Whidbey Island writers group readies for annual conference

Dorothy Read, Jan Lautenbach and Teresa McElhinney review submissions for the 2013 Whidbey Island Writers Conference. - Celeste Erickson/The South Whidbey Record
Dorothy Read, Jan Lautenbach and Teresa McElhinney review submissions for the 2013 Whidbey Island Writers Conference.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson/The South Whidbey Record

The Whidbey Island Writers Association has an inspiring task — to help self-described non-writers develop into writers.

The association’s mission is to help sharpen the skills of writers of all ages, said Dorothy Read, member of the association and Spirit of Writing contest leader.

“We want to take them from where they are and help them grow,” she said.

The group has many resources available with its new Bayview location, including classes, contests and conferences. The group’s upcoming 15th annual conference, the 2013 Whidbey Island Writers Conference, will be held Oct. 25-27 in Coupeville.

This year, the conference is placing emphasis on young writers, an effort led by Nicole Persun, and workshops that define the female voice and songwriting. One of the most distinct aspects at the event are chat houses that will feature a handful of homes near Coupeville. Each is limited to 20 participants to provide one-on-one time with presenters. Workshops are held at the Coupeville High School.

Conference director Kim Cottrell said one of the goals of the conference is to provide the most cutting-edge information to writers.

“In today’s changing environment where everything is so electronic, it’s important to stay on top of it,” Cottrell said.

Having critiques and interacting with writers who have that experience, and know how to get their pitch, is a popular topic at the conference, she said.

Cottrell is excited about Write Night on Saturday evening, Oct. 26, at Jenne Farm, 538 S. Engle Road, in Coupeville. The event will feature a live concert by Ian Moore, keynote speaker Karen Finneyfrock and a poetry slam. The evening benefits the group’s new Youth Writing Program. The event will be open to public for $20.

Freeland resident Hannah McConnaughey, 16, has been to the conference twice and is planning to return this year.

“It’s so inspiring to hear success stories,” she said. “The presenters especially have so much great advice ... it’s almost overwhelming.”

McConnaughey hopes to build on what she has learned in previous conferences and contests through the Whidbey Island Writers Association as well. In 2011, she entered an adult writing category in the Spirit of Writing Contest as a 13-year-old. She wanted criticism and feedback without being judged on the basis of her age.

Her work paid off — she received positive feedback, praising her use of vocabulary along with constructive criticism. She said the contest helped expose her to new works and writers while developing her own style.

“I have no limits,” McConnaughey said.

For details on the conference visit, Submissions for the Spirit of Writing Contest are due Oct. 13. For more information on the contest visit,


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