Welcome to Willamette Writers

2020 Conference Highlights


Willamette Writers 51st Annual Conference
July 31 – Aug 2, 2020

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Cheryl Strayed, keynote

"If we were handed a job description, if people would deign to pay us a salary, it would be to tell the truth. Writers are truth tellers”

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Alex Dang, keynote

"History will always reveal who is right and who is wrong. But sometimes we have to really, really go in and interrogate that history."

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Rosanne Parry, keynote

"The joy is in the striving. There is no prize at the end of the book that will compensate for not loving the process. So- Attend To Your Joy. Dwell on your own delight. Revel in the company of your fellow creatives. Spend these brief hours and days of your life in a worthy cause."

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Mitchell S. Jackson, keynote

"I very much want to make sociopolitical statements, and am always challenging myself to do so in a way that’s beautiful. "

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Zoraida Córdova

“…Ink is etched so deep in my skin that I can’t be made of anything else but stories.”

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Bill Kenower

“The story that wants to be told will find its way to you.”

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K. Tempest Bradford

"Do the work to think about the world that surrounds your character. It’s on you not to make them a token."

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Pete Souza, keynote

"I have had the extraordinary privilege of being the man in the room for eight years..."

-Obama: An Intimate Portrait

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Wow! What an amazing online conference!

We had the best time at the 51st annual Willamette writers conference. From our keynotes, to our workshops, to our networking and community events, it was a weekend we will never forget.

And it was all online! Thank you to all of our volunteers, faculty, and industry professionals who made the weekend possible.

Catch up with us on Twitter: @Wilwrite

2020 Conference Feedback

That’s a wrap!

One of the best conferences in the world…

“This is truly one of the best conferences in the world. The fact that Willamette Writers pulled this off during Covid is remarkable.”  —April Eberhardt, agent

Pulled out all the stops…

Awesome, fun, inspiring…

…it was awesome, fun, inspiring and looking forward to seeing each and every one of you again. You are a wonderful group and this was a fantastic intro to the Willamette Writers. See you next time! —Cheers, Rosemary (writing as RD Fiori)

Resonant with the warmth of community…

Thank you! The conference was a great experience, resonant with the warmth of community. Terrific speakers, master classes, and workshops! WW did a fantastic job of creating safe, inviting virtual spaces. Looking forward to upcoming offerings and future volunteering. —Cheers, Greta

Three poems, a short story and a submission…

Classy, well run conference…

As always, thank you all for putting on a classy, well run conference with excellent speakers!! It has definitely been worth my time!!  —Karen, Ashland, Oregon

Another knockout conference…

I just wanted to thank everybody at Willamette Writers for another knockout conference. I’ve been going for 20+ years, and it’s always interesting, entertaining, and enlightening. Thanks especially to the folks who had to deal with Zoom’s… everything. I caught a bit of behind-the-scenes Zoom wrangling Sunday morning, and I’m very glad it was you…

Beyond grateful…

Amidst the pandemic, bright spots can be few and far between. When we find those moments of connection and grace, we hold them close. I am beyond grateful to attend the 51st Willamette Writers Conference this weekend from my home in Austin. Three days with fellow writers, all of us sharing our stories and struggling…

Excellent job all around

Thank you for everything! I couldn’t believe it was the first time you’ve done it all virtually because everything was so smooth. Excellent job all around. Couldn’t have been better! Scott

Great, great conference…

Excellent conference!  You guys are the best! …Thanks again for a wonderful job and a great, great conference.  —Paul


Amazed by everything I learned at WilWrite20…

Member News

Member News: Supercosmic Power through Small Presses

How much would you give to sit down with a traditionally published author and pick their brain about the ins and outs of working with a small press? How about two? Grab a notebook, a pen, and a magic lamp to harness some incredible insight from two of The Parliament House’s most successful authors: Jason…

Member News: Midnight Beach, Port Stirling Mystery Series Book 2

Midnight Beach, Book 2 in the Port Stirling Mystery Series is available now. A brutally murdered federal agent and distrust among his close colleagues greet Port Stirling Police Chief Matt Horning as he faces down a second homicide in his new Oregon hometown. Native Oregonian Kay Jennings is back with book two in her exciting…

Member News: Nancy Lane to Present at an Annie Bloom’s Books Event

Nancy Lane will introduce her debut short story collection, Pretty Chrysanthemum and Other Stories, published by Open Books Publishing, on Monday, September 28 at 7:00 PM., during a livestream event hosted by Annie Bloom’s Books. These sixteen stories remind readers how family is at the core of human experience and how relationships, especially between parent…

Member News: Catherine A. Hamilton’s Fall Author Events

Join Willamette Writers member and author Catherine A. Hamilton for these live and virtual events celebrating her debut novel, Victoria’s War: Book Club Event: September 21, 2020 at 6:30 Live Chat with Author Catherine A. Hamilton “Read A Little Wine A Lot” book club is hosting a discussion of the novel. Livestream Virtual Reading: September…

Member News: These Several Women – A New Poetry Collection

Cristina White’s new book is These Several Women: Love Poems, a collection of poetry about love, desire, and memory. All those who have been in love, who have known passion and heartbreak, will find an echo of their own memories here. And if you are a woman in love with another woman, somewhere in these…

Member News: Blog posts published on two Mario Vargas Llosa novels

Ivonne Saed published blog posts about Death in the Andes and The Storyteller — two novels by acclaimed Nobel prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa. The latter is part allegory of Dionysus and Ariadne, part historical/political fiction about Shining Path influence on the Peruvian Andes. The latter is also part allegory and part pseudo-autobiographical/ historical fiction…

Member News: Storm Beat Virtual Launch Party

Oregon State University and the Hoffman Center for the Arts present the virtual launch of Lori Tobias’ Storm Beat – A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast with Dave Dillon interviewing Tobias on Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. Register here. Journalist Lori Tobias arrived on the Oregon coast in 2000. After freelancing from Newport for…

Member News: First Book Published

Christina Reagle’s Life at Fifty Below Zero: An Alaskan Memoir on Teaching and Learning is a memoir about one woman’s Alaskan journey, beginning in 1972 as she accompanied her husband to teach in a small rural village. The transition from the job interview in a San Francisco hotel room—” Do you know what a honey…

Member News: Kay Snow Award Winner’s First Creative Publication!

Barb Lachenbruch’s essay, “The Physics of Connection and Solitude,” was published in High Country News online and will be in the September print edition. “There is no law of physics to explain the transfer of emotions, no equation to describe the difference between what I send and what my father receives. I need that equation…

Member News: The Unanswered Letter Released September 1, 2020

An untold Holocaust story 75 years after WWII award-winning investigative journalist traveled across the globe to answer a family’s 1939 cry for help. Washington, D.C.—September 2, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of V-J Day, the official ending of World War II. Yet, there is an incredible story that has only now been uncovered by award-winning…

Join a Meeting or a Workshop Near You

All Writers Welcome! Members & Full-Time Students Attend for Free!

Open Mic Night – Corvallis and Coast Chapters

September 28 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Join the Corvallis and Coast Chapters for our free Open Mic at 6:30 PM on September 28. We will be online in a webinar format. In order to login on the night of the event, go to the Willamette Writers Event Calendar: https://willamettewriters.org/event/open-mic-night-corvallis-and-coastal-chapters. Does the audience sigh? Do they gasp? Do they laugh outright? Does…

Online: Coffee at your Kitchen Table

September 29 @ 8:00 am - 8:45 am
Good morning, writer! Join us online for coffee and conversation at 8AM on Tuesday mornings. Click the link to join us: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86503764352?pwd=S3lPTjJCcU1Pc05kK2dEUU1abkdwQT09 Have a wonderful morning!

The Write Place: An Online Meeting for Productivity

October 1 @ 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Join us at the Write Place each week, online. Discuss goal setting and productivity while encouraging, supporting, and connecting with other writers.

Online: Coffee at your Kitchen Table

October 3 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Make a pot and pour your cup! Join us for coffee at your kitchen table — a chance to meet new friends and share a cup with fellow writers. All are welcome. To join the meeting, click this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85828271325?pwd=bzRQRTZsRlNVK3BxY2E2VFVJNjR0QT09

The Author’s Journey with Alethea Kontis

October 3 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
We hear about the “Hero’s Journey” in literature. Well, in real life, authors are heroes too! And we want to hear about those journeys! On Saturday, October 3, the Young Willamette Writers will welcome guest author Alethea Kontis at our Zoom meeting. Alethea will share with the YWW’s her journey as an author. Our group…

Online: Adding the Senses to Add Depth to Your Scenes with Mikko Azul

October 19 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Use the six senses to add depth and believability to your writing. Mikko will show us how to use your mindful imagination to identify everything in a scene: scents, tastes, sensations, and even those intangible senses to describe a scene and bring it to life. We also cover, as cautionary tale, metaphors, similes and adverbs.…




Writing Resources from Willamette Writers

Ellen Urbani’s Tips for a Successful Author Reading

By Willamette Writers Portland

Today, we’re bringing you a post from Ellen Urbani who was our closing keynote at the 2016 Willamette Writers Conference. In 2015, Ellen Urbani toured the South with her novel Landfall (Forest Avenue Press, 2015). The tour brought in overflow crowds and pushed Landfall up on…

Leading a Literary Life – Notes from WW Portland Meeting with Kevin Sampsell and Monica Drake

By Amy Foster Myer

Notes from the conversation between Kevin Sampsell And Monica Drake about leading a literary life at Willamette Writers Portland’s Monthly Meeting, February 07, 2017, by member Amy Foster Myer. In the month’s meeting in Portland, Kevin Sampsell and Monica Drake…

Don’t Wait! This Year is the Perfect Time to Become a Mentor

By Willamette Writers Portland

Do you mentor someone? What benefits of mentoring do you most enjoy? Have you ever thought of working with a young person in this way? Today, we’re delighted to share a blog post by long time member Stephanie Raffelock drawing from her…

DongWon Song at WilWrite Portland PDX Jan 2017 Photo Credit Gail Pasternack

Literary Agent DongWon Song on the A + B = Awesome Formula

By Amy Foster Myer

Notes from Agent DongWon Song’s Talk at Willamette Writers Portland’s Monthly Meeting, January 03, 2017, by member Amy Foster Myer. Willamette Writers launched 2017 with an excellent presentation and Q&A session in Portland with local agent DongWon Song, who agents for…

Jane Friedman in the Digital Age

By Maren Anderson

You’ve finished your book. It’s been a month, a year, a decade, but you’ve polished that baby, and now it sits gleaming on your desk begging to be shared with the world. What do you, author, do now? Send it…

What’s the Difference between One Genre and Another?

By Eric M. Witchey

Eric Witchey is presenting two talks at Willamette Writers in November, so we invited him to share some thoughts about writing with us. Check out Eric’s thoughts about genre, markets, literary fiction, and more.
What’s the Difference between One Genre and Another? The editor.
Lame joke? Not really.

WW News

Writing Advice from Zoraida Córdova

by Mari Hotchkiss An unusual career path. As a young child in Ecuador, Zoraida Córdova grew up listening to her grandmother’s stories that were filled with magic and wonder. At six years old, she immigrated to the United States with her mom and grandma, causing her to abandon her love of stories. “I stopped reading.…

Literary Agents at the 2020 Willamette Writers Conference Register now for our 2020 Conference, and meet these agents, along with other top notch industry professionals. You can register for a pitch or critique, and share your work with these pros. They are excited to hear from you. At the conference, you can join them in…

C.C. Humphreys, Best-Selling Author of Historical Fiction, Joins the Willamette Writers Conference

Chris “CC” Humphreys, author of ten historical novels, is joining the 2020 Willamette Writers Conference.

TV Development and Production with Grant Rosenberg

Grant Rosenberg, an accomplished film creator, will be joining the Willamette Writers Conference this August

We are proud to announce the speakers at the 51st Annual Willamette Writers Conference on July 31 – August 2, 2020!

Willamette Writers Authors at the Portland Book Festival

We are proud to be supporting these Willamette Writers member authors at this year’s Portland Book Festival on November 9th!   9AM-9:30AM  Dede Montgomery  Sue Fagalde Lick  Sharleen Nelson  Tasche Laine  9:30AM-10AM  Kerry Blaisdell  Kay Jennings  Phillip Kenney  Deni Starr  10AM-11AM  Paula Butterfield  Charley  Descoteaux  Marilyn McDonald  Holly Manno  11AM-12PM  Mazarine Treyz  Marilynne Eichinger  Rick George  Jo Sparkes  12PM-1PM  Ruby Lee Cornelius  Holly Manno  Bob Ferguson  Kim Hester  1PM-2PM  Anne Hendren  Jeff Stookey  R. Gregory Noakes  Heather Ames  2PM-3PM  Dawn Prochovnic  Julie  Dawn…

FiLMLaBtv 2019 Writer’s Room The 2019 winning script is “Stripes,” written by Alexandra Keister. Keister, an executive assistant and screenwriter, has written two feature-length screenplays, both romantic comedies, and a handful of short screenplays that range from dark sci-fi to the classically uplifting my-dog-is-dead story. She graduated from Oregon State University in 2012 with a BA…

Willamette Writers Authors Sign Books at The Portland Book Festival

by Ari Mathae Willamette Writers, the Portland literary community, and book lovers near and far will meet again Saturday 10, 2018, for the largest celebration of books in the Pacific Northwest: The Portland Book Festival. The event starts at 9 A.M. at the Portland Art Museum and continues there and at other neighboring venues in the…

Member News: Mary Andonian & David Poulshock launch ISA Third Thursdays

Mary Andonian & David Poulshock launch ISA Third Thursdays Members Mary and David are launching the local chapter of the International Screenwriters Association(ISA). It’s a monthly mixer for screenwriters on Third Thursdays, where you can mingle with fellow screenwriters, meet film and television industry professionals, and win door prizes — including a free Willamette Writer’s…

How To Happily Write A Query Letter

We’re excited that Bill Kenower is a member of the faculty at the upcoming Willamette Writers Conference. Bill is the author of Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence and Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion. In a blog he posted this past June, he shares his perspective on how he learned…

Wilwrite20 — The Willamette Writers Conference

Writing Advice from Zoraida Córdova

by Mari Hotchkiss An unusual career path. As a young child in Ecuador, Zoraida Córdova grew up listening to her grandmother’s stories that were filled with magic and wonder. At six years old, she immigrated to the United States with her mom and grandma, causing her to abandon her love of stories. “I stopped reading.…

Literary Agents at the 2020 Willamette Writers Conference Register now for our 2020 Conference, and meet these agents, along with other top notch industry professionals. You can register for a pitch or critique, and share your work with these pros. They are excited to hear from you. At the conference, you can join them in…

We are proud to announce the speakers at the 51st Annual Willamette Writers Conference on July 31 – August 2, 2020!

2019 Willamette Writers Conference Pitch Professionals We are proud to announce the industry professionals accepting pitches this year at our 50th annual Willamette Writers Conference. You will find a list of all our current industry professionals here. We are welcoming a fantastic group of agents, editors, manager, and producers, and the list will continue to…

Julie Whipple Book Signing at Powells

Julie Whipple will be reading and signing copies of her new book, Crash Course Join Julie Whipple at Powell’s downtown flagship store on West Burnside on Monday, August 20 at 7:30 (http://www.powells.com/book/-9780692070406#product_details) and award-winning audiobook narrator Heather Henderson for a special performance of excerpts from the book. Long-time Portland residents vividly recall the crash of…


We’re excited that Erick Mertz is a member of the faculty at the upcoming Willamette Writers Conference. Erick is a Portland-based ghostwriter and fiction/memoir manuscript consultant. Over the last five years as a full-time freelancer he has written manuscripts for a variety of clients. In a blog he posted this past December, he shares advice…

The 7 Things Writers Need to Make a Living by Sonia Simone

Written by SONIA SIMONE Reprinted with permission from Copyblogger.  If you’re a writer, you might have heard this most of your life: People don’t make a living writing. You should find something practical to do with your life. Smart, capable writers grimly pass around war stories on Facebook. Penny-a-word assignments, clients who don’t pay, disdain for our…

Open Mic Night at the Willamette Writers Conference

Open Mic night started at the Willamette Writers Conference in 2013, when I mentioned to the conference chair that I attended a really fun Open Mic Night at another writing conference. This launched us into a talk about how we could make one for Willamette Writers and how we could make it even better than…

What’s New at the Willamette Writers Conference

Welcome to our 2018 Conference! This year, our theme for The Best Three Days in Writing is “Celebrating Diverse Voices in Writing.” The whole team is really looking forward to what we’ve got in store for you all this August 3rd -5th. As you know, the conference has grown and changed much over its 49-year…

Experiences at The Willamette Writers Conference

“A writers conference can be an empowering and uplifting experience,” according to Scott Myers, a producer, writer, and assistant director. Myers presented at the Willamette Writers Conference this year, and said it was a “special experience.” He explains on his website about his conference experience that he met so many writers and old friends, and his classes were packed. His…