First Pass Page Proofs I had thought, when Woody left in August after a thorough proofing of the galleys, that they were in near perfect shape! There were so many colored post-its marking the pages with corrections it looked like the "united colors of Benetton," and I realized belatedly that I would have been better off attaching them to the pageswithout changes as they were far fewer. In case you missed this photo on the January greeting, here it is now. By the way, to avoid missing any postings be sure to subscribe to the newsletter--it's in the upper right hand corner of the main blog page. Ava, our wise production manager, warned me that is never so--that with each new set of eyes more 'mistakes' are found. And along came the first set of page proofs. What a pleasure it was to input all the corrections from the galleys onto the final design with all the color photos in place. Of course, in the final production, the photos will be more beautiful still but I have to report that I am extraordinarily happy with the way they look even in proofs-- they seem to jump off the page. In fact, yesterday, I tried brushing away some chocolate crumbs from the pages and to my amusement and delight discovered they were not on the page but in the photo! And then came the return of the 3 sets of page proofs from the 3 proofers. Why is it I've never had to work so hard on any of my previous books? Could it be because this is the first large four color production? Could be but it's probably more because I had two gifted and devoted volunteer proof-readers in addition to a fastidious professional proof reader employed by the publisher. Matthew Boyer, whose many helpful comments appear on the blog, sent me his findings in batches on spread sheets via e-mail, giving me the chance to get a much needed head start. Anthony Wright, cake decorator and baker par excellence and former assistant to former student Jan Kish, hand delivered his proofs the day of my return from Hope, and Rochelle Palermo, Wiley's official proof reader sent in her set to Ava to review which was then forwarded to me with more comments from her.
You are probably wondering just what changes needed to be made and I find it almost impossible to give a full explanation--probably because I'm too exhausted from having done it. For one thing, since stage two of the photography was done after the galley proofing, there were some changes that needed to be reflected such as a change in the design of a cake, or a ganache needing to be a little firmer. But the main work involved is due to the staggering difficulty and complexity of crafting precise and technical directions into clear, simple, and direct text so that the baker who is working FROM the book can zoom joyfully and successfully through the recipes. Here's an example: Rochelle was concerned about the instructions for heating things in a microwave versus a cook top. She feared that the way it was written a novice might put a microwavable cup or bowl directly on the cooktop and have an inevitable disaster. Here's how it appeared in the page proofs as I had written it: In a 1-cup or larger microwavable glass measure, or a small saucepan, heat the ..... It was my contention that the comma after measure separated the microwave method from the cooktop and that to repeat the word microwave was unnecessary (i.e. in a 1-cup or larger microwavable glass measure in a microwave). Woody and I went back and forth about this until finally I decided to get another opinion--that of my husband's who grew up in Toronto under the "Queen's English" system of education. The first thing he said was that the word or cannot be followed by a comma, but that it wasn't necessary to repeat the word microwave. Ah ha! I realized at once that all I had to do to fix everything was to replace the comma with parentheses to set off the stove top method and add the words medium heat, as follows: In a 1-cup or larger microwavable glass measure (or a small saucepan over medium heat) heat the ..... Maybe it seems obvious now that you see it in the correct form but getting there WAS not a straight road! And this represents just one of hundreds of decisions. Now all that remains for the first page proofs is a meeting with Ava to discuss about 10 decisions we need to make together. Then I will cross the Hudson River by Path Train to Hoboken and hand deliver the page proofs, as no other delivery system would be acceptably trustworthy to me after all this work! It is stunning how much love, devotion, and care is being given to this book and I hope that when you finally see it you will love and appreciate as much as I do already. One of the most magical moments for an author is to receive the first copy of the book. People compare it to giving birth. I wouldn't be surprised! The day after completing the page proof review seemed to loom before me with infinite possibilities now that I didn't have to deal with the proofs. The freezer bread drawer for Elliott was getting dangerously empty so my first thought was to start a bread while catching up with other neglected activities. I rifled through my favorites that are printed out and came across speja bread. What on earth is speja I thought and then wondered if I had forgotten how to make bread! I am far too good at closing the filing cabinet of my mind--this is the dark side of intense focus. In short order I remembered that it was the unusual apricot and walnut bread from Sweden posted on this blog some months ago. Then I couldn't make up my mind between Elliott's two top favorites: raisin pecan or challah. I rarely call him at work but this seemed important enough to break the rule and he didn't seem at all disturbed answering, after a thoughtful pause: "Challah, I guess, since it's more versatile." Oh yes--I remember how to do this- so simple--defrost some starter and let it sit in the water in the bread machine container for 30 minutes while weighing out, eggs, honey (no let's try golden syrup instead), and oil in one cup, then flour, yeast, and salt in a bowl and into the bread machine for 10 minutes. It's now rising in a container in the kitchen as I write this and I look forward to turning on the oven to add some extra heat to the house! I feel almost back to normal now--bread baking always helps me to regain my equilibrium. Now to those letters I haven't opened for two weeks. Oh, by the way, if you're wondering what we did about dinner during this deep freeze and proofing marathon, I discovered all sorts of wonderful things stashed in the freezer--meat sauce made this summer with leftover goat, wild salmon I ordered from the west coast during the salmon run, edamame, Chinese sausage, and brown rice (not in the freezer) (Hector's suggestion for comfort food from the rice cooker) and meatballs in tomato sauce. We never go hungry in this house--and of course there's always wine. And there's always the addictive and seemingly endless supply of ValRhona milk chocolate coated almonds in the cold room. I also found 3 containers of frozen egg whites I plan to turn into a chocolate speckled angel food cake to thank Jesus, our doorman, for his emergency computer technical services. (By the way, I made it during the inauguration and since it was black and white I couldn't resist calling it the Obama cake!) And for tonight I'll take out a package of pesto and have a slice of the challah for dessert.