Tagged authors

How to Transform a Conflict: An Interview with Gwendolyn Olton

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we were joined by Gwen Olton, co-director of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, to talk about her new book that’s hot off the press from Microcosm, From Conflict to Community: Transforming Conflicts without Authorities. We love this book, which borrows from many different styles of conflict transformation and resolution to bring us the practical tools we need to listen to each other and navigate the conflicts we face every day — without calling the cops or HR.

Check out the video below, and also read the blog interview Gwen wrote for us to talk more about her book and its process of coming into the world!


MCP: What inspired you to write your book?

GO: There were a few things that coalesced to inspire me to write the book. I had finished reading Sarah Schulman’s Conflict Is Not Abuse and her discussions of “bad friend” groups and the influence they have on conflicts stuck with me. At the same time, I was supporting many folks with conflicts that were relatively minor – not the sort of thing you might bring to a mediator but enough that they were disruptive in a person’s life. Meanwhile, whenever I was invited to facilitate a workshop on conflict or attend someone else’s workshops or skillbuilding on conflict we were very rarely talking about how to support others in conflict when you’re not a mediator or the parties aren’t really sitting down together to discuss. And amidst all of this, has been the growing awareness of just how much we escalate conflicts up to authorities instead of working within our circles to try to work things out. 

What was it like to publish with Microcosm?

Easy peasy! I don’t have a basis of comparison since this is my first book, but communication and transparency have been excellent, which I really appreciate. 

What was the submission/query process like for you?

They were pretty straightforward processes. I had an idea for this book, I fleshed it out a bit and submitted the idea. Then, I exchanged some emails with Microcosm and provided a writing sample or two and that was that! 

Do you still have your original query to us? Are you willing to share it?

Sure! See below:

This book would benefit the reader by offering a large array of strategies for transforming conflicts without appeals to punitive authority figures.

Three publications similar to mine would be:

1. How to be Accountable Workbook: Take responsibility to change your behavior

2. Doing it Better: Conflict resolution and accountability after abuse in leftist communities

3. Unfuck Your Boundaries: Build better relationships through consent, communication, and expressing your needs

My book is unique from these and other titles in that it provides the reader with tools for successfully navigating these struggles as both a participant in a conflict and as a 3rd-party intervener without formal training. Folks would be interested in buying this book when they want help keeping community and relationship intact and don’t have access to formal mediators or facilitators, or cannot afford them. I want to offer this book because I see a deep need for collaboration and conflict transformation skills and believe folks can be empowered to work on these practices even without formal training. I want to offer something that is approachable and easy to pick up and brings relief to those who are in conflict and don’t know where to turn. I have a background in transformative mediation, restorative justice and restorative process facilitation, group decision making facilitation, and a number of communication practices including Motivational Interviewing and NVC. I have a MA in conflict resolution. I volunteer as a mediator and conflict consultant for a number of small organizations including a local low-power radio station and roller derby league. I also offer non-court based mediation to folks by referral for free.

I appreciate your consideration and am open to feedback about this pitch if you have time and willingness to share it. Thank you.

What else have you written?

This is the only book I’ve written but I write newsletters for the organization I work at frequently as well as blog posts. I have some things on Medium.

What are you currently reading? 

Right now, I’m reading:

What’s the best book you read in the last year?

This is weirdly hard for me to answer because I have an aversion to choosing a favorite or best anything and also because of my poor sense of time but two books I really enjoyed and think I read last year are:

What’s next for you? 

Besides living, working, and trying to be part of community generally here in Rochester, NY, I’m working on some projects combining visuals / illustrations and writing. Right now I’m working on a visual guide or workbook or zine on some conflict practices, trying to turn some information into some easier to digest and use illustrations. I’m also in the early stages of collaborating with a friend in the Netherlands on visuals, maybe a book, on collaborative practices. 

Where can people find you online?

I’m not in a ton of places / spaces online but here are a few I can think of:

Any in-person events coming up soon?

Not for the book at the moment. I do a lot of in-person events related to conflict with work which you can find at our website. Hoping to do some in-person book events soon! 

From Big Idea to Book! An interview with author Jessie Kwak

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we sat down with Jessie L. Kwak to discuss her new book, From Big Idea to Book: Create a Writing Practice that Brings You Joy. Jessie’s an accomplished and successful writer who knows how to get creative work done. We also talked about her next book, From Dream to Reality, which is all about how to be a freelance writer (and which is funding on Kickstarter right now!).

Weaving a magickal, worldwide web with Friday Gladheart

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we had the honor of interviewing Friday Gladheart, creator of The Practical Witch’s Almanac (you can pick up the 2023 almanac now!).

We had a fascinating conversation about our parallel paths—Friday put out the first almanac the same year Joe started Microcosm, and both were rooted in the early internet—and while the video didn’t record, the audio came through loud and clear. Enjoy!

Born to Be Weird: An interview with Set Sytes

On this week’s People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, we’re joined by author Set Sytes, whose collection of wry horror short stories Born to Be Weird is out now, joining his underground hit How Not to Kill Yourself and a host of other books.

Set joined us from his home in York, England to talk about creativity, depression, the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing, the editorial process, and the life saving power of imagination.

Do authors need a platform?

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly are joined by Ariel Gore, whose brand-new book The Wayward Writer is a stellar practical and personal guide for authors finding their own path to publication.

We talked about the question of platform—specifically the idea that authors need to bring a ready-made audience along with their manuscript. It’s not so straightforward, and have fun getting into the weeds about that.

The Magic of Creative Work: An interview with Katie Haegele and Joe Carlough

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, Joe and Elly sat down (like literally, on their couch in Philadelphia) with Kitchen Witch author Katie Haegele and her husband and fellow small-press publisher Joe Carlough to talk about publishing, writing, creativity, community, zines, their creative histories and future directions, and to get to the heart of why creative work is so meaningful to all of us.

Katie’s written tons of articles and zines and Kitchen Witch is her fourth book with Microcosm. Joe C. is the proprietor of Displaced Snail Publications and This & That Tapes. Together they run the East Falls Zine Reading Room. Their work is beautifully-done, full of heart, and affordable—well worth checking out!

What is an “Indie Author”?

This week on the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast / vlogcast, Joe and Elly consider the term “indie author” and how various forces have tried to co-opt the meaning of independence when it comes to writing and creative work. No punches are pulled as we encourage you to think critically about what you value about independence and whether or not you actually are getting that from the company selling it to you.

This Is… Alexander Barrett

Colorful little book on a shelf. "This is Portland"We’ve loved working with traveler/writer Alexander Barrett since the beginning. From our beloved Portland to Shanghai and soon San Francisco, Alex’s eye for the unique little details in the cities he features continues to be spot on and enjoyable. Years ago, 2015 to be exact, we interviewed Alex for the release of This is Shanghaiand this week we decided to catch up with him and revisit those questions for a update.

 

 1. Where are you *right now* and what is the most important thing to know about what’s going on around you there?

Right now, I’m in my apartment in San Francisco, looking out over the city. I’ve lived here just long enough to think that the new Salesforce tower is ruining the skyline. Oof that thing. Today was “Sunday Streets” on Valencia in the Mission. They close the street to traffic and line it with musicians, dancers, and tables dedicated to local non-profits. I just watched a bunch of hippies play Jefferson Airplane covers to a small group of dancing children. “When the truth is found to be lies and all the joy within you dies…” It was the first time I really listened to those lyrics. The kids really responded to them.

2. I know it’s crass to ask, but when you aren’t making charming illustrated books about places you’re getting to know, what exactly do you do for a living?

I have a job. I’ve had the job for three years. I still don’t know exactly what it is. But I go there and I do stuff. When it started, I was a copywriter working on branding for YouTube. Then I convinced some higher ups to let me buy a Risograph Printer. Now I mostly print fun stuff and show other people how to print fun stuff.

3. What’s your favorite book that you’ve read this year?

I read Tamara Shopsin’s Arbitrary and Stupid Goal a few months ago. I really like the format of her books. It’s not unlike the way I’ve structured mine. Very staccato. But her chapters bounce all over the place through time, topic, and location. Such a wonderful experience.

4. What’s next for you? And finally, the question on everyone’s mind: Where will you live next?

I’ve lived in San Francisco for three years, which is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in a long time. I think I’ll stick around for a while. I won’t be in this city forever, but they have nice baked goods here. For the time being, I’m going to be in this apartment and explore the way I make things.

Looking back, the process of making these three books feels so similar. But looking at the final products, I think I’ve gotten better at it. I think This is San Francisco is the best and most complete project I’ve ever made. That feels good.

 

Learn more about Alexander and follow his work at www.alexanderbarrett.com and check out all three of his city books.
If you’re in Portland this month, snag a free copy of the 1st edition This is Portlands at “little free libraries” all over town! More on the blog.