Vernon native Kevin B. Edwards never imagined when he was bullied in his youth that those moments would fuel a childrens book series he hopes will inspire kids to push past their limiting beliefs.
I always had the ability to sing, Edwards said. In the tenth grade, a teacher asked me to sing for the National Honor Society. I didnt want to do it because I wasnt sure how my singing would be received.
Edwards, 55, is a 1984 graduate of Vernon High School. He went on to attend Troy University and works today as a case manager at MUST Ministries, an outreach serving the homeless community, in Marietta, Ga.
Edwards worked in education prior to his time in the ministry. He worked at Roulhac Middle School as a paraprofessional in the early 90s before moving to the Atlanta area in 1994.
It was an encounter with a Marietta student who also struggled to find her confidence to sing that motivated Edwards to write his first book, Kevin Turns Fear Into Feat.
I felt the need to share my story with her, Edwards said. When we were talking, I could pick up on that she was being bullied as well.
Edwards said he felt God leaned on him to share his own experiences with the student, a strategy that proved to help the young lady through her own struggles. Soon after, the notion to help young people by sharing challenges in his own life led Edwards to self-publish his first book.
Edwards reconnected with local students again in February this year as a keynote speaker during Black History Month at his alma mater. The following month, Kevin Turns Fear Into Feat was well-received after its release.
In fact, Washington County School District purchased 725 copies of the book for all third, fourth and fifth grade students in the district.
Kevin Turns Fear Into Feat takes the reader on a journey that parallels Edwards experience of being asked to sing in a school program all those years ago. Kevin found himself being fearful and struggled with acceptance from his peers.
In the end, Kevin finds a way to overcome. Edwards said the characters musical gift turned out to be his saving grace after this opportunity changed his entire school experience and helped him conquer his fears.
The thing is, even though youre afraid, you face your fears, Edwards said.
Edwards took the story of Kevin further and released the second book in the series, Kevins Big Win, on Amazon on Aug. 16. The books are available on Kindle, in hardcover for $19.95, and in paperback for $16.95.
In Kevins Big Win, Kevin and his family travel to Hawaii to promote his newly released music on the radio. While in Waikiki, Kevin competes in a talent show and wins the grand prize. Kevin is forced to face his fears again by using the lessons he has learned to triumph in the presence of fear.
The book is once again inspired by real events in Edwards life and is based on two separate vacations his family took to Hawaii. Edwards won a contest in which his music was featured on the radio, and he performed for everyone on the cruise ship.
Edwards is planning two more books in the series. A Christmas book is underway and planned for release later this year. The final installment, Kevin Goes On Tour, is scheduled to be released next year.
Edwards said he wants children to realize that facing their fears is the key to achieving anything they want to do in life.
In his own way, Edwards set out to convey inspiration he finds daily in the words, do it afraid, a phrase made famous by author Joyce Meyer.
Its what I live by, Edwards said.