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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Henderson

Finding Hope in Storytelling: Tyler Wittkofsky


Tyler in front of a deer.
Unveiling Resilience

Finding Hope

In a world where vulnerability is often mistaken for weakness, Tyler Wittkofsky stands as a beacon of strength, resilience, and inspiration. Through his remarkable journey as an author, publisher, podcaster, and mental health advocate, Tyler has not only transformed his own struggles into literary masterpieces but has also become a guiding light for countless individuals navigating similar challenges.

 

A Passionate Advocate

 

Tyler's story is one of passion and purpose. Growing up amidst the serenity of the southern coast of North Carolina, his love for writing blossomed under the nurturing gaze of his grandmother, an English teacher and principal. Despite facing the formidable shadows of mental health struggles, Tyler found solace in the written word, using poetry as a means of coping and self-expression.

 

From Struggle to Triumph

 

Tyler's literary journey took a profound turn when he decided to confront his mental health challenges head-on. His debut novel, "Not Alone," and subsequent works such as "The Seeds of Love" and "Potent" reflect his courage to delve into the depths of his own experiences with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression. Through poignant narratives and relatable characters, Tyler shines a light on the complexities of mental illness while offering hope and understanding to readers around the world.

 

Tea with Coffee Media: Empowering Voices

 

Fuelled by his passion for storytelling and advocacy, Tyler co-founded Tea with Coffee Media, a publishing company dedicated to amplifying the voices of indie authors. With a commitment to authenticity and creativity, Tea with Coffee Media provides a platform for writers to share their stories, regardless of genre or background. Tyler's vision for the company extends beyond traditional publishing, aiming to foster a community where writers can thrive and support one another.

 

Conversations that Matter: Back Porch Parley and Cook the Books

 

In addition to his literary endeavors, Tyler engages in thought-provoking conversations through his podcasts, "Back Porch Parley" and "Cook the Books." With his friend Matt, he explores societal trends, personal anecdotes, and the joys of everyday life, fostering a sense of connection and camaraderie in a divided world. Through "Cook the Books," Tyler highlights the diverse voices within the writing community, offering insights and advice for aspiring authors while celebrating the power of storytelling.

 

A Journey of Adventure and Exploration

 

Beyond the realms of literature and podcasting, Tyler embarks on thrilling adventures with his wife and beloved dogs, chronicling their travels through the "Adventure with Coffee" blog. From scenic road trips to brewery tours and campground reviews, Tyler invites readers to join him on a journey of discovery, laughter, and shared experiences.

 

A Message of Hope and Resilience

 

At the heart of Tyler's journey lies a message of hope and resilience. Through his writing, advocacy, and unwavering dedication to helping others, he proves that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but a testament to the strength of the human spirit. Whether through a heartfelt novel, an enlightening podcast episode, or a simple conversation, Tyler continues to inspire and uplift those around him, reminding us all that we are not alone in our struggles.

 

In Conclusion

 

Tyler Wittkofsky's story is a testament to the transformative power of storytelling and the indomitable spirit of the human soul. With each word he writes, each conversation he shares, and each life he touches, Tyler leaves an indelible mark on the world, igniting a flame of hope and understanding that illuminates the darkest of days. As we journey alongside him, may we find solace in his words, strength in his courage, and inspiration in his unwavering commitment to making a difference.

 

Through literature, advocacy, and compassion, Tyler Wittkofsky has truly become a champion of mental health awareness, a guiding light for those in need, and a shining example of the transformative power of resilience and hope.



Transcript of Episode:

Michelle Henderson :

Welcome to Inspire Your Essence. I'm your host Michelle. Joining us today is a remarkable guest, Tyler Aler, Wadowski president and publisher of Tea with Coffee Media hailing from the southern coast of North Carolina. Tyler is an award-winning marketing professional, multi-gen author and podcaster. Tyler's literary journey began with poetry as a means to cope with mental health struggles. His debut novel, not Alone, and Romance. Romance novel, the Seeds of Love reflect his dedication to addressing mental health issues. Tyler co-host a back porch, parley and cook the book's podcast shares insightful discussions on societal trends and writing. Let's explore Tyler's diverse creations and mental health advocacy. And I also want to know what inspires him. So let's bring him on. Hello. Hello.


Tyler Wittkofsky:

Hey, Michelle.


Michelle Henderson :

How are you?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

I'm doing great. Living the dream, traveling across the United States and enjoying it with my wife and three dogs.


Michelle Henderson :

Isn't it wonderful that we have technology so that you can do that, travel around the world and work remotely? I absolutely love that. I need to go back and be young again so I can fulfill the dream of traveling as well. So before we get started, I want to ask you, Tyler, to come up with five words because you are very deep and you're an author, and I know that you think really deeply so we can really get into how Tyler thinks. So give me five words that describes who you are.


Tyler Wittkofsky:

All right. Passionate, advocate. Dedicated. Committed, and selfless.


Michelle Henderson :

Oh, I love it. I love it. And whenever I was looking at your bio, that pretty much describes everything. And I also want to add one word in there as well, warrior and stubborn in a

good way. You know what I'm saying? In a good way. When I say stubborn, people go, what do you mean? What are you talking? But okay, so I'm going to go ahead and bring on stage your books, and I actually read that the One Not Alone. So I really want to dive into this book and then we'll talk about the other books as well. But just looking at your books and the way that you write, it's almost like you write about what you know have experienced. And to me that really gripped my attention and I thought, wow, he's really experienced some things. Can you go ahead and talk about how you write, go about writing and why you decided to get inspired to get it out in public?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

So writing's always been a passion of mine way back since I was a little kid. I grew up in the mid to late nineties, and back then you didn't really have game boys and tablets and things like that to keep you occupied. So I used to go, my grandmother was a English teacher, principal and later my elementary school principal. And we spent a lot of time, or I spent a lot of time with her in the school system and took to writing because all I had was pen and paper. I couldn't go outside and play because of course we're on a high school campus or on a school campus and you're not allowed to go out and play with the older kids. So I spent a lot of time writing and drawing comics for my grandmother, and she always inspired me. She loved my writing, she loved what I was doing, and she just encouraged me to keep on writing. And as school went on and I kind of fell out of love with writing because there was a lot of technical writing that gets kind of be boring and tedious, and it just kind of Killed my love for Writing. It was sad and unfortunate. But in 20 18, 20 19, I moved back in with my grandmother for about four months while my house was being built, and she asked me one day, she said, are you still writing? And I told her basically what I just told you, and she said, well, why don't you write something for me? So that inspired me to put together a story and I tried to think of some ideas and I finally came up with the idea of Not Alone, which was originally a novella, and I recently rewrote it and republished it in October of this year as a full length novel. And it came to me while I was driving home from work. I was like, I'm going to write a story from my grandma just showcasing some of my mental health struggles because she was very passionate about my mental health and my mental illness, and she was one of the ones that had been most supportive of me finding a solution and finding a cause behind my issues that I was having as I was younger.

And so I wanted to write that for her, and I really pantsed it. I didn't know anything about writing a book, so I just kind of went with it and just started writing. I showed it to my grandmother each chapter as I finished, I read it to my wife, I showed it to my brother, his chapter, and my mom and stepdad, their chapter, and my best friends. I showed them their chapter and of course my wife, her chapter, and they all loved it, and they kept telling me how much it inspired them and made them feel connected to me and understand me more. And that was really what inspired me to put it out to the world at first, because whenever I got the initial diagnosis of bipolar disorder and anxiety and depression, I was kind of ashamed. There's such a stigma around bipolar, and I was like, am I going crazy? Am I going to be able to function in life? And so I decided to publish it and let the world know and raise advocacy to show people that you could still be successful, that you could still accomplish things. I was winning awards every single year for six years straight despite my bipolar disorder. And that's what I wanted to show people was that success was capable and that you could be happy despite your mental illness.


Michelle Henderson :

Absolutely. And that's exactly what I got from the book. Now, the one with the Deer, is this the first one or the rewrite?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

That's the rewrite.


Michelle Henderson :

Okay. Okay, good. I read that one. I noticed that there's another book with a man's face on there. Yes,


Tyler Wittkofsky:

That that's the original novella. Okay.


Michelle Henderson :

Okay. And I want to talk to you about the deer, and I know that when I talk to authors about their books, about what I've read, I know you don't want to do any spoilers along the way, so if I do anything, I would say let's not talk about that. But I love the deer, the symbol of the deer, and it of course is in the book with the blue eyes. Right. So can you tell everybody I know, but I want to know your perspective as well. What does the deer symbolize?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

So the deer symbolizes a couple of different things. The most obvious thing is there is also a man in black, and the man in black represents the main character, Henry's demons, and the deer represents his light side. It's basically a battle of light versus dark. For me personally, the reason I included the deer as the symbol of hope for Henry was because my great-grandfather, who they called peewee, he was big into hunting, and my grandfather taught me to hunt, and both of their favorite colors was a very vibrant Carolina blue. And whenever I was writing the first scene and had the deer in it, I was like, what would be really cool is if it had blue eyes that would make it stand out and make it seem more peaceful. And so I kind of dedicated, it originally started as a dedication to my great-grandfather, Peewee, and before he passed away or after he passed away, it was whenever I killed my first deer.

And I remember that day praying to him, not a God or a deity, I prayed to my great grandfather and said, please help me get my first deer today. And it was the biggest deer I ever tagged still to this day. And it is mounted in my grandfather's building man cave. He unfortunately passed away in April of 2023. So whenever I rewrote, not alone, I dedicated that one to him and to me, the blue eyes were yet another symbol of another grandfather in my life and also Henry's life because there is, I do letters from characters in my newsletter, and one of the newsletters was recently Henry's letter to his past, his late grandfather. So it was kind of emotional for me to write because it was like I was writing it to my grandfather. He calls his grandfather the same thing I called mine Grande.


Michelle Henderson :

Oh, wow. Oh, it just fascinates me on when writers, when they come up with ideas in their book, it really, I mean, it's a creative process that is so interesting to me, and that's why I love interviewing authors because I get to see that inspiration, that creativity. Now you said that it was based upon true life events. Were you Henry, whenever you wrote this book? Is that what you experienced whenever you found out you had bipolar?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

Yeah, yeah. The story is, it is fictionalized some, but most of the events are based on true events, things that actually happened to me in my life, and it tells my story from start to beginning. And like I said, I want it to be able to fictionalize it at first to make it a little bit different so that maybe people wouldn't put it together that it was me. And then the more I start to write it, the more I was like, I want people to know this is me. I want to tell my story. I want to tell the story of survival and hope and resilience.


Michelle Henderson :

Absolutely. And what I really loved about Henry is that even though he was battling so much, he had so much support around him, he had so much love. And that showed in the book, and I think you did a great job bringing the characters and their personalities. They were completely different type of relationships that you brought out like grandparents and parent and girlfriend and wife and so forth. But even though they were different and friends as well, so if they're different relationships, they were still supporting Henry and there were so many different pieces that were happening in this book and you got to just see him grow into the person that he needed to be at the very end. So what are you hoping that somebody that has been diagnosed with bipolar, what do you want them to know? What is your message to them?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

My message is simple. You don't have to do this alone, and you do have the tools to be successful. And I know there's people out there who don't have the friends and the family that I have, and that's why I open up my dms on all of my social media accounts to anybody who wants to come to me just to talk. I'd rather hear about your problems now than have to hear about 'em through an obituary the next day. And if anybody needs anybody to talk to, please find me. Seek me out on social media and shoot me a DM and let's talk. I will listen to your problems. We can strike up a friendship. And I just, I've always wanted been passionate about helping other people and wanting to see other people succeed. And that's just part of my goal.


Michelle Henderson :

And not only too are you educating people with bipolar and how to accept it and to know that you're not alone and to seek it, you're also educating the people that are not aware of bipolar. And I think that is just as important so that people, because I know that I heard this somewhere that educators were saying, you've got bipolar, so you're not going to go anywhere. And you know what? That's your stubborn, you came out and said, by God, I'm going to make something out of myself, and you did so good for you. So let's go ahead and read about your other books and then I want to talk about your business and also your podcast. But I know they just, again, you just got started and you're just going, I'm going to prove to everybody, and my goodness, I don't know how you have time for all this. So let's go ahead and just go from left to and just explain a summary of the book and why you wrote it, but potent and really, this is really interesting. I love this cover. I mean, you do such a fantastic job with your images. So what is this book about?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

So potent is a modern day retelling of a Midsummer Night Stream by William Shakespeare. It takes Tatanya and Obon and puts them in the modern world. They've been separated for quite some time and they've been living in the mortal world. Obon actually has schizophrenia in this book. So I really want it to include mental illness. I include mental illness in all of my books. So it's a big theme. There's actually a reference, a not alone character in Potent. There's a reference to all, not alone in all of my books, so fun fact, but Potent was a story basically this evil queen is trying to take over the world by creating this perfume that makes everybody fall in love with everybody. So it's just one big mess where people were falling in love with somebody that's not their spouse or not their girlfriend or not their boyfriend, and it turns into a mess. So OB Brown and Tanya have to go out and find a cure for this, spell this perfume, and be able to change the world. And while they're doing that, maybe they'll spark up their relationship again, even though ton's in a relationship and LeBron has been trying to win her back for a couple hundred years.


Michelle Henderson :

That has a lot of things into it. Okay. How about coffee, alcohol and heartbreak?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

That is my poetry collection. I wrote that between 2012 and 2016 and published it in 2020. And I wrote those while I was struggling through before I was diagnosed with mental illness to a year after I was diagnosed with mental illness. So it kind of goes through my journey, the darkness that I battled while I was undiagnosed, fighting addiction, fighting the bipolar disorder, going through the real life, being introduced to the real world for the first time. 2012 was when I graduated high school. So being able to come out of that and then go into the real world and be shocked into, I moved out of my mom's house at 18 and went into, stayed with a roommate and got into bad habits and being able to tell my story through poetry was important to me. And I had just always kept 'em in a document on my Google Drive and one day was going through it and decided, I was like, I'm going to publish this because it may not be the best poetry in some people's eyes, but just I wanted to get it out there. Yeah.


Michelle Henderson :

Oh, absolutely, absolutely. How about the Seeds of Love?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

That is the first of a five book series. It is about a mentally ill young man who falls in love with this girl, and they live through a long distance relationship. They go through a lot of trials and tribulations throughout this relationship, including being distant and family issues and friends issues and things like that. I'm working on book two, which should be coming out in late 2024, so be on the lookout for that. We don't have a cover for it yet, but hopefully we'll soon. And yeah.


Michelle Henderson :

Oh my goodness. Okay. Principals. Principals.


Tyler Wittkofsky:

Alright. Principals principles is probably one of my favorites so far. It is actually a story dedicated to my grandmother. She was the first female principal in a very rural county in the late eighties, and this story is about a female principal in the late eighties who she's the first female principal and goes through the trials and tribulations she faces from students and staff and faculty and her superiors and shows the different struggles that she faced. It's not exactly based on a true story, but it is inspired by my grandmother. I wrote the main character how I could have seen my grandmother handling these situations and built her after my grandmother.


Michelle Henderson :

Wow. We're getting to know a lot about your grandmother. And it's so interesting because my mother was also an English teacher, but she would get out the red pen and look at my grammar in the paper. And so when she gave it back to me, it had all this red ink everywhere and I'm going, okay, it defeated me. I'm going, I'm not going to write anymore. Or if I do, I'm not going to show you anymore. Did your grandmother ever get the red pen out?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

Oh yeah. And whenever I was writing my novella, she actually edited it first. She was the first one to edit it and went through it with a red pen and marked it up and I went back and made the changes and I was thankful for her on that one. But yeah, whenever I was younger it, it felt defeating. It was one of those feelings that's like, Ooh, my grandma is tearing up my paper if she can't, even if she finds all these flaws, what are other people going to find?


Michelle Henderson :

But you know what, and I think is think God has given us talents. Mine is not, editing is not grammar. I can write a story and I know you can write a story, so your talent is getting it on paper and then getting somebody to go back and look at all the grammar. So at least we've got somebody that can support us in that area. Oh my goodness. Yeah, everybody's got their talents. And just to think that your grandmother was a principal back then, because I was in education and I know how difficulty being in education be regardless of everything else going on and being a woman back then. So I understand that completely. And I really love that you were able to see that perspective from your grandmother to say, you know what? She was a warrior alone herself as well. Alright, let's talk about your tea with coffee media. So how did you start this and what do you do?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

So Tea with Coffee Media was a brainchild of mine and a few friends, and we decided we wanted to start a publishing company and help other people publish their books. It's been quite the journey so far. We faced some challenges, we've faced some successes and it's just about keeping going. But we are a publisher, we're traditional publishers, so our authors don't pay a dime for our services, but we also do offer our services to those who want to go the self-publishing route so that they can get professional editing and professional cover designs and formatting and things of that sort. So we really are trying to help as many authors out there as possible, whether there are authors or supporting other authors. It's all about raising up the indie community. Eventually we want to expand into podcasts and blogs and YouTube channels and things like that to help more indie creators.


Michelle Henderson :

And I think it's very well needed. Or don't you, let me think. What is your perspective on, I know that when Covid came around, everybody was at home and they thought, you know what? A lot of people go, I'm going to write my book, which I think is wonderful. And so don't you think that the indie writers are really changing the way that we're publishing books and getting books out there than paying somebody a professional? I don't want to say, what do you call the other publications


Tyler Wittkofsky:

In entity publishers?


Michelle Henderson :

What


Tyler Wittkofsky:

Are you talking Vanity publishers?


Michelle Henderson :

Yes. Yeah. The other ones that are not Indy Independent. Yes, yes. They take pretty much your book and they make it their own, basically. So I think it's wonderful that you're doing that because I think people, whenever they go independent, they are able to keep their ideas and voice what they want in the book versus the other way.


Tyler Wittkofsky:

Absolutely.


Michelle Henderson :

Yeah. So I think it's very well needed. Alright, so if somebody wants to write a book, where can they reach you on the media page Tea with coffee media?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

Yeah. Our website is tea with coffee media and my direct email is tea with coffee at tea, with coffee media.


Michelle Henderson :

And I'll put it in the show notes, but I just wanted, since we're talking about it and somebody says, Hey, I want to get my book out there. Plus they may want to see what books that you have actually published to get out there, because I think that's really important too, is to see the publishing company and see what they've done already. Alright, so I've got to talk to you about your podcast. Yes. Okay. I love it. So I actually watched a couple of episodes of Back Porch Parley and I absolutely loved it because it's just you. And what is your friend's name?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

Matt.


Michelle Henderson :

Matt. I love how you and Matt kind of go back and forth. You're just kind of kicking your feet up and just talking about society. So what inspired you to do this podcast?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

We started it during the Covid era when there was a lot of division and hate and bigotry going on in the world, and we just wanted to show people that you could have a discussion without getting angry and have different opinions and you could just kick back, like you said, throw your feet up, sit back with a beer and have a conversation. And that's what we did. Most episodes, me and him were sitting there popping open a cold craft beer and just having a good time chatting about life and what we were doing and what was going on and just anything in general. And we have some episodes called Open Parlays where we didn't have a topic, we just went in and started talking about life and what was going on and things that we had seen. And those turned out to be some of our best episodes better than the ones where we had topics.


Michelle Henderson :

Oh, right. Oh absolutely. I love it when you just on the spot and you're talking. Okay, so cook the books. I love this one.


Tyler Wittkofsky:

Yes. So Cook the books is a tea with Coffee Media podcast. It was started by me and my best friend and vice president of marketing, Kelsey Ann Lovelady. And we started it to, well of course raise awareness for tea with coffee. We do interviews with tea, with coffee media authors and staff members just to get their names out there too. And sometimes we work with other publishers to help get their authors out there or their name out there. And it's just all about writing trends, hot topics in the writing community and just showcasing the amazing indie family that we've built at tea with coffee media.


Michelle Henderson :

Absolutely. And I love it because you've got topics that somebody can follow when writing a book. How about, and I love this when I caught this at the very end when I was putting all this material together, adventure with coffee. So is that your wife with you?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

Yes, and actually this is an older logo. We just adopted a third dog named Rocky. He is a 9-year-old pit bull. He was my wife's late brother's dog and the people he was staying with, their issues came up and they couldn't keep 'em, so we took them in. So we have the two dogs on the logo, and that is my wife and me. It's not a podcast, but it is a blog. It's a travel blog. We do a lot of blogging through it, RV tips and tricks, travel tips and tricks, brewery reviews, restaurant reviews, campground reviews, all kinds of stuff for people to keep up with what we're doing. We started it mainly for family and friends, but it's kind of grown to extended people that we don't really know, but they see our logo and they want to jump in.


Michelle Henderson :

Oh, absolutely. I know, again, I don't see how you are doing all this. So you're doing everything that we've talked about plus, yes. You write a lot of blogs as well. Yeah. Is there anything, Tyler, that we did not talk about that you want to make sure that we get into this episode?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

No, I think we've covered everything. You did a good job. I appreciate it.


Michelle Henderson :

Well, thank you


Tyler Wittkofsky:

Very thorough. We got everything that I wanted to cover.


Michelle Henderson :

Well good, good, good, good. Okay, so what I do want to talk about before we do your last question, well, you know what, let's go ahead and do the will first and then we'll do that. Okay. And he's probably going, what is she talking about? Alright, so lemme go ahead and bring up the will and we'll see what the last question is. Let's see. Let's see. And this is from my being an educator.


Michelle Henderson :

Yes. I love it. I love it. So a lot of people have favorite numbers. So what is your favorite number and why?


Tyler Wittkofsky:

My favorite number used to be eight or 18 because I would see eight in all of my fortune cookies and it just became my angel number. But whenever I met my wife, she was number 15, she played college or played college soccer and she was number 15 and I started playing softball and became number 15. And that just became my favorite number because it was like both of our numbers playing sports and it was just


Michelle Henderson :

Interesting.


Tyler Wittkofsky:

A good memory. Yeah.


Michelle Henderson :

Yeah. So it depends. I was about to say, it depends upon the situation you're in that brings up on that memory and it's so interesting that, wow, both of you had the same number while playing sports. That is incredible. Alright, so before we leave everybody, and I'm going to go ahead and let everybody know if this was really resonating with you, please share it with somebody really needs this information. Tyler, before I push the to go or to go button, I want you to give one more inspirational statement that you want to leave everybody with.


Tyler Wittkofsky:

You've made it through a hundred percent of the bad times so far. Don't lose that perfect record.


Michelle Henderson :

Perfect. And so we're going to leave it with that. All right everybody. I will see you next week for more inspiration.

 

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