2021 Writers Conference Schedule and Session Descriptions

Saturday, May 1, 2021 (all sessions are Central Time Zone)

10:00–11:00a CT S.D. Smith Opening Keynote: Two Truths of a Generous Writer
Writing is miraculous, magical, and tinged with glory. Writing is an ordinary vocation rooted in love and service. Both are true, and the most generous writers write inside a nuanced identity that holds onto both tightly.
11:00–12:00p CT Breakout Sessions
Forrest Anderson This Will Only Take a Minute: Writing Flash Fiction
This session will introduce participants to the very short story. Through reading and discussion, we’ll arrive at a definition of “flash” fiction relying on examples from Ernest Hemingway, Kim Chinquee, Tom Cooper, Sherman Alexie, and Robert Olen Butler. Then, relying on “objects” we associate with a character, we’ll compose our very own flash story.
Fred Dings Poetry Reading & Discussion
Fred Dings will read poems from his new book, The Four Rings: New & Selected Poems (SFA Press, 2020). He will also offer a few comments on the process of reading and writing poetry, allowing a few minutes for questions.
Nambi E. Kelley Pandemics and the Imagination
Join acclaimed screenwriter and playwright, Nambi E. Kelley for a session exploring how the double pandemics of COVID-19 and race impact imaginative storytelling.
Lesley Clinton Finding God in the Writer’s Workshop
This workshop offers practical strategies for helping high school writers tap into their gift for written expression. Workshop participants will learn how to help students reflect, prioritize the reader, and develop an authentic and engaging writer’s voice. This session is suitable for educators who work with print-resistant or confident writers in middle or high school. Options for diverse learning styles will leave participants prepared to meet students where they are in their writing development.
12:00–1:00p CT HBU Faculty Lunch Break
Optional MFA Creative Writing & Screenwriting Info Session
12:00-12:30p — Join our MFA faculty in a brief introduction to the new Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Screenwriting. Learn about these low-residency degree opportunities and ask questions about the programs.
1:00–2:00p CT Breakout Sessions
Joanna Pearson Reading + Craft Discussion: Using Ghost Story Techniques in Fiction
Joanna Pearson will do a brief reading, and then open up a discussion about using elements of suspense or the uncanny to shape and enrich more traditionally “literary” short stories.
Van G. Garrett Poetry and Passion: Heartwarming Ideas for Crafting Poems
Participants will learn how to create narratives based on their personal interests. Additionally, they will explore writing territories, survey model texts, and discover writing possibilities for poems. Informative and informal, this presentation will allow writers and artists to learn in supportive, productive, and engaging ways.
Mark Stolaroff Steps to Self-Sufficiency for Screenwriters
Whether you’re interested in selling your screenplays or producing them yourself, it pays to think like a producer. Join Mark Stolaroff of No-Budget Film School as he introduces six key steps for screenwriters to consider before writing their next scripts.
Sarah Cortez Teaching with the Persona Poem
The Persona poem asks each student to write in the voice of another person. This other person may be alive or historic, known or unknown. Ms. Cortez sets the parameters, provides examples, then allows teachers to write various examples themselves. In this manner, Ms. Cortez provides coaching for methodologies of critique. Appropriate for Middle Grade and High School educators.
2:00–3:00p CT Breakout Sessions
S.D. Smith Why I’m a Green Writer: Going and Growing
Want to be a GREAT writer? S. D. Smith advocates aiming instead for GREEN. A Green Writer is GOING—not waiting for permission, or till the fear is gone, or the muse strikes and the timing is right. A Green Writer goes! A Green Writer is GROWING—not yet what he or she will be, but a living thing, changing and becoming someone who shares generous, excellent work.
Chelsea Hill & Kimberly Povloski The Girl is Gone: An Inquiry into the Nature and Ethics of True Crime Poetry
In this session, poets Chelsea Hill and Kimberly Povloski will look at the emergence of the genre of true crime poetry and its relationship to archival/documentary poetics. While these projects often intend to memorialize the dead and “bear witness” to history, we must ask ourselves what is risked when writers and readers test the line between witness and voyeur.
Helen Turner Authors & Screenwriters: Understanding Writers’ Rights
Media attorney Helen Turner will present on copyrighted works and common legal disputes, including disputes involving copyright (and trademark) infringement. She will also address writer employment agreements and writer collaboration agreements to highlight commonly negotiable provisions and how to get paid in each scenario.
Louis Markos What Price Knowledge: The Dangers of Plucking Forbidden Fruit
Whether we call him Faust or Prometheus, Ahab or Dorian Gray, Dr. Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll, literature abounds with tales of would-be heroes who, in their search for power or wisdom or immortality, end up, like Adam, plucking forbidden fruit. Though their taboo act may have been motivated by good intentions, they all discover in the end that the fruit is sour, that their action has made them both a curse and a contagion. Join me as I define the major qualities of this Jungian archetype whom critics have dubbed the Byronic hero and survey some of his major incarnations.
3:00–4:15p CT Tony Hale Closing Keynote
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.