Simple Pleasures

The following was inspired by the prompt, XX, and is by Writers in the Grove member, Kirsten Baggins.

The ice cream drips down onto the pavement, but he doesn’t seem to mind as he laps at the scoops, a big happy smile on his face as he looks up at the sky, smiling at the sun I’ve had to teach him not to stare at it specifically, but he stills likes to look up and bask in its warmth. Heat seems so foreign to him, what with him being so cold and undead.

With his free hand, he picks me up and places me on his shoulder, careful not to make me spill my own treat, before we head down the city sidewalk. On a nearby corner, a man is strumming away at his guitar for tips, and my friend approaches, bobbing his head cheerfully to the tune-music always gets his attention, and he’ll follow it wherever it goes. The guitarist freezes upon seeing his audience, stopping his playing with fear, only for my friend to say, “Play.”

“What do we say?” I ask.


The guitarist nervously continues, while I fish out some bills for my friend to put in the guitar case. He makes a happy sound when he does, saying to the performer, ‘Music good.’ The man merely gives a nervous smile and nods in agreement, and I smile to him as he keeps playing, and we move down the sidewalk.

As we continue down the street, I ask from my perch, “Do you want to go to the bookstore?”

Reading is a great joy for my friend – he can’t quite do it himself yet, so in my teaching him to talk, I teach him to read as well. He’s yet to meet a book he doesn’t like: Fairy tales, short stories, poems, any genre, all of them he’s loved very, very much

At my questioning, he nods and makes another happy noise, telling me, “Yes, friend.”


Prompt-a-Month: The Relationship

Writers in the Grove Prompt-a-Month badge.The February 2018 prompt-a-month for our Writers in the Grove members is:

Describe what your favorite chair looks like – without ever using the word chair.

Writers in the Grove members may hand in their submissions during the workshops or use our members only submission form. Check out the guidelines and instructions for submissions in the announcement.

2018 Authors Conference: Donors

Thank you so much to everyone and all the companies who donated to help make the 2018 Authors Conference a success.

  • Raeann Johnston and Forest Grove Senior and Community Center
  • Parks and Paula Adams
  • Lela Baskins
  • Susan Field
  • Diana Lubarsky
  • M.J. Nordgren
  • Jan Spoelstra /Carolyn Bradley
  • Bill Stafford
  • Lorelle VanFossen
  • BJ’s Coffee
  • Diversity
  • Elmer’s
  • Fred Meyer, Cornelius
  • Godfather’s Pizza
  • Jennings-McCall
  • King’s Head
  • Maridon’s
  • Prime Time
  • Safeway
  • Schmidlin Angus Farm
  • Jan Spoelstra /Carolyn Bradley
  • Urban Decanter
  • Yellow Llama
  • Walmart

Donations include food, snacks, drinks, gift certificates, volunteer sweat and tears, and an amazing level of community support and encouragement.

Thank you to all! We couldn’t have done it without you.

Prompt: Lonely Monsters

The prompt this week came from Kirsten Baggins:

Monsters are inherently lonely characters, often seeking out some form of friendship, only to be rejected, mostly on the basis on their appearance. It’s the part about them that touches our hearts, and makes us feel for them, seeing them without a companion, and with that, I ask this: If you were friends with a monster, what would you do with them? How would you spend your day with them? It could be any monster of your choosing-the monster in your closet or beneath your bed, a werewolf, a vampire, a reanimated corpse, a mummy, a ghost, anything at all! Just what would you do with your monstrous friend?

2018 Authors Conference: Chip MacGregor

Foot steps on leaves and announces Writers in the Grove 2018 Author Conference.

Chip MacGregor - Literary AgentChip MacGregor, founder of MacGregor Literary, an author agency, will be speaking at the 2018 Authors Conference on January 27, 2018, in Forest Grove, Oregon.

MacGregor’s work as an author agent and representative helps authors in the memoir, spirituality, self-help, Christian, true crime, romance, and literary fiction genres publish their books and negotiate movie and television projects. His company represents a wide range of authors including an astronaut.

Chip MacGregor will be presenting workshops throughout the day on Querying and Finding an Agent, Writing a Proposal, and Creating a Pitch, and participating in the afternoon panel session where you can ask questions of our speakers.

He joins a group of extraordinary professional editors, writers, and poets in our first writer’s conference. Other speakers include Paulann Petersen, Deborah Reed, MaryJane Nordgren, Holly Lorincz, Kristin Thiel, and Jessica Morrell.

Register today to learn from Chip MacGregor on professional editing and writing at the 2018 Authors Conference in January as space is limited.

About Writers in the Grove 2018 Authors Conference

This is a fundraiser for the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center, a non-profit community center and the host of Writers in the Grove weekly meetings. The Center provides free and low cost meals through their dining services and Meals On Wheels outreach program, as well as a wide range of educational, recreational, wellness, and community events and educational opportunities.

Writers in the Grove is a free weekly workshop for those wishing to develop their creative writing skills. The group meets Mondays at the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center on Mondays from 9-11am, and on the second Saturday of the month at the Forest Grove Public Library from 10:30-noon. Writers in the Grove supports the freedom of expression and creative writing spirit in Forest Grove, Oregon, and around the world.

A Justification for Writers

The following is by Writers in the Grove member Gretchen Keefer, and is based upon the prompt, “Writing in another’s skin.”

Recently a writer colleague commented on her experience describing her novel to an agent. As she listed the difficulties her black heroine faced, the agent stopped her and asked, “Have you had a black person read this?” (For “read” see “approve”.) Apparently this agent felt a white woman could not write about a black woman. Can she?

Whatever my characters may look like physically, one or another of them is expressing my point of view, my opinions, and my philosophy. That is what I know and that is why I am writing. There is something that needs to be said and I feel prompted to say it, however I can.

Most of my characters are women, of course. I haven’t assigned them a color or ethnicity (except maybe in fantasy stories). It helps that my stories are short and often the events depicted are more important that any physical description of the characters. I think actors of any ethnicity could portray my characters.

I admit I do not know about prejudice or abuse first hand. I have never personally lived through a fire, earthquake or other natural disaster that destroys all my worldly possessions. I haven’t had an amputation or been raped. Does that mean I cannot write about these types of experiences? There is a wealth of information available to provide background color while focusing on resilience, forgiveness, redemption, family unity, courage and love.

In my collage literature classes we were taught that “great” or “good” literature that stood the test of time was written around universal themes – themes that appealed to a majority of people across cultures. That is why these pieces are still read and studied long after the authors are dead. Shakespeare borrowed many stories from the Italian Renaissance, yet his plays are translated and performed around the world. So what if Olivier played Othello in black makeup? Were there any classical black actors in Britain in the 1950’s? Denzel Washington, a black actor, played the (Italian) duke in a recent film version of As You Like It, with no comments about looking different from the other actors.

The play (or other story) is the thing to capture the mind (paraphrasing Hamlet). The story is what counts, not what color the characters may be.

So I say to my colleague, and to all writers, “You go girl!”

Write what you need to write, however it works out.

For the Love of Language

The following is by Writers in the Grove member Steve Morse. It is based upon the prompt: “What would Shakespeare make of a modern library?”

Noam Ludwig Shakespere strolled eager through the great glass doors into the mystic halls of the sacred Word. Unfolding infinite in all direction a demesne of towering tomes, each a dedication, a devotion to the Word. Not any particular word, but a world where each word is Holy. Each syllable and sibilant phoneme, each lengthy, nonsensical, joyously opulent example of ostentatious onomatopoeia. From “See Spot Run” to dimestore detectives and the dreadful, dark domains of Dante’s infernal circles. A linguistic lair where Lovecraftian nightmares dance gaily upon gambrel roofs, where George’s Dragon glares greedily at the gleaming golden horde beneath the belly of Smaug, and children sit rapt in tales of Pooh.

Poets and philosophers, scientists and theologians, the Mighty, the mini and the uncounted multitude come to pay homage in these hallowed halls of mystery and imagination, dedication to the sacred words that have changed us all, charting the human course through antediluvian epochs to the star strewn future.

Noam wandered far, seeking and soaking in the sanctified spirit, leaving long behind him the realm of Known, only to look around and find he’d barely begun.

2018 Authors Conference – Optional Special Sessions

We have four optional special sessions available to attendees of our 2018 Authors Conference on January 27, 2018, in Forest Grove, Oregon.

Attendees may register for each of these special sessions upon arrival the morning of Saturday, January 27.

Private individual consultation sessions require you bring a number of printed pages (2 copies minimum) for the consultant to read and review. These should be printed on one-sided white paper in black 12pt Times Roman or equivalent font, double spaced, with a 1 inch margin all around.

Time Special Session Fees Speaker Requirements
10:50AM Practice Pitching
(small group session)
$10 Kristin Thiel
1:30PM Memoir or Fiction
(private consultations of 15 minutes each)
$10 Jessica Morrell 5-15 printed pages of current novel
1:30PM Story Ideas and Plot Points
(private consultations of 15 minutes each)
$10 Holly Lorincz 5-15 printed pages of current novel

2018 Authors Conference Schedule

Here is the schedule and details you may need to know for the upcoming 2018 Authors Conference by Writers in the Grove in support of community writers and authors and the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center on January 27, 2018.

We are so pleased to have such excellent speakers representing the publishing industry and the Pacific Northwest, especially Oregon. This is a rare opportunity to find them all in one place sharing their wisdom with our writing community.

Lunch is included. It is being donated by Forest Grove merchants and restaurants and we’ve done our best to meet most dietary restrictions and needs. If you have special dietary restrictions, please feel free to bring your own food.

Registration for the special paid sessions are additional and paid at the door. Please bring cash, credit card, or check payable to FGSCC to pay for the session. You will also need to bring printed copies of your written pages for private critique sessions, including a copy for yourself to make your notes.

8:30 Doors Open
9:15 Welcome
9:30 Workshops:
Querying and Finding an Agent with Chip MacGregor
Pitfalls You Can Avoid with Kristin Thiel
Practicing Opening Lines: Hooks with MJ Nordgren
10:40 Break
10:50 Workshops:
Character Arc with Jessica Morrell
Preparing a Manuscript with Holly Lorincz
Special Session ($): Practice Pitching with Kristin Thiel
Noon Lunch: Lunch has been donated by various Forest Grove area merchants, and should meet most dietary restrictions.
Keynote: Deborah Reed
1:30 Workshops:
Poetry Workshop with Paulann Petersen
Writing a Proposal with Chip MacGregor
Special Session ($): Memoir or Fiction with Jessica Morrell
Special Session ($): Story Ideas and Plot Points with Holly Lorincz
2:05 Creating a Pitch with Chip MacGregor
2:40 Break
2:45 Panel: Ask Any Question with Jessica Morrell, Holly Lorincz, Kristin Thiel, Chip MacGregor, and Deborah Reed
4:00 Closing

If you haven’t registered yet, do so as soon as possible as we are getting close to filling the seats.