E-Books for Every Occasion and Reader

Sullivan Street Press began life as an e-book only publisher. Caught up in the excitement of a new publishing paradigm that would allow for a democraticization of the publishing process, the company and I began to test out new ideas for ways that all writers and readers could benefit from this marvelous technology.

I began my publishing career in 1978 and learned how to produce bound books at my first job for a now defunct publishing company that was more interested in creative financing than was healthy for them.  Yet, their creative ways allowed them to publish translated works of real value that would not have seen an American audience or been found on bookstore shelves because of the ways in which the business was structured in those days.

Fast forward to the 1990s when major publishers were not open at all to the idea of e-books or what they were in those days, pdf files on your desktop. An inventive and far-sighted publisher was put out of business by the major publishers for daring to suggest that out of print books, in other words, books no publisher was interested in any longer, might find a new market in the digital realm of our computer screens. But, as I said, this individual was driven out of business and litigated to death over a format that we now all find old fashioned, yet was the very format that Barnes & Noble used in their early versions of the NOOK.

Today, we read constantly that e-books aren’t doing as well as the predictions of analysts who seem to be more concerned with turning profits than reading books. Yet, one company has been allowed to post deficits for years, until just this year in fact, because Amazon of all the players in the e-book world has not been tech adverse in its business model. Its business model is based on a much deeper understanding of the technical world in which we live (with the attendant bad and good that means) and has profited from the sale of e-books in ways that publishers never can. It takes a moment to understand why Amazon has invested so much money in their book business.

If you stop for a moment and think more about what it is that Amazon knows about you, you will begin to comprehend just how their business is predicated on being a one-stop purveyor of all things you need. Over the 2 decades that they have been in business, Amazon has been collecting data on all its customers and creating a data bank that allows them to know how to sell almost anything we want. No one except them has access to this data, oh, except the government of course, and even publishers who could do a much better business if they had this information are not allowed access to it.

Their technology for e-books, which is theirs alone, no other e-tailer can use or does use the proprietary software that Amazon designed for the e-books that they distribute (Mobi) and while we are speaking of their unique practices, you also don’t own the e-books you download onto the Kindle, they do. And at any time they can delete it from your devices.

Yet, for all these problems and the complicated history of how we arrived at this moment of e-books and their place in our libraries, I am still a huge fan of them for practical reasons (I can take a library with me when I travel and I travel a lot) and I think environmentally, we stand a better chance of preserving the resources we have, given though that we understand what resources are necessary to manufacture our devices and how they are obtained. (I will write further about this issue in coming posts.)

We are all called upon to take seriously our libraries and bookstores, to support the writers and publishers who are producing the literature we need to make better choices and to lead more informed lives. Books are treasured by so many for these reasons but also because within the process of reading them, we are transformed as the writer who wrote them was also transformed in the process of building those stories and finding the words to say exactly what she meant to say.

E-books aren’t as some would like you to believe all that cheap to produce. The same, very same, efforts to make the text the best it can be is necessary for both bound and e-books. What is different is that e-books can be produced more quickly and made available across a variety of markets in ways that bound books cannot be.

Ride the wave of e-books and experience the freedom to read anywhere at any time almost any book you want to read. Share almost all content with your friends, quote it directly into your emails, your FB page, onto a Twitter post, however the words move you to share them; that too is your new ability given the ways in which e-books are formated.

All the books I publish are available as e-books and you can find out all about them here.

#Vegan Thanksgiving: New Recipe and a Reminder

Seitan Marinara with Bow Tie Pasta

Paul Graham advises his readers in Eating Vegan in Vegas to pay attention to the health reasons for becoming #vegan. Among the many resources he offers in his book is the website, Forks Over Knives. Here, one can find recipes and a supportive community of people also in the process of transitioning to a plant-based life. Thus, another thing to be thankful for at Thanksgiving time.

Being Vegan in an Omnivore’s World

It may seem crazy to many who are beginning this journey into a plant-based life that you even when traveling you can find travel all that you need. But you can and with some planning it can be a rather stress-free adventure. Having just returned from a trip that included the cities Niagara Falls, Toronto, Dublin, London and Reykjavik, I can report that with good planning and preparation of food to bring with us, we ate well and had all the nutrition we needed. Yes, the world is changing but there are always those holidays, Thanksgiving, unfortunately, is one of them, when the consumption of an animal is all that most people are thinking about no matter what city in the US you find yourself this season.

Not all vegans venturing out on Thanksgiving are going to find what it is they want to eat. So, these blog postings are offered in the spirit of trying to ease the journey while sharing resources and recipes.

Paul Graham’s groundbreaking experiment in Las Vegas, to blog for 365 days straight and to write about each vegan meal he ate, allowed many people to realize that even in a city that is known for its excesses, one can  be in a major vegan destination.

The third edition of Eating Vegan in Vegas will be launched in April, 2016 to coincide with the Vegas VegFest. The new edition will focus on the needs of a traveler–where to eat, what to do and what other community activities are happening in Las Vegas that may align with one’s own interests at home. For example, we will be including a chapter on the Animal Rights community in Las Vegas and the environmental activities that occur there. And much, much more. Paul Graham’s book has been an inspiration to me, his publisher, and I hope to carry this vision into other cities and areas of the US and beyond to help vegan travelers find the best places to eat, to buy food and to shop along with showing what the communities they are visiting are doing in the arts, what spiritual groups are up to and so on, so that if this is a place they travel to frequently, they can form relationships within these towns and cities and build the bridges Paul mentions we need to bring about a plant-based world.

Recipe for the Day from Laura Theodore

And now, as promised, here is a recipe from Laura Theodore’s kitchen, shared specifically with readers of this blog.

Seitan Marinara with Bow Tie Pasta
Makes 4 to 6 Servings

Big chunks of hearty seitan combined with meaty mushrooms makes this sauce a super satisfying choice for topping pasta of any kind. Celery adds delicious flavor without overwhelming this chunky sauce.

3 cups sliced celery, with leaves
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, chopped
2/3 cup filtered or spring water
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
½ teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari
1/8 heaping teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces seitan, chopped or 8 ounces ground seitan
20 to 22 ounces vegan, low fat marinara sauce
1 pound tri-color or whole grain bow tie, fusilli or penne pasta

Put the celery, onion, 1/3 cup water, Italian seasoning, tamari, and crushed red pepper in a large skillet. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the celery and onions have softened. Add the seitan, marinara and 1/3 cup water, Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the pasta. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm. Drain the pasta well.

Divide the pasta into each of four to six pasta bowls. Top with a generous portion of the seitan sauce. Serve hot.

Chef’s Note: Need to keep it gluten free? Just substitute your favorite variety of canned beans (drained and rinsed) for the seitan and use gluten free pasta.

Recipe is not from any of Laura Theodore’s books. However, I do recommend you check out her new book, Vegan-Ease, . And visit Laura on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for daily recipes and tips for serving delicious, plant-based meals.

#Vegan Thanksgiving: Visiting Portland, OR

Roasted Portobello Mushroom

One of the incredible lessons I have learned is that we can change the world one plate, one person, one city at a time.

Paul Graham is one of the great advocates for a plant-based life, not just changing a person’s diet but changing all aspects of life–the animals, our health, the environmental and the spiritual comprise what Paul deems the four pillars of the shift that will change the world.

Paul has inspired lots of people based on his blog that we then turned into the book, Eating Vegan in Vegas: If It Can Happen Here . . . It Can Happen Anywhere which you can learn more about here. Others are taking the message and the blogging to other cities and today we look at our colleague in Portland, Oregon, Kim Miles, who has sent us a recipe as well as a recommendation for a restaurant for Thanksgiving in her town. (You can follow Kim’s blog here.)

#Vegan Thanksgiving in Portland, OR

Kim reports, “When asked to suggest a great place to enjoy a fabulous vegan Thanksgiving dinner in Portland, I instantly thought of Portobello Vegan Trattoria. This well known and popular Portland restaurant will be offering a four course prix fixe Thanksgiving feast for $45 per person. (You can also call ahead and order take-home dinners for $25 per person.)

“The Thanksgiving Menu is on their website, and I’m hungry just looking at it. Start with Corn Bread with Maple Butter, Warm Olives with Citrus, Roast Pepper Stuffed Mushrooms, and then make your choices from the elegant options created just for this meal.

“Soup is Heirloom Squash Soup with Fried Parsnip and Pumpkin Seed Cracker. If you prefer salad, choose the Warm Roast Beet and Carrot with Hazelnuts, Maple Mustard Vinaigrette, Mixed Baby Greens, and Crouton.

“The main course offerings are Confit Delicata Squash with Chanterelles, Roast Chestnut, and Cannellini Cassoulet, or Roast Portobello with Fried Shallots, Savory Stuffing, Brussel Sprouts with Trumpet Mushroom Bacon and Cranberry Chutney.

“For dessert… Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Chili Crust, Candied Pepitas, and Chocolate Chili Sauce, or Apple Pie Crostada with Bourbon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Salted Caramel Sauce and Candied Rosemary. They also serve beer, wine, and cocktails, and offer wine pairing, which I really appreciate. I love wine, but know nothing about it.

 As I’ve written about Portobello in the past, it’s absolutely one of my favorite places in Portland (or anywhere) for a truly extraordinary meal. If you can’t make it for Thanksgiving, visit them any time for dinner or Sunday Brunch. The vibe is special without being stuffy, and the food is always incredible. The menu changes seasonally, so there will be surprises every time you go.”

Kim Miles’ Roasted Red Pepper Bisque

Kim dreamed up this tasty soup that is great for Thanksgiving (or anytime at all) and I suggest you follow this link to get the full recipe and also to sign up to follow her blog. One of the most dedicated adherents to a plant-based life, her blog is full of more than just food. It is a wonderful place to visit and to learn from. Thank you, Kim Miles for sharing in our #Vegan Thanksgiving blog postings.

Road Trip in Fall–Books at a Discount

A Page from Occupy These Photos

We are leaving for Toronto, Dublin, London and Reyjavik and will be gone for 3 weeks. I feel grateful as hell to be able to travel as much as we do. (Don’t ask me where we will be going next because it is really a goodly amount over the next year.)

While we are away, Sullivan Street Press carries on its mission by sharing with you a number of promotions to help get the books out to more and more readers.

I often think of the books we publish as events, events that keep on going, whether the books are being created, produced, launched or available. No matter where they appear on that time line, they are alive, living happenings of ideas, words, pictures and responses that can’t be stopped. The real perpetual motion machines of our lives–books.

This weekend we are having an e-book promotion of our 4 books that were published before 2015–Scags at 7, Scags at 18, Eating Vegan in Vegas and Occupy this Book. They are on sale at Kobo for $4.99. I urge you to download the Kobo free reading app and put it on your device. That way you can take advantage of this sale. (Plus, to me, Kobo is the one e-tailer who understands the value of the independent bookstore and works with them as much as possible. This is another way to read e-books and not undercut the bookstores.)

Over the month of November, all our e-books will be discounted by 35% to libraries in the US. That means that if you go to your library and request our e-books, and please tell the library that the e-books are being discounted, we can take advantage of having more of our e-books filter through the library systems all across the country. You will be fostering more events that will help others to discover what Sullivan Street Press publishes.

Finally, we just launched a new book, Occupy These Photos. Another addition to the growing body of work by Mickey Z. This new title is a photo collection of Mickey’s eye roaming the city from the time of #OccupyWallStreet to #BlackLivesMatter. With a moving Foreword by Cecily MacMillan on the power of the witnessing eye to those harassed  and targeted by the police during times of political actions, Mickey’s book should be essential reading and meditating for those who want to both understand and participate in the changes we need to see at all levels of our shared lives right now.

This post calls attention to the work we have done so far and doesn’t speak to the work that will be happening. More events, more ways to connect with readers and to share visions and ideas and photos and stories in ways we intend to be indispensable to the community. Thanks for all the support you show us.

#DemandCreatesSupply: Your Help Needed

A Page from Occupy These Photos

SullivanStPress is on the march until we can get Amazon and B&N to carry the beautiful print version of Mickey Z.’s new book, Occupy These Photos.

You can help speed up that day by going to the Amazon and B&N websites and placing Occupy These Photos on your wishlist.

Good corporate operatives that they are, they will respond to an ever growing demand for this title because as our new hashtag campaign makes clear #DemandCreatesSupply.

This campaign to get Mickey’s book on the corporate radar so that they will add it to their virtual shelves has reminded me of two things. I love being a publisher. That job allows me to wander the world asking myself what else would make a great book and how can I help bring that book to life? The second thing I am aware of is how much I also love to write. I am finishing Scags at 30 and want to have the focus it takes to complete my novel.

Saving SullivanStPress right now is an even greater need. The mission is the same: To change the publishing paradigm.

My needs are the same: To have a company that won’t abandon my writing (or anyone else’s) because times are hard.

Publishing and writing can feel like mutually exclusive activities. But without both in my life, I would feel rudderless. Asking you, and your friends and family, to take up our cause of putting Mickey’s beautiful new book on the virtual shelves of Amazon and B&N, is a worthy use of anyone’s time.

People talk about Banned Books. What about books that are flat out refused to be stocked? The only time our book pages should read “temporarily out of stock” on Amazon or B&N’s websites should be because they can’t keep up with demand.

Please join our campaign #DemandCreatesSupply today and share this vital work with all who love to read and want to see fair and equal treatment extended to all publishers, large and small.

Join us on Facebook to share your thoughts about this campaign.

Sullivan Street Press Needs Your Help

I feel that anger that comes when I know we are in one of those David vs Goliath moments and there is no telling if we can stay afloat. Yet, we must.

Two weeks ago, Occupy These Photos, by Mickey Z. came out. It is available as an e-book or as a beautifully produced paperback. But Amazon and B&N have listed the paperback as “temporarily out of stock” since the date of its publication (9/8/15).

For small presses like this one to stay in business, our books need to be available, they need to be seen and to be purchased. We need our community to support us and they can’t if they can’t buy our books.

We are a small press. We are using a new distributor who is more determined sometimes than we are to see our books be available but even with that determination, Occupy These Photos, can’t be ordered from the Amazon or B&N websites.

We need the support of all those who believe in the wonders of small presses to produce books that are necessary for the survival of a literate culture and who also love books as much as we do.

Here’s how you can help us.

Go the Amazon and B&N websites and make a wish. Put Occupy These Photos on your wishlist. Let’s build up a demand for this book. Since Amazon and B&N are good capitalists, that will drive the engine that will break this deadlock and make Mickey Z.’s beautiful new book available to all.

There is nothing like making these behemoths bow down to the only power they respect–demand for a book, a large enough demand that they will not be able to ignore us.

Do it not just for Sullivan Street Press but for every small press that wants the corporate giants to treat small presses with the same respect they treat the larger presses. I truly thank you for this support.

2015 Summer Road Trip–Back on the Road

Resuming our trip, our first stop has been Washington, DC. All our trips become organized around Suzanne’s annual Flute Convention, which is in, yep, DC this year. Our car is filled with our camping gear and sits in an underground garage near DuPont Circle. The National Flute Convention has begun. We’ll be listening to lots of flute music and then head to West Virginia to camp along the Mountain Music Trail for a couple of weeks.

Every morning now in DC, I take a walk uphill to the National Cathedral. Discovering the wooded pathways on the grounds has been helpful because the purpose of these walks is twofold: One, to care for my back which needs daily exercise as pain relief; and two,to find a place to pray. No matter where I travel, I’m carrying my physical/spiritual worlds with me.

As we packed our bags into the car in Queens, I turned to Suzanne to tell her how anxious I was to leave home. She understood completely. The uncertainty about my mother, how much longer she has to live and how uncertainty can disrupt the need to follow the real rules of travel.

Those rules, because they are key to a successful trip, keep me focused and thus far able to enjoy a trip that could become undermined by sadness and anxiety. on the simplest level, travel for long periods of time demands paying attention to each single detail and then making room for the unexpected.

Suzanne gets annoyed with me as I nag her to put everything back where it was, to close lids and covers tightly, etc. If we don’t put things back in the car in the same place every time, we could lose a vital piece of equipment that we rely on for these camping trips. Having assigned places for everything means we don’t lose things, and we live in synch with the things we carry with us as if our lives depended on it–and they do.

That is what travel is about: Taking ourselves with us; taking care of everything we bring with us; allowing all uncertainty to come along for the ride; and to have fun (more fun than anyone can imagine).

This attention to detail changes us. Ironically, being extremely aware of each thing as it passes through our sensory system allows all those new sights, sounds, tastes, smells and feels to alter what we know and as we synthesize these sensations, we build new aspects of ourselves.

Travel changes us. Leaving home with an anxious heart is acknowledging that so much changes, not just for me but for lots of people connected through me to my mother lying in hospice in a state far away and not on our itinerary.

While we are traveling, we still need to keep funding our projects. Please make a donation here (and thanks): http://www.gofundme.com/yw769w

Fresh from The Farm–2015 Summer Road Trip

It took us almost a full day to set up our campsite at a KOA near Cooperstown, NY, the first stop on our road trip. Six nights of sleeping in our new tent at a campsite set in the midst of vast farmland has meant relaxing into a more quiet environment except for the cows and birds and the coyotes howling and screaming at night. Tranquility is not an overrated state of being.

A lot like heaven, I can say. This kind of quiet is essential for any type of creative work, whether like me you are writing a novel, or you just need to re-calibrate how you live your life. Resetting time’s hold can be an awakening to the greater necessities of one’s soul.

I don’t think everyone must sleep in a tent and walk blocks each day to go to the bathroom, but there is something altered in the day’s rhythm when most of “where” I am has no equivalence to the “normal” life I lead in my urban spaces. We arrive, unpack and set up our tent and gazebo, organize our food, cook our meals surrounded by trees, wildlife (and some not so wild as in the cows grazing around here), a plethora of bugs and all manner of wild flowers. We live within what weather and our energy allows for. So windy nights are fine but not great for putting up our tent, which can become a large kite. Cool is fine to sleep in, but not too cool for those long walks to the bathroom late at night.

At first, my body resists and resents this arduous life. While I’m singing here the praises of an outdoor life, it will be weeks into this trip until my whole being can sing in unison about the benefits of living outdoors. When I uproot myself from the ordinary, from an office space, a routine, friends, adjustments need to be made and over a 2-month period, those adjustments and the work are ongoing as we move from place to place.

The physical and mental aspects of our nomadic life are thrilling. Yet, or more precisely, more consequentially, the creative adjustments are even more thrilling and challenging. Writing Scags at 30 while on the road is a first-time experience for me and this has become the most difficult adjustment for me. Please stay tuned for the things I learn to do and not to do while writing at picnic tables in campsites and while sitting in the car. Being several places at once, real and imaginary, is quite a trip, pun intended.

We’re running a donation page for Sullivan St. Press, please give here: www.gofundme.com/yw769w

We’re Leaving in the Morning, Join Us

Getting on the road, is for us, one of the best reasons to be alive. It connects us to the world, to new people, we see things we won’t see or experience sitting at home and just imagining it. We must be there, right there, wherever “there” is.

What makes getting on the road for us two old ladies one of the most thrilling parts of our lives is that it grounds us, it gives us a place inside ourselves that is almost immutable. The spiritual and emotional healing that occurs when we sleep on the ground, wake up to see the sunrise over a forest or a lake, when we fall almost on our asses looking at the stars at night, each one of those traditional and expected elements of camping are true and truer because they ring that way for everyone who loves to spend time outdoors.

Our car is almost packed. For the first time, we are ready to go before we need to pull out of the driveway. This forward momentum is about being in tune with a need. We discovered it almost from the start of our love affair with camping. My wife and I were in an awful part of the country where lots of road work was making the air sooty and the noise of it was disturbing. We weren’t in some beautiful spot but in some out of the way town in Indiana. We were driving out west for the first time with all our camping gear.

The day was hot, lit by that white light of Midwestern summer sun blasting around us as loudly as the noise of the construction. It is a wonder we felt as we did. Yet, we both looked at each other and realized we were nomads. Constitutionally, we were meant to travel and to be places like that, along with all the beautiful places too. We are meant to be on the road, to be not some beat poets looking for our manhood, but as women who need to be in touch with the entire, or as much of the entire world, as our car can take us to.

Our trips have taken us to so many places. We have made 9500 mile round trips to the west. We have circled the southern United States. We have visited the homes of many American writers, Welty, Faulkner, O’Connor, Sandburg, Wolfe, Cather. Visiting their homes gives us a deeper connection to their work. We enter into places needing to hear what each one has to say. That is one of the keys as to why our trips are so successful. We can never hear enough of the stories that strangers tell us. At night, while we watch the fire or lie in our sleeping bags, we recount these stories to each other. They are the treasures we bring back to share with others.

Join us on this trip by following us here: www.facebook.com/sullivanstpress

If you can help us support the press as well, that would be most appreciated: gofund.me/yw7169w

Why We Need Your Help

Today we are getting ready to leave town. I know that doesn’t sound like a good reason for us to need your help. So, let’s get the mundane out of the way first and then get to the real reasons you’ll want to help us.

We travel, in part, to see what is going on in the world of books, what libraries are like, what the bookstores carry, where they are, where they have disappeared. While we are on the road, we also talk to everyone we meet about books (and enlist them in the Scags at 7 Video Project–more about that in a later post). The fixed expenses for this company include web fees, cell phones, marketing costs, supplies, books and so forth. That’s where we can lag behind. (Go to this link for samples of all our books and links to your favorite bookstores: http://sullivanstpress.com)

Now the exciting part–we are small, we are slow but we are daring. We have so many stories to tell that if we are invited to a party, we threaten to take over the entire conversation with all we have learned about books, the history of publishing in this country, how our libraries developed and grew, where the money came from, why there are agents, where they came from, what it means to be a bestselling author now, what it meant 50 years ago, what it will take to get the big corporate publishers to be more transparent and how we can help both other writers and readers gain the knowledge they need to understand this wonderful world of books.

Our mission statement from the first day we became a publisher was:

“Sullivan Street Press is in business to change the publishing paradigm”

Yes, we are, and you too can be a significant part of this paradigm shift.

I hope what we begin to share with you on this blog won’t be surprising but will be horrifying. That you, like us, will want to get involved in making the necessary changes to a part of the democratic process (that is what publishing is all about–keeping citizens informed of what the world is all about). We can’t let it slip away. Don’t let it slip away.

Stay with me on this blog as we explore more and more of what is happening in the publishing world and how it will affect all authors and all readers. That is really the point. What the big publishers decide to do will affect what you read and where you will find the books and how much you pay for them. Their decisions too will determine who gets to be published and what kinds of stories can be told. We cover this beat in ways no other publisher dares to, so stay tuned for lots of these stories.

Your donations will also help us to get this information out to more readers who also need to know what is being slowly taken away from us–a free press.

Here’s the link to our campaign: GoFundMe.com/yw769w

(Just as you might share the links to our books with friends, please also share our call for help; it is most sincerely appreciated.)