Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shackleton, Still Speaking

My son Shackleton, who is 12, is doing the school play.  Rehearsal tonight was from 6 to 7:30 PM.  I was napping from 5 to 6 PM with the result that he didn't get any dinner (not from me anyway, he could have served himself but that's not happening).

Anyway, he had two things on his mind when he got home a few minute ago.  1.)  Money to buy a game on-line. 2.) Dinner.

As for the money, he needs my Paypal account and he knows I will say "no" unless I get some quid pro quo: work or some other form of sacrifice.  He came down the stairs shortly after arrival with a literal fistful of dollars - nine dollar bills and four quarters, to be specific.

Normally I charge him a user-fee, just to be discouraging but I was distracted by catching up with posts by my brilliant friend Lulu who got busy blogging again this winter without my noticing til tonight.  I was trying to read Lulu's posts while he stood there leaking dollars. I said I would make the deal and let him take $10 if he straightened them out - they were a mess, like Oragami created by a perverse and hateful blind person.  He said OK.  Then I made him tricolor rotini (from a box) with meatballs (from the freezer, but beautifully thawed in the Ragu that I pulled out of the fridge).  Then I got back to Lulu.  (She's a gourmet so I guess I'm noticing my poor standards particularly).

Just a few posts into my reading, Shackleton was back at my desk with his (almost) empty rotini bowl.  "First," he said, "one of the dollars fell into the dog water.  I took it out and it's drying.  Second, can the dog lick my bowl?"  (She barfs sometimes).

I said yes to the bowl licking - Maisy tolerates a little red sauce quite well.  And if I will eat from a bowl from which the dog has eaten, can I really object to a dollar that has been fished out of her water? Now he's gone for the night and I have eight dollar bills folded into my wallet but it looks like a lot more.  I'll add the damp one tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Get Out of My Way, Louisa May Alcott! Back Off Mark Twain!

And, at Number 8 We Have...

Really, I reverence Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain and Frances Hodgson Burnett but, my little book was (and is now, as I write) outranking Little Women and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Secret Garden on the Amazon best seller list for free kids e-books!

It won't last, of course, once the $2.99 price gets reapplied at midnight west coast time.  (Hurry!) And I'm not delusional.  (I know my real place vis-a-vis Louisa May and Mark - even though she's at 22 and he's number 14 as I write - I  couldn't fit them in the screen shot).  But the giveaway caught fire, oddly, briefly outpacing Catching Fire, from the Hunger Games trilogy which was also free this weekend and with which my book ran neck and neck for several days.

I can hear scoffing, I might scoff myself.

Why get excited about giving away something for free?  Who cares about the competition between free books?

Fair enough, but that competition is fierce, publishing being what it is these days.  There are thousands of downloads available for free at any given moment.  And, more important, as I have said here before, it's always been readers that I was seeking, first and foremost.  I only hope that the (to this moment ) 3,500 people who've downloaded the book these last few days will like it.  It's not lost on me that I am outranked by several books at the moment that are not famous, including Polar Bear's Big Adventure at number two.  Although I'm sure that's a fine book.

Anyway, if you downloaded a copy or bought a paper back, or will go do download one now, or if you have told a friend - or kept your mouth closed if you read it and hated it (the good reviews were surely a big help) - I thank you.  A moment in the sun with Louisa and Mark is not something I will soon forget, brief as it is likely to be.


Here's one more screen shot that my Dad took for me about an hour after I posted this yesterday.  Note the position of Up, Back, and Away in reference to that Hunger Games trilogy book, ahem.

By the time the Giveaway ended last night nearly 4,500 hundred copies had been downloaded.  Now it costs $2.99 again and the magic is gone.  I picture it plummeting in the best seller ratings the way Ian-McKellen-as-Gandalf fell with the Balrog.  But I'll always have the screenshot...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happy Birthday, Little Book.

Today's banner is a painting by John Constable, courtesy of our own National Gallery of Art.  It is better than the view from the Last House, although that's pretty good too.

It reminded me of some of the things that inspired me to write the book that I have been going on about over here, and on the book-specific blog, for a year now.  Specifically, the beauty of the England of our imaginations.  And I never saw a picture of spring that I liked better.  I hope it gives you the same happy jolt it gave me.

I'm reflecting on this snow day at home about this last year and my experience with the book.  I just posted this over on my other blog, and I hope that any stoppers-in here who haven't already gotten a copy for themselves will do so now.  Here's that post, which is also up on my Quartersessions blog.

It's been just about a year since I approved the proofs for the book, or, as it loomed in my life for so long, THE BOOK.  While it wasn't actually available for sale until April 15 last year, I figured I would give tax  deadline day a pass and start a little early.   Also, I'm thinking of this as a celebration season rather than a single day.  I plan to have a collection of essays and stories available later this month as part of the festivities. I'll tell you more about that soon.  In the meantime, the e-book version of Up, Back, and Away will be free to download on your Kindle or Kindle app for five whole days starting tonight, midnight west coast time. (That is, March 14 to midnight March 18).

Somehow, despite the nearly solid year of the book being available to you, gentle reader, I remain obscure, not rich, not famous.  Still. I have so enjoyed this year of having a book to share with the world.  It has added a new and fascinating dimension to my existence and I have been gratified that so many people have been kind enough to tell me that they liked it.  (Or to forebear from telling me that they didn't like it).  I was able to travel to England last fall in what I thought of as my Up, Back, and Away pilgrimage that gave me the chance to see in person so many of the places I had researched for the book.  I will look back with fondness on this period to the end of my days.

I hope you'll join in my little celebration by going to the site in your own country (the download should be available worldwide) to  get your copy. If you've downloaded one previously, or bought the paperback, get busy reading and tell me what you think - at least if you liked it.
I'm also going to be giving away some paperbacks over on Goodreads.  Look to your right and click away if you want to come in for a chance on those.

Thanks again to those who have reached out to me or commented kindly online.  What I had hoped for most was readers and when I am finding those, I'm happy.