June 22*-24, 2017(*Preconference events on June 22)

2017 Program Overview | Whatcom Community College

The Chuckanut Writers Conference pre-conference events start on Thursday, June 22 at 1:00 PM with Master Classes. The Chuckanut Radio Hour starts at 6:30 PM.

Conference check-in opens Friday, June 23 at 9:00 AM. The conference begins at 10:00 AM with featured speakers and multiple breakout craft sessions, extending into an early evening reception with readings and signings by faculty author presenters. The program continues Saturday, June 24 with a full day of author sessions, panels, and an additional book signing. The conference concludes Saturday evening with concurrent open mics for conference attendees at venues in Bellingham’s historic Fairhaven district.

Plan to arrive by 9:30 AM (or earlier) to park, check in, receive conference materials, and proceed to Heiner Theater for the Welcome/Opening Address beginning promptly at 10:00 AM.

Village Books Conference Bookstore will be open throughout the conference. As co-presenter of the Chuckanut Writers Conference, Village Books will be the exclusive on-site bookseller throughout the conference and will have titles by the faculty authors available for purchase. Village Books is a community-based, independent bookstore located in the historic Fairhaven district of Bellingham, where it has celebrated building community one book at a time since 1980.

Agent pitch sessions, marketing consultations, and editing consultations will be scheduled concurrently with other sessions throughout the conference. Pre-registration for pitch sessions and consultations is required. There will be no sign-ups during the conference.

Thursday | June 22, 2017

Pre-Conference Master Classes

1:00 – 4:00 
Prose Style: Writing Virtuoso Sentences to Increase the Power of Your Prose | 
Priscilla Long 

World-class writers use all the sentence forms, and they use particular forms not at random but to intensify meaning and deepen emotion. This session in developing virtuoso skills in sentencing is designed for writers of all levels—from beginner to advanced— interested in revising across several short works or across a book-in-progress. Virtuoso sentences not only say what they mean but also enact their meaning. They expand or contract a bit like a muscle. Thus in tense situations, muscles go tense (shorten). In putting such a situation on the page, short sentences and short words intensify the tension. This session will lay out a number of strategies for working with your prose at the sentence level, from working with the vowel scale to intensifying a sense of ease or authority or trauma with the form of the sentence itself. We will work on virtuoso openings and other matters. Bring one or two pieces of prose you are working on.

1:00 – 5:00 
Exploring the Boarded-Up Houses of Your Triggering Towns  |
Tod Marshall

In this master class, we’ll try to push a little harder on Richard Hugo’s paradigm of writing through a triggering town to “get beyond” that initiating source of inspiration. First, we’ll explore the gritty details of life experiences, the sordid news of the world (from our own lives and the lives of others) and see how those events, experiences, traumas and travails might find a way into our writing. Sharon Olds often ties her practice to the Gospel of Thomas (and the notion of bringing forth that which is painful within you in order to exorcise it); we’ll explore some poets who seem attracted to this aesthetic—Olds, McKibbens, Diaz, and others--and try to bring forth drafts that might originate in subject matter that makes us a little uncomfortable. After this challenging immersion, we’ll step back from this raw and grim material and think about the surrealist writers who sometimes recast the most awful of subjects in imaginative, even playful ways. We’ll use their magical sparks (sometimes silly, sometimes not) to jumpstart (or recharge ) the battery of our own metaphoric engines and, hopefully, find some creative ways to recast, re-see, revise the work that we generated in the first part of this class. To help us with this work, we’ll look at a range of generative exercises aimed at (to continue in the electric mode) short-circuiting rational practices and, perhaps, allow our creativity to arrive at places that we might not have anticipated when we began the day dredging up such challenging and fraught material.

6:30 – 9:00 | Pre-Conference Event: The Chuckanut Radio Hour

The Chuckanut Radio Hour, a recipient of Bellingham’s prestigious Mayor’s Arts Award, will host a special Chuckanut Writers Conference focused episode of its signature radio variety show at Whatcom Community College’s Heiner Theater. Doors open and music begins at 6:30 p.m. The show starts at 7:00 sharp! This not-to-be-missed pre-conference event is included with your conference registration, but does require you to register by June 20 for guaranteed seating. Tickets will also be available to the public for $5 through Village Books and at the event, space permitting. We anticipate a full house for this Radio Hour, so pre-registration is strongly encouraged! More details to come!

Friday | June 23, 2017

9:00 – 10:00 | Conference Check-In in Syre Center Lobby

9:15 – 9:45 | Optional Info Session: Getting the Most Out of Your Conference

Join Conference Planner Paul Hanson in an optional info session on how to get the most out of your conference!

10:00 – 11:00 | Conference Welcome and Opening Address

Conference Welcome | Emcee, Bob Winters

Opening Address | Anis Mojgani

11:15 – 12:15 | Breakout Session 1

Agent and Marketing Panel Discussion and Q&A

The Elements of Plot | Jonathan Evison

Becoming a More Effective Creator | Priscilla Long

The Elastic Boundaries of Nonfiction | Tod Marshall

I Thought Hard For Us All...Then Pushed Her Over the Edge: Moral Dilemmas as Narrative | Kathleen Dean Moore

12:15 – 1:30 | Lunch

Pre-ordered box lunches available for pick-up in Syre Auditorium. Other lunch options include food trucks, the Dockside Café in Syre Center or nearby eateries—visit the concierge desk for recommendations.

1:30-2:15 | Writers Studio Plenary Session

Punching the Clock -- Fiction's Dependence on Time, and Why We Must Surrender to and Resist its Tyranny | Samuel Ligon

2:30 – 4:00 | Breakout Session 2

What Else Is Also True? | Elizabeth Austen

Points of View | Waverly Fitzgerald

Rewriting Fairy Tales | Kelly Magee

Writing Off Topic: The Art of Beating Around the Bush| Rena Priest

4:00 – 7:30 | Reception, Faculty Reading, and Book Signing

A highlight of the conference!

Be sure to join us for a chance to mingle and converse with authors and fellow attendees, and take advantage of the opportunity to get your books signed. And of course, you won’t want to miss the truly riveting and inspiring readings of our incredible faculty! Appetizers and a no-host bar with beer and wine will be provided.

Saturday | June 24, 2017

9:00 – 9:45 | Early Morning Sessions

More information on early morning sessions to come! 

9:45-10:00 | Announcements

Emcee, Bob Winters

10:15 – 11:15 | Concurrent Author Panels

More information on author panels to come! 

11:30-12:15 | Writers Studio Plenary Session

Getting Beyond "I Like": A Contrarian Take on the Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback | Elizabeth Austen

The need for validation and encouragement is real, and peer critique groups and facilitated workshops can spur writers' development. But giving and receiving feedback is a skill that requires thought and practice. This talk will posit some opinions about what makes for a useful, encouraging critique group and what gets in the way.

12:15-1:30 | Lunch

Pre-ordered box lunches available for pick up in the Syre Auditorium. Other lunch options include food trucks, the Dockside Café in Syre Center or nearby eateries—visit the concierge desk for recommendations.

1:30 – 2:30 | Breakout Session 4

The Nonfiction Novel? What Does That Mean Exactly? How Do You Write One? | Daniel James Brown 

Magical Realism as Truth Telling in Poetry | Anis Mojgani

Social Media as a Medium | Ijeoma Oluo

The Slush Pile Derby: Meaning Before Form | Andy Ross

I frequently find that I can tell on the first page of a submission, sometimes on the first paragraph, if the author has the kind of talent that I am looking for. In this class, I will present first paragraphs of submissions from my slush pile (unsolicited queries). Some of them I rejected. Some of them I chose to represent. And some of those were published. We will discuss each of the selections and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. I’ll ask the participants to put themselves in the role of agents and decide whether they would like to see more of the material or pass on it. It’s a lot of fun and a good way to understand what makes good writing good.

2:45 – 3:45 | Breakout Session 5

Insider Insights and Answers | Alice Acheson

Storylines in Fact and Fiction: Clues in the Public Record | Paula Becker 

How to Develop Material | Dan Larner

Short Fiction and the Inverted Time Telescope |
Samuel Ligon 

Poetry of Witness | Gary Copeland Lilley

4:00 – 4:30 | Closing Address

Write for Your Life: A Call | Kathleen Dean Moore

4:30 – 5:00 | Faculty Book Signing

Last chance to mingle with authors and get your books signed!

7:00 – 8:30 | Open Mics

At Various Locations in Fairhaven. Please sign up in the Syre Center Foyer.