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Destination Inspiration: Powell’s City of Books & World Cup Roasters

World Cup Roasters at Powell's

The one thing better than a cafe bustling with writers and book-lovers is such a cafe located inside the biggest bookstore you can imagine. Think that place only exists in your dreams? Think again–it’s World Cup Roasters located inside Powell’s City of Books in Portland.

Food and Beverages

First things first when you arrive at the cafe ready to write: Fuel up! Order a coffee or tea–any beverage that suits the mood. While you’re at it, don’t forget the food. You might as well come hungry and give one of the individual savory pies from Pacific Pie Company a try. Selections vary from bacon, egg, and cheese to chard, Gruyère, and egg.

Pacific Pie Company Pastry

Location and Atmosphere

Not far from our first-ever Destination Inspiration profile–Pearl Bakery–Powell’s City of Books is located in the Pearl District, amidst all sorts of stores from Anthropologie to kitchen supplies. With Powell’s labrynth of bookshelves, one could happily and willingly get lost for hours. Few things stimulate the brain of a book lover/writer quite like the smell of books, the feeling of the pages shuffling beneath your finger tips and the endless ideas and possibilities contained inside. Walking into Powell’s will surely have your head spinning and your mind bursting with creativity.

Powell's Bookshelves

Writeability and Purchased Presence

One look as you step inside and you’ll see that Powell’s is a sort of black hole for book lovers, and the cafe is no exception. With shelves of romance novels and paranormal young adult fiction on one side, large windows on two sides, and an entrance to the main part of the bookstore on the other, the cafe is obviously a haven for the many people who sit drinking coffee, reading books, and writing on their laptops in the spacious eating area. The question is whether you can grab the open spot before someone else claims it for the next few hours. Obviously, if you’re planning on sticking around at your seat for hours, please live up to the Nooks & Cranberries Code of Conduct and be courteous and place more orders; if it’s particularly busy, consider giving up your seat and taking a break to browse books for a while before returning.

Powell's Pillar

Price: $$

It’s a coffee shop, and prices reflect that. From coffees for a few dollars to individual savory pies from Pacific Pie Company for about $5, you can fuel up on caffeine and food and still have a budget for the books you’ll inevitably want to take home.


You’re in luck: Powell’s has a parking garage!

Powell's Banner

Writer’s Tip

Try a new challenge in this unique bookstore. Explore the section of a genre you are unfamiliar with. For example, if you gravitate toward fiction, check out the travel section. Pick out a book and read a few paragraphs or whatever it takes to get an idea of the voice. With that new tone in mind, try rewriting something of your own, gearing it toward that new genre. You might be surprised at the new spin this gives your work!

Find it:

World Cup Roasters Cafe / Powell’s City of Books

1005 W Burnside
Portland, OR 97209

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Chelan Writing Retreat: The Barrel Feast

It was a gorgeous weekend. The sun was out, the sky was clear and the snow capped mountains were a gleaming backdrop. The best part was that we were viewing all this splendor from the car as we drove out of Seattle and made our way to Chelan for a quick writing retreat.

The kids were set to spend quality time with the dads and the women were off to let the their writing minds take them where they may…well, with a loose itinerary. We were to visit a few wine tasting rooms, meet a press contact for dinner, stay the night at a lovely resort overlooking Lake Chelan and then meet for a “Wine Immersion” experience the next morning. Boy were we in for a treat!

Chelan Horizon

By the time we had settled in at The Lake House and tasted some of the wine provided in the room, it was time to meet our contact for dinner. We were privileged to meet about a dozen or so people for the intimate Barrel Feast at Tunnel Hill Winery. What a fantastic experience! We arrived and were led into their barrel room in which was set a long table with a silk copper runner, candles and place settings lined by four wine glasses each. After a brief meet and greet, we took our seats and were presented with a four course meal, complete with wine pairings. Our host, Guy Evans, introduced the cook who is the head chef at Cafe Mason.

Beet Salad

We poured over the mouth-watering courses with the wine pairings and got to know the people sitting around us. As I looked up and down the long table, the writer in me started to churn…or more accurately, the fiction side of my writing mind. Sure, I could write a compelling piece about how lovely our trip has been and how tasty the local fare is, the travel magazines would surely eat that up. But the fiction-writing side of my brain was looking for something a little more thrilling, mysterious even. It kept wondering ‘what if’. Like, what if someone left for the restroom and didn’t come back? What if the next person to visit the restroom found the previous person’s body slumped against the wall, dead? Of the people I’ve met so far, who would make the best victim? Who would make the best murderer? Perhaps the congress woman sitting next to me, political motives are often seedy. Or what about the innocent-looking newly wed couple to my right? They do seem a little too innocent. What could they be hiding? Or this contractor across the table, how far would he go to win a bid? My brain went on like this, humming in the background as I made pleasant conversation and secretly gleaned information for character development.

While I am fortunate to have a steady job as a freelance writer, sometimes the pressure to produce non-fiction material takes over and my fiction muscles feel neglected and atrophe. This trip was a nice opportunity to stretch those muscles and get back in action. I’d like to encourage you, if you have a passion for writing fiction, to allow yourself to let go every once in a while and run with the wiles of your imagination. Of course, do your due diligence, if you have a non-fiction deadline, but then exchange that notepad for your story-telling notepad. Soak up the characters around you and let your mind wander down the path of ‘what if’s’.

Writer’s Tip: Having a restricted setting with a set cast can force you to get creative with your limited options.  Next time you go to a restaurant, find the table with the most people and use them as your cast of characters. Write a short story that takes place in that restaurant with just that table of people.

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Yoga Pants

There are a handful of books I come back to whenever I’m in a writing bind. They are like a lucky shirt or an old pair of jeans – the things I slip into when I feel blah. They are my yoga pants.

I’ve been in a writing pickle lately. Overwhelmed and not sure where to start. So I turned to one of my all time favorite default books, Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. She is one of my writing heroes and this book has the magical ability to pull me back from the edge of despair and remind me that when you are overwhelmed, just take it one chunk at a time.

Bird by Bird

She says in her book that if when you sit down to write and are bombarded by the mountain of laundry that needs to be done, or the dishes or that thing you needed to take care of last week that you forgot about until just now – when all that stuff comes to the surface, take a breathe and tell yourself all you’re going to do right now is write one small paragraph. One small paragraph of one small scene, perhaps the scene where we first meet your character at the bus stop. Or the moment your character walks into a restaurant and sees the woman he is going to marry, or maybe that moment you decided to quit your job and become – oh, I don’t know – a writer. The point is, take baby steps. Start with these little snapshots and allow the rest of the world to slide off your back as you fall into your groove.

This is where I convince myself that I did buy these yoga pants to work out in, I am working out my writing muscles. I know, bad joke…but it’s the truth. We all need those comfort items to go back to when we feel overwhelmed, those things that steady us in the turbulence and bring clarity in the fog. Consider your writing comforts, do you have a book that inspires you every time you pick it up and read that first sentence? What are your safety defaults in times of writing stagnation?

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Daily Writer’s Fix: January 28-February 1 (Idea Generator Wrap-Up)


With January coming to a close this week, we’re wrapping up a month of Idea Generator posts with a recap of exercises and prompts to get the creative juices flowing. Whether you’ve followed along since the first post a month ago or came in late, these exercises will be helpful to do again and again whenever you’re looking for ideas for what to write about.

We’d love to hear some of the ideas you’ve come up with–and read the resulting stories! Always feel free to leave a comment or drop us an e-mail–we love hearing from you. And in the meantime, keep checking back each weekday for more writing inspiration, resources, and perspectives on the writing life!

Idea Generator #1: What you want to learn more about

Idea Generator #2: Drawing inspiration from your life

Idea Generator #3: Your topics of interest

Idea Generator #4: Do something you love to do

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Daily Writer’s Fix: January 21-25 (Idea Generator, Round 4)


When it comes to unleashing creative power as a writer, sometimes branching out and trying a new genre or even a different form of art or a completely separate activity can get the ball rolling. As real as writer’s block can feel, we believe that there is always a way out of a writing rut. Sometimes it just takes tricking the brain into forgetting that it’s feeling stuck.

Today’s Idea Generator will be a real treat–both for your inner writer and for your overall self. In fact, you might even feel guilty at first about not being productive, even though you really are.

What do you love to do? Think about things that you truly take joy in–playing your favorite Chopin waltz on the piano, painting a still life, baking an elaborate cake, taking a long and leisurely stroll, birding, nature photography, practicing your golf swing, etc. Now, narrow that list down to five, and do one of them each day this week through Friday. Whatever you’re doing, keep a small notebook and a pen accessible for jotting down ideas that might come to you, but otherwise try to focus on the activity at hand. Notice the whole experience of engaging in that activity–from the sound of the birds mingling with the hum of highway traffic at the driving center to the way your fingers glide across the keys effortlessly when you let your mind just focus on the music. Run what you’re feeling through each of the five senses and fully enjoy the activity.

As soon as you’re done, spend 10-15 minutes freewriting, starting with how you felt during the activity and then seeing where it goes. Stop while you’re still going strong. Now, with your creative juices flowing, spend five more minutes actively trying to come up with story ideas. They might be related to the activity or to something you wrote while freewriting. Or they might be totally different. Now add your list of ideas to the ones you’ve collected in our previous Idea Generators.

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Your Divided Attention

Overlooking the snowy mountains.
Overlooking the snowy mountains.

You read that right. I’ll need your divided attention. These days, undivided attention is hard to come by, and sometimes not always the most necessary attribute to have. As a new mom, I long for the days when I could sit down and write undisturbed. I could pour my full attention into whatever tickled my whimsy. But those days are gone. Case in point, even as I’m writing this sentence, I’m holding my child back from the power cords with my foot. This is what I might consider the epitome of divided attention…or as some call it, multi-tasking.

I love those rare sweet undisturbed moments and since my little one has gotten more mobile, those are few and far between. They come with nap time, bedtime, and when dad takes him for a hike on the weekends. Those are the moments you have to cherish and the minutes you really have to utilize. It can get overwhelming. Where do you start? There’s so much you want to do and only a matter of hours to do it. It’s like routing a river through a pinhole.

I could give you the tactics I use to get the most out of my few free moments…lists, tricks using a timer, etc. But in all honesty, there are times when you just need to sit back and let the pressure roll off your shoulders and just write when you feel like it. You have to remind yourself that it’s not all about the race, sometimes it’s just about the writing. The sheer pleasure you get out of writing what matters to you, when it matters to you.

If you find yourself in a pinhole situation of time, don’t stress. Relax and let the words come as they may. It’s your free time, so shrug off the pressure and let yourself focus your attention on being free.

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Daily Writer’s Fix: January 7-11 (Idea Generator, Round 2)


Whew, we made it. What I’m talking about is keeping our New Year’s writing resolutions. It’s been almost a week since we had to start getting used to writing 2013 instead of 2012, and we’ve had nearly a week to keep the goals we set.

We’ll get back to our normal sensory-based Daily Writer’s Fix format soon, but I want to start the year off by making sure that you have a substantial pool of topics and ideas to pull out whenever you’re wondering what to write about. If you did the exercise in our first Idea Generator every day last week, you already have a great start. And if you use this week’s Idea Generator every day between now and Friday, you’ll have more ideas than you know what to do with (and that’s a good problem to have).

And now… here’s this week’s Idea Generator:

Your life is a treasure chest from which to draw ideas. The trick is identifying things in life as story nuggets. Keep a small notepad with you at all times this week; carry it around the house in your pocket and in the front pocket of your purse or briefcase whenever you leave the house.While you’re going about your day, think about what’s relevant to your life. What issues are you trying to work through? What are some defining characteristics of your lifestyle? What are some new techniques, habits, or solutions you’re trying to work into your life? Whenever you come up with an idea, write it down in your notepad right away, along with any notes or visions you might have for a story angle. Don’t worry about developing the story right now; just write down what comes to mind you’ll have a good springboard when it’s time to get writing. Challenge yourself to come up with at least five of these each day between now and Friday. If you do, you’ll have at least 25 story ideas or topics by the end of the week!

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Daily Writer’s Fix: New Year’s Idea Generator (December 31-January 4)

Happy New Year! One of the things we love most about starting a new year is a fresh opportunity to determine goals and settle into new routines and positive habits–especially related to writing. We’ll be talking a lot in January about how to set–and keep–writing goals and get the new year off to a good start. But in order to write, you need ideas, right? One aspiring freelance writer asked me recently how I come up with ideas. That got me thinking about creating a Nooks & Cranberries “Idea Generator.” That’s one of the new things you’ll be seeing here regularly, and this week’s edition of Daily Writer’s Fix seems like a great place to introduce it.

And with that, here is this week’s Idea Generator:

Make a list of things you’d like to learn more about. Examples could be include how to fall asleep more quickly, good nutrition for kids on the go, how to bridge the marriage or kids gap with single friends, or anything. List as many things as you can think about. Divide your list into five little lists–one for each day of this workweek. Each day, take your mini list of topics and develop each one into a series of article ideas. For example, how to fall asleep more quickly could lead to the following articles: 10 ways to clear your end for a good night of sleep, relaxation techniques for bedtime, bedtime rituals for the whole family, the sleep “diet”: how to eat well for sweet dreams, expert advice on how to fall asleep and stay asleep, etc. You get the idea. Think in terms of headlines, if that helps.

If you do this each day this week, by Friday you’ll have a large pool of potential ideas just waiting to be developed! Further refinement is necessary, but that comes with time as you start delving into a particular topic when preparing the query letter. In the meantime, you’ll start the new year with no excuses for having nothing to write about!