HBU Writers' Conference Session Descriptions

View the Conference Schedule

2014 Conference Session Descriptions


(Registration/Check-in) Visit our check-in desk so we can confirm your registration, or so you can register if you haven't already done so. Receive a name tag and materials that will help you both navigate and enjoy the conference.
Opening Remarks: A Discussion of "The Catholic Writer Today" A discussion based on Mr. Gioia's recent, much-talked-about article in First Things, "The Catholic Writer Today". This article has generated widespread interest and is already being reprinted internationally.
House of Memories: A Blueprint for Generating Writing Ideas Bring creativity back into the classroom with a technique that professional writers use when they "mine" for writing ideas. This hands-on technique will unleash students' memories and provide them with a plethora of writing ideas. Never again will you have to hear, "I don't know what to write about."
More Than Just for the Love of It: Houston Editors Talk about Working on Literary Magazines The emphasis in creative writing classrooms is often on producing and publishing your own work, but exposing the work of others to a wider audience can be just as rewarding. Four Houston-based editors—from Gulf Coast, Owl Eye Review, Houston & Nomadic Voices, and Glass Mountain—will talk about editing and promoting independent literature in the Bayou City. The rise of print-on-demand and web publishing has democratized publishing, making it possible for anyone to get started in the field, and the panelists will talk about the challenges and rewards of working on a literary journal or small press.
What is Pastoral Poetry?  
Writing Plots for Graphic Novels, Video Games, Television and Anything  
Grocery Lists & Love Letters: Creating Multi-Genre Texts from Family Artifacts For many of us, history takes the form of fragments. Our family stories can be found in shoeboxes of letters under the bed, notes scribbled on the backs of envelopes, old recipes, postcards, and grocery lists. In this workshop, participants will draw from personal and familial artifacts to create multi-genre works that combine the poetic, the prosaic, the epistolary, and the culinary. We will look to writers like Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga and Anne Carson who see genres as fluid and the movement between them necessary to saying all there is to say. Further, drawing from pedagogical theorists, we will explore how multi-genre projects in secondary writing classrooms might help students think more rhetorically about the relationship between content, form, genre, and purpose. Participants are invited to bring their own family artifacts or personal documents, or you are welcome to use items that Sara will bring to the workshop.
Moderating and Participating in Critique Circles This session will discuss why all writers need to be part of a critique circle. What the benefits and drawbacks are. How to find local groups and start one of your own. We will also discuss how to give a helpful review.
The Current State of e-Publishing The workshop will be conducted as a one-person panel discussion. Your concerns and questions drive most of the agenda. Handouts and notes will be provided. Bring laptops to our WiFi enabled room. The workshop does not assume you prefer to be agented or self-agented. The moderator takes the position that the processes for self-publishing and self-marketing are long-term requirements for every writer whose goal is to be a successfully published author. Topics include: Introduction; Pre-publishing; Manuscript; Bookcover & graphics; Publishing – Createspace & Amazon; Publishing – Smashwords; ACX – audiobooks; Wrapup. Post pre-workshop questions to: enosrussell@gmail.com
Writing Contemporary Young Adult (YA) Fiction  
Vulnerability Vs. Voyerism: Memoir and Personal Blogging in the 21st Century Memoirs and personal blogs offer a powerful way for writers to connect with readers. For Christian writers in particular, the tradition of the 'testimony' or conversion narrative makes personal writing an appealing genre, one that can help readers to “look along the beam” and gain new insights into the Christian life. However, in this new age of social media, the healthy boundaries of one’s private life can easily become blurred; vulnerability can become voyeurism, and paradoxically, the pursuit of authenticity can render one’s own lived experience performative. In this talk, I will explore the challenges of writing about personal experience, drawing on my experience of blogging over the past eight years at Hieropraxis, and particularly on the writing and later revision and expansion of my spiritual memoir, Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith (2010, Moody; forthcoming 2014, Ignatius).
(UAC Lobby and Coffee Room will stay open)  
Musical Performance - with commentary  
Songwriting Workshop  
Fear and Fiction In every meaningful story there exists an element of fear. This is no accident. From Jane Austen's Emma and Raymond Carver's short fiction to HP Lovecraft, Stephen King, Tolkien, and the Bible, this session explores the ways in which the stories that resonate most deeply with us make the most profound use of fear in the process. Delving into numerous examples, expected and unexpected, the session further teases out why the profound reality of fear preceding the most meaningful outcomes resonates so deeply: it's a fundamental element of our story, the human story.
Electric Pencils: Teaching "Radical Juxtaposition" to Free Creativity In this workshop participants will explore practical ways to set creativity free in the classroom. We will examine how “right answer fixation” closes down the brain and creates stress and how experimentation leads to new ways of thinking and learning. By the end of the workshop, teachers will be experts at using the strategy of “radical juxtaposition” to banish tired, predictable writing. Back in the classroom, teachers will notice two immediate benefits from teaching radical juxtaposition: richer vocabulary and more original imagery.
Getting Published: A Q&A on Submitting to Literary Journals Virginia Woolf said, “The truth is that writing is the profound pleasure and being read the superficial.” Maybe, but that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) stop you from submitting your work for publication. Four Houston-based editors—from Gulf Coast, Loaded Bicycle, Houston & Nomadic Voices, and Glass Mountain—will talk about how to decide where to send your work, how to prepare your work to send out, what to expect when submitting, and what to do when you get rejected. Because rejection does happen, but it doesn’t mean you should give up.
The Necessity of the Arts for a Christian Worldview In this speech, Dr. Markos will fashion an aesthetics of incarnation, one that will not only speak to the potential of the arts to bear a heavy weight of spiritual meaning but that will champion the ability of the arts to break down the finally artificial dichotomies of facts/values, rational/emotional, and reason/faith. In constructing this aesthetic Dr. Markos will draw on such things as Augustine’s focus on the allegorical meaning of scripture, the Orthodox emphasis on icons as symbols of the incarnation, and the biblical view of God as one who works in and through secular history.
Daniel: An Artist's Defense of Church, Religion and Tradition in Babylon  
The Role of the Critic Today With the rise of social media and the opportunity to share reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, the need for professional critics has been increasingly questioned. Professional critics are biased, it is argued, particularly against popular literary genres, which are often written by women, and get things wrong too often to make their reviews worthwhile. Without professional critics, criticism would be more democratic and richer. However, without denying the utility of informal criticism on Twitter and Facebook or the value of Amazon reviews, it will be argued that the professional critic still fulfills an important role in contemporary art and letters, though a number of contemporary practices need to be eliminated or changed if professional criticism is to survive.
So You Want to Get an MFA: The Whys and Hows of Applying to Graduate Creative Writing Programs Creative writing classes on college campuses are filled to capacity and MFA programs have proliferated in recent decades. More and more students are entering the field, but is a graduate creative writing program the best way for you to pursue your craft? What are the hallmarks of a good program? How do you choose where to apply? What does a good application look like? Five current, former, and future MFA students will talk about their experiences with graduate creative writing programs, their advantages and drawbacks, and alternatives to the academic model of creative writing education.
Overcoming the Fear Factor: Working with an Agent or an Editor Learn from seasoned professionals, Stella Riley, author and acquisition editor, and DiAnn Mills, author of 60 books, as they discuss "Overcoming the Fear Factor" of working an agent or editor. The process is all about teamwork. Learn the ways an agent can enhance your career. Understand the different types of editors and how they work together to make your book a success. Riley and Mills will talk about their experiences—lessons learned and publishing triumphs. Session includes handouts!
Closing Remarks