Monthly Archives: December 2012

SGT Daniels and MWD Aura N679 Dec 3

Military Working Dogs Strike a Pose

SGT Daniels and MWD Aura N679 Dec 3.

MWD Tesa P800

MWD Tesa P800

Last March I visited the Department of Defense’s Inter-Service Advanced Skills K-9 (IASK) Course at Yuma Proving Grounds, Yuma Arizona. During the visit I met April McCoy, wife or Army Staff Sergeant Lee McCoy. Lee is an instructor at the course and you can see him in action in this photo.

SGT Lewis and MWD Lexi T306

SGT Lewis and MWD Lexi T306

April takes terrific photos of the military working dog team training and granted me permission to share her photos on my site.

Thanks April!

MWD Rocki M469, The Supervisor!

MWD Rocki M469, The Supervisor!

All the photos from today’s post are by April McCoy and used with permission.

If you want to see some more pictures from Yuma here are some great ones I took last March.

LCPL Thoryk and SSD Quill T300

LCPL Thoryk and SSD Quill T300

In case you missed or want to revisit a prior week’s military dog picture of the week. Here are the most recent links

The British Army in Afghanistan Goes to the Dogs

The Puppy Program

Search and Rescue Dogs 

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Military working dogs, these special pooches need extra care, like this dog had on patrol (Photo by Jamie Peters 26 Oct 12. Used with permission)

The British Army in Afghanistan Goes to the Dogs

Military working dogs, these special pooches need extra care, like this dog had on patrol (Photo by Jamie Peters 26 Oct 12. Used with permission)

Recently I linked up with a couple of British Army combat camera team currently deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan. They were kind enough to permit me to use their photos.

I don't think the dog was as keen as the military vet to do some training. (Photo by Jamie Peters 12 Dec 12. Used with permission)

I don’t think the dog was as keen as the military vet to do some training. (Photo by Jamie Peters 12 Dec 12. Used with permission)

The comments below the photos are from the photographer. Just a little taste of the “King’s English” for you all today.

I borrowed the below information about the British Army in Afghanistan from Wikipedia .

Another MWD. They really do anything their handlers do include climbing ladders Afghanistan. (Photo by Jamie Peters 10 Dec 12 Used with permission)

Another MWD. They really do anything their handlers do include climbing ladders Afghanistan. (Photo by Jamie Peters 10 Dec 12 Used with permission)

The United Kingdom was one of the first countries which took part in Operation Enduring Freedom to topple the Taliban regime in autumn 2001.

Military Working Dog Who's a Good Boy Then!!!! (Photo by Mike Hubbard 4 Dec 12.  Used with permission)

Military Working Dog Who’s a Good Boy Then!!!! (Photo by Mike Hubbard 4 Dec 12. Used with permission)

As of 11 November 2012 there have been a total of 438 fatalities of British Forces personnel including MoD civilians. The vast majority of fatalities have taken place since the redeployment of British forces to the Taliban stronghold of Helmand province, as prior to deployment in this area only five men died between April 2002 and early March 2006.

Being a British Army working dog is hard work! This little chap is getting some rest! (Photo by Mike Hubbard 11 Dec 12.)

Being a British Army working dog is hard work! This little chap is getting some rest! (Photo by Mike Hubbard 11 Dec 12.)

In all, 395 of the fatalities are classed as killed “as a result of hostile action” and 43 are known to have died either as a result of illness, non-combat injuries or accidents, or have not yet officially been assigned a cause of death pending the outcome of an investigation. The Army has seen the heaviest losses, with 351 fatalities as of 11 November 2012. Typically those killed were aged between 20 and 29 and the biggest losses seen in 2009 and 2010. Of those killed, 434 were male and three were female.

Want more of our British Army 4-legged troopers. Click Here.

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If military working dog Hexa looks excited, it's usually because she's spotted a tennis ball. She's nearly 11, suffering from a neurological disorder which is slowly causing her to go blind, and also has canine post-traumatic stress disorder. She'll be enjoying the retired life with a new, loving family in South Carolina.

Military working dog bids farewell to working life

A couple weeks I posted t……. Military Working Dogs Have Their Day in DC! The Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act passed the Senate by a unanimous vote this on December 5, 2012. The act had already passed the House on May 18, 2012 with a vote of 299 to 120. There is one more step to climb before this act becomes law. The President must sign the act into law.  

So here is a timely example, Military Working Dog Hexa, who served her country and in return asked for two things (I know the author of this story says one (tennis balls) but he missed one essential…… love!). This country is forever indebted to Hexa for the lives she saved in Iraq with her nose and instincts.

This act will provide veterinarian services to her adopted dad, Staff Sgt. Neal Moody. Now Staff Sgt Moody can adopt Hexa, love and care for her without the financial burden Hexa brings because of her medical condition.

Military working dog Hexa, now retired, shows her stuff during a K-9 capabilities demonstration for deploying Marines in 2009. Hexa is a veteran of two deployments to Iraq, but at almost 11 years old, nearly blind and suffering from canine post-traumatic stress disorder, she’s going to a loving family for a relaxing retirement.

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

Story by Cpl. Aaron Diamant

YUMA, Ariz. – She’s spent her entire lifetime locating explosives and apprehending suspects, all in the name of one thing. Tennis balls. That is, if she could tell you what her one thing was. But, to the military, military working dog Hexa has been an invaluable tool, trained to risk her life to safeguard all others from the risks posed by improvised explosive devices.

To all who know and understand military working dogs, they are nothing short of heroes. In her younger years, Hexa deployed to Iraq twice, locating explosive devices and undoubtedly saving countless lives. She was even involved in the Battle of Fallujah, serving valiantly in some of the worst urban combat undertaken in decades.

Lance Cpl. Kristopher Marcum, station military working dog handler, plays with MWD Hexa prior to her final departure from the air station. Even though she's losing her sight due to a neurological disorder, tennis balls get her going like the pup she once was. At almost 11 years old, she's finally retiring to spend her days chomping on tennis balls and sleeping on couches.

Lance Cpl. Kristopher Marcum, station military working dog handler, plays with MWD Hexa prior to her final departure from the air station. Even though she’s losing her sight due to a neurological disorder, tennis balls get her going like the pup she once was. At almost 11 years old, she’s finally retiring to spend her days chomping on tennis balls and sleeping on couches.

Now, her once expressive eyes are now clouded over, a result of her age and a condition which is causing her to slowly drift into blindness. The Shiloh Shepherd’s long, flowing coat shows streaks and patches of gray, evidence of her lifetime of service to her country, but to Hexa, it was all about making her handlers proud and getting to chew on her tennis ball, or any ball in sight for that matter.

In her old age, she wasn’t put to work like she had been in her youth. The station’s handlers were waiting on her adoption package to be approved, which moved Hexa into a caregiver position. She was still brought out of her kennel, played with and loved on, but her working days were done.

It wasn’t rare for her to prance into the office like the princess she is, and immediately start searching the area. This time, it wasn’t for explosives, but rather for toys. Even though her sight is slowly diminishing, her sense of smell is still keen.

Lance Cpl. Kristopher Marcum, station military working dog handler, plays with MWD Hexa prior to her final departure from the air station. Even though she's losing her sight due to a neurological disorder, tennis balls get her going like the pup she once was. At almost 11 years old, she's finally retiring to spend her days chomping on tennis balls and sleeping on couches.

Lance Cpl. Kristopher Marcum, station military working dog handler, plays with MWD Hexa prior to her final departure from the air station. Even though she’s losing her sight due to a neurological disorder, tennis balls get her going like the pup she once was. At almost 11 years old, she’s finally retiring to spend her days chomping on tennis balls and sleeping on couches.

Military working dogs live a somewhat complicated life. Destined from birth to locate explosives or narcotics, as well as apprehend suspects, from the age of mere months, their training begins. For the dogs, it’s a simple thought process: I smell this, I let my handler know, I get my toy and told I’m a good dog.

For the handlers, it’s learning the individual animal. They signs they give, the directions they require, the encouragement they need, the love and admiration they deserve.

The hardest part for any handler is saying goodbye, whether the handler is leaving for another duty station or ending their time in the Corps, or the dog reaches their time to retire.

Hexa’s turn has come at long last. She’s nearly 11 years old, old for any large breed dog, but especially as an active military working dog. She’s being adopted by Staff Sgt. Neal Moody, a former Marine Corps Air Station Yuma military policemen now stationed in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The adoption process involves prioritizing the applications that the Marine Corps receives. MWD handlers have first priority, active-duty military have second priority, and the general population has third priority, according to Marine Corps Systems Command. The Corps does not, and will not, euthanize dogs except for severe medical situations, unlike some nasty rumors on the internet would lead people to believe. 

Luckily for Hexa and her new owner, her conditions weren’t severe enough to warrant euthanasia, and she’ll live out the rest of her life in luxury, even more so than when she was the kennel princess.

As we celebrate Veterans Day, we celebrate the men and women who have courageously served our nation, but let us not forget the brave “Dogs of war” who have served valiantly by their side since the dawn of combat. As Marines, we say there’s “no better friend, no worse enemy.” We’re devil dogs, and so are our actual dogs. 

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John and HB up next to a wall

Honza Bear Hits Pay Dirt

Army Specialist John Nolan’s heart pounded as he stared into the wadi in central Afghanistan. He wasn’t sure what lay beneath the loose, granular dirt.

Was there a 500-pound bomb buried beneath him? If that thing detonated, he would be dead.

This Part V of John and Honza Bear. If you haven’t already…..you may wish to read Part IV or skip back to Part I  prior to reading this one.

Maybe there were some homemade explosive or land mines? If they exploded right now, he might live. He might not.

Christ, this was crazy. Searching for something that could end his life instantly was insane. What the hell was he doing?

HB and the clay potHe missed his wife Cara. She was pregnant with their first child. He wanted to see his little girl born. He didn’t want to die in this Godforsaken shithole of a country.

He looked over his shoulder at Master Sergeant Johnny Ramey who nodded to him. Then he looked past Ramey to the others, the men of the Green Beret team he was assigned to.

Lean, mean and focused—these nine men had nearly 100 deployments among them. The country saw the Green Berets as supermen.

He knew better though. The Green Berets were just men like he was.

They have families.

They have children.

They would die for you, John Nolan. Now you need to make sure they get home safely to their families. Focus, Nolan.

They are your countryman. They need you.

They need the Bear.

Focus on The Bear. Be one with Honza Bear.

He looked down into the wadi which followed the natural contours of the land. During the rainy season the wadi probably carried water. Now it was just another place for the Taliban to set up explosives. Just another place to kill him and his countrymen.

But he had a secret weapon.

The squarely-built, tan, muscular, 100-pound Labrador Retriever moved slowly across the wadi. His nose was low and his tail wagged. He could have been any of the Green Beret’s family dogs back at Fort Bragg North Carolina. But he wasn’t.Military Working Dog Honza Bear Sniffing

A sniff here. A sniff there. Tail wagging. The Labrador appeared to be foraging picnic sites for picnic baskets. But he wasn’t.

Army Specialized Search Dog Honza Bear was on the hunt for explosives.

John followed Honza cautiously. Honza Bear’s yellow stomach was splotched with dark dirt marks. And he looked like he had dark brown mittens on.

What the hell is Honza doing? John wondered.

The local Afghanis said the explosives were in the wadi. Why was Honza Bear leaving the wadi?

Honza Bear paused, his tail wagged more quickly, and his nostrils flared quickly.

John shivered with fear and excitement because he knew that Honza Bear was “on scent.” Honza Bear could smell an explosive.

Honza Bear moved back up into the grape field. He sniffed the three-foot high thick dirt mounds but apparently didn’t like what he smelled. He went back down into the wadi and then back into the grape field.

He knew Honza Bear was trying to pinpoint the exact spot of the explosive. They called this “bracketing” in the dog world.

Honza Bear brushed by him, moving at a trot.

Military Working Dog Honza Bear SniffingJohn froze. He didn’t want to step on the explosive. It could be set up to blow with a pressure plate. His weight would certainly set the explosive off. And he didn’t want the men to step on it either.

“Master Sergeant Ramey, Honza is on scent. Back away,” John said.

Ramey nodded and placed the team into a secure perimeter, allowing John to focus on Honza Bear.

Honza Bear entered the wadi with his nose low and nostrils flaring quickly. He suddenly stopped and craned his neck up and out.

Had he found it? John wondered.

Honza Bear bolted up and out of the wadi, ran to a mound of dirt near the grape field, and disappeared.

What was going on?

“Honza,” John called as he followed Honza’s path. He knew chasing Honza Bear was risky.

It didn’t matter. Honza Bear was his partner.

He hated losing sight of his dog. John began searching the mounds but couldn’t find him. After a minute or so he caught a glimpse of a yellow tail.

Honza Bear had crawled into a hole half his size and was lying down in a final response. The John saw the five-gallon jugs wrapped in plastic inches from Honza’s nose.

John wanted to pump his fist in excitement. Honza and he had found an explosive. It was their first find. But there was no time to be proud or pat himself on the back.

They needed to get the hell out of there before it exploded.

“Honza, leave it, come,” John said.

Hearing his emergency recall Honza leaped up and jumped out of the hole. He rumbled towards John with his tongue nearly dragging on the ground.

John pulled out the dog’s reward–a ball on a rope–and tossed it in the air. Honza caught it in midair and chomped down. John hooked him up to the leash and dragged the euphoric dog from the spot.HB in the GM

Ramey had the team engineer, Sergeant First Class Kingston, inspect the hole and the explosives.

Ten minutes later Kingston returned and reported, “It is 25 pounds of Ammonia Nitrate Aluminum. We can blow it in place. “

It was confirmed. John’s and Honza’s first find! They had just prevented those 25 pounds of explosives from being used to kill or maim their countrymen.

It was an amazing feeling to remove something so destructive from the battlefield. John had just proven their worth to the Green Berets.

Maybe he could do this for a year.

John knew there was much more to find and remove.

And he knew one thing for sure. Today’s find was relatively simple. They wouldn’t all be like this.

But John wasn’t worried. He had Honza Bear.

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SSD Honza

 

John and HB

Our Returning Heroes

With heavy eyes Sergeant John Nolan shuffled through the Norfolk Virginia Airport. A faded green, tan and brown camouflage pack weighed heavily on his sagging shoulders. His right hand tightly grasped a black leash.

John smiled when he saw us waiting for him.

The sergeant had just endured a journey half way around the world from war torn Afghanistan to the quiet and deserted Norfolk, Virginia airport this past Saturday evening.

Sergeant John Nolan and Specialized Search Dog HonzaOn the end of the leash strolled a squarely build yellow Labrador Retriever. The Labrador had a black harness around his torso and the letters MWD emblazed on the side. It was Sergeant John Nolan’s partner, Specialized Search Dog Honza- aka Honza Bear.

Honza Bear pulled at the leash seemingly guiding the exhausted sergeant through the airport.

Their final patrol.

This was one last patrol for the pair on their yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. But this round would lead Sergeant John Nolan to his wife Cara, and their little girl Riley who was born while John served in Afghanistan.

On Saturday, December 9, 2012 Honza Bear guided Sergeant John Nolan home safely.

Excited to see his friends, Honza Bear pulled at the leash to greet the seven or so K9 handlers from the Fort Eustis Military Working Dog kennel who had come to welcome them home.

The fellow handlers hugged their brother in arms Sergeant Nolan while Honza Bear took the opportunity to leap up on each person and give them a special Honza Bear greeting.

Then it was my turn. John’s eye lids were heavy. His movement was slow.

I gave John a “man hug” and said, “Welcome home brother,” as I felt Honza Bear’s powerful front legs on my torso. I rubbed Honza’s head briefly as he sniffed my hand.

I wanted to give Honza a big hug and thank him for taking care of John and the members of the Green Beret team they worked with while in Afghanistan. But I didn’t want to delay John any longer from getting to his family back at Fort Eustis. Besides, now that John and Honza Bear are back at Fort Eustis I can see them anytime.

So I ended our exchange with, “Good work John. Congratulations on your promotion. It is well deserved.”

“Thanks Sir,” he replied.

What I neglected to tell you all is that John was given a battlefield promotion to sergeant last month. This is a huge accomplishment and a well-deserved promotion for John.

Specialized Search Dog Honza gets promoted

Honza also got promoted from Sergeant to Staff Sergeant. That is one rank higher than John. Honza’s rank isn’t official but is tradition amongst K9 handlers….the dog always outranks the handler.

As the group of nine soldiers walked to the baggage claim to secure John’s gear I saw a boy of maybe ten staring at Honza.

“Look mom, look, it is an actual military working dog,” said the boy.

I smiled and said, “That isn’t just any military working dog. That is Honza Bear,” as Honza led the K9 handlers holding his leash to the waiting van.

Honza Bear had his head down, tail wagging and I have no doubt he was sniffing for explosives!

Welcome Home Sergeant John Nolan and Specialized Search Dog Honza!

This week on this site will be dedicated to John and Honza Bear. Stay tuned for their next chapter in their story from Afghanistan on Thursday!

Click the Honza Bear tag below for this K9 team’s story!

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Military Working Dog Rambo

Military Working Dogs Have Their Day in DC!

Back on March 7, 2011 my post informed you that military working dogs are classified as equipment in the military and subsequently:

  1. Retired Military Working Dogs are stranded at their final duty station.
  2. Military Working Dogs receive no medical benefits after retirement.
  3. Military Working Dogs receive no recognition for their faithful service.

I told you that this wasn’t the military doing….rather our politicians. I asked you to write your Congressmen and encourage them to support the Canine Member of the Armed Service Act.

After playing fetch and getting a bath, military working dog Hexa relaxes in the kennel office, but isn't willing to give up her tennis ball. Her eyes are cloudy due to a neurological disorder which is causing her to slowly drift into blindness. But, at almost 11 years old, she's spent her entire lifetime serving her nation and her handlers, locating explosives during two separate deployments to Iraq, one of which included doing work in the infamous city of Fallujah. Having honorably done her duty, she'll now be expected to play fetch, sleep and be loved on by her new adoptive family.

After playing fetch and getting a bath, military working dog Hexa relaxes in the kennel office, but isn’t willing to give up her tennis ball. Her eyes are cloudy due to a neurological disorder which is causing her to slowly drift into blindness. But, at almost 11 years old, she’s spent her entire lifetime serving her nation and her handlers, locating explosives during two separate deployments to Iraq, one of which included doing work in the infamous city of Fallujah. Having honorably done her duty, she’ll now be expected to play fetch, sleep and be loved on by her new adoptive family.

You did and the act passed the House of Representatives in May.

Thank you.

Though we knew the struggle wasn’t over so I asked you to write to your Senators urging them to support this bill. You did.

Thank you

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Pospischil, 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog handler and his partner Wodan, a military working dog, train on an obstacle course at Kirkuk Regional Air Base Jan. 7, 2010. Wodan began his military career in September of 2003 at the age of 2 and has since served six years, including three deployments.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Pospischil, 506th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog handler and his partner Wodan, a military working dog, train on an obstacle course at Kirkuk Regional Air Base Jan. 7, 2010. Wodan began his military career in September of 2003 at the age of 2 and has since served six years, including three deployments.

This week the act passed the Senate and now our four- legged heroes are even closer to being considered members of the armed service.

The act still needs to be signed into law by the President.

There were so many forces behind this act from Lisa Phillips Founder and CEO of Retired Military Working Dog Association to Ron Aiello at United States War Dog Association to you who wrote your legislatures and demanded that this country cares for our 4- legged veterans properly.

Military working dog Max rests in a chair during his retirement ceremony March 23 in the 39th Security Forces Squadron guardmount room. To celebrate Max's distinguished career, members of Team Incirlik, to include many defenders, crowded the guardmount room to pay tribute to the military working dog who aided in protecting the base and residents.

Military working dog Max rests in a chair during his retirement ceremony March 23 in the 39th Security Forces Squadron guardmount room. To celebrate Max’s distinguished career, members of Team Incirlik, to include many defenders, crowded the guardmount room to pay tribute to the military working dog who aided in protecting the base and residents.

As an Army Officer with strong ties to the Military Working Dog Community I say thank you to all that have helped.

I thought it was only appropriate, as a tribute to our retired military working dogs, to share some pictures of our retired heroes!

The featured picture at the top of the page is MWD (R) Rambo (USMC), who now resides with founder and CEO of Retired Military Working Dogs, Lisa Phillips. It was Lisa’s college paper on the subject of retired military dogs, which drew the interest of Congressman Jones, which got this whole ball rolling!Military Working Dog Rambo

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When Does Your Writing Become More Than a Hobby?

Recently my wife’s friend referred to my writing as hobby. Initially I was taken aback and slightly annoyed.

A hobby?

Really?

Does she know how many hours I put into my first novel?

Does she know how much time I dedicate weekly in pursuit of my writing career?

Does she know how much money I’ve invested in getting this career going?

Does she realize how hard it was for me to land a literary agent?

Of course the answer to all these questions is no.

But it got me thinking: when do you graduate from being a hobbyist to being a professional writer. Maybe my wife’s friend is correct. Maybe my writing is just a hobby?

I honestly can’t even pinpoint the nunber of hours I put into my first novel, Paws on the Ground. It has to be in the thousands though. I wrote the first draft in six months while in Afghanistan. I lived and breathed that book. I thought about it constantly, maybe even a little too much–there were way too many subplot. But I digress.

In February of 2011 my brother Brendan was diagnosed with lung cancer which spread to his brain. I had over 85,000 words written in my book at the time. I was still in Afghanistan when I had an epiphany. I made a promise to myself that I would do everything in my power to get my book published. Life is too short not to try.

When I returned from Afghanistan in May 2011, I took my first steps into the scary and intimidating world of publishing. I found myself a wonderful writing coach and editor, the delightful Ginger Moran. This was a huge step for me.

Sure, there is a financial commitment when hiring professional help. But more importantly I was putting my money where my mouth was. Something registered in my brain that said, “Now this is serious. There is no turning back.”

I actually think this is a much harder step for writers than most people think. The publishing world is complex and uninviting. I put myself out there. I was exposed to criticism. I was both terrified and excited.

From May to October 2011, this writing “thing” of mine was only known among a handful of family, very close friends, and literary agents that requested a submission. I don’t believe any of my family or friends took my writing “thing” seriously at this time. So I felt like I was straddling a fence between doing this completely and pulling back to the safety of the military world. Yes, I know the military world seems foreign and dangerous to most, but it’s what I know.

This changed when I attended the James River Writers conference in Richmond. I was surrounded by writers for the first time. Before the conference I was nervous that I didn’t belong. I was nervous that a bunch of writing intellectuals would look down upon me. Again, I was entering a new and unknown world.

Here is what I learned at the conference:

  1. I do belong in this publishing world.
  2. There are many writers just like me–some in more advanced stages, some less.
  3. Like anything, succeeding in the publishing world isn’t only about talent. Your drive and determination can carry you far.
  4. I needed a writer’s platform.

Wait a minute. A platform? You mean I need to expose myself to the whole world?

Yes!

But if I do that I can never turn back. I could fail in front of everyone!

Sure could!

What are you going to do, pal?

I went home and opened a twitter page and started an author’s Facebook page the night the conference ended. But I knew that wasn’t enough. I needed a website.

Now I knew there was no turning back on this writing “thing” I was doing.

But was this still a hobby? I was throwing myself out there. No more straddling the fence. My intentions were clear—in writing on Facebook!

I spent a ton of time learning to build a website. I had no clue what I was doing. I did it anyway. The site looked like I had built it. It was clunky, ugly, but functional. It wasn’t what I wanted.

I knew that everything on that site would represent me. It needed to be polished. It wasn’t.

Lucky for me my writing coach and mentor, Ginger Moran’s, brother is a web designer and branding expert.  I handed my clunky website over to Chuck Moran at Bald Guy Studios and he and his team went to work. They built this beautiful site you are on now.

During this time I also hired an experienced and seasoned independent editor to guide me through a second revision of the book. Yes, all the literary agents who requested submissions rejected me.

Tax time came. For the first time I hired an accountant to do my taxes. We wrote off all my writing expenses as business expenditures.

Now I’m a professional right? I mean the IRS recognizes me as such!

Maybe. Maybe not.

Exactly 13 months after I queried my first agent I finally landed a literary agent, the wonderful Victoria Skurnick at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. Hopefully we will be taking my first novel to the publishers soon!

So to summarize:

  1. I have a product (my novel) & am nearly complete with the first draft of my second novel.
  2. I have expenditures.
  3. I have a website and hundreds of subscribers to the blog.
  4. I have professional representation.
  5. I haven’t made a cent from my writing.

Am I a professional writer or a hobbyist? Honestly, I’m not sure.

I’d like to think this is more than a hobby (I am up at 5:00 AM on a Sunday writing this post). But is it?

When do you become a professional?

Do you have to attain Nelson Demille status to be a professional?

If you write, what would you consider yourself?

What do you think?

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