Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Dogs, books, You-Tube, agents

'Twas a dark and stormy night . . . only it really wasn't. It just grew suddenly very dark about 5 p.m. and looked threatening. The wind blew, and I know there are storms to the north of us but not here. Still, Scooby, who spent the afternoon inside because it was so very hot, refused to go out. When I finally persuaded him (with a leash) to eat his dinner and promised I'd bring him in at any sign of thunder or rain, he went--and promptly peed a lake, which I knew he had to do. But now he's done what I call his "I'm mad at my mother" trick. I keep his dish on the top step outside the back door--so easy to refill. When he's feeling vengeful, he pulls it down and puts it out on the lawn so I have to go fetch it. And tonight he didn't even eat all his food--it's scattered all over the back steps so I can slide on it in the morning. So far, it hasn't shown any signs of storm, but he's safely in again.
Today at a book luncheon at TCU I presented three books that have recently enthralled me (I may have talked about them here already): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which gives along with much enjoyment a real and chilling history of the Nazi occupation of the channel islands off England's coast during WWII; but it's more than that--it's a story about a people surviving, a writer becoming interested in them and finally travelling to Guernsey, all told in letters. It's truly warm and wonderful--and I was amazed only two people in the room had read it. It's been very popular.
The second one also used letters to tell part of the story: Comfort and Mirth, by Lori Swick (TCU Press) is the story of a young bride, moving from Seattle to Austin, Texas, where her husband will teach philosophy (that relates to the title and their ongoing debates about what is happiness). Camille is an herbalist and we learn about herbs through her, but we also learn about racial issues in Austin in the first decade of the twentieth century, women's rights movements (and a good bit about Elisabet Ney), and the treatment of the mentally ill, which was appalling. People found it Sunday entertainment to go watch the inmates of the institution for idiots and the insane (or some similar title). In spite of all that, it's a gentle novel, about one determed women's process of maturing. We learn much of the story through her letters home to her mother. The ending is a real surprise.
And the third was The School of Essential Ingredients, about which I earlier blogged at length, so I wont go into it here except to say it's a book that I hope stays with me a long time.
Last night I got the You-Tube video of the session of me making southwestern tuna salad. Of course, I thought it was awful--I looked frumpy, I forgot to take my monitor off, my shirt was hiked up over my rump. I couldn't get any audio but I got it today at work. I've had several emails from kids and friends saying I should be the next Food Network challenger--aren't they nice? Here's the link if it works: Which reminds me, I really got hooked into the recent Food Network Challenge and was rooting for the young woman who won--she was the only one without professional cooking experience. Her show debuts Sunday at 11:30 and I'll watch--unless Sue and I work it out to go to see Julie and Julia at the 11:00 am showing.
I've spent tonight rewriting a contract for the press. We don't often have to deal with authors who have agents, so it's always a shock. In this particular case I thought I was doing the agent a courtesy by sending him a draft of the contract. He hacked it up in ways I couldn't possibly accept, and I said I guessed we'd have to step aside. Then the author said he had told the agent to conform to anything we wanted--he really wanted TCU Press to publish his book. That was a big ego boost, since he's a well known author. So tonight I rewrote the contract, laboriously including as many of the agent's changes as I could accept. I really tried to be appeasing, so we'll see what happens. We'd like to publish the book--it's good, and the author is well respected. See how I'm still hooked to the press? Spent the morning there in staff meeting and then doing odds and ends. So far it's an arrangement I like a lot.
But tomorrow, nothing on my calendar until lunch--I can sleep late!

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