When Potomac resident James Gross sat down to write his first book, the page which took him the longest to write was the page with the least on it, the dedication. “We had many variations on that until we got it right,” Gross said.
Gross, a resident of Montgomery Square and a practicing attorney, recently published “How to file for Divorce in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia” with law partner Michael Callahan.
The dedication the two decided upon reads: “To our wives, Holly Gross and Madelyn Callahan, who make it easy to stay married.”
Gross expected to write the book in about six months, but it took him about a year. “I guess I thought, since I’d been saying it [divorce advice] it would be easy to write it,” he said.
He wrote mostly after midnight, when his family was asleep. “Once I started the book it just pulled me out of bed. It was exciting writing a book,” Gross said. “It was a year of nights.”
His writing process fluctuated between procrastinating and productivity. “I found myself doing distracting things, like, my house got really clean,” Gross said. “Sometime you just have to force yourself to write.”
Gross wrote the sections about Maryland and the District of Columbia, while his partner handled Virginia. They then edited the other’s portions. However, the book was still longer than the publishers wanted it to be. “We had to cut about 25 percent out of it,” Gross said.
The book was published through Sphinx publishing, a division of Sourcebooks. “I had to find someone who was interested in sharing knowledge,” said Dianne Wheeler, division manager at Sphinx.
Wheeler contacted Steven Fuchs, owner of a website called divorcenet.com. Fuchs knew Gross from Gross’ work on the website. “I’ve known Jim for many years,” Fuchs said. “Jim moderates on the master home page.”
Fuchs put the two into contact, and Gross started to develop the legal guide. “These are consumer self-help legal guides,” Wheeler said of the series in which Gross’ book is published.
She said the goal in the series is to allow people to have background knowledge before beginning the divorce process. “[People] don’t want to go into that first consultation like a 5-year-old,” Wheeler said.
Gross has come to enjoy the feeling he gets when he is introduced as an attorney and author. While he plans to continue working on legal resource books, he doesn’t intend to give up practicing law and become the next John Grisham.
“I think my writing is too pedestrian.”
One of his next projects, due out next year, is a book about father’s rights. “I’m trying to write a handbook for the average guy,” Gross said.
He doesn’t want this next book to turn into an exercise in mother-bashing, and neither does his publisher.
“Jim really tries to get people to look out for the children,” Wheeler said.