Monday
Dec152014

MAGAZINE AND NEWSPAPER WRITING TURNS TO LOTS OF TOMES

Yep, those were the days!

Note:     I’ve been avoiding commenting on the political scene – at least on this website – because unless I’ve misjudged you, I’d be preaching to the choir.                          

  These days it doesn’t seem to matter which way our elected representatives in Washington are leaning because they all appear to bend toward stupidity.  The only person that could be comfortable with this crew would be the fictional character of Alice after she disappears down the rabbit hole; silly twaddle and not a thought amongst these people as to what common sense dictates as responsible resolutions to strengthen and improve this country.  They might see things differently if they had to live by their own rules.

Having a lot of respect for anyone who chooses law enforcement as a career, I’m getting annoyed at all the demonstrations, marches and most of all the destruction of neighborhoods over alleged police brutality.  Yes, I agree that there are some cops that are hot-heads, prejudiced and downright working in the wrong profession but, there are so many others who start their shifts with the resolution to serve and protect those people under their watch and they do so admirably.  Sure, there needs to be improvement in some areas and stronger guidelines set in others, maybe a culling of certain personal, but let these protesters remember that when they find themselves in a bad situation, who are they going to call?

By the way, if a large, militant group of radicals destroy my community, kill thousands of my fellow citizens and we are fearful for what they have planned to do next, you better believe I want my government to do whatever it takes to gather information from our enemies.  What we do to them is nowhere close to what they want to do to us.

OK.  Back to writing.

Having established the Ahern byline in magazines, predominately in the sportingoods/firearms field, the lure to string more words together loomed large on the horizon.  Jerry wanted to write a book but he had so many story ideas that he didn’t know where to start.  Being new at the game, Jerry would pick out a dozen or so ideas and send them to a likely publishing house and wait for an editor to call him, asking where to send the money.  It never happened.  We did get quite a few nicely worded rejection form letters though.

Our next plan to get published worked a little better.  We would drive into Athens, which was the closest city that actually had book stores and scour the racks for books that might have a similar bent to what we wanted to sell.  We’d see who published it and go from there.  Jerry had no fear of the telephone and would call publishing houses to see how far up the corporate ladder he could climb and sometimes he hit paydirt.  Once in a while Jerry would end up speaking to the head honcho who in turn, not really knowing anything about our glorious background in nonbook sales would put us through to one of their acquisitions editors.  Usually a book deal didn’t come out of this but Jerry learned a lot about what publishers were looking for a picked up other useful information.

An editor at one of the publishing houses introduced us to one of their prolific writers who told us that the best way to break into the business at that time (1970s and early 80s) was to write porn.  Many of your well respected writers of that era got their start in that genre and continued to write it for the quick money involved.  We thought anything was worth a shot and contacted a publisher our writer friend had suggested.  We received a package soon after with some examples of their best sellers.  We read a few, laughed a lot and realized that there was no way we could do it.  We were probably too young and immature to handle the gasps and groans and prostitution in the Frozen North.

                Some things were a little different back in the 80s.  Manuscripts were written with a typewriter and a copy was made using carbon paper and a sheet of yellow paper.  Mistakes were caught while the sheets were still in the typewriter, hopefully and corrected with correction tape or liquid White Out.  White Out always looked like you had made a mistake and correction tape, if you tried putting the page back in the typewriter, never matched up correctly.  So in either case everyone knew you had screwed up.  We had a manual typewriter and Jerry could type up a storm using just two fingers.  He wrote fast but was not known for his accuracy.  Once we started doing a lot of writing it was decided that an electric typewriter was a necessary expense and along with it a typist who could produce clean manuscripts to send off to publishers.   Laverne and then Dot were angels with fast fingers and good imaginations, deciphering corrections and changes we had written in the margins.

                I think we all have a tendency to take computer technology for granted, I know I do, until I start digging around in a box full of old manuscript pages.  Those were the “good old days.”  Sure!

Sharon

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Reader Comments (2)

Really interesting post Sharon, and coming from law enforcement I know how easy it is for misconceptions to be made about things that members of the public have no idea about. The with holding of relevant information by the bosses certainly help the troops on the ground sometimes though!

Cool to see the pic of the old manuscripts too. Any chance of your Track series (it's always been my favourite) being e-pub'd? It's a cool series but the paperbacks are so hard to find down here in lil ol' NZ.

January 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDave

I meant to say DOESN'T help...sorry :)

January 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDave

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