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Scheduled Speakers

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Musician, Author


Jon Chandler is a three-time winner of the prestigious Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. His novel The Spanish Peaks received the WWA's Medicine Pipe Bearer Award (Spur Award for best first novel), while Wyoming Wind, A Novel of Tom Horn, was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Linwood, his moody examination of Doc Holliday's life won the spur for Best Song, as did his tribute to Wyoming's Hole in the Wall Country, Morning Star Moon. He won the International Western Music Association's 2023 Award of Excellence as Male Performer of the Year, and he was named True West Magazine's Best Western Musician. 

A seventh-generation Coloradan, Jon's music and writing reflect his heritage, and his 12 CDs, two novels, three non-fiction works, short stories, and nonfiction articles are collected by western lifestyle aficionados. His current recordings in process are, Ghost Smoke, and I'm Still Here, and has just completed his long-awaited manuscript, He Was No Hero. 


Chandler has travelled throughout the country performing at concert venues, honky-tonks, nightclubs, cowboy poetry gatherings, and music festivals. He has appeared everywhere from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville to the Congressional Earth Day Reception in Washington, D.C. He served on the faculties of several writing workshops, including Writing the West at Colorado Mountain College in Gunnison Colorado.

Visit Jon's website:



Jon presents a history of the American story song, the lyric and musical elements of story songs, subjects, styles, structure, and the nuts and bolts of the writing process. A discussion about choosing a concept will follow. 

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J.C. Fields is a multi-award-winning and Amazon best-selling author. Many of his 12 published novels have been awarded numerous gold, silver and bronze medals in the Reader's Favorite International Book Awards contest.

Over the past three years, many of his numerous short stories have been featured on the YouTube Podcast Fear From the Heartland, a part of the Chilling Tales for Dark Night network.  ​

Currently, one of his novels is under review by Wind Dancer Films for a possible TV or Movie project.

His thirteenth novel will be published Spring 2024 through Paperback-Press.

He lives with his wife, Connie, in Southwest Missouri.

Visit his website:

Amazon Best-Selling Author




In this session John will teach about the ethical and appropriate uses of AI


John will help unravel the confusion of Amazon ads by showing us what they can do and how to set them up.

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Cozy Mystery Writer


Susan Keene lives on a farm in the beautiful Missouri Ozarks. She has been writing full-time for over ten years. She won the American Poetry Award at age sixteen.

Her father wrote a daily newspaper column in her hometown. Writing became a constant subject in her home. She was sure she would have a leg up on the competition. It didn’t take long for her to learn fiction writing. and writing for a newspaper were vastly different.

Susan learned a month before high school graduation that her father did not believe in sending girls to college.

 During the summer, she took every scholarship test she could find. she won the Joseph C Peden Award. It included a full scholarship, room and board, and a stipend to attend Deaconess Hospital School of X-ray Technology. She worked in X-ray on a trauma team for several years. St. Louis County Hospital hired her to teach X-ray and Radium Physics, Anatomy, and Physiology.

When she isn’t writing, her hobbies include metal detecting, gardening, reading, and hanging with her grandkids and daughter.  Visit her website:




Writing a cozy mystery requires a delicate balance of charm, intrigue, and humor. By sticking to the elements outlined above and avoiding the taboos of the genre, you will have the knowledge to write a successful, cozy mystery.

In this session, you will learn the essential elements that must be included in your cozy mystery, as well as what to leave out to maintain the genre's appeal. We will discuss in detail the following topics:  Setting the Scene, Quirky Characters, Amateur Sleuth, Solving the mystery, Intriguing Mystery, Red Herrings, Light-hearted Tone, Gentle Humor, What to Include, What to Leave Out.


We will discuss essential elements that set characters apart from the crowd, including complexity, relatability, distinctiveness, development, motivation and goals, conflict, authenticity, backstory, unique voice, and relationships.

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Author ~ OCW Board Member

In the 1990's, Sharon and her husband moved to the Ozarks. A professional musician, she continued to perform, but her passion changed from music to writing fiction. After joining Ozarks Romance Authors in 1992, a whole new world opened for her. She attended conferences and workshops to hone her skills and learn the fundamentals of both the writing and publishing industries. Today, Sharon has twenty-one published titles available, and she shares her knowledge with new and seasoned writers through her workshops and presentations. Her books include everything from romantic short stories and full-length novels to children's books. 

Sharon still resides in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband and two dogs, Willie and Waylon. She absolutely loves writing, editing, publishing, and teaching the basics of writing to others.



Romantic fiction is among one of the most popular and bestselling genres of all time. Sharon will take you full circle through the adventure of writing a romance novel. Some of the things she will cover: 

  • Are there really elements to romance?

  • Why romance is different

  • Choosing the heat level you're comfortable with 

  • The relationship

  • Why emotion is important


King & Queen of  Writing Contests


Gary Rodgers grew up in rural Arkansas in an age when children were expected to be seen and not heard. As a result, he learned the art of tall tales and lively storytelling at the feet of his grandparents and many uncles, aunts, and cousins. After a tour in the Army, then a job which took him to all fifty states, all provinces of Canada, and Jamaica, he retired to his rural Arkansas roots. Gary lives with his wife, writer Kimberly Vernon, and an assortment of rescue pets.

Gary has won numerous awards for his stories, some of which have been published in anthologies and magazines.


Kim Vernon is an award-winning writer of short stories, essays, and poetry.  In addition to winning many state and regional writing awards, her stories and poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines. Her children's book, Toolshed Surprise, was published in 2022. She writes a monthly non-fiction feature for a regional magazine.

Visit Kim's website:


Gary and Kim enjoy traveling, reading, and competing in writing contests. 


Kim and Gary Rodgers will share their writing journey and how friendly competition between them, and fellow writers, helps keep the fun in writing, because as everyone says, writing is hard.

Kim and Gary have known each other most of their lives, and married in 2019. Some have deemed them the King and Queen of Contests thanks to their success in recent years. They will offer advice on entering writing contests, finding a writing group or critique group, and how attending writing conferences can improve your writing.

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Retired Police Officer & Best-Selling Author

David Williams is a retired thirty-year police officer and paramedic with assignments having included Advanced Life Support ambulances, patrol, helicopter rescue/medivac, and violent crime investigations as a detective.  He was instrumental in the implementation of the Austin, TX EMS Special Operations Division, as well as the Fayetteville, AR Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team and its Special Investigations Division.  The Fraternal Order of Police, Rotary Club, the Arkansas Psychiatric Society, and the American Legion have all honored Williams as Officer of the Year for his

work with families and children in crisis, and he is a recipient of the Visionary Voice Award from the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault.  Williams is the bestselling author of Fighting for Her Life: What to do When Someone You Know is Being Abused and Textbooks, Not Targets: How to Prevent School Shootings in Your Community. He holds a master’s degree in criminal justice, and he now teaches criminology at the University of Arkansas. He and his wife live in a cabin in the Ozark Mountains where they offer a haven for horses and donkeys who have lived a rough life before coming to live with them. Visit his website:

DROP THE PEN! What Every Writer Should Know About Real Police Work

It doesn’t take experience in actual police work to recognize when the action, dialogue, or characterization in a book passage or film scene is just plain goofy, not to mention unconstitutional, dangerous, and stupid. DROP THE PEN! What Every Writer Should Know About Real Police Work is a behind-the-curtain look at real policing from the perspective of a thirty-year public safety veteran who works with creative writers, journalists, and film producers as they craft authentic, engaging stories. The seminar is designed for writers of police procedurals, mysteries and thrillers, historical fiction, comedy, non-fiction, and everything from middle-grade rom-coms to noir. Topics covered in this broad-strokes presentation include search warrants, homicide scenes, interview/interrogation, a bit of CSI, and why it is never a good idea to duck under yellow crime scene tape.



This class is designed to take a deeper dive for writers interested in real police work by concentrating on effective interview and interrogation approaches. The first half of the program focuses on trauma-informed victim and witness interviewing practices, followed by interrogation tactics used with actual suspects by professional investigators. Flawed, ridiculous, and unconstitutional methods get exposed, while best practices shine through using examples from actual cases. 

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Fiction, Nonfiction & Freelance Writer

Ellen Withers is an award-winning fiction writer, freelance writer, and retired insurance fraud investigator. Her mystery dual-time series, Show Me Mysteries, set in her picturesque hometown of Mexico, Missouri, is published by Scrivenings Press. Book One of the series, Show Me Betrayal, received excellent reviews. Book two, Show Me Deceit, comes out in May 2024.Ellen’s nonfiction book to help writers win writing contests debuts in August 2024. Magic Words: How to Enchant Judges & Conjure Contest Wins will be a helpful resource for all writers interested in winning contests for their short stories, and full-length fiction and nonfictions works. 

For more information about Ellen, her books, writing tips, and highlights of guest authors can be found on her website:



Have you wondered what a contest judge cares about when judging a writing contest? Whether experienced in writing contests or new to the concept, if you desire is to win contests or increase your contest wins, this class has the answers for you.


Presented by a multiple prize-winning author, who has also judged multitudes of writing contests. Ellen is eager to share secret potions with her fellow writers. Her presentation will include opinions and suggestions from twelve contest judges, giving attendees an inside scoop about what you need to win. When you apply the recommended skills to your contest entries, your work will bewitch judges and conjure an enchanting contest winner



Ozark Creative Writers Conference Chair

Acclaimed author and motivational speaker Linda Apple writes inspirational nonfiction, women’s fiction, and books for children featuring her Scottish terrier, Winston.

Her first book about Winston was on the shortlist for the Benjamin Franklin Award. Public schools have used her Winston chapter book series, which features Social and Emotional Learning, for their One Book programs. Linda enjoys visiting schools and speaking to all of Winston’s fans. His newest book ARF! Arfsome Real-life Fables is now available.

Linda has served as the president of the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. and the Ozark Creative Writers Conference. She also has the great honor of being chosen to be inducted

into the 2023 Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame. Linda has taught writing workshops nationally and internationally. She is a firm believer in writing with her readers in mind and leaving them better after having read her books. She also encourages writers and readers alike to value their own stories and to share them. She aims to spread seeds of inspiration and give wings to all she has the privilege to mentor. She writes from her soul and speaks from her heart.

Linda lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband, children, fourteen grandchildren, and her writing partner, Winston, a feisty Scottish Terrier. He barks; she types. Visit her website:



Inside each of us is a treasure. A wealth of experiences, lessons learned, wisdom gained, moments of clarity, laughter, and tears. None of these should go to waste. However, too often they do because we believe our stories have no significance. But they do! In this interactive workshop, Linda will help you find your stories and share writing techniques to enhance your writing skills that deeply connect with your readers. This workshop is good for any nonfiction writer of all genres. 


Ozark Creative Writers Conference President

OCW president Johnny D. Boggs is a former newspaper journalist who has spent the past 26 years as a full-time freelance magazine journalist, novelist, and nonfiction book writer. Recipient of a record nine Spur Awards from Western Writers of America for his fiction, Booklist has called Johnny D. Boggs “among the best Western writers at work today.” In 2020, Boggs received the Owen Wister Award for lifetime contributions and was inducted into the Western Writers Hall of Fame. Johnny lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Visit his website:

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Ozark Creative Writers Vice President

OCW vice president Micki Fuhrman’s album Westbound won the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and produced a Spur Award-winning song and a Spur finalist, too. Writing fiction under the pen name Vonn McKee, she has earned Spur and Western Fictioneers’ Peacemaker finalist honors. A Louisiana native who has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, she lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Visit her website: 



Spur- and Western Heritage Wrangler Award-winners Johnny D. Boggs and Micki Fuhrman interview each other, revealing tips for authors conducting research for books or articles as well as for authors being interviewed. Learn about techniques, ethics, dos and don’ts, good questions, and how to get around “bad” interviews whether you’re interviewing someone for an article or merely seeking background for a project. And for authors being interviewed – publishers and writers LOVE free publicity – how to conduct yourself when the proverbial shoe is on the other foot.

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