The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Archive for the ‘Aliens Need to Eat, Too’ Category

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | January 28, 2011


For additional information contact Renée LaChance

Upstart e-Publisher Makes a Splash

Puddletown Publishing Group, an e-Publisher based in the Portland, Oregon metro area, announces its formation. Beginning in March 2011, Puddletown Publishing Group will release multiple titles formatted cross-platform for digital readers.

Founded by Susan Landis-Steward, Lisa Nowak, and Renée LaChance, Puddletown Publishing Group is adopting a business model that favors authors and embraces digital as the preferred method of content delivery for an author’s work.

The buzz in the traditional publishing world is that paper books and publications are going the way of 8-track and cassette tapes. Ebooks are destined to garner a large portion of publishing revenue, claiming one-third of all book sales in 2010, up from one half of one percent in 2009. announced in 2010 that sales of ebooks exceeded hardcover sales. Barnes and Noble announced in January 2011 that ebooks exceeded paperback sales on its website. Since last year’s release of the NOOKcolor and iPad, the evolution of ebooks has surprised publishing insiders and those outside the industry as well. The Jan. 3, 2011 Publisher’s Weekly cites a memo by the CEO of Simon and Schuster, Carol Reidy, where she states 2010 “is the year publishing changed irrevocably.”

“E-publishing is the wave of the future.” Landis-Steward says, “We want to get up on the board before the wave crests.”

“After pursuing traditional publishing and hearing that my writing is excellent but the subject matter doesn’t ‘fit the list’ of various agents and editors,” says Nowak. “I began looking into going directly to ebooks. The more research I did, the more I realized this is a viable option for most authors, whether they’re established or just starting out. It’s also an excellent option for traditionally published authors with a backlist of books that are no longer in print. Dead tree publishers have been gatekeepers to what readers can access. It’s time for that to change.”

Puddletown Publishing Group is modeling itself to be a part of that change. It will strive to influence the industry as an early adopter of the digital delivery system and create a market for new and established authors. Puddletown Publishing Group will partner with other small presses to get their author-branded backlists available on digital readers.

Landis-Steward, Nowak and LaChance bring decades of experience to the group.

Landis-Steward has worked in editing and writing for many years and brings two decades of strong journalism background to the group as well. She currently owns a writing, copyediting, and indexing business and is almost done with her Masters in Publishing at Portland State University. She has various other degrees, including a Masters in Spiritual Traditions and Ethics.

Nowak has 15 plus years experience as a small business owner, a strong background in reading, writing, and editing Young Adult fiction, and an established social network in children’s literature.

LaChance is an entrepreneur with business experience in editing, publishing and marketing. She is the co-founder of Just Out Newsmagazine and Out Media, Inc. Just Out is Oregon’s queer newsmagazine and Out Media was an advertising agency, event producer and publishing house based in Portland in the 1980s and 1990s. For the past 10 years she has worked doing copyediting, copy writing, publishing and creating graphics as LaChance Creative.

“We are very excited about our new venture and feel ebook publishing maximizes our combined skill set,” says LaChance. “I am impressed with the caliber of the authors we are already working with and I look forward to a Puddletown Publishing Group title on the New York Times Best eBook Sellers list.”

lachance@ | lisanowak@ | susanls@ |

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The Sand Filter Garden — Part 1

After you read this, some of you might be afraid to eat at our house. Have no fear. Our food is gonna be so organic it will eat itself.

Jenny and I spent part of the afternoon weeding our sand filter. For those of you who live in the city and are septically challenged, a sand filter is basically a big mound of gravel and varying degrees of sand, several feet deep, whose sole function is to process effluent in areas where the septic field can’t be too large. Or in our case, the whole thing is too near a body of water.  The effluent leaves the house, enters the septic tank, is pumped into the sand filter and then is processed before entering the septic field and ultimately the creek. This is high technology in the shit business, and it uses no chemicals. One hundred percent natural.

One of the amazing things about this big sandbox is this: you can plant on top of it. No root vegetables, because there are some pipes that you don’t want to mess with, but anything else is fine. Most folks opt for grass. We chose vegetables.  The sand filter is about three feet high with a concrete wall to sit on. Today we planted tomatoes, peppers, cabbages, strawberries, and chard. We only planted about two feet into the circle as we are not giants, have short arms,  and we do have to weed the dang thing. And we didn’t weed the whole perimeter or the center yet as the blackberries surround half of it right now. Anybody got a goat we can borrow?

After weeding (and there is NO SMELL) the delightfully loamy soil, we worked in some compost (cow, chicken, etc) and now, of course, it DOES SMELL.  I planted the cabbage in a place with no manure as part of the grand experiment. After a year of wind, rain, sun, leaves, organic debris, etc. the top layer of very fine sand is now pretty nice soil all by itself. The weeds are doing just fine, better than in our regular dirt which is quite full of clay. I can always fertilize if the cabbages look sad.

It’s getting ready to rain so we’re not going to water things in. Tomorrow there is more planting to do; if we need to water more tomorrow, the hose will still be there. Stay tuned. Photos and more information to follow.

Good Dog Gwyneth enjoyed being outside with her peeps for such a long time and also enjoyed sitting on onions, whacking the chard planted earlier with her tail, and otherwise amusing herself in the dirt.

Shrove Tuesday

Or Carnival. Either way, it’s the day before Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent in the Christian liturgical year. This is the traditional day to confess one’s sins before Lent, hence the Shrove, derived from Shriven as in being shriven of one’s sins. Carnival, or carne vale, on the other hand, is a festival of the upside down. It means ‘farewell to meat” and was a traditional day to use up all the meat, butter, flour, eggs, etc. that had been stored for the winter. Stuff would go rancid otherwise. Funny how lots of religious traditions are also practical but that’s another discussion. So lots of meat, pancakes dripping with butter, and whatever else you could think of to use up all the stores. Nowadays, it’s traditional to have pancakes and sausages for dinner, which is what we are going to have. Even if I did have to go to the grocery store to get the ingredients.

Carnival was also the day a peasant was elevated to Lord of Misrule and everyone had to do whatever he said. Now, of course, it’s a drunken bacchanalia of exposed breasts, tossed beads, painted coconuts from the Zulu Crew in New Orleans, fights, and arrests. If everyone was going to enter Lent tomorrow, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Carnival was meant to be a time to blow off steam, gorge oneself, and generally get it out of your system before the austerity of Lent. But most people will not enter Lent and will not take on a discipline of any sort. This, to me, is sad.

This country is in the state it is in because we are not disciplined people who understand the need to make sacrifices before there is no other choice. We don’t send our own sons to war (well, I did…my son-in-law has done three tours in Iraq), we don’t save our money, we don’t even drive cars that don’t pollute although they are readily available.  We extend ourselves financially without considering the possibility that things may not always be so rosy. Hell, we even elected Bush twice although anyone who did their homework knew the man was a liar and a fool. Then reality hits and suddenly we are forced into doing what we would not have done voluntarily.

Lent is a time to reflect, pray, and give up (or in some cases take on) a discipline until the great feast of Easter. Anyone who has ever saved pennies for a special purchase knows the sweet feeling of finally being able to have one’s desire. And we do this voluntarily, not because we have to but because we hope it will benefit our soul. Lent is a season of sacrifice so that the celebration can be all the more joyous.

More tomorrow, when it all starts for real. Right now, go get those pancakes and have fun. For tomorrow we fast.


Today, for the first time in about a zillion years, I actually made something other than tacos. And I did it all day. First thing in the morning, the Divine Miss M asked for pancakes. Last night she fell asleep in the recliner watching TV with me and she looked so young…like maybe three…so this morning I made her pancakes. I am terrible at pancakes. Something in them fights me every step of the way. But, for the DMM, I made them.

Immediately after the pancakes, I made Almond Crescent dough and Pecan Tassie dough. These are two cookies my mother used to make and I have to make them too. Funny how those traditions work. She’s been dead for eight years but the cookies go on.

Then the DMM (aka Meg….who was Meg until she was five and decided she wanted to be Maggie and now has decided that Meg is a better name for a college student) cleaned the kitchen again (i’d already cleaned it once) and we made Almond Roca. Just because we could.  She also made the dough for Cream Wafers, my traditional Christmas cookie. (Caitlin, the mid kid, called yesterday to get the recipe…..another old family tradition….losing recipes.)

I tried to work while Meg made Almond Crescents and then I started to make grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (at Meg’s request) until I got distracted by the weather channel and the possibility that Meg was going to drive my car 30 miles in the snow. Meg finished making lunch. I finished worrying (after having Jenny debrief me about why I am so worried about Meg when Caitlin drove in the snow all the time…of course, Caitlin went to college 240 miles away so I didn’t know.

I made Meg leave before dark, and I made her call me when she got there, and then I made mole. Which is Reeses Peanut Butter cups with jalapeno peppers and turkey. I am actually wearing the mole because it never comes out of the jar cleanly. I don’t know what that is about but it is true.

Anyway, I’m all cooked out and Letterman is on.

Tomorrow I may wax philosophical.

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