In last week’s Publishers Weekly, award-winning and bestseller author Joseph Finder wrote an essay about book tours–mainly why publishers finance them for certain authors when they don’t seem cost-effective. He ended the essay with an announcement: ten 42-inch plasma television sets would be given away during his book tour. (His protagonist in his latest book, KILLER INSTINCT, works for a company that manufactures plasma-screen TVs.)
Well, Mr. Finder, I hate to one-up you, but I’ve been giving away something even more powerful during my self-financed tour on the lower West Coast. Something that the characters on the TV show, LOST, would kill for. Yes, you Murderati regulars know what I’m talking about–a smaller than a bread box (and certainly a 42-inch TV), as compact and lethal as a hand grenade, coveted by citizens all across the globe–a can of Spam.
The reason why? You all know. My amateur sleuth, JA gardener and a-bomb survivor, Mas Arai loves it. My third mystery, SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN, begins with it. Spam travels well and each can costs less than a gallon of gas. And it makes people laugh. The perfect door prize.
We officially ended the inaugural Mas Arai Spam Contest with an announcement this Saturday at my hometown mystery bookstore, Book’em Mysteries. Drum roll, please. The winner is Liz Peck of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her entry, "Growing up, we had Spam with brown sugar and mustard. I can picture Papa now–he cooked our meals–carving the Lilliputian size main course, just like pretend ham!"
The judges were impressed with the brevity yet emotionality of her entry and, of course, the use of the word, Lilliputian. In a few simple words, Liz drew a precious picture of her father and the relationship they all had to Spam and each other.
For her efforts, Liz will win the following:
- Signed copy of SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN
- Okinawan music CD
- Go for Broke veterans cookbook
- Spam musubi (sushi) maker
- Nori (seaweed)
- And–do we even have to say it?–Spam!
We at Mas Arai Central also had a special drawing of names from an L.A. Dodgers cap, no less. The winner of that drawing was Janet Cearley, the kind soul from Eugene, Oregon, who answered another’s call for a recipe for Spam Touchdowners. Here good deeds are rewarded, and Janet will receive a signed copy of SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN. Please go to my contest page to read the entries and full recipes of all the finalists.
In all seriousness, having an interactive contest has been great fun, but just like anything else, it takes time and effort to get the word out. I was surprised by the geographic diversity–I had submissions from all over the nation. I’m not sure if I’ll be doing a second annual Spam Contest, but rest assured, for the rest of my now sporadic book events for SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN, I’ll have my cans of Spam in hand.
And regarding Mr. Finder’s contest vs. mine, we all know that a plasma television’s life is limited, while Spam lasts forever.
Here are a few photos from our Spam festival in South Pasadena:
Okay, Mr. Barry Martin–let Mary do all the dirty work. I tried to get Barry to try to make Spam musubi, but he flat out refused. There’s only so much rejection a girl can take. Here Mary’s placing some sticky, short-grain rice on a sheet of nori. The plastic frame keeps everything in place.
Next it’s two slices of marinated and pan-fried Spam on top of one layer of rice and then it’s more rice. Mary’s pushing down everything here with the clear plastic top of the sushi maker. The plastic frame is easily removed.
And here we have it–a nice juicy slice of Spam musubi!
Hey, Rachael "30-Minute Meal" Ray, you might have some competition. Mystery author and chef? Maybe the beginning of a beautiful career.
Come back next week for a quiz about an upcoming guest blogger and a new feature, WEDNESDAY’S WORD.