May Meeting

Join us on May 6 for our monthly meeting, featuring speaker Terrie Wolf, an agent who will be joining us via Skype.

Critique will be held from 9:30-11:30. This is open to anyone, whether you have something for critique or simply want to listen/learn/partake. 

About Our Speaker

Terrie Wolf has traveled the world in search of good stories and great books. As a member of the international media, an award-winning journalist and promotions specialist, Terrie has learned what it takes to write well, get accepted and develop notoriety; not necessarily in that order! She is happiest when given the opportunity to pitch softly, edit gently and market fiercely. Terrie joined AKA in September of 2009 as the Foreign Rights Specialist in addition to her other talents. Wolf Literary Services and Anita Kushen and Associates merged in October 2009.

Terrie mastered her skills in the literary world from inside the offices of several large companies, which include CBS, NBC, and Hobson's Press. She studied English Literature at Cambridge University, Creative Writing at NYU and Journalism at CU-Denver.

Terrie's credits include the EMMY, Queen's Service Award (UK), La Voz y Papel (Spain), and Young Journalist of the Year.

Terrie represents the books we share; the books which make us grow. Fiction: Inspirational (Things of Faith), Multi-Cultural, Women’s, Children’s (all), Romance (all), and Westerns. Non-fiction: Culinary/Cookbooks, Humor, Memoir, Religion, Music and Nature.” (Link)

ORA meets on the first Saturday of the month, hosting guest speakers who offer information about numerous facets of the industry. Our presenters include published authors, acquiring editors and agents, self-publishing gurus, special-interest experts, marketing specialists, and more.

Our presenting speaker will begin his or her presentation at 12:30 p.m., following our social hour at 11:30 a.m., and our critique group at 9:30 a.m. Meetings are typically hosted at the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library, located at 397 E Central Street. Meetings include the speaker’s presentation, news and discussion regarding upcoming literary events and opportunities, and conclude with door prizes.

Anyone interested in ORA is welcome to attend up to three meetings for free. Afterward, annual membership is only $25.

April Meeting - Everything and a Few Things You Wish You Never Learned About POV

Join us Saturday, April 1 as Kathleen Garnsey presents: ing and a Few Things You Wish You Never Learned About POV.


About Our Speaker

Born in Michigan, raised and married in California, Kathleen is now a twenty-nine year resident of Missouri. She currently lives in Ozark and stays busy with her husband of forty-nine years, her son, daughter-in-law, and three fantastic grandchildren.

Writing is Kathleen's passion, which she became serious about in 1987 when she joined Ozarks Romance Authors. Always a fan of sci-fi and romance, she loves combining the two elements into stories of passion and adventure in another time and place. She has written five futuristic romances which are available, or soon to be available on Amazon. Look for her past titles: Warrior's LinkHawk's RedemptionFalcon's Quest and Secret of the Kiah. She just completed The Alluring Traveler which will soon be released.

About ORA's Monthly Meetings

ORA meets on the first Saturday of the month, hosting guest speakers who offer information about numerous facets of the industry. Our presenters include published authors, acquiring editors and agents, self-publishing gurus, special-interest experts, marketing specialists, and more.

Meetings begin at 11:30 a.m., following our critique group at 9:30 a.m., and are typically hosted at the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library, located at 397 E Central Street. Meetings include the speaker’s presentation, news and discussion regarding upcoming literary events and opportunities, and conclude with door prizes.

Anyone interested in ORA is welcome to attend up to three meetings for free. Afterward, annual membership is only $25.

Guest Author: Tabitha Fizer

Tabitha Fizer, a student currently enrolled in English III Honors, approached Ozarks Romance Authors and asked if we would like to publish the short story she wrote for class. The answer, obviously, was yes. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to nurture the young voices that will become tomorrow's authors.

With this in mind, we invite you to enjoy Tabitha's story, A LOVE TO LAST A LIFETIME.


A Love To Last A Lifetime

By: Tabitha Fizer

“Who is that?”

“That’s my brother, why? Do you like him?”

“Eww, no. I just didn’t know you had a brother. I thought it was your boyfriend or something.”


It was the end of seventh grade year when I was heading home from school that I received a call. A call from my best friend.


“Hey, do you wanna come stay the night tonight, I have things planned for us to do?” Adilynn asked.

“Uhm, I’ll have to ask my parents but I don’t see why I won’t be able to.”

“Alright, just let me know.”

I honestly just didn’t want to stay the night, but I didn’t want to tell her. I don’t ever get to see her because we have no classes together, but I went ahead and asked my parents…. Well, that didn’t go as plan. They actually said yes. Now, I really don’t have a choice but to go.

*3 Hours Later*

We have to carry in groceries for her mom… wow, they have a lot of groceries, but she has a lot of kids. I just keep thinking to myself, “what did you do to yourself? You’re in for a treat.” I just have to tell myself that the sooner we get to go to bed, the sooner I get to leave, that’s awful, I know, but c'mon now. Have you ever met her family? Jeez.

We sit down to eat dinner when some guy just walks through her door. He’s good-looking oh my. I think it’s her boyfriend but I’m not gonna say anything yet. It’s too early to ask her stuff like that, especially when he just walked through the door. He walked in like it was his house or something. He talks to these people like he knows them or something. How have I never met him?

“Who is that?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s my brother, why? Do you like him?” Adilynn asked as she looks baffled.

“Eww no. I just didn’t know you had a brother. I thought it was your boyfriend or something.”

Right, that’s just where I wanted that conversation to go. That explains why he walked in like it was his house and talks to these people like he knows them. I didn’t want her to say that it was her brother.. I found him extremely attractive.. But, I have to shut this down immediately. This could end up very badly. In fact, I already know it will. It’s my best friend’s brother. That’s enough right there. That’s enough to end our friendship, and everything else I have with this family.

* 4 Days Later *

I saw him today, looking more superior than he was before. He’s just something that truly is ample.  I want to give him my number but I’m too anxious. I don’t want to tell her that I think I like him. Gosh, that sounded so daft. What if I’m actually falling for her brother?

I sat down in the cafeteria waiting for Adilynn to get here, when I see her brother sit down right across from me. I know I’m blushing, but I can’t help it. Brody kept staring at me but I didn’t want to tell him to stop. I kinda admired being the center of attention for once but I can’t keep getting used to this. He’s going to end up breaking me at the end of this, and I’m not giving any care in the world because I like him. Oh goodness, this is exactly what mom told me not to do. “Paige, don’t get your heart broken from someone who is going to be in your life for a long time because of his sister. It’s not going to be fair to you,” I can still hear her telling me.

Maybe mom is right. She’s always right. No matter how many times I tell myself she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, she does. She’s watching out for her baby girl and I just keep taking it for granted. I know one day that I’m going to regret not telling my mom that I love her, even when she’s being unshakable. I’m going to regret ever yelling at her, rolling my eyes at her, and just never wanting to be home with her anymore. She’s annoying all the time when she thinks she’s right. She’ll always be my lifelong best friend.

I walk to class thinking about Brody when I noticed I now have a class with Adilynn because she switched rotations. I was beyond glad that she was in there with me. I think she’s finally the friend that understands m. Now it’s time to tell Adilynn how I’m feeling because this isn’t okay. I have to tell her that I like her brother and that I’m sorry.

“Hey Adilynn, can I talk to you about a few things?”

“Yeah, why couldn’t you?”

“I just don’t want to talk to you and bother you if you have things to be doing.”

“Paige, stop procrastinating and tell me.”

Wow, I didn’t even realize I was procrastinating. My mind is just trotting. What could possibly go wrong? She could tell me she hates me. She could tell me to never talk to her again, or better yet, to get rid of these feelings I have because I will ruin everything. Now I just don’t want to tell her. I have myself over thinking about the negative side of things and I can’t help it. That’s what everyone does, right? Wrong. Nobody over thinks like I do. I cry all the time. I’m such a big baby. Goodness, maybe I shouldn’t tell her and let it just work itself out.

“Listen, Adilynn, I’m falling for Brody. I never wanted to. I had no intentions of falling in love with him. I thought he was your boyfriend so I didn’t want to fall for him. Ever since that night, my mind has been racing about him. I’ve been thinking about having a future with him, and just being his best “girl” friend. Even though I don’t know him like you do, he seems like a phenomenal person. I don’t want to get head over heels if it’s just gonna get shut down now. I feel like he’s something I’m willing to work for. My heart fills up with butterflies whenever I see him and you saw me this morning when he sat across from me. I was blushing like crazy.”

“I don’t know what to say Paige. I don’t want you getting hurt because I know what he’s capable of. It’s not good. He’s my brother and yeah, he’s a great guy but he’s not sophisticated yet. He doesn’t know what he wants. He’s still figuring it out. But, do whatever you feel is right and I’ll try and support you through it.” Adilynn said.

Wow, that went better than planned. I can’t believe that God actually blessed me with this human being for a friend… Although it’s only been a few months of being friends, she actually gets me. She truly understands me. I still just can’t believe it.

Later that night, as I’m sitting on my bed doing homework, I get this mysterious text.
“Hey beautiful.” I don’t know if I should be distressed. I haven’t gave a guy my number in so long and I still have all of their numbers in my phone, so maybe it’s a really close family friend? I don’t know but I don’t want to be rude and not text back.

“Hi? Do I know who you are?” I replied.

“Well, I kinda hope so. I see you everyday with that huge smile of yours. It’s Brody, Paige.”

OH MY GOODNESS!!! He actually has my number. I should be upset with Adilynn for giving my number out without even asking, so I call her. “Hey, did you give Brody my number?” She was really indecisive so I’m just gonna say that she didn’t and maybe her boyfriend gave Brody my number. He’s one of my best friends, so maybe. “No, I didn’t give Brody your number. I can barely remember it myself. Why?” Adilynn asked. I shouldn’t have to explain myself, I think she knows. She knows how much I wanted this moment to happen. “Oh, it’s nothing. He just texted me and it was random. I just wanted to know if you gave him my number but maybe it was Ryker. I’m sorry.” I hung up instantaneously. 

She didn’t sound okay. I was only thinking of myself and totally ignored the fact that she wasn’t. I never think of anybody else when I’m thrilled and actually show emotion. Maybe I should call her back, but maybe I need to give her some space. I’ll just text her, actually.

“Hey, I didn’t even realize that you sounded off today, is something bothering you that I can try and help with? Even if you need me to just listen. Please tell me what’s going on.” I sent it.

“Hey Paige, I’m not okay. I’m at my breaking point for right now. Everytime I try and talk to somebody, they don’t care. I just don’t understand my life. I’m in the worst possible position for me to concentrate on school. I don’t know if I’m ready for myself to open up about it. My family are the only people who know. I just want a friend to actually stick with me for once and let me be the best person I can.”

Okay, wow. I finally come to realize that everyone eventually gives up on her. I thought she was going to tell me what’s going on but I’ll take that answer. I don’t understand why Adilynn feels like she doesn’t have anybody that she can talk too. I’m always here for her, even if I’m not always at my best place, I will be that friend she needs in life. What if she honestly needs me and I’m just not showing her that I’m going to be that friend?

“Listen, Adilynn, I’m going to be that friend that shows you who I am as a person. I’m going to be one of those people who are down to listen about anything, even if I’m not in a good place, I’ll always try and help you out. You’re honestly a great person but you need to stop feeling this way. Talk to me, and tell me how you feel.

“Paige, you can’t tell anybody. My relationship with Jeremiah is so depleting. I believe I sincerely do love him even though he’s abusive. I know that I’m just 13, but I love this guy. He’s the only person that’s met my family and hasn’t walked away. He knows my deepest, darkest secrets. Please don’t tell anybody, not even my mom. Jeremiah is a great guy, but not for a serious relationship right now. I believe that once he figures out what he’s doing, that he won’t do it again. He knows I get scared when he starts swinging. I can’t tell my mom because he’s the only close thing I have. There’s also something else I need to talk to someone about, but it’s not the right time.”

“I’m really glad I was the person you told that to, Adilynn. I know you love Jeremiah, but is that really the relationship you want to be in? Do you want to look back and remember him as the guy who beat you? If you was to have his kid, did you want to tell your kid that their dad is the guy who physically beat you? You’re my best friend Adilynn and just reading that text broke my heart. It’s only been about a year and a half of being friends but that’s a little absurd. I’ve never met this guy, but I’m going to take your word about him being a good guy, but now that I know that, I will never picture him the same. Just know that whenever you’re ready to talk about the other thing, that I’ll be there. I’m going to go to bed.” I replied, that was it for me.

Truth is, I’m not really going to bed but I need to get away from that topic. I need to sleep or listen to music. I don’t understand her sometimes. She’s my best friend but how could she let someone do that to her?

Brody is fantastic. My heart still beats whenever I see him but now I need to ask Ryker if he’s giving my number away because that’s not cool. Ryker is Adilynn’s boyfriend and Brody’s best friend. If he would have asked to give him my number, it’d be a whole different story but he just got my number out of the blue.

“Ryker, please stop giving my number away. You can’t just do that without permission. Because of you, Brody now has my number, so thank you. Goodnight.

*Six Hours Later*

It’s seriously like three in the morning and my phone is going crazy. Who could that possibly be? Brody. That’s who it is. He’s being all sweet and everything but he needs to go to bed. I have to be up in three hours and everybody knows what I’m like when I don’t get enough sleep for the day.

Now that it’s six, I don’t want to get up. I’m just having a really rough month and the only thing that’s motivating me is Brody. Brody is ALWAYS on my mind anymore and I don’t know why. I’ve never actually got to know him like I usually do with other people. I just have my heart set for him. What’s the worst that could go wrong?

I walk into the school and head straight for the cafeteria, hoping Adilynn is already here. When I get there, Ryker told me that Adilynn won’t be at school today but Brody will. I didn’t care that Brody was going to be there, he’s irrelevant right now.  Although I’m berserk about this kid, I didn’t care at this point, at least until school is over.


School is now over and as I’m walking to the bus, Brody pulls me to the side.

“Uh, hi Brody. What’s wrong?” I said. “Nothing Paige, nothing is wrong. I just want to talk to you about something. I know you got my texts last night because you’ve been avoiding me all day today. I know how you feel about me, Adilynn told me. You’re something memorable Paige. Maybe we can go to the movies or something and then go to dinner and talk.” I didn’t know what to think. Was he really asking me to go to the movies?

“Okay Brody, I’m in. When are we going?”

 “How about Friday? Is that okay?” He asked. “Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll see you tomorrow, I’m going to go now.” I said as I bolted away.

Wow. Did I really just say that? What am I doing? I’m already messing things up. As I walk to the bus, I look back to see if he’s still watching me walk away. Yeah, he sure was. He looked so sad and with today, I didn’t seem to care at all, but now that I walked away, I feel horrendous.  I should probably talk to him, but I need to go home. My mind is racing, goodness I’m such a bad person. Why would anybody want to go on a date with me?


Today is the day that I go on my date with Brody and I’m starting to get knots in my stomach. Good knots though. I can get through school and make it until tonight, I’m just jumping off the walls, I’m so excited but yet so scared. This could go wrong in so many ways, but I’m just going to wing it.

When I get to school, Adilynn is waiting for me. She has the sad eyes, that could kill a heart in an instant. I don’t know if I should walk away from this moment or go see what’s wrong.

“Hey, what’s going on?” I asked.

“Hey, I’m finally ready to talk about it, maybe not here though. It’s kind of personal.”

“Okay, is there somewhere else you want to talk?”
“Follow me. Okay, so a few weeks ago, my mom was diagnosed with stage 2 thyroid cancer, and it’s hitting a big place in my life. I know Brody hasn’t said anything to you but it’s true. I’ve been really down about it, so I’m sorry.”

“Adilynn, it’s okay. I understand. Maybe I should tell Brody not tonight so you can all be home with your mom. I love you, okay?”

“Paige, don’t even think about canceling on Brody. This has been all he talks about. He wants you right now. He’s strong-willed to get you, so don’t cancel. We can be with my mom another time.”

Maybe I’m over-reacting, but this sounds so bad. I don’t want to go on this date anymore. He’s going through so much and he’s just trying to stay away from it. Poor Brody. I can’t ditch him, after all, he is the guy I’ve been chasing for so long. *Look down at phone*. Oh my goodness, Paige. What are you doing?! It’s 5:30 and Brody is coming to get me in thirty minutes, and I haven’t gotten anywhere with getting ready.

*Thirty Minutes Later*

Brody is here to pick me up and my heart is filled with butterflies. This date is going to be so good that we’re going to have another one, I have confidence. So, turns out we are going to Olive Garden and we are going to the movies. I don’t like Olive Garden at all, but I have to suck it up for the sake of this date. We go and see The House At The End Of The Street and he actually grabbed my hand. I honestly think I’m falling in love with Brody and it’s going to be hard to tell Adilynn.

*One Year Later*

It’s the last day of my eighth grade year and I’m coming to realization that I graduate eighth grade tonight. Everything went by so fast. I went through middle school faster than I thought. I just blinked and here I am, graduating the eighth grade, leaving middle school behind me.

The time is here. It’s time to graduate the eighth grade with my best friend. I’ve always wanted to graduate with my best friend, but better yet, my crush that I’ve went on a date with. They both walk behind me when we get our names called, which is cool I guess. We all get our middle school diplomas as we walk across the floor, everyone cheering for us. I’ve never been so happy in my life that now, I’m definitely looking forward to my high school years.

Well, now that we’ve graduated, I have a date, tonight. I’m already dressed up so we just go straight from graduation. It’s our time, now or never. As we are on the way to this secret place, Brody reaches across the car just to hold my hand. Now, I’ve definitely got the butterflies in my stomach. The kind that people just don’t understand. I’m so young, that nobody believes me but sometimes, they kill the inside of me because they get to happy and flutter away.

*Two Years Later*

We’re sophomores now. It’s crazy to think that in these short periods of times, people so close to us could be our priority. Brody is more than certainly, my priority. I’ve never felt so happy before. I’m more excited and happy now than I was when I found out that I was going to be a big sister… to a little brother. You should have been there for that day.

Adilynn and I have plans to get our nails done for our formal dance in a week. I can’t ask Brody because it just doesn’t feel right, right now anyways. Brody and I haven’t been in the best situation for us to be perfectly fine at a formal dance. I just don’t understand how things have gotten like this. He’s so great, that I’m actually about to throw everything away. I don’t know what else to do. How could he do this to everything we had? To me?

It’s time for the formal and things with Brody and I have gotten so worse that now, we aren’t even speaking. I really wanted this formal to be him and I but instead here I am, going with Adilynn. This wasn’t the plan at all, we made a plan for it to be Brody and I but I can forget about Brody. He ruined everything.

*One Year Later*

It’s now my junior year of high school and Brody and I haven’t spoken in a while but I genuinely love him. He’s the one person anybody can count on and his whole personality can light up a room. He’s truly something special. Brody is my best friend and just a great person. Brody has that smile that lights up the room, his big brown/green eyes are so bright. His hair is so beautiful. He’s the one person I will always have a love of a lifetime with. If you get the opportunity to meet someone like him, don’t let them go. They are truly special, and will love you unconditionally even when you feel like you can’t be loved. Throughout this journey growing up, I’ve figured out that some people are worth fighting for.

March Meeting - Are We Having Fun(damentals) Yet?

Join us Saturday, March 4 as Allison Merritt presents: Are We Having Fun(damentals) Yet?

About Our Speaker

A love of reading inspired Allison Merritt to pursue her dream of becoming an author who writes historical, paranormal, contemporary, and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She lives in a small town in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. It's not unusual to find her lurking in graveyards, wandering historical sites, or listening to ghost stories.

Allison graduated from College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri with a B.A. in mass communications that's gathering dust after it was determined that she's better at writing fluff than hard news.

About ORA's Monthly Meetings

ORA meets on the first Saturday of the month, hosting guest speakers who offer information about numerous facets of the industry. Our presenters include published authors, acquiring editors and agents, self-publishing gurus, special-interest experts, marketing specialists, and more.

Meetings begin at 11:30 a.m., following our critique group at 9:30 a.m., and are typically hosted at the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library, located at 397 E Central Street. Meetings include the speaker’s presentation, news and discussion regarding upcoming literary events and opportunities, and conclude with door prizes.

Anyone interested in ORA is welcome to attend up to three meetings for free. Afterward, annual membership is only $25.

The March meeting at the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library will be held UPSTAIRS rather than in the basement.

What Are Your Characters Doing?



Okay, you are writing a fantastic story and you have fifty-seven characters in your book. My question is, “What purpose do they serve?” You may think this a silly question, but if you put a character in a book, they had better have a specific job to fulfill. If they do not—delete them!

You know the purpose of your hero and heroine, but it is time to examine your secondary characters. Of course, your protagonists do not live in a world all by themselves, they interact with others. The characters you add must contribute something to move the plot forward. You do not need to give every secondary character a name, especially if they have no purpose. Example, the waiter, the butler, the maid, etc. The exception is if the waiter, the butler or the maid play a part, like planting a clue, killing someone, stealing something, or adding poison to a drink, then name them since you will talk about them later.



Definition of Characterization


Characterization is the act of creating and describing characters in literature. Characterization includes both descriptions of a character’s physical attributes as well as the character’s personality. The way that characters act, think and speak can be presented to the reader either by direct or indirect characterization. Direct characterization is when the author tells the reader what the character is like, while indirect characterization is showing the reader through the character’s thoughts, words, and deeds. Note:  Showing is always better than telling.

You never want to be criticized for having stock characters, flat characters, characters with no dimensions, poorly drawn characters, and so on. Your characters must be believable, people your reader can identify with. That means they are either like that person, or have seen people who act in that manner. Saying that a book’s characters are unbelievable is one of the worst criticisms that can be made in this day in age. Authors use characterization to flesh out their characters, show the characters’ motivations, and make the reader have empathy with the characters.


If you are writing a book with a murderer or a real bad guy, think about having a few scenes with the villain/murder’s point of view. Depending on the length of your book, hold it to about three, and keep the scenes short. The most important point is if you are in the villain’s OIVthe hero/heroine cannot be in the scene—only the bad guy. If the protagonists are there, the scene belongs to one of them and you cannot use another POV.

Use your protagonists’ POV to show the reader everything in the story. It is through the hero/heroine that all the other characters come alive since it is their POV that makes the difference. They will tell/show the reader who the other characters are, what they look like, and what they are doing. The reader will learn everything from the protagonists.

Go through your manuscript and examine your characters and what they are doing. Secondary characters can add a lot to a story, just do not let them take over! There are times a side-kick, or a best friend are so dynamic they try to become the star of the story. If that is the case, give them their own book because this one belongs to someone else! 

Some of TV's favorite break-out characters (as examples)


Kathleen Garnsey - Member since 1988

February Meeting - Microsoft Word Workshop

Join us for our first official meeting of the year as Sharon Kizziah-Holmes (founder/owner of Paperback Press) walks us through a  Microsoft Word Workshop. Learn the industry standard manuscript setup for easy editing, submitting to agents & publishers.

About Our Speaker

In her own words...

My interest in writing novels came in 1991 when a friend suggested we write a book together. I took her up on it. I joined writing groups, including ORA, and a whole new world opened up for me. I’m still a member of many of those groups and absolutely love writing, editing, publishing and doing writing workshops.

I live in the beautiful Ozarks with my husband our Cocker Spaniel, Dude. I have a wonderful, supportive family and many great friends. My life is blessed.

Sharon Kizziah-Holmes, our February speaker

Sharon Kizziah-Holmes, our February speaker

!!!!! IMPORTANT !!!!!

The February meeting will take place at the McAlisters at Battlefield and Kansas Expressway. Critique will be held at the McDonald's across from Hy-Vee at the normal time of 9 a.m. March meetings will resume at Midtown Carnegie Branch Library.

November Meeting: NaNoWriMo and Everything You Want to Know About Scrivner

November is a lot of things to many people: family get-together, holiday shopping, and travels. For writers, it's all those things and then some. November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo poses the following challenge: can you complete your manuscript within 30 days?

That might seem ambitious, but the daily goal is a little more attainable: 1,667 words to get to 50k by November 30.

Well, we say attainable, but 1,667 words, for many, is a struggle on many days. And even if you are accustomed to getting out this many words or more on writing days, the rush to your daily word count has a way of seeming a little steeper as the month progresses.

Thankfully, there are writing aids available, which is going to be the subject of this November's meeting.

Kayla Griffith is an artist, teacher, aspiring author and lover of all things techy. She builds websites, professionally creates graphic art, and enjoys playing in the digital world. Kayla has used several (dozens) of online writing tools and apps and Scrivner is one of her favorites because of its flexibility and organization. Scrivner has been a key player each time she’s won NaNoWriMo and an even bigger player as she wrestled those 50,000 words into a viable novel. She has also used it to help others get their manuscripts ready for e-book publishing.

Kayla Griffith, ORA's November Speaker

Kayla Griffith, ORA's November Speaker

Meetings begin at 11:30 a.m., following our critique group at 9:00 a.m., and are typically hosted at the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library, located at 397 E Central Street. Meetings include the speaker’s presentation, news and discussion regarding upcoming literary events and opportunities, and conclude with door prizes.

Anyone interested in ORA is welcome to attend up to three meetings for free. Afterward, annual membership is only $25.

Interested? Let us know if you're coming!

Don't Be Modest, by Yvonne Erwin

Some time ago, I heard an author talk about the five plus one things he wished he'd known before he started writing a novel. One of the points he raised spoke to my heart. He said, "Write about something that scares you." Now, he didn't mean the "boo!" kind of scary. He was talking about writing about the dark stuff, delving into the unknown, pushing the envelope. In other words, writing it real.

I maintain that no writer worth their own spit can write without coming up against an uncomfortable subject sooner or later. It's got to happen or there is no story, no tension. Your work will be one-dimensional. An illustration might be, painting taupe on an off-white canvas. When you finish your great masterpiece, and stand back, crossing your arms over your chest, gazing upon your unparalleled work, what do you see? Blah. But, if you slam a bucket of wild red across the canvas, ah, then you've created interest. You've created dimension.

We worry too much about what others will think about what we write, and I think this happens often within a writers' group. It's difficult to reveal your words, your inner brain workings, to others. What will they think? Will they think it's dirty or lewd, or twisted somehow? Will they be grossed out? Will it be a reflection on me? We should not be so modest.


A writer must write in the moment. If your character is that person who unluckily became a by-stander in a convenience store robbery, and his face is pressed against the cold tile floor, you need to be able show your reader what the floor smelled like (all those rubber soles that went before, spilled coffee, did someone urinate in the corner?), the hoarse panting of someone an aisle over (sounds like a smoker's cough), how did it sound when the doors to the cold storage shattered as a bullet jetted through them, does he taste his own blood because one of the assailants slammed him to the floor (bitter iron paint, spewing from his jaws)?

There are more controversial subjects; i.e., rape, incest, family violence, terminal illness, divorce, death, mental illness, or murder. Point is, at some point you need to pick one and let yourself write about it. Push the envelope. Write about something scary. Let yourself be free with it.


Write about something that scares you to the bone when you go back and read it. And don't be modest. Do you think Stephen King got to where he is by being modest? 

Be honest, write in the moment. Write about something that challenges you.

About Yvonne Erwin

Yvonne Erwin is a contemporary women's fiction writer, living in Springfield, Missouri. Her passions include reading, writing, gardening, cooking, traveling and experiencing new adventures. She seldom goes very far without her camera, which she's nicknamed her "mini-me."

Currently, Yvonne is serving as President of the Springfield Writers' Guild, a chapter of the Missouri Writers' Guild, and is a member of Ozarks Romance Authors. In 2012, Yvonne won second place in the prose-fiction category in the 19th Annual Springfield Writers' Contest Literacy Contest.

Yvonne's first novel, "The Discovery of Joy," was released February 2, 2015, in the women's fiction category. Her second novel, "The Sisters of Madelaine Street," was released September 27, 2016.

Weta Nichols 2016 Finalists Announced

The finalists for the 2016 Weta Nichols Competition have been announced. Winners will be revealed on Saturday, September 17 at the final ORACON event. Be sure to be there! Register now and avoid paying more at the door!

Congratulations to the finalists of our 2016 Weta Nichols competition! And to everyone who submitted -- thank you so much for participating. Your stories were a joy to read.

These are your finalists (listed in no particular order)

Contemporary Finalists

Kristin Helling for The Idea Man

Brooke McBride for Edge of Us

Jessie Gussman for Turbocharged


Historical Finalists

Tim Blane for Love Bird

Olive Swan for Deadly Sins

Bonnie Olsen for Lily's Story: The Sanitarium Years


Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy Finalists

Athena Prescott for The Earth We Walk - The Pentacle Series

Toni J Strawn for Dream State

Katie Bennett for Delirium


Young Adult/Middle Grade Finalists

Kayla Griffith for The Color of the Mist

Kayla Griffith for The Necromancer of Possum Bluff

Cathy Morrison for Say Something

ORACON Schedule Revealed

Get ready for a fun, informative day as we explore independent and traditional publishing!

8 a.m.  


7:45–8:45 a.m.

Conference Registration & Continental Breakfast; KANSAS-OKLAHOMA BALLROOM

Headshots by appointment with Davis Photographic Design;                            ARKANSAS ROOM A


9:00 AM TO 12:30

Publishing Possibilities: What’s Possible                            

Presented by: Denise Grover Swank

Want to know what avenues are available to you in today’s publishing environment? NYT and USA Today Best-selling author, Denise Grover Swank, has done it all. Starting with her independent publishing career in 2011, Denise has books published independently, through Amazon’s imprints, traditional Big 5, and traditional Big 5 print-only. You don’t want to miss this inspiring morning talk about what’s truly possible!

Publishing Possibilities and Profit

Presented by: Sara Megibow, agent KT Literary Agency

Agent Sara Megibow believes in strategizing with authors on how to make the most of their books and careers. Join her as she discusses how to evaluate your publishing options (traditional publishing, small press or independent) through the lens of profit, including distribution, formats, and subrights. 

No Excuses: Writing Quality Books Through Hospitals, Heartache & Insert Disaster Here

Presented by: Sarah M. Anderson

Regardless of which publishing path you choose, authors are being asked to write faster and faster. How do you meet the demand while still writing quality books? And what happens when life throws you a curve (or three?). Join author, Sarah M. Anderson, who has published more than 25 projects in the last two years—one of which just won the 2016 RITA for best short contemporary!

12:30 – 1:15        Lunch – ILLINOIS BEDROOM


Attendees choose between INDEPENDENT and TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING track.  

1:30 – 4:15

A Deeper Look at Independent Publishing

The Business and Marketing Side of Independent Publishing

Presented by: Denise Grover Swank

Join Denise as she takes you through the business and marketing of independent publishing, including how to create a business plan for yourself and how to help your book find its audience. 

Working with an Editor

Presented by: Holly Atkinson, Evil Eye Editing

Join Holly as she discusses the importance of having your independently published work edited well, how to find an editor that’s a good fit for you, and more.

A Deeper Look at Traditional Publishing

Queries and Agents and Contracts, Oh My!

Presented by: Sara Megibow

Your book is done and you’d like to explore the traditional publishing route. Now, you need to figure our how to query in a way that will grab an agent’s attention, how to vet an agent, what an agent can do for you, and all that jazz. Join Sara Megibow as she digs into the possibilities.


Brave Writers Query Workshop

Have a pitch ready? If you’re brave enough to pitch it in public, Sara will workshop the pitch with you so that you (and the supportive listening audience) can learn what an agent is looking for, and turn your pitch into the perfect query you can take back with you to e-mail those agents with on Monday!

It’s All About That Distribution…

Presented by Sarah M. Anderson

Having published traditionally, small-press and independently, Sarah shares with us her thoughts on the best route for getting your books into the hands of readers.

Q&A With All Industry Guests – KANSAS & OKLAHOMA BALLROOM

4:30 - 5:00

We’ve heard a lot of fantastic information today about the Publishing Possibilities available to us in 2016. Here’s your chance to ask any lingering questions of our speakers!

Awards and Raffles - 5:00 - 6:00 


What are you waiting for?


Monthly Meeting - Saturday, August 6

Join us on August 6 at the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library for Ozark's Romance Authors' Monthly Meeting. It's time to nominate board members for 2016-17, plus we have a lot to discuss about the direction ORA will be taking. Do we want to change some of the board positions and/or add new positions? Do we want to hire someone to handle some tasks? Do we want to continue holding our annual writing contest? What about our conference? These are only some of the BIG decisions we need to make. Come help shape ORA's future!

ORA meets in the basement of the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library in Springfield, MO at 11:30 a.m.

Join our critique group at 10 a.m - 11:30 a.m. Want your work reviewed by talented writers and published authors? Bring twenty copies of up to five pages of your work to share for critique or just listen and offer advice.

NEW! ORA Critique Groups

Hello ORA members! 

Based on membership feedback, the ORA board has been working on building the foundation for critique groups within our membership. We are excited to introduce our new writers’ critique groups at the August meeting.

Kayla Griffith has volunteered to be the coordinator of the groups and will explain more about them at the meeting. She has ten years of experience at creating online critique partnerships and is delighted to fill this role for ORA. 

While there are many types of critique groups, our first set will be the type often referred to as “Concept to Completion.” Basically, each author will bring a new or newly begun story to their group and write it over the next few months with help and input from their critique group members. Getting weekly feedback from fellow writers is one of the best ways to improve writing, and we hope our members can use this powerful tool to become stronger and more prolific writers.

Once the first critique groups are up and running, Kayla can help facilitate others with a more specialized focus. Come to the meeting to find out how to get signed up for this amazing writing tool and find out what other options might be available in the future. 

Monthly Meeting - Saturday, June 4

Join us on June 4 at the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library for Ozark's Romance Authors' Monthly Meeting. We'll be continuing our conversation on craft with Katy Madison presenting Shrek's Guide to GMC.

ORA meets in the basement of the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library in Springfield, MO at 11:30 a.m.

Join our critique group at 10 a.m - 11:30 a.m. Want your work reviewed by talented writers and published authors? Bring twenty copies of up to five pages of your work to share for critique or just listen and offer advice.

Please NOTE: This meeting will be a long one. While ORA meetings tend to last an hour, some topics require more depth and discussion. The June meeting is expected to run at least two hours.

Photo by Eric Anderson

Photo by Eric Anderson

Katy Madison has always loved stories.  As a child she was always lugging a book around.  At the age of eight, after having gone through over a hundred Nancy Drew mysteries, all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books—at least twice—and many others including her full weekly allotment of library books, Katy went to her mother and begged for a new book to read.  Her frustrated mother handed her a romance novel.  Katy fell in love with the romance genre.  She quickly found where her mother hid the rest and began sneaking them out to read.  She cut her eye teeth on books by Georgette Heyer and Mary Stewart, not to mention dozens of Barbara Cartland’s.  With a nod to great Gothic novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca, Katy offers up her gothic romance Tainted by Temptation.

Katy makes her home with her family and two cats on a tree-lined street in Kansas City.  She thinks there is nothing better than a curling up in front of the fireplace and escaping with a good book while a storm rages outside. Except maybe the beach without the storm, plenty of sun, and, of course, a good book.

The Early Days of ORA

A guest blog by founding Ozarks Romance Authors Member, Kathleen Garnsey.

In December, 1987, on my way to Christmas shop at the mall, I dropped my sister-in-law, Flora Opal, at Shoney's on Battlefield and National for a meeting of a new writer's group called Ozarks Romance Authors. There were several other groups at the time, but none of them wanted to work with romance writers. A woman named Weta Nichols decided the Springfield, Missouri, area needed a romance writers’ group. 

Romance writers back then were looked down upon by other groups, and not recognized as legitimate writers. There are some writers, even today, who don't give romance authors their due credit, but it has gotten better.

Weta, a prolific romance author, wanted a group that catered to romance writers only, whether published or upcoming, so she began ORA. At the time we were a chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America) and all our members had to belong to the national organization. So in 1988, I joined ORA and RWA and began learning how to write a romance.

Weta Nichols, founder of ORA

Weta Nichols, founder of ORA

ORA soon became a viable alternative for anyone interested in writing. It was Weta's intention for ORA to cater to the art or writing the romance, since no other group would. If you write romance, you quickly learn it is a unique genre that requires certain elements not required in other genres. In a romance, the relationship is the main plot, and everything else belongs to the secondary plot. Everything revolves around the hero and heroine, and their passion to find everlasting love with one another while they work through problems and adversity. The ways in which that happens are unlimited, but the relationship is the primary reason for the story. With that said, good writing is good writing, no matter the genre, and the learning process is always necessary.

In the early days, we had speakers who educated us on writing the romance, and how to use plot, characterization and conflict to create an exciting book that included adventure, and the happy ending of true love found.

We learned how to write love scenes with the secret formula revealed: What is happening in their heads is more important than what their bodies are doing. Once I learned that, I was able to write those scenes effectively with the proper impact for the reader. Many of the presentations were by very successful published members who joined ORA, including:  Lois Kleinsasser, aka Cait Logan/Cait London, Lori Copeland, Norma Brader, Laura Abbot, Carla Kelly, Suzann Ledbetter and Terri Valentine. These ladies contributed a lot to ORA at meetings and conferences and we owe them a vote of thanks and gratitude.

The group decided it needed a newsletter, so Flora Opal and I accepted that responsibility—yes, pre-Microsoft Word and Publisher. We typed, cut and pasted together an eight page newsletter which we took to the copy shop for printing, then folded, addressed and mailed them to our members and supporting RWA groups. The first ORA newsletter was created and mailed in April 1989. Oh, the good old days. We included articles from other RWA groups, and they used articles we wrote, so there was a lot of "how to" articles which everyone enjoyed. Those were fun times, typing and gluing everything for fliers, posters, and anything else necessary for newsletters and conferences. It was a time of learning and creating a writer's group that would survive the years and grow into what it is today.

Our first conference: I was on that first committee and did so many jobs I'm not sure what my title was, but we all worked hard to put on that conference. The date was September 16, 1989 and we called it "The Heart of the Matter." We held a Friday evening wine and cheese party in conjunction with a book signing at the mall. We hired a trolley to take attendees from the Sheraton Inn, where the conference and party was being held, to the mall for the signing. We even managed to get Bantam Books to pay the cost. We had so little money then that we had to beg our members to pay their conference fees early so we could pay for printing costs for conference mailers! We all worried how we would pay the hotel bill if we did not get enough attendees, since there was a minimum charge to use their facilities. I don't have the exact number, but it was a major success with more people than we dreamed possible, over a hundred. We were able to pay the hotel bill and pocket a bit for future endeavors.

At the time we had no idea how many conferences we would have, or who would attend. All we knew was there was a basic need for the information only we could provide for those writers who wanted to write romance, and create a book to be proud of, a book a publisher would accept. We had speakers that addressed query letters, agents, rejections, and success stories. The information has changed drastically over the years—with paper publishers falling by the wayside and electronic publishing taking over the industry in a dramatic and all encompassing way—a giant sweep no one saw coming.

As much as things change, they also stay the same. All of the writing elements we learned "way back then" are being presented to you today. The teachers and presentations may be different, but the information is timeless and necessary. We have the same appetite for writing and creating stories that people want to read. We have always had members from rank beginners to authors on the best seller lists, and every level in between.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow have blended together to form a group that has made a real name for itself, that has developed and grown from a handful of women to the number of authors we have today. We began the Weta Writing Contest at the time of our second conference, although it was not named after Weta until after she passed away. We wanted to honor our founder and thought that would be a fitting tribute since she was so extremely proud of her group and the way it had grown.

The 2016 Weta Nichols Competition is now accepting submissions

The 2016 Weta Nichols Competition is now accepting submissions

I was asked how romance writers were looked at way back then and how has it changed. It may be just me, but I feel romance authors receive more respect today than in years past. The romance genre has a massive readership, and a large part of the book market. Romance novels have been around forever, and will continue to be a viable genre to write. Romance writers should be proud of their genre, and the ability for the romance market to maintain and grow readership.

There are very few "early" members still in ORA, but those of us who are, have truly enjoyed the journey of beginning something that has endured and grown into the fantastic organization it is today. All of our hard work paid off, and as one of those "early members", I want to welcome everyone to the finest writer's group I've ever belonged to, and the one I hold near and dear to my heart. Please enjoy everything ORA has to offer, and know that many came before you, and hopefully many will come after you. My favorite greeting, "Welcome to ORA—the best writer's group around!"

Kathleen Garnsey—Member since 1988



Craft - Continued!

Join us on May 7 at the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library for Ozark's Romance Authors' Monthly Meeting. We'll be continuing our conversation on craft with the discussion of Characterization and Identity vs. Essence.

ORA meets in the basement of the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library in Springfield, MO at 11:30 a.m.

Join our critique group at 10 a.m - 11:30 a.m. Want your work reviewed by talented writers and published authors? Bring twenty copies of up to five pages of your work to share for critique or just listen and offer advice.

NOTE: The JUNE meeting will be a long one. While ORA meetings tend to last an hour, some topics require more depth and discussion. The June meeting is expected to run at least two hours. More information to come at the May meeting.