Coffee heat rising

Publishing: Proceeding Apace. Decluttering: Ditto.

 Holy mackerel! It’s been TWO DAYS since I last posted here. How two days passed in an hour and a half escapes me…  Just now I’m engaged in preparing and preposting two months’ worth of bookoids for the Publishing Empire. {heh…maybe that’s what I should’ve called the current enterprise!} That is a much larger job than it seems.

It entails creating covers for 16 books (plus boxed sets, which just now are on-the-side jobs); obtaining ISBNs for each one (a truly time-consuming nuisance: you’re doing well if you can get one ISBN registered in under ten minutes); reviewing, correcting, and updating copy for each book; and posting cover image and contents for each book to Amazon.

I’ve learned you can enhance efficiency and reduce distraction by doing all of these tasks for a bunch of books in one sitting (actually, it’s going to take about three or four days…), rather than breaking in to whatever you’re doing to jump through the endless hoops for one book at a time. And you can post the completed MS and cover art at Amazon and “save as draft.” If you’ve done every step but the last one (and done each step right…), all you have to do on the scheduled “publication” date is go back into your Amazon “bookshelf” and click “publish,” thereby saving yourself a lot of time-consuming hassle on that date, when you might want to be doing something else with your time.

So, here’s an OPINION POLL:

Which of these do you prefer: the one with the black Roberta Stuart byline, or the one with the red?

Draft cover Daniela 2 LO RES

Draft cover Daniela 3 LO RES

The question is, which “Roberta Stuart” byline would be most visible in an Amazon thumbnail? Black? or Red?

Demonstrate the POWER OF THE HIVE MIND and cast your vote for one or the t’other! Tell me in the comments to this post which one you think is more effective.


You’ll recall the last time I visited these precincts, I was considering whether to get rid of the fancy Christofle silverware in favor of some stainless flatware that can go in the dishwasher. Well, my friends, the deed is done. And, after traipsing all over the Web and all over the city, I finally found a set that’s not too cheesy and not too expensive at…so obvious, why didn’t I think of it before this morning?…Williams-Sonoma!!

I did indeed go over to Sur la Table. Total wasted trip. The one set that looked like it might be OK when viewed online had all the heft of plastic. Just junk. And they way they had their flatware displayed — jammed upright into random containers — confirmed that the proprietors regarded the stuff as junk, too.

Revisit Crate and Barrel’s: unappealing, lightweight, not so very junky, but junk.

Across the city, driving driving driving Arrived in another mall that hosts a Williams-Sonoma and a Pottery Barn. At the Williams-Sonoma, in addition to scoring a couple of tasty snacks, I found two sets that appealed. One — the coolest of them — had heavy handles that unfortunately were made of pewter: “hand-washing recommended.” Saleslady said that translates as “handwash, period.” Defeats the purpose. The other was this brushed steel retro design reminiscent of the set my ex- and I bought shortly after we were married, yea verily way back in 19 and ought-67. It was moderately weighty and not displeasing in appearance.

And marked down 20 percent.

Just in case, it was over to Pottery Barn to check out their wares.

Forthwith, BACK TO WILLIAMS-SONOMA. Pottery Barn had a couple of attractive designs but they were…oh yes. Silver plate. Purpose defeated again.

So I purchased the following:


Not too awful, eh? These little gems can go straight into the dishwasher. And, although they’re not as elegant as a set of fine Christofle, they have a decent heft to them and they’re distinctive without being obtrusive.

Kind of interesting, this flatware safari. If I’d ordered the stuff online that appealed to me, from Sur la Table, I’d have been very unhappy and probably would have ended up traipsing to Scottsdale to return the junk. Overall, I went to five brick-&-mortar retailers plus an unknown number of online sellers before finding a design resembling what I wanted. And really…I don’t think I’m that picky! There’s nothing extraordinary about these pieces. Well…except insofar as they display a modicum (and I do mean modicum) of quality.

Think of that.

Of Books, Business, and Dishwashers

So here at the Funny Farm, the proprietor continues to put in 12- to 14-hour days. Got a meeting in another two hours, which means no time to write this post AND get any significant other work done. WTF…I’m writing. Dammit, I get a chance to have a cup of coffee and rest for a few minutes.

Yesterday FaM subscribers received an email warning…uhm, advising you all that I soon will be emanating a kind of business newsletter from the Camptown Ladies site, holding forth more about the adventure of starting a new publishing enterprise than about the Racy Books themselves.

A rose, a candle, and an extraordinary man... Or is he a man?
A rose, a candle, and an extraordinary man… Or is he a man?

Speaking of the which, I see I’ve failed to mention our latest shenanigan, The Ouija Lover. Actually, this randy little number is one of my favorite books. The characters come to life quickly and are pretty entertaining — they get more so in the second book of the series, The Taming of Bonnie. The conceit — the “concept” in Hollywoodese — is really bizarre. So that went online yesterday, available for your browsing pleasure at this very moment.

The Ouija Lover is one of several spooky-themed stories that we’re publishing in honor of Halloween and La Dia de los Muertos. Only one of them, Kelpie (scheduled for publication next week), is really very dark.

Interestingly, most of the Camptown Races stories are fairly light and upbeat. That, apparently, is the overall mood of my writers. The occasional heavy or dark piece is an intriguing exception. I think that’s because these stories are very fun to write and (we hope) fun to read. We’re all getting a hoot out of creating racy stories!

Meanwhile, life goes on. In altogether different realms … I wish to sic one of our fictional spooks on the dunderheads who came up with “high-efficiency” home appliances. There’s another bizarre conceit: the idea that a piece of equipment that takes twice as long to do the job and does it badly (so the job often has to be done over again) magically saves electricity and water. Where do people dream these ideas up?

The present target of my ire is (again) the expensive Bosch dishwasher that I installed to replace the deceased (allegedly less marvelously “efficient”) model. This is the one that won’t get your dishes clean unless you run it on the “Sanitize” cycle, thereby engaging an internal heater that boosts the water’s heat enough to wash off the dirt without benefit of functional detergent. The cycle that takes two hours and forty-one minutes of electric power to wash a load of dishes that would take you about 15 minutes and no electric power (assuming you have a gas water heater) to wash by hand.

Now, I happen to own a set of Christofle silverware that the ex- and I bought back when we were flush and dumb. After we split, I took the silver with me. And I thought at the time, I am gonna use this silver and not save it for a special occasion, BECAUSE special occasions never come and I love this stuff.

So for the past 18 or 20 years, I’ve used the Christofle every day, with every meal. Early on, I found a set of stainless that knocks off Christofle’s design (no longer available: patent infringement?), which I use for cooking. And early on, I learned that if you keep the stainless separate from the silver, you can run the silverware through the dishwasher with no harm.

Well. So it went until I acquired the current “efficient” Bosch. After I figured out that the only way to get the contraption to work was to run it on the sani-cycle every time, I found that suddenly the silver was tarnishing and needed to be repolished every time I turned around. (Normally I’d polish the silver maybe once every six months or a year — if you’re using it all the time, it doesn’t tarnish unless you leave it sitting in lemon juice or some such.)

WTF? Why was I suddenly having to polish the silver every two weeks?

Finally I figured out that it must have something to do with the heat in the washer’s sanitize cycle. If you want the dishes clean, you can’t put the silverware in there.

And that means that if I want to use my silver, I have to wash every piece by hand after every meal!!!!

Thank you, dear environmentally correct hucksters, for taking us back to the 1950s in one more aspect of our lives.

Now, in general I’m none too fond of housework. But of all the housework chores, I hate washing dishes by hand with the deepest passion. It’s one thing to have to wash the laundry by hand once every week or two. But another thing altogether to have to wash eating utensils by hand two or three times a day.

It’s such a nuisance, in fact, that I’m thinking about packing up the silver, hiding it from the burglars somewhere or giving it to my son, and just going over to Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel and buying a set of decent stainless.

The Christofle knock-off stainless is cheap and light-weight. The real stuff, the silver, has a nice heft to it, which adds to the pleasure of a nice meal. A better set of stainless would have that quality, and it also would go in the dishwasher. Voilà: one annoyance gone. Sort of.

Crate & Barrel has some very attractive 18/10 designs. They’re not cheap, but they’re not horribly expensive. I just resent having to put away something I’ve made part of my daily life and that I enjoy using. Nor do I want to spend money on something like this because of some stupid “improvement” that’s utterly unnecessary, ineffective, and unfair.

Pisseth me off.