Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New Release Spotlight: Jane Austen Ruined My Life

Jane Austen Ruined My Life
by Beth Pattillo

With so many other books and movies lauding Jane Austen, it was smart for author Beth Pattillo to use a more antagonistic title for her ode to the English novelist. In Jane Austen Ruined My Life, Emma Grant feels secure in her marriage and career, hoping to soon start a family of her own. But after walking in on her husband cheating on her, the idealized world she thought she’s created crumbles beneath her. Even her career is jeopardized by the scandalous nature of her husband’s affair. Seeking refuge from the humiliation, Emma goes to England in search of answers. At the forefront, she wants to meet Mrs. Parrot, an old woman claiming to hold the secret lost letters of Jane Austen.

In the background, of course, is Emma’s journey into herself. While trying to find the wrong in Jane Austen’s view of love, Emma discovers what is right about her own love and life.

The strongest and most engaging parts of the book are the passages on Jane Austen’s life, real and imagined. Pattillo’s own adoration for Austen and her novels is apparent; she takes time with the scenes in which Emma is searching for answers to the elusive Austen. Emma wanders through The National Portrait Gallery, contemplating a portrait of Austen: “She looked a little annoyed but not unpleasant, as if someone had interrupted her work, but since she loved that someone, she would tolerate the interruption.” Emma is so taken with the portrait and Austen’s life she is moved to start writing again, right there in the gallery.

When the story goes back to Emma’s own life complications, Pattillo’s writing is less thoughtful. As Emma visits Covent Garden, she finds the vendors and their secondhand goods “charming,” and then is “charmed” by the tourist attractions. The love triangle Emma finds herself in is riddled with clichés, such as the handsome stranger who seduces Emma and dialogue that includes lines like “I just want you to be happy” and “Time will tell.”

Pattillo redeems herself when the story returns to Emma’s search for the truth about Austen. In a lovely, romantic scene, Pattillo keeps it from becoming too melodramatic by winking at the Austen allusion, as she does throughout the book. The small touches of this, such as when Emma mocks her friend by commenting he is as Austen would have observed, “sadly lacking as a correspondent,” are indeed charming.

Review by Kori Hirano, Indigo Editing & Publications

ISBN: 9780824947712
Publisher: GuidepostsBooks
Pub Date: February 2009
Trade Paperback: $14.99

Photo Story Prompt: Grunge Car

For your inspiration, here's the writing prompt of the week:

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

If you feel so inclined, send your writing in to to be posted on our blog with other stories based on the same photo. If you'd like your name, Web site, and contact info to be posted with your story, be sure to include that too. 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: "Grunge Car," by cflorinc.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Editing Tip of the Week: Structuring Sentences

Structuring your thoughts into concise sentences is a good idea. Using the same sentence structures to do so is not. Sometimes it’s easy to get into a pattern when the main goal is just to get the words onto paper. But once the writing is finished, pay attention to sentence structures. In Sharon Schuman’s Ten Tips for Effective Writing, she points out that repetitive writing will alienate readers as quickly as incoherent writing. Repeating vocabulary can also undermine the quality of your work.

If you constantly start sentences with She, alternate using the character’s name or begin with the action of the sentence instead of the name or pronoun. When writing a research paper that refers to the data gathered, watch out for sentences that begin with The research shows or any variation thereof. A neat trick is to use the Find feature in the Word document to locate oft-repeated words or phrases. Not only will it keep your writing from sounding dry and brittle, it will allow the concise ideas to take center stage.

For more tips, visit or

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Monday, January 26
Do you want to put your ideas and creativity into a zine but just don't know where to begin? Sign up for Zines 101 at the Independent Publishing Resource Center, and learn the basics from instructor, zinester Marc Parker. Participants will even make a zine in the class utilizing their new zine knowledge.
Where: IPRC, 917 SW Oak, Portland, OR 97205
When: 7pm-9pm
Cost: $10-20
For more information and to register, visit or call 503-827-0249

Date: Tuesday, January 27
In the midst of our economic woes, a revised and updated edition of the book Your Money or Your Life has hit the bookshelves. The essence of the book, living with less, is now enhanced with advice on saving money while saving the planet and reconciling the struggle between values and lifestyle, among other topics. Attend the reading at Powell's at Cedar Hills whether you are facing difficult times or are simply looking for a new way to look at money. Coauthor Mark Zaifman will be at the reading.
Where: Powell's at Cedar Hills, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, OR 97005
When: 7pm
For more info, visit or call 503-228-4651

Date: Wednesday, January 28
Stephanie Kallos reads from her new book Sing Them Home at Annie Bloom's Books. Her debut novel, Broken For You, was a national bestseller, and the reviews for the new book are sure to send the author to the top of the list again. Sing Them Home tells the story of three adult siblings struggling to come to terms with their mother's mysterious disappearance, which occurred when they were young. Annie Bloom's Books calls Sing Them Home a story of "heartbreaking lyricism, wisdom, and humor".
Where: Annie Bloom's Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR 97219
When: 7:30pm
For more info, visit or call 503-246-0053

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ink-Filled Page Winter 2009 Issue Released

We are proud to announce the release of the Winter 2009 issue of Ink-Filled Page.

This issue features work by Marian Burke, Caren Coté, Claire Rudy Foster, Jess Barnett, Tina Christian, Andrew Dean, Diane Leon, and Jacinda Williams. From strains on mother-daughter bonds to sleep-deprived hallucinations, this written and visual 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.

Download it for just $3 at

Photo Story Prompt: Spring

Oh, no! Wednesday flew by, and I forgot to post the photo writing prompt this week. Great blogger I am, huh? Anyway, sorry for the delay, and without further adieu, here is this week's photo:

(Can you telling I'm hankering for springtime?)

Write whatever comes to you, and if you feel so inclined, send it in to to be posted on our blog with other stories based on the same photo. If you'd like your name, Web site, and contact info to be posted with your story, be sure to include that too. 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!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Four and Twenty Issue Released

The January/February 2009 issue of Four and Twenty is available for download at

This issue features poetry by Carol Berger, Eric Blind, Melanie Gurley, Richard Hargis, Isai Jaimes, Bo Björn Johnson, Johnette Kievit, Linda May Langwith, Moira McAuliffe, Nancy Montague, Carolyn Moore, Mary Ann Moore, Ty Patterson, Heather Reddy, John Schellhase, Barbara Wild, and Stefani Noelle Woosley.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Editing Tip of the Week: The End of the Sentence, Period

Punctuation is not always easy to figure out. There is confusion regarding the colon and semicolon, as discussed in a previous Tip of the Week. But now the basic period is causing an uproar among sentences. Chicago Manual of Style Online addressed several inquiries about the proper use of a period. One was whether or not to add another period in a sentence ending in an abbreviation, such as I toured the facilities at Glassworks, Inc.

No, you shouldn’t follow a period with another period.

Another question Chicago answered was whether a sentence in parenthesis within a sentence should include a period. No, because the period follows the main sentence. However, a sentence within parenthesis that stands on its own does require a period within the parenthesis. (I should have known that.).

Sometimes the question is when to insert a period. On the Daily Writing Tips Web site, the advice is to keep it simple, period. Each sentence illustrates a complete thought. A period helps to indicate that thought. While there is nothing wrong with using conjunctions to link several thoughts, Daily Writing Tips suggests that this simple idea will make your writing clearer and more readable. Instead of the reader slowly working out the kinks in a long sentence and piecing the thoughts together, the periods help to keep the reading smooth and natural. After all, you want your writing to spark questions on the ideas and thoughts, not your punctuation choices.

For more tips, visit and

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Monday, January 19
Attend Powell's "Indiespensible" Happy Hour series at Someday Lounge for drinks and to toast author Paul Harding. The Harvard creative writing professor's debut novel, Tinkers, came out a couple of weeks ago from a small publisher, but is already receiving great reviews. Join the gathering and hold up a glass to Harding.
Where: Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th, Portland, OR, 97209
When: 6:30pm
Cost: Free
For more info, visit or

Date: Wednesday, January 21
The Third Tuesday Reading Series brought to you by Oregon Literary Review takes place at the Krakow Coffeehouse. The evening's featured readers are Evelyn Sharenov, John McAteer, and Kate Mann.
Where: Krakow Coffeehouse, 3990 N Interstate, Portland, OR 97227
When: 7:00pm
For more info, visit

Date: Friday, January 23
Lend support in more ways than one to Bitch Magazine by attending the Fundraiser for Bitch Magazine: The Dirty Burly Bitch Show. In Other Words Bookstore, which has also been suffering in the tough economic times, lends support by hosting the event. There will be a burlesque show, plus an open mic.
Where: In Other Words Bookstore, 8 NE Killingsworth, Portland, OR 97211
When: 6:30pm
Cost: $5-10 sliding scale, 18+
For more info, visit

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Hands

I'm trying something new here. Some claim a picture says a thousand words, but I'd like to think a picture inspires a thousand words.

So every Wednesday, we'll post a picture we think could send you on a journey through writing a new story. Write whatever comes to you, and if you feel so inclined, send it in to be posted on our blog with other stories based on the same photo. 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.

Here's the first week's photo:

Whatever you come up with--whether it's a thousand words or not--send it to us at If you'd like your name and contact info to be posted with your story, be sure to include that too.

Happy writing!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Editing Tip of the Week: Negative into Positive

It is best to phrase a negative statement in a positive form. This bit of advice works well whether you're arguing with a friend or writing a story. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style advises making definite assertions, and illustrates how weak and dissatisfying the word not is to a reader.

Writing a sentence like He was not always on time wastes words as well as illustrates what Elements of Style deems an inherent weakness in the word not. Why bother your readers with a clunky, passive sentence when He was usually late gets right to the point? Using the word ignore has a bigger impact than using a boring phrase like Do not pay any attention to.

When describing something or someone, readers want a visual image; when you eliminate instead of add, the canvas remains blank in the reader's mind. Stating that someone is distrustful is more concise than saying I do not have much confidence in her. As the Elements of Style shows, readers would rather know what is than what is not.

For more tips, visit and

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Tuesday, January 13
For many people, the start of a new year means writing a list of new goals or dreams to accomplish. Is there always something holding you back from realizing these dreams? Raphael Cushnir reads from his new book, The Thing Holding You Back, at Powell's Cedar Hills. Cushnir believes that people must break through and connect with the emotions related to their specific dreams in order to accomplish them. Attend the reading to hear the discussion of Cushnir's guiding principles; you may see your dreams in a new light.
Where: Powell's at Cedar Hills, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.; Beaverton, OR 97005
When: 7:00pm
For more info, visit or call 503-228-4651

Date: Tuesday, January 13
Join friends and fans of the late Oregon poet laureate William Stafford for a commemorative reading at Annie Bloom's Books. Featured readers include Annie Lighthart, Melissa Madenski, and the host Jessica Lamb. Audience members are encouraged to bring copies of their favorite Stafford poems and, after the reading, may read their selected poems.
Where: Annie Bloom's Books, 7834 SW Capitol Highway, Portland, OR 97219
When: 7:30pm
Cost: Free
For more info, visit, or call 503-246-0053

Date: Wednesday, January 14
Explore the mind of an 18th century radical thinker, Joseph Priestley, who played important roles in varied activities such as founding the Unitarian Church and inventing club soda. Author Steven Johnson reads from his biography of Priestley, The Invention of Air at Powell's City of Books.
Where: Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, Portland, OR 97209
When: 7:30pm
For more info, visit or call 503-228-4651

Friday, January 09, 2009

Ink Splash Youth Writing Workshop

Join the editors of Indigo Editing & Publications, publisher of the Ink-Filled Page literary journal, and special guest Jan Underwood, author of Day Shift Werewolf, for an inspiring day of literary creation.

The day will include group writing activities in English and Spanish* as well as personal creation time. We’ll also workshop one of your stories, highlighting your writing talent and offering suggestions for further exploration. Light refreshments will be provided.

This workshop is geared toward young adults in grades 6–12.
When: Saturday, February 7, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: Writers’ Dojo, 7518 N. Chicago Ave., Portland
Cost: Free/$15 suggested donation. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Community of Writers.
Bring: Five copies of a story to workshop

Space is limited, so register early! Register at

*Participants do not need to be fluent in both languages to attend.

Call for Youth Submissions

Ink-Filled Page
Call for Submissions
Spring 2009—Youth Issue

The 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 youth issue features the artistic talents—both literary and visual—of young adults in grades 6–12. So polish your stories from English class, dust off your paintings from art class, and submit them for a chance to be published!

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; submit at

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. Electronic submissions only; submit at By submitting your artwork to Ink-Filled Page, you confirm that you are the sole creator of those pieces and that you hold all rights to your piece.

Selected authors and artists earn publication and will receive a complimentary subscription to all four quarterly issues in the volume in which they are published, as well as a complimentary copy of the annual anthology when it is released in October 2009. Contributors may buy additional copies of the anthology for 10% off. Authors will also receive professional editing services on the selected story. All work must be original and unpublished. By submitting your work to the Ink-Filled Page, you are offering first online and print publication rights.

The youth issue accepts submissions from young adults in grades 6–12. Submit electronically at no later than Saturday, February 28.

For best results, read our publication before you submit. Electronic issues and print anthologies are available for purchase at

Monday, January 05, 2009

Editing Tip of the Week: The Colon and the Semicolon

When a period or a comma just won't do, the semicolon or the colon can usually get the job done. The semicolon can function as either one, but The Chicago Manual of Style states that its use is closer to that of the period. The main use of a semicolon is to join two independent clauses not linked by a conjunction, as in The evening plans unexpectedly changed; we went bowling instead of out to dinner.

The semicolon is also used to separate items in a series that involve internal punctuation. The Daily Writing Tips Web site offers a good example of this use with the sentence We learned the basics of grammar, punctuation, and spelling; the ins and outs of brainstorming and getting started; and how to take notes in an interview.

The colon functions like a semicolon, but it places a stronger emphasis on what has preceded the colon, as in a sentence like She was sure of one thing: he was guilty.

One thing to keep in mind is that while the semicolon and colon can assume the roles of a comma or period, the two are not substitutes for each other. For example, a semicolon precedes adverbs such as hence, indeed and therefore. A colon wouldn’t work in this way.

For more examples and uses of semicolons and colons, visit and

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Monday, January 5
Craig Arnold reads from his second book of poetry Made Flesh at Powell’s on Hawthorne. With the Portland Mercury listing for this event already deeming it the “Best. Poetry reading. Ever”, you might have no choice but to attend and hear for yourself.
Where: Powell’s on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214
When: 7:30pm
For more info, visit

Date: Wednesday, January 7
The first of the Oregon Literary Review’s 2009 First Wednesday Reading Series takes place at the Blackbird Wine Shop. Enjoy wine tasting and readings from Mindie Kniss, Ellen Michaelson, Jason Sandefur, and Beth Russel. All of the contributors have earned or are working toward an MFA from Pacific University’s writing program. Toast the new year and new writing!
Where: Blackbird Wine Shop, 3519 NE 44th, Portland, OR 97213
When: 7:00pm
For more info, visit

Date: Friday, January 9
Arnold E. Doyle (1877-1928) was one of Portland’s most important architects. He designed some of the city’s biggest landmarks, including the Central Library, Benson Hotel, Reed College, and the Meier and Frank Building. He is celebrated in Philip Niles’s book Beauty of the City, the first biography on Doyle. Attend the reading at Powell's, listen and learn about part of Portland’s history, and then plan a weekend of wandering around the city to admire Doyle’s work.
Where: Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, Portland, OR 97209
When: 7:30pm
For more info, visit

Date: Sunday, January 11
Faythe Levine compiled her book Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design after traveling 19,000 miles, interviewing artists in their creative spaces to find out about their processes and sources of inspiration. In a city known for its creative communities, it’s only fitting that Powell’s spotlights Levine’s book. Joining her at the event are contributing writer Susan Beal, featured artist Jill Bliss, and the illustrator for the book, Kate Bingman-Burt. The Museum of Contemporary Craft sponsors the event.
Where: Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, Portland, OR 97209
When: 7:30pm
For more info, visit