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East Brunswick author’s story highlights empathy in newest ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ book

EAST BRUNSWICK–Telling a chronicle from his childhood that showcases the power of empathy, Scott Neumyer wrote “Easter in Ruins” in the latest release of “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Preteens.”

In the globally recognized book series’ newest installment, Neumyer wrote a non-fiction story where he tells a childhood story about his decision to do something kind for his little sister after something happens to her Easter candy.

“I wrote about a time [involving] my sister and me, who is two years younger than me. We always had a little bit of a contentious relationship growing up; we would get into arguments as most brothers and sisters do. I wasn’t the nicest brother, let’s put it that way, and there came an Easter when something happened,” Neumyer said. “I could tell at my young age at that time that it was a sad moment for her. Something happened to her Easter candy that was unexpected and I kind of made a little bit of a selfless gesture to try to cheer my sister up, and that’s always stuck with me.

“I always tell her that this publication is my apology to her for all those years I treated her poorly when we’re kids,” he said.

An East Brunswick resident for more than 10 years, Neumyer grew up in Spotswood and actually met his now-wife, who grew up in Milltown, at Spotswood High School.

Holding almost every job in the communications field, Neumyer said he worked at a public relations agency for eight years before moving over to writing full-time for about three years.

After writing and editing for different websites and notable publications, Neumyer said he went back to the public relations company he previously worked for, only this time he worked on the social media and content creation side.

Loving creative nonfiction writing pieces, such as personal essays, Neumyer said one of the tenants of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series is that the stories must be true and not fictional.

Often the book series’ publishers, Neuymer said, will advertise on their website that they are looking for stories and that interested writers should submit their stories to potentially get published.

With the book series’ pre-teen installment published on Oct. 27, Neuymer said his story was already published in a previous book titled “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids” in 2013.

“I sent the story and I said, ‘We’ll give it a try’. At that point I was really in my writing career. I was trying to just find my byline in so many new publications. That was always my goal, let’s knock that one off my list,” Neumyer said. “I’ve always thought that this series of books was interesting, and I said ‘Hey that sounds like an interesting topic.’ So I wrote the story up and I really just sent it in blind which is not something I really ever do.”

Submitting a story freely is not something Neumyer said he encourages others to do because he believes everyone should get paid for their writing.

“They came back to me and said, ‘We’d love it and we’d love to buy the right to it.’ So, once they buy the rights to it, they can rerun it in any of their subsequent editions,” Neumyer said. “They really wanted to go in a new direction this year with this thing positive for preteens. It’s much more colorful, a much more interactive book, there are crosswords and stuff for kids and all that. I really love the new series and kind of the new direction they’re taking so I was happy to say, ‘Yeah, please put it in there.’ ”

Neumyer said he feels his story is even more impactful now than when he first wrote it.

“We’ve seen, especially in this country in the last several years, this lack of empathy. This lack of caring for other people and my story, I really think that’s the touchstone of the story, is being empathetic and thinking about other people and how they feel,” Neumyer said. “As a kid, I wasn’t great at that with my sister but this one moment made me feel so empathetic for her and I just understood what she was going through and I wanted to make a gesture that would help alleviate some of the pain that she was feeling at that moment.”

Neumyer said he thinks it is an important thing for children to remember now, especially in a time when empathy has kind of gone to the wayside, he said.

“It’s something important that I think we all need to keep. I have a pre-teen myself, I have an 11-year-old daughter and she is one of the most empathetic people I’ve ever met, especially for her age. I love seeing that and I hope that teens and preteens will take that away from the story and just learn to care about each other a little bit more,” Neumyer said.

For more information about the book, visit www.chickensoup.com/book/233484/think-positive-for-preteens or www.amazon.com.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.

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