Thursday, November 21, 2013

And So It Continues

Southside Hastings. Circa October 2013

It's been over a year since Hot Cross Buns hit Amazon, bookstores and book groups. The above photo kind of says it all...  Yes, I need a hair cut, but more important, Judy and I are still out there with our "I dare you to write a book" book.

I'm thinking our next tome could be a profile on book groups. We've certainly researched the topic. If we combined the book groups we've visited this year into one crowd, we'd have ourselves a congregation -- a church!.  It would be a church high on good food, drink and  laughter, yet low on pretty much anything biblical unless the read was the book.

Back to the photo.  Aside from book groups, we've also dabbled in events like the one Hastings hosted last month.  They invited local writers to come and sell their books. A great deal for us, right? A face-to-face with shoppers. It is very kind of Hastings to do this for the locals.  At this particular book meet, Judy covered the first couple of hours and I two-wheeled in after sneaking in a bike ride -- hence the Under Armour and helmet hair -- to cover the second half.  Judy sold books.  I didn't.  Thing is, I got all sidetracked talking with other writers and even wandered away into the store for a few minutes.  That is not how one procures book sales.

Lesson learned, it is probably a good thing Judy is doing the big Auntie's Bookstore event Thanksgiving weekend.  I will be out of town, and I can tell Judy is okay with thit. I think I might be the sales associate from hell. A friend of Judy's visiting from Seattle will go with her and probably do a lot better than I would.

Yep, give me book groups any day.  I get those people, never mind they've already purchased the dang book.  The audience is captive and so am I.  And I know better than to wander about some unknown host's house. Nope, there's a stick-to-itiveness book groups require that suit my short attention span and manners.

In the meantime, let me know what you thing of the church idea.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Off We Go To P.E.O.



P.E.O. threw us a curve ball the other night.  Wait, no, they threw me a curve ball.  Judy had previously experience a P.E.O. group I couldn’t attend to talk about “the book.”

(Remember, we wrote Hot Cross Buns, which is coming up on its first anniversary? I now-- almost facetiously-- call it The Book That Won’t Go Away, which really torques Judy but I can’t help myself.)

But back to our P.E.O. soiree.  P.E.O., has always baffled me. I know a lot of women who are members, but no one will ever tell me what P.E.O. is.  Well, if the intent was to keep the goings on of P.E.O. a secret, Google blew the hubcaps right off that pinkie-finger, do-not-tell promise.  Alas, even Google  wouldn’t cough up what the letters P.E.O. stand for, so the organization scores on that matter.

Cliff Note definition:  It kind of reminds me of Junior League minus wine and a ton of food.  They do an incredible job supporting education and even have a college of their own, Cottey College.

They have a logo: See above

I think the logo could use a little updating, but hey, it works for them.  Plus, you can be buried with your star which I guess members  get upon joining.  You can also have it put on your headstone.  The Junior League doesn’t give you anything to pack for your trip to eternity and I’ve never seen a headstone with “Junior League” on it. P.E.O. scores again.

They have some interesting founderettes, but this woman kind of caught my attention, and scared the hell out of me.   Meet Arabella:
Iowa Wesleyan is not only the birthplace of P.E.O., but it also graduated the first woman licensed to practice law in the United States, Arabella “Belle” Babb Mansfield. Belle later became Founder Alice Bird Babb’s sister-in-law when Alice married Belle’s brother Washington Irving Babb in 1873.

Notable P.E.O. founderette, Arabella "Belle" Babb Mansfield
(a.k.a., Arabella Don't-mess-with-me-or-I'll-pull-your-socks-up-around-your-ears Baab Mansfield)

So, I show up with Judy at my inaugural P.E.O. meeting.  My big, erroneous assumption was that the attendees had read the book.  As it turns out, Judy and I are “The Program,” of which P.E.O. has at every meeting.  No one had read the book.

As it turns out Judy and I are really good at improvisation. Just read the book if you don't believe me. We also only had 30 minutes.  It took us six years to hatch this book so it’s only reasonable to assume we need more than 30 minutes to talk about it. We rolled with it.

We ran with the educational angle -- how the hey two people write fiction together and how we self-published. Will we write another book? We went over our time limit and most of the ladies purchased the book.  Hopefully, they will follow my instructions not to share their books and insist their friends buy their own.

Once we finished, I was kind of hoping they would just continue with their meeting while we hung around – plus, I think dessert was on the agenda – and I could learn more about P.E.O.  But no such luck.  We were politely, and with much appreciation for the appearance, ushered out the door.



Monday, July 29, 2013

And The Winner Almost Is...

Finalist: A contestant in the final part of a contest, a.k.a., HCB

I'd like to say I've been too busy sitting on my can in a dock chair reading dock books, but I haven't. The upside? No sunburn.  A foot issue has kept me in the shade.  I know, I should be enjoying my summer reads in a shaded hammock, but I argue a dock book can only be fully enjoyed while read under the threat of water damage.
Anyway, look what showed up in the mail the other day?  A chunk of metal!  Turns out HCB was/is a finalist in the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group INDIE Awards.  I received an email a couple of months ago informing me HCB was a finalist in the romance category (We've decided to stick with the romance category because Judy and I still don't know what category HCB really fits in.). Attached to the email was a certificate. and being the cynic I am, I dissed the for framing purposes certificate. The mostly ignored email also carried information about the fancy booklet of finalists and winners being sent to "important people," as well as an invitation to the annual INDIE conference in NYC where we could meet said "important people."
Well, dang, if this piece of metal didn't prod me to read the fine print.  Turns out there was/is but one winner and four finalists in each category.  So, statistically, HCB did damn well!
The real bummer, the conference was at the Harvard Club!  Now that, would have been cool.
Lesson learned:  Do not poo poo any congratulatory emails regarding HCB.  Publishing Clearing House, yes, book people, no.

Friday, June 7, 2013


My Coffee Spot and Seller of HXB

First a brief backstory, or maybe mostly backstory.

See the Atticus sign above?  It's a fabulous shop in downtown Spokane full of fun incidentals and best of all, the most savory coffee in town  -- in my humble opinion, anyway.  As is happens, the proprietors, Kris and Andy Dinnison, recently purchased the midcentury modern home next door to the house I grew up in on the South Hill.

I covet their lives.  I would give at least ten toe nails to live in their house, and I remind them almost weekly I want to work in their warm, friendly and gifted shop.  Yes, I want to be a barista, sooner than later.  John, the main barista (baristo?), kick starts my day with a mild-mannered greeting or sometimes a slight yank on my chain, oh and a great latte. No head phones or screaming coffee orders here.

But here is the really cool deal.  Kris just had her book purchased by a publisher!  Yes!  

Okay, I couldn't ask her the title because I'm supposed to know it already, but it is coming out in October!

PS:  Check out the shops small but pot-of-gold book section! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Famously Indie We Are. Almost

Indie Book Award Web Page (placed here only because I just learned to copy and paste web pages)

The term "Indie" is thrown around a lot these days in the world of writing and publishing.  Thus far, I have been able to do my Oh, yeah, Indie, sure. Indie. I know about that. when in reality, my brain is squinting because I don't know what the hell Indie means.
I'm usually quick to grab a dictionary.  It's a Catholic school thing.  Well, really it's an I want to sound somewhat literate thing, but with Bill Gates' built-in dictionary -- as weak as it is -- I've gotten lazy. I needed a real definition fast so to Google I went and then to the sure-deal source of solid info... Wikipedia.  Hey if it's good enough to get the Pentagon's undies in a wad, it's good enough for me. 
So, Indie is either a rock found primarily in the UK or a synonym for independence.  I'm going with the independence definition.
Independence works better with Hot Cross Buns being named a finalist in the 1913 Indie Book Awards. The independent part means entries had to be self-published. There were four finalist and one winner, who I frequently call The Butt Head.
We were in the romance category, again.  Remember the Amazon Break Through Awards when we made the cut from 10,000 books to 2,000 and were beat out in the romance category by a book that had the word slut in the title?  Yeah, well, we stayed with the romance category because HXB doesn't fit historical nonfiction or other well-defined categories.  (I'm starting to visualize our little book going to a party and never finding a group where it fits in so sits in a corner by itself, but maybe that's just me parlaying my personal life on HXB.
The 2013 book award season has come to an end.  Since I do better with athletic references, I'll sum up our performance with this:  We had a clean entry. The sluts just came in a little stronger in front.

Friday, May 17, 2013

On the Road, a.k.a., North of Francis

Rowboats, Firewood, Music, More Firewood... and Hot Cross Buns

Note to reader:  The following is written as a first effort to look at a computer screen while under the malaise of a mild concussion.  Judy says to quit riding bikes.  I say shad-up to that.
Judy took Hot Cross Buns on the road a couple of weeks ago to Darvill's Bookstore on Orcas Island.  (Note above flyer.)
Her trip -- one in which she sequestered herself in the nongovernmental way to get some serious writing done on her book -- marked our first time we've taken the HCB road show north of Francis.  For those of you unfamiliar with Spokane, Francis is the east/west street that forever has delineated the North Side from the South Side of Spokane.
Look at the map, Orcas is north of Francis and west a few hundred miles in the San Juans.  Inroads to Spokane's North Side are trickier to maneuver than others.
Oh, and Judy's most remarkable authorette insight after spending five days writing full time?  It takes a hell of a long time for one person to crank out 15,000 words  Her book will be out in 2040.
Note to reader: Whoa, my head is starting to hurt!
Meanwhile, I went waaaaay north of Spokane to Colbert on the Little Spokane River.  South Hill  people -- where HCB is based -- whine about how far away the North Side is.  I swear it only took me 30 minutes to get to my destination.  And that was driving Division Street, a.k.a., A Little Bit of Hell.
Judy was out of town, so I flew solo on this one.  It's hard to talk without being interrupted or interrupting.  We've gotten so good at it.  The balance just wasn't there but then Cindy, the hostess AND Marycliff HS friend, served up a dinner of meatloaf, mash potatoes, green beans, salad and cinnamon bread pudding.  I was good to go.
Later that week, Judy and I travelled north again to another full-meal-deal!  We were back in our groove. Interrupting each other, that is.
I've lost count of the number of book groups we've visited, but no one book group is the same.  There's probably a book there somewhere.  It's probably been written already.
Note to reader:  My head is pounding and this is an exceedingly boring blog.  I have good photos of my injuries, though, that I will share later.  Sorry  Judy.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Not Your Mother's Junior League

No Robert's Rule of Orders Here!

When Judy said we were scheduled to yack about Hot Cross Buns and the writing adventures of Judy and Sarah at a Junior League of Spokane meeting I kind of felt sick.

Note:  Judy and I put our time in with the Junior League.  I met some of my best of friends there (as my mother said I would when I moved back to Spokane in the mid-80s), including Judy. Yes sir, we worked -- excuse my language -- our asses off!  There were rummage sales, golf exhibitions, countless committee meetings and the infamous General Membership Meetings that often ran late into the night. Alas, I did become a pro at Robert's Rule of Order, which is something everyone should know whether they like it or not.

So, yeah, I was a little taken aback at the thought of communing with JLSers about Hot Cross Buns at "a meeting."  And then Judy patiently explained "No, ignance, they have a book group."

And I'll be damned, they do!  And there isn't a fund raising or training twist, just good company and fun. One thing that hasn't changed?  JLS gatherings always promise good food. 

If this book group is any indicator, it seems to me JLS is re-inventing itself.  Yes, it's still a crack training organization, but guess what?  They seem to be -- for lack of a better term -- balancing the load.

"Have fun." is not in any Junior League bylaws.  Back in the day, we found fun folding rummage for hours and hours at the fairgrounds or tending a two-year load that was the golf exhibition. Basically, we were like cheap dates.
There is no way Judy and I could have found time to write a book AND do Junior League.  Our plates was full enough with the cookbook.

I wonder how many current Junior Leaguers were tots when their mom were active members and decided "No way in he-double-hockey-sticks am I doing what mom did!"  Lesson well learned, I say.

Keep having fun!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Please, Throw Me A Bone!

STILL messed up foot followed by...

checklist for visit to dermatologist

Yes, I've been horribly remiss about Slowreadtoasunburn.  I'd like to blame this condition on  lack of activity surrounding Hot Cross Buns, but I can't.  Judy and I have been on a constant run to book groups.  We even got our taxes done, but more on that another time.
I've been absent from the blog for one over-arching reason followed by a subset of others.
Attitude would be the over-arching reason.  The one parked on my shoulder is about the size of a 1960s Buick. See the above for the subset. 
I do not do well when I can't ride my bike, run or otherwise recreate.  Just ask Judy.  Why do you think it took six years to write the book?
The second photo?  It's a first cousin to the first one.  I like to be outside all the time. Always have.  Always will.  Alas, this hankering to be outdoors -- along with my Irish gene pool -- has prompted every six months visits to have god only knows what burned, frozen and cut off my carcass.  So, while some people pick their nose with boredom, I absentmindedly preen myself looking for carbuncles Dr. Hsu can hack away at.  And I keep a list of what I find.  I have gotten so efficient.  I also like to think it's helpful to Dr. Hsu, too.
So, tell me if I'm wrong, but if you put the foot and the derm list together, would you not feel a little pinched?
The one good part to this otherwise whiney discourse?  I'm finally sitting down to read HXB!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Point One Percent Effort...

Hot Cross Buns in box in car.

Early on, as in when it became pretty dang clear Judy and I would be self-publishing HXB because the 60-plus rejections notices from potential agents were depressing the he-double-hockey-sticks out of us, and we learned self-publishing is THE way to go, I told Judy no way was I going to peddle books around in the back of my car.

See above photo and laugh at me.

For the first time since late October, I have a box of HXB in my Toyota.  And I'm not talking about the tasteless pastry you'll be chowing on tomorrow.

Anyway, while I opted to do the fun stuff involved in push HXB out into the world, like blog, Tweet, and go to book groups and readings, Judy took the bit in her mouth and has done 99.9 percent of the distribution/business work required.  The photo above is the point one percent of my distribution effort and thus worthy of  a photo.

Thanks, co-authorette and happy Easter.

Oh, and take tomorrow off.

And one more thing.  I'll drop these at the Coeur d'Alene Hastings this afternoon.



Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hot Cross Buns, Literally...No Pun Intended

HXB Anyone?

Judy and I ventured to another book group this week, and take note of the photo above.  Friend and hostess, Mel, shared some HCB love with a plate of HXB...THAT NO ONE ATE!
(NOTE:  HCB = the book. HXB = the bun)
The untouched buns conjured up a new item on my list of preoccupations -- when was the last time I consumed a HXB?  (Don't scoff, this kind of thing can spin my head in about 10 different directions, from why I don't eat more hard boiled eggs, my grandma's Easter lamb -- in shape only --  cake, to my recent craving for carbs and the validity of "reduced fat" in reduced fat Wheat Thins.)  
Anyway, how would I know and who cares when I had my last HCB? But since I'm on the topic...
My guess is it was before my taste buds became fully developed and connected directly to my brain which by that time understood the concepts of free will and fear.  At some point, I discovered the only part of a HXB bun worth eating was the sugary cross. I freely indulged myself. Then, at yet again some later point, I realized one risks going to hell if one licks the cross off all the buns, thus rendering them inedible for others.  (As if others wanted to eat them, right?) 
Alas, there was a much deeper, spiritual issue at hand reaching way beyond bun wrecking, which in itself is maybe a venial sin, and even that's a stretch.  (For nonCatholic readers, venial sins don't send you speeding pass go and directly to hell when you die.  You just simmer a spell in purgatory.)
You see, when we talk about HXB, we're also talking Easter, the holiest of holiest times for Catholics and others of christian persuasion. Crosses are a HUGE deal during Easter, as is rising from the dead and what not. And we all know the cross preceded the rising part. You get my point.  I'm no fool, the last thing I wanted to do was mess with crosses during Easter season (Yes, Easter is a season, just ask a nun if you want to check my references on this or anything else for that matter.). 
Oh and I may have mentioned this before, but the only difference between a HXB and a teething biscuit is the texture.
I'm no closer to answering the original question than when I started.  Imagine that. Now you're a little closer to knowing what it is like to live in my head.
But hey, thanks, Mel!  The buns were a great exclamation point to the gathering!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Somewhere On A Beach In China

A good spot to read HCB and practice walking on water -- body to body

As you must recall, Hot Cross Buns is a beach/dock read.

And the stats today say Slowreadtoasunburn has four readers in China. 

If you see them, tell them thanks for reading and to keep their water wings close at hand.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Why Of Course I'll Sign...

I sign on demand.

Thank you Mrs. Phipps for requesting a signing of Hot Cross Buns at Jess Walter's book signing.  I was a little forlorned that the line of book signers for Mr. Walter's wrapped around Auntie's Book Store twice.  You cheered me up tremendously.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh Those Catholics And Their Uniforms

Time for a uniform change, Ben.

Before I get to the meat of the pending uniform change for Pope Ben, his shoe situation in particular, I'm wondering  whether or not the guy tapped for the pope job can turn it down.  Can he say "Hey conclave cardinals, thanks for the offer, but I need to pass on this one.  Being god on earth isn't my idea of a wise career move." 
Or, back to the topic of concern, dare he say "Hell know, I'm not wearing red shoes for the rest of my life!"
The shoes.  I've mentioned previously my shoe fetish (The Importance of Shoes, July 15, 2012).  I selected shoes for most of the characters in Hot Cross Buns. So, it should come as no surprise I've been curious about what Ben plans to wear when he leaves his little red pope shoes behind.
I wore a uniform through grade school and high school and when I hit college, I was excited, but also a bit nervous.  Uniforms eliminate a lot of hassle most people face at the dawn of every week day.  Until I was 18, the biggest conundrum I faced every morning was whether or not I'd wear blue, grey or white knee socks.
But really, now, Ben has been god on earth for the past few years.  Surely he has a game plan.  I mean, god knows everything, so Ben must know what shoes he'll kick around in during retirement. 
And he does! I read about it the other day.
Yep, Ben is going to retire to his rehabbed Vatican gardener's home wearing a pair of sandals he picked up on a trip to Mexico.
Brown shoes, to be exact. Way to shake it up, Ben!
These Huaraches immediately came to my mind.

A well-worn humble Huarache sandal?

I like these.  They're something Jesus might have worn, as did half the world population in the 70s and 80s.
Or will Ben go for  something a little sporty from the Huarache line?

These might be best for the prayerful garden walks.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pick A Seat, Any Seat

One can never be too early for a book reading, said Clay. 

Word on the street last week was Spokane author Jess Walter's book signing at Auntie's Bookstore would be standing room only.  The local alternative newspaper even said "Everyone in Spokane will be there."  or something like that.
Walters was scheduled to read from is new book of short stories.  

Everyone was pensive.

Okay, that's an exaggeration.

Clay was pensive.

Now, Walters is a very good -- and popular -- writer, but I suspected the press on this was a little over the top. Maybe a titch of Spokane going gaga over a local writer done good?  I also lean toward the idea that even god would have a hard time drawing a huge crowd if he/she were reading his/her short stories. But, the buzz was such that strategy would come into play if one wanted to secure a good seat at Walters' reading.
That we were able to park less than a block from Auntie's on a Friday night should have been the first tip that we were probably assured a seat.  Then again, one never wants to under estimate the mayhem short story fans might spark.  Surely, an hour lead time would provide an adequate cushion.  Maybe others bused it downtown so they wouldn't have to fight traffic?

Tip two: Huh people weren't covied up at the door. Just a few book shoppers leaving with purchases in hand.  Inside, a few people mozied around like people do in book stores.  No one's ever in a hurry in bookstores. Even if they are in a hurry, people in bookstores always look like they're just killing time.

Not us.

Clay and I walked purposefully toward the back of the store where Auntie's hosts its well-attended readings. (Thankfully, Auntie's held our Hot Cross Buns reading upstairs, where a small crowd of 30 can look impressive.) I suspect we looked like sprinters to the other amblers.  Out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a waiter setting up wine glasses, which should have been tip three that the surge of attendees might still be far off shore, but we pressed on.

And then we turned the corner. And there was the crowd.  Almost a hundred of them.  A hundred of empty chairs.

(See the guy on the right in the photo above? Well, he wasn't a threat. He's the guy who handles used books at Auntie's and was just trying to close up shop for the day).

So, now our worries shifted dramatically from "Will we get a seat?" to "Where do we want to sit?" which is an almost more cumbersome worry.

Like a guy trying out Lazy-Boys in a furniture store, Clay kicked the tires a bit and we settled on seats up close but not so close we'd appear overly-eager. Two friends were meeting us, so now we were forced into that awkward position of, yes, saving seats. 

I don't know about you, but I hate saving seats and I don't hold seat savers in high regard -- people who spread clothing along a line of chairs for their god knows who.  But save chairs we did.  (I was okay with it this time because one of our friends, Jerry, was still 30,000 feet midstate on his way home from Seattle.)  Between us, we had two coats and my gloves --just enough to claim four chairs so we could go have a beer at the restaurant next door.

Despite being told no fewer than 10 times by three different waiters there would be refreshments served at the reading, we planted ousrselves down for a well-deserved rest and then return to Auntie's. And what pride we felt to see our four little seats buried among the standing-room only crowd.
Score one strategy.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Who Needs A Calendar When A Small Bladder Will Suffice?

Back to Auntie's Bookstore we go, I was reminded.

At my place of employment, I freely exercise my cynical tongue about how many calendars we all have these days. Correct, too many. You got your smart phones, Outlook, day timer books, desktop blotters -- which I use for doodling -- unsightly magnetic stick-to-the-fridge things, and the list goes on.  But just this morning, I added yet another one to the list -- Mother Nature, a.k.a., my bladder.

You see, I drink copious amounts of water throughout the day, as is the habit of germ-a-phoebe's.  (And isn't it ironic how we suck down water all day in order to flush gluck from our system so we stay healthy, yet as a result, spend a lot of the day in the most germ-infested room in the building?)

I was exiting a bathroom "stall" for about the tenth time this a.m., just as a coworker was entering another stall.  Just as her stall door shut, she stuck her head out and said, "I hear you're talking at Auntie's tomorrow night."

I had no idea what she was talking about, which is a frequent occurrence for me and one for which I am normally well prepared.  Typically, in this situation, I look at the speaker with my refined I-have-no-idea-what-you-are-talking-about-but-I-am-not-going-to-let-you-know-that look, at which point the person usually says something that gives me some hint of what I should know but don't.

Not this time. Nope, all I could offer was an astute "I am?" 
"Yeah, you and Judy are on Auntie's events site -- you're talking about how you wrote Hot Cross Buns together," my work cohort explained. "I'm going with my son."

I be-lined it back to my desk, Googled Aunties' Bookstore, scrolled to Events, scrolled further to Feb. 20, and low and behold there it was at 6:30 p.m., a little ditty about us talking to the Inland Northwest Writers Guild about our "harrowing experience" getting HCB published.

Judy assured me we agreed to this engagement way back when we had our HCB reading at Aunties' in December.  Heck if I know.  I was so sick I hardly remember December.

But back to my point.  I may have no fewer than five calendars, but what kept me on course today?  Mother Nature and its timely call.  

Yes, it the mind-wandering string of thoughts that help explain why it took six years to write HCB.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Take This, Sister Lucine!

My BVM Star

I'd like to say I'm way above taking pride in winning any sort of award, but here's the deal.  In second grade, Sister Lucine and pretty much every nun I encountered during the subsequent 10 years, purposefully prayed (no pun intended) on the titch of competitiveness I might have floating about my gene pool. 

So, when Amazon announced today Hot Cross Buns made it through to the second round of its 2013 Breakthrough Novel Award competition, yes, I felt a little bit swell.

The primer to recognizing my competitive spirit went like this.  In second grade, Sister Lucene had a little cut-out of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) for each student pinned up on a board.  If you attended weekday mass, you got to put one of those little shiny paper gold stars on your little BVM's white skirt.  There was some sort of prize once your BVM's skirt was all gold covered.  The prize was probably emptying the garbage can after school because at Catholic grade schools rewards involved work. 

Weekday mass, expect during Lent -- by the way happy Ash Wednesday!-- was not a big deal in my house. (By the way,we didn't have any sort of sports or nonspiritual competition. Nope not us. I think I would have done better in nonspiritual stuff.)

Anyway, I never got to empty the garbage cans after school.  Hardly ever got to clean the chalkboard, either. But, that didn't mean I didn't notice my BVM never had to be replaced with a fresh BVM because its skirt was too star laden.  I think I might have gazed wistfully at my little BVM and it's yellowing white skirt.  I may have decided someday I'd have a star-studded BVM, damn it all! 

Thus, thank you Amazon for this little gold star.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"Yes, We Know Her."


This is Josie, at least I think that's her name.  It's the best I could decipher between her bouts of tears and nonsensical, raspy-toned ramblings.

She lives about 14 blocks down the South Hill from The Manito and all the beautiful tree-shrouded streets in Hot Cross Buns. However, she is moving further up the hill, albeit foot by foot.  Last week, she trundled half a block south up under the I-90 overpass between Third and Fourth on Wall Street.  For weeks before that she was perched on a Third Avenue sidewalk closer to downtown Spokane between a pizza place and fast food market/adult video store.

At least now she has a roof over her head.

I wish she'd moved just another half block south where she'd benefit from the sun, but moving just half a block could not have been easy.  God only knows how long it took Josie to move her copious number of blankets and tarps, radio (Thank you Red Cross.), paper towels and cleaning fluids hanging from one cart handle  -- a sort of utility room -- and most important, her chair, half a block.

Anyone traveling along Third saw Josie.  I've heard a lot of "Yeah, I've seen her." Josie and her mobile ranch-style home were hard to miss. Now, I worry she's not as visible in her new location.  The "location, location, location" mantra applies to the homeless, too.

So I feel guilty for offering chocolate chip cookies when I stopped to visit the other day. Good god, why I didn't take something healthy? And what did Josie do?  She immediately offered me a pastry from a clear plastic container commonly found at supermarket bakeries -- not at all like the scones of HCB. "Only three left," she said, like she didnt' want me to miss out on a tastey treat.  I declined, but was relieved to know I wasn't the only dim-wit to present sweets rather than substance.  And then I felt guilty I probably declined the pastry offer more because of my germ-a-phobic personality than reluctance to take food away from her.

It's easy to see Josie as one of those people whose fallen off the grid. For all I know, Josie never was on the grid. I doublt the crack would have to be to large in order for Josie to fall through it. The thing is, she hasn't. Not entirely anyway.

It shook my tree a bit talking with Josie. She became very real, not just a dramatic magazine or newspaper feature story.  I left feeling pathetically helpless and righteous. Something needs to be done for Josie!

And then I spoke with a women at Transitions.  She had kindest voice in the world.  She let me speed banter about Josie's location, my concerns about edema, etc., and when I finally shut my yap, she said  "Yes, we know her."  She didn't have to say another word. Her voice said it all.  It said Josie doesn't want help.  Josie always leaves.  Josie won't stay on her meds. The woman's voice was full of concern and compassion and experience, not a lick of criticism.

And so it goes.

Maybe I'll take Josie a copy of HCB, if only for her to get her feet a few inches off the concrete

Thursday, January 31, 2013

For The Birds

So what if it isn't Paris.

This is what happens when I'm stuck inside, wheezing, sneezing and set on coughing up a lung.
My normal attention span of a gnat gets even shorter.  Its tether is cinched up tight on my wind pipe, but good.
I'm supposed to be penning something or other about Hot Cross Buns, but seem to have a problem getting down to it.  First of all, I don't have anything to say about HCB.  Bless it's paper bound, Kindled heart, there ain't nothin' about HCB in me today.
But, the pigeons!  They have my attention.  Here's  how the day(s) played out.
These grey birds, who Parisians drop kick around town on a daily basis, have kept me company all week.  Try as I may to work from home, answering e-mails, mostly (Aha moment: Work = e-mail.), this flock has captivated me for hours upon hours.  You see, they've encamped on the roof of the Roosevelt, my urban dwelling, and I live on the top floor, so that makes us neighbors.  They've pooped on my windows. I don't mind. Downtown Spokane's winter city-scape is actually enhanced by their droppings.  Shakes up the drab landscape a little.
So, when I'm not flinching each time they swoop to and from their digs just above my windows, I look at their grey against grey silhouettes.  Once I reach complete detachment from work stuff, I tried to get a picture of the little piggies (endearingly pronounced pijjies).  Prior to this jail-house take, I knelt on the floor, iPhone posed upward, ready to capture a wheels-up shot.  You'da thought I'd never seen a dozen pigeons take flight, I was so patient.  So I knelt. Nothing happened.  I banged on the window.  Nothing. I opened the window and hollered. Nothing. Then, I realized I very likely was going to attract the attention of the ever-so-slightly-a-bubble-off people in the neighboring building who just might ask me over for coffee or meth or something.
I approached another window.  I only had to move one it-takes-two-people-to-move chair to get this photo.  And this is what I got.  What the ????? 
Okay, it's not much of a photo, but is does have that grey Paris pigeon look to it, don't you think?   I thought so.  It also reminded me of my junior year in college, when I went to Paris to see my friend, Carrie.  Of course I had to dig out the pictures...
Thanks, pigeons. We killed another day. 
And again, I'm reminded why it took six years to write HCB. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Steppin' Up


HCB (top center) with neighbors.

Hot Cross Buns has found a new hood in the General Fiction section of Aunties -- and Hastings!

Now, this may not seem like a really big deal to you, but to a book, it is an event -- a chance to hang with the big kids.

Since December, HCB has been hangin' in the Local Authors section at Auntie's.  If you haven't visited the LA section, do.  There's a smattering of every type of authoring, all by local authors. It's part of what makes Auntie's a great place. But, the thing is, you don't exactly trip over the LA section when you walk in the front door.  You do trip over the General Fiction section. I think People In The Know refer to it as "placement."

So, in the last week or so -- and I don't exactly know why -- HCB got moved up front to GF.  As you can see (above), it even merits one of Auntie's "New" signs!  I liken this to flying up from Blue Birds to Campfire, or Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts (or whatever Scouts do), or novitiate to full-fledged nun, or, well, you get the idea.

Make no mistake, the competition is stiffer here in the GF section. Case in point, look who is right below us!  Same thing at Hastings (below).

Yep, we're stylin' now!

We'll definitely have to keep the yard tidy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


"Sarah Porter" On Amazon

If you search Sarah Porter on Amazon, you not only get Hot Cross Buns (Remember?  The book I wrote with Judy?), but you also get Sarah Porter's Leg Lotion, which is even cooler than the fact you also find Cole Porter's Song Book. 

It may not seem like a big deal that Hot Cross Buns comes up fourth among an Amazon Sarah Porter search, but come now, think about how much stuff  -- all of which has a name attached to it -- is on Amazon! Millions!  And I'm not just talking books!  I'm not sure, but I think you can buy dogs on Amazon.  (Note to self:  Try to find the oddest thing you can buy on Amazon.)

Oh yeah, to be fair, the first thing that comes up is some other Sarah Porter's books (Yes, bookSSS.), The Lost Voices Trilogy. You go you other Sarah Porter!

Back to the Sarah Porter's Leg Lotion.  This is potentially big and may make working on HCB for six years REALLY worthwhile.  Catch this. It is January.  A dry, parched January.  Dry as in my skin feels like someone crammed my body into a pair of panty hose fit for a toddler. My skin looks like this:

Crepe Paper, a.k.a, My Skin

In no way am I sucker for fancy pants creams for whatever ails ya.... even skin that by age 70 will be draped around my ankles like droopy crepe banners the day after the big party, but when Sarah Porter's Leg Lotion popped up right above HCB, well, I see it as an omen.
I'll keep you posted. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

RIP Vivian Brown

Marian 'Brown On Her Own

Just about a year ago, Judy and I were at the San Francisco Writer's Conference, swimming upstream among hundreds of wanna be published writers, a plethora of already published writers and some dang picky agents.  Yeah we learned a lot.

But, the single best part of the laborious week was seeing the infamous San Francisco Brown twins, Vivian and Marian. (If Only These Two Could Write A Book, Sept. 17) We didn't even know they were SF landmarkettes when we ran into them at Vito's their regular Sunday night haunt located just the hill from our hotel.  After we got home, people applauded our twin sighting.

They were a two woman parade.

The Twins
I've been bird-dogging these two all year. This fall I read the twins had been separated for the first time.  Vivian had to leave their small, one bedroom SF apartment to live in a care center.  Alzheimer's hit.  There was talk of finding a way to get her home but the curse of so many elderly today, affordable health care, tapped even these two firecrackers.  Nope, Marian wouldn't be able to bring Vivian home, so she set a new trap line and each day visited her si

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Whoa, Now! Cyber Book Group?

That's me, the computer sitting in the chair. 

Lordy lordy, I have met Google Hangout.  Now, that was weird.
In case you don't know, Google has this Skype type program that allows people to "hang out" cyberly.  Friday, my cousin, Coleen, who lives on Orcas Island -- as does a covey of other cousins -- had this swell idea:  I'd "hang out" with a bunch of her friends she'd invited to her house to talk about Hot Cross Buns.  Me and her cyber hip daughter (as in she at least knew this Google program existed) spent a good hour early Friday evening getting the cybernautics working. 
And then I spent a good chunk of Friday night waiting for the girls on Orcas to call me to hang out. The open-ended scheduling was my call. If I was going to sit in a chair on a computer screen, I wanted these women to have a few slugs of vino in them before we attempted the experiment.
I wish I could have been so booked Friday night that I had to turn down this awkward book group session. I wasn't and I've learned to live with this.  My biggest worry is I'd be off changing laundry loads when they called.
Anyway, they called.
I'm not sure who had the stranger experience.  I mean really, look at these women hunched over peering at my 6-inch by 6-inch face. Oh, yeah, you can't see my face.  I rest my case. Now, picture me sitting on the floor of my place (We got the best lighting if I was on the floor.) looking at my computer screen, which looked like a black screen with two bright lights.  I was talking to a black hole. I could no see a face.
Oh, yeah, and you're wondering where Judy was.  It was a last-minute deal and SHE had plans for Friday.  Buh,
 I flew solo.  I have two traits that make flying solo a not-so-great-idea.  I easily slip into the mode of having the attention span of a gnat. Also, if pressed, and believe me, I felt pressed, I will babble about anything I think is interesting.  Screw the people I'm talking to. (Hey, jump in and take charge of the conversation, but until then, I'm going to babble.) Cyber book group appearances provide the perfect storm for both these characteristics to go wheels up on me.  I was off and flying. It is really hard to read a crown when you can only see shadows and a couple of bright lights.  Bob Hope would have a hard time with this group.
Oh, and then there is the whole thing about seeing yourself at the bottom of the screen.  I'd like to think I don't gaze at myself in the mirror for long periods of time, but shoot, there I was, bobbing my head around playing with the reflection of my glasses.  Good god.
And then I spotted a dust ball under a table I was sitting near.  Of course I immediately interject midsentence, "Huh, I have a dust ball on my floor!"  And from what I recall, that's the most interesting thing I said. 
BTW:  The live bookgroup visits are a blast! 
Cyber?  It needs refining.
Lesson learned,.