Schedule & Workshops

All events will occur in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall at Eastern Illinois University, unless otherwise noted.

Download the complete Lions in Winter 2014 Welcome Packet here.

FRIDAY – January 24, 2014

7:00 pm: Lions in Winter 2014 Keynote Reading (Free & open to the public)
Featured Writer, Jami Attenberg

SATURDAY – January 25, 2014

9:00 – 9:30am:       Continental breakfast & Welcome

9:30 – 10:45am:     Writing the Confessional, Alissa Nutting

9:30 – 12:15pm:     Genre (Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction) Workshops

11:00 – 12:15pm:   Setting the Stakes, Hooking the Reader, Jami Attenberg

12:30 – 1:30pm:     LUNCH

1:45 – 3:00pm:      Why Are Sharks Mean? Voice and Authenticity in Essay, Ryan Van Meter

3:15 – 4:30pm:      Editor’s Panel

3:15 – 4:30pm:      In The Beginning was the First Line: Poem as Creation Myth, Jason Koo

7:00pm:                Visiting Writers Reading (Free & open to the public)
Featuring Jason Koo, Alissa Nutting, and Ryan Van Meter



Setting The Stakes, Hooking the Reader (Jami Attenberg)

What does it take to get a reader instantly invested in your story? Is it an irresistible character, or perhaps a suspenseful plot? Or is it just a string of sentences so gorgeous it’s impossible to walk away from them? This workshop will examine some of the more brilliant and addictive beginnings – both in short story and novel form – in fiction. Participants will do writing exercises and discuss what attracts them to a story.

Writing the Confessional (Alissa Nutting)

“The writer must be in it; he can’t be to one side of it, ever. He has to be endangered by it. His own attitudes have to be tested in it. The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.” –Arthur Miller

The complexity required of great fiction and nonfiction demands entanglement on behalf of its narrator or characters. Though we may see protagonists in moments of triumph, this is seldom what deepens and endears them to readers. Not much is more prolific than pain when it comes to elevating conflict and sparking epiphany. This workshop will focus on successful characterization and narrative derived from the toolkit of the author and/or characters’ most damaged places and show how incorporating fear, shame, neurosis, and guilt into stories and essays can be intrinsic to crafting great literature.

In the Beginning Was the First Line: Poem as Creation Myth (Jason Koo)

In her essay “On Beginnings,” Mary Ruefle shares with us Paul Valéry’s memorable description of “the opening line of a poem,” which, “he said, is like finding a fruit on the ground, a piece of fallen fruit you have never seen before, and the poet’s task is to create the tree from which such a fruit would fall.” In this workshop students will practice creating the “tree” of a poem from the “fallen fruit” of the first line, taking somebody else’s first line from class and building their own creation myth out of it. We will discuss Ruefle, Valéry and the nature of beginnings and look at a couple of model creation myths written by Mathias Svalina. In the process students will learn strategies for getting past the anxiety of the first line into the world of their poems.

Why are sharks mean?: Voice and authenticity in essay (Ryan Van Meter)

Coming-of-age is among the most popular subjects for literary nonfiction writers. But it’s also one of the most well-trod. So how does one write honestly and compellingly about the experiences of childhood and adolescence without repeating what’s already been done? In this talk, Ryan Van Meter will argue that achieving these aims can be a matter of transcribing a writer’s particular way of being in the world into a particular presence on the page, and demonstrate how figurative language can fold a younger self’s sensibility into an adult narrator’s voice.



Instead of attending the large group workshops, attendees are also invited to participate in small group genre workshops where they will receive detailed feedback on their creative work in a workshop atmosphere. Writers will exchange their work with the other members of their group before the Lions in Winter conference. Prose writers should submit up to 25 pages of prose. You will receive instructions on how and when to submit your work for the workshop after you register and by January 7, 2014.

PROSE (5 participants)

Born and raised in Southern California, Adam Prince earned his B.A. from Vassar College, his M.F.A. from the University of Arkansas, and his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. His award-winning fiction has appeared in The Missouri ReviewThe Southern Review, and Narrative Magazine, among others. His debut short story collection The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men was published with Black Lawrence Press in June of 2012. The recipient of the 2012-2013 Tickner Fellowship, he was recently named one of the twenty best new writers by Narrative Magazine. You can find more information on his website at

POETRY (5 participants)

Charlotte Pence’s full-length poetry collection, Spike, will be released by Black Lawrence Press in 2014. She is also the author of two award-winning poetry chapbooks, The Branches, the Axe, the Missing and Weaves a Clear Night. Pence edited The Poetics of American Song Lyrics (University Press of Mississippi, 2012) that explores the similarities and differences between poetry and songs. New poetry is forthcoming from Alaska Quarterly Review, Denver Quarterly, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Poetry Anthology. She is a professor at Eastern Illinois University.

CREATIVE NONFICTION (5 participants)

Daiva Markelis

Born in Chicago to Lithuanian immigrant parents, Daiva Markelis has found unexpected contentment amid the cornfields of Central Illinois. She is professor of English at Eastern Illinois University, where she teaches creative writing and women’s memoir.  Her doctorate is from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her short stories and personal essays have appeared in the New Ohio Review, Cream City Review, Other Voices, The Rumpus, Crab Orchard Review, Oyez, Pank, Fourth River, The Chicago Reader, The Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine and many others. Her essay, “The Lithuanian Dictionary of Depression,” was a finalist in the American Literary Review creative nonfiction contest several years ago. Another essay, “Mongrel Tongue,” was a runner-up in the Arts and Letters contest. Her memoir, White Field, Black Sheep: A Lithuanian-American Life, was published in 2010 by the University of Chicago Press. Markelis has discussed her work on NPR and Chicago area television.  She is working on her next memoir, which will be about marriage, Scrabble, and competition.



This year’s editor’s panel will feature Olga Abella (Bluestem), Brian Kornell (The Cossack Review), Jonathan Bohr Heinen (Crazyhorse), Ching-In Chen (Cream City Review), Roxane Gay (PANK), and John J. McCarthy (Quiddity).