Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 56: Deadlines!

I hope every one of you had a great Christmas/Chanukah/Festivus break, whether it was a day or a week. While my time away from work was pleasant, I haven't had the luxury of much leisure time at all. In fact, I'm up past midnight more often than not these days. Why? Deadlines. Deadlines are a harsh reality/rude awakening/buzzkill when one has a for-real publishing contract. I've worked as hard on the Chicken Ranch book the past six weeks as I have at any point in the past six years. And I had my biggest deadline thus far today.

Those keeping score at home may remember me mentioning that Texas' Legendary Chicken Ranch: Truth, Lies and Legacy of a Lone Star Whorehouse would contain some photos. Oh, yes. During the writing process for this book, I always had it in the back of my mind that it might have a small photo section with maybe a dozen photos. Nothing too elaborate. Well, my publisher, History Press, wanted more--a lot more. Today, you'll be happy to hear, I delivered to my editor exactly one hundred photographs and illustrations! Whew! If you're thinking that sounds like a lot of photos, you're right. It is a lot. And I've sorted and arranged them, edited them to conform with print guidelines, created more than a few of them myself, whilst tracking down the rights holders for others and securing publication permission. That's a tremendous investment of time, and the kicker is that I'm nowhere near finished writing all of the cutlines to accompany them (fortunately, the deadline for those is still a few weeks away).

Want to hear something insane? I could easily have turned in twice that number of photos. Choosing what stayed in and what got cut was a lot more difficult and time-consuming than I expected. Don't feel you're missing out, however. The majority of the photos that didn't make the cut were either of marginal physical quality, essentially duplicated something another photo did better, or was more tangential to the overall story than photos that did make the cut. That's amazing when you stop to consider there just aren't that many historical photos of the Chicken Ranch floating around (and far, far fewer of the Wagon Wheel). In fact, I only have three photos of the modern ruins included, whereas when this started, I expected those to be in the majority. Only two photos are reprinted from Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch, which I found more than a little surprising.

This book's going to be well worth the wait. But first--more deadlines for me!

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