HBU Writers' Conference Session Descriptions

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2015 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. 
X-Rays of Our Imaginations: Bad News and Good News for Christian Writers You’ll find evidence of it in Marvel comic book movies. In American Idol. In Houston Rockets basketball games. In the build-up to the next presidential election. In recent Christian movies about Christmas and the Rapture. What do all of these things have in common? The answer is dangerous. It isn’t sex, violence, drugs, or alcohol — but it is addictive. And if poets and storytellers, essayists and artists of all kinds can find the cure for what corrupts our creativity, we can discover an idea that made Jesus’ own parables timeless. Then, by “the renewing of our minds,” we can discover how to imagine works of art that matter and move in mysterious ways.
Playful Playwriting The writer will lead participants through various exercises designed to generate dialogue and micro-plays.  All activities are flexible and can be used to enrich character development, setting, plot and emotion.  Come play with us!
Fiction: The Art of Surprise Many writers of fiction feel the impulse to surprise readers (especially with endings). But not all surprises are created equal. The fact, however, that writers almost universally feel the pull to surprise is hugely significant. First, surprise endings can be done well. Second, when they are, not only are readers delighted but something fundamental about the nature of story itself is revealed. Stories that surprise us well echo the story we're all part of, the Great Story.
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
Ways to Tell Stories Houston Grand Opera and Writers in the Schools team up to present an interactive workshop connecting the craft of writing and storytelling to the art of opera.  Stories connect us.  Telling stories teaches children so much about how the world works.  It provides social experiences, and inspires children to read and write through authentic, engaging activities.  Using literature along with dramatic play and art increases print awareness, oral expression, an understanding of story sequence, and is an important component of literacy.  This workshop is especially useful for teachers and parents of elementary-age children.  
Secrets Your Editor Won’t Tell You Learn the tips and tricks literary editors use to strengthen writing, increase flow, and tighten and polish manuscripts for submission to agents, publishers, or self-publishing outlets.
Memory & the Writer's Art: The Challenges of Writing Memoir Memoir is a genre that's as intriguing to writers as it is compelling to readers - and its popularity can be seen not just in books and articles, but also increasingly in blogs, which make the genre even more accessible. Yet the writing of memoir presents unique challenges: truth-telling with both art and accuracy; understanding purpose and avoiding self-indulgence; and navigating the boundary between the private self and public expression. In this session, Holly Ordway will discuss these and other topics, drawing specifically on her experiences in writing her memoir Not God's Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius Press, 2014).
Through a Screen Darkly: What This “Christian Writer” Learned from Dangerous Moviegoing Reflecting on two decades as a writer and a moviegoer, Jeffrey Overstreet shares some of the lessons he’s learned the hard way. Considering movies as different as The Muppet Movie, Moonrise Kingdom, and the Mockingjay movies, he’ll consider the problems with the existing “Christian” paradigm for what’s good and bad in the arts, and uncover a vision for life-changing encounters in reading, writing, and beyond.
Lunch (UAC Lobby and Coffee Room will stay open)
The Twisting Road Ahead Where are we in contemporary publishing, and how did we get here? Even more importantly, to what exciting possibilities does the future beckon us? A brief tour of recent literary history reveals some of the major changes that have occurred in the world of books over the past three decades, setting the stage for an upbeat vision of how gifted writers and content providers can thrive in the days to come—if they’re willing to flex.
Songwriting Workshop Join award-winning songwriter Jason Harrod in this talk on the process of making songs. 
Poetry and the History of Human Thought  
Realism in Science Fiction: Research Behind the Dream Worlds In the science fiction genre it is critical for writers to do research and to ground their stories in solid science. When writers speculate where things will lead, the results should seem likely. It takes time and strategy to get all the necessary facts and to meld them with the dream of a possible world. 
Tolkien and Lewis: The Road to Narnia and Middle-earth J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis not only created two of the finest fantasy worlds ever conceived but founded a writers group, the Inklings, that helped its members write the kinds of books they wanted to read. This group biography of Tolkien and Lewis will trace the influences that led them to create The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia and to form the Inklings.
30/30: Thirty Years of Writing Lessons in Thirty Minutes A seasoned editor/collaborator with thirty years of professional experience working with a variety of publishers and a host of “Who’s Who” authors highlights what he sees as the top unchanging elements of mediated communication. For the first half hour, Steve will present the key lessons/insights he’s gained throughout his productive career in publishing, and then for the final quarter hour will invite seminar participants to ask whatever’s on their mind in a wide open Q & A session.
Spoken Word Poetry Spoken Word encourages self-expression through creative writing and performance.  Participants in this workshop will explore and express their truths through writing and performing both as individuals and in small groups.
Community and New Media It is sometimes argued that new media is the enemy of thoughtfulness and cultural diversity. Its appetite for quick and free content has transformed public discourse into a “twittering cacophony of one-liners and promotional announcements” (Leon Wieseltier) and spoiled local culture by breaking down regional barriers. But while new media has certainly changed some local cultures and created opportunities for particularly vacuous discourse, it has made other kinds of communities possible and opened some fields for invigorating debate. In this talk, we will look at examples of how new media has nourished both thoughtfulness and local communities, particularly in the area of arts and literature. 
The Challenges and Opportunities of Apologetics Writing Writing is an essential part of apologetics and evangelism - and apologetics writing includes a range of forms, from academic articles to blog posts! This panel of graduate students from HBU's MA in Cultural Apologetics will discuss topics such as understanding one's audience, the different challenges of popular and academic writing, and the experience of doing interdisciplinary writing. 
Musical Performance - with commentary Award-winning singer-songwriter Jason Harrod will perform some of his original work and informally chat over various elements of the songwriting process.