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PNWA Winter Writing Retreat 2024

Onward & Upward - Making Progress with your WIP

Use this page to keep up with our 2024 retreat cadre.

Silhouette of a dragon flying from 2023 to 2024. 2024 New Year concept. New year's card 20

Our Story

In 2022, Jennifer and I decided we wanted to host a write-in for our critique group. Having previously established a relationship with St. Andrew's through another organization, we thought it would be fun to expand invitations outside of our group. That idea led to programming which led to us turning the weekend into a hosted writing retreat sponsored by the PNWA.

Jennifer has well over a decade of experience planning the PNWA's annual fall conference and multiple years of PTA/PTSA event planning and execution. I have about twenty years experience arranging several large-scale events through the University of Washington, Girl Scouts, and various PTAs. Combined, we have decades of experience studying the craft of writing and attending similar retreats and writing events. We looked at each other, shrugged, and said, "Why not?"

But, that's all backstory. The real story starts with the speakers, attendees, and the amazing relationships we make over these weekends. As educators, (yes, we've done that, too) Jennifer and I are happiest when people take away at least one thing that leaves a spark or fans a flame of creativity.  We are always reenergized coming away from each retreat and hope you are, as well.


Writing, while a solitary endeavor, is better when it's born from a supportive environment and thoughtful conversation. That's what we hope to provide for each cadre. You should come away knowing you have more contacts and cheerleaders rooting for you than you had before.

Below, you'll find a directory of writers from our weekend. It has been updated with the latest information I have, though, I would love to continue to update this as more people send information our way.

Happy Writing!

Our Writing Cadre

Sonja N. Griffing writes contemporary fiction and essays. She’s published four romances as a hybrid author and has a fifth contracted for spring 2025. She’s a certified educator and life-long event coordinator and volunteer. Sonja likes all things creative, especially people, and can be found painting, cross-stitching, doing random crafts, chilling at karaoke bars, and laughing with friends.

JD Douwes writes dark and quirky fiction of all sub-genres. She has a handful of short and mid-sized fiction published and identifies as a hybrid writer. She adores the PNWA and the community she's found there. She's always looking for more opportunities to find bigger-better-more for her writing cohorts, and LOVEs connecting people with the perfect whatever it is, be it an opportunity, community, relationship and of course, writing retreat.

Kim Hornsby is a USA Today Bestselling author and screenwriter who specializes in Romance and Suspense. Romance is in everything she writes, including Christmas Romances and Beach Reads, rounding out her portfolio of sixteen published novels. Kim also writes screenplays about women saving themselves in compelling situations and gorgeous locations. As a movie producer, she has two films slated to launch in 2024.

     When not writing, Kim can be found teaching at writing conferences, on set of a movie, kayaking in the Pacific Ocean and telling her rescue dog she’s the bestest girl.

Follow Kim on AMAZON to hear about New Releases

Follow Kim on BookBub

Kerry Schafer (also known as best-selling author Kerry Anne King) is a firm believer in writing what she loves and has gleefully reveled in fantasy, mystery, magical realism, and women’s fiction. She has published thirteen books and been translated into four different languages.

     Kerry is the founder of Author Genie, through which she provides writer mindset coaching, online classes, and virtual assistant services. When not absorbed in creative pursuits, you’ll find Kerry hanging out with her real life Viking on their little piece of heaven just outside Colville, Washington.

Kathy Doubt writes psychological thrillers woven with history of the Pacific NW. She has recently retired from a career in Construction Project management and is thrilled about this workshop to kickstart a lifelong dream to complete a novel. She's chagrined that said novel was started in 2008. Half-finished and largely mapped out in her head, there was never time. Working, raising a family, moving to a small farm (needing much work!), getting back into horses; other animals to care for. You
may relate.
     Each year, commitment to daily writing time was a released balloon of high hopes carried aloft on inspirational currents, to end each year stuck in a fir bough or telephone pole along some random
highway. Deflated of the aspirations which sent it afloat. Recriminations. John Grisham cranked out a novel a year for decades, why couldn't she?     

     Dedicated writing time was found on vacations. Ten pounds of chapter binders have been toted around Europe and the US in all manner of conveyance. Requiring a half-filled carry on. There’s been train transport on Amtrak and the bullet train from Paris to Marseille; planes, hydrofoils, ferries in the Puget Sound and Canadian Gulf Islands, road trips to Montana, a Logan horse trailer on horse camping trips. Loyally by my side.
     This weekend’s commemoration of the Lunar New Year is a new beginning to fully embrace being a writer. Sans job and the largest time constraint for a craft which has an insatiable appetite for same is at hand. The firepit ceremony will represent a recommitment to my lifelong desire to finish the book!
     When not riding Adonis or Calypso with friends in the mountains, Kathy enjoy spending time with family and friends, playing scrabble, reading, reading, reading; hiking and volunteering for her horse club. Hiking, swimming and just enjoying unstructured free time for a change has been its own pleasure.
   She's looking forward to meeting other members of our writing persuasion!

Catherine Forster is a writer, filmmaker, and visual artist working in the Pacific Northwest. Forster's work has been published by Write City Magazine and the Pink Panther Literary Magazine. Several works have received finalist status in literary competitions. Chasing Tarzan, a YA memoir, was published by WiDo Publishing in 2022. Her artwork has exhibited in museums and commercial galleries throughout the US and abroad. Similarly, Forster's experimental films have received numerous awards and have screened in more than thirty international film festivals, from Sao Paulo to Berlin, Los Angeles to Rome, London to Romania. Through her work, she explores the dynamics of girlhood, notions of identity, and the role that technology plays in our relationship with nature.

     In her capacity as an independent curator, Forster founded LiveBox, a roving gallery that introduced new media arts to communities at a time when few knew what media arts was. For the past five years she has been a member of the curatorial team for the Experiments In Cinema Film Festival held annually in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is also a screener for the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). Forster received a Masters of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Masters of Business from the London Business School, and a fellowship in writing from the Vermont Studio Center. She is included in the Brooklyn Art Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.


Denise Ivie writes .

Lisa Kresl writes .

Betsy Mandell is originally from North Idaho where she spent her youth around hippies and artists , gossiping an embarrassing amount, and picking huckleberries and planting minnows in NFS lakes with her family. After studying abroad for a year in France as a high schooler, she went to Idaho's most happening city, Boise, to study cultural anthropology and French. After college, she taught English in Taiwan, outdoor skills in CA, and preschool in CO and WA. She's now settled down in Mount Vernon, WA with her husband and daughter.

     About ten years ago Betsy put fingers to keyboard when she realized that her preschoolers loved her stories, and maybe they deserved to be written down. That first book was a learning exercise, and a couple of years later she self-published two romance novels. Some years later, and she's still writing for the joy of getting lost in the fiction. Her goal is to write stories she'd be thrilled to find on a library shelf.

     Most of her manuscripts are contemporary fiction, women's or romance, but she also likes to write a little historical and a smidge of speculative.

Kathy McCullough lives on a wheat ranch in eastern Oregon, where she babysits her 9-month-old grandson three days a week. She and her husband travel to their home in Florence, Oregon, each month to ride on the dunes, sell her photography, and relax. Kathy reads, writes, takes photos, plays pickleball, and paints. 

     Kathy was an airline pilot for Northwest Airlines, where she retired as an Anchorage captain on the Boeing 747. Her two non-fiction books are about her career and experiences. 

Her nonfiction book, Breakfast in Narita, is about an international pilot and a new mother flying to Narita, Japan who uncovers a sex trafficking scheme run by senior management pilots who will stop at nothing, including murder, to continue their operation. Kathy's work in progress follows the same heroine, Cassie.

Sonja Griffing writes contemporary fiction and essays. She’s published four romances as a hybrid author and has a fifth contracted for spring 2025. She’s a certified educator and life-long event coordinator and volunteer. Sonja likes all things creative, especially people, and can be found painting, cross-stitching, doing random crafts, chilling at karaoke bars, and laughing with friends.

Jennifer Douwes is awesome.

Karlene Petitt is a retired Delta Air Lines captain who is type-rated, has flown, and/or has instructed on the A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B767, B757, B737 and B727 aircraft. She has worked for Northwest Airlines, Braniff, Evergreen, Coastal Airways, Prem Air, America West, Guyana, Tower Air, and Delta. She holds PhD, MBA and MHS degrees and is working as an Aviation Safety Expert and speaker. She is the mother of three, grandmother of eight, and is working to improve her golf game. She has written 7 novels, 2 children's books, and 2 non-fiction works.

Carrie Pollard is a PNW native and has had the pleasure of traveling all over the world. She lived as an expat in Namibia for a year and spent a summer in Alaska before settling in Olympia. Carrie writes high fantasy with kickass female characters, inspired by the lush forests of the PNW.

     Her action adventure novel, THE TRACT, won first place in the mystery/thriller category at the 2018 Colorado Gold Writing Contest. Currently, she's working on a fantasy series about two women on a treasure-hunting expedition. When she's not writing she's chasing two busy, beautiful kiddos.

Tamara Kaye Sellman writes cross-genre (speculative, horror, literary, magical realism) and cross-format (fiction, nonfiction, poetry). She lives in Kingston WA and is a retired sleep health professional and healthcare advocacy columnist for the sleep disorder and multiple sclerosis communities.

     Tamara's first book, INTENTION TREMOR (MoonPath Press: 2021), is a hybrid collection of prose and poetry chronicling her life in the five years following her own MS diagnosis in 2013. In spring 2024, Aqueduct Press will release her speculative collection, CUL DE SAC STORIES, and she is working on another collection, RAIN SHADOWS, a collaborative effort with podcaster Clay Vermulm (Beneath the Rain Shadow) for release some time in 2025. Her current novel in progress, EMINENT DOMAIN, is a ecofeminist cli-fi work of magical realism set in the Pacific Northwest and she has two other books, FAIRY LANTERN (a poetry collection) and THE FLARE (a post-apocalyptic novel) waiting in the wings. She is a member at large with the Cascade Writers Workshop. 

Greg Smith writes .

Vicki Smith is .

M Leigh is a women’s fiction horror writer from Woodinville, Washington. She is a board member with the PNWA and has been published with Flame Tree, Black Hare, and Dark Rose presses. Most recently her story, “The Spring Hare,” has been turned into a serial for Stygian Lepus Magazine and her story, “The Bucket,” is featured in It Came from the Trailer Park, Vol 3 by Three Ravens Publishing. Her first novel, Stitches, is currently under agent representation.

Terhi Tatjana is a newbie to the writing community, having just finished her first book (a spicy thriller with romantic suspense and women's fiction elements) that she's in the process of submitting to agents from the 2023 PNWA Conference. Full confession, it is her *actual* second book; the first one hasn't seen the light of day since she completed it in 2012 (lol).

     Terhi functions on coffee, yoga, walks with her cat and horses, along with a steady stream of writing and reading (pretty much all genres except Western and sci-fi). She loves traveling and photography, as well as cooking new recipes (She's a practicing vegan so there's always something new to learn!)

Autumn Wagner is often called a “Renaissance Woman” for her wide-ranging interests, Autumn is an enthusiastic traveler, outdoorswoman, cook , dancer, and lover of the performing arts. She has been working on her debut novel for over a decade.

     Autumn has worked in a variety of corporate settings since her late teens, starting as a claims adjuster and climbing the ladder to management and executive roles training, Human Resources and Change Management. She is wrapping up her corporate career with a contract at Alaska Airlines where she is a “Change Manager” for some fun projects. She relocated from her native San Francisco Bay area in 2021 to Port Orchard on the Kitsap Peninsula.

     Autumn is jazzed to have connected with the PNWA community and attended last year’s retreat, two PNWA conferences, and a variety of online and in-person events. She is looking forward to reconnecting with PNWA friends and meeting new ones at the retreat.

     Autumn’s writing procrastination techniques include studying German on Duolingo and posting reels of her wanderings and meals to her Instagram account. Her grown daughter, Autumn Allee, lives on the east coast and is an opera singer and music teacher. Autumn has also hosted four exchange students who she stays in touch with and sees in person as she can.

Christine Blackwicks lives in Seattle, Washington. She has recently become an empty nester and hopes to put her MFA in creative writing to work by actually submitting the many stories she has written. Hashtag 2024 goals. She writes in a variety of genres but gravitates towards horror, thriller, women’s lit and creative nonfiction. She has one book under her belt, Labyrinth of Subjugation which she is in the process of editing with the hopes of procuring an agent, editor or publisher.

   Currently, Christine is at work on her second novel, working title Cell Meat. When not struggling with better writing habits, she works part-time at Pine Lake Cellars in their tasting room in West Seattle.

     She has two Creepy Pasta stories. Here is an audio version link to one:

Sonya J Day writes contemporary fiction as well as romance and thrillers. She's a member of Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA), and holds a degree in English – Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. She spent most of her life in the Dallas, Texas area, but currently calls Washington state home. There, she's intoxicated by an unfathomable passion for evergreens, lakes, and ferries. Sonya loves travel, a good cup of tea, an eloquently crafted sentence, and the wonder that is single malt scotch.

Lee MacClellan writes. 

Blank Space writes.

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