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Red Dirt Book Festival – Nov. 2 and 3

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If you love books, writing, or chatting with some of Oklahoma’s most famous authors, then head down to Shawnee on November 2 and 3 for the Red Dirt Book Festival.  The festival is two days full of celebrating the written word and includes presentations and workshops on writing, a lunch speaker, book signings, and more.  All events are held at the Heart of Oklahoma Expo Center, and the festival begins at 9:00 am on Friday.

The festival has become an Oklahoma tradition in recent years, and it’s always very informative for anyone interesting in writing a book or in learning about the process.  The panels cover a wide range of subjects, including writing film adaptations, women and writing, creating compelling characters, small presses, and writing mysteries. 

What’s really nice about the Red Dirt Book Festival is the price: it’s completely free to attend any of the presentations!  This is great for anyone on a budget, especially since many of the other writer’s conferences in Oklahoma, like the Nimrod conference in Tulsa and the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc, conference in Oklahoma City, have a pretty good-sized registration fee. 

At the Red Dirt Book Festival, the only thing you have to pay for are the meals ($15 each for the Friday and Saturday lunches and $25 for the Friday night banquet).   These meals are completely optional, though, so you don’t have to attend if you don’t want to.  However, each meal includes a speaker.  Non-fiction writer Bob Burke will speak Friday at lunch, while Oklahoma Center for the Book director Glenda Carlile will provide the program on Saturday.  The Friday banquet will include a number of different speakers.

Want to know which authors you’ll be able to see at the festival?  Well, the list is very long and includes many of Oklahoma’s most known writers.  Here are just a few of my favorite authors who will be attending.

The first is Mel Odom, fantasy writer and author of over 150 novels, including original series and books for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Left Behind, and Tomb Raider.  Mr. Odom will be discussing plotting and what it takes to take a movie script and turn it into a novel. 

If you’re more of a romance buff, you might enjoy speaking with Merline Lovelace, a marvelous woman who has written some of the hottest romance novels around.  One of her panels in on doing research, so if you’re interested in writing historical romance (or any sort of period piece), you should sit in on her discussion.

If you prefer fantastic romance, author PC Cast will be on hand to talk about her magical romance novels that deal with Celtic and Greek gods.  She will also be doing a panel on creating teenage characters with her daughter, Kristen.  The two have recently co-authored a young adult novel and plan on writing more together.

Speaking of young adult novels, author Barbara Snow-Gilbert will also be at the festival.  While she won’t be talking specifically about writing young adult novels, she is doing a presentation on how to improve your odds at getting published.  I’ve had the pleasure of attending this panel when she presented it at the Centennial Book Festival last year, and I urge everyone who is even thinking of writing to attend it.  It’s very helpful!

If you’re more into poetry, a number of Oklahoma poets will be at the festival, including Jim Chastain, Nathan Brown, and Dorothy Alexander.  These three fine writers are doing a panel called “raising poetry from the dead” that sounds very intriguing.

If you prefer to write non-fiction pieces or are working on your memoirs, Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz will be discussing how to capture characters in memoir writing, plus Bob Burke will be talking about non-fiction writing at Friday’s lunch.

There are many other great writers who will be at the festival besides the few I’ve discussed here.  With no registration fee (unless you want to eat), a huge variety of writers, and a great line-up of panels, this year’s festival looks like it will be another great weekend.  For more information, you can check out the festival’s website at

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