MY BEST CHRISTMAS… EVER (REMEMBERING DAD)

On December 12, 2012 (12/12/12), I lost my father unexpectedly to a heart attack.

That day… it’s he day my dad was there when it started but gone when it ended.

It had seemed like so many before. After working together for 10 years at the end of his career, when my dad retired, he would come back to work about once a week, pick me up, and we’d go to lunch.

The day he died was a lunch day for us. Everything had seemed fine. We laughed, talked football and even got into some deeper conversation about raising kids and how impressed he was with the person my daughter was growing up to be.

Some 18 hours later,  confused and heartbroken, I found myself with my mother in the basement of a funeral home picking out a coffin.

With today being the 4th anniversary of his death, I thought I would share the “My Favorite Christmas…EVER” story. While I began publishing books after the death of my dad (I could no longer “wait until later” to get started with writing seeing how quickly it all can end), I had started to get into writing by crafting stories about real life experiences my dad had the last five or six years of his life. I would recall these funny incidents and document them and I’d share them with friends and family, including Dad.

He was the ultimate character. Funny things always happened with him. I present to you, “My Favorite Christmas… EVER,” about the Christmas that stands out for me more than any other from the group of short stories I wrote about my dad’s adventures over the years.

My Favorite Christmas… EVER

Oddly, my favorite Christmas memory doesn’t come from any number of the blessed things I’ve experienced in my life, but more along the lines of the quirky, offbeat things which build the character of whom you are as a person.

In 1978, the 10-year old version of me only wanted one thing for Christmas: a tape recorder. Looking back now, I’m not exactly sure why that was, but at that moment in time, it was the only thing I cared about. I realize it’s laughable now, but in 1978, this was cutting edge “in-home” technology. No longer was the recording of voices limited to the celebrity likes of Lee Majors; a person could actually record his or her own voice without going to a studio.

Christmas morning came and I opened up the new jeans, socks, dress shirts and other things Mom would wrap to increase the volume of gifts. She was smart enough to strategically bury the good stuff deep under the tree, so you continue to mow through all of it as she took photos of the ever disappointed reactions to these motherly gems.

My last gift was my beloved tape recorder. I wasn’t allowed to simply take it off on my own and play with it. My dad had me run through the instruction book with him. To record, hit the record button. To play back your tape, hit play. Rewind involved pressing the rewind button. Pretty standard stuff. Dad and I were ready to proceed with our initial recording session.

My dad pressed the record button, picked up the recorder and spoke directly into the machine. Slowly and deliberately he dictated the inaugural recording. He said, “What are you doing?”… only he didn’t say it in his own voice. He used robot-like voice and paused after each word with his voice pitch rising on the last word so it became, “WHAT …. ARE … YOU … dooo-ING?” I’m not sure why he chose this robot-like voice; perhaps he felt you needed to speak in what he considered a futuristic sounding voice with such new age technology.

He rewound the tape, and we heard robot man speaking back to us: “WHAT …. ARE … YOU … dooo-ING?” He calls my mom and sister in, “Listen to this,” he told them: “WHAT …. ARE … YOU …doING?”

Collectively, we were simply amazed… that really was Dad’s voice!

Well, at least some version of his voice.

I got ready to grab the recorder and head off to my room to have some fun with my new gift. Dad stopped me and said, “Give me that tape, I want to save that.”

I was confused. Save that? It wasn’t even anything… just some pseudo-robot asking one question. Despite my hesitation, I turned it over. After all, I did get the two-pack of tapes.

Over the next few days, Dad kept borrowing the recorder whenever one of his friends would call. I would hear him tell them, “You’ve got to hear this.” Then he’d turn on the recorder, and I’d hear robot man asking, “WHAT …. ARE … YOU … dooo-ING?” This was followed by laughter and him swearing that was actually a recording, and it was him. He could prove it by replaying it again, which he would then do.

Seriously, who were these guys who thought this was good entertainment?

A month or so later, Dad walked by my room, and I had all of my Batman action figures out and was staging a Batman fight. I was recording, complete with me singing the Batman theme and punctuating it with the occasional “POW,” “BAM” or “ZAP” like they did in those campy fights on the show. When he asked what I was doing, I told him I was taping a Batman fight.

“These tapes are expensive” he told me, “you can’t simply waste them.” Since I was confused on how a Batman fight wasn’t as important as robot man, combined with the fact I didn’t need it to record minutes from any business meetings at age 10, I never used the tape recorder again.

Even though this wasn’t a “great holiday memory,” it certainly stands out. Every once in a while, I’ll come across that tape, find an old boom box, and play robot man for a good laugh.u

Shared in loving memory of Larry Akley (8/20/42 – 12/12/12)

 

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THE TRADITION CONTINUES

Last year, I kicked off the annual start to the holiday shopping season on Black Friday by offering some of my books for free. I then promoted it on social media starting on Black Friday and then continued on Small Business Saturday (independent authors are small business owners after all), Indie Author Sunday (I totally made that up but to my knowledge no one has grabbed Sunday yet, so I’m making a claim for it… help me promote #IndieAuthorSunday on social media) and finally Cyber Monday (these are electronic books that have to be ordered online).

I believe this one small promotion is what really helped me turn the corner on my writing career. Soon after, my book, Bourbon Mixology became a bestseller on Amazon.

Coincidence?

Maybe.

I’m not going to take a chance, though. Once again, this four-day shopping bonanza will feature my very own “12 Days of Christmas”… a dozen of my books available for free download starting Black Friday and running through Cyber Monday.

Here’s a look at the lineup this year:

I have six of my chapters, complete with bonus material from the book Small Brand America IV: Special Beer Edition. Those six are as follows:

Jolly Pumpkin

Smuttynose

Jester King

Brooklyn Brewery

Full Sail Brewery

Spider Bite Brewery

I also have two of my chapters from Small Brand America V: Special Bourbon Edition as a part of my Twelve Days of Christmas. Here are those two:

Syntax Spirits

10th Mountain

In addition to these 8 books that are part of bigger books, I have 4 stand alone books as well. They are as follows:

Life with Akester – The book I wrote about my father. This one really got me started with writing after the unexpected passing of my Dad on 12/12/12.

Coffeehouse Jazz I – A book dedicated to helping you build the ultimate jazz playlist by sharing 101 instrumental jazz classics.

Second Cup: More Coffeehouse Jazz – The sequel, with 101 more instrumental jazz classics.

Brain Tsunami – The book I wrote with Jenna Brownson, Amanda Hoppes and Samm Lim. We took a real life accident my brother-in-law had, and all wrote different endings since he had amnesia from the event and doesn’t remember what happened. It’s an awesome ride!

I hope you enjoy the 12 books I am giving away this holiday season. Of course, if you are doing some shopping, I sure would appreciate you considering some of my books for the individuals on your holiday shopping lists this season. Here’s a look at some winners that would make great gifts:

Bourbon Mixology – My bestselling book ever offers 50 signature cocktails from 50 iconic bars.

Bourbon Mixology 3 – The latest in my Bourbon Mixology series featured 30 more iconic bars sharing their signature cocktails.

Coffee and Holiday Mixology – This specialty book features iconic bars sharing their signature coffee and holiday-themed drinks.

Leo the Coffee Drinking Cat – A fun story featuring primitive drawings kids can relate to.

Small Brand America IV: Special Beer Edition – 26 craft brewers share their story.

Small Brand America V: Special Bourbon Edition – 20 craft distilleries go behind the scenes to share their history.

Pa’u Hana – My only novel is a fun adventure of two best friends trying to break into the movie business. Guaranteed laughs with this one!

Thank you for reading a little bit about what I am doing this holiday season to promote my writing!

Happy Holidays!
Steve Akley – Inventor of #IndieAuthorSunday

 

 

 

 

WHAT TO DO? WHAT TO DO!

Almost as soon as I started writing, some 3 1/2 years ago, I started this blog. In many ways it has been the backbone of my writing. There was an accountability to posting every Sunday with information about what was happening with my writing.

Now, as the excitement of all the things I blogged about here are actually happening, it’s a struggle to find time to do one of the things that got me to where I was trying to go for so long.

With the newfound success of The Bourbon Show, my podcast, and the increasing popularity of my email magazine Bourbon Zeppelin, I simply don’t have time to do the things I once was doing.

Changing things up do not come without self-doubt and worry. My career has always been in sales. Once you get some big accounts, you shouldn’t quit prospecting and doing the basic things you always did to get you there otherwise you end up in trouble if you lose one of those big accounts.

For that reason, I’m not quitting anything, but I am scaling back. The following four changes are steps I am making to ensure I am putting out the best products I can for those who are fans of my work:

  1. This blog is going from a weekly posting to sporadic. I’m just going to do it as time allows/check-in when there is something important going on.
  2. My other blog, O.P.U.S., the same thing. I will do an occasional interview and post it, but I’m not going to actively look to adhere to a schedule.
  3. Currently, I publish a newsletter about my writing 6 times a year. I’m going to publish an issue in December and then scale back to the publishing it from time-to-time.
  4. Since I started writing I always had 2, 3, 4, 5… many books I was working on at a time. I still want to write, but one book at a time is enough.

Why now?

What’s changed?

While there is always just an overall sense of always sinking, there was a recent incident, though, that totally could have been avoided with more time to dedicate to focusing on making more things better instead of doing so much.

I had a few phone calls from the good people at Independent Stave Company (ISC)… the barrel manufacturers used by much of the bourbon industry. Just tremendous individuals that run a fine company. I met with three of their people via teleconference. I have a podcast interview set-up with their CEO very soon. I worked with one of their key people on an article for the October 1 issue of Bourbon Zeppelin.

It got published a week ago Saturday. It went out at 7:00 a.m. my time. By 7:04 I got an email from one of my contacts there. I was excited. They finally got to see the article I put together for them.

Instead the note was, “You called us International Stave Company. Can you fix that?”

No, I could not.

Once again, the staff there was great. These people couldn’t be nicer and were very understanding. We’re still good with the interview for the podcast… all of that. I was crushed, though. Twenty-five people are writers for that publication. All of us work for free because we love bourbon and like the idea of promoting it as this group project. We want it to be professional. We want it to have the respect of our friends, family and the industry.

And… I’m calling one of the biggest players in the game by the wrong name.

That can’t happen. Well, at least I have to ensure it can’t happen again.

Look, I know it was a mistake. Mistakes can be made… even if I make these changes. I simply don’t feel I had myself in the best situation to succeed by trying to do to much and I’m taking some steps to correct it.

Again, not going away… just trying to be better… at everything.

____________________

Write Steve Write! is an occasional blog by author Steve Akley. It should be noted it’s posted as a live feed… no editing, no planning beforehand, it’s typed out and the “publish” button is immediately hit. Apologies for any errors but you get this just as Steve thinks it!

Follow/check-in on Steve in a variety of ways:

Steve’s Catalog on Amazon: http://goo.gl/kJpKcP

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

Sign-up for Bourbon Zeppelin (bourbon newsletter)/See Past Issues: Click here!

ABV Network/A Podcast Channel for Alcohol-Themed Podcastsabvnetwork.com

The Bourbon Show on iTunes: Download it here!

The Bourbon Show on Google Play: Download it here!

The Bourbon Show on Stitcher: Download it here!

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

HOW LONG IS YOUR WRITING “TO-DO” LIST?

On Friday, I sat down and started to write down what I needed to do to get caught up with my writing over the weekend. I stopped at line 15 knowing I already had more than I could accomplish.

When you are self-published author trying to build a personal brand, it’s easy to overwhelm yourself. After all, you are doing the jobs a team would be assisting you with had you gone the traditional route.

The good news is, things are starting to pay-off for me. Hard work is getting recognized. My latest project, The Bourbon Show, which is a podcast/collaboration with Evan Haskill and Seth Brown, is really doing well. People seem to really like it both in terms of feedback received and the all-important download stats.Also, the industry is taking note. We are lining up some incredible guests for future shows.

I honestly don’t know what the endgame is with my writing/online magazine publishing/podcasting career, but I do know it’s fun. Yes, I have a list of over 15 things I need to be doing right now… and I will get to them, but I have to say everything that is going remains something I like to do.

As long as it stays that way, and I continue to work hard, I’m convinced everything else will simply fall into place.

__________________

Write Steve Write! is a weekly blog by author Steve Akley. Typically it is posted on (most) Sundays and features insight about his writing… though there is an occasional movie review or random thought post. It should be noted it’s posted as a live feed… no editing, no planning beforehand, it’s typed out on Sunday morning and the “publish” button is immediately hit. Apologies for any errors but you get this just as Steve thinks it!

Coming Sunday: More random thoughts on my writing career.

In the meantime, follow check in on Steve in a variety of ways:

Steve’s Catalog on Amazon: http://goo.gl/kJpKcP

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

Sign Up for Steve’s SAP News (writing updates) Newsletter: Email Registration

Sign up for Bourbon Zeppelin (bourbon newsletter): Email Registration

Check out the latest issue of Bourbon Zeppelin: See it here!

ABV Network/A Podcast Channel for Alcohol-Themed Podcastsabvnetwork.com

The Bourbon Show on iTunes: Download it here!

The Bourbon Show on Google Play: Download it here!

The Bourbon Show on Stitcher: Download it here!

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

BRAIN TSUNAMI

My latest project is one I’m pretty proud of… it’s called Brain Tsunami. What I like so much about this project is the fact it’s  a collaboration with three other authors: Jenna Brownson, Amanda Hoppes & Samm Lim.

The idea started after my brother-in-law had an accident while biking. He ended up fully recovering from the incident but never did remember what happened to him that fateful night. His explanation was always so simple… “I had an accident” and I always thought it should be so much more. I mean technically he didn’t know what happened. What if aliens took him? What if he saved the free world that night? What if he had an evil twin that came along and tried to kill him and then jump into his idyllic suburban life?

I mean these aren’t likely scenarios, I will admit that, but they might have happened? I mean the one guy there doesn’t know so maybe it did.

That was the concept for the book… take my brother-in-law’s injury and write the “rest” of the story via a series of stories that started and ended the same way.

I chose the collaboration route because I surmised a group would bring fresh perspectives. I might be locked in on a style, but others could bring a totally different feel to the other stories in the book.

My best buddy for discussions like whether this will work or not is Jenna Brownson. She’s a writer, she’s intelligent, she thinks things through… all-in-all, she’s just a great sounding board for these types of things.

What I like so much about Jenna is she holds the same ideals I do. She’s written all of these novels…we’re talking like a car trunk full of novels and she doesn’t do anything with them… because she wants to land a contract and do things her own way.

I love that. We’re going down different paths in that I self-publish and she’s holding out to go the traditional route… but to not seek out some small time publisher that will get it out there but not support it, or publish it herself to get it out there and just let them sit.

That’s pretty cool. I mean she’s talented… it’s going to happen. It just won’t happen, though, until Jenna has found what she’s been looking for.

Anyway, Jenna liked the idea and jumped in right away.

With Jenna’s stamp of approval, I knew it would work so I approached others. Amanda Hoppes is another writer I know. In fact, she write a column in my Bourbon Zeppelin project called The Bourbon Virgin. Her column is proving to be one of the favorites in that publication because I posed the idea of participating with her as a means of personal growth. Amanda, still in her 20s is holding onto the drinks she had in college as her favorite… Bud Light for beer and Cherry Bombs if she wants a mixed drink.

I send her samples… she tries all of them. Writes up a whole column about preparation to try them…and then…she hates everything. Seriously. She’s a columnist in a very popular online magazine for bourbon aficionados and in her column…she basically hates everything about bourbon. It wouldn’t work for 99% of the people… but Amanda pulls it off because she’s honestly is trying. I think she wants to like bourbon… it’s just not for her, but for her love of writing, she’ll try again the next month… then end up spitting it down the kitchen sink admonishing the readers for like that stuff. It’s gold.

Finally, there’s Samm Lim. Samm is one of my longest friendships on social media and she’s usually up for anything (she was the first person I interviewed in my O.P.U.S. interview series on Tumblr).

So the four of us wrote five stories (Samm wrote two) and we published it in a book I titled Brain Tsunami.

100% of the proceeds of this project get donated to Love A Cat Charity in Honolulu, Hawaii. I’ve worked with them since my books started to really taking off in Hawaii (when they really weren’t selling anywhere else).

It would be uber cool if you would pick up a copy yourself and check it out. It’s only a $1.99 on Amazon.

Buy your copy by clicking right here!

_______________________

Write Steve Write! is a weekly blog by author Steve Akley. Typically it is posted on (most) Sundays and features insight about his writing… though there is an occasional movie review or random thought post. It should be noted it’s posted as a live feed… no editing, no planning beforehand, it’s typed out on Sunday morning and the “publish” button is immediately hit. Apologies for any errors but you get this just as Steve thinks it!

Coming Sunday: More random thoughts on my writing career.

In the meantime, follow check in on Steve in a variety of ways:

Steve’s Catalog on Amazon: http://goo.gl/kJpKcP

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

Sign Up for Steve’s SAP News (writing updates) Newsletter: Email Registration

Sign up for Bourbon Zeppelin (bourbon newsletter): Email Registration

Check out the latest issue of Bourbon Zeppelin: See it here!

ABV Network/A Podcast Channel for Alcohol-Themed Podcastsabvnetwork.com

The Bourbon Show on iTunes: Download it here!

The Bourbon Show on Google Play: Download it here!

The Bourbon Show on Stitcher: Download it here!

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

THE BOURBON SHOW – #1!

I’ve already written several times in this blog about the podcast I’ve been working on. Well, on September 1, at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time, it officially launched.

My cohosts Seth Brown, Evan Haskill and I wondered what would happen next. We had listened to some competitors offerings out there and believed we had a superior product to what they were putting out there… but you just don’t know. Are you really objective enough to really provide an evaluation of someone else’s work versus yours?

Not long after the launch, an incredible thing happened next…

We started trending on iTunes… the largest provider in the world of podcast content. When you search the all important (for us) “bourbon” category…we cracked the top 20…then the top 10…then each hour it seemed like we were moving up a notch or two. By dinner, we were ranked #3.

We went to bed with the second most downloaded bourbon podcast. By day two…we hit #1. Our “wildest dream” goal and we made it in two days.

It’s now September 4 as I write this and we did fall back to #2. The biggest competitor on the market has been doing this nearly two years and has over 60 shows. We couldn’t hold that top spot with only one ourselves but it has proved to us we can be #1 and it’s a position we can maintain if we continue to produce a quality offering.

The best part has been the feedback. People love our show. They like the humor…the bourbon talk…the news and our guest Christine Riggleman of Silverback Distillery. Basically, we seemingly have the perfect combo of format and personality.

We look forward to doing this for a long time!

WE HIT #1 ON ITUNES… I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE IT!

_______________________

Write Steve Write! is a weekly blog by author Steve Akley. Typically it is posted on (most) Sundays and features insight about his writing… though there is an occasional movie review or random thought post. It should be noted it’s posted as a live feed… no editing, no planning beforehand, it’s typed out on Sunday morning and the “publish” button is immediately hit. Apologies for any errors but you get this just as Steve thinks it!

Coming Sunday: More random thoughts on my writing career.

In the meantime, follow check in on Steve in a variety of ways:

Steve’s Catalog on Amazon: http://goo.gl/kJpKcP

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

Sign Up for Steve’s SAP News (writing updates) Newsletter: Email Registration

Sign up for Bourbon Zeppelin (bourbon newsletter): Email Registration

Check out the latest issue of Bourbon Zeppelin: See it here!

ABV Network/A Podcast Channel for Alcohol-Themed Podcastsabvnetwork.com

The Bourbon Show on iTunes: Download it here!

The Bourbon Show on Google Play: Download it here!

The Bourbon Show on Stitcher: Download it here!

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

BOURBON – MY BUSINESS

2016-tshirt

I have spent the last 4 days in Kentucky, making the loop from Louisville, down to Loretto and over to Lexington. The area known as the Bourbon Trail. For a person who loves bourbon as much as I do, this is my Disney World. I’ve toured 11 distilleries while I’ve been here.

As much fun as it has been (I did get the cool t-shirt pictured above for visiting all of the distilleries on the Trail), I’ve also come to realize this is my business while I’ve been here. I am sure a couple of tour guides thought here is another disengaged guy going through the motions in life as I had my iPhone out typing away while they were talking during a tour. I wasn’t texting, or playing Pokemon Go, I was taking notes. What I was taking in while I was there is going to help tremendously with Bourbon Zeppelin and two bourbon-themed books I am working on.

I’m in my Louisville hotel now, preparing to head home, but I’m already planning my next trip. There is more I want to see, do and learn. Some of that education will come from going back to some of the places I went to over the past several days. Still more will come from new places I visit. With a multiple bourbon books in the works, a bourbon eMagazine and a bourbon podcast, I will probably want to set up some interviews with key individuals the next time I come as well.

Yep, the Bourbon Trail is going to be my new “home away from home.” That sounds pretty good to me…

After all, bourbon is my business!

_______________________

Write Steve Write! is a weekly blog by author Steve Akley. Typically it is posted on (most) Sundays and features insight about his writing… though there is an occasional movie review or random thought post. It should be noted it’s posted as a live feed… no editing, no planning beforehand, it’s typed out on Sunday morning and the “publish” button is immediately hit. Apologies for any errors but you get this just as Steve thinks it!

Coming Sunday: More random thoughts on my writing career.

In the meantime, follow check in on Steve in a variety of ways:

Steve’s Catalog on Amazon: http://goo.gl/kJpKcP

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

Sign Up for Steve’s SAP News (writing updates) Newsletter: Email Registration

Sign up for Bourbon Zeppelin (bourbon newsletter): Email Registration

Check out the latest issue of Bourbon Zeppelin: See it here!

ABV Network/A Podcast Channel for Alcohol-Themed Podcastsabvnetwork.com

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley