Since October is National Bullying Prevention Month, local author Tom Nochera reached out to Fairfax County Times about his new children’s book “A Goat Named Joey,” that is centered around Joey LeGoat, a bullied goat.
According to Nochera, before he began writing stories for children, he wrote technical manuals for start-up companies, but he found that as much fun as eating bark off a tree. So, he started writing poems for children. His first book of poems was “A Place That’s Fun,” written under the pen name Ichabod Ablegoose. He currently works in catering in Washington, D.C., while continuing to grow his writing career with the help of his biggest inspiration, his children. “A Goat Named Joey” is his second book. A bullied child himself, Tom wrote this book to help all children escape the hate of bullying.
Joey LeGoat lives with his brother Billy and their family on the Isle of Oat. When Gilbert, the leader of the geese, finds out that Joey is not called a Billy goat, there’s trouble. Gilbert is the island’s head bully, and Joey LeGoat becomes his innocent prey. Against his father’s advice, Joey decides to hide in his barn. However, his own spirit eventually emerges, and he realizes he has to go outside, face his bullies, and create his own destiny. Once Joey LeGoat prevails against his bullies, he challenges all creatures to follow the golden rule, and treat others the way they wish to be treated.
What was the moment when you discovered that you are a writer?
NOCHERA: I discovered that I could write when I impressed my high school English teacher with some essays. I grew with confidence as I wrote weekly essays to him, and began to ace the essay portions of my tests.
Why did you write this book?
NOCHERA: The idea for this book came to me shortly after I received news that I was going to be a father for the first time. I was a bullied child, and I wanted to give my unborn child something she could turn to if she faced the struggles that I had in my childhood.
Can you help us visualize the place where you write?
NOCHERA: I used to write in my home office. Now, with three kids, that has now turned into our kid's playroom! When I write presently, I head to a coffee shop or the local library. I try to write in the early mornings, while the day is fresh and my mind is fresh as well. But inspiration comes at any time of the day. When that happens, I just dive right in, even if it's just scribbling notes on a pad while I'm at the park with my children.
What is the story of getting your book published?
NOCHERA: This has been an eight year journey. I encountered many obstacles, but I knew this book could help all children, and I told myself to just keep on going. I have been through three illustrators until I found my incredible partner, Zach Wideman (Zach was also bullied in his youth). I needed a superb videographer, and that took a couple of tries until I found Simon Rojas, an amazing friend and filmmaker. I needed excellent film work as we launched this project on Kickstarter, and had to raise $14,500 to publish the book and to pay all the fees associated. We ran the campaign last year, in October (National Bullying Prevention Month), and we were successful.
You can see Simon's video here, as well as get more information on our Kickstarter campaign.
What was your role in the distribution and marketing of the book?
NOCHERA: My publisher Mascot Books handles distribution, and I'm working with Chris Baker at Mascot to promote the book. He's reaching out to the local press, national bloggers, Instagrammers and local bookstores. We've had 2 positive reviews so far on Instagram, which you can see at @tomnochera. I'm set up for readings so far at three local Barnes & Noble stores (Manassas, Fairfax/Merrifield and Tysons Corner), and we're looking to book many more in the DMV.
On my own, I'm booking readings at local schools. I'm set for a reading at Schools Without Walls in D.C., and am actively contacting and working with all counties and jurisdictions in the DMV to read “A Goat Named Joey” to students.
I will travel to Texas, California and Pennsylvania in the spring semester to do readings at schools there as well.
You can learn more about Tom Nochera by visiting his website: www.tomnochera.com.