COLEBROOK — Colebrook’s Jim Flynn wanted to write a book for a long time. Of course, that doesn’t make him special. How many of us want to do the same thing? Well, Flynn has actually done it, coming out with his first work called “Be Sincere Even When You Don’t Mean It” early in 2020. He has been encouraged by the reception he has received over his self-published book, which depicts the Walter Mitty-like exploits of the main character.
“I’ve had some nice responses from people who read the book, most importantly from a couple of writers,” said the retired financial advisor. “I wrote a piece for Hartford Courant Magazine some years back and at that time people told me they really liked what I had written and that I should write more.”
Well, a few things (mainly work and family) prevented Flynn from launching full bore into a writing career until he finally decided he had the time and commitment to put his fingers to work on the keyboard, in earnest.
“This really has become a passion of mine,” he said as he sipped a cup of coffee. “I enjoy the process and I’m already working on a second book. I’m encouraged by the first book and I have even made some money on it, which surprised me.” He sells his book on Amazon and sales, if not brisk, have been steady.
“I’ve sold hundreds of copies and my goal is to get to 1,000. I’ve been talking to local groups about the book and just getting the word out. I’ve gotten some reviews on Amazon, some of them saying that this isn’t a book for everyone, which it really isn’t. But those who get it have really liked the book.”
Flynn was told by one person who read the book early on that it is a memoir of a fictional character and that it wouldn’t sell. Well, that critic has been proven wrong. People do like the book.
Let’s flash back to Flynn’s first whirl at writing, which was for the Hartford Courant Magazine back in the early 1990s. The story, which was the cover piece that issue, was a description of being on the popular and long-running game show “Jeopardy,” “betting everything on the final questions and not winning.”
“I was right in the thick of things and then it came down to final jeopardy,” he recalled with a smile and a bit of wistfulness in his voice. “It was about elections and the answer was about the mid-1800s and a candidate the Democrats were going to put up in 1852. I guessed Millard Fillmore and it was Franklin Pierce.” At the end of his one-day run, Flynn was led unceremoniously out of the studio and sent on his way. He did later received a large carton of Rice a Roni, the runner-up prize back then.
“It really was a fun experience though,” he said. While host Alex Trebek came across as distant, he got on fine with the other contestants and Emcee Johnny Gilbert, who remarkably, is still introducing Trebek these days at the age of 95. “Gilbert was a big band singer and he was a lot of fun to be around.” Flynn still harbors regrets about not being able to get the final question, er, answer, correct (the other two contestants in that show also missed it, but had more money at the end). Flynn bet his entire stash, which was around $10,000. But the experience did help launch a writing career, even if it took about 30 years to get the next work out.
“The story in the Courant Magazine was very well received and that’s when I had people telling me how much they loved it and that I should do more writing,” Flynn said.
Flynn grew up in Norwalk, was an athlete in high school and has maintained a love of sports and competition. “Football was my best sport but my favorite was basketball,” he explained. “As I got older, I competed in triathlons. I wasn’t great but I finished and enjoyed doing them.”
His love of sports and other endeavors, such as astrophysics, made up the magic potion for “Be Sincere Even When You Don’t Mean It.” The main character, Jimmy Sizemore, gets to live out his dreams; he plays in The Masters golf tournament, competes in the Hawaii Iron Man Triathlon, plays in a Super Bowl, and becomes an astronaut.
Is Jimmy Sizemore really a fantastical Jim Flynn? “No, it’s not me at all, although it would be great to be in all the things he gets to be in. He’s kind of a wise guy and that’s not me. I tried to make the book humorous and some of the language is a bit salty. I based Jimmy Sizemore in Norwalk because it’s a place I knew about growing up there and I could be factual about places in town.”
What about that title? “I have had people say it sounds like a self help book. But the phrase comes from something Jimmy Sizemore’s father tells him in the book.” But, to let prospective readers know it isn’t a self-help book, Flynn recently changed the cover of the book to show an astronaut hitting a football with a golf club on a beach by the ocean in Hawaii. “The book is now subtitled, quite appropriately and perhaps as homage to that reader who said no one would read it, ‘A Fictional Memoir of a Wildly Accomplished Unknown Famous Person’.”
Flynn has an ideal venue in which to write these days, a 28-acre farm he shares with his wife, Jennifer, near the hamlet of Riverton. The couple moved there with their three children in 2001. Flynn said his second book will be a departure from his first work and hopes to self publish it sometime this year.
It took him awhile to get going, but there seems to be no stopping Jim Flynn, the author, these days.
“Be Sincere Even When You Don’t Mean It” can be found on Amazon.com.