Get to Know Us!

At the Independent Writers’ Studio, I offer two groups for writers: Monday afternoons from 1-3 PM and Tuesday evenings, 7-9 PM.

The room is an invitation to write: a long and much loved red mahogany table, a coffee pot perking, and tea water heating await group members.   Our writers come from all walks of life, and many have found a niche with us.  A calendar is on the wall of the studio on the third floor of the Clover Block building. An old photo of my grandma Anderson presides on the corner chair — she was young in the photo taken sometime before 1900.  Copies of Clover, A Literary Rag and awards and posters from previous Clover events are  evident.

Grandma Alice Anderson

I begin each group with a writer’s exercise — questions — with the directions –choose one or more  or none but write for ten minutes or so.  When time is called and hellos are shared we go around the table reading the answers to the questions.  If a writer chooses not to share, that is fine.

We are not here to force a certain way to  write or a how/to to take part in the group structure. We are here to write and to motivate all of us to bring our writing up a notch — no matter what level you believe your writing is on — it can move demonstrably in a group setting.

I encourage writers to understand his or her process when it comes to writing with the hope of gaining a keen understanding of our muses — when/ where and how to take advantage of the artistic urge to write.

When we finish sharing answers to questions, each person at the table has at least 10 minutes to present a portion of the project he or she is  working on — the range for projects have included non fiction guides, poetry, novel, essay, children’s and young adult fiction, and journaling. Each one brings a copy for me to follow along and/or copies for the group to read along with the writer.

My job is to mentor the process — I am candid and honest and my only goal is to make sure that the writer and I are on the same track. After I respond others in the group do as they may.  The questions and discussions that ensue are insightful.  We are the finest audience for new material — we listen with keen interest.

So come on in and see for yourself — get to know us. The cost is $11 a session and the first time is free.  If you pop in please bring something of yours to share. We love new voices.

Look forward to seeing our ad in Whatcom Watch and on Facebook.


Room 306
Clover Block Building — corner of Commercial and Holly, downtown Bellingham.
Mondays 1-3 PM
Tuesday evening, 7-9 PM





Four Candles

Officially we will celebrate the Independent Writers’ Studio’s birthday at our Clover, A Literary Rag event on Saturday, September 28th at Village Books.  Wish us well.  Join us then for a reading from our Volume 5 of Clover.  The studio is four years old, and is a Recession baby.   She’s up and walking and talking.

The idea of a literary magazine grew out of the groups.  Norman Green and I wanted to highlight the fine work done by those who consistently and faithfully bring their poems and stories to the table.  The idea grew and Clover now gets submissions from some of the finest writers  around–and that  challenges us to a higher bar.cropped-iws-group.jpg

So in a lovely way, we celebrate Clover’s birthday, too.

I believe anyone who has a poem in the heart should have a voice in the world.

Thank-you Wednesday night group.  Thank-you Monday group.  Keep those nouns and verbs coming.

Happy Birthday IWS.



Join Us!

Mark Saturday, September 28th on your calendar! Join us.
Mark Saturday, September 28th on your calendar! Join us.


Clover comes to Village Books September 28th at 7 PM.   Eight wonderful readers from our fifth volume of Clover, A Literary Rag  promise a lively evening.  Returning from Seattle is Paul Hunter —PBS ran a piece about Paul a few years back and we are delighted to have him with us again.  Joining us from Portland is Jon Reitzel.  Thank-you both for making the trip.  Nancy Canyon, Luther Allen, Marla Morrow, Jim Milstead, and Caitlin Thomson round out our readers.  But we may have a surprise or two… you just never know.

Our reading is not all, Abbe Rolnick, a member of the Independent Writers’ Studio, reads from her new novel Color of Lies at 4 PM  on Saturday the 28th.  We plan to be at Abbe’s reading, and I am waiting until then for her to sign my book.  Hope to see you there.

A wonderful IWS/Clover day at everyone’s favorite home grown bookstore.  Village Books makes us possible.  Thank-you Chuck and Dee.


A Verve for the Word

News from the Sue C Boynton blog includes updates for poetry workshops and the annual Sue. C. Boynton poetry contest.  I am honored, along with poet Bruce Beasley, to be a judge in this year’s competition.

Bellingham, Washington boast: We have a poetry walk along the entrance to the library — poems are selected from the competitors in the Boynton contest to be on display for a year.  Poems are also selected to be on the buses as they tool around Whatcom County.

We have a verve for the word in Bellingham.

Presenting Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner

The Independent Writers’ Studio is proud to present a fiction writer’s workshop led by author Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner. The workshop will be given in two parts on subsequent Wednesdays, March 21 & 28th at 7 PM at the Whidbey Island Bank in Fairhaven — Bellingham, Washington.

Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner’s first novel, Dancing Naked, is the sort of story that keeps the light on at 3 AM – it did mine. Poet David Lee calls Van Wagoner, one of the finest writers in America.  The awards given his writing and this novel speak for themselves.

Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner’s next two novels, Come the Stygian Night and Cautionary Tales debut this summer. The magazine associated with IWS, Clover, A Literary Rag will have a piece of Cautionary Tales in its next edition.

As an editor and as a teacher, I am overwhelmed with gratitude at Rob’s offer to do this workshop through the Independent Writers’ Studio. It is a fundraiser for Clover, A Literary Rag.

We have two or three seats left.  The cost is $80, and it is a commitment for both evenings. Contact Mary Gillilan at 360.961.4477 for your reservation.  Or email me at with any questions.


Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner’s first novel, Dancing Naked was awarded the Utah
Center for the Book’s Utah Book Award and the Utah Arts Council’s Publication Prize. His short stories have appeared in literary periodicals, ezines and anthologies, including The Best of Writers at Work and In Our Lovely Deseret, and have been selected for various awards, including Carolina Quarterly’s Charles B. Wood Award for Distinguished Writing, Shenandoah’s Jeanne Charpiot Goodheart Award for Fiction, Sunstone’s Brookie and D.K. Brown Memorial Fiction Award, and Weber Studies’ Dr. O. Marvin Lewis Award for Best Fiction, 1994-1997. Van Wagoner’s two forthcoming novels, both literary thrillers, are highly influenced by the traditions and landscapes unique to their settings: Cautionary Tales in Ogden, Utah, and Come the Stygian Night in the rural foothills of Washington’s North Cascades, on the banks of the mighty Skagit River. He and his family live in Washington State.