Get Cramped with LitReactor – NaNoWriMo Plot Generating Ideas

Wow, I am so excited to announce that my first column for is now up and ready to read. If you are planning on participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, check out my slightly gory tips for plot generation using a variation on the Exquisite Corpse activity. [Insert maniacal laughter here]

These columns are written with reader participation in mind. Each will offer a writing exercise that you can do from home, the office, the coffee shop, the taxidermist, or secret evil laboratory. Post your ideas and writing activities in the comments so we can all read how ridiculously brilliant you are.  

More columns are coming up on Monday 10/17 and Tuesday 10/25. Stay tuned!

Here’s the link!


October is Word Nerd Month

The Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oreg...

Image via Wikipedia

Wow, so much Word-nerdiness, so little time. Let me give you an update on all the writing-related things I’ve been up to that have kept me from posting on this blog.

First, I joined the planning team for the Wordstock Festival here in Portland. Once a year, Wordstock puts on a literary extravaganza that rivals any that I’ve been to save the AWP Conference. Hundreds of writers and exhibitors plus a seriously respectable line up of workshops, film showings, and other events during the festival and throughout the year! Wordstock started as an organization that supports teachers with workshops that help them learn new ways to teach writing. There are also workshops for kids and for writers. The festival supports what is Wordstock’s year-round mission to bring better writing education to the people. It’s a fantastic organization and I’m so pleased to be a part of it.

This weekend, I’ll be roaming the tables at the Oregon Convention Center. I even get to introduce Sergio Troncoso and Eduardo Halfon on Saturday evening! To see a full schedule go to: Also, follow @wordstockfest for updates and contests!

My other big undertaking is writing for the fledgling writing site I will be contributing craft articles on par with the blog posts that I wrote here to accompany my classes. So, if you miss Writer’s Cramp, check out my column on LitReactor. These people are real pros, and I’m happy to rub virtual elbows with a seriously impressive list of writers. The site is a spin-off from the Chuck Palahniuk fan site which included sections for writing workshops. LitReactor expands this into a full on, interactive writing community available online to anyone anytime. It’s freakin’ sweet. My first column, about brainstorming for your NaNoWriMo book, will be up next week, so read it, please! Then two other columns—one about writing endings and the other about non-linear narratives—will be up later this month. I’ll post links as soon as they are up. Or you can follow @litreactor on Twitter or on Facebook.

I hope you are writing and getting ready for NaNoWriMo. I sure am. This month will get me totally amped for it, that’s for sure. Happy Writing!

Wordstock Fiction Contest – Judged by Aimee Bender!

Cover of "The Girl in the Flammable Skirt...

Cover via Amazon

Wordstock is pleased to announce the call for submissions for the 5th Wordstock Short Fiction Competition.
This national contest is a blind competition. The winner of the competition receives a first prize of $1,000 and publication in the October 2011 issue of Portland Monthly magazine. All 10 finalists’ stories will be published in the Wordstock Ten, an anthology that will be available at the festival, at Portland-area bookstores, and online through the Wordstock website. Every writer who enters the competition will receive a copy of the anthology.
The final judge for this year’s competition is novelist Aimee Bender.

Bender is the author of four books: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (1998) which was a NY Times Notable Book, An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000) which was an L.A. Times pick of the year, Willful Creatures (2005) which was nominated by The Believer as one of the best books of the year, and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010) which recently won the SCIBA award for best fiction, and an Alex Award. Her short fiction has been published in Granta, GQ, Harper’s, Tin House, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, and many more places, as well as heard on PRI’s This American Life and Selected Shorts. Her fiction has been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches creative writing at USC.
The fee to enter the contest is $20. This year, for the first time, submissions can only be made online. Any proceeds from the competition go to support Wordstock’s education programs for teachers and students. The deadline for entering the 2011 competition is July 15.

Complete submission guidelines are available at

Light & Inspired – Just for Fun

I rarely, if ever, post things on this blog that aren’t writing-related, but when you seen inspiration, sometimes it’s worth sharing.

This was on a generic news site recently, but I really think this is just awesome.

These photos are self-portraits done by a Japanese woman. In each, she appears to levitate. They are amazing, and so simple. Sometimes–dare I say it–words can’t capture the essence, so take a look for yourself.

Be inspired.

Challenge: Write a short piece (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc.) about floating in the air. I’ll do the same. Meet back here in a week. (Or just post it as a comment. )

This Week’s Class: At Spring Creek Coffee in Milwaukie

Hello! This week’s Writer’s Cramp will be at the Spring Creek Coffee shop on SE McLoughlin in Milwaukie.


Starts at 6! Bring $ for a cuppa or a snack. (Gotta be good customers.) See you there!