Thursday, November 01, 2007

Music columns evolve into book

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Steve's shameless self- promotion


An old adage claims everyone has a book in them.

When I started writing a weekly column for the "That's Entertainment" section of the Daily Press on July 28, 2005, I thought I had a few installments in me, after all I had an interest in music and writing dating from my teenage years.

My first column explained to readers how the local Woodtick Festival had grown from a party in Brian Whitens' garage in 1994 to a regional event headlined by the Nitty Gritty Band just eleven years later.

As I began looking for story ideas, I soon found the Upper Peninsula had an incredible music heritage. But, regrettably, that rich tradition wasn't being documented. While a mere newspaper column couldn't remedy that neglect, I thought it could be a beginning.

So, I tried to give the stories a U. P. slant, whether I took a nostalgic look at Michigan's stars, local musicians or beloved international rock legends.

Taking a scatter shot approach, I wrote about which ever topic most interested me at the time. It might be Duke Ellington's 1959 trip to Marquette one week, a 1968 Battle of the Bands contest in Escanaba the next, or going backstage at a Steppenwolf concert, the following week.

Readers were quite receptive to the columns I presented and talked about them long after the newsprint they were printed on had yellowed. So to keep the stories available I started a website,

Since the beginning I have received supportive comments and emails virtually every week. And, for well over a year now, people have also asked me to put my columns into a book. I finally began to take them seriously.

Thinking about all the fine people I've written about and all the folks who spent their precious time reading what I'd written, I decided over the Memorial Day weekend to enter the world of self-publishing.

In June, I asked my niece Jackie Hughes, with her considerable computer skills, to help me assemble a book. Not wanting to disappoint anyone if we decided to abandon the project, and to avoid having to update everyone about the book's progress, I swore Jackie to secrecy. We referred to it covertly as "the project."

Each Monday we spent four hours at the computer doing the drudgery required to ready a manuscript for printing. Our routine was occasionally broken by a heart-stopping moment.

Once, sparks shot out of the electrical outlet, like it was the Fourth of July. We thought the computer--with my book in it-- was fried, but miraculously, it wasn't harmed.

Another time, just hours before we were to submit the book electronically, the computer screen suddenly went blank. We thought disaster was stalking us, but luckily Jackie was able retrieve the pages from the realm of cyberspace.

As the summer disappeared, we emerged from our basement work station with a 300-page volume containing over 90 stories and dozens of photographs. Most of my columns up to that time were included. Like my website, the book was titled "Rock 'n' Roll Graffiti."

With two key strokes, the manuscript and cover were dispatched to Collierville, Tenn. where, in a few weeks, it was printed by, the short-run publishing division of Funcraft Publishing Co.

Then, my wife Sue and I anxiously tracked the shipment from the printing plant to our back door over a three day period. But, when United Parcel Service finally delivered the boxes last week, my mood changed rapidly from excitement to panic. What if the book was defective? What if all our work was for nothing? Signing the UPS log, I was suddenly struck with a migraine headache.

However, when I opened one of the boxes to reveal a book as attractive and professional looking as any other, my headache vanished instantly.

My family and friends were all surprised when I presented them with copies. No one had learned about "Rock 'n' Roll Graffiti" in the four months it had taken to put together.

Now, since I've got a big stack of books to move, I want everybody to know about my "literary work."

If I might be allowed a bit of shameless self-promotion, you can get a copy of "Rock 'n' Roll Graffiti" at The Record Rack, Canterbury Book Store or Sayklly's Confectionery & Gifts, all in downtown Escanaba.

I'm still not sure if everyone has a book in them, but thanks to many helpful people, I discovered I had one in me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The book looks fantastic and will make an excellent Christmas gift for anyone interested in local history or music. I just found your blog with all the columns so I'll wrap up the copy of Rock n Roll Graffiti fresh and new for my soon to be son-in-law. I can read here.
Always enjoy a visit to the Record Rack too.