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EDITORIAL:Science fiction author Connie Willis finally invited to writer's conference

On February 18, 2013

The 2013 Rosenberry Writer's Conference is themed "In Other Worlds" and will host local award-winning science fiction author Connie Willis on Mar. 6 at 7 p.m.

Willis is a treasured fixture at Sigma Tau Delta meetings and events on campus. Acting as a mentor to members of Sigma Tau Delta, Willis is frequently found in Ross Hall's Fishbowl Conference Room giving practical advice to aspiring authors and holding brilliant discussions with students.

Willis has received 11 Hugo Awards, seven Nebula awards, and the 2012 Grande Master Award. She is inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame alongside other similarly essential members of the science fiction canon, Ray Bradbury and Mary Shelley.

One of Willis' most popular works is "Doomsday Book," the story of a time-traveling historian named Kivrin who finds herself propelled into the 14th century. The book is a tear-jerker as Kivrin experiences the losses of victims of the Plague first-hand. Historical fact and technology rooted in scientific theory are weaved together to create an oddly familiar, fantastical world.

A practiced observer of the every-day lives of people and an eclectic genius with a thirst for knowledge, Willis' writing process includes filling stacks of notebooks with facts, ideas and observations that may or may not find their way into the text.

Willis' style is defined by her ability to showcase her characters' complex psychologies and intricate relationships as they perform everyday, mundane actions. For example, the protagonist of "Passage" takes the long, arduous way around the hospital where she works at to avoid a certain co-worker.

Her characters earn your empathy and respect as they face some of the more difficult aspects of life, such as epidemics, wars and death. Willis does not exclude harsh realities from her stories as she is familiar with the power literature holds in helping people deal with crisis.

Willis told Sigma Tau Delta members that as a young child, her mother passed on and no one wanted to tell her the harsh truth regarding her loss. In literature, Willis found the ability to understand and cope with that terrible loss.

Hence, Willis provides reading experiences that emotionally impact readers and inspire them to preserver through whatever difficult and perplexing events may be ahead.

It is a wonder that this is her first appearance at a Rosenberry Writer's Conference. Anyone who values a powerful literary experience should show up early to ensure a seat at the event.

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