Friday, October 30, 2009

It's Friday, Do You Know Where Your Books Are?

My books were supposed to be ready by Wednesday or Thursday. I waited impatiently until Thursday afternoon to email the printer as to their whereabouts. "They are printed and in the queue to be bound and trimmed. I hope to have these ready by tomorrow." Again I am reminded of the similarities between birthin' a book and birthin' a baby. "Oh, you'll have this baby by Thursday, for sure," comforts the well-intentioned OB/GYN. Easy for him to say, he wasn't carrying the elephant around on his bladder. And the baby had no intentions of coming on Thursday. Why don't these people just say it will be another week, and then when you get the delivery early you can be happy about it?

In fact, I don't need the books by today. But that's beside the point. I want them today. I wanted them yesterday. The sooner I can get a book into the hands of my local bookstore, the sooner I can convince her that my book is worthy of her limited shelf space. Because I have my first book signing on November 8th during the Old Webster Christmas Open House, and I'd love to be able to tell those who don't purchase the book that day to shop at her bookstore for it.

On another note, my birthing coach, AKA Bobbi Linkemer, suggested (strongly, I might add) that I should be blogging about my writing and publishing experience. The topics just don't fit that well with this blog, which is mostly for fun, or with my house history blog, which is mostly to help other people discover the history of their homes. And they certainly won't fit on my MOG Blog, dedicated first to being the mother of the groom and now to being a mother-in-law. So, it is with some trepidation that I announce my new blog, Write Formation ( We'll see how many of these I can keep up with.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All the Leaves are Brown...

It's been raining for a year, or so it seems. Today's weather was perfect for taking my boobs out and having them pressed. After all, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Believe me, I was very aware of my breasts at 9:00 this morning! But the dreary weather couldn't keep me down as I headed from the slammogram to Starbucks to meet with a new friend of mine. Anne Collins Milford was introduced to me by a mutual friend from my writing class. Anne has co-authored the book "How to Marry the Wrong Guy". The book has been so successful that it has been picked up by a traditional publisher. Anne was kind enough to spend some time talking to me about what they did right as well as wrong with their first book. I came away with some new ideas on how to publicize my book. And I left Anne with a few stories about a woman in my life who repeatedly marries the wrong guy. Turnabout is fair play!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Mom

I feel like a new mom again. Though hopefully this new baby won't cost as much as the other two! After months and months of labor (okay, so it was an elephant pregnancy), I finally was able to pick up a bound copy of my book yesterday. It is just my proof copy, but it looks like the real deal, color cover and all. One of the benefits of using an in town printer is that I can pick things up instead of waiting for them to be shipped to me. One of the downsides is that this printer is not located in the best area of town. A six foot high fence surrounds their property, complete with an electronic gate to keep the unsavories out. The gate was open when I arrived as a delivery van had just pulled into the parking lot.

Once you pass that hurdle, you must buzz at the door and state your mission in order to be allowed entry. After picking up the proof, I was afraid I had come to the Hotel California - "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave". I couldn't get out of the parking lot. Assuming that the gate operated on a sensor, I drove slowly towards it. Several times...I'm probably on a YouTube video somewhere. Fortunately I spied an employee around the side of the building taking a smoke break. When I asked about the gate, she said she would come around and let me out. She had to punch in a code for the gate to open. All of which made me wonder if I was supposed to park on the street in the first place. Sure, protect your employees but let the paying customers fend for themselves.

The first thing I noticed about my book was that the colors were off a bit on the cover. I couldn't quite put my finger on the problem but it just didn't look right. When I compared it to my printout at home, I could see a bit of difference in the color scheme. I know that what I see on my screen, what my designer sees on her screen, what my printer produces and what a professional printer produces can be four different things. I emailed my designer to see if she wanted to take a look. She definitely did, so I drove it over to her house. Actually the printed cover looked much closer to her screen than mine. But she agreed there was too much red on the cover. Ah...too much red, that was the problem.

I contacted my production manager today and explained the issue, and he said he would talk to the art department to see if they could handle the color change. If not, my designer would need to send them a revision. Fortunately, the gods were smiling and it was fixed in-house. I got a revised cover emailed to me this morning, and I gave approval for the printing to proceed. I should have all my babies by Wednesday or Thursday of next week! Does that make me a centuro-mom?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Peeing in Prague

Prague is definitely the most fabulous city I have ever visited. Virtually untouched by any war or natural disaster, walking through the city literally takes you back in time. It didn't matter what our destination was, because everywhere we walked led to exclamations of "Oh my God, look at that!" or "How beautiful!" The architecture is stunning, and the building embellishments are just unreal. It was like walking through a fairytale picture book.

There was one thing that pissed me off, pardon the expression. You literally have to pay to pee. Now I'm not one of those women of an age where the little lady embossed on the bathroom door has to pop off and discuss my "going" problem. I normally have a bladder of iron. But there's just something about knowing a bathroom isn't available that makes you have to go. Even some of the restaurants we ate or drank at required additional compensation if you wanted to use their toilet. Ridiculous! With tourism down 30%, you'd think they would be doing everything they could to encourage us to buy more drinks! I really envied the two little boys whose mom simply pulled down their pants and let them water a tree. Oh, to have the right equipment...

So I found it extremely ironic to come across the statue of the peeing men. You can't tell from the picture, but their hips undulated left to right, enabling them to pee in a curve. Nothing like the sight and sound of men peeing to make you have to go yourself. I think it is a ploy to drum up additional crowns for the local toilet!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Off the Road Again

We are back from an 8 day vacation with our son and daughter-in-law, and we had a wonderful time. Because plane tickets were so expensive, I decided to cash in nearly all of our frequent flier miles. After all, who knows how much longer American will be servicing the St. Louis area. They barely service it now. We had to fly to Raleigh, NC to catch our flight to London. Seriously...people in Raleigh can fly directly to London, but St. Louisans cannot. Unbelievable... Anyway, from London we met up with Andy and Megan and flew first to Berlin. For us, three flights and 16 hours later, we arrived in Berlin. We couldn't check into the hotel until 2:00 p.m., so we left our luggage with the bellman - oh wait, there wasn't one. Instead we stuck our luggage into an overflowing closet next to the reception desk, and headed down the block to a Starbucks. Sad, but true, and we all needed caffeine.

Following checkin, we strolled down the street of our hotel. Really a boulevard, Kurfurstendamm boasts stores with the names of Gucci, Luis Vuitton, Chanel and Porsche Designs. I suddenly realized I had not brought along enough euros :)

I have to admit that Berlin was not on my list of top 10 places to see before I die. I'm guessing I'm not alone in this because we saw very few tourists other than those from Germany or surrounding countries. At any rate for me I guess that is mostly because I really enjoy seeing centuries old architecture more than new. But Berlin surprised me in many ways, seeming to take great care in mixing the old buildings (the few that survived heavy bombing in WWII) with the new. The city has some very interesting architecture. Taking the bus or U-Bahn around town, we were able to hit most of the places on our "must see" list in the two and a half days we spent there.

On the 4th day we boarded a train bound for Prague. It took us about 4 hours and for a lot of that time we could have been taking a train across Missouri for all that we could see out the windows. Once we reached the southeastern part of Germany, the train traveled along the river and there were some beautiful bluffs on the other side. We arrived at the Prague train station after dark, and it was a scary place to be, at least at night. We could see a group of men huddled together in the dark off to the side near the exit of the station. Little did we know, those were the cab drivers. They are unlicensed and unregulated in Prague, so you take your chances. Following a harrowing ride to the hotel, we arrived only to find that the hotel only had one room reservation, and they were sold out. It's now 8:30 at night and we don't have a room. Once the desk clerk realized that it was his hotel's error, he quickly lined us up with two rooms in a hotel within their consortium, arranging for a car and driver to pick us up. It was on the other side of the Vltava River, and I think we actually ended up in a better place for the same room rate. After that shaky start, we had a fabulous time in Prague. It is everything I had heard and read about, and much more. Vertually untouched by any war, the area has kept its historic buildings in place and for the most part new architectural design has only been done outside the city. It is a very walkable city, albeit hilly and a little more difficult to travel with its sidewalks and roads made of cobblestones. We walked our legs off for the two full days we had there. I definitely could have used one or two days more in this location. Language was not an issue, the people are very friendly and almost all the menus were in English. My only beef (pardon the pun) is that you have to pay to use the public bathrooms, sometimes even in the places where you dined.

Leaving a beautiful place is never easy, especially when the alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m. to send you on your way. We again flew with Andy and Megan to London, where they headed off on their way to D.C. and we took off for Raleigh. Unfortunately, our flight left 45 minutes late, which caused us to miss our connection in Raleigh. Going through customs delayed us enough that even an O.J. Simpson run through the airport would not have enabled us to catch the flight. Yay - an additional 2 and a half hours to sit around the Raleigh airport! We finally got home about 8:15, which was really 3:15 in the morning for us. Was all of this worth it? Definitely - it was so nice to be with the kids for a week since we don't get to see them that often. But next time I'm finding a destination where we can fly direct!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Tomowow Jim and I are leaving flying to Berlin to meet up with Andy and Megan. Actually, we will meet them in London and fly to Berlin with them. We are spending a few days in Berlin, then taking a train to Prague for a few more days. I'm sure I will have lots to blog about when I get home!