NOW, I KNOW YOU ARE BOTH WRITERS AND CO-OWNERS OF A PRESS. TELL MY READERS MORE ABOUT YOURSELVES.
Ann: Ruth and I met at a Writers Coffeehouse meeting. We looked at each other and knew we had to become partners. It was like looking in a mirror. If the mirror showed two redheads who are a foot different in height. Now for the real story: We were both between editing jobs in 2011 and looking for an editing opportunity. I stood up at a meeting and mentioned that I was looking for editing jobs. Ruth stood up and said she was, too. Then we met afterward, and voila! A star was born. Actually, the entire constellation of Gemini!
Ruth: Ann was across the table in B&N, staring into her latte. I instantly knew she was just the person to help me form an editing company. And I didn’t even realize that Ann was standing up.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE A WRITER? WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST STORY OR CREATIVE WRITING WORK ABOUT?
Ann: I’ve been writing since I can remember. I think my first story was about a woman who manages a swimming pool. I am a writer because I have to be; I have no choice. It’s a compulsion.
Ruth: I have enjoyed writing ever since I wrote my first “real” piece in fifth grade. It’s a story about a doe in the woods. It’s almost poetic. I actually still have it. The handwriting is beautiful. I don’t want to boast or anything, but I was “Miss Penmanship” that year.
I’VE NEVER ASKED THIS QUESTION. WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE AN EDITOR?
Ann: I’ve always loved language. I can remember correcting friends and family when I was a teenager. Here’s a funny story. When my older daughter graduated from junior high, the ceremony ended with a slide show. The last slide said “Congradulations!” My daughter was mortified when I, outraged, strode up to the gentleman running the projector and informed him “Congratulations” was misspelled. About a dozen years ago, I frequented LinkedIn. A man posted that he was forming a new ezine, Schrodinger’s Mouse. I asked if he needed an editor. It was an unpaid position, and I loved it. I really honed my skills and learned that I wanted to be an editor when I grew up. I’m still not grown up, but I am an editor.
Ruth: When I went to a restaurant when I was about 21 years old (during the Jurassic Period) and without searching for anything, found four typos. I told the manager but didn’t even get any free pie.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR PUBLISHING HOUSE, CELESTIAL ECHO PRESS. WHERE DOES THE NAME COME FROM?
Ann: Ruth and I have been partners in Gemini Wordsmiths since June 1, 2011. We’re both born under the astrological sign of Gemini, and our business is also. Actually, so is Celestial Echo Press, but I digress. We work wherever we can. We were in a local Barnes and Noble café, brainstorming for names for our new publishing imprint. We wanted to keep with the astrological/star theme, so we decided the first word would be Celestial. We asked a bunch of millennials in the café what they thought of our potential names, and Echo won. We love the new imprint name; it fits the theme of Gemini and twins.
Ruth: Our micro-press name is borne of hours and hours of research looking into what words slip off the tongue best.
ON YOUR SITE, IT SAYS YOU EXPAND ON THE GEMINI CONCEPT AND THE GOAL IS TO STAY DYNAMIC. HOW DOES THE GEMINI CONCEPT PLAY INTO HOW YOU RUN THE PRESS? HOW ARE THE PROJECTS DYNAMIC? I LOVE THAT WORD, BY THE WAY.
Ann: The word dynamic means a force that is ever-changing, not standing still. We expanded our editing business several years ago to include an ebook formatting department. Last year we expanded into publishing. Who knows what the future holds for us? We incorporated the twin theme into our press via the name and also our first anthology, based on the theme of twins. We’re kicking around ideas for the next one, and it’s a good possibility either Gemini, or twins, or the number two will feature prominently in our theme.
Ruth: Our book is titled The Twofer Compendium. It features 36 stories about twins, all fiction. We stay dynamic by constantly considering new ideas and incorporating them into our list of services. We hope to rule the world by 2026.
I THINK MOST WRITERS ARE CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT GOES THROUGH AN EDITOR’S HEAD. HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE WRITERS YOU WORK WITH? WHEN YOU RECEIVE A STORY, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
Ruth: We try to measure up the story with some solid and some vague guidelines. The most obvious is that the story fits the theme; if not, we cannot accept it. Our hope is that the story gets us to step out of our comfort zone, by approaching the theme in a way that we hadn’t considered. We also look for good writing—meaning a story that has a strong start, a middle, and a great ending, all within the word limit of a short story. Finally, we hope that a story shifts our outlook. Makes us laugh. Makes us well up. Makes us remember something different or strange about it … or the author.
Ann: Ditto what she said.
TELL US ABOUT THE TYPES OF WORK YOUR PRESS HAS PUBLISHED?
Ann: The Twofer Compendium is our first publication. We plan in 2020 to publish novels and another anthology.
Ruth: Dat’s it so far. But since we’re dynamic, we’ll be working it in 2020.
CLEARLY, YOU BOTH HAVE AMAZING SKILLS. IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO BETTER, AS WRITERS AND/OR PRESS OWNERS?
Ann: Find more time in the day.
Ruth: Ditto, of course.
PLEASE, TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING WRITING PROJECTS AND CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS.
Ann: We have no open calls right now. Individually, we have writing projects upcoming, but not as a partnership.
Ruth: Ditto ditto. Of course.
ONE LAST FANTASY QUESTION: DO YOU THINK WRITING CAN TRANSFORM THE WORLD? IF SO HOW?
Ann: Writing has already transformed the world. I love sci-fi and fantasy. So many inventions we currently use had their roots in a sci-fi author’s imagination.
Ruth: That question is so broad that it’s almost impossible to answer. Writing can be the answer to many quandaries through escape, through enlightenment, through joy. Writing can enhance a good situation for a reader. Writing can teach—tolerance, history, science, (ew, not math), geography and a thousand other topics—in fun ways and through the imagination. But mostly, writing can bring people together. Not by insisting that others see the writer’s point of view necessarily; rather, by showing the reader that different people see the world, or the universe, from different viewpoints and all of them can be right.
WHERE CAN READERS FIND YOU ONLINE AND/OR ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Ann: We have a Gemini Wordsmiths Facebook page, and run the Celestial Echo Press Facebook group. I love this group. Our website is www.geminiwordsmiths.com. Celestial Echo Press information can be found at www.geminiwordsmiths.com/publishing. We send out a newsletter once every other month, which you can sign up for on our website. We also are on LinkedIn, but not very active there. I am the owner of a board and card game business, Gontza Games, and have a website for that, too. (www.gontzagames.com)
Ruth: What she said. And then you can find me blathering at ruthlittner.com, and @ruthlittner on Twitter. One day I hope my VCR will stop blinking 12:00. (Is your millennial asking, “What’s a VCR, Mommy?”)
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING TIME OUT OF YOUR BUSY SCHEDULES. I KNOW BEING A WRITER IS BUSY ENOUGH. I HOPE TO HAVE YOU BOTH AS INTERVIEWEES AGAIN SOON.
Ann: Thank you so much for having us!
Ruth: Thank you so much for having us!