Wandeling for Young Women Writers

Wandeling for Young Women Writers

 

Earlier this November, we launched a poetry contest for young writers, ages 15-21. We had a number of excellent submissions, and we are excited to introduce the winning poem. The poets were asked to write a poem in verse of three to eight stanzas exploring the wonders of winter. They were asked to consider wonder with its positive, magical connotations (as in “That’s Wonderful!) and its negative, violent ones (as in Horatio’s exclamation in Hamlet: “It [the ghost] harrows me with fear and wonder”).

Without further ado, we bring you Rebekah Rosamilia’s winning poem for “Wither the Wandel Poetry Contest” in which Rebekah’s winter greets us as a weaving woman.

Winter

By Rebekah Rosamilia

Age 16

She enters gently, hesitant;
Her feet tip-toe on dying leaves;
She slips behind her sister’s flames
And creeps below the hanging eave;
She finds her place on bare-branch seat
And pulls out knitting, close and neat.

The stitches of her detailed work
Are heavy, white, and tumble down
Over her knees, onto the floor
Like one thick woven, homely gown
That covers all in cozy sheets
Of frosty nights and rosy cheeks.

Her smile is gentle, voice is soft,
Yet storms may flash before her eyes
When stitches catch or fingers slip,
But soon they’re followed by a sigh
Of ice-brushed air and snow on barn
That Winter weaves into her yarn.

 

Our lovely first runner-up poem, by Sarah Welton Lair, leaves us dusted by a snowfall:

Snowfall

A quiet, crisp December night
A walk toward home despite the black
Alone, outside, no warmth, no light
But there’s no going back

Shivering I trudge along
Feet shuffling through the slushy slop
I softly sing an anxious song
When suddenly I stop

A delicate flake of crystal snow
Falls right in front of my chapped nose
Then spirals gracefully below
And lands in soft repose

I lift my face up to the sky
To meet a flurry stretched for yards
That seems to my inventive eye
A rain of frosty stars

Each snowflake moves in nimble dance
First chaîné turn, then pirouette
They swirl and drift as if entranced
Some spinning in duet

The road home now seems not so long
Though cold remains, I need not flee
Each snowflake in that fairy throng
Will keep me company

Soon lights appear like lanterns bright
Which speak of family, food, and rest
I reach my porch, now clothed in white
I have fulfilled my quest

Then off to bed fast as can be
Turn out the light with eager hand
For I know when I wake, I’ll see
A winter wonderland

 

And our second runner up, Katie Marriot, captures the advent spirit and the longing for life and spring again.

Winter Waiting

A snowflake wanders from the sky, 
And lands on where my body lies
Deep beneath the cold, hard cry
And sorrowing death of yesterday. 
Wind sweeps through the barren trees. 
They shiver against its tempting chaff. 
Too weak to stand some fall to knees, 
Roots only holding them through the wrath. 
Over me, soft flecks of snow lightly wend. 
I hardly feel their chilly calm. 
I know this cannot be the final end. 
Before a sacred throne I soon will bend, 
And be revived in Spring’s loving arm.

 

Today, Wandeling Press now begins its illustrator’s contest in which we are inviting young women illustrators to illustrate Rebekah’s winning poem by December 19. Check out the details here.

 

Christmas Giveaway!

Christmas Giveaway!

It’s December first and Christmas is just around the corner! To celebrate the season, we are hosting a Christmas Giveaway! Everyday, from now until December 12th, one of our Kickstarter contributors will be selected at random to receive a set of twelve 7x7 watercolor prints featuring themes from the Twelve Days of Christmas. These darling prints will ship just in time to make the perfect present for anyone on your Christmas list! Every evening, the day’s winner will be announced at 9:00 pm EST. 

Enter Now!

Many Thanks

Many Thanks

What an exciting few weeks we have enjoyed! Two short weeks ago we started Wandeling Press and just last we week we launched a Kickstarter campaign for what will be Wandeling’s first publication, Woolies for the Winter. We feel very blessed to have made so much progress pursuing our dream to bring edifying children’s books to the world. This Thanksgiving we would like pause and reflect on the overwhelming gratitude we feel for the many people who have helped us in these endeavors. While there are many who have supported the work and mission of Wandeling Press, we would like to call special attention to a few individuals to whom we are especially grateful for on this Thanksgiving.

 

Betsy would like to express her gratitude to:

 

1)  Laura Kern. I have admired her work for a long time. When I called Laura from Mexico this summer to ask if she would partner with me on Woolies for the Winter and then continue on into this larger, crazy adventure, I couldn’t have imagined a better first illustrator companion. Receiving work from her is like Christmas. Every. Single. Time.  Thank you so much, Laura!

 

2)  Sarah Gerber. Before we began this project, I had made a dream list of those I hoped we could invite to partner with us on this project. My sister-in-law was at the top of the list. As a storyteller in the medium of film, Sarah brings things to life in powerful and compelling ways. I am beyond thankful to have had her partner with us in creating our Kickstarter video. The fact that she would fly out from California and arrive in the middle of the night to film and consult on our website design was an invaluable gift. Thank you, Sarah, for your generosity and for believing in this project ;).

 

3)  Matt Crutchmer. Matt is a teaching colleague of mine at Bethlehem College & Seminary, and as a self-taught designer, he continues to transform argument into art. His knowledge and skill with typography are bringing the book to life in ways Laura and I could not. He is a master advocate for the reader’s experience. I am so thankful for his continued generosity with his time and talents.

 

4)  Zach and my little Molly Howard.  I am so thankful for encouragement of these two. Zach continues to offer his time in helping me sort through and research so many things all at once, and Molly provides the laughter. Wandeling Press has been born out of this sort of robust reality.

 

5)  So many inspirers. There have been many dear friends who have shaped this dream, shared their own similar imaginings, and have done everything from chasing Molly around for the afternoon to giving consistent, critical feedback. The gift of fire is magic. This affirmation and assistance has been the somewhere spark for our little flame.  So many have lent us heat and light, and it has warmed and cheered us on the way. Thank you!

 

And Laura would like to thank: 

 

1)  Betsy Howard. I am so very thankful for this talented author and gracious friend. Betsy is one of those incredible individuals gifted with a seemingly unending source of energy and determination. Her drive is infectious and I have loved every minute of our time collaborating together. Betsy, thank you for including me in this wonderful adventure!

 

2)  David and our son William. I would be lost without the support of these two! William, our rambunctious toddler, keeps me on my toes and provides me with daily inspiration. David brings order to my creative chaos and offers me unending grace on nights when sketches take over the kitchen table and dinner is nowhere in sight.

 

3)  Hannah Wegmann. This wonder-woman is a constant source of encouragement and wisdom to me! Her eye for beauty and photographic talent have been invaluable to us as we introduce Wandeling Press to the social media world. Hannah, thank you for your enthusiasm for Wandeling Press and for lending your time and talent to this endeavor!

 

To every person who has loved, supported, and inspired us: THANK YOU. We hope that Wandeling’s creations will charm and delight you for many years to come. We are excited for the road ahead and we are thrilled to have you join us on this journey!

Special thanks to Hannah Wegmann for the use of her beautiful photography!

Just Right

Just Right

“It’s just right,” the Baby Bear of Goldilocks’ fame exclaims each time every other household object is too hard, too soft, too high, too low, too hot and too cold for Momma Bear and Poppa Bear.

Just right.

It is a pleasant sort of state of being, but what might it mean to produce books that are “just right” for little readers?  

“Surely the text and the illustrations are what matter,” the content-driven conscience of the parent reasons. And surely the parent is right. The contours of worlds that we introduce to children through this book or that book do matter.  

But since stories take on shape to dwell among us, those bookish skeletons matter too. They determine the way that we, or our young readers, experience the story.

As Woolies for the Winter prepares to take shape between sheets of pressed board and inky paper, here are some priorities, formed by our own experiences as mothers, that have shaped our design and decision-making:

 

1. Weight and Material.

Since we have written this book for the youngest of readers—including those just learning to flip pages and visually follow the scribbles on the printed page, we wanted to make sure that all of our readers could handle the pages confidently. For this reason, we decided that Woolies would feel most at home in a board book. The pages are thick enough for little fingers to turn, and because of its cardboard weight, the spreads stay open for little readers.

 

2. Durable

The other great advantage of the board book is its durability. This is a premium when piling a whole hoard of children onto your lap to read. Babies, in particular, learn and explore by touching and sometimes even tasting the world around them. As mothers of toddlers, we know how important it is that our book be capable of withstanding it all.

 

3. Easy to find.

This might sound funny, but we want children to be able to locate the book easily on a bookshelf, so we have contentiously planned the spine match the same color scheme as the front cover. By observing how our own children approach the bookshelf, we’ve discovered that this small but important detail really does help them locate their story-time favorites.

 

4. Size and Orientation

It is important to us that the children readers are interested in perusing Woolies on their own, so we have created a book that fits comfortably in their laps when opened. Since we also hope parents will read along with their children, participating with the pictures as they read—like the image of Laura’s fabulous, Scandinavian-print mittens— we have made the page big enough for adult hands too.


What sorts of subtle features have you found helpful for the books your children love most?

Special thanks to Hannah Wegmann for the use of her enchanting photo. 

Getting to Know You: An Interview with Laura and Betsy

Getting to Know You: An Interview with Laura and Betsy

As we work on the final details of the kickstarter this week before Friday’s launch, we wanted to invite you into our lives in the moments when we are not writing and illustrating. Here is a peak into our silly, blurried worlds. Welcome.

Where do you live?

Laura:  My first home, a little yellow farm house, was built between acres of corn and wheat fields in the small town of Woodburn, Indiana. Though I’ve lived in a handful of other cities and am currently making my home in Cincinnati, Ohio, I still feel the ties to that little midwestern farm. Memories of the barn with its rope swing, the persnickety chickens in the henhouse, and a gaggle of other farm animals, each with their own personalities, continue to stir my imagination.

Betsy: I have lived in four out of the six states that made up the territory of the Northwest Ordinance of 1785, and thus I consider myself resoundly midwestern. Minneapolis, MN currently is home to me. Imagine two conflicting images at the same time: I live both in the frozen north and in the urban center, so we spend our days in a bizarre and wonderful neighborhood where the vast majority our neighbors come from the hot, sunny equatorial regions of the world, yet we experience temperatures below -30 degrees every January and February.

 

Are you married or do you have any kids? What are their names?

Laura: I am married to David, the brave leader of our family. We have only one other member at the moment–our one-year-old son, named William. Just like his father, William possesses heaps of charm and a bewildering affinity for danger. As a trio, we enjoy the great outdoors in the spring and summertime and during the colder months, football, football, and football with an occasional trip to my favorite spot, the Cincinnati Art Museum.


Betsy: I am quite happily married to Zach Howard, who is in his last year of his M.Div. program at Bethlehem College & Seminary. We have one delightful one-year-old named Molly. She is full of life and spunk. She loves people (as in we go to the grocery store when she is having a grumpy day, so that we can wave at all the strangers). And she loves books– pulling them off the shelf, opening them, paging through them, then chucking them behind her. It is becoming a morning ritual.

 

What do you primarily do all day?

Laura: Oh dear. Do I have to answer? Let’s see… well, that little person whom my husband and I live with gets into an awful lot of trouble morning noon and night, so I spend a great deal of time chasing him around, reading to him, clothing him, feeding him, bathing him, and re-clothing him all over again. It’s marvelous. I really do mean that. William is a wonder to me, and it’s an exhausting but exhilarating privilege to be his mother. In the quieter moments of my day, I attempt to make our home clean and pleasant. I also daydream more than I ought and paint less than I’d like.  

Betsy: As a mom and teacher in Minnesota, I spend all day living out the book of Ecclesiastes, merrily but futilely pushing swings that, due to entropy, eventually swing to a stop, turning the pages of books again and again and again, and contributing hundreds of missing commas to the spaces between independent clauses to assist their struggling fellow conjunctions.

And the snow. Yes. I shovel lots of snow.

 

Why write stories?

Betsy: I suppose it is because I have been born and raised on them. It is like the Wisconsin cheese and milk I grew up on: that calcium has built my bones Now I want to share the goodness I have been given. As that I am weaning my first child, this cycle feels all the more real to me: eat and enjoy, become strong, and overflow to others with gifts.


Why paint?

Laura: Because what else would a mother with a little girl full of daydreams give her daughter but a brush, an easel, and an old tin of watercolor paints? “Here sweetheart, put it all to paper.” I come from a long line of creative-types on my mother’s side, and I will forever be grateful for her encouragement in the arts. I also believe that we all carry with us the imago Dei, the mark of our maker. As children look like their father, we too look like our Heavenly Father. As he created all for our good, he has given us the ability to create for the good of others. I paint because I want to please my Father. I want to make good and beautiful works for the enjoyment of others.  

 

What do you do in your free time?

Laura: Painting aside, my hobbies include reading, sweating through hot yoga classes, cooking, and baking. Minus the hot yoga, that answer makes me sound like a 1920’s housewife, so I will also add that my big dreams are to hike the Grand Canyon and someday master the art of glassblowing. I’ve also dabbled in woodburning, ceramics, and sculpture. David and I try to spend as much time with friends and family as possible, so those big dreams may have to wait.

Betsy: I love to work with my hands. Most of the time this means woodworking, refinishing, painting, or making other such messes. I feel most alive when I am solving practical problems or restoring things that are broken and ugly with solutions that are both functional and elegant. Given the fact that our house was built in 1906, there seem to be endless things to fix. It also means that most of our furniture in our house is repurposed: our headboard is an old, swinging pantry door, our dining room table is a former art-nouveau executive’s desk, and our dish hutch is a former workbench with drill holes in the top.  Last night I took a jigsaw to a dilapidated, but beautiful crib to salvage the rails and use them as legs for an antique chair.

I also enjoy filling our table with lots of people and cooking hot, tasty food. Zach and I desire to live in intentional community with others, so this usually means lots of eating with neighbors, friends, and the other eight people who live in our big, old Victorian house with us.

 

What were your favorite/and or least favorite subjects when you were younger?

Laura: My least favorite subject was Chemistry. As soon as I heard the term “moles,” I was miles away dreaming about the Wind in the Willows. Biology, however, specifically human anatomy, was my jam. It probably had to do with all those beautiful illustrations in my biology books.

Betsy: Literature has always been jolly fun for me. I still cannot believe that I now get paid to teach books. I was terrified of math for years and years, and it wasn’t until I was a senior in college taking Calculus that I realized just how marvelous mathematics was. I was ready to start college all over and major in math… but somehow my parents weren’t too keen on that idea.


What or who inspires you?

Laura: Edith Schaeffer’s The Hidden Art of Homemaking inspires me to cultivate beauty and exercise artistry in every area of  life. I admire how she found opportunities to create loveliness even in the most mundane aspects of the home. Oops! There I go again sounding like a 1920’s house wife.

Betsy: I deeply admire the role of women recounted in Eric Metaxas’ new book: Seven Women: and the Secret of their Greatness. Growing up I was drawn in particular to the courage and faith of Betsie and Corrie TenBoom. In fact, long ago, I even hoped that my college roommate would be named Corrie so that we could call ourselves the TenBoom Room.

 

What’s echoing around in your brain these days?

Laura: I just discovered the sweetest stationery boutique called Poeme in Hyde Park. Everything within this shop’s four walls lovely in every way imaginable. As I wandered in, I was filled with joy at the thought that each card represented an artist who is making a livelihood by spinning out beauty. How wonderful that we live in a society that appreciates beauty and artistry even in the smallest possible forms!


Betsy: Right now, I can't stop thinking about the opening narrative sequence of Genesis—probably because I just finished teaching it as literature to my sophomores. I am still tripping over patters of “good,” “good,” “good,” “very good,” and the often-forgotten “not good” of Genesis 2 which seem to work together in a text to present a God who overflows to his creation. When a text plays duck-duck-gooses with me, I just get up and run around in circles. I can’t help myself.

 

Special Thanks to photographer Hannah Wegmann for the beautiful Parisian photo!

Why Wandeling

Why Wandeling

Why Wandeling?


col·lab·o·rate.

\kə-ˈla-bə-ˌrāt\.

Intransitive verb.

“To work together.”

 

Humans are meant to be at work in some undertaking.

Humans were made for community.

 

Wandeling Press seeks to lean into that reality by creating a publishing space that draws together writers and illustrators, poets and artists. Emily Dickinson describes the poet as the one who “distills” reality: taking what ripe and raw to make something stronger, sweeter, fuller: heady and filling. We would stretch her term to embrace a whole host of artists.

 

This small, independent publishing house serves women writers and illustrators in particular because it affirms the female artistic voice and perspective as distinct from the male in the way, we might say, that honey distilled into mead takes deliciously different from grain distilled as a stout. And we drink to that distinction.

 

The press, furthermore, intends to provide creative, vocational platforms for women that inspire, invigorate, and enliven other simultaneous dreams they are pursuing. It is a difficult thing to make a vocation of writing and illustrating. And it is a further challenge to balance the demands of working, graduate school, motherhood, or running a start up with the time demanded for creating and composting. But the two are not necessarily in opposition. This is not a zero-sum world. Instead, thankful for the accessibility and collaboration available to us in the 21st century, we seek to confront the attitude of scarcity (whether money, time, connections, and resources) that preclude women from publishing by offering such women with talent and drive a place to launch their artistic literary endeavors.

 

The press exists to create stories for children because stories belong to them. Stories belong to children in the way that maps belonged to Magalan. Primarily they teach children about the wild terrain for this rugged world that they live in. Stories introduce realities of order and disorder, of order resorted out of disorder, of worlds gone wrong, and worlds made right. Reality rushes at us without discrimination– a wholesale onslaught of all six senses every walking moment. Stories provide distance from raw experiences, teaching children possible ways to organize the many sounds, sights, smells, and tastes they are absorbing.

 

As maps keep record of new territories, so also children play cartographers with stories. In their discovering, their adventuring, their wandeling, they create narratives simply by seeing new things in old realities. Children must have a secret muse, for when spiders parachute on the wind, it is the little ones chase them, willing success to their air-borne escape and trumpeting their victories. And we, we chase the children.

 

There are stories merely written in ink and those drafted with lives first. We are a publishing house of the second sort. We use the same materials to make our books: printers, paper, scissors, and glue, but just as often as we write, we find ourselves making snowflakes with that very paper and sometimes aiding little sticky fingers in gluing glitter all over them. As those snowflakes spin and sparkle, we publish, for our stories take shape alongside those snowflakes.


To this end, Wandeling Press will be launching its first Kickstarter Project on November 20, 2015 to fund the start-up costs of the press and to publish its first book, “Woolies for the Winter.” We would love to have you join us in this grand adventuring.