Tag Archives: Stephens Press

Living Your Dash

As I try to wrap my head around the loss of my friend and mentor, former publisher Carolyn Hayes Uber, and attempt to describe her influence, her persona, her life, I am struck by a remark I heard just today that helps put everything in perspective. And the fact that this remark mentions a common editing term (the dash), is serendipitous. Carolyn would be tickled.

abyssIn the documentary Into the Abyss, director Werner Herzog interviews Fred Allen, who explains his role in executions as the former captain of the Death House team at the Polunsky prison unit in Livingston, Texas. Allen is clearly conflicted (eventually resigning his post), as he sees the lives of inmates reduced to numbers: 1954 – 2011, for example. He realizes and explains, quite eloquently, that our lives are not reflected in a birthdate or date of passing, but the dash in between. (Granted, it’s really a hyphen, but I’m not here to edit today.) Mr. Allen then asks, How are you going to live your dash?

Which brings me back to Carolyn, who lived her dash with courage and strength and humor and love. So for Carolyn and my father and my “adopted” mother Patricia and other dear friends who are no longer here, I will live my dash, really live it… bravely, respectfully, happily. I hope you will, too.

 

 

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A Fond Farewell

I am so honored to have been a part of Stephens Press, to have worked on many of their beautiful books and worked with many of their wonderful writers. But most of all, I am so glad to have met Carolyn Hayes Uber, president of Stephens Press. I’ve learned so much from her … and have found a life-long friend. 

SPonWhiteGRIn Carolyn’s own words, from her Working Titlez blog post of May 21, 2013:

Stephens Press to Cease Book Publishing in 2013

Eleven years ago, the craziest idea was suggested to me. Any sane person would have said “no” but somehow, I said “yes.”

My life was going really, really good — I’d achieved a long-held dream and purchased my own office building. This wasn’t any office building, either. It was a 1926 two story Tudor-style mini-mansion next to City Hall on the main street of Upland, California. I spent months refurbishing to its original glory. The steep slate roof, the wavy glass multi-paned windows, the fireplace in the library, the hardwood floors. We moved our marketing firm into the building and planned a party to end all parties to show it off and celebrate.

As I unpacked boxes on my desk, I cradled the phone in my neck, talking with the COO of Stephens Media who asked me to come to Las Vegas the very next day for an “important” talk about the book business. Reluctantly, I agreed.

Somehow, someway, 24-hours later, I had agreed to start a book publishing company for the parent company of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. IN Las Vegas. I figured I’d give them a year, commuting, and then I’d likely be sick to death of Sin City, driving or flying back and forth, and the extra demands on my time. Still, publishing books somehow seemed a higher calling than advertising and I did have experience producing books.

I didn’t give them a year. I gave them eleven. Eleven good years publishing books of which I’m inordinately proud of and meeting smart, fascinating, and insightful people, many becoming treasured friends. I found I loved working with journalists and living in the desert. I bought a house (a great investment, it seemed at the time). I still “commuted” back and forth and my Hubby-Honey was able to spend a lot of time in Vegas with me, as well. But we joked, when people asked how we’d been married 45 years, that our secret was living in different states!

In those same eleven years, the book (and newspaper) business changed dramatically. With the advent of e-books, POD (print on demand) books, and so-called self-publishing, the floodgates of new books being published each year increased literally ten-fold. Meanwhile, the number of buyers/readers didn’t really grow at all. Thus the number of copies of any one title purchased was greatly reduced, making printed books a risky venture indeed.

To complicate matters, three-and-a-half years ago, I was diagnosed with leukemia. Multiple extremely long hospitalizations, chemo and radiation treatments, and a stem cell transplant followed. It has been a challenging journey and impacted my work at Stephens Press.

Given current circumstances, Stephens Media has determined Stephens Press will cease publishing activities in 2013. We are in the process of notifying authors and corporate/institutional sponsors, making arrangements for inventory, and an orderly transition of copyright and publication rights back to authors. We are also completing projects that were in our pipeline, including the Nevada 150 Sesquicentennial book that will be out early next year.

It was, like I said, an unlikely choice for me to create Stephens Press from the ground up, but also one of the very best decisions I ever made. I have absolutely no regrets and am filled with gratitude and appreciation to the management of Stephens Media, and most especially the creative vision of Mike Ferguson (now CEO of Stephens Media).

I will be staying in the book biz in ways known and yet undecided. My best friend and partner in all things books, as well as the best sister one could ever hope for, Sue Campbell, will be working to help authors navigate the waters to become “self-publishers.” We’ll also be working on independent custom book projects. Many know that what we do best are magnificent pictorial “coffee table” type books and we’ll continue to work on those as well.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me atcuber@stephenspress.com. Keep writing … and reading!

 

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Manuscripts Run Amok!

While the adage “April showers bring May flowers” may apply in many areas, it will be raining manuscripts in Las Vegas!

For the ninth consecutive year, the Las Vegas Writers Conference brings together fledgling writers, veteran authors, literary agents, editors, and publishers for a wonderful weekend of words …

LVWC_2013AdAnd Las Vegas – surprisingly – is the perfect backdrop. Lots of energy, lots of excitement, a veritable plethora of characters! The 24-hour town provides writing “prompts” not found anywhere else.

If you’ve ever contemplated writing – or been curious about the writing community, here’s your opportunity to check it out. Even if you can’t spend the whole weekend running amok, please join us at the Stephens Press sponsored author “meet and greet” from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, April 18th. Who knows? You may end up staying all weekend!

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Literary Las Vegas

Las Vegas typically conjures up images of showgirls and slot machines, neon lights and all-night parties, mega-bucks and mega-resorts.

What might surprise people is that the entertainment capital of the world is also dedicated to offering programs that promote reading and literacy, that support
and nurture the community of local writers, and that attract the attention and participation of national and international authors.

This weekend Las Vegas again celebrates the written, spoken, and illustrated word with the eleventh annual Vegas Valley Book Festival, an event that draws more than 10,000 attendees each year. Since its founding in 2002, the fall festival has presented over 600 authors and speakers and has produced or sponsored over 450 events, sessions, readings, workshops, and book signings.

The Festival provides an opportunity for readers and writers of all ages to get involved; with puppets, storytelling, activities for children, comic books (for the kid in all of us), young adult fiction – a genre of increasing popularity, and award-winning authors of both fiction and non-fiction.

It is exciting to see the Festival’s commitment to the contributions of home-grown writers, providing a platform for them to share their successes, and giving friends, family, and fans a chance to see their craft in action. I am especially proud that the city I called home for over thirty years is shining the spotlight on a less “glamorous” form of entertainment!

Don’t miss this opportunity to surround yourself in literati – Las Vegas style.

 

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COUNTdown

My good friend and president of Stephens Press, Carolyn Uber, answers the question of “how long should a book be.”

If you’re writing a book, looking for an editor or agent, or submitting to a publisher, these facts will come in handy. Read the full post from her Working Titlez blog:

Word Counts Count

My manuscript is now 150 pages. How long is the average book? Is it long enough?

A: That depends. Is your story done?

Short answers aside, there are some important issues an agent, editor or publisher will consider when evaluating your submission…

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Unlikely Superheroes

We have become accustomed to ordering our books from Amazon, downloading audio versions from iTunes, or buying our reading material at local brick ‘n mortars, be it a little indie shop-around-the-corner or a big box Costco. We look for a bargain, but still, we pay.

The library, which offers all of the above for free, isn’t as popular, like the last kid picked for dodge ball.

But libraries are no longer just places where out-of-print books, yesterday’s newspapers, party-mix CDs (ah … cassettes), and every National Geographic magazine from its first publication in 1888 live happily ever after. Gone are microfiche readers and card catalogs, and even “library voices.”

If you haven’t been lately, libraries now have state-of-the art technology, wireless access, and online “reservations” for bestsellers just published.

And librarians? Well, they’re no longer just behind the desk checking out books, calculating late fees, or shelving returns and hosting storytime for toddlers. Today’s librarians have become cheerleaders for the library system, dreaming up clever new ways to bring in readers.

Take, for example, Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Public Librarian, Karen, whose book club “kits” have become a book club “hit.” One such kit included several copies of The Home for the Friendless, donated by author Betty Auchard – which I was lucky to have edited – complete with discussion questions.

Karen, and all the other librarians, are my superheroes … busy fighting the crime of obsolescence. Like the original BatGirl, by the way, whose alter ego Barbara Gordon was head librarian for the Gotham City Public Library.

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Fifty Scents of PINE SOL

Unless you’ve spent the last four months sequestered on a jury or living as a cloistered nun, you have probably read, talked about, or at least heard of Fifty Shades of Grey.

And as I’ve mentioned before, in the name of research, I’ve done all three … actually, four, since I am also writing about it.

Though most of my friends and I do not understand the reason for such wild success, we do wonder if the tables were turned (so to speak), would the story appeal to us; that is, if the characters and the room and the rules were written from a different perspective.

What if Christian was the Submissive and one of my friends was the Dominant? If she had a playroom, what would it hold? How would she want Christian to “willingly surrender yourself to me, in all things … to please me?” (Fifty Shades of Grey, pg. 100)

So I revisited Chapter Seven of above-mentioned book and think …

The moment Christian walks into her fantasy room, he notices the smell of Pine Sol and Windex – with a faint citrus scent. Instead of a large wooden cross, a broom and mop are fastened like an X to the wall. Instead of ropes, chains, and shackles, scrub brushes and rubber gloves are suspended from the ceiling. And rather than paddles, whips, and riding crops, plungers, vacuum hoses, and swiffers hang from curtain rods.

Forget the stout six-foot-long table with ornately carved legs and matching chairs. Replace them with a pedi-spa chair and accompanying stool from which Christian can gloriously paint her ticklish toes.

Dominating the room is no longer an enormous late-nineteenth century bed, but a massage table with pink satin sheets and goose down pillows. The suede feathery flogger? The belt to a plush silk-lined robe.

She will, however, keep the large oxblood chesterfield couch, piled high with books on her favorite subjects and by her favorite authors that Christian will happily purchase for her without complaining how much she spends on them, and will interrupt her reading only to ask if she’d like another latte.

(Next blog: The 50 PINK rules and incentives)

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