Becoming an Author Changed My Life

December 13th represents my publishing anniversary. On December 13th, 2011 my memoir Off Balanced hit the e-book market (Kindle and Nook). Last year I commemorated the occasion by reflecting on the publishing process.

This year I want to explore how becoming a published author changed my life, really in unforeseen ways. Thinking back these changes could only occur unforeseen. In 2011 I focused on staying the course with the publishing process. If you watched the embedded video above, you know that means marketing my book.

Belief in Off Balanced’s ability to empower others with cerebral palsy and educate their parents, teachers, classmates, friends, etc. left me fully concentrated on promotion. No thought entered my mind about how becoming a published author could change my life.

Webinar panelist Zachary Fenell

Sound checked and ready for “Finding your Way: Transitioning from High School to College.”

As the time passed though, I began noticing changes both professionally and personally. Professionally the changes proved multiple. Opportunities came to me due to Off Balanced. For example, last December Parent to Parent of Georgia asked me to serve as a panelist for their webinar “Finding your Way: Transitioning from High School to College.”

Another change manifested through learning new skills. Social media played and still does play a vital role in getting Off Balanced out there. Subsequently I ended up enhancing my social media skills, especially with Twitter and Youtube. Without my online book marketing experiences I never become qualified to hold a position like Online Relationship Manager for Handicap This Productions (HTP).

Plus, who knows what my relationship with HTP or author/motivational speaker John W. Quinn looks like without Off Balanced. Going back to early 2011 I read about Handicap This and John, looking up to them awed by their stories. Upon my inquiries both Tim Wambach from HTP and John agreed to read Off Balanced and provide promotional blurbs. Those inquiries seem like pivotal moments leading to stronger connections with people I possess utmost respect for.

Now the aforementioned offers a solid transitioning point to discuss personal change. Receiving respect back from those you look up to supplies a confidence boost. So does writing a book warmly received by readers. The average reader review for Off Balanced stands at 4.5 stars. Awesome for a five-star system!

Possessing such confidence boosts helps to maintain confidence, not always an easy task since life hits hard. As star power and mushrooms aid Mario, my confidence boosts aid me to keep going during trying circumstances.

To anyone out there contemplating writing a book, I recommend you pursue the ambitious endeavor. From my experience your hard work will pay off in rewarding ways.

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#CPChatNow Hits One Year Milestone

#CPChatNow

Graphic (put together by Sarah Wambach) used to promote the first #CPChatNow

This past week the live cerebral palsy Twitter chat #CPChatNow reached the one year milestone! Yes, one year passed since John W. Quinn, Handicap This’ Tim Wambach, and I hosted the very first live #CPChatNow discussion Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013.

As public figures in the cerebral palsy community we welcomed people with CP, their family members, caregivers, and whoever else to come ask us questions about CP. Demands for another live #CPChatNow chat rose leading #CPChatNow to quickly turn into a weekly deal.

Each week new and familiar faces alike joined in. A few months later the demographic shifted to mostly people with CP evolving #CPChatNow into a support group. Every Wednesday at 8pm EST we took to Twitter to announce exciting news, vent our frustrations, and bond over experiences others with CP could best understand.

The connections we made transcended Twitter and the Internet. Two young women with CP who actually attended the same elementary school (albeit grades apart) re-connected due to #CPChatNow. Through their travels Handicap This met different #CPChatNow regulars in-person.

So far I personally enjoyed meeting in-person Blake, a young man with much potential. 2015 should see me getting the chance to meet more #CPChatNow kin in-person. No matter what 2015 brings though, the aforementioned demonstrates the real, meaningful connections made by the live chat.

Now the year also saw other commitments leave my #CPChatNow co-hosts John and Tim to step back from the weekly chat. Upcoming events however should stir new excitement within the live chat’s community.

Like the #CPChatNow Facebook page to stay informed. Join the conversation on Twitter every Wednesday starting at 8pm EST. Do so with these three easy steps listed in the following graphic.

#CPChatNow Instructions

#CPChatNow takes place every Wednesday at 8pm EST.

FYI we do still welcome participation from everyone. In other words cerebral palsy parents, caregivers, and curious strangers. Come join us! You might just find our feedback helpful.

Goal to Walk a Half Marathon

Me after my Inside the Park Home Run walk

Hanging out around Progressive Field’s visitor dugout after completing the Inside the Park Home Run fun walk.

Last weekend I participated in the Inside the Park Home Run event at Progressive Field, which featured a four-mile run and one mile fun walk. Now I completed the latter, marking my first official mile since elementary school. Heading into the event excitement filled me. The course ended on Progressive Field, sacred land to a big Cleveland Indians fan like me. More so though, the event represented progress in my goal to walk a half marathon.

Flashback three plus years ago to March 2011 when I read Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy by John W. Quinn. Reading about John’s Navy career left me wanting more experiences for my life. Specifically I desired to challenge my body’s limits the way John did every day at sea serving our country.

At the time two friends I saw weekly Alex (RIP) and T.jaye remained hard at work training for a triathlon, leaving me to think “I’ll run, well walk, a marathon.” Further thought led me deeming a half marathon a more reasonable goal. After all, back then I maxed out at four miles on my stationary bike.

With a goal set, I casually began training. Very casually! To build up my endurance I turned to my stationary bike. December 2012 I completed 13 miles on my stationary bike for the first time. Walking 13 miles however proves more difficult due to my gait. Thanks cerebral palsy!

While I started walking more, again I did so very causally. The Inside the Park Home Run fun walk leaves me motivated to work harder. Following my casual mile completion time 28:01 I’m curious what time I could achieve if I give 100%.

Buying a pedometer becomes a priority for me so I can track my distances walked and work down my times to the point where I can complete a 5k within a reasonable mark, my next short-term goal on my journey to a half marathon.

How about you? What long-term goals do you possess? How do you plan to get there? Share via commenting below.

Life Update

Six Fridays without a post, time can sure move rapidly sometimes. Yet ironically enough the past six weeks felt like months. Hard to believe just one month ago I tagged along with my uncle to fly out to Tucson, AZ to visit family, specifically my aunt. Touched by Aunt Ellen’s dedicated support for my writing the last five years, I wished to reciprocate the support via visiting her as she bravely battles leukemia.

So my trip out west held somber roots but the positive person I am left me determined to make the most from the situation. Rather than rescheduling my appearance on Sarah Sweeney’s online radio show Differently Abled, I planned around the live show. You can listen to the archived version here.

John W. Quinn & I

One of my #CPChatNow co-host and fellow author (Someone Like Me) John W. Quinn

Additionally I met John W. Quinn in the flesh, complete with a tour around his office containing the memorabilia one collects serving in the Navy 20 years. Even better I enjoyed the sunny Tucson winters John likes to quip about on social media. In fact between the weather and Aunt Ellen’s uncertain future, I possessed little desire to return to Cleveland.

Finally a week after my return I started regaining my normal day-to-day enthusiasm. Then I received a massively deflating phone call. My good friend Alex Dumas unexpectedly passed away Saturday, February 1st. Every single day the previous 20 days I found myself thinking about Alex. His friendship meant a lot to me. I hope you will take the time to read my Handicap This team blog post about him “A Friendship Transcended Abilities” and watch my video remembering him.

Back on the happy side I managed to begin working with a new client this month, Brilliant or Insane? Fun fact, I know the man behind the blog Mark Barnes because he taught my eighth grade English class, pretty cool right? I’m covering a Cleveland beat for his site. Checkout my first two pieces “Jim Thome Statue- Brilliant or a Shame?” and “Jason Aldean to Play Cleveland’s Progressive Field This Summer.”

Well now you know my whereabouts since January. I look forward to resuming my regular posting schedule. If you can relate to anything I mentioned in today’s post, feel free to share your insights by commenting below.

#CPChatNow Recap for 02-19-2014

#CPChatNow

Next Live Twitter Chat: Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 8pm EST

If you possess any connection to the cerebral palsy (CP) community, I encourage you to join our weekly live Twitter chat #CPChatNow Wednesdays at 8pm EST. Last night saw riveting conversation on everything from Handicap This Productions’ Web TV series and disability in film to dating and the pressures CP places on each gender. Personally though what I felt stood out the most revolves around the actions our chats drive.

Walk of Hope for Cerebral Palsy

Walk of Hope for Cerebral Palsy Logo

Hannah also shared a pretty awesome fun fact with everyone.

Reuniting Former Classmates

Like the Walk of Hope for Cerebral Palsy Facebook page to stay updated on Hannah and Alena’s event progress. Moving forward to last night’s riveting discussion, disability in film received much attention.

Disability in Cinema Disability in Cinema Inquiry Part II

John Quinn on Actors with Disabilities

Zachary Fenell on Actors with Disabilities

Lacking Opportunities for Disabled Actors

Guild for Disabled Actors the Answer

Ryan also created a lot discussion by asking about how men and women handle disabilities.

Gender Difference Inquiry Gender Difference Inquiry Part II

Alan's Gender Response P1Alan's Gender Response P2Alan's Gender Response P3

Equal Gender Pressures

Models with Disabilities

Also worth noting while wrapping up this recap, we shared t-shirt ideas last night. By making t-shirts we aim to help spread CP awareness. Please submit your ideas to our Facebook page Cerebral Palsy Twitter Chat #CPChatNow.

CP is Sexy T-Shirt Idea

Until next week remember those words from Tim Wambach.

“We can make anything happen!”

#CPChatNow Recap for 02-05-2014

#CPChatNow

Next Live Twitter Chat: Wednesday,February 12th, 2014 8pm EST

With each passing week I am increasingly impressed by the supportive and helpful nature emerging from the #CPChatNow community. In a way these weekly recaps provide evidence John Quinn, Handicap This, and my continual praise for the community remains well deserved.

You know what else demonstrates we started something special? The fact an imposter surfaced.

  @CPChatNow Account Warning

If you know anything about the person behind the account, please contact us on our Facebook page. Make sure to congratulate John too on his continued success promoting CP awareness.

John Quinn Magazine Spread

Green Bay CP Telethon

Feel free to wish Mike Berkson a belated Happy Birthday too.

Mike Berkson turned 25 years old February 4th.

Enough about us though. #CPChatNow works because we all find connection through shared experiences.

Walking with Hot Beverages

Awkward Staring

These commonalities turn #CPChatNow into a place to find emotional support and practical advice.

Rejected Accommodation

Appeal Process

Advice to Keep Warm

My Advice to Keep Warm

Sometimes we need to seek encouragement.

Handicap This Advice on Fear

John's Insights on Fear

Think big but remember thinking only begins your journey.

When plans fall apart improvise, adapt, and overcome

Together we can keep making Hump Day enjoyable! 😉

Enjoy Wednesday Nights with #CPChatNow

*Note to my regular Off Balanced blog readers, I will resume my Friday postings tomorrow, explaining my infrequent schedule recently and teasing information on some content I’m currently working on.

#CPChatNow Week Four Overview

#CPChatNow

Next Live Twitter Chat: Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Over the past month I mentioned the live Twitter chats John W. Quinn (@johnwquinn), Handicap This! (@HandicapThis), and I (@zacharyfenell) started hosting. By using the hash tag “#CPChatNow” Wednesdays at 8:00pm EST (7pm CST/5pm PST) you can join us to discuss everything cerebral palsy related. Beginning now Tim from Handicap This! and I will take turns recapping each discussion, with Tim’s recaps going up at www.handicapthis.com and mine here.

Given Christmas fell on Wednesday this week, we decided to hold our live Twitter chat #CPChatNow last night. You will find a few highlights below. Thank you to everyone who make these chats engaging and enriching.

John brought up a topic quite native to the season, New Year resolutions.

#CPChatNow

#CPChatNow

Everyone seemed to experience at least one “Why me?” moment throughout their lives.

#CPChatNow

Several Why Me Moments

An interesting question about bullying arose.

#CPChatNow

What makes a bully, bully?

Encouraging wisdom unfolded.

#CPChatNow

The above highlights just a few great tweets from last night’s chat. Please join us Wednesday, January 1st, 2014 at 8pm EST (7pm CST, 5pm PST) as we continue to build a more connected cerebral palsy community.

Establishing a Stronger CP Community

FYI regular Off Balanced blog readers, check back tonight for my usual disability related #FF suggestions.