May 2020 newsletter: Publishing Dad’s Book not my Biggest Nightmare

“It’s me, your biggest nightmare.”

That’s how my dad opened our latest conversation.

We’ve been talking a lot on the phone and via email lately, partly due to the fact that he and mom are stuck in their house with the coronavirus still wreaking havoc. But also because I’m publishing a book of his memoirs, which I thought would be live by now (the review process is taking longer than expected).

The back-and-forth between publisher and author has been pretty typical for the most part; some of it hasn’t.

“Hey, I forgot this. If it’s not too late and doesn’t cause you any design issues, would you be able to fit it in? It was the coolest thing I ever did, but if you can’t fit it in, that’s fine.”

“Do you want the insides to be color or black and white? Color will cost you more.” 

“I have another correction, I thought we’d fixed this last time, but maybe you forgot to do it.”

“Do you want to make this available for Kindle, too? Formatting for Kindle is kind of a pain, especially with photos. I guess I could do it, but I may need to watch some tutorials or take some classes.”

“I’m giving you an opportunity to learn how to do this, so you can do it right for someone else.”

“I accidentally sent page spreads to the printer instead of single pages. They think your book is half as long as it really is, they don’t have any of the odd-numbered pages, and it will cost you more for your copies than I told you. We could sell an even-numbered book and an odd-numbered book as a set. People would have to put them together. That would be unique.”

“Your mother and I have both read this, and the part about our fish group isn’t in there anymore. Maybe you accidentally deleted it.”

“It’s on Page 59, third item from the bottom.”

“Oh, so it is. Hmm… wonder how we missed that.”

“I’ll send the files to the printer again. Usually, it takes 12-24 hours to approve, but the way things have been going, I wouldn’t be surprised if it took 12-24 days.”

Some of these quotes may or may not have been slightly embellished. But they’re all based on actual events.

Raymond J. Hoffman’s debut book is called “The Tales of Hoffman(n): Memories, Essays and More Covering World War II all the Way to Coronavirus.” The “(n)” part alludes to his birth name being spelled “Hoffmann,” but later changed to “Hoffman.” It was an Air Force thing; you’ll have to read the book to discover the unsavory details.

Many of the stories Dad tells about growing up in small-town Wisconsin during World War II and the post-war years I’ve heard before. But some were new, as were some of the photos he sent to include in the manuscript. He’s got a way of telling stories where his humor comes through, but he also throws in a bit to make you think about the serious sides of things, too.

Dad’s got a section on his time in the military, which included serving as a model for an Air Force brochure and intercepting Russian messages while stationed in Scotland. And there’s plenty more about his views on, and experiences in, civilian life ― marriage, fatherhood, grandfatherhood (I think I just made that word up), a 33-year teaching career, and retirement. If you want to see how one man negotiates aging with as much grace and humor as possible, read this book.

I’d post the link, but there isn’t one quite yet. Search on Amazon by title and author and it’ll come up. It BETTER come up. SOON!

This is the second book I published under the 18% Gray Publishing arm of my extensive creative palette. The first one, “Shut Up and Listen: Me vs. Me: Confessions of a Bipolar Rock and Roller,” came out at the end of March. See more about that book here.

Dad’s was the first book I published using my new desktop publishing software. I purchased Affinity publishing, design and photo programs all at half-price not long ago and am Affinity Tutorialsslowly going through the tutorials, so I’ll be able to design cool stuff really fast. Affinity is a lot like InDesign, which I used at my day job for over a decade. I still catch myself trying to employ InDesign keyboard shortcuts while using Affinity, but hardly any of them are the same. It’ll come.

I’ve also written two books, but you’re probably tired of hearing about those. Here are links to them, though, in case you’re not tired of my droning on about them. Link to the first book is here. Link to the second book is here.

Oh, and I’ll probably be buying a publishing company soon. I’ll let you know the details later.

In other news:


This whole Covid-19 thing is making things weird. Lots of video chats, washing groceries, wearing masks (not superhero masks, which would be cool),

My wife and I did a presentation called “Authors Adjusting to Life’s Curve Balls” via video chat with a local Kiwanis Club, whose members were all at home, too. I messed up the Share Screen thing, so I had to paint my visuals with my awesome words. My wife put her visuals into a PowerPoint, and it was spectacular. I want to be spectacular someday.

I also employed the video chat thing when I conducted mock interviews with Franklin (Ind.) College students. I’ve done these interviews several times face to face, allowing students a chance to undergo a simulated job interview, so they can refine their efforts for the real ones later. I chatted with four people looking to get into sports journalism, which is where my professional career started.

Other creative outlets

In the meantime, I’ve been editing my wife’s next children’s book, which will be the second in a series on two squirrels who visit iconic stuff in Columbus, Indiana. This one is about the city’s art; the first was about architecture. I forgot what the third one is supposed to be about; perhaps I can suggest pizza and beer hangouts. Oh, right, the tiny tots. Never mind.

I assume I’ll get back to writing my novel set in Ireland at some point. But the opportunity to publish other people’s books kind of fell into my lap (I’m glad I was sitting down; you don’t have a lap when you stand, so nothing can fall into it). Poor JP, he’s going to be sitting at The Spanish Sailor, a Dublin pub I made up, nursing his Guinness for weeks. Don’t worry, pal, I’ll get you a fresh one before too long.

A man of leisure

One cannot simply write, edit, design, publish and video chat 24/7. Of course, there is the obligatory sleep and food consumption. But beyond that, there must be something more to life, ain’t there?KimsConvenience

Indeed, there is. One of the things is the binge watching, which sounds like sitting there on the couch all day, eating popcorn and ice cream and watching television. But no, it’s a show or two a night (not even that much sometimes) that has lately consisted of “Kim’s Convenience” and “Good Girls Revolt” episodes. The former is a sitcom about a Korean family that runs a convenience store in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The latter is a drama about female employees at a news magazine seeking equality in the workplace in the late 1960s. Both excellent shows.

But lest you think I lollygag all the time, I shall mention the vigorous activity I have engaged in. One of my fitness goals has been to walk a minimum of 8,000 steps each and every day of 2020. Of course, I had to pick Leap Year to do this. Three hundred and sixty-six days!

I’ve also gotten the old bicycle out again and have worked myself up to a 19.05- or 19.65-Bike_memile ride. The phone app and the bicycle odometer disagree. But since the odometer was calibrated for my wheel circumference, I’m going with that. Plus, 19.65 sounds more impressive. And, lads, there were hills, some with a steep grade. And did I mention wind? No? Well, there was a bit of the winds. So, I think this ride should count for 20 miles.

Ailment of the Month

It’s early spring, so I get the drainage in the throat and the lungs. So, I take the pills. And no, it’s not the Rona. Cause it’s the drainage. Which happens every year. And there are no Rona symptoms. Speaking of Rona, remember Rona Barrett, Hollywood gossip reporter type person? Wasn’t she just the cat’s meow?

In Conclusion

So, now we look to May, which once again has very few items listed on the calendar. And a couple of the things that are there might end up being canceled or put on video chat. Hopefully, by the time the next newsletter comes along, I’ll have news on the publishing venture and a link to Dad’s book (just checked again ―Paperback In Review ― argh). The stuff of nightmares!

Good day.



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