Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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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

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

PODCAST UPDATE

The biggest thing I have going on in my writing career at the moment is my new podcast, “The Bourbon Show.”

“Whoa!”

“Time out!”

“FOUL!”

“WTF?”

Okay, I realize you may initially be confused about a blog, entitled, “Write Steve Write!” updating you on a podcast. It’s a different form of media, right? You didn’t just click on the “Podcast Steve Podcast!” blog… this is supposed to be about writing.

Okay, just hang with me for a moment. I will get to the tie-in very soon.

So, back to the podcast, it was off to a brief rocky start. I’ve partnered with Seth Brown, a person I met through a friend and I know on Instagram to launch the ABV Network, a podcast channel featuring shows with alcohol themes. Our first equipment test failed miserably when I had problems with the electronics. Something was wrong with Skype for me and we couldn’t connect.

We tried again this past week and boom, it worked perfectly. We even recorded our test and Seth put the call together with theme music just to give it a feel for what our show will sound like.

Okay…the writing. Yes, there is writing. In fact, that’s one of the main attributes I bring to the partnership. Seth and I aren’t professionals. We can just flip on the mics, start talking and assume it’s going to be great content. We have to carefully plan, and put together a true show with segments and topics to discuss.

I have everything scripted including the questions for our guest (our format will have a guest from the bourbon industry on each show). We don’t read the script during the show. We want it to be conversational, but it provides us with the guidance we need to deliver a fun, informative and interesting show.

Our final step prior to our first show occurs tonight. We have a Skype meeting with Evan Haskill, who is joining us on The Bourbon Show as our announcer/news reader. Evan will also interact with us on segments throughout the show. Tonight, the three of us get together for the first time. We’ll do a systems check to make sure Seth can work through what he needs for a call with three people on it. We’ve also got a meeting (with an agenda I wrote… see, more writing) to cover all of the small details we need to get this first show out there (what date will it be available, what bourbon we will be drinking on show #1, finalize the script, etc.).

Assuming everything goes well, we tape our first show on Tuesday, August 23.

Like every adventure my writing has taken me on, this is a wild one. I can’t even believe it’s happening.

But it is.

More details soon because you aren’t going to want to miss this show.

_________________

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

Evan Haskill’s Blog: I am a contributor here: thebourbonguyandrye.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

WHAT’S NEXT?

Have just completed a 10 part series reflecting back on my writing, I picked up the laptop this morning and wondered “Where do I go from here?”

It’s interesting that a question about what to write next for this blog is also reflective of my writing in general. Over the next several week I will be publishing 3 books. Brain Tsunami, Bourbon Mixology (volume 3) and Coffee & Holiday Mixology.

These three books represent the culmination of some really hard work. Normally, this would simply get me working on three new projects (maybe 5). With the successful launch of my Bourbon Zeppelin newsletter, and the launch of a podcast network (abvnetwork.com), I have to be much more cautious about what I am doing to ensure I don’t overextend myself.

Once these are published, I’m going to focus solely on two books. One is a collaborative piece with blogger Evan Haskill. This is more of a research piece… something you can do while watching TV. The other is a biography. I’m not saying who it is just yet, but let’s just say it’s going to appeal to my growing audience of bourbon fans.

I am excited about these two new project. I think both are going to be well received and I look forward to what the future brings.

_______________________

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

Evan Haskill’s Blog: I am a contributor here: thebourbonguyandrye.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