Category Archives: Writing

The cat’s out of the bag…

Oh, and yeah, my book is finally available! I’ve actually got a real, printed copy of it sitting here on my desk and Amazon claims that they’re shipping it within 24 hours! (It may not be on the shelves of your local Barnes and Noble for a little while longer, though.)

Overall, I have to admit that I find this kind of frightening, somewhat akin to what it must be like taking your child off to their first day at school. Here’s something that’s been a part of you for quite some time, and now it’s out there at the mercy of the big, bad world. Will it make friends? Will it get beaten up and come home crying? I guess now only time is going to tell….

So, everyone, go out and buy a copy and tell me (and everyone else on Amazon) how wonderful it is! Here’s a handy link to help you get started:

Hope you all like it….

P.S. – There’s already someone selling a used copy of the book on Amazon. I’ve had my own copy something like 48 hours… how does that happen?

One step closer…

Well, another step towards getting in print – it appears that Amazon now has my book in their database!

There it is, in all it’s glory. Amazon seems to be a little confused, though. For some reason they don’t seem to know that it won’t be published until March. And you can’t find my book by searching on my author name.

Also, when the book is actually published, there’ll be a cool quote on the front cover but you’ll just have to wait to see that one…

Publishing lag

One comment I’ve gotten several times over from family members this Thanksgiving is “I was at the bookstore and I looked for your book, but it wasn’t there.” Apparently, in all my grousing about getting the manuscript in, I gave the impression that as soon as I turned in my manuscript, the book would go out to the shelves. I’ve still got all the grunt work of reviewing copy edits and page proofs to go before I get something real in my hand.

The book’s going to be part of the Microsoft .NET Development Series published by Addison Wesley that John Montgomery’s been talking about. The series includes books by Don Box and Chris Sells, which is a bit scary company to be keeping. On the other hand, I made a small contribution to one of the books in the series already, and they haven’t laughed me out of the club yet…

Made it…

Just sent the electronic copy of the manuscript off and am about to drop the hard copy of the manuscript in the express mailbox… To be honest, there were more than a few times that I didn’t think I was going to make it.

I’m not totally done yet – there’s still more work to be done before I get to see my name in print – but I’m over the hump. Now on to LA!

Ken Getz is a pain in the ass!

There I said it. I realize this is not the nicest thing to say about someone who’s been generous enough to invite me into his home this coming weekend, but I felt I had to get it out before I saw him in person.

In truth, Ken is a pain in my ass because I (well, actually, my editors) asked him to be and he was nice enough to agree to do it. He’s one of the technical reviewers for my book, and his comments have caused me no end of grief because: a) he feels free to comment at length about the shortcomings of my writing, and b) he’s usually pretty on the money. The way I’ve been working is to edit a chapter first and then look at the comments the reviewers had about it. I’m pretty much guaranteed that if I skim over some weak passage and weasel by with the thought “Hmmm. I’m not sure that’s such a good passage. Ah, well, I’m sure it’s OK…”, then Ken’s going to have a comment calling me out on it. Very valuable stuff, but I tell you: after ten or so chapters of it, I’ve started to steel myself before flipping to his comments. I’m going to be very grateful for all his insight… when I’m done editing the damn book.

(And in saying all this, I am not meaning to slight any of the other reviewers, all of whom have been providing insightful and invaluable comments of their own. I just call Ken out here because he seems to have the knack for writing comments that particularly bedevil me.)

As a side note, you’ll notice that I haven’t been posting a lot of happy, chatty entries about getting this book finished, the way, say, ChrisAn has about getting his presentation done for the PDC. I’m not sure what Chris has been taking, but I missed it when they handed out the happy pills. Me, I’m just slogging it out as best I can. Maybe I need a life-size Chris Sells looking over my shoulder…

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you…

I’m coming up against a very hard deadline for my language reference book, so I’ve been having to dedicate myself almost full-time to it this week and next. One of the things that I’ve been doing is going through all the comments from people who were nice enough to agree to be technical reviewers for some part of the book. It has been a very interesting experience.

Before I get to that, though, I will add that one thing that’s surprised me is that number of people around work who, unprompted, asked if I needed any more technical reviewers for the book. I’ve been asked to do technical reviews for a few books and while it was an interesting experience, it’s not necessarily something that I’d go out volunteering for. Not to put too fine a point on it but after thirty or forty pages of close technical reviewing, even the most interesting book makes my eyes swim. (Then again, I usually eschew reading technical books in favor of just fiddling with a program, a point whose irony is not lost on me.)

As far as the technical reviews I’ve gotten, though, one thing that’s been surprising is how much reading someone else’s technical reviews can give you a read on their personality. I guess I thought a technical review was a technical review was a technical review, but these really run the gamut. On one end of the spectrum, one reviewer has been a super stickler on making sure that all my code samples and basic facts are exactly right. (Which has been great… Uh, how many bytes does a Double take up again?) On the other end of the spectrum, another reviewer glosses over the little mistakes and instead likes to insert long comments taking issue with bigger picture questions about how and when I talk about one topic or another. (Equally great.) And all of the reviewers have a distinct style and set of concerns. Which makes sense if you think about it, I guess, but I hadn’t.

Anyway, my book was sent out for review in chunks, so I’m about to make a transition from one set of reviewers to another. I’m going to kind of miss the reviewers who didn’t have the time to review this next chunk of the book. I feel like they’re dropping out just as we were getting to know each other…

What’s an ideal BMI?

Erik posted an entry talking about an introduction he wrote for a forthcoming C# textbook, and he says:

Many computer books are so heavy that lifting them cause hernia [sic], yet they have less content than your favorite tabloid.

Which made me think about something that I worry about: what’s a good BMI for a book? (By BMI, I mean the fictional Book Mass Index, a related measurement to the human Body Mass Index.) Namely, will people not buy a book if it’s not hefty enough?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m working on a language reference book for VB, something like a K&R or Stroustrup for the VB .NET language. (Whether it succeeds in reaching that lofty goal still remains to be seen.) One thing I continually worry about as I write it is whether the book is going to look good sitting on the shelves between all those behemoth VB books that Barnes and Noble seems to stock. With a mostly-done first draft, it currently clocks in at less than 300 pages, which means it’s going to be puny in comparison, even given some inevitable expansion as I fill in some holes I left in the draft. I’d like to think that it’s just that I’m packing in more information-per-square-inch than other books, but I don’t know.

One thing I’m still debating on whether to add to the book is a section on the VB runtime functions (Left, Right). Technically, they’re library functions, but they’re so closely identified with the language that they are as good as part of it. If I did that, they’d definitely pad the book out nicely (Gosling et al. used this to great effect in their Java book). Of course, that would also mean I’d have to write it.

Ultimately, I think it gets back to something I had to come to terms with when I started working out a few years ago. Being a somewhat competitive person, I would keep track of how I was doing relative to other people in the gym, but over time I observed that no matter how fast or strong or flexible I got, there always seemed to be someone who was a whole lot faster or a whole lot stronger or a whole lot more flexible than I was. I finally decided I either had to quit comparing myself to others altogether and just be happy with my own progress or I had to quit working out. I figured the former was the better option…