Sunday, February 5, 2023

Book cover: Soul Jar

Soul Jar, the next Forest Avenue Press anthology, is a collection of science fiction and fantasy stories written by disabled authors. When I first started mulling cover concepts, I was a little stymied by the question of how best to depict science fiction and fantasy and disability all in one effective image. Disability is a huge, varied subject, and it felt wrong somehow to squeeze it all down into the single object of, say, a wheelchair or a container of pills or a hearing aid. And what about all the invisible disabilities that are also very real? Publisher Laura Stanfill said, don't try to find a simplified visual symbol; disability will be front and center in the subtitle. Instead, she suggested that I think on the stories and find my imagery there, as I did with the giant octopus on the cover of City of Weird.

She sent me a list of some possibilities that stood out to her. A cranberry bog monster. A pizza delivery guy on Mars. A "geyser pterosaur" that squirts great streams of water from its mouth. A girl born in the sea.

I was particularly intrigued with the sea girl whose story is lush and melancholy and magical. And the geyser pterosaur, whose story is light and clever. I spent some time building a pterosaur, which I thought I could eventually add shading and detail to if I liked how it was working...

...but it wasn't working. Although I share this image of the creature in progress, mostly because I'm happy with the tongue.

I moved on to the sea girl, playing with moody greens and hints of yellow. My idea was a blurred-out seascape background overlaid with all the text: title, subtitle, editor name, blurb. For the title, I found a font I liked and turned it into an outline you could see the sea through, then adjusted the J to add the swirl. My hope was that those text elements would be what you see first, and then in the next second you'd discover that in that seascape behind hides the woman.

But at the same time, when I was doing my image search for seascapes I liked, I found this great picture of a jar with lights coming up out of it.

Which led me down another concepting rabbit hole. The question of whether or not, and how, to use the object of the jar from the title in the actual imagery was something I mulled a lot. The term soul jar appears in one of the stories as a metaphor, but Laura told me, "to me it speaks of the body and how we are and aren’t our bodies." I liked that a lot. And for me, soul jar also spoke of the head, specifically—the jar, the head; the soul, imagination. I pictured that jar sitting on the cover but instead of the blurred-out spheres of light rising from it: a dragon. The ultimate symbol of fantasy.

I started by taking the picture of the jar, adjusting the color, and using Photoshop's smudge tool to push the lights around so that it looked kind of... firelike.

Then I built a stylized dragon in Illustrator and used the firelike blob to create a clipping mask.

I went back to Photoshop and did some cutting and pasting and painting and erasing and feathering and blurring until it began to look more and more like a rising, glowing, fiery...

...phantom chicken?

The feather (no pun intended) effect and blurring I was using to soften edges and make this dragon look less chunky and more ethereal (and okay, maybe my original drawing?) made the head look way less dragony than I'd been hoping. And I also started to think: Why did I not make this dragon with its mouth more open? Why did I not make this dragon with its head up? It’s bursting out of the jar, bursting into life; why is it doing it so... casually?

I spent a dragon's age tinkering with that head to try to get it right. Fighting with the effects I needed to keep it looking magical. Work, work work—now it's a chicken. Work, work work—now it's a pig. 

When I had a cover sample I liked...

...I sent it, and the sea girl, and the pterodon for good measure, to Laura. (Well, there were a couple versions of some of these, but who's counting?) Laura chose the ones she thought were working best to send to editor Annie Carl for a look.

Annie's reaction made me happy: "I think I love the dragon and mermaid equally!!! The green is so pretty. But I have a soft spot for dragons! I’d love to have a dragon cover!"

She seemed to lean toward sea girl at first. Then she showed the samples to some friends and family for their thoughts, and consensus drifted toward the dragon, particularly because of the jar. One beta tester noted that the dragon's teeth might be too scary for readers—granted that tester was Annie's six-year-old son. I started getting excited for the dragon jar cover, but then Annie said: "I personally would like the dragon to look more dragon-like, less dinosaur."

Argh! I had a chicken, then I had a pig, now I had a dinosaur. I swear I can make a dragon. 

One of the difficult things about tinkering with that dragon head was the soft edges and, particularly, the blur effect behind it. It was very difficult to make any changes without messing that up, making it look very cut-and-paste and not smooth at all.

While considering all this, I went back to the sea girl and thought, why don't I just add a jar?

That same jar from the dragon jar cover worked well.

Happily, Laura and Annie liked this addition. Laura shared Annie's latest comments:

"So now I’m torn because I love both the dragon/dino and the underwater for different reasons. I think the underwater one is more meditative and hints at something a bit sinister. While the dragon one is obvious about the fantasy elements and potential for sinister stories. It’s also more playful and hints at the humor in the anthology."

Laura said maybe I could add one playful element to the sea girl cover. "I’m thinking of how Richard Scarry books had animals fishing and they always caught an old wet boot. Something like the boot. Just amid the scene, nestled in, to say STORY THIS WAY."

Ah ha. The boot made me wonder about a fishing hook hanging in the water. When I mentioned that to Laura, she came back with a frog. Orchids. A golden ring. All elements from different stories.

I tried adding a swimming frog because it seemed the funniest, but then, as I was sending this latest sample off to Laura, I thought, no. Not frog. You know what this cover needs. A dragon.

No, really, I could do it. I just had to start over and create a completely new dragon. 

I started with shapes and lines.

And I built my details on top of it, using mostly blobby shapes to get the sense of the lizardy-bumpy skin dragons have. I knew I could go high-contrast on my details because in the end this dragon was going to be blurred out and softened a lot, so I'd need sharp details to keep everything from disappearing.

It wasn't an old, wet boot, but I hoped it would do.

With some added bubbles and tweaks to the text, I sent along another sample to Laura. She was happy with it and sent it along to Annie and then sent back Annie's thoughts:

"I. LOVE. IT! This is it! This is the cover!!"

I was thrilled. I'd come full circle with jar and dragon, and had given Annie what she'd wanted, all in one.

Soul Jar will be out on October 17, 2023. More information is here. And here's a short, and fitting excerpt. From "The Rising Currents of Ocean Fire in My Blood" by Bethy Wernert.

My body adapts. Scales become flesh. Gills become lungs. Fins become limbs. Transforming, I grow into girlhood. My coral-strung hair deepens into the earthen volcanic red of lava, and my algae-green eyes become the emerald of moss.

I look just like them. Humans. The only remnants of my squamous body is the slight, coruscating hue my skin reflects in the crescent of the Harvest Moon.

My mother calls me “a gift from the ocean,” her “oyster,” her “pearl.” And like a pearl, she must keep me safe. Safe from the cavernous mouths of those hungry enough to eat mermaids.

She locks me in an aquarium. A large room painted the abyssal blue of the ocean. In the corner of the room is a dresser, the pink hue of anemones. In the other corner sits a simple wooden bed, seaweed green. From the ceiling hangs a mobile, dangling carved shards of mother-of-pearl and glass figurines composed of various sea creatures. A dolphin, a whale, a sea turtle, an octopus, a fish, a squid, a sea star. All dangling precariously on strings.

I spend hours wading through this room. Wandering and exploring its individual nooks and crevices. But it feels too small.


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Book Cover: Mythwakers: The Minotaur

One of the funnest projects I've had lately has been for Kate Ristau's new series Mythwakers. 

Anyone who knows Kate or reads Kate knows that any project having to do with Kate is going to be fun. Like her graphic novel Wylde Wings (with artist Brian W. Parker of Believe in Wonder Publishing). She hired me to basically be her last set of eyes on the interiors of the book, making sure it looked as good as it could look, and even being just that tiny part of that project, I felt blessed... blessed with fun

Going through that book, I was so drawn into the story and the voice, not to mention the fabulous artwork by the actually magical (no, I'm pretty sure he is) Brian W. Parker. It made me want, more than ever, to be able to get my own hands into a Kate book—and then abracadabra, it happened!

I love the concept behind Mythwakers. It's a series of books that teach kids (grades 3-5) all about mythology, through the point of view of its characters. The first in the series spotlights the minotaur. It's Asterion himself, telling his story from his own point of view. How fun is that? 

Designing for a series is a very particular experience. Book cover design is about puzzling—taking all the elements (title, subtitle, author name, blurb, relevant imagery, genre, tone) and fitting them together perfectly—but with a series, you're building something that will live beyond the initial book. That's a whole separate kind of puzzling.

Now, I should mention that Kate Ristau, along with being fun, is a person who knows a heck of a lot about not only writing but creating, concepting, designing—really, all the aspects of putting together a really good book. So she came to me with clear ideas of what she wanted. She had comp titles for me (books that are comparable to hers), ideas on color, thoughts on layout... she even made me some quick sketches to show what she was thinking.

I loved her ideas of the scrollwork connecting things together. And then I started thinking about the idea of Mythwakers. How best to portray the idea of myths waking. Coming up out of sleep. Bursting back to life. I pictured the magic of myth coming up out of an open book.

Really, once I'd spent some time thinking it through, the visual concept for Mythwakers burst out much like that mythly magic bursting out from the book: quickly, happily, and fairly fully formed. Kind of like Athena bursting from the head of Zeus, but that's a different myth. 

Usually I send more than one sample-in-progress, but I was so happy with what I'd come up with that I sent that single sample Kate's way. And she really liked it too. Then we made one big change. From a book to a scroll, which brings an element of antiquity into the design. I sent Kate three versions of this for her to choose from.

She chose her favorite, and we had our cover!

The Kickstarter Pre-Order for Mythwakers: The Minotaur launches today, November 1st, and goes until November 17th. There are lots of fantastic rewards too—including, I'm told, a Minotaur meeting! If you want to check it out and even help bring this book to life, you can find that here.

More info on Kate and all her books is here.

And here's an excerpt!


Hi! My name is Asterion! I am a minotaur. You may recognize me from such books as Clockbreakers by Kate Ristau, or from old-timey poems and epic stories written by guys like Ovid and Plutarch. Those authors got some things right, but they got more than a few things wrong, and I’m here to set the historical record straight.


My life is pretty a-maze-ing. Get it? 


That joke never gets old, even after all these years. I mean, you could almost get lost in it. 


Like a maze. 


Moving on, I am so glad you are here. I am a Mythwaker — a legendary character from an ancient myth that has come to define an entire generation. What? You don’t know what a myth is? You are totally going to love this. Pull up a chair, get comfortable, and we’ll explore myths, mazes, and most importantly: me.


A lot of people use myth to mean a fake story. That’s one meaning of the word myth, but the kind of myths I am talking about are mythology — the foundational narratives, or stories, of a particular culture. 


Sorry. I used a lot of big words there. All those centuries trapped in the labyrinth were SUPER BORING, so I read a lot of scrolls. 


Back to myths — just think of them as the important beginning stories of a group of people. 


The group of people — or culture — that we will be talking about today is the Greeks, and a little bit about those Minoan dudes too.


Here’s an important thing for you to know: people argue a lot about my story. Some people think it happened. Other people think it didn’t. Some people think Theseus was a hero, while smart people know that he is a ding-dong.


That’s the thing about myths — they are around for a long time, passed down from one person to the next, so not all the versions are the same. Think about if your best friend told you a story, which you turned around and told your grandma. Would you tell the same exact story your friend told you to your kind, gentle grandmother? Would you keep all the bloody parts or would you clean things up a bit? You would probably make a few changes, right? Most of us do, and that is why myths are never told the same way twice.

Best friend story, now featuring:

•   Blood and guts!

•   Nasty villains!

•   Mean kids! 

•   Burps and farts!

•   Tacos!

Grandma story, politely exploring:

•   Talking animals.

•   Snuggly kittens.

•   Flowers and smiles.

•   Five guys named Alfred.

•   Hard candy.

Stories change depending on who is telling them and who is listening to them. If you’re talking to your best friend, you might be shouting about fiery salsa and guacamole. If you are sweetly sitting beside your grandma, you could be whispering about butterscotch and rainbows. 


That’s the thing about myths: the audience matters. 


How we remember myths has a lot to do with who was telling the story and who was listening. The stories were constantly changing, but the ones that hung around were the ones that people remembered. They appealed to the culture. They mattered to the listeners. In this way, the audience and the storytellers can change myths for the good, for the bad, and for the tacos.


Thursday, October 13, 2022

Ten Years of Forest Avenue Press

It seems unimaginable to me that this October is Forest Avenue Press' tenth anniversary. Ten years ago this month we published our first book, Brave on the Page, very DIY style, printing it on the Espresso Book Machine that used to be housed in the Purple Room at Powell's City of Books. We hosted reading events, one of which took place one floor up from the Espresso Book Machine, in Powells' Pearl Room, a coveted spot for writers of all types to present their books.

I say "we" because I'm of a handful of folks who are involved with the press, including readers, copy-editors, proofers, and our editor-at-large Liz Prato—but really Forest Avenue Press is mainly all Laura Stanfill.

Star Laura Stanfill—a star the way stars are just before they become black holes: compact and more stellar than you can imagine. That's a weird metaphor and I don't mean to say Laura is compact, or about to turn into a lethal sucking vortex of some kind. I just watched a show about black holes before starting to work on this. Anyway, I'm trying to say there's no one who contains so much energy and so much shine.

And because it's our tenth anniversary, I just wanted to take a moment to honor her and the press she built and the community she helped grow and the books she brought into the world.

But here's the thing about Laura Stanfill. Above, I was talking about how this press is mainly all her. But for Laura, it's all about all of us. She never thinks about Forest Avenue Press as her press. Her aim is helping writers get their stories into the world, helping readers find each other, helping people find community. She's constantly using her very limited free time to give advice to new writers. She's always looking for opportunities to bring people together.

For my part, I don't think I can adequately express how much better my life is because of her and Forest Avenue Press. I wouldn't have loads of lovely friends I have, and so many amazing experiences, I wouldn't have the wonder that is City of Weird, I wouldn't be a book designer today, if not for the moment she and I stood on the sidewalk after our writing group ten years ago and I said, are you really thinking of publishing a book, and she said yes, and she said, were you serious in there when you said you'd make me a cover, and I said yes. What a ten years it's been. It's made my life infinitely more rich. I say that for myself, but I know it's true for so many other folks too. Happy anniversary*, Forest Avenue Press, and happy anniversary, Laura. Here's to the years to come.

*OK, I'm not sure which day in October to call the actual anniversary. But I think we should celebrate all month long.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

a moment in the day: news

Just up from taking Nicholas out and putting the coffee on, I sit down in front of the computer for some morning work. I wake up my old iPhone, which for some reason is the device I use to stream NPR, and I put it down next to me on the desk to catch the news.

It snaps on in the middle of some story. Or, at the end of it, I quickly figure out.

"—and there's much that still needs to be known, but the community will be dealing with the effects of this tragedy for a long time to come."

The reporter signs off and the filler music starts, and I think, oh god, what now.

Click over to Google. And the sad thing is—well, the other sad thing is—I know all I need to do to find out what happened, here in the good old U. S. of A.

I google shooting.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Book Interior: Glory Guitars

I feel like starting this post with the classic Sesame Street sign-off.

This book was brought to you by the letter G.

Because how can I not, when the memoir Glory Guitars, by Gogo Germaine, is being published by University of Hell Press' Greg Gerding, with cover art by Joel Amat Güell, author photos by Glenn Ross, and interior design graced by my own Gs*? The number of Gs in that list makes me so giddy that I want to go through the entire interior of the book and count all the Gs in it. But that would be weird.


Sesame Street is a strange reference, of course, when you're talking about a book crammed full of sex, drugs, and punk rock. University of Hell describes the book as the "memoir of a ’90s teenage punk rock grrrl." It's a power-chord-fueled joyride full of personality and wit (gee, that sounds like a blurb)—and toward the beginning of this year, Greg reached out to me about designing its interior. Now, interior design doesn't sound anywhere near as fun a project as cover design, but this one was a blast. It was way more than laying paragraphs of text down on the page. Greg wanted the interior design to match the edge and energy of the book and provided me with super fun illustrations that I could use throughout and loads of freedom for experimenting with how to use them.

The cover design was done, as I mentioned before, by Joel Amat Güell, and it's drop-dead perfect.

A lot of Joel's elements from that cover were given to me in individual, black and white form.

And Joel created special illustrations to head each chapter. Like so:

So fun, right?

One of the cool things about Glory Guitars is that it's structured around a "soundtrack." Each chapter is divided up into short sections, and each section is headed and ended with a song in this soundtrack. "Never Say Never" by Romeo Void. "Submission" by Sex Pistols. "Fun Time" by Iggy Pop. "Demirep" by Bikini Kill. The songs give flavor and a nice layer of punk history to the book but they're also nicely curated, reflecting the stories and the tones of each section. My job was to give the soundtrack its visual sense, something that would fit with the overall look of cover and interiors and evoke, of course, music. Music and edginess and, since these were breaks between sections... breakiness.

Joel made us a couple small CD illustrations in the style of the rest of his art, and I arranged things like so, referencing the way the subtitle is styled on the cover.

It was fun to be loose and scrappy with these, make them different every time. The challenge was fitting everything elegantly on the page. If the text came too far down, for example, there wasn't enough space for a soundtrack break but too much empty space left at the bottom. The added element of footnotes on some pages made this challenge even harder. Then the big challenge came in the proofing process, where small changes were being made in the book, and each tiny change could set off a chain reaction to the spacing for the rest of the chapter.

Chapter openers had the special Joel illustration, with some added styling of my own, plus a soundtrack song to start them off.

As I worked through the pages, arranging text and artwork, I found and listened to lots of the songs in Gogo's soundtrack.  I don't know much punk, although I've always like the hypertensive, raw sound of it. It was fun to immerse myself in her chosen songs as I put together the interior of her book.

I won't share all the different touches, but I'll say that I extra enjoyed blinging up her author photos...

...and doing a little Glory Guitars treatment to Patti Smith's epigraph.

Glory Guitars
is available for preorder in all the main places, like Indiebound, and also on the University of Hell Press website where you have the added bonus that you can choose from five different variant color covers. It's officially out on October 11, which is also the International Day of the Girl. A cool promo video, is here. Here's an excerpt to let you know just what kind of punk grrrl you're dealing with:

By age fifteen, we had discovered an intricate infra-structure of debauchery across Fort Collins. Our entire network of punks and degenerates knew its secrets. We knew which liquor stores sold to minors: the cramped chunk of cement on Riverside Drive with a view of the train tracks; the more wholesome, suburban wine shop where parents might shop, yet they surprisingly didn’t ID. We knew which cafes would let underage people smoke inside: Max’s Subsonic—an old house turned café, with rooms to get lost in, that threw actual parties for underage kids—plus late nights at IHOP, and within the dingy, red-painted walls of Paris on the Poudre, the goth cafe. While I’m glad for the health of today’s youth, I almost feel bad they won’t ever experience the dirtbag tang of indoor smoking.

Teenage haunts are havens for illicit activity that are hidden in plain sight; they often have short names easily whispered in a pinch. The Ditch. The Dam. The Path. I knew the Path was a hard place the day one of the skaters shot a new girl at school with a duck gun as his friends erupted in laughter. I was horrified, but the fact that I didn’t do anything to help still haunts me.

There was the Starlite, the downtown punk club as shitty as its glittery aspirational name suggests. It hosted many of my friends’ bands, touring acts, and it even hosted an impromptu show in the parking lot featuring ALL, former members of the Descendents. Plus, the occasional party where girls wrestled in kiddie pools of Jell-O.

The memories of such parties and locations are often mysterious. I have a hazy memory of participating in Jell-O wrestling at the Starlite but can’t be sure. It happened during Corinne’s and my wrestling phase, a brief period when we couldn’t even be together without her getting an evil glint in her eye before thrashing me on whatever PBR-soaked carpet or viscid floor we were on. I have a glimpse of a memory of the Starlite, and looking down to see my white tee soaked in syrupy red. I have another piece of a memory of making out with a skater boy, Shane, in the back of a crashing car. Kitty was backing out and lodged the car into a pole.


*Not wanting to not give credit where it's due, the front cover photos were by the decidedly G-less Carri Lawrence.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Book cover: No God Like the Mother

Recently, Forest Avenue Press acquired reprint rights to Kesha Ajọsẹ-Fisher's story collection No God Like the Mother. It was originally published in 2019—and in 2020 won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction!—but the press that published it, Portland's Inkwater Press, closed its doors and the book went out of print.  Later this year, Forest Avenue Press will be bringing it back and giving it national distribution through Publishers Group West. It's an honor to play a small part in the relaunch of this amazing book by creating a new cover for it. 

It's daunting, too. After all, you want to honor the original but still make it new.

I designed a new cover for a reissue once before, for Sara Lippmann's Doll Palace. In that instance, we wanted a completely new cover, but I incorporated a small reference to the original art into my new design. For No God Like the Mother, the original cover art was created by author Kesha Ajọsẹ-Fisher's own daughter, Omo’Dara Ajọsẹ-Fisher! It's a fabulous line drawing of a woman wearing a headscarf and hoop earrings, standing with her back to the viewer. 

Because of the obvious personal connection between Kesha and her original cover artist, we wanted to create the new design as an homage to that art. But I'll admit that I procrastinated a bit at the beginning of the project. I had a lot of who-am-I-to thoughts. Who am I to take this art and make it something new? An impostor? A usurper? A wannabe who might not be up to the task?

I thought about films that remake the original, how each stand on their own. 

I thought about a recent art series of my husband Stephen O'Donnell (Re:Pose), in which he created new paintings based on classic works, swapping the genders of subjects and using it to say new things.

With that, I started to find my way in, and I quickly got caught up in the task of recreation. Homage is a seductive exercise. Some of my favorite projects have been ones that allowed me to pay homage to something else—pulp magazines for City of Weird, illuminated manuscripts for The Alehouse at the End of the World. For No God Like the Mother, it was content rather than style that I was paying homage to. The single subject, back to the camera, the head scarf, the earrings. I used it all and worked to make it something new.

It turned out that I needed only one basic sample to send to Publisher Laura Stanfill, for her to in turn send to Kesha, and everyone was happy all around. From there it was small tweaks as we arranged the blurb and added the award badge. And then one last step made things really special.

Laura and Kesha discussed adding the Nigerian translation of the title, No God Like the Mother, to the cover. Kesha got us the translation and I thought on how best to incorporate it cleanly and unconfusingly, and we had our cover.

No God Like the Mother will be out sometime later this year, depending on the current supply chain issues. More info is here. And here's an excerpt!

“All my children came with the rain,” she said. “This one will, too.” Her voice was feather-light. She looked down at her protruding belly. “Even the ones fighting to stay inside have no choice when the sky opens.” She held up three fingers. “I walked to the tents by myself, three times, and never came home with my children.” Shifting on her bottom, she continued: “1960, independence for Nigeria, a sweet year, even here in Ile Omi. I heard of a new midwife across the river. When I tried to cross, the river threw me this way and that. I kept moving and singing to chase the pain away. I sang about birds hiding from rain, and inside, you kicked and kicked. When I mentioned the birds returning after the rain to steal fattened worms, you were quiet.”

Saturday, July 9, 2022

A dozen random things about my aunt Kathy

1. When I was a kid, her nickname for my little sister Edina was "My Pal."

2. She was a huge lover of animals and her house was always full of dogs, cats, and at one point, birds. The first animals I remember were the dog trio of Bingo, Domino, and Hopscotch.

3. Once when she was living in Brussels, Belgium, young and partying, she decided to stow away on a boat bound for America, and they had to dock in Cherbourg to offload her and send her off to call home from the hoosegow.

4. She was a great audience and if you were at a comedy show, a lit event, a performance of a family song, a drag show you put on for your fortieth birthday, you could always hear her laugh over the rest.

5. She always insisted on paying the bill when she went out to eat with you. The only way you could get her to let you pay is if you were stealthy and pretended to go to the bathroom in the middle of the meal and pulled the server aside and slipped them your credit card.

6. This from my kid diary, June 3, 1985 (spelling errors intact): "We awoke around seven to get ready to leave and we left around 8. We were listening to one of my Beatles tapes and it was great. But, this wierd guy in a truck did something to Kathy that provoked her to shoot him the finger. This truck started following us at 85 miles per hour, easy. Really close. We sped up. It still followed. We finaly slowed to let him pass and the guy actually tried to bump at us as he passed! Well, we took down the licence number and tried to report him, but we weren’t successful. But, we didn’t get killed, so it’s alright."

7. She's the reason most of my life is what it is today. She sent me the CD of Rufus Wainwright's Poses, which led me to the Rufus Wainwright message board, which led me to hearing about an art show by an artist named Stephen O'Donnell, which led me to see the art show on a visit to Portland, which led me to write the artist a fan email, which led to an online friendship, which led me to visit Portland again to meet him, which also led me to meet Kathy's friend Steve Arndt, which led me to meet Tom Spanbauer and to learn about Dangerous Writing, all of which led me to move to Portland, marry Stephen, study writing under Tom, work for Powell's, dot, dot, dot. At our wedding we told a hopefully more truncated version of this story, and Stephen summed it up with: "No Kathy, no party."

8. Another moment from a kid diary, September 1, 1985: "Last night, we went over to Kathy & Mike’s to see them for dinner. Fred cooked beans and rice. After dinner, Edina and I had a great talk with Kathy. All about life and morals and philosophies, and friends, juicy things like that. A really spicy conversation."

9. She had a great eye. In the last years, she got really into art, doing lots of lovely sketches and paintings. Earlier in her life, she made her own darkroom and took and developed really great pictures.

10. When she broke her hip and was in the hospital for surgery, and I offered to go get her some supplies like pillow, brush, iPod, she asked me to sneak her in some weed.

11. She was endlessly generous, supporting so many people in so many ways. Friends, family, houseless folks, many different organizations. She was for years the sponsor of the Burnt Tongue reading series and the Portland Writers Picnic.

12. She really rocked that pink hair.