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Singer-Songwriter & Novelist

As a singer/songwriter, Mike Blakely has released 13 albums, performed all over the U.S. and has made 16 tours to Europe. His songs have been recorded by Alan Jackson, Gary P. Nunn, Red Steagall, Flaco Jimenez and Raul Malo, Walt Wilkins & The Mystiqueros, john Arthur martinez, Randy Brown, Geronimo Trevino III and Johnny Rodriguez, Johnny Bush, Jon Chandler, Bill Barwick and others. 


As an author, he has published 20 books with major New York City publishers. He won the Spur Award for Best Western Novel awarded by Western Writers of America. Mike is currently working on the sequel to A SINISTER SPLENDOR, which was released in February 2018.

OCW is honored that Mike agreed to be our Friday evening entertainment artist. You won't want to miss him! 


Forget the Major Recording Labels and Big Stars! 

Write, Perform and Record Your Own Songs.  You'll get the whole pie, not just a slice!" Mike will cover actual songwriting, from inspiration to the all-important element of craftsmanship. He will also talk about how the songwriter's market has drastically changed in recent decades.


Amazon Best Selling Author

J.C. Fields is the author of the award-winning suspense novels The Sean Kruger Series. His book, A Lone Wolf is a #1 Best Selling Audiobook. The second book in the series, The Last Insurgent, gained Amazon #1 New Release status in January 2021.

With a degree in Psychology, five years in the computer industry and a long career of dealing with individuals possessing quirky personalities, J.C. has incorporated these experiences into his writing.

The Sean Kruger novels have won numerous awards, most recently three gold Readers' Favorite medals and one silver.

He is a full member in The Missouri Writers' Guild and is active in numerous other writing groups. He is also one of the featured authors for the Youtube Podcast Fear from the Heartland, with host Paul J. McSorley. He lives with his wife, Connie and their attack cat, Asia, in Southwest Missouri.


Smart Marketing Tips for the Indie Author

How to beat the odds and earn more royalties on Amazon. With one million books being published each year and over half being self-published, how does an Indie Author rise above the masses and get their book noticed? Discussion will center around the use of three techniques that have proven successful for J.C. Fields and many other self-published authors.


Taking Your Book to Audio

Audiobooks have been the fastest growing segment in book publishing since 2012. It is projected to be a $19 billion industry by 2027 with only 20% of book consumers listening to the format. What does this mean for the Indie Author? Audiobooks are an essential part of an author’s portfolio. Learn how to take your book to audio and avoid missing out on this huge opportunity.

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Author / Humorist

The youngest of four boys, Russell was one of those “accidents” that happen 10 years after a couple decides to stop having children. His parents had lived through the Great Depression and World War II and instilled a strong belief in the values of integrity, hard work, faith and family.

He began writing at an early age, primarily songs and poems. In his early 50s, he learned he had a knack for writing humor. This seemed to come naturally since he spent his youth feeding his brain a constant diet of cartoon and comedy shows like Rocky & Bullwinkle, Green Acres, and Gilligan’s Island. His heroes were people like Jonathan Winters, Patrick McManus, and Dave Barry. From them he learned that writing humor isn't as easy as it seems. There is an art to it. 

He lives with his wife, Connie, in what they consider a small slice of heaven in Northwest Arkansas where his great-grandfather homesteaded in the 1890s.


Make Your Readers Laugh WITH You, Not AT You

Whether you plan to write a comedic short story, novel, or just inject a few funny lines in a mainstream work of fiction, this presentation provides tips and tools to help overcome the fear (they won’t think I’m funny) often associated with writing humor. Attendees will learn how to create characters with strong comedic perspectives and how to use the powers of exaggeration and illogical comparisons to keep the audience in stitches.


Personal Branding & You

What do people think of when they hear your name or see your photo? This is your personal brand. Participants are given tools such as a Values Self-Assessment Worksheet and guidelines for creating a 25-second Personal Introduction. Tips on building your brand, content marketing, and the importance of brand advocates are also covered.


Artist / Illustrator

Dylan Hale has been creating works of art ever since he was four years old. His passion for all things artistic has led him down some interesting paths in his career, including cake decorator, muralist, designing advisor, teacher, and most recently, an illustrator with Oghma Creative Media.

​Graduating with his BFA in Art Education from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Dylan jumped headfirst into the teaching world. In Bentonville, he currently teaches Digital Design & Photography to high school juniors and seniors.

As an artist his work contains a variety of styles and techniques, from intriguing drawings to twisted sculptures. Although he is comfortable with any media, his favorites are pen & ink, watercolors, and printmaking when he finds time.


Word & Picture: History & Concepts in Illustration

Dylan will cover a broad range of topics dealing with illustration. What illustration is & how did it start? What does the illustration process look like from beginning to end? What is going through an illustrator’s head as they are creating. He will also be discussing the author-illustrator relationship and what kinds of roles are involved in that relationship.

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Young Adult SciFi Author

Observe this grotesque human face. See how his repulsive mouth bones shine in the light. This is the face of human author Michael Hilton just before he was captured by High Command scouting bots. On the day of his planned execution, our interrogators discovered the pathetic creature's ability to compile fictional human texts. He clings to the belief that these compilations, which his species calls "books," have the ability to change lives. A laughable theory if we possessed a sense of humor. What he sees as a way to elevate and unite the human experience, we see as propaganda tools to conquer and enslave humanity. Michael used to live in Texas, but now resides in the brig of our ship, where he is forced to write for us constantly or face the incinerator. His first book, Bobby Robot, has infiltrated your markets. It is filled with subliminal pro-robotic messages to infect your mind. Your destruction is imminent. 



Science Fiction is the Best Fiction: How to Write Compelling Sci-Fi
Michael Hilton has traveled the universe, studying alien civilizations, bizarre life forms, and robotic societies, to share his findings on how to write the best science fiction our galaxy has ever seen. Unfortunately, he perished in a freak wormhole collapse while traveling between star systems. Do not worry, though. We’ve painstakingly cloned his body and given him all the notes we could find from Michael’s doomed voyage. So join our bizarre genetic experiment to learn how to create believable sci-fi universes, integrate advanced technology into your story, and craft compelling narratives that take advantage of the sci-fi medium.

Mom, Get Out of My Room, I’m Writing YA Fiction: How to Channel Your Inner Young Adult
Angsty emotions. The butterflies of first romances. Messy journeys of self-discovery. Yep, sounds like Young Adult literature! Join Michael Hilton, a former young adult, as he goes over the fundamental building blocks of YA fiction, helps you reconnect to your youth, and teaches you to channel your inner YA protagonist. This session is guaranteed to make you feel 10-50 years younger!

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Adventure, Thriller & Suspense Author

Tierney James decided to become a full-time writer after working in education for over thirty years. Besides serving as a Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and attending Space Camp for Educators, Tierney served as a Geo-teacher for National Geographic. Her love of travel and cultures took her on adventures throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. From the Great Wall of China to floating the Okavango Delta of Botswana, Tierney weaves her unique experiences into the adventures she loves to write. Living on a Native American reservation and in a mining town, fuels the characters in the Enigma and Wind Dancer series. Now with over sixteen books under her belt, Tierney feels there is no stopping her now.


After moving to Oklahoma, the love of teaching continued in her marketing and writing workshops along with the creation of educational materials and children’s books. She likes to tell people a little lipstick and danger makes the world go round. Speaking at conferences, book clubs, school functions, church and community groups are a few of the things Tierney enjoys doing when not writing her next adventure. She also helps beginning writers in their quest to becoming a published author through her workshops and classes. Family, an adopted dog and gardening fill her life with plenty of laughter to share with others.


Tierney has been an Amazon #1 Best Selling author and won numerous awards for her work



Discover ways to ignite the fires of conflict, action and suspense with Amazon Best Selling author Tierney James. She will give you some tips, tricks and sure-fire ways to make your novel a cliffhanger as you navigate the art of keeping readers coming back for that gripping conclusion. So, buckle up.



According to Amazon Best Selling author Tierney James, there is more to writing romance than rich boy meets poor girl and falls in love, followed by a happily ever after. She likes to mix it up with lots of complications, strange partners that seem impossible and even a touch of suspense to make the crooked path to love worth the sacrifice. 

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Nonfiction Author

MARY-LANE KAMBERG is a professional writer, editor, and speaker. She specializes in nonfiction, but also writes short fiction and poetry. She has written more than 30 books for middle school and high school libraries. Her articles have appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Marriage and Family Living, Christian Science Monitor, Healthy Kids and many others. 

She has a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Kansas and is an avid basketball fan. She is a former coach for the Kansas City Blazers swim team. She lives in Olathe, Kansas.



Getting Down to Business -

Trade and association publications are little known outside the industries they serve, but they are usually well supported with advertising and subscriptions. They're unlikely to go out of business suddenly, leaving the writer unhappy and unpaid. Too, once a writer breaks in, he or she is likely to get further assignments. This presentation covers how to break in and write for these types of publications, as well as such topics as finding sources, researching hot topics, and learning industry vocabulary and jargon. Mary-Lane Kamberg's business articles have appeared in the Kansas City Star, Kansas City Business Journal, Hydro Review, Produce Merchandising, Veterinary Economics, Transaction Trends, and Women in Business. 


Writing Nonfiction for Young Readers

Young adult and middle age readers read to learn, and nonfiction books are where they turn for information (after the Internet!) Choose a topic, do the research, organize the material and write! Learn how to write for the educational market. Mary-Lane Kamberg has written more than 30 nonfiction books for middle school and high school libraries, as well as dozens of articles for magazines for young readers.


Historical Fiction Author

ANTHONY WOOD, a native and descendant of Mississippi pioneers, resides with his wife, Lisa, in North Little Rock, AR. He ministered for many years in inner city neighborhoods among the poor and homeless, inspiring him to co-author, Up Close and Personal: Embracing the Poor, a book about his work in Memphis, TN.


Anthony is a member of White County Creative Writers, Turner’s Battery, a Civil War reenactment company, and Civil War Roundtable of AR. Two novels in his historical fiction series, A Tale of Two Colors, White & Black and Gray & Blue, have been released. His newest novel, Peace before the Second Storm, will be available November 2022. Anthony’s story, Not So Long in the Tooth, which appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Saddlebag Dispatches, won a Will Rogers Copper Medal Medallion Award for Western Short Story Fiction.


When not researching and writing, Anthony enjoys wandering historical sites, kayaking and camping, and being with family.


My Story: An Unexpected Path

How does a writer become an author—on purpose, by accident, maybe luck, or just plain ole hard work? Anthony will share his personal journey on the road to getting published.

Board Talk


Nonfiction, Women's Fiction & Children's  Author

Linda Apple (; is the author of nonfiction, women’s fiction, and children’s, books. Sixteen of her personal experience stories have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her recent middle-grade early reader, BOWWOW-Book of Winston’s Words of Wisdom, is being used by school districts for their One-Book programs. Book three of her Moonlight Mississippi Series, Lexi’s Choice, has been recently released.


She has served as president of the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. and the Ozark Creative Writers Conference. Linda has taught writing workshops in the Midwest and southern portions of the United States, as well as Great Britain and Ireland. She is also a motivational speaker.


Linda is a firm believer in writing with the reader in mind and to leave them better after having read her books. She also encourages writers and readers alike to value their own stories and to share them.


She lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband, children, thirteen grandchildren and her writing partner, Winston, a feisty Scottish Terrier. He barks, she types. (



Using the Elements to Build Characters Workshop

Linda will talk about an unconventional approach to character development. Oftentimes, as writers, we put a little bit of ourselves into our characters which results in too much blending of personalities. By assigning an element such as earth, fire, air (wind), or water, to a character, the contrast is sharp. Another benefit is how it sharpens and defines how your characters interact with each other. So, what are the characteristics of each element? Join us and find out. This is an interactive session. 


Publishing Coordinator

Sharon Kizziah-Holmes is the co-founder and co-owner of Paperback Press, an indie assist publishing company. She serves as the publishing coordinator. Sharon has provided service for over sixty authors, in the US and abroad, and has published more than 300 books. Seven of those authors have become best sellers. She loves to help authors realize their publishing dream. (


She is currently President of Ozarks Romance Authors, Vice President of Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers, a member of Springfield Writers Guild. 



Clearing up The Cloud

The cloud refers to servers accessed over the Internet and the software and databases on those servers. Cloud servers are located in data centers all over the world. Come and explore the world of the cloud. Sharon will help you understand the cloud, what it is, how it works, and the different cloud models and possible cloud deployments in this class.


Adult Nonfiction, Editorial Consultant & Children's  Picture Book Author

Clarissa Willis is an author, consultant, and professional developmental specialist. She provides workshops, keynote addresses, and customized professional development nationally and internationally. In her spare time, she writes early childhood curricula, non-fiction books, and books for children. In addition, she is the President of Clarissa Willis International Rights, LLC (  a company that manages international publishing rights for clients and independent presses.

She is currently the treasurer and contest chair of Ozark Creative Writers and has been involved with the conference since 1986.  


No Credentials Needed: Writing Non-Fiction for Fun and Profit

This interactive workshop helps participants discover the non-fiction books that only they can write.  We all have a unique perspective on things and your story just may be the next best-selling non-fiction book. Using a book compass, participants learn about the ins and outs of non-fiction writing (a.k.a. self-help/pop psychology) books. From branding yourself to positioning your book in a very competitive market, the participant will leave with a new perspective on writing non-fiction books.  Learn about the book bait, the book compass, and how to identify your own ‘purple cow’. This workshop is for anyone who has ever considered writing non-fiction and doesn’t know where to start. 

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