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Quick But Important Question

Friday, December 30, 2005
If anyone has a family member living in an assisted living facility in southern Ontario (ideally in the Greater Toronto Area) and their family member is happy with the facility in question, could you please email me at ann at having@baby.com? Thanks.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:35 AM

Official Holiday Greeting et al.

Thursday, December 22, 2005
Knocking back coffee while exploring the ever-expanding momosphere has made 2005 a fun and memorable year for me. (Don't worry. I'm not going to launch into the nauseating end-of-year retrospective yet. I'll let you eat your turkey dinner first.) But because I've had such fun getting to know -- and in some cases getting to meet -- so many amazing Moms of the Blogosphere (does that make you members of the MOB?), I wanted to wish you all a fabulous Christmas/holiday.

I figured I should post this now because I have a feeling the next few days are going to fly by and I may not get another chance to blog (especially since I owe my editor a chapter of Mealtime Solutions before sundown tomorrow).

I will be answering more publishing questions over the next week -- I believe Tess and Andrea's questions are next in line -- so drop by if your adorable cherubs are bonking one another on the head with their new toys and you need a small break from the insanity.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:10 AM

Holiday Math

I had to hire a university student to help me wrap some of the Christmas gifts that are strewn all over my office so that I could make some inroads into the new book before I take a timeout for the holidays.

However, I turned down the chance to appear on Canada AM so that I could attend the eight-year-old's Christmas party.

I guess the crazy holiday balance sheet all tallies up somehow. Or at least I hope it does. If I'm running up any more deficits in the mom guilt category, I'm headed for serious trouble.

PS -- Don't even ask me about my holiday baking. In this house, that's a fictional concept this year.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:20 AM

Book Publishing Facts and Figures

Monday, December 19, 2005
Book publishing and marketing guru Dan Poynter pointed me in the direction of a book publishing stats, facts, and trends page that he maintains. If you'd rather think books than hit the malls today, I highly recommend it. (I also highly recommend not hitting the malls today, if you can avoid it.)

| posted by Ann D @ 11:54 AM

"So What Do You Think of Self-Publishing?"

Sunday, December 18, 2005
desk This is another question that I'm going to respond to with more than one answer because there are so many different dimensions to this question. Just as there's no one-size-fits-all parenting solution, there's no one-size-fits-all publishing solution. You have to consider the type of book you're proposing to write, the size of the market and the geographical spread of that market (e.g., is everyone located in one town or across the entire planet?), what skills you bring to the table as an author, and how much time and energy you have to invest in the project. So here are my thoughts on self-publishing.

ANSWER NUMBER ONE: I think self-publishing can be an incredibly exciting and empowering publishing option. It allows an author to conceive and give birth to her book -- to see the entire process through from start to finish. And some folks who have done it swear it's the only way to go. I'm thinking of people like cookbook self-publishing legends Janet and Greta Podleski and many of the folks in the Self-Publishing Hall of Fame directory that John Kremer maintains. And, as MJ Rose has noted repeatedly, the stigma that once left self-published authors feeling like second-class authors is no long there. (Not unless you want to argue that Margaret Atwood, Dave Eggers, and Steven King are all second-rate authors: they've all self-published at least one book.)

On and off over the years, I've flirted with the idea of self-publishing something, more as a creative exercise than for any other reason. I may do it at some point yet. I've just never found a project of mine that seemed better suited to self-publishing that to trade publishing. However, I'm always reading up on self-publishing because a lot of information that applies to self-publishing helps me in my life as a trade-published author. Besides, it's fascinating and inspiring stuff.

So why do some authors decide to go the self-publishing route with books that, some might argue, could just as easily find a home in any a trade publisher's publishing list?

That was one of the first questions I had for Marilyn Ross, co-author of such bestselling books as The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing and Jump Start Your Book Sales, when I interviewed her two years ago. She highlighted the following factors as being key to many authors making the decision to self-publish. (I'm excerpting from my interview, which was published in the members area of the ASJA website and in the PWAC newsletter.) Here's what Marilyn had to say:
Marilyn Ross: Self-publishing, once a case of last resort, is becoming the choice of more and more authors today. Writers are realizing that if they are expected to do the majority of publicity and promotion, why should they settle for a paltry ten percent? Done properly, this can be a lucrative business approach. A prominent publishing exec admitted that only one out of 10 books even earns out its advance. That's a ninety percent failure ratio! No savvy author would settle for such unreasonable terms. The main reasons people self-publish are as follows:

  • Control. We want to be in control of our writing/publishing destiny. It's terrible to have a publisher change your title, put on a cover that embarrasses you, slash your content unmercifully, and let your finished book languish in a warehouse somewhere.

  • Timing. After a book has been sold to a trade publisher, it typically takes 18 months to reach the marketplace. That's unreasonable. If your subject is timely or hot, you've completely missed your window of opportunity.

  • Availability of affordable review copies. When we publish a book I typically budget 400 to 500 free review copies. This is your very best advertising. With most trade deals, [getting this many review copies in circulation] would cost [the author] a small fortune.

  • Profit. You and I are serious professionals; we are in the business of writing. We can't afford to waste our time and skills on something that doesn't give us a decent return on investment. As a self-published author, you will start making the good money when you go back to press after the first print run. At this point, your editing, cover design, and typesetting costs are behind you. All you're paying for is the printing and whatever discounts you must give to middlemen. Some self-publishers make eighty percent of the retail price of the book at this point.

ANSWER NUMBER TWO: Self-publishing is the perfect publishing option for certain types of books. If you are considering a book that has a strong regional market and you feel confident that you can handle all the distribution yourself, then self-publishing suddenly becomes a very appealing option. It's also a terrific option for a book that is likely to have a very small initial print run. (Trade publishers need much more sizeable print runs in order to make a book work from an dollars-and-cents perspective.) Friesens (a printer which specializes in working with self-publishers) has compiled a list of books that explains the business factors that you'll want to consider as you decide whether self-publishing makes sense from an economic perspective.

ANSWER NUMBER THREE: Authors can be left feeling overworked and disillusioned if their dreams of big sales aren't realized. Of course, the same thing can apply to authors who have been published by trade book publishers as well. If the road to trade publishing nirvana is littered with unread manuscripts and remaindered books, the road to self-publishing nirvana is blocked with boxes of unsold books. Selling books is hard work. That's why publishers employ entire teams of people devoted to sales, marketing, and publicity -- and, if you're one of the authors at the top of a publisher's list, you will benefit hugely from the efforts of these people. If you fall a little further down the list, you should plan to BYOP (be your own publicist).

If you published your book yourself because you weren't able to find a publisher for your project, you may have learned the hard way why you ended up with so many up-front rejections: there simply wasn't a market for your book. And now you've got printer's bills and a basement full of books on top of a wounded ego to deal with.

That's why it's extremely important to research your market at least as thoroughly as you would if you were trying to sell your book concept to a trade book publsher. "Go to Amazon.com, enter your subject area, and spend a couple of days reviewing what's available," says Ross. "Go to a good independent bookstore where they know and love books. Talk to the owner or buyer and ask in their opinion what are the three best books in your topic area. Buy them. Read them. Study them. Now think about how to position your book to be better. What is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? Make your book longer, shorter, funnier, more reader-friendly, organized differently, or more complete. You could add stories to illustrate the points, sidebars of useful references, Internet links, a glossary, an appendix; your only limitation is your creativity. Think about your end user and develop the manuscript to aid that one person."

While you're in reality check mode, realize that you're going to need a serious amount of cash to produce a self-published book of the same quality as a decent trade-published book. "While Print on Demand (POD) now allows writers to print a few copies at a hefty price, I don't feel it is practical for the author who intends to make his or her book a commercial success," says Ross. "You need to get a low unit cost to be able to give those review copies away. So you're probably looking at somewhere between $6,000 and $20,000 US dollars to produce 3,000 copies. Be aware you're not just 'printing' the book; there are fees for editing, cover design, interior design/typesetting, printing, freight, etc. The variables are enormous -- length, hardcover versus soft cover, number of colors on the cover, interior photos, whether you do a lot of the work yourself, how shrewd you are in finding the appropriate book manufacturer -- all of these factors come into play. Just remember, this is a business. There is risk; for many there are huge rewards."

And remember that your job as an author/publisher is only beginning when the books arrive on your doorstep. "While the writing may have been fun, for many authors the sales and PR aspects feel about as comfortable as going bear hunting with a switch," says Ross. "There are ways around this where you can still promote and be comfortable. You can hook up with distributors that will place your books in the chains and independent bookstores. It's also interesting to note that fifty-two percent of all books are not sold in bookstores. They are merchandised via other venues such as the Internet, direct mail, in catalogs, through bulk premium sales to companies, via speaking engagements, to specialty retail outlets, etc. These ways of selling books can be very lucrative."

It's important to note that trade-published authors who are marketing and publicity savvy can also play an active role in helping to solicit spinoff sales for their books. The key is to work cooperatively with your book's marketing department so that you aren't accidentally working at cross-purposes or bumping into one another in the marketplace. Publishers love authors who have ideas and energy, so don't think it's an either/or proposition: you can either self-publish and be entrepreneurial when it comes to sales and marketing opportunities OR work with a traditional publisher. Sometimes you can have your sales and marketing cake and eat it too.

This is one in an ongoing series of Author University posts designed to encourage frank an honest discussion about the book publishing business life as an author.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:17 PM

"So, When Do You Find The Time to Write?"

Saturday, December 17, 2005
Like anything else related to writing or motherhood, there isn't a single -- or a simple -- answer to this question, so you may be getting more than you bargained for when you swung by my blog to ask this question. Just as I don't believe in whitewashing the truth when it comes to motherhood, I don't believe in pretending that everything about being a writer or an author is totally wonderful all the time. Perpetuating that myth would be like putting the same type of pressure to be happy all the time that is placed on new mothers on writers -- something that only serves to add to the feelings of loneliness and isolation of someone who may be having a really hard time. So here's a frank and honest response to the frequently asked question, "So, when do you find the time to write."

ANSWER NUMBER ONE: Sometimes I DON'T find the time to write. Sometimes life gets in the way of my writing because people I love die, my children pass through challenging stages that zap me of a lot of my creative energy, or other bad stuff happens and it takes me a while to rebound.

When life is going well and I'm able to write at a leisurely pace, I write when my kids are in school. I try not to go back to my computer in the evenings or on the weekends so that I can enjoy some serious timeoff. It took me years to figure out that this is important -- that I'm actually more productive, more creative, and happier when I take regular breaks.

Does my writing schedule work out perfectly day-after-day? Do I always sit down at my desk at exactly 9:30 am, open the lid of my computer, and type a brilliantly-worded sentence, smile to myself, and launch into my writing day? Of course not! That only happens in made-for-TV documentaries about writers -- and generally writers who don't have kids.

You see, there are times when writing and motherhood don't mesh together particularly well. Sometimes the writing is coming together just the way I want it to -- and then I have to stop writing because it's time to go and pick up a child from school or at a friend's house -- or drive a child to a middle-of-the-day dentist appointment. That is so frustrating, because I may have spent hours getting to the point where I know what I need to be saying and to get the words flowing just the way I want them to be flowing -- and suddenly I have to turn off the word tap and walk away. This is something that has been frustrating the heck out of writer/mothers since the beginning of time. I find it frustrating that I can't seem to make my family understand why a 15 minute interruption isn't just a 15 minute interruption. It can mean an entire writing day down the drain.

ANSWER NUMBER TWO: Sometimes I have no choice but to write. When I am sprinting towards a fast-approaching deadline (or a deadline that I spotted in the rear-view mirror a few miles back), the normal rules of time no longer apply. I write in every spare moment. In fact, the concept of "spare moment" goes out the window. The writing has to get done. Waiting for "the muse" to drop by isn't an option. This is when things start to get ugly. "Hell schedule" gets invoked. "Hell schedule" means not taking evenings and weekends. At its worst, "hell schedule" means working one shift during the day when the kids are in school and another shift after the eight-year-old goes to bed -- stumbling to bed in the wee hours of the morning, between 1:30 am and 3:30 am (only to dream restless dreams about writing and deadlines), knowing full well that I have to start the entire process all over again at 7:00 am.

Working crazy hours to get an article finished is one thing -- or even the final chapter or two of a book. But you can't sustain this pace indefinitely. I can do it for a few days, and then my body forces me to take a break, whether I want to or not. I fall asleep at my computer. I have to take an afternoon nap or go to bed early one day. And then I go back to "hell schedule" again until the dreaded deadline has been met, the task-master has been satisfied, and I get my life back.

ANSWER NUMBER THREE: I never stop writing. I write in my head all the time. In the shower, while I'm walking down the road at the cottage, when I'm talking on the phone, when I'm watching TV, when I'm listening to the radio, while I'm driving (which necessitates having a notepad, a Starbucks napkin, or something else I can scrawl on within grabbing distance), when I'm angry or upset or happy -- pretty much whenever. This is why my desk resembles a kaleidescope of ideas in progress -- post-it notes and napkins that are waiting to be fed into my idea journal or the electronic book/article idea file on my computer. (When I have a spare moment, I toss the bits of paper into a basket on my desk so that they don't get stuck in books or piles of research materials or scooped up the other stacks of materials that cascade across my workspace over the course of any given week.)

ANSWER NUMBER FOUR: I make the time to write. Even if I'm insanely busy doing writing I have to do, I'll still find time to do writing I want to do (witness this blog). I love the way that words connect me to other people. I love playing with words and language. I love the way that a random phrase will pop into my head, and suddenly a whole cluster of ideas will suggest themselves to me. I love writing, period. I know I will always be a writer, and that I will always write. It's a matter of finding the time to write at a saner pace so that writing continues to be an activity that is fun and soul nurturing and playful and creative. My biggest fear is that I will work so hard that I either burn myself out or I lose my love of writing. Next to losing someone I love, that would be the worst possible thing. What do you call yourself if you're a writer who no longer writes? There isn't even a word for that.

This is one in an ongoing series of Author University posts designed to encourage frank and honest discussion about the book publishing business and life as an author.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:12 AM

Top Gun, Indeed

Tom Cruise managed to zoom to the list of Fineman PR's top PR blunders. Are you surprised? I thought I'd post a link to the list to give you something to mull over while I'm working on those great book publishing questions you've been posting.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:05 AM

So Glad You Could Drop By...Don't Mind the Frozen Rat

Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Wow, how cool to be the featured blogger over at The Mom Salon this week -- and with a frozen dead rat birthday post at the top of my blog and everything. Do I know how to make company feel welcome or what? (Yes, it's like this if you visit me in real life. Do you think I just fake being crazy on my blog? Do you honestly think I'm this good an actress? Come on.)

If you scroll down a little, you'll see that I'm about to start answering book publishing questions (a discussion that I'm hoping other writers will join in on, by the way) and that we're in the midst of a discussion about reasons why we blog. It's not all about husbands heading for Texas on their wives' birthdays and leaving their lives to bury the frozen dead rat.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:26 PM

Surprise in the Box!

Monday, December 12, 2005
If you're hungry and you swing by our place looking for a snack, don't open the box of Quaker Oatmeal Crisp Apple cereal in the garage.

It contains a frozen rat.

Not just any rat, mind you -- Lydia, the recently deceased pet of my teenage daughter. (Lydia, who is infamous for murdering two of her former roommates -- ratmates, not humans -- passed away sometime today.)

The whole thing creeps me out, but not as much as the fact that we'll be having the funeral on my birthday tomorrow -- a day when my husband is heading off to Texas, leaving me alone with four kids....

He has no choice -- it's a business trip -- but it really does suck, my being left at home to bury a frozen dead rat on my birthday, don't you think?

| posted by Ann D @ 10:33 PM

Hope, Love, and Charity

I'm going to start answering the book publishing questions tonight, but I couldn't resist telling you this story about what my eight year old said to me on his way to school this morning. (So, yes, the book publishing thread gets interrupted for an I-love-my-kid story. It's my right as a mommy blogger.) :-)

Anyway, we're driving across town and he starts rattling the bag of change he keeps stashed away in the back seat. (It's under $5 worth of change, burglars, so don't get too excited.)

Then he says to me:

"I want to give some money to people who really need it, so can you give my bag of change to the Starvation Army if you see them today?"

Well, that just about melted my heart -- both the fact that he's thinking about other people at this time of year, and the fact that he didn't get the name of the charity quite right.

My kid is awesome.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:19 PM

Your Top Book Publishing Questions Answered

It's all about the glamour....and the money....and the coffee, right? (Okay, it is about the coffee.) If you've ever wanted to ask a question about the wild and crazy world of book publishing, this is your chance. The author is in. So post your questions below and I'll take a crack at them over the next few days. If I don't know the answer to your question, chances are I know someone who does, or someone who knows someone who does. Or someone who once dated someone who knows someone who does.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:28 AM

Why I Blog

Friday, December 09, 2005
I'm being interviewed by a reporter who is working on a story on moms and blogging. I started making a list to explain why I blog. Thought I'd post it to my blog in case any of you want to comment on or add to my list. Here's it is.

Why I blog

  • So that I can share information, ideas, and other resources that I've come across in my travels -- information that could be useful to some other mother.

  • So that I can keep in touch with other moms I've met while exploring the "momosphere".

  • So I have a place to experiment with types of writing that I might not have the chance to try in my "day job" as a journalist and author.

  • Because it's fun.

  • Because it gives me an opportunity to capture outtakes from my family's life -- moments that I might not otherwise take the time to record. (I'm not a "baby book" type mom, and I've never been the kind of mom who keeps a detailed journal either. But blogging has come naturally to me for some reason, perhaps because it's something I can do whenever I am inspired, with no pressure to make it a daily habit -- although it often has been a daily habit for me.)

  • Because it allows me to initiate a dialogue with other mothers on issues that I believe are important -- or to react to stories that are in the media, something that I have read on the Web or in another mother's blog. In other words, it allows me to engage in an ongoing dialogue about motherhood with anyone who drops by my blog, or whose blog I choose to visit.

  • Because mother-bloggers are such interesting people. They tend to be smart, articulate, well-read, opinionated, and passionate about motherhood. (Check out the links in my sidebar and you'll see what I mean. BTW -- I have about another 40 to 50 links bookmarked and ready to add to my sidebar, which means that pretty soon I'm going to have to start an overflow page. Time to start rethinking the structure of my blog. But that's fun, too, which brings me to yet another reason I love blogging -- it challenges my creativity on the artistic/design/computer level. Those are skills I've had to develop in order to thrive in the blogosphere.)

  • To feel less alone when I'm having The Mother of All Bad Days.

  • To celebrate those wonderful moments as a mother -- those moments that make the bad days a lot less painful.

  • To seek information, clarity, resources, and/or support when I'm struggling with a particular issue as a mother. It's like having the entire "momosphere" standing behind you, ready to lend support when you need it. There's an incredible spirit of sharing amongst bloggers. You receive support and you give back.

I'm going to keep adding to this list, I'm sure, but I'd love to hear what you have to say. If you're a mom who blogs, do you blog for any of the same reasons as I do? What other reasons do you blog?


Technorati tags:

| posted by Ann D @ 11:45 AM

The Mom Who Survived Christmas

This something different from me: a free-form riff on holiday motherhood. Let me know what you think. (This is a different type of writing for me.)

| posted by Ann D @ 11:01 AM

It's the Most Wonderful Time of The Year....

Tuesday, December 06, 2005
'Tis the season of joy and bliss....and panic....and to do lists....and sibling bickering....and grumpy mothers. If you're starting to feel just a little wee bit freaked out (or you just want to check out some quotes from some of your favorite bloggers), you won't want to miss the following articles, which are running over at CanadianLiving.com this week.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:23 AM

Two More Supremely Cool Online Tools

Monday, December 05, 2005
Okay: it's official. I've developed an addiction to online organizing tools.

(Are you surprised? Do I do anything in moderation?)

Anyway. Here are my two latest loves:

logoRememberthemilk.com: A to do list for those of us who like our to do lists to be fun, funky, and functional.

Backpack: An online brainstorming space that keeps you organized while allowing you to share your thoughts and ideas with other people. Too cool.logo

| posted by Ann D @ 5:19 PM

Cool Online Food Diary: EATracker.ca

Saturday, December 03, 2005
Instead of spending a small fortune to join an online weight loss site in the New Year, just to have access to an online food diary, why not check out this online food diary that's available from Dietitians of Canada.

I've used some of the online food diaries available through some of the commercial weight loss sites and I find that this one is as good or better -- and it's free. It also provides you with daily feedback on how you're doing on the food and exercise fronts. If, for example, you might be overdoing it with the caffeine just a wee bit, it tells you that -- but in a non-bossy way. I like that!


| posted by Ann D @ 1:18 PM

Everyone Loves a Winner

My eight-year-old is busy assembling and packaging the "I finished my book" prize packs that are going out to Marla, Dani, Scarbiedoll, Nancy, and Silver Creek Mom. (Don't think "child labor." Think "work experience.")

The packages will be hitting the mail Monday morning.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:01 PM

That's "Ta Da" -- Not "To Do"!

Friday, December 02, 2005
Okay, you've got a few things to make lists of at this time of year.

There's the list of things you have to buy for people. (Here are two items that belong in the "those things actually still exist" category: this book and these containers. Got anyone on your list you want to play mind games with?)

There's the list of things you wouldn't mind receiving for Christmas. If you haven't started your list yet, here are a few items you might want to put on your holiday wish list: Now You Mombo, the LUSH Christmas Soap Stack, the Levenger Perpetual Journal.

And then there's the list of all the things you actually have to accomplish between now and Christmas Day. Like catching a virus so that you're too sick to attend the Christmas cookie exchange you (insanely) agreed to attend in a moment of weakness. Like spreading that virus to your spouse so that you can opt out of his office Christmas party. Like sending out the Christmas cards.

So how are you going to keep it all together, so that you don't start acting like some crazy, sleep-deprived author?
tada list logo
What you need is to start yourself a TaDaList. I just found the site a few weeks ago, and I'm totally hooked. You can create these cool online to do lists for yourself and share them with other people (e.g., potential application: delegating chores to other people). You can email them to yourself or monitor any changes to your lists via RSS feeds. So check it out. What have you got to lose but the mental clutter that's making you stressed out and grumpy during the season of good cheer -- or supposedly good cheer. (They do tend to oversell this time of year just a tad, don't you think?)

| posted by Ann D @ 2:46 PM

Postcards from the Sleep Deprivation Lab

Thursday, December 01, 2005
This is a cautionary tale about what happens to your brain the day after coffee starts tasting blechy.

I decided it was time to put money in the bank (as opposed to just taking it out) so I filled out my business bank deposit book and went to the branch that's closest to Starbucks. The teller (who, thankfully, knows me) gently pointed out that I had written the wrong account number on the back of all of my cheques. (I had made up an account number that was a blend of my personal bank account number and my business bank account number. Unfortunately, these guys don't give you extra marks for creativity.)

So the next time you think you're feeling pretty normal after not getting very much sleep for a very long time, you might want to ask for a second opinion. I got my second opinion from the bank teller. She suggested that I not attempt anything risky or complicated today. I will resist the temptation to juggle knives or to otherwise engage in any of my usual fun and reckless daytime endeavours.

PS -- Thank you for all your lovely posts below. I am scared to reply to them right now because when I first loaded my blog, I got a pure black page. That's never happened to me before. I think I should quit while I'm ahead and back away from the computer.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:58 PM

I'm Back....

book cover
And the sleep book is finished! I can't tell you what a relief that is. This book was the toughest book I have ever written (talk about a complex and controversial subject), and I felt that I had to "do it right" -- even if that meant being (gulp) four months overdue with this book.

I have had some amazing support from friends (both online and offline), fellow writers, and family members who, I am sure, thought I had either lost my ability to write, my mind, or both. (And at times I was starting to wonder myself.) And my publisher has broken all the rules of the publishing game by extending the deadline for the sleep book and Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler, which is also due out in the spring.

Sometimes writing a book is hell. And writing this book was hell. But the final product was worth it. (Why do I feel like I'm describing the process of giving birth?) Anyway, I think it is one of the best books I have ever written. I am really proud of it, and I hope that the parents who served on the book panel, the experts who have painstakingly reviewed every word (and almost died of exhaustion as a result!), and everyone I stalked mercilessly for sleep stats, facts, etc., will also agree that it was worth it.

I start "author review" on the book in the morning (after I've had a few hours of sleep). That's the "speak now or forever hold your peace" stage of going over your book, after it's been copy-edited, but before it goes into production. So tomorrow will be a day of re-reading the book, obsessing about all the things that I wish I could add, reminding myself that my editor will axe-murder me if I even try to go there, given that I am about ten billion words over the word count by now -- I stopped counting because it was getting embarrassing). In the end, I will have to simply know that I did the best possible job I could, and that the rest is out of my hands -- a feeling not unlike the experience of being the parent of teenagers who march increasingly closer towards independence -- a stage that will represent The Mother of All Transitions for them and for me.

But before I make myself CRY at the end of what started out as a happy post, I suppose I should get to the prizes. Remember the prizes? The reason that Dani and Marla have been stalking this blog every hour on the hour for 168 hours or so? Yep, it's time to take your chance at winning one of those prizes. And I've given the insomniacs and sleep-deprived parents (and the West Coasters) an unfair advantage, given the timing of this post. Well who, other than my Dad, ever said that life was supposed to be fair? (And even Dad recanted when I pressed him on the issue.)

If you want to be counted as a winner, you must

1. Be one of the first five people to post here and (the next element is a compulsory, skill-testing element)
2. E-mail me using the following subject line in order to beat the dreaded Ann Douglas SPAM filter: blog content winner. (Yep, that is sophisticated, but, c'mon, I've been averaging less than five hours sleep per night since before CANADIAN Thanksgiving.) If you don't follow the instructions to a tee, your reply will be lost forever in Ann SPAM (I get 700+ email messages per day, about 75% of which are about body parts I don't have), and I won't be able to give you a prize.


In case you're wondering what the book is going to look like, I was able to get my hot little hands on a .jpeg of the cover the other day, and I've been holding off on posting it until now. (You have to know this was killing me.)

| posted by Ann D @ 12:02 AM