Copyright 2013 Pacific Northwest Writers Association. All Rights Reserved
by William Kenower
In October of 2008 I shot an interview with Somaly Mam following the release of her memoir The Road of Lost Innocence. I had never heard of Ms. Mam or her organization. I was the Editor-in-Chief of Author, then a fledgling online magazine for writers and devoted readers, for which I conducted three to four interviews a month. Her publicist called me directly and asked if I could fit her into my schedule. I had already booked my interviews for that month, but, after hearing the skeleton of her story, agreed to squeeze her in.
I received my copy of her memoir and read it quickly. The book describes her experience of being sold to a Cambodian brothel at the age of twelve by a man she describes as an uncle, surviving unthinkable conditions and treatment, and then leaving the brothels and founding her organization, which now rescues other girls from Cambodia’s brutal sex industry. After reading yet another account of the torture and rape Mam endured in the brothels, I thought, “I can’t believe I’m actually going to be talking to this woman. She should be dead.” more...
Death, Tragedy and Voice
by Jennifer Paros
Life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.
~ Rossiter Worthington Raymond
With Robin Williams's recent death came many articles and posts expressing sorrow over what is most commonly being called a great loss and tragedy. And though on the surface it is hard not to be aware of loss of some sort, the tremendous gain and contribution of his unique voice remains impossible to lose.
Though sometimes tempted to see events and experiences as tragic, I have, in honesty, gradually grown away from such thinking. Now what stands out is the integrity and uniqueness of each person's life's design. I see my inability to fully comprehend another's experience and choices – to wholly attune to their unique perspective and that which calls them forward. Yet I do have the ability to trust the integrity of their life regardless of how it presents or, for that matter, how it ends.
Though I recognize (and would like to ease) the pain we sometimes experience when someone dies, something within me does not see death as tragic – even under severe circumstances, even of one very young, even of one who takes his own life. My awareness of this different perspective that feels so truthful leads me over and over to listen for how it can be so. more...
The Author BLOG
How to Connect With Readers of The Digital Age Be Brief
by Kristen Lamb
In The Digital Age, human attention spans now rival an over-caffeinated fruit fly with bad a crack habit. This is good news and bad news.
The good news is readers love consuming blogs because they’re short and convenient. Blogs are perfect for capturing an audience, bonding emotionally and inspiring these microreaders to dive into something longer (like our books).
The downside is that we must hook early. Omit needless words. Get to the point. Avoid qualifiers like, “In my opinion.” It’s your blog so the reader already knows it’s your opinion.
Being brief doesn’t necessarily mean shorter blogs. Rather, it is how we condense material and maintain interest. If we can say something in one sentence, don’t use five. Choose powerful words and use active voice.
Since we are namely storytellers the best blogs and the ones most likely to be “sticky” are told in a narrative, engaging voice. Draw the reader into your “blog world” and it’s good practice for drawing them into your “fiction world.” more...
Pinch Me--I Must Be Dreaming
by Ingrid Schaffenburg
What do you want to do with your life? I mean, what do you really want to do? Take away expectations, fears, obligations, what's practical. What do you really want to do?
Perhaps you’re one of the fortunate folks who are already doing what they love each day and are completely content. But perhaps not. Perhaps you’re still gazing at a dream that seems to be out of reach. Wondering when and if it’ll ever happen. Perhaps you feel you’ve tried as hard as you can and are at a point of giving up hope because things aren’t turning out the way you had envisioned.
Having been on both sides of the fence—of doing work I love versus taking work for the sake of putting food on the table—I can honestly say that holding out and holding onto a dream is worth every minute of heartache, insecurity, and late bill payments it takes to get there. But just like true love, sometimes we must let go of what we want in order to let it come to us. more...
How Ya Doin'?
by Cherie Tucker
It’s such a common greeting, like “How are you?” that people don’t really think about it, nor do they really care about your answer. But you should.
The most common answer to that how-ya-doin’ question is, “Good, I’m doin’ good.” What most people don’t realize is that they have just said that they are performing charitable acts.
Doing is an activity, and the question “how ya doin’?” asks how that activity is being performed, which requires an adverb, a word that describes how things are done. They can be done well or brilliantly or even be just fine. But they aren’t done good.
You can be doing good if you are building houses for Habitat for Humanity, for example, or curing a disease. But the question wasn’t “how are you?” If it had been, you could say, “I’m good” or “I’m well.” One answer is about your state of being, and the other about your health. more...
Back at Work:
How to Cope with a New World and Bounce Back into Work after a Hiatus
by Devyani Borade
I’m taking a sabbatical to have a baby!’ I announced to my editors, publishers and writer friends.
After the initial wave of congratulations, well-meaning advice ('Ice cream is great for reducing heartburn!') and jokes ('A writer going out of circulation for a change, ha ha!') had subsided, conversation turned to the inevitable question. ‘When are you planning to return to work?’ they asked.
‘I don’t really know at this point,’ was my truthful answer. What I did know was that it was going to be an important, serious and possibly uncomfortable choice to make, one that could be life-changing.
A year later, as I neared the end of my self-imposed maternity leave and the manic feeding-changing-sleeping frenzy settled into a regular and relaxed routine with my baby, I decided I was ready to rejoin the world of the working-and-earning. I was looking forward to writing and marketing and being part of all the action again. However, I knew it wasn’t going to be a smooth transition and I wasn’t wrong.
Returning to work after a hiatus – be it parental leave, a long vacation, a period of illness, or even the dreaded Writer's Block – is fraught with challenges. You need to shrug off the fatigue of having looked after the young or infirm, or put away those swimming trunks and don the ol' pinstripe, or even forget the bitter taste left behind in the mouth: the inertia and anxiety can be crippling. Sometimes it can feel exactly like starting a new job or beginning an altogether different life. ‘What if I can't write good queries anymore?’ ‘Am I sounding professional enough?’ ‘Do I remember how to negotiate well?’ The potential for failure can be nerve-wracking.The world has moved on, you need to catch up. more...