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/

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The World of Publishing According to Dana: Nick Wale Interviews Graphic Artist Dana Black

Dana Black came to me through a friend of mine called Bob Satterfield. Now, I know Bob because we both have this dream. Bob is a dreamer who makes his dreams come true. So am I. So when Bob mentioned this talented graphic artist from NY– I was interested. When Bob said that Dana would make a good interview– I was hooked. So, thanks to Bob Satterfield we now have an interview with Dana Black to read! I think you will all enjoy this one..

Dana Black

Q) Dana, let me start by asking you one simple question: Who are you?

A) I’m a left-handed New York-born Virgo artist with aspirations to write and create new comics and new art that inspires others to tell stories.That’s what I want most out of my art– to inspire others to write and draw, to tell the stories itching in their minds. I’m a guy with tons of stories just leaping out of my skull so it’s all I can do to filter them, boil them down to their simplest terms and then find a format to tell them all.

Q) How do you control all that creativity? How do you stop ideas from bouncing around all day? Surely, it’s enough to drive you insane?

A) Well, I’m well past the point of insane *laughs* so I do my best to scribble them down on any paper I can find, whether it’s visual ideas, dialogue or plot points. It gets to be a lot of work, but I have a pretty good memory that works well with the flood. The ideas seem to come in spurts of creativity, so when one page is filled with ideas it goes into that specific pile and let me tell you, there’s about a dozen or so piles being compiled for all of the things I want to do.

I’m not the most organized cat on the block but all the notes seem to make it into the piles they’re supposed to. If I write or draw two different projects on the same sheet, I’ll cut it out and make sure it goes where it’s meant to go- or better yet, I’ll find a way to make sure that idea gets utilized in something else entirely.

Q) Do you work in a day job or do you just live off your creativity?

A) Right now I’ve given up the day job thing so that I can have the freedom to write and draw to my little heart’s content. It’s a huge risk– just to up and leave the comfort and security of your bread-and-butter job– but it was doing this that gave me a new focus for creating. Having no safety net is a peculiar way of making sure you get to do what you want to.

Q) How are you finding life without a net so far?

A) While I sometimes think it was a mistake to let go so soon, I’m quite happy being able to create my own hours, work on the projects I want to and draw for pleasure for the most part.

The food isn’t piled on my plate and other sacrifices are made, but who needs a social life when you can invent new friends on paper who are probably a lot more interesting? I get to now say I’m living my dream. In the day job, I could never say that, let alone think it.

It’s a freedom and a struggle but it’s so worth it to me.

Q) Do you feel that following your heart is important? Creativity is more important than the commercial nature of the modern world?

A) I sure do. There’s no doubt about it for me, especially loving art and stories the way I do and having always wanted to make a life for myself doing both. I’m forty now and since I was five I was sure I wanted to make a career at telling stories and doing artwork. It would be nice if I could pull off a solid paycheck like my last job, sure, but it was deadening work and non-creative and took up so much of my time and energy that drawing after work was a struggle.

It’s been my dream to draw and write for a living and now, slowly but surely, I get to do just that and I have nothing in my way or holding me back, most especially I don’t have anyone stifling my creativity or telling me “Don’t draw here,” or  “You can’t do that now.”

Q) Do you have dependents or do you live alone?

A) I’m a single dude with no kids, no pets, no one depending on me for anything. I’ve tried to tell relationship partners in the past that this is my great love; that I’m married to art, but they couldn’t understand it. Now I don’t have to worry about explaining why I do what I do or having either the relationship or the art get in the way of the other.

I don’t have to worry about waking up at 3am to draw or write and bothering anyone or having them feel neglected. While I miss companionship, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make because the sole purpose is to make ME happy.

Q) Tell me about your writing process. How do you like to write?

A) Writing for me starts with a rough idea in my head and I start by scribbling a grocery list of all the things that would make a story interesting to me. I’ll start with Stunts, actually–visual ideas of what type of action sequences would be compelling– then I glue this onto a 3 Act Structure and start breaking it down into an outline from start to finish, creating the Spine of the story. From there I start writing dialogue, something I feel really comfortable with. Then I tighten the outline, get very specific, add things, toss out others until I have an outline that really works. Meanwhile, on the margins of all pages, there’s visual ideas, character designs, vehicles, props, sigils, etc…that all directly relate to what I’ve just written. I had a friend recently tell me it was like deciphering code but it really all fits together well once I have the major plot points hammered out.

It’s drawing and writing simultaneously, basically. I write stories with pictures.

Q) What would you deem as your strongest quality?

A) Beyond being a pretty capable artist, I have a contagious love for Comics Storytelling and I want everyone to recognize them for the art form they are. It’s my passion and I often get all teary eyed when talking about how much I love this graphic world.

Dana!

Q) How did you get your first break in the world of graphics?

A) Right now I’m working on a one shot called REDEYE which is my love letter to comics and in it are all of the things that floor me about comics and stories. From the danger and romance, to the humor and the horror. Comics have it all and I plan on showing them off as much as I possibly can.

I’d been drawing since I was five and won local awards and such for years but it was going to Comic Conventions where I met my idols that things started to happen. At a New York Convention in 1994 I met a Comics Artist or two who decided to take me under their wing and give me a shot at drawing professionally. The relationships fizzled but I never lost my love or interest in it. I dabbled in Music for years until a close writer friend offered me the opportunity to do covers for his novels. Once people started seeing what I could do and once I started building confidence in my work, more work followed.

I did covers, pinups, trading cards, art direction and even script supervising and now I’m doing my best to utilize all of these into projects that I’ve created myself or am doing with other writers.

Q) So what’s the plan? To create graphic novels and sell them to publishers?

A) Yeah, that’s the plan basically. Create stuff that comes from my brain and see who’ll publish what I’ve done or work with writers who have a set deal. I have no interest in working in mainstream comics, so books like Batman, X-Men etc… are not books you’re likely to see me work on. There is only one character in mainstream comics that I have any real love for and a writer friend and I are going to work out my plot for that and see if it gets a green light. If it doesn’t, even with the writer’s reputation, we have a back up plan to make it our own property and do it independently.

Q) Are you looking for investors?

A) No, not at this point. With REDEYE, we’re considering releasing it digitally to cut down on the risk factor but we have a few companies who I’m sure would find this property quite nice.

I think once people see the work finished, companies will hopefully line up to publish it.

Q) I would guess you have connections within the industry?

A) Yeah, there’s a bundle of gentlemen who like my work enough to take a chance on some of my ideas. After the first few projects are published, I see myself working on larger projects with more commitment and I think I have a few connections willing to come along for the ride.

Q) So you went into the wilderness knowing you would be published?

A) Yes, I had the confidence and the art to back it up plus that utter desperation of “Well, there’s no more Day Job”.

Q) You sounds like a natural risk taker, then.

A) I have to contain the laughter and my friends and family reading this would all agree that Yes, I’m a Natural Born Risk Taker. Or a Natural Born Idiot, either one. Take your pick. *laughs*

Q) How do you feel about a life without risks?

A) Well, I’ve worked the day jobs, I’ve done the stuff expected of me and it’s really no fun– there’s no passion and I’m a person that has to LOVE it to do it. I find taking no risks boring and dull and I’m anything but. I have friends who sit at their desks, watch the clock, collect a paycheck, go home and kiss their dogs. That is not the life for me.

But I do like dogs. Very much.

Q)  What are your thoughts on self-publishing?

A) Self-publishing is something I have mixed feelings about. One, it means that I can tell the stories I want to tell unconstrained by editorial or publishers wants. Two, it means I don’t have the goods to make it and get my stories published.

Even more personal projects can find a publisher, but inferior art and story cannot and should not.

Q) Do you believe, as many do, that self-publishing has flooded the market?

Yes, there’s a boom of self-publishers. Any Joe Shmoe with a little bit of money can release a project and it crowds the racks with inferior product.

But can that Joe Shmoe produce a good book with interesting stories and top notch art? Usually not, which is why they self-publish.

Let’s face it, the industry is mired in inferior product, and it’s not just the self-publishers but they seem most responsible for it. Sometimes having that freedom to self-publish does not guarantee a worthwhile book.

It’s the obligation of an artist and writer to do their best work.

Q) So the statement “Everyone has a book inside of them,” should perhaps be “Everyone has a book inside of them– but the majority should stay inside of them.” Would you agree with that?

A) No, I can’t agree with that as much as I want to. I’d be happy not seeing many books I’ve seen . I would say draw and write the BEST book you can, then write it and draw it again and if it’s not the BEST book you can put out- stop and find something else to do. I want to see quality products, the best books, the best stories, the best art– art and stories that pump me up and not leave me cold– and that’s my goal. I want people to be blown away, not because they’re supposed to be, but because they are.

People are not being their own worst critics and that’s why we have so much trash on the stands. “Hey, Bob, here’s a good idea.” No, it has to be GREAT.

Q) What made you say yes to an interview with me?

A) Well, we have a mutual friend Bob Satterfield who approached me about it and with his recommendation and your quality of interviews. I said “Why Not?” It sounded like fun and it has been. I wanted to continue taking a risk to get a little bit of me out there and to express my love for the graphic medium and didn’t know if I’d get the chance again any time soon. Also, I felt it important for an artist to be heard.

Q) Well, Dana thank you for stopping by. It’s been a pleasure interviewing you!

A) Nick, you’re very welcome and I have to thank you for the opportunity and it’s been a real joy to have spoken to you at length.

DanaLook out for the wonderful work of Dana Black! It may soon be at your local comic store!

Don Keith– Putting His Own Spin on the World of Publishing

What can I say about Don Keith that hasn’t already been said a million times? Best-selling author, blogger, radio disc jockey, happy guy who just loves his work. I had been looking forward to this one for a long time. I met him through my travels and I knew he would make a great interview for “Novel Ideas.” Sometimes you just have an itch that tells you who would come across well. Don made me itch like crazy (in a good way!) When we first met, he spent time advising me about interviews and approaching authors. In a world full of huge egos, it was refreshing to meet a genuine great guy such as Mr Keith. I present the man who writes best-sellers to you now in my own golden spotlight.

don keith

Q) Hi, Don! Let me start by asking you to tell me how you got into writing?

A) I’ve wanted to tell stories on paper since I was a kid and published my own short stories for people in my neighborhood. All six of them! But I was working with a company that produced software for broadcasters and ad agencies and that put me on the road with a laptop computer. In hotel rooms at night, I could either watch TV, hang out in the bar downstairs, or finally start that novel that was rattling around in my head. I chose the novel. I used some chicanery to get in touch with a literary agent who promptly turned down the novel, but he said I could write and to submit anything else I produced to him. I did–another novel–which he promptly rejected, but urged me to keep trying. The third novel was sold in two days to St. Martins’ Press and I have kept writing since, 26 published works later!

Q) What happened to those first two novels? Did you get them published in the end?

A) The first still languishes on a floppy disk somewhere and, honestly, it is pretty bad. The second one became my second published novel, Wizard of the Wind, after I took what I learned from the editing process of the first one, The Forever Season, and did a major re-write. Lesson learned. Be honest when you go back and look at what you have written. Get input from trusted sources. If you see what you did is not very good, move on. But if there is still something there with which you can work, mold it and shape it and see if you can make it better.

wizard of wind

Q) So your experience would suggest that being turned down is remedied by trying again. Would you agree with that?

A) I admit it is never easy when someone tells you that your baby is ugly, but you must be honest with yourself first. On the other hand, wonderful manuscripts are rejected every day by agents and publishers for reasons not often understood by the writer. If you are confident your work is valued, has a potential readership, and can make money for a publishing house, keep pitching. And work on the next book while you do. An author may have the next Harry Potter franchise or To Kill a Mockingbird, but if an agent does not have a relationship with an editor/publisher who is looking for that kind of material, he or she will be reluctant to represent the work. An agent who sends material to an editor blindly or without knowing if that editor is interested in seeing such material will not be an agent long!

Q) So what happened when you finally got published? It is oft said that a book can turn you into a millionaire overnight. Did you earn a fortune overnight?

A) Everlasting fame and wealth! Not hardly. First, if a writer is writing to get rich, he or she is in for a real disappointment. If one is able to make a living writing books, wonderful, but the odds are stacked against it. Write to tell a story, introduce readers to interesting characters, and affect them emotionally. Then, if you are fortunate enough to make money at it, wonderful! As you can imagine, I get many questions like this from would-be authors, so I have a section on my web site at http://www.donkeith.com that deals with this very subject. Just click on the “On Writing” tab. I’ve also expanded that section and published it as an ebook called “Writing to be Published…and Read.”

Q) I’ve read “Writing to be Published” and enjoyed it immensely. You come across as a really friendly guy. Do you try to help all young writers who come to you for help?

A) As much as I can. I had some very kind and patient authors give me hope and advice early on and I like to pay it forward. I do get a little perturbed with those who want the book to write itself, or who want to take an idea or some characters, dash out some words, and try to sell it and let an editor “fix” it. Writing is work. Stories have to be told. Life has to be breathed into characters. If a person is lazy or is looking for shortcuts, sorry. There are none, unless you are famous or write pornography, or both.

Q) I totally agree that you have to put back what you take and learn the trade. It’s a trade that takes time to master or at least partially master. Can you tell me what Wizard of the Wind is about?

A) That book has just been republished, by the way, after being out of print for a while. It tells the story of a young man who is fascinated by the magic of radio broadcasting and the new music he hears on the radio in the 1950s. He accidentally becomes a disk jockey and rides the growth of radio’s second “golden age” to the top, eventually building his own broadcasting empire, but through greed, he loses sight of the magic of the medium that first captured his imagination and almost loses it all, along with those he loves the most. It is a metaphor for what has happened in radio broadcasting here in the US in the past thirty years, told by someone who has been there. I worked in radio for twenty-two years, then in marketing and advertising for the next twenty-five.

Q) You were a disc jockey? Coming from the South you must have spun a whole load of Elvis discs in your time.

A) Yes, and Otis Redding, Hank Williams, Allman Brothers, Beatles, Stones…lots and lots of discs. I have actually co-written a series of novellas with Elvis’s first cousin, Edie Hand. And had the pleasure of doing country-music radio from a station on Music Row in Nashville. I had guests on my show from Barbara Mandrell to Ronnie Milsap, Marty Robbins to the Oak Ridge Boys. But I’m name-dropping! I was just as thrilled to do a book with Captain William Anderson, who took the submarine USS Nautilus to the North Pole in 1958. And another couple of novels with a former sub skipper who helped develop SEAL operational tactics…and one of those will soon be a major motion picture. The director is the same fellow who directed Denzel Washington in his Academy Award-winning role in “Training Day.” See, I can drop some names!

Q) Did you ever spend time any of those country singers?

A) I met and interviewed most of them. I had dinner with Reba McEntire and she sang me a verse and a chorus of a song she had recorded that day. It became her first number one song. Ronnie Milsap brought over a tape of a song he had just cut and asked if I would play it on the radio so they could see how it sounded over the air. I did. It was “Record of the Year” that year. Barbara Mandrell called me at 6:30 the morning after she was named “Entertainer of the Year” and we did an interview while she put on her makeup.

Q) What was it like working with Marty Robbins?

A) Marty showed up that evening with a bottle of wine, cheese and crackers, and we enjoyed while doing the interview. Afterwards, he asked if I minded dropping him off at his bus. They were leaving for a tour. It was on that tour that he suffered the heart attack that eventually took him from us. “El Paso” is one of the great story-songs of all time and would have made a great novel or western movie.

Q) I agree about Marty Robins. “Gunfighter Songs and Trail Ballads” was always one of my favourite records. How about Jerry Lee Lewis? Did he ever turn up on your travels?

A) No, but I put him in Wizard of the Wind in a key scene. I wanted to represent the anarchy of rock and roll and how it was so powerful in reaching to the very soul of young people during that time. He was the perfect symbol.

Q) Jerry is certainly something else. How about Johnny Cash? Did you ever meet him?

A) Yes. His brother-in-law worked for me at the radio station. So did Hank Williams’s step-daughter and Hank Williams Jr.’s step-sister. In fact, when I first moved to Nashville, I lived for a while in Hank Williams’s home. The radio station’s owner had bought the mansion, complete with a wrought-iron fence around the pool that featured the musical notes to “Your Cheatin’ Heart” to the bullet holes Hank had put in the living room ceiling while inebriated. But there I go, dropping names again.

Q) I’m a huge Hank Williams fan. When I was nine or ten, my math tutor had every Hank recording. The LPs, EP’s– everything! I love everything he recorded. What’s your favourite Hank song?

A) Hank was one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Listen to the lyrics of “I’m so Lonesome I Could Die.” Can’t believe I swam in his pool and visited the studio where he recorded many of his songs.

Q) Don, what’s your latest release called?

A) There are actually THREE new ones. Final Bearing is the submarine thriller co-written with Commander George Wallace, and the book that will be a major motion picture, hopefully in early 2014. The second is Undersea Warrior, the true story of one of the most innovative and controversial submarine commanders of WWII, Dudley “Mush” Morton, which is approaching bestseller status and is now a featured selection of The History Book Club and The Military Book Club. Third is The Spin, a novel I wrote a while back and have now published myself. It is so unique and, unlike most other books these days that have not gotten much interest from the major houses, I’ve offered it myself on all bookselling sites. It tells the story of a man at such a low point in his life that he decides to make one last, desperate gamble–putting everything he has left on one spin of the roulette wheel at a Las Vegas casino. When word gets out about what he is going to do, thousands of others join his quest, and that foolish risk becomes so much more to so many. It’s funny, tragic, moving and, I hope, inspirational. As I did with my novels, sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zones, take some risks, and listen to our hearts instead of our heads.

Q) I really want to read The Spin. It sounds like a great read. How are people reacting to it?

A) Wonderful reader reviews so far. I’m just beginning to promote it, and that is what is so difficult for so many authors. That’s why someone like you is a godsend because you can make others aware of books that may not come from the major publishers. I’ve been fortunate enough to be published by the biggest–St. Martins’, Tor/Forge, Penguin, Thomas Nelson–and want to continue to do so, but there are other options now, too, with Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace, PubIt, and others. The publishing world is evolving at the speed of light!

the spin

Q) Well, I am happy to plug your books, Don! That’s my job! Where can people get The Spin?

A) You can visit my web site: http://www.donkeith.com, or simply search for me on Amazon.com and visit my author page there. I write books on subjects that I enjoy reading about. I can only hope there are enough people out there with similar interests to enable me to continue doing so. I have myriad stories to tell and a million characters I’d like to introduce you to.

Q) Anytime you’d like another interview I’m happy to do so!

A) You let me talk and expose my ego. What else could an interviewee ask?

Follow Don’s work through his author’s page on Facebook.

How did Don strike me? He struck me as a man who enjoys communicating, whether on the pages of his books or over a flaky internet connection, his warmth shines through. I will be interviewing him again. I’m sure of that. I just hope we have more time next time we meet. Adios, Don! It was a fun way to spend an hour!

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.

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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

Tom Blubaugh in 877 words

What can I say about Tom Blubaugh? Well he says a whole lot during this interview. I guess I can add a few things though. Tom is a man of few words– yet each word is thought out and methodical. Not a chatterbox– a thinker. Tom is one of those guys who has so much to say– but says only what he needs to. I think you will love this interview! Read on!

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Tom Blubaugh 2Q) Great to meet you Tom! How did you get into writing?

 

A) When I was fourteen I was very shy. If I liked a girl, I would write a poem expressing my feelings. When Elvis Presley and rock & roll came on the scene, I thought I might be able to convert my poems into song lyrics and make a fortune. Never happened, but I’ve been writing in some form since.


Q) As a writer– what inspires you? What gives you that energy to write everyday?

 

A) Lots of things. I am a spiritual person and I love nature. Astrology totally captures my mind. I can look at images from the Hubble telescope for hours. I have been told that I’m a serious person for as long as I can remember. All of these things get my mind into a creative mode and I start writing. I have a lot of things I want to share. 


Q) What are your writing goals? What is it that drives you towards publication?

 

A) I’m not sure I have any firm goals. I’m working on a sequel to my novel Night of the Cossack, but I have been dragging my feet. I don’t feel that Night of the Cossack has come anywhere close to meeting its potential. It was release in April, 2011 and I have been working at building my marketing platform since. Until I know I have a strong following, I won’t release the sequel. 


Q) Who are your personal favourite authors? 

 

A) This is a tough question. I have developed a very large circle of author connections and I’m reading more than I ever have. I wasn’t encouraged to read as a child. Now I feel like I’m catching up. I’ve read a large number of Louis L’Amour’s books so I guess I would say he’s my favorite at this time.

 

Q) Tell me about your books– what are they called and where can we buy them? I think people will be kept hooked by Night of the Cossack.

 

A) The only book that is still in print is Night of the Cossack. It’s a story about my maternal grandfather. He died before I was born and I missed knowing him. In fact, both grandfathers we deceased when I was born. I knew very little about either of them, but I did know my maternal grandfather was a Cossack soldier. This always fascinated me. I wanted my children and grandchildren to know him so I basically created him in this historical fiction. The history is 100% accurate, but he’s 95% fiction at this point. 


Q) How do you promote your work? What internet sites do you use?

 

A) Every possible way I can–blog and radio interviews, blog articles, speaking, book signings and I’m on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Pinterest and more. I’m working with a marketing consultant to pull all of my multiple thousands together and further develop my name and sales. 


Q) How do you feel about E-books? Are they going to overtake published works?

 

A) I love ebooks. I have a reader the size of a normal book that contains three hundred books. It’s like carrying around my own personal library. I was forty-two when PCs came on the scene. My grandchildren have more computer knowledge than I have after twenty-nine years. We still give them gift cards to Amazon and Barnes & Noble and they still read printed books, but I think in another generation printed books will probably be antiquated. 

 

Q) If you could have written one book– what would it be?

 

A) I don’t think I’ve read that book yet. I’m a movie nut. I especially like movies that are based on true stories. One I saw this past year was For Greater Glory with Andy Garcia. This is the kind of story I want to write.


Q) How do you relax? What are your hobbies?

 

A) Relax? I’m not sure I really know how to do this. I like macro photography, but this has gone by the wayside–replaced by writing. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, horseshoes, Bocce Ball, harassing our cat, Blacky and I have a handful of TV shows I like.

 

Q) Why should people choose to read Night of the Cossack?

 

A) It’s a fast moving story that will keep their interest to the very end. I’ve received communications from readers age twelve to eighty-six. Many have said it should be a movie. (In case some producers are reading.)

Tom Blubaugh 1

With that the questioning was over and Tom went back to his work. This is a man to watch. Check out Night of the CossackThis is one book surely heading towards the bestseller list!

Thank you for your time Tom– please feel free to drop in on my blog again for a chat!

A Quickie With Political Commentator Mike Sivier from Vox Political

To catch a Mike Sivier is simple. You wait until he passes by and then you reel him in with some juicy discussion about politics. Now, I love fishing! I found myself standing by the river bank today, and I was lucky enough to catch a Mike for a short time. What follows is the discussion between an eager fisherman and a political fish! I hope you enjoy our time together!

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Q) Hi, Mike! So let’s start of with a simple question. Why do you vote for the British Labour Party?

A) Is that your first question? I am actually finding it quite hard to answer!

Q) Sorry Mike! I guess I just like making them tough.

A) It shouldn’t be tough, though. “Why do you vote Labour?” The honest answer is that it’s the only organisation in the UK that is actually still interested in EVERYONE’s well-being – the Tories are a minority-interest party for the very rich, UKIP for the anti-Europeans, the nationalists for their own countries and the Lib Dems for themselves. Labour has a lot wrong with it at the moment, I’ll admit. But I think it’s prepared to change, with the right encouragement, while the others are only going to dig in deeper. OK, next question.

Q) Do you consider Ed Miliband to be the saviour of the UK? Or will a stronger leader come along?

A) I think Ed suffers from poor advice. Maybe the top tier of the Parliamentary Labour Party has been in the Westminster bubble too long, maybe they suffer from having all studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics in the same way as the top Tories – they’re not thinking in the same way as people on the street, so they’re not saying the things we want to hear. Ed’s performances are a symptom of that.  He seems to be insulated from the reality on the ground – a good example of this is welfare. Labour’s still talking about a welfare system that will put disabled people back into work, for crying out loud! We need a system that can accommodate the problems that people have and give them the help they need.

Q) How about (Ed) Balls? Is he the real power behind the Labour throne?

A) Balls – no, he isn’t. We are definitely not in Blair/Brown territory again. Balls does need to learn some new tricks, though. Labour can’t continue to oppose Tory economic policies while admitting we’d do much the same. We need a programme of investment in growth – in the industries that provide the best fiscal multipliers (meaning for every pound spend by the government, the economy benefits by more than a pound in the long run). We need to renounce Tory welfare policies. Attacking the most vulnerable isn’t the way forward.

I’ve gone into some of this in detail in the blog. My favourite member of Labour’s top team right now is Andy Burnham. His performance in the NHS debate was excellent.

Q) Do you think the NHS (National Health Service) can be saved? I guess the question really is– how can it be saved?

A) Yes. Obviously reabsorb everything that has been sliced off – no recompense to the private companies. I think there will be legal reasons this will be possible (I don’t think the hiving-off to private companies was done in a legally-permissible way in the first place). We’ve got a lot of medical experts with strong opinions on what should be done and we should be listening to them – right now – with a view to having a strategy in place immediately after the 2015 election. We should NOT go around thinking we know everything we need to; if there are experts willing to advise, let’s hear it!

Q) You believe (Ed) Miliband will do this?

A) He’ll do what makes him electable. Look at his performance at PMQs last week – he trounced Cameron. He CAN deliver. He comes from a Labour dynasty – he’s literally steeped in the philosophy of the Labour Party. He just needs the right information. I’m going to have to go.

Q) One last question– is Tony Blair a detriment to the party? 

A) I disagree with a lot of the ‘Headline’ things that Tony Blair did, but beneath all those, he did a lot of good for the UK. Of course he did – even if you don’t like New Labour, just look at the alternative – a government led by William Hague? By Iain Duncan Smith??? (Ye Gods, anything but that!) But now it’s past time we let go. He can’t do Labour any good now. Labour must move back towards the left and embrace the social policies towards which the UK and most of Europe were moving before the late-1970’s. That means an end to Blairism. We have to put as much distance between ourselves and neo-Liberalism as possible. That do?

A) Yes, thanks Mike! Great quick interview and thank you for your time!

Q) Okay, thanks Nick!

With that Mike was back to do what he does best– writing blog articles and making sure the world knows what is going on behind those big political walls mere mortals cannot pass through.

Check out Mike’s blog, Vox Political, right now for the truth as he sees it!

Interview With Nick Wale

Looking to the future

Looking to the future

Below is an interview Nick recently conducted for journalist Mac Miller.

When he arrived I did not know what to expect from him. Slowly, he looked around and noticed me. The first thing I noticed were his eyes, unlike any I’ve seen before. Nick Wale is handsome, rugged and a man completely away from his own generation. His size struck me more than anything– he’s working class– yet classically Roman. I was taken off guard as he smiled at my wife. Still, when we started the interview I was put at ease by his friendly and easy going nature.

Q Nice to meet you Nick– this is your first interview– correct?

A) Yes- my first for this book– I have been interviewed before.

Q) I won’t take it easy on you then.

A) Naw, now don’t be mean to me. I am new to this!

Q) First off, let me ask you what that record is under your arm?

A) Bobby Darin sings Ray Charles on Atlantic. I think Bobby Darin is just the end! Have you heard it?

Q) No– is it good? I’m a Darin fan too!

A) Get out of here! Well, it’s a swinging album, brother– here take this one and I’ll get another.

Q) Thank you– I will take it easy on you now– ready for the first question?”

A) Shoot

Q) So, you’ve finally finished “The Rose Amongst the Thorns”. How does it feel to be an author?

A) Pretty good, Mac! I guess it’s all down to good luck and blessings from God that we managed to finish it. I just follow the old adage– good luck brings forth more good luck and a little quicksand at times.

Q) How do you promote your work?

A) Well, I guess I use all the old carny tricks in the book. We make great use of Facebook and Twitter. I have a mailing list and of course the blog. I was recently telling Lori, my beautiful fiancee and co-author of “Rose”, about the importance of the blog– 1000 hits in two months is pleasing! I know we can do better.

Q) 1000 hits in two months? You don’t consider that a resounding success?

A) I consider it a beginning and I know we can do better. The way I see it is simple. There’s a 1000 hits now and perhaps 10,000 tomorrow and it’s all down to marketing and audience share.

Q) Do you believe “Rose Amongst the Thorns” is a hit?

A) I believe that it is not just a hit– I believe it is the hit of the decade. The book tells a dramatic true life story and tells it well. Lori is an excellent writer and I believe she has done some of her best work. This book isn’t just a book– it’s a movie and a series of books.

Q) Social commentary?

A) Indeed and a huge chunk of history to go with it. The original manuscript had more social commentary than this cut– but we gave up some story to make it more commercial– more viable for an audience.

Q) So it was rewritten?

A) Of course, who can write a book without rewrites and editing? We took it upon ourselves to do the first rewrite and the second was down to advice we were given from a great agent.

Q) So, an agent gave you some insight?

A) Yes, absolutely! Andrew Murray emailed me directly and read the first rewrite and loved it. He gave us invaluable advice and then we took his words and ran with them. The man was a guiding star to Lori and I!

Q) So, tell us about Nick Wale the man.

A) I’m a simple guy really– very easy going and devoted to my home life. I like to wake up slowly and get enough sleep. That’s one thing I loved about the process of writing “Rose”. It was one of those wonderful processes over a few months. I just worked hard and rested easy. Relaxing? I never relax in the day– I work and I catch up with my fellow writers and political buddies. I have a lot of friends in the business and some I would even like to represent as an agent.

Q) So, you want to become an agent?

Mac– I believe in doing as much as possible and I would become an agent in the time it takes to write my name. I have met some incredible authors who just don’t get the sales that they should. For example take Doug R Cobb– he is an excellent writer– yet he doesn’t get the sales he needs to give up the day job. I believe he could be the biggest thing since Steven King if given the chance.

Q) Douglas R Cobb? Author of “Crossing The Dead Line?”

A) Yes– I believe he has a film already written with that one.

Q) I’ll be sure to look out for it Nick– so what’s your home life like?

A) Bit personal, eh? Well it’s the same as everyone else’s– we don’t have any dinosaurs in the bath or anything. Lori and I like music and TV and we spend a lot of our time together. I believe in spending time with my family and nothing makes me happier.

Q) What does Lori think about the success you’ve had so far?

A) I think sometimes she worries that I’m a carny– she cringes a lot when she sees some of the things I do for promotion. I think she is proud though and happy– if she wasn’t happy I would give it up and get another job in an instant.

Q) Does Lori have any side projects?

A) She cross stitches and watches TV– she likes Mexican food and I think she has a new book in mind. It’s about a bored housewife running off to Greece and Turkey. I believe it’s a winner and it’s based on truth.

Q) Thank you for the heads up about her new work. Do you have any new projects on the go?

A) I have some news articles I’m currently working on and hope to sell to papers and I have two new books in mind. The first is a prequel to “Rose” and the second has the working title of “Poverty”. I will be previewing a few chapters soon on my blog.

Q) You seem to be pretty adult orientated for a 22 year old! What do you attribute such a strong work ethic to?

A) Well, Mac– I guess I’m not the same as other guys my age. I just see the world and look for the opportunities. Lori calls me a visionary at times. I believe it’s more down to the fact that I want to achieve. I like being me and that means that I want to be me for a long time. If I wasn’t writing or trying to write or be around writers, I wouldn’t be me.

Q) Back to “Rose” for a moment– can you tell us more about it?

A) Sure– “Rose” is the true story of my mother who suffered with depression. I guess the truth is that she went haywire for a time and things were hard until I met Lori. Mum and Lori were like oil and water to begin with and times were tough, but mum made the effort to fix herself and change her life. I am so proud of her for that– it’s a long and shocking tale– but it really does show the lows that depressives go to. Depression is a rampant disease, Mac, and it’s only by sharing experiences and making a positive change that we will fix it. There are lots of people out there suffering because of it.

Q) So, you want to help people?

A) Yes, sir, that’s one of my main goals and it will always be one of my main goals. I have been given a lot in this life and I would like to put back as much as I can. I believe that everyone should have opportunities and with this book I hope to give many, many people opportunities.

Q) How will you do this?

A) I want to start working with teenagers to get themselves into a profession and out of the jobcentre. I want to get people to write their stories and share their experiences. I would like as an agent to pick up books by writers who aren’t making enough money– and make them the money. I am not in this for myself– I’m in this business to make it happen for everyone I meet.

Q) Who is your personal hero?

A) Well, there’s a guy named Ed Powers who is one of my best friends. I really feel that he changes a lot of lives through his sermons and such. I have spent many hours talking to him and he just believes without question in things I do– that takes some guts because people say I’m crazy.

Q) Why crazy?

A) 22 and an author– ideas and marketing like mine– they say to me– Nick you are loopy– I just smile, hey Mac! Perhaps I am loopy.

Q) Not loopy– driven I would say Nick.

A) Well, thank you! I do realise that my age is against me in many ways. I guess people just don’t take guys my age seriously– they say “Hey, wait till you grow up a bit, boy.”

Q) What do you say to that?

A) I always just smile and say if I wait any longer — I’ll lose it!

Q) So when will “Rose Amongst the Thorns” hit the shelves and internet sites?

A) It’s with publishers right now and I’m waiting to hear back. There hasn’t been a single rejection yet of the new manuscript and I think they’re going to love it as much as we do. I guess it’s all a waiting game now.

Q) Well from what I’ve read– I love it and I hear the whole book has been described as Pulitzer worthy?

A) Aww, I don’t know about that! I just hope its book-binding worthy!

Mac) Thank you for your time Nick and I wish you every success.

Nick) Thank you, Mac!

We shook hands and with that it was over and he left. Nick Wale, a guy with drive and ambition, was gone and all I have to say is– good luck to him and thanks for the record. This is a guy to watch! We will be seeing a lot more of him, I’m sure!

Nick enjoying the Darin disc.

Nick enjoying the Darin disc.