It had been more than 10 years since I last attended the annual Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. conference. The main reason was cost and return on investment. I’ve always been poor, and when I did attend OWFI in the past I seldom felt like I learned enough to justify the expense. So, I had no intention of going this year.
Then Vickey Malone Kennedy contacted me and asked me to b a contest judge. I’ve done this at least twice in the past. I was reluctant, but since I never grade schoolwork at home anymore, I agreed, nervous about a flood of submissions. It turned out there were only eight of them. The best thing about judging was free admission to the conference.
The conference began with a volunteer mixer on Thursday night. I was late because I’m an idiot and went to the Embassy Suites hotel in Norman, OK, instead of OKC. Eh, the conference was in Norman the last time I went. But anyway … despite my lateness, I had a good time and met some new people and won a little Mason jar full of candy.
The conference got off good and proper on Friday morning. The Rockstars of Romance Panel with Lyra Parish, Lauren Smith, and Sally Britton was pretty full and kinda fun. I followed that up with Jodi Thompson’s talk entitled Reviews: Why They Mtter, How to Get Them, and the Truth About Paid Services. This was mostly a talk about the different kinds of reviews and how you shouldn’t pay for them. I knew most of that already.
Blogging and Search Engine Optimization with Marisa Mohi was enlightening, as it’s a topic I’m just now learning about. (See, I just did it there.) Next up was Increase Your Income Through Crafting Engaging Series with James Rosone. This one really just confirmed what I’ve been learning in various online forums … You have to write series to make serious money as an indie author. I would kill for what he said was an off year of income!
Social Media Marketing for People Wo Never Wanted to Be Marketers with J Hall of Okie Bookcast was where I really felt like I started learning stuff. I have a few pages of notes from this talk. Oh, and J liked to use FREE promotions, which I’m all about. Remember up above I said I’m poor?
I skipped out on the ’80s themed prom and costume contest, which unfortunately meant I missed Grady Hendrix’s keynote address. But my dogs needed out to relieve their canine bladders and bowels.
Sunday began with a marketing session run by Nick Thacker and it might prove to be the most valuable of all the sessions I attended. He provided several links to services I’ll be checking out and from there could lead to many new markets and opportunities.
Robyn Conley is fun and I’ve always enjoyed her talks, but I didn’t learn much from her Self-Editing Witout Self-Destructing this time.
Unpacking Your Writing Workshop with Grady Hendrix was the one thing I was looking forward to the most. I’d submitted a sample of The Lost Pages Bookstore for him to critique in front of an audience … and he did. I have to say that Hendrix is a kind, energetic, and thoughtful man. I really enjoyed meeting him. Anyway, he put up a few lines of my book and talked about what he would do differently with them. Then he stayed quite a while after the workshop to talk to people who’d submitted work. He was mostly complimentary about Lost Pages while offering a few more suggestions to make it better.
I had a couple more panels circled to attend, but I decided to skip those and go home to tend to my fur babies so I could return in time for the awards ceremony and banquet. Yes, I’d entered several contests.
These banquets … they are hell for introverts, and worse for introverts who are picky eaters. I really dislike the smell of salad, and yet there it is at the table before you even sit down. But anyway, the food was mostly good (the mashed potatoes were much better than I dared hope). I sat beside Tao Wong, which was great because I’d wanted to attend his talk on Optimizing Facebook Advertising. He offered lots of advice on advertising.
Then it was time for the contest. Category after category went by without me getting so much as an honorable mention … until we got to Unpublished Mainstream Novel, where Lost Pages Bookstore took third place.
That’s it. I had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and met some new people and caught up with a few old friends. I just have to say it’s still weird to me to see Vickey without her Klingon forehead because she was in full costume the first few times I met her.
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