I Wrote 90,000 Words on my Smartphone. And I Wasn’t Texting.

I Wrote 90,000 Words on my Smartphone. And I Wasn’t Texting.

I wrote a book on my smartphone. It took me the better part of a decade, but I was able to type out all 90,000 words of my memoir, When Force Meets Fate, on a tiny 4.7 inch iPhone screen. It wasn’t my preference, or even a shameless quest to stand out in an industry that publishes hundreds of thousands of books each year. No. I wrote a book on my phone because I’m disabled, and it was my only option.

My disability began as a viral illness, which, over several years, developed into myalgic encephalomyelitis — an energy-leeching, multi-system disease that Dr. Anthony Fauci has compared to “long haul” COVID

For the first few years, I was constantly fatigued and plagued by weakness and nausea, but I could still take care of myself and work from home as an editorial assistant. 

It was around this time that I started working on When Force Meets Fate, which focused on my battle with chronic illness and disability. But three years after I began writing, my condition worsened. Suddenly I couldn’t walk or eat on my own. I was too weak to speak and couldn’t use my phone. Finishing my book became an even more difficult task, if not an impossible one.

For months, I had to use hand signals to communicate, and my only nourishment came from liquid meals, which I had to drink through a straw.

Eventually, after lots of steroids and antiviral medications, my health began to improve. I could speak softly and eat solid food again. And while I wanted to finish my book, I still wasn’t quite up to it. So I started writing essays. 

In 2017, I wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times titled, ”Surviving by Smartphone,” describing how I needed my phone to communicate. What I didn’t mention was how I also needed it to write that very article. 

A year later, I wrote an essay called, ”Love Means Never Having to Say . . . Anything,” also on my phone. It was published by The New York Times for its “Modern Love” column. 

But these were relatively short pieces (both under 2,000 words). If I wanted to finish my book, I would have to replicate them 50 times. I was determined to do just that. I didn’t think about how daunting it was, I just put my thumbs on the screen and got to typing. 

My phone was too bright, worsening my neurological symptoms, so I wore sunglasses to shield my eyes, sometimes even strapping on welding or tanning goggles for added protection. There I was, lying in a small hospital bed, finishing my book with a pair of hot pink tanning goggles on.

Typing tens of thousands of words on tiny digital keys was extremely difficult, but the hardest part was editing — dissecting grammar and sentence structure with big, clumsy thumbs and dark goggles over my eyes. I finally finished the manuscript, and moved on to finding a literary agent who could look for a publisher. I queried more than 100 agents, many of whom rejected my book proposal flat out.

I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. By this time, I had written several more essays and even appeared on Netflix, giving me a substantial platform with more than 50,000 social media followers. It seemed as though I had everything one would need to get a book deal. But, for some reason, it just wasn’t meant to be. 

I briefly considered self-publishing, but I wanted a publisher who could provide my memoir with a broader audience than I could give it on my own. I decided to use Inkshares, a crowdfunding publisher, who agreed to publish my memoir after I sold more than 750 pre-orders. 

That was more than a year ago, and now, after approving the book’s interior and cover design, even proofing the audiobook, all on my phone, my memoir is being read by people all over the world. 

Some may think writing a book on a phone is impressive, others may think it’s impossible, but when you’re disabled and all you want is to tell your story, it doesn’t matter how you do it. For those of us with disabilities, sometimes the hard way, or even the seemingly impossible way, is the only way.

BEFORE YOU GO . . .

1. Please support this blog by ordering a copy of my memoir, WHEN FORCE MEETS FATE. And if you’d like to support the book, please leave it a review on Amazon. The book is available from:

US: AmazonAppleTargetBarnes and NobleGoogle PlayBooksAMillionBook Depository(ships worldwide for free!), IndieboundBookShop.

2. The audiobook is also available on all platforms, including Audible!

3. You can also support my blog by donating directly.

My Book is Officially Published!

My Book is Officially Published!

Today is a big day — my memoir, When Force Meets Fate, is officially published.

In addition to more than 70 reviews on Goodreads (4.66 stars), When Force Meets Fate has already received some solid press coverage. The Press Democrat did an excellent piece on the book, and it also received a glowing review in the Providence Journal.

I won’t say that I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid, because I probably cared more about firefighters back then, but I’ve definitely been imagining this moment for a long time. Over the course of the decade it took me to write When Force Meets Fate, there have been countless times in which I thought the book would never be published.

There was the time my laptop stopped working, and I lost all my drafts, only to miraculously recover one from an email. Then, of course, there was the eighteen month stretch when I was so sick I couldn’t speak, let alone finish writing the book.

There have been so many obstacles that could have prevented me from publishing this book, and in the end, I had to finish writing it on my phone, at times wearing tanning goggles because the screen was too bright. That should tell you how important it was for me to share my story. The thought of it has kept me going when I couldn’t speak or eat, when I very much thought death was lurking around the corner.

Little did I know, writing the book wouldn’t be the hardest part. Once I finally finished it, I had to find a publisher. It was a long and grueling process, which took up most of my free time from 2016 to 2019 (another story for another day), but I eventually found a publisher, and just as fate made me face the obstacles I wrote about in the book, it has now allowed me to share my story with the world.

Many, if not all, of the wonderful people who preordered the book have now received a copy. It’s a marvelous thing. But suddenly I’m seeing people reacting to something that, for such a long time, has been mine and mine alone. Now it’s out in the world and people are sharing their opinions of it through Goodreads reviews and Bookstagram posts.

These opinions have been overwhelmingly positive, but there have also been a few harsh criticisms. While many people have called my memoir the best book they’ve read in a long time, praising the story for its “honesty and openness,” others have said it’s not for them, calling me self-destructive and “navel-gazey.”

Although I expected this, I didn’t fully grasp how it would feel. I knew there would be both good and bad opinions of the book, but now that I’m actually seeing the opinions, I find myself trying to cope with the fact that two people can have such dramatically opposing opinions of the same book. This realization hasn’t exactly made the negative reviews any easier to read, but I have found peace in knowing that if I had changed the book to appease one set of opinions, it would have created an entirely new set of negative opinions.

Through this, I have also realized a simple truth: my book can’t mean everything to everybody, but it can mean everything to me. And now it does.

BEFORE YOU GO…

1. As I just mentioned, WHEN FORCE MEETS FATE is now available for order. If you’d like to support the book please leave it a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Also, here’s a list of places to order the book (by country):

US: Amazon, Apple, Target, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, BooksAMillion, Book Depository (ships worldwide for free!), Indiebound, BookShop.

Canada: Amazon, Kobo, Chapters/Indigo

UK: Amazon

Australia: Booktopia

Mexico: Amazon

Germany: Amazon

Norway/Sweden: Book Depository, Adlibris

2. The audiobook is also available on all platforms, including Audible! Here is a sample of the audiobook:

3. You can also support the book by donating to help pay for the audiobook and publicist, expenses that will have to come out of my own pocket.

Almost Walking

Almost Walking

It’s been a rough year. I think we can all agree on that, so I thought I’d share some good news—my health has been improving lately. The other day I got out of bed and stood up three times in the span of a few hours, the most I’ve done in the last six years.

I’ve been measuring how much body weight I put on my legs using a bathroom scale. I step on the scale, and because it’s the first time I’ve been well enough to do so in years, I’m not entirely sure how much I weigh. But I am sure how much weight I can put on my legs. At first I could only put ten or twenty pounds on the scale. Now I can push off of my bed and put what I believe is all of my body weight on it. The fact that I’m able to put any weight on it is progress for me, but using all of my body weight is something I haven’t done since I became bedridden in 2015.

It has been quite a journey since then. For a long time I was too sick to speak or eat; I couldn’t even sit-up in bed or look at my phone. Now I’m eating and speaking, and hopefully soon I’ll try to walk.

It blows my mind that I’m so close to walking again. When I stand up and put my feet on the floor, the cold surface tingling my toes, it’s exciting (and exhausting) to know that all I have to do is take a step and I’ll be walking. But taking the first step is always the hardest, and before I do, I need to make sure my legs are strong enough and my balance is steady.

The tricky part about this phase of my recovery is that I can’t afford to fall. Normally I’d be willing to take the risk, and potentially fall on my face, but in the midst of a deadly pandemic, I just can’t risk getting the coronavirus because I need someone (or multiple people) to help me get up.

So I’m being very careful, going slow and safe, but I’m also staying consistent with my rehab. I’m not going to use COVID as an excuse to not make progress. I am still working hard to get better every day. I’m doing light stretches and exercises with my feet and legs before I stand up multiple times a day.

It feels good to make this kind of progress, reminding me of what it used to feel like to work out with heavy dumbbells, back when I measured my progress by how many pounds I could take off the scale. Now I’m measuring my progress by how much weight I can put on it.

BEFORE YOU GO… 

1. Thanks for reading! If you haven’t already, please follow my blog.

2. For those who haven’t heard, my memoir, WHEN FORCE MEETS FATE, is going to be published next month.

You can read sample chapters, leave an early review on Goodreads (those really help!), and preorder it through Amazon and other online retailers, in both print and ebook. The audiobook is FINISHED! We’re just waiting for Audible and other retailers to approve it. I will keep you posted on that. For now, here is a sample of the audiobook:

You can also support the book by donating to help pay for the audiobook and publicist, expenses that will have to come out of my own pocket.

Here’s a list of places to order the book (by country):

US: Amazon, Apple, Target, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, BooksAMillion, Book Depository (ships worldwide for free!), Indiebound, BookShop. Canada: Amazon, Kobo, Chapters/Indigo UK: Amazon Australia: Booktopia Mexico: Amazon Germany: Amazon Norway/Sweden: Book Depository, Adlibris