Saturday, January 01, 2011

2011 is off to a good start

Is New Year's Day an omen of how the year will go? In so many ways I hope so. The highlight of the day was TCU's close but decisive win of the Rose Bowl. Who thought a school of 8700 could field a team against a school of 42,000 students and win? Jordan and Christian and Susan and Jay and I watched, while Jacob boycotted us and watched the Disney channel in my office. I'm curious to see what changes this big, national win will have on campus--it can either focus attention completely on athletics at the cost of academics or it can help boost all facets of the university. I'm hoping for the latter--and for a strong university press as part of the deal.
The day was also off to a good cooking start--sort of a no-brainer but I heated a spiral-sliced ham, made mashed potatoes, heated canned black-eyed peas (I never can cook them from scratch so they're any good, but, Barbara, if you're reading this I can still do purple hulls as you showed me years ago). I made a Reuben spread for an appetizer, and Jay brought an amazing array of cookies and sweets that he'd baked over the holidays. Jacob helped me cook--he's suddenly crazy about cooking (if he's in the right mood and has his apron). He helped make salad dressing, dumped the peas into a saucepan, watched me unwrap the ham carefully, and at the table took credit for much of the meal. We all praised him. I wanted him to keep his apron on so we could have our pictures taken but a blow-up over whether the TCU game or Rudolph should be on the TV put him in a bad mood--and he was moody off and off all evening. I know, I know, I believe in discipline but it just breaks my heart when he sobs. The typical soft-hearted grandmother.
And the day was a good omen for writing (I hope)--I submitted my mystery, Skeleton in a Dead Space, to a small press. The fact that I'm going to try a few small presses and then go to self-publishing is indicative of the changes we've seen in publishing just over the past year. Self-publishing has lost it's tinge of disgrace (though some bad books still see their way to at least electronic print that way), small presses are doing gangbuster things, and some people predict the decline of the chain bookstores and a resurgence of the indie stores. All laudable trends since publishing in New York has been sort of a closed circle that it was hard-to-impossible for a beginner to enter. I don't think this is sour grapes because an agent submitted my mystery to the major big publishers without success--I think it's more a recognition of the changing face of publishing. I'm not going to justify the fact that a major publisher wasn't swept away by my book--I know how many mystery writers there are out there. But with my small press background, I'm cheering the new approach to books and publishing.
Technology is changing so fast too--Jay brought over tonight the book Susan made him for Christmas, a chronological record of the dishes he has cooked for them over the last two or three years. She took the pictures with her iPhone, designed it on her computer, and sent it off to some service of Apple to be bound. Result is a quality book, hard-bound, dust jacket and all--and to my eye good color. (OK, Melinda, your eye would be more discerning). I was much impressed, and Jay was sentimental about it. He is, by the by, a great experimental cook and creates some wonderful dishes!
I would happily accept my day as an omen for the new year except for nagging distress over Jacob's meltdowns--I guess that's all part of being four. I hope each of you found as much pleasure in your day and look forward to a great year.

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