Category: News from Ashland Creek Press


A Q&A with Earth Joy Writing author Cassie Premo Steele

By Midge Raymond,

A Q&A with Earth Joy Writing author Cassie Premo Steele

Q: What is Earth Joy Writing?

A: It is a way of interacting with the natural world that brings about empowerment, healing, and personal change. Nature has always been a source of comfort, inspiration, and wisdom for me. I wanted to be able to share that—teach that—to others.

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Q: How the book come into being?

A: I started writing Earth Joy Writing in 2008 while teaching classes in ecopoetry and ecofeminism at the University of South Carolina’s Green Quad for Sustainable Futures. I continued working on it over the next few years and presenting workshops with exercises from the book to various groups, including more than a year’s worth of monthly workshops at Saluda Shoals Park in South Carolina. The book is very much a balance of theory and practice, tested in university and community settings, and accessible to a wide audience.

One of the best experiences I had while writing the book was being in Short Hills Mall in New Jersey, and a saleswoman asked me how I liked living in South Carolina. I responded, “I like it a lot. We have nature there.” She looked around, thinking, and then said, “Oh, yes, we used to have that store here, but it closed.”

I think we are feeling an increasing anxiety about the natural world, and we’re not sure what to do about it. We listen to news reports, and we can feel helpless. I wrote this book to help with our fears. I truly believe that when we begin to see nature not as a “thing” that can be bought and sold but as a living being in relationship with us, we begin to heal not only the Earth, but ourselves.

Q: How would you describe the book to readers and aspiring writers? 

A: Earth Joy Writing is a new version of The Artist’s Way for the green generation. In the years since the hugely successful Artist’s Way hit the market, three important changes have occurred. First, our lives are much more interconnected on a daily basis through the Internet and social marketing networks. Second, we are highly aware of the grave dangers our environment faces. Third, we can sense a surge in a collective desire for community. This book addresses all these needs for readers—to live a harmonious and balanced life despite the vast changes happening around them, and to connect with others and the earth in meaningfully creative ways.

It is a hopeful book. It is practical. It has been tested. It leads to healing. It is not just for writers or naturalists. It is for the person who wants to live life more meaningfully.

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Fiction for Vegans

By John Yunker,

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If you’re a vegan (like us) you might find yourself frustrated at times with the current crop of “must read” novels.

Most contemporary novels make certain assumptions about contemporary life, such as what a “normal” family meal looks like, or how a “typical” vegan character should act.

For example, vegan characters are more often than not portrayed as combative, defensive, preachy or downright dangerous.

And I get it.

I’m well aware of this period of time I live in. If you want to write for the masses you’re correct in thinking that the masses are not vegetarians, let along vegans. And that normal for the masses is not normal for me.

I do get it.

But what books are vegans supposed to curl up with at night?

That’s where Ashland Creek Press fits in.

To be honest, we want books that appeal not just to vegans but to everyone. Books that are compelling, complex, and, at times, challenging.

Here’s what we offer so far, with more to come…

Among Animals: Among Animals is a collection of short stories by 15 different authors, each of which explores the human/animal relationship. This is an amazing and challenging collection.

The Green and the Red: This is quite simply a great romantic comedy. It’s a quick read that covers an expansive terrain of issues. And because it’s set in France, it’s a fascinating view of a culture that I know very little of.

The Dragon Keeper: This novel concerns a vegetarian zookeeper and the Komodo dragon in her charge. It’s both a romance and an insightful analysis of zoos and their roles as both exploiters and protectors of endangered species.

Out of BreathThe Ghost Runner, The Last Mile: Books 1, 2, and 3 of The Lithia Trilogy, this young adult series features a vegan protagonist who in search of a place to call home. And it features no other than “vegan” vampires. Yes, even vampires have the power to evolve.

Falling into Green: An eco-thriller featuring a vegan protagonist who just happens to have a crush on a carnivore TV news reporter.

The Tourist Trail: I’m plugging my own novel here, which features vegan characters who are both mainstream and heroic (and inspired by real-world animal rights activists).

I now know many people and families who live perfectly normal — and vegan — lives. What we need now are more writers to help redefine normal, or at the very least portray contemporary life as it really is.

 

Announcing the 2015 Sisikiyou Prize

By Midge Raymond,

We are thrilled to announce that the second annual Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature is now open for submissions!

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Last year we had a great turnout, and we hope this year is even better. (To learn about last year’s winner and finalists, click here.) It’s wonderful to see so many fine writers tackling the issues of the environment and animal protection through great stories, novels, memoirs, and essays.

This year, we’re delighted to have Ann Pancake as our final judge. (If you haven’t read her amazing novel, Strange As This Weather Has Been, about mountaintop removal mining, get yourself a copy right now; this gorgeous, important novel is among the best of contemporary environmental literature.)

The 2015 prize winner will receive $1,000, a four-week residency at PLAYA, and an offer of publication from Ashland Creek Press. Visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details and to submit.

Also, please note that we will be closing for regular submissions as of March 15 in order to focus on prize submissions — so if you’d like to submit a non-prize entry, feel free to do so before the Ides of March. (Regular submissions will open again after the prize closes.)

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We look forward to reading your work!

 

Among Animals: An anthology that’s just getting started

By John Yunker,

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When we put out a call for submissions for our first planned anthology, Among Animals, we didn’t know what to expect. We had a vision for the types of stories we wanted, but we weren’t sure if there were enough writers out there who shared this vision.

Fortunately, we found many writers interested in exploring the human-animal connection. And we are very proud of the finished product.

We then wondered if there was an audience of readers who shared this vision? After all, we weren’t trying to sell a cute little collection of animal stories. This is, for many, a challenging collection to read. The stories deal with uncomfortable and, at times, very painful topics.

But now, a year later, I’m happy to say that Among Animals has indeed resonated with readers. The reviews alone have been very gratifying, and they continue to appear, in major publications such as Booklist to literary journals like The Chattahoochee Review.

Among the most recent reviews is this one from The Goose: A Journal of Arts, Environment, and Culture in Canada:

Among Animals is as provocative as it is urgent, and as accessible as it is emotional. This collection will be useful to animal studies specialists, posthumanist scholars, and ecocritics alike, as it attests to the multifarious systems within which humans co-exist with non-human others. The collection will serve readers with professed interests in the identity and subject formation of any social “other,” who is systematically and institutionally overlooked and undervalued, for the discourse that surrounds “the question of the animal” is by no means limited to the effects of a humanistic hierarchy on animals alone. And finally, beyond Among Animals’ tremendous theoretical and philosophical promise, the stories herein will leave an indelible impression on a compassionate readership that questions and challenges humans’ particularly privileged subject position in order to engender a more ethical framework for living not as entities separated from the world, but as sensitive and reciprocal elements of an inherently valuable, shared environment.”

And this from Sabotage Reviews:

“All of the stories were written with the laudable goal of legitimizing the need for recognition (and application) of the rights of animals in our interactions with them…This anthology reiterates [the human-animal] connection over and over again, in a myriad of ways, expanding that connection from the realm of pets, through domesticated livestock, until it encompasses all of the things that we call ‘nature,’ revealing (in a way that is wholly free from the saccharine flavor of sentiment) that we are and always have been part of the web of the world.”

And The Chattahoochee Review wrote:

“The sixteen talented writers who have produced Among Animals have produced more artistic possibilities than limitations in the tone and mood … very fine literary fiction.”

So, what next?

It’s time to begin looking forward to the next edition.

We recently opened the submission window and we welcome your stories.

But, before you do submit, please take a look the current anthology to get a feel for what we’re looking for. Click here to see where you can find the book — or, ask your local library to purchase a copy.

 

Announcing the 2014 Siskiyou Prize winner and finalists!

By Midge Raymond,

We are delighted to announce that New York Times bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler has chosen Mary Heather Noble’s memoir PLUMES: ON CONTAMINATION OF HOME AND HABITAT as the winner of the 2014 Siskiyou Prize.

We are also delighted to announce the prize finalists: Amy Hassinger for her novel AFTER THE DAM and Julie Christine Johnson for her novel THE CROWS OF BEARA.

Of PLUMES, judge Karen Joy Fowler writes: “I was impressed from the first page with both the beautiful writing and careful intelligence of PLUMES. This book takes on one of our most troubling issues, the increasing toxicity of our polluted world, to create a narrative that is both personal and universal. PLUMES neither minimizes the complexities of these issues nor overstates its conclusions, but leaves the reader with much to think about. An exceptional book.”

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About the winner: Mary Heather Noble is an environmental scientist and writer whose work is inspired by environmental health issues, the natural world, family, and place. Her essays have been honored with first prize in Creative Nonfiction’s The Human Face of Sustainability Contest, and second prize in the 2012 Literal Latté Essay Awards. Her writing has also appeared or is forthcoming in About Place Journal, Fourth Genre, High Desert Journal, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Minerva Rising, Pithead Chapel, and Utne Reader.

Noble is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing Program with the University of Southern Maine. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from The Ohio State University, and a master’s degree in environmental science from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She spent six years working in the technical environmental sector before leaving the field to pursue creative writing. Noble currently lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband and two daughters.

We hope you join us in celebrating the environmentally themed work of these fine writers!

We’d also like to extend a very special thanks to all of the writers who entered the contest … your support makes this prize possible.

Please stay tuned for updates on next year’s Siskiyou Prize, which is open to unpublished, full-length prose manuscripts, including novels, memoirs, short story collections, and essay collections. The winner will receive a cash award of $1,000, a residency at PLAYA, and an offer of publication by Ashland Creek Press. For more information, visit the Siskiyou Prize website.