Thursday, 26 July 2012

Even cowgirls get the muse

The digital files for Amigas are in the usual state of to and fro between me and Jason of meBooks: I ask, Can that font be reduced? Can this colour be restored? Oh, and there's a comma I overlooked . . .  He practically always says yes. Cheerfully, as far as I can tell.

Doug who makes and maintains websites for artists has been given a list of alterations to be made before next week's (pleasegod) launch.

At my request, Elena has sent photos and text. I still haven't found out what variety of camelid she's riding below.

Here she touchingly describes our meeting in Iowa five years ago (try it in your dashboard translator if you don't read in Spanish):

"Conocí a Penélope en Iowa durante mi residencia en el Programa Internacional de Escritores.

Recuerdo que llegué tarde al hotel y me dijeron que debía estar a una hora determinada en el atrio para conocer a los demás participantes. Cuando las puertas del ascensor se abrieron vi dos ojos enormes y una sonrisa en el centro del salón y caminé hacia esa mujer alta sin dudarlo. Era ella. Apenas lográbamos entendernos; pero ya éramos amigas. Sería un error decir que estrechamos los lazos durante tres meses: creo más bien que los tres meses sirvieron para entender qué nos reunió desde el primer momento."

On Rosa Mira's Facebook page I posted the cover image of the collection Elena contributed to, that was published last year, No me lo cuentes a nadie (Don't tell anyone) a book of letters between women writers who are also friends. It received this warm review in GRUNDmagazine, page 41. Again, it helps if you can read castellano.

And just to prove that Elena and I were amigas decades before we met:

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Rat as antidote.

There's nothing nicer than having your feet up on the sunny windowsill. Buttered sweetcorn takes some beating, too.

The boss is in a bit of a frazzle. Her brow is knotted. Her shoulders, too. She mutters away, asking how come she forgets every time how much work there always is the week before an ebook launch, and how many details wait in ambush blah blah blah. She frets about being publisher and published, when one is fraught enough without the other. Checking the ePub files, she observes how tortured her prose yadda yadda. Thank goddess for Elena! She's serene in Lily-the-Pink-land and at least her chapters remain enchanting . . .

Anyway, the boss thinks I should be up and running but thanks to my Argentinean wife, I've come to believe in La Siesta so that's where I'll be once I'm down to the cob. In between mouthfuls, I'll mention the students in Coral Atkinson's Whitireia Online Publishing class, who have come up with many ingenious and practical marketing suggestions: Kaahu Bennett, Nicola van Arndt, Mary Hay, David Langman, and Laura Sarsfield. Thanks, Kaahu, Nicola, Mary, David, Laura and Coral! Awesome work. The boss'll keep you filled in on how it all pans out.

As I write, the boss chuckles. An email from her amiga, Elena: Don't worry at all, is absolutely the same at the opposite for me. I like your write jajajajaja. Probably is not going to be our best novel but we did a good job. We did an original novel and we celebrate our friendship which is a lot. We were honest.  I am very happy …   "This is true," says the boss with a smile. "We're celebrating friendship — ours first of all, and in our novel the friendship between Jude and Claudia, between Judith and Adriana . . . Yes, this a good job."

Before they had an inkling that one day they'd meet: Elena Bossi and Penelope Todd.

Okay, so can we please get some kip now? Not you, dear reader. You may tiptoe over to Dorothee's site to check out her new publishing venture, Beware the Timid Life, which makes our outfit look timid indeed. If you have an  iPad with iBooks 2, you're ready to load up her playful and surprising exploration of the first American sexual revolution.  It's a new kind of eBook – "An Exhibit, A Story, A Salon." I'll let you know when it's ready for the Kindle. Meanwhile, you can revel in some of the same themes reading The Glass Harmonica.

Bravo, Dorothee.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Amigas: reviewers sought

All right then. Time to get Amigas on the road. We'd like to have it ready for you by this time next week. My loins are girded — in lederhosen from Schladming where, incidentally, Arnie Schwarzenegger buys his shoes. The week ahead is a large and interesting obstacle course. I have a plan and a new pair of glasses. I've almost learned to yodel. Lily the Pink insists that gaucho pants and tango melodies would be more apt for my preparations to release the world's first Argentinean-New Zealand collaborative, bilingual novel. But we rats take what lies at hand and anyway, as Claudia tells Jude in one of her letters, tango is for old people.

Lily and the ratadilloes have gone off to las pampas for a week or two, while I'm preoccupied. She'll send back the odd photo to illustrate my campaign.

Jason of meBooks has sent us the ePub file for checking. A class of five fantastic publishing students has come up with a marketing plan. I'm going to chew my way through that document, savouring and activating its contents. Someone has to write a newsletter. Someone has to contact a few media types. Someone has to break the rusty hinges on the Twitter account and get tweeting.

As for Amigas: in 1969 two young teens meet while stranded by fog in the airport in Rome — Claudia from Argentina, Jude from New Zealand. They swan around together and become friends. Over the following decade, they exchange letters, until the flow peters out during Argentina's dirty war. Forty years later, Jude finds herself again in the Fiuminicio airport and again has a significant encounter.

That's the gist. The ebook doesn't necessarily take the reader in chronological order, but that's over to you. Our story is about friendship and loss and coming to terms with what is.

If anyone would like to review an advance copy of Amigas, please contact me via the comment stream.

Okay, I'm going to hunker down and eat a piece of cheese dunked in maté before I plunge into the obstacle course.

Hasta luego.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Cover uncovered

I promised to post Lily the Pink's photo of the cover image of Amigas. The plan is to send the proofs this weekend to be formatted, which means that by the end of July the ebook should be available on Rosa Mira Books.

Our story begins (chronologically — there's more than one way to read it) in 1969, when two teenaged girls, from New Zealand and Argentina, meet while stranded in the airport in Rome. They strike up a friendship and go on to exchange letters from their two countries, into the years of Argentina's dirty war. Forty years later, the threads of their stories are taken up again — in NZ, in Argentina, and in the airport in Rome.

For your weekend entertainment, nothing to do with ebooks:
a nine-year-old English boy producing Monet-like paintings; a brief introduction to particle physicist and ecological wise-woman, Dr Vandana Shiva; and does it really sound like a Cuban dance melody? The music of the Higgs Boson.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Almost uncovered

Ratty and Dasychord are picking the sellotape from the cover of the English-Spanish novel Amigas, to be launched this month. The cover image was created by Pablo Accame (some of whose short videos you can see here), son of author, Elena Bossi (talking here with Tim Jones). Isgar and the local hooligan-bird look on while Lily prepares to photograph the unveiling. I'll post the photo next time.

It's been a great collaboration from start to finish. Elena and I met in Iowa in 2007 (thanks to Creative NZ), wrote our novel over the next two years and had its component parts translated into the other's language. When we met in Argentina in 2009 (gracias otra vez a Creative New Zealand), we spent three weeks examining our translations, checking words, facts and intention, and swapping songs on Youtube (our chapter set in 1969 is called 'Hey Jude').  Since then we've heeded the comments of a handful of discerning readers. Emma Neale did a manuscript assessment for us and we're grateful for her fine critique. While I continue to have mixed feelings about being both author and publisher in this case, Elena and I needed to stop tinkering, and to issue Amigas from Rosa Mira Books seemed the most straightforward route to producing a bilingual edition of our novel.

Book designer Caroline Jackson has put links between chapters for those who wish to read in both Spanish and English. By the same means, the letters that comprise the chapter 'Dear Claudia' can be read each in their original language.

In Argentina, besides working, we tried on clothes (everywhere we went but also) at 'Amigas' here in the small pampas town of Ayacucha (was it, Elena?).