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

Monday, September 14, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Fear Not the Semicolon

When I entered high school, I learned many things about writing. Most of them were positive, like how to write a decent thesis and how to support it with body paragraphs. Unfortunately, I was also taught to fear the semicolon.

"Don't use it because you'll never be able to do it right," my teacher warned us all. She had that look on her face when she said it. The look that told us if we were to misuse the semicolon, she would gleefully mark our papers with large, angry Fs.

As I grew older, I started to wonder about her dire warning. While writing papers at the collegiate level, the semicolon often seemed so handy. Still, I worried I would fail. What would possess a teacher to instill this type of fear in her students? Could it be that she was just jaded? Could the semicolon in fact be an impossibly wonderful punctuation mark that can "connect two independent clauses not joined by a conjunction?" The Chicago Manual of Style seems to say yes. Moreover, instead of using fear tactics (the veritable shock and awe of punctuation), Chicago will gently guide you toward the proper use of the semicolon.

Ah, the sweet sound of knowledge. Let's proceed, shall we?

According to Chicago, the semicolon is "stronger than a comma, but weaker than a period [and] can assume either role."

Nina intends to write well; her punctuation, however, needs work.

When using adverbs "transitionally between independent clauses," they should be "preceded by a semicolon." Adverbs include the following: accordingly, therefore, indeed, hence, thus, however, and besides.

The teacher had forgotten why she loved the English language; therefore she could not teach to the best of her ability.

Chicago goes on to say that "an independent clause introduced by a conjunction may be proceeded by a semicolon, especially when the independent clause has internal punctuation."

Leslie had decided to challenge her teacher's ideas about semicolons; but fear of failing, as well as the presence of the other students, prevented her from speaking up.

You should also know that "when items in a series involve internal punctuation, they should be separated by semicolons." Additionally, "when the context calls for a semicolon at the end of material enclosed in parenthesis or brackets, the semicolon should follow the closing parenthesis or bracket."

Now, go forth and use the semicolon without trepidation.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: September 12th
Monsoon Voices Live Literary & Music Magazine will poets
Michael Gessner, Kait Meadows, and Mimi Ferraro and writers Corey Knox and Allan Meyer. Enjoy acoustic guitar and vocals by Gerry Glombecki.
When: 7 PM
Where: Oro Valley Public Library, 1305 W. Naranja Drive
Cost: Donations welcome!
For more information visit the event's website.

Date: September 16th
Kate Gale of Red Hen Press will be at the Cornelia Street Cafe with some fantastic writers. The list includes, John Bowers, Kathleen Driskell, Annie Finch, Gary Lemons, and Deena Metzger. Relax with some dinner and drinks while you listen to this interesting bunch!
When: 6:00 PM
Where: Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street, NYC
Cost: $7, includes one free house drink!
For more information visit the cafe's website.

Date: September 17th
The Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival kicks off with a pre-festival event! Ian Rankin, author of the Rebus series, will discuss getting to know a new cha
racter who will be featured in his upcoming novel, The Complaints. Many more events to come before and during this fabulous festival!
When: 7:30 PM
St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church
Burrard at Nelson
Cost: $25 adults, $20 students & seniors (service charges not included)
For more information visit the festival's website.

Date: September 19th and 20th
If you happen to
be in Nairobi, Kenya there is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you should not miss! The 1st World Peace Poetry Festival, hosted by Walter Keyombe, will be held in the Hope Centre auditorium. Poets from around the world will participate in an open-mic performance. There will also be lectures and seminars around the theme: "Reconcile, Transform, Forgive, & Reconnect."
When: 12 PM - 8:30 PM

Where: Amboseli, Lavington, Nairobi
For more information visit the website.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Little Girl and the Beggar

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: "Little girl and the beggar" by Rubenshito

Monday, September 07, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Germophobic Edition

I have a confession to make; I am a germophobe.

Close friends and family members may not be surprised.

I carry a purple hand sanitizer dispenser on my key chain, avoid door handles, wash frequently, cringe when someone doesn't cover their cough, and always Google my symptoms on the web.

The following information is for those of you who understand my plight. If you become nervous at the mention of the H1N1 flu virus, view your hand sanitizer as a fashion statement, or have visited Web MD on more than one occasion, then these general guidelines are for you!

When searching for information on the latest disease or procedure, The Chicago Manual of Style
tells us to lowercase "names of diseases, syndromes, diagnostic procedures, anatomical parts, and the like." Proper names included in the term are an exception. When searching for an acronym, remember it is correct to capitalize all acronyms and initialisms. Some handy examples in Chicago are: non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Down syndrome, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), finger-nose test, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and islets of Langerhans.

Afraid you may have an infection? According to Chicago, "names of infectious organisms are treated like other specific names. Names of conditions based on such names are neither italicized nor capitalized." For example, if you believe you may have a streptococcal infection, then you should ask your doctor to test your blood for microorganisms of the genus Streptococcus.

Always helpful, Chicago notes that when discussing drugs, one should try to use the brand name. Generic names of drugs are acceptable. However, they should be lowercased and followed by the capitalized brand name in parenthesis.

Of course, these are just general guidelines. If you haven't had enough of this medical fun, Chicago recommends checking out the American Medical Association Manual of Style. With its help, who knows, you can even create your own medical blog that germophobes everywhere can flock to in need of advice and solace.

Until then, wash those hands folks! ;)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Rise Above Art & Fundraiser

Join the Rise Above teens and staff for an Opening Reception for the Rise Above art exhibit at the SCRAP Vision Art Gallery on Friday, September 11th from 6 - 11 pm. Sponsored by the Dreaming Zebra Foundation and SCRAP, the reception will have Live Music and refreshments, as well as a variety of art and writing projects by the teens in the Rise Above program. The teens' recently completed mural project will be on display as well.

There is a $5.00 suggested donation for the reception (or the equivalent in art supplies).

If you cannot make it to the reception on September 11th, please check out the exhibit at another time, as the show will run from September 1st through 30th.

Friday, September 11th
SCRAP Vision Art Gallery
2915 NE MLK Jr. Blvd
Portland, OR 97212
6-10 pm

Check out more Rise Above artwork at our Flickr site at:

To learn more about our sponsors go to their websites at:

For more information about the upcoming art exhibit, contact:, or

Spotlighted Literary Events

Date: September 10th
Wellesley's Booksmith begins its Fall Author Events Series with Sara Becker reading from her book American Fuji. The reading of her novel, set in Japan, will be enhanced with stories from her own experience living in Japan in the 1990s. After the discussion, delight your taste buds with some delicious green tea!
When: 7:00 PM
Where: Wellesley Booksmith, 82 Central St, Wellesley, MA 02482
Cost: Free, please RSVP by calling (781) 431-1160 or emailing
For more information about this enthralling story and author, visit the event's website.

Date: September 11th
Have some literary fun with your kids by bringing them to Kristin Dempsey & Christopher Denise Read & Draw For You at Storytime! Kristin Dempsey lively reading of her picture book, Me With You, will combine with Christopher Denise's drawing demonstration. Bring out the artist in your little one while our guests help the kids make their own special Me With You postcards and picture frames.
When: 10:30 AM
Where: Wellesley Booksmith, 82 Central St, Wellesley, MA
Cost: Free, come ready to listen and create!
Fore more information, visit the event's website.

Date: September 11th
According to Powell's Bookstore, Writers Reflect on 9/11 will be a positive reflection on the "ways people were moved to restore the beauty and bring healing in the face of community tragedy." The collective reading by local artists Tom Spanbauer, Sara Guest, Colin Farstaad, Kevin Meyer and Tami Lynn Kent and discussion will provide a way to honor and remember those lost, as well as celebrate the human ability to continue to heal and hope.
When: 7:30 PM
Powell's Bookstore, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR
Cost: Free

Date: September 12th and 13th
Explore art, dance, poetry, and music as you hike through beautiful meadows, inspiring pines, and enchanting aspen groves with Trails and Vistas "Terra Caeli." The 2.5 mile hike starts at the Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center and will last for approximately 3 hours. Let a knowledgeable Trail Leader take you through a unique experience of art and nature.
When: Tickets available Saturday at 3:45 and 4:oo PM, Sunday at 2:45, 3:00, and 3:30 PM
Where: Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center, 15275 Alder Creek Road, Truckee, CA
Cost: Adults (13 and up) $ 30:00, Children (5-12) $15.00, Children (4 and under) Free
For more information visit the Trails and Vistas website.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Photo Story Prompt: Leisure

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: "Leisure" by Felipe Daniel Reis