What is “Black Tar Mormon” about?

Fifteen years ago I began the process of writing this book… I just didn’t realize it. I was a Mormon Missionary in Mexico and began finding therapy through writing. Back then, before emojis, writing to convey tone seemed like more of an art form. Obviously, anyone who considers themselves a wordsmith still enjoys that challenge without those cartoon cheat codes.

Nevertheless, I have realized (now that over 500 copies have sold) that I have written a book that appeals to self-proclaimed “non-readers.”

The preface of this book explains what it is and–more importantly–what it is NOT:

–If you’ve dealt with any kind of addiction, you’re probably a fan of instant gratification. I know I am. Before you skip to the last page, let me just spoil it:

It’s happy.

I want to tell you how I ruined my name as a man and then built it into something stronger from the rubble. If you’ve always been on top, this isn’t for you. This one is for the underdogs. This is for anyone who has looked at the ashes of their life, mixed them with tears to create mortar, and undergone the arduous construction of redemption.

I’m going to tell you the uncensored and gritty truth about my time as a Mormon and a missionary, but this is not a book about Mormonism.

I’m going to tell you the intimate details about my early experiences with love and lust, but this is not a relationship book.

I’m going to give you the raw and dirty confessions about my time as a heroin addict, but this is not a book about drugs.

I’m going to tell you about what it took for me to get comfortable in my own skin, but this is not a self-help book.

The pages here will end. That’s inevitable. But my story continues… just like yours. That is both the beautiful and terrifying responsibility of living life. Each day we are given a page. Each day we decide what our story will leave behind.

We control our legacy.

Keep your expectations realistic. Don’t take anything you’re about to read as expert or medical advice. I haven’t nestled some secret weapon halfway through this book. If I had a magic wand, I’d have waved that bad-boy all over myself long before I had enough material for this cautionary tale.

What I do have to offer is brutal honesty and unbridled hope. I’m not going to pull any punches. You might laugh. You might cry. You might tell your neighbors to ban this book. That’s your prerogative and your life. This is mine. I’m sharing it with the same trepidation/motivation that I felt when I first opened up about these lessons I’ve learned the hard way: “If it helps just one person… it was all worth it.”–

Based on the reviews, my words have been able to help some of the people who have read them:

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People have also been kind enough to send me pictures of their signed copies:

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When I first started writing the early chapters of this book, it was called “A Soul Held Hostage” and focused solely on my crisis of faith with Mormonism and organized religion in general. I pulled that book from the shelves after only halt-a-dozen copies had been printed, but I’ve included some of it in chapters 3-12 (along with periodic notes from present day about the addiction and downward spiral that followed.)

“I do believe that a testimony requires effort and examination. I also believe that gaining fundamental beliefs should arrive naturally – like the feel of a worn, favorite pair of sneakers. It is uncomfortable, even painful, to trudge through life with the beliefs of others that feel like stiff footwear, several sizes too small. How miserable, cringing with each step, convincing yourself that it is your feet that are the wrong size.”

That first book was not the end of the story. Chapters 1-3 and 13-16 take you through an honest and (according to some readers) “painful” and “cringeworthy” depiction of my addiction. I describe how it began, what it took from me, and how I overcame it:

“If you get a balloon of brown sugar or reach into your pocket for your drugs and instead find a hole… your entire world falls apart. Your life has become a countdown timer. Getting your “fix” just means you have another 12-18 hours of relief before you go from feeling nothing to feeling everything. Once you get to that point, ANY lucid thought or emotion is pure torture. You are trying to plug holes in a dam. The blockade continues to erode despite your efforts and behind that crumbling wall is a flood of reality.

Drugs would be really easy to avoid if your life completely fell apart after that first taste. Similarly, recovery would be really easy if life was spectacular after your first day clean.

It doesn’t work that way.”

Chapters 17-22 bring you back out of that misery and answer some of the most common questions I’ve gotten during my recovery and work with other addicts.

But… you’ll have to read those parts yourself.

If you would like a signed copy with a sticker and homemade bookmark (courtesy of my daughters) there are still some available at BlackTarMormon.com for $20 with free shipping within the United States.

If you would prefer an unsigned copy or an eBook, check out Lulu or Amazon. If you’ve read it and enjoyed it (or hated it) please don’t hesitate to leave me an honest review.

Finally… thank you. Really. THANK YOU. There were many catalysts to this book and writing this blog was certainly one of them. If you’ve noticed an absence these last few months, it’s because I was so focused on finishing the book by my deadline.

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One Response to What is “Black Tar Mormon” about?

  1. Tanya Trujillo July 12, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    Just finished your book Dan. I loved it. I’m a drug and alcohol counselor in Cambridge, MA. This book helped me to relate to my clients more.

    I’m also writing my own book; my memoir “A Kind Heart.”

    I’m friends with Heidi Davis on fb. Keep doing what you do to end this epidemic.