A Dream Realized!

This is a follow-up to our post from July 22, 2017 (“Why Is the Book Taking So Long?“) in which we discussed how impatient we were all feeling about seeing the book in print.

The great new is: the book has been printed! We received the first shipment yesterday. It’s being shipped to booksellers this week, and it will be on the shelves in early January.

I took advantage of this happy event to recap what it took to bring this book to you. It’s just a brief snapshot of some of the milestones and hurdles that Mike and I as authors went through to put together a non-fiction book. (And many of my author friends have remarked about how FAST this book came about.) The milestones don’t take into account  the hundreds of emails, scheduling the interviews, checking facts, handling administrative issues, etc.

Oh yes, and sitting at the computer to try to write more than 1,000 words per day for a three-month period at the end of last year. This book has literally been my life for the past 981 days.

Here are some of the stats and milestones:

  • Book idea first discussed: April 9, 2015, 12:40 pm
  • First book scoping meeting: April 13, 2015, 2:00 pm
  • First interview: Pam Melroy, April 28, 2015, 5:00 pm
  • First draft chapter (“Silence and Shock”) completed: September 13, 2015
  • First inquiries to potential literary agents: November 22, 2015
  • Literary agent selected: March 31, 2016
  • Contract signed with Skyhorse Publishing: August 25, 2016
  • Final phone interview: Dan Sauerwein, October 25, 2016, 6:30 pm
  • First draft of all chapters completed: January 8, 2017
  • Second draft completed: January 18, 2017
  • Rewrite begun to incorporate reviewer comments: February 3, 2017
  • Manuscript submitted to publisher: March 14, 2017
  • Advance Reader Copy received: August 22, 2017
  • Last reviewer comments incorporated (Adm. Hal Gehman): September 5, 2017
  • Final proof approved: November 17, 2017
  • First print run: December 8, 2017
  • Mike opens first carton of printed books: December 15, 2017, 1:00 pm
  • Number of phone, in-person, and group interviews conducted: 99
  • Number of people interviewed: 82
  • Number of astronauts interviewed: 15
  • Hours of interviews conducted: more than 150
  • Number of interview words transcribed: 650,343
  • Primary source documents researched: more than 200


Mike and I set off on this journey on April 9, 2015 at 12:40 pm at Crackerjacks in Titusville, Florida. Here’s a photo taken right after Mike brought up the idea of a book about his experiences in the Columbia recovery and reconstruction.


And here’s Mike opening the first carton of printed books on December 15, 2017 at 1:00 pm. If you’re keeping track, that’s 2 years, 8 months, 6 days, and 20 minutes later.

There aren’t words to convey how incredibly powerful this experience has been for me as an author. What an honor it has been to sit with people as they relived their experiences in what most of them called the most important thing they had ever done. Each person to whom I talked took a hero’s journey that ultimately resulted in contemplating his or her purpose on this planet. You don’t get any more real than that. There weren’t any casual spectators in this story. Everyone’s life was changed by the events of 2003 and their aftermath.

My life was forever changed by researching and writing this book. I hope your life will be changed after you read the story.

Mike and I can’t wait to hear how readers will respond to the book. We encourage you to send us your comments and if you feel so moved, to write a short review on our book page on amazon.com. You can also look for us on Goodreads.

Author: Jonathan Ward

Jonathan Ward is an author of books on the history of American manned spaceflight. He also serves as an adjunct executive coach at the Center for Creative Leadership.

11 thoughts on “A Dream Realized!”

  1. So happy for you, Jonathan, and for you Mike. The intervals are interesting: four months from initial inquires to agents until picking one; five months from first chapter to first draft; then just ten days from first draft to second. The longest interval is nine months: from submitting your manuscript to the publisher until final approval.


    1. Thanks, Janet! (Three guesses as to your Christmas present…) It’s really hard to comprehend that it’s been a year since we were finishing the first draft. I’m not sure where the past 12 months have gone! There were a few weeks and months of down time in there. But we are in super-high activity mode now as we prepare for the book launch next month.


  2. Seeing the finished product yesterday was very emotional for me. So many memories came flooding back again. And this after experiencing that same reaction hundreds of times over the last 3 years, and for the 15 years since 2/1/03. I fell asleep last night reading the book. I couldn’t help it….


      1. Hey guys! You gonna be down for Christmas again? We’ll holler at you C Eve!! We can either make sure we get together next weekend and have a book in hand or you can get one from our site and we’ll both sign it anyway you want. Happy holidays. Can’t wait to catch up some!


    1. The loss of signal, the shock to the system and our psyches, the stiffening of one’s lip, the coming out of the fog and into action, the logistics, the effort day after day, the discovery and transport, the sorting and the sifting and the placing on the grid, “figuring it out,“ the “Oh hell no we are not going to put this on the ground,“ The random stabs of memory that grow less intense overtime, the VAB in the Columbia room efforts, the memorial in the out reach to those who can learn from that day, though seconds, unfinished business inside each of us…the healed wounds with each hug and handshake with someone who understood what we went through… Each forgiveness, each graceful gesture… The blog… The growing vision… The realization people still care and want to hear your stories… A questioning of possibilities, locking on to “we are going to make this happen.“ The search, the finding of advocates, The tracking down of those to tell their stories, day after day seeking for truth and organizing it on a grid… The discovery, the sweat and the mental effort, the delays and the frustrations… Driven by a deep, the deepest, levels of care and respect… Then the boxes arrive… It is no wonder a wave of emotion hit you both. Mike and Jonathan, we know this was an act of love and respect. Those boxes are symbolic of that… they will not be forgotten, nor both of you. Thank you, Dan Keenan.


      1. Hey Dan, your words mean more to me than I can describe. You have caught in just a few words what so many people have experienced being involved in Columbia in one way or another. Our story, that of the 25,000 that contributed, is out there now. I just wish there were some way they could all know. Thanks, Dan. Mike.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s