Monday, May 20, 2013

THE HISTORY OF A BOOK by guest blogger, Joan Bochmann (Written in February 2012)

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. This is probably the best known first line of any novel ever written. I have pretty much forgotten the story Dickens was beginning with this line, but the words seem to describe some of the roller coaster rides I have been on since mid-December. January 2012 brought a virtual torrent of good news, bad news, euphoria and dread. I don’t think I’ve had such a tangle of emotions in many years. Unfortunately, the first part of February hasn’t relieved the chaos all that much. 
January, 2012 was the 6th anniversary of the publication of a book that was born in the late 70s. I completed my first novel in, I believe, 1975. After a few rejections, I was fortunate enough to hook up with an editor from Penguin and to work with her in polishing my precious novel for publication. (Best of times.) Unfortunately when my editor, who was by then a good friend, was hit by a car while crossing a Chicago street, Penguin returned the manuscript with the news of my friend’s death and their decision not to do any of her “projects.” (Worst of times.) I put the manuscript on a shelf and got on with life. I longed to write again, and found a few opportunities to do short stories and essays for small publications. In 2001, my sister formed a small publishing company and urged me to take another look at the book which would become Absaroka. I pulled the  typewritten (yes, I did say typewritten) manuscript from its resting place and began to read. I fell in love with the story again. I did a little more research and some editing, and my sister’s company (Raven Publishing) agreed to publish the book. (Best of times.) My efforts to sell the book were hampered by the diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer. (Worst of times.) God saw fit to heal my illness. (Best of times)
I have spent the last four years in praise and gratitude for God’s miraculous healing. In February of this year, (2012) a PET scan revealed the cancer has returned and metastasized to other parts of my body as well! Really? (Worst of Times.) While having it come back is disappointing, it doesn’t change the joy of those 4 years God gave me.  Contrary to my lifelong dream of a beach house on Malibu, a cabin in the mountains and fans clamoring for autographs, I did not get rich. Still, having a book published, going on a couple of book tours, giving book talks, getting some good reviews and winning two awards filled me with joy and gratitude (Best of Times).
Raven made the book available for digital download on Amazon Kindle and on Smashwords, but I yearned to have the story told well on a high quality audio book.
I wanted this very much so that the people who love stories, but don’t like reading books. can hear it in a very well-done audio version. I remember when I used to commute how much I loved listening to books on tape. When my Mom lost her sight, I thought of all the visually impaired people who would get so much pleasure out of listening to a good book. 
It is odd that the new cancer diagnosis came at a time when I was in the process of working with a producer/engineer and a talented reader to get Absaroka made into an audio book. I think God is with me on this. A dear friend I had not seen for several years called me out of the blue. He had just read Absaroka and wanted to know if I was interested in making it an audio book. We began thinking about all the people who could benefit from a book they could listen to and we became more and more excited. Brett had the ability, resources, and talent to engineer and promote an audio book. Sky Dance Mountain had, in fact, already done a couple of small audio books.     
I was right in the middle of trying to do a marketing plan, promotion and other such issues when my health really took a nosedive. Still we all moved on. I realized that the book needed a good, strong male voice to do the voice over. Another little nod of approval from God became evident when Scott Tanner agreed to do the recording. Scott is not only extremely talented, but had begun investigating the possibility of getting into this business as a second career. 
Several recording sessions ensued. We missed a self-imposed deadline because we realized this book had the potential of being really moving and entertaining piece. We decided quality was more important than punctuality in this case. Now it’s here—the official release date of February 18th (2012).  Ah, the joy. A book that was published six years ago has another life, another audience. I know the story inside out; Scott had read it when it came out, but just recently re-read it, and Brett had read it just a few weeks before. Despite this intimate knowledge of the story, while listening to it, all three of us were moved to tears at some touching scenes, and held our breath in suspense as it looked like the protagonist might not win.
{Joan Bochmann is still fighting the battle against cancer and the accompanying disorder, cachecia disease, otherwise known as wasting disease. She has outlived doctors' prediction, but the disease hasn't gone away. God willing, she hopes to live to finish one or both of  two other novels she has begun. She remains grateful for each day of life in which to enjoy her son, daughter, grandsons, and great grandchildren. She volunteers one day a week in the business office at her church, is planting flowers and taking care of her house and yard. She has good days (the best of times) and bad days when the pain and nausea immobilize her (the worst of times). Her life and her book have been and continue to be a blessing to many. Joan may be contacted and/or her books purchased via Raven Publishing—,}