Just in time for the New Year: Mouth of the Border, Emily Cavalier’s Brooklyn-based food blog. Honestly, it’s scrumptious! To die for! You can get so lost in it a half-hour passes after just glancing at her latest post. Read. Relax. Relish.
This week the spotlight shines on the Inkygirl blog http:www.inkygirl.com. You can click here for the most amazing compilation of internet resources for writers (including Twitter info and tutorials) ever! It’s a holiday gift for writers on its own!
Enjoy it. 🙂
Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore opened by American George Whitman in 1951, is holding their first Paris Literary Prize for a novella. See the rules and details here. There is also a video made by Mr. Whitman’s daughter about the prize. View the video here.
The deadline has been extended to 18 December, 2010. This deadline is for the first 3000 words, but the finished novella’s length must be 20,000 to 30,000 words long. Those making the final cut will be notified in February. If you decide to enter, good luck!
This winter take a freelance writing class from the comfort of your own home by conference and online. Learn everything you need to know to get started writing and submitting your articles for magazines and newspapers. Basics of the business covered, terminology, anatomy of an article, how to communicate with editors, editing, polishing, and marketing.
For more information visit the ‘Classes’ page.
This week the blog favorite is Victoria Smith’s ‘SF Girl By Bay’, voted as a top designer blog by the London Times. It’s quirky, classy, and has endless selections of columns to read with names like “Poppytalk” and “Apartment Therapy”. Ms. Smith calls her blog one of “Modern Bohemian Design,” and it is a feast for the senses, featuring linens and weaves, textures and color. Wrapping up these sensual delights are Victoria Smith’s fun words; they teach and amuse at the same time. Enjoy this blog with your afternoon tea and fog.
Where To Find Blogs
Making Money From Your Blog
For Writers (by Writers)
E Book Publishers DIY
E Book Bloggers
Twitter Chats, Guide, Etc…
Breast Cancer: A Portland Portrait Part One
Symbols of Beauty and Intimacy
Surely the most mysterious part of the human anatomy, they are canons of beauty; powerful symbols of intimacy for women – intimacy in relationships between a woman and her lover, a mother and child, with society, and even with herself. Our culture is obsessed with breasts, covering them, revealing them – changing them in every way. Mothers give life to babies with them, making them as miraculous as the stars in the nighttime sky. The miracle that gives life, though, can threaten to take it away when something goes wrong. When a woman finds a lump in one breast as she showers; when a routine mammogram ends up unexpectedly taking all afternoon instead of the usual half-hour, or when out of the blue, a woman finds it difficult to raise her arm – the consequences of these symptoms can be deadly.
There is no cure for breast cancer because the cause is not yet known. Some of the country’s finest crusaders against the disease are right here in Portland. At the top of this list of heroes are patients and their families. They are mothers, daughters, sisters and wives and the people who love them. Frequently, patients and their families become advocates, activists and leaders. One day a woman feels healthy and invincible, the next she could be diagnosed without warning. Her life will forever change.
Holley Thompson’s face glows. Her eyes seem to dance. She’s happy to be able to tell her story if it helps someone else. She shows a photo on her laptop of herself pre-cancer; with long, wavy dark hair. Now, it’s very short and blonde. Initially diagnosed with Stage IV in May of 2006, the most advanced stage of cancer, she was told she might have a month to live. Holley had no warning signs. There was no lump in her breast. One month prior she’d found an enlarged lymph node in her armpit, on her daughter’s eleventh birthday. She thought she’d hurt her arm. As a dog-groomer, it became impossible to work; her entire arm hurt.
“We think we’d feel a lump, but that’s not necessarily so.” she says.
At the age of 43, she was four months behind on her yearly mammogram, but wasn’t worried. When antibiotics didn’t work for her arm, her doctor asked about her last mammogram. She’d forgotten. The mammogram led to a flurry of activity, an ultrasound, then biopsy. She had cancer, a very aggressive type.
“The cancer was so small, it was right up against the chest wall, and had already spread from the top of my spine to my femur.”
She spent that month “scanning and staging” and began chemotherapy June 6.
“No one told me the people who give you chemo have to scrub up and wear gowns, masks and gloves. They can’t touch it because it’s poison. I wasn’t prepared for that.”
She was to spend six months doing chemo. She made it three weeks, and ended up in ICU from organ failure, on life support for almost a month.
“At one point, I was lucid enough to know I was dying. I couldn’t talk, and I wanted my family. It was 2 a.m.; I was trying to tell the nurses to call my family. They finally did, my daughter was hysterical. I remember she put two rocks in my hand, and the nurses led her out, she was so upset, but I refused to let go of the rocks. It was my connection to my child.”
How Holley survived is still a mystery. Doctors said it must have solely been her will to live. She went home almost a month later, so weak she could barely eat. She kept throwing up, lost 35 pounds in two months. She spent the summer recovering, with no treatment. She’d put together the Relay for Life and her partner, Mark, wheeled her around the track that summer.
Her health began to turn around after seeking a second opinion with Dr. Devon Webster at OHSU. Everything clicked for Holley with Dr. Webster, who’d memorized Holley’s entire chart before their first appointment. Holley loved her doctor’s name (was asked to call her Devon), her attitude and above all, the hope Dr. Webster gave her.
“For the first time, I thought I might actually be able to live for a number of years. Devon was so positive. She was everything I’ve ever wanted in an oncologist.”
Now an amazing breast cancer source of information, Holley volunteers at St. Vincent’s new Cancer Resource Center, has educated herself on all the types of breast cancer and treatments, participates in listserves, support groups, and organizes Relay for Life near Forest Grove. She recently had a PET scan which showed her body is cancer free, except for two tiny spots. She is very excited, and may plan a trip to England next year.
“I’m more compassionate. I’ve had a lot of time to journal, reflect and think…I would hope…. it’s changed me.”
She spends precious time with family, her horses, the Relay, and as a volunteer.
PSU Assistant Professor Susan Reese went in for her routine Mammogram while on Winter Break in December 2005. She mentioned some pain in her left breast. She ended up spending most of the afternoon at Meridian Park – by the time she left she was scheduled for a biopsy. She was on Highway 205 on December 29th, it was pouring rain, her phone rang, her doctor had results. They talked for ten minutes.
All Susan remembers was “blah, blah, blah….cancer.” Suddenly, as with all cancer patients, it was a scramble for information on treatments. It was mind-boggling.
“You have to make decisions about life and death you’re not prepared to make” says Susan.
Like Holley, finding the right oncologist was almost magical. Her twenty-something daughter picked up a copy of Portland Monthly, pointed to Dr. Nathalie Johnson’s picture on the cover, and said “This is who you ought to see, Mom.” Susan looked at the cover, phoned St. Vincent’s to see if she could even see a doctor who was on the cover of a magazine, and made an appointment. As soon as she met Dr. Johnson, she “knew this was the person.”
Late January, Susan had a mastectomy. Scheduled to teach at PSU for Winter Term, she was also supposed to go to a writing residency for Pacific University’s MFA program. PSU was extremely supportive. She decided to go to the residency and not teach that term. On the coast Susan wrote twenty-four hours a day and found support with writers and faculty like Marvin Bell and Peter Sears, her advisor, whom she says was a ‘knight in shining armor.”
“Every person who is diagnosed with breast cancer should take two weeks between the diagnosis and surgery and go to a writing residency,” laughs Susan.
Her husband thought she’d come back from surgery groggy and depressed. He heard her as she was returning from Recovery. Susan had been so afraid she’d die, that she was yelling “I’m alive! I’m alive!” as she was wheeled down the hall.
Recovery at home was difficult; she couldn’t even make it up the stairs to the bedroom at first. Susan had drains and bulbs and had to measure fluids. Her husband posted instructions on the wall for caregivers; she had a listserv of people for updates. Susan slept in the basement and remembers feeling she had to have poet Ted Kooser’s Winter Morning Walks, a book he wrote as a result of his own battle with cancer. Initially she thought “I don’t need that book.” but after ‘first steps’ in the driveway, she decided she “had to have Ted Kooser’s book.” After several weeks, she made it to the bedroom. “It was like climbing Mt. Everest,” she recalls.
She returned to teaching for Spring Term, and, after a second surgery in May, graduated in June. She finds it “All pretty astonishing!” She teaches a course called Writing to Heal. Her students know her as a llama-raising, dragon-boating writing teacher. With her reddish blonde hair, easy smile, and glasses, Susan says she’s now the “poster child for survivors – and for Pink Phoenix,” a dragon-boat team in Portland for Breast Cancer survivors.
Even When You Do Everything Right
Heidi Hochenedel, former professor of Spanish at Marylhurst discovered a lump in the shower at the end of June, 2006. She’d just completed a five-mile run and was feeling healthy. She was to leave the next day on vacation. Though they had discovered something on her recent mammogram, her doctor wasn’t worried. Only 39, Heidi had no family history of cancer, is a vegetarian, ate lots of vegetables and fruits, and never smoked. They scheduled a cautionary biopsy after her vacation. Her husband, Todd, is a doctor at St. Vincent’s. The doctor who conducted the biopsy called him, asking if he wanted to be the one to tell her. Todd, quite shaken, told his wife that evening she had cancer.
Heidi also saw Dr. Nathalie Johnson.
“She’s wonderful. She made it so much easier to handle – we had so many questions. Chemo? Surgery first?”
Still shocked by the diagnosis, Heidi had two different types of breast cancer, and decided on a double mastectomy. Surrounding herself with friends, she had a party before surgery. Everyone brought a stone for a bracelet. Another friend painted her topless on canvas; it elegantly hangs in her bedroom. She had a hat and scarf party before chemo; a few friends shaved their heads. Today she’s lovely with a creamy complexion complemented by dark hair that drapes her neck. You’d never know the battle she’s been through.
“We live in a culture where it’s easy to blame the victim- assume we can prevent cancer by eating right, by not smoking. Cancer didn’t make me feel sick. I felt great. I was sick from the treatment, from chemo.”
Both Heidi and Todd also credit naturopathy for helping Heidi get through chemo. Heidi saw Dr. Barbara MacDonald at A Women’s Time in NW Portland.
“I breezed through chemo because of her regimen.” she says, which included exercise and Chinese herbs.
Husbands and Breast Cancer
Todd says the experience has been “a nightmare.” He says it’s even more difficult because he’s a doctor and felt he had to help her medically, as well as support her as a husband. He helps with their kids and works. Heidi agrees “he was much more upset” than she was. Husbands go through it, too.
Mad Greek Deli owner Pantelis Kosmas knows how deeply husbands suffer. ‘Pondo’ had recently married Gina, a beautiful blonde with three children.
“She’d just had a mammogram, and she was leaning against her computer and felt a lump.” says Pondo.
She had Stage IV cancer, and was given a three to five year prognosis. She began chemo in the fall of 2003.
“She would start feeling better and then she’d start chemo again,” says Pondo.
After thirty-three treatments of radiation, the cancer came back, spreading to her spinal fluid and brain. Gina developed cerebral meningitis and was hospitalized. On July 4th, Pondo spent time with the kids, watched fireworks, then packed a bag and left for the hospital. At 12:30 a.m. on July 5, 2004, Gina died.
Pondo now organizes a team every September for Komen’s Race for the Cure, with over 400 people on his 2005 team, and 500 in 2006.
It Will Take Everyone To Find A Cure
Dr. Devon Webster, herself a breast cancer survivor, is trying to recruit 1,000 people for Race for the Cure, which takes place September 23. A Sisterhood Luncheon happens the day before and is one of only a few in the country. This is a call to Portland to help fund the research that will find the cause of Breast Cancer and ultimately a cure. Will you race, sleep in, or lunch? This disease is not just a woman’s disease, it affects everyone, and it will take the work of everyone to end its destruction. Breast cancer sooner or later affects everyone; you’ll have a friend, your sister, mother-in-law, your wife, a daughter or mother at some point affected by the disease. To discover the cure, researchers must find its cause. To do that, everyone must help. Contact your local Susan G. Komen Foundation office to see how you can get involved. Help is needed year-round—not just in October. The good news is women are living longer and more comfortable lives after diagnosis. If everyone pitches in, the numbers of survivors will continue to rise.
This article, written by Kerri Buckley and first in a series of three, appeared in Portland Family Magazine September 2007. Holley Thompson died in March 2009. Dr. Devon Webster is now seeing patients at the Rose Quarter Women’s Clinic.
30 Fabulous Things for Beach Girl Writers to Do This Summer: A Month of Creative Fun
by Kerri Buckley
…..Summer is upon us and savvy girls who write have the most fun! Reinvent your writing life. Set new goals; act as if you’re already the author you’ve always wanted to be. Fill your best beach bag with sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottle, gel pens, legal pads, journals, dictionary, and thesaurus. Grab your low-fat latte and head for the nearest beach or out-of-the-way spot across town that makes life feel like a vacation. Change your writing life a little—or a lot!
1. Set summer goals. Commit to write five pages a day on your novel or a query a day if you’re a freelancer. Write your morning pages or journal every day because it helps your other work flow. Consider setting a reading goal, such as one book on the craft of writing per month and one literary fiction selection. Make a list of summer classics that you’ve always meant to dive into.
2. Retreat with Mrs. Ramsay in To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.
3. Change your writing spots for one month. Try several different coffeehouses throughout the week: the beach, a park, an overlook, the ferry, or anywhere else that inspires you. Try a sophisticated piano bar that plays classical and jazz in the afternoon, or find an outdoor cafe. Pay attention to the differences at each location. Note where you feel most elegant, most romantic, most connected to nature, and most talented. Each place will give your writing a different flavor.
4. Read On Writing Well by William Zinsser.
5. If you’re a freelancer, plan your articles and queries six months ahead. Prepare for December, January, and February publication.
6. Get lost on the moors with Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
7. Fully utilize your local bookstore. Find the bestseller lists. Check out the Book Source recommendations. Sign up for newsletters and read the latest reviews. Talk to booksellers. Attend free or low-cost events.
8. Enter at least one contest this summer. Check The Writer’s Market, sign up for Writer’s Digest online newsletter, or check out www.newpages.com/NPGuides/litmags.htm to get the latest competition updates.
9. Plan a weekend writing getaway. Pick your favorite nearby spot and write nonstop the entire weekend. Eat exotic food. Dress and act as if you already are the famous author you want to be.
10. Absorb Stephen King’s On Writing.
11. Pick your five favorite novels of all time. Put them all in a stack in front of you. Spend an evening jotting down the similarities, what you love about all of them, how the styles and voices differ, etc.
12. Escape with The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
13. Frequent one book signing a month. Talk to the author afterward. Network and learn.
14. Summer is great for volunteering at your favorite literary events. Planning is now underway for Bumbershoot Literary Arts and Richard Hugo House events. Volunteering is an inexpensive way to brush up on skills and to meet other people who are interested in the same things you are. If you can swing the time, you’ll enrich your life and find yourself in network heaven!
15. Attend a summer writer’s conference. It will energize you, your writing, and your career. In the Pacific Northwest there are a variety of conferences to choose from such as:
* Centrum’s Port Townsend Writer’s Conference (July)
* Clarion West Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop in Seattle (July)
* PNWA Summer Writer’s Conference in Seattle (July)
* Ashland Writer’s Conference (July)
* Portland State University Haystack Writing Program (July)
* Tin House Summer Writers Workshop in Portland (July)
* Willamette Writers Conference in Portland (August)
Don’t forget to at least consider The International Women’s Writing Guild’s Summer Conference at Skidmore College in New York. Check out www.shawguides.com for more listings.
16. Study and analyze Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel.
17. Set aside some time to plan a year’s worth of grant writing for your own projects. Check out these websites for more information and a good beginning to find funding:
* arts.endow.gov www.neh.gov/grants
* www.nasaa-arts.org www.fundsforwriters.com
18. Build a great, low-cost website at www.authorsguild.com.
19. Revisit Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s treasure Gift from the Sea.
20. Join one writer’s organization. Consider the International Women’s Writing Guild, The National Association of Women Writers, Richard Hugo House, Willamette Writers, PNWA, or The Author’s Guild.
21. Use a few summer hours to teach a writing class. If you’re not comfortable with teaching a professional class, scale it down to writing with kids at the local library. Make it fun for you; do something different. Consider something new, like writing fairy tales or teaching sentence structure in play form. Remember Richard Bach’s line from Illusions, “We teach best what we most need to learn.”
22. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by Virginia Woolf’s The Waves.
23. Submerge yourself in Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger.
24. Take a mini Internet vacation and surf online for sites by women writers. Most also have newsletters. Here are some great places to start:
25. Investigate James N. Frey’s How to Write a Damn Good Novel.
26. Practice writing short stories (2,500 words), short short stories (1,000 words), and one-sentence stories about the thrills, delights, or sorrows of this summer season. The shorter versions force us to contemplate the precise words and are great exercises in discipline, word crafting, and delivery.
27. Network with other women writers. Have a great brunch and honor a woman writer. Hand out recipes from cookbooks by women authors, host a tea with poetry readings by or about women poets, have a jazz reception. Form a women’s reading group.
28. Analyze Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee. Novelists, as well as screenwriters, use this book for all the great advice it gives.
29. Write your success story for the summer as if it has already happened. Visualize and write every detail you envision about success. Picture your career taking off to new levels, meeting the perfect agent, or beginning a new novel. Put it away until the fall and then get it out and re-read.
30. Plan ahead for next summer. Investigate writing retreats and fellowships. Start applying now for next year. Check out these websites on fellowships and retreats:
This article first appeared in Summer 2004 Seattle Writergrrls zine UNCAPPED.
Here is a list of blogs by women. It’s worth looking at. Soon, I’m going to unleash a list of blogs by women writers. I’m collecting sites and names. I’m going to also feature one blog each week. And not to leave you guys out, I’ll put together a list of great blogs by men who write, too. For now, enjoy!