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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:
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.
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!
Two quick but urgent cookbook notes:
1) our current GoodReads giveaway ends today! If you’re in America / Canada, you could win one of 5 hardcover copies — enter for free here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51332647-a-feast-of-serendib (please spread the word, if you’re so inclined!)
2) my publisher, Mascot Books, just sent me a note saying that Amazon is prioritizing medical and other important household needs and deprioritzing stocking / shipping everything else. Which I fully support, for the record, though it will be hard for many micro businesses; we need those essentials to move out quickly, especially for those in marginalized and underprivileged communities.
– You’re still more than welcome to buy through Amazon (which also helps keep my Amazon numbers up and therefore makes the book more visible on Amazon and more likely to be picked up by casual browsing shoppers (and of course, there’s no delay in ebooks!)
– But if you’d like it sooner (maybe because you’re stuck at home and thinking now is a good time to get more into cooking?), you can order directly from the Mascot Books site, or from my Serendib Kitchen site, and we’ll likely ship it out to you faster.
– If you order from me, you also have the option of getting it signed / personalized, and if you’re in the U.S., you can add on some hand-roasted small batch Sri Lankan curry powder.
More book details in comments!
This is the e-mail I just sent my non-profit & small press teams, sharing in case it’s helpful as a model (and as always, if you’d like to come volunteer with the SLF, we’d love to have you — we’re trying to get organized to better put people on projects now):
Hey, everyone. Sorry I didn’t write more coherently sooner — I really was very exhausted coming back from travel this weekend, short on sleep, and I think the ambient stress is getting to me a bit too. I’m going to try to be in better communication going forward, and I’m going to ask you to do the same. I know e-mail isn’t necessarily the best mode for everyone; we’re going to try a few different remote tools (see below), and see what works.
Thank you for being flexible — hopefully at the end of this process, we’re all going to be a lot more comfortable on remote tools! (Some of you may already be very adept at them, which is great — we’ll rely on you for help and advice!)
Serendib Press: Stephanie, you’ll be in charge of getting Heather, Darius, Emmanuel, Julia, and Mizan up to speed on the tech. I’ll help.
SLF Management Team: Karen and Carly, I’ll need you to get up to speed, and get the interns (Julia, Emmanuel, and Darius) and ideally Mizan too, if he has time, up to speed this week. (Stephanie will be working with some of the same people, but a little duplication and practice won’t hurt.)
SLF Chicago Chapter: Chris, if you can work on this with Dain and Jeremy, that’d be great. Even if you’re comfortable with the three of you working elsewhere, I’d like to make sure you can join the rest of us on these tools.
SLF Maram: Carollina, Pamela, Pam, Kurt, Amanda, if Maram starts actually doing stuff, which it may soon, with UPG at least, then this will be relevant to y’all soon. So if you can join us and try out the tech this week, that’d be great, though not as urgent. I plan to write to you all in more detail shortly.
SLF Portolan: Niall, Gary, Farah, Dale — we’re just starting this, of course, but if you can take some time to try out the tech, it’ll only help. I plan to write to you all in more detail shortly. (Matthew, this is mostly FYI; we’re not planning to keep bugging you on this going forward.)
SLF Bookkeeeping, Tech and Publicity: Kirsten, Gregory, Kaolin, Jed, Ellen, and Irene — I’m not expecting much of the rest to be relevant to you, but wanted you to be informed, and if you do want to join us on the remote systems, you’d be very welcome.
GOING REMOTE: While we can all just work on our own in theory, in practice, in-person work tends to be much more effective for getting things actually done — it helps keep everyone on track and accountable. But it seems irresponsible to gather people together without real need right now, so I’m going to ask that we start to avoid larger gatherings for the SLF or Serendib Press until you hear otherwise.
The last actual event the SLF is hosting is this Saturday’s Deep Dish; we’re going to go on hiatus for the reading series for a few months after that (we may try to organize a virtual reading of some kind for those spring dates? Chris, I’ll look to you to take the lead on that, maybe with the rest of the Chicago chapter team — brainstorm and see what you come up with. At the same time everywhere in the world, SF/F writers post little videos of themselves reading? Is that goofy? Might be kind of fun if we set up a place for people to post that they’re doing it, with the links so everyone can check each other out).
For Serendib Press, I’ll still be doing a few book events locally this week, but am mostly thinking that I’m going to postpone scheduling much more until later in the year, when the situation should be clearer.
For our planning meetings, if a few of you want to gather in person to meet, I think that’s up to you. But I’m going to ask Karen, Carly, and Stephanie to try supervising the SLF interns / Serendib Press staff remotely this week and see how it goes. I spent several months working on a video game project with a game studio in Vermont, and although at times we had frustrating technical difficulties on occasion, for the most part, Discord (a system like Slack, more common in the game world) worked pretty well for that.
SYNCHRONOUS VS ASYNCHRONOUS: The first is when we’re all on at the same time, the second, we’re not. Both can be effective. I like to do asynchronous chatter in the background over the course of the day, as I move through domestic chores and work projects. It’s nice company, and helps keep me on track. I like quick synchronous ‘stand-up’ meetings for talking something over between a few people. “Hey, everyone, let’s gather on Slack from 9 – 9:15 tomorrow to run over a few things.”
In terms of specific tools:
PHONE: Sometimes the easiest thing will be to call me — please do. I’m at [————-]. I can be phone avoidant sometimes when I’m really stressed and feeling bombarded with inputs, but I’m going to try to be better with that now, and this slowdown should counter that effect to some extent, I think. Please do leave a message if I miss you and you’d like me to call back.
FB MESSAGING: Since I kind of live on Facebook, this is often the fastest way to catch me if you have a quick question. Stephanie and Heather and I use it pretty constantly right now, and it works well, esp. when we’re synchronous (all on at the same time).
SLACK: This is a very nice system (both desktop and mobile) where we can have different channels for different projects, we can see what we’ve said previously (up to a point — it doesn’t hold onto it forever, I think), etc. It offers voice chat as well, though I think mostly we’ll use it for messaging, either in groups or individually. I’d like us to shift over to using it more intentionally.
We have Slack set up for the SLF already; we should set it up for Serendib Press too, and I’ll be talking to Stephanie about that separately. Karen, can you please get all the SLF folks on this thread onto Slack this week, and set up times to practice with them? (I don’t remember if we have a channel set up yet for the Chicago chapter, but if not, set that up, and Chris, please bring your team on board there.) Stephanie, ditto for Serendib Press, once we set it up? We should talk through how best to organize that.
My challenge with Slack has always been remembering to check it and see what’s going on there — you can set it up to send you notifications, but that can be annoying if there’s a lot of chatter going on. I’m planning to just plan to be online there at certain times daily, so that people can easily come find me and check in with me. 8-10 a.m. CST for now, and then again in the afternoon, 3-4 p.m.
Karen and Carly, I’d love to work with you two at least on Slack at 3-4 today, if that works for you — let me know? Stephanie and Heather, shall we try 9-10 on Thursday?
ZOOM: This free video conferencing system should also be helpful. I’d like us to try a Zoom call in the next few days, make sure everyone can get on smoothly. Given schedules, not everyone may be available at the same time, so we should probably do a few. I’ve used it before, but only as a participant, for an international call with several folks, and it worked pretty well. (I expect Zoom stock is booming right now.)
Karen, can you pick 3 times for Zoom calls in the next few days (today @ 4 p.m. plus one in the evening and one in the morning), and send Zoom invites to ALL the SLF folks? (I think that’s everyone on the e-mail thread above except for Stephanie and Matthew.) Let’s see how it goes — if you can’t make any of the times Karen sends, let her know, and we can set up another time. Aside from my teaching, I’m pretty available. (If you don’t know how to do any of this, Karen, just get in touch, and I’ll talk you through it. If you want to come by and work with just me in the dining room, that’s fine with me.)
FINAL NOTES: There are other possible tech options, but let’s start with Slack and Zoom for now. I expect that there’ll be some tech hiccups and frustrations initially, and that this will slow us down for a bit, but that’s fine — nothing we’re doing is super-urgent and needs to race along.
Any questions? (If I had more energy, I’d have done this with a lot of cute graphics so it wasn’t a big block of text. Sorry! Maybe next time! Thanks for reading!)
– Mary Anne
P.S. It makes me sad that I can’t feed y’all as much as I often do for our in-person meetings. Maybe, local folks, I can leave you boxes of cookies on the porch for pick-up, at least…stay tuned.
I am really very touched by all the friends and relatives who have gone to extra effort to boost Feast. I still can’t quite believe that we actually did get to Amazon bestseller status on launch day (even though I know that’s not nearly as hard to do as you might think). I mean, I was going to try, but to actually do it? Wow. I mean, WOW!
(It’s not #1 right this second, but that’s okay. As Hertz’s ads say, “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder!”)
Feast is also now up to 8 (!) 5-star reviews on Amazon. You folks are so generous, and so kind.
Thanks so much, everyone, for turning out and taking the time to talk up my project. Ping me when I can do the same for you! I want to hear about all your excellent work!
Aw, just read Debbie Notkin’s appreciation of me for the #FogCon program book, and it is the SWEETEST. I’m not sure if they have a digital edition I can link to, but I will at least take a photo of it and put it up when I have a moment to breathe.
It’s a heavily scheduled day at the con today, but I set out pretty well fortified, with my coffee in hand and all my geek accoutrements: Constellation shirt, check. Constellation backpack, check. Constellation notebook, check. My shoes don’t have constellations on them, but they are cheerful and colorful and feel on brand anyway. And yesterday I picked up a launch day present for myself for myself, these awesome silver rocket ship earrings. I’m extra geeky today!
Gorgeous earrings by Spring Schoenhuth of Springtime Creations. Her selections of rocket ships, astronauts and other geeky (and classy) silver jewelry is really lovely — she also has gorgeous Dr. Who, Firefly, etc. themed pieces. I ALSO picked up a pair of charming silver elephants for Feast in particular. Expect to see me rocking them at some book launch events.
– make some notes on what I want to discuss for my panel on non-profit organizing (and also probably running for office) after the banquet
– figure out what I’m reading for my reading @ 3
– do some addendums to Jump Space RPG that we’ll be play-testing over dinner
20 minutes before lunch. I can cram that all in, right? Okay, the third one might have to wait until after my reading; there’s a little break before we actually gather to play Jump Space. But I can get the other two done. If I don’t get distracted checking my Amazon numbers…
One nice thing about being heavily scheduled at a convention during my launch weekend is that I don’t have time to obsessively refresh Amazon every five minutes!
Another extra-nice thing is all the warm fuzzies from people (friends but also friendly strangers) being enthusiastic about the book. I would definitely launch a book at a convention again, even though it’s a little hectic and chaotic trying to do two things at once. It’s just so much warmer and more reassuring than sitting along at home in my office, staring at the screen wondering if anyone will actually buy the book.
Especially if you’re at a lovely, warm, intimate convention like FogCon, full of the best people having the most interesting conversations. I just finished my panel on archives and it was SO GOOD; we could have talked about all the issues we raised there for 2-3 more hours, easily.
[Sidebar for minor ADD note: This is the first convention where I’ve carried around a little notebook and pen so I can make notes while panelling, and I’m finding it SO helpful. It’s helping me keep my thoughts on track and relevant to the panel, I feel the urge to interrupt the other panelists less — sometimes the things I write down come up at a different point, sometimes not, and that’s okay — and I might even get some essays out of some of these notes down the line.
I wish someone had been able to explain to me in high school that note-taking would actually be REALLY USEFUL to me down the line. I try to communicate it to my college students, but I’m not sure how successful I am. I didn’t really even start learning how to study properly until I was 30; I just kind of coasted on being bright and doing all the reading and being able to follow the conversation easily, but there was a whole level of depth that I was missing for years and years. Oh well. We learn, we grow, we evolve, right?]
Do you have writer friends? Here’s something that I think isn’t widely understood outside the writing community:
When a book launches, it’s the culmination often of years of work. Sometimes years and years. It’s as if your friend releasing a book is launching a small business, or finishing grad school. And what’s kind of wacky about books is that by helping to spread the word about that book (even if you’re not in a position to pick up a copy yourself), you can have an incredibly outsize effect on their future writing career.
My friend Amanda is about to open a fabulous bagel shop, and I plan to be right there on launch day to buy a couple dozen bagels, and then run right out and post about it on social media — but buying a book on launch day has a MUCH BIGGER effect than buying even a couple dozen bagels.
I’ve heard that it takes only a hundred books being bought on Amazon on one day to shoot a book to the Amazon bestseller list. That’s a kind of visibility that’s incredibly hard to achieve otherwise, in any other industry, I suspect. It’s a funny little hack to the system, but what it means is that it takes startlingly little to give a book a HUGE shot of adrenaline that day.
Publishers look closely at first day numbers, first week numbers, to determine how strongly they’re going to support the book in the weeks that follow, whether they’re going to put in more financial investment. It’s unfortunate but true that investment breeds success. Disinvestment too often leads to the book disappearing without a trace when the next month’s books arrive. Years of a writer’s life, disappearing into the vast literary ocean.
And for an indie-published book, though you’re not waiting to see if a publisher forgets about you, you generally don’t have the kind of money to pour into publicity efforts that publishers sometimes do. And of course, even with a big publisher, some books get ‘supported’ a lot more strongly than others. They bet on the ones they think will sell, and how they decide which books those are, are influenced by a host of factors. (I’d love to see average big house publicity budgets for debut male novelists versus female novelists, for example.)
So I’m not saying you have to buy your friend’s book, and I certainly don’t want to make anyone feel guilty if they can’t afford to do that. I wouldn’t want *anyone* to buy my book if it was a hardship for them. Please, that’s what libraries are for!
But if you can do anything to make their baby book a little more visible on launch day, it’s like throwing your friend a massive party, with cake. If you can tweet about it, or post to FB, maybe with a photo of the book and a link to buy, or even better, a charming photo of you *and* the book, that’s incredibly helpful.
I don’t tend to celebrate my own birthday the way I used to — my friends and I rarely exchange presents these days. Years will go by, and then perhaps one of us will say, “Oh, I saw this in a store, and it made me think of you, and I just had to pick it up, and I know it’s not even your birthday, but here.” And then you feel all warm and fuzzy, because presents are great.
Helping to boost a friend’s book on their book’s birthday? It’s like buying them ten years of presents all at once. It makes you the bestest ever friend (or friendly acquaintance, or total stranger who just thinks this book is cool and wants to see it do well). If enough people help boost the book on launch, that could very much make the difference between whether or not their next book gets picked up by a publisher.
It’s a bizarre system, but at least for right now, it’s the one we have.
Heck — I went to my friend Lori Rader-Day’s book launch a few weeks ago, for THE LUCKY ONE, a riveting murder mystery, and I walked out having bought not just one, but TWO books. Because I knew doing that in the first month of release would have a larger than is at all reasonable effect. Also because I knew that a great book is an excellent, personal gift — in fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I should’ve bought five or six copies. I would’ve had my holiday gift giving all set.
It is, of course, launch day for my own labor of love, the cookbook I started writing four years ago, after I finished cancer treatment and realized one thing I desperately wanted to pass down for my kids, the Sri Lankan diaspora community, and just, well, everyone, was my love of Sri Lankan cuisine. I wanted more of the world to know how easy, healthy, and delicious it was to cook, and after years of labor, I think my baby came out pretty well. 🙂
A Feast of Serendib is available everywhere books are sold — if they don’t have it in stock, they can get it for you. Details in comments!
FINAL LAUNCH WEEK FEAST OF SERENDIB GIVEAWAY: WORLDWIDE EBOOK EDITION (PLUS A HARDCOVER)
Okay, folks. So I meant to run giveaways on Sunday & Monday, but launch week is super-chaotic and the e-mails have been fast and furious, so I didn’t. For the sake of my sanity, let’s just say we’re doing one more monster giveaway for the run-up to launch week. Giving away 25 (!) copies of Feast.
AND out of that set, one lucky winner will ALSO be chosen to get a hardcover copy, no matter where in the world they live! I might even slip an extra little treat or two in there. Damn the shipping costs, full speed ahead. Details below!
A Feast of Serendib is my new Sri Lankan American cookbook, and the ebooks are perfect for referring to while cooking, using a tablet stand in the kitchen, or just browsing curled up on the couch. ($24.99 value!)
Just 3 days to launch! Tues / Wed / Thurs., March 3-5, ending at midnight CST.
We’re going to give you MORE chances to enter — you get entered once for each of the following:
– if you LIKE the post
– if you post a COMMENT
– if you SHARE it
– if you TAG in a friend!
So you can enter just once, or enter up to four times if you like! (It’s all about building visibility for the cookbook; people can’t buy it if they don’t know it exists…) 25 lucky winners (!) will be randomly drawn from the entries on this post.
AND we’re resetting the clock, so if you already won an e-book in the last month, it doesn’t matter — you can enter again between March 3-5; a fabulous gift for a friend or family member. Sounds great, right? Here we go!
TODAY’S QUESTION: What’s one dish or cooking technique you’d like to make, but are a little intimidated to try?
(Mine right now would include Sri Lankan kokis, a kind of deep-fried batter rosette cookie, made of rice flour and coconut milk, Dutch-influence. Roshani gave me a tool for it, and I have the batter, and I keep meaning to try it….but a little intimidated!)
If you don’t want to answer the question, it’s fine — any comment counts for entry!
Stephanie will be tracking, and will randomly pick and announce the 15 winners on March 6th.
1) ORDERING: You can order early copies of 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/…/coo…/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 will be launching officially March 6, 2020, and we hope it’ll be widely available in bookstores and libraries. You can request it now from your local bookstore or library! Please do! It’ll also be available on Amazon US, UK, and Canada; you can pre-order it now online. If you’re planning to order from Amazon, pre-ordering or ordering on launch day (March 6!) would be super helpful for boosting its visibility on Amazon. Thanks!
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!):
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
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/mamohanraj
Serendib Kitchen blog: http://serendibkitchen.com
Serendib Kitchen Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/serendib_kitchen/
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
The new GoodReads giveaway (for 5 gorgeous print hardcovers of A Feast of Serendib) is live!
US & Canada folks are encouraged to enter! (We’d do it worldwide, but that doesn’t seem to be an option for GoodReads right now…)