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The 2020 Terroir Creative Writing Festival is being postponed

March 13, 2020

Dear Writer,

The health and safety of our festival attendees, speakers and workshop leaders is our top priority. In response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the Terroir Creative Writing Festival Board  today made the decision to postpone our April event.

We believe the board’s decision is in the best interests of the safety and well-being of the public and our community. We are actively looking at other dates and will continue to work with community leaders to make the best decisions to protect public health and safety.

We are closing festival registration effective immediately, and if you have already registered, we will be in touch about refunding any fees you have already paid.

Given how rapidly the situation is changing, we appreciate your continued support and patience as we work diligently to provide a safe environment for our festival and community.

The Terroir Creative Writing Festival Board

Meet the #Terroir2020 Keynote speakers

March 10, 2020


We couldn’t be more thrilled to share with you the bios for our two keynote speakers. Both will also be giving workshops during the festival.


Rene Denfeld is the bestselling author of The Butterfly Girl, The Child Finder and The Enchanted. Her novels have won numerous awards, including a prestigious French Prix. She lives in Portland, where she is the mother to several kids from foster care.

Rene Denfeld’s KEYNOTE: Writing from the Margins

It’s easy to assume you need to have a fancy degree to become a writer. But writing is for everyone, and the world needs all our voices. Rene Denfeld went from being a homeless child to a bestselling, award-winning author. She talks about using your past as your best asset as a writer.

Rene’s Workshop: The publishing industry can be confusing, capricious and just plain strange. Rene will discuss how to get published even if you lack degrees or connections. She will share tricks and tips and answer questions.

Rene’s Website:


Charles Tonderai Mudede’s KEYNOTE: A Writer’s Philosophy of Time

This talk will concern the ideas writers can learn from current thinking about the nature and source of time by major (and sometimes unknown) physicists. As scientists learn more about the universe, the stranger ordinary things, like the flow of time, become. This increasing strangeness should be a source of inspiration for writers.

Charles’s Workshop: Writing Images for Film

Cinema is an art that synthesizes theater, photography, music, and writing. The writing part is, oddly enough, still fundamental to the art of cinema. A film begins with writing. And from this literary base, the other arts enter and participate. This workshop will be about how to write not for readers but for a director—the one who brings theater, photography, music into play with what a screenwriter has written.

About Charles:

Charles Tonderai Mudede is a Zimbabwean-born cultural critic, urbanist, filmmaker, college lecturer, and writer. He is the film editor of the Stranger, a lecturer at Cornish College, and has collaborated with the director Robinson Devor on three films, two of which Police Beat and Zoo, premiered at Sundance, and one of which, Zoo, screened at Cannes.

To read work by Charles Tonderai Mudede at The Stranger, visit this website.

Are you registered yet? We are currently accepting mail-in registrations. 2020 TCWF Early Registration Form and send in today to reserve your spot!

Registration for Terroir 2020 is open!

March 4, 2020


Our paper registration process is open!

To register for the 2020 festival happening April 18 in McMinnville, please download the 2020 TCWF Early Registration Form  [click on link], fill out, and mail with your check made out to AAYC to:

P.O. Box 898
McMinnville, OR 97128

If you are on our paper mail list you will be receiving your registration form in the next couple of days. Our online registration will be open soon and we’ll post here when that happens. Don’t wait, our festival sold out last year before registration closed!

Save the date! The Terroir Creative Writing Festival is happening April 18, 2020.

December 4, 2019

We are thrilled to announce the date for the Terroir Creative Writing Festival, happening Saturday, April 18, 2020 in McMinnville.

Stay tuned here for more information on the speakers, workshop leaders, and readings we have planned, or follow along on Facebook here.

Mark your calendars!

Happy Terroir Day 2019: Follow along on Twitter at #TCWF19

April 20, 2019

How to prepare for the Terroir Festival 2019 by Lisa Ohlen Harris

April 15, 2019

In this repost, board member Lisa Ohlen Harris shares her tips for how to get the most out of your attendance at Terroir 2019 (or any writing conference, for that matter): 

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:


  • 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.


  • 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).


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.

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.

The 2019 Terroir Festival is SOLD OUT

April 4, 2019


Thank you so much for all of the registrations, which have been pouring in over the last few weeks. For the first time in our festival’s ten-year history, we have met our legal capacity for the venue and are now sold out.

If your registration is in the mail, we will be putting you on a wait list and will contact you as space becomes available. If you are already registered but won’t be able to attend after all, please let us know via Facebook message or email to Our desire is to make the program available to as many people as possible.


The TCWF Committee