Monthly Archives: January 2018

New Giveaway Process

FINAL of Fix Your Clothes: The Sustainable Magic of Mending, Patching, & Darning

For years Microcosm has run pretty rad giveaways through our friends over at Goodreads. This year, however, their terms have changed to include new charges for giveaways that we’re not quite willing or able to pay.

So instead, the next couple months will feature giveaways here, on our blog, instead, while we try out other options.

To try one out, we’re running a test giveaway below for some of last years Advanced Reader Copies. It’s super easy to enter using your email address or facebook, AND you get extra entries for doing cool shit, like tweeting about the book, answering a question, or visiting us on social medias.

I’m offering five copies of the advanced reader copies of Fix Your Clothes: The Sustainable Magic of Mending, Patching, & Darning.

Never even heard of this book? Here’s the description:

Ever had to say goodbye to a favorite item of clothing because of a busted zipper, fallen hem, or gaping hole? Want to save money and the world by not buying new clothes at the time? Concerned about the labor practices of fast fashion? Learn to repair your clothes from this cheerful illustrated guide. Raleigh Briggs, author and illustrator of the bestselling Make Your Place and Make It Last takes us on a mending journey through stocking your supplies, quick fixes, types of knots and stitches, buttons, mending seams, patching holes, darning holes, hemming, fixing zippers, waterproofing canvas, leather, and nylon, and so much more! Raleigh’s style is simple, playful, friendly, fun, and builds your confidence. You can do it!

Win one!

Enter below for a chance at one of 5 copies of the Fix Your Clothes arc, by the legendary DIY zinester Raleigh Briggs, now through January 31st.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Call for Submissions: Introducing the Self Care Healthcare series

Introducing Microcosm’s new open submissions series:

Self Care Healthcare

How do people stay healthy in an unhealthy world? That’s the question this series of small, practical, accessible books will answer, with a focus on taking care of your physical, mental, and sexual health.

Are you a nurse, an herbalist, a physician’s assistant, a naturopath, a surgeon, an acupuncturist, a family doctor, a physical therapist, a midwife, a reproductive health clinic worker, a dental hygienist, a medical anthropologist, an epidemiologist, or any other sort of health expert or practitioner?

What do you wish more people knew about taking care of themselves?

What would you tell your patients if you could see them for longer than 15 minutes at a time?

What knowledge and skills would most improve your patients’ health and quality of life?

This is your chance to share your expertise!

We are seeking authors for short, instructive books that fill a gap in public knowledge and augment the resources provided by the current healthcare system. Books should be focused on building practical skills and understanding the science behind why they work. Holistic perspectives preferred. A focus on the health of people in marginalized demographics is especially encouraged.

Help us reclaim these ideas from the reference shelf and make them easily and cheaply available to the public!

Manuscripts can be 10,000 to 30,000 words. You can come to us with a completed or partial manuscript or just an idea. We prefer submissions for this series by credentialed professionals, but we’ll consider proposals from folks with lots of hands-on life experience in their topic.

To submit, fill out the contact form on our FAQ page and mention that you’re submitting to the Self Care Healthcare series.

A Whole New Year of Rampant Media Consumption

HEY!

What have YOU been reading/doing/watching/playing lately?

 

Here’s our traditional round-up of the media we’re rampantly consuming.

Cyn

Honestly, I spend a lot of time watching TV. More than I should. Mostly we’re rewatching cartoon favorites (Adventure Time, Bee & Puppycat, Rick & Morty, Gravity Falls) with my sister and catching up on FlashLegionBlack-ish, and One Day at a Time. I also try to catch up on Outlander and Black Mirror when I get the tv to myself.

In games, for a while everyone took turns playing CupHead and laughed at their endless frustration with it, but then my sister got sick and we just rewatched every episode of The Good Place for a week straight while she got better.

Listening a lot to Chromatics and Desire while working, plus a lot of soundtrack music (curse you, Clint Mansell, and your tone-setting movie music genius).

Finished a fantastically creepy YA audiobook called And The Trees Crept In, by Dawn Kurtagich, during my commute ride and immediately hunted down the author’s other audiobook, The Dead Housefrom the library. I am in love with it as well, and am thoroughly charmed by the author’s moody, atmospheric tales that keep me guessing.

Also been loving on Chin Music Press’s beautiful book on japanese cat mythology.

Kristine

A bed full of books

Kristine & Family’s December reading haul

 

I thought December was a pretty shit month of fires and stress, but our family actually read A LOT. Hooray!

Our movie list:
1. Lady Bird
2. My Friend Dahmer
3. Edward Scissorhands
4. Florida Project
5. Get Out
6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

We saw Lady Bird and Get Out twice, so there was definitely some meat for discussion on those bones. And I would add The Square. Lots of people in my cinema club HATED it, which made it even sweeter.

TV: Stranger Things 2, Better ThingsThe Dark (German series), Mindhunters, and we rewatched favorite cartoons Gravity Falls and Rick & Morty. I want to catch up on Black Mirror too, but the damn kid stays up too late. Or her parents go to bed too early….

Plus the art collective FriendsWithYou and their exhibit at the Oakland Museum was the best mind-altering experience of 2017 that did not involve drugs.

Wow, 2017 was way less sucky if I view it ONLY in terms of great movies and books!

 

Elly

Joe and I have been watching Parks & Rec after work every day and laughing SO much. So needed.

“GOODBYE, LITTLE SEBASTIAN!”
He does BEING A LITTLE HORSE better than ANYBODY!!!”

In media I plan to consume this month: OMSI is playing Studio Ghibli movies all month for 7 bucks.

Trista

I’ve been rereading The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward and havent been watching anything lately, but I’m really looking forward to bingeing The End Of The Fucking World on Netflix.

 

Kayla

I currently have no streaming services and just a DVD player, so I’ve been buying cheap TV box sets and am currently enjoying Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time. I’ve also recently discovered the joy of taking myself to the movies, so I’m more up to date on current films than usual: Lady Bird (loved it as much as every other millennial woman), The Disaster Artist (such great things can come out of badly made things), The Last Jedi (always game for Star Wars), and The Shape of Water (liked it but didn’t love it like I wanted too—a little too attached to Pan’s Labyrinth still, I guess).

 I almost always listen to my entire music collection on shuffle, and lately shuffle has given me extra Nine Inch Nails, Sia, and Kanye West.

I just finished reading The Mothers by Brit Bennett, a year behind everyone else because I’m the cheap kind of bookworm who waits for paperbacks, and I’m so glad I got to start 2018 with such a well-written, hook-in-the-gut book. About to move on to The Child in Time by Ian McEwan, which I expect to also love since I like the author so much I named my new cat after him (well, in all honestly, partially after him, partially after Ewan McGregor).

 

Troy

Music: I’ve been listening to Marvin Gaye, Elton John’s “Honky Chateau”, and a newer artist called Ariel Pink.

Books: I’m reading Oxford’s A Very Short Introduction to Black Holes and a biography of Antonin Artaud (the creator of Theatre of Cruelty) called Poet Without Words by Naomi Greene. I like to read a lot of different stuff at a time so I don’t get bogged down by one topic, so I’ve also been reading a collection of Langston Hughes’s poems.

Television: The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross and finally finishing Stranger Things.

Film: I haven’t had a chance to go to a movie theater recently, but I really want to see Loving Vincent. Every frame of the animation was painted in his style and the whole film required over 100 oil painters.

Theatre: I recently watched a production of Eugene Ionesco’s Victims of Duty at PSU and it blew my mind. The script encompassed absurd theatre so well and the cast and set refused to allow the incongruous language to strip away meaning and urgency. There’s so much unnecessary information available for consumption, it often feels like a chore gathering the necessary media. I wish I kept up more with politics and daily news, but it usually just makes me tired or upset and I lose motivation to dig further into the things I really want to know. Instead, I would rather sit back with a cup of coffee and enjoy the soothing rhythms of Langston Hughes.

“Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,”
~ From “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes

 

Ahi

My media consumption has been pretty wordy lately: I finally read forgotten fantasy masterpiece Lud in the Mist and totally loved it. This Census Taker by China Mieville is perfect autumn reading as well. I’ve also been reading more nonfiction, most notably stuff from Alan Watts and Slavoj Žižek.

I also started playing The Witcher 2 and it’s pretty great even if I’m seven years late to the party.

Musically, I can never get enough of Alt-J or Of Monsters and Men, and I keep listening to Foo Fighters: Live at Wembley and fervently wishing I had arranged my life better so I could have been at that concert.

 

 


Your turn!

Tweet your #rampantmediaconsumption to @microcosmmm to win a free sticker pack and book coupon!

Call for Submissions for Neurodiversity zine series

Autism now occupies a similar place in the public consciousness at this moment as gay rights did in the 1970s: no one understands it and The Borg demand our assimilation! 
Proud to Be Retarded (previously Don’t Be Retarded) is for sale now! It offers exposition on neurotypicals’ neurophobia and the frequent claim that they are supportive of #ActuallyAutistic people…as long as we act like they do. One reviewer for my book Good Trouble mentioned that she couldn’t believe that I wasn’t part of a radical zine community on the forefront of Autistic theory…so I decided to start one! The inspiration for the title lies in the homocore roots of punk and Don’t Be Gay in the 1980s. Queer punks were told that they would be accepted as soon as they acted like straight people.  The deadline for issue #2 is August 19, the theme is suicide, and submissions should be 500-2,000 words! Theme for issue #3 is interactions with authority figures with a deadline of February 15, 2019. 
Your Neurodiverse Friend features advice and explanatory narrative about the neurodiverse experience for the less divergent so we can be seen as real, whole people. The first issue is at the printer now! If you are interested in contributing to issue #2, the deadline is November 15 and the theme is “being taken advantage of.” The theme for issue #3 is Masking and the deadline is May 15, 2019. We want your personal narrative, origin story, misconceptions you’ve faced, how people could better interact/collaborate/interface with you, and aspirations of how you would like the movement to grow that can serve as a narrative for NTs understanding our people’s experiences. 500-2,000 words.
email submissions/questions to joe at microcosmpublishing daht com

New Year, New Opportunities — Our New Year’s Resolutions

Elly’s motivational poster. Resist like a girl!

Maybe it’s New Year’s fever, but this month a lot of us have been looking forward to the new year with outstretched (if a little cautious) arms and ready pens. We’re making plans, getting shit done, and taking the time for self-care whenever we can.

If you’re consciously taking steps toward becoming a better you, then you’re allowing society to grow, learn, and become more human over time as well!

Here’s what we’ve promised ourselves in the new year…

Elly

My resolution is to keep doing all the stuff I did in 2017 that went well and aim to do it 5-10% better.

Kristine

I AM NOT SMOKING THIS YEAR, AND I AM TRYING NOT TO WANT TO KILL EVERYONE. Whew. Wish me luck and perseverance.

Kayla

My New Year’s resolution is to find a weekly social thing to do, like a recreational sport or a dance class or something like that, to force my introverted self to meet more people and do some activities I’ll probably actually enjoy once I get there.

Cyn’s motivational print. Meet Your Deadlines!

Ahi

I do have high hopes for 2018. I’ll live in a country I’ve never lived before (still deciding which one) and I’ll likely finish my fourth novel, while continuing to publish 1d4 RPG books a year.

Troy

My New Year’s resolution is to journal every day. I want to write more plays, pilots, and comics, and to finish all the books I started and then read more!

Cyn

I just straight up want to be happier and to be a better me in 2018 — but I’m gonna try following Elly’s lead and just work towards just a 5-10% better me 😀


Your turn!

What are you hoping to change or make happen in 2018?

Tweet us @microcosmmm with your resolutions or plans for a chance to win a Microcosm sticker pack!  [One random tweeter will be selected to win over the weekend.]

 

 

Until next time, keep resisting.

 

A statement about the Alex Wrekk lawsuit

On Friday, January 12th,​ 2018​​ ​Microcosm’s lawyer filed a complaint against Alex Wrekk, Joe’s ex-wife of nearly 14 years ago. The complaint comes after​ over​​ ​a decade of attempts at settlement, mediation, negotiation, accountability processes, and many other earnest attempts at resolution. It is our last resort and one we are not at all thrilled to have to take.

Our sole goals with this​ ​​complaint​​ is to resolve an old conflict so everyone can move on with their lives and end Wrekk’s persistent harassment of Joe Biel, Microcosm staff, and​ ​​people who believe in and support Microcosm.​ ​In 2006, Wrekk began publicly claiming that Biel’s literal communication style and disability to notice and respond to others emotional expression and nonverbal communication neurotypically were “emotional abuse.” Pathologizing of autism is common and if you’re unfamiliar here’s a story on Invisibilia about an autistic doctor who had seven medical assistants quit in one year due to, as she puts it, “over and over again the world didn’t respond the way she expected.”

Wrekk’s persistent campaign o​f ​​ bullying and​ ​neurophobic harassment has caused untold amounts of suffering to ​hundreds of people in the form of stress, ​trauma, ​poisoned​ relationships, canceled events, and ​friends told that they ha​ve​ to choose sides. We wish her no harm; we want only to be left alone to be able to go about our lives and our work without fear​, ​just as we leave her alone​.

We did not​ ​​want to continue having this conflict publicly ​​because our goal​ ​​has always been​ ​to seek an end to this drama. Howev​er, as she ​continues to harass us, we want to again push for resolution so we can all move on and do the things that we want to be doing. If you ​have questions, most of them should be answered here and if you have something pressing that isn’t, feel free to drop us a line.

Update – June 1, 2018 –
As you may have heard, in response to our complaint, Joe’s ex filed a motion to dismiss our case on first amendment grounds—stating that she has the right to continue to harass Joe and the staff and authors of Microcosm Publishing as a matter of informing the community about an issue of public interest. We disagree strongly, and contested this motion to the best of our efforts. Unfortunately, due to the statute of limitations, her motion was successful. We were simply too late in speaking up.

We are deeply disappointed by this outcome, but know that we did our best. From here on out we will continue to focus on our work, publishing books that matter to our readers and providing tools to build a healthier, more empathetic world. We ask that Alex and her cohort do the same: leave us alone as we leave you alone, so that we can all live and do better.

2017 Money Report (with infographs!)

Happy new year! What a year it’s been. On a personal level, it’s been really hard for a lot of folks, and we’re no exception. 2017 was a year of taking stock, facing tough truths, and returning to priorities. We found ourselves in the position of being able to offer some helpful tools for this, especially Dr. Faith G. Harper’s zines and her book that came out this year, Unf*ck Your Brain and Set Sytes’s humorous but so so true guide to How Not to Kill Yourself. It turns out that a lot of you really, really needed funny, practical mental health guides and getting to connect with many readers about this was a highlight of the year.

Last year we reported that 2016 was Microcosm’s best year yet (and not just financially). Well, we are amazed to be able to let you know that 2017 exceeded that by a whopping 52.48%!

Since last January 1, we’ve published 17 books and dozens of zines as well as adding about 500 titles to our distribution catalog (which we were intending to completely dismantle just a few years ago). This includes a 200,000% increase in witchy books, a subject that had not previously been on our radar but through which our sales team of Jeri Cain and Kristine ably steered us. Despite plans to end our touring program and reduce travel, we ended up doing a record number of events in 2017 too, including a trip to Europe in Aug/Sept! At the same time, our production schedule is booking dates in 2024 and we sent our final Spring, 2018 titles to the printer this morning.

We added some more staff changes this year: Kristine Anstine, former Comics Relief and Last Gasp long-timer came on as major accounts sales manager, Trista Vercher hopped onto our fast-moving wagon to do production, illustration, customer service, and paper pushing. And former star intern Sidnee Grubb will be taking a job here handling all of our precious human resources, sales, operations management, and making us the best Cosm we can be. Her future-husband Ben will also take on a role in our retail store and doing film and photography for us. Oddly, we didn’t lose a single staff person in 2017. We added four more!

We sold about 168,000 books last year; about 460 per day!

Here’s a breakdown of some math about our year, as powered by charts:

Our total income for the year was $754,939.94 (a 52.48% increase from 2016). Here’s a pie chart that shows what we’re selling. “Other” is mostly Slingshot planners. Z-MC Books is what we publish.

So as with most years, our bestsellers were our own books. Let’s look at a further breakdown of sales minus expenses of those books:

And here’s the sales figures in order of income, not taking expenses into account:

Unlike previous years, our biggest sellers are brand new and all of the top 10 (except the perennial Make Your Place) are from the past 15 months! Still, sales continue to democratize. In the past we relied on a single title to pay for all of our bills but now we have to rely on every book to bring in even just $5 per month so we can make that difference up in volume.

Lastly, here are our expenses, totaling -$820,034.61 and forcing us to borrow a bit of money. You see, we are growing so fast that we cannot finance it with our book sales alone. This is a wonderful problem to have as we recently learned on Planet Money! And we increased employee wages 19.37%!

We also donated $$59,672.00 (72.59% increase) worth of books to cool organizations! And wow, check out our rollercoaster ride:

And just like we tell you every year: While we’re legally a “for-profit” organization, we choose to operate on a break-even basis. This means that when we have profits (which isn’t all the time, but we try), they don’t go into our owners’ yacht fund; they go into staff wages and taking a chance on publishing new books we believe in. Getting to do work we care about every day and put books out there that help people change their lives is way better than a yacht. Which is an important attitude to have in the publishing industry!

Saying Hello to the New Year With New Friends

This season, we’ve had the pleasure of working with some new Microcosmonauts: interns Kayla, Troy, and Ahimsa, as well as our newest staff member, Trista. They’ve been a huge help moving into the new year, and we’re so thankful for their time and work.
Always curious about the people we work with, I asked everyone about themselves and their lives. Below are their answers. . . Say hello to the newbies!

 

Kayla

How would you describe yourself?

A paradoxical blend of easygoing and anxious, introverted and people-loving, and thinking both the book and the movie were good.

How do you think others would describe you?

I relatively recently learned I was known as “crazy clarinet girl” to most of my high school classmates. I don’t play clarinet anymore, but people probably think similar things.

What brings you to Microcosm?

A love of books and determination to get into publishing, especially on the editing front.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from the Seattle area and more recently from Boston.

What do you miss/not miss most?

I miss Pike Place, super snowy winters, and joking about how it’s just a little drive down I-90 between my two cities. I do not miss terrible public transportation or Masshole drivers.

What’s your favorite or least favorite thing about Microcosm so far?

My favorite thing is the instant hot water tap—kidding, it’s actually getting the chance to work on a little bit of everything and feel far more supported than pressured. My least favorite thing so far was when the umbrella on the deck blew over and made the scariest thud ever.

What do you want to get out of your time here, now that you’ve seen the basics of what we do?

Strengthen my editorial skills, build new skills in departments I haven’t worked in yet, and deal with genres I’m not super familiar with yet (I’ve dealt with a lot more fiction in the past).

What creative or empowering thing do you like to spend your time doing?

I used to write a lot, so I’ve been trying to ease myself back into that since I moved to Portland. Other than that, singing and cooking at the same time is a great power rush.

Favorite snacks and/or drinks?

London fogs, cheese puffs, scotch

Troy

How would you describe yourself?

A kid, coping with adulthood, anxiously creating whatever comes to mind.

How do you think others would describe you?

I’ve been described by my girlfriend as brooding, but I prefer introverted.

What brings you to Microcosm?

A desire to work near other people with a passion for literature

Where are you from? What do you miss/not miss most?

Missouri. I miss my parents and niece, but not the humid summer/frigid winter.

What do you want to get out of your time here, now that you’ve seen the basics of what we do?

I want to learn from the materials with which I’m working, as well as make strong connections with, learn from, and be inspired by fellow Microcosmonauts.

What creative or empowering thing do you like to spend your time doing?

Hiking and writing

What’s your favorite or least favorite thing about Microcosm so far?

I love how collaborative the process is and how willing people are to show the ropes.

List three of your favorite snacks and/or drinks.

Coffee, pita and hummus, and Montucky

Ahimsa

How would you describe yourself?

Hopefully in a very clever way. Maybe something like introspective, irreverent, intrepid, and fond of alliteration.

How do you think others would describe you?

I don’t think I’m insightful enough to know that!

What brings you to Microcosm?

Most days, the number 4 bus! But really, I’m here to get a little bit of knowledge about how to be a publisher.

Where are you from? What do you miss/not miss most?

I’m from Oregon. But until recently I’d been away for some time, and I missed the following things: 1. rain, 2. Powell’s, 3. Mexican food, 4. Fred Meyer, and 5. walking through cool neighborhoods and seeing the city breathe.

What do you want to get out of your time here, now that you’ve seen the basics of what we do?

Know-how, the knack of taking a book from idea to a physical object. What the heck is a trim size matrix anyway?

What’s your favorite thing about where you live now?

I’m staying with some friends in SE Portland, which is rad, but even better they just got a kitten named Beezus. She’s quite cute.

What creative or empowering thing do you like to spend your time doing?

I write a lot, always have, but recently am trying to become less “design-blind.” For empowering things I try to be open to helping people when they ask for help, and volunteer for many activities throughout the city.

What’s your favorite or least favorite thing about Microcosm so far?

The people here are super kind and great to talk to. There’s an anti status-quo vibe that I haven’t encountered in many work environments before.

List three of your favorite snacks and/or drinks.

Buja mix, dried fruit, and bananas.

 

Trista

How would you describe yourself?

Motivated, curious, enthusiastic. INFJ (if you’re interested in personality types).

How do you think others would describe you?

Reliable, flexible, thoughtful. A co-worker once described me as a cinnamon roll . . . I’m still not quite sure what that means?

What brings you to Microcosm?

I feel like stories are one of the most powerful ways for people to connect with each other and themselves, and I want to be able to help people find those stories and encourage them to create their own. I think Microcosm does that, plus the collaborative atmosphere is a big draw.

Where are you from? What do you miss/not miss most?

Thibodaux, Louisiana. I miss the food and atmosphere, the swamp witchery that is unique to the south. I do not miss the conservative traditions.

What do you want to get out of your time here, now that you’ve seen the basics of what we do?

I never thought about how much goes into getting a book out to its audience, and I’m fascinated by the process and eager to discover different ways to think about books.

What’s your favorite thing about where you live now?

I could live in Powell’s. Also Oasis Cafe on Hawthorne, I could eat the Veggie everyday. Also all the parks/forestry areas.

What creative or empowering thing do you like to spend your time doing?

I love to make comics and writing. I play guitar and write songs, which is just something for myself.

What’s your favorite or least favorite thing about Microcosm so far?

I like that Microcosm has coloring books about vaginas and things to remind us that while politics/activism/diversity/learning to empower yourself is important, it’s equally important to have fun and relax every now and then.

Do you have any pets (or particularly interesting kids)? Tell us about them.

I have two cats and two god-children. The cats are Goofy (moody introvert) and Percy (playful and ditzy), both are very clumsy. The kids are Bella/Bells (4yo, princess that loves wrestling and Totoro) and Josiah/Jojo, who is still a baby and I haven’t met in person yet.

Favorite snacks and/or drinks?

Sweet tea, pickles, red grapes (fruit is always nice).

 

Call for Submissions: Bikes in Space #6

You’re invited! Our Elly Blue Publishing imprint has announced a call for submissions for its sixth anthology of feminist bicycle science fiction, with the theme of Dragons. The deadline is April 1st, 2018 (but it isn’t an April Fool’s joke, despite being a lot of good silly fun). Read the entire call for submissions and start dreaming up your story.