Category Archives: writing life

Literary Marketing Workshop for Authors!

UPDATED TIME: Sunday, April 2, 2-4 PM

Guess what, Aspiring Authors?

wear all the hats graphic

(Those who are on the newsletter list already heard, but here’s the general announcement:)

Cal and I are starting a series of workshops focused on the various roles an indie author has to fill in today’s publishing world.

First up is the big bear we all love to hate: Marketing

Wear All The Hats: Literary Marketing Workshop

We both have years of experience reading blogs, talking to other authors, attending panels, and experimenting with our and others’ books. Trust us: nothing is guaranteed, but there are definitely ways to improve your chances of being discovered by the readers who will love your book.

We welcome unpublished, self-published, traditionally published; straight, cis, queer; black, white, multicultural; American, international; any religion and no religion; if you’ve got a story that needs to see the light of day, you are welcome!

bearing an untold story inside you maya angelou quote

We are charging $20 per workshop, payable to either of us, or the bookshop: Another Read Through ($25 at the door, so register this week!).

Sign up through ART, then let your friends know about this opportunity on the Facebook event page! Thanks for your help spreading the word. 🙂

Workshops to follow will touch on topics of Writing, Editing, Publishing, and Bookselling. Get in now, get some new ideas, and meet your fellow Portland-local authors!


Images via Facebook & Surveymonkey

Decluttering for Writers

Being a writer has nothing to do with one’s personal style, and there have been plenty of hoarder-style, as well as many minimalist, writers over the centuries.

Recently I saw this meme on Face Book, & laughed:
japanese method declutter humor

It made me think about decluttering, always a popular subject in the new year, and also a subject near & dear to my heart.

Marie Kondo jokes aside, it also made me think about how I could declutter in my capacity as a Writer.

With Language

The obvious culprit to attack is extraneous words. A writer is always called to be their first editor, and that requires the detachment to incise words that smother one’s voice or ideas.

Are you just starting an edit? Are you dragging your feet keeping up with your editing schedule? (Me! Me!) Here’s what I’m telling myself, which sometimes works:

I have the bones. I know what happens now. It’s just about keeping that clear image and structure in mind, and letting go of whatever events, descriptions, words, and thoughts that don’t support that structure.

Let. It. Go.

With Ideas

Another big category for writers is their ideas. Often asked where they get their ideas, from sci-fi to literary to suspense, I’d bet most writers are befuddled.

What do you mean, where do my ideas come from? Ideas and inspiration are everywhere, in the air we breathe!

But perhaps in your work schedule as a writer, you find it difficult to pursue all these ideas. They don’t easily fall into sequence like a Mary Poppins musical number, and you may be paralyzed by too much choice, or uncertainty as to which are the ‘best’ ideas.

So, here’s my mantra on this one: open all those tabs of half-begun stories, or assemble all those notebook pages on your bed. Concentrate on each idea in turn, and simply feel which one is most ready to open up.

Perhaps the mutant plant adventure seemed good when zombies were in full swing, but now there’s no more plot coming.

Maybe you pick up the scrap of paper about the investigation of a trainwreck, and then a woman in black leaps to the snow in the foreground. Suggestions of the stark family issues in Home drift in, and the woman now has a son. And he’s somehow involved with the conductor, who just died…

When it feels like you’ve got a tug on the line, go with that one. Declutter the other scraps into a file, for another time.

With Tools

Ughhh, yesss. What tools do you use as a Writer?

Scrivener? Evernote? Google Drive? Dropbox? Spiral notebooks? Rhyming dictionary? Thesaurus? A drawerful of special pens?

Which ones did you use in the past week? Month? Year?

Having so many things around you is a beguiling crutch, but perhaps it also contributes to that inertia you fight against whenever you sit down to write. (Or stand up)

For me, it is the proliferation of documents, scattered across physical and digital platforms, that makes me feel disorganized and like I can’t get a handle on my ideas and where I should focus.

I can either set up a regular time to scan all of these crevices, or establish a new system and try to stick to it. I’m trying the latter with my sales-tracking, so I think the reminders to scan will suffice for now…as long as I have good accountability buddies.

No mantra on this one yet, then. Maybe you have one to suggest?


Images via Pinterest

Beware the Ides, & Doldrums, of NaNoWriMo

Jessica Yu, Academy Award Winner and Director of “Last Call at the Oasis,” Opening Night, Envision 2012

We’re in the third week, chickadees, and if you are participating in NaNoWriMo along with me, you may be tearing your hair out in desperation, or calmly sipping tea at 43,000 words. Tell us on the community page!

I know there are a million and one excuses to give up, but give yourself a moment to imagine not giving up.

You rearrange commitments in this last week in order to squeak out twice your daily quota.

You ask for help from friends who want you to succeed.

You don’t care anymore about making the words perfect.

You just want to see the end of the story: your story.

And then imagine the result: you’ve got a frickin’ novel in your hands!

You can edit it, crow about it, put it in a drawer, let it stew in the back of your mind until you’re ready to tackle it–but it’s corporeal! You’re on your way!


Image via EnvisionFilm

5 Ways to Celebrate the Authors in your life

National Author Day Eve: 5 Ways to Celebrate the Authors in your Life


  1. Buy an author’s work: BUY, meaning don’t steal, beg, or borrow, and WORK, meaning books, magazine articles, poetry, or journals that have published essays.
  2. Promote an author’s events: attend a reading, bring a friend, buy a book (don’t worry, i’ll only repeat this once), post the reading/signing/party/workshop on your social media–it helps visibility!social-promotion
  3. Spread the word! Talk up the author or book by reviewing the work. Use online sites like Goodreads or LibraryThing, or drop it into conversation at your book club/excuse for drinking wine. Ask your local library to get a copy for your community–it’s easy! Read the book in public–you know people are voyeurs.
  4. Give the author feedback! It makes the author feel seen, appreciated, and respected, while also giving her specific details on what she is doing right and what she may need to work more on. The specific part is key.obama-i-see-you
  5. And last on my personal wish list?? Give an author a hug. A sense of connection is important.dscf0039


Happy National Author’s Day!


Images via InnovationGames, Professional Social PromotionMemeMaker, & Heather’s toes 😉

Enough about Balance–Let’s Talk Soup

I reflect a lot on how my life is going, mainly so I can be sure to give course corrections when needed. And often in the media today, I see a person’s journey framed as a balancing act.

balancing tight rope walking drawing

I have even written about it in such terms myself.

But today I wanted to reframe this discussion: less about how a person moves through life, and more about what makes up that person.

People as Soup

How do you describe yourself, i.e. on a dating profile? Or how do you think your friends describe you to others?


How do you feel fully yourself? What goes into the mix?

For me, it’s:

  • a gallon of quiet time alone
  • a quart and a dollop of quiet writing time (alone)
  • 1 medium hunk social engagement (a social job or personal friend time may be substituted), chopped
  • 2 c exercise, when other ingredients fully absorbed, roughly chopped
  • 1 T travel, preferably to a foreign country, freshly grated
  • 3 1/4 c consuming (reading is best, but up to 3/4 c can be substituted by video, theatre, and music)
  • 2 medium hunks self care, in the form of cooking healthy foods for myself, sliced thinly
  • 1 T something new and unexpected (check your freezer)
  • dashes of appreciation, validation, and hugs really make this recipe sing
  • don’t forget to let mixture rest for 8 hours each time after cooking

Simmer together and season to taste.

Maybe I turn out more of a baked good than a soup??

But what’s in your recipe for feeling fully yourself? This might be a fun party idea…


Images via Wikimedia Commons and Crushable