The photo is from 1978. My son, his truck. Behind him, my truck.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

First Place -- "The best non-fiction book of 2014"

Just announced at the Book Expo America in New York: My book 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses has won the 2014 IRDA First Place as the "Best Non-Fiction of the Year." (IRDA is IndieReader Discovery Award, sponsored by Not "among the best." Not "one of the top five." They called it "THE BEST." First place. The best non-fiction indie book of 2014.

I'm feeling a little proud.

In addition to the honor, the prize includes a free Kindle Paperwhite 3G. I've never had an e-reader, so this will be a new experience for me.

But -- wow. "The best." If you see me smiling, now you know why.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Stamp of Approval in Publishers Weekly

The current issue of Publishers Weekly has a review of 99 Jobs. The words they use are:
"a gritty and entertaining memoir" 
"colorful characters and situations"
"Cottonwood's prose is lively and his stories often charming. Readers will find it easy to relate to the author and his experiences, which are likely to appeal to anyone who has worked a less-than-perfect job."
I'm delighted. In the main trade magazine of the big publishing industry, a good review in Publishers Weekly is an important stamp of approval for a small indie publisher such as myself.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mike Rose!

Mike Rose is one of my heroes. He is a guru of blue collar values and the author of The Mind at Work, a book that lives up to its description as he "demolishes the long-held notion that people who work with their hands make up a less intelligent class. He shows us waitresses making lightning-fast calculations, carpenters handling complex spatial mathematics, and hairdressers, plumbers, and electricians with their aesthetic and diagnostic acumen." I totally recommend the book. 

So I sent a copy of 99 Jobs to Mike Rose. He responded, and posted this review on Amazon: "This is a delightful book, full of engaging stories about work and working life. It is humane and warmly funny." He used a pseudonym to post the review, but he enthusiastically encouraged me to identify him and use the quote. Then he bought another copy and sent it to a craftsman-friend, who wrote back: "I've only read five paragraphs coming back from the mailbox and I'm already laughing out loud."
". . . a delightful book, full of engaging stories about work and working life. . . humane and warmly funny."
—Mike Rose, author of The Mind at Work.
Word of mouth, plus a couple of Amazon reviews, are my only publicity. A self-published book isn't going to get any help from the big media. You won't see 99 Jobs reviewed in the New York Times. Oprah won't be plugging it (though she might like it).

If you've read 99 Jobs and happen to like it, please tell a friend. Maybe even post a review on Goodreads or Amazon. Help people find it.

A few days ago, the UPS driver delivered a package to my house and said, "Hey! I'm reading your book!" Somebody on the route had bought a copy for him. Made my day. I hope you all have a good one, too.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

I'm giving away 9 copies of 99 Jobs

Goodreads Book Giveaway

99 Jobs by Joe Cottonwood

99 Jobs

by Joe Cottonwood

Giveaway ends December 26, 2013.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On the air

I'm on the radio today, KQED San Francisco, the Perspective show. It will be repeated on Sunday. If you're out of radio range, as most of you are, you can hear me at:

It's a two-minute reading of "The Secret Value of Junk," one of the stories in 99 Jobs.

They snapped this photo of me, looking like I just stepped off a construction site.

Oh well. We can't all be glamorous.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bookmarks, bookmarks, bookmarks...

Maybe all that sawdust from the Kesey lumber went to my brain. I underestimated how much work the bookmarks would require. If you're a carpenter, you're probably familiar with that sinking sensation when you've put in a whole day and accomplished one-fifth of what you expected.

About those Kesey bookmarks: I invited Terry Adams to join me and James Adams (no relation) in the production. Terry is a natural for the job. Terry is the man who rescued Ken Kesey's house from collapse and rebuilt it after a flood. Terry donated the floorboards and water tank lumber. Here's Terry routing "99 Jobs" into some bookmarks:

Terry could only work for a short while because it was his 70th birthday and he was about to spend the day motorcycling, which is more important than anything.

About that routing. It's hard. You're holding a five-pound, vibrating router in one hand while trying to write on a thin piece of wood. Wood grain and worm holes try to redirect the router. And handwriting was always my worst skill in grade school. Here are some that I had to reject:
The top bookmark, which seems to say "99 Jabs," is a fir floorboard from the Kesey house. As you can see, worms found those floors to be quite tasty. Maybe it was the chemicals spilled in the kitchen. The bottom bookmark is redwood from the Kesey water tank. My hand simply wandered on that one. I blame the sawdust fumes.

Anyway, we're having fun. I'm sorry about the delay, but hey, that's construction. I should have everything out in the mail by next Monday.

And here's a comment from somebody who saw the wormy bookmarks:
Joe, your wormy floorboards reminded me of an Ogden Nash poem (which I may accidentally misquote):

The Termite
Some primal termite knocked on wood,
And tasted it, and found it good.
And that is why your cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.

Monday, November 4, 2013

(Quickly) Opinions, please

In less than 24 hours I need to make a final decision on the book cover. Here are two versions:

Which do you prefer? Or a combo of the two?

Here's the back cover. I think it's pretty well nailed down, but if you have comments, please let me know. Time's a-wastin'!

Later today I'll join James Adams at his workshop to make more bookmarks. Over the weekend I saw him sharpening knives on a whetstone, and I can testify that he has no fear of cutting edges. To demonstrate how his thumb was healing, he whacked on the bandage with the back of a knife, apparently feeling no pain. At least, no blood spurted out. James is a character. A good one. A pleasure to work with.