What to Expect at OWFI


What to Expect at OWFI

By Natalie Bright

 

The Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc. hosts an annual conference in the spring. If you’ve never been to a conference for writers, I highly recommend this one held in Oklahoma City. My head’s still buzzing from this years, and while it’s fresh on my mind, I thought I’d share what you can expect from the experience:

1)    Buzz Sessions: After a full day of learning followed by a banquet with a keynote speaker, OWFI organizes late night discussions. Usually the current faculty along with several other published authors lead discussions on specific topics either in the lobby area or in their rooms. Beginning right after the banquet around 9:00, these talks can go well past midnight. This year I attended one led by Christine Taylor-Butler. I used up my cell phone battery taking notes because I forgot my notepad. She talked about the Highlights Foundation workshop which she attended as a newbie, her experiences with agents and editors, submitting work, breaking into nonfiction for children, how she organizes her research, plus some. This is where you gain insider information about the business from people who’ve been in the trenches writing and launching careers. Buzz sessions have become one of my favorite parts of OWFI.

2)    Bookstore: Books by the speakers and OWFI members were available for purchase at a bookstore located right across from the meeting classrooms. It’s a good place to catch faculty when they’re not doing presentations to ask specific questions. Conference bookstores may not be the best place to sell your books unless you are a keynote speaker so don’t expect huge sales, but it’s still good exposure so bring bookmarks and business cards too. This year authors were limited to only five copies, which is understandable due to space issues. Be sure to follow the rules of the conference carefully so that it’s fair for everyone. For me personally, it’s a weekend for learning (it’s nice to have a few days out of book seller mode). In the bookstore, I asked Jerry Simmons about the NYC submission process, and visited with David Morrell while he autographed copies of FIRST BLOOD for my teen boys.

3)    Breakfast: The best way to start the day is with hot coffee, a huge breakfast buffet, and writers everywhere! Go early, grab a big table, invite people to sit down, and ask them what they write, where they’re published, how their critique group works…you get the idea.

4)    Diversity: The most surprising thing to me when I attended my first OWFI conference many, many years ago was the diversity of the speakers and of the attendees. I didn’t know there were so many people working is so many different genres. Writing is not just for novels of fiction. It was definitely overwhelming at first, but I came away from that first conference inspired to work realizing that there are so many opportunities. The organizers do a super job at lining up speakers who represent a wide range topics for every level.

5)    Friendly and Helpful: I had been told by more than one person that the Oklahoma Writers bunch is one of the friendliest conferences around, and that is definitely the case. I’ve been to other conferences in several different states and OWFI continues to be the one I look forward to every year. People are more than willing to help you. Ask about their first publishing experience, how to with an agent, writing a query letter, places to send a query, writing for a magazine; you’ll discover people are more than willing to share. Ask, learn, and leave inspired.

Put back $10 bucks each week for 52 weeks and by then it’ll be time to register for OWFI May 2015. Make an investment in your writing career and get another step closer to reaching your writing goals.

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Top Sixteen OWFI 2014


Top Sixteen OWFI 2014

By Natalie Bright

 Oklahoma Writer’s Federation held their annual conference this past weekend in Oklahoma City. This group always offers a diverse slate of speakers representing multiple genres and topics plus agents and editors. For more information www.owfi.org. Hope to see you in 2015!

  1. You can pursue regional and niche markets that the big traditional publishers ignore. JERRY SIMMONS, retired, V.P. of sales, Time Warner Book Group.
  2. A Fairy Tale Sampler by ELOISA JAMES, free to every OWFI attendee!
  3. Authors are damaged people. It’s not normal what we do. DAVID MORRELL, bestselling author, creator of Rambo.
  4. We don’t believe in sleep at OWFI. Be sure to attend a buzz session after the banquet. CHIRSTINE JARMOLA, 2014 OWFI President.
  5. Become a student of the market place. SIMMONS.
  6. Embrace the reasons we are doing this crazy thing. MORRELL.
  7. Write blogs to showcase your voice and practice your writing. HEATHER DAVIS, popular MiniVan Momma blogger and author.
  8. Writing has to be a real job in your head. CHRISTINE TAYLOR-BUTLER, best-selling children’s author.
  9. Every person has a dominate emotion. Probably it’s something that is so painful and so shameful you don’t acknowledge it. Admit it and write it. MORRELL.
  10. Schedule your time to write as if it’s a doctor’s appointment or part of your day job. TAYLOR-BUTLER.
  11. Don’t blog unless you really want to. If you’re not genuine, people will know. DAVIS.
  12. Don’t get your work critiqued until you know clearly what you are writing. Opinions will get you off track. TAYLOR-BUTLER.
  13. Keep an idea folder for newspaper or magazine clippings, articles, even junk mail—anything that sparks an idea. DARLEEN BAILEY BEARD.
  14. In real life, we do not address one another by our names. Don’t use them in the dialogue of your fiction. MORRELL.
  15. If you are serious about writing as a career, you must write two pages per day. No excuses! TAYLOR-BUTLER.
  16. The future will include newer, faster forms of delivery, easier forms for payment, and content will become shorter. eBooks aren’t going away. SIMMONS.