Saturday, August 28, 2010

Razor's Edge for 8/27/10

Today you get word prompts. With follow-up!

Choose one of these prompts and write for 10 minutes. Go back and give them a slight clean-up edit if you'd like - but don't overwork them. The point is to keep the energy of the raw freewrite.

Then follow the instructions at the bottom of this post.

Prompt #1:

"As Eulah stepped from the pink Cadillac ...

Prompt #2:

"I stood at the edge, looking across the water to ...

Go - write for 10 minutes.

After a brief clean-up, make a list of 3 to 4 questions for a reader of this piece of writing. Select at least one person, preferably two or three, and email your story with the type of feedback you want to get.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

workshop plus: FAT: Feminist Artists Together, A (Wo)Manifesto

A new writing event/workshop I received an email about today. This is a brand new group in the Portland, OR, area - I don't know anything about them. But it looks interesting. Let me know what you think if you attend; I'll be interpreting ZZ Top for part of it and working for the other part.

This is the start of something big. Whether or you know it or not, you are already a part of it. FAT (Feminist Artists Together) is a collective of female artists and feminists (that’s you, boys!) who have joined together to support one another in the making of art. This ultimate goal of this enterprise is to provide outreach and education to young women interested in any and all forms of artistic expression.

Some upcoming FAT events:
FAT Writer’s Festival and Workshop: Focusing on Poetry, Prose and Memoir. Lead by Alexis White (Carleton English ’08, OSU MFA Poetry ’11) Claire Wilson (Smith College BA Women and Gender Studies, Spanish, Marlyhurst MA Divinity ’11) and Sarah O’Mally (Carleton College BA Spanish, University of Portland MAT Education). At the Lotus Seed. Friday 8/27 6-9 pm, Saturday 8/28 11-3 pm, 8/29 6-9 pm. Cost is $10 per day or $25 for the weekend.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

not a book review: The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide


"Urban Petroglyph" by Dot Hearn. From the Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt collection.

Yesterday I received a book in the mail from a friend. She ended up with an extra copy and wanted to share her spare - which I greatly appreciate. She and I have never met in person; we met through an online writing workshop a couple years ago - Ariel Gore's Lit Star Training for Wayward Writers. We also discovered that we are in the same pay-the-bills profession. Then later, that we both work part-time for the same company, in addition to the post-secondary and freelance work we do. Our small world grew smaller - although we still live nearly 2000 miles apart.

The book she sent me is, "The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide" by Becky Levine. I have a stack of writing books - truly a stack - ranging from the traditional and new style & grammar guides, several perspectives on writing memoir (including Judith Barrington & Natalie Goldberg), general writing advice (Ariel Gore, Peter Brooks, 826, Sage Cohen), publishing (Bonnie Hearn HIll, Gotham Writers), and so on. Some partially read, some completely unread as of yet, a few completed. I thought I'd take a quick glance through the book and then add it to the 'nuts and bolts' section of my pile. (See, my bookshelves are all full. Yes, all of them - there are bookshelves in every room of the house except the bathrooms - and they are all full.)

I had an appointment this morning, after which I planned a treat of Morroccan Oatmeal and a latte afterwards at a nearby restaurant. So I took the new book with me for glancing. Much to my delight and surprise, I'm a couple chapters into the book. And I did not put it on my pile when I returned home to change and get ready for work; I put it in my take-to-work bag. I am already mulling over information from the beginning of the book and it is building on an idea I had last week about setting up a manuscript/book-length project group (which may start with 2 or 3 people).

It looks like my latest addition will be one of the "done" books before too long. I haven't read enough to give a review - but in my fast-paced life, I think it is a good testament that it's my carry-with-me book and that the author hooked me in right away.

Thank you, Christi, for sending me the book. Thank you, Becky, for writing the book!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

workshop: Make Your Story Sing (and Sell):

Make Your Story Sing (and Sell): a workshop with Sage Cohen and Jessica Morrell  
Want to spend a delicious day at one of the most beautiful places on earth, learning how to make your language leap off the page? I'd like to spend that day with you! Let's do it.
The Center for Contemplative Arts, Manzanita, Oregon
October 23, 2010 : 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Visit Writing the Life Poetic, Sage Cohen's blog, for more details.

I attended workshops by each of these women at the Willamette Writers Conference and this should be a powerful and beneficial experience on the Oregon coast. I'll be attending a workshop by Ariel Gore that same weekend, or else I'd see you on the beach!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Razor's Edge for 8/20/10

This week's theme is Strangers.

In keeping with the origins of the naming of my weekly prompts, this theme came about through what I can only describe as an act of synchronicity and, perhaps, fate. When I first came up with the name, Razor's Edge, I was delighted by this idea and was (still am) building my website and stacking up the concepts to create a whole. But, as anyone might want to do before you go public with a name, a little research is in order. First, to make sure it's not a trademark or copyrighted. Then to see what references you can find - is it used as a label, a movie, a book - what are the associations with the word or phrase.

I discovered that "Razor's Edge" was a book (later made into a movie) by W. Someset Maugham. It concerns a traumatized man in search of transcendent meaning in life. Perfect! I thought. That is what writing is - or can be. My plan was to keep the website multimedia, multi-experiential and experimental - in flow with the energies of life. So I went with it.

This website brought me a friend, via my posts about NaNoWriMo. Last year my now writing friend, Deb, was looking online for information about the November event. My blog came up. She emailed me. We corresponded and then met at the midnight write-in on October 31st/November 1st. Since that time we've met about once a month on average to write - with other correspondence in-between. We've found a comfortable balance when we get together of catching up on our lives, and writing, and drinking coffee or having dinner.

NaNoWriMo also helped bring me together with my good friend and nearly weekly writing partner, Jenny. Jenny and I were in an online workshop with Ariel Gore two years ago. November came around and there were several of us (who are actually scattered around the country - well, the world) were participating. Jenny and I emailed about meeting up locally since we're both in Portland, and we did. From there our friendship and writing commeraderie has grown and is fairly regular nearly two years later.

Then tonight Deb and I were at one of our local favorite writing hangouts to write. We chatted, had our yummy sandwiches, wrote. Then, about four hours later, just as Deb started packing up to go, a man came up behind us. He said he couldn't help but notice my shirt and asked if we did NaNoWriMo. I was wearing the brown t-shirt with the logo and "author" on the front and NaNoWriMo 10 on the back. He recently moved here from Tucson, AZ, and has done NaNoWriMo for five years. We talked for a while and the three of us exchanged email addresses.

He does NaNoWriMo and he's in my favorite writing spot - one of the only decent 24-hour places to do that. He can't be all bad, right?

He took the initiative to approach us and ask. And seems really nice. Thank you, David!

[1] Think about strangers - people you see around you right now and you don't know - in the cafe with you, walking down the street, someone on the bus this morning.
[2] Then listen to the Billy Joel song (a live clip from 1977).
[3] Finally, pick a number between 1 and 12. What you will do is click on each of these links and then, in each, click on the number you chose. You are going to use the people in these photographs by Serena Davidson as your Strangers.
Set a timer for about 10 minutes and write about these two strangers meeting. Where are they? Why are they there? How do they meet? Remember to use the same number photograph in each set.


Billy Joel performing "The Stranger" live in 1977


Thursday, August 19, 2010

new writing by local author

My friend and writing partner just had a story published at Voices From the Garage. This was a trip into a new genre for her and I'm excited that the publication recognized her skill and published this story.

Click on the link to read A Compatibilist Woman: Crime and Poetry by Jenny Forrester. I'm confident the beginning will pull you in to read the entire story. Make sure to click on Read More at the end of the teaser to get to the story in its entirety!

Congratulations, Jenny!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

submit: Reading Local is seeking submissions from Portland writers

Reading Local is seeking short fiction and nonfiction from Portland writers

Arthur Smid is helping Reading Local Portland find short stories to publish.

From Arthur:
"By seeking out emerging talent, requesting stories from established writers, and accepting submissions, the online literary journal at Reading Local Portland will create awareness among writers of their contemporaries and build an audience for new work. The goal is to provide an online page of Portland-based literary fiction and narrative nonfiction.  
Beginning in September, Reading Local will publish one new story (up to 1,500 words) each week from writers living in the Portland area. We are not able to pay contributors at this time. Authors retain all rights and own their work. Send your story (up to 1,500 words) with a brief bio (and link to your website) to smidarthur(at)gmail(dot)com."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Discussion: Pen Name?

There is an interesting thread that started in my writing group just over a week ago. I've been thinking about it since it was posted, and just took the opportunity to reply. One member brought up the topic of using a pen-name - to use one or to not; and when or why.

Here is my reply to the thread. I'd love to get your opinions on using pseudonyms. What are your pros and cons? When would you use one or not? Post a comment and let me know. note: this is not a question for writers only; artists, photographers, actors, dancers ... let me know. To be You or not to be You, that is the question.

My post from the discussion thread in my online writing community:

I've thought about a pen name off and on since I've been writing. As a teenager I did pick out a pen name - I don't think I ever submitted anything under it ... and I still remember it, although now it seems pretty lame - it was a 70s name after all *grin*.  
I, too, considered at one time going with pseudonyms for different genres. But I figure now, with the easy access information age, what's the point? Pseudonyms are pretty simple to discover - although I'm sure there are authors hiding that we don't know about yet :-) .  
I like the concept of a "brand" and can see that - and isn't that what the 'platform' age of writing is about (ooops, is my bias showing?!!). I could see doing that if I was doing a couple of really disparate genres that might not mix well. Or not.
And when I first started venturing into memoir - oh, the shock! No, I can't do that. I have to change the names and change my name... But the reality is - and I just saw an article yesterday that said a similar thing - that people believe my fiction more than they believe my memoir; some of the feedback I've gotten on some parts of the memoir are things like "but she would never do/say/feel/react that way..." - but I did. And in the fiction, there are comments like "it's so real".
And I read some other famous author who said that memoir is that one person's perspective and others in the same situation may have experienced it differently. And I have only to look at my mother and her twin sister - they have pretty different perspectives on some things from their childhood and they are identical twins and were raised together. So, if someone hollers about things in the memoir - well, it's MY story.
So I decided that I would probably just be me - even though "Dot Hearn" doesn't roll off the tongue, is awkward, harsh, not memorable ... But it's me writing. Sometimes I just sign things Dot.
Sometimes I want to get rid of the last name - change it; I don't want to carry around my family name. But haven't found anything that sticks with me. Maybe if I ever come up with a line of greeting cards I'll brand them with something else. Or start writing erotic noir stories. Maybe.
And maybe I like being complex. Or maybe I'm just being rebellious against the notion that I have to make myself into a character in order to succeed as a writer and need to build a platform around an image. Can't I just be me and write the stories - letting them speak for themselves? Do I have to be slotted into a mold?
I am trying to build my writing business name, that's how I'm "branding" - but I think I'll keep with my name as the author, as the writer. At least for now.

drawing from "Words With No Names" on wordpress

Monday, August 16, 2010


I wasn't planning to take a week off of The Writing Vein. But I found myself going non-stop from the morning of Tuesday, August 3rd until, well, right now - nearly 2:30 AM on Monday - no, make that Tuesday, August 16th. I attempted to keep a few things going with posting some writing events and contests that caught my attention. I made a few posts throughout the Willamette Writers Conference - where I was volunteering and attending. I was also doing interpreitng work at that same time. And all of that ran into me going out of town for three days to the Oregon Star Party - a five-hour drive each direction. Out to Indian Trail Spring in the middle of the Ochoco Forest, without my computer and with weak cell phone service (most people had none) and a car charger that died on the drive out. I think the dead charger was the universe telling me to unplug for a couple of days! I turned my Blackberry off except for a couple of quick text messages to home and a couple of urgent theater related emails.

And I didn't mean to just drop out of site. But I did.

Now I'm back. With some quick writes done, a couple of writing assignments completed and submitted to my writing group/class/workshop. And working on translations and preparation for interpreting ZZ Top on the 27th and Lynyrd Skynyrd on the 3rd - creative and time consuming.

In thinking about this post, I realized I didn't know where to begin. There is so much left undiscussed here that I have done in the last couple of months. So I started with why the recent gap happened. And I will add in more details about adventures later. They are all good and mostly "big": my dragon boat team taking 3rd place in our division, rafting the Grand Canyon for 8 days; cutting our team time by 76 minutes in the Cascade Lakes Relay and having an average pace of only 3/100ths of a second slower than the next team ahead of us. Then there were the other great events, though probably of less magnitude in terms of impact on my life: the Willamette Writers' Conference and the Oregon Star Party.

And I'm working on the novel again. I rescheduled the writing road trip for me memoir due to weather and that the original trip was early December and not the middle of August - although I won't be making the drive in December since we may hit snow and ice. Being back in the writing group is helping get me get writing back up my priority list, again - it was always there but time was short. Now, it's back up there where time is made for it; the big adventures are done.

With all of this will be a return to more regular posts. Also - keep your eyes on the posts over the next couple of months. I have plans for some changes and things are in the works. Part of it depends on the asisstance of other people, so I won't say anything more for now. I will share a picture I found online from last year's Oregon Star Party. I have a few pictures I took, which I will share later. The picture below is from - it shows only one small section of several little hills where this scene was repeated over and over. Hot during the day, chilly at night - and an incredible, amazing view of the stars and - my reason for going - the Perseid Meteor showers.

It was also the perfect venue to finally get to read the second installment of the Star Crossed series, Taurus Eyes, by Bonnie Hearn Hill. It was a wonderful read and I can't wait for the third book in a couple months.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Razor's Edge for 8/6/10

From Thursday night's Paddling Poet workshop:

Write about your shadow side - that part of you that you try to cover up or ignore because it's too wild or too out of the status quo.

-or if that one doesn't resonate, use this one:

Tell me the one thing you know best. What is it? How did you come to know it? How does this fit in the rest of your life? If you were called as an expert to talk about this, what would you say?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Three days to submit poetry for iPhone app

Yesterday, Sage Cohen wrote:

Four more days to submit to "The Life Poetic iPoem Contest!"

There's still time to submit to "The Life Poetic iPoem Contest!" Your poem could appear on an iPhone app that features a poem a day for a year.

Enter to win a variety of prizes, with a total value of more than $400 -- plus the priceless delight of having your poetry shared far and wide.

Get all of the details here!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

California's Prop 8 Unconstitutional

From Lorri L Jean at the LA Gay Center:
Today, Justice Vaughn Walker issued a historic decision in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case challenging Prop. 8. Walker’s ruling striking down Prop. 8 is clearly a milestone victory for all gay, lesbian and bisexual Californians, our families and our friends. But much more than that, it is a resounding affirmation of fundamental American ideals and core principles of the U.S. Constitution.
The LA Gay Center and Basic Rights Oregon (BRO), as well as other progressive and civil rights organizations warn that this is not the end of the dispute. We can't just sit back and assume this decision will stand and that equal rights will reign. However, each decision in favor of equality in the legal institution of marriage, can bring us one step closer to it being a reality. It is unrealistic to expect that the opponents will give up. I know that the issue here in Oregon of equal treatment comes up very often in our initiative system. Each time something is voted down, those teaching/preaching hate against LGBTQ people come back out with a new approach. Or join forces with other groups. Or go national. 

So, this is a victory - yes. And there are already new actions that have been started. This is an important victory, though. And, perhaps, it is one step toward someday being viewed as equal in terms of our commitments and our rights. 

The following is one ad from BRO on the issue. 

Let's celebrate this victory. And not let down our guard. Rest and recover - because we are not done yet.

Celebrate the good news.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

quick update

...and with a promise of more to come...

CLR Van#2: Esther, me,
Nikki, Gaik, and driver Gwen
My team - the MissFit WiseWalkers - made an awesome showing at this year's Cascade Lakes Relay in Central Oregon. We completed the 132.4 miles walking course in an hour and sixteen minutes less than we did last year. We were last in our division - and that's okay. We were only seven minutes and a few odd seconds behind the next to last team - which is really good. Our average pace was only three-tenths of a second (!!) slower than that team. We all came through it feeling pretty good - some aches, a few blisters, a little stiffness = normal parts of doing a distance relay event in the mountains of the desert in the summer for 32+ hours straight.

And we had fun.

There will be pictures.

I arrived home Sunday night to discover my car battery was dead and my cat was dying and then my partner's car wouldn't start in the vet's parking lot. There is more to that story, which will have to wait. Someday the pieces of that string of events will be funny - but I need more time.

Our living room currently houses the storage boxes with the team's supplies and my personal items from being the Team Captain for the relay; with the "welcome home" events last night and then work today I haven't had time to put them away. The dining room has been strewn with art supplies and outfits and my partner's personal items, who is flying out tomorrow morning to teach and take classes an art conference. We are a whirlwind of activity. Thank goodness the writing conference I am attending and volunteering at is local and needs no supplies.

My life is very full right now - of good things. Minus one old part-Siamese tortoise shell tabby, who I miss.