Saturday, March 2, 2013

Douglas Jacobson, Night of Flames and the Katyn Order

Douglas W. Jacobson is an engineer, business owner and World War Two history enthusiast who has traveled extensively in Europe researching stories of the courage of common people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. His debut novel, Night of Flames: A Novel of World War Two, won the 2008 "Outstanding Achievement Award" from the Wisconsin Library Association. Doug's second historical novel, The Katyn Order, is a story of intrigue and danger, of love and human courage in the aftermath of one of history’s most notorious war crimes. TheKatyn Order received the 2011 "Honorable Mention Award" from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. Doug writes a monthly column on Poland's experience during WW2, and has published articles on European resistance and escape organizations during the war. He lives in Elm grove, WI with his wife, Janie.

About Redbird (writer's studio), I owe Judy Bridges and the whole group most of the credit for what success I've had as a writer. From Judy's course (Shut-up and Write) plus five years of round tables, I learned the craft of writing creative fiction. Everything from creating scenes, to dialog, to point of view - and yes, even 8th grade grammar - were the fundamental building blocks that I got from Redbird. I believe I can tell a good story, and I know how to do the research, but as Judy said the first time she read my initial draft of NIGHT OF FLAMES, "If you want anyone else to read this that you don't have to pay, I can probably help you."
What I love about writing (over and above the research, which is also a passion of mine) is the mental exercise of creating a story and creating charcaters. I love to invent a character, then put he or she into a situation and let both the character and the story evolve as I write. I always (well, most of the time) have an outline of the story in my mind, or at least the fundamental historical events and the endpoint, but I'm flexible about how to get there and let it develop as I write.
The advice I would give to propsective authors is to find a place like Redbird where you can get the support of people who also love to write. Then the rest of it is just perseverence. First the perseverence to finish the work, then the perseverence to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Finally, the publication part is a combination of perseverence and luck. You've got to do the basics (query letters, etc.) and keep on doing it no matter how many rejection letters you get. Don't take it personally, its a business, and sooner or later you'll hit the right editor on the right day, and it will fall in to place.

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