Oklahoma City 2007

Oklahoma City Workshop Well Received

By Robert Haught, Workshop Director

Writers from 25 states across the country who participated in the Will Rogers Writers’ Workshop in Oklahoma City March 15-17 judged it a successful undertaking.  A sizeable majority said the experience will be beneficial and many of the attendees expressed an interest in going to another workshop of this kind.
“It was probably one of the better ones I have gone and will go to in my lifetime,” said Danny Gallagher of McKinney, Tex.

George Waters of Pasadena, Calif., who was recognized at the workshop as the first place winner of the Will Rogers Writing Contest, said, “I would recommend it for anyone.”

“I took something away from virtually every session,” said Ben Shaberman of Baltimore, Md., who wrote about his Oklahoma City experience in an article published in The Oklahoman March 31.
The event was modeled after the highly regarded Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio, which partnered with the National Society of Newspaper Columnists in presenting the workshop.
A post-workshop survey using a rating scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) showed 84 percent of the respondents gave the workshop as a whole a rating of 4 or 5.  On the question of cost vs. value, 78 percent rated the workshop very good or excellent. 

An important survey question was: “Do you think what you learned at the workshop and the networking you did will help you sell more of your work?”  Ninety-two percent answered “yes.”

Asked “If the Will Rogers Writers’ Workshop should be held again in 2009, how likely are you to attend?”, the survey showed 29 percent definitely would attend and 35 percent almost definitely would return.

A detailed report on the workshop may be found at www.willrogersok.org, click on “What’s New?”


Final note:

 By Dave Lieber

A columnist kudo to my NSNC colleague Robert Haught, the NSNC secretary and Daily Oklahoman columnist, for the great job he did organizing the Will Rogers Writers’ Workshop in Oklahoma City in mid-March.

I just returned from the conference and was so impressed! It was one of the best writers’ workshops I have ever attended!

Funded in part by a generous grant from the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation and offered by the NSNC as a one-time deal, Bob made sure that the program was filled with, as NSNC Education Foundation President James Casto called it, “nuts and bolts, not theory.”

We learned how to do a lot of things at this conference, from building great Web sites to making readers laugh. There were seminars on writing, finding your niche, promoting your personality in the community and many others.

Speakers included former NSNC President Suzette Standring, former NSNC President Bill Tammeus, NSNC 2008 Conference Chair Smiley Anders and NSNC Contest Chairman Jeff Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal, to name just a few of the many great speakers. Many NSNC members were in attendance, too.

Bob, who is best known for his creation of the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, given each year by the NSNC in conjunction with the Will Rogers Memorial Commission, will be stepping down as NSNC secretary in June to retire to a life he describes as “a gentleman farmer” with his wife Mary at their home in Virginia.

We’ll see Bob and Mary again in Philly in June at the 2007 NSNC conference.

I’m very excited about that conference, too. Organized by Stu Bykofsky of the Philadelphia Daily News, this one will most likely be one of the greatest conferences in the NSNC’s 30-year history.

Please trust me on this one. If you are on the fence about going, jump. I’ve known Stu a long time, and when he commits to something, he always does it right. This will be one for the ages.

Please make plans to join us in Philly!



Columnists from Coast to Coast Attend Writers’  Workshop

 By Robert Haught, Workshop Director and NSNC Secretary

Robert HaughtTwo columnists from Oklahoma, living on opposite sides of the country, returned to the state for the Will Rogers Writers’ Workshop, an official Oklahoma Centennial event held in Oklahoma City March 15-17.

Jackie Papandrew, who lives in Largo, Fla., and Stephenie (cq) Freeman, of Santa Clarita, Calif., both attended the University of Oklahoma.

Papandrew, who is from Bartlesville, OK, is an award-winning writer/editor with experience in a wide variety of publications, including newspapers and magazines, technical materials and corporate communications.  She writes a nationally syndicated humor column, “Airing My Dirty Laundry”, which appears in The Oklahoman.  Papandrew’s credits include the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, “Parent Guide” and “The Working Investor”. 

Freeman, who has family in Norman, OK, is a humor columnist for BebeReviews.com, a weekly e-magazine with articles about parenting, food and health.  She also has been published on ClubMom.com.  Her syndicated column, “Mama Wants More”, may be found in the Style section of the Sunday edition of The Lawton Constitution.  Freeman has authored a book, “Living with Cheese Eaters and Bald-Headed Monkeys”, scheduled for spring release.

The Will Rogers Writers’ Workshop was presented by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists in partnership with the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.  It was held at the Renaissance Convention Center Hotel in Oklahoma City, with a special “Books and Authors” dinner Friday, March 16, at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.  Writers from 25 states across the country joined Oklahoma writers in attending the workshop. 

Columnists on the program included: Sally Allen (NewsOK.com), Smiley Anders (Baton Rouge Advocate), Tim Bete (self-syndicated), W. Bruce Cameron (Creators), Ray Hanania (self-syndicated), Robert L. Haught (The Oklahoman), Dave Lieber (Fort Worth Star-Telegram), Jim Miller (self-syndicated), Suzette Martinez Standring (freelance), Bill Tammeus (Kansas City Star), Craig Wilson (USA Today), and Jeffrey Zaslow (Wall Street Journal).


Will Rogers Writers’ Workshop – You Should’ve Been There! 

By Sheila Moss, NSNC WebEditor  

Will Rogers Impersonator

The Oklahoma Will Rogers Workshop was an exciting and productive success from the opening welcome by Robert Haught to the closing performances by attendees themselves. Those present left with renewed energy and numerous ideas on ways to succeed as writers and further our writing careers.

Attendees were entertained by Will Rogers, as played by Dr. Doug Watson, who gave a welcome as big as Oklahoma itself with his humorous monologue containing classic Rogers’ quips, such as, “I only know what I read in the papers.” Another workshop highlight was an after dinner speech by humor columnist Craig Wilson, of USA Today, who amused the audience with excerpts from his writing.

Workshop choices were so numerous that it was difficult to choose from the vast array. Among the workshops generating buzz from attendees were those by Tim Bete on how to create a killer website, Dave Lieber’s useful self-promotion tips, and Jim Miller’s realistic self-syndication advice.    

Guests couldn’t quit talking about how surprised and impressed they were by  Oklahoma City. The most visited spot in the city, of course, is still the Oklahoma National Memorial, site of the 1995 terrorist bombing of the Federal Building. Many of us took free time to visit the memorial, which was within walking distance of the hotel. 

The workshop ended on a funny note with comedy presentations hosted by Ray Hanania, a comedian with a fresh and unusual routine based on his Middle East ethnic heritage. The door prize of a roundtrip ticket for two to anywhere Southwest Airlines flies was won by guest attendee, Bahgat Elsagher, who was good-naturedly kidded by Hanania.

Attendees left with stacks of books purchased from various authors, notebooks bursting with topics to write on, and an overwhelming number of ideas for furthering our writing careers.  In spite of Bob Haught’s cat that wouldn’t cooperate, the workshop was proclaimed a resounding success, and we can hardly wait do it all over again in Philadelphia in June.


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