Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Conference Panel for Everyone

In past years, attendees at the Steel Pen Creative Writers’ Conference listened to a brief welcome and then headed for the first breakout session. The 2017 conference will change that pattern and begin (after a brief welcome) with a general session panel titled “That’s Not What My Grandma Said: Preserving Regional Stories.”

People die, memories fade, and cultural history is lost. With them go the color and flavor that make any region unique and the seasonings that add authenticity to our written stories. So how do we keep cultural history alive? Join Jane Ammeson, Heather Augustyn, and Roland Cohen for a panel discussion on preserving regional stories. Kathryn Page Camp will moderate the panel.

The bios of the three distinguished panelists follow.

Jane Simon Ammeson is a freelance writer who specializes in travel, food and personalities. She writes frequently for Northwest Indiana Times, Edible Michiana, AAA Home & Away, Heartland Boating, Lakeland Boating, Cleveland Magazine, Long Weekends Magazine, Travel Indiana and the Herald Palladium. Her Bindu travel apps include Michigan Road Trips and Indiana Journeys. She’s authored ten books including Hauntings of the Underground Railroad: Ghosts of the Midwest, Murders That Made Headlines: Crimes of Indiana, A Jazz Age Murder in Northwest Indiana and East Chicago. She is a James Beard Foundation nominating judge for the Great Lakes Region.

Forever a Harbor girl, Jane attended E.C. Washington and worked after school and during the summers at the E.C. Public Library, a job she got through nepotism as her mother was employed there for a half century.

Heather Augustyn is author of Ska: An Oral History, McFarland, 2010; Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist, McFarland, 2013; Ska: The Rhythm of Liberation, Rowman & Littlefield, 2013; Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music, Half Pint Press, 2014; Alpha Boys School: Cradle of Jamaican Music, Half Pint Press, 2017; Dragon: The Story of Byron Lee, Ambassador of Jamaican Music, Half Pint Press, 2017; and Bob Marley: The Music of Pain and Promise, Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. She has been a correspondent for the Times of Northwest Indiana for 12 years and she teaches composition at Purdue University Northwest.

Ronald D. Cohen is an emeritus professor of history, Indiana University Northwest, Gary, Indiana, where he taught for 34 years. He is the author (or co-author) of numerous books, including Children of the Mill: Schooling and Society in Gary, Indiana, 1906-1960; Gary: A Pictorial History; Moonlight in Duneland; Rainbow Quest: Folk Music and American Society, 1940-1970The Pete Seeger Reader, and numerous others. He lives in Gary, Indiana, and is a member of the Gary Historic Preservation Commission.
This year's conference will be held on October 28 at the conference center at Fair Oaks Farms, just off I-65 near Renssselaer, Indiana. To learn more about the keynote speaker and the breakout sessions, go to You can find the registration link on the same page. Or, if you have additional questions, contact us at

We're excited about this year's conference, and we hope to see you there.

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