Is it Final, or Does it Just Appear That Way?

Now and then a well-meaning, experienced publishing-type person has asked me, apropos of  The Final Appearance of America’s Favorite Girl Next Door, ‘Are you wed to the title?’ Or something approximating the same sentiment. (Which seemed to indicate the sentiment that a), It’s so long; or perhaps, b) I don’t get it.)

To which my response has been, Yes. Totally. (With the unstated ‘Can we not talk about this any more?’ implicit in it.)

Yes, it is a long title. But it is the title. It is the only title that would do the novel justice. I tend to refer to it in casual speech as ‘Final Appearance,’ which is more convenient for someone like me who likes to talk at great lengths. Appearance and finality are two huge parts of the novel. I hope the thinking reader will come away from the novel wondering what the final appearance actually is, or if it is any one thing at all. At least in terms of this story, appearance means a whole slew of things — plain old looks, an ‘appearance’ on a tv show, a false front — you (I hope, as a thinking reader) get the point. Continue reading

Let’s say you’re out of your mind…

Let’s say you’re out of your mind, which I just might be, and you want to republish an older novel of your own to which you own the rights. You might take a bandsaw and one of the original hardcovers of your novel, which was published and finished before the advent of digital publishing, cut off the spine, and then run the pages through your scanner, the feeder of which might just break while you’re doing it. Let’s just say that’s what you’re doing. Here are my recommendation:

  • Scan at the highest possible setting — I did it at 600 dpi. Really, less than that should be fine. I just wanted to give the OCR function in Acrobat Pro as much information as possible.
  • Run the OCR function on Acrobat Pro (or the OCR program of your choice)
  • Export to Word or RTF after scanning and recognizing text.
  • Then, whenever you find a nit, such as 1 for I, do a global search and replace but make sure that you look at each one to make sure that it’s what you want to change. Your 1 could be part of that /1 for A ugliness.
  • Run Word’s grammar checker, it will help find stuff.
  • Search 0 for O (zero for O)
  • Quotation marks will be screwed up. Guaranteed. Check each one. Search on ” and ‘ and then make sure they’re correct. I had some that were truly weird. Especially with sentences beginning with “I. And then, go through and make sure that your close-quotes are all correct.
  • Then, if you have a lot of formatting, like I did, with italics, etc., make sure the italics are italics and that stuff that’s supposed to be plain text instead of itals is actually pt.
  • Finally, go through the pdf and the Word/RTF doc side by side on the screen and make sure you’ve got what you’ve think you’ve got. Then, put your Word or RTF file into another font — you’d be surprised at how many things this will help you find. (Blowing it up to 200 percent and marching through it will also help.)
Do not expect this to be a quick job. It took me weeks, but then I only have a couple hours a day to work on this kind of stuff.

Yes, Boys and Girls, It’s Final

The Final Appearance of America’s Favorite Girl Next Door is out on Amazon. Warm up those credit cards and get one for everyone you know.


It’s only available as an ebook. And if you’re not packing Kindle heat, but do have an ereader, it will be available elsewhere soon. Keep checking back here.

Or treat yourself and get a Kindle today. Or tomorrow. Whichever is more convenient.


My First Mac

I have never owned a personal computer that was not a Macintosh. Even though I’d seen other PCs before I saw a Mac, I wasn’t interested in them. I had written two novels on my IBM Selectric III and really felt like it was all I needed. My first wife was in graduate school and she and I were living in Iowa City, and her typewriter broke. We decided to go looking for a new one. This was about 1984, I guess. We looked for a shop that sold typewriters. There was a shift underway that we were only marginally aware of. Writers we knew were switching to computers. I had had a run-in with a computer at Hollins when I was in grad school, and found the barrier to entry of the command line interface too high when all I wanted to do was write. Continue reading

TFAOAFGND Outtakes, part 1

Not everything you write goes into the novel, especially if, like me, you take 10+ years to write a novel. Sometimes you write a scene and then decide that the scene is more efficiently alluded to than actually in the novel. I’m going to post some of the more interesting (in my mind — you may think otherwise) bits and pieces here. So here’s a start…. Continue reading

Just Finished Proofing Final Appearance

It’s a strange thing to read your own novel when it’s about to get kicked out the door. And so it was this last week or so, finishing yesterday, with my ‘final’ reading of THE FINAL APPEARANCE OF AMERICA’S FAVORITE GIRL NEXT DOOR. Found a lot of little nits, so you with the ARCs, lots of little things are changed, so you have yourselves a nice little collector’s item. If you want one, an ARC, contact and she may be kind enough to send one to you.

But back to ‘strange’: Spend 10+ years writing a novel and there are bound to be things you would change. But there’s a certain authenticity to the moment that seems necessary. Currently, the official publication date is December 1. But you may be able to get it earlier. I will update.