About WOTS and Edmonds

WOTS session

About WOTS

Established in 1985 by the City of Edmonds Arts Commission, Write on the Sound writers’ conference (WOTS), attracts presenters and participants from all over the Northwest, the U.S. and Canada. The conference is held at the Frances Anderson Center in Edmonds, WA, a historic 1920s-era school building converted in the 1970s to a multi-use recreation and cultural programs facility. Presented in early October, the conference has earned a reputation as a quality, affordable event focused on the craft of writing.

First WOTS posterThe City of Edmonds Arts Commission launched planning for the first conference in 1985 under the guidance of commissioner, author and writing instructor Ann Saling. Approximately 100 people attended the first conference, a single-day event held in late 1986. 

As a program of an arts commission, the inaugural planning committee established the conference's primary focus on the craft of writing. Informational sessions regarding the publishing industry, marketing, author promotion and the business of writing were added to the schedule, but the focus remains on writing craft of fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

The conference, held over 3 days, features over 30 workshops, sessions and panel discussions for all levels and interests. A limited admission of approximately 200 attendees makes WOTS the perfect place to spark your creativity, share ideas, receive up-to-date publishing industry information and network with other writers. 

About Edmonds

Downtown Edmonds

Downtown Edmonds at 5th & Main

Edmonds is a city of 40,000 located on the shores of Puget Sound/Salish Sea in Snohomish County, Washington State, approximately 30 minutes drive north of downtown Seattle.

The town is set along hillsides that feature breathtaking vistas of the Puget Sound/Salish Sea and Olympic Mountains and is home to one of Washington State's famous Puget Sound ferry terminals (Edmonds/Kingston). Enjoy strolling along the waterfront parks, the marsh wildlife preserve, as well as trails through deep wooded parks that feel like a world away from a busy suburban city.

Voted one of "The Best Small Towns to Visit in All 50 States" by Thrillist.com in 2017, and certified in 2018 as the state's first Creative District, downtown Edmonds has a lot to offer: Wander through various boutiques, specialty shops and art galleries . Grab a bite at any number of the downtown's restaurants, cafes and pubs. Visit the historical museum, Cascadia Art Museum, or attend a movie at the historic Edmonds Theater, or a concert at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

For Travel and Accommodations information, go to Explore Edmonds

WOTS Conference Highlights and Speakers

1985-86 - Plans for the first conference, a single-day event, launched. The first conference held in late 1986.  Featured Speaker: Cliff Lenz.

1987 - Featured Speakers: Knute Berger and Ruth Kirk

1988 - Featured Speakers: Stella Cameron and Dennis Stovall

1989 - Featured Speaker: Henriette Klauser

1990 - Featured Speaker: JA Jance

1991 - A graphic design featuring the silhouette of a Washington State Ferry atop a wave, set under an arch of a pencil and pen, was adopted as the official WOTS logo.  Featured Speaker: Jonathan Raban

1992 - The WOTS Writing Contest based on a theme was introduced. Featured Speakers: Sheila Bender and Christi Killien

1993 - Inaugural pop-up bookshop, featuring publications by conference presenters and speakers, presented by Edmonds Bookshop.  Featured Speaker: Ann Rule

1994 - The conference expanded to a day and a half. Featured Speaker: Aaron Elkins

1995- The 10th Anniversary marked the first full-weekend conference. Manuscript critique appointments were added to the conference offerings. Featured Speaker: Anne Lamott

1996 - Featured Speaker: David Guterson

1997 - Featured Speaker: Robert Ferrigno

1998 - Featured Speaker: Colleen McElroy

1999 - Featured Speaker: Katherine Stone

2000-2017 - A special exhibit of book illustrations and a special presentation by the exhibiting artist/illustrator highlighting the connection between the literary and visual arts was held in partnership with the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation.

2000 - Featured Speaker: Henriette Klauser

2001 - Featured Speaker: Dale Furutani

2002 - Featured Speaker: Craig Lesley

2003-2014 - In partnership with Edmonds College English Dept., half-day poetry and writing critique groups were held at the former Edmonds College Conference Center in downtown Edmonds.

2003 - WOTS expands to a 3-day event. Featured Speaker: Robert Michael Pyle

2004 - Featured Speaker: Diana Abu-Jaber

2005 - Featured Speaker: Greg Bear

2006 - Featured Speaker: Elizabeth George

2007 - Half-day workshops were added to the schedule. Featured Speaker: Timothy Egan

2008 - Featured Speaker: Samuel Green

2009 - Featured Speaker: Brian McDonald

2010 - The 25th Anniversary honored conference founders. Featured Speaker: Natalie Goldberg

2011 - A full-day workshop was added to the Friday schedule. Featured Speaker: John Daniel

2012 - Featured Speaker: Carla Neggers

2013 - Featured Speaker: Benjamin Percy

2014 - Featured Speaker: Robert J. Sawyer

2015 - WOTS 30th Anniversary celebrated, and a new brochure design introduced. Featured Speakers: Rick Steves and Stella Cameron

2016 - Poetry manuscript critique appointments added to conference offerings. Featured Speaker: John Moe

2017 - After Hours activities introduced, lead by EPIC Group Writers, including open mic night. Featured Speaker: Kristin Hannah in conversation with Megan Chance

2018 - Featured Speaker: Cara Black

2019 - Featured Speaker: Charles Johnson

2020-22 - Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the conference was held entirely online. Featured Speakers: Jane Friedman, 2020;  Lisa See, 2021; Dana Spiotta & Shawn Wong, 2022

2023 - Return to in-person event with select sessions provided online. Keynote Speaker: Jamie Ford. Featured Presentation: Rick Steves

2024 - Featured Speaker: Jamie Harrison