Prompts from the Interwebs

Happy March, everyone! It’s finally starting to feel like spring in Indiana. As you thaw out from the winter chill, check out these writing prompts from the depths of the internet, culled just for you.

This artist makes 3-D portraits from DNA found on gum, cigarette butts, and fingernails.

If you need a reason to make you write regularly, check out this program: Pen Pals for Seniors.

Giving Back: Boys & Girls Club

Being a single parent isn’t easy, especially when also running your own business around the holidays. Enter: the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington. This organization provides camps and programs after school, during holiday breaks, and over the summer, meaning Lesley and other parents in our community have a safe, fun option for their children. As their website states,

The Club supports single parents who need an affordable, structured, safe and measurable program that allows them to maintain employment, work longer hours, or further their education.

Our local branch serves 450 kids per day, and 2,600 youth are served through some form of programming throughout the year. That means 15 percent of all kids in our county benefit from this organization!

In addition, there are some amazing stats on their site:

Stats from the Boys & Girls Club

When we started Inkblot, one goal was to give back to our amazing community. Each quarter, we donate to a local organization, and this past quarter, we have chosen to thank the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington. They do such important work in our community, and we’re honored to be able to donate to their cause.

If you find yourself in the position to give, consider the Boys & Girls Club or the many other worthy organizations in your community.

Giving Back: GlobalGiving for Puerto Rico

The devastation across our country from natural disasters has been unimaginable. Right now, we at Inkblot are particularly concerned for our 3.4 million US brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, where the destruction is nearly absolute. They are without food, potable water, power, or the ability to communicate with the rest of the world.

Fortunately there are organizations on the ground in Puerto Rico ready to help. One of those is GlobalGiving, which connects donors with local nonprofits to provide relief. They have a nearly perfect score on Charity Navigator and a vetted fund for Puerto Rico and Caribbean Hurricane Relief, meaning all donations to this fund exclusively support relief and recovery efforts.

by NOAASatellites via Flickr

When we started Inkblot, one goal was to give back to our amazing community. Each quarter, we usually donate to a local organization, but this quarter, we haven’t been able to get the devastation in Puerto Rico out of our heads. Thus, we are donating to GlobalGiving. They do such important work, and we’re honored to be able to help their cause.

If you find yourself in the position to give, consider GlobalGiving or the many other worthy organizations helping with disaster relief across the United States.

Quick Guide to Printing Methods

To the author and editor, final files for books generally get handed off to a magician in the production department, and then the finished, printed books appear a few weeks later. But what happens in between? We’ve covered how books are bound, but what fairy dust is sprinkled to put words on pages?

There are three methods for printing that publishers can use: letterpress, offset, and digital.

via Wikimedia Commons


Letterpress is the OG of printing methods. You can read more about literal typesetting here. A letterpress uses metal or plastic plates of type or images; the user rolls sheets of paper over the inked plates to transfer the image to the paper. It’s like super fancy stamping.

These days, letterpress is used for art, very limited edition books, and places where no power is needed. (See this post from Oh So Beautiful Paper for an inside look at artistic letterpress printing.)


After letterpress came offset. Offset printing began with “the accidental discovery that an image transferred to paper by a rubber covered cylinder was actually sharper than the image from the original type. This offset image gave rise to the name offset printing” (Self-Publisher’s 5-Minute Guide to Book Printing Processes). So, differing from letterpress, in which paper touches inked plates, offset printing has a rubber roller in between, so the ink goes from the plates, to the roller, and then to the paper. This gives the plates a longer life.

Offset printing allows way more pages to be printed at once, especially when using signatures (as mentioned in our bookbinding post). Offset can also do full-color books and has cutting and binding machines at the end of the printing process, like an assembly line that spits out whole books.


Digital printing is technology’s answer to offset. While with offset you have to print the number of books you think you’ll sell up front, with digital, you can print only the number of copies you’ve already sold. They are made-to-order and come out glued, trimmed, and with a color cover. Digital printers are essentially like super-fancy home printers. Also, you don’t have to work within the constraints of signatures, so you can have exactly the number of pages you need without blanks in the back.

Unfortunately, digital printing has yet to overtake offset when it comes to clean color images that are affordable. Thus, publishers today often use digital printing unless they have a book that needs color throughout or has an odd trim size.

Printing is constantly evolving, and it will be interesting to see how the industry changes in the next decade. If you have any questions about printing books, find us on Twitter or Facebook!

Sources: BookBusinessTechTargetSelf-Publisher’s 5-Minute Guide to Book Printing Processes, Oh So Beautiful Paper

Giving Back: Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard

Around 3 pm, I usually eat a snack because when I get hungry, I get cranky. Imagine how hard concentrating would be if I hadn’t had a square meal in a while and no chance for one in the foreseeable future? That’s where Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, a food pantry here in Bloomington, steps in for people of all ages. They “envision a community where everyone has equal access to nutritious food, waste is minimized, and all members are healthy, self-sufficient, and empowered to reach their full potential.”

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard believes that access to healthy food is a basic human right. In addition to housing a food pantry, they also offer two community gardens, nutrition education programs, and recipes. They constantly work to address the root causes of hunger and poverty in our community, including lunches where people can learn about building food self-reliance, registering to vote, and doubling SNAP benefits at our local farmer’s market. You can even rent gardening tools from them!

When we started Inkblot, one goal was to give back to our amazing community. Each quarter, we donate to a local organization, and this past quarter, we have chosen to thank Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. They do such important work in our community, and we’re honored to be able to donate to their cause.

If you find yourself in the position to give, consider Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard or the many other worthy organizations in your community.

Children’s Literature: From Instruction to Entertainment

Last Monday, I was fortunate enough to see part of the children’s literature collection at the Lilly Library here in Bloomington. The Lilly has an amazing collection of rare books, and it’s always fun to see the treasures they bring out for various events. This particular session was all about the evolution of literature for children who were seen as tiny adults needing life instruction to children who wanted to be entertained.

The earliest examples laid out for us were horn books with the alphabet on one side and key words like doghousehorse on the other. One mother even made instructional flash cards about the dangers of life.

As we got into the later examples of the literature—moving from straight instruction to entertainment—we were shown books like this Newberry edition of Mother Goose and this tiny boxed library set of stories.

My favorites, however, were seeing items like Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit.

And the absolute best was seeing the original manuscript for Peter Pan. What a treat!

If you ever find yourself in Bloomington, Indiana, definitely stop by the Lilly! Not only will they be able to show you amazing gems from their collection, but you’ll learn a lot too.

The Publishing Process

So how are books made?

Well, when a girl book and a boy book . . . No, wait. That’s not how it goes.

Anyone unfamiliar with the inner workings of the publishing industry might be confused about how a raw manuscript gets put in one end of the machine and a fancy book (often in hardback, paperback, and ebook formats) comes out the other end. Honestly, sometimes it’s confusing even if you do know the inner workings of the industry.

Today, we’ll try to clarify that process a bit, with the caveat that each publisher approaches bookmaking in a slightly different way.



The acquisitions team both fields unsolicited submissions and requests submissions from chosen writers. As we’ve mentioned before, each publisher has specialty areas within which they publish. If a publisher has a strong paleontology list, an acquisitions editor at that firm would be contacting lead paleontologists for book ideas.

This team takes the raw manuscript and works with the author to lay the foundation. They make sure the book is ready for copyediting (which means any developmental editing is taken care of), all art is in house and of good quality, and all permissions are secured. At major publishers, the cover is often completed during this stage as well, so that marketing can get a head start on selling the forthcoming book. Continue reading “The Publishing Process”

Resistance Reading

Forgive us for posting infrequently the past few weeks. It has been hard to know what to say. As a small, women-owned business, we are fortunate to be in an encouraging community, but living in a bubble has made complacency easy. The past month has reminded us that we are not at the beginning of a resistance but in the middle of one. We are fighting in the footsteps of amazing women like Lucretia Mott, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Malala Yousafzai, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Audre Lord, and so many others.

So, for those of you who—like us—are doing your best to keep your head above water, know that you are not alone. Here’s some selected reading to empower us all.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump’s America

We Should All Be Feminists

Between the World and Me

The Fire Next Time

Also, don’t forget to send us your love in essay form for our Modern Love challenge. You’ve got just 10 more days!