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.)

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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!