Monday, April 8, 2013

Spotlight on Jim Chernesky, Author of Once a Fan

Author Jim Chernesky
I'm thrilled to feature an author Q&A for this blog post! Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Jim Chernesky for an employee feature in Newsline, our company biweekly employee newsletter. Jim's work on his self published memoir Once a Fan serves as a personal reminder that goals can be achieved through dedication and hard work. Ready to meet Jim?

Jim's bio:
Jim Chernesky is the Process Manager for Electric System Operations. He is originally from Bridgeport Connecticut. His career has spanned 35 years and includes work in training, process and performance management for companies such as Unimation, Westinghouse, PHH Home Equity, Emery Worldwide and Uniroyal Chemical.

Jim is also a professional photographer certified with the New York Institute of Photography and an adjunct faculty member at Post University in Waterbury where he teaches Art History. Jim lives in Oxford, Connecticut with his wife Beth three sons and a granddaughter.

Q: Why did you decide to publish a memoir about sports and the role it played in your life?
A: I started responding to developments, stories and trends in the world of sports that I found particularly disheartening and frustrating based on all my previous great memories of sports when I was growing up. I wanted to provide some frame of reference to a simpler more honest, fun time in watching sports as a fan and playing the games. I wanted to share a time when it was about the sheer joy of playing without  as much emphasis on winning and being number one. I wanted my sons to have that frame of reference even if I didn’t sell one copy outside of our family circle.

Q: How long did it take you to write the book? What was your writing process?
A: I started writing the book in August of 2011 and finished in May of 2012. The book was finally released on the publisher’s website, Barnes and Noble and  on Dec 5, 2012. Since I wasn't exactly Stephen King, It took me a few months to find a publisher and we went through two major edits. Once I captured the facts, stories, memories etc., I gradually began to associate these memories and anecdotes with greater and more applicable life’s lessons. I wrote with the purpose of sharing the past with future athletes, children coaches and parents. I started writing my feelings in a kind of "tongue in cheek" Andy Rooney style of journalism. In short order those stories became what is now Chapter five of the book “Twenty Reasons Why It is So Hard to be a Sports Fan." From there, the book just seemed to write itself. I had no plans to be an author; I have no plans at this point to write another book (although that might change.) My wife reminds me I always have a lot to say about everything.

Q: How did writing this book challenge you?
A: Writing the first draft was like standing under a waterfall with a paper cup trying to catch all the water. I would remember stories and people that seemed to make a point on what I was trying to say. The interesting thing was that it didn't come out in chronological order. I would jump out of bed in the middle of the night with a thought I had to get down on paper. Other days, I would sit down and say, “I think I will write today and I couldn't write one word. Sometimes, I would just remember things, try to capture the detail, and then fit them together later on. The challenge was to arrange the material in an order that followed the purpose of the book so that it wasn't just another collection of personal had a general interest and purpose to anyone who read it. That was difficult but in the end I was very pleased with the result. The publisher also challenged me by providing a hard objective look at what I thought I was saying and what I really wanted to say. The relationship between publisher and author became very eye opening. The initial draft was 102,000 words trimmed down to 82,000 in the final version.

Q: What do you feel are some lessons lost among a new generation of sports fans? Where would you like to see professional and amateur sportsmanship get back to?
A: One of the observations I made in the book is that professional sports, as well as scholastic sports has long since turned into a business. I would like to see a re-emphasis on team unity and fan loyalty, where sports figures aren't moving to a new team for a new deal every year. I would like to see a rule put in place that college basketball players have to earn a college degree before jumping ship to the pros. Somehow, winning has gone from meaning I scored more points that you, to I am a better person than you and my dog is bigger than your dog! I would like to see us return to a more respectful and value based competitive spirit that doesn't include steroids, arbitration or illegal recruiting tactics.

Q: What do you want readers to walk away with after they have read the book?
A: I want readers to experience a renewed sense of respect for sports and life. In sports and in life, you can go from hero to goat, from the top of the heap to the bottom of the barrel in less time than it takes to think you are the greatest!  I want readers (children and adults) to know that it’s ok to lose if you have given it your best and that you will never truly appreciate winning in sports or in life, until you know what it’s like to lose.

Q: How are you promoting your book? Where can people purchase it?
A: I never intended to make the New York Times best seller list. I have been truly blessed to have three of the most incredible sons a father could ever ask for. The book from the very beginning is my legacy to them. My goal was to hand each one of them a hard copy on Christmas Day with a personal message inscribed in each. I actually gave it to them on Thanksgiving Day 2012. The book is available on the IUniverse Publisher’s website. It is also available online with Barnes and NobleIt’s available in paperback and EBook format. I encourage people to also check out Once a Fan's Facebook fan page. 


Anonymous said...

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It's caused by the passion communicated in the post I looked at. And after this article "Spotlight on Jim Chernesky, Author of Once a Fan". I was moved enough to post a thought ;) I do have a couple of questions for you if you do not mind. Could it be just me or does it give the impression like a few of these responses come across as if they are left by brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are writing on additional social sites, I would like to follow you. Would you make a list all of all your communal pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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Aaliyah Miller said...

Anonymous, thanks for the comment and feed back. If I don't count Facebook, Twitter and G+, this is my main site.

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