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Local Publishing House, Elyssar Press offers workshops

Katia Hage from Elyssar Press with writing workshop facilitator, Katie Allen. Redlands Community News photos by Siw Heede

By SIW HEEDE For the Redlands Community News

One of the only independent small publishing companies is located right here in Redlands. Katia and Samar Hage began Elyssar Press in the fall of 2019. They serve the San Bernardino area and internationally. This spring their services also include a writing workshop event in Redlands.

The publishing business is not an easy business to get into. There are currently only a few large publishing houses in the US. That dictate what gets published mainstream.

Katia Hage is a musician, poet and writer. When she couldn’t find a local publisher, Richard Soos of a small press in the High Desert, Cholla Needles Arts & Literary, encouraged her to start her own. And when she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer two years prior to starting Elyssar Press, it lit a fire in her. “That was kind of the catalyst for me. I’m like if not now, then when?” she said. So that’s what she did with her sister, starting their own company.

About Elyssar Press

Elyssar Press hosts live author events online when new work gets published. Sign up to get n…

The Hage sisters grew up in Lebanon, where Samar who is a graphic designer, still lives. Katia came to the States 25 years ago. Modern technology made it possible for them to work together even though they live worlds apart.

“The pandemic was such a great opportunity for us because the team that formed was international,” said Katia, who also functions as one of the editors. Another editor lives in San Francisco, a marketing person is in Seattle and the designer is in Lebanon. “So being virtual was exactly what we needed,” she said. They began to receive submissions from all around the world.

Their company name Elyssar, “Comes from this amazing Phoenician Queen in Tunisia. I like her because for one, she was a woman and two, she was a leader who started this whole new community,” said Katia. “That’s what I envision; to bring people together, especially writers, poets and artists.”

Katia knew a couple of local authors from San Bernardino, Cindy Rinne and Bory Thach. “They wanted to have a book published and so they took a chance on my sister and I,” said Katia. The first book from Elyssar Press, a poetry performance collection by Rinne and Thach called ‘Letters under Rock’, came out in 2020.

The company publishes works in other languages than English as well as tries to highlight stories outside of mainstream media. “We are looking for stories about mental health, rough times during college, people who travel and things that are unusual,” she said.

A recent book “The Beirut Call,” a collection about the explosion in Beirut in August of 2020, is a collaboration of people from Lebanon, England, Dubai and France. “The point of the book was to show that art is a way out of trauma and it’s a way to heal,” said Katia.

“I’ve always had the dream to support and encourage people to write and publish their books,” she said. The first year was a learning process of how to start a publishing business. This year, they had 54 submissions. So far, they have published 14 books by different authors.

“I love to support this area because I feel that a lot of writers do not have an opportunity to publish their books here unless you self-publish,” said Katia of specifically Redlands and San Bernardino County. “Our goal is to have your story come out.”

Now, Elyssar Press is collaborating with local author and writing workshop facilitator, Katie Allen, to offer a special writing experience in the Heritage Park in Redlands.

“I had this idea of doing an Equinox workshop for writing but also connecting with nature and hopping on that energy that’s around us,” Katia said. “We have such beautiful parks in Redlands and for people to come and discover it and connect with like-minded artists and writers. To slow down for an hour and be in the moment.”

The two-hour workshop ‘Writing with Spring’ is available online on Saturday, April 22 and in person on Sunday, April 23. They hope to offer these workshops seasonally.

Read the original article HERE.

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