William B. Jones Embarks on Petit Jean Book Tour

William B. Jones, author of Petit Jean: A Wilderness Adventure, will be a moving target this fall as we launch his book tour during State Park Legacy Week. Want to share your favorite memories of Petit Jean Mountain? Here's where you'll find him:

Watch for updates on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Plum Street's response to removal of Black Lives Matter T-shirts

Yesterday, the Arkansas Times reported that Arkansas Department of Heritage officials had ordered the removal of "Black Lives Matter" T-shirts from the gift shop of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Arkansas's official museum of African-American History. Initially, the museum's interim director said that the reason she was given by department officials was that the museum "must represent all Arkansans." Today, the department cited a stocking policy limiting apparel only to items with official museum or exhibit logos.

Nonetheless, this practice is inconsistent with less restrictive stocking policies in other state-managed shops in Arkansas state parks.

Today, Liz Russell, president of Plum Street Publishers, sent this letter to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson:

Dear Governor Hutchinson --

I am writing to register my distress and disappointment over the removal of the Black Lives Matter apparel from the Mosaic Templars Museum gift shop. This decision is egregiously tone-deaf at a time when many institutions and industries -- including the book publishing industry, which I represent -- are facilitating difficult but long-overdue discussions of diversity and marginalization of minority groups.

As to the fear that white visitors would be offended, I would direct your DAH leadership to read Ta-Nesihi Coates' gripping book, Between the World and Me, winner of this year's National Book Award, which illuminates the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the societal cost of minimizing or dismissing the long chain of events that has culminated in widespread expression of frustration by many of our fellow citizens.

Rather than operating out of fear of offending visitors (who can register their opinion by simply not buying a T-shirt), I would hope that the leadership of our state's heritage department would embrace the opportunity to educate them.

On a personal note, this is just the sort of news that makes it exceedingly difficult for me to recruit a rich, diverse array of writing talent to my line of books. The minute I disclose that my publishing house is based in Arkansas, I am fighting an uphill battle of distrust.

Liz Russell, President / Plum Street Publishers  Inc.



A Look at the Writing Process: Stars of the Rock 'n' Roll Highway

Language arts students aren’t the only wordsmiths who struggle with the writing process. Professional writers follow the same steps, as seen in this journal of the development of Plum Street’s newest release, Stars of the Rock 'n' Roll Highway. Next time you’re battling writer’s block, just follow these steps.

Prewrite. When writer Vicki Pasmore, called us to pitch the idea for this book, we followed the FATP format as we brainstormed.

But we weren't finished yet! Before Vicki could advance to the writing step, she needed to finalize her list of entertainers. Making these decision on the front end saved her a lot of time in the research and writing phase. This list was her first attempt. We had a ways to go before we got this list down to 20!

Write. Vicki followed our directions for "sloppy copy." With first drafts, it's important to commit your initial thoughts to paper without being hampered by perfectionism.

Revise. We gave Vicki suggestions for expanding and tightening her first draft and were very happy when she submitted this revision.

Edit. But there was still work to be done! The editing process is when the perfectionist takes hold. Note that we adhere to The Chicago Manual of Style. And every step of the way we were measuring reading levels to be sure the text read at or near the desired grade level.

Publish. We followed that same process for each of the 20 entries, as well as the introduction and bibliography. And for each entry, our staff obtained a photo dating from the rockabilly era. Since many of the entertainers were deceased, we tracked down agents, family members, and managers. (It's important to clear permission to use a photo in a published book.) Sometimes we got to speak with the entertainers themselves!

To  learn more about the early entertainers along U.S. Highway 67, you can get a copy of the finished book, just released by Plum Street Publishers this month.