Pumpkin Wars

It’s almost time for Halloween, boys and girls! It’s that very special time of year when we get to cast off the shackles of sartorial convention and embrace the thespian in us all. Or, as Sue Sylvester puts it, it’s “that day when boys dress like girls and girls dress like—” well, you get the picture. Add to this an abundance of pasties, puffs, candies, and chocolates, two healthy dollops of the macabre and the supernatural, and a wild saturnalia or six, and you have one of the most bizarre, hedonistic celebrations America can claim.

In other words, my favorite holiday.

I love the costumes. I love the candy. I shriek like a goosed parrot every time I go into a haunted house or hear a ghost story, but deep down I love the creeptacular too.

Sometime between birth and second grade, Halloween ceased to be a single day for me and gradually became its own season, one that did not truly start until my sister and I had picked and carved our pumpkins. For most children, carving pumpkins is a fun, straightforward event that begins in the pumpkin patch and ends with grinning (or leering) jack-o’-lanterns proudly displayed on porch steps. My sister and I, however, made a point to never do things simply if there was a more convoluted method to be had.

In my family, picking a pumpkin was not so much a selection process as it was a competition between sworn enemies to nab the perfect specimen of pumpkin-ness. My sister and I entered the pumpkin patch like drag racers armed with wheelbarrows. Bolting down the rows of squash and gourds, we set our sights on the orange prizes and piled our carts high. Trash talk—such as eight- and ten-year-olds could invent—was common.

“My pumpkin’s bigger than your pumpkin.”

“Well, my pumpkin’s prettier than your pumpkin.”

“That’s not a pumpkin.”

“Yes, it is.”

“It’s white. Pumpkins are orange.”

“It’s a ghost pumpkin, duh. And besides, you can’t even lift your pumpkin, so mine’s better, so there.

Though bitter rivals in the field, once our chosen pumpkins were in hand (and loudly touted as the Best Pumpkins Ever), my sister and I always joined forces in order to plan the best way to lobotomize them.

Insert evil laugh here Photo credit: Doctor Dan on Wikimedia Commons

Our parents never let us cut the tops off ourselves (hyperactive children + pointy objects = bad idea), but that didn’t stop me from laughing like a mad scientist when the lids were finally removed and the pumpkin brains exposed. Pointedly eschewing the spoons our parents had left out for us, my sister and I would fill our hands full of pumpkin innards and parade the goop around the kitchen, trying to smear the stuff on each other and bellowing “Guuuuuuuuuts!” like pumpkin zombies.

Eventually, we would remember why we had cut open the pumpkins in the first place and get down to carving them. In this I was always at a disadvantage, not for lack of skill (though that was admittedly scanty) but because, somehow or another, I always managed to pick the thickest pumpkin in the entire patch. (To this day, I have yet to pick a pumpkin that did not turn out to be denser than a steel bunker. I have come to believe that pumpkins, in general, must have some sort of gourdish vendetta against me.)

My kit of dinky kids’ carving knives were never a match for the thick shell, so I usually resorted to hacking away at the inside with a spoon while my sister tried to hide her smirk. She could smirk all she wanted. I had my perfect pumpkin, and now Halloween could begin.

Marit Hanson is the (other) new editorial intern at Fulcrum. Hailing from that bastion of snow and Scandinavians—Minnesota—she is a Wikipedia addict, chocoholic, and faithful advocate of all snark.

Like this?

Make sure to check out Gloria Evangelista’s addition to the Halloween canon, In Search of the Perfect Pumpkin.

Better yet, enter Fulcrum’s In Search of the Perfect Pumpkin giveaway and win the book in time for Halloween!

And for some truly impressive pumpkin carvings/designs, check this out.

5 Reasons Why Interning Is Better than Working at a Restaurant

We’ve all heard the stereotypes concerning internships. About how they’re free-labor, waste-of-time, refill-your-boss’s-coffee-cup types of jobs. If they’re even jobs, because oh wait, we’re not really getting paid. Still, while some of these internships might warrant the stigma, I haven’t had that experience. As an admittedly terrible waitress (I can charm you all meal, but I’ll likely forget to bring the butter, and your refill, and oh, that’s Sprite and not water?!? I’m so sorry, I’ll get you a new one.), I’ve had much worse experiences. Aside from the while not getting paid enough money to eat and pay rent issue, here are the top 5 reasons why interning for a publisher like Fulcrum is a much better gig.

  1. Working = being a book and Internet nerd, not talking to myself as I stress over if I remember what side you wanted with your meal (which I could have sworn I wrote down.) I basically get to read interesting and intriguing books, and then share them with you on the Internet universe. Being on Twitter and Facebook is where I’m supposed to be, and not where I’m spending my time instead of working on my seminar thesis. (Which is a random example and nothing I would have ever dreamed of doing while in school, of course.) That’s a pretty sweet deal.
  2. I get my coffee, no one else’s. I also drink it, never forget the cream and sugar, and best of all, don’t have to juggle six plates and cups and spoons to get it to my desk. The best part? It all fits in this handy thing called a giant mug that could happen to have a meowing cat, a flower pattern, or the name of some obsolete literary journal on it to make you feel smart. So much more interesting. Also, I’ve never been afraid of tripping while carrying it to my desk.
  3. There is no nametag, no introducing myself thirty times a day, and no sixty-year-old man looking blatantly below my chin to remember my name later for when he needs to holler for more bread. (This actually does happen.) And while my email account is intern2@fulcrumbooks.com (Send me a note!), I don’t feel like Dr. Seuss’s Thing 2. If someone I talk to here doesn’t know my name, they’ve fooled me. (It’s Stacie, by the way.)

    May I take your order?

  1. I get to dress like… a girl. There is some strange man laughing at the corporate headquarters of the restaurant where I work. Somehow, he has convinced thousands of women across the United States to wear little boy’s white collared shirts and ties. Not only does it take me minutes of my life (that I will never get back) to button up the opposite way I’ve been buttoning shirts my entire life, but I look like I wanted to be a male 1920s silent film actor for Halloween. All I need is a bowler hat and a nice mustache. Exhibit A: Imagine this man with bangs, and that’s me at the restaurant.
  1. I’m one step closer to what I actually want to do. Not that bringing your calamari isn’t at the top of my list of life goals, but I think I’m going to stick with what I know: Books, Blogs, and…social media networking. (There’s no smooth B-word for that, unfortunately.) I guess what I’m trying to say, lovely readers of this blog, is appreciate your servers and your interns. Most of us have to be one (for better or worse) so we can do the other. Oh, and please be careful. Those plates really are hot.

PS: To anyone who may or may not know my name…my name is actually Diana, so if you call me Stacie, I’ll know that you not only don’t know my name, but you also didn’t read my whole blog post. [Insert evil laugh here.] I’m not your average intern.

Diana is the new marketing intern at Fulcrum. A recently relocated Hoosier, she spends her time searching for bike paths, reading classics, making milkshakes, and pretending to know everything about the Midwest. She’s also a good cook and, as mentioned, a terrible waitress.

 

Like this? Try these…

A slightly more vengeful intern: http://internspills.blogspot.com/

Want to read some rants and outrageous stories? Go here: http://bitterwaitress.com/forums/blog.php

For if you’ve lived in the mountains too long: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midwestern_United_States

Now is the time to see Alaska. And bears. And moose.

This month, Fulcrum releases the fourth edition of the best-selling The World-Famous Alaska Highway: A Guide to the Alcan & Other Wilderness Roads of the North (ISBN-13: 978-155591-749-4, $22.95) by Tricia Brown, giving readers detailed info on the Alaska Highway—or Alcan, as it is more commonly known. For nearly seventy years, this roadway has enchanted motorists with its breathtaking mountain vistas, winding past  sparkling streams and lakes through Canada and the Canadian Rockies and into Alaska, the Last Frontier. Did I mention the wildlife?

Go to Alaska. If you have ever had the smallest of inklings to see this stunning place, trust me, you should. I went one summer during high school, when I visited a quirky aunt and uncle living in Valdez, because my parents had it in their heads that this city kid needed to have a “wilderness experience.” Okay, most of what I remember borders on traumatic: they were renovating their double-wide trailer and we had to shower outside in our birthday suits via garden hose (which my parents had failed to mention to me). But, if that’s not a wilderness experience, I don’t know what is.

Trauma aside, I have amazing memories of an unbelievable place that is almost untouched by man…the crisp, clean air, endless hours of daylight (we usually had dinner around 11 pm), the northern lights, and the wildlife strolling about as if they owned the place. For someone who had only ever seen BIG animals in the zoo, to see a moose standing next to our car is an experience I will never forget.

We recently caught up with author Tricia Brown to discuss the latest edition of her book and why she thinks Alaska is such a great travel destination.

Please tell us a little about how your passion for Alaska was sparked.

My extended family began trickling up to Alaska in the early 1970s, and their glowing letters and phone calls convinced us to finally make the move in 1978. The gigantic fish! The midnight sun! A wolf spotted right there on the edge of town! My salesman dad tended toward hyperbole, so I wasn’t sure—really—what we’d encounter on the 4,000-mile drive and in Alaska itself. But it truly was surreal. It was like moving to another planet, where the sun didn’t set and kids went to bed, and people mowed their lawns at 10:30 pm. And the mosquitoes were true to legend. Plus, coming from the cornfields of the Midwest, the rugged surroundings were exotically beautiful, and the mingling of Native and non-Native cultures fascinated me.

What was the most challenging part of updating the book the third time? Favorite part?

It’s a logistical challenge to plan for a drive-up, fly-back trip, especially if you rent an RV, as I do. So I begin by renting a car in Portland for the one-way drive to Everett, Washington, the nearest Cruise America rental site, then load everything from the rental car into the motor home before returning it. The whole time I’m packing, I have to think about flying it all back, so I really get lean on what to bring along.

An unpleasant highlight of this year’s trip was when I suffered a gallbladder attack while camping in a remote site in northern British Columbia. At that particular spot, we were camped outside of cell phone service, but within range of a wireless network. With more facts from medical sites, and knowing the mileage from the last town to the next town, we were able to decide to see it through until morning, when the pain had subsided and we could press onward to Whitehorse. I made sure this edition has solid information about what to do in case of a medical emergency! (And I said buh-bye to the gallbladder two weeks after we got home.)

What recommendations/tips do you have for first time travelers on the Alcan or even to Alaska or Canada?

I always encourage people to pace themselves, to slow down and enjoy Canada as much as they will Alaska. Everybody’s in a hurry to get to their destination, but Canada’s west is so great, it shouldn’t be rushed through, especially for those who appreciate natural history and human history. You can fly right by a bear feeding at the forest’s edge or miss a sign that describes the hazards of road building. There are incredible museums, great restaurants, rodeos, water parks, and the like. Have some fun.

For those who want to see bears, especially, I recommend traveling in late May. Sure, it’s chillier and the leaves haven’t fully opened in the Far North, but this is the time when black and brown bears are coming out of hibernation and feeding on the new spring grasses along the edge of the woods. One year, we counted nearly three dozen blackies. (An obvious tip: stay in the car for your photos and don’t take risks around wildlife.)

What kind of personal feedback have you received about the book in previous editions? What do you hope readers will notice/learn/love about this latest edition?

I want to make the trip easier and more fun. I want to be a trusted voice offering insights and insider tips to my friends. This edition is loaded with photos and details on where to go and what to see, lists of hotels, restaurants, and campgrounds to aid in planning, and essential information on miles between cities. It’s planning made easy.


Where do we go from here?

The book above got your attention, didn’t it?

Why?

Because it is bright red? Because the title caused you to take a second look? Or, because the cover had the word “sex” on it?

What can we do as book publishers to make our information, our blogs, our posts on Twitter and Facebook more interesting (like this cover)? What can we do to draw you in through social media or otherwise? What do you, as lifelong learners and readers, want to know about us, our books, our authors, the publishing process or current trends and concerns?

We know how to publish books, but we don’t how to predict the future. Tell us what you want from us. Please send us your questions, comments, concerns. We are listening.

Valentine’s Day

Author Amelia Klem Osterud, a tattooed academic librarian from Wisconsin and one cool lady.

Valentine’s Day is cheesy. I was given a large (I mean, LARGE) red bear by a Valentine’s Day date about 7 years ago. I was 20 at the time.  Unfortunately, I had given away all of my stuffed animals by junior high, so a red stuffed bear with a shiny heart on its tummy kind of made me sick in mine. Not only did the date insist I accept the bear when I tried to give it back to him with a “Oh, no, you shouldn’t have,” he also had a very small car, so the bear sat on my lap driving to and from dinner that night. I could barely see around the monstrosity of fluff as he sped down the freeway. I would have preferred to tie it to the roof of the car…

That was a bad Valentine’s Day.

Luckily, there are other options than large red stuffed bears to give your date. May I recommend one, as a scarred February 14 victim of 7 years ago?

Give her a book. Give her a book that she really wants to read. Give her a book she would buy for herself. Something she would LOVE. Give her this book:

We at Fulcrum LOVE this book. We would buy this book for ourselves. It is beautiful, informative, it will make you appreciate the birth of a counterculture and all your tattooed friends even more. And, it is about women. Wonderful, strong, gutsy, fun women of yore. Women love this stuff. And you will have a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Trust me, don’t buy the bear : ).

Trickster… a sneak peek

Fulcrum publishes graphic novels??!!

That’s right! For the first time in our quarter-century publishing history, we are breaking out into a new genre with this amazing collection of  Native American trickster tales. It is the first collection of its kind. Editor Matt Dembicki, of DC Conspiracy fame, brought together more than 20 Native American storytellers from the Cherokee Nation to the Chickaloon Village to visually tell their individual stories with carefully selected illustrators.

Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection is funny, dramatic, and educational. It is a powerful collection that will, like many graphic novels of late, appeal to both children and adults. Look for it on shelves in the next few months, and check back here often for more Trickster sneak peeks!

We are very excited about this one!

Visit Matt’s author blog at http://matt-dembicki.blogspot.com.

And… don’t forget we are on Twitter and Facebook! Stop by, leave a comment, or ask a question. We are proud to share our books with you!

Buffalo Bill’s Final Cover Process

Today has been one of those creative days in the office. I always enjoy creative days. It’s nice to switch up putting out e-mail fires and completing follow-up with creative marketing/design project or two.

One of our Spring 2010 titles is an illustrated history of Buffalo Bill, written by Steve Friesen and using the collection at the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave (in Golden, CO). The marketing team has already been having a great time getting ready for this book. We even took a field trip up to the museum this past summer to go through the collection, and get marketing schwag ideas from the gift shop. (Can you say Buffalo Bill shot glasses??)

But today it was time to finalize the full jacket with text, images, etc. I find it fascinating how a group of people can take a decent cover, throw around ideas, tweak a little text, move a few images, and really sharpen the book.

My favorite elements are –

  • Quotes about Buffalo Bill from Annie Oakley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Zane Grey.
  • An ornate pink lamp from the museum’s collection with Bill’s face on it.

I can’t post the full jacket yet since it’s being edited. But I’ll post the front cover. Of course we always love feedback.

What do you think? Buffalo Bill: Scout, Showman and Visionary will be published in May 2010.

Awards, Awards, Awards!

Congratulations to our authors and designers! This past week we got great news about four of our recent titles and wanted to share the excitement.

logo_name_horizontal.aiThe Long Knives Are Crying by Joseph M. Marshall III (a sweeping tale of the Battle of the Little Bighorn from the Native perspective) has been named a finalist for the 2009 Spur Awards in the Best Long Novel category.

logo_name_horizontal.aiLines from a Mined Mind by John Trudell (a powerful poetry anthology by the acclaimed musician and Native activist) and designed by Jack Lenzo has been awarded a Silver Medal in the Publishers Association of the West 2009 Book Design Awards in the Short Story/Poetry/Anthology category.

654-6The Principled Politician: The Ralph Carr Story by Adam Schrager (the inspiring story of Governor Ralph Carr and his fight for Japanese-American rights in Colorado) has been announced as a finalist in the 2009 Colorado Book Awards in the Biography category.

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Democratic National Convention 2008: Obama’s Mile High Moment by The Denver Post (a photographic tribute of convention in Denver) has been announced as a finalist in the 2009 Colorado Book Awards in the Pictorial category.

Nicely done, everyone!

Shiny new blog!

Keep your eyes on our new blog, wonderful things will be appearing here soon!