Graduating From Ooligan Press

Two years ago I uprooted my life and moved to Portland, Oregon, in order to pursue a Master’s of Science in Book Publishing from Portland State University. This weekend I’m graduating from that program and moving on to the next chapter of my life. It’s exciting. It’s wonderful. It’s something I’m proud to have accomplished. And…it’s also a little sad.

I loved my time here at PSU, especially at Ooligan Press, the student-run publishing house attached to the program that grad students have to be a part of in order to get their degree. Ooligan has been such an experience. I’ve learned so much working with Abbey, Per, Kathi, and the other professors here, who I’m happy to call mentors and even friends. I’ve learned so much working with my fellow students, too, and the class of 2016 has formed a merry little band that I’ll be loyal to and keeping an eye on, as well as cheering for, as the years progress. I’d be thrilled to work with them again and look forward to seeing them around the publishing sphere later in life. I’ve also learned a lot about myself during my time in this program. I’ve faced wonderful highs and terrible lows. But I’ve never been happier here at Ooligan, and that’s why I’m a bit sad to leave. It’s been wonderful here and I’ve learned so much about the business that this weekend will be a bittersweet moment.

I know that exciting things are in my future, though, and I’ll be happy to apply the knowledge I’ve gained at Ooligan and PSU to a job. (I already am, too! I had an interview this week and I understood every word he said even though it was industry speak! Abbey would be so proud.)

I’m also looking forward to updating my professional website on Sunday with how I’ve obtained my degree and redoing my resume to reflect that. I’m going to reorganize the website a little bit as well. I got some constructive feedback during my defense, especially concerning my design aspects. My committee mentioned how my designs weren’t my strong suit and how, compared to others, it might actually be a detriment. I’ve been thinking about that conversation quite a bit over the past few weeks, and I’ve acknowledged that design is something I’m still learning and my skills will grow in time. (I even say that on my website.) I don’t have a design degree or an art background so I know, compared to some other fabulous people at Ooligan, my skills are limited for now. But I also give myself some credit. Considering I didn’t know anything about the Adobe software two years ago, I’ve learned quite a bit and have come quite far. I’ve even got a reoccurring summer freelance job, so my design chops can’t be that bad. But because of that feedback, I will rearrange my website to reflect that better and I know my portfolio will be stronger because of it.

Ooligan was an amazing experience. I’ve made mentors and friends in this program that I’ll have for life and the skills I’ve obtained will help me land a job in the (hopefully near!) future. This weekend, though, I’m going to celebrate this achievement with my friends and family. My fellow Oolies and I deserve to bask in the knowledge that we’ve successfully completed this program, and I’ll raise a glass for us all!

I hope you have a lovely weekend! Mine’s certainly going to be a busy one.
Warm regards,
Kellie

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TOMORROW

Write to Publish 2016 is TOMORROW!

Only the biggest thing I’m doing for my program to date. Only the biggest thing I’ve ever done to date.

And I vowed to myself that tomorrow, no matter how stressed I get, I am going to enjoy the conference. Enjoy how much fun the attendees are having. Enjoy how awesome the panels and workshops are. Enjoy seeing how the vendors network. Enjoy the raffle, the reading, the pitch, the keynote. I will be stressed, I will be putting out fires, and I will be dealing with a million little things…but I’m also going to enjoy it nonetheless.

This is something I had a huge hand in creating and it’s going to be freaking AWESOME!

I’ll see you on the other side.
Warm regards,
Kellie

 

A Reflection

We just had our button making party for Write to Publish 2016 and that got me thinking. It’s amazing how much things can change in a year. Last year, when we did the same thing for Write to Publish 2015, Brandon and Melanie were the managers and I, a team member. I wasn’t stressed about Write to Publish back then. Sure, the conference was happening, but I had my task for the day of and that was good. Life was simpler.

Now? Well, it’s a bit more complicated. We had the button making party, sure. But this time I’m a manager alongside Chelsea. It’s a bit more stressful, and we don’t really have one task during Write to Publish…unless you consider “make sure everything goes according to plan” one thing. It seems like more is on the line this time around, probably because Chels and I have been planning it since last year and we want it to go well. I’m hopeful that it will.

And this time next year? Well, I don’t know what I’ll be doing. I’ll be graduated—*knocks on wood*—and I’ll have a job—*knocks on wood harder*—and maybe I’ll even be living somewhere else. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I know it’ll be changed, again. I know it’ll be different. And I know I’ll be able to handle it.

For now, I need to be focused on Write to Publish 2016. It’s coming up fast, only five days away. I’m both excited and nervous about it. It’s also pretty freaking crazy. I’ve been looking forward to this day since March 2015 and now it’s here! I really, really hope it goes over well. Wish me luck!

And if any of you are in the Portland area and want to know learn more about the publishing process and network with like-minded individuals, check out the program and get your ticket today! There’s a pretty cool Pitch to a Professional opportunity that quite a few writers are excited about.

Now, time to go have another cup of tea and try not to be overwhelmed by everything.

Question: What do you do to quench the nerves? Leave your answer the in comments!

Warm regards,
Kellie

Into The Thick Of It

It’s been a pretty crazy past few weeks. Good crazy, fun crazy, that excited crazy that happens over the holidays. I had a lovely time with my family and friends. (I hope you did, too, by the way!)

This was my first week of my second to last term in grad school. Monday, the first day of my second to last term in grad school, was a snow day. It was also my birthday. After that random day off from work, I was back in the thick of it: classes, projects, syllabi, new teams, new ToDo lists, new blogposts to be written, new articles to edit, new schedules, and all new things to freak out about.

The first week is historically pretty relaxed in class, with the random icebreakers, the quick introduction to the syllabi, the even faster overview of the main points of class. And in Business of Book Publishing class, that was pretty true.

But at Ooligan Press? Heck no.

Chelsea and I emailed back and forth that Sunday and Monday, we had Exec, met our new team, and had PrOps on Wednesday, and then Chels and I met again on today. Just for Write to Publish stuff.

Because as of right now, it’s three weeks away.

THREE WEEKS AWAY, PEOPLE!

We’ve had our downs—a vendor dropped out—and ups—we got a new one!—over the holiday and during this first week, but overall I think we’re in a good spot. We have a pretty big team and a comprehensive January ToDo.

I’m excited about Write to Publish. I’m going to be a bundle of nerves until after the closing speech, but I’m excited, too. Everything I’ve been working towards since March of last year will come to fruition on January 30th. And I can’t wait to see how it all pans out.

How did your first week of classes go? Have anything exciting happening this month? Let me know in the comments!

Warm regards,
Kellie

Eight Reasons Why I Write

Hello all!

This week I’ve been doing things like getting ready for Write to Publish 2016—brainstorming cool ideas to pursue in January—and thinking about my novel Finding Hekate more—brainstorming marketing ideas and review places—and napping. There’s been a lot of napping. And watching Critical Role. It’s the week after finals, don’t judge!

I meant to write more this week, but I didn’t. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I wrote a 20-page (double-spaced) paper on fanfiction for finals week. Maybe it’s because I wrote a 9-page (single-spaced) transmedia marketing plan for a digital teen scavenger hunt for finals week. Maybe it’s because I didn’t plan time per day to write. I just know I didn’t write.

But, because of Suddenly Jamie’s post last week, I did wonder why I write. Here are some reasons:

  1. Because I love characterization.
    • I’ve always loved creating the characters. Ever since I was little I always wanted to figure characters out, their names, eye color, hair color, backgrounds, family, friends, who they are, what they want. It was fun to create them, to put a part of myself into them or to be something I could never be. Now, I know from all those motivational posters that I can be anyone I want to be. But a dragon hunter? Technically, I can’t be that. A woman who had to kill to survive? I really don’t wanna be that. But I do want to write about it.
  2. Because I love worldbuilding.
    • Worldbuilding, like characterization, is another one of my favorites. Creating a whole new world, crafting the rules, the customs, the cultures of these new peoples. Of these new races. The history and lore of the world is in my mind (or in my notes) even if the readers never know about it.
  3. Because it makes me feel powerful, in a weird, strange, awkward kind of way.
    • It may (or may not?) be apparent, but I like creating things. Crafting worlds and characters out of nothing. It makes me feel powerful, in a way. I’ve created numerous worlds and characters, for short stories, flash fictions, poems, novels. The readers may never know it all, and probably shouldn’t know it all, but I know it. And that’s a cool feeling.
  4. Because I want to get better at it.
    • Writing is…overly romanticized in some ways. When you say “writer” we all get this image of a figure hunched over a computer in the midst of a creative breakthrough surrounded by coffee and stacks of paper and cats. (Okay, I added the cats part.) In other ways, the romance is spot on, like when you get a burst of creativity. When you write all night long (or all day). When you get that flash of a character or of a world or of some badass weapon this or that character really should use. But it’s not easy by any means. It takes work. And a good portion of why I write is so I can become a better writer.
  5. Because I want to get better at it.
    • I need to get better at it. I need to hone my craft! Practice makes perfect, you know? The way I figure it, the best is yet to come.
  6. Because I want to get better at it.
    • Yes, I know. Three times. But it bears repeating. I want to—no, I will get better at this craft of mine.
  7. Because becoming an author is a dream of mine.
    • It’s a dream of mine to be published. And right now, that dream is coming true! But I don’t want to be a one-hit-wonder. I want to publish a bunch of books. This duology is just the start!
  8. Because it’s fun!
    • Some people build things. Some people compose music. Some people teach kids. There is a whole world of things people can have fun doing. For me, it’s writing!

There are many other reasons why I write, but these are some pretty good ones! So, why do you write? Or, why do you do the thing you’re most passionate about? Let me know in the comments!

Have a safe and happy holiday season!
Warm regards,
Kellie

I Did Very Little Today

I meant to do something productive today since my finals are over for the term. I meant to do more Write to Publish 2016 stuff. I meant to do more brainstorming on marketing and cover ideas for Finding Hekate. I meant to work on my stories, my second story for FH, my fanfiction, my other original works. I meant to do things for Ooligan Press.

But did I?

I got caught in a spiral of watching Geek and Sundry‘s Critical Role series instead. (Watch it live or on YouTube.) This D&D show is AMAZING! I’ll do all that other stuff tomorrow…

Please, let me know in the comments if you’ve ever gotten sucked into something so hard that it negated your responsibilities for the day. If so, what was it? If not, how do you resist such a wonderful temptation?

Also, A HUGE THANK YOU to all my followers. I just hit 200, and that’s kind of amazing to me.

Warm regards,
Kellie

Being an Exhibitor at Literary Arts Wordstock

Wordstock. A one-day celebration of books. Panels, workshops, readings, LitCrawl, food trucks, beer garden, and books, books, books galore. Packed with so many activities, this event was just up every publishing professional, bookseller, author, writer, and reader in the Portland area and beyond. It was packed!

Being an exhibitor was a lovely experience. There were swells of people, sometimes super crowded, sometimes less so. From 12-2-ish, the place was literally packed. Like claustrophobic packed. And it was great! Having Ripple Grove Press‘ books in front of the eyes of so many people was marvelous. Plus, a bunch of people came over to talk to us and bought our books!

The signings we had went well – I met two of our authors! – and I even got to check on the Ooligan Press table for a little bit to see how they were doing. Ooligan seemed to have a really great day, too, so that made me happy. (Gotta keep tabs on both of my publishing companies, you know? Now, how’s Desert Palm Press doing? *checks their social media accounts* They’re doing good, too! Happiness all around!)

I found that if you wave and smile at people, they’ll come over. I found that some people only want to read the books and move on and some people really love chatting. I found that some people just want a bookmark, which is cool because the bookmarks were beautiful.

We got asked a bunch of questions about the publishing house: how we run things, if we take submissions, what publishers do in the grand scheme of publishing. It was nice that I could answer most of the questions and, if I couldn’t, I directed them to the real publishers Rob and Amanda. (After all, I’m the intern! <- I used that a little bit when I didn’t know the answer, too.) I had a little speal – because, come on, it’s me – but I didn’t use it as much as I expected.

It was a good day overall. I got some valuable experience in the publishing world, met a bunch of people (including some for Write to Publish 2016!), and got to talk about books all day. I call that a win.

Did anyone in the lovely blogosphere go to Wordstock this weekend?
Warm regards,
Kellie

The Wax Bullet War

One of the assignments I was given in Ooligan Press lab was to read one of our backlist books and post the review on two review sites, like Amazon and Goodreads. I did just that, but I also wanted to share it here, too, since the book is a powerful one indeed. The book I read is called The Wax Bullet War, written by Sean Davis and published in April of 2014.

***

The Wax Bullet War

Wax Bullet War is a compelling narrative, one that speaks to the horrors a soldier faces in war and to the struggles he faces at home. It is a powerful read, an emotional rollercoaster through death of comrades in arms and friends, to lost lovers, to ethics of war and the world, and beyond. Sean’s voice is perfect, crisp, clear, and straight to the point, filled with a dark humor that keeps the momentum of the story moving forward. His tale of PTSD when he returns home is a chilling reminder of how powerful war is and how it affects our soldiers on the ground and at home. If you’ve never been to war (or had friends or family who’ve been to war), read this book. It’s true description of what goes over there and how the men and women deal with it is an insightful read. I would highly recommend this book to my friends and family.

***

So why, since I posted this review to Amazon and Goodreads, am I sharing it on here, too?

Because it’s important. Because this book is one of the select non-fiction books I’ve read that struck me as something deeper. And because I’m recommending it to all of you. It’s a one-of-a-kind read, and I’m proud that I work for the press that published it.

Have a great Halloween, folks! Keep it spooky (and safe) out there!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Let the Freaking Out Commence: School Is Starting

PSU starts on Monday. This Monday. Two days from now. And to say I’m unprepared for my second (and final) year of graduate school would be an understatement.

Things I Don’t Have Prepared (followed by my internal screaming):

  • Class Locations (WHERE ARE MY CLASSES?)
  • Class Schedule (WHEN ARE MY CLASSES?)
  • Notebooks (WHERE ARE MY NOTEBOOKS?)
  • Calendar Dates (WHEN IS EVERYTHING?)
  • Internship Research (WHAT DO THEY DO?)
  • Vanguard Copyediting (WHY HAVEN’T I PUT IT ON MY SCHEDULE?)
  • Chronicle Blogging (WHAT AM I DOING FOR BLOG POSTS AND WHEN?)
  • This Blogging Schedule (SAME AS ABOVE!)
  • DPP Author Stuff (WHAT AM I DOING FOR MARKETING?)

So. Many. Things.

So, to that end, this weekend I’m going to be preparing for school.

Thankfully I had a meeting with Chelsea, my co-manager for Write to Publish today, so we have that pretty much covered. And, to be fair, I am having coffee with Ripple Grove Press (my internship place) on Monday, so we’ll figure stuff out then.

I’m just much more prepared by now, you know? It’s awkward. And oddly stressful. But I have my tea with milk and honey and I have a plan of attack for getting everything done, so I’ll be good.

Are you prepared for school to start? Or were you, when it did? (Surely I can’t be the only one, right? Right?)

Warm regards,
Kellie

Classes

Hello!

It’s been awhile since I updated everyone, so here goes.

Classes (Because, let’s face it, this is the only thing we do here in grad school. Kidding!) 

This term I’m taking 13 credits. Last term I took 9, so this is a whole extra class. I tried not to freak out about it over winter break. Thus far it hasn’t been too bad, though. Granted, we’re only two weeks into the term so that could change, but for now I’m handling the class load pretty well.

Book Editing: Honestly I thought I’d have a leg up on this class, because I have a freelance editing business and the people I work with and for seem to really love my editing style. (Yay!) But it’s challenging. Which isn’t to say that it’s bad, it’s just a bit of a shock. Mostly because the first thing we’re going over is copyediting. Turns out there are multiple levels of copyediting—something I was gleefully unaware of until this class—and the copyediting that I do is called ‘heavy’. Well, we’re not doing ‘heavy’ copyediting; we’re doing ‘light’ copyediting. It’s hard, guys. I’m so used to ripping sentences apart and then putting them back together correctly, that loosing that ability is jarring for me. I can only correct punctuation, spelling, hyphenation, the treatment of italics and bolds and grammar stuff. If a sentence is clear and able to be understood by a reader, even if it’s a super awkward sentence, I can’t touch it. If there’s a stray comma I get to ax it. But not much more. But I’m going to learn, damn it! (Thank goodness we’re doing a workshop in it on Tuesday.)

Book Design and Production: This class has been pretty fun thus far! We’ve learned all about typefaces and done some InDesign work. Our first two projects were interesting—for the first project we had to go through fonts and pick certain ones that matched certain words and then for the second one we had to create three typeface sheets. We’re also picking a book in the public domain to design as the final project. I picked Peter Pan. (And, yes, mostly because of Hook. And all the other Peter Pan movies I’ve seen.) We are also doing a paper that we will design, too, but I’m still trying to research something interesting.

Game Design for Writers: While the other two classes above are Core Classes, this one is an elective. It’s a completely online course with no books and no syllabus. Crazy, right? It’s supposed to be a game. Thus far it’s gotten some… interesting reviews and some people have dropped out, but I’m going to stick with it because it is fun for me and not as stressful as the other classes. (Because I don’t have a syllabus, I don’t know what to expect. Will there be a huge report monster looming behind the door or a bouncy reply-to-this-topic blob instead?) Plus, this week we get to learn about different game design models and some game design terminology, so that should be fun.

Publishing Lab: This is my 1 credit course (that feels like 4 credits because of the hours we put in) having to do with Ooligan Press. I’m still on the Write to Publish team and the conference is coming up fast—it’s two weeks away!—so that’s pretty exciting. We’re trying to pull everything together. If you’re free on Saturday, January 31, and are in or near the Portland area, come to the conference! I think it’s going to be a lovely event. My blogpost (usually due two weeks after the term started) was pushed back to after the conference. I was annoyed at first about it, but then I got over being annoyed. After all, it frees up this weekend for me a little bit, so that’s good!

That’s all my classes. Like I said earlier, thus far I’ve been handling it well. Talk to me during midterms or finals, though, and we’ll see what happens.

I hope work/school/life is treating everyone wonderfully!

Until next time!
Warm regards,
Kellie