Saturday, December 29, 2012

Keep 'Em Guessing

People in the know say none of us like change.  I beg to differ.

Blogspot obviously digs it.  I know this because it still  changes the photo on Slowreadtoasunburn's template willy-nilly, a.k.a., for no apparent reason.

You know the beach photo that normally graces the blog?  Yeah, well, Blogspot like to change it out with miscellaneous photos from the blog. Yep, it peeved me at first.  Now I'm kind of liking it.  It's the middle of winter, for gawd's sake, and Spokane is a picture of white on grey.  I look out the window and thank the lord for red cars.  Their color is stunningly beautiful these days.  Sad.

Okay so, do I work on making Blogspot keep the beach shot or not?

Let me know,


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We Just Wanna Be Liked

Like, please.

We aren't talking groups hugs or a plethora of platitudes, just a simple "Like."

Amazon, through which Hot Cross Buns is being sold (for now, anyway), is a crazy big machine -- a by the numbers kind of machine.  It's the kind of corporate machine that makes people do things they would never do.

So here goes...

Please "Like" us.

OUCH!  That was frigging painful.  Unabashed self-promotion! 

Here goes again -- rephrased a bit.

We don't want you to lie or do anything you aren't comfortable doing, but if you liked reading Hot Cross Buns or even remotely like Judy and me, could you go to Amazon, search Hot Cross Buns, open the book's link, scroll down the page and "Like" HCB?  You don't even have to make a comment, just "Like" us.

Curse you Amazon for making me do this!  Thank you Amazon for opening the gates to self-publishing.

HCB and Amazon = love/hate relationship.

Here are the dance steps:  Amazon has some sort of mambo-jumbo formula it uses to move books up the ratings ladder.  A book's place on the ladder, oddly, isn't based only on the number of books sold. No, no, no, the number of hits on the "Like" button and/or comments is equally important.

Try this on.  Say, Gone With The Wind sold one billion copies, but only got three "Likes."  Yeah, well, from what I can tell, there is a good chance GWTW may not have made it too far up the Amazon ladder.  Odd, I know, and  Margie Mitchel would have been one peeved authorette!

So, please dance with us.  "Like" Hot Cross Buns.

I can't believe I'm doing this!  But, I am not alone.

Not long ago, successful Spokane author Jess Walter was explaining to me how even the big publishing houses expect their authors to do a lot of their own marketing.  He didn't have a big grin on his face as he was telling me this.

So, ouch.  And thank you.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Augh! The Rumors!

That is not Judy.

The woman on the left?  That's not Judy.  It's sweet, funny and well-read Linda from Auntie's Bookstore.  She's introducing Judy and me at our Hot Cross Buns reading what feels like ten years ago but was really just over a week past.  That is me on the right.  Judy is further to my left behind a honking piece of sound equipment.
There, that takes care of that.  And, boy-o-boy, am I starting to have empathy for Julia, Jessica, the little Spears girl and host of other famous people constantly managing rumor control!
Since this photo went public -- public being my brother-in-law's facebook friends -- we've been bombarded with left-field questions.  Yikes!  How one photo can speak a thousand rumors!  Judy shrank. Judy boycotted the reading.  Our friendship endured six years of writing Hot Cross Buns only to become riddle with strife after the book was completed.
Dare I suggest we need a press agent?  Yeah, well for now -- actually, forever -- that is me. So, if you have any questions about Judy and me, please post them in the comment box on this site.  We will respond with as much honesty as we feel is merited.
So here goes...
Let me dispel two additional, widely held rumors among my brother-in-law's facebook friends.  First, despite the look on my face, I am not bored out of my mind.  I am trying to look casual -- like I know what they hey I'm doing up there. Second, and something I'd like you to share with as many people as possible  (A quick mention in your Christmas cards would be great.).  I do not have kankles.  I am wearing boots.  (But aside from the kankles, don't you think I look great considering I was sick as a dog? Judy looked REALLY snappy that night.  Too bad she was behind the sound equipment. Oh, and my hair looks better now that the bad hair cut has grown a bit.)
Yes, this publicity portion of authoring is a mixed bag.  And to think during all those years of writing we looked forward to this part. Whoa mama! 
Really though, some of it is fun.  Visiting book groups is a blast.  We've even got our exaggerations down pat, but still glad they don't take minutes at those things.  I'm keeping mental notes comparing book groups... more on that later. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

These Guys Made My Night!

The Coffee Boys

Meet the "Coffee Boys!" They helped make our reading at Auntie's Bookstore Thursday night over-the-top fun!
To a man, they are very sweet. 
The gentlemen make an appearance in Hot Cross Buns as a group of regulars who visit the heroine's bakery. In real life, you can find them at their window-side table at the Rockwood Bakery on Spokane's South Hill every weekday morning.  Oh yeah, much of the heroine's bakery is fashioned after the Rockwood Bakery and you can't fashion anything around the Rockwood Bakery without including Pat, Tom, Bernie and Chuck... and a few others.
Bernie's daughter in California engineered the idea that was finely executed by these guys. They arranged to have a table set up in front of the area at Auntie's where the reading takes place.  Call it a venue.  And there they were -- Rockwood Bakery mugs in hand -- seated as well-planned props!
For more information about them, well, you'll just need to read the book.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oh, Oh.

If I were a dog.

Yeah, well, tonight's the big not-reading-at-the-book-reading event. 

I  have slight problem,  however.  See the pup above.  Not only do I feel like him I sound like him.

Yep, the Center for Disease Control got my memo confirming this year's flu season is starting early and hard.  I'm on day seven and my voice sounds a little like a howling pooch.  More accurately, I sound like a pooch stuck in a culvert.

Judy and I got together last night to "plan" a bit about our pending Hot Cross Buns reading at Spokane's infamously favorite bookstore, Auntie's.  We did what we usually do, which is why it took six years to write the book, and proceeded to laugh ourselves sick -- or in my case sicker -- over lots of things besides the book. 

We did decide not to read at our reading.  We also agreed on a critical format issue, like not speaking at the same time.  I'm not much worried about that because if I speak more than 20 words consecutively at a tone louder than a whisper, I head into a snot-flowing, eye-tearing coughing fit.

I got a feeling it ain't going to be pretty.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pick Your Poison

Option #1: Master gardeners

Option #2 The Little Drummer Boy

Option # 3: Us

Yippers, it's that time of year -- so many choices, so little time.

Our reading at Aunties this coming Thursday was wedged between big competitors in the calendar section of The Spokesman Review this morning.  If I didn't feel somewhat obligated to attend the Hot Cross Buns reading, I might be tempted to take in the Master Gardeners New Volunteer Information Session or The Little Drummer Boy.

Not really, I lie.

On an informational note, my worry about not being able to read aloud?  Solved.  Yep, my investigative work about readings suggest the last thing an author should do at a reading is actually read.  It makes sense, doesn't it?  Why would Judy and I read the dang book when 1. people have already read it or 2. they haven't read it?

If you plan on attending, be very thankful reading has been cut from the agenda. Now, if Judy and I can refrain from talking over each other and I can avoid the errant eff bomb, we should be in good shape.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Series, Really?

The Mitford Series (A lot of books.)

Now that a few people have had time to digest Hot Cross Buns, we're starting to get some feedback.  Our Amazon reviews show something like 12 five-star ratings!  I feel a little like Peggy O'Melveny, a really smart girl I went through Catholic grade and high school with. Incessantly, she earned stars across the top of her homework.  (I didn't.)

Anyway, more than a few people have compared HCB to Jan Karon's infamous Mitford Series.  I say infamous because she has sold something like 20 million books.  Some suggest Judy and I write a sequel like Jan did.  It seems some readers have gotten to know our characters kind of like they got to know a new pal at summer camp and want to know how they are doing.

That is a huge compliment, but come now -- that is a lot of books!

If Judy and I were to dive into this series thing, we surely would have to speed up our writing.  Remember, HCB  took us six years to write. You do the math.  Yeah, six-feet under and/or healthy rose bushes come to mind.
What is ever so helpful, however, is we now have something to say when asked what kind of book HCB isYou know this has been a stumbling block for us.  Well, now we can say "Some think it's like the Mitford Series."  Then, we quietly add "Just substitute the east coast with the west coast; Episcopalian with Catholic; throw in titch of profanity, one rather devious/tartlette woman and a black dog, and that's just for starters."
Aside from these literary differences, there also are substantive differences between the writing team of Rogers and Porter and Jan Karon.

Jan Karon in a parade in (I'm guessing) Mitford

(If you squint, she kind of looks like Nancy Reagan.)

I kind of doubt Judy and I will be in a parade anytime soon.
That said, I'm tickled anyone would think HCB would occupy the same bookstore real estate as the Mitford Series.

Monday, November 26, 2012

We'll Never Top Kitty Kelley

Kitty Kelley We Are Not

In case you have forgotten or -- gawd forbid haven't heard -- Judy and I are doing a book reading at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane at 7 p.m. Dec. 6.  You don't need to bring snacks or anything. Just be nice.

Despite our successful warm up appearance at a book group last week, I am nervous. 

There is a certain reality that keeps nagging away at me: No way will Judy and I ever measure up to Spokane's famed authorette, Kitty Kelley. How do I know this sad fact?  Well, the first book reading I ever attended was Kitty Kelly's at, yes, Auntie's. Believe you me, Kitty Kelley we are not.

Some people easily deny having read a single one of Kitty's 789,998 unauthorized biographies about famous people like Liz Taylor, Frank Sinatra, the British royal family, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Oprah.  Some people would never be seen at the brazened author's book reading. 

I've never read one of Kitty's books that attract law suits like bees to honey.  But yes, I admit to being easily swayed and about 10 years ago, I let my friend Gail talk me into going to Kitty's reading. I don't even remember which of her flaming books she was going to "read!"  We arrived late and ever so stealthily crawled up the too-creaky-for-stealthing stairs at Auntie's to Kitty's reading venue. We hunched down in the back row and kept our heads low. 

(Who are all these people? I asked myself when I remembered I wasn't 13 and sat upright.)

Wow, did Kitty have blond hair!  Bottle blond or not, the Holy Names Academy grad had aged well.  She was wearing a Nancy Reagan suit -- oh yeah, she wrote a book about Nancy, too -- and could she talk!  And memory?  Shoot, I swear Kitty remembered the names of every Holy Names grad in the crowd -- many of whom must have voted her the Friendliest Girl four years running at HNA. And the place was crammed with Holy Namers!

So, you tell me whether or not I should be even an ity-bit worried because: First and perhaps foremost, Judy and I haven't written a bestseller. Next, I went to Marycliff, the across town rival (and some might say bookier) girl's school.  I was not a Gonzaga Prep (the all-boy school) cheerleader, nor was I a Lilac Princess who road atop the Lilac Parade float. Oh yes, and I would be hard pressed to remember each of my relatives' names never mind everyone I went to high school with, although I do remember Kitty's nice sister, Dolly, who went to Marycliff.

So, should things start to get a little shaky at the Hot Cross Buns reading, I'll give Judy the high sign to pull out the heavy artillery. We'll pull a Kitty Kelley.  Yes, I have dirt on Kitty.  Good idea, or what?

You think I'm kidding?  Hey, in a pinch I can chirp like a parakeet. 

Here's one little "leak" that may help get you to our reading.  Did you know Kitty was dubbed "The Golden Fleecer" at the University of Arizona?  Believe me, it's a good story to be told just in case.

Hey, maybe I'm a little like Kitty!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our First Book Group Soiree

Some very nice book group ladies

Judy and I ventured into our first book group last night with Hot Cross Buns.  And it was a blast!
This group did not adhere to Esther Lombardi's Book Club Rules and Standards (A Word (or two) About Book Groups, 11/11/12).  
Did we prepare?  No.  We had talked about preparing, but didn't get to it.
So we punted.  Fortunately, there wasn't as much of this, as we feared.

What easily could have been our response to almost any question.

Okay, yes, I had one oopsie.

At one point the entire group heartily agreed it was fun to read Hot Cross Buns right before Thanksgiving.

Hum, I didn't get it.  I hadn't a clue what these people were talking about. I chose to do what I typically do in such situations and looked at Judy, who was agreeing about the genious, albeit accidental timing.  No help there.

Yep, the book group had to remind me the book is set during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. 

Dang it all!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Do We Literally Read At "A Reading?"

Auntie's, the location of our first (and only) reading

Lois from Auntie's called Thursday and asked me if Judy and I would be interested in doing a reading.  I played it really cool, very hard-to-get. 

I yelped "Yes!"  (In my head I prefaced "Yes!" with the eff word.)

So, we have a reading 7 p.m. Thursday, December 6. 

I do have one minor worry -- I don't read out loud.  I know of at least 20 nuns who will vouch for me on this one.  So, when it comes to the actual reading part of the reading, I will sing.

There surely will be more worries that creep up between now and Dec. 6, but I'm pleased how readily I handled this first little tingle of angst.

FYI, Auntie's is Spokane's independently-owned bookstore hold out. Think of it as Spokane's version of Seattle's Elliot Bay Bookstore or Portland's Powell's.  These are the stores that defy the big box book stores.  Auntie's is located downtown in a big old hardwood floored, open stair cased building that used to be a furniture store.

Friday, November 16, 2012

What A Tangled "Web" We Weave

My brain working on our web site

My brain feels like a camp of contortionists took up residence somewhere in the frontal lobe.

I'm going to assume you want to know why.

Well, "They" say we have to have a Hot Cross Buns web site.  I'm getting really annoyed with the "Theys" in the publishing world, but for some reason I  continue to let them boss me around even though I'm quite content with this blog and not terribly interested in expansion.

Don't get me wrong, I'm head over heels crazy for the www!  I'm also crazy about home baked pies and brain surgery, but you don't see me toting around a rolling pin or shaving any one's head.
Alas, I have a reached a compromise.  I am going to attempt morphing Slow Read To A Sunburn into a Hot Cross Buns web site.  I just can't say goodbye to SRTSB!  As cynical as I am, I like the time eating little monster.

I  have the logistics in place, but am afraid, literally, to push the "execute" button that will turn this blog into Hot Cross Buns-Slow Read To A which is supposed to help people find the book AND keep the blog in tact.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Word (or two) About Book Groups

We're Not My Grandmother's Book Group

Judy and I are gearing up to visit book groups reading Hot Cross Buns (Thank you!).  It should be great fun, unless we encounter the likes of Esther Lombardi. 
According to Esther, who I suspect is a stunningly boring book club member and author of  Book Club Rules and Standards, my book group, an eclectic cast of nine or ten women, who have been reading the same book every month for about 20 years, should have disbanded years ago. We defy you, Esther, and I hope the book groups we visit do the same, or Judy and I are in big trouble.
Here's what old Esther (She has to be biblical old) has to say.  I couldn't refrain from responding.

E:  Whether you're starting a book club or joining one, take a look at these rules and standards for behavior. Some of the rules may seem basic, or they may seem like common sense. But, we want to make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding what is acceptable behavior in a book club. Here are the Book Club Rules...
The purpose of this book club is to read and enjoy literature! So, if you love books, and you're ready to discuss them... you're in the right place. 
 "Literature?"  Ah, Esther, how do you define that?  Does the Fifty Shades trilogy count as literature?
E:  You may find that you disagree with something that another member of the group has said.
It is okay to disagree!
May find you disagree?  Esther, the best part of book group is disagreeing. But, I agree, lamp throwing is out. And I have only said "Shut up!" maybe 100 times, but everyone knows I really don't mean it, much.
E:  Flaming and/or inappropriate behavior and/or language will not be tolerated.
Check on that one, Esther!  However, if that includes dropping the eff bomb, I'm screwed.
E:  Please respect the authority of the moderator.
We're all over that one, Esther!  We're all moderators, simultaneously.
E:  Keep on topic, but feel free to introduce information that is relevant to the discussion (historical facts, bio details, book background, related authors or topics).
Oh oh, Esther, we're busted on this one, bad!  Here's the deal, Esther, half the time -- shoot almost all the time -- the book just provides a point of departure for other, juicier conversation.  Dang, Esther, I typically run a month behind on the book pick.  Cut me some slack!  If we limited conversation to the book, I'd know how it ends before I read it!
E:  If you cite copyrighted material, please appropriately reference your source(s). Also, please don't inappropriately post or distribute copyrighted material.
Well now, there's something we've never thought about.  Probably never will, either. Kind of a buzz kill, aren't you, Esther?
Additional Rules for Traditional Book Clubs
E:  All meeting start on time.
Whoa now -- book group is a meeting?  I never signed on for that.  Please specify your definition of meeting. Thanks!
E:  When you speak, please state your name.

You're killin' me, Esther!  But, I will bring it up at the next "meeting" and see how the group feels about adopting this protocol.  I should probably do that before anyone drinks any wine.

E:  Some book clubs include food or beverages. Don't forget to bring your assigned (or volunteered) food or drink.

Esther, I double dare you to find a book group that doesn't have food AND beverages (See above.). If you don't have food and beverages, Esther, you don't have a book group!

Monday, November 5, 2012

In The Top 100,000!

Hot Cross Buns arrives in the mail.

We just passed a mile stone!  Hot Cross Buns hit Amazon's top100,000 list for Amazon.. Yep, we hit 98,147 on Amazon's Best Sellers Ranking.

And we languished in our progress for exactly two hours. 

Being one to verify facts, I just checked our ranking before bragging. Dang, if we weren't down a few notches at 121,157 in just two hours?

Crud, I knew getting a book out there was a hard, competitive undertaking, but please! Did that many people by a book (aside from ours) in just the last two hours? 

Lesson learned: Amazon is one big honkin' book peddler.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Our Biggest Little Critic

Who better to ask for a review of Hot Cross Buns than cousin Charley?  Take a look at the artwork he was working on when I interrupted him, will ya?  He obviously knows his art, and we all know the artist's psyche transcends mediums.  Or not.
Remember how invested we were in the cover art?  The big worry about people judging the book by its cover?  Yeah, well Charley showed us that was a huge waste of time.  Bam! He whipped past the cover with barely a glance and went straight to the inside pages. In fact, he beelined it to the back of the book!  His methodology is so logical.  Can you think of a better way to find out how a book ends?

Once he absorbed the ending, Charley examined the storyline, you know, character development, plot, etc.  Like most of us, he does his best thinking in the morning, so don't let the bed head detract from his status as a literary critic.  Was I a little worried when he didn't say a work the entire time he was reading?  Heck yes!  I thought for sure his silence was a bad sign, but his mom said if he really didn't like it he'd scream.



Once Charley finished his reading, he set the book down and looked me straight in the eye. Charley, by the way, is the kind of guy who chooses his words carefully.  He also uses his words sparingly. He may confuse Yes and No, but I could tell I was going to get the straight stuff  from him. I was going to find out if all that writing was really worth it.
And sure as Charley can toss a ball within an inch of his little brother's noggin, he delivered as I knew he would. 
"Whleah!" he hollered.
I couldn't have been more pleased.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Amazon: It's A Jungle Out There!

Just a few years ago, when you heard the word Amazon you thought of this:

Amazon River and accompanying jungle

These days, when you hear the word Amazon, most likely this comes to mind:

Amazon Dot Com, the book and hot cross bun mix peddler

(Note the book has topped the HCB mix as the first mention when you search Hot Cross Buns! SCORE!

Co-authorette and Amazon Pioneer, Judy, machetied her way through Amazon Dot Com to get Hot Cross Buns into print and ebook form.  From what we'd read and heard, it was supposed to be a straight forward undertaking. I mean, really, look how many people in the world have maneuvered through the process, right?
The thing is, just like the Amazon River, Amazon Dot Com gets a lot thicker when you get right down into it's belly.  And Judy is no Teddy Roosevelt.

Amazon Dot Com

And where the hey was this guy when she needed him?

Amazon Dot Com Help Center


Thursday, October 25, 2012

What If Oprah Calls?

Which Oprah will call?

Shoot, we'll take any Oprah.


 The "Don't shoot us!" Oprah

 The just-out-of-the-tub Oprah

The perky (and thin) in blue Oprah.

 The intellectual Oprah.

Oh dear, I'm about to get cynical again.  As you may recall, co-authorette Judy, is always reminding me to be positive and upbeat in my blogs.

Surprise!  Cynical is my version of upbeat and positive!

Anyway, with Hot Cross Buns out on the cyber shelves, I'm starting to anticipate the call from Oprah's producers to do Oprah's Book Club show.

Oh, oh. Wait a paper cut Kindle minute! Does Oprah even have a book group these days?  Does she even have a show?  Are my delusional expectations being dashed?  I think perhaps so.

Well, to heck with Oprah, we'll find ourselves another book group or two, or three or....

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

We're In The Money! (Loosely Speaking)

Mary Harnetiaux, first patron of Hot Cross Buns

It's out! Hot Cross Buns looks pretty snappy on Amazon!  Paperback or ebook -- You want it?  You can get it!  It's the dangedest thing! You go to, and search Hot Cross Buns and boom, there it is. 

And I'm not at all bitter Amazon dropped my name off the author notation.

Judy and I actually got this thing written-- and rewritten -- and off to market. Cool!

But now what do we do?

I know, we can start spending the profits!  As of 9 a.m. this morning, that amounted to $1.34. Split that in half and we each have 67 cents to go hog wild somewhere... somewhere inexpensive.  My mom would say something like "Don't spend it all in one place." That could be difficult.

(And thank you again Mary Harnetiaux for being the first person to purchase HCB from Mr. Amazon.)

I really do want to save my 67 cents.  Maybe tape it to a wall somewhere.  And every time I look at those quarters, dime, nickel and two pennies, I remember the SIX years of fun Judy and I had writing (and not writing) HCB.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

So Much For Beach Books, But...

So much for beach reads.

You probably know where I'm going with this.

I road my bike to Coeur d'Alene today and somewhere along the Spokane River, I saw a "Beach Closed" sign. I almost stopped to take a photo but it was hailing rosary beads and I still had 20-plus miles ahead of me. In any case, the menacing sky and leafless trees pretty much say it better.  Summer is over.

And that really messes with pitching Hot Cross Buns as a great beach (or dock) read. And Slow Read To A Sunburn could take a real hit on the chops with this sudden seasonal shift from Indian Summer to the harsh part of fall-not-quite-winter weeks. Shoot, the next sunburn most of us may see will be from the the sun's reflection off the snow.

It's time for damage control -- spin.


Remember, everyone, the term beach (or dock) read is a figure of speech!  I know, I know, I've been very literal with the definition, but again, it is just a figure of speech.  I've said it before, and it bears repeating, beach (or dock) books are books you read when you covet the idea of entertainment. Nothing intellectual, deep or heavy, thank you.  Relax your head, for god's sake!

That said, the deal about not caring if your book falls in the water?  That still stands.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Welcome Back, Russians!

Russian Blog Follower

Dear Russian Blog Followers,

I was checking my Blogger stats the other day and noticed you were gone! I became concerned, because I know some pretty tricky stuff still goes on there, despite what your media (and we know it's really the government, don't we? ) tries to tell everyone.

Did the government ban Slow Read To A Sunburn for some reason I don't know about? I even feared you had been jailed or something worse, sent to Siberia. (Have you seen Dr. Zvivago?)   I hope we don't have this problem with the Russian translation of Hot Cross Buns!

Alas, this morning's check shows you have returned.  PHEW!  That is a load off my mind, for sure.

And thanks for sendimg me the photo.  It's fun to see what at least one of you looks like.

Welcome back,

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Those Junior Leaguers Know Food

How many women does it take to...?

A lot.  It takes a lot of Junior Leaguers to publish a cookbook, including a very few women like myself who don't cook much and feel smug when they don't burn their oatmeal. No matter the project, the Junior League will find a chore for every member. 

Back Story
My mom was in the Junior League (Oh, and by the way, if your knee jerk reaction to the Junior League -- especially one north of the Mason Dixon Line -- is to roll your eyes or utter some weak slam about pearls and white gloves, well, put a sock in it.  Just wanted to get that out on the table. That would be a table rarely covered by white linen and sterling silver.).

Back to my mom, Weezie.  As a young bride married a few months after the end of WWII, she found herself transplanted to Corpus Christi, TX.  At the time, my dad planned to continue flying in the Navy. (Thankfully, like a lot of his plans, it was short lived. He left the Navy and they moved back to Spokane.) As my mom described it, the Junior League in Corpus Christi saved her from boredom and loneliness . (No kids, yet.)  Years later, when my older sisters hit that stage in life when they were moving all over the map, mom passed along her Post Corpus Christi advice: "If you end up in a town where you don't know a soul, you'll at least have the Junior League."

Not the most upbeat endorsement, but she was spot on.

Co-authorette, Judy, is proof perfect of mom's advice.  She'd moved to Spokane from Arizona and right after she called Comcast, she called the Junior League.  I'd joined up when I'd returned home to Spokane a few years earlier and realized I didn't know anyone in my hometown except relatives, who I love to death and who also happened to have been in the Junior League, but you know, ya kinda wanna shake up the friend base a little.

So, Judy and I, along with literally hundreds of other Junior League of Spokane members and copious other volunteers, end up working on the League's first cookbook, Goldn' Delicious. The project was a mother killer. How so many Junior Leagues around the world can have first, second and third editions of these signature books fillets the mind. After over a year of recipe gathering, testing of each recipe THREE times by THREE different testers, recipe selection, and then the whole printing process, I concluded the recipe for a best-selling cookbook is a couple hundred obsessive compulsive women who know food and do not diddle around with the word "can't."

As a noncook, my job was to shuffle through hundreds of recipes, put a bunch together for a meal comprised of at least three categories -- you know, salad, main course, dessert, etc., and get the things out to testers, STAT.

Dear god, do you know how daunting this task was for someone like me who is known to wear two different running shoes without blinking an eye? Matching up dishes that compliment each other? It had to be some one's idea of a joke. The Junior League calls these moments training opportunities.

I think Judy was a tester, meaning she was at the receiving end of weekly envelopes comprised of three recipes I thought might make up a cogent meal.  She cooked and she cooked. Her husband and son ate and ate.

Like a lot of Junior League projects, there were -- and I'm sure still are -- times when everyone just wants to run and not look back. But no one does! Interesting, isn't it?

We talk about food a lot in Hot Cross Buns, so when we learned from "People In The Know" that you're supposed to have words like "best seller" somewhere on the cover of your book. We thought of Goldn' Delicious. Go figure.

Thanks, Junior League of Spokane.  And good luck with the second edition! Oh, and thank you for introducing me to some very fine friends.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Patient Susan

Round one. And this is almost it! 

We have a cover for Hot Cross Buns!

Above you will find Round One in the cover design process. Looks good, doesn't it? You don't see big boo boos, do you? Nope, it looks perfect! Let's go for it. "Print it!" as they say.

Not so fast.

Never underestimate the pickiness of people -- in this case Judy and myself -- when it comes to "The Book" cover.

Patient Cover Designer Susan

Our friend and graphic designer, Susan Aldworth, has put up with us and copious changes. I'm thinking she does this (See above.) when she sees us coming her way.  I'm sure the middle finger is an unintentional gesture, but we deserve it.

And the front cover was the easy part!  As for the back cover, well, you'da thought we were writing a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize (Oh, and congratulations European Union!). But, alas, it also is finished, complete with commas taken out and put back in a half dozen times and adjectives changed no fewer than, ah heck, I lost count.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Localize Your Story: Check

A little localization

Word has it, from somebody, that authors should write what they know. If I think too hard about that my head hurts.  Hot Cross Buns is full of things I know absolutely nothing about.  I think Judy would agree.

But, and there is always a "but," places all over Spokane do in fact pop up throughout the book, including GEG, a.k.a, Spokane International Airport.  Shoot, characters have to get in and out of the city somehow. Plus, I've never been to the combo bus/train station so that wasn't an option. Judy is wheels up and wheels down out and back to GEG all the time.  Yeah, we know GEG!

GEG has been redecorated with ash and brushed chrome. There are more food options and it boasts the real stamp of approval, a Starbucks. But, one thing hasn't changed -- it's still small. This sign says it all. I love it that it doesn't read Gates A-D, Gates E-H ... well, you get the idea.  Nope, you walk in and there's only one way to go.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Would You Scoff At This Spine?

The Spine

Does it bug you but you can't figure out why?

As cynical as I have been about the travails of writing Hot Cross Buns -- remember, six years and ticking, I think I'm about to break my PBR (personal best record). 

Naa, the writing part was a pale pimple compared to the red, angry boil of proofing.

Case in point:  See the book to the left?  Yep, that's our book.  (And, yes, I think it is quite cool to have the real thing in our hands, finally.) 

Like most print project, the printer expects you to look for booboos.  They really want you to look at the cover, which includes the spine.  That's the skinny side of the book -- as seen to the left.  It's what people see on bookshelves. It's the part of the book that rarely gets dusty.

When you "judge a book by it's cover", you're often judging it by its spine.

Here's the problem.  See how the pinkish part of the spine fails to cover the entire spine?  See where the front and back covers kind of wrap around onto the spine?  THAT IS A HUGE NO NO! The spine must be one solid color, that is if you want to fit in with the rest of the kids on the playground, I mean bookshelf.

Here's another problem, it's a pain to change.  For Susan, our cover designer, anyway.

My question to you is would you buy this book with it's "out of uniform" spine? (Sorry for yet another Catholic education reference.)

Let me know soon, we need to get this back to the printer so he/she (it's probably an it) can get it DONE!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To The Blog

The Other Book

I'd love to write what I intended to write about this evening, but here's the deal. I'm in the middle of a really good book.  (Note photo.)

People In The Know are always saying writers should do two things:  1. Write (duh!) and 2. Read.

I'm doing the reading part tonight.

Anyone else into a "I can't put it down!" read?

PS: The proof for Hot Cross Buns arrived!  It is so strange to look at it as a real book, not just reams of 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper.  More on that later!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's Pray Time!

Me praying to St. Anges

For 12 years  (Catholic schools, you know.), I heard the word "sacrilegious". There was never any need to get specifics on what would be considered sacrilegious, it was just understood -- an omnipresent fear.

For those of you who went to schools that didn't include the word sacrilegious amongst its flash cards, here's a quick definition.  You cross the line on being sacrilegious when you are or act irreligious, impious, irreverent or unhallowed. Cliff Note definition?  You've ticked off god, or worse, a nun.

I think I was sacrilegious Sunday, which merits a double hex on me. But, I'm standing by my questionably unhallowed behaviour.

Judy and I spent a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon in the deep, dark depths of Gonzaga University's cavernous administration building. WE DOWNLOADED HOT CROSS BUNS! COVER AND ALL! We should have the book in our paws in the next day or two to proof.

I jokingly suggested perhaps the fact we were pressing the proverbial All Systems Go! button in one of god's schools might work in our favor.  Give us an edge, so to speak. (Sacrilegious thought #1 -- so to speaks don't have legs when it comes to the Catholic religion.)

Next, I not so jokingly suggested we go up to the fourth floor student chapel and take a photo of us praying for some HCB luck. (Sacrilegious thought #2 -- luck and prayer don't go together, or so they say.)

So what do we do? Of course, we grab our iPhones and head to the chapel. We go in the back way -- the part of churches Catholics hardly see today and NEVER saw before the 1970s.  There is a big stone table with some holy items on it like candles and most notably, a "Go Jesuits" baseball cap. There are big stained glass windows and huge wooden cabinets where the priests keep their holy stuff.  Immediately I realized we were in the "sub-chapel."  You see, priests have to say mass every day, even if they are the only person in the room. So, they have these backroom alters for such purposes.

I start to feel pretty iffy about the whole thing and very thankful there was a flute performance tweettering out in the main chapel.  I think we'll bag the idea. Not Judy, which meant we will commit our sacrilegious photo deed in a the mini-chapel. 

Judy, as I think I've mentioned, is not blighted by Catholic inhibitions.  She points to the front of a beautiful window of St. Agnes, tells me to kneel down and act like I'm praying (Dare I even pray for real?) -- sacrilegious act #1 (And believe me, there is a Big diff between thoughts and acts. There should be, anyway.).

I obey Judy 99 percent of the time.

So, there you have it... a prayer to St. Agnes that Hot Cross Buns will take flight beyond the hallow halls of Amazon.  We thought it would be cool if St. Agnes turned out to be the patron saint of Amazon, writing or something literary, but alas, after reading about her, I get the feeling she is the patron saint of playing hard to get. (Sacrilegious thought #3.) I'll let you do your own Googling of  "Agie."

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dear Yukrainians

Manito Park, Spokane

I just checking the stats for slowreadtoasunburn and low and behold, eight followers from the Ukraine are reading this thing! Maybe it's a book group?   

Dear Ukraine Readers:
This is a photo of Manito Park in Spokane, Washington.  (Look at a map of the USA -- any version will do, as our borders don't change much.)  See Washington? Okay, Spokane is to the right of Seattle.

I don't know if you found slowreadtoasunburn while looking for a recipe for hot cross buns, but welcome!  When you read -- I hope Amazon reaches the Ukraine -- Hot Cross Buns, the book not the recipe, you'll read about Manito Park on Spokane's South Hill. Isn't it beautiful?  A bakery named The Manito is one of many Spokane locations in Hot Cross Buns, again, the book not the recipe.

Anyway, when you read Hot Cross Buns -- Do you have e-books? -- you will find a recipe for hot cross buns at the very front of the book, although I think you'll relate more to the parts of the book relating to scones and pies.  Am I all screwed up on my religion/politics?  I didn't think you celebrated Easter, which is when Catholics snarf hot cross buns.  Why are you looking for a recipe for hot cross buns. Please send clarification.

My co-authorette, Judy, and I would love to meet you.  Do you have book groups?  Book groups are when a group of people pick a book to read and then get together once a month to discuss -- or not -- that month's book.  Unless you're at my home, the food is usually quite good, too.  No hot cross buns, though!  (Ha, ha!)

I hope to meet you after you read Hot Cross Buns. Wouldn't it be funny if we ate hot cross buns?


Friday, September 28, 2012

THE Library

Not the downtown branch of the Spokane Public Library

(The Library of Congress)

Hot Cross Buns now has a Library of Congress number to add to its chache of stuff that makes it legit.  Don't ask me what the hey having that special number means, but I know we fed a lot of information into a computer to get it.

I suppose we could have skipped over that step to find out what happens if you don't get a LOC number, but after six years -- now going on seven -- do we really want to step in that? I'm thinking my normal excuse for errors, (listed in order of usage) "I forgot." "Oopsie." "You don't say?"  "Who cares?" probably would not fly with the dudes and dudettes behind the big round desk in DC.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Find the Paragraphs


Humor me and watch this video.

(It's only a minute long.  We did this for seven hours.)
Ya really wanna know what it took for two of us to write Hot Cross Buns?
Well here ya go, an inside view of some of the really fun moments.  Oh oh, I sound cynical again, but I really mean it!  Days like yesterday were what brought out the best in our authorette friendship... a certain stick-to-it-of-ness interspersed with laughter. Heavy on the laughter.
Yesterday we were down to the wire, as in we were downloading (or is it uploading?) the guts of HCB to Createspace, which is supposed to put the book into a book.  We do the "On your mark, get set..." and holy crap, we press the button and all the paragraph indents vanish. I'm talking nada -- zip -- zero -- vamoose!

So what are ya gonna do?  We did what we've done at least a dozen of times over the past two years. You got it, one of us reads and the other puts it in the computer. We wade through 86,000 words.

Yesterday I got the reading end of the stick (Typically, I take charge of the computer, but no way was I messin' with this sucker at this critical point.) so I sat there reading the first word of EVERY paragraph of our 86,000-word book to Judy off my untainted version.  Judy makes the changes and puts them in the critical computer.

Now for the reward, you will notice by my video voice, the chore becomes a monotone drill (Judy isn't just clearing her throat repeatedly.), but every so often, the first words of every paragraph, when read at great rapidity, makes for funny blabber.

Consider it our first peak at the guts of HCB.  Well, at least you got some of the characters' names.

It was funny to us, anyway.  For the first 10 minutes.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

HCB Has A Cover!

Susan Aldworth, graphic designer and all-around go-to kind of gal.

Susan Aldworth, our graphic designer friend who has done the cover for Hot Cross Buns sent this ominous e-mail to me and Judy the other day:


Attached is the "final" proof. With all pictures doctored and text updated.

I have opted not to do a logo bug...Pennedpress in a san-serif type font
seemed more sophisticated alone than when the obvious pen art was placed
with it.

This pdf is suitable for printing on a desk top printer. Once you have
approved it I will create the various jpgs and thumbnails that you need.

This is serious you-know-what! And speaking for myself, I nearly had an accident in my big-girl pants!
I fully intended to download the cover, but Blogger won't accept the format I have, so the unveiling will have to wait until Susan sends me another copy.

Oh, and the photo above was taken about three years ago, when Spokane shut down because of an epic snow storm.  Susan, a Montana native, skied into work.  She's as talented as she is dependable.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Was Your Top Summer Read?

In less than 24 hours, the season of dock and beach books will close, which begs the question:
What was your favorite summer read?
What book did you sit on the dock or beach with this summer? When it was still a little light at 10 p.m., what book did you sit outside reading until the moths dive bombing the outdoor light drove you inside?
Okay, I'll go first.
Thanks to my book group, I discovered Shantoram. 
by Gregory David Roberts,
who is a scary looking guy who wrote a book about his dramatic, downright frightening life. When I was reading the book, I pictured him as being a skinny, kind of dweeby fellow. Wrong.
Weighing in at over 900 pages, Shantoram is the antithesis of beach reads.  (Hot Cross Buns ticks in at about 300-plus pages.)  Not only is it long, it's intriguing, complex and requires a good amount of concentration. The three-inch thick paperback I started in July bloated to a sun-yellowed, four-inch tome by the time I finished it. That's what happens to beach and dock books. Oh, and I also read a couple of 350-pagers -- legit dock books -- to rest my brain.
Okay, your turn.

Monday, September 17, 2012

If Only These Two Could Write A Book

I hope someday I can proudly wear lipstick on my teeth.

Meet Vivian and Marian Brown of San Francisco.  I don't know one from the other and I doubt many people do, but that's okay because their infamous twinship, along with their grounded personalities and not-so-grounded attire, is what really matters.
A quick backstory that was supposed to be the whole story for this blog.
Judy and I hauled ourselves to the San Francisco Writers Conference in February.  We spent a week at the la-dee-da Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill learning everything we could about writing, editing, publishing, agents, etc.  We were in the company of about 700 very published and some unpublished authors, agents, publishers and editors.  Our aspiration was to help Hot Cross Buns get some legs.

Yep, there are lots of stories to tell, literally and figuratively, but all are easily overshadowed by Vivian and Marian. The second I powered up my computer to banter a bit about the conference, I remembered the Brown twins. Time to shift gears.
About the third night into the conference, when they afforded us about 30 minutes to grab some food, Judy and I asked the hotel concierge where the nearest takeout joint was located. He didn't pause two seconds before announcing "Vito's."
So, Vito's it was. Judy and I blew the hotel fumes out of our over-conferenced lungs hiking three blocks downhill to the small, neighborhood Italian joint. We ordered our pizza pie to go and sat along a skinny walkway lined with chairs to do our waiting.
And then I saw them.  Vivian and Marion.  Despite the dark, this-is-an-old-Italian-joint lighting, the twins were impossible to miss. They were styling the exact same leopard print suits seen in this photo. Their deep, raspy voices were unavoidable as they paraded by us waving good byes to  everyone in the place but me and Judy.  Auntie Mame comes to mind.
Judy had just enough time to grab her iphone and steal a quick photo.  I think she got a blurry shot of a leopardskin clothed arm.
And then they were out the door. Gone.
Of course I Googled them. A twosome like this had to be known beyond the Sunday night usuals at Vito's. And yes indeed, various notices about them covered several Google pages. When I mentioned the twins to friends later, a few were quite impressed I had actually seen The Twins.
Needless to say, I had to use a photo of the twins in my blog. And of course I again turned to Google.  My search back in February produced a cache of photos of them wearing one their hundreds of matching outfits. Tonight, this topped my Google findings.

Iconic Brown Twins Face Life Apart

Sometimes I can be quite cynical. I'm pretty sure my report on Judy and Sarah's San Francisco Writers Conference Adventure would have been peppered with cynicism. But, this story about the Brown twins put a sock in it -- for now, anyway.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Misery Loves Company

 My New BFFs

(a.k.a. misery loves company)


After days, no weeks, of trying to figure out why your comments aren't showing up, I think I fixed the problem.  Don't ask me how.

In the process of trying to figure this thing out, I became a member of about four Blogger forums and have expanded my friendship base tremendously. Confused, frustrated people are quite friendly in their confoundedment.

Crossing my fingers, I again direct you to click on the Comment button. Next, it says "Comment as."  Identify yourself as whomever from the options they offer -- I think anonymous is safest. If you want to, put your name in the comment itself -- then click Publish.

Happy commenting!  (I hope.)

God bless forums.