Hello. Welcome to ronpswegman.com -- this angler's, artist's, and author's official spot along the internet stream . . .
I am pleased to announce that my second book, Small Fry: The Lure of the Little, has been published and is now available from The Whitefish Press.
No book is complete without a reader, or readers, and so for you who have taken an interest in this book either for yourself or for a relative or friend, here are a few remarks to further encourage your patronage . . .
Small Fry: A Writer's Reader's Guide
What is this book? How may it be categorized or labeled? For those readers heretofore unfamiliar with my writing allow me to explain. Small Fry is not a fishing book about fish and fishing for fishermen. Small Fry is a conscious, creative attempt at a comprehensive good read -- a blend of story, memoir, travelogue, poetry, natural science, and outdoor sport that seeks to appeal to readers who take an interest in the outdoors and the natural environment.
The tale behind this story, and in fact all of my written work, has taken shape through my own timeline as an angler, an artist, and an author. All three of these "A Activities" have enriched and informed my life to the point where I feel I can contribute a writer's voice that is colorful, interesting, and unique.
I began my writing life as a print journalist during university. I focused on feature writing as a reporter and department editor for Penn State's newspaper, The Daily Collegian. The long form of the feature article allowed me to digress and be discursive and be descriptive. These acquired loves of language, used creatively, lead me to fiction and poetry, which I began to read and write in earnest.
During the 1990's I completed the manuscripts of two novels, a dozen short stories, and about 150 poems. I submitted these works to a variety of journals and was rewarded with a very small success rate. I entered the twenty-first century having published a few poems and two short stories in literary magazines as well as one tale -- ironically entitled "Self Help" -- in a book-length anthology Help Yourself! published by autonomedia press.
An apprenticeship of a decade had honed my writing craft in relative obscurity. "Local Poet" was the description used in the newspapers listing my occasional independent bookstore and coffee shop appearances. This minor, regional, public success proved to be a blessing; my art did not have to grow up in public.
The new decade (and new century) began, for me, with a return of sorts. In 2001 I rekindled an interest in one of my favorite teenage hobbies -- fly fishing. I found my home of Philadelphia to be surrounded by parks (the Fairmount Park system) where, via mountain bike, I could find real solitude surrounded by trees, wildflowers, birds, and even a few waterways full of fish. This "on the fly" urban angling experience within city limits was visually and physically rich, and I began to send little descriptive reports back to family and friends. After one such installment, my mother wrote: "I'm glad to see you enjoying yourself along the water again, and just think of all the stories you will be able to tell."
Light bulb . . . lit!
FISH STORIES! Of course, I thought, what a logical progression for my writing to take! So, throughout the 2001 fishing season, I wrote up my most memorable outings and by the end of that year the corpus of a little book had begun to emerge. I started to submit individual pieces to online angling websites and to my happy surprise these venues accepted and published the work with an enthusiasm I had never before enjoyed in the realm of fiction and poetry.
An encouraging note from a leading angling author pointed me in the direction of the major American presses open to outdoor titles that were more creative than instructional. One of these, Frank Amato Publications, accepted my Philadelphia fish stories (and drawings and photographs) and published Philadelphia on the Fly in 2005.
Having a book under one's belt does not necessarily make one rich or famous, I discovered, but it does open the door to the world of paid freelance writing. Outdoor sports magazines and newspapers began to notice my work, and two of these -- Pennsylvania Outdoor News (Thank you, Jeff Mulhollem) and Eastern Fly Fishing magazine (Thank you, John Shewey and Steve Probasco) -- embraced both my writing and my photography.
I found my next book taking shape on its own within these speculative articles -- mixtures of memoir and travelogue -- and in time an extended meditation on the aspects of angling I knew best -- small waters and small fish species -- manifested itself as a new work-in-progress. Small Fry was thus born and after several years a theme and a set of chapters to elaborate on that theme had coalesced around a central story -- one American's relationship with the outdoors, from youth to adulthood, centered on those times and places where nature and the city intersect.
Case in point: During February of 2008 I visited Manhattan and while there viewed the "Art and Vision" retrospective of the Japanese artist Shinjo Ito. One of his pieces in the exhibit was a cast bronze sculpture of Ebisu, the Japanese god of fishermen. I purchased a catalogue of the show and one evening, while contemplating Ito's image of Ebisu, I experienced an epiphany in the form of a new way to spread the word about the Small Fry project -- serialize the book in the old-fashioned way with a set of biweekly installments, and do so in the most contemporary forum -- online. With that concept in mind, I browsed the internet, using my skills acquired through two decades of library service, and I virtually met Martin Joergensen of Copenhagen, Denmark, host of the website Global Fly Fisher. He agreed to support the project and his online presentation of the book between June and November of 2008 turned into a collaboration that brought out the best writing and illustration I have as yet produced from my pens and colored pencils.
The response was excellent enough. Suddenly, a little manuscript that had been sitting unread in a desk drawer was being viewed by numerous readers across the globe. One member of this new audience was the noted black bass authority, Clyde E. Drury, author of the annotated autobiography of Dr. James Alexander Henshall, the nineteenth century angling author, whose Book of the Black Bass first brought this great game fish family to the attention of American anglers. Drury was kind enough to include my project within his authoritative online bibliography of black bass books and this brought Small Fry to the attention of his publisher, Dr. Todd E. A. Larson of The Whitefish Press. The rest is now literary history in paperback form --
Enjoy the book . . .
-- ron P. swegman
-- Philadelphia & New York City
-- November 2009