I was four years old when Dad took me to work with him on a Saturday morning. He was career Navy assigned to Whidbey Island Air Station in Washington State.
He placed a large, puffy headset on my ears, and sat me in the cockpit of the B-29 while he worked on the plane. I listened to the calls from the tower to the pilots and watched as other planes took off and landed. Even though I wasn’t allowed to touch any of the pretty knobs and dials, I still thought I was in line to take that bird up. The waiting for my turn, and the circle of military planes in action, kept me quiet until it was time to go, except to my surprise, I was only going home. I cried like only a four-year-old can, loud and long. I think the sound may have rivaled any jet engine on the runway and dad may have wished for a set of industrial-style earmuffs.How many years did you spend in Anacortes, Washington in the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest?
Anacortes is the first island in Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the only one connected to the mainland by a bridge. It is truly God’s country with the Cascade Mountains to one side and the Canadian Rockies on the other. It’s located ninety-miles north of Seattle and ninety- miles south of Vancouver, BC.
I feel so blessed to have been raised in a community where kids had a chance to be kids. We were probably the last generation of free-range children who could leave home after breakfast and not return until dinnertime. Parents never worried that something horrible might happen. Every mother in town was our mom and if we got in trouble or worse—caused trouble, our parents knew about it before we got home. I lived there from the time I was four until I was fourteen and left abruptly for Chicago to live with relatives after my mother died unexpectedly.When did you start believing that darkness can be replaced with light?
It’s been a lifelong process and as long as I . . . actually, I prefer to say we because this is not a solitary struggle. When we face conflicts in our lives where we feel, or truly are powerless, we all wrestle with the yin-and-yang of living. What we all try to avoid is our darkest hours, but if we think about it, that’s where true change is birthed. It’s messy. It’s painful. It’s filled with unexpected events but in the end, there is a newfound strengthening of spirit, the freedom of independence, and a well-earned sense of confidence and joy. If we can reflect on the circumstances and the choices we made and know in our hearts we made them with kindness, respect, and love, then we may also experience an inner peace we didn’t know possible.Why did you choose to become an Indie Author?
I’ve been a freelance writer for over forty years so I felt comfortable publishing on my own. Even though I was familiar with writing, editing, and publishing, there is so much more to learn before bringing a book to market. I thought this would be a great way to learn about the business as I honed my craft. It is! What I love about it is, in this day and age with all the industry changes and challenges, authors are discovering a mix of indie publishing, traditional, and hybrids to showcase their work. It’s a great time to be a writer.How did your career in media and broadcast begin?
I can’t help but chuckle at this question. I was about twenty-three at the time and living in Chicago. A friend of mine asked me to meet her downtown. Neither one of us took into consideration, it was St. Paddy’s Day and there was no way to cross State Street because of the parade. Even the subway entrances were closed. So, as I watched the parade, waved to my friend on the other side of the street, and waited for the crowds to clear, my attention was drawn to a front page story in the newspaper at the corner newsstand.
There was a new radio station in town; an all-girl jazz station, WSDM-FM. The Program Director told the reporter he didn’t like to hire DJs with previous broadcast experience. I’d been looking for a job and was thrilled by what I’d read. I met his qualifications. I’d never even been inside a radio station. I called that afternoon and set up an interview.
A few days later, the receptionist led me to a darkened room with one bare bulb hanging from a wire overhead. There was a War of the Worlds microphone centered on the table before me, and three pieces of copy placed next to my left hand. Three somber looking men filed into the room. One-by-one, they took turns explaining what was expected of me:
“Read the copy several times using different inflections each time,” the first man said and stepped to the left.
The second man stepped forward and instructed, “Talk to the side of the mic so you don’t pop a pee,” then stepped to the right. I must have looked confused because he clarified, “It’s so you don’t distort the sound.”
I nodded as though I understood.
The third man stepped forward, looked me in the eye, and commanded, “Wait here, we’ll be back.” Again, the three filed out of the room, one-by-one, the last one closing the door. I inhaled a deep breath and did exactly as they asked then, sat back in the chair and waited.
The room looked like a 1940s interrogation room (minus the smoke) with the bare bulb and blackened Styrofoam walls—not that I’d ever been in one. But I do watch movies. I’ve seen those rooms.
I reached up and gently tapped the side of the light’s casing. It swung back and forth and then in a slow circle. The arc created a distorted pattern of light all over the room.
There still were no men in sight.
I began to feel the absurdity of the moment and added to it by doing the few sound effects I’d taught myself over the years. I leaned into the microphone and laughed as I heard the wings of a bird fly by. That was me? I thought with a giggle. I did that? A grin crossed my face. WOW! I revved up the engine on an imaginary race car and squealed the tires through the imaginary turns. The whole room was filled with sound.
I heard the click of the door and quickly sat back in the chair, folded my hands in my lap, and waited to hear my fate.
They stood around the table, these three men with straight-lined lips and arms folded across their chests. We listened to the readings, and then the critique began. It wasn’t bad. In fact, it was pretty good until the bird flew into the room. They looked at each other with surprise, and then at me. By that time the race car was revving up.
“Who forgot to turn off the recorder?“ the lead man asked. The younger man in the back sheepishly nodded and quickly left. The leader spun and looked at me. “Is that you?”
Before I could blush any redder, I nodded yes. They burst into laughter and in unison said, “You’re hired.”
I love to tell people how I started. As it turned out, I was trained by some of the icons in Chicago’s radio history and I owe them all a debt of gratitude. I mention this to encourage everyone to follow your dreams. There are many entrances to opportunity, and if you are not fortunate enough to enter through the usual channels, try something creative. As Yogi Berra said, “If there’s a fork in the road, take it.”What is the most important part of freelance writing for you?
For me, there are three steps I follow and it seems all else falls into place. This is the promise, I try to fulfill:
1. Know my subject and/or research what I don’t know. 2. Have my manuscript professionally edited. 3. Always give the reader my very best.From where did you collect all the information to bring a family tree to life while writing “Begotten with Love”?
The very first place was my Grandmother’s Bible on my father’s side of the family. When Uncle Spike died, my Aunt handed it to me and said, “. . . this contains the family’s history, at least a part of it. It’s up to you to find the rest.” She looked at me for a long moment before she added, “By the way, your maiden name is not Elliott.” I was thirty-five years old and at that moment had no idea who I was. That was the beginning of the Begotten with Love odyssey. I spent countless hours viewing records on micro-fiche, read old newspaper articles and historic maps, searched through courthouse records, visited churches, walked cemetery grounds, studied military records, attended genealogy group meetings and museums, wrote letters to strangers with familiar names, traveled to hometowns and foreign lands, interviewed newly found relatives, read journals and historical books, studied documents on Ancestry.com, and Googled it. There is a five page bibliography in the back of the book. I made it a point to list many of my sleuthing paths in this article in case someone is interested in researching their ancestry and don’t know where to begin. I also have a forty minute presentation called “Stalking Dead People,” if someone is looking for a guest speaker for a ZOOM meeting.What challenges did you face while writing your book, TRAPPED Within?
I finished the manuscript four months after enduring a major hemorrhagic stroke (left side) that affected the thalamus. I was totally paralyzed on my right side, unable to talk, walk, or see straight. The staff in the rehab facility where I lived for three months knew I was a writer and encouraged me to write a book about my experience because there was so little available from a survivor’s point of view. What the medical community relied on were books based on treating physical limitations that they studied in school. They were book learned. There are so many transitions besides physical that a stroke survivor experiences. It was the most difficult thing I’ve written to date because it meant laying bare to the whole world all my pain and brokenness if I were going to pen an honest story.
As far as writing the story itself, my right hand was still so weak that I couldn’t spell a word if it meant using it. The fingers rested on the keys and gave nice long lines of ooooooooooo or kkkkkkkkkkkkkk to the point that spell check finally ignored me. I finished it and was pleased with the content but knew it was not polished enough to be published, so I stuck it in a drawer and forgot about it. To tell the truth, I had to overcome my fear of feeling so vulnerable. It sat for twenty years.How do you think business management helped form you into the award-winning indie author you are today?
People may think of writers as being creatives which we are, but if we’re serious about our craft, we must also realize we’re producing a product that has a dollar value. If we are going to ask the industry to support us, it must make financial sense to them to represent us and our writings
For me, organizing as a business, surrounding myself with good teammates, continuing to attend writer’s workshops and conferences, and reaching out to readers through book club events and right now, ZOOM meetings made the most sense and I’ve never regretted going the extra mile.How do you begin your research for your writings, and how do you decide which sources are credible?
It really depends on what your writing as to which comes first, the story or the research. The best advice I can offer is write what you know. The rest will fall in line. As far as the research portion of it goes, that also depends on what you’re researching, people or places or events? The more information you can gather, the richer your story will be. Never settle for less than three to five sources for a person and if you’re unsure of the validity, follow a journalist’s instinctive motto JDSR. Keep digging if it just doesn’t smell right.Since how long have you been living in Florida with your husband and Scottie, Lucy?
Twenty-four years.Did you expect your book “Begotten with Love” to become an award-winning book? What was your reaction?
When it was entered, I had hopes that it would make it to the finals, but I had no idea it would be the number one book in Biography for the Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Awards that year. The FWA is one of the most prestigious writers organizations representing Florida writers. The winners are announced at a beautiful banquet with all the attendees and spouses from the writer’s conference in attendance. It’s an intoxicating experience made even better by friends and peers cheering you on.Do you encounter writer’s block often? If so, which book of yours did you get stuck on the most and what are some things you did to get your brain working again?
I find for myself I get stuck the most when I try to force the story to stay on script. There comes a time when the characters are what drives the plot and I suggest letting them have their way. Most of the time, they’re right. I also find when nothing is coming to mind, not even a grocery list, it’s time to get up and walk away. Go do something that energizes you, makes you happy. You’ll come back with a whole new attitude.What does literary success look like to you? Do you think you’ve achieved it?
I don’t think in such terms and really don’t know how to answer this question. I write because that’s who I am. I hope when people read what I’ve written, they’ll come away feeling life can be whatever they make of it. I hope they’ll feel enlightened, comforted (if need be), happier, and more hopeful but as far as literary success? I still don’t know how to answer that.When did you join AllAuthor? What do you think of the experience so far? Do you have any feedback?
I joined AllAuthor about four months ago after an author friend, Wendy Wilson Spooner, “Once Upon an Irish Summer” suggested I join. I’m grateful she did.
I love the tweets posted every Wednesday on my behalf. It’s taught me how important continuity and repetition are to an author’s platform.
Jo Ann Glim has been a freelance writer for over forty years. Written in a very catchy and tantalizing way, her memoir, Begotten With Love is an entertaining read. Her memoirs are a story of hope, courage, and determination. Glim's three-pronged career of broadcast and print media, freelance writing, and business management formed her into the award-winning indie author she is today.