My most recent book, and actually my first book, is titled Forged By the Fire of Adversity: Faith in Trying Times, published by Xulon Press. It talks about dealing positively with adversity and how we can hold onto our faith in even the most difficult of circumstances.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am originally from Youngstown, Ohio, but for the past 22 years my home has been wherever the Army sent me. As an Army officer, I have served in peace and deployed to Iraq, but none of my experiences over the years could prepare me for dealing with the birth of my daughter Alyssa who was special needs and her death at the age of three. Writing and speaking have always come naturally to me, so I harnessed those talents in my public relations career and subsequently decided to branch out as an individual author.
What inspired you to write this book?
In our time raising Alyssa and caring for her, everyone told us we had a very different approach to special needs parenting and that we should share that with others. I never really seriously considered it until about six months after she died. In her three short years, she had such an impact on those she came in contact with even though she never spoke a word, and I saw this book as a way of continuing her legacy. Over the past five years, the military has been dealing with the issue of increased suicides, and I have been working on the suicide prevention efforts for the past year. After Alyssa’s death, I dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and suicidal thoughts – the very same things our service members are dealing with that we have seen factor into many of the suicides. I published my story and have been speaking about it as a way to combat the stigma of seeking help for these issues. I want those who are mired in difficult times to see that there is life beyond their current circumstances, and you can find real blessings in the burdens if you are open to them.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
Writing has always come naturally to me. I think I started and stopped five different novels in my teen years…lol. I can compose at the keyboard instead of having to create an intricate outline. Because I write part-time, I try to dedicate a couple hours each night to my writing before bed. In the case of this book, I wrote it over the course of nine months, had to set it aside for the year I was deployed to Iraq, and then came back to start the editing process.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
Writing in small blocks of time can make flow difficult over time. I usually go back and re-read the recently completed portions before I start typing again so I can continue on the path I had started the night before. I worked very hard to keep the tone of the book conversational and personal, as if I were sitting with you over coffee and telling my story. I wanted my readers to experience what I had experienced – the highs and the lows.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
Writing about personal experiences can be very difficult. In one way it can be therapeutic, yet at the same time, it can be very draining because it is like re-living the event all over again. The feedback I have received on the book tells me that I got the tone right because people have related how it touched them in different ways. It never ceases to amaze me how I can write with a specific intent, yet each reader latches on to different parts and pieces and walks away with their own individual message or source of comfort.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I actually have several more books in the works because I wanted to experiment with different genres. I am working on a follow up motivational book to my first one that talks about living a life that is full, meaningful and leaves something behind when you depart this world. It is called Making the Dash. I wrote a children’s book called, I Did a B-a-a-a-d Thing, and am currently looking for an illustrator for it. The book is about a mischievous lamb named Lyle who isn’t content to just stay in the pasture and eat grass, so he gets into all kinds trouble as he keeps breaking out to explore the area. The theme of the story is that no matter what bad things Lyle does, it doesn’t mean he’s a bad lamb, and his mom still loves him when he returns to the pasture. I am also co-writing a spy novel with a friend about an operative who works for the agencies and ends up losing everything that is precious to him when he’s betrayed by other operatives. He leaves the agency and tries to rebuild his life. Just when he thinks he’s managed to do that, he gets sucked back into the agency work, only this time he’s not sure if it is legitimate work or just a cover for the agency to get rid of him.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Writing for publication is not something you can go into half-hearted. You have to be passionate about it. Research all of your options for publication before deciding what works best for you. No matter what the publisher promises in terms of marketing, in the end, you are the best marketer for your book.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
I have been scheduling presentations and book signings throughout the tri-state area (MD, VA, and WV) and have even traveled as far as Kansas and Texas. I have established a fan page on Facebook and am currently taping a promotional video for You Tube.