Tag Archives: Christmas

MY BEST CHRISTMAS… EVER (REMEMBERING DAD)

On December 12, 2012 (12/12/12), I lost my father unexpectedly to a heart attack.

That day… it’s he day my dad was there when it started but gone when it ended.

It had seemed like so many before. After working together for 10 years at the end of his career, when my dad retired, he would come back to work about once a week, pick me up, and we’d go to lunch.

The day he died was a lunch day for us. Everything had seemed fine. We laughed, talked football and even got into some deeper conversation about raising kids and how impressed he was with the person my daughter was growing up to be.

Some 18 hours later,  confused and heartbroken, I found myself with my mother in the basement of a funeral home picking out a coffin.

With today being the 4th anniversary of his death, I thought I would share the “My Favorite Christmas…EVER” story. While I began publishing books after the death of my dad (I could no longer “wait until later” to get started with writing seeing how quickly it all can end), I had started to get into writing by crafting stories about real life experiences my dad had the last five or six years of his life. I would recall these funny incidents and document them and I’d share them with friends and family, including Dad.

He was the ultimate character. Funny things always happened with him. I present to you, “My Favorite Christmas… EVER,” about the Christmas that stands out for me more than any other from the group of short stories I wrote about my dad’s adventures over the years.

My Favorite Christmas… EVER

Oddly, my favorite Christmas memory doesn’t come from any number of the blessed things I’ve experienced in my life, but more along the lines of the quirky, offbeat things which build the character of whom you are as a person.

In 1978, the 10-year old version of me only wanted one thing for Christmas: a tape recorder. Looking back now, I’m not exactly sure why that was, but at that moment in time, it was the only thing I cared about. I realize it’s laughable now, but in 1978, this was cutting edge “in-home” technology. No longer was the recording of voices limited to the celebrity likes of Lee Majors; a person could actually record his or her own voice without going to a studio.

Christmas morning came and I opened up the new jeans, socks, dress shirts and other things Mom would wrap to increase the volume of gifts. She was smart enough to strategically bury the good stuff deep under the tree, so you continue to mow through all of it as she took photos of the ever disappointed reactions to these motherly gems.

My last gift was my beloved tape recorder. I wasn’t allowed to simply take it off on my own and play with it. My dad had me run through the instruction book with him. To record, hit the record button. To play back your tape, hit play. Rewind involved pressing the rewind button. Pretty standard stuff. Dad and I were ready to proceed with our initial recording session.

My dad pressed the record button, picked up the recorder and spoke directly into the machine. Slowly and deliberately he dictated the inaugural recording. He said, “What are you doing?”… only he didn’t say it in his own voice. He used robot-like voice and paused after each word with his voice pitch rising on the last word so it became, “WHAT …. ARE … YOU … dooo-ING?” I’m not sure why he chose this robot-like voice; perhaps he felt you needed to speak in what he considered a futuristic sounding voice with such new age technology.

He rewound the tape, and we heard robot man speaking back to us: “WHAT …. ARE … YOU … dooo-ING?” He calls my mom and sister in, “Listen to this,” he told them: “WHAT …. ARE … YOU …doING?”

Collectively, we were simply amazed… that really was Dad’s voice!

Well, at least some version of his voice.

I got ready to grab the recorder and head off to my room to have some fun with my new gift. Dad stopped me and said, “Give me that tape, I want to save that.”

I was confused. Save that? It wasn’t even anything… just some pseudo-robot asking one question. Despite my hesitation, I turned it over. After all, I did get the two-pack of tapes.

Over the next few days, Dad kept borrowing the recorder whenever one of his friends would call. I would hear him tell them, “You’ve got to hear this.” Then he’d turn on the recorder, and I’d hear robot man asking, “WHAT …. ARE … YOU … dooo-ING?” This was followed by laughter and him swearing that was actually a recording, and it was him. He could prove it by replaying it again, which he would then do.

Seriously, who were these guys who thought this was good entertainment?

A month or so later, Dad walked by my room, and I had all of my Batman action figures out and was staging a Batman fight. I was recording, complete with me singing the Batman theme and punctuating it with the occasional “POW,” “BAM” or “ZAP” like they did in those campy fights on the show. When he asked what I was doing, I told him I was taping a Batman fight.

“These tapes are expensive” he told me, “you can’t simply waste them.” Since I was confused on how a Batman fight wasn’t as important as robot man, combined with the fact I didn’t need it to record minutes from any business meetings at age 10, I never used the tape recorder again.

Even though this wasn’t a “great holiday memory,” it certainly stands out. Every once in a while, I’ll come across that tape, find an old boom box, and play robot man for a good laugh.u

Shared in loving memory of Larry Akley (8/20/42 – 12/12/12)

 

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THE TRADITION CONTINUES

Last year, I kicked off the annual start to the holiday shopping season on Black Friday by offering some of my books for free. I then promoted it on social media starting on Black Friday and then continued on Small Business Saturday (independent authors are small business owners after all), Indie Author Sunday (I totally made that up but to my knowledge no one has grabbed Sunday yet, so I’m making a claim for it… help me promote #IndieAuthorSunday on social media) and finally Cyber Monday (these are electronic books that have to be ordered online).

I believe this one small promotion is what really helped me turn the corner on my writing career. Soon after, my book, Bourbon Mixology became a bestseller on Amazon.

Coincidence?

Maybe.

I’m not going to take a chance, though. Once again, this four-day shopping bonanza will feature my very own “12 Days of Christmas”… a dozen of my books available for free download starting Black Friday and running through Cyber Monday.

Here’s a look at the lineup this year:

I have six of my chapters, complete with bonus material from the book Small Brand America IV: Special Beer Edition. Those six are as follows:

Jolly Pumpkin

Smuttynose

Jester King

Brooklyn Brewery

Full Sail Brewery

Spider Bite Brewery

I also have two of my chapters from Small Brand America V: Special Bourbon Edition as a part of my Twelve Days of Christmas. Here are those two:

Syntax Spirits

10th Mountain

In addition to these 8 books that are part of bigger books, I have 4 stand alone books as well. They are as follows:

Life with Akester – The book I wrote about my father. This one really got me started with writing after the unexpected passing of my Dad on 12/12/12.

Coffeehouse Jazz I – A book dedicated to helping you build the ultimate jazz playlist by sharing 101 instrumental jazz classics.

Second Cup: More Coffeehouse Jazz – The sequel, with 101 more instrumental jazz classics.

Brain Tsunami – The book I wrote with Jenna Brownson, Amanda Hoppes and Samm Lim. We took a real life accident my brother-in-law had, and all wrote different endings since he had amnesia from the event and doesn’t remember what happened. It’s an awesome ride!

I hope you enjoy the 12 books I am giving away this holiday season. Of course, if you are doing some shopping, I sure would appreciate you considering some of my books for the individuals on your holiday shopping lists this season. Here’s a look at some winners that would make great gifts:

Bourbon Mixology – My bestselling book ever offers 50 signature cocktails from 50 iconic bars.

Bourbon Mixology 3 – The latest in my Bourbon Mixology series featured 30 more iconic bars sharing their signature cocktails.

Coffee and Holiday Mixology – This specialty book features iconic bars sharing their signature coffee and holiday-themed drinks.

Leo the Coffee Drinking Cat – A fun story featuring primitive drawings kids can relate to.

Small Brand America IV: Special Beer Edition – 26 craft brewers share their story.

Small Brand America V: Special Bourbon Edition – 20 craft distilleries go behind the scenes to share their history.

Pa’u Hana – My only novel is a fun adventure of two best friends trying to break into the movie business. Guaranteed laughs with this one!

Thank you for reading a little bit about what I am doing this holiday season to promote my writing!

Happy Holidays!
Steve Akley – Inventor of #IndieAuthorSunday

 

 

 

 

HANDS-ON PROJECT

I recently published one of the chapters from my book Small Brand America V: Special Bourbon Edition as a stand-alone 99 cent eBook. Not only is my Ozark Distillery  chapter republished, the new eBook also contains bonus material and photos not included in the book.

When I notified Dave Huffman, the owner of Ozark Distillery this mini book was now available, he wanted me to put together a small book on his company he could sell in his gift shop and give to some friends and family. In order to accomplish this, I would need to spend a few days at his facility (located less than 3 hours from my home base in St. Louis) watching and helping him make bourbon.

Dave wanted to know if I’d be willing to do this?

Willing to do this… are you kidding? This is like a dream come true!

I assume sampling has to be involved in this right? I am dedicated to quality control for Ozark Distillery!

Next March I’m going to spend two days at Ozark Distillery during a bourbon run. I can’t wait.

Christmas came early for me this year!

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Bourbon Mixology II Cover

Speaking of Christmas, be sure to pick up a copy of Bourbon Mixology for all of the whiskey lovers on your holiday list. This book is my bestselling piece of all time and has been a hot holiday seller! It features 50 iconic bars from around the United States sharing their signature bourbon cocktail recipes.

Pick up Bourbon Mixology by clicking here!

 

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!

 

 

 

CYBER MONDAY? I GOTCHA COVERED!

Tomorrow rounds out the trifecta of shopping “holidays” we have right after Thanksgiving:

Black Friday – Shopping highlighted by mega deals from the large department stores and retailers.

Small Business Saturday – Shifting the focus to local, and mom and pop retailers, to ensure we support those who live in the community as well as sell to it.

Cyber Monday – Hot deals and free shipping for online retailers.

Well, until I gather some steam for Indie Author Sunday, we need to tack on to the existing shopping holidays already in place. After all, indie authors, as well as all forms of art, are the ultimate small businesses. Our work isn’t a reflection of us… it is us! Plus, not only do we create the content, we are solely responsible for marketing and selling it as well.

Well, I’ve got some great things happening for Cyber Monday. First of all, I’m having my own 12 Days of Christmas for my readers. I’m offering 12 pieces of my work for free!

That’s right, for Cyber Monday only, I have 12 eBooks for free on Amazon. These include mini books from my Small Brand America series, one of my Coffeehouse Jazz books and even Life with the Akester, the book about my father (some of the stories at the end of the book are hilarious… be sure to check out The Bowtie, a classic, as well as The Recorder, the story of my “best” Christmas ever).

To get any, or 12 of these books, just check out my catalog on Amazon any time on Monday and download them for free: http://goo.gl/GCf4Ts

I know many of you are going to be shopping Amazon on Monday. Please consider my books for some of your holiday gifts… even if it’s just to round out the shopping cart to get free shipping. Here’s a half-dozen books, worthy of your gift giving from my catalog:

Pa’u Hana – My first novel is a laugh out loud buddy movie.

Bourbon Mixology (Vol. 2) – This gem features 50 iconic bars sharing their signature bourbon cocktails.

Small Brand America V: Special Bourbon Edition – This book shares the stories of 20 craft distillers making some of the best bourbon in the country!

Small Brand America III: Special Hawai’i Edition – This one explores 25 small food/consumer product manufacturers based in Hawai’i. This one’s still my best selling book of all-time (Bourbon Mixology Vol. 2 is closing in on it quickly, though).

Bourbon Mixology (Vol. 1) – The first edition from my series features bourbon cocktail recipes from the craft distillers featured in Small Brand America V: Special Bourbon Edition.

Leo the Coffee Drinking Cat – A great gift for the 3 -5 year old set, the first of three Leo books, this one introduces the coffee drinking cat and his family.

Have a great Cyber Monday!