Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: The Fine Art of Snow Men

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: Illustrated Supplement from the New-York Tribune, January 22, 1905.
Library of Congress, Chronicling America.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Introducing...

Some sentences, like people, need no introduction. Others get by with a little help from introductory words or phrases. Whether they are direct addresses, transitions, or words and phrases describing context, there is a correct way to make introductions.

Adverbial and particpial phrases at the beginning of a sentence are generally followed by the use of a comma. After reading the note, Allison turned pale. These commas are especially placed after introductory clauses when a natural pause occurs. Single words or very short introductory phrases only need to be followed by a comma to avoid misunderstanding when reading. One particular rule is to not use a comma if the introductory phrase is less than five words. Also, a comma should not be used if the phrase immediately precedes the verb it modifies. For example, Out of the Mercedes stepped the woman we were looking for.

A comma also follows the introductory names or words in a direct address or in informal correspondence. Mrs. Jones, will you please take a seat. Or, Dad, this is my new boyfriend. Or the infamous Dear John,...

Similarly, a comma should always follow yes, no, well, and other words like these. Yes, I did empty the garbage can.

As explained in last week's tip, exclamatory phrases and interjections are often used as introductions; "oh" is very commonly used for this purpose and should be followed by a comma if a slight pause is intended.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Jan. 4th, 7:30 pm: "I See Rude People," presented by syndicated columnist, Amy Alkon. Reading from her book about the deterioration of manners and common courtesy. Powell's City of Books.

Jan. 5th, 7 pm: Jessica Morrell speaks on "Kill Your Muse, Pick Your Fights, Polish Relentlessly, and Keep Going...towards publication." Presented by Willamette Writers at the Old Church (SW 11th & Clay, Portland). $10 for non-members.

Jan. 8-15th, 7:30 nightly: Reading series in Seaside, hosted by the Pacific University M.F.A. program. Three readers a night (at the Best Western Ocean View Resort), including Bonnie Jo Campbell, Pete Fromm, Pam Houston, and more!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Macgregor the Ram

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

This photo story prompt was posted slightly late, but it will hopefully provide a gem for your stories. Happy writing!

Photo: "'Macgregor', owned by James R. Dempster, Ladyton" by Charles Reid.
National Gallery of Scotland, Accession Number PGP R 922.2.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Listen up! Interjections are strong!

Listen up!
You don't say!
Get out!

No, I'm not yelling; I'm interjecting! We do it all the time in speech, so why not include interjections in writing as well? An interjection (also known as an exclamation) is a word, phrase, or clause used to convey strong feeling. It has little or no grammatical function in a sentence, and is frequently allowed to stand alone as its own sentence. Interjections are actually quite natural in speech and so are often included in dialogue or even poetry. They can be used to imply a range of emotions such as humor, anger, annoyance or disappointment.

Most parts of speech may be used as interjections because they are grammatically independent of the rest of the sentence. If a word is classified as some other part of speech, but used with the same force as an interjection, it is referred to as an exclamatory noun (Idiot!), exclamatory verb (Help!), exclamatory adjective (Good!), exclamatory pronoun (Dear me!), and so forth.

Some words are used only as interjections and never serve any other purpose: ouch, whew, ugh, psst, and oops are examples. Introductory words such as well or why may also act as interjections when they are functioning as meaningnless utterances: well, I tried my best or why, I would never do that.

Most often an exclamation point will punctuate an interjection because it is used to convey a strong emotion: oh no! If the whole sentence contributes to the feeling, then the exclamation point will come at the very end of the strong feeling: Oh no, I forgot my appointment!

Clearly, oh is a very common interjection as it is used so often in everyday speech and written dialogue. According to Chicago, "oh takes the place of other interjections to express an emotion such as pain {Ow!}, surprise {What!}, wonder {Strange!}, or aversion {Ugh!}." Oh should be capitalized only if it starts the sentences; it is also typically followed by a comma in order to indicate a natural pause.

Check Webster or Chicago for the spellings of some interjections, such as atchoo or pshaw! And if they are not found in either source, seek plausible spellings in literature. If all else fails, sound it out and invent your own!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Remember the Libraries in this Season of Giving

In this season of giving, we should strive to recognize and support organizations that constantly give to our community. The Library Foundation for the Multnomah County Library is one such nonprofit that has been working to provide a opportunities to improve literacy while developing a programs to aid our local library system.

As the Library Foundation announces on their website, they are currently:
  • Supporting teachers at a time when many school libraries are on the wane.
  • Inspiring students in our lowest performing schools through rousing “booktalks” and exciting books that they can take home and read.
  • Reaching vast numbers of children, through Summer Reading, at the time when low performing students are most likely to fall further behind.
  • Bringing books and reading into the homes of children at-risk for low literacy with the award-winning Raising a Reader program.
  • Reaching first-time parents with books, instructional tools on brain development and incentives that encourage them to visit the library with their new babies.
Libraries are particularly important in these periods of economic hardship. They provide a place for the unemployed to access the Internet. Families can enjoy both free educational opportunities and many events focusing on arts and culture. Libraries also offer a warm place for anyone to sit and read a book.

You can donate through the Willamette Week's Give!Guide, where you can also give to 78 other local nonprofits, or you can donate directly to the Library Foundation through their online donation system.

If you are interested in the impact of your donation, or if you would like to donate through other means, please read more information provided by the Library Foundation. As the season grows colder, stop by your local library to see what they have to offer, to warm up with a book.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Dec. 19th, 2 pm: Vitaly and Kimberly Paley, spouses, local Northwest chefs, and owners of Paley's Place, release their cookbook at the Clackamas Town Center Barnes & Noble (12000 SE 82nd Ave).

Dec. 20th, 1 pm: You'll never guess who is having a Christmas party. Fancy Nancy, that's who. You and one of your child-like friends can join the festivities by donning a gown from the dress-up box and celebrating Fancy Nancy's Splendiferous Christmas. The party is hosted at The Children's Place Bookstore (4807 NE Fremont) so expect stories, tasty treats, and other fun activities.

Dec. 20th, 11 am-6 pm: Dozens of Portland publishers, vendors, and printers are gathering their knowledge and newest works to share with you at the Publication Fair Holiday Extravaganza. The set-up is a cross between a book fair and the state fair (think festive goodies), at Ace Cleaners in Portland(403 SW 10th Ave).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Inoculation

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "Dr. Schreiber of San Augustine giving a typhoid innoculation at a rural school, San Augustine County, Texas" by John Vachon.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Reproduction Number LC-USW36-828.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Calling all "Rising Stars"

If you are a "rising star" writer residing in Oregon, Washington, or Idaho, and between the ages of 15 and 25, Indigo has found the perfect writing competition, eager for your submissions. The Nature of Words, a premier literary organization in Central Oregon, is announcing the launch of its sixth annual literary contest with a call for submissions to the Rising Star Creative Writing Competition for young writers. Winners will be awarded at the festival, November 3-7, 2010, in Bend, Oregon, for fiction, literary nonfiction, nature essay, and poetry. All writers must fit into one of two age categories: 15-18 years of age or 19-25 years of age. Winners receive a cash prize, inclusion in an anthology, recognition at the November festival, and a scholarship to one of The Nature of Words workshops in their winning genre.

Poets may submit 2 unpublished poems; prose writers should submit one unpublished piece of no more than 3,000 words. "Unpublished" means the writing does not appear anywhere else, including Internet sources, with the exception of a blog. Entries should be accompanied by a separate cover sheet with the author's name, maling address, phone, email address, genre of the submission, and word count; this information should not be visible on the actual entry. Also, include a short bio that describes yourself and your experience and interest in writing.

Now, for actually submitting. Mail a $5 check (per entry) to The Nature of Words, P.O. Box 56, Bend, OR 97709, and note "Rising Star submission fee." Send all submissions electronically to All entries must be received no later than midnight, May 10, 2010, to be evaluated for the competition.

For more details and to double-check the submission guidelines, please visit before submitting.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: De-Clutter Your Writing

I know people who are pack rats, and I must admit a small tendency toward this unfortunate characteristic myself. I keep freshmen composition papers as humble reminders that I was a rampant comma abuser once. I keep sociology class notes even though I'm not a sociologist, because they may help me imagine a character someday. I keep jewelry from junior high even though the "silver" is tarnished, because I intend to polish it and wait for it to come back in style eventually. What if someday I miss these items and regret tossing them in a feverish need to clean out the closet? Clutter, clutter, clutter is all these items are. Writing gets cluttered as well, usually due to too many prepositions or prepositional phrases. These little words we think will make our sentence better are really just a nuisance to readers.

So when editing, feel free to toss out the unneeded ones; I guarantee nine and a half times out of ten, you won't miss them once they're gone. Chicago admits that prepositions can easily be overused and presents a ratio to consider when writing sentences: one preposition for every ten to fifteen words. If you find yourself overdoing it and keeping too many prepositions stuffed between your nouns and other parts of speech, here's how to re-evaluate and do some spring cleaning!

Start by cutting prepositional phrases that are just extra words. If a particular passage gives enough context, eliminating the prepositional phrases is often possible. "The most important ingredient in this recipe" can be cut down to "The most important ingredient," as long as the rest of your passage focuses on that recipe.

Here's another way to cut the prep: "A noun ending in ance, ence, ity, ment, sion, or tion, is often formed from a verb...These nouns are sometimes called "nominalizations" or "buried verbs," and they often require additional words, especially prepositions." So, when possible, use the verb form of a noun rather than adding prepositions. "During her performance of the concerto" is the same as "While she performed the concerto," but the reader isn't suffocated by prepositions.

Other times strong adverbs can replace a weaker prepositional phrase. See how "the cyclist pedaled with fury" is strengthened by adding an adverb: "the cyclist pedaled furiously." Possessive may serve this same purpose, especially when using of-phrases. "I was dismayed by the complexity of the street map" can become "The street map's complexity dismayed me."

Lastly, prepositions can almost always be limited by activity (as opposed to passivity)! Isn't that the truth? Now I'm really talking about using the active voice, which we already know is the higher road. But let's apply it to our clutter as well. Swing open that closet door, gather what you know is really junk, and throw it out! And then sit down to your writing and de-clutter each sentence with the same zeal.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Dec. 12th, 2-4 pm: Mini Sledgehammer features a 36-minute writing contest and a reading from last summer's Sledgehammer winner, Alan Dubinsky. St. Johns Booksellers, 8622 N. Lombard, Portland.

Dec. 12th, 6 pm: Stumptown Underground releases its 4th anthology, Terrible Lizards. It's all about dinosaurs, so dress to impress! Hosted by Guapo Comics & Books in Portland (6350 SE Foster Rd)

Dec. 13th, 1-4 pm: Steve Williams and Constance Hall lead "Mapping Your Childhood" workshop, helping you put the pen to paper and conjure past memories of adolescence and earlier. Cost is $25 and proceeds benefit the 100th Monkey Studio (workshop located at the 100th Monkey Studio: 110 SE 16th Ave)

Dec. 18th, 6:30 pm: Write Around Portland celebrates its 10th anniversary with the release of a fall anthology. Workshop participants will read at the First United Methodist Church in Portland (1838 SW Jefferson St). Write Around Portland creates community-building workshops for individuals living in poverty, dealing with illness, facing isolation or experiencing other barriers.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Building the B-25 Bomber

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "Part of the cowling for one of the motors for a B-25 bomber is assembled in the engine department of North American [Aviation, Inc.]'s Inglewood, Calif., plant" by Palmer, Alfred T., photographer.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Reproduction Number LC-USW36-453.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Those Ambiguous Compounds

Writers and editors alike dread one thing perhaps more than any other. Compound terms play the part of Scrooge in a writer's attempt for perfectly crafted sentences. No one wants the embarrassment of hyphenating two terms when it's unnecessary, or forgetting a hyphen when it's called for. To understand compound terms and how to approach them in writing, Chicago suggests going to the dictionary to see how terms are listed. It is also helpful to first know some definitions and the differences between compound terms.

Open compounds are spelled as two words (such as high school), hyphenated compounds are spelled with one or more hyphens (mass-produced), and closed or solid compounds are spelled as a single word (notebook). "With frequent use, open or hyphenated compounds tend to become closed (online to on-line or on line)."

Knowing when to hyphenate, if at all, can be tricky and tedious. Chicago has a rather lengthy guide to hyphenation; however, this guide illustrates general patterns, rather than hard-and-fast rules. So, with that freedom also comes lots of responsibility to choose the best type of compound term. In general, compound terms should be expressed logically and for enhanced readability, but many times hyphens are also used purely due to tradition.

No need to bog you down with a long list of rules for using and not using hyphens; the rules are not that clear. I'd rather hand you over to my trusty friends with all the answers, Webster and Chicago. But a golden rule in using hyphens is to question the readability and clarity of a compound term with or without a hyphen. If the meaning of a term is ambiguous without a hyphen (like the difference between recreation and re-creation), then don't hesitate to add the extra punctuation.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Dec. 5th, 2 pm: Introduction of Lawrence Halprin's Where the Revolution Began, with live music and a screening of the documentary The City Dance of Lawrence and Anna Halprin. Portland's Ziba Design, 1044 NW 9th Ave.

Dec. 5th, 5 pm: Writer's Block mixer on curing "blinking cursor paralysis" led by authors Carolyn J. Rose and Mike Nettleton. Hosted at Cover to Cover Books, 1817 Main Street, Vancouver, WA.

Dec. 6th, 12-4 pm: Celebrate Oregon authors with the 42nd Annual Holiday Cheer. Features Sarah Baker Munro, Brian Booth, George Byron Wright, and dozens more, at the Oregon History Museum.

Dec. 7th, 7 pm: Local author Tommy Gaffney releases his second collection of poems and stories, entitled Whiskey Days, with a reading and concert (accompanied by Splashdown) at the Alberta Street Public House (1036 NE Alberta).

Dec. 9th, 7 pm: Poetry reading by Scot Siegel, part of the 3rd season of the Milwaukie Poetry Series, at The Pond House, 2215 SE Harrison.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Photo Story Response: Central Park

Fit for a King (or Queen, Rather)
By Laura Daye

Last time I was in Central Park, it was March, and very cold. The sky was white and threatening the full five days. I neglected to bring a scarf, which I really regretted. I was in a disintegrating relationship; five+ years and I was bored and decided to throw it away. I was staying in a hostel on Amsterdam with my boyfriend and three other friends; two of the friends were part of a couple. Even though we were staying in a dormitory of bunkbeds, the two friends that were a “couple” shared a little top bunk made for one person. I didn’t even bother to climb into my then-boyfriend’s bunk. I had no interest. I wanted space. I was cold as the New York sky.

I have photos from that trip. I was in Central Park with my boyfriend and the one accompanying friend who wasn’t part of a couple. We wandered around, and took photos of each other sitting in a throne-like seat built into a castle-like building that housed specimens of the park’s history.

The single friend is no longer a friend; I saw her a couple of years ago, and what I thought was going to be a fun reunion ended up being an outing with five other snotty, bitchy people I had never met before who threw me dirty looks and refused to engage in conversation with me. Each one, part of a couple, possessively grabbing their downtrodden boyfriends at lame Dragonfish, sipping neon-hued cocktails or water (because they seemed to anal-retentive to actually let loose with a little alcohol), thinking they’re the height of maturity. Yeah, whatever. I have no patience for that bullshit.

The then-boyfriend I trod down in New York, in Central Park, in the hostel, in the financial district, on Madison Avenue, at the Indian restaurant, is now a best friend. He is a specimen of my past, but an integral part of my present. We don’t place each other on pedestals or thrones anymore: we know all of our bad sides (and good).

And the friends that were part of a couple in New York? Long since broken up, on to the umpteenth boyfriend or girlfriend, in one case possibly THE girlfriend to last through all forthcoming seasons. I hope, I hope! I’m not entirely a pessimist, you see.

The day after we all returned to Portland, a big snowstorm hit New York. Central Park, and the city at large were coated in white. The airport shut down. Everyone was stuck. But we made it home.

This story was written in response to this photo story prompt. Please check this website every Wednesday for new prompts. We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment on the post for the prompt, or e-mail it to

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: G. Washington's Teeth

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "G. Washington's Teeth" of the George Grantham Bain Collection.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Reproduction Number LC-B2-2241-4.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: List It Out

Black Friday may be a distant memory, three days in the past, but considering the month of December is already upon us, the list of things that must be done for the holiday season is only growing longer and longer. If for any reason your text requires you to make a list, don't forget to check it (twice) according to the rules of Chicago.

All items in a list should be syntactically alike, whether they utilize noun forms, phrases, full sentences, or whatever is required by the context. Numerals or letters do not have to be used unless they will serve a purpose (to indicate order, importance, or to more clearly separate items). Lists may be made in one of two ways: either run into the text or set vertically in outline style.

Shorter and simpler lists are better in-text, especially if the items form a complete grammatical sentence with their introduction. As in, In her letter to Santa she asked for a teddy bear, roller skates, and blue hair ribbons. In other cases, the items in a list may be separated by numerals or letters, and these divisional markings should be enclosed in parenthesis. "No punctuation precedes the first parenthesis if the last word of the introductory material is a verb or a preposition. If the introdcutory material is an independent clause, a colon should precede the first parenthesis. The department store used three signature items for gift-wrapping all items for their customers: (1) silver tissue paper, (2) blue wrapping paper with silver stars, and (3) silver curling ribbon. Items in the list should be separated by commas, with the comma preceding the following number or letter; however, if any of the items require internal commas, the items should be separated by semicolons.

If a list is extremely long or if each item in a list consists of a complete sentence or several sentences, then it is best to set the list vertically. These lists are still best introduced with a complete sentence, followed by a colon. Only use closing punctuation in each item if each item is numbered or requires multiple sentences. If items are longer than one line, indent the second line to align with the first word (following the number). Shorter and skinnier items can be divided into two columns to save space. Sometimes bullets may be used as clear markings for unnumbered lists, but if used too often, they lose their force. Either of the examples above could be set in a vertical list, especially if the list grew longer, or more explanation was necessary for each new item. Other examples of strong vertical lists include shopping lists or directions.

Lists are good ways of presenting information and reminding us of what needs to be done. But we all know the best part of making a list is getting to check items off!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Nov. 29th, 4 pm: Dozens of sci-fi writers, including Star Trek's Dean Wesley Smith, gather to sign as part of Sci-Fi Authorfest III at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing (3415 SW Cedar Hills Crossing). Costumes encouraged.

Dec. 2nd, 7-9 pm: First Wednesdays @ Blackbird Wine Shop in Portland with readers Michael Shay, Ric Vrana, Roger Truax and David Matthews. 21 & over.

Dec. 2nd, 5:30 pm: Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune's new book, The Naked Pint, introduced at a beer pairing tasting, hosted at 23Hoyt in Portland. Call 503.445.7400 for required reservations. $20 a person.

Dec. 5th, 1 pm: Mini Sledgehammer Contest at the Cloud and Leaf Bookshop in Manzanita, OR. A reading from Sledgehammer winner Alan Dubinsky, and a 36 minute writing contest.

Dec. 6th, 1-5 pm: Writing Out the Holidays workshop, presented by Portland Women Writers. So many stories to tell of holidays past, present and future. Hosted by Jennifer Springsteen (4111 NE 109th Ave. Portland) $60, register by email:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Em, En, Oh Please

The story of ems and ens is one of the usual sibling rivalry. Different strokes for different folks; different rules for these two very different tools. Unfortunately, folks often want to misuse or replace one for the other. And while they may be siblings, the em and en dash are definitely not twins; therefore, they should be treated as individuals with their own unique personalities and abilities. In fact, an en is actually equal to half of an em (referring to their typographical measurements). But that doesn't mean an en isn't as good; ens and ems are just different. The basic distinguishing factor is how to type these elements. Think of it in terms of their similarity to the hyphen, their cousin; in this case, an en dash is one hyphen and an em dash is two hyphens.

Since they don't look identical, their purposes are different as well. We love the em dash because it has numerous uses and can be very versatile to the needs of a writer. Most frequently, an em dash is used to amplify or explain, much like commas, parentheses, or colons set apart other parts in a sentence. The influence of three impressionists--Monet, Sisley, and Degas--is obvious in her work.

Another use for the em dash is to separate a subject (or series of subjects) from the pronoun that introduces the main clause: Darkness, thunder, a sudden scream--nothing alarmed the child. Writers also need to sometimes indicate sudden breaks in the sentence structure, perhaps as interruptions in thoughts or dialogue, and an em dash is perfect for this purpose.

The en dash is a whole different story, most commonly called upon to connect numbers and occasionally to connect words as well. En dashes can stand in place of the words up to and including (or through). As in, Join us o Thursday, 11:30 am - 4:00 pm, to celebrate the New Year. To be consistent though, the en dash should not be used in place of to, if from precedes the first element. An en dash may also appear by itself after a date, indicating that something has not yet ended, like an event, a publication or a person's life.

Chicago also says that multiple em dashes can be used together. Oh please. But it's true! A 2-em dash would be used to omit or disguise something, possibly a name, an expletive, or other information that is missing. When a whole word is missing, space appears on both sides of the dash; no space will appear between the dash and the existing parts when only part of a word is missing. Now, for the really crazy part. A 3-em dash can also be used in a bibliography. Followed by a period, a 3-em dash represents that the same author or editor is named in the preceding entry.

Life lesson: These two typographical rules may be different from each other. But an em dash can't do the work of an en dash, and vice versa. So we'll keep them both, because, after all, they're family.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Nov. 20th & 21st, 8:30 pm: Mortified at Portland's Someday Lounge (125 NW 5th Ave.). Portland writers share love letters, journals, home videos and sketches from adolescence. $12 at the door, $10 in advance.

Nov. 21st, 7 pm: Dynamic combo of literature, art and music in Arty Words Vol. III at Disjecta (8271 N. Interstate, Portland). Featuring American essayist Curtis White with David Biespiel. Music by Adrian Orange and the Child Slave Rebellion. 21 and over, $8.

Nov. 23rd, 7 pm: Oregon Writers Colony presents readings from the writing contest finalists and winners at the Looking Glass Bookstore in Portland (7983 SE 13th Ave.)

Nov. 24th, 7 pm: Celebrate the release of The Black Book: 35th Anniversary Edition. Includes writers Porscha Burke and Toure; editorial team led by Toni Morrison and Middleton A. Harris. New York Barnes & Noble at 33 East 17th St.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Barb Wire

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.
We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "Burnt Out" by Mike Hardisty

Monday, November 16, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Money, Money, Money

In college, I always felt like a bad English major because my guilty pleasure was reading Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic series. I guess I found some common ground with the novels' protagonist, Rebecca Bloomwood. Mainly we share the same inability to understand and practice important financial matters. However, ironically enough, she wrote for a financial magazine. I've never been particularly good with money. But I figure that if one shopaholic can write about money, then so can another! So, besides understanding budgeting and financing and investing money, there is a correct way to actually write about money, and that requires investing oneself in the rules of Chicago.

The first rule follows the basic standard for either writing out or using numerals for numbers. Chicago states, "isolated references to amounts of money are spelled out or expressed with currency symbols and numerals" according to the basic rules of writing about numbers. Remember, spell out whole numbers from one to one hundred, round numbers (hundreds, thousands, millions), and any number that begins a sentence. Other numbers generally use numbers.

Another general rule is that of consistency. When a number that expresses an amount of money is spelled out, then the words representing currency should be spelled out as well; however, if a numeral is used to convey an amount of money, then the currency should be represented by a symbol. For example, use either fourteen dollars or $14; just stay consistent to avoid being edited (perhaps as miserable as being audited).

One last nitty-gritty detail. When decimals are used in a sentence (always expressed in numerals and symbols), any other reference to amounts of money should also be written in numerals, and then followed by .00, even if they are whole numbers. For example, The shoes were on sale for $29.99, but the original price was $55.00.

Throughout her Confessions, Rebecca Bloomwood learns a lot about handling money, including saving it and not maxing out multiple credit cards, even if it's at a sample sale. Though I may always struggle to understand financial planning and interest rates, at least I know how to basically express my thoughts when money is concerned. And now for one last popular culture lesson, to practice our skills in writing and money:

Buying the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, from Powell's in Portland: $55
Buying it used from Amazon: $30
Memorizing the rules, thanks to Indigo's editorial tips: priceless

On behalf of Rebecca Bloomwood and Mastercard, my advice is that your own personal copy is still a great investment.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Nov. 16th, 6:30 pm: "Querilous with Bryan Bliss," presented by Writer's on the River. Query letter practice and input from the pros. First Presbyterian Church (114 SW 8th St) in Corvallis.

Nov. 17th, 4:30 pm: Edward Channon, a.k.a. "piper to the stars," reads from his recent memoir, Ballad of a Bagpiper at Portland's Horse Brass Pub, 4534 SE Belmont St.

Nov. 18th, 7:30 pm: Roger Wendlick explains being a Lewis and Clark book collector and re-enactor in his memoir, Shotgun on My Chest. Part of the Mountain Writer's Series at Portland's The Press Club, 2621 SE Clinton St.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Central Park

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "Central Park" by jlacy304

Monday, November 09, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Writing in Other Languages

Parlez-vous français? Yeah, me neither. Although I do own une caniche (a poodle), I traveled one summer during college à Paris, and j’adore le chocolat. Impressive, I know, so I will admit I studied French for three years in high school, but didn’t continue because the Madame who taught fourth year French was très frightening. But I love to hear other languages spoken and try to add a word or phrase to my vocabulary, here and there. Not to be partial, but French and Italian are probably my favorites. I have a strange tendency to read novels by Italian authors, who write about Italian characters, living in Italian places, and yes, incorporating the Italian language into their prose. There is a correct way to do this, though, according to the experts.

If you’re writing about the food at a Mexican fiesta, an encounter at a Parisian café, or the art and architecture of Rome, there may not be an English word that does it justice. As a reader, I enjoy when writers slip in a foreign word or two (when it fits, of course). If a foreign word is likely to be unfamiliar to readers, use italics on its first reference. In my little rant above, I used italics when writing une caniche because I figured it would be unfamiliar; let’s face it, who regularly talks about their poodle in French? In these cases, it is also appropriate to translate the foreign word in parentheses or quotation marks. According to Chicago, if a familiar foreign term (such as parlez-vous français, à Paris, and all the other French I spoke above) appears in the same context as an unfamiliar term, choose to italicize either both or neither to remain consistent.

On the other hand, if a foreign word is commonly used by English writers, there is no need to use italics or to translate. As a general rule, you may check Webster to see if the foreign word is listed, but this should not be the sole basis for deciding whether or not to italicize. Use your best judgment when deciding how familiar a word is to readers. Ciao!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Nov. 6th, 7:30 pm: Poet Robert Briggs performs "My Own Atom Bomb," accompanied by jazz musicians. Works based on his memoirs of the 1950s and the beat generation. Mt. Tabor Presbyterian in Portland. $10-15 at the door.

Nov. 9th, 7 pm: Uphook Press presents 29 poets from across the nation (including PDX) reading from the brand new "you say. say" at The Waypost Cafe, 3120 N. Williams, Portland.

Nov. 11th, 7 pm: VoiceCatcher 4, an anthology of over 40 diverse, new and emerging women's voices is released with prose and poetry readings from Constance Hall, Toni Partington, and others at the Lloyd Center Barnes and Noble, 1317 Lloyd Center, Portland.

**Also, November is National Novel Writing Month. That's NaNoWriMo, for short. The purpose: "Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!" The goal: write a 50,000 word (that's about 175 pages) novel by midnight November 30th. You won't be the only one undertaking the madness, either. Last year, as many as 119,000 writers across the world participated. And anyone who finishes (and uploads their novel online) is automatically a winner! Still need convincing? Visit the official website for further instructions on signing up and dozens of motivations for participating. Now get started on that novel; you have some catching up to do!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Cabaret Meets Literature, with Bob Sterry

Everyone, mark your literary calendars for a musical and spoken journey with Bob Sterry, performing original works, as well as prose and poetry from British and American writers. Sterry shows audiences how cabaret can be a literary event!

Bob Sterry is an artist who consults other artists as well. Bob recently celebrated alongside his wife, Anne-Louise Sterry, with the release of her cookbook, Aunt Lena's Cucina, proudly edited by Indigo Editing. What a talented and highly entertaining duo!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Backyard

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "Backyard" by John Nyberg

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Over-Emphasizing

In speaking, the emphasis of our words comes across through inflection and intonation. In writing, we use italics and quotation marks. "Mom, when will my so-called dinner be ready?" asked Sally, may be written as "Mom, when will my 'so-called dinner' be ready?" asked Sally. Clearly, it's not an innocent question; Sally is yelling at her mother and she doesn't believe that what Mom really made should be categorized as dinner.

So how about those italics? According to Chicago, "good writers use italics for emphasis only as an occasional adjunct to efficient sentence structure." So, if you want to be a good writer, you better do what Chicago says. Using italics too often will cause them to lose their force. Rather, if the surrounding information in a sentence or paragraph, or the placement of a word or phrase in a sentence, gives the reader a clue about the overall tone, no additional mark of emphasis is necessary.

Quotation marks are all too often used for a similar purpose, hoping to spell out for the reader the irony or the emphasis of what they're saying. However, aren't we always told to show rather than tell? Mom's "so-called dinner" doesn't need quotation marks because there's already enough irony and doubt in the word choice. And once again, if the rest of the text hints that Sally is a bit hesitant about her mother's cooking, dinner doesn't need to be quoted either. Only use these if the emphasis would be completely lost without them.

Now, back to our example. None of these so-called emphatic distinctions would be necessary if the rest of the paragraph went something like this:
Sally came home from school absolutely famished. The minute she jumped off the school bus, she ran down her front path and clamored through the front door, heading straight for the kitchen. "Mom, when will my so-called dinner be ready?" Out of nowhere, the stench (a mixture of peas and gravy no doubt), of her mother's concoction hit her nose and pushed her stomach into a somersault.

As with the use of any device for suggesting emphasis, overuse will eventually strip the device of its power. Readers will become annoyed if they're bullied into reading too many sentences full of italics and quotation marks. Then when you really mean it (like I really meant it there), it will be like crying wolf. A word to the wise. Don't overuse devices for emphasis. And Sally, stop complaining about your dinner. Or pretty soon your mother will ask you when you're going to make your own dinner. (Read with emphasis, right?)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Nov. 2nd, 10 am: Speed-dating pitch session with literary agents at Boston's Hotel 140. Sponsored by Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance.

Nov. 2nd, 7 pm: rick j, Mindy Dillard, and Mikey Golightly join musical and authorial forces at Portland's Three Friends Coffee House.

Nov. 4th, 7 pm: John Irving (Last Night in Twisted River) at Portland's Bagdad Theatre. Tickets: $28.

Halloween To-Do List

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Zinesters Talking at MCL

When you think of the library, a few things may come to mind: librarians in cardigans and glasses that shush you if you're too loud, fines you don't want to pay, long lines for the computer....but what about zines?

That's right, zines! Did you know that Multnomah County Library is actually one of the greatest resources in Portland for zines and zine events? Zines, short for magazines, are self-published little gems of creativity that can range in topics from building a backyard chicken coop to autobiographical comics. Not only does MCL have a great zine collection available for checkout, but they also host a speaker series called Zinesters Talking where zinesters from both near and far talk about their work and zine culture. The series is currently in its fifth year, and there is only one session left, so be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, November 3, 6:30–7:45 p.m. Central Library, U.S. Bank Room

Historic Zinesters Talking:

Discuss the recent history of chapbooks, poetry and zines in Portland with Kevin Sampsell (co-author of Haiku Inferno; publisher, Future Tense Books; and small press champion, Powell's City of Books) and Leanne Grabel, poet (Lonesome and Very Quarrelsome Heroes, Short Poems by a Short Person), performer and teacher. Both events in the Historic Zinesters Talking series will be recorded and cataloged in the library's podcast collection.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Skyscraper

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "Skyscraper in Puddle" by Tim Schnurpfeil

Monday, October 26, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Know Nouns Now (Halloween Edition)

Ah, the noun. One of the most essential parts of the English language. So important, in fact, that the Orange Word Wonder dedicates nearly seven pages to an exploration of its definition and use. Because, of course, Chicago reminds us that it is the noun that allows us to name things. It is because of nouns that we can differentiate between the guy dressed up as a superhero and the one in the corner dressed as Scooby Doo.

More importantly, how else could I develop so many pet names for my peachy punctuation guide? It's true. Without nouns, we'd be lost. So let's use 'em properly and learn those properties, eh?

The Tangerine Taskmaster tells us "nouns have four properties: case, gender, number, and person."

Case includes nominative, objective, and possessive: the ghost is over there (nominative), see the black cat (objective), the witch's brew is ready (possessive). The noun only changes when using the possessive.

Gender "classifies nouns into masculine, feminine, and neuter." In English, the entire noun often changes to denote "male or female humans or animals."

Jenny and Freddy went as a witch and a warlock, but Elizabeth and Don won the costume contest with their duo the mare and the stallion.

However, compound nouns also "contain specifically masculine or feminine nouns or pronouns."

"The headless horseman is after my girlfriend!" he exclaimed.

Other common usages are nouns used "in personification" or with "feminine suffix such as ess or ix." (Buyer beware: Chicago notes that these suffixes are quickly becoming "archaic.")

Finally, number indicates whether the noun is singular or plural (It takes less time to carve a pumpkin, but a lot of pumpkins are much more festive!).

Person "shows whether an object is speaking (we the ghosts will haunt forever), spoken to (ghosts, begone!), or spoken about (the ghosts were hauled out of the haunted house and revealed as fakes).


Just kidding, the ghost weren't real. Pay attention!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Oct. 25th, 6:30 pm: Joan Mairs invites you to read and browse works by NW authors Jerry Isom, David Oates, Penelope Scambly Schott and Joseph A. Soldati at Portland's Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe. Free, donate to support girls' orphanage in rural Haiti.

Oct. 30th, 6 pm: Roving Writers Read at Flying Cat Coffee Co., 3041 SE Division. Prose and poetry on spookier subjects--such as skeletons in family closets and humans behaving monstrously. Thea Constantine, Gloria Geiser, Eleanor Malin, Diana Rogero, Luna Nova, Cecilie Scott, and Alida Thacher. Open mic to follow.

Oct. 31st, 6 pm: Celebrate Halloween with wine, soda, and readings by Thomas Fucaloro, Christian Georgescu, Robert Harris, Suzanne Heagy, and Sarah Sarai! $8.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Kite

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "Kite boy 1" by Colin Brough

Monday, October 19, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Possess the Rules of the Possessive

"Mine!" A common phrase belted out by two-year-olds, jealous significant others, and chocolate lovers everywhere. We humans seem to love knowing that something belongs only to us. Sure, we all claim to know how to share. But what happens when we're all grabbing for the last slice of pizza? Then phrases like "you snooze you lose!" and "finders, keepers!" sometimes override our better, kinder judgment.

Because we all like to differentiate between mine, his, hers, theirs, and ours, the possessive becomes essential to our daily lives. Whether it be blogging, conversing, or writing the newest and greatest American novel. Chicago reminds us that "the possessive of most singular nouns is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s, and the possessive of plural nouns (except for a few irregular plurals that do not end in s) by adding an apostrophe only." However, there are a few particulars that you might get caught up in when trying to wrangle your possessions together in a sentence.

Does the person's last name end in an s? Then you should be sure it is Jones's brand new, state of the art pumpkin carver. What? Is that weird? You should see it; that guy can carve an Obama pumpkin in four minutes, flat. Efficient and patriotic.

If you have two nouns that are closely linked, remember our Peach Punctuation guide notes they are "considered a single unit in forming the possessive when the entity "possessed" is the same for both; only the second element takes the possessive form. When the entities are different, both nouns take the possessive form."

My sister's and brother's significant others came over for dinner last night and loved our new pumpkin.

Many college grads live in their father and mother's house to save money.

My cats' and dogs' toys.

However, if you are working with compound nouns and noun phrases, "the final element usually takes the possessive form."

Now, go forth and possess things! Although, remember, it does feel good to share!

For more information about specific possessive rules, seee 7.26 - 7.30 in your Chicago.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Oct. 17th, 6 pm: Come to the Writer's Dojo and celebrate the launch of Ink-Filled Page Red Anthology. Music, art, readings, and food galore!

Oct. 22nd, 7 pm: Visit Cornerstone Books in Boston for Thursdays Theatre of Words and Music! Featuring author Julia Glass and music by Julie Dougherty!

Oct. 24th, 2 pm: Marina Marchese will be at Pastaworks in Portland reading from her book Honeybee. Preorder signed book and stay for honey tasting!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Talk and Memoir Workshop

Sunday, October 25th 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
2772 NW Thurman St.
Portland, OR 97210

"At age 61, I was earning a Masters in Teaching degree. As part of my student teaching I taught a section on memoir writing to 8th graders. I thought 'Hey this is fun,' and so I began Some Days Chicken, Some Days Feathers. Part of my mission is to get readers started on their own story. I will conduct a fun-filled, hands-on memoir workshop that will get you scribbling! Join us at The Clearing Cafe for a no-host nosh or glass of Chablis. I promise you some laughs along with giving you the tools to put your history into a format that will impress your family and friends."
-Bob Ferguson, Author of: Some Days Chicken, Some Days Feathers


2007 Wordsmith winner of The Columbian Newspaper
2008 Hillsboro Argus article about two retired teachers taking students to Korea
2007 Argus article reference to a football great.
2006 Roseburg News review article about 40 years of successful coaching from a wheelchair.

Photo Story Prompt: Airport

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "Airport" by tania64

Monday, October 12, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: One, 101

Many of us who love literature may find ourselves avoiding numbers. Some of us read because we'd rather not calculate. Of course, this definitely isn't true for all bibliophiles! Still, my father often laments that, when Mom was reading to my sister and I, he should've been right there with a calculator showing us that numbers are fun!

However, no matter how hard we try to avoid numbers, they still come up in our writing. They crop up and remind us that because two trains traveling 301 miles will inevitably cross paths at "Point A" or "Point B," you should know when to spell and when to use numerals.

Chicago does.

Generally, Old Orange and Faithful recommends spelling out "whole numbers from one through one hundred, round numbers [hundreds, thousands, hundred thousands, and millions], and any numbers beginning a sentence. For other numbers, numerals are used."

Of course, in scientific or technical material, numerals are typically used across the board. (You know, because they don't have bad childhood memories in which they feel tricked by the promise of "word problems.")

As an alternative rule, Chicago notes "many publications, including those in scientific and financial contexts, follow the simple rule of spelling out only single-digit numbers and using numerals for all others." Buyer beware: this could lead to "awkward locutions," so proceed with caution and "flexibility." Now, if you ask me, ten dollar words are also awkward. Alas, I am not the author of the Tangerine Tablet, and I do appreciate the clarity with which it explains most grammar gripes. Moving on.

Take home: remember to maintain consistency and flexibility when using numbers multiple times in a paragraph or paper. Consistency is the key to success. "If according to rule you must use numerals for one of the numbers in a given category, use them for all in that category. In the same sentence or paragraph, however, items in one category may be given as numerals and items in another spelled out."

For more information, exceptions, and rules, see 9.8 - 9.13 in your own Salmon Syntax Guide.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Oct. 13th, 5 PM: Visit Klindst Booksellers, Oregon's oldest bookstore in continuous operation, for a reading and signing by Shaindel Beers.

Oct. 14th, 4 PM: Portland's own The Monkey and The Rat hosts Anne-Louise Sterry's launch of Aunt Lena's Cucina. Food, wine, music, AND mystery guest!

Oct. 16th, 7 PM: Author Stephanie Griest at the Fine Arts Studio Theater in Nebraska. Reception and book signing to follow! Click here for more info.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Riding a Bike

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "Riding a bike" by Mateusz Stachowski

Monday, October 05, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Trading Long Division for Word Division

We've all probably encountered and conquered (hopefully) the white space caused by writer's block. That stark, blank page that makes writers cry, cringe, run, or take a swig of their favorite alcoholic beverage. We all know the hardships of that white space. But what about the other types? Say you're writing a great line, something truly inspired of course, and you
suddenly are forced to drop onto the next line because of space. (Like that visual example, folks? Thought you would.) Now, there's that horrible jolting white space. You know it can be remedied with a simple hyphen, but how? Often something that seems simple may become complicated by a word like knowledge or criticism. Words as "tricksy" as they come.

What was that? Pull out Chicago? Okay, we're getting there already!

I'll have you know that sometimes even Chicago does not have all the answers. Shocking right? Deep breaths. "For end-of-line breaks, as for spelling and plural forms, Webster should be the primary guide. The dots between syllables in Webster indicate where breaks may be made; in words of three syllables or more, there is usually a choice of breaks."

However, there are some hard and fast rules that you can stick to. For instance, single-syllable words should never be divided. Also, "one-letter divisions are not permissible." So, if you were planning on writing like that a-gain, don't.

Chicago does let us know it has an opinion, even if they aren't the foremost guide. The manual recommends "dividing according to punctuation." In doing so, our tricksy term knowledge becomes knowl-edge as opposed to know-ledge.

The Big Orange also suggests dividing after a vowel as long as it does not affect the pronunciation. Thus, criticism should be "criti-cism" not "crit-icism."

For compound words, prefixes, and suffixes, you are actually encouraged to just do what feels right and divide at the "natural breaks." Any displeasure with this freedom becomes "dis-pleasure" not "displea-sure."

Now if you come across a gerund (didn't you know that was what a form derived from a verb that functions as a noun is called? hmmm...), you may divide "before the ing." "Dab-ing, run-ing, fiz-ling." You get the picture.

That is that. For continued fun with hyphens, see 7.30 - 7.45 in your Chicago manual and say bye-bye to ugly white space!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Oct. 6, 7 PM: Songs of Ascension with Norman Fischer & Meredith Monk at Poets House, NY. Cost: $10 or Students/Seniors $7

Oct. 9, 6 PM: Come to Blackbird Wine Shop to taste wine and hear Oregon poets Peter Sears, Shaindel Beers, John Morrison and Pamela Steele.

Oct. 10-11: Wordstock 2009 is finally here! Come enjoy Portland's "annual festival of books, writers, and storytelling" at the Oregon Convention Center!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Sit and read

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "sit and read 2" by Sanja Gjenero

Monday, September 28, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Getting Descriptive with Commas

We all love description; this makes adjectives key tools in our stories. Thanks to adjectives, your hero or heroine can be short, funny, tall, old, and quirky. Not even Dan Brown (you may have heard of him?) shies away from adjectives in his prequel Angels and Demons: "Although not overly handsome in a classical sense, the forty-year-old Langdon had what his female colleagues referred to as an 'erudite' appeal - wisp of gray in his thick brown hair, probing eyes, an arrestingly deep voice, and the strong, carefree smile of a collegiate athlete."

How else could we understand that Langden often displays a carefree smile not unlike that of Jeremiah Masoli after leading the University of Oregon Ducks in a crushing defeat of Cal? I digress.

You may be curious why Mr. 5 Million uses commas after certain adjectives and not others, even when there are two or more before the noun. Never fear, the Big Orange is always ready to enlighten.

Direct your own "probing eyes" this way and read aloud in your "arrestingly deep voice," if so inclined. Chicago states, "When a noun is preceded by two or more adjectives that could, without affecting the meaning, be joined by and, the adjectives are normally separated by commas. But if the noun and the adjective immediately preceding it are conceived as a unit, such as 'little girl,' 'political science,' or 'glass ceiling,' no comma should be used."

What do you think?
More adjectives necessary? Can you rise to the comma challenge?

Dan Brown example taken from this article; let's just leave my humble opinion out of the debate for now.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Sept. 30: At 7 PM Ruth Reichl introduces new cookbook Gourmet Today at the Nines in Portland, Or. Cash bar! Admission/copy: $40.

Sept. 30: David Byrne, author of Bicycle Diaries, and panel to discuss Portland's bike culture at 7 PM in Bagdad Theater. Admission/copy: $26.

Oct. 1: The Vancouver International Writers Festival presents Margaret Atwood, singers, and actors performing The Year of the Flood.

October's Literary Symposium and Luncheon!

October's Literary Symposium and Luncheon!

This October, the PCA will bring together a group of esteemed Pacific Northwest authors and chefs for the literary symposium and luncheon, Eat My Words:Literary Food Writing That's Good Enough to Eat.

The event will showcase talented voices in the genres of food fiction and food memoir at the luxurious Gracie's Restaurant in the Hotel deLuxe. The morning eventwill feature eminent food writers reading from their works and sharing the ingredients for writing and publishing mouth-watering prose. Speakers include Molly Wizenberg, the international food blogging sensation whose "Orangette" blog landed her a book contract, and Diana Abu-Jaber, the renowned novelist and memoirist who draws inspiration (and delicious recipes) from her Arab-American upbringing.

The full roster of featured authors is:

  • Molly Wizenberg, author of A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table
  • Matthew Amster-Burton, author of Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater
  • Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Crescent and The Language of Baklava
  • Shauna James Ahren, author of Gluten Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back...And How You Can Too
  • Jennie Shortridge, author of Eating Heaven and Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe
  • Erica Bauermeister, author of The School of Essential Ingredients

Following the program, a group of rising star chefs from Portland restaurants will serve a luncheon in the elegant lobby with dishes inspired by the work of each featured author. Guest chefs for the post-symposium luncheon include:

  • Chef Mark Hosak, of Gracie’s Restaurant
  • Chef Benjamin Bettinger, of Beaker and Flask
  • Chef Gregory Denton, of MetroVino Restaurant
  • Chef Jeremy Frice, of Departure Restaurant
  • Chef Lee Posey of Nel Centro

After lunch, there will be time for book sales and signings. The ticket price also includes morning coffee and pastries provided by chefs Adam and Jackie Sappington of Country Cat Dinner House & Bar.

The Details

When: Saturday October 3, 2009, 8:30am-2pm

Where: Gracie's at the Hotel deLuxe. Directions to the hotel are available Parking is available in the hotel’s self-park lot for free with validation or by valet for $8.

Cost: $50 for PCA members; $65 for guests. You can pay by using PayPal on our Events Page at or by mailing a check to Ashley Gartland at 6219 NE Carillion Dr., Unit 202, Hillsboro, OR 97124. Payment will reserve your spot.

Limit: 80 adults

Deadline: The deadline to RSVP is Friday September 25.

Questions? Contact Ashley Gartland at

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: A sunny day nap

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "A sunny day nap" by Kymberly Vohsen

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ramona Walks at Hollywood Library

I moved to Portland right out of college, and I like to think that many things drew me here: coffee, bicycles, politics, and, of course, Beverly Cleary. When I learned my favorite childhood author based many of the Ramona books on Portland neighborhoods, I was even more in love with this city.

Seven plus years later and I am still in love, and now there's an event to prove that I am not alone: Ramona Walks at the Hollywood Library. Led by Portland Hill Walks author Laura Foster, the walks begin at Hollywood Library and explore the Northeast neighborhoods that inspired Cleary to write her best-selling and well-loved children's books. On the tour, "see the supermarket where mud claimed Ramona's boot, the park where Henry hunts for night crawlers, and the Portland school that inspired Glenwood School. Plus lots more, including a stroll along the streets where Ms. Cleary, Ramona and her friends lived."

While the first Ramona Walk has already taken place, there are still three more scheduled walks on the calendar, so don't miss out! While I have not yet participated in the walk, I heard from an insider source that the first walk was an incredible event, and in spite of an hour of showers, about forty people and a basset hound turned out in high spirits. And not only did Foster talk about Beverly Cleary, but she also incorporated some other little-known Portland history into the event, the kind of information that has made her books so popular. I also recommend picking up Beverly Cleary's memoir, A Girl from Yamhill, to give yourself the full experience!

For more information, visit

Foster is the author of Portland Hill Walks, Portland City Walks and the editor of Metro's Walk There!

Editorial Tip of the Week: Exclamatory Disorder

I recently realized that I have a rare disease known as exclamatory disorder. I blame social networking. No, really. Although I may be an acceptably enthusiastic individual in real life, put me on Facebook or Twitter, and I go crazy. After a particularly excited message, a friend replied, "very exciting stuff happening. Also, you used a lot of exclamation points." I hung my head in shame. I had ended each sentence with an exclamation. I don't know what it is about online writing that turns me into a veritable cheerleader, but at that moment I knew I needed help.

Acceptance is the first step to recovery right?

Still, I was wandering the networking woods strung out on exclamation. Where could I turn for help? Could I start my own EA (exclaimers anonymous) group? Would that be enough to keep me from relapsing? (Am I mixing my metaphors? Let's say the disorder can also be an addiction, shall we? Okay, proceeding.) Then, I realized. All I needed to do was turn to my trusty orange guide; it would show me the way.

The Chicago Manual of Style states, "an exclamation point (which should be used sparingly to be effective) marks an outcry or an emphatic or ironic comment.

Look out!

Oh, don't worry, just an example.

An exclamation can be used in place of a question mark if the question "is essentially an exclamation."

When will I ever learn not to use exclamation points!

There are also uses for exclamation points with quotation marks, parenthesis, and brackets. The exclamation point should be placed inside "only when it is part of the quoted or parenthetical matter."

While reading tweets, the woman cried, "That girl is much too excited about her weekend plans!"

Her boyfriend actually responded, "It's no concern of mine"!

Jane Doe (I could have died!) re-tweeted the whole story.

Her anguished reply, "I can't help myself!" took them all by surprise.

So there you have it. The proper way to exclaim. Remember, used sparingly, the exclamation can be the perfect end to a sentence. Just don't get carried away!

All examples inspired by Chicago and tweaked to fit the subject matter. ;)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: September 19th
Take the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and hear selections from Gabeba Baderoon of South Africa's A Hundred Silences as well as Jabbeh Wesley of Liberia's The River is Rising. Event part of the 2009 Fall for the Book Festival and is also sponsored by Friends of the Sherwood Regional Library.
When: 2 PM
Where: 950 Independence Ave., SW, Washington D.C.
Cost: NA
For more information, visit the Festival's website.

Date: September 20th
Seattle's National Poetry Slam Team needs your help to raise money to travel to the Bay area for the National Qualifying Competition. Terry Hardy is also raising money to go to the Individual World Poetry Slam. Event will feature the Poetry Slam Team as well as the National Slam Champion Danny Sherrard.

When: 7 PM

Where: Richard Hugo House, 1634 Eleventh Ave., Seattle

Cost: $5

Date: September 25th - 26th
Come and celebrate the Poets House Grand Opening! If you are an early riser, come the 25th between 11 AM and 12 PM for bagels and coffee and stay all day. You'll be the first to check out the new digs. If you'd prefer to wait a little, the Innovation of the Muse will be an all day event featuring an open house, poetry readings, and a "blowout celebration on the front lawn."
When: 11 AM - 5 PM
Where: 10 River Ter, New York, NY
Cost: Free
For more information, visit the website.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Benefit for Write Around Portland

Write Around Portland is at it again! We’re holding our annual word art and word games extravaganza on October 3rd.

From one word lover to another, I’d like to encourage you to attend. You’ll get to experience the power of writing in community and your support will ensure that the most isolated and financially insecure among us will have that same opportunity.

XY&Z is Write Around Portland’s annual celebration of words; this year it also commemorates our tenth year of writing in community. The evening is a word feast like no other, featuring classic word games, collaborative novellas created on old typewriters and a silent auction of journals and broadsides designed by local luminaries. And you won’t want to miss the signature cocktail at the hosted bar or the fabulous delights by Vibrant Table!

XY&Z will be held at Design Within Reach (1200 NW Everett) on Saturday, October 3, 7:30 – 10:00 PM. Tickets start at $50 and can be purchased on our website ( or by calling our office at 503.796.9224. As an extra bonus, every XY&Z ticket comes with a free event day pass for Wordstock’s bookfair.

Photo Story Prompt: How can I recycle old shoes?

Write whatever comes to you--short or long, fiction or truth.

We'd love to see what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or e-mail it to

Feel free to comment on each other's stories and just generally enjoy the process of playing with the written word and the world it creates.

Happy writing!

Photo: "How can I recycle old shoes?" by recyclthis