Epic Group Writers is based in Edmonds, Washington, located just 15 miles north of Seattle. EPIC Group Writers' mission is to create and sustain a community of writers of all levels who share, encourage and nurture the literary and other creative arts for the benefit of the community at large.
Day to day operations of EPIC Group Writers are handled by an all volunteer Board, supported by an Advisory Board of published authors and past Board members. EPIC activities are funded through membership dues and fundraising events.
Membership to EPIC is $25 per calendar year and is tax-deductible. In addition to supporting the activities of EPIC, members receive advance notice of EPIC events and workshops, the annual EPIC picnic, and free admission to member-only events. EPIC workshops and writing groups help writers refine their work, reach potential markets and agents and publish.
An EPIC History
“I can’t remember exactly what happened,” said Kim Votry, when asked about the beginning days of EPIC, “except Janette (Turner) was the instigator.”
Turner laughed. “I remember that part, too.”
Votry and Turner sat down together to map out EPIC’s history. Turner recalled how she wanted a year-round Write on the Sound (WOTS) program, and was led to Edmonds Community College educator Amanda Laughland, along with Judith Works in fall of 2011. The group agreed to start with an evening literary series hosted at the Edmonds Library.
The kickoff speaker, in January 2012, was Skye Moody, author of ‘The Curious Journeys of Flotsam and Jetsam.” Workshops on writing with humor, poetics of place, and how to be a writing team followed, with speakers Clayton Weller of Seattle SketchFest, Judith Roche, and The Writing Sisters: Kizzie Jones, Monda Van Hollebeke, Joanne Peterson, Julia Eulenberg, Reni Roxas and Edythe Stromme.
A literary community began taking shape. But it was in the evenings, and just once a month.
Turner moved to expand EPIC into a weekly, daytime program, and enlisted Works and Votry. Monday Morning Writing Group (MMWG) was born and soon became so popular that most every seat at the table was filled.
Turner started each Monday class by having each writer state a goal for the week. Turner would read a motivational piece, often by Natalie Goldberg, and the assembled writers would scratch out a proposed start line. The group would vote on their favorite line, which could be anything from “what did you put in the coffee” to “sometimes crossing the road isn’t so chicken,” and the writers scribbled without stopping for ten minutes. The writers read their work and at times, the group laughed and shed tears together.
For the second hour of MMWG, speakers provided insight into publishing. New York Times bestselling authors Peter Mountford and Ingrid Ricks spoke, as did other top-notch writers such as Lisa Costantino, Alison Krupnick, Carol Pierson-Holding, Keith Gehrig, Paddy Eger, and Naomi Baltuck.
While MMWG was taking off, behind the scenes EPIC became a formal organization. Works recommended Shunpike as fiscal sponsor, so donors could receive tax breaks. A board was formed in November 2012 with Turner as President; Dianne O’Connell, Vice President; Judith Works, Second Vice President; Kim Votry, Secretary; and Emily Hill, Treasurer.
Three of EPIC’s writers, Kim Votry, Jenn Youngblood, and Karen Heines, took writing workshops to local students, and Votry led NaNoWriMo activities during the month of November. Rubber duckies were deployed in coffee shops to signify writers busy typing away on their novels.
The group set up a bank account, website, and bylaws with the mission to support those who create, communicate and connect through cultural and artistic endeavors, especially the literary arts. Shunpike became EPIC’s fiscal sponsor in 2013. The new nonprofit literary organization, called EPIC Group, held its first writing contest in spring 2013 with the theme, ‘Inspiration.’ One of the early winners, Susan Ferguson, would later join the EPIC board.
EPIC also acquired its first grant, from Hazel Miller Foundation, for Turner’s project teaching memoir writing at Trinity Place, an apartment complex for homeless and abused women and their children. The project helped the women write down their life stories, and two of the women ended up with a published book, ‘Through our Eyes: Two Women and Their Fight for Life.’
In 2014, MMWG continued to attract a full house of writers, and EPIC held a two-weekend workshop in the fall with agent Elizabeth Wales, along with playwright Elena Hartwell, and Ingrid Emerick and Andrea Dunlop of GirlFridayProductions. Before year-end, Turner’s book with the Trinity Place women was finished, and ‘Through Our Eyes’ was published.
To raise money, EPIC board member Ed Davis arranged an annual performance by guitarist Andre Feriante in the Wade James Theatre with board members Dave Gross and Joe Rice donating time to build sets at the theatre. Meanwhile, board members working on the annual writing contest committee included Works, O’Connell, Ferguson, Sheri LaVay, Vivian Murray, Gerald Bigelow, Joe Rice, and Christine Pinto. Courtenay Schurman, as Secretary, kept the group on task at monthly meetings, and Bill Morton pursued grant opportunities.
By the end of 2015, Turner and Morton completed their three-year terms on the board and made room for new board members. Ferguson became President, and bylaws were amended. Board members for 2016 include Vivian Murray, V.P. Membership; Joe Rice, V.P. Marketing, Courtenay Schurman, Secretary; Christine Pinto, Treasurer; Roma Anjoy; Gerald Bigelow; Dave Gross; Victoria ‘Tori’ Peters, and Judith Works. The fourth annual writing contest theme is ‘Not as obvious as it seems…,’ and guitarist Andre Feriante is again headlining the EPIC fundraiser.
Turner, the instigator of years past, is excited for EPIC’s future. “I know this new board will take EPIC to even greater places. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for our community of writers.” Votry agrees. This group is just getting started.
EPIC Group Writers is an Edmonds-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization offering resources to writers since 2012. The purpose of EPIC Group Writers is to create and sustain a community of writers of all levels who share, encourage and nurture the literary and other creative arts for the benefit of the community at large. Epic Group Writers will seek to develop and maintain cooperative relationships with other artistic and cultural entities.
EPIC Group Writers
PO Box 1662
Edmonds, Washington 98020