A few hundred writers strolled onto the scene of this year’s Chuckanut Writers Conference. It was the coolest.
Show don’t tell, as we love to say.
OK, maybe a little telling:
This delightful gang of four is representative of the general mood of the day. They’re sitting on the fountain in the gorgeous plaza of Whatcom Community College, the site and co-sponsor of the conference in collaboration with Village Books.
Guggenheim Fellow Bruce Barcott delivered the opening keynote speech this year, boosting both our minds and spirit, to borrow his own words. I also borrowed this pic from Boise State University’s site, since the one I took didn’t turn out. But since I’m from Idaho originally, I’m hoping they’ll forgive me. Go Bruce (and go Broncos)!
My Friday morning mission, which I chose to accept, was to host the Agent, Publisher, and Marketing Panel, featuring (l to r) literary agents Felicia Eth and Elizabeth Wales, publishing consultant Alice Acheson, and Sasquatch Books publisher Gary Luke. From the outside trying to peek in over the transom, the submission process can seem daunting. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who appreciated the great advice and friendly demeanor of this foursome.
The breakout sessions throughout the day were packed: with writers and fantastic info. Since multiple sessions run at once, the hardest part is picking which ones to attend!
One of the fantastic ones I dropped in on was a panel with William Kenower (author of the lauded Write Within Yourself) and Claire Dederer (author of the bestselling memoir Posers). In the middle is a familiar face: Chuck Robinson of Village Books was the host of this very lively discussion about writing the most difficult thing. I came away truly inspired!
In between sessions, I cruised the hallways, where writers were chatting, buying books at the Village Books onsite shop, or getting to meet their favorite author.
Seattle-based Hedgebrook was on the scene, as was the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, Whatcom Writers and Publishers, Red Wheelbarrow Writers, and a host of local and regional writing organizations. The hallway cruise alone is worth the entry ticket fee.
Of course, I stopped to chat with Mary Gillilan, the beloved editor of Clover: A Literary Rag, published by the Independent Writers’ Studio. Clover will host a reading from its current issue on September 21 at 4 p.m. at Village Books. I hope to see you there!
I stopped to take a totally un-posed pic of Chuck Robinson and Paul Hanson of Village Books. We might need a calendar if this keeps up!
Yep, we need a calendar. Could it get any cuter than this? Rumor has it, a couple agent pitches went pretty well on this day.
If you’ve been at the conference, you know that one of the true highlights is the faculty reading night on Friday. Let the show begin!
It was a treat to hear from the fabulous David Laskin, author of The Family: Three Journeys Into the Heart of the Twentieth Century. David’s breakout session was on bridging family history and history, which he then demonstrated superbly.
Joanna Kenyon had us mesmerized with her story about not talking.
The incomparable Jim Lynch gave us a hilarious preview of his upcoming book, Before the Wind. (See my recent post about Jim over at the Dogpatch.) And that’s just a snippet of the fabulous lineup of readings. If you are one of the unfortunate souls who wasn’t there, there’s always next year. I’ll save you a seat in aisle three.
Maybe the only thing more fun than the first day of a writing conference is the second day of a writing conference.
Conference Emcee Bob Winters (L) and Jeff Bender stopped for a Chaucerly chat. Jeff hosted a panel on adventures in narrative design; he is a former faculty member of the CWC. In fact, I never laughed so hard as hearing his modern comedic version of The Odyssey at the faculty reading that year.
Poet Tsena Paulson was on hand. She gave a beautiful reading at the CWC-sponsored open mic Saturday night.
Repeat conference goers all know some of the original team who started this conference and have worked hard each year to make it a wonderful gathering for writers. Shandeen Gemanis, Denny Howson, and Linda Howson (the inaugural chair of the conference) spread some smiles around.
And current conference chair Anna Wolff checks in with the team at the info counter. Anna and the team work so hard so that we can all have a blast. Well, someone has to. 🙂
After working extremely hard all day, we promise!, everyone headed downstairs for an informal reception and chance to mingle and get books signed. Before heading down though, it was important to take care of key details, like grabbing a beer ticket. The identity of this man has been withheld. It’s most likely not Gary Luke from Sasquatch.
The party got started, writer style. We stood around and talked about, well, writing. And books. Reading books.
The party moved to beautiful Fairhaven, where CWC sponsored concurrent open mics. This is the view from an outdoor balcony above Village Books.
Some of the faculty (here’s a smiling Elaina Ellis (L) and Anastacia Tolbert) stopped by Chuck and Dee Robinson’s house for a farewell faculty gathering. Until next year! The 2015 Chuckanut Writers Conference will be June 26 and 27 in gorgeous Bellingham, Washington. See you there! XO Laurel Leigh