Whiling away the hours, days, weeks, and more

While this quarantine/lockdown/Coronavirus thing is still throwing a wrench into people’s lives, and likely will be for a while, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve been doing, and also have planned, to while away my time (It did not take a long while to figure out how to cram all those “whiles” into one sentence; I’m quite the wily prose veteran).

Many of you know that I formed a publishing company called 18% Gray Publishing when I decided to edit, design and publish a book of memoirs, essays and song lyrics by a

Book sales 041720
Those gold and gray lines represent sales of “Shut Up and Listen,” the book I published at the end of March. We’re going to be so bloody rich! Well, OK, at least I’ll make enough to pay for that new desktop publishing software I bought, then have a bit left over for black market toilet paper.

longtime Milwaukee-area musician. “Shut Up and Listen: Me vs. Me: Confessions of a Bipolar Rock and Roller” by Rob McCuen came out on March 30. Since then, I’ve sent out about a dozen press releases to various media outlets, done some other marketing and counted up the royalties as they have accumulated. It’s not a New York Times bestseller yet, and we’ve lost some income, so if the book interests you, we’d love for you to purchase a copy or 5,000. Check it out here.

It looks like 18% Gray’s next offering will be a book of memoirs, essays and musings by my dad. He’s been adding to his file for the past 18 years, and at the age of 84, I guess he decided it was finally time to put it together in book form. Plus, he now has a son who publishes books. The next one will be done much faster since I purchased a desktop publishing suite from Affinity for half-price (now, back to the tutorials…).

I’m not sure if Dad will want the book made available for publish consumption or not; we haven’t talked about that yet. We have, however, bandied about possible titles for Raymond J. Hoffman’s debut. His working title is “The Tales of Hoffman(n),” which  alludes to the fact that he’s had two official spellings of his surname (explained in the

My dad, Raymond J. Hoffman, giving a toast at my wedding in 2010. He was my best man.

book), but we’re not sure that quite captures the tone and magic of what readers will experience while gobbling up the pages one after another. “Ray of Hope” and “Ray of Sunshine” didn’t quite seem to fit either, although the play on words is impeccable.

I suggested “Diary of a Mad Man,” while my lovely wife went one step further and said that “Diarrhea of a Mad Man” might be even more apropos. Dad’s considering Kimberly’s idea. At least that’s what he said, but I think he’s just being nice. Just waiting on him to send me photos, so I can come up with a proper cover and break up the text with appropriate images.

Whatever Dad’s book is titled, it will be a hit among relatives for sure, as many of us

Shut Up cover test
One of the covers that got shot down by the cover committee (Dad) for his book that I’ll be publishing before too long. The “Trucker” reference is to his high school, the Clintonville (Wis.) Truckers.

have already heard several of the stories. These range from his memories of rationing during World War II to getting run over by a friend of the family (though not getting hurt) and blaming his tears on being hit by another boy to intercepting Russian messages in the Air Force, and becoming a husband, father and grandfather. He even talks about the Cornoavirus, among a few other current affairs.

Let’s see. What else has kept me busy?

  • Ordering groceries online, then washing them before putting them away.
  • Having toilet paper shipped to the house because we couldn’t find any at our local stores for weeks.
  • Fixing the roof above our front porch because all the dang wind lately tore part of it off.
  • Working in a community college parking lot because our Internet went out in the same storm that ripped off the piece of roof.
  • Walking and biking and finding loose change (although not as much as before people started staying in their homes).
  • Interviewing Franklin College sports journalism students via video chats so that they may have a practice interview before they do them for real. I’ve been doing this for years; first time not doing them face to face.
  • Preparing for an interview with a guy who has taken interest in my first book,

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    “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher” and does a podcast on true crime and related topics.

  • Preparing a program for a Columbus, Indiana, Kiwanis Club meeting next week. My wife and I will be doing something by video relating to authors and writers.
  • Learning more about what it would take to purchase and own an established publishing company.
  • Giving to those whose jobs were more negatively affected than ours were. There are comedians and musicians, for example, who depend on people getting together in one spot in order to make a living. There are also lots of local theaters, restaurants and shops, that are selling gift cards or offering online ordering to try and stay afloat. We encourage you, if you can, to find a few of these types of places where you live; we don’t want to lose them.

I guess that’s about it for now.

Stay safe, seek help if you need it, and give help if you’ve got it.













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