Writers Symposium 2017


Short Schedule 2017

Friday Schedule—AuthorFest!

  Auditorium Room 2


Mysteries and Thrillers

Lou Berney, Lara Bernhardt, Jaz Primo

Publicizing Your Book

Tamara Grantham, Sabrina Fish, Gary Conrad


Nonfiction Panel

Alton Carter, William Bernhardt, Nikki Hanna

Fantasy Panel

Tamara Grantham, Sabrina Fish, Lara Bernhardt



Audiobooks, Podcasts & Blogs

Lara Bernhardt, William Bernhardt


Author Webpages That Work

Lou Berney, Jeanne Devlin, Selma Mann



Publishing Panel

Jeanne Devlin, Lara Bernhardt, Sean Callahan

Finding Joy in Writing

Nikki Hanna, Selma Mann, Alton Carter


Reception with Speakers and Guests



Friday Evening Program


Saturday Schedule-SkillsFest!

  Room 1 Room 2 Room 3 Room 4


Plot and Narrative Structure

Lou Berney

Understanding Author Contracts

Jeanne Devlin


Margaret Bail

Dialogue: Creating Tension and Subtext

Constance Squires


Marketing Effectively Through Social Media

Lou Berney

Websites, Newsletters, and Street Teams

Tamara Grantham

Kindle Scout

Lara Bernhardt




Thinking About Theme

William Bernhardt

Writers & Editors: From Acquisition to Sale Date

Jeanne Devlin

Effective and Creative Journaling

Jennifer Kidney

Writers Facing Difficult Decisions

Jaz Primo



The First-Page Panel

Margaret Bail, Dave Forrer, Jeanne Devlin




Bringing Your Story to Life on the Page

Lou Berney

Redefining the Everyday in Poetry

Jennifer Kidney

Perfecting Your Query Letter

Tamara Grantham

Writing for Young People

Gina Conroy


Creating a Meaningful Poetry Collection

Carl Sennhenn

How to Mesmerize Your Reader

Gary Conrad

Winning Contests

Nikki Hanna

Plotting Your Genre

Sabrina Fish


Agent Q&A

Dave Forrer, Margaret Bail

Effective Self-Promotion for Authors

Sabrina Fish



Patrick von Wiegandt

Publishing Poetry Without an MFA

Selma Mann


Creating Three-Dimensional Characters

Margaret Bail

Writing a Compelling Memoir

Nikki Hanna

Effective Marketing Strategies

Sean Callahan

Write a Better Book/Be a Better Person

Alton Carter


Open Mike Party with Speakers and Guests







Mysteries and Thrillers: The Art of Deception – Lou Berney, Lara Bernhardt, Jaz Primo, moderating --
Thrillers are more popular than ever, and more varied too, with many taking on elements of science fiction, fantasy, or the paranormal. Learn how these three authors, including Oklahoma’s only author to win the Edgar Award, deal with this ever-expanding genre.

Publicizing Your Book – Gary Conrad, Tamara Grantham, Sabrina Fish, moderating —
In today’s publishing world, whether you publish traditionally or self-publish, you will need to market and publicize your book. What are the most effective ways to accomplish this? What works and what doesn’t? Is it ever worthwhile to spend money on advertising? In this session, our marketing experts will tell you what they’ve learned.


Nonfiction Writing: Illuminating Reality – Nikki Hanna, William Bernhardt, Alton Carter, moderating –

Nonfiction is not what it used to be. Traditional forms have yielded to a surge in creative nonfiction, instructional books, inspirational works, and memoir, all blending the elements of many genres to produce compelling and original works. Learn how these authors have innovated and excelled.

Fantasy: The Art of Magic – Lara Bernhardt, Sabrina Fish, Tamara Grantham, moderating —
Fantasy now dominates young adult fiction and is an important fixture in adult fiction as well. Blockbuster series like Twilight and The Hunger Games have expanded definitions and brought more readers to the field than ever before. Learn how these three successful writers have developed their unique worlds.


Audiobooks and Podcasts: Mastering Modern Media — Lara Bernhardt, William Bernhardt, moderating —

Every year since 2009, audiobooks sales have increased by three-digit percentages. Every year experts predict the trend will level off—but it hasn’t happened yet. Freedom from tangible media and the ease of digital downloads have produced a market in which audio sales often exceed print. Learn how you can become a part of this thriving market.

Author Webpages That Work – Lou Berney, Selma Mann, Jeanne Devlin, moderating –

It’s official—Amazon outsells Wal-Mart. More people buy books online than in stores—by a large percentage. Now that the marketplace is primarily digital, you need to make sure you have staked out your place in it. Every author needs a webpage. This panel will tell you how to make it most effective, maximizing traffic and making the most of your online visitors.


Publishing in the 21st Century — Lara Bernhardt, M.C. Callahan, Jeanne Devlin, moderating —
Publishing has changed dramatically since 2009. eBooks outsell print, Amazon outsells brick and mortar stores, and authors are finding more opportunities and paths to publishing success than ever before. As Darwin told us, the ones who survive are the one who adapt. This panel will tell you how to adapt and survive in these challenging times.

Finding Joy in Writing — Selma Mann, Alton Carter, Nikki Hanna, moderating —

We all want to publish. We all want to sell books. But don’t we also want to be happy? When did we forget why we wanted to write and publish books in the first place? This very important panel will help you focus your goals and restore the joy to writing.


RECEPTION WITH SPEAKERS AND GUESTS – all authors are invited to bring books, sign autographs, and meet guests.


Evening Presentation –

The evening presentation will feature introductory remarks and orientation, an inspirational presentation from Alton Carter, poetry from Selma Mann, music from Patrick von Wiegandt, and the announcement of the contest winners.  The highlight of the evening will be the keynote address from Lou Berney.





Grab the Reader and Don’t Let Go: Plot and Narrative Structure – Lou Berney --
This Edgar Award-winning author will guide attendees through a close look at narrative structure and dramatic conflict – the elements of a story that keep readers turning the pages.

Understanding Author Contracts— Jeanne Devlin —

Whether you have an agent or not, understanding the basic book contract is part of becoming a published author and the key to a happy, no-surprises relationship with your publisher. Editor-in-Chief Devlin will give you the knowledge you need to be one of the happy ones.

Blogging Effectively – Margaret Bail --

There’s a lot of blogging these days, but let’s face it—most of it is little noticed and fails to generate any heat for the authors or sales for their books. But blogging has been the launch pad for several huge writing careers. Could yours be the next? Learn how to do it right.

Dialogue: Creating Tension and Subtext – Constance Squires --

Dialogue is key to novels, and often is the part readers enjoy most. But how do you use it most effectively? How do you write dialogue that gives the reader more than mere information? How do you use it give reader insight into what the characters aren’t saying? Squires explains.


Marketing Effectively Through Social Media – Lou Berney –

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have provided many opportunities for writers. Could it help you, even if you’d rather write than mess about on the internet? How do you best present yourself and your work? Learn how to do it right.

Websites, Newsletters, and Street Teams – Tamara Grantham –
Award-winning author Tamara Grantham shares her secrets on how to create a website that will promote your author brand, drive subscriptions to your newsletter, create a successful street team, and ultimately increase sales for your books.  

Kindle Scout: Storming the Gates of Amazon Publishing – Lara Bernhardt
Amazon Publishing (Amazon’s traditional publishing house—NOT self-publishing) is arguably the most successful publisher in the US (if it were in NYC, it would rank third in the Big Five). Its association with the retailer that sells over 50% of all books obviously gives it a marketing advantage. But can you get in without waiting a year or obtaining an agent? Yes.


Thinking About Theme – William Bernhardt –
Theme is often one of the last elements of novel writing that authors consider, and yet, it can be the distinguishing factor separating an okay novel from a profound and memorable reading experience. Learn how to use theme wisely to add depth to your story without becoming pedantic, dull, or trite.

Writers & Editors: From Acquisition to Sale Date – Jeanne Devlin
Your book is finished and you're itching to see it published, but it’s time now to take a deep breath.  The journey from acquisition to on-sale date is stop-and-go for a reason. Learn how to make the most of it and have a successful publishing experience.

Effective and Creative Journaling – Jennifer Kidney —
Keeping a journal can be an easy way to start writing, continue writing, and develop specific writing projects in any genre. But a journal can also be an end in itself.  This program will cover famous and not so famous journal writers and their reasons for keeping journals.  The workshop will help participants decide what kind of journal would be most useful and will also include brainstorming ideas and writing exercises. 

Writers Facing Difficult Decisions – Jaz Primo –

Authors benefit from how-to workshops, step-by-step tutorials, and insightful presentations designed to hone their writing skills and their knowledge of publishing. However, beyond such sessions, authors still face difficult, and sometimes subjective, questions that may not be addressed by mainstream presentations. This session guides authors in evaluating some of the most difficult questions and conundrums facing them. 

12:00-1:30- During the lunch hour, food will be made available, though you are welcome to bring your own. Either way, you can stay on campus and enjoy the lunch-hour programming.

The First-Page Panel – Margaret Bail, Dave Forrer, Jeanne Devlin --

Please submit the first page of your work-in-progress in advance in the box on the registration table and we will discuss as many of them as possible.  Our blunt but well-informed panel will tell you what works, what doesn’t, and what to do about it.


Bringing Your Story to Life on the Page – Lou Berney --
Detail and description are essential to storytelling, but too much – or the wrong kind – can sink a good scene. In this session, Guest-of-Honor Lou Berney will discuss how to find the perfect balance.

Redefining the Everyday in Poetry — Jennifer Kidney —
This program will explore the poetic strategies of Emily Dickinson, particularly her poems of imaginative definition, and will demonstrate how modern and contemporary poets have used her techniques to keep their poetry fresh and interesting.

Perfecting Your Query Letter – Tamara Grantham —
Award-winning author Tamara Grantham will share insider information on how to craft a query that will stand out from the rest, how to research agents and publishers, and how to utilize online tools such as Twitter to land an agent or publisher.

Writing for Young People – Gina Conway –

Writing for young people isn't as simple as sitting down and plotting an adult novel. While the elements of storytelling are the same, Middle Grade and Young Adult stories have distinctions authors must master to write for the market. In this workshop, you will learn what every author needs to know to write for young people and craft a successful novel for the tween and teen market. 


Creating a Meaningful Poetry Collection – Carl Sennhenn –

The poet's life and reflections upon it can be the major inspiration for a book or a chapbook of poems.  How best to organize those reflections to speak to, and also of, the reader's experience and enjoyment of poetry will be the focus of this workshop.

How to Mesmerize Your Reader (Through Great Writing) – Gary Conrad —
This entertaining and engaging author will provide simple tools you can use to keep those pages turning and your readers glued to the page.

Writing Contests —Nikki Hanna —

From a contest judge and the winner of numerous awards, including Oklahoma Writers’ Federation’s Crème de la Crème and the Rose State College’s Outstanding Writer Award, participants will learn how to become more competitive in contests. They will discover craft techniques vital to winning, how to use contests to improve writing skills, and how to find joy and purpose through contests.

Plotting Your Genre —Sabrina Fish —

When writing genre fiction, it's important to understand that each genre has a collection of general rules and expectations. Understanding what genre you're writing will help guide you when plotting your novel. In this workshop, this successful fantasy author will touch on some of the specific rules of the different genres, focusing most specifically on the fantasy and romance genres and how she incorporated both into her most recent fantasy romance novel, Diomere's Exile.


Agent Q&A — Margaret Bail, David Forrer — TSC

Everyone has questions about literary agents. Do I need one? Why? What are the advantages and disadvantages? How do I get their attention? What will they do for me? What can I do for them?  Ask two of the best agents in the field all the questions buzzing in your brain.

Creating a Book Marketing Plan — Sabrina Fish —

Every author, editor, and agent will tell you that the responsibility of successfully marketing your book rests most heavily on you. And it doesn't matter if you are traditionally or self-published. In this workshop, Sabrina Fish will share some important steps to include when creating your book marketing plan.

Screenplays — Patrick von Wiegandt —

Have you ever said "I have an idea" or "That would make a great movie?” Welcome

to the club. Patrick von Wiegandt will tell you how to go from having that idea to getting your screenplay written and presented to agents and producers.

Publishing Poetry Without an MFA– Selma Mann –

Selma Mann will describe her unexpected journey to becoming a published poet. It takes audacity, an insistent muse, and willingness to be vulnerable, to set aside demons of insecurity and fear. Selma Mann discovered her inner poet following a series of devastating losses. Find out how she did it.


Creating Three-Dimensional Characters — Margaret Bail —
Many elements comprise a good novel, but one of the hardest to handle well is character and characterization. If the reader doesn’t care about your characters, or doesn’t find them interesting, your book will never succeed. Find out how to create characters that rivet readers to the page.

Writing a Compelling Memoir– Nikki Hanna –

From a writer who has published three award-winning memoirs, participants will learn keys to producing a memoir so rich and moving that a robust legacy unfolds. Publishing and writing techniques are revealed that take a memoir to a higher level so readers are moved to treasure the book and inspired to share it with future generations.

Beyond Social Media: Marketing Strategies That Work– Sean Callahan –

Want to build a bigger audience and make more money? Sean Callahan delivers practical book marketing strategies, tactics, and hacks for today’s wacky publishing world. The publishing world is changing—FAST! Merge proven evergreen business fundamentals with the latest innovative tools to get your author business fired up and ready to blast off.

Write a Better Book/Be a Better Person – Alton Carter –

Teen readers crave stories they can disappear into and characters with whom they can identify. In this session, Carter will look at the emerging emphasis on diversity in young adult literature and consider how our own writing can more fully reflect the world we live in.



Private Consultations with Agents, Editors, Publicists, Marketers, Poets, and Writers