Win! Old books. New life.

You've heard me prattle on about 
Ex Libris Anonymous
— my very favorite journal company — and now, just when I think I can't be any more in love, my heart grows another chamber. 

Jacob Storm Deatherage, the creative genius who turns vintage books into one-of-a-kind journals, is not only innovative but generous, too.  He's sent me SIX fabulous journals to give away.

I'm spreading the book journal love. 

To win one of these wonderful book journals, simply add your name in the comment section below. On Friday, August 27, 2010, I'll place all names in a hat and randomly pick six winners.  Winning is that easy  — and I'll pay the postage. Not only will you get a free journal, but you'll also receive real, handwritten mail in your old-fashioned mailbox. It's a double win, really.

What will you do with your journal? Sketch, paint, collage? Write songs, poems, stories, confessions? Just think, this journal could enhance your joy, feed your spirit, and change your life!

The possibilities begin NOW!    



Thankful Thursday: Alone 

Lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless  

— Tanya Davis, from "How to Be Alone"

I've been scratching for gratitude this week. Appreciation lies just beneath the surface of everyday life, I know, but these gray days have me a bit listless and worn. Today a friend shared a video-poem that gave me a jolt of joy, and suddenly — as though infused with sunshine and Diet Coke — I've got some bounce back.

On this Thankful Thursday, I am happy to share a poem-performance-illustration-song by Canadian writer/singer/songwriter Tanya Davis and filmmaker Andrea Dorfman.  

Thankful Thursday is a weekly accounting of gratitude. Each week, I share my appreciation for the big things, such as life and love, the small things, such as bok choy and books, and all sorts of people, places and things inbetween.

Will you join me? Please share your Thankful Thursday thoughts in the comment section below, or on your very own blog, facebook page, twitter account, school locker, bathroom mirror . . .  



Bookish Inspiration 

What is the best
writing book or advice
you have ever read or received? 

Looking for fresh ideas and inspiration, I recently quizzed my writer-friends with the above question. The responses rushed in. I now have a stack of new material to absorb — and to share:

 Rick Campbell  Florida poet, professor, director of Anhinga Press, and author of Dixmont, suggests:

The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo

"Specifically, I like the idea about the triggering subject giving way to the true subject of the poem," notes Campbell.


 Sage Cohen  Portland Oregon poet, teacher, and author of Writing the Life Poetic, suggests:

Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg

"A mix of spiritual, practical and inspirational, this book helped me find my way into a sustainable writing practice," says Cohen. 


 Judyth Hill  Mexico-based poet, teacher, and owner of Simple Choice Farm Artist Retreat, shares this advice:

"I hosted a gathering of college poets to meet Joshua Beckman,  a wild-eyed young poet who wrote 20-page poems," explains Hill. "One student asked Joshua if he ever had times he didn’t write while he waited for inspiration. He made the greatest reply I ever heard: I have found that writing is the best way . . . to wait!"

 Mark Thalman  Oregon poet, teacher, and author of Catching the Limitoffers this suggestion for beginning writers:

The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser

"Write about what is uniquely yours and out of that world which only you can create, stake out your territory," advises Thalman.


 Kate Maloy  Oregon Coast fiction writer, and author of Every Last Cuckoo, suggests: 


The Anatomy of Story by John Turby

"Written for screenwriters, so differences need to be kept in mind, but still the best I've seen for novelists as well," says Maloy. "Very detailed and specific about every body part of a story — space/time, premise, key structural steps, character, moral argument, and much more. Excellent writing (or just thinking) exercises." 


 Sean Nevin  Poet, author of Oblivio Gate, and director of Arizona State University's Young Writers Program, suggests:

The Unemployed Fortune-Teller by Charles Simic — for essays 

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield — for quick inspiration 


 Ce Rosenow  Oregon poet, author of Pacific, and publisher of Mountains and Rivers Press, suggests:

Tribe: Meditations of a Haiku Poet by Vincent Tripi

(Note: This book is out of print and difficult to find but worth the search)


 Rhett Iseman Trull  North Carolina poet, and author of The Real Warnings, suggests:

The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo 


I hope these books and ideas ignite your creative life. Have I missed any of your favorites? Let me know!  



Never underestimate the power of sun

It's been a sunless summer on the Oregon Coast. It's the coldest summer on record, with fixed, gray skies and 6o degree days. 

On this rugged edge, we rarely need sunscreen. Sweatshirts and fleece are the year-round uniform. 

The Summer Writing & Adventure Camp endured a good share of gloom last week. Now in its fourth year, the one-week camp for middle school students combines writing with outdoor adventures to help youngsters see, experience and express their world in new ways.

This year, students hiked the temperate rainforest at Cape Perpetua, kayaked the Alsea Bay, and battled a blustery wind across the Alsea Bay Bridge. Clamming was cancelled because it was too cold (52 degrees) to bear the combination of cold air and cold water. Our beach walk was abandoned, too.

The kayak trip on Thursday, however, would not, could not, be cancelled. It was the carrot of the week. One boy showed up Monday in his gear, ready to go (four days too soon). And many of the kids admitted they didn't really like to write but really wanted to kayak

On Thursday morning, the sky spit rain. The thermometer dropped. But the kids were still ready and eager. I added layers of clothing, and supplied extra coats. One young camper told me, "I never expect it to be sunny so I'm never disappointed." 

But I am not so wise. Even after six years of coastal living, I still expect a summer season. I spent much of last week seeking divine intervention. And in the critical hours — as our hapless group launched from the shore and paddled against wind and current across the Alsea Bay — the sun shined when we needed it most. 

Summer Writing & Adventure Camp was redeemed! Hope returned.  And I was cheered enough to know that even in the gray, bright spots will still shine. 

How to be a Summer Camp Adventure Writer

Look for skies to part,
clouds to thin,
sun to shine.

Hike a trail.
Touch sitka, alder, fir.
Carry flowers. Lick slugs. 

Share pudding
and small words like
Yes, Please, I will try

Against wind, walk a bridge.
Collect words. Let poetry
blanket, comfort, ignite.  

Paddle a slough. 
Cross a bay. 
Float dreams.  

Listen for heron,
egret, gulls, for the
giggle of troubles lifted.

Reach for words,
my hand,
your heart.  

- Drew Myron


Toss that boring book

At last, I now have permission to stop slogging my way through boring books.

This, from a trusted authority — Seattle writer and librarian Nancy Pearl — makes me feel much better: 


Rule of Fifty

People frequently ask me how many pages they should give a book before they give up on it. In response to that question, I came up with my “rule of fifty,”  which is based on the shortness of time and the immensity of the world of books.  

If you’re 50 years of age or younger, give a book 50 pages before you decide to commit to reading it or give it up.  If you’re over 50, which is when time gets even shorter, subtract your age from 100—the result is the number of pages you should read before making your decision to stay with it or quit.  Since that number gets smaller and smaller as we get older and older, our big reward is that when we turn 100, we can judge a book by its cover!


Get more 'Pearlisms' from Book Lust, the blog by Nancy Pearl, a librarian hailed as a "rock star among readers" who has an action figure modeled in her likeness (Now that's a power reader!).