This past Thursday, Laughing Place announced that they’d be forming a new company called Laughing Place Press and publishing their first book entitled The E-Ticket Life: Stories, Essays, and Lessons Learned from My Decidedly Disney Travels by… me. The book is now available for preorder at www.TheETicketLife.com and will hit Amazon.com and other retailers later this summer.

For this week’s blog entry, I thought I’d tell you a bit more about how this came to be.

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A few months ago, I sat in the lobby of the Frank G. Wells Building on the Walt Disney Studios lot waiting to see a screening of Star Wars Rebels with my friend (and boss) Fanboy. I mentioned to him that I had been working on a book of various stories I wanted to share about my time in the Disney Parks and how I thought they played a major role in the direction my life had taken. At the time, I had completed about half of the manuscript, prepared a full book proposal, and had even submitted to a handful of publishers. While I knew most of the publishers would be a long shot considering that the book would be part memoir, part travel book, and would be meant for a niche fan base that I doubt most people realize is as large as it is, there was one small publisher I thought I had a pretty good shot with. Unfortunately, about a week before my conversation with Fanboy, I had received an e-mail thanking me for my proposal but informing me that they had already set their publishing schedule for the following year and would have to pass.

When I started telling Fanboy all of this, I was really just looking for some feedback on the project idea and to see if he happened to know any publishers that might be interested. Instead, he shocked me by suggesting that Laughing Place print it themselves. At first I didn’t quiet know if he was serious. Did he realize how much work (and money) this undertaking would require? If we were going to do this, I wanted to do it right and ensure we had a quality product I could be proud of.

The first thing I did was ask him to take a look at the proposal — a 50 page document containing a description of the book, market research, a full outline, and sample chapters — which he did. Secondly, I asked him to run the idea by Doobie and make sure he was on board as well. Thankfully, Fanboy reported that Doobie “loved the idea.” That’s when Fanboy suggested that I start a blog on site.

My original idea for the book and the blog was “Let the Memoir-ies Begin” — a play on the Disney promotion Let the Memories Begin. This was even the title I submitted to the various publishers I mailed my proposal to. One of the first things I told Fanboy when I gave him the proposal was, “I’m not married to the name..” A few weeks later, Fanboy texted me to say, “We’re all set to go… but you need a new title.”

Following many ideas — good, bad, joking, and otherwise — I suggested “The E-Ticket Life.” That managed to get the green light from all of us, and on October 4th, 2014 I published by first blog entry on the site. When I posted the link on my Facebook, my friend Reuben said, “That was great! I can’t wait to read next week!” The funny thing is, I hadn’t really thought about how frequently I would be posting the blog; part of me just assumed I would do it whenever the inspiration hit. However, I decided to take Reuben’s unintentional advice and force myself to crank out a piece every Saturday.

There were weeks where I would write my blog on a Tuesday and excitedly schedule it to post that Saturday and then there were other weeks where I’d stare at my laptop at 10 a.m. Saturday morning with not a clue of that to write on. Still, despite a couple of excusable absences, I always managed to crank out a post I thought was at least somewhat entertaining. A lot of the times I would just start writing and be surprised where the story I thought I was telling evolved into something completely different but always better.

Writing the second half of my book was a similar experience. Though I had brainstormed all 40 chapters ahead of time, it was always interesting to see where the story went once I actually got around to telling it. Entries I had pegged to be shorter ended up growing while some I thought would go on for pages were enhanced with brevity. With each story or essay, I tried to think about what the point I was trying to make was and how I could deliver that lesson as poignantly as I could without pretension.

I finished the first full draft of my manuscript about six weeks ago and it was an amazing feeling. Even more incredible is the feedback and support I’ve gotten from friends and strangers since we announced the book’s publication just a couple of days ago. While it seemed to take an eternity for this day to arrive, suddenly August seems just around the corner and I can’t wait for all of you to get to experience what I’ve been working on.

We’ve created a site where you can download a free sample chapter from the book (and one of my favorites) that takes place on my first trip to the Tokyo Disneyland Resort. There you can also preorder the book for 20% off the list price and I’ll even sign it for you. Plus, if you preorder by July 17, we will print your name in a special section of the book.  Also be sure to vote for your favorite entry from the first six months of The E-Ticket Life blog and we will include the top three choices in the book as a bonus.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that my good friend Aaron Wallace will be writing the foreword for the book. Aaron has been involved with the project since the beginning, as he actually plays a large part in one of the major plots. Having gone through the process while writing his fantastic book The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom, his help was invaluable during the production and he was more than gracious to answer all of my questions (and, trust me, there were a lot). I’m also blown away by the illustrations my friend Ashley O’Neill has prepared for the book so far, including the gorgeous cover design seen below. I believe her art will really help take my stories to the next level and hopefully resonate with all of you.

Thank you all so much for reading this blog over the last few months and helping my dream become a reality. But don’t worry — I’ll still be returning here every Saturday for another venture into The E-Ticket Life. (Also, please ‘Like’ the E-Ticket Life on Facebook and follow it on Twitter. Thanks!)

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