Special Presentations and Workshops
Thursday, March 19, 11:00 a.m. (Pavilion IV)
"Chemistry is the study of matter. But I prefer to see it as the study of change."
- Walter White, Breaking Bad
In this multi-genre workshop (all writers welcome), we will create characters on the edge of an internal border between their normalcy, whatever that means, and their enchantment with something outside of their expected impulses. What will enchant them? What border must they cross? Many of our favorite stories, films, and poems abound with characters who find their energy by defying the mundane job they hold or the social type they have been assigned. In Albuquerque-infused Breaking Bad, for example, nearly every character holds multiple properties, resulting in a reaction between a surface role and a subtext reality. Gustavo Fring, Breaking Bad drug lord and chicken mogul, sums up the territory of our workshop: "I hide in plain sight, same as you." We will create simple characters with hidden layers and watch as they walk out, against all sense, into the desert night, land of change. In short, we will help them explode from the test tube.
Thursday, March 19, 11:00 a.m. (Pavilion I-II)
In this talk, you will hear what some of your favorite writers have said about imagination and imaginative writing. We will also look at techniques from different genres of non-realistic storytelling, like fairy tales and fantasy. Together, we will apply these ideas in a few brief writing exercises. By the end of this workshop, you should have some concrete tools for dreaming up things that no one has ever seen before, and you should have a head full of ideas for stories and poems. Bring a pen or pencil.
Susan de la Vergne
Thursday, March 19, 11:00 a.m. (Pavilion IV-V)
Ask any hiring manager today to name three abilities they're looking for, and they'll tell you: employees who are (1) capable of critical thinking, (2) ready to understand and navigate human behavior and (3) able to communicate well.
The place to look for just such qualified young professionals is the university English Department. Of course, that might not be the first place most employers think to look, but here's why English has what they want: because English departments specialize in (1) analysis—solving problems through critical thinking, (2) understanding human motivation and (3) literacy.
Find out how those three abilities actually play out in the workplace and why English majors are better prepared for careers in business and leadership than they think they are.
Our eclectic panel of writers (who are also Sigma Tau Delta members and Sponsors) will be discussing the ways they have taken their works from manuscript to publication. They publish in a variety of genres and have traveled a variety of paths on the avenue to publication.
Friday, March 20, 2:00 p.m. (Pavilion III)
Dr. Randy Cross traces his journey from rural Tennessee to universities in South America and Europe where he taught as a Fulbright Scholar. His talks are filled with humor and encouragement for those who wish to live and work abroad.
Panel of NEHS Advisory Council Members:
Sharon Gross, Sickles High School (FL)
John Manear, Seton-LaSalle High School, Pittsburgh (PA)
Stephanie Robertson, Smithville High School (MO)
Dave Wendelin, NEHS Director, Metropolitan State University, Denver (CO)
Friday, March 20, 3:30 p.m. (Pavilion III)
Secondary English Education majors aiming for a career teaching high school English are invited to attend this session. English teachers from high schools across the United States, who are also members of the Advisory Council of National English Honor Society, will discuss the rewards and challenges of teaching English language arts. Perspectives on student teaching will also be shared. Ample time will be provided for audience members to pose questions to the panelists.
Gary Dop, a humorist and performer, writes for the stage, screen, and page, and lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountain, where he is an English professor at Randolph College. Dop's work has appeared on public radio's All Things Considered and in many national journals, such as Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Agni, North American Review, and New Letters. Dop was recently awarded the Great Plains Emerging Writer Prize, and he received a Special Mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology. FATHER, CHILD, WATER is his new collection of poems (Red Hen Press, 2015). He will workshop a new play Memorandum of Understanding at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis.
Micah Dean Hicks is a Calvino Prize-winning author of fabulist fiction. His work has appeared in over 50 venues, including Witness, New Letters, and Indiana Review. His collection of magical stories, Electricity and Other Dreams, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. He is a Ph.D. candidate at Florida State University, where he studies creative writing and fairy tales. Micah read his work as a student member of Sigma Tau Delta for the first time in 2006.
Susan de la Vergne is a tech specialist, professional writer and speaker and expert in leadership and management. She majored in English in college and moved into an IT career. Following a number of successful years in the corporate world, she decided to try her luck as an entrepreneur and founder her own company, Alder Business Services, Inc.
Donna Decker is a writer of creative non-fiction and fiction and a blogger for Ms. Magazine. Her first novel, Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You, Innana Publications, is coming out in March 2015. She is a Professor of English and Department Chair at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.
Katie Niepris graduated from UCLA in June. During her junior year she submitted her novel pitch to The Book Doctors' Pitchapalooza. It received over 1,000 votes and she won a consultation with The Book Doctors' two literary agents. A few months later she completed her New Adult novel. The Inconvenient Process of Falling will be released as an e-book on April 3, 2015 (Creators Publishing).
Sharon Oard Warner is a fiction writer whose newest novel is Sophie's House of Cards, University of New Mexico Press. She is a Professor of English at UNM.
Dr. Cross has published scholarly articles and reviews for professional journals such as American Literature, Resources for American Literary Biography, The Mark Twain Journal, and South Atlantic Review. He has served as a scholar for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and delivered over two hundred programs on Southern Literature and history for Auburn University's Arts and Humanities Center. In 1986 he was named a Fulbright Scholar and taught American literature at the University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and in 1990-91, he taught American literature as a Senior Fulbright Scholar at the University of Lisbon, Portugal. In 2011 Dr. Cross made his television debut when he was interviewed by the History Channel production staff for a program titled, "You Don't Know Dixie." In addition, Dr. Cross is a retired lieutenant colonel from the Tennessee Army National Guard.