Friday, August 31, 2012

Hey Gustoff, Read This!

I happened to check the geographic locations of slowreadtoasunburn readership.  I get the U.S. ones, but the United Arab Emirates?  (By the way, Emirates is one of my favorite words.  I just like saying it.  Tutelage is another. I never did find a way to fit them into Hot Cross Buns.)

Then there is Australia, Russia, Japan, China, France, Philippines, Germany and the Ukraine. If the Cold War was still cooking, I'd guess the Russian KGB was attracted to the blog for possible torture ideas.  I mean really, nothing hurts more that a blistering sunburn.

I think these geographically diverse people are fascinated by the concept of dock reading. Bet they don't do much of that in the Ukraine. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012


A lot of people have mentioned they've submitted comments to slowreadtoasunburn but they aren't coming through.  Try this:  Where asks you to "comment as," just click on anonymous. Maybe that will work.

Unless, of course, you have mean things to say, in which case just keep doing what you're doing.

Now, move on and read yesterday's blog.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Quite Like Hemingway

The title of this post is a twist on my friend Mary's ( Not Quite Hemingway collection which consists of curious if not idiotic writings (purposeful or accidental) she stumbles upon.  For example, "Singing for the Hearing Impaired" stands out as a typo-ed headline for what should be "Signing for the Hearing Impaired."  You get it.

To make myself feel better, I'm grabbing a thin, frayed thread of similarity between Ernest, Judy and me.   Believe me, I know we "not quite Hemingway" in the literary sense. And you can add lifestyle, faithfulness, etc., to the list.

But we -- Judy and I -- do share one thing with the old pen master. That is our choice of writing chairs.

Ernest's writing chair in Key West where he wrote really famous books (and  pickled his liver)


Look closely, and you will see a straight-backed, rattan seat chair at this little writing table of Ernest's in hid pad in Key West.

Now, check this out!

Chair in Spokane in which Judy and Sarah sat and edited forever editing Hot Cross Buns

Look closely and you'll see a straight-backed wood seat chair! Yep, quite Hemingway!

It's a small similarity, but a similarity none the less.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Portrait Of A Good Dock Book

Fresh off the dock.

Any book worth its salt -- or fresh water -- should look like this one after no less than an hour of reading by the water.
Note on the left side, the initial wilted pages. Don't let this slight crumpledness disturb your read. The right side of the book represents a a slightly more progressed stage of dock book authentication.
Only when the entire book is twice the size it was when you purchased it, do you have the real thing.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Self in Self-Publishing

Holy crud!  Judy and I have hit the thick, mucky part of Hot Cross Buns.

We met Tuesday to go over the business grit of self-publishing. These photos accurately portray how we're approaching this left-brain activity.

Judy working on business stuff, as in, she has a checklist!


Me working on business stuff ... but mostly wondering if the kid outside is going to rip off my bike and whether or not I need another Coke.

Yup, we're going the self-publishing route, which real bookheads say is THE way to go.  We walked toward the bright light of self-publishing at the San Francisco Writers Conference this spring.  At some point during the three-day marathon, we were in a ballroom at the Mark Hopkins noshing on rubber chicken listening to this really famous editor (to everyone in the room but us) inform 600 writers and 200 agents that going through an agent is dead... or at the very least fighting for one last literary gasp.

So far, we've found that perhaps the most notable part about self-publishing is it sucks the life right out of the fun memories we have of writing the book.  At some point Tuesday, and this is true -- Judy said wistfully "Oh, if we could just be writing the book still."

Yes, it is that bad.

In case you can't tell, Judy is taking the lead on the business end of things.  She is very business-oriented and can concentrate on things like ISBNs, business licenses, bar codes.... blaaa, blaaa, blaaa.

Me, not so much. When it comes to business stuff, my eyes glaze over like doughnuts at a church social. I'll stick with the writing and fun stuff like book covers, thank you.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dock -- Urp -- Books

It's mid August here in the Inland Northwest and it is hot.  Hot has been knocking on 100 degree's door everyday for a good couple of weeks.

Around here, dock books are as popular as egg nog at Christmas. 

Alas, I am forced to divulge the one drawback to dock reading. It's no secret, really. Anyone who has read a book on a floating dock knows first-hand what this innocent yet potent drawback is.

The urps. Nausea. Yep, strong hurling potential.

The thing is, lakes, especially some of the big lakes around here, can get rough.  Sometimes the wind roughs up the water and choppy water can cause floating docks to rock to and fro. But, more often than not, the wave causing culprit is....

@#%&#!! Boat Traffic

I received a text from my friend, Christine, who is up at Priest Lake with her sisters enjoying the family cabin this week.  She reported getting urpy reading on the dock and being driven to the beach in search of her equilibrium.

I felt Christine's pain.  Over the past couple of weeks I, too, have been driven from the dock while reading just so I don't urp.

By the way, Hot Cross Buns will make for a great airplane book, too!  How's that for spin control?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Judging A Book By Its Cover

Six years ago, a cover photo for Hot Cross Buns was remotely referred to in sentences like "If we ever finish this thing we might want to put a cover on it."

I for one, never anticipated we'd be looking for a cover photo that speaks 1,000 words for Hot Cross Buns' 80,000-plus words. But, alas, it happened.

The book cover event  began last spring with a photo shoot. The term sounds a lot snazzier than the actual event -- for us, anyway.  Simply stated, we punted.

Book cover participants included Judy's mom, Nancy; our friend, Lynn: my brother-in-law, Joe; and cousin Katey. 
(HINT: Remember the shoe fetish blog (July 15)? These people were recruited for their shoes.)

Judy's sister, Cindy, from Minnesota willingly signed on as photographer and graphic designer Susan Aldworth as art director. Charley, Katey's wee son, was there for moral support. Oh yeah, and there were enough hot cross buns and coffee to nourish a small nation. Cam Magnuson allowed us to invade her Rockwood Bakery for a few hours of finely executed mayhem.

It went a little like this:

"Mom! Heels and yoga pants? I can't look."

"Oh,  sorry.  Spoke too soon."

Coffee? Lattes? One hot cross bun or two? Crumbs? No crumbs? Knife? No knife? Napkins?

Tidy buns? Not-so-tidy buns?  "Are you kidding?" "No!"

I know people judge a book by its cover. At least I do.

The only book I didn't judge by its cover is the bible, which by the way, is a very cool read!  Especially the old testament with all those begets.  If someone had put a cool cover on the bible I probably would have read it long before my 40s.

Which reminds me, yet again, why it took six years to write Hot Cross Buns.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

In Synch

Some people make everything look easy.

And what the hey is that ribbon twirling, prancing around, toe-pointing gig anyway?

Okay, I'm sorry, but I'm done with the Olympics. However, before we get back to REAL reality TV,  I must direct you to a sport I find utterly captivating. Correct, synchronized swimming.

Why synchronized swimming?  Because (Insert tongue in cheek here.) it is reminiscent of the way in which Judy and I felt at times while writing Hot Cross Buns

For example, sometimes we just didn't focus as well as these two Spanish gals.

Focused Spanish Gals

And sometimes we found ourselves writing in two very different directions.

"Whoa! I thought we were going to..."

And very often, we mistakenly thought our writing was going so well. Why, we were nearly walking on water! Then we'd take a breath and realize, dang, we're underwater! Time for a rewrite.

Authorettes walking on water. Well, maybe?

But, more often than not, we were incredibly focused.  Almost as focused as these poka-dotted swimmers.


And the most constant similarity between hydraulic gymnastics and writing Hot Cross Buns? That we'll get this response?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Kind Word. We'll Take It!

You may think this reads like fan mail among members of the Mutual Admiration Society, but  don't rush to judgement.  When a Real Writer says something about you, the fledgling writers, we're thankful. Real Writers are stingy with their accolades. Very, very stingy.

Molly Cook (Tutelage. July 12) is a Real Writer. How do I know this? She lives on Whidbey Island, for god's sake. From what I can tell, Real Writers in Washington state live on Whidbey Island or travel there regularly for seminars and cool gatherings in funky coffee/wine shops and stuff. And you know what else?  Molly's a published author. Booya!

To quote from Molly's blog:

I’ve just heard from one of my writing students in Cheney, Washington (a scintillating hot spot if ever there was one) who has co-authored a novel six years in the making. She let me know I was mentioned in the blog she and her co-author have just finished. The blog is hilarious and so are the two women who write it. I can’t wait to read the novel. The mention of me (June 23) leaves out all the laughing we did in the classes and later over coffee now and then. I can only say to writers who want to blog about their work, take a page from this one and don’t take yourselves too seriously. I’ll be checking this blog often. You’ll laugh and you’ll also learn a few things about putting a novel together. Enjoy! (Note to Judy and Sarah: Thanks for the plug and a reminder about that funky old house – Egad!)

Catch Molly's blog!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Summer Elvis Died

Video Precedes Book!

Remember a few blogs back I mentioned Hot Cross Buns started as a learning experience for Judy and myself? (Translation:  We were doing a lot of thinking but no writing on our individual sure-to-be-ingenious books, so why not grease the skids a little by writing one together.)

Get this, the video of Judy's still-in-the-hopper book is out!

If you can't tell from the video, Judy's book is based on her summer as Waterfront Director (I'm capitalizing the WD because she always sounds authoritarian when she mentions it.) at the Shining Mountain Ranch (for girls) near Sula, Montana.  It was 1977, the summer Elvis died, as if you need reminding.

This finely narrated (Dare I call it arty?) piece, provides a sneak preview of the volumes of book fodder still stuck inside Judy's head.  The video, like most of Montana, is a little rough around the edges, but the narrator skillfully maintains a continuous dialogue with her scrapbook throughout.  Amazingly, this rarely used cinematic style is somehow captivating. In just over three minutes, we know exactly why wealthy east coast families sent their daughters out west for some cowboyin'. Aren't you just itchin' to know what happened to Tex?  And yeehaw, what about them cowboys?

I like to think Hot Cross Buns will end up being more than just a book or video...  but perhaps even a memory, as in " Remember that book we read...? Can't remember the title... Can't remember the plot... but I sure remember wanting to eat the hot cross buns on the cover!"

Saturday, August 4, 2012

What's In A Name?

Buster... Charley?

Naming a baby is hard.  Well, believe you me, so is naming a book!

Charley here, had a prebirth moniker, Buster, thanks to Grandfather Clay.

Buster was changed to Charley, pronto, at birth.

Our novel had a prebirth name, too, The Manito. 

The Manito was changed to Hot Cross Buns pronto at a writers' conference.

The Manito... Hot Cross Buns?

Okay, you might question the audacity of likening the naming of a tyke like Charley to an innanimate object, but the two experiences are linked in research. I am not making this up. Really. 

I'd consider Buster a kind of working title for Charley's gestation period.  The Manito was the working title for HCB.

 (Factoid: Manito Park is 90 acres of park on Spokane's South Hill. We're talking formal gardens -- including an authentic Japanese garden --ponds, play fields, picnic and natural areas. It used to have a zoo until all holy heck broke loose one time and some animals had the audacity of acting like animals and mamed a few people, which even in the early 1900s was considered an insurrmountable negative marketing hit.)

I know Buster/Charley's parents, Tom and Katey, gave the naming of their first child serious thought. That's probably why they wisely opted for Charley over Buster. It also sounds like they followed the advice of Terri Marie's Six Keys to Choosing a Title for Your Book.

We didn't.

Here's Terri's efficient six-step guide.
Preamble: "What matters is what YOU feel when you read the title." Is Terri yanking our chain?  Apparently not.  Read on.
1. Write down all possible titles.  (We didn't do that.)
2. Consider how you feel when you tell others the title of your book -- Pride? Fear? Tentative? Stupid? You want to feel like a proud mother or father of this "new baby" so give it the best name you can.  It will have it the rest of its life. (We didn't do that.)
3. Research Amazon. You don't want a name that will get lost.  (We didn't do that, but I'm pretty sure the only other Hot Cross Buns out there are recipes.)
4. Pick something intriguing, yet clear. (We didn't do that, but we may have lucked out.)
5. Ask yourself, does the title help the reader be a better person (What the....?) because they want to strive for a higher life.  (We didn't do that.)
6.  Sum up the book in one sentence. (We didn't do that until we had to.)

Terri offers this parting advice:  When it comes to down to it, go with your gut. Give "your precious baby" a beautiful life in the arms of hands of readers who will love it too. (I HAVE GOT TO MEET THIS WOMAN!)  (We didn't do this, thank god.)

Here's what we did:

When Judy and I were asked to "share" the title of our book at a conference, we did and received a room full of blank faces. The Manito was not a hit. Since Judy and I both respond to stress with our finely tuned whit, we blurted out "Well we almost called it Hot Cross Buns!  (Yuck, yuck.)

We barely got the words out of our mouths when the comference leader blurted "That's your title!"

So much for Terri's six-step program.