Thursday, July 28, 2011

Willamette Writers Conference

One week until the Willamette Writers Conference, where yours truly will be offering two delightful workshops!

Here's the scoopage:

Sunday, August 7 @ 10:30

Vivian Gornick claims that every work of literature has both a situation and a story. Tom Spanbauer refers to these same elements as the horizontal and the vertical. Whichever metaphor one chooses to evoke the relationship between plot and emotion, finding the right balance between the two concepts is central to successful prose. When taking on something as wrenching as death or as provocative as sex, it's particularly crucial to strike that balance. Too much plot and the reader won't care; too much emotion, and you've got melodrama. In this workshop we will consider the continuum of several short pieces: nonfiction to fiction, and look at how the writers balanced circumstance with grief - or sex - and in the process, we'll discover the roles of stance, form, objective correlative, metaphor and structure in issuing a composition that keeps us turning the pages.

Sunday, August 7 @ 1:15

In this personal essay-meets-poetry workshop, we will explore the possibilities of the hermit crab essay, as well as read three short samples of this lyric form. Writers will be invited to participate in a short free-writing assignment, and share their writing with the group. There will be resources and hand-outs.

Oh, and I'll be on an e-media panel on Friday morning (Aug 5) with a bunch of smart folks--including Jane Friedman!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Goofy Summertime. And gin. Bad mixture.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What I'm reading this week

Looking for that perfect summer book to read on the plane on the way to your high school reunion, or your in-laws? Look no further. Debut novelist Sarah Gardner Borden delivers a haunting page turner in GAMES TO PLAY AFTER DARK. Seriously, you'll be mad if you don't finish it by wheels down. There you will sit, on the plane, after everyone else climbs off.

Here's the Kirkus on it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

murdoch, google+, spotify, borders

Now that I have your attention. Christ. I thought summer was supposed to be mellow and drifty. Whimsical, even. So far July has been a shitstorm of information to process, opine on, and carry out. Especially if you're in, ahem, communications. Who would have thought that the time suck of Facebook would seem like a pinch of sand in the hourglass of social networking?

Back, say, twenty-two years ago, when I rented an electric typewriter and hefted it up to my sixth floor walk-up, slammed it down on the kitchen table and extension-corded it to an outlet in the next room whilst my babies crawled and toddled about at my feet, I thought to myself, "I can't wait until my life is free of all these distractions!"


The physical demands of single-parenting two kids under three pales in comparison to the monkey mind default of today's information-obsessed routine. I'm in that weird quagmire of having finished a manuscript (my book is out to editors) and beginning the next (which I've started, but am loath to venture too far into until the publishing world opines on book one). I am ripe for distraction. I have a hard time carrying a concept to its rightful conclusion before being shanghaied by the next bolus of must know abouts.

The result is, I'm walking around feeling largely scatter-brained. I do my work with Tweetdeck shrieking at me in the upper right of my screen. I stop what I'm doing every time I hear the ding of a new Outlook email. No sooner do I wrap my mind around a project, it seems it's time to troubleshoot the latest Facebook conundrum in behalf of my clients.

My days are fragmented by minutiae like never before. I am completely divorced from falling into the dream of story and I just realized that it's making me cranky and anxious and fear-driven. What am I afraid of? Not having enough people in my Google+ circles? Missing out on a Groupon deal?

Clearly, I need to recalibrate. Anyone have any fail-safe ideas on how to do that? Any of you writers/artists out there come up with a way to carve out some time for depth?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

USA or Nadeshiko. Size doesn't matter.

I am so totally in love with our women's soccer team. Megan, Hope, Abby. They sound sort of like Powerpuff girls, don't they? But they're beasts on the pitch. All except for Alex Morgan. I have to admit, I have a total girl crush on her, with her girlie-girl pink headband and her pink sports bra flaming under her jersey. My favorite moment of their 3-1 victory over France was Alex's game-sealing left-footed arc into the net in the 82nd minute (set up by my favorite player, former UP star Megan Rapinoe). Alex is young, a little unseasoned, but a total up-and-comer on the world stage, and today she finally showed what she's capable of. There's something "little sister" about her, and you get the sense that coach Pia is a little protective of her, but that girl has wheels.

And then there was the other 3-1 victory today, Nadeshiko. Those plucky Japanese women and their precise, energetic playing. If there's one team I wouldn't mind the USA losing to, it's Japan. Dwarfed by those big European girls, they completely owned the quarter- and semi-final matches. In a country so recently ravaged by disaster, and one also known for marginalizing females, I want to see those gals continue to kick serious ass. Unfortunately, the next asses on the agenda belong to Abby, Hope, Megan and Alex.

It's a win-win, I guess. I'll be happy either way. As long as the football stays as good as it's been this past week, and the "crackers" can be heard way out here on the left coast.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

the dog days are not gone

In about a week we're all going to be thinking, Oh my God, the summer is half over. How did that happen? July 4th rolls around, and it feels like summer just blasted out of the revolver (especially in the Pacific Northwest where it's rainy and cold until July 5th), and then suddenly you're watering the lawn every day, rubbing aloe into your pinked skin, and watching leaves curl and bronze. Jesus, it's so depressing.

And yet writing, let's face it, is harder this season than in the cooler wetter months that bookend it. Distractions abound. Kids frolic merrily about with their non-stop needs. And they stay up until two, which is unsettling, because, who knows what they're up to? (The hint that Carson is misbehaving is when he unfriends me on Facebook. Carson. Who is 12, and therefore not legally even ALLOWED to have a Facebook. I am a bad, negligent mom).

But here's the thing. Summer may not be shit for production, but it's wonderful for gathering. The sensual nature of rolling around in the grass. The long days observing human behavior at places like community pools, zoos, parks. The kink leaves my back. Music pours out all the cars and the neighbors' windows. And don't even get me started on the parties.

So. It's mid-July. The blueberries in my backyard are five minutes from ripening. I hear my son and my husband playing ping-pong out back, and earlier today that same son, the one with the illegal Facebook, taught me how to do this thing with sticks (see below). Writing can wait. Right?