Workshops


The Festival offers well over 100 sessions geared to the diverse interests of readers, all of which are edifying for writers. Among these sessions are a number of craft-based workshops, some of which require pre-registration. See below for details on these workshops and for a sneak peek at other sessions of specific interest to writers at the 2016 Festival.

Thursday Short Story Workshop
Hugh Cook
Thursday, April 14
3:15 pm

Festival-goers registered for this workshop will submit an unpublished short story that will be critiqued and discussed by the instructor and the workshop’s participants. Participants will receive each other’s stories before the Festival in order to prepare.


Hugh Cook earned an MFA from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa and is emeritus professor of English at Redeemer University College. His newest novel
Heron River is set in a small town in southern Ontario.

- Pre-registration is open on a first-come, first-served basis until April 1. SESSION IS FULL 

- Enrollment is limited to nine people.
- Stories (max 4,500 words) must be submitted via email to ffw@calvin.edu as a Word attachment (12-point New Times Roman font, double-spaced format) by April 1.
- This workshop is two hours long, 3:15–5:15 pm.
- A second section of this same workshop will be held Saturday 8–10 am. Please register for only one section.

Making Your Own Small Books at Home: Chapbook Construction for Poets, Essayists, and Short Story Writers
Bob Hudson
Friday, April 15
8:30 am

Learn the art of making your own well-crafted small books at home, with minimal materials and minimal expense. Discover the joy of being able to share your writing without depending on traditional publishers. All materials will be provided, and everyone will help make their own copy of a chapbook called Making a Poetry Chapbook.

Bob Hudson has been an editor for Zondervan/HarperCollins for 30 years and has been making chapbooks for 20 years longer than that. He and his wife, Shelley, own the Perkipery Press, a Michigan-based chapbook publisher that has issued dozens of volumes in the last 30 years. Bob is the author of 3 books and many, many chapbooks.


- Pre-registration is open on a first-come, first-served basis until the workshop is full.
SESSION IS FULL
- Enrollment is limited to 25 people.

Telling It Slant: How to Develop an Angle for Your Book that Editors Will Love
Stephanie S. Smith
Friday, April 15
8:30 am

If content is king, then angle is queen. The angle is the signature of great writing, providing a fresh frame for timeless truth beyond overdone, underdeveloped, dime-a-dozen concepts. In this workshop, Stephanie S. Smith, an acquiring editor for Zondervan, goes beyond the mechanics of creating a book proposal, to focus on the heart of the proposal itself. She explains how to find and hone an angle that will make for a great book and catch an editor or agent’s interest.

Stephanie S. Smith is associate acquisitions editor for the non-fiction editorial team at Zondervan. She worked previously as an editor at Barna Group and at Relevant Media Group.

- No pre-registration required.

Developing Story Ideas for the Screen
Paul Harrill
Friday, April 15
11:30 am

This workshop designed to help fiction writers develop story ideas for the screen.

Paul Harrill is a filmmaker whose debut film, Something, Anything, was named a Critic’s Pick by the New York Times. He is the co-founder of Self-Reliant Film and teaches screenwriting in the School of Art at the University of Tennessee.


- Pre-registration is open on a first-come, first-served basis until the workshop is full.

- Enrollment is limited to 25 people.  


Saturday Short Story Workshop
Hugh Cook
Saturday, April 16
8 am

Festival-goers registered for this workshop will submit an unpublished short story that will be critiqued and discussed by the instructor and the workshop’s participants. Participants will receive each other’s stories before the Festival in order to prepare.

Hugh Cook earned an MFA from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa and is emeritus professor of English at Redeemer University College. His newest novel
Heron River is set in a small town in southern Ontario.

- Pre-registration is open on a first-come, first-served basis until April 1. SESSION IS FULL 
- Enrollment is limited to nine people.
- Stories (max 4,500 words) must be submitted via email to ffw@calvin.edu as a Word attachment (12-point New Times Roman font, double-spaced format) by April 1.
- This workshop is two hours long,  8–10 am.
- A second section of this same workshop will be held Thursday 3:15–5:15 pm. Please register for only one section.


Writing Whole: Making Peace with the True You
Tracey Bianchi, Lesa Engelthaler, Erin Lane, Grace Sandra
Saturday, April 16
8:30 am

People of faith believe that God designed us to have a unique voice, passion, and purpose. How does the creative process honor God by uncovering our “true you”? And how does ego, doubt, compulsivity and anxiety get in the way of continuing to write from this deep, soul-filled place? Guided by the wisdom of writers including Adele Calhoun, Parker Palmer, and Richard Rohr, this workshop explores these questions and includes a True You writing exercise.

Tracey Bianchi is the worship and teaching pastor at Christ Church of Oak Brook. She is the author of three books, including her latest,
True You: Overcoming Self-Doubt and Finding Your Voice, co-authored with Adele Calhoun. Lesa Engelthaler is a writer for publications including The Dallas Morning News and Christianity Today. Erin S. Lane is the author of Lessons in Belonging From a Church-Going Commitment Phobe. Grace Sandra is author of Converge Bible Study: Kingdom Building and a contributor to Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith.

- No pre-registration required.


The Body Electric: Creating Characters that Spark with Life
Katherine Jacobs
Saturday, April 16
8:30 am

The characters we most enjoy reading about are ones that have rich inner lives, clear motivations, and problems that drive the plot. Look at examples of electric characters in children’s and young adult literature and analyze why they work. Learn concrete ways to make characters in your own writing more dynamic. We will specifically consider Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu as a case study, so be sure to read that book in preparation (or be ready for spoilers!).

Katherine Jacobs is an editor at Roaring Brook Press and a graduate of both Calvin College and the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College. Before working in publishing she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania and a school librarian in Honduras.


- No pre-registration required.

 

SNEAK PEEK
Here’s a sampling of some of the other Festival 2016 sessions writers will want to check out (times and locations will be released with the final program in the coming weeks):


‘Riting, Reading, and ‘Rithmetic: Realities Prospective Authors Should Know
Jennifer Grant, Robert Hosack, Justin Paul Lawrence
In this interactive session, three industry veterans offer their insights into the non-fiction book publishing process from the vantage points of a writer reflecting on all that it takes to conceive and craft a book; a reader, an acquisitions editor asking questions about form, fit, and finances; and a salesperson evaluating if, where, and how books can actually be sold.

Blogging or Blathering: The Current State of Personal Online Writing
Katelyn Beaty, Amy Julia Becker, Leslie Leyland Fields, Sandra Vander Zicht
Amid much media attention, some high-profile bloggers, including one of founders of the genre, have recently called it quits, beginning a trend away from blogging. Is there still a legitimate place or need for blogging in a writer’s life, or are the critics and quitters right? An ex-blogger, a current blogger, a publisher, and a magazine editor weigh in on the present challenges​, limits, and value ​of blogging.

Why and How Authors Are Publishing Independently
Ed Cyzewski, Kris Camealy, Andi Cumbo-Floyd, Jana Riess, Shawn Smucker
Opportunities abound for independent authors who want to take control of their publishing careers, but independent publishing isn’t just for authors who don’t have a traditional book deal. Traditional authors are adding independent eBook projects in order to build their email lists, to earn an additional side income, or to establish a more sustainable long-term career. A panel of traditional and independent authors will discuss the most effective tools and strategies they have used in order to create, publish, and promote professional, high quality books on their own.

The Art and Wonder of Writing for Children and Teens
Annette Bourland, Glenys Nellist, Lori Langdon
Have you ever wanted to write a children’s picture book? Has YA fiction captured your imagination and writing zeal? It takes a special kind of writer to create stories (and intrigue!) for children and young adults. Writing for them requires not only a degree of child-brain and kid-memory, but a certain skill set and calling. In our time together, Zondervan publisher, Annette Bourland, will introduce two dynamic writers. Glenys Nellist will share how she made her picture-book writing dream a reality, and then best-selling author Lorie Langdon will share how dynamic marketing goes hand-in-hand with great content.

Hard Realities, Continual Rejection, and Occasional Disasters: A Publishing Journey
Alison Hodgson, The Real Pug Oliver
Alison Hodgson arrived at her first writer’s conference filled with hope. Yet that was quickly crushed upon learning the harsh realities of publishing, beginning with: a platform isn’t merely a stage. After wasting a few years fighting despair, things began to look up until an arsonist randomly set her house on fire.  But the great thing about being a writer is that even your worst times can become your best story. Hear Alison’s experience of becoming an author, learn insider tips, and meet The Real Pug Oliver who became an essential part of Alison’s story!

The Memoirist’s Lament: Living with What you Publish
Carla Barnhill, Jennifer Grant, Margot Starbuck, Caryn Rivadeneira
What are the tricky bits seasoned authors have faced both in writing memoir and also living with it once it’s “out there.” Join memoirists as they unpack the passages closest to their hearts and also the ones that they’d now choose to change. Drawing from their own favorite memoirs, the authors help writers navigate the most difficult edges in writing about those closest to us.

In Praise of Indolence: Seasons of Discipline and Grace in the Writing Life
Brian G. Phipps
If you’re discouraged because you just can’t seem to discipline yourself to write when you don’t feel like it, take heart. You can have a rich writing life without being prolific. For many writers, creativity is seasonal. Because we experience times when we don’t feel like writing, as well as times when we do, grace plays just as important a role as discipline in our productivity and perseverance as writers. If you don’t feel like writing, it’s okay. Don’t write. But be ruthless about writing when you do feel like it. This presentation suggests ways to make the most of your productive seasons.

How to be a Good Literary Citizen
Denise Frame Harlan, Caroline Langston, Hannah Faith Notess, Laura Turner
Increasingly, writers are expected not just to write well and not just to find and build an audience for their own work, but also to participate in a literary conversation, promoting others' works. This raises interesting questions, including ethical questions: What if a literary organization you love asks you to blog for them for no pay? Is it cheapening your work, or is it a way of supporting something you love? This topic is relevant to both beginning writers wondering how to build an audience for their writing, and established writers who may have many opportunities but limited time.

What Online Editors Want: Crafting Your Best Pitch
Sarah Pulliam Bailey,  Karen Swallow Prior, Kate Shellnutt
Today’s editors are inundated with queries, questions, and press releases. How can writers break through the inbox noise and actually get noticed? In this session, panelists share industry do’s and don’ts for constructing the kind of well-timed, well-crafted pitch that can launch a writer’s work onto a national platform online.

Creative Cross Training: Practical and Spiritual Practices to Integrate Writing into Busy Lives
Angela Doll Carlson, Denise Frame Harlan, Jonathan Hiskes, Chris Hoke, Caroline Langston
For the majority of us who have work, family, church, and community responsibilities, it’s a challenge to balance life’s demands with the open-ended contemplative space that art requires. Relatedly, writers of faith are called to assess what creative success looks like in our lives. This panel will discuss concrete ways to integrate writing into life, including using day jobs as cross-training that conditions our minds and hearts for creative uses. And it will contextualize these ideas within the a conversation about what constitutes success.

The Loud and the Quiet: Writing in the Age of Social Media
Sarah Bessey, Christie Purifoy, Preston Yancey, and Addie Zierman
If, as Kafka once said, “writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself,” then the Internet—with its lightning-fast news cycles and dashed-off status updates—sets itself in opposition to that quiet, deep work. And yet, writers are often expected to have an engaging online presence. How do we make the necessary space to delve deeply into our art while still maintaining a platform? This session explores the intersection between the quiet writing life and loud online spaces and suggests how we might live and write well in the tension.

Thriving as a Writer in College and Beyond
Jack van Allsburg, Josh deLacy, Will Montei, Abby Zwart
Growing as a writer during and after the college years means more than taking a few creative writing courses. It means living and working in a larger ecosystem of writers, challenging oneself, and supporting one’s peers. After graduation, the challenges increase. How do you set tasks, meet deadlines, and find an audience once you’ve left a supportive college community? In this session, three recent grads and a college senior explore best practices for a healthy writing life as students and beyond. They describe what they learned editing a student newspaper, editing a student literary journal, and founding The Post Calvin, a successful blog for young alums, now in its third year.