A Man of Many Hats (And I Don’t Mean I’m an Improv Troupe)

Man, there are so many little details about getting a book finished and out, it’s no wonder my former publisher seemed incompetent.

On the other hand, they had a few more guys on staff who didn’t have to relearn the wheel every time, like I’m doing.

Honk Honk, My Darling: A Rex Koko, Private Clown Mystery is barreling down the track of e-publishment. It’s pretty exciting, and might even get here sooner if I weren’t such a doofus and actually read all the instructions, manuals and tutorials that are supposed to help me get it out there.

But barreling it is, thanks to the work of Airan Wright, who did the cover art (and also redesigned my webpages here). I don’t want to put the cover art up yet, but believe me, it is knockout. Or as my friend Jon Eig emailed, “Totally Kickass!” When Airan and I got together last month to talk about the cover of this and its sequel, The Wet Nose of Danger, it took us literally three minutes to agree on a look, feel and color palette. Fonts? Layout? Graphic elements? Check, check, check. Waitress, please, another zinzer torte!

So at least the look will be handled by professionals. The coding for Kindle and its brethren is going a little smoother, too. Honk Honk will be the fifth book I’ve formatted (did one for a friend gratis, though it may have been a little rudimentary). I haven’t really dug deep into coding, but it appears that’s not all that necessary for a straight-ahead fiction book. My copy editing skills from days gone by have come in handy (so has the OCD). My formats might be changed and improved in the future, since uploading new versions is really a snap. Doing it frequently would be a bad idea, though, if I want to keep readers happy.

In addition to this, I’m recording and editing the audiobook podcast for Honk Honk. Audacity is really a great program for it: Very intuitive, easy to undo mistakes and miscues, easy to save files. It DID crash on me when I tried to copy and insert a very big chunk of dialog I had been pasting together. But it wasn’t a catastrophic loss, and I learned (again) the value of saving files. The first episodes will be available shortly. It’s taking longer than I thought, but I’m doing 16 characters in all, which I’ve been editing together from separate audio tracks.

Now, the only things I have to figure out are how to set up merch from Cafe Press, how to promote the books online and arrange book reviews, how to create postcards for it, how to get physical copies made, and how to use social media to better promote me and my brand.

Well, I guess that’s what the afternoon is for.

Where I Was and How I Heard About It

Fall of Berlin Wall — late Sunday night, falling asleep in front of CNN.

Nelson Mandela released from prison, fall and assassination of Nicolai Ceceascu — on NPR, driving in the snow at night, back to Detroit for Christmas. Developments during the 6-hour drive were regular and dramatic.

Attack on the World Trade Center — on NPR, driving to work. Went out and bought a small TV as soon as Best Buy opened.

Death of the coward Osama Bin Laden — On Facebook, then to CNN, again late on a Sunday night.

I’m very grateful that the fall of tyranny can burn strong memories in my head as vivid as those of great tragedy. It bodes well for my continued sanity. Watching Wolf Blitzer and John King stammer and vamp while waiting and waiting for the White House announcement was funny for a while, but I put up with it because the only alternative was Geraldo Rivera on the graveyard shift on Fox. (I hope he remembered to start the coffee for the morning crew before he left.)

And the college kids in front of the White House butchering the National Anthem made me yearn for a bombastic pro singer from a hockey game to wheel out a PA in a dapper suit and blow em all away. Where’s Fat Bob the Singing Plumber when you need him?

But those were as nothing, compared with watching Obama walk down that red carpet (repressing a swagger, you could just tell) and deliver his news in such calm and measured terms. I wanted more details — how Osama was shot, how many times, who got to chew on his skull first — but will certainly accept his announcement, including his reference to Bush and the reassertion that we were never at war with Islam. Gracious, exact, statesmanlike, cool, and in the end deadly. (The only note that was off was when he called for Americans to show the unity we did back in September 2001. Surely someone on the right is going to chastise him for using this moment to score partisan points! That will be the amusing sloppy seconds for the next few days: watching conservatives find Obama’s failings in this whole operation. Watch for lots of blame going to Bill Clinton for his impotent tossing of cruise missiles at Afghan training camps in 1998. And probably lots of mentions of Jimmy Carter, just to bring up his name to sully this effort.)

I certainly hope Obama allowed himself a WHOOOP when he got back out of camera range. I’d say it called for a drink and a cigarette.