It was the spring of 2010. I was delivering singing telegrams, performing comedy, and sweating like a pig in every respect. When I wasn’t performing with my puppets on the street, I was doing odd promo jobs as well. One of my more bizarre jobs had been writing bloids for a now defunct web rag. Usually I would talk about men that I dated. Same with my blog. Then I had a chat with my friend Joe Cannava. Joe was fascinated by the fact I wrote. We began talking about it because in addition to set designing and personal shopping he wanted to write as well. Plus I had been stoked about the writing job.
Joe had heard me talk about the men in my life and would usually yawn when I did. However, he actually heard about the singing telegram job. For years, my mother had wanted me to write about it but I could never quite put it on stage on make it funny. Finally Joe put the pressure on. He asked me why I didn’t write about the telegram job. After all, I had been flirting with the idea of writing a book for some time. I told Joe I was scared I wouldn’t know where to start.
I just remember Joe’s dark, brown eyes giving me the look he typically did. He said, “April, are you afraid or just lazy?”
I sputtered. Then from that day on Joe asked me about my book and how it was going. I lied to him and told him I was hard at work. I thought eventually he would stop asking. Finally, after he wouldn’t stop asking I started to write it. When I put my adventures on paper it became less about writing a book and more about my experiences living my dream. It became about my love for my real life boss, who fictionally is known as Bruce Myles Beauregaurd, the hardest working man in show business. It became about my adoration and respect for my co-workers, accomplished comedians and singers who give you a Tony worthy show wherever they are. It became a love story to the greatest city in the world; a place where I am blessed to be able to chase my dreams.
My days were spent writing remnants of my adventures on paper, and my evenings typing them up in an apartment that was four floors up and had no air conditioning. For some odd reason I was determined to do this. I finished the book that fall and simply had it on my computer. My parents knew I had done it but didn’t know what the next step was. Hell, I didn’t even know. My sister knew a thing or two about self-publishing but what was that? I had written a book that was in the very rough stages of development. It made no sense. It was just words but they were my words.
For several months I put the book in the drawer. I made videos with my puppet children in light of my TLC appearance. I felt myself floating along, unknowing of what was coming next. Despite the hard work and publicity I gave my former comedy haunt they repaid me by firing me. I found myself having new adventures, making music with my dear friend Marcus Yi. We had met when he was doing a workshop on his musical. A talented writer and composer, Marcus and I immediately clicked. We began making music. It got radio airplay. It was because for the past several years, though in costume, I sang almost daily.
Then I got a job with a fledgling internet network where many had seen me on the tele. Still, as the network launched and I became a paid talking head, it seemed I was spinning in aerospace. Then I got the opportunity to pitch my manuscript to an agent. My dear friend Dave Rosner, author of Full Metal Foreskin, a memoir about being a Jewish Lieutenant Colonel in the Marines, had recommended me to her. I remember sending her the manuscript, nervous though I had nothing to lose. Then I remember going on to facebook wanting to tell my friend Joe. That’s how I found out about his passing. It broke my heart. I wanted to tell him about the book and how I had finished it and was pitching it. However, I know we are all on loan and God calls us home when we are called. Joe had to go home. Just like my dearly departed friend Roger, he was another angel to guide me on my path.
The agent rejected me. I was beyond heartbroken. In between her rejection and Joe’s death I didn’t know what was next. Then I was offered another publishing contract. The house was a smaller one, and catered to more actors and personalities like myself; people who aren’t writers in the typical sense but will surprise you by writing a book. While they were nice people, they gave me a contract I didn’t like and weren’t willing to budge. I learned a lot about being a first time author though.
During this time, my friend Mandy Stadtmiller, formerly of the New York Post, suggested that I self-publish. She told me it was an easy way to get in for first time writers and a lot of people were becoming very rich from Kindle. I wasn’t intending on becoming rich, just getting my book out there. Mandy made me feel empowered, like I could self-publish. The question was how.
Either way, I knew my book needed more work. Last year, 2011, Labor Day and hurricane weekend, I was walled up in my domicile typing away. Afraid the power would go out and time was of the essence, I was living on black coffee and canned food. In my house/writing bunker I edited away. Either I explained things more, punched some things up, or cut some things out entirely. My neck and back were spasming with pain as I emerge once the rain stopped and Bloomberg reopened the subways like a grizzled war veteran. A friend from the neighborhood told me I looked bad and asked what I had been doing. I said, “Writing a book.” Despite the mad genius look I was still very lost.
Unsure of what was next, I became swept up in the drama of the next few months when my house was robbed and then to cope fell in love with a person who was a bad idea. Then when this person went off and did what he did I was heartbroken. That heartbreak was truly just a distraction because my relationship with the internet network was beginning to deteriorate at a rapid pace. Due to politics, I as well as many of the original talking heads were being forced out to cut costs. Then of course there was the TV show that was set to be on a network but got yanked. Standup spots were not rolling in. As nothing was coming together my mother pointed out I still had my book.
All winter and into the early spring, my mother and I read my book daily to make sure it was what we wanted. My dad printed at least twelve drafts off of his computer. Each was given their own spiral notebook in my parent’s house. It was like the old days before I moved to the city, my mom and I working as a team. Even until the end of the writing process, she would email me about her imput when it came to the book. Only recently has she been happy with the ending.
The next step was hiring an independent editor to go over grammar. Then after that I had to find a self-publishing house. There were some that were good, and some that were money making schemes with author advocates that served as telemarketers. During my search, I asked one woman if she had a background in publishing. She snapped at me, “Why should it matter if I have a background in writing?” When I pointed out she worked in publishing she scoffed.
After much heartache I came across Infinity Publishing. Many of their people have worked in publishing, book distribution, editing, or in some other facet of the industry. They seemed to care about writers. I had the written book option. The ebook option. The book on tape option. All were endless it seemed. My mom and I talked it over and off we went. On June 25th I sent in my money, my paperwork, and my manuscript. Off I was. I felt powerful.
Of course in between was the agony over cover art, last minute changes, and how to get the word out. Then last week I learned everything would be complete in just one week. It hardly seemed real. My mom who tells me she has never thrown out any of the tablets I wrote on as a child, and some of the content is pretty horrid, was dancing on the ceiling. To describe the process as exciting is an understatement.
As of yesterday my book, I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Person, is now available online. Some friends and fans informed me that they have already purchased copies. Currently, the book is available through the seller. To purchase go to www.buybooksontheweb.com or call 877-Buy-Book. In a week it will be available on Amazon.com, and in two weeks it will be available for download on Kindle, Nook, and any of those other things.
My next project of course is getting it into bookstores here in NYC. As a smaller house Infinity is less known, but they have placed their authors in larger chain. My father wants to see it become a musical, and that will be the next project.
What did I do to celebrate? Well there was no chance. My boss had three deliveries that needed to be done. How appropros. There’s always Monday. It will involve a lot of chocolate.
Has the journey of this Indiana Jones with a Bette Midler style job ended? Hells no. We’ve only just begun. Xo April