2018 Date Coming Soon

VORTEXT is an extraordinary weekend salon at the famed Whidbey Institute, led by renowned women writers.

The program, now in its sixth year, gives writers the opportunity to connect in diverse and powerful small-group workshops. Writers also enjoy dynamic keynotes and discussions about opportunities and challenges for women who write, as well as several open mics over the course of the weekend.

Join us to share meals, conversation and community in a stunningly beautiful setting.

Dates: 2018 Date Coming Soon

Location: Whidbey Institute | Whidbey Island, WA


Coming Soon

Registration includes: all keynotes and three workshops of your choice, group sessions and free time to write as well as breakfast, lunch, and daily reception.

* Accommodations must be arranged separately. See the accommodations section below.

Registration for VORTEXT is through a third-party site. Full payment is due at the time of registration. Please call 360-321-4786 for any questions or concerns, or if you need help with your registration.

Cancellation policy: For registration and accommodations a full refund less a $50 fee for each will be given until April 5th; cancellation after April 5th will forfeit the full amount.

* If you have questions or if you are planning to give this experience as a gift, please contact us by phone at 360-321-4786 or email our office at hedgebrook@hedgebrook.org.

Daily Schedule

9:30 – 10:30 AM: Two Keynotes (30 minutes each)

There will be two keynotes each day.

10:45 AM – 1 PM: Workshop Discussions

Break out into one of six workshop/discussions. Session includes writing exercises.

1 PM: Lunch

Afternoon:  free writing time

3:30 PM:  Panel discussion on a topic chosen by the community

5 – 6 PM: Open Mic with wine & cheese reception (Fri, Sat)

Workshops & Teachers

You will take one workshop per day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, for a total of three workshops. During registration, choose three workshops from the selection below.

In addition, each instructor will present a Keynote during the course of the weekend. Keynotes and all other activities are open to all participants.

Announcing the 2017 roster:


Using the Senses to Make Your Writing More Powerful & Persuasive – Class Full

Descriptive, sensory writing is an answer to every critic who says Show, don’t tell. It transports us across time and space, breathes life into characters, performs emotion and theme, immerses us in culture and provides the material of image and metaphor. In this interactive workshop, you will use exercises, readings and prompts to awaken all five senses, and the memories held in our bodies that want to become stories.


Writing Your Truth Without Hurting Anyone

In the memoir or novel you’re writing, you must prepare yourself to be challenged on your “version” of your own life. Many writers struggle with guilt and shame which can affect the flow of the work, as well as the completion or publication of the project. We are going to discuss strategies to prepare the family and the writer for the potential fall-out from their work. Looking at research techniques, building alliances and collaborative memory-making.


The Music of Voice – Class Full

When I asked several editors what was the first thing they looked for in a manuscript, they replied, “Voice.”  But what does that mean?  Finding one’s voice and how to use it is at the heart of all good fiction and nonfiction.  At its best it takes the reader past the words to the characters’ experiences.  We’ll explore the techniques and mechanics in achieving a strong, distinctive voice that will reverberate long after a story has ended. This workshop will look at different ways of finding your own unique voice. 


Mystery, Urgency, Surprise. – Class Full 

The stories and poems that grab us and change us, and that we will always remember, have something in common: they took us on a journey that we did not expect. Luckily for us, our material – life – is “difficult, hard to understand, useless, and mysterious.” We’ll do some exercises to tap into your personal urgencies and mysteries, and explode your old habits to find what your writing needs – perhaps a startling juxtaposition of images, a disconcerting character, a hard-earned truth, or a plot twist – to make it unforgettable. Writers in all genres welcome.


Finding Your Material

This workshop will focus on generating ideas that might turn into plots, that might turn into stories.  There will be both individual and collaborative exercises and I plan on much class discussion.  Although the focus will be on new work, I do hope these exercises might also produce inspiration for juicing old, stale scenes and outlines.  At the very least, it should be fun.  Mostly for fiction writers, but anyone can play.  Nothing required in advance, but bring a pen and paper.


How the Fantastic Inspires Your Fiction: The Vampire as a Flexible Metaphor 

What is a vampire story really about? Why do ghost stories hold such an enduring appeal? Introducing the fantastic into a narrative creates new opportunities, new challenges. What are the rules of writing fantasy, and how we tether the unreal to the real? This workshop may also be useful for non-fiction writers who are interested in how fiction works, and how can we bring fantastic elements into our writing to inspire new ideas. In this workshop, we will discuss and play with metaphors: real toads; family ghost stories; uncanniness; monster girls. There will be exercises and some short writing prompts.


The Whidbey Institute at Chinook has a limited number of rooms available on a first come-first served basis. Accommodations range from cabins, to private rooms with shared bath, to dorm-like rooms with single beds, to tent camping, and are priced accordingly.

Nearby Hawk’s Perch is within walking distance of The Whidbey Institute and has several rooms available for VORTEXT attendees. Accommodations include two en-suite rooms and two rooms with shared bath.

All rooms/cabins at The Whidbey Institute and Hawk’s Perch are available for a minimum of 3 nights and up to 4 nights.

To arrange accommodations at Whidbey Institute or Hawk’s Perch, contact Julie O’Brien at julieo@hedgebrook.org or (360) 321-4786.

Note for past attendees: Aldermarsh is not available this year due to booking conflicts. We anticipate being able to offer accommodations at Aldermarsh again next year. 

Cancellation policy: For all accommodations a full refund less a $50 fee with be given until April 5th; cancellation after April 5th will forfeit the full amount.

Off-site Accommodations: Participants may choose to stay at an Inn, Bed & Breakfast or Hotel on Whidbey. The link below will take you to information on local accommodations. In addition there are several local listings on airbnb and vrbo.

Download a list of off-site accommodations.

Whidbey Institute Rooms and Rates:

The Farmhouse is a fully restored, charming, late 19th century home set amongst lush woodlands. The first floor has a relaxed and casual living room featuring a hearth and large woodstove, comfortable chairs and couches. Other features include a large country kitchen, covered porch, and an expansive outside deck. The second floor offers seven quaint bedrooms and two shared full bathrooms. Room rates vary from $80 – $140/night.


Granny’s House, another beautifully restored home, offers a full kitchen, comfortable living room and a wood-burning stove. On the first floor, there are two bedrooms and a “dorm” room that comfortably sleeps 5, all sharing a 3/4 bath. There are two bedrooms sharing a full bath on the second floor. Room rates vary from $50 – $120/night.


There are three cabins conveniently located near Madrone Meadow, all comfortably appointed. Showers, restrooms, and an outdoor kitchen are provided in a nearby, separate building.

Bagend is the largest cabin at the Whidbey Institute. This cabin offers two single beds, a small wood stove and a meditation loft for $100/night.

Hermitage, a quaint, small, but comfortably rustic cabin, is furnished with a double bed, bedside table and a rocker, with a beautiful view of the meadow for $65/night.

Heron, a small but comfortably rustic cabin, is furnished with a single bed, bedside table and a rattan chair for $60/night.


Tent camping in the Madrone Meadow is also offered for $50/site/4 nights. Situated close to the cabins and Garbanzo (the shower, restroom and kitchen building), this site affords one or two-person tents. Please bring your own tent, bedding and towel.