The story behind the story
Let me tell you a miracle story. A series of events that cement my belief that there are greater things working through us. That we are dealt tarot cards not poker cards. That the unfolding of our story is lined with purpose.
If you follow me, you know I used to be a screenwriter. I failed at it. It’s okay. I have peace with it. So when my first book was published, I thought it gave me a second chance at bat. The Angry Therapist, A No BS Guide To Finding And Living Your Own Truth was published about a year ago. It didn’t really make the splash every author dreams of. But my friends took their clothes off to support me and many of my “followers” picked up a copy so I’m grateful AF for all the love I’ve gotten from that book. It was an amazing experience and made me feel like a real writer again.
My words are over here. As that fizzled I found myself back at square one. My first book deal just fell from the sky. Someone in publishing “discovered” me. I got really lucky I guess you can say. But the flip side of that is I didn’t have an agent or any experience on how to get one. I didn’t know how to write a book proposal. And without an agent and a proposal, it’s difficult to get another deal. I mean, unless your book blew up which mine did not. So I thought that was it. I thought I was done. My career as a published author was over after one book.
Then Amanda, from my team at JRNI, suggested I Google literary agents and send out query letters. (A query letter is when you send an unsolicited letter to an agent, asking them to review your material.) I had instant resistance to this. Not only because the chances of you getting a response let alone get signed is slim to none, and slim just left town, but it also was triggering. It instantly took me back to my screenwriting days, when I was chasing things that weren’t honest to me, living with wrapped definitions of happy and success. I remember licking hundreds of envelopes (before email), one by one, followed by rejection after rejection after rejection. So I didn’t want to jump back into the time machine and feel that again. I accepted I was done. No books. Just blogs. And work on being okay with that.
Let’s put a bookmark there and let me quickly tell you what my new book is about and where the passion to write it came from. “I Used To Be A Miserable F*ck” is my way of challenging men to redefine themselves by sharing my own man journey story. My intention isn’t to give men my definitions. It’s to create a dialogue. Because everything starts there. But it’s not just for men. This book is also for women to explore what a man looks like for them so they can make better choices, healthier ones.
The fire for this book started when I was working in non-profit with teens in recovery, and realized we live in a fatherless nation. Dad is not home physically or emotionally. But also while I was going through my own man journey post-divorce and realized what a boy I was, and how that had impacted my relationships. And finally, in coaching thousands of men and women in the last decade and learning what they struggle with in their relationships. This is what I mean when I say this book is the accumulation of my everything I had to go through. Both my personal as well as professional journey.
Back to my miracle story. I felt like a failure and with that came a lot of lying on the couch staring at the ceiling and feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t want to write anything anymore. I just wanted to eat Cheetos and feel sorry for myself. Then I was listening to a podcast one day. The guest was high profile book agent from New York. Let’s call her Laura. She was exactly the type of book agent I wanted. Ballsy, outspoken, super smart, real, the youngest editor at Simon and Schuster when she started there nearly thirty years ago. At the end of the episode, the interviewer asked how people could get a hold of her and submit their work. She reminded the world that she doesn’t answer query letters and could count on one hand how many clients she has actually taken on from a query letter in the thirty years she’s been in the business. So basically, she wasn’t reachable.
Or so I thought.
Eventually, I get off the couch. Eventually, I got back on my computer and start writing again. I found myself writing query letters like a child who finally puts away his toys and sits down to finish his homework. I sent about a hundred. Laura was one of them. Most of them did not respond. But Laura did.
From here, things happened really fast. I find that when a series of events unfold seamlessly as if they have already happened as if like you’re watching a movie trailer, there’s something bigger going on. I remember there was a phone call. I don’t remember me ever writing a book proposal but I must have because you can’t sell a book without one. Suddenly, I’m in New York going on pitch meetings with the big publishers.
Then the rejections.
They liked me but “men don’t read books.” Executives in both books and movies look for any reason to pass. Because if it doesn’t become a huge hit, they don’t want to be responsible. So pass after pass came. Doors closed as fast as they opened. Publisher after publisher. It started reminding me of my screenwriting days. Feelings I didn’t want to feel again.
While this was happening, I met a friend who was a single mom and about to lose her home. She had two teenage kids. She was on my heart that week. I remember laying in bed and making a promise to the universe that if my book sold, I would be a conduit and give her some money.
The run was pretty much over. But I had “fans”. Publishers who passed but loved my work so they wanted to meet me. In Hollywood, they’re called “generals”. Big conference rooms. Lots of bottled water, enthusiasm, and compliments. It felt familiar. In between these meetings, I had a quick casual Skype call with HarperOne, a division of a very small unknown publisher called HaperCollins. Sarcasm. They’re one of the top three biggest. And that was it. I assumed everyone passed and was headed back to lalaland.
On the plane ride home, I thought about all the teens I treated who were impacted by absent fathers. I thought about all the women I’ve coach and their frustration with men not being vulnerable and emotionally absent. I thought about my own story and how my distorted definitions of man created so much pain in the relationships I’ve been in. I thought about our swipe culture, the ghosting, the filters, and how dating is now dead. I thought about everyone who is currently miserable but unwilling to look at it or share their story because it’s not okay to admit that you’re unhappy.
A few days after I get home, I get a call from my agent who I thought would no longer be my agent because when you go out with a book proposal and it doesn’t sell, well you kinda lose your agent too. Established agents don’t have the time to groom new writers. I get it. It’s just business. This is me speaking. Not her. Anyway, she had news for me. Harper bought the book.
So here I am today, telling you it’s officially available for pre-order! To be honest, I don’t even remember writing it. I believe I turned it in before the ink on the contracts were dry. No exaggeration. Harper said “no one has ever turned in a book this fast.”
It took the universe throwing me into non-profit to work with teenagers struggling with addiction. There I discovered that we live in a fatherless nation and a flame was sparked to create a dialogue about men. It took a divorce that would be the inciting incident that forced me into my own man journey. It took thousands of therapy and life coaching sessions with both men and women, both single and in relationships, to learn about the gray that so many men live in and how it impacts relationships. It took my own therapy and looking at my own story. It took the universe nudging my book agent to answer a random query letter from me. It took a prayer that I would help a stranger if it sells. It took a giant publisher like Harpercollins / HarperOne to take a chance on me.
When my publisher wanted to call it “I used to be a miserable fuck”, I instantly cringed. I returned with a firm “no”. I didn’t want to jump on the fuck train. It’s way too long these days and I didn’t want people to think I just keep using the word “fuck” to grab attention. That felt cheap to me. But then I sat with it. And there was a deeper resistance. I was embarrassed. Not by the word “fuck”. I didn’t want people to know I was miserable. People in Kansas will know. The guys at the Harley dealership where I bought my motorcycle will know. The guys I workout with will know. All my ex-girlfriends will know. Well, they probably knew anyway. And if this book gets translated into different languages, my father will know.
And that’s why I decided to keep the title. I felt that if I’m going to create a dialogue about men, I need to start with me. I need to be honest. Show myself. Because many men are miserable today. But we’re not supposed to be. We’re men. We should hold it together. Man up. Make shit happen, including happy. So if we’re miserable, we should fix it. Not announce it. Definitely not tell people how we feel. That’s not being a man. That’s being weak. Women are vulnerable. Men are not.
Bullshit. That’s why the teenage girls in rehab were standing way too close and the boys were either copying everything I did or wanted to fight me. Their fathers were not vulnerable. Their fathers had wrapped definitions on what a man looks like. So they did not show themselves. They were not present. So these boys grow up swiping and hiding behind their phones, seeing people like salad dressing and not knowing how to show up in relationships. Which sets them up for dysfunctional experiences that create false beliefs and fear for everyone involved.
This book isn’t just for men who have come out the other side. The truth is there is no other side. There are just days. Just because I’m no longer “miserable” doesn’t mean I have a permanent banana smile on my face. I have my bad days like everyone else. I still live with self doubt and worry and dread. I still panic. I’m still afraid. And this book is also for everyone who still feels that way. Not just men. Anyone.
The world stamps “happy” on tee shirts and makes us believe we should all be wearing one. And if we’re not, we are defective. Something is wrong with us. But not everyone is happy. Many are in the dark. Many are in a shitty place. Many are not happy. And that’s okay.
If you believe that men need to redefine themselves today. If you believe women should re-evaluate their standard and who they choose to love. If you believe in my story and believe, like me, I was just a vessel, a messenger, a conduit, to spread a message, to create a dialogue, to encourage us to look inward, and redefine ourselves. If you believe in something greater,
Please pick up a copy of this book.
I am raffling off free sessions to anyone who pre-orders!
And tell a friend.
It would mean the world to me.
More CALLS TO ACTION.
If you want to be a life coach, come ride with us.