I like how Gary brings us with his climbing journeys, relate them with his own personal struggles and suggests how those challenges and key takeaway messages can be incorporated into our lives, no matter what we are going through. I personally feel that Gary’s love for climbing teaches him to embrace the uncertainties in life and that trains him to feel comfortable with challenges. I think it is an excellent way of looking at toughening ourselves up by being open to carrying out difficult activities in life as it gives a feedback to our body of what we are capable of handling in life.
Gary has been writing for some thirty years now having been published in numerous national publications. His first book was written in 2014 where Gary put on paper the practical lessons for parents he has been teaching and living for the past several decades. An expanded and updated version just completed is currently available with even more usable ideas and resources for moms and dads, married or single.
His second companion book on marriage, Turn Up Or Turn Around Your Marriage was published in 2016. This work also provides many practical ideas and important underlying concepts that will help couples handle the challenges all married people face, especially in their early years. Topics include marital communication, intimacy, goal-setting and much more.
His third book, a practical, motivational and inspirational book about overcoming was published in early 2019 and is called, Never Quit Climbing: Overcoming Life’s Seemingly Insurmountable Mountains; Everyone has a personal mountain at sometime in their life and will need some practical help in taking it on.
Never Quit Climbing is a book for overcomers or those who desire to best the difficult road in front of them. NQC also tells Gary and Jackie’s cancer story inclduing the practical things they learned in the high country that they could apply to their personal mountain. Readers will find that every principle can be applied to a wide variety of personal mountains that individuals and families face such as finances, illness, grief, job loss, relationship struggles and more.
In fact, Gary now regularly speaks to business, school, senior citizens, church and community groups about how to effectively and wisely conquer the biggest challenges of life.
He has been married to Jackie for since 1976, has two grown children and six grandsons. He loves to write and speak about overcoming in family, leadership, finances, other relationships and work. He also writes two blogs on exactly those topics. He was also chosen "Father Figure of the Year" in Illinois in 2001.
He has also climbed nine 14er’s in Colorado and hiked with his wife in Alaska, Austria, Switzerland and the Canadian Rockies. As a result, mountains have become a place filled with practical help and insight about life and all its challenges.
He is currently a speaker, coach, author and counselor eager to share with others the many things he has learned both the easy way and the hard way. You can find out more or contact him directly at: http://www.neverquitclimbing.com.
Why did you write the book? What was your motivation behind it?
My wife and I are big mountain people, hikers, a little technical for me. I’ve done 9 14000 foot peaks but she had never done a summit. So in 2003, she did her first only to discover three months later that she had stage 3 cancer. Over the next 18 months we climbed that mountain together but found ourselves using principle from our climbs. We began to tell that story, enough that I finally wrote it down to accompany my website and speaking in 2019.
Who do you see as your main audience for this book and what do you hope they will get from reading your book?
Anyone who has a personal mountain to climb can benefit: finances, job loss, grief, discouragement, relationship struggles or break ups, getting counseling, etc.
How do you see this book being relevant today?
Every person pretty much faces something bigger than they are but the stakes are higher in these Covid and post-pandemic days. Life can be even more overwhelming and the climb can seem tougher.
Why do you think you are the right person to write this book?
How do you think your qualifications or experience make this a better book? “Well, first I’m a climber so I’ve done most of what I suggest here on both granite and in our personal lives. Second, I have a master’s level counseling background and decades of experience helping people overcome.
Can you share a little bit about the process of writing the book? Did you keep writing once you sat down? Did you blog first? Did you experience any writers block and if so, what did you do about it?
The book almost wrote itself because we’d talked the story to people over and over. However, I wanted it to be very readable, personal and engaging so there are lots of stories about my growing up to our times in hospitals and struggling with Jackie’s cancer.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It does both and I think it should. It should energize because that means you’re telling stories and situations that inspired you and continue to make you proud, confident and positive. It should exhaust however because that also means you’re working hard at your writing, trying to make it as good as it can be. That takes work!
What is your writing Kryptonite?
The tendency to keep the same style, not take risks but become too predictable.
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?
I’m not opposed to connections, but I’d rather write about something that means a lot or that I know could uniquely help someone else. If I ever write fiction then I might consider a trilogy or series.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It made me work harder. I would read, then re-read and re-read realizing that my first couple of drafts weren’t my best. I began to love the proofing and editing part because I knew I would end up with a better book.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I learned this personally in my family, knowing that there were big hurts from things said to me as a child. Then I saw the same thing happening in people I’ve counseled. There is power in our words.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
“A lion combined with a golden retriever.” I want my writing to be strong and compassionate.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Depends on the book, but I don’t usually write until I feel I’ve got the substance and facts to write it. The extra work is merely to be sure I’ve documented my work and have great stories or examples.
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
To a degree, yes. Writing brings out many of the things I both struggle with and use to overcome inside of me. As a person of faith, I believe that God is the core of who I am and become, so I can’t write totally devoid of that.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Dr. Seuss’ ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Several months depending on how much I have already let simmer.
Have you written any other books or do you have any books planned for the future?
Tell us as much as you are willing to share! Yes, four others, one on parenting, one on marriage, one a joint venture (one chapter) called “The Happiness Code” and one about living life NOW and not leaving everything for someday.
Anything else you want readers to know?
I have a super wife of 45 years, two grown kids and six grandsons. I love coffee, the mountains of course and travel.