Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m an engineer, a manager, a marketer, and a martial artist…and I suppose now, an author. This is my first book. I never had a desire to write a book until I was inspired by my wife’s struggle with cystic fibrosis and her journey to get a double lung transplant. I left my job to be by her side in the hospital for 6 months while she was on a ventilator and not expected to survive. I wrote this book to share with people the thoughts and beliefs that kept me strong through a battle on some many fronts.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
“Lessons from a CF Cornerman: 38 Lessons I Learned During my Wife’s Illness and Lung Transplant” was inspired by a lifetime in martial arts. I had always seen myself as a fighter until life had put me in the position where I could not fight that battle. The best thing I could do was to be in her corner and provide the best possible support for my wife as she fought to stay alive. Besides…if I used a literal description in the title it would have lost it’s pizzazz. Who wants to read “Lessons from a Hairbrusher” or “Pocketbook Holder” or “Leg-shaver”? My guess, maybe 11 people.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I actually wrote most of this book on my iPad while sitting in the hospital room with Rebecca. I did it because that was where I spent my day and I did not want to forget any details. I think it actually made the story much better because every event and emotion was fresh on my mind as I wrote the first draft. When I went back through it the first time I found myself getting caught up in emotion and even remembering things that I would have otherwise forgotten. It was extremely inefficient since I can actually type. Not to brag but I received an A- in “Keyboarding for personal use” back in high school. Perhaps I should have mentioned that along with my college degrees…
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I love non-fiction and I wanted to write a book that I would enjoy reading. I’ll read anything I feel I can learn from or that gets me thinking. I’ve read everything by Malcolm Gladwell and enjoyed the books “Freakonomics”, “Born a Crime”, and “The Language of God” which are probably the best examples. I also enjoy books by Tim Ferriss.
What are you working on now?
I am actually working on launching a speaking career. For years I’ve spoken at events for the cystic fibrosis foundation and now I believe that is the best way to get the message out and share what I’ve learned and documented in my book. I really enjoy interacting with people and having good discussions. After seeing what good caregivers and today’s amazing technology is capable of, I am filled with hope for the next generation. Children diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and a variety of other illnesses are in good hands. When my wife’s lungs stopped working (even with the help of a ventilator) they pumped all of her blood continuously through a machine that added oxygen and removed carbon dioxide. WHAT?!? She survived on this (ECMO) for over two weeks while we waited for donor lungs. Wow.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
For me, the oldest ways have worked the best…talking to people. Perhaps it’s because there are so many books out there, or because people don’t read as much, or maybe because they think our story might be depressing, but I’ve not found a way to promote interest better than engaging one-on-one. It’s good to have a website or Facebook page to send people to but I’ve found that without a little interaction, people are hesitant to pull the trigger. I understand this because a book is a time commitment and for me, I consider the value of my time much more valuable than the $20 it takes to buy a book.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I’m not sure I’m the right one to speak on this. I guess what I would say is to do a little everyday and don’t get overwhelmed by the “to do” list. A colleague of mine from Guadalajara would always say “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer was “One bite at a time.” I will now apologize for voicing that terrible thought but it’s good advice.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Darnit, I just used my elephant advice. Okay, I’ll quote a lesson from my book “Lesson 4: Be thankful.” There is a slight possibility that I am not the FIRST person to say this but in the context of our journey I found it incredibly helpful. It resets you and forces a positive perspective. When Rebecca was in a chemically-induced coma and I was experiencing a rush of emotions…dread, sadness, empathy, regret…I stopped to recognize that all of our experiences over the past 17 years had led me there. We had great memories, a lot of success, and we had grown a lot together. There was nothing we could do about her health but I was thankful that I had the previous 17 years with her and I would not trade them for anything.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading “When to Rob a Bank” by the guys that did “Freakonomics.” They do an amazing job uncovering people’s true motivations and exposing our idiosyncrasies. I don’t always agree with their conclusions but they really make you think about why we do the things we do.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I enjoy blogging for the cystic fibrosis foundation and writing articles for caregiving organizations as well. It gives me the chance to share and highlight the lessons I’ve learned and get my message out. The comments also give me a chance to interact with other people with similar challenges and compare stories. One of the things that surprised me about writing the book was how much I enjoyed hearing people’s stories. Whether I write another book or not, I will continue to share lessons and encourage discussions.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
1. “The Art of War” – I’ve never read it but I feel that on a desert island, I’d have time.
2. “Outliers” – I would want the motivation to use that time to get better at something. With potentially tens of thousands of hours available to me, I would want to take advantage of that time.
3. “The Language of God” – I would want that reminder that there was a higher power. I know I should say the bible here but I don’t think I would read it enough to justify it. Stop judging me, I’m the one stuck on the island!
4. “Ship building and Island Survival” If I could not find a single book that covered these topics well enough I’d sacrifice any of the other books. Above all, survive.