Posted on Leave a comment

Daily Writer’s Fix: April 1-5 (Travel Edition)

Water at Kauai Beach

How does vacation–or any type of travel for that matter–impact your writing life? Chances are, if you’re like me, that it can be a challenge to maintain any sort of routine. And to be honest sometimes it’s good to take a break from that routine–if you’re confident you’ll be able to to pick it back up upon returning home. Another challenge is how to balance your typical writing with the journaling or note-taking you may want to do to record memories and moments from the trip. With that in mind, let’s spend some time this week working on travel-writing skills. That way, when you travel next time you’ll have an easier time observing details, taking notice of seemingly small yet important moments, and ultimately letting the words flow on the page. And with that, here’s the exercise:

Every day this week, observe something in your neighborhood or life as though you were traveling and seeing or experiencing it from the eyes of a visitor. What are the sights and sounds of the place (maybe it’s your backyard or your neighborhood park) or the event (it could be a trip to the market or a playdate with your friends) that capture its essence? What do you need to put into words in order to bring you back to this time and place when you reread your writing in the future? Consider each of the five senses. Notice the who, what, where, when, and why. Observe the thoughts running through your head–those that are related, and the seemingly random ones that that are popping up. Jot notes as they come to you, and then when you return to your computer, write a few paragraphs about your experience.

Posted on Leave a comment

Daily Writer’s Fix: March 25-29

Powell's Bookshelves

Did you enjoy the Daily Writer’s Fix from a few weeks ago when we encouraged you to go digging in your beloved writing books? We’re doing it again this week!

Do you ever read through books about writing and dog-ear the pages with writing exercises, telling yourself you’ll go back to them soon and actually complete them? If so, do you return to them? This week is when you will. Each day this week, work through an exercise in one of your favorite writing books. If you have a vast collection of books, try one exercise in a book, then move on to the next book. Or if you have a particularly inspiring book, work solely with that one’s exercises. Finally, if one exercise particularly speaks to you, consider repeating that one with different topics or themes each day. Finally, if you have a particular favorite among the exercises, make a note of it and return to it whenever your writing or idea-generating needs a boost.

Posted on Leave a comment

Friday Forum: 3/22

Image from
Image from

An author has made major headway for writers on the publishing scene. Hugh Howey has managed to become a millionaire from his science fiction series which is available on Amazon. “Wool” sold more than 400,000 ebooks and was optioned for Hollywood, and all well before the first print edition rolled off the press! What makes this story a special example of hope for writers everywhere is this: the average author gets about 12% of the profits from a book sold through a publisher, with Hugh’s contract with Simon & Schuster he has managed to arrange for 70%. (You can listen to his interview with KIRO radio). Could this be a new trend allowing authors to benefit more from their hard work? Check out what Hugh Howey has been up to with his series Wool.

As a writer have you considered how you are going to get your work into the hands of your readers? Through a publisher? Through independent publishing? Amazon? Here’s hoping this is a new dawn for aspiring authors everywhere.

Posted on Leave a comment

Destination Inspiration: Sterling Coffee Roasters

Sterling Coffee Roasters Sign Portland holds a soft spot in our hearts. Just a few hours away from Seattle, it’s easy to drive there for a weekend, and it’s a perfect urban getaway for people who like books (one word: Powell’s!), good food, the Northwest lifestyle, and–of course–coffee.

Sterling Coffee Roasters

Food and Beverages

Let the flavors shine by keeping your coffee order simple: an espresso or macchiato if you like your coffee mostly straight, or a cappuccino. The flavors are incredibly smooth, while being distinct and bold. This is the way coffee should taste. As for the food, the chocolate-coffee loaf had a moist, spongy crumb, a delicate and not-t00-sweet flavor, and a color as deep as espresso. In other words, it was an ideal accompaniment to the showstopper coffee.

Sterling Coffee

Location and Atmosphere

Described on the website as “Coffeehouse Northwest’s darling child,” Sterling–which is located on Northwest 21st Avenue in the Alphabet District–is a lovely little cafe that’s “afforded every luxury, from the nicest clothes to the best finishing school.” That essence is carried throughout the entire production, from the white tablecloths to the well-dressed staff.

The Alphabet District has a distinct charm in itself. An area zoned for historic preservation, the district is named for the alphabetical progression of street names. With beautiful classic buildings lining the streets, after you’ve enjoyed your visit at the cafe, it’s worth a walk to admire the historic scenery.

Writeability and Purchased Presence

To be honest, you probably don’t want to come here with your laptop–there’s simply not enough room for a computer and your order on those charming little white linen-wrapped tabletops complete with centerpieces. But you will want to have a tiny notebook on hand to jot down all the ideas that come to you as you sip your cappuccino in such an inspiring setting.

Sterling Coffee Roasters Interior

Price: $$

Coffee and pastries cost the standard handful of dollars. Bring a $10 bill and you’ll be set for a drink and pastry.


The only complaint about this place is the parking. For a city that–like Seattle–is so focused on bicycles, everyone seems to be driving around here, and street parking seems to be in high demand.

Writer’s Tip

As the space in the cafe doesn’t really afford room for much more than a notepad, try a notepad-sized exercise to get your brain churning on your current project. Whether your project is fiction or non-fiction, see if you can boil the content of your piece down to one or two sentences. The idea of the exercise is to sharpen the message behind your piece and give focus for further critique. If you don’t have a current project, perhaps use the notepad method and work backward to develop a short story from a single nutshell sentence. Happy writing!

Find it:

Sterling Coffee Roasters
417 NW 21st Ave
Portland, OR 97209

Posted on Leave a comment

Daily Writer’s Fix: March 18-22

How to use Daily Writers’ Fix



 Royal Hawaiian Lanai

If photography is painting with light, then writing is painting with words. Write a long paragraph today–about anything–being as descriptive as possible.



Ferry Rope

Take your character on a boat ride. While you’re at it, feel the breeze on your skin, listen to the sounds of the engine and the water, and smell the briny air. Write exactly what your character experiences and the significance of each of those sensations.




Where does this staircase lead? What does your character hear as he climbs? Silence? A raucous party?




Today, take one of your favorite scents–it could be an herb or perhaps a perfume or your favorite food–and write about it not mentioning the way it smells, but through the lens of touch instead.



Outdoor Seating

Practice dialogue today by taking a couple of characters and placing them at a table together for drinks or dinner and seeing what happens.

Posted on Leave a comment

Destination Inspiration: Productivity Winners


What are your go-to places when you need to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time? Ours depend on the situation–do we need a distraction-free place where we can relax, or will our current project thrive on a bustling setting? That said, here’s a look at some of our top destinations for productivity that we’ve featured so far:

Barking Dog Alehouse – Seattle

Nielsen’s Authentic Danish Pastry – Seattle

10 Barrel Brewing Company Pub – Bend

Walla Faces Wine Tasting Room – Walla Walla

Colville Street Patisserie – Walla Walla

Pearl Bakery – Portland

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

Posted on 1 Comment

Destination Inspiration: Scandinavian Specialties

Scandinavian Specialties

When it comes to writing about various cultures, sometimes it’s helpful to dive in and surround oneself with the trappings of that heritage, be it the food, people, decor, or art. Today’s Destination Inspiration post takes us to a Seattle store and cafe focused on Scandinavian products and food, showing us how you don’t have to travel far from home to get a little bit of a taste that will give your writing a boost.

Food and Beverages

Walking into Scandinavian Specialties, you’re instantly surrounded by Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish memorablia, decorations, and food. The young staff members are warm and friendly, and if you’re hungry, you’re drawn in by the pastries and sandwiches on display by the checkstand.

Go ahead and peruse the Norwegian sweaters, various Scandinavian baking equipment, candies, and delicacies, and the jewelry to your left, and the crystal and servingware on your right. And don’t miss the little book room in the back of the store (Daytona loves checking out the cookbooks back there to see if there are any new ones to add to her collection). But before you leave be sure to order an open sandwich–called smørrebrød–topped with smoked salmon, shrimp, or roast beef, and one of the Scandinavian pastries. Sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy the casual hospitality that Scandinavians are so good at.

Scandinavian Specialties Smorrebrod

Location and Atmosphere

Located on 15th Avenue Northwest–a main street in Ballard–you can’t miss the brightly colored building with Scandinavian-inspired murals. Inside, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a mix of authentic and kitchy Scandianvainn items, which please everyone from the immigrants who shop there for a taste of the home they left behind or the people who are looking for a souvenir-style gift for a friend. Even on the greyest Seattle day, you can’t help but be cheered up and warmed up by coming here and staying for a while.

Writeability and Purchased Presence

The tables here are placed alongside the mercheandise, making it less of a restaurant and more like a cafe, but it’s a great place for people watching, and you’ll be sure to be tempted to buy a colorful bowl or cakestand.

Price: $$

With pastries starting at less than $2 and sandwiches running just a few dollars more, you can have a satisfying and delicious lunch that’s fairly inexpensive.


With a small parking lot on site, you can usually find a spot pretty easily.

Writer’s Tip

Immerse yourself in the cultural atmosphere of this cafe. Take in the buttery scent of the pastries, the chatter of the patrons and the colors of the merchandise and artwork. Take a moment to write a quick scene that includes all these elements and see where that snippet of writing takes you.

Find it:

Scandinavian Specialties
6719 15th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98117

Posted on 2 Comments

Daily Writer’s Fix: March 4-8


If you’re anything like me, you read books about writing and think to yourself while writing the exercises, that’s a good one–I should do it. But the problem is, we turn the page to read the next chapter and then forget about the exercise that promised to yield some fantastic prose.

Well, this is the week to change that. In place of our usual writing prompts, I want to encourage you to pull your writing books off the shelves this week and choose one exercise to complete each day. It doesn’t matter necessarily which ones you choose, just that you force yourself to take the leap from reading about writing to actually doing it.

While you’re doing it, leave a note here and let us know what writing books inspire you most! Some of our current favorites are Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Dianne Jacob’s Will Write for Food.