"Roundheads and Ramblings"
Welcome to Katzenhaus Books, where we tell - the stories behind the history.
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Recent Posts

Where Are Your Memories Stored?
3 Ways to Deal with the Holiday Calendar Crisis
What's Showing Up in Your Crystal Ball, Oh Wise One?
Seven Tips to Help You Make Friends with Your Readers
How Many Strange Things Can We Find?

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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Where Are Your Memories Stored?

Where are your memories stored? Sometimes they are caught up in a single sound.  That happened to me yesterday. On an impulse we decided to stop at a newish restaurant for lunch. The name alone--"Lettuce Eat"--made it a fun idea, particularly since we're still cutting calories around here.

What a find it was! They serve only fresh salads (and wraps made from salads) and the food was fabulous, but for me the best moment came when I heard a drumbeat-like sound that echoed faintly through the whole restaurant. It came from the salad choppers, using a wicked looking double handled blade to chop and blend each salad on a large white cutting board.

You can read more about this great addition to the Memphis restaurant scene here: http://styleblueprint.com/memphis/everyday/lettuce-eat/

And what was the memory stirred up by that pounding sound? It took me back to 1983 and my first visit to Mont-St-Michel in France. We stayed at La Mere Poulard Hotel, whose kitchen is famous for its omellette -- a frothy, almost meringue-like concoction unlike any American omelet you've ever tasted. The sound -- the same drumlike beat that goes on and on--came from the cooks in the kitchen, who were whipping the eggs with huge whisks in copper bowls.














Both restaurants are unique in their own locations, both for the same reasons, which include absolutely fresh food prepared by hard-working hands -- a combination that somehow produces a music all its own.

Thanks for the memory.

3 Ways to Deal with the Holiday Calendar Crisis

I've just been looking at my calendar for the next two months. Holy Datebook! November's almost over, or will be by the time we negotiate next week's Thanksgiving trip. Then it's December with my husband's birthday and our anniversary both coming before Christmas. And smack in the middle of the various scheduled holiday parties comes the week we will be spending in the condo at Hilton Head. Do I really think I'm going to accomplish much between now and the New Year? Not a chance of that, but maybe there are some ways to turn a lot of small tidbits into a productive whole. Here's what I'm thinking this morning.

1. Give up on the idea of racing all the other NaNoWriMo writers to the finish line.  On November 15th, I was ahead of the curve. Now I'm slipping behind at an ever increasing pace. OK, so be it. It's really not about how many words you can put on paper; it's about how important your words are. Better not to write than to write drivel. If my characters want to talk to me, they can go ahead. I can add some bits and pieces of conversation without feeling I have to create a whole chapter at a time.

2. Go ahead and start planning for Christmas instead of worrying that there won't be time to get everything done. I woke up this morning thinking about my mother's recipe for Christmas sand tarts. It's been several years since I've made them, and we're trying to cut the calorie intake around here, but  . . . why not just do it? The darn things last forever, so instead of waiting for Christmas week, I may mix up a batch by Thanksgiving and kickstart my Christmas memories. Oh, and I must remember to take last year's fruitcake out of the freezer and see if it has survived.

3. Relax by having a little fun in the middle of the work day.For the next few weeks, I may turn this blog into a scrapbook of items that make me smile for one reason or another. Serious blog posts on the art and craft of indie publishing can wait until I'm actually practicing that art and craft full time again. In the meantime, here's what made me smile today. Purely by accident I ran across a picture of a marriage certificate signed by Gen. Rufus Saxton, who is a prominent character in The Road to Frogmore, and who will appear again in Yankee Reconstructed. I don't recognize the names of the bride and groom, Minerva Morris and James Bythwood, but I smiled when I actually saw a sample of Saxton's signature. I know that many of my characters are real people, but it's still fun to find traces of their lives.



What's Showing Up in Your Crystal Ball, Oh Wise One?

Mark Coker, the creative mind behind Smashwords, published this article today. Everyone even considering self-publishing needs to read it.

Ebook Publishing Gets More Difficult from Here - Here's How to Succeed

First the good news. 

For indie authors, there’s never been a better time to self-publish an ebook.  Thanks to an ever-growing global market for your ebooks, your books are couple clicks away from over one billion potential readers on smart phones, tablets and e-readers. 
As a Smashwords author, you have access to tools, distribution and best practices knowledge to publish ebooks faster, smarter and less expensively than the large publishers can.  In the world of ebooks, the playing field is tilted to the indie author’s advantage.

Now the bad news. 

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.scoop.it/t/self-publisher

Seven Tips to Help You Make Friends with Your Readers


As a former teacher, I always expected a standard reaction when someone asked me what I did. I got one of those just last week. A woman was doing her best to connect with me at a stand-up cocktail party. She herself was new in town, managing a small office that provided business services to other businesses. She finally quit talking about her company and asked me what I did. I told her I was a writer, and she looked puzzled. "What do you write?" she asked. "Novels," I replied. The look on her face said it all. She might as well have just stepped in a nasty sidewalk doggy mess. "Oh," she said, and then she was gone -- abruptly, without a word of transition. She had just marked me as an untouchable. OK. I guess she wasn't much of a reader. But she was also an exception.

One of the hardest things I have had to learn since I started writing was that most readers really like writers. Real readers get excited when they find out that I'm an author.  They want to ready my books. They want to know how I do what I do. They want to talk about characters as if they are our mutual friends. Bu there's still a problem--a barrier to be overcome. I don't want to be the obnoxious character who walks into a room saying, "Here I am -- an author -- please come do me homage." And making those connections is even harder in social media situations.So how do you turn a stranger into an adoring fan, or at least into "someone who knows your name"? Here are a few tips  I picked up at a recent writers' conference.


1. Be friendly. Show that stranger that you are interested in her, no matter how odd she is. After all, she might give you the seed from which to grow a new character.

2. Be willing to work with others who love and write books. Share your readers with other authors and help publicize their books. Mutual interests make good friends.

3. Keep your personal troubles and traumas out of your internet posts, or at least use two accounts, one for personal life, another for the business of writing. Whatever you do, don't whine!

4. But do share the fun things that happen to you--not how much money you just made, but the strange red chicken that wandered into your yard. Talk about the activities that give you pleasure, the kind deed you observed someone else do, or a particularly lovely moment. Let readers see your personality.

5. Encourage your readers to weigh in on a controversial issue, but avoid taking a stance that will alienate some part of them. I wouldn't endorse a political figure, for example, but I would speak out about the need to have a public vote on an issue that people care about. Here, we recently had a controversy over whether wine should be sold in grocery stores. Getting the question on the ballot was a tough fight, so I was comfortable urging people to sign that petition without telling them which side I would support.

6. On Twitter, try using a robot to schedule your postings. That will let you make sure you are not saying the same old thing to the same few people over and over again. Bookbuzzr.com is good for this because you can see a list of your posts, and schedule them so that they do not repeat at the same time or on the same day.

7. If you're trying to encourage people to buy your book, use your blog or facebook post to talk about the writing process, the problems you have had with the story, or the research you have done to make the setting come alive. Sell yourself, not your book.



How Many Strange Things Can We Find?

Several days ago, a friend commented about the football rankings in Mississippi and the winning political party in Arkansas, speculating that they signaled the coming of Apocalypse. As for us, we've had the wandering red chicken and yesterday's disastrous snowfall.  Can there be more?

This morning, Floyd walked out onto our veranda to pour coffee while I finished cooking breakfast in the kitchen.  He shouted loud enough to scare me witless. I was sure he had fallen or had a heart attack or uncovered a burglary. Here's what he saw looking back at him through the window:

Remember, we live in an urban area, within a more-or-less fenced -in community. No outdoor pets allowed, and he only trees are those planted ten years ago. This beautiful fellow was as scared as he was. They made eye contact, Floyd shouted for me to come see, and the buck took off running across the yards. Hope he makes it home safely.

Meanwhile, I'll remind you once more. The "boxed set" of my first four books is on sale as a pre-order until tomorrow. Save $2.00 by ordering today and help set a record Amazon book rating.

Thanks for clicking here.