I just recently learned about one of Cincinnati’s hidden treasures…a very talented writer who brings others strength by sharing openly, vividly and passionately his own journey through deeply rooted personal challenges and experiences.
Keith Maginn was born and raised here. He moved to Knoxville, Tennessee just after college to work for AmeriCorps (a service organization like the Peace Corps, but within the United States) and for Knoxville Habitat for Humanity, but has since returned home and currently works for Kenton County Public Library in the Local History and Genealogy department.
It was in December 2010, when he released Turning This Thing Around, a self-help memoir of overcoming personal struggles. Then, in January 2013, he self-published Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward, detailing a 3,000-mile philanthropic pay-it-forward road trip through the southeastern United States. His most recent book, (Extra)Ordinary: Inspirational Stories of Everyday People, was just release in August, 2016 by KiCam Projects and tells seven inspirational stories of people he knows personally. (All three books are available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.com or at keithmaginn.com.)
“I feel writing to help and inspire others is my life’s purpose,” he told me.
Please read the rest of Keith’s story below:
I have been writing most of my life, as far back as I can remember. But it was never focused writing, just here and there. However, about seven years ago I found myself sitting outside of a psych ward in Atlanta, Georgia. My then-fiancée was struggling terribly with bipolar depression. I had done everything I could, but was powerless to help her. I was also fighting my own battle with chronic pain, depression and anxiety. I had no idea what I could do to turn things around. No matter how hard I fought, how much I prayed, things seemed to get worse and worse.
I soon found myself slipping into a deep depression, though I remained outwardly happy. Few of my family, friends or co-workers had any idea how desperate my predicament had become. My then-fiancée was adamant that no one know what she was going through, but I knew I couldn’t keep everything bottled up inside. I was perilously close to a complete nervous breakdown. Not wanting to betray her trust and talk to anyone, I started writing. It was my therapy, the only way to get some of the anger, sadness and confusion out of me. The story seemed to write itself. I realized that others might benefit from what I was writing. I felt people could relate to at least some of what I went through: heartbreak, depression, chronic pain, frustration…
When I started writing what eventually became Turning This Thing Around, I had no plans of ever publishing it. I wrote for myself, for my own sanity. But what started as a very personal diary evolved into something that I wanted to share with others. If I could overcome what I had, then others could, too. I decided to take a chance and self-published my writing as a “self-help memoir” (changing her name to protect her privacy).
I had no idea how people would react to my book. Would they think I was feeling sorry for myself and looking for pity? I had my doubts, but I am very glad I decided to go ahead with the project. The response was wonderful. I have gotten many replies from people that relate and then share their own stories with me. I am happy that people can learn from what I went through and that we can connect on a deeper level. I now know that people are often going through more than they show, making empathy, kindness and understanding all the more important.
(Extra)Ordinary: Inspirational Stories of Everyday People
After writing my first two books, which were about my life and experiences, I started thinking about all of the people that I know that have amazing stories. These individuals had overcome major obstacles, but they aren’t celebrities, so no one really knew what they had been through, how they had endured in tough circumstances. I wanted to tell their stories and to point out that everyone goes through hardship; these people rose above their challenges and can serve as inspiration to others.
When I was writing my book about inspirational people I know, one theme that appeared several times was the depth of a mother’s love. I guess this was something I took for granted in the past, but seeing so many emotional, awe-inspiring examples in black-and-white really opened up my eyes. I learned that there is nothing like the power of the love mothers have for their children.
I recently signed with KiCam Projects to write the second volume of (Extra)Ordinary. My fourth book is scheduled for release in fall of 2017.
Teachers can have a huge impact on young impressionable minds. Within their classrooms are often born dreams and ideas that linger, and encourage lifelong pursuits. Ben Cober, a 2003 graduate of Cincinnati’s Mariemont High School, know this. It was there, nestled in a quaint, tree-line village where his love for creative expression first took flight. Little did he know when he donned his cap and gown that years later that love would lead to his co-writing science fiction fantasy adventure…but it did!
His path since high school took him first to Butler University where he studied theatre before transferring to University of Illinois, then back to his home town to work in development and public relations for the Cincinnati Museum Center. He later attended Indiana University in 2010, and after earning a duel MBA in marketing and management, ultimately joined a tourism architecture firm, PGAV Destinations and today lives in Washington.
It was a fateful fall day, 2005, when Ben first met Greg Zimmerman on the campus of University of Illinois. Their shared excitement for sailing (and the exact same birthday) somehow blended their lives, and, after a few years of deep friendship, they came to share something else…Encounter IX.
Their journey to science began in Greg’s the chasm between college graduation and a first ‘real’ job. He and his girlfriend (now wife), Katie, were living with her mother in Bellingham WA. Katie was working full-time and Ben was looking for a way to take up his time.
“Thus began a process that I could never have imagined at the time. Within a few days, I had drafted a very rough, yet well though-out synopsis for a sci-fi / fantasy adventure. It contained approximately forty or so chapters, the general plot, characters, places, and framework for a world which would become the main setting for Encounter IX,” Greg wrote on their blog.
Fast-forward a few years. He was rummaging through his Chicago apartment when he stumbled upon that journal and synopsis preserved in a metal briefcase and decided to share it with his good friend.
“Without hesitation he was interested in writing a few chapters. Then a few chapters became sections, and sections became a novel. Ben has always been a great storyteller, and I knew that we would be able to work well together stitching together a tale,” Greg detailed.
Fast forward again to 2016.
Encounter IX, a rich blend of space opera, nautical adventure and Odyssey-inspired episodic, is published. You can purchase it on Amazon.
About the book:
In the year 2221 C.E., facing unstoppable overpopulation and resource extinction, the most passionate and brilliant minds on Earth banded together to send ten ships – 60 souls – into the distant, swirling arms of the Milky Way Galaxy to begin life anew. Ten hopeful planets – all Fertile Crescents with atmospheres, water, shifting tectonics, and safe distances from their nearest stars – served as the blind prayers for the future of the human race.
Ten ships left our solar system. To date, we only know the fate of one – Encounter IX.
Encounter IX follows the fated crew-members of one interplanetary star ship as they fight to establish the first off-world colony. Their journey explores the depths of the human soul, self-preservation, and to what extent we can, and should, go to protect and save the ones we love. Through navigating the daunting waters of geopolitical affairs, civil war, dangerously devout religion, and a planet on the verge of tearing itself apart, six space pioneers grapple, grow, succeed, and succumb through myriad adventures to discover what it truly means to be human, and what we must become to survive.
I asked Ben a few questions.
Lisa: Where did your inspiration come from in writing the novel?
Ben: As Greg (my book partner – you can read more about our partnership in this post) has told me, in his initial outline, he was largely inspired by The Odyssey as well as a life of sailing. These two elements factored immensely into his original narrative.
I drew from a myriad of resources as I wrote the novel over the course of seven years. They say write what you know, so I drew largely from various travels I’ve been lucky enough to have: the Amazon jungle, old towns of Italy, German and British castles, Israel, the Caribbean, and a lifetime of sailing up and down the east coast. Music was influential as well while writing; and as a child of the ’80s, I grew up on lots of wonderful films that influenced some of my storytelling as well, including the Aliens series, Master & Commander, Jurassic Park, and the Lord of the Rings series.
Lisa: Who was someone, a role model or teacher, who inspired you in your writing and how?
Ben: I would have to say my high school AP English and Creative Writing teacher, as well as theater director, Mrs. Cathy Ransenberg. Cathy was first and foremost full of energy and life, and made the world of literature appealing and fun. When writing our own pieces though, she deeply encouraged the wildest creativity, but was tremendously stringent in writing well – punctuation, grammar, and story and sentence structure. Outside of my own family, Cathy was one of my greatest proponents in creativity, and I owe her a great deal for that.
I have known Tami Boehmer for many years, long before a diagnosis changed her life and her family’s forever. She is someone who I admire so much for her fighting, uplifting spirit and her appreciation for everything that matters. Tami has used her circumstance and her skills to encourage and inspire others – those who are also living with cancer, those who love someone with cancer, and really everyone. Tami recently published her second book. Thank you to her for sharing this post.
by Tami Boehmer (Award winning author, blogger, and speaker)
It has been seven years since I learned I had metastatic (stage IV) breast cancer. It was my worst nightmares come true. I had just celebrated five cancer-free years after being diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. My daughter had just turned nine years old. My first thought was, “Will I be around to raise her?”
According to statistics and a couple of doctors I spoke with, it was highly unlikely. One told me I would “most certainly die of breast cancer.” No doubt about it. I responded, “I’m too stubborn to die”, then left determined to prove her wrong.
I recently read a quote on a metastatic breast cancer Facebook page: “Faith sees the invisible, believes in the incredible, and receives the impossible.” — Anonymous. My faith was shaky when I was first diagnosed, but there was a spark there waiting to be ignited.
I had spent my career in health care public relations, where I wrote success stories about patients who beat the odds of illnesses. I took a permanent leave of absence after being diagnosed this second time, but started feeling empty and depressed. I decided to use my experience and share stories of people who had beaten the odds of stage IV cancer.
When I started interviewing individuals for my first book, From Incurable to Incredible, I had only seven months under my belt as a stage IV breast cancer survivor. My primary goal was to inspire hope and show that it was possible to beat the odds of a terminal or incurable prognosis. Not just for my readers; but for me, as well.
In Nov. 2014, my second book, Miracle Survivors: Beating the Odds of Incurable Cancer, was released by Skyhorse Publishing. I share my story, along with 23 other cancer survivors from around the country. With many years under my belt as a survivor, I got to know more people who are thriving years beyond what anyone expected and have learned many lessons from my own “school of hard knocks.” The book reflects my new perspective, as well as those of others like Carole Kubrin, who has been living with stage IV, HER2-positive breast cancer since 1998, and Greg Cantwell, a stage IV glioblastoma multiforme (the most aggressive form of brain cancer) survivor since 2004.
The book also includes an introduction by best-selling author Bernie Siegel, MD, and forewords by miracle survivors ePatient Dave deBronkart (a stage IV renal cancer survivor since 2007), the best-known spokesman for the patient engagement movement, and award-winning blues vocalist Curtis Salgado (diagnosed with stage IV renal cancer in 2007), who was the inspiration for the movie, The Blues Brothers.
While I call the individuals in this book, “miracle survivors,” overcoming the odds wasn’t something that just happened to them. Each person took a very active role in overcoming their challenges by becoming advocates for themselves and others and never giving up.
There are no winners or losers or the right or wrong way to deal with cancer and other major life challenges. But I know from experience and from talking with hundreds of people living with cancer that how we live our life is a choice. As the recently departed ESPN commentator Stuart Scott said, “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live.” That’s what my work is all about.
Tami Boehmer is an award-winning author and blogger and speaker. Her second book, Miracle Survivors is available in hardback and e-book versions through Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Target.com, Skyhorse Publishing’s website and via Tami’s website, www.miraclesurvivors.com. An audio version is also available on Audible.com.
Zai is a senior at Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame High School and she is someone who inspires me. At a young age, she has a huge heart and understands the power of kindness. She said giving back just does great things for the heart.
“Philanthropy literally means “love of humanity”. In simplest terms it means giving back to your community. This big word has a big punch! Once you understand philanthropy your heart will grow bigger. I know mine did for sure,” she said.
Zai told me her passion for helping others began three years ago when she got involved with her school’s Youth Philanthropy Council (YPC).
“Being a part of helped me push to get my book published. My book is titled Animal Adventurers Book 1: Murder at Thompson Manor which is the first in the series. I wrote this book in order to give animals a second chance for a family and life,” she said.
Over three quarters of the profits goes to nonprofit organization Magnified Giving, towards the Animal Adventurer Grant.
Magnified Giving is a local non-profit that educates youth, mainly high school students about philanthropy through a yearlong program. They research, do presentations, have fundraisers, and at the end of the year give a money grant to a non-profit.
About Zai’s book, Animal Adventures Book 1: Murder at Thompson Manor
Chrissy only knows that she is alone, with no one to turn to. All she has to offer herself is a small amount of hope that her world will go back to normal, whatever normal is.
When Chrissy gets recused her world seems to make a little bit of sense again. She gains a new family composed of Pumpkin, a clumsy black kitten, Lianna, a stubborn know-it-all Dalmatian, and Frosty, an over-excited, talkative Siberian husky. But when a stranger, with an offer, comes to the door, her secure world comes crumbling down around her. Chrissy must leave behind her safehome, and go on a spiraling adventure to save her family.
Of course her adventure isn’t easy, especially when her new billionaire owner is murdered, and her family is left abandoned once again. Things get even more out of control when her rescuer Brad, is accused of being the killer, and is locked up in jail. Will Chrissy and her family be able to prove Brad innocent and catch the real killer?
The Animal Adventurers is a creative blend of non-stop suspense, drama, and mystery. It’s a heartwarming story filled with courageous, abandoned characters that will do anything for family.
For more information on Animal Adventurers please go to www.animaladventurers.com