Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Place and the Pen

by Tim Pfau

Consider a place that holds meaning for you. Perhaps it is the most stunning scenery on earth, perhaps it is as nondescript as a bus stop but a marriage proposal was made and accepted there.

How do you take the intensity of that place and transfer it to the reader?

I think the key realization for the writer of “place” is that it does not exist without the observer. 

Place figures large for most writers, especially Oregon writers.  It was dreams of a place of wealth that drew the original Gold Man to Oregon. The same site held the dream of home, for the natives who met him. One was a fantasy of longing, the other of belonging, but neither was the soil, wood, rock, sky and water.

Those existed a million years before they were seen by human eyes. The wind blew through them unfelt. The blue of the sky was unseen and the moving water unheard.

It is the arrival of the human mind that allows place to acquire such qualities as “beauty” and “romance”. Place is the mirror the writer can reflect into. It is sharing those reflections that can pull the reader into a sense of identification with the writer’s tale.

The viewers see grand metaphors for their values. The writer articulates that metaphor.

Consider C.E.S. Wood, Oregon’s seminal free verse poet, writing of eastern Oregon in the late 1890’s.

Have you not heard the utterances of the guardian rocks
And the low psalming of the mountains,
The bare hills, flashing skies and clouds?
The hushed communion of the brotherhood
Under the snow?
The drums of the sea and trumpets of the wind?
Each may receive his separate message,
If he will.    

(from “A Poet In The Desert”)

Ces, who brought us the words of Chief Joseph’s famous I-will-fight-no-more-forever surrender speech, saw −and wrote−  place in grand and heroic contrasts because they reflected himself, the soldier pacifist, millionaire progressive, man-of-influence revolutionary.

The active values “utterances, guardian, psalming, flashing, communion, brotherhood” were not inherent in the dirt, they were inherent in Ces’ view of himself.

It is by figuratively painting them on the rocks, sky and snow that he is able to share them with the reader.

He discovered and shared a “place” of eastern Oregon by casting his reflection upon it and used that imagery to pull his readers into sharing his dream.

Another example, from a different writer, with different values but facing the same landscape can be found in my own poem.

Out in Basin and Range
 far finite yellow grass
gray sage and juniper
uplifting blue mountains’
overlined horizons,

 or up in dust rock pine
down to earthen waved sea
where nothing moves but wind
 and cattle two miles away
become all  things’ center,

these eyes rise, filling sky’s
bowl where nothing is still
 around everlasting
mind’s flow into the void
with wraiths and reflections.

These feet settle into
soil where ants clean their bones
unnoticed as the sun,
moons,  clouds and stars laughing
dance light around edges.

The human heart, facing the emptiness of nature, will rush to fill it ─ if the writer opens the door.

To read more of Tim Pfau's work check out the 2013 issue of Gold Man Review.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What’s Up With the Fourth?

By Sandra McDow
Click here to find out more about Gold Man Review.

What’s Up With the Fourth?

. . . We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Hmm. What’s all this? I really like the pursuit of happiness notion.
I think that’s the idea behind the “fun, whimsical, low-tech la de da Parade at Noon in Yachats.”  Folks who attend that celebration can chase after great food, games, entertainment and live music and evening fireworks. Sounds like they plan to pursue happiness in a big way this year.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Wow. That’s heavy. Cold. Sounds almost subversive. The “Fourth” is a holiday, for criminy sakes. Seems like whoever wrote that must be “hung up” on human rights, or politics, stuff like that. Not me.

On the Fourth, I’m going to Portland and relax on the “grassy banks of the beautiful Willamette River, and while viewing the glacial peaks of Mt. Hood and the stunning Portland skyline, listen to the best blues music in the world.” That’s what I call a real Independence Day celebration.

 Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

Hey. Are they saying that we just put up with and ignore the bad stuff, like we’re stupid or something? Hey. What’s with that? We don’t. Like, the Blues Festival in Portland helps the food bank—they feed the poor and all. We don’t ignore the really bad stuff . . . do we?

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Really heavy. Throw stuff off and provide new “guards?” I wonder if that’s like when Albany discontinued the Timber Carnival on the Fourth—like, they threw it off, and did something different. It was, after all, obsolete. It always had a bunch of redneck loggers who tried to outdo one another in events like log-rolling, axe-throwing, climbing trees—you know—sawing, chopping and climbing. Of course they had parades, and princesses, and hot-dogs, too. But they tossed that out in 2000.  Nobody does that stuff anymore. Who wants to watch?

Now, in Albany, you can celebrate the Fourth at Montieth Riverpark with a picnic or vendor food and enjoy diverse, quality entertainment. Looks like that means music, mostly. Well, you know . . . everything changes. They probably do have hot dogs and fireworks, though.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States . . .
(In Congress, July 4, 1776, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America)

Well, speaking of injuries, and absolute tyranny over something, you should scope out Fourth of July rodeo in St. Paul, Oregon. They have lots of action there. Injuries? Oh, yeah. Absolute tyranny? Not so much. Mostly the bulls and broncos avoid being tyrannized by inflicting the injuries. The crowds love it. I think they have hot dogs, too. And fireworks. You can’t have a proper Fourth of July without hot dogs.

So, thinking about all this, I got curious. How did all this fun get started? I mean, everyone knows about the Declaration of Independence, and the ensuing war, and one nation under God, and Betsy Ross, and so on. But what’s with the parades, food and fireworks? Well . . . just check this out:

Yesterday the 4th of July, being the Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, was celebrated in this city with demonstration of joy and festivity. About noon all the armed ships and gallies in the river were drawn up before the city, dressed in the gayest manner, with the colours of the United States and streamers displayed. At one o'clock, the yards being properly manned, they began the celebration of the day by a discharge of thirteen cannon from each of the ships, and one from each of the thirteen gallies, in honour of the Thirteen United States. In the afternoon an elegant dinner was prepared for Congress, to which were invited the President and Supreme Executive Council, and Speaker of the Assembly of this State, the General Officers and Colonels of the army, and strangers of eminence, and the members of the several Continental Boards in town. The Hessian band of music taken in Trenton the 26th of December last, attended and heightened the festivity with some fine performances suited to the joyous occasion, while a corps of British deserters, taken into the service of the continent by the State of Georgia, being drawn up before the door, filled up the intervals with feux de joie. After dinner a number of toasts were drank, all breaking independence, and a generous love of liberty, and commemorating the memories of those brave and worthy patriots who gallantly exposed their lives, and fell gloriously in defence [sic] of freedom and the righteous cause of their country. Each toasts was followed by a discharge of artillery and small arms, and a suitable piece of music by the Hessian band. The glorious fourth of July was reiterated three times accompanied with triple discharges of cannon and small arms, and loud huzzas that resounded from street to street through the city. Towards evening several troops of horse, a corps of artillery, and a brigade of North Carolina forces, which was in town on its way to join the grand army, were drawn up in Second street and reviewed by Congress and the General Officers. The evening was closed with the ringing of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated. Every thing was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal. Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more. Amen, and amen (Virginia Gazette, 18 July 1777).

Now, I get it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Books That Changed Us

While I was reviewing a submission for Gold Man Review, I came across a comment in the piece about a book that had changed the life of the writer. I wrote down the title of the book and saved it for my future reading list. How could I not? What could be more interesting, more powerful, than a book that changed a life? I was thankful the writer chose to share the title, instead of just writing, “I read this book that changed my life …” and then carried on.  Because now, little does this writer know, that sometime in the future this book may change my life too.

On a personal, individual level, there are books that have changed the way we see ourselves, see our relationship to the world, and the paths we have chosen. Fortunately, there are several such books that have influenced who I am today, but one that most people might find surprising is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series. Yes, the boy wizard has had a profound impact on my life and I can even go as far as to say that if it weren’t for Harry Potter, that geeky looking kid with the lightning bolt scar on his forehead, I would not be me. So maybe there is magic after all.

Here’s how it happened:

I was at Red Lobster the day my life changed. I was working as a server, it was the lunch shift, and we had a parade of kids come in. Not necessarily a big deal in and of itself, except these kids were dressed up in capes, had lightning bolts drawn on their foreheads, and it wasn’t Halloween—now that was weird. I asked a coworker, “What’s up with the lightning bolts and capes?”

“Oh, it’s because of the Harry Potter movie. It was just released.”

“Harry Potter?”

“ You never heard of it?”

I had to really think, but then I remembered a friend of mine was reading those books and I made fun of her for reading a kids book at 19 years old. “Yeah,” I said, “I’ve heard of it.”

When the movie came out on DVD, I jumped on it. I had to know what made Harry Potter so popular. After watching the movie, I had to be honest; I thought I could do better.  Matter of fact, here were my exact words: “This is it? This is what all the hype is about? I can write something better than that!”

The very next day, I came up with a title, characters, and a plot (although it wasn’t really a plot) for my fantasy novel with wizards, elves, queens, and a boy destined for greatness and went to it. I wrote the thing every semester break nonstop and eventually finished it a year and a half later. I tried submitting it to publishing houses, but since I’m pretty sure that I’m the only person that has ever heard of Legend of Magia, you all know how that went.

As it turned out, I couldn’t write something better than Harry Potter. Not only is J.K. Rowling an excellent writer and storyteller, but my first fantasy novel had more problems than I could ever list here. The novel will more than likely stay forever locked in a drawer and hidden away from public eyes, unless it’s used for educational purposes on what NOT to do.  Then it might see the light of the open drawer.

If not, that’s okay because even though the story was a flop, I kept going. I moved on to other projects, kept writing, and kept learning until I was so far in and so much in love with creating stories that I could never walk away. I could never imagine a life without writing and, in the end; I owe my entire writing career to Harry Potter. Long live the Boy Wizard!

And, now, back to the books that changed us. We all have them and what can have more of a hook than a book that changes lives. So here, I will put on my Life Changing Books list: Harry Potter (all of them).

What are your books?

Heather Cuthbertson is the Editor-in-Chief for Gold Man Review. To read more about Heather Cuthbertson go to Heather Cuthbertson's Page.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hot Dogs, Valor and Courage

       Yay. 4-day weekend. How come? Does anyone know, remember?
       Oh. Yes. I remember.
        Memorial Day—everyone loves it--its the start of the boating season in some places, the weekend they run the Indy 500,  the weekend Oregon State Parks switch to summer rates for camping and getaways, and “the arrival of the season of entertaining. People stop thinking about blustery spring storms and start thinking about summer barbecues and picnics. Memorial Day is the perfect time to hold a backyard cookout to honor the arrival, finally, of summer. (Salem Oregon, Statesman-Journal, May 24, 2012)
       Oregon state workers enjoyed a "Furlough” day  on Friday, which means state government offices and state courts will be shut for four days over the Memorial Day holiday—of course, the Friday Furlough was without pay. Darn it. Have to work on that.
       It hasn’t always been so problematic—like what to do, cookout or camp, boat or beachcomb, party or PARTY.
       The biggest holiday weekend in May has an honorable history. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Later, in the early 20th century, it evolved into Decoration Day in many parts of the country. People began to honor their family dead, along with veterans, often trekking to family burial plots some distance away to clean-up gravesites, put flowers on the graves, and sometimes gather with family for get-togethers or picnics.  If you check around, you may find some old-timer who remembers that—Decoration Day became a solemn good time for all.
       So, what does any of this have to do with writing? It has to do with the sacrifice and valor, war and remembrance, hope and despair that either influenced, or was recorded in prose and poetry over not just decades, but centuries, by philosophers and writers.
For centuries, from Homer’s Iiliad, Sir Walter Scott’s Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field, Scotland’s plaintive song,  Loch Lomand,  down through the ages, Western poets and writers have honored soldiers fallen in battle.
       Several American books considered “classic” were written by authors who were either deeply influenced by the futility and heroism encompassed by wars, or who experienced it first-hand, and memorialized it in writing.
       Heminway, who served as a Red Cross ambulance driver in WWI, and Bradburys’ works reflect the influences of WWII, as do those of Salinger and Stienbeck, who served as a war correspondent in WWII. Even Betty Smith’s classic, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, incorporates the social effects of WWI.
        Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five was based upon his experiences as a POW during WWII.  Joseph Heller’s Catch-22;  Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead;  Gore Vidal’s Williwaw;  Tim O’Brien’s memoir If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, and novel, Going After Cacciat;  Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead are all based upon first-hand military experience in war-zones.
       For those among us who consider our soldier-warriers “cannon fodder,” and/or dismiss their service as either stupidity and waste, or at best, somehow self-serving,  they may want to consider those who stepped up and ensured that we have the liberty to think and express our ideas in  a free society. Can we prove it would have been different without them? No. One cannot prove a negative—but one can by viewing the world through the lens of history. For myself, I  thank those who served and gave their lives in times past that we may celebrate a 4-day weekend in peace, and live to write about it.
                                    Flanders Fields says it well:
                                    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
                                    Between the crosses, row on row,
                                    That mark our place; and in the sky
                                    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
                                    Scarce heard amid the guns below.
                                    We are the Dead. Short days ago
                                    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
                                    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
                                    In Flanders fields.
                                    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
                                    To you from failing hands we throw
                                    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
                                    If ye break faith with us who die
                                    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
                                    In Flanders fields. (John McRae, 1915)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dear Readers: Help Us Help You

Now that all of us at Gold Man Review are fighting over which stories and poems we want to have published, we’d like to take a timeout for icepacks and gauze, but more especially to hear back from you.

Other than a shiny, solid gold (I’m assuming it’s solid) mascot that just begs to have its nose polished, what services or events would you like a regional literary magazine to contribute to the community? Your community? Remember the more people who read GMR the bigger the literary community of Eugene gets. Some delirious ideas are as follows, though we hope you may have some better suggestions:

Half a dozen golden pioneers washing cars with sponges shaped like pickaxes to fundraise for literacy.

Writing workshops in which all attendees dress up like their favorite Portlandia character.

Sasquatch reading children’s books in a tiny chair to kindergarteners.

Flash-mob-style readings at the Woodburn outlet mall (with or without Sasquatch, TBD).

A thirty-mile, single-file hike on the Lewis and Clark trail that doubles as a lecture titled, Follow that Raccoon Skin Cap to Self-Publishing.

To Tree or Not to Tree: a vegan barbeque at Alton Baker Park in which the pros and cons of paper and eBook publishing are discussed.

Water balloon fight filled with environmentally-safe gold liquid, followed by a 5K run to raise awareness of environmentally-safe gold liquid.

Speed-reading contests: location to be determined—either at a very quiet place or a very loud place, but there will be a buzzer.

An all-out social media blitz proclaiming Eugene, Oregon as the center of the literary universe.

Got any ideas?

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Few Things to Report…

Gold Man had an amazing set of submissions this year. We are anxious to finish the reviews and push the nominations to publication. Remember to buy your copy of Issue 2 November 1st at Barnes and and Amazon.

The Gold Man Publishing website will be under construction for the next few weeks and we are excited to add a few perks to the site, check us out soon. 

Due to an enormous amount of community and regional support, Gold Man will be expanding for Issue 3. 

Lastly, Gold Man Review is in the process of becoming a Non-Profit. Our focus has been on the community and will remain at the center of our mission, which will chiefly be in the Salem, Portland, and Seattle area. Check back soon for updates. 

Thank you for all your submissions and until next time, 

Gold Man Team.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Going Old School for Character Ideas

Are all of your characters starting to sound the same? Do they lack a
unique something at their core? Here’s an exercise that can help you
come up with new characters.

It starts with Theophrastus. Who in the world was Theophrastus, you
ask? He was an afterthought to the golden age of Ancient Greek
literature, in short. But around 319 b.c.e. he wrote a strange work
that you might find helpful. It’s called “Characters,” and it consists
of 30 short character descriptions of various types, like “The
Insincere Man,” “The Man without Moral Feeling,” “The Talkative Man,”
and so on. They’re all defined by their flaws, so they are inherently
interesting, in story-telling terms. He makes up typical dialogue and
situations for each of them which you can translate to a modern
setting, if that’s your thing.

For example, here is Theophrastus on “The Unseasonable Man”:

The Unseasonable man is one who will go up to a busy person, and open
his heart to him. He will serenade his mistress when she has a fever.
He will address himself to a man who has been cast in a surety-suit,
and request him to become his security. He will come to give evidence
when the trial is over. When he is asked to a wedding, he will inveigh
against womankind. He will propose a walk to those who have just come
off a long journey. He has a knack, also, of bringing a higher bidder
to him who has already found his market. He loves to rise and go
through a long story to those who have heard it and know it by heart;
he is zealous, too, in charging himself with offices which one would
rather not have done, but is ashamed to decline. When people are
sacrificing and incurring expense, he will come to demand his
interest. If he is present at the flogging of a slave, he will relate
how a slave of his own was once beaten in the same way — and hanged
himself; or, assisting at an arbitration, he will persist in
embroiling the parties when they both wish to be reconciled. And, when
he is minded to dance, he will seize upon another person who is not
yet drunk.

Aside from some historical strangeness, a lot of this still has
resonance, and you can use just one of the situations, or make a
variation on any of them, to develop your own character or story.

Go skim the rest at

A lot of the descriptions are actually pretty funny, and here are
several ways you can use them:

1. Find one that seems especially interesting to you as a basis for a
character, and develop it. Think about an interesting situation to
plop that character down into. What will really challenge that person
the most? Or give them a chance to shine?

2. Turn the flaw into a virtue, and create a story that is a response
to Theophrastus’ unfair slander against your character.

3. Change a significant detail, and see how that changes your idea of
the character: make the character a woman instead of a man, make them
a recent immigrant from China, make them a dog, or a child, or a
magician. You’re a writer—use your imagination!

Click here to learn more about Darren Howard.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Myth of the Golden Woman

Chances are you’ve heard of the elusive Golden Woman. Or, perhaps you have not. Either way, questions remain. Who was she? A pioneer? The fashionista of her day? Maybe a goddess? The fact is there is little known about the urban legend that is Golden Woman.
            There is one who claims to “know” her. This person, who wishes to remain anonymous to the point that even sex cannot be revealed, will be referred to henceforth as Terry. Terry claims to be an ancestor of an ancestor who was extremely close to the family of the neighbor to the legendary Golden Woman. You can imagine the excitement of the Gold Man Review team…a window to her soul?

GMR: Who was she?
Terry: She lived, she breathed, she existed.

            Okay, so that’s a bit ambiguous.

GMR: Why the mysterious answer? Do you know who she was or don’t you? Do you have photos? When did she live? How did she die?
Terry: I’m afraid I can only answer one question at a time. And if you knew the story behind her existence and death, you would understand why she still haunts Salem and why my answers lack clarity.

            Okay. So this guy… or gal… could be a politician.

GMR: What is the story of her existence and death?
Terry: I’m not at liberty to say.
GMR: You called me. How can you not be at liberty to say?
Terry: The truth must come with understanding.
GMR: Right. You could tell me but then you’d have to kill me, is that it?
Terry: I’m afraid I don’t understand the reference.

            Of course not. Perhaps politician isn’t the right description. Can you say loner, misfit… ahh, serial killer?

GMR: Let’s step back. Why did you call me?
Terry: You had questions. I called. <Long pause>
GMR:  But you’ve yet to answer any questions.
Terry: I’m sorry you feel that way.

            Okay, a different approach…

GMR: What question should I ask to gain truth and understanding?
Terry: <Nods> Now you’re asking the right questions.
GMR: Thank you. <Again, long pause> You haven’t answered the question.
Terry: Haven’t I?
GMR: No, not at all.
Terry: I answered the question you were really asking.
GMR: Which was what?
Terry: <Head shake>
GMR: What can you openly tell me about Golden Woman?
Terry: She existed, she still exists, and you have to open the eyes of your mind to truly see her.

            That pretty much concluded the interview.

Learn more about Marilyn Ebbs at Marilyn Ebbs's Page.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Breaking into a Gallop (a.k.a. manipulating dialogue.)

I write a story. It has a great plot, complex characters, punchy dialogue, and a captivating setting and it puts my critique group to sleep. It plods. After they awaken, between the sounds of deep sighs and stifled yawns, I hear their comments, “it’s coming along,” or “keep up the good work,” or “interesting” (ha. Interesting. A euphemism for I’m trying to think of something positive to say). Red-flag words for “boring.”

No matter how well one writes or how engaging their characters and plot, if it plods, it fails to engage the reader, and leaves the writer wondering why.

The question becomes, I believe, how to write in a way that pulls the reader in and incites the reader to relate to the characters conflict and plot in such a way that she not only wants to finish the story, but is also satisfied with the read.

Part of my writing MFA program involves reading a variety of fiction and analyzing the various techniques writers have used to make their stories “work.” My initial reaction to this aspect of the program was why? And, so what? And what does that have to do with me? The answer is that reading good literature and studying what works and why, is a proven way of improving one’s own writing.

Sandy McDow is a new Editor to the Gold Man Team. Keep checking back for more from Sandy and the rest of the GMR team. Also, check out to learn more about Sandy McDow and the mission of GMR.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Self-publishing is not new. After several companies who made print-on-demand substantially cheaper, self-publishing has seen an increase in popularity since the 1990’s. In addition, the popularity of the Kindle, Nook, and iPad, has made eBooks more desirable and also decreased the price for a self-publisher to distribute his or her product. For the next several weeks, I will provide several important factors for readers interested in self-publishing.

Editing: With a little bit of willpower and forward thinking anyone can complete the tasks of a publishing company. Primarily, proper editing is fundamental to be taken seriously. This doesn’t mean having your mom read your work; she will not give you the critical aspects you will need to make your work perfect. Unfortunately, this service is not free. However, there are hundreds of companies and independent contractors who can provide the independent and unbiased opinion and editing of your work.

Critique groups: There are a number of critique groups in most towns and cities. Just show up with sections of your work and have the group edit your work for free. Most groups are free and open to the public.

Distribution and sales: Remember that the companies that will help you edit, print, and distribute your book will have their fees upfront, before you even sell your first copy. Unlike the traditional publishing company, that pays the costs upfront for you to later collect through book sales. You are paying to set up your own print distribution, which is surprisingly cheaper than would be expected.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Perspective of Distance by Sam Hall

I recently finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett, her best-selling novel about three women whose lives are intertwined on both sides of the racial divide during the 1960s. Perhaps you’ve seen the movie or read the book.

The author, who grew up in Jackson, MS tells us in an afterword that she wrote the story while living in New York. She said it was probably “easier than writing it in Mississippi, staring in the face of it all.” She said “the distance added perspective.”

Ms. Stockett’s departure from her home to better see the story was probably a good move. That idea made me reflect on the concepts of connection, of family, of belonging. I believe connection—to places and persons—is a universal need, almost as essential as the air we breathe. Without some kind of relationship, we lack the ability to understand and measure the worth of our efforts, our goals, or even ourselves. This is the talk of a country boy and that is what I am.

I’ve probably made 50 or more trips from my home in Oregon to go back to western Oklahoma to visit my family. Each time, my pulse quickens when I spread the strands of a barbed wire pasture fence and wiggle through to meander across the rolling prairie. Memories, compelling and almost sacred, stir at the call of a meadow lark. The smell of sagebrush tells me I belong there. I am at peace. I feel an immediate connection. Wordless, my brothers and I are bonded anew by our common appreciation for place—the place of wind and temperature extremes beneath the cloudless bowl of heaven.

As a writer, I gain perspective by having gone away and then returning.
There are many things that might stimulate human connection and sense of belonging. Certainly, family and friends are the most common sources for relationship. For you, it might be culture. One website I ran across appeals to Arizona retirees of Dutch ancestry.

Besides economic strata, worldview, a shared faith, similar positions on hot-button topics (think NRA or social issues), your elementary school or college, hobbies, and meshing personalities, which of the following might define the deepest connections of your protagonist—or even of yourself?

--shared hardships
--fighting for the same cause
--a shared history
--mutual accountability
--a common enemy
--a common savior
--mutual recognition of each other’s value to the other’s wellbeing
--relationship between rescuer and the rescued
--survivors of a collective oppression
--sharing the same roots
--shared secrets
--intellectual equality/challenge
--membership in an exclusive organization or social group
--mutual trust and/or admiration
--shared life objectives
--acceptance by a group
--steadfast support from writing group, neighbors, church or family
--you’ve sacrificed for one another
--or perhaps even been partners in a risky or illegal activity...

We are all different, yet so alike. Let us remove our masks and pause to look fully into one another’s souls.

Samuel Hall is an editor for Gold Man Review. To read more about Samuel Hall go to Samuel Hall's Page.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Golden Woman Sighted at Lancaster Mall

Last night a local security guard thought he heard the clicking of a woman’s heels while on his rounds.

“I mean I could hear my own shoes, yeah, but then there was this other sound…of shoes, heels. I was like, what?”

Rumors of a woman in heels walking the mall at night have circulated among the security staff since the mall first opened in 1971. When asked why this particular guard has decided to come forward he said he had to.

“I saw her. She came around the corner, by the theater, then turned toward Sears and the Burlington Coat Factory. At first I thought she just got done tanning—you know, her skin was all bronze, at first. But then she sort of turned her head back at me, taking these long strides with her golden heels on. Her clothes were all gold; her face; her hair. What the hell?”

When asked how this golden woman didn’t see him, the security guard (who wishes to remain nameless) said that he hid behind a kiosk. The woman vanished as the guard tried to take out his camera phone.

“Yeah, the other guard at the monitors didn’t see anything…just me couching behind some kiosk and fumbling with something. He got a kick out of it.”

The security guard further added that the mall cameras do not have audio.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Willamette Bubble by Mary-Gray Mahoney

Being at senior at Willamette University, I have a good grasp on something students call the “Willamette Bubble.” This is a strange phenomenon where we feel as though we are our own community entirely separate from Salem. We aren’t usually engaged with events within Salem, and tend to stick to a very small area around campus.

While this can lead to a bit of “cabin fever” for a lot of students, it also allows us to foster a great sense of student community. Like many colleges, we have a school newspaper, a literary journal, and there has been a movement this year towards starting a peer-reviewed academic journal. Being able to read my peers’ work constantly allows me to expand my own ways of thinking and shape my own writing. While it is not a formal critique group, immersing myself in the literary culture on campus is similar to meeting with a group of community members to discuss what we’re writing. I reflect on my peers’ news pieces and the creative work being produced.

The prospect of an academic journal becoming available for students is particularly exciting for me, since I do not write fiction or poetry. I focus my attention on academic analysis of literature, but am not offered many opportunities to actually publish and get my thoughts out there. Working for Gold Man Publishing has given me a head start towards getting this project started and being a major component in making a Willamette University peer reviewed journal a major part of campus life. There are many other students on campus who are not engaged in creative writing and the thought of having a forum for students to engage critically with one another is extremely exciting. Sometimes the literary life on campus can become focused on the same few people. Since this is a liberal arts school, this focus can be very limiting. By publishing an academic journal, more disciplines can be represented. For instance, I would have loved to take more Anthropology classes during my time at Willamette, but it was simply not possible. If I had been able to turn to a database of student work, I could have gained a huge knowledge of these subjects through my peer’s eyes. It is often easier to engage with material written by a peer than a person of higher academic standing or expertise. While these materials are indeed helpful, the peer engagement fosters the community within Willamette even further.

Though the development of an academic journal will not help the “Willamette Bubble,” it does allow students to expand their education beyond a specific discipline, which is truly the goal of a liberal arts education. Once students graduate, this sense of community may disappear, but students will leave Willamette with an idea of how to engage with a literary/academic community and foster the smaller journals like the Gold Man Review.

Mary-Gray Mahoney is an assistant editor for Gold Man Review. To read more about Mary-Gray go to

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The End of the (Publishing) World As We Know It by Darren Howard

A recent NY Times article, “The Bookstore’s Last Stand," sounded yet another alarm about the death of publishing. Apparently Barnes & Noble is the last hope of bookstores, and therefore of publishers and even of printed books. (January 29, 2012;

This is part of a larger trend I’ve seen that confuses the online
buying of books with the emergence of e-books. The one persuasive part
of the article mentions that publishers don’t need bookstores to sell
books, but rather to attract authors: “Without Barnes & Noble, the
publishers’ marketing proposition crumbles. The idea that publishers
can spot, mold and publicize new talent, then get someone to buy books
at prices that actually makes economic sense, suddenly seems a reach.
Marketing books via Twitter, and relying on reviews, advertising and
perhaps an appearance on the “Today” show doesn’t sound like a winning

But the model of Big Publishing was never really a winning plan. They
ended up primarily looking for just a few big mega-hits to promote,
and as time went on, the only authors they felt they could really rely
on were their existing authors. The only authors who could earn a
living from their work were those who had already written their best
works, regardless of the quality of their future work. Is that good
for anyone?

Clearly it’s not good for readers, and not for new writers, and at
last we are seeing why it was not even good for the publishers. Just
like the music industry, they have brought their destruction onto

The implications of this, however, are not that publishing, or books,
are dead. Only that the farce of big corporations controlling what
people read and write is coming to an end. With the rise of
high-quality, fast, and cheap printing, who needs a
publisher—especially a publisher who will take away the author’s say
in the cover, layout, and price of the book? With the co-ordination of
online-purchasing with print-on-demand distributors, who needs a
publisher—especially a publisher who inflates the price of a book to
pay for their bureacracy? With the increasing pressure on authors to
promote and market their own books, who needs a publisher?

Be your own publisher! That’s what we are doing here at Gold Man.
That’s what all these claims about the end of publishing don’t
understand. The change in publishing is not from print to electronic
media. That’s just a small, irrelevant part of it. The main change is
from corporate publishing to self-publishing.

So what does the future hold? My prediction is that for a while
longer, there will be this sense of chaos, uncertainty, wailing the
loss of the Old Way. But the next step is already beginning: the
emergence of printers, marketers, distributors, and even investors for
authors who are self-publishing. We are already seeing the rise of
printers who cater to authors, rather than corporations, like
Lightning Source. The other fields have yet to develop: Professional
marketers, distributors, and investors who cater specifically to
self-published authors. Just as with literary agents, there will
probably be different tiers available to different folks—those who are
good enough, or just connnected enough, will have access to the best
marketers and distributors.

As for the argument that publishers weeded out the bad books for us,
as a sort of filter of crappy writing, all I have to say is, look at
what the publishers have been publishing over the last ten years. How
much of it has struck you as particularly good? Sometimes
entertaining, yes, but really, deeply good? Personally, I can count
them on my fingers. How many books have you read lately that you can
read again several times, with pleasure each time, and each time
seeing something new? My guess is that most examples you can think of
were published a good long while ago.

So while yes, there are aspects of the old way that are nice
(scrolling through a book is very different from flipping through it),
but think of all the room you will have once you have gotten rid of
all those musty, dusty, heavy books (yes, Shteyngart, I know you have
already mocked this, but I know that you know that I know you were

Darren Howard is an editor for Gold Man Review. To read more about Darren go to

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

River Valley Writers Group

We all know how important a writing community is for the isolated writer and just because you don’t live in the Portland, Salem, and Eugene areas doesn’t mean there’s not a group right around the corner from you.

The River Valley Writers Group in Dayville, Oregon meets the first Friday of the month and provides that needed community of support and education to local writers. If you haven’t gotten involved in a writers group, the Gold Man Review editors can’t stress enough how important this is for the writing process. No matter how much research we do online and in reference books, there’s really nothing that replaces that sense of community, camaraderie, and support that can only be found among your fellow writers.

If you’re interested in getting involved with the River Valley Writers Group, check out their website at

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Need for Critique Groups by Marilyn Ebbs

I was twenty-something and had decided that writing needed to be more important than I was making it. I was taking some courses at Chemeketa, including Creative Writing. After class, one of my fellow classmates caught me and asked me if I would be interested in joining the critique group that she and several other writers were in.

I was honored.

All, but a total stranger tells she likes my writing and invites me to a critique group.

I accepted the offer. I had never let anyone read my writing before. A couple of family members who praised me, maybe, but not really. Not other writers. Not other people who would know whether I was wasting my time. But I was ready to take the first step in taking my own writing seriously. I went to the group. Everyone was older than I was by at least a decade, but they were nice and welcomed me. Then, I read my work, five pages, and waited for the comments.


"Great dialogue."

"I wish I could write dialogue like this."

At that time, it was exactly what I needed. Affirmation that I wasn’t spinning my wheels. I did have some measure of talent. And dialogue takes skill? Not everyone sits down at the writing desk and spews realistic dialogue? That was nice to know.

Of course, there was plenty to pick apart. My weakness? Details. The right details, enough details.

But this group was exactly what I needed to take my writing to the next level. And I needed fellow writers in my life. These women became my mentors, my friends.

Eventually, we drifted apart, went our separate ways. After my writing life had stagnated and I knew I needed something to help me start taking myself seriously again, Heather Cuthbertson and Willamette Writers came into my life. Heather and I started the Salem Chapter and a new critique group.

I took my five pages. Someone read my work. I didn’t get, “Wow.” I didn’t get, “I wish I could write great dialogue.” I got, “A lot of passive sentences.”

"I don't understand what's happening in this scene."

"Why should I care about these characters?"

Exactly what I needed to hear.

Sure, it bit. It hit a nerve. But, at this point, I already understood that I was a good writer. I didn’t need to be puffed up. I needed to know how to be a better writer. I needed to know why I was getting rejections like, “Great writing, but I just don’t have time to give it the attention it needs.”

So those writers, some younger, some older, became my mentors, my friends.

And, like with my first critique group, I became a better writer.

Marilyn Ebbs is the Executive Editor for Gold Man Review. To read more about Marilyn go to http://www.goldmanpublishing. com/nickroetto.html