By B.C. Manion
James Langston Jr. remembers the joy that reading brought him as a young boy, and he wants to spread that feeling to young children everywhere.
He’s hoping his book, “Maximus the Musical Elephant,” will make children smile and make them eager to read more books.
And he hopes in the not-too-distant future he can publish another book that will entertain them as they learn.
He still recalls the delight he felt when he read “Green Eggs and Ham” and other Dr. Seuss books. He’s been interested in poetry ever since.
In his book, “Maximus the Musical Elephant,” Maximus gets a peanut stuck in his trunk, and it is not until the peanut is freed that he learns that his trunk is actually a wonderful musical instrument.
Upon the discovery, the elephant cannot contain his joy and soon begins entertaining everyone at the zoo. His act becomes wildly popular, driving up ticket sales, which in turn, creates the need to expand the zoo.
The book, illustrated by Rebecca Riffey, is a self-published work produced by Tate Publishing & Enterprises.
Langston, who lives in Wesley Chapel, said he decided to go that route because he had a deep desire to share his work, and he believes it will find an audience.
“You have to invest in yourself and you have to believe in yourself. The same energy that you put into other things, you have to put into making your dreams come true,’’ he said.
The 37-year-old said he visited India, where he saw the power of elephants, and while there learned that they represent good luck.
He decided to write a story about elephants, and he came up with the idea to transform the elephant’s trunk into a musical instrument. As he wrote the story, he was inspired by the great jazz musician, Louis Armstrong.
It took him about four months to write the story, constantly tweaking it and reading versions of it aloud to others. He said he finally had to stop himself from making additional changes because he knows no matter what he writes, there will always be room for improvement. Authors have to step away at some point, if they ever want to finish a work, he said.
He said the story he wanted to tell is that “you never know what you’ll discover, until you try.”
In this case, “Maximus didn’t know he could play music.”
“Every one of us has something that we’re supposed to do. We have a God-given talent. We search for what that talent is, and if you’re lucky enough to find it in this lifetime, you have to build upon it and work at it.”
He said he finds inspiration everywhere.
“When we actually slow down, we can hear the birds singing. We can see the silver lining of the clouds. We can see the leaves actually fall to the ground. You can see the flowers bloom. You can see life, if you slow down, take a look.
“Life is full of so many mysteries and things that we don’t see because we are so busy looking at what we can see and what we have to overcome.”
Langston is married, and he and his wife, Vanessa, have four children: Miya, Keana, Alex and Shay.
Although he has only published one book, Langston has written scores of others. He thinks it is his calling is to write and share stories, and he believes they may one day be the source for movies or songs or other adaptations.
For now, he’s simply savoring the start of a new chapter in his life.
He’s accomplished one of his dreams: He is a published author.
/James Langston Jr. is available to do readings or book signings and can be reached at . His book sells for $9.99 and can be purchased online at http://www.tatepublishing.com. It is available in paperback and online versions.
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