The 2013 OWFI Conference – Part 3, The Sessions

Despite the fact that some of the programs and scheduling had changed, I still kept pretty close to my intended schedule as listed on the OWFI website. I was looking for a balanced approach, one in which I could get as much of a variety of info as possible, trying to meet new people while reconnecting with folks I had met last year.

The opening session on Friday that I attended was the Small Publisher Panel. I was amazed at the passion for good writing that all five people exhibited. It really does seem that the small presses might be more willing to take a chance on a newer writer as long as the quality of writing is good. They seem to work directly with the writers and do not often have contacts with agents. This is a definite plus for those writers looking to break in somewhere. Later on in the conference, I kept crossing paths with Steve Semken of Ice Cube Press and Philip Martin of Crickhollow Books. They were completely accessible, friendly, and very entertaining.

Alex Miner’s discussion on The Supportive Critique Group reminded me of my time in Boston twenty years ago when Joe Gallo, Cathy Coley, and I had an informal critique group, only we didn’t call it that. Nevertheless, by whatever designation it is given, a small supportive group can pave the way toward making your craft better.

After lunch, I attended Lela Davidson’s discussion on The State of Social Media 2013. I had seen her last year and she is still as spunky and funny as before. On the serious side, I validated all of my current efforts by her suggestions.

The last session on Friday was The Hybrid Author: Self-Publishing with an Agent, presented by August McLaughlin. Conceptually, it was fascinating because it bridged two heretofore separate notions. It made me realize that there are enormous and dramatic changes in writing and publishing and that, to be successful, everything must be considered.

Marilyn Collins was a breath of fresh air on Saturday morning. Titled “Spin Your Writing into Magazine Articles for Special Interest Publications”, her presentation was similar to one I attended last year. It made me realize that I needed to stop procrastinating and find some freelance magazine writing work; it’s the surest way to garner bylines and increase your profile.

The session with Romney Nesbit, a creativity coach, was a change for me. I never considered a need for a creativity coach for myself, but when she answered the question of When to Say No, I took great heed to her comments.

The last session on Saturday was a disappointment. Out of respect for the gentleman, I will not provide his name. He was a book publicist who did not provide feedback on general ideas for publicity. Rather he “suggested” we opt for his fee of approximately $4000 (with other services a sum total of $20,000) for him to pass your name out to the numerous celebrities he knows from his many years. It was disingenuous for the man to make such a suggestion to writers looking for advice and feedback and are not full-time or professional as of yet. Many people left his session; I stayed for entertainment value.

Overall, with the one disappointment, it was highly informative all the way across the board and very worthwhile.



  1. nancyhsturm said,

    May 9, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Nice summary, H.B. I attended different break-out sessions, but found all (but one) very informative. Everyone was friendly and approachable, an added plus. Thanks for sharing.


    • H.B. Berlow said,

      May 9, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      And that was the joy of getting together in between sessions and afterward. I felt like we all blanketed the entire conference.


  2. Gwen said,

    May 10, 2013 at 6:41 am

    Conferences are great. You can learn a lot, but there are the occasional disappointments. That last guy sounds like a first class swindler. Glad you could see it for its comedic value. Hopefully, nobody was taken in.


    • H.B. Berlow said,

      May 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      We had a good laugh about him at the end of the session. Who knows? He might be a character in a future work.


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