Saturday, June 22, 2019

Conquering the Impossible in Your Life

June 22, 2019

First and foremost I know everyone wants to know how I am feeling. I am feeling fantastic considering I have spent the last five long days at the hospital after experiencing one of the most severe pain I have had in my abdomen. Wow! Who knew that a gallbladder, an organ you don't even need, could cause so much problems coupled with acute pancreatic. Ouch! The first thing they did was put be on NPO, meaning nothing my mouth. I couldn't eat or drink anything for five days. Nothing! I only had the I.V. fluids. Strange thing, I didn't care as I wasn't hungry. My pancreas was inflamed, my gallbladder slushy, and they found a cyst on my liver. Surgery was the answer, which scared me half to death. However, I felt so much better after they removed my gallbladder, it was a blessing in disguise. The pain that I had experienced for the last six months after I ate was gone. Praise God! The picture on the right is my granddaughter making sure I ate after waking up from surgery. She was by all accounts, my helper as she was at my side taking care of me. I think she will be a doctor. The picture below is of us as we shared a sprite.

Now that I don't have a gallbladder, I still have to confront the inflamed pancreatic. That means a change in diet that I'm not looking forward to, but I will adapt. My health is more important that fried chicken and dairy products. I can do this.

I want to thank everyone who lifted me up in prayers as they were answered. You can take that one to the bank. I also know that I will heal. In fact, tomorrow I leave for my condo in Orange Beach, Alabama where I will spend the next couple of days to heal. I will have my computer and continue to post, write, and edit as I look forward to sitting on my balcony or in my recliner which looks over the beach. When I return, I will be refreshed and ready to take on the publishing world again.

I will consider this last week as a wake up call, not only for my health, but also a lifestyle change as I must make many adjustments to my diet. I can do this because nothing is impossible when you have already conquered the impossible. I have already a faced life-threatening illness in my past and overcame it, so getting over gallbladder surgery is simple with a change in diet and prayers.

My next author that I want to introduce to my readers knows something about overcoming obstacles in life as he was born blind and has achieved so much that he is an inspiration to me and to others as he sets remarkable standards. I think you will enjoy meeting Matt K Elam, the author of THE FIRST IMMORTAL: A JOHNNY JO novel. which is available on Amazon. Here is his interview.

Matt K. Elam

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Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.

I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, but my family and I left when I was a toddler.  We moved around quite a bit (within the states) during my formative years: Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, etc.  I played high school in Texas and was offered a full-ride Division-IA football scholarship to play for the University of Hawaii.  I jumped at the chance to return home and have been back on the island of O’ahu ever since.    

You were born blind, how has that impacted your writing?

This might sound a bit strange to readers, but being legally blind has actually been a blessing, especially when it comes to writing.  When I was in grade school, there weren’t many effective devices available for the visually impaired.  I remember in the fourth grade, I had to cart around this monstrous closed circuit television during school.  I was permitted to leave five minutes early in order to prepare the beast for departure to the next classroom.  The next option was to use large print books that resembled the stone tablet that Moses penned the Ten Commandments on.  So, instead of being burdened with the aforementioned man-made resources, I began developing a formidable memory, where I could read a paragraph or two or even chapters from home and then use it to keep up with the class the next day. 

My writing process consists of using my long-term recall abilities to either give a story some depth or to assist me in pushing through a patch of writer’s block.   

Being blind, how do you write your books? How do you edit your books?

My iMac desktop computer is my writing medium.  I firmly believe that Apple caters more to the legally blind than does its competitors.  It’s “zoom” options gives me the ability to toggle between normal sized font and large print font, which allows me to check my spelling on my word document as well as click over to the search engines to conduct my research.  Damn it, Apple, where were you when I was in grade school in the 80s?  Even college in the 90s.  Okay, I’m dating myself a bit too much here.  Ha!   

Editing-wise, my wife is my primary editor.  We’ve all been given certain gifts in this world and proofreading is certainly one of her many talents.  Plus, she’s a voracious reader of fiction, and a great asset for my novels.  When she enjoys my work, I know I’m doing something right.

What inspired you to author this book?

I let this novel (just like every fictional piece I author) write itself.  This particular story idea began with just a few fractured pieces of the bigger puzzle.  For example, I was training quite a bit of kung fu at that time, which took up quite a bit of physical and mental energy.  Fighting techniques were constantly streaming in the background of my grey matter.  I was also reading and watching quite a bit of fictional police/detective content back then.  Bam.  That was stored for later use.  Next, my experience as a collegiate and professional athlete began to integrate with the other two themes. Finally, once I felt like I had the making of a decent story, I put my butt in a chair, and began to hash it out.  I’m a bit of a pantser, so that’s what works best for me.      

Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?

I wanted the cover to give the reader some insight into Johnny Jo (the protagonist) and the overall storyline.  I’ve never been all that great of an artist, however, so I’m fortunate that I had a wonderful graphic designer who could transform my vision for the novel into an appealing cover.

Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?

My father has always been my superhero.  As a child, I watched him gut out a PhD while working over sixty hours per week in a Division-I weight room as the head strength and conditioning coach.  His life served as a template for my own, as I started out on both an athletic and academic journey. 

As far as writing influences go, The Hardy Boys series was the driving force behind my love for fiction.  I know.  You’re supposed to ramble off a few literary authors when asked this question.  Not me.  As a child, The Hardy Boys allowed me to escape my world for a bit, and help Frank and Joe Hardy solve their mystery.  I was hooked.  I didn’t need an adult author muse to inspire me to write novels.
What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?

Being that this is my second novel, the momentum was on my side as compared to the initial book.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, I was a scientist for most of my adult life, an academic.  In my 20s and 30s, the drive was there to write a work of fiction, but I honestly didn’t know if I had the chops to do it.  Prior to my first novel, everything that I had written was peer-reviewed and/or non-fiction type of stuff. 

I didn’t burn my ships and go all in until I was in my forties.  It just goes to show you that it truly is never too late!

Tell your readers about your book.

Johnny Jo grew up in the hard streets of Little Hong Kong.  With hard work, talent, and a little luck, he would be drafted into the coveted national football league (NFL).  After a very impressive rookie year with the San Francisco 49ers, Jo would mysteriously leave the NFL and disappear from the public eye, leaving both his closest friends and the media baffled. 

Fifteen years later, Jo reappears, when his childhood best friend, Detective Donald Jinx brings him onboard as a consultant in a bizarre murder case.  Jinx finds his old friend more mysterious than ever as the case begins to unfold.  Little does the detective know that Jo is racing against time, trying to save their city from the threat that lay beyond the realm of their own world.   
Who is your target audience, and why?

When I began writing novels, my goal was always to write books for guys who like action movies.  That was literally the tagline in my head.  Things have changed, however, and I find my books are for all adult readers who enjoy gritty urban thrillers.

If you were going to give one reason for anyone looking at your book to read, why should they buy it?

I remove the fluff from my novels.  Because I’m an independently published author, I’m not subject to mandatory word counts.  I don’t need, nor want to take up four pages here and there talking about things that have already been covered or describe the need for a specific pencil, gun, vehicle, etc., in painstaking detail.  You get a lean, mean novel when you read one of my books. 
What do you consider your greatest success in life?

My kids are the best things my wife and I have ever done.  Our children have the potential to do and to be so much more than we ever could.  It’s inspiring.

What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?

I include a workout routine that the protagonist uses himself – at the end of the book – for the reader to try.  I’m still an exercise physiologist, and passionate about fitness, so I infuse that love into my novels.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

Pantser it, all the way!  If I wrote a detailed outline with a concrete direction for the story, I’d feel like a robot tapping the keys.  I need the characters and environment to come alive, to jump off the page.  There have been many occasions during the writing of my first two novels where I sat back after writing a chapter and saying, “Damn, I can’t believe that just happened.”  When I sit down to write, the hay is in the barn, so to speak.  Everything I need to tell the story is in my frontal cortex, so I just put the thing on autopilot and enjoy the show.

When I write in this way, absolutely no writer’s block.

What one piece of advice do you have for new authors.

Start.  If you think there’s a novel or two inside of that beautiful dome of yours, then it’s time to go all in.  B.I.C.  This acronym stands for butt in chair.  Park it and start clamoring away at the keys.  It’s the only way you’re going to know if you’re cut out to do this or not.  I guess that’s two pieces of advice, eh?  Oh well, I’ll send the bill later.

Tell your readers anything else you want to share.

Bruce Lee once said that, “I fear not the man who practices ten thousand kicks one time, but I fear the man who practices one kick ten thousand times.”  Stay focused on one thing at a time.  See it through to its completion.  Or discard it entirely.  Only then, should you move on to your next venture.  I struggle with staying focused, too, but know it’s necessary to have both a fruitful writing career and life.