Monday, December 29, 2008

Editing Tip of the Week: All the Right Words

Sometimes the easiest words confuse us. We say them all the time, but when we write them down, the words don’t look right. Is already one word or two? While we’re on the subject, is all right two words or one?

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, there are uses for both already and all ready. Already refers to time, as in Did you already buy the tickets? All ready refers to preparation, as in Are those documents all ready? But Chicago states that all right is the correct use, and urges us to avoid alright.

This all makes sense when we take the time to think about it, and these are easy rules to remember. A simple rule also applies to the use of altogether vs. all together. Altogether is used to mean entirely or whollythe show was altogether disastrous. All together is used for the unity of time or place, as in We were all together for the celebration.

If we take a moment to think about what we’re really saying, we will avoid misusing some of the more basic words. That leaves a lot more time to focus on the bigger words.

And yes, a lot is two words, not one.

For more tips, visit

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Monday, December 29
Take a break between holiday celebrations and have a Mellow Monday at Seattle's Bai Pai Thai. Enjoy poetry, music, and happy hour as you prepare to say good-bye to the snow and hello to 2009.
Where: Bai Pai Thai, 2316 NE 65th St., Suite 101, Seattle, WA 98115
When: 8:00pm
For more info, visit or call 206-527-4800

Date: Wednesday, December 31
Celebrate New Year's Eve with the whole family. Many Borders Bookstores in the Portland area are hosting a New Year's Eve Kids Party that's sure to entertain every family member. There will be games, crafts, and a special parade to countdown to 2009.
Where: Borders Downtown Portland, among other locations in Tigard, Beaverton, Gresham, and Vancouver
When: 2:00pm
For more info and locations, visit

Date: Saturday, January 3
The Green Lake Branch of the Seattle Public Library hosts the Poets West Reader's Choice event where participants choose reading from works of poetry, prose, or concerning a public issue. Featured readers will read in five-minute segments, and open mike readers will read in three-minute segments.
Where: Green Lake Branch, 7364 E Green Lake Dr N, Seattle, WA 98115
When: 4:00pm
Cost: Free
For more info, visit or call 206-684-7547

Monday, December 22, 2008

Editing Tip of the Week: Avoiding Misplaced Modifiers

We all want to produce clear, concise writing. We spell check, read out loud to catch poor sentence structure, ask others to proofread, and then go through it all again. But sometimes there are mistakes that go unnoticed. One of the most common mistakes involves misplaced modifiers. The simple rule of placing modifiers with the words they modify is not easily followed, according to Sharon Schuman at the University of Oregon. In her Top Ten Tips for Effective Writing, she refers to an example from Strunk and White that illustrates the problem. In the sentence He only found two mistakes, the meaning is ambiguous. Does the writer mean that there were more than two mistakes? It’s unclear. By moving the sentence around to read He found only two mistakes, the sentence leaves nothing to question.

If a sentence sounds unintentionally ambiguous or just plain awkward, it could be due to a misplaced modifier. It could be an adverb like only, just, merely, nearly, or almost. Or it could be a misplaced phrase or clause that changes the intended meaning of the sentence. I found one of the funniest examples of this on Towson University’s online writing support site. In the sentence The waiter served the dinner roll to the woman that was well-buttered, it appears that the woman is well-buttered, not the dinner roll. Although the roll is the more obvious choice for being the buttered subject, the phrasing is still awkward. Changing it to The waiter served the well-buttered dinner roll to the woman erases any chance of confusion or laughter.

To avoid writing humorous sentences when none are intended, make sure modifiers go with the words they are meant to modify. This may require more than simply moving the modifier. You may need to restructure the whole sentence to make it clear and concise.

For more information, visit for Strunk and White’s tips; ;

Monday, December 15, 2008

Editing Tip of the Week: Simple Solutions for Bloated Sentences

Chicago Manual of Style continues to surprise me. I just read that the word till is perfectly acceptable to use in a sentence, as in The cafe is open till midnight. But till is not the conjunction of until and shouldn't be written as 'til. I am guilty of writing it as such, and I'm enjoying this moment of awakening. Sometimes the seemingly more complicated word usage is wrong. That should make any writer feel a bit of relief.

Words and phrases that sometimes complicate and jumble our sentences are broken down by Chicago. The manual refers to the term numerous as a bloated way of saying many. The long-winded due to the fact that is dismissed with the instruction to use because instead. Chicago even dislikes the phrase in excess of, preferring the simple more than or even over.

These are examples of phrases that we tend to use to overcompensate for our uncertainties in writing. You may roll your eyes at the mantra less is more, so try remembering that sometimes when you write more than is necessary, readers may read less and only skim for the true point in your work. And no writer should settle for that.

Visit for more solutions.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Wednesday, December 17
Spitfire Grill in Seattle hosts the Seattle Poetry Slam's Women of the World Finals with featured poet Taalam Acey. There are weekly poetry slams featuring some of the best spoken word artists, some of whom have gone on to the National Poetry Slam contests. Each Wednesday night, join the supportive atmosphere for open mic, a featured poet, and of course, a poetry slam.
Where: Spitfire Grill, 2219 4th Ave.; Seattle, WA 98121
When: 8:00pm
Cost: $5 cover charge; 21 and over; ID required
For more info, visit

Date: Wednesday, December 17
Celebrate the successful publication of San Francisco State University's Fall 2008 literary journal, Fourteen Hills, at the Bollyhood Cafe in San Francisco. Reading their works from the journal are contributors Barbara Jane Reyes, Craig Santos Perez, Michael McAllister, Dustin Wells, and Jeff O'Keefe. Enjoy food, beverages, and a raffle throughout the evening of poetry, non-fiction, fiction, plays, and literary non-fiction.
Where: Bollyhood Cafe, 3372 19th St. (at Mission); San Francisco, CA 94110
When: 7:00pm
Cost: Free
For more info, visit

Date: Thursday, December 18
In Other Words Bookstore hosts a night of reading entitled West Meets West. Portland poets Heather Lane and Franciszka Voeltz share the stage with Vancouver B.C. poets Jen Curin and Christine Lecleic. After the readings there will be an acoustic performance by Pelican Ossman.
Where: In Other Words Bookstore, 8 NE Killingsworth; Portland, OR 97211
When: 7:00pm
Cost: Free
For more info, visit

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Help! Save In Other Words Bookstore

The last non-profit feminist bookstore in the country, In Other Words is also facing the devastating possibility of closing its doors due to the harsh economic situation. While losing another local bookstore would be heartbreaking, In Other Words does more than sell books. It provides a place for community events, resources for networking and connections, and is home to voices of change. Please read the call for help from the bookstore's program director:

Dear friends,

In Other Words, like so many of our fellow bookstores, has fallen upon incredibly hard financial times. With the decline in our current economy, we have experienced severely decreased revenue. If we are unable to raise $11,000 by the end of December, In Other Words will have to close its doors.
We desperately need your help. We are confident that if everyone who cares about In Other Words makes a contribution, large or small, we will meet our goal. Please give as generously as you can to save the last remaining non-profit, feminist bookstore in the country: the place where so many Portland artists, activists, organizers, readers, writers, political thinkers, musicians and poets find their voice, their power, their community, and their political home.
Our community cannot afford to lose In Other Words, please help us save her!
You can make your tax-deductible donations on the In Other Words secure website, or by stopping into the store (8 NE Killingsworth).

Sincerely,The Board, Staff and Volunteers of In Other Words

-- Program Director,
In Other Words 503.232.6003

For more info, visit

Monday, December 08, 2008

Editing Tip of the Week: Cliches to Nip in the Bud

Last week’s tip was about choosing words carefully, and cited five words to look for that tend to clutter sentences. But sometimes it’s not just a pesky extra word that threatens the quality of your writing. Sometimes overused phrases creep in your sentences. It is easy to fall back on clichés when you’re writing. One reason is that they work, for the most part. But how do you avoid using clichés when they are right at your fingertips?

Remember that you are writing something original, a piece that should display your unique writing style. Inserting cliched phrases like smooth as silk, sweet as a rose, or the ultimate it was a cold, dark night only diminishes the outstanding writing you’re capable of.

There are also overused phrases that are nonsensical, but due to their constant use, have become bad clichés. One example is staring blindly in the face. Although this is used often, it doesn’t mean it’s a good choice. Another one that newspaper journalists use all the time to conclude their reporting is the outcome remains to be seen. This not only states the obvious but reveals lazy writing. It’s the equivalent to ending a story with the cliché that it was all a dream.

When you read through your work for grammatical errors and unnecessary words, you should also check for clichés. If you stumble upon one, take time to think of a more original description. There is nothing wrong with reaching in your back pocket for a cliché now and then, but keep in mind that if you’ve heard it all before, it’s been read all before.

Dave Stein at mentioned The Cliché Finder at to hunt down cliches. If you have a suspicion that you’re using clichés, use this as a way to check your writing.

Fishtrap Summer Fellowships Application Deadline January 31, 2009

Each year, Fishtrap, Inc. awards up to five Fellowships valued at $1000 for Summer Fishtrap Workshops and Gathering, held every July at Wallowa Lake, Oregon. Awards are made on the basis of writing submission only, and are not limited to any one genre. Submissions should follow the Fishtrap mission, which is to promote "good writing in and about the West." Therefore, applicants should be from the West, or writing of the West. Fellowships cover the cost of a workshop, registration for the Gathering, and food and lodging for the week. A small travel stipend is also included.

Because we now receive a high volume of Fellowship applications, we are unable to accept applications that don't follow the guidelines stated below. PLEASE NOTE THAT WE DO NOT ACCEPT ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS. Thanks for reading these guidelines carefully.

Here's what to include in your Fellowship application:

A writing sample:

• Material can be published or unpublished but MUST be in manuscript form, typed or printed– double-spaced for prose.
• Writer's name MUST NOT appear anywhere on the manuscript.
• Prose –fiction or non-fiction– 2500 words maximum; poetry 8 pages maximum.
• If the work is from a book-length manuscript, you may send a half-page introduction in addition to the 2500 word selection.
• DO NOT FOLD. Please use a 9" x 12" envelope to mail your manuscript flat.

Brief author's bio:
• The bio is not used in judging, but in publicizing winners.

Other optional enclosures:
• Self addressed stamped postcard if you'd like to be notified upon reciept of your manuscript. If you include an email address, this is the default method for receipt notification.
• SASE if you want your manuscript returned to you. Make sure it has sufficient postage. If you do not provide a SASE with sufficient postage we'll dispose of the manuscript.

Fellowship applications must be postmarked no later than January 31, 2009. Awards will be made by March 27. Mail your application to: Fishtrap Fellowship c/o Fishtrap, PO Box 38, Enterprise, OR 97828

All applications will be read by a preliminary judging panel of current and/or past members of the Fishtrap Board of Directors. Final judging will be done by 2009 faculty members. None of the judges will see any information about the applicant, only the manuscript.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Tuesday, December 9
Sign up to participate or just kick back and listen to Broken Word Poetry at the Alberta St. Pub. The weekly series has amassed a following of performers and spectators. And it has turned the spoken word into the written word by publishing anthologies of past performers. Every week offers entertainment and inspiration. 21 and over only
Where: Alberta St. Pub, 1036 NE Alberta St., Portland, OR 97211
When: sign-up for performing is 7:00pm; show starts at 7:30pm
Cost: Free
For more info, call 503-284-7665

Date: Wednesday, December 10
The Mission Theater hosts Back Fence PDX, a storytelling series featuring true, unmemorized 8-minute stories told by musicians. This round is based on the theme "Rock the Bells", and performers include Gideon Freudmann of Portland Cello Project, Adam Shearer of Weinland, and Menomena's Danny Seim. Lend your ear to these musicians telling stories, and enjoy the full bar and menu at the Mission.
Where: The Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan, Portland, OR 97209
When: doors open at 7:30pm; show starts 8:00pm
Cost: $10 at the door; $9 online
For more info, visit

Date: Wednesday, December 10
At Looking Glass Books, the late writer and activist Grace Paley will be celebrated on the eve of what would have been her 86th birthday. Paley's friend, Ursula LeGuin, and biographer Judith Arcana (Grace Paley's Life Stories, A Literary Biography) will read along with other Portland writers. There will be good food, good drinks, and good memories to share.
Where: Looking Glass Books, 7983 SE 13th Ave., Portland, OR 97202
When: 7:30pm
Cost: Free
For more info, visit or call 503-227-4760

Date: Saturday, December 13
Celebrate the opening of Guapo Comics and Coffee's new location in conjunction with a graphic novel release party. Joining Guapo in the event are Capacity's Theo Ellsworth, Invincible Summer's Nicole Georges, and The Night of Your Life's Jesse Reklaw, all of whom will read from their works. There will also be other cartoonists and multimedia comic readings, as well as refreshments. In the words of Guapo's blogger, the party will be an adventure in the "everyday fantastic".
Where: Guapo Comics and Coffee, 6350 SE Foster Rd., Portland, OR 97206
When: 7:00pm-10:00pm
Cost: Free and open to the public
For more info, visit or call 503-772-3638

Friday, December 05, 2008

Support local businesses this holiday season

It all started a few years ago in my sixteen-member nuclear family. The holidays were quickly approaching, and my step-mom had finally had enough. Shopping for her ten children and their significant others had become a nightmare. In this way, the Amazon Wish List was born. We were encouraged to put things on our Amazon lists that we wanted, and this way she knew we were getting exactly what we asked for, which would make everyone happy.

Sounds like a good idea, right? I must say, updating my wish list soon became an addicting hobby, particularly when Amazon has enough item categories to stock a small city. I began to feel like I did when I was a kid with the Sears Wishbook. Nothing was too small to be circled! Of course the ever staple, socks, made it on my list, but I also found myself trolling for things I didn't really need, like a complete Atari video game set that magically loaded onto your computer and a pair of painfully expensive designer boots. True, there were a few books on my list, but more often than not I found myself tempted by electronics and designer apparel.

This marks my fourth holiday season with my Amazon Wish List, and I'm beginning to wonder, what's missing here? Is this the future of shopping? It's no wonder that with sites like Amazon, small, independent stores are having a harder and harder time competing, especially in this economy. And it's families like mine that have the power to change that. So this season, before you drive out to the Jantzen Beach Target or go to Barnes and Noble for that book your loved one has to have, think about going to local bookstores or shops like Presents of Mind on Hawthorne or Twenty-Third Avenue Books in Northwest. Not only will you be keeping your money in your community, but you will be truly impacting the lives of your business-owning neighbors.

For more local holiday gift ideas and businesses, check out Eat.Shop.Portland by Kaie Wellman or the Willamette Week 2008 Gift Guide at

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Call for Help

A note from one of Portland's beloved independent bookstores:


January 1, 2009, will mark Twenty-Third Avenue Books' 29th anniversary. But instead of celebrating, we are wondering if that date will be the final closing of our beloved shop.

We've all been affected by the current state of the economy, and Twenty-Third Avenue Books is no different. We are behind in our rent and facing eviction. With no funds to relocate, this sounds the death knell for us. UNLESS, we can find a buyer, an angel investor, or somehow rally the community to SAVE OUR SHOP!

Do you know of another shop on 23rd willing to share our space? Someone looking to purchase a NW Portland fixture? Someone looking for a tax write-off? :-) We welcome any serious suggestions and offers (all confidential, of course)! Time is of the essence, so please, if you have any ideas contact us immediately. Our email address is

Monday, December 01, 2008

Editing Tip of the Week: Choosing Your Words Carefully

Writers are always told, Show, don’t tell. Sometimes this results in clumsy writing, such as two adjectives where one would do, or redundant descriptions. Chicago Manual of Style cites the example of he ran quickly as one phrase that could use more editing. The other mantra often repeated to writers is that less is more.

One of the ways to put this into practice is to cut unnecessary words that don’t add substance to the writing. The Daily Writing Tips web site suggests five words to look for that can be eliminated, making your piece clearer and more concise. The five words are just, really, quite, that, and perhaps. There are cases in which any of these five words can be used, but more often than not, they weigh down the writing. Here is a sentence for example:

I just thought that perhaps it would be really quite helpful to discuss the plans before the meeting.

The extra words in the sentence decrease the impact of the suggestion. By cutting out the unnecessary words, the sentence is more decisive: I thought it would be helpful to discuss the plans before the meeting.

Many editors and teachers suggest reading out loud to catch grammatical mistakes. This helps to catch the use of unnecessary words, and will also prevent making the mistake of deleting one of them when it’s vital to a sentence. If you were to delete the word that from I want to see that movie, it wouldn’t be clear which movie you were talking about.

Choosing your words carefully is important. But eliminating some of those words carefully can also strengthen your work.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Tuesday, December 2
The Willamette Writers host an evening featuring Christina Katz, author of Get Known Before the Book Deal. In this workshop setting, Katz will show participants how to create a writer's platform beyond the basics of churning out a book and hunting for a publisher. According to Katz, a writer should know how to network and publicize themselves, keep up on current trends, and commit 100% to her writing career.
Where: The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave. & Clay, Portland, OR 97201
When: doors open 6:15pm; workshop begins at 7:00pm
Cost: $10 non-members; $5 for guests of members; free for members and college students
For more info, visit or call 503-452-1592

Date: Wednesday, December 3
Join Orlo in celebrating their 15th anniversary! The party is at the Someday Lounge. Enjoy drinks, snacks, music from the folk-blues group Blackwater Collective's debut album, and a glimpse into the organization's new year of influence. Since 1993, the non-profit has shined a light on environmental issues through the creative arts in exhibits, events, and publications.
Where: Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th Ave.; Portland, OR 97209
When: 6:30pm
Cost: $5 non-members; free for members
For more info, visit or call 503-248-1030

Date: Friday, December 5
In a city known for its innovative food culture, an evening of readings from Hunger and Thirst: Food Literature will be sure to entice our taste buds. Looking Glass Books will host the book's editor, Nancy Cary, Carlos Reyes and other contributing Northwest writers. The literature and artwork in the book will remind us of the food-filled holiday season underway and what we each bring to the table, edible and otherwise.
Where: Looking Glass Books, 7983 SE 13th Ave.; Portland, OR 97202
When: 7:00pm
Cost: Free
For more info, visit or call 503-227-4760

Monday, November 24, 2008

Editing Tip of the Week: Every Apostrophe in its Place

Every apostrophe has its place. But so many are lost or misguided. Mistakes are so abundant that there is even a photo group on the Flickr Web site documenting them. A common mistake is to use an apostrophe for plurals. Often referred to as the grocer’s apostrophe, you might have seen this misuse on signs at the grocery store or coffee shop that advertise apple’s for sale or delicious afternoon snack’s. Both of those apostrophes should have been left out. Well, then where do they go?

The three main uses of apostrophes are to indicate possessives of nouns, to form contractions, and sometimes to indicate time and measurement. I found a helpful hint on Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab to remember the first use: to figure out if you need to turn a phrase into a possessive, turn the phrase into an of the phrase. Using this tip, the phrase the man’s briefcase turns into the briefcase of the man.

Confusion between the use of it’s versus its also results in many mistakes. With the apostrophe, it’s is the contraction it is. Without the apostrophe, its is a possessive pronoun, like hers and his, and does not need an apostrophe.

With dates and time periods, keep in mind the idea of contractions. An apostrophe stands in place of the omitted letters. To shorten the year 2008, it would read as '08.

Shorten the number of apostrophes that are out of place. The next time you’re writing and an apostrophe is hanging in the balance, check to see if your use of it will match any of the three uses mentioned above.

Check suggestions on or

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Monday, November 24
The 14-year-old non-profit feminist bookstore, In Other Words, is holding a New Volunteer Orientation. The organization not only sells books, but also plays host to a number of community events, including writing workshops, author readings, film groups, and even yoga classes. Their new resource center serves as a place for community and connection. All of this activity relies on volunteers to help with everything from running the store to planning the events. The volunteer orientations are held monthly.
Where: In Other Words Bookstore, 8 B NE Killingsworth St., Portland, OR 97211
When: 6:30pm
Cost: Free
For more information about the orientation and In Other Words, visit

Date: Monday, November 24
Looking Glass Books hosts the Oregon Writers Colony OWC Presents! monthly workshops for or about writers and writing. This month's free workshop features author Jennie Shortridge. Her book, Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe was published in April 2008. This is a great opportunity to meet with a published writer and hear about her experiences, as well as to offer support for a writer by joining the discussion.
Where: Looking Glass Books, 7983 SE 13th Ave., Portland, OR 97202
When: 7:00pm
Cost: Free and open to the public
For more info, visit

Date: Friday, November 28
Title Wave Used Bookstore is having a Customer Appreciation Sale! All used materials are 55% off, and as you browse through the great deals, you'll be hunting for treasures throughout the store - gift certificates and other surprises (one treasure per customer). Books make great gifts, for yourself or others. Stock up and save up at this event!
Where: Title Wave Used Bookstore, 216 NE Knott St., Portland, OR 97212
When: 9:00am-5:00pm

For more information, visit

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Book Designers: The 2009 Stiftung Buchkunst International Design Competition is Accepting Entries

The Seattle-based Marquand Books, Inc. invites design book professionals to submit entries to "The Best Book Design from All Over the World", Stiftung Buchkunst's international design competition at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair.

A selection committee of book design professionals will select the US entries to then submit to Siftung Buchkunst. Final entries will be judged by an international jury. Important aspects to be judged include typesetting, reproduction, printing, paper, binding, typography, and graphic design.

Submission deadline is Monday, December 15, 2008.
No participation fee. Sorry, entries will not be returned.

Send 2 copies of each book (maximum entry of 3 books per individual designer) and include the following information:


Send entries to:
Marquand Books
Stiftung Buchkunst Competition
1402 Third Avenue
Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98101

Finalists will be selected and featured on Marquand's blog, in early January 2009. Contact for more information.

Finalists will be juried in February 2009, and featured at an exhibition at the Leipzig Book Fair and the Book Art International exhibition at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Stiftung Buchkunst was founded in 1965, emerging from the Sammlung Buchkunst, an organization of the German National Library focused on collecting books with aesthetic designs. Today, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, the German National Library, and the cities of Frankfurt and Leipzig unite to sponsor and promote the foundation. The main goal of the foundation is the critical surveillance of the bookmaking trade with the objective of maintaining and improving the quality of book design.
Stiftung Buchkunst hosts the exhibition “Book Art International” at the Frankfurt Book Fair each autumn. Prizewinning books from approximately thirty countries are presented, organized according to category. The exhibition allows both experts and the general public to become acquainted with the technical and aesthetic fundamentals of books. Visitors from around the world are given the opportunity to experience and compare a broad range of designs.

Copyright Marquand Books, Inc. 2008

Whatever Happened to the Portland Writer?

Shannon of the Portland Writer came to Indigo's booth the first year we were at Wordstock...back when "we" were just "I." She had all these great updates on the writing world in Portland and was a great support every time we released a call for submissions or for intern applicants. First she was at and then at But now she's nowhere to be found. Has anyone seen Shannon, the Portland Writer? We miss her!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Local Publisher Provides Entertainment for an Evening of Expensive Cars and Business Schmoozing

I attended the Evenings on the Waterfront event last night, at which KenArnoldBooks was asked to provide the entertainment. And entertain they did!

The first reader was David Hill, author of Consumed, and I don't think the laughs ever stopped the entire time he was up there. Hill offers a fantastically funny view on people consumed by lust, by money, by food, and how they consume those things.

The second act was Greg Mandel, author of High Hat, accompanied by Ken Arnold and Connie Kirk. High Hat is an inventive novel in which the pope moonlights as a detective. Complete with song and dance, the act had the crowd in stitches.

Might I add that all this was held in the presence of fancy cars? Yes, this event was hosted in a car dealership that surely had every attendee drooling. Other businesses who sponsored the event were a kayaking company, artists, a bank, and a catering company (with delicious food!). Once the readings were over, people were free to schmooze some more, buy books, buy cars (or just pose in them), and generally have a good time.

If you're in Portland, I highly recommend you watch for the next Evenings on the Waterfront event and for more KenArnoldBooks readings. You'll be glad you did!

Monday, November 17, 2008

'Meh': Apathetic expression enters dictionary

'Meh': new word for indifference enters English dictionary AFP/Getty Images/File – Characters perform on stage at "The Simpsons" Panel during the 2008 Comic Con in San Diego, …

LONDON – At least someone is excited about "meh."

The expression of indifference or boredom has gained a place in the Collins English Dictionary after generating a surprising amount of enthusiasm among lexicographers.

Publisher HarperCollins announced Monday the word had been chosen from terms suggested by the public for inclusion in the dictionary's 30th anniversary edition, to be published next year.

The origins of "meh" are murky, but the term grew in popularity after being used in a 2001 episode of "The Simpsons" in which Homer suggests a day trip to his children Bart and Lisa.

"They both just reply 'meh' and keep watching TV," said Cormac McKeown, head of content at Collins Dictionaries.

The dictionary defines "meh" as an expression of indifference or boredom, or an adjective meaning mediocre or boring. Examples given by the dictionary include "the Canadian election was so meh."

The dictionary's compilers said the word originated in North America, spread through the Internet and was now entering British spoken English.

"This is a new interjection from the U.S. that seems to have inveigled its way into common speech over here," McKeown said. "Internet forums and e-mail are playing a big part in formalizing the spellings of vocal interjections like these. A couple of other examples would be 'hmm' and 'heh.'

"Meh" was selected by Collins after it asked people to submit words they use in conversation that are not in the dictionary. Other suggestions included jargonaut, a fan of jargon; frenemy, an enemy disguised as a friend; and huggles, a hybrid of hugs and snuggles.

Swag, Anyone?

Thanks to Celeste who submitted this photo of her modeling our Indigo swag.

You can buy your own Indigo swag, in a variety of colors, at They make great holiday gifts!

Editorial Tip of the Week: A New Beginning

Take a breath and relax. According to The Chicago Manual of Style, the widespread panic caused by sentences that begin with conjunctions is unnecessary.

There are still some things to keep in mind, such as whether to use and or but. Chicago states that the correct choice is but when a new sentence creates a contrast to the preceding one. Strunk and White's Elements of Style acknowledges that the use of conjunctions to begin sentences is part of standard English, but advises to use it sparingly in order for the writing to be most effective.

So, it is perfectly acceptable to use and, but, or so to begin a sentence. Conjunctions can even lead to your next paragraph. And sometimes that's all the help a writer needs to keep the pen moving.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Tuesday, November 18
The release of the Portland Women Writers' anthology, Voicecatcher3, is celebrated with a reading at Powell's City of Books. Hosted by the editor, Sara Guest, the evening will feature work by Emily Kendal Frey, Sarah Bartlett, FeLicia Elam, Sandra Sakurai, Tiel Aisha Ansari, and Patricia Kullberg. The event is also a celebration of a community of support, inspiration, and creativity. Portland Women Writers offers a place in which to share and cultivate the craft of writing.
Where: Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, Portland, OR 97209
When: 7:30pm
Cost: Free
For more info: or

Date: Thursday, November 20
HOTLIPS Pizza is the backdrop for a monthly morning writing workshop led by Write Around Portland. If you enjoy coffee, pastries, and words, sign up to attend this Thursday's workshop. Another example of the power of a supportive community, these workshops can help first-time writers or more experienced writers.
Where: HOTLIPS Pizza, 2211 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland, OR 97214
When: 9am-11am
Cost: A suggested $25 tax-deductible donation to support Write Around Portland per workshop
For more info and to pre-register:

Date: Friday, November 21
If you have creative ideas or questions and are looking for feedback, suggestions, or overall support, Independent Publishing Resource Center has just the forum for you. The DIY Braintrust Group meets monthly for participants to offer insight, solve issues, and brainstorm solutions. It is just one great place to find a community of support and shared creative goals.
Where: IPRC, 917 SW Oak Street #218, Portland, OR 97205
When: 6pm-7:30pm
Cost: Free Drop-in
For more info: or call 503-827-0249

Monday, November 10, 2008

Editorial Tip of the Week: Affecting the Effect

Do you sometimes pause while writing and have to wonder if your choice between affect and effect was the right one?

The mystery remains.

Take a moment to look up the words in the dictionary or online. You could come away with a whole new meaning.

Try the online dictionary:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wordstock 2008

It's almost time for my favorite event of the year: Wordstock. Yup, this ranks even higher on my list than Christmas or birthdays. Seriously, what could be better than two whole days of a convention center filled with books, the people who create them, and the people who worship them? Besides that, Wordstock gives out these awesome buttons with witty sayings like "Reading is sexy." I'm getting giddy just writing this!

If you're in the Portland area, I urge you to check Wordstock out. The book fair at the Portland Convention Center this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. Indigo will be there at booth #746 with great stuff like books, T-shirts, and free consultations for writers. We'll also host the winner of Sledgehammer as she reads her story on the Community of Writers stage at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Come to the reading to pick up your free copy of the Sledgehammer chapbook.

If you can't wait till Saturday for all this book loving, evening events like readings and poetry slams actually start tomorrow. Check out for more details and venue locations.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sledgehammer Winner Announced!

Congratulations to Mel Wells for winning the Sledgehammer writing contest with her story, "Moving On." You can download Mel's story at and also see her read at Wordstock this Saturday at 11:30 a.m. We'll be on the Community of Writers stage at the Oregon Convention Center.

Ink-Filled Page Call for Submissions

Call for submissions! We're looking for fiction, nonfiction, and art submissions for our literary journal. Please consider submitting and passing this information on to anyone you think may be interested.

Ink-Filled Page is a quarterly literary journal produced by Indigo Editing & Publications, The journal is published online quarterly, and we print an anthology annually. Our most recent quarterly issue was released in October and is available at Our anthologies are available from any Powell's and on our site.

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
• multicultural themes
• feminism
• magical realism
We are specifically looking for fresh, untold stories and unique voices that draw us into the world of the story. While we know and love many Jo(h)ns, we are inundated by character Jo(h)ns. We ask that you only submit characters by that name if it is necessary for the story.

Limit submissions to 5,000 words, one submission per candidate. Authors who submit more than one piece will not be considered. Electronic submissions only.

All literary submissions must be written for an English-reading audience. By submitting a story to Ink-Filled Page, you confirm that you are the sole creator of the story and that you hold all rights to your piece.

Artwork Submissions

Artwork submissions are open to all mediums, but pieces must be submitted electronically. Winning pieces are selected based on composition and originality. Pieces will be published in color in the online quarterly issue and in black and white in the print anthology. Please submit pieces that will translate well in both contexts. We are looking for pieces that highlight the human experience—show us the good or the bad, be surreal or real, but make sure that whatever you submit connects us, human to human.

Limit three submissions per candidate. Artists who submit more than three pieces will not be considered. Submit digital artwork at 300 dpi or higher. By submitting your artwork to Ink-Filled Page, you confirm that you are the sole creator of said artwork and that you hold all rights to your piece.

The deadline for all submissions is November 30, 2008. Visit us online for more information and to submit.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Tapestry of Tales Festival

Now that the rain is upon us once again and our clocks are effectively turned back, it can be hard to leave the house after 4:00 p.m. If you're like me and need a little extra incentive to get out of bed in the winter months, look no further than the ninth annual Tapestry of Tales Storytelling Festival, sponsored by Multnomah County Library.

The festival runs most of November and features prominent storytellers like Syd Lieberman, Motoko, and Grammy-winner Bill Harley. The kickoff event on November 10th at the Hollywood Library is an especially promising one. Entitled Cringe Down Memory Lane, participants are invited to exploit their cringe-worthy selves by bringing old journal entries, photographs or agonizing love letters, the more embarrassing the better. I personally participated in a similar event last year and read some pretty insightful seventh grade observations on rollerblading and the movie Sister Act 2.

Most events are free of charge, though some special events do charge admission. For more information, visit

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sledgehammer Recap

Okay, so I'm a little late in posting on Sledgehammer, but that doesn't mean it hasn't had my adrenaline going for the last week! Sledgehammer took place in Portland on October 18 and 19, and I, for one, had a blast. We had 11 teams register for the 36-hour writing challenge--complete with scavenger hunt and optional teamwork--and 100 percent more who said they wouldn't miss it again for the world. I think that means we'll make it annual!

Teams or individuals were required to write a short story completely within the 36 hours dedicated for the contest. They had to follow clues to three Portland businesses to pick up writing prompts that were required to be included in the final product. Prompts included:

the sushi chef from Mizu Sushi
dialogue written by Writers' Dojo members
a three-line excerpt from the book Visibility
the phrase all girl summer fun

With those same four prompts appearing in each story, results varied greatly. Judge Jan Underwood, 2005 winner of the 3-Day Novel Contest and Portland resident, summed them up with, "These eight stories range in tone from farcical to contemplative. Three include romance and three involve elements of the supernatural. Settings range from a snow-bound prairie town to an antique tractor fair to our own dear Portland."

If you've got your editor eye working, you saw that Jan said "eight stories." Yes, it's true. We had three tragic losses along the way. Actually, we don't know if they were tragic in any capacity other than not finishing the stories, and we certainly hope all contestants are alive, well, and still writing.

From the participants who finished, feedback includes:

"Thanks for getting me started on writing! Writing the story helped me gauge the extent of my imagination, and how difficult it is to be a writer. To be honest, I never expected to write something dark, but that is what came out. I realized that writing is that less explored mode of self-expression, which is something I have never explored earlier. I really appreciate your efforts, and I hope you have great success in this and the future years in SledgeHammer!"

"Nice job putting everything together! It was really fun, even the frantic-revising-until-the-last-minute part."

We also had amazing support from the business community in Portland, with 30 businesses donating to our prize package, which totaled over $3,000 worth of prizes, including a bike tour of Hawaii from Common Circle Expeditions, a lunch meeting with literary agent Cathy Fowler, and oodles of gift certificates for food, books, classes, writing community membership, and much more.

The Oregonian came out too, immortalizing our inaugural event and one participant's sweatpants. Check out the article here.

In short, we love this time-constrained writing challenge and will definitely be doing it again next year. Watch for us next fall!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

From Imagination to Draft: A Writing Workshop

A Writing Workshop given by Mary McIntosh, Ph.D.
When: Mondays, Oct. 27- Dec. 15, 7:15-8:45 p.m.
Where: Cover to Cover Books, 1817 Main St., Vancouver 98660
Cost: $79.00/ eight weeks.
For info and registration, call 360-433-9044 or e-mail

How do you develop poems and short prose—personal essay, memoir, or story—from an idea or even a “blank” mind? Discover how to make this happen. Learn how creativity works and how to capture your imagination in writing. This workshop will answer the questions: How does “good” writing get written? How do I generate ideas? How can I overcome writer’s block? How can I find my own voice? We will learn how to create a supportive atmosphere for critiquing each other’s work by writing and sharing our writing each workshop evening. Expect to complete several pieces by the end of eight weeks. On November 17 at 7:30 p.m. we will attend the VoiceCatcher reading at Powell’s Books (Burnside) in Portland. Come and help inspire Vancouver writers.

Mary McIntosh, Ph.D., is a freelance writer and editor who has taught creative writing workshops and college classes in writing for over 25 years. She has published poems in literary magazines and is a contributor to VoiceCatcher 3, an anthology of Portland Women Writers.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ink-Filled Page Readings

Now that Ink-Filled Page Anthology 2008 is on the cusp of its launch, we'd like to announce the following readings by contributors in the anthology:

Tuesday, October 21, 7-10 p.m.
Ink-Filled Page Anthology 2008 Launch
SE 8th and Alder, Portland, OR
Featured contributors: Tonia McConnell, Kessa Shipley, Gwen Swanson, Ashley Taylor

Sunday, October 26, 7-9 p.m.
158 Ludlow (upstairs), New York, NY
Featured contributors: Alana Cash, Joseph Riippi, Jonathan Willard

Wednesday, November 12, 7-9 p.m.
Blackbird Wineshop
3519 NE 44th Ave., Portland, OR
Featured contributors: Kessa Shipley, Gwen Swanson

Monday, November 17, 5-8 p.m.
151 Ludlow (downstairs), New York, NY
Featured contributors: Alana Cash, Joseph Riippi, Jonathan Willard

Friday, October 17, 2008

Portland Literary Events

Date: Sunday, October 19
Mykle Hansen will read from Help! A Bear is Eating Me! at the novella’s launch party. The party will feature snacks, drinks, “goth-industrial dancing,” and a bear-safety-themed slideshow.
Where: Plan B, 1305 SE 8th Avenue, Portland, OR 97214
When: Doors open at 4:00 p.m. Performance begins at 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
Fore more info: (503) 230-9020

Date: Monday, October 20
Tommy Gaffney will host Artists Night Out, an open mic for poets. Signup starts at 6:00 p.m. The event will also feature local authors Elizabeth Archers and Todd Van Voris.
Where: Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Morrison Street, Portland OR 97205
When: 6:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Monday, October 20
Rick Wartzman will read from Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.
Where: Annie Bloom’s Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR 97219
When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Monday, October 20
Christian Lander will read from Stuff White People Like.
Where: Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, 3723 NE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland 97214
When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Tuesday, October 21
Poet Karen Braucher will read from Aqua Curves, and poet Daniel Nathan Terry will read from Capturing the Dead.
Where: Looking Glass Bookstore, 7983 SE 13th Avenue, Portland, OR 97202
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Tuesday, October 21
In Other Words Women’s Books and Resources will hold a new volunteer orientation.
Where: In Other Words, 8 NE Killingsworth Street, Portland, OR 97211
When: 6:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Tuesday, October 21
Bill Kelter will read from Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance.
Where: Broadway Books, 1714 NE Broadway, Portland, OR
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info: (503) 284-1726

Date: Wednesday, October 22
Julia Grass will read from I See You Everywhere.
Where: Powell’s City of Books on Burnside, 1005 W Burnside, Portland, OR 97209
When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Thursday, October 23
Penelope Schott and Madeline Tiger will host “Starting Here, Starting Now,” a joint reading and poetry workshop. No registration is necessary.
Where: Twenty-Third Avenue Books, 1015 NW 23rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97210
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Thursday, October 23
Madeline Albright will read from Memo to the President Elect.
Where: Bagdad Theater, 3702 SE Hawthorne, Portland, OR 97214
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $15 (admission includes a copy of the book)
For more info:

Date: Friday, October 24
David Wolman will read from Righting the Mother Tongue.
Where: Powell’s City of Books on Burnside, 1005 W Burnside, Portland, OR 97209
When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Friday, October 24
David Heatley will read from My Brain is Hanging Upside Down.
Where: Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, 3723 NE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland 97214
When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Only Three Days Left Till Sledgehammer!

The writing contest of the century--or at least the weekend--is almost upon us.

Indigo Editing & Publications introduces a new approach to shattering writer’s block: create teams, run around Portland gathering writing prompts and write a story … all within 36 hours.

This weekend will bring the first-ever Sledgehammer writing contest. Starting at noon on Saturday, October 18, teams of writers will converge at Backspace, 115 N.W. 5th Ave. in Portland, to receive their first writing prompt and clues to further writing prompts. They’ll head out to several locations around Portland to gather all four writing prompts, and they’ll have 36 hours to write the best fiction piece they can come up with. Final submissions are due back at Backspace by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, October 19.

The winning piece will be selected by judge Jan Underwood, 2005 winner of the 3-Day Novel Writing Contest for Day Shift Werewolf. The victorious team takes home the prize package worth over $3,000 and will be scheduled to read during Wordstock, held November 8 and 9 at the Portland Convention Center.

Prizes include a bike tour of Hawaii, writing classes, writing community memberships, books, gift certificates, magazine subscriptions, T-shirts, editing services and much more! The winning piece will be distributed in print at Wordstock and online at

Participant registration is open to individuals as well as teams. Register online at or in person as late as noon on October 18. Cost is $20/individual or $75/team. Open to all ages. Participants 12 and under will receive free feedback on their story, courtesy of Indigo Editing & Publications.

Through the Sledgehammer writing contest, we support writing as a team activity, foster love for the beautiful city of Portland and its small businesses and thrive through cooperative creativity among people and across the arts.

Autumn 2008 Ink-Filled Page Released

Art has many muses and outlets. From family adventures and quarrels to secrets—both good and bad—art allows us to step into the mind of the author or artist. For a few moments, we are transported to a life not our own, perhaps similar or maybe more different than we ever thought possible.

The authors and artists in the Autumn 2008 issue of the Ink-Filled Page have drawn from multiple muses and methods—many of them masters of both the pen and the brush—and their collective talent is drawn together here to present you with one masterpiece. Enjoy.

Visit to download the Autumn 2008 issue for only $3, or subscribe to all four quarterly online issues of volume 3 as well as the print anthology for just $25.

New Release Spotlight: Live Through This

Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love
By Debra Gwartney

In Live Through This, memoirist Debra Gwartney ventures into the dark and dangerous world of street life to reclaim her daughters. Her voice resounds with honesty and self-reflection as she recalls the trials that changed her own life as well as and her daughters’.

After separating from her husband and moving her four daughters “back home” to the Northwest, Gwartney begins to see the changes affecting her two oldest for the worst. Her oldest daughter, Amanda, picks up some scary habits, including self-mutilation, drugs, and alcohol, while her daughter Stephanie becomes Amanda’s follower. The two girls claim they are there for each other and seem to have an inextricable bond that keeps them together, for better or worse.

That same bond leads Stephanie to run away with her older sister when Amanda gets kicked out of school for arson. Over the course of a few years, the two girls run many times, to the despair of their mother. With the help of her ex-husband and their families and friends, Gwartney puts them into counseling, rehabilitation, a wilderness therapy program, and even foster care in an effort to get them help and bring them home. Yet, despite attempts by their entire family, the girls seem to be getting farther and farther away.

After they finally break away from each other, the sisters begin to make their long, separate journeys home. Amanda comes home first after a heroin overdose; however, Stephanie is nowhere to be found for a long period with no contact with her family. The family waits on pins and needles, while the story drags on in anticipation. Will Stephanie ever come home? And if she does, can Gwartney repair the damage that has been done to her family and her relationship with her daughters—or will they run away again, this time forever?

Gwartney captures the struggle of a single mother trying to recover her lost teenagers as well as keep her family together through divorce and the many changes that come with it. Her ability to look back on her own actions with objectivity and fairness, without blame, lends the story a startling truthfulness. Her honesty of her own actions makes her a trustworthy narrator. She writes:

I knew the cutting was more than a release. And yet I didn’t seek out another therapist, another expert, who might give me a different opinion or offer a solution. I simply told myself that my daughter would get past this soon. Then it was too late.

The story drags on a bit near the end during a period of time in which the story in real life was also stagnant; yet, the reader is rewarded with an ending filled with stunning realizations and emotional insight. By the end of the story, the reader feels an unshakable bond with Gwartney’s family; her fierce love keeps them trudging through the hard times.

Warning: Keep tissues on hand—it will be hard not to cry during this book.

Review by Leah Gibson-Blackfeather, Indigo Editing & Publications, LLC

ISBN: 978-0-5470-5447-6
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Pub Date: February 2009
Hardcover: $24.00

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall/Winter Writing Workshops with Portland Women Writers

Fall Wednesday Evenings with Rhea Wolf
8 sessions, October 22 to December 17 (no session on November 26)
Time: 7:00-9:30 p.m.
Cost: $130

Fall Thursday Mornings with Rhea Wolf
5 sessions, October 22 to November 20
Time: 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Cost: $80

Contact:, (503) 234-8996

Fall Thursday Evenings with Jennifer Springsteen
5 sessions, November 6 to December 11 (no workshop on November 27)
Time: 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Cost: $90

Winter Thursday Evenings with Jennifer Springsteen
5 sessions, January 8 to February 5
Time: 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Cost: $100

Contact:, (503) 890-3127

Winter Friday Mornings with Dawn Thompson
6 sessions, January 16 to February 20
Time: 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Cost: $120

Contact:, (503) 654-1200

Winter Writing Retreat with Dawn and Emily
Power, Passion, and Desire: A Women's Writing Retreat

When: December 5-7 (Friday evening and Sunday afternoon)

Where: Silver Falls Conference Center in Sublimity, OR

About: At the darkest time of the year we naturally turn inward. This weekend retreat offers the opportunity to retreat, to reconnect, and too regenerate in the magical forest of Silver Falls. We will identify the stories we have been telling that now serve us by using the tools of astrology, Sacred Story writing, visualization, and collage. As we release the past, we will create space to uncover our desires, revitalize our passions, and heighten the true expression of our authentic selves.

All women are welcome. Previous astrology or writing experience is not necessary. Please provide your birth information (date, time, and place) when you register.

$275 (before Nov. 1); $300 (after Nov. 1)
The cost includes all meals and shared lodging. Some singles are available for an extra $45. A $150 deposit reserves your spot. If you cancel with at least two weeks notice before the retreat, your deposit will be refunded, minus the $20 processing fee.


Contact Emily for more information or to register:, (503) 288-7097

Friday, October 10, 2008

Portland Literary Events

Date: Friday, October 10–Monday, October 13
Buy books, CDs, DVDs, audiotapes, videotapes, maps, and sheet music at the Friends of the Multnomah County Library used book sale. Children’s books and pocket-sized paperbacks start at $.50. Hardcover and larger paperbacks start at $1.50.
Where: 8150 N Lombard Street, Portland, OR 97203
When: Friday (member only presale, 6:00–9:00 p.m.); Saturday (9:00 a.m.–6:00p.m.); Sunday (11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.); Monday (9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.)
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Saturday, October 11
Nobel Peace Prize candidate Dr. Jeff Halper will speak on the Middle East.
Where: Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1624 NE Hancock Street, Portland, OR 97212
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info: (503) 287-1289

Date: Sunday, October 12
View original picture book art from the Caldecott Honor winner Bryan Collier. A self-guided tour of his original picture book art, including books to read and explore, will be available to groups throughout the exhibit. All groups who take the tour will receive complimentary Bryan Collier buttons! To reserve a tour, call (503) 988-5340. Defining Moments: An Exhibition of the Works of Bryan Collier lasts until November 6.
Where: Collins Gallery, 3rd Floor, Central Library, 801 SW 10th Avenue, Portland, OR 97205
When: Noon – 5:00 p.m. (other days and times available on the library’s website)
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Monday, October 13
David Macaulay will read from The Way We Work.
Where: Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR 97005
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Tuesday, October 14
Sarah Vowell will read from The Wordy Shipmates.
Where: Bagdad Theater, 3702 SE Hawthorne, Portland, OR 97214
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $25 (includes a copy of the book)
For more info: (503) 225-5555

Date: Tuesday, October 14
Floyd Skloot will read from The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of the Writer’s Life.
Where: Broadway Books, 1714 NE Broadway, Portland, OR 97232
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info: (503) 284-1726

Date: Wednesday, October 15
Betty Fussell will read from Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef.
Where: Powell’s City of Books on Burnside, 1005 W Burnside, Portland, OR 97209
When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Thursday, October 16
Media attorney Derek Green will discuss online news, the First Amendment, and how the Internet has changed journalism.
Where: Twenty-Third Avenue Books, 1015 NW 23rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97210
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Thursday, October 16
Don Colburn, Annie Lighthart, and Scot Siegal will read from Windfall: A Journal of Poetry of Place.
Where: Looking Glass Bookstore, 7983 SE 13th Avenue, Portland, OR 97202
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

New Release Spotlight: Downtown Owl

Downtown Owl
By Chuck Klosterman

Using his well-known wit, dry humor, and sarcastic voice, Chuck Klosterman welcomes readers to Owl, North Dakota. Owl is like many small American towns. There’s a café (Harley’s) where old men drink coffee, rehash arguments, and talk about high school football. Every night the same people drink—and get drunk—at the same bars (Yoda’s, Mick’s Tavern, the White Indian, the Oasis Wheel, and so forth). And teenage boys aimlessly drive around on deserted roads as they argue about the winner of an imaginary fight (Cubby Candy vs. Chris Sellers).

Set in the early 1980s, Downtown Owl is a 273-page character sketch of Owl and its residents. The book follows three main characters: Mitch Hrlicka, a ordinary teenager who is sick of talking about the “fight” between Cubby and Chris; Julia Rabia, a young teacher and new resident of Owl who never has to pay for a drink because she is the only available woman in town; and Horace Jones, a seventy-three-year-old man who enjoys living alone and drinking coffee at Harley’s each afternoon. For the majority of the book, the chapters alternate between each character. Only two chapters are devoted to characters outside the main three. (These two divergences were unneeded and a bit distracting.)

As with any novel that follows different characters who aren’t connected by a central plotline, the author runs the risk of creating a disjointed story that leaves the reader asking, “How does this all connect?” In the beginning, this question comes floating out of Downtown Owl. The main characters seem to be living different lives. What can a teenager, a teacher in her early twenties, and a seventy-something old man have in common? But then, the question disappears as Klosterman subtly connects Mitch, Julia, and Horace by way of the memories, experiences, and stories (not always their own) that they share. They reveal that the residents are connected by a collective conscious. Simply put, everyone in Owl knows everything about everyone.

Klosterman does a thorough job of developing Mitch, Julia, and Horace. Even more amazing is his ability to move between the characters’ voices, which are all very different. He rarely slips up. It is clear that he understands—and cares—for each of them. He takes the characters, and inadvertently the town, beyond their respective stereotypes and gives them their own unique storylines. Mitch struggles with the fact that his coach and English teacher, who calls Mitch Vanna because of the lack of vowels in his last name, impregnated a student and got away with it. Julia desperately tries to get a local legend and buffalo farmer to love her. Horace reflects on his life in Owl and struggles with a deep secret. And just when Klosterman has you feeling completely connected to the lives of his characters and to Owl, he plops a blizzard into the story and tests all of them.

Almost a character itself is Klosterman’s humor. The novel is filled with laugh-out-loud lines that beg to be read again and again. At the same time, his humor does not feel overdone or forced, but effortless, and he knows when to turn it on and off. There are funny lists scattered throughout the book. A particularly humorous one is Horace’s grocery list filled with “old man” food. It includes: “Campbell’s tomato soup…sausages (these were what he called hot dogs), candy… noodles (this is what he called Kraft Macaroni & Cheese), fake butter (this is what he called margarine), cookies…Elf Krispies (this is what he called Rice Krispies)…Wonder bread, and black licorice (this was not the same as candy, somehow).” This list is just the beginning of many comical lines, scenes, paragraphs, pages, chapters, and so on.

Upon first glance it seems Klosterman is merely regurgitating a story that has already been told. But Downtown Owl is about much more than cantankerous old men hanging out in a café, locals drinking cheap beer, and teenagers talking about a fight that hasn’t even happened.

Review by Megan Wellman, Indigo Editing & Publications, LLC

ISBN: 978-1-4165-4418-0
Publisher: Scribner
Pub Date: September 2008
Hardcover: $24.00

Friday, October 03, 2008

Portland Literary Events

Date: Saturday, October 4
Write Around Portland will host its annual fundraiser Wordigo, featuring Mad Libs, Scrabble, Boggle, Wordigo poker, and a pool open typewriters. There will be prizes, cocktails, desserts, music by DJ Safi, and a silent auction.
Where: Design Within Reach, 1200 NW Everett, Portland, OR 97232
When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: General admission ($35), supporters ($75), and patrons ($150)
For more info:

Date: Sunday, October 5
Danny Goldberg will read from Bumping into Geniuses.
Where: Powell’s City of Books on Burnside, 1005 W Burnside, Portland, OR 97209
When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Monday, October 6
Graeme Base will read from Enigma: A Magical Mystery.
Where: 4807 NE Fremont Street, Portland, OR 97213
When: 10:00 a.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Monday, October 6
Mississippi Pizza will host its weekly adult spelling bee.
Where: Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N Mississippi Avenue, Portland, OR 97227
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Tuesday, October 7
Local playwrights Marc Acito, Cynthia Whitcomb, and Storm Large will speak about the art and craft of writing for the stage.
Where: The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97201
When: 7:00 pm.
Cost: Members (free), guests of members and students ($5), all others ($10)
For more info:

Date: Wednesday, October 8
Kim Barnes will read from A Country Called Home.
Where: Annie Bloom’s Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR 97219
When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Thursday, October 9
Pete Jordan, author of Dishwater, will present a slide show lecture from his upcoming title, In the City of Bikes: An Up Close Look at Amsterdam. Nickey Robare will screen her film Small Movements and chat about the Sprockettes, the world’s fist mini-bike dance team. The event will also feature artwork by Tiago DeJerk and music by Baby Dollars.
Where: The Cleaners, 403 SW 10th Avenue, Portland, OR 97205
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $3.00 and up (sliding scale)
For more info:

Date: Thursday, October 9
Kevin Vowles will read from 21st Century Hippies: Activists in Pursuit of Peace and Social Justice.
Where: Twenty-Third Avenue Books, 1015 NW 23rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97210
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Thursday, October 9
Art Spiegelman, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus, presents Breakdowns, a reprint of his 1978 collection along with a new illustrated essay.
Where: Bagdad Theater, 3702 Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: $5
For more info:

Date: Thursday, October 9
Jewell Parker Rhodes will read from Yellow Moon, the second book in the New Orleans-based trilogy.
Where: Broadway Books, 1714 NE Broadway, Portland, OR 97201
When: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Date: Friday, October 10
Deborah Copaken Kogan will read from Between Here and April.
Where: Powell’s City of Books on Burnside, 1005 W Burnside, Portland, OR 97209
When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free
For more info:

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Banned Book Week

Thanks to Kate who got us involved with this!

In honor of Banned Book Week 2008, here is the ALA's list of the 100 most frequently challenged books from 1990-2000. The ones in red are the ones we have read.

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry

15. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth's Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

40. What's Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What's Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier