A Lookout Intern’s Guide to UNCW Writers Week

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Broadside created by John McShea for John Jeremiah Sullivan’s reading at UNCW’s Writers Week 2013.

As an intern with Lookout and TA in UNCW’s Publishing Laboratory, sometimes I find my work overlapping. And if my work isn’t quite the same, I still operate within the same workspace for both jobs. So when Lookout takes a brief pause to celebrate Writers Week, the week in which UNCW invites national writers, editors, and agents to engage our community, I continue to head into the office to support the university. Here is how I do this:

Step one: Spend the months before Writers Week putting off the creation of Writers Week program guides, broadsides, posters, and other promotional materials.

Step two: Spend every waking second the week before Writers Week creating Writers Week program guides, broadsides, posters, and other promotional materials.

Step three: Close eyes and see the schedule of Writers Week events projected on the insides of eyelids as a result from duties achieved during step two.

Step four: Mentally cross out the events you wish not to attend that are projected on the insides of eyelids.

Step five: Realize you will attend events crossed off during step four, because you don’t want to miss anything profound. Become okay with the fact that this schedule has been permanently burned into your eyelids.

Step six: Sprint to the Pub Lab between events to gauge production of Writers Week program guides, broadsides, posters, and other promotional materials. Feel the burn in your calves.

Step seven: Ask, “Does anyone need a hand with the current production of Writers Week program guides, broadsides, posters, and other promotional materials?” Wait for the response.

Step eight: Lend a hand in the current production of Writers Week program guides, broadsides, posters, and other promotional materials. Pull out staplers for program guides. Clear off the trimmer for broadsides. Sit and breathe while waiting for posters to print. Rush to deliver finished materials, carried in a heavily worn manila folder covered in doodles.  

Step nine: Rejoice after completing production of Writers Week program guides, broadsides, posters, and other promotional materials. Acknowledge that completion is temporary, and more work will be done after the next event.

But most important,

Step ten: Attend every Writers Week event. Learn many things. Ride the motivation that swells within you after profound speakers poke at your soul.

So far this is the how I’ve navigated this year’s Writers Week. For more information or a list of events, please visit http://uncw.edu/writers/writersweek.html

John McShea,
Lookout Intern and Publishing Lab TA

Ordering Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone’s First Decade

      

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One of the most rewarding aspects of being a Lookout intern is that I consistently have the opportunity to work on projects that I didn’t even know were projects until the time I begin working on them. The most recent (and possibly my favorite) example was establishing the order for Lookout’s forthcoming anthology Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon From Ecotone’s First Decade.

If someone had asked me a few weeks ago how one might arrange stories in an anthology I might have answered, “Alphabetically? Draw the names out of a hat? Pin them on the wall and throw darts?”

Last spring in the Publishing Practicum course, we began reading all of the stories published in Ecotone in the last ten years. Through a semester-long process of inclusion and elimination, we were left with twenty-six stories that our publishing instructor, Emily Smith, the other Ecotone editors, and we, as a class, collectively loved.

The stories are wildly distinct, but there are some recurring themes: violence, love, betrayal, birth, death, memory, just to name one handful. And of course, since Ecotone is a literary magazine that celebrates place, setting and atmosphere also play a prominent role in almost every one of these stories.     

The way one goes about ordering an anthology is by creating a sort of longer narrative thread through the voice of individual pieces. We were conscious of the theme of each story and how one might play off the story before or after. We read first and last lines, and asked ourselves how a reader might feel in transition. Would it enhance or detract from the overall effect?

Did two stories take place in a blizzard? Yes? Split them up. Did two stories feature the same animal? Yes? Allow some space between them. Should a story about death follow a birth, or vice versa? What would best serve the larger narrative?

Possibly through our own predilections, many of the stories in this anthology explore darker themes—with grace, beauty, and grit—and we found ourselves allowing some of the lighter, happier stories to serve as palate cleansers. We asked: if the anthology is one long menu, does one course sour the taste for the next, or do they inform one another in a way that enriches the experience of reading them together? Where will our reader need a breath, and how do we give it to her? Should a heavy story be followed by one of similar theme and weight, or is it best to transition with a lighter story before descending again? Astoria to Zion has both kinds of transitions.

Once we established themes, we began ordering again, this time looking at story length and style. Were two shorter pieces adjacent to each other? Yes? Split them up. Had we allowed ample room between non-traditional narratives, or stories told in more experimental forms?

Finally, we were very aware of the last line of the last story. Did it serve as a fitting close to the end of the anthology as a whole? We think so, but you’ll have to be the judge! Happy Reading.

Heather Hammerbeck,
Lookout Intern

John Rybicki Begins North Carolina Book Tour

Lookout is proud to announce that poet and Lookout author John Rybicki will be heading out on a North Carolina tour this coming week. The tour, made possible with generous support from the North Carolina Arts Council, will include stops at oncology centers, a library, and a bookstore.

Planning this tour for John has been such a pleasure, and we are so excited about creating some new platforms for him to read his incredible work and to share his powerful messages of grief, hope, and healing.

(For the full tour details, including venue addresses, please go to http://www.lookout.org/Rybickireadings.html.)

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Above: Tour kits sent to reading venues

On the evening of Sunday, April 7, John will be a guest on “That Cancer Show,” which airs from 8 – 9 p.m. on WPTF 680 AM in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill and WSJS 600 AM in the Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point area. You can listen to the program on the “That Cancer Show” website: http://www.cancersupport4u.org/that-cancer-showtrade.html. “That Cancer Show” is a program from Cornucopia Cancer Support Center in Durham.

On Monday, April 8, John will be offering a 6 p.m. workshop/poetry discussion and 7 p.m. reading at the Morrison Regional Library in Charlotte.

John will stay in Charlotte for the night of Tuesday, April 9, too, with an appearance at Levine Cancer Institute. This reading and program will be focused on the healing arts, and nurses, doctors, patients, families, and anyone whose life has been impacted by cancer are encouraged to attend. (Like the other stops on the tour, this event is also open to the public.)

On Wednesday, John will head to the Triangle. On the evening of Wednesday, April 10, he’ll be giving a reading at Cornucopia Cancer Support Center in Durham.

On Thursday, April 11, he’ll be reading alongside former NC Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer and the poet John Amen at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. Feel free to join the poets for an informal discussion at Foster’s Market, next door to the bookstore, at 6 p.m. The official program at Flyleaf will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Each of the above events is open to the public. John’s Lookout title, the poetry collection When All the World Is Old, is will be available for sale at each event, and you’ll have the option to get your book signed.

John’s tour will conclude on Saturday, April 13, when he gives a presentation at the North Carolina Writers’ Network Conference at University of North Carolina Greensboro. Pre-registration is required for this event.

If you’re able to attend any of these events, please let us know what you think. We can’t wait for the tour to begin. Many thanks to the wonderful staff members at Morrison, Levine, Cornucopia, and Flyleaf for generously hosting us. See you on the road!

Designing the Interiors of The Debut Voices of Lookout Books Chapbook

Lookout Books is getting excited about AWP. We hope you’ll stop by our table at the Bookfair, and that you’ll attend The Debut Voices of Lookout Books, which is happening this Friday at 1:30 p.m. This reading will be the first time all four Lookout authors are in the same place, and the event will be followed by a book-signing at our Bookfair table. You’ll be able to grab signed copies of all our Lookout titles. We’re also excited about unveiling the limited edition chapbook that we printed in-house to commemorate the Debut Voices event.

We did a blog post about creating glyphs for the chapbook (read it here). Now we’re going to share how we designed the interior of the chapbook, which features complete stories from our three prose authors’ Lookout titles and two poems from our Lookout poet . Here’s a look into the process of designing and printing the book:

As the interior designer, I met with the interns doing cover design and together we decided on a trim size of 6” x 6”. Then I got to work on designing a page layout, asking for feedback as we worked.

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1. An early version, with handwritten feedback. We needed to feature the author name more prominently, to group the name and title differently, and to give the text more room to breathe with some larger margins.

After taking everybody’s suggestions into account, I came up with the final layout, threaded the pieces into the InDesign document, had multiple people copy-edit printouts of the document, and then started printing.

 

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2. Printing the book in The Publishing Laboratory. The new interior is pretty different from the one pictured above.

I spent the better part of two days printing, trimming pages on the guillotine trimmer, binding on the perfect binder (someday I’ll chuckle wistfully at the memory of my rookie mistake that spread glue all over the machine, and the hours we spent chipping away at it), and giving the bound books a final trim.

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3. A bound chapbook awaiting trimming. The bow-tie covers are in honor of Ben Miller’s River Bend Chronicle. There are four cover designs total, each with a glyph that symbolizes that author’s work.

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4. More bound chapbooks, resting under the weight of the entire English language.

Hands-on experience is one of the major reasons why I’m a Lookout intern. We really like all the emailing and editing and marketing that goes along with the job, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about spending a couple weeks actually making a book. It was definitely a learning experience: fun, exciting, and occasionally exhausting. We did a print-run of only 38 copies, so snatch one up as soon as you can!

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5. Finished!

—Kathleen Jones, Lookout Intern

Creating Glyphs for Debut Voices of Lookout Books chapbook

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To celebrate all our authors reading together for the firs time, we’ve been working on a limited edition booklet to feature work from the four Lookout authors, called Debut Voices of Lookout Books. (Come see them, Friday 1:30PM and then to the book signing after at table A6/A7.) We wanted to design a unique glyph to represent a component of each author’s work and would be used on the covers and interiors of the chapbook.

 We read the stories and poems and picked elements from each that spoke to us. Then we studied images of each element, and, using the pen tool in Photoshop, recreated their lines and curves, filling them in with the tone and emotion of the stories. Here is what we came up with.

 John Rybicki’s When All the World is Old is a beautiful collection of poetry and a testament to his love for his late wife. The book’s cover looks up at a barren tree canopy, which conveys the action of reaching up and into the sky. For our glyph, we used a bare branch, a stoic and thin image. We think this captures the essence of Rybicki’s work, both a lamentation and celebration of life.

 Ben Miller’s River Bend Chronicle features one essay “Hickey’s Havana,” an ode to Miller’s time with his grandfatherly neighbor, Mr. Hickey. The two bond at Mr. Hickey’s kitchen table, listening to the radio and drinking 7UP. Again, borrowing from the original book design, we chose Mr. Hickey’s tie to represent the essay. The tie is symbolic of Mr. Hickey and his presence in Miller’s life, acting as a refuge from a family of dysfunction.

 Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision features “The Story,” which is ripe with scene, pacing and tension. Pearlman writes, “The new restaurant—Harry and Lucienne had suggested it—called itself the Hussar, and presented piroshki and goulash in a Gypsy atmosphere. The chef was rumored to be twenty-six years old. The hussar was taking a big chance on the chef, on the fiddler, on the location, and apparently on the help; one busboy had already dropped a pitcher of water.” Tension grows between the characters and also with the reader, who wonders if “the story” will be told. We decided the pitcher echoed this tension and captured the importance of the story.

 Steve Almond’s God Bless America features “Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched,” a story between a poker-enthused psychoanalyst, Oss, and a poker-addicted patient, Sharpe. “Oss sighed his silent sigh. ‘This isn’t a poker game, Gary. You don’t win by hiding your cards.’” The story already features poker card glyphs within the text. We liked the image, so we borrowed it for the larger design. The poker card becomes a symbol of the men’s compulsions and motivations and seemed like a resonant image.

—John McShea, Lookout Intern

New drafts of the covers for the limited-edition Debut Voices of Lookout Books, featuring the writing of all four Lookout authors. Come check out the final product at AWP!

New drafts of the covers for the limited-edition Debut Voices of Lookout Books, featuring the writing of all four Lookout authors. Come check out the final product at AWP!

Ben Miller Mail-Order Ice Rink Kits

At Lookout we’re anxiously awaiting the release of our first memoir, River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa by debut author Ben Miller.

In celebration we assembled gift boxes to bookstores, including a copy of River Bend Chronicle, a reading guide, a bow tie button, postcards, Ben’s personal map of Davenport attractions—and, perhaps most touching, a note straight from Ben’s Royal typewriter.

We drew on the wild, memorable, pop-culture saturated prose stylings of Ben Miller. The inside lid of the box features an excerpt from “The Reinvention of Ice,” a chapter in which Ben recalls a classmate’s father’s big American invention: a mail-order ice rink, complete with tarp and spikes. Just hook up the hose and wait for frigid conditions!

Best of all the boxes look like the mail-order ice rink as it’s described in “The Reinvention of Ice.” Check out a few photos of the process.

So get ready, bookstores—they’re coming your way this week! (And there’s a good chance you’ll see these items at AWP, where we’re debuting River Bend Chronicle!)

—Ana Alvarez, Lookout Intern

Some days working at Lookout means reading amazing writing. Some days (like today) it means lots of spreadsheets.


P.S. Sorry to blur the contents, but we want to keep our next project a surprise! ;)

Some days working at Lookout means reading amazing writing. Some days (like today) it means lots of spreadsheets.

P.S. Sorry to blur the contents, but we want to keep our next project a surprise! ;)

Best of luck to our MFA students as they raise money for travel and outreach programs! Check out *Share the Word and help them reach their goal.

The “Teaching Press” Model at UNCW- Katie Jones, Lookout Intern 
One of my favorite aspects of being a Lookout intern is getting to be a part of a teaching press. We work on our Lookout projects in the Publishing Laboratory, and on any given day the lab is full of Bookbuilding students designing layouts and putting together chapbooks, undergrads compiling the UNCW BFA anthology, and Pub Lab TAs tweaking the design of a Writers Week broadside or doing treatments for Ecotone's next issue.
I’m a TA and an intern, and this semester has given me such appreciation for the teaching press model. I love that the students working side-by-side in the lab have, in various capacities, been given the responsibility not only to read, write, and edit literature, but also to design, package, and market it so that it can be sent out into the world. When I decided to enroll in the MFA program here, I found the rigorous yet supportive writing community I’d hoped for, but I was surprised and delighted by the professional opportunities I’ve found here.
This semester, I’m helping to copy-edit River Bend Chronicle by Ben Miller and am planning a spring tour throughout North Carolina for Lookout author John Rybicki. I’ve learned a lot about the necessary steps for planning an author website, and about the ever-growing relationship between publishing and social media. I’ve discovered that North Carolina has a thriving network of independent bookstores, literary centers, radio stations, and other venues open to supporting the work Lookout does. This semester is already winding down, but our work at Lookout isn’t!

The “Teaching Press” Model at UNCW
- Katie Jones, Lookout Intern 


One of my favorite aspects of being a Lookout intern is getting to be a part of a teaching press. We work on our Lookout projects in the Publishing Laboratory, and on any given day the lab is full of Bookbuilding students designing layouts and putting together chapbooks, undergrads compiling the UNCW BFA anthology, and Pub Lab TAs tweaking the design of a Writers Week broadside or doing treatments for Ecotone's next issue.

I’m a TA and an intern, and this semester has given me such appreciation for the teaching press model. I love that the students working side-by-side in the lab have, in various capacities, been given the responsibility not only to read, write, and edit literature, but also to design, package, and market it so that it can be sent out into the world. When I decided to enroll in the MFA program here, I found the rigorous yet supportive writing community I’d hoped for, but I was surprised and delighted by the professional opportunities I’ve found here.

This semester, I’m helping to copy-edit River Bend Chronicle by Ben Miller and am planning a spring tour throughout North Carolina for Lookout author John Rybicki. I’ve learned a lot about the necessary steps for planning an author website, and about the ever-growing relationship between publishing and social media. I’ve discovered that North Carolina has a thriving network of independent bookstores, literary centers, radio stations, and other venues open to supporting the work Lookout does. This semester is already winding down, but our work at Lookout isn’t!