Event: Ozark Writers’ League Conference

Location: “Hard Work U,” Branson, MO

Length: 1 day

Website: http://www.ozarkswritersleague.org/

This was one of the smaller events, I’d guess about 40 attendees. What these typically lack in flashy items like A-list keynotes, they more than make up in personal attention and more one-on-one time with presenters.

There was an industry element with two agents and one editor, but the focus appeared to be on education, especially concerning the changing role of the writer in today’s publishing environment. There were several presentations and discussions with published authors, marketing experts, and the like. A handful of independent presses and published authors were available at tables and in between sessions.

My obligations were limited to a few hours of pitches and a Q&A panel, and the rest of the time was free to talk with the writers about specific issues. The work I saw varied quite a bit from mystery to fantasy to narrative nonfiction. There was even a solid western component, perhaps due to their longtime supporter and OWL success story, the unforgettable Dusty Richards.

The overall mood was very laid back, open, and warm. It was rather refreshing. There was a noticeable lack of the opportunistic competition that sometimes plagues these events. What I found was a true writing community that supports their constituents. That’s really ideal. It’s difficult enough to get published well, and we can all greatly increase our chances of success by keeping in mind where we’re coming from, what is really important, and that we’re not alone. Perhaps one of the indie publishers in attendance said it best with their slogan “For the love of writing.”

From what I could tell, this event was entirely supported by the graciousness of the attendees. In an astounding display of community, they apparently donated items and then bid on them in a rather spirited auction in order to perpetuate these quarterly meetings. It was infectious. I don’t know how I resisted coming home with that slightly used banjo (though United probably would have lost it anyway).

That’s it for now. Next up: PIMA Writers’ Conference in Tucson.