Tag Archives: #bourbonzeppelin

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!

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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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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!

_______________________

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.

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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 Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 3/10

This is the third edition of my “It’s Because I Write” series featuring me talking about some of the greatest things that have happened to me since I’ve started writing. So far, I’ve talked about meeting great people via my O.P.U.S. blog and living out a lifelong dream of publishing my own magazine with Bourbon Zeppelin (even if my “magazine” is an online newsletter).

Today I’m going to tell you all about the time I got to meet one of my heroes… thanks to my writing.

I will tell you right away, I am still a “heroes” guy. I know celebrities are people just like us, but, even in adulthood, I’m still the type to get starstruck by someone who has accomplished something of interest to me in the pubic eye. That’s what makes this little tale to much fun. I got to meet someone I’ve always looked up to based largely because I had become a writer.

It all started with a business trip to London for a trade show. This was the winter of 2013, shortly after my father passed away. I was in a small pub enjoying a few beers with a colleague. With our American accents, the waitress asked us where we were from. When we told her St. Louis she had never heard of it. As we were having this discussion, Johnny B. Goode came on the radio. Since we were having the discussion where we were from, and St. Louis meant nothing to her, I thought I would at least make the point it wasn’t in the middle of nowhere by pointing out Chuck Berry was from St. Louis, too, so I said, “Hear this song… the guy playing it is also from St. Louis.”

To my surprise, she responded in her way cool English accent, “You are from where CHUCK BERRY lives? Oh my god!”

What?

A woman who hasn’t heard of St. Louis knows Chuck Berry?

When I asked her about this, she went on-and-on about how everyone knows Chuck Berry and how influential he is.

I thought I would really get her going by saying, “Get this, Chuck is not only still around, he plays once a month at a club called Blueberry Hill. It’s just a small intimate place where you can see him play for about 30 U.S. dollars.”

I thought that would really get a fan going and fill her with envy of how cool my colleague and I were as well as how great of a place St. Louis must be.

Instead, she got me with this line. “That is so great. How many times have you gone and seen Chuck play there?”

Ummmmmmmmmmm……

None.

That’s right, despite being a big fan, I never had gone to see Chuck play. It’s just one of those things where you always plan to do it… but you never actually have the time.

These comments where like a defibrillator zapping my heart. With the sudden death of my father only 2 months before, things had changed in my life. I no longer was going to have eternal “to dos” that never get “to done.” (That makes no sense but sounds kinda snappy, doesn’t it?)

When I spoke to my wife later that night, I told her to buy some tickets to the next Chuck Berry show at Blueberry Hill.

The next night, when I spoke to her, she confirmed she got the tickets for Chuck Berry, but then she said, “You know that one guy you like, Dick Dale, he’s playing there a few weeks later.”

Whooooooaaaaa!

Dick Dale? The King of the Surf Guitar. The guy who was friends with Jimi Hendrix. A guy I would pattern my own writing career off of (stay independent, retain the rights to everything you create, don’t let others make decisions about your work for you). The guy who can play the guitar like no other. The man who created the sound of one of my all-time favorite movies in Pulp Fiction with his song Miserlou.

Yes, that Dick Dale.

So the wife and I agreed to also get tickets to see Dick Dale as well.

At this same time, I had already started to write a book about my father. Ultimately, it would become the book, Life with Akester (my Dad’s nickname) that included a biography and some of the favorite stories I had collected about him (I always wrote these crazy stories about the stuff he would do… and then share them with friends and family, including him. This was the best of those).

Since I was going to be writing the book, I thought I would write Dick Dale to make sure it was okay to write about the experience of the concert in this book about my father. His wife Lana responded and put me in touch with their lawyer. I was pleasantly surprised to have their representative quickly sign off on my idea.

I continued to email back-and-forth with Lana as the show grew near. We would share personal stories about our lives… me talking about my father and her talking about things from the life of her and Dick (I’m not going to share personal correspondence, but it was really cool).

The night of the show was incredible. We got there early and ended up in the front row (there is no assigned seating at Blueberry Hill).

In his late 70s, a multi-time cancer survivor, the guy can still rock. The band has no setlist either. Dick Dale just starts playing and his band follows him with whatever he’s doing.

Dick Dale.JPG

One of the many great shots I got of Dick Dale playing that night

The show ended with Dick playing Miserlou.

I’m not kidding when I had goosebumps watching that guy play that song. It goes fast… and then faster… and then explosively fast. I’ve seen a lot of shows in my life, I don’t think any moment from all of those shows tops watching DD shred that song.

After the show I got to meet Dick and Lana. He’s a cool dude and she’s a sweetheart.

DD Guitar.jpg

I got a bunch of items signed that night, including this mini Dick Dale guitar

My book came out a few months later. I shared the story of grief and how a couple of things, like the Dick Dale and Chuck Berry shows truly helped me at that time. I was so down. The enjoyment of those shows demonstrated you could still have guilt-free happiness even in the face of something as traumatic as losing your father.

I stayed in touch with Lana and Dick for the next year or so after that. We even exchanged Christmas cards later that year, but, over time, the communications became further-and-further apart. I wanted to maintain contact with them, but never wanted to force communication so finally it just kind of faded away.

My enthusiasm for Dick Dale and his work has faded a bit, though. The guy is still a hero of mine and I would love to see him play again one day.

All of this came about because I 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: 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

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

 

 

 

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

The last few weeks the only topic I’ve covered here is Bourbon Zeppelin. That actually seems about right as it’s been all consuming lately. Still, even with the B.Z. project going full-force right now, I have been working on a few other things.

First up is trifecta of cocktail books I’m working on. I really want to get these done for the holiday season this year. I’m not sure I’ll make it…no, I’m going to make it. I have to make it. Anyway, it’s a struggle to find time to dedicate myself to getting these three projects done, but I will have them ready to go by the fall (I sure hope so).

Next up is Brain Tsunami. This is a collaborative piece with some fellow authors. This one’s actually looking really good. My story is done. I’ve had the intro, my story and my buddy Samm Lim’s edited. Just waiting on one more piece to get done and that person is by far the most dependable of the bunch so I have no worries about completing this one.

I’m also working on a mini cocktail book about some of the best bartenders sharing their signature cocktail. I’m probably halfway done with that piece. I hope I can get this one done for the holidays this year too.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my buddy Evan Haskill. He’s got a fun blog (thebourbonguyandrye) that I like to contribute to. I’ve got an idea for two pieces I’d like to write for him, I just haven’t had time. Soon, though.

Did I mention Bourbon Zeppelin issue #1 is complete?

Yep, it is. I’ve finished all articles, editing and finally have let it go by scheduling it to be delivered on June 1. I’ve even started writing some of the early work on issue #2.

That’s busy enough, right?

_______________________

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

STILL MORE BOURBON ZEPPELIN NEWS

Have you ever heard an artist say one of the biggest challenges of creating a painting is knowing when it’s done?

I mean you are creating a world and you can continue to refine and enhance it seemingly forever. At some point you simply have to stop and say it’s done.

I’m kind of at that point with Bourbon Zeppelin, my bourbon-themed newsletter. From the standpoint of content, the first issue is almost done. I’m still waiting on two brief articles from contributors but the heavy lifting is definitely done. The layout is complete and the other 95% of the content is written, edited and set in place in the document.

I simply can’t quit going back and adding some new touches to it, though. I’m continually going into B.Z. #1 and reviewing the edited material again, adding new graphics, increasing the links in the articles so readers can be taken to the content they are reading about.

In summary, I don’t actually know how you ever feel like it’s complete and ready for publication.

Man, June 1 at 7:00 a.m. central time can’t come quick enough… because that’s the publication date/time and it’s the only time I think I feel like this first issue is going to be complete. When it is sitting in your email inbox… that’s when issue #1 will be totally done!

_______________________

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!