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.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Saturday, June 19th
Powell's Books welcomes Janet Fletcher, author of the cookbook, Eating Local, who will be sharing recipes and discussing the importance of consuming fresh foods grown nearby. She is joined by one of the CSA farmers mentioned in the book.
Where: Pastaworks, 3735 SE Hawthorne
When: 6/19, 2pm
Cost: Free

Thursday, June 24th
Oregon's poet laureate, Paulann Petersen, will be reading along side Molly Gloss and Hannah Louise Poston and a wine and dessert bar at a release party for the latest issue of The Grove Review.
Where: The Writer's Dojo, 7518 N Chicago
When: 6/24, 7:30pm
Cost: Free, donations gladly accepted

Saturday, June 26th
Locally Grown at the Hollywood Farmers Market: Kirsten Rian reads in the first half of the morning, Sam Lohmann in the second. Both perform when the band takes breaks. More poets will be reading July 31 and August 28--stay tuned. Contact for poetry:
Where: NE Hancock between 44th & 45th Ave
When: 8am - 1pm
Cost: Free

Saturday, June 26th
Come for all or part of Soapstone's annual workday. We’ll be making kindling and starter logs from branches that fell during the winter, weeding and transplanting in the native plant restoration area, and clipping overhanging plants along the trails. For information, email
When: Starting at 11am, with a potluck dinner around 5pm
Where: Soapstone
Cost: Free

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Ferris Wheel

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!

"People on a ferris wheel, silhouetted against a setting sun."
©Travelling two |

Monday, June 14, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: Check Your List

What do you think of this sentence?

He ate a lot that day: Fritos, a frozen pizza, a box of Klondike bars, Laffy Taffy, plain cake doughnuts, a club sandwich, and a jar of pickles.

Do you appreciate it for its presentation of information by way of concrete images? Or does it seem superflous to specify what this person ate?

Let's take a minute to think about the "list sentence." I don't have a definite answer, this is more of an awareness piece.

Lists can be a way to juxtapose feelings and themes, as in, "She sat at the edge of a small cliff, surrounded by ivy, evergreens, moss, small birds and looked down at shopping carts, beer cans, tires and old pipes." But, it seems a bit cluttered, doesn't it? How does it compare to, "She sat at the edge of a small cliff surrounded by greenery, looking down on an assortment of trash,"? It lacks details, don't you think? So maybe it would be wise to break it up, give each noun a chance to shine on its own, "She sat at the edge of a small cliff, looking at the ivy. The evergreens towered above her. Moss cushioned her. She gazed down at the shopping carts that littered the hillside. The beer cans glistened in the sun. Tires and old pipes were strewn about like confetti on New Years."

Sometimes lists establish a certain kind of voice, you know, a listy voice. Because we list naturally in speech, it goes hand in hand with a conversational tone. Every once in a while a writer can pull off a structure in which lists enhance the piece, and don't distract from it.

As always, it is important to be conscientious. Just remember, using consecutive nouns to enhance meaning treads the dangerous ground of a reader's lost interest.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Friday, June 11th
Portland City Art and New Avenues For Youth host a celebration of youth work inspired by their lives on the street. Speakers, music, food/drink and a silent auction will be features of this benefit.
When: 6/11, 6:30-10pm
Where: New Avenues for Youth, 1220 SW Columbia
Cost: $50

Wednesday, June 16th
This month Figures of Speech features Sid Miller and Alison Apotheker, along with open mic, writing prompts, books, cookies and a new art show at the 100th Monkey.
When: 6/16, 7 pm
Where: 100th Monkey Studio, 110 SE 16th Ave
Cost: Free!

Thursday, June 17th
Lucy Jane Bledsoe reads at Powell's on Hawthorne from The Big Bang Symphony: a novel of Antarctica, the intertwined stories of three complex and independent women thrown together by a cargo plane crash in Antarctica. Book trailer.
When: 6/17, 7:30pm
Where: Powell's Books, 3723 SE Hawthorne
Cost: Free!

Saturday, June 26th
G. Xavier Robillard, author of Captain Freedom and creator of will be conducting a one-day workshop, FINDING YOUR ONLINE AUDIENCE at The Attic. Pick up some social media skills and develop your online presence!
When: 6/26, 2-4pm
Where: The Attic, 4232 SE Hawthorne
Cost: $45 in advance

Indigo's Next Day of Workshops

Our first day of workshops was a hit, so we're already planning our second. Mark your calendar for Saturday, August 21, and join us to hone your skills of writing across genres, attracting the attention your book deserves, and providing top-notch readings. Each class is limited to nine students, so register early!

Differently Abled: Using Tools Outside Your Genre to Break Through Blocks in Writing
10:30 a.m.–Noon
Instructor: Susan DeFreitas
Cost: $45*

Can the music of poetry inform the language of prose? Can fictive structures strengthen nonfictional narratives? Can the kind of character development normally associated with prose create stronger, more striking poems?

Yes, yes, and yes! In this workshop, we’ll examine ways that tools and techniques common to fiction, nonfiction, and poetry can work together to inform and strengthen one another.

Open to any and all writers, this workshop is likely to prove especially useful to those who already work in more than one genre. Come with pen and paper, and/or your laptop—leave with new insights, new writing, and new tools.

Susan DeFreitas is a writer whose work encompasses multiple genres and mediums. Her nonfiction has been published in Yes! Magazine; Natural Home; E, the Environmental Magazine; and The Utne Reader. Her poetry has appeared in The Bear Deluxe, Third Wednesday, and Southwestern American Literature, and her Web site of hypertext poetry and fiction,, went online in June of 2010. She is a recent transplant to Portland from Northern Arizona, where she served as an associate editor and monthly columnist for The Noise. Currently, she blogs on green technology for and is enrolled in the MFA in Writing program at Pacific University.

How to Make Your Book a Head Turner
2:40–4:10 p.m.
Instructor: Ali McCart
Cost: $45*

The key to publishing a book successfully is to make an impression. Every person involved in the process of publishing your book—agent, editor, publicist, reviewer, bookseller, and consumer—must be impressed with your words and your approach. This workshop will teach you tips on researching your book’s place in the market and tricks for making it stand out. We’ll include time to evaluate your current approach and to provide feedback on developing a book that will turn heads and open wallets.

Ali McCart has been evaluating authors’ methods since before she understood the term literary criticism. She has helped dozens of writers transform their books from wallflowers to knockouts—or, put in book terms, from spine-outs to face-outs—with simple accentuating techniques.

The Power Couples of Great Readings
2:40–4:10 p.m.
Instructor: Kristin Thiel
Cost: $45*

The age of the quiet writer is over, now that technology has shrunk our world and the economy has tightened the wallets of publishers and readers. And now that hermit heroes J. D. Salinger and Hunter S. Thompson have left the building. Authors need to be a part of public readings and other events—and that one you gave at the last campfire doesn’t count. Practice planning a great reading and then reading great with our strategies that are broken into three helpful power couples: Short and Sweet (or Sour); Free and Clear; and Bold and Bright. No one has reason to stand before potential book buyers grumbling, mumbling, or at a loss for words.

Kristin Thiel lives solidly in the introvert camp, but she loves giving successful readings and continues to be asked to the stage. She’s read on KBOO radio and in bookstores, at Multnomah County’s Central Library and at wine shops.

*Attend all three workshops for just $100. Each class is limited to nine students. All classes will be held at the Indigo office, 519 SW 3rd Ave., 5th floor conference room, Portland, Oregon.

Take advantage of these great prices to add to your knowledge base and to get to know our editors! E-mail to register.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Roller Door

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

Happy writing!

"Roller Door with ..."
© Heinschleb

Book Talk and Memoir Workshop Tomorrow Night


Book Talk and Memoir Workshop
Thursday, June 10th 7:00 pm – 8:00pm
4323 NE Fremont ST.
Portland, OR 97213

“At age 61, I was earning a Masters in Teaching degree. As part of my student teaching I taught a section on memoir writing to 8th graders. I thought ‘Hey this is fun,’ and so I began Some Days Chicken, Some Days Feathers.” Part of my mission is to get readers started on their own story. I will conduct a fun-filled, hands-on memoir workshop that will get you scribbling! Join us at Blackbird Wine Shop for a no-host nosh or glass of Chablis. I promise you some laughs along with giving you the tools to put your history into a format that will impress your family and friends."

Bob Ferguson, Author of:

Some Days Chicken, Some Days Feathers

A memoir that will grip the reader with memories of their child hood, the nostalgia of the '60s, college football, romance and the Vietnam experience up close and personal.

If you cross-pollinate the humor of Dave Barry with the sagacity of Robert Fulghum you will taste the flavor of my memoir, Some Days Chicken, Some Days Feathers. It begins with my earliest recollections in Oregon and ends as I am discharged from the Marine Corps due to Vietnam injuries. It is a comedy mixed with Greek tragedy, but really wants to be a musical as fun as Mama Mia.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Editorial Tip of the Week: What's up with THAT?

A few weeks ago, an intriguing grammatical topic came up in my Writing Careers for English Majors class. We had been discussing the problem areas in our writing--long sentences, commonly misspelled words, comma use and someone asked the professor what his written hang-up was. "I have problems with that," was his response. We all laughed, thinking he was referring to writing in general. What he was referring to was "that" as subordinative conjunction, also known as the aptly-named empty complimentizer. For example, when I wrote, "We all laughed, thinking he was referring to writing in general," I could have written, "We all laughed, thinking that he was referring to writing in general," and the meaning would be exactly the same. It was a strange moment, a room full of English majors, most of whom are working on a writing minor, and none of us could think of a reason for the extra word. The professor works at the Writing Center at PSU and has given this extensive thought and asked several colleagues. No one knows. In this context, it seems that "that" is simply decadent.

"That" often appears as an introduction to a restrictive clause as a relative pronoun. For example, "Audrey thinks that the sky is blue," vs. the non-restrictive version, "Audrey thinks the sky is blue." It is can also be used to connote an abstract distance as in , "this or that." It's primary function is as a demonstrative, as in, "That cat said hello, " or, "That dog was displeased." Though still vague, "that" gets props for establishing space and specifying which cat or dog one is discussing.

As for "that" as a subordinate conjunction, it's a matter of taste. If you like your sentences restrictive, by all means, indulge in the pointlessness. Its use does carry a certain proper, tea party quality. It can also enhance clarity in a long sentences, the pause that you hear in speech is a good place for a "that." The logic behind this variety of "that" remains a mystery, but it seems that it must serve a purpose, even if only to ease the transition from thought to text.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Spotlighted Literary Events

Saturday, June 5th
Oregon Encyclopedia editor-in-chief, Rick Hardt, hosts an event to brainstorm with the public about new additions to the book. Anyone is welcome to share their thoughts!
What: Libraries as Community Research Centers
When: June 5th, 10am-1pm
Where: Holgate Library, 7905 SE Holgate Blvd.
Cost: Free!

Saturday, June 5th
Frances McCue reads from her new book inspired by Richard Hugo's landscapes, The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs. (If you can’t make it Saturday evening, McCue will also read Sunday, June 6th, 4 p.m., at Powell’s on Hawthorne.)
When: June 5, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Looking Glass Bookstore, 7983 SE 13th Ave. (in the Sellwood neighborhood)
Cost: Free!

Monday, June 7th
Join local poets Nicholas Karavatos, Chris Cottrell and Carolyn Brazda for a reading and book signing.
What: 3 Friends Mondays-Caffeinated Art
When: June 7th, 7pm-9pm
Where: Show & Tell Gallery, 201 SE 12th Ave.
Cost: Free!

Thursday, June 10th
Neil Landau reads from 101 Things I Learned in Film School. Co-sponsored by the Northwest Film Center, this event includes a screenwriting workshop.
When: June 10th, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Powell's Books on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Cost: Free!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

CALYX event!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Photo Story Prompt: Grocery Bag

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

Tell us what you come up with! Post your story in a comment below or send it to