Little Books with Big Impact

Note from NDSU Press Publisher Suzzanne Kelley

With some frequency, North Dakota State University Press receives manuscripts that are not quite book-length but still significant studies or literary works. In the past, we’ve sadly turned them away. Our new series, A Little Book about North Dakota, provides the opportunity to bring such works to the public.

Several years ago, when I was conducting historical research in New Zealand, I spied the BWB Texts Collection, little books on a variety of New Zealand topics produced by Bridget Williams Books and prominently displayed in nearly every bookstore. Now, with dozens of “short books on big subjects,” the BWB Texts are affordable, easy to carry while traveling, and chock full of interesting content of interest to New Zealanders. Each book measures only a few inches wide and tall and generally has somewhere between eighty and two hundred pages.

Enamored with the idea of the little book, I posed the notion to my Certificate in Publishing students. One of the graduate students, Ana Rusness-Petersen especially liked the idea. She set out to learn everything she could about little books as her publishing research project. Her findings include aspects of contemporary trends in format, content, production, marketing, and distribution, which NDSU Press has ably adopted for this new series.

In March 2020, I set the idea before the members of the press’s Editorial Board, where it was met with much enthusiasm. I suggested Mike Jacobs—retired editor and publisher of the Grand Forks Herald—might serve as series editor, and the board members approved unanimously. When Mike accepted the invitation, the project began in earnest. Our series logo and cover designs are by award-winning graphic designer Jamie Trosen. Deb Tanner, also an award-winning designer and a long-time designer for NDSU Press, takes care of every aspect—aesthetic and technical—of the interior design.

These images are final cover design concepts for our Little Book about North Dakota series. We’ll use yellow for poetry, red for fiction, and green for nonfiction. The back cover wraps over to the front, exhibiting North Dakota’s borders and counties. The series volume number is visible in the lower right corner, and the series logo appears in the upper left.

 

Here is a sample of a two-page spread from our debut Little Book about North Dakota, featuring a full-color illustration by Mike Jacobs and one of Rogal’s poems.

Each Little Book about North Dakota measures 6” x 6” and contains a substantive and/or literary treatment of the history, science, social science, health, politics, literature, culture, or contemporary life in North Dakota. Did we think of every possible category? No. The possibilities for content are limitless, bound only by their connection to North Dakota.

Submissions of such works, which will undergo our blind peer review process for acquisition, may be sent to our online submissions portal at https://ndsupress.submittable.com/submit.

Our first volume, Field Notes, released just a week ago, is available from our NDSU Press online store, Ingram, Amazon, and your favorite independent bookseller.

Here is the cover design for our first volume, a collection of poetry called Field Notes, by Margaret Rogal. When the book is closed, it measures 6″ x 6″ and contains 120 pages, with color images throughout. All of our Little Books will be of this same dimension.

 

NDSU Press Receives Grant

The NDSU Press has received a $15,000 grant from the Literary Arts Emergency Fund, which is administered by the Academy of American Poets, the Community of Literary Magazine and Presses and the National Book Foundation. In total, the fund has granted $4.3 million to 313 nonprofit literary arts organizations and publishers across the U.S. that have experienced continued financial losses due to COVID-19.

“Of the 313 presses receiving support, we are one of only seven university presses, including the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison, Letras Latinas at University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies and the University of Arizona Poetry Center,” said Suzzanne Kelley, NDSU Press editor in chief. “With paper shortages, higher costs and delays in printing and shipping, and multiple disruptions in the supply chain, we at NDSU Press are tasked daily to overcome industry challenges and expenses. This important one-time grant provides sure footing for our future.”

Check out the complete announcement at NDSU News: NDSU Press receives grant | NDSU News | NDSU

 

NDSU Press Seeks Submissions for 7th Annual Poetry of the Plains & Prairies Award

North Dakota State University Press seeks poetry submissions of any style for our annual Poetry of the Plains and Prairies (POPP) Award and letterpress chapbook publication. While authors may call any place home, their submissions must deftly capture the feeling of, as well as the reality of, living on the plains and prairies. Authors may submit any number of poems equaling thirty to thirty-five pages in length, with no more than one poem per page. (Single poems may extend more than one page.) The selected poetry collection will be published as a limited-edition chapbook, hand-printed with antique letterpress equipment. Our finalist judge is Katherine Hoerth, winner of our 2021 POPP Award.

Simultaneous submissions with other presses are not allowed. Authors should include acknowledgment of poems previously published elsewhere. Authors may submit more than one manuscript, but only if there is no overlap in content. Manuscript pages should be numbered, and all work must be of the author’s own composition, free from copyright restrictions. Authors may not win the POPP Award in two consecutive years.

Submissions will be accepted at https://ndsupress.submittalbe.com/submit through March 17, 2022. The winning manuscript collection will be announced in May.

In the case of unforeseen circumstance, the press reserves the option not to publish a chapbook; all decisions of the press in this matter are final.

If selected for publication, the author will receive $200, our standard university press publishing contract with royalties, ten free copies, an author discount on purchases of additional copies, and national distribution. The author(s) must agree to give a public reading at a time and place in North Dakota (or via Zoom), convenient to NDSU Press and the author, the day of, or soon after, publication. There are no fees to enter this competition.

7th Annual NDSU Press Party

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FEATURED BOOKS AND AUTHORS

In Plains SightBonnie Larson Staiger

In a rich yet often austere setting of the Great Plains, Bonnie Larson Staiger’s second poetry collection–In Plains Sight–brings those realities into full view through the lens of the prairie ethos. In moments when the natural world confounds the objective and logical world, she brings us into an encounter with a coyote, a sub-zero walk after a blizzard, or a humorous swipe at a fast-food restaurant.

Last PoemsTimothy Murphy

As described by the collection editor, poet and translator Catherine Chandler, Last Poems is a veritable journal intime, albeit one that Timothy Murphy wished to share with his readers. In his unmistakable voice, and often in stark language almost too painful to read, Tim chronicles his physical, spiritual, and emotional life during his final months, beginning on the day of his cancer diagnosis in early January 2018, through his various treatments, and ultimately his decision to withdraw from clinical trials. . . . Let [Last Poems] be my Last Will and Testament, Murphy writes in “Envoi.” And so it is. Last Poems bears witness—with grace, grit, and gratitude—to the life and loves of this major North American poet.

The Night We Landed on the Moon: Essays between Exile & Belonging Debra Marquart

Fans of Debra Marquart’s landmark memoir, The Horizontal World, will rejoice over the publication of The Night We Landed on the Moon—shapeshifting essays that travel from the blizzardy Midwest to sweltering Siberia, from a flooding Michigan basement to the panic-inducing Paris Catacombs, from her life as a rebellious farmer’s daughter to hard rock musician to professor and poet laureate. Every page is full of story and insight, laced with wit, as Marquart meditates on the hungers of home and wanderlust, the way her Germans-from-Russia family is “preserved in their hyphenations,” the poetic strangeness of basketball, the insidiousness of fracking boomtowns, and the ironies of a nostalgia called heimat. The individual essays are astonishing, the collection as a whole profound.” —K. L. Cook, author of Marrying Kind and The Art of Disobedience

A Field Guide to Custer’s Camps: On the March to the Little Bighorn Don Weinell

Dust off your bicycle, or muddy it up, however you prefer to hit the trail. Don Weinell, a long-distance bicyclist, biked the trail described in A Field Guide to Custer’s Camps: On the March to the Little Bighorn, keeping a log of his experiences and GPS locations, which inform this travel narrative. Weinell’s on-the-ground method of exploring history puts him in contact with the elements, the terrain, and the physical demands of cross-country travel. For readers not quite ready to don rain jackets, cold- and hot-weather wear, or snakebite kits, this field guide is the next best thing to following the trail in person.

Prairie Madness Katherine Hoerth

About a year ago, Katherine Hoerth moved to Nebraska from Texas; her poems chronicle the experience of adjusting to life on the Great Plains amid the isolation and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. The term “prairie madness” feels, Hoerth observes, particularly fitting as it was once used to describe the “madness” of women pioneers of Nebraska and Kansas who endured extreme isolation.

Prairie Madness is the sixth volume of our Poetry of the Plains & Prairies letterpress chapbook series. Each copy is unique, with hand-assembled pressed flowers.

The Trouble with Daydreams: Collected and New Poems Mark Vinz

An icon of literary culture on the northern plains, Mark Vinz observes the details—be they dreary or delightful—of real life. Through concise language and powerful imagery, he conveys his memories, marked more by the present than the past, with clarity and affection.

We Are Called . . . To Do the Right Thing: A Practical Guide for Leaders Based on Personal Reflections & Experience from a Longtime Higher Education Leader Prakash Mathew

Prakash Mathew’s debut guide on leadership offers a compelling invitation to principled leadership with prudent and practical habits, gleaned from his almost four decades of student affairs work in higher education. We Are Called illustrates lessons in leadership with stories from a life well lived. Expounding on his 80/20 Principle, Prakash provides a plan for doing the right things for the right reasons.

We Are Called is of interest to leaders in higher education institutions (public and private), business leaders and organizations, religious organizations, start-up companies, search firms, and any organization seeking a change process, and as a training resource for boards, councils, and commissions.

Price Per Barrel: The Human Cost of Extraction Robin Lynn Behl

First responders, once called to duty, refuse to abandon their posts, even when their towns change around them. They rise far and above their job descriptions, putting aside their own PTSD until the boom is over. But the trauma they endure at the hands of newcomers and outsiders is real, persistent, and contagious. Emergency response is the kind of work that will change a person, the kind of work that leaves an indelible mark. Each person in that profession finds some way to cope with the horrors of mankind. Or, they don’t survive.

Robin Lynn Behl’s means of coping was to drive. For years, she drove long distances across the country, across the continent, until she had seen all fifty states and every province in Canada. Her years on the road included six months living in her truck and talking to the people on the front lines. Along the way, she ran into friends–her brothers and sisters—in the badge. She found the other people who were still doing the work she had done, and they started to tell her their stories. By telling their story, she can tell hers, and maybe be rid of the burdens.

A Song for Liv Wayne Gudmundson

A Song for Liv by Wayne Gudmundson is a love letter to his daughter, Liv. Serendipitously, the modern Nordic name Liv also means ‘life.’ As well as a gift to his daughter, A Song for Liv, is a personal meditation on place, the search for personal and ethnic identity, and the complexities therein, much of which is located in the mists (and myths) of time with only the ancient landscapes of those stories remaining. Combining travel notes, Icelandic history and lore, and family relationships, Gudmundson’s form here—best characterized as hybrid—weaves a tapestry that is at once inviting and accessible, each page entry a stanza-like lyric of the larger song.”
—Thom Tammaro, three-time Minnesota Book Award recipient and author of When the Italians Came to My Home Town and Italian Days & Hours

“Written as a gift from a father to his daughter, A Song for Liv gathers up what wisdom and understanding a father can offer. His story begins its search for ancestral places in the Faroe Islands, where Gudmundson explores his investment in the larger Scandinavian world, having claimed a portion of the Faroes as his own. The narrative of the Norse invasion of Scandinavia continues on through Iceland to Canada to the settlement of Gimli, Manitoba, and from there to a small church in North Dakota, the home of Gudmundson’s grandparents and the protean poet K.N., whose spirit hovers over the entire narrative.”
—David Arnason, writer, professor, and Viking from Gimli, Manitoba

 

 

 

 

Tune in Today at 5:00

Note from NDSU Publisher Suzzanne Kelley

Tune in today for this weekend’s edition of Prairie Public Presents, and you’ll see author/artist/academic Denise Lajimodiere read from her newest book with NDSU Press: His Feathers Were Chains. The program is a recording of Denise’s recent performance at the Plains Art Museum, kicking off local programming for the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read.

I had the good fortune of attending Denise’s reading, with fabulous musical interpretations from musicians and composers at Concordia College AND drummers and jingle dress dancers. Here is a link to tonight’s program on Prairie Public and, below this message, you’ll find some photos I took on the night of the original performance.

A Ponder & a Podcast

a note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, North Dakota State University Press

 

These cold and blustery northern plains days are perfect for sticking around the home-front, preferably indoors and near a fireplace. Friday is a work-from-home day for me, and I look forward to hearing the washer agitate and the dogs snore as I edit and write and read and ponder the business of publishing.

Things went kablooey last week, over the weekend, and on into this week. There are five of us holding down the fort at the Press—none of us full time, and some of us just a very little bit of time, but all of us pulling our weight . . . except that two tested positive for Covid (and a third had a scare this morning) . . . and one of our designers injured her back . . . and our other designer was out of town . . . and I accidentally deleted ALL of my emails (which are slowly being recovered) . . . which meant very little went according to my master plan. It is only now, at the end of this week, with everyone returning, slightly bedraggled but smiling and ready to pitch in, that I feel like we’re in forward motion again. In fact, this afternoon I turned off my email, shut my office door, and left my office only to refresh my coffee. I got enough good work done to lift my spirits. Supply-chain challenges and Covid be damned . . . we can do this!

In fact, we have all kinds of exciting happenings to share in the coming days and weeks. Here’s one piece now!

Check out this just-out-today announcement—featured on the NDSU News page!—about our brand-spankin’-new podcast: NDSU Press announces new podcast | NDSU News | NDSU

Announcing our brand new NDSU Press Podcast!

 

Words by the Minute

note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, NDSU Press

How fast do you read?

How about fifty pages in fifteen minutes? That is a pace with which I cannot compete, but Kyla Vaughan–an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin, Madison–consistently reads at that pace, and in the past year, she read 392 books, averaging more than 7 per week! Even when I shift from editor mode to just-enjoy-the-story mode, I cannot read that fast.

An exercise my Practicum in Publishing students will complete in a few weeks is to time how long it takes to read a chapter from the manuscripts they’re working from, and then to time themselves again when they are editing those same pages. In this fashion, they can mark an estimate for how many hours they need to block out in order to read and edit their manuscript projects. From my days as a freelance editor and from experience in teaching students to edit, I know that this exercise is an essential beginning to bidding out a job or completing a project by end of semester.

Practicum in Publishing book team from February 2020. Working on Half the Terrible Things, a novel by Paul Legler, are (left to right) Zachary Vietz, Oliver Sime, Nataly Routledge, and Kalley Miller.

The students think they are ready, and I know they are eager to begin, but we have some preparatory work to do. For example, in the upcoming weeks, they must become proficient at several tasks. Among those tasks are to:

  • practice awareness. Based on terminology coined by Karen Judd, editor and author, students will learn to attend to cognitive aspects of reading. Some readers are naturally observant, noticing and remembering where on a page some detail of a story appeared; catching that a name was spelled one way in an early chapter and another way in a subsequent chapter; watching for red flags of a factual nature. My students must double-down on being aware and observant.
  • become familiar with The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. My publishing mentor, Mary Ann Blochowiak (long-time editor for The Chronicles of Oklahoma), tasked me with reading the first one hundred pages of the CMOS many years ago. This exercise formed my understanding of how books are published, physically and in accord with standards of practice. The reading assignment is a gift I pay forward to my students. Students will also be tasked with learning how to consult CMOS when formatting a manuscript for publication and when searching for guidance in matters of copyright, editing, punctuation, and proofreading. (Really, it’s all fun!)
  • learn to use standard proofreaders’ marks. As in all matters for book publishing, we rely upon the guidance of The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. Using the CMOS Proofreaders’ Marks, we’ll practice posting carets, circling and underlining, and implementing various curlicues.
  • build a style sheet. We’ll draft a style sheet together for practice, and then students will be able to devise style sheets built upon their specific manuscript projects. Style sheets are records of the choices we make when editing. They are documents made to ensure the book interior is consistent throughout. 

This short list hardly encompasses all the actions students will take, but you can see they are in for some close reading in the coming weeks. As we carefully scrutinize every sentence, this will not be the year to set any book-reading records, but it is the semester to dive deep into the process of transforming a manuscript into a book. 

 

Related notes:

Article about Kyla Vaughan: “Need a New Year’s Resolution? Read a book a day. This undergrad did.” by Doug Erickson, University of Wisconsin–Madison, January 14, 2022.

Karen Judd. Copyediting: A Practical Guide. Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications, 2001.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017.

Paul Legler. Half the Terrible Things. North Dakota State University Press, 2020.

 

Land of Sunlit Ice: Giving Region a Voice

note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, NDSU Press

View from my front porch.

As I write, periodically gazing out my study window at a crisp, cold negative 24 degrees day, I revisit one of the first books I published when coming on board with NDSU Press. In a conversation with North Dakota Poet Laureate Larry Woiwode about his current work—back in the fall of 2015—we landed on the proposition of publishing a chapbook of poetry: Land of Sunlit Ice. We wouldn’t do it in simple fashion, but in alliance with newspaperman Allan Burke (the mover and shaker behind the Hunter Times and the Braddock News Letterpress Museums), the Iron Men of the South Central Threshing Association, and my Introduction to Publishing students. That inaugural project kicked off a series of publications, evolving into what we now call the Poetry of the Plains & Prairies (POPP) Award. January 17, 2022, kicks off our seventh call for poetry for this prestigious prize.

Hand-letterpressed covers, individually painted by Introduction to Publishing students, class of 2016.

Introduction to Publishing students from the class of 2016.

Pictured after installing a hanging propane furnace in The Braddock News Letterpress Museum in Braddock, N.D., are left to right, Ken Rebel of Bismarck, Tony Splonskowski of Bismarck, David Moch of Hazelton, Tracy Moch of Kintyre and Dave Duchscherer of Bismarck. They are all active in the South Central Threshing Association, Inc.

Getting off to a stellar start with this fabulous collection led not only to our chapbook series. The publication and the publicity surrounding our work led to our tagline: giving region a voice. I’d like to say that we thought of this all-encompassing phrase all by ourselves, but it came instead from an article about what we do, published in North Dakota Living’s article by Luann Dart “NDSU Press Gives Region a Voice.” At root, this simple tagline represents the mission of the press since its first conception in 1950. We are proud to continue that mission today.

But, what exactly is “region,” and how do we apply the term as a geographic and sensate parameter today?

Our mission statement declares that NDSU Press “exists to stimulate and coordinate interdisciplinary regional scholarship. These regions include the Red River Valley, the state of North Dakota, the plains of North America (comprising both the Great Plains of the United States and the prairies of Canada), and comparable regions of other continents.” We do this via publications in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. With our Contemporary Voices of Indigenous Peoples series, we sometimes step out of region, but on the whole, our mission represents region as defined herein.

Still, on the topic of “region,” enter once again Mr. Woiwode. In a recent interview, Woiwode addresses an ever-burbling question about defining our particular region, with a push to include our region as an outlier of the Midwest. To this, Woiwode responds:

Once, talking heads and weather-people on TV became commonplace, the Midwest started to stretch from Pennsylvania to Nevada—perhaps because media people don’t often travel from their studios on the coasts. Iowa and Illinois and Indiana are at the heart of the Midwest, with Wisconsin and southern Michigan and perhaps western Ohio as participants, but northern Minnesota and North and South Dakota and Montana and Wyoming are definitely not the Midwest . . . Nebraska clings closer to South Dakota and Wyoming than any midwestern state, and the grounding in evidence and practicality of the area comes naturally, because many resident families were farmers or ranchers for generations. Neither occupation runs on theory.

I rejoice at this clarification, for it fits my own recognition of our region, and it clarifies how “comparable” regions might well be defined.

Woiwode’s next statement also lands squarely with my understanding of writers of region, based on my own research in memory and collective memory.

My sense is that a writer’s first steps onto terra firma, the place where the writer learns to walk, whether prairie or high plains or beach or forest or the floor of an apartment and on to concrete and asphalt, that place is the locus of creative power, even if never referred to—it’s the center and source of the words that arrive from one who travels the distance of a novel or collection of stories or enough poems to generate the microcosm of a genuine interior. The rhythms and the texture of the language of that place will always be present in all the creative work that follows.

Genius. That rhythm and texture, that locus of creative power in a work about region—these are the golden threads of what we seek in our publications, from chapbooks of poetry to the magnum opus of a book about turkeys that we have now in production.

 

Related notes:

Submissions to the Poetry of the Plains & Prairies Award will run January 17 through March 17. We seek collections of poetry, 30-35 pages in length (one poem per page; single poems may extend beyond one page) by a single author. There is no submission fee. Send manuscripts to NDSU Press Submission Manager (submittable.com)

Land of Sunlit Ice, by Larry Woiwode (2016, out of print). For more information on our chapbook projects, view Thunderbird & The Land of Sunlit Ice, produced by Sandbagger News.

Larry Woiwode has been North Dakota Poet Laureate since 1995. Born in Carrington, ND, he spent his early, formative years on the land in the farming community of Sykeston. He is widely (and wildly successfully!) published with poetry, novels, biographies, essays, and memoirs.

Woiwode interview quotes from Middle West Review, Volume 8, Number 1, Fall 2021, p. 206.

Congratulations to Zach!

from Suzzanne Kelley, NDSU Press Publisher / Editor in Chief

It’s been a long haul this year for everyone, so when one among us still reaches his goals and in fine fashion, his efforts should be recognized. With this note, we celebrate Zach Vietz’s magnificent finish to his academic program as he is now among those who hold a master’s degree! After an articulate and splendid presentation describing his thesis project, he fielded questions from his committee admirably. I am especially gratified to note that Zach’s research is in the field of publishing. He not only contributed his physical labors and publicist’s acumen to the activities of NDSU Press, he is adding to the corpus of knowledge about publishing.

In addition to his academic program, Zach has served NDSU Press for two years as Publicist and Graduate Assistant in Publishing, and he is a graduate of the Certificate in Publishing. We’re delighted for his accomplishments; we’re sad he will be exiting the program. 

As announced by the chair of Zach’s committee . . .  

Please join me in congratulating Zachary Vietz on his successful MA Thesis defense earlier today. His thesis is titled, “Independent Press Awards: Diversity in Young Adult Literature Awards from 2010-2019.”

Zach’s MA committee members are:

Dr. Amy Gore (Chair), Assistant Professor of English
Dr. Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher at NDSU Press, Assistant Professor of Practice
Dr. Alison Graham-Bertolini, Associate Professor of English

Much thanks to his committee for their service, and many Huzzahs! to Zach for his accomplishments. I’ve attached a photo of our smiling faces.

Best,

Dr. Gore

Post-defense grins by all. Congratulations, Zachary Vietz!

NDSU Press Party Flier

6th Annual NDSU Press Party, March 4, 7 p.m.

from our friends at North Dakota State University Relations…

The annual NDSU Press Party, scheduled for Thursday, March 4, will be held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event, now in its 6th year, will feature readings by four NDSU Press authors and a presentation by the NDSU Press cover designer.

Participants are asked to register.

NDSU Press publisher Suzzanne Kelley is set to begin the party at 7 p.m.

“We’ll miss our Cat Sank Trio musician friends and the delicious hors d’oeuvres from NDSU Catering, but we’ll relish the opportunity to hear our authors share their inspirations for—and some passages from—their newest publications,” Kelley said. “Attendees will learn the secret code for discount prices and we’ll interrupt the program briefly for some giveaways, too.”

Her welcome will be followed by readings presented by:

• Denise Lajimodiere, who wrote “His Feathers Were Chains

• Paul Legler, who wrote “Half the Terrible Things

• Jamie Trosen, graphics artist, will give a talk on book cover design

• Carolyn Dahl, who wrote a book of poetry titled “A Muddy Kind of Love

• Timothy Murphy’s family and friends will read from his book “Hiking All Night

The NDSU Press Party is expected to conclude about 8:30 p.m.

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