Like many writers, I have a day job in addition to writing books. Happily, mine happens to have a lot of writing synergy: I’m the editor of Nimrod International Journal at The University of Tulsa. Nimrod publishes two issues of short fiction and poetry a year and has been around since 1956. (The journal, not me. I’ve only been with it since 1999. Which is still nearly a third of my life. Which is a little scary.) Aside from publishing the journal, we do several writing/reading related programs throughout the year. The biggest one is our Conference for Readers and Writers, and it’s coming up on October 25th.
The Conference is a day-long writing workshop, and it’s really fun. Especially since we now bring in fantasy and science fiction authors in addition to our poets and literary fiction authors. (Basically, I go through my shelves each year and decide which author I love that I would like to meet. Being the boss has some perks.) I’ve had a fantastic time getting to meet and learn from authors such as Peter S. Beagle, Kelly Link, Patricia C. Wrede, Sharon Shinn, Rosemary Clement-Moore, and Gail Carriger. Seriously, getting to hang out with Peter Beagle was amazing. And I only teared up a little when he signed my copy of The Last Unicorn.
This year, I’m really excited because Malinda Lo will be joining us. I discovered Malinda through her first book, Ash, which is a retelling of Cinderella with a lesbian romance. It reminded me of Robin McKinley—a high bit of praise from me—and yet was also all its own. Her three books since (Huntress, Adaptation, and Inheritance) have also been awesome, and she writes some of the most interesting and thought-provoking blog posts in YA lit. She’s also the co-founder of Diversity in YA with author Cindy Pon, and if you don’t follow them on Tumblr and elsewhere, go do it now. I’m stoked to meet her, and I’m totally planning on sneaking into her class, which is going to be on the Five Foundations of Fantasy Worldbuilding, for as long as I can. (Which is sometimes not that long, because I’m the one who deals with All The Things at the conference. But still: EXCITED!!!!)
The conference is open to the public, so if you’re in the area of Tulsa, OK, you should attend. (And by “the area,” I mean any drivable distance. We have folks come in from several states, and they assure me the drive is worth it.) It’s a busy day, but a relaxed one, and a warm and welcoming environment. We have writers of all age levels and experience levels. I’m especially proud of this, because it makes it a good place for young writers who haven’t ventured out to conferences or conventions before to get their publishing world feet wet.
We start out the day with two panel discussions. I moderate one—a Q&A session where the audience gets to ask our panelists any questions they have about publishing or editing. This will be the third or fourth year I’ve moderated it (I was super nervous the first year, but I think I’ve hit my stride by now). Then we’ll have group classes about writing fiction, poetry, memoir, and performance of literature, in addition to YA fantasy. We’ll also have a class on paths to publication, including agents, small presses, and self-publishing. And you can submit your work and sign up to have a critique session with one of the editors of the journal. Plus readings and book signings and lunch and snacks and getting to hang out with awesome authors. I ask you: How can you go wrong?
The conference price is $50, but we also have scholarships available that lower the cost to $10. Anyone can apply for a scholarship, though we especially recommend them for students and teachers.
So that’s what I’ll be doing on October 25th. (And it’s why I’ve been kind of quiet on my social media the last month or so—organizing a conference like this is tiring!) I hope I’ll see you there!