Category: News from Ashland Creek Press

Submissions for Among Animals will close December 15

By John Yunker,

I’m pleased to say that we’re on the home stretch toward choosing stories for the next edition of Among Animals.

To give you a preview of what’s to come, we’ve got stories that feature cats and dogs and chickens and fish. And a mule. A kangaroo. A sea bear. A polar bear.

And, of course, humans.

We’re still looking for a few more great stories and are setting a deadline of December 15th. So if you’ve got something you think might fit, please send it today! And please feel free to check out our first edition, which will tell you what the anthology is all about.

And thanks to everyone who shared their work with us. We appreciate the opportunity to read your submissions.


I Am Stuffed: Vegan dining at Café Gratitude

By Midge Raymond,

It’s been years since I’ve been to Café Gratitude, the last time in Berkeley, California, and so when visiting San Diego recently, I was thrilled to learn that this small, plant-based chain has opened a new restaurant in San Diego’s Little Italy.


This brand-new Café Gratitude opened just a couple of weeks before I visited, and it was packed. Yet already things were running smoothly; we were seated quickly, the service was great, and the food was delicious.

For anyone who doesn’t know about Café Gratitude, it’s a bit of a quirky experience. The menu items are affirmations (for example, if you want an eggplant parmesan panini, you order it by saying, “I Am Awesome”). This San Diego location is pretty mellow about this; in Berkeley, we were asked, “What are you grateful for today?” as soon as we were seated, and when I ordered a dish called “I Am Whole,” the server said to me with great joy, “You are whole.” Here in San Diego, the server just took our order and went on his way … so they’ve localized well for this customer base.

We began with “I Am Celebrating,” an order of two collard-wrapped spring rolls filled with daikon and wakame, carrots, sunflower sprouts, avocado, pickled vegetables. The rolls were spectacularly flavorful and came with two sauces, sesame wasabi and Thai almond, which added even more flavor.


We both had wraps as entrees … I was “Glorious” and enjoyed the caesar salad tempeh wrap, which featured blackened jerk tempeh, avocado, romaine, coconut bacon, tomato, capers, brazil nut parmesan, and cashew caesar dressing, all wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. On the side was  mixed greens with goji chipotle vinaigrette.


My friend was “Extraordinary,” and said her meal was the same: a vegan BLT wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, with coconut bacon, romaine, tomato, avocado, chipotle cashew aioli, and a lovely wild rice summer bean salad on the side.


There is also a long list of beverages, from wines, beers, and cocktails to juices, elixirs, and smoothies. My friend tried the “I Am Immortal” coffee (a blend of three mushroom powders along with coffee, steamed almond milk, and cinnamon) — warm, earthy, and delicious. I had the vitamin-C shot otherwise known as “I Am Beaming,” a tangy and invigorating blend of orange juice, carrot juice, goji berry, camu camu, astragalus, acerola berry, and amla berry, served in a very tiny glass.


We were too stuffed for dessert but didn’t want to miss out, so we picked a few items to go. Among them: “I Am Mighty,” a superfood energy bar made of hemp, flax, sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds; almonds; goji berries; coconut butter; and cacao nibs. Half dipped in raw chocolate, it’s so decadent I’m glad it’s called a “superfood,” which makes me feel a little better about gobbling it.


I also took home “I Am Kind,” a rice/quinoa crispy treat drizzled with raw chocolate.


It’s equally decadent, and not at all fluffy like many crispy rice treats.

I’d highly recommend this light, airy cafe for its fresh, delicious food and abundant choices. Based on its early popularity — as well as our chat with fellow diners who work in the neighborhood and are on a mission to try everything on the menu — reservations might be a good idea. And while this location may not have quite the same vibe as Berkeley, you’ll still likely be grateful for having been here.


Save the date: Ashland Book & Author Festival

By Midge Raymond,

Save the date, readers & writers!

The Ashland Book & Author Festival will take place at Southern Oregon University’s fabulous Hannon Library on Saturday, October 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Events include readings, workshops, panels, a book fair, children’s events — and raffles and drawings to win great prizes (i.e., books!).

Among the highlights…
At 11 a.m…
The SOU Women’s Resource Center and Alma Rosa Alvarez, Amanda Singh Bans, Marianne Golding, and Precious Yamaguchi present The Worlds of Women, a panel discussion exploring women’s narratives from multicultural perspectives.

Tod Davies presents Truths of Imagination: The Importance of Story.

The Southern Oregon Literary Alliance will make its debut appearance in the Rogue Valley literary scene. In this presentation, SOLA members will introduce the organization, take questions and suggestions from the community, and invite participation in a raffle to win books from local publishers.
At 11:30 a.m…

I’m presenting Writing About Place: A Journey for Readers & Writers, featuring readings and writing tips for turning journeys into compelling stories.

Evan Morgan Williams presents Publishing Your Story Collection with a Small Press, his strategy and tactics for winning a small-press book prize.


At 12:30 p.m….
Molly Tinsley presents Behind the Waterfall/Behind the Scenes, a reading from her debut middle-grade novel featuring twins, along with a talk about its crafting in consultation with twins.

The panel discussion Killer Crime includes Carol Beers, Sharon Dean, Michael Niemann, Clive Rosengren, and Tim Wohlforth.


At 1 p.m….

John Yunker presents Environmental Activism in Fiction — a reading from his novel The Tourist Trail, with a question-and -nswer session about environmental fiction in the age of climate change.

Ed Battistella presents Sorry About That, a short reading and question-and-answer session on Sorry About That: The Language of Public Apology, and a preview of new material in the paperback edition.


At 2 p.m….
Local indie publishers present Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Publishing But Were Afraid To Ask (So Ask!). Speakers include Tod Davies, Midge Raymond, Molly Tinsley, and John Yunker. Moderated by Ed Battistella.

Michael Niemann presents Legitimate Business, a short reading and a discussion of gun smuggling.


Check out the full schedule for more event listings — and don’t forget to stop by to see us at the Southern Oregon Literary Alliance booth!

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Blue Bloods: A guest post by Jean Ryan

By Midge Raymond,


Today’s post is courtesy of Survival Skills author Jean Ryan, whose blog you can find on her website. Enjoy!

Blue Bloods

The blood of a horseshoe crab is blue, a translucent baby blue that looks as precious as it is. The blood contains a mechanism, LAL, that detects pathogens and clots around them; pharmaceutical companies use this substance to screen the drugs they sell. LAL is introduced to the drug, and if the clotting action takes place, technicians know the lot is not pure. On the world market, a quart of horseshoe crab blood is worth an estimated $15,000, leading to annual revenues of $50 million. Each year 250,000 crabs are hauled up from the depths, strapped to steel counters, pierced with thick needles and steadily bled.

Incredibly, most survive the ordeal. The LAL industry reports that the mortality rate is 3%, while independent studies reveal higher numbers: 10 to 30%. Technicians first wash the sand and debris from the creatures, then check for injuries or signs of illness. Those that make the cut lose one third of their blood, which takes about an hour. Within three days these crabs are back in the water, released in areas beyond the harvest zones. Their blood volume rebounds in a week, while their blood cell counts take months to recover. Horseshoe crabs are bled repeatedly, though only once a year according to LAL manufacturers. The impact of the procedure on their behavior and breeding cycles is not clear. We can safely assume it does them no good.

Armored against time, horseshoe crabs have been around for 450 million years and are related not to crabs but to scorpions and spiders. Despite the constant threat of infection by any number of marine-borne fungi, viruses and bacteria, these creatures have survived in great numbers, the LAL in their bodies clearly outstripping the white blood cells we rely on.

Horseshoe crabs have ten walking legs and a total of nine eyes scattered throughout the body, along with several light receptors near the tail. Their bodies are composed of three parts: the head, which includes the brain, mouth, heart and nervous system; the spiny abdomen, which houses the legs and gills; and the sharp but harmless tail. They molt several times, starting out the size of peas and growing up to two feet long—the females are larger than the males. Maximum growth is reached in ten years, with life spans topping out at 20 years. The crabs spend most of their time crawling on the bottom of bays, feeding on worms and mollusks. They swim upside-down.

The mating ritual of the horseshoe crab is another astonishing feature. At high tide in late spring, on the new and full moons, horseshoe crabs travel from deep ocean waters to the beaches they were born on. The male crabs arrive first, and when the females come to shore, the males grasp onto them and together they head to the high tide mark. On the way, the females dig several small nests in the sand and deposit eggs, tens of thousands of them, which the males, dragging behind the females, fertilize. These eggs are a tasty treats for birds, reptiles and fish, and most horseshoe crabs will not even make it to the larval stage before being eaten.

Between habitat loss in coastal Japan and over-harvesting on the Eastern Seaboard, horseshoe crab populations have fallen sharply in recent years. We no longer get insulin from the pancreases of pigs and cattle, and research is underway to create a synthetic version of LAL. With our scientific know-how, our startling medical advances, how far away could we be from a crab-free product? Considering the time and expense involved in harvesting, prepping and bleeding horseshoe crabs, the savings would be tremendous. The benefit to the crabs of course would be incalculable.

Some argue that horseshoe crab bleeding is a sustainable practice and that these creatures have proven themselves hardy. Even if this were the case, and I have my doubts, shouldn’t we want to spare them the trauma?

Along with intellect, humans were given compassion, the capacity for decency. Our brains might solve our problems, but our hearts can save the world.

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Vegan dining at Veggie Grill

By Midge Raymond,

One of the best things about traveling is trying out new vegan places…or, in this case, returning to an old favorite.

We tend to get the same things every time we visit Veggie Grill, but these dishes are so delicious (and we don’t get there very often), so we had, again, the same wonderful dishes.

The Santa Fe Crispy Chickin‘ with Yukon Gold fries is nothing short of amazing. Veggie Grill’s chickin’ (a wonderful meat-free patty with 31 grams of vegan protein) is crisp and hearty … and it’s served on a wheat bun (you could also choose a wrap or bread-free kale version) with tomato, lettuce, onion, and a scoop of fresh and flavorful guacamole, as well as spicy mayo. (Healthier people might choose the coleslaw or soup as a side, but the Yukon fries are terrific — perfectly crisped and seasoned.)


Onward to another favorite — I love the “Pick a Pair” option on the menu because I can never decide between Mac-n-Cheese and Savory Kale Caesar salad…so I get both.


This lovely Caesar has savory dressing and vegan parmesan. In addition to the romaine, it also has marinated kale, bits of tempeh bacon, avocado, cucumber, and croutons. It’s everything you could want in a salad.

But let’s talk about the Mac-n-Cheese.


This Mac-n-Cheese is one of the biggest treats, as it’s hard to find good vegan versions of this comfort-food dish. This one is rich, creamy, and covered with baked bread crumbs (and it’s made with organic, non-GMO pasta). On the menu, this dish appears in the “Shares & Sides” category, since it comes in a small dish (this is its only problem) — so be sure you don’t miss it.

If you haven’t been to a Veggie Grill, give this plant-based chain a try — and if you don’t yet have one nearby, keep an eye out for locations that may be opening near you.