Scaling the book-writing mountain - Catholic Courier

Scaling the book-writing mountain

I’d always had a vague sense that I wanted to write a book — what writer doesn’t? But after 25 years in journalism and no best-sellers — or worst-sellers or any-sellers — to my credit, perhaps the desire simply wasn’t strong enough.

Then one night in 2006, an autistic basketball manager from Greece Athena High School scored 20 points in just a few minutes of his only varsity game. Jason "J-Mac" McElwain and his coach, Jim Johnson, became overnight celebrities. Soon thereafter, Coach Johnson was seeking a writer to help him tell the behind-the-scenes story of that miracle event. Because we are longtime friends, we became a book-writing team as well.

My kids were 5, 3 and 2 years old at the time, and my wife and I were working full-time — not great timing for adding a book project to the mix. But, coincidentally, both my own sons were diagnosed on the autism spectrum around the same time. So now I had a highly compelling personal reason for doing this book.

It’s a daunting quest to get published. Mixed in with many rejections were enough efforts at revision and proofreading to make your head spin. I now know why most would-be book authors don’t get much past the dream stage. So making it to the finish line is something I don’t take lightly!

We’re very pleased with the result. A Coach and a Miracle (Beacon Publishing) was officially released March 15. It’s available online and in bookstores, and if you’d like to purchase a signed copy, come to our launch party at the Greece Athena gymnasium Saturday, March 19 (6 to 8 p.m.), or Sacred Heart Cathedral on Sunday, April 10, after 9:15 a.m. Mass. Coach Johnson and I will be at both events, and J-Mac is expected at the launch party, too.

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