June 2020 newsletter: A Busy Businessman With His New Pal, Packy

June 2020

For someone who had my entire calendar wiped out by the coronavirus two months ago, I sure have been busy lately.

Author events, craft sales where I can sell books, dentist and hair care appointments bit the dust. Fantasy baseball drafts got postponed. Concerts, plays and comedy shows were all nixed.

All of a sudden, I find myself the owner and creative director of a boutique publishing company, making contract offers, giving advice on manuscripts, trying to get a website working the way it’s supposed to (a rebuild is forthcoming), working on press releases, registering the business in Indiana and all sorts of other stuff a first-time business owner needs to do.

I’ve also been “going to” seminars and meetings and celebrations via Zoom or Skype or whatever. And I’ve been interviewed on podcasts, too. There’s even dental and chiropractic appointments on my calendar now! (There will be masks and temperatures taken and other precautions deemed prudent).

So, let’s break it down now. And by “break it down,” I do not mean enjoy a musical interlude where various instruments might play solos; I mean let’s look into the various things in my life lately because it’s all about me. Well, it is MY website. I will attempt with the most of my ability to make this highly enjoyable for you, the reader.


This is the big one since it changed my life from full-time writer and publisher on the side to full-time publisher and nothing on the side. Well, not for the time being.

It was really cool to see the authors of the first two books I published get all giddy over the final products. “Shut Up and Listen: Me vs. Me – Confessions of a Bipolar Rock and Roller”by Rob McCuen has been out since the end of March.

“The Tales of Hoffman(n): Memoirs, Essays and More Covering World War II All the Way to Coronavirus” is by my dad, Raymond J. Hoffman, and is so incredibly close to being up for sale. It kind of almost sort of is, but not to the public. But it will be any day. And I’ll let you all know when that day comes. Don’t blame me; I don’t make the rules on that book.

Those two books got published under my 18%Gray Publishing banner.

Now, I’m looking forward to publishing books with PathBinder Publishing, which I bought from Heather Hummel Gallagher on May 11. The transition has gone fairly smoothly for the most part, except for a lot of stuff that hasn’t. But I blame myself for some of that and anybody but Heather for the rest. Well, except for the one time we were trading messages back and forth when I was trying like the Dickens to access the email account she’d set up for me only to eventually find out she’d given me the wrong password. Ah, let’s let bygones be bygones I say.

I’m still touching base with all the current authors and others involved in making this business what it has become. I think I’ve at least emailed everyone once or twice; phone calls forthcoming. Some more authors have shown interest in joining our merry band, PathBinder-Logo-Low-Rez-96-dpi-8-x-8-300x300and I’m really hoping to make announcements soon that we’ve signed a few because I absolutely love some of their books that we’re discussing.

Visit us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or the website. We’re everywhere, and we’re going to be building our brand and footprint even bigger real soon.

Professional development

In addition to a few Zoom meetings with Heather, I’ve Zoomed (I’m coining that word if it hasn’t already) a seminar on Businesses Dealing with Covid, Mentoring Across Generations, and How to Zoom. On the horizon are these sessions: Tweet Your Way to Success, as well as social selling on LinkedIn, Twitter and via video content.

I’ve learned a lot already and hope to share some of the insights that have been shared here, there and everywhere.

I was also able to take part in a year-end celebration for Leadership Johnson County, a program that I went through in 2015-16 and for which I have served as co-chair of the class liaison committee. It was strange to do this online instead of face-to-face this year. And since everyone’s mics were muted when I gave my presentation with my fellow co-chair, I’m not sure if they were laughing WITH me or laughing AT me. And yes, they were laughing. I was on stage and I played it up to the hilt.

As an aside, I now know where the term “Frick and Frack” came from. Sure, you can look it up; you know how to internet search.

Photos while I walk

I walk 4 to 5 miles every day. Sometimes even more. Or sometimes, it’s more biking than walking. And occasionally a short jog … don’t want to get run over lollygagging my way across a busy street, do I?

To pass the time on these walks, I will listen to music and/or make photos; professional photographers tell me I’m supposed to say “make” instead of “take.” Some of my recent photos are posted here in this short slideshow.


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Below are some photos of a green and yellow, stuffed border terrier . That‘s my new pal, Packy, and he came here from across the pond to spread awareness of Huntington’s Disease.


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Jackie Harrison, a friend in England who shares an affinity for walking (we both do the 100 Days of Walking Challenge promoted by Irish radio presenter Ciara Kelly), has lost several family members to the disease, an inherited disorder that kills brain cells, slowly progressing with symptoms that seem to mirror many of those in dementia, ALS and Parkinson’s. Here is one newspaper story about her mission.

Jackie was inspired by her border terrier, Sybil. She sews the felt dogs to encourage friends, celebrities, anyone, to photograph themselves with one, just to get people to talk about the disease. She asked if I would like to have one, asked what colors I’d like (Green Bay Packer green and gold) and asked me what I’d like to name my Sybil. I chose “Packy.” So, now Packy comes on walks with me, gets photographed and gets posted to social media sights with the #sybilOnTour hashtag.

Ailment of the Month

OK, I get it. It’s time to stop going up on the roof, even in a noble attempt to clean out the gutters. My SI joints haven’t been the same since. Those are the bony outcroppings to either side of the base of the spine, just above the buttocks. (Some of you are laughing right now. And don’t you feel your shame?)


I’ve had the pleasure of being interviewed twice recently for podcasts.

Scott Stick does a podcast about true crime, and we chatted about that genre as well as doing research and my first book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher.” We had so much to talk about that we decided to save some of our chat for another time. That will be coming up shortly, and when he’s done making me sound good and posts the podcast, I’ll send a link out on all channels of my social media presence.

I’ll do the same when Sadie Chelsea posts her podcast featuring good old me on her Pick 268x0wUp the Pen podcast. Our conversation the last week of May ran the span of my professional career, what I’ve learned along the way, and what advice I can share with others. We talked journalism, writing, publishing, overcoming obstacles and more.

In conclusion

I have to stop now. I have stuff to do for my new business. Check out what we’re doing. And whatever we’re doing, it’ll be bigger and better tomorrow. Or next week. Give us a couple of days at least, OK? Thanks for your cooperation.



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