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Meet the Terroir Keynote Speakers: Laura Stanfill and Leah Sottile

March 15, 2023

Our morning and afternoon keynote addresses are a highlight of the Terroir Creative Writing Festival. This year, we welcome author and publisher Laura Stanfill and journalist Leah Sottile.

Laura Stanfill

Laura is the publisher of Forest Avenue Press and the author of Singing Lessons for the Stylish Canary (Lanternfish). She lives in Portland, Oregon, and shares publishing insights in her newsletter at


Laura’s Keynote: Try, Trying Again: Rejections, Perseverance, and the Writing Life

Writers are great at imagining stories. When we get rejected, though, we often lean into a negative, internal narrative that slows us down. Maybe the work isn’t good enough, we wonder. I’ve been wasting my time writing, we worry. That pressure—not to mention all the hype about platforms and audience and seeing friends get book deals—can freeze our creative output. Laura Stanfill, founder and publisher of Forest Avenue Press, has been rejected many times, including shelving two novels before her debut found a home. She’ll talk about believing in your work, how rejections are part of the process (and often they’re not even personal), and how to keep going despite creative obstacles, fallow periods, and life challenges.

Leah Sottile

Leah Sottile is the author of When the Moon Turns to Blood. A freelance investigative journalist, her work appears in High Country News, the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone and others. She is the host of the podcasts Bundyville, Two Minutes Past Nine and Burn Wild


Leah’s Keynote: Writing the Weird West

For years, Leah Sottile has written about the fringe characters of the western United States: from Elvis impersonators to backyard wrestlers, bikini baristas to nuns. In 2016, that specialty took a turn, and her expertise on covering the fringe became vital in understanding America’s deep divides. She has come to specialize on reporting on the religious and political fringe of the region: from armed standoffs to ideologically-motivated violence and conspiracy theories. She’ll discuss her unlikely writing career, where it started, where it has taken her and where she might go next.

Have you registered for the festival yet? Click here to register online today!

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