The horse I rode in on

My Equine friend and I, Ireland, 2018

Well blog friends, it’s been quite some time since I’ve added an entry here. Since April of 2019, I believe. 2019 was an immensely busy year for me, packed with work work, more work around my home, personal projects, and a fair amount of travel for work. The stories to tell are great, from vacationing for 10 days in Cape May in August, working for three weeks selling the art of drummer Rick Allen in a venue at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas during Def Leppard’s residency there, to a week working on the KISS Kruise with Paul Stanley and his art work. And in between and after that was overseeing numerous art shows in suburban Philly, Florida, and more.

In my downtime, when I managed to find some, I spent considerable time proofing and editing my forthcoming book, a memoir inspired by the life of Mark Twain. But on top of all that, I went into the final stretch of a two year revision project of my first book, Masters Among Us . If you decide to check it out, make sure you pick the one with this cover.

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Masters Among Us was the authorial horse I rode in on, saddling me into the world of writing and self publishing 20 years ago. Back then, self publishing was still a risky venture and equated with vanity publishing. After then sending out numerous query letters and receiving countless rejection letters, I took it on to launch the book independently through the Canadian based publisher Trafford in 2000. The experience opened the door to learning a bit about book publishing, and my acquired savvy guided me through the process again with a 2004 revision through 1stBooks.

For the past several years I endeavored to pursue the traditional publishing route again by sending out countless queries for my new Twain manuscript. After a thrilling moment when I received an email from one publisher who had fully read and agreed to produce my manuscript, in a matter of weeks I was informed in a follow-up email that the publisher had changed their mind. They explained that it wasn’t because they didn’t enjoy the book’s content they had so enthusiastically embraced the first time, but instead it was because I didn’t have an established, expansive enough social media following.

Imagine my disappointment. After wallowing in self pity for a day, I refused to be deterred and began to investigate alternative avenues. This time around, I learned a great deal about how the publishing industry had changed in 20 years. The stigma associated with self-publishing had long withered, and most of the articles I took the time to read revealed that now it was essentially the only way to go. That was an eye opener. I concluded that the only way to defeat the publishing industry Goliath at its own game was to create my own publishing company and jockey into position Trojan Horse style. This notion came somewhat easy for me from having researched the entire life of Mark Twain, through which I had already learned of his own self-created publishing firm. I opened that door inspired, filed my LLC docs with the state, designed my own logo (since I’ve also been the creative director of my free lance design studio for 40 years), and launched my own press.

Egged on with Mark Twain as my muse, the experience was quite empowering and liberating. It fueled my determination to complete the projects while experimenting with an endless catalog of software, templates, tutorials, etc. Yet, this came naturally for me. I had been trained in desktop publishing in 1989-91 at what is now Berkeley College. Graphic Interface was in its infancy then as I cut my teeth on the now prehistoric Macintosh II and LC platforms.

In 1990, the LC was the most coveted computer in publishing class, prompting my classmates and I to arrive early in an endeavor to nab it first. There were only a two or three new LC’s in a computer lab dominated by Mac II’s.

Though I’ve since used numerous platforms and programs for catalog and pre-print design for employers through the years, I found myself in comfortable territory, but, admittedly, the advances in graphic technology proved to be daunting. So, again I mounted my horse sporting Quixotic armor and lance of determination, and galloped head on into uncharted publishing territory.

Each morning for months in 20 minute to 2 hour sessions of editing, composing, trialing software and honing each letter, conjunction and jpeg with focused precision, the result is that Masters Among Us is once again available in print worldwide, and, for the first time ever, as an ebook.

I have to give kudos to two people for this endeavor. It was my friend Jen, director of the wonderful Project Resiliency, who first enthusiastically suggested resurrecting ‘Masters’ as an ebook during a dinner conversation in March of 2018. I was open to the notion since pulling it off the market in 2006, when one of the individuals and key subjects I had previously researched for the 2004 revision, the spiritual teacher Sri Bhagavan, had then relayed through one of my interview contacts that the published revision wasn’t finished. I couldn’t figure it out for years. So, because of Jen’s prompting, after 14 years I again reached out to Sri Bhagavan through his network of affiliates in the US. What occurred afterward is a long story, but my interaction with this saintly man led me to an aha moment, and frankly, THAT became the missing story. And so, I’m happy to say that the new, 2020 revised edition includes that missing material in two new added chapters.

Were it not for Jen and Sri Bhagavan, I’m not sure the book would be available at this time. To the both of them, I extend my thanks and gratitude.

So now, with a gentle tug on my horse’s reigns, I turn my attention again to the Twain-themed manuscript on which I’ve worked since 2017. I hope to have it published and available later this year. In the meantime, I’ll mosey along with more blog entries. Until we meet again, Happy Trails to you!

Horse trekking on the beach, Ireland, 2018.

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