Comments about the 2021 OWR:


The following comments were submitted in a post-retreat survey to the question, ‘What did you like best about the retreat?’:

Time to do something for me.

Meeting the people that have written columns that I have enjoyed for years

Meeting people with similar interests, sharing, speakers.

Meeting new friends while listening to the breadth of styles, determination, and interests in writing was encouraging, delightful, and a bit overwhelming!

So much talent out there. So much encouragement.

The intellectual stimulation. The quality of the “faculty” was outstanding

Inspiration- being exposed to both brilliant writers and people grappling with challenges in their writing.

The sessions and panels are both key ingredients, and some social time adds a lot of value to the experience, as well.

Great job facilitating a lot of activities, Julie!

I learned how to structure my writing better.

Absorbing the experience, wisdom, and strategies of such a wonderful collection of high-level, talented, and experienced writer leaders; and having a chance to network for potential partnerships leading to mutually beneficial writing/publishing…a wonderful chance to grow into a new peer group, as a writer. Thank you.

The opportunity to attend! The learning of process tips, and the hearing of superb writing out there (thinking of Ken Fuson’s sentence right now).

The connecting and the fun.

Meeting and sharing with writers and different places in their writing and the encouragement to write and rewrite.

I coincidentally ended the week with Beth Howard, who asked (forced? 🙂 ) us to name what actions we were going to take to get our project going. It was a great way to think about my next steps! Not only am I developing a book proposal based on her encouragement, but hearing Rachelle and Leigh speak about the business matters of publishing also encouraged me to standardize my freelance writing rates and, coincidentally, my dog-sitting/housesitting rates. Even if I can’t get anyone to accept my proposal, I’ll have a roadmap to finishing this passion project – and I’ll be making more side money hanging out with dogs!

I liked that I realized that I know as much as the romance writers in their presentations. I am no longer a newbie.

Hearing different perspectives, documentaries, Party barge, and dinner,

Making new friends.

Small group sessions. I wished it would have been less confusing. We signed up ahead and that seemed to go out the window.

The session with Deb Engle.

The interaction, the level of knowledge – I will take it all in next time, every minute and evening. (Had other commitments this time)

Being around people that I never would have been around otherwise.

Knowing it was first-rate, top-notch writers of humility before the written word. Excellent quality people. The other attendees were so relatable. Could tell it wasn’t their first rodeo either, and I enjoyed them all as people.

Felt very at home.

Talking with everyone.

Networking. Meeting speakers. Asking questions and sharing.I liked it being in Okoboji. I enjoyed meeting all the different people. I became inspired to complete some work I have started and to begin other projects I hadn’t even thought of without these writers.

Loved the setting, the movie, the barge ride, and social interactions.

Met some very interesting people and heard amazing stories!

Experienced writers comments, viewing film, Party Barge & Group dinner, meeting new friends! Enjoyed Chuck O., Kyle M. Rehka B. Art C.

Overall: creativity, enthusiasm, inspiring, heavy, fulfilling, humor. Appreciate the leadership of Julie and Richard!

The open exchange of ideas and sharing, the CARING, the humbleness, the small group breakout sessions, the panels…I guess everything 😁

Enjoyed the positive energy and passion for writing


Seeing some old friends and connecting with new friends. It was all..the very best.

Best? I really liked it all.

I enjoyed getting specific tips a lot; I liked the chance to meet other writers and wannabe writers and other participants in general.

I liked that it was NOT virtual! I think you aimed for 200 attendees and that seems about right, not too large or small.

I think my Pineal Gland got a great talking to. Now both hemispheres of my brain will work together instead of constantly arguing back and forth about everything. HARMONY

Rekha Basu, what an incredible inspiration and teacher. I enjoyed everything, but I would give a shout-out to Leigh Michaels for information sharing and guidance.

The overwhelming quality of speakers with info on a good variety of topics, including current stuff like Social Media info, Podcasts, and great ways to self-promote, as well as specific procedures to find an agent, submit to magazines, etc.

Excellent lineup of speakers and breakouts.

The entire event seemed warm, welcoming, and family-like.

The variety of topics and the intimate access to such experienced professionals.

Julie’s enthusiasm and personal touches were very much appreciated also.

Connection. Encouragement to keep writing, that we all have stories worth sharing.

Embracing self-publishing was all good.

I was initially uncertain about attending the movie screening, but I am so glad I chose to. That made for a very enjoyable evening, and a way to decompress a little after the full day of workshops on Monday.

I appreciated being with articulate, thoughtful people.

Eye-opening meeting such a variety of writers!

I didn’t know how much I needed to be around other storytellers until this week. I feel energized knowing that I’m on the right path in my writing career and met a few friends in the process.

Meeting the authors and getting inspired to write.

The variety of speakers offers a different perspective on the written word. Fascinating people all doing what they love for a variety of different reasons.

Coming to the lakes is very important to me as I have come since I was a child. My family saved all year to have a lake vacation. We brought our own food for a week. The highlight and use of our money were Arnolds Park, eating at the pancake house, and riding the Empress or Queen. My grandparents came with us – they too saved all year to rent a cottage and take the family out one night for a “nice supper.” So I have great memories of time spent at Okoboji. This conference was a gift to me. My natural mode is service to my family, community, and organizations I belong. For almost 38 years I put my heart and soul into a job and organization that I valued. That job was eliminated four years ago last week. Time and distance have taught me I need to take better care of myself and do what I need to do for myself. I feel my clock ticking after being in the COVID cave. Coming to the conference is a marker for me to move forward on things that I want and need to do. I have cleaned purged enough drawers, closets, and bookshelves for a while. Need to get writing.

Meeting new people and reconnecting with people I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic or had never met in person.

Conversations with professional writers, writers, and wanna-be writers.

The opportunity to talk in a small group setting with published authors. Recently, I’ve been to a much larger workshop (Erma Bombeck Humor Writers’ Conference) that brought in really big names and was beneficial in that way, but the ability to ask very-specific questions face to face at this workshop was fantastic.

The encouragement I found there. I left knowing I would go home and act on what I learned. It was time well-spent.

I enjoyed the open, face-to-face conversations that took place during our small group sessions. I met so many thoughtful, interesting, smart, and authentically kind people in the two short days I attended and hope to continue to cultivate some of these relationships.

Joining a group of interesting, creative, and positive writers, including writing icons.

Meeting the variety of writers and people with such diverse backgrounds.

Having my specific questions answered by articulate authors/writers with experience and knowledge.

My favorite part of the retreat was the viewing of the excellent documentary. The movie and boat cruise were highlights. We had the ability to connect socially with the presenters and the other participants.

I enjoyed the opportunities to connect so closely with the instructors.

Meeting all these amazing writers and how down-to-earth they are. I felt supported and encouraged.

The networking opportunities were fantastic. Small groups do more interaction with speakers, unlike other conferences.

The people.

Shared interests and quality of speakers. I liked it all and I won the door prize from Leigh Michaels.

I really enjoyed being in the small session with Beth Howard. She gave us very hands-on ideas on how to get started writing. She was one of my top sessions. I also really enjoyed Doug Burns. Art Cullen and his director joined the group and it was very inspiring. Doug did everything he could to include everyone in the group discussion.

Rekha tried to get everyone in the group discussion but she had too many in her group. After that session, you asked the participants to not fill up the sessions and that was a good reminder.

Ty was helpful with using social media.

It was hard for me to not gush over the writers I’ve read and admired my entire adult life. To have Kyle Munson listen to me and take me seriously as a writer was a real confidence booster. And to have Julie Gammack, Reka Basu, Chuck Offenburger, and Art Cullen even in the room with the intent to help me improve my writing was such a thrill.

It was unbelievable. I most liked the memoir speakers. I also liked the variety of speakers that presented.

Meeting new people and seeing old friends, seeing Storm Lake and the Q&A, the engagement and passion of the speakers and presenters, and the mix of opportunities.

Finding a writing community!

Really enjoyed meeting everyone.

Need to stay at it!

Beth Hoffman’s session.

The connection to other writers and to the speakers.

The value. You packed so much into three days. The cost was low considering how much content was provided. How did you do that?