I AM AN AUTHOR!! You’ve seen the book, now hear the story

My Bucket List: Publish a book!

Once upon a time in 2010, I was in my parent’s living room watching The Today Show, and a celebrity was bragging about her new book. Seriously, just because she has a famous name, like SO MANY other celebrities, she wrote a book. And she’s probably going to make more millions off of it.

My reaction: “If she can write a book, then I CAN TOO,” spoken with that much enthusiasm and even a bit of slight. I already knew what it would be about. 

Forget fiction, I’m no good at making up stories. I do, however, have a lot of experience from my own stories of having traveled the world for the last (at the time) seven years. My own experience, which has influenced many people in my life to come to me with questions about how they can achieve any number of things having to do with international travel.

From where to buy a backpack, to how to get a visa, to how to get a good deal on a plane ticket, to where to go in this or that season, to what to do with their cell phones, I have gotten every question imaginable.

I love these questions because I love talking about travel. So to each question, I would give answers that filled emails, phone calls, or coffee dates. I love every minute of it, but it is very time-consuming. Insert light bulb overhead here.

After seeing that episode of The Today Show, my mom and I got in the car on that sunny day to go run some errands, and what do I hear on the radio but Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.” Here are the lyrics that slapped me in the face and got the gears in my brain spinning at a million miles an hour as I stared out the window:

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Seriously, that song played. Coincidence or kick in the butt? I have no doubt that it was the latter, and that is where it all began.

I used to be really good at writing research papers. I suppose I still would be, but I gave up that pesky task as soon as I graduated from college. Anyway I picked up a pen, actually I opened up my new Macbook, and began creating an outline. The information, subjects, categories, and sub categories came so quickly and easily that I was basically staring at the skeleton of my book before I knew it. Along the way I wrote, edited, added and refined categories, as I added three more years of experience to my travel resume.

At the beginning of this year (2013), I quit my day job and became a self-employed entrepreneur. I finally had the time I needed to devote to writing, and I busted out half of the book in the first half of this year. One day while I was sitting alone in my house, typing away, I stopped. I sat back, staring at my screen, and had to call a friend. “I think I just finished my book…” All the categories (chapters) and sub categories (sections) in the outline were crossed off… DEEP BREATH.

I immediately knew I would be able to accomplish my goal of publishing by the end of 2013. I have to especially thank my dad who read the entire thing finding my silly mistakes like incorrect punctuation, misspelled words like “adn,” I know, “and” is a tough one. I also have to thank my dear Sabrina for contributing sketches of my little travel and budget bugs (an amazing idea she came up with all by herself- you just have to see them), as well as Sue and Andrea for helping me come up with just the right title. And I can’t forget my husband Nate, who supported me while I complained every single night about the most grueling design and formatting phase I never knew I would have to go through. Honestly, writing a book is the easy part, it’s getting through the editing, titles, formatting, and publishing that is the death of many books I’m sure. To say that the design and formatting phase was a trying experience would be a massive understatement. But guess what!

Author Jackie Laulainen with First Book

I got through it, and even submitted for print in time to receive my FIRST COPY before we left on our trip to Europe!! WHOA. It is real, I can hold it in my hands and feel it and flip through it, and it has MY NAME on the front cover!! I am a published author. The sense of relief and accomplishment is almost too much for words.

Thank you to all of you who have supported and encouraged me in my travels across the world for the last ten years, this book would not have happened without you (and your questions!). Thank you for taking me on this journey.

This is how The Aspiring Traveler’s Handbook: A preparation guide to international travel came to be. If you want to further support me, purchase your own copy of the book (orders are now live!) you can check out the sale page on my website (which was inspired by the book as well, and now I’m a travel blogger- oh how things progress!) Thank you!

Maybe I’ll get to be on The Today Show someday, talking about my book…