As a big reader, G. Michael Hopf had a great desire to explore the world and have adventures.

In his journey to find adventure, he joined the Marines. After serving during the Gulf War, Hopf left the Marines and became sought to become a commercial diver.

However, a near death experience led him to reconsider his career. With help from his father, Hopf found a new direction working as a private security detailer.

During all of these adventures, he was always dabbling in writing. From journaling to short stories, Hopf kept in touch with his love of telling stories.

After just dabbling with writing and self-publishing an illustrated children’s book, Hopf was inspired to try writing a novel. He decided to stop being a dabbler and make writing his job.

Working on a novel while still working was not easy, but Hopf found the process fun and interesting. But in the end, all the effort had been worth it when his book suddenly hit peak sales.

Noticing the success of Hopf’s novel, Amazon offered a pre-order option for a second novel. This sequel hit best-seller on Amazon as soon as the pre-orders were opened. This event led him to get signed by the largest publisher in the world: Penguin Random House.

Hopf shared advice to Veterans and civilians alike on how to become an author:
• Stop dabbling and just write
• Don’t be too analytical
• Don’t be afraid to self-publish
• Celebrate when you finish your draft



#BtBattle Veteran of the Week:

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Michelle Cannon is a podcast intern with the VA’s Digital Media Engagement Team. She is a graduate student at Liberty University studying Professional Writing.

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Published on May. 11, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.4 min.

Views to date: 412


  1. Stephen McCartney, M.D. May 14, 2020 at 8:31 am

    Appreciate your tips. Would like to know more. Am a 30 yr retired senior USN surgeon with multiple forward deployed tours in Iraq/Afghanistan. Been wanting to capture my thoughts about all four 2001-2010 deployments and surprisingly I forgot little but have a continual and seemingly increasing stream of recollections, thoughts and life lessons learned many don’t see from my vantage point.
    Will take your advice to write and collect it all and not worry about publishing. Biggest problem I have is that I find it hard to sit for hours at a keyboard but I do it. I still write hand written letters to some people. A dying art and I don’t own an I PH.

    Thanks for your service.


  2. Rolando Gómez May 13, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    Congratulations on your success! As a published author myself, it takes a lot of work, but you’re right, the key is to write, write, then rewrite and worry about getting published later. Write from what you know and what you’ve experienced, and your writing gets better with rewriting. Ernest Hemingway once said, “In order to write about life first you must live it” and this is where most military veterans have an edge with their amazing life experiences they can draw from.

    I’m now on my second writing journey, as a represented screenwriter, and that alone is a grind that doesn’t happen over-night—but it all starts with writing what you know. In the film industry the first thing executives ask, “What’s your story?”

    As veterans, we all have great stories. One of my many stories, as an U.S. Army Staff Sgt, I once worked for a marine major, the now retired Maj. Gen. Dave Garza at USSOUTHCOM. I spent 26-months there as we tracked Pablo Escobar and other narcos in the Latin America Drug War, immediately after my duty in Desert Storm. It’s experiences like these and assignments in 45 countries that I draw from and every veteran can do the same.

    So, my advice to all veterans, dig from within all your military experiences and write your heart out. I wish everyone the best of luck during these trying times and writing is certainly one way to use your time at home. God Bless!

  3. David H Lyman May 13, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    My memoir on the 14 months I spent as a Navy photojournalist with a SeaBee construction battalion in Vietnam was published by McFarland last November.
    I am interested in offering more an 8 week, online Zoom class to help veterans begin to write and publish their own stories.
    Is this something that would be appropriate for your site?

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