Writing Your Unique Story with Dr. Demi Stevens
Dr. Demi Stevens 23:21
she’s gonna bake your cake or bread. There you go that very much, but not that much.
Dr. Russell Strickland 23:27
Because the thing that folks need to realize is that your dissertation is just a school project. It’s a huge, big, hairy, scary school project, the biggest one you’ll ever do. But, but but that’s where it ends for most people unless you spend a lot of time as some folks do. Get 900 h it’s and and make sure that there that there’s something there but but tell me a little bit about your all the folks that you’ve worked with to this point in with your the book Are there any fun or interesting stories that have come out of that? I know that there have been a lot of authors that have made a lot of strides going through this program with you.
Dr. Demi Stevens 24:12
Oh, my goodness, yeah, I’ve worked with. See, I don’t pride myself on ever being one of those folks will say I work with thousands and thousands of authors. I work with one person at a time. And I’ve worked with now 400 writers who have, actually Oh, excuse me. I’ve worked with 180 writers who’ve completed 400 books. So that’s very, very different. Many, many are now on their sixth or seventh book with me, because they unlocked something for them. They found this joy that they never imagined before. But most of the people are, folks, you wouldn’t say we’re set out on a literary adventure our minds their dads, their grandparents, their sometimes young people, sometimes high schoolers even or have worked with to elementary school students to publish their books. There are quite gifted a lot of stories probably. I guess when people normally ask me who’s your most successful author? They might be expecting me to point to someone like a Kim Walsh Phillips, who isn’t New York Times bestselling author and works, you know, in conjunction with big name people like Dan Kennedy, or another writer like Connie Sharon, who writes Scottish historical romances. I nicknamed The kilt burners and sell thousands of copies. But for me, honestly, the story I’ll always call is my greatest success. was working with the gentleman that first year when I was still at the library, before it became a business of it. On right? This gentleman was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He in one day’s battle, his entire company was killed except for him and the guy he carried out. And he battled survivor’s guilt for many, many, many years and wonder why, why was I left when all of my friends colleagues were taken, and he decided that it was so that he could share their story, that ultimate sacrifice and so he did all the research contacted the people in his chain of command, found diagrams of where they had been placed in the rice paddies, how they were laid out, the days leading up to that particular battle, and and how it all went down and put that together into a beautiful, beautiful narrative that he hoped We’d both honor his fallen comrades, as well as serve as a way to connect for other veterans to read this. But the market he didn’t expect and the connections that he didn’t anticipate before that were how powerful his book would be for the spouses and children of the veterans whose, whose dad whose husband had never been able to talk about, right, what happened for them there, and it opened up avenues for conversation, or for them just to have a window on on what it was, even if Batman still could not speak about what had happened. And we were just I was so so honored and thrilled to be part of that for him and to finally make that dream take place. But a couple of months after publication, we got word that he had gone to the shooting range one morning and As he was paying on his way out, chatting at the desk with some friends, he had a massive heart attack and died. Oh my gosh, just a couple of months after his book released and I was so overcome with grief and his friends from the writers group came with me. We went to Hanover, Pennsylvania, where he lived to the funeral and deed I tell you, we waited two hours in line in the parking lot, just to make it through the reception line to get to the door of the funeral home, to meet with his family. He was so I’m so beloved by his community, and his family as well and friends and all he done after the war. But when we got to greet his sister and his wife at the front, I say no, I have no words. I don’t know what to say. And she says, Demi, you don’t understand. You helped him do the one thing He said he needed to do before he left this earth. And in that moment, there were so few words still. But I realized that that was that’s my success story. I want people to finish the dream that they knew they could do and, or that they didn’t realize that they could do, right. That’s what I love about this. I love the stories. I love the connections. I love bringing people together. And I love when readers find the story that they need to help them get through another day. Yeah.
Dr. Russell Strickland 29:38
And that’s for a lot of writers. That’s what it’s all about is they have a message that they need to get out. And being able to share that message with the world is helpful for them internally and can be helped very, very helpful for the audience that they find. So that’s that’s amazing story.
Dr. Demi Stevens 29:56
Absolutely. So So yeah, that was that was the moment I knew. I was hooked. And it led to the creation of Year of the Book as a full fledged business on its own. And so now I help around 30 to 40 authors each year. One on one we don’t meet in big groups or anything. It’s all I help you and coach you cheerlead you through, talk you off the ledge, make great word choices, get professional cover design, and launch your book into the universe in a, in a way it deserves.
Dr. Russell Strickland 30:27
And that’s that’s the big point, the thing you just bury there at the end is that a lot of folks feel like they can write or they can get their message out. But a manuscript, a Word document is not the same thing as a book. So being able to turn that from something that is your heartfelt message into something with a cover and, you know, table contents and everything laid out to look like a book instead of you know, a manuscript is a huge thing that a lot of folks just would have a lot of trouble developing the skill set, so to be able to have that there. Even if you feel like you are a great writer is invaluable.
Dr. Demi Stevens 31:04
Absolutely. Because people will judge the interior of the book as much as they’ll judge the cover. If you don’t have page numbers, or they fall on the page that is supposed to be blank, you shouldn’t have a page number. Just still count in the numbering system.
Dr. Russell Strickland 31:18
Yeah. And there’s all these little details that you have to get right. So, of course, helping them you know, walking them through the process is amazing as well. I talk to our dissertation students all the time about you need to have someone to both celebrate and commiserate with both happen in the process
Dr. Demi Stevens 31:36
by so right on that.
Dr. Russell Strickland 31:38
So well, Dean, thank you so much, Dr. Stevens, for being here with us today. Tell us if if someone does have a message and they want to be able to share that with the world and they think that a book is the way to do that. What would you advise them to do? What should they do?
Dr. Demi Stevens 31:55
I would say if that book is a dissertation they need to reach out to you and Dissertation Done, and get your help so that they can get through it and enjoy the process as much as possible. But get to the other side. Absolutely get her done. That if that book is something else beyond a dissertation, feel free to reach out to me. I would say your first step is probably I don’t know draft a table of contents. What scenes Do you need to have in your book to tell the story in the in the biggest best way? Think about whether it’s nonfiction or if you need to protect those who might not not not be so innocent? After all, perhaps you need to fictionalize. Figure out what scenes are in the book and where it might sit in a library or in a bookstore. What genre is it? What categories and if you’re ready to write or if you already have your manuscript and it’s ready to edit, you can reach out to me I’m firstname.lastname@example.org like your of the book, press that And I’d be happy to work together and be an honor to help you bring your book into the world.
Dr. Russell Strickland 33:05
Awesome. That is, I’m sure going to be helpful for so many people because our the theme of our show here is is the unconventional life. And I know so many folks are out there, kind of living that unconventional life and to be able to share it to share their message with folks is a is a great gift that you can you can provide those people. So thanks so much for that.
Dr. Demi Stevens 33:29
Dr. Russell Strickland 33:30
All right. So I want to thank Dr. Stevens once again for joining us here on An Unconventional Life Podcast once again, where we share the stories of the 1% the unconventional 1% who not only earned their doctoral degrees, but then go on to leverage them in strange, unusual and unconventional ways. This episode has been brought to you by Dissertation Done. If you are in the process of working on your dissertation, thinking you might be working on your dissertation. Sometimes In the future, or supposed to be working on your dissertation but not actually getting much done, get get in touch with us at www.dissertationdone.com And Dr. Demi Stevens at Year of the Book Press So that was www.yotbpress.com. Was that right, Dr. Stevens? That’s it. Thanks. Awesome. Thank you guys so much. And we’ll see you on the next episode.
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