Step Into Your Story
I didn’t want to be on the cover of Ordinary Hero.
So I, along with my editor and art designer, spent weeks creating a cover that visually captured the book’s message while keeping my Anglo-Saxon face off it.
I realize now, my reluctance to grace the cover was twinged by fear. I wanted to play it safe. I wanted to hide behind my story. I didn’t want my picture attached to my book even though my blog is a virtual shrine to my face.
I know, it didn’t make sense.
I guess, a book cover portrait felt so big and permanent and revealing. Like I was announcing a deep secret to the world.
I asked my editor and art designer to work on something I that knew, in my heart, wasn’t going to work. I knew I had to brave up and embrace my story. And even though Ordinary Hero is a weave of my life, I felt a photograph of just myself (save Clark Able) was too risky. Too revealing. Too vain. Too vulnerable.
The eventual cover photo was taken by my wife on a perfect July afternoon. With our two boys in tow, we went to a local park to take a few pictures of me and Clark Able. I was a bit nervous. A bit uncomfortable. If Clark was either or both, he didn’t show it.
I was secretly hoping none of the pictures would be good book cover material– a closed eye here, a crooked smile there– so I could go on creating a faux-cover that really wasn’t right for the book but offered me a layer of protection from the scrutiny and judgment I feared.
When we returned home on that perfect July afternoon, I sat on the porch and scrolled through the hundreds of pictures my wife took of me. Beyond the porch my sons played soccer in the backyard. Chase was goalie and Dylan lined up for what looked like a penalty kick.
“To win the World Cup,” Dylan announced.
Dylan took a deep breath, sprinted to the ball, kicked, and the ball sailed wide left of the silver goal post and vanished in the green backyard brush. Dylan fell to his knees. Chase cheered. The make believe crowd with their make believe hearts and bellies and tear ducts felt–what I imagine–was the magical twinge of being alive.
I looked down at my phone and scrolled until I found a picture of myself and Clark Able. He’s standing straight and stoic as ever, unfazed by camera, and I’m sitting casually on a concrete step, with a brick wall behind me, elbows on my knees, sleeves of my finest shirt rolled, hands holding one another, half-smiling and looking up and out into the perfect blue sky trying my best to ignore the camera. The moment I saw that picture–in my heart and belly and tear ducts–I felt that very real twinge of being alive.
Maybe it was love at first sight. Maybe it was the innate human ability to just know something. Or maybe I just know my own eyes. Maybe I knew that picture translated everything I felt inside. Caution. Wonder. Fear. Courage. Hope.
In order to move on, we must first acknowledge what’s happening now. The moment’s reality. Failing to accept reality creates unnecessary suffering. It creates confusion when clarity is desperately needed. And owning our story, owning reality is how we learn to accept ourselves in order to become our best selves.
I’ve learned, we don’t accept things to change things. Nor do we do accept to feel better. We accept because it’s the most logical thing to do.
Yes, Ordinary Hero is about how setbacks are important character building experiences. But the book–to me–is about learning to accept my disease, using my struggle to help you navigate your struggle, and having the courage to step into my story and put my face on the cover.
Look, everyday is hard for me. I struggle everyday with acceptance and regret and bitterness and change. However, I realize all of us, disabled or not, struggle with those things. We don’t need to be ashamed of those things. I believe Ordinary Hero will help you see your adversities with a new perspective and swell your courage. It’s a book, with a handsome devil on the cover, who was reluctant to grace said cover. And who feels the urge to quit–everyday.
But he hasn’t.
And neither should you.
Big Announcement…Dramatic drum roll…
On 12/1/23 Ordinary Hero is going worldwide. Yes, OH will be available for global distribution, which means you can grab a copy at your local bookstore or library even if your local bookstore or library is in Peru.
And also 12/1/23…(dramatic drum roll again) Ordinary Hero will be available in hardback… just in time for the holidays. So you can be a holiday hero and gift everyone on your list a hardback copy of Ordinary Hero.
6 Reasons Why You Should Buy Ordinary Hero Right Now:
1. It’s about everyday life and the wisdom waiting for you in the pearls of your routine.
2.Charles Swchab would probably agree that in today’s market, Ordinary Hero is a sound investment.
3.If you enjoy my first book, Bedtime Stories for the Living, you’ll love this book.
4. The book will make you laugh, cry, appreciate life, offer comfort, and help you overcome challenges.
5. The book includes stories about my dog Maggie May. I recently read a New York Times article that explains why books about dogs are wildly popular. People love to read about dogs and their joy, comfort, and curiosity.
6. You should pre-order Ordinary Hero for just $.99 now and on 11/1 you should probably buy a few paperbacks, and when the books arrive, go to the local dog park and hand them out to dog owners and tell them there are stories in there about dogs. If you do that, you’ll be the coolest cat at the dog park.
Greetings to everyone who found me on the University of Pennsylvania’s Ataxia Clinic’s website! Thanks for stopping by. I have ataxia and though I’m not a doctor, I hope my words comfort, encourage, empower, and serve as good company on your journey.
November Book Promos for You:
Are looking for inspiration? Are you searching for a better version of yourself?
This month I joined literary forces with some best-selling authors in two awesome book promotions. Click the link below:
Recent letters you may enjoy:
Jay Armstrong is a speaker and an award-winning author. Despite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. The leader of the Philadelphia Ataxia Support Group, he hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life.
For Jay, a good day consists of 5 things:
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents or a drink with his friends)
Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time.
You can also visit Jay at jayarmstrongwrites.com