Attend the Red Sneakers/WWSW Writers Conference, Aug 31-Sept 3, 2018 (Labor Day weekend) in Oklahoma City!

Attend the Red Sneakers/WWSW Writers ConferenceAug 31-Sept 3, 2018 (Labor Day weekend) in Oklahoma City. This conference will give you the boost you need to advance your writing career–with more than 70 sessions from 60 presenters on all aspects of writing and publishing. Top-drawer agents will take pitches all three days. The conference also includes contests, Master Classes, and much more. To register or to learn more about it, click here.




Room 16. Orientation and Greeting/Christy Johnson


Room 16. Tell Your Story: How to Find and Write Stories for Guideposts/Jim Hinch: What makes a Guideposts story? How do you find and write stories that will be accepted by America’s leading inspirational magazine? Guideposts senior editor Jim Hinch explains what kinds of stories work (and don’t work) in Guideposts and gives practical tips for finding good stories, pitching them to editors, and writing for the magazine.

Room 17. Writing History/Ron Jackson: Jackson will draw on decades of historical writing and research experience to explain how to create a lively narrative within the bounds of historical evidence. Attendees will learn that the art of storytelling doesn’t have to be sacrificed to attain factual–or even scholarly–history.

Room 18. The Top 5 Ways to…Squirrel! Keeping the Attention of a Digital Audience/Annie Donahue: The average human attention span is now less than that of a goldfish. Since 2000, writing for the digital reading audience has become progressively harder. In this session, learn how to circumvent our collective ADD and craft successful online content by perfecting elements of web-specific style.

Room 19. Creative Lead Captures/Christy Johnson: Engage true fans with creative lead captures that will attract your tribe and grow your readership. You’ll learn how quizzes, tip sheets, and apps can set you apart and keep your readers coming back for more.


Room 16. Making Nonfiction Pay/Cheri Fuller: You have a subject that fascinates you and you want to write about it. But how do you interest others? How do you get it published? And best of all, how do you get paid? This session will explain the approaches that yield the best results.

Room 17. Maintaining the Rhythm of War/Bill McCloud: Bill McCloud will discuss the process that led him to take letters he wrote fifty years ago and turn them into poems. David Willson of VVA Veteran says McCloud’s The Smell of the Light: Vietnam, 1968-1969 ranks “right at the top of the heap” of Vietnam War poetry–but it took a half a century to bring the book to fruition. Learn how he did it, and how you can transform your life into poetry as well.

 Room 18. Fantasy & Science Fiction/RJ Johnson: What makes a good science-fiction/fantasy novel? Is it the characters? The magic? The technology? Or does it come down to the story? R.J. Johnson will take you through the steps necessary to create characters who come alive in a thrilling world for a story that readers won’t be able to put down.

Room 19. Amplify Your Brand Through Free Media Exposure/Cheryl Wicker: Have you ever wondered how brands get media interviews, full-page color spreads in major publications, and other types of media attention that garner exposure and credibility? If you have been coveting this type of attention for your own personal brand, your top concern has probably been how to afford it. Help is on the way! This session will share insider tips Wicker uses in her own agency that will enable you to create this kind of press for yourself.


Room 16. Should I Self-Publish?/Christopher Maselli: There are many paths to publication in today’s world. Which one is right for you? The digital revolution has given authors avenues they did not have before, but the many choices can be confusing. Let a successful author navigate the waters for you and help you decide which path to take.

Room 17. Creative Nonfiction/Kent Frates: The session will cover the differences and similarities between fiction and nonfiction writing.  It will also include a discussion of popular nonfiction as opposed to scholarly nonfiction and the concept of niche markets.

Room 18. From Sight to Insight: Turning Experience into Poetry/Ken Hada: It is relatively easy to recall a memory, a personal experience, or a family story (true or legendary), but it is another thing altogether to reconstruct the memory in an insightful, condensed poetic format that communicates to an audience. This session will address two primary issues:  1) whittling the memory into a condensed form while retaining its essence, and 2) attempting to hear how the language we use in the reconstructed memory communicates insight.

Room 19. Watt’s Hot in the World of Books: WattPad, Fan Fiction, Audiobooks, InstaPoets, and More/William Bernhardt, Sabrina Fish, Selma Mann, Katlyn Lantrip: The digital revolution has changed the publishing world dramatically, and the changes keep coming. Audiobooks are now the fastest growing sector of the book market. WattPad is a billion-dollar platform that has brought writers big-dollar contracts and even film adaptations. Fan fiction is now legitimate and potentially profitable. The bestselling book of 2017 was a book of poetry—from a poet who built her following on Instagram. Podcasts are an emerging venue for successfully publicizing books–—and there’s much more beyond that. Make sure you know about the latest developments in the book world so you can take advantage of them.


Ballroom D

Lunchtime Keynote Address: My Writing Life—And Yours/Dan Millman: Every writing life and process is unique. There is no trail of stardust or bread crumbs to follow. We each blaze our own path. But in his lunchtime keynote, Dan will share fundamental lessons learned over forty years of writing—seventeen books published in twenty-nine languages, with millions of copies in print, a film adaptation, a stage version in the planning stages, and works of fiction and nonfiction with publishers large and small, including children’s books and two collaborations. Dan’s talk will be sprinkled with wit and wisdom to light your way on the writer’s path.


Room 16. Five Factors for Fantastic Fiction/William Bernhardt: Ever wonder what distinguishes a passable book from a great one? What sets apart the book you can’t stop reading and never want to end from the book that is adequate but soon forgotten? This bestselling author of more than thirty novels and the Red Sneaker series of books on writing isolates the essential factors that ensure reader engagement and define success.

Room 17. Women’s Fiction/Marcia Preston: What’s the difference between romance and women’s fiction? Where do literary novels written by women fit in? Join this session for a lively discussion of the kinds of books women read—and write.

Room 18. The Poetry of Self-Promotion/Bill McCloud: McCloud began promoting his poetry several months before his first book was published, laying the groundwork. Within thirty days of publication he had his book in two independent bookstores, a college bookstore, and a Barnes & Noble. The idea is not to convince people that your poetry is good but rather, to bring it out of the dark and into the light.

Room 19. How to Publish with Success/Kevin Tumlinson, Douglas Miller, Jeanne Devlin, Rob Vollmar: On this panel, experts from all aspects of publishing will help you chart a successful path for your work. The panel will cover traditional publishing, self-publishing, guided self-publishing, literary presses, and all avenues for achieving your writing dreams.


Room 16. The Key to Nonfiction/Michael Mason: Intrigue, suspense, and mystery–how do the great nonfiction writers do it? This session will consider some contemporary nonfiction writers and consider how they’re able to convert their research and findings into compelling narratives.

Room 17. Brainstorming for Conflict/Regina Jennings: Conflict is the heart of story, but how much time do we spend searching for the strongest conflict? Get out of the rut and try these new techniques to infuse fresh conflict into your plots, characters, scenes, and dialogue.

Room 18. Children’s Books/Brad Robison: Follow the steps of how Dr. Robison transformed a college-level lecture about the Oklahoma City bombing into a beautifully illustrated book that made the bestseller list.

Room 19. Reading Poems to Write Poems/Jeanetta Calhoun Mish: One of the most common mistakes beginning poets—and even some poets who’ve been writing and publishing a while—make is writing poetry without reading contemporary poetry. While all poets should have a grasp of classic poetry, they should also know work being published today. In this fast-paced workshop, you’ll “read like a poet,” examining two types of poetry—lyric (in form and free verse) and narrative—for style and craft. Then participants will write a poem using the imitation technique.


Room 16. How to Pitch to Agents/Mary C. Moore, Marcy Posner, Jeanie Loiacono: In this panel and Q&A session, top agents covering the full spectrum of writing will unravel the mysteries of how to get an agent, what agents do, and why you want one in the digital age.

Room 17. Don’t Be a Starving Artist: How to Find Freelance Gigs That Pay the Bills/Annie Donahue: Being a starving artist may seem glamorous, but it’s wildly impractical. “Don’t quit your day job” is good advice. But what if your day job is also writing? In this session, learn how to make money and land freelance writing gigs by curating writing samples, setting rates, identifying potential clients, crafting a personalized pitch, and creating relationships.

Room 18. Discovering Your Book’s Theme/Rick Ludwig: Your book has a driving plot, full-bodied characters, a great hook, twists and turns and action. So why weren’t your readers moved? Books that touch you and stay with you have something in common. This session will launch a journey to discover your book’s hidden theme. But don’t tell anyone what you find–show them.

Room 19. How to Publish Your Poems/Jeanetta Calhoun Mish: You have a handful of poems you think are ready for publication. How do you get them published? Most poets publish in journals and magazines before they send a full manuscript to a publisher—it’s one of the ways to learn if your poems are ready for publication. This session will consider what makes a poem “ready,” how to prepare your submissions, how to find a good fit for your work, and most importantly, what you should not do when submitting your work. Participants will leave the workshop with a list of resources for pursuing journal and magazine publications.


Rooms 16, 17, 18. Private Consultations: Marcy Posner, Mary C Moore, Tricia Skinner, Jeanie Loiacono, Jim Hinch, Dan Millman, Ryan Sheehan, Sean Callahan, Annie Donahue, Rick Ludwig, Selma Mann, Bill McCloud, Robin Patchen, Jeanetta Mish, Jeanne Devlin, Rene Gutteridge, and more.

Room 19. Booksigning: Take this opportunity to chat with the authors and get your books signed. (You can approach the authors giving consultations, too.)


Launch Party/Room 19

Join us for a launch party celebrating the debut of new books from presenters and attendees. Autographs will be readily available.


Dinner with the Stars

Enjoy a four-course meal in a private dining room at one of Oklahoma City’s best restaurants with Dan Millman, author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior and Donald Maass, agent and author of Writing the Breakout Novel. Get your questions answers, books signed, and have a terrific dining experience. Advance reservations are required.



Room 16. Orientation and Greeting/Christy Johnson


Room 16. How to Write a Novel in Seven Steps/Jessica Lourey: You’ve got that golden idea for a book, the one that won’t let you go, that embellishes itself as you walk through your day. How do you turn that good idea into a great novel? Join this author of sixteen books for the answers. Participants will be shown how to go from idea to completed novel using the seven-step POP method, in addition to receiving detailed information on cracking the world of publishing.

Room 17. Medical Knowledge for Every Writer/Tamara Grantham, Gary Conrad: Want to know if your writing passes the medical boards? Is your gore accurate? Would your character bleed bright or dark red if their artery got nicked? What about those paddles you see on TV? Do they really make a person jolt? A knife through the heart’s right chamber—fatal or not? This is a must-have class for writers of all genres. Bring your questions and have them answered by medical expert Gary Conrad and award-winning author Tamara Grantham.

Room 18. Guideposts Pitch Session/Jim Hinch: Pitch the editor! Here’s your chance to give your story idea to Guideposts senior editor Jim Hinch. Your pitch should be for a story you think might work in one of Guideposts’ publications (Guideposts, Angels on Earth, Mysterious Ways, All Creatures). The idea should be for a first-person story that could be written in no more than 1,500 words with a relatable story problem and a resolution that teaches an inspiring and useful spiritual lesson. Some hints for successful pitches: They almost never do stories about amazing people who overcame illness and then founded a wonderful charity. Ditto for people who are spiritual pillars of their church or who experienced a miraculous healing. They like stories about real, flawed people dealing with everyday problems that teach them something. Keep your pitch to no more than five sentences. The pitch could lead to publication!

Room 19. Ghostwriting/Melanie Hemry & Gina Lynnes: These speakers have ghosted a combined total of almost 100 books. They’ve learned the secret to writing your way to success while helping others tell their stories. In this power-packed session, they’ll share: why ghostwriting opportunities are exploding, how lucrative it can be, where to find ghosting opportunities, common ranges of payment, and a contract template.


Room 16. The Transformative Arc Using Characters of the Psyche/Dan Millman: Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, compelling narration involves stories, and most stories describe a character’s transformation, evolving through adversity — just as we do in our own lives. But what does it mean for a character to transform? This session will suggest nine “domains of consciousness” and the two contrasting characters (such as the tough guy and the crybaby, the social butterfly and the lone wolf, the puritan and the hedonist) who inhabit each domain, thereby providing a clear template for transforming our characters and our lives.

Room 17. Understanding Modern Young Adult/Alexandra Ott: Learn how to write compelling, authentic young adult fiction in the fast-changing landscape of modern publishing. This session includes a discussion of how to write YA voice, what modern YA looks like, and what YA editors are currently seeking.

Room 18. Guideposts Pitch Session (Part 2)

 Room 19. Travel Writing/Elaine Warner: The truth about travel writing–it’s the best job you can have without making a living. It sounds glamorous but involves long hours and hard work. It’s no vacation. This session will consider the perks and the problems–breaking in, skill sets, ethics and etiquette, and non-monetary rewards that make it all worthwhile.


Room 16. Make Middle-Grade Magic/Kim Ventrella: Middle-grade literature is magical and totally taking over the marketplace. What makes middle-grade so magical? Are middle-grade readers smarter than adults? How can you find an engaging middle-grade voice? How can you craft a story readers will love?

Room 17. Writing a Series Character/Tamara Grantham: Your series character is stranded on a deserted island—are they fully fleshed-out and complex enough to last for three or more books? If you’ve set your sights on writing a series, this is the class for you. Award-winning novelist Tamara Grantham, author of the seven-book Fairy World MD series, will take you through the process of outlining a character who will survive the test of time—and the island.

Room 18. Marketing Magic/Sean Callahan: Want to sell more books? Learn how to get more readers? Sean (Story.Gold) will explain the ins and outs of book marketing for indie and traditional authors—on a budget. He’ll answer questions and meet with authors one-on-one to identify the best practices that fit your goals.

Room 19. Fantasy World Building: Diversity in Peoples & Cultures/Sabrina Fish: The most interesting fantasy worlds, like the real world, have diverse peoples and cultures. This session will consider key elements to remember when creating the peoples and cultures of your fantasy world.


Ballroom D-Lunch and Contest Results

Keynote Address–The Secret is Just One Word/Donald Maass: The news about publishing is all bad—or is it? A New York agent tells it like it is.


Room 16. Writing for Computer Games/Luke Hughes: Learn how writing for games differs from classic linear narratives. What tips do famous game industry writers like Chris Avellone and Alexis Kennedy have on crafting compelling stories while avoiding subtle game-specific pitfalls? Get answers from the lead for WWII leadership role-playing computer game Burden of Command.

Room 17. Writing Romance/Callie Hutton: Romance fiction is smart, fresh, and diverse, whether you enjoy contemporary stories, historical settings, mystery, thrillers, or any number of other themes. The romance genre is the bestselling genre in the world, with estimated annual total sales of $1.08 billion. Is this the genre that calls to you? To write stories that have a happily-ever-after ending?  We’ll discuss what turns a love story into a true romance, how to make it come alive on the page, and how to keep readers turning the pages until their final sigh.

Room 18. Using Fiction Techniques to Create Gripping Nonfiction/Rusty Williams: While fiction writers can pull characters, facts, and events from their imaginations, writers of nonfiction must stick to the truth. This session will discuss how nonfiction writers can use the techniques of characterization, plotting, conflict, theme, and character development, while remaining true to the facts.

Room 19. The Many Options of Modern Publishing/Kevin Tumlinson. Jeanne Devlin, Ally Robertson, Douglas Miller, Rob Vollmer: On this panel, experts from all aspects of publishing will help you chart a successful path for your work, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each, and how to approach it with an eye to success. The panel will cover traditional publishing, self-publishing, guided self-publishing, literary presses, genre presses, and much more.


Room 16. Revolutionize Your Writing with Easy Editing Hacks/Jessica Lourey: Editing is supposed to improve your writing, but how do you know if you’re doing it right? Learn the must-haves of big-picture editing, how to apply the ARISE method to craft a story your reader won’t be able to put down. Get the ultimate line-editing checklist. Bring five pages of your manuscript for practice.

Room 17. Comics and Graphic Novels/Jeff Provine: Storytelling through pictures is often overlooked, yet it could be considered the oldest surviving medium (think cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphs). Explore how stories are told through stationary images while taking a journey through its millennia-long history to the new golden age of comics and graphic novels today.

Room 18. Fundamentals of Songwriting/John Wooley, Patrick von Wiegandt: Think you’ve got a song in your heart? Unsure how to get it in front of people who can record it? Or perhaps you want to record it yourself? Learn how to make your dream a reality from a musician and producer behind many recordings (von Wiegandt) and a composer who has written songs for The Oak Ridge Boys, The Red Dirt Rangers, and The Moody Dudes (Wooley).

 Room 19. Pitch Slam/Donald Maass, Marcy Posner, Mary C Moore: Attendees are invited to submit pitches in writing. Pitches will be drawn at random and presented to this distinguished panel of experienced agents. You’ll witness their reactions—live. You must attend the session if want to submit a pitch.


Room 16. Writing for Emotional Impact/Kim Ventrella: Have you ever heard the phrase, “All the feels?” As in, I just read this amazing book and now all I can do is sob and scream, “All the feels!!!” Join Scholastic author Kim Ventrella as she shares strategies for connecting with readers’ emotions. You will learn how to: brainstorm with emotional impact in mind, craft characters your readers can’t help but love, and make readers cry (or feel other emotions–but mostly cry).

Room 17. How to Get Your Family Story Read/Rusty Williams: Too often, the family histories we compile become an endless march of dates, places, names, and events. In this session, an experienced nonfiction author shares seven basic rules to help you shape your genealogy into an engaging, readable narrative.

Room 18. From the Editor’s Desk—Getting (and Keeping) that Writing Assignment/Carla Walker: A good editor-writer partnership is essential to successful writing. This session will cover: how to pitch a proposal and increase your chances of getting an assignment, understanding the function and vision of an editor to deliver a great manuscript, avoiding mistakes that can get you replaced, and cultivating relationships that lead to more work.

Room 19. Pitch Slam (Part 2)


Rooms 16, 17, 18. Private consultations: Marcy Posner, Jeanie Loiacono, Dan Millman, Callie Hutton, Ryan Sheehan, Jeanne Devlin, Carla Walker, Jessica Lourey, Rusty Williams, Kim Ventrella, Alexandra Ott, Tamara Grantham, Regina Jennings, Luke Hughes, Rob Vollmar, Sean Callahan, Annie Donahue, Rick Ludwig, Ally Robertson, Jeff Provine, Gena Maselli, Rene Gutteridge, and more.

Room 19. Booksigning: Take this opportunity to chat with the authors and get your books signed. (You can approach the authors giving consultations, too.)


Room 16

Open Mic/Talent Show

Hosted by Patrick von Wiegandt

Here’s your chance to show the world just how talented you are. Read your poetry, sing your song, play your instrument—or anything else you’d like to do. All talents are welcome. Take five minutes and strut your stuff. There will be many surprises…


Dinner with the Stars

Enjoy a four-course meal in a private dining room at one of Oklahoma City’s best restaurants with legendary agent Donald Maass, CEO of the Donald Maass Literary Agency and author of How to Write a Breakout Novel and many other books. Get your questions answers, books signed, and have a terrific dining experience. Reservations are required.


Live Podcast recording/Location TBA

You can participate in a live recording of the Red Sneakers podcast. Space is limited. Come let your voice be heard!



Room 16. Going Hybrid: The Way of the Future/Lauren Smith: The world of publishing is in a state of transition. You can write for a big, medium-sized, or small publisher, and you can also self-publish. Many writers believe you should take one path or the other, go traditional or go indie. But some of the most successful strategies for meeting readers, getting on the shelves, and getting your stories out in the world, involve going hybrid. This session will discuss strategies for being a successful hybrid author, including tips, tricks, and strategies for making the most of your work—and your time.

Room 17. Entering and Winning Contests/Barbara Shepherd: Learn how contests can improve your writing, how to decide which ones are worth your time, and what work to enter.  What if you start winning? With more than 300 awards, Shepherd shares her “Secrets from the Contest Queen” tips, lists, and spreadsheets so you can keep track of your submissions and protect your eligibility.

Room 18. Book Signing Strategies/TC Miller: Tired of watching people stroll by at book signings without buying? You won’t have a sale until you show them they need your stories. Learn subtle techniques to boost sales.

Room 19. Podcasting/Sean Callahan, RJ Johnson: Audio is on the rise, and podcasting can help you gain fans for your books. Sean will show you how to get started in podcasting—on a budget—and how it can send your book sales soaring. RJ will cover best practices, free software, inexpensive equipment, and hosting—all the information you’ll need to be a podcasting success.


Room 16. Fiction to Film & Film to Fiction/Rene Gutteridge: Ever wonder how a book is adapted to film? Why is one book chosen over another to be made into a movie?  How and why are movies sometimes adapted into books?  In the world of adaptation, where two different mediums somehow manage to co-exist, this session will walk you through the behind-the-scenes business and artistic strategy of adaptation.

 Room 17: Using Twitter/Lindsey Andrews: Did you know that agents are scrolling social media and looking for potential authors? This session will provide an in-depth look at how Twitter is changing the way authors pitch agents and how to land a book contract for any type of manuscript. The presentation will cover Twitter Pitch parties, National Novel Writing Month, writer’s groups, mentors, and finding an audience for your work on Twitter.

Room 18. The Idiot’s Guide to Marketing/Lauren Smith: Authors don’t just write books anymore. They are their own publicity machines and promotion wagons. Whether you’re published with a house or you’re self-published, you need a marketing plan. This session will help you figure out how to navigate the intense world of book marketing, social media platforms, basic advertising ideas, and how to promote your books without shouting “Buy my book.” She will also explore price-drop strategies for series, free promotional tools, basic graphic design promotion, and establishing your brand.

Room 19. The Many Faces of Modern Poetry/Carl Sennhenn, Selma Mann, Bill McCloud: Modern poetry can enchant some and baffle others. What distinguishes prose from poetry? Am I writing verse or journal entries? And how do I get it published? Learn from a panel of poets actively publishing their work on a regular basis.


Room 16. Hooking a Reader (or Publisher) on the First Page/Ally Robertson: In today’s busy world of instant gratification, the countdown is ticking on how much time you have to snag the attention of editors and readers. Learn some elements you should include, and some you should avoid, to make the opening of your story as irresistible as possible. Attendees are encouraged to bring their first-page openings of current works in progress to be read and evaluated.

Room 17. Writing for Comics/Jeff Provine, John Wooley, and Chris Maselli: A story is a story, but it’s told in its own particular way in comics, now one of the fastest growing sectors of the book marketplace. Learn tips of the trade such as script formatting, cliffhanger panels, when to include text, and how to let the images tell the story.

Room 18. The Spiritual Side of Poetry/Selma Mann: A geyser of poetry erupted into Selma Mann’s world after a series of devastating losses left her vulnerable and broken. Healing power transformed grief and loss into whimsy, wisdom, and a profound sense of spiritual connection. You will hear Selma’s entertaining and compelling journey to becoming a published poet and sought-after inspirational speaker.

Room 19. Setting as Character/Julia Thomas: The setting of your story is an important component in writing a novel.  This session will discuss how theme affects setting, and how to use theme to make your writing stronger, focusing on the quality of the details rather than the quantity.

Lunch on Your Own


Room 16. Researching Your Novel/Will Thomas: This session will take you through sites, databases, interlibrary loans, and other sources to find the information you seek. There is no need to fudge when you can collect the true procedures or history necessary to make your book come to life. Convince your reader you actually know what you are talking about.

Room 17. Historical Narrative/Russell Lawson: Is historical narrative fact or fiction? When a writer engages in “nonfiction” historical or biographical writing, how much is real and how much is made up? In writing about the lives and experiences of real people, an author often has to interpret choppy and vague historical sources and to rely on a lot of imaginative reconstruction. The goal is to make the story interesting, but also truthful. How is this done?

Room 18. Writing Horror/John Wooley: Talk about writing horror fiction with a practitioner who has decades of experience. John Wooley’s horror novels have been published by Franklin Watts, Berkley, Dell Abyss, HAWK, and his work has been optioned by both Wes Craven and Paramount Pictures. He’s a longtime Fangoria writer to boot. He’ll talk about not only writing horror, but writing horror with a collaborator.

Room 19. The Art of Description/Laurel Thomas: Description is a paintbrush in the hand of a writer–with words as the palette. The best word image creates a sensory snapshot, allowing the reader to “see” in a way that propels both fiction and nonfiction forward. This session explores how to bring life and vitality to any style of writing through effective description.


Room 16. How to Be Your Own Best Editor/Gena Maselli: In this session, Gena Maselli shares simple techniques to strengthen your writing by avoiding common pitfalls and capitalizing on your strengths. If you want to become a stronger, clearer, and more concise writer, you don’t want to miss this session.

Room 17. How to Mesmerize Your Readers/Gary Conrad: Good writers find a way to keep their readers glued to the page, compelling them to keep reading, no matter the lateness of the hour.  Your readers want to laugh out loud, scream in agony, chuckle, and miserably wail–in other words, they hope to be so involved in your book, they feel a part of it. This session will give you a number of simple techniques to accomplish that.

Room 18. Writing with Voice, Style, and Humor/Nikki Hanna: This session reveals how to cultivate voice, develop an impressive personal style, and use humor to bring a composition to life, even if the work is serious. This session will also introduce innovative writing techniques designed to take your writing to a higher level, polish it up, and make it stand out from the masses.

Room 19. How to Write Cops/Dave Johnson: Learn how to talk to and about cops authentically, avoiding the clichés and misapprehensions that undermine many novels. Enhance you work by avoiding common misconceptions about cops/guns/crimes, and considering the psychology present at a crime scene.


Room 16. Inspirational Closing from Chris Maselli


Rooms 16, 17, 18. Private consultations: Will and Julia Thomas, Jeanie Loiacono, Lauren Smith, Ryan Sheehan, Regina Jennings, Rob Vollmar, Sean Callahan, Annie Donahue, Rick Ludwig, Nikki Hanna, Gary Conrad, Kent Frates, Russell Lawson, Callie Hutton, Tricia Werner, Barbara Shepherd, Ally Robertson, Renen Gutteridge, and more.

Room 19. Booksigning: Take this opportunity to chat with the authors and get your books signed. (You can approach the authors giving consultations, too.)

Monday Master Classes


Room 16. The Keys to Successful Fiction/William Bernhardt (6 hrs., with lunch break)
Bestselling author William Bernhardt will take students through all the critical elements of fiction, bringing fresh insight to concepts such as character, plot, and viewpoint, and showing writers how to use these fundamental approaches to bring their story to life. Bernhardt will also address less familiar concepts–story structure, psychic distance, and pacing–that are critical to success in the highly competitive publishing world. Bernhardt focuses on practical tips to make novels professional, engaging, and publishable. This comprehensive class—attended by many writers now successfully published–will blend exercises, film clips, discussion, and advice. Handouts.

You will learn how to:

  • Hook readers on the first page
  • Make your novel impossible to resist
  • Make readers care about your characters
  • Sustain interest over the course of a novel
  • Make dialogue distinctive
  • Understand what makes a high-concept novel
  • Understand the importance of structure
  • Understand the difference between showing and telling—and why it matters
  • Edit for success
  • Learning the hallmarks of modern publishable writing style

Room 17. Marketing Gold: Double Your Sales in 90 Days/Sean Callahan (3 hrs.)

It’s tough to stand out in today’s sixteen-million book slush pile. The fact is, 95% of them (15 million) fail to earn more than $100 a year. But the truth is that with Story.Gold’s easy-to-follow marketing tactics, you can be in the top 5% and blow those sales away. In this eye-opening session, you’ll discover both paid and free strategies to double your sales quickly. Story.Gold’s founder and former CEO, Sean Callahan, will deliver easy-to-understand and easy-to-employ tactics for marketing your book in today’s wacky publishing world. Callahan will dispel the detrimental myths and misconceptions that prevent authors from reaching more readers and selling more books. By the end of this class—no matter where you are in your author journey—you will know what you need to do in the next ninety days to significantly boost your author career.

You will learn how to:

  • Discover both free and paid marketing solutions within your budget
  •      Build a simple and effective author brand
  •      Craft a book that sells
  • Choose the best places to sell your book
  • Find more raving readers
  • Use today’s tools to build a profitable marketing platform and email list
  • Engage your fans without diving down the social media hole
  •      Use Facebook, Amazon, and BookBub to promote your books
  • Take your sales to the next level with killer ads without breaking the bank
  • Design a straightforward roadmap to achieve your long-term sales goals

Room 18. Self-Publishing Your Book: A Step-by-Step Demonstration/RJ Johnson (3 hrs.)

In this section, Johnson will take you step-by-step through the self-publishing process, demonstrating everything you need to know and using work from attendees as examples. You will leave this session ready to publish your work so it can find the readers it deserves.

Room 19. Writing the Breakout Novel 2.0 Intensive Workshop/Donald Maass (4 hrs.)

Are you ready to take your writing to the next level? Would you like to spend a challenging, inspiring morning learning from a fiction expert? Do you want to create memorable, stirring stories that create passionate, lifelong readers? Whether you’re interested in traditional or independent success, this workshop is for you!

Why 2.0? This workshop will include new or revised units on story discovery, strong voice, standout characters, the inner journey, compelling story worlds, beautiful writing, creating resonance, and finding meaning in both story and process. Breakout fundamentals are also covered: strong characters, inner conflict, personal stakes, plot layers, powerful scenes, micro-tension, practical theme techniques, and much more. Writers of fiction who wish to soar out of category, as well as novelists who want to learn how to make powerful story principles work for them, will find the Breakout Novel Intensive 2.0 an idea-packed and career-enriching experience.

Please note that the Donald Maass workshop starts at 8 a.m. and lasts till noon (four hours).


Room 17. How to Easily Build Your Social Media Following: Get Thousands of Highly Targeted Followers–Automatically/Christopher Maselli

Publishers want you to have followers–and if you self-publish, you need highly targeted followers who want your material. In this session, you will learn how to rock the social media game with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and your blog–automagically.

Includes the sessions:

  • How to Create a Social Media Marketing Machine in 5 minutes a day–Creating content with virtual assistants and scheduling on autopilot.
  • How to Gain 3000 Highly-Targeted Twitter Followers Each Month—Step-by-step and almost fully automated.
  • How to Build a Thriving, Engaged Community–Taught by Shel Harrington, whose Facebook community is 360k+ followers!

Don’t get discouraged by social media. Learn how to make it work for you!

Room 18. Screenwriting Master Class for Novelists/Rene Gutteridge (3 hrs.): This three-hour class is designed especially for novelists and fiction writers who are interested in dipping their toe into the world of screenwriting.  The two forms of writing have similarities, but it’s the vast differences between them that prove to be challenging for novelists.  In this class, you’ll learn about the Tool Box– tools you may use in fiction that you won’t be able to use in screenplays.  You’ll also be introduced to the technical side of screenwriting, why it’s important to learn it, and how it translates onto the big screen.  We’ll address the issue of whether novelists should attempt to adapt their own work.  And you’ll learn the four building blocks of every screenplay, which will get you on the road to writing your own script.

Room 19. The Keys to Successful Nonfiction/Nikki Hanna (3 hrs.):

Award-winning author Nikki Hanna will give students tools and strategies to write nonfiction everyone will want to read. The fundamentals are embellished with fresh perspectives and approaches to show writers how to create a book that stands out from the others. Strategies are revealed that introduce emotional and enticing qualities, with an in-depth presentation of techniques that enhance writing, nurture a writer’s uniqueness, and captivate readers. In memoir, you’ve got to make readers feel. You must make them laugh and make them cry. And in all nonfiction, you must give them important and novel lessons learned.

You will learn how to: 

  • Organize and format a memoir, a how-to book, or an informative book
  • Discover a premise and a theme and how to use them as threads to tie chapters and stories together
  • Create enticing titles for a book, for chapters, and for sub titles and how to use the Table of Contents to sell a book
  • Paint a picture of settings, events, actions, conflicts, defining moments, and characters
  • Do an effective life review to capture the essence of a person
  • Determine what to put in, what to leave out, and how to write about bad things
  • Draw information out of a reluctant interviewee and how to engage a key character who resists being written about
  • Understand what is “the truth,” what to do when someone else’s truth is different from the writer’s, and how to diplomatically counter objections
  • Convey emotions effectively so readers respond to them
  • Use revision and editing to deliver a polished, professional product


Lindsey Andrews is an attorney, author, and speaker living in Oklahoma and is always headed for the mountains or the beach, if only in her dreams. She is an adoptive mother and French Bulldog lover writing about love, loss, and all the moments in between. She encourages writers on Twitter, posts about finding daily joy on Instagram, and has absolutely no life hacks–but plenty of memes on Facebook.

Lara Bernhardt is the author of a supernatural suspense novel, The Wantland Files, that was published in 2016 and was nominated for the Oklahoma Book Award. The sequel, The Haunting of the Crescent Hotel, will launch in 2018. Her third novel, Shadow of the Taj, will be released soon.

William Bernhardt is the bestselling author of more than forty books, including the nationally bestselling Ben Kincaid novels, two books of poetry (The White Bird, The Ocean’s Edge), the Red Sneaker series of books on writing, the historical novel Challengers of the Dust, and his most recent book Justice Returns. In addition, Bernhardt founded the Red Sneaker Writing Center, hosting writing retreats and conferences all over the country. The monthly Red Sneaker Writers Newsletter reaches over twenty thousand people, and now there’s a free Red Sneaker phone app and podcast. OSU named him “Oklahoma’s Renaissance Man.”

Sean Callahan is a writer and the founder of Story.Gold—empowering authors with a new revolution in business tactics. After twenty-five years as a federal investigator, he now devotes his time to his three passions: his loving family, two amazing dogs, and helping fellow writers grow their audience.

Gary Conrad is the award-winning author of The Lhasa Trilogy, Oklahoma Is Where I Live: and Other Things on My Mind, Murder on Easter Island:  A Daniel ‘Hawk’ Fishinghawk Mystery and Murder at Stonehenge:  A Daniel ‘Hawk’ Fishinghawk Mystery, and The Pit:  Memoir of an Emergency Physician He is currently working on a sequel to The Lhasa Trilogy.

Jeanne Devlin is the founding editor of Road Runner Press, an award-winning traditional publishing house. Devlin won her first national writing award, a Clarion, at the age of nineteen.  She has worked with such publishers as Simon & Schuster and St. Martin’s and for a number of New York Times- bestselling authors, including Debbie Macomber, Robyn Carr, and Wendy Corsi Staub.

Annie Donahue is a business content strategist who specializes in healthcare and agriculture. She is also a journalist, children’s book author, teacher, and nonprofit founder. She lives with her husband Brad and their four children, near Charlotte, North Carolina

Kent Frates is a lawyer, state representative, and the editor and publisher of the political and literary newsletter Common Sense. He was the editor and publisher of the newspaper “Sports Source” and the author of a poetry book, “The Captain and His Crew,” a novel, Don’t Never Shoot Short, and three works of non-fiction. His book Oklahoma’s Most Notorious Cases was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year award.

Sabrina Fish is the author of the adult fantasy romance series, The Gate Keeper Chronicles, in which the first book, Diomere’s Exile, is a 2017 National Reader’s Choice Awards Winner, and the soon-to-be published second book, Diomere’s Healer, placed third in the 2018 OWFI annual writing contest. A three-time contributor to the young adult Shine series, she enjoys reading and writing for any age group. She owns a trophy/award company with her husband and son.

Cheri Fuller is an internationally published, award-winning author of 49 books and hundreds of magazine articles. A gifted speaker, Cheri loves to inspire and equip writers. She speaks at writer’s conferences, equipping writers to not only write compelling nonfiction, but to create book proposals that advance their careers.

Tamara Grantham is the author of more than a dozen books and novellas. Her Fairy World MD series has won numerous awards, including first place in Indiefab’s Book of the Year Awards, and a first place Rone Award. She is a #1 bestselling author on Amazon and has been a featured speaker at numerous conferences. She lives in Kansas with her husband and five children.

Rene Gutteridge is a novelist and screenwriter who has published 24 novels and works as head screenwriter for Skit Guys Studios.  Her movie SKID won Best Oklahoma Feature at the Dead Center Film Festival, and her novel My Life as a Doormat was adapted by Hallmark into the movie Love’s Complicated.  She resides in Moore.

Ken Hada is a poet and professor who finds the natural order a powerful presence for writing. His work recently won the SCMLA Prize for poetry. His poems have been featured on the NPR program, The Writer’s Almanac, and his book, Spare Parts, received the Western Heritage Award. His work has also been recognized as finalist for the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America, and Oklahoma Book awards. His published poetry collections include Bring an Extry Mule and Persimmon Sunday (Purple Flag Press, 2017, 2015), as well as Spare Parts, Margaritas & Redfish, The Way of the Wind and The River White: A Confluence of Brush & Quill.

Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic books for teens. Her first teen devotional, Coffee Shop Devos, will release with Bethany House September 2018. Tessa’s passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent for Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA, and Founder/Editor of

Nikki Hanna has published seven nonfiction books, including two memoirs. Her books on writing include Capture Life––Write a Memoir, which is used in Oklahoma State University’s lifelong learning program, and How to Find Joy and Purpose in Writing, which includes strategies for taking writing to a higher level. Her book honors include the National Indie Excellence Award, the USA Best Book Finalist.

Shel Harrington is a family law attorney and adjunct law professor. In addition to her published law-related work, Shel is a frequent writer and speaker on marriage and divorce. One of her favorite topics? How to put her out of business by doing marriage better! As “the divorce lawyer who doesn’t like divorce,” she blogs about relationships at In her alternative-humor writing world, Shel blogs about embracing age and being one’s fiercest self at Fat-Bottom-Fifties Get Fierce. She has over 300,000 followers on her smile-inducing Fat-Bottom-Fifties Get Fierce Facebook page.

Melanie Hemry has fifty-four published books to her credit. A popular ghostwriter, one of Melanie’s many projects included writing Jerry Falwell: His Life and Legacy, published by Simon and Schuster. A winner of the prestigious Guideposts Writing Contest, Melanie’s stories have warmed the hearts of readers around the world. Her work has also been published worldwide by Reader’s Digest. She has been a regular contributing writer to the Believer’s Voice of Victory magazine for many years.

Jim Hinch is a senior editor for Guideposts, America’s leading inspirational magazine, with more than one million subscribers. Jim loves working at Guideposts because he gets to work with writers from all across America, helping them to tell stories that change readers’ lives. Guideposts is always looking for new writers. See our website ( for submissions guidelines.

Luke Hughes is project lead for Burden of Command, a PC role-playing game in which players fill the boots of an infantry captain in WWII, both on and off the battlefield. With Masters in Neurophysiology and Psychology (Oxford), a Ph.D. in human-centered AI (Yale), multiple patents, and a minor in history, Luke is keen to create an emotionally authentic experience.  Having professional game writers on the team as well as guidance from mainstream fiction writers has been key to creating that leadership journey.

Callie Hutton is a USA Today-bestselling author who has penned more than thirty historical romance books and writes humorous and spicy Regency with “historic elements and sensory details” (The Romance Reviews). Callie lives in Oklahoma with two rescue dogs and her top cheerleader husband of many years. Her family also includes her daughter, son, and daughter-in-law. And her four-year-old twin grandsons “The Twinadoes.” Contact her directly at, or find her online at

Ron Jackson is a best-selling author and former award-winning journalist who has written professionally for 33 years. He is the author of six books, including the newly released Fight to The Finish: “Gentleman” Jim Corbett, Joe Choynski, and the Fight that Launched Boxing’s Modern Era and the award-winning Joe: The Slave Who Became an Alamo Legend. Jackson’s literature has also appeared in national and regional magazines such as Wild West, True West, and Oklahoma Today. In 2017 he received the prestigious Philosophical Society of Texas Award of Merit for nonfiction.

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history. She’s the winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist, and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang. Her newest book, Holding the Fort, is the first in her Fort Reno Series. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children and can be found online at

Christy Johnson is proof that God allows U-turns. A domestic-abuse survivor turned champion of forgiveness, Christy is a sought-after soul-health coach, author, national speaker, and the founder of Living Soul.

Dave Johnson spent six years in the Marine Corps before pursuing a career in commercial diving, finally landing in Tulsa, OK to get a commercial pilot license. In 1984 he started a private security business in Tulsa and still works in that field today. He lives in Tulsa with his wife, three greyhounds, and two cats.

RJ Johnson is an award-winning author from San Diego, California. He was inspired to write novels in the second grade when his teacher bound a short story he’d written for class into a small book. His passion for writing ignited, Johnson spent the next twenty years learning everything he could to become an author. RJ also produces talk radio in Los Angeles.

Katlrustyyn Lantrip is a student at the University of Central Oklahoma and the author of several novels successfully published (and much read) on WattPad.

Russell Lawson a Ph.D. historian, college professor, and Fulbright Scholar, is the author of sixteen nonfiction books. His most recent nonfiction books are Servants and Servitude in Colonial America (Praeger) and The Sea Mark: Captain John Smith’s Voyage to New England (University Press of New England). He brings an interest in the lives of ordinary people of the past to his first novel, The Curse of the Bronze Amulet (Black Rose Writing), a story that reveals the miracles and wonders of the everyday. A native Oklahoman, he has lived and taught in New England and Canada, and resides in Broken Arrow with his family, including four rescue pups.

Jeanie Loiacono, President of Loiacono Literary Agency, represents over eighty authors. Her forte is mystery, romance, thrillers, historical/military/southern fiction, and all quality fiction/nonfiction. Her passion is to see her authors succeed.

Jessica Lourey is the author of the critically acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, “a splendid mix of humor and suspense” (Booklist) and Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction. Jess also writes sword-and-sorcery fantasy, YA adventure, magical realism, and feminist thrillers. She is a regular Psychology Today blogger and a TEDx presenter.

Rick Ludwig published his first novel, Mirrored, in 2014. A second, Something More, followed in 2015. The third and final novel in his Maui Mysteries Series, Pele’s Fire, will launch in 2018. Before becoming a professional fiction writer, Rick Ludwig spent more than forty years in the academic, health care, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industries. Rick is married with two grown children and divides his time between Maui, Hawaii, and Southern California.

Gina Lynnes has ghosted forty-five books. In addition, she has published four books under her own name, edited an international magazine, and written hundreds of ghosted articles. Gina is a recipient of the National Religious Broadcasting Award for the daily radio broadcast Upreach! She has extensive experience working with beginning authors and other freelancers, editing and collaborating on a variety of projects.

Donald Maass’s agency sells more than 150 novels every year to major publishers in the U.S. and overseas.  He is the author of The Career Novelist (1996), Writing the Breakout Novel (2001), Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (2004) and The Fire in Fiction (2009), Writing 21st Century Fiction (2012) and The Emotional Craft of Fiction (2016).  He is a past president of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, Inc.

Selma Mann discovered her inner poet after a series of devastating losses, waking the muse for her first book of poetry, Mourning Cloak. Her second book, Whimsical Warrior, a playful tribute to aging with grace and laughter, was published in 2017. A sought-after speaker, Selma is always ready to share her passion for poetry and her joyful, resilient optimism. Prior to her rebirth as a poet in her seventies, Selma has enjoyed successful careers as a teacher and attorney.

Christopher Maselli has written more than fifty books, is a Certified Digital Marketing Professional, children’s writer, marketing writer and ghostwriter…and on his training site,, he helps put other writers on the fast track to success! He has received a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing and currently travels the country with his wife and children.

Gena Maselli is a professional writer who loves to see others living their dreams. She has written 15 books as well as numerous magazine and Web articles for publications like Brio, Home Life, Christian Single, Marriage Today, Believer’s Voice of Victory and more. Before pursuing her writing career, Gena worked for a large non-profit, developing marketing and direct mail materials and handling media planning. Now, she is living her dream. In addition, Gena has ghosted and edited for well-known international ministers and speakers. She has also written children’s church curriculum, direct mail, marketing materials, and more.

Michael Mason is founding editor of This Land magazine and author of “Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath.” His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Believer, and Discover, among other publications. He is currently working on his second book, a true-life psychedelic crime story.

Bill McCloud’s poetry book, The Smell of the Light: Vietnam 1968-1969, has been said to be “at the top of the heap (of Vietnam War poems) by David Wilson of the VVA Veteran. Oklahoma Poet Laureate Jeanetta Mish calls it “necessary reading.” Dozens of his Vietnam War poems are taught as part of the curriculum at the University School of Milwaukee. His earlier book, What Should We Tell Our Children About Vietnam? was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award.

Douglas Miller is the founder of Mullerhaus Publishing Arts.

TC Miller is the author of the BlackStar Ops novels. He published his first novel at age sixty-one. Before that, he served twenty-four years in the Air Force and taught sales techniques to military recruiters and civilians. He was a manufacturer’s sales representative for fifteen years, demonstrating products to the public. T.C. was the recipient of the Outstanding Author Award for 2017 at this conference.

Dan Millman a former world-champion athlete, Stanford University coach, martial arts instructor, and Oberlin College professor, has authored 16 books published in 29 languages, including his classic, Way of the Peaceful Warrior (released as a film with Nick Nolte by Universal in 2007). A popular international speaker, Dan has influenced people from all walks of life. Learn more about his books, speaking events and online courses, audio programs and life-purpose guidance at:

Jeanetta Calhoun Mish is a scholar, poet, prose writer, and the 2017-18 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate. Her most recent books are What I Learned at the War, a poetry collection (West End Press, 2016) and Oklahomeland: Essays (Lamar University Press, 2015). Dr. Mish is Director of The Red Earth Creative Writing MFA @ Oklahoma City University, where she also serves as advisor to Red Earth Review and as a faculty mentor for writing pedagogy, professional writing, and the craft of poetry. For more information, visit

Mary C. Moore joined Kimberley Cameron & Associates in 2012 after earning her MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College, Oakland. She represents middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction and is particularly seeking genre fiction that twists the tropes with a unique point of view. Find out more at and

Alexandra Ott is the author of children’s fantasy novels Rules for Thieves and The Shadow Thieves. She is currently an editorial assistant at Entangled Publishing. A graduate of the University of Tulsa with a B.A. in English, she lives in Oklahoma with her tiny canine overlord.

Marcy Posner worked at the William Morris Agency, Sterling Lord Literistic, and her own literary agency, before moving to Folio. Her editorial skill and deep knowledge of the publishing industry make her one of the most successful and prominent agents in the business. When she works with authors, she focuses on how to make a book as strong as it can be. She represents authors in a wide variety of categories.

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 magazines. Her novels have been published in at least seven languages and have earned a Mary Higgins Clark Award, an Oklahoma Book Award, and four OWFI Best Book of Fiction awards. Marcia is a birdwatcher, amateur lepidopterist, and college football fan.

Jeff Provine’s ghost stories are collected in Haunted GuthrieHaunted NormanCampus Ghosts of Norman, and Haunted Oklahoma City. Last year, Jeff helped found Okie Comics Magazine, a quarterly anthology of comics. In addition to folklore and comics, Jeff’s science fiction and fantasy has been published in numerous anthologies and in long form with YA Dawn on the Infinity, Steampunk Celestial Voyages, and alternate-history-horror Hellfire. Jeff lives in Norman with his wife Courtney and their houseful of zany animals.

Ally Robertson is an editor for The Wild Rose Press and has been with them since they opened their doors in 2006. She is also a freelance editor and author with more than twenty-five published titles.

Brad Robison‘s book, If the Fence Could Talk, was listed on the Best Seller list in Oklahoma for several weeks in 2015.  Dr. Robison currently serves on the Oklahoma Historical Records Advisory Board and is a member of Oklahoma City Writers, Inc. In addition, Dr. Robison is a member of the College of Education Alumni Society at Oklahoma State University and is a member of the Associates of the same college.

Carl Sennhenn has been a poet and teacher for more than fifty years.  In 2006, his poetry collection Travels Through Enchanted Woods won the Oklahoma Book Award, and in 2013, he won again for Nocturnes and Sometimes Even I. In 2001, he served as Oklahoma Poet Laureate.  During his tenure, he worked with students and gave poetry readings throughout the nation. A treasured figure in Oklahoma arts, he loves working with aspiring poets and generously devotes his time to teaching others and raising awareness of the importance of poetry.

Ryan Sheehan’s background includes several years working in the stock-brokerage industry prior to the publishing industry. Ryan started with Yorkshire Publishing in 2009 and was promoted to his current role in 2014. Ryan earned Bachelor’s Degrees in Marketing and Management from the University of Tulsa.

Barbara Shepherd’s readers say she puts them into the scene–they can see the action and well-rounded characters come alive on the page. Her mainstream historical novel, River Bend, is set on the 1830s Texas frontier. An award-winning author, she also has a cookbook, Vittles and Vignettes, a children’s picture book, The Potbelly Pig Promise, and Patchwork Skin, a poetry chapbook.  Shepherd is a recipe tester for America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country TV shows and magazines and has been a field editor for Taste of Home magazines and cookbooks.

Tricia Skinner was raised in Detroit, Michigan. Professionally, she began her career as a newspaper reporter and wrote for The Detroit News, Investor’s Business Daily, MSN, and The Houston Chronicle. Tricia has 20 years of experience working with the video-game industry in various roles. She’s a published fantasy author in addition to being an agent at the Fuse Literary Agency.

Lauren Smith is a USA Today Bestselling and National Award-winning author of over 25 novels.  Her love of strong characters and wild adventure stories have led to her meeting fans from all around the world. When she isn’t writing or practicing law, she focuses on helping other writers with improving craft, marketing, creating a hybrid career path, and strengthening branding.  As a pentathlete of romance, she writes not only historical romances but also contemporary, new adult, paranormal, and modern gothic romances.

Julia Thomas is the bestselling author of The English Boys and Penhale Wood, contemporary mysteries set in England.  Born and raised in Oklahoma, she is married to novelist Will Thomas and is currently writing her third book.

Laurel Thomas has written for magazines Guideposts, Mysterious Ways, and others. In addition to her foray into fiction with her first novel, Laurel has ghosted nonfiction books and edited others. Laurel holds degrees in English and Counseling. She is a chaplain for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations as well as being a lay pastor. Check out her blog at and her website at

Will Thomas is the bestselling author of the acclaimed Barker and Llewelyn mystery eight-book (so far) series from Simon & Schuster, which began with Some Danger Involved.  He has been a nominee for several national prizes, including the Barry and Shamus Awards.  A native Pennsylvanian, he lives in Oklahoma with his wife.

Kevin Tumlinson is a bestselling and award-winning author, host of the popular Wordslinger podcast, and Director of Marketing for the leading publishing platform, Draft2Digital. His books are available in hundreds of countries worldwide. With a long-standing career in film, television, radio, and podcasting, Kevin is a seasoned world traveler, and has produced documentary programming and films ranging from historic aviation to military history. He currently lives in the Houston area and prefers to work from various cafes, bookshops, and coffee shops around the world.

Kim Ventrella is the author of the middle-grade novel Skeleton Tree (Scholastic Press), which NYT-bestselling author Cassie Beasley called “a powerful and tender story. Kim Ventrella knows when to be playful and when to break your heart.”

Rob Vollmar is an editor for World Literature Today.

Patrick von Wiegandt is a writer, singer, musician, and producer/engineer.  He has also written eight screenplays and many songs.  His most recent CDs are the two Swankys—recorded with Grammy-winning producer/engineer Al Schmitt at Capitol Studios in Hollywood. Both Swankys are collections of songs from the Jazz Age—and a third is currently being recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London.  Patrick has over thirty-five years of experience in the music, recording, and entertainment industry.  He graciously records presentations each year so participants can hear the sessions they are not able to attend. Webpage:

Carla Walker is editor of Oklahoma Humanities magazine, the biannual publication of Oklahoma Humanities, state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She spearheaded the creation and launch of the magazine in 2008 and has edited the work of Pulitzer Prize-winners, poets laureate, bestselling authors, and scholars of national note. Walker is an award-winning interviewer with a background in writing and editing for professional journals, magazines, and cultural publications.

Elaine Warner has flown in hot-air balloons, helicopters, seaplanes and even a glider.  She has climbed into a chasm at night to see dismalites–the glowing larvae of fungus gnats–but draws the line at bungee jumping and hang-gliding.  In addition to articles for a number of publications, she has written two books, Insiders’ Guide to Tulsa and More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Missouri Women. Elaine is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers.

Cheryl Wicker is a PR coach, journalist, and publicist with a passion for teaching effective DIY PR techniques from a journalist’s perspective to enable publicity seekers to bypass agencies and save their budget. Wicker’s career spans the gap between journalism and public relations. She is a former TV news reporter, the producer/host of a music video show and an award-winning video podcast (Christian Movie Connect), and journalist for top online publications. For 6 years, she has operated her own Christian entertainment PR agency, Premier1 Studios.

Rusty Williams is an award-winning nonfiction writer who writes about history through the stories of the people who lived it. His current book, The Red River Bridge War: A Texas-Oklahoma Border Battle (Texas A & M University Press), is the winner of the 2017 Oklahoma Book Award and 2016’s “Outstanding Book on Oklahoma History” award from the Oklahoma Historical Society. He is also the author of My Old Confederate Home: A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans (University Press of Kentucky), Historic Photographs of Dallas in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s (Turner Publishing), and Scatterlings: Blair, Williams, and Turner to Texas—1858 to 1873 (Aventine Press).

John Wooley is a writer, lecturer, and radio host who specializes in the movies, literature, and music of the 1930s and ‘40s as well as other pop-culture history. He has written, co-written, or edited well over thirty books and comics, including the new 1930’s-set epistolary horror novel The Cleansing, with Robert Brown; Right Down the Middle, the as-told-to biography of famed New York Yankees pitcher Ralph Terry; the critically acclaimed biography of moviemaker Wes Craven, The Man and His Nightmares; and Shot in Oklahoma, a look at Sooner State-lensed pictures that was named Best Book on Oklahoma History for 2011 by the Oklahoma Historical Society.