Sunday, December 14, 2014

Kevin Kauffmann: The IAN Interview

Kauffmann grew up surrounded by all kinds of stories, from video games to comic books to movies he probably wasn’t supposed to watch, but all of them instilled in him the imagination to tell weird and genre-bending tales.  Drawing from mythological sources, Kauffmann’s career as an author started with the Icarus Trilogy, a sci-fi series about gladiatorial combat and revolution, before heading onto the Forsaken Comedy, a dark fantasy series which focuses on the Four Horsemen and their attempt to save humanity.  His latest, Ouroboros, is a bit different, but still promises the emotional grip of the other books.

Independent Author Network. Please tell us about your new book.

Kevin Kauffmann. Ouroboros is definitely a different kind of book than I’m used to writing, but I think it will have a much broader appeal.  It’s general fiction, which is a big departure from my sci-fi/fantasy roots, but I was still able to play around with imagery and nightmares because of the content.

The book follo
ws three main characters who are affected by Escape, which is a new hallucinogen which allows the user to see exactly what they want.  Jeremy, my high school outcast, uses the drug to see brand new worlds because he hates the real one.  Lynn is a hypocritical congresswoman who is using a child’s death in order to further her career.  My favorite, Marc, is the creator of Escape, but he becomes addicted to the drug in order to see his dead girlfriend.

Really, the book is all about self-destruction and escapism, and it’s probably the most personal book I’ve ever written.  To say that I relate to these characters is a huge understatement, and there are bits and pieces of my life all over this book.  I was never in such dire straits as my characters, but I know how it feels to want to run away from the world.

IAN. Is Ouroboros published in print, e-book, or both?

K.K. Just e-book for now.  I’ve fallen into a habit of holding off on the print versions in case there are some glaring problems that reviewers notice.  Luckily, that’s become less of an issue, but my first series suffered for it.

IAN. Where can we go to buy Ouroboros?


IAN. What Inspired you to write Ouroboros?

K.K. Quite a bit.  There’s a lot of personal flavor all over the book, both Jeremy and Marc represent me at different times of my life, but the book is also very much a product of the times.  I use a hallucinogen to firmly represent escapism in this book, but escapism can be anything as simple as playing games or reading books or just doing anything not to experience the real, present world.  The way our society has gone for the last decade, more and more people seem to be retreating from the world, retreating into their phones and hiding away from real interaction.

I wanted to explore the feelings that come with that, the loneliness and alienation, the feeling that you’re all alone even if you’re surrounded by people, or how the world doesn’t care what you want or how you feel.  These characters don’t feel like they belong in their own life, which is its own special kind of tragedy.

IAN. Did you use an outline or did you just wing the first draft?

K.K. A little bit of both, honestly.  I’ve always fancied myself both an architect and a gardener, as the old comparison goes.  I created enough of an outline that the plot was solid and progressed how I wanted it to, but other than that I just let the characters and visuals lead themselves.  The first book I wrote was shaky with that approach, but after seven books it seems like that’s how I work best.

IAN. How long did it take to write Ouroboros?

K.K. Two weeks, which sounds absurd, I know.  Spent plenty of time on the shelf, however.  The only reason I wrote it that fast was that I was trying to submit a book to Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest and they had changed the rules enough that I couldn’t submit the book I had already prepared for it.

It was too bad I submitted it to the wrong genre.  Didn’t even get past the pitch stage because of it.

IAN. Do you have a specific writing style?

K.K. I like to jump around a lot, that’s for sure.  Both between character perspectives and with my transitions between scenes and chapters.  I’ve always likened it to quick cuts in movies, and most of my readers seem to agree.  I get told quite often that my books are perfect for movie adaptations, and that’s because I try not to linger too much on any particular scene unless it’s instrumental to the plot.  Also, it doesn’t come up very often in Ouroboros, but I’m known for intense action and battle scenes, and that will become increasingly more apparent the further I go in my career.

IAN. How did you come up with the title?

K.K. The title already existed, but it was such an obvious moment once I figured out that it was supposed to be Ouroboros.  In Greek mythology, Ouroboros is the snake that devours its own tail, which is something that happens in Norse and other mythologies as well.  It’s a symbol of both infinity and self-destruction/consumption to me, and it ties in perfectly with the themes and content of my book.  If it’s not clear, that’s supposed to be a snake squeezing the guy’s neck on my cover, which I admit looks very amateur, but that’s intentional, I swear.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Ouroboros?

K.K. Honestly, this book is all about perspective to me.  All of my characters are flawed and focus on either their past, their fears and pain, their loneliness, or something trivial like their career.  They’ve all lost sight of what’s really important in their life, what makes their life worth anything.  There are plenty of moral lessons and structures in my other books, but when it comes to Ouroboros, I really just want readers to think about what’s actually important to them.  In a way, our biggest obstacle to enjoying our life and getting the most of it is our own perspective and desires.

So, I guess, just get out there and do something.  Anything.

IAN. How much of Ouroboros is realistic?

K.K. Certainly not the drug itself.  That thing can’t exist.  I did what I could to justify it within the context of the story, even researched plenty of hallucinogens to make it sound alright, but Escape is definitely fictional.  As far as the characters, however, they’re all about as true-to-life as I could make them.  I’ve felt what Jeremy felt, been through a lot of his situations; I’ve wanted the same things as Marc, to just not exist for a while.  I’ve felt external pressures to change and compromise myself just like Lynn.  Her job might not be so realistic, I went for a House of Cards style with her storyline, but how she feels was real to me.

And as an author, that’s my main focus.

IAN. How is Ouroboros different from others in your genre?

K.K. Well, technically it’s just regular fiction, nothing incredible or otherworldly happens, but there are sci-fi, fantasy and horror aspects throughout the book because of the hallucinogen theme.  However, the existence of Escape and what it does is also technically sci-fi, so Ouroboros exists as part of and doesn’t belong to either genre, really.  Sci-fi fans might like it more, but I could see fictions readers enjoying the real aspects as well.

However, I’m used to that.  None of my books have ever really fit into one genre.

IAN. Who designed the cover?

K.K. I did this time, and it shows.  However, this cover is exactly how I had seen it in my head.  Because of the tragic content and malaise of the characters, I wanted to call back to Picasso’s blue period, and the shaky and thick lines are likewise supposed to be a reference to a series of self-portraits drawn under the influence of LSD.  Also, since this book was so personal for me, it just felt appropriate to be entirely responsible for the book, including the cover.

So yeah, that’s my excuse for it looking so amateur.

IAN. What was the hardest part of writing Ouroboros?

K.K. Feeling everything that happens to my characters.  I’m used to it by now, but I’m a bit of a “method writer.”  I stop existing while I write and my characters fully take over.  Every time one of my characters die in my other books, it hits home and I’m a trainwreck, but it’s expected in those series.  Ouroboros, however, is all about these characters destroying themselves and coming to these tragic moments, and I felt every little bit of it.  Readers might be driven to tears when they read my books, but I promise, I get hit harder every time.

IAN. Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

K.K. Not as much as I’d like to, but that’s just because I can’t afford it.  If I could justify a book tour, I would, but most of my traveling happens when I go to comic-book and geek conventions along the East Coast.  Lately I’ve been dressing up as the Merchant from Resident Evil 4 to lure people into talking to me, and then I’ll launch into a character-driven spiel ending with a promotion for the book I’m currently trying to push, usually for free.  Engenders good will, certainly, but there hasn’t been too much turnaround on the word-of-mouth yet.

IAN. Do you see writing as a career?

K.K. I’m certainly trying.  After seven books, it’s disheartening to still be relatively unknown, but I know that has nothing to do with the books.  Nine times out of ten, people tell me that they love my books and how they inspired them.  That’s enough for me to still keep going and believing that I’ll make it, but luckily, I’m going to write my books either way.  It’s not even a question. 

Hopefully it will all pay off.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress.  Is it a sequel or stand-alone?

K.K. I’m actually working on two projects right now.  Until I started my newest book, The 616 Diaries, I had been releasing a short story every Sunday for my Misadventures of Rumplestiltskin III, which is my goofy side-project about an immortal, insane imp who meets gods, demons, heroes, villains and everything in between.  I’ll eventually collect them all into a book, but If you want to check out some of the stories, they’re all on my Facebook page for now:

As for The 616 Diaries, I’m not sure I’ll ever sell it because of the style, which is first-person and starts off as a blog.  I’m starting to enjoy it more because I’m finally in the meat of the story, which is all about a man devolving into madness because the number 616 shows up everywhere in his life, but it definitely needs some polishing.

Technically they’re both standalone, but, well, I need to write more books before I can talk more about that.

Monday, December 8, 2014

809 Jacob Street by Marty Young


Winner of the 2013 Australian Shadows Award for Best Horror Novel, and nominated a Notable Indie Book of 2013, 809 Jacob Street is a roller coaster ride into terror and madness.

Fourteen year old Byron James wishes he'd never been dragged to Parkton.

It's a crazy sideshow of a town in the middle of god-damn nowhere, and he's stranded there. To make matters worse, his two new friends - his only friends - turn out to be class rejects with an unhealthy interest in monsters. They want to discover the truth to the infamous monster house at number 809 Jacob Street.

Joey Blue is an old bluesman who fell into his songs and couldn't find his way out again. Now he's a Gutterbreed, one of the slinking shifting shadows haunting the town's alleys. When an old dead friend comes begging for help, Joey's world is torn apart. He is forced to stare down the man he has become in order to rescue the man he once was - and there is only one place he can do that.

The house on Jacob Street calls to them all, but what will they find when they open its door?


"I wasn't quite prepared for how accomplished this little novel turned out to be. Evoking those stories of old with his motley crew of kids (1980's horror fiction), Marty gives the reader a subtle coming-of-age tale while also delivering cerebral prose that becomes almost narcotizing after a while. Here, there is a slow build of tension that is somewhat effortless ... as if 809 Jacob Street was a latter novel in the author's resume." - Matt Tait, Hellnotes review 

"Marty Young's 809 Jacob Street dragged me through the gutter, and had me enthralled with every page. The story explores so thoroughly a nightmare of tortured emotions and madness that it's hard to believe it isn't autobiographical. The characters, especially Joey Blue, are that convincing. This is a writer cutting his own way through horror, and I can't wait to see where his journey takes him. I, for one, will be watching from here on out, because he made me a fan with this book." - Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Flesh Eaters and Dead City 

"A refreshingly hypnotic tale that blends Monster Squad and the small-town coming-of-age themes of Stephen King to his own dark and surreal ends." - Robert Hood, author of Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead 

"This book gets scary... You need to buy this book, you need to get it." - The Witching Hour Paranormal Radio Show on 4ZZZ 

"A slow burning exploration of psychic terror that builds to a startling climax and the beginning of an even deeper mystery. Recommended!" - Greg Chapman, author of The Last Night of October 

"809 Jacob Street is a wonderful first novel for Marty Young and first release for new Publisher, Black Beacon Books. Highly recommended." - Frank Michaels Errington,

Thursday, December 4, 2014

JJ Slate-The IAN Interview

JJ Slate is a bestselling true crime author and blogger. Born in Massachusetts, she has always been fascinated with true crime stories, especially those dealing with missing persons and cold cases. A self-proclaimed “trial junkie” and “forensic science nerd,” JJ currently lives in New England with her husband. When she isn’t writing or researching her next book, she is usually blogging about current cases in the media.

Independent Author Network: Please tell us about your latest book.

JJ Slate: My debut true crime book, Missing Wives, Missing Lives, a compilation of true cases about wives that have gone missing, published in June of 2014 and quickly became an Amazon bestseller in several categories. I teamed up with award-winning and bestselling true crime author RJ Parker to write my second book, Social Media Monsters: Internet Killers, a collection of chilling stories about killers who have used the internet to locate, lure, stalk, or exploit their victims.

IAN. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?

JJ Slate: Both of my books are published in paperback, eBook, and Audiobook!

IAN: Where can we go to buy your book?

IAN: What inspired you to write the book? 

JJ Slate: I have long been consumed with the cases that make up Missing Wives, Missing Lives. It is unfathomable to me how cases like this even come to be in the first place. But I think the saddest part of these types of stories (where a wife goes missing and the husband is the prime suspect in her disappearance) is how quickly they fade from the media when the leads begin to go cold. Writing this book was just my way of hoping to keep these women’s stories alive.

IAN: How long did it take to write the book?

JJ Slate: It took me a few months to write Missing Wives. I was already incredibly familiar with most of the cases, so I had the meat of the book in my head already. I just needed to get it out onto paper.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

JJ Slate: I hope people come away with the understanding that this sort of thing happens more than they realize and perhaps might see some warning signs in some of these women’s stories that will give them the courage to escape a similar relationship or help a friend who is facing similar circumstances.

IAN: Do you see writing as a career?

JJ Slate: I would love to write full-time one day. That’s my dream! I’m not there yet, but I know I’ve made some great strides in this past year and I’m excited for what is coming next.

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

JJ Slate: I’ve been reading and writing for as long as I can remember. I always had my nose in a book or a journal growing up, and not much has changed since.

IAN: Do you have any advice for other writers?

JJ Slate:  I think that if you really want to write for a living someday, you should just keep writing whenever you can and make that dream happen. I’m not there yet, but this is what I am pushing for and hopefully we’ll get there some day!

IAN: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

JJ Slate: I really would love to thank each and every person who has purchased my book and reached out to me to tell me how much they enjoyed it. Those words have encouraged me to keep writing and following my dream.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?
JJ Slate: I am currently working on my next book, due out early 2015, a compilation of cases on newlywed killers—spouses that have killed their partners shortly after taking their wedding vows.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Scott Sonnon: The IAN Interview

Scott Sonnon grew up battling severe dyslexia and physical disabilities, while his single mother worked multiple jobs to make ends meet.

A poor student, Sonnon was advised to set his expectations low, and was forcibly institutionalized for “disruptive classroom behavior.”

Rejecting limitations, Sonnon became five-time martial arts World Champion and coaching Team USA.

His fitness systems transformed the industry, and are used by more than 50,000 military Special Forces and other elite units, including the U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Customs and Border Protection Advanced Training Center, Marshals Service Training Academy and Army Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Sonnon lives with his wife, Jodie, and their two children in Washington.

Q. Please tell us about your latest book.

A. In a unique, bite-sized format developed through years of writing daily social posts for his tens of thousands of followers, five-time martial arts World Champion Scott Sonnon recounts inspirational lessons he’s learned battling dyslexia, physical challenges, opponents in the ring and daunting personal and business challenges.

In “A Mountain Stands: Confessions of a Suppressed Genius,” Sonnon for the first time recounts how he was hospitalized in a children’s psychiatric institution for “disruptive classroom behavior.”

He eventually managed to recast his dyslexia as an advantage. His recent TEDx talk on these issues has reached more than 50 million people.

“My fellow dyslexics are ignored, neglected, and in many cases, abused and shamed for our unique neurological wiring, yet are among the greatest contributors to our world,” Sonnon said. “Dyslexia is our genetic advantage – our suppressed genius.”

The Hall of Fame trainer known as the “Flow Coach” distills his experiences along with guidance from some of history’s greatest thinkers into practical life advice that applies equally to those coping with their own unique learning styles, as well as those struggling with life decisions.
This book will provide inspiration for children and adults facing labels of learning disabilities, as well as those suffering the ravages of obesity, the trials of post-traumatic stress, the affects of bullyism and the physical challenges of aging.

Q. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?

Q. Where can we go to buy your book?

Q. Why did you write “A Mountain Stands: Confessions of a Suppressed Genius”?

A. Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s most fascinating dyslexics, once wrote, “If, at first, your idea isn’t absurd, there is no hope for it.” Five years ago, I had an absurd idea: Each morning, I would write a story about my life. In that story, I would find the positive benefit it had brought, even if I didn’t understand it at the time. Beginning with my darkest moments, the most traumatically piercing events, I exhumed a life of suppressed damage to determine the positive coping skills I adapted as a result.

The stories would eventually form a book that even someone like myself - a dyslexic - could read and absorb. The concept of “micro-chapters” evolved: Short stories (some less than a page), but each of which unfolding a “Hero’s Journey” as Joseph Campbell describes: an obstacle, a failure to overcome it, the finding of a higher purpose, the collection of allies and assets, a successful but surprising reattempted victory, and the sharing of the decoded discoveries previously locked within them.

Q. In simple terms, what is dyslexia and how common is it?

A. Dyslexia is often perceived as a language disability, and this is accurate: When forced into most traditional educational approaches, a “dyslexic” has difficulty with language. But this is because of a specific way that a dyslexic’s brain is organized. A simple explanation is that they have more “grid cells” (on the hypothalamus) and so their brains interpret two-dimensional language into three-dimensional shapes, causing reading, writing and even speaking challenges.

But that same 3D nature of their brain allows them to see the world from incredible faceted perspectives and gives rise to their innovative, entrepreneurial, creative mind. It is a gift with trade-offs, like anything. We must make our goal to help dyslexics realize their gifts, and provide them with strategies and support to mitigate the trade-offs.

As much as 20 percent of the population has it: that’s over 60 million Americans, and 1.4 billion people worldwide.

Q. Who are some famous dyslexics in history?

A. Some of our greatest contributors had dyslexia: from both Edison and Tesla in electricity, from both Wright brothers to Richard Branson in the power of flight, from Alexander Graham Bell to Steve Jobs in telecommunications, from Sir Isaac Newton to Stephen Hawking in physics, from Da Vinci to Disney in art, and Washington to Kenned in politics.

Q. Your book describes how your mother was your greatest advocate and defender, yet you felt betrayed when she allowed you to be institutionalized. How did that happen?

A. I was disruptive in my classrooms. I didn't try to be. As Albert Einstein cautioned, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, you will always be frustrated, and that fish will always feel stupid.” I had assumed I was stupid, especially when called so, and my teachers always felt frustrated, especially since their teaching and testing methods fixated on approaches which amplified my “trade-offs” as “learning disabilities.” I objected and attempted to self-advocate. I rebelled. I felt the world was against me. This neither excuses nor indicts my behavior. It was what it was ... a socially manufactured psychological environment that was preventable.

My mother was my strongest advocate, and she did a superhuman job of rearing me in a time and in circumstances where it should have been impossible for me to survive and thrive. She did that, despite my inability to recognize that I was worsening the situation with my rebellion. It’s taken half a lifetime to unpack that experience, and feel neither blame nor guilt.

Q. How does your childhood experience affect you as a parent?

A. My children suffer from a condition known as “childhood.” They get into arguments. They make blunders. They say and do inappropriate things. Like every human who ever endured “childhood” does. The negative effects that my children experience involve me reading into those natural experiences of growing, and seeing something other than it is. Sometimes, I have to step back and let my wife teach me what “normal” is.

So, I let myself just be a big kid with them. Within that age-appropriate sphere, we play together. I make mistakes, and I try to forgive myself and realize that I will not break them with a parenting error. And I try to exhale and step back, as they grow out of one sphere, and are ready - all too soon - for the next larger one. Someone please write a book!

Q. We recently lost the great comedian Robin Williams to suicide. He described himself as having severe dyslexia. Is there a possible link between dyslexia and suicide?

A. There’s no physical link between dyslexia and suicide. There may be a link between abusive shaming of those who are different, and the lifetime burden of estrangement this forges.

When I was much younger, I attempted suicide, but a friend intervened and help arrived, thank God. The thought went through my mind, “If I am alone, truly alone, then what does it matter, especially if it hurts so much?” My mother, my mentors, my dear friends helped me realize, despite the story I had accepted as a true self-­ identity, I was not separate.

I am “alone, together” with everyone in the neurodiverse world. When I lacked  courage, they helped me turn around and encourage others. And that has made all of the difference.

Q. Your book mentions that your son seems to have dyslexia, but not your daughter.
How can a parent tell if their child has dyslexia, and what can they do about it?

A. My daughter has her own unique brilliance, equal but different than my son. She's an interpersonal, auditory and musical/rhythmic learner, so she repeats everything she hears, thinks and reads in order to “latch it in,” and all the while she twirls, flits and taps. It’s like a cacophony to a kinesthetic, intrapersonal, spatial thinker like her Dad. So, we have an interesting family dynamic.

For the parents listening, especially those whose children may be struggling in the school environment, there are definitive tests for dyslexia that will offer conclusive evaluation. I highly recommend contacting the local chapter of the advocacy group Decoding Dyslexia for support and guidance.

Q. One of your quests has been to help battle the kind of stress that killed your father and continues to kill our police and Fire Fighters in their mid-­50s on average. What techniques did you develop, and how can our listeners use them?

A. The exhale portion of breathing is tied to the “relax and recover reflex,” just like the inhale is tied to the “Fight or Flight reflex.” So, the obvious tool to use is our exhalation when facing stressors.

However, it sounds easy to think “just exhale” until a sudden, new, different type of stressor hits us, and instead we inhale and brace in response. This dumps a chemical cocktail into our bloodstream, embedding into our fatty tissues and causing cumulative damage.

How we breathe under stress is determined by how we have trained ourselves to breathe. Therefore, I interweave breathing techniques into exercise. Unfortunately, most exercise programs unwittingly reinforce distress, adding to the problem.

Q. You have invented several unique Fitness programs and earned the nickname “The Flow Coach” based on the links you discovered between movement and brain function. How do they work?

A. Movement is an “idea” in your mind. How you think you can move determines how you actually can move. The corollary is that if you improve your movement, you expand your neural network.

Like Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “A mind once stretched by a new idea cannot return to its original dimensions.” This is because the brain is plastic. It’s actually the scientific term neuroplasticity. The brain isn’t like a rubber-­band where you stretch it with a notion, and then it rebounds when you stop thinking about it. It’s like a plastic bag, where once you stretch it, it stays that way. Once you see things from a different vantage point, you can’t unsee them. Your brain always has that alternate viewpoint available.

Movement allows us to expand our mind’s eye, so the more we play, the more our brain bolsters its function.

The goal is to get underneath the reflex of fear, of disbelief. If you don’t believe you can move a certain way, and you’re afraid to do it, not only can you not move that way, but your body defensively braces against it, causing pain and injury if you attempt to do so.

I had very strong beliefs as to my potential, but great aspirations as to what I wanted to achieve, so I had to create escalators of baby steps, microadvancements that would stay underneath the radar of my fear and disbelief, stretching my mind one micromovement at a time. It is the steps forward, and the recovery steps when our pain and injury cause us to backpedal, that are the truly revolutionary strategies in bodymind integrative development.

Q. Do your programs help with weight loss?

A. Yep, and abs too! Weight loss and muscle gain are natural byproducts of expanding your movement potential, and expanding your mind’s eye of your potential.

Q. How many previous books have you written?

A. I have written 7 books, and 11 manuals.

Q. What is the target audience for this book? Who can apply these lessons and stories to their own lives?

A. My book is for anyone who faces challenges and seeks support, inspiration and strategies for transforming obstacles into opportunities. And face it, we all need help from time to time.

Q. Are all of these stories based on First hand, reallife experiences?

A. There are a few stories told to me by others, but primarily they’re my personal experiences, from which I've sought to glean insights, through the lens of the great thinkers and philosophers referenced throughout the book. (Some names and details have obviously been fictionalized out of respect for their privacy.)

Q. Where does the inspiration to write a particular story come from?

A. Inspiration is a fickle muse: you either wait for it, or you systematically create the environment for it to happen, and then practice it until it does. When you’re beset with negativity, inspiration might never come, so I learned through my teachers’ guidance to set a clock every day, and begin writing an answer to a question: Take this negative experience, and reflect upon the wisdom of the great minds and hearts; how then would you reframe the experience into a positive one?

After 13 years of practicing this process every day, there are now few times that I cannot realign the value of a difficult moment. They still happen, of course, but they're manageable, and I am not long from recovering to a positive perspective. I captured the best stories over this decade plus of refinement, and compiled them into a chronological anthology. This is the value of the book, more so even than the adventures of the stories: the PROCESS of each story offers the reader an alternative approach to facing their own challenges.

Q. What is your message? Is it only limited to one thing or group of people?

A. My message is simple (but not easy): You either succeed, or you learn. And I've learned much more than I've succeeded.
many people will advise you to celebrate successes, and to a degree I agree, I've learned to be errorfocused, to become enamored with my mistakes, and to revel in my shortcomings, for hidden within them is our capacity for growth.

Often, hidden in our misperceived flaws, we find our true genius. Only our skewed perspective keeps us blind to our innate gifts.

My book is an allegorical mirror to reflect to my readers not my story, but their own ... and inside of their story ... their own suppressed genius.

Unearthing that brilliance will take courage, patience and persistence, not because of the difficulty of sharing it, but in the internal and external resistance to believe you’re not brilliant. We are taught to be “normal” a term used in sociology for the median, the average ... the mediocre. Shining is discouraged because it makes you an outlier.

You weren't meant to fit in, though. You were meant to stand out... to Stand like a Mountain. My book is meant for anyone who wants to stand up for themselves and for others.

Q. What is the greatest challenge you have overcome as a dyslexic in order to become a published author?

A. The most difficult part of that self-­acceptance came in knowing the difference between my language difficulties the “tradeoffs” of being a dyslexic and my neurological innovations in thought and expression the advantages of being dyslexic.
What I do to editors should be classified as torture. Joking aside, writing style has been defined by rigorous guidelines of accepted grammar and story development format ... despite the radical dyslexic genius of writers such as William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, WB Yeats, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jules Verne and George Bernard Shaw. It’s simple to think that when you have these literary giants as examples, you must immediately feel confident in your own innate style. But that simple rationality isn't easy to embrace.

Growing up being labeled as “stupid and slow” carries generational weight: it not only lasts your entire lifetime, but it can be passed on to the next. At some point, you have to muster lifetimes of courage and just... own who you are and how you express it.

Q. What would you say today to your teachers and doctors who encouraged you to aim low when you were just a child?

A. I would apologize to my teachers and doctors for not being self-­confident enough to show them a new reality, to provide them with the cognitive dissonance strong enough to wake them from their dogmatic slumber.

They only suffered from the ignorance of that generation. We now know differently. NOW there is NO excuse for what they did then. Now, it should be considered criminal, knowing what we know of neurology. But then, it was just the highest expectation of education. Those rare few who advocated for me were outcast as heretics, and would be now considered our innovative educators reforming our educational system.

I would also thank them, for they became motivation for me, to prove them wrong. Rebellion isn't always helpful, but sometimes ... especially against wrongdoing, it is a necessity. Unfortunately, I made many mistakes in illfocused rebellion, which further imprisoned my freedom to express myself.

Teachers and doctors have a much broader and deeper educational experience   now ... and can understand the nature of childhood rebellion: we are not attempting to be disruptive; we just can't figure out, in our young minds, how to fit our round peg into the square hole. Today’s professionals are helping us find holes that fit us as individuals. We should help them as much as humanly possible!

Q. How do you choose what you write about each day? And, how do you find time to write with your busy schedule?

A. Life chooses what I write about, because there is never a day that passes without a wealth of lessons, even in the most seemingly mundane domestic task, like weeding the garden.

One of my most impacting teachers, whom I write of in my book, Dr. Jonathan Ellsworth Winter, talked often about the dyslexic Vincent Van Gogh’s preoccupation with one of his masterpieces “A Pair of [Peasant] Shoes.” Dr. Winter explained that these simple, dirty, battered shoes represent more art and life than the most opulent cathedral. He taught me the elegance of the simple things. So, I look for them, and see lessons everywhere, even in the simple, dirty, battered shoes of my children.

What joy looking at them brings me! Time is another illusion which writing has allowed me to dispel. The more that we practice on a regular schedule any skill, the more efficient it becomes, and the more time we GAIN. So, with any skill, you have the appearance of the least amount of time at the beginning because we are the least efficient at that and many other skills.

Setting a time, beginning to write, stopping when the set duration is complete, trains you to become more efficient. Over a decade of practice at this method has allowed me to choose any moment to tap into the inspiring body of everpresent simple beauty of life, especially the misperceived negative moments, and reflect the lessons with which they are saturated.

Q. Does your family support your publication of these personal stories?

A. My poor wife endures a thousand retellings of the same story. She does so with a patient smile (and an occasional eyeroll).
My children are still young, so not all of the stories are appropriate for their ears. I strive to learn-­on-­the-­job how to parent in a way that assumes my own childhood experience is not necessary for them to thrive. My growth has not been as a compensation for how difficult my childhood was, but rather my growth has been because of embracing the innate gifts I (and we each) have to offer, and dedicating my life to sharing them.

That has not been an errorless journey, even as a husband and parent. They have suffered my growing pains... and yet, they still love me. How amazing is that?!