Today I am excited to share an inspiring success story, with a talented author that I was fortunate enough to connect with on Facebook.
Real People Success Story
My questions are in bold, his answers follow.
About Javan Bonds
I’m 31 years old, and live in an undisclosed location deep in the mountains of North Alabama. I have a form of muscular dystrophy called Friedrichs Ataxia. It rendered me wheelchair-bound by the age of thirteen, functionally deaf for most of my life, diabetic by eighteen, and something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, a slow and painful road to complete blindness starting at twenty-two.
Optic nerve atrophy is just one of the many issues this progressively degenerative disorder causes. My computer monitor is a 42 inch plasma screen TV set to ridiculously low resolution, high contrast, and most programs are zoomed to 400%. I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking to write every word in my books and interact on social media. It can be tedious trying to understand my southern accent, but it eventually works. Through all of this I write. I write every day. It gives me hope and purpose. Without those life would be unbearable.
How did you become an author?
When I started going legally blind in 2010, movies and television became impossible for me to enjoy. I started listening to at least four audio books every week. After a few months of devouring stories, my dad came to me. “You’ve been reading all these books; you probably have a story of your own in your head.” I only smiled. “Yeah, I do.” He said. “Then write it.”
You have a new book coming out; can you give us a sneak peek?
Book 6 of my Still Alive series follows the continuing story of the main protagonist now split into two groups. They each face new and old threats to their survival in the apocalyptic infected world they now share with the ever evolving “peevies”.
The following chapter is from Book 6 is a glimpse back to infection day for two of the main protagonist.
For Number One
“…Will be down at the Cinco de Mayo parade on Sunset in about an hour.” A phrase was heard as radio stations were switched and finally turned off.
The blonde, with flowing hair in her late twenties turned to her friend in the passenger seat, a golden blonde with shorter hair around the same age. “Like, what kind of coke you want?” She asked as she climbed out of the car and walked toward the Exxon.
“A Mountain Dew!” her friend returned.
Inside the gas station, the clerk behind the register was ringing up her drinks. She put a twenty on the counter to pay for the drinks and for the gas she was about to pump.
Suddenly, a deranged, naked man came stumbling out of the bathroom. He seems disoriented, running into everything in his path, covering his eyes and screaming like a lunatic.
What was going on? Crazy old coot must have lost his mind or was just a perv!
Grabbing her drinks she ran out the door. Rather than pumping her gas, she jumped into the car and sat down locking the doors. Looking back at the gas station, she could see the naked guy lunge over the counter at the clerk. This was turning out to be a strange day.
She spoke in a whisper. “What the fuck, for reals?”
Her friend looked at her eyes and followed them. “What is it?”
The driver grew cold. There were other naked people running across the causeway. Every one of them had a blue tint to their skin and shielded their yellow eyes. “I’m totally not going to that parade. We need to go home, dude.” She turned the ignition over and put it into drive.
The girl in the passenger seat saw the blue lunatics coming. “Good idea. What’s going on?”
The fuel gauge may have been on E, but there was no time to get gas. They had to make it home, gather everyone, and get out of town! Radio stations were flipped through, getting only music or static. Either no one knew this was happening, or they were just being willfully ignorant. Could this have something to do with that sickness down in Mobile?
Luckily, the driver only lived a few blocks away. A couple left turns and the car swung into the driveway. Slamming on the brakes, the driver turned to the passenger. “I’ll go get Mom, Dad, and Lacy. Wait here and keep the door locked till I get back.” She sprinted to the front door.
The passenger was getting antsy. She started hearing police sirens, tires squealing, what sounded like cars crashing into each other. There was even a gunshot! She was freaking out. Her friend was taking forever.
In the rearview, she saw two naked people running down the next street.
This was not happening. This is not happening! She jumped over into the driver seat, just in case her friend never came back.
Finally, she emerged from the front door. Behind her ran her parents and her older sister. Her father carried a rifle over a shoulder and a pistol in his hand. The passenger was so ready for them to get to the damn car!
Several of the naked Smurfs turned down their street. They saw people! There was no time to think. Sarah couldn’t wait any longer.
The girl still in the car threw it and to drive, stomped the gas and did a U-turn in the yard slinging grass and dirt everywhere. Amy screamed while running after her. “Sarah? Like, where you going? Don’t leave us!” She wasn’t able to hear the frantic calls. Sarah had to go somewhere safe.
Is writing side hustle or your main gig?
Yes. Frankly, I did absolutely nothing for most of my life. I was a crippled loser with no purpose. Now, all I do is work and I enjoyed every minute of it.
What is one thing you have learned being a successful author?
Well, there are quite a few people that would tell me to shut up, I don’t think I’m that successful, yet. I’m not a horrible failure, maybe I am doing okay.
I learned very early in my career, thankfully, that if you ever plan to be successful in any fashion, interact with your fan base as much as possible. If there are people that enjoy your books, they want to talk to you. Spend at least a few hours every day talking to them. You can bounce ideas off them and they will help you with your story whether they know it or not. They encourage you and help keep you inspired to continue.
What is one mistake you made that you wish you could change?
People say they wouldn’t change a thing even if they could, but I would. We’d all do a lot of things different.
If we are talking about my writing career, I don’t think I’ve made that many horrendous mistakes as of yet. Knock on wood. I write and promote and don’t spend much time on anything else.
What advice would you give someone starting out?
Keep your nose out of politics. I don’t care who you voted for and your political rants will piss off at least 50% of potential readers. If someone asks in a one-on-one conversation, I don’t see a problem with telling them your political stance. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut. I know a lot of authors think they can use their fan base as a soapbox. That’s one reason they don’t have much of a fan base.
What are you most proud of?
Zombies on a Plane. My third book is still the funniest thing I have ever read. And, Mark Tufo wrote the foreword. That was one of the biggest honors of my life.
Many authors and bloggers have trouble finding time to write do you have any tips?
My only tip would be to stick with it. When I’m not interacting with fans, promoting, or planning out my future storyline, I try to write. Some days, I might not get a word in. Others, only a few hundred. Keep working. You can sleep when you’re dead.
What authors are you digging right now? And why?
I’m ashamed to say, none. I just don’t have time to even listen to an audio book. As soon as I become a millionaire bestseller, I’ll take some time off to read.
What suggestion do you have for people that are looking for ideas or inspiration for stories?
Read in that genre. Before I started writing Zombie Lake, I really wasn’t expecting to write a zombie apocalypse. I listened to Zombie Fallout by Mark Tufo, and that’s where I got my inspiration. Since then, I’ve listen to every zombie book I can when I have time. I don’t feel I’m plagiarizing; it’s just where I get my influence.
What advice do you have for authors looking to get published?
Go and stay independent. I’ve been told by more than one traditionally published friend, signing away the rights to their works was a huge mistake.
What are you looking forward to?
Moving into the house. My family just moved from a rental house into the apartment built into the shop on our new property. It is a cozy 300 sq ft.!
Any upcoming projects you are working on?
I am rewriting my first novel at the moment, Free State of Dodge. It is an interesting story; I just believe it was presented poorly. I’m also going to be featured in the Undead Worlds 2 anthologies sometime soon. Zombie Paradise Lost, number six in my Still Alive
Series has been written and I am working on getting it published. To top all that off, my narrator and I are in the process of releasing all my books to date on Audible.
How has social media impacted your brand?
I don’t believe I would have much of a brand if it weren’t for social media. I have my official fan club on Facebook and social media is where I do all my networking.
What does your social media strategy look like?
It looks like it takes up a good chunk of my time. When I’m not writing, I spend every moment on Facebook promoting and interacting
It does take up time, but I love doing it.
Where can people find you online?
Javan on social media:
Javan Bonds Amazon Author Page: Here
Author page on Facebook: Here
The Official Javan Bonds Fan Page: Here
Running a brand, promoting and marketing can be a challenge, how do you manage it all?
All I do is work. I never had the ambition to do anything until I became a writer. I work somewhere around 14 hours a day but I love every minute of it. Probably the only reason I can manage it is because I enjoy it.
Any apps, books or tips that you use?
You could say I’m old school, but it’s really because I’m blind. I don’t use apps.
Well, nothing more than Facebook and Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I’m so out of touch, I use Windows 7 and Internet Explorer!
If someone was having a hard time managing projects is there a book you would recommend?
Not that I can think. Though I know they exist, I’ve never read a book with tips on managing projects.
How important is fitness?
I have Friedrichs Ataxia, a form of muscular dystrophy. It has rendered me wheelchair-bound, I’m a diabetic, suffer from congestive heart failure, functionally deaf, and most notably, legally blind.
Because of my disorder, I can only do upper body workouts and I do or I will literally lose any kind of strength I have left. Plus, I have tattoos on my upper arms, that motivates me to keep some muscle. Make the guns appealing for showing off the ink.
Anything I should ask that I have not?
Yeah. You didn’t ask how old I am. I’m 31. And single. Ladies?
What is the one thing you wish everyone knew?
How to drive. I’m a blind guy in a wheelchair that’s never had a driver’s license; I can still drive better than most of these idiots on the highway! Just so everyone knows, a merge lane does not require you to stop in the middle of the dam road! And I’m not even going to get started on the way people park in parking lots and make handicap accessible ramps completely useless.
Thank you, Javan, for sharing what your day looks like, and your accomplishments.
Michael launched Your Money Geek to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.