What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I majored in psychology 35 years ago, but discovered my passion for writing in the late 1980s when I became a communications writer for a Bloomfield Hills marketing company. In 1990 I sent an article to Marketing News, a publication of the American Marketing Association. The article, Teamwork Delivers a Clear Implementation Document, was published in their Sept. 3, 1990 edition. Immediately thereafter in 1991 I had discovered in very small print that a magazine I had been reading since I was kid said they accepted freelance articles and offered payment for them. Later that year my first paid article, There Shouldn’t be a Maintenance Free Aquarium, But There Will Be was published in Freshwater & Marine Aquarium Magazine. The writing bug had bit me and I soon wrote freelance for other publications like Detroit Metropolitan Woman’s Magazine, Michigan Out-of-Doors, and Michigan History Magazine where I wrote a story on the Belle Isle Aquarium squashing notions it was the first U.S. aquarium when in fact it was the second. During this period I became a stringer for The Grand Rapids Press and a Caucasian Editor of the Afro-American Gazette. I soon became an editor of a weekly Lansing newspaper, The Holt Community News and continued my freelance writing until 1998 when I signed up for the first website ever tied to a writer’s lounge, FreelanceWorkshop.com. An accompanying book on Writing for Publication was published on Amazon in 1999. Since then I began to publish more academic writing books to help teachers through a variety of different publishers. Among the most popular are Social Media Writing Lesson Plans and Word Press for Student Writing Projects. https://www.amazon.com/Erik-Bean/e/B00DZ0C2CQ?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1597068716&sr=8-1
What is the first book that made you cry?
As a child I cried many times while reading E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. I felt so sorry for Wilbur, the pig.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I want to connect with people to help them either personally or professionally.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
So in this most recent collaborative effort, Ethan’s Healthy Mind Express: A Children’s First Mental Health Primer, I was so fortunate to work with a co-author of my social media writing books, Emily Lane Waszak as well as family friend Sherry Wexler (who served as editor) and Sherry found a most amazing illustrator, Gail Gorske who develop all 19 pictures using paper and lighting skills while photographing them. The book was inspired by the loss of my 17-year-old son in August 2018 after suffering from autism and other atypical diagnoses for years. We wanted to develop a book to help other children struggling with various mental challenges to show them they are not alone and to provide them ideas where to go for help as well as how to avoid problem areas of the internet that can lead to isolation and loneliness. So this book is the first of what we hope will be several published by our Michigan 501(c) nonprofit, Ethan Bean Mental Wellness Foundation. https://ethanbean.org/new-childrens-book-1
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
In 1999 Amazon did not yet have CreateSpace or KDP so I was forced to print my paperback book locally in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area. But as far as the writing goes, I believe every writer goes through a transformation process at some point or another.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
In my case I only need my son Ethan to help guide the way. I think about the things he would want people to know in order to try and help them with mental health, help them to keep their head up in a rapidly changing world.
What did you edit out of your books? (keep it family-friendly, please)
In a complementary adult book series, 20/20 Prudent Leadership, we are in the process of publishing our 4th of a nine-booklet series on better self-decision-making. As the coauthor of that series with Dr. LauraAnn Migliore, our 2nd book was censored by the Amazon.com KDP platform on April 25th this year with an explanation that they were not allowing any more books to be published about COVID-19. We had adopted our third installment in our series based on the leadership style of Theodore Roosevelt, 20/20 Prudent Leadership: Conversation, Conduct, and Character, with an additional “C” COVID-19. It took two weeks of additional communications to convince the book publishing behemoth we were not touting pandemic conspiracy theories and only offering practical advice based on Biblical examples, pop culture, and recent popular egregious examples of poor decision making. More information on that series can be found at https://prudentleadership.com/
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Probably a job with a better salary. But I have worked in higher education for years and just recently switched to K-12.
What is your favorite childhood book?
As mentioned earlier it is none other than the amazing work of E.B. White, including Stuart Little.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
Finding a new angle and targeting that angle to the right audience.
What is the easiest part of your writing process?
Almost everyone has the potential to write, but not everyone can see that through to publication either as an indie author or through a proposal pitch to a publisher.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
In my case it has fluctuated anywhere from 3 to 9 months. On average, at least 6 months. Most of my efforts have been collaborative, relying on others which can further delay time to publication.
A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?
I have not heard that as an overarching stereotype, but I suppose it can be true in some cases. Certainly, most appear to be in touch with their feelings since most typically write about experiences that have affected them or one’s they seem keenly knowledgeable about or creative enough to resonate with their audiences. To that degree they must spend time by themselves writing, editing, and re-writing and less time socializing.
When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be an author?
Immediately after I got that first 1990 article accepted by the American Marketing Association.
Who are your biggest literary influences?
On August 17th, Publisher’s Weekly published its first critical review of our award-winning book, Ethan’s Healthy Mind Express. In the review, the writer mentioned two books for which he/she indicated the reader’s of our book would like, " Great for fans of Elizabeth Swados's My Depression, Shaun Tan's The Red Tree." Swados is a late Tony nominated composure and actress and Tan is an Academy Award wining animator. In examining their work, they have now become the epitome of influences for future mental health book efforts. Prior to this and my call to write books with a mental health theme, I was drawn to dystopian works, those like Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 about censorship. Prior to my son’s passing he bought me the 60th anniversary edition. The premise still holds up very well today.
What’s your favorite movie which was based on a book? Why?
The original 1966 film, Fahrenheit 451 based on Bradbury’s 1953 book. It was done very well using the theme of censorship from start to finish, so much so that no opening credits are shown in words, only narrated.
How did it feel when your first book got published? How did you celebrate?
Self-publishing has a celebratory feeling, no question, particularly if your work has been edited and reviewed by others who can be impartial. But getting published via a more established publisher is exciting too, for you have connected with others who believe in your work enough to contract and help promote it.
What is that one thing you think readers generally don’t know about authors?
That most are passionate about telling a story or provide information that can either entertain or be most useful personally or professionally.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
We are open to examining other mental health book proposals for children or adults at https://ethanbean.org/mental-health-books. Our series on 20/20 Prudent Leadership also is currently receiving critical reviews and compliments our mental health book mission.
Are you attending any conventions/festivals where readers can meet you and/or buy your books? Please provide all the “find it” information.
Prior to the pandemic we had plans to do book signings at local bookstores, but our books are stuck in the New York Offices of Baker and Taylor and Barnes and Noble with no end in sight whether they will be distributed. Ethan's Healthy Mind Express was accepted for presentation at the July 2021 Literacy & Language Arts Summer Institute, National Council of Teachers of English, Normal, IL
We have presented at the 2020 Jewish Book Fair, the 2020 Rochester Writers Book Fair, and at the 2020 Fall Page Promotions Book Festival, all virtual. Our book has been featured on Detroit’s Fox 2 and WXYZ TV.
Please provide links and/or instructions about how readers can purchase signed copies of your books.
A beautiful 10 x 10 hardcover autographed with our nonprofit seal on the copyright page can be purchased at https://ethanbean.org/hardcover. All proceeds support the Ethan Bean Mental Wellness Foundation and our new Healthy Mind Express Zoom story telling and poetry writing school programs. https://ethanbean.org/zoom as well as research we plan to pursue to help our understanding of autism and socialization opportunities. https://ethanbean.org/research
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring authors?
Follow your heart. Provide your unique way of entertaining and messaging that you know is important. But remember, you can write the best story ever, but unless you can find an audience for it, it serves little value. All authors need to hustle and be salespeople too.
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