Key Note Speakers
INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR
With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 50 novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.
In July 2006, Jodi was the 11th writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITA’s to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.
Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Thomas enjoys interacting with students at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.
When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home, and “checking up” on their grown sons and four grandchildren.
CHARTING YOUR WAY TOWARD A SUCCESSFUL CAREER IN WRITING
Jodi will share the tools in her writing toolbox that have helped her achieve a successful writing career. Come ready to add to your writing toolbox in this inspiring workshop.
Award Winning Singer/Songwriter
Jon Chandler is a three time winner of the prestigious Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. Linwood, his moody examination of Doc Holliday’s life won the Spur for Best Song in 2009, while his tribute to Wyoming’s Hole in the Wall country, Morning Star Moon, received the award in 2012.
His novel The Spanish Peaks received the WWA’s Medicine Pipe Bearer Award (Spur Award) for Best First Novel, and he was named True West Magazine’s Best Western Musician. His Wyoming Wind, A Novel of Tom Horn, was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. A seventh-generation Coloradan, Jon’s music and stories reflect his heritage, and his eight CDs, two novels, two nonfiction works and myriad short stories and nonfiction articles are collected by western lifestyle aficionados worldwide. He is finishing a coffee table book for the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming entitled Meet Us in Cheyenne, as well as his next western novel, He Was No Hero.
He hosts the iconic monthly concert series America’s Soul Live at the Olde Town Pickin’ Parlor in Arvada, Colorado. …. West of Laramie on Entertainment Tonight, while his Keepers of the Flame was the focal point of a conservation education program administered by the National Association of Conservation Districts, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and a variety of agricultural organizations. His Westerns inspired the Los Angeles Daily News to name him the “best western songsmith since Ian Tyson,” with Sepia Soul—The Best of Jon Chandler being praised as “a beautiful recording” by Cowboy Magazine.
His live CD, Maybe It’s the Moon, was recorded at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV. He recorded The Grand Dame of the Rockies for the famous Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, CO, and his latest CD, The Gang, chronicles his decades of riding Wyoming’s Hole in the Wall country with his pals. His newest endeavor, I’m Still Here will be released in late 2016.
Chandler spent over 20 years in corporate communications, providing public relations and marketing services to dozens of regional, national and international companies including Hughes Aircraft Company and Union Pacific Corp.
He holds a B.A. in communications and an M.A. in business public relations from the University of Northern Colorado. He has written - and ghostwritten - myriad opinion columns appearing in periodicals and newspapers throughout the country. As a professional voice talent, he has represented Ford Trucks, ICI Americas (Zeneca Ag), Coors and dozens of others. He narrated 11 audio novels that are in wide release.
Chandler is past-president and a director of the Hole in the Wall Gang, a western heritage organization founded by legendary Denver journalist Red Fenwick that annually rides Wyoming's famous Outlaw Trail. He holds memberships in the Western Writers of America, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Broadcast Music Incorporated. He is an avid trout fisherman, an equally avid grandfather, and lives near Denver, Colorado with his wife, Pat.
THE STORY SONG - WHERE LITERATURE AND MUSIC MEET
The pop music story song is a unique pairing of melodic and literary elements that serves to create an aural experience that is, by degrees, meaningful, wistful, wise, and often lovely. They can be categorized as the shortest of short stories but can be as emotionally striking as any words on paper. Utilizing lyrics to convey literary concepts while adding a melody that fits the emotion and construction of words is both difficult and rarely successful. But when such components are blended properly, songs like Eleanor Rigby, Ode to Billy Joe, I Hope You Dance, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Galveston, and thousands of others are the result. The keynote will be interactive, exploring the role of the author/songwriter in bringing this combination of words and music to life. An overview of Americana Music- oriented themes and styles, along with pertinent songs will be examined, and attendees will be encouraged to participate in the creative process.
Amy Brewer wears many hats every day, from literary agent at Metamorphosis, to co-author of the
Texting Prince Charming series, to social media manager, to yoga teacher. She is a graduate of
Culver-Stockton College with a theater degree because drama, romance, and angst are her lifelong passions.
Her intuitive human understanding can help other writers bridge the communication gap and jump
into the publishing world. For the last few years she has been learning all she can about social media
optimization and platform building in the publishing industry. Amy’s experience in the mental health
field and yoga training help her guide and assist clients with stress and anxiety in this highly competitive industry. All of this is pulled together with a multi-tasking and hyper-organized brain, so that at the end of every day she feels accomplished and grateful.
She’s seeking: Romances of all kinds, if your plot revolves around love or angst or both, send it to her. She is also looking for general fiction, LGBTQ+, women’s fiction, book club reads, and quirky humor.
CREATING AN ENGAGING SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM
In this class, Amy will share:
The most essential social medias to use to create a well performing platform. How to anchor your platform with an author website.
Creating a Facebook author page and why it is important. How to get followers.
Creating a Twitter page, and why Twitter is still relevant. How to get followers.
Instagram why it is the fastest growing social media and how you can link it to your Facebook.
Using Harlequin romance RWA member Silver James as an example of how to successfully engage on a social media romance platform.
Marcia Preston’s career answers the burning question: What can you do with an English degree? She has edited two national magazines, taught high school English, served as PR director for a museum, and freelanced for a long list of publications. Her six novels have been published in at least seven languages and have earned a Mary Higgins Clark Award, an Oklahoma Book Award for Fiction, and four Best Fiction Book awards from OWFI. She’s a past president and honorary life member of both Oklahoma City Writers and OWFI, as well as an amateur lepidopterist and birdwatcher.
WRITING KILLER FICTION
This session includes an explanation of crime fiction sub-genres, the difference between mystery and suspense, plus a modus operandi for the actual writing.
WHAT IS WOMEN’S FICTION, AND WHAT ISn’T?
What’s the difference between romance fiction and women’s fiction? Where do literary novels written by women fit in? Join this session for a discussion of the kinds of books women read—and write.
Publishing Coordinator at Paperback Press/Author
Sharon Kizziah-Holmes started writing songs in her teens. She became an accomplished, professional musician and performed with famous artists like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., and Faron Young and appeared on The Nashville Network. She met her husband Dennis and they spent eight years on tour where they entertained throughout the lower forty-eight states, Alaska and Canada.
In the 1990’s Sharon and her husband moved to the Ozarks. Although she continued to perform, her passion changed from music to writing fiction. After joining Ozarks Romance Authors she attended conferences, seminars and workshops to hone her skills and learn the fundamentals of both the writing and publishing industries.
Today, Sharon shares her knowledge with new and seasoned writers in her own workshops. The success of those ventures led to the creation of indie assist publishing company Paperback Press. She is publishing coordinator and service provider 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.
Sharon Kizziah-Holmes is the co-founder, co-owner and CEO of A & S Holmes, Inc and its subsidiaries. Some of which are Paperback Press, The Recording Shop and The Barber Shop. She is currently President of Ozarks Romance Authors, Vice President of Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers, a member of Springfield Writers Guild and has served five consecutive years as a chair person for the American Cancer Society’s SWMO Cattle Baron’s Ball.
MANUSCRIPT SETUP 101:
Learn the basics of manuscript setup using Microsoft Word, Google Docs and OpenOffice. This will get your work ready for submission to publishers, agents, contests and more.
FROM THE BIG FIVE TO DO IT YOURSELF, BE INFORMED:
Find out what publishing avenue could be the best for you. Study the difference between big traditional publishers, small traditional presses. vanity presses, self-publishing service providers, solely self-publishing and everything in between. We’ll cover all the bases.
Casey W. Cowan
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director for Oghma Creative Media
Casey W. Cowan has worked in and around the journalism, artistic, and literary fields for twenty-three years as a reporter, photographer, and graphic designer. Tired of working for inflexible companies intent on doing business the same old way, in 2013 he helped co-found Oghma Creative Media, a publishing company built around the idea of authors and artists banding together to take control of and market their work. As Creative Director, he’s responsible for the professional appearance and feel of Oghma’s publications, from layouts to covers to promotional materials.
In the twelve minutes a day he’s not usually working, Casey is also the father of six rowdy teenagers. He enjoys reading, cooking, target shooting, and playing with his two dogs. He is also in the midst of writing his debut novel, Tarleton’s Quarter, first book in an epic series of political/military thrillers following the trials and tribulations of one Navy family in a near-future World War III.
THE LITERARY PROFESSIONAL: 12 PILLARS TO MAKING YOU THE WRITER EVERY PUBLISHER WANTS
Do you wonder if you have what it takes to be a professional, successful author? Are you considering pitching to an agent or publisher? Do you have any idea what to expect from the publishing process if you’re actually accepted? Casey Cowan, co-founder and President of Oghma Creative Media is here to answer all your questions and more with his workshop.
By the end of this session, your toolkit will be full to bursting to with the implements it takes to pitch to anyone with confidence. You’ll discover what the life of a real author is like, learn the kind of research it takes to be successful in your genre, find tips and resources to help hone your craft, realize the commitment it takes to be a professional, and understand how and why you need to make a business plan for your writing career. Perhaps best of all, you’ll be able to get past the myths and skewed expectations of the publishing industry, so you know what to expect for yourself and your books in the future. Don’t miss your chance to take part in this insider’s view of today’s fast-moving publishing industry.
Meg Welch Dendler
Children/Young Adult Author
Meg Welch Dendler has considered herself a writer since she won a picture book contest in 5th grade and entertained her classmates with ongoing sequels for the rest of the year. Beginning serious work as a freelancer in the ‘90s while teaching elementary and middle school, Meg has over one hundred articles in print, including interviews with Kirk Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. She has won contests for her short stories and poetry, along with two Mom’s Choice Awards and a Bronze Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for her best-selling Cats in the Mirror alien rescue cat middle grade book series. Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess was honored as Best Juvenile Book of 2018 by the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation. While Meg holds a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and has been a certified teacher in three states, she is now retired from teaching and enjoys creating stories for children (and adults) instead. Along with her full-time writing career, Meg is an editor/proofreader with Pen-L Publishing and does editing work for independent and self-publishing authors. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation (OWFI).
Meg and her family (including four cats and her dog, Max) live in Northwest Arkansas. Visit her website for more information about upcoming books and events.
WRITING FOR CHILDREN
Meg will walk you through the dos and don’ts of writing for a young audience, including the different genres and age groups (covering birth through age eighteen) and the general guidelines for each level. While good writing and excellent storytelling is always at the core, writing stories for young readers holds specific challenges and its own set of rules. There will be plenty of time for questions, and Meg will share lists of resources and recommended reading to start you on your journey of writing specifically for children and young adults.
Spending time wondering “what-if” can transform a short story into a book series! This session will look at how to expand your ideas and bring depth and detail to your story, and hands-on work will be done to show how a simple idea can become grand--whether it’s a tale for children or adults.
Linda O’Connell is an accomplished multi-genre freelance writer and online writing instructor. She has presented at numerous writer’s workshops, local libraries. Her work appears in regional, national and international publications. Linda’s inspirational essays have been published in twenty-nine (29) Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She is a frequent contributor to Sasee Magazine, a woman’s lifestyle print magazine. Her work appears in Saturday Evening Post, The War Cry Magazine (Salvation Army), The Good Old Days, Reader’s Digest, Writer’s Journal, and more. Linda developed an anthology, Not Your Mother’s Book On Family, for Publishing Syndicate. She is also a three-time recipient of St. Louis, MO Metro Lines/Poetry in Motion. Linda’s inspirational poems were posted on local buses and Metro Link trains for one year each. A retired teacher, Linda prefers writing slice of life vignettes. She enjoys the beach, a hearty laugh, and dark chocolate.
She and her husband Bill have a blended family of four adult children, and nine grandchildren. Three great-grandsons (brothers under four years of age) tickle her fancy and have given her many laugh lines. Visit Linda’s blog here.
INSPIRE WITH YOUR STORIES
Inspirational stories warm our hearts and feed our souls. They are written not only by professional therapists, counselors and authors, but by everyday people.
Think of the late Erma Bombeck who wrote about family, motherhood, and every day events. She had the ability to touch hearts, tickle funny bones, and make readers nod in agreement. YOU can do that, too.
Words of inspiration motivate, challenge, and have a long reach. When a story touches us deeply, we find ourselves sharing with others. Have you ever read something that struck you as profound? Did you rush to the phone to share the information or recommend the publication? Did you buy a copy for a friend, your mom, or sister? Did you ever thank the author?
The world needs more feel-good stories. Readers want to see other’s imperfections and learn from their mistakes. Inspirational Markets are not limited to religious writing.
Linda will share her experiences on how to:
Hook the editor.
Write with clarity.
Target specific markets/ religious vs. inspirational.
Share mystical moments, unexplained coincidences, God nods.
Teach a life lesson but avoid preaching.
NO JOKE! HUMOR WRITING PAY$ OFF.
Linda O’ Connell infuses her stories about everyday family life and situations with a healthy dose of laugh out loud humor. Experts claim laughter has health benefits. If you’ve ever laughed yourself silly, laughed until you’ve cried, or just laughed it off, you are aware laughter is good for your soul. Learn how to make a memorable impression using humor in your writing.
Make your reader grin, giggle, and guffaw even if you think you don’t have a funny bone in your body. Linda will discuss the dos and don’ts of writing funny and demonstrate how to:
Aim at yourself/ target your audience
Season your stories with subtle humor
Make creative nonfiction more relatable
Poke fun at situations using sass and self-deprecation
Leave a laughing (lasting) impression
Five Star Publishing
Tiffany Schofield grew up watching Westerns with her grandfather and enjoyed horseback riding with her neighborhood friend in a rural part of Maine. The Maine native didn’t realize a deep love for the Old West was quickly developing. Schofield started at Thorndike Press in 1999. In 2002, she was shifted to Five Star Publishing’s first edition, standard print imprint division. She immersed herself in the Old West genre. The classics fueled her crusade to reinvigorate Five Star’s Western book list and seek exciting stories featuring strong female protagonists. Under Schofield’s leadership Five Star has earned the WWA Lariat Award (2013) and True West’s Best Western History Book Publisher (2015).
FINDING YOUR INSPIRATION
In this interactive workshop, Tiffany will show ways and places to find inspiration for your writing, as well as how famous authors found their inspiration. Come ready to share with the group how you find inspiration.
Max McCoy is an award-winning journalist and author. He’s won awards for his reporting on unsolved murders, serial killers, and hate groups. In addition to his daily newspaper work, McCoy has written for publications as diverse as American Photographer, True West, and The New Territory. He’s the author of four original Indiana Jones adventures for Lucasfilm/Bantam and the novelization of the epic TNT miniseries, Into the West. His novels, including Damnation Road, have won three Spur awards from the Western Writers of America. His novels, Hellfire Canyon and Of Grave Concern, have also been named Kansas Notable Books by the state library. He’s a tenured professor of journalism at Emporia State University, in east central Kansas, where he specializes in investigative reporting and nonfiction narrative. He’s also director of the university’s Center for Great Plains Studies. His most recent book, Elevations, is the winner of the 2018 National Outdoor Book Award for history/biography. It was also named Best Cultural West Book of 2018 by True West magazine.
THE HERO’S JOURNEY
Discover the magic of mythic storytelling, from The Wizard of Oz to Stars Wars and beyond. We’ll use Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” to unlock the power of myth to provide theme and structure for your narrative. Applies to both fiction and creative nonfiction and is especially useful for aspiring screenwriters.
Johnny D. Boggs
Johnny D. Boggs has been praised by Booklist magazine as “among the best western writers at work today” and is one of the few authors to have won both the Western Heritage Wrangler Award and Spur Award for his fiction. In 2013, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture honored Boggs with the Rounders Award for living, articulating and promoting the Western way of life. True West magazine has named him the Best Living Fiction Writer in its 2008 Best of the West Awards, and the magazine’s readers voted him Best Living Fiction Writer in 2012.
Boggs has six Spur Awards from Western Writers of America, winning for Best Juvenile Western Novel in 2008 and 2010 for Doubtful Cañon and Hard Winter; Best Western Novel in 2006 for Camp Ford and 2012 for Legacy of a Lawman; Best Mass Market Western Novel in 2012 for West Texas Kill; and for Best Short Fiction in 2002 for A Piano at Dead Man’s Crossing. He won the Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for Outstanding Western Novel of 2003 for Spark on the Prairie: The Trial of the Kiowa Chiefs. His novels, And There I’ll Be a Soldier, South by Southwest, Killstraight, Northfield, The Hart Brand and Ten and Me, and his short story, The Cody War, were Spur finalists.
A native of South Carolina, Boggs worked almost 15 years in Texas as a sports journalist at the Dallas Times Herald and Fort Worth Star-Telegram before moving to New Mexico in 1998 to concentrate full time on his novels and books. Boggs is also a prolific writer of short nonfiction with works appearing in more than 50 magazines and newspapers; has also written nonfiction books (including Jesse James and the Movies; and Billy the Kid on Film, 1911-2012); is a professional photojournalist; and has acted on stage in local theater.
He lives with his wife and son in Santa Fe and is represented by Golden West Literary Agency.
THE SHORT STORY, FROM DEVELOPING AN IDEA TO GETTING THE STORY PUBLISHED
It is the hardest form of prose to write. It’s also one of the toughest to get published. Yet writing short fiction can be the most rewarding. Here’s a course on writing a short story, from developing an idea (and a title), the dos and don’ts, and how to find a market.