A Little of This, a Little of That

Back in January, I was asked to speak at Literary Arts about what winning a 2014 Oregon Literary Fellowship means to me, as publisher of Forest Avenue Press.

Here’s what I said:

Two years ago, I founded a small press to publish and promote Oregon writers. The decision to become a publisher felt a bit brash, like calling myself a superhero. But I did it anyway, because I wanted to support local talent, I wanted to create a new outlet for literary fiction, and I’ve always secretly wanted a shiny cape.

Forest Avenue Press publishes quiet books for a noisy world. We’re small but vital. We’re fiercely regional, but we strive for national recognition. And we’re so grateful to Literary Arts for endowing us with our first official superpower: a fellowship.

This gift strengthens our efforts to reach readers and writers outside Portland. This gift validates the work our authors, editors, illustrators, designers, and readers have put into supporting our titles. This gift is way more practical than a shiny cape. Publishing is a tough business with tight margins. Having a $2,500 check arrive felt like relief.

So far we have released a homegrown anthology, Brave on the Page: Oregon Writers on Craft and the Creative Life, and Stevan Allred’s acclaimed linked short story collection,A Simplified Map of the Real World.

We have two debut novels forthcoming this year, by Dan Berne and Kate Gray, but the bulk of this financial gift will benefit our Oregon short story anthology, The Night, and the Rain, and the River, edited by Liz Prato and slated for a May release to coincide with National Short Story Month. We are overjoyed to share this Oregon Literary Fellowship superpower with those twenty-two authors and their communities.

Thank you, Literary Arts, and congrats to all the winners and finalists. It’s an honor to stand here beside you.

I delivered the cape line to Ursula K. Le Guin, a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards this year, and she smiled–what a thrill.

The Oregon Book Awards ceremony, where my press will be recognized, is coming up on Monday, March 17–and I probably won’t be wearing green. My husband is attending, but I made him buy his own ticket, so I could give my second free one to my graphic designer, Gigi Little, who is responsible for our beautiful covers and logo. I am excited to celebrate all the finalists–and hear who the winners are.

Gigi’s husband, the visual artist Stephen O’Donnell, is being featured tonight in conversation at the Portland Art Museum with filmmaker Brian Lindstrom.

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I have some new Seven Questions interviews coming up in the next few months, including with Cari Luna, author of The Revolution of Every Day, which is so smart and brilliant that I’ve procrastinated for weeks in trying to actually write something worthy of it. But I have done so now, so stay tuned.

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Cari Luna blurbed Rachael Herron’s new gorgeous literary novel, Pack Up the Moon, which I just finished reading. You’ll hear from Rachael as part of the Seven Questions series, likely sometime this spring. I devoured her book and can’t wait to introduce you to it, likely in April.

Rachael Herron blurbed Dan Berne’s debut, the one I just published, The Gods of Second Chancesdespite her crazy busy schedule, and she’ll be featuring Dan on her website sometime after her next round of deadlines!

Now I’m starting to read Pirate Vishnu, the second novel in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery series by Gigi Pandian, who visited my Women in Portland Publishing Group and totally inspired us all with her publishing success stories. I don’t usually read mysteries but am totally taken with Gigi’s voice, her sharp and witty protagonist Jaya, and the sense of humor that carries readers through a smashing, action-packed plot. I read Artifact, the first in the series, really fast, and by happenstance, won a copy of Pirate Vishnu and a beautiful Indian wall hanging by being on Gigi’s newsletter list.

And to bring us full circle, Gigi thanks Rachael Herron, among others, in her acknowledgments, and Gigi and Rachael are reading together tonight, Thursday, March 13, along with Sophie Littlefield, at 7 p.m. at Read Books in Danville, California. So if you’re near Danville and can attend, please tell them I say hello!

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And to continue the writer-circle talk, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, a college friend of mine, who is also friends with Cari Luna, will appear as part of the Seven Questions Series this spring to honor the release of her third novel, Bittersweet.

Miranda is featured in the current issue of Poets & Writers in the article about making an authorly comeback; she’s the one with the darling socks and the big smile on the first page of the piece. I’m so happy for her and the attention she’s getting. You can see this video clip of her at the Poets & Writers website if you don’t have a copy of the magazine lying around.

Miranda and her publicist are blogging regularly about the work they’ve been doing to launch Bittersweet in May. It’s well worth exploring the archives to learn what it takes to get a book off the ground, and all the wonderful ideas they’re pursuing.

I read, and adored both of Miranda’s first two novels, and I can’t wait to read Bittersweet, which recently received this starred review from Kirkus.

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I blogged about needing to get my writing momentum back in order to teach a momentum class in February. The class was canceled, then reshaped for March, without my publisher side of things, which worked out great, because I have a lot on my plate right now. But in any case, thinking about momentum got me writing again. I’m working on a new novel, a sequel to my fanciful nineteenth century epic that I’ve been writing for the past four years, and it feels good. To be working.

I know I’m deep into plotting territory because I put “madness” on the grocery list by accident.

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How are you?

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
This entry was posted in Books, Community, Fiction and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Little of This, a Little of That

  1. You go Portland girl !!! You are doing the bravest work and one that will resonate throughout the country. As we all know you live in Book Central, we also know your work will foster the best of the best :) Congrats on the recognition. Coming from a not-for-profit background, I know how much those dollars help to help others !!

    • Oh thank you, Florence! It’s huge to receive some funding, and be able to share the gift with the Oregon writers we publish. I love doing this. And was so honored to be asked to give a speech in front of such an illustrious crowd. A definite highlight of my career!

  2. Hi Laura,
    It’s great to hear from you and know that you are keeping very busy doing good things!

    • Thanks, Naomi! All is well, but busy. I miss visiting your blog, and hope to slow down the pace in 2015 so I can have a little more time to read and enjoy life. It seems like every single minute is focused on some important task, whether it’s family or press related!

  3. Judy Fleagle says:

    Congrats! You and Forest Avenue Press definitely deserve this award. I can relate to your thrill of getting back to your own writing. Nothing like it! Better than any high as far as I’m concerned. I’m always impressed with how you juggle all the facets of your life.

    • Thanks Judy! And yes, it feels really good to be writing again, even if I only get to steal a few minutes here and there. I’ve been so focused on other authors–and of course taking care of the kiddos–that setting a little sacred time aside has felt really rich and important. I’m already looking forward to a weeklong summer writing retreat where I’ll be Internet free and just present with my own pages.

  4. What a great thing to get that award. My father’s company was always kept going on a week-by-week basis (it was always a struggle to make payroll, though he always managed it), so I know how much it means to get some unexpected funds. All the things that you had in mind but thought you wouldn’t be able to afford, but now you can.

    Also I have to mention that “Pirate Vishnu” is a great title for a book (maybe because it reminds me of Lord of Light — one of my favorite books growing up).

  5. jmmcdowell says:

    It’s so good to hear the good news continuing to come in for you! Since I’m not getting here until the 17th, I hope you have a wonderful event tonight!

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