Truly Big Trip. Fairly Big News.

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September 24th, 2021

Aloha on a Friday, from Woodbury. I’ve been home from my epic trip to Kauai since late Tuesday after a long overnight flight, but I’m still recovering from it a bit in terms of jet lag and sleep patterns. Because I’m old and obstinate and can’t seem to get over my chronic insomnia. When it’s really important for me to sleep through the night, like on a red-eye flight, I sit there awake and have no chance. Even after I got home, I had another totally sleepless night, but finally got some good “nap time” the next day. I’m getting there.

How old am I getting to be? Just this week the Minnesota Wild hockey team finally signed their absolutely thrilling and uber-talented rookie Kirill Kaprisov to a multi-year deal. His first name is pronounced “Ka-RILL” so hence the nickname Kirill The Thrill. He has a very good chance of being a legit superstar in the NHL.

The Wild wanted to lock him up long-term, like 8 to 10 years. The Thrill’s agent wanted a much shorter contract, to give the kid the flexibility to become a free agent earlier. They wanted 3 years. In the end, they met in the middle at 5 years. So, when Kaprisov’s contract is up, I’ll be 70. That, as we say, was a wake-up call. Never in my life have I even so much as thought about being 70. It seems bizarre beyond my comprehension, but time does march on so I better keep taking care of myself.

On Kauai, I managed to do that. Long walks nearly every day, averaging about 8,000 steps but clearing 10,000 a couple of times. I can’t say I ate totally healthy, but I steered clear of the worst fattening stuff pretty well. When you eat out for every meal, over the course of three and a half weeks, you either have to get a lot of exercise or be pretty particular about what you order. I think I was mostly both.

The aptly named “Sam’s Ocean View” restaurant. Amazing.

On my last night on the island, my travel schedule overlapped with Mary and Lonnie’s by six hours, so we were able to go out to eat before they took me to the airport. We went to a wonderful place called Sam’s Ocean View, one of the most popular spots on Kauai and for good reason. Fabulous food and priceless views. Plus, Mary and Lon are very good friends with Sam herself, and always get the VIP treatment from her and her staff. They were jammed, but made room for us. My salmon cakes were to die for. Absolutely perfect. It was a great way to end the trip.

During my stay, Maxie was his normal rambunctious and loving self. Sometimes he gets absolutely manic about getting belly rubs, but he was never far from me and a truly great cat. A real gem of friendliness.

Biscuit has always been a lot more reserved and skittish. The first time I stayed at the condo to take care of things, I was worried Biscuit had gotten away because I never saw him for the first three days, and it’s a small condo. Finally, on the fourth night, I was on the sofa and saw him walk through the room to get to the food dish. We never interacted the entire time, during that first trip.

My buddy Biscuit. This is how a cat shows they trust you.

This time, Biscuit warmed right up to me and by the third or fourth day we were great friends. He’s really a sweet cat, and absolutely handsome, with beautiful markings. We were close buddies the whole time I was there.

So, yes the trip was fantastic. I’d do it again next year for sure. The travel is a little tough, but it’s very much worth it and by now I’ve learned my way around the island pretty much like a local. It feels like a second home, and it’s a great one to have.

And the good news here at home is that Buster and Boofus really didn’t give me much grief for being gone almost a month. It was clear they really missed me, and both of them have been love bugs since I got back. Life is good.

And now for some other news.

As you probably recall, I finished initial writing on “How Far?” on July 4, and promptly ended up in the hospital just a few days later. Clearly, the stress had taken a toll on me.

The stress of a tough Covid-impacted economy was taking a toll on my publisher as well. This was a big project for him to bite off during challenging times, and book sales have not been great lately. For two months, after I finished the initial manuscript, not much happened. We were at a standstill. It was frustrating to me, and I’m sure it was just as tough on the publisher.

Finally, while I was on the island, I made a big decision. I needed to take full control of the project and be the quarterback to put it in the end zone. It was a very difficult decision to make, and I’d grown to like the publisher very much, but the worry that we were never going to get there built up in me by the day. It was something I felt I had to do. Yes, I’m a worrier. I’ll admit that.

So, now I’m back with my hands on it everyday.

To get us there, I “got the band back together” as soon as the publisher and I agreed on the path forward. Elon Werner will again be my ace publicity and PR guy, helping me sell this thing once it’s out by getting me on as many high-profile shows and in print everywhere he can. And he can. He’s the best.

Todd Myers, another great friend from the NHRA world of PR who did the graphics on “Bats, Balls, & Burnouts” will be the graphic artist and in charge of the covers, both front and back. He’s really creative and I had to come to grips with the concept of “thinking outside the box” when it comes to the design. Since Day 1 I’d been locked in on an image of the front cover that was very literal. My two characters, in full uniform, looking off into the distance. The author who is that much of a micromanager needs to learn to delegate. My job was to write. Todd is in charge of finding the final concept and making it come to life.

I also added a new member to the band. We’re still grooming and tightening, and I’ve enlisted the help of a great friend, Terry Blake, to assist as another set of eyes. My editor Greg and I were so close to the book, so deeply into it, we got to that point of not seeing a few things that could be altered. I go blind to those things fairly easily. Terry has done this stuff for a living, as a highly respected corporate communications guy, and his input is great.

Greg Halling has been my mentor and style editor for two books now, and without him neither one of them would ever have seen the light of day. He’s brilliant and he knows me. He knows what I’m trying to do and he knows how I’m trying to get there. He guided me through this whole book and always had incredible insights and thoughts. I’m a much better writer because of Greg. I can’t thank him enough and I respect him so much.

What does this all mean?

Well, it means Barbara and I are taking this on as our project and will make it happen. I will almost certainly go back to Outskirts Press to publish it, and it won’t be cheap, but it will be mine and they do a great job of getting into as many sales channels as possible. Their good to work with and I was really happy with how we collaborated on the first book.

My wife is the greatest, and she’s in love with this project. I think she’s in love with me, too. She gave me a resounding green light to go for it. It was basically almost an instruction to do it this way.

So the full band is back together.

I have made the request to remain the lead singer. That is what we call a mixed metaphor. I’m the quarterback getting the book into the end zone and I’m the lead singer. Got that? To get to this point, I called an audible and changed the play while I was on the island.

We’ll get this done. We’ll make it sing. We’ll have a book and “the band” will be working on it as a unit to get us there.

It was a huge decision, but it’s the right one. We won’t make any money on this book. It will almost certainly cost more to produce than we can make in royalties, but maybe all of you can spread the word once it’s out. Your reviews on Amazon will be greatly appreciated.

No Kickstarter or other crowd-funding for this one. We did that once and it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced, but I’m absolutely not going back to that incredibly generous well again. This one is on us.

When will it be out? Well, we still have some work to do to finalize the look and Todd has the big challenge of giving us a cover. He’s currently reading the manuscript to get a firm idea of what the book is about and who the characters are. So I don’t know. I’ve stopped worrying about it making Christmas. It will be out when it’s out.

Barbara is also convinced we have a screenplay on our hands. Not a major Hollywood movie, but maybe a mini-series on one of the new streaming networks that are so popular. If we can make that happen some day, we might even make our money back.

But the money isn’t the reason for this. Whatever it costs, it costs. Getting this book into people’s hands is what matters. That’s the reason.

I’ll tell you this: The more I go back over it and I soak it in, the prouder I am of it. I think it’s the best writing I’ve ever done. I can thank Greg for that. And I’m proud of myself for being able to learn new tricks as an old dog. I got better. I got sharper. I got way more creative in a book that had a concept which demanded I got far outside my comfort zone.

We’ll get it done. The band will make great music as a tight unit.

When we’re done, I hope you like it. How far did I grow writing this book? All the way to where it is.

Time for a nap. I’m still blaming the jet lag.

If you liked what you just read, please click on the “Like” button here at the bottom. And hopefully be ready to like “How Far?” as well.

Thank you, everyone. This should be worth the wait.