Write on: Edmonds writers conference as popular as ever

Event is Sept. 30-Oct. 2
By Brian Soergel | Sep 30, 2016
Photo by: Shannon Black Former Steering Committee chairwoman Joanne Otness, right, speaks with authors Kathrin Lake, left, and Stella Cameron.

In the early 1980s, the Edmonds Arts Commission and commissioner Ann Saling had a big idea: Let’s bring writers of all levels to Edmonds, a community with a zeal and appreciation for the literary arts.

In 1986, Write on the Sound arrived as a one-day event for writers, and would-be writers, to build on their style and skill, discover a new genre and gather up-to-date information on current publishing industry trends.

Ten years later, it expanded to two full days. Today, it’s three full days, and the 31st annual edition begins Friday, Sept. 30, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 2.

Most events are at the Frances Anderson Center.

“Ann wanted to have a gathering place for writers to be able to come together,” said Frances Chapin, Edmonds’ arts and culture manager and member of the Edmonds Arts Commission.

Saling, who died at age 88 in 2009, was honored at the conference’s 25th anniversary.

Although the conference has expanded in size and stature – attendees arrive from throughout Puget Sound and even out of state – one aspect remains the same: It remains a relatively small event, to give attendees a more intimate experience with writers and editors.

About 100 people attended the first Write on the Sound. Today it’s capped at 270. It sells out every year so could no doubt take on more paying customers, but Chapin said its small scale is part of the appeal.

Its limited enrollment size, she said, makes it an intimate and casual experience, perfect for sparking creativity, sharing ideas and networking with other writers.

“It’s focused on the craft of writing. It’s for writers honing their skills, writers of all levels,

Those just starting out, those writing for years, those already published, those just expanding their skills.”

The 31st annual conference offers more than 30 workshops on craft, marketing, publishing and specialty writing topics. Attendees can have their manuscripts reviewed by a critique expert or submit a short piece in a literary contest for a cash prize.

Friday’s pre-conference workshop features Margie Lawson, an editor and international presenter, as well as three other authors.

John Moe is Saturday’s keynote speaker, a published humorist whose presentation is titled “Better Writing Through Making Yourself Miserable.” He’s written three books: “Dear Luke, We Need to Talk,” “The Deleted Emails of Hillary Clinton” and “Conservatize Me.” He has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Seattle Times and Seattle Weekly. He will speak at the Edmonds Theater.

Among the many other authors presenting are James Thayer, Boyd Morrison, Mindy Hardwick and Tod Marshall, a poet and professor at Gonzaga University and current Washington state poet laureate.

Past presenters have included David Guterson, Elizabeth George, Timothy Egan, Anne Lamott, Knute Berger, J.A. Jance, Jonathan Raban and Carla Neggers.

Public events

Although the conference is open only to those who registered, there are two chances for the general public to get a taste of the literary life. Both are free. A scheduled talk by artist Tina Randolf on Sunday has been cancelled.

• 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30: Poet laureate Tod Marshall will speak at 5 p.m. at the Edmonds Library.

• 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1: Book-signing reception in the library plaza room onsite bookstore. Edmonds Bookshop will have books from presenters available at the event.

Chapin said the conference relies on its volunteers and sponsors.

“The volunteers put in a huge amount of time, and the steering committee works all year long to work with staff to get our presenters.

“Other conferences focus on connections, getting writers with agents and publishers. That’s not what we do. We focus on the craft of writing. That’s our niche.”

For more information, go to www.writeonthesound.com.







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