Now that Ashland Creek Press is over a year old, we’re starting to get out and about to show off our books — and we were happy to have made an appearance at the Wordstock Festival in Portland this year. We enjoyed meeting new readers as well as talking with fellow authors and publishing colleagues…it’s always a joy to be surrounded by people who simply adore books.
Among the most entertaining parts of hanging out in our booth was seeing children glimpse our old Underwood portable, which we’d brought along to keep our typewriter notecards company. The very young children (under six years old) and even a few older kids (eight to ten) looked at this typewriter as if they were gazing upon a T. rex. Most of them had no idea what it was or what it did, and we and/or their parents had to explain that this used to be how people wrote books, and also letters (the quaint idea of letters, of course, requiring a whole other explanation…). They looked at the typewriter in wonder and disbelief…which was fun but also made us feel pretty old.
I especially enjoyed being at Wordstock to see a few friends and to attend their wonderful readings: Maria Semple read from her new book Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and Donna Miscolta (below, with Kim Faye) read both fiction and nonfiction: excerpts from an amazing essay about her multicultural family and a passage from her novel When the de la Cruz Family Danced. (For more notes on the weekend of Wordstock — and other great writerly things — visit Donna’s blog.)
I also enjoyed sitting in on a couple of panels, including The Art of the Ending with Natalie Serber, Brian Doyle, and Jon Raymond, moderated by Lee Montgomery. I always love hearing how authors come to the endings of their works, and Lee Montgomery got things going by asking panelists to talk about how they approach endings as well as to read a favorite example or two. Natalie Serber, author of the short story collection, Shout Her Lovely Name, said she is most interested in “the sloppiness of life” when it comes to endings — “endings that honor mysteries and mess.” She read the ending of James Baldwin’s story “Sonny’s Blues” one of her favorite endings.
Brian Doyle, editor of the University of Portland’s Portland Magazine and author of the novel Mink River, cautions that often its the penultimate paragraph rather than the last one that is the true ending (this, I find when I’m writing nonfiction, is almost always true for me). “Sometimes you end by stepping sideways,” he said, meaning taking a step to the side and leaving the ending open, leaving a “sonic absence” at the end of a piece. He shared a few Chekhov endings as among his favorites.
Screenwriter and novelist Jon Raymond mentioned the importance of getting the story as a whole to come together as something that’s as vital to a good ending; he agreed with Natalie about art reflecting the messiness of life but said he also likes endings that are “shaped the way life often isn’t shaped.” He shared endings from Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
In all, it was a great weekend — especially getting the chance to visit with Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan of the wonderful organization Our Hen House, at Blossoming Lotus. (Note to anyone looking for great food/wine/beer/cocktails in Portland: Blossoming Lotus is now among my restaurants ever, in no small part because it has an excellent happy hour.)
Yesterday was the first annual (yes, there are plans for next year!) Ashland Book and Author Festival, sponsored by Southern Oregon University’s Friends of Hannon Library and SMART. We were happy to be there as both authors and publishers, and especially to meet so many other readers, writers, and publishers.
The festival took place on three floors of SOU’s Hannon Library, with author readings and presentations in alcoves on each floor every fifteen minutes. I had the opportunity to chat about Everyday Writing and to read from Forgetting English, as well as to drop in to hear other presentations. The fifteen-minute format was short but very sweet — and it was great so have so much going on: fiction on one floor, nonfiction on another, and poetry on yet another.
We enjoyed chatting with our festival neighbors at Krill Press and Wellstone Press, and I also participated in a publisher’s panel, along with Molly Tinsley of Fuze Publishing, Tod Davies of Exterminating Angel Press, and Stephen Sendar of White Cloud Press. It was great to hear about the marvelous things these amazing indie presses are up to, as well as talk with participants about everything from queries to distribution to the future of publishing (which, we all agreed, is anyone’s guess at this point!).
It was exciting to hear our own Cher Fischer read and talk about her eco-mystery Falling Into Green at the Writing Killer Fiction panel later that afternoon, led by Tim Wohlforth and including crime writers Michael Niemann, Clive Rosengren, and Bobby Arellano.
And, of course, we loved celebrating Typewriter Day with other fans of the written word…
Already looking forward to next year!
Typewriter Day…who knew?
I didn’t know either, until last year when I discovered the blog The Typosphere, that June 23 is Typewriter Day — the anniversary of the granting of the U.S. patent to Christopher Latham Sholes in 1868.
Just in time for Typewriter Day comes this article in Salon about the renaissance of the typewriter — and, of course, The Typosphere is a wonderful resource for all things typewriter-related (we particularly liked this piece about typewriter fashions).
And of course, we’re a little sentimental about typewriters ourselves — from our vintage typewriter notecards to our public service announcement to Save the Typewriters.
On behalf of Ashland Creek Press, we wish you a very happy Typewriter Day. And for all you typewriter fans out there, be sure to visit The Typosphere to share the love and find some ideas for how to spend Typewriter Day 2012.
From an interview with novelist Javier Marías on why he still writes by typewriter:
I just like writing on paper, taking out the sheet, correcting it by hand, crossing things out, making arrows, typing it over again, and doing so as many times as I have to. I’m not in a hurry, I don’t have to “gain time” when I’m writing. To the contrary: in part, I write in order to lose time.
via The Typosphere
A little more than a year ago, we officially founded Ashland Creek Press. We began by publishing my own book, The Tourist Trail, then realized we’d like to see a lot more out there just like it — books that focus on a changing planet and how we as humans can play a positive role. I already knew, since my excellent agent hadn’t been able to sell The Tourist Trail, that other authors were likely struggling as well — and so we figured that it would be as good a time as any to help them get their books out into the world, too.
We’re thrilled at the quality of submissions we’ve been receiving and especially with the books we’ve been fortunate enough to publish — from a YA vampire series with an environmental twist to a literary novel set in the vast deserts of northeast Africa to the mystery genre’s first eco-mystery. While we remain focused on books with a world view, we’ve also begun reaching out to writers, with Midge’s new book Everyday Writing and with our popular vintage typewriter notecards.
And we’re just getting started: We’ve got an amazing lineup of forthcoming titles to round out 2012 (including a nonfiction baseball book from our imprint Byte Level Books), and 2013 is shaping up nicely as well.
We’re grateful to all the authors and readers who have made this first year possible. (And if you’d like to stay up-to-date, don’t forget to join our mailing list.)