Blue Star Families’ Director of National Guard/Reserve Outreach, Danette Hayes, has written a book about her National Guard family’s experience with activation and deployment. We asked Danette to tell us about the publishing experience and how the book came about. You can purchase 400 Days now and 5% of the proceeds will go to support military families.
I was approached by a local newpaper columnist to do an interview shortly before September 11, 2009, based off a letter I sent to the editor. Turns out the letter was too long to publish as a letter but they wanted to do an interview.
The day after the article appeared my blog received thousands of hits. It was then the columnist suggested I turn my blog into a book. I didn’t have a publisher, nor did I have an agent. Publishing has changed so drastically from the days of old when a publisher and agent were needed. Today, Amazon.com offers publishing on demand or (POD). I enlisted the assistance of a qualified and experienced editor, Tammy Barley, who helped me take the blog and weave a personal story through the blog entries so that any reader could find themselves entrenched in my story as if they were also there.
My story isn’t typical but no military families story is typical. The book highlights the everyday life of any family but also shares the personal feeling of loss and separation through deployment. The final chapters deal with reintegration, this “new” normal that’s been coined by professional staff to define what military families are now experiencing. It’s funny but at the same time raw. It doesn’t matter where our soldiers serve, whether it’s Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Korea or stateside. All deployments bring uncertainty and families are learning how to maneuver this ever changing landscape we now call “new normal.” Not all families can have an adventure like I was offered, but for my husband this was a way for us to deal with our separation, looking forward.
It’s been a nine month process but the CreateSpace website makes it easy and professional. The book cover was illustrated for me by a family artist who was able to take a photo of my husband and his troops as they canvassed the mountains in Kosovo for drugs and human trafickers and draw it for the cover. Because CreateSpace is a division of Amazon.com, the book will also be available through Amazon.com and featured for 30 days.