I need a math geek who likes books

We are still slogging through all of last year’s math. (In addition to doing our taxes – always fun for two self-employed people – we are doing one of those Analyze Ever Blasted Penny We Spent Last Year things, in the hopes that maybe we won’t have to live in our grandchildren’s tree house in forty years.)

Oh, yeah. Party time in the Forest. ::serious sarcasm::

But I know it will eventually be all good, because I am something of a fiend for details and I like it when things add up properly on both sides of a balance sheet. It just takes me longer than other people because numbers are a bit of a problem for me. And yes, I do have an accountant. The thing is, if I show up with a suitcase worth of receipts and pay him to sort it out, I will have to go back to milking cows to pay that bill. So I try to do as much of the tallying as possible, then I sent the numbers to him (with the receipts to back them up) to properly crunch.

::sends sympathy to all the math teachers who turned to drink in despair when I was their student::

I have written a fair number of books in the past ten years and a couple of them have actually earned out their advances (for those of you who care about these things, the real number is three), so I am a delighted novice in this esoteric practice known as "having sold enough books to actually make it worthwhile to develop a royalty-tracking spreadsheet."

Only I don’t know how to make a spreadsheet. And Numbers does not have a template called "Lame Author Royalty Accounting."

Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Specifically, I am looking for a way to track advances, returns, royalties that comes in at different percentages ::shakes fist at the obscene deep-discount clause::, gross sales, and net sales.

I am hoping that one of you guys out there has already done this.

Second best scenario: someone directs me to a spreadsheet design and formula tutorial that will spell it out at the complexity level of a fourth grader, so I can have a little kid at the library explain it to me.

Can you help me?


Congratulations to all of the ALA Youth Award winners!!!

I am ESPECIALLY happy for Deb Heiligman (Charles & Emma) and Tanya Lee Stone (Almost Astronauts)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Congratulations everyone!

Life-Changing Brussels Sprouts

Last week on my Twitter feed, I raved about a Brussels sprouts recipe that Bookavore made for me. I am trying to be guided by Michael Pollan’s Food Rules guidelines ("Eat food. Not too much. Mostly vegetables."), and finding a Brussels sprouts recipe that would allow me to enjoy the slimy little suckers amazing cruciferous joys was a very exciting thing. Many of you requested the recipe, hence today’s post.

You know you lead a tame life when you get excited about Brussels sprouts.

The recipe comes from Bookavore’s friend, Ami Greko. I was hoping that Ami was a Dallas Cowboys fan, because then I could name them "Greko-Romo Brussels Sprouts."

Alas, she is not. (Which show good sense and humanity, IMHO. Since the Eagles have been bounced, I am rooting for the Saints.)

So we decided to call these, It’s All Greko To Me Brussels Sprouts.

"Take like ten brussels sprouts (if you’re just cooking them for yourself) and clean all the gross leaves off. Cut off the bottoms and cut them in half (helps to cut along the line of the leaves, but not necessary at all).

Put them in a bowl and give a couple good klunks of olive oil. While they’re sitting, heat up a frying pan and add enough oil to just coat the bottom. You can also use cooking spray for the pan, but it’s less delicious. When the pan is at like medium heat (before the oil starts to pop) use your fingers to mix the brussels sprouts into the olive oil and then put them all cut-side-down in the pan. Use the brussels sprouts to spread the oil evenly around the pan. Do a couple cranks of pepper and cover with a tight-fitting lid.

You’re basically steaming the brussels sprouts this way. Don’t test too much, because when you take off the lid you let all the steam out–after about five minutes, open and poke the top of one of the bigger sprouts to see if it’s soft. It will probably take more like 8-10 minutes. When they’re soft, take off the lid and flip a sprout over to see if the bottom is browned. It probably will be, but if not just turn up the heat and let them cook for another couple of minutes. You’re going for golden brown, but some dark-brown-kind-of-burned ones are also delicious. When the bottoms are browned, turn off the heat but leave the pan on the stove and flip the sprouts over to brown the other side. After a minute or two, add more pepper and some salt and toss in the pan. Move to a plate and put some parmesan or asiago cheese on them.  They are now perfect and totally ready for eating."


Mrs. Avery is Haunting Me & Awesome Idea at End of Post

Let’s start with the ridiculous today, shall we? For the last three days I have been suffering from a virulent earworm. (I get a lot of these, but rarely do they linger so long.)

The song?

Sylvia’s Mother by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. Please suffer with me:

And who wrote that song? Shel Silverstein. (Isn’t it time for long hair on guys to make a serious come-back?)

I’ve been thinking a lot about Haiti and what I can do to help. The first thought, of course, is to sell everything I own and buy a boat to sail down there so I can just do something, anything, like dig in concrete or pour water or adopt a thousand kids. None of that is realistic, sadly. I am, instead, thinking along the lines of auctioning off a character in my next book and sending the proceeds to a Haiti relief organization. More on that as it develops.

I am very proud to say that The NOLA Tree, an organization that coordinates teens who want to make the world a better place with projects that need their help, is stepping up to the plate. Up until now the focus has been helping to rebuild houses in New Orleans. Phil Bildner just blogged about the possibilities that The NOLA Tree can be of use in Haiti. Please read his post, send suggestions, and donate. (Truth in advertising: I am on The NOLA Tree’s board of advisors – totally volunteer. So is Ellen Hopkins.)

Bookavore, my daughter who runs a bookstore in Brooklyn, gave a presentation last week aimed at booksellers, but applicable to all of us. Her argument was that if we all spend ten percent of our time doing something that we care about that is fun, it more than enhances and enriches the remaining ninety percent. She uses her experience running a basketball league for book nerds as the model.

If you’re having trouble watching Bookavore’s video, you can read what she said on her blog.

I did a couple a super Skype** visits last week, one with a middle school class in Mississippi, and one with a public library in Colorado. I was asked a terrific question:

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

I’m not sure I would be a good collaberator with another writer. I am something of a control freak (my dog and husband are rolling on the ground laughing – they claim it is a bit more extreme than that) and so I would probably turn into Ms. Bossy Pants and my co-collaborator would flee the country to escape me. That would defeat the purpose.

I think it would be fun to work with someone in a different artistic field; a musician (looking at you, Tori Amos, please, please, please), the way that Shooter Jennings and Stephen King just worked together. If Tori is too busy, I’d jump at the chance to work with Dave Matthews, Jill Scott, Gretchen Wilson, or Sting. (Sade would be cool, too, but I know she’s real busy because SHE HAS A NEW ALBUM COMING OUT!!!) If you know any of them, feel free to let them know.

I answered another question that was posted on a friend’s blog this week (paraphrasing):

I blog, I read blogs, I have a FaceBook and a Twitter feed, and I read those of many other authors. But the online stuff is beginning to take over my writing time. How much is enough?

I started off my answer to her by waving a magic wand.

I hereby give you (all of you!) permission to turn off the Internet. Reading blogs will not turn you into a published author. Writing blogs won’t either. Writing books will. You have precious little time after your other responsibilities and if the goal is to write a book, well, then… write it.

I have an idea!!!

We had NaNoWriMo in November. December and January have been filled with revisions for many of us, and by many of us, I mean ME. And many of us want to finish up the current project so we can get hopping on the next one. So………..

Let’s make February a blog-free month.

(I heard that gasp. Breathe slowly. Into a paper bag. With your head between your knees.)

Do not panic. February is short! We could call it the new BFF: Blog-Free February.

If you do this, you’ll be at the cutting edge of the next digital trend: the Slow Media Movement. Give everyone a heads-up that you’re stepping away from blogging for a couple of weeks. If you are truly bold (or desperate) make February an Internet-free month, not just blog-free. On March 1st, write a blog (or a letter) evaluating any differences in your productivity during February.

What do you think? Pros? Cons? Shall we turn this into a Thing or let the matter drop because we need our blog reading and writing like we need oxygen?

**If you want to set up a Skype visit with me, email queenlouiseATwriterladyDOTcom.

Friday Five

1. The only thing of consequence on my mind is the suffering of the people of Haiti.

2. See above.

3. See above.

4. See above.

5. See above.

I’ll try to post again tomorrow. I actually have lots of news about various and sundry things, but honestly? It all seems trivial.

::bows head again::