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Willamette Writers Heard The Word.


What’s it take to get writers out of their rooms, to get them to interact with people beyond their circle of usual suspects?

A Willamette Writers meeting does it every time.

Cookies, coffee, and the Old Church make an enticing lure in downtown Portland.

Who wouldn’t go?

WW pulls membership from NW studios to SE bungalows, from SW McMansions to NE victorians.

They all showed up for the small press panel.

Three people sat on the altar WW commands once a month, the Old Church altar.

Abbey Gaterud, Terry Persun, and Jared John Smith broke it down for a room sprinkled with Portland baby boomers. Hit the links to see their sites.

All three brought a different angle on the small press experience and talked about it on stage.

An amateur handicapper, I secretly wondered which one would stand out from the others.

Rabbit via

Rabbit via

He sat stage left, his stubbled hair style and Woody Allen glasses above an expressionless face.

He’s who you hope a writer looks like: serious, intense, admitting his bewilderment.

“Years seem to go by and nothing happens, then everything happens in a short time.”

Who doesn’t root for the writer?

They do the work then fade away until the book feels like it wrote itself.

A publisher’s note from Amazon:

“Jared: We miss you, if you see your book on shelf somewhere, please reach out to us.

We owe you royalties.”

Money on the table is always a good sign.

  • Terry Persun, a small press expert, sat in the middle.

He collected his experience in Guidebook for Working with Small Independent Publishers.


From Amazon:

“Whenever I gave a talk or workshop about working with small, independent publishers, there was standing room only in the hall.

Afterward, many attendees asked if there was a book explaining what I’d gone over and I could never find one.

So, I wrote this from my class notes and made it available for those looking for a publishing venue other than the New York, big five.”

Terry knows small press publication inside out.

He looks like he’d give a good news/bad news assessment that wouldn’t ruin your life, just change it.

  • Abbey Gaterud had the last seat, her energy in check.

The publisher at Ooligan Press, Portland State’s small press, Abbey’s responses during the Q & A segment of the program sounded straight out of the teacher’s lounge, an insider’s insight for the rest of us.

If you traveled three thousand miles on a red-eye to meet one of New York’s Big 5 publishers and found yourself in her corner office, you’d be in good hands.


“In my day job, I am the publisher at Ooligan Press, a student-staffed trade publisher at Portland State University‚Äôs graduate program in publishing, as well as an instructor of publishing business and practices, book design, and digital design.

In between students and classes, I am an experienced and award-winning book designer and publisher. As a freelance designer, I work with a wide variety of clients, from poets to park rangers.

On the side, I run Blueroad Press, a small literary press, with my dad. A recent Blueroad title, A Song at Twilight: Of Alzheimer’s & Love, won the 2012 Minnesota Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and Memoir.”

To the back row of the Old Church, Abbey had reach. She was ready for any question, but seemed more ready to work on a book.

The blend of writers published by small presses, a small press expert, and a small press publisher warmed up a cold Portland night with enough information logs to start a bonfire worthy of Fahrenheit 451.

Which of the three stood out from the others? The champ of the night was the lady who asked the five part question that Abbey answered in two.

You’ve got to love someone who cuts it down and makes it better.











About David Gillaspie
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