Tag Archives: Hawaii

IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 5/10

Topics Covered So Far:

#1 of 10 – My O.P.U.S. Blog

#2 of 10 – Bourbon Zeppelin

#3 of 10 – Meeting a Hero of Mine

#4 of 10 – My Love Affair with Hawaii

———————————–

I’ve already covered four incredible things that have happened to me since I’ve been writing but I’ve got another great one today. Back when I was just getting going I was trying really hard at marketing to launch my brand. I think I’ve got a much more laid back approach now that is better suited for the indie author, but learning is a process, so I had to make some mistakes before I really figured out what I was doing.

One of the things I did was get some t-shirts made for friends and family with my website and twitter name on it. At the same time, a local reporter, Kim Hudson of Fox 2 in St. Louis had just taken over as the local interest story reporter in the morning. She announced if any business wanted to promote their brand to send in a t-shirt from their business and she would wear in for an entire mornings worth of shows (they start here at 4:00 and go to like 9:00 with news in the morning).

I sent in a t-shirt and some books along with information about my writing career.

Then…

I didn’t hear anything. I just figured an independent author wasn’t considered a business since I had seen Kim wearing shirts from local restaurants and shops.

About a month later, I’m at work one day and my Mom calls me… Kim Hudson is wearing my shirt… and she’s talking about me and my books.

Kim Hudson with my SAP Shirt On

Kim Hudson of Fox 2 in St. Louis on air wearing my shirt and holding up my Small Brand America IV: Special Beer Edition book

My Mom recorded the entire mornings worth of news so I got to see it. I guess it was kind of weird they never called first or anything, but it was incredibly cool to see such a great amount of free publicity for my work.

I did notice a small spike in sales of the beer book she spoke about after her appearance so it was really cool. Plus, you never know who gets introduced to you/your work when something like this happens.

Launching an independent writing career is difficult. In reality, this was a fleeting moment that didn’t change my life, but it was a nice early affirmation that you can make things happen if you try different things and work hard enough. It was definitely the confidence booster I needed at that time, and I can’t thank Kim Hudson enough for doing that!

_______________________

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

Advertisements

IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 4/10

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

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

Okay, you’re all caught up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________

Write Steve Write! is a weekly blog by author Steve Akley. Typically it is posted on (most) Sundays and features insight about his writing… though there is an occasional movie review or random thought post. It should be noted it’s posted as a live feed… no editing, no planning beforehand, it’s typed out on Sunday morning and the “publish” button is immediately hit. Apologies for any errors but you get this just as Steve thinks it!

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

In the meantime, follow check in on Steve in a variety of ways:

Steve’s Catalog on Amazon: http://goo.gl/kJpKcP

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

Evan Haskill’s Blog: I am a contributor here: thebourbonguyandrye.com

Sign Up for Steve’s Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

FACING THE DEMONS

Last week I told you I had a big day coming up. One I had been avoiding for over a month now. It was time to visit Architect of Passion, the biography I had been working on which ended up getting lost in the “flash-drive-ageddon” incident I blogged about here a few weeks back.

I’m going to take you deep into my own mind today, detailing what it was like to face something I had personally been struggling with. You may find my own this look into my brain so disturbing you may begin to question why you even follow me here and on social media. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. As a service to you, my reader, I’ve included a quick guide at the end with steps to unfollow and block me on most social media platforms.

So we begin…

I always feel like if I’m lucky enough to have you here reading my posts I don’t want to assume you know anything about what I’ve written in the past. Even if you have been a loyal reader, I’m not going to be so presumptuous that I’m just figuring you know everything that’s happened in my life to get me to this post. So even if you have read the background of what I’m about to get into, you’ve slept since then, so you might want a little bit of a refresher.

So here goes…

Architect of Passion is a biography. My first foray into this type of writing, though, I did a whole book on my own father, called Life with Akester, which included some biographical writing in it. (This was actually a hybrid, part biography, part funny stories and part about me dealing with his sudden death.)

Greg Schredder, the person I write about in Architect, is an incredible person with an unbelievable life. He’s ran in circles with some of the best known celebrities, he’s made millions, he’s lost millions, he’s on a mission to save the world (not a cliche here, I mean he really is), he’s got these great stories which easily translate into a book. I could go on-and-on. It’s even a funny story how Greg and I connected, but I will save for the book.

Getting his life story down involves me interviewing Greg for hours at-a-time on the phone (he lives in Hawaii). These are marathon with several clocking in over eight hours. In August I had taken a backup of Architect, but in September Greg and I had one of our last phone calls to go over the draft on a page-by-page basis to ensure it was presented exactly how he wanted it.

With the book now being so close to being complete, I started putting some other finishing touches on it as well. Greg had gathered all of these great photos from throughout his life. This involved a lot of digging and even going to a storage unit where he keeps his professional papers. I incorporated the photos in and then I wrote two additional sections. One was a post-script conclusion from me. There was simply the need of the “voice of the author” telling what was going on with Greg and the need to make a few points which will be better clarified in the book then here.

I also added a quick story called the Legend of La Paz which had nothing to do with the book. The book is a linear look at Greg’s career from childhood at the way to present day. As we followed Greg’s life, there would be times when we would deviate from the topic and it wouldn’t become an interview anymore, it would be simply two guys talking. It was during these times Greg would share these incredible funny stories about his fascinating life. If he was Steve Jobs and I was working on an 800-page biography I’d probably want all of these.

That’s not what this project is, and even if it was, I’d probably not be the writer to tackle this project. Greg and I had these discussions many times. He’s not that type of person, though. He’s an old-school, “my handshake is my bond” type of guy. Even though I was telling him the complete story of his is worthy of the “Steve Jobs treatment” I was his guy, the person he trusted to tell his life story, even if I was doing the condensed version.

The Legend of La Paz was just one of those fun stories which didn’t tie back to the book but gave the reader a sense for what it’s like knowing Greg Schredder. It was simply one of the many fun stories he shared.

After adding the photos, the conclusion and The Legend of La Paz, I had one of my editors go through the whole thing. She did a great job, going through it for me on a printed copy which I through away after making the edits.

The plan was then to get one last thing from Greg, a piece he wrote called “Special Acknowledgements” where he went through his whole career and simply wrote about, and thanked the people who had helped make him a success on the way. Once that was done, I would incorporate it into the story and then Greg and I would review it one last time via a proof copy of the book. I wanted to get a copy of the book into Greg’s hands since we had already been working on it for almost a year at that point.

By October, I hadn’t heard from Greg for about a month. I reached out. He was busy working on this project, like I stated earlier, which may help save the world. He would get me the info soon. In November, I heard from Greg, he said, we need to revisit the book and write a few additional chapter. He had such great things going on. If it all comes together, “I’m buying you a Cadillac” he told me.

The funny thing about Greg Schredder, that statement from him is like a signed contract approved by the Supreme Court. I have no doubt, if Greg hits it big with his latest project, one day there will be a Caddy sitting in my driveway. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but it will be there.

With all of this excitement happening, it happened.

IT!

Yes, the “it” being that flash drive which blew up in early December. I lost 98% of my files on there. There were a few odd files which weren’t affected at all. Small files like lists of ideas for future projects. Any large file, like a book, or photographs was lost, though.

Architect of Passion was the tough one. I had really wrapped up most of what I working on so I was able to recover files through Amazon of my other work. I lost everything from Architect, though, that I had done after my August update.

My response: avoid it.

For the next 5 weeks, that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t tell Greg, I didn’t open my preserved file from August. I can’t tell you why. There was just something about it that was too painful. Work which I considered complete was lost. Wiped away in a moment of my own stupidity. That file represented everything bad that happened in the loss of my flash drive.

At Christmas Greg called, emailed and sent me a card with a calendar. I sat in my shell like a frightened turtle. This past Monday my company was closed in honor of Martin Luther King Day. I circled that date as the day I was going to address it. I would reach out to Greg, I would open that dreaded file. Here’s a timeline of the day for me.

4:30 a.m. – Wake up at the usual time, even though I’m off of work.

4:30 – 5:30 – Not ready to get started on the book so it becomes time to check-in on social media

5:30 – 7:00 – Let’s not look at that file yet, after all, it’s time for a walk.

7:00 – 7:30 – Quick check back-in on social media.

7:30 – 8:00 – Hey, I was just walking, I better take a shower before I get started.

8:00 – 9:30 – Rather than getting started on Architect, let me get this quick OPUS interview with Courtney posted on tumblr and then I need to promote it a bit on social media.

9:30 – 10:00 – A quick game of hide-n-seek with Leo and a check of what’s on TV.

10:00 – I sit down to get started, but a wave of fear grips me, maybe I can “nap off” these feelings.

11:00 – Time to do this. Let’s take a look at the file. You know what? You really need to have a proper lunch to write. It’s early, but I’m off today, I’ll take a quick lunch break. “Then it begins,” I tell myself.

11:41 – I sit down at the computer and open the file. I scan through it and see everything missing. This is real. All of that work is gone.

11:42 – I walk away. (insert your own expletive here…I know I did. Use a bad one. I mean a really bad one. I know I did)

11:42 – 12:39 – Self-loathing.

12:39 – 12:53 Composed an email to Greg about what happened and sent it.

12:53 – 2:33 – Rewrote The Legend of La Paz. I may have even improved what I initially wrote, at least as I remember it.

Okay, this was going to be all right. I was in a better mood. The rest of the afternoon, I put Architect away, knowing I could take on the demon and 2016 would mark year two I would be working on this project but it’s going to be great.

I was so euphoric about getting started on rebuilding Architect, I reached out to fellow author Jenna Brownson about a potential joint project we might be working on and I wrote a post for Evan Haskill thebourbonguyandrye blog (it’s worth a read). It was a fairly productive afternoon.

Later that day, I got a message from Greg. He understood, we would have this book rise from the ashes. I had also requested the photos he had already sent but he told me he didn’t have them and we’d have to wait until he could get all of them back together.

D’oh!

I did suggest checking the sent file since he had emailed them. I’m pleased to say on Friday I got 26 emails from Greg with the photos.

Architect of Passion is on the way back, baby! Look for it later this year. I sure hope so. It’s been quite the journey!

STEVE’S QUICK GUIDE TO UNFOLLOWING AND BLOCKING HIM ON SOCIAL MEDIA

This guide is designed to assist you in taking two steps to remove Steve from your virtual life via social media: unfollowing and blocking.

Step 1

Wait a second, you are actually reading this? You were really going to examine unfollowing and blocking? I had a traumatic experience. It isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person, I agree, but it was tough nonetheless.

Guess what, you aren’t unfollowing nor or you blocking. In fact, for reading this I demand you RT something on Twitter or Like AND Comment on a photo on Instagram, you know, as a way to make up for almost senselessly removing me from your social media world.

Unfollow and block.

Ha!

I don’t think so!

________________________________

I will have to say, this blog has evolved over the last several weeks. It’s gone from a weekly 200 word post to a much more detailed account of behind the scenes of my writing. I don’t know where it will end up. I prefer the 200 word quick updates… the audience clearly prefers the detailed read. For now, I’m giving ’em what they want with these long accounts of what’s going on with my writing.

Next week we’ll take another look at OPUS. This time I’m going to share some of the funny questions I’ve been asking people and why I ask them.

In the meantime, follow check in on Steve in a variety of ways:

His 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!

 

 

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!

 

 

MEET PA’U HANA

Pau Hana Digital Cover

Click on the cover of Pa’u Hana to go to Amazon to purchase it!

It was a big writing week for me. My book, Pa’u Hana was published. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to publish your first novel.

I also got Bourbon Mixology online in a Kindle version and an iBooks edition should be out there soon as well. Click here to see the Kindle edition.

The other big news is I’m going to overhaul my newsletter in 2016. Not only will I be moving from a quarterly publication schedule to an every-other-month format I’m going to add some new content. Look for the final newsletter to go out under the old format on December 1 and the new look newsletter to start on February 1, 2016. If you would like to receive my newsletter directly to your email, click here.

Next week I’ll give you an update on Architect of Passion, the other project I’ve been working on.

LOOKING AHEAD (JUST A BIT)

With my three projects for 2015 finally winding down, I’ve just started to look ahead just a bit. Before we see what I’ll be up to for the balance of 2015, let’s do a quick recap of the trifecta of books I’ve spent this year working on:

Bourbon Mixology                                                                                                                        

Status: Published (Picked up a copy here: Bourbon Mixology)

It’s true, the first one is officially out there having been published earlier this week. This one truly looks special with it immediately selling right out of the gate.

Here’s a look at the cover:

Bourbon Mixology II Cover

Pa’u Hana 

Status: Final edits being done

My first novel is complete and I have five people reading proof copies. I’ve got notes from two of them, still waiting on the other three to get me their thoughts. This one should be out in October.

Here’s a look at the cover:

Pau Hana Digital Cover

Architect of Passion        

Status: Rewrites complete

A few weeks ago I spent 6 hours with Greg Schredder, the subject of this biography going over some changes he requested. I have finished those rewrites and now am awaiting some information from him to complete the rewrite. Once I get that done, I’ve got final editing to complete before getting it published. I’m guessing this will go on through October and we will get this one out in November.

Here’s a look at the cover:

Updated AOP Cover

So what’s going on for the rest of 2015?

I’ve got two things I’ll be working on, though they won’t likely be published until 2016. This first is a short story blending of fact and fiction. It’s called Brain Tsunami and its the story of my brother-in-law. This past summer he went on a bike ride and came back home with a gash on his head and no knowledge of what happened. I’m pleased to say he’s fully recovered and doing great, but he still doesn’t know what happened. I’m going to publish a short story with some different, and fun scenarios of what might have happened.

Here’s a look at that cover:

Human guidance and memory loss due to Dementia and Alzheimer's disease as a group of three dimensional roads shaped as a human head and brain tangled in a confused direction mind function concept.

Lastly, I have yet an untitled piece I am probably going to be working on. I have a rum company which has been reaching out to me for a few years now wanting to get into one of my Small Brand America books. With no plans in the works to have a sixth edition of this popular series focusing on small brands competing against much larger competitors, I think I am going to propose to them a book focusing solely on them… their history, the owners and their facility. Should be fun if they like the idea.

That’s it for now!

MARATHON REWRITE SESSION

Yesterday, I was finally able to spend some time talking to Greg Schredder the businessman whom I am collaborating with to write Architect of Passion, his biography. He’s had a rough draft in his hands for a while but busy schedules have kept us from going through his suggested changes.

Yesterday we spent 6 hours and 8 minutes on the phone going over the changes he is suggesting. I don’t think I’ve ever been on the phone with anyone for 6+ hours before!

The changes ran the gamut, from wording he didn’t like, to new stories he remembered as he was reading to clarification to some of the facts. While this is going to equate to some significant work, in the end it’s going to make for a great project.

Greg’s had an unbelievable life. He’s had some of the greatest successes imaginable along with some of the most unbelievable failures. In between he’s rubbed elbows with some of the biggest names from the world of celebrities.

I’ve got to get busy writing because you are going to want to read this!