Just One Week Left Until the Chuckanut Writers Conference

Dear Writers: Here’s Amberly Baker of the Chuckanut Writers Conference back again with more about this year’s conference:

It is finally June. School is out for the summer, the days are as long as they’ll ever be, and here in Western Washington, we’ve even had a few sunny days. With the beautiful month of June comes the weekend of the 7th annual Chuckanut Writers Conference, which is coming up so fast—June 23rd and 24th, just a week away.

Coming from someone who has been working behind the scenes, this year’s conference is going to be a great one. We have arranged for a delicious spread of food and drinks for our Friday night faculty reading and reception. The swag bags you will take with you are full of useful items to help you take advantage of local businesses and restaurants all over Bellingham. And the conference itself is going to be beautiful, rain or shine—a rainy day in Washington can be just as beautiful as a sunny one, which is good, because you never know what the weather will do.

We have such a great faculty line-up this year, bringing a broad range of talent to all of our sessions. From fiction writers like Jonathan Evison, Samuel Ligon, and Kelly Magee, to nonfiction writers like Daniel James Brown, Paula Becker, and Ijeoma Oluo, our faculty are sure to get your pens (or keyboards) moving. Our faculty also features past and present Poets Laureate Elizabeth Austen and Tod Marshall. Everyone on this list comes with unique talents and experiences to offer, and they have promised their expertise over the weekend of the conference for one ultimate purpose–to help you get excited and inspired about your own writing.

For some of you, this isn’t new—you have enjoyed the conference before, maybe several times. For some of you, this is your first time experiencing it. Well, it’s my first time, too, and I for one cannot wait. The promise of this event leaves me buzzing with excitement! I am thrilled by the thought of so much talent concentrated into one space—the talent of both the faculty and the attendees. I am so excited to meet you, to spend the weekend with you, surrounded by the support and inspiration that comes with a room full of writers. I am honored to have been able to be a part of making this event happen. And I can’t wait to hear about everything you take away from this experience—all of the sage advice you receive, your new writings inspired by our breakout sessions, the lifelong friends and connections you’ll make, the food you’ll eat. It is all coming so soon. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Amberly Baker is a student in Western Washington University’s Creative Writing program, and works at a small bookstore. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys playing Animal Crossing, knitting, and is obsessed with her cats.

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Chuckanut Writers Conference, 2017

Dear Writers: Here’s Amberly Baker of the Chuckanut Writers Conference to tell you what’s in the works for this year’s amazing event!

Welcome to Bellingham, Washington, an eccentric city nestled in the northern corner of the great Pacific Northwest. Bellingham is home to all kinds of people: With the bay to the West and Mount Baker to the East, it attracts all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. With so many amazing independent restaurants and holes-in-the-wall, it is a food lover’s haven. It’s a college town, bringing in passionate, excited college students by the thousands. It is also home to a huge writing community, and the annual Chuckanut Writers Conference.

Kelly Magee

Kelly Magee will offer a class on Rewriting Fairy Tales.

The Chuckanut Writers Conference is an amazing opportunity, whether you’re local or visiting, whether you’ve published three novels or are writing on napkins in rare quiet moments. This year, it takes place on Friday and Saturday, June 23rd and 24th at Whatcom Community College, and offers a wide range of breakout sessions to help you find inspiration and continue to develop your craft. These sessions are taught by some of the finest writers the area has to offer—and it has a lot.

There are several great events included in this year’s conference. If you are looking to pitch your amazing new piece of writing, you can find Sean Fletcher and Andy Ross offering Pitch Sessions. Continue reading

The Sully Award Winner!

Dear Writers: Lookie! The results of the Sully Award are in!!!

heylookawriterfellow

First things first: I owe everyone an apology.

I was supposed to announce the winner of The Sully Award for Excellence in Writerishness last week, but the days got away from me.

The reason: Easter Week.

For many, many years I have avoided hosting holiday family gatherings. This is primarily because my home is “Entertaining Hostile.” That is to say the rooms are small and have no flow, there isn’t enough seating, and I own only one, small TV.

Another reason for never hosting  family gatherings is because, well, I didn’t wanna.

Things tend to break and get messy when people come over. And the more people who come over, the messier and break-ier things get.

Allegra holiday family gatherings average about 13 people. That’s a potentially huge amount of messiness and breakiness.

Normally the Easter Saturday gathering is the responsibility of my aunt and uncle (who owned a huge house and approximately 92…

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SULLY AWARD COMPETITION NOW OPEN!

Dear Writers:

Nope, we simply can’t get enough of Sully the Salamander! Now that Writer Fellow has gone and started a writing contest in the name of the one and only Sully. It’s just about open season for topics and style, and you can read the details on his post:

heylookawriterfellow

Will YOU be the lucky winner?

Last week on this blog I asked you a question: “Should I start a writing contest?”

I followed up my question with a promise: “If there is enough enthusiasm for a writing contest, I will start a writing contest.”

So. Was there enough enthusiasm for a writing contest?

Sort of!

And that’s good enough for me.

Welcome to the First Annual
Sully Award for Excellence in Writerishness!
(WOO!)

The (one and only) winner will receive a bunch of valuable prizes!

A $20 gift card to Starbucks, because writers need to wake up before writing.
A $10 gift card to iTunes, because writers need to be in the right mood while writing.
A $20 Gift card to Barnes & Noble so you can read after writing.
And, best of all, a beautiful SULLY AWARD CERTIFICATE, because great writers deserve great accolades. The certificate will look something like…

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Happy Polyp to Me

Dear Writers:

My birthday is on Halloween. This year to celebrate being 53 years old, me and my cervix, whom I call Fred, headed to the OB-GYN clinic at 7:45 in the morning to get our polyp removed.

For my special day, the team at OB-GYN is dressed up like characters from The Wizard of Oz. An affable Cowardly Lion checks me in at reception. Then a smiling nurse in a pink-and-white tutu takes me back to one of those little rooms and writes down stuff that’s wrong with me and what vitamins I take.

“Have you seen The Wizard of Oz?” she asks me.

“About a thousand times,” I say, not much of an exaggeration since I had the movie soundtrack on 33 LP when I was a kid. I knew right off that her costume was one of the Lullaby League ballerinas that welcomed Dorothy Gale to Munchkinland, and I can sing you the song on our next road trip.

“It was kind of hard to make a tutu,” she says, strapping a blood pressure cuff around my arm. “Everybody said a tutu would be easy, but it wasn’t.”

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I stop myself from saying that she just needed to lightly tack the muslin to the lining waist before gathering the ruffles to get them straight. I stop myself from saying this not because I’m being polite but because I have a damn polyp on my cervix and the contrast with a nurse in a tutu is a little much to take at 8:08 in the morning sans caffeine.

My mom was a wicked-good seamstress and made me the most amazing Halloween costumes. Being in a stuffy little room with a nurse wearing a droopy tutu and knowing the gist of the medical procedure that is coming my way makes me all of a sudden miss my mommy. A lot.

Nurse Lullaby takes my blood pressure: 116/74 with no caffeine in my system. Who in hell has time to do the pre-how embarrassing if the OB-GYN sees how much hair grows behind my knee caps type of shower, feed dog who takes forever to eat, walk dog who takes forever to pee, find the damn medical referral slip, forget to get gas AND make coffee and still get over to the clinic on what street is it on again? at this ungodly hour?

In a few minutes, in comes the doc, who is dressed in normal clothing. Although she looks quite a lot like my college biology teacher, so it does seem befitting that she is an OB-GYN.

“It’s going to be OK,” I whisper to Fred.

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Fred is my cervix, in case you forgot. Fred is a girl, and this isn’t a piece about gender identity unless you decide it is, which is your prerogative as its reader.

The doc wants to know if I’m sexually active.

“No, I abstain when I’m not in a relationship,” I reply. That’s Latin for No man will talk to me unless he’s trying to sell me electronics or a car, and I’m fairly sure the mannequin in the Macy’s window is getting more action than I am this decade.

“About how long has it been?” asks the doc, reminding me that lots of medical terms have Latin root words, i.e., I am so busted.

“End of 2012,” I confess.

“Ohhhh, it’s been a really long time.”

bruja-buena-del-norte

Thanks, doc. Yes, Obama was just starting his second term the last time my hoohaw saw any hoopla.

She stares at me, and I think she’s wondering how on earth Fred grew a polyp in my sensory deprivation chamber, but she explains that sometimes polyps bleed during intercourse (that’s Latin for GETTING IT ON, in case I forgot), but “we can’t know that in your case,” she says.

She shrugs, perhaps a little disappointed at the not knowing. I get that. In order for a scientific experiment to work, there needs to be both a control group and a test group, and I’m a boring control group. It’s like a thin plot line without any dramatic climax, and believe you me. Continue reading

Managing Family Relationships While Writing About Them ~ Guest Post for Red Wheelbarrow Writers

Dear Writers:

What should come first? Publishing your memoir or preserving family relationships? Sometimes writers feel they have to choose—on occasion, they do. We’ve all heard stories about what happened when the family flipped out over a memoir someone published . . . .

I was honored to guest post for Red Wheelbarrow Writers on the topic of Managing Family Relationships While Writing About Them. Read the full post on the RWB site.

Red Wheelbarrow Writers hosts an amazing array of workshops and events, including the celebrated WhaMemWriMo (Whatcom County Memoir Writing Month) that is happening right now. They just published an anthology, Memory Into Memoir. Find out more about RWB and how to get involved at their website.

XO Laurel Leigh

memory-into-memoir

 

Clover, A Literary Rag ~ a reading at Village Books Today!

Dear Writers:

I’m wildly delighted to be a part of the Clover reading today at Village Books in gorgeous Fairhaven WA. Authors from Clover 11 will present excerpts of their work and Clover editors Mary Gillilan and Norman Green will host the event that always fills the house. Come by the Readings Gallery at 4 p.m. to join the fun!

clover XI cover cropped

There’s also this going on — a secret a brewing that will come to light at today’s reading. Here’s the clues:

Mike Allegra in natural habitatMike Allegra Salamander Doodle

 

 

 

 

I defy anyone to guess in advance, but I will totally buy you lunch if you do.

XO Laurel Leigh