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.
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.
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 Chances, despite 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!
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.
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.
How are you?