Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Learn About FilmLab January 6th, PDX

On Tuesday, January 6th, at the Old Church in downtown Portland, Willamette Writers presents a special program devoted to FiLMLaB 2015.

FiLMLaB, now in its 4th year, already boasts an award-winning short film from year one, Alis Volat Propriis, by Portland writer, Haley Isleib. FiLMLaB Coordinator and Exec. Producer Ruth Witteried picks up the gauntlet in 2015 with her eye on even greater glory for a new short film production. Ruth has invited filmmaker Martin Vavra and 2014's winning writer, Jon Dragt, to take the walk of fame across the Old Church stage and answer questions you haven't even thought of yet.

The 2015 FiLMLaB contest winner will see their short film debuted at the Willamette Writers Conference in August at a free event that will be open to the public. Getting the chance to see your work come to life on the big screen is priceless, but there are many other perks to winning, not the least of which is the opportunity to work with a director and be on set while your story is filmed. Check the FiLMLaB Blog at for the latest information on contest rules, script limitations and guidelines, or on Facebook at FiLMLaB, and Twitter @WWFiLMLaB.

Read more in Peter Field's column,

Learn more about FilmLab.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Karen Karbo to Speak about The Writer's Passion

Award-winning Portland writer Karen Karbo
will show writers how they can find and develop topics they are passionate about, and develop a powerful, authentic writing voice around those passions. She will also have tips to create a satisfying writing life and successful career without trying to ‘game the market.’

Ms. Karbo is the author of the “Kick Ass Women” series of books featuring such luminaries as Julia Child, Coco Chanel, Georgia O’Keefe, and Audrey Hepburn. Her memoir, “Stuff of Life,” won the Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and other awards. She has written 14 books – both fiction and nonfiction. Her short stories, essays, articles and reviews have appeared in Elle, Vogue, O, Esquire, Outside, The New York Times,, and other publications. Karen was also one of 24 authors recently chosen by Amtrak to participate in their inaugural Amtrak Residency program, and was previously a recipient of an NEA Arts Fellowship in Fiction.

Karen Karbo to Speak at Willamette Writers November 4, 2014 at 7 p.m.

The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave., Portland OR

About Willamette Writers: Willamette Writers is the largest writers’ organization in Oregon and one of the largest in the United States. Founded in Portland in 1965, it has grown to over 1,500 members with branches in Southern Oregon (Medford/Central Point), Eugene, Corvallis, Salem and Newport. Portland meetings are held from 7 to 8 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month at The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th (at Clay) in downtown Portland. Socializing begins at 6:30. The meeting is free to members, $5 for guests of members and students, and $10 for non-members. More detailed information is available at or by emailing or calling 503-305-6729 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. M-F.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Craft and Confidence: An Author's Master Class with William Kenower

Craft and Confidence:

An Author's Master Class with

William Kenower

Saturday, November 8, 2014 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 pm

The Willamette Writer's House in West Linn

This master class for intermediate writers focuses on the unique challenge of being an author. If all we did was write in our journals and diaries, we would not need writing classes and conferences and magazines. It is the experience of asking other people to read our work and to possibly pay us for it that causes most of our confusion and anxiety. Using the themes and perspectives explored in Write Within Yourself, we will take an intensive look at how to keep our attention where it needs to be to sustain our very private writing work while simultaneously pursuing the very public career of author.

A copy of William Kenower's book Write Within Yourself is included in the master class registration for the first ten people to register. Coffee, tea, and a light snack will be provided. This class is offered exclusively to Willamette Writers members for $75.

Part One: Craft

Craft is not merely a list of rules and mechanical techniques writers should memorize and practice. True craft is an understanding of why rules and techniques seem to work and when and how those rules and techniques can be broken and abandoned. For the first half of the workshop, we will take a closer look at such basics as showing and telling, contrast, description, and narrative tension, peeling back the tired holiness around these techniques so that they can once again serve our unique vision.

Part Two: Confidence

Mastery of craft is never as complicated as the psychological and emotional mastery needed to sustain our work. Once we learn craft, we rarely forget it, but a writer can forget where his or her confidence resides at any time. In this guided roundtable discussion, we will talk candidly about the real barriers to writing success – questions of voice, intelligence, time, money, and talent. Every writer is born with everything they need to tell any story they wish, and by the end of the second half of this workshop, participants will have a better understanding of how to get out of their own way and let their natural genius flow.

* * * * *

You can register for the William Kenower class by mailing a check to Willamette Writers' Cynthia Whitcomb House, calling 503-305-6729 and registering over the phone, or by paying with a credit card at

Monday, September 22, 2014

Willamette Writers Author Series Features Crispin Young

The Willamette Writers Author series continues with Crispin Young speaking about her novel, Heart of the Current.

From Amazon:

Annie is having one of those days: two hours late to work, hung over, and grouchy. As a video game designer, she is used to creating perfect worlds, but lately she's noticed a darkness creeping in to hers. She feels her life spinning wildly out of balance. Just as she is beginning to wonder how much more she can handle, an emergency broadcast alert tells her that America is under nuclear attack. As she frantically plans her escape, she wakes up in Tahldia, the strangely familiar world from her video game. When a scarred and grizzled knight, Hakayatas, saves her from a zombie attack, Annie has no choice but to team up with him to discover her destiny.

The Google+ Hangout interview with Ann can be found on the Willamette Writers YouTube page.

Born and raised in Texas, Crispin Young grew up on a steady diet of video games, comic books, cartoons, and watching Star Trek with her dad.

In 2001, she wandered off to the northwest in search of adventure, and received her degrees in Journalism and Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon.

One night when she was a college freshman, she looked up at the thick blanket of stars above her campfire and saw the characters of Tahldia clearly in her mind. The memories and creative inspiration of that evening followed her like a shadow through the next eight years, evolving and growing into an enormous, bittersweet trilogy.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Soapstone Literary Announcements 9/20/2014

These announcements of events and opportunities of interest to the writing community have been sent to you by Soapstone. Feel free to send them on to your friends and colleagues or to invite them to join the list by emailing us at (We need first and last name, city, and email address.)

For more information about receiving the announcements or sending your own announcement to this list, go to

We never lend or sell our mailing list. If you no longer wish to be on this list, send us an email with “remove” in the subject line.



The New Soapstone: Celebrating Women Writers 

We are pleased to announce that we are now offering two new opportunities for readers and writers in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Small Grants to an Individual Woman or an Ad Hoc Group of Women

These funds are to support readings, memorial gatherings, or other similar events and study groups celebrating a woman writer's work. The application process is simple and the time between applying and notification short. For the first year, Soapstone board members will serve as the grant review committee.

All events and study groups will be open to the public and offered at no charge.

Go to our website for more details: www.


BROADWAY BOOKS Thursday, October 9 at 7 pm.

Irvington resident Alice Hardesty has written a very personal memoir. An Uncommon Cancer Journey: The Cosmic Kick that Healed Our Lives is the story of Alice’s husband Jack’s extraordinary healing from esophageal cancer in the 1980s, despite two “terminal” diagnoses. After conventional medicine failed to provide a cure, Jack tried every alternative and complementary treatment he could, including vitamins and enzymes, bodywork, spiritual healing, and intensive psychotherapy. Alice accompanied and supported him throughout this journey, and found that along with the physical healing came the healing of their marriage.

Please join us as Ms. Hardesty reads from and talks about her memoir.

This event is free and open to the public.


October 5, 4:00 p.m. First Congregational United Church of Christ

Nicholas Kristof is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author, a celebrated columnist with The New York Times, and an Oregonian. He will share his experience reporting from six continents and the core message from his new book, A Path Appears, to inspire us to make a difference in the world. The book will be released on September 23 and signed copies will be available at the event. SAGE will host Mr. Kristof as its 2014 Visiting SAGE speaker, a program to inspire people to find new pathways to civic service and to improve opportunity for future generations. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.


Gigi Rosenberg invites you to Literary Arts on October 2 to meet Seattle’s Jack Straw Writers and hear an excerpt from her latest project: “How I Lost My Inheritance: A Mother/Daughter Memoir.” Please join her at:

Jack Straw Writers Tell “Family Secrets”

Featuring Claudia Castro Luna, Loreen Lilynn Lee, Michelle Peñaloza and Gigi Rosenberg. Curator Felicia Gonzalez hosts.

October 2 at 7:00 pm Literary Arts, 925 SW Washington Street, Portland, OR 97205 Free


On Sunday, September 21 at 7 PM, Paulann Petersen, recent Oregon Poet Laureate, along with student writers and artists, presents work published in the 2014 Honoring Our Rivers anthology. This issue celebrates the 100th birthday of William Stafford, earlier poet laureate, educator and peace activist.

HOR anthology program director, Anna Wilde, will discuss the project and distribute complimentary copies.

Free and open to the public. Donations collected for the Oregon Food Bank. Venue: 17425 Holy Names Heritage Center 2 miles south of downtown Lake Oswego on Hwy 43. Take a left at entrance marked with signage for Youth Villages and Mary's Woods.


Eleni Sikelianos, Endi Bogue Hartigan and Joshua Marie Wilkinson September 27th 7:00 p.m. Literary Arts 925 SW WASHINGTON

This event is free and open to the public.

Eleni Sikelianos is the author of six books of poetry, most recently The Loving Detail of the Living and the Dead, a Library Journal Best Books of 2013, and The California Poem, as well as a hybrid memoir, The Book of Jon, which was a Barnes & Noble Best Book of the Year. She has been the happy recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulbright Foundation, The National Poetry Series, and the New York Foundation for the Arts, among others, and of Princeton University’s Seeger Fellowship and two Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative American Writing.

Endi Bogue Hartigan‘s second book Pool [5 choruses] was selected by Cole Swensen for the Omnidawn Open Prize and was released in April 2014 from Omnidawn publishing. Her first book One Sun Storm was selected for the 2008 Colorado Prize for Poetry, and was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies including New American Writing, Verse, Pleiades, VOLT, Free Verse, Peep/ Show, LVNG, and Tinfish, as well as a collaborative chapbook, out of the flowering ribs, created with Portland visual artist Linda Hutchins. More info on her work is at

Joshua Marie Wilkinson was born and raised in Seattle. He's the author of Meadow Slasher, The Courier's Archive, Swamp Isthmus, and Selenography all from Sidebrow Books and Black Ocean). He lives in Tucson where he runs a small press called Letter Machine Editions and a journal called The Volta. Since 2006, he’s been at work on a five-book sequence of poetry called the No Volta pentalogy, which includes Selenography, with Polaroids by Tim Rutili (Sidebrow Books 2010); Swamp Isthmus (Black Ocean 2013); The Courier’s Archive & Hymnal (Sidebrow Books 2014); Meadow Slasher (Black Ocean 2016); and Shimoda’s Tavern (in the offing).


October Writing Workshops For Individuals Whose Lives Have Been Affected By Breast Cancer

Perhaps you’ve been affected by a personal diagnosis of breast cancer or by family history and an intensified screening process. Perhaps you’ve been there with family or friends who have had personal experiences with breast cancer. Perhaps it’s something that only occurs to you once a year when you show up to your annual mammogram or doctor’s appointment. Perhaps it sneaks into your thoughts every October, during breast cancer awareness month.

Whether you have a specific story you are interested in writing or just want to see what happens when you put pen to page and start scribbling, these workshops will provide a comfortable and encouraging environment for you to explore your thoughts and experiences through writing and creativity.

Different writing exercises each week will encourage creative exploration into the space of the physical, emotional, and thinking body. Sign up for one Saturday or for all four!

Saturdays in October (October 4th, 11th, 18th, & 25th), 1-3 PM $20 per Saturday workshop, $70 for all 4 Saturdays (50% of the registration fees will be donated to a non-profit that supports women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer)

At Women’s Imaging & Intervention 17050 Pilkington Road, Suite 130 Lake Oswego, OR 97035

Facilitated by Mary Kibbe, Writer, Editor, & Massage Therapist

Complete details and registration info at


Last Tuesdays Poetry presents Martha Silano: October 28, 7pm, Barnes & Noble, Vancouver, WA

Martha Silano is the featured poet at Last Tuesdays Poetry on October 28. Our events run from 7pm to 8.30pm at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at 7700 NE Fourth Plain Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98662.

She will read from two of her collections, Reckless Lovely and Little Office of the Immaculate Conception.

Reckless Lovely begins with The Big Bang and ends with the unleashing of twelve million bees from a jack-knifed semi. In between, it ricochets from Renaissance masterworks to amusement parks, from fissures to fission, praising the peregrine, the paramecium.

The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception rollicks through fourteen billion years of cosmology with humor and musicality. The book was described as “comic and wise, quotidian and celestial.”

As usual, there will be open mic slots that can be claimed on the night. If you want to do one, please rehearse a 2-3 minute presentation.


Fall 2014 Writing Classes at the Multnomah Arts Center

Check out our new offerings this fall at the Multnomah Arts Center in SW Portland. Never been to MAC? We’re a part of Portland Parks and Recreation and offer affordable arts programming for all ages and levels. To register for classes, call (503) 823-3187 or visit MAC's Literary Arts website to read full course descriptions and find out more about our faculty.

Classes for Adults So, You Want To Write a Novel with Michael Thomas Cooper
Mondays 7 - 9 pm [7 classes] Oct. 13 - Nov. 24 $120

Memoir with Rob Freedman
Tuesdays 10 am -12:30 pm [8 classes] Oct. 7 - Dec. 2 $160

Necessary Poetry with Donna Prinzmetal
Tuesdays 7 - 8:30 pm [9 classes] Sep. 30 - Dec. 2 $126

Memoir—Interviewing & Catching Stories with Meg Eberle
Wednesdays 1 - 3 pm [6 classes] Oct. 8 - Nov. 12 $102

Writing Our Lives As Story with Nancy Linnon
Thursdays 1 - 3 pm [8 classes] Oct. 9 - Dec. 4 $136

Reading and Writing About Oregon with Christine Colasurdo
Fridays 10 am - 12 pm [10 classes] Oct. 3 - Dec. 5 $170

Poetry Collage with Christopher Luna Saturday 10 am - 3 pm [1 class] Nov. 15 $50

Classes for Youth Ages 8-12 Creative Writing with Amy Minato
Tuesday 4:15 - 5:30 pm [3 classes] Oct. 21 - Nov. 4 $42

Telling Tales with Amy Minato Tuesday 4:15 - 5:30 pm [1 class] Nov. 18 $14


We have room for a few more folks for “Working and Writing the Woods,” Saturday, September 20, 10 am to 5 pm, with our special guest instructor Jeff Fearnside. From 10 am to 1 pm we will work together on tree planting, trail maintenance, riparian habitat restoration, and other soul-satisfying tasks. After lunch, from 2 - 5 pm, we’ll turn to a free writing workshop, exploring ways to write about nature, work, and community. All are welcome, whatever your physical abilities or level of writing experience.


November 1, 2014 Mapping Memory

“Everyone who composes a map makes an argument, with regards to what is included in the map and what is not.” -Mark Koch, English Professor, Dartmouth College

Maps get us to destinations filled with stories. Whether you do write or want to write fiction, non-fiction or poetry, the craft begins with putting thoughts on paper. This way of turning memory, observation and imagination into a draft on a page is as much a journey as if you packed your bags and set off on a cross-country trip. Come join us and make a map of some of the stories you’re ready to tell. Artistic ability is NOT required. If you can draw a line, not even necessarily a straight line, you can make a map of the elements of the writing you want to do. You can think on paper. You will leave class with a rough draft from this map. We’ll explore the details of writing from looking closely at place. We’ll remember the colors of a certain summer and listen for stories from a birthplace, possibly far away. The class is taught in English, but speakers of other languages who have intermediate English skills are welcome as are families/friends who could translate for one another.

This workshop is appropriate for teachers looking for ideas to inspire students of all ages; for individuals who want to begin that collection of stories to give to children or grandchildren; for fiction writers to meet someone on paper who may become a character in a novel or children’s book.

November 1, 2014 2:30-4:30, Saturday two-hour Multnomah County Library program, Capitol Hill Library: 10723 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR 97219

Free. No registration - first come, first served. Class limit 15.


CONVERSATIONS WITH WRITERS Monday, September 29 7:00-9:00 PM Hillsboro Main Library, 2850 NE Brookwood Pkwy, Hillsboro

For September, our Conversations With Writers meeting will be led by Paulann Petersen. Her theme will be: Crafty: William Stafford And The Art Of Artlessness

Was William Stafford “crafty?” Was he “skilled in underhandedness, deviousness, or deception?” Yes, but only in the sense that he was able to make his art seem artless.

Join Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita, in an interactive exploration of a few aspects of William Stafford’s art. We’ll look at a number of Stafford poems and discuss them in terms of the craft that might have gone into their making. We’ll be alert to the ways in which we might apply such craft to our own work, ways we might become “craftier” too.

Conversations With Writers invites authors to read and tell us about their work and their writing methods. Not just a reading, but an event for audience members to interact and ask questions about word choices, styles, or the writer's development of his / her art. It's an informal atmosphere to help us all better understand the craft of writing. For more information, visit:


GHOST TOWN POETRY OPEN MIC With guest hosts Steve Williams & M

7pm Thursday, October 9 Cover to Cover Books 6300 NE St. James Rd., Suite 104B (St. James & Minnehaha) Vancouver, WA 98663

Featuring Matt Amott

Matt Amott is a poet, photographer, wanderer, and charter member of the Pacific Vagabonds. As a co-founder of Six Ft. Swells Poetry Press, most of his research and work for the press is done “in the field.” His ramblings tend to favor the short poem due to the lack of space on the cocktail napkin. He has been published in numerous journals and reviews and his poems have been selected for the Poems-For-All Series in Sacramento and San Diego. He has read his work on KVMR (Nevada City, CA), KFOK (Lake Tahoe, CA), KUSF (SF State College Radio) as well as KBOO (Portland, OR). Always one to keep on the move, Matt has called Portland his home three times over the last 20 years but he continues to leave broken hearts and free mini chapbooks in bars and pubs along the West Coast. Matt and Six Ft. Swells Press can be found at


Announcing the 16th Annual Autumn Equinox Stonehenge War Memorial Reading!

It's happening Sunday, September 21, 2014, starting around 3:00 p.m. at the Stonehenge War Memorial a few miles east of the Maryhill Museum of Fine Arts. The memorial was dedicated by railroad and highway baron Sam Hill on July 4, 1918, the first WWI memorial in the US and a miniature version of the original Stonehenge on England's Salisbury Plains.

Come early and spend time with the Rodin sculptures and Native American artifacts (and much more!) in the splendid museum. Check it out on the internet if you've never experienced Sam Hill's "Castle Nowhere.” Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the beautiful grounds, and the stunning view of the Gorge.

Dress up or dress down. It’s been hot in past years, but the stiff breeze won't let you sweat. Bring an instrument if you play one. Past events have featured tambourines, penny whistles, drums of every size and shape, guitars, banjos, mandolins, a trombone, a trumpet . . . .

Share your poetry. Or short fiction. Or social/political rant. There are no rules. Share what you wouldn't want your mother to hear. Let it all out, and bask in the applause of kindred souls.

From Oregon, cross the Columbia at Biggs Jct. and follow WA 14 west. Or cross the Bridge of the Gods at Cascade Locks and take WA 14 east. It all depends on whether you're in a hurry or want to wallow in the gorgeous scenery. Again, check the internet for directions.

Spread the word. Bring friends. Carpool. Form a caravan. We hope to see you there! Co-hosts David Hedges ( and Walt Curtis.


On Sunday, October 19, Oregon Writers Colony is going all out to honor and celebrate Oregon readers and writers with a literary festival and gala fundraiser in Portland: Stumptown Lit. OWC would like to invite small presses, booksellers, writer organizations, editors, book designers, and other literary and arts groups and services to exhibit at the afternoon book fair. There will also be a special display table of books authored by OWC members.

Among the other Stumptown Lit events are a writers workshop offered by Mary Rosenblum, a children’s story time with Susan Blackaby, and readings by Oregon authors. An evening reception honoring Jean Auel, Oregon’s best-selling author of the Earth’s Children series, will cap the day. During the reception, OWC will announce the winners for the 2014 OWC Short Story Writing contest. The First Place fiction and non-fiction winners will read their works. Admission to Stumptown Lit is free except for the workshop and reception.


Spare Room presents

Steve McCaffery & Karen Mac Cormack

Saturday, October 4 4:00 pm

please note earlier starting time

Glyph Café and Art Space 804 NW Couch Street — corner of NW Park 503-719-5481

$5 suggested donation

Steve McCaffery is the author and coauthor of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry and criticism. His long awaited rewriting of Shakespeare's sonnets, Dark Ladies, is forthcoming from Chax Press, and his capricious rewrite of Lewis Carroll, Alice in Plunderland, will appear though Book Thug in March 2015. A native of England, McCaffery lives and teaches in Buffalo, NY, where he is the David Gray Chair of Poetry and Letters and Director of the UB Poetics Program.

Karen Mac Cormack is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, most recently AGAINST WHITE (Veer Books, London, 2013). Her poems have appeared in anthologies including Moving Borders, Out of Everywhere, Another Language, and Prismatic Publics, and her work has been translated into French, Portuguese, Swedish, and Norwegian. Of dual Canadian/British citizenship, she lived in Toronto for many years, and currently lives Buffalo where she teaches at the State University.


The Switch presents a poetry reading by

Rachel Zolf, Sarah Dowling & Nathan Wade Carter

Monday, September 22 7:00 pm

IPRC 1001 SE Division


Nathan Wade Carter is a poet, musician and artist living in Portland, Oregon. His poetry can be found most recently in Potluck Magazine and on InkNode. He writes and performs music under the name Purrbot. His music can be found on Bandcamp and Spotify. Find him online at

Sarah Dowling is the author of DOWN, Birds & Bees, and Security Posture. Selections from her work appear in I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women. Her critical work has appeared in American Quarterly, GLQ, Canadian Literature, Signs and elsewhere. Dowling is an Assistant Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell.

Rachel Zolf’s fifth book of poetry is Janey’s Arcadia (Coach House), an aversive, conversive reckoning with the ongoing errors of Canadian settler-colonialism. Other publications include Neighbour Procedure and Human Resources. Among her many collaborations with other artists, she wrote the film The Light Club of Vizcaya: A Women’s Picture, directed by New York artist Josiah McElheny, which premiered at Art Basel Miami 2012. She has taught at the New School and the University of Calgary, and has recently returned to her hometown, Toronto.


BROADWAY BOOKS Tuesday, October 7 at 7 pm.

We are happy to welcome to the store Ted Mahar, who has edited a new book of gardening columns written for The Oregonian by his late wife, Dulcy Mahar.

Thousands of Dulcy’s fans purchased the first collection of her columns, Back in the Garden with Dulcy, published by RLO Media Productions two years ago. This new book, Through the Seasons with Dulcy, is the perfect companion to that first volume.

Through the Seasons with Dulcy includes 140 of Ms. Mahar’s most popular columns that were published weekly in the Oregonian beginning in 1989. These columns are organized by season. In this book, readers can again find inspiration and humor, as well as get a glimpse into the places in her garden she most cherished. Ted Mahar reflects here on their fifty-year marriage, their beloved pets and her well-known garden, plus takes readers behind the scenes into Dulcy’s favorite places inside their home. The essays are accompanied by 150 full color photographs.

Ted Mahar was a film and television writer and critic at The Oregonian for nearly four decades. This is his second book.

This event is free and open to the public.



October 14 at 7 pm.

Penelope Scambly Schott will be here to read from and talk about her latest poetry collection, How I Became an Historian (published by Cherry Grove Collections).

This quirky new book includes slugs, a fertility goddess, her grandfather’s Buick, bag ladies, loose eyes, refugee camps, ancient Roman toilet paper, instructions for cave painting, and God’s day job as a hairdresser. Past and present remain deeply connected. According to Ralph Salisbury, these poems contain “Something of Diane Wakoski’s comedic genius, something of Sylvia Plath’s poetic rage, something of Dylan Thomas’ profound vision.”

Penelope Scambly Schott is a past winner of the Oregon Book Award for poetry. Her two most recent books (besides this one) are Lovesong for Dufur and Lillie Was a Goddess, Lillie Was a Whore. She lives in Portland and Dufur, Oregon, where she teaches an annual poetry workshop.

This event is free and open to the public.


Submissions now open for Elohi Gadugi Journal Fall 2014 | Reclamation. Art. Short Fiction. Poetry. Creative Nonfiction. Indie Book Reviews.

The theme for our fall issue of Elohi Gadugi Journal is "Reclamation." Submissions will be open until November 1st. Submissions made before October 5th may be included in the initial issue.

Duane Poncy, Managing Editor Elohi Gadugi Journal


Entitled – A Group Art Show

Exhibition opening and reception

First Thursday, October 2 5:00 - 9:00 pm

Companion reading Lisa Alber J. David Osborne Barry Graham Rios de la Luz Lisa MoonCat Miller Alex Bogartz Johnny Shaw

Thursday, October 9 5:30 pm

Glyph Cafe & Arts Space 804 NW Couch St – corner of NW Park

Exhibition runs through October 31st.

Twenty-six artists have created fifty-two pieces based on titles picked at random from a hat.

Each original work of art is priced at $50.

Alea Bone Amelia Opie Anna Magruder Betsy LeVine Blake Stellyess Carlie Leagjeld Daniel Gill Deborah Spanton Eilish Strawberry Hynes Geoff Edwards Jaclyn Evalds Jennifer Bogartz Jennifer Feeney Jeremy Dubow Jerry Sumpter Joanne Licardo Johnny Acurso Lea Peace Quin Sweetman Roxanne Patruznick Sara Mapelli Tink Shawn Demarest Suzanne Elizabeth Suzy Kitman Theodore Holdt Yasue Arai



The Oregon Poetry Association (OPA) is sponsoring the seventeenth annual Oregon Student Poetry Contest. Tiel Aisha Ansari of Portland, OR and Steve Jones of Corvallis, OR are the 2015 student contest co-chairs. All Oregon students, kindergarten through 12th grade, enrolled in public, private, parochial and alternative schools, and home schooled, are invited to submit a poem. There is no entry fee. The deadline for entries is February 10, 2015 (postmark).

Ten unranked winners in each of four age categories receive $10 cash prizes. All forty winning poems will be published in Cascadia: The Oregon Student Poetry Contest Anthology. Each winner will receive a certificate and a copy of the anthology. The ten winning poems in both the middle and high school divisions are eligible and will be sent to the annual Manningham Trust Student Contest sponsored by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NSFPS). This national competition also awards cash prizes and publication in an anthology.

Writing poetry to enter in the contest is typically a class project organized by teachers in the various types of schools. OPA urges parents and teachers to encourage students to enter the contest. This is an excellent opportunity both to encourage and to reward creativity in Oregon students.

A note for teachers, from Steve Jones, Co-Director, Oregon Writing Project Collaborative at George Fox and Co-Chair, Oregon Young Poets 2015 Contest:

COMMON CORE SUPPORTS POETRY READING AND WRITING Jim Burke in his recently published "Common Core Handbook" maintains that teaching writing well will always demand that teachers and students read widely in all genres, write daily with peer and teacher feedback with opportunities for student revision--while using mentor texts from all genres, including poetry, short stories and essays. Burke teaches us how Common Core supports this wide reading and writing in all literary genres. National Writing Project research also tells us that when writers strengthen their writing in any genre, they strengthen their overall skills as writers. Writers are people who write and write and write. So, teachers, encourage your students to write in all literary genres, confident that they will benefit and become stronger and more effective writers.

Complete guidelines can be found at or obtained by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:

OREGON POETRY ASSOCIATION 1724 NE Prescott Portland OR 97211

or requested by email, Tiel Aisha Ansari,


On Sunday September 21st, Eric Witchey will teach a two-hour workshop titled Character Based Plotting. Willamette Writers Coast Branch will offer the workshop at the Newport Public Library at 2:00 pm. The workshop is free, and open to the public.

Mr. Witchey says “Successful plotting only occurs when a writer can answer the question, ‘How does the character change because of what happens next?’ Anybody can make up a series of events, but successful writers craft events that are specific to changes in character—changes that accumulate scene-by-scene until the character arc demonstrates the thematic truths of the story. In this seminar, award-winning writer Eric M. Witchey will demonstrate techniques for developing theme by crafting plot events that force incremental change in character.”

Eric Witchey is known for his ability to teach clear, useable skills that allow students to create saleable fiction. His seminars and classes grow out of his experience teaching at two universities, a community college, countless conferences, and many private seminars. Working in multiple genres, he has sold over 90 short stories and four novels into national and international markets. Writers of the Future, New Century Writers, Writers Digest, the Eric Hoffer Award Program, Short Story America, the Irish Aeon Awards, and a number of other organizations have honored his work. His how-to articles have appeared in The Writer Magazine, Writer's Digest Magazine, and other print and on-line magazines. When not writing or teaching, he tosses small bits of feather and pointy wire at laughing trout.



Thursday, October 16 at 7 pm.

Portland writer Brian Doyle will be here to read from his new collection of essays, Children & Other Wild Animals (Oregon State University Press).

In this new book, Mr. Doyle describes encounters with astounding beings of every sort and shape. These true tales of animals and humans (generally the smaller sizes, but here and there elders and jumbos) delight blur the line between the two.

These short vignettes explore the seethe of life on this startling planet, the astonishing variety of our earthly companions, and the joys available to us when we bother to find them. Doyle’s trademark quirky prose is at once lyrical, daring, and refreshing. His essays are poignant but not pap, sharp but not sermons, and revelatory at every turn.

Mr. Doyle is the author of the novels Mink River and The Plover as well as several essay collections, a memoir, and other books. He edits Portland Magazine at the University of Portland.

This event is free and open to the public.



Tuesday, October 28 at 7 pm.

Portland writer Lois Leveen will be here to read from her newly published novel, Juliet’s Nurse (Atria Books).

This unusual story imagines the life of a character from Shakespeare that is only identified as “Nurse to Juliet” in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Lois Leveen has named the nurse Angelica, and this story covers the fourteen years of her life that she spends first as Juliet’s wet nurse, and then as her nanny, companion, and confidante until Juliet’s untimely death.

It’s a richly imagined tale that begins with Angelica mourning the death of her day-old child. Hired as a wet nurse for Juliet by her powerful and demanding parents, Angelica lives her days loving Juliet but also missing her husband, and also trying to deal with the strict expectations of the Church. When Juliet’s family’s darkest secrets erupt over five momentous days of passion and loss, Angelica must confront her own deepest grief to find the strength to survive.

By turn comic, sensual, and tragic, Juliet’s Nurse gives voice to one of literature’s most unforgettable characters.

Award-winning author Lois Leveen has had her work published in many scholarly and literary journals as well as The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and on NPR. Her previous novel, The Secrets of Mary Bowser, was a Broadway Books Bestseller.

This event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Soapstone Literary Announcements (9/6/14)

These announcements of events and opportunities of interest to the writing community have been sent to you by Soapstone. Feel free to send them on to your friends and colleagues or to invite them to join the list by emailing us at (We need first and last name, city, and email address.)

For more information about receiving the announcements or sending your own announcement to this list, go to

We never lend or sell our mailing list. If you no longer wish to be on this list, send us an email with “remove” in the subject line.



The New Soapstone: Celebrating Women Writers 

We are pleased to announce that we are now offering two new opportunities for readers and writers in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Small Grants to an Individual Woman or an Ad Hoc Group of Women

These funds are to support readings, memorial gatherings, or other similar events and study groups celebrating a woman writer's work. The application process is simple and the time between applying and notification short. For the first year, Soapstone board members will serve as the grant review committee.

All events and study groups will be open to the public and offered at no charge.

Go to our website for more details: www.


Writing Classes:

Kickstart Your Writing Dates: Sept. 24- Dec. 3, 2014. No class Nov. 26. Cost: $200/10 weeks Limited to 5 students

Whether you’re working on a novel or interested in short stories, memoir, essays, articles or other forms of fiction or nonfiction, Kickstart Your Writing offers a supportive environment in which you can work on specific writing projects.

To register: Mail payment to Nancy Woods, P.O. Box 18032, Portland, OR 97218. To pay by credit card call (503) 288-2469. For more information: or (503) 288-2469.

(Online) Kickstart Your Writing Dates: Sept. 26- Dec. 5, 2014. No class Nov. 28. Cost: $200/10 weeks Limited to 5 students

This online version of the Kickstart Your Writing class can be taken from the comfort of your home and worked on when your schedule allows. All you need is e-mail (no Skype or chat rooms). Students will set weekly goals, post their writing online at designated times, and receive feedback from the instructor and other students.

Whether you’re working on a novel or interested in short stories, memoir, essays, articles or other forms of fiction or nonfiction, Kickstart Your Writing offers a supportive environment in which you can work on specific writing projects.

To register: Mail payment to Nancy Woods, P.O. Box 18032, Portland, OR 97218. To pay by credit card call (503) 288-2469. For more information: or (503) 288-2469.

Journalism for Freelance Writers Dates: Saturdays, Sept. 27-Dec. 6, 2014. No class Nov. 29. Time: 2-4 p.m. Cost: $200/10 weeks Limited to 5 students

Location: Hollywood district of Northeast Portland, Oregon. Exact location provided upon registration.

Learn the skills professional reporters use to write features, human-interest articles and small-business profiles. Become the freelance writer every editor wants to work with. Learn the dos and don'ts of the publishing world. By the end of the class you'll have completed one feature article that is 650-800 words in length. Along the way, you'll learn how to:

--Find article ideas --Carry out research --Prepare for and conduct interviews --Write leads --Organize, draft, revise and polish articles --Handle quotes and attributions --Meet deadlines and word counts --Copyedit and fact check --Write headlines, captions and photo credits --Apply AP and Chicago style --Take photos --Work with editors --Follow journalist ethics and values --Fulfill journalistic responsibilities

To register: Mail payment to Nancy Woods, P.O. Box 18032, Portland, OR 97218. To pay by credit card call (503) 288-2469.For more information: or (503) 288-2469


Last Tuesdays Poetry presents Toni Partington, Lori Loranger and Daedra Pfeiffer with photographer Raymond J. Klein:

September 30, 7pm, Barnes & Noble, Vancouver, WA

They will present work from Visions of Light, a poetry and photography book on which they collaborated.

Our events run from 7pm to 8.30pm at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at 7700 NE Fourth Plain Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98662.

Toni Partington is a Vancouver-based poet, editor, visual artist, and writing coach, author of the collections Jesus Is A Gas and Wind Wing, and co-founder of the small press Printed Matter Vancouver.

Lori Loranger, a native Washingtonian and 30-year Skamania County resident, practices mediation, meditation, tai chi, permaculture and foraging, as well as being a writer. She will read not only her own poems from the book but also those by her daughter, Zoe Loranger, who has been attending open mics since age 7 and has volunteered at KBOO radio.

Daedra Pfeiffer, born in Portland, is a longtime student of theater arts, psychology and healing through creativity, and has been active in an online survivors poetry group.

As they read their poems at the event, Raymond J. Klein will display his images that accompany them in the book. A retired commercial photographer whose professional career behind the lens started in 1956, he has long been interested in trick lighting effects, and has exhibited his creative photography in several local galleries.

The book will be available at the store on the night. For the first few people who buy it there, Klein will provide a complimentary original print of one of the images – Moods of a Saxophone – together with an endorsement by jazz master Lou Donaldson, whose 1966 album At His Best featured the image on its cover.

As usual, there will be open mic slots that can be claimed on the night. If you want to do one, please rehearse a 2-3 minute presentation.


A long-standing Portland critique group, The Guttery (, seeks one or two new voices. We're a good mix of committed writers working on fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and spoken word. Several works critiqued by the group have gone on to successful and prestigious publication. We meet each Wednesday for in-depth review of two members' submissions. Reviewers prepare written notes in advance. Those unable to attend a meeting submit their feedback in writing.

Please contact with any questions about the group or our (fairly informal but, we've found, very necessary) application process.


Lindsay Hill will read from his book Sea of Hooks at the Pine Grove Community House at 7pm on Saturday, September 20, 2014.

Part of the Manzanita Writers’ Series, the event is being moved to the Pine Grove Community House in Manzanita because the Hoffman Center is being renovated.

Sea of Hooks was named best book of 2013 by the Oregonian, and in the top ten books of 2013 by New York Magazine. Gabe Habash, for Publishers Weekly, declared it the most underrated book of 2013. “It’s one of the best books I’ve read in years,” he writes. “That’s it, I’m out of superlatives. Read Sea of Hooks.” The magazine named it one of the top five books of 2013.

Lindsay Hill was born in San Francisco and graduated from Bard College. Since 1974, he has published six books of poetry and his work has appeared in a wide variety of literary journals. Sea of Hooks, his first novel, was published by McPherson & Company in November of 2013. Hill’s other writing and editorial projects include the production of a series of recordings of innovative writing under the Spoken Engine label, and the co-editing, with Paul Naylor, of the literary journal Facture. Since leaving a career in banking, he has worked in the nonprofit sector. Lindsay Hill lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, the painter Nita Hill.

Following Hill’s reading and Q&A, we’ll have our popular Open Mic where up to nine local writers will read 5 minutes of their original work.

Admission for the evening is $5.

The Writers’ Series Reading Group will meet the Thursday prior to Hill’s reading, September 18th, 6:30 pm at the Manzanita Library. Everyone is invited to bring a friend to both events.

Further information is available at


In honor of the grand reopening of the newly expanded Mother Foucault's Bookshop

a passel of Portland poets will read (from 6:00 - 8:00 pm): Rodney Koeneke Chris Piuma James Yeary Allison Cobb Jen Coleman Sam Lohmann Maryrose Larkin Lisa Radon David Abel Chris Ashby

and, from 4:00 to 6:00, and from 8:00 to whenever, a host of other poets and musical acts will appear,


1776, Ghost Alien, Tom Blood, Mic Crenshaw, Walt Curtis Davis Lee Hooker, Richard Meltzer, New Bad Things Young Tom Pancake, Larry Yes, Carl Adamshick

and special guests

Saturday, September 6 4:00 pm to ??

Mother Foucault's Bookshop 521 SE Morrison Street

please be advised that the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices at Mother Foucault's Bookshop is prohibited



Monday, September 29 at 7 pm.

Ann Hedreen will be here to present her new memoir, Her Beautiful Brain, published by She Writes Press.

This is the story of Ann’s mother Arlene, who was a twice-divorced, once-widowed copper miner’s daughter who raised six children singlehandedly and went back to college at forty so she could support her family. In her late fifties, she started showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease and in the two decades that followed, her children were forced to stand helplessly by as their mother’s once-beautiful brain was slowly choked by plaques and tangles.

Ann Hedreen is a writer, teacher, filmmaker and voice of the radio podcast and blog “The Restless Nest”. With her husband, she has made more than 100 films, including five full-length documentaries. She lives in Seattle.


The Oregon Poetry Association, in association with the Friends of William Stafford, announce:

Fall 2014 Poetry Conference: “Stafford (and More) by the Sea” Bandon, Oregon, October 3rd – 5th

The venue for this event is the Bandon Community Center, fondly known as “the Barn.” It is located in the Bandon City Park, 1200 11th Street SW, Bandon OR.

Events include open mics Friday October 3rd and Saturday October 4th in the evening; an exciting two-track lineup of workshops, panels, and other presentations; and OPA’s fall contest awards. For a preview of schedules and presenters, please visit

Sample workshop titles include: Drafting with Stafford Intuitive Poetry Writing The Sound of Water Wading into the Swamp

Registration is $55.00, OPA members early registration (postmark deadline September 27th); $65.00 non-members or after September 27th.

Bandon offers a range of accommodations, plenty of places to eat, and the matchless beauty of Oregon’s South Coast. Join us to celebrate Oregon’s poetic heritage!

Inquiries to: Tiel Aisha Ansari OPA President


Blue Skirt Productions presents:


featuring Jim Ruland

Saturday, September 20 7:30 - 9:30 pm

Glyph Cafe & Arts Space 804 NW Couch St – corner of NW Park

Blue Skirt Productions presents author Jim Ruland headlining a night of words and music. This multidisciplinary event based on Ruland’s book Forest of Fortune will feature a host of local authors, poets, and musicians, including Trevor Dodge and Gayle Towell.

Contact: Anna Daedalus (503) 267-5835


Shotpouch work party and free writing workshop with Jeff Fearnside, Saturday, September 20

With the autumn equinox approaching, we're planning to celebrate the change of season with a work party and free writing workshop at Shotpouch Cabin. Everyone is invited to join us for “Working and Writing the Woods,” Saturday, September 20, 10 am to 5 pm, with our special guest instructor, Jeff Fearnside. From 10 am to 1 pm we will work together on tree planting, trail maintenance, riparian habitat restoration, and other soul-satisfying tasks. After lunch, from 2 - 5 pm, we’ll turn to a free writing workshop, exploring ways to write about nature, work, and community. All are welcome, whatever your level of writing experience.

Jeff Fearnside's writing has won several national awards, including a Grand Prize in the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards Program and the Mary Mackey Short Story Prize, and has appeared in dozens of journals and anthologies, most recently Clackamas Literary Review, Potomac Review, The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing), and Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet (Press 53). He lives in Corvallis and teaches at Oregon State University.

We have room for 20 participants. Please reply to this email to reserve a place. We'll send you more information, including directions to the cabin, when we get closer.


Nye Beach Writers Series Presents...

An Evening with: Suzanne Burns, author of Siblings and The Paris Poems

September 20, 2014 - 7pm at the Newport Visual Arts Center $6 admission, students free

Suzanne Burns is the author of The Paris Poems, of which a reviewer wrote: "Each poem is a story unto itself, and the collection is the poetic equivalent of a novel that should be read multiple times and shared." Her work includes Freaks and Fairy Tales, Blight and The Flesh Procession and a short story collection, Misfits and Other Heroes. Her poetry has appeared in national journals including Pif Magazine, Poetry Motel, The Lucid Stone, CQ, The Manzanita Quarterly, and in Britain in Still Magazine and Poems in the Waiting Room. After focusing on poetry for several years, she now working on fiction. Suzanne lives and works in Bend.


100 Thousand Poets for Change William Stafford Centenary Reading Featuring George Thomas and local authors from the anthology World of Change: Eileen Elliott, Christopher Luna, and Toni Partington

Plus open mic

7pm Saturday, September 27, 2014 Angst Gallery 1015 Main Street Vancouver, WA 98660

100 Thousand Poets for Change is the global movement founded by poets Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion of Guerneville, CA. World of Change, edited by David Madgalene and published by New Way Media, is a 100TPC-inspired anthology that includes poets from around the world as well as local authors Eileen Elliott, Christopher Luna, and Toni Partington. William Stafford’s writing will also be honored by Vancouver poet George Thomas. Community members who would like to read one of William Stafford’s poems, or a poem of their own concerning progressive social change, are invited to participate in an open mic.

Eileen Davis Elliott writes her poetry and prose in Vancouver, WA. She is the author of two books of poetry: Prodigal Cowgirl and Miles of Pies. Her work reflects long-held interests in multicultural themes about conflict and tolerance, appreciation and bewilderment. Humankind continues to fascinate and challenge her attempts to represent situations and solutions in written and visual forms. She thinks she asks more questions than she can ever answer.

Clark County Poet Laureate Christopher Luna is the co-founder, with Toni Partington, of Printed Matter Vancouver, an editing service and small press that serves Northwest writers. Together Luna and Partington edited Ghost Town Poetry volumes one and two, featuring poems from the popular open mic poetry reading series that Luna established in 2004. Luna’s books include Brutal Glints of Moonlight, GHOST TOWN, USA and The Flame Is Ours: The Letters of Stan Brakhage and Michael McClure 1961-1978. Recent publications include Bombay Gin, Unshod Quills, It’s Animal But Merciful, gape-seed, Take Out, Chiron Review, and Soundings Review.

Toni Partington lives and works as a poet, editor, visual artist, and writing coach in Vancouver, Washington. She is the author of two books of poetry: Jesus Is A Gas and Wind Wing. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals including The Cascade Journal, VoiceCatcher (editions 3 and 4), and Perceptions. She was Co-Editor for the 2011/2012 VoiceCatcher anthology of Pacific Northwest women writers. Toni is co founder and editor of Printed Matter Vancouver, an editing and small press imprint.

George Thomas earned an MFA at Eastern Washington University. He has founded and edited two magazines and a microzine. One of those is Eastern's Willow Springs. His books include Tenderfoot and Gray House by Cold Mountain. His work has appeared in publications in England and the U.S., most recently in Ghost Town Poetry Volume Two.


Pure Surface presents

Grace Hwang (dance) / Stacey Tran (text) / Lena Munday (film)

Sunday, September 7 Doors at 6:00 pm, performance promptly at 7:00

Valentine’s 232 SW Ankeny Street

Free, open to the public, 21+

Pure Surface is a new performance series in which dance/text/film are presented together in the spirit of (improvised) collaboration. No introductions, no waiting, no intermissions. Each event lasts under an hour.


The Milwaukie Poetry Series: A reading by Paulann Petersen

7 PM, Wednesday, September 10, 2014 
Pond House, 2215 SE Harrison Adjacent to the Ledding Library

Paulann is the Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita and was our first reader in November, 2007. She is a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University whose poems have appeared in many publications including Poetry, The New Republic, Prairie Schooner, and Wilderness Magazine.

Her first full-length collection of poems, The Wild Awake, was published by Confluence Press in 2002. A second, Blood-Silk, poems about Turkey, was published by Quiet Lion Press of Portland in 2004. A Bride of Narrow Escape was published by Cloudbank Books as part of its Northwest Poetry Series in 2006. Kindle was published by Mountains and Rivers Press in 2008. The Voluptuary was published by Lost Horse Press in 2010. Her latest book, Understory, is also from Lost Horse Press, 2013.


Penelope Scambly Schott has a new book out: How I Became an Historian. She’ll be reading at the following venues in September:

Tuesday September 16 at 7 pm Milepost 5 900 NE 81st Ave, Portland, OR 97213

Monday September 29 from 5 to 7 pm Glyph Café 804 NW Couch Street, Portland, OR 97209


Peter Sears, Oregon's seventh poet laureate, will be reading and giving a workshop on Sunday, September 7, 2014 in Cave Junction at The Chateau of the Oregon Caves near the site of the Oregon Caves National Monument. The workshop on September 7 is from 2-4 pm, and the reading begins at 7 pm in the lobby of the Chateau. Free and open to the public. For more information on the Oregon Caves National Monument reading and workshop, see

From September 11-14th, Peter Sears will be in the Ashland area, where he will give a reading and workshop on "Ways of Revising," sponsored by the Friends of the Ashland Public Library. The workshop will be held Saturday, September 13, from 9:30-11:00 am in the Library and the reading will be held on Friday, September 12, 7:30 - 9 pm, at the Ashland Public Library. For more information on workshop preregistration, contact the Ashland Library at 541-774-6996 or visit, see . The Friday September 12 evening reading is free and open to the public.

On Saturday, September 20 from 2-4 pm, Peter will be holding a poetry workshop at the Lincoln City Driftwood Public Library and will be giving a public reading starting 3 pm Sunday, September 21 in the Distad Reading Room of the Library. For more information on the Oregon coast/Lincoln City workshop and reading, see


SAVE THE DATE –Oct. 24--for Oregon's most unique live literary event, THE MAGIC BARREL: A READING TO FIGHT HUNGER. The 21st annual Magic Barrel rolls again on Friday, October 24th at the historic Whiteside Theater in downtown Corvallis at 6:30 p.m., with ALL proceeds given to hunger relief. For a $9 donation at the door, enjoy music, food, drinks, and sizzling literature served up live! This year's lineup includes:

JOHN DANIEL, emee and Oregon Book Award-winning author of many books

AMANDA COPLIN, author of the New York Times bestselling novel, "The Orchardist"

PETER SEARS, current Oregon Poet Laureate

JON RAYMOND, novelist and screenwriter of "Night Moves" and "Meeks Cutoff"

LAWSON FUSAO INADA, former Oregon Poet Laureate

ABBY PHILIPS METZGER, author of "Meander Scars"

BARBARA DRAKE, poet and author of "Driving One Hundred" and "What We Say to Strangers"

NICK DYBECK, author of the novel, "When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man"

DIONISIA MORALES, nonfiction writer

INARA VERZEMNIEKS, award-winning journalist and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize



Wednesday, October 1 at 7 pm.

We are hosting a launch party for Karen Karbo, who will be here to read from her newly reissued novel, The Diamond Lane. This book is published by Hawthorne Books as the newest volume in their Rediscovery Series, which reissues worthy out-of-print gems.

The Diamond Lane is a comic novel about two sisters, their boyfriends, engagements, and trying to break into Hollywood as filmmakers. The New York Times Book Review said, “This kind of novel is a devil to pull off…and Ms. Karbo has done her job brilliantly.” The New York Times wrote, “A wonderfully comic novel about savvy Hollywood outsiders trying to get in…not only is the plot ingenious, but the writing remains deft all the way through.” This new edition features an introduction by Jane Smiley

Karen Karbo is the author of novels, memoirs and books on the lives of famous women and what we can learn from them. Her books have been named New York Times Notable Books and her memoir The Stuff of Life won the Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction. She is most well known for her bestselling Kick Ass Women Series: Julia Child Rules, How Georgia Became O’Keeffe, How to Hepburn, and The Gospel According to Coco Chanel. She grew up in California and lives in Portland, where she continues to kick ass.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Soapstone Announcements

These announcements of events and opportunities of interest to the writing community have been sent to you by Soapstone. Feel free to send them on to your friends and colleagues or to invite them to join the list by emailing us at (We need first and last name, city, and email address.)

For more information about receiving the announcements or sending your own announcement to this list, go to

We never lend or sell our mailing list. If you no longer wish to be on this list, send us an email with “remove” in the subject line.



The New Soapstone: Celebrating Women Writers 

We are pleased to announce that we are now offering two new opportunities for readers and writers in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Small Grants to an Individual Woman or an Ad Hoc Group of Women

These funds are to support readings, memorial gatherings, or other similar events and study groups celebrating a woman writer's work. The application process is simple and the time between applying and notification short. For the first year, Soapstone board members will serve as the grant review committee.

All events and study groups will be open to the public and offered at no charge.

Go to our website for more details: www.



David Oates will offer a two-day workshop at Sitka Center on the Oregon Coast.

The 750-word personal essay appears on the last page of many magazines. It is poetic in its intensity, yet accessible: personal and public at the same time.

Our aim is to produce two short, polished essays in two days, taking inspiration from brilliant examples and the beautiful environs of coast and forest. As we imagine, draft, and revise, I will coach writers individually, and we will read and critique work together. There will be time to write, walk, think and re-think.

You will be amazed at how deep and how far this small but intense writing form can go!

Where will we send them? Lots of magazines and websites are interested.

Sept. 7-8, 10:00 to 4:00 each day. Text is provided: A Natural History of Now: Reports from the Edge of Nature (Kelson Books 2012).

contact Sitka Center for Art and Ecology (503) 994-5485


When the Body Speaks: A Writing Workshop

Facilitated by Mary Kibbe, writer, editor, and licensed massage therapist

Experiences of the body are often considered private, and we are prone to describing these experiences with clichés and trite expressions. But underneath that superficial layer is a rich language of the body. It is a language that knows desire and also knows what pain is. It is a language that has intimate knowledge of our injuries, indulgences, and inhibitions. It can be edgy. It can be erotic. It can be heartbreaking. It can be the most honest and real thing you’ve ever read.

Each week, I will introduce writing samples and exercises that invite access into this space and language of the body. We’ll explore the body from the top of our head to the tips of our toes, from the surface of the skin inward, and from the marrow of the bones outward.

This workshop is appropriate for writers of all levels and genres.

Wednesday evenings, September 3-October 1, 2014, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

At Knott Street Health Center, 443 NE Knott Street, Portland, OR 97212

Learn more and register at

Or contact Mary directly: Phone (971.231.5370) Email (


David Lee: A Poet's Papers

August 13 - September 22

Collins Gallery Central Library, 3rd floor 801 SW 10th Avenue

Gallery Hours: Sun 10-5, Mon 10-8, Tue-Wed 12-8, Thu-Sat 10-6

Archives, books, and broadsides celebrate poet David Lee's 70th birthday in an exhibition pulled largely from a gift to the library by the poet. Photographs, manuscripts, correspondence, and ephemera of all kinds related to Lee, a summertime resident of Oregon and former Poet Laureate of Utah, will be on view.


The Willamette Speaks: Stories of the Lower Willamette River

Saturday, August 23 6:30 - 8:30 pm

BES Water Lab 6543 N. Burlington

Refreshments, coffee, and treats provided

Native American history of the Willamette told by the Grande Ronde tribe; stories from those who played, worked, and fished on the river.



Fred Leeson will be here to present his newly published biography of Fred Meyer, titled My-Te-Fine Merchant: Fred Meyer’s Retail Revolution (Irvington Press).

Fred Meyer is a Portland icon. Shoppers adored the friendly man in the bow tie at grand openings of Fred Meyer’s big one-stop shopping centers. His closest associates knew him better as a domineering, brilliant, single-minded, abrasive person who could also be unexpectedly compassionate.

My-Te-Fine Merchant probes the mind of this tireless, self-taught entrepreneur and provides an insider’s view of the company that reshaped 20th Century shopping. Based largely on interviews with former employees and associates, this richly-detailed biography explores little-known aspects of Meyer’s life – his business setbacks, fractured family life and his beliefs in reincarnation and the power of mind-over-matter. For almost 50 years, the MY-TE-FINE house brand was a part of the Pacific Northwest lexicon as Fred Meyer Inc. expanded throughout the region.

Fred Leeson is a respected journalist who graduated from Stanford University and received a J.D. from the Lewis and Clark Law School. He was a reporter at the Oregon Journal from 1972, and at the Oregonian from 1982 until 2007.

Free and open to the public.


The Sudio Series: Poetry Reading and Open Mic will feature Jenny Root and Bill Siverly at Stonehenge Studios, 3508 SW Corbett Avenue, Portland 97239 on Sunday, September 14 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Free and open to the public, the Studio Series is held monthly on second Sundays. For additional information, please contact Leah Stenson at

Jenny Root’s collection of poems, The Company of Sharks, was published in 2013. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including basalt, Cloudbank, Elohi Gadugi Journal, Fireweed and Windfall and has been anthologized in What the River Brings: Oregon River Poems and New Poets of the American West (Many Voices Press, 2010), among others. She has worked in publishing and independent bookselling across the country and has coordinated readings in Eugene for over 20 years. She lives in Eugene and works as an editor and event planner for an educational nonprofit in the field of criminal justice.

Bill Siverly was born and grew up in Lewiston, Idaho, and he has lived in Portland since 1972. He holds a Master of Arts degree from San Francisco State University, and he taught literature, composition, and creative writing at Portland Community College for twenty-five years. Bill has published five books of poems: Parzival (1981), Phoenix Fire (1987), The Turn (2000), Clearwater Way (Traprock Books, 2009), and Steptoe Butte (2013). Since 2002 he has been co-editor with Michael McDowell of Windfall: A Journal of Poetry of Place, which features poetry of the Pacific Northwest and appears twice yearly on the equinoxes.


CONVERSATIONS WITH WRITERS Monday, August 25 7:00-9:00 PM Hillsboro Main Library, 2850 NE Brookwood Pkwy, Hillsboro

Leanne Grabel is a poet, teacher, and co-founder of Cafe Lena, Portland's longest running poetry open mike venue. Her poetry-based theatrical performances and illustrated chapbooks include Anne Sexton Was A Sexpot and The Last Weekend of Sylvia Plath. Her multi-media performance Badgirls was staged in late 2011. Grabel has written and performed numerous spoken-word-based performance pieces, including One Woman Shoe, Anger: The Musical, and The Lighter Side of Chronic Depression. Among her poetry books are Lonesome and Very Quarrelsome Heroes, Flirtations, and Short Poems by a Short Person. Her stretched memoir Brontosaurus was published in late 2011. She is currently working on a book of prose poems called Assisted Living.

For her CWW presentation, Grabel will showcase work from all her various life phases and collaborations, including her most recent work, The Little Poet, an illustrated young adult graphic poem celebrating the poetic sensibility. It was presented as a theatre piece in 2013, and is expected to be published in 2015.

Conversations With Writers invites authors to read and tell us about their work and their writing methods. Not just a reading, but an event for audience members to interact and ask questions about word choices, styles, or the writer's development of his / her art. It's an informal atmosphere to help us all better understand the craft of writing. For more information, visit:


Story Swap/Potluck—Free! Friday, September 5th and continues on the 1st Friday of the month, September thru May, 6:30 pm in the Community Room at McMenamins’ Kennedy School, 5736 NE 33rd Avenue. A social time to listen or tell a 5 minute story in a safe, inviting environment. Open to anyone with an interest in the art and craft of storytelling. A supportive atmosphere in which tellers can invite feedback.

Storython, a Storytelling Performance, Saturday, September 12. Storython continues on Saturday, October 10 and showcases 5 minute stories from a wide array of tellers. 7:30 pm at Hipbone Studio, 1847 East Burnside. $10 or $8 member/student. Performances continue on the 2nd Saturday of the month, September thru May.


Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission has been going about its business without making major announcements for quite some time. Please spare a few moments for these exciting updates.

Our film Finding David Douglas has been in distribution since late 2012. Hundreds of copies have been sold across North America and Europe. Not long ago, we quietly opened a linked webslte, rich with information on David Douglas, his era of botanizing, and a host of related topics. Project director Lois Leonard spearheaded this effort, working closely with web designer Gordon Riggs. Please visit via our OCHC home

A second stand-alone site on William O. Douglas, the Pacific NW's only U.S. Supreme Court Justice, is a key piece of John Concillo's efforts on the film-in-the-works Liberty and Wilderness. John also worked with Gordon Riggs to develop this site. Please visit via our OCHC home

August 1, OCHC launched a third stand-alone site for its soon-to-debut exhibit Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps During World War II. Project director Morgen Young worked closely with web and graphic designer Melissa Delzio. The site includes a 13-minute film titled Uprooted, created collaboratively with filmmakers Courtney Hermann & Kerribeth Elliott .

The exhibit opens Sept. 12 at Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, OR [details on the website], the first stop on a multi-state tour to sites across the Pacific Northwest and the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.. We are seeking sponsors for your choice of Russell Lee images from the 1942 Farm Labor Camps in the exhibit. Many of these forty five exciting images remain to be sponsored.

Access the image selection & the Uprooted

Finally, my own recent writing, on the Pander Bros. current exhibit at Mark Woolley Gallery and on Penny Allen's film Late for My Mother's Funeral, which cites intrepid Oregonians Homer Davenport, John Reed, and Paulann Petersen, also appears on the OCHC website. Links:


The spark for this event—Monday 9/15, 7pm, at 3 Friends Coffeehouse, 201 se 12th—is the publication of Sea-Level Nerve (Book One), James Grabill’s first book in 8 years. He’ll be joined by Matt Schumacher and dan raphael.

James Grabill has published 9 books, 4 of which were finalists for the Oregon Book Award, one of those (Poem Rising Out of the Earth and Standing Up for Someone) that won. His work has appeared in hundreds of places. During a long career of teaching writing and literature, James began teaching a course in sustainability, which 
concerns inform the prose poems in his new books.

Matt Schumacher has published two collections, Spilling the Moon and The Fire Diaries, and is poetry editor of the fabulist journal Phantom Drift. He has taught in at least 5 different colleges in the Portland metro area and is working toward a second PhD.

dan raphael is known throughout the region for his energetic performances of his image- & language- rich poetry.


Willa Schneberg will read from her new collection Rending the Garment, Bloomsbury Books, Sun., Sept. 14, 6:30PM, 290 E. Main Ashland, OR, (541) 488-0029. For more info. go to their website:


The application deadline for the Hedgebrook Writers in Residence Program for women is fast approaching! Don't wait until the last minute—there are just two weeks left, so finish (or start!) your application today!

Deadline: September 3rd, midnight PST


Third Thursday Poets -- V a c a t i o n

Thursday, August 21, 2014, from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Mainstage, 4660 Portland Rd NE, Salem, OR 97305

Third Thursday Poets tales a walk down the Camino with Ellen Waterston. This month’s Third Thursday Poets will feature the Salem debut of Ellen Waterston’s latest book of poetry, Vía Láctea: A Woman of a Certain Age Walks the Camino. I do hope you’ll be able to join us for a lovely evening along the Camino.

Ellen Waterston is a poet, author and literary arts advocate. Vía Láctea, Atelier 6000, 2013, is Waterston’s third collection of poetry. The verse novel is based on walking the Camino de Santiago in 2012. Poetry awards include WILLA awards for her two previous collections Between Desert Seasons, and I Am Madagascar, and the Obsidian Prize. Other titles include Cold Snap, a chapbook of poetry and prose; Where the Crooked River Rises, essays about central Oregon’s high desert; and a memoir, Then There Was No Mountain, which earned her an appearance on Good Morning America and was rated one of the top ten books of 2003 by the Oregonian. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is currently traveling the state doing readings from Vía Láctea, was a presenter at TEDx Bend 2014 and will present a new work at the Oregon Natural Desert Association’s conference in September 2014. She was a featured poet at The Nature of Words 2013, the keynoter at the 2013 Northwest Poets’ Concord and 2011 Women Writing the West, and on the faculty of Summer Fishtrap 2012. She has been awarded many writing residencies and has received an Oregon Arts Commission Artist Fellowship, a Career Opportunity Grant, a Literary Arts Fellowship, and a Werner Fellowship. After eleven years as founder/director of The Nature of Words (NOW), a literary arts nonprofit, she passed the baton in 2012 to focus on her writing, the Writing Ranch, and, most recently, the creation of the Waterston Writing Prize. Founded by Waterston in 2000, the Writing Ranch offers workshops at Central Oregon Community College and St. Charles Cancer Care Center in Bend, as well as retreats in Central Oregon, Spain and Mexico. To be launched in August of 2014, the Waterston Writing Prize will be awarded annually to an Eastern Oregon author. Waterston is currently working on a fourth collection of poetry and a second memoir.

• * * PLEASE NOTE: There is a suggested and encouraged $5 donation. Thank you so much for your support of Salem's longest-running poetry series. * * *

For more information, please contact Maureen Clifford at


GHOST TOWN POETRY OPEN MIC Hosted By Clark County Poet Laureate Christopher Luna And Printed Matter Vancouver Publisher Toni Partington

7pm Thursday, September 11 Cover to Cover Books 6300 NE St. James Rd., Suite 104B (St. James & Minnehaha) Vancouver, WA 98663

Featuring Risa Denenberg:

Risa Denenberg is an aging hippie living a solitary life in Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula. She earns her keep as a nurse practitioner, having worked for many years in end-of-life care and more recently in chronic pain management. She is a moderator at The Gazebo, an online poetry board; reviews poetry for the American Journal of Nursing; and is an editor at Headmistress Press, dedicated to publishing lesbian poetry. She has three chapbooks, what we owe each other (The Lives You Touch Publications, 2013); In My Exam Room (The Lives You Touch Publications, 2014); and blinded by clouds (Hyacinth Girls Press, 2014); and a full length book, Mean Distance from the Sun (Aldrich Press, 2013).


On Tuesday, September 2nd, at the Old Church in downtown Portland, Willamette Writers welcomes local author Bill Cameron, who will talk about his approach to character development. 

Bill is the author of the gritty mysteries County Line (Tyrus Books, 2011), Day One (Tyrus Books, 2010), Chasing Smoke (Bleak House Books, 2008) and Lost Dog (Midnight Ink, 2007) – featuring irascible Portland homicide cop Skin Kadash.

The meeting is September 2nd, at the Old Church in downtown Portland. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., the meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. Attendance is free to members and full time students under 22; non-members pay $10.

About Willamette Writers: Willamette Writers is the largest writers’ organization in Oregon and one of the largest in the United States. Founded in Portland in 1965, it has grown to over 1,800 members with branches in Southern Oregon, Mid-Valley, Salem, Corvallis, and the Oregon Coast. Members can now work at the new Willamette Writers Cynthia Whitcomb Writing House in West Linn. More detailed information is available at or by calling 503-305-6729.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Books for Kids – News Update

Good day! My name is Patti Haack and I am the new Books for Kids Director with Willamette Writers. I tucked into this position a few months ago and have slowly been getting my feet wet tackling the Books for Kids position.

A few deliveries have been made to different organizations, including Experience Corps with Metropolitan Family Service and Willamette ESD Special Programs.

With the conference just a few days away, I hope to more readily step in to my position in the next few months. Look for me at meetings across the area talking about Books For Kids.

Yours in writing,

Patti Haack

Monday, August 11, 2014

Authors Road Interviews Mary Roach

OK, I admit it, I’m embarrassed to read Mary Roach in public places. Not at all because it’s Mary Roach, nor because of her offbeat topics like death, sex and digestion. I’m embarrassed because I end up looking foolish in crowded places, laughing far too loud, jabbing complete strangers in the ribs to ask if they knew some weird factoid, and slapping my forehead in wonder and surprise like one of the Three Stooges.

In each of her books she manages to make the mundane sparkle, the yucky prove elegant, the closeted secrets shed their cloaks and look pristine. She has a knack for choosing to write about the things we all want to know about, but rarely discuss in social gatherings. And she writes about them with a fresh and humorous style that is both endearing and enlightening and charmingly innocent.

We were thrilled when bestselling science writer, Mary Roach, agreed to be interviewed. And as luck had it, her incredible travel, research and writing schedule had an opening at the same time that we were in the San Francisco Bay Area. On a warm summer afternoon we gathered on her porch, and then later at dinner, and all the while marveled at her bottomless curiosity about the world and life, and her infectious excitement about learning new things and sharing what she knew.

For the last decade Salli and I have been reading her books, often out loud to each other, and then sharing our copies with everyone we know. Death, after-death, sex, food, survival in space – it makes you wonder what could she possibly write about next.

But we can’t tell you what’s next in her book list because we don’t know. But what we do know is that she is working diligently on a new book, and we know it will be a delight and enlighten us every bit as much as her previous works have done.

Friends, we are certain you will enjoy our interview with Mary Roach as much as we did in conducting it.

George, and of course Salli & Ella

Next Up: Bestselling novelist, Gail Tsukiyama

Thanks for . . .

. . . joining us . . .

. . . on the road!

Friday, August 8, 2014

How I Got My Literary Agent: Kate Dyer-Seeley

I’ve been reading mysteries since I was a teenager—actually even longer. I started with Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden as a kid, and have been devouring every series I can get my hands on ever since. As a fan of the genre, I’ve read some great and some not-so-great series over the years and without even being conscious of where it would lead me, I started making a dream list of my favorite authors. The list is lengthy today, and includes notes about why a particular series or author resonated with me. It rests in the top drawer of my nightstand where I can quickly jot down thoughts as they occur (which is usually at 2:00 in the morning, but that’s another story).

My path to actually writing a mystery is nearly as lengthy as my reading list. If I look back, it also began at an early age. I recently found a copy of the first mystery I wrote in the third grade, circa 1982, Lincoln Elementary School. The story involved a haunted house, a bike with a flat tire, and very little plot or structure. I went on from there to dabble in creative writing throughout high-school, college, and my early career, but mostly I enjoyed reading fiction with little thought of writing it. I focused my writing efforts on non-fiction, submitting and being published in number of national and international magazines.

When I decided to take the plunge and write my own mystery, my reading list suddenly became my dream agent list. I wrote down my top ten favorite authors and researched who represented them. At the same time, I attended a writer’s conference here in the Pacific Northwest and pitched a select group of agents and editors of small presses who were interested in acquiring new mysteries. I figured it would be good to test my pitch in person and see what sort of response I received. That way I could tweak my pitch before sending queries to my dream list.

Prepared for the worst (I’m totally neurotic about my own work), I presented my pitch at the conference and surprisingly received great feedback. Everyone wanted to read the manuscript, which was thrilling, but also meant that I needed to send out queries to my dream team—fast.

I sent my manuscript to the agents and editors I met at the conference and sent queries to my top five agents. Again, because I’m my own worst critic, I figured I’d save the other five for later in case everyone else rejected it.

If there’s any advice that I’ve learned and can pass on it’s this:

Be professional. In all my correspondence I made it clear that there were other agents and editors reviewing my submission.
Do your research. I sent personalized queries to each agent, with specific examples of how my work was similar to other clients on their list.
Be patient. Yeah, right. I’m still working on this one.

The Waiting Game

Waiting is the worst! I spent gobs of time here reading through other writers’ paths to publication. I tried distracting myself with a number of activities with little success. My phone came everywhere with me, and I would get an equal sense of excitement and dread anytime it dinged with a new email.

Fortunately everyone on my dream list responded quickly (within the first hour in one case, to a week). By mid-September, I had a total of twelve agents and two small presses reading my work.

At the time it seemed to take forever, but in hindsight my process ended up being really fast. By early November I had an offer from a small press and an agent. As soon as I received the first offer, I reached out to all the agents reading my manuscript. It was amazing how quickly everyone responded.

I found myself in the surreal position of having multiple offers to choose from. Speaking with agents who were excited about my book and pitching me, still makes me pause today.

The Dream Agent

Ultimately, I ended up signing with my “dream” agent, John Talbot of the Talbot Fortune Agency. John had been number one on my list based on the fact that I was a huge fan of a number of his clients. After we spoke on the phone, I knew immediately that he had the vision and contacts to not only sell my manuscript, but to help build my career. He sent the book out on submission in early January and we had an offer a few weeks later. Build your dream list—your dream agent is out there waiting for you!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Author's Road Interviews Cara Black

By our very nature, we are storytellers. And most of us have experienced going to someplace new and hearing a story we thought would make a great poem, short story, novel, maybe a movie. Perhaps we’d note it in our journal, re-tell it to a friend, and sometimes go that one more step and draft the story.

Our latest interviewee, bestselling mystery writer, Cara Black, went all the way. It required several years, dozens of classes and critique groups, reams of drafts, but she managed to write a novel about a mystery in her favorite city, Paris, solved by her heroine, Aimée Leduc and Aimée's friends.

Since that first novel Cara has managed each year to add a new, compelling mystery centered in different neighborhoods (arrondissements) inside The City of Light. She’s now published her fourteenth novel in the bestselling series, and she is working on mapping out her future works.

We were thrilled when she agreed to meet with us in her home overlooking San Francisco. And we were even more excited when towards the end of the interview she shared a literary surprise that spans across the series of her novels.

But have no fear, this isn’t a spoiler alert. You have to watch the interview to learn what it is.

George, Salli & Ella

Next Up: Bestselling popular science writer (and lecturer), Mary Roach

Thanks for . . .

. . . joining us . . .

. . . on the road!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Graph Your Novel (Seriously!), by Amber Keyser

If writing a first draft is like trying to out-run an avalanche, revision resembles digging out with a shovel. Any tool that can cut through the details and provide a panoramic view of the shape of our story is useful. Try a graph—seriously!

Pick 1-3 things that you want to focus on and that you can rate on a 1-10 scale. Some examples include voice, pace, likeability of a character, emotional intensity, conflict, fluidity of language, narrative coherency, moving plot forward, or a character’s transition from one state to another. If a critique partner is doing this for you, asking if s/he’s “lost” will help analyze backstory components. One of my critique group members analyzed the “turn the page factor” on a scale from 1, completely uninterested, to 10, can’t stop to pee.

Next make a graph that has all the chapters of your book on the X-axis (that’s the bottom line) and the numbers 1-10 on the Y-axis (vertical line). Read each chapter and try to give a gut-level rating for each of your factors. Connect the dots with a different color pen for each factor (e.x. red for conflict, blue for emotional intensity).

Patterns will emerge. For example, if properly plotted, conflict should trend upward (zigging and zagging a little on the way) toward a peak at the climactic chapter and then resolve downward quickly to the end. One recent novel analyzed this way showed three distinct peaks at the end. The author gave equal weight to the resolution of three major plot lines. The book felt like it didn’t know where to end. A line tracking reader’s involvement of the story will identify flabby chapters.

Graphs like these can be powerful tools to help writers identify the parts of their manuscript that aren’t doing enough work or aren’t doing the right work. They help you see where to focus your revision work. And they’re pretty cool—seriously!


Amber Keyser is the author of five books for young readers, including a picture book, three nonfiction titles, and a forthcoming novel that is part of Angel Punk, a transmedia storyworld. More at and

Friday, June 13, 2014

Writing the Emotionally Resonant Character, by Rosanne Parry

One of the pleasures of great fiction comes when a character you love takes an action that you didn't foresee and yet is so right for the character that it feels inevitable. You find yourself saying, "Of course! That's so like her!" The flip side of the experience is the character whose action so surprises you that you scratch your head and flip to the cover just to make sure you're still reading the same book. That's emotional resonance at work (or not at work in the second example.) Character interviews and charts listing personal appearance and habits are an excellent beginning, but how do you move into the realm of what makes a character internally consistent and emotionally true? To get at the deeper character, a writer has to ask herself deeper questions. Here are two to get you started.

What is the virtue that my character's family or friends or community values most highly? What is the worst sin this character could commit in his social circle?

For example, soldiers don't leave men behind. They will risk everything to bring the body of a fallen soldier home. This has been true since Hector and Achilles were fighting at the gates of Troy. The worst shame and guilt that a soldier suffers is from a failure to protect his men, even in death.

This question gets at the heart of what motivates your character's choices, and gives you a basis for escalating the conflict in your story. The more you put a character at odds with his personal moral compass, the more tension you will have in your scenes. It also protects you from unintentionally making a character choose something that is inconsistent with his values. For example a good soldier may well leave bodies on the field in retreat, but he would never do so without exhausting every option and suffering remorse. Having your character's core virtue or sin firmly in mind helps keep that character consistent and emotionally resonant.


Author Bio: Rosanne Parry

Rosanne is the award-winning author of Heart of a Shepherd and two other novels. She has taught workshops at Fishtrap, SCBWI, NCTE and numerous schools and book festivals across the country. She lives in Portland.