Not a week passes when I don’t hear from readers suggesting that I put my columns into book form.
Well, considering I’ve written nearly 1,000 columns and each one is a minimum of four typewritten pages, just lifting such a book would all but guarantee a hernia, and it probably would cost about $250 per copy. So a couple weeks ago, seeing that the holiday season rapidly is approaching, I came up with the idea of putting some of my previous holiday-themed columns into a book and calling it, “Happy Holidays! Now Hand me my Tranquilizers!”
Then I searched for the columns.
I’ve never been a very organized person, and my hunt for my past columns only served to verify that fact. As I searched, I began to feel as if I were on a scavenger hunt. I found columns stored on floppy disks and CDs. I found columns that had been cut out of the newspaper and pasted into scrapbooks or just tossed into a plastic bin. I even found columns that were so old, they still were in their original form – typed on paper using an actual typewriter.
Unfortunately, I soon learned there was no order to any of the columns. One box contained columns only from 1998 and 2003. I had no idea where the other five years were. And one of the scrapbooks skipped from 2004 to 2008.
But the floppy disks gave me the most trouble. Either they wouldn’t play at all, or they displayed an error in formatting. The computer kept asking me if I wanted to re-format them. In the past, I learned the hard way that in computer talk, re-formatting a disk means the computer, cackling with maniacal glee, attacks the disk and erases everything on it, then spits it out.
Finally, after looking through so many columns, my eyeballs felt as if I’d popped them out and rolled them in ground glass, I found about 20 with holiday themes. They had titles like, “Gift Swap Flop,” “Out of Luck Potluck,” “Season’s Eatings,” and “The Christmas Candle Scandal.” I selected 17 of them for my book.
I didn’t use the other three because they were just too outdated. I mean, one of them described my frantic search for a robe for my mother-in-law, and how I’d driven to 10 stores during a blizzard and nearly ran out of gas and died of hypothermia in the process. I may as well have written I’d driven a covered wagon to the mall. I mean, computers have dramatically changed shopping. If I were looking for that same robe today, I’d grab a cup of tea, relax on my sofa, and go online and search for it there.
After finding the columns I wanted to use, I set to work designing the book’s cover. I figured it was about time I put my art lessons to good use, so I dug out my sketching pencils and colored markers. I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted on the cover – a tired-looking woman with her hair in curlers, slouching in an easy chair, her feet surrounded by a pile of Christmas wrapping paper, and maybe some ribbon dangling from her hand.
All I can say is my vision was much easier to imagine than it was to draw. The woman’s head ended up looking like a butternut squash. And when I tried to slouch her body in the chair, I couldn’t get her feet in the right position. She ended up looking as if she were a contortionist…or she’d been in some horribly disfiguring accident. And her feet weren’t the only ones that were lopsided. The chair’s feet I drew looked as if they were part of a Picasso painting.
I erased my sketch paper so many times, I finally wore a hole right through it. By then, I was so tired, I figured all I had to do was pop some curlers in my hair and take a photo of myself for the cover of the book and I’d be all set. The only problem was I didn’t want to frighten away any potential book buyers.
Finally, a couple days later, I managed to come up with a drawing for the cover that I thought looked passable. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but I was satisfied with it. To be honest, I was so fed up with the darned cover by then, I would have derived a lot of pleasure from hanging it on the wall and tossing darts at the woman’s baggy-eyed face.
I organized the columns for the book, typed them into my computer, wrote out a table of contents and then proofread everything. Finally, I was ready. I submitted the book and the cover to Amazon.com for publishing and then waited for the editors’ approval or rejection.
The next day, I received an email saying there was a problem. I was afraid to read it.
“You also need a back cover,” the email informed me.
I’m pretty sure I groaned out loud. I’d had so much trouble designing the front cover, I’d completely forgotten (perhaps intentionally) that the book needed a back one.
For the sake of my sanity, I decided to make the back cover as simple as possible. I looked for a pattern in green to slap on it. I found one that resembled indoor-outdoor carpeting and scanned that. Then I wrote a brief synopsis on the cover and resubmitted the whole thing to Amazon.
I’m pleased to say the book finally has been published and looks much better in print than I’d anticipated. Even the front cover looks fairly professional (if you don’t examine it too closely). And it’s a good stocking-stuffer size, too – only 78 pages. So I’m happy.
Now, I think I’ll start searching for my Valentine’s Day columns.
MY BOOKS & THE NH SPCA
With the holiday season approaching, many readers who don’t have computers and therefore, can’t order my books online, have been sending letters and postcards asking if I still have copies of “There’s a Tick in my Underwear” available. Yes, I do. Anyone who would like an autographed copy can send $10 (which includes shipping) to me at: PO Box 585, Suncook, NH 03275-0585. If you would like the book personally autographed, be sure to include the person’s name, and please print clearly.
Also, if you would like an autographed copy of the “Happy Holidays” book I discussed in this column, you can order it online in either print form or electronic form at Amazon.com or directly from me for $6 ($3.50 plus $2.50 for shipping). If you order more than one book from me at the same time, the cost is $3.50 per book and only $3.50 for shipping the entire order, not per book, so you’ll save quite a bit on postage.
Seeing that I love animals so much, I am going to donate a percentage of my books’ proceeds to the NH chapter of the SPCA and hopefully help make this a happier holiday season for some “kids” of the furry, four-legged variety.
Thank you for all of your support!