Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hey Kids! "The Body Swap Writing Contest"

YA Author Linda Joy Singleton is hosting
"The Body Swap Writing Contest" for young writers aged 9-19.

Here's the scoop:

In Dead Girl Walking, Dead Girl Dancing and Dead Girl in Love, 17-year-old Amber swaps bodies with Ms. Popularity, Ms. College-Girl and her very own best friend.

Question: If you could temporarily trade bodies with anyone, who would you choose? Why? And what do you think the experience would be like?

Answer this question in 300 words or less, then submit your entry to: lindajoysingleton@yahoo.com, stating that this is your original writing and that you have permission from your parents/guardian to enter and share your work on this author's blogs. Include your age, full name, and contact information (email/address).

Contest ends on July 31st. 1st place and honorable mention winners will be announced in August on this blog.

FIRST PLACE: $100 plus AUTOGRAPHED BOOK! A panel of published authors will select the winning entries. Five honorable mentions will win either a free Dead Girl, The Seer, or Strange Encounters book of their choice, autographed by Linda Joy Singleton. The winning entries will be posted on LJS's blog(s).

Entrants must between ages 9 to 19. One entry per person.

Please share this announcement with librarians, teachers, parentsand any young writers you know. If you have questions, email lindajoysingleton@yahoo.com

Monday, June 29, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Ellipses

For casual communications, like email or short notes to friends, I am tempted to fill my writing with ellipses marks. Less committed than a period, more lingering than a comma, the little series of dots generously link one (often incomplete) idea to the next as I imagine a certain nuance filling the void. Beware: unless your book is an unearthed collection of ancient text preserved in disparate pieces of clay tablet, many of which may still be missing--the Epic of Gilgamesh, for instance--this willy-nilly application is not suitable for formal composition. The truth is, despite the whimsy I associate with them, ellipses have a fairly regimented function.

As end of sentence punctuation, ellipses do effectively convey a trailing-off in thought, particularly in dialogue. Primarily, though, ellipses represent an author's choice to eliminate words, phrases, lines, even whole paragraphs when quoting text in his or her writing. That said, a well-quoted passage will maintain the full meaning of the original text.

For those writers who are ellipses-happy, inserting four or even five dots in your ellipses, the Chicago Manual of Style thoroughly outlines three methods of employing this punctuation. Here's a preview:

(1) three-dot method: the most common in both general writing and scholarly work. Indicates an omission within or between sentences.
(2) three-or-four-dot method: for use in poetry and scholarly writing (not legal work or textual commentary). Three dots function as in #1. Four dots mark the omission of one or more sentences and the first dot is considered a true period. Other punctuation (than what was written in the original) may follow three dots but never four.
(3) the rigorous method: A variation of method #2 that "allows maximum fidelity to the original material", found in legal work, textual commentary, and frequent references. Refinements pertain to bracketing capitalized letters, placement of the first dot and placement of ellipses points.

In-house style sheets should indicate a preference for ellipses use, including spacing and number of points. The Copyeditor's Handbook reminds editors working onscreen to use the special ellipses character for proper formatting (as opposed to typing in a series of three or four periods).

For examples, and a lot more detail, see section 11.51-11.71 in the Chicago Manual of Style, online at www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html.

Backspace—A Writer’s Resource

Three years ago, I let go of the safety net of a real job and started writing and gigging full-time. As all you writers know, this is an amazing juggling act of writing, submitting, taking classes, participating in critique groups, reading, studying, and discovering how it will all come together in the end. The end of writing is not the end of course; it is only the beginning of the next leg of the journey, if publishing is the goal. Now that I’ve completed the novel that started out as a memoir and morphed five times into something better, I’m almost ready to show it to agents. I say ‘almost’ because I want to make sure not to spin my wheels and blow my chance to make a good impression with the right person. I don’t want to waste my time and other people’s time. I’m reminded of standing on the edge of the high dive at the town pool when I was twelve years old. It’s a long way down, but there’s no going back.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching someone from my critique group jump before me—a perfect swan dive, an Olympic quality dive. She polished up her first 50 pages and got on a plane to New York to attend the Backspace Writer’s Conference. She found the conference on the Backspace website and with nothing to go on but her absolute belief in her project, off she went. She returned with an agent and a book deal soon followed.

Now that I’ve polished Nine Mile Creek to my satisfaction, before I jump, I want to be sure I have it right. What does it mean to have it right? Google writers’ resources and you get thousands upon thousands of hits. I skipped all that and went straight to the Backspace website. Upon entering, I felt like I’d wandered into the writers’ secret candy store. All those familiar agent names I’ve seen in Poets & Writers every month, they were there, just waiting for me to show up it seemed. I began to wander the aisles of this website slash candy store, and discovered an extensive collection of valuable articles written by agents, editors and other writers for would-be authors like me. They were talking about everything I wanted to know including what makes a successful pitch, what are the best ways to get published and what to expect when you do, how did they land an agent, and what makes a good writer’s website.

On the Backspace site there are links to agents and editors, blogs and websites. There is a newsletter and an extensive list of links to other writers’ websites. I mined these for ideas for my own: www.camillecole.com

Backspace has a blog, posted on Publisher’s Marketplace, the Backspace Writer’s Place Blog.

If they offered nothing but the website, they would, in my estimation, fulfill their mission of writers helping writers. But there is more than just the online discussion forum and endless dossier of resources. Their annual face-to-face conference puts writers in an intimate setting where they can, if they have the guts, get blasted for what is wrong with their query letters. If they make it through that, they get a second day of encouragement and face-to-face pitching opportunities. When I say you have to have guts, I mean you really have to believe in yourself. In a June 22nd post by Jeanette Schneider on the Backspace blog about her experiences at the Conference this year, this fellow writer recounts:

I shook as I sat at a table…worried that the other writers were better than me, more talented, more literary, if there is such a thing. I looked around the room to see nervous smiles, anxious laughter, excited introductions and I realized I was amongst my peers.”

You have to have enough nerve to show up and be counted with others who most likely feel just like you do, who have worked hard like you have, and now must jump off the far end of the proverbial high dive.

My friend and colleague, Naseem Rakha, who walked away from the Backspace Writer’s Conference with a top-drawer New York agent, has talent and a well-crafted story that made the agent cry. She also had the guts to get on the plane and show up. She believed in herself and her story.

If you have that, Backspace has the resources you need to succeed on the next leg of the journey. In no time, Naseem’s agent had inked a deal with a big publishing house. Fast forward to this year, Naseem Rakha’s book and she are already award-winners. The book, The Crying Tree, will be released this month. She will present the book on July 13th at Powell’s Books in Portland, 7:30, and on July 15th in Salem, at the Tea Party Bookstore, 6:30 p.m.

To succeed in writing and publishing one must be brave, and willing to let go of the safety of knowing what will happen next. But in addition to nerves of steel, one must also possess the knowledge of where the good resources are and the wisdom to use them.

I suggest joining Backspace, one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers: www.bksp.org
I want to thank Ali McCart for presenting this resource, the Ink-Filled Page, and everything else she does for emerging writers in the Portland area and beyond.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Saturday, June 27
"We will experience the voices of Burma's own people as they defy the dictatorship's severe repression of expression. Burma still has an avid book-reading culture and even a new underground of bloggers and hip hop artists. Literature discussed will include Burma-based novels by Amy Tan, Amitav Ghosh and George Orwell, as well as books by Burma's own Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and Pascal Khoo Thwe."
When: 9am-4:30pm
Where: Center for Continuing Studies, Lewis and Clark College, 615 SW Palatine Hill Rd, Portland 97219
Cost: non-credit $70
Visit their website for more information.

Date: Saturday, June 27
Local bibliophiles congregate for the inaugural NW Book Festival. Join more than 40 authors as they speak about and sign their work.
When: 10am-4pm
Where: 21860 Willamette Drive, West Linn, OR 97068
Visit the website for more information or contact Veronica Esagui, DC at handson13@hotmail.com

Date: Sunday, June 28
Every year about thirty-five women writers are granted between 1 and 4 weeks of peaceful solitude on the Oregon Coast thanks to the non-profit Soapstone. In support of this project, volunteers are invited to Soapstone's annual work day. Tasks will include preparing firewood for the winter, caring for native gardens and completing some trail maintenance. Potluck dinner to follow!
When: 11am-7pm
Where: Soapstone*
Cost: Volunteer event
*For more information about the volunteer day visit their site or as requested, email Ruth at retreats@soapstone.org if you can come or want more detailed information.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Happy Fourth Birthday, St. Johns Booksellers!

Please be our guest on Thursday, 25 June, between 5 and 9pm for an anniversary celebration and FREE BOOKS!

We're breaking out our stacks of Advance Reading Copies to share with our best customers. Print this message and bring it in to receive a free ARC with any purchase. Titles available include recent releases and forthcoming books--literature, mystery, business, inspirational, and young readers' selections.

Paid catalogue pre-orders will be discounted 25%! This is your opportunity to peruse the fall publisher catalogues and see what's coming up that you might like. Of special note are catalogues from Workman, Storey, Norton, and Penguin,as well as the beautiful full-color catalogue from our calendar distributor.

And, as always, we will make our annual gift to Sisters of the Road: 10% of the day's sales. The more books you buy, the more we can contribute to one of our city's most thoughtful and innovative nonprofits serving the poor and homeless.

Refreshments will be served--so come have a nibble and a book on us, and let us thank you for 4 years of book-loving comradeship.

Please share this event as widely as you like!

Looking forward to seeing you,

Nena, Adam, Jay, Denise, Sami, Lucy, and Noor
St. Johns Booksellers

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Tourist

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 photostory@indigoediting.com.

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: "Snapshot" by Ali McCart

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ink-slingers: On your marks! It's the Wordstock Short Fiction Competition

Wordstock, Portland's annual festival of writers, books, and storytelling, is pleased to announce the call for submissions for the 3rd Wordstock Short Fiction Competition.

The national contest is a “double blind” competition. The judges, a collection of writers, academics, publishers, bookstore owners, and literary critics, will choose 10 finalists. The winner of the competition receives a first prize of $1,000 and publication in the October 2009 issue of Portland Monthly magazine. All 10 finalists' stories will be published in the Wordstock Ten, an anthology that will be available at the festival, at Portland-area bookstores, and online through the Wordstock website. Every writer who enters the competition will receive a copy of the anthology.

The final judge for this year’s competition will be Oregon essayist, author, and short-story writer Barry Lopez. Mr. Lopez is a recipient of the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the John Hay Medal, fellowships from the Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Science Foundations, and many other honors, including the National Book Award.

Submission guidelines
- All short stories must be works of fiction written in English
- Stories must be an original work and not previously published
- The entry fee is $25 per short story entry
- There are no genre restrictions
- Manuscripts are to be typed, double-spaced, on 8.5” x 11” paper
- Stories should be no less than 1,500 and no more than 4,000 words
- Each submission must have a cover sheet with the writer’s contact information—do not put this information on the manuscript.
- No manuscript will be returned
- Entries that do not follow these guidelines will be disqualified

Submit your entry by mail to:
Wordstock short fiction competition
C/o Franklin, Beedle & Assoc.
8536 SW St Helens Dr., Suite D
Wilsonville, OR 97070.

Please make your entry fee check payable to Wordstock. All entries must be postmarked by July 1, 2009.

Last year's competition drew over 300 entries from all over the world. The 1st place winner, Kurt Rheinheimer of Roanoke, Virginia, won $1,000 and had his story, "Calendar Girl Arrested, Freed" published in the December 2009 issue of Portland Monthly.

See what all the fuss is about and visit this information at the Wordstock website.

Editorial Tip of the Week: Compounds & Hyphens

Compound words are a particularly fascinating feature of language. They essentially represent how new words are created and enter common usage. It is a fairly democratic process: anybody might invent a more accurate word to keep pace with a nascent function or idea. It is up to the general populace to take the word and run with it, or leave it by the wayside.

Compound words are expressed in three different ways.

1) as an open compound = the compound is spelled as two words {science fiction}
2) as a closed compound = the compound is spelled as one word {bookstore}
3) as a hyphenated compound = a hyphen connects two words {editor-in-chief}

Generally speaking, a new word enters the scene as an open compound, transitions using a hyphen and is considered common usage as a closed compound. Our vocabulary for virtual technology is the most obvious arena where we see this phenomenon. Consider the tentative electronic mail to e-mail to the now common, email.

Not that it's always an easy evolution. The rules governing compound words and hyphenation are fickle and abundant -- writers and editors will want to keep a dictionary and a style guide handy. For this week's tip, here are a few basic rules to get you started.

Most of the time adverbs ending in -ly are explicit enough not to warrant a hyphen, neither before nor after the noun, but The Copyeditor's Handbook warns us about ambiguous combinations: "He too readily agreed. [Means He also agreed.] He too-readily agreed. [Means He agreed too readily.]"

Compound modifiers
Attributive Adjectives come before a noun and usually include a hyphen for clarity's sake {she is a short-fiction writer}
Predicate Adjectives follow a noun and it's usually clear which noun they describe, so hyphenation is not necessary but can be used if desired {she writes short fiction}

Numbers twenty-one to ninety-nine are hyphenated

The Chicago Manual of Style has several comprehensive compound and hyphenation lists, sorted by Type (according to grammatical function), Formed with Specific Terms, and Formed with Prefixes. If you don't have the hard copy handy, see the website.

Social Media Galore!

That's right, we're doing the social media thing. Join us online to keep us posted on your writing endeavors and to see what's new on Indigo's agenda!

@inkfilledpage: Follow us for snippets of stories in the most recent or upcoming issue, and we'll remind you of submission deadlines to get your own work in!
@sledgehammerwri: That's right, the Sledgehammer 36-hour writing contest is back! Follow us on Twitter to see all the latest updates, including finalized dates, cities hosting this year's adventure, and our newest, hottest sponsors.

Ink-Filled Page Group: Yep, we've got a group and want to see you in it! We'll update you on submissions deadlines and new issue releases, let you know about upcoming events, and announce congratulations to our contributors when they achieve another publishing success.
Sledgehammer Page: Become a fan! You know you want to. What writer or reader isn't a fan of 36-hour/scavenger hunt/timed writing craziness? And you'll get all the latest news on how Sledgehammer 2009 is unfolding.

See you online!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Photo Story: Injection

by M. M. Garcia

“I could have been a cutter,” I think as I slid the needle into the rubber-tipped vial. Pulling back the plunger slowly, I am fascinated by the rush of liquid into the vial. If you pull it too fast, air floods in first; trapping itself at the top of the syringe, and causing the medicine to take on the fizzy aspect of a shaken up soda bottle.

You have to flick the syringe with your fingers to make the bubbles disperse. This is what you always see heroin addicts doing on television dramas. I have always wondered why. Now I know.

“Needles don’t bother me. They never have,” I say.

“Is that weird?” I ask.

I wonder why it is that I seek approval for everything. Not approval so much as an acknowledgement of who I am. Eccentric or strange or banal or just somewhere, lost, in between. I like needles and I want you to know it. I want you to tell me that this is odd, strange, interesting, or utterly repellent – I just need a reaction of some kind.

“Yeah,” you say, “I don’t really like them so much.” You turn away as I pinch up a small mound of flesh, take aim and pierce. Medicine rushes in to heal, but of course, you can't feel that part.

“I like to watch when the phlebotomist draws my blood,” I say knowing that I’m digging a pit with my voice. My words are a shovel, pushing ever downward. Sometimes I’m like that. I know I should stop talking, but the talk just keeps coming until I’m knee deep in something that belongs inside my head and not out here on the floor.

And the worst part is I can’t even get it all out. I can’t even say what I’m really thinking—that once you cultivate a taste for pain, that condition is always with you. I have it with me, just under the surface like the blood that rushes back up into the syringe. Even though I know it’s there, I never think about it until something brings it oozing back up to the surface.

Then I remember: I am only happy when it hurts. I am most alive when a needle pierces my skin, when the blade slides across my arm, when I’ve run so far that I can’t breathe, and the pain pushes through my insensitivity.

I guess that makes you just another pointy object. I let you poke through the flesh and into the the dark recesses, drawing out what's underneath, but only because I’m a masochist. Only because I like to bleed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Friday thru Sunday, June 19-21

Registration is still open for the
Columbia Gorge Writer's Conference

Join Mountain Writers Series for three days of intense writing in Hood River, Oregon. Experience readings and workshops with award-winning poets and prose writers; nature walks that culminate with medicinal tinctures; moving from field journals to polished narrative; and special sessions on editing and publishing taught by the director of one of the nation's finest university presses.
When: See schedule for details
Where: Columbia Gorge Community College, 1730 College Way, Hood River OR
Cost: See registration site for details
To register and for more information, visit the Mountain Writers Series website. Email pdxmws@mountainwriters.org or telephone 541-506-6171.

Date: Saturday, June 20
Open House at the Independent Publishing Resource Center. Tour of the center; resources, workshops, services all discussed. Afterward, sign up for a full-blown weekend workshop, Print Camp 2009, June 20-21 or for an introductory class, Altered Books on June 23.
When: 3-4pm
Where: IPRC, 917 SW Oak St. #218, Portland OR
Cost: Tour is free/see site for workshop fees
Visit the IPRC website for further information about the center and the workshops.

Date: Tuesday, June 23
Calling all aspiring and experienced urban farmers! Novella Carpenter is reading from her memoir Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. Carpenter turned a downtown Oakland parking lot into a thriving farm--and lived to tell about it. Yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle published her article on the subject.
When: 7:30pm
Where: Powell's City of Books, 1005 Burnside, Portland OR
Cost: Free

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Injection

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.

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: "Injection" by Yosia Urip

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Rise Above Arts Program is having a Fundraiser!

Date: Friday and Saturday, June 19 & 20

Not that we need an excuse to buy books but supporting the Rise Above Arts program presents extra incentive to visit the Tanasbourne Barnes & Noble this weekend. The store will be donating a percentage of weekend sales to the program.

Every year, an estimated 1.6 million of America’s youth experience homelessness. Though a problem nationwide, this is also an issue locally. In order to better serve this important population, Hillsboro Community Arts founded the Rise Above Arts Program, providing arts education to homeless youth. These teens, ages 13 to 17, currently reside at A Safe Place for Youth, a teen homeless shelter run by the Boys and Girls Aid Society in Hillsboro. Each year, Rise Above offers 150+ teens the opportunity to express themselves through art and writing, while helping them to build confidence, learn about themselves, and realize a sense of accomplishment.

The Rise Above Teen’s Global Art for Peace Project will be exhibited at the Tanasbourne store this entire month and the store will also be hosting a number of events related to the fundraiser throughout the weekend.
  • Dick Wisshack of Hillsboro reading from his book, "The Whales are Calling," at 11am Friday and 3pm Saturday
  • Marianne Monson reading "Finding Fairies" at 11am Saturday
  • Open poetry reading emceed by Joe Schrader at 7pm Friday
  • Story telling and puppets with the Rise Above teens at 1pm Saturday
  • Musician Eldorado Gene performing at 5pm Saturday and on-going art projects.
Where: Barnes & Noble Tanasbourne, 18300 Evergreen Parkway, Beaverton, OR 97006

For more information about the Rise Above program, visit their page on the Hillsboro Community Arts website.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Subject-Verb Agreement

In the throes of a particularly gripping surge of creative genius, even the tidiest writer may glance over the basic principle of subject-verb agreement. That is, "The number of a verb must agree with the number of the noun or pronoun used with it" (The Chicago Manual of Style, 5.123) or as Amy Einsohn states, "A singular subject takes a singular verb, and a plural subject takes a plural verb" (The Copyeditor's Handbook, p. 339).

Singular: Her shoe is sparkly.
Plural: Her shoes are sparkly.

Easy enough? Of course, not quite. Einsohn lists no less than twenty-five subject-verb agreement hang-ups. For instance, number twenty-three: "Titles of works. Titles of works always take a singular verb. {Dickinson's Selected Poems is a fine introduction to her work.}"

In addition to Einsohn's litany, The Elements of Style (p.9-11) is a handy go-to for the most common difficulties. True to succinct Strunk and White style, the section gets right to straightening us out:

"Words that intervene between subject and verb do not affect the number of the verb. [Incorrect] The bittersweet flavor of youth--its trials, its joys, its adventures, its challenges--are not soon forgotten. [Correct] The bittersweet flavor of youth--its trials, its joys, its adventures, its challenges--is not soon forgotten."

While the native English speaker will find many of the principles governing subject-verb agreement to be intuitive, mastering subject-verb agreement does require memorizing some rules and familiarizing oneself with resources for the obscure configurations.

In addition to the sources listed above, check out Grammar Girl's typically humorous take (with help from another grammar guru, Bonnie Trenga) on subject-verb agreement, here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: Sat-Tues, June 13-16
The Cape Town Book Fair in South Africa presents "Education for the Future."
The Book Fair is an ideal forum for cross-cultural dialogue and the open discussion of controversial opinions, ideas and issues. 29 countries will be present this year, with more than 250 exhibitors representing the full range of publishing in South Africa. This year sees the pilot of the first Cape Town Book Fair Invitation Programme which introduces 12 publishers from 12 African countries at the fair.
When: Visit the site for a schedule of events
Where: Cape Town International Convention Center
Cost: See site for details
Follow the event from abroad at the blog: www.capetownbookfair.blogspot.com

Date: Tuesday, June 16
At once a love letter to the Rose City and a dream of escape, the first-person narratives of Portland Queer reveal the contradiction and commonalities of life in one of the world's great queer meccas. A waiter falls in love with a straight guy from the cafe next door. A young dyke discovers gay karaoke at the Silverado. A pregnant man prepares for new life transitions. An ambitious teenager finds her tribe at St. Mary's Academy. A closet-case is confronted by his wife. And a video-game addict takes a chance on love. With Ariel Gore and special guests Lois Leveen, Michael Sage Ricci, Jacqueline Raphael and Nicole Vaicunas.
When: 7pm
Where: Reading Frenzy
Cost: Free
Reading Frenzy is hosting a slew of fantastic literary events this summer. Give it a glimpse!

Date: Wednesday, June 17
Graphic Novel Book Group is meeting to discuss Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan. The group meets every third Wednesday of the month. Next read is 20th Century Boys, Vol. 01, Friends by Naoki Urasawa. Check it out at your local library branch!
When: 6:30 pm
Where: Belmont Library 1038 NE 39th Ave Portland OR
Cost: Free
See the Multnomah County Library site for more details.

Date: Wednesday, June 17
Caught Red-Handed: Featuring awesome people telling true stories!!!
Back Fence PDX will take the stage with great people telling unmemorized eight-minute stories based on the theme, "Caught Red-Handed." In addition, a swimsuit fashion show featuring suits from Popina will be held at 7:15pm and Tinymeat will give away wallets at intermission.
Alcohol. Food. True Stories. 21 and over.
When: 6pm doors/7:30pm show
Cost: $10 online / $12 door
Where: The Mission Theater 1624 NW Glisan Portland OR 97209
Date: Wednesday, June 17
Learn more at http://backfencepdx.wordpress.com/.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Meet Comma

I'm going a little unorthodox on this one and posting my own photo. This is my new kitten, Comma.

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.

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: "Meet Comma" by Ali McCart

Monday, June 08, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Sentence Fragments

Every author and editor should be aware of several basic compositional challenges. In addition to correct spelling and employing the active voice over the passive when possible, reviewing for sentence fragments is imperative for coherent, powerful text. A sentence fragment occurs when a sentence is missing a subject or verb - in essence, when the sentence does not express a complete thought.

Fragment: Begins June 11. What begins June 11?
By adding a subject to this phrase, the sentence is now a complete thought: Portland Pedalpalooza begins June 11.

There are several additional indicators that a sentence may contain a fragment but the most common is the subordinate conjunction. Subordinate conjunctions are words that join sentences and create dependent, or subordinate, clauses. This last characteristic contributes to the appearance of fragments because a dependent clause on its own is not a complete idea; it requires an independent, or main, clause.

Robin L. Simmons of Grammar Bytes maps out punctuation rules for fixing fragments involving a subordinate clause:
  • main clause + nothing + subordinate clause
  • subordinate clause + comma + main clause
Fragment: There is a cycling event for every whim. Whether you are into tacos, zombies or Buddhism. Whether is the subordinating conjunction and marks the fragment. The second sentence is a subordinate because it relies on the main clause for clarification.
Solution: In this case, simply deleting the punctuation between the sentences creates a complete thought. There is a cycling event for every whim whether you are into tacos, zombies or Buddhism.

Fragment: When the dance party theme is Bowie vs. Prince. Everybody wins!
Solution: Join these two sentences with a comma to express a complete (and more profound) thought: When the dance party theme is Bowie vs. Prince, everybody wins!

For a complete list of subordinate conjunctions visit chompchomp.com.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: TONIGHT! Friday, June 5
The latest original noir anthology from New York-based publisher, Akashic books, "Portland Noir is sure to both charm and frighten readers familiar with this northwest hub and intrigue those who have never traveled to this proudly weird city." Celebrate the "dark, rainy" Portland underbelly with a book launch party featuring editor Kevin Sampsell and contributors Jonathan Selwood, Luciana Lopez, and Chris A. Bolton.
When: 7:30p
Where: Powell's, 1005 W. Burnside Portland OR
Cost: Free
Check out Akashic books for more details.

Date: Saturday, June 6
Vancouver bookstore, Cover to Cover, hosts a writers' mixer for Northwest inkslingers every first Saturday of the month. This month writing guru Jessica Page Morrell discusses "How to Write the Bad Guys in Fiction." Teaching from her newest book, Bullies, Bastards and Bitches, Morrell shares tips on how to "create antagonists with many dimensions who are worthy adversaries for your protagonists."
When: 5-6:30p
Where: Cover to Cover Books, 1817 Main St. Vancouver WA
Cost: Free
Contact: phone 360-514-0358 or visit the website www.covertocoverbooks.net/events.html. Check out Jessica Morrell's website: http://www.writing-life.com/

Date: Tuesday, June 9
The all-woman Portland Playback Theater Ensemble is performing at In Other Words Books and Resources. Through a unique form of improvisational theater incorporating audience participation into a dramatic interpretation, Playback Theater seeks to "[bring] women together through story...to [create] a ritual space where any story - however ordinary, extraordinary, hidden or difficult - might be told, and immediately made into theater." Whether to share or simply witness stories, all are welcome.
When: 7:30p
Where: 8 B NE Killingsworth St Portland OR
Cost: Free or sliding scale donation
Visit the store website for more details.

Date: Thursday - Saturday, June 11-13
Calling all writers, publishers and readers north of the 54th parallel! "A Free Celebration for All Ages with Those Who Write About The Great Land." The University of Alaska Fairbanks is hosting the Alaska Book Festival. Featuring panel discussions, workshops and author readings commencing with a lecture by Willie Hensley who will discuss his book, Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and the Real People. Many events are held on the UAF campus and the guest artists also make appearances throughout the Fairbanks community.
When: See the schedule of events
Where: UAF
Cost: Free
For more information visit: www.uaf.edu/bookfestival/

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Dog Beach

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.

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: "Playin' on the Beach" by Heather Sorenson

Monday, June 01, 2009

Declaration Editing Presents The Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C), July 1–31

What happens when you cross
flash fiction with serialized fiction?

To find out, participate in The Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C), July 1–31.

What You Do: Tell an original serialized story in nine to twelve installments, with each installment being fewer than five hundred words. Regularly post installments to your personal website or blog throughout July. At the end of the month, submit your completed story to Declaration Editing to be considered as one of five serials published in a special e-journal.

What We Do: We will provide a link to your writing here on our blog so that readers can find your work and read your story as it unfolds. Once the challenge is over, our staff will pick our five favorite serials and publish them in a special e-journal.

How to Sign Up for the Challenge: Use the handy online registration form on our blog (declarationediting.wordpress.com) or send the following information to s4c@declarationediting.com:

  • Your name
  • Your e-mail address
  • A link to your personal website or blog
  • A fifty-word description of the story you plan to tell

Be sure to sign up by June 30. Participation is free.

Editorial Tip of the Week: Troublesome Expressions, Summer Edition

While blogging or twittering your latest summer adventure, don't let your narration be stymied by a misused word. Here is some vocabulary you may encounter, as defined and differentiated by the Chicago Manual of Style. I’ve customized the examples when inspired.

Edible; eatable. What is edible is fit for human consumption {edible flowers}. What is eatable is at least minimally palatable {the hot dog was slightly burned but still eatable}.

Luxuriant; luxurious. The two terms are fairly often confused. What is luxuriant is lush and grows abundantly {a luxuriant field of wildflowers}. What is luxurious is lavish and extravagant {a luxurious resort}.

Restive; restful. Restive has two senses: “impatient, stubborn” and “restless, agitated.” Restful means “conducive to rest.”

Seasonal; seasonable. Seasonal means either “dependent on a season” {fishing is a seasonal hobby} or “relating to the seasons or a season” {seasonal ales are at a premium in the Pacific Northwest}. Seasonable means “timely” {considering the aphid infestation, the arrival of ladybugs was seasonable} or “fitting the season” {it was unseasonably cold for July}.

Slew; slough; slue. Slew is an informal word equivalent to many or lots {we were swept along in a slew of concert goers}. It is sometimes misspelled slough (a legitimate noun meaning "a grimy swamp") {when hiking, beware the slew} or slue (a legitimate verb meaning "to swing around") {she slued the thirty-pound pack onto her back as if it hardly weighed a thing}.

Attention international travelers: stay healthy and keep an ear out for correct usage. Those prefixes make all the difference!

Epidemic; endemic; pandemic. An epidemic disease breaks out, spreads through a limited area (such as a state), and then subsides {an epidemic outbreak of measles}. (The word is frequently used as a noun {a measles epidemic}. An endemic disease is perennially present within a region or population {malaria is endemic in parts of Africa}. (Note that endemic describes a disease and not a region: it is incorrect to say this region is endemic for [a disease].) A pandemic disease is prevalent over a large area, such as a nation or continent, or the entire world {the 2009 swine flu pandemic}

Visit bartleby.com for alternative explanations and further examples for any of the vocabulary.