Kickstarter timeline

UPDATE: Eep, the official launch date is going to be MUCH later, due to…well, I think it must have been a misunderstanding. It’ll be March 6th; we’ll be officially launching at FogCon, where I’m an honored guest. There will probably be some kind of party. The rest of the above still holds, though — Kickstarter editions will be available VERY shortly; we’re hoping to start shipping those out in about two weeks.

ORIGINAL POST: I think we’re finalizing the Feast timeline a little bit more. (Oh the tiny little delays all along the pipeline that add up to weeks and weeks….) This is what I have right now:

– September 15: soft launch for Kickstarter edition hardcover and paperback

– by October 15: e-book ready (hopefully) and sent out to Kickstarter backers

– between Sept 15 & Dec 15, I’ll have copies with me for local events, and when I’m visiting various places (Bay Area, possibly Farmington, CT, Montreal, possibly Madison, Los Angeles, Columbus)

– December 15: actual launch

– after Dec 15, more events, mostly TBD, but definitely including Seattle, Bay Area, Orlando, Madison — any media push will be aimed for after this point.

The main difference is that the Kickstarter edition costs more to print (POD instead of through an offset printer), so it’s a higher unit cost for me. But we can’t get the offset version faster, and in fact, if you want copies for holiday gifting, I strongly encourage you to get the Kickstarter edition! Don’t worry about a few dollars one way or another for me, please. 

If you are moved to leave a review on Amazon or elsewhere, that would be very much appreciated; I’m hoping some early reviews from the soft launch will build excitement for the actual launch.



Leveled up!

Yesterday, I felt like I leveled up in cooking — I made a batch of passion fruit marshmallows AND a batch of cashew milk toffee AT THE SAME TIME, and they both came out perfectly and nothing burned. Woot! (Yay for timers and exact measurements on candy thermometers.)

Making sweets for Cee Gee‘s art gallery show tonight — at least that’s the hope, if I can get the address to drop them off at!



Gluten free cookbook question!

Gluten-free cookbook question! So, I promised a gluten-free e-book of Sri Lankan recipes as part of the Feast Kickstarter. I thought I’d work on it over the summer, but no. That’s okay, I think, but I’m going to start working on it now, and expect to have it done by end of October. It won’t be a copy of everything in Feast, made gluten-free — more of a sampler.

Now, much of Feast already is gluten-free! Since Sri Lankan cuisine is more rice-based than wheat-based, that helps a lot. Wheat has crept into some traditional rice-based recipes, mostly because it makes dough softer, but we can just take it out again and go more traditional, so that’s easy.

So mostly, I think what I should do is:

a) choose the best of what’s already there and already gluten-free (in each section — appetizers, entrees, etc.)

b) take the wheat-infused recipes back to the rice-based versions, and then

c) come up with some extra recipes which will be exciting to gluten-free people — and that last step is where I get stuck.

What is exciting to gluten-free people? What kinds of things do you crave, that are then hard to find recipes for? I am looking forward to experimenting in the kitchen this fall, but pointers to the right kinds of things to develop would be very helpful!


A memoir, in its own way

Jeremy has delivered the final, indexed and fully designed, text of Feast of Serendib. I am feeling weirdly emotional about the whole thing. My cookbook makes me want to cry. I’m not sure that’s normal.

It’s a memoir, you know. In its own way, though not exactly the sort of memoir I learned to write in my creative nonfiction class. But I think I’ll send my professor a copy anyway…


Uploading the official ARCs

Okay, we’re now uploading official ARCs, eep. Will order copies for big review outlets, and for ourselves, and then will have hopefully only minor proofing edits before we’re ready to actually go to print. One thing that might change is the back cover — I admit, I don’t love having a photo of me there, but I think that’s probably just self-consciousness and I should get over it?

But on the other hand, I’m kind of hoping we get a nice review or two from a big outlet (or maybe a blurb from a famous food person — do I know any famous food people, or people who know famous food people?), in which case, we’ll be editing the back cover to make space for them anyway. So maybe best not to fret about it now…

Kickstarter folks, my plan is that you’ll get your SPECIAL ADVANCE COPY as soon as we proof the ARC. This will be a limited edition run just for Kickstarter backers, so you’ll get it in August, barring unforeseen complications. Everyone else has to wait to official launch in October, the poor saps. Your edition probably won’t have blurbs on the back cover, but I assume you’re okay with that.  Again, thank you!

(Heather Rainwater Campbell! Today, can you go through the Kickstarter rewards list, and make sure we’re all set to actually fulfill all the rewards? I need to make someone a scarf, for example, and I’d love to ship it to them in August, which means I need to get the yarn and get cracking on that ASAP. I’ll need to make curry powder, etc., so may need to order more spices. And IMPORTANT, we’re supposed to list the backers somewhere, and I don’t remember where…in the hardcover? In the ebook? Both? On the website…?)


Keeping the writing shed minimal and uncluttered

Quick housekeeping note — I’ve been trying to keep the shed as minimal and monk-like as possible, to be free from writing distraction, but it does need a few items — some gardening gloves and tools for stepping out and dealing with some bit that’s bugging me, mosquito spray ditto (although mostly, closing the doors at that point in the evening + fan + bug zapper seems to work), candles and incense for putting me in the zone, and a bit of yarn work for thinking & dreaming time.

It was all getting a little cluttered on that corner shelf (wish I had a before picture, but I am too lazy to take it all out just to photograph it for you), but I was restlessly walking around a few nights ago, went to Target, and found these bins in that little front section.

$3 for a pair of the grey rectangles, $5 for the basket, which is totally a steal. They have them in a few shades of grey (and the rectangles in a few sizes), and now I’m trying to think if there’s anywhere else in the house where we need organization. The baskets aren’t really sturdy enough to stand up to heavy daily use, but for light duty, perfect. The bargain shopper in me is v. pleased.


Shed window curtains

Hm. Well, this is a semi-success. On the one hand, I needed curtains in the shed windows, because the sun coming in makes it too hot in the height of summer, and the lack of insulation makes it too cold in the depth of winter. And the curtains took 20 minutes to cut and sew, another 5 minutes to hang, and I do love the fabric I used for this, Robert Allen’s Folkworld pattern in the Aquatint color way, which I used a little under two yards of, at $15 / yard on remnant clearance at

BUT — I think maybe this isn’t what I want for this space long-term. I had waffled and waffled, thinking about map prints and space prints and finally settled on this one because I like it so. I do like it! We used the same print in his Admiral colorway for the backing cushions in our eat-in area, and it’s perfect there, we get so many compliments.

This is equally charming, and the animals are certainly appropriate to the garden. I particularly like how the gold thread I used picks up the gold of the flowers; I think it’s an interesting decorative element added to the curtains.

BUT, I think maybe I should’ve gone with my original plan and just stuck to off-white to match the interior monk-like paint job (or grey, the color of the chair and accent pieces). Because the star of the show in my shed really is the garden, and this fabric (which I bought 6 yards of, so enough to also do coordinating curtains for the long French doors AND probably the little single window on the opposite side) is sort of too pretty in its own right. It’s actually distracting me from the garden’s loveliness, rather than complementing it, I think.

Hm. I suppose I will leave these up until I have time and energy to go buy off-white fabric and re-do them, which may be a while. They can be functional, at least.

But that said, if any locals reading this has an interest in some 5′ long curtains (just covering a 4′ wide opening, without excess), let me know? I’d be happy to sell them to you for cost, so $25.

NOTE: They’re not perfectly sewn, because I was thinking it was just for my shed, and it didn’t matter if it wasn’t perfect — one end is a little long on one, so you may want to re-sew the bottom hem, though if you use clips, it’s easy enough to just hang one a little higher to achieve an even hem at the bottom; that’s what I did. ALSO, I think I didn’t really have the tension set right on the machine, as the thread doesn’t seem to be laying quite right. I mean, it’s fine, but not if you’re someone who actually knows anything about sewing. 🙂

Or if anyone’s interested in the remaining yardage (a little over 4 yards, 54″ wide), I’d happy to sell you that at cost too ($60). I’m trying to think what I can do with it other than sell it. It’d make cute playroom cushions, but I don’t really need anymore of those. It’s upholstery fabric, so a little heavy for a dress. Maybe someone with little kids (or a daycare?) could use it.

(Non-locals, if you want it badly enough to pay for shipping, that’s fine too. 🙂 )

And hey, if any locals coming to upcoming Maram’s Tea and Textiles meet-ups (Aug 3, 24, 31) wants me to show you how to hem basic curtains like this, it’s SO EASY, and I’d be happy to. You do have to either use my machine, or bring one you know how to thread. I can try to thread another machine, but I’m no expert, so no guarantees.


A big step forward for A Feast of Serendib

So, this was a big and scary step. I’ve just signed a contract with Mascot Books to publish Feast. Now, I’m still essentially self-publishing it. Mascot is what’s called a hybrid publisher, combining editorial, marketing, and printing services for indie authors. I’ve already done most of the editorial work and I have excellent proofreaders, so I won’t be taking advantage of that part.

What I do get out of this is a dramatically lower price point per unit than POD printing, a marketing team that will try to place the book in places like Costco, etc. (fingers crossed), and distribution services.

What will it cost me? Well, all the money from the Kickstarter and then some. Eep. Close to $20,000, to print 2000 hardcover copies, which is yes, very unnerving. I’m betting about $10K on being able to sell those books. I am not really a betting person!

A few hundred of those will go to Kickstarter fulfillment, leaving me with about 1750 copies (I’m being super-vague here, but Heather has the actual numbers, and I did go over them with Kevin before signing off on this) to sell. The cover price on the hardcover is $40. So selling them at full price, I need to sell 45 cookbooks to break even. I think I can do that. (Hopefully, we won’t end up with very many sad and dusty books in storage.)

Of course, that doesn’t take into account the other production costs (layout, cover design, original illustrations, indexing, advertising, book tour, etc.), and there will be sales and discounts for Amazon, etc., so the actual sale price will often be lower. So more realistically, maybe sell a few hundred to break even?

I’ll have at least a few hundred shipped to me (paying the shipping cost) for me to sell direct, keeping all the money from those, and Mascot will try to sell the rest, sending me the bulk of the money (I think 85%, if I’m remembering right, which is a big difference from a traditional publisher; I’m taking the main financial risk here, so my potential reward is commensurate). They’ll take care of shipping those out, which will make my life infinitely easier.

I know a lot of indie authors are doing this kind of thing these days, but I’m still enough of a traditional publishing person that I find it all kind of unnerving. But for this cookbook, at least, I think this is a pretty good approach.

My only hesitation is that I wish I’d spend a little more time talking to my publishing friends about other printer options; I’m still not sure I really understand that. But Mascot came highly recommended, and so far, our interactions have been very promising. Fingers crossed.

Again, huge thanks to the Kickstarter supporters. I don’t think there’s any way I would’ve bet the close to $30K it will take, in the end, to produce this book. So if the Kickstarter hadn’t funded, and funded well, I still might have created Feast, but it would have been a much simpler end result, and would likely have reached far fewer people.

Since my main hope with this is to share my love of Sri Lankan food with as many people as possible, I’m particularly grateful for your help.

Coconut mallung with ginger garlic chicken

Just a nice, everyday meal from a few days ago. Trying to eat a little healthier, and this is a great Sri Lankan combination — coconut mallung (which has no added fat beyond the coconut) with a slightly spicy ginger-garlic chicken.

You could serve this with a little rice, or in a bowl on a bed of kale salad. I had it with Sri Lankan red rice (similar nutritional content to brown rice, but I like the flavor better) mixed with white rice (1/2 and 1/2), some brinjal moju (a sweet-spicy cooked down eggplant condiment), and a little kale salad. Mmmm….