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Column as he sees 'em

November 14, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Finding humor in local news, such as West Virginia's decision to legalize eating road kill, has been Tim Rowland's calling for the past 10 years, but it wasn't until now that The Herald-Mail columnist decided to put those jeers and jabs into a book.

He has published his first book, "Petrified Fact - Stories of Bizarre Behavior that Really Happened, Mostly," a collection of 86 of what Rowland said were the "wackiest" columns he has written since he became a columnist 10 years ago.

Rowland, 43, of Halfway, said he decided to put the book together, in part, because over the years people have asked him whether he would compile his columns into a book. And, he said, he plans to publish a humor book next year and saw this as an opportunity to learn the ropes of publishing.

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With help over the summer from some Herald-Mail employees who transcribed columns, took his cover photograph and designed the cover, Rowland said his first attempt at publishing a book went almost without a snag: The first 100 of the 180-page books were printed with page 45 upside down.

"There's nothing really serious in this book, there's nothing that really deals with any controversial or emotional issues," he said.

Rowland said he wanted to publish a book that would appeal not only to area fans, but to people anywhere who, like himself, can find humor in just about anything.

Picking 86 columns out of the more than 1,500 he has written over the past 10 years was not easy, he said. While searching his archives, he said, he found "fatal flaws" in some otherwise funny columns, found columns that had lost their humor over time and couldn't find columns that he wanted to include in the compilation, including a piece on why he wouldn't qualify for a Sam's Club membership card.

The book, which costs $12.95, contains columns written about issues from Annapolis, Washington, D.C., Washington County and surrounding Pennsylvania and West Virginia counties. (He said the West Virginia section is his favorite.)

"It's a lengthy documentation of the craziness that you won't find in any other place," he said.

Rowland had 1,000 copies of the book printed, and said if he makes back the cost to print the books, he'll be happy.

Rowland will sign his books this weekend at the St. Mary's Catholic Church holiday bazaar at 224 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown. He will be there Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. He said he'll also sign copies at other times upon request.

The book may be purchased at www.petrifiedfact.com or by writing his publishing company, High Peaks Publishing, P.O. Box 424, Hagerstown, MD 21741.

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