Sunday, May 01, 2016

Jennifer Lauck - Studio Director/Instructor

Jennifer Lauck - Director

I created The Blackbird Studio for Writers after 30 years of studying with teachers like Tom Spanbauer (Dangerous Writers), and Diana Abu Jaber (PSU), and in the literary programs of PSU, Montana State University and Pacific Lutheran University.  I have a BA in journalism and a MFA in Creative Writing.  I've taught for more than fifteen years, in private workshops, at seminars and conferences like AWP, for Portland Literary Arts in the Schools program, and as a Sr. Fellow at The Attic Institute.

Now I have launched my own program.

The name Blackbird comes from my first book, and from the Beatles song that tells us to: Take these broken wings and learn how to fly.  That's what we do at this school.  We take you as you are, and teach you how to get your story into the world.

Personally, I'm a consummate student.  I love to learn.  And, I love to learn with people who are open, inquisitive, proactive and focused.  I detest the snobbism in the literary world and created this space to be the opposite.  The Studio is welcoming, comfortable and empowering.

As I prefer immersion work (this is writing, after all, and writing is a difficult art form), I offer three 30 week long classes called Studio I, Studio II and Studio III.  Each studio is for a different level and experience of writer.  Studio I is entry level, Studio III is the most advanced.  I also consult, long term, with four writers a year, and see a handful of writers for individual consults as I'm available.  If you are interested in any of the classes or services I offer, please click on the links below, read more. Finally, send me a note.  Let's see if we can get you going at The Studio!

Studio I, Sept. 13 - May 20, 2016-2017, Tues. 11:30-2:30

Studio II, Sept. 15 - May 20, 2016-2017, Thurs. 11:30-2:30

Studio III, Sept. 15 - May 20, 2016-2017, Thurs. 6:00-9:00

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cloie Cohen - Studio Manager

Cloie Cohen - Administration/Consulting

I've been blessed to have Cloie on my team for almost a decade now.  She's been with me as a student, creating her terrific memoir, and also helping me coordinate special events.  She is kind, but also direct in her style of feedback and support.  

At The Studio, she is the administrator of The Urban Retreat, and Studio III.  She also co-manages workshops, and manages communications between students.  Cloie has a degree from PSU and works as the Community Coordinator at Childpeace Montessori, where she's been on staff since 1998.  

As a consult on your writing project, Cloie offers on point and practical feedback.  She gives terrific, positive advice on how you can grow your work to the next level.  With Cloie, you feel heard and supported.  She is compassionate, and knowledgable.  

Contact me for details on how to work with Cloie.  Or contact her directly:

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Jennifer Foreman - Poet in Residence

Jennifer Foreman - Poet in Residence

I came across Jenn Foreman at a workshop in the spring of 2015.  Right away, I was dazzled by her authentic, and transparent way of being and creating.  She is one of those fearless writers who inspires fearlessness in people around her.  She graduated from Texas Woman's University with a degree in social work, and has been published in The Sun, Timberline Review, and Voice Catcher.  Right now she's at work on a memoir and a collection of grief poems.  

After inviting Jenn to teach a one day workshop at The Studio, I was blown away by her compassion, knowledge, and bawdy good humor.  She is a rare gem.   

To study with Jenn is a memorable and life changing experience.  She holds space for her students to be vulnerable and honest.  She teaches poetry at the most practical, accessible way I've ever seen too! Join her for workshops this fall. 

Poetry Studio A - Monday nights, 5:30-7:30, Sept. 19 - Oct. 10
Poetry Studio B - Monday nights, 5:30-7:30, Oct. 17 - Nov. 14

Jenn's always available for consults on poetry and prose.  For details, contact me at

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Hope Edelman - Visiting Teacher

Hope Edelman - Visiting Instructor

Hope has been a personal friend for twenty years. She was one of the first writers who agreed to blurb my first book and this was a huge moment as I respected the Hope's work so much. Since that time, I've been lucky to teach for her and with her.  Now it's my great joy to offer her a space in The Studio.  

Hope joins us for a three day workshop The Story Beneath the Story in June.  In this workshop, writers will learn how to differentiate the action from meaning within their story and how to bring that meaning to the reader.  

To study with Hope is an incredible experience.  She's a wonderful, kind, compassionate teacher who is also so knowledgable about form.  

7 spots left

Hope has published seven nonfiction books, including the bestsellers Motherless Daughters, Motherless Mothers, and The Possibility of Everything. Her articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Real Simple, Glamour, Self, Parade,, Writer's Digest, and the Huffington Post, as well as in numerous anthologies.  In 2012, she was inducted into the Medill Hall of Achievement at Northwestern University, her undergraduate alma mater, and in 2014 she was named an Alumni Fellow at the University of Iowa, where she attended graduate school. Hope has taught at Antioch University-LA, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Ohio State University, Northwestern University, and the University of Iowa, and leads workshops every July at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. 

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Holly Lorincz - Visiting Teacher

Holly Lorincz - Visiting Presenter

I met Holly a couple years back when she was a young agent and new editor.  I was so impressed by her poise and focus.  I invited her to teach to a group of students I was working with and found she was generous, open and kind.  Honest and ambitious too.  

She's presenting again at The Blackbird Studio on June 4th to talk about preparing your writing for agent and editor review.  She'll spend the day teaching us about the publishing market at this time and the best way to launch yourself into the market.  

Holly professional editor and owner of Lorincz Literary Services. She works with debut and bestselling authors, publishing houses, and the MacGregor Literary Agency, where she agented for three years. Holly's also an author, ghost writing a range of books, from memoirs to novels to prison survival handbooks, and is the published author of her own, hilarious novel, Smart Mouth.  

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Bones of Storytelling

You are such an amazing teacher. I am experienced and published, but when I came home I immediately started revising my novel. First chapter? Gone. Plot points? There. Heroine taking charge? You bet. You worked your ass off...we writers sure appreciate it. ~ Sue Lick

This class is the result of my study five year of the bones of story.  You will learn: concept, theme, plot, structure, character, antagonistic forces, and setting.  You will learn how to organize your own story, fiction or non-fiction, in a way that the reader (and publisher) expects.  You will get examples, handouts, and tools that you can use, right away, to develop your own project. You will walk away with a solid, and clear plan for writing your first draft and for approaching your second!

DATE:  May 20-22
COST:   $385*
*Zip-Reader and WW Discount ($25). Email Jclauck for details.
TIMES:  6-9 Friday, 10-4 Sat & Sun.
PLACE:  Blackbird Studio for Writers, NE Sandy and 40th.

Everyone who takes this class loves it.  Three spots left.  Click here to sign up.

Advance Curriculum:

Fri:       Concept, & Theme

Handouts: TBA

Sat:        Plot and Structure


Sun:       Character, antagonistic forces, Setting



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Monday, April 04, 2016

The Story Beneath the Story

I'm delighted to host Hope Edelman at The Blackbird Studio for Writers.

June 10-12!

Hope will teach one of her favorite workshops, a three day intensive titled The Story Beneath the Story.  Hope is a kind, smart, inspiriting teacher with a devoted following at 
the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, in L.A, where she lives and raises her two daughters and around the world even. She has written seven books in her lovely career, and is published in The New York Times, and major magazines.

This workshop will be three days, starting on Friday night.

Friday 6-9
Sat & Sun 10-4

The location is my Blackbird Studio for Writers, in the heart of the Hollywood District in Portland. My space is beautiful, cozy, elegant and comfortable.  We are close to restaurants, grocery stores and hotels.

You cannot miss an opportunity to study with Hope.  The cost is $450.00 and we are accepting 15 writers.  Sign up quick for this terrific teaching.  Write me, at for more information.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tuesday Spring Craft Studio - Mar 15-May 17

"This is such a safe environment to grow and learn, thank you," ~ Cheryl

This page is for students in Tuesday Spring Craft Studio. We begin March 15th at 11:30 a.m.  Virtual Option.

Class Detail:  You will read aloud several times to get a deep connection to the storyteller's voice within, we will immerse in a terrific novel titled I'll Give You the Sun, in order to carefully dissect each aspect of craft and structure.  You'll leave knowing how to tear a book apart in order to see the inner workings of process, a technique that will serve you for all your writing life.

While this class is full, I will accept four observers.  This is a great option for those who are really not ready to read aloud.  Contact me, put OBSERVER in the subject box, and let's see if you qualify.  

Required Text:  
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Story by Robert McKee 

Tell it Slant by Brenda Miller. 

NOTE:  If you must miss class, please let me know in advance (3 days), so I can try to switch your reading spot.  If I am unable to get a switch, or you don't give me enough advance notice, you surrender your spot with my apologies.

Class 1: Mar. 15

Pre-reading:  Feedback (emailed)
Intros, hellos, process of class, discussion of text.
Required Text:  Story, I'll Give You the Sun, Tell it Slant

Workshop Readers: Joseph, Myrna, Joe, Janice

This is a 1250 words total. Double spaced, 12 point font, New Times Roman with one inch margins.  Bring 13 copies please.  

Class 2: Mar. 22

Pre-readingI'll Give You the Sun - Scene Discussion/Progression

Workshop Readers:  Susan, Ellie, Cathryn

This is a 1250 word submission.  Double spaced, 12 point font, New Times Roman with one inch margins. Bring 13 copies please.

Homework: 1)  Go through first chapter and see all times the writer used the items from the scene recipe card.  2)  Read the three paragraph debrief of the action on pg. 6 & 7, see how that is reflection on the previous action.  3) Read chapter two with an eye on progressions we discussed in class, and also look for refection on chap. 1, and reflections within the scene.  There are two scenes, FYI, at the dining table and then when Jude and Noah are in living room while parents argue.

Class 3: Mar. 29

Pre-reading I'll Give You the Sun - Scene Progression  
Workshop Readers: John, Erica, Linda, Steven
This is a 1250 word submission.  Double spaced, 12 point font, New Times Roman with one inch margins. Bring 13 copies please.

Homework:  Read pg. 7-14, scene at dinner table and find, 1) Noah's primary desire and the outcome of the progression, 2) Mom's primary desire within her story about Grandma Sweetwine and the outcome of that progression, 3) the action/reflection within the progressions as characters are introduced, 4) the use of the scene recipe card ingredients in the scene (both at table and in mother's description of Grandma Sweetwine appearance).  EXTRA CREDIT:  5)  Read forward to next scene (Noah and Jude on sofa and see how it debriefs outcome of 1 & 2, while also carrying forward aspects of scene one).

Class 4: Apr. 5
Pre-reading: Progression Cont. 

Workshop Readers: Joseph, Myrna, Joe, Janice

This is a 1250 word submission.  Double spaced, 12 point font, New Times Roman with one inch margins.  Bring 13 copies please. 

Homework:  Read 14-17 ONLY for reflections on actions in the previous scenes.  Read 24-31 for progression on Jude.  1) What is her yearning, 2) how does this progress in scene, 3) is she successful or not.

Class 5: Apr. 12
Pre-reading: I'll Give You the Sun - Scene Progression/reflection

Workshop Readers: Laura, Susan, Ellie, Cathryn
This is a 1250 word submission.  Double spaced, 12 point font, New Times Roman with one inch margins. Bring 13 copies please.

Class 6:  Apr. 19

Pre-reading: I'll Give You the Sun - Character I - Scene Progression/reflection

Homework:  Re-read Jude's opening scene and see the characterization (will, capacities, empathy) around her as she moves through the scene (action), read the next scene with Sandy and identify the progression and the outcome.

Workshop Readers:  John, Erica, Linda, Steven

This is a 1250 word submission.  Double spaced, 12 point font, New Times Roman with one inch margins. Bring 13 copies please.

Audio Link:  Click here (expires May 3)  (SUSAN:  You were missed!!)

Class 7: Apr. 26
Pre-reading I'll Give You the Sun - Character II 

HOMEWORK:  Go through this book and pick ONE character (NOT NOAH/JUDE):  Mom, dad, Guillermo, Brian, Courtney, Oscar, the parrot, Zephyr and then go through the book and mark every single time that person appears in the story, and how they are characterized (described).   Use sticky note to flag these people in the story.

Workshop Readers: Joseph, Myrna, Joe, Janice
This is a 1250 word submission.  Double spaced, 12 point font, New Times Roman with one inch margins.  Bring 13 copies please. 

Audio Link:  One
Audio Link:  Two  (Expires May 10)

Class 8: May 3
Pre-reading: I'll Give You the Sun - Structure I

HOMEWORK:  Study Brian.  Mark, with a sticky note, every time he appears in the story.  Underline or highlight his characterization.  Find his character arc/roll in story in relation to Noah/Jude

Workshop Readers: Laura, Susan, Ellie, Cathryn
This is a 1250 word submission.  Double spaced, 12 point font, New Times Roman with one inch margins. Bring 13 copies please. 

Class 9: May 10
Pre-reading: I'll Give you the Sun - Structure II

Workshop Readers: John, Erica, Linda, Steven
This is a 1250 word submission.  Double spaced, 12 point font, New Times Roman with one inch margins. Bring 13 copies please.

Class 10: May 17
Pre-reading: I'll Give You the Sun - Character Arc:  Noah/Jude

Everyone brings three copies of workshop material: This is a 1250 word submission.  Double spaced, 12 point font, New Times Roman with one inch margins. 


Reference texts and videos:  
Cultivations of Kindness Meditation (for self acceptance): Click here
Keep it Short by Danny Heitman (Click on link)
Debra Gwartney on Memoir  (click on link) 
Philip Lopate on Writing Personal Essays  (click on link)
Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker
Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
Screenwriters Problem Solver by Syd Fields
Story by Robert McKee

Book Suggestions:

Live Through This by Debra Qwartney
Crazy for the Storm by Norm Olestead
Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith 
SUGGESTED PROGRAM:  Scrivener (free download for 30 days). 

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What I'm Reading

2015/16 Reading List 

Last academic year I posted my reading list.  You can find 2014 by clicking here.  This is my list for this academic year.  I post as I go.  

  1. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  2. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (3rd time)
  4. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson (audio)
  5. The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent 
  6. The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman
  7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2 times)
  8. The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Nest by Steig Larsson (audio)
  9. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
  10. The Girl in the Spiders Web by David Lagerkrantz (audio)
  11. The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
  12. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
  13. The Year of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
  14. The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante
  15. The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante
  16. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson  (3 times)
  17. Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante
  18. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  19. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
  20. Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  21. The Crossing's by Cormac McCarthy
  22. Cities of the Plains by Cormac McCarthy
  23. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
  24. Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
  25. Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe
  26. Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
  27. Olive Kittridge by Elizabeth Strout
  28. Amy & Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
  29. Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout
  30. The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
  31. The Narrow Door by Paul Lisicky 
  32. The Railway Man by Eric Lomax
  33. An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
  34. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  35. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullars (reading)
  36. Sutree by Cormac McCarthy (reading)
  37. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
What are you reading?  

Leave a comment, share your thoughts on why you loved (or detested) a book. 

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Saturday, January 02, 2016

Do You Read? Edit? Consult?

Developmental Evaluations:  You've finished your manuscript and need a sharp, strong reader to take in the larger picture.  With 30 years of storytelling behind me, I think outside the normal constructs, and can see what you are trying to create by this kind of read.  I will read your entire project, looking at the whole of it, and create a response for you to help in your revision and re-structure.  We have a one hour meeting too, in order to talk through your project. You will leave inspired with new possibilities for your redraft. 

Consults:  This is for the writer who needs some individual insight.  You submit pages.  5000 word max (double spaced).  I read, make light edits and we talk through some of the issues I see in the work.  I provide handouts, teaching, advice, and homework!  $125.00 per consult with a minimum of a three session commitment.  

Email me to get started at

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