I’m often asked "why don’t you write a book?"  The question comes up more since we moved to Floyd County. Several published authors around here. Most are self-published but published nonetheless.

I’m not opposed to self-publishing which is different from "vanity publishing" where you pay a publisher to print your book and they, not you, get most of the money. An old rule of authorship says "the publisher pays you, not the other way around."

But self-publishing can become a bottomless pit of self-promotion where one is consumed by the need to constantly promote yourself and your book. The county’s three most successful self publishers, Colleen Redman, Fred First and David St. Lawrence, are good writers and successful promoters — a combination that serves each well and I respect their abilities to be both.

As for writing a book, my smart-ass answer is usually something like "I don’t have time to write a book because I’m too busy writing for a living."

But, to admit a family secret, I am published – more than once.

The first occurred in the early 1970s as a recently-divorced, financially-strapped reporter, I needed a second income. A friend at another newspaper recommended me to a dirty book publisher who paid $2500 for 1500-word paperbacks about people doing nasty things to each other. After they rejected a first effort as "too tame and too well-written," I got the hang of things (so to speak) and turned out 45 of the steamy paperbacks over the next three years. Each took about a week to write and I wrote each under a pen name.

In 1984, I wrote – under my own name – a guidebook for newly-elected members of Congress, called "Hitting the Ground Running." Since there are fewer than 100 new members of Congress elected every two years, the market was somewhat limited and the book went out of print in 1990.

Most journalists claim they have the "great American novel" somewhere inside them and I’ve started, and abandoned, one many times over the years. It sits, unfinished, on one of the hard drives on a computer somewhere in our house.

My photography agent wants me to do a retrospective of my photojournalism but that means wading through 40 years of negatives, slides and digital images and I just don’t have the time right now.

So, for the moment, I’ll just have to be content knowing that I wrote there, published that, and collected the royalties.