When an Author Hits Gold

Publisher note from Suzzanne Kelley

Sometimes a first-time author strikes gold. Such is the way with Rebecca Bender, whose book, Still (NDSU Press, 2019), has been raking in the awards and whose essays and poems are now seeing publication in national newsletters and magazines. Much to her (and our) delight, her work is even cited in other works of scholarship, such as historian David Moon’s The American Steppes: The Unexpected Russian Roots of Great Plains Agriculture, 1870s-1930s (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Rebecca Bender in ND Sunflower Field in November by Lincoln Bernhard

Rebecca recently won the Gold Medal in the category of Religion & Philosophy from the Midwest Independent Publishers Association’s Midwest Book Awards. Prizewinners compete in a twelve-state region, so her recognition is phenomenal. Still also won First Place in the internationally-competitive Independent Press Award for Judaism.

Rebecca will be the first to tell you that she did not win these awards on her own. She shares authorship with her late father, Kenneth M. Bender (1916-2006). During the last two years of his life, he hand-wrote page after page of his vivid memories. Rebecca typed up his notes with the agreed-upon compensation at the end of each of their working sessions: a shared chocolate milkshake. His and her memories, her exhaustive research and attention to detail reveal a splendid little-known history of Jewish families on the northern plains.

FINAL Penultimate Cover

I will be the first to tell you that Rebecca’s recognition is the result of hard work. I first met her as she and a community of celebrants from across the United States met in the town of Ashley, ND. Rebecca’s efforts had resulted in the successful nomination of the Ashley Jewish Cemetery to the National Register of Historic Places. Rebecca shared the fruits of her research that day in a wonderful story (that included a skit, a song, and a sit-down dinner). I expressed my hope that she would work on a larger project; I am grateful that she was already thinking along those lines.

A former securities litigator in Minnesota, Rebecca has always enjoyed history and hearing uplifting stories, taking pride in family and Jewish traditions, feeling gratefulness and appreciation for life in America, where she and her son are free to practice their religion and to work hard to achieve their goals.

You can read Rebecca’s most recent essay, published July 23, 2020, by the Jewish Book Council, here: Gold from the Prairie, by Rebecca E. Bender.

About Still

More than four hundred Russian and Romanian Jewish homesteaders settled on about eighty-five farms in McIntosh County, North Dakota, beginning in 1905. After clearing rocks and boulders, growing wheat and flax, raising cattle and chickens, and selling cream from their sod houses, most were successful enough to own their own land.

Still is a history of five generations, a family we meet first as they flee Odessa and last as they make their ways as American Jews…and as Dakota farmers, as students and storekeepers, as soldiers and lawyers, and even as a teen in an international competition who stands face-to-face with Netanyahu. Rebecca Bender and Kenneth Bender answer the question recently posed to Rebecca by a newspaper reporter: Are you still Jewish?

Still is available through online sites and at your favorite independent bookstore, as well as direct from North Dakota State University Press.

 

The Folk School on Willow Creek

Publisher note from Suzzanne Kelley

Welcome to the Folk School on Willow Creek, featuring University Distinguished Professor Tom Isern, singing and telling stories from the Salon on Willow Creek. Every Friday evening, 8:00 p.m. Central Time, Isern belts out ballads and tells the backstories of the lyrics, the authors, and the people of the plains who sang the songs. This Friday, July 25, he’ll feature “The Letter Edged in Black.” Do you know the significance of the edging? Tune in . . . you’ll find out. The Folk School lasts about 30 minutes, but you’ll wish it lasted longer. This week’s program is the 14th in the series.

Here is a link to Prairie Public’s Main Street, where host Doug Hamilton interviewed Isern just this week about the Folk School.

And here is a link to the Folk School page on Facebook.

2020-07-17 20.14.19

Literary Aspirations on the Northern Plains

Publisher note from Suzzanne Kelley

In late September, NDSU Press will be visible in multiple sessions and responsibilities at the 55th Northern Great Plains History Conference for 2020. Too bad for all of us, our sessions will be virtual, but I still look forward to witnessing the splendid work from scholars across the United States and Canada. While the conference is by necessity going virtual, its home base will still be Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the sacred and ancestral lands of the Ojibwe and Dakota Nations.

Two of our NDSU Press authors and I will present papers in the session called Literary Aspirations on the Northern Plains, wherein…

Prairie scholars describe and reflect upon their literary aspirations and their place in the history of the northern plains. The first author examines the seventy-year history of publishing by the Institute for Regional Studies; the emergence of its publishing imprint, North Dakota State University Press; and its vision as the voice of the prairies and the plains. The second author reflects on his ambitions and audacity in roasting that great chestnut of regional history, the Nonpartisan League. The third author considers how best to invigorate the familiar genre of collected essays in the realm of regional literary nonfiction.

Here are the session participants:

Jeanne Ode

Jeanne K. Ode

 

 

 

Moderator: Jeanne K. Ode, Acting Press Director and Managing Editor of South Dakota History, South Dakota State Historical Society Press

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Suzzanne Kelley

Paper 1: “Serving, not only the scholarly world, but the world in which the scholar lives”: North Dakota State University Press Celebrates 70 Years. Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher and Assistant Professor of Practice

 

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Terry L. Shoptaugh

Paper 2: Roasting a Chestnut: Historians Return to the Nonpartisan League. Terry L. Shoptaugh, Archivist and Professor of History (Ret’d.), Minnesota State University–Moorhead

 

Tom

Thomas D. Isern

Paper 3: Doing History in Grassy Places. Thomas D. Isern, University Distinguished Professor and Professor of History, North Dakota State University

 

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David Grettler

 

 

Commentator: David Grettler, Professor of History, Northern Sate University, South Dakota

 

 

 

 

We invite YOU to attend the session and/or the whole conference, September 16-19, 2020. Follow along for updates here: 2020 Northern Great Plains History Conference.

NGPHC

5th Annual NDSU Press Party & 70th Anniversary

70 Logo for Website

Hear ye! Hear ye!

NDSU Press is pleased to announce our 5th Annual NDSU Press Party is about to commence! Free and open to the public, hors d’oeuvres and cash bar, music and readings, prose and poetry, cake—who could ask for more? Well, what the heck, since it’s our 70th anniversary, let’s throw in a 25 percent discount on book purchases and some door prizes, too!

When: Thursday, March 5, 2020, from 7 PM – 9 PM
Where: Harry D. McGovern Alumni Center, 1241 University Dr N, Fargo, ND

This year’s featured titles and authors:

  • Stringing Rosaries: The History, the Unforgivable, and the Healing of Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors, by Denise K. Lajimodiere
  • Sons of the Wild Jackass: The Nonpartisan League in North Dakota, by Terry L. Shoptaugh
  • Girl on a Float, by Brian Bedard
  • Harvest Widows, by Nick Bertelson
  • The Mammals of North Dakota, Second Edition, by Robert Seabloom
  • Pacing Dakota, Audio Version, by Thomas Isern and produced by Amanda Watts

NDSU Press aims to stimulate and coordinate interdisciplinary scholarship throughout the Red River Valley, state of North Dakota and the plains of North America. The press publishes peer-reviewed scholarship shaped by national or international events and comparative studies. NDSU Press operates under the umbrella of the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies.

This project is supported in part by generous donors to the NDSU Press Fund; the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; and a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

NDCA Be Legendary logo PNG           NDSU.Press_1

Yellow Wolf: A National Park Service Superintendent’s Story

We’re proud to be among the hosts for this presentation by Dr. Gerard Baker, Yellow Wolf (Hidatsa-Mandan). Baker, former National Park Service head of American Indian Relations, will give his talk, titled “Yellow Wolf: A National Park Service Superintendent’s Story,” starting at 7 p.m. in Room 230 of NDSU’s Minard Hall. This event is free and open to the public.

Hosted by NDSU departments, organizations, and college:

  • Faculty Senate Native American Ad Hoc Committee’

  • Office of Multicultural Programs
  • NDSU Press
  • Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies
  • Department of Anthropology and Sociology
  • College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Gerard Baker poster

5th Annual NDSU Press Party & 70th Birthday

70 Logo for Website

Hear ye! Hear ye!

NDSU Press is pleased to announce our 5th Annual NDSU Press Party is about to commence! Free and open to the public, hors d’oeuvres and cash bar, music and readings, prose and poetry, cake—who could ask for more? Well, what the heck, since it’s our 70th birthday, let’s throw in a 25 percent discount on book purchases and some door prizes, too!

When: Thursday, March 5, 2020, from 7 PM – 9 PM
Where: Harry D. McGovern Alumni Center, 1241 University Dr N, Fargo, ND

This year’s featured titles and authors:

  • Stringing Rosaries: The History, the Unforgivable, and the Healing of Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors, by Denise K. Lajimodiere
  • Sons of the Wild Jackass: The Nonpartisan League in North Dakota, by Terry L. Shoptaugh
  • Girl on a Float, by Brian Bedard
  • Harvest Widows, by Nick Bertelson
  • The Mammals of North Dakota, Second Edition, by Robert Seabloom
  • Pacing Dakota, Audio Version, by Thomas Isern and produced by Amanda Watts

NDSU Press aims to stimulate and coordinate interdisciplinary scholarship throughout the Red River Valley, state of North Dakota and the plains of North America. The press publishes peer-reviewed scholarship shaped by national or international events and comparative studies. NDSU Press operates under the umbrella of the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies.

This project is supported in part by generous donors to the NDSU Press Fund; the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; and a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

NDCA Be Legendary logo PNG           NDSU.Press_1

Apple in the Middle Wins National Recognition

Our first publication in the NDSU Press Contemporary Voices of Indigenous Peoples series, Apple in the Middle, by author Dawn Quigley, has won national recognition from the American Indian Library Association (AILA), an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA).

The inaugural AILA award, which will be announced in even years, identifies and honors the best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. This new award joins other long-standing awards–such as the John Newberry Medal and the Randolph Caldecott Medal–under the umbrella of the ALA.

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Dawn Quigley, author of award-winning Apple in the Middle (NDSU Press 2018) / Photo by Brook Wood, http://www.tadpolephoto.com

Dawn Quigley, with her debut novel, is in fine company with three other authors–all four recognized as the first-ever American Indian Youth Literature Young Adult Book Honor winners:

  • Surviving the City, written by Tasha Spillett (Nehiyaw-Trinidadian), illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Métis Nation of British Columbia) (Highwater Press);
  • Reawakening Our Ancestors’ Lines: Revitalizing Inuit Traditional Tattooing, gathered and compiled by Angela Hovak Johnston (Inuk), with photography by Cora De Vos (Inuk) (Inhabit);
  • An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People, written by Debbie Reese (Nambé Owingeh) and Jean Mendoza, adapted from the adult book by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press);
  • and Apple in the Middle, written by Dawn Quigley (Ojibwe, Turtle Mountain Band) (North Dakota State University Press)

The first place winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Award in the Young Adult category is Hearts Unbroken, written by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee) (Candlewick Press).

Dawn Quigley writes, “So honored that NDSU Press and Suzzanne Kelley said ‘Yes’ to my book, Apple in the Middle!! Miigwech to everyone at the press who worked on this…And the amazing cover art by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen!”

Within minutes of the announcement, our NDSU Press office began receiving phone calls with congratulations and book orders. We are SO PLEASED for Dawn and for this incredible attention to the North Dakota State University Press.

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Apple in the Middle, by Dawn Quigley / Cover illustration and design by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen / Interior design by Deb Tanner

Regional and national articles featuring an announcement about our newest NDSU Press award:

Publishers Weekly

Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Now Accepting Submissions for the NDSU Press 2020 POPP Award

We’re looking for poetry! NDSU Press has opened its 2020 submissions portal for our Poetry of the Plains and Prairies (POPP) Award!

North Dakota State University Press seeks poetry submissions of any style for our annual POPP Award chapbook publication. While the author(s) 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 POPP Award submissions date ends March 17, 2020. Please follow our NDSU Press Submittable link for details.

NDSU Press publishing interns print the 2019 POPP Award chapbook, Harvest Widows, by Nick Bertelson (Missouri Valley, IA) at The Braddock News Letterpress Museum.

“Bestsellers Born in Social Media”

from Suzzanne Kelley, PhD; Publisher at NDSU Press

While peeling apples and baking pie Saturday, I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, Beyond the Book, hosted by Copyright Clearance Center. Their hot topic, “Bestsellers Born in Social Media” (September 1), focuses on an interview with an agent, talking about how publishers must encourage their authors to have some sort of social media platform. Better yet, authors should have a solid social media platform before even submitting their manuscripts. Yes!

Some authors are daunted by the prospect. After all, much of their authorial life requires working solo, and now we’re asking them to go public. My takeaway from the podcast, however, is that being an author IS being public. Editors make editorial and business evaluations. (Ahhh, but that we could only stick to the editorial!) Paraphrasing commentary from the podcast, publishing is at heart “a business of the gut,” but in order to be successful, it must also be a business. As such, publishers must consider the marketing prospects for any manuscript.

If you are a writer, and you have hopes of adding “published author” to your resume, start working on your social media platform now. Common practice invites authors to begin with a website. As you add content to your web presence, that content can easily be transported to your other social media domains. Starting with a website is not the easiest platform, although free website hosts like WordPress do make the process a good starting place. My preference, my comfort zone, is with  easy-to-use social media like Facebook, but I also highly recommend creating an author page on Goodreads.

It doesn’t matter where you begin, only that you start. Here is a list of the platforms I’ve found most productive and easiest to use, with hopes in the near future to add podcasting in the mix.

  1. Facebook
  2. WordPress
  3. Twitter
  4. Goodreads
  5. Instagram
  6. Pinterest

The best way to start, of course, is to start! Here are some examples of easy social media posting commentary:

  • Testing out a few lines of poetry? Say so. Maybe even include a phrase or a line.
  • Writing from your favorite nook? Say so. Maybe include a picture of your space, possibly with you in it!
  • Visiting the archives and finding some fabulous document supporting your argument? Say so. And include a cell phone pic (if allowed . . . mind the archival site rules).
  • Out for an evening stroll and spying a beautiful sunset? Say so. And include a cell phone pic.
  • Enjoying a dinner out with friends? Say so. And include a cell phone pic.
  • Working on obtaining blurbs for your new book? Say so.
  • Corresponding with your publisher? Say so. You can include a pic of our logo or a link to our website http://www.ndsupress.org. 🙂
  • Feeling angst about posting on Twitter? Say so. Blame it on your publisher.
  • Having an author photo made? Say so. And include the pic.
  • For more ideas & to build up your following, follow other social media users . . . like us, at NDSU Press.

Bitter Harvest

from Suzzanne Kelley, PhD; Publisher at NDSU Press

Imagine my surprise to open The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and find its announcement that it has “been here for 127 years,” showcasing their longevity with a shootout in Medina. It’s been a while since this ad appeared, and even longer since NDSU Press published the hard story of Bitter Harvest: Gordon Kahl and the Posse Comitatus, Murder in the Heartland, by James Corcoran, in 2005. Bitter Harvest is based on Corcoran’s Pulitzer Prize nominated coverage of the murders of three U.S. Marshals by a militant tax protest group.

TheForum.jpg

At the time of Bitter Harvest‘s publication, I was working on my PhD in history and holding an editorial fellowship with the publishing arm of the Institute for Regional Studies (now NDSU Press). I was planning a drive out to Kulm, ND, to conduct an interview for my dissertation, and Dean Tom Riley (now retired), who was director of the press at that time, asked me to shoot some pictures near Medina, where two decades earlier a deadly shootout occurred between the law and anti-taxer Gordon Kahl and other members of the Posse Comitatus. Federal marshals died, Kahl’s son was mortally wounded, and Kahl made his escape. (I won’t tell you how this story ends except to say it’s not pretty.)

There was not much to photograph that told a story, to my way of thinking. But Riley assured me that the cover designer would make something of my pictures. And so she did, capturing the stark stretch of highway where the shooting took place.

Bitter Harvest_Cover

From the book’s publicity copy, we learn: “James Corcoran tells the story of Gordon Kahl and the Posse Comitatus, using captivating narrative and vivid imagery. Sunday, February 13, 1983, was a sunny day in Medina, North Dakota–a seemingly peaceful church-going winter day. But hate politics were broiling in secret locations and the Heartland provided cover for those who wanted to take the law into their own hands. ‘Something terrible, and terribly important, was taking place,’ writes Corcoran. Ever a page-turner, reflect again on this story of violence and how a group of people can construct an alternative version of the law and the truth.”

1983. Not that long ago. A story still relevant today, even as it makes an appearance in a newspaper ad.

Movies, documentaries, and songs followed in the months and years–some showing Kahl a villain, some making him out as a martyr.

Bitter Harvest was first published by Penguin Press published in the 1990s and then by NDSU Press in 2005 with a new foreword by North Dakota journalist Mike Jacobs, former publisher of Grand Forks Herald.

Bitter Harvest: Gordon Kahl and the Posse Comitatus Murder in the Heartland is available at our online store.

More resources:
Altered Lives: Stories from the Medina Tragedy, documentary by Prairie Public, 2016
Death & Taxes, documentary, 1993