I'm getting ready to attend my sixth (!) Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing, where religion and literature collide in the loveliest, most powerful ways. Check out this year's lineup of speakers, including Marilynne Robinson, Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Safron Foer.
The Calvin Festival is always a wonderful time. I've been introduced to new authors I love (Thomas Lynch, Luci Shaw) and had the chance to listen to the wisdom of others I'd admired from afar (Michael Chabon, Yann Martel, Sara Zarr). And then there are the rich conversations about books that happen in hallways and at Arnie's Diner, where I've made a biannual tradition of gorging myself on pie. I never leave the Festival without a long list of books I have to read.
I've presented at the Festival every time I've attended, on a variety of topics. In 2010 I put together a panel on how authors can use social media, and we had a terrific group including author Jason Boyett and literary agent Greg Daniel. Another year I did a panel about whether people can make a living as freelance writers. We had Andy Crouch, Lauren Winner, Cindy Crosby and me (and if you are wondering, the answer was universally no, don't quit your day job). This year I am on a panel called "What Digital Publishing Can Do for You," where four people who are authors, publishers, and agents (sometimes simultaneously) venture into the new frontier of ebooks and apps. I'm also speaking on my own about memoir (um, still writing that talk) and in conversation with television writer Nikki Stafford about religion and popular culture.
If you're coming to the Festival, please be sure to say hello. And if you're not in 2012, aim for 2014. You won't regret it.