Book Launch Set at Hoffman Center

Kessler Book Cover 4072Lauren Kessler will launch her latest book “Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance the Nutcracker” Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita.s

Kessler is an American author, and immersion journalist who specializes in narrative nonfiction. She is also a professor at the University of Oregon where she directs the Writing Initiative in the School of Journalism and Communication

When she was 12, Kessler’s instructor crushed not just her dreams of being a ballerina but also her youthful self-assurance. Many decades and three children later, Kessler embarked on a journey to join a professional company and perform in Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” ballet.

“My book is a story about shaking things up, taking risks and ignoring good sense, and forgetting how old you are and how you’re ‘supposed’ to act,” said Kessler. “It’s about testing limits and raising the bar(re) on your own life.”

Cloud and Leaf Bookstore in Manzanita is sponsoring the book launch.

Brian Benson will read from his book Going Somewhere: A Bicycle Journey Across America – Saturday, September 19

brian bensonBrian Benson will read from his book Going Somewhere: A Bicycle Journey Across America at the Hoffman Center for the Arts at 7pm on Saturday, September 19, 2015

Brian will also teach a writing workshop during the day on “The Elusive Art of Funny Ha-Ha.” Whether you want to use humor in fiction or nonfiction, join Brian to learn how to find the funny in your writing. We’ll read strong examples, discuss humor in writing and do a guided write. Bring a short (500-word max) piece for critique. The workshop fee is $30 and the workshop will run from 10-12:30 at the Hoffman Center for the Arts. Register here

Brian didn’t plan to write a book when he set out on his 2,500-mile bike trip across country with a new girlfriend. Later, inspired to write by teachers like Cheryl Strayed and Karen Karbo, he created a memoir that is as much about an internal journey and relationship journey as it is about a bike ride.

“Brian Benson’s new memoir about the journeys we take and how they shape the people we become is not to be missed.” — BookPage

“An utterly addictive read… You won’t be able to tear yourself away from this sharp-eyed, hilarious memoir.” — Powell’

Brian’s bio reveals a meandering journey to writing. “Over the years, I’ve built rock walls in northern Michigan and played jazz guitar in western Guatemala. I’ve edited a magazine for bohemian travelers and served egg rolls to Madisonian suburbanites. I’ve taught Spanish to five-year-olds and English to fifty-year-olds and helped people learn to fix tiny bikes for tiny children. And all of this, in its own way, has led me to writing. These days, I spend my mornings putting words to paper and my nights teaching writing workshops, most often at the Attic Institute.” Brian’s new project is The River Signal, an original radio story written on a paddlewheel riverboat as it floats the Mississippi.

Following Benson’s reading and Q&A, we’ll have our popular Open Mic where up to nine local writers will read 5 minutes of their original work. The suggested (not required) theme for the evening’s Open Mic is “Me and My Bike.”

Admission for the evening is $7.

Can Artists and Writers See Through Each Other’s Eyes?

birdsFifteen artists and writers are immersed in a unique creative experience this summer at the coast, trying to see through each other’s eyes in their own creative process.

They are taking part in a new program at the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita.

Titled “Word & Image: A Dialog Between Writers and Artists,” the program paired artists and writers to create original pieces, each in response to the other’s work.

The Hoffman Center for the Arts is known for its variety of programming for all of the creative arts, with the Writers’ Series, Clay Studio, art workshops and shows, Friday Night Flicks, and musical events.

This summer, two women launched a program to combine two of those arts, spurring artists and writers to leave their comfort zones for this different kind of creative process.

Emily Ransdell is a poet with an MFA in Creative Writing. A past recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, she is currently a member of The Poet’s Studio at The Attic Institute in Portland. Deborah DeWit, a full-time painter and photographer for 35 years, has exhibited widely. Her work is included in many private and public collections throughout the Pacific Northwest.

“Writers have been writing in response to art for centuries,” said Ransdell. “We thought it would be interesting to try a modern take on the tradition by letting artists have their turn as well.”

Ransdell described the project as a spin-off of the Hoffman’s weekly Writing Lounge, where local writers create short pieces in response to various prompts, often resulting in works that surprise the authors themselves.
Whereas artists and writers usually generate works that reflect their own experience and vision of the world, this project compels them to respond to someone else’s vision of the world.

“This way of finding subject matter for an art piece is both similar and different than the way I usually work,” says artist Lori Dillon, “a lot of the time I do get inspired by an event, series of events, or my own poetry/writing in my head.  So the difference is that I’m being ‘led to create’ by someone else’s voice.”

“One key thing here,” adds Ransdell, “There are no rules. No set process. The artist and writer can choose to meet or not, discuss or not, share results ahead or not. The whole goal of this was for people to experiment.”

Everyone seems to be approaching it differently. Some have looked at other works by the artist and writer. Some met once to discuss, others not at all. Some pairs are exchanging process progress and results all along the way.

Artist Vera Wildauer and poet Phyllis Mannan were matched and chose not to meet or discuss their process.
“It might be good to see the original,” Mannan wrote Wildauer in an email, “but I don’t think I want to hear the background, at least not right away. I want to let my unconscious mind work a bit first.”

“I rarely work from a picture or photograph when I write,” Mannan added in an interview, “so this way of working was unfamiliar to me. I learned to closely study the nuances of a scene, to question the relationship between people and objects. I hope to use the process of careful questioning in future work.”

“I was immediately drawn to one of Phyllis’ three poems,” Wildauer describes working from the other direction, “since it included so many images and evoked so much meaning about the ‘real world’ versus faith — with some odd juxtapositions. I had a great time with it, finding mixed media to lend itself to the process perhaps more than other forms.”
Writer Aina Tonjes and artist Cathi Howell did choose to meet.

“I got two pieces to choose from,” says Tonjes, “and after meeting with Cathi in person one of them became much more relevant than the other. I did need to know what exactly moved her to put those shapes down, and without having talked about it I don’t think I would have been able to motivate myself to write.”

“I wasn’t sure how to best write about Deborah’s piece at first,” Ransdell said. The two coordinators are taking on the same challenge as all the participants. “I didn’t want to just describe. I wanted to evoke something.”
She remembered a technique that poet and teacher Andrea Hollander used during a PoetryFest workshop in Manzanita. Hollander had the participants choose six words and work from there.

“So I chose six words that Deborah’s piece made me think of and I’m working from those,” Ransdell adds, “It’s definitely a technique I’ll use again. I was surprised and pleased; it’s a different kind of poem for me.”

The thirty participants range in age from 15 to mid-80’s, and come from as far away as Long Beach Peninsula and Portland to those who live full or part time in Manzanita, Nehalem and Wheeler. At the evening event where participants were paired up,

Juleen Johnson attended via Facetime. Her husband held up an iPad so Juleen could see the audience and the event from her location attending the Iowa Writers Conference in Iowa City, Iowa.

The event has certainly paired up people who might never have interacted otherwise. 15-year-old writer Elizabeth Johnson brought her parents along from Long Beach, Washington, to meet with photographer Steve Jones, 61.

Artist Karen Gale said “the biggest surprise was to find how much my partner Deb Simmons and I had in common both in our styles and in our lives. We are the perfect partnership!”

Simmons responded in an email to the same interview question whether anything surprised her about the process with “the friendship that has formed with MY artist!”

“I think all of us feel like the bar is kind of high,” says Dewit, “I need to do something worthy. Plus it’s just one piece of art or writing, not one of many of your works in one place. And everyone feels a commitment to each other, to honor their work.”

“What a challenge this has been, what a stretch,” adds Simmons, “The bottom line is to come up with something ‘worthy’ of the artwork, which I admire and love.”

The results will be unveiled at an opening reception and reading at the Hoffman Center for the Arts on Saturday, August 29, open to the public. Each pairing will be printed as a frame-able art piece and offered for sale as a souvenir for people who come to the show.

The project might well become a recurring event. After all, it exemplifies the Hoffman Center for the Arts’ tagline and goal: Explore. Create. Connect.

And who knows, it might inspire other projects.  “This is such a unique event!” says Lori Dillon, “Now I’m thinking about the concept of pairing musicians and writers and visual artists.  Whoa, doesn’t that sound crazy and good?

Hiking Book Gets Manzanita Launch

unnamedAuthor Connie Soper will launch her new book “Oregon Coast Trail: 40 Consecutive Day Hikes from the Columbia River to the California Border” Thursday, Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita.

The event is free and open to the public.

“I don’t consider my book a traditional trail guide,” said Soper, a part-time Manzanita resident. “I think it’s important for hikers to be aware they are walking through history, along same paths and trails first established by Native Americans and later by settlers.”

Most of the hikes listed include mile-by-mile maps, and provide tips such as which hikes are tide dependent, and how to arrange for boat rides. The book also includes historic and present day photographs, as well as stories about places passed along the way.

Cloud and Leaf Bookstore in Manzanita will provide book sales at the launch event.

Manzanita Writers’ Series celebrates the launch of the 4th Edition of the North Coast Squid Literary Journal on Saturday, April 18

SquidCoverEdition4Manzanita Writers’ Series celebrates the launch of the 4th Edition of the North Coast Squid Literary Journal at 7pm on Saturday, April 18. The event will be held at the Hoffman Center in Manzanita. Admission is free.

The fourth North Coast Squid literary magazine showcases work of writers and artists who live on the north coast or have a strong connection to the area. Sixty-six writers submitted 140 pieces. Thirty-five were chosen by outside judges. Lindsay Hill judged poetry, Deborah Reed judged fiction and Lauren Kessler judged non-fiction.

This year’s new category for young writers was judged by the editors of Tattoo Magazine, a national award-winning high school literary and art publication based in Shoreline, WA, and advised by Andy Barker, a member of the North Coast Squid editorial team.

The Squid includes 19 pieces of art and photography from local artists as well. (24 artists submitted 74 pieces).

This edition was partially funded by a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo. The rest of the expenses are covered through in-kind donations of design time, and with Squid sales.

The campaign-funding goal was $3000. Support from local fans as well as friends and family of Squid volunteers and submitters raised $3600.

The release event will feature selected author readings from the North Coast Squid, as well as a gallery showing of some of the photography and art published in the magazine.  There will be refreshments—including cake!

The North Coast Squid will be available for purchase at the event, as well as at every Manzanita Writers’ Series event throughout 2015.  A number of retail outlets along the coast will also carry it. Proceeds of the $5 cover price go to produce future editions of the magazine.

The Hoffman Center will be announcing another great project for local writers and artists during the evening’s activities.

Publish In A Day Workshop on April 4th

publishing workshop image lorinczHolly Lorincz and Brian Tibbetts will lead an e-publishing workshop on Saturday, April 4th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hoffman Center.  Tuition is $165.  Click here to register and pay online.

In this intensive one day workshop you’ll learn the necessary steps for self-publication in both ebook and print, and, more importantly, get your novel formatted and uploaded by the end of the day, with a personalized marketing plan in place. Please note, this is for text-only manuscripts (no internal images).

If you take this intensive, one-day workshop, by the end of the day you will have:

  • Formatted your novel to ebook and print specifications
  • Written an effective title and back cover copy
  • Uploaded your professionally formatted manuscript into Kindle and CreateSpace
  • Generated a basic marketing platform, with direction on how to build it up

VERY IMPORTANT! In order to take this class you will need:

A completed manuscript, in one Word document (not a pdf), with no internal images.

A basic understanding of how to use the tool bar functions in Word. (If you don’t know how to highlight, or cut and paste, this is not the class for you.)

A laptop with wifi capability.

If you want to have an ebook online by the end of class, you will need:

A professionally formatted bookcover (you will need a Kindle version and a print version).

A title, and a short description (usually same as the back copy), and a short author bio.

If you don’t want to use the free Amazon ISBN numbers, you will have to come with an ISBN from Bowker.

HOLLY LORINCZ is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary, and the owner of Lorincz Literary Services, an editing and publishing company which regularly works with NY Times Bestselling authors, as well as self-publishing authors. She is also an award winning novelist, a nationally recognized speaking coach, and a long-time writing instructor.

BRIAN TIBBETTS, is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary, and a long-time professional writer and editor with a background in real-world marketing and a Master’s Degree in Publishing from PSU.


If you are interested in mingling with the faculty the night before, we are offering a no-host bar “mixer” at the Neah-Kah-Nie Bistro on Friday night, from 7 pm to 9ish, April 3. Chip MacGregor will also be available for questions, one of the top selling literary agents in the United States.

If registrants stay at The Inn at Manzanita during the weekend of the workshop, they will receive a 15% discount off a two night stay.

Anna Keesey will read from her book Little Century on March 21

anna-keesey-author-photo-crop-sm1Anna Keesey will read from her book Little Century at the Hoffman Center at 7pm on Saturday, March 21, 2015.

Written in the tradition of My Antonia and There Will Be Blood, Little Century follows eighteen-year-old orphan Esther Chambers homesteading in the lawless town of Century, Oregon, in 1900, a time of a battle for water and rangeland between sheep and cattle owners.

“Anna Keesey’s debut novel hums with raw energy: its youthful heroine’s, the small town around which the ranches lie, and the new century that’s just unfolding….Exhilarating.”— The Boston Globe

Little Century won the 2013 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, awarded each year by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for the best work of fiction by an American woman published in the preceding year. The award calls attention to the work of a promising but less established woman writer. Previous winners include Anne Patchett, Toni Morrison and Ursula Le Guin before they achieved fame.

Anna Keesey is a graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.  Her work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories.  She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship and has held residencies at MacDowell, Bread Loaf, Yaddo, and Provincetown. Keesey teaches English and creative writing at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon.

Following Keesey’s reading and Q&A, we’ll have our popular Open Mic where up to nine local writers will read 5 minutes of their original work. The suggested theme for Open Mic is “Frontiers and Pioneers.”

Admission for the evening is $7.

During the day on Saturday, from 1 to 3pm, Keesey will teach a writing workshop on “Writing Before You Were Born: How to Create Lively Historical Fiction.”  Keesey will talk about what historical fiction is, share strategies for research, and provide participants some on-the-spot practice in telling a historical story. Held at the Hoffman Center, the workshop is $30. Register and pay here. 

Marcia Silver and Gail Young will lead a discussion of Keesey’s book at the Manzanita Library two weeks later on Saturday, April 4 from 2 to 3pm.

Book Launch Celebration on Thursday, March 26

torn fish book coverLocal author Phyllis Mannan will introduce her recently published memoir, Torn Fish: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and Their Shared Humanity, at a book launch party at the Hoffman Center, , at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 26. Please join her for music and refreshments, followed by a short reading. This event is free to the public.

Dr. Jean Edwards, Edwards Center founder, says, “While I know a great deal about the education and training of those with autism, Phyllis opened my eyes to a family’s journey. Her insights deeply moved me. We often hear inspirational stories about children with autism making remarkable gains, but seldom hear the story of their transition from school to adult life . . . This compelling story of David’s life with autism helps you understand the loneliness and isolation that come when communication is impaired.”

Based on the author’s experiences with her 43-year-old son, Torn Fish invites you to see how David’s mind works and how his limited ability to communicate and understand feelings impacts his daily life and that of his family. The author also offers insight from her years of struggling to make good decisions for her son, all the while trying to make, and keep, a connection with him.
Phyllis Mannan has advocated for her son and others with developmental disabilities on the board of directors of The Arc-Washington County and Edwards Center. She served as president of two family associations, one of which she helped found. Her poems have appeared in The Oregonian and northwest literary magazines. Her nonfiction has appeared in the North Coast Squid, RAIN Magazine and the Cup of Comfort series. She lives in Manzanita with her husband, Phil.

Torn Fish: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and Their Shared Humanity is available at Cloud & Leaf Bookstore and Manzanita News & Espresso, and as a print book and an e-book on Amazon.

Your Beach House Can ‘Ink the Squid’!

squid covers imageDo you have a beach house that you rent to visitors?  Would you like to support the next issue of the North Coast Squid?

The Manzanita Writers’ Series is launching a crowd funding campaign on to fund the printing costs of the North Coast Squid, A Journal of Local Writing.  The magazine’s mission is to give voice to local writers and artists, as well as those who have strong ties to the north Oregon coast.

In the past, we’ve funded the project in part with grants and sponsorships from local businesses and individuals. For this issue, we would like to try something new.

To prepare for the campaign we’re collecting “perks” to offer contributors.  For example, at the $25 level, each donor will receive the magazine and have their name printed on the donor page.  At a $100 donors will receive the magazine, recognition and a year’s pass to all six Manzanita Writers’ Series events.

For writers, we have levels to get a tour of Portland publisher Tin House and lunch with one of the editors or an online writing class with New York Times bestselling author, Jennifer Lauck.

We would like to add a beach weekend to our list of perks.  Do you have a home here at the coast that you already rent to visitors?  Would you be willing to donate a weekend’s lodging?

Your donation would make a huge impact as weekends away are among the most popular items in fundraising campaigns. Please contact us at or leave a message at 503.368.3846. The campaign will launch February 3, 2015, so please let us know by January 30th. Dates for the beach weekend would be arranged between the home owner and the donor once the campaign ends.