Aspiring writers of all kinds will have the opportunity to come together on the AU campus to learn from accomplished authors and poets at the end of October. The annual Indiana Faith and Writing Conference will feature a wide array of writing professionals willing to share their advice and feedback with anyone passionate about communicating their faith through their writing.
AU has been home to the Indiana Faith and Writing Conference since 2014. The conference is hosted by the English Department and directed by English professor Elizabeth Ranfeld, who works year-round to organize it. The conference welcomes writers from many different faith and culture backgrounds who want to incorporate their faith in God into their writing.
“I attend a lot of writing conferences, but the Faith and Writing Conference is special,” said Professor Ranfeld. “It has a focus on teaching and helping writers strengthen their craft. It doesn’t matter whether they want to write memoirs, books, essays or poems—we want to help people become really good writers, no matter what track they want to take.”
Several workshops focusing on a variety of genres and aspects of writing will be offered during the conference, including those targeted toward nonfiction and fiction writers, poets, screenwriters and writers hoping to build their social media presence. The workshops will be led by professional writers of all genres, including AU English Professors Cara Miller and Deborah Miller-Fox.
Professor Miller and Professor Miller-Fox will also be among those offering one-one-one consultations with those attending the conference. Those who sign up for one-on-one consultations will receive personalized feedback on their work from a professional writer of their choice.
New to this year’s conference is also a vendor fair featuring small businesses, book sellers and publishers from whom conference attendees can purchase books and gain information about getting their works published. The vendor fair will be held in Reardon Auditorium lobby during the conference.
Four featured speakers will also be giving presentations this year concerning how they as successful authors and poets, incorporate faith into their writing. Presenters include Addie Zierman, author of Publisher Weekly-recognized When We Were on Fire and Frank X. Walker, a multidisciplinary artist, award-winning poet and coiner of the term “Affrilachia,” a word referencing the African-American presence in Appalachia. Also presenting will be Susanna Childress, whose poetry was selected for The Best American Poetry series of 2015, and Alex Marestaing, author of a variety of YA novels including I’m Nobody and, upcoming, Fifteen Seconds of Normal.
Marestaing, who lives in California and enjoys attending and speaking at writing conferences, came across the Indiana Faith and Writing Conference online last year. After speaking at the 2015 conference, he was invited to return and give the closing address during the 2016 conference at the end of this month.
“[The Indiana Faith and Writing Conference] was my favorite conference last year,” said Marestaing. “It’s such a well-done conference, with a mix of energies from people of different backgrounds and ages. There are so many great speakers—all of the same faith, but coming from different backgrounds.”
Marestaing will be speaking on the ways in which Christian writers can make a larger impact on audiences and make their faith-based writing appealing to a wide variety of readers, even in the mainstream market.
“One of the common rejections that writers get is ‘the voice isn’t strong enough’—that unique quality that makes it relevant,” said Marestaing. “I want to call young writers and college aged students to step up to the plate and use their voices in their writing, as well as inside and outside the church. How can we as Christians make our voices stronger and become relevant again in a book market that has become increasingly dark?”
Anyone across all majors who is interested in learning and growing as a writer of faith is welcome to attend the Faith and Writing Conference, which will be held Oct. 28 and 29 in Reardon Auditorium beginning at 11 a.m. that Friday. Registration for the conference is $145 and just $100 for all AU faculty, staff and students. AU students who volunteer to help during or before the conference can attend for free. Students who are interested in volunteering can contact Professor Elizabeth Ranfeld. Regular registration is offered in advance online at the AU website or at the door on Oct. 28.