#114–Feels like I’m writing a book . . .

Last time I felt like this, I was in the middle of writing Crossings. Once again, a book has taken over my life. Every spare moment during the day, I’m working on my Arcadia Press book about the history of Florence. And at night, I dream about it.

I do fit in a few minutes every morning and evening to water, prune, and pick tomatoes from my plants in the greenhouse.

I do fit in a few minutes every morning and evening to water, prune, and pick tomatoes from my plants in the greenhouse.

But I’m making progress. I spent so long in gathering photos, that I had to really jam it to get the writing part done in a reasonable time. By reasonable, I mean that I let the Arcadia Editor know that there was no way I could make the August 27 deadline for Chapters 1–2. It was so frustrating; I didn’t find the last of the photos I needed until August 29. So last Friday, August 30, I wrote the introductions to both chapters.

One of the frustrations of this book, is that it forces you to write short. No extra words, which actually takes longer because you spend half your time checking word count. On the intros, they are to be no more than 350 words each. After much reworking, they both ended up at exactly 350 words.

I spent last Saturday running a couple of errands and writing last week’s blog post. So it was Sunday before I got back to it.

I got out the book planner and figured how many pages for each chapter and laid out the photos for each page of Chapters 1–2. Patrick, my Crossings’ book publisher’s assistant, whom I had hired to help me, had all the photos on various disks or on my thumb drive as well as photocopies numbered in the correct order that I had given him. I also had photocopies numbered the same so that I could write the captions to go with the photos.

When I was doing the layout, I decided to add another photo at the very beginning. It was of an old map of the Florence area that even had some homesteads marked. It was perfect and Patrick had found it. He had already scanned it. Since we were at the beginning of the lay-out process, I renumbered everything to accommodate that first photo.

I had to do some math and use my calculator because each Arcadia Series of America books has to have a total of 128 pages. When I took away the front and back pages, it left 116, which I then divided by 10 (for the 10 chapters) and realized that my first chapter was way too long. Good thing I used a pencil. I had to rework it a couple of times, but I finally got it all planned out––all 128 pages. It took awhile.

Finally, I got started on the captions Sunday afternoon. I got most of Chapter 1 captions done. When I worked at the magazine, captions were no big deal. They complemented the text. But in these books, that are so dependent on photos, the captions are the text.

So the captions have to flow from one to the other in a logical order, yet be able to be read as a stand-alone. They have to be between 50 and 70 words. And what you say has to be detailed not general. So all facts especially names and dates must be accurate.

I had already done some test captions, so I plugged those in. The first thing I noticed was that some of the info I had initially used wasn’t accurate. I hadn’t realized just how much I had soaked up during the past several weeks of researching and looking for photos.

These Scarlett Emperor beans are fairly flat like Italian beans and wonderfully good. Every couple of day, I get this many beans.

These Scarlett Emperor beans are fairly flat like Italian beans and wonderfully good. I check these plants each morning and evening, and every couple of day, I pick this many beans.

I had enough knowledge or knew where to look for most photos, but on a few I had to do more research. Even then I had to bold a few names and dates and added capital X’s where I didn’t know. It was slow going and I had 46 to do in a day and a half. I got 20 done on Sunday, which left 26 for Monday. I was going to bed late and getting up at 5 a.m. I’d do about eight or nine and then take a break for lunch and then another 10 or eleven and then dinner and then the rest before I climbed into bed about 1 a.m. I spent about half my time counting words. Some I reworked a dozen times.

Tuesday I had to get up early to prepare an agenda and updated tally sheet of tables sold and updated budget and the new welcome letter for the newspaper supplement for the Florence Festival of Books meeting that afternoon. Normally, I would do all the preparation the day before.

That afternoon, at the Florence Festival of Books committee meeting, we learned about a stroke of good luck. Every month the PUD electrical bill has an insert about some local event. The group in charge of the insert for this month’s September billing had goofed and didn’t have it ready. As it turned out, in just the past week, we had turned in our insert template with a request to be considered for next August or September. Since we were ready and they needed something now, we got picked for this September. And the group that goofed up has paid for it. How cool is that! Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Those inserts will go to 11,000 homes in the area.

After the meeting, I went over to the museum and went over my two chapter introductions and all 46 captions with Fred Jensen, museum curator, descendant of pioneers, and my friend. He is my go-to guy on all things historic for this area. We spent two hours going over every single word. He found several things that could be explained differently and gave me the correct info to fill in the X’s and bolded words. That night I put in those changes.

The next day I had to get up early to prepare a presentation for the Kiwanis club that always meets at noon. The presentation was about the Florence Festival of Books and I had 20 minutes to fill. I planned it out and had all my props—copies of our recent terrific media, a large poster of our event, our T-shirt with logo, and a couple of articles about it that I wanted to read from as well as flyers to pass out. I practiced a couple of times to make sure I didn’t exceed the time limit. I got there in plenty of time and it went well. Then I went to the museum to check out a couple of little pesky details for the captions that Fred wasn’t sure of that I needed to check out.

Since the Friday before, six days I had been going full speed ahead totally focused on task at hand. Wednesday night I had a glass of wine with dinner and all the air went out of my balloon. I totally lost my momentum. After dinner, I didn’t type up minutes from the previous day’s meeting like I had planned.  I just crashed; I went to bed early.

On Thursday, I was back in the groove and got up early and went over captions one more time. Then I met Patrick at 10:30 a.m. He popped up the early map and got it ready. Then he renumbered and checked the parameters of each photo. We went through all 46 photos and matched them up to the captions, and we were missing two photos. Since Patrick had to run an errand, I dashed over to the museum and after searching three files found the original photo of one that was missing. Then I dashed home to find the other one in a file of photos from Ron Hogeland. I got back and Patrick scanned the photos and gave them their proper numbers. Now we had all the photos ready. We put them on my thumb drive and transferred them to my laptop and put them in a folder in a Dropbox file that can be accessed by Arcadia. Whew!

That evening I went over the captions one more time and sent them off to Arcadia Press and told my editor there that the photos had already been put where she could access them. The deadline had been nine days earlier, but this deadline could be moved. The future ones cannot.

These bush beans are like the typical Blue Lake variety. I get this many every couple of days.

These bush beans are like the typical Blue Lake variety. I get this many every couple of days.

The next deadline was September 10 for the cover. Since Patrick would be gone the 9th and 10th and not working on the weekend, that meant the next day, Friday. So I got up early and went through a disk, leftover from when I was working on Crossings, of 100 or so photos of the construction of the Siuslaw River Bridge here in Florence. I found a few that could be possibilities for a cover. So I jotted down their numbers, so Patrick could access them quickly.

When I got to the office, he checked out each one. We deleted a couple and then he formatted the photos to meet the Arcadia cover parameters––300 dpi at 12 inches high and no photoshop tinkering. We also included four shots that I had put aside as photo possibilities during these past few weeks. So Patrick found those and redid to cover parameters. We then put all seven on the thumb drive and put on my laptop and in the Dropbox folder. I said my goodbyes and packed up and left. It would be a couple of weeks before I saw him again.

I went to the museum to return some photos. As I was talking to Adele O’Boyle the librarian in the research library, I was twirling around a carrousel of large photos and noticed one that was exactly what I had been looking for as a cover. I couldn’t believe it. Why hadn’t I seen it before? It was not only better subject matter wise, but a sharper, crisper image. I pulled it out of the carrousel and ran a photocopy for Adele and dashed out the door and back to Patrick. He was a bit surprised to see me, but loved the photo and immediately scanned it and adjusted the parameters. I got my thumb drive and laptop back out and we added it to the Dropbox cover folder. Then I said my goodbyes again and left. I returned the photo to its carrousel in the museum.

Of course, we don’t know which photo Arcadia will choose for the cover because that’s their call.  They ask for five to 10 and we sent eight. We’re hoping it will be that last one.

After I got back home, I sent off my back page cover text that I had written weeks ago and told the editor that the cover photos had been put where she could access them. This time we were five days ahead of schedule. I also threw in some arguments for using the photo we like best. We’ll see! It’s out of our hands now!

After dinner I finally got my minutes typed up from the FFOB meeting on Tuesday and emailed to committee members. And this morning, I got two different news releases about the FFOB written and sent out—one to the local newspaper and radio station and the other to Lindsey at the Florence Events Center who will send it in a blast to media all over Oregon.

At the moment, I’m caught up with both the FFOB and the book. It’s a crazy busy time, but I feel really good about both.  And now that the frantic hunt for photos has eased, it finally feels like I’m writing a book.

The only thing I have pictures of are my fabulous tomatoes from my greenhouse and my fabulous beans. It’s sort of a given right now that beans and tomatoes are a part of dinner each night. I’m not complaining!

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About crossingsauthor

Freelance writer/editor and author of Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges, The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans, and Around Florence. Spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.
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4 Responses to #114–Feels like I’m writing a book . . .

  1. Evelyn says:

    I’m tired just READING about your life right now. So…when this book’s done, what’ll be the subject of the next one? (Lovely tomatoes & beans; I’m enjoying mine, too.)

  2. Donald Meyer says:

    I was going to ask what you do in your spare time, but it’s perfectly obvious. You eat and crash.

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