Introducing Laurel Everywhere

Severe loss. For fifteen-year-old Laurel Summers, those two words don’t cut it. They don’t even come close. Laurel couldn’t tell you the last words she spoke to her mother and siblings if her life depended on it—maybe something about pizza. Some guy decided to drive drunk, and now she sees the ghosts of her family everywhere. After the car accident, she and her dad are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered life, but her dad is struggling with his grief and depression. It’s up to Laurel to hold everything together. With the help of her grandparents, her two best friends, and some random airport strangers, Laurel tries to make sense of her pain. She must come to terms with the things on her List of Things Not to Talk About, learn to trust her dad again, and—on top of it all—keep her heart open to love, even in the wake of her immense loss.

Ooligan Press is excited to announce our newest YA novel, Laurel Everywhere by debut author Erin Moynihan, set to launch November 10, 2020. Laurel Everywhere is an intimate depiction of the grief and mental-health issues often experienced with the loss of loved ones. The novel highlights complicated family relationships in the wake of tragedy: Laurel grapples with her own feelings of loss while her father spirals into a deeper depression, requiring a long stay in a hospital that specializes in grief. Although much of the book focuses on grief, loss, and mental health, Laurel Everywhere is also a story of survival, love, hope, and friendship. Follow Laurel on a journey of self-discovery, self-healing, and growth as she learns that sometimes it’s okay to not be okay.

Still not convinced that Laurel Everywhere is the right book for you? Here are two more reasons you might love it:

  • We at Ooligan pride ourselves on bringing seldom-heard voices to print. Laurel Everywhere focuses on Laurel, a teenage LGBTQ+ character struggling with her sense of identity, but the narrative doesn’t revolve around her sexuality. Although her sexuality is explored, her experience with grief and her struggle with her father’s mental-health challenges are themes that are relatable to everyone, regardless of their sexual identity.
  • Grief and mental-health struggles are explored in a raw and honest way. Our author, Erin Moynihan, doesn’t hold back as she depicts life with a parent struggling with deep depression and explores what recovery can look like for the families of those experiencing mental illness. Moynihan has a background in social work, which she called on to help guide her through this writing journey and to help break through the social stigma surrounding grief and mental-health struggles.

Erin Moynihan’s editorial work has appeared on HuffPost, Buzzfeed, The Mighty, and Her Campus. She has a strong passion for elevating young female voices. When she’s not working, she’s likely spending time cuddling with her dog or adventuring around the Pacific Northwest. You can see what she’s up to at www.erinmoynihan.com.

Know Better, Do Better: Editing for Authenticity in Our Spring YA Title

Ooligan Press is proud to announce our upcoming title The Names We Take, which will debut May 19, 2020. Written by Washingtonian first-time author Trace Kerr, this young adult postapocalyptic novel follows Pip, a tough seventeen-year-old girl, in the wake of a devastating plague. After swearing an oath to never leave anyone behind, Pip takes the twelve-year-old Iris under her wing. A tragedy forces the girls to navigate the shattered remains of Spokane and its outlying areas, where they meet a third girl, the headstrong Fly. As Pip, Iris, and Fly negotiate their identities and relationships, their circumstances grow more dangerous. Pip quickly learns two things: first, that never leaving anyone behind is easier said than done; and second, that her friendships are the key to finding meaning in life beyond survival.

The Names We Take faces down its darker elements—including violence, bigotry, and abuse—with both unflinching realism and hope. Importantly, it portrays the struggles of two main characters who fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella. Because these identities do not exist as a monolith, and also because this is a book intended for a YA audience, Ooligan chose to incorporate authenticity readers (sometimes called sensitivity readers) into the editorial process.

Authenticity readers are specialized editors who often step in when authors are writing characters whose identities and experiences they do not personally share. These readers check for inaccuracies, unconscious biases, and insensitive language, and they usually have personal experience related to the identities of the manuscript’s characters or to the events that transpire in the manuscript. Because there is no one way to relate to a given identity or experience, best practices generally dictate that books with sensitive material require multiple authenticity readers. For this process to be effective, editors and authors must be receptive to the feedback they receive.

Part of the beauty of working with a collaborative press like Ooligan means that, in addition to the three people who performed formal authenticity reads, Ooligan was able to solicit the opinions of press members who were not on the team for The Names We Take but who were still willing to point out potential sensitivity issues in the manuscript without doing formal sensitivity edits.

Many of us at Ooligan—including the book’s author—had never experienced an authenticity read before this one. As a learning experience, it was invaluable. This process has also sparked a lot of important conversations about how the press will structure its editorial timeline moving forward. Beginning as early as the acquisitions process (when books often undergo developmental edits), the press will now consider whether or not a book requires authenticity readers, at what point in the editorial process these readers will be brought in, and how to synthesize the authenticity edits in the most effective, efficient way. It’s a responsibility the press takes seriously. The work of authenticity readers has thoroughly enriched The Names We Take in content, voice, and message, and we know the same will be true for many future books—at Ooligan and beyond.

We look forward to sharing The Names We Take with you soon! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for further updates.

Judging a Book by Its Interior

The old adage “Never judge a book by its cover” is used in a myriad of circumstances, but what about when you get past the cover? One is led to believe, then, that you can judge a book by its interior, and this is absolutely true. The interior design of a book improves (or ruins) the readability of the work.

You may be asking yourself, what is interior book design? It’s the font style and size; it’s the use of graphics (or not); and it’s every decision from margin size to chapter layout to the incorporation of quotes. Drawing certain details from Why Interior Book Design Matters, my hope is to introduce some of the basics to interior book design.

One essential aspect of interior book design is font choice. Some fonts are considered overly used; Times New Roman and Arial are among these offenders. And some fonts are easier on the eyes, keeping the reader absorbed in the story. Even after specifying a font, though, it’s important to use them effectively. You can’t go overboard on bolds, italics, or underlining, and you need to refrain from writing in ALL CAPS. Note how jarring that was.

Another aspect to look at is the spacing and margin width. Do you want to use single-spaced text, double-spaced text, or something in between? Should the margins be small (therefore increasing line length), or should they be larger? These are the types of questions that a designer considers when developing the interior of a book in an effort to assess every last detail. If done well, aspects such as spacing and margin width can work with the font to improve a reader’s interaction with the physical text, which positively influences a reader’s experience with the story.

Finally, let’s briefly discuss the inclusion of images. Images can affect design for better or worse—whether they are little graphics at the bottom of the page or full-page illustrations of a scene. It’s important for you to consider whether such images add anything to the chapter or whether they are taking away from the rest of the book. These are not simple questions to ask yourself, but they are important and will help immensely when working on a book or a short story.

I have briefly touched upon a few key elements of interior book design, but regardless of the component, everything will contribute to a work’s readability, hopefully creating a cohesive product that enhances the entire experience. Until next time, I hope this sates your curiosity for what goes on in the design realm of publishing.

We Get By with a Little Help from Our Friends

One of the great delights of working on a twenty-fifth anniversary edition of any book is that the work has been around for so dang long; it’s had lots of time to find an audience. In a world of information overload, having a bunch of established fans in your corner willing to sing your praises is no small thing. Thanks to Robin’s timeless story and his enthusiastic partnerships with local schools over the years, our team has had the privilege of talking with many of Ricochet River‘s supporters, and I’m happy to report that many of them will be making an appearance in the new edition.

I’ve already told you about our work with some of the teachers who’ve been using Ricochet River in their classrooms. Their contributions to our supplemental teaching materials have been invaluable, and I can’t wait to share the final product with them. But this book isn’t only for schools—it’s a great read for just about everyone, which is why I’m so excited to announce some of the heavy hitters from the local and national literary stage who have contributed thoughtful, supportive words to the new edition.

Brian Doyle, author of Mink River and Martin Marten, has written a lovely meditation on what it means to be a classic. Brian’s books share with Ricochet River a deep respect and adoration of the Pacific Northwest’s wild spaces, and we are honored to have him introducing Robin’s work to a new generation of readers. Molly Gloss, author of Falling From Horses, has written in praise of Lorna, “the strong tentpole holding up the center of this book” and the character Robin has often credited with much of Ricochet River‘s enduring appeal. And finally, William L. Sullivan, godfather of Oregon’s hiking community, has graciously weighed in on the historical aspects of our story with his extensive knowledge of the area.

We are so proud to be able to offer the thoughtful words of these acclaimed authors as a lens through which new readers can view this timeless story.