Tag Archives: blog

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.

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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

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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.

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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

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 ALL WORKING

There are times when I have an internal battle about this blog. My default posting is best summed up in three words:

I’m __________ busy!

No, that’s not an open spot for an expletive. It’s a blank for an adjective that could be interchanged based on how busy I am with “super” being the lowest setting. It’s kind of like movies have Medium, Large and Jumbo size sodas now.

“Wait, where’s the small?”

“Sir, that’s the medium.”

“The medium is not the medium?”

I don’t want to do some sort of Abbott and Costello routine… you get the idea.

So, when I sit down for my weekly Sunday blog, my first thought is, “I’m going to write about how busy I am…I’m super busy. I’m mega busy. I’m ultra busy. I’m Tyrannosaurus Rex busy.”

“Time out. Tyrannosaurus Rex doesn’t fit your three word busy format Steve.”

Why do I have to have such a smart readership to this blog?

Okay, so I’m not ever Tyrannosaurus Rex busy, but I am always busy and I typically have to fight off the notion to just write about that. Who cares? I mean this is what I signed up for. Everything I’m doing is because I assigned it to myself.

Okay, so I’m chipmunk busy right now, but we’re not talking about that.

What we’re talking about is how great things are going right in my writing career right now.

It’s more than just the books I am working on too. Those are going great. It’s more than the Bourbon Zeppelin newsletter I’ve been talking about as well. That’s going great, too.

“What else is going great?” you ask.

Things.

That’s right, things are just going great right now. In addition to the projects I’ve been talking about my O.P.U.S. interviews are really getting a lot of attention. People really like what I’m doing. I’m 47 interviews into this social experiment and for some reason it’s just taking off.

I woke up to a direct message today, for instance, on Instagram from a person telling me how special those interviews are and to keep on doing it. Little things like that really make the effort so worthwhile.

Recently, my buddy Hasse Berg, a blogger from Denmark I am friends with from Instagram interviewed me for his website. I really took the time to answer his questions and the response from that interview has been fantastic. Hasse reports a 70% uptick in traffic on his site since it’s been posted. That’s amazing. Check out my Hasse Berg interview on his blog by clicking here.

Besides all of this great stuff going on the friendships I continue to make are awesome. It’s truly been a pleasure getting to know so many new people from Twitter and Instagram.

With all of this great stuff going on, I would say things are going pretty well. It may even be safe to say things are even Tyrannosaurus Rex well right now.

_______________________

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: I don’t know what I’ll be talking about on here next week, but something will come up I am sure.

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

 

 

 

ZOMBIES + BOURBON

 

Zombie Sign

Recently, I did the impossible. I managed to combine two personal and seemingly unrelated favorites together and it was the best thing since peanut butter met chocolate.

Yep, I managed to combine zombies and bourbon.

I’m on the team over at Evan Haskill’s thebourbonguyandrye.com blog. I put together a post where I, Evan and the Bourbon Virgin rated some of our friends bourbon hoards in terms of preparedness for the zombie apocalypse.

For some reason this piece just worked. I guess it was just the perfect storm of everything working. Obviously, the bourbon component is a no-brainer. People who are reading a bourbon blog expect that part of the equation. I would say zombies are probably as hot as they ever have been based on the number of TV shows dedicated to them so it’s a safe bet to loop them in.

There were a couple of keys that really made the piece work. First, our friends are awesome. They provided us the photos whether they had a great stash or not knowing we were going to be evaluating and judging them in a public forum. That’s pretty cool.

Second, the solid writing of Evan Haskill and Amanda Hoppes, combined with our banter back-and-forth made this comedy gold.

If you haven’t done so already, hop on over to thebourbonguyandrye.com and check it out!

_______________________

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: I don’t know what I’ll be talking about on here next week, but something will come up I am sure.

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

Home Phone: I’m not giving you that!

MY OTHER LOVE

You know, you can never quite be sure where life is going to take you. A while back, I made the bold move to write about something that I deeply love: that “something” is bourbon. For those of you who are regular readers here, you have read about my success in self-publishing on Amazon, Bourbon Mixology, and my most recent project, Bourbon Zeppelin.

I’m going to venture a guess that many of you find yourselves here reading these words in the hopes that I will share a new “must-have” offering or point you to a wonderful new way to enjoy this magical elixir.

Not today.

Because I think today it’s important for you to understand that I made a difficult choice some time ago. There are, in fact, two things I truly love, but presuming one would gain more traction than the other, I chose bourbon over my other love.

Had it been a different morning, had I been in a gentler mindset, had I the courage to take the “road less travelled,” I may have put bourbon to the side and chosen differently. Alas, I did not, but I am here today to tell you about that secret love of mine.

I am a noodler.

At first blush, you might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, who doesn’t like a big plate of spaghetti,” or maybe you prefer something a little more exotic, say udon or lo mein. And while I have always been a huge fan of carbs, I’m not talking about pasta.

Noodling is not about something as trivial and mundane as loving a certain sort of food.

Noodling is a lifestyle, a passion, a love.

For those of you not familiar, noodling is basically fishing with your hands. A noodler feels around snake-infested water with his hands and feet searching for a large hole. Then, the noodler goes underwater to ram his fist into the discovered hole. The result is usually the sensation of teeth latching onto the noodler’s hand. You see, the hole is the catfish’s home and it chomps on the intruder to get it to go away. But we noodlers don’t shy away from this attempt to scare us off. The latching on by the catfish is the signal to the noodler to start with the extraction. The noodler then has the task of dragging his catch—still latched onto his arm—out of the water and either onto shore, or into a boat. This must be done quickly, and certainly quickly enough so that the submersed noodler does not run out of breath. If the noodler can retrieve his arm from the grip of the catfish’s many teeth, then he’s having fish for dinner.

I might have chosen to write about the fifty greatest noodling adventures I’ve been on. (I have hundreds to choose from.) I might have even thought to tell about the minor amputation I suffered over a thirty-two pound Massachusetts bottom dweller. Had I gone the noodle route, I could have written volumes of recipes and shared tips for long-term storage of catfish who weigh in over twenty pounds. My largest “pull”—that’s what we call it—was a sixty-four pounder out of the Tennessee River. I’ve got two deep scars to solidify the memory, and the smell of that beast roasting over the July campfire will not soon be forgotten.

April 1

Here I am, pulling a good one!

There is a lot of information out there on noodling. Some good, some bad. I long considered becoming a force of advocacy for the ancient skill.

But instead, I went with my other love. Bourbon.

I’m not sure if it was the better choice. But I had to pick one: there simply isn’t time in one’s short lifespan to do justice to both.

Please know that every time I raise my snifter to sample a new variation on this beverage, I silently toast the catfish—both those I caught and those that didn’t try to scare me away by latching on. It is not lost on me that those who remained quiet kept themselves safe in their silence.

Not ever once did one scream out, and certainly there was never an occasion when I heard anything that sounded even remotely like: “APRIL FOOLS!”

This is not Steve Akley writing this post. This is his friend and fellow writer Jenna Brownson. Steve came up with this idea to guest blog—or maybe guest blog bomb—today. I was happy to play along.

You can find me blogging at www.jennabrownson.com, tweeting under @jennabrownson, and facebooking at jenna.brownson.author.

You get good ol’ Steve back with his next post. Ask him to share the photo of his chomped right pinky finger.

Happy April 1st.

See where Steve took over Jenna’s blog for April Fool’s Day 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: My fiscal year ends April 1st. What am I spending my book money on this year?

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

Home Phone: I’m not giving you that!

WORD FOR 2016: COLLABORATION

This year is shaping up very different than my first three years in writing. Looking back, with the benefits of hindsight, year one was kind of a mess. I spent as much time trying to figure out how to publish and market as I did writing. Being all by myself, I made plenty of mistakes. The word for that year was clearly: LEARNING.

Year two could be best defined by a lack of improvement in finding customers. I felt like I know had the mechanics down. The mistakes in marketing inefficiently were behind me but, still, I wasn’t finding an audience. I continued to work hard to produce quality offerings in my work. I would call the word for year two: GRINDING.

Year three… well that’s when it all came together. Some of the marketing efforts I now was doing were working. Social media became incredibly important for me and I really started selling books, most notably with by best selling book Bourbon Mixology. The word for year three: STRIDE.

Year four looks like another step in a positive direction for me with some truly awesome things in the works, most of which involve my friends I’ve met through social media. That’s why the word for this year is clearly COLLABORATION. It seems almost everything I am working on right now involves a collaboration.

Some of simple bouncing ideas off of someone just to make sure you are on the right track. I’ve found that can be so difficult to do in evaluating yourself. My go-to person for advice is my buddy, and fellow blogger Jenna Brownson. What’s great about Jenna is she’s incredibly smart, very opinionated, very willing to share her opinions but she also listens. If you explain why you are doing something she will factor that into her help. Jenna is simply perfection when it comes to having a friend who can help you behind the scenes… even though I am sure I can drive her crazy much of the time.

Another collaborator is my buddy from Instagram Evan Haskill. Evan started a blog called thebourbonguyandrye.com. It was initially set-up as a way for Evan to just write about bourbon. Then, he started to expand the scope of what he was doing by having some of his friends from Instagram starting to contribute. I joined his crew and have written a few articles for him. I even had another friend of mine from Instagram get involved. She had was talking about my affinity for bourbon and mentioned she had never tried it but was interested in finally jumping in and seeing what all of the craze was about. She was literally a bourbon virgin. That concept immediately got me to thinking… what if we gave her a list of bourbon cocktails, had her mix them up and try them while blogging about the whole thing for Evan’s site. I hooked her up with my buddy Mark Hansen who is my graphic designer. Check out this awesome logo he designed for her (yes, she’s a redhead):

BOURBON_VIRGIN.jpg

The Bourbon Virgin made her debut on on Evan’s site earlier this week and I think it’s awesome. It adds a whole new element to the mix for the site. Now we have bourbon cocktails being shared as well as a fresh take on them from someone who hasn’t tried them before.

What was the response to her debut? Well, we already had another site trying to lure her away to blog for them. Luckily, the Bourbon Virgin is staying put and can only be found on thebourbonguyandrye.com.

Just last week I posted about my collaboration with 10 other authors on my upcoming Brain Tsunami book. I’ve also looped in artists and a photographer into SAP News, the newsletter designed to update my readers on what’s happening with my writing. I’ve also spoken a little bit about Bourbon Zeppelin another collaborative project I’m working on. I am not really sharing the full details on that one just yet, but I can tell you that I have 13 friends working with me on that one.

Yep, for 2016, the word is definitely COLLABORATION.

THE QUESTIONS OF O.P.U.S.

I’ve got a good one for you here today…

First off, I have to say I’m having a helluva good time with my O.P.U.S. blog. Thus far, I’ve managed to stay in contact with everyone featured. I really am getting new friends via this social experiment.

Yes, you do always have to redefine “friend” when you are talking about the relationships developed online. This is challenging for some people, but, I’ve always segmented friendships in my mind. Your true “friends” are people in your everyday lives with whom you interact with because you enjoy them as a person and their company.

Another already existing segment of friendships, at least for me, is work friends. Over time, you develop relationships at work… people you just like to be around. Some of the relationships may carry over into your life outside of work where they become “real friends,” but most stay in the 8:00 – 5:00 realm of when you are working.

The newest friend-type is online frienships. These friendships don’t carry the baggage you may encounter with face-to-face relationships. It’s almost like the joy you hear grandparents discussing. They get the best times with their grandchildren, then when they are fussy, or they just want to do something without children, the kids go back to the parents. Same thing with online. Enter into that world when it suits you, exit when you’ve had enough.

I think one of the key drivers in establishing relationships with the people featured in my new blog is the questions. They are meant to be fun without being offensive and never intended to make fun of the person. I always say it’s like the two of us are having dinner and just talking.

Wait a second, you may be thinking dinner conversation never involves me answering “who the worst celebrity is in the history of celebrity” or asking me to rank my favorite cookies from a list.

Well, clearly you’ve never had dinner with me. For me, that’s exactly what dinner conversation is like. The premise for O.P.U.S. is a genuine one. I am truly fascinated with regular people… especially those who say they aren’t interesting. Clearly, those people are so fascinating they don’t want to share it, right?

I’m a believer that the way you get to the interesting stuff is to simply get people talking. If you say, “what are your hobbies” or “what do you like to do outside of work,” these questions are so commonplace you almost get canned answers from people. In our minds, it’s kind of like we have a rolodex of commonly asked questions and we draw upon that anytime these questions come up.

If you throw people a curve… something they haven’t asked before, then you might just find something out about the person way more interesting than the fact they enjoy reading, knitting and singing show tunes in their spare time.

Everyone seems to be enjoying the interviews at this point…me, the person being interviewed and those who are accessing them from Twitter and Instagram. I think I’m even up to 9 people now following me on Tumblr. These are people who likely found the interviews on their own and like them. While it’s a small number, I do like the fact there are people without a connection to me finding the interviews and liking them enough to follow me so they are sure to see all of them.

I do have some go-to questions I like to ask everyone… what they do for a living, where they are from, who would play them in a movie about their life. I think it’s great to have some consistency, plus it might be fun to look back and see how everybody answered the questions that carry over from interview-to-interview.

The real signature O.P.U.S. questions, though, are the crazy ones. I do have to say, it took a bit for me to hit my stride. Not because I didn’t think of the types of questions I really like, I was terrified of peoples responses to being asked them. It’s really tough, when you have no track record, to ask people funny questions. They just might think you are an internet-nut and move on. I feel like now, with a nice group of regular people answering these questions, and me retaining those relationships, my non “internet-nut” status is confirmed so I can ask away.

I’d like to present you now with my favorite 10 questions so far (presented in random order). For the answers, you need to proceed to steveakley.tumblr.com. Note that not all of these are posted just yet. I’ve got 11 posted so far an another 10, or so, waiting to be posted on my way to 100 when the project ends.

#1 – Tall Samm Lim – Tall Samm started it all for me. I had no idea how she was going to react with a request for an interview, especially because I couldn’t reference her to anything else, it was just an idea. Looking back, this one was pretty vanilla, but my favorite question for Samm was:

What’s your favorite nightmare dating story? – What a great way to just get a person talking about a story you know is going to be funny.

 

#2 Ray Taylor – Ray Taylor is a person I play the game Dice with Buddies with. He was just a random computer generated opponent that I’ve managed to continue to play against for quite a while. My favorite question for Ray was this one, which was the start of a reoccurring theme:

If you had your choice of being banned for life from one of these, which would you choose (remember, your selection means you never get to have this item or person again): A. Pizza  B. Sunglasses  C. Kate Upton – I love this question for a few reasons. First, it makes no sense. I mean how are you getting banned from these things anyway? Secondly, it was the introduction of Kate Upton into the questions. I think Kate Upton is, well she’s all right, let’s just say that. People don’t like her, though. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why. We can’t like someone who is attractive? We are jealous? I don’t know. What fascinates me about Kate is the fact one society is fascinated, yet negative about you, it then people often become anti-you just because that’s what everyone else does so I like asking about Kate to get a feel for how the person really is. My personal stand, I don’t care what society tells me I should think about Kate Upton, I just like her myself, so, for me, I guess I’d be banned from wearing sunglasses the rest of my life if this question was posed to me.

 

#3 Jenna Brownson – For Jenna, her question was more of a situation. Jenna is smart so I wanted to give her something really unique. Not even ask her a question, but pose her a situation and see how she reacted. If it isn’t a traditional Q&A would she quickly follow-up with a “where’s the question?” Check it out:

Waiter: “And for a side?”

Jenna: “Well, what are my choices?”

Waiter: “Homemade chips, curly fries, regular fries, seasoned fries, green beans or a side salad.” 

Jenna’s response was pure gold! She definitely came out on top of this battle of the wits.

 

#4 Mike Swain – The notable question from Mike’s interview was:

If you see someone fall down…nothing heinous like a serious injury, but there may be some significant bruising or ankle twisting, is your first inclination to be concerned with their well being or to laugh? – The ironic twist here being Mike is an x-ray technician. What are the chances I ask a person who helps injured people for a living a question like that?

 

#5 Stephanie Adlington – I feel kind of bad for Stephanie. She caught me on this crazy day and the questions I asked her were way out there. My favorite is:

Worst scenario for you:

  1. You walk into a restaurant called the “Condiment Cafe” and you realize they are out of all condiments except for ketchup… and the real killer is they don’t even have Heinz. They have Brooks…and that’s not even ketchup by the way…it’s catsup.
  2. You are dating a guy and he tells you he has made dinner and you look in the trash can and his “homemade” soup is Campbell’s red-and-white label chicken noodle (he did add parmesan and a bit of cracked black pepper to punch it up slightly).
  3. You get a job at the zoo and on day one they are all like, “Until Lester gets back the use of his left arm from that forearm strike you are going to have to take care of the King Cobra.”

This started a whole new line of questioning where I use the “worst scenario”. Look for this in several of the interviews.

 

#6 Lauren Elizabeth – Lauren is a photographer from Australia. My favorite question of her is a great one:

What does the stereotypical American look like? – I know that’s a loaded question and it was one Lauren really struggled with. She asked friends and family to have some input and she was worried the responses were way to harsh. When you ask for a “stereotype” you get kind of this worst case scenario where no one actually believes it, but it always just hangs out there. It is fun to hear what Aussies think of Americans…at least us at our worst via stereotypes.

 

#7 – Sarah Mitchell-Jackson – Sarah is the nicest person in the world. Despite her title, she’s still cool. You don’t normally see nice and cool staying together. Sarah’s got that going on so when I asked her this, I had no idea what she’d say:

If you joined the circus, what would your job be? – Sarah, as you can imagine, put together a well thought out answer!

 

#8 – Tina Williams – Tina Williams’ upcoming interview was unique in that it was a “friend of a friend.” Tina is the blogging buddy of Jenna Brownson, but we also follow each other on Twitter so I reached out to here. I like this question from that interview:

If the Antiques Roadshow came to town, what would you bring in for them to take a look at? – It’s just a cool question because it helps you find out a little about the person, and what potential undiscovered gem they may have.

 

#9 – Six Feet of Dynamite – Dynamite is an awesome person. She’s a character too. If you read through her entire feed you see a person who is passionate, fun and a good family person. That’s perfection  in my book. My personal favorite:

Six feet of dynamite. That’s name has a significant amount of punch to it. Are you the real deal or are perhaps really something like 5’-10 ½” and realized that didn’t have the right ring when you said it? – I mean she’s either going to like this question and see the humor in it, or she’s going to think I’m a real tool. Luckily, she like it and Dynamite and I are good friends who continue to check-in on each other from time-to-time.

 

#10 – The Dawn Husted – My longest online friendship. A true bud.  I like this long drawn out gem:

You are an outdoor enthusiast. Say your backpack for an overnighter only had room for three of the following, which of the three do you take (no need to overthink it, so if you select the ribeye, for instance, there is some sort of way to prepare it on this trip, an essentials like water and other provisions are already packed…these are your luxury items): 1). A Bottle of Bourbon 2). Your Hairbrush  3). A Ribeye  4). A Eyeliner  5). A Package of Fruit Stripe Gum 6). An Oversized Bottle of a Limited Edition Beer 7). A Book from Your Favorite Author 8). A Journal to Write In/Pen 9). A Bottle of Wine 10). A Bottle of Rum – I loved Dawn’s answer too. She’s no diva. 100% cool cat that one is! (Yes, I know that last sentence isn’t really correct, but it sounds cool, right?)

With 80 more interviews still to go, there are plenty of unique questions still to be asked. I hope you check out O.P.U.S. if you haven’t already!

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Next week we’ll take a look at where I’m at in my writing career. It’s self-assessment time!

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 Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Home Phone: I’m not giving you that!

THE EPIC TREATMENT OF OPUS

Recently, I started a new endeavor over on Tumblr which is part blog, part social experiment and part self-therapy. I’ll touch on all of this in what I’ve titled the EPIC TREATMENT OF OPUS because I’m really covering everything there is to know about this fun new adventure.

One of the biggest challenges I face and an independent author is the fact the only way someone is going to ever hear about my work is if they hear it from me. This can directly through interaction with me, or perhaps via another person I have been in contact with. There is no publishing house behind me. No literary agent getting my name out there. I don’t have a P.R. person releasing statements about me. It’s all me.

This is one of those unique situations which become exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. It’s exhausting because it’s hard. Even if you “touch a person” (get your message directly to them), often they still won’t read anything you’ve written simply because they haven’t ever read anything you’ve written.

That’s a conundrum, right?

So where does the exhilarating quotient come in? Well, I have to tell you, every time your author’s page on the vendors you sell your books through adds another tic mark in the sold column, it’s exciting. It truly never gets old. I went to bed last night around midnight, got up at 4:18, the first thing I checked online was those author pages. Two books sold… while I was sleeping. Somehow I sold those two books. Maybe it was a post on social media which got someone interested. Maybe it was a great title capturing the imagination of a couple of buyers. Perhaps it was an awesome write up in the description. Who know? Let’s not forget I was sleeping when this happened. Imagine how many I’ll sell today while I’m awake and productive!

This all leads to how I got started with OPUS. I was looking for a new way to reach people. I wanted to try yet another platform to accomplish this. In the last three years when I started writing, I’ve gone from never having been involved in social media at all to systematically getting involved in Twitter, Facebook, Word Press, Mail Chimp, Instagram and now Tumblr.

My “new” idea was actually an old one for me. I’m a believer in a couple of things:

1). I like meeting new people. All kinds of people. People who share my interests and people who don’t. I want to talk to everyone. Can’t you learn more from people who don’t share your common interests anyway than those who do?

This leads directly to my second point…

2). All people are interesting. It’s true. A lot of people love celebrity gossip. Not me. I want to know the personal story of the person who just put three heartbreak symbols on Twitter. I want to talk to the person who runs the Instagram account which only has wedding photos, yet likes every photo I post, even though I have nothing about weddings. If I could talk to these people, then I want to know everything. What do they do for a living? What TV shows do they watch? When they decorate for Christmas, do they just do a tree and a few items here and there, or do they go all out? If they don’t celebrate Christmas, can they tell me about the traditions of their beliefs?

It just doesn’t stop. It’s just how I think.

The idea for OPUS sprouted from this natural curiosity I have. I knew I was going to do something like this and I was toying with “ordinary people and their stories.” Then it came to me, “Ordinary People, Unusual Stories” or OPUS. According to Google’s online dictionary, one of the definitions of the word opus is, “Any artistic work, especially on a large scale.”

Perfection.

It should be noted, I truly love the idea of meeting new people and it’s not the first time I’ve tried to do something like this. Two times in the last 10 years (before I even started writing books) I wrote to this local rag of a newspaper we have asking if they wanted a guy to write for them who saw interesting things around town and approached the individuals for an interview. For instance, there used to be a person who lived near me who had a giant Statue of Liberty replica in their front yard. Huge. Like 20 feet tall.

Where they transplanted New Yorkers?

French nationals?

Simply patriotic?

I don’t know. Sadly, I’ll never know. The newspaper never bothered responding. I even took one last shot at this when I started writing. Right here. Yes, I mean literally. On this screen on which you are reading right now was to be a blog called St. Louis Neighbors. I was going to take my newspaper idea and just produce it myself. There was a little bit of a weird vibe going with approaching people, without the credential of being with a local newspaper though. Knocking on someone’s door and saying, “Hi, I’m Steve, your house is cool and I want to write a blog.” I’m thinking I’m getting like 2% saying yes, 50% never opening the door, 45% slamming the door in my face and the final 3% calling 9-11.

My idea to overcome this was a beautiful letter. Explaining how I was just starting writing and wanted to organically grow readers, how I was interested in talking to them. etc. blah blah, Sincerely, Steve Akley. Kissy face. Second kissy face and then closed with a heart symbol.

Okay, no kissy faces or heart symbols, but I did compose a letter lining out what I wanted to do and why I had contacted them. Man, I went all out. I took the 20 most interesting houses I could find in the greater Oakville area. I had that one house that looks like the Brady Bunch house. I had the Portland House, where it looked like the place was just dropped from Oregon including the bees in the backyard. I locked-in on the one place where the guy is trying to build a gothic castle. Clearly, the woman who is trying to recreate a Victorian-era mansion, complete with gardens would want to be featured, right?

Anyway, I found 20 great places. I sent out 20 letters.

My responses: 0.

Maybe I shoulda done the kissy faces and hearts.

With that dream officially shattered, I changed the name of this blog to Write Steve Write! and started blogging weekly about my writing.

1,070 words and I’m not even to the details of OPUS yet. I told you this one was EPIC.

So I came back to my idea of getting to know strangers with the launch of OPUS on Tumblr. My goal with this new vehicle is to get to know people on a very informal basis. I ask them questions, most would probably only ask if they had known people for a very long time. Nothing too intrusive, or inappropriate mind you, just fun little scenarios.

I think it really gives greater insight into the person than some more conventional line of questions. I feel like I really know the person when they participate in these brief Q&A sessions.

You may wonder how I find the people I feature. It’s all through social media. I can’t say I’ve written down rules for finding people, but I do have some unwritten guiding principles I use.

1). They must be connected to me on social media. I don’t attempt to reach outside of my personal groups to find anyone.

2). The person has to be over 21. Again, none of the question ever have, nor ever will be inappropriate in nature. It’s just something doesn’t feel right about inquiring anyone below 21. I’ve got an 18 year old daughter. If I came home one day and she was typing on the couch and I asked her what she was doing and she responded by saying, “I’m doing an interview for some guy on Twitter,” I’m not thinking I’m like that as a father. Well, I treat individuals with the same respect and courtesy I would want afforded to my own daughter, so no one under 21 (since I don’t know these individuals if I can’t tell, I simply don’t ask).

3). They have to be interesting. The people who share the dumb lists on Twitter don’t interest me. You know the “click bait” with dumb titles, like 20 Greatest Celebrity Asses, Number 4 is a Real Shocker. This doesn’t interest me. In fact, I just mute as many of those as I can.

4). Finally, they have to be nice. The underlying message to the OPUS blog is there are great people out there. Everyone is jaded about people on the internet. I don’t want everyone to totally let their guard down as there clearly are bad people out there, but don’t lock out everyone. There are great people out there. I’m just getting started with OPUS and I have to tell you, it’s mind blowing. People are genuinely nice and willing to help out.

Of course, this leads to the discussion of, “What’s it like reaching out to strangers?”

Kind of like marketing your work as an author, it’s exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I don’t ever want to anger anyone. I’m just trying to meet some new people and introduce a new audience to my work. Besides the potential to anger people, I realize there are also two other potential scenarios I’m not fond of either. The first being is what is this guy’s true motive? Is he trying to swindle me in some way? The other being worse even than that, is he a creep?

I had this great exchange with Lauren Elizabeth on Instagram this week (she said I could use her name on here by the way). She’s actually going to be in upcoming OPUS interview. As I approached her to be in my OPUS blog, she talked about the number of guys who contact her innocently enough at first, then it quickly transitions to send me some nude shots or “let’s meet.”

Lauren

Lauren Elizabeth in front of my personal favorite of her photos, “The Camel Selfie”

It turns out Lauren is a hobbyist photographer who travels all over the globe, both for work as well as personal travel. Another passion of mine is art. I’m a big fan of painters, sculptors and photographers. In addition to the final product of the art they create, it never ceases to amaze me how these individuals see things just a little differently. Photographers like Lauren have this unique ability to look through their eyes in a different manner than the rest of us to capture what’s interesting in the moment.

Sample of Lauren's Work

Sample of Lauren’s work. Does this stuff not look like it belongs in National Geographic?

What I love, love, love about Lauren’s work is the fact she writes the story of her pictures. Not in some sort of stiff clinical manner you might see in a text book, but instead, from a human perspective, telling you what she was doing that day. What was going well, what wasn’t. What was funny about the day.

It’s literally a look at what I find so fascinating. How does Lauren see things differently than I do? How can she grab these great shots when I never would, even if we were in the same place at the same time?

That’s a person I want to get to know. Hello… OPUS!

Do you not want to know Lauren, and people like her, too? OPUS.

I do think it provides the new blog of mine has the potential to provide a service. I mean Lauren who spoke so openly about how many people she just ignores because of the issues she’s had. Luckily, we had been connected early on for both of us in Instagram (I looked it up, she was my 10th follower), she felt comfortable responding to my request. I’m thinking she might be more apt to engage with someone if they read about her on OPUS because their interest in her would likely come from what was interesting about her from the interview. She could connect to some nice people and not just those seeking something a little more illicit.

A connection like that delivers everything I could have ever wanted from this project and much more. I feel like I’m a better rounded person from expanding my connections and relationships beyond the circle of people I have simply just always known.

Not everyone says yes to my requests. I get a few nos and I’m okay with that. I don’t want anyone to get interviewed if they are uncomfortable in doing so. Those that have said no have been very polite and we’ve left it on good terms.

The ones I don’t like have been no response at all. I just feel bad. Have I intruded on their personal time? Do they think I’m a weirdo?

While I’m having an incredible amount of fun doing this so far, I realize their is a shelf-life for everything. In fact, for some reason it hit me yesterday. 100. I’m retiring the OPUS concept with 100 interviews.

Don’t worry, I’m only five into this social experiment. Even though it won’t go on forever, there’s still plenty of time to meet new people, make new friends and maybe one day you’ll be getting an incredibly polite request from me to appear in an upcoming interview.

It’s legit.

I’m not a weirdo.

No kissy faces or heart symbols will be included.

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OPUS can be found at: steveakley.tumblr.com

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Thanks to all for reaching out to me about the loss of all of my files with the corrupted flash drive last week. There wasn’t one negative Tweet or direct message. In fact, nothing but kindness.

I am humbled and honored to have such support come my way.

Next week in Write Steve Write! I face the demons of this traumatic experience by finally opening up my Architect of Passion book, the only file I completely lost. I have a saved version, but it was done before 8+ hours of changes with the subject of the book, a deep revision by an editor and the creation of several new chapters. I’ve been dreading opening up the file and trying to get it back where it was before the tech crash. I’m off work on Monday, it’s all I’m doing.

I’ll write about that experience here next week!

 

 

 

 

MINI PROJECTS ABOUND

I’ve had a busy week getting some mini projects checked off the list. This week alone, I have done all of the following:

Started a new blog where I interview interesting people I meet online. My first post involves an interview with Tall Samm Lim. She’s an interesting character and a positive force. Check it out here: Tall Samm Lim Interview.

I also completed my Coffeehouse Jazz series with a third and final booked aimed at building the ultimate holiday playlist of jazz instrumentals. Pick up this eBook for only 99 cents here: Coffeehouse Jazz 3.

Since publishing my book Small Brand America V: Special Bourbon Edition way back in the first quarter of 2015, I’ve planned to turn a couple of the chapters into mini eBooks with some further “behind the scenes” information. Well, I have two done already and will finish the third today which will complete all of the ones I have planned for now. Here’s where you can pick up the first two for 99 cents: Ozark Distillery & Syntax Spirits.

My other big news is the fact my book Bourbon Mixology is selling like crazy. It is apparently a hot Christmas gift this year. If you have a bourbon fan on your list, check it out: Bourbon Mixology.

If every week was as successful as this past week, soon I will be a force to be reckoned with!