I’m delighted to welcome Justin Lee with a guest post about writing and publishing his debut novel with a full time job and a young family. First, though, here’s what the book is about…
American businessman Peter Hubley lays sprawled across the floor of a Brazilian airport, cappuccino dripping down what remains of his forehead. Within an hour, his killers are dead and their bodies stolen. When an organized crime syndicate claims responsibility for the savage murder, questions are raised and the case is assigned to Special Agent Nikki Benton.
To Benton, a straight-laced FBI veteran, the Hubley case is an unusual and much-anticipated opportunity to prove herself and get out from under the thumb of her misogynistic boss. But she quickly realizes that nothing about it adds up and she may be in over her head. Her instincts prove true when her prime suspect Ben Siebert, a rebellious ex-Marine with a questionable past, is pressing a Glock 27 to her temple.
The two are forced to work together when they learn that everything – the death of the killers, the public’s assumption Hubley was hiding something, even the case being assigned to Benton – was part of a carefully orchestrated plan…and that they are the next targets. But to stop a formidable perpetrator intent on killing thousands of innocent people, they must risk everything and reveal the shocking truth behind the Hubley case.
The book is due for release on November 6th on Amazon UK and Amazon US
Now over to Justin….
So what’s it like to write and publish a book with a full-time job and young family?
If my experience is any indication, the glib answer is it’s not for the lazy, the easily stressed or those incapable of routine. The more philosophical response is that it requires big-picture thinking in a season where every day is spent doing several small-scale tasks. And for me, in order to ensure all of those tasks added up to a book I was proud of – without impeding my responsibilities a dad or an employee – nearly every moment of the day was (and still is) meticulously scheduled.
Exhibits A, B and C: I have a giant, laminated excel spreadsheet of critical writing tasks and life priorities taped to my bathroom mirror so it’s the first thing I see every day. My desk has a stack of printed, individually numbered sheets of paper on it counting down to the publication of The Hubley Case on November 6th. And just to make sure I keep it every week, I handwrite “Date Night” on my old-school, At-A-Glance calendar. No joke. A typical Monday looks an awful lot like a typical Friday. And if you’ve read the “quirks” section of jleethrillers.com, you know that consistency (to put it generously) is my jam these days. What you might not know is it isn’t innate to my personality. It’s learned behavior due to having a limited number of hours in the day with an (at times) seemingly limitless number of things to do.
The truth is, there’s nothing outstanding about my process. There are lots of ways to go about it. In the end it just takes honesty, commitment and sacrifice. And a whole lot of rinse and repeat. My life is like a German train schedule. That might not sound very glorious, and sometimes it isn’t, but to be the kind of dad and employee I want to be, I don’t see any way around it.
During the year I wrote, edited and worked towards the publication of The Hubley Case, I awoke at 4:21 each morning and “wrote” – a loose term my wife and I use for anything related to the book – until around six-thirty. From then until seven, I played with my kids. Now, if my one-year-old wanted me to walk with him to get the paper and it was 7:02, did I rebuff him? Absolutely. Stick to the schedule, kid. Okay, just kidding. But were there plenty of times I’d take a work call while simultaneously backing out of the driveway, waving goodbye to the kiddos and shoving a flash drive into my pocket to finish a few edits during a 30-minute lunch break? Youbetyourbippy. And that’s just the first two and a half hours of the day. But you get the point.
Lots of folks wake up to exercise, commute, do daily devotions or get a jump on the day in whatever way suits them. So like I said, the process itself isn’t a peek-behind-the-curtain-and-gasp kind of thing. It just involves scheduling your day around what’s most important to you and how you operate (early bird, night owl)…and then sticking to it like bacterial glue. I’ve gotten the “opportunity” to practice the art of persistence throughout this busy season, and so will you.
But I’ve also learned something interesting. Though my college self would balk, I’ve found the less time I have available, the more I get done. And I’d suspect that that applies to many others as well. Years ago, there was certainly more unscheduled, leisure time. In college, I used to frit away hours pretending to study just to flirt – and then literally have to go back to study on my own – with the college girl who eventually became my wife. I tented outside for almost four months with my buddies in below-freezing weather to get into Duke basketball games. I was in four after-work sports leagues after college. And I still didn’t get half the work or writing done that I do now. There’s something about forced discipline that simply brings out the efficiency in me.
These days, my life is a writing-family-job-family-writing-bed daily sequence. Is it sustainable forever? Not a chance. Does it mean that sometimes while watching “Daniel Tiger” with my two kids that I am thinking through the next murder or betrayal in my story? Who doesn’t? Has some of the whimsy (ok, most) in my life has been replaced with spreadsheets and timelines? No doubt about it. But the result has been worth it for me.
Thanks a lot for your support…that’s a big part of what makes the sacrifice worth it. And to those considering balancing the work, family and writing worlds that often don’t overlap much, I hope you found my perspective helpful. Just remember…we don’t usually regret the chances we DO take in this life.
Thanks for reading. Shoot me a note if you have any questions.
“Eu o vejo. Dez horas.”
I see him.
The Sao Paulo International Airport in Brazil was both less ornate and less expensive than its namesake city, a conclusion any visitor couldn’t help but make despite the fact that the five-terminal complex technically resided in Guarulhos, not Sao Paulo. An impenetrable glass wall divided the international and domestic gates, and on both sides of it were dark and matte floor colors, chosen to conceal filth rather than woo tourists. Duty-free shops lined the terminal, offering items at less than half of what you’d pay downtown. Though still steep by US standards, you could get a candy bar for R$6.00, just under three bucks.
It was not, however, any less crowded.
After a visit to one of the wealthiest cities in the southern hemisphere, you’d think Sao Paulo set the worldwide standard for congestion – with eleven million people and a density four times New York City’s – but you’d be wrong.
With twenty million people flying in and out of GRU every year, chaos surrounded long lines for food, shopping, and security. Which was why, when his partner said he’d located the subject, a slight smile crept across his usually stoic face as he shifted his weight and focused.
The man in question was both avoiding the airport congestion and taking advantage of its financial perks, sitting quietly at the far end of a small café, sipping a cappuccino with crushed peanuts and a cinnamon stick while reading USA Today After surveying the surrounding area, noting travelers, security officers, cameras, exits, emergency doors, access points and walking traffic flows, he checked the first page of the red folder he was holding. You could never be too sure. Thirty-eight years old, six feet tall, two hundred fifteen pounds, short, light-brown hair, almost blonde, large hazel eyes, and a dark birthmark just below his left ear.
About the Author
J. Lee lives in the suburbs of Chicago. He graduated from Duke University with degrees in Engineering and Sociology and a minor in Business. In his spare time, he can usually be found playing Frisbee Golf or reading in his La-Z-Boy. The Hubley Case is his first novel. To learn more about or contact him, please visit www.jleethrillers.com | Facebook | Twitter