Words & Pictures 2023
FVRLibraries' seventh annual festival of local authors and illustrators returns with a slate of in-person and virtual events featuring writers, poets, illustrators, and publishing industry experts at Cascade Park Community Library and online Saturday, November 4, from 10 am–4:30 pm. See below for a roster of authors and artists who will appear at this year's event.
Authors may have their books available for purchase during the event.
The full schedule of events
HYBRID: Joy in Writing
Author Reading and Panel
Hear new fiction from local authors and learn more about their process in this interactive panel session. Authors: Carolyn Rose & Michael Nettleton, Mollie Hunt, David Barbur, Stephanie Feldstein, and Carson Winter.
Youth Activity: Let's Go on a Story Adventure!
Join children's author Deb Cushman for an interactive story and coloring activity (best suited for ages 6-12).
Virtual Author Reading and Panel
Hear new fiction from local authors and learn more about their process in this interactive panel session. Authors: Karen Eisenbrey, Michael Overa, Liz Kellebrew, and Neil Cochrane. Join online via Zoom.
Youth Activity: Don't be a Party Pooper!
Join Gretchen McLellan, author of No Party Poopers!, for some animal antics. We’ll be donning masks for an interactive read-aloud, making paper bag puppets to discover new stories for main characters Grizz and Panda, and exploring animal stereotypes.
The First Line
We've all heard the adage that the first line of any story is important for hooking a reader. But as a writer, it's important to not get too hung up on crafting that first line to the detriment of the rest of the work! Join author Curtis Chen to participate in a group exercise to examine how and why a good opening matters, but isn't the end-all-be-all of your story. Join online via Zoom.
Youth Activity: Tell Your Story in Words or Pictures
How do we tell our own story? Author Sonja Thomas will share fun creative tools to inspire and guide kids to write their own “once upon a time” story or draw their self portrait. For children of all ages (kids under 12 must have a parent or caregiver present).
Virtual Poetry Reading
The Work Poetry Workshop
Christopher Luna will lead the group in a short timed writing exercise designed to help you generate a new poem.
Youth Activity: Song and Story Structure
In this interactive mini workshop, award-winning author and musician Brian Tashima shares tips on how to craft catchy tunes and captivating novels using examples from popular culture as well as his own works.
Ghazal: The Pinwheel Poem
Participants will learn the elements of the ghazal form, write a group ghazal, and have time to explore the form on their own. Tiel Aisha Ansari is a Sufi warrior poet. She hosts Wider Window Poetry on KBOO Community Radio. Join online via Zoom.
Take the stage and share what you've created with others, whether it's writing, poetry, or songs. Everyone is welcome. All content must be appropriate for all ages. Readings are limited to five minutes. Sign-up for the open mic begins at 2 pm at Cascade Park Community Library.
Virtual Open Mic
Take the stage and share what you've created with others, whether it's writing, poetry, or songs. Everyone is welcome. All content must be appropriate for all ages. Participants are limited to five minutes. Sign up for open mic using this form. Join online via Zoom.
Authors and Illustrators
Tiel Aisha Ansari
Sufi warrior poet Tiel Aisha Ansari has been featured in Measure, Windfall, and Everyman’s Library. Her collections include Knocking from Inside, High-Voltage Lines, Country Well-Known as an Old Nightmare’s Stable, The Day of My First Driving Lesson, and Dervish Lions. She hosts Wider Window Poetry on KBOO Community Radio.
Mohammad Bader is an Arab-American, Palestinian poet. He was born in East Jerusalem and much of his poetry reflects his experience as a first-generation immigrant. His book The Traveler was published in 2011 by Lulu Press. Although the book was mainly written in English, many of the poems were originally written in Arabic and then translated. Mohammad majored in English at Bethlehem University and later studied counseling at PSU. Much of Mohammad’s early poetry was lost. Mohammad hopes and dreams for peace and justice, specifically in Israel and Palestine.
David Barbur lives in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. He can often be found wandering the forest with a longbow in his hand, tracking animals and trying to figure out what happens next in his latest story.
Curtis C. Chen
Once a Silicon Valley software engineer, Curtis C. Chen (陳致宇) now writes stories and runs puzzle games near Portland, Oregon. He's the author of the KANGAROO series of funny science fiction spy thrillers and has written for the Realm originals Echo Park, Ninth Step Murders, and Machina. Curtis' short fiction has appeared in Playboy Magazine, Aliens vs. Predators: Ultimate Prey, Daily Science Fiction, and elsewhere. His homebrew cat feeding robot was displayed in the "Worlds Beyond Here" exhibit at Seattle's Wing Luke Museum.
Neil Cochrane is a queer, trans author and artist living and working in Portland, Oregon, on land belonging to the Cowlitz people, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, the Clackamas people, and Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. He writes speculative fiction that centers queer characters overcoming obstacles and building families. He has worked in and around the publishing industry since 2012, in such various roles as editor, literary agent assistant, marketing director, and bookseller. He is represented by Michaela Whatnall of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.
Deb Cushman is the author of adventure tales for children and teens. Her short stories have been featured in children's magazines, and her middle grade fantasy novel, Frigg's Journey to Anasgar, is the first book of an exciting new series, Chronicles of Nadavir. Living in the PNW provides ample inspiration for fantasy settings. She loves imagining what it would be like to encounter a faery, travel to Narnia, and fight orcs in Middle Earth, so long as she doesn’t have to leave her living room.
Genevieve DeGuzman is a poet and writer of speculative fiction. As a poet, she has won the Atticus Review contest, was a finalist for the Michelle Boisseau Prize selected by Traci Brimhall, and earned several Best New Poets nominations. She has been a recipient of fellowships and grants from Oregon Arts Commission, Literary Arts, Vermont Studio Center, among others. In 2022, she was named an Oregon Literary Fellow. Her work appears in numerous journals and anthologies and has been featured in the Poetry Moves project for C-TRAN.
Karen Eisenbrey (she/her) lives in Seattle, WA, where she leads a quiet, orderly life and invents stories to make up for it. Karen writes fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as short fiction and the occasional poem or song if it insists. Published books include the Daughter of Magic fantasy trilogy: Daughter of Magic; Wizard Girl; and Death’s Midwife, and the St. Rage garage-rock/superhero series: The Gospel According to St. Rage; Barbara and the Rage Brigade; and Far from Normal (co-written with LeeAnn McLennan). Karen shares her life with her husband, two young adult sons, and four feline ghosts.
William Erickson is a living poet. His work appears in Sixth Finch, Heavy Feather, Sprung Formal, West Branch, and elsewhere. William is a 2023 Best New Poet nominee, his most recent chapbook is Sandbox (Bottlecap Press), and his debut collection is forthcoming with April Gloaming in 2024. He lives in Washington with his partner and their two dogs in an old house across the street from a large tree.
Stephanie Feldstein is the author of adult and children’s nonfiction books about animals, the environment, and how to make the world a better place. Her writing has appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post, Sierra Magazine, and numerous other outlets. When she’s not catering to the whims of her rescued dogs and cats, she can be found working on her next novel.
Cat Writer Mollie Hunt is the award-winning author of two cozy series, the Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries and the Tenth Life Mysteries. Her Cat Seasons Sci-Fantasy Tetralogy features extraordinary cats saving the world. Mollie also released a cat-themed COVID memoir. In her spare time, she pens a bit of cat poetry as well. Mollie is a member of the Oregon Writers’ Colony, Sisters in Crime, the Cat Writers’ Association, Willamette Writers, and Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA). She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and a varying number of cats.
Jessica E. Johnson is the author of the book-length poem Metabolics, the chapbook In Absolutes We Seek Each Other, and the forthcoming memoir Mettlework: A Mining Daughter on Making Home. She lives in Portland, where she teaches at Portland Community College and cohosts the Constellation Reading Series.
Liz Kellebrew is the author of Water Signs (2022) and The River People (forthcoming in 2025 from Unsolicited Press). Her essays, poems, and short stories have been published in journals such as About Place, Catamaran, and The Conium Review, and she received The Miracle Monocle Award for Innovative Writing. She is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest.
Jessie Kwak has always lived in imaginary lands, from Arrakis and Ankh-Morpork to Earthsea, Tatooine, and now Portland, Oregon. As a writer, she sends readers on their own journeys to immersive worlds filled with fascinating characters, gunfights, explosions, and dinner parties. When she’s not raving about her latest favorite sci-fi series to her friends, she can be found sewing, mountain biking, or out exploring new worlds both at home and abroad.
Caitlin Like is a cartoonist from Portland, Oregon. She makes comics about fancy dresses, egregious floral motifs, occasional horror, and even more occasional face-punching. She is currently a member of Helioscope Studios in Portland, Oregon. Caitlin is represented by Laurel Symonds of ktLiterary and her middle-grade dark fantasy graphic novel, The Hundredth Voice, debuted Fall 2023.
Christopher Luna is a poet, editor, teacher, writing coach, and artist who served as the inaugural poet laureate of Clark County, Washington from 2013–2017. Luna is the cofounder, with Toni Lumbrazo Luna, of Printed Matter Vancouver, an editing service and small press for Northwest writers. He and Morgan Paige cohost the LGBTQ+-friendly, all-ages, and uncensored Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic, founded by Christopher in 2004. Christopher’s books include Voracity, Exchanging Wisdom: A Guide for Parents of the Autonomous (with Angelo Luna), and Message from the Vessel in a Dream.
Blissfully retired in Clackamas, Oregon, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing, and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 175 journals throughout North America, Australia, and the U.K. Since the only poem she wrote in high school was red-penciled "extremely maudlin," Carolyn is amazed she has continued to write. Currently, she serves as book review editor of the Oregon Poetry Association.
Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan is a former elementary reading specialist who devotes herself to writing for children and visiting schools and libraries. She is the author of Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3 (Grace Zong, ill.), I’m Done! (Catherine Lazar Odell, ill.), Button and Bundle (Gillian Flint, ill.), No Party Poopers! (Lucy Semple, ill)., and When Your Daddy’s a Soldier (EG Keller, ill.). She writes chapter books and middle-grade fiction as well. Gretchen grew up as a global nomad, and lived on three continents. She settled in Camas, WA where she lives with her husband, dog, stunt squirrels, nomadic neighborhood chickens, and celebrates when her children and grandchildren come home.
Gwendolyn Morgan is a Northwest poet and artist who learned the names of birds and wildflowers and inherited paintbrushes and wooden paint boxes from her grandmothers. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, and an M.Div. from the Graduate Theological Union. Flight Feathers, her fourth book of poetry, found its filoplumes at Centrum Artist Residency following her service as Clark County Poet Laureate, Washington 2018–2020, and is a Nautilus Gold Winner in Lyric Prose. She has poems in Dawn Songs: A Birdwatcher’s Field Guide to the Poetics of Migration, a 2023 anthology edited by Jamie K. Reaser and J. Drew Lanham.
Retired after 40-plus years toiling behind a hot microphone in the radio industry, Michael Nettleton has worked part-time as a mentor and tutor to high school students, a substitute librarian, and a volunteer marketing maven. He sings, acts in community theater, plunks the baritone ukulele, and scrawls doggerel about the news of the day. From time to time he plops down in front of the computer and writes a new book. From the holy crab cake of Deception at Devil’s Harbor (and its prequel, Death at Devil’s Harbor) to the aged flower child of The Hard Karma Shuffle (and its sequel, The Crushed Velvet Miasma), to the egomaniacal troll of the YA book The Drum Warrior, he’s co-created a series of memorable characters and situations. His solo hardboiled mystery, The Shotgun Kiss, and the joint short story collection, Sucker Punches, round out his resume.
Michael Overa was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. An erstwhile bartender, he completed his MFA at Hollins University as a teaching fellow. After returning to Seattle, Michael worked as a writer in residence with Seattle's Writers In the Schools (WITS) program for five years. A former Jack Straw Writers Fellow, Michael is the director of the Honors College at Shoreline Community College, where he also teaches composition. He is the author of two short story collections, This Endless Road and The Filled In Spaces, published by Unsolicited Press.
David J.S. Pickering is a native Oregonian, having grown up and lived much of his life in the working-class culture of the North Oregon Coast. His first collection, Jesus Comes to Me as Judy Garland, received the 2020 Airlie Prize. His poetry is published (or forthcoming) in a variety of journals, including Tar River Poetry, Mantis, Fireweed, Lips, Reed Magazine, Raven Chronicles, and Gertrude Journal. David lives with his husband in Hillsboro, Oregon.
Robin is a picture book author/illustrator and kid lit comic creator from the Pacific Northwest who loves ghosts, goblins, rodents, robots, and really long titles (like No One Returns from the Enchanted Forest)!
Carolyn J. Rose
Carolyn J. Rose is the author of the Subbing isn’t for Sissies series, featuring a sleuthing substitute teacher and her entitled dog. She’s also penned the Catskill Mountains Mystery trilogy, and published a number of other mysteries, some co-written with Mike Nettleton. She grew up in the Catskills, emerged from the university with a degree and a tan, and served two years with Volunteers in Service to America. Following a 25-year career as a TV news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor, she went back to high school as a substitute teacher. Now retired, her interests are writing, reading, swimming, walking, gardening, and NOT cooking.
Shelly Swann is a first generation Filipino-American illustrator obsessed with color and finding magic in the mundane. Outside of her art studio, Shelly enjoys playing guitar and sharing her love of music with her family and friends. Shelly currently resides in Portland, Oregon.
Brian Tashima is an author, musician, screenwriter, blogger, podcaster, and filmmaker from Vancouver, Washington. The first book in his Joel Suzuki series of young adult novels was a finalist for a USA Best Book Award for Fantasy Fiction, and his manga-style comic book series Glorified was an Indie Volt Comic Book Award nominee for Best Writer and Best Ongoing Series. In addition, he is a former winner of a Hoku Award (Hawaii’s version of the Grammys) for Rock Album of the Year, and he currently serves on the board of directors of Autism Empowerment, a Vancouver-based nonprofit.
Sonja Thomas (she/her) writes stories for kids of all ages, often featuring brave, everyday girls doing extraordinary things. Raised in Central Florida—home of Disney, humidity, and hurricanes—and a Washington, DC transplant for 11 years (Go Nats!), she's now “keeping it weird” in the Pacific Northwest. She's a contributing author for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic. Her debut middle grade novel, Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence, released in March 2022.
Armin Tolentino serves as poet laureate for Clark County. He's the author of the poetry collection We Meant to Bring It Home Alive and he believes that reading and writing are the simplest, and yet most transformative, practices anyone can add to their lives. To attend one of his free, generative writing workshops, please visit his website.
Carson Winter is an award-winning author, punker, and raw nerve. His fiction has been featured in Apex, Vastarien, and Tales to Terrify. “The Guts of Myth” was published in volume one of Dread Stone Press’ Split Scream series. His novella, Soft Targets, is out now from Tenebrous Press. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.