Keynote Speaker

Meg Gardiner.jpg

Meg Gardiner

Edgar-winning novelist Meg Gardiner writes thrillers. Fast-paced and full of twists, her books have been called “Hitchcockian” (USA Today) and “nail-biting and moving” (Guardian). They have been bestsellers in the U.S. and internationally and have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Into the Black Nowhere, her current title, is the second novel in the UNSUB series, featuring rookie FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix. The Minneapolis Star Tribune calls it “thrilling and un-put-downable.” Stephen King says, “Into the Black Nowhere. Excellent. You know the drill, bookstore near you. Buy now, thank me later.” The first novel in the series, UNSUB, is nominated for a Barry Award for Best Thriller, and has been optioned by CBS.

Meg was born in Oklahoma City and raised in Santa Barbara, California. She graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School. She practiced law in Los Angeles and taught in the Writing Program at the University of California Santa Barbara. Later she moved with her husband and three young children to London, where her first novel was published.

Beyond writing, Meg is a three-time Jeopardy! champion and a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. She lives in Austin, Texas.


Into the Black Nowhere • UNSUB • Phantom Instinct • The Shadow Tracer • Ransom River • The Nightmare Thief • The Liar’s Lullaby • The Memory Collector • The Dirty Secrets Club • Kill Chain • Crosscut • Jericho Point • Mission Canyon • China Lake


China Lake won the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original. Later it was a finalist for NPR’s 100 Best Thrillers Ever. • The Dirty Secrets Club was chosen one of the Top Ten thrillers of 2008 by Amazon and won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Procedural Novel of the year. • The Nightmare Thief won the 2012 Audie Award for Thriller/Suspense audiobook of the year. • The Shadow Tracer was named one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2013. • Phantom Instinct was chosen one of “The Best Books of Summer” by O, the Oprah magazine. • UNSUB is nominated for the 2018 Barry Award for Best Thriller. 


Paul Levine.jpg

Paul S. Levine

Paul S. Levine “wears two hats”—he is a lawyer and a literary agent.

Mr. Levine has practiced entertainment law for over 35 years, specializing in the representation of writers, producers, actors, directors, composers, musicians, artists, authors, photographers, galleries, publishers, developers, production companies and theatre companies in the fields of motion pictures, television, interactive multimedia, live stage, recorded music, concerts, the visual arts, publishing, and advertising.

In 1998, Mr. Levine opened the Paul S. Levine Literary Agency, specializing in the representation of book authors and the sale of motion picture and television rights in and to books. Since starting his literary agency, Mr. Levine has sold over 150 adult, young adult, and children’s fiction and non-fiction books to at least 50 different publishers and has had many books developed as movies-for-television, television series, and feature films.


Go from Fingers to Keyboard to Dollars in the Bank

Paul S. Levine will discuss four ways authors make money from book publishers. Often times, beginning writers have very little idea how they can go from slaving away on their keyboards at night and on weekends to actually quitting their day job.

Paul will also discuss ways in which authors make money from publishers, and ways publishers try not to pay, or try to postpone paying for as long as possible. Of course, there are other ways in which authors make money from their books by being paid by third-parties other than their publishers, such as the “sale” of movie and television rights to their books to “Hollywood”, but that’s the subject of another session.


EDITOR - Ally Robinson.jpg

Ally Robertson

Ally Robertson, from Edmond, Oklahoma, has been with The Wild Rose Press since they opened in 2006. She is also a freelance editor and author, with more than twenty-five published titles. She’s partial to all things dark and scary. However, she’s not scary at all. She loves authors and enjoys helping them realize their dreams. One of the best perks of her job is meeting new people and discovering fabulous new stories. She adores editing, writing, reading, Elvis Presley, the MLB, and watching her favorite television shows—which she calls 'research' so it doesn't seem as though she’s wasting time.


Fine-Tuning Your Manuscript Before Submitting (Or Self-Publishing):

Editor Ally Robertson will provide some tips on how to fine-tune your manuscript so that it’s agent/editor-ready. Whether you are submitting or self-publishing, you want your story to be as professional and polished as possible. Learn about dialogue punctuation, why you shouldn’t use so many dialogue tags, dangling modifiers, eliminating excess, repetitive, and unnecessary words, and more.

Melissa Ann Singer

Melissa Ann Singer is a Senior Editor at Tor/Forge Books, part of the Macmillan publishing group. Born and raised in New York City, she began reading at three (according to family lore), started reading comics when she was six, and started reading science fiction and fantasy when she was eight. She reads just about every kind of genre fiction there is, from sf/f/horror to romance, from westerns to mysteries, from the pulp era up to the modern day. This, as it turns out, is good training for being a genre fiction editor. New York is good at giving people a grounding in arts and culture, which means Melissa has been going to the theater and to dance performances for a very long time, and on most summer Friday afternoons can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She also loves baseball (the Mets) and assorted Olympic sports. In her 20s and 30s, she spent about ten years studying theatrical combat and could sometimes be spotted running through Central Park, a sword in hand. 

In fiction, Melissa is looking for works for adult readers only, and only for novels. She is interested in all types of fantasy but prefers adventure fantasy over most subgenres. In science fiction, she is looking for space opera and space exploration/adventure, first or second contact novels, and for sociological science fiction that addresses the impact of technology on humanity. In horror, all genres and subgenres are welcome, both supernatural and non-supernatural. Melissa is also looking for mysteries (no cozies and nothing humorous), preferably with professional investigators (PIs, LEOs, attorneys, scientists), for suspense novels (whistleblowers, embezzlement, theft, sabotage, bad business dealings, family suspense, etc.) and for medical or science-based thrillers as well as disaster novels (natural or man-made). No terrorism or political thrillers, sorry. 

Melissa is also looking for narrative nonfiction, again at book length and for adult readers, but not for memoirs.

In any of the areas mentioned, writers (and characters) from marginalized or under-represented populations are welcome, including non-Western and non-Christian inspirations and elements. 


Instant Feedback on Your Opening Scene

Bring the first 3-5 pages of the beginning of your book (arrangements will be made to gather these anonymously). Melissa Ann Singer will read aloud and provide feedback intended to help you create an opening scene that will catch and hold the attention of the reader. Include genre/subgenre and title on first page.

Shannon Iwanski.jpg

Shannon Iwanski

Award-winning author Shannon Iwanski is the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Inkubus Publishing, an editor for A Murder of Storytellers, and a founding member of the critique group Nevermore Edits. In 2014, he realized his childhood dream when his debut novel Ride the Train was published. Since then, Shannon has published another novel, multiple short stories, four novellas, and three anthologies. When not alternating between cursing and thanking his overactive muse, he enjoys reading comic books and collecting way too much geeky memorabilia. Shannon lives in Tulsa, OK with his husband, four dogs, two cats, and a bird.


People First Language: Shaping Readers' Perceptions of Characters

As authors, we know the importance of describing characters in order to make them come alive.  If used correctly, it can also quickly convey information that doesn't require lengthy descriptions. However, what we may not realize is that we could be unintentionally giving readers preconceived perceptions of the characters. Shannon Iwanski will discuss the philosophy of People First Language and how it can be used in writing.


SPEAKER - Angela Archer.jpg

Angela Christina Archer

Angela Christina Archer is an author of Sweet and Spicy Romances from Yesteryear. Her titles range in different historical time periods, including the Civil War, the Klondike and Nevada Gold Rushes, the Great Depression, and the Salem Witch Trials. For more information visit her website at

Growing up in Nevada, reading was always a pastime that took second place to trail riding and showing horses. When she did find the time to curl up with a book, she found enjoyment in the Saddle Club Series, the Sweet Valley High series, and the classics of Anne of Green Gables, The Box Car Children, and Little House on the Prairie. Although, writing always piqued her curiosity, it wasn’t until September 2009 that she worked up the courage to put her passion to paper and started her debut novel. With a love of history, the genre picked her, she didn't pick the genre.

When she’s not writing, Angela spends her days as a stay at home, homeschooling mom. She lives on a small farm in Newcastle, Oklahoma with her husband and their two daughters. Her hobbies include gardening, taking care of her many farm animals, and baking and cooking from scratch. While she doesn't show horses anymore, she still loves to trail ride with her daughters.

Life certainly is hectic, at times, but she wouldn't have it any other way.


Elements and Rules of Writing Historical Novels

Historical novels draw readers into another time and era. A time in history when people lived without electricity, fought in wars for their country, panned for gold, lived among Dukes and Duchesses, battled rival clans in the Highlands, or explored a new frontier either on foot or by Viking long ships. In this discussion we will dig into the elements and rules for writing in the Historical genre.

The Best of Both Worlds: Being a Hybrid Author

Are you a traditional published author who is interested in self-publishing? Or are you a self-published author interested in traditional publishing? Explore the pros and cons to both and what it means to be a Hybrid Author.

Cecelia Wilson

For more than a decade, Batesville, Arkansas native Cecelia Wilson has been the Feature Writer for Searcy Living magazine where she penned articles introducing readers to governors, senators, Grammy Award-winning musicians, and individuals from all walks of life.  Currently residing in central Arkansas, Cecelia is a graduate of Batesville High and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Cecelia will be hosting two sessions: the first focusing on the backstory of her non-fiction, WWII book, Back to Bremen.  The second session will center on the art of writing, gaining confidence and practice in your art, and the persistence and work needed to find a publisher. Connect with Cecelia on Facebook.

About the Subject, Edith Harris

Joining Author Cecelia Wilson will be Arkansas resident Edith Röpke Harris.  Edith’s childhood in Nazi Germany is the basis for the book Back to Bremen, and Cecelia tells the story through Edith’s voice as a child.  Back to Bremen was published on Edith’s 81st birthday.

About the Book

Back to Bremen depicts the true, World War II story of Marta Röpke, a common mother who risks everything to see that her children survive the war that has come to her doorstep.  The story is a vivid reminder that war creates countless victims, but a mother’s love can turn a common woman into a heroine. Learn more at

SPEAKER - CM Healy.png

C.M. Healy

C.M. Healy currently lives in Texas with his wife, dog, and two giant cats where he taught seventh grade science. When he's not busy writing, he enjoys building Lego sets, playing video games, reading comic books (The Flash is his favorite), and watching TV with his best buddy, his wife. He earned the distinguished award of Eagle Scout during high school and went on to obtain his masters in child development from Oklahoma State University. He has been working with and entertaining children of all ages ever since.

P.S. He loves to wear FUN SOCKS to his events so ask him to show you ;-)


Being Self-Published, but Looking Professional

Publishing a book is easy nowadays, however, making it a viable income is anything but. To do that, you have to look professional. Find out what it takes to build your work (even if you’re already finished) piece by piece to look like a book you’d find on a shelf at Barnes and Noble from a traditional publisher. Cover design, ISBNs, barcodes, catalogue code and more will all be discussed as you learn how to take your book to the next level.

Self-Published Marketing: Doing It on Your Own

This workshop is designed to cover various marketing tips for the SP author who may have a little help but is doing it mostly on their own. Discussion will include how to get reviews, having a website, an email newsletter (and getting those emails), various social media outlets, and a few more tips. There’s an enormous amount of stuff out there, come find your focus and figure out what’s going to work for you.

Eric Reitan

Eric Reitan, a philosophy professor at Oklahoma State University, has won numerous writing awards, including the Outstanding Writer Award at the Rose State Writers’ Conference and the Crème-de-la-Crème Award of the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. His short stories have appeared in numerous venues including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Gamut, Deciduous Tales, and the Alien Invasion anthology from Flame Tree Press. His nonfiction books include Is God a Delusion? (named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2009), God’s Final Victory: A Comparative Philosophical Case for Universalism (with John Kronen), and most recently The Triumph of Love: Same-Sex Marriage and the Christian Love Ethic.


There’s No Such Thing as Writer’s Block

Every writer at some point has found themselves in the following situation: we sit down to write but the words don’t flow. It’s easy to slap the “writer’s block” label on it, but it’s an empty label. It tells us nothing about why we’re stuck. What we need if we want to get back to writing is a diagnosis that can help us devise a treatment plan. In this session we’ll consider a range of reasons why writers find themselves staring at a blank page, and then discuss strategies for moving forward.

 Openings that Don’t Suck (But Do Suck You In)

What do great openings have in common? What catches and keeps a reader’s attention? What inspires them to stop reading? In this session we’ll use examples from fiction and nonfiction to help identify some of the basic elements of strong openings, from opening lines to opening pages. Then, we’ll consider a helpful “don’t” list—things to avoid—but with a twist. Instead of just thinking about what makes such openings prone to failure, we’ll consider how to transform such “bad” opening gambits into something awesome.

Grace Wagner

Grace Wagner is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Houston. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Colorado Denver where she studied with Wayne Miller, Nicky Beer, and Brian Barker. She has also attended the New York Summer Writers Institute where she studied with Carolyn Forché, Cambell McGrath, Rosanna Warren, and Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. She currently works for Gulf Coast and has previously worked for Copper Nickel as Assistant Poetry Editor. Her poetry has been featured in Salmagundi Magazine.


An Introduction to Poetry of Witness and Documentary Poetics

Elie Wiesel said, “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.” Poetry is an extraordinary vehicle for remembering the past, both within living memory and farther back beyond the experience of modern day. Whether research based, as with documentary poetics, or experience based, as with Poetry of Witness, the power of poetry to reify the experience of trauma is integral in a world composed of and defined by trauma. Whether witness to genocide, natural disaster, or the more personal trauma of domestic violence, poetry can ensure that events are not forgotten and create empathy for the experiences of the Other. In this brief introduction to Poetry of Witness and Documentary Poetics, we will trace the history of poetry of witness and become familiar with contemporary poets of witness. We will also define what it means to be a poet of witness and how we can bear witness to traumatic events in our own lives through our poetry.

The Technical Side of Poetry: An Introductory/Intermediate Workshop on Poetic Devices and Form

Basho once said, “In my view a good poem is one in which the form of the verse and the joining of its parts seems light as a shallow river flowing over its sandy bed.” While poetry is often considered to be a highly emotional art, a poem cannot be truly great without an appreciation and understanding of form. Although not all poems are as intensely formal as a sonnet, they all use poetic devices and form to enhance content. This workshop will provide an introduction to several poetic devices and concepts of form that can be utilized in your own work. From free verse to the sonnet, we will examine how form enacts content and how it can be used to further communicate the poet’s meaning.

SPEAKER - Jennifer McMurrain.jpg

Jennifer McMurrain

Jennifer McMurrain is a full-time mother, wife, and writer. She has won numerous awards for her short stories and novels, including hitting #1 on the Amazon Best Seller list with her debut novel, Quail Crossings, being a 3rd place finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards for her paranormal romance novel, Winter Song, and winning the paranormal category of the 2017 IDAs for her romance, Summer’s End.  She has six full length novels and seven book collaboration published. She lives in Bartlesville, Oklahoma with her family. You can find more information at


All Things E-book: The art of e-book writing, formatting, and public relations

For most published authors e-books pay the bills. Find out the tips and tricks to making your e-book stand out with your writing, formatting, and marketing.  

Book Cook: How to Bake the Perfect Book

Perfect way to introduce the art of writing to the new novelists. As the Book Cook, Jennifer will walk you through the steps of novel writing with this interactive and fun presentation.

John T. Biggs

John T. Biggs describes himself as a regional writer whose region is somewhere west of the Twilight Zone. His work blends speculative fiction with a literary style and frequently includes Native American mysticism. 

Sixty of John’s short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies that vary from literary to young adult speculative fiction and everything in between. Some of these stories have won regional and national awards including Grand Prize in the Writers Digest 80thannual competition, third prize in the Lorian Hemingway short story contest, aStoryteller Magazine’s People’s Choice Award, and an OWFI Crème de la Crème Award. 

John has published four novels: Owl Dreams,Popsicle Styx (Oklahoma Book Award Finalist) Cherokee Ice (Oklahoma Book Award Finalist & OWFI Best Published Fiction Book of 2015), and Shiners(OWFI Best Published Fiction book of 2017)as well as a linked short story collection, Sacred Alarm Clock, which includes the OWFI Crème de la Crème winning story, “Twenty Percent Off”.  His series post-apocalyptic novellas,Clementine a song for the end of the world was released in mid 2018.

The best way to see what John is up to is on his Facebook page. You can also find John on Twitter or his Amazon Author page.


Let Magic Realism Work its Spell on Your Fiction

Human beings are hard wired to believe in the supernatural. Many of us check our daily horoscopes. Some of us have paid money for psychic readings. Most of us have had a lucky charm at one time or another or a ritual we went through before a big event. Even if we don’t believe in any of those things 100%, we still let them influence our lives. Hard core realists feel a chill if they hear footsteps where no one is supposed to be. Atheists don’t tell friends not to pray for them while wait for the results of a biopsy. Everyone has had a life altering event—a missed connection, a chance encounter, a disaster avoided by a matter of seconds—something that seemed more a product of fate than coincidence.

Incorporating a bit of magic into your narrative will make your characters more memorable, especially if you are writing stories that include diverse individuals with cultural norms different from your target audience. Whether you are writing literary fiction like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, science fiction like Robert Heinlein, or westerns like Craig Johnson, your readers will love you for it.

Writing by the Seat of Your Pants

People developed a hunger for stories long before anyone could read and write. They sat around campfires or in long houses or in tipis and listened while someone skilled at telling lies entertained them. Some of those old tales were told over and over, but the best storytellers never told them exactly the same way twice. They knew the secret to keeping listeners interested was to make them wonder what would happen next. And one tried and true method of keeping an audience in suspense was for the storyteller to be in suspense too.

When we put that kind of story on paper, we call it writing by the seat of your pants. Rather that devote the creative process to producing a detailed outline, writers sit back and spin themselves a narrative. They are often even more surprised than the reader at how things work out. 

This workshop recommends beginning with a firm idea of who your main characters are, but with a very general idea of the plot and a flexible concept of the ending. The story moves forward one scene at a time. Unexpected twists and turns come to writers when they least expect it and these insights give the narrative an edge that’s difficult to achieve with meticulously planned work.

SPEAKER - Rene Gutteridge.jpg

Rene Gutteridge

Rene Gutteridge is the award-winning and best-selling author of twenty-four multi-genre novels and is a seasoned collaborator in both fiction and film. She has novelized six screenplays and movies, including Old Fashioned, with writer/director Rik Swartzwelder. Her romantic comedy with screenwriter Cheryl McKay, Never the Bride, won the Carol Award for Best Women’s Fiction.  Her additional titles include two more novelizations with Cheryl McKay, Love’s a Stage and O Little Town of Bethany. Her seven suspense books include Possession, Misery Loves Company, Ghost Writer and Escapement.  Her newest book, about Santa Claus, will release in December of 2019.

Her indie film, the comedy SKID, was deadCenter Film Festival’s Best Oklahoma Feature Film Winner in 2015 and also won Best Oklahoma Feature at Red Dirt and Trail Dance. She is a creative consultant on Boo, a script based on her beloved novel series, which is in development at Sodium 11 Entertainment with Andrea Nasfell (Moms’ Night Out) as screenwriter. Her novel My Life as a Doormat was adapted into a Hallmark film called Love’s Complicated which premiered in January of 2016 and scored 2.1 million viewers opening weekend.  She is the head writer for The Skit Guys.

Find her on Facebook and Twitter or at her website,


Screenwriting for Novelists

How to Think like a Screenwriter and Adapt your Novel.  Novelists tend to excel at many forms of writing, from poetry to periodicals to even narrative non-fiction, because their strength is in the creative process and their love is in story.  But one form of writing, the screenplay, tends to be exceptionally difficult for novelists to adapt to.  Rene will show you the vast differences between the two forms of writing, and how novelists can switch their thinking in order to make the transition from manuscript to screenplay much easier.

The Screenwriting Life

The Business and Realities of Screenwriting in Independent Filmmaking.  Rene spent twenty years working as a novelist, and still writes books, but her transition into screenwriting (her first love and what she diligently studied in college), proved to be as challenging as it was rewarding.  Rene will lift the veil and reveal the realities of what it's like to work as an independent filmmaker and screenwriter, and how connecting to your local filmmaking community, rather than a big studio, can make a difference in the advancement of your ambitions.

SPEAKER - Robin Patchen.jpeg

Robin Patchen

Robin Patchen is one of the authors of 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing, an in-depth guide to self-editing. She is a multi-published award winning author and freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction who was nominated to be ACFW's 2018's Editor of the Year. As a general editor with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina's Smitten line and a freelance copyeditor for Serenade Press, she has the privilege of working with exceptionally talented romance and historical romance authors. Patchen loves mentoring new authors and helping established authors polish their books. She enjoys reading and editing almost every clean YA and adult genre.

For more information about Robin Patchen, visit her website at


Small Edits, Big Impact: Literary Devices and Simple Tricks to Improve your Prose

Has your critique partner ever "fixed" a great piece of your writing because it wasn’t grammatically perfect? Maybe you were using a rhetorical device and didn’t even know it. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to use rhetorical devices—which often don’t follow rules—and other simple tricks to improve the emotional impact of your stories. Because great prose transcends voice and genre, examples of the different devices will be taken from speeches, literature, and movies to illustrate how they can be used in all kinds of writing.

Writing when Life Gets in the Way 

Do you often set your writing aside to make room for urgent projects? Do you find it difficult to write when life has been physically challenging or emotionally draining? Learn to meet your writing deadlines—external and self-imposed—despite the distractions, difficulties, and dramas that come your way.

SPEAKER - Sabrina Fish.jpg

Sabrina A. Fish

Sabrina A. Fish is the award-winning author of the adult fantasy romance series, The Gate Keeper Chronicles as well as several YA novellas in the multi-author Shine series. She loves all things chocolate and her husband is sweet enough to never let the candy dish near her computer become empty.

Born and raised in Oklahoma, she considers the three years she spent in a Texas high school to be a short trip down the rabbit hole that ended at graduation. She returned to Oklahoma where she received her Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma. BOOMER SOONER. She owns a trophy/award company with her husband and son in Oklahoma City.

When she isn't writing, promoting her novels, or running her company, she can be found reading, scrapbooking, or spending quality time with her family. To find out more about Sabrina and her books, visit her website.


Fantasy World Building: Where to Begin

In this workshop, award-winning fantasy & romance author, Sabrina A. Fish will walk you through the key questions you need to ask yourself when beginning to craft a new world for  your fantasy story.

Building an Author Platform: Before & After Publication

Whether published or not, all authors need to begin building and/or continue building their author platform. In this workshop, award-winning author, Sabrina A. Fish, will talk about ways to start building your platform from scratch as well as ways to continue building on that platform after publication.