What’s a book launch without books?

So I’m having this little book party tomorrow — Sunday, Nov. 16 — and you are all invited! This is something I’d normally be quite pumped about, as they used to say, or psyched, as they used to say, or stoked as … well, you get the point.

So I’m having this little book party tomorrow — Sunday, Nov. 16 — and you are all invited!

This is something I’d normally be quite pumped about, as they used to say, or psyched, as they used to say, or stoked as … well, you get the point.

Thing is, this little book party, which is at Fratters Speakeasy downtown and is at 6 p.m., might not be so much of a “book” party as, say, an IOU party.

You see, as of this writing (Thursday) my book order is, shall we say, not quite as complete as I’d like it to be. In other words, there is absolutely no sign of any boxes of books, mine or otherwise anywhere near where I am.

In fact, I just found out that they haven’t technically been successfully printed yet. Which is a bit of a problem. …

Let me back up a smidgen. I’ve been working on assembling my third book of Red Deer Advocate columns since early last spring. Choosing the so-called “best” (yeah, right) of the Saturday Hay’s Daze columns that have appeared in the Advocate since the other two collections of columns were published (Hay’s Daze 2010 and Hay’s Daze Too 2012).

This means slogging through really a lot of words, a whole bunch of sentences and many paragraphs that I had filed away during the years 2011-2013. This is a lot of slogging, I can assure you, especially when the writer you are dealing with is such a meathead and his articles are often fairly dumb.

But I managed to cleverly circumnavigate that particular problem by enlisting a talented young artist from Edmonton, whom I shall call Malorie (because that’s her name) to not only once again design the cover of this book like she did for my Christmas book last year, but to also contribute a bunch of cartoon sketches for each of the chapter headings. This certainly serves to elevate the artistic net worth of the book significantly.

I should tell you that the new book is called I Seem To Have Misplaced My Marbles, which is not only a true statement (in more ways than one) but is also one of the columns included in the book.

So Malorie, being a highly educated, experienced and surprisingly versatile artist, checked out some old photographs of what Yours Truly looked like back in the skinny hippie days and using the “marble” theme, made me look appropriately ridiculous in cartoon form. Which is basically how I live my life.

In fact, my Rotten Kid, the son one, is always saying that his old man’s life is “one big cartoon.” Or he calls me a “Muppet.” I kind of like both descriptions.

But as someone once said: “Some people never grow up; they just learn how to act in public.” But I digress.

So anyway, the summer launch target of completing and printing the book by June came and went as fast as you can say “What — you mean it isn’t 1979 anymore?”

After proof reading every … single … one … of the many words in the book approximately 200 times to check for errant commas, weird spelling and whether some of the sentences actually make sense or not, I finally email the whole kit and caboodle to someone I’ll call Iryna (because that’s her name) in Victoria, B.C., who designs, formats, paginates and performs voodoo on your cyber-digital book for printing on actual pages.

It’s already September. Deadline is looming, and so is that migraine.

Iryna sends back a zillion book files for approval. Lots of changes of course — mostly mistakes I had made and hadn’t noticed during my previous 200 proof readings. So I proof read the new files another 100 or so more times and send back the book through the interweb ether. Fingers crossed.

Ooops, I haven’t added the cover design file thingy yet. Or the cartoon sketches yet. And at this point, I haven’t found my brain either.

There’s a little framed picture on my office wall. It has a symbol of a person and it says underneath: “I can’t brain today. I have the dumb.” This is very fitting and very typical for Yours Truly. But I digress.

September somehow comes and goes, and with the book party launch thingy is mid-November, it is with trembling hands and a mild case of dysrhythmia that I finally receive one “proof” copy of I Seem To Have Misplaced My Marbles in the mail. This is truly an exciting moment that I have been lucky enough to experience five times. This time, however, it is all short lived on account of it’s now well into October and there are some glaring problems with the proof copy.

Murphy, the guy who made up Murphy’s Law — if anything can go wrong at the worst possible time, it certainly will — must have been thinking of the book business.

Again, time passes quickly as it is wont to do and suddenly in the midst of several other busy projects, last weekend arrived and I suddenly smacked my own forehead with the palm of my own hand (no wonder I always have a headache) and said right out loud: “OMG, the book launch thingy is next weekend already!”

It was then that I realized that I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of my new books.

So, many phone calls, emails, texts, letters, Twitters, telegrams, Instagrams and angiograms later, it’s already the end of the week and yes there has been a mix-up in the printing but very very sorry Harley but I’m pretty sure if you pay to fly your books special delivery by extremely expensive airplane overnight delivery, there’s a “really good chance” you’ll have your new books by the time the book party starts. …

So if you happen to drop by tomorrow and happen to want a fresh copy of I Seem To Have Misplaced My Marbles, which would make a great Christmas present for someone you don’t particularly like, I may have to sign an IOU instead.

If I can get some printed in time.

Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.

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