Ministry of Writing Colloquium 2010 with Carrie Newcomer

The Ministry of Writing: An Annual Colloquium (Oct. 15, 16, 2010)

The colloquium will be held in the ESR Center at the northeast corner of the Earlham Campus. To register, print and fill out the registration form and mail it with payment to: Writing Colloquium 2008, Mandy Ford, Earlham School of Religion, 228 College Avenue, Richmond, IN 47374. For information about travel see the ESR Contact Us page. (Brochure PDF)

Keynote Speaker: Carrie Newcomer

Carrie Newcomer

Considered a definitive voice of the Heartland, Carrie Newcomer is one of a relatively few well-known singer/songwriters working with spiritual themes. Newcomer, a Quaker and Indiana native, says, "I have a real fascination with the mystery, with the questions that have no answers." She writes and sings of the small joys and pains in life, of beauty discovered in the midst of the ordinary, of life experienced in the spaces between darkness and light—all with a measure of good humor and self awareness. For her, "songwriting is not about being clever, flashy or fancy; it is about telling a compelling story in language and music with elegance and clarity."

Newcomer's musical storytelling has led to twelve solo albums (all with Philo/Rounder), including Before and After (2010), The Geography of Light (2008), Betty's Diner: The Best of Carrie Newcomer (2004), and The Gathering of Spirits (2002). Her work has been praised in such varied publications as Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Acoustic Guitar, Performing Songwriter, and Paste Magazine, among others. She has worked with many notable artists, including Alison Krauss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Krista Detor, Tim Grimm, Tom Roznowski, Michael White, folk legends Holly Near and Bernice Johnson Reagon, and writers Parker Palmer, Scott Sanders, Brent Bill, and Phil Gulley.

Carrie's keynote address is "Spirituality and the Arts," which will focus on the writing process and developing a unique voice and vision. She will also be joining the Friday "Evening with the Presenters."


Friday, October 15

6:30 p.m.


7:00 p.m.

An Evening with the Presenters: Session Leaders Read from Their Works

Saturday, October 16

8:15 a.m.

Registration/Continental Breakfast

9:00 a.m.


9:30 a.m.

Keynote Address by Carrie Newcomer: Spirituality and the Arts

10:30 a.m.


10:45 a.m.

Workshop Session One (choose one)


Enlarging the One Way Conversation, Brent Bill


Author/Editor Meetings (proposal submission required), Lil Copan


Getting to "Yes" with a Publisher, Shirley Dodson


The Silence between Notes, Norman Minnick


Writing True: The Soul's Creative Work, Vinita Hampton Wright


Writing It Slant: The Ministry of Storytelling, Susan Yanos

12:15 p.m.


1:30 p.m.

Workshop Session Two (choose one)


Enlarging the One Way Conversation, Brent Bill


Author/Editor Meetings (proposal submission required), Lil Copan


Getting to "Yes" with a Publisher, Shirley Dodson


The Silence between Notes, Norman Minnick


Writing True: The Soul's Creative Work, Vinita Hampton Wright


Writing It Slant: The Ministry of Storytelling, Susan Yanos

2:45 p.m.


3:00 p.m.

Closing Gathering


Announcement of Mullen Writing Fellowship


Autograph Party and Refreshments

6:30 p.m.

Coffee House/Open Mic


Brent Bill

Brent Bill

Enlarging the One Way Conversation: Ways of Connecting with Your Reader

Although every writer writes first for her- or himself, before we think of taking our work public we must always ask "Who else should read this?" and "How do I engage them?" This workshop will explore the ways we decide who our intended audience is and how best to connect with our readers—choosing tone, shaping the topic, organizing the material, and so on. This workshop is primarily for writers of non-fiction, whether the topic is religious or general in nature.

Brent Bill is the author of seventeen books and a contributor to six others, including the forthcoming Awakening Your Senses: Exercises to Experience the Wonder of God (InterVarsity Press), co-written with Beth Booram. He has published more than 100 magazine articles. A Friends minister, Brent is also a retreat leader and photographer.

Lil Copan

Lil Copan – Author/Editor Meetings

For serious writers who wish to meet with an editor one-on-one to talk about a specific book idea, sign up for a 20-minute meeting. In order to prepare for these meetings, each writer should submit a full proposal—including overview/purpose/audience/title comparison/bio/marketing strategies/table of contents—and at least a 10-page sample text by September 27. Mail the proposal to Susan Yanos, Earlham School of Religion, 228 College Avenue, Richmond, IN 47374; mark the envelope Attn: Lil Copan. Late submissions cannot be accepted. (To see an example of a full proposal, download Brent Bill's proposal for his book, Sacramental Silence.)

Lil Copan is senior editor with Paraclete Press. Previously, she worked as literary series editor with Shaw Publishers, followed by a short time with the small literary/arts press David R. Godine. Among the writers she has worked with are Frederica Mathewes-Green, Lauren F. Winner, Robert Benson, and Madeleine L'Engle. She lives in Boston and writes an arts column for Christian Century magazine.

Shirley Dodson

Shirley Dodson – Getting to "Yes" with a Publisher

What can authors do—and what should they not do—as they write with the hope of being published? For instance, Pendle Hill, which publishes five new pamphlets each year in a series that now includes more than 400 titles, uses a selection process which includes preliminary staff review with the final decision regarding publication made by a Quaker committee. What are the selection criteria? How does the decision making process work, and how is it "Quaker"? This workshop is designed to be useful to both Quakers and those from other faiths.

Shirley Dodson serves as Director of Communications at Pendle Hill with responsibility for Pendle Hill publications and marketing. A 1981 graduate of the Earlham School of Religion, she was privileged to have Tom Mullen as her faculty advisor. She is a member of Middletown Monthly Meeting in Lima (PA), Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

Norman Minnick

Norman Minnick – The Silence between Notes: Where Inspiration Comes in.

Musicians tell us that the space between the notes is equally important as the notes themselves. In this workshop we will take a pre-traditional look at poetry to see how it uses silence to inform the words and how we can pay attention to the silence so that inspiration comes to us both in our reading and writing of poetry. We will read and discuss a few poems and will do a writing exercise that will generate a spark or two.

Norman Minnick holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University where he received the Academy of American Poets Award in 2001. Minnick's poems have appeared in many journals, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Review, The Seattle Review, Chelsea, Isotope, Zone 3 and the Texas Observer, as well as the anthology Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry. His collection of poems, To Taste the Water (Mid-List Press, 2007) won the First Series Award. He is the editor of Between Water and Song: New Poets for the Twenty-First Century (White Pine Press, 2009). He lives near Indianapolis.

Vinita Hampton Wright

Vinita Hampton Wright – Writing True: The Soul's Creative Work

How do we overcome the layers of fog and resistance to write what we know to be true—and to write it vividly and with courage? What does creative work have to do with the spiritual journey? And what can we do to tap the wisdom and story that the Divine has been developing in us all along? Through writing exercises, discussion, and guided meditation, Vinita will bring you to a place where you are freer to do the work for which you are gifted.

Vinita Hampton Wright has been writing novels and nonfiction spirituality books for more than a decade. Her workshop, from which grew the book, The Soul Tells a Story, has enriched various groups around the country. A senior editor at Loyola Press in Chicago, she continues to help professional writers as well as retreatants and workshop attendants get in touch with the heart of their creativity. Her most recent novel, Dwelling Places, won the Christianity Today award for Best Fiction of 2007. Her latest nonfiction is Days of Deepening Friendship: For the Woman Who Wants Authentic Life with God. In addition to her personal blog, Wisdom Tree Vinita provides an ongoing experience of retreat and reflection on the Loyola Press blog.


Susan Yanos – Telling It Slant: The Ministry of Storytelling

"Tell all the truth but tell it slant," advises Emily Dickinson. Whether fictional or non-fictional, stories are ways to tell the truth slant, therefore powerfully engaging their readers. As a result, stories have tremendous potential for ministry. But does a writer with such an aim approach the material, the craft, or the writing process differently than any other writer? In this workshop, we will explore this question, examining the power—and limitations—of storytelling as a form of ministry for both the writer and the reader.

Susan Yanos is the director of the Mullen Ministry of Writing Program at Earlham School of Religion. Besides teaching writing and literature classes, she has conducted writing workshops, made presentations on Scripture and spirituality, and directed women's retreats. She is the author of Woman, You Are Free (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2001), as well as several short stories and essays , and was a winner in the Catholic Press Association's first time author category. She holds degrees in biology, literature, and pastoral theology.

Event Date: 10/15/2010 (All day)- 10/16/2010 (All day)