BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho - We've all said it -- I'd like to write a book someday. How and where do you begin? Eyewitness News anchor Todd Kunz talked with a Bonneville County man who said the same thing years ago, but he actually delivered. He's now trying to make a name for himself as an author. Kunz asked him to share his secret.
"And then I thought, that might make an interesting book," said Mel Reisner.
It begins with a simple idea, a Vietnam-era novel about conquering the struggles of life against a college football program backdrop.
For Reisner, it began in college as an English literature major, with the hopes of one day becoming a creative writer. In 1967, his first job out of school was at the Idaho State Journal. Little did he know his journalism career would span 40 years. He joined the Associated Press in 1974 and started writing "The Leather Man."
"I found out getting off at midnight or 1 a.m. and going home to write for three or four hours didn't work so well," said Reisner.
Balancing life, work, book writing, and family proved to be a challenge for the author and "The Leather Man."
"After I cranked out about 40,000 words, I gave it up," said Reisner.
The idea simmered. Years later, his daughters found the old copy and started reading it.
"They said, 'Gee, this is good you know'," said Reisner.
They transcribed it to computer disc and gave it to dad for Fathers Day, with encouragement to finish it. He told them it would not happened until retirement. He's been retired for eight years now -- time to write.
Mel said he was born with a love of writing and his father encouraged him. At age seven, his dad asked him, 'Why not write a book about animals?'" said Reisner.
"I said, 'I guess I can do that,' and he said, 'I'll give you a penny a page,'" said Reisner.
Mel wrote 81 pages.
"I thought I was rich and two years later, I did one that I have on my blog somewhere and it was 326 pages, and my dad actually bound that as a book and I still have it in my family," said Reisner.
Encouragement from his family gave birth to "The Leather Man," but what advice would he give? The hardest part, he said, is needing an agent. A lot of publishing houses will not deal with you directly.
"If you can break through and catch the attention of someone," said Reisner.
Then prepare yourself for the returned letters.
"With mine, they were all rejections. So I just threw up my hands and started studying self-publishing," said Reisner.
From there, it's really up to you.
"It's the same thing writing as any other success in life. You get the idea and then you just start and then you just work your tail off," said Reisner.
Set a goal. Mel's was 1,000 words a day.
"And you do it that night, and you come back the next night and do it again, and again, and again, and again. And you do it five to six days a week and you'd be surprised how it mounts up," said Reisner.
Mel has already written a second book. It's about hitchhiking with a friend for five months across Europe through 23 countries in 1960. You can find his books on barnesandnoble.com or amazon.com and they will print a copy on demand.
Mel has two book signings coming up. The first is in Old Town Pocatello Friday, Aug. 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Walrus & Carpenter Books on Main Street. The second one is Saturday, Aug. 16 at Barnes & Noble In Idaho Falls at 1 p.m.
You can also find his blog at melreisner.blogspot.com.