Saturday, April 19, 2014

“New Book for Sale”

c. 2014 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

In the recent past, I wrote and edited three books for publication.
The first was a collection of “Thoughts At Large” columns from the first ten years of my series. The second was a kid-friendly offering about our Russian Blue house cat. The third was an athletic publication about the Special Olympics softball team I covered as Sports Editor for another newspaper.
The experience of doing these volumes was both instructive and rewarding. I felt privileged to create such works for a greater audience.
Yet in the back of my mind was the desire to assemble one more collection. One further voyage into the untapped prose pool of a small-town wordsmith.
For a couple of years, I reckoned that this creation would be based on the musical output of California guitarist Davie Allan. But that project never came to fruition.
Later, I considered a collection of my motorcycle magazine stories from the 1980’s.
But instead, I eventually realized that the most logical step before me was one in the direction of local celebrity Mary Malloy Bramstedt.
I called her “Carrie Hamglaze” in my columns. She was witty, iconoclastic and enduring.
Mary had been a schoolteacher, award-winning tennis coach and local writer. She held a seat on the Chardon City Council and was active in the Geauga County Republican Party. We had become friends while I shared journalistic duties at the Maple Leaf with the late Lee Rogers, a veteran wordsmith.
The thought of a book that collected my “Hamglaze” columns seemed compelling. I decided that such a collection would be perfect for distribution at the Maple Festival.
A weekend away from my “real job” made it possible. With my yellowed scrapbook as a guide, I began to revisit the publishing process.
My last detour into this realm occurred in 2008. So it was difficult, at first, to remember the routine. I struggled to edit my manuscript and format it properly.
A few times, I had to start this process over, from the beginning.
There were enough columns on hand from my vast reserve of newspaper material. But selecting those with a timeless appeal proved challenging. I read through dozens and dozens of old issues. Many were simply too “dated” to be useful in a modern volume.
Eventually, I had sifted through the entire mass. What remained were a few, worthy documents that used the “Hamglaze” character. I looked through my personal library for photos that would match this collection.
Then, it was time to create my book.
Amazingly, though I had not visited the publishing website since 2008, my information was still current. After finding a username and password scribbled in an old notebook, I re-connected.
The future was at hand.
I envisioned a brief volume. One with about seven stories. Something that my friend Mary could hand out as a souvenir of sorts. A memory of the 2014 Geauga County Maple Festival.
A document that would help promote our newspaper. A book short enough to hold the attention of local readers, while being substantial enough to offer lasting value. A keepsake worth saving. A treasure in ink and prose.
The “Carrie Hamglaze” character had been durable. I wrote about her as a friend, radio host, television moderator, political candidate and wordsmithing icon.
My own Libertarian leanings meshed perfectly with her old-fashioned Republican sensibilities. She was an anachronism, but fully in touch with new-age conservatism.
I used the Hamglaze character to explore election cycles, the “Occupy” movement and local issues of great importance.
In the book, these tales assumed equal importance.
I guessed that Mary Bramstedt herself would be ecstatic to see these columns brought together in a limited-edition print volume. My thought proved to be quite correct.
The idea I held was simple and direct – to have her offer this product in person. Autographed and delivered with good cheer.
Mary agreed wholeheartedly.
The cover photo used for my book was from a session I did in 2011, outside of Giant Eagle. In modern terms, her white, Ford Focus had long since gone to the junkyard. Yet it remained a compelling icon. Festooned with bumper stickers of all sorts and scars from many miles spent traveling around the county.
Even local writer Rick Bissell featured a photo of the car on his “Pardon My Chardon” blog.
As a column character, Carrie typically served as a host and moderator. Someone able to provide direction despite changing conditions. The real Mary was no less durable, offering genuine stability in a region transitioning from old-money affluence to new-age profligacy, amid a greater climate of national decline.
Her indomitable spirit provided the foundation for many episodes of this series.
The book served as an act of love. A tribute in text.
A statement of praise.
As said before, I decided that it should debut at the signature event in Geauga’s capitol city. But the volume would have meant nothing without my friend’s involvement. It was her blessing that made the book whole.
One more adventure in print.
One last cruise over a sea of ink.
One final voyage, where no (Ice) man has gone before... to paraphrase the opening of Star Trek.
God bless you, Carrie Hamglaze.

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to:
Write us via the USPS: P.O. Box 365 Chardon, OH 44024


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