: Structuring Your Screenplay to Sell

Creating a compelling cinematic narrative can be deceptively difficult, and story structure is often one of the most challenging things for any writer to master. There are no “formulas,” but there are time-tested principles which can help guide you and enable you to craft your story into its most satisfying form. This workshop will cover tools and elements critical to grounding your story in a solid screenplay structure. Learning how to successfully structure your screenplay can increase your odds of interesting agents, producers and studios in your work.

The workshop will cover the following:

  • What movies are really about

  • The main purpose of each of the three acts

  • Keys to creating a sympathetic hero

  • The structural importance of determining what your hero wants and needs

  • What constitutes an effective Inciting Incident

  • How to create a compelling first Plot Point

  • How to keep Act II moving

  • The critical thing Act III must come down to

And more…


Click here to receive Diane Drake's presentations.


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Melissa Edwards

Melissa Edwards joined Stonesong as a literary agent in August 2016. Previously, she was a literary agent at the Aaron Priest Literary Agency, where she managed the foreign rights for a 40-year backlist. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt Law School, Melissa began her career as a litigation attorney before transitioning into publishing. She is a tireless advocate for her clients and a constant partner during the publication process and beyond. Melissa represents authors of children’s fiction, adult commercial fiction, and select pop-culture nonfiction. She is looking for warm and timeless middle grade fiction and accessible young adult fiction. For adults, she is looking for fast-paced thrillers and smart women’s fiction. She can be found on Twitter @MelissaLaurenE, where she often tweets her active Manuscript Wishlist requests under #MSWL.


Contracts, Copyright, and Intellectual Property… Oh My! 

Attorney and literary agent Melissa Edwards wants to help shine some light on the legalities involved in publishing a book. She will give a rundown on basic copyright protection, before and after registration, and introduce you to the most important terms in a publishing contract. While no class can replace hiring an attorney to protect your rights, this class will act as a excellent publaw primer.


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Stephanie Hansen

Stephanie Hansen represents debut to New York Times bestselling authors. She’s signed authors with small presses to major publishing house distribution. She received her master’s in 2008 and creative writing specialization in 2017. Predominately she represents YA SF/F but has a secret addiction for romance. While these are her favorite, she handles everything fiction from children’s books to adult thrillers.

Previously an editor for Mind’s Eye Literary Magazine, she became a part of Metamorphosis in July 2016. Originally looking to help Midwest authors garner the attention of major publishing houses, despite residing in “flyover states,” she found camaraderie with multiple agents and editors.


Traditional Publishing: Insight from an Agent

An agent can give authors updates on an ever-changing industry, tips about the best-suited publishers for a particular book style, and legal advice about publishing contracts. During my journey as an agent, I've represented authors ranging from debut to bestselling, and have reviewed and negotiated multiple contracts. The knowledge I've gained along the way has prepared me to offer you tips and guidance in traditional publishing from an insider's perspective, so you'll know what to expect.


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Rachelle Gardner

Rachelle Gardner is an agent with Books & Such Literary Management, representing both fiction and nonfiction. In the publishing business since 1995, Rachelle previously worked for two publishing houses, and currently represents an impressive list of more than 60 bestselling and award-winning authors. She’s looking for mainstream commercial projects for both the Christian and general markets. An author with an understanding of platform and social media is always appreciated!


Book Proposals that Sell

Your book proposal is the tool that sells your book—first to an agent, then to a publisher. What makes a strong proposal? Why do we need proposals for fiction? We’ll look at all the elements, including:

  • How to write an attention-grabbing one-sentence hook.

  • How to summarize your book in one paragraph.

  • How to discuss the competition and include comparable books.

  • What author information you should include.

  • How to address marketing and platform in your proposal.

… and everything else you need to know to create a winning proposal.



Courtney Knight

Courtney Knight graduated from UNT with a Bachelor of Science degree in interdisciplinary studies. She went on to teach middle school where she found her love for the young adult genre. Courtney is a perfectionist who loves to work behind the scenes in formatting and web design. She believes that the interior formatting of a book should shine as much as the exterior does. Since entering the publishing world in 2011, Courtney has co-authored seven young adult novels and has since gone on to open Clean Teen Publishing. Courtney is committed to making her mark in the publishing world.


First Impressions Matter: On Queries

You’ve spent a lot of time working on your novel and now you’re ready to send it off to an agent or a publisher. The query email you send must be executed well to have any chance of being noticed among the hundreds of other queries. There’s little margin for error in this process. In this class you’ll learn the do’s and don’ts of query writing from two publishing industry professionals. Find out what it takes to get noticed and how to avoid the most common mistakes new and experienced authors make during the submissions process.


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Rhonda Penders

Rhonda is president and editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press. She and her business partner, RJ Morris, opened the company back in 2006. TWRP, as it is affectionately known, is home to authors worldwide and currently has over 3000 active titles. Although started as a romance only publisher, they opened their garden gate to adult mainstream fiction (including historical fiction, science fiction, erotica, thrillers, etc.) in 2013. They also publish YA, but do not currently work with children’s books or poetry. They publish in ebook format as well as print and audio. Rhonda lives in Upstate New York in a tiny hamlet nestled along the Erie Canal. She and her husband, Scott, have been married 32 years and have three adult sons, two cats, and an annoying spoiled Siberian husky. She enjoys writing, boating, cooking, and baking and is never happier than when all her sons are around her table.


Where Does the Story Start?

This workshop will be audience interactive.  Audience members are encouraged to bring their first five pages to the workshop.  We will work with as many as we can on why the beginning works or why it doesn’t.  The workshop will be positive, no one is “wrong or right” we will simply discuss what works and what might work better. The goal is to get your book off on the right foot so an editor will want more. 
Ally Robertson and Rhonda Penders will lead the workshop and will also answer questions the audience might have on starting your book off on the right page to keep an editor as well as readers wanting more.

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Ally Robertson

Ally Robertson is Editor of The Wild Rose Press’s Crimson Line, which houses the romantic suspense, mystery/suspense, and thriller genres.

Looking for: Any romance genre, general mainstream fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, suspense, sci-fi, paranormal, almost anything except nonfiction.


Where Does the Story Start?

This workshop will be audience interactive.  Audience members are encouraged to bring their first five pages to the workshop.  We will work with as many as we can on why the beginning works or why it doesn’t.  The workshop will be positive, no one is “wrong or right” we will simply discuss what works and what might work better. The goal is to get your book off on the right foot so an editor will want more. 
Ally Robertson and Rhonda Penders will lead the workshop and will also answer questions the audience might have on starting your book off on the right page to keep an editor as well as readers wanting more.

How to Know When Your Work Is Ready for an Editor

How to know when your work is ready for an editor is a workshop run by TWRP Crimson Rose Editor, Ally Robertson.  Ally will talk about things you can do to your own manuscript to help you know whether it is ready to submit to a publishing house or if you should do some more work on it.  There are certain things you can identify in your own work that will help you not only with your current work in progress but going forward in your writing.  Ally will answer questions from the audience as well.


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Melissa Ann Singer

Melissa Ann Singer has worked at Tor/Forge Books for more than thirty years. Before that, she spent several years at the Berkley Publishing Group. She is currently a Senior Editor as well as Manager of Editorial Operations, which means that in addition to editing, she builds procedures and does other things that keep the editorial department functioning. 

She has edited almost every genre or category of commercial fiction, with the exception of romance, and has dabbled in nonfiction editing. At the moment she is most interested in horror, thrillers/mysteries/suspense fiction, disaster novels, historical fiction, epic fantasy, and contemporary women’s fiction—particularly if the protagonist is 35 or older. 

She is very interested in non-traditional settings and diverse characters and is looking for under-represented voices. A native of NYC, she lives in a small apartment with a large cat, loves art museums and the theater, and has a raft of hobbies and interests that reflect her general nerdishness.


Writing Series Fiction

Learn about different types of series, different ways to pace a series, the importance of a bible (and what to put in it), and more, whether your series is planned from the start or began life as a standalone novel.

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Vivian Zabel

Vivian Zabel has been a member of OWFI since 2002 and the OWFI Grant Director since 2016. She was honored as the Lifetime Member in 2013.

She often presents workshops and sessions at conferences concerning writing around the nation, including the Alaska Writers Conference and the OWFI conference. As a former English and writing teacher, she finds the teacher in her continues to erupt. She has held workshops for different groups and for OWFI affiliates.

Vivian is the President/CEO of 4RV Publishing as well as a published author and editor. Her books include YA books The Base Stealers Club, Case of the Missing Coach, and Prairie Dog Cowboy. She has three children’s books released, I Like Pink, Where Did Panther Go? and A Baby Doll from Santy Claus. Other available novels are Stolen, Midnight Hours, and a book of short stories and one of poetry.

4RV Publishing is looking for well-written books for all ages, fiction and nonfiction. Details concerning genre and details of standards and guidelines can be found at the following website:


Mark Alpert

Mark Alpert is an author of internationally bestselling science thrillers and a contributing editor at Scientific American. In his long journalism career, he has specialized in explaining scientific ideas to readers and simplifying esoteric concepts such as extra dimensions and parallel universes. And now, in his novels, Alpert weaves cutting-edge theories and technologies into high-energy thrillers that make the science come to life.

A lifelong science geek, Alpert majored in astrophysics at Princeton University and wrote his undergraduate thesis on the application of Einstein’s theory of relativity to Flatland, a hypothetical universe with only two spatial dimensions. (The resulting paper was published in the Journal of General Relativity and Gravitation and has been cited in more than 100 scholarly articles.) After Princeton, Alpert entered the creative writing program at Columbia University, where he earned an M.F.A. in poetry in 1984. He started his journalism career as a small-town reporter for the Claremont (NH) Eagle Times, then moved on to the Montgomery (AL) Advertiser. In 1987 he became a reporter for Fortune Magazine, and over the next five years he wrote about the computer industry and emerging technologies. During the 1990s, Alpert worked freelance, contributing articles to Popular Mechanics and writing anchor copy for CNN's Moneyline show. He also began to write fiction, selling his first short story to Playboy in 1991.

In 1998 Alpert joined the board of editors at Scientific American, where he edited feature stories for the magazine and wrote a column on high-tech gadgets. With his love for science reawakened, he wrote his first novel, Final Theory, about Albert Einstein and his historic quest for the Theory of Everything. Published by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster in 2008, Final Theory was hailed as one of the best thrillers of the year by Booklist and the American Booksellers Association. Foreign rights to the novel were sold in more than twenty languages, Reader’s Digest condensed the book, and the movie rights were acquired by Radar Pictures, a Los Angeles film-production company.

Alpert continued the saga of the Theory of Everything in his second book, The Omega Theory, a gripping story about religious fanatics who try to trigger Doomsday by altering the laws of quantum physics. His next thriller, Extinction, focused on brain-computer interfaces and a collective intelligence that decides to exterminate the human race. His fourth novel, The Furies, told the story of an ancient clan who share a genetic mutation so shocking that its discovery changes the course of history. His 2016 thriller, The Orion Plan, described an extraterrestrial invasion of New York City. And his young adult trilogy—The Six (2015), The Siege (2016), and The Silence (to be published in July 2017)—is about six dying teenagers whose lives are “saved” when their minds are downloaded into U.S. Army robots. The Six earned extravagant praise from Booklist, School Library Journal, and Goosebumps author R.L. Stine and was nominated for the Cybils Awards.

Alpert lives in New York City with his wife and two non-robotic teenagers. He's a proud member of Scientific American's softball team, the Big Bangers. His next novel, Superhuman, will be published by St. Martin's Press in January 2019.


How to Write a Science Thriller

Plenty of readers love science, and plenty hate it. Well, maybe "hate" is too strong a word; to be more precise, these readers are afraid of science thrillers and science-fiction novels, worried that the books will be too difficult or boring or perhaps remind them too much of tenth-grade chemistry or physics. So how can you write about science in a way that appeals to both kinds of readers? Mark Alpert, author of science thrillers and Young Adult novels, will explain how to weave science and technology into suspense fiction: how to convey information without overwhelming the reader, how to fill a high-concept premise with human drama, and how to inject fascinating ideas and strong emotions into a fast-moving, high-stakes plot.

Putting Real Life in Your Fiction

When writing novels and short stories, fiction writers often start with an event from real life -- sometimes an intriguing news item, sometimes an incident from the writer's own experiences. The problem, though, is that the raw events taken from real life usually aren't fully formed stories with a gripping beginning, an exciting middle, and a satisfying end. Almost always, authors need to flesh out and fashion their descriptions of the events to create compelling fiction. Mark Alpert, an author of thrillers and Young Adult novels, will talk about how he's dealt with this issue in his books, and then take questions from the audience about their own efforts.


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Linda Apple

Linda Apple is a Mississippi gal whose roots run deep in the South. Her stories flow from generations of Southern women who shared their stories and their wisdom while cooking, enjoying meals together, and rocking on the front porch in the velvety, magnolia-perfumed evening breeze. From this rich heritage of storytelling and these memories, Linda’s path to writing was formed. 

She believes everyone has a story and that these stories matter. They are the thread that weaves humanity together and helps us to understand others. Her personal experience stories have been published in sixteen Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and she has two books, Writing Life ~ Your Stories Matter and Writing From Your Soul, that teach others to write their stories. She has taught workshops across the Midwest and East coast of the United States and in the United Kingdom.

She also tells her stories through fiction. Her books, Women of Washington Avenue and Avalee’s Gift, are the first two books in her Moonlight Mississippi series. She is currently working on book three. 

In addition to writing, she is also a motivational speaker. Her desire is to encourage, affirm, nurture talent, and equip people in order to help them achieve their goals and follow their dreams. 

She has served as president for the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc., and presently serves as the Arkansas Regional Speaker Trainer for Stonecroft. Linda and her husband, Neal, live in Northwest Arkansas. They have five married children and thirteen grandchildren.


Using Fiction to Tell the Truth

Our goal as writers is to connect with our readers and pull them into our story. We want bridge our experience to theirs in order for them to relate to our narrative. This is easily accomplished through fiction, but not so much in nonfiction, that is unless you use fiction techniques to tell the truth!

In this session we will cover:

  • What Creative Nonfiction is and what it isn’t

  • The importance of setting the tone and the mood

  • The six elements of fiction to use in nonfiction narratives

  • Finding stories

This is a workshop, so come prepared to write and share!

Writing From Your Soul

To inspire means to infuse with life, to produce or arouse a feeling or thought, to influence or impel, or to suggest by a divine or supernatural influence. Inspirational writers are writers with purpose. We want to make a worthwhile difference in the lives of our readers by inspiring them through our prose. Does this describe you? 

In this session we will cover:

  • The POV of inspirational writing

  • Finding stories using the LOWE principle

  • Advanced Creative Nonfiction techniques

This is a workshop, so come ready to write and share!


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William Bernhardt

William Bernhardt is the bestselling author of more than forty books, including the blockbuster Ben Kincaid series, the historical novel Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness, two books of poetry (The White Bird, The Ocean’s Edge), and a series of books on fiction writing. In addition, Bernhardt founded the Red Sneaker Writing Center in 2005, hosting writing workshops and small-group seminars and becoming one of the most in-demand writing instructors in the nation. His monthly Red Sneaker Writers Newsletter reaches over twenty thousand people, and the Red Sneakers phone app reaches many more. He is the only writer to have received the Southern Writers Guild’s Gold Medal Award, the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award (University of Pennsylvania) and the H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award (Oklahoma State), which is given "in recognition of an outstanding body of work that has profoundly influenced the way in which we understand ourselves and American society at large." In addition to his novels, he has written plays, a musical (book and music), humor, nonfiction, children books, biography, poetry, and puzzles. OSU named him “Oklahoma’s Renaissance Man,” noting that in addition to writing novels, he can “write a sonnet, play a sonata, plant a garden, try a lawsuit, teach a class, cook a gourmet meal, prepare homemade ice cream, beat you at Scrabble, and work the New York Times crossword in under five minutes.”


Dynamic Dialogue

The best dialogue brings your characters to life and reminds readers of their distinct qualities. This session will cover the importance of matching character and dialogue, of avoiding dialogue that’s “on-the-nose,” of using dialogue and dialogue beats to suggest what no one will say aloud, to quicken the pace, and to provide subtext that enhances and enriches your story.

Creating Character

Character development can be one of the most rewarding, but also one of the most challenging aspects of storytelling. This session will cover the essential elements of creating memorable characters, making readers care about them, making them three-dimensional and engaging, and using carefully chosen characterization to deepen and enrich your story.

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Jack Burgos

Jack Burgos is a 33-year-old author of transgressive, speculative fiction living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was born in Miami, Florida, the son of Colombian and Cuban immigrants. He graduated cum laude from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2007, with a B.A. in English, a B.A. in philosophy, a political science minor, and a concentration in creative writing. He graduated with an M.A. in clinical psychology from the University of Tulsa in 2013.

Jack co-founded the writing critique group Nevermore Edits in 2012, through which he continues to improve his craft. His work has been published in Happy Days, Sweetheart, Beyond the Nightlight, Now Playing in Theater B, Dark and Dangerous Things III, and The Book of Blasphemous Words. He edited Broken Worlds, published by A Murder of Storytellers. His series Stormborn debuted on May 1, 2017, with its first book, 13 Hearts to Start a Storm.

Jack serves as the webmaster for the Oklahoma Writers' Federation, Inc. and as the treasurer for Nevermore Edits. When he isn't engaged in writing-related activities, Jack proudly works as a home-based counselor in Youth Services of Tulsa's CARS program.

Sessions – How to Get Your Name on the World Wide Web

Everyone’s got a website nowadays, but how do you get yours? Jack Burgos, the webmaster for OWFI, A Murder of Storytellers, and Nevermore Edits, will demonstrate how to use tools available to anyone on the Internet to purchase your own domain and get started creating your own personal or professional website. Designed with beginners in mind, this presentation will showcase the tools that you’ll need in order to get your name on the Web quickly and beautifully.

Tales from Bedlam – Mental Illness in Storytelling

Madness and storytelling seem to go hand-in-hand, but storytellers don’t often do a good job painting people with mental illness fairly—or accurately. Popular fiction has taught us much of what we know about mental illness, and much of that information is either wrong or wildly outdated. Jack Burgos, a licensed professional counselor who works with juveniles, will clear up some of the confusion by highlighting several popular mental illnesses and breaking them down, helping you to create characters that are as intense as they are real.


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Arlene Gale

If it needs writing, Arlene Gale “The Book Writing Business Coach” can do it with her 30 years of professional writing and international speaking experience. Her writing services range from working with clients as a writing coach, accountability partner, or ghostwriter. She offers a full range of writing services, including editing, marketing, and best-seller campaigns. Arlene also helps authors create professional signature speeches and presentation materials. Through her passion for writing and her step-by-step writing program, Arlene works with professionals to write and market top quality books for leveraging their business expertise and growing their business. While Arlene specializes in writing nonfiction, she also coaches fiction writers. Arlene is responsible for helping clients win local, state, and national recognition. Her nonfiction book Face Forward Move Forward is a multiple international and national award winner. It was an “#1 Best New Release” and “#1 Best Seller,” both in four categories. During her extensive career, Arlene has written books for dozens of clients, more than a thousand magazine articles, hundreds of advertisements, multiple social media platform content, website content, and more. In 2016, the national SCORE office recognized Arlene’s writing business with a “Small Business Champions Award.” She has a B.S. in advertising/public relations, with a minor in radio, television, film and a master’s in marketing with a specialization in communications.


Legal and Business Considerations in Writing

You have a dream of getting published. Your focus is on the excitement of writing the story and the joy of bringing characters to life. But there are legal and business considerations, too. Some of the topics covered in this presentation are: The difference between sole proprietor, DBA (Doing Business As), LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) and how each translates into copyright protection, legal protection, and other business implications. Write under your own name versus a pseudonym. Protect your privacy as a published author. Finally, you have an agent/publisher contract in hand, but what do some of those legal terms mean anyway.

What is a Writing Coach and Why Might I Need One

Explore the services and benefits of having a professional, experienced writing coach who can take a writer from concept to manuscript, and beyond. Topics include how a writing coach helps with: setting goals and accountability to them; marketing before, during and after the book is written; teaching skills, and supporting the overall experience. It’s about editing for content and continuity, and just as important: marketability and sales potential. It’s about moving past talking about writing to getting the book written. It’s about movement from stuck in the writing process to finishing the book.

Tamara Grantham

Tamara Grantham is the award-winning author of more than half a dozen books and novellas. Dreamthief, the first book of her Fairy World MD series, won first place for fantasy in INDIEFAB’S Book of the Year Awards, and a RONE award for best New Adult Romance. It is also a #1 bestseller on Amazon in both the Mythology and Fairy Tales categories.

Tamara holds a bachelor’s degree in English. She has been a featured speaker at the Rose State Writing Conference, and she also been a panelist at Comic Con Wizard World. She collaborated with New York-Times bestselling author, William Bernhardt, in writing the Shine series.

Born and raised in Texas, Tamara now lives with her husband and five children in Wichita, Kansas. She rarely has any free time, but when the stars align and she gets a moment to relax, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, taking long walks, and watching every Star Wars or Star Trek movie ever made. You can find her online at


The Fantasy Formula: How to Build a Realistic Fantasy World

Websites, Newsletters, and Street Teams


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Vickey Malone Kennedy

Vickey Malone Kennedy—aka vck—won 1st Place in the Genre Fiction in the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition. She is also a former Darrell Award winner and an OWFI Crème de la Crème recipient.  

She received a BA in Theatre, Acting/Set Design from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, and continued her graduate studies in Theatre, Acting/Light Design at Oklahoma State University.

She is a former Editor-In-Chief of 4RV Publishing, former President of Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc., and a proud Yard Dog Press author.

A retire licensed nurse, vck is now a full time Science Fiction/Fantasy and Paranormal Romance Author, a full time Granny, and a part-time movie extra.


Story Building Blocks: The ABCs of Story Structure

15 easy steps to creating a simple story structure, and outline, you can use to build any, and every, story you ever want to write.

This session will include a PowerPoint presentation, props, and audience participation to create a story outline during the program.

Science Fiction Building Blocks

From artificial organs and limbs, to submarines, to computers and cell phones, Science Fiction has influenced Science Reality since its monstrous origins.

Thanks to SF’s influence we now live in a world where NASA has discovered several planets that may be habitable, and private companies are building spacecraft to ferry average citizens to the stars.

Can Science Fiction authors compete with the real scientific innovations of the future?


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Mariana Llanos

Mariana Llanos was born in Lima, Peru. Mariana developed an early passion for writing and reading, writing poetry, short stories, and plays all the way through school.  She studied theatre in the prestigious school CuatroTablas based in Lima and moved to Oklahoma in 2002. In 2013, she published her first book, Tristan Wolf, which won a finalist spot in the 2013 Readers’ Favorite Book Award and a spot in the 2013 Gittle List Independent Book Awards. Since then, she has published eight children’s books independently in English and Spanish. Her work geared toward an adult audience has appeared on Writer's Resist, Blackbirds Thirds Flight, and a Haunting of Words, among others. But Mariana’s real passion was ignited after discovering the magic of virtual technology. Using Skype and Google Hangouts, she has visited more than 150 schools in the United States and around the world. These visits allow Mariana to spread her love for reading and writing, as well as to promote understanding and cultural awareness. Recently, Mariana signed a contract with the publishing company Penny Candy Books for the publication of her new children's story, Luca's Bridge, which will be available next spring. Meanwhile, Mariana continues her work of visiting schools, enticing young minds with the magic of her children’s literature. In 2014 she won the Most Outstanding Latino Artist in Literature given by the Hispanic Arts Council of Oklahoma.  Mariana was awarded the 2017 Global Citizen Award in Arts by the World Experiences Foundation for her contribution to multicultural literature, and the 2017 Human Rights Award given by the United Nations Association of Oklahoma City, which recognizes individuals’ contributions to the principles of human rights. Also, she received the award as Best Artist of 2017 from the Hispanic Council of Oklahoma. Her books in English and Spanish can be found on or her website.


Secrets of a Hybrid Author

Aspiring authors are often asked if they want to self-publish or go the traditional route. I asked this myself years ago, but guess what? You don’t have to choose! You can be a self-published author and a traditional author. I will share my personal experience leaping from one to the other. We’ll talk about numbers and money in each industry. And also I will share my often funny big Do’s and Don’t’s “As Seen On Facebook”. Come in ready for a plethora of resources so you can make an informed decision.   

What Everyone Should Know About Multicultural Children’s Literature

In this session, we will discuss the importance and role of multicultural characters in today’s children’s literature. Through examples, I will show you how to craft characters that are authentic to their cultural background. We will also talk about resources in the industry for those who are crafting multicultural or diverse literature. #Ownvoices, #weneeddiversebooks and other movements will be explained. Bring your questions!


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Samantha March

Samantha March is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all-around book lover. She runs the book blog Chick Lit Plus, focusing on book reviews and author features. She currently has five published novels – Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket, A Questionable Friendship, Up to I Do and Defining Her, and one holiday novella, The Christmas Surprise, with her sixth novel due out in fall of 2017. Samantha created CLP Blog Tours in 2012 and has run over 500 online blog tours for authors, in addition to other book marketing services and also editing and proofreading services. You can also find Samantha on YouTube and Instagram as a beauty influencer, with a combined following of over 40,000 followers.


How to Effectively Use Social Media

What social media networks are best for authors to utilize, best tips and tricks on how to get started, how to grow an engaged following and how to convert book sales via social media.  Will also touch on how to find a balance of self-promotion and personal posts, and how to interact with followers.

How to Build a Platform

Discussing how to choose a platform, how to use social media to promote your platform awareness, and ideas of how to engage readers while directly focusing on your platform and personal goals. Will also touch on how to include the chosen platform into novels and future works.


Adriana Mather

Adriana Mather is a full-time writer, producer, and actor. She owns a production company called Zombot Pictures, which produces feature films, including the award-winning Honeyglue. She lives in Los Angeles, California. How to Hang a Witch was her first novel and Haunting the Deep will be released by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers in October 2017. Look for her on Twitter at @AdrianaMather and on Facebook at @AdrianaMatherauthor.


Making Book Trailers

Book trailers are amazing marketing and advertising tools, and a super fun way to let people know what your story is about. Explore the many ways to create a book trailer and learn tips and tricks to make it look movie quality.

Writing Suspenseful Plots

Well-timed reveals, secrets, and plot twists keep readers turning pages. Whether it's a contemporary drama or a high fantasy thriller, there are lots of creative ways to notch up the tension and craft a story into a real nail-biter.


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BJ McMinn

B.J. McMinn lives in N.E. Oklahoma with her husband of fifty-four years. She published her first book of a six-book series in 2007. Since then she has published ten novels, three novellas, and three instructional books for beginning authors.


Formatting for Kindle

This session will include how to format eBooks to be published on Amazon. We will discuss the importance of content and appearance along with information about copyrights, acknowledgements, dedications, and disclaimers. 

Publishing on Amazon

This session is designed to familiarize authors with the information which is required to open an account on Amazon and includes requirements for the book cover. We will discuss how to upload manuscripts, book covers, and how to enter data on royalties, book description, content, and personal information.

Please bring laptops and at least one chapter of your book to work on.


Adrean Messmer

Adrean Messmer is the penname of Connor Orion, a horror writer living in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a tiny human she put together from some spare parts and a technowizard husband. She has too many cats and a dog who's really a magician. Her earliest memory is watching The Amityville Horror with her mother. She grew up afraid of everything and her mother always taught her to share.


This Kills the Monster: Dissecting Horror

Dig down deep into the genre and uncover the bones that make a good horror story and the tropes that lead to doom. Learn how to find your fear and harness it to use against others.

The Red Write Hand: Fanfiction 101

If everything has already been said, then aren't we all just rewriting old stories? Learn how to embrace your inner fan, steal with style, and become a better writer.

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Tara Lynn Thompson

Tara Lynn Thompson is an Emmy and Addy award-winning writer and author of Not Another Superhero and Just Another Sidekick, the first two books in The Another Series. Starting her career as a newspaper beat reporter at age 19, Tara Lynn quickly moved into newspaper management within five years. After managing two Tulsa magazines, she launched her own creative content company, Tara Lynn Creative, running it for five years before taking a position in Oklahoma City as the senior creative writer for an advertising agency and moving into the position of manager of content strategy for a digital marketing agency. She has worked on national campaigns, written for national businesspeople and celebrities, taught as an adjunct professor, and makes frequent presentations on creative writing and marketing strategy to civic groups and businesses. She now works full-time as an author, teacher, contract creative writer and is currently working on her next book. You can connect with Tara Lynn on her website, or via Facebook at AuthorTaraLynnThompson.


Get Your Name in Print

How do you write articles for newspapers and magazines that will have editors seeking your talent and readers seeking your byline? In this class, you’ll learn how to write tight, write rich, and write gloriously for print, all while discovering what prompts editors to put you on their active freelance roster or even bring you in-house. 

A Writer for the Senses

Take your writing to a new, experiential level for your reader by engaging their senses. Enchant their imagination by learning how to use your five most natural tools to create a journey your reader will return to again and again. In this class, you’ll learn how to create more touchpoints between your writing and your readers, while also breathing more life and personal enjoyment into every writing project.


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Patrick von Wiegandt

Patrick von Wiegandt is a producer/engineer, writer, singer, and musician. His company, VW Tapes, records conferences and events all over the country—including many writer conferences. Check their website for a full listing. His most recent musical CDs—called Swanky—are tributes to the classic songs from the Jazz Age and the Great American Songbook (1920s to 1940s.) Swanky 1 was recorded with multi-Grammy winning producer/engineer Al Schmitt at Capitol Studios in Hollywood. His latest, Swanky at Abbey Road, was recorded in the Beatles famous Studio 2 at Abbey Road, London, with the great British jazz players. He’s currently finishing a new CD called Swanky Sings Fats Waller, also recorded at Abbey Road. He has written eight screenplays and many songs. Two of his latest screenplays have been considered by Fox and Imagine. Patrick has over 40 years of experience in the music, recording, and entertainment industry.


Songwriting Basics: Where Do Ideas Come From?

You don’t have to be a trained musician, composer, or writer in order to write a song. Please bring your ideas, partial songs, riffs, poems, or completed songs and join us as we discuss how to get these songs completed and ready to present to others.


Patrick von Wiegandt recorded each of our sessions, and you can find these recordings for sale on his website by clicking here.

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Hannah Joy Wilkinson

Hannah Joy Wilkinson is a part time compliance specialist at a local bank as well as a writer, blogger, and Bethany House book reviewer. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, before settling in McAlester, Oklahoma, with her beloved husband, Stan, and their two ornery cats. She enjoys spending time with God in His word with a good cup of coffee, discovering the joys of growing things in the garden, and reading too many books at one time. She has published numerous short stories full of fascinating history ranging from the time of ancient Israel’s judges to the Russian Night Witches of World War II. The Moor and the Maiden is her first Christian historical novel set in the time of the Crusades and debuts September 26, 2017.


Writing Christian Fiction

Christian fiction is not supposed to be merely wholesome stories with a sprinkle of God’s love. We will discuss how to create with the Creator stories that run headfirst into the painful, the difficult, and the dangerous. We as writers have an opportunity to tackle modern issues while offering hope through the truth of the Gospel.
Writing Historical Fiction

From the Chinese dynasties to the Roman gladiators, from the Tudor royalty to the Russian Night Witches of WWII, history is a trove of treasures. How can we delve deep into the past to write a compelling story? We will discuss the process from researching to writing and how to make history come alive to your reader!


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Erin York

Erin York is an author and editor in her late 20s. She received her B.A. in creative writing from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and her master's in education from the University of South Carolina. Her first collection of poetry, The Light You Cannot Touch, was published by Puff Puff in 2014 and won the international Author's Circle Award for Excellence in 2017. Currently, she is in her first year of her Ph.D. studies at the University of South Carolina; has co-authored a second collection of poetry, La Petite Mort, with renowned Chicago-based poet, Joseph Burrows; and has built a niche LGBTQ+ audience on where her first novel received over 75,000 reads (and counting). She co-owns Novel Edits, which helps emerging and well-known authors polish and publish their work and speaks nationally about writing, editing, and social media platforming. Follow her journey at to learn more.


Fanfiction: Fine or Fined?

From Harry Potter, to Tolkien, to the latest TV shows, let's face it; fanfiction is as fun as it is popular. But what exactly is it? And, once you begin writing fanfiction, how do you know that what you're doing isn't putting you at risk? In this session, we will define what fanfiction is and talk about the different platforms for publishing your fan work. We will also discuss how to build a readership from fanfiction that can carry over into the other kinds of writing that you do. We will close by exploring the various ways you can get PAID to write in the already-existing worlds that you and your readers love. For the love of all things nerdy, come have fun with us in this session! 

Publishing Your Poetry

Do you write poetry? Do you hope to publish your poetry? How do you know that publishers' solicitation of single poems or entire chapbooks can be trusted? In this session, we will walk through fine-tuning your poetry for publication, and we will identify the real publishers from the scammers. Additionally, we will touch on what to do once you've built up a roster of published poems. How do you take your writing to the next level? This session is directed for poets of any age and at any stage. Whether you're a seasoned poet or someone new to this specific type of word play, there's sure to be something in this session for you.