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Get Your Hands on Your Future
Ricky Hoverman and Jessica Morrison are majoring in engineering technology and psychology, respectively, at University of Wisconsin-Stout. During the 2011-12 academic year, they could have passed for a couple of English majors.
As part of an independent study project for the University Honors Program, they published an anthology of mostly new literature and are donating all royalties to the American Cancer Society for research.
Hoverman and Morrison, who love to read but had never tried publishing, apparently have skills in the humanities as well as the sciences. They reached their goal of having a finished book in their hands by the end of the semester and even outdid themselves by landing some big-name contributors from around the country and world.
“Live Life: The Daydreamer’s Journal,” includes 150 short stories and poems by writers from 22 countries.
About one-third of the writers in the 554-page book are previously published authors. Rita Dove, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1987 and was U.S. poet laureate from 1993-95, contributed “Lady Freedom Among Us,” a poem first read in 1994 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Capitol.
Other selections are from acclaimed comic book writer Marv Wolfman, who created “Blade” for Marvel Comics; science fiction novelist David Brin; Pulitzer poetry finalist Andrew Hudgins; novelist Gwyneth Jones from England; and former Wisconsin poet laureate Marilyn L. Taylor.
“Seeing it in print was kind of unbelievable. It was a lot bigger deal than we thought it would be,” said Hoverman, from Osceola.
How did they orchestrate publishing an international anthology in less than nine months while enrolled as full-time students? Originally, Hoverman and Morrison envisioned an all-student anthology. When early submissions lagged, they opened it to anyone and began spreading the word via writing websites and through social media.
“Without the Internet it would not have been possible,” Hoverman said.
When Dove and Wolfman agreed early on to contribute, word began to spread. More than 1,000 submissions arrived in the fall and winter.
Then came the tough part: Putting it all together. Hoverman, Morrison and three authors — from England, Canada and Australia — read all the submissions and picked their favorites.
“Some of the stories deal with cancer. We wanted a variety of different styles and genres,” said Hoverman, who lost two grandparents to cancer.
Hoverman and Morrison previously have been American Cancer Society Relay for Life volunteers. They won’t be in town Friday for the Relay for Life of Dunn County at 6 p.m. at UW-Stout’s Nelson Field track.
Eleven UW-Stout students, including Hoverman and Morrison, were chosen from among 24 who submitted. The others are Chad Biggers, of Menomonie ; Audrey Freischel, of Cottage Grove, Minn.; Mariah Grabenbauer, of Mora, Minn.; Rachel King, of Menomonie; Melissa Kromrey, of Star Prairie; Tami Riha, of Brillion; Jacob Scott, of Waupun; Mandi Shurtleff, of New Richmond; and Ted Wayne, of Durand.
“It was fun and exciting to read all the submissions but definitely time-consuming to format and proofread,” said Morrison, of Tomahawk.
Hoverman and Morrison handled the editing. Writers who were chosen had to sign a contract by mail and were promised one copy of the book.
The collage-style cover also was a collaborative effort. It features 36 pieces of original artwork out of 50 that were submitted.
The University Honors Program, Optimists Club and Psychology Club from UW-Stout and anonymous donors helped sponsor the book. It was printed at cost by NinjaKnight Productions and Publishing and with financial support from Guardians of the Muse, an online volunteer organization that supports independent artists, Hoverman said.
Hoverman and Morrison were guided by their mentor in the University Honors Program, Bob Horan, a professor in the English and philosophy department.
Honors Program Director Lopa Basu said the project is a “fine example of what honors programs can foster. Ricky has stepped beyond his major to develop other valuable talents. Both students have pursued this as an altruistic project, demonstrating a strong commitment to helping a cause.”
They presented the project this spring at the Upper Midwest Honors Conference in Dubuque, Iowa; at the UW System Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity at UW-Parkside; and at UW-Stout Research Day.
“To know so many different people, including several Stout students, contributed to the cause and will be raising money for a worthy organization was definitely the most rewarding,” Morrison said.
“Live Life: The Daydreamer’s Journal” sells for $12.50 or for $2.99 as an electronic book, with $2 from each sale going to the American Cancer Society. It is available at Amazon.com. For more information, go to the website here.