Tag Archives: iamwriting

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!

_______________________

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

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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.

_______________________

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!

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!

 

ZOMBIES + BOURBON

 

Zombie Sign

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

Yep, I managed to combine zombies and bourbon.

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________

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

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

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

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

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

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

Sign Up for Steve’s Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

Home Phone: I’m not giving you that!

PAYDAY = GOLD! (LITERALLY)

April 15 is looming.

There aren’t many dates in American culture as big as this one. Once you get past the big holidays of Christmas, New Year’s, Halloween and the Fourth of July, April 15, tax day, is probably next up on the list. Of course, those other dates are celebrations.

April 15 doesn’t have many of us celebrating.

I’m a little different in that I do relish this time of the year. For me, it’s payday. When I decided to start writing (my first book was published in March of 2013), I decided I couldn’t touch my book money. You do get paid monthly, but if I ended up taking the money out of the bank, I would spend it on frivolous stuff: more lunches out with the work crew, more rounds bought at happy hours, new “iStuff,” etc.

There was some practicality to my approach as well. It wasn’t like I needed book money to live. Leaving it in the bank meant when I had a big expense, say a book getting published and I needed to order 20 copies and mail them out, the money to cover those expenses was there. If I spent my cash, I’d end up spending “house money” on those purchases. That clearly wouldn’t work.

Let’s not forget, I get paid 100% of sales money as well. No taxes are taken out. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to pay taxes, it just means I will be squaring up with the government on what I have determined is the fifth most notable date in the American lexicon.

Starting out in March of 2013, my plan became to leave my money untouched in a separate account unless I had to take money out for expenses. At the end of my fiscal year, April 1, I could then determine what I owe the government and the balance of the cash in the account would be mine (less a base of $100 I would always leave in the account to cover expenses).

Having just completed my third year, I have to say this has worked out great. On April 1, tax money gets transferred over to checking to help square up with the government. I take 1/3 of the balance and transfer it to my kid’s college fund. I like the idea of my books going to help pay for her education.

The next 1/3 goes to charity. I support Love A Cat charity in Hawaii. They help feral cats on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. I really like working with them because the people who run it are incredibly nice, the do great work and they are a really small charity. My book money truly helps them out.

I’ve written in the past about the support of my books in the State of Hawaii and I wanted to give back to the State because they were reading my books back at a time when seemingly no one else was. One of their Board Members had contacted me about my books and we hit it off and I’ve been supporting them with money from my book sales ever since.

The final 1/3 of my money, after taxes, goes to me. I’m big into not just spending it freely, though. I feel like writing is hard work and I want something to show for my effort. I decided to take a portion of my cash I get on April 1, and buy something cool. I do buy some iStuff, a few meals out to celebrate, a bottle or two of bourbon, that type of thing, but I wanted a portion of my cash to go to something special. Something that I could always have. Something that would be treasured even after I’m gone. It had to be something heirloom worthy.

I found it.

GOLD!

That’s right, whenever I write, I’m earning gold. Yep, I take some of my cash and purchase some gold which I keep in a simple jar. I only get to see it this time of the year since I end up putting it in the safety deposit box, but man, it’s cool.

Gold

My gold haul so far after three years of writing

Am I rich?

Nope.

This is just a small portion of my money, and I actually lost money the first year I was writing so this is only two years worth of “book money.” Still, I have 18 grams of gold. A troy ounce is 31.1034768 grams of gold so I’ve got a little more than a 1/2 an ounce of gold.

Why a jar?

I like the way those jars look and even sound on shows like Gold Rush. Gold has a unique clink when it moves around in a glass jar. Man, I love holding that gold in that jar.

I’ve got a long way to go to fill it up, but it’s going to be fun to get it out of the safety deposit box every year and add to my stash.

Shouldn’t it be that way?

Writing… it’s supposed to be fun, right?

Well, when you are filling a jar up with AU with every word you write, it’s pretty darn cool!

_______________________

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!