I am down to three weeks, twenty one days, to finalize the text and write captions for the illustrations. This is always the most frustrating, most exciting, most tiring, and most rewarding period in the process of transforming an idea into a book. 
The editors have examined the text with a magnifying glass looking for grammatical mistakes, inserted questions pertaining to something written, and made notes requesting clarification or more information. My job is to address each of these issues as well as fix small problems created when the editor removed something that didn’t seem relevant or important.

The end is in sight. 

The rough edit of the text is often received about the same time as the approved illustration list. For this project I submitted almost two thousand images, about 1,250 were selected. When the book is published about one thousand of them will be included. 
The general rule of thumb is thirty or forty days to complete this segment of the project. As I have a full time job that supports the writing habit, this means there will be a month of long nights, full weekends, and early mornings. 
Still, I find this portion of the project to be one of the most exhilarating. Even though it is still disjointed, and a bit rough around the edges, I can envision the final project with clarity. 
A comparative analogy would be home construction. The foundation is laid, the walls up, and the roof is on. There is still a great deal of work to be done but now the end is in sight and you can see what the end result will be. 
As my goal is to become a writer when I grow up, there is a need to keep the momentum, and royalties, rolling. So, there is an almost never ending need to promote books written, the book about to be published, and to get the next contract. 
So, the month of February looks like this – final edit, captions, day job, the specter of federal jury duty, continuing work on the Route 66 in Mohave County photo exhibit, promoting books written, trying to get the publisher or a publisher interested in the next project, tax preparation, and the all important time to unwind with my best friend, my son, and his family. Grueling is an understatement but I would not have it any other way. 
Among the many frustrations associated with writing is selling an idea to the publisher and keeping the promotional ball rolling. However, these are also fascinating challenges. 
Case in point, Ghost Towns of Route 66. The book is selling quite well, in fact the publisher was slammed with orders and has to rush the next printing. However, these books will not be available until mid March which means cancellation of a couple of engagements including Bookworks in Albuquerque. 
Ghost Towns of the Southwest promotion encountered a similar problem. Now, that book sells in steady numbers but there is still the need to promote
At one point in the very distant past, I tried my hand at selling used cars. I don’t have that “key to success is sincerity and once you can fake that, the rest is easy” attitude so it was a short lived venture. 
The books I write are easy for me to sell, to promote. I believe in them. I would not have written them unless there was a belief that they would add depth and context, that they would inspire and encourage exploration, or that they would be worth the hard earned money people paid for them. 
As it turns out, that is the easy part. Convincing the publisher to sign on to another project is always the most difficult part of the writing process. In your mind it is a project with great merit but they need to see it as something with potential profit. 
Meanwhile, it is time to write some captions. 

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