As life unfolds, that perfect path we dream about as kids usually takes unexpected turns that make us realize life doesn’t always play fair.

In 2008 I lost 90% of my net worth in the financial meltdown and then in 2012 I lost my emotional foundation when my 26-year marriage ended; the second blow being residual damage from the first.

At the lowest point in my life, my creative tank was running on empty. I couldn’t bring myself to put pen to paper or even tap a keyboard.

But then something even more unexpected happened.

In 2014, a desperate mother named Ellen Taylor reached out to me to ask if I would help her son, David C. Taylor, write and self-publish his book.

The catch?

David was (and still is) in Federal prison for human trafficking. Not your typical smuggler, David reunited Hispanic families who couldn’t cross the border legally due to bureaucratic red tape.

I wanted to take the job because I needed the money, but I was torn, because I knew what I really needed was to focus my limited energy on projects that would get me back on track financially, emotionally, and creatively, and I was pretty certain a guy scribbling notes in prison was not my answer. Helping someone in prison versus round-the-clock family responsibility?

Seriously, did Gandhi have carpool?

But for some reason I just couldn’t dismiss an authentic story, because it’s truth. And that’s all I ever wanted.  I mentored David through a painstaking process of tapping into the emotional core of his story. And to my surprise, the process of getting David to embrace his own demons, made me face my own. That’s when I finally stopped trying to escape a narrative I could never outrun. And that’s made all the difference since.

Speech length: 45 minutes (a 20-minute version is also available)


David’s book JACUMBA CONNECTION triumphantly came to fruition and was published in June of 2016 by E-Magination Publishing. It is steadily selling in bookstores and on

A feature film based on David’s book is also in preproduction.

Follow David’s blog: Postcards From Prison.