Sunday, September 30, 2007

Spoke too soon

As predicted/feared/expected, I spoke *way* too soon about the 75,000 mark. As of right now, I am at 305,000. That is a spectacular the wrong direction. But I can't complain, at this point; I have done absolutely zero publicity, and my Angels site isn't even up yet. Complaining about slipping on Amazon, with what we've actually *done* so far, is akin to eating pizza for a month and wandering on a treadmill for 10 minutes and wondering why you're not losing weight. (Yes, I speak from experience.)

So I will try to hold off on looking at my Amazon ranking for a while, at least until we've done some radio shows. I do not know when this will be. I do not know when I will be in my local Barnes and Noble. I do not know when I am headed to Salt Lake for regional publicity. I do not know...most things.

But I do like some of the new fall shows, for an abrupt and random change of subject. "Dirty Sexy Money" is just good trashy fun. "Desperate Housewives," despite the fact that it long ago got tiresome, is still my Sunday-night staple, preferably watched while eating delivered sushi. (Missed that part tonight. Drat.) "Grey's Anatomy" looks like it's going to pull the plug on the cringe-inducingly awkward George-Callie relationship, which is a step in the right direction....but hooking up with Izzie is one step too far. "Cane" looks like it's taking on a little too much to handle--drugs! betrayal! military serving sons! late-in-life pregnancy! mysterious Cuban gang members (whom we are to infer are *the most deadly people alive*)! terminal illness! and a man who married his stepsister and engendered permanent jealousy and hatred from his stepbrother!--I'm not making any of this up), and taking itself a bit too seriously. Come on, dudes, throw someone into the pool or something. Maybe drinks thrown into faces? They make rum, for heaven's sake. (I do like listening to the Cuban-accented Spanish, though, all vowels and no consonants. "What did she just say? 'Quehao'? What does that mean? Oh, wait, it's two words and she's missing a g" ) "Brothers and Sisters" also appears to be taking itself too seriously. It's on in the background right now, and that's about as much attention as I can pay to it. Ah, wise Uncle Saul, tell us what to do.

Really, I should work on my other projects. But an English major can only read so much in a day about chemistry and physics. I am not kidding.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Facts and figures

I’ve broken the 100,000 mark.

I shouldn’t phrase it that way, because that makes it sound like I have sold 100,000 copies. This would be phenomenal.

This is not the case.

Instead, I am saying “broken the 100,000 mark” in that I am now *under* 100,000...on It may change by the time I post this entry, but the last time I checked (yesterday, Friday) I was at 75,000 on Amazon. Not so great, you might say, but considering that I have been hovering around 110,000 (and once when I checked, I was at 299,000) 75,000 does not sound bad at all. This is going in the right direction. Maybe it was the lovely woman at work yesterday who put me over the edge? I was totally hard-nosed about it, making her order online. At this point I far prefer getting the number (and the, oh, $2 profit) than getting $14 in cash. It doesn’t seem terribly logical...except that I need numbers!

Friday, September 28, 2007

books and blogs

I am trying to sign up for a service that will direct more traffic to my blog. Unfortunately, I seem to be incapable of doing this. For a few minutes I blamed myself--a natural response to a Luddite attempting something technically oriented--but I am happy to figure out (I think) it is not my fault. They are having technical difficulties, and it's not that I can't figure out what code I'm supposed to paste where, it's that they haven't provided me with the code. Happy day.

No news about the book, but that's all right. A woman at work asked me if she could buy a copy. She seemed to know all about the content. Since it's a woman I almost never talk to or even see, this is a positive sign. I do not have books on me, however; I referred her to Amazon. This helps my numbers anyway.

There is a janitor at work who's become friendly with me; he likes finding people to speak Spanish with. He speaks English almost perfectly, which is why I felt bad when he said, "Did you write a book? Oh, my condolences."

Now, if this were a previously published author offering a knowing joke, I would say, "Yeah, it's tough" and we would hit each others' shoulders and give that fake "you can do it/we're trying" smile. But the janitor, so far as I know, had no tough stories and publishing weariness to base his condolences on. So was he just feeling sad for someone so deluded she would try to self-publish her own book? I gave him a foggy look, and he said, "Your husband died, right?" Ah ha. I smiled and said, "No, it's fiction," and he said he was relieved. He said, "I saw the picture on the cover and I thought, 'that's the lady who works on 21! Oh, I didn't know whe was a widow!'" So he did read the back of the book enough to know the protagonist is a widow, but not enough to know that her name is not Kathryn. But it was nice to be recognized, even if just at work.

I spoke too soon about not getting my sandal-shod feet stomped. Yesterday as I was getting on the bus, a woman in sneakers stepped backward and right on to the edges of my toes. She did apologize, but she wasn't exactly, I don't know, distraught about it. Ah well. Today *I* am wearing the sneakers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sunshine and sensations

It is a beautiful day in New York City. This is another cause for celebration, because New York City is allotted, oh, five beautiful days a year. (One of them is usually a random 70-degree day in December.) Our winters are brutishly cold. You see these poor saps walking in long down coats, scarves, gloves, boots, and immense, usually not-very-stylish hats, desperately unfashionable in the fashion capital of the world. (or is it about myself that I’m speaking?) Winter begins with a vengeance at the end of October and lasts usually through the end of April. We’ll get one or two nice days in April, where people emerge from tall office buildings and hesitantly remove their coats and say, “A foreign yellow object in the sky from which heat radiates...could that be the sun, about which I have heard so much?” And then two days later summer slams into us, with 90-degree days and 90-percent humidity. I come from Utah, where a 90-degree summer day is the norm, but there is a giant difference between dry heat and humid heat. One is, it gets cool at night. Another is, in Utah, you get into your air-conditioned car and your biggest discomfort is the hot steering wheel that you have to grip through a random fast-food napkin you didn’t remember to clean out of your car. But in New York, going out the door in summer is like walking into warm pudding. And it’s pudding weather until we get two and a half nice autumn days and then it’s officially freezing again.

This blog is officially about my book. Perhaps I should dwell on that.

There hasn’t been much to report, so far. I have the copies at my desk at work, and I am officially listed on Amazon. Several very kind friends have bought it already, without me begging, which is nice. (Some even kinder friends have bought multiple copies.) I see people at church on Sunday and tell them about it, and on Sunday my Amazon ranking hovers around 100,000. Over the course of the week I drift to about 300,000, then back to 100,000 on Sunday again. At this level, I think the difference between the two levels is about 8 sales. Sigh.

I spoke with my publicist yesterday, and we agreed on a plan of action. I sent her copies of the book and she is going to send them to various radio stations to do a “tour”— interviews on 15-20 (knock wood) radio shows. The good thing about radio is that you get to do it by phone, so there’s no lengthy travel or dealing with airlines/delays/people/screaming babies. We’re then going to focus on a local market, Salt Lake City. I have family in Utah, so it made sense to make it a home base of sorts. The rationale on focusing on one smaller market (smaller than NYC, that is) is that it’s easier to break out and become some kind of “sensation” there, and becoming a “sensation” in one market often leads to other markets paying attention, thus increasing your odds of becoming a “sensation” there, too. So here’s to a “sensational” few months....

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cause for celebration

This is a momentous occasion, a cause for parties and revelry and all kinds of bacchanal.

It is now fall, and I have gotten through a whole summer without getting my feet stomped on the subway. Summer is sandal weather, after all, and each and every summer for, oh, ten years now, at some point, just when I thought I was safe, I got stomped. Bare toes against a stiletto heel or stuffy businessman’s shoe...bare toes lose. I’ve never had any toes broken, but there’s always that distinct possibility. And yet I continue to wear sandals on the subway. That’s what I call living wild.

Friday, September 14, 2007

One small thing --

My websites are up!!

Visit: kathrynmaughan dot com. (Do not put in the www. It doesn't seem to work.)

Many thanks to John Hawkins Gordon, my fabulous designer. And, soon, his programmer Justin, who is busily working the kinks out of the companion website. Explanation provided on the page.

Visit! Read! Enjoy! And...tell *everyone you know.*

Did I mention I will miss Kitchenette?

My roommate brought home free cake given out by the lovely ladies of Kitchenette; it's Friday, it's closing time, they liked my blog, and they're being evicted by the greedy landlord. One slice of lemon, one of chocolate. This just will not work with knitted creations. Even if they were free, I would not be delighted.

Actual details about, you know, the book

So since this blog is directly connected with my new book, I suppose I should actually write about the book. It’s official, it’s real, it’s done. I got my free copies from the publisher last week, and I thought that would make it real, but what actually DID make it real, incontrovertible, hard-and-fast, was finding it on Amazon two days ago. I typed in my last name and started wading through a long list. Somerset Maugham’s works came up first, despite my having typed “Maughan”—and I assumed I wasn’t on yet. Yet as I scrolled, up I came. Interesting that Amazon would choose a typo over my actual name.

Apparently there are several Maughan authors. Undoubtedly they are distant relatives of mine. Check them out if you are interested in health and fitness. As you can see from my previous post, I’m...not so much. That’s another post.

The book is called Did I Expect Angels?—hence the name of the blog. All the information about the book will be found on my website. More on that ... now.

My website will be up in two days—the personal one, anyway. Kathrynmaughan dot com. I’ve been thinking of things to put on there to (a) make it interesting and (b) maximize its Googlability. Hopefully I’ve done both. The site that has infinitely more potential is my companion site, myunexpectedangel dot com. (Not to infer that kathrynmaughan—the site—doesn’t have potential [what about the individual? Ooh, don’t go there] but that myunexpectedangel could go far and wide.

Myunexpectedangel is my video sharing site where people can upload video (or written) tribute to people who have popped into their lives and helped them out at unexpected times. I already have two different tributes I’m going to do. I even have a digital video camera. I just have to figure out how to use it. (I’ve had it since Christmas.) I revel in my Luddite-ness. But one tribute will be to a woman I barely knew who invited me to dinner on my first Sunday in New York—not knowing quite how freaked out I was. She just invited me anyway, and even if she doesn’t remember it, it meant a lot. The second tribute is to three people who, not even knowing each other or what the others were doing, acted in complementary ways (no, that’s not a misspelling) to help me turn my life around. That’s not an exaggeration. I’ll wait to tell the details on the site.

Meanwhile I am trying to figure out how best (and when) to get word out. Almost everything is in place: it’s available online on and Amazon’ I have “pass-along cards” for people to advertise; I have secured a publicist; I am emailing blogs and chat rooms and the occasional bookstore; and all I am waiting for is the launch of the sites. Yikes.

All for now. It’s a bad day at work.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

An auspicious beginning

I thought about beginning the blog with a big post about the "journey" that the publishing of my book has been...but, bleah. Instead I will begin with a note that will be of interest to the smallest of groups: a subset of Manhattanites, the Upper West Siders. I am informed that "Homemade by Kitchenette," an amazing bakery, is closing because the landlord wants to rent out the store space to his relatives. The other store belonging to his relatives, next door, houses exquisitely ugly knitted creations. I imagine the new store, which will occupy space previously housing chocolate/vanilla-cream-filled cupcakes, lemon meringue pielets, chocolate mousses, and gigantic cakes of carrot or red velvet or German chocolate and all other manner of baked goodness, will now showcase something like your great-aunt makes, something at which you smile and say, "oh, my, look at that" because you can't think of anything kind.

I have a thing for sugar. Forgive me.

Unfortunately this knitted-awfulness store follows a trend that is growing on the Upper West Side: Food places being replaced by Stores Selling Uselessness. Now, I have nothing against the occasional nail salon, cell phone store, or niche "we sell only hats and umbrellas!" places. But I resent having to walk ten blocks to pick up an emergency frozen pizza, when I used to walk two, and have to walk beside these windows advertising Nothing We Need.

Rents are high in Manhattan. I get that. Landlords want to capitalize on this and get as much as they can. New business owners, flush with the dream of no longer working for The Man [thus becoming The Man themselves--well, plural, The Men...making it politically correct, and all-inclusive, The (Wo)Men] are eager to shell out whatever they have to in order to make dreams into reality. They're still covered by the small business loan, so it'll be fine! No, people. This is what got us into the subprime mortgage mess. It needs to stop. We need stores that sell things we need. Food. Maybe more laundromats. No more cell phone stores, no more "it looks homemade but really it's mass produced so your necklace will be the exact same as your coworker's" jewelry stores, no more sky-high-price clothing stores whose clothes are really not that cute or well-made, certainly not enough to justify a $200 tag on a blouse I could make at home on a borrowed sewing machine with skills learned in 7th grade Home Ec. (actually, maybe I couldn't. Seems to me I had to have a friend help me on all my projects... and when I say "help," I mean "do it for me." Thanks, Gayle!)

I digress. A long post to mourn the closing of a small store. Kitchenette, we will miss you.