Aspiring authors find a home at writing cottage

October 26, 2010

By Stephannie Stokes

The Pacific Northwest Writers Association has opened a “writers’ cottage” in Gilman Village, which will be its new official home as well as a meeting place for casual writers and published authors alike.

Pacific Northwest Writers Association President Pam Binder (left) and Sandy McCormac talk shop in the writers’ cottage in Gilman Village. By Stepphanie Stokes

The association began in 1955 and is one of the oldest writers’ associations in the United States. But only now has it been able to create a real place of congregation for its members, president Pam Binder said.

“A lot of our members kept asking for a place to stop by and talk with writers,” she said. “We never really had a place that was like that.”

To mark this new start, the nonprofit organization will hold an open house at the cottage from 3-6 p.m. Oct. 30. The event will feature book signings with several published authors who are also members of the association.

Aside from events, which they hope to hold monthly, Binder said, the cottage is really a resource for its members and other writers. Anyone who dreams of one day writing a novel may come into the cottage during its open hours and take advantage of what it has to offer.

“If there are people that want to come in and write, we want to be open for them,” she said.

The cottage features a bright, open room illuminated by many large windows; on a recent day, sunlight flooded the space. A large wooden table in the center of the room beckons anyone who wants to sit and work, or chat. Large bookshelves filled with books line two sides of the room. Several comfy chairs in the entryway give a homey feel.

Indeed, the mission of the association, originally formed for the Northwest Writers Conference, is to help authors through the difficult process of finding a publisher and starting their writing career. Board member Sandy McCormac said she believes that each person has a story to tell; the association is there to carry writers from this initial stage to the fulfillment of their potential as a writer.

“It’s about helping people find their voice,” she said.

Inside the cottage are a wide variety of donated books, many of them written by members, including Jane Porter’s “Flirting with Forty.” Binder said they have no intention of becoming a bookstore; rather, they wish the cottage to be a resource where members may find books published by other members.

“We send out these authors and they give back,” Binder said. “We often hear of success stories.”

Although the association covers the Northwest region and beyond, Gilman Village was chosen to be the organization’s new home in part because both the president and vice president reside in Issaquah. Indeed, with the small house-like buildings of Gilman Village surrounding the cottage, McCormac said they hoped it could be a quiet and serene place for aspiring writers.

For that reason, they chose the word “cottage,” which is associated with the idea of tranquility, McCormac said.

Ruth Mohl, owner of Gilman Village, said she was glad that the organization moved in.

“It’s a nice addition to the place,” she said.

In fact, the new location has attracted the attention of many living in Issaquah, Binder said. With a lot of people dropping by, she said, the association has grown in membership.

According to Bill Kenower, editor of the organization’s online magazine, Author, the association offers great resources. He said the board hopes the cottage will attract foot traffic.

“They wanted people to be able to come in and find out what PNWA actually is,” he said.

Those hoping to hone their writing skills with the Pacific Northwest Writers Association can stop by the cottage in Space No. 8 at Gilman Village, or visit the website for a list of upcoming events. Official hours have not yet been set up, but Binder said there is usually someone there most days.

Stephannie Stokes is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at

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