from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, and Allan Burke, Retired Newspaper Publisher and Consultant/Operator for Our Chapbook Publication Projects
While our blog title for today sounds like a crime-fighting duo, in reality, we are talking about chapbook press operations. In a typical year, our Intro to Publishing students would be caravanning to Braddock, ND, where they would print hundreds of pages at the Braddock News Letterpress Museum. This year being atypical, however, we have implemented Plan B.
Thanks to the folks at Flash Printing in Bismarck and to operators and consultants Mike Frykman and Allan Burke, our interior pages for A Muddy Kind of Love are being letterpress printed on a Heidelberg with some regional history.
Flash Printing is the proud owner of a Heidelberg letterpress, which they usually use for numbering, perforating, scoring, and die cutting. This weekend, with two new ink rollers that Allan brought to Flash from the Braddock News Letterpress Museum (Braddock, ND), this project is Back to the Future for the press.
The Heidelberg was bought brand new by the monks of the Benedictine Monastery at Assumption Abbey, Richardton, and Flash is its second home. One or more of the Flash owners attended high school at the abbey, which once had both a high school and a college. Several of the Iron Men—from the South Central Threshing Association—who aid and abet the operations at Braddock News, also attended the abbey’s high school, and one was the general contractor for one or more buildings on the abbey’s campus. Braddock Letterpress Museum founders hold the abbey’s folder in storage, awaiting restoration.
Today, even as we write, Allan and Mike are letterpress printing the interior pages of A Muddy Kind of Love—the Poetry of the Plains & Prairies Award won by poet Carolyn A. Dahl—on the Heidelberg press. Through the magic of UPS overnight deliveries between Bismarck, Houston, and Fargo, we anticipate having fully printed, assembled, trimmed, and individually autographed and numbered copies available on December 10. Join Carolyn, Allan, Suzzanne, and our Intro to Publishing students on Saturday, December 12, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. CST for a visit with all and a book-launch-reading by Carolyn Dahl. You can register in advance for this meeting here. Free and open to the public.
Copies of A Muddy Kind of Love are available for pre-sales ordering at our NDSU Press online store.
About the author:
Carolyn Dahl was the Grand Prize winner in the national ARTlines2 poetry contest and a finalist in the PEN Texas Literary competition and the Malovrh-Fenlon Poetry Prize. Her chapbook, Art Preserves What Can’t Be Saved, won first place in the Press Women of Texas contest and the National Federation of Press Women’s Communications contest, chapbook division. She is the co-author of The Painted Door Opened: Poetry and Art, the author of three art books, and has been published in many anthologies and literary journals. Raised in Minnesota, she now writes from Texas where she raises monarch butterflies, sending them north to Midwest habitats. www.carolyndahlstudio.com.
A Muddy Kind of Love is the winner of the 2020 Poetry of the Plains & Prairies Award, hosted by North Dakota State University Press.
About the Intro to Publishing class:
Students—graduate and undergraduate—are able to gain experiential learning through our Intro to Publishing class, where they learn the history, business, and practice of small press publishing. The Intro is part of a series of required classes to earn our Certificate in Publishing, which is offered in conjunction with the day-to-day activities of NDSU Press. We could not take our usual class photo this year, as we only met face-to-face in small groups and at all the distance we could muster. Students from the class printed the covers for A Muddy Kind of Love on a Saturday in October using an 1890s Chandler & Price letterpress located at Hunter Times Museum, Bonanzaville, West Fargo. In light of our need to work at some distance, we invited Mikaila Norman to utilize her caricature-drawing skills to depict our chapbook project crew. If you are interested in earning the Certificate in Publishing offered via the daily activities of NDSU press, check out the descriptions here and here.
Top, left to right, Undergraduates: Meghan Arbegast, Jamie Askew, Grace Boysen, Megan Brown, Jake Elkin. Row 2: Abigail Keys, Shawnia Klug, Sydney Larson, Jack Payette, Corrine Redding. Row 3: Kiri Scott, Madeline Wright. Graduate students: Lis Fricker, Oliver Sime, Elle West. Row 4: Allan Burke and Mike Frykman (Press Operators/Consultants); Dr. Suzzanne Kelley (NDSU Press Publisher/Instructor), Kalley Miller (Teaching Assistant), Zachary Vietz (Graduate Assistant in Publicity and Press Operator/Consultant).
As shared by friend of NDSU Press, Allan Burke, retired newspaper publisher, assistant and consultant for our chapbook printing projects
Proclamation of Thanksgiving
This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders similar to this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.
Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She explained, “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”
Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states. President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale’s request immediately, unlike several of his predecessors, who ignored her petitions altogether. In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years as the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. George Washington was the first president to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, issuing his request on October 3, 1789, exactly 74 years before Lincoln’s.
The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary how he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State
Guest contribution by Sydney Larson
On September 8, 2020, the Midwest Independent Publishers Association presented an educational session called, “Hosting from Home.” Program Coordinator Jenna Kahly and Marketing Coordinator Hillary Stevens, both of the Lake Agassiz Regional Library (a seven-county library system in Minnesota) shared their experiences in hosting on-line readings. Our guest contributor, Sydney Larson, attended the virtual meeting and reflected upon what she gleaned from the session.
Since Covid-19 began, authors, publishers, libraries, and booksellers alike have been needing to adapt quickly and efficiently to the new technologically-driven society we’ve been forced to become.
When it comes to online book readings, most libraries–or at least libraries in the Lake Agassiz Regional Library network–prefer to use Facebook Live as their medium of choice. This is because a lot of the people who visit normal book readings and those who are patrons of the library already have a Facebook account. It is the platform that is most convenient for a large amount of the audience.
In addition to Facebook Live, they use a site called be.live, which allows the author to broadcast and talk to the Facebook Live audience. The benefit of having the book reading online is that it helps invite people from all over the country to visit, and the format makes it more convenient for people who wouldn’t normally come to their local library for said book reading.
To market a book reading, libraries and other interested forum hosts use multiple social media platforms. Some of the platforms include Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Publishers can help with the marketing of the book as well.
Reading from their books is important to authors, publishers, and booksellers because it is an active and informative way to promote and sell the author’s book. Publishers can get their names out there too, as well as help with the advertising, promotion, and sales of the book.
For the author, the benefits of book readings are straightforward and clear, and while most of those benefits have not changed through this new medium, online readings do have some drawbacks. In the past during book readings, libraries could help sell the author’s discussed book, but with the program now being online, authors have to take a little more agency in their book sales. If the author wanted a more hands-on approach, they could start to sell their book through a personal forum or website and send a link through the Live chat to the audience. There is potentially a chance for the author to get in contact with the library and work out an agreement for sales, but that is not a given for all libraries. Another option is for the author to get in contact with a local bookseller and work out an agreement where the author sends anyone who’s interested in buying their book to the local bookseller. The bookseller could take charge of the distribution and sales of the book in that town. In this way, the bookseller is directly impacted by the online reading work of that author. It must be noted, however, that any option the author, publisher, and/or bookseller takes, they still won’t be selling as many books as they would if the book reading was in person.
Book readings are useful to authors in another way, too. Book readings are chances for readers to probe the author’s mind and have them answer anything readers need clarification on. It can help the author and publisher to know what area of the novel needs elaboration, or other suggestions the readers might offer (if the author feels it would improve the book). Book readings also help make the author more relatable and allow readers to get to know the author and book better.
This article is contributed by Sydney Larson, a Junior at NDSU, double majoring in English and Anthropology, with minors in Honors and Zoology. She is pictured here at the fortress of Bourtzi in Napflio, Greece, during a two-week study abroad experience in 2019. Sydney is a student in the Introduction to Publishing course, a required course for the Certificate in Publishing at NDSU.
Publisher note from Suzzanne Kelley
*If you are a letterpress printer, please see my purple note at the end of this message.
Since 2016, the NDSU Intro to Publishing students, working with NDSU Press, have had the chance to learn how to operate turn-of-the-20th-century letterpresses. We begin with a Saturday at Hunter Times, a museum located in West Fargo at Bonanzaville. Having learned about Chandler & Price letterpresses and safety measures, students take a turn at letterpress printing. Allan Burke–an expert in all matters about letterpress history and operations–provides a tour, and then in small-group format, students begin the process of letterpress printing the chapbook covers for the current winner of our Poetry of Plains and Prairies Award.
Later in the semester, on a Friday afternoon, we load up a caravan of cars and head for The Braddock News Letterpress Museum, located on the vast grounds of the South Central Threshing Association. The drive is about two-and-a-half hours from campus, and for some of my students, it is the farthest west they’ve ever been.
On Friday night, our host, Allan Burke, gives the students yet another tour. The Braddock News Letterpress Museum is home to multiple pieces of equipment dating from the late 1800s to the 1950s. Here, the students have hands-on access to Chandler & Price letterpresses, a 1940s stitcher, and a trimmer, dating also from the turn of the 20th century.
Following our museum tour, we dine sumptuously courtesy of the Threshers Association Iron Men and board officers, some of whom do the welcoming, cooking, serving, and cleaning. Initial printing begins after supper.
The students learn about moveable type, and we generally put that knowledge to work when we print our covers. For printing the interior, however, we do resort to some modernization. It would take too long to set type for the forty interior pages, so we order up raised-magnesium printing plates instead. Each plate prints two pages on one side of a sheet of paper. When the papers dry, we can flip them over to print two more pages.
We start this enterprise as amateurs, and we finish as proficient Devils Printers…the official name for our interns with experience under their belts and ink under their fingernails.
In this, the year of the pandemic, our options for continuation of this splendid enterprise have become limited for the production of our newest addition to the chapbook series, A Muddy Kind of Love, by Carolyn Dahl. We must cut out our trip to Braddock. We’ll still meet face-to-face in small groups (optional, not required) at Hunter Times to print our covers for the newest addition to our chapbook series. Our current plan (subject to revision) is to hire a professional letterpress printer to print and assemble the interior. If you or someone you know fits the bill, please contact Suzzanne Kelley post haste for details. Contact information is available at our website.
Publicist note from Zachary Vietz
Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes when designing a book cover? There is a lot of planning, design, and deliberation going on before a cover makes its debut appearance.
Let’s take a sneak peek.
The Creative Brief
Before anything concrete takes form, the book team first reads the title a few times, taking notes of emotions, imagery, symbols, colors, and other touchstone and descriptive aspects from the story. These notes are used to make a creative brief that is then sent along to our designer. The book team might be just Dr. Kelley and me, but as a teaching press, we have our fair share of book teams comprised of students in our publishing courses at NDSU.
Here you can see parts of a creative brief, the book team being NDSU Publishing students, made for our upcoming title Half the Terrible Things by Paul Legler:
Colors that came to mind are:
- pale yellow gold
- dark green, but not a healthy green
- red of sandhill crane/red crest on face
- cypress trees
- use of manure for insulation
- oppressive swamp bugs
- boils and wounds
- man’s eyeball the size of a softball (from being beaten)
- sand hill cranes
- trains, train tracks, roads
From the Designer to the Team
Once we send the creative brief to the designers, we let them do their artistic thing. Depending on how many projects a designer has, we expect to see draft designs within a few weeks. The book team will first receive from the designer around three potential cover images to look over. The job of the book team at this point is to choose what they do and do not like about the cover images, how they may be improved, and other design aspects as appropriate. Keep in mind, these initial images are not the finished product, and the team’s feedback helps to shape the final cover image.
Here you can see some of the initial cover images sent to us by our very own award-winning designer Jamie Hohnadel Trosen:
The Final Product
After receiving our feedback, the designer goes to work and eventually comes to us with a finished product. This is the culmination of the book team reading over and distilling the main concepts and emotion from the title, and a skilled designer who can put our words and concepts into imagery.
It is quite the pairing of skills, and you can see the results below. We hope you like it.
Half the Terrible Things by Paul Legler will be available in November 2020.
This article is contributed by Zachary Vietz, Graduate Assistant in Publishing. Zach specializes in publicity and marketing. He is now in the third semester of his Master’s in English program at North Dakota State University.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Moderator: Jeanne K. Ode, Acting Press Director and Managing Editor of South Dakota History, South Dakota State Historical Society Press
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
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
Paper 3: Doing History in Grassy Places. Thomas D. Isern, University Distinguished Professor and Professor of History, North Dakota State University
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.
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.