We had such a great time at Press Publish Portland last Saturday, and it’s been amazing to read the recaps posted by our attendees. We’ve collected all we could find via Twitter and pingbacks so you can check out what Press Publish attendees (both in-person and via live stream) have to say about their experience at the event:
Cano-Murillo, known as the ‘Crafty Chica’ and for her line of craft products, has delved into the writing world to create one of the most lively, imaginative novels I’ve run across lately. Full of humor, love, friendship and some pretty cool art projects, Waking Up in the Land of Glitter will have readers howling one minute, sobbing the next, and reaching for their trusty glue guns to create their very own ‘love shrines’ before the end of the book. This novel was just a delightful glittery, shiny, light-hearted treat.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal )
Letters for my Little Sister began as a real letter that Cecilia began writing to her little sister to help her sister navigate the journey of aging and menopause. Their mother died when they were young, and there was no one to give them this very personal advice. She realized the taboo and silence around this subject, and was struck with inspiration midway through: What if she could open up this subject, ask other women to contribute their stories and experiences, and bring light and warmth to a subject many fear talking or asking about. This book was born out of their overwhelming and wonderful response.
Comedy writer Mahoney struggled with his gay identity while growing up and, after settling into his career, stumbled through the process of coming out. He had long ago conceded that it was unlikely he could ever merge his desire for a life as an openly gay man and having a family life. Then he had the good fortune, after a torturous introduction to gay dating in L.A., to find a loving partner equally interested in being a parent. The couple set about actually trying to have a family and learned of the numerous obstacles facing gay couples. They decided on gestational surrogacy with donated eggs to avoid genetic ties and legal controversy. Thus began a two-year process filled with ups and downs, from being interviewed to determine their suitability to interviewing to find the right egg donor and surrogate, with friends and family on hand to witness every setback and triumph. The roller coaster of drama and comedy ends in the birth of their twins. Mahoney is equally heartfelt and hilarious in this chronicle of modern parenthood. –Booklist
After their talks, each of these writers will hold a book signing in the Happiness Lounge. Don’t miss the chance to meet Kathy, Cecilia, and Jerry and get signed copies of their books!
Can you tell how excited we are about Press Publish happening this weekend in Portland? Because we are. Really. A lot. 🙂
As a Portland native, I wish that everyone could come to my beautiful hometown and enjoy this event in person, but I know travel can be expensive and difficult to arrange. That said, this is the first Press Publish ever, and we’re very eager to get as much feedback on the program as we can.
Tell your friends! Heck, invite some people over for a viewing party, plan a potluck, and make a day of it! Portland loves a potluck. We want everyone to enjoy the great content we’ve got planned for Saturday — the more the merrier. If you can’t be in Portland on Saturday, I hope you’ll join us via livestream. It’s going to be brilliant! Allons-y!
The two of us have spent several years editing writers with a wide range of experience, and here’s your chance to get some one-on-one time with us. Having a second pair of eyes on your work will help you become a better writer. No writer is perfect — the majority of your favorite writers have editors who make sure their copy is clean and that their work is structurally and narratively strong. We’ll do the same for you by looking at grammar, tone, style, introductions and endings, and how to write concisely and avoid meandering.
If you’re interested in attending this workshop, you’ll benefit the most by preparing some writing for us to look over and critique. Have a specific blog post ready for us to look at, or better yet, drop a post URL below in the comments section now so we can prepare some critiques in advance. We’ll also have a piece or two on hand to go over as examples if you’re more interested in observing.
Either way, we’re looking forward to seeing you and your work!
Oh, Portland. Do we have some great stuff in store for you this weekend! “Yeah Andrea,” you say, “we already know all about the great speakers and sessions on the schedule. What more could we possibly need?”
Why the Happiness Lounge, of course! 🙂 At Press Publish Portland on March 28, one great big room will be staffed all day by real, live Happiness Engineers, ready and waiting to help you, personally, get the most out of your WordPress site. Bring in your questions, doubts, and idle musings about using WordPress, and get advice from people who help people with WordPress as their full-time job.
Got a problem with your sidebar, footer, or donate button? Trying to figure out how to get your blog to do that thing other people’s blogs do? Need advice on Jetpack, Polldaddy, VaultPress, themes, or plugins? They can help you with all that and more!
Need a new t-shirt, water bottle, battery pack, coffee mug, or sweatshirt to help you show off how much you love WordPress? We’ll have a swag store, too, where you can buy WordPress apparel for kids and adults. Need a new Gravatar? We’ll have people with some great cameras on hand to shoot a spiffy new picture of you!
And if all you crave is a little quiet time to relax, charge up your phone, and maybe have a cup of coffee with your fellow bloggers, the Happiness Lounge will have a charging station and plenty of space to gather, chat, and rest.
We can’t wait to see all you Press Publish Portland attendees this Friday and Saturday!
Do you ever dream of publishing a book? If so, you’re not alone — getting published is a dream shared by a lot of bloggers (including me!). So I’m especially jazzed to be moderating the From Blog to Book panel discussion planned for Press Publish Portland, considering how many of our featured bloggers either have already published books or have books coming out this year.
Mary Laura Philpott, Cecilia Gunther, Jerry Mahoney, Christine Lee, and Ananda Leeke will join me on stage in Portland on Saturday, March 28 to talk about how each of them came to publish a book (or books) and how blogging influenced their journey to publication. From self-publishing to multiple book deals with major publishing labels, these bloggers will share about a lot of the ways books are born in this new age of print media.
I know I’m dying to ask these folks a bunch of things, but I want to know what you’re curious about, too! If you would like to suggest questions for the panel, please leave them in the comments — note that we won’t answer them here, we’ll save it for the panel discussion at the Portland event.
By the way, if you’re in or near Portland, tickets are still available for Press Publish, and they come with a WordPress.com Premium upgrade or VaultPress Backup Bundle — a $99 value!
Nancy Rommelmann writes for The Wall Street Journal, the LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times and other publications. She is the author of The Bad Mother, a novel, The Queens of Montague Street, a digital memoir of growing up in 1970s Brooklyn that was chosen as a Top 10 Longreads in 2012 and excerpted in The New York Times Magazine, and the story collection, Transportation. Destination Gacy, about her trip to interview serial killer John Wayne Gacy, was released as an ebook in 2014. She is currently at work on To the Bridge, the story of Amanda Stott-Smith, who threw her two young children from a bridge in Portland, Oregon. Her website is nancyrommelmann.com
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Aaron Scott recently started producing Oregon Public Broadcasting’s weekly arts and culture show, State of Wonder. Before joining OPB, he was a senior editor at Portland Monthly, orchestrating the magazine’s arts coverage and reporting narrative features. He has also filed award-winning stories for Out Magazine, Radiolab and This American Life. He has only told one story before a live audience, about his first relationship, which lasted a whole weekend in a D.C. hotel during a youth activism conference. Somehow, Ani DiFranco lyrics were involved.
To say Christine is a veteran blogger is an understatement. She’s had a website since 1993, and has been blogging since before WordPress — heck, since before the term “blog” was coined! With more than 20 years of online writing under her belt, Christine says, “Blogging kept me writing.”
Christine’s experience of interacting with the community built online is unique. In 2006, she started a blog under a pseudonym. A few months later, at the age of 33, she suffered a stroke. She didn’t recognize her symptoms as a stroke, but she knew something was off. A few days later, she wrote:
something in my brain burped. most of what i want to do is just out of my grasp. i feel like i know how to do them, but then when i go to do them, i just…CAN’T. day by day, i’m regaining my abilities, so i hope this is just temporary.
When I was going through stroke recovery, I felt incredibly alone. Each stroke is unique, so that just furthers the isolation. And while recovering, I basically sat shiva for the person I lost, unready to face the person I’d become. So if this piece eases that solitary for others, I’m so happy.
Christine recently signed a deal with Ecco Press, an imprint of Harper Collins, to publish two books: WHOLE, based on her BuzzFeed essay, chronicling the debilitating stroke she suffered at the age of 33 and her subsequent transformation; and THE GOLEM OF SEOUL, which follows two Korean immigrants in 1970s New York City in search of a lost relative who take a cue from Jewish mythology and make a golem from Korean soil. We’re so happy for her!
Get to know Christine a little bit better by reading the traditional Speaker Spotlight interview:
Q. What made you start blogging at jadepark.wordpress.com?
A. While my current main WordPress blog is part of my author website, and relatively new, and I had a blog before that at czilka.wordpress.com, I’ll define my main blog as jadepark.wordpress.com, where I blogged anonymously in the wake of my stroke. I started blogging at “Writing Under a Pseudonym” as a place where I could write without judgment, without high stakes, and where I could chronicle my recovery. I didn’t have an agenda other than it be a semi-private space where I could be honest and frank and speak my mind in the wake of trauma.
Q. What kept you (and still keeps you) posting regularly?
A. Engagement with my readership. The writing. There’s twitter, but I’ve always blogged, because it’s the blog where I feel I have more liberty. Also, my blog is key to refining my voice as a writer, especially with my nonfiction.
Q. What’s your most popular post? Is that also your favorite post? If not, what are a few of your favorite posts, and why?
A. When I first had my stroke, I put up a blog post. It was an aphasia-ridden nonsensical post, and it was a very short post. It has since become my most popular post—and in a sense, it is also my favorite. In so many ways, it is genuine, because I lost the ability to organize thoughts and filter information.
Q. How have readers responded to your writing?
A. The response to my writing has been phenomenal. I have made lifelong friends from my blog once I came out from behind the curtain—and it has driven so much support for my narrative.
Q. Is there anything you’re hoping to share with the Press Publish audience? Is there anything you’re hoping to learn at Press Publish?
A. Well–! I’ve got a literary agent now, and I’m writing a memoir about my stroke. Jade Park; Writing Under a Pseudonym has been an invaluable resource as I write my book, because my memory was very affected in the wake of the stroke. That I wrote everything down has been helpful in recovering facts. At Press Publish, I just hope to connect with others, and promote blogging.
Once upon an time, in a land across the oceans, a girl named Cecilia was born. If that sounds like the start of a fairy tale, it’s on purpose. Though speaker Cecilia Gunther’s life hasn’t actually been a fairy tale, its zigs and zags have been so fascinating that it could easily be written up and sold as fiction.
Mother of five. High school drama teacher. Director. Photographer. Film industry professional in London. Quite honestly, any of those roles could be easily be a subject tackled by a script developer (another former career), but the shift from where she was to where she is now — down home on the farm in Illinois, growing her own food and raising animals with the moral support of her blog’s community of farmers — sounds like the kind of Amazon or BBC series I’d binge-watch in a weekend (well, if the writing was good, obviously).
We discovered Cecilia when we asked on the WordPress.com official Hot Off the Press blog if readers could suggest any great bloggers that we should consider for Press Publish. We’re so glad someone brought her to our attention! Her photographs are amazing, and seeing the connections that have formed in her commenting community is an example of the social richness that blogging can bring into your life.
But back to that fairy tale… this isn’t the first time Cecilia has been on the farm. As a teenager, she came to the U.S. as an exchange student. Cue a meet cute on the farm followed love, loss, travel, and all the other things that come with living. Fast forward a few decades to London, reconnection, more love and travel and another wedding, and back to the farm! I’m leaving out lots of details, but you get the idea that Cecilia has kind of an incredible story, right? Don’t worry, she’s going to tell you all about how she wound up where she is, and how her blog has helped her succeed and make great friends along the way. You won’t want to miss this session, and you definitely don’t want to miss her photographs!
Here’s our usual interview to help you get to know Cecilia, and you can also chat with her in her community conversation on how blogs evolve over time.
A. I came to live in the Midwest of America from London (though I am a New Zealander) about nine years ago. I was used to being surrounded in people and the prairies felt very wide and very lonely. Not being happy with the food in the supermarkets I decided to grow my own food embracing the challenge of self sufficiency. I took advantage of the land around my house and began to grow my own food. I started blogging to document the development of my little piece of land, taking photographs so that my own grown children and friends who do not live anywhere near closeby, could still drop in on any given day and see what I had been up to. I continue to blog with a growing readership of like-minded and very clever individuals who are always ready to help a lady farmer.
Q. What kept you (and still keeps you) posting regularly?
A. I promised myself and them that I would tell the truth of every day and that every post was about what happened yesterday and that the images would be what I saw that day. When I travel I take the readers with me, but 99 percent of the posts are just me pottering through an ordinary day farming, raising and cooking my own food using old fashioned methods. Mostly Organic. Mostly sustainable. Always tasty.
I post every day at about the same time. So, routine has a lot to do with the continued posting of the blog. I work on the images in the evening and write and post early morning – usually around dawn just before I go out to start my chores. The blog is a soap opera. Slow moving, the dialogue is not terribly challenging and there are lots of pretty pictures. I have made it easy for myself. And easy for my readers too.
Also the blog has developed a life of its own. All day as I work in the fields and the barns, usually completely alone but for the animals, I find myself collecting images and anecdotes to tell my readers the next morning. The blog itself has become a dialogue, my cup of tea. I guess you could call my readers my neighbours and we meet for a cup of tea together every day. I am no longer lonely out here.
Q. What’s your most popular post? Is that also your favorite post? If not, what are a few of your favourite posts and why.
A. Do you remember the morning we skyped (when you were at the beach in Hawaii and I was at the beach in New Zealand) and you asked me what my favourite post was? I was totally stumped. Each post is a continuation of yesterday’s post, they work as a unit (I have had new readers start at the beginning of this blog’s life and read every single post to get up to date) and I have TOO MANY favourites because few posts stand alone.
Firstly the most popular post (which is not my favorite post by the way).
How to Steam Eggs — No Need to Boil at All. This post is an old post in the previous free WordPress format so it has been squeezed into my new format and is now kind of awkward. But many people seem to want to know how to steam eggs!
Also for you, with the help of my readers, here are three good favourite posts that might help you get a handle on what my blog is all about.
My Enemy. We had been having trouble with an animal killing chickens and I had put a wildlife motion activated camera into the hen house to see what was doing it. This is the day we realised that we were up against minks. I chose this one as it is in fact an ordinary post about the day to day running of an old fashioned farm but shows the drama of ordinary farm life and the dangers faced by pasture-raised animals.
The Day I Almost Married the Marlboro Man. I wrote a series of stories about my life as a child growing up on a beach. These rose from the ‘I can’t do it because I don’t know how’ discussion. Many of my readers were saying that they could not do what I do. They could not grow their own food because they had never done it before. One of the main aims of this blog is to show that we can all be involved in the growing of our own food — no matter what our background is — even if it is only herbs on the windowsill. I did not grow up on a farm you see. I grew up literally just above high tide on a beach. Laying about in the sand. The day I met the Marlboro Man still makes me smile.
Feeding Sugar Water to Bees — This post carries some of my most favourite images of the bees that I have on my property. Chosen because of its beauty. Bees are magic, having them down in the back is always a joy. They are hard to keep alive here too, because we are surrounded in the GM crops of corn and beans. But the honey is magnificent and we have excellent pollination levels in the gardens.
Q. How have readers responded to your writing?
A. My readers respond with kind and informed support — always. My readers are called The Fellowship. They play a massive part in supporting me and keeping me informed on farming practices. They are an integral part of the blog. Many are actually so emotionally invested in the blog that they read daily and make intelligent and informative comments daily.
Very early on in the ever-developing life of the blog The Kitchens Garden, they began to form into a very strong collection of real people, soon naming themselves The Fellowship. This was such a tidal movement that none of us can even remember who came up with the name. We call the comments section The Lounge of Comments. This is where the commenting members of the fellowship gather every day. And I mean gather, often they will pop in and out a number of times to read each others’ comments. Sometimes when I am busy on the farm they even answer each others’ questions and if one of The Fellowship is ill or needs support, or has a farm question, this is where they support and inform each other.
We have a page called Join Us — pop in if you have a moment. It is a startling collection of personalities: this is where many of The Fellowship introduce themselves to me and each other. Even the ones that seldom comment.
The Fellowship have published one book already — Letters for my Little Sister — and are working on another. The books began when I wrote a post about menopause and the comments in the Lounge were so full and so interesting, that I decided to make the comments into a book. My readers expounded on their initial thoughts and sent these letters to me and with the help of another member I produced a lovely book (It is on its third print now and is sold on Amazon)
The second book is underway: I am presently collating Letters for my Baby Girl this winter and then we will begin the third in our series. The Letters Books are a direct result of the Lounge of Comments and the honesty and wealth of information that the readers of The Kitchens garden share with each other. So, you see, the readers of my blog are like a huge engine chugging along underneath my farm, moving us all forwards.
Q. Is there anything you’re hoping to share with the Press Publish audience?
A. I take it that you mean the talk that I shall give?
I am hoping to talk about the relationships that we build throughout our lives that strengthen our blogs. I believe that everything comes down to relationships. The ones we develop with our readers, our screens, our writing, the weather, our images – our content – even our time management- the people in our lives and from our lives – even our relationships with the people who have left our lives. Even the relationships we develop with technology. To develop a clear linear thread between these relationships creates a clarity of thought that, as bloggers riding the waves of the interwebs and as People in a fast moving world, ENABLE and feed a curious strength.
Once that strength is collected and fed and decanted we can draw on the strength created from these relationships.
I call this energy The Benevolent Monster. It has become a kind of THING. Once we have done our home work, made our plan, put the pieces of our plan in order and pushed Play we climb up onto This Benevolent Monster, we have informed him and fed him, now we trust him and HE begins to carry US through. This is paramount in a blog. Trusting ourselves and our readers.
For example: think about your work on this conference – you are developing a clear series of relationships, you collect the people, you carve out the time, you reach out with your fingers and gently cajole the information from your team and knit it into a cohesive mass. Soon you will have created a beautiful Benevolent Monster, and when your gathering work is done – you climb up his weathered and elderly hide (you might need a ladder!) kick your heels in and then TRUST The Benevolent Monster to walk forward unaided and bring your work to fruition. Everything is in place, your work has gone Live, the conference begins and The Benevolent Monster takes over. An idea has become an entity. From then on you say Yes to each problem as it pops up confident in the Monster. I love the Monster.
This is what I will talk about and extend for the people of Press Publish. This and more! What do you think?
Q. Is there anything you’re hoping to learn at Press Publish?
A. I need to learn so much! You mentioned that you were bringing people to speak about technical matters. I am deeply low-tech at the best of times. I live a very sheltered life out here on the Mid West. I don’t even have TV. And I know I am not using the WordPress machine as well as I should be. So I am excited to be able to listen to your speakers and streamline and clean up a lot of my own antiquated practices.
As an example I shall go over to your earlier email right now and try to work out how to do an online signature!!
I am also looking forward to your other speakers. Learning how they approach their days and their own time management and motivations. How they power their own Benevolent Monsters. Bloggers are inherently solitary so it will be good to cross the divide and discuss this medium with other bloggers.
Featured bloggers will talk about how blogging helped them build a business, get published, and even learn to farm. We’ll have tutorials on podcasting, mobile blogging, SEO, choosing a theme, widgets, mastering the dashboard, making the most of your upgrades, and more!