Illustrating a Point– Nick Wale Interviews Publisher and Illustrator George Vega

On my wanders around the world of the Internet I find some interesting folk. Today, I want to introduce someone who really has something to offer all you talented artists out there. George Vega is a well-respected, talented illustrator. He is now a publisher and he wants to work with both new and tested talent. Let George explain…

George VegaQ) Hi, George, let me ask you to begin with, can you describe yourself in your own words? Who is George Vega?

A) Hi, Nick, I would describe myself as a nice and patient guy. It feels to me that people like being around me. I’m awesome at parties! (laughs) I work hard and believe that many have more talent than I, but few can outwork me. This may come from my Kung Fu background,

Q) Kung Fu? So you’re a martial arts expert as well?

A) I am a Black Belt in Northern Shaolin Kung-Fu. I’ve competed in forms and weapons competitions NASKA from 1999- 2002. Back in 2001, was ranked second in Chinese Open hand forms and Chinese style weapons. So, ‘expert’? I don’t know, but I truly love to practice and train. I’m always trying to push myself and understand why this martial art has lasted about 1000 years.

Q) Of course, martial arts centres around patience. Would you say that’s where you picked up your patience?

A) Yes, your right. That’s where my patience may have come from. It helps me deal with people and stand up for myself in a verbal sense.

Q) You are a talented illustrator and graphic designer. Did you have to push yourself to become so good at what you do or did it come naturally?

A) P-U-S-H!!!! Ha! I think the passion is natural. I went to F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York, and my focus was not right those years. Truthfully, I had it easier with graphic design.

I studied graphic design after really not doing much with illustration for years. Graphic design did flow but did not fully satisfy me creatively.

Georges

Q) The fire was still burning to do more with your talent? Push it further?

A) Yes, I believe so, because you practice and push yourself to your limits. So, at times, when I watch a movie or stay on the couch watching TV, a little voice goes off in my head and says, “Get to work, you have to keep developing– keep pushing.”

It’s the same voice that would help me as I trained with my Coach and Sifu. However, the answer is certainly ‘yes’– I pushed myself to achieve my current abilities.

Q) Has moving into publishing dimmed the fire at all?

A) It’s tough and it does steal some creative and work time, but I’m trying to cultivate the publishing end of things and want to work with quality people and artists. If I wanted to, I would print cards and hand them to EVERYONE at Comic Con’s Artist Alley and just worry about revenue and getting sales, but I don’t. I try my best to get behind artists who are doing top-notch work, print their books, and showcase them. It would be great to have a full steam ahead publishing company like the big boys where I could also provide creative services.

Q) Are you aiming to become one of the “big boys” in the future? Is that your next goal?

A) Yes, that’s what I’m working on. I can provide publishing services to artists as well as illustration work to other companies.

Q) Are you strongly connected in the world of publishing? To other artists? Other publishing companies?

A) Artists, yes. Some are great friends, too, or we have become friends. Companies– that’s growing daily. I keep making contacts.

Q) As an up-and-coming publisher, how do you feel about the current trend of self-publishing?

A) I think it’s very cool to have that freedom because it gives a chance for that little guy to make something happen. Unfortunately, when you self-publish, you don’t really know if you have something good or if you may lose a lot of money. The kickstarter thing is awesome, but I just hope people don’t get carried away with the capital and not take the opportunity to build something significant. Either way, let people be and the cream always rises.

Vega

Q) I read about a lot of writers and artists who lose hope and think they’ll never get recognised for their talents. Did you ever feel as though your talents would never be recognised?

A) All the time…

I wonder if people actually think I’m talented or not. All I know is my whole life I loved to draw and I loved cartoons. As a kid, my favorite cartoon was Voltron. I watched the credits, wondering if I could contact one of those people to teach me. Little did I know that it was all done overseas. I would like to say that patience is key– I am not a phenomenon– I am just lucky enough to know my passion.

Q) George, what would your advice be to young artists trying to break into the business?

A) Such an important question. The first step is with yourself. Take stock of what you have talent-wise.

Talk to other artists, look for people above you or who are further along. Those conversations can be worth gold as far as understanding where you want to go. Really understand the spectrum of illustration– from comics to concept work to sketch cards, traditional to digital, and everything in between…all of it. Because you have to put your efforts in somewhere and you need to choose where they are best placed. You have to know because there it too much competition out there to muck around.

Q) I think that is some of the most important advice anyone could receive. It’s no good doing anything unless you intend to do it well. Did you always know you wanted to be an illustrator as a kid?

A) YES! I would always say I was going to be an artist. I wish I had someone in my family that new something about it, but my parents were not from the US and spoke very little English. My dad was very hardworking and my mom took care of us. Uncles and aunts were too far away, so I had to figure it out myself.

gv
Q) A story of success– George Vega: I did it my way!

A) Yes, right or wrong, I did it my way. I think anyone can make it if they just keep at it and make the mistakes as well as the successes.

I am lucky enough to have a series of interviews with George. We will be discussing his publishing company Vegamation, and his own work as an illustrator. I am pumped and ready for it, be sure to catch the next one!

Links for George Vega

Contact George here

http://www.georgevega.daportfolio.com/

http://shaotemp.deviantart.com/

“The Burning Bush Is Your Friend!” Author David Alvin says Howdy!

David Alvin is a forward thinking guy. He’s a risk taker with the faith to know all will be good. David is also author of many books, most notably, “The Burning Bush is Your Friend” and also happens to be a guy I can now call my own friend. We have spoken on many subjects– books, music and David Frost. What did we talk about for this interview? Keep reading to take a look!

David Alvin

Q) Hi, David. Tell me about yourself– who is David Alvin?

A) I knew you’d ask this first (I HAVE read your other interviews!) I would say David Alvin is what Winston Churchill said about Russia: “A riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma.”

Nah, not really, I’m a servant of my Lord God, an acceptor of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (the term “Christian” I use hesitantly for that term appears three times in the New Testament, and two of those times its derogatory), the husband of Martha, the dad to Sarah and Jeffrey, the small business owner whose business is getting bigger every day, and a creator of words upon paper that make sense! Most of the time.

Q) What’s your business? How do you feel about running your own business? Are you a man who believes in enterprise?

A) I’ll give you these answers separately:

1) My wife and I started a Shaklee business of our own — it’s a fifty-five year old health and wellness company specializing in inch loss/weight management products, environmentally friendly cleaning products, comprehensive multivitamins, and natural beauty enhancers — last March. We’re not making near what we want to make, but doing quite well. Hey, who couldn’t stand being healthier? For more information check out our business website.

I feel running my own business — it’s good that I can’t get fired from it, for one thing, but I’ve also got a lot of help locally and an excellent support system — gives me more of a sense of purpose, sometimes makes me feel more alive, that this is something I can leave to my kids and my wife should God forbid something happen to me. You may consider my view of the man of the house being the provider a bit … um, old-fashioned, but I believe I have to be the one who doesn’t give up — at my writing, in my home life, anything.

Do I believe in enterprise? I would think that’s self-evident, but how’s this: I believe in striking out on your own and being willing to take your lumps is essential to making any achievement of yours work. I’m sure you can relate to that, too, and we can both guarantee the person doesn’t live who’s never practiced enterprise to its ultimate potential!

Q) Well said, David. So can you tell me, how your faith has guided your path in life?

A) I would say my faith has helped me most by giving me a purpose beyond myself. Certainly if I didn’t have it I would have never driven up from Florida where I grew up to remain with Martha (a two-and-a-half day drive in Summer 2002) just two years after I met her online and a year after we’d met in North Dakota and I got taken aback, “She’s THE ONE!”

I was not — at least I don’t believe I was — a thief and murderer growing up, but when I was about fifteen it came across to me, “What’s the point of life?” It’s not that I didn’t believe in God and didn’t, um, go through the motions of church attendance and being an all-around “good kid” (maybe I was TOO good; I didn’t go on any dates through high school though I did ask, and I had it explained politely by one young lady that going out with me would have felt like going out with her dad).

Faith made me/makes me a risk-taker. And taking a risk makes me a better child of God, husband, father, employee, business builder, and creative artist.

Q) Your faith allows you to take risks? Can you give me an example of this?

A) Seriously?

Q) Yes, perhaps the very first risk you took?

A) Ok, ok, I’m going to go with one that was more something I had to do rather than what I wanted to do … when I was five years old and living in Illinois where I was born, I was diagnosed with a tumor. Thank God it was a benign one, or we would not be having this conversation, but the surgery I had for the tumor was in the pre-radiation therapy days (late ‘70s), the doctor had to go in and attach what’s called a shunt to the back of my head and drain the fluid from the tumor out of my head and into an incision by my stomach.

Prior to that, I remember doing well in Kindergarten (my reading was so good that I got to go to the first grade class at my elementary school for a while and read with them) but not outstanding, at least academically.

When I moved to Florida and started school there in First Grade, oh man, did I blaze a trail! Sometimes I acted smarter than I was, but I could just pick up concepts and words faster and place them in context better. I recall I heard the word “clone” on a TV show one weekend in fall of ’78 and the next week in class we had to name words rhyming with (or was it ending in) O-N-E.

I came out with the word “clone” and the teacher was saying it wasn’t a word. I imagine it wasn’t used greatly in the late ‘70s, but I politely argued it was, and explained myself to the teacher and the guidance counselor in the room, and … I don’t know, I got the impression then you could learn AND teach as well!

Made me want to be a teacher for a long time, and in a way I still am.

Q) You have a very inspirational story there David. So let’s focus on your writing. How does David Alvin like to write?

A) How do I like to write? Usually, as it occurs to me. The idea of writing for a living didn’t really occur to me until I started to read a Janet Scarborough novel in my high school days and stopped myself in the middle of chapter three and said, “I could WRITE a better book than that!”

So I started … and got to a chapter and a half of a story tentatively titled “Suicide Progeny” as well as a few others my freshman English teacher was really impressed with. Then I put ’em aside, and university happened. Life happened. Work happened, and then gone were the nineties.

Come the turn of the century, I’d moved up to be with Martha in North Dakota and came across the older stories I’d written and found myself with a bit of time to ask, “What happened next, then what happened next, then what happened next?” incorporating some characters I’d created in high school and the few chapters became twenty-eight and that became my first novel Progeny.

That led to an idea for the second novel “Legacy” (a sequel to Progeny published in 2006) and a sequel to THAT (“Victory,” to be released soon). Then I discovered National Novel Writing Month.

Q) I know you are quite prolific. How many books do you currently have in print?

A) As of now, I’ve published nine books via self-publication — five novels, three Bible studies, and one book-length poem.

Fiction:

Nonfiction:

Poetry:

Q) Tell me more about your novels. What are they about? Where are they set? Are they connected? Do they stand alone?

A) The novels are mostly set in a world (Progeny, Legacy, Litany) where the heroic age was the day before yesterday and certain villains and powers have taken advantage of that.

The Carbonari Players my first NaNoWriMo novel was a pure fantasy, a murder mystery set in the afterlife, if you can believe that.

The Book of Numbers is a novel set during the time of the Biblical book of Numbers with Moses, Aaron, and the like fighting to set the children of Israel up in the Promised Land — that may be the novel I’m most proud of, because I wanted to tell the story it’s often hard to get even if you study your Bible, to make my readers realize it’s pretty exciting.

Q) You mentioned your non-fiction work, The Burning Bush wants to be your Friend: A Study of Exodus. Can you tell me more about that one?

A) The Burning Bush is a chapter-by-chapter Bible study about the book of Exodus, when not only does Moses discover who he is — he’s the one who sees the burning bush — but the children of Israel are reminded who they are. Originally, this was a series of blogs I wrote in 2009 and I didn’t want some “random” accident to make them disappear.

burning bush

Q) Of all your works, which is your personal favourite?

A) Depends on what time of day you ask me! *laughs*

Seriously, The Book of Numbers is my favorite novel; Litany is my favorite story (I wrote that from a first person point of view); and The Chariot of Israel (a study of the Old Testament’s book of Two Kings) is my favorite Bible study — so far at least.

Among those three, The Book of Numbers because it’s a retelling of a great story a lot of people don’t remember.

I use the capline on the back cover:

“The story everybody knows. The story nobody knows.”

Q) Where do you find the inspiration to write?

A) I keep my eyes open, really — no lightning bolt from the skies needs to hit me! If I hear something incorrectly or an especial title or a direct quote from somebody hits me — well it does, and sometimes it’ll be a year or two before I expand on it in a story or within my novel (I’ve got journals going back more than twenty years). Additionally, I have all kinds of writings I’ve accumulated which drives Martha crazy sometimes, but I’ve gotten it more manageable.

Q) What are your personal thoughts on self-publishing?

A) I feel it’s the only way you will get noticed most times. Traditional publishing requires you to know somebody who knows somebody and/or be willing to outlay major cash, and maybe end up with a lot of copies of your own book to sell …

I used to think it was my goal to be a “list” author, but now it’s not.

Q) What is your goal now, then?

A) My goal is just to write — of course, I don’t mind ending up one day on the New York Times bestseller list or some such thing — and express myself, and maybe have a few people see something in my work that encourages them to write their own.

Q) Do you ever find people writing to you asking your advice on their own writing?

A) Sometimes … or I find myself giving advice when someone wants to write or checking over someone’s work. For someone just starting out, I just say write not to impress anybody or be fearful of offending somebody, but write because you’ve got something to say.

Q) For the editing and proofreading stages of making a book happen– do you use professionals?

A) No, I don’t right now … unless you consider me one. *laughs*

Q) What’s your opinion of bloggers who get paid to do interviews?

A) Provided you know the fee up front and you, the interviewee, are satisfied with the finished product, it certainly works!

Q) David, what is next for you? Another book? Another poem? Tell me what’s going on inside your head.

A) Another novel. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo a few years ago, but various issues kept me from getting in live. I’m also considering an upcoming movie likely to resurrect interest in the Land of Oz that might have been a blessing in disguise. It’s called “Refugees From the Emerald City. There’s also my third hero-based novel, “Victory” that I want to finish and bring out but something’s missing with it at the moment.

Q) How many books do you have sketched out in your mind?

A) Maybe five or six that come to mind right now … and childrens’ books … and another two Bible studies at least.

Q) If you could give any advice to a young writer, what would it be?

A) Start.

Don’t worry about being right, don’t worry about being accurate, don’t worry about being interesting — these are all things that can be worked on — just start.

Q) Thank you for this wonderful interview, David.

A) Thanks, Nick.

I hope you all enjoyed my words with David! Check out his entry on my Hot Books page here!

The Power Of Reiki! Deborah Lloyd Teaches Me About Reiki

Deborah Lloyd sent me a mail last week and asked for an interview. I thought perhaps she had written a novel or a biography. It turned out that she was an advocate for what we in England call “Alternate” medicine. I was hooked from that moment because I’ve always wondered about this kind of healthcare. I have interviewed many fascinating people– however, I have seldom learnt so much from an interview! Read on about the wonders of Reiki and how it can help you.

Deborah Lloyd

Q) Hi, Deborah! So tell me all about yourself. Who is Deborah Lloyd?

A) I am a person who is passionate about all kinds of healing – whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual. I believe healing can be a long process – just as many of our problems increase over time, so does the healing.

I am a licensed clinical social worker who works with a hospice agency, a Reiki Master – and now a published author!

Q) I heard that you are now an author! How did that come about?

A) I truly felt that part of my life purpose was to share my own healing story, to help others to find healing in their own lives. My story includes having been stricken with polio at the age of three, losing my father when I was eighteen years old, and having other challenges in my life. As I turned to alternative methods of healing, I started to realize that many of these challenges were really opportunities to learn life lessons. For example, when I began to think that I could get physically better (after 50 years of being basically the same), new opportunities seemed to land in my lap. But, I had to say “yes” to these opportunities and take more responsibility for my own improvements.

Q) You mentioned saying “yes” to opportunities for improvements. Could you give me an example of an improvement you personally went through– after saying “yes”?

A) Sure. I had been diagnosed with post-polio syndrome, and my main symptom was chronic fatigue – and it was quite severe. I saw a physician who prescribed a medication that helped a little. Then, a coworker told me about Reiki, thinking the healing energy could help. At first, I thought it sounded rather “woo-woo,” but decided what did I have to lose? My chronic fatigue lifted some during the first session, and more after the next few. Now, I never have chronic fatigue. If I had not accepted this opportunity, I do not know what my life would be like….by the way, this was in 2001. And, I still use Reiki on a daily basis.

Q) If you stopped using Reiki– would the symptoms return? Do you have to continuously use the alternate therapy to stay symptom free?

A) I doubt if the symptoms would return now, because it has been so many years since I’ve had chronic fatigue. I now use Reiki simply for several reasons – stress relief; and the possibility of more physical improvements in my legs. My legs have also become stronger and they are now always warm – before Reiki, they were often cold to the touch. Who knows what might still be in store for me? Also, Reiki helps me in my meditation practice – to get to that calm, centered place.

Q) Would you suggest alternate medicine over traditional medicine?

A) It really depends on what the problem is. If you broke your leg, I think you ought to go to the emergency room and have it set. But then, I believe the alternative methods could assist in a faster and smoother recovery. But, there are times when perhaps an alternative method may be the best solution to an issue. How many of our physical ailments are truly caused by an emotional issue, that could be ameliorated by energy healing? Quite a few, I believe.

Q) With American healthcare so expensive and health insurance because a less viable option financially, is alternate medicine going to become a viable substitute in your opinion?

A) Yes, and it is already starting to happen. There are a few insurance companies that are now covering acupuncture and massage therapy, for certain diagnoses. I think it will take more time, and more openness by the healthcare professionals. There is now some research demonstrating the effectiveness of some of the alternative methods. There are now a few studies showing that Reiki in recovery rooms decreases recovery time after surgery. Of course, we still have a long way to go….

Q) I mentioned the financial problems of healthcare earlier. Tell me, is alternate medicine expensive in comparison to traditional medicine?

A) Alternative medicine, in general, is much less expensive. No pills from the pharmaceutical companies, no high tech machinery, no corporate expenses. I believe the ideal will be a truly integrated system of using physicians when necessary, but using alternative methods as part of a treatment plan. How great would that be – for the alternative healers to be part of the team, rather than seen as an “outsider.” Perhaps, the first thing we need to do is get rid of the word “alternative!”

Q) Yes, it would make sense to integrate both forms of medicine and use both. Would you agree with that?

A) Yes, for sure. I do appreciate what western medicine did for me. I had surgeries as a little girl, and if I had not, my life would have included crutches and braces.

Q) I think surgeries are important, but the negative side effects from pills seem to outweigh their positive effects. Are there ever negative effects from taking, I won’t say “alternative”– let’s say, “natural medication”?

A) I like that term – natural medication – will have to start using that. I cannot think of any situation where there would be negative effects, unless you went to an acupuncturist, Reiki Master, or other practitioner who was not well trained. I’ve never had a negative effect with a Reiki client, or had any negative effects from Reiki myself.

Q) I think it’s a good term, too! I should copyright it! So what exactly is “Reiki”?

A) Reiki is an energy healing method, where the practitioner lays hands on the client. We recognize that the chakras are energy centers located in the physical body, along the spine. The hand positions correspond to the chakras. The healing energies can go to the physical, emotional or spiritual aspects of the chakras.

Q) So how often do you have people turn to you who don’t particularly believe it will work? How many shocked patients do you come across?

A) Good question! We actually have quite a few skeptics come to us – and that’s okay. Often, they make an appointment because someone else talked them into it, and they have the “what do I have to lose attitude” – just like I did. The first response is I usually get is how much calmer they feel, and how warm my hands got.

Q) So when did you start to write your book?

A) I started writing my book about five years ago and it took about three years to write. I was writing it as I was actually experiencing much of the healing. When it was complete, I started to send it to publishers and had a contract within six months. That was certainly an affirmation that it was supposed to be published!

Q) How are readers taking to it?

A) It is doing quite well. I have done a number of book signings, festivals and social media events. In general, people are becoming more open to the natural methods, and are curious.

Q) Other than book signings, festivals and such– how have you been promoting Believe and it is True: A Story of Healing and Life Lessons?

A) I do my Reiki work in a massage and healing arts center, that my husband owns. He has a website, advertises, uses social media, etc. I do Reiki trainings and presentations about Reiki, the chakras and similar topics. Sometimes, people learn about Reiki from the book. And, sometimes, they hear about the book from a presentation, or from a Reiki client.

Q) Can I ask? What made you decide to come for an interview with me?

A) I saw a reference about you and an interview with an author on Facebook. So, I googled your name and found your Novel Ideas website. When I read the interviews on your website, I was truly impressed! Your interviews were informative, interesting, and fun.

Q) Thank you! Well, I do my best! I’m so glad you enjoyed them! Tell me, where can people get your book?

A) The book is available on the Amazon’s, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million and Powells websites. Or, it can be ordered directly from my website, www.deblloydhealing.com – and you’d get an autographed copy. Or, it can be ordered through a local bookstore. It is available in paperback, or as an e-book.

deborahlloyd

Q) Wow! You’ve really got it well marketed! I hope it’s a fantastic success for you Deborah! How much is it, by the way?

A) The retail price is $22.95 retail; and on Amazon goes from about $16 to $18. I’m selling the autographed copies for $19.95. E-books are around $9.

Q) Thank you so much for your time Deborah! I hope this book will help a lot of people!

A) Yes, the REAL purpose of the book…. Thank you, Nick!

You can contact Deborah via her website.

Boyd Lemon Makes Sweet Lemonade– An Interview With Nick Wale

The truth is a state of mind. Boyd Lemon has been interviewed many times before and I could have just asked the same stale old questions about his life. I knew I had to do something different and I had to ask questions that would give you an insight into the man. So, who is Boyd Lemon? Well, there are several Boyd Lemons. The first is the nationally recognised lawyer who lived the excessive lifestyle of the seventies to its fullest. The second is the writer, the man who sits in a coffee shop, tapping away at a new manuscript, deep in thought. The third is a family man who adores his children and grandchildren. The fourth Boyd is one who paints and paints until his heart is content. The fifth is the world traveller who has been to lands far flung around the world. Boyd is as multi-faceted as any human being can be. I tried to ask the questions that would give me the answers to the questions his biography asked me.

 

As a writer, Boyd has written a biography called “Digging Deep” that tells a revealing tale about the failure of his three marriages. Additionally, he has written travel memoirs and short stories. He is currently working on a fiction book. The interview happened as follows:

Boyd L

Q) Hi, Boyd, I’m pleased to meet you. So why did you become an author? With such an illustrious career as a lawyer behind you, what drove you to become a writer?

A) I never felt fulfilled as a lawyer, despite forty years of practicing law–sad but true–so I knew I had to retire as soon as I was financially able. I really wanted to do something fulfilling, but I didn’t know what that could be. Then, when I was sixty-five, a publisher asked me to write a law book on the subject of malpractice by attorneys. I wrote that book, and it was published in 2006. I enjoyed the writing and publication process, but I knew I wanted to write something outside of legal topics. A writer friend of mine suggested I try writing short fiction. I told her that I didn’t think I had any creative ability, and she said, “Baloney, everyone has creative ability; it is just a matter of developing it.” So I took a stab at it and wrote a short story, and then another one and another one, and so on. Eventually, I was hooked on writing. I knew what I had to do in retirement.

Q) So you write to fulfil yourself and to live your dream. Do sales matter to you? Do you worry about the next royalty check?

A) I invested my savings and cut back on my lifestyle so that I had enough income, along with Social Security, to live the modest way that I wanted. I learned that I didn’t need a big house, a fancy car, etc. So I am in the envious position of not needing to earn a living from writing. I love that I can write whatever I want without regard to whether it will bring in a paycheck. The only reason I care at all about sales is that I do want people to read what I write and hopefully benefit from it in some way, so I have to sell books.
boyd

Q) Of all your books, the one that stood out to me loudest was “Digging Deep.” I thought it took great courage to analyse yourself in that way. What was the writing experience like? You must have learnt so much about yourself.

A) Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages is still the book that has meant the most to me. To try to understand my role in the destruction of my three marriages was excruciatingly painful emotionally. I learned a lot of things about myself that I did not particularly like. However, in the end it was tremendously healing. I had no idea how damaging it was to hold all that in under the surface. The process of writing the book brought me a peace that I had not known, and, I believe, has helped people understand themselves and their spouses or ex-spouses or partners better. I am not the only one that had the faults and human frailties that I uncovered about myself.

Q) How have readers taken to that book?

A) I have had a lot of varied reactions. Many people have told me that it helped them understand things about their own relationships that they were not aware of. Some people chastised me for disclosing private information about my ex-wives, especially acquaintances who knew one or more of my ex-wives. I received a lot of compliments for having the courage to open up and expose myself and my human weaknesses and issues. Virtually all people praised the quality and depth of my writing, except for one guy who, when I had a special promotion of the e-book for a limited time for 99 cents, wrote on Barnes and Noble that it wasn’t worth 99 cents. Oh well. Fortunately, he was in the small minority.

Q) You can’t please everyone in this world. So changing the tempo, tell me about your book “Eat, Walk, Write: An American Senior’s Year of Adventure in Paris and Tuscany.” You sound like a guy who loves culture and travel.

Eat-Walk-Write

A) Travel is my second passion, something I have known for many years, but was not able to pursue (except for business trips) until I retired. By 2010 I had been to Paris twice for short periods, and I loved the art, history and architecture there, as well as the café culture. People actually talk to each other in Paris–endlessly, it seems. So I decided to move to Paris, originally, I thought for two years. I ended up staying a year, and I lived in a working class neighborhood away from the tourist areas, although I visited the tourists areas. There were challenges, to say the least– the primary one being the language. I did not speak a word of French when I got there, and I found it a very difficult language for a seventy year-old to learn. Dealing with the French bureaucracy as a resident alien was also difficult, was finding an apartment, opening a bank account, etc. But all of that was superseded by the magic and glory that is Paris. it was the experience of a lifetime. I kept a journal daily, and when I got home to California, I decided to turn it into a book. I miss Paris.

Q) If you could live anywhere in the world, would you choose Paris?

A) That is a tough question. My answer is, no, but I can’t think of any single place that I would want to live indefinitely. That is probably why in the past six years I have lived in California, Boston, Paris and now rural southeast Georgia.

Q) Tell me about Boyd Lemon the man. What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies, interests, etc.

A) Well, we have covered some of it. I love to travel, and not just to far away places. I enjoy St. Augustine, Florida, which is about an hour and a half drive from my home. Next month I’ll spend a few days in Savannah, Georgia, about the same distance in the other direction. I love to explore new places, learn about the history of different areas of the this country and the world. For example, I learned that St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S., settled in 1540. I love good food and wine, and I emphasize that it doesn’t have to be expensive food. There are some places around here that serve amazing catfish and hush puppies. I am a fanatic baseball fan and always have been, a long suffering Dodger fan. Last summer my best friend and I took an eleven stadium baseball tour across the country starting in Anaheim, California and ending in Atlanta, Georgia. We saw eleven major league baseball games in sixteen days. I also love and am close to my four children and four grandchildren.

Q) Would be right to describe you as a family man, then?

A) I think so, despite the fact that I didn’t make a success of my marriages. I have always been close to my children, especially as they became teenagers and adults and had the freedom to make their own choices.

Q) So how do you write? What is the writing process for you? Do you write in silence? With music? Long periods of writing? How does Boyd Lemon write?

A) I write some almost every day, although it can vary from a half hour to six hours–generally around three, I would say. I find that I write best and most enjoyably if I vary the places where I write. Sometimes I write at my desk at home, but I also write in cafés, parks when the weather allows, libraries occasionally, planes and trains. I do not need silence, as long as something interesting to me is not going on, like a baseball game on TV. I do not play music while I write, because I like to be listening to music when it is playing, and I can’t write and listen at the same time. But I can write in a crowded, noisy café and just tune out the noise. The main thing is that I need to vary the place. I can’t just stay holed up at home for a long time, day after day. I have been known to get on a train, ride it for a few hours, stop and turn around and ride it back home.

Q) You strike me as a jazz fan, Boyd. Am I right?

A) Ha! Yes, jazz, folk and classical, even a little blue grass when I’m in the mood.

Q) I knew it! I grew up with bluegrass– Bill Monroe should be known better.

A) Oh, yes, absolutely. Around “these parts,” as they say here in Georgia, he is.

Q) The closest the English really get to country music is some of the Elvis stuff and Slim Whitman.

A) Yes, I am not very familiar with English music, except, of course, the pop from the ’60s and ’70’s and the later punk, etc. One of my favorite country singers is an unknown that I just happened to meet. She is from Denmark– Jessica Lynne.

Q) I will check her out! Anyway, I digress– you write fiction, too, am I right? Tell me about your fiction work.

A) So far the only fiction I have written is short, and I have published a book of ten of my short stories, and a small book of five. Several have been published in small literary magazines. My short stories tend to be about relationships, family and otherwise, and the conflicts that occur, as well as the challenges that life brings to us all. After a few short stories, I really wanted to write a novel, but felt that I wasn’t ready yet, so that is when I wrote Digging Deep. But now I am ready, and I just started on a novel two weeks ago. I’m having a lot of fun with it so far. I love writing the first draft; it is so thrilling to just let it flow, let my imagination run wild. The comes the editing process, which as it moves along gets more and more tedious. I hate proofreading, but it has to be done.

games-boyd-lemon-paperback-cover-art

Q) You do the whole process yourself? Most writers use proofreaders and editors. I’m surprised you go through the pain.

A) I use editors and proofreaders, too. I think it is a necessity to have a polished product, but I want it to be the absolute best I can make it before I submit it to somebody else, because I think that gives the work the best chance of being something worthwhile. Why should I submit something less than my best to somebody else?

Q) I agree, that’s a very responsible attitude. I must admit, Boyd, you have won a new fan here. So tell me, who are your favourite authors?

A) Oh, that is really a difficult one. There are so many. I will name a few, but understand I am leaving out many. Hemingway, McMurtry, Marilynne Robinson, Wally Lamb, Tolstoy, John Irving, Stephen King, James Baldwin, Austin, Vivian Gornick, to name a few. And I’m showing my provincialism. Most are Americans. I should have included the Brit, Franzen. He is wonderful.

Q) If you had to pick one of your books for a reader who didn’t know your work, which would it be?

A) Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages, unless a reader just has no interest in the subject matter of marriage and divorce. Then, Eat, Walk, Write. Of course, the Retirement book is directed toward a specific audience, people who are near or in retirement.

Q) Any last words you’d like to say before we wrap up?

A) Well, first thank you for an interesting interview. I really enjoyed it, and you asked more than just the standard questions. And I want to say to readers that my greatest reward as a writer is that the reader is learning something helpful to him or her from my books. That is what I have in mind when I am going through the writing process. Finally, for other writers: I know it is a struggle, and it is highly unlikely that you will become rich and famous, but keep at it; just grab that pen and notebook or computer, and sit down and write every chance that you get. It is a noble undertaking, in my opinion. We, as human beings, are the only species who can write.

Boyd Lemon

So what do I think of Mr Boyd Lemon? Well I think he is a genuine and decent man who has uncovered much truth about himself and exposed it to the world. He loves his new careers and his family and as Mr James Fant said to me the other day, “Love’s alright. Isn’t it?” Yes, I would say it is.

Links to Boyd Lemon:

Check out Boyds Amazon Author Page for more information regarding his work.

For excerpts, reviews, interviews and information about all of Boyds books see the official website here.

Boyd Lemon on Facebook

Boyd Lemon Facebook Fan Page

Follow Boyd onTwitter

Email Boyd directly at: Boyd (@) BoydLemon-Writer.com

Fant Says “No” To Fifty Shades of Filth! Nick Wale Interviews Author James Fant

James Fant is a writer I’ve been waiting anxiously to interview. His busy schedule means that he can only interview when he has time and I was willing to wait. For those of you already aware of his work, you will know what to expect. For those new to the work of James Fant I should explain some important things about him. He is a gentleman above all and his education shines through clearly. James is a sturdy, strong-willed man who loves his family and his wife. He doesn’t need anything other than the family unit to keep him strong. Calm and sophisticated, he’s a man who drives himself along with his own strength and creativity. I am proud to present a true professional to you today. Here is James Fant.

James Fant

Q) So tell me, James, how did you get into writing?

A) My imagination is exceptionally strong. I’ve always been able to see an invisible world and translate what I see onto paper. I’m not crazy, mind you, but I have always enjoyed making up stories. I wrote a story in the third grade about a witch and three pirates. The witch ended up eating the pirates because they tried to kill her. (Crazy, right?) But I received an award for that story in the third grade.

Q) So that one story you wrote in third grade stirred you to become an author?

A) No. That story was a result of the creative gift that God gave me. I started writing professionally because God kept giving me stories to write. I can be driving down the road and see, for an example, an old rusted van in the back yard of a house. I say to myself, “Why is that van there in the back yard? What’s that van’s story?” So, that’s what stirs me to write. I look at things and see the story inside of them.

Q) When did you publish your first book and what was it called?

A) I published my first work in November 2011. It was a short story called “The Mended Fence” and it chronicled (briefly) the adventure of a cheating husband who came home one night and saw his wife returning the favor. I really had fun writing that story because I fashioned it to be a sort of poetic short story. Like all of the works I write, there is a message or theme in that short story that will inspire readers.

Q) I really admire that you always leave a moral or theme in your work. Is that consciously done?

A) Yes. I feel that my work is both entertaining and inspirational. In “The Mended Fence” readers are taken on a wild ride that includes reckless driving, destroyed property, and a bank robbery. You see, the main character of the story was trying to buy a diamond for his wife because she caught him cheating on her. He was trying to fix a problem in the wrong way. The moral of that story is that sometimes you need help, someone greater than yourself, to fix problems that you create.

Q) I think your work sounds wonderful. You don’t care for this current trend of sex and profanity in others’ work, do you?

A) No. I choose not to use profanity and graphic sexual content. However, I do write steamy material. It is all in the way I write.

I have a novel available now on Amazon.uk called “An Ode for Orchids.” It is about four beautiful woman and their relationships with men and with each other. This is a romance novel, but this is a novel that a reader can read out loud to their pastor. The content is steamy, sensual, and exciting; yet, it is totally clean.

Q) I was going to ask about “Ode” next. You beat me to it! How is the public receiving it?

A) Very well. I have glowing reviews of the work. Several readers have said that it made them laugh out loud as well as cry. Readers also say that they can identify with certain characters. I really love when readers pull something out of the book that I had not consciously thought of. I’m reaching readers and enhancing their life through the power of inspirational fiction and I absolutely love that about writing.

The Secret Branch

Q) Where do you get the inspiration to write your books?

A) Divine inspiration. Take “An Ode for Orchids,” for example. I started writing the story in 2006 and nearly shelved the idea after I started graduate school, but the story would not go away. No matter how busy I was with school work, with church, or family life, the story would come back to me. It needed to be told. I’m sure readers will be able to identify with the story and say, “Yes. I went through something similar.” I believe God inspired me to write the story to be both entertaining and edifying.

The idea came from my appreciation of the enduring strength and tenacity of all of the women in my life. My hardworking mother, my loving grandmother, my strong sisters (related and non-related), no-nonsense aunties, and last but definitely not least, my beautiful wife. A lot of women are holding it down on their own for one reason or another. They endure many hardships and have become tougher for it. However, they still have the power to be nurturing and sweet. So, I believe that God gave me this story to edify not only women, but also the men that want them and must have them in their lives.

I have to give credit to God for the ideas that He gives me because that keeps me going. He’s the Master Communicator and everything starts with His Words. So, I’m a big student of communication and the art of wordplay. An author can project a certain theme and really draw the reader in just by choosing the right words and putting them in the right place at the right time. It’s really a beautiful thing.

Also, as a storyteller, one has the luxury of creating utter chaos for the reader’s enjoyment. I recently read “One Blood” by Qwantu Amaru and the chaos was in full swing. Powerful storms, heated battles, tragedy and triumph. All without the need of a stunt double. Knowing that I have the opportunity to write literature that is both endearing and exciting motivates me to want to write forever.

Q) How do you go about writing your work? Do you need silence or do you listen to music? How does James Fant write?

A) James Fant writes to the rhythmic sounds of Robert Glasper, a jazz pianist with such albums as “Mood,” “In My Element,” and “The Experiment.” The list goes on. But I’ll put in my headphones and let the syncopated rhythms pump as I punch the QWERTY.

My writing process is very simple. The story starts off as divinely inspired idea. Then I outline the entire story, trying to be as brief with the outline as I can be. Then I just write. And, I mean, I don’t sit at my laptop and think about what I’m going to write. I just write.

One of my favorite movies is “Finding Forester,” with Sean Connery and Rob Brown. In one scene, William Forrester (Connery) and Jamal Wallace (Brown) were sitting at their typewriters. Forrester starts typing away while Wallace just sits there. He tells Forrester that he’s thinking, but Forrester replied that the first draft is written with the heart. The second draft is written with the head.

When I’m in writing mode, I really don’t think about what I’m writing at all. I have the story in my head and I just let my subconscious go to work. What I really love to do, especially if I don’t have to get up early the next morning, is to write late at night. I like to see what I come up with in the haze of sleepiness. Sometimes when I get up in the morning, I’m pleasantly surprised by what I wrote. There are some words, phrases, plot twists, and endings that my mind would definitely tell me to avoid if I’m writing earlier in the evening. After midnight, I write with my heart primarily and include every intimate detail of my experiences and thoughts. I usually come up with something pretty cool. Or, I end up writing something really crazy, get a real good kick out of it, and file it away in a folder named DO NOT USE.

Q) It sounds like a wonderful process. I write in a similar way and I always love writing to jazz. I think you have a lovely style. So what sets your books apart from others in the genre?

A) One major distinction is that there is no profanity or lewd sexual scenes in my books; however, the stories are still extremely hot and steamy. There’s a high level of passion and conflict within my stories. There may be arguments and fights. There may even be a great deal of sexual tension. But there is no profanity or graphic love scenes. Now that I’ve given that disclaimer, I love including “OMG” moments in my books, places that will make the reader say, “Wow. I cannot believe the character did that.” It’s all in the way I use words and I actually have a lot of fun crafting hot, steamy, non-raunchy books.

I want to write stories that will encourage readers to analyze and repair their personal relationships. That’s what I love about writing fiction. You can create this wonderful and exciting story with lots of twists and turns, but the story can also have meaningful characters and situations that readers can identify with and learn from. Another distinction, like my upcoming novel titled “14-Pages,” is that I may write love stories that involve married couples. Many romance novels are about people actually hooking up and eventually getting married, but I believe that love stories don’t end when the wedding ring goes on.

Q) As an author, what are the keys to success that lead to your book getting out to the public?

A) Enlisting the help of others is a major key. You don’t know everything, and you can’t be good at everything. As an indie author, I had to realize that it doesn’t matter that I run a small publishing company and that I have to wear many hats. I still need to surround myself with talented people.

Education is another key. As a graduate student I learned that the true goal of any Masters or Doctorate program is to teach the student how to learn, how to educate himself. To be successful as an author, publisher, or anything for that matter, you can’t be scared to learn new things. You actually have to embrace learning.

Q) I agree. So what is your publishing company called? Are you taking manuscripts right now? If so, what genre? How can people approach you with their work?

A) I created my publishing company REAL FANTASY PUBLISHING to release only my work at present. That doesn’t mean that I will never publish other authors. That is actually phase five of my long-term plan. But presently, I am only publishing books by James Fant and I’m having so much fun doing so.

Readers, however, can check out my website www.jamesfantbooks.com for information on my work.

Q) Can readers of your books contact you? How about publishers?

A) Readers and publishers can contact me at the following places.

Email
jamesfant (@) yahoo.com

Facebook

James Fant Facebook Page
Facebook Author Page

Twitter

Other social media sites:
Blog
Book Blogs

Q) So what is next for you? Another book? A new idea?

A) What’s next for me? My novel “14-Pages” will be released soon. “14-Pages” is about a newlywed couple who argue so much that they discuss divorce, but a marriage expert tells them that their issue is that they signed a marriage license and not a marriage contract– a document that will govern how they treat each other.

So the couple draft a 14-page contract with step-by-step marriage instructions. It even includes crazy clauses like the Tip Out Clause, The Quota, and Chill Therapy. Everyone thinks the contract is crazy and they may be right. But for Marco and Venice, the newlywed couple, happily ever after needs all the help that it can get. So here’s the question– is a 14-page marriage contract enough to save a failing marriage? Only time will tell. (Or in actuality, only I will tell since I’m the author of the story!)

Q) I will be getting a copy, James. I have really enjoyed this interview. So is there anything you would like to add? Any last words, so to speak?

A) I’d like to leave this little bit of encouragement to the readers of this interview. Please, whatever you do, continue to dream. No matter how busy you get with the cares of life, dream and I mean dream drastically. As children we fantasized about what we will be. We even tell people proudly about our dreams without an ounce of trepidation. Any and everything was possible when we were children. Then came adulthood and what many term as the real world. And many times we stop fantasizing because we’ve gotten a healthy dose of reality. But here is the real reality. All things are possible if you believe. Do you believe that?

Q) I do, James. I have dreamed my whole life and tried to make them come true. I finally met the girl of my dreams and everything fell into place. Your words really hit home with me there.

A) Now that’s alright with me. Love’s alright, isn’t it?
An Ode For Orchids

Check out “An Ode For Orchids” right now for a great read! Then check out “The Secret Branch“!

To Pay or Not to Pay– That is the Question.

Have you ever been approached by a blogger who asked you, as an author, to pay for an interview?

Did you say no?

Why did you say no?

Because you don’t pay for interviews?

Bloggers should work for free?

Why?

Nick Wale wonders why bloggers are asked to work for free.

“I don’t pay for interviews!” is a phrase some people throw around. This is a common answer whenever the words “An interview will cost…” are said. I have often wondered why people don’t want pay for interviews. Surely, a blogger is spending their time and effort to help someone make money. Why should the blogger not be reimbursed for their time and effort?

Why is there a consensus that bloggers should work for free? Who came up with that idea? Do all writers give their books away? Do freelance journalists work for free? Do builders? Architects? No, they expect fair compensation, and I don’t believe that any blogger charging a fair fee for a promotional interview should be penalised for it.

Writing blog articles is the easiest bit of the whole thing. However, finding readers, promoting authors and their books, increasing name recognition, furthering someone’s work– that is PR and PR is a paid-for commodity.

However, I should be clear on one thing– free interviews can also be a good thing. Bloggers who want to gain clients should not just start a blog and suddenly expect $50 per interview. No. I believe that a base has to be built and free interviews do just that. If you are lucky enough to work for some great people then you build up your credibility.

I also believe that trading interviews, sharing articles and hosting guest bloggers are fantastic ideas. There’s something special about a guest article placed on your blog. I have enjoyed a few of these. Like-for-like trading is the cornerstone of civilisation.

I digress, however. My point is when you have a following and you are giving people your time and effort– I ask this– is it unreasonable to charge? Most bloggers work to the advantage of the author. Why shouldn’t they ask for a price? Some writers in the main believe that it is unreasonable to pay; but if they want the PR– the time and effort a blogger spends– doesn’t it make sense to pay?

I do not believe $100 per interview is a price anyone can ask. I do believe $20-30 is reasonable. If the blogger has a good back catalogue of interviews; if the blogger has a publicity programme; and if the blogger works hard.

I always try to find the most interesting people for my blog. That is one of my stipulations. I want interesting content and, yes, I am building up a business. I am happy to spend time and effort to promote an author I believe in. If an author believes in promotion, believes in the value of blogger’s work, is a blogger not worth paying?

I was once told, “You’re not worth paying for because your blog ranking isn’t high enough.” Then why did you want an interview on my blog for free instead? Why did you approach me? If you don’t feel my blog has enough visibility, why waste both our time?

The answer is simple. I was good enough to be used; good enough to help; but not good enough to get paid for my help. That, my friends, is where I said no and built up a collection of references that showed I could do what I promised and I was credible. I no longer hear those words. I just say what I need and people smile and say, “Yes, please.”

The advantages of paying for an interview are numerous. The blogger will want to make your interview his best so far, his biggest interview. In an effort to accomplish this aim, the blogger will actively work to promote you! A sensibly priced interview will allow a blogger to continue working, build up a business and make money to support him or herself. In this recession, there are so many people out of work. Let’s pay for interviews so we can keep bloggers in employment. Let’s get people business and create a fair priced blogging promotion system so people can work for you. A blogger who gets paid will work harder for you as an author, and aren’t things worth having worth paying for?

However, for all those who want something for nothing, I am going to try their technique. The next time I go shopping, I am going to say, “Your food isn’t worth paying for,” and I’m going to ask if I can have it for free.

The answer of course will be an outraged no! I am finding that is the answer many bloggers are now finding themselves saying to authors who don’t want to pay for a valuable service. I would be happy to pay for a job well done. Wouldn’t you?

“Lisa Doolittle” goes from Stripper to Writer- An Interview with Eve Littlepage

A few days ago I was looking for an interview that really interested me. I had just finished an great interview with Tom Blubaugh and needed something special to continue with. An open call on several Facebook pages brought a huge amount of material. I found myself reading some very interesting interviews with some very interesting people– then I received an email from Eve. I knew this one had to have precedence over all others. Thank you, Eve!

Eve Littlepage hamming it up as Lisa Doolittle c. 1985

Q) Nice to meet you, Eve. So tell me, what’s your latest work?

A) CELESTIAL BODIES IN ORBIT- Memoirs of the Unknown Stripper, about the ten years I worked as striptease dancer ‘Lisa Doolittle.’ I worked in that business in the mid-70s and mid-80s in the suburbs of Boston, Mass.

Q) How are the public taking to your book? I hope they are as interested as I am– the book is a “killer”.

A) I am just launching it to ‘the public,’ so I can’t really say. I had about a dozen people read my manuscript before I went over it a few times with an editor. The responses have been wonderful! Of course, they are friends, or at least acquaintances, but I would hope they weren’t giving false praise and then sending me out into the world to fall flat on my face. One of the best compliments came from my editor. One her third pass through, she said she was still enjoying it, even though she knew the story by heart at that point!

Q) Tell me about your book? What drove you to write a book about your past? You have such an interesting story to tell!

A) It’s hard for me to sum it up in a line or two, because there are many layers to it. It’s life, which doesn’t always follow the same neatly laid-out plot that you find in fiction. There is a definite story arc that develops as I examine the chain of events that lead me into the business. Thinking it a temporary measure to escape an abusive relationship, I ended up getting stuck in it for ten years. It wasn’t all bad. I actually had a love/hate relationship with stripping. I took a rather unconventional approach to exit the business, following my instincts instead of any ‘How to Forge a New Career’ manuals.

The book weaves memories of my days and nights in the clubs with events in my personal life, and illustrates how they played off of each other. So, like life, it has romance, lust, sex, violence, humor, and a few colorful expletives. Also, though metaphysics is not the main focus, my story is sprinkled with references to The I Ching, spiritual epiphanies, ghostly visitations, and my Wiccan/Pagan path.

One thing I took a big chance on was my method of telling the story. I created an author, named Stella Mars, who interviews me to help me write the book. So Stella, her house, parlor, and tape recorder are fictive elements, but the story I am telling her is the true story of the events that happened, and my reflections on them. So far, everyone who has read it says the format works. Some will like it and others may not, but it’s what I needed to do to get the story out.

Q) How do you write? Do you like to listen to music? Do you like silence?

A) I need quiet. Maybe some new-agey instrumental stuff would be okay, but if there are lyrics, I will get distracted. I’ve always been lured by the words, the poetry, in music. I like to have a good block of time, two to three hours, where I know I won’t be interrupted. The first time I sat down to write this book, I stopped after I thought twenty minutes had passed. I was shocked to find it was three hours! That’s when I knew I loved writing. I was in a zone. It’s not always like that, as you other ‘zoners’ know! 

Q) What drives you as a writer?

A) I am at my best when I can be creative. It has manifested many ways in my life, most recently through the medium of writing. I have been writing for years, but just journal entries, a poem here and there, and for business. Stephen King says never to write for the money. Not ever. (Yeah, I know, easy for him.) The need for an income stream, other than my husband’s recession-pelted business and my working-poor level jobs, was my initial boot-in-the-butt. Who knows if this book will be the magic that puts me back in the black, but at least it gives me Hope. And I love Hope. Yet, I get Mr. King’s point. If it felt as laborious and lung-choking as coal mining, I may as well get a pick-axe and start tunneling—at least it would pay right away.

Q) What do you think makes a good book?

A) One that takes me into a different world, and gives me something to reflect on in the process. It needs to have a good balance between description and action–too much or too little of either will bore me. I love when an author can use language in clever ways, turn a phrase that surprises and delights me, but doesn’t get so carried away with style that it takes me out of the story. 

Q) Who is your favourite author?

A) “Besides me?” (she replied with a wry grin). But seriously, what a hard question to answer! So many to choose from. I will name Marion Zimmer Bradley, for her wonderful, magical treatment of the Arthurian Legend. It was brilliant to tell it from the eyes of the women of Camelot, and show them as wielding power and moving events from ‘behind the scenes’. She also knows her stuff about the Old Religion, and thus adds a touch of authenticity when she writes about Magick that I find lacking in the typical portrayals. The Mists of Avalon was one of those rare books that had me aching to find more reading time.

Q) Where can people buy your work? 

A) On Amazon right now, more venues to come. The e-Book is already there. One of the things on today’s ‘to do’ list was to give the print copy one more scan before we put it up for sale. So, within a couple of days it will join the e-Book: 

CELESTIAL BODIES IN ORBIT: Memoirs of the Unknown Stripper (Paperback)

Q) If you could choose to have written one book–which would it have been?

A) Harry Potter. A far cry from Celestial Bodies in Orbit, but it would have been nice to write something the kiddies could read. Not to mention the success it has had. No, we won’t mention that.

Here’s a link to my blog: I have a page for interviews and will add this with a link to your site too!

Thank you for taking the time to interview me, Nick. I wish you great success in your writing career!

No, thank you, Eve! It has been fantastic to work with you and hear about your book. I will certainly be picking a copy up! I think Eve deserves every credit for writing a book that deals with something that so many shy away from. All those girls working in joints and clubs deserve credit. It’s a hard life and I am glad someone has written something positive about it.

You can contact Eve at the following links: eve@evelittlepage.com www.evelittlepage.com

Don’t forget to go out and buy her book right here:  CELESTIAL BODIES IN ORBIT: Memoirs of the Unknown Stripper (UK) CELESTIAL BODIES IN ORBIT: Memoirs of the Unknown Stripper (USA)

Meet Terry Irving…

Meet Terry Irving

Terry Irving is one of those guys you can meet and instantly be drawn into. He has done it all and if he hasn’t done it then he’s read about it– from bartender to Emmy Award winning news producer. Terry gave me one of his rare interviews this week. He was happy to oblige and I was happy to listen. Has there ever been anyone more interesting to profile? Perhaps Elvis or Ronald Reagan come to mind? Read on as Terry reveals his dealings with both. Meet Terry Irving!

Q) It’s a pleasure to meet you, Terry. Let me ask you something personal before we begin. You didn’t come across Bobby Darin on your journalistic travels, did you?

A) He died in 1973. I did interview Ricky Nelson about Elvis Presley.

Q) Really? What was he like?

A) Dumb as a rock.

Q) No way! I like Ricky.

A) I was doing a story on the seventh anniversary of Elvis’ death and all the hagiography was just beginning. He had a fantastic manager that had all the stories about Colonel Tom down. Ricky was a loss. Also met Colonel Tom Parker at Elvis’ birthplace and Sam Philips in the the original Sun Studios down in Memphis.

Q) Colonel Tom was a genius in my opinion. I’m a huge Elvis fan and I don’t think Elvis would have been as big without Tom Parker.

A) He might have been bigger. Tom (Parker) kept him from growing. Do you know that he didn’t start advertising until Elvis’ shows were completely sold out? He created a frenzy.

Q) Did you know that it was rumoured in the mid 70’s that he was going to sell Elvis to Gordon Mills? That would have been interesting. I’m not sure anyone could have been bigger in England– Elvis was it.

A) Elvis was “it” everywhere. That was the story. Graceland was becoming a sacred pilgrimage location like Lourdes. A Secular Saint. When I was at the birthplace in Tupelo, it was swamped with Elvis lookalikes from Liverpool. Very strange

Q) I can imagine– are you an Elvis fan?

A) Not really. He was my babysitter’s idol.

Q) What’s your thing music-wise? Byrds? Beatles? Cream?

A) My friends who were musicians were all crazy about ummm…Purple Haze.. I liked the Doors- saw them from the 7th row.

Q) Jimi Hendrix?

A) That’s him. I also really liked the Grateful Dead.

Q) American Beauty is a fine album.

A) My favorite. We got married to “Touch of Grey,” however.

Q) Hendrix once played guitar for Little Richard and Engelbert Humperdinck. Did you know that?

A) Yup. He was a session man for years. You know, I’m just realizing, most of the artists I like died early.

Q) So, let me ask you– why did you choose a life in media?

A) I graduated from college and was given the gift of complete freedom. I had been cut off by my parents, didn’t owe much money to the college and had everything I wanted (a motorcycle, a girlfriend and a cat). We were sitting around the week before graduation (1973) and the plan was to stay around college for a while. I was tending bar and my girlfriend was teaching French. Suddenly, I realized that if we stayed we would become “alumni ghosts” – the people who hang around the parties and play basketball on the college courts. I couldn’t stand that possibility so we thought for about thirty seconds about where we should go. My brother had moved to Washington, DC and we figured that would be ok for a couple of months, anyway.

Never have left Washington. I keep marrying women who refuse to leave. I could name thirty cities I’d rather live in.

At first, I bartended all over DC – having lied my way into my first job by saying I knew what I was doing. Of course, after three weeks on a lunch shift “service bar” with ten demanding waitresses, I could make four drinks at once.

I got a letter from my Uncle Andy – he needed help driving a school bus/camper and a Jeep Wagonneer up to Alaska from Indiana so I went and did that – a thousand miles of incredibly beautiful gravel road.

When I got back, I was thinking of becoming an English teacher. One of my brother’s roommates was a courier for Metropolitan Motorcycles and he told me I could get paid for riding THEIR BMWs. I applied.

I was the worst courier ever. I didn’t know Washington at all and wasn’t willing to drive at the level of sheer craziness of the other guys (most of whom were injured or killed eventually). So on the third day, I got called by the dispatcher and told to go over to ABC News.

ABC News paid by the hour so I wouldn’t keep losing money for the courier company. Anyway, I was the only rider they had without an arrest record. My predecessor had been hit with an unlicensed .45 during a nightshift job at a 7-11. I’ve always thought it was rational to have a gun overnight at one of those places but the boss disagreed.

So there I was. In and out of the White House every day, up on Capitol Hill, chasing various Watergate figures, bringing back the film of Spiro Agnew pleading “nolo contendere” to taking bribes.

One day, I was walking into the bureau carrying an enormous 1200 foot (film) magazine on my shoulder and felt the pulse of the place – the editors, the writers, the whole aspect of a team working towards a common goal. It just seemed like something I could enjoy for a while.

Turned out to be 40 years.

Q) I must ask- are you a Democrat or Republican?

A) Democrat or Republican? I have noticed that journalists are instantly affected when they take sides. They start to subconsciously root for “their guy”. I’ve always thought that the best thing about being a journalist was the right to hate all sides. All sides being just about equal idiots.

So, I’m registered Independent and never tell IF I’ve voted much less who I voted for.

Q) Very wise– that is your right. So, you were right in the middle of Watergate. What is your defining memory of that story?

A) The Saturday Night Massacre. That was when Nixon freaked out because the Special Prosecutor was subpoenaing the tapes and had him fired (even though the whole point of a Special Prosecutor is that they can’t be fired). I was sitting in the upstairs hall at the SP’s office and watching staffers racing around gathering up boxes of documents and notes – they were afraid that the FBI would take them and “lose” them. The Attorney General and his assistant quit rather than fire the SP and it took the number 3 (the incredibly partisan Robert Bork) to actually fire the Special Prosecutor.

Anyway, there was a real feeling of Things Falling Apart. The burglary at the Watergate was more fun for the press than something really serious, but as the pressure had built – even I felt that the whole government could come crashing down.

Of course, to the 21-year old courier, it was all just a lot of fun. I wasn’t supposed to be up there and I was damned if I was going to leave and not be able to get back in.

It wasn’t that I didn’t pay attention to the importance and the History and all that – after all, in my previous bartending jobs, I’d always put the Watergate Hearings on to give the daytime barflies something to argue about.

I was just much more involved with things like hitting the curve right before one of the Burglars homes without going over the edge or finding gas when the lines were blocks long or trying not to kill myself in the snow or slide down into the Metro.

The funny thing is that I never thought Nixon was as much of a criminal as he actually was. No one did. You’d have to be on the radical fringe to believe that he was really bending the entire government to his political and personal ends, but he really was. That was the most interesting thing about the research for Courier. A few of the authors have kept up with all the information that came out in the next thirty years. The Sirica Trials, various tell-all books, confessions, etc. The end result is that Nixon was a complete crook. Crass, corrupt and arrogant. Every one of his first three Attorney Generals committed a felony during their first day in the office. At the time, I just thought he was a creepy guy and was mostly worried about being sent to Vietnam. Last One to Die for a Mistake.

Q) How close were you to being conscripted?

A) Drafted you mean?

Q) Drafted sorry– conscripted is the English term.

A) In reality , I wasn’t close at all. Only one guy from my high school class went directly into the Army after college and he told me recently that you would have had to break regulations to even get sent to Vietnam by that point. The last combat troops were pulled out of Vietnam in February of 1973, but Americans had stopped fighting about a year before. The really bad years were ’65 through ’70.

In retrospect, the draft was insanely unfair. Anyone who could go to college (or get into the National Guard like George W. Bush or on Mormon mission like Mitt Romney) didn’t get drafted. It really was a military made up of poor, minority kids.

Also, I’ve never bought the Post-Vietnam “Americans won’t stand for body bags” theory. Americans can sacrifice for a war – Vietnam was just an incredibly STUPID war and I knew perfectly well that if I threw away my life there, it would be for absolutely nothing.

Q) Rather similar to conscription in the UK. The rich using the poor? Is that a statement that holds truth?

A) I’ve covered the military many times since. It’s no longer true. Today’s military is almost exactly a reflection of the broader society in terms of whites, blacks, Hispanics, whatever and in terms or income and education. Vietnam was a colossal mistake perpetrated by the civilian leaders (the Best and Brightest) and the military suffered for it.

Now, there is a whole other – and very interesting – story about what’s going to happen to today’s troops when they come home. The tempo of combat is FAR, FAR faster than in Vietnam or WWII, the danger greater and the physical and mental damage catastrophic.

Q) Moving on from Vietnam– did you cover the first Iraq conflict?

A) Iraq? Only from a distance. I’d burned out a few years before and was working the control room in Washington. I broadcast the final surrender and watched everything, but I wasn’t there.

My only experience in a war zone came in Beirut during ’82 and ’83 when the various Lebanese factions were betraying each other and the Marines were in the middle.

During the second Iraq war, I was writing and producing a show called This Week at War. For various reasons I was left alone to do what I wanted, and turned it into a really great deep discussion of Iraq, the entire region in turmoil and some great in-depth discussions rather than the canned stuff you usually hear. It was, of course, cancelled in six months, but I got to do the show I really wanted to do for six months. That happens less than you think.

Q) Beirut was during the Reagan Presidency. Can you give a rundown of events for the readers? What actually happened?

Yes, I can. Beirut was a well-intentioned effort by George Shultz, Reagan’s Secretary of State, to try and cool off the Middle East – which eventually led to James Baker’s historic bringing the sides together. It was sabotaged by Cap Weinberger at Defense who didn’t want his nice clean soldiers dirtied up, and by Security Advisor Bud MacFarland who was in Gemayal’s presidential palace one day when they got shelled – which happened almost every day – and freaked out and ordered the US and French troops to fire on the civil war going on in the mountains. The Italians refused. The French and American troops were hit with car bombs – the Italians lost one soldier (accident) even though they were BASED IN THE Shabra and Shatilla refugee camps – the scene of the allegedly Israeli-inspired massacre of old men, women and children only a year before.

Reagan really didn’t have a foreign policy except to spend so much on weapons that the Soviets would go broke trying to catch up. That worked.

Q) Reagan is often cited as the man who destroyed American industry in cities like Allentown and Detroit. Did you cover the decline of American industry?

A) I did. Aliquippa would be a better example. That’s the river valley that flows down near Pittsburgh and where the really big steel mills were. I was there a couple of times. I really think the “Rust Belt” turnover of American industry had more to do with the rise of the metal cargo container. That enabled factories anywhere in the globe to produce goods for any market in the globe. Once that happened, grunt labor mills in rich countries were doomed.

Q) How about Margaret Thatcher who is held responsible for the decline of British industry and a close friend of President Reagan. Did you meet her?

A) Maggie?

Q) Indeed, the most split opinion poll British Prime Minister of the modern age.

A) No, I never met her. I was supposed to be assigned to the London Bureau twice (and the Paris Bureau once) but internal politics wiped out both those chances. I covered the Royal Wedding – Charles and Diana. My mom asked me to take pictures of “my view of the Wedding” so I sent her pictures of an edit suite built into a hotel room. We almost burned down the hotel, though. We had to air condition the equipment and it started the wires smoking under the floor. The British manager was standing in the hall about to shut off the power and the Senior Producer for the wedding coverage was screaming in his face. He didn’t shut off the power.

I actually thought that Thatcher might have been a bit of … umm … medicine after the extremes of the old Labour party.

Q) The Labour party under leaders like Clement Atlee and Harold Wilson was considered by many to have been extremely effective in providing for the UK- free healthcare, higher wages, etc.

A) Having been both a union shop steward and a management scab, I think companies and countries work best when there is a balance between powers. Neither side works well when they get everything they want. TV used to be heavily unionized. I still flinch when I find myself about to touch a piece of gear. It was a death offense to do that in the old days. However, I’ve also worked freelance at ABC in recent years and found myself looking for a union engineer so I could actually get things done. Management has 21-year old interns doing all the work for free.

Q) So moving back to your book– what drove you to pen a novel?

A) Hunger drove me to “pen a novel”.

Q) Next month’s mortgage comes around like a punch from Ali, doesn’t it?

A) I left CNN in 2010 and there was this little recession going on – there wasn’t a damn job or even a short-time freelance gig in NY or Washington. So, since I had time on my hands, I decided it was time to “put up or shut up” and see if I could write the novel that had been sitting in my head for years. After cranking out news copy for some of the best in the business for lo, these many years, I found that I was quite fast. Not good, mind you, but at least fast. I could slam out 2000 words a day and then fix it up on the second pass. It didn’t do a damn thing for my severe lack of money, of course. I thought I’d be like Lee Child who sold his first Reacher novel to a publisher before he’d even written the second half

That’s not exactly what happened. Three months to write Courier. Six months to find an agent and two years and counting to find a publisher.

It’s fun but I’m really not sure that it’s a way to make a living.

Q) Many readers will be shocked to hear that an Emmy award doesn’t open doors. Why do you think you’ve had such a hard time progressing?

A) You know, that’s always been a pet peeve of mine. How do some people always get introduced as “Emmy-Award-Winning” producer and I can’t seem to convince anyone that I’ve done anything at all? I complained about it at MSNBC when I was Executive Producer of the Morning Show and my crew made me a special Emmy Award Winning credit – complete with exploding fireworks and rainbow colors.

To answer your question, seriously, I don’t know but it always seems as if that next award or the next cool title (Vice-President, Director of Content) will be the one that guarantees a cushy future forever. It just never does. Yet,there are people who get fired over and over again and still get these great jobs. Useless to complain about it.

Oh yeah, one more thing about television. It’s FUN. I used to take all the interns out into the newsroom and say, “Look around, everyone here wanted to come in to work today.” That’s not something that’s true in all that many fields.

On the other hand, if I had listened to that little voice inside me and gone to law school or into banking when I’d had my fun on a bike, I’d be able to retire today instead of trying to work out a way to survive. So that’s my advice to all the kids out there – forget about doing the cool things like writing or making movies or television or running around the world covering the news. Law School, MBAs and private equity funds is the way to go. You would be stunned if you knew how many people my age are just scraping by.

Q) Oh I know– my father in law to be was an architect– recession wiped him out and he’s now blind and broke. It’s a bitch.

A) I had one of my high school classmates say they couldn’t go to a reunion because they were embarrassed about being broke. I said, the whole damn class is broke, you’ll fit right in.

Q) Well Terry this has been a fascinating interview and I will leave you to get to back to your work. Thank you for your time!

A) Oh, it so nice to run into someone who hasn’t heard all my stories before. Thanks, Nick.

With that last answer Terry was back to work and I was left with one helluva interview to edit and play with. The man is much more than a journalist. He is a walking encyclopaedia of recent history. From Watergate to Beirut to Elvis Presley. Terry Irving was there and by reading this interview- you were too!

Courier Image

Catch Terry’s upcoming book Courier very soon! It’s so hot it’ll burn your hands red raw!

Part two coming soon!

Did you miss my article about the new Terry Irving novel “Courier”?

Courier Delivers its Payload in Full

Check it out now!

 

 

 

Finding Inspiration and the Drive to Succeed by Vonnie Winslow Crist

I asked published author Vonnie Winslow Crist to write an article for my blog. I wanted all you authors who are working to build a dream to read her words. Here they are and I think her sentiment is just marvelous!

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VonnieFinding inspiration to write or paint is the easy part of being an author/illustrator. From the sound of rain to the appearance of evening’s first star to the scent of crushed pine needles under foot, our world is filled with places, people, and life experiences that inspire. The trick is to pay attention, then take the time and jot down (or sketch) your ideas while they’re still vivid.

If you’re looking for realistic dialogue, eavesdrop! Sit in a shopping mall, cafe, or coffee shop with a pad of paper and take notes. And while you’re there, people-watch. But don’t just write down the a physical description of some of the passersby, speculate on where they’ve come from, where they’re headed, and who will be meeting them there. Watch children playing, then write about a childhood experience. Sit in a garden or wooded lot and describe the location using all of your senses. Then, imagine the lives of the animals that live there. Look into the night sky and write about someone else who’s looking at those same stars. The chances for inspiration are endless.

And since I think the world is bursting with inspiration, I don’t believe in writer’s block! A writer can always write. Perhaps the next chapter in a novel won’t appear when you’d like it to. Instead of sitting before a computer screen pulling out your hair – look through your research and write an article, or read a book and write a review, or pull a dusty short story from the back of a drawer and revise it, or… Well, you get the idea. And before long, the ideas needed to pull together that next chapter will pop into your mind.

I think writers and artists are often driven by a desire to communicate. They tell a story through words or paint, and all they need is someone on the other end of the conversation to read their books or view their artwork. The creative process for most authors (and artists) is a lonely one. Hours and hours are spent hunched over a computer keyboard or drawing pad. When they eventually publish their writing or show their art, they’re really sending a message out into the darkness in the hopes that some one will look or listen and say, “I understand. I’ve felt that, too. I get your story. Tell me more.”

To me, success is creating new stories and sending them out to readers when they’re published. Therefore, the drive to succeed is also the drive to communicate. When a story, poem, or piece of my art is published, I hope that someone I haven’t reached before picks up that book or magazine and discovers my tales.

Those writers who see money and fame as success are likely to fall short of their goals. There are only a small number of authors (and illustrators) who are able to achieve great wealth and celebrity because of their books or illustrations. Most of us will publish a few books that will hopefully break even and be read by a small, but enthusiastic readership. And that should be enough – enough to make us smile, pick up a paintbrush or pen, and create the next story.

The Greener Forest

Vonnie Winslow Crist is author illustrator of The Greener Forest, River of Stars, Essential Fables, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, For the Good of the Settlement, Blame it on the Trees, and the soon-to-be-published Owl Light (fantasy stories) and The Enchanted Skean (young adult novel). Find out more about Vonnie at her website: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com ,blog: http://vonniewinslowcrist.wordpress.com , Facebook page: http://tinyurl.com/Fb-Vonnie-Winslow-Crist-Author and Twitter: http://twitter.com/VonnieWCrist To buy her books: http://tinyurl.com/Vonnie-Winslow-Crist-UK-Amazon or http://tinyurl.com/Vonnie-Winslow-Crist-Amazon

Dealing with Grief: The Effects of Not Doing So

Below is an article that I believe will help many of you. Grief and loss are terrible things and  I myself can tell you that the death of a parent is one of the hardest things you can go through. I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine called Ashley and I would like you all to read his words. I believe you will be touched as I was by his honesty. 

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I’m Ashley, a 23 year old male, a lad that likes all of the better things in life, the typical “hard man, emotionless”. Two years ago my life changed for the worse. My father, aged fifty-eight, was diagnosed with lung cancer and less than five months later he was dead. The effects this had on me and the others I loved around me were devastating.

So it all started on the way to work in November 2010. I had a phone call from my mum to tell me Dad was on the way to hospital for an X-ray because of what the doctor had said to him minutes earlier. He had been suffering from a cough for a few weeks which wouldn’t seem to budge and after a coughing fit he had a sharp pain which resulted in this trip to the doctor to try and get it all sorted out. I thought it was going to be a routine job and 25 minutes later he would be out. How wrong I was.

Suspected TB was the initial diagnosis– not great but treatable. A week in hospital and then he would be home, all nice and well again. Unfortunately, as the week went on, this didn’t seem like the likely outcome. Negative tests and inconclusive X-Rays discounted the chance of it being something so simple to treat. He came out of hospital six days later after an MRI to then return later to see a consultant. Little did I know what was then to come.

Monday, 6th December 2010, was the day that my world started to fall apart. Driving home in the dark after a long day at work I thought to myself how slow the traffic was and what would I be having for dinner. I got home in a pretty good mood, walked into the kitchen to find Mum and Dad just standing there chatting, but stopped immediately as soon as they saw me. Then the bombshell dropped. Mum said Dad had something to tell me. He said, “ I’ve got cancer.” Great, I thought, treatable but we could do without this. “It’s terminal,” he followed up straight away before starting to cry. This was a knife straight through the heart. I was full of anger almost instantly, wanting to tell him it was going to be OK, but not wanting to lie. I went outside to hear Radio 1 playing Our Song by Ellie Goulding. “How wonderful life is now you’re in the world” all of a sudden had a more poignant meaning. This was the start of me not dealing with the grief and anger I had.

The treatment started pretty quickly after the initial diagnosis and was pretty brutal. The toxins used had an effect almost instantly, and the dad I did have had changed from being the carer to being the cared for almost overnight. On 10th April 2011, he died. I was upset and yet at the same time I was full of anger. How could he just go like that, so soon, so young? However, being able to see him still and peaceful was a wonderful thing after seeing him struggling to breathe and being in constant pain.

The first couple of months after this seemed to be OK. I was basically emotionless, in a state of disbelief that this actually just happened to me and the family. A lot of people asked if I wanted to talk, the answer was always no. At the start of July I started to get into a relationship with a girl that was a friend of my cousin. Blonde hair, pretty blue eyes and the perfect body, I thought to myself that this is the start of something good and that all the shit that has just happened will sort itself out in the next couple of months. Come September our relationship was made “Facebook Official” and was the start of what was to be an amazing relationship.

This is where things started to fall apart very slowly. Every so often I would feel like the world was so unfair to me. I had found the girl I would marry for sure, yet my Dad wouldn’t see that. I was the happiest I had ever been, but Dad couldn’t see that. I had the girl my Dad would have loved, he couldn’t see that. After all every major event in my life, moving out, getting married and having children wasn’t going to be seen by the person I most wanted to impress.

She was showing me nothing but love and yet sometimes I turned into a selfish monster. The smallest arguments would end up blowing up into a full blown shit storm. We would both say things we didn’t mean. After every one of these she would say to me to speak to her about how I felt, but why would I want to tell her that really I’m not the hard man I try to make myself out to be? Long story short, I rejected the advances of help from her and other people. I mistakenly thought I could sort all of this out myself; after-all, I was always right.

The final argument came and she decided that she wanted a break. She suggested that I should talk to somebody about everything. I didn’t respect this and kept trying to sort things out myself, only to have her push me away more. I would try harder, but ended up pushing her away more.

In my own self-delusion I thought I could still sort it all by myself, but I couldn’t  After realising that I had just lost everything I had ever wanted, I went to speak to somebody. It was the best thing I ever did since Dad had died. I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to be the boyfriend I wanted to be at the start of the relationship; I was frustrated and angry that Dad had gone and at the things he wouldn’t see; I was frustrated at the fact that my own stubbornness had just ruined the trust of the number one girl in my life and ruined the relationship we had. Within two days, I felt the weight of all the anger fall off my shoulders, the stomach cramps had gone, and I felt truly happy apart from the fact that I no longer had her.

Is the relationship salvageable? Probably not. While I would love to think it could be in the long run, I know the stuff I did would be hard to forgive. The trust would need to be built again.

What are the takeaways from all this? No matter how much of a rock you think you are, talk to somebody, and don’t wait until is too late to do anything about. Anger and grief will ruin any relationship no matter how much you love the other person. You need to start the conversation about it– people won’t ask you how you are or if you want to talk as they don’t want to upset you. When you get the chance grab it with both hands and be 100% honest with the person you are talking to. It’s hard to tell people your deepest emotions, but it pays massive dividends. Since then, I have been able to speak openly about my life and my feelings towards it.

The reason for writing this is to help even one person avoid the issues I went through and caused– the heartbreak of the breakup and the feelings of losing two things I loved most within the space of two years. After-all  I have nobody to blame but myself and the fact that she was willing to walk away for me to sort my life out has given me a lot more respect and love for her.

By Ashley H