Want Books?

TL;DR summary: for the next couple of months, if you want one of my books in paperback and don’t like shopping on the ‘Zon, buying direct from me will be the only way to get them. WHICH YOU CAN DO! Just contact me by email or through the site contact form. Or come to Indy Pop Con where I’ll be in June, or visit Printers Row in Chicago the same weekend (my books will be there but not me) or…well, you get the idea.

Anyway. I digress. Onward to the rest of the post.

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I’ve gone to a bit of trouble to make sure my books exist as real, “ink-on-paper pages wrapped in nice, pretty paperback covers” BOOKS. Books with real publisher logos on them and everything. Ones you could order from bookstores.

Well. Until recently. But not at the moment.

At the time of this post, my only paperback printer/distributor/retailer is Amazon.com. That’s a temporary situation, but one I felt you dear readers should know, just in case you might be looking to purchase a book or four from your local independent bookstore in the near future.

Beginning this summer, Ingramspark will become my primary book printer, and Ingram LightningSource will be responsible for distributing my paperbacks to print book markets.

So. There’s a switchover process. Changes are coming down the road, and that means bumps in the road. So. In the meantime…

Why start with one company and move to another? Well, now. There’s a story.

(of course there’s a story.)

Back when I was getting started in this writing & publishing gig, I seriously doubted  any humans outside my immediate friends & family circle would want Real Live Paperbacks of my stories. It was simpler (by FAR) to let Amazon handle print distribution to book retailers as well as the orders made through their site.

I mean, it wasn’t like people were hammering down the doors of their local retailers to get my books, nor was I retailing books myself. Easier just to have one-stop setup for al things book. So that’s the path I took. Least-resistance routing.

Welp, on the meandering road of life, I’ve come ’round to the same intersection again, and this time, I’m going down the road not-yet traveled.

Simpler never meant better. It didn’t even mean cheaper. It definitely didn’t mean superior quality control. So, for those reasons and more,  I’m maintaining an Amazon print account for Amazon sales only (should any more Amazon orders of my books ever occur) and moving all other paperback ordering and brick&mortar distribution needs to another company: Ingramspark Lightning Source (No, I do not know why they have such an unwieldy moniker. I can understand why they go by LSI in most situations.)

Now. A disclaimer. DO NOT IMAGINE THIS CHANGE MEANS MY BOOKS HAVE SUDDENLY BECOME POPULAR AND/OR LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE CLAMORING TO BUY THEM. That would be inaccurate. Wildly inaccurate.

Wrong, even.

I’m investing the time & money in this setup with Ingramspark because things have changed a LOT in the 5 years since I first did a print edition–both on my side, and the publishing side. Ingramspark always had a lot more to offer than Amazon, I’m at a point where I can handle that more-ness, and Ingramspark now offers me an incentive to make the jump.

They used to charge an arm & a leg to set up a title for printing & distribution. Now it’s down to $50 a title AND they credit back that $50 if  you order sufficient number of copies. In 2014 I couldn’t imagine selling 50 books. Now? Now that’s doable. Books don’t go bad like fruit, after all. I’ll go through 50 copies eventually. I won’t sell ’em fast, but I am regularly selling at conventions now & have my own Square account so mail-order is possible. (hint. hint.)

Ingramspark also offers a better selection of  bindings and formats for Print On Demand clients than Amazon’s printing service does too. HARDCOVERS, anyone? Staple-bound chapbooks for novelettes or samples? Duplex covered paperbacks that have that extra style? For me, format options inspire content creativity.

Plus they’re set up to honor sales tax exemption for resellers and retailers…like, say, me.  That balances out a slight increase in printing costs. And based on the delightfully transparent printing process, I expect to be getting a more predictable print quality too. (Fingers crossed, candles lit and all that. Testimonials from others are positive.)

Wrapping up, I have a good quantity of books on hand now, and I have the technology to make them yours, but ordering them anywhere but Amazon will not be happening for a undetermined time.

I’ll keep the world updated.

Until later.fullsizeoutput_149b.jpeg

Writing hard, cookies easy

I’m not getting any creative writing done because reasons, so to quiet the brain buzzards I figure I will share a baking adventure. WITH PICTURES!

(What are brain buzzards? YOU know. They’re the lurking voices inside that squawk, “quit whining and do the work, lazy woman, Real Professionals produce, you could do more if you tried harder, blah, blah, blah…I mean, they’re right, but I prefer to drown them out than listen.)

ANYway. Cookies.  Swedish butter cookies were a holiday tradition when I was growing up in the Morris household, (the M in K.M. stands for Morris) I recently found my mom’s mother’s recipe card for “Grandma Watson’s Swedish Butter Cookies”  complete with instructions for a “slow oven” and mentioning butter from the ice box. I haven’t scanned the cards yet, so no pic, sorry.

These cookies were a one batch once-a-year treat because, while they were delicious, making them was a demanding process requiring tons of work, complicated prep, and expensive ingredients. And drama. I remember much trauma with stickiness, wax paper, and fretting about wasted dough &  much worry over burning. And they never came out quite right despite always tasting fab.

Then I made them for myself the first time on my own, away from the traditions and procedures of my youth. And I learned a secret I’ll share today: THESE ARE THE SIMPLEST COOKIES EVER.

Unless you are a perfectionist. Then they are a hell recipe. I am not a perfectionist. My kitchen mantra is, “More flavor, less effort.”

I can whip together a batch of these cookies faster than the oven preheats–which is saying something because a “slow oven” is only 325 degrees F.

So. Let’s make Swedish Butter cookies together.

Start the oven preheating, make sure the rack is in the middle for best baking, and gather these ingredients: IMG_5238

Yeah, that’s all.

1 stick butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1-2 tbsp of syrupy goodness.  (I like half honey+half almond extract. Maple syrup is popular with others. The big thing is, some sugary syrup. Things don’t cook right without it.)

Here’s the one paragraph summary.

Cream the butter & sugar, add in the syrup & mix until creamy,  mix in the flour until it forms a lumpy dough, form up into a ball by hand, divide into four lumps and roll into sticks, dust with colored sugar if you want, and bake 20-25 min at 325 until golden. Cut while still warm. Done. SO. SIMPLE.

The devil is in the details. Pics are worth a thousand words, so here we go:

Cream butter & sugar, scrape down the bowl & add syrup, it looks like this:IMG_5239

Mix in the syrup until it’s all creamy like this:
IMG_5240

Then scrape down again (the red bit in the pics is my bowl scraper resting on the mixer stand) add the flour and mix until it comes together. Note that it isn’t all in a single ball, and it’s STICKY:IMG_5241

Don’t add extra flour or liquid or mix with the mixer until it’s a single lump, the cookies will get kinda tough (BUT NO BIGGIE IF YOU LOSE FAITH AND DO THOSE THINGS THE COOKIES WILL STILL BE DELICIOUS)

In any case, if the dough doesn’t come all the way together after a minute or two of blending, stop the mixer and push it together into a ball by hand with the scraper. Then divide the ball into 4 parts and shape into logs.

Did I mention it’s sticky? How gooey depends on too many factors to worry about. This is where I get mega-lazy. If the dough can’t be handled easily, I run water in the sink and wet my hands before dividing & shaping the dough, re-wetting whenever things get unwieldy. And don’t stress the logs being equal sizes or the same length or evenly rounded. Close enough is fine. Mine came out pretty well this time:

Sprinkling with colored sugar is totally optional. But yes, i flattened the tops to make it stick better

So, now all you have to do is bake them. 20-25 min at 325 degrees. When they’re going golden brown on top (or around the edges, if you sugared the tops) pull them and cut into slices. Cool and then try not to eat them all in one sitting.

So, there it is. A cookie post. Enjoy.

Hi, there.

Big, big gratitude to the good friends & other new readers who picked up my books recently and were kind enough to tell me about it. You’ve brought some highlights into a week of major emotional lows. Knowing you’ve read Rough Passages–and my other books–brings me a special kind of happiness.

Thank you for your support and excitement about my stories. It means the world to me.

Also–

If you ever feel moved to take a shelfie and send it my way, I promise to keep it and cherish it and comb its fur and call it George…or something like that. I would certainly share the picture on social media as proudly as any gleeful new parent shares baby pics. (but only with your permission, of course.)

What? What’s a shelfie?

It’s a picture of my books in your setting. In your hands, on a shelf or table, posed with a cute stuffed animal or family pet…wherever. So MANY possibilities. If you’re camera-shy like me, any old pic of my books living with the rest of your collection is lovely. (Plus that usually give me ideas for things to put on my TBR list.) Ebooks? Cover on kindle screen works. Or any page on screen. I’m easygoing about it.

In fact, if you don’t have my books, you can still make someone’s day/week/month/year. Take a shelfie of whatever you’ve read recently and liked, share it in a post or a tweet and mention that you liked it when you tag the author by name.

It creates instant joy, I swear.

ANYway.

Thank you all again. Happy reading.