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Friday, August 22, 2008


Can you call something "New and Improved!" if it got improved before it even had its debut?


I've been keeping a very late schedule lately because my baby arrived this week. I was really thrilled at how bright and glossy and colorful she was, and then I started looking for ways I could make her even better.

I was lucky to enlist the help of our art conservator friend, whom you might remember from this post. T. has a weekly sleep-over at our house, since we live close to the museum and then he doesn't have to commute so far to work. I used that opportunity to get his expert advice on my book's appearance, layout and images.

With his input, I realized that there were two photos that just didn't make the cut, when compared to the rest of the photography overall. As I went through the remaining photos in my inventory, I came to the conclusion that I didn't have anything better to replace them with either.

So yesterday I woke up even earlier so that I had almost an hour in Chinatown to myself before it was time to go to the office. It was a cool, misty morning, and very few people were out. Solitary figures in Portsmouth Square, practicing tai chi. A father, hand in hand with two little boys, perhaps on their way to the playground.

What was most special about this walk were the few elderly gentlemen that seemed genuinely welcoming to me, that smiled and nodded, or waved or said "good" to me as our paths crossed.

What was also special was that I ended up with 120 photos, many of them excellent. Which meant that I had to find room for them. Instead of replacing two images and calling it a day, my book went from 40 pages to 60 because there were so many other images that I couldn't believe I got so lucky with.

My book went from being a baby to a toddler, I guess.

Which meant that I was up until midnight sitting in front of the computer. Again. Thank god for cosmetics. Otherwise I'd look like an extra from the House of Wax. (I feel like one, though.)


All of this publishing business is bringing out memories of the 8-year-old girl in me. As a kid, I was always making tiny books and laying out my version of the Macy's fashion catalogs. No dolls, no stuffed animal could hold a candle to the chance to make a book, complete with a well-stapled binding. The books were generally illustrated in felt-tip pen with great care, but the writing was often plagiarized from random portions of Little House on the Prairie or Aesop's Fables. (At the time, I was more interested in the book production process, and meeting my internal publishing deadline was more important than where the text came from.)

(For years, my parents thought I was a something of a writing savant until I finally told them that they'd unknowingly been enjoying the excerpted words of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and not my own brilliant prose. They were crushed. But the single, extant copy of Vertrud and His Friends is still a family classic. As is The Fox and the Charry Tree.)


I wonder what kind of girl-powered publishing genius I would have been by now if I had had access to blurb.com as a child.

Oh well, better late than never, right?

ps. I promise this is the last version of the book and then I'll give you ALL the details! I have to make sure that my little girl is as perfect as I can make her before I send her out into the big world.


Christina August 22, 2008 at 12:02 PM  

Your little girl is going to be perfect! I love the first shot but can't leave the 2nd shot behind so, I love that one just as much : )

Let me ask you this: Do you wear those gorgeous shoes on your banner to walk around in to shoot these pics at such an early time of day?? I must know! Please.

paris parfait August 22, 2008 at 12:29 PM  

Ah, so THAT explains your absent-mindedness of late. :) Can't wait to see the finished product. I'm sure it will be brilliant. And then surely you will need to publicise it with a video? I know just the song. :) xoxox

Anonymous August 22, 2008 at 1:00 PM  

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

I keep thinking that I'm going to put together a photobook. Or put together a photobook with some of my favorite blog posts included. But I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Hey, I was just in SF in July at the BlogHer conference. Pretty city.

smith kaich jones August 22, 2008 at 2:49 PM  

Oh, I just laughed & laughed at you fooling your parents into thinking you were a genius. But maybe they were righter than you know! :)

Isn't it funny how those things you do as a child really mean things, are really telling? I was always absolutely the MOST interested in drawing on photographs, much to my mother's dismay. I still have one of my grandmother - she was about 20 & I drew boobs on her! With permanent ink. Those boobs are still there to this day, like silicone bubbles. It was only fitting that I grew up to be a photo retoucher - karma, karma, karma.

:) Debi

dutchbaby August 22, 2008 at 3:16 PM  

I am patient; I know it will be worth the wait. Do you need an ISBN ;)?

tangobaby August 22, 2008 at 4:48 PM  

Hi christina,

I hope so...she is turning out to be quite pretty and interesting.

Those shoes. Ah, those are my beloved Stuart Weismans and although they look tortuous, they are some of the most comfortable shoes I have. Seriously, I can walk forever in them. Although I don't do hills in them, so Chinatown is out, but I wear them a lot.

Hi paris parfait,

Beddy-bye has been an issue of late. But you stay up very much past your bedtime too and I have the emails to prove it! ;-)

I promise to sleep in tomorrow and catch up.

What song should I use? Tell me!


Hi kacey,

Your blog is lovely and I enjoyed reading your posts today. I'm sure I'll be back again visiting.

I hope you do make a book of your posts and photos. You'll enjoy the creative process.

I'm glad you enjoyed our city. I did not go to BlogHer but did do the Shutter Sisters photowalk...were you there perhaps?


Hi debi!

You totally inspired me on a new post, which I have to think more about. Hopefully they were more right about me being a book publisher than a plagiarist!

I love the story about the photo and the boobs! Classic! I guess you would have either been a photo retoucher genius or a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, huh?

Hi dutchbaby,

I'm almost there...just a little while longer. Maybe I'll need an isbn? Who knows? I could be a big hit!

Know any publishers who love Chinatown? tee hee.


tangobaby August 22, 2008 at 4:59 PM  

I cannot believe I misspelled Stuart Weitzman in my earlier comment.

What kind of shoe diva am I? One that can't spell, obviously.

I'm going to lose some street cred on that one.

willow August 22, 2008 at 8:21 PM  

I am wanting to do a book, too. In fact, several for family members. I have done six years of research on our family ancestry and have oodles of vintage photos, which I want to make up into a book. Which program did you use? And you are happy with it?

Relyn August 22, 2008 at 8:27 PM  

I am SO EXCITED!! YEA, Tangobaby. I love your gumption, your lack of some-day-itus. Excellent, happy news.

tangobaby August 22, 2008 at 9:12 PM  

Hi Willow,

Your book sounds completely fascinating and I'm sure your family will be THRILLED to see it!

I used blurb.com and from the sample books I've gotten so far, I think the quality is wonderful. I've only ordered softcover but they do have harcover options with dust jackets and without, and several sizes of formats.

You can download the software for free and it's plug-and-play...very very easy to use, and kind of addictive, actually.

When you finish your book, you upload the file, and then immediately get taken to blurb online where you can order your book.

You can open a store and your family can order the books directly from blurb, too.

Good luck! Go for it!

Hi relyn,

My second mommy, you are so good to me. I certainly get things done when I am driven (not about everything, but it happens). Thank you for being my cheerleader. It feels terrific!


Abbey August 23, 2008 at 11:30 PM  

Oh. My. Goodness! I cannot wait to see this masterpiece!!! I am way too excited for 11:30 at night! :)

PS Loved the story about your 8 year old "writing" and book publishing!! So Cute

willow August 24, 2008 at 7:27 PM  

Thanks for the details!! I need to do it and this sounds perfect.