Hope and Dreams in Eureka Springs

You have written a book. Or you want to write a book. Or you have a (in your humble opinion) fantastic idea for a book. What do you do now? If you were in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, the second weekend of October, it’s likely you found yourself at the annual Ozark Creative Writers Conference (OCW). This year was the first time I have attended this event, and I freely admit it was not what I expected. That is not to say I was disappointed though.

Let me say, I was misled by my own prejudices. In my mind Eureka Springs is a sleepy little town in the Ozarks, stumbled upon by the occasional visitor. In reality, this is far from true. Thousands of tourists find their way there year, many of them repeat visitors, and the town has been a tourist destination for over 100 years. A part of my mind was convinced I would encounter a handful of locals who wanted to attend some workshops because they have been told by well-meaning friends and family members that they are creative geniuses.

The first thing I found out is that this event is a BIG DEAL. Many more attendees than I had envisioned, many of them coming from long distances after having planned this trip for months. I quickly discovered the “Ozark” in the title refers to the setting of the conference, not the home locality of the attendees. And while I’m sure most, if not all, of the people in attendance were “creative”, not all were writers, myself included.

Looking at the conference agenda, I saw many interesting programs and authors listed. Fortunately, I was able to meet a few of the authors. Dusty Richards was there with his wife and a table full of his western novels for sale. And I had the chance to meet Johnny D. Boggs, also an author of western novels, and purchased three of his books, which he kindly signed for me. Oghma’s own Darrel Sparkman signed a copy of his novel Hallowed Ground for me as well. I love signed books (can you tell?) and have a designated area of my bookshelves for them.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any of the programs, since my boss had me chained (literally? figuratively?) to my chair in the area known as Publisher’s Row. In all fairness to Casey, since I was there as a representative of Oghma Creative Media, that is where I was supposed to be. I’m sure the speakers offered many hints and tips to the attendees, although there were no actual “workshops” that I am aware of at this event.

What is Publisher’s Row, you ask? At OCW, Publisher’s Row is an area set aside where authors (both previously published and aspiring) can meet with publishers and pitch their ideas in a comfortable setting. Publishers display a selection of books on the tables, and authors can browse the tables and see examples of books from each publisher to get an idea of who might be interested in what they have to sell. Authors can see what genres each company publishes, how the books look and feel, the attractiveness of the cover art, the overall quality of the finished products. After all, if you’re writing regency romances, you don’t want to try to sell your ideas to a company that only publishes westerns. Each publisher has sign-up sheets so writers can pick a day and time during the conference to give their pitch, and publishers can let writers know exactly what they are interested in accepting, as well as providing submission guidelines.

As one of the representatives for Oghma, I was lucky enough to hear many of the ideas pitched to our company, and to meet some wonderful people in the process. Some had finished manuscripts; some had ideas and were looking for guidance. Some had published elsewhere, some had self-published their books. They were younger, older, married, or single. Genres included children’s books, romance, mysteries, non-fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and westerns.

What was the one thing everyone had in common? Hopes and dreams. They came hoping someone would listen to their ideas, hoping a stranger would say their idea/book/writing was wonderful. Hoping they would find someone to believe in them. They came dreaming of holding a book in their hand, seeing their name on the cover, presenting their stories to the world.  And with any luck, I’ll be actively helping some of those dreams come true.

Hello, my name is Cyndy, and I’m a Bookaholic

Small children love to hear stories, and I was no exception. My mother didn’t tell her own stories, so my bedtime stories came from books. I loved the books the stories came from, the look of the covers, the smell of the pages. Before I could read, I snuck books into my bed to sleep with the way other kids slept with stuffed animals. When I grew older, I took a flashlight with me so I could hide under the covers and read. I knew someday I would write the books and tell the stories. I dreamed of having my name on the cover of books, of going into stores and meeting my fans at book signings, of traveling the world to “research” my next novel.

I still love the stories and the books. But my reality has deviated from the dream. I’ve never written a book, a short story, or even a poem. My husband is an author, as are many of my friends. Other friends are working on making their dreams of publication a reality. I admire each and every one of them. I simply haven’t joined them.

My husband and I live in a log cabin, tucked away in the Ozark hills of Northwest Arkansas. It’s an idyllic setting for a novelist to hide away in and write, if you don’t mind staying home when the creek rises. Or having no internet access, because the cables don’t come out this far, and the satellites can’t receive a signal down in this holler. No TV signal either, for that matter. But we don’t view these as hardships—we are from a generation that grew up without computers, and children weren’t allowed to spend hours in front of the television. We do have indoor plumbing, and even electricity… we aren’t completely out of touch with the times.

We both grew up in this area, in the next county over. The town where we attended high school had less than 1500 people then, and you mostly knew the same kids all through school. Some of those people are still in our lives, and we consider ourselves fortunate because they are the people who made us what we are today. My husband is my rock star and has four published novels so far, and promises me there are more to come. He tells me I can write, that I should write, and I know he’ll guide and support me along the way if I choose to try. We shall see.

Along my life journey I managed to stumble into the world of writing, an exciting world populated by authors and artists, publishers and libraries and bookstores. I admit that it happened with the help of my awesome husband. I am currently the Marketing Director for Oghma Creative Media, a publishing house based on the principle of putting the authors first. We aren’t a “vanity publisher”, where anyone can pay to have a book published and call all the shots. We are a traditional publisher who understands that without talented authors and artists we have nothing to publish and sell. We work closely with the authors to help them achieve success, and think of ourselves as one big, mostly happy, family.

But this blog isn’t about the company, or even the industry. I love what I do, I love the people I meet and the places I go. This blog is about my amazing life on the fringes. Will I talk about Oghma Creative Media? Probably so.  Will I do my best to introduce you to the authors and artists we publish, as well as others that I meet at conferences? Of course! Will you find book reviews on here, as well as shameless plugs for writers, books, and events? Absolutely! But this isn’t a place for sales and marketing. It’s a place to show you what life is like behind the scenes of my world.

So grab a comfortable chair, settle in with a warm quilt and a cup of tea, and let the stories begin.


The passage above is my very first blog post. I showed it to my husband, who said the writing is good. I thanked him, and acknowledged that he might be biased. He suggested that I show the post to Casey Cowan, my boss and commander-in-chief of Oghma Creative Media, if I didn’t believe him and wanted another opinion. So, heart in my throat, I did.

I explained to Casey my idea of a personal blog, and asked his OK to talk about our company, our authors, and more. Casey said he wants me to post my blog on our company website, since we don’t currently have a blog. So I will. I plan to also continue here, and there might be some duplication, but the more I write the better the results.