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View Full Version : Writing a Book, Looking for a Little Help



Steveperrywriter
03-22-2014, 07:41 AM
Um. Eventually, if I get it done, and if I post links and all, this'll have to be stuck into the Shameless Self Promotion section, but maybe not just yet. See what you think:

I'm writing a book -- I'm always writing books -- but in this case, it's about my adventures with the ook thus far. I tend to really get into things when I like them, and while obsession might not be the right word, I have to face it, it's not that far away.

A year ago, I had just gotten my first tenor ukulele and was wondering if it might be Pandora's Box. (Now, I know it is Ö)

I like to read books that are about how and why somebody gets into something, the what happened, and not just the "how to" of it. So I thought I'd write about my experiences, and hope they might resonate enough to entertain readers.

What I've done is post the rough-draft Introduction to the book on my blog, and it would be helpful to me to get comments from folks who share my enjoyment of the jumping flea. I realize an intro is not the whole book, but my question is: Is this enough make you consider reading the rest of it?

At some point, assuming it gets finished, I would ask folks who might be inclined to read the book and offer opinions on what might be done to make it better, cutting this or adding that. Down the road, that.

If I put this title up, it'll be as an ebook, short, and I won't charge enough to make anything on it, it being a labor of love; however, if it gets to that point and you help, I'll offer an acknowledgement for your input up front. And if we ever run into each other, I'll buy you a beer Ö

You can PM me, or comment on the blog, so as not to clog up the works here. Thanks.

http://www.themanwhonevermissed.blogspot.com/2014/03/uke-book-intro.html

nquarrie
03-22-2014, 07:55 AM
A fun read. I want more of it. Is the intro all so far or how to access the rest? I hope you address UAS.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-22-2014, 08:00 AM
You are being modest when you simply say you write books Steve, you are quite an accomplished author with a long list of published books under your belt! This new endeavor or yours is an awesome idea, one that I will happily and eagerly read. Best of luck!

kvehe
03-22-2014, 08:08 AM
Can't wait for the rest!

pixiepurls
03-22-2014, 08:38 AM
Just for reference, I am 35 I thought tiny tim had a cane, I don't remember him having an ukulele, or is this another tiny tim? Is that the comedian guy the with long black hair?

I think depending on what age range you are trying to indemnity with in that intro, you may want to add another reference to the tiny tim one.

I think of Zoe Deschanel or Eddie Vedder but they are both more within my generational block of time :)

Steveperrywriter
03-22-2014, 09:47 AM
Thanks for the kind words and comments, folks, here and in PMs. Already been helpful, and I appreciate it.

mailman
03-22-2014, 11:16 AM
I'd love to read the finished product, based on what I read in the introduction. Sounds like a good read, to me.

Is there any possibility we could talk you out of using the (non)word, "ook"? It's like fingernails on a chalkboard....;)

dickadcock
03-22-2014, 11:25 AM
I am eager to read more.
I wonder. ...perhaps the guy with the knife should have a gig bag on his back?
Oops, sorry... Probably not the right cover picture.:)

DaveY
03-22-2014, 01:17 PM
Stevepw: I would cut all the stuff about Tiny Tim, Third Wave, etc., because it has been written many times already. You always could drop any relevant material in later. What can make your book unique is what you eventually say it will be about: your experiences, your life. If you are writing a (personal) memoir, then why start with an impersonal history? Start with yourself, maybe a scene - an in media res kind of thing. Maybe that scene would be the moment you first played a uke, or bought one, or realized that you were hooked. Writing the impersonal history might have served its purpose in getting you to the real start of your story. Now that it has served its purpose (if you agree with my thoughts, that is), you can put it aside and save it, in case you need it later.

stringy
03-22-2014, 01:26 PM
I totally agree with DaveY. I would drop the Tiny Tim reference.

Also, maybe I am missing something but I don't get the cover.

You are a good writer and I'm sure your book will be interesting. I wouldn't have given an opinion if you hadn't asked. At the end of the day, it is your book and you should follow your heart.

PhilUSAFRet
03-22-2014, 01:46 PM
Stevepw: I would cut all the stuff about Tiny Tim, Third Wave, etc., because it has been written many times already. You always could drop any relevant material in later. What can make your book unique is what you eventually say it will be about: your experiences, your life. If you are writing a (personal) memoir, then why start with an impersonal history? Start with yourself, maybe a scene - an in media res kind of thing. Maybe that scene would be the moment you first played a uke, or bought one, or realized that you were hooked. Writing the impersonal history might have served its purpose in getting you to the real start of your story. Now that it has served its purpose (if you agree with my thoughts, that is), you can put it aside and save it, in case you need it later.

Yeah, I've been told that Tiny Tim's eccentricities were part of his "schtick" and were intentional. He deserves to be remembered however, as one of America's most prolific old-time music archivists. Much would have been lost without him.

Booksniffer
03-30-2014, 12:34 AM
I enjoyed reading that, thank you!
I would love to read the rest of the book as well; I always really enjoy people's stories about their passions (even more so when I share that particular passion).

I don't mind a short intruduction about Tiny Tim etc; I've read the same thing about 4 or 5 times in other ukulele books now, but before I started playing I had never heard of him (I did know George Formby, although I was a bit fuzzy about which instrument he played...).

A few small niggles; the format on the web page was not very reader friendly, a long thin column (with rather a lot going on, visually, next to it) which made reading it a bit tiring - but I assume that will be different in the final book.

Also, I agree, please don't use the word 'ook'.... I kept thinking the Librarian from the Unseen University (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unseen_University) was talking. ;)

Will you let us know when there's more to read?

bakechad
03-30-2014, 02:16 AM
A book like this about the uke would be absolutely great!

One of my all time favorite books is "Piano Lessons" by Noah Adams. A uke book like this would surely be a bestseller!

Macmuse
03-30-2014, 06:50 AM
I enjoyed the intro.

I guess I'm going to have to try to let go of a pet peeve... I wish when people mean something can be affordable they would use (yes, it's a longer word) inexpensive instead of cheap. Yes, it does mean less costly. However, with one of the strong connotations for cheap being "of low quality, shoddy", calling inexpensive, but potentially quite playable, ukuleles "cheap" kind of supports the (wrong) assumption they are toys first, serious instruments only when super pricey.

I don't tend to get bent about grammar and word usage much, but be we seem to be accepting of less & less precision in our language. :(

The Big Kahuna
03-30-2014, 06:57 AM
"Affordable" is actually Latin for "the largest sum of money you can sneak past your wife without her noticing"

NewKid
03-30-2014, 09:17 AM
Hi Steve, I enjoyed your book intro despite the first paragraph where I disagree that the uke is a "guitar-wanna-be". I like your concept for the book and agree with Davey Y's comments as well about skipping the Tiny Tim and Third Wave history upfront and moving your personal story to the top.

I started playing two years ago after 30 years of guitar. My ukulele playing has advanced to the point (thanks to Lyle Ritz and Jim Beloff music books) where its sometimes boring for me to play the two-chord and three-chord songs favored by my regular uke group. However, I always remind myself that being part of this great ukulele community is really what its all about for me. The guitar playing was mainly in my room and never with other people. With the ukulele, I'm meeting regularly with friends, travelling to festivals with them, playing charity gigs, inviting new people to play, and generally enjoying a richer life.

I would love to contribute to your book if I can. Best of luck!

Steveperrywriter
03-30-2014, 03:55 PM
Thanks, folks.

Some of what I'm doing is tongue-in-cheek, I know the uke isn't a guitar-wanna be, and Tiny Tim is a big deal only to folks my age. "Cheap" and "inexpensive," I'm good with my usage in this case. "Cheap" originally meant "bargain," and the primary definition now is "low cost," so it doesn't automatically mean an insult.

actadh
03-30-2014, 04:22 PM
I agree with many that the introduction doesn't add much to your narrative, which would be my primary interest in your book. If you do include it, please consider using citations or footnotes to show where you got your information.

Steveperrywriter
03-30-2014, 04:54 PM
I don't expect the tone of this one is sufficient to merit citations or footnotes ...

Newportlocal
03-30-2014, 06:07 PM
Enjoyable intro. Looking forward to seeing more.

Hippie Dribble
03-30-2014, 06:13 PM
"Affordable" is actually Latin for "the largest sum of money you can sneak past your wife without her noticing"

BWHA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAA!!!!!! :biglaugh:

"Inaffordable" must be what you couldn't sneak past your ex-wife then....

Hippie Dribble
03-30-2014, 06:26 PM
Nice start Steve.

S'pose you need to get that kinda stuff out of the way early, in order to frame the discussion and memoir to follow, but really, as others have said, what you've opened with does sound like the intro's of a number of other uke books, so perhaps worth a rethink.

Couple of grammatical errors if I was being picky.

On the whole though, excited for you and I am certainly be looking forward to getting into the guts of your idle thoughts, experiences, observations and motivations. I feel like you have some funny anecdotes in you! You sure seem to be quite prolific and some of those other titles in your back catalogue are VERY interesting to say the least!

Cheers mate and all the very best with it.

artwombat
03-30-2014, 08:07 PM
G'day from Oz (Australia)

Congratz on writing all those books.

I have written a couple but not full length books I did Freelance Journalism for something to do but never worked as one and writing books is a huge amount of work and I guess I am too lazy. You are on the right track seeking comment in here but the problem is everyone is too polite and that is not helpful.

If it is any help, I write the dust-cover first and gauge the interest. (so a lot of my ideas wither on the vine) But writing dust covers is fun and good practice for writing without repetition and padding.

It is not easy to write these type of books so that is why you need a different "angle/viewpoint" so the reader with some experience can say, "I never looked at it that way before."

Journalists usually write pieces that can be cropped and fitted into magazines not books. Terry Pratchett is my hero he was a Journo turned Fantasy writer and he is master of the hook (the hook is what makes a book that you can't put down).

Cook-books is the name given to all "how to" books and if Terry Pratchett was writing one he would introduce some great fantasy characters whereas most Journos name drop for source credibility.

My advice is if you are writing for yourself just do it and if you are writing for readers then try writing dust-covers first. Writing the dust-cover "plus" is what you would send to a publisher, before you go to the trouble of writing the whole book.

I hope that helps mate.

Steveperrywriter
03-30-2014, 09:36 PM
While I expect that the market for this kind of book is a fairly narrow niche, mostly apt to be ukulele players, there is an off-chance it might attract readers who aren't deeply into the critters. Might draw newbies who haven't read the histories, or even a few of my curious fans. This is why the generic intro. If you've read in the field, there are better books with way more detail, I'm just doing a quick touch-and-go rehash for folks who just got here.

Kind of like those TV voice-over lead-ins: "Previously on Nashville ..."

You speak to a passing parade, and there are always fresh faces coming along who haven't heard any of before. I will list some serious uke books in the thing, but a year and a couple months ago, I hadn't read much of anything about ukuleles, and didn't know what Jake was playing was a tenor, much less the brand and woods in it.

I have been at it for only 14 months, so I still don't have a lot to offer; it's going to be a short book ...

I do appreciate the input, it has already been helpful. Once I get done, I will try to get a few first-readers from among uke players.

I'll be naming chapters, along with the numbering, and here are the first half-dozen working titles. Subject to change, of course:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ...
Toe in the Water
Uh oh, Itís Contagious!
Vegetables or Pie? Philosophy R Me
Musical Interlude, in Theory
Anybody got a Map?

Hippie Dribble
03-30-2014, 09:51 PM
Once I get done, I will try to get a few first-readers from among uke players.


I'll be one of em mate! Think I'd like to read Thong The Barbarian Meets The Cycle Sluts Of Saturn as well LOL

:cheers:

mm stan
03-30-2014, 10:08 PM
Aloha Steve,
Great job....nice read man, your book should be called...the ukulele, the forever happy drug.. :) I too would gladly buy one of your books good luck man
Whatever way it is pronounced or played, the ukulele can be your forever happy drug...happy strummings

bonesigh
03-31-2014, 02:58 PM
Hmm, just my 2 cents. I have not read all the posts here so I may be repeating. I did notice one post that caught my attention. It states that the use of the work "ook" is like fingernails on a chalkboard. I have to agree. It's already called a uke. Why change it. It's cute and it's perfect!

I haven't read any of your other material so I really can't comment on your writing skills but what you have so far seems good. Not terribly entertaining, I was skipping right away but perhaps that is because I already know a bit about uke history and wanted to get to the part where you come in. Wasn't the first Portugal instrument the "Braginho"? Isn't ukulele pronounced oo-koo-lay-lay? Uku means "insect" and lele means "to fly". But hey, I don't know everything (:

I also don't know why people make such a big deal out of Shimabukuro. Okay, yeah, he is a great musician but so are loads of other people that I've heard play uke just as well as him. It's all about timing and who you know when someone becomes famous. Jake doesn't sing and singing is such an integral part of the uke, for me anyway. Campfires, hanging out and singing together, etc. I like artists like James Hill who sing and do other things with his instrument, wonderful things!!

I like stories of how people came to love the uke. Perhaps you could put some of those stories in your book. I think there is a thread here somewhere about that. Anyway, write away, it's your story (: Have fun!

BlueLatitude
04-01-2014, 03:36 AM
I have to agree with others here about the dose of history at the beginning. Those who are already interested probably know it, and those who are coming to it fresh would probably find it a little TMI.

But -- I find your writing style to be very readable, and if you approched it from the point of view of how YOU discovered and got into it, and fed the history into it in small doses, you could have a winner.

mikelz777
04-01-2014, 07:19 AM
Just some of my thoughts:

-The introduction should start and end with the final three paragraphs of what you presented. What precedes it is superfluous and should be used as an outline for or to flesh out the rest of the book.

-Overall, this doesn't seem like enough of a topic to make a book but rather, it seems more suitable for an article. There's going to be a tipping point where the hows and whys of getting into the ukulele as well as the observations made along the way are going to be outweighed by the added material that would be necessary to provide enough material to make this into a book. At some point, the reader may be asking themselves, "What is this book trying to be?". I see a potential identity issue.

-Use of the term "ook". "Ook" is not a word. Not only is it like fingernails on a chalk board, it's like pliers slowly and painfully tearing off those fingernails. As a reader, I find it very off-putting. There are those who pronounce the work "uke" as "ook" and those who pronounce it as "yewk". In any event, it is still spelled "uke". As a reader, I'm being made to feel like you are trying to force me to accept what you perceive to be the proper pronunciation by intentionally and repeatedly using the phonetic spelling. The choice should be left to the reader. This reader has not ever and will not ever refer to the uke as an "ook".

-Hawaiians call it an oo-koo-lay-lay, not ooh-koo-lay-lay. Adding the "h" would give the reader the impression that it would be pronounced with a long "o" sound.

-Overall, I find it to be written in a bit too informal, colloquial, conversational style. It lacks a bit of focus and flow. It's kind of all over the place.

-Are the terms first, second and third waves commonly held, accepted general knowledge in the ukulele community or is it more of a literary device? It's written in such a way as to suggest it is fact. You lost me on the waves and I found myself skipping down the intro.

-As a reader, I was somewhat taken aback by certain things included in the "bios" of the various ukulele players. Some examples: On Arthur Godfrey, " In the end, his aw-shucks public personality wasn't quite as convivial in private, and he faded after a public revelation of who he really was..." On Tiny Tim, "Tiny Tim was enough of a joke...", "Tiny Tim, nee Herbert Khaury, is remembered, (and, really, not that fondly by many ukulele players)...", "...sounding, and looking, like a giant munchkin...", "Never in the best of health, he had long been in professional decline when he had a heart-attack onstage that killed him shortly thereafter.". On Israel Kamakawiwo'olea, "A big man with the sweetest voice, Iz, and passed away too young." If the focus here is on the ukulele, do we really need to know these things? Some of this seems to be conjecture, some opinion and some seems to be a bit mean-spirited. If the focus here is on the ukulele, then tell me how they contributed and/or advanced the instrument and leave it at that. If you desire to include a fuller bio which lies outside of the immediate ukulele sphere, then I would suggest a bit more self-editing and leave out the conjecture, opinion and personal portrayals so that the readers are left to decide those things for themselves if they were to choose to look into such matters further.

I think you have a good idea going here but I'm not sure what's been presented so far is communicating what you want or intend it to be.

Steveperrywriter
04-29-2014, 07:11 AM
Update: So, I’ve gotten feedback from readers who had time to read and comment on the manuscript, and I’m using their input for the rewrite on my one-year-on uke memoir. I'll revise the opening, cut-and-paste, add and subtract, and with any luck, come up with something legible. After that is done, I’ll run the spell-check, read it again to see if anything else needs to be touched-up, then stick it up somewhere. (To maybe keep from immediate expulsion to the shameless self-promotion ghetto, I won’t try to sell it here when I get it done.)

I did want to acknowledge those who offered critiques and encouragement on UU, since this is where I found most of them. Thanks much, folks, you’re a great community, and I appreciate it.

Rick Turner
04-29-2014, 08:00 AM
Have you read "Guitar, An American Life" by Tim Brookes? It's an interesting read that swings back and forth between Tim having a custom guitar built...all the ups and downs of it (mostly ups)...and the history of the guitar. Hence it's both widely informative and at the same time details a very personal journey.

The Big Kahuna
04-29-2014, 08:12 AM
Needs more aliens.

Steveperrywriter
04-29-2014, 08:25 AM
Rick --

Yep, I read Tim's book, loved it. I mention it in own my goofy effort. (You get mentioned in passing, too, and favorably.)

Steveperrywriter
04-29-2014, 08:26 AM
Aren't all uke owners aliens ... ?

The Big Kahuna
04-29-2014, 09:18 AM
Aren't all uke owners aliens ... ?

"Jake Shimabukuro vs. Predator"

I don't care how good he is, I can pretty much predict how that one will turn out.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-29-2014, 09:27 AM
Have you read "Guitar, An American Life" by Tim Brookes? It's an interesting read that swings back and forth between Tim having a custom guitar built...all the ups and downs of it (mostly ups)...and the history of the guitar. Hence it's both widely informative and at the same time details a very personal journey.

Good one. Or "Clapton's Guitar" by Wayne Henderson. Either of these books make a great read even for a person with no previous interest in the instrument.

Steveperrywriter
04-29-2014, 09:42 AM
Another good one, Chuck. I liked all the luthier stuff, but I was a little disappointed with how it ended ...

The Big Kahuna
04-29-2014, 09:53 AM
Don't tell me the ending! I haven't read it yet!

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
04-29-2014, 11:05 AM
Claptons Guitars is well worth a read.

This is also excellent and i enjoyed it muchly (thats a word):
http://www.amazon.com/Stradivaris-Genius-Centuries-Enduring-Perfection/dp/0375760857/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1398805415&sr=1-1

I hesitate to recommend a book i've not read, but this book certainly looks interesting- Kalamazoo Gals: A Story of Extraordinary Women & Gibson's 'Banner' Guitars of WWII

http://www.amazon.com/Kalamazoo-Gals-Extraordinary-Gibsons-Guitars/dp/0983082782

Steveperrywriter
05-01-2014, 09:13 AM
Final post on this thread by Yours Truly: I have cleaned the sucker up and thanks to those who offered their help. If you were one of the folks who commented or critiqued on this thread, and you want to read a copy of the final draft, drop me a PM with an email address and I'll send you a PDF or ePub of the book.

The dedication is to my wife -- all my books are dedicated to her -- but also the the folks here on UU. Thanks again for help.