Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am an author, blogger, and anti-bullying activist. I oversee a company called “Bullying Recovery”, where our mission is to help those that are in crisis due to past or current bullying events to seek out and find the needed help to recover both mentally and physically from the long-term effects. I live just outside of Washington, DC and keep a day job as an eLearning producer for government clients. So far, I have written a one-act play in conjunction with my old high school called “Standing By” about teen bullying and just published my first novel, which is my memoir. The title of the book is “A Ladder In The Dark: My journey from bullying to self-acceptance” and it looks at my life and how bullying affected me for many years, until I finally had to get help for my C-PTSD and learn to accept the past. I have been blogging about the long-term effects of bullying for over 8 years at http://bullyinglte.wordpress.com and my website can be found at http://bullyingrecovery.org.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book, “A Ladder In The Dark: My journey from bullying to self-acceptance”, is really my autobiography about my younger days being bullied and how that formed the person I came to be, along with problems such as C-PTSD, anxiety, and depression. I wanted to share my honest portrayal of how this affected me and then also share how I learned to recover and accept myself again. It is a journey that many, unfortunately have to take and it helps to hear how other people learned from it. I was inspired by spending eight years blogging on my website about this subject and have had well over one million visitors that use the website, so I thought it time to create a book to help as well.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
My books are in my head. I would say that, if I was a child today, I would be classified with ADHD, because I currently have about 3 books floating in my head. My unusual writing habit is to do a rough outline, but mostly make my first draft writing stream of conscious as I have found that I can think and write quickly at the same time. Of course, then a heavy edit is required, but I enjoy getting the first draft out of my head and then resting before looking at it again. For me, it’s all right there in my head and I just need the tools to get it out.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
“Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King, because it was the first book I read by him and is still one of my favorite stories by him. I think that if vampires were around today, they would act just as Mr. King wrote them.
“The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel. I couldn’t put this book down and the ending just blew me away. It was such a compelling read.
“The Odyssey” by Homer. I might have been the only person in my English class in high school that loved this book. It is such high adventure and action and, while not easy to read, is the first book to approach the cliffhanger story that I know of.
“The Help” by Tate Taylor. Some books are life changing experiences and this is one of them. Telling the truth in a story and the obvious research to create this tale makes it one of my favorites.
“The World According to Garp” by John Irving. Really any book by John Irving, because his ability to take situations that would be bizarre to anyone else and make it seem real is uncanny. There are no other authors I know of like him and I am always surprised by each page he writes. It makes for fun reading.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a fiction book that looks at the thin line between people who are bullied and commit suicide and those that go into the school with a weapon and use it. I was inspired to write it by my son’s English teacher who told me that the kids today don’t read. I told her I disagreed and feel they read more, but it’s all on their phones and tablets. Then I thought, what if a book for a teen was written in this way? That’s what I am attempting. To say more would ruin what is to come. I am looking forward to the challenge of writing this book.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Promoting is a very difficult part of the experience. As a graduate in Media Communications, I have some training in marketing and promoting. The best method I can recommend is to know what audience you want to deliver your book to and find as many ways possible to reach that group. Also, use Press Releases and send them personally to specific outlets that you want to advertise your books. Then find things like CreateSpace and Smashwords that will help you get the word out and have links to your books.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
If you dream it, you can do it. Today, we live in a world where self-publishing is a reality, but you must learn as much about publishing as the old publishers. Know what an ISBN number is, a Library of Congress number, and how you will need to format your book using tools you may not have ever heard before, like Scrivener.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Live your life by the length of it, but also by the width of it. Also, always remember this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Yesterday Is History. Tomorrow is mystery. Today is a gift.” I like to add at the end, that’s why it’s called “The Present”.
What are you reading now?
I am reading “The First Phone Call from Heaven” by Mitch Albom. Mitch is one of my favorite all-time writers and all his books should be read. I also just finished “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. The movie made from this barely touched the surface of what happened in the POW camps in Japan during WWII. It is truly an amazing read.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Marketing, marketing, marketing. I am working hard to get speaking engagements and book signings for “A Ladder in the Dark”. In the meantime, I am working on my new book about bullycide and school shootings.
What is your favorite book of all time?
“The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom. I am telling you that he has an amazing way of weaving a tale that will always bring you an emotional touch at the end. I treasure his writing style and honest approach to the eternal idea of life.