APW: DIY Interview – Zachary Fenell

Name: Zachary Fenell

Email Address: contact@zacharyfenell.com

What is your blog URL? http://www.offbalanced.wordpress.com

What is your website URL? http://www.zacharyfenell.com

What is the contact information you are willing to share?

What schools did you attend? What was your course of study?
I attended and graduated from Charles F. Brush High School (in Northeast Ohio). I then went on to obtain my bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame College of Ohio. I majored in communication while pursuing writing and philosophy minors.

When and how did you discover you wanted to be a writer/author?
I first decided I wanted to become a writer my sophomore year of high school. I loved baseball, the Cleveland Indians specifically, but never played because I was born with a mild case of cerebral palsy. I figured writing about baseball would be the next best thing to playing the sport, so I joined my high school’s newspaper where I became a co-editor for the sports section. Eventually I grew tired writing strictly about sports and expanded to other topics.

Are you a published author? Yes

Please list your published material, with dates?

  • “Off Balanced,” December 2011
  • “Turn Your Faults into Assets” from Living in a World of Possibilities, November 2011

If these materials are books, are they still available, and from where?
‘Off Balanced’ is currently available on the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook.

‘Living in a World of Possibilities’ is a collection of writings from various people in the disability community. It is available at www.caringcommunities.org.

Please tell about your first publication – what was it, when, how you felt when it happened, problems you may have had, etc.
Well, since all I did with ‘Living in a World of Possibilities’ was submit it, I’ll talk about ‘Off Balanced.’

‘Off Balanced’ is my teenage memoir exploring how having a mild case of cerebral palsy affected me socially as a teen. The personal nature created some sub-conscious anxiety. Thankfully my belief in the project helped me overcome any hesitation I felt. I knew no other cerebral palsy memoir focused primarily on adolescence. Therefore I saw an opportunity to reach discouraged teens, a thought which kept me motivated.

Please tell about the most memorable moments in your career.
Oh, wow! Where do I start? I put a lot of work into ‘Off Balanced’ so the book’s release comes to mind. Seeing ‘Off Balanced’ sell in both the US and UK has been really cool, just something about that “internationally selling author” label.

Additionally I love receiving feedback from complete strangers who read my book. Of course the memorable moments expand beyond my book too. I freelance around the web as a content writer. I remember calling Lucid Grey drummer Billy Jack Skillet for a phone interview and him taking the time to praise my disability awareness efforts on Twitter. I’ve also interviewed some high-profile musicians, concert promoters, and what not.

Ultimately I love writing and every day I get to write is a memorable one.

Have you won any awards? If yes, which award(s) and when?
Yes. I’ve held “Hot 500” and “Hot 100” honors at Yahoo! Contributor Network. These honors, handed out monthly, go to contributors with the most page views garnered. I’ve been amongst the “Hot 500” in December 2011, February 2012, and April 2012 through July 2012. I ranked within the “Hot 100” in March 2012.

Beyond my professional writing, I use my writing skills volunteering for Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. My work there earned me Euclid Adult Activities Center’s 2012 “Outstanding Volunteer of the Year” Award.

What problems have you encountered in your career and how did you deal with them?
Honestly, time management and self-discipline are probably my biggest obstacles. Freelance writing might appeal to somebody because he gets to be his own boss. Sounds nice, right? Well it all depends on the type of boss you can be. Without self-discipline and strong time management skills you will fail. I help keep myself in check by writing daily and/or weekly to-do lists. This really helps me set priorities and make the most of my time.

Did an established writer mentor you in your early days?  If yes, how did the mentor help you?
I discussed my desire to write a book with my college professor Dr. Michael Bloom. He connected me with his friend Susan Pertone, author of ‘A Body at Rest.’ While I wouldn’t say Susan “mentored” me, we did meet for coffee and she shared with me her experiences. Susan’s insights gave me a lot to think about regarding the publishing world.

Now that I think of it the same can be said for my 8th grade English teacher Mr. Mark Barnes. After learning about his publishing experiences from another former English teacher, I reconnected with Mr. Barnes (not sure if I should call him Mark), via e-mail and Twitter, and arranged a meeting so I could pick his brain on publishing.

Who are the authors who most influenced your writing career?
The two who first come to mind are Stephen King and Christine Rose. Stephen King’s “On Writing” is a must read for any serious writer. Christine Rose’s book, “Publishing & Marketing Realities for the Emerging Author” offers information on every publishing route and will help you decide which would be best for you.

Who are the authors your read most often?
I wouldn’t say there are particular authors. Instead I’d say there are certain book types I read most often. I grew up watching professional wrestling so I enjoy wrestlers’ autobiographies, such as those Chris Jericho and Mick Foley wrote. I like disability-related memoirs and books about Cleveland Indians history, too.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming writers?
Develop niche subject(s). There are so many opportunities out there you need a niche to stay focused. Plus a concentrated niche can lead to jobs coming to you. For instance take my most recent online gig, ‘The Mobility Resource.’ After seeing a local newspaper article which highlighted my disability-orientated writing, ‘The Mobility Resource’ reached out to me. When people come to you, you know you’re doing something right.

I’d like to thank Zachary for his interesting submission.

You can submit your own interview by clicking on the DIY Interviews Submission Page and following the instructions.  It’s totally FREE and you don’t need to answer all the questions – only the ones you want to have us use in your interview.

Happy Writing,


Order Your Copy of Janelle’s Time:
Available now as a print book,
and  an e-book for the Kindle.
Available now for as an e-book
for the Nook at Barnes & Noble:
Other sources & formats available soon!


PS: Please take a few minutes to read the  Wedding Chapter – Final  from my adult historical romance ‘Janelle’s Time.’  You’ll meet Richard and Janelle Grayson, the newlyweds, AND, meet Duke Logan Conor, from Muileach Castle, Scotland (he crashes the wedding) from ‘Logan’s Time,’ Book 4.   He’s also in ‘Moria’s Time,’ Book 2.

The TIME Series – by Dayna Leigh Cheser
Janelle’s Time – Available Now at Amazon and B&N
Moria’s Time – WIP – NaNoWriMo, 2011 Winner
Adelle’s Time – Planned for 2013
Logan’s Time – WIP, planned for 2013
Clarissa’s Time – Planned for 2014


Posted on August 27, 2012, in Adelle's Time, Amazon, author, Barnes & Noble, blog, Clarissa's Time, Dayna Leigh Cheser, DIY Interviews, Janelle, Janelle's Time, Kindle, Logan, Logan's Time, Moria's Time, Nook, Richard, TIME Series, Wedding Chapter, WIP, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi Zachary,
    What a nice surprise! Thanks so much for your kind words about DIY Interviews. I’ve met great people and talented authors while doing these interviews.
    Have a great day,

  2. You’re certainly welcome Julie. You offer a wonderful service here for writers.

  1. Pingback: Book News: New Guest Posts, Interview « Off Balanced

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