Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Wisconsin and I’m a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. I took a little time off between my sophomore and junior year of college to hike the epic 2000+ mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.
In 1989 to 1991, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, North Africa as a community service worker helping local farmers manage green houses. We were ordered out of the region by decree of the State Department because of the initial Iraq-Kuwait conflict that escalated to the Gulf War.
With my Peace Corps assignment cut short and the US being at the brink of war, I decided to travel to Mexico and Central America where tensions were much more subdued. I learned Spanish in Mexico and Guatemala. When I returned to the states, I endured my career with the State of Texas and continued to reside in Austin.
After nearly ten years of service to the state, I was looking for a change in my career and one that would offer a good compensation package and travel opportunities. I decided to take a military contractor position with a Fortune 500 engineering and construction company to help serve the Warfighters of Afghanistan. During that time I started to write about daily accounts that became the premise of my book.
How long have you been writing for?
This is my first book and memoir. I started writing newsletters to send home about the unique experiences, interesting people and events, and everyday life as a contractor on a military base in a war zone.
What motivates you to write? How did you begin writing?
Unique, interesting, and out-of-the-ordinary experiences motivates me to write because these are instances that are worth living for and create interesting journeys and perspectives in life.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?
I really do not have a writing routine. I write when stories need to be told and I have the time to tell them.
How did you decide to self-publish instead of going the traditional company?
I researched the benefits of self-publishing and the cost difference to an author. There’s also something about the independence, the learning experience, and the creative aspects of self-publishing vs. going through a traditional publishing company.
What was the self-publishing process like? How long did it take?
I thought the self-publishing process would be much easier with better step-by-step instructions and time line, but it wasn’t. I seemed to hit a few roadblocks along the way and ended up hiring a book marketer that had the experience and expertise with self-publishing to do it in a timely manner. It took about a month to obtain the get the self-publishing accounts approved, obtain an ISBN, format and upload the book and e-book, proof, and finally publish. I thought the process would be more instantaneous by downloading my files. That was not the case at all.
Are you currently working on anything new?
No I am not.
If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?
My dream job would be traveling the world and being a travel journalist or photographer.
What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?
One thing that I learned through writing is that present tense has more impact on the reader vs. past tense. I originally wrote my book in past tense because I wrote about things that already happened. I went back, and rewrote and reworked my book in the present to create that greater impact as though the reader was living in the moment with me.
What is your favorite book, genre, or author?
My favorite genre is non-fiction. I like factual, real life stories like a memoir. I love to read the descriptions, details, and feelings written by other authors and how they articulate and interpret them. I can’t say I have a favorite because I have many.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
As a friend and fellow author told me, “Everyone has a story to share; share yours”.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
People live vicariously through others’ lives and adventures. Take them along on your journey.
About Thomas Josef
Thomas Josef is a native of Wisconsin and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. In his mid-twenties, he hiked the 2000+ mile epic Appalachian Train from Georgia to Maine and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, North Africa. He studied Spanish in Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador. With his passion for travel and adventure, he took a military contractor position with a Fortune 500 engineering and construction company to serve the Warfighters of Afghanistan. This is his story of that time and his first book.
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