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