2021 HBU Virtual Writers Conference

HBU’s Creative Writing program invites you to join us for the annual HBU Writers Conference, hosted virtually this year on Saturday, May 1, from 10:00 am – 4:30 pm. This year’s conference features an incredible slate of guest speakers, including keynotes from S.D. Smith and Tony Hale, a wide array of workshops, and panel discussions. With sessions focusing on fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and creative non-fiction, the HBU Writers Conference is a multi-disciplinary gathering of storytellers and wordsmiths united in common foundations of faith, beauty, and excellence.

The HBU Writers Conference also offers an educators track, serving teachers from elementary school to college. Four hours of TEA-recognized Continuing Education Units (CEU) are available for educators.

For the sake of our guests and speakers, this year’s event will be held virtually via Zoom. Registration is free and open to everyone.

Click here for Conference Schedule and Connection Info

Conference Speakers:

S.D. Smith S. D. Smith is the author of The Green Ember Series, a bestselling middle-grade adventure saga. The Green Ember has reached hundreds of thousands of readers and spent time as the number one bestselling audiobook in the world on Audible.

When he’s not writing adventurous tales in his writing shed, dubbed The Forge, Smith loves to speak to audiences about storytelling, imagination, and seeing yourself as a character in the Story. S. D. Smith lives in West Virginia with his wife and four kids.

The Green Ember Series

Tony Hale Tony Hale is an actor and comedian known for his roles in Arrested Development, Toy Story 4, and Veep, for which he won the 2013 and 2015 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

He also co-wrote the children’s book, Archibald’s Next Big Thing, which he then adapted into a Netflix TV series, in which he currently stars. He is now in production on Aaron Sorkin’s next feature film, Being the Ricardos, a biographical film about I Love Lucy.

Early in his career, Hale also helped found “The Haven,” a Bible study created specifically for the creative professionals of New York—actors, dancers, musicians, writers, producers, opera singers, filmmakers and even educators. Its mission is “to encourage and equip artistically-minded individuals to be more effective for Christ in their various areas of influence.”

Van Garrett

Van G. Garrett is an internationally celebrated artist and author, receiving numerous awards and fellowships. His poetry has been published in journals and anthologies in the United States, Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, and London, and his reviews and articles have appeared in African American Review; Film and History: The Documentary Tradition; and the Encyclopedia of African American History. He leads creative writing workshops at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. In 2015, Garrett collaborated with Don Tate to create a poetry curriculum guide for grades K-5 that aligns with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards. He is currently an adjunct professor of African American Studies and Literature at the University of Houston and a teacher at Lanier Middle School.


Joanna Pearson is a lapsed poet who once wrote a young adult novel on a whim and nowadays mostly writes [non-young-adult] fiction. Her second collection of stories, Now You Know It All, was selected by Edward P. Jones for the 2021 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and is forthcoming with Univ. of Pittsburgh Press in October 2021. Her first collection of stories, Every Human Love (Acre Books, 2019) was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Awards, the Foreword Indies Awards, and the Janet Heidinger Prize for Fiction. Her fiction has appeared widely and has been anthologized in The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2021, The Best Small Fictions 2019, and Best of the Net 2016. Her stories have also been listed among the year’s most notable in Best American Short Stories 2020, 2019, 2018, & 2015.

Nambi E. Kelley

Nambi E. Kelley is an acclaimed playwright, screenwriter, and actress, most recently serving as a writer on Showtime’s The Chi, a new show on Fox (TBA), and is developing several other film and TV projects. Her adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son received nominations for 5 Jeff Awards including best adaptation and production of the year, and was the highest grossing production in Court Theatre’s 65 year history. Her newly formed production company, First Woman LLC, is currently producing a digital and national tour of her young audiences’ play, Jabari Dreams of Freedom, directed by Daniel Carlton. She is also working with the estate of Dr. Maya Angelou to develop a bio play based on Angelou’s life for Broadway.

acclaimed poet Fred Dings
novelist Forrest Anderson
film producer Mark Stolaroff
poets Chelsea Hill and Kimberly Povloski
media attorney Helen Turner
literary scholar Louis Markos
and more…

Full Conference Schedule

Registration Information

Registration for this year’s virtual conference is FREE.

We will also provide free Continuing Education Units (CEU) for the first 100 teachers to register.

The HBU Writers Conference is hosted and supported by the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Screenwriting.

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Graduate Programs

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting