Bibliophiles, clear your calendar April 12 through April 14. Tolovana Arts Colony presents the second annual “Get Lit at the Beach, A Gathering for Readers.”

The event offers book lovers and budding novelists an opportunity to rub elbows with their favorite authors.

Covering three days at three Cannon Beach venues, the event will bring together seven best-selling authors representing different genres: Terry Brooks, Ursula Le Guin, Willy Vlautin, Chelsea Cain, Erica Bauermeister, Phil Margolin, and Garth Stein.

The event kicks off Friday at the Cannon Beach Book Compnay with an authors cocktail reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Saturday features a full schedule of author talks and book signings at the Surfsand Resort. Willy Vlautin will kick things off at 10 a.m., followed by Phil Margolin at 1 p.m. and Garth Stein and Erica Bauermeister at 3 p.m.

The evening will be highlighted by a prime rib dinner with featured speaker Chelsea Cain, introduced by Cannon Beach’s own Terry Brooks.

Ursula Le Guin will be recognized with special honors for her years of literary contributions. The dinner and presentations will run from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The gathering will wrap up on Sunday with a free question-and-answer panel with all seven authors at the Coaster Theatre from 10 a.m. to noon.

The Cannon Beach Book Company will provide books and book signings throughout the event.

Event is evolving

The event expanded this year; seven attending authors is a jump from the four at the 2012 event.

“Last year was our first go at this,” said Valerie Vines Magee, Tolovana Arts Colony program manager and planner for the event. “It was very well received, and we saw people coming from all around the country, from as far away as Georgia and Hawaii.”

The gathering had its origins in Cannon Beach as local organizers sought to encourage visitor participation in the local arts.

“It was really the brainchild of author Terry Brooks and Valerie Ryan of Cannon Beach Book Company,” Magee said. “They put their heads together with Mayor Mike Morgan and came up with the idea of getting authors in one place at one time.”

Sponsored by the city of Cannon Beach’s tourism and arts commission, the event quickly took shape.

“We had about 100 attendees in 2012,” Magee said. “We’re hoping to surpass that this year.”

The event’s community model offers a multitude of reasons to be excited about participating.

“It’s huge to have all of these best-selling authors in town,” Magee said. “It’s important for TAC to help promote local arts, it promotes local tourism and it’s a very personal, informal event.”

The informality of the event holds special appeal to fans of the authors.

“We discovered that people will follow their favorite author to wherever they are giving a talk,” Magee said. “Oftentimes, when authors go on tour, they speak at large auditoriums where it’s hard to get the one-on-one this event offers.”

In promoting the event, local businesses are working hand-in-hand to make it a success.

“We have three local hotels – the Surfsand, the Ocean Lodge, and the Hallmark – offering discounted lodging during the event,” Magee said. “It makes for a great excuse to come to the beach and see the gathering.”

Coinciding with the beginning of 12 Days of Earth Day celebration, visitors won’t have a chance to be bored.

“There’s something for the nature-lover in the family, the art-lover in the family and the book-lover in the family,” Magee said.

Willy Vlautin values personal connection

While fans of all of the presenters are surely excited to meet and hear from their favorite writers, the authors themselves also find enjoyment in meeting their readers and peers.

Author Willy Vlautin values the personal connection with fellow writers that “Get Lit at the Beach” offers.

“The best thing about these sorts of events is that you get to meet other writers,” he said. “Before I had a book out, I never met any writers. I barely met anyone who liked novels. So to be around people that like to write and read novels is a great experience for me.”

Inspired by writers like Raymond Carver, Vlautin has penned three acclaimed novels with a fourth on the horizon.

Vlautin, who is also an accomplished musician, enjoys getting absorbed in his characters.

“The best thing for me is just the disappearing aspect. When you're working on a story or a song that is working, you just disappear into that world,” he said. “It's a pretty exciting time. Later on you might beat yourself up about it or worry about its merit, but at first when you're just rolling, it's a great time.”

The cliché that "writers write" is applicable to Vlautin, who recently handed off his fourth novel, "The Free," to his publishers last fall.

"It's about nursing and the painful effects of caring for people long-term," he said. "It's something bigger than I normally do."

“The Free” will be published next March.

Above all, Vlautin is an advocate of supporting the small bookstores that are so important to his success.

“At a locally owned bookstore, you get a personal guide to finding the book that fits you,” he said. “Bookstores like Cannon Beach Book Company are a great asset in that way. You come in and they know you, and they'll find you books that they know you'll like as well as nudge you towards books you wouldn't normally notice.”

Vlautin is looking forward to participating and sharing his craft with others while taking in Cannon Beach.

“I loved being invited to this event,” he said. “There are great writers involved, and, of course, it's on the coast.”

Chelsea Cain studies Cannon Beach

Chelsea Cain loves giving readers the creeps with her irreverent thrillers. Titles such as “Heartsick” and “The Night Season” do their best to keep readers up all night.

Cain also loves being invited to share them with the “Get Lit” audience.

“The organizers overwhelmed me with a very effective charm campaign that began three years ago. These people are tenacious, and I am vulnerable to flattery,” Cain said. “Also, I have always enjoyed my past events in Cannon Beach.  The audiences are smart and well-read and pleasant in that way that people tend to be when they live somewhere beautiful. Plus, you have a really awesome candy store.”

Cain realizes that independent bookstores are not only important to her continued success but are vital community institutions.

“Independent bookstores are going the way of record stores, which is to say that in five years there will be far fewer of them,” Cain said. “It’s so easy and cheap to order a book online, or download an e-book.  It’s technology. It’s progress. 

“But there is a social cost.  These stores are a huge part of their communities, and we are losing them.  It’s readers who will decide what bookstores survive, and the only way to do that is with their checkbooks.”

Like any good caper, Cain relishes the moment in the writing process where she knows she’s gotten away with it.

“I think that the key to writing is audaciousness,” she said. “You have to be so self-involved and confident and hopelessly unrealistic and sort of socially blind enough to believe that you can finish a book and that someone will want to read it.  A whole book!  What kind of narcissistic jerk thinks he can pull that off?  It’s insane, really.”

Events such as “Get Lit” serve as material for Cain’s writing.

“At events, I get great ideas for where to murder people,” she said. “I just turned in a short story that takes place at Cannon Beach and features a serial killer surfer, so if anyone has questions about how human remains decompose in wet sand I can answer them. The story will only be published in Norway.  So if you have any Norwegian relatives, get them to send you a copy.”


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