Monday, November 29, 2010

"Uncommon Magic" Cover Ideas

Some serious, grown-up covers:

"Colour," I screamed. "I want colour!"

And then I said, "I like mustard." And I got mustard.

Thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Too many projects!

What started as one publishing project has grown into THREE.

1) Uncommon Magic: Thirty Years of Writing from the Ban Righ Writers Group.

We have a snazzy title, borrowing heavily from Bronwen Wallace's Common Magic, we have all our submissions, and a whack of contracts have been sent out to the writers involved. Darryl has some fantastic ideas for covers (that I can't wait to see) and I am gearing up to ask a very special someone to write a foreword (but she doesn't know it yet!).

2) Writing Lessons.

Last spring, Peter Darbyshire and I were Facebooking about his clever blog series in the Toronto Star. Overexcited and overcommiting (as per usual), I pitched Peter the idea of reproducing the series as a cool little chapbook. I was thrilled when he said yes. That contract is signed and Darryl has another to-do item on his list.

3) Lessons Learned.

A couple of years ago, a colleague and I pitched an idea to no one in particular, but we liked it and decided to run with it. We collected stories from college teachers about moments in teaching--moments that they don't tell you about in training and orientation--that make all the difference.We don't have enough material for a full-fledged book, so it, too, will be a chapbook. A student (who happens to also be a graphic designer) will do the cover and layout, and it will be launched in time for the orientation of new college teachers this spring.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Letting others do the work

It has been a challenge to let some things pass into the control of others while I spend my time being controlled by Oona.

One important project I had to release my vise-grip on was another UpStart Press publishing project, the ongoing student-driven If I Knew Then...St Lawrence College Students Interview Business Professionals. What started out as a way for me to prove to my students how important and valuable their work was has turned into a college-funded, annually published textbook, required reading for first-year business students. I have always had a student volunteer to act as project manager to help make it happen, but this year, I applied for and received funding to hire a project manager to not only organize submissions, the editorial board, book launch, and so on, but to act as editor. I handed everything over to her. And walked away.

Last night, I left Oona with friends for the evening for the first time so Darryl and I could go out "on a date," and leaving the book with a new editor/project manager sort of felt the same.

This week, the files for the book cover and layout landed in my mailbox. About six weeks ahead of schedule. Which is also about four months earlier than I ever managed to get everything ready.

It looks awesome.

The interior is even better.

Not only has Ashley managed to get everything done on time (actually early) and with almost no information or guidance from me, she has done it without breaking a sweat and has also created a manual for future editors and project managers.

She graduates this spring and, through the grapevine, I have heard that she already has multiple job offers. Whoever gets her is very, very lucky.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Just a bunch of kooky kids

An interpretation, by current writing group member Leah Murray, of the writing group and its members. (Click to enlarge.)

It's pretty accurate, except that I suggested Leah glue macaroni AND glitter to her work. I was thinking of a multi-media experience.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What if you throw a party and no one shows up?

Or how about if you send out a call for submissions and no one answers?

Work for the anthology has been on the back burner lately, while I struggle valiantly with my Master's thesis and my now five-month-old daughter, Oona. One of these two things is delightful; the other is a great big drag that I wish was over.

For those of you who eat this stuff up, here's a taste of the little delight in my life:

And for those of you who either know what it feels like to write a thesis or for those of you who are thinking about starting one, here's a little something my husband (the other half of UpStart Press) whipped up one day to cheer me:

At least it gave my thesis advisor a chuckle.

With a mid-April deadline for submissions, there hasn't been much for me to do but wait. So I have been waiting, pushing down my "no one will come to my party" fears as much as possible. Imagine my delight when the submissions started trickling in last week. As did the casual inquiries ("When was that deadline again?") and earnest promises to "get something in soon."

I bumped into Elizabeth Greene downtown today. She was toting home an enormous and heavy-looking bag full of books, contest entries, and she had an afternoon of reading and sore arms ahead of her. She promised to get something in to me "soon" and asked how things were going. I told her my only lament so far was that I wasn't able to find Judith Pond. Google, Facebook and all email inquiries had led nowhere. "Leave it with me," said Elizabeth. Two hours later I was reading a very enthusiastic email from Judith herself. Elizabeth Greene is the bomb.

The deadline for submissions is April 15, and my fears are fading away. It's going to be a great party!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Inspired by Persistence

This week, I will be sending out the call for submissions to all current and former Ban Righ Writing Group members. (That is, all the current members and all the former members that I can find! I am open to suggestions of former members that I may have missed.) I emailed a few former members before the holidays and all responded with support and enthusiasm, but I realize that there be some confusion as to what, exactly, UpStart Press is looking for.

So here is my attempt to explain it.

Like most projects, this one started as a flash of inspiration. I was walking through the cafeteria at work one day last winter and I felt, as I often do, pretty happy about my situation. I am one of those lucky souls who loves her job and her employer and I am very cheerfully and annoyingly proud to be a part of St Lawrence College and want to do everything I can to let it know how much I love it. (Let me temper this by letting you know I have worked for a few organizations I would happily watch burn to the ground and I spent nine months working for someone that would make Miranda Priestly look like an amateur. Perhaps some of my love for the college is in reaction to all the years I had to wait for something so good.)

Here's Miranda:

Coincidentally, I was also looking forward to my writing group meeting that evening--the group that gave me confidence in my writing, the motivation to get it published, and an introduction to my husband (and the other half of UpStart Press).

From there, things snowballed. You see, this writing group began as a creative writing course, taught by Bronwen Wallace, at St Lawrence College. It has lasted longer than any writing group I've heard of (most of my friends and acquaintances lament that their group only lasted a few months). It has spawned an impressive list of published and award-winning writers (as you will see when the book comes out).

This group is a testament to St Lawrence College and all it does for its community (and beyond), to the legacy of Bronwen Wallace as a mentor and teacher, to the generosity of all writers to each other, and to one of the finest qualities a person can have, persistence.

So, to all current and former members of the Ban Righ Writing Group, I ask you:

What has the Ban Righ Writing Group given you? Can you find some writing that represents that?

And if none of this makes any sense to you (or just need more to go on), please comment here or reply to my call for submissions and ask!