Tag Archives: Indie

An Interview with a Tree Fairy

Thursday brought some morning clouds, making a trip to Andulka Park (5201 Chicago Avenue, Riverside 92507) for an AM romp a no-brainer.  This marks the first time since the end of Spring I pulled a long sleeve shirt out for E.M. She loved the bright graphics and rough texture of the thermal top – I loved the fact that I could keep the sunscreen in the trunk.  But we hauled the sand toys because this park has some of the largest sand boxes in Riverside.

Now, some may dispute this fact and point to other parks. Others may play word police and claim they are actually volley ball courts. On weekday mornings, when they are crawling with amateur archeologists and future explorers, a functionalist like me says, “If it looks like a [sandbox] and it acts like a [sandbox]…”

And the tree fairy I spoke to would agree. He (yes, they can be guys – Santa may be the most famous fairy alive today) goes by Paul when he is with his granddaughter.  Here is why the parks are wonderful and should always be funded, maintained, and used often.  It’s the connections they create.  And lessons taught.

Before Paul made his true face known, I learned that he worked at Riverside City College (just like me) and he retired in June (just like I want to do!) and he’s not sure he is doing retirement right (I question myself to distraction). He likes Reagan more than I do but we both agreed the mental health issues behind much of the homeless problem in our parks stems from those mental health facility closures that started under his “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” approach to social services.

An old Gen-X and a young Boomer caring for the girls that will grow to save the world we have made for them.  And when we made Andulka Park, we had little more than dirt and space.  The City of Trees was devoid of shade.  The city planted them but the tree fairy made sure they grew tall and strong.

The Tree Fairy traversed the expanse of the park soon after it was finished.  He hand fertilized every single tree. Because he knew they would need the extra support. It was his way of doing his share and supporting a resource vital to the well-being of any city, and every single park in every city.

Now, fairies are odd creatures.  They typically know a good deal about a lot of things, yet they become known for just one or two key traits – few people realize that the Tooth Fairy can get your car started in a snowstorm and the Elf on the Shelf can make a sublime PB&J without a knife.  Which is why I suggest you get out into parks to talk with them. Don’t rely on what a few writers have put into your books.

This famous quote sums it up best:your task in the world rabbi

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under belief, Family, happiness, nature, things to do in riverside, Uncategorized

Indie Author Month Wrap-Up

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Since 2011, writers and readers of independently published works have designated October as Indie Author Month.  What began as a small group of publishers and writers from around Indianapolis has grown into a national celebration.  Coffee shops, libraries, universities, theaters and more, opened their doors this month to celebrate something that millions of us try each year – writing! As a writer with a foot in traditional publishing, but a much longer history with indie publishing, I wanted to understand how the Inland Empire put this month to good use.  My writer’s training took me first to Jurupa Valley, then Claremont, and ended in San Bernardino.

On October 1st, the Riverside County Library System proudly started the month off with a day of indie author events hosted by Inlandia Institute. Taking place at the Louise Robidoux Branch Library, authors, editors, publishers, and advocates provided timely information about the state and purpose of independent publishing.  During the panel discussion, each demonstrated the winding and often varied paths that brought each of them into writing. All were energized by the variety of voices, as well as the emphasis on new voices.

This event served to highlight an ugly fact of our Inland Empire literary landscape:  a dearth of literary agents based in the Inland Empire.  Nobody in attendance could name a single one. Given a piece of independent work will not have the built in support of a national publisher’s effort or media campaign, it is even more important for indie authors to have supporters to promote exceptional writing.

On the western edge of Inland Southern California, Pitzer College featured an indie event dedicated to the publishers themselves.  October 5th’s Small Press Fest, funded by Pitzer’s College Campus Life Committee and spear-headed by Brent Armendinger, focused on the interplay between independent publishing and social justice.  It was great to see a regional college take on this task.  Like libraries, they have a built in love of the written word, self-expression, and new ideas. It makes sense that higher education would eagerly find ways to support this knowledge sharing and the book crafting enterprise.

What stood out was the varied shape and feel of the books offered.  There were series of short tracts and tightly folded, accordion-style books, pop out books, books on all sorts of papers was popular.  Another stand out was the emphasis on marginalized voices, voices of women and people of color.  At the panel discussion, the overarching themes were social justice and how to create a sense of community with small presses. Amanda Ackerman with eohippus labs summed it up simply when she stated, [small presses] rely on idiosyncratic forms, information, and distribution”.  The result is a product that looks, says, and does things differently from traditional presses.

San Bernardino Public Library, Feldhym Central branch, celebrated Indie Author Day as one of 200+ libraries participating in a virtual town hall, panel discussion, and book sales on October 8th.  Program Coordinator Linda Adams Yeh provided a space to explore how each genre approaches self-publishing. Horror stories, detective tales, children’s books, fanzines, comics, graphic novels, biographies, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction offerings ensured everyone in attendance could go home with a new book.  The day featured two writers sharing best practices and processes to support artistic aspirations by drawing upon personal experience and community connections.

The nation-wide virtual town hall included an Indie Author Day panel discussion led by Jon Fine. Jon is a media consultant and the previous long time Director of Amazon’s Author and Publisher Relations. He led a panel of writers, librarians, and entrepreneurs speaking about what drives independent publishing.

Novelist L. Penelope spoke about what inspires the indie writer, stating they “want to get [their] hands into all the specifics” when it comes to the writing process. She shared what she did during that year of writing her first title.  Alongside her novel, she also prepared an extensive marketing plan. She incorporated the selling of the book into her creative process.

Lessons worth remembering? First, no matter what form publishing takes next, quality writing will still be priority one.  Second, you can find great homegrown writing with a mouse click or a trip to your local bookstore. Third, independent publishing is a time-tested method to explore new ideas and sustain a vibrant, local arts community.

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Filed under Indie, publishing, Uncategorized, writing