Oct 20 2009

Indices, Spine Widths & Cover Designs – Oh My!

The tail end of our design for An Extraordinary Peace: St. Seraphim, Flame of Sarov  has finally reached completion.  It has been an extraordinarily eye-opening process for me to walk through my first publication from the ground up.  With our poetry book, Mysteries of Silence, the book came to me already edited, proofed, and with a strong formatting design that just had to be transferred to the appropriate software.  This book, however, started with an old typewritten copy squeezed to the very edges of the paper and “mimeographed” several times already so that some letters were blurred and difficult to see.


With the author, Fr. Lazarus, having reposed in 1992, it was impossible to consult with him over puzzling words or passages, and there were a number of them to deal with.  I used the former publication for a guide at times (especially for obscured passages or words), the opinions of Dominica Cranor, the trustee of his literary estate with whom I consulted throughout the editing process, and I relied on prayer as much as anything to help me make decisions about the text and design.


Having finally finished the editing, many hours were spent proofreading.  I consider myself a fairly good reader who commonly catches small mistakes.  But I certainly learned what seasoned editors already know: your own eyes just aren’t enough.  I’d read through the manuscript no less than 5 times, 2 of them intensively proofreading, when we passed it to a cadre of 3 willing souls to help us at the end, all of whom have professional skills they could temporarily lend the project.  And of course they found a number of mistakes and inconsistencies I had missed.  Finally done, then, right?  No, not quite.  I was very dismayed to find STILL MORE very small but clear mistakes in going over the proofer’s corrections with the designer.  In the end, I copped to the “Navajo Blanket” story (an intentional small mistake is woven in as a reminder of humility), realizing there are probably still more mistakes, but it was time for the book to go to press.


Wow, was the cover design process a chore, as well!  We couldn’t finish up until the manuscript itself was set in stone and we had our firm page #.  The printer then gave us the spine width measurement so that the designer could finish her work.


In this interim, a few of us weighed in on color and design, trying to refine the basic template to get to the point where we all felt great about it.  As they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and so is design theory, as well, apparently!  This is where I truly appreciated working with an Orthodox team.  Differences arose, naturally, however all of us compromised, stepped back a bit, and peacefully came to a cover that we all concurred was strong and reflective of the values we shared for the book.


I received the Index near the very end of the manuscript preparation and was quite surprised at how thorough it was.  A friend had emerged and offered her services for this important task.  Since she was not Orthodox, I had gone through the book earlier and indicated many passages that Orthodox readers would want indexed.  She furthermore applied her skills to create a number of additional subjects and all the proper names in the book, handing us a very thorough Index indeed.  I got further input from a few people with a Russian background to cull the names a bit, knowing many (some just first names and nothing else) would no longer be recognizable to readers.


The thing that surprised me and the indexer as well was the extremely long list of miracles found throughout the book.  It was rather awe-inspiring to both of us to see listed all those unusual instances of God’s grace and mercy extended through the life of this man.


We switched printers just weeks before the book was ready, and this enabled us to order hardback copies.  I was very happy about this, but it entailed creating yet more covers: one for the foil on the book spine, and a dustjacket.  Dustjackets have flaps that must be filled with something, and so I was emailing people at the last moment, trying to find those who were already familiar with the book and could comment on it for us.  Thankfully, several people emerged who were enthusiastic and available.  They gave us wonderful endorsements which all focussed on different aspects of what this book offers. I was thrilled to get them.The only task left then was choosing colors for the hardbound cover and the endpapers.  I compared probably 15 strong contenders out of the over 100 samples colors to choose from, looking over them for several days before finally choosing 2 colors in the gold range.


Files were uploaded digitally and I only await the proofs to check one last time before the printrun is initiated.  We are ordering 5,000 copies, which brings the per-book price down to a point where we can offer a reasonable price for such a long (358pp) and important book, making it affordable for a large number of people.  At this point our pre-sale has raised most of the money needed to fund this run with about $1700 still remaining to be raised over the next 3 weeks.


After beginning this well over a year ago, it is a great relief to me to see it “gone out the door” and on its way to realization.  It is truly one of the most tremendous Orthodox books I have read, combining the sweetness and intimacy of a biography like Father Arseny with the powerful teaching based on experience of many of our more theological books.  What remains to me now is to clear a big space in our upstairs stockroom to house them.  How much space will 5,000 books take up?  Well, I’ll find out!

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May 29 2009

St. Seraphim Coming Along


A Fresh New Look for St. Seraphim


Getting ready to wrap up our manuscript of the marvellous life of St. Seraphim by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore, previously published by New Sarov Press over a decade ago.  We’ve decided on this new cover design with an intimate and tender icon by Matushka Ann Margitich.


Our overall goal in prepping and designing the manuscript was to make it accessible and appealing to a broad audience while maintaining a strong connection with Orthodox tradition and ethos.The previous publication was done in 1994, when access to technology we take for granted today was probably very limited.  We wanted to bring a greater elegance and consistency to the text.  It has proved to be a “classic” in Orthodox hagiography and we wanted a presentation worthy of that status.


We chose “Counsels From the Holy Mountain” by St. Anthony’s Monastery in AZ as a style reference, which has a “classic Orthodox” and almost liturgical flavor, mirrored in many of the finer Greek and Russian hagiographical publications. We are in the final draft proofing stage.  Artwork and design having been fully completed now.  After this and the indexing, we will be ready to go to press!  Anticipated release date will be around Aug/Sept, God willing.A pre-sale to raise funds for printing will be announced soon through our newsletter.  Please sign up here if you don’t already receive it:   



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May 09 2009

Preparing the Oktoechos

I am nearing completion of a musical setting of the Saturday night Oktoechos in Kievan Chant.  Originally, the idea was discussed 2 years ago now, with a neighboring priest who is also a “Liturgics Geek”: Fr. Christopher Swanson (OCA).  He and I thought it high time that a well-typeset and complete collection including everything needed for Saturday night Vespers be developed.  Fr. Lawrence Margitich, my former priest in Santa Rosa, CA, also gave full support for getting the version developed there and used for many years into publishable format.


Gathering a select handful of interested parties with skill and experience, we took almost 3 months to develop a working template.  Many considerations of style came into play.  How large should the page be?  St. Vlad’s musical publications, clearly the most widely-used for Russian chant, are oversized and don’t fit on many home copiers.  This presents a practical problem sometimes for desperate choir directors copying materials at the last minute (does it sound like I know what I’m talking about?).
After determining an 8×11 size sheet of paper, the next question was size.  To fit 4 systems of music per page or 5?  Weighing readability vs. paper wastage and page flipping isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Who knew people could get so passionate about such a thing?  And alongside this question was the horizontal spacing issue: how tight or loose?  The Sibelius type-setting software does a great job with guessing what you want as you input information, but there is definitely human interaction needed for the question of spacing horizontally.  Because musical and verbal notations are considered in conjunction with one another, a judgement needs to be made for most every syllable, so that it ends up placed properly in connection with the syllables around it. If a programmed space was imposed per input note, many words would collide.  We settled on a tighter horizontal spacing.  Although initial reading may require a little more attention, it cuts way down on page-flipping and since this text will be done over and over and over again, after awhile the singers have it memorized and the page is actually more like a simple reminder of what they already know, and they are no longer reading everything.  Whew.


Were we there yet?  Well, not quite.  We had to discuss translation questions, too.  The basic translations were taken from the Pentecostarion by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, however the Theotokia presented a problem, since not all tones are present in that volume.  Furthermore, many parishes use the St. John of Kronstadt Menaion for menaion material and we thought it more prudent to match the Theotokia to that translation, as they would be following menaion stichera and may sometimes need to be sung straight from text in the book.  So we chose a mixture.


We also had to address all the little formatting details: providing the half Psalm verses set to music; how far the title should be pulled up from the text; whether or not to include “Now and ever” on the Dogmatika page; denoting page numbers both in the music collection and for each individual set of stichera; whether to use numerals or spell out numbers, and etc.  Mostly due to work Fr. Lawrence has done on this over the years, I finally had a good working style sheet.


After a year of working on the setting (granted, slowly, among many other things) I was notified that the OCA is preparing a new translation of the Oktoechos and was requested to hold off publishing the HTM translation I’d been working on and wait for the new translation instead.  I willingly complied, but after 8 months and no progress forwarded to me I’ve decided to do both/and.  The text for Tone 1, which is the only I’ve actually seen, is so close to the HTM translation that the changes would be nearly imperceptible to most users. And I figure regardless of how long it takes for the OCA translation to come out, there are those who already use and will continue to prefer the HTM translation, for whom this work will still be valuable.


I’m not a translator, and don’t read Greek or Slavonic.  The only thing I can conscientiously bring to the table is some discernment when it comes to setting the English text musically.  I’m aware of poor English grammar and sentence structure, which has a particular kind of immediacy when adding the process of musical settings for Kievan chant.  One doesn’t want the meaning obscured because a passive clause coincides with a musical phrase that has a strong ending or cadence.  In this case, without being able to see commas, one looses the “gist” of the text, and can actually be given an incorrect meaning by the choir. But when, in English, 2 translations carry different shades of meaning that are nearly imperceptible, I don’t see how investing in one over the other becomes so very crucial.  Taking archaic and cumbersome translations, such as Nassar and Kazan, or more simplistic and casual translations where shades of deeper meaning are not even attempted, as in modern translations sporadically found both in the OCA and Antiochian websites, it’s much easier for me to see clearly why one ought to seek out a better translation.  At any rate, I’ll provide both, I figure.


Now it is just proofing, which seems a never-ending task.  There are always a few more tiny typos or spacing shifts that could be done to improve the final version.  However, it’s close to being done.  And finally, I will be able to offer something complete and trustworthy to those who need it.  Quite a number of people go looking for this set in Kievan and there’s nothing out there for sale.  I’m glad we’re almost done with it.

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Mar 31 2009

Our First Year

I suppose I’m like many other bloggers…. turning around to see that an entire year has gone by without a post.  But I’ve been busy!  Anaphora Press had its official one year anniversary last month on Feb. 2.  Looking back, we realized we’d produced more than we thought: a book of poetry, a CD, a full curriculum set, and 2 music books.  Sales were higher than I expected, but at the end of the year there was only a little money in the bank with no paycheck for the CEO (smile).  That is as we’d expected.   Nevertheless, we were able to begin paying back our startup loan, acquire a new printer and other business necessities, and ended up with a good inventory of books and CDs.  We thank God for His guidance and blessings during our first year!

 tawikk_2.jpgcherubika-cover.jpgmysteries-of-silence-cover-actual.jpgCherubika CDteaching-guide-coversmall.jpgseasonscover.jpgCGT CD Covertreasury-cover.jpg

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May 28 2008

Wrapping up Pascha

Christ is risen!

It’s hard to believe the end of the feast is fast approaching. Quite a lot has been packed into the festal period for us at Anaphora Press. With our first releases now officially no longer “new” we’ve begun looking ahead to the next projects on the docket. Although some planning and envisioning has been going on, there hasn’t been a lot of time for work lately. However, I did finally finish up the typeset music for the “Cherubika” album and it is now for sale.


Besides running Anaphora Press, one of my “other” jobs is directing the choir of St. Herman of Alaska church in Port Townsend, WA. And like all the other Orthodox singers in the world, nothing much got my attention during the last half of Lent beyond the bright string of services laid out before me. Life is just going from one service to the next, it seems. And I wouldn’t have it any other way! Along with a lot of typesetting, I was especially grateful this year to work on some texts for Holy Friday in znamenny chant. That genre requires a serious level of concentration and prayer, for me, at least. My husband could not believe I was up until the wee hours of the morning at the beginning of Holy Week working on them. But I couldn’t help it. Even though I knew it was not the smartest thing to burn my candle at both ends on Holy Monday with Holy Thurs/Fri/Sat. looming up ahead, I was too inspired to let it go. I wanted so much for this glorious text to have a fitting musical vehicle. I don’t have this urge to compose very often, and it’s really grand when it comes to me. The climax, of course, was to sing it in church with a full heart. Thanks be to God!


The other exciting thing on our docket is a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage coming up. We’ve saved our airline miles for 12 YEARS and finally have enough for the whole family to go. Christopher, of course, is going to Mt. Athos with our priest. The children and I along with my mother, are going separately, first through Rome/Ravenna for a week and then on a grand tour of Greece for 3 weeks, meeting up with the men for 1 week of it. There’s been a lot of planning and preparation for that, especially as we need to do it on a shoestring.


Right before I got married I had a 3-month soujourn, briefly through England and the rest of the time in Greece, staying in monasteries most of the time. It is not an experience to be encapsulated in a few words on a blog. I have longed for years to see my husband, and now my children, have their own experience of our roots as Orthodox Christians. It is transformative. I am really overwhelmed at the great blessing of my whole family going. Even my mother, who is not Orthodox, has decided to travel with the children and I.


I did have to stop and think awhile for my own part. My young son is only 3, and the thought of traipsing around for a month with him does seem less than ideal. There were large conundrums to consider like: should I really potty-train him now so we don’t have to carry diapers? Or will it be worse to try and find a bathroom NOW down a side-street in Rome? But we finally did come to the conclusion that God knows all of this, and that the time has emerged for us to go. So I am praying a lot and caught up in the anticipation of seeing what God unfolds for us on our pilgrimage.


The developments of late with Anaphora Press are:

  • Getting off the ground and into the editing room with The Life of St. Seraphim
  • Revising, revising, and expanding on The Children’s Garden of the Theotokos. This is the one with the deadline of the upcoming school year. Pressure? Yeah. But it’s good for me.
  • Marketing 101: Creating an email base and our first newsletter
  • New Featured Artist: Nikolai Tsai. Now is that a great name, or what? Loved learning about him.
  • Looking ahead to the fall and mapping out work on the next Cherubika album and getting to A History of the Orthodox Church by Angel Escobar. Can’t wait to dig into those projects.

Christos anesti!

Alithos anesti!


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Mar 19 2008

Lent: Turning Inward

The rush of our first mailing ever consumed most of January and February, where I collected addresses and sent out almost 500 pieces of mail with our newly-designed brochure and some flyers. It’s amazing how long it takes to tri-fold, stick together, and adhere stamps and labels to a pile of flyers!


When I came up for air at the beginning of March, of course Lent was practically upon me. Although I didn’t get through all the mailings, the rest will go out in the next few weeks. I’ve had a respite from Anaphora Press business for a couple of weeks, entering into the prayer life of this great season. I love Lent. My favorite time of year. Even though my body protests, my soul sings at beginning the day early in the morning with Lenten Matins at the church. It has been particularly nice to focus more on praying for this endeavor rather than all the busywork and decision-making I’ve had to accomplish over the last few months.

It is a good time of reflection in terms of the Press as well. I am beginning to consider our next projects: The Life of St. Seraphim by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore, the next album by Cherubika which needs editing, the Children’s Garden of the Theotokos curriculum, which needs a minor overhaul, and a wonderfully rich manuscript submitted by Dr. Angel Escobar on the History and Praxis of the Orthodox Church which I look forward to working on with him.

May God grant us all a good Lent, and a meaningful journey towards His third-day Resurrection!


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Feb 03 2008

Ready, Set, Blog!

February 3, 2008. Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord, Righteous Simeon and Anna

Wow, has the learning curve ever been steep! It is only by God’s grace and our supreme foolishness, probably, that Anaphora Press has finally officially launched. What began as a fond personal dream – to create a place where finely-crafted writing and church music and art could be appreciated, tastefully published, and made accessible to the faithful, has finally become a reality, in its own small way. Glory be to God!

And thanks be to all the singers, writers, and web-people that have helped bring it all into being!

Who knew it would take THIS MUCH WORK to publish a book and a CD, and set up a website? My poor family might feel like they’ve got a wife/mom back in the evenings instead of a computer-screen-slave, which I’ve been since October.

As I’ve begun to hear “Cherubika” played on Ancient Faith Radio and have gotten some really lovely and heartfelt emails from listeners and readers, I realize it is all SO worth it. Not only does it warm our own hearts, but we feel like a lot of the wonderful giftedness we’ve been bathed in is finally seeing the light of day. The music of Fr. Lawrence Margitich and the wonderful St. Seraphim choir as well as the newly-formed Cherubika are all going much further out into the world, the poetry Christopher has labored over for years is finally finding its readers, and in the coming months some of the great painters and writers we’ve been inspired by will also be highlighted.

So here we go….. I’m hanging on for the ride!


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Nov 20 2007

Welcome to Anaphora Press

Welcome to Anaphora Press, an Orthodox Christian publisher specializing in liturgical and creative arts. We are glad you found us! We offer you a wonderful collection here - finely-crafted fiction and poetry by Orthodox writers to delight you, prayerful CDs to inspire you, lovely icons painted with time-honored tradition, faith-based curriculum for Orthodox homeschool or Sunday school, and a growing collection of downloadable PDFs for your church choir. Enjoy your stay!

Editor’s Note: We are so pleased that you found us during our initial launch Dec. 13, 2007 - Jan 31, 2008. Many of our pages are in various stages of completion, and at present we are not quite ready to open for e-commerce. If you would like to order a book or CD, please email us directly at macrina440@mac.com and we will be able to take your order. Please check back frequently for updated material, especially for helpful essays and resources.ajskldofindgko



Just Arrived!  



Behold Your God

CD of Liturgical Music by St. Seraphim Choir, Santa Rosa, CA. Hymns from the three winter feasts: Nativity, Theophany, and the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple. 




Mysteries of Silence

Orthodox spiritual poetry by Reader Christopher Lewis 





Liturgical Chant CD: The Cherubic Hymn in Eastern Orthodox Chant



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