Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: In Traffic

Let us know what you come up with! Share your fiction, non-fiction, prose, or what have you with us if you are inspired. Leave a comment below, or email it to us at

Monday, November 01, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Lists, lists, lists...

Lists are an everyday occurrence for some of us, but for others, they are only for special occasions (birthday wish lists, anyone?). No matter how frequently lists make their way into your life, you should know how to list correctly! It's not too much trouble to remember, and if you forget the guidelines, you can always refer back to The Chicago Manual of Style for a little hint.

First and foremost, all items in your list should be syntactically alike, whatever the context. Lists can be written with or without numerals or letters; lists that utilize numerals or letters should do so for a reason, be it to clarify order, show importance, or otherwise. And, of course, lists can be written out in sentences, or set apart as vertical lists (think grocery lists).

Simple and short lists work well in sentence structure, such as: She needed to remember to buy milk, butter, and sugar. Lists that appear within sentences are often set apart by colons, as well. If the introduction to the list is an independent clause, go ahead and use a colon. For example: The grocery store used three types of tags for pricing their items for sale: green produce tags, red clearance tags, and yellow tags.

Longer lists can be used in sentence form as well, but they are easier on the eyes to list out vertically, if it is possible. For a long vertical list, it's best to introduce it with a complete sentence followed by a colon, and then begin your listing. Numbers or even bullets can be used for vertical lists. Closing punctuation is not necessary in vertical lists unless each item requires multiple sentences, or is numbered. In the case of list items that run long, indent the second, third, and any following lines so that they line up with the number of the item.

No matter how big, small, important, or inconsequential your list is, these guidelines are great to reference.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Tuesday, November 2nd
VoiceCatcher contributers will come together to celebrate the release of Volume 5. Readers include: Gerri Ravyn Stanfield, Alida Rol, Liza Langral, Paige Pancratz, Karen Campbell, and Tiel Aisha Ansari. There is a suggested donation at the door of $2-10 to support the work of In Others Words, the only non-profit, women-volunteered bookstore and resource center in the country.
Where: In Other Words, 14 NE Killingsworth
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: Suggested donation of $2-10

Tuesday, November 2nd
Portland writer Dana Haynes will speak to Willamette Writers November meeting about writing, research, timing, and success. His book Crashers was published on June 22nd this year and will be coming out on the big screen in 2012 through Steven Spielberg. Dana has a background in journalism and currently works in public affairs at PCC. Prior to writing "Crashers," he wrote three mysteries under the name of Conrad Haynes.
Where: 1422 SW 11th
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: Free for members and students, $5 for guests of members, and $10 for non-members.

Wednesday, November 3rd
From Nicole Krauss, author of The History of Love, comes Great House, a powerful, soaring novel about a stolen desk that contains the secrets, and becomes the obsession, of the lives it passes through. "A formidable and haunting mosaic of loss and profound sorrow," says Publishers Weekly.
Where: Powell's, 1005 W. Burnside
When: 7:30 pm
Cost: Free

Thursday, November 4th
Celebrate In Other Words' seventeen years in Portland and their expansion into a feminist community center. Reading by Nicole Georges, Alysia Angel, and Carrot Quinn. A photobooth will be provided by Bloodhound Photography, and Bear Feet will provide the musical entertainment.
Where: Northstar Ballroom, 635 N. Killingsworth Ct.
When: 6:00 pm
Cost: $7-20 at the door

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Around the House

Write whatever you come up with: fiction or non, poetry or prose. Let us know what you have written! Post it below as a comment or email it to us at

Monday, October 25, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Affect or Effect?

Affect or effect? This is a common question and common mistake. Grammar Girl, a great reference website, offers this cartoon as a visualization of the difference between the two words. A good thing to keep in mind is that most of the time, you use affect as a verb and effect as a noun.
Affect means to influence, as illustrated in the example above. It can also be used to mean that a person is acting in a way they don't feel, or are putting on airs. Therefore you can write things like: "The arrow affected the aardvark" or "He affected an air of superiority."
Effect has a lot of varied meanings, but in the case of determining when to use it, "a result" is a useful way of looking at it. Therefore, you can use effect in sentences like: "The effect was unsettling" or "The special effects were ahead of their time."
There are other rare instances in which affect and effect are in reversed roles, but for general cases, the above examples are good rules to go by.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Saturday, October 23rd
Indigo's day of workshops featuring business classes for writers. Featuring: Differently Abled: Using Tools Outside Your Genre to Break Through Blocks in Writing, 10:30 am - Noon; The Power Couples of Great Readings, 1:00 - 2:30 pm; and How to Make Your Book a Head Turner, 2:40 - 4:10 pm.
Where: 519 SW 3rd Ave, 5th floor conference room
When: 10:30 am - 4:10 pm
Cost: Email to register

Saturday, October 23rd
Vanessa Davis and Julia Wertz are teaming up to celebrate their two latest releases: Davis's Make Me A Woman (Drawn & Quarterly, 2010) and Wertz's Drinking at the Movies (Three Rivers Press, 2010). Both will give a slide show reading, followed by a Q&A and book signing.
Where: Reading Frenzy, 921 SW Oak
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: Free

Sunday, October 24th
Wonder Woman Day V at Excalibur Comics, an all ages benefit for domestic violence programs featuring special comic artist guests signing and sketching like: Matt Wagner, Natalie Nourigat, Dane Ault, Emi Lenox, and Steve Dorris.
Where: Excalibur Comics, 2444 SE Hawthorne
When: 12:00 pm
Cost: Free

Monday, October 25th
Butterfly is a Rose is a series of poems encompassing Emily Newberry's life in hiding behind her safe exterior, while her female self is emerging, and during transition. A World War II baby, Newberry believes that the dilemmas that transsexual women face can be a learning point for every human who hopes to live more fully as themselves.
Where: In Other Words,14 NE Killingsworth
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: Free

Writers at Work

Indigo Founder and Senior Editor Ali McCart was recently interviewed by Suzanne LaGrande for the Writers at Work video series.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Illinois Central R.R.

Illinois Central R.R., freight cars in South Water Street freight terminal, Chicago. April 1943. Jack Delano.

Write whatever comes to you, fiction or non, short or long. Share with us what you come up with! Post a comment or email your work to us at

Monday, October 18, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Apostrophe Mishaps

Apostrophe misuse is a rampant issue. There's the common mistake often seen at grocery stores or other places of business where an apostrophe is used in a plural, such as pumpkin's are here or open Sunday's, or the other frequently seen it's versus its confusion. Let's take a look at the three common uses where apostrophes should be: to indicate possessives of nouns, to form contractions, and sometimes in time and measurement.

There's an easy trick for using apostrophes with possessives: to see if you need to use a possessive apostrophe, turn the phrase into an of the phrase. For example, the dog's food would be the food of the dog. Something like this definitely does not work with a sentence like pumpkin's are here!

With its and it's, the apostrophe creates a contraction, turning it is into it's. Without the apostrophe, its is a possessive pronoun like his or hers. A possessive its does not require an apostrophe.

The same concept of apostrophes in contractions apples to dates: to shorten writing the year 1978, you can use '78. A plural of a shortened decade only requires one apostrophe though, like, the '70s.

For further apostrophe guidelines, check out The Chicago Manual of Style. For some apostrophe misuse laughs (or lessons?), check out Apostrophe Abuse.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Tuesday, October 19th
Join Oregon poet laureate Paulann Peterson and poet and journalist Don Colburn for an evening of talking about writing. They'll talk about poetry, prose, and the news, and both authors will read. Bring your questions and enjoy an evening a delicious evening of food, culture, and company.
Where: U of O Portland, 70 NW Couch Street
When: 6:00 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, October 20th
Reading Frenzy presents cartoonist, writer, and artist, Lynda Barry at Portland Art Museum's Fields Ballroom. Ms. Barry will give a short slide show presentation based on her latest book, Picture This (Drawn & Quarterly, 2010), followed by Q&A, and signing.
Where: PAM Fields Sunken Ballroom, 1119 SW Park Ave.
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: $8 admission, $34 admission + copy of What It Is

Wednesday, October 20th
Crows are loud and insistent. They are smart and relentless. They are not easily tricked. Instead, they play tricks. They see a long distance backward and forwards. They are dark but shining. Likewise, the poems in Crow Mercies survey large territories, sometimes with an overview, sometimes close-at-claw. Winner of the first Sarah Lantz Memorial Poetry Prize (from CALYX Books), poet Penelope Scambly Schott draws on myriad experiences to bring herself and the reader into a deeper and far-reaching connection to the world.
Where: Annie Bloom's Books, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy.
When: 7:30 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"How to Freelance for Me" Panel on November 10th

Oregon News Incubator, the Portland-based network for freelancers and other entrepreneurial journalists, is hosting its first big even.

The skinny: Portland-based editors give free advice on what they look for in pitches and in freelancers.
The speakers: Kasey Cordell, senior editor, Portland Monthly; Robin Doussard, editor, Oregon Business Magazine; Abraham Hyatt, production editor, ReadWriteWeb. More guests to be announced!
The spot: Souk co-working space, 322 NW 6th Ave
The schedule: Wednesday, November 10th, 7-8 pm

Please RSVP on Facebook, Calgator, or Upcoming!

Photo Story Prompt: Dead of Winter

Write what comes to you! Share with us by leaving a comment or emailing

Monday, October 11, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Introductory Commas

Commas are often used after introductory phrases or words, especially to indicate pause. This can be very useful to help develop the way your piece reads and flows. Use of the comma is frequently a matter of preference and good judgement. However, there are certain instances with introductory phrases and words where a comma is specifically necessary. We'll just run through how the comma can (and sometimes should) be used here.

i. Introductory Phrase with Comma
A comma is used to indicate slight pause following an introductory phrase at the beginning of a sentence, with the exception of very short introductory phrases. In this case, the comma is also useful to prevent misreading of the sentence, so be sure you are not muddling a sentence by omitting a comma.
Examples: On the other hand, her favorite dinner wasn't exactly easy to prepare.
On Tuesday he tried to see the optometrist.

ii. Introductory Phrase without Comma
If the introductory phrase immediately precedes the verb it modifies, a comma is not used.
Example: Running along behind the car was her neighbor's new dog.

iii. Direct Address
Use a comma following names or words used in direct address and correspondence.
Examples: Friends, I will be selling my car soon.
Mr. Fry, please report back to me as soon as possible.

iv. "Yes," "no," etc.
Use a comma following yes, no, well then, and the like, at the beginning of a sentence when a slight pause is desired.
Examples: Yes, I admit he defeated me.
Well then, we should look into the matter.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

October 9th & 10th
Wordstock! Wordstock is an annual festival of books, writer, and storytelling in Portland, Oregon. A full schedule of events is available here. Wordstock features nine author stages, a book fair, a children's activity and literature stage, a series of workshops for writers, day-long professional development workshops for K-12 teachers, and more.
Where: Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE MLK Jr. Blvd.
When: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Cost: varies

Saturday, October 9th
The IPRC presents the 5th annual Text Ball at p:ear. The Text Ball is Portland's unique celebration of all things text, where attendees are encouraged to come dressed with text as part of your evening attire. Along with live music, dancing, and text-based refreshments, attendees can enjoy word games and a costume parade.
Where: p:ear, 338 NW 6th Ave
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: $8-$15 at

Tuesday, October 12th
Zinesters talking: Know Your City. Examining Portland's forgotten history through zines. The Dill Pickle Club, a civic organization that organizes education project on local history, culture, and civics, talks about Oregon History Comics, with author and Portland Mercury reporter Sarah Mirk.
Where: Central Library, US Bank Room, 801 SW 10th Ave
When: 6:30 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Commodore Record Shop

Portrait of Milt Gabler, Herbie Hill, Lou Blum, and Jack Crystal, Commodore Record Shop, New York, NY, ca. Aug. 1947. William P. Gottlieb.

Write whatever comes to you! Share your fiction, non-fiction, prose, or what have you with us. Leave it as a comment, or email it to us at

Monday, October 04, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Compounds and Hyphens

Hyphens and deciding when to hyphenate words are things that confuse me to this day. There's a lot to hyphenation rules, and all different kinds of them. To break it down to easier to understand parts, I wanted to take a look at hyphenating compounds. The first place to look to decide whether or not to hyphenate a word is the dictionary. But after that, here are some things to consider:

i. Readability
Hyphens are used to show structure and pronunciation to enhance readability and comprehension. Hyphens can help out with words that may otherwise be misread; for example, you would want to re-press your shirt, not repress it. And to eliminate ambiguity: decision making is understandable enough, but fast decision-making shows that you are making decisions and not just quick judgements. Something like graduate student housing is not ambiguous, but it is still perfectly acceptable to hyphenate.

ii. Compound Modifiers
When compound modifiers (like well-lit or open-mouthed) precede a noun, hyphenation makes for easier reading and comprehension. When they follow a noun, hyphens are generally not needed (although that is not always the case). The Chicago Manual of Style offers a hyphenation guide for more specifics.

iii. Multiple Hyphens
Standard multiple hyphen phrases like matter-of-fact approach and over-the-counter drug are often written with two hyphens. Other phrases have no real general consensus, but consistency should be maintained throughout a piece. Therefore, early nineteenth-century music or early-nineteenth-century music are both acceptable. The use of one hyphen versus two does not make a difference in the understanding of the phrase.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Sunday, October 3rd
Michele Glazer's poems take on questions of being and value, exploring not just "what" is, but "how" it is. The poems in her new collection, "On Tact, and the Made Up World," are drawn to missteps in perception and language.
Where: Powell's on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne
When: 4:00 pm
Cost: Free

Monday, October 4th
Write Around Portland 10-week workshop begins tonight. Based on their acclaimed community writing model, this generative workshop incorporates favorite exercises to inspire the writing life. Workshop fee ($285) includes free parking and snacks, and helps to fund workshops for low-income youth and adults. To register, of for more information, visit
Where: Powell's, 1005 West Burnside
When: 6:15 pm
Cost: $285 for 10 weeks

Tuesday, October 5th
Join Wordstock and the Multnomah County Library for this special "sneak-peak" at the Young Adult literature that will be featured at this year's festival, with readings from Heather Vogel Frederick, Amanda Howells, and Nancy Coffelt.
Where: Central Library, 810 SW 10th Ave.
When: 6:00 pm
Cost: Free

Thursday, October 7th
Join us to meet Johnny Ryan and celebrate the release of his latest book, Prison Pit 2. Ryan will sign books and present an exhibition of his original artwork, comix, colorful silkscreen prints, and sculpted figures. Also the main character from Prison Pit, Cannibal Fuckface, will make a special appearance, performing a heavy metal set while covered in blood.
Where: Floating World Comics, 20 NW 5th Ave #101
When: 6:00 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: At Play

Write what comes to you: fiction, non-fiction, short or long. Share it with us! Leave your work as a comment or email it to us at

Monday, September 27, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Viva Voice

You may have heard these lines before: It will take some time for you to discover your voice, or, Let me read the first fifty or so pages and see if I like the voice. Earlier this year, authors at the Festival of Books were all over voice—to the point that a writer at the Huffington Post decided to take a jab back. What is this elusive "voice" that's always being talked about?

Generally, voice is referring to one of two things:
  1. The author's voice, their style, that makes their writing unique in some respect and has been crafted over time.
  2. Or, voice as the speech and thought process of the narrator of a story.

Both types of voice are very important to writers and their work. The first, the voice (or stlye) of an author, being something that is developed as a writer develops. It is unique to you, and it is bound to evolve continually over time. Your writing should have as much personality as your own. The voice of your narrator, similarly, is crucial to carrying out your story. Without a cohesive and engaging voice, you may lose the structure, and even the impact, of your story before the reader even reaches the end.

Voice as an author's style is an interesting topic: can it be learned or must it be nurtured only to develop with use? This is one thing that is argued over in the Huffington Post article. You can answer that for yourself, if you wish. But one thing is certain—voice has an effect on your writing mechanics, your word choice, even your structure. Becoming aware of your own voice will allow you a lot of room to play in your writing. Give it a shot.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Friday, September 24th
Celebrate the 20th birthday of the Portland micro-press, Future Tense, at this free event featuring short readings and toasts from an array of authors that Kevin Sampsell's press has published throughout the years. Appearances by Richard Meltzer, Zachary Schomburg, Emily Kendal Frey, Chelsea Martin, Zoe Trope, and more. Plus, of course, there will be drinking and a whole bunch of books for sale.
Where: Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate
When: 8:00 pm
Cost: Free

Sunday, September 26th
Inflectionsim is a poetic movement grown out of discussions among three Portland poets: John Sibley Williams, A. Molotkov, and Shawn Austin. They sought more organic poetry that respected both poet and reader, both words and interpretation. The founders don't seek to control the definition of Inflectionism but encourage other poets to discover their own definitions.
Where: St. John's Booksellers, 8622 N Lombard
When: 2:00 pm
Cost: Free

Tuesday, September 28th
Join us tonight for a reading by Tao Lin to celebrate the release of his second novel, Richard Yates (Melville House, 2010). Richard Yates is named after real life writer Richard Yates, but has little to do with him. Instead, it tracks the relationship between writer Haley Joel Osment, a New Yorker in his early twenties, and Dakota Fanning, his 16-year-old lover. Tao Lin is an American poet, novelist, short story writer, and artist. He is the author of five books of fiction and poetry.
Where: Reading Frenzy, 921 SW Oak
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: Free (and so is the beer!)

Wednesday, September 29th

Guillermo del Toro, one of Hollywood's most popular and imaginative storytellers and the creator of the Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth, presents The Fall, the new book in his vampire epic. The event is co-sponsored by the Northwest Film Center's School of Film.
Where: Bagdad Theater, 3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: $26.99, includes admission and a copy of The Fall

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: The Lion Tamer

A lion tamer at Bertram Mills Touring Circus. Edward G. Malindine.

Write whatever comes to you! Fiction, non-fiction, long or short. Share what you come up with with us. Either leave it as a comment, or email it to us at

Monday, September 20, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: The Square Bracket

The square bracket is a common sight among parentheses, but it remains one of the less frequently used types of punctuation. Square brackets, or usually just brackets (in the United States), are defined by the Chicago Manual of Style as "used mainly to enclose material—usually added by someone other than the original writer—that does not belong to the surrounding text. In quoted matter, reprints, anthologies, and other non-original material, square brackets enclose editorial interpolations, explanations, translations of foreign terms, or corrections. Sometimes the bracketed material replaces rather than amplifies the original word or words."

That's a lot to handle at once. Aside from their most common use, brackets have a few other places where they would show up. Let's take a look at each with an example sentence.

1. In quoted material, brackets are used to include matter not written by the original author and not belonging to the surrounding text. Example: They [the student body] were against the new schedule changes.

2. In translations, brackets are used to include a phrase or word in the original language. Example: They studied society [Gesellschaft] and community [Gemeinde] in their class.

3. Brackets function as parentheses inside of parentheses. If you need to put something in parentheses, but you are already working inside parentheses, just use brackets. Example: (She didn't know how [or even when] it had all happened.)

4. Brackets can be used to include the phonetic transcription of something. Example: He used the phonetic [fənɛtɪk] transcription in his paper.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Saturday, September 18th
Q Poetry Night with Elaina M. Ellis: Join us for another night of some of the best queer poetry in the Northwest with one of Seattle's favorite queer poets. Elaina is a teacher at Bent Writing Institute and is the founder of TumbleMe Productions. The Q Poetry Night will also feature an open mic for everyone who would like to get up on the stage and share their work.
Where: The Q Center, 4115 N. Mississippi Ave
When: 6:30 pm
Cost: $5 suggested donation

Sunday, September 19th
Please come out to see the renowned poet Eileen Myles read from her new poet's novel, Inferno. Part of the Smorg Reading Series. Food, beer, wine, and espresso are all available at The Waypost.
Where: The Waypost, 3120 N. Williams Ave
When: 7:30 pm
Cost: Free

Tuesday, September 21st
Zinesters Talking: Zines Go To School. Educators Bobi Blue of Fir Ridge High School, Julie Hoffer of Open Meadow High School, and Leanne Grabel of the Rosemont school share tips about how they integrate zines into their classrooms. Learn how making, reading, and sharing zines can change students lives!
Where: Belmont Library, 1038 SE 39th Ave
When: 6:30 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, September 22nd
Kim Fay, joined by her sister and best Vietnamese girlfriend, set off to taste as much as possible while exploring the rituals and traditions, street cafes, and haute cuisine of her favorite country. The three women discovered a society shaped by its ever-changing relationship with food. The result of their journey is a new book: Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam. Tonight's event will include a talk by Kim, a slide presentation, and food!
Where: Broadway Books, 1714 NE Broadway
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Hop in...

Write whatever you are inspired to, be it fiction or truth. Tell us what you come up with! Post it as a comment here, or email it to us at

Monday, September 13, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: For example, that is...

I.e., e.g., what's the difference? How do you know when to use one as opposed to the other? The quick trick is this: e.g. offers examples of things, i.e. indicates further clarification. The long story is, i.e. and e.g. originate from Latin terms, id est ("that is") and exempli gratia ("for example"), respectively. Or, to put it more simply, just remember that e.g., which starts with an E, gives an example. I.e., which begins with I, is more like saying "in other words."

Let's take it into context. If I were to say, "I like eating seafood, i.e., salmon and scallops," the use of i.e. indicates that I only like salmon and scallops. But if I were to say, "I like eating seafood, e.g., salmon and scallops," the use of e.g. just provides an example. I could also like eating crab and shrimp, and salmon and scallops were just an example of some of the seafood I like.

There are some general rules to remember about using i.e. and e.g.:

- Don't italicize them! Even though they are abbreviations, they are
considered a standard in the English language.

- Always use a period after each letter. They are abbreviations, after

- Use a comma following the use of either abbreviation. Seriously, five out of six style guides recommend it.

In the end, just remember to have fun. If remembering when to use i.e. and when to use e.g. hurts your brain a little too much, or you find yourself constantly doubting and double checking, you can always skimp on the fancy abbreviations and just say "in other words" and "for example."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Sunday, September 12th
At this collective reading, we'll reflect on the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and discuss the ways people were moved to restore the beauty and bring healing in the face of community tragedy. Local authors Tom Spanbauer, Tami Lynn Kent, Jessica Maxwell, Sara Guest, and Jennifer Lauck will read from their work.
Where: Powell's Books on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne
When: 4:00 pm
Cost: Free

Sunday, September 12th
Portland Poetry Slam with Tara Brenner. We're back kiddies with another big badass show. We've got an open slam where eight poets slug it out for fifty bucks and the adoration of the crowd as well as the last two spots in our semi-final on 9/26. Also an open mic. 7:30 sign ups, all ages.
Where: Backspace, 115 NW 5th
When: 8:00 pm
Cost: Free, $5 suggested donation

Tuesday, September 14th
The library welcomes women of color making zines! Whether you currently publish a zine or have always dreamed of making one, learn, share, and network with Tonya Jones to create a presence of women of color in the zine world. Tonya Jones is a zinestar who has taught workshops for women of color at the Portland Zine Symposium and Portland State University.
Where: North Portland Library, 512 N Killingsworth
When: 6:30 pm
Cost: Free

Tuesday, September 14th
Reconciling queerness with religion is an enormous challenge—especially when the religion is Orthodox Judaism. In the groundbreaking new anthology Keep Your Wives Away From Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires, Miryam Kabakov brings together the first-person accounts of fourteen lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women as they shed new light on the experiences of individuals and communities who live at the intersection of conflicting sexual and religious identities.
Where: In Other Words, 8 B NE Killingsworth
When: 7 - 9:00 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Photo Story Prompy: One Foggy Night

Write whatever you think of: fiction or non, poetry or prose. Let us know what you come up with! Post it below as a comment, or email it to us at

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Circus Wagon

Andrew S. Fuller, one of our Ink-Filled Page authors, has just published a novella! In The Circus Wagon, Christopher Epstein grapples with uneasy nightmares of the old antique carnival wagon from his grandmother's backyard, and the helpless certainty that something more terrible has followed him out of the past.

Published by Damnation Books, The Circus Wagon is also available for purchase on Amazon as a Kindle Edition.

Editorial Tip of the Week: Well Versus Good

When was the last time someone asked how you were, then corrected one of your "I'm good!" responses by telling you it should be "I'm well!"? I know it has happened to me often enough that even when someone else gives a "good" response, that little corner of my mind is triggered. The idea is that well is an adverb (so it modifies a verb) and good is an adjective (and modifies nouns). But not so fast! Saying "I'm good!" isn't always wrong. The key to sorting all this out is in understanding linking verbs versus action verbs.

Action verbs are easy: they describe actions (run, jump, dive). To describe an action verb, you use an adverb, such as well. Linking verbs, on the other hand, are less about action and more about connecting words together. Hence the linking. Got it? Let's look at a couple linking verbs just in case: to be, is, look, am, appear, become, and sense related verbs like smell and feel. There are occasions where you will run into linking verbs that can also function as action verbs; in this case, try replacing the verb with to be or is. If the sentence still makes sense, you have a linking verb on your hands.

Now why did you just learn all that? The trick to why saying "I am good" is correct is right there in the linking verb. It's common, and standard, to use adjectives (such as good) after linking verbs. In that case, they become predicate adjectives, referring back to the noun that comes before the linking verb (the I in "I am good"). Saying "I am well" is using well as a predicate adjective also. In this sense, well more often refers to your health and feeling well. Therefore, on a general happy day, it is absolutely appropriate to respond with "I'm good."

Friday, September 03, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Tuesday, September 7th
Zinesters Talking: Le Cheap, C'est Chic. Talk and interact with independent publishers sharing their work with you. Chelsea Baker (Olympia) presents Cheap Cookin': A Beginners Guide to Affordable Cooking, and Raleigh Briggs (Seattle) shows how to Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills.
Where: Central Library, US Bank Room, 801 SW 10th Ave
When: 6:30 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, September 8th
Star E Rose Open Poetry Jam! Come on down to the Star E Rose and bring those words you have hidden in the back of your closet, your journal you write in while sipping chamomile. The Star E Rose Cafe is a safe and cozy place and we welcome all walks of life as long as you do not use words or actions that may hurt others. Be respectful and be respected. We look forward to hearing you all speak!
Where: Star E Rose, 2403 NE Alberta
When: 6:00 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, September 8th
Come celebrate the Death Magazine No. 2 release with Forrest Martin and friends! Loud music + free beer + your first opportunity to peruse and purchase the print version in person. Life is a relationship with fleetingness, and Death Magazine is a tri-annual magazine that speaks to this; a curated journal which asks writers and visual artists to address the topic however they wish, in whatever tone.
Where: Reading Frenzy, 912 SW Oak
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: Free

Thursday, September 9th
Smalldoggies Reading Series PDX001: one musical guest, three writers performing and reading poetry, fiction, and more. Featured readers include Donald Dunbar, Eirean Bradley, Kathleen Lane, and special guests. Music by Sassparilla.
Where: Cafe Magnolia, 1522 SE 32nd Ave
When: 8:00 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Beauce Carnaval Carousel

Write what comes to you! Let us know what you come up with. Post it below as a comment or send it to us via email at

Monday, August 30, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: The DL on POV

Point of view: an essential building block for any work of writing. But how much time do you spend thinking about it? Your choice of point of view can be an important tool for engaging your reader and revealing your characters. Let's reviews the choices:

First Person
Utilizes "I," as in: I went to the store today. I felt uneasy around the shoppers. First person is sometimes considered the easiest point of view, but it requires a great amount of understanding to work with. Because the entirety of your story must be conveyed through the one character, your perspective is limited. You are in danger of telling more often than showing. First person point of view provides a greater intimacy and is quite reader friendly, just be careful you are wielding it well.

Third Person
Relies on he, she, or they to tell the story (usually in past tense) and is quite common across all genres. Example: She wanted to go out last night to support her friends and felt guilty for feigning an illness to stay in instead. The story is told through one character and as with first person perspective, you are limited to what that character sees, hears, feels, experiences, or knows.

Allows for an all seeing, God-like perspective on the story, with the perspective jumping from character to character (remaining in one character's head one at a time). This perspective can be very revealing for readers, but is a handful to manage as the author. Omniscient perspective requires diligent attention to keep characters straight and reveal information through the right characters at the right time.

Second Person
Look for second person point of view in "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. This is the least commonly used point of view. Nobody wants to be told what they are feeling or what to do, and this is precisely what second person point of view hinges on: you. Most often executed in present tense, second person relies on the "you are..." perspective. Example: You are walking through the park and feel a sense of euphoria. The sun warms your face and you smile.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Saturday, August 28th
Locally grown poetry at the Hollywood Farmers Market, final reading for summer 2010: Frances Payne Adler (10:30 am) and Judith Barrington (11:30 am). The two poets go on when musicians take breaks. Come on over while you shop for heirloom tomatoes, purple potatoes, sweet berries, and extremely lovely lettuce; eat breakfast burritos, crepes, and cookies while good words come beaming out at you.
Where: Hollywood Farmers Market, NE Hancock at 44th
When: 10:30 am and 11:30 am
Cost: Free

Saturday and Sunday, August 28th & 29th
Portland Zine Symposium! A conference and zine social exploring facets of independent publishing and DIY culture. The PZS aims to promote greater community between diverse creators of independent publications and art.
Where: Peter W. Stott Main Gym, Portland State University
When: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cost: Free

Tuesday, August 31st
Please join us to hear two terrific authors, Matt Love and Willy Vlautin, read from their latest works and be generally entertaining. Matt's latest book, is Gimme Refuge: The Education of a Caretaker. The book tells the passionate story of his teaching career, his experience as a caretaker of the 600-acre Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and his awakening as an Oregonian.
Where: Broadway Books, 1714 NE Broadway
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: Free

Friday, September 3rd
Reading and signing with William Upski Wimsatt in celebration of his third book, Please Don't Bomb the Suburbs. Wimsatt weaves a first-person tour of America's cultural and political movements from 1985–2010. It's a story about love, growing up, a generation coming of age, and a vision for the movement young people will create in the new decade. Wimsatt was honored as a "Visionary" by Utne Reader, and included in The Source's "Power 30" list.
Where: Reading Frenzy, 921 SW Oak
When: 7:00 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: A Place Called Banda Café

Write whatever comes to you! Post it as a comment or email it to us at

Monday, August 23, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Hyphen and the Dashes

Mistaking a hyphen for an en dash is an easy thing to do. Singular hyphens are even frequently used in place of em dashes, either by mistake or through lack of understanding. It is generally known that two hyphens are representative of an em dash, like this: --. Before we go on, let's clarify what the three look like:

hyphen -
en dash –
em dash

Though readers may not easily recognize the difference between these, especially the hyphen and en dash, proper use is necessary for editorial precision. Conversion errors from one software to another, through email, or from print to digital form are common with hyphens and dashes, so careful proofreading is important to ensuring you have all your dashes and hyphens where they should be.

But what if you don't know which is which just by sight? Here's a quick refresher:

Em dash: the dash. An em dash is a dramatic punctuation mark; it interrupts the flow of the sentence and introduces extra material. It is called "em" because, traditionally, the dash is as long as the width of a typeset capital letter M.

En dash: the least frequently used of all three. Most commonly it is used to indicate a range of inclusive numbers. For example: Charlie will be out of the office from December 9
–January 17th. It is called "en" because, traditionally, the dash is as long as the width of a typeset capital letter N.

Hyphen: used in compound modifiers (long-term relationship), to write out numbers (sixty-four), or within words (T-shirt, re-press). A dictionary is often helpful when you can't decide whether or not a hyphen is necessary in a word.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Monday, August 23rd
Julia Holmes at Powell's on Hawthorne. In her dystopian debut, a hapless bachelor must quickly find a wife--and a nice suit--or lose his freedom forever. Meeks (Small Beer Press) is a dark satire rendered with the slapstick humor of a Buster Keaton film.
Where: Powell's Books, 3723 SE Hawthorne
When: 7:30 pm
Cost: Free

Thursday, August 26th
Zines on Toast tour! Alex Wrekk will be joined by UK zinesters Isy Morgenmuffel, Edd Baldry, Steve Larder, Tom Fiction, and Natalie who will regale you with an evening of entertainment and information about UK zine culture.
Where: Reading Frenzy, 921 SW Oak
When: 7 pm
Cost: Free

Friday, August 27th
Come celebrate the release of Northwest Passage: 50 Years and Independent Music from the Rose City, a book and audio CD highlighting the history of Portland's burgeoning music scene, with short talk by Marc Moscato and Erin Yanke from the Dill Pickle Club. Feature contributors include the Oregon Historical Society, Mississippi Records, PDX Pop Now, Calvin Johnson, Vanessa Renwick, and more.
Where: Reading Frenzy, 921 SW Oak
When: 7 pm
Cost: Free

Friday, August 27th
Write Around Portland is releasing their 33rd anthology--titled Follow Me, Move the World--of community writing by adult and youth summer 2010 writing workshop participants. We invite the public to attend this reading of the writers' powerful work.
Where: First United Methodist Church (Collins Hall), 1838 SW Jefferson
When: 6:30-8:30 pm
Cost: Free, donations are accepted

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: A Few Bikes

Write what comes to you! Post it below or email it to us at

Monday, August 16, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: What's the Point?

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

-- Rule number one of eight in Kurt Vonnegut's rules for writing a short story, from Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction.

A common problem with short stories (or any fiction, really) is a dreadful one: a story with no point. As much as your reader wants to see well-developed characters and engaging action, they also want to be able to pinpoint why they are reading and why you were writing. This isn't to say that every work of fiction should be one of Aesop's fables or conquer some sort of grandiose theme, but your reader should be able to come away with as much of a sense of importance as you had when writing.

In Jack Bickman's book, The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes, he discusses logic in relation to fiction and the importance of the whys of each part of your story: "Because fiction is make-believe, it has to be more logical than real life if it is to be believed. In real life, things may occur for no apparent reason. But in fiction you the writer simply cannot ever afford to lose sight of logic and let things happen for no apparent reason."

As a general rule, you want your reader to be able to easily grasp the point of your story. Be sure you answer all of the "why" of your story. Write about things that matter to you; if you really don't care, the reader will be able to tell. Write with passion. Spice up your characters, make them human, even throw a hardship or two at them. Develop a new take on a subject, or whatever you need to do to give your story a reason to be.

Without that, you have nothing that lingers after the reader finishes your story. The second the last page is turned, your reader could be thinking about when the laundry will be finished, what they will have for lunch tomorrow, etc. With all of the things we invest our time in, make your story one that the reader will not regret. And if you're lucky, it just might be the new topic over coffee or at the dinner table.

Volunteer for Wordstock!

Calling all Wordstock Volunteers Past, Present, and Future

Wordstock 2010 is right around the corner, and we need you! Current volunteer opportunities include escorting authors to their readings, assisting with book signings, managing stages, staffing information booths, selling merchandise, and much more.

If you would like to help up put on a great festival, click here to sign up. You can also access the form through the Wordstock website. Click on "Get Involved" at the top of the homepage, and then click on "Volunteer." Feel free to sign up for more than one shift, a whole day, or the entire weekend.

Without volunteers, Wordstock would not be possible. We hope to see you this year. If you have any questions, email the volunteer coordinators at The festival is October 9-10 at the Oregon Convention Center.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Saturday, August 14th
The 3rd annual Letterpress Printers Fair is an outdoor event celebrating letterpress, printers, and appreciators. Featuring demos, print shops, suppliers, resources, cards, ephemera, and more.
Where: 323 SE Division Place
When: 11 am - 5 pm
Cost: $2 before 2 pm, free after 2 pm

Saturday, August 14th
The Market Day Poetry series, a collaboration with the St. Johns Farmers Market, will be featuring readings by Jesse Lichtenstein and Ericka Recordon.
Where: St. Johns Booksellers, 8622 N. Lombard
When: 12-1 pm
Cost: Free

Tuesday, August 17th
Benefit to help raise funds to demolish the church that housed Phil Wikelund's Great Northwest Bookstore, which burned down this past May. Featuring live music, poetry, comedy, and a silent auction.
Where: Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside
When: doors at 5 pm, show at 5:30 pm
Cost: $15 advance, $18 day of (21+)

Wednesday, August 18th
Christopher Luna and Toni Partington will be here for the Figures of Speech reading. As always, open mic, a writing prompt, cookies, and other fun. Toni Partington lives and works as a poet, editor, visual artist, and life/career coach in Vancouver, Washington. She is co-founder and editor, with Christopher Luna, of Printed Matter Vancouver, an editing and small press service. Christopher Luna is a poet, visual artist, and performer with an MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.
Where: 100th Monkey, 110 SE 16th Ave
When: 7 pm
Cost: Free

Thursday, August 19th
In her candid memoir Composed, acclaimed singer and songwriter Rosanne Cash writes about her upbringing in Southern Carolina as the child of country legend Johnny Cash, and of her relationships with her mother and her famous stepmother, June Carter Cash.
Where: Bagdad Theater, 3702 SE Hawthorne
When: 7 pm
Cost: $26.95 (includes admission and a copy of Composed)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Shulman's Market

Shulman's Market, at the southeast corner of N Street and Union Street, Washington, D.C., between 1941 and 1942. Louise Rosskam.

Write whatever comes to you, fiction or otherwise. Tell us what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below, or email it to

Monday, August 09, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Splice It Up

The comma splice is a common mistake, I've been guilty of it myself plenty of times. Did you catch that one? With so many ways to use commas, things can get a bit tricky. A comma splice is the joining together of two main clauses with a comma (incorrect), instead of a conjunction, semicolon, or period. Luckily, the answer to correcting your comma splices is right there in the definition. So let's take it one by one:

1. Coordinating Conjunctions

Most commonly, commas are used to separate two main clauses connected by a coordinating conjunction. In other words, if you're joining two things that could function as independent sentences, you need to be using something like "and," "but," or "or." Example:

Charlie ran into the backyard, and Maggie searched for the bones.

Both work on their own as complete sentences. To combine them with a comma, simply add in a coordinating conjunction. Without the coordinating conjunction, you have a comma splice: Charlie ran into the backyard, Maggie searched for the bones.

2. Semicolons

If the two clauses are closely related, a semicolon can be used to splice them:

Charlie ran into the backyard; he was looking for bones.

These two things can exist as individual sentences: Charlie ran into the backyard. He was looking for bones. Because the two are related, they can be joined with a semicolon.

3. Periods

When you are aware of a comma splice, it's very easy to fix them. Because the splice joins together two main clauses, those two can be separated into individual sentences. Simply use a period where the comma was:

Charlie ran into the backyard. Maggie searched for the bones.

Give it a try yourself. Each comma splice has it's own personality, so one way to fix it may be better than another. Some instances will lend themselves more to coordinating conjunctions, while others may not make sense with a conjunction.

There is always the question of stylistic writing: should writers be allowed to use comma splices and other mistakes for the sake of their art? Every once in a while, someone skirts the rules and is still a successful author, but it's much more common that your punctuation and grammatical mistakes are unintentional. For the sake of your readers (and editors!), stick by the rules.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Summer 2010 Release

We are honored to showcase these talented authors and their unique works in the Summer 2010 issue of Ink-Filled Page. These pieces stood out for their innovative methods of expression, creating a varied landscape of thoughts and ideas. Though they are vastly different in form and content, it happens that, by subconscious choice or mere coincidence, each work examines the relationship between identity and the conditions which build it. Join these authors as they explore the roads that lead to who we are. Featured authors include Lisa Marie Basile, Sandra Argüello Borbón, Rebecca Bornstein, Terra Chapek, Lesley Kimball, and Gretchen Van Lente. Art contributions by Claudia Martin, Cassandra Marie Hrapchak and Ericsson San Pablo Chu, and Christopher Woods.

Read the free preview here.

Spotlighted Literary Events

Saturday, August 7th
2nd Annual NW Book Festival. Over 50 Northwest authors gather in Pioneer Courthouse Square today to sign books, sell books, and chat about their books, many of which are self-published. Information about some of the individual authors is listed here.
Where: Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW 6th
When: 11 am - 7 pm
Cost: Free

Sunday, August 8th
Kids Comic Jam! Open to the public (youth 10-17 years old only). Come and hang out with other comic artists, play comics games and go home with a sample zine of comics. Drop in, no registration needed. Snacks are provided.
When: 2-4 pm
Cost: Free

Monday, August 9th
The former editor of the Portland Review put together this promising collection of work from established and up-and-coming Portland writers. Tonight features readings from BT Shaw, Emily Kendall Frey, Justin Hocking, Zachary Schomburg, and more.
Where: The Press Club, 2621 SE Clinton
When: 7 pm
Cost: Free

Wednesday, August 11th

Esther K. Smith, author and co-designer of How to Make Books, Magic Books & Paper Toys, and The Paper Bride will discuss her books, her art press, and show us how to make origami-based snake books! Please bring a few magazines to re-use or other paper you'd like to incorporate into your book, a bone folder if you have it, scissors, and something to draw or stamp with, we'll provide the rest!
Where: Reading Frenzy, 921 SW Oak
When: 7 pm
Cost: Free

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Monday, July 26th
Matt Lauer calls author Jeff Yeager "the ultimate cheapskate." With the publication of his book, The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches, it is obvious that Lauer meant this as a compliment.
Where: Annie Bloom's Books, 7834 SW Capitol Highway
When: 7:30pm
Cost: Free

Monday, July 26th
Temra Costa reads from Farmer Jane, a hands-on guide for getting involved in the sustainable food movement. She profiles thirty women in the sustainable food industry, illustrating the amazing changes they are making in how we connect with food. Co-sponsored by Edible Portland. At Powell's City of Books on Burnside.
Where: 1005 W Burnside
When: 7:30pm
Cost: Free!

Thursday, July 29th
This month's Back Fence storytelling event centers around the topic of "he said, she said," with the same story being told from two different perspectives. Free treats from Saint Cupcake!
Where: The Mission Theatre, 1624 NW Glisan
When: Doors at 6pm
Cost: $14

Saturday, August 7th
Practice the art and balance of description – not too much, not too little - as you look for the small details that allow a reader an entrance into a room, a conflict, a psyche. The Devil’s in the Details, a workshop led by Kim Taylor. To register, contact Portland Writers.
When: 1pm - 3:30pm
Where: SW Portland
Cost: $25

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Have A Seat

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

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Position Is All

Each issue of Poets & Writers Magazine includes Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begins. This first sentence, possibly the most important in your work, opens the door to draw in the reader. In fact, you hope it can reach out and drag passersby off the streets and into this new-made world of yours. It can be dramatic, teasing, funny, quirky, ominous, or mysterious. It can be concise or else present a fully developed scene. It can be a line of dialog, internal or external. Most of us find the opening sentence for our work when we edit, and we may find it lurking on page two or three.

I can still hear Lois Hudson explaining "commanding position." She wanted us to consider the opening of each paragraph and—more important—the last, reminding us not to let that last sentence wander off or fade away instead of ending with a word that matters and, except for the last sentence of a section or work, providing a transition to the next paragraph.

Here's how M.F.K Fisher uses position in "The Measure of My Powers," one of the essays in A Life Through Meals.

Opening sentence: "The first thing I remember tasting and then wanting to taste again is the grayish-pink fuzz my grandmother skimmed from a spitting kettle of strawberry jam."

And the first sentence in a later paragraph: "She was a grim woman, as if she had decided long ago that she could thus most safely get to heaven."
Last sentence: "Sometimes she let me pull stems off the cherries, and one year when I was almost nine I stirred the pots a little now and then, silent and making myself as small as possible."
Transitional sentence that begins the next paragraph: "But there was no nonsense anyway, no foolish chitchat."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Seattle Art Museum's 32nd Annual Betty Bowen Award

The Seattle Art Museum is currently seeking entries for this year's Betty Bowen Award!

Submitting your work lets you introduce your art to SAM Curators and the Betty Bowen Committee. Two artists are also selected to act as part of the following year's selection committee. This fantastic opportunity is open to residents of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho and the deadline is August 1st.

For more information about the award and how to apply, go to

Friday, July 16, 2010

Be Part of the PDX Bridge Festival

Bring a bridge poem, and take your place at the microphone.
Sunday, July 25th, 4pm
Powell's on Books on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Paulann Petersen will begin this event with a few words about poems as bridges Then the Powell's stage is open to you. Here's your chance to pick your favorite Portland bridge and write a poem to or for it. Sharon Wood Wortman, the Bridge Festival organizer, says that at this reading,"metaphors are welcomed and encouraged! This is an opportunity to expand the definitions and limits of the roles bridges play in our

"Aerial photo of bridges radiating like spokes." For more information, see the PDX Bridge Festival website.

Spotlighted Literary Events

Monday, July 19th
Julia Whitty explores the three-dimensional ocean river, far more powerful than the Nile or the Amazon, encircling the globe. She reads from "Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean," At Powell's Books on Hawthorne.
When: 7:30pm
Where: 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Cost: Free!

Saturday, July 24th
Sign up to read your own work or a favorite poem at the Poetry Picnic in Scott Park, behind the Ledding Library. Part of the Milwaukie Daze celebration.
When: 2pm - 4pm
Where: 10660 SE 21st Ave, Milwaukie
Cost: Free!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Point Wilson Light Station

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

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!

"Point Wilson Light Station, Harbor Defense Way, Port Townsend vicinity, Jefferson, WA. General view of light station, fuel storage building, and fog-signal, looking north."

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HAER WA-171-7
Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Quote, Unquote

Dialogue can be a great way to tell a story. It allows your reader to pick up on details that would otherwise have to be blatantly explained. Dialogue gives characters their personality. If done well, a character will go from flat to round by way of the things they say and the way they interact with other characters. Conversation in literature can help you avoid long-winded, adjective-ridden descriptions of the weather, the setting, or the characters' moods. It is a useful tool, but it's important to keep some things in mind.

1.) Don't follow every line with, "he said", or "she said." These are also known as dialogue tags. An abundance of these will give the piece an unfortunate and irritating rythm, especially if the lines are short. If there are more than two people speaking, you will need this clarification, but keep it to a minimum.

2.) When a "he said" or "she said" is necessary, don't add an adverb every time. This only exponentiates the unfortunate rythm mentioned in rule number 1.

3.) Replacing "said" with something like "gasped" or "responded" or "yelled" may seem like a clever disguise, but it's not. It's good to mix up your verbs, but know that a different word doesn't eliminate the annoyance of this excess. It will still come across as choppy no matter how rare the dialogue tag you choose is. Try to use these only when the character's tone could be misinterpreted.

4.) Break up your dialogue. There's nothing worse than 20 pages of non-stop conversation. You're not writing a screenplay. Talk about what the characters are doing as they speak. Are they eating? Jogging? Where are they?

5.) Don't throw in unnatural details. Your dialogue should mirror natural speech as much as possible. For example, if your characters a good friends, it doesn't make any sense to have them telling each other what they do for a living. You'll need to be subtle if you want these details to be told through dialogue. Trust your reader to make the necessary connections.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Friday, July 9th
Experience the diary as you've never seen it before at the release of Jesse Recklaw's Ten Thousand Things to Do. Multimedia comic diaries by Melinda Tracy Boyce, Clutch, Virginia Paine. Free beer! ,
When: 7pm
Where: Reading Frenzy, 921 SW Oak
Cost: Free

Saturday, July 10th
Rummage through books, CDs, and DVDs at bargain prices at the Garden Home Community Library used book sale this weekend.
When: 11am-3pm
Where: Garden Home Community Library, 7475 SW Oleson Rd.
Cost: varies

Monday, July 12th
Suzanne Rivecca reads from Death Is Not an Option, her debut collection about girls and women. From a college student who adopts a false hippie persona to find love, to a young memoirist who bumps up against a sexually obsessed fan, the characters in these fiercely original tales grapple with what it means to be honest with themselves and the world. At Powell's Books on Hawthorne.
When: 7:30pm
Where: 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Cost: Free

Thursday, July 15th
Andrew Beahrs reads from Twain's Feast, weaving passages from Mark Twain's works with his own journey through present-day America as he retraces Twain's accounts from a time when foods taken fresh from grasslands, woods, and waters were at the heart of American cooking. At Powell's City of Books on Burnside.
When: 7:30pm
Where: 1005 W Burnside
Cost: Free

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Watching the Grass Grow

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

Tell us what you come up with! Post your stories as a comment below or send them to

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Read It Aloud

Whether proofreading, revising, or polishing your work, you'll find it helps to read it aloud--or even shout it.

Ben Yagoda, in The Sound on the Page, tells this story:
Flaubert...would go out to an avenue of lime trees near his house and proclaim what he'd written at the top of his lungs, the better to see if the prose conformed to the ideal that was in his head.

For the same reason you may find yourself subvocalizing as you work on a particularly difficult section of your own work. And, something to keep in mind, your readers can also hear your words, whether or not they move their lips as they read.

So it's a good idea to test your text by reading it aloud or by asking someone else to read it aloud for you, one of the advantages of participating in workshops and critique groups. Another trick is to trade pages, each taking notes while the other reads.

Peter Elbow, in Writing With Power, reminds us how useful reading aloud can be in cutting out the clutter left from earlier drafts:
Look for places where you stumble or get lost in the middle of a sentence....where you get distracted or even bored....Cut through the extra words or vagueness or digression...Listen even for the tiniest jerk or stumble in your reading....for places where the words themselves seem to stop paying full attention to their own meaning.

And lastly, read each word out loud when you're proofreading. This takes concentration, because it's easy to unconsciously add the missing letters to a misspelled word or add the word you, or another writer, meant to put in. This is one time to avoid the process of co-creation that is part of the reader/writer relationship.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Wednesday, July 7th
Oregon Literary Review brings you great poetry and wine. Featured poets include Nicholas Karavatos, Pat Cason, and Indigo associate editor, Susan DeFreitas.
Where: 3519 NE 44th Ave.
When: 7pm
Cost: Free

Thursday, July 8th
What has happened to the world economy? With the kind of striking precision that only graphic nonfiction can provide, Understanding the Crash proceeds from that simple question that still haunts us. Seth Tobocman and Eric Laursen will be at Powell's Books on Hawthorne to explain just how we got into this mess — and how we can get out of it.
Where: 3723 SE Hawthorne
When: 7:30pm
Cost: Free

Sunday, July 11th
Open your senses and channel life’s sensual feast through your pen at a women-only workshop: Hot Summer Nights: Writing Erotica, with Alida Thacher and Allegra Heidelinde. Visit the Portland Writers website for registration and location and to find out about other July workshops.
Where: NE Portland
When: 1- 5pm
Cost: $50

Tuesday, July 13th
Portland Hearing Voices, a support network for sufferers of schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder will host a benefit featuring poets Emily Kendal Frey, Zachary Schomburg, and James Gendron, among others.
Where: Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th Ave.
When: 7pm
Cost: $10 donation

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Future Monthly Meetings with Veronica Esagui

Starting in October, author and television host, Dr. Veronica Esagui will be organizing monthly meetings and book readings for authors in the Portland area. They are likely to be held at Java Mama on Sundays at 2pm. More details to come. To stay connected and help plan these upcoming events, e-mail Dr. Esagui at

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: July 4,1940

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

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!

"One of the entrants in soapbox auto race during July 4th celebration at Salisbury, Maryland" by Jack Delano, 1940
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
[LC-USF33- 020624-M2]

2nd Annual Northwest Book Festival

Saturday, August 7th, 11am-7pm
Pioneer Courthouse Square

Now accepting applications from authors for 2010!

For more information, go to
Spread the word!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Adverbially Speaking

Using adverbs can be so satisfying. You're typing away and arrive at a crucial point. It is imperative that you make your reader understand the importance of the given thought, opinion, or description. Underlining is out of the question and you're certainly not going to utilize the caps lock. Maybe, that only makes the text look weak and unsure of itself. This point is too strong to be slanted and light.

And so you write something like, "It was completely and utterly ridiculous." Of course, "ridiculous" does a fine job of connoting not much of anything on its own, but that's a different editorial tip. What makes this sentence all the more useless are its adverbs. They add clutter, and what's worse, they make for a sense of empty passion. Of adverbs, literary critic Pat Holt writes, "These words promise emphasis, but too often they do the reverse. The suck the meaning out of every sentence."

Adverbs often accompany anger or frustration. That's why you can get away with them in conversation. If you're telling a story about something "completely and utterly ridiculous," the adverbs, though still empty, will tell your listener that you really, really mean it. Adverbs have a certain therapeutic quality, your sanity may feel dependent on them like a solid smack into a pillow or punching bag.

Try to approach your writing with more composure. Or, put all the adverbs in the first draft and when you're feeling more zen, delete them all. You will find that the passion you wish to convey will come across much stronger without the adverbial additions. Until there's some kind of universally understood typeface language that captures every mood, we'll have to settle for firm conciseness.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Monday, June 28th
Brett Easton Ellis reads from his new book, Imperial Bedrooms, the sequel to 1985's Less Than Zero.
When: 7:30pm
Where: Powell's Books, 1005 W Burnside
Cost: Free

Thursday, July 1st
The Basil Hallward Gallery presents original broadsides featuring writing from participants of Write Around Portland. Artists include Inge Bruggeman, Barbara Tetenbaum, and Sandy Tilcock. First Thursday: Ink and Impact, at Powell's City of Books on Burnside.
When: 6:30pm
Where: 1005 W Burnside
Cost: Free

July 10th-11th
Print Camp! at the Independent Publishing Resource Center. Learn a wide range of printing skills including screenprinting, letterpress, bookbinding and relief printing.
When: 7/10-7/11, 9am-5pm
Where: IPRC, 917 SW Oak Street
Cost: $150

Sunday, July 11th
Poetry of the Ordinary, is the first workshop of a July series offered by Willa Schneberg at her air-condtioned office. Participants will have the opportunity to respond to prompts, write in a supportive group atmosphere, and share a first draft with other participants. There will be time to critique poems you have previously written. Also in the July series: Writing the Political Poem (July 18) and Mastering the Poetic Sequence (July 25). For more information or to reserve a space, visit Willa's website.
When: 1pm - 4pm
Where: Pearl District
Cost: $40 / single workshop; $110 / three-workshop series

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: An Absolute Gem

Write whatever comes to you--long or short, fiction or otherwise.
Post your story in a comment below or send it to:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: All Together Now

Time to look at how all plays with other words:

When is all of necessary? Leave of at home when all modifies a noun. But when a pronoun follows, all of takes the lead, as in this example from Karen Elizabeth Gordon's, Torn Wings and Faux Pas: A Flashbook of Style, a Beastly Guide Thought the Writer's Labyrinth:
All the activities on board required social graces, so the second skipper was much obliged to skip all of them and skulk about the deck alone.

Already is old news. But if some one is prepared to do the deed, he or she is all ready.

Alright is not all right in polite company, but it may be found when folks are just hanging out. See Grammar Girl for a more thorough discussion.

All together is a phrase that means, "in a group" (think of the Beatles). But altogether is an adverb; think "completely" or "entirely.

Remember that distinction between phrase and adverb when you come to all ways and all most. Each is a two-word phrase, and the words can be rearranged. For example, "the path twisted all ways" or "keep to the path through all the ways it twists and turns."
Always and almost are adverbs. Almost means "at all times" or "forever." And almost means "nearly." Paul Brians keeps it interesting when he points out the difference between most always and almost always:
"Most always" is a casual, slangy way of saying "almost always."
Good to for writers to remember, because sometimes our characters need to loosen up.

Although takes precedence, opening a clause. Though is often used to link words and phrases. Again, quoting Karen Elizabeth Gordon, this time from "Out of the Loud Hound of Darkness":
Although we've never actually met, I feel I know you through and through ..."
Raving mad though I am about most of Manx Vulpino's work, ...

When in doubt, there's the Miriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary.