(1) Disaster Down-Under (2) Pajama Pyjama Girls

First, I want to say a word about the wildfire disaster in Australia. With more than 1,800 homes lost and as many as 200 people dead I went to see about how to make a donation — but without much luck. If anybody in Australia has information about this — is there an Australian RedCross, for example? Please post in the comments.

In the meantime, I had a question from Meredith:

So, here’s my stupid question of the day – has Pajama Girls been published in Australia yet? I’ve searched for it all over the place (both here and in Brisbane) and have met with blank looks and offers to order it from the States… I’m happy to order it from the US if I need to, but I do like to support the Australian industry where possible.

Pyjama Girls in Australia

Pyjama Girls in Australia

Not a stupid question. In fact, I should have posted about this long ago. The novel did come out in Australia and is still available, but it may be difficult to find for a couple reasons:

  • In the U.S. this novel came out under Rosina Lippi; in Australia you’ll find it under Sara Donati.
  • In the U.S. the title is The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square; in Australia the spelling is different:  The Pyjama Girls of Lambert Square.
  • It may be listed under The Pyjama Sisters of Lambert Square.

This is how number three came to pass:

Random House Australia was getting the book ready for publication. As a part of the process they sent me a mockup of the cover, which is very visually appealing but has little to do with the story. However, that wasn’t the real problem. Somehow, somewhere along the line, the title got changed to The Pyjama Sisters of Lambert Square. The mockup of the cover was the first I knew of that. I pointed it out to my agent, and she got in touch with Australia, pronto.  Unfortunately, by that time a lot of promotional material had already gone out.

They did their best to fix the problem but the confusion remains in many places. You’ll note that on this Australian bookstore page Pyjama Girls and Pyjama Sisters are both used.

The Random House Australia webpage for Pyjama Girls also has a long list of bookstores (brick-n-mortar and online) where the book is available.

So thanks to Meredith for raising the subject.

publication dates, book six, arcs

In Australia/NZ, The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square will be coming out in March ’08, so within a month of the U.S. pub date. That’s a contractual thing, so you can be sure of it.

I have been getting a lot of email queries lately about Book Six. There is a link to a full post about pub dates, etc, in the right hand column.

Out of the blue I have one extra advance reading copy of Pajama Girls. Interested? Leave a comment to this post, and one winner will be drawn at random. But there are a couple restrictions you have to agree to (and which, by entering a comment, you are agreeing to): 1. You will not sell the arc before the pub date (02.14.08); 2. You will not publish any kind of summary or information about the novel, including plot and characterization — unless you are writing a review for a wider audience. In that case, please contact me first. And that’s it.

So toss away. I’ll pull a name next Monday.

what's in a name

A week or so ago I invited questions and somebody (you out there? please speak up) came up with an interesting one that I haven’t answered yet. And maybe it can’t be answered. But it was something like this:

Do you think your contemporary novels (Tied to the Tracks, Pajama Girls of Lambert Square) would do better if they were published under Sara Donati rather than under Rosina Lippi?

First, I should note that all my novels — contemporary and historical — appear under the name Sara Donati in Australia and New Zealand. The publisher asked how I would feel about this, and I said: fine. I really didn’t mind, and I could see their reasoning. Sara does really well downunder, much better than she does here in the States. I will never forget the day my Australian editor emailed to say that Sara had knocked John Griffith off the number one spot. So there’s one way to answer this question: ask my Australian editor how TTTT is doing. Except this is something I will never do. Talking about numbers makes me so anxious I can’t write for days.

In this country nobody ever raised the subject of which name to use for the contemporaries. The thought did cross my mind, but I didn’t pursue it. Now, in retrospect, was that a mistake? Would the contemporaries do better if they were Sara’s instead of mine?

I dunno. I suppose it’s possible — Sara has better name recognition, after all — but there are also ways it might have worked against me. Sara was born precisely because the publishers were worried about (their phrase) confounding reader expectations. Homestead and Into the Wilderness came out within three months of each other, and they were nervous about that fact.

Which means very simply this: Joe has read all the Wilderness novels and really likes them. He sees Sara has a new novel out, and he bops on down to the bookstore and buys it immediately.Then Joe sits down to read and he’s disappointed. He was expecting adventure and high jinks with a love story or two thrown in, battles, Curiosity-like characters. And instead he got Angie Mangiamele. He is unhappy. Sara has disappointed him by switching direction.

My hope would be that he is so delighted with Angie and Rivera and the rest of them that he soon forgets he was expecting something else, but that may be unrealistic of me.

Please note: this is not my conclusion. This is how the publisher looks at it. Are they right? I have no idea. I’ve tried to think of a parallel — some author who changed direction and threw me off balance — but nothing comes to mind. So the question is, would Tied to the Tracks be selling like gangbusters if Sara’s name were on the front cover? Or — hold onto your hats — a third, completely new penname?

I just don’t know. What do you think?

in which I am rescued by PBW

I really meant to write the next post about plot/story yesterday. Then I meant to write it today. And now it’s almost midnight, and I don’t have enough wits about me to write something I really have to think about.

Then PBW threw out this meme. I am saved.

Eight random facts about me:

1. I first got braces at age 28; I made the orthodontist take them off two years later because I refused to get married with a metal mouth.

2. My eyesight is really, really bad. I wore contacts from age fourteen (yes, in 1970 I was wearing contacts) until age 42, when my eyes simply refused to cooperate. Every day I put on my glasses and wish for contacts.

3. I adore dogs. I especially love smallish dogs (10-15 pounds); I would have ten of them if the Mathematician would only see the light. I’d have a couple Havanese, a couple of small terriers of various kinds (Norfolk, Australian, etc), and the rest would be rescues.

4. When I left academia and started working out of the house, I stopped doing housework of any kind. Now the fantastic Isabel comes for one day a week and whips the whole house and all the laundry into shape. If money were no issue, I’d pay her a huge salary with full benefits and she’d only have to work two days a week. Because she’s that good.

5. I am really bad at cards and board games both. My brain doesn’t work that way. Or at least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

6. I like rap (not all, but a lot of it), and I always have, since the beginning.

7. If money were no issue, I’d spend all my time taking art courses and playing with paint, pastels, pencils, and every kind of fiber-related material. And listening to books on tape while I worked.

8. My daughter is taller, skinnier, far prettier, smarter, more politically savvy, and better read than I was at her age. She eats what she likes and wears a size two; she rarely breaks out, and she’s got both the Mathematician’s math genes and my storytelling/writing stuff. My biggest and bestest accomplishment ever: the Girlchild.

I’m supposed to tag EIGHT people, which is really way too much. I can put down a couple names. None of these people will play, but there will be eight names:

Shonda Rhimes, Alice Munro, Robyn Bender, Al Gore, Annie Proulx, Noam Chomsky, Anna Quinlan, A.S. Byatt


PS Speaking of Shonda Rhimes, this is reason enough for my great big ole girlcrush.