2021 Craft of Writing Conference

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Our 2021 Craft of Writing Conference was held at Triumph Worship Center, 2125 W. 181st St. S., Glenpool, Oklahoma on October 16, 2021. Triumph is located 4-miles south of Glenpool on Highway 75 at the corner of W. 181st St. South.  Thank you Pastor Rob Griffin, for allowing us to freely use this marvelous facility as a community service.

The conference included a full range of excellent presenters, kicked off by best-selling, award winning keynote speaker Michael Wallis. I’m sorry we did not have enough zooming facilities to record every session, but we were able to capture the sessions in the main auditorium.

Here are the links to the morning and afternoon sessions.  If you do not want to watch the sessions straight through, you can fast forward to any spot where you decide to pause. Just make note of the minute where you stopped, and pick up from there.  Enjoy and learn.

Part 1 …. https://youtu.be/kumQJEve_ZU

Part 2 …. https://youtu.be/JN4AHCwAXl8

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It has been said, “Reading a Michael Wallis book is like dancing to a romantic ballad. He offers his hand and gently guides you across the floor, swaying to the song of the American West.”

Michael is a historian and biographer of the American West who also has gained international notoriety as a speaker and voice talent. In 2006 Michael’s distinctive voice was heard in Cars, an animated feature film from Pixar Studios. He has published nineteen books, including the award winning Route 66: The Mother Road, the book credited with sparking the resurgence of interest in the highway. He also wrote The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate. Michael’s latest book is the critically acclaimed best-seller The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny — was published in June 2017. In 2018, the Museum of New Mexico Press published the highly acclaimed Los Luceros: New Mexico’s Morning Star. 

His work has appeared in hundreds of national and international magazines and newspapers, including Time, Life, People, Smithsonian, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. Michael has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize and was also a nominee for the National Book Award. In 2016 he received an Emmy Award for his work in the documentary film, Boomtown.

Michael was inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame of America, the Missouri Writer’s Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Professional Writer’s Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame, and the Tulsa Hall of Fame.


Elizabeth Van Deusen

Elizabeth Staab Van Deusen often describes herself as a “crazy writer lady.” She has been telling stories since early childhood and received her bachelor’s degree in writing in 2009. While she currently devotes most of her time to her two young children, Elizabeth keeps in practice with the occasional self-publishing project and by completing NaNoWriMo every year. She has been a NaNoWriMo participant for twelve years now, and this is her second year as the Tulsa region’s Municipal Liaison.

Make NaNoWriMo Work for You

This session explores what National Novel Writing Month is, what it is not, how to get connected, and how to make the most of the month of November with the NaNoWriMo community. Use NaNoWriMo to help you accomplish your own writing goals, no matter what your level of experience, and have a lot of fun in the process!


Christopher Murphy

Christopher Murphy received his MFA from The University of Arkansas and is currently an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Northeastern State University. He reads for Nimrod International Journal. His work has been published at Gulf Coast (online), This LandJellyfish ReviewNecessary FictionThe Tulsa Voice, and decomP among others. He has a collection of flash fiction, Burning All the Time, coming in summer 2021 from Mongrel Empire Press.

Point of View

Choosing point-of-view is a decisive, early decision in writing a piece of fiction. In this lecture, we’ll cover all the standard points-of-view, from the characterizing intimacy of 1st to the chilly distance of 3rd Objective, with all their strengths and limitations. We’ll even cover some non-standard options.  The lecture will define terms, discuss examples from literature, and get you writing in various POVs.

Settings/World Building

Often either overlooked or overemphasized, setting and world building are potent, tricky forces in fiction. We’ll discuss how to build world, how to avoid common missteps in establishing and utilizing setting, and how to leverage place as a rich element in your work (without bogging down pacing or drawing too much attention to the writer’s hand). Whether your work is set in Oklahoma or outer space, we’ll navigate the possibilities and difficulties.


Bre Lockart

A native Tulsan with a background in technical writing and public relations, Bre Lockhart is an experienced fiction editor for Three Point Author Services, a contributing writer for Indie Author Magazine, and an author of novels, serials, and short stories in the genres of urban fantasy, sci-fi, poetry, and mystery under multiple pen names. When not writing or editing, Bre enjoys the outdoors, travel, cooking, and concerts. As an outgoing extrovert, she likes to tell people that networking is her superpower.

The Outline: Best Friend or Archenemy?

You’ve probably heard the terms “pantser” and “plotter,” and you likely know what category you fall into without much thought. You might even have strong feelings about why one process is superior to the other. During this session, we’ll challenge both sides of that argument as we discuss various outlining and anti-outlining methods and how you can make those work for you with ease.  The presentation will include visual examples, handouts, and conversation, plus time for Q&A at the end. Attendees should leave with new resources and tools to better help during the novel planning stages.


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Renee’ La Viness has been published in newspapers and magazines and has been heavily involved in the creation of multiple short story and flash fiction anthologies. She climbed to the top of the career ladder as an editor at 4RV Publishing from 2013 to 2018. Currently, she edits short stories and children’s books, and she sponsors and judges at least five annual writing contests. Renee’ has won more than thirty writing awards.

Tips on Writing Short Stories and Flash Fiction

Writing short stories and flash fiction is all about saying more in less words and hiding clues in plain sight. The same skills are handy for writing novels. Imagine how much more you can say if you know how to write tight. Bring your thinking cap and sharpen your mental scissors. We’re going to have some fun!


Betsy Kolakowski

Betsey Kulakowski is the author of The Veritas Codex Series. As a safety professional with 30 years of experience and a degree in Emergency Management, she’s helped thousands of companies protect their workers, and been involved in recovery efforts and many major disasters, including the Murrah Bombing, the World Trade Center, Hurricane Katrina, and multiple Oklahoma tornadoes. Her experiences as a trained investigator has taught her to study the human condition; a skill that informs her writing.

Creating Authentic Characters Your Readers Will Love

Think of all the great books you’ve read and loved. What did they all have in common? Chances are they all had authentic characters you fell in love with and maybe even wished you could be friends with. Great characters are the anchor of a strong story. In this session we’ll break down how to create authentic characters that will keep your readers coming back for more.


Julie Kimmel-Harbaugh

A freelance editor, Julie Kimmel-Harbaugh is also an award-winning writer and a certified educator. Her published works include songs, lesson plans, articles, and short stories. Julie served as Communications Director and Editor of Tulsa NightWriters Club for four years. She is a three-time recipient of the club’s Golden Circle award, and in 2015, the membership honored her with the NightWriter of the Year award. Originally from Texas, she now lives on Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees in the foothills of the Ozark Mountain Range.

 Avoiding Common Editing Mistakes: How to Be an Amazing Self-Editor.

Class Description: Turn your manuscript from ordinary to extraordinary by avoiding mistakes writers often make during the self-editing process. In doing so, you’ll save money in professional editing fees and wow agents and publishers. This class will cover some of the most common self-editing mistakes and how to correct them. While the presentation will be geared toward fiction writing, most of the content will also apply to nonfiction.


Tierney James

Besides serving as a Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and attending Space Camp for Educators, Tierney served as a Geo-teacher for National Geographic. Her love of travel and cultures took her on adventures throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. From the Great Wall of China to floating the Okavango Delta of Botswana, Tierney weaves her unique experiences into the adventures she loves to write. Living on a Native American reservation and in a mining town, fuels the characters in the Enigma and Dark Side series. She also helps beginning writers in their quest to becoming a published author through her workshops and classes. Family, an adopted dog and gardening fill her life with plenty of laughter to share with others.

Tension & Stakes

Learn a few tricks to keep your plot moving by creating tension and high stakes that keep your story moving. Learn to focus on your characters, who continue to grow and change as your readers get sucked into your page-turning novel. Explore the kinds of roadblocks (or stakes) you position in your book that will keep fans coming back for more. Whether your book is a standalone or part of a series, these tips will give you the freedom to write and feel productive. Tierney is the author of sixteen books. The Enigma and Dark Side Series have all been best sellers on Amazo

Plot and Story Structure

Tierney James will help you structure and plot your novel, whether you’re a pantser or a plotter. She’ll show you her methods when writing her action-adventure and thriller novels that have helped her become an Amazon Best Selling Author. Taking one step at a time or all at once, you’ll find out some simple ways to inspire yourself to keep writing and finish that next best seller. Tierney has written novels and children’s books, as well as a marketing book for writers.


Rex Griffin

Current President of the Tulsa NightWriters, Rex Griffin graduated from The University of Oklahoma, and has studied the craft of writing under Jack Bickham, Donald Maass, Lisa Cron, William Bernhardt, and James Scott Bell. An avid historian and Civil War re-enactor, Rex grew up on tales of Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), once home to Union and Confederate armies, Missouri Bushwhackers, renegade Comanches, runaway slaves, desperate outlaws, Buffalo Soldiers, Kansas Jayhawkers, frontier marshals, and Native Americans forced there at the point of a bayonet. Americans all, they forged who we are today, deserve to be known, and demand to be heard. Rex wants to tell their stories. His first novel, Fury of the Muscogee Moon is due out at Christmas. He is currently writing his second, Time to Strike.

Conflict and Motivation

Conflict fuels fiction. Motives drive your characters. In this class we will analyze inner and outer conflict, and see how one can feed the other. We will study the power of cause and effect, or stimulus-reaction, and how that power can translate into the Motivational-Reaction Unit (MRU) stepping stones from which to sweep your reader along with increasing waves of intensity.

Crafting Emotions: Make Your Reader Feel It

Emotions matter for you and for your reader. In this presentation we will excavate emotions to elevate your story. We will analyze the Three Layer of Emotion, show how to bond your reader with your protagonist, expand deep emotions and express inexpressible ones, demonstrate big emotions with small details and blow up small emotions to make them big. We will rant, cross the line, and build an emotional story world.


Casie Bazay

Casie Bazay is a former middle school teacher who now works as a freelance writer, editor, and author. Her debut young adult novel, Not Our Summer, released in May of 2021, making the Oklahoma Bestsellers list for two weeks in a row. In Casie’s spare time, she enjoys exploring the great outdoors, spending time at the barn with her horses and goats, reading, and watching movies. She lives on a hay farm in Oklahoma with her husband and two children but loves traveling to new and exciting destinations whenever she can.

Directions for Dialog: External vs. Internal in Fiction Writing

In this class, we’ll define and fully explore internal and external dialogue in fiction writing, both of which are necessary for deep characterization. Whether you prefer to write in third person or first, and no matter the fiction genre, all writers need a good grasp of both types of dialogue. When properly balanced with action and description, external dialogue and especially internal dialogue will enhance the emotional power of your writing and help to create interesting characters that readers will continue to think about long after they’ve finished the book.