Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Blue Full Moon

It's New Year's Eve where I am. Some places have already rolled over to 2010 and it's New Year's Day; I have just under 2 1/2 hours to go. Tonight at work someone told me it was a New Moon and a Blue Moon - a rare occurrence. I tried to find the significance of that or some interesting folklore - but didn't. If someone knows some, I'd love to hear it! All I really found was that the idea of a "blue moon" being the second full moon in a month may have been a misinterpretation or may have been a quote taken out of context from an off-hand comment made by a writer in an article. While I couldn't find any specific significance of the Full Blue Moon on New Year's Eve (or any other time, except for around Easter, when a priest used to tell the people which was the real full moon to determine the date of their celebration).

And, while on the subject of the pending New Year - the topic of "resolutions" comes up, of course. A writer I met in Oaxaca in December '08 had a wonderful post about this topic. She said it very well, so I'll share an excerpt and you can click on the link to her blog to read the rest. It's worth the click and time to read!

From Shell at "A Cabin in the Woods":


I hate New Years Resolutions. They are phony set ups designed to manipulate us in to gung ho conquer the world mentalities that result in our crashing and burning. Think about New Years diets – total set up. For two weeks we will lace up our sneakers, walk with purpose for 20, 30. 50 minutes, eat Special K or 100 calorie soup three times a day, and suffer in silence at our internal lack of willpower. Then, we go to lunch with friends and “slip” – its all down hill from there. That is, until the spring when the “get ready for swimsuit season” influx begins again. The same goes for New Years decisions to quit smoking, clean out the garage etc… It’s not that these things don’t sometimes work. They do. But I would argue this has much less to do with the New Year drunken (on food or wine) proclamation than the time just finally being
right. .... "

(click on "Resolute" to read the rest of the essay.)

Yes, this year I think I will follow her lead and focus on my hopes and dreams, rather than resolutions. I have already resolved to be more active and more fit. It's time to follow my dreams and let my hopes instruct me.

Thank you, Shell, for your insight (as "unacademic" as it may be deemed, it is powerful and what we need to hear ... right on!).

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Favorite blogs: writers & writing

I've added a couple more blogs to my reader recently and I thought I'd share some of them. I used to put bookmarks in a folder called "blogs" (original, I know); but then I had to remember to open the file and click to link to them and then scan through the blog since the last time I'd been there to find what I wanted to read.

That system failed.

Then I tried a couple different readers and found one that works well. And I have it set up so that when I open up my computer, there are the posts that have happened since the last time I was on. I can open and read them or not - hold them for later, whatever. I know you all know the drill.

But as I added one more blog to the ever growing list today, I decided I wanted to share a few of the writer's blogs I have listed. There are more - but here are a few to sample.

Ariel Gore

WOW! Women on Writing

Writing Under Pressure

A Cabin in the Woods

The Editing Room

Portland Women Writers Workshop

"Voices Against Violence" zine submission deadline extended

Great project still needs submissions.

The editors

have extended the deadline for the Voices Against Violence zine to Feb. 2nd. Here’s the original call out[inserted below]

What we’ve got so far has been great, but I’d like to see some responses and issues still not addressed and artwork.

Included topics can be: healing from trauma, transformative words used as a healing mechanism, enabling healing, life after trauma, self-help guides/resources, self-healing, dancing as means to healing, healing through narration, forgiveness (do we need it?), & collective trauma.

Here is the original call for submissions, which includes more information:

Call out for Submissions

Voices Against Violence Zine is accepting submissions for our next issue. Please send in your essays, poetry, letters, personal accounts, artwork & photography to be included.

What is the Voices Against Violence Zine? A small zine-diy style, with work from people of color, indigenous folks, trans people & queer survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence and sexual assault. Included topics can be: healing from trauma, transformative words used as a healing mechanism, enabling healing, life after trauma, self-help guides/resources, self-healing, dancing as means to healing, healing through narration, forgiveness (do we need it?), & collective trauma.

Voices Against Violence zine is to be used as a community teaching tool, as a jump off for discussion and creative outlet and for conversations that need to happen.

Voices Against Violence is part of Café Revolución, with help from Philly’s Pissed. Check out their downloads.

Send submissions in English, Spanish, tex-mex, spanglish or any combination* via email, either in text in the body of the email or attached in .txt format to noemi.mtz (at) gmail dot com.

In the subject enter voices against violence submission. Include a brief bio, your mailing address, website if any. Mention your zine or any upcoming projects you’d like. If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know or include a pen name. Email any photos, artwork as an attachment.

*translations would be cool but not necessary.

The editor, Noemi, of this zine is a skilled writer and all around awesome person I met through Ariel Gore online workshops. Submit if you have something and feel free to contact Noemi with any questions.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I could walk faster!

surprise snow snarls roadways
What a headline, right?

Although I didn't find it too amusing when I volunteered to go in to my part-time job early to cover for some people who couldn't make it through the snow. The volunteering part was fine; a little extra cash - no problem. I have studded tires and could do it. The "no fun" part was that I had no idea it would take me five hours. Yes, you read that correctly. Five hours to go a total of about 18 miles.

Truly, I could have walked there faster.

Oh, well. I did make it. And 1.5 hours before the shift I was already scheduled. Now I just hope that my car is okay, because it wouldn't shift out of first gear once I got to the part of the freeway where we were going over 7 mph. And my car wouldn't go very fast, the RPMs rose but it slugged along. Hopefully it will be cooled and working properly. Or else I'll be taking the side roads, less traveled, slower, on the way home. And hope they are plowed or sanded. Or maybe crawl along part of the freeway.

Here's hoping it will shift properly. I can't quite walk 20 mph - but it would be really annoying.

Especially after 5 hours to go 18 miles.

Ah, snow. Beautiful. And if people would just accept that it's not plain rain and it's not dry pavement, I think I could have done it in 2 hours.

Monday, December 28, 2009

resource: The Internet Writing Workshop

Stumbled across this resource for prompts and other writerly exercises and resources. They have received the Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers award.

As a taste, here is their most recent exercise:

It's A Crime!

Created by:
Alice Folkart
Posted on: 27 Dec 2009

Exercise: In 400 words or less write a scene with at least two
characters and a crime in progress. Give a clear idea of the place and time, what kind of crime it is, who is committing it and happens. .....

Click on the title link (It's A Crime) to get the rest of the information about the exercise!
Below is their statement of who they are from the website.
The Internet Writing Workshop has monitored critique groups for
fiction, nonfiction, novels, romance, short prose, poetry, scriptwriting, and
practice writing. Each have participation requirements. The IWW also has groups
discussing the art and craft of writing in general, creative nonfiction,
speculative fiction, and marketing. The IWW is a cooperative. Membership is

Sunday, December 27, 2009

art, culture, open mic

I'm putting together a resource list of spoken word/literary reading events in and around Portland. I will announce more as I get the website set up and have a clearer vision of where I'm going with this. (I did purchase a domain name last night, which I'm also keeping secret until I know better the structure of what I'm doing!)

In my research, I ran across Colored Pencils, which presents Art and Culture Nights, which includes open mic. I have seen a couple of announcements for these - but have never been. Here is one video from their website to whet your appetite!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

but, really...

I do wish everyone the best of the season: joy, prosperity, fulfillment, and boundless creative energy.

Happy Creating and may inspiration take up residence in your home.



Okay - now I've said it. done. (happy holidays. merry christmas. happy new year.)

How about: Happy HanSolMasZa !?!

Soon, we can return to our regular lives. Right? Okay - I'm done grousing. I'm just so done with the traffic and the hundreds of times a day I say or sign one of the above in one of its various incarnations (just as we say it differently in English, there are different ways to sign the concepts, too - some more correct than others and the three I put at top are, well, not anywhere close to correct, though often used).

Not judging, just venting.


And the xmas tunes are stuck in my head. Which can be seen as either a positive distraction (phone ringing, looping messages while on hold) or an interruption ("I'm sorry, you said your name is what?").

Back to it.

One more day of the music. Two more days of shopping / traffic nightmare (Saturday is the only day of the year for worse shopping nightmares than "black friday") - although tomorrow won't be busy unless one needs to go to the store and can find the couple in the area that are open.

Griping done!

Lunch time.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Manuscript contest

AWP Award Series series begins accepting submissions in January

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) is a nonprofit organization of writers, teachers, colleges, and universities. AWP sponsors an annual competition for the publication of excellent new book-length works—the AWP Award Series. The competition is open to all authors writing in English regardless of nationality or residence. The Donald Hall Prize for Poetry is an award of $4,000 and publication for the best book-length manuscript of poetry. This competition is open to published and unpublished poets alike. The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction awards the winner $4,000 and publication. Winners in the novel and creative nonfiction categories receive a $2,000 cash honorarium from AWP and publication. The Award Series conducts an evaluation process of writers, for writers, by writers. AWP hires a staff of “screeners” who are themselves writers; the screeners review manuscripts for the judges. Typically, the screeners will select ten manuscripts in each genre for each judge’s final evaluations.

Go to the AWP website for more information, including formatting and other guidelines.

Quote for today

From Twyla Tharp in her book, "The Creative Habit"

"If art is the bridge between what you see in your mind and what the world sees, then skill is how you build that bridge."

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice Blessings

Celebrating the return of the light: new beginnings and hopes, renewal of commitments an purpose, reversals of all that is harmful. A reconnection to ourselves and our community and our earth.


Celebrate with a piece of the past: Jethro Tull's Winter Solstice and the 1976 promo video for the song.

May your sense of purpose be clear and your path well lit. Remember those who are with you in spirit, as well as in body, and walk toward the light.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cafe Mundo

It seems to rarely be open, no matter the time of day or time of year. But today, with the fog from the ocean ebbing and flowing like the tide, I sit - again - across the street, sipping another soy latte. Munching on a hazelnut brandy biscotti. And above the cement wall decorated with sidewalk chalk, where the next night's guest musician is announced, a waiter all in black and a half apron comes out of the ivy and overgrowing bush and. Lights a torch.

A light in the growing darkness, shimmering on the breeze, announcing they are open.

And I wonder. Maybe tonight I'll go.

Or not. I take my latte and walk down the street, away from the flames of quiet business blooming.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

character sketch

Before I could even see if the person was male or female. Before I could see the neon green running shoes or the shiny incredibly fake red fur of the hat and the just as equally fake, glowing in its whiteness, fur brim. Before any of that, what I saw through the window of the coffee store, were twinkling tiny Christmas lights, shimmering and glowing as if they were hanging outside in the wind.

But they weren't.

I blinked and looked again. Yes, the lights were moving now. Yes, the lights were surely on a person unless the coffee shop had decided to install and human sized mechanical dancing skinny tree of some kind. Because I couldn't see any branches and the sign behind which the lights were peeking out was too thin for the tree to have any volume at all.

But the glare on the window prevented me from seeing who or what the lights were hanging on and why they were now dancing. I opened my car door, got out, and stepped back to close the door. That was the moment the neon green shoes came in to view. Then a peak of the red hat from over the sign.

A couple people moved closer and I saw blue jeans approach the counter and the barister laughing. As I approached the door, I could see clearly that the laughter was of familiarity and fondness, not fake like the Santa hat or mocking like the evil grinning elf hanging by a thread in the window.

Two young children rushed in the door just ahead of me and ran to her. She laughed with them and talked and then their mother came a few minutes later.

When the woman with lights sat at a table, the children came to her and listened to her stories. Other customers came and went and many of them approached her, greeted her, and listened as she explained her upcoming volunteer gig, or the one she had to turn down, or the friend she was going to deliver a meal to tomorrow.

A not quite jingling presence whom almost everyone seemed to know.

Confidently sitting at the table, working in her pencil puzzle book. sipping coffee and juice. With a smile and a story for every interruption.

Happy to be sitting here in the middle of the comings and goings. Happy to greet another face and know somebody cares.

Monday, December 14, 2009


- Half marathon? check.
- NaNoWriMo 50,000 words? check.
- Facilitator bag returned to Write Around Portland? check. (Minus my prompts sheets; need to mail them; they got lost in a tumble of paperwork.)
- Students' final assignments graded? check. Final grades submitted? check check.
- Relay team registered, campsite reserved, shirts ordered? checkity check check.
- Play interpreted? done.
- The term is done now. The semester ends this week. Then I have two weeks until the term starts and I will be teaching 2 practicum courses and a process course.


Breathe. More to go but for the moment - breathe.

Today I met with a writing friend for the first time in a month - it was great. It's been a long month. I hadn't picked up my NaNoNovel -which isn't done- since Thanksgiving; it was still sitting at 51,546. And that's okay. I added a little to it today and had a couple ideas. It felt good to write. I also prepared another flash fiction piece for a competition - but they don't accept online submissions, so I have to wait until I get home and can print it and mail it with a check.


Some parts of the Portland metro area had snow/ice issues on Saturday. One of them was the national certification testing site. Two people's tests were postponed. There's more to the story, but the tests have to be done this week. I am a "local testing administrator." I had an evening free. Now I don't; which is fine - I'm doing it for my profession and the communities we serve.


Friday through Monday I will be off work. Trying to not work; to not prepare for the classes I will be teaching winter term. Trying to rest and sleep and get back some motivation for doing the things I love.

Is this the winter blues? Or is this the post big event let down - which happens for many after NaNoWriMo and, I'm guessing, after marathons. I think that's it.

A few days. Breathe. Sleep. Watch the ocean's ebb and flow. Sleep. Breathe.

A little time away. To slow down.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Connections: a resource and a note

WOW (Women on Writing) has an awesome online issue related to connecting authors and agents. I have not yet perused all of the available information, but it includes items such as pitching your novel, editing, interviews, how to ___, and more. Click on the link to see what they have to offer.

And, speaking of connections, I have been in that stage myself. Connecting the Me who walked a half marathon and won NaNoWriMo simultaneously, with the Me who is an interpreter and interpreter educator, and a writer, and finally - I hope - getting rid of the last remnants of this head cold. Where do I go from here?

Well, let me tell you! I have already started the 2010 Cascade Lakes Relay team meetings and clinics. Last week I signed up for the first annual Portland HALF Marathon which will be on 10-10-10 (about time, folks! the half marathon has been missing from this otherwise great annual event - the Portland Marathon). Last week the Miss Fit Dragons dragon boat team had our first meeting; I will be the tiller, again. And I submitted a short story to a contest last week, as well.

I have also managed to get close to eight hours of sleep almost every night. I started with short walks this week and go back to personal training tomorrow morning. And I have final papers to grade for students in the class that just ended.

And yesterday I set up some writing dates with my friend, mentor, inspiration, and all around awesome writer, Jenny.

Connecting: me to me. Working out, walking and events, interpreting and teaching, and writing. When I complete the story of this year's NaNoNovel (I passed the 50,000 - but the story is not yet done), I am planning to return to complete a revision of last year's NaNoNovel. I was making good headway on the editing process for the 2008 novel, but was temporarily sidetracked by the 2009 novel. I think my style is to do the nanonovel and then let it sit for a while. It grows either better or worse with age; but it grows. If I look at it too quickly, I can't see as well what works or doesn't. I need time away from the story to be able to approach it fresh and ready to keep or toss as needed. Besides, I really like last year's novel and would love to see it published.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

looking for a quote

I have too much to say and no time to write it and so I decided to look for a quote. About something. My only requirement in my search was that it was something *I* liked.

Then I found this one and it made me think. I decided that a thought provoking quote was even better.

Willa Cather
"Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen."
Willa Cather

Thursday, December 3, 2009

NaNoWriMo: monthly stats

So, just how many people did participate? Pass the 50k mark?

Here is the latest from the Office of Letters and Light, for 2009 NaNoWriMo:

  • This year, we has 167,150 participants, up 40% from 2008's total of 119,301.
  • We wrote a total of 2,427,190,537 words, up 48% from 2008's collective word count of 1,643,343,993.
  • This averaged out to 14,531 words per person.
  • We had 32,173 winners, up 48% from 2008's total of 21,683.
  • This gave us a 19.2% win rate, the highest in modern NaNoWriMo history. (Last year we had an 18.2% win rate; in 2007 it was 15.1%).
Top 20 Wordiest NaNoWriMo Regions
1. Seattle
2. Maryland
3. Los
4. Germany and Austria
5. New York City
6. Chicago
7. Holland and Belgium
8. Twin Cities
9. London
10. Dallas/Ft. Worth
11. Portland
12. Atlanta
13. Denver
14. Austin
15. East Bay
16. Toronto
17. Northern Virginia
18. Boston
19. Melbourne
20. England, Elsewhere
Top 10 NaNoWriMo Cities according to Google Analytics, based on
Number of November Visits from those Fine Places

1. London 109,608
2. New York 53,280
3. Seattle 46,252
4. Los Angeles 44,234
5. Portland 39,124
6. San Francisco 38,047
7. Melbourne 33,916
8. Sydney 33,042
9. Denver 32,369
10. Chicago 32,237

Good showing, Portland, Oregon!