National Novel Writing MonthNaNoWriMo 2015 is nearly upon us: the season when hundreds of thousands of writers worldwide dig into their work and draft a novel in just thirty days. Camaraderie, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a lot of frenzied and productive writing will ensue! We are excited to be hosting several events at several library locations. Meanwhile, the Library Writers Project is on - we are awaiting your finished book! So clearly, the time has come - this November will be the NaNoWriMo when you write the novel. Here are some resources to inspire and assist you (and some to distract you, too).

Zine creators, the Portland Zine Symposium is coming up in less than a month! If your world is ruled by an academic calendar, perhaps this may be a moment when you have just a bit more time to work on creative projects, like putting together the zine (or zines!) that you’ve been thinking up in recent months.

Or perhaps you are new to zines and have never made one. Zines are usually handmade paper booklets that anyone can create. Want to give it a try? Here are some directions for turning one piece of paper into a basic zine: a version to view online or a version to print. See below for more resources about making zines and books.

Whether zines are a new idea or an old friend for you, the library abounds with inspiration and resources for your creative project! Consider these:

Crap Hound 8 - Superstitions

The Central Library Picture File is an astounding resource: thousands upon thousands of magazine and book clippings, organized by subject. These can be checked out and photocopied or scanned (you can’t cut them up and paste them in your zine, though!). Do you need the perfect picture of a bluebird, or an ancient computer, or children’s clothes from the 1960s? Look no further! Ask about the Picture Files at the Art & Music reference desk on Central Library’s third floor.

Of course clip art can be found online, but clip art books are a real pleasure to browse and use. Many of these come with a CD containing image files that you can download to your computer for resizing, editing, etc. A real gem of a clip art resource is found in the series of books called Crap Hound - each volume is created around a theme or cluster of themes (Superstition; Church & State; Hands, Hearts, & Eyes are a few), and the images are laid out in the most appealing, artful way.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Part One by Annie MurphyThe library’s Zine Collection is a wonderful resource, full of examples of zines and minicomics made by zinesters and artists from near and far. Zines can be browsed online (use the subject heading Zines or search by author or title, or try our book lists), placed  on hold, and checked out just like other library materials. I recently read local zinester and artist Annie Murphy’s new zine I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Part One: My Own Private Portland - about River Phoenix, Gus Van Sant and his film My Own Private Idaho, Portland in the eighties and nineties, and the experience of growing up during this time. It is beautiful and moving, illustrated in moody black & white ink wash, and handwritten in tidy cursive. I think you should give it a try.

How to Make Books by Esther K. SmithFor more technical information about making zines and books, you might enjoy browsing some of our books about bookbinding - I recently stumbled upon How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith, which has instructions and lovely illustrations for a range of homemade books, from instant zines and accordion books to more elaborate stitched books and Coptic binding.

Also: July has been designated International Zine Month, and July 21 in particular Zine Library Day. So come to the library and check out some zines! Make a zine!

The winners of the Oregon Book Awards were recently announced! From a number of excellent finalists, Portland’s own Emily Kendal Frey was awarded the Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry. I’ve been reading the award winning book, Sorrow Arrow, and it’s a real treat - a wild emotional ride between poignant sadness and some rather hilarious moments, and memorable lines such as “You sit in your body, quietly making blood.” The book transpires in brief lyric lines, sometimes disjunctive and sometimes tenacious, in a series of untitled poems that build upon one another in a wonderful wall of feeling.

Are you interested in reading books by Emily Kendal Frey and other Oregon poets? Here’s a booklist for you.

National Poetry Month is not yet over! April 30th is Poem in Your Pocket Day, when you are encouraged to carry a poem around. In your pocket. At Central Library we will have a selection of poems for you to choose from, including some new work by local poets! Look for our display in the 1st floor lobby. 


Happy National Poetry Month! Probably because "April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory and desire, stirring / Dull roots with spring rain" we celebrate poetry in April. There are many ways to do this, but one of my favorite ways to have a poetry experience recently is to listen to readings and discussions on PennSound, a project of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at University of Pennsylvania. This online resource is an archive of both new and historical recordings, an excellent podcast, and many other things as well. It's pretty amazing to be able to listen to a recent reading by one of my favorite poets, or listen to scholars and poets discussing a close reading of a poem, all while I'm doing the dishes or sweeping the floor at the end of the day. Just take a look at PennSound's authors page, and scan this enormous list for a poet you'd like to hear.

The library also has quite a few collections of poetry that you can listen to, either in audiobook CD form or downloadable or streaming audio! I recently discovered the Voice of the Poet series of audiobooks on CD, featuring poets reading their work; it includes a number of great American 20th century poets.

Happy listening!

toot your own hornSo you’ve written a book and found a publisher. Marvelous. Now, on to the next project, yes? Leave promotion of your work to publisher and publicist, right? Not so fast, my ink-spilling friend. The plasma of artistic creativity may course through your veins, but unless you’re some breed of celebrity, literary success these days depends on you taking a central role in the business side of writing. Many a well-written contemporary book has withered on the vine due to the author’s inability or unwillingness to take part in the task of marketing and self-promotion. Here are some ideas on how to approach this crucial component to your would-be livelihood (whether you’ve published yet or not.)


Depending on the source, there are between 130,000 and 185,000 writers (or more!) in the United States and over 300,000 books published in this country each year. With so much out there, how do you get your voice heard? How do you stand out?

For networking, you might use (HARO) to promote yourself as a news source or expert in your field (and therefore, in your book). Or you might take advantage of social media - here's an article about LinkedIn for writersDepending on your genre, you might find a local or national writer's associationThere's also the The National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, a one-stop shop for writers seeking assistance with support, marketing, professional development, and networking.

As for marketing: here are some thoughts on self-promotion from The Huffington Post, and a New York Times article on building one’s brandA site called has a simple message: “Your platform makes all the difference in the success or failure of your book. The bigger your reach, the more books you are likely to sell.” A service called offers free and deeply discounted ebook deals as a tool to reach new readers.

Grants, Awards, & Fellowships

Maybe you’re in the enviable position of having a spouse or relative $upport your artistic vision. While such a benefactor is certainly possible, it’s unlikely some monied stranger will drop by your garrett some gray winter morn (or your spare bedroom any season of the year), plop a pile of money down on the boards of your rough-hewn writing table (or flimsy particle board desk) and tell you to “get it done.” It’s just as unexpected--and just as unlikely--you’ll be graced with one of those legendary $500,000 MacArthur Genius Grants. But never fear, there are sources of funding you may have a shot at:

Locally, there's the Oregon Literary Fellowships from Literary Arts, Individual Artist Fellowships from the Oregon Arts Commission, and various grants from the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC).

Nationally, you might find grants through or You might even try applying for a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts!

Freelance Writing

Wait just a minute. Maybe you’re interested in earning an income as a writer, but not interested in writing books. Rather than make a name, you’d rather earn your way as a player in the world of freelance, finding gainful employment with newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, and the like. But, how to find the support, how to network? Here are a few ideas.

Locally, there's Portland Copywriters, a group of Portland-area freelance copywriters who support each other in the creation, growth, and sustainability of one’s freelance business. claims to be the largest social network site for freelancers and can help you find work in your neck of the woods. It has sliding scale membership fees. Of course, you can also find work through Craigslist: writing gigs and writing jobs are the categories to browse.

Nationally, you might find help from, the supportive place where freelance writers learn how to grow their income — fast, or, your source for Freelancing, Freelance Writing Jobs and Articles for Freelance WritersThe National Writers Union UAW Local 1981 is the only labor union that represents freelance writers, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) is the professional association of independent nonfiction writers.

You know, your library has scads of books that may come in handy. Try this booklist, which contains books on freelancing, marketing and promotion, legal matters, grants, and more.

- by Kass A.