Friday, February 6, 2015

Publisher Unleashed! In Hawaii!

By Gail Roughton

Jude Pittman and I have a multi-faceted relationship.  She’s my publisher, my writing partner, my friend.  Our lives have the most fascinating mixture of similarities and differences.  The foremost difference is she’s West-Coast Canadian and I’m Deep-South American.  The foremost similarities are two-fold.  We’re both writers, and we’re both paralegals with extensive legal backgrounds who’ve spent more years in law offices than either of us care to admit.  Unlike many cyberspace friends, we’ve actually met.  That’s because Jude masterminded a wonderful ten-day vacation to Hawaii (specifically Maui—she’d been offered the use of a friend’s condo for two weeks) last April that included me and her daughter Roxanne, who’s also a Books We Love editor.  Roxanne’s also my editor because she refuses to let anybody else edit me.  I'm not sure if that's because she loves my books or because she's scared of what I might come up with unsupervised.  I protested that no, I couldn’t come.  And Jude refused to let me not go.  That’s not awkward phrasing.  That’s the literal truth.  She refused to let me not go.  It wasn’t just a vacation, it was a writer’s retreat.  An opportunity to brainstorm on our then in-process project, Sisters of Prophecy – Ursula.  Then my husband chimed in.  “You might not ever get the chance again!”  So I went.  Jude’s a steam rollin' jauggernaut, an immutable force of nature. Don’t believe me?  I can prove it.

Let me tell you an Hawaii story.  She'd booked us a tour, "The Road to Hana", which is a scenic highway along the coast of Maui, 30 miles or so, that takes three hours to drive. That's us over there in the picture, waiting for our tour bus to pick us up at the condo.  There's a reason it takes three hours to drive the Hana Road.  It has about 300 hairpin turns and 50+ single lane bridges where one side of traffic has to wait for the other side of traffic to come over.  Beautiful beyond belief with such stops as waterfalls, the legendary “Painted Forest”, pounding surf, black sand beaches and occasionally, absolutely hair-raising.  Check out the pictures scattered about this blog. Anyway, she booked the three of us for a tour on a 12 passenger van, the deluxe tour.  And the 12 passenger van picked us up at our condo.  The problem arose when the passenger van connected at a Mall where they were feeding us breakfast  with a big  bus, Greyhound size,  with 25 people taking the tour. And indicated that we were to get on it.  

Now, the guy driving the mini-van that picked us up was great, the guy driving the big bus wasn’t.  Let’s just say his people skills were challenged.  He wasn’t native Hawaiian, or even native American, and please note I didn’t capitalize the ‘n’ in native.  I don’t mean he wasn’t American Indian, I mean he wasn’t American.  Imagine, if you will, taking a tour of Maui with a running commentary delivered in the accents made famous by the movie “Fargo”.  This driver proceeded to "assign" seats because "we can't separate the newlyweds, now can we?"  In other words, he was splitting me, Jude and Roxanne up.  How did this play with our Jude?  Not. At. All.  She refused to get on the thing.  "If I'd wanted a Greyhound bus, I'd have booked a Greyhound bus. And I frankly don't give a damn about the newlyweds as I paid considerably extra for the deluxe tour."  

Needless to say, we exited the bus and Jude called the tour company.  The conversation proceeded as follows:  "I paid for the deluxe tour on the 12 passenger van with captain's seats, which is what picked us up.  I am NOT getting on a bus the size of a Greyhound with 25 passengers and assigned seating."  They put her through to the home office.  The original driver of the twelve-passenger van who picked us up waited, as did the other bus.  Roxanne and I just sat down on a planter curb in the parking lot to watch the show.  Like I said, we were with an immutable force of nature.  Jude went through the whole process again with the home office. This time she added that if they couldn’t accommodate us, she expected to be taken back to the condo and did not expect to be left in a Mall parking lot. She further advised there was no need to hold the other bus up because she was NOT getting on it and if they couldn't get it resolved, they needed to have someone take us back to our condo and she'd take it up through her law office when she got back home. The home office said they'd call us back.

Through all this, our original mini-van driver enjoyed himself hugely.  It was very obvious.  He loved it.  The tour company called back and said there’d been a mix-up due to the on-line booking.  (Though I have a private suspicion the fact that neither the deluxe van nor the Greyhound size were quite full as things were and the Greyhound would be completely full if the tours were consolidated, thus obviating the need to run the smaller bus at all, might have had more to do with it.) But to their credit, they rectified the situation quickly.  The big bus pulled off without us, and our charming driver of the mini-van pulled off with the nine people he'd picked up. Thus we enjoyed our own tour in the deluxe van.  With Captain's seats.  Jude sat down beside me and said "And that's why Books We Love has survived when so many other small presses haven't."

Indeed.  And that’s Jude Pittman for you.  It was a fabulous day, my personal favorite day of our entire Hawaiian vacation.  Our bus driver Ben was a native Hawaiian, very handsome, very charming.  He treated us like queens and thought Jude was the bomb.  At one of the stops I told him I was sorry he didn't get his day off but was really glad he was our driver.  He laughed and said he wasn't sorry at all, he got paid more for driving this van anyway. He further assured me Jude was one of the greatest characters he'd ever met.  And I do believe my southern accent made a big hit with him, too.  I’ve often found that most folks are fascinated with a southern accent and believe me, nobody I met in Hawaii had the least trouble peggin’ the approximate site of my birth.  All in all, it was a memorable day with memorable people, and Jude made certain to give the tour company and driver Ben a stellar review on their website. They deserved it.  They gave us a day of stories and memories the three of us will never forget.  But my favorite story of the whole day?  You read it here first, folks!

Oh, and as to how much actual writing we got done--well, let's just say we brainstormed a lot.  Jude and I can be found at and