Paynesville author pens another book

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 11/29/00.

Bob Cushman book cover photo Having written and published his second book in six years, Bob Cushman still doesn't think of himself as a writer, and has little desire to become a best-selling one.

"The story to me is more important than the writing," he explained last week on the verge of the release of his second book. "That's why I say I'm not a great writer. But I do think I have something to say."

He wants to share that second book of stories and observations with people who read his first offering in 1994, and hopefully with some people who might have missed his first book.

Cushman's current release, entitled "Time Flies...Whether You're Having Fun or Not," came back from the printer earlier this week.

This picture of Bob Cushman, taken in August 2000 with his two grandchildren, Megan and Jordan, graces the cover of his new book.

The title of the new volume comes from something Cushman's son-in-law said to him several years ago. It stuck with the retired high school guidance counselor, who says, "I've lived for 65 years and some of it's been fun and some of it's been horrific and it's all flown by."

The 150 or so pages of his new book contain short stories, much the same format as his first book. While this book is less biographical, Cushman said the new book is based on his experiences and observations.

"I like to think my stuff is inspirational, with a touch of humor," he said.

Story topics range from religion to sports to the state of the world. There will also be local interest in some pieces, though Cushman meant the book for a wider audience and not a parochial one.

The first story, in fact, recounts an ill-fated book signing for Cushman's first publication. That signing was delayed when Cushman suffered a heart attack on his way to downtown Paynesville.

The expert medical care he received locally, compared with the state of our local facilities a quarter century ago, form the basis of another story.

Cushman said that he has lived a rich life, with lots of experiences. "The companion to that is I've paid pretty close attention," he added.

Once again, the book will be self-published, with Cushman using the same agency in St. Cloud to print 1,000 copies of the book. That's roughly how many he sold of his the first time.

"The only difference was I didn't even attempt to get it published by anyone else," he explained. "I've had enough rejection in my life. I don't need any more of those (rejection) letters."

"My intention is not to make a lot of money," he added. "I hope to get my money back. I've never thought of myself as a best-selling author."

Cushman started writing seriously again for this book a year ago. He made a list of 70 stories that he wanted to share. A few didn't pan out and a few got combined to form the 40 or so chapters in the book.

Last summer, Cushman set a self-imposed deadline to have the book written by early August. He didn't quite meet that deadline, but did finish by the end of the month.

Then it took three months for the book to be printed.

Though he has a title ready for another volume, Cushman isn't sure he has the stories to fill it. He does have an idea for a children's book that he may pursue.

Cushman will be selling books directly from home, by mail, and at a few local shops for $12.95. His book is available at the Corner Drug, and he got an International Standard Book Number for his book this time, which will allow it to be sold in chain stores that keep track of merchandise by computer.

For promotion, Cushman will rely on self-promotion, which he admits isn't his forte. He does have book signings scheduled both locally and in St. Cloud.

The local signing will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 15, at the new coffee shop, Midnight Roastery, in downtown Paynesville. Cushman plans to do a reading, sign his books, and conduct a question and answer session.

While books will be available for purchase at the signing, Cushman stressed that he will sign any books brought in. Books can be bought in advance and brought to the signing.

Cushman has also scheduled another book signing in St. Cloud after the New Year.

Once again, he will be sending his book to media outlets in the area and in the state to see what kind of publicity he can get. He will also send copies again to Oprah Winfrey, Robert Fulghum, and, of course, to his favorite author, Richard Bach.

Virtually every word that Bach - the author of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" and numerous other books - has published, Cushman has read.

So one of Cushman's greatest thrills after his first publication was returning from a round at the golf course with his wife, Mary, absently pressing the "Play" button on the answering machine, and hearing Bach's voice.

"One of the phrases he used was 'It really touched me' and another thing he said was 'It would be great if other people could read your book,'" recalls Cushman, who admits to saving the tape to savor the moment.

Bach even gave Cushman a contact at his publishing company. The lead didn't pan out, but that misses the point. Because selling books isn't the point.

"I don't care," said Cushman. "Richard Bach liked my book."

That episode is another story in his new book, which Cushman hopes Bach, and lots of local readers, will enjoy as well.

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