When did you know you were a writer?
Good question. I started out aspiring to be a sportswriter because I have a passion for sports. When I got to that point in my career where I was doing what I thought would make me happy, I had a great epiphany. While it was cool to be paid to watch and write about sports, to interact with coaches and athletes, I realized college and pro sports had become a world of coaches who micro-manage their programs, limit media access and repeat tons of cliches. It just got old.
Athletes are coached how to speak to the media and few ever say anything interesting, and when they do, it goes viral. People watch the games or follow their teams online, so why would they ever read my story? I also realized that article I worked so hard to write under deadline didn’t matter to people. As one friend often said, “My newspaper article has become the lining of a birdcage somewhere.” There will always be an audience for the world of sports, I felt my work was irrelevant.
I realized I wanted to write stories that mattered to people, something that could inspire or make a difference in someone’s life. That led me to write for the Deseret News, where I have found a niche talking to all kinds of people about faith and family values. Once I started writing stories that I knew mattered to people, I became more confident in my writing and knew I was a writer. One of the first assignments I received was to get San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle to talk about his decision to join the Mormon Church. That assignment led to the book.
From the time you knew you were a writer, how long did it take to sign your first publishing contract, and what are the most important things you did to help you reach this milestone?
Once Weddle agreed to let me write his story, it took about two and a half years to get the contract, three years to the publish and release. Although Weddle is an NFL player, there was no guarantee of being published. I went forth anyway, on my own dime and time, trusting that things would work out. That is important factor No. 1, Sometimes you have to take a risk and go for it despite no guarantees. No 2, worthwhile projects sometimes require sacrifice. Writing this book required me to sacrifice a lot of late nights, early mornings, weekends and holidays. No. 3, when adversity comes, don’t give up. There were a few minor setbacks, but you just keep working. I was led to the right people at the right time and the hard work paid off when I received word that Shadow Mountain wanted to publish the book. In the end, I received positive feedback from a lot of readers who said Eric’s story had inspired or motivated them. Knowing that something I had written had made a difference for others was the ultimate payoff.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received in your publishing journey?
Along the way I was able to befriend some successful authors who shared great advice. One encouraged me to only write about things you have a passion for, otherwise you may never finish the project.
When it comes to developing or editing your book, another author told me to pick one or two people you really trust and don’t share the manuscript with anyone else. I found that to be sound advice.
Would you ever consider self-publishing – why?
Yes. With all the technology and options, why not? As long as I spend the time to develop a quality product. It’s more difficult in many ways, but if a writer can dissect the process and develop a following/fan base, why not? The writer does all the hard work, why not reap all the reward? I have heard some great success stories with self-publishing.
What are you currently working on?
Another good question. Since publishing the “Eric Weddle Story,” I have been developing some ideas. My two most promising ideas were shot down by the publisher shortly after I began working on them. I am continuing to brainstorm for the right idea.
What’s something your fans may not know about you?
While I develop the idea for the next book, I have remained busy by working on other worthwhile projects related to my family history. I have written a few life histories of family members and ancestors, including my late grandparents, which I shared with my family. I really loved my grandparents, so that was a special project. That’s something else I would to share with people: While writing fiction or non-fiction may be your passion, consider devoting some of your time and talents to your family history. It may prove to be one of the most meaningful writing projects of your life.