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My First OWL Conference as President is in the Books

My first Ozarks Writers League (OWL) conference as president went well. We had several small issues arise, but I had great help from a group of my writer friends and one writer’s ingenious spouse.

Our main fundraiser was a silent auction. My friend Bonnie and I worked for months on this auction. We contacted all sorts of people and organizations requesting donations. We dug through our own belongings. We scoured local retailers. We attended church sales, combed through flea markets, and begged our artistic friends and relatives for items.

Bonnie contacted Branson attractions and requested tickets. I contacted other authors and asked if they’d be willing to donate any of their books. My friends Camille Faye, Terry Zahniser McDermid, and Larry Wood contributed books to our auction along with some of our great OWL members. I even managed to get in touch with New York Times Bestselling Author, Lori Foster, who generously donated two autographed novels.

Our silent auction was a great success. I only won three items and was sad to discover I was outbid on a couple things I really wanted. My sister hand wood burned a gorgeous castle scene onto a wooden TV tray for the auction, and I did my best to be the high bidder. Unfortunately, someone snuck in behind me and outbid me. I was also sad to find the final bid for the Lori Foster books was someone else’s.

I’m not sure how much money we raised yet. Our treasurer is calculating the final numbers. I hope it’s enough to pay our speakers for the next conference without dipping into what we already had in the bank, but it’s doubtful. Every little bit helps, though.

Due to the silent auction, I had to ask my authors with book tables to share space. I felt terrible about that, but most of them seemed happy to accommodate me. They even toughed out the paint fumes coming from the next room like champs. Our OWL writers are strong!

Thanks to a speaker taking double the allotted time, my critique group was forced to shorten our presentation to basically a quick panel discussion. We probably should have just postponed our presentation until the next conference, but I really wanted share our unique methods with the rest of the members. We were so discombobulated that we may or may not have gotten our points across.

The sound equipment kept fading in and out. When we finally got it to work, we were going over the speakers in both of the other conference rooms, the hallway, and both restrooms. I’m sure the scrapbooking group next door really appreciated that. We informed the front desk that we were being heard throughout the entire wing, but they didn’t know how to rectify the situation.

The conference had its challenges and bumps such as no coffee for the coffee social (the hotel had given all the coffee pots to the scrapbooking group next door until I insisted they honor their promise to provide at least one pot for us), but most of our writers seemed to have a good time. Several people told me they enjoyed themselves and learned something new. I’ve had many great comments about two of our speakers, and I’m happy to say that I count both of them among my friends.

I learned a great deal with this conference. I’m sure the next one will go much smoother. However, what’s the life of an artist without a little adventure? Isn’t rushing through paint fume permeated hallways in search of an overworked hotel manager considered an adventure?

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