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."