The Things That Matter

I’ve said it already. In fact, I said it in a blog I wrote back at the beginning of the year, but I’ll say it again, because all of a sudden, it’s very relevant.

If we were sat down on January first, of any given year, and told all the things that were going to happen in the next twelve months, it would scare the dickens out of us. 2012 isn’t even half over yet, and the changes and events in my life this year have been nothing short of spectacular.

I’ve been incredibly lucky in the last few months, and yes, I worked hard to make sure luck fell into place, but I admit some of it was still luck. My novel, My Temporary Life, has done really well. After a slow start in January, it took off in February. It’s now May, and I’m inching towards 100,000 downloads of my ebook every day. I actually can’t believe that I just typed that, but it is indeed true. Almost 100,000 folks have downloaded my book. Some of them were during Amazon’s free promotions, but nevertheless, lots of people have my words in their possession. It’s been on several of Amazon’s bestseller lists, as well as other independent sites too. At one point it was the most downloaded ebook in North America for over twenty-four hours. And, the reviews have been really good, too. Currently there are 90 Five Star reviews on Amazon’s site and we have a 4.6 out of 5 average. There’s lots of other numbers too, but I won’t bore you with them.

All of these things didn’t go unnoticed.

Okay, I actually sent out press releases, that’s how they got noticed. I admit it.

After the press releases went out, the press took some interest.

A whole bunch of community newspapers in British Columbia featured the story of my book and my self-publishing journey

Amazon even mentioned me in a press release as one of their top authors of the month.

A ton of online blogs, and reviewers, and forums, interviewed me or asked me to write for them. “My Temporary Life” was awarded the Book Reader’s Appreciation Group medallion.

And then, Beverly Akerman interviewed me for an article in The Globe and Mail. They published a full page a few Saturdays ago.

That’s how I met David McColl.

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s second largest newspaper, and has a weekly readership of over a million people. Part of the article talks about my belief in the “pay it forward” philosophy, and how I believe that our community of indie writers has to work together, and help each other. I’ve received a ton of help myself, and I try to give back whenever I can. It’s incredibly satisfying to see another writer work hard, and succeed in getting their book into the hands of readers. As independent authors, we don’t have the resources that larger traditional publishing houses do, so my writer friends and I pool our information and work together trying to find ways to get our books noticed, and it works.

Anyway, back to the Globe and Mail. In the days after the article was published, I received a lot of emails. Some offered encouragement and support, others asked for assistance,  some folks gave me opportunities to write guest blogs, and there were requests for interviews, and companies trying to sell me products, and, in amongst them all, I received an email from David McColl. It was David’s email that made everything stop; his message put everything into perspective.

In April of 2011, tragedy struck David’s family when his nineteen year-old son, Tony, was killed in motor vehicle accident. Tony, a big, popular kid, was driving four friends home from a party. The friends had been drinking, and Tony had offered to drive them home. Their vehicle was hit by a car that, minutes earlier, was being followed by the police. The other driver was suspected of driving under the influence. Tragically, both Tony and the other driver were killed, and the four passengers were injured. A lot of people’s lives changed that night; David McColl’s was one of them.

Within a short period of time, Tony’s friends founded a movement, and Tony’s Promise was born. A year later, there is a website

and a Facebook page,!/groups/tonyspromise/

Seven thousand people have taken the pledge to not allow friends to drive under the influence. These kids, and relatives, and friends of Tony’s want to save people’s lives. It’s as simple as that. In reading comments and watching videos on the two sites, it becomes apparent very quickly that Tony was a special person, and he touched a whole lot of people.

Tony’s father, David, has been on his own journey. David wrote a book. The book is about dealing with grief. It’s written from a place where, fortunately, few of us have ever had to go. He emailed me after seeing the Globe article and said he was considering self-publishing, and wondered if I had any hints for him. I picked up his email on my phone and read it aloud to my partner, Jacquie, while we were having dinner at a restaurant. Sitting in a booth at the Olive Garden, the two of us had tears running down our faces.

Of all the gifts I’ve received since “My Temporary Life” was released, this is the most significant. What a privilege to be able to offer help to a man who has written something that has the potential to help so many people. After several emails back and forth, David and I made a connection on the telephone. You bet I’m going to try and help him. His book, “A Father’s Tears” is currently with editor number one. From there, he’s having it edited a second time, and then, I’ve lined up some beta readers, and, after that, it’ll be put together as a print and ebook.  I read it this past weekend and he’s done what he set out to do. He’s managed to put his raw feelings on those pages. The bottom line is-this book is going to help people.

I’m going to talk and write about David’s book a lot over the next while, on my website , on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else I can. You know there are books and sales and rankings, and then there are men like David McColl. The last time I spoke to him he was due to speak at a local high school the next day. David isn’t a public speaker, and he wasn’t looking forward to it. He did it though, and afterwards he said “A few ounces of sweat to save some lives is well worth it.”

I’m grateful for so many things My Temporary Life has brought me, connecting with David McColl might just be the most important of all of them. You just never know what’s going to happen to you throughout the course of a year, do you? You just never know.


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