After 38 Years I Learned I Didn’t Have to Wait for Others to Say Yes to Me

Phyllis Zimbler and Mitchell Miller at the Coronation Ball at Michigan State University on Saturday, November 18, 1967, sponsored by the Cadet Officers Club and the Arnold Air Society

Phyllis Zimbler and Mitchell Miller at the Coronation Ball at Michigan State University on Saturday, November 18, 1967, sponsored by the Cadet Officers Club and the Arnold Air Society.

From almost my first moments as a new Mrs. Lieutenant in the spring of 1970 — right after the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four Kent State University students protesting the Vietnam War — I’ve wanted to tell the story of this incredible time period in my life and in the life of the nation.

Only six years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, I was thrown together with a diverse group of new officers’ wives — women who would never otherwise know each other let alone socialize together.

Yet for the first 20 years after this experience I told people about the story without writing it. Then two women optioned the story to make a movie. But they returned to me and said I had to write a book first because Hollywood people didn’t “get” the story.

By the time I’d written the first draft, the movie producers had moved on to other projects. And then followed years and years of learning how to go from being a journalist to a novelist while rewriting and rewriting the manuscript.

I even paid a book consultant to tell me what was missing from the story because I kept getting favorable reactions from test readers with the note “something’s missing.” Every penny of that consultant’s fee was worth it because he figured out what was missing.

The main answer? A clear timeline of events as each chapter is told from the POV of one of the four female protagonists.

In the closing months of 2007 my business partner urged me to consider self-publishing. But I envisioned self-publishing as those vanity press publications where you had to buy 5,000 copies of your book and store them in your garage — if you had a garage!

Turns out that the internet has changed the publishing industry as much as it has changed the music industry. There are now print-on-demand publishers. You pay for your book to be published, but you only have to buy as many books as you want printed at any one time.

And if someone orders your book on Amazon, that one book is printed and shipped to the buyer, who probably won’t even know the book was self-published through a POD publisher.

My first epiphany

That was the moment of my first epiphany. I said to myself: “I’m too old to wait for someone to say yes to me. I’m going to say yes to myself right now.”

And I contacted BookSurge, the POD arm of Amazon, and started working with the company to design the book cover the way I envisioned it.

Caution: In retrospect, if I hadn’t taken advertising design courses years and years ago at the then-Philadelphia College of Art and always been interested in how ads transmit their messages, I probably should have first consulted with a book cover designer before deciding on what I wanted my book cover to look like because a book’s cover is so very important.

As it was, BookSurge designers did a very good job of coming up with what I wanted to do — make a strong statement about the diversity of the four female protagonists.

My second epiphany

I could say the rest is history, but that’s not exactly true. At the same time I submitted my manuscript to BookSurge to start the three-month process, I submitted the book to the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition.

MRS. LIEUTENANT was named a semi-finalist, and we each got a page on Amazon with the beginning of our novel. Through an online conversation with other semi-finalists, I noticed that one author had a blog post on her page.

That was it — the second epiphany moment. I said: “I have to get this too.”

And I was off and running in a concerted effort to learn as much as possible about internet marketing, starting with launching the blog

My subsequent activities to that first blog include other blogs, other books (including ebooks about book marketing on Amazon), and an ongoing effort to support our troops via online activities.

Check out my info at as well as my three Amazon author pages:

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