2022 Writers Conference Schedule and Session Descriptions

Saturday, April 30, 2022 (all sessions are Central Time Zone)



10:00–11:00a CT Fred Dings Opening Keynote
Acclaimed poet Fred Dings will give an overview of his writing journey including poems that inspired him, techniques he uses in composition, advice from writers who mentored him, and his thoughts on the current state of creative writing. Dings will also read poems from his current collection: The Four Rings: New and Selected Poems.
11:00–12:00p CT Breakout Sessions
Crystal Byers
Modeling the Masters: Finding your Voice
In this session, we will analyze and discuss author’s craft, using mentor texts as inspiration for writing with an eye toward characterization, setting, and artistry.
Fred Dings
Poetry Reading & Discussion
Fred Dings will read a selection of his poems from his three collections, The Four Rings: New & Selected Poems, Eulogy for a Private Man, After the Solstice, and two chapbooks, Vespers and The Bruised Sky. His work has appeared in the New Republic, the New Yorker, the Paris Review, Poetry magazine, TriQuarterly, World Literature Today, and many other periodicals. Dings currently teaches at the University of South Carolina. There will be time for questions and answers.
Chris Masi
Breaking Into Television Writing
Chris Masi is a TV writer who has written on the shows “White Collar” and “Graceland” on USA, “Being Mary Jane” on BET, Lee Daniels’ “Star” on FOX, the upcoming reboot of “Step Up” on STARZ, and the upcoming show “Our Kind of People” on Fox. Masi is an alumnus of the NBC Writers on the Verge Program as well as the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Internship Program where he worked on “NCIS” on CBS. He worked his way into the industry by becoming a writer’s PA/assistant on “White Collar” after meeting the show-runner on Twitter.
Kionna LeMalle
Writers in the Schools — Step into a WITS Experience
Have you ever thought of joining the WITS team or inviting a WITS writer into your classroom? In this interactive session, Kionna Walker LeMalle will immerse you in a WITS classroom experience. Sit back in the student’s seat, feel the creative energy of the shared space, participate in the process of creating a safe writing dynamic, and then let it all out on the page. A short Q & A will follow your experience.
12:00–1:00p CT HCU Faculty Lunch Break
Optional MFA Creative Writing & Screenwriting Info Session
12:00-12:30p — Join our MFA faculty in a brief introduction to the 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
Now You Know It All About Short Stories
Joanna Pearson will read an excerpt from a story in her newest story collection, Now You Know It All. Discussion and questions will follow, with an opportunity for participants to discuss both the art of the short story in general, but also specific questions regarding how to approach publishing individual short stories or assembling a story collection.
Van G. Garrett
Poetry and Passion: Heartwarming Ideas for Poems and Picture Books
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 and picture books. Informative and informal, this presentation will allow writers and artists to learn in supportive, productive, and engaging ways.
Jeffrey Overstreet
Animated Enchantment and Real-World Horror:
Finding a Holy Focus in Two Movies About “The Chosen One”

Zooming in on two movies—The Secret of Kells, a 2009 animated fantasy by the Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, and The Fits, a 2015 psychological thriller by talented newcomer Anna Rose Holmer—novelist and film critic Jeffrey Overstreet discovers surprising correlations between them. Take a deep dive into their mysteries, their soundscapes, their astonishing visual beauty, and the profound questions raised by their suspenseful narratives. Both films, Overstreet argues, give vocabularies for understanding our own challenges, and maps for navigating the challenges presently posed to us in an increasingly polarizing political context. Is God speaking through cartoons and horror movies? Is there a prophetic influence at work? If so, what is God revealing? And how might we respond to that summons?
Matthew Boyleston
Fearless Writers: Catholic Literary Arts’ Lesson Plan Initiative
Matthew Boyleston will demonstrate creative writing lessons developed for Catholic Literary Arts’ Fearless Writers Lesson Plan Initiative. Fearless Writers is an educator-created resource of lesson plans to give parents and teachers the tools they need to assist students in grades 3-12 to build creative writing skills. With decades of teaching experience in elementary, middle school, high school, college, and with special populations, Catholic Literary Arts brings the best of what we’ve learned about teaching creative writing. Self-paced lessons are arranged by grade level and span four genres: poetry, fiction, sacred writing, and personal essay. All lessons feature wholesome writing prompts, exercises, models for assessment, and discussion questions.
2:00–3:00p CT Breakout Sessions
Forrest Anderson
This Will Only Take a Minute: Writing Flash Fiction
Forrest Anderson’s 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.
Tamara Nicholl-Smith
Poetry and the Creative Process
In this session, poet, performer, and workshop leader Tamara Nicholl-Smith will alternate between reading a selection of her poetry and discussing the poetic creative process. Her discussion will focus on a variety of approaches, mindsets, and tools. From thoughts on what makes a good prompt, to ways poets can collaborate (with each other as well as musicians and artists), to ideas on how to create the safety to experiment. This session is aimed at writers, instructors, and appreciators of poetry alike.
Wendy Faraone
A Career in Television and Film Directing
Wendy Faraone is a dynamic director in film and television. She started out in the industry as an on set acting coach and worked on nearly 300 episodes of television, before being asked to direct for Disney Channel. After a successful first episode, the network had her pilot a program for women directors. Wendy’s true passion is in film and single camera work, and after directing a holiday short set in Scotland, she was asked to direct a holiday feature film set in The Highlands titled, Saving Christmas Spirit. Wendy finished production in 2021 and is excited to share this film with the masses in 2022. Wendy is also contracted to direct an action packed feature film titled, The Aviatrix. The film is based on female pilots during World War II and will go into production in 2022.
Terry Miller
A Workshop in Poetry
In this  workshop, Terry Miller will read poems from his book, The Drawn Cat’s Dream. Students will also take a close look at Lisa Bellamy’s Pushcart Prize-winning poem, Wild Pansy, 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner Frank Bidart’s poem, Half-light, and the poem, |P|L|E|A|S| by 2018 National Book Award for Poetry winner, Justin Phillip Reed. The rest of the workshop will be generative and students will write and share poems in consideration of the discussion of the prize winning poems reviewed during this session.
3:15–4:15p CT Scott Cairns & Bret Lott Closing Conversation
Novelist Bret Lott, author of 14 books including Oprah Book Club selection Jewel and Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian and poet Scott Cairns, author of eight books of poetry, including The Theology of Doubt, The Translation of Babel, Philokalia, Idiot Psalms, and Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems will engage in a spirited discussion about the subject of writing as a vocation.