Inlandia Books is growing, here’s what you need to know – Redlands Daily Facts

By Cati Porter | Collaborating columnist

Books. They are a renewable resource, like trees or chocolate. Cheaper than gasoline, they can get you anywhere in an instant. In one form or another, books have been around for as long as people have something to say and a way to say it.

Recently, I participated in a virtual conversation about small press publishing and it reminded me of how far Inlandia’s publishing program has come, from our early days of co-publishing with Heyday to our very first independently published book (featured in Word, which I learned the hard way was a bad idea) to two Blossoming Book Awards honoring deceased local writers, and a slew of original and interesting books across multiple genres. We are no longer in our childhood, we are growing up. Our list is longer, stronger and we aim to expand it.

This spring, Inlandia Books is launching four new titles: “Ladybug,” a stunning new memoir by former Inlandia Literary Laureate Nikia Chaney (2016-2018); “Pretend Plumber: An Adventure,” a YA-adjacent novel by Stephanie “Poet-try” Barbe Hammer; “This Side of the Fire” by high desert poet Jonathan Maule, winner of the Hillary Gravendyk Regional Award; and “Among the Enemies” by Michael Samra from New Orleans, which won the National Hillary Gravendyk Award.

We have also just wrapped up our first ever Inlandia Books open reading period, with the signing of two new authors and expect to publish at least eight books by the end of 2023. By major publishing house standards, this n t may not be many, and there were more of the books we were sad to pass up, but there will always be next year. We plan to reopen the Inlandia Books free reading period at the end of the summer.

So what else could be the next step?

How about our own book festival!

This year marks my 13th year since I first went for coffee with Marion Mitchell-Wilson and my life has changed irrevocably. much the same since I founded the publications committee, muddled by the publication of our very first book, and now, a full decade as executive director.

During that first coffee with Marion, she handed me a folder (okay, it was the first of a long series…) and in that folder were notes and ideas for an idea of ​​what she dubbed a “word” festival. Marion envisioned it as inclusive, involving all sorts of literary endeavors around words, with a strong emphasis on local authors.

It’s one of my regrets that I couldn’t make it a reality while she was still here.

Seven years later, I’m about to finally make his idea a reality with the help of my friends: the City of Riverside, the Riverside Public Library, the Southern California News Group, and – you?

As an established writer who is also able to help other writers, it’s one of my greatest joys to see other writers flourish, which is why I find it so exciting. Of course, there are other book festivals, but I know – probably better than most – that the shelves in our area are full of local authors. Why should they leave town to connect with their audience?

But developing a book festival takes time, research and resources. So this year, Inlandia is going on the road to gain real-world experience and exposure. And for starters, we’re heading to the biggest and baddest book festival around:

The Los Angeles Times Book Festival.

Believe it or not, I’ve never personally been to LATFOB, and neither has Inlandia. It seems a travesty to have missed so many opportunities to pick up heaps of new books. (I guess there must be a rule, if you drool over it, you buy it?) Between the millions of booksellers, there’s plenty to see and do and it’s all free. There are over 250 events, over 250 exhibitors and 550 participating authors – and those are just the ones officially on the schedule.

As a first-time entrant to LATFOB, Inlandia’s entry wasn’t selected for a stage, but fear not: where there’s a handheld Bluetooth microphone, there will be playbacks. There will also be new books for sale, free books, and opportunities to chat with other friends who love books as much as you do.

The LATFOB dates are April 23 and 24 and we will have special author appearances on both days at our booth, #193, near the Poetry Stage. Stop by Saturday for Romaine Washington, Douglas McCulloh, Susan Straight, Teresa Rhyne, Mike Samra and Jonathan Maule. Then, on Sunday, stop by for Nikia Chaney and Stephanie Barbe Hammer. For more details on the “how to”, visit: https://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/how-to-2021/ or visit the Inlandia website for a timeline, biographies, book descriptions and more.

If you’re local but can’t make it to LATFOB, join us for local launches. To kick things off, on April 22, we’ll be with our two new Hillary Gravendyk Award-winning authors Jonathan Maule and Mike Samra at local gem Tio’s Tacos for—you guessed it—tacos! And poetry! And watch Inlandia’s social media channels for new author spotlights and writing prompts every day in April for National Poetry Month.

So, next year, in 2023? Join us in downtown Riverside near the new Main Library. We will have to think of a catchy name. Surely we can beat LAT-FOB? Comment or send me suggestions for presenters, activities and names. What would you like to see?

Cati Porter is the author of several books of poetry, including “The Body at a Loss” (CavanKerry Press) and the upcoming “Novel” (Bamboo Dart Press). She lives in Inland Southern California where she directs the Inlandia Institute.

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