IPNE Member Blog

News - Members, feel free to contribute! Please make sure that your posts relate to independent publishing, writing, or other topics of educational interest to IPNE members. If you are unclear about what type of material to post, please contact our biog editor.
  • 05 Nov 2015 7:57 AM | Anonymous

    In Days Gone By...Oral tales, songs, and poems reflected the lives of the people. They were stories and songs of wonder and dreams. They were told and discussed around the hearth, the marketplace, the spinning room, and in the taverns --wherever people gathered. They helped people to cope with wars, hunger, poverty and religious conflicts that characterized their lives.

    In the 16th and 17th centuries, Giambattista Basile, a Neopolitan  soldier, courtier and writer (1575-1632), collected and rewrote, in the language of ordinary people, 50 tales of wonder. They were called the Tale of Tales or the Pentamerone.   Now, for the first time, several of these tales have been adopted into a landmark Italian fairy tale film, the Tale of Tales.  -- (From our Barking Planet children's literature blog)    


  • 18 Oct 2015 11:01 AM | Deleted user

    It is our pleasure to highlight IPNE member and children's author Elizabeth Lorayne for this edition of Learn from Your Peers. Elizabeth will be at the Boston Book Festival on Saturday, October 24th for an IPNE author signing event

    When did you know you were a writer?

    I think my personal acknowledgment that I am a writer came from realizing that I tend to communicate better through writing and that my desire to then share those thoughts, stories, characters, and visuals was truly a part of who I am. I have been writing since childhood, often stories inspired by dreams. As I got older, I took to journaling and writing poetry as ways to express myself. My writing abilities became more refined through numerous writing courses in high school and college and just simply with practice.

    Writing haiku, as how I’ve written the book, came from a need to get back to being creative. At the time I started writing haiku, my daughter was six months old and we were deep in an all-consuming house restoration. There was no real access, time or energy for my usual art — collage and printmaking. I had started a blog and through the Wordpress community I was reconnected with haiku. I researched the traditional forms of haiku, how they are usually about nature and have a surprise twist or ending. From there, I let myself play and experiment.

    What does your writing process look like?

    That really depends on what kind of writing I’m working on, but in general my process includes quieting my mind and not overthinking — just writing. For the haiku in The Adventures of Piratess Tilly, I have found that for the more educational pieces, simple information or visual references are more than enough for me to create the haiku. As for the pieces I’ve created on my own, I simply interweave bits of my own childhood and younger self into the overall story. One of the reasons I feel the haiku works so well for a children’s picture book is because it can be descriptive and yet open ended. It gives the reader and audience a great deal of room for their own imagination even alongside the beautiful artwork. It gives the reader their own sense of involvement and I love that!

    Tell us about your book, The Adventures of Piratess Tilly.

    The Adventures of Piratess Tilly follows a young adventurous and compassionate girl, Tilly, on her sailing quest to document the flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands. Her crew consists of seven orphaned boys from around the world and her best friend Yuki, a koala she rescued in Australia. As budding naturalists they spend their time on the ship reading Charles Darwin, sketching, painting, and documenting their nature finds. Once they arrive, they see the beautiful landscape and spot several animals. They even come upon pirates! And those pirates just happen to be smuggling baby Giant Tortoises. So of course Piratess Tilly, Yuki, and the brothers create a plan to rescue them and return them to their family!

    The story was greatly inspired by my upbringing: bike riding, boating, and exploring the shorelines of the Pacific Northwest, as well as from studying primatology, and anthropology as a young adult.

    And once I had a daughter, I realized how much I wanted to create and share a strong, independent, curious, intelligent, and compassionate female lead. I wanted my daughter to grow up reading about a young female captain, who was intelligent and perfectly capable of adventure and leadership. And this is certainly not the last story with Piratess Tilly! I have finished writing the second book and have begun the illustration process with Karen Watson. We have all set sail for Easter Island! So please stay tuned!

    Why did you choose to self-publish?

    I primarily chose to self-publish because I wanted full control over the book. I wanted to find the illustrator myself and work with her closely. I also wanted to build my own publishing company in hopes expanding one day to include publishing other girl-empowering works by women. I suppose I’ve always been someone who never fit the mold and I knew that what I had created was out of the norm, and therefore to me, that much more worthy of publishing it myself.

    What roadblocks or obstacles did you face?

    I think the actual book production was the biggest obstacle. I wanted to print in the U.S.A, but the costs were prohibitive for what I wanted with my book: hardcover with dust-jacket, offset printing, 32 pages, 8 1/2” by 11 size, and a smaller run.

    How do you balance being a mom with writing and promoting a book?

    Honestly, I’m not really sure. I somehow get a lot accomplished in several two minute increments throughout the day! My daughter is now just over three years old so she is attending a morning program, which allows me the focused time I need for promotion, research, writing blog posts, or creating the graphics for postcards and social media posts. I’ve found though, that if I’m in haiku writing mode, I tend to be very distracted for those few days; however meals always need to be made and everyday life still goes by regardless. I allow for those everyday routines to give my mind time to mull over ideas. It all seems to work out in the end and everyone gets what they need!

    Other than IPNE, what are some other valuable resources for children's authors and publishers?

    I became a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators right away when I felt my story was ready and that I was serious about publication. They are a fabulous organization and I highly recommend joining. They have bicoastal and regional conferences as well as meet-ups and online forums. It was through them that I found the illustrator, Karen Watson!

    I also suggest taking a class on writing for children. It isn’t as easy as people tend to first believe. Having an understanding of those guidelines is definitely helpful. I had taken a course in college on writing for young adults. Although that isn’t the same as picture book writing, it still helped me.

    How did you choose the illustrations for your book? How did you structure your working relationship with the illustrator?

    Working with Karen Watson was absolutely wonderful! I gave her written descriptions of how I wanted each page. She not only executed my ideas perfectly, she also added so much fine detail and on a particular page I was stuck on, she came up with a wonderful setting. As I had never done this before, Karen guided me through her own process. I loved getting an email with several pages worth of initial sketches, then line drawings, and finally the finished painted pages. Her work is both meticulous and whimsical, which is perfect for Piratess Tilly, who is studious and fun-loving!

    What advice do you have for other indie publishers? How can we find your book?

    Don’t give up! If you believe in your book and what you’ve created gives you a sense of pride, then do whatever you can to get it into the hands of readers and supporters. Also, be creative with marketing, think outside of the box. For instance, I donated a few books to the Galapagos Conservancy, where the proceeds will go to benefitting their many programs. Not only does that tie into the book, it supports something important and there is no saying what that relationship will become. Also take chances! No matter how nervous I was, I sent The Adventures of Piratess Tilly for a Kirkus Review and was overwhelmingly relieved they understood and appreciated the book! Because of that I felt confident to send the book to Publishers Weekly and got another good review. I believed in the book and the overall product of what was created! Go for it!

    You can find The Adventures of Piratess Tilly on the book’s website: http://piratesstilly.com and on Amazon. Feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or the blog for more updates on local stores and more sites. 

  • 10 Oct 2015 10:27 AM | Charlotte Pierce (Administrator)

    Authors Jane Hanser and Grace Stevens, IPNE@NEIBA

    We had great time at the New England Independent Booksellers Assn. conference this year! Collaboration and mutual support was everywhere; our first pleasant surprise was the 8 am setup by IPNE early bird member and exhibiting author Grace Ann Stevens, who went on to attend the NEIBA Author Breakfast. 

    Also on the floor were IPNE vice-president & author Ruth W. Crocker of Elm Grove Press; past president & founding member Pamela Fenner of Michaelmas PressPeeragogy Handbook contributor Karen Einstein, and Peeragogy co-editor & publisher and IPNE president Charlotte Pierce of Pierce Press.

    Author Marion A. Stahl and IPNE Book Awards finalists Glenna Collett of Book Design Made Simple and Jane Hanser of Dogs Don't Look Both Ways represented IPNE admirably while doing their autographing sessions. Jane and Glenna both continued after their sessions, spotting booksellers and handing out catalogs and flyers.

    Book designer Tammy Sneddon worked the floor for IPNE and represented her husband, IPNE Nonfiction Award winner Rob Sneddon, author of Boston's 100 Greatest Games.  

    Author Maria Kamoulakou of the upcoming Adventures of Hope & Trusty: Sky Cloud City was spotted helping at the booth, taking photos, and roaming about the halls with her husband Carl. Meanwhile, our 2015 Book Awards have received great coverage in Shelf AwarenessGoodreads, and HuffPost Books!

  • 04 Oct 2015 11:25 AM | Anonymous

    Hope and Celebration - Light in the darkness, time out for happiness, wonder and magic...Enter the world of tales told by people, of stories that live on, of tales of wonder, fairy tales.

    Our December Children's Literature blog ranges from Dickens to Kenneth Graham's caroling mice; from refugee children to Mockingjay 2

    - See more at: http://barkingplanet.typepad.com/#sthash.alJmdNKf.dpuf

  • 03 Oct 2015 2:59 PM | Deleted user



    PO Box 206
    Arlington MA 02476
    Tel: (339) 368-5656

    Independent Publishers of New England Announces Winners and Finalists of the 2015 IPNE Book Awards

    Independent Titles Score Top Honors in the 2nd Annual IPNE Book Awards

    ARLINGTON, MA – (October 3, 2015) Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE) announced the winners and finalists of the 2015 IPNE Book Awards at their annual conference on September 25, 2015. Thirty winners and finalists were announced in ten categories. Awards were presented for titles published in 2013, 2014, and 2015 with one category open to perennial sellers.

    “The caliber of books produced by IPNE members has risen dramatically since we started producing the awards," said Charlotte Pierce, IPNE president, "and the winners and finalists this year demonstrate definitively that indies can produce books of the finest quality.”

    Award-Winning Titles Include:

    Books of the Year:

    Rachel’s Day in the Garden by Giselle Shardlow (Tie)

    Breathe: A Memoir of Motherhood, Grief, and Family Conflict by Kelly Kittel (Tie)

    Order of Seven by Beth Teliho (Runner-Up)

    Literary Fiction


    Wait Until I’m Dead! by Elda M. Dawber


    Dogs Don't Look Both Ways: A Primer on Unintended Consequences by Jane Hanser

    Grants Ferry by David Chase

    Genre Fiction


    Murdered Sleep by R.A. Harold


    In the Waters of Time by Bette Lischke

    Dante’s Cypher by T. Stephens



    Rachel’s Day in the Garden by Giselle Shardlow


    Freedom Trail Pop Up Book of Boston by Denise D. Price

    Thomas Holland and the Prophecy of Elfhaven by K.M. Doherty

    Young Adult


    Order of Seven by Beth Teliho


    Dogs Don't Look Both Ways: A Primer on Unintended Consequences by Jane Hanser

    Somewhere in Between by Katie Li

    Narrative Nonfiction


    Breathe: A Memoir of Motherhood, Grief, and Family Conflict by Kelly Kittel


    Those Who Remain: Remembrance and Reunion After War by Ruth W. Crocker

    Finding Zoe by Brandi Rarus and Gail Harris

    Informational Nonfiction


    Boston’s 100 Greatest Games by Rob Sneddon


    The Real Dirt on Composting by Cheryl Wilfong

    Brave: A Painfully Shy Life by Helen Rivas-Rose

    Specialty Books


    Seacoast: The Seasons of New Hampshire by Bob McGrath


    Freedom Trail Pop Up Book of Boston by Denise D. Price

    The Ella Zoo by Elizabeth Dimmette Coyne

    Cover Design


    The Real Dirt on Composting by Cheryl Wilfong


    Brave: A Painfully Shy Life by Helen Rivas-Rose

    Wait Until I’m Dead! by Elda M. Dawber

    Book Presentation & Marketing


    Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Mayer


    The Troubles by Connie Johnson Hambley

    Brave: A Painfully Shy Life by Helen Rivas-Rose

    Full results along with cover images are available at IPNE.org.

    Crystal Ponti, Project Leader for the 2015 Book Awards and current IPNE board member, says, “Our book awards program success begins with the enthusiastic participation of indie authors and publishers and continues with our exceptional panel of judges who are librarians with extensive writing, editorial, and book industry experience.”

    IPNE’s mission is to provide opportunities for education and networking for those engaged in independent book publishing and related activities in the six New England states. IPNE offers educational programs, networking, marketing opportunities, advocacy, and information about publishing. 


  • 03 Oct 2015 11:23 AM | Anonymous

    Our October children's literature blog asks the question, What Is Real?...Mysteries,  unexplainable events, magic and wonder, have been woven into the fabric of life for most of the time we've been on this planet. One man's fox was also a prince; one princess' frog was also a prince; and a beast may be transformed into a handsome prince when a tear of love falls on his cheek. Fairy tales are the echoes of days gone by when reality had many meanings ... Visit us at Barking Planet ............................. 

  • 02 Oct 2015 1:00 PM | Deleted user

    Our thanks to Pam Fenner, Charlotte Pierce, Amy Ray, Karen Einstein, Steve Porter, Angela Bole and everyone who made the 2015 IPNE Publishing Conference a success! My colleague Mike Mavilia [Head Barista at Fictional Cafe] and I had a wonderful time at this well organized and smooth-running conference. The Sheraton Harborside was an ideal venue and our meeting rooms were close enough to make events easy to attend. [Thanks for getting me a projector, guys!] The range of speaker topics was always interesting, the food was good, and the bookstore a superb addition to the vendor displays. I bought copy of Denise Price's wonderful book, "The Freedom Trail Pop-Up Book", for my grandsons. I also had the opportunity to meet Paul Parisi, owner of the HF Group and Acme Bookbinding, where I have my novels beautifully [and expensively] bound in leather. Indeed, both Mike and I met many interesting people from all walks in the publishing business, some of whom will become contributors to Fictional Cafe. We look forward to next year's conference!

    Jack B. Rochester

    Founding Barista


  • 02 Oct 2015 9:45 AM | Deleted user

    Congratulations to Charlotte, Pam, Tordis and all who made last Saturday's  conference such a  success. I sat in on some great presentations and the networking opportunities were excellent.

    I have organized many similar events so I understand what goes into pulling one off. Thank you for all the time and effort you put into making it happen.

  • 30 Sep 2015 6:25 PM | Deleted user

    If you don't know a lot about podcasting, today is the day you can learn more at International Podcast Day! This one snuck right up on me, even though I just delivered a presentation last Saturday at the Independent Publishers of New England conference on the subject.

    I love podcasting. It's a technology which gives readers a chance to listen to works of interest on their phones, in their cars, while jogging or bicycling - whenever and wherever they want. That's why you'll see my novels podcast right here on Fictional Café.

    Very soon you'll be seeing many other podcasting offerings here from other artists as well. So jump over to learn more about podcasting at International Podcast Day, join the conversation at Blab, and check out our offerings here at the Café, too!


  • 29 Sep 2015 9:41 AM | Deleted user

    Life in a Jar: The Irene Sendler Project, by Jack MayerWe were honored to speak with IPNE member and 2015 Book Award winner Jack Mayer who penned the incredible book Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project.

    Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project (2011) is the true story of a Holocaust hero, Irena Sendler, who rescued 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto, and the three Kansas teens who rescued her forgotten story 60 years later. 

    Here’s a peek into his indie journey:

    When did you know you were a writer?


    I've been a closet writer for more than forty years, mostly writing for myself, poetry, short stories, essays about my pediatric practice, and hiking The Long Trail in Vermont. (I loved writing stories in elementary and middle school, then went into literary hibernation until completing my medical education and training.)

    What does your writing process look like?

    My writing process is somewhat random and chaotic… writing when and where I can. I always have index cards and a pencil in my pocket. Notes, maps, reference texts all over the place. Over the six years I spent writing Life in a Jar I spent many hours researching the Warsaw ghetto, immersed myself in diaries, memoirs, first-person accounts, and scholarly writing about Warsaw in WWII. I also had many hours of tape recorded interviews from Kansas and Poland. I wrote when I could, early or late, sometimes between patients in my office, or while on-call waiting for the delivery of a high-risk newborn.

    Why did you choose to self-publish? What roadblocks or obstacles did you face? 

    I self-published (Lightning Source) my non-fiction book Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project (2011) after receiving multiple rejections from mainstream publishers. I've had a few agents trying to sell the book to no avail. What drove me past these obstacles was my undying belief in the importance of these two intertwined stories, a forgotten Holocaust hero and a contemporary story of typical American teens "rescued the rescuer" and changed the world. 

    Since then the book has sold almost 50,000 copies, has a 5-star Amazon review rating (400 reviews), and has received 8 book awards, including the 2015 Eric Hoffer First Horizon Non-Fiction Award for debut authors. 

    You've had enormous success promoting Life in a Jar. Could you tell us about some of the ways you've promoted your book? Successes? Failures? 

    I've employed multiple strategies for book promotion. The teacher who initiated this project retired from teaching and established the Life in a Jar Foundation as part of the Lowell Milken Center, Fort Scott, Kansas to work with high school students in every state and more than thirty countries on Unsung Hero Projects that, like the Life in a Jar/Irena Sendler Project, reflect and promote Irena Sendler's legacy of tolerance, courage, and respect for all people. Fifteen years later, the Center, with new student actors, still presents the play at venues in the U.S., Poland, and Canada, where the book is sold. They also sell the book through their website. I donate 60 percent of my author royalties to the Life in a Jar Foundation as my tribute to this amazing organization and the powerful good they do to repair the world and inspire students to do what they can to repair the world. (I am a child of Holocaust survivors and quite sensitive to the commercialization of the Holocaust. I aspire to cover my costs and only earn enough from the sales of the book to continue speaking about it and spreading the legacy of Irena Sendler and the "girls from Kansas".) 

    As an indie publisher I established my website, Long Trail Press, with information about the book, the project, my author bio, a list of awards and reviews, etc. I created a YouTube trailer with the help of my book designer, Winslow Colwell. Win's book cover art was recognized with the 2011 da Vinci Eye Award (Eric Hoffer Book Award).

    One of the most powerful promotional aids has been as a member of the Speakers Bureau of the Vermont Humanities Council (VHC), which facilitates my talks in various community settings all over Vermont. The VHC pays a small honorarium and the venue can be as few as ten people in a rural library or hundreds in Burlington, our largest city. I have also spoken and done book signings for more than a hundred groups in the U.S., Poland, Canada, and the U.K. including schools, book clubs, book stores, churches, synagogues, libraries, adult education, teacher, and Holocaust conferences, etc. When possible, I accompany the Kansas students to their performances of the play and speak there as well as sign books. I'm still a part-time pediatrician, so that is somewhat of a balancing act as well. 

    I've been fortunate to receive enthusiastic reviews from among others, Jay Parini, a 5-star Foreward Clarion Reivew, Kirkus Reviews, U.S. Review of books, Michele Forman (National Teacher of the Year - 2001), etc. 

    Some failures and frustrations along the way: I was unable to have my book reviewed by mainstream newspapers, magazines, journals, etc. As an unknown, self-publishing author I had no way into these media platforms for an assessment of my book. I was just ignored. Ouch! I am now trying to interest a mainstream educational publisher in a 3rd edition of the book aimed at school audiences. So far, no luck! 

    Your book has been translated into multiple languages. How did this happen? What approach did you use?

    Life in a Jar has been translated into four languages: Polish, Russian, Chinese, and French. I did not seek out these translations, rather I was approached by publishers or agents in each country who came across the story in one way or another. (The Chinese literary agent learned of the story from the Chinese Reader's Digest!) I went to Poland for the release of the Polish translation in 2013 and was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Jerzy Pomianowski, gave multiple media interviews, and spoke to students at one of thirty-five Irena Sendler schools in Poland, along with one of the children she rescued, Elzbieta Ficowska, a spokesperson for Child Survivors of the Holocaust in Poland. She was rescued by Irena as a five month old infant and, in her later life, Elzbieta helped care for Irena in her old age. Before Life in a Jar/Irena Sendler Project, Irena was unknown in Poland.

    What impact has Irena Sendler had on your life and writing?

    I accompanied the Kansas students to Poland on one of their many journeys to present the play and meet with Irena Sendler over the last eight years of her life. I met Irena and interviewed her as well as children she rescued and scholars of the Warsaw ghetto. We walked the streets of the ghetto, which I knew by heart because of my intensive research.  

    My encounter with Irena Sendler and the Kansas students has profoundly impacted my life. Liz, Megan, and Sabrina have demonstrated to me and those who read the book, the power of one person, a teenager, to change the world. As a child of Holocaust survivors I feel a mission to document and memorialize the best of humanity that arose at such a challenging time. As a pediatrician, I immunize against microbial disease; as a writer, I invoke memory as our best immunization against the atrocities we inflict upon each other… an ethical immunization that foster respect, love, and justice against the disease of intolerance, hatred, and violence. My fondest wish, my hope, my prayer, is that after reading Life in a Jar, young people another generation removed from the Holocaust will remember the Warsaw ghetto and be inspired by what these Kansas teens accomplished. Hopefully, they will be inspired to do what they can to "repair the world.”  

    What advice do you have for other indie publishers? How can we find your books?

    Life in a Jar is available at local bookstores, through Ingram, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and is also in a Nook, Kindle, and iBook electronic format. The audio book is now being produced by Tantor Media and should be available soon. Tantor Media approached me after seeing my book at BookExpo America in New York City. I also continue to advertise with IPNE and IBPA for more visibility and promotion… two invaluable resources that helped me navigate the steep, but rewarding learning curve that is indie publishing.  

    In the end, for me, indie publishing was a matter of do or die. I believe so strongly in this story and my telling of it, that I was not going to be defeated by the obstacles. I suppose it's a matter of faith, and a willingness to fail. I was frightened many times during this process, but as a friend of mine observed, "If you're not scared, it isn't courage." 

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