Gwen's about to be published (and also peppers) in The Amalgamated Aggromulator

  • March 30, 2014, 10:52 p.m.
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  • Public

I have been having a good few days.

Carrying dahlia pots out into the sludgy squdgy yard (the spring rains have turned torrential and record-breaking this week and last, with interesting fresh interludes of sunlight and warming air in between)... dividing dahlia bulbs with careful cuts, with Mom collecting them with their variety names... sorting long-neglected potted plants out on the east end of the front yard, so that I can stash them here and there elsewhere and then finally lay down a large area of groundcloth, on which I will be able to set out more dahlia pots, the mother-plant pots in this case...

Feeling good. The work is good. The vigorous interesting rain is good. The birdsong is good and interesting with new notes and little dramas. It is good to feel the weight of the pots. I was thinking that any time you can find yourself thinking about your day in Ernest Hemingway's language without being snarky at all, it is probably a good day. Complex sentences aren't such a good sign. When thinking, yes, sometimes, but not when experiencing.

I should tell you about one reason I'm feeling good. A project finished, and not just the fact of having finished a project...

There are many ways of dealing with grief. Gwen's mother Grace took up an active one. She has spent the last year going through lots and lots of Gwen's writings that she found in Hibbing, in great part poems, that Gwen wrote in spiral notebooks and on computers from childhood through the time when she left to come to Portland. Grace collected; she sifted; she transcribed; she scanned; she OCRed. There came a day when she told me she had it all together in one Word file, and could she get me to edit it?

She asked me how much I'd charge. I told her to make me any offer she wanted and I'd say yes. She offered seventy-five dollars, and I said yes. I can't imagine saying no; I'd had said yes to anything; I'd have done it for free, though I'm supposed to be a professional so I like that she wanted to pay me. I needed to do it. (For sure, if I'd "really" charged her, I just wouldn't have been on the project; she'd have just gone to the self-publishing company, where after all they have editors as part of the deal you purchase. She has no idea. Because, really, the prevailing rate for copyediting is $35-40 an hour. Even if I, say, halved that for her... Theoretically, for light editing, meaning just looking for mechanical errors, a fair estimate [I'm using the Editorial Freelancers Association's] is that, counting 250 words as one page, an editor can probably do 5 to 10 pages an hour. For heavier editing, straightening things out, it's 2 to 5 pages an hour. All of which of course really depends on the actual written material that is being edited and how much time it needs. And, with this collage of found objects and scribbled poems that Gwen certainly never thought of polishing for actual publishing, with strange decisions about what should be left untouched and what must be fixed... No, there was no question of my really charging Grace. -smiles-)

And, because I did not "have the meter running," I could guiltlessly go ahead and just give myself more things to do, "Grace, how about I do this," going past just editing into page layout and setting up how the chapters would look (it was just one pasted-together text crawl to begin with, although Grace had ordered them in terms of themed chapters), and asking Grace to check whether this or that would be okay with Authorhouse, the self-publishing company she was talking to, and so on... I did a lot.

And Thursday, after I did a couple of last-minute things and sent the file back to her in the morning, Grace called me in the mid-afternoon and let me know that she had sent it off to Authorhouse.

It's on its way. It's going to be published, and printed, and for sale through Amazon, and it's going to be available as an e-book too. I'll let you know when it pops. (I don't know how to find a lot of Gwen's friends who'd want to know, what with Open Diary going under, so at that point, Dear Readers, I can use any help I can get.)

I'll bet I won't really get to brag too much on my editing I did in there. The Authorhouse guy told Grace it looked like I had done a very good job, and the editors there were mostly only going to be changing the fonts so it will look more professional (I had anticipated this, but Grace didn't want to get into font choices, which was fine)... but when they change the fonts it's bound to re-jigger a lot of the stuff we did, page breaks and so on, and they'll be going through and working all that out again. They'll also take care of a few arrangement problems we chose not to tackle. Heck, for all I know it'll look completely different from where I left it when it comes out... and I really don't care in the slightest. -grins-

Gwen Swanson is going to be a published author.

With her mom as compiler. The title will be Words, My Path To The World. (I noticed a sentence like that and asked Grace if it sounded like a good title. She thought so too.) And it will say "by Gwen Swanson."

And people will get to meet her.

And I've logged a lot of butt time deep in her words, and have done a good job of work, and now it's done. And I feel good... and maybe a little healed too.

So that's what just happened.

(And yesterday I got the check in the mail, and I see it's for a hundred.)

Indoors I have taken a particular interest in the pepper seedlings. I chose all our pepper seed orders this year, and since January I have been clucking over their progress, with special attention to the particular novelties. Mom agreed with me this winter that the hotter peppers seem to move in our plant sales more than the others, they're more exciting choices and there are more impulse buys, so this year we have about ten chocolate-colored bhut jolokias in the plant room under the fluorescents (the fruits of this variety will be chocolate-colored, I mean, not the seedlings), and I think about twenty of the fabled Moruga strain of the Trinidad Scorpion its ownself, the holder of the 2012 Guinness record for heat. (And I'll have to try them both this year, of course, of course, as sure as water flows downhill. The quest to know the reaches of sensation. I've had bhut jolokias once before, but not the other. There will be streaming perspiration and gasping and mental struggling and tears. I have thought that, if for some desperate reason I ever had to feign severe mental illness to an examiner, a good move would be to eat a super-hot pepper and then strive to appear, not crazy at all, but normal and sane, as a person would. I'd be the most convincing lunatic you can imagine.)

Another variety that I am particularly interested in is called Grenada Seasoning, but this time for its lack of heat. It is of the chinense species, like the habanero and almost all of the superhots ("seven-pot pepper" is what one such pepper is called in the Caribbean, meaning that one fruit will flavor seven pots, and at that the food is preferred spicy and the pots are often large). It has the lovely compact, almost bonsai-ish growth habit of those peppers. And it has a lovely fruity-floral flavor like the habanero or the Trinidad Scorpion, in this case reported to have notes of citrus, pineapple, and watermelon ... but in this case it has very little heat, so that you can have just that flavor! (I don't know exactly what "very little heat" will turn out to mean -- I've gotten descriptions that vary from no heat at all up to "merely" the heat of one of the low-to-mid-range peppers -- but it looks to be a great good thing no matter the case.)

(At present we keep one "perennial" pepper that we overwinter in a window, that has over three years developed into a little gnarled-trunk veteran with a fantastic root system, that, after we trim it back to a stub just as spring is arriving, explodes into a deep-green thunderhead and bears untold hundreds of fruits a year, far outstripping any single-season plant. I've mentioned it before, I'm sure; it is a Fatali [or Fataali or Fatalii, as you prefer], which looks like and basically is a habanero with the orange fruit a little pointier and a little hotter. But if we have sill-room for a second such plant -- I can't imagine murdering the first at this point, although we might sell it -- then it seems to me that a Grenada Seasoning would be much more useful. We've already chopped and oven-dried and stored several years worth of the almost-radioactive Fatali flakes that are, in tiny amounts, our secret weapon for mysteriously glowing savory stews and such, but a similar flood of peppers that we could actually eat and use more normally would be amazing. Hmm. Have to broach it with Mom. If I do it will probably be have to be in the context of selling the Fatali; sunny sill space is very tight.)

And then there are the Marconi peppers, long sweet Italian peppers that we have not tried before, that are supposed to be much sweeter and more delicious than the average bell, and that I chose a beautiful purple variety of... Food is romantic! I'm sorry! -grins- (We should have had a lot of another variety, Jimmy Nardello, that we have grown before and that looks like a cayenne type but is likewise sweet and extraordinarily tasty -- that has been one I've sold to customers with great sincere enthusiasm -- but we had a day when we mishandled our balance between overwatering and overdry and we turned almost all of the seedlings in that tray into tiny straw tombstones. A few, elsewhere, did make it; we'll keep them for our own garden.)

And then, not at all new and not needing to be, there are the Anaheims and their younger bred brothers the Big Jims and Numexes, those storied long wide board-like sweet-fiery-tangy-jangly soulful peppers of New Mexico's Mesilla Valley, that more than any other pepper are chile with the e on the end, that you roast one by one over a gas burner so that you can slide the blackened skins off, good for chile rellenos, and enchiladas, and cowboy hamburgers, and turning a homemade pizza into a giant green fruit pie with pepperoni (and pineapple -- green chile and pineapple are a star-crossed couple reunited at last). There are beauties in this world. Never doubt it.

-grins- And I'm remembering that there are a whole lot of tomato seedlings in the plant room now, just babies germinated in the last couple of days because we started them later, and I have not given them a single thought this year. They have been quite eclipsed.

Peppers are worthy of attention. I'm sandwich master in this house (no, Mom's the one who said it; it was news to me... I usually make the sandwiches, anyway), and this winter has been an extraordinary period in sandwich advances. New ingredients, new techniques, new things unexplored up to now for no particular reason. And magically better sandwiches. (I'm going to say one word to you, just one word: Gouda.) And the most recent thing in the progression has been that I began using sliced sweet peppers in sandwiches where before I had used only tomatoes. Totally different, remarkably better. Why not until now?

Vivienne April 03, 2014

I'm in touch with a few people who knew Gwen - some on Facebook, some from OD. I'll let them know about Gwen's book.

Talesia April 03, 2014

Oh my gosh. This is some of the best news I've heard in a long time. This is so good. I can't wait to read it. Thank you!!!

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