Tuesday, May 5, 2015
OWFI WAS AWESOME!
Well, I’ve been home from Oklahoma City for a full day now and am pretty well decompressed and ready to talk about my experience there.
In short, it was WONDERFUL! I’ve been to a ton of writing conferences—some as an attendee and some as a presenter—and while just about every one of them was a great experience, not a one is any better than the OWFI (Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc.) annual event. This is such a “user-friendly” gathering and I enjoyed every single moment—from being allowed to get up and yak in front of everyone to the moments I spent in my “office” – the front of the hotel where I smoked and got to meet and chat with all kinds of people like “Goatboy” Frank Steele and his play writing partner Amy Shojai, to Vickey Kennedy to Becky Franklin to a whole bunch of people I wish I could name but would run out of room. I better explain the nickname I gave Frank Steele—“Goatboy”—before he visits me and I end up in a Ft. Wayne swamp with a .22 rattling around in my brainpan. Actually, I don’t think Frank would ever do that, but… During one of my talks, I did a Q&A and Frank asked me something from way back in the room and I couldn’t hear anything but one word—“goat.” So, naturally… He turned out to be one of my new best friends and we did our best to keep the tobacco industry running smoothly.
I’d been looking forward to the convention for many months, ever since my Forever Best Friend, Dawn Allen invited me to be the keynote speaker. My one regret during the event was that we never got to spend a lot of time together. She was busy organizing everything and putting our fires and I was busy… smoking…
In one respect, I don’t like doing these summaries. They’re like interviews where you’re asked to name your favorite writers and after you’re done and it’s gone to print, you think of ten others you wished you’d mentioned. I know right now I’m going to forget someone and then hate myself for not recognizing them. So, to whoever I leave out, please forgive me—it’s my Halfzeimer’s at work again! I don’t know how many were in attendance—I had thought 5-600 hundred and then saw something that said there were 1500, and I don’t know, but I think I got to interact with at least a thousand of them and each meeting was fantastic.
One guy I won’t forget is Lee Lofland. Lee and I have been online friends for a long, long time and I was anxious to meet him in person. Being—you know—from the criminal class while Lee is from the “enemy” class—a former cop. No surprises—we hit it off famously. Cops and outlaws aren’t all that different—it’s like that thin line that separates geniuses and idiots (criminals being the genius side, of course…)—we’re more alike than we’re different. We got to share a bunch of stories and I told him and meant it—that in my criminal days, it would have been an honor to have been cuffed by him… if he could catch me… Just a great, great guy.
Another guy was Doug (Dougy) Kelley, who was a hoot! Dude has some great stories about his pilot adventures, especially a few encounters he had with Bill Clinton. Dougy (he’s gonna hate that!) did so danged much to help me out. I wish he’d adopt me and give me a good home… Had great, great conversations with him and Carol Johnson who is drop-dead gorgeous and sooooo funny!
I met Richard Thomas in Chicago where it turned out we were on the same flight. What a great guy! Unfortunately, he had to leave early because of illness with his family, but I got to attend one of his talks and it was fantastic. We’re going to meet up again in a few days at the WRW event in San Antonio and should get a lot of face-to-face time there. A totally interesting and informative writer-dude!
Got to chat (not enough) with the lovely and charming Michelle Johnson—really a brilliant mind.
And, then, there’s H.B. Berlow… whose real name is “Hugh” which explains his use of initials. He became my New Best Friend… well, one of ‘em. We REALLY hit it off. I’m sorry I missed him just as I was leaving as Jack Lord emailed me to see if he could get his shirt back from him… If you look at the photos of Hughy and me, you’ll see why we hit it off so well—we both look like we belong on the post office wall… I don’t, but he does…
Natasha Hanova and Maria Veres were just two of the many people who really rocked and kept things running smoothly. And were just fun people to chat with.
Two of my best friends for years online made the drive from Kansas so we could meet in person and that was a super treat. Mike Klaassen and BR Stateham and his lovely wife. Didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with them. BR’s one of my favorite crime writers and Mike’s a writing teacher who is also an editor for Wikipedia. Years and years ago, he emailed me (I didn’t know who he was at that time) to tell me he’d taken the liberty of creating an Wikipedia entry for me and I didn’t know what to say at the time, except “thanks.” Then, when I told my teenaged son Mike about it, he proceeded to tell me that it was a really big deal and that I was so five minutes ago. Thanks, Mike—for doing the one thing that made my boy think I was something other than the guy who made him make his bed up in the morning…
Got to meet a bunch of heavyweights in the writing game. Folks like Mel Odom who has written over 200 books—what th’ hell? Does he ever sleep? Got to see my ol’ buddy Jodi Thompson who I met last year at the Dallas-Ft. Worth writer’s convention.
A bunch of other people I’ll always remember—folks like Eric Reitan to whom I introduced the subject of philosophy to and recommended some books he should try for an intro to the subject (that’s an inside joke, folks…), Tony LoPresti, Vinita Eggers, Holly Jahangiri, the two lovely ladies I sat with for awhile at the bar, a gorgeous redhead and beautiful blonde—sorry, ladies for not knowing your names! (Halfzeimer’s…), and just a host of wonderful, lovely, talented folks.
I will never forget the warm hospitality and the many friendships I forged in Oklahoma City. You are indeed, a gracious people and I love all of ya! I hope you’ll consider having me back some day. It truly was the best time I’ve ever had with all my clothes on.
Now. I have to go draw the bath and strew the rose petals… I missed our regular Friday night sesh with my lovely wife Eye Candy and have to make up for it. Which means I’ll have to spring for an extra two Bics…
And, again, I am truly sorry for the folks I forgot to mention and I know I have. Please know that you’re not forgotten in my heart!