My Pits Are Sweating

Oh dear, I just gave my book to a friend who for the past twenty years has been writing fiction, essays, poetry and editing and has been published. This is scary indeed. I don’t expect any editing favors from her. No pity judgments. Just give me the straight dope. I can take it–I think. She’ll be the first person other than my family to go over it. My pits are sweating.

On to the wedding. Remember the speedboat to which I referred? Last Friday I ordered a pair of shoes from (a nice cut-rate shoe site from which I got Liz’s bridesmaid shoes) to go with my dress. I expected them to show up in the next couple of weeks, but no: a big plunk on the front step at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, and there they were. And they fit! Hey, something went right! So they are the white kind that can be dyed to match the dress–but what do you think? Would that just be too matchy-matchy? Do I trust the shoe-dyer guy to get it right? And when would I ever wear light blue shoes again, attractive as they are? For that matter, when would I ever wear white shoes again? Certainly not after Labor Day.

Not much else going on. Liz’s 25th birthday was last Monday, and her dad and I got her what she most desired: the latest version of the Merck manual for veterinarians. I thought she was going to burst out crying, she was so excited. Man, that thing is fat, expensive and thorough. As Katie said, the pages were about as thin as the Bible’s. So it was a happy evening, even though I suspect Ryan, her BF, feels uneasy over the direction Liz’s life is taking her. To UC Davis? Back to Ghana? She has so many paths she desires to take; it’s quite exciting and gratifying for us to watch. I asked Ryan, wouldn’t going to Africa inspire his art? “No.” So that is that. I already dread the impasse this promises to bring.

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MOTB Has Arrived!

Okay, so it was only yesterday that I revealed the disgusting incidence of the miniature volcano in our kitchen, but I can’t wait for another three days to tell you : the MOTB dress has arrived! I apologize for the crack about the Chinese junk. They must have sent this over by speedboat instead, with it arriving at 9:00 a.m. this morning.

So you’re now saying, enough with the junk: how’s the dress?! (Frankly, if you’re not into this particular subject, you may as well skip it and wait for the next entry. I forgive you.) So it comes in this plastic bag so taped up I’m afraid I’m going to cut the dress opening it. I shake the dress as much as possible (not much) to the other end of the bag and make a little cut, just a little one to peek at the color. Oh god, let it be good–and it is! In fact, it looks a lot like the color of the dress the way they show it online:

Well, it’s not as crinkly as this picture, but this was the one they included in the bag, and I just now didn’t want to go upstairs and iron it. So use your imagination.

And inside, attached to one of those little loops that you’re supposed to hang the dress up by (I guess) is this cryptic little piece of (unironed) jotted-on cloth:

Okay, so where’s the part about the tits? I’m assuming it’s the B with squiggles, but heaven knows what all the heavy-duty details are that follow it (“Ha, ha, look at the nipple width compared to the waist on this one! This dress is SO not her!”). Just shut up and let me try it on.

And I do, and as my mom would say, “It fits like a glove.” Not only that, it fits like those latex gloves doctors wear when they don’t want to touch your body. Man, I can hardly breathe! You’d think they’d give you a smidgen of extra room, but not these guys. I’d better not drop my handbag, as I won’t be able to bend over and pick it up. As for dancing, I think I’ll be relegated to a lot of happy vertical hopping up and down.

I wonder if losing those two extra pounds would make a difference.  Or wearing my Spanx. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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A Small, Blackened Volcano

Did I mention last time that one problem with my manuscript (love that word) is that it was close to being too fat to fit into its cover? At least that’s what the iUniverse woman said; I find it hard to believe. But she told me about some guy who, because of its length, had to publish his book in two volumes. Well, I suppose that is just another way to spook some poor writer into buying more of their editing services. Not me, baby.

But I did decide to go through Grandmother Ruth’s entries and see what I could pare away. I admit there were a lot of “rain today”s and “It was a splendid sight”s that could be excised without any particular loss. So I spent the last few days doing some judicious slashing and burning so as to bring down the word count.

And I did manage to do that: 141,800 words down to 135,570. Why, that’s 6,230 unnecessary words outta there! Sounds great, right? Except when I brought up my computer’s calculator and did a little figuring, I discovered that all that effort, if you moved the decimals off to the left a couple of spaces, meant that, converting the figures to dollars and cents, out of $14.80 I would be saving 62 cents. Is that just sad or what?

But there are possibly greater tragedies in life. A couple of days ago as I was trudging upstairs, “which”s and “that”s awhirl in my head, I suddenly realized I was smelling some heavy-duty smoke. “Something’s on fire!” I screamed to Richard, who was downstairs blithely doing something that apparently didn’t require his nostrils. Rushing down, I discovered the kitchen in a cloud of white smoke which turned into billowing white smoke when he opened the microwave.

“What is it?!” I yelled, seeing what appeared to be a small, blackened volcano on the turntable. “Shortcake,” he said. Shortcake? The shortcake we’d bought at ZenFest and had frozen? Well, yes; apparently he’d decided to defrost some for a little treat and slipped a 3/4″-high wedge into the ‘wave.

Unfortunately, being the defrosting neophyte that he is, he’d set the microwave on for two minutes on High. To defrost a flat foodstuff made basically of sugar and butter?? Oh dear. The house was so filled with choking smoke and this strange burning odor that we opened all the windows and went for a half-hour walk. At least we could breathe somewhat once we got back. But it did make me wonder why the smoke alarm didn’t go off. Wouldn’t that have been exciting? Firetruck rushing to the scene of a small volcanic wedge of shortcake.

So, tragedy was averted; the house didn’t burn down. But my MOTB dress has yet to arrive. According to the shipper’s tracking info, it left Suzhou, China, yesterday and is due to arrive in ten to fifteen days. What, by Chinese junk?

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Bunloads of Money

So I get a call from the woman at iUniverse who is supposed to find out from me what I want to do with my manuscript next. Next? I thought “next” was formatting it, slapping on the cover and sending it out. But no. She wants to know which of their editorial services I wish to avail myself of. Hmm, so what would this involve?

First is the “Line Editing” service for “heavy copyediting” at a mere $0.029 a word. So let’s see now: 0.029 times 141,800 words equals = holy crackers! $4,112.20. Well, honestly, I personally don’t think I need “heavy copyediting,” as I’ve made an intermittent living at editing. And I only started out with the $1,000 package as it is.

Okay, so what are the other options? After an hour and a half of chitchat during which I learn that she is 5’4″ and has to sit on a phone book to see over her car’s steering wheel, she tells me there’s a category called”Author Assistance Editorial Services”–cheaper by about half. But after some quick calculations on her part, she says that “Editing Essentials,” which is the bare-bones service, will only cost me $2128. Some better, but here’s the kicker: you can only order “Editing Essentials” if you’ve already taken advantage of their “Line Editing” service. $6240.20: ha, ha. I suspect that some professional authors may not make that much in royalties on their own books.

Do these people want to help schmucks like me get their amateur writing into book form, or do they want to make bunloads of money? I wish I could say the former, but wouldn’t you agree it’s got to be the latter? Screw it; I’m taking my chances and going straight to “Formats.”

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“Nipple to Nipple”?

Kind of a lull here, huh? Well, no word from iUniverse except that they seemed to think I hadn’t sent them my manuscript. I had, though, which only serves to make me a little more nervous about the whole proposition. Or maybe I accidentally sent it to Leah or Kathi instead of Ann. But I always have my customer number in the subject line, so you’d think–whatever.

Wedding updates: I have received the glad news that the Saikesi Trading Company has finally shipped my MOTB dress to me directly from Fujian, China, wherever that might be. Let’s just hope I don’t get two. And let’s hope it fits; after all, they did request me to send them very precise measurements, and I mean precise. I mean, how more exacting could “nipple to nipple” be? Is that with my regular or Victoria’s Secret push-up bra? “Shoulder to nipple”? Egad. As for the color, as they always tell you, each computer tends to render color just a little differently from the other. But how bad can “blue” be?

Today was also “champagne punch fountain” day. Actually, it’s going to be a non-alcoholic punch fountain, although those recipes including rum looked pretty darned inviting. But we already have the champagne and the wine, so gotta have the punch for the teetotalers and AA members. But what to use for that punch? It doesn’t just appear magically out of the fountain.

So on to Google. Well, thank heavens for Right there, an intriguing-sounding recipe for a punch that requires a bit of almond extract. OK, I’m good to go for that; why mess around? Then there’s her “Get Out the Big Pots” link which gives you invaluable information like, exactly how much punch are you going to need? Better go overboard than run out, so let’s say enough for forty people. Her calculation allows 3-4 one-half-cup servings per person (remember, the wedding is at 2:00 on a May afternoon). Fine. We’re going to need about four to five gallons. Start saving those plastic milk jugs.

But wait: what about that recipe? It calls for liquids in the amounts of ounces, liters and tablespoons (the almond extract). Oh oh oh. Let’s see, a gallon is 128 ounces, a liter is 33.81 ounces while a tablespoon is .5 ounces. So for five gallons we will need, um, 640 ounces, and then the juices come in 46-ounce cans, the ginger ale in liters, and the extract–well, just one of those teeny bottles. Percentage-wise, that would mean . . . You know, I think we’ll just make it batch by batch. This is so out of my league. And you wonder why I never got to Algebra I.

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No Drugstores at iUniverse

Oh oh oh. I just finished submitting my book in final form to iUniverse. I am exhausted but mostly scared that I’ve forgotten something or made some grievous error. You know that feeling you get when you’ve been planning and packing for a trip for weeks, and you’re just freaked out that you’ll forget something? (“Mom, don’t worry: they have drugstores in Europe.”)

But then there’s that wonderful feeling once you get on the plane, strap on the seatbelt and feel that incredible G-force flattening you against your seat as the plane shoots into the sky? That feeling is one of relief, that you don’t have to worry about the packing business anymore. It’s rather like when you have company coming and you’re so glad when they finally arrive because then you can quit cleaning up the joint. So if it’s forgotten, it’s forgotten. No going back. If it’s something really important, you can always get one where you’re going.

But this is different. There are no drugstores at iUniverse. If I’ve left something out, made a mistake, it’s actually pretty difficult to get them to change things around. And then it will be in print, on paper, bound and out somewhere where some know-it-all can say, “Man, she went there, and she still doesn’t know the difference between ‘Chenonceau’ and ‘Chenonceaux?'” I guess it will never be as perfect as it is in my imagination.

And I haven’t even had anyone other than my family read it yet! All that business where authors ask their literary friends to mull over their latest effort and make astute observations? I did not do that. Why? Because I’m afraid it’s not good enough. I’m afraid of exposing myself. Real smart, girl. Just put it out there without any feedback so not just your friends but everyone who might accidentally pick it up can consider how dull/overlong/ill-written it is (“Goodness, don’t you think she went overboard with the photographs?”).

What have I gotten myself into? I think I’ll just go lie down and put my pillow over my head.

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Selling Brooms

Damn–still can’t find that Paul Theroux quote. Now I’ve skimmed the book twice, and further more, I’ve skimmed The Great Railway Bazaar, which I took to Europe, twice as well. I even skimmed over an Oliver Sacks book I read about his trip to Oaxaca to search for ferns (I know, what does this say about my reading habits). This is discouraging, as it is the single thing that is holding up my submission to the publishers.

I did Google “travel quotes” and searched through every site they listed to see if I could find the line. Now I’m thinking my chosen epigraph was in reality just a throwaway that no one latched onto, because there were quotations of his that were cited, as well as countless others by other renowned authors. I didn’t even look at them. I want this quote for my book.

However, I noticed an interesting thing: in all of those sites with all of those listings, none of them told you in what work the author had written the quotation in question. Hmm; maybe I can just go ahead and stick that line in there and not worry about which book it resides in. I strongly doubt that Paul Theroux will ever know about my book, and even if he did, I think he’d be pleased to think he’d written that particular line. Or maybe not.

Meanwhile, the wedding. We’re actually at a sort of lull right now, as all of our people (or “peeps”) are lined up. Now it’s details. Yesterday Katie and I went to Sequoia Floral, a wholesale/retail business down on the seedier end of Santa Rosa Avenue and were absolutely thrilled by the vast selection of cheap, Chinese-made glass vases to be used for the table decorations. Eight vases for $34! What a bargain! And we found out where all those glass vases for funeral flowers come from. I mean, wow.

I also did some editing for Kiva as well. First up was a couple from Cambodia. The husband made four U.S. dollars for a full day of construction work. His wife made four U.S. dollars a day selling brooms. And you think, but it must be so much cheaper to live there. Yet: they spent $60 a month on food and $55 minimum on other necessities. They wanted a loan to buy a motorbike, as they had no personal transportation.

And here I am just slapping down the ol’ credit card for $34 in vases. No problem. Yeah, it costs more to live here. But I’m not out selling brooms to make a living. Sometimes you just have to count your blessings.


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