Event Schedule

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Thursday

27

7 p.m.

Chuckanut Radio Hour

Kick off your conference with co-hosts Paul Hanson and Kelly Evert from Village Books along with announcer Rich Donnelly as they guide you through comedy, poetry, music, and radio drama in a delightful program broadcast from Bellingham. 

Friday

28

9 – 10 a.m.

Conference Check-In

Address for First Timers

10 a.m.

Conference Welcome and Opening Address

Cami Ostman

The Role of the Writer in the Post-Pandemic Era – To be a writer has always meant being one who is willing to explore universal themes and to look deeply into the human experience, but after a global pandemic, during which time the way we work and interact with others has been redefined and re-organized, we writers now have an opportunity like never before to name and even influence how we all move forward together into our creative spaces. In this session, let’s explore the “calling” of a writer and how we can embrace that calling whole-heartedly to remain inspired and to inspire others.

Morning Sessions

Sati Mokherjee

Sense and Sensibility: Strategies to Make Poems Make Sense – This class is for writers and readers who are lovers of poetry (or are poetry-curious) or are poetry-phobic! We will boldly take on the thorniest of questions: What does it mean for a poem to “make sense?” and then the wonderful questions that bloom from there: As readers – how do we know if we’ve understood the poem? When we’re writing, how do we know when the poem is done? We’ll read poems together… but also ‘read’ our own responses to those poems, to articulate answers, and how we know them.

Becky Mandelbaum

Putting Pressure on a Character: Creating Tension in Prose – Pressure is at the heart of any great story, but sometimes we instinctively protect our characters from experiencing it. In this session we’ll look at how to apply pressure to our characters through plot, interiority, pacing, dialogue, and more, taking guidance from examples in popular movies and fairy tales.

Thor Hanson

Finding the Story: How to Narrtive Narrative Nonfiction – Join author and biologist Thor Hanson for a deep dive into the craft of storytelling, an essential tool for writing compelling nonfiction on any topic.

Brooke Warner

Taking on Memoir – They call the writing process a journey for a reason, and this class will delve into what memoirists need to know to write a book that will leave readers wanting more. Join Brooke Warner for a mini crash course on the craft of memoir writing, along with some of the emotional considerations at play when you decide you want to write-and eventually publish-a story from your real life.

Priscilla Long

Creating (and Thriving) While Aging – How do we age and create and thrive, all at the same time? This session will present the latest science on thriving while aging while creating. It will provide guidelines for nurturing our selves and our creative work as we age. It will present models of rather ancient (age 85, 98, 101, etc.) world-class creators (writers, painters, dancers, potters, poets) who in great old age are vibrant, creative, productive, and engaged. Some are able-bodied, others disabled. Old age is changing and the new science on aging and creativity has the potential to benefit us writers who are aging (40? 50? 80? 90?) tremendously.

Melissa Johnson

Finding Your Writers’ Voice

Scott Egan

Marketing Your Book – The course focuses on not just post publishing marketing approaches but how new authors market their books to editors and agents for potential representation

Plenary Session

Erica Bauermeister

Getting Back to Basics: Ten Writing Rules I Learned from My Day Jobs – It’s a rare writer who can support themselves off writing alone, and yet those day jobs can provide far more than just income. Beyond the potential research material and people watching, there are invaluable writing lessons waiting in those 9-5s. Come learn the ten best writing rules that my (many) jobs taught me.

Afternoon Sessions

Stephanie Dethlefs

What’s Your Point? Getting Clear on What Your Novel Will Say – The goal of your novel is to impact the reader. But do you know why, or how? In this class for novelists of all skill levels, we’ll get to the root of what you are trying to say with your novel and provide clear steps to make sure you get your point across.

Jessica Gigot

Rekindling the Fire: Writing for Rest and Renewal –The pace of modern life can be overwhelming, leaving us feeling stagnant, frustrated, and in a constant state of burnout. In this workshop, we will re-cultivate a sense of awe using prose and poetry and the power of the present moment. Through writing exercises, we will experiment with voice, imagery, and lyricism in order to rediscover our spark, our why, our wonder. Open to all levels of writers.

Kim Hudson

How Fear and Love Drive Our Characters’ Decisions – These broad categories of emotions lead to 2 very different understandings of power. A return to our senses is a return to the power of knowing ourselves, being ourselves, and supporting others in doing the same. Embracing our 2 worlds of emotions begins with know a few key operating principles. Playing with their differences makes for great stories.

Bill Kenower

Using Five Senses in Personal Essay and Memoir – Memoirists can sometimes forget about the need for physical description in their stories. But focusing on what a scene looks and smells and sounds like not only brings it more fully to life, but often stimulates buried memories in the author. In this class we’ll look at how to focus on descriptive language in personal narrative to unlock a story’s meaning and power.

Brooke Warner

The Business of Writing – Come explore what it means to be a writer beyond getting words on the page. We’ll discuss how to prepare to be an author by building an author platform and what you need to know when it comes to the publishing journey that awaits you, all its ins and outs, from finances to hiring a publicist to the long-range vision for your writing career.

Cami Ostman & Lisa Dailey

Travel: A Passport to Fresh Ideas – Travel sparks an adventurous spirit and inspires creativity. It offers opportunities to be inspired by PLACE and CHARACTER like nothing else. In this session the directors of Wayfaring Writers will share HOW to observe with fresh eyes to bring scenic details to life even if you’re only traveling down the street.

Elaina Ellis

Queer Joy: Writing and Reading Narratives of Queer Delight – We’ll read and respond to texts by LGBTQIA+ writers centering sensory pleasure, collective joy, and personal freedom. Taking inspiration from voices like Chen Chen, Jericho Brown, Temim Fruchter, and Akwaeke Emezi, this space will be both generative and exploratory.

Paul Hanson

Book Events: The Whys, Dos, and Don’ts

Grant Faulkner

Writing with Vulnerability – Writing with vulnerability is more important than any craft tool because being vulnerable is how we connect with others. Telling such a story, however, is among the most challenging things a writer can do. The only way to achieve such vulnerability is through an openness of spirit that can feel dangerous-or even be dangerous. We’re going to explore what it means to be vulnerable on the page, and then we’ll also do some exercises designed to help you probe your story, hone your truth, overcome the judgments of others, and develop a mindset to tell your story your way.

Evening Reception & Faculty Reading

Hotel Leo

Saturday

29

9 a.m.

Cami Ostman

Writing Prompts to Start Your Day

Conference Announcements

Morning Sessions

Sati Mookherjee

Spilling the Tea: The “Secrets” of Writing Poetry that I Wish I’d Known Sooner – In this poetry-writing workshop I’ll share the perspectives and practices that I wish I’d known when I first started writing poetry – the do’s no one told me! and the don’t that I think actually might be a do! We’ll play with exercises that might just turn out to be the secret key to unlock the empty page or liberate the flat poem. (Participants are welcome to bring a poem in progress or one that feels stalled).

Grant Faulkner

The Art of Brevity – In flash fiction, the whole is a part and the part is a whole. The form forces the writer to question each word, to reckon with Flaubert’s mot juste, and move a story by hints and implications. Flash stories are built through gaps as much as the connective tissue of words, so what’s left out of a story is often more important than what’s included. In this workshop, we will discuss how a different type of creativity emerges within a hard compositional limit, exploring the many different forms that short shorts can take. Come prepared to write short pieces and explore the expansiveness of succinctness.

Stephanie Dethlefs

Creating a Compelling Character Arc – A novel is more than the things that happen in it. What connects your reader to the story is how the protagonist is changed by the events. In this session for beginning/intermediate writers, you’ll identify your protagonist’s emotional journey and tether it to the plot.

Amanda Stubbert

Launching a Book: One More Story to Tell – Your book is the product of your life, your dreams, and so much of your time. There is one final, yet crucial step in this monumental process: launching your book. Don’t just get your book printed, get your book published and into the hands of the readers who are waiting to hear your message! From your first press release to your book launch event, you need to tell a cohesive story about how your book fits into readers’ lives.

Erica Bauermeister

Write with Your Senses – For most people, vision is the default sense-which gives writers an extraordinary opportunity to create rich, multi-dimensional experiences for their readers. Smell, taste, touch, and hearing are the stealth superpowers in a writer’s toolkit. Through sensory experiences, writing prompts, metaphors, and imagination, this class will help you access those subliminal senses and make them come alive on the page.

Cami Ostman

The Psychology of Writing – The most important tool of the writer is the SELF, of course. Honest writing requires a certain psychological strength and sophistication. It can also be interrupted by inner voices and anxieties that can stop our writing cold. In this class we will look at the concept of the Inner Critic and how to work with resistance of any kind. We’ll also go over the SEVEN psychological stages between a writing project’s conceptualization and final publication.

Plenary Session

Rena Priest

The Secret Medicine: A Creative Writing Workshop in Poetry – The dervish poet Rumi wrote, “There is a secret medicine / given only to those who hurt so hard / they can’t hope. / The hopers would feel slighted if they knew.” I have often been a hopeless recipient of that secret medicine. The universe administers it in surreptitious love letters sent to us as poetry. The medicine awakens a weary spirit to eddies of dust glittering in sunshine and the return of birdsong at winter’s end. In this course offering, we will discuss how poetry expresses our connection to the earth, each other, our human experience, and the infinite beauty of the universe. We will write and explore how poetry nourishes, heals, and loves us.

Afternoon Sessions

Jessica Gigot

The Many Faces of Ecological Grief: A Poetry Workshop – The concept of ecological grief can be subversive, disorienting, and difficult to process. Through poetry and prose, we have an opportunity to explore our emotional and physical responses to this unique form of anticipatory mourning in artful and inspired ways. In this workshop, we will generate new work through writing prompts and short excerpts from contemporary ecopoets whose work demands we continue to pay attention to climate change-induced natural disasters, while holding on to hope.

Priscilla Long

Writing the Lyric Essay – Lyric refers to music and this session will guide writers of any experience (none to very) in writing the lyric essay, and further, will aid you in making anything you write, fiction or nonfiction, more sonorous. Come with a notebook to write in and an idea of the subject matter you want to write on or are already in the middle of writing.

Melissa Johnson

Collaborative Autoethnography

Bill Kenower

Fearless Writing – Learning the craft is only the beginning of a writer’s journey. Most of the obstacles both beginning and experienced authors face have less to do with finding a compelling opening or creating believable characters and more to do the many emotional challenges inherent in sharing our work with other people. In this workshop, we’ll shine a light on some of the dark questions about talent, intelligence, time, and money that haunt many writers. We’ll also provide tools to keep our attention where it needs to be to write what we most want to write.

Kim Hudson

An Exploration of the Feminine Gaze – What is it that makes the feminine gaze so compelling? We can feel it and we need to give it language. With examples of dialogue from Good Luck to You Leo Grande and other films we will explore the sensual nature of the feminine perspective and how it effects the way we tell stories.

Rena Priest

Making the World by Naming It – “Where do your poems come from?” This question is often asked in Q & A sessions and interviews. I think it’s a great question. Where do poems come from? We’ll have a discussion about where our poems come from and if you have a favorite poem you’ve written, I invite you to bring it along and share it, along with a few words about your process. People will also often ask “How do you start a poem?” In this workshop we’ll begin by sharing our strategies for getting started, and we’ll respond to a series of prompts. By the end of our time together you’ll have a fresh set of ideas on which to build new poems.

Elaina Ellis

Writing Literary Quality Romance – A workshop for writers in any genre who want to write lush, poetic, liberating, and memorable love stories. We’ll discuss popular tropes and common pitfalls in romance fiction, love poetry, and romantic comedy; develop characters using astrology, psychology, and personal experiences; and work with image and metaphor to describe the indescribable.

Thor Hanson

Stay on Target: Ten Tips for Writing Popular Non-fiction

Lisa Dailey

Building an Author Platform

Becky Mandelbaum

Making a Scene – The scene is one of the smallest units of storytelling and serves as a building block for stories, novels, and memoirs alike. In this session, we’ll explore how to start and end a scene, navigate the difference between scene and exposition, build a setting that is both lush and meaningful, and decide whether the scene should exist in the first place. We’ll look at popular texts to see how craft elements like narrative arc, tension, character development, setting, and dialogue contribute to a successful scene.

Cami Ostman

Mastermind Your Book: How to Get Your Story Unstuck – Whether you have a book project you’ve been working on for too long or a book idea you’re having trouble getting started on, masterminding your book is the key to getting unstuck. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to use the “Story Spine” as a tool to keep moving forward with your story, even when you hit a sticking point on the writing journey.

Paul Hanson & Chloe Hovind

Relationships with Your Indie Bookstore

Closing Address

Brooke Warner & Grant Faulkner

How to Keep That Momentum Going with the Hosts of the Write Minded Podcast

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Contact

Village Books
1200 11th Street
Bellingham, WA 98225
(360) 671-2626

info@chuckanutwritersconference.com