My Writing Journey, Volume 3

Having thick skin is part of being a writer. It doesn’t take too many rejections and you find yourself not talking about one of your favorite activities. When you do learn that someone wants to publish one of your pieces, you tell your writer friends but you don’t tell anybody else.  It might be a fluke, a mistake, an accident.  It might be your last.

So you put your copy on a shelf, list the success on your resumé or more likely, in the day of electronic publication, add the link to the resumé that no one will likely read even if they ask for it, and move on to your next chance to be rejected.

You learn not to tell your family and non-writer friends that you are writing every day because they haven’t rejected you yet.  And they might once you tell them you’re creating and living in a fantasy world that could implode or die with you before it becomes real.  You’re just another nutcase, like that one uncle who hoarded snuff tins or the aunt who collected cats.

No, I don’t believe I had either of those.  But you hear stories.

And sometimes you think the whole world is crazy, so why would you admit you are too?

Back in January, which seems like a long time ago, I signed my contract for the first three books in the Psychic Guardian Angel Series and started telling people.  Actually, I hesitated, expecting to do something to mess it up and finding myself rejected once more. But I started by telling people closest to me.  And heard too often, “I didn’t know you wrote.”

Yep.  You didn’t.  Because I never admitted it.  I’ve always called myself a writer.  But never admitted it to the larger public.

As we moved further into the process and closer to publication, I started talking about the contract and the books.  And it was difficult.  I still couldn’t believe it was real and worth broadcasting.

But time and the process continued on.  I approved cover art on First Casualty.  I went through the first round of edits.  I approved cover art on No Rest for the Dead and Flying Objects.  I went through a second round of edits on First Casualty.

And I learned a lot.  Not all publishers want to receive a book like all the workshops and experts tell you.  You need to start the publicity machine way back when, like before the contract is signed.  Social media doesn’t work like you think it should.  Web pages are simple to create until you try to do it. And expectations are high.  Especially your own.

Family and friends were more excited than I was, thought being a signed author with a book coming out was huge.  It is.  But I was still afraid of something going wrong and the whole thing ending before it began.

Friends and family began to insist on a party. I can party okay, not as well as many, but I don’t know how to party when it’s about me.  And this was.  Or more correctly it was about my book.  Which made it about me.

I began to research book release parties.  It turns out there as many ways to release a book as there are to write one. But we borrowed some of the best ideas, planned a bash and it was way bigger than I could have imagined.

It was getting close and I didn’t have books.  I began to sweat.  “Let’s have a toast to something that will happen someday.” It didn’t have the right ring to it.

The books arrived with three days to spare and looked great.  Yay, it was okay to proceed with the party.

And I was overwhelmed.  The turnout was more than I could have hoped, the interest in First Casualty was immense.  I was awestruck, amazed and humbled. I still get as emotional as I’ve ever let anybody see when I think about it.

So, thank you all for the positive response to my admitting to being a writer.  For all the positive things I’ve heard after people read First Casualty.  Thank you for accepting Jacob Daniels into your world the way you accepted me.  Thank you for letting me be a writer. I am blessed.

And if you’re a creative person, don’t be afraid to admit it.  Your biggest supporters are all around you.

Love to all.  Stay hopeful.

My Writing Journey, Volume 2

On June 6, 2023, LMBPN Publishing released my first novel, First Casualty, to the world as an E-book.  I am a published novelist.  What a huge step!  And I am thankful and excited.

And yet, I didn’t feel any different.

I got up and worked at being a writer, same as every day.

I love the cover art.  I love seeing the book in newsletters, social media and the digital marketplace.  I’m learning to love talking about myself as a writer and about my books.

I’ve heard from people who have purchased the E-book and are enjoying my writing.  Some of them didn’t know I was a writer until I started working to change that, which didn’t happen until I had a release date.

But I still didn’t feel any different.

How is it that life-changing or potentially life-changing events don’t make you feel different?  Is it because you are still who you are?

I think of the people I’ve lost.  They are gone and I’m devastated. But the world continues on unchanged, as if it doesn’t even notice the difference.

I retired from my career in the printed circuit industry last year.  One day I was working, the next I wasn’t. I barely noticed the change.  The commute was shorter, but I didn’t miss going or doing the work.  Probably because I immediately filled the void with the other activities I had going at the time.

Maybe that’s the key:  fill your life with things you enjoy and love, and when a change comes, shift your focus just a little and keeping doing the things you enjoy and love.  The things you are no longer doing become harder to miss.

Not that the losses do not exist; they always will.  And you will have to grieve the losses and possibly the changes, especially if what you lost was something you enjoyed and loved. But maybe you can distract yourself a bit so the losses are not so overwhelming.  They’re just mixed into what you love and enjoy and are part of the journey.  They are an alteration instead of a roadblock.

Maybe I’ll feel differently as a published novelist when the paperback version comes out and I can touch it, hold it, smell it, fan through the pages, when it becomes tangible.

But I doubt it.  Because I still need to get up and do the work.

I need to work the marketing of First Casualty.  I need to work on the next book.  And I need to continue the rest of the work that makes up life, like family and friends, the house and being a responsible world citizen.

As for today, I need to keep moving, celebrate milestones and keep writing.  But I don’t need to mow the lawn.  I did that last night.

My Writing Journey, Volume 1

It’s spring, it’s already too hot, the grass is looking dry and the weeds are flourishing, trying to turn temperate Minnesota into a jungle.

As I try to contain and remove plants that were deposited into our flower beds by the wind, birds as they do a fly over, or rhizomes crawling along the ground, I am amazed and impressed at the adaptability and tenacity of nature as it tries to do its thing:  to spite our efforts, or in an attempt to contain us, I’m not sure.  I just know I’m feeling as if I’m pulling the same weeds every time I manage to get to the ground and join the struggle.

Tenacity and adaptability helped me in my jobs as I rose from an entry level machine operator to positions of responsibility and leadership.  I kept at the job and continued to try and get better, smarter and more efficient.  I believe my past employers would tell you I was successful at that.

I used the same tenacity and adaptability when writing.  I learned, I edited, I got better.  I never gave up.  I referred to writing as my retirement plan as I went to my computer and worked on it a little bit, or a lot, every day.

I had faith in myself, my dream and my writing.  And at the right moment, I presented the right piece of work to the right publisher and I have a novel coming out, as I write this, in 7 days.

I was that weed that never gave up, kept coming back to the words, to the surface and the light no matter what the obstacle.

And the biggest obstacle was often me.  Doubt, laziness, frustration.  But I managed to keep at it, to keep writing, to keep challenging myself.  I knew I had a good story.  It came to me in a dream.  Or more accurately, a nightmare.

I believed I would reach this point.  I honestly never thought I would.  The odds were too great.  But here I am.  I should probably buy a lottery ticket.

The point of all of this is, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it, keep getting better.  It is difficult, it is scary, but in the end the effort is always worth it.  Whatever you’re doing, it’s part of you.  Potentially a large part, like writing is for me.  So be the best you you can be.  And keep getting better at being you.  We’re all works in progress.

Salute to Our Community, Volume 1

The Twin Cities has always been praised for the high quality of its theater community.  And that praise is well deserved.  We have many fine theater companies and performers presenting excellent and sometimes adventurous works.

We recently attended the Anoka High School Theater’s production of the Wizard of Oz.  It was apparent why we have such an excellent theater community in our region:  we start them young.

The acting, singing and dancing included in the Wizard were of a level that could not have been learned just this year.  These young people have obviously been dedicated to working on their craft for a major portion of their lives.

As a writer and wannabe musician, I think having the arts in a person’s life is necessary and rewarding.  Sometimes it can turn into a career.  If it doesn’t, the arts are still an important aspect of who a person is and who they become.

The cast from Anoka displayed talents and skills that I believe are worthy of a career.  If they choose to pursue that, I wish them success and look forward to seeing them on the stage or film or TV again.

If they choose not to pursue the arts, I wish them the best in their chosen fields.  And I believe their backgrounds in the arts will serve them well wherever they go.

And I know, the Twin Cities theater community will welcome them with open arms, either as performers or patrons.  We are looking for our audience, and we are part of a much larger audience that needs all of the arts in our lives.