Meet the Monterey Cypress: Ashland Tree of the Year 2004

By John Yunker,

During a break in the rain today we snuck outside and captured a few photos of Ashland’s Tree of the Year from 2004, the Monterey Cypress:

This tree has been around since the early 1900s and it appears close to outgrowing its yard.

Here is a closer view of the trunk:

You can see the full list of Ashland’s honorary trees here.

And here’s more information on the Monterey Cypress.

  Category: Ashland news
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Meet the Pacific Madrone: Ashland Tree of the Year 2006

By John Yunker,

Arbor Day may be still a few weeks away but here in Oregon we like to get things started early.

This week is officially Arbor Week — a uniquely Oregonian tradition.

In the spirit of the week, I present Ashland’s Tree of the Year from 2006 — the Pacific Madrone:

The tree lives at the center of Ashland’s Mountain View Cemetery (the subject of a future blog post).

I’ll pull back a bit so you can look up at the Madrone:

And here’s a final photo from the distance:

You can see the full list of Ashland’s Trees of the Year here.

Happy Arbor Week!

  Category: Ashland news, On nature
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Ashland’s Tree of the Year

By John Yunker,

There are many things to love about Ashland, Oregon.

Like the fact that every year, since 1988, the city honors a “Tree of the Year.”

Oregonians love their trees. In fact, did you know that Oregon has extended the traditional Arbor Day celebration into a week-long affair? Celebrated during the first week of April.

I’ve noticed that a few other cities also honor Trees of the Year, like Newport, Rhode Island and Austin, Texas. There’s even a European Tree of the Year. I don’t believe there is an “American Tree of the Year” competition yet, but there should be.

And Ashland would certainly field a competitive team.

Ashland is home to amazing assortment of native and imported trees — from the Ponderosa Pine to the Monkey Puzzle to the Giant Sequoia.

You can see the full list of Ashland’s Trees of the Year here.

In the weeks ahead we’ll be posting photos of these Ashland trees. It’s a great excuse to escape from our computers and spend a little time with the oldest living residents of Ashland.

  Category: On nature
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The new publishing paradigm

By John Yunker,

If you’re looking for an agent, a publisher, or just trying to make sense of the publishing business, I recommend following Jane Friedman’s blog.

She posted a guest article by the writer John Rember, who recently published with the upstart press Dream of Things. He provides great insights into the publishing model today and why it makes good sense for new writers to consider new publishers.

He writes:

And self-publishing is easier and cheaper than ever. The trouble is, you have to be your own marketing department and quality control. Traditional media won’t normally review self-published books unless you’ve become notorious or you somehow manage to sell a hundred thousand copies. Publishers Weekly does not look favorably upon books that haven’t come from their mainstream clients.

… I went looking for a university press, but then Dream of Things Publishing appeared on the scene, with a business model that is taking advantage of the opportunities left by the ongoing collapse of the old system.

Obviously, I’m biased in favor of us upstart publishers.

And, just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that a writer turn down a six-figure advance with a mainstream publisher in favor of an upstart. I certainly would have taken such a deal if it had been offered to me when my agent was shopping around The Tourist Trail.

But what I am suggesting is that authors who have had difficulty finding an agent or finding a mainstream publisher would be wise to consider submitting to a small press before self-publishing.  Self-publishing isn’t easy, and it can be expensive. You need an editor, designer, and marketer to help you craft and promote a book that would not look out of place in a Barnes & Noble. You also need readers and a way to reach them. If you have a few million Twitter followers, then by all means self-publish. But if you’re like most of us, more focused on writing than building a “platform,” self-publishing may not be the best approach.

A new publishing paradigm is emerging, one in which authors have more opportunities than ever before, which in turn means more decisions to make than ever before. In the old days, you got an agent and you got a publisher and that was pretty much it. Today, it can be more challenging to find an agent and even more challenging to get an offer from a major publisher. But the good news is that there are more options — and these may be better in the long run. If you find a small publisher with a niche focus, you probably won’t get an advance, but you will get a bigger chunk of royalties. Or, if you’ve got money, and/or the ability to write, design, edit, and market your book, you can go straight to Amazon and self-publish the book yourself.

I knew, when I didn’t find a mainstream home for The Tourist Trail, that I wanted to get it out into the world, even if I had to do it myself. And it turned out for the best — in researching the best possible homes for the book, I realized there was a need out there for a press devoted to books about animal protection, wildlife, the environment, and good stories about the people who are out there working hard to save endangered species and the natural world. And so not only did I publish my book but Ashland Creek Press was born.

And we are now taking submissions. If you’ve got a book that fits our mission, we’d love to see it. And if you’re just getting started on your eco-lit novel, memoir, travel guide, keep us in mind when you finish.

  Category: On publishing
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How to add a book excerpt to your web site using Amazon Kindle for the Web

By John Yunker,

Late last year, Amazon unveiled Kindle for the Web, a feature that allows authors and publishers to easily post book excerpts on their web sites.

Here’s what it looks like on my web site (you can click here to see it live):

By pasting a text string supplied by Amazon, I can give visitors a free sample of my book without them having to download anything.

Here’s a brief overview of how I did it:

First of all, you need to have BOTH a physical copy of your book on Amazon as well as a Kindle edition.

Next, look at the Amazon page of your physical book. You should see the following button on the right side of the page:

Click the “Read first chapter FREE” button and you’ll see your Kindle edition of your book. I’ve included an excerpt of my book below:

On the right side of this page is an “Embed” button. Select it and you’ll see this:

All you need to do to is copy and past the text string into a web page.

I had created a “Chapter One” web page that included only a header; below this I pasted the text string. I also adjusted the size so that the book would fit within my established page layout. You can add your Amazon Associate’s tag if you want to get a referral fee for everyone who purchases a book.