Sunday, December 24, 2006

New Release Spotlight: Dear John

Dear John, By Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks is famous for being the writer of hits like Message in a Bottle and A Walk to Remember. Like these movies, the novel Dear John is sweet, the ideal love story for all those people who are true romantics. In an “opposites attract” story, ex-solder John Tyree meets college girl Savannah Curtis as she does volunteer work building houses. The two young people share several heartwarming scenes, including one under the stars, in which falling in love appears simple and easy. There is also an interesting subplot involving John and his connection to his father. When September 11th occurs, however, John’s re-enlisting in the army creates a horrible strain on his relationship with Savannah, the girl he believes is his one true love. Like all of Spark’s novels, however, the ending leaves the reader cursing the cruelty of fate, as the “Dear John” letter inevitably arrives from the United States and crushes John as he works in Iraq. Sparks does a good job avoiding too much political commentary, despite the controversy of the war in Iraq, and he uses the army lingo in a very natural fashion. The dialogue, though, often appears sappy and unrealistic. Sparks’ books are beginning to be too predictable: boy meets girl, something horrible happens, boy and girl are not able to overcome, and heartbreak ensues. Perhaps Sparks should attempt to write a happy ending just for some variety.

Review by Maureen Inouye, Indigo Editing, LLC

New Release Spotlight: I Feel Bad About My Neck

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, By Nora Ephron

This new book of essays by the writer of such hits as Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail is amazingly funny. Short, sweet chapters are full of insights about the trials and tribulations that women face as they begin to age. Ephron’s writing is wonderful, with the same comedic timing that makes her screenplays so memorable. She has a voice that is both charming and wise. All women will relate to her insights on some level. No subject is sacred as Ephron provides her perceptions on things like reading, why women’s purses are often over-stuffed, and even sex. Despite the funny stories, however, this book is best read in several separate sittings because the book begins to feel superficial after a while. And for younger women, some of the angst of aging (and the pressures to get Botox) are still unfelt – so that Ephron’s impact is probably only felt fully by those over fifty, like herself. But if you are looking for a simple, fun book, full of honesty and feminine wit, this is a great short read.

Review by Maureen Inouye, Indigo Editing, LLC

Friday, December 22, 2006

Short Story Contest

Announcing the 3rd Annual

Ooligan's Choice Short Story Contest

What: Unpublished short stories (maximum of 4000 words, one story per person)

Theme: The Hidden Self (Exposing that which you keep hidden)

Who’s eligible: The Portland State community, past and present

When: Submit by midnight, January 21, 2007

How: Send a Word document, double-spaced and formatted in 12-point type, via email attachment to Include your name and title of your story.

Judges: The Ooligan Press Editors

The Ooligan Press Editors will carefully select and professionally edit the four best entries.The winning stories will receive the Ooligan Editors’ Choice Award and will be published in Ooligan’s Best Short Stories of 2007, our annual electronic journal.

Sponsored by Portland State University’sPublishing Program and Ooligan Press

Monday, December 18, 2006

Question: Editorial Duties

Suzanne asked: So what does an editor do? Is your main duty correcting grammar?

Correcting grammar is definitely a part of being an editor, but certainly not the main duty. Editors often have the larger job of developmental editing, working through a book with suggestions on plot and character development in fiction books and research and argument strength in nonfiction books. In developmental editing, the editor becomes an advocate for readers, flagging potentially confusing passages, watching for details that are unnecessary or misleading, and sometimes recommending a complete restructuring of the book in order to bring it to its highest potential. The editor and author work together as they pass through developmental editing and revision stages at least twice, usually three or four times, before even moving on to the proofreading and grammar checking stage.

Furthermore, editors watch trends in publishing and bookselling to help their authors keep up with the competition. If a manuscript is originally historical fiction, but bookbuying trends lean toward books that include a supernatural element, the editor and author could work together to introduce this new element and give the book a marketing edge.

While aspiring authors often view editors as the stereotypical apathetic critic, the reality is that many authors say their books would not be what they are without the assistance of their editors.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Glimmer Train Press Contest

Fiction Writing Competition

Glimmer Train Press is now accepting submissions for their winter Fiction Open competition.
First Place: $2,000, publication in the winter edition of Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of the anthology
Second Place: $1,000 and acknowledgement in Glimmer Train Stories
Third Place: $600 and acknowledgement in Glimmer Train Stories

The stories can be any length (under 20,000 words) and any theme.

The entries can be submitted online and will be accepted from Nov. 1, 2006 through Jan. 15, 2007.

For more information, see

Monday, December 11, 2006

Chicago Manual of Style...on CD

Have you ever thrown your back out by carrying the large orange Chicago Manual of Style? Well, worry no more. You can now buy the manual on CD, which is much lighter and adds the benefit of electronic searches instead of digging through the index only to be confused by the numbering system. Isn't technology great?

Visit the Chicago Manual Web site to learn more about it.

Buy it for less at Amazon.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Plagiarism in the News

With the recent accusations of plagiarism against Kaavya Viswanathan, Publishers Weekly interviews Judge Richard Posner, U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, on plagiarism from Shakespeare's day to present.

Copyright and intellectual property laws do not protect ideas, but merely the words used to express them. This is how so many genre fiction books, and sometimes literary fiction books, that seem to follow the same formula remain safe from legal prosecution. The danger comes in using another author's words without due credit and permission.

Some authors encourage aspiring authors to use plots already on the market to get their creative juices flowing. It can serve as a writing exercise until you build a plot of your own. The movie Finding Forrester features an author encouraging his student to use the first lines of his own short stories to serve as a starting point. While these are indeed great exercises to break writer's block and keep the words coming, it's important to realize that these are simply exercises. Aspiring authors must return to these plagiarized passages and make them unique before passing them on to the public. And while using an existing plot as an outline is not technically plagiarism, the lack of originality will prove a hindrance in seeking a publisher.

Posner touches on the fact that many schools and universities are using software such as Turnitin to scan academic papers and discipline plagiarists. Most schools administer a failing grade to students who are caught plagiarizing, and Posner recommends that publishers begin using a similar software to verify originality of manuscripts before accepting them for publication.

"We may be entering the twilight of plagiarism," he says.

Read the article preview at and watch for the full article in the November 27 issue of Publishers Weekly. Take a moment to check out Posner's book, The Little Book of Plagiarism, as well.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Congratulations OBA winners!

Congratulations to this year's Oregon Book Award winners!

George Aguilar, Sr., in Creative Nonfiction for When the River Ran Wild! Indian Traditions on the Mid-Columbia and the Warm Springs Reservation

Andrew Bernstein in General Nonfiction for Modern Passings: Death Rites, Politics, and Social Change in Imperial Japan

Dorianne Laux in Poetry for Facts About the Moon

Richard Moeschl in Drama for Arthur’s Dreams

Gina Ochsner in Short Fiction for People I Wanted to Be

Graham Salisbury in Young Adult Literature for Eyes of the Emperor

Diane Siebert in Children’s Literature for Tour America

Justin Tussing in the Novel for The Best People in the World

Congratulate also to the recipients of three special awards: Ursula K. Le Guin, C.E.S. Wood Distinguished Writer Award; Paulann Petersen, Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award; and John Monteverde, Walt Morey Young Readers Literary Legacy Award.

You're welcome to read the judges' comments and discover the works of all 32 Oregon Book Awards finalists. Literary Arts will present readings by these accomplished writers in communities across the state beginning in January.

Find all this at the Literary Arts Web site.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Last Call

Today is the last day to submit your stories,
essays, and artwork for the winter issue of the Ink-Filled Page!

The Ink-Filled Page is a quarterly literary journal produced by Indigo Editing, LLC. At this point, the journal exists as an online presence with the hope to print an anthology annually. To sponsor an anthology or to get involved, e-mail

Literary Submissions
Fiction submissions can be short stories or novel excerpts, and the nonfiction section is open to personal narratives and essays. While all genres are welcome, special interests include travel, multi-cultural themes, feminism, and young adult.

Limit submissions to 4,000 words, one submission per candidate.

Artwork submissions
Open to all mediums and are selected based on composition and compatibility with selected literary submissions. Submit digital artwork at low dpi. Upon acceptance, a digital version of 300 dpi or higher will be requested.

Limit three submissions per candidate per issue.

By submitting your work to the Ink-Filled Page, you are offering first online and print publication rights. Rights revert to authors and artists after publication.

E-mail all submissions to with "Fiction Submission," "Nonfiction Submission," or "Artwork Submission" in the subject bar by midnight tonight.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Question: Comma before "and"

Ali B. asked: Growing up, some of my teachers told me always to put a comma before and in a series, but others told me never to do it. Which is correct?

It depends on what kind of writing you're doing and which style guide you're following. The Chicago Manual of Style, which is standard in book publishing, calls for a serial comma, which is the comma before and in a series. Associated Press (AP) style, standard for newspapers and business writing, calls for no serial commas unless there could be confusion without one, and the American Psychological Association (APA) style, standard for books and papers written in any of the social sciences, concurs.

As with any rule, though, what's most important is consistency. Either use the comma or don't.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Vote for the 2006 Word of the Year

As you probably know, new words are added to the dictionary every year. This year, you can help choose a new word for 2006. Miriam-Webster wants to see your votes for the 2006 Word of the Year.

Which one of the hundreds of words you've encountered this year do you think best represents the year now quickly drawing to a close? Maybe it's one you've seen again and again in the headlines of newspapers and magazines, or one that seems to be a particular favorite in the blogosphere, or maybe it's a word you've heard bandied about ad nauseam by various TV and radio pundits. No matter where you've seen or heard it, every word is eligible to take the top honors for 2006.
There are no rules here, so feel free to be creative. If your nomination hasn't made it into the pages of the dictionary yet, this can be your way to let the Merriam-Webster editors know that it's a word that deserves to be closely watched.

So, take a moment to think it over, and then visit, type your nomination for the Word of the Year in the box, and click "send" to submit. They'll be taking submissions through Monday, December 4. And be sure to check back later in December, to see if your choice makes the "Top Ten!"

Monday, November 27, 2006

Some Helpful Hints

Finishing A Book?

Do you have a personal deadline that is beginning to affect the quality of your work? Are you an expert at proofing, editing, or publishing?

Patricia Fry, in Writer's Weekly, addresses all these topics in her essay "Hurry Up and Fail." For a few helpful hints on how to go about finishing and publishing a book, while making sure the book is the best it can possibly be, perhaps you should read this article.

The article can be accessed at:

Saturday, November 25, 2006

New Release Spotlight: Artemis Fowl, Book 5

Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, By Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl, Butler, Foaly, and Captain Holly Short are back in the most recent edition of the popular Artemis Fowl series. Artemis Fowl’s days as a criminal mastermind are over, but he is still trying to outwit the fairies. Ten thousand years ago, all the fairies moved underground to escape the growing population of humans. All, that is, except for the demons who attempted to cast a spell that would allow them to live on their own island out of time. The spell did not work, however, and is starting to unravel by the time Artemis realizes what is going on.
Surprisingly, Artemis is not the first to figure out the problem. Another child genius is on the scene – a girl who battles Artemis and the fairies until both groups realize that if the time spell stops, demons will be flung onto the Earth and cause chaos. Working together, Artemis, Holly, and an interesting new group of characters travel to the island in an attempt to overcome the demon magic. While not as fast-paced and complex as other Artemis Fowl plots, there are still laugh-out-loud moments as Colfer continues to provide a fresh look at the fantasy creatures everyone knows so well.

Review by Maureen Inouye, Indigo Editing, LLC

Friday, November 24, 2006

Welcome, Maureen!

Indigo welcomes a new editorial intern, Maureen Inouye, as editorial assistant.

Maureen is a junior English major at University of Portland where she is also the senior editor for Writers literary magazine and president of the English Society. Maureen favors young adult books and is curious to see how editing could fit into her career plans.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Poetry Contest

Writer's Digest Poetry Awards

If you write poetry, this could be your opportunity for recognition. It is wonderful when any writer has his or her work acknowledged.

Writer's Digest is now accepting poems of all styles
(free verse, haiku, rhyming, etc.)
for the Writer's Digest Poetry Awards.

Entries cannot exceed 32 lines and must be original, unpublished, and in English.

Entries are due by Wednesday, December 20th, 2006. Poems can be submitted online or by mail.

For more information regarding this poetry contest, please see

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Murder by the Book

Court TV is sponsoring the Search for the Next Great Crime Writer Contest, submissions due by November 27.

Do you have a killer book idea? Then this is your chance to make crime pay. Court TV is offering you a chance to win a book deal with Regan, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

How it Works:
1. Register for the contest by visiting the registration site and filling in your contact information.
2. Upload or cut and past your synopsis (1,500-3,000 words) and sample chapters (5,000-10,000 words).
-The esteemed panel of judes will narrow down the entries to five finalists.
-Entries will be judged on communication ability/writing skill, concept/story/structure, creativity/originality, character development, and usage of the mystery/crime platform (staying true to the genre).
-Check back on December 11 to see who the finalists are.
-The public will have the chance to read the entries and vote for the winner!
-Read official rules here.

Watch Murder by the Book on Court TV, premiering November 13 at 10 p.m. EST.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Call for Submissions--Crate

CRATE—UC Riverside's MFA Literary Magazine—is dedicated to exploring the borders and boundaries of art and literature. This edition's theme is "Margins and Mainstreams” after a series of lectures by Columbia historian Gary Okihiro who writes that "The core values and ideals of the nation emanate not from the mainstream but from the margins."

Within contemporary art and literature, who is marginalized and who is mainstreamed? Who decides? And how are today’s writers and artists addressing the imminent changes of the 21st Century within their work?

We are looking for work that moves us, challenges us, and most of all, offers us the possibility to reconsider our status quo. We want pieces that remain with us long after the first read, scenes and experiences so vivid that we imagine we’ve lived them, and lines so sharp they cut us. In short, we want your best.

CRATE is produced by UC Riverside’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts. Past writers have included Chris Abani, Susan Straight, Kimiko Hahn, and Marilyn Chin.

Submission Guidelines:
-All submissions should be typed, no email submissions
-Up to five poems for poetry and up to 25 double-spaced pages for fiction and non-fiction
-For artwork and photography, please send a hard copy; for multi-media work, please send CD-rom
-Include cover letter with contract information and SASE for reply; please mention if simultaneous submission
-Received deadline for the 2007 issue is January 30, 2007

Thursday, November 02, 2006

ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards

Independent publishers, take action. ForeWord Magazine is accepting entries for the 2006 Book of the Year Awards until February 15, 2007. Entries are accepted in most genres, and the Editor's Choice Best Fiction and Best Nonfiction awards include $1,500 purses.

Visit to view 2005 winners and to register 2006 entries online.

If your books expand a reader's world, introduce a voice society needs to hear, offer practical knowledge where none existed before or simply entertain so compellingly that all distractions fall away as the reader turns the next page, they should be submitted for the Book of the Year Award.

ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards were established to bring increased attention from librarians and booksellers to the literary achievements of independent publishers and their authors. Our awards process is unique because we ask a jury of our readers, librarians and booksellers, to select their top categories as well as choose the winning titles. Their decisions take into consideration editorial excellence, professional production, originality of the narrative, author credentials relative to the book and the value the book adds to its genre.

ForeWord is the only review trade journal devoted exclusively to covering books from independent houses -- ranging in size from university presses publishing hundreds of titles per year to micro, POD and eBook publishers who may publish one title in a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


November is National Novel Writing Month!

Take the challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. It doesn't have to be award winning. It doesn't even have to be good. All you have to do is transfer your procrastination tendencies from writing to work and household chores so you can nurture that long-neglected book simmering in your brain.

Seize the month of November. Write your book!

Sign up at

And please keep us posted on your progress! Indigo is a proud supporter of aspiring authors everywhere.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Practical Self-Publishing

Ink and Paper Group, LLC, is proud to offer a new course for would-be publishers, "Practical Self-publishing: hands-on with all the challenges and opportunities."

A slew of books and web sites on self-publishing can still leave a would-be publisher feeling confused. The misuse of key terminology in advertising makes an already complex process more difficult still. This course will start at the beginning (How do I know if self-publishing is a good choice for me?) and move through all the options to publication including estimating costs and time involved, marketing plans, and sales forecasts. Students will see examples, discuss case studies, and can work on their own project proposals with feedback. Self-publishing is a great way to go—provided you are not guessing what to do.

Topics include:
- Publishing options: traditional, small press, subsidy, vanity, POD, self/independent
- Creating an ROI (Return on Investment)
- Estimating time involved
- Getting it done: identifying tasks, how to do it yourself, how to find skilled assistance
- Production: terms and choices
- Distribution, sales, marketing, and publicity
- Legal issues and subsidiary rights

Class will be held Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 1825 SE 7th Avenue, Portland, OR 97214 on November 8, 15, 29, and December 6 and 13.
Cost is $100 per person. All materials included.

To register:
by e-mail:
by phone: 503.232.0103
by Internet:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Can't Afford an Editor?

Many businesses seem to view an editor as a luxury--they better pinch their pennies and maybe someday they can afford one.

When you think about it, though, businesses cannot afford not to have an editor. An editor is an investment that pays you back. Your professional appearance is what potential clients and the general public base their opinions about you on, and their decision whether or not to work with you.

Are words a part of your professional appearance? Do you have a Web site, informational brochure, magazine, ad campaign, invoice practice, or a product that uses written words? Then you need an editor.

If your products and communications have spelling or grammar mistakes, you're telling your target audience that you are unprofessional. Not many people will invest in an unprofessional company or product.

Think about it. Invest in your professional appearance.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Call for Submissions--Ink-Filled Page

The Ink-Filled Page is a quarterly literary journal produced by Indigo Editing, LLC. At this point, the journal exists as an online presence with the hope to print an anthology annually. To sponsor an anthology or to get involved, e-mail

Literary Submissions:

Fiction submissions can be short stories or novel excerpts, and the nonfiction section is open to personal narratives and essays. While all genres are welcome, special interests include travel, multi-cultural themes, feminism, and young adult.

Limit submissions to 4,000 words, one submission per candidate per year.

Artwork submissions:

Open to all mediums and are selected based on composition and compatibility with selected literary submissions. Submit digital artwork at 300 dpi or higher. Three submissions per candidate per issue.

By submitting your work to the Ink-Filled Page, you are off ering first online and print publication rights. Rights revert to authors and artists after publication.

E-mail all submissions to with "Fiction Submission," "Nonfiction Submission," or "Artwork Submission" in the subject bar by November 30.

Editorial/Business Development Intern

Indigo Editing, LLC, is seeking an Editorial Intern to help with the editing business. Duties will include:

• Evaluating submissions for the Ink-Filled Page literary journal
• Editing selected submissions
• Author communications
• Researching links, bestsellers and book reviews, editorial tips, and events for the Web site
• Weekly Web site updates

This is an unpaid internship with the opportunity to earn college credit. Position will start as soon as possible. Some face-to-face meetings will be necessary, but most work will be done via e-mail. Candidates must be familiar with the Chicago Manual of Style.

E-mail resume and cover letter detailing your editing/publishing experience and goals to with “Internship” in the subject bar.

http://www.indigoediting.comto learn more.

Stumptown Comic Fest 2006

Whether you create your own graphic novels or you just enjoy reading them, the Stumptown Comic Fest is your cup of tea. With special guests Kazu Kibuishi, Colleen Coover, and Paul Chadwick, the festival draws together publishers, artists, writers, and fans from across the country, showcasing new talent and upcoming releases of graphic novels and comic books. Come learn the tricks of the trade from published graphic novelists and local publishing houses.

Where: Oregon Convention Center
When: September 27th-28th
Admission: $5 per day
On Friday, attendees also have the option to purchase a weekend package for $10, which includes an official poster and pin featuring artwork by Aaron Renier, author of Spiral Bound (while supplies last).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Local Poet's First Chapbook

Congratulations to Celeste Thompson, a local poet and PSU publishing student. Her first poetry chapbook, Rabbit Fur Purse, is being published by Finishing Line Press and will be released on December 8, 2006.

"Self-deprecating, funny, tender, careless, and incredibly caring, Celeste Thompson offers a refreshing new voice in Northwest poetry. Here is a world of food, jawbones, dogs, and furniture animated in absurd and very smart ways—and always on the line's light music. There are also wonderful human connections here between slugs and mothers, scandalous graffiti and Queen Nefertiti, disease and love. Most of all there's the courage to confess utter bewilderment and the profound revelation that her religion seems to be poetry." ~Henry Hughes, winner of the Oregon Book Award for his poetry collection, Men Holding Eggs

If you would like to take a closer look at this wonderful collection of poetry, go to: You can purchase a copy of Rabbit Fur Purse for $12, with free shipping if you buy it before November 15, 2006.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Question: Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

Mark asked: With so many self-publishing options available anymore, why should I seek a publisher? What's the advantage?

This is a great question because it is a huge topic of conversation in the writing and publishing communities. The following is a list of pros and cons of self-publishing to help aspiring authors make their decision. Basically, it comes down to your overall goals for the book--local vs. national audience, and amateur vs. professional production.


You have more control over your work, where it’s sold, how it’s edited and designed, and where it’s submitted for reviews. Resources are available through self-publishing companies to help you learn how to do this.

You receive a greater royalty percentage.

Most self-publishing companies will help you have an online presence at bookstores.

Self-publishing, especially through print on demand, is ideal for short print runs. If you only want a few hundred books published, POD offers an affordable option. Also, you don’t end up paying for books to be printed, paying for storing them, and then getting stuck with them if not all of them sell.

Quick publication time. How quickly your book gets out depends on how much time you spend on it. You could have it submitted into the POD database and have your marketing materials sent out in one month’s time.


You do not have access to a team of professionals to do all this for you. You will spend large amounts of time reading books and attending seminars to help you learn how to do these tasks yourself and even more time actually doing them yourself. You will also lack the established reputation a publisher has, which helps immensely when approaching retailers to buy your book.

You pay more money up front and do not receive an advance. Also, bookstores have the option to return books that are not selling as well as they hoped. When you go through a publisher, the publisher takes this financial hit. When you self-publish, you take it.

An online presence may not be enough. Few customers enter a bookstore with the name of a book they want to buy and request to order it. Instead, they have an idea of the type of book they want, they browse the bookshelves, and choose one to buy. If your book does not have a presence on the shelf, your sales will not be as strong.

Print runs that are 1,000 or more are not as economically productive when you print one at a time. You’d be looking at about $8.00 for printing of each book (according to, whereas publishers who outsource large print runs to professional printers pay $2 or less per book, and you pay nothing. In addition, POD options usually use lower-quality paper, ink, and glue, so your books will not last as long. You can see the difference in quality.

A publishing house takes longer, often a year or more, because the staff is working on multiple books at a time and it simply takes longer to print 20,000+ books than it does to print one.
Publishers who focus on political books will have a shorter turn-around time because of the urgency of the reading trend, so they would work with you for quick release of the book, but it would probably still be a few months at least.

Here are a few more articles that consider the pros and cons of self-publishing:

Whatever you do, be sure to have your book professionally edited, designed, and printed. It will make all the difference when you approach bookstores about carrying your book.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Writer's Digest Popular Fiction Awards

The popular writing magazine Writer's Digest is holding a writing contest for the popular fiction categories of Romance, Mystery/Crime Fiction, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thriller/Suspense, and Horror. Candidates can enter in every category, but be sure to limit your word count to 4,000. Entries are due by November 1, 2006.

Visit for more information and to enter.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Spotlight on Portland Publishing Businesses

Ooligan Press, the premier student-run publishing company and master's program based here in Portland, is proud of the few alumni who made the news recently. The Portland Tribune recently featured an article on several Ooligan alumni who have prospered with their master's degrees in writing and publishing. Read the article, "Bound to Books," to see what Bernadette Baker, Gretchen Stelter, and Dave Cowsert have been up to in Portland's publishing scene.

Just a few other Ooligan alumni and students who are excelling in Portland's publishing community are:

Debbie Jayne, Kathryn Juergens, and Olivia Koivisto--Timber Press
Vinnie Kinsella--Book Editing instructor at Portland State University
Linda Meyer, Cameron Marschall, Bo Bjorn Johnson, and Allison Collins (in addition to Dave Cowsert)--Ink and Paper Group, LLC
Beth Caldwell Hoyt and Julie Steigerwaldt--Tall Grass Press
Richard Geller--Freelance publicist and writer

And there are many more in Portland and around the country. Great job!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Expand Your Vocab

Your English teacher used to tell you vocabulary was important, but you probably didn't believe her. I know when I studied weekly vocab lists, it was to pass the SAT. But now that you are a writer, do you wish you still had those vocabulary words?

A quick and easy way to expand your vocabulary is to sign up for's Word of the Day. You get one e-mail a day, unspammed, with a new word, its definition, several usage examples, and the history of the word.

It takes you, what, 30 seconds to read an e-mail? And you can almost feel your brain growing.

Check it out at Word of the Day.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Great Reminder

I recently rediscovered this great article on Holt Uncensored. Pat Holt, former editor of The San Francisco Book Company and book editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, puts forward the top "Ten Mistakes Writers Don't See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do)." Although many of these mistakes are ones that we've heard before, the article is a great reminder and a great way to look at your writing in a new way. Take a look and use Holt's advice to freshen up your latest piece.

Click here to view the article.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Congratulations to Oregon Book Award Finalists!

The Literary Arts Council has just released finalists' names for the 2006 Oregon Book Award. Winners will be announced at the 20th Annual Oregon Book Awards ceremony on Friday, December 1st. For more details and to buy tickets, visit or call 503-227-2583.

Congratulations to all the finalists. You've already achieved a great honor!

Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry

David Axelrod of La Grande, The Cartographer’s Melancholy (Eastern Washington University Press)
Dorianne Laux of Eugene, Facts About the Moon (Norton)
Paulann Petersen of Portland, A Bride of Narrow Escape (Cloudbank Books)
Vern Rutsala of Portland, How We Spent Our Time (The University of Akron Press)
Floyd Skloot of Portland, Approximately Paradise (Tupelo Press)
Matt Yurdana of Portland, Public Gestures (University of Tampa Press)

Ken Kesey Award for the Novel

Laila Lalami of Portland, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (Algonquin Books)
Peter Rock of Portland, The Bewildered (MacAdam Cage)
Justin Tussing of Portland, The Best People in the World (Harper Collins)

H.L. Davis Award for Short Fiction

Tracy Daugherty of Corvallis, Late in the Standoff (Southern Methodist University Press)
Scott Nadelson of Portland, The Cantor’s Daughter (Hawthorne Books)
Gina Ochsner of Keizer, People I Wanted to Be (Houghton Mifflin/Mariner Books)
Geronimo G. Tagatac of Salem, The Weight of the Sun (Ooligan Press)

Frances Fuller Victor Award for General Nonfiction

Edwin L. Battistella of Astoria, Bad Language: Are Some Words Better than Others? (Oxford University Press)
Andrew Bernstein of Portland, Modern Passings: Death Rites, Politics, and Social Change in Imperial Japan (University of Hawaii Press)
Judy Blankenship of Portland, CaƱar: A Year in the Highlands of Ecuador (University of Texas Press)
William G. Robbins of Corvallis, Oregon: This Storied Land (Oregon Historical Society Press)
Dick Weissman of Portland, Which Side Are You On? An Inside History of the Folk Music Revival in America (Continuum)

Sarah Winnemucca Award for Creative Nonfiction

George W. Aguilar, Sr. of Warm Springs, When the River Ran Wild! Indian Traditions on the Mid-Columbia and the Warm Springs Reservation (Oregon Historical Society/University of Washington Press)
Brian Doyle of Portland, The Grail: A Year Ambling & Shambling Through an Oregon Vineyard in Pursuit of the Best Pinot Noir in the Whole Wild World (Oregon State University Press)
Kristin Kaye of Portland, Iron Maidens: The Celebration of the Most Awesome Female Muscle in the World (Thunder’s Mouth Press)

Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children’s Literature

Susan Hill of Portland, Ruby Paints a Picture (Harper Collins)
Deborah Hopkinson of Corvallis, Sky Boys (Schwartz and Wade Books)
Allen Say of Portland, Kamishibai Man (Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine Books)
Diane Siebert of Culver, Tour America (Chronicle Books)

Leslie Bradshaw Award for Young Adult Literature

Heather Vogel Frederick of Portland, Spy Mice: For Your Paws Only (Simon and Schuster)
Graham Salisbury of Portland, Eyes of the Emperor (Wendy Lamb Books)

Angus L. Bowmer Award for Drama

Doug Baldwin of Portland, Wrestling with Charlotte
Shelly Lipkin of Lake Oswego, Sylver Beach’s
Richard Moeschl of Ashland, Arthur’s Dreams
Keith J. Scales of Portland, What Mad Pursuit
Molly Best Tinsley of Ashland, Fission

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New Trend in YA Lit?

Recent studies by Scholastic Inc. have shown that readership among children drops off at the age of nine to eleven. With their new book, "Cathy's Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8233," Sean Stewart and Jordan Weissman are trying to recapture this market. Intertwining reading with technology, the book makes the reader a detective, looking for clues within the text of the book and in outside sources. Aimed at young adults, readers help the heroine of the story, Cathy, find out why her boyfriend broke up with her. Kids can look for clues by checking out Web sites and calling phone numbers to listen to voicemails left by Cathy. The Web sites and phone messages give the kids access to secret codes, diary entries, photographs, and letters.

Personally, I think that this is a great way to get kids involved in reading. As a child, I could read for hours, but not ever kid is like that. Some kids struggle with reading due to learning disabilities. Some kids have trouble paying attention to the words on the page. This style of book could help keep kids involved in the story―involved enough that they want to read to the end. Most kids I know love to play the part of detective. Although kids will be getting clues from other sources, the clues always direct them back to the book, where they have to read to find out what happens next.

Some controversy has occurred with this project, though. Running House, an imprint of The Perseus Books Groups, made a deal with a major corporation to replace various products in the book with real products produced by the company. Frankly, it's sad to think about the amount of kid-focused marketing in the world today. Everywhere you turn there are ads for a new toy, a new cosmetic product, a new teen magazine, or a new video game. While numerous books contain name brand household products, at times I wish that this did not occur in books for kids.

What are your thoughts on all of this? How do you think this new style of book will change Young Adult literature? What do you think of blatant marketing strategies directed at kids? Post your comments and let us know what you think.

If you would like to read more about this book, there is a great article at Book Business Magazine, titled "Reality Check," by Matt Steinmetz.
Click here to read the article.

You can also check out the book at

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Portland Publishing Networking Party

Don't forget about WiPP's Networking Party this Wednesday! It will be held from 6 t0 9 p.m. at MacTarnahan's Brewing Company on NW 31st in Portland. Admission is $10 if you have not pre-registered. Come join the festivites to meet some incredible people, eat snacks, win door prizes, and toast Portland's growing publishing community!

Click on the above invitation to enlarge it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Banned Books Week

September 23-30 is Banned Books Week.

It's amazing how much Americans fight to defend the First Amendment and then let books be banned, oftentimes for ridiculous reasons such as love scenes or thoughts on civil rights. Book banning doesn't necessarily happen in the extreme fashion many people imagine of public displays of fire pits with books thrown in. It often happens by parents contesting books that are taught in the classroom. Schools can't technically take the books out of the school, but they can hide them in the library and forbid teachers to use them in lesson plans. Bookstores have refused to stock books, too. Individual people have stolen books that they saw unfit for public availability from libraries. And, ultimately, publishers have refused to publish the books they think could cause waves. What book banners don't realize, though, is that it is often these books that start necessary discussions about the state of society.

I encourage you to support authors who have the courage to challenge societal constructs through their writing skills. Below is a list of my favorite books that have been banned at one time or another. To see more, visit the
Powell's Books Web site and American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE).

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, by Jon Stewart
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
Ricochet River, by Robin Cody
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Winterkill, by Craig Lesley

Little-known fact

"Romantic" languages are actually Romanic--from Rome, with Latin roots.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Congratulations to Kristin Thiel, this year's winner of the Elisabeth A. McPherson Award for Women Writers. As the winner, Kristin will be treated to a month in a remote cabin to work on her writing. Kristin's ultimate goal is to assemble her short stories and seek publication of an anthology.

Well done!

To see samples of Kristin's work, visit her Web site at

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Question: Editing Yourself

Steve asked: Can good writers edit their own work?

Sorry to say, Steve, no. That's often how good writers get viewed as bad writers--they write a business memo or self-published book, don't have anyone else edit or even proofread it, and it gets sent out to thousands of people filled with typos and missing words.

On the small scale, it's impossible to edit your own work simply because you see what you meant. This happens in e-mails all the time. "Let me know weather or not you can make it." Would you have seen that mistake if you had written it? Not necessarily.

On a larger scale, editors help authors develop their arguments and plots. What if J. K. Rowling forgot to mention who Lord Voldemort was? She knows who he is, so it's a possible oversight, but a detrimental one that would leave millions of readers wondering what was going on. Authors can overdevelop, underdevelop, or simply develop the wrong parts. An editor is your readers' advocate to watch for these parts that could lead readers astray or even make them put the book down.

I'm not just saying this to create job security. For proof, just check out a few Craig's List postings, self-published books (specifically those who did not hire an editor), and even FOX Broadcasting Company. Yes, even corporations make grammatical mistakes sometimes. FOX's new TV series 'Til Death should be spelled Till Death.

Here's to editors who prevent public faux pas!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bookseller Chick

Ever wonder what's going through the mind of your local bookseller when customers present nearly impossible riddles to find a random book with a red cover by an unknown title and author, but it was mentioned briefly in an obscure magazine two months previously? And yet, booksellers come back to work every day to stock the shelves with our prized possessions and make those front of store tables beautiful.

Check out Bookseller Chick's blog.

As a former bookseller, I can sympathize with some of Bookseller Chick's daily battles and tiny triumphs. I remember Christmas seasons filled with last-minute shoppers who were angry that a bestseller was sold out on Christmas Eve and others who came in with nothing more than the knowledge that their neices liked to read and who left happily with a copy of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

On the publishing end of the spectrum, we love booksellers because they get our product out there. But they give us grief when they return books that didn't sell as well as hoped in the first 90 days. They are simultaneously publishers' and authors' best friends and worst enemies.

But it's all part of the wonderful world we call the Book Biz.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sound alikes

Homonyms, words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings, have always amazed me. We had a contest in my fifth-grade classroom to write down as many homonyms as we could think of, and I won by a long shot. Since then, I've kept my eye out for more, and for other homonym lovers.

I just came across this article by Alan Cooper about his fascination with homonyms. He even has an ongoing list of them! Needless to say, it's bookmarked on my browser. Take a look at Alan's article, then click on the link at the bottom to check out his list. See any missing? E-mail him to add them!

Alan Cooper's Homonyms

When I was in the second grade, my teacher introduced me to "homonyms," those words, like "caret" and "carrot" that are pronounced the same, but are spelled differently, and that have different meanings. The concept intrigued me, and for months, I maintained a dog-eared pad of yellow paper with an ever-growing list of homonyms. I eventually lost that yellow pad, but never my interest in these odd, quirky English words.

I consider homonyms to be the prime numbers of the English language. Like primes, they cannot be predicted by any rules of grammar or diction. In the way that you can't search the number line for primes, you cannot systematically search the dictionary for homonyms. You just have to find them, like Easter Eggs in the dictionary.

The best part about homonyms, though, is that they are the raw material for puns, a truly sublime form of humor. With a robust knowledge of and appreciation for homonyms, you will never be embarrassed when a pun-battle breaks out in public.

A few years ago, when my oldest son, Scott, was in the second grade, he came home with the assignment of compiling a list of homonyms! I was in heaven, reliving a joyous, quasi-literary moment from my childhood. Scott and I, along with family and friends, worked for days putting together as complete a list as we could of homonyms. Scott has moved on, but I still maintain the list with a fervor many others find silly. But I take a small but intense pleasure at finding these little hidden gems.

Because their nature is so odd, it is quite possible to miss the most obvious ones. Just last week I added "fair" and "fare" to the list. If you can find any that are missing, please email them to me at and I will add them to the list (and mention your name here).

The List

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Little-Known Fact

ISBN is both singular and plural for International Standard Book Number. ISBNs is not a word.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Musings on 9/11

As the five year anniversary of 9/11 passes, I'm sure it's passed through all our minds at least once today. While my experience of the time was certainly not extraordinary or unique, I took a few moments to write some thoughts.

Less than two months after 9/11, I left for Panama to visit my family who was working there at the time. Paranoia was still thick in the air. After grueling lines and searches at the airports, I finally made it—but this trip and its timing would prove to be more insightful than a short vacation.

We walked from the apartment in Panama City to the nearest grocery store. As we rounded the corner, two men guarded the doors of the market with machine guns. Terrified, I jumped back around the corner, only to face bewildered expressions from my parents. Machine guns were everywhere here; they were just a fact of life.

The next day, we drove to El Valle, an indigent village in the mountains. The greenery was gorgeous as we hiked to a little-known landmark of ancient history—a boulder with hieroglyphics far from the city or any tourist attraction. A small girl looked at me with big eyes and asked me where I came from. I told her, and she shyly asked where the United States was, if it was in El Valle, if she could see it from her house.

It dawned on me that her entire world was in this valley. Her young mind had never fathomed cities, culture shock, hatred, discrimination, destruction, or terrorism. Yet, only a few hundred miles away, people lived among Uzzis in the city and in fear of being kidnapped by Colombians in the rain forest. In America, millions feared further terrorist attacks would rob us of life and liberty. In the Middle East, thousand-year wars raged on. In Spain, Basque activists planted car bombs to assert their quest for independence. In Africa, entire cultures were becoming extinct from disease, hunger, and rebel forces. My stomach churned with it all.

I longed to be this little girl in El Valle and to live in the simple world she inhabited. Three days later, I returned to Willamette and America’s fresh wounds.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A "Killer" Weekend

Are you a mystery writer looking for the perfect details for your latest crime scene? Want to get inside the criminal mindset to create a more realistic villain?

Oregon Writers Colony is hosting the "Killer Weekend: A Mystery Writer's Resource Fair" this month. The conference will provide authors with access to various experts of criminology including detectives, medical examiners, and a criminal psychiatrist. Take advantage of this great opportunity to add depth and detail to your latest manuscript.

Menucha Conference Center (in the Columbia Gorge)
September 14 thru September 16

Find more details at:

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Copyright Controversy

Google has been continuing its journey into the book world with its library scanning project. While this was controversial two years ago when the project first started, Google has now added the option to print books that are in the library archives. Granted, these books are classics in public domain as far as copyright is concerned, but some fear this new availability will cut into publishers' sales. On the other hand, publishers don't have to pay for access to these public domain texts, so why should anybody else? Read the Publishers Weekly article here.

On another note, Becky Zinkgraff of Mine Press in Portland, Oregon, uses her artistic skills to push the boundaries of copyright. "I decided to start a project that kind of 'hovered' around copyright," Zinkgraff said of the origins of Mine Press. "It was to remind myself that the law was originally meant to protect against plagiarism and not to stop me from taking in the world around me and offering it up in my own form. I wanted to prove to myself that I can make art without plagiarism that references and uses the world around me." Read the WiPP interview

Monday, September 04, 2006

Literary Arts offers New Series of Seminars

Looking for lively, in-depth conversations about books? Check out the Delve: Readers' Seminars offered by Literary Arts. Whether you want a new take on an old classic or you're looking to discover a new favorite, the seminars offer "the opportunity to explore great books with an experienced guide and the company of other dedicated readers."

Each seminar is limited to 20-25 participants. You must be willing to complete the designated reading in advance and come prepared to discuss the text in an informal, friendly atmosphere.

You can find more details at:

Fall Classes at The Attic

Need to find new inspiration? Want to branch out into a new genre of writing? Looking for a new challenge to help refine your literary voice?

Check out the new fall schedule at The Attic. The workshop schedule includes: "Walking & Writing in the City," a narrative writing workshop with Rebecca Koffman, and "The Language of Your Life," a memoir workshop with Ariel Gore. Other great workshops in poetry, screenwriting, journalism, and fiction writing are scheduled.

The workshops can fill up fast, so register early. Classes begin the week of September 15th.

For more information go to:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Sixth Annual A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize

BOA Editions, a not-for-profit publishing house, is accepting poetry manuscripts between August 1, 2006 and November 30, 2006.

The A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize consists of a $1,500 honorarium and the publication of the poet’s manuscript. Only poet’s who have not yet published a full-length-book collection of poetry will be considered. The poet Edward Hirsch will be the final judge.

An entry form and fee are required. Guidelines for the 2007
A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize are posted at:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Literary Lecture Series

Mark your calendars for the Portland Arts & Lectures series. Sponsered by the Literary Arts organization, the series includes such speakers as Mary Gaitskill, Frank McCourt, and Jonathan Lethem. Many special events are scheduled throughout the coming year, including a lecture from renowned author Stephen King.

Tickets are required for these events. For more information, go to

Monday, August 28, 2006

WiPP Networking Party Announced

Click on the above invitation to enlarge.

This is an incredible opportunity for anyone working in, or interested in, the publishing community in Portland. Come check it out!

Women in Portland Publishing* is proud to invite you and your publishing colleagues to its inaugural Networking Party, to be held Wednesday, September 27 from 6–9 p.m. at MacTarnahan’s Brewing Company.

We encourage you to forward this invitation to your colleagues and friends in the publishing field. Don’t miss this opportunity to support the Portland publishing community and meet fellow word lovers.

It’s not too late to sponsor the event! If your organization would like to help this amazing event happen, please e-mail WiPP Vice President Ali McCart at There is no minimum donation amount, and sponsors will receive ad space in the event slide show, table space to display marketing materials, and logo placement on all contact with the media. (Note: To reserve a place in the slide show, donations must be received no later than September 20, 2006.)

*WiPP is a Portland-based organization in the process of pursuing 501(c)3 status.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

We want to hear from you!

Have you attended any outstanding literary events lately?
Have you read any books you'd like to review? We'd love to hear about them! Send an e-mail to, and we'll be sure to post your thoughts.

Also, don't forget to visit our main page weekly to catch our latest editorial tips and book reviews. Or take the easy route and make it your homepage! Just click on the Tools menu and select Internet Options. Then paste into the Homepage Address box.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

WiPP seeks sponsors for Networking Party

Mark your calendars for WiPP’s inaugural Networking Party to meet your publishing neighbors Wednesday, September 27 from 6–9 p.m. at McTarnahan's Brewing Company. There will be door prizes, appetizers, a no-host bar, a celebrity author appearance, and ample time to meet up to 150 other publishing cohorts!

WiPP, Women in Portland Publishing, is a local organization* dedicated toproviding resources for the publishing community and the Portland communityat large by offering outreach and networking events on a monthly basis. Learnmore at

Please help us to put on this amazing event! WiPP is seeking local companies in the publishing field to sponsor the fall networking party.

Sponsors will be featured on:
-Event brochures
-WiPP Web site
-All contact with local media regarding this event
-A slideshow at the event featuring sponsors
-Table space to showcase your marketing materials

To sponsor, simply respond to this e-mail with the name of your company, your contact information, and your donation amount. This information must be received by Thursday, August 24 in order for your information to be featured on invitations. Then make checks payable to Kirsten Merrell, WiPP Treasurer, and mail them to Kirsten Merrell, WiPP Treasurer, 1736 SE Main Street, Portland, OR 97214.

Don’t miss this opportunity to show your support for the Portland publishing community.

*WiPP is a Portland-based organization in the process of pursuing 501(c)3 status.