.by Anura Guruge
While, of course, it was opportunistic, my real motives was to make SOME of the contents of ‘The Next Pope 2011‘ available as an eBook and do so at a cheap price. I will never publish ‘The Next Pope 2011′ as an ebook. It is a large format book. So what I am trying to do is to provide some of its content, complete and self-contained, as Kindle ebooks. This, for those familiar with the book, is ‘Appendix C’ in its entirety, with a stripped down ‘Appendix A’. I wrote ‘Appendix C’ in 2009 and spent a whole year writing it — which by my standards is a long time. People have enjoyed that Appendix. So, here it is as a cheap eBook. Deanna, who helped format it, is giving me grief for not pricing it higher.
I can honestly say that this is the 1st book I have produced, from the get go, as an ebook. So, I was not really familiar with the process and that stressed me out. I like to know what I am doing when it comes to publishing. Yes, I have other ebooks, but they were all published first as paperbacks and I then gave Amazon a PDF and said ‘go for it’. PDFs aren’t the best way to produce ebooks, but my MS Word files for those books are way too huge to be uploaded.
Yes, I have published books in a day before — publishing very different from writing them. I did one for my father a few years ago. He sent me a Word file and I had it published in a few hours.
The idea for this book came to me, around 10:30 am, while I was shoveling snow! I started working on it at noon yesterday. Deanna helped me with the formatting. In the original text I had used word highlighting to emphasize headings. All of that highlighting had to be taken out and the underlying words, appearing in ‘white’, changed to black and bold. Deanna did all of that. I had to still do some other juggling around. Stripping down a table and appending it. Creating a cover. Writing a quick ‘Preface’.
I had a face-to-face interview with a Citizen reporter at 3pm. So I had to prepare for that. Interview lasted till about 4. I worked on the ebook for about 3-4 hours. By 7:15 pm I had the finished Word file and the cover. Logged onto Kindle and submitted these. I have published 3 other titles with Kindle. So, to them, I am a known entity. The Word file and the cover JPEG have to be converted by them. You have no control or say. But, no problems. Converted fine and converted quickly. So by 7:30 the book was in Kindle Review. They ask for 12 hours. But, at 1 am, the book was up on Amazon — around the World. I was chuffed. Amazon/Kindle know me. They have an amazing ‘ranking’ system. If you are already an established author, whose books sell ‘OK’ and you have got ‘decent’ reviews — they fast track your publications. Make sense. They want to sell new books as much as the author. So, I like that. If it is your first book, they check it out more thoroughly.
I dedicated this book to my maternal grandmother. I really can’t remember WHO I have dedicated all my books to! Yes, I know that some were to women from my past. But, I know Deanna has one and I am sure the kids have more than one dedication. I will have to go check. I am sure I haven’t done one for my grandmother. This morning Deanna was commenting on the wording since she know the background. I have mentioned it on these pages before.
I was born kind of deformed, which is why even today I look rather strange. My arms and legs were twisted and intertwined and my foreskin was fused so that I could not pee. I am eternally grateful to my maternal uncle, the doctor, who delivered me, for not circumcising me on the spot, as they would have done in any other country. We don’t circumcise. We are very civilized in Sri Lanka even if we just climbed down from the trees. Instead, he and my grandmother forced the skin apart using coconut oil. This was 1953 and Ceylon was a 3rd world country. Coconut oil then became my main medication for the next 3 months — which might explains why I am still shiny. My grandmother, from what I am told, spend 8 or more hours a day massaging my limbs, with coconut oil, to get them somewhat straight. She seems to have done a good job. I get about! I used to hear that watching me walk, run, get into all sorts of trouble and play cricket, was a source of great satisfaction to my grandmother. She followed me most places. Other kids have puppies. I had a grandmother. She watched me all the time. So, it is only fitting to dedicate this book to her. My name for her, ‘Ambili Amma’, were the first words out of my mouth. That too changed my life. ‘Amma’, is ‘mother’ and is what kids are expected to say. ‘Ambili’ is Pali, a dead, classical language that people do not speak, though both my parents (just like you can have Latin or Greek scholars) were Pali scholars — Pali (analogous to Greek and the bible) being the language used to document Buddha’s life. So as soon as I said: ‘Ambili’ my parents knew what it meant! They were shocked. It was never a word they had used. It was not a word I would have heard. Akin to a 8 month old in Alton using the Greek word for ‘moon’ and appending that with mother. Buddhist believe in reincarnation. So, if this 8 month old kid, who was born deformed, was talking Pali, then I must be able to remember a prior life — when people spoke Pali. Kids who were thought to remember prior lives were ‘special’. The rest is kind of history. Never uttered a word of Pali after that!