Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What to expect when you write a Cookbook...

I wrote a cookbook. It turned into a wild ride, taking much longer than the 6 months I had originally slated for it to take. The original idea was to dump all of my baking recipes into one place for my friends and family to be able to go fetch without me having to ship off recipes via emails to folks around the globe.

Easy enough, or so I thought. I couldn't have been more wrong. So I thought I'd give others thinking of doing the same a heads-up.

One, I elected to create it in an eBook format and sell it for just 99 cents, I figured my friends and family could afford that, and I picked Kindle as that was available to everyone. I thought it would be easy enough to convert to a PDF. The conversion was the easy part, dealing with the fact that Kindle formats didn't handle tabs or tables properly made the formatting that much more difficult. It took me more than a week just to get the basic formatting down.

Two, you will need a cover and pictures of your final product. I suck at photography, lucky for me I have a couple of good friends who are photographers that were willing to do a barter deal, saving me some cash. I still had to put out some cash for the cover formatting to do the title placement. That was still one of the cheaper parts of creating the cookbook.  Take a look, I think it was worth it.

Three, you will spend lots and lots of money on groceries if you actually test your recipes to verify measurements, cooking time and temperatures. And it will be more than you estimate.

Four, expect to gain weight. Warn your friends and family that they will gain weight as you will most likely push your goodies on them for taste testing. Make sure you pick people who will tell you the truth - good, bad, or puke-worthy. You will need honest opinions, otherwise how will you know what to fix in your recipe?

Five, marketing your book will consume much of your time once it's finally on line for purchase.

Six, expect to find mistakes even after you proof your book, have your mother who holds a degree in English and is an exceptional proof reader gets her hand on it. I just realized that I forgot to tell folks when to add blueberries into the batter for my blueberry muffin recipe. So now I'm back to fixing the Kindle and CreateSpace versions.

Seven, people will want a physical copy in a format that isn't offered on Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords. That's were Lulu and Staples come in handy. You will become fast friends with the printing folks at Staples if you keep one of the "perfect" copies on hand to show them how the final product should look.

Eight, at some point an invisible sign will appear above your head that screams out "Ask the Baker" to everyone but you. Plan to spend more time in the baking aisle at your favorite store answering random shoppers questions. Things like "Is this the right cocoa for brownies?", "What kind of strawberries go on cheesecake?", "What's the difference between these two?" (it could be vanilla extract, cinnamon, flour, et.al.), "Will olive oil work the same as vegetable oil?", to name a few.

You may even find yourself intervening on a young man's plans to make his girlfriend some "homemade cookies" from a package. Instead you give him a brief baking lesson, hand him a bag of your favorite chocolate chips, point out the recipe on the back, explain the finer points of flours and sugars, and tell him he will do just fine and his girlfriend will love the cookies. Expect to see that young man again, only this time he wants to make a cake and wants to know how to make something from scratch.

Nine, you will be asked to make new recipes based on certain flavors or ingredients, or given suggestions for new recipes - which may or may not work out well. And when the cookbook is done, you'll be asked when the next one is coming out.

I'm glad I wrote one, it was a good lesson in self publishing and a crash course in formatting. But - no - I will not write another one for publication.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A new story...FINALLY!

I am so pleased to announce a new story release! The best part of this new release is the price! For a limited time, you get six spicy stories from six best-selling authors for only $.99!!!

Tough As Brass
by Suzanne Graham

Young widow Branna Dunphry moved to Texas merely for the opportunity to work as Assistant District Attorney. She certainly wasn’t looking to surrender herself to a dominant cowboy who could see past her tough demeanor to the submissive woman inside.


Monday, December 1, 2014

New Release: Christmas Journey

by Patricia Kiyono

I am so pleased to announce the release of my brand new Christmas novella, Christmas Journey, published by Eskape Press a few weeks ago. This is a sequel to Christmas Wishes, my 2013 Christmas novella, and I had a wonderful time revisiting the residents of Zutphen, Michigan. This time, though, the focus is on an older couple. Helen DeGroot is a widow in her sixties, and she’s looking for direction and identity. Along comes her Prince Charming – and he’s ten years younger! But with Mike’s help, she begins her journey toward a happy and fulfilling life.

Here’s the blurb for Christmas Journey:
Helen DeGroot is a widow, a mother, and grandmother. Her quiet life in Zutphen includes her children, grandchildren, and church committee work. She can’t shake the feeling that life has something else in store for her. But finances are tight, and her grown sons always seem to need her help.

Mike Sikkema has a high-powered job at a travel magazine. He’s never had time for settling down with a family. But when his brother tells him about their mother’s health problems, he drops everything and heads to Zutphen, Michigan to help out. Apartments are scarce in the small town, so he rents a room from an attractive widow in his brother’s congregation.

The road to self-discovery and happiness can be long and painful. Can these two help each other navigate the journey?

Christmas Journey can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other ebook outlets.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New Releases!

by Patricia Kiyono
It’s the first of the month again! The weather is definitely changing, and for most of us our daily routines change as we rotate our wardrobes and switch to cool-weather activities. On the writing front, I’ve been deep in edits for my Christmas book (I was very last minute in submitting it!) and promoting THREE book bundles! I’m so excited about these projects and very grateful to the people who put them together.

The first to release is a fall anthology called Autumn’s Kiss. A Facebook group of sweet romance authors came up with a plan and ten of us wrote short stories with a fall theme. As it happened, one author is also a cover designer, another runs a small publishing company, and several others edit and format! So on October 25 our book released. My story is called Autumn Vows. Here’s the short blurb:
For 30 years, busy wife and mother Yolanda Murray pushed aside her career for family. With the kids grown now, it’s her turn. But her husband Craig needs surgery, and his worries extend far beyond his health issues. Will this couple survive the changes in the autumn of their lives?
In the last few days, EsKape Press released two box sets, and I’m honored to have a book in each one! The first one is a historical set called Romancing the Rogue with ten books including my Searching for Lady Luck. Here’s the blurb from that story:
A pretty lady named Rose seems to bring struggling Charlie Brannigan good luck every time she appears. Could she be his ticket back to the big time?
Holiday EsKape is the Christmas box set from EsKape Press. My book Christmas Wishes is in this set. This is what it’s about:
Sophie Gardner has her life planned: leave small-town Zutphen, Michigan behind and become a screenwriter in Hollywood. Oh, and she wants to catch up with her high school sweetheart who left her behind when he went to pursue his acting career. But the new photographer in town and his adorable daughter just might be enough to make her change her mind.
If you click on the book covers, you can see more of the details as well as placing your orders! I’m so excited about these projects. And to top off all this excitement, my 2014 Christmas story, Christmas Journey, will release sometime this month. I don’t have the final version of the cover, but I can guarantee it is awesome. The talented Elaina Lee has designed most of my book covers and I have NEVER been disappointed!

Since it’s November 1, It’s NaNoWriMo time. I didn’t officially sign up for the challenge, but I’m accepting the challenge from three other writing groups to write like h... this month, so I’m going to shut down my internet for a while and write!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Food for thought...quite literally

      If you happen to follow my craziness on facebook...I'm sorry...okay, not really, I warn people so- deal. However, if you do, you would have had a real hard time missing the daily photos of meals go by. I won't say there's a recipe, I do not use a unit of measure that makes sense to most. Ask Julie/Simone...she's tried to follow along and has given up.
     This escapade started when someone posted a meme about the abuse of food stamps because someone has nice nails or what looks like an expensive phone. At least a dozen people commented that you can not eat well on $200 a month. Challenge accepted. I cook enough to feed the hubs- big burly guy, the son- who comes in over 6ft and works 10 hr days in the agriculture industry so he's usually hungry enough for 2, and me...I figured with the guys- that counted as 4 people. 
      Usually I make a menu for the month, my list from there and head out, this time I went at it differently...I was in a cold sweat going into the store with a list of just the stuff I was out of. But, I had gone over all the sales ads and had a couple with me- we set off early and took a cooler. I shopped at stores that had buy one get one sales all over the store, fresh fruits and veggies were included and at the end of the day- I spent 150.00. Most of the meals were one pot wonders, most were done in less than a half hour, unless I used the crock pot and I had originally set the goal like most on the web- 20 meals for under 150.        Today is day 21 and I still have 8 meals on my menu that I made after I got home. The other goal was to have no duplicates...I lost on one- the guys insisted. We've had German, Italian, Mexican, Oriental and everything in between. Lots were cook once eat twice meals that I morphed into other things. 
      When we got home from shopping I sat with freezer bags and chopped up the veggies for various things and made meatballs etc...this was probably not the time for my mind to wander off to Oz, but away it went. (It needs a better leash) I had been writing and rewriting the same story for two months. As I stabbed a head of cabbage it dawned on me that I really hated who my characters had become. They started out as dynamic and turned to duds. So I hauled them all into writer surgery and put backbones in them all & amazingly...finished the book at 3 a.m. this morning. I suppose I should be thankful to the head of cabbage- but that's a bit too weird even for me. There's a push for me to turn this into a cookbook...its a maybe at this stage. Right now I need to go threaten some more characters with a magic wand.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What would a Haunted Tea Party, thrown by the Mad Hatter, for his daughter look like?

I posted this on my blog, but thought I'd share it here as well, with some edits of course.

A friend of mine posted this question on Facebook the other day:

If the Mad Hatter was throwing a Haunted Tea Party for his daughter what would it look like?

An image immediately popped into my head and I knew there was no way I could describe it in the mere space of a Facebook comment. If I had my aunt's artistic talents I would have immediately drawn it up, but alas, I don't have those skills.

So what would a Haunted Tea Party, thrown by the Mad Hatter, for his daughter look like?

First, my version of the Mad Hatter looks very much like Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. The large eyes, crazed with the agony the Red Queen put him through and a tendency to wander off in opposite directions. His hair is more a silvery grey though, his oversized top hat, battered crushed velvet in a deep purple. The velvet is worn in places and he has a piece of tattered, yellowed lace as a hat band. His coat used to be a bright Kelly green, but it has faded with time, the elbows are worn through, the collar and hemmed edges are raveling a bit. His pants are also tattered, black, a bit too short, and shiny with wear. His shoes are oversized wing tips, one is black, the other brown. His fingernails are bitten down and there is dirt until the very short nails. He has a threaded needle holding a dead rose boutonniere on his lapel. His grin is rather sociopathic, with crooked yellow teeth. But he is happy - after all his daughter is alive!

Then there's the white rabbit. His fur has dirty spots, one of his ears hangs down while the other is straight up through his top hat. His hat is a glossy black, while his vest is a deep forest green with black embroidery used to depict a scary forest scene of dead trees with reaching, leafless limbs. His pocket watch is tucked safely into a small, worn pocket on the vest, the watch fob is a tarnished gold that attaches to his paw. His eyes occassionally spin in different directions as he laughs in a psychotic fashion.

The door mouse is beyond cute, with golden brown fur, the tiniest rounded ears, and large eyes. His paws are tiny, and there is a hint of smile on his face. The doormouse’s hat is a teapot lid, his only clothing a black lacey tutu. He holds the teeniest tea cup I've ever seen in one of his front paws. The cup is chipped on one side, covered in an intricate, yet tiny depiction of lilacs. The saucer is a mismatch, bright red with cobwebs hanging from one side. From time to time his head will jerk to the side, kind of a hard twitch and he lets out a tiny, high pitched laugh.  His seat is inside a small teapot, one covered in tiny roses; he doesn’t seem to notice it though.

The tea service is set on a large, uneven, wooden table. Large black spiders are at the corner of every table leg (there are six), most are working on their webs or winding up their prey. The largest is sitting in the middle of her web watching the party goers. 

Treats are scattered about on plate stands holding anywhere from three to eight plates. Tiny sandwiches are scattered across the plates, some showing definite signs of mold, some with ants and cockroaches crawling over them. Additional treats include cupcakes topped with crunchy crickets and spiders, candies in bright primary colors are scattered across the table top. A variety of teapots, many being held to the table by yet more cobwebs, are all filled with varieties of tea. Some have tea bag tags hanging out the top, others have metal chains showing from the diffusers hidden inside them.
I am fascinated with the teapots. Each has its own pattern. A yellow one has depictions of the Red Queen playing croquet with a flamingo, beheading a peasant, and petting the Jabberwocky. A beautiful silver one has airy pictures of the White Queen working on various potions and healing an injured citizen. A blood red teapot has dancing skeletons across the entire body of the pot. An ivory colored teapot shows pictures of a little girl, her chest pierced by a sword, blood dripping down her chest. On the opposite side is the same girl, sword in hand, piercing the Jabberwocky's chest. Tea cups are scattered about, none with matching saucers, all showing signs of wear and damage, most are covered in flowers, one is covered in spiders.

Trees ring the entire scene, their leaves are either gone or shades of red and orange. The sky is a gloomy grey, bits of grass stick up between the leaves on the ground. A light breeze makes the air feel more chilly than it is. A few of the trees have bits of fabric blowing from their branches, as if they were banners announcing some big event.

A sweet, heart shaped faced, young girl sits at the head of the table. The adorable door mouse is to her left, the White Rabbit to her right. The Mad Hatter is at the other end of the table, smiling broadly as he sings an unrecognizable song. She smiles and the scene is less gloomy. Sun seems to peek through the clouds. Her dress is a bright red lace overlay, a black shift underneath. The blood red sash at her waist is tied in large bow on her back.

Her honey colored locks lift lightly in the breeze. She has a very pale face, tinged with grey and with large inset deep green eyes. She has smudges of dirt on her cheeks, her hands are clean, but her fingernails are still dirty as if she just dug herself out of the grave. Scuffed Mary Janes are on her feet, her anklets are mismatched, one black with black lacing edging the top, the other a dirty white with red lace on top. She swings her legs casually underneath her too-tall chair as she hums along with her daddy's uneven song, clearly enjoying herself.

In the clearing Alice appears, Cheshire cat in tow. They wave hello to the odd conflagration at the table. Smoke from the caterpillar’s hookah pipe swirls up among the tree branches as he perches on Alice's shoulder. Just another Halloween in Wonderland.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Patchwork Novels

by Patricia Kiyono

I haven’t posted here in several months, and I apologize. Normally I’m a lot more dependable than this when it comes to writing deadlines. But this seems to be the year for missed deadlines. I’m not sure what’s going on—I still love to write and create happily-ever-afters for my characters, but sometimes it’s like pulling teeth.
I spent all spring and summer working on a novel that was supposed to be a sequel to Christmas Wishes, my holiday book from last year. I told my publisher I’d have it done by May 30 and I wrote, and rewrote. May 30 came and went and I still worked on it, missing out on all sorts of summer fun, and ignoring my poor hubby. But I couldn’t get it to the point where I felt I could submit it. I just didn’t care for the characters that much, and the story line just didn’t hold my interest. And if it’s not interesting to me, it’s definitely not going to be interesting to anyone else! I finally abandoned that project when I realized that my publisher has a Christmas book deadline of September 30, and I’ve sort of set a goal for myself to publish a holiday book every year. So I got to work on that.
A few days ago I FINALLY completed and submitted the manuscript. I could have held on to it and polished it a bit more, but knowing myself (and having a good working relationship with my publisher) I went ahead and submitted, even though there parts I didn’t like, and parts that I knew weren’t strong. If the editor is good, she’ll pick up on those weak areas and ask me to change it. If she doesn’t find them, I can make changes anyway. This particular story used pieces of other projects that I’ve started and abandoned, and they seemed to work together to create this one – sort of like a patchwork quilt.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to resurrect the project from this spring and make it into a good book. I might have to change one of the characters, or maybe both. But I’m not going to toss it out. There are parts of the book I really like, and maybe I’ll cut it up and use them in something else. I’m a quilter, so that makes perfectly good sense to me! The point is, although I’m disappointed that I didn’t get my spring/summer project done, I got a lot of work done. I was writing, and that’s what writers do. I did finish two smaller projects, and hopefully next month I’ll be able to share one of them with you!