Summer in Words

Writing Conference

Summer in Words 2011 schedule

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Friday, June 24

 8:30-9:00 Registration

9:00-10:30 Narrative Voice, Jessica Morrell Narrative Voice is a term for the person telling the story. In nonfiction it’s the writer; in fiction your options for voice are many. This workshop will explain the potency, power, and truth found in voice and go on to explain how to achieve an accurate and credible voice it in your own work. We’ll also discuss that it isn’t so much what is said…as how it said that brings a reader into a story.

 10:45-12:15 The Art of Research and the Research of Art, Randall Platt Research is the hardest task of all in writing. Libraries, experts, history departments, Aunt Sadie—you can find resources everywhere and on every subject. But who do you trust and how reliable is the Internet? How does a writer discover what ladies wore as undergarments in the 1880s and where does he or she find information? This workshop will provide solid advice on where to find the truth and facts of everyday life that bring storytelling to life.

12:15-1:30 Free Time Walk on the beach, bring a lunch and meet other participants, or eat out at Cannon Beach’s many fabulous restaurants.

1:30-3 pm Private Lies, Emily Whitman Our characters aren’t just keeping secrets from each other; they’re keeping the most powerful secrets from themselves. What they refuse or cannot see creates an inner tension that fuels the story’s drive and plot. You, the author, are a detective, ferreting out those secrets and structuring your reveal for maximum effect. Maybe you’re even keeping some secrets from yourself. We’ll discuss how to slip past a character’s defenses, and your own, in the name of growth, strength, and a ripping good story. 

3:15-4:45 What Editors Want, Adam O’Connor Rodriguez Adam O’Connor Rodriguez will discuss cover letters and manuscript presentation. He’ll reveal what editors love to see in a submission and what they hate to see. Workshop participants are encouraged to bring their cover letters and other submission materials. Adam will also answer questions about the submission process.

 6:30-8:30 Writer’s Circle Reception Sip a glass of wine and listen to Deborah Reed discuss how she landed a three-book publishing deal with My Way: Risk, Truth & Lies

Saturday, June 26

9:00-10:30 Turning Life into Stories, Jessica Morrell Sometimes the worst excuse in writing is “it really happened.” So then how do you select events from your life and turn them into compelling stories? How do you find the emotional truth of the human condition without preaching or resorting to melodrama? Learn how to navigate between truth and lies and reveal how to select compelling details from the everyday world.

10:45-12:15 Paring it Down to the Truth, Emily Whitman “Make every word count.” You hear it all the time, but how do you do it? Whether you tend to write long and then slash, or pithy and then add, you need to cut the dross in that final draft. Paring it down doesn’t always mean cutting it short: pacing and rhythm matter. Years of writing educational passages with strict word limits have taught Emily a thing or two about trimming down to the essentials. This workshop will look at the tricks and tools at your disposal, from the concrete to the conceptual.

12:30-1:30 Lunch and Keynote by Cheryl Strayed The Fearless Place The best writers dare to tell the whole, complicated, beautiful and ugly truth. In this talk, Cheryl Strayed will discuss how and why she goes to the fearless place in her own writing and how and why other writers have done the same. She’ll address the reasons for taking risks on the page and the consequences of doing so. She’ll also offer tips and techniques to push your own writing beyond the comfort zone. Her lecture will be followed by a brief Q & A.

1:45-3:15 What Lies Beneath: Using Plot to Reveal Characters, Bill Johnson In life many people adopt or create a public persona that they project and live behind, for better or worse, a kind of internal marriage of convenience. In a powerful story, plot is used to break through the interwoven lies, superficial alliances and delusions that prop up a public persona, allowing a story’s readers to experience deeply felt, authentic characters. This workshop will explain how to use a plot to expose the surface lives of a story’s characters.

3:30-5:00 The Art of Revelation Cheryl Strayed Memoir isn’t about the interesting experiences we’ve had; it’s about the meaning we’ve made of them. Often, this meaning is conveyed through revelation—the moment when the narrator understands a truth that was previously unknown. The revelatory moment is perhaps the most important scene in any essay or story and for that reason it’s often the hardest one to write. Cheryl Strayed will discuss the art of writing complex and meaningful revelations and she’ll also lead participants in writing exercises designed to help them discover their own.

6:30 Out Loud Participants read from works-in-progress in a supportive atmosphere.

Sunday, June 26

9:00 Continental Breakfast and keynote by Randall Platt Congratulations!! What To Do After the Hangover Wears Off You’re going to be published at last. After you celebrate, what do you do next? You promote, that’s what. Who to contact, how to contact, how loud to tout your own horn.

10:00-11 Q & A with Bill Johnson, Randall Platt, Jessica Morrell, Writing from your Heart and Fire

11-11:30 Wrap up, raffle drawing


Author: jessicapage2

Jessica Page Morrell lives in Portland, Oregon where she is surrounded by writers and watches the sky all its moods and shades. She’s the author of Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us, A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected; Bullies, Bastards & Bitches, How to Write the Bad Guys in Fiction; The Writer’s I Ching: Wisdom for the Creative Life, Voices from the Street; Between the Lines: Master The Subtle Elements Of Fiction Writing; and Writing Out the Storm. Morrell works as a highly-sought after developmental editor because if your characters are a bundle of quirks and inconsistencies, or the plot stalls and the scenes don’t flow, these problems need to be unriddled before you submit it to an agent or editor. She also works on memoirs and nonfiction books with a special focus on logic and voice. She began teaching writers in 1991 and now teaches through a series of workshops in the Northwest and at writing conferences throughout North America and lectures to various writing organizations. She is the former writing expert at which was voted as one of the best 101 sites for writers. In 2008 she founded Summer in Words, a yearly writing conference held on the Oregon coast. She hosts a Web site at, and she’s written a monthly column about topics related to writing since 1998 that currently appears in The Willamette Writer. She also contributes to The Writer and Writers Digest magazines, writes a monthly e-mail newsletter, The Writing Life, and a Web log at

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