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Exciting and Fantastical Things, Oh my!

05 Apr Posted by in Conferences | 2 comments
Exciting and Fantastical Things, Oh my!

I have exciting things to tell you all about. The first is that I was blessed with a grant from the Arkansas Arts Council. The artist assistance fund is in memory of Sally A. Williams, who served as the Arkansas Arts Council’s Artist Services Manager for 25 years.

“Sally was a visual artist who expressed her passion for art in both her personal and professional life,” said Joy Pennington, executive director of the Arkansas Arts Council. “Sally asked that donations in her memory be made to the Arts Council, and we could think of no better way to honor her than to assist the Arkansas artists with whom she cared about so deeply.”

Artist assistance grants of up to $500 are available to Arkansas artists in the literary, performing and visual arts fields. The artist must be 21 years old and an Arkansas resident for at least one year at the time of application. Projects may include:

  •   Registration or travel to a conference, retreat, symposium or workshop that will enhance the professional work of the recipient
  •  Consulting fees for establishing or growing the recipient’s art-related business, e.g. marketing or business plan.

The second thing I wanted to tell ya’ll about is how I used grant. I went to MidSouthCon.

I hardly know where to begin in telling ya’ll about my wonderful trip to Memphis and MidSouthCon. I guess I should tell you a bit about MidSouthCon and their mission:

“Our primary focuses are literacy and education. To that end, we have held an annual convention in Memphis, TN for over two decades hosting numerous authors, editors, scientists, and artists. We also hold a free seminar for educators and librarians, a writers’ conference with workshops by award winning authors and editors, and annual student art and writing contests.”

MidSouthCon is one of the premier multi-genre conventions, covering, science fiction, fantasy, comics, horror, science education, and just about anything in between. The conference has authors, editors, publishers, scientists, artists of all these genres and specialties, and an annual attendance of approximately 1200 people.

Now you may say, well that’s nice, but what does any of that have to do with Christian writing? That was discussed in a panel called, “Faith in Speculative Fiction: How do faith and religion fit into science fiction and fantasy and where can readers go to find good stories with faith-based themes?” All types of faiths were represented on the panel and the audience, but most were either Christian readers or writers of Christian world-view books.

A lot of people shy away from Christian writing groups because they think that their stories won’t be welcomed. I would say that the average reader/writer is unaware of the variety of works produced by Christians. Let’s take the horror and thriller type books. I was blow away by books by Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, and Brandilyn Collins. These books will make you check the locks on the door, but in the end God wins, just like we knew He would.

Christian Science fiction and fantasy are also full of great authors with richly woven tales. Take Ross Lawhead’s Ancient Earth Series, Kerry Nietz’s A Star Curiously Singing, and Christy Award winner Jill Williamson’s By Darkness Hid.

Everywhere you look Christians are breaking into all types of fiction. We have all heard about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (no relation), but have you heard of the Christian Dystopian novels by Kirk Outerbridge (Eternity Falls) or Marc Schooley (The Dark Man)? You know I have actually heard someone say, “But Christians don’t read Dystopian novels. That kind of book would not interest good people.” Really? Can you say—Left Behind Series? But I digress.

I had a great time at MidSouthCon. One of the authors I met was Cat Rambo. She is a science fiction and fantasy novel writer and editor also her short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Weird Tales, and Strange Horizons. To say I was excited might be an underestimation! I also met a lot of other authors, game designers, performers, pirates, artists, and an affectionate smurf.

If you are into Science Fiction and Fantasy don’t miss out on the con in, basically, our backyard.

Also don’t miss out on all of the opportunities presented by the Arkansas Arts Council. One of this year’s artist fellowships available is in novel writing, and you still have time to make your application.

  1. Lisa Collins04-07-12

    If you would like to see some of my pictures from the event go by my personal blog.

  2. Avery Cove04-13-12

    Awesome post, Lisa! I’m so glad you got that grant and got to meet all those people. You need to tell us all you learned at a meeting some time–hint, hint 🙂

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