Join Us at the OWFI Conference

Updated Links

Most of you know from following me that I am President of Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. We have been hard at work, on preparations for the event. (Check out Natasha Hanova, Conference Chair)  It takes place May 1-2, 2015 at the Embassy Suites in OKC. Find more details on the OWFI website.

This year’s theme is Writing Zone: Craft from the Ground Up and is perfect for writer’s just starting out as well as established writers. (Sessions will include 101 level and professional craft sessions) Attendees can sign up to pitch their work to the agents and publishers in attendance. There will be Buzz Sessions on Friday night where members can discuss different aspects of writing in a relaxed atmosphere. Join us!

Below you can find information about most of our speakers, presenters, agents, and publishers.

LesEdgertonLes Edgerton is a full-time writer with fifteen books in print. He I teaches creative writing on the university level, through private coaching of writers, and on various on-line venues. He writes in a variety of forms: novels, short stories, nonfiction books, screenplays and the subjects he chooses to write about are just as varied, including sports, literary fiction, thrillers, black comedy and the craft of writing.

His work has been nominated for or won: the Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, Derringer Award, Spinetingler Magazine Thriller of the Year (Legends category), Jesse Jones Book Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award (short story category), Violet Crown Book Award, and others. His screenplays have placed as a semifinalist in the Nicholl’s Foundation Script-writing Award, and as a finalist in the Best of Austin and Writer’s Guild’s screenwriting awards. His 18th book, a black comedy crime caper, titled The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping came out in October from Down & Out Books.

Social media: www.lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com
Twitter: @HookedOnNoir
Email: butchedgerton@comcast.net


Richard ThomasRichard Thomas is the author of six books—Disintegration and The Breaker (Random House Alibi), Transubstantiate, Herniated Roots, Staring Into the Abyss and The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). His over 100 stories in print include Cemetery Dance, PANK, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2, and Shivers VI. He is also the editor of three anthologies: The New Black (Dark House Press), The Lineup (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. In his spare time he writes for LitReactor and is Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press.

Website: www.whatdoesnotkillme.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/richardgthomas3
Twitter: @wickerkat
Website: http://www.whatdoesnotkillme.com

DARK HOUSE PRESS (where Thomas is Editor-in-Chief)

Website: http://www.darkhousepress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dark-House-Press/567172509981629
Twitter: @DarkHousePress


 

Brenda Drake Author

Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. She hosts workshops and contests such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on her blog, and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment). She’s represented by Peter Knapp at Park Literary. Look for her upcoming novels from Entangled Teen Touching Fate and Library Jumpers, releasing 2015.

Website: www.brenda-drake.com
Twitter: @brendadrake
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaLeeDrake
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7012713.Brenda_Drake


 

Sara HenningSarah Henning is a crime writer, recovering newshound, and word nerd of the highest order (aka a freelance copy editor). She has degrees in journalism and Spanish from the University of Kansas, and has worked for several news organizations, including The Associated Press, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer, and The Palm Beach Post. When she’s not hunched over her computer or curled up with a good book, Sarah is probably running ultramarathons, playing with her cherub-cheeked kids, or nagging her husband to eat more kale. She is repped by Rachel Ekstrom of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

Website: www.sarahhenning.me
Twitter: @shhenning
Tumblr: sarahhenningwriter.tumblr.com


 

Leon Husock AgentPrior to joining the L. Perkins Agency, Leon Husock was an associate agent at Anderson Literary Management. He has a BA in Literature from Bard College and attended the Columbia Publishing Course. Leon is actively building his client list. He has a particular interest in science fiction & fantasy, young adult and middle-grade novels filled with strong characters and original premises, but keeps an open mind for anything that catches his eye. He is also looking for historical fiction set in the 20th century, particularly the 1980s or earlier.

Website: http://lperkinsagency.com
Email: leon@lperkinsagency.com


 

Michelle Johnson AgentMichelle L. Johnson is a literary agent and the founder of Inklings Literary Agency. She’s also the author of the urban fantasy, Divinity, released September 2014.

After spending a decade in bookselling, she opened and ran a writers’ center in Virginia where she helped aspiring writers find their voices. Michelle has been an editor for two indie presses, and began her career as an agent with the Corvisiero Literary Agency in New York.

In adult, NA, and YA, Michelle is looking for breakout stories in contemporary romance and also the adrenaline genres – Thriller, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, suspense, horror.

Website: www.inklingsliterary.com


 

Q LansanaQuraysh Ali Lansana is author of eight poetry books, three textbooks, a children’s book, editor of eight anthologies, and coauthor of a book of pedagogy. He is a faculty member of the Creative Writing Program of the School of the Art Institute and the Red Earth MFA Creative Writing Program at Oklahoma City University. A former faculty member of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School, Lansana served as Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University from 2002-2011, where he was also Associate Professor of English/Creative Writing. Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community (with Georgia A. Popoff) was published in March 2011 by Teachers & Writers Collaborative and was a 2012 NAACP Image Award nominee. His most recent books include The Walmart Republic w/ Christopher Stewart (Mongrel Empire Press, September 2014) and reluctant minivan (Living Arts Press, May 2014).


TrishaHeadshotTrisha Leigh is a product of the Midwest, which means it’s pop, not soda, garage sales, not tag sales, and you guys as opposed to y’all. Most of the time. She’s been writing seriously for over five years now and has published six YA novels and eight adult titles (as USAToday bestselling author Lyla Payne).

Trisha is the author of The Last Year series and the Cavy Files books. Look for The Historians, the first in a new YA science fiction series, coming from Bloomsbury Spark in 2015!

She’s represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Website: trishaleigh.com


LeeLoflandWith a career in law enforcement that spanned nearly two decades, Lee Lofland is a nationally acclaimed expert on police procedures and crime scene investigations. He consults for many best-selling authors, and is a regular speaker at writers conferences, including the Left Coast Crime Conference, Pennwriters Conference, Deadly Ink, and Willamette Writers Conference. He is also the host and director of the Writers’ Police Academy, an event where writers learn realism by attending an actual police academy.

Website: www.leelofland.com


Jennifer McMurrainHaving a great deal of wanderlust, Jennifer McMurrain traveled the countryside working odd jobs before giving into her muse and becoming a writer. She’s been everything from a “Potty Princess” in Yellowstone National Park to a Bear Researcher in the mountains of New Mexico. She has won numerous awards for her short stories and novels, including hitting #1 on the Amazon Best Seller list with her debut novel Quail Crossings. She lives in Bartlesville, Oklahoma with her husband and daughter. She has just released her third novel, Return To Quail Crossing.

Website: www.jennifermcmurrain.com


Melissa Nasson headshotMelissa Nasson has spent her life in and around Boston, attending Boston University and Boston University School of Law (Go Terriers!). After interning at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, East-West Literary, and Perseus Books Group, she began working as Contracts Director at Beacon Press. Now, Melissa continues her work at Beacon while actively building her list as an associate agent at Rubin Pfeffer Content. She is open to MG, YA, NA, and adult fiction in any genre, though she particularly enjoys fantasy and sci-fi. Melissa loves dogs, craft beer, making pickles, tending to her tiny vegetable garden, and her pet tortoise, Norton.

Website: http://www.rpcontent.com
Twitter: ‪@melissabnasson


 

Mel Office

 

Author of over 180 published books, Mel Odom lives in Oklahoma with his family and enjoys movies, books, television, games, gardening, and… (he’s ADHD and easily snared into bright and shiny).

Twitter: @MelOdom
Blog: http://melodom.blogspot.com

 

 


 

 

AmyShojai-ComAmy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant and author of 30 nonfiction and fiction pet-centric books, including Lost And Found and Hide And Seek, thrillers that include dog viewpoint. She’s also a composer, playwright and performer and has collaborated with Frank Steele to co-write, direct and produce three musical theater productions. Most recently, she combined her love of pets, music and theater when she and Frank co-wrote, directed and produced, Strays, The Musical to enthusiastic audiences in Sherman, Texas. Amy also is a past OWFI president and is delighted to share sessions about collaboration, playwriting techniques and pet-centric tips.

Blog: AmyShojai.com


Jerry SimmonsJerry D. Simmons is an Oklahoma native and former New York publishing executive for the Time Warner Book Group. Over the years he directed an international marketing group and has worked on hundreds of New York Times bestselling titles and with numerous bestselling authors. Today he writes the INSIGHTS™ blog and publishes the TIPS for WRITERS™ newsletter.

Twitter: @JerryDSimmons
Facebook: Facebook.com/WritersReaders


 

FrankSteeleFilmFrank Steele has had a passion for writing since he wrote neighborhood plays as a kid in Vernon, Texas. As a teacher, he encouraged his students to write and create original work. He is member of the Screen Actors Guild and plays/screenplays are his main focus these days. His topics for OWFI will focus on writing with a partner…the challenges and the successes. His most recent outing is Strays, The Musical written with OWFI member, Amy Shojai, which has been recently produced to enthusiastic crowds in Sherman, Texas. Can ‘partner writing’ be a success? Very much so! He’s looking forward to explaining how in the sessions he and Amy will present.


 

BrentTaylor

Prior to joining TriadaUS Literary Agency, Inc. Brent Taylor held numerous entry-level positions in publishing, most recently at The Bent Agency. He is based out of Louisville, KY and represent books for a wide range of readers, with a focus on middle grade, young adult, and select upmarket commercial fiction.

Twitter: @NaughtyBrent
Website: www.triadaus.com
Publishers Marketplace: www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/brenttaylor

 


 

Brandy Walker

Brandy Walker is the owner and lead designer at Sister Sparrow Graphic Design. Brandy is an international award winning artist with over ten years of graphic design experience. After founding Sister Sparrow Graphic Design in 2012, she fell in love with book cover design and has been happily designing book covers ever since. Brandy’s covers have been featured on blogs like The Book Cover Designer and Library at the End of the Universe. Brandy lives in a small town in the Texas Panhandle with her military husband and their three rambunctious dogs.

Website: www.sistersparrowgraphicdesign.com

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Writing Zone: Craft from the Ground Up OWFI 2015

Many of you followed last year as I prepped for the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation conference in May. As president this year, I wanted to recruit great presenters who will bring amazing content. Check us out! The conference is May 1-2, 2015 at the Embassy Suites in OKC. This is just some of the fun coming your way if you attend.

LesEdgertonLes Edgerton is a full-time writer with fifteen books in print. He teaches creative writing on the university level, through private coaching of writers, and on various on-line venues. He writes in a variety of forms: novels, short stories, nonfiction books, screenplays and the subjects he chooses to write about are just as varied, including sports, literary fiction, thrillers, black comedy and the craft of writing.

His work has been nominated for or won: the Pushcart Prize, O. Henry Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, Derringer Award, Spinetingler Magazine Thriller of the Year (Legends category), Jesse Jones Book Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award (short story category), Violet Crown Book Award, and others. His screenplays have placed as a semifinalist in the Nicholl’s Foundation Script-writing Award, and as a finalist in the Best of Austin and Writer’s Guild’s screenwriting awards. His 18th book, a black comedy crime caper, titled The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping came out in October from Down & Out Books.

Social media: www.lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com
Twitter: @HookedOnNoir
Email: butchedgerton@comcast.net


 

Richard ThomasRichard Thomas is the author of six books—Disintegration and The Breaker (Random House Alibi), Transubstantiate, Herniated Roots, Staring Into the Abyss and The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). His over 100 stories in print include Cemetery Dance, PANK, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2, and Shivers VI. He is also the editor of three anthologies: The New Black (Dark House Press), The Lineup (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. In his spare time, he writes for LitReactor and is Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press.

Website: www.whatdoesnotkillme.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/richardgthomas3
Twitter: @wickerkat
Website: http://www.whatdoesnotkillme.com

DARK HOUSE PRESS (where Thomas is Editor-in-Chief)

Website: http://www.darkhousepress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dark-House-Press/567172509981629
Twitter: @DarkHousePress


 

Brenda Drake AuthorBrenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. She hosts workshops and contests such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on her blog, and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment). She’s represented by Peter Knapp at Park Literary. Look for her upcoming novels from Entangled Teen Touching Fate and Library Jumpers, releasing 2015.

Website: www.brenda-drake.com
Twitter: @brendadrake
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaLeeDrake
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7012713.Brenda_Drake


 

Sara HenningSarah Henning is a crime writer, recovering newshound, and word nerd of the highest order (aka a freelance copy editor). She has degrees in journalism and Spanish from the University of Kansas, and has worked for several news organizations, including The Associated Press, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer, and The Palm Beach Post. When she’s not hunched over her computer or curled up with a good book, Sarah is probably running ultramarathons, playing with her cherub-cheeked kids, or nagging her husband to eat more kale. She is repped by Rachel Ekstrom of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

Website: www.sarahhenning.me
Twitter: @shhenning
Tumblr: sarahhenningwriter.tumblr.com


 

Leon Husock AgentPrior to joining the L. Perkins Agency, Leon Husock was an associate agent at Anderson Literary Management. He has a BA in Literature from Bard College and attended the Columbia Publishing Course. Leon is actively building his client list. He has a particular interest in science fiction & fantasy, young adult and middle-grade novels filled with strong characters and original premises, but keeps an open mind for anything that catches his eye. He is also looking for historical fiction set in the 20th century, particularly the 1980s or earlier.

Website: http://lperkinsagency.com
Email: leon@lperkinsagency.com


 

Michelle Johnson AgentMichelle L. Johnson is a literary agent and the founder of Inklings Literary Agency. She’s also the author of the urban fantasy, Divinity, released September 2014.

After spending a decade in bookselling, she opened and ran a writers’ center in Virginia where she helped aspiring writers find their voices. Michelle has been an editor for two indie presses, and began her career as an agent with the Corvisiero Literary Agency in New York.

In adult, NA, and YA, Michelle is looking for breakout stories in contemporary romance and also the adrenaline genres – Thriller, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, suspense, horror.

Website: www.inklingsliterary.com


 

Q LansanaQuraysh Ali Lansana is author of eight poetry books, three textbooks, a children’s book, editor of eight anthologies, and coauthor of a book of pedagogy. He is a faculty member of the Creative Writing Program of the School of the Art Institute and the Red Earth MFA Creative Writing Program at Oklahoma City University. A former faculty member of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School, Lansana served as Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University from 2002-2011, where he was also Associate Professor of English/Creative Writing. Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community (with Georgia A. Popoff) was published in March 2011 by Teachers & Writers Collaborative and was a 2012 NAACP Image Award nominee. His most recent books include The Walmart Republic w/ Christopher Stewart (Mongrel Empire Press, September 2014) and reluctant minivan (Living Arts Press, May 2014).


TrishaHeadshotTrisha Leigh is a product of the Midwest, which means it’s pop, not soda, garage sales, not tag sales, and you guys as opposed to y’all. Most of the time. She’s been writing seriously for over five years now and has published six YA novels and eight adult titles (as USAToday bestselling author Lyla Payne).

Trisha is the author of The Last Year series and the Cavy Files books. Look for The Historians, the first in a new YA science fiction series, coming from Bloomsbury Spark in 2015!

She’s represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Website: trishaleigh.com


LeeLoflandWith a career in law enforcement that spanned nearly two decades, Lee Lofland is a nationally acclaimed expert on police procedures and crime scene investigations. He consults for many best-selling authors, and is a regular speaker at writers conferences, including the Left Coast Crime Conference, Pennwriters Conference, Deadly Ink, and Willamette Writers Conference. He is also the host and director of the Writers’ Police Academy, an event where writers learn realism by attending an actual police academy.

Website: www.leelofland.com


Jennifer McMurrainHaving a great deal of wanderlust, Jennifer McMurrain traveled the countryside working odd jobs before giving into her muse and becoming a writer. She’s been everything from a “Potty Princess” in Yellowstone National Park to a Bear Researcher in the mountains of New Mexico. She has won numerous awards for her short stories and novels, including hitting #1 on the Amazon Best Seller list with her debut novel Quail Crossings. She lives in Bartlesville, Oklahoma with her husband and daughter. She has just released her third novel, Return To Quail Crossing.

Website: www.jennifermcmurrain.com


Melissa Nasson headshotMelissa Nasson has spent her life in and around Boston, attending Boston University and Boston University School of Law (Go Terriers!). After interning at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, East-West Literary, and Perseus Books Group, she began working as Contracts Director at Beacon Press. Now, Melissa continues her work at Beacon while actively building her list as an associate agent at Rubin Pfeffer Content. She is open to MG, YA, NA, and adult fiction in any genre, though she particularly enjoys fantasy and sci-fi. Melissa loves dogs, craft beer, making pickles, tending to her tiny vegetable garden, and her pet tortoise, Norton.

Website: http://www.rpcontent.com
Twitter: ‪@melissabnasson‪‬‬


AmyShojai-ComAmy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant and author of 30 nonfiction and fiction pet-centric books, including Lost And Found and Hide And Seek, thrillers that include dog viewpoint. She’s also a composer, playwright and performer and has collaborated with Frank Steele to co-write, direct and produce three musical theater productions. Most recently, she combined her love of pets, music and theater when she and Frank co-wrote, directed and produced, Strays, The Musical to enthusiastic audiences in Sherman, Texas. Amy also is a past OWFI president and is delighted to share sessions about collaboration, playwriting techniques and pet-centric tips.

Blog: AmyShojai.com


Jerry SimmonsJerry D. Simmons is an Oklahoma native and former New York publishing executive for the Time Warner Book Group. Over the years he directed an international marketing group and has worked on hundreds of New York Times bestselling titles and with numerous bestselling authors. Today he writes the INSIGHTS™ blog and publishes the TIPS for WRITERS™ newsletter.


 

FrankSteeleFilmFrank Steele has had a passion for writing since he wrote neighborhood plays as a kid in Vernon, Texas. As a teacher, he encouraged his students to write and create original work. He is member of the Screen Actors Guild and plays/screenplays are his main focus these days. His topics for OWFI will focus on writing with a partner…the challenges and the successes. His most recent outing is Strays, The Musical written with OWFI member, Amy Shojai, which has been recently produced to enthusiastic crowds in Sherman, Texas. Can ‘partner writing’ be a success? Very much so! He’s looking forward to explaining how in the sessions he and Amy will present.


 

BrentTaylor

Prior to joining TriadaUS Literary Agency, Inc. Brent Taylor held numerous entry-level positions in publishing, most recently at The Bent Agency. He is based out of Louisville, KY and represent books for a wide range of readers, with a focus on middle grade, young adult, and select upmarket commercial fiction.

Twitter: @NaughtyBrent
Website: www.triadaus.com
Publishers Marketplace: www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/brenttaylor

 


Brandy Walker

Brandy Walker is the owner and lead designer at Sister Sparrow Graphic Design. Brandy is an international award winning artist with over ten years of graphic design experience. After founding Sister Sparrow Graphic Design in 2012, she fell in love with book cover design and has been happily designing book covers ever since. Brandy’s covers have been featured on blogs like The Book Cover Designer and Library at the End of the Universe. Brandy lives in a small town in the Texas Panhandle with her military husband and their three rambunctious dogs.

Website: www.sistersparrowgraphicdesign.com

 

 

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Censorship and the PC Movement. Writers, Put Up Your Shields!

deja_vu_2014
DL Hammons is hosting a deja vu blog hop today. The idea is to take a post from this last year and give it a do-over on the blog. Since I have been MIA here due to my OWFI Presidential duties, this was a great chance for me to show up without having to do double duty. (I have blog duties on the OWFI site. Check us out: www.owfi.org) I picked this post because this is an ongoing issue today. Writers have to be cognizant of the dangers of avoiding honesty in the guise of being politically correct.

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 2.53.58 AMOne of my professors in grad school preached a lot about the danger writers might fall prey to the political correctness bug. While there is nothing wrong with being kinder and gentler as a society in our discourse with each other, being PC has not really had that effect. In fact, it appears to have had the opposite. People get into bitter discussions and vitriol flows freely in comment threads and on social media sites. If it sends the average Joe down that path, what is it doing to writers?

Brock Pope informs student writers this is a daily battle. We have to guard against it every time we sit down at the keyboard. The PC mentality is so engrained in our society that all rational thought leaves the building. Everything has become an attempt to ‘marginalize’ people. Recently, I had a scene with my detective, a Native Samoan. My critique partners both suggested it be cut as it was stereotyping. I trust my girls, and I always take their suggestions seriously. However, as writers we have to know when to fall back on our own counsel and what we know and have learned.

When I was going over the piece later, I kept hearing Pope ranting in my head against writers who cave to the pressure “not to offend” or to maintain a “PC” approach. Ultimately, I cut the bulk of the paragraph in question, not because it was stereotyping but because it was info dumping. I researched Native Samoans thoroughly and what I said was not stereotype but fact. There is a difference. When we make every male black character a basketball player, it’s stereotyping. They are not all brilliant basketball players, and they don’t even all like the sport. However, if I write an Italian character who talks with his/her hands, I am not stereotyping. Talking with our hands is a genetic factor in who we are. Attend my family reunions, you can pull major muscle groups dodging the arms.

What bothers me most about this PC culture is we’re slowly wiping out and demeaning our own histories. By demanding others not acknowledge who we are, we are also denying it. I grew up on Italian jokes, loved them, still do. Do we probably look silly talking with our hands? No doubt. But it’s part of who we are, and I wouldn’t change it anymore than I would my name. There are hazards to writing characters that have diversity. We’re encouraged to do it, yet told not to write characters outside our own culture. These things are in opposition. Trust writers to write. Allow them to create characters from any number of cultures, full of a richness that is part their culture and part their own unique personalities.

Writers today can spend too much time worrying about offending people and not enough time writing real characters. As writers, we must ignore the culture wars when we sit down to write. Otherwise, we are censoring our writing more than we’re editing.

How do you silence the inner editor who seeks to censor you?

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Fall First Page Critique Blog Hop

Great first page critique blog hop sponsored by Michelle4Laughs.

Adult Thriller

The Drought of Sam Dakota

A missed court appearance early in the morning and an emergency custody hearing later in the day sent Sam’s planned day into the crapper. Practically before the judge’s gavel came down, he sprinted from the courthouse. Kansas City’s bumper-to-bumper rush hour hadn’t prevented him getting home before Danny got off the school bus. Not once since Kate died, had he failed to get home. He pulled into the driveway, slammed the truck into park, and leapt out. He hollered Danny’s name as he entered, pausing long enough to glance at the wood floor where his son always dropped his Spiderman backpack. Sam had tripped over it too many times to count.

The wide planks gleamed, unmarred by black and red.

He looked at his watch. 4:45. The bus always arrived by 3:50. “Danny!” The dining room and kitchen were empty. No apple or glass of milk, no sign of snacking. On the back porch, he searched the corners of the yard. Humidity caused wisps of hair to curl around his face, and he swiped them back. It hadn’t been easy scheduling his court cases early in the day, but he’d made it a priority after Kate died. Now what?

There was no boy smell, no stinky shoes, no fresh from outdoors odors. No mud or dirt in evidence.

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Rami, Sam, and Character Hopping

Writers are famous for falling in love with their characters so when Maria Ann Green posted about the character blog hop, I thought it sounded like fun. Thanks for tagging me, Maria!

I’m going to talk about one of the main characters in my adult thriller, The Drought of Sam Dakota(strictly a working title at this point). This novel was my creative thesis in grad school and this character barged onto the scene and stole the show.

What is the name of your character? Is he or she a fictional or historic person?

Rami Amato is a Native Samoan who played football at KU and went on to settle in Kansas City, Mo.

When and where is the story set? What should we know about him?

The book opens in 2006 in Kansas City, Mo. with the kidnapping of Sam Dakota’s son. It pops ahead to a year later when the local D.A. and a friend of Sam’s, coerces Rami, a local P.I. doing strictly corporate work, into helping Sam find his son. Rami has sworn off kidnapping cases since one went bad on him years before but the D.A. saved his butt when he got in a spot of legal trouble and the D.A. isn’t above collecting that marker.

Rami works on a barter system more than cash. He has issues with paying taxes (Native Samoans don’t pay all taxes but are subject to payroll taxes) given that the government never spends the money where it should to Rami’s way of thinking. His slightly less than ethical approach concerns Sam Dakota, a law-abiding attorney; but Sam’s more concerned with finding his son.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

Sam’s wife suffered from addiction and died before the story takes place. Being a single parent complicates Sam’s life, but Danny is the most important thing. Someone kidnaps Danny from his bus stop in September of 2006;  and in the beginning, Sam lets authorities do their job. By the end of the first year, leads dwindle and the case chills, so Sam looks for other options.

Rami had a kidnapping case go south and blames himself, some would say accurately. He refuses ALL domestic cases now. However, when the D.A. calls in his marker, Rami feels compelled to take the job. The result is his life becomes a disaster zone, and for Rami, it’s no longer about finding Sam’s son. Now, it’s about stopping a force that seems determined to stop Rami.

rami-amato-piWhat is Rami’s goal?

Okay, so this is Vin Diesel but he’s also Samoan and comes as close as I can to showing Rami. His goal was to get the job done because he’s concerned about another case, one that is far more personal. Except it appears people are out to hurt Rami and anyone close to him, and he’s no longer sure which case has him drawing fire. Now, his goal is tracking down whoever has placed the target on his back. He hopes along the way he can save his friend and find Sam’s son.

What is Rami’s personal goal?

For nearly three years, Rami has carried a load of guilt. He rarely sleeps an entire night and he spends all his quiet time wondering what he could have done differently, anything that would have provided a different, a better outcome.

Is there a title or working title? Where can we read more?

It’s been called The Drought of Sam Dakota since it’s inception, but I’m playing with other titles as an agent who loved the opening, did not like that title. Until I find one that I think is better, this is what I use. :-) Here’s the query:

Sam Dakota’s son is his world after his wife dies, and his work as a child advocate means he knows how fragile life can be for kids. In spite of what he knows, he never believed it would happen to him. Then, the first note arrives and the words keep him up at night.

“I have your son.”

When Danny vanishes, the chances of finding who took him dwindle with every dead-end. Faced with changing theories and dwindling police interest, Sam hires Rami Amato, a talented P.I. with an aversion to “kid cases.” Rami’s last kidnapping case ended badly; he refuses to let another end like that. Amato uncovers more than abduction. He uncovers a web of lies stretching back further than Danny’s disappearance.

Another note arrives. “I always wanted a boy.” Then another, and another, each note depicting horrors being exacted on Sam’s son. The ongoing nightmare consumes his life as the kidnapper starts a clock, counting down to Danny’s death. For Rami, it’s clear Sam won’t survive the final letter. Time is running out.

When can we expect the book to be published?

I’m currently revising before querying, and we all know even a near perfect book can never find a home while some bad books sell. I try to focus on telling Sam and Rami’s story. If it sells, I’ll be happy but for now, I just enjoy hanging out with the guys.

I’m tagging Natasha Hanova and Leatrice McKinney.

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Follow Fest

FollowFest 2014Blog hops are a lot of fun and a great way to meet other writers. (Misery loves company) Check out this one sponsored by Melissa Maygrove. Join us for the fun.

Purpose: A platform building opportunity for writers of all kinds.
(Think, ‘cyber meet-and-greet with social media links for business cards.’)

When: September 22nd thru 26th, 2014.

How: Create a blog post using the guide provided and sign up on the Linky list any day during FollowFest week, after your post goes live.

During the week of the fest, visit other blogs and connect with as many writers as you wish.

You can follow the progress by checking this page and / or following the Twitter hashtag #FollowFest14.

Name: Dawn Allen

Fiction or nonfiction? Fiction

What genres do you write?  YA Sci-Fi and paranormal, Adult Thrillers

Are you published? Yes

Do you do anything in addition to writing? I’m a college professor.

Tell us a little about yourself. I own horses and a dog. My boys are two of my favorite people. I’m from the Kansas City area but moved to a ranch in southwestern Kansas and split my time between there and Alva, OK where we work
 
What are you reading right now?  Safe House by Andrew Vachss

Which authors influenced you the most? Mark Twain, Harper Lee, Stephen King, and Les Edgerton.
Where can people connect with you?

Blog: www.dawnall.wordpress.com

Twitter: Miserwriter

Facebook: Author Dawn Allen

Goodreads (personal): Dawn Allen

Google+ Dawn Allen

LinkedIn: Profile
Pinterest: Dawn

Is there anything else you’d like us to know? I belong to Novel Clique, a critique group and I’m President of Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. Both groups love to give back and help other writers.

*Don’t forget to go sign up with Linky after your blog post goes live.

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OWFI, New Puppy, and Curriculum

photoIt seems there is never time for my writing these days. We just had our September board meeting and highlighted the things being done in preparation for our next conference. The preliminary budget will require a bit of tweaking. Thus, it cuts into my writing time.

Since we lost our dog, Moses, I have wanted another pet. Luckily, my son’s dog had a litter, and I adopted the only boy. He’s a joy and delight, but I’d forgotten the work involved with a new one. Don’t mind it, but it has curtailed my freedom.

It’s another teaching year and new curriculum hurdles to soar over. So far I’m not soaring so much as tripping and falling on my face. Thank God, writers are determined people who refuse to give in. I keep trudging along, thanking all the people who help me to accomplish things. No man stands alone. Not if he intends to succeed.

Thank goodness, I have the blessing of wonderful volunteers, a sweet hubby (who really has embraced Rumble the new pup), and a great department chair at my university. Last but not least, I have great students who make the job as easy as it can be.

Check out my latest post at www.OWFI.org.

 

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