Category Archives: writing

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.

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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

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IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 10/10

I have been doing a bit of a retrospective over my three years of writing by listing the top 10 things that have happened to me since I have started writing.

Topics Covered So Far:

#1 of 10 – My O.P.U.S. Blog

#2 of 10 – Bourbon Zeppelin

#3 of 10 – Meeting a Hero of Mine

#4 of 10 – My Love Affair with Hawaii

#5 of 10 – The Time My Books Were Featured on TV

#6 of 10 – The Story I Took 35 Years to Complete

#7 of 10 – Bourbon Mixology

#8 or 10 – Telephone Call with a St. Louis Legend

#9 of 10 – My Social Media Friends/Collaborations

———————————–

In this post…

My Next Adventure

Wow… this is it. I’m already at number 10 and i think I could do 10 more of these. As I close out this series with this post, it’s my hope you take away how much it has meant to me to simply start writing. It all began in late December 2012, after my father passed away. I published my first book in March of 2013. It’s been nothing but a positive experience, or as this series has shown, perhaps better stated a series of positive experiences.

That leads us to one final story here. This one wasn’t in the mix when I started this series. In fact, three weeks ago it wasn’t even something I had on my radar. Yet, here I am today preparing to tell you about my next chapter in my personal brand.

It all started with the release of the July 1 edition of Bourbon Zeppelin, my “all things bourbon” newsletter. In order to increase awareness about this second issue of my start-up publication I did an interview with my social media buddy Evan Haskill for his blog The Bourbon Guy and Rye.

One of the questions Evan asked me was why do I call my book publishing company SAP Entertainment. I went into how I didn’t care about a publisher’s name when I started self-publishing my books so I just called my publisher Steve Akley Publishing (each book must have a publisher listed so as someone who self-publishes, you can create the name of a publishing company or you can just use your own name like I did). I explained that using “Steve Akley Publishing” for books written by Steve Akley can be viewed as a negative by many people who are just inherently against self-publishing. Plus, it limits what I can do with the brand. In the future. I may be helping others publish their books, or I could go into other things an individual can do on their own to build a media brand like podcasting. In fact, I had even toyed with the idea of starting a podcast or  a newsletter prior to launching Bourbon Zeppelin, but went with BZ since I know about writing newsletters and podcasting would involve learning a whole new skillset for the technical components to doing it.

So the answer was about the switch and reasoning behind it from Steve Akley Publishing to SAP Entertainment. Simply put, with SAP Entertainment (SAP being for Steve Akley Publishing) I could do more with it.

One of the people who read that interview was Seth Brown.

At that time, I really only marginally knew Seth Brown. I had interviewed him via email for my O.P.U.S. interview blog (check it out here) but I hadn’t kept up with him after the interview. I really knew him more as a contributor on another of my favorite whiskey blog… The Son of Winston Churchill blog. Seth had been buddies with Hasse Berg, the blogs creator and had recently started working with Hasse on SoWC. For those who read Bourbon Zeppelin, you probably know Hasse Berg as the Associate Editor and columnist there.

If you asked me about Seth Brown three weeks ago, here’s what I would have had for you:

  1. He is a good guy. I knew this from both his relationship from Hasse Berg as well as my interaction with him when I interviewed him for O.P.U.S.
  2. He lives in Atlanta.
  3. He is a contributor on Hasse Berg’s site.

Little did I know this good guy, Atlanta living, buddy of Hasse Berg was reading my interview with Evan Haskill. One thing not on my list of what I knew about Seth Brown was the fact he used to do a podcast. When he read my interview, he had been thinking about getting back in the game so he reached out to me via direct message on Instagram.

His note mentioned he was starting a podcasting network, with all alcohol themed shows and went into some of the details including another guy who would do a beer show. I thought he was pitching me the idea of doing a show on his network. While I mentioned in my interview I wanted to do a podcast, I really guard what I create. I’m big into creating and owning my content. Additionally, I don’t like answering to people about what I’m doing. I want the freedom and control of if I create it…it’s mine. I never factor in money, or future potential into anything I do. It may be shortsighted but for me, but I have a job. Everything I do creatively is done as a hobby, for fun, so I want to do it my own way and I want to retain ownership of that content it’s mine whether it’s a success or a failure.

Since I thought Seth was pitching me on the idea of a show on his network, it was a little grey. I wouldn’t be doing this my way… but he had the knowledge of how to do something I did want to do. Also, this wasn’t a big company where I would be their puppet. It was just a guy doing something on his own.

So, Seth’s inquiry did open up a dialogue.

We went back-and-forth for about a week before I told him I would do it. That’s when Seth said were in this thing 50/50. It’s our network. We both bring things to the table and it’s been a we have been on fast-forward ever since. Seth and I are building a podcast channel which will have shows we are doing as well as others. It’s called the ABV Network, which since it’s all alcohol-themed shows means “alcohol by volume” to the public… but behind the scenes it’s Akley Brown Ventures.

Out of the gate we will have two shows:

  1. The beer show led by Seth’s buddy Wayne.
  2. A yet-to-be-named bourbon show led by Seth and I. Best of all, we have spoken to Evan Haskill, the guy who really got all of this going, and he is going to join us on this show as the announcer and reading the news.

For Seth and I, this couldn’t be any better. I think our skills complement one another’s and there is overlap in keys areas where we need it like creativity, drive and vision. We’ve got a lot of great ideas and big plans. Hopefully, our next show after these two initial ones will be one called Bourbon Zeppelin and we’ll have all of the crew from the newsletter involved.

You can follow all of the progress by following Seth and I on social media or checking our our web page (abvnetwork.com) once it’s up and running.

Like anything I’ve done to date, I don’t know what this opportunity brings, but I do know working with Seth will be fun. If we can bring  our personal happiness to the audience, I think success will find us.

This… like everything else I have shared in this special series has only happened for one reason.

IT’S BECAUSE WRITE!

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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: Back to our regularly scheduled program! 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

IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 6/10

Topics Covered So Far:

#1 of 10 – My O.P.U.S. Blog

#2 of 10 – Bourbon Zeppelin

#3 of 10 – Meeting a Hero of Mine

#4 of 10 – My Love Affair with Hawaii

#5 of 10 – The Time My Books Were Featured on TV

———————————–

Today, I’m going to tell you about a story that took me 35 years to complete…

The first writing assignment I ever got was a one page assignment to write a short fiction story in third grade. My idea was to write this story about two boys, Frank and Dirk, who had heard about this mysterious island called Bear Island. They decided to go off on their own on an adventure to the island.

Doing so meant a  challenging traverse in a kayak on an island they had heard was quite dangerous. Eventually the boys would stumble across the bear that had been the thing of legend in their town.

So I started writing about Frank and Dirk and their friendship. That led to their plan to go to Bear Island. Then I wrote about the the crossing the ocean to get to Bear Island in a kayak. The boys were quickly in over their head when the seas picked up. They paddled harder-and-harder, but the sea was getting angier. Finally, one wave, the size of which the boys had never seen before, lifted them in their kayak and slammed it down onto land. Both boys rendered uncouncious from the impact. Dirk woke up first and shook his friend awake with the line, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island.”

Then…

That was it. I was out of space. My page was full. I blew the assignment. I never even got to the adventure. They never even encountered the bear.

F.

I went to my Mom and asked her what to do. She read my one-page story in my kid handwritten script (no computers back then) and she told me it was really good.

Wait, she didn’t even get it. This wasn’t complete.

I protested telling her there was no adventure. And the bear. What about the bear?

She told me I didn’t need any of that. The adventure was getting there. The plan, the execution, the angry sea. That was my adventure. That was the story. You leave it where they crash land on Bear Island and let the reader imagine the adventure. You set it up with your stories about mystery and intrigue and then you put your characters in the spot. You have left the reader to decide in their minds what happened to those boys.

Hmmmm.

I mean I think she made all of that up, but it didn’t sound bad.

Taking my Mom’s advice, I brought my story to class with me. We actually had to read them to the class and I have to say I was in good form that day. I really accentuated the tossing and turing in that kayak and I really hit the mark with the line, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island.”

Applause. My teacher, Mrs. Varusa, loved it too.

A.

Wow, that really fueled my desire to become a writer. It wouldn’t be anything I ever acted on though until 2012/2013 after my Dad passed away.

That story never left me all of those years. I would often think about Frank and Dirk and their adventure. That line too, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island” just stuck in my head. Like a real movie line where you apply it to everday life (people who are into movie lines will get that reference). For me, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island” would pop into my head for more than 30 years everytime I was on some new adventure. For example, like when I was walking in the door on the first day of my new job back in 1998 at the company I still work for, I remember that line popping into my head, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island.”

Yep, just like Mom said. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but an adventure is coming!

About a year into writing and publishing, I got the idea of publishing short stories. The first one I wrote was the Legend of Bear Island.

Haida Bear

The new, updated Legend of Bear Island has the complete history of the island. It has our boys, Frank and Dirk, go on an adventure and now, finally, we get to see exactly what happened to them after regaining conciousness on the beach.

It’s still one of the favorite things I have ever written. The story is inriguing, funny, adventure-filled and immediately brings me back to the third grade version of myself, crafting that story on lined paper with a pencil, sharing it with my Mom and then reading it to the class.

Finishing this gem, only happened to me because I write!

If you would like to check out the Legned of Bear Island, it is available for your Kindle device by clicking 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: We’ll be continuing on with my “It’s Because I Write” series next week!

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!

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

HUUUUUUUGE BOURBON ZEPPELIN DAY

Recently in this blog we’ve been tracking the 10 greatest things that happened to me since I started writing, we’re taking a one week break to cover some breaking news..

On Friday, July 1, at 6:00 a.m. central time, I launched the second edition of Bourbon Zeppelin.  For anyone not familiar, BZ is my “magazine of newsletters” that is written for bourbon fans by bourbon fans with the following photo announcing it on social media and the tagline, “The second edition of Bourbon Zeppelin is bananas:”

BZ Bananas

Luckily, I had taken the day off of work to extend the holiday weekend. In following a “bananas theme” my world pretty much went ape ______!

Immediately, people started reaching out saying how great the issue was. My buddy Evan Haskill made a comment about Instagram being all about Bourbon Zeppelin at one point. It sure seemed that way. I literally couldn’t keep up with all of the posts that were going on about it.

I had people from various bourbon distilleries/bourbon-related products say they would send items for future consideration. The coolest one was Glencairn Glass (the preferred bourbon tasting glasses). They are actually carrying my Bourbon Zeppelin glass on their site now. Check it out:

Bourbon Zeppelin Glencairn GlassYou can see it on Glencairn’s site by clicking here.

One of the coolest things was a short note from my buddy Jenna Brownson. She’s not a bourbon drinker, but she said she enjoyed the issue, in particular my “special report” on the bourbon secondary market. It was just cool to hear someone from outside of the bourbon crew to like what we are doing.

Speaking of Jenna. She loves numbers. Well, when it comes to BZ, I love them as well. My Associate Editor for BZ is a funny, yet serious when it comes to business, gent named Hasse Berg. Together, we live and die by these numbers.

Here’s some cool stats. Our Facebook likes doubled after BZ was published (It was a small base, but cool nonetheless). Our first issue had been published on June 1. It took from June 1 – June 29 to get the number of readers we had in second issue in just two days. Our database of email addresses has doubled in size from June 1 – July 1 all based on people signing up on their own to received BZ emailed directly to them. We had over 100 people on the day issue 2 was released go back and read issue 1.

How about all of that?

Perhaps best of all, we’re being taken seriously in the distilled spirits world. Some of the largest bourbon distillers in the U.S. have us on their P.R. lists. Our reviews are already appearing on the web. Check out this example from Cadee Distillery:

Cadee

I knew we had a fantastic thing going with Bourbon Zeppelin. I had no idea the rest of the world would find out about it so quickly.

PLEASE CHECK OUT BOURBON ZEPPELIN IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE SO ALREADY. YOU CAN READ THE LATEST ISSUE BY CLICKING HERE!

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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: We’ll be continuing on with my “It’s Because I Write” series next week!

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!

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 4/10

You know how when they have a two-parter on your favorite show they start out the second episode with a mini recap of episode one in case you missed it? Well, the recap for my first three entries of my 10 part series focusing on the great things that have happened to me as a result of writing is as follows…

So far we’ve covered my O.P.U.S. interview series, my Bourbon Zeppelin newsletter and meeting one of my heroes in Dick Dale.

Okay, you’re all caught up.

The area I want to focus on today is the love I got from the residents of the State of Hawaii early on in my writing career.

When you are just getting started as an independent author you literally just want your books to sell… to somebody… anybody.

It’s true; it’s a difficult process getting yourself noticed as an indie author. In fact, writing is the easy part. Marketing… that’s the really tough part.

Luckily for me, I stumbled into a mutual love affair with the State of Hawaii that really bolstered my confidence in my writing early on. It all started with my Small Brand America series which focused on small companies competing against larger companies on grocer’s shelves. I had written two editions of the book and started working on a third. For some reason I had queried several companies based in Hawaii and all had agreed to do the book so I began thinking maybe the whole book should be companies based in the Aloha State. That’s a whole new twist to the challenges small companies face. Now they were not only competing against larger, better funded companies, they had the huge obstacle of being in a remote island location as well.

That book, Small Brand America: Special Hawaii Edition, truly helped turn the corner for me with my writing. It was my first minor victory. Not only did it make a few newspapers in Hawaii generating my first publicity as a writer, I also got a nice spike in sales from the companies featured. Since Hawaii is such a tourist friendly locale, many of these manufacturing companies also have stores where they sell goods directly to consumers along with some touristy-type souvenirs. Many started carrying my books there.

The love affair with Hawaii really took off as I was finishing SBA III. At that time, I had started writing short stories. I came up with the detective story involving the murder of a celebrity. Surveillance video captured everyone coming into or leaving the home so police had the murderer on tape, they just didn’t know who the right person was as multiple people from gardeners, to maids, to delivery people came and went regularly from this person’s house. One of the cities I had written about in SBA III was Kilauea. I loved the name, The Killer in Kilauea…it just had the right ring to it so it became the name of the story.

One of the people I had met through my SBA III story was a woman named Cas Schwabe. She’s got a great personal story. She’s an actress/chef who works as a personal chef to several big name stars when they come to Kauai (Woddy Harrelson and Mathew McConnaughy). She started her own juice company that featured in-home delivery. It’s a small company so this means Cas can often be found delivering the juice she makes. Needing to have characters coming and leaving the home of the celebrity in my book A Killer in Kilauea, I asked Cas if she would mind being a character in it. She happened to live in Kilauea so it truly was perfect.

She accepted my invite to do so and she became a character in my short story. Once again, this got a lot of publicity in Hawaii, with an article about Cas and her role as a character in my story appearing in the newspaper on Kauai.

At this time, I had several short stories and a handful of books published. Almost all of my sales were in Hawaii. Not even my home state of Missouri could compare to the numbers I was racking up in the South Pacific.

I had my family from my children’s book Leo the Coffee Drinking Cat move to Hawaii in the book, Leo the Coffee Drinking Cat Moves to Hawaii. Finally, when I wrote a novel, it had to be there as well. My book Pa’u Hana features two buddies living in Kauai trying to get into the movie business. (By the way, Cas Schwabe once again appeared in this book…a least a half-biographical/half-fiction version of her).

With the success of Bourbon Mixology (still the 5th ranked bourbon book on Amazon today) my sales are no longer skewed to being mostly from Hawaii. Still, this doesn’t diminish my love for our 50th state and the confidence the residents gave me so early in my career.

_______________________

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: We’ll be continuing on with my “It’s Because I Write” series next week!

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 Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley