Hope 2016 is off to a great start for all of you. This post will shed light on the cryptic photo I posted New Year’s Day which simply read: ©2016. The box in the above photo was under the tree waiting for our daughter when she returned on Dec 24th from 4-month study abroad in Parma, Italy. Before she left in August she gave me 12/24 as the deadline for “finishing” my novel, Peach Seed Monkey . Inside the box: three perfect bound paperback editing copies of the book ~ made possible by a miracle called  The Espresso Book Machine (EBM) ~  an incredible tool for writers preparing for publication: on-demand printing while you wait!

At a Halloween party I met sisters Steph and Judy (dressed as a pirate and her parrot); the parrot told me about I Street Press at the Sacramento Central Library where they have an EBM. For a couple of print matter geeks like my graphic designer husband, Rob and me, this was big fun: I shot a close-up of a peach seed on a rust & teal piece of metal for the cover, which Rob designed. Then he formatted the manuscript in a PDF according to the EBM specs. We drove to Sacramento armed with 2 PDFs on a flash drive: one for the book block and one for the cover. Hats off to librarian printer Gerry Ward who worked the magic that produced our three warm copies.

The I Street Press EBM is encased in glass (maybe they all are?) so you can watch your paperback cover and book block come together right before your eyes. 5 minutes later a book pops out like a warm loaf of bread! This machine is a mishmash with a high speed Xerox copier on one end to print the book block, the EBM in the middle, an Epson color copier at the other end to print the cover —all run by a Mac. As Rob said, “I love that in the middle of this high tech machine is a messy glue pot.” And so it is. After a decade of words, drafts, edits (and still more to come) for these three preliminary drafts it came down to a bead of glue the EBM lays down on the spine to hold it all together. The glue—and a powerful guillotine making three cuts—is the difference between 300 sheets of paper and a book you can flip through, wrap and put under the tree.

When the words are all dressed up it makes a huge difference. A stack of 8.5″ x  11″ manuscript pages—Times Roman, messy with edits—versus a formatted draft—dressed in a Granjon font—is like wearing sweats versus a tux. A lot can hide under those sweats but when you put on a tailored, pressed tux it shows what kind of shape you’re in.

So…fellow writers: we work hard inside our processes so why not have some fun? When you’re at the “solid draft” phase, design a fun cover, imagine your story as a book then print a copy or two—see link below—you will feel very differently about those words and see things you would otherwise miss. Sure, you can use one of many online presses and wait 5-7 days but it’s way cooler to be part of the process and walk away with your book(s). But most importantly, to dress the words is to dress the characters and show them how much you believe in them.

Next step? My devoted husband and daughter are busy reading and marking up their copies. Then I’ll go back in ( yes…AGAIN) and produce the draft that I will send to my editor/coach for final (for real) edits. I read once that a writer said you’ll know when you’re finished because when you look at your book you’ll want to throw up. I’m almost there!

To all my blog followers I appreciate your support these past  years—and thank you, Miranda, for the deadline that generated this giant step. Now…enough is enough…you won’t hear anymore about this dang process until it’s time to order a copy…and may that happen before we make another trip around the sun…


Find an Espresso Book Machine near you ~

I Street Press in Sacramento: