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Learning from the professionals

Taylor’s professional writing program plans for next summer’s writing conference

(L to R) Faculty members Linda Taylor, Heather Gemmen Wilson, Dennis Hensley, Lin Johnson, Ginger Kolbaba, Ann Byle, Rachael Phillips and James  Watkins lead a panel discussion. (Provided by Andrea Osmun)

(L to R) Faculty members Linda Taylor, Heather Gemmen Wilson, Dennis Hensley, Lin Johnson, Ginger Kolbaba, Ann Byle, Rachael Phillips and James
Watkins lead a panel discussion. (Provided by Andrea Osmun)

By Laura Koenig | Echo 

Taylor University’s professional writing program hosted its first annual writing conference on Aug. 5–6, 2016 and new plans are already brewing for next year’s conference.

Over 100 registrants and 25 faculty and staff made their way to the cornfields for this summer’s inaugural conference. They traveled from five different states, representing a wide variety of ages and experiences.

Conference Coordinator Linda Taylor said, “Our goal with this first Taylor University Professional Writing Conference was to provide a place . . . for writers to receive training from and meet with professionals in Christian publishing.”

The department achieved their goal by reaching out to local contacts to lead sessions and meet with the writers. Taylor said they were stunned to find these professionals willing to come and teach Christian writing.

Many of these contacts were professional writing alumni who are now experiencing and working in the publishing field in places such as Bethany House Publishers, Zondervan and Wesleyan Publishing House.

Nichole Parks(’15), marketing coordinator at Gilead Publishing, reflected on her time as a speaker at the conference.

“I took Building Your Platform (a class in the professional writing department), but I never expected to be teaching on something so similar shortly after graduating!” Parks said. “My workshop provided attendees with the tools to personalize their social media. Or as I called it: Giving Your Voice a Megaphone.”

Breakout sessions like this informed writers in the constantly changing world of publishing, helping them keep up with writing trends. These sessions also gave writers a way to make valuable connections with agents, acquisitions editors, editors and marketers.

Even though the first conference ran smoothly, Taylor and a small committee are already planning for 2017, capitalizing on the successful aspects of the first conference and applying new ideas.

They hope to establish “tracks” to meet the needs of writers with different levels of experiences and continue to build their faculty.

New York Times best-selling novelist and biographer Jerry B. Jenkins will be at the writing conference in 2017. He is well-known for his “Left Behind” series, but he’s also a friend of the Professional Writing program.

“Jerry has been a personal friend for many years,” professional writing professor Dennis Hensley said.

Jenkins has supported the professional writing program since its inception, funding scholarships for students and visiting campus to give lectures.

The Professional Writing Conference will be held on Aug. 4–5, 2017. For more information, visit https://taylorsprofessionalwritersconference.wordpress.com/.

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