Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I did ask my friend Glen if he’d made his purchases, and he hadn’t. Hmm. I still don’t know if my roommate did her Christmas shopping on Wednesday. She comes from a family of 11, so it may have been all her doing. But other than that...I don’t know. As of today (or right now, anyway) I’m back up, to 60,000. How long I last at 60,000, I don’t know, but I’m grateful to be there now.

Another “push” is underway—this one involving emails to everyone who has a large email list. For the past year or so, every time I got a mass email, I noted whether or not the person was sending it to a ton of people. (“A ton” is hereby defined as “more than twenty.”) For a while I was actually recording all of those addresses, with the thought that I would send out a notification to all of them, but then I realized the line between advertising to friends of friends and spam is very thin indeed, unless I happen to say “I’m also a friend of Andrea’s,” in which case they will write angry notes to Andrea and say, “Why are you giving out my email address to spammers?” (Yes, this is a shout-out to Andrea, my first official fan; by “official” I mean “actually subscribed to my blog!”) So I’m sending requests to these friends and asking them to spam their own friends. Spamming your friends isn’t considered spam, unless you’re sending out a “Send this to 12 people and your entire life will change!” note. That is definitely spam, regardless of the sender.

So I’ve been not-spamming my friends and asking them to not-spam their friends, and one of my alumni lists sent out a notice also. And lo and behold, this might actually be working.

So...thanks to the people who have put me in the five digits! Now let’s shoot for four....

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Two Days After Thanksgiving

That happy eating holiday, Thanksgiving, has passed. I had a nice meal at the apartment of some friends with about ten adults and one two-year-old girl, who loudly proclaimed that she liked “THE ROLLS!” (which I brought) best. These are from a recipe passed down from Great Grandma Gammell, and they’re easy and everyone always loves them. Happy to win over the two-year-old too. I also brought an apple pie with a sugary crumb topping, which was fabulous. I have to say, it was better than the store-bought pumpkin pies served with Cool Whip, but there were some traditionalists there who insisted on pumpkin pie (Cool Whip notwithstanding) and they ate that instead. That meant I had a third of an apple pie to take home. I ate it yesterday.

It was sixty degrees in New York that day, which is almost unheard of. I walked to my friends’ apartment with a jacket on, my early-fall jacket, thinking, “I don’t need to be wearing this.” But the temperature dropped that afternoon, and by the time I walked home that evening I wished I had more on. Yesterday was freezing. I expect today is, too, but I have no plans to go outside unless I manage to convince myself to go to the gym.

Book news: none. I’ve done six interviews thus far (and recorded three, so at some point in the not-too-distant future I’ll decide to figure out how to download those recordings and make them available) and the video website is finally up, though it’s not really what I wanted. I wanted a customized site, but as the programmer quit, we don’t get a customized site. Sigh. I’ve been recording friends’ tributes to their angels, but none of this is as easy as I’d like it to be. I’ve been sending out my news to various friends, asking them to send it to all their friends—also all the list serves I’m on for school, etc—and nothing really has impacted sales. On Wednesday my Amazon sales rating skyrocketed, from about 600,000 to 33,000, the very highest it’s ever been. I got excited. First I called my dad, to see if he’d bought books that day; that’s always my immediate question. But he hadn’t, and I thought, “Is it the interviews finally kicking in?” but since Wednesday the ranking has steadily fallen, so I think it was a one-time Christmas gift purchase by one of my friends. I’ll see him tomorrow and ask. Not that I mind, of course; but I’d rather it be strangers deciding to buy it because of the large amount of money I’ve spent on a publicist.

It’s been a productive weekend, so far. I have done all the small, easy things on my to-do list, which seems logical but there are often weekends in which I don’t even get those done. Now it remains to be seen if I’ll actually tackle the new book at all. I want to devote one day just to working on it. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet figured out the trajectory of the new book. I have an inciting incident, and I have characters, and I have a vague idea of what is going to happen. But I don’t know the purpose, and that is bothering me. I don’t know the character arc of the main character, and what happens to her as a consequence of her actions in the first 20 pages. I imagine the consequence is large. But I don’t know…. The good thing about my new book is, I don’t have any happy marriages in it. I had to write a happy marriage in my Angels book, and that stressed me out. I am not even a dater; what do I know about happy marriages? I literally had to sit down with a married friend and ask questions like, “What do you think they would talk about here?” or “What kind of thing would happen when they’re doing x and y?” None of that now. I have had plenty of bad marriage examples flit through my life, so I am writing that this time instead.

So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for marital unhappiness. A big Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

thank heaven for actual "usable form"

I still don't really know if there is any meaning to this phrase other than the logical first-glance meaning. I assume it means just what we think it means. Which means that my website, myUnexpectedAngel.com, is now in usable form!! We went with the service, and while there are still some things to work out/figure out (specifically, whether or not we can have people write up their stories and post them, which the shy might want to do), but at least I was able to announce, "The site is up and running!" I had my two interviews this morning (and have another tomorrow at noon, on an internet-based show with Judyth Piazza), which I did record. (Let's just see how long it takes me to get them onto my site. Starting now.) They went well. The first one contained a milestone for me: we went to a commercial break and continued on after. Pretty cool. The host seemed at least to have looked at the book. I can't say whether or not he read it, but he did have some information gleaned from something other than a press release. The second host stuck to very basic questions, but that's okay.

The real upshot of this website being up is that I can now start emailing all my friends and family about the book. Please look at the website, upload your videos, get some buzz going, send it to your friends! And maybe even buy some books in the meantime...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

No more "Usable Form"

Well, to add a special touch to this experience, yesterday the MyUnexpectedAngels programmer, Justin—who has worked, as far as I know, at least two months on this project—just quit. And he didn’t even call; he sent a text to the designer and said he wasn’t going to do it anymore. That’s it.

The designer is devastated; he feels worse about it than I do. And he is determined to make it right, which ups him in my esteem. (Let me never meet Justin.) He has been looking around for solutions, and quick ones, since I have another two interviews scheduled for next Tuesday. (These I will do from home, so these I will record and post onto the site. Hopefully I won’t be a stammering fool.) He seems to have found something, which might even be a better option than having someone do all that programming and cross-referencing and platforming (I got lost after “programming”). I don’t know the technicalities, but it involves the videos being posted onto my site but hosted on YouTube, even though the user can’t really tell he or she is using YouTube. The only reason I know this is a good thing is that someone at my work, the guy with a master’s in computer science, had told me back in August that we ought to host the videos on YouTube. Hmm. I would have brought that up to Justin, and even fought for it, maybe, if I’d just known what it meant. I still don’t, but the words are the same. I assume that makes it the same thing.

Interestingly, with this new method we’re going with, the site will likely be up in 48 hours. I have no idea how far Justin was from completion, but we are, at this point, 2 months overdue...and now you’re telling me we could have just whipped it together two months ago and had it finished in 48 hours?? Sigh. I am making this the silver lining. We don’t know yet if we’ll be able to have written stories, but...hopefully the videos will catch on. YouTube highlighted the fact that about every third American has a camera phone, right? Its popularity didn’t come out of nowhere.

I got a good review on Amazon yesterday, from a retired work acquaintance who read the book and loved it. She completely made my day that day; she phoned at 1:30 in the afternoon and said she had just finished it, and hadn’t been able to do anything all day long except read the book. She then said, “This is one of the best books I’ve ever read.” I related this to my boss, who knows her. My boss said, “You know who your competition is? Carol reads Dickens and Dostoevsky and Melville! You’re up there with the classics!” I was flattered. (Carol emailed me at 6:30 that night and said she couldn’t stop thinking about the book and she almost felt like she was in a trance. I am not making this up.) The practical application to this is that she’s telling a lot of people it’s a great book and now people at work are actually starting to buy it. Yay! (One or two have asked if they could just borrow one of my copies. I have stood firm.) Carol is now emailing me telling me to write more books. I have started one, but I’m not sure where it’s going so it’s not clipping along at any brisk pace. My boss said, “If Carol were here, she’d be giving you deadlines.” Maybe I need her.

I’m also working on another screenplay. I should emphasize this is not scabbing, for anyone following the WGA strike. We are not under contract with any studio; no one is waiting for this to be done. We started in September, long before the strike began. It will not be pitched to anyone until after the strike is over. It will not be finished until long after the strike is over. It’s very interesting and fun to write, but it deals with scientists. I anticipate writing some drafts where the dialogue says, literally, “SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE” until I can actually speak with a scientist who can write that part for me. Science is not the focus of the story—relationships are—but world-renowned physicists and mathematicians aren’t talking about tea parties, you know?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What is "usable form"?

I had my second radio interview yesterday. It was at a station in Iowa called KGLO AM, with Mark Dorenkamp. He was perfectly pleasant, reasonable, and, best of all, interested. This is not to say that other interviewers aren’t...but there is sometimes the sense that they’d, uh, rather be doing other things. But Mark asked about the book, why I wrote the book, what the process was like, and talked a lot about angels and people who have helped his friends and family. Seems there is a lot of car trouble in this country.
We also discussed the website, and he asked me when it would be up. Parroting what I have been told by my designer, I said, “A few days.” Now, the dirty secret is, I’ve been told “a few days” oh so many times...first it was “two weeks,” then “another ten days,” then “in a few days.” I just got an email from my designer that indicates that it’s going to be many, many more days, not a few. I am not techno-savvy enough to know exactly what is going on, but it seems the programmer is a lot more interested in security and “cross referencing” than in, say, getting the site into a “usable form.” It is currently nowhere near a “usable form” and he just can’t figure out how long it will take to put it into “usable form,” at least not any more specifically than “a few days.”
They’re working on it. I know they’re working on it. But I also know that I started this project (the website) back in MAY and I’m wondering why only now in November are we thinking about putting it into “usable form”? I am doing radio interviews. (Barbara’s aired last Friday.) I am telling show hosts, “The website will be up in just a couple of days! Just a few days!” because that is what I have been told. Meanwhile I have no way to gauge if anyone has even visited the site because IT IS NOT IN USABLE FORM. I don’t know if this whole “radio tour” was a stupid, bad idea and colossal waste of money. I don’t know if the website itself was a stupid, bad idea and colossal waste of money, because no one can get to it so I don’t know if anyone has tried to get to it because...say it with me...it is not in usable form.
Meanwhile my stats on Amazon are slipping, slipping, slipping. A week ago I was at 500,000...today I’m at 700,000...and a book called “Fur Trappers” dealing with the mountain men of the 1800s is at roughly the same spot. Sigh. I know my dad hasn’t done his Christmas shopping yet, so that’s one positive, but...sigh.
Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and it seems as if the Utah tour will not accompany it. This is fine. I will get some peace and solitude and, if all goes well, some writing done. I have several projects I can work on—just pick one! But it’s getting increasingly difficult to write. I think it’s a phase (I’ve been in them before) and it will pass, but it’s frustrating when it’s happening. The good thing is, at work we get Friday off, too, so I will have a glorious long weekend. I am thrilled. Even if I don’t write, I will sleep...I know it, because I don't have to get up in the morning, and late morning is when I know I can sleep.
Hopefully I will not dream of anything in “unusable form.”

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What are you thankful for?

Yes, it's the day after Halloween, and no, this post isn't going to talk about Halloween. I have no children and don't like to dress up myself (for a Halloween party on Saturday, I wrote "CAT" on a piece of paper and pinned that to my sweater), so Halloween is a non-event for me.

A real event: I had my first radio interview today. (The “first” was scheduled for November 20, as I mentioned in my previous post, but we scheduled a couple of others in the interim. ) If you missed it, fear not! It wasn’t live; it’ll be broadcast on Friday, November 9. In Athens, Georgia. Something tells me all my New York and Utah friends will miss it.

It was an interesting experience. I had drawn up a list of questions I thought she might ask, and equally drawn up what I might say. As I have mentioned before, I am not a part of the world where people can come up with snappy, articulate responses right in the moment they need them. I come up with the responses about 10 minutes later. Great for writing, not so good for a radio interview. “Wait, can I go back to that first question? I just thought of a funnier answer.” The spirit of the stairs. So, happily, I had anticipated most of these questions and had some decent answers. The hostess, Barbara Dooley, was perfectly nice and inquisitive and positive. A good first experience. The interview lasted 10 minutes. I hope they don’t cut it up, because it’s not that long to begin with.

I now have two interviews currently scheduled for November 20 and one on December 3. I believe I will have a few more in the interim, just not presently scheduled. I will have a running list on the “Media” section of my kathrynmaughan.com website. (At some point I hope to upload the actual interviews so people can listen to them. We’ll see if the technologically-challenged author actually can figure out how to do that.) I am also floating the idea of a Salt Lake City-based set of interviews, both on radio and television. Ideally this would happen right around Thanksgiving, so I could do a two-in-one trip: get in some local press coverage, and eat turkey with the family for the first time in years.

Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. I like to eat, of course I do. But think about it: hours and hours of preparation in order to sit down and eat one meal. Maybe, if your host/grandmother is traditional, you’ll all have to say what you’re thankful for first, but really, people, it’s...just...a...meal. Flying five hours, fighting crowds and traffic and getting bumped, to have dinner? Stay two nights on your old bed and then fly another five hours, fighting crowds and traffic and getting bumped?

My mother did not understand the first time I decided not to come home for Thanksgiving. She was hurt, even. I tried to explain my logic to her, and I figured, hey, she’s a practical woman (to a fault)—she’ll understand. She’ll be grateful she doesn’t have to fight the traffic and airport crowds. I was wrong. That year I chose to go to Paris instead of home, and I celebrated Thanksgiving in the Louvre eating quiche Lorraine. (That was a meal for which I was willing to fly hours and hours.) She told me it was stupid. I think she was referring to the expense, but still. Didn’t make me go to Utah the next year. I went my first year of grad school, and had three major projects hanging over my head and instead of the mattress they’ve had since I was 8 I decided to sleep on their “deluxe” bed in the guest room and probably slept a total of 15 hours over 4 nights. I have not gone home for Thanksgiving since. At Christmas, I sleep on the old bed.

If I lived closer to home, I would be willing to go home for it. If I didn’t have to fly, say, or the flight were one or two hours, that would be a different story. But New York to Utah for a piece of turkey no longer computes. On the other hand, New York to Utah for a few interviews and a piece of turkey...that’s another ballgame. That could potentially involve financial gain, and financial gain is something I would not mind at all.