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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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'More Than Writing' conference planned by students

Panel discussions, readings, book fair April 22, 23

Creative writing students stage free, two-day writers' conference.

By Jane Laskey, Free Press Correspondent [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 4/14/2011]

Faced with a bumper crop of more than 30 students in his Research and Publication in Creative Writing class, Professor Roger Sheffer decided to make some literary hay.

Sheffer, a creative writing professor at Minnesota State Mankato, challenged the class to stage their own writing conference. Each student had to contribute in some way. They dug in with a will: planning, marketing and staging the event. They worked together to recruit panelists, vendors and authors willing to donate their time to the conference.

The result of their efforts is the “More Than Writing Conference,” to be held Friday and Saturday, April 22-23, in Centennial Student Union. The conference, free and open to the public, will include panel discussions, readings and a book fair featuring local and regional writers.

Nicole HelgetFriday evening will culminate with a reading by keynote speaker Nicole Helget. Helget, a Minnesota State Mankato creative writing alumna, is the author of two critically acclaimed books, “The Summer of Ordinary Ways” and “The Turtle Catcher.”

Co-organizer and program chair Angie Mullen assumed a leadership role on the project along with fellow students Kasey Pfab and Carey Feagan.

The event includes 18 different panels and 32 panelists discussing topics beyond writing -- filmmaking, book art, genre writing.

Participants can choose between discussions on teaching techniques, manuscript submissions, exploring genre writing or self-publishing. There are panels on creating a writer’s group, writing the perfect first page and creating book art.

Throughout the day, attendees can browse through the conference book fair, which will include booths of more than 25 exhibitors. There will be a variety of authors, small presses and self-publishing vendors on hand, as well as a used book sale which will benefit graduate students.

One of the unique features of the conference is a chapbook exchange. Chapbooks are small books or pamphlets containing poetry or short stories -- usually limited editions.

To facilitate conversations, networking and support, the students have allocated a half hour between each conference session to allow writers to mingle, renew acquaintances and build new connections.

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