In 2016, Gary and I were living in Houston, looking for a road-less-traveled spot to settle down after his retirement. Truman Capote famously said, "Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act." We were determined to re-author our golden years as a dynamic coming-together of everything we'd loved and learned during the previous 35 years of work, travel, and tomfoolery, starting with our post-hippie nuptial wed-in outside Bozeman in 1983. A writer friend from Seattle told us about "this charming little harbor town on the coast." When I Googled Westport, Washington, the first thing that popped up was a picture of the lighthouse, and I was smitten.
This corner of the Pacific Northwest is an amazing place to live and write. I write, ramble, and volunteer with the local historical society. Gary paints, tumbles rocks, and practices culinary wizardry. The breeze smells like beach grass, heather, and salt. The ever-changing water and sky take our breath away, day and night. We're humbly grateful to be here, and we look forward to welcoming you.
To survive and thrive in this tough business, we must tend our creative spirits and care for one another. So that's what this place is all about. Throughout my publishing career, brilliant colleagues have mentored, challenged, and uplifted me. Westport Lighthouse Writers Retreat is my way of paying that forward. Our goal is to offer visiting writers the space and support they need to take their work to the next level.
Peace and grooviness ~
MEET JONI & GARY
"I don't believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one's aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism."
Where are you located?
We're high on the Pacific Coast in WA, adjacent to Westport Light State Park and the charming town of Westport, about three hours north of Portland.
How do I get there?
Most visiting writers fly into Portland, OR (PDX) or Seattle, WA (SEA). There are usually carpools for group retreats.
We work exclusively with Vacations by the Sea to provide luxury beach condos for our visiting writers. You'll have a private room and bathroom, fully equipped kitchen, and a balcony with stunning view.
How's the weather?
The Pacific Northwest seaside weather is unpredictable but moderate during the quiet fall and winter seasons: often rainy, rarely below 40 at night, seldom above 50 during the day.
What about accessibility?
There are elevators in most buildings. The state park trail is paved with ramps to observation decks.
Author/ghostwriter Joni Rodgers
Cofounder and program director
A voracious reader since early childhood, Joni grew up in a family bluegrass band, studied theatre and English at Viterbo College of Fine Arts, and continued performing until 1994, when she was diagnosed with blood cancer. She used the chemo downtime to finish her first two novels, Crazy for Trying and Sugarland, both regional bestsellers published to critical acclaim. Joni’s first memoir, Bald in the Land of Big Hair, was an international bestseller and brought her to the attention of celebrities and other extraordinary people who asked her to help them tell their stories. As a ghostwriter and book doctor specializing in high profile memoirs, Joni has collaborated on a long string of NYT bestsellers and an Oscar nominated screenplay, working with a diverse list of clients, including Kristin Chenoweth, Swoosie Kurtz, Rue McClanahan, Mayte Garcia, Elizabeth Smart, and many others. On her own, she's authored five novels, two memoirs, and an essay collection.
Artist Gary Rodgers
Cofounder and chef de cuisine
Gary attended the Culinary Institute of America and spent many years as a hotel and country club executive chef. His love of travel led to a second career in the airline industry while he continued cooking and baking purely for the joy of it. Retiring to the Pacific Northwest, Gary spends his time fishing, painting, making wine, and welcoming our visiting writers. Inspired by locally sourced ingredients, Gary combines the comfort of home cooking with the art of classic cuisine. Bread and pastries are fresh baked. Butter and ice cream are home churned. Condiments like jams, jellies, catsup and mustard are made from Gary’s own recipes. You never know what might come out of Gary’s kitchen, because he rolls with the changes at the local farmers market and pretty much does whatever he feels like doing. Joni is a vegetarian, so veggie options are always available. You’re welcome to stop by our kitchen and visit Gary any time you need a fresh cookie or an old joke.
VISITING FACULTY & STAFF
Culinary Artist Jared Sacramento: Visiting Chef
It’s not surprising that fusion is Jared’s thing; he grew up in the United States, Australia, and Norway and has traveled extensively in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Inspired by the bold flavors and vibrant personality of the African cuisine he grew up with, Jared learned to cook from his Sao Tomean father and Scandinavian mom and pursued formal training through the American Culinary Federation program in Denver. Jared hates measuring, loves creating new recipes, and continues to develop his unique culinary voice.
Author/Editor Dawn Raffel
Zen & Ink: A Yogini Teaches Creative Writing, Spring 2019
Dawn Raffel is the critically acclaimed author of The Secret Life of Objects, Carrying the Body, and In the Year of Long Division. Her short stories, essays and articles have appeared in national magazines, literary quarterlies, and collections. Her long career as a fiction editor includes senior and at large editorial gigs at O, the Oprah Magazine, Readers Digest, More, and the Center for Fiction. She's taught writing in the MFA program at Columbia University and summer seminars in Russia and Lithuania. While writing her fifth book, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney, Dawn earned her certification as a Bhakti yoga instructor. "I was in a class full of beautiful 20 and 30-something yoginis," says Dawn, "and I'm kind of a klutz. But I wanted to integrate yoga with creative writing in a way I haven't seen before. Not just do some yoga and barf your thoughts into a journal; I'm talking about integrating yoga philosophy into a writing practice that is precise, sustainable, embodied, meaningful, challenging, and ultimately joyful."
NYT bestselling ghostwriter Michelle Burford
Ghostmasters Ghostwriting Intensive, Fall 2019
Sought-after ghostwriter Michelle Burford is a founding editor of O, The Oprah Magazine and has co-authored many high profile memoirs, including two that debuted at #1 on the NYT bestseller list. She's known for her top flight craft skills, ability to deliver on insanely tight deadlines, and deft touch with highly sensitive personal subject matter. Her diverse client list includes Olympic champions Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas, R&B singer Toni Braxton, Dancing with the Stars sensation Amy Purdy, Orange Is the New Black actress Diane Guerrero, former Dallas Police Chief and ABC News correspondent David Brown, Fixer Upper carpenter Clint Harp, Cleveland kidnapping survivor Michelle Knight, and others.
PAST VISITING FACULTY
NYT bestselling ghostwriter Eve Adamson Minkler
Ghostwriting Intensive, Winter 2018
Eve Adamson is a nine-time New York Times bestselling author and multiple award-winning writer who specializes in collaborating with celebrities and established professionals to create nonfiction books about health, dieting, fitness, self-help, personal development, and memoir. She has collaborated on over 75 published books, including the #1 New York Times best-selling book The Fast Metabolism Diet and other bestsellers with celebrity nutritionist Haylie Pomroy, all five of TV star Bethenny Frankel’s New York Times best sellers, and dozens of other books with celebrities and experts. Learn more about Eve and her work at www.eveinkbooks.com.
NYT bestselling author Ingrid Ricks
Memoir Intensive, Fall 2018
Ingrid Ricks is a New York Times bestselling memoir author, ghostwriter, narrative writing consultant and founder of Write It Out Loud, a program that fosters healing and empowerment through personal narrative. Her books include the coming-of-age memoir, Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story and Focus, a memoir about her journey with the blinding eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa. She recently teamed with African Children’s Choir Founder Ray Barnett to write his inspiring memoir. Ingrid is passionate about social justice issues and about leveraging narrative writing and the new world of publishing to give both teens and adults a voice. Ingrid lives in Seattle with her husband and two daughters. For more information about her narrative writing program, visit www.writeitoutloud.org.