Sunday, February 5, 2012

Writing without hands

I've been waiting to write this blog. I've been waiting to tell this story. I've been waiting to share with anyone who will read me the amazing journey of this subdued, intelligent, matter-of-fact man who lives a modest life under extraordinary circumstances and challenges.

Now I think I have the green light. His story is out there - in today's Peoria Journal Star (OK, it's a start). And I can't think of a better local writer to cover it than Phil Luciano.

Click here to read Phil's article in the Sunday, February 5 edition of the Journal Star:
"18 to 80 in seconds" 

(If for some reason this link doesn't work, just go to www.pjstar.com and look for Phil's article, or find it on my Kennard Communications Facebook page.)

When I first learned about Kevin Harmon and his book, I was intrigued. My boss was helping a friend of his publish his first novel. As a writer, of course, that naturally piqued my interest. How was he going about it? Did he have an agent? Was he self-publishing? If so, how did that all work? And beyond that, I am forever impressed by ANYONE who can take the time and the forethought to actually come up with a storyline, develop the characters, do the research, and make it blossom chapter after chapter after chapter. My blogs come easy - they're short and sweet. But a novel? To think of it day in and day out. To write in a consistent voice day after day - on a good day or a bad day - almost having this second life as you make your characters come alive like they are right there in the room with you.

To write 500 pages.

Without the use of your hands.

Above and beyond my appreciation of anyone who can write a novel, it is tripled when I discover that the man who is writing this novel is doing it from a wheelchair and a hospital bed, using his voice as his pen. And that he's been doing it for nearly 10 years.

See, Kevin Harmon, in addition to being a talented and dedicated writer, is also quadriplegic. Which he doesn't care if you know or not. In fact, he'd probably rather you not know. Because he wants to be Kevin Harmon, the author. Not Kevin Harmon, the quadriplegic author. But with apologies to Kevin, he sells his accomplishments short. It's not that he's quadriplegic, it's that he's OVERCOME it and done what I can't even do with full use of all my limbs.

So what's the book about? Self-help? Overcoming challenges? My struggles in life? No way. Kevin has a lot of time to think, and a lot of time to watch TV. He's so over all the CSI-type shows and their bad writing. He can do better than that. So he did. WAY better. The Archangel Response.

Kevin had a scenario in his head for years, and he wondered: In an age when individuals are capable of acquiring multi-billion dollar fortunes, and with them the power to influence governments, what prevents some men from going the next step - and actually becoming governments unto themselves? He then developed a fascinating character named Michael Cavanaugh; wealthy, powerful, and the founder of one of the world's largest technology companies in the world. In the end... well... I can't tell you, but it is full of dynamic and unpredictable twists and turns that will leave you wanting more. And there will be more. Kevin's already planning a sequel. 

In the past few months I've had the pleasure of meeting Kevin in person and spending several hours with him, writing his biography, gathering information for his press kit, and generally just picking his brain. And over the past few weeks - especially today - I can't get over this incredible respect I have for this man. First and foremost, that he was able to do what is my dream - to write a novel. Secondly, that he did it under extraordinary circumstances and over a period of 10 years. And third, because I want him to succeed. He deserves to succeed. Because he is a good writer. Even without the use of his hands.

Think about it. Kevin uses Dragon Dictation Software, a voice-recognition program. He speaks everything, from telling his computer to wake up to inserting a period to making corrections and edits when the computer misinterprets what he's said. Painstaking. He says the software can recognize up to 100 words per minute. Each page of his book has approximately 400 words, and is more than 500 pages long. That alone is quite a feat, not to mention if  you are a writer you know the edits along the way that your fingers make automatically - imagine having to verbalize each and every one. 

Watch this video by Phil Luciano of Kevin and his software in action:

Amazing, right? 

Do me a favor. Be as amazed as I am. Buy the book. Go to his website at www.kevinharmon.com and follow the links to download the e-book version on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Smashwords.com.

Or, even better, and my personal choice, get a paper copy. Call I Know You Like A Book in Peoria Heights at 309.685.2665 or email bookstore proprietor Mary Beth Nebel at youlikeabook@comcast.net and tell her you want to pre-order it. The Archangel Response should be available there in a couple of days, hot off the presses.

I know there are incredible people out there all over the world who are overcoming challenges and doing extraordinary things, day after day after day. Today, I am honored to know just one of them. 

Congratulations to you, Kevin. I hope to find you on the New York Times bestseller list soon - I don't doubt you can get there.






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