Little Novel, Big Novel

Finished a revision of the opening to the big novel. (I’m thinking of it as the little novel and the big novel, but it’ll be nice when I actually finish the little novel and send it out, so I can just refer to the novel instead of big novel, but anyway.) I wouldn’t prioritize that now, except that I think this first chapter (about 5300 words) actually works as a standalone story.

So I’ve now sent it to a few people with some questions, and we’ll see what they say — with luck, it’ll be ready to submit shortly. In the meantime, I have a few other stories to finish, so I’m planning to pick up one of those tomorrow.

But now, switching gears to Serendib Press & Home stuff — I have some promo e-mails from the cookbook to answer, and some masks and books and curry powder to put in the mail. Always so satisfying, shipping out cookbooks. 

*****

“May I offer you lovely ladies some mas paan? It’s still hot.” Narayan-first-son-of-the-Big-House, the most tempting of all temptations. They had known each other since childhood – he only lived a few streets away, but lately, things had felt different between them. That electric spark she felt when the waves knocked her down, lightning in her veins? Sometimes she felt that same spark when Narayan smiled at her. Dangerous as the ocean.

He smiled at Tharani, and held out a paper on which two buns were nestled, side-by-side. Narayan’s curling black hair fell across his eyes, blocking his vision, and for a moment, the universe held its breath. She should be good. But then Tharani reached out, deliberately, and brushed the hair away. She could feel her world shake, reconfiguring into something new and strange – such a small gesture to do so much. Beside her, Raji took in a quick, shocked breath.

*****

Feast Amazon Sale!

SALE! It turns out that Amazon will sometimes do discounts on books, which doesn’t affect how much I make (as the amount they pay the distributor doesn’t change), and right now, Feast is discounted from $40 down to $26.49 on their site, which I have to tell you, is a heck of a bargain.

We’re probably going to be running a sale ourselves soon out of the house, but our price won’t be dropping quite that much, so unless you want a signed copy from me, and/or some homemade curry powder, I’d love it if you’d buy a discounted copy from Amazon.

Maybe one for a friend? Your parents who are getting bored cooking at home for themselves? Your best friend from college who you haven’t called in too long? So many options…spread the word!

Mother’s Day Medium Treat Box

Packing up the Mother’s Day treat boxes for shipping out tomorrow — this is the medium box. Kevin periodically asks me whether it’s actually worth the amount of time and effort I put into this, and so I feel like I should note for the record that strictly speaking, it isn’t. I have to run the numbers at some point, but I’m guessing I barely break even on doing these boxes. So why do them?

a) It means that when I’m doing recipe development, I can make back some of the costs of ingredients and time to try variations until I settle on a recipe I really like. It’s a shame I can only do that for items that I can ship — I can’t easily send out curries! The plan for Feast is that we’re going to release smaller cookbooks in future months, including one for sweets that I’m hoping to have ready by October or so, in time for holiday baking. So everyone who’s ordering these boxes, thanks — you’re helping me develop more and better recipes for that! (Which also means I can post the recipes, which feel like tiny gifts to the world in the midst of all this.)

b) it’s a nice break from the computer — especially now, during pandemic times, it’s really easy for me to spend most of the day sedentary. For the first month or so, I spent so much time on converting my classes to online versions, not to mention researching masks and mutual aid, that my poor Fitbit was shouting at me that I was only getting 2K steps a day or so. Just lots and lots of sitting. Baking is much more physical, and when I mix cooking and gardening into my day, I feel physically better at the end of it.

c) I just like sending out presents. I mean, I know people have paid for these items, but it still feels like sending out presents, you know? Here’s everything that’s going into a medium box this time around:

1 Lily-of-the-valley soap
1 Lily-of-the-valley bath salt
1 Lavender soap
1 Lavender bath salt
5 Spiced Chocolate cookies
5 Jaggery Chai Spice cookies
5 Lime and Rosewater Shortbread cookies
1 five-piece set of assorted chocolates, marshmallows, and cashew milk toffee
1 set of five postcards

Fun to wrap up, fun to ship out. I mean, if I were doing thousands of them, it would be less fun, but I’ve limited it to 10 boxes each, max, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

And as a bonus, sometimes people add on books — the box I just wrapped also took a copy of The Stars Change and a copy of Feast, the one I’m doing next wants a copy of Perennial. More people reading my books = yay! If they eat some lime shortbread while they’re reading them, even better. 

Please order by end of today if you want them shipped out in time for Mother’s Day! Here is the link:

https://serendib-kitchen.myshopify.com/?fbclid=IwAR2etl4wAJJD2SG8tw9zlPPjOnYSrXIe_2sGyB4-PQlsFKsmfbRRZuJkYCc

Update for Mother’s Day Treat Boxes

Stephanie took a little time this morning to update the listing for our Mother’s Day treat boxes, so people have a better idea of what’s actually in them, and we’ve added a Small size too. Please order by Monday lunchtime if you’d like them shipped in time for Mother’s Day!

(Porch pick-up is also available for locals, though I’m not quite sure how we handle the shipping costs; I think we’d reimburse them to you? Still figuring out the details of the new Shopify store.)

(Note — my previous boxes included Feast — this one doesn’t, so I can fit in more sweets and soaps instead. So if you want the cookbook, that should be added on separately.)

Small Boxes – $27.99 ($19.99 + $8 shipping)
1 Lily-of-the-valley soap
1 Lily-of-the-valley bath salt
3 Spiced Chocolate cookies
3 Jaggery Chai Spice cookies
3 Lime and Rosewater Shortbread cookies
1 five-piece set of assorted chocolates, marshmallows, and cashew milk toffee
1 set of five postcards

Medium Boxes – $49.99 ($34.99 + $15 shipping)
1 Lily-of-the-valley soap
1 Lily-of-the-valley bath salt
1 Lavender soap
1 Lavender bath salt
5 Spiced Chocolate cookies
5 Jaggery Chai Spice cookies
5 Lime and Rosewater Shortbread cookies
1 five-piece set of assorted chocolates, marshmallows, and cashew milk toffee
1 set of five postcards

Large Boxes – $74.99 ($54.99 + $20 shipping)
1 Lily-of-the-valley soap
1 Lily-of-the-valley bath salt
1 Lavender soap
1 Lavender bath salt
1 Rose soap
1 Rose bath salt
7 Spiced Chocolate cookies
7 Jaggery Chai Spice cookies
7 Lime and Rosewater Shortbread cookies
2 five-piece sets of assorted chocolates, marshmallows, and cashew milk toffee
1 set of five postcards

Verklempt

Sigh. I have to admit, I’ve mostly hit pause on all of the book launch activities around the cookbook, even the digital ones, because it feels so weird to be trying to sell something during a pandemic. I have this list of places to send press inquiries, for example. I think I probably should just go ahead and start working on all that again — it’s better if the world doesn’t just stop for several months. But it feels strange.

I just checked, and with 13 reviews on Amazon, Feast is still at 5-stars. Y’all, that is just the sweetest. I am verklempt.

I also think it’s interesting how many of the reviews (there and on GoodReads) talk about the book being inviting and welcoming to beginning cooks, people from outside the culture, etc. I don’t know that I set out to do that, specifically? But I think I had my kids in mind when I was writing the book, and so I tried to write everything as clearly as I could…and, of course, 25 years as a teacher has to come out somehow, I guess….

*****

“The Guild sought to disavow the idea that because people were locked in their homes, more were buying books. ‘While social distancing and shelter-in-place orders have resulted in more people reading than usual, it is a mistake to assume that means more book sales for most of today’s working authors,’ said Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Guild. ‘The closure of bookstores, libraries and other venues has made it very difficult for writers to connect with book audiences and promote book sales. This is particularly problematic for those authors who recently released a book or have books scheduled for release this spring.’ Nearly half the members surveyed said they had recently published a book or were planning on publishing a book in the near term, and among those, 74% said they anticipated lower sales.”

Authors Guild Finds Writers Are Losing Significant Income

A survey by the Authors Guild of its members earlier this month found a majority of authors had already lost significant income due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The Guild received 940 responses to its survey and asked if income from any source declined in recent weeks due to the crisis, 54% responded “yes,” compared to 45% who responded “no.”

Doing My Part for USPS

Doing my part for USPS, shipping a dozen more copies of Feast out into the world; it makes me so happy thinking of people cooking from my cookbook, especially today, on Sri Lankan New Year. Happy New Year, folks. I’ll make some kiri bath and lunumiris sambol later. It feels strange not throwing a big party for the New Year, the way we usually do, a feast for all of our local friends, but at least there’s some Sri Lankan curry powder heading out in the world; that’s something.

I actually really love USPS’s priority mail flat rate boxes that they’ll pick up, postage-paid from preprinted labels, from my door. It makes running a micro-business much more feasible than it would be otherwise — we’re saving so much time this way, over running to the post office, and the flat rate boxes make it much more convenient to calculate postage for orders. Just great all around.

Reliable and affordable mail delivery is essential to a functioning civil society.

#SaveUSPS

Anonymous Donor Book Giveaway for A Feast of Serendib!

Anonymous Donor Book Giveaway for A Feast of Serendib!
March 2020
People are reaching out with wonderful, creative ways of helping. Two anonymous donors have offered to help make A Feast of Serendib available to people who want the book but can’t afford to buy it right now. Together these generous folks have donated a total of $1,000 in books for this purpose!
To make the donations go as far as possible, and because we want everyone to be able to access the book in the format that is best for them, we’ve dropped the price too, so we can offer a combination of 15 hardcovers and 30 paperbacks; Serendib Press will match the physical book donations with 50 additional eBook copies as well.
From one of the anonymous donors: “I’m doing this because I have found Mary Anne’s cookbook to be so key in helping me feed myself good food this year and I want other people to be able to care for themselves in the same way.”
We’re going to do this on a first come, first serve basis, for people who want the book but can’t afford to buy it right now, on the honor system. Physical books can only be shipped within the U.S., but eBooks are available internationally!
If you’d like a copy of the book, please comment on the post at the link below and let us know if you’d prefer hardcover, paperback, or eBook. We’ll contact you within a day or two to get your mailing information.
(The paperback doesn’t have photos in the book, but comes with a link to a full web archive of color photos. The eBook reviews indicate that people are finding it works really well for them as an option for a tablet, esp. on a stand in the kitchen.)
_________________________________________
$500 x 2 = $1,000
15 Hardcovers = $450 — 13 left
Discounted to $30 each
30 Paperback = $450 — 27 left
Discounted to $15 each
50 eBooks
Mary Anne’s matching contribution
_________________________________________
MORE COOKBOOK DETAILS:
Feast is now an Amazon bestseller! Woot!
1) ORDERING: You can order A Feast of Serendib (signed / personalized, if you like) directly from me right now, at www.serendibkitchen.com, or from my publisher, Mascot Books: https://mascotbooks.com/mascot-marketplace/buy-books/cookbooks/regional/a-feast-of-serendib/. The limited release paperback can only be ordered directly from my website. If you’re in the U.S., you can also add on my hand-roasted Sri Lankan curry powder.
A Feast of Serendib launched officially March 6, 2020, and we hope it’ll be widely available in bookstores and libraries. You can request it from your local bookstore or library! Please do! It’ll also be available on Amazon US, UK, and Canada; you can order it online.
ORDERING INFO:
978-1-64543-275-3 Hardcover (distributed by Ingram)
978-1-64543-377-4 ebook (on Amazon, etc.)
2370000696366 (trade paperback; only available directly from me, at Serendib Kitchen site; you can also buy the hardcover or ebook there)
2) REVIEW OR BUY IT HERE (reviews are hugely helpful in boosting visibility!):
Amazon
3) JOIN THE COOKBOOK CLUB: If you’d like to support the development of more mostly Sri Lankan recipes, I’d love to have you join the cookbook club — for $2 / month, you’ll get recipes delivered to your inbox (fairly) regularly: https://www.patreon.com/mohanraj. For $10 / month, you can subscribe for fabulous treats mailed to you! (US-only).
4) FOODIE SOCIAL MEDIA:

My personal FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj
Serendib Kitchen blog: http://serendibkitchen.com

Serendib FB Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/132029834135500/

Serendib FB Page:

https://www.facebook.com/mohanrajserendib/
5) PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY starred review: “Mohanraj (Bodies in Motion), a literature professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, introduces readers to the comforting cuisine of Sri Lanka in this illuminating collection of more than 100 recipes. Waves of immigration from China, England, the Netherlands, and Portugal influenced the unique cuisine of Sri Lanka, Mohanraj writes, as evidenced by such dishes as Chinese rolls (a take on classic egg rolls in the form of stuffed crepes that are breaded and fried); fish cutlets (a culinary cousin of Dutch bitterballen fried croquettes); and English tea sandwiches (filled here with beets, spinach, and carrots). With Sri Lanka’s proximity to India, curry figures heavily, with options for chicken, lamb, cuttlefish, or mackerel. A number of poriyal dishes, consisting of sautéed vegetables with a featured ingredient, such as asparagus or brussels sprouts, showcase a Tamil influence. Throughout, Mohanraj does a superb job of combining easily sourced ingredients with clear, instructive guidance and menu recommendations for all manner of events, including a Royal Feast for over 200 people. This is a terrific survey of an overlooked cuisine.”
*****
Thanks so much for your support! Indie publishing is absolutely reliant on word of mouth and the support of friends, family, and friendly internet acquaintances.
— Mary Anne

Spring flash sale! Serendib Spring Surprise Boxes (US-only)

ALLITERATIVE FLASH SALE! Serendib Spring Surprise Boxes (US-only for this one, sorry!):
a) Small: a random assortment of sweets, postcards, and a handmade soap, plus an ebook of Feast (if you have one already, feel free to gift this) – $19.99 + $8 shipping and handling
b) Medium: same as small, plus bath salts, a paperback of Feast & a 4 oz. bag of curry powder – $34.99 + $15 shipping and handling
c) Large: same as medium, plus body butter, a hardcover of Feast and an 8 oz. jar of curry powder – $54.99 + $20 shipping and handling
Comment on the *main post* to order; I’ll confirm in comments and give you info on payment options. I think I can do about 15-20 boxes, based on the supplies I have on hand; it’s a little hard to estimate, since I don’t know what size boxes people will go for.


*****
Go HERE to order:
https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj/posts/10160683118589616
*****
We’re hoping to get the Shopify set up in the next few weeks, which will make it easier to ship internationally, etc. So if that’s you, hang in there — though I’ll have to do more research on what’s involved on shipping food internationally before I can offer that, so that bit might be quite a while.

Patreon boxes going out

Had a weird morning — I woke up at 7, per usual, went back to sleep, and didn’t wake up again ’til 11. I had tried taking a sleep aid last night, doxylamine succinate, so I’m guessing it was a combo of that + being really underslept the last few days, mostly due to free-floating stress. I feel more rested, which is good, but also a little groggy.
But I did get the Patreon subscription boxes finished and out the door, so that was good — I totally would not have been on top of it, but Stephanie has been keeping my little indie business on track. So helpful! Hopefully they’ll bring subscribers a little joy. I’m starting to think about what to put in the June subscription box — I think I shouldn’t ship chocolate that late in the year, so maybe shortbread and other cookies, plus some passionfruit caramels? My violas and pansies are blooming — I should pick and candy some of those. Hmm….


We were also shipping out 5 hardcovers of Feast from the latest GoodReads giveaway — hopefully they lead to a lot of happy cooking. If you do cook from Feast, I’d love to see photos! Tag me in, please. I think we could all use some happy cooking photos right now.
And of course, reviews are always welcome at GoodReads, Amazon, etc. I just checked and Feast currently has 12 (!) 5-star reviews. You guys. I am verklempt. Various people have asked me recently how the cookbook release is going, and honestly, I’ve barely had time to even think about it this last week — it seems like such a low priority, in the face of coronavirus. And yet — we have to eat.


I also realized this morning that I have enough sweets and soaps left that I should probably do a flash sale and get those out the door. I had made quite a few sweets for cookbook launch events this month that I’ve now cancelled. So see the next post for details on that!


#serendibkitchen