Pics from 2013 Chuckanut Writers Conference

Dear Writers: I was delighted to be back at the Chuckanut Writers Conference this year!

With Village Books Community Outreach Director Paul Hanson

At the 2013 Chuckanut Writers Conference in Bellingham WA with Village Books Community Outreach Director and fellow writer Paul Hanson.

Gary Luke, Waverly Fitzgerald, Garth Stein, and Thor Hanson at the author book signing

Sasquatch Books Publisher Gary Luke and authors Waverly Fitzgerald, Garth Stein, and Thor Hanson at the author book signing.

Naseem Rahka's plenary session speech about the Grand Canyon and the writerly life moved many people to tears.

Naseem Rahka’s plenary session speech about the Grand Canyon and the writerly life moved many people to tears.

Panel Host and former Conference Organizer Nan Macy (with a slightly known writer seen in the background).

Panel Host and former Conference Organizer Nan Macy (with a slightly known writer seen in the background).

As you well know, there’s something special and unique about each writing conference and this one, co-hosted by Village Books and Whatcom Community College delivers its own mix of brilliant faculty, pitching opportunities, and plenty of chances for writers to mingle, including participating in evening open mics on day two of the conference.

Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books, and writer Garth Stein

Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books, which co-sponsors the conference, and writer Garth Stein, this year’s keynote speaker.

Kiffer Brown of Chanticleer Reviews and Amanda June Hagarty staff the Whatcom Writers and Publishers table

Kiffer Brown of Chanticleer Reviews and Amanda June Hagarty staff the Whatcom Writers and Publishers table.

Suzanne Paola at the author book signing

Suzanne Paola, who spoke on writing the book proposal, talks to a writer at the author book signing.

Each of the three years of the conference, my role has been different: I was the Emcee the first time out, attended as a Faculty Member last year (read about my talk on storyboarding), and this year was invited back as a Special Guest Presenter to give a morning briefing on how to pitch (you can read the text of my talk in the post Pitching 101). It was truly heartwarming to have writers run up to me throughout both days to report that they’d “done what I said” and had a successful pitching experience. I felt like a proud mama!

WWC Librarian Linda Lambert with Gary Luke, Publisher of Sasquatch Books

WWC Librarian Linda Lambert with Gary Luke, Publisher of Sasquatch Books.

Hardworking agent Elizabeth Kracht takes a break from hearing pitches - to read manuscripts!

Hardworking agent Elizabeth Kracht takes a break from hearing pitches – to read manuscripts!

Naseem Rahka at the author book signing

Naseem Rahka at the author book signing.

Paul Hanson, who may have teared up a bit after Naseem's talk - like we all did.

Paul Hanson shows off his copy of the conference Program Book.

While I’ve loved my involvement each year, I have to say that this year was great fun in that I got to actually attend a lot of faculty presentations, which were awesome! Those of you who emcee know that means you spend a lot of time backstage and often cannot hear the speakers, and if you show up to teach, well, then you have to have your act together and work hard to deliver a good class. This year my “job” was over by 9:45 a.m. the first day, so I happily cruised into everyone else’s sessions without that “do I have all my notes and slides in order?” feeling.

Conference organizer Shandeen Gemanis, former Conference Chairperson Linda Howson, and Conference Chairperson Anna Wolff

Conference organizer Shandeen Gemanis, former Conference Chairperson Linda Howson, and Conference Chairperson Anna Wolff.

Faculty member Bruce Beasley, who spoke on poetry and the art of revision, talks to a writer.

Faculty member, the poet Bruce Beasley, who spoke on poetry and the art of revision, talks to a writer.

This year I enjoyed several standout moments, just of few of which included Garth Stein‘s inspiring opening speech reminding us to aim high, Alice Acheson‘s info-packed presentation on marketing positioning key to any writer’s life, Jeff Bender‘s screamingly funny spin on the Odyssey at the faculty reading, Naseem Rahka‘s moving speech about the Grand Canyon that brought many people to tears, getting some advice on how to position my memoir project Mean Pieces from faculty member, poet and WWU professor Bruce Beasley, a chance to visit with Publisher Gary Luke of Sasquatch Books about my Little Novelist project, seeing so many of my friends and past students (truly, one and the same) at the conference, and reconnecting at the evening faculty reception with conference buddy and talented agent Elizabeth Kracht, in what we have laughingly dubbed our annual “womance.”

With Dee Robinson, co-owner of Village Books

With Dee Robinson, beloved co-owner of Village Books.

The on-site Village Bookstore was open both days of the conference.

The on-site Village Bookstore was open both days of the conference.

A writer quietly celebrates a very successful day - three pitches resulting in agents wanting to see her text!

A writer quietly celebrates a very successful day – three pitches resulting in agents wanting to see her text!

A particularly hilarious moment was watching conference chairperson Anna Wolff take a desperate and yet successful flying leap to keep the theater doors from loudly slamming shut during Naseem’s plenary session. Way to go, Anna!

Writers sign up for the Open Mics.

Writers sign up for the Open Mics held in historic Fairhaven WA.

Writers at the author book signing

Writers mingle at the outdoor author book signing on the gorgeous Whatcom Community College campus.

With Jeff Bender

With faculty member and writing teacher Jeff Bender, who gave a fantastically funny modern take on the Odyssey at the faculty reading. I have never loved Homer so much!

The Chuckanut Writers Conference will be back in June of next year. Hope to see you there!

dogpatch-dog-pug-face• Read more from me at Dogpatch Writers Collective, including the latest group critique of Jilanne Hoffman’s story “The Hippocratic Oath,” and don’t miss Hellos from the Hague, a great guest post from Cecile’s Writers, an awesome group of writers and editors those of us at Dogpatch met in the blogosphere.

Little-Novelist-cover3-251x300• My new class, the Little Novelist Workshop, is happening on Saturday, November 2, at WCC Community Education campus in Bellingham. I’m so excited for this class that is designed for a parent/caretaker and girl—age 12 through teens who loves to write. Parents will gain techniques for interacting with their child’s creative writing activity and participate in guided discussions with fellow parents and caretakers. Girls will have fun writing to prompts, gathering in a writing circle of their peers, and reading work aloud. The cost is $59, and registration will begin August 9. Go to http://www.whatcomcommunityed.com or call 360-383-3200 for all class details or to register.

VB-by-day1-199x300• Join me at the next Open Mic at Village Books on Monday, July 29, 7 p.m., where our optional theme will be Patriots and Politics! Come to hear some great poems and stories, and if you’d like to read, please call Village Books (360-671-2626) ahead of time to sign up to read, as the roster is usually packed! Happy writing, XO Laurel Leigh

19 thoughts on “Pics from 2013 Chuckanut Writers Conference

  1. Pingback: Chuckanut Writers Conference Is Calling! | Dear Writers

  2. Pingback: June 2013 Open Mic at Village Books a.k.a. “Night of the Shags” | Dear Writers

    • Hi Shakti,
      Thank you for that question. I think a conference experience is a two-way street, in that attending prompts one to both contribute in a meaningful fashion, whether it’s through presenting, expanding one’s writing community, or taking a moment to give a newer writer a bit of encouragement. Those aspects are probably the most rewarding for me in the case of this particular conference, where I’ve had different responsibilities each time. Not to mention I learn something and am inspired each time I attend another writer’s presentation or class. All best, LL

  3. Enjoyed yakking with writers out in the book sellers and organizations row. What a great collection of writing groups and educational resources. I ended up manning four writer’s groups in a row.

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