Top: On left, Velda Brotherton with Radine Trees Nehring at Free Conference

Lower: Conference attendees paying close attention to us.
Photos by John Nehring

For about 7 or 8 years now our critique group has held an all-day free conference open to all writers. All they have to do is register by email so we have a head count. Early on we learned not to let them go out to lunch. Those first couple of years we had stragglers coming in chatting and otherwise interrupting the afternoon session, so we now feed them on site for a small cost and ask those who don’t wish to do that to bring their own lunch. That way, we keep them in the building.

This year our conference was extremely successful with about 50 in attendance. The room, which is donated to us once a year by Ozarks Electric in Fayetteville AR (a board member of that organization happens to be the actual founder of our critique group), had tables and comfortable chairs, a small kitchen and plenty of room for tables which we offer to any published author who wants to display and sell her or his books.
This year, we had some super guests including Radine Trees Nehring, Delois McGrew, President of Ozarks Writers League, Ruth Weeks, a rookie member who told all the things she’s learned about writing, Chuck Sasser, a powerful writer of men’s adventure, and of course our own Dusty Richards. These writers all donate their time to keep the conference free and you know what? We’ve never had any trouble finding at least a couple of super writers from outside our group who do just that. Writers are for the most part the most generous people in the world.
Radine and I shared what it’s like to be a writer, all the pitfalls and great expectations, in a teatime chat that went over very well. We must’ve been good actors for the skit, for everyone said they really enjoyed it. A local bookseller in attendance asked us to do the skit at her bookstore, Trolley Line Bookstore in Rogers, AR, soon. We readily agreed, it was such fun. Radine’s latest book in her popular mystery series is A Journey to Die For.
Chuck, on deadline for his latest book, took the time to help us out. He shared his insights in building conflict, never letting up on your character until the very end of the book. He said he felt that this is the main problem with most beginning writer’s work. There is not enough conflict. Conflict is not two people arguing, or a mother fighting with her kids. Conflicts are the things that come along that keep our characters from reaching their goals. And, Chuck said, each one should be bigger than the last. Readers will not identify or root for your character if he or she isn’t strong, and they prove this by overcoming one conflict after another.
Linda Apple, an inspirational writer with one book out and another on the way, shared some humorous outlooks on life. Her theme: Do you want the talking heads on TV to tell how you lived your life? Write about those everyday things that happen. Those short experiences that are inspirational or humorous or sad. Uplifting and humorous is the key. Her books are Inspire: Writing from the Soul, and Connect: A simple guide to public speaking for writers.
Dusty rounded out the day with a Power Point presentation on writing your novel. He shared his knowledge of 25 years or more. This award winning author is coming up on his 100th published western and he has plenty of information to share. He talked about setting with sparse words within the action; of getting to know your characters before you write about them; of dividing your book into four sections that make it easy to put together.
Members of our group pitched in to see that everything went smoothly. We couldn’t have done it without them. It was a great day, and we’ll do it again next year. If you want to make sure you are notified, send your email address to me and I’ll put you on my newsletter mailing list.

About veldabrotherton

For thirty years I've been a writer. Publication of my work began in 1994 . I'm pleased to have recently settled with Oghma Creative Media as my publisher. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. I recently signed a contract to write westerns again, and what fun it's been working on the first one. If I weren't writing my life wouldn't be so exciting.
This entry was posted in Chuck Sasser, Delois McGrew, Free Conference, Linda Apple, OWLs, Radine Trees Nehring, Velda Brotherton, writing. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Wish I could read that, Touch. Is it Chinese or Japanese? I don't know the difference. My grandson reads, writes and speaks Chinese. Maybe I'll ask him if I can catch him long enough. Thanks for commenting, anyway.

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