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Novel Approaches: The Fiction Writers Speaking at Terroir 2018

February 14, 2018

If fiction is your craft, you’ll find a lot to learn and take away from this year’s Terroir Creative Writing Festival. We have a number of talks and workshops aimed at writers of all levels of their careers. Wherever you turn, you’ll find novel inspiration. Here are a few talks by writers working in the novel form.

Debby Dodds is the author of the novel Amish Guys Don’t Call (June 2017). She has stories in many anthologies and magazines and won Portland’s Wizard World 2017 Fiction Contest. As an actress, she performed at Disneyland and Disney World, worked with Jerry Seinfeld, and screamed loudly in low-budget horror films.

WORKSHOP: Bringing the Funny to Your Writing
We’ll look at a variety of examples of funny writers with varying styles, from different genres. In-class exercises, including some from my background in Improv Comedy, will be taught. I’ll share strategies to magnify humor. Get ready to laugh, chortle, and sniggle and to make others giggle, cackle and guffaw!


Gina Ochsner  is the author of two short story collections, The Necessary Grace to Fall (selected for the Flannery O’Connor Award) and People I Wanted to Be. Both collections received the Oregon Book Award. Gina also has two novels: The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight and The Hidden Letters of Velta B. She teaches at Corban University in Salem.

WORKSHOP: Drawing From a Deep Well: Tapping into the Source of Your Stories, Essays, and Poems
Writing is an act of faith. But what can a writer do when the words don’t arrive? We will talk about where ideas come from, how to “jump-start” writing when ideas seem absent, and how to develop ideas. Don’t be surprised if you leave this session with several story, essay, or poem starts in hand.


Matthew Robinson, author of the novel The Horse Latitudes (an Oregon Book Award finalist), holds an MFA from Portland State University, is co-editor of the online literary journal The Gravity of the Thing, and is an Oregon Literary Fellowship recipient. He lives, writes, and teaches in Portland.

WORKSHOP: Resisting Defaults: Ways of Unsettling a Narrative
When we write, we naturally fall into familiar patterns of storytelling. The resulting work can become predictable and lacking in tension. In this workshop, we will discover new paths as we study non-linear narratives, practice defamiliarizing all-too-common story elements, and experiment with the physical forms within which we construct our narratives.

Have you marked your calendar yet? Terroir is happening on Saturday, April 14, 2018 from 9-5 at the Yamhill Campus of Chemeketa Community College in McMinnville, OR. Registration opens soon!


Announcing our 2018 Keynote Speakers!

January 24, 2018


We are thrilled to announce our keynote speakers for our 2018 Terroir Creative Writing Festival, happening April 14, 2018 at the Yamhill Campus of Chemeketa Community College, Tracy Daugherty and Fonda Lee.

TracyTracy Daugherty was born and raised in Midland, Texas. He is the author of four novels, six short story collections, a book of personal essays, a collection of essays on literature and writing, as well as biographies of Donald Barthelme, Joseph Heller, and Joan Didion. His stories and essays have appeared in The New YorkerVanity Fair, The Paris Review, McSweeney’sBoulevardChelseaThe Georgia ReviewTriquarterlyThe Southern Review, and many other journals. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Bread Loaf, Artsmith, and the Vermont Studio Center. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters and PEN, he is a four-time winner of the Oregon Book Award. At Oregon State University, he helped found the Masters of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing, and is now Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing, Emeritus.

His work explores the intersections of public and private lives, art, architecture, music, and science, as well as urban life and American deserts, real and imagined. As Antonya Nelson has written, “Daugherty’s characters convince the reader that metamorphosis is possible, that beauty and peace are still available options.” He “combines the serious and literary with the funny and offbeat,” says Beverly Lowry, “resulting in sparkle-plenty prose with an ear for dialogue that never fails. His stories are first-rate.”


FondaFonda Lee writes science fiction and fantasy for teens and adults. Her debut novel, Zeroboxer was an Andre Norton Award finalist, Jr. Library Guild Selection, ALA Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, Oregon Book Award finalist, and Oregon Spirit Book Award winner. Her second novel, Exo, released from Scholastic in February 2017 and has also been named a Junior Library Guild Selection. Her third novel (and adult debut), the gangster fantasy saga Jade City, was released by Orbit Books in November 2017 to wide acclaim.

Fonda wrote her first novel, about a dragon on a quest for a magic pendant, in fifth grade during the long bus ride to and from school each day. Many years later, she cast her high school classmates as characters in her second novel, a pulpy superhero saga co-written with a friend by passing a graphing calculator back and forth during biology class. Fortunately, both of these experiments are lost to the world forever.

Fonda is a former corporate strategist who has worked for or advised a number of Fortune 500 companies. She holds black belts in karate and kung fu, goes mad for smart action movies (think The Matrix, Inception, and Minority Report) and is an Eggs Benedict enthusiast. Born and raised in Calgary, Canada, she currently resides in Portland, Oregon.

Have you saved the date yet? We are hard at work putting together a stellar program and will be opening registration mid-February. Stay tuned!


Save the date! Terroir is happening April 14, 2018

November 15, 2017

The 9th annual Terroir Creative Writing Festival will take place Saturday, April 14, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Yamhill County Campus of Chemeketa Community College. Mark your calendars!

We will be making announcements about the literary line-up and registration in January 2018. In the meantime, join the conversation on our Facebook page!

How to prepare for a writing festival (and get the most out of it) by Lisa Ohlen Harris

April 18, 2017


I attended my first writing conference in Houston back in 2005. I prepared carefully (though in retrospect, foolishly) by printing out three or four copies of an essay I hoped to publish. I might meet an editor, I thought. That editor might ask me what I write. Surely the editor would want to publish me. And this might happen multiple times.

Oh, brother.

Long-story-short, I brought every manuscript page back home with me from that conference, too wrinkled for anything but the recycling bin. In fact, I really hadn’t prepared for the conference at all. I had prepared to promote myself. That’s it.

I hadn’t read the speaker bios, and I embarrassed myself badly by coming up to American Book Award winner Thomas Lynch and asking him what he wrote and how long he’d been writing. I bought a book by keynote speaker Kathleen Norris but didn’t ask her to sign it because I felt too shy. I learned later that Ms. Norris asked my friend why I hadn’t said hello when I saw her at her signing table one evening. “Is your friend unhappy with the conference,” she asked.

Oh, me. I should have prepared differently. I should have gotten over myself. I should have been thinking about how I could encourage others, not about what I could get for myself.

So here’s my advice on how to prepare for a writing festival or conference:

Prepare ahead:

  • Read the speakers’ bios and highlight those writing in your genre.
  • Find your highlighted speakers’ books in your local library or use the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon to flip through and get a feel for the work.
  • Slide some of your grocery money into a side pocket to spend at the event (save $1 or $2 a day or more in the month before the conference).
  • As you select your workshops, don’t use a Sharpie to mark them—use pencil. And circle at least one option that’s outside your normal interests (you can always sit in the back and slip out early if it’s not a good fit).
  • If you’re the sort of person who has anxiety when facing new situations and the conference is local, drop by the venue and scope it out. Knowing the lay of the land in advance will decrease your anxiety as the event date draws near.

What to bring:

  • Laptop or iPad or pen and paper
  • Money to buy (and have the author sign!) at least one or two books. I typically bring a set amount of “book money” and I freely take chances on books I discover at the event
  • Business cards if you have them (but leave your manuscript at home). Use those cards as an easy way to keep in touch with fellow writers you meet at the event.
  • An attitude of generosity. Bring a cup of coffee to the speaker of your morning workshop. Buy books and bless the bookstore and authors (and yourself). If you do meet an agent or publisher or author in the hallway, just chat. Don’t pitch your book (that can come later, via email).

And on the day of the event, ask not what the writing community can do for you but what you can do for the writing community! Chat with fellow writers about their work. Offer feedback and encouragement. Find out how what other writers are doing for support and ask how you can help. Jot down names, events, book titles, and ideas. The fruit of any literary event is only partly made up of the stuff listed in the program. Making new literary friends and hearing what’s going on in the community is a huge benefit that will only come your way as you reach out and shake hands and listen. The fledgling writer who sits beside you at the morning keynote may publish before you do and help you make connections to their agent or publishing house years in the future. But don’t think about that now. Think about how you can put someone else at ease.  

Do what it took me years to learn how to do, and come to literary gatherings with the goal of giving. Whether you feel like it or not, you’re a member of a literary community. Be generous and do your homework. The blessings will come back to you. You’ll see.  

Lisa Ohlen Harris lives in Newberg and is the author of The Fifth Season: A Daughter-in-Law’s Memoir of Caregiving and the Middle East memoir, Through the Veil. She teaches online for Creative Nonfiction Magazine and mentors nonfiction writers through her editing and critique service.


Early registration is closed, but you can still come to Terroir 2017!

April 14, 2017


We have closed early registration, but you can still come to Terroir. Just show up the day of the event at the Yamhill County Campus of Chemeketa Community College on Saturday, April 22 at 8:30 a.m. and we will register you on-site.

The cost is $60 for day-of registration.

For directions, please go here.

The address:

Chemeketa Community College – Yamhill Campus
288 NE Norton Ln
McMinnville, OR 97128

See you on Saturday April 22!

Meet Playwright Andrea Stolowitz

April 10, 2017


For the first time, the Terroir Creative Writing Festival will feature a playwright, Andrea Stolowitz, who will give a talk titled: The Elements of Drama.

Andrea Stolowitz has seen her plays presented nationally and internationally at theaters such as The Long Wharf, The Old Globe, The Cherry Lane, and New York Stage and Film. The LA Times calls her work “heartbreaking” and the Orange County Register characterizes her approach as a “brave refusal to sugarcoat issues and tough decisions.”

If you’ve never attended a literary festival before, may we make a suggestion? Part of the joy is in discovering how much there is to be learned from other genres and forms of writing. We expect that Andrea’s talk will be of vital interest to writers working in many forms.

Have you taken the plunge? Have you registered yet? Do so today!

Poets speaking at #TCWF17

April 3, 2017

Poets.pngThe Terroir Creative Writing Festival has a long history of supporting poetic voices in the community. This year, the following poets will be at the festival giving workshops and talking craft with writer attendees. For a full list of workshops click here.

Ed Higgins has published poems and short fiction in numerous print and online journals, including recently: Peacock Journal, Uut Poetry, Triggerfish Critical Review, and Tigershark Magazine. Ed teaches literature at George Fox University. He is Copy Editor for the poetry journal These Fragile Lilacs, and Assistant Fiction Editor for Brilliant Flash Fiction.

Lynn Otto holds an MFA from Portland State University, facilitates two poetry critique groups in Newberg, is an advisory editor at Triggerfish Critical Review, and works as a freelance copy editor. Recent poems are in Compose, Driftwood Press, Eyedrum Periodically, Centrifugal Eye, Young Ravens Literary Review, and Sequestrum.

Barbara Drake’s books and chapbooks of poetry include Driving One Hundred (published in 2009 by Windfall Press), Love at the Egyptian Theatre, What We Say to Strangers, Life in a Gothic Novel, Bees in Wet Weather, and Small Favors. She is also the author of a memoir, Peace at Heart: an Oregon Country Life, from Oregon State University Press, and Writing Poetry, a widely used college textbook, in print since 1983. Her writing appears in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. Peace at Heart was an Oregon Book Award finalist in 1999. Barbara is our festival founder and will not be giving a talk this year, but she will be on hand to talk about craft with attendees.

Are you ready to jump-start your creativity? Register for the festival today!