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CWC 2020 Online

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CWC 2020 Online 


Everything (well, almost everything!) you love about the Chuckanut Writers Conference, now online!

Browse our full program of virtual events scheduled to take place June 22-27, 2020. You can hear from accomplished writers on a wide variety of creative writing topics—all delivered remotely through Zoom.

If you require captioning or ASL interpreting to participate, please notify us by Monday, June 8, by calling 360.383.3200 or emailing


Breakout Sessions

Discover strategies and tips to take your writing projects to the next level in breakout sessions taught by our talented, generous conference faculty members. These one-hour breakout sessions are scheduled so you can register for as many as you like without scheduling conflicts. 


Loyalty Pricing: $10 per session (discounted rate for registrants of the 2021 Chuckanut Writers Conference; check email or call 360.383.3200 for coupon code)

Regular Pricing: $20 per session (reflects true cost of programming)

Supporter Pricing: $40 per session (support Chuckanut Writers Conference in providing exceptional programming at a great value)


Monday, June 22

1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Priscilla Long

Using Sound and Color to Brighten and Intensify Your Prose or Poetry

This session will focus on the use of sound in your prose or poetry or both, including using the vowel scale, where boo or blue is low and eek or shriek is high. How can sound work to intensify the emotional resonance of a passage or scene? Color is another means of enriching your prose or poetry. We'll consider the range of color words from copper to rust to yellow ocher. We'll look at passages of writers, such as A. S. Byatt, who blow the reader away with their use of color.

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. 

Omar El Akkad

Substructure: Plotting, Planning, and Organizing a Novel-Length Project

The business of putting a story together varies greatly from writer to writer, and for every Jack Kerouac who sits down and pulls off a novel in a single sitting, there are a hundred other writers who spend years researching and meticulously detailing their project before they ever write a single sentence. In this workshop we explore some of the methods by which writers form the foundations of their novel-length projects.


Tuesday, June 23

1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Sonora Jha

Desires, Deceptions, and Desolation: How to Make Your Characters Suffer

If your characters (in fiction and non-fiction) are not suffering, they're not living. Draw on the well of humanity's deepest insecurities and craft a character or two worth losing sleep (or turning pages) over.

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. 

Sierra Golden

Translating Big Emotions into Compelling Poems

Writers are often discouraged from being “sentimental,” but as we all face significant changes in our lives and in the world around us, how can we translate big emotions into compelling poems? We’ll study masters like Sharon Olds, Dorianne Laux, and Ellen Bass, write our own poems, and learn to build everyday details into poems that matter.


Wednesday, June 24

1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Ramon Isao

Our Weird Era: Writing in the time of you-know-what

I need some prose-writers and poets to help process this unprecedented cultural moment. We’ll collaborate on a single day-in-the-life piece, by writing a series of small, literary snapshots of a moment in a day that encapsulates this weird era of ours. Funny snapshots, nervous snapshots, anxious, vicious, powerful snapshots. We’ll stitch them all together like a narrative quilt; future generations could read it to understand how it felt to be here right now. Please join me.

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. 

Jory Mickelson

You Do Not Have to Be Good: Poetry and Prayer

“To understand poetry,” Lorca said, “we need four white walls and a silence where the poet’s voice can weep and sing.” In this vein, we will examine poems and see how they call out to transform both the speaker in the poem and the reader. We will investigate how our own longings, complaints, and visions can serve as a call to the sacred, the Universe, or the attentive reader. No spiritual or religious affiliation needed.


Thursday, June 25

10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Kristen Millares Young

“& I was done./& it was human.”—Ocean Vuong

In this generative workshop, learn to begin with the elements of your story in motion, though each page must bring fresh urgency to the questions that first confront your characters. Follow their lead to unwind what Eudora Welty called “the continuous thread of revelation.” We’ll read and discuss the opening of Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, then you’ll write a long-deferred letter.

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. 


Stranger than Poetry: The Twilight Zone Meets Star Trek

In this breakout session, you’ll write about the strange and unexplainable using flash fiction and poetry as a vehicle for creative storytelling about the apocalypse, vampires, and the supernatural. We will examine text from Octavia Butler, Nisi Shawl, Alfred Hitchcock, and Colson Whitehead. You’ll write a poem or flash fiction piece anchored in this hybrid-genre. Bring your ideas, creativity and be able to retell your favorite Star Trek or Twilight Zone episode.


Live Faculty Reading - Friday, June 26 at 5:30 p.m.

Nourish your creativity and foster a sense of connection with a live literary event featuring conference faculty members who will read their creative work. Registration required in order to receive a Zoom link.


Master Classes - Saturday, June 27

The small-group setting of a master class offers the opportunity for in-depth exploration of a writing topic and quality engagement with conference faculty members. Master class prices vary based on the class duration.


9:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Sonora Jha

Query - Pitch - Agented

How do you get to the heart of your story for your pitch? How do you craft that dazzling and succinct query letter? How will you find the agent that sees into your soul? Come craft your story about your story.



1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Priscilla Long

Metaphor for Writers: What Are Metaphors Good For? How Do We Get Good at Making Metaphor?

This master class discusses the advances by linguists (George Lakoff and others) in thinking of metaphor as what every human being on earth uses every day to conceptualize the world. (Example: "Life is a journey.") Then we will look at kinds of metaphors and how we can get better at them, and actually develop a practice of making our own original metaphors. Metaphors are not decoration but rather an aid to visualizing, to seeing, to understanding. And they can be beautiful.



3:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Omar El Akkad

Resistance Fiction

What constitutes resistance fiction? What makes a literary work stand in opposition to political and societal injustice? In this master class, we explore some of the hallmarks of fiction focused on resistance and rebellion, with a special emphasis on works from outside North America. We also study some of the ways in which writers living under oppressive regimes have managed to use literature to criticize and expose those regimes.





There are two easy ways to register for CWC 2020 Online. Registration is now open.

  1. ONLINE: Register online (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover). The online registration process may take a few moments to load; we appreciate your patience.
  2. PHONE: Call us at 360.383.3200 (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover).



 AnastaciaRenee2 Omar El Akkad Sierra Golden looking over her right shoulder with a body of water in the background.


Omar El Akkad

Sierra Golden

Sonora Jha

Priscilla Long

Ramon Isao

Sonora Jha

Priscilla Long

Jory Mickelson in front of a black background.
Kristen Millares Young in front of a cloudy, gray sea.

Jory Mickelson

Kristen Millares Young




Anastacia-Renee — poetry, multi-genre


Anastacia-Renee is a writer, TEDx Speaker, Deep End Podcast co-host and interdisciplinary artist. The recipient of the 2018 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award for Washington Artist (Literary), Seattle Civic Poet (2017-2019), and Poet-in-Residence at Hugo House (2015-2017), she has received fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, VONA, Artist Trust, Jack Straw, Ragdale, Mineral School, Hypatia in the Woods, and The New Orleans Writers Residency.

Anastacia-Renee's work has been published in Foglifter, Cascadia Magazine, Pinwheel, The Fight and the Fiddle, Glow, The A-Line, Ms. Magazine and a host of others.


Forget It by Anastacia-Renee Tolbert 26 by Anastacia-Renee Tolbert



Omar El Akkad — fiction, journalism

Omar El Akkad

Omar El Akkad is an Egyptian-Canadian author and journalist. He has reported from Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and numerous other locations around the world. He is the recipient of Canada’s National Newspaper Award for Investigative Journalism and the Goff Penny Award for young journalists.

His debut novel, American War, is an international bestseller and has been translated into a dozen languages. It won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award, the Oregon Book Award for fiction, the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize and has been nominated for more than a dozen other awards. It was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, GQ, and more than a dozen other publications and outlets. Omar lives in the woods just south of Portland.


Book cover of American War by Omar El Akkad


Sierra Golden — poetry

Sierra Golden looking over her right shoulder with a body of water in the background.

Sierra Golden received her MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. As winner of the 2018 Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize, her debut collection, The Slow Art, was published by Bear Star Press. The Slow Art was also a finalist for the 2019 Washington State Book Award and the 2019 WILLA Literary Award in Poetry.

Golden's poems appear in literary journals such as Prairie Schooner, Permafrost, and Ploughshares. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies by Hedgebrook, Hugo House, and The Elizabeth George Foundation.

Although she calls Washington State home, Golden spent many summers in Alaska, working as a commercial fisherman. She now works in communications at Agros International, a nonprofit working to break the cycle of poverty among farming families in rural Latin America.


Book cover of The Slow Art by Sierra Golden. The cover is a cloudy sky with fishing nets and buoys.



Ramon Isao — fiction, screenwriting


Ramon Isao standing in front of green bamboo.

Ramon Isao is a recipient of the Tim McGinnis Award for Fiction, as well as fellowships from Artist Trust and Jack Straw Cultural Center.

His writing appears in The Iowa Review, Ninth Letter, Hobart, American Reader, and elsewhere.

His screen credits include Zombies of Mass Destruction, Dead Body, and Grow Op (in which he co-stars).

He has an MFA from Columbia University, and serves as fiction editor at New Orleans Review.


Sonora Jha — fiction, nonfiction

Sonora Jha

Sonora Jha is the author of the novel Foreign (Random House India, 2013) and is a professor of journalism at Seattle University. She was formerly a chief of bureau with The Times of India and a contributing editor with East Magazine, Singapore before arriving in the United States on a fellowship to earn a PhD in political communication from Louisiana State University. Her recent political essays have appeared in The New York Times, Seattle Times, and The Establishment, among others. She was the prose writer-in-residence at Richard Hugo House from 2016-2018.

Sonora is currently at work on a book of feminist essays and a second novel. She was awarded the 2017 Barry Lopez Fellowship at Playa Summer Lake, Oregon. She serves on the board of Hedgebrook, a global literary non-profit, and has recently served on juries for Artist Trust, Hedgebrook, and Hugo House.





Priscilla Long — nonfiction, poetry

Priscilla Long

Priscilla Long is a writer of poetry, essays, creative nonfiction, fictions, science, and history. She has an MFA degree from the University of Washington and teaches writing.

Her guide to writing is The Writer’s Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life. Her book of poems is Crossing Over: Poems (University of New Mexico Press, 2015). Her collection of linked literary nonfiction is Fire and Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (University of Georgia Press). Her handbook for artists of all kinds is Minding the Muse: A Handbook for Painters, Composers, Writers, and Other Creators. Her scholarly history book is Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of America’s Bloody Coal Industry.

She wrote an every-Wednesday column at The American Scholar website titled "Science Frictions." The complete set of 92 pieces covered everything from Saturn to salt.

Priscilla serves as founding and consulting editor of, the online encyclopedia of Washington State history.


The Writers Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long


Jory Mickelson — poetry

Jory Mickelson in front of a black background.

Jory Mickelson is the award-winning author of Wilderness//Kingdom (Floating Bridge Press).

Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Jubilat, diode, The Rumpus, The Puritan, The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and other journals in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. They are the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and hold fellowships from the Lambda Literary Foundation, The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, and Centrum's Port Townsend Writers Conference.

They are a graduate of the University of Idaho’s MFA program and the former poetry editor of 5×5 Lit Mag and the creator of the blog Literary Magpie. They have taught workshops and retreats on a wide variety of topics including mindfulness, meditation, writing about place, and poetry as a spiritual practice. They live in Bellingham, WA.


Wilderness Kingdom by Jory Mickelson


Kristen Millares Young — fiction, nonfiction

Kristen Millares Young in front of a cloudy, gray sea.

Kristen Millares Young is the author of the novel Subduction, a Paris Review staff pick called "whip-smart" by the Washington Post. A prize-winning investigative journalist, book critic, and essayist, Kristen serves as the 2018-2020 Prose Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House.

Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Times, Poetry Northwest, Crosscut, Hobart, Moss, Proximity, Seattle’s Child, Pacifica Literary Review, KUOW 94.9-FM, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Miami Herald, Buenos Aires Herald, and TIME Magazine.

Her personal essays are anthologized in Pie & Whiskey, a 2017 New York Times New & Notable Book; Latina Outsiders: Remaking Latina Identity; and Advanced Creative Nonfiction: A Writer's Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury of New York and London, 2021).

Kristen was the researcher for the New York Times team that produced “Snow Fall,” which won a Pulitzer and a Peabody in 2013. Her stories have been recognized by the Society for Features Journalism, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Kristen has been a fellow at UC Berkeley’s Knight Digital Media Center, the Jack Straw Writing Program, and the University of Washington Graduate School, where she was a Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Scholar.

Kristen graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a 2003 degree in history and literature and earned her MFA from the University of Washington in 2012. She teaches creative writing in English and Spanish at Hugo House, the University of Washington Continuum College, the Port Townsend Writers Conference, Write Doe Bay, and the Seattle Public Library.

From 2016 to 2019, Kristen served as board chair of InvestigateWest, a nonprofit news studio she co-founded in 2009. InvestigateWest’s reporting has led to the passage of a dozen new laws to improve the environment and the lives of foster families, people of color caught in the criminal justice system, health care workers, and advocates for government transparency.


Subduction by Kristen Millares Young