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.