At the End of the World: On Self-Publishing a Book and Whitworth’s Role

By: Sarah Michelle Cruz

Whitworth’s English Department offers an amazing class taught by Thom Caraway, where your final project is to literally publish a book. When I took it, the class was called, “Literary Editing and Design,” so we learned how to use In-Design in order to create every aspect of what our finished product would look like, from front to back: The book cover, to the binding, type of material, font, and the list goes on. At the same time, we learned some material editing aspects to prepare us for the publication of our own book.

It was a lot to compact into one course, but definitely rewarding. If you want to know what the self-publishing journey feels like, it’s a little bit like a process full of sweat, tears, frustration, excitement, trial and error. Editing in itself takes a large amount of time with a huge amount of attention to detail. Depending on how long ago you wrote your text, you might end up over-critical toward your writing. I remember that one of my classmates said it would be “a pain in the ass” if she found typos in her published copy. I laughed and didn’t think much of it until I found a typo on the first page of my finished product. In addition, learning to use the In-Design program is difficult in itself, and if you didn’t constantly press save, you have the potential to lose hours of work progress. Sometimes there are issues of missing details on the program, and the mistake is pretty visible in the printed produce. It all takes patience and a willingness to persevere even when your book doesn’t “look” like how you imagined it. But on that note, there’s potential for the book to look even better than you imagine it.

Watching my book come to life was incredibly fun. It is called, “At the End of the World,” and it is a compilation of short stories in the perspective of characters living in a time where the Earth’s trajectory toward spiraling into the sun is inevitable, and the world’s destruction is undeniable. It’s separated into five sections: North, South, East, West, and Andalusia Sky (the “fabled” city in the sky that is believed to survive after the Earth’s destruction), and each sections consisted of four short stories. I had a distinct image of what I wanted the book cover to be, but didn’t have the art skills to make it a reality. So I sketched an image of a man holding a suitcase, looking over the edge of a cliff with a giant orange sun behind him, then I sent it to my friend to paint it. Her adaption of my image is now the cover of my book! As I played around with drawing tools in In-Design, I found that I could create some interesting abstract images. Playing around with that turned into symbolic chapter section images, and the final few pages of my book consists of a series of abstract images that actually look like an explosion that dies down to nothing. That was just a fun result of playing around, which can happen to anyone during the publication process!

If you’re a writer and thinking of ways to publish your book, going the self-publishing route leaves you with many options to create it any way you want, and then distribute it any way you want. I’m currently in the process of figuring out how to publish my book traditionally, and that takes paying large amounts for an editor, finding agents, and waiting for a reliable publication company to publish the product. If anything, there’s even Amazon publishing. I would just encourage any writer to move past the fear of having your work “out there,” whether in a blog or published and sold in stores. You have something wonderful to offer, and the publication process will grow you as an individual, and help you to become a stronger artist.   

Sarah Michelle Cruz is a Whitworth Alum (’16) who majored in English Writing and Psychology. She is currently living in California’s Bay Area, focusing on writing her second novel and readying her first book for publication. She is also a singer/songwriter working on producing her music just for the sake of sharing it.

Reflections on a semester with the LA Film Studies Center

We all know that internships and programs are great because they provide us with real life experience and allow us to make connections, but what makes them truly wonderful is when they help us to realize that we’ve got the skills and the passion to pursue what we love.

In the fall of 2016, film studies student and inspiring actress Sarah Cardel spent her semester at the LA Film Studies Center, and it was an experience she’ll never forget.

Interview with Sarah Cardel
By: Sarah Michelle Cruz

In the desert filming La Promesa

In the desert filming La Promesa

What is the program you were involved in and what made it unique?

I was involved in LAFC – LA Film Studies Center- It’s a semester film program that immerses you in the industry both as an intern while also teaching you how to work professionally on a set. It offers opportunities for anyone in the industry- weather editing, acting, or whatever specialty you want to get into on a more focused level. It allows you to work with others and form a team

For example, in one class me and a team of students worked together to complete a short film from start to finish using industry protocol (We had to provide meals for actors, pull permits for location use, etc). The classroom setting allows you to experience what the industry looks like on a smaller scale.

Behind the scenes of La Promesa (where I was DP) – not in this one

Editing my final scene for my acting class

Editing my final scene for my acting class

 What opportunities did you receive through this program that you might not have gotten elsewhere?

I was able to develop a community with the semester class I had, alongside alumni of the program. They provided me with the tools to network with others outside of the program and make connections with people in the industry.

 I got hands on with professional equipment to complete the films that we did. For example I got to be director of photography (the cinematographer) for our main short film and we used Red Dragon, which is a professional camera that’s used on television and movie sets.

Bloopers from Some Scenes With Red (another short I was in)

Bloopers from Some Scenes With Red (another short I was in)

 In what ways have you grown during your time in LA, and what have you learned that you wouldn’t have learned at Whitworth?

 Through my internship, I was able to see the business side of talent in the industry and was able to learn through the experiences of others’ lessons about how it all works, as well as the culture in Hollywood.

 By doing this, I gained a lot more confidence in myself as an artist and aspiring actress. Being in a community of filmmakers gave me an opportunity to do work with like-minded people who also want to pursue their goals.

 While Whitworth focuses on film theory and discussions about film, LAFC provides a creative outlet for transforming theory into reality. It’s more application-based, rather than theory-based.

The La Promesa cast and crew at the premier

The La Promesa cast and crew at the premier

 What are some of your highlights during your semester?

 Night-long/All-nighter film shoots, the relationships I made with the other students in the program, and the many guest speakers, such as different directors and actors in the industry. Doug Jones is one that stands out to me! He is a Christian actor in the industry who is also known for his role as the fawn in Pan’s Labyrinth. He has the most welcoming personality wherever he goes.

Doug Jones!

Doug Jones!

 In what ways have you seen yourself change?

Change is definitely a process, but I know I am more confident in my skills and in owning my goals and aspirations…seeing that it’s part of my purpose and not just a far-fetched dream.

Cardel is currently working as an assistant for a management company in West Hollywood and is taking some time to explore her creativity and expand herself as an artist.

Sarah Michelle Cruz is a Whitworth Alum (’16) who majored in English Writing and Psychology. She is currently living in California’s Bay Area, focusing on writing her second novel and readying her first book for publication. She is also a singer/songwriter working on producing her music just for the sake of sharing it.