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!

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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

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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

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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.

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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: 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

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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

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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!

BIG B.Z. DAY

BZ Promotion Card May 1 2016

Even though technically nothing is happening with my Bourbon Zeppelin newsletter today, it’s still a big day for the project because it’s now one month until launch. It’s also the first time I will be reaching out to the 200+ industry insiders to find out if they have any content they want to share for the inaugural issue.

It’s like the project is finally coming together into something real. Talking about a concept without a tangible project is difficult. I have the vision of exactly what it is, and perhaps I should have created a full blown prototype to show people what I was doing, but I’ve elected to skip that part of the process and just talk about the plan. I believe once I have this first edition published it’s going to be much easier to get even more industry insiders involved.

“Getting people involved” on the production side of the project has been fantastic. I’ve got a crew together which should really be able to put out an interesting read. Take a look at these contributors and what they will be doing with Bourbon Zeppelin:

Mark Hansen – My buddy Mark Hansen is a graphic artist who designs all of my covers. We literally grew up together, living in the same St. Louis suburb. He gives B.Z. its identity with his custom graphics he draws for me (that’s his work in the black and white graphic above). Mark’s also one of those guys who has the ability to really break down a flavor profile by pulling out the unique tastes to it. With his skills he’s going to be doing reviews in each issue with a column titled The Bourbon Whisperer.

Amanda Hoppes – Amanda is a fellow author who will be joining the crew under the name the Bourbon Virgin to give her thoughts on tasting different bourbons for the first time. Amanda has a fun take on her reviews and is looking to expand her horizons beyond the Bud Light and Cherry Bombs she has been drinking up to this point.

Kris and Kate Kettner – Kris and Kate are a husband and wife team who run their own blog (check out: barrelsandmash.com). They are complete bourbon enthusiasts who will be answering questions asked by B.Z. readers. This questions could be anything bourbon related and they will bring a fun take to their responses I am sure.

Sarah Mitchell-Jackson (Sarah’s blog), Suzie Allkins (Suzie’s author’s page) & Lauren Elizabeth – Sarah (England), Suzie (England) and Lauren (Australia) bring an international component to B.Z. None happen to be bourbon fans but they have been able to provide some unique insight about bourbon in their respective countries.

Jerome Faulkner, G, The Bearded Sipper, Evan Haskill (Evan’s blog), Mike Swain, Carl “Los” Laehr, The Shy Associate Editor, Melissa Alexander, Alice Seim & Robin Ricca – These folks round out the contributors on the staff who will be making contributions to help make B.Z. great.

Hasse Berg (Hasse’s blog) – Finally, there’s Hasse Berg. Hasse just joined the crew recently but I’m not sure how I made it as far as I did without him. Hasse is a blogger from Denmark who writes about whiskey. He’s part of the Instagram crew I burn far too much time interacting with online.

Hasse combines three things you don’t often see packaged together…

1). He’s a hellion.

2). He’s a genius.

3). He’s hilarious.

Because he’s a genius, who is hilarious, with a background in “hellionusness” (I made that word up) he’s able to put his thoughts together in the most unique and funny ways (it truly is amazing he does all of this writing in English when his primary language is Danish…again, genius). Anyway, Hasse is going to close out every issue with Hasse Berg’s World… a stream of consciousness piece from the mind of Hasse Berg. It caps each issue with some funny thoughts which I think is going to be great.

As you can see, I’ve got an awesome crew that is going to help me put together an unbelievably great bourbon-focused publication.

Set your alarms for June 1…8:00 a.m. Eastern time/7:00 Central for issue #1 of Bourbon Zeppelin!

_______________________

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!

 

TIME TO TALK BOURBON ZEPPELIN

BZ Logo

After teasing the concept in social media for five months, and working on it for over seven months, it’s finally time to talk about Bourbon Zeppelin…

It’s almost time.

On June 1, 2016, Bourbon Zeppelin will finally launch. Bourbon Zeppelin, or B.Z. as I’m also calling it, is a newsletter I am in the process of creating which will appeal to the moderate to fanatical bourbon fan. In a nutshell, it’s everything bourbon.

You see, bourbon fans love the distilled beverage, but they also want more when it comes to the juice aged in charred white oak barrels. They like the history of bourbon, getting to know the people behind the favorite brands, they love items which help them enjoy bourbon (glassware, bar tools, etc.), they like products which showcase their love for bourbon they even are fans of products made with bourbon (soaps, candies, ice cream and more).

Bourbon has become so popular it seems like this type of information is everywhere if your eyes are open to it, but it’s not in one nice and neat place. That one place is going to be Bourbon Zeppelin.

So why the name Bourbon Zeppelin?

First of all, I love the name. It just came to me one day and then the idea of how I would do this all fell in place after I had that super catchy moniker for it. It’s a little rock ‘n roll.

Bourbon Zeppelin… like Led Zeppelin.

To me that aspect works, because bourbon is the king of distilled spirits rock ‘n roll right now in the U.S. market. Also, like a good rock ‘n roll band whose sound starts to permeate outside of the country where it starts, bourbon is picking up steam around the world. It’s becoming more-and-more popular outside of the U.S. which is cool because bourbon truly is the United States contribution to the world of distilled spirits. Everything else… vodka, rum, brandy, cognac, other forms of whiskey were all created elsewhere.

I also thought the name Bourbon Zeppelin was perfect for this project because zeppelins are used to promote products. B.Z. is going to be promoting the bourbon industry.

Perfection!

The final reason why I really am a fan of the name is the branding opportunities. Zeppelins are cool. Bourbon is cool. Put them together and you’ve got a pretty awesome underlying theme for your brand. My buddy Mark Hansen, a graphic artist, is doing all of my graphics work by hand-drawing my graphics with a vintage look. I’ve got him creating a database of graphics I will be able to use for this publication that will give it an incredible look that is very appealing to the eye.

The plan is to email B.Z. out monthly to my personal email database (300+ and counting) and promote it to my 40,000+ social media followers. The format is single column feature article to open it up, a few words by me, then it’s a three-column format with quick bits about various things bourbon fans are interested in (the bourbon “lifestyle” with products fans will be interested in, group bourbon reviews, bourbon book reviews, a monthly cocktail, the rumor mill, and more).

After the three-column “quick hits” section, it transitions back to a one column format with more articles and regular features (I’ve got a husband and wife team of bourbon experts answering questions about bourbon, a classic reviewer who will be providing detailed tasting notes about a bourbon each month, etc.).

All of the content comes in three ways.

1). I create it.

2). A team of friends from Instagram and Twitter, serving as contributors, helps provide content.

3). Industry insiders.

The “industry insiders” are individuals I have recruited to contribute. I am surveying them on a monthly basis and they respond with potential content for B.Z. I take the best of what my contributors submit and create the newsletter.

Currently, I have over 200 industry insiders. These are people that work for distilleries or adjacent markets (products that either support the bourbon industry or are made of it). I have been able to get them on board by reaching them via email and telling them about the project. Two hundred is a big number, but my initial list was over 700 strong. I’m planning on revisiting the ones that didn’t respond after the first edition is published. It’s difficult getting people to buy into your idea when it’s just a concept. I think even more will be onboard when they see what I am doing with the information/content they would potentially be providing.

So Bourbon Zeppelin is going to be a big hit, right?

I sure hope so. It’s been a long journey getting here. In reality, I have no idea. The way I see it, there are two ways it could go wrong:

1). The audience isn’t there. I think there is going to be a lot of interest in this project, but I don’t know for sure. I do know there is a strong trend to make e-newsletters shorter. People don’t want the Wall Street Journal style in newsletters, they want the USA Today style. This is clearly going to be the opposite of that trend. I am promoting it as the magazine of newsletters and I hope the bourbon fanatics soak up all of this great information like a sponge. Then again, maybe I can’t buck the trend of shorter is better and it’s a flop.

2). Will the contributors keep contributing? These publication goes nowhere if the contributors don’t see the value in what I’m doing. I think this takes care of itself if I shore up number one and it finds an audience. After all, these brands want to promote their products, so I’m guessing if I deliver and audience they want to be there and will contribute, but I haven’t done this before so I don’t know.

I’m hoping B.Z. is big. Really big. The audience looks forward to it being published each month, the industry insiders love what I’m doing and it’s great fun along the way. That would be the ultimate success for this project.

So that my friends is finally the “rest of the story” about Bourbon Zeppelin. Look for that first issue on June 1st.

_______________________

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!

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.