Smile Politely

Registration now open for EIU Lions in Winter literary festival

From a press release:

Registration is now open for those who wish to participate in craft talks with emerging authors and chat with literary magazine editors during Lions in Winter, an annual literary festival held on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. The two-day festival, scheduled for Jan. 30-31, 2015, will feature readings by visiting authors, craft talks, an editor’s panel, a book fair and more.

Lions in Winter 2015 will kick off Friday, Jan. 30 at 4 p.m. in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall with an interdisciplinary panel discussion on fiction writer Stephen Graham Jones, the author of ten novels, two collections, one novella and countless short stories.

“Stephen Graham Jones’s chilling and innovative work gives voice to the ghosts and Others the world has forgotten or wants to forget,” said Ruben Quesada, Lions in Winter co-organizer. “There is also an unexpected sweetness to his work that reminds us to have hope in a world that can often be horrific. Jones’ writing invites us to see our lives in all its beautiful and ghastly complexities.”

Following the discussion, Jones will provide the keynote reading at 7 p.m., also in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall. Both events are free and open to the public.

Registration is required for a portion of the festival events on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015. The cost for general admission is $40 per person prior to Jan. 30, 2015, and includes continental breakfast and lunch in addition to craft talks scheduled throughout the day and an afternoon editor’s panel. High school and college students and EIU faculty may register and attend for free, or pay $10 to add lunch. Registration can be completed at Onsite general admission the day of the event is $50.

The editor’s panel will feature representatives from Luna Luna, Bluestem, Hobart, Cossack Review, and Quiddity. Jones, along with visiting authors Natalie Diaz, Edward Kelsey Moore, Julija Šukys and Jessica Young, will lead craft talks on writing in their respective genre.

Jones will present “I Was a Teenage Infodumper,” in which “delivering exposition will be the name of the game,” he said. “And the way to win that game, it’s by not infodumping in order to build your world. Readers do appreciate that you have the sociopolitical history of this place all charted out, or that you know who was and wasn’t at your protagonist’s 12th birthday party, but they don’t appreciate you assuming that’s vital enough information that it can just be dropped anywhere.”

Diaz, will talk about the “The Art of the Image Explosive Device” and participants will “learn to break what we think we know about an image in order to find what it really means to us as we sift through its pieces,” she said. Diaz is a poet and the author of “When My Brother Was an Aztec,” which earned her a reputation for using provocative imagery to explore both intimate and communal concerns regarding a brother’s meth addiction, Charlotte Pence, Lions in Winter co-organizer, said.

“Creating Unforgettable Characters” will be the topic for Moore, who is a fiction writer. His talk will answer questions such as, “What can we do to make the characters we visualize become real for the reader?” Moore is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat.” His essays and short fiction have appeared in the New York Times and a number of literary magazines.

Šukys, a multilingual writer of creative nonfiction who utilizes archival material, interviews, and personal experience to explore challenging and important topics, will present “Fragment by Fragment: On Writing and Archives.” Her book, “Epistolophilia,” draws on thousands of archival documents – primarily letters and diaries – many of which recount not the heroic story at the center of the book, but on the minutiae of everyday life – cats, debts, aches and pains, reading, and cooking, Pence said.

In her presentation “Writing and Publishing Books for Young Readers,” Young, Lions in Winter’s first visiting children’s author, will discuss writing and publishing books for young readers, with a focus on picture books and chapter books. Topics will include writing for different age levels, characteristics of picture books and chapter books, paths to publication, and resources. She is the author of the award-winning picture book “My Blue is Happy,” which encourages children to see the world in their own unique way and to have the confidence to voice their own preferences.

Young will also host a story time for children on Saturday, Jan. 31 at 10 a.m. at Booth Library. The free event for families is a welcomed new addition to Lions in Winter, Pence said.

Private manuscript consultations are also new to this year’s festival. Aspiring writers who would like feedback on their poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or children’s book will have the opportunity to have their work critiqued by published writers. The deadline to request a consultation is Jan. 23, 2015, and can be completed through the Lions in Winter website. An additional $50 fee is required for the consultation.

Lions in Winter will conclude with a free evening reading by Diaz, Moore, and Šukys at 7 p.m. in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall. The public is welcome to attend and registration is not required for the reading.

The Doudna Fine Arts Center New and Emerging Artists Series, The College of Arts and Humanities, EIU Department of English, and the Coles County Arts Council provide funding for Lions in Winter.

Visit the Lions in Winter website at to register, learn more about the event and the visiting authors, and find information on hotel accommodations in the surrounding area. Questions can be directed to or the EIU Department of English at 217-581-2428.

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