It’s the reader’s equivalent of a double-header, a two-for-the-price-of-one special, a club sandwich, pizza with extra cheese. Amber J. Keyser and I will team up at Annie Bloom’s Bookstore in Portland this Thursday (April 20) at 7. She’s bringing Pointe, Claw; I’m bringing Seven Stitches. There will be laughter. There will be secrets to share. And you will likely not be in attendance.

No worries! Amber has a solid presence on social media, so you can get to know a lot about her there. I show up once in a while…take this post for instance. But you can learn more about me and my writing life on Susan Olson’s long-time, well respected blog, Time Travel Times Two. Click over to the interview/review, and you’ll find out when and where in time and space I’d like to spend a two-week vacation. After the interview, I asked Susan a few questions myself, so you’ll get to know her better in another post. […]

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On April 6, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed a Congressionally-approved declaration of war against Germany. Thus the United States formally entered World War I. Now on this 100th anniversary, I’m posting an especially interesting excerpt from Ruth Tenzer Feldman’s Chronicle of America’s Wars: World War I. This is the story of the Four-Minute Men.

Poster advertising the Four-Minute Men

In March, 1917 . . . more Americans seemed ready to enter the Great War. Donald Ryerson, a Chicago businessman, thought war was inevitable. Ryerson enlisted in the Navy. While waiting for his orders, he organized a group of speakers called the Four-Minute Men.

America in 1917 was filled with immigrants. Many of them, as well as many native English speakers, could not read English. Ryerson’s men found a clever way to inform and persuade these people. Each day, about 10 to 13 million people went to the movies. The movies were on film wound around two or more reels. […]

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Playfulness offers relief from the stresses of…well…I needn’t enumerate them…so I wasn’t surprised when Charles insisted that he come to the launch of Seven Stitches this Thursday at Another Read Through. After all, Charles and I go back more than a year, when I decided to do some fact checking for the story.

In the Seven Stitches of my imagination, a stuffed blue giraffe is the beloved companion of a homeless girl who lives in Portland. Problem? I’d never seen a stuffed blue giraffe. To find out whether one existed, I went to the purveyor of virtually all things material: Amazon.

The result? Many, many, many, and even many more stuffed giraffes live in cybermarket world, and an amazing number of them are blue. Who knew? The choices were so vast and I was so intrigued that I bought three. Yes, I auditioned three stuffed blue giraffes for the position of Charles. […]

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The Free Speech Movement Cafe, Berkeley

Whatever your views on balancing protections for free speech and against hate speech, we all have an obligation to get our facts straight. Yes, as a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, I understand how reality can be manipulated. Still, according to a responsible source, the facts point to last week’s violence on the University of California, Berkeley campus as being incited primarily by people who were not students or faculty at the university.

Let’s go back to 1964 and the birth of the Free Speech Movement at Cal. The original FSM coalition focused on allowing political parties of all stripes to distribute political information on campus, something that we now take for granted. Over 800 people occupied the administration’s main offices (Sproul Hall) and were jailed to make that happen. No one set out to break windows and damage buildings. When a police car drove onto Sproul Plaza to arrest a student, scores of other students on the Plaza merely sat down, preventing the patrol car from leaving. […]

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If the Hanukkah story reminds us of the power of resistance, then Russell Freedman’s We Will Not Be Silent fits with the #Readukkah! spirit of the Association of Jewish Libraries and with perhaps our own thoughts this season. This nonfiction book nominally for older children (but with a topic suited for teens and adults) follows the White Rose student resistance movement in Nazi Germany from its rise through the execution of its leaders shortly before the fall of the Third Reich.

The “we” in We Will Not Be Silent began with a handful of high school and college students, led in part by Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie, both former members of the Hitler youth movement. They and others wrote, mimeographed, and distributed leaflets denouncing their nation’s treatment of Jewish citizens and other “undesirables.”

The leaflets soon flooded all parts of Germany and called for the overthrow of the Nazi regime. […]

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Now for Addie Boswell, an extraordinarily gifted woman, whose creativity is too large to confine to the written page. Yes, she writes children’s books, and that’s how I’ve come to know her. But she is likely better known as a muralist.

“My business is telling stories,” she says on her website. “I believe in the power of story, the imagination of children, and the necessity of duct tape.” Addie invites us to “write, draw, color, paint, cut, paste, build, dance, stomp or otherwise express yourself, because creativity can change the world.”

With this in mind, I asked Addie:

How does writing fit with the rest of your life? I think the greatest thing about being a writer is you get to chase ideas around. So whatever catches your attention on a given day — your daughter picking dandelions, the conversation you overhear in the park, a strange dream, a book that makes you cry — can be filed and used in your stories. […]

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Nicole Marie Schreiber describes herself as a “word artist” from Portland, Oregon, and the phrase couldn’t be more apt. Nicole has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and writes picture books, fiction for children and adults, poetry, and plays. Other pursuits include spreading her love of the written word to all, performance art, dance, history, and travel. She has had two living history plays performed every year for the last nine years with the West Linn Historical Society; she’s written and produced numerous variety shows in the Portland area; and she’s written commissioned works for other performance artists. But wait, there’s more. Nicole has been published in the Powell’s Books Small Press Bestseller, Brave on the Page: Oregon Writers on Craft and the Creative Life, and she has worked as a newspaper copywriter and freelance editor.

And, speaking of Viva Scriva, here’s our Q&A. […]

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You’ll have to visit Elizabeth (Liz) Rusch’s website to see all the books and articles she’s written over the decades. It’s an amazing collection of fiction and nonfiction. I’ve livened up dinner parties and entertained grandchildren with info gleaned from Liz’s submissions to the Scrivas on, say, volcano formation, or Maria Mozart, or the ozone layer, to name a few of the very many topics. Two of my recent favorite Liz books are her graphic novel, Muddy Max, and her nonfiction book on harnessing energy from the ocean, The Next Wave. See what I mean? Liz’s topics are all over the place and she likes it that way. So do I. I’m often surprised by her next writing project, but I do know one thing for sure: if it’s written by Elizabeth Rusch, it’s star quality.

So, Liz, what brings you to writing? I am a writer because I’m interested in so much about the world and people. […]

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If we Scrivas had an annual Most Productive Writer award in our critique group, we’d give it to Amber this year, along with a well deserved trip to her favorite ski lodge or spa.

Amber is the author of the forthcoming Pointe, Claw (Carolrhoda Lab, 2017), a novel about two girls claiming their own personal power; The V-Word (Beyond Words, 2016), an anthology of personal essays by women about first-time sexual experiences; The Way Back from Broken (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), a heart-wrenching novel of loss and survival; and Sneaker Century: A History of Athletic Shoes (Twenty-First Century Books, 2015). She is the co-author with Kiersi Burkhart of the middle grade series Quartz Creek Ranch (Darby Creek, 2017). And these are just her latest books.

At various times, Amber has been a newspaper deliverer, a cake cutter, a nanny, a ballet dancer, a counselor, a sign-maker, a costumer, a clerk, a biologist, a teacher, and now—a writer. […]

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