Monday, February 28, 2011

Redundant phrases

Thomas Jefferson: "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do."

A redundant expression (pleonasm) is a group of words, usually a pair, in which at least one word is superfluous. Some expressions are used colloquially while others are down right silly no matter where they are uttered.

Many have come into standard use through repetition or as part of a vocation. Null and void, terms and conditions, and sworn affidavit are pleonasms in the legal field. Commonly used to become “correct”: joined together (in holy matrimony), safe haven, PIN number (Personal Identification Number number), ATM machine (Automated Teller Machine machine), heat up and mental telepathy.

Some humorous expressions are: hot water heater (shouldn’t it heat up cold water?); bare naked (if you are naked, you are bare); armed gunman (versus a gunman without arms, how does he hold his gun then?); temporary loan (all loans are temporary otherwise is it not a gift?); true fact (are there false facts?); end result (is there a beginning result?); foreign imports (versus domestic imports?); tuna fish (are tuna anything but fish?); and my favorite, free gifts. Writing using redundant expressions is not better writing, only longer writing.

Here are some redundant expressions to be avoided.

starve to death, each and every, reason is because, final conclusion, still remains, best ever, clearly evident, fellow teammate, reflect back, tiny bit, advance warning, usual habit, sudden impulse, pick and choose, passing fad, added up, sand dune, cancel out, and also, skipped over, wept tears, thoughtful deliberations, utter annihilation, my personal opinion, exactly identical, could possibly, crisis situation, former graduate, empty out, cancel out, basic fundamentals, round in shape, spell out in detail, unexpected emergency, closed fist, illustrated drawings, complete monopoly, kneel down, stand up, depreciate in value, future plans, definitely decided, different varieties, sum total, made out of, reason why, first conceived, could possibly, proceed ahead, general public, preboard, usual habit, sharing the same, absolutely guaranteed, past experience, lag behind, completely opposite, but nevertheless; evolve over time; refer back to, over exaggerate, brief moment, excess verbiage, ask the question, already exists, and also, pouring down rain, over again, foot pedal, and personal friend.

Do you recognize your own speech habits in these phrases? Does “preboard” sound weird to you or normal? Can you think of any others not listed here?

These sites list many redundant phrases.

Friday, February 25, 2011

TGIF: Literary Things to Do

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the books are so delightful! If cabin fever makes you determined to venture out this weekend no matter how low the temperature dips, here are a few events worth braving the elements for:

On Friday, B. J. Campbell, author of Close Calls: True Tales of Cougar Bob, is appearing from 11-2 today at Black Sheep in Coeur d'Alene, and Joyce Caudel, author of the Hat Pin Murders, will be at Hastings in Spokane Valley from 12-3. Friday evening, Thomas White will sign copies of his suspense thriller, Justice Rules (set in Spokane) at 7 p.m. at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane.

On Saturday, Eileen Garvin, author of How to Be a Sister: A Love Story with a Twist of Autism, will appear at Auntie's Bookstore at Riverpark Square at 2 p.m.

Also, a reminder that if you're participating in Our Region Reads by reading Jamie Ford's The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet--or if you're just interested in the story of the Minidoka Internment Camp--then you'll want to hear historian Robert Sims of the Idaho Humanities Speakers Bureau, Friday at 3 p.m. at the Spirit Lake Library and 6 p.m. at the Athol Library, or Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Hayden Library.

Have a wonderful weekend, get some writing done, and may all your shivers come from a really gripping story instead of the wind chill factor.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Are you an organized writer?

I was interested to learn that organization and time management guru Don Aslett will be the keynote speaker at the 2011 Idaho Writers League state conference in Pocatello next fall (September 22-24, for those of you organized enough to keep a calendar that far ahead).

Although he's never heard of me, Don Aslett and I go way back. You see, I'm not the world's most naturally organized person. As a young adult trying to navigate my first apartment without someone picking up after me, I soaked up Don's books like water in the desert. Clutter's Last Stand. For Packrats Only. Is There Life After Housework? Don's books enabled me to laugh at myself and, more importantly, to make some important changes in how I managed the material goods around me. Thanks in large part to Don, I am now a recovering slob, although it remains an ongoing process.

One of Don's books of particular interest to writers is called Get Organized, Get Published!, co-authored with Carol Cartaino. I was happy to see that it is still in print, because it's a gem for writers. Whether your challenge is organizing large projects, managing your time, or coping with a messy desk and office, this book is a big help. Even if none of those challenges applies to those of you who are neatniks and precision-schedulers, it provides many helpful tips and tricks to put you even more on top of things. Chapters include Finding the Time to Write, Making Your Master Plan, Organizing Your Work Area, Organizing Research, Organizing Your Marketing Attack, and much more.

Here's part of the jacket description:
"Writing, wanting to write more and always wanting to write better is your goal--your dream. There's no good reason you should be stopped from reaching it. But the phone's ringing, dishes are stacked in the sink, laundry's in the dryer, and your desk is barely visible under a pile of birthday cards to be sent out and bills to be paid. How, and where, can you find the time to write?"

My one criticism of the book is that, being older (my copy is dated 2001), it doesn't cover much of the fabulous new technology that's become available in recent years to help us manage our lives. But the timeless principles of getting and staying organized remain the same.

So pick up a copy of Get Organized, Get Published! and consider attending the 2011 Idaho Writers League conference to meet the man himself. Both endeavors will be time well spent.

Monday, February 21, 2011

4 score n 7 yrs ago r Fs brot 4th on this cont...

At first blush it may seem as though Presidents Day has little to do with writing, except possibly the benefit of a day off from job or school to devote to your latest masterpiece. This gift of time is a treasure, for sure. But you might also want to spend a few minutes thinking about presidents, too, in the spirit of the day. Here's a twist: have you ever though about former U.S. Presidents as writers?

Imagine Lincoln at his desk, pen in hand. "Eighty-seven years ago"....{scratch, scratch}..."Eighty plus seven years ago"...{crumple, toss, fresh sheet}..."Four score and seven years ago"...{will anyone know what a "score" is? bite pen, look out window, call Mary for a cup of tea}...

Presidents Day has got me thinkin' about Lincoln (and Washington, too, but his name doesn't make such a pleasing rhyme). How much of what we know about these men has come to us from things they wrote? Speeches. Memoirs. Even letters to friends that have been preserved through the centuries show a careful precision and graceful language that is lacking in much modern correspondence. Can you imagine what historians 200 years from know will discern from text fragments like " Whasup LOL TTYL"?

Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, the writings of presidents are available at a keystroke. To see some of Lincoln's writings, start here. Many of Washington's writings are available here.

Of course you don't have to limit yourself to only these two presidents. Choose your favorites and search online for their writings. Ronald Reagan, for example, reportedly wrote most of his radio commentaries himself instead of using professional writers, and other presidents did, too. But even when presidents relied on speechwriters to pen their timeless words, good writing is still good writing.

You could say that the formal language of the past sounds archaic and stilted to modern ears, and you would be right. But try to look past mere style to see what it was about these pieces that have made them ring down through generations: the rhythm and length of sentences, the word choices, the attention to detail. If a certain presidential speech, paragraph, or phrase has stuck with you over the years, analyze it as a piece of writing and find out why. Who knows . . . maybe those historians 200 years from now will be grateful and refreshed to stumble across your clear and elegant prose in a sea of smiley faces and LOLs.

Enjoy your Presidents Day. As Washington signed off the end of his letters, "I am, sir, with great regard your most obedient servant..." In other words,


Friday, February 18, 2011

Life Interfering

I had trouble completing my blog for today. I tried, I really tried, but it just didn't come together. First, my entire week was hellacious. (Is that a word?) During the first of the week I completed my Monday and Wednesday blogs, a film festival proposal for a national conference, and a rewrite on my screenplay.

When I wasn't sitting in front of the computer I jumped in as a last minute sub at a Valentine's Day party for 5th graders, facilitated a Tuesday night work session for screenwriters, and make it to a doctors appointment.

Wednesday I prepared a draft for today's blog, then started primping for my niece's wedding. I spent the morning searching for a dress (success at Burlington Coats at Northtown Mall), and gave myself a manicure and pedicure. By 7:00 pm, I was having highlights put in my hair - by my husband.

By 8:00 pm I was a blond. He kept complaining he couldn't pull any more hair through the holes of the plastic cap that was tied baby-bonnet-like under my chin. That's because he had already pulled ALL my hair out of the tiny holes with a metal crochet hook.

With no time for restoration, my granddaughter and I caught a 10:00 am flight to Portland yesterday morning. My plan was to spend an hour in the evening finalizing my Friday blog entry and scheduling it for posting. That didn't happen.

We had arrived early to help with last minute wedding preparations for the Saturday wedding. My sister put us right to work. First we sorted and then ironed a couple of dozen tablecloths and runners. Then I got put to work tailoring bridesmaid dresses, while my sister was putting fondant on 27 10-inch wedding cakes.

Talk about a job. I had to remove the sleeves, cut down the neckline and then put them back together. I finished by early evening, which gave us time to make a quick stop at the bachelorette party before we drove across town to another sister's house, where we were spending the night.

After dinner I sat down to work on my blog. My folks were in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on table favors for Friday afternoon's bridesmaid luncheon. My sister was making a menu for the luncheon and my granddaughter was making a banner. My brother-in-law was having a Blue Moon and watching the action. I was sitting in the middle of it all - writing my blog. I would have had better luck joining my brother-in-law.

That brings us to today. I got up this morning and scrapped the blog I had drafted and decided to write about the reason my blog wasn't done on time. It wasn't due to procrastination, it wasn't for lack of ideas, and it wasn't for lack of trying. It was because life interfered.

p.s. My family loves my hair. Several of my nieces want to ask my husband to "highlight" their hair when he arrives later today.

Writing Prompts: Life intefering or marriage advice for newlyweds.

Best Wishes to Jenna & Brett!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Future Shock for Writers

I recently discovered a thought provoking discussion on the future of books by Jerry D. Simmons, a former sales representative for Random House and Warner Communications, whose goal is to use his 33 years of experience in the publishing field to guide unpublished authors toward success through multi-media sources including his popular website,

In his article entitled "The Future of Print Books," which appeared on his website on November 4, 2010, Simmons outlined his outlook on books and writing as fast-paced technological advances and financial peril challenge the world we know.

He begins with the good news that books are not becoming obsolete.
Forget the doomsday scenario; printed books are not going away. Their relevance in the market is going to diminish over time, but there will always be printed books.
Then comes the bad news. He predicts that a financial crises will eventually force our mega-bookstores to close, resulting in the creation of a void for those of us who love books. He outlines a bleak future for both those who write, and those who publish.

In reaction to these loses, Simmons says publishers will continue to downsize through the elimination of positions, holdings, and acquisitions. The net result, he says will be negative for writers, who will lose a market for their writing as the bottom continues to fall out of the publishing market.

The worst out on the table, Simmons turns to a "cup is half-full" style at this point, suggesting this time of chaos will provide a time of opportunity for writers - especially those who continue to churn out professional manuscripts.

Well written, professionally edited manuscripts that inform, entertain, and even enlighten are going to become the new gold standard in publishing.

His final advice for writers? Keep busy and hone your skills.

The important thing to do right now is write and market. It is very important to write articles, blogs, or anything that will allow readers to read your work. Building an audience via social media specifically, and the worldwide web in general, is the best and least expensive way to market your writing.

As the industry reinvents itself the single most important thing for writers is to create content. Then market yourself and your writing to as many websites as possible. Place yourself in a position when the call finally comes that you are ready and have a lot of material to be published.

Sounds like we need to keep on blogging, fellow bloggers. Simmons delves into these subjects in more depth and touches on other aspects of this issue in his article which can be found at Be sure to visit his website. It's worth your time.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Love Cliches

Cliche: a phrase, word, or idea, that has lost its original effectiveness or power from overuse.

I know, I know, every writing expert admonishes writers NOT to use cliches. They are said to be the mark of a lazy writer. They are characteristic of inexperienced and/or unoriginal writers.

Well, I may not be a writing expert, but I am a reading expert and I've discovered that I'm as happy as a clam when I read a cliche every now and then. For me, they're as comfortable as an old shoe and as welcome as an old friend.

I find them to be deceptively simple, instantly recognizable phrases that are usually the most economical way to say what needs to be said. They add clarity, depth, and a little bit of charm to the words I read.

Why should writers be asked to waste time reinventing the wheel? Why spend hours searching for the perfect, witty words to say something when somebody came up with the perfect, witty way to say it eons ago?

For heaven's sake, these phrases have stood the test of time and proven they are the cream of the crop. Can you even imagine writing a phrase so perfectly constructed that it becomes common usage? I can't.

Isn't this discrimination? There are as many quotes in today's literature as there are Chins in a Chinese phonebook, but you never hear of them making critics foam at the mouth like they do when they encounter a cliche.

Writers use quotes to give depth and reinforcement to their work, just like cliches. It's like the pot calling the kettle black, and I don't get the difference. Quotes are just cliches with acknowledgements. Maybe if I start enclosing my cliches with quotation marks, they won't rub my critics the wrong way.

And that's not all. There are proverbs, sayings, witticisms, anecdotes, and euphemisms. None of them seem to drive the experts nuts like cliches do. It's discrimination, any way you look at it.

Searching online I noticed one expert article after another entitled, "Avoiding Cliches Like the Plague." What the heck? It's okay for them, but not for us? I did, however, find one particularly witty cliche-critic who did practice what he preached. His title? "Avoid Cliches Like Erectile Dysfunction." Ick!

Despite all the negative hype, there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for those of us who admire the familiar brevity of a cliche. Banding together on the Internet, cliche lovers offer a scintilla of hope that cliches might one day become a tad more welcome than a skunk at a yard party.

One of those cliche-admirers, Steve Lautenschlager, began an online list of cliches, which he called "...little facets of the truth." As his list of cliches grew, he discovered that "other people were oddly, strangely, obsessively, perversely, intrigued by cliches as well."

Glad to know I'm not alone.

If you are looking for a cliche (for whatever nefarious reason) be sure to browse through these websites:;;

Oh, almost forgot! Happy Valentine's Day! It's a great day for cliches.
"I'll be pleased as punch if you'll be mine!"
"You're the cream in my coffee! Please be mine!"
"To the apple of my eye. Happy Valentine's Day!"

My favorite cliche: as happy as a clam. (Just makes me feel good.)

My least favorite cliche: no-brainer. (Because it's DUMB. Even thinking it's a no-brainer takes a brain.)

Favorite cliche quote: Not all my cliches are original. - Football Coach Chuck Knox

CHALLENGE: How many cliches in the above post? Do you have a favorite cliche? Least favorite? How about another Valentine wish using a cliche?

DEDICATION: The above post is dedicated to Jennifer Lamont Leo, who strives to understand my addiction, but who is also rumored to be planning a cliche intervention for me.

Friday, February 11, 2011


There’s a new book club in town…or, I should say…in our region.

2011 is the beginning of Our Region Reads, a cooperative effort by area libraries to encourage residents of North Idaho to read together a shared book and to enjoy educational and cultural events related to that book. The program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council with additional support from the Friends of the Library at Post Falls, Hayden and Coeur d’Alene libraries.

The first selection for Our Region Reads is The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by New York Times bestselling author Jamie Ford, a resident of Montana. The text from the back cover of the book reads as follows:

In 1986, Henry Lee joins a crowd outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has discovered the belongings of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II. As the owner displays and unfurls a Japanese parasol, Henry, a Chinese American, remembers a young Japanese American girl from his childhood in the 1940s - Keiko Okabe, with whom he forged a bond of friendship and innocent love that transcended the prejudices of their Old World ancestors. After Keiko and her family were evacuated to the internment camps, she and Henry could only hope that their promise to each other would be kept. Now, forty years later, Henry explores the hotel's basement for the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot even begin to measure. His search will take him on a journey to revisit the sacrifices he has made for family, for love, for country.

If you’d like to join the read, several copies of the book are available at participating libraries. Or if you’d prefer your own copy, it is available through booksellers in hardback, paperback, and ebook formats.

Events relating to the book begin this month when history professor Robert Sims offers a presentation on the Minidoka Internment Camp. Located in south central Idaho, Camp Minidoka was also called Hunt, and held nearly 10,000 people of Japanese ancestry during the war. The camp had a great impact on Idaho during the war years and was an important part of both Idaho and United States History. In 2001, it was designated as a National Monument, and plans are being developed for the site.

Sims will speak and present a slideshow in four Idaho communities as part of the Our Region Reads project:

  • Feb. 24, 3 p.m., Golden Spikes Community Center, 8580 W. Yosemite, Rathdrum
  • Feb. 25, 3 p.m., Spirit Lake Library, 32575 N. Fifth Ave., Spirit Lake
  • Feb. 25, 6 p.m., Athol Library, 30399 Third St., Athol
  • Feb. 26, 2 p.m., Hayden Library, 8385 N. Government Way, Hayden

Additional events will take place in March featuring author Priscilla Wegars. Wegars will present Imprisoned in Paradise : Japanese Road Workers at the Kooskia Internment Camp, which is the title of one of her books.

A full schedule of events and other information about Our Region Reads is available at participating libraries and at

Check it out and help make this program a success.

Also, take a look at our Events page for other upcoming happenings in our area.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

FREE: Goodies for Writers

I searched the Internet recently to see what free resources I could find that might be helpful to writers. Some of what I found—free online courses and ebooks—are listed below. You may already be familiar with some but, like me, you may discover something new!


OCW (OpenCourseWare)

OCW offers free digital publications of high-quality, university-level educational materials. The materials are organized as courses and sometimes include course planning materials, evaluation tools, and thematic content. The materials can include syllabi, reading lists, lecture notes and other material that have been used in classrooms and are now made available to the public.

This link will take you directly to the search page to find course materials:


This site highlights 10 universities offering free online writing courses. Some courses listed on this site are offered through OCW, referred to above. The site also contains writing-related videos.

OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab

Check out the OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab and scan through its writing tips and resource materials.


Noah Lukeman

New York literary agent Noah Lukeman offers his free ebook, How to Write a Great Query Letter: Insider Tips and Techniques for Success, on his website.

J. A. Konrath

Go to author J. A. Konrath's website to download his free ebook, The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, which is packed with information about the publishing industry.


Smashwords is an ebook publisher. On the Smashwords website you can find a number of free writing-related ebooks. Just click on a title that interests you and download it as a PDF file to read on your computer.

Other Sites

Here are a few additional places to check for free ebooks for writers:

Happy Learning!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Correction: There was a typo in the blog address for today's guest blogger, Kathy Cooney Dobbs. You can find her blog at:


Monday, February 7, 2011

What's Your Story?

Today we are happy to share a post by guest blogger, Kathy Cooney Dobbs. A North Idaho freelance writer and poet, Kathy gives us some thoughts about telling one's story, the influence and importance of past writing techniques, and a look at some resources for writers.


My eighth grade teacher, Sister Mary Agnesine used to say, “Everybody has a story to tell, one that’s special and unique to them.”  I agree with Sister,  everybody has a story  they’d like to share with others. It may inspire or thrill, make one laugh or cry; give insight about a friend, family member, a person of history, or a particular time and place. Whoever writes a story, writes the story in their own style and genre—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir. The story may be a published manuscript, or unpublished; it may come to life in a newspaper article, magazine feature or internet blog. It can be told via letter writing, or in a journal. The important thing is to tell the story.

I’d like to say something more about the value of letter writing as I believe it’s a form of writing often overlooked in the 21st century, primarily due to modern technology—texting, tweeting and online chat rooms. Letters can give a detailed picture of one’s life and environment. If only a snapshot of a moment in time, letters document emotion, description and dialogue, and can even answer those journalistic questions of who, why, what, when and where.

In my basement is a box of letters from family and friends that I first began saving in the late 1950’s and have continued to do so through the years. When I reread the letters now, it’s as though I’m reading a biopic about those who are part of my life, allowing me to relive those old feelings of joy and pain, the happy times and sad times, the important and not so important activities of daily life. Sometimes it gives me new perspective about the person writing the letter, and the time it was written. I think of the famous letters of presidents and pioneers, and what we continue to learn from them, and about them, and the history of their day. Without letters as a way of storytelling, I fear future generations will lose much in learning about what came before them, and why.

For those of us who aren’t ‘Best Selling’ authors, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of books today about improving writing skills, and hints on how to get published. I know, as I have more than a few lining the shelf in my study. Three favorites are, Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco Barrett, The Daily Writer by Fred White and Poemcrazy: freeing your life with words by Susan G. Wooldridge. I recommend these three authors, especially for those interested in writing memoir and poetry. Each gives good examples of narrative writing, and practice guides to help improve creative thought.

Another source I find myself returning to time and time again—one you won’t find in any book store, but one very instructive about how to write—is Voyages in English. Copyright 1958, published by Loyola Press, and coauthored by Reverend Paul E. Campbell and Sister Mary Donatus MacNickle, it is proving to be a wonderful refresher course in the basic principles of how to write well.

In Chapter two, “Studying the Paragraph” it states, “A paragraph, whether it is long or short, develops one main idea. Every sentence in the paragraph must relate to that one main idea or topic. A good paragraph can be divided into three parts: (1) a beginning sentence, (2) middle sentences, and (3) an ending sentence. The beginning sentence begins the paragraph, attracts attention, and gives a hint of what is to follow. It may also express the central thought of the paragraph. The middle sentences develop the thought introduced in the beginning sentence. The ending sentence gives the last detail, sums up the paragraph, or makes a personal comment.”

Another chapter, “Polishing a Paragraph” is a reminder that sentences can be improved by changing plain words to words that appeal to the senses or words that express exact meanings. Sometimes a writer can add variety to paragraphs and make them more interesting by occasionally inverting the word order. For example: The songs of a thousand birds came from every bush and tree (Natural Order). From every bush and tree came the songs of a thousand birds (Inverted Order).

While this may seem elementary to many, I’ve attended writing seminars in recent years where an entire afternoon was spent on parts of the paragraph, proving how to write a paragraph is still an important lesson writer’s need to learn.

Other chapters are “Writing Letters”, “Phrases, Clauses, Sentences”, and “Participles, Gerunds, Infinitives”. I must say the word ‘gerund’ makes me laugh, and think of some underground critter rather than a verb form ending in ‘ing’. About gerunds, an internet writers guide suggests using too many gerunds makes one’s writing seem passive. I try to keep that in mind, and not ‘ing’ too many of my words.

“Model Diagrams”, the final chapter, will only be of interest to those of us of a certain age who might recall homework exercises, or standing at the blackboard to diagram simple and complex sentences—the idea of the diagram being to show in graphic manner the relationship that exists among the various words that make up a sentence.

To be honest, I’m not sure I could properly diagram a sentence today, but I do know my first lessons in writing, taught by the good Sisters of Notre Dame, left a lasting impression on me, a love of the written word, and the belief everyone has a story to tell.


Kathy Cooney Dobbs is a freelance writer and poet who moved to north Idaho with her husband and son in 1992 from southern California. A member of the Idaho Writer's League, Kathy studied journalism at the College of Marin in San Rafael, California. She worked for the Pico Rivera News, Herald American/Call Enterprise newspaper chain, and the Los Angeles Times. Kathy's writing has appeared in a number of periodicals, including The Inland Catholic, The Idaho Register, The Senior Advocate and Spokesman-Reveiw. Her poetry has appeared in Write-On Poetry Magazette, and the Storyteller - A Writer's Magazine. Currently Kathy is working on a compilation of her grandmother's poetry and prose. You can read Kathy's blog, 2 lane highway at

Friday, February 4, 2011

Up Coming Events

Writing a book or story and need research about women’s fashions? Check out this exhibit!

Northwest Museum of Art and Culture: Dress Code

Date(s): Now - 04/30/2011

Times: 10am-5pm

Event Location: Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (MAC)

Event Address: 2316 W 1st

Phone: (509) 456-3931

Admission: $7 Adults/$5 Seniors & Students/FREE 5 and under

Venue(s): Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Clothing and fashion can signal the changing roles and ambitions of women and provide clues about personal identity. From the luxury of feeling beautiful to strategies for getting ahead, women wear the varied armors of female fashion to get what they want. This whimsical exhibit decodes the social mores and messages telegraphed by what women wear. You’ll get to try it on, and check it out!

Feed another artistic side

Chagall, Kollwitz, MirĂ³, & Picasso

Date(s): Now - 03/12/2011

Times: Mon-Fri 10am-4pm/Sat noon-4pm

Event Location: Jundt Art Museum

Event Address: 202 East Cataldo, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA

Phone: (509) 313-3890

Admission: FREE

Venue(s): Gonzaga University-Campus Services

Chagall, Kollwitz, MirĂ³, & Picasso, an exhibit from the Gonzaga University Permanent Collection, is displayed in the 1,288 square-foot Arcade Gallery through March 12. In addition, the Chancellor's Room has installations of Chihuly Glass, including the permanent installation of the Gonzaga Red Chandelier. Also featured in this gallery are statues by Auguste Rodin and prints by Piero Fornasetti. The Museum also includes a print study room for Gonzaga's print collection.

Book Signing

Auntie’s Bookstore

402 W. Main, Spokane

Start: 02/05/2011 1:00 pm

End: 02/05/2011 3:00 pm

Local author LeAnne Kemmish signs copies of her novel, Zion Quest. Rachel returns to college after the death of both her parents, then finds herself caught up in the stories she uncovers in a journal dated 1853, written by an immigrant ancestor who settled in Utah territory.

New Writing Group Forming

Valley Writing Group--Join local author Jessica Titchenal in the Barnes & Noble Cafe for a writers' group. Bring your ideas, drafts, pens and papers for a support group for writers of all genres.

Thursday February 10, 2011 7:00 PM - Thursday June 09, 2011, weekly

Market Pointe I Shopping Center, 15310 E. Indiana Ave., Spokane, WA 99216, 509-922-4104

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Selecting a Title for Your Book

Having trouble thinking of a title or subtitle for your book, story or poem? Writer John Faulk in an article for, 2006 and Nick Padmore, contributing writer to “A List Apart for people who design web sites“ ( offer some helpful tips.

Faulk says that a title is a “forever marketing tool. It is as important as your first paragraph.” In other words, it is the hook that gets people attracted to and interested in your book. The same is true for tag lines for products. “The pause that refreshes” is much better than “Hot and sweaty? Take a break and drink our soda”.

Both men state that a title or tag line should be easy to recall. Think about asking a sales clerk in a bookstore to find “that book my friend talked about a spy in MI6 in England” versus “Do you have The Spy Who Came in from The Cold?” or “I want that paper towel that works really well” versus “Bounty The quicker picker upper.” There are several ways to accomplish this. Effective methods include themed titles: places like Michener’s Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean; Sue Grafton’s alphabet titles A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar; and James Patterson’s nursery rhyme titles Roses Are Red and Along Came a Spider . Taglines like “Look, ma, no cavities”, “Good to the last drop!” and “Mm! Mm! Good!” are immediately evocative of the products names.

Publishers will tell you a negative in a book title is a no-no even if you are writing true crime or a thriller. Patricia Cornwell’s book would not have gotten published under the titles “Decomposing Bodies on a Hill” (The Body Farm) or “Don’t Look at the Dead Body on the Morgue Slab” (Post Mortum). Likewise Holiday Inn’s tag line “Pleasing the world over” sets a positive thought in your mind: if I stay at Holiday Inn, I will be happy in a clean, nice hotel room with pleasant staff wherever I travel.

Advertising tag lines are an average of 3.5 words according to Padmore. “A diamond is forever”, “The breakfast of champions” and “Because I’m worth it” and “Zoom Zoom Zoom” all elicit the products names without taking up valuable space. The same should be said for book titles. The Robe, Angels and Demons, Lake Wobegon Days, and My Sister’s Keeper are all short titles. Effective one-word titles have been: Jaws, Atonement, Heidi, Persuasion and Beloved.

Study tag lines of other commercials for inspiration. When thinking of a title for your book, poem or subtitle, use some of these techniques to see if it genders a memorable, short, likable, marketable title.

To add a smile to this blog some book titles and tag lines that are labeled the worst in their industries:

Knitting with Dog Hair: Better a Sweater from a Dog You Know than from a Sheep You’ll Never Meet (book)

Cooking with Pooh (Disney’s Winnie the Pooh cook book for kids)

Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern America (book)

Book by Whoopee Goldberg

Oh, Waiter: One Order of Crow! Inside the Strangest Presidential Election Finish in American History by Jeff Gold Greenfield (book)

“We get you there” Delta Airlines, tag line. Most people think: “You’d better!“

“We want you to live” Mobile gasoline. “Ummm, me too!”

“Eat Jimmy Dean” Jimmy Dean sausage. “Why would I want to eat a person?”

Question: When searching for a book to read in the bookstore or library, does the book title influence your choice?

(All product names, tag lines and some book titles are copy righted)