My first book and taking flight as a writer
Writing and publishing a book is a journey of enlightenment for the heart, mind, and spirit. One I have profoundly enjoyed and will absolutely be doing again. I got the bug to become a writer of my own name about four years ago and have been in pursuit of becoming an author since. I could've published something ahead of this book, but I wanted my first book to be about what’s most important in my life and one that I’d be proud of at any point in my future writing career.
It’s a book about my favorite thing to do in this world, spending quality time with my son Åsmund living in our own world of stories and imagination. He and I choose to ignore the current societal obsession of screen-based media in favor of stories, books, games, and a cozy hygge lifestyle.
The Flying Sabuki is the culmination of several years worth of writing practice, Literary Cleveland classes, reading books on writing, hours upon hours of Masterclass.com, and punching page after page on my Royal Quiet Deluxe during the wee hours of the night and morning. It’s been difficult to carve out time to become a writer with all the structural changes of modern American pandemic life. I’ve turned to the writings of Greek stoicism several times over the past year for guidance. I’ve found inspiration in the tiniest of moments and have kept going. Last year I wrote 1.2M words according to my Grammarly account, and that’s not including my typewriter pages. Whew!
The Flying Sabuki first draft was written over the course of one week while Åsmund and I were at Camp Kidura in the NY Adirondacks, the setting and a character within the book. When I got back home I called my friend Michael LaRonn at ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) for a recommendation for an editor. I finished off parts of the manuscript where I noted to add detail and added some polish before sending it to Michael’s recommended editor Beth Lynn.
After getting back the first edit pass, I became apprehensive about moving forward with the book. Beth fixed a lot of tense problems, mainly because I was writing in the moment and after things happened in the wee hours and a few other basic edits.
She loved the book.
I was nervous about the book.
Tina would ask me “Why haven’t you finished [the book] yet?” I would candidly answer, “I really don’t know, actually.” Indeed I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t want to finish editing the book. This was late April, I had written the book in March.
During May I put Escapade, my sailboat, into the water for the first time, and sailing quickly took all of my spare time and attention. We had an epic inaugural season racing the boat taking many podium finishes and a third and second in the two regattas we raced June through October.
Editing the book was not top of mind during the sailing season, but I did work on the cover art during May and June having designer friends take a look and provide feedback finally coming to what is the first edition cover art. Making sure the cover art was spot on for The Flying Sabuki was preeminent in my mind. I know first-hand after working in the world of audiobooks for the past year that cover art is the single most important item in marketing a book.
During the summer I met a NY Times best-selling author, Wendy Lindstrom, through my job and she offered to read my book and give me some feedback. She did this within two days! Wendy didn’t just like it, she loved it. She gave me critical developmental feedback and questions in just the right places to make it read so much better and most importantly she gave me the confidence to want to publish it. This was a turning point.
I fixed a handful of things right away, but this hectic modern American life took over with its seemingly endless responsibilities that block becoming an author like a rabid defensive lineman. Both Beth Lynn and Wendy’s edits sat in the Google Docs until fall. Both checked in to see how things were going. Wendy would drop me an email from time to time and was so remarkably supportive of someone she only knew from a 90-minute zoom call and our email correspondence.
After the boat was pulled out of the water, safely in her cradle, and winterized my thoughts came flying back to the book. I needed to publish it in 2021. I had a goal that I was determined to achieve, fear or not. Life was just jam-packed with the new school year, work, and everything was blocking the final edit. Tina suggested I go back up to Camp Kidura to get the edit done, alone this time.
I went back up to the Camp in November and worked my job remotely from up there, editing the book at night. It was full tilt working and editing 12+ hours a day. I didn’t get any new writing done as I had hoped, but I did finish editing the book on Sunday after being up there for a week. It was a glorious day having gotten through all of the changes and hitting send back to Beth Lynne for the final triangulation.
It should also be noted that Beth and I worked tediously on the book description. Writing a book description is an art unto itself. After the cover, it’s what people use to decide, “Should I buy and read this?” I can’t underscore enough how difficult it is to write a book description. Even after all our revisions, I feel like I could scrap it and write another that’s better. I actually work with a company that’s entire business is writing book descriptions. It’s harder than writing and editing the book in my opinion.
While it felt great to have uninterrupted time to work and edit, it wasn’t the same without Åsmund there with me. There were times I’d well up remembering moments from the book, it was like my own personal Herculean trials getting through it without him there.
During what I refer to as the ‘week of silence’ I realized part of me didn’t want to finish the book. I wanted to be back in it. I didn’t want it to end. I just wanted to be there with Åsmund, living together in our own world, just being us without the rest of the worlds’ involvement.
I was relieved to discover what had held me back and proud to have pushed myself through it.
I cut my travel in half on the way back from the ADK’s by staying in Sodus Point, NY on the water in a little Airbnb. Having emailed Wendy that week we were able to figure out a rendezvous point about 90 minutes from both of us and finally get to meet in person. We chatted for hours and had a wonderful time talking about writing and books.
The final big step was to create my author website which I had started last year when I bought Escapade. It needed to match the book branding, enable me to build an author email list, and imbue the core of what it’s about… taking time to “imagine more”—just like Åsmund and I did in The Flying Sabuki.
Formatting of the book was done in Vellum and I had a wonderful time making sure the design and typesetting matched the aesthetic I was going for. I’m a designer that gets excited about typefaces and Hoeffler is such a pleasure to read in my opinion. I’m so pleased with how the paperback and hardback turned out.
One of my goals as an author was to make sure my book was available in the Library of Congress. This is not a box that always gets checked by every publisher and must be done prior to the book being published. It was important to me and I’m happy my publisher cognition.media will be sending them a copy this month.
The initial feedback from readers has been amazing to hear. I had a colleague text me one night at 9:30 pm saying she was in tears less than 20 pages in. It had struck an emotional chord with a mom of three and I was humbled and elated all at once to have touched someone like that. One mom told me it made her want to go back and do it [parenting] all over again. I’m overjoyed by this kind of response to the book.
My wish is for the book to find its audience naturally and continue to inspire. I hope every parent that learns about it takes a couple of hours to read it. Then pack up the car and head to a special natural place to connect with their child or children and just spend time with them without work, slack, texts, email, social media, and voicemail.
To just be together and imagine more.
To take flight with a Flying Sabuki.