Meet Brain Mill Press's launch title, THE DARK SPACE!
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Issue # 2 / February 2015

Dear readers,

We’ve been quiet since we announced the creation of Brain Mill Press last summer, because we’ve been learning. What we’ve learned is that launching a project with such a large scope, invested in seeing a vision through — not simply in “trying something” or “starting small” – requires the application of time and patience on the front end.

It takes time to get things right.

We have given a year to the production of our launch title, The Dark Space, because a year is what we needed to realize our ideals for the book and to find talented people to work with. (See the Staff page of our website for pictures and bios!) Perhaps more important, we required time to locate the space and quiet to hear our own voices – to understand who we are and what we want to do as women and publishers free from the influence of external opinion.

A novel is written in isolation, the voice of one writer in the world, but upon publication it becomes hundreds or thousands of novels as it interacts with readers’ imaginations. Similarly, Brain Mill Press has been, for the past few seasons, just our vision – Mary Ann and Ruth’s. But with this newsletter we enter the next phase, meeting your voice and joining our vision to a community that you have been part of all along.

You joined this newsletter, and many of you became the press’s earliest subscribers. You supported and believed in us. We took your investment and built something big and meaningful – and now we’re giving it back to you.

In the coming year, Brain Mill Press becomes not one press but a dozen, a hundred, a thousand.

We look forward to seeing what you make with us.

All best,

Mary Ann & Ruthie

Introducing The Dark Space

College senior Winnie Frederickson has accomplished nothing in four years but summa cum laude and the power of invisibility.

A professor’s kid, carelessly popular Cal Darling feels like he’s been going to college forever. If there’s anything left to learn, he’s not going to find it in the classroom.

The theater department’s “make-out class” is famously hard to get into, and what goes on between the twelve people who take it every spring is an annual topic of speculation. Winnie needs one more arts class to appear well-rounded for fellowships. Cal is just … bored.

The dark space – a class, a place, a state of mind – is ready for them both.

The artifact

The Dark Space is offered in an 6 x 6” square format printed on 80# paper with original cover and interior illustrations.

The book features a beautiful original cover with photography by Jishnu Guha. Jishnu shot the cover in Beloit, Wisconsin, with contact improvisational dancers and actors Santiago Quintana and Melina Montesino under the direction of Brain Mill Press staffer Marian Whitaker.

The team worked together to capture an image of a couple engaged in the kind of improvisational movement featured in The Dark Space, and to evoke the story’s core themes of vulnerability, intimacy, and transformation.

Book Beautiful designed the ebook cover and print spread.

About Jishnu Guha

Jishnu Guha is a photographer, filmmaker, and visual effects animator who works in the field of digital storytelling through any combination of his three preferred mediums. Since 2008, he has worked as videographer/photographer for Beloit College and at Beloit Access Television Studios. He has written, directed, and produced three independent short films screened at festivals across the United States. He currently works as an independent artist in Bombay, India, where he collaborates with clients and fellow filmmakers and animators, both locally and in the United States.

The interior

The Dark Space interior layout features epigraphs from some of the most prominent voices in theater transformed into original text art by Book Beautiful. Sandra Williams of Williams Writing, Editing, and Design used this art and the cover to inspire a unique and attractive interior that reflects the novella’s spare, youthful narrative mood.

An Excerpt from The Dark Space

(c) 2015. All rights reserved.

The Book

Find in yourself those human things that are universal.
--Sanford Meisner


It is impossible that you will believe everything in this story, even though all of it is true.

Even though all of it means that right now, I am smiling up at her while she smiles down at me, her face incandescent. This is the only word I can even think of, looking at her, feeling her—incandescent.

I’m gripping her hips while she takes me inside of her, and she is glowing. I think I’m glowing, too.

I wonder if the light we’re making will show up in the pictures our friend Sarah is taking. The shutter is snapping and whirring, and I hope so. I hope everyone in the whole world will look at these pictures and see everything. I hope I will look at these pictures fifty years from now and think, We were like a thousand fucking candles together.

Her laugh tastes like it always does. Her skin.



Use what you know. Don’t worry about what you don’t know.
-Michael Shurtleff


I didn’t plan to sign up for the class.

I was an economics major, which is practical, but I also wanted to be Phi Beta Kappa, so even though the college I went to has no core curriculum, I had to take a few credits in every area—humanities, social sciences, science, and the arts.

I didn’t plan to sign up for the class, but I needed eight credits in the arts, and I took the prerequisite my second year. You can’t get in to Contact Improv unless you’ve taken the prerequisite. So I did. But I didn’t plan to take the class.

Not exactly. I just sidled my advisor around to suggesting it. Recommending it, even.

“Because you seemed to enjoy that theater class,” he said.

“Because you might benefit from greater ease in social situations,” he suggested.

“Because it helps sometimes, in life, to learn to pretend you feel something different from what you’re really feeling.”

This last, I’m sure, because I look like a small and terrified mouse. And I mean that not in the adorable way—Oh, I have mousy brown hair and precious tiny hands!—but truly. My rodenty face, my pale blinking eyes, my flat short hair and skin the blue of skim milk. They unsettle people.

I’d spent my whole life learning how not to unsettle people, until I became the sort of person who’s barely visible at all. That girl who sits on the mid-back-left side of your classroom, whose name you don’t know. The student at the coffee shop who you know you’ve served before, lots of times, even though you never remember her order.

I didn’t plan to take Contact Improv, because from the first moment I read the course description in the online catalog, the very notion of such a class unsettled me.

Read the rest of chapter 1 on the Brain Mill Press website

Press subscribers at all levels of patronage will receive an exclusive PDF of the first three chapters of The Dark Space today. This subscriber bonus will be available to new press subscribers through February 21.

An Exclusive Preorder Gift

The Dark Space will be produced in a fine first edition printing of signed, numbered paperbacks capped at two hundred copies.

Readers who preorder The Dark Space will receive, along with their copies of the novel, a unique 4 x 6” letterpress print of the book’s signature epigraph, the Sanford Meisner quotation “You’re Enough." This print was created by Kristin Joiner of 622 Press, who blind printed the quotation with lead type on 110-pound 100% cotton Crane Lettra paper.

About Kristin Joiner

Kristin Joiner first discovered letterpress in college and acquired her own press -- an 1882 Pearl Old Style she calls "Bess" -- on Craigslist six years ago. She produces limited-edition prints, greeting cards, invitations, and other custom work on 100% recycled cotton paper with oil-based inks and vintage wood and lead type. Formerly operating in Madison, Wisconsin, Kristin recently chose love and relocated to Bermuda with her boyfriend. You can find her work at and on Etsy at

How To Preorder

The preorder price of $24.95 includes a signed, numbered print copy of The Dark Space; a letterpress print of the Sanford Meisner quotation “You’re Enough”; and postage and handling in the United States.*

*Buyers outside the U.S., please email for pricing & a unique preorder link.

Preorders open February 21 except to press subscribers at the “patron” and “subscriber” levels, who can preorder today with subscriber-discounted pricing.

If you aren't currently a press subscriber but you want to take advantage of the early preorder period, the preorder page will allow you to become a press subscriber and preorder in the same payment. Brain Mill Press subscribers at the "subscriber" level receive exclusive digital content and a discount on press titles and merchandise. "Patrons" receive all of this as well as a Brain Mill Press T-shirt and acknowledgment in press publications.

You can read more about the Brain Mill Press subscription model on our website.

The preorder period closes on March 31, and books ship April 15, at which point the remainder of the print run becomes available for general sale. The Dark Space will be released as an ebook in early June.

This means that only 200 readers will have the exclusive opportunity to read The Dark Space six weeks before it is available to the general public.

Preorder Now

Coming Soon

Look for announcements in next month’s newsletter of exciting Brain Mill Press books coming from authors you love, as well as details about a novella contest in April and an open submission period in May.

Questions? Email

Brain Mill Press invites open submissions 4-6 times a year. Open submission periods will be announced in the newsletter & on social media. At all other times, submission is by invitation only. Check for all open submission opportunities.

Copyright © 2015 Brain Mill Press, All rights reserved.

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