Friday, January 29, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Jan. 31st, 6:30 pm: The Moonstruck Literary Series commences this year featuring local poet Christopher Luna, musician Peter Zisa, and of course, chocolate. Hosted by Moonstruck Chocolates in downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Feb. 2nd, 6 pm: David Sax, author of Save the Deli, comes to Kenny and Zuke's Delicatessan to snack and share his foodie thoughts. $15 covers food and drink costs.

Feb. 2nd, 7 pm: Ellen Urbani, author of When I Was Elena, details writing memoirs in this month's Portland meeting of Willamette Writers at the Old Church (SW 11th and Clay) in Portland. $10 for non-members.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Film Story Prompt: Moonport, USA

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: "Florida Moonport USA" by Het Leven.
State Library and Archives of Florida, Florida Promotional Films, 1948-1978, [V-9; CA077; S.828].

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An Invitation to Read at Full Life Coffee Shop

Full Life Coffee Shop has opened its arms to Portland writers! The coffee shop, entering its ninth month of business, wants local talent to come read their stories during the weekly open mic sessions. Full Life sends this call for writers:

Full Life Coffee Shop would like to invite local authors, poets, and storytellers to come and give a live reading to our diverse audience.

Our Main Facility functions as an Arts and Rec program for adults with disabilities. Our coffee shop opened up in May and is open to the general public as well as the disabled population.

Every Wednesday from 10 am to 12 pm, we have an open mic for local writers to read original work. If you're interested, please call Miriam at (503) 234-0896, or just come by the shop.

Full Life Coffee Shop just won the Willamette Week Best Food for the Soul award for 2009. If you would like more information on Full Life Coffee Shop, please read this article from the Oregonian.

3331 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland OR 97232
Click for Map
Open Monday to Friday
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Let's Talk About Colons

Let's talk about the colon. No, not the digestive colon. The colon that is made up of two vertical dots for the purpose of introducing other elements that illustrate or amplify what precedes the colon. This type of colon can also be used in place of a period to introduce a series of related sentences. Or a colon can function as a semicolon between independent clauses to emphasize sequence.

The first word following a colon used within a sentence should be lowercase, unless of course it's a proper name. But when a colon introduces two or more sentences, the first word following the colon is capitalized.

Another creative and very practical use of the colon is to introduce speech in dialogue. (Notice the capitalization in this case.)
Michael: The incident has already been reported.
John: Then all is lost!

Similarly, colons are used for introductory phrases; a colon follows the identification of an address for formal speech or communication.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
To Whom It May Concern:

Colons are used commonly after words and phrases like the following, as follows, and other similar expressions. However, do not use a colon after the following words: namely, for example, and similar expressions.

Pretty straightforward, right? Insert colons before lists or to make introductions. And watch the capitalization. With that in mind, a colon is just as good as any other punctuation mark out there.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Jan. 25th, 7 pm: Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert comes to Portland to talk about the brand new sequel, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage at Portland's Bagdad Theater. Tickets are $27 at

Jan. 26th, 7 pm: New to the open-mic scene, NorthStar Coffeehouse hosts its weekly "no-mic" poetry night.

Jan. 27th, 6 pm: Oregon Book Award winner and nature writer John Daniel teams with Oregon Wild for a night celebrating "the wild." Daniel will read from The Far Corner, following by an informative presentation on protective legislation of Oregon forests by the Oregon Wild, at Roots Organic Brewing (1520 SE 7th Ave).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Paper Waterfall

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: "Krant per fax / Faxed newspaper" by Het Leven.
Nationaal Archief / Spaarnestad Photo / Het Leven / Fotograaf onbekend, SFA022813039.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: ???

I have a question. What is a question? A request for information, a request for affirmation, a request for courtesy. Does it always require a question mark? Well that depends on the question. Should be simple, right? There may be more to it than you originally thought.

Question marks are used for a few purposes according to Chicago: "to mark a direct question, to indicate an editorial doubt, or (occasionally) to express surprise or disbelief." A question mark always comes within a sentence at the end of the direct question, though this does not mean it will always come at the end of the sentence. For example: Is it worth the risk? he wondered. If the question does not begin the sentence, then the question should not begin with a capital letter: The question, how can the two be reconciled? was on everyone's mind.

A lot of questions are indirect and these never require a question mark. He wondered whether it was worth the risk. Though this example does imply a request for information or affirmation, it is asked indirectly. Some indirect questions within a sentence consist only of one word, such as who, when, how, or why. In these cases, there is no need for a question mark, but sometimes the word is italicized. An example: she asked herself why.

Ever heard of a courtesy laugh? Well, there are courtesy questions too, although they function a little differently. They are requests politely disguised as a question and do not require a question mark. Will the audience please rise is a courtesy question. So on that note: Would you kindly agree to these terms for using the question mark.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Jan. 17th: Happy Birthday to William Stafford!

Jan. 17th, 7-9 pm: The Writers' Dojo (7518 N. Chicago Ave., Portland) hosts "House of Words," with a writing/sharing activity, followed by information on the digital resources available at the William Stafford Archives for teachers, writers, and everyone else. Celebrate William Stafford's birthday this way with Kim Stafford and Stafford Writing Fellows Sara Guest and Jeff Coleman.

Jan. 18th, 7:30 pm: The Moth comes to Portland. A surprise lineup is in store for this storytelling event in which performers work without scripts, notes, or props. At Gerding Theater (128 NW 11th Ave.), $25.

Jan. 18th, 7:30 pm: Ursula K. Le Guin and editor Margaret Killjoy are both contributors to the collection of essays, Mythmakers and Lawbreakers. At Powell's City of Books they will discuss the political aspects of modern fiction.

Jan. 21st, 5:30 pm: Third Thursday Poets celebrates 6 years with its monthly reading from prominent area readers including Clem Starck and Tim Applegate. Held at The Tea Party Bookshop in Salem, OR.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Call for Student Submissions - Honoring Our River

Honoring Our River, an annual anthology of student-created art and writing, is currently seeking submissions from anyone from kindergarten to high school. This anthology focuses on a resource that touches the lives of many Oregonians, the Willamette River. Submissions for Honoring Our River must be postmarked by February 28.

Educators interested in getting their classes involved in this project can request a free watershed toolkit by emailing Honoring Our River. As the website states, the toolkit includes:

educational information on the Willamette River Watershed, a copy of the Willamette Legacy video, and a previous edition of Honoring Our River.

While the stories and artwork demonstrate a wide variety of themes, the students are asked to submit work that focuses on the effect of this natural resource, letting their work honor our river in some way. Honoring Our River offers students a topic for their creation, a catalyst for creativity. The anthology provides a way for students to publish their work, to get their name into the community.

A student may only submit one entry of art or writing for this anthology. If the student submits a story, he or she may also attach a work of art to accompany the piece. Students wishing to submit work should speak to their teachers about this project; the submission form requires a signature by the submitter's educator. You can download the entry form and guidelines for submission from the Honoring Our River website.

Honoring Our River - Call for Submissions
Seeking art and writing from grades K - 12
Must be postmarked by February 28
Entry form & guidelines found at:

Photo Story Prompt: Stellar Debris

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: "N49: Stellar Debris in the Large Magnetic Cloud" by Chandra X-ray Observatory. X-ray: NASA/CXC/Caltech/S. Kulkarni et al.; Optical: NASA/STScl/UIUC/Y.H. Chu & R. Williams et al.; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Gehrz et al.; Accession Number: n49.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Everybody Reads 2010: The Ghost Map

It's that time again: the eighth annual Everybody Reads event at Multnomah County Library. This year's book promises to be a great read: The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson, a gripping historical account of the violent cholera outbreak of 1854 London. A New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a national bestseller, the Washington Post calls The Ghost Map "a true page-turner."

Everybody Reads is sponsored by Beyond Fact, a partnership between Multnomah County Library and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The goal of Everybody Reads is to create dialogue within our communities. From the Web site: "What if everybody read the same book? We'd talk to each other about issues that matter, and we'd celebrate the power of books in creating a stronger community."

Pick up your free copy at any Multnomah County Library, download a copy from Library2Go, or purchase one at participating bookstores. But hurry; copies are going fast. When you're finished, pass the book off to a friend who wants to read it or return it to the library. For more information on Everybody Reads 2010, including related events and discussion groups, visit the MCL Web site:

Slash That!

The slash has many names--virgule, solidus, slant, forward slash--but we'll just call it a slash and appreciate it for its broad range of uses!

Most commonly, a slash is used to communicate alternatives; sometimes, it may be a helpful shorthand for or, for alternative spellings or names, or to mean and in certain contexts. He/she, his/her, and/or are very recognizable uses of the slash. An example in the context of shorthand is a Jekyll/Hyde personality or an MD/PhD student.

Sometimes a slash is used in the place of an en dash in dates (or in combination with the en dash). The slash indicates the last part of one year and the first part of the next. For example, The winter of 1966/67 was especially severe or The fiscal years of 1991/92-1998/99 were encouraging in several respects. And of course slashes are informally used in all-numeral dates (today is 1/11/10), although it can cause ambiguity and should be avoided in formal styles.

Slashes are also shorthand for per, as in rent is $600/week or the speed was 110 km/sec. A slash is also used with fractions to mean "divided by." Or in poetry, when two or more lines are quoted within regular text, a slash with a space on each side is used to show a line break.

Otherwise slashes do not require any spaces before or after the words or numbers they separate. No other rules are necessary with slashes; quick, easy, and useful! Just the way we like our punctuation.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Jan. 9th, 7 pm: Portland Storytellers Guild presents "From Our Table to Yours," a collection of songs and stories about peace and hope, at the Kennedy School (5736 NE 33rd Ave. Portland). Suggest $5/person donation.

Jan. 9th, 7 pm: Ink-Filled Page Red Anthology reading at Pilot Books in Seattle, WA. Featured readers include Seattle-area contributors Ian Sanquist and Jordan Skyler.

Jan. 11th, 7:30 pm: Ink-Filled Page Red Anthology reading at Powell's Books on Hawthorne, featuring Andrew S. Fuller, Sandra Arguello, and Rose Owen.

Jan. 13th, 6:30 pm: Poetry potluck at Cover to Cover Books in Vancouver, WA., celebrating 3 years of open-mic Thursdays.

Jan. 13th, 7:30 pm: Ink-Filled Page Red Anthology reading at St. John's Booksellers, featuring Portland writers Andrew S. Fuller, Rose Owen, and Cecilie Scott.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Foolish House

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: "Foolish House, Ontario Beach Park in 1910" by Charles C. Zoller.
George Eastman House Collection, Accession Number 1982:2049:0065.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Resolving Problematic Words

Considering it's a new year, my writing resolution is to clear up problematic words and phrases in my writing. I'm tired of sitting in front of the computer screen and stressing over whether to use bring or take. This, among others, is a question that needs to be answered, once and for all.

Bring and take cause a lot more trouble than they should, even for some expert writers. Here's the distinction: where is the action directed? If the action of the sentence is directed away from you, use take; if the action is directed toward you, use bring. For example, you would take out the trash or take the cake to the party. However, you would always ask someone to bring a salad to dinner (if it's at your house), or teachers ask their students to bring their books to class.

That and which are sometimes so tricky that people don't even try anymore to use the right one; they may just make a guess and hope for the best! But Chicago tries to make it easier to make the right choice between these two relative pronouns. For this one, that is used restrictively (it narrows a category or identifies a particular item) and which is used non-restrictively (it adds to an item, rather than narrows it).

Chicago states that those who are somewhat insecure in their grammar may use whom where who is appropriate. Certainly none of our readers have ever done that! And Chicago asks writers and editors alike to resist this tendency. In any case, who is a nominative pronoun and whom is an objective pronoun. Who appears as the subject of a finite verb or when it's following a linking verb. Whom may appear as the object of a verb or a preposition. Need examples? It was Jim who bought the coffee today. I learned nothing about the man whom I saw.

Here is another example of two words that are often confused or used incorrectly: further and farther. Luckily, when you know the rule, this is probably the easiest of all the problematic words to resolve. Use farther for a physical distance and further for a figurative distance.

As you can see, some of these problematic words are easily solved by interpreting the meaning of your sentence. Others, you have to know a little more about the parts of speech and their function in a sentence in order to pick the right word. My suggestion: keep a copy of Chicago and Webster close by at all times; with a little bit of digging, you should find the answers to all your word choice questions. But soon, you'll get the hang of it and never again second-guess whether you should ask people to bring or take snacks to your New Year's party.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Jan. 5th, 7 pm: William Stafford birthday celebration at the Newport Public Library (35 NW Nye Street, Newport, Oregon). Special presentation of Stafford's last recorded public reading. Attendees should also bring their favorite Stafford poem to read.

Jan. 5th, 7:30 pm: Christopher Hitchens, journalist and cultural critic, speaks as part of the Portland Arts and Lectures series. Hitchens was also a 2007 National Book Award nominee for God Is Not Great. Grab a seat at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (1037 SW Broadway) in Portland. Tickets are $30.

Jan. 7th, 7:30 pm: Nonfiction writer Daniel Nester reads from his new humorous collection entitled "How to be Inappropriate" at Powell's on Hawthorne.

*More Stafford birthday celebrations in the coming weeks!