Saturday, January 9, 2021

All Those Books

It has come to the attention of my agents and entourage that my many books and book titles are confusing people. While I enjoy a good practical joke every now and then, it was not my intention to have people buying more books than necessary.

So here is a primer on all the books available from 275Days.

We'll start with the most recent…actually, no, that's probably going to be more confusing and not very helpful. Let's start at the beginning, maybe that will clear things up. The real beginning, for me. For this story, at least.

A bunch of years ago now, we had a super cool opportunity, and out of that, we took some time off to travel around the world with our two kids for nine months. Before we left home, I was thinking about how to keep family and friends informed of what we were doing, and a blog was the best I could come up with. Nine months is pretty close to 275 days, so that's where the name of the blog came from. (Actually, if you subtract our departure day and our return day, we were gone for 275 days.) What I did know was that I would take lots of pictures in lots of cool places, and people would probably be interested in that. This was 2007, so youtubing while travelling was not really a big thing, and I didn't want to be spending the trip videoing everything and then being glued to a computer during all of our down time. 

I won't get into the details of the trip here, but the low down is this:

One month in Italy

Five weeks in Greece

Four weeks in Turkey

About two weeks each in 




Eleven weeks in India

And the final two months for a rush job of 




and Laos

I started writing before we got to Rome, the first place on our itinerary, and did not let up until we left the airport in Incheon, Korea, on our way back home. 

I ended up with a couple hundred posts, with more than thousand pictures on the blog. That's just a guess. I never actually counted how many pictures I included, but it was a fraction of the twenty thousand I took. And those two hundred-plus posts clocked in at over 150,000 words. Yikes, what a mouthful.

I spent a couple years preparing for an art show in 2010, and then had more time to think about the value of all those words and photos. It seemed a shame to just have it sit on the computer in our house, only to be seen on anniversary dates of being here or there, or when we (I) were feeling particularly nostalgic. But as I reread the blog, two things were clear: there were a lot of great stories lingering in that mass of words, and; it deserved a far better fate than to simply disappear in an electronic recycling depot. A book seemed like the logical answer. After a bit of editing and a lot of designing, I came up with a book so massive that it required two volumes. The online printing service, Blurb, had a page limit and I was well over. At this point, two more things were clear: it would need considerably more editing, and: it was beautiful. This could work.

Life happened, and that book project was put on hold, but another fulfilled my new found love for design. I produced this 80-page, hard cover coffee table book with large photographs captioned with paragraphs from the larger project and some new writing.

A couple years later, Blurb - the online book printer - came out with a new colour format that was considerably cheaper, making the idea of self-publishing a full-colour travel book for a larger audience seem less dumb. It allowed me the freedom to be creative with the layout and include more imagery, which to my mind is the focus of a travel book. The book retained the format of the blog, consisting of short posts/chapters and my favourite images of that particular day.

For whatever reason, I decided to start with the middle section of our travels, and The Great Year - India was born.
This lead to some immediate confusion, as I needed to clarify that this was just the first of three books, but also the second of three books, not to be confused with the last of three books which would indeed come last, and not before the second book which would in fact be the first book. I'm sure an agent would have convinced me to come up with a better tag line, but as agents were in short supply for a full-colour travel book written, photographed, designed, and produced by an unknown Prairie Treasure, this remained a one-person operation. My kids had their own lives to deal with, and my wife had to keep us solvent.

More editing, more rewriting, more finagling with the design, a suggestion from my wife to drop "The Great Year" and in 2016, everything was in place. The first edition of the first book (formerly the second book that was indeed the first book) was released.

The content of this book covered the first four and a half months of the trip, from Italy to Egypt, with the title sourced from the one of the original blog posts. A new version of the second book (formerly masquerading as the first book) followed, and in early 2017, the trilogy was complete. For a time.

While the books were visually magnificent, in my mind (sure it's just me, but honestly…) among some of the most beautiful family travel memoirs (I am assuming there were others; I haven't seen them, but it doesn't mean they don't exist) ever to come to press, they needed yet more editing. For one, it's amazing how much easier it is to spot a typo in a physical book than on a computer screen, especially when it is your own text (one-person operation, remember). The other problem lies in removing parts of the story that are essential to the one who lived it, but less so to the poor sap who has to read it. More editing.

A couple corrected and improved editions came and went, and in the meantime I began to think that perhaps some people would enjoy reading a (nearly) text-only version of the book, without being distracted by amazing colour photos lingering around all those words.

A Change of View was born, a 380-page monolith of mind-bending family travel chicanery.

I continued to edit the three colour books because I am well aware that the only thing separating these books from absolute perfection was more time.
In late fall 2020, I came up with an even more impressive idea than just a plain old text version of our travels. As I said at the time, one of the beautiful things about self-publishing is that the only person who cares what the author does with their book is the author, which gives one a lot of leeway when it comes to one's output. This new (and truly revolutionary) idea was to re-publish A Change of View, but with eleven distinct covers, each representing one of the countries we visited. This meant that I had to come up with eleven images that captured the essence of that particular country. I'm not entirely sure that's the case, but each image does carry a lot of weight, and in its own way does a good job of awakening my memories. 












All eleven new books were ready in time for the holiday season, and stand as a testament to perhaps the greatest Canadian, multi-cover, European/Middle Eastern/South Asian, family travel story of all time. I do not make that claim lightly.
So this is where we stand today, in January of 2021.
To clarify, each of these new books, all eleven, the eleven books you see above, have the same content on the inside, and are merely the next step in the edited evolution of A Change of View, which in turn, is the full text of the three, full-colour travel books Today I Ate Cow Stomach, The Happy Accident, and Distant Early Warning.

If you want colour, go for one or all three of Today I Ate Cow Stomach, The Happy Accident, and Distant Early Warning. If you want a quicker, no-distraction read, go for one of the special eleven country covers immediately above. Any one will do, as they are, apart from one introductory photo, ALL THE SAME on the inside. The only difference is the title and the cover. So, what's the difference between A History of Elephants and Sunburns and Sharks? The cover and the title. That's it. You can rest assured that if you buy My Best Friend is Not a Serial Killer, you will not be left out of the conversation around the water cooler if all your work mates chose 101 Reasons to Leave the Toilet Seat Up. Unless they choose to only discuss the cover, which would be unfortunate. But no, you get to choose the cover that most resonates with you, of the country with which you most identify. You are in charge of your own destiny. That is what twenty bucks gets you. Coordinate with your book club, everyone get a different cover, then compare and contrast over a few glasses of wine, confident in the knowledge that although they look different and have different titles, you are indeed discussing the same book. Talk about a value-added proposition.

Click the link below and bring the wonder of distant lands right to your coffee table, and be a part of what all the cool kids are talking about. Be transported to an elusive memory, a remnant of a carefree, bygone era. When travel was easy (not true) and the weather...oh, did I mention there is no winter in this book? Nine months of summer! Where else will you find that in Canada, in January? Buy now!!

Buy the book.

Wondering if you should get the text or the colour version?
Maybe this will help you decide. More links on that page if you want to explore further.

Didn't see the spectacular original trailer that accompanied the release of the original India book?
My goodness, click here so you're not the only one. But make sure you have the kleenex ready at the 2:45 mark, as the music crests and India comes alive.
No time for a four+ minute long video? Watch the condensed version here! All the impact, drama, and intrigue in only three minutes.

Hey kids! Want to convince your parents to take you out of school for a year? Send them the links above.
Hey Grandparents! Want to convince your kids that you are right when you say, "Do it now, you never know." Use that faraway grandparent look when you have the conversation. That works wonders.
Hey parents! Want to show your single friends that families can have just as much fun as anyone else while travelling? Stick this in their mailbox and tell'em to suck it!

Whatever you do, buy the book. You can easily think up a reason for it later.

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