By Lara Moore
From my New England visits and encounters at various receptions, I soon learned that Vermont Green Mountains are abundant with prolific writers, so I wanted to inquire about resources available to them. From the Burlington Book Festival to the Bookstock Literary Festival, Vermont seems to offer apertures, but Vermont Press in particular caught my attention. It wasn’t until I met and interviewed the idea person behind the organization that I realized some of the backstage author scenes.
During a breakfast interview I asked Nicolette Asselin how the conception for Vermont Press came about. “A few years back I met a local author, Lee Conrad Kemsley, who had just finished her book The Hunger Year. She shared with me her misgivings about having to market her book. As I listened to her reservations, I could identify a common trait shared by many people in the arts. Talented writers are productive but often remain unknown because selling is not in their constitution. My sister is a painter, and I remember her having similar struggles early on. As I later pondered for a solution, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen came to mind, and I thought of their successful development of a venue allowing craftsmen and women to find a place for their quality products of long hours of work.”
So, having identified the need, what were the next steps? “The solution came when we were able to gain a grant from CorpWell.org to make the initial jump. We asked Corpwell Media to create a website with stories about local authors. I need to clarify that despite it’s name it’s not a traditional press. There are several good Vermont Publisher such as Chelsea Green Press, Wind Ridge and Tuttle Publishing etc… the League of Vermont Writers offers many resources for new writers to find assistance in growing their skills and becoming successful published authors. However, as a 501(c), they could not provide the service offered now by Vermont Press.”
So, I am curious, why can’t you search Amazon or Google? “Believe it or not, if you were to search on Amazon, you would be hard-pressed to identify local authors.” I was surprised to hear this but realized they likely got lost in the haystack. “That’s indeed what happens—the same way a local farmer’s produce could get lost in supermarkets. So that is when we thought of the motto: ‘Eat Local. Read Local.’ Local authors are a significant part of the fabric that makes Vermont unique. Their voices are important to our communities but are often unknown and of course supports the local economy as well.”
Adding to the challenge is the fact that writing a single book can take up to three years or more, depending on the research required, Isn’t that correct? “An enormous investment of time and love goes into producing a single book sold usually for less than $20. Yet they rarely seem to recover the time and expenses given to this achievement.” After I thanked Nicolette, I continued on my search.
Vermont Press not only shares books written by Vermont authors but is also now available at local outdoor markets. Their first live event will be at the Bookstock Literary Festival, July 29–31, 2016. A panel held at the Norman Williams Public Library in Woodstock, Vermont, will feature three League of Vermont Writers—Cardy Raper, Justine O’Keefe, and Alice Eckles—at noon on Friday the 29th.
Justine O’Keefe’s first book, a historical novel, was based on her grandmother’s childhood. Scattered Pages, a new historical novel, explores a young woman’s struggle to discover the truth surrounding her childhood abandonment, even as the United States is pulled into World War I. The book spans generations, offering great insights and details into an important time in US history. (Published by Abbott Press.)
After moving to Middlebury, Alice Eckles shifted from teaching visual art to writing.
She authored A Phrase Book for Spiritual Emergencies, published in 2009, and more recently the novel The Literature Preferred by Wild Boar. Not your typical tale of post-apocalyptic doom, her novel is ultimately a story of hope. (Published by Dancing Bee Press.)
As an honorary Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an
author of numerous scientific writings, Dr. Cardy Raper stands as a fantastic role model for young women. In her new book, An American Harvest: How One Family Moved from Dirt-Poor Farming to a Better Life in the Early 1900s, she brings readers into her husband’s childhood. This family memoir, in the tradition of oral history, conveys the ins and outs of what it was like for a growing family to eke out a living on an eroded tobacco farm in the South. (Published by Green Writers Press.)
The League of Vermont Writers will be hosting a book signing on the Green following their panel discussion on Friday at the Norman Williams Public Library. On Saturday, on the Woodstock Green, visitors will be able to meet the following authors: 10-12: Tammy Hetrick, Jerry Johnson and Laurie McLaughlin. 12:00-2:00 Kathleen Schwartz, James Rizzo and Linda Cruise. 2:00-4:00 Sarah Henry and Cardy Raper.