How to Hustle Your Book

Today I learned that you can promote your book by advertising it on a dating website. You put the cover of your book in the spot where your face goes and people stop to look at it because they’re confused why there’s a book there instead of your face.

I have wanted to be an author since I was in sixth grade and I wrote a thirty page start to a novel during recess. What I’ve learned since then is that getting published, in any capacity, is hard. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been rejected. You get that same drop in your stomach every time.

This afternoon I attended a workshop with three self-published authors who were kind enough to share the secrets of their success: Renee Meland (class of 2005), James B Reid, and Mark Shaw. That’s where the dating site tip came from. Here are a few more:

1) Do Your Research: If you don’t, you may end up paying way more than you have to for stuff. Meland paid over $300 for cover art she could have bought somewhere else for $60. Also, not all agents are good agents. Never pay an agent upfront.

2) Learn the Computer Voodoo: To be honest I didn’t completely understand this part. My strategy with technology is to turn it off and turn it back on. Somehow I doubt this will work for selling books. On Amazon, the trick is to set your keywords to things that people search for so they find your book. You could select words to describe your book like “thriller” or “adventure.” Apparently, Amazon has a place for you to do this.

3) Pay Attention to the Cover: The cover is your first sales pitch. Make sure it looks good small. On a kindle most covers are about an inch wide, if that.

4) Self-Incorporate: If you become successful, it can be cheaper tax wise to say you are a corporation. Declare yourself the sole proprietor, otherwise it gets messy.

It was a good workshop, but regardless, publishing your stuff is still really hard. Meland compared it to running a marathon. Sometimes, you still have to face that rejection letter: “Unfortunately…” One of the other students asked how you keep going after ten or so rejections. I thought the answer they gave was brilliant: “You just have to.”

Taking a Break

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here, and I’ve had many times where I thought to myself, “hmmm that’s interesting maybe I should blog about it” only to inadvertently get distracted and not actually post anything or the feeling of “maybe I should post something, I’ve been blog silent for so long” but I didn’t want to post any foolish nonsense. But then I realized, blogging is just supposed to be a way of expressing myself, for me to throw my thoughts and feelings out into the world and maybe when I’m out take a look back (because hey anything you put on the internet will be there forever… right?) on those formative college years.

If there’s one thing I noticed in the spring semester, it’s that everything is BUSY, like beyond busy! Throughout the semester all the events, schoolwork, planning ahead, applications and end is reaching a crescendo and piles of things to do. The wind has been picking up, but so has the heat so it’s like the even out almost. The cumulative nature of learning is definitely building up like year this semester is coming to a close and all that information is necessary to succeed but in reality we’re been storing information from kindergarten from preschool. A human’s brain is most plastic the first three years of our lives, so basically everything we know, our habits, our behaviors are all built from our experiences before we were three years old! Who needs college anyway right?

Pompeii in Seattle

The Classics department here on campus organized a trip this last weekend to go visit the Pompeii exhibit at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, and it was awesome! There were tons of cool artifacts, works of art, and even plaster casts of the bodies found at the site in Italy. Here’s some photos from the show:

Marissa Irish'16 admiring a fresco fragment

Marissa Irish’16 admiring a fresco fragment

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No más no más, los monstruos en la ciudad…

Under the names DJ Mamacit and DJ Guagua, my friend Kelsee and I, with the collaboration of our friend Victoria, co-host a show on our college radio station KUPS called “No más”, dedicated to advocating for the rights of the detainees of the Northwest Detention Center.

The NWDC is a for-profit prison owned by the GEO Group that holds 1,575 undocumented immigrants. The purpose of the detention center is to hold individuals suspected of visa violations, entry without papers, or unauthorized arrival, while they are subject to deportation and removal until a decision is made by immigration authorities to grant a visa and release them into the community, or to repatriate them to their country of departure. The NWDC is a place where detainees are paid a mere $1 a day for their labor, where they are not given the critical medical attention they need, are fed unappetizing meals, are dehumanized by the prison’s employees, and are separated from their families. It destroys lives.

The idea to start this show came from inspiration by socially-conscious, decolonizing, activist, rebel musicians like French-Chilean rapper Anita Tijoux. Ana was born in France to two Chilean exiles who had escaped the 1973 coup d’etat that led to Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship. As a woman of color from a country that continues to suffer from colonialism, and as a citizen of this country who cannot be recognized as truly “American” without being questioned as to “where I’m really from”, her music really resonates with me.

So Ana Tijoux was in LA to bring music to the detainees from outside of the Metropolitan Detention Center in a “chant down the walls” concert (link here: I thought about how awesome it would be to share her empowering words with the detainees of the NWDC through the radio, which they have access to inside. It evolved into the idea of a program where we share testimonies and poetry by the detainees and their families, as well as news reports in order to get community support for immigrant justice and action against the detention center.

On our friday show we talk about issues ranging from the deportation of the 2014 NWDC hunger strike leader, Cipriano Rios; the expected rape of 80% of women who cross the border, and the hunger strikes at the Karnes detention center for women in Texas. On wednesdays we play themed music, from new Chilean cumbia and Colombian electro tropical, to revolutionary music and Latin top 40.

As Victoria and I will be graduating soon (in 3 weeks!!!) we won’t be back to produce the show 🙁 But Kelsee plans on continuing it together with a new co-host, our friend Nora. I’m sure they will do a great, or even better job (public speaking is hard!). “No más” was a great experience. It was personally important for me to keep these issues alive on a regular basis, and I really enjoyed playing and discovering music.

Most importantly, the NWDC is an exploitative, anti-people of color institution that goes invisible in Tacoma and our lives on this perfect liberal arts campus. We at UPS are in a SPECIAL position to use our privilege to advocate for the detainees, whose stories are largely silenced, and work for their freedom by empowering their voices (I must recognize that this year, we’ve seen collective efforts from groups on campus such as the club Advocates for Detainees’ voices, a student organized panel on the racialized deportation system, and an alternative fall break program on immigration issues in Tacoma). I hope to still be involved in the community after I graduate.

No más poster

Senior Art Show 2015

This week was the opening of the senior studio art majors’ art show! As a studio art major myself, I love going to see the art my peers and friends have spent the semester creating. I took a lot of photos; everything was so interesting and inspiring!

One of the first pieces seen when entering the gallery, Preserves by Chloe Boulay

One of the first pieces seen when entering the gallery, Preserves by Chloe Boulay

The charming Andrea Eaton poses in front of her screen printed work

The charming Andrea Eaton poses in front of her screen printed work

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Spring Palaver 2015!

This past weekend was the first Palaver of Spring 2015, and it was a blast. Nick Lyon, a student my year and one of my best friends since freshman year, took charge of organizing the event and did a great job. He reserved the rotunda in the Student Union Building, got the event catered by Dining and Conference Services, and even went through the trouble of setting up a “blind date with a book” for each attendee; every attendee got a brown paper wrapped book with two or three bullet points describing the book at their table spot to take home after the palaver! IMG_7619

The book I ended up with! (It ended up being Pride & Prejudice)

The book I ended up with! (It ended up being Pride & Prejudice)

Good friends and good books!

Good friends and good books!

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Fun fact: The English department is the only department offering an internship class this semester.

Long story short, the ENGL497 students (shameless plug, I’m one of them) are doing poster presentations about their internships on Tuesday the 28th in Trimble Forum, 5:30-6:30.  Yes, there will be snacks.  The snacks were, in fact, an important conversation topic in one of our classes a couple weeks ago.

Why does this matter to you non-English majors?  Dude, a bunch of Puget Sound students got internships plus class credit for them.  Is this not a thing about which you want to find out more?

On a broader note, though, I think (in my extremely unbiased opinion) that these will be cool and interesting and relevant and applicable to your future job search and money-earning potential because there’s a really wide range of internships.  All of them relate in some way to writing, because this is an English credit about which we’re talking, but still – the variety of things into which an English degree can translate is at least a slap in the face for any non-humanities majors who like to make fun of us.  Jokes on them, though, because one of the themes of our class discussions was the ways in which good writing is a part of every job.  What “good writing” is, exactly, varies, but the point is that writing’s everywhere so you might as well get used to it.

So you really should consider it in your best interest to come to our event next Tuesday.  Because even you hard scientists are going to find yourself in need of a grant someday (let’s be real, sooner rather than later).  Or you business majors are going to want to learn about managing an organization’s social media image.  Or you math majors… well, you just keep on doing your thing.  Maybe you’ll do the budgets for the grants or something.  I don’t know; come eat our mini quiches.

What’s in the Box?

This semester, I’m taking my first ever oil painting class. As an art major, I’m required to take several classes outside my emphasis (printmaking), so I decided to try my hand at painting! It’s been a rough process, but I finally finished a painting that I’m pretty proud of. The assignment was called the “box project.” We were tasked with filling a box with a few objects and a 2D image that would create a composition we wanted to paint. I went with a beachy theme and borrowed a few things from my suitemate. Here’s what my box looked like!Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

I took a few photos through my painting process and I thought I’d share them with you guys. Here’s how this piece all went down. Continue reading

United with the Caravana 43 in Seattle

This is a piece written by my good friend Victoria Gavia (with minimal contributions on my part), about our day with the “Caravana 43”, the parents and classmates of the 43 disappeared students from Iguala, Mexico. It was an honor to stand in solidarity with these brave souls. Emotions were high, and I will also remember this as one of the most passionate marches I’ve ever attended. Feel free to share this on social media, and make it clear that we demand an end to military aid to Mexico (Germany has done it, we can too!)

¡La luuuuuuucha sigue, sigue!


United with the Caravana 43 in Seattle

By Victoria Gavia

This past weekend the Caravana 43 from Iguala, Mexico (in the state of Guerrero) made their way through Washington in an effort to raise awareness, gather support, and continue their search for justice. One of their stops along the way included a panel presentation at Seattle University, along with a rally at the Mexican Consulate downtown, and a march from there to Seattle’s Federal Building. The 43 disappeared students of the teaching College of Ayotzinapa is an injustice that must not be ignored or forgotten. If you are unfamiliar with this tragedy, I urge you to research it—because despite what you might think, it affects you. This caravana (caravan) symbolizes the struggle of their parents, the struggle for justice, and the struggle for the truth.

“No Justice, No Peace”

On September 26th, 2014 the normalistas, who are all members of the Federacion Estudiantes Campesinos Socialistas, were blocked by municipal police who had left one of their patrol cars in the middle of the road. Some of the students went outside to move the car—that’s when police started shooting at them. The details of the event leading up to their inevitable disappearance are not all here—this act is couched in corruption and lies—but the reality remains, these young people are gone and we don’t know what has happened to them.

Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos”

We were shown graphic images of several bodies left in the street from that night, videos of the frequent confrontations between students and police forces, and an image of a man so brutally murdered that we saw the skull under the skin of his face. That night, our student presenter, Angel Neri de la Cruz Ayala, saw 3 of his friends die at the hands of the police.

“Ayotzinapa vive, vive, la lucha sigue, sigue”

Unbelievably, this is only one of many such tragedies that occurs in Mexico—crimes committed by the state with impunity. But, Angel’s brother Josimar, who was standing alongside him throughout the presentation, had an important message for everyone in the room. He said that when he heard what had happened to his brother and the 43 students his blindfold was torn off. He came to realize what kind of world he would be allowing his daughter to inherit by not challenging a system which oppresses. If we let this go unpunished, and unaccounted for it will be repeated again, and again. In the U.S. we see this same devaluation and disregard for life—and it must be confronted with action. Josimar became involved with this caravan not just for his brother, but for his family, and for his daughter. “I don’t want my daughter to inherit a world where she can’t be free,” he said. It’s difficult to raise one’s voice under such circumstances, but it is up to us to sow the seeds of social consciousness.

“Stop Military Aid to Mexico”

Later that day we worked to sow some of these seeds by marching down the streets of Downtown Seattle. We heard from a mother and a father of two of the missing students. They spoke with conviction, passion, and hope—and led the march to the federal building where important government officials have their offices. The italicized phrases throughout this text are just some of the words we chanted to get our message across. “Stop Military Aid to Mexico” is one phrase that has significance not just to the students of Ayotzinapa, but for the entire country of Mexico, and other nations across the globe that the U.S. sends aid to. Specifically, Plan Mérida is the military aid program which the U.S. Department of State website describes as, “an unprecedented partnership between the United States and Mexico to fight organized crime and associated violence while furthering respect for human rights and the rule of law.” Sadly, the reality does not reflect this ideal, and in fact directly contradicts it—as we are seeing, the police and military in Mexico are corrupt in every level, and this money is being used to fuel a narco gobierno (narco-government) that is killing those who speak out against it. Nestora Salgado, who we were also marching for, is a political prisoner (and naturalized U.S. citizen) in Guerrero who was detained and held without an arrest warrant by Mexican federal soldiers in August of 2013. Why? She was a community leader in policing efforts against organized crime. She dared speak out and is paying the price with her freedom. So we march for her; we march for all those in every corner of the world who dedicate themselves to the cause of creating a better world, no matter the cost.

This was one of the most passionate and energetic marches I have ever had the privilege to attend, and as I shouted with everyone in attendance, our voices united to become a force for change. Our march was blessed by the Aztec dancers at the start, their conch trumpets sounded and resonated in every ear—a deep bellow that is our call to action. This sacred and ancient instrument has associations with the sea, the call to prayer, the underworld, the moon, fertility, and the wind god Ehécatl, who had the power to blow life into a void. Its lasting sound is resonant of ‘the primordial blast of the world produced in the underworld by Quetzalcóatl heralding the creation of humankind’ (Patrick Johansson)—on the day of our march it symbolized the sound of our collective action working to birth a new world—one in which the search for justice is not met with enmity.


UPS and Pacific Lutheran University, United for Ayotzinapa


Photo by Emily Pederson

Photo by Emily Pederson

Aztec dancers marching through downtown Seattle with the Caravana

Aztec dancers marching through downtown Seattle with the Caravana

The Blue Beyond the Hills

The blue beyond the hills teems and mist slides down the mountains.


On Todd Field, six friends sit looking at the hills. It’s evening and the sun is beginning to disappear behind the trees. The grass is damp but not too wet to sit on. It bends in the wind.

“It’s Friday. What are we going to do?,” one says. He twirls a blade of grass around his finger and rips it from the ground. He stares at it for a moment, then lets it fall.
One by one, they shrug.

“We could play a game,” one says. She’s remembering the deck of cards she bought from Target one night.

“Like Clue? Or Scrabble?” another says.

“Or Uno.”

“We haven’t played that trivia game in a while.”

“Or there’s Hangman.”

“Or Pictionary.”

“We could watch a movie,” one says, pulling her hands into the arms of her sweater.

“On campus or at an actual theatre?”

“Either one.”

“I don’t want to spend money.”

“We could just go out to dinner.”


“Korean barbecue?”

“Dim sum.”

“I don’t like dim sum.”

“You don’t like anything.”

They go on.


A panting golden retriever runs into a reading group, with a tennis ball in its mouth. It circles twice then runs back to its owner, who calls it from the pathway.

A group of students have started a baseball game. One sends the ball flying into the trees.

In the music building, a pianist plays Satie’s Gymnopédie while a thoughtful audience of one listens outside the door.

A cup drops in the S.U.B. and falls down a flight of stairs. Fellow diners applaud.

A student types at a computer, alone in the library. Her typing does not penetrate the silence.

A man sleeps at the base of a tree. An acorn falls beside him. A squirrel climbs the trunk and crawls onto a branch.

A girl and her girlfriend slip into a car, turn the headlights on, and pull onto the street. They pass a man walking his golden retriever.


Time will pass if we sit here and watch the mist creep down the mountainside, and the blue beyond the hills will slowly fade away.