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.

All Work and No Quarantine

All Work and No Quarantine

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve noticed some people with the illness trying to continue working as though there’s not a viral death sentence canvassing the globe. If you’ve paid attention to the news lately, you’ve probably seen Chris Cuomo trying to continue his TV show while battling COVID-19 or UK prime minister Boris Johnson trying to run his government even while in the ICU.

As stupid as it sounds, it’s hard for me to fault people like this, people who try to go about their jobs and daily lives, unfazed by the reality of a deadly virus. It’s hard for me to fault them because, once upon a time, I did the same thing.

When I first got sick in 2010, I was diagnosed with mononucleosis and thought I could push through it. I thought I’d feel like shit for a few weeks but I could suck it up and carry on with my daily life, fulfilling my obligations while waiting until the virus passed. But I couldn’t. As time went on, I found that I couldn’t keep up with my normal routine. I certainly tried though. I taught group fitness classes (my job at the time) and attempted to finish my last semester of college. It didn’t go well.

At the peak of my stubbornness, I stayed in bed for two days straight, gathering my strength to teach one of my fitness classes. I was trying to maintain my appearance as a healthy fitness instructor, but I was failing, and in the process I was making myself sicker. The lengths I went to for a little bit of normalcy were not worth the consequences.

My condition got worse and soon I realized that I couldn’t live my normal life as long as I was sick. I couldn’t push my symptoms aside until the virus passed because, at the pace I was going, the healing process would only be stunted and my body would never fully recover.

Sure enough, a decade later, my body still hasn’t fully healed. Did working while I was sick make my illness worse? Probably. It definitely didn’t help. Now I’m mostly bedridden, I can’t walk, and I struggle to speak audibly.

But even with a lethal pandemic plaguing the world, I can’t say that I’ve completely learned my lesson. Thankfully I don’t have pressing obligations like Boris Johnson, Chris Cuomo, or even a regular citizen trying to stay afloat in a downed economy. I’m too sick to have much in terms of obligations, and perhaps that’s why it’s easy for me to sit here and tell people not to work during this pandemic. Though there is a difference between working while you’re sick and working while trying to avoid getting sick.

It goes without saying that if you have the coronavirus, you should quarantine yourself and not work for your sake and the sake of everyone you could potentially give it to.

It’s a bit more complicated, of course, for the vast majority of people, those who don’t have the virus but do need an income. I know what that’s like too, having to work and go to school in order to stay afloat with a mysterious virus swirling around. My virus wasn’t killing tens of thousands of people, but the weight of it combined with my obligations and stubbornness felt like having sand bags constantly strapped to my chest. I pushed myself too far, which seemed like a bad idea back then (and still does), but I didn’t know how to stop myself from working. I didn’t listen to my better judgment because I was in survival mode, and sometimes you just have to do whatever it takes to survive.

This is all to say that, whether you have the virus or you’re just trying to avoid getting it, it’s not a good idea to work. I understand the dilemma. It’s not an easy decision, but as I’ve learned the hard way, if you make the wrong choice and try to push through it, you’re body may override you. Then you’re screwed. So make the right choice and don’t push yourself too much. Whatever that means for you.

BEFORE YOU GO… 

1. Thanks for reading!

2. Some GOOD NEWS: My memoir, WHEN FORCE MEETS FATE, is now available for preorder on Amazon (Canada, Australia, etc.), B&N, and Booktopia. If you’ve already ordered it or plan to, the book will be published January 2021 and all copies will be delivered then. We’re currently working on a new cover for the book (that’s why there’s no thumbnail on the listing yet). I will be unveiling the cover before its published and I’m also working on the audiobook, which I’m excited about. I’ll have some big announcements in the weeks and months leading up to the release of the book. Stayed tuned!