So, I wrote a book. I feel really fortunate to have had the experience and I am humbled by the idea that its on Amazon and store shelves across the country. The photo to the right is my brother-in-law and his charming wife with copy-in-hand, somewhere in NYC.
Late in 2006, Scott Vandehey and Kelly White were approached about writing this book. We (Pop Art) were putting the wraps on a successful 15+ month DotNetNuke project for a client and both of them had blogged a little about it. We had put together several DotNetNuke sites with an definite eye for design. After Scott Hanselman helped us dispel the notion that this book offer from Jim Minatel might be a hoax, ScottV and Kelly invited me to join the author team.
We, the three amigos, locked ourselves in a room (figuratively) and wrote down a draft set of chapters using index cards spread out over the table, and then handed out assignments. We went home and worked on a sample chapter to (1) prove to Jim that we could express ourselves sufficiently on paper and (b) to dip our toes into the waters of authorship.
When we reconvened a few days later, the mood and sobered up a little. Kelly was already full with a rich family life and a fledgling local developer community in the works. Scott had a brand new baby on the way too. The long-and-short of it is they were both honest and smart enough to know that the time commitment was too much. I have a lot of respect for them knowing it just wouldn't work rather than bailing out somewhere down the road. They showed a lot of class and professionalism.
I knew full well what I was getting into. Fortunately, so did my wife. She supported me so well during those non-stop evenings and weekends. It was a lot to bite off and she helped me so much just from the occasional drive-by-hug, or the smack-on-the-ass as I walked past her to refill my coffee cup.
I started my career with an internship at Andersen Consulting, then onto Peoples Energy, next was The Information Management Group, and now Pop Art. I've been developing software and consulting my entire career. Over time, I've learned a few important things like "Don't miss deadlines, period". So, it seemed reasonable to approach this endeavor in a similar manner. I worked out a schedule with Jim, my Senior Editor. I didn't really have anything to compare it to and Jim seemed OK with the plan so I just rolled with it. I entered into a contract with Wrox having every intention of living up to the letter and spirit of the agreement; just like any other client.
Every couple of weeks, I'd submit the next chapter to my editor, Christopher Rivera. He would manage the workflow on that side including comments from my awesome technical editor, Robert Bogue. I would occasionally have check-in phone calls with Christopher too. He did a fantastic job of helping me through this maze; a super nice guy.
Along about chapter 10 or so, Christopher chimed in on a conference call and said, "Wow, you're still on schedule. That's pretty rare." Now, I don't know about you, but that's about the worst thing he could have said for my motivation. I let out a big laugh and breathed a huge sigh of relief. I was well aware of interviews with rock star developers like MLB and others who would sign a book deal, get past the due date for the final draft, and only then sit down and start writing it.
Come hell or high water, I was sticking with the impression that rock stars can do that but not little-ol-me. This self-imposed rule of hitting my final due date with solid material worked well for releasing relevant content and minimizing the impact of my home life. Kari was spectacular for eight long months, fifteen chapters, and over 400 pages - I sure do love her.
Towards the end, Jim moved to a new position and Chris Webb became my Senior Editor. I wrapped up the book in late August. It went to production and made it out in time for the awesome OpenForce '07 conference in Vegas next week. I would have loved to attend this conference but alas, I'm in San Jose all week on business and my six year wedding anniversary is next weekend too. Ah, the trump card.
I learned a lot while I researched the nooks and crannies of this framework and I developed a sincere appreciation for the core team and all of their work to advance the platform. I haven't read tech books the same way since and the cliche dedications of "my spouse is so awesome" don't seem so cliche anymore. Its a humbling experience to have such a cool opportunity to impact a thriving community. The Wrox tag line is "Programmer to Programmer" and that's certainly the case here. I'm just a guy trying to help. I hope it helps you.