A blue and green postcard with book cover, description, and author bio

Ramping Up to Launching FINDING THE VEIN

The ramp up to the launch of Finding the Vein has begun! Just as a quick reminder before the publication update, Finding the Vein, written by Jennifer Hanlon Wilde, is Ooligan’s first mystery title and follows both campers and police detectives as they investigate the death of a beloved camp counselor. Little do they know that his death is just the tip of the iceberg of secrets at Heritage Camp.
Whereas fall term was mostly about planning our marketing outreach campaign, winter term found us actually following through with those plans. We sent out advance review copies (ARCs) and digital review copies (DRCs) to national review outlets, finished our postcard (see image above), sent out blurb requests, wrote our social media copy and paired posts with images, prepared email templates, and finished our press kit. The Ooligan web page for Finding the Vein has also been created! Additionally, the interior of the novel has been designed (by yours truly, I might add) and the print and ebook proofreads have been completed. The project team, department managers, and other Oolies who have volunteered for certain assignments have been working diligently and I’m so excited to see the seeds of our efforts take root and bloom into fruition.
I’m happy to say that a few blurbs have come in so far, one of which was written by the previous Library Writers Project author, whose book published just last year:

Finding the Vein has a multidimensional cast of characters, with interwoven backgrounds and complex emotions. Vivid, sensory descriptions drew me into the story, and a plot full of tantalizing hooks kept me guessing right up to the end. Jennifer Hanlon Wilde has penned a satisfying mystery!

Cindy Hiday, author of Iditarod Nights

Finally, the day has come to publish Finding the Vein! On April 20, you’ll be able to find this thrilling and sweet mystery novel in bookstores everywhere, even here! We’ve been ramping up to this launch for months now, and are so excited that Waucoma Bookstore is hosting our virtual launch event, but also that best-selling novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz is joining us to interview and converse with Jennifer Hanlon Wilde! This event is going to kick off the publication of Finding the Vein and will (hopefully) herald in a new age of Ooligan press delving into more genre titles in the future. Speaking of which . . .
In other Library Writers Project news, we are moving forward with our next LWP title set to publish in 2022. I can’t say quite yet what it will be, but while Finding the Vein has been chugging along in its final stages of the publishing process, the copy chief, Erica, and I were been busy reading among the collection of LWP titles at the Multnomah County Library in search another self-published ebook to publish in print. We have chosen our next title, reached out to the author, officially acquired the manuscript, and have begun the process of developmental editing. While launching Finding the Vein will be a dream come true for Jennifer (the author) and all of us at Ooligan who have devoted our time and hearts toward its publication, we are all very excited to begin the rewarding process of publishing all over again with this next title.
To learn more about the Library Writers Project and how to submit work to the Multnomah County Library, please visit their website.


Iditarod Nights by Cindy Hiday has been released, and that means a new Library Writers Project title will be coming your way in Spring 2021. Ooligan Press is excited to announce our next title in our partnership with Multnomah County Library: Finding the Vein by Jennifer Hanlon Wilde! This is the third title to be published through the partnership with Multnomah County Library and Ooligan Press, and we are thrilled to be working on this amazing story.

Since 2015, Multnomah County Library has called for submissions every fall through the Library Writers Project. The Library Writers Project gives local authors the opportunity to see their manuscripts published as ebooks through the library. This means that members of Multnomah County Library can check out the submissions via wonderful services like Libby or OverDrive. Ooligan Press and Multnomah County Library became partners in 2018 to feature local Portland authors and to bring ebook-only works into print as a part of the annual collection.

The collection’s newest title, Finding the Vein, is a murder mystery that takes place at Heritage Camp, a summer camp for internationally adopted children in Oregon. It follows the story of teenage camper Isaac and Detective Mikie O’Malley as they try to solve the case of a murdered camp counselor. Isaac and Mikie, the two narrators, show us two very different ways to solve a case—there’s the official way, the way of a detective, and then there’s the not-so-official way, in which Isaac’s supersmart camp friend Hal hacks into a few databases. As Isaac and Mikie start to get answers, more questions are unearthed, and they begin to realize that at Heritage Camp, murder is just the tip of the iceberg.

Get to know the author, Jennifer Hanlon Wilde:

Jennifer Hanlon Wilde lives and writes in Oregon. She is a nurse practitioner and teacher who thinks of her work as opening a kind of map to study the well-worn places where storytelling intersects with health. She also enjoys real maps, traveling the world with her family, and, as a doctoral student at Washington State University, nerding out over global health data. A robust community theater and music scene, acres of orchards, and unparalleled local cider and beer have made it a joy to put roots down in the Columbia River Gorge, but being a Red Sox fan is in her DNA. Finding the Vein is her first novel.

Finding the Vein will be available in print and ebook formats in Spring 2021, and we can’t wait for you to solve the case with Isaac and Mikie. Follow Ooligan’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for updates!

For more information about Iditarod Nights by Cindy Hiday, visit our book page. Check out the Multnomah County Library site to learn more about the Multnomah County Library Writers Project.

The Library Writers Project and Ooligan Press: Meet-Cute!

Although there is still some controversy over whether listening to an audiobook is a comparable experience to reading a book, the furor that arose when ebooks launched has mainly subsided. Many American readers are comfortable switching between electronic text and hard copies to read their books, depending on the context and the purpose of the material. Ebooks have not replaced print books, despite dire predictions—ebook market share has stayed under 30 percent, depending on the genre. For most publishers, print copies (including those produced through the print-on-demand model) are released around the same time as ebooks. Many self-publishers, however, only release ebooks.

So what’s the big deal about bringing an ebook to print?

Ooligan Press has been working on learning the answer to that through its partnership with Multnomah County Library (MCL). Every year, MCL’s Library Writers Project (LWP) is open to local Oregon authors for submission of their self-published works, and the top entries are chosen by librarians and acquired for the MCL collection as ebooks.

In 2018, Ooligan Press began coordinating with the LWP to annually choose the best book to take through the traditional publishing process and bring to print. There are many qualifications we at Ooligan look for: circulation numbers, stand-alone status, and subject matter. The first book we selected in 2018 was the literary fiction title The Gifts We Keep by Katie Grindeland, which Ooligan then published in April 2019. The next selection was Iditarod Nights by Cindy Hiday, which will be published on April 14, 2020.

Each of these books went through another editing process with the Ooligan team, during which language was refined and character arcs were tightened. The editors and authors put time and consideration into developing the stories and communicating with each other. Ooligan staff then had to design the cover and the interior layout, proofread the interior, research and design a marketing campaign, negotiate with printers, distribute review copies, update all the data in catalogs, and promote the launch event. Along the way, we considered the following questions:

  • How does this benefit MCL? It makes available for loan quality print versions of titles that have already proven popular as ebooks. The copies of The Gifts We Keep flew off the library’s display shelves within a week of launch in April 2019. Staff and readers were excited to see a title they enjoyed being validated and made more accessible through print publication. Many library patrons who didn’t read ebooks were now able to read a popular title. (Addressing accessibility issues is a core value of most public libraries, and not everyone can read ebooks, for various reasons.)

  • How does this benefit the author? Renewed attention to a previously published book means more readership for less time invested, and the boost in sales for an established title means it is more likely to eventually earn royalties, along with possible interest from agents and publishers if the author writes more books in the future. If the author has other published titles, there is often an increase in circulation of those titles too.

  • How does this help Ooligan? The students at Ooligan Press generally move through the program in two years, while the average title at Ooligan takes around a year and a half to publish. Because the LWP titles require less time for development, they can be turned around in closer to a year, making it easier for students to follow the whole project. MCL also provides a guaranteed market for these titles, and the sales benefit the program because an audience is already established. This is also better for the environment, as there is less chance of wasting paper by printing too many copies. Ooligan also sees an increase in circulation of other backlist titles as a result of this partnership. Data is still being gathered on whether there is a circulation change specific to the library’s other LWP titles.

It’s a win for everyone—the best kind of happily-ever-after. Here’s to smarter printing and partnerships with libraries! Want to know more? See what the Library Journal said when the partnership began.

Start to Finish: Iditarod Nights

The process of publishing Ooligan’s second title from the Multnomah County Library Writers Project continues! Iditarod Nights by Cindy Hiday will launch in April 2020, and we can’t wait for you to read it. This action-packed romance takes place in Alaska and follows a budding relationship between Claire Stanfield and Dillon Cord, two mushers racing on the Iditarod Trail. Claire (a defense attorney from Portland) and Dillon (a former Portland police officer turned bar-and-grill owner) both have secrets about their traumatic pasts. They’re running the Iditarod to try and escape those secrets, but neither of them expected to fall for someone along the way.

Marketing Iditarod Nights has been a bit of a unique challenge. Ooligan Press does not typically publish romance titles, so doing research on romance bloggers and reviewers was a bit like reinventing the wheel; but it was rewarding to devote the time to ensuring that the book would be marketed in the best ways possible. We also focused on outdoor and adventure bloggers, Alaskan bloggers, a variety of Alaskan media, and some Iditarod-specific media outlets, along with general fiction bloggers, media outlets throughout the Pacific Northwest, and literary sites and podcasts around the country. It was fun to get a little creative with our marketing, too; since Iditarod Nights wouldn’t exist without the determined sled dogs, we spent some time researching sled dog and musher media. We even discovered the Iditapod, a podcast about all things Iditarod produced by NPR.

The design process for Iditarod Nights has been thrilling from the beginning as well. The cover above was not the result of our initial cover design brief—more on that in one of my future posts about designing romance covers—but all the same, we were very excited about the cool wintry tones and the gorgeous aurora borealis that are featured on the final cover above. This beautiful cover represents our best attempt at capturing both the majestic beauty of Alaska and the emerging romance between Claire and Dillon.

Iditarod Nights has undergone a line edit, a heavy copyedit, a medium copyedit, and a print proofread. We also spent some time fact-checking elements in the manuscript, like the various Alaskan towns and race markers that Claire and Dillon encounter. It was exciting to learn more about the history and traditions of the Iditarod through the fact-checking process. For more information about the Iditarod, which happens every year in March and traverses the state of Alaska, visit the official Iditarod website—and keep an eye out for Iditarod Nights from Ooligan Press, launching in April 2020!

Here’s some information about Cindy:

Writing in the spirit of adventure and happy endings, Cindy Hiday has won numerous honors, including first place in the Kay Snow Awards for Fiction from Willamette Writers. Her 2014 novel Father, Son & Grace (republished as Destination Stardust in 2019) is a Five-Star Readers’ Favorite and a local book club choice. Cindy draws inspiration from the beautiful state of Oregon, where she lives with her husband and four-legged friends. When she isn’t hard at work on her next novel or mentoring the latest group of writing talent as a part-time instructor for Mt. Hood Community College, Cindy enjoys hiking, gardening, and traveling. Follow her online here.

Racing Forward with Iditarod Nights

Hello, everyone! With The Gifts We Keep by Katie Grindeland launched into the world and doing well, my team at Ooligan Press is racing forward with the next book to be published as part of our partnership with Multnomah County Library: Iditarod Nights by Cindy Hiday! This is the second of the Library Writers Project selections to be annually published through the unique partnership between Multnomah County Library and Ooligan Press, and we are excited to be taking this new manuscript through the publication process.

In 2018, Ooligan Press and Multnomah County Library partnered up to celebrate the Portland area’s local authors. Since 2015, Multnomah County Library has solicited submissions of self-published works of fiction and memoir by local authors to be added to its Library Writers Project ebook collection. Together, as a local library and a local publisher, we have joined forces to bring these previously ebook-only works to print in an annual series.

This year’s title, Iditarod Nights, is a Library Writers Project selection from 2016 that features adventure, romance, and dogs. The story alternates between the viewpoints of Portland criminal defense attorney Claire Stanfield and Nome bar-and-grill owner Dillon Cord. Both are running from secrets and trauma in their pasts, both must struggle to survive the Alaskan wilderness as they compete in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and neither wants to embark on a new romance. But sometimes the heart has other plans.

To give you a sense of the person behind the book, here is Cindy’s author bio:

Writing in the spirit of adventure and happy endings, Cindy Hiday has won numerous honors, including first place in the Kay Snow Awards for Fiction from Willamette Writers. Her 2014 novel Father, Son & Grace is a Five-Star Readers’ Favorite and a local book club choice. Cindy draws inspiration from the beautiful state of Oregon, where she lives with her husband and four-legged friends. When she isn’t hard at work on her next novel or mentoring the latest group of writing talent as a part-time instructor for Mt. Hood Community College, Cindy enjoys hiking, gardening, and traveling.

Iditarod Nights will be available in both trade paperback and ebook versions in Spring 2020, and I can’t wait to see how it develops along the road to traditional publication. Follow Ooligan’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for more updates!

To learn more about The Gifts We Keep and Katie Grindeland, please visit our book page.
Click here for more insight into the Library Writers Project and for information on how to submit your manuscript to the library.

Preparing a Party for The Gifts We Keep

Hello, everyone! I am thrilled to say that The Gifts We Keep (April 16, 2019) is now a real physical book! The Ooligan Press digital department has created the ebook, the physical book is back from the printer, and the project team is hard at work with the social media department to spread the word about the upcoming release. Other members of the team have been soliciting reviews and articles from local media throughout the Portland Metropolitan area and making sure everything is ready for the book to be in bookstores and available online across the nation. With the launch on the horizon, my team and I are excited to see The Gifts We Keep out in the real world.

Now is a hectic but really rewarding time for our team, because so many of our efforts for the past months are finally coming to fruition and we are now able to hold our reward in our hands: a beautiful copy of The Gifts We Keep. As part of this, we hosted a launch party to celebrate our author Katie Grindeland, her wonderful book, the new partnership between Ooligan Press and the Multnomah County Library, and to see many of you holding a copy of the book in your hands. A lot goes into planning a launch party. Our dearest wish was to find a wonderful, welcoming space that could hold the many excited members of our reading community who were eager to get their hands on The Gifts We Keep. Our goal was to provide a fun night of food, drink, and readings to celebrate everyone’s hard work on the project without breaking the bank. As with all events, advanced planning, coordination, and keeping true to a vision are key to assuring that the night meets everyone’s expectations.

For this event, our team focused on fulfilling the desires of our author, Katie Grindeland, so that she and The Gifts We Keep could successfully take center stage and be celebrated by all of her friends and family. Together with Multnomah County Library and the Ooligan Press team, it was an amazing night, as local authors, a local library, and a local publisher all joined forces to celebrate our literary community. Stay tuned for more updates on the book’s official release on April 16, on Ooligan’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! You won’t want to miss your chance to acquire your very own copy of The Gifts We Keep!

Click here to learn more about The Gifts We Keep and Katie Grindeland. The Gifts We Keep will be available in both trade paperback and ebook versions beginning on April 16, 2019.
Click here for more insight into the background and aspirations of the Library Writers Project and for information on how to submit your manuscript to the library.

Presenting The Gifts We Keep

Hello, everyone! My name is Emily Frantz, and I became a project manager way back in April. Sorry for the delayed greetings! But I promise that during all that time, I’ve been busy helping launch an amazing new project for Ooligan that I am thrilled to finally share with you. The Gifts We Keep, by debut author Katie Grindeland, is the first of the Library Writers Project selections to be annually published through the unique partnership between Multnomah County Library and Ooligan Press.

Since 2015, from mid-October to mid-December each year, Multnomah County Library accepts submissions from local authors who would like to see their work added to the library’s ebook collection. Now, through this partnership, selections from the Library Writers Project will be traditionally published by Ooligan Press—joining the forces of local authors, a local library, and a local publisher to help our literary community as a whole flourish into the future.

I have been working hard with my team on The Gifts We Keep, a selection from 2015 that has been among the most popular titles offered through the Library Writers Project. It is an evocative work of fiction told through the eyes of five protagonists about family, pain, loss, and the gifts left in the wake of tragedy. Dangerous secrets, past tragedies, and a violent obsession emerge when Emerson and her estranged family agree to care for a ten-year-old Native-Alaskan girl and a complete stranger, Addie. Emerson has buried her emotions since her husband’s suicide a decade past. Meanwhile, her younger sister, Tillie, pursues a new romance with a woman and avoids her questions about the accident which left her in a wheelchair. Their mother, Eve, flits through life unable to address her daughters’ pain. And the handsome neighbor, Henry, jumps from one adulterous relationship to another while pining for the woman he truly loves. If these five can face their true selves, each other, and their past, they just might find a way forward to a life filled with love and happiness.

My team is now at the stage where we are collecting reviews, sending out press releases, and crafting social media in preparation for the release of the book in April. But it feels just like yesterday that I was starting out on this project with no idea where it would go. We have come so far, and this partnership will continue long after The Gifts We Keep is published and out into the world. I am so happy that I have seen the beginning of this new chapter at Ooligan and can’t wait to bring you the final version of The Gifts We Keep. Until then, stay tuned on Ooligan’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates. The Gifts We Keep will be available in both trade paperback and ebook versions on April 16, 2019.

To learn more about The Gifts We Keep and Katie Grindeland, please visit our book page.
Click here for more insight on the Library Writers Project and for information on how to submit your manuscript to the library.

Instant Entertainment: Ebooks at the Library

Tech-savvy bibliophiles around the globe have frequently asked for a “Netflix” for books. However, what they seem to be forgetting is that this service already exists. It’s called the library. However, as with anything publicly funded, the digital side of libraries has been slow to grow. In 2016, Publishers Weekly reported librarians’ general worry over the expense of ebooks. And a 2017 report from the Library Journal indicates that on average, libraries allocate only 9 percent of their budget to ebooks. Because of this slower growth, a couple of other subscription-based ebook services have popped up.

That being said, there are a few reasons to choose the local library for your ebook needs. First of all, it’s free! The quality of the titles is another reason. While some of the other services may boast more titles, they often pad their numbers with whatever cheap publication they can find, and these are often self-published ebooks. A library’s titles are chosen by the readers and the highly trained librarians. Libraries also support small publishers and self-published books through programs like the Library Journal self-e, which focuses on local authors.

Overdrive, the leading ebook lending service, connects to thousands of libraries around the world, and just celebrated their 1 billionth ebook rental. Overdrive has millions of digital titles, and any library can acquire any number of those titles. This is where the budget comes in. The more the digital services are utilized at a library, the more of the library’s budget can go towards ebook titles.

Overdrive is easy to sign up for and use. They’ve even instituted a digital library card program, so now you really can download the app, get a library card, and borrow dozens of ebooks all without ever leaving your home. Of course, it’s mobile too! Ebooks are great for traveling, and there are even some airport kiosks that offer temporary library cards for travelers (a service soon to be obsolete with the new digital cards).

Libraries are important. This is a sentiment most book-lovers, students, and publishers agree on. Like most services that are publicly funded, libraries must remain important in the public eye in order to retain their funding. This means that readers are important to libraries. Unfortunately, the Multnomah County Library has some alarming numbers to report: this year, only 55 percent of those polled thought it would be a great loss for a library to shut down. This number fell from 71 percent in the last ten years. While libraries may be a little slow keeping up with the fast pace of the digital world, they are working hard to do so. Now it’s up to readers and book-lovers everywhere to embrace and support their local libraries as they continue to adapt to the public’s needs.

Book Clubs In and Around Portland

If you ever find yourself in a reading rut, joining a book club could be your literary salvation. “There are too many good books in the world to bother reading something that just makes you go . . .” Heidi Hoogstra gives a little shrug to illustrate a lack of impact. “Whatever you like to read, read it well.”

Hoogstra knows her books. She’s been a clerk at the Hollywood branch of Multnomah County Library since 2002 and has facilitated its Pageturners book club for eight years. Of her tenure she says, “The thing that keeps me coming back, month after month, year after year, and I’ve heard this from a lot of our longtime members as well, is the opportunity to read things that you wouldn’t otherwise choose for yourself.” Hoogstra’s group casts a wide fiction net, encompassing everything from last year’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Goldfinch to 1978’s novelization of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, but hers is just one of the many Pageturner groups within the Multnomah County Library system. Some groups are general, and others specialize in areas like nonfiction, classics, or black voices. “Every group has a different flavor,” she says. “There’s something for everyone.”

Paperbacks (and the occasional hardcover) for the Pageturners are provided to members free of charge through a grant from Friends of the Library. Each group submits a reading list once a year (Hollywood Pageturner members vote on their list but for some groups the facilitator decides the titles), and there is no limit to the amount of time a member can keep their book. Hoogstra explains, “It often happens that someone will come to a meeting having read only a portion of the book because they weren’t enjoying it or perhaps were struggling. After our discussions, that person will sometimes be inspired to give the book another try with a new perspective.”

And who are these group members voicing their opinions and gaining new perspectives? A typical Pageturner meeting will be between 8–12 people, mostly women. “Something I’ve noticed over the years is that men will usually come to a meeting to discuss that particular book because they really liked it or have a strong opinion,” Hoogstra observes, “whereas women will come no matter what the book is, just to participate in the discussion. That’s just my personal observation so I don’t want to generalize, but it’s something we talk about in the library a lot: where are all the men?”

That last question could be the basis for a much longer piece about reader demographics, but I won’t go into that here—we’re talking book clubs. In an area as devoted to literature as Portland, one needn’t rely on the local library to provide discussion opportunities. Both Powell’s Books and Barnes & Noble provide space for bookclubs to meet outside the city. In Beaverton, Powell’s hosts mystery, science fiction, and classics groups that are organized entirely by members. The women’s fiction and Armchair Detectives groups at Barnes & Noble in Beaverton have the same basic set-up—they’re run by members who have been attending for many years. However at Barnes & Noble in Vancouver, it’s a different story—their fantasy, mystery, and (brand new!) graphic novel groups are run by volunteers from the store’s staff.

The general rule for Portland book clubs seems to be that there are no rules. A quick search on meetup.com will lead you to groups that meet in pubs and some that meet in cafes, groups for women and groups for gay men, groups dedicated to a particular genre and some devoted to a single author. And if none of these suit you? Go ahead and start your own club! Pageturners To Go provides sets of ten books to library members for up to six weeks, and there’s always the option to support your local bookseller. Here in Portland, we’re very lucky to live amongst so many people who are dedicated to reading well.

Kick the Summertime Blues with a Personalized Book Recommendation from My Librarian

Summertime is here, and if you’re a reader, it’s time to get to those books that have been sitting on your nightstand or bookshelf for months. Some people pledge to get through the classics, while others look to NPR or Entertainment Weekly for advice on what to read. Others may wander aimlessly through the library or bookstore, looking for a cover that appeals to them. A handful of us may have obsessively maintained lists of what to read (guilty as charged), but most folks could use some guidance when figuring out what title to pick up next. If you’re a resident of Multnomah County, you’re in luck: Portland’s library system has become even more wonderful with a new feature called My Librarian.

Multnomah County Library's "My Librarian" Feature

Multnomah County Library’s “My Librarian” Feature

The My Librarian feature was quietly rolled out earlier this year, backed with funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the Library Foundation. It can be accessed from the library’s website and the Multnomah County Library app (which you should download immediately, if only to check when your books are due). The feature goes beyond the Ask the Librarian option that has been available for years by giving the user the ability to pick the librarian with whom they’d like to communicate. The whole process feels a bit like browsing through online dating profiles, if you were on a website featuring bibliophiles looking for love. The librarians each have a delightfully staged photograph paired with a brief blurb on the books or genres that they love. The user has the option of reading more about a librarian, or asking that librarian what they should read next. Conversation can be had through a variety of means: email, phone, chat, video chat, and in-person are all ways to get in touch with your librarian of choice.

For those who don’t want to go to all the effort of communicating with another human being, each librarian has also put together reading lists with titles like “9 books that deserve their own trivia night” and “Need a good swoon?” Librarian Darcee M. has put together a list of books for devotees of Orange is the New Black, so I know what I’ll be reading this summer.

Need a good swoon? Grab one of these titles

Need a good swoon? Grab one of these titles

The My Librarian feature pairs well with the summer reading programs that the Multnomah County Library system rolls out each year. The Summer Reading program for children is open to kids of all ages, from newborns to high schoolers, and prizes (including a free ticket to a Portland Thorns match or a Trail Blazers game) are awarded to participants as they complete levels on their gameboards. The adult summer reading program, Read 4 Life, is not as widely publicized, but any adult who reads four books before August 31 (and completes and turns in the game card, which is available at any library branch) is eligible to win an ereader or Title Wave Used Bookstore gift certificate.

So go chat with Karen, an urban chicken farmer fond of Scandinavian mysteries, or Nick, a movie buff who loves foreign literature. Then pick up your personalized recommendation and enjoy what is sure to be an excellent read.