Event Schedule










7 p.m., doors open and music begins at 6:30 p.m.

Chuckanut Radio Hour featuring Elaina Ellis!

Interviewer: Sarah Hawley
Special guest: Rena Priest

Doors open and music begins at 6:30pm!

Spaces are limited and REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED to secure your spot so don’t delay.

Join us at the Hotel Leo for an evening of original music, poetry, storytelling, comedy, and literature.

The Chuckanut Radio Hour, a recipient of Bellingham’s prestigious Mayor’s Arts Award, is a radio variety show that began in January 2007. Each Chuckanut Radio Hour includes guest authors, musicians, performance poet Kevin Murphy, and episodes of “As the Ham Turns” serial radio comedy performed by the Chuckanut Radio Players Les Campbell, Tonja Meyers, Lisa Colburn, Dee Robinson, Sarah Hawley, and Robert Muzzy. Not to mention groaner jokes by hosts Paul Hanson, Kelly Evert, and announcer Rich Donnelly. The Chuckanut Radio Hour’s first guest was Erik Larson and has since included, Tom Robbins, Maria Semple, Christopher McDougall, Erica Bauermeister, and Garrison Keillor, among many others. Tickets for the Chuckanut Radio Hour are $5 and are available on Eventbrite.The Radio Hour airs Sundays at 7pm on Community Powered KMRE at 88.3FM and kmre.org. Co-sponsored by 12th Street Shoes.



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.

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

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 – Discover, enhance, and grow your own unique voice as a writer in this break-out session. We will learn how you can go beyond foundational writing skills and tap into your style as a storyteller in any genre.

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.

Fiction Panel: The Truth in Ficiton

This panel will discuss how fiction is often able to illuminate/reveal/explain the truth of our existence and the intersections between plot, character development, and themes.


1:30 p.m. 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.

2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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 – Book events can be an important part of an author’s publicity efforts. Having hosted hundreds of events, we’ll talk about the greater context of book events and what they mean to bookstores, booksellers, and authors. We’ll also go over tried and true best practices, no matter how big or small the event.

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.

Poetry Panel: The Many Roles that Poetry Plays

Panelists will explore how poetry can serve as self-expression, celebration, political statement, and healing agent, just to name a few of the roles poetry can play in the life of the poet and/or reader.

4:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Break for dinner

Evening Reception & Faculty Reading

Hotel Leo

Join us at Hotel Leo for drinks and light desserts. Come mingle with authors and get your books signed. 



9 a.m.

Cami Ostman

Writing Prompts to Start Your Day

Conference Announcements

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

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.

Business Panel: Publishing Wisely

This panel explores the different routes to publishing and the benefits and pitfalls of the various kinds of publishing options available to writers.
11:30 a.m. – 12: 15 p.m. 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.

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

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 – At its core, autoethnography strives to blend the cultural with the scholarly, adding theoretical weight to personal narratives and building collective understanding. Dive into this burgeoning genre and discover how to blend research and self-reflective writing to form sometimes anecdotal, always experiential, cultural, political, social writing through collaboration.

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.

Craft Panel: Putting Character into Your Characters

This panel will discuss how to build characters on the page and how to make sure they are complex enough to carry the storyline.

Editing Panel – Working with an Editor  

This panel explores the relationship between the writer and the editor.

2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

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-fictionJoin author and biologist Thor Hanson for a lively discussion of ten (or so) practical tips for writing accurate, engaging, entertaining non-fiction.

Lisa Dailey

Building an Author Platform – Creating a platform and learning how to market your books and associated services or products is key to getting your message into the world and making money with that message. And why write a book if you don’t want to get your message into the hands of those who need to hear it? This class will discuss platform and why you need one, where to start, how to build a following/readership, and how to create opportunities related to your book.

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 BookstoreFor a small press or self publishers, being in a bookstore can be that moment when you know you’ve “made it”. Village Books & Paper Dreams’ Paul Hanson and Chloe Hovind share expert tips about how indie publishers can get bookstores to stock their books, highlighting the common challenges and solutions found along the way.

Panel Discussion: Sense and Creativity

This panel will discuss how to evoke the five senses for a reader.
4:00 p.m. Closing Address

Brooke Warner & Grant Faulkner

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

Open Mics in Fairhaven

More info coming soon!

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