Tag Archives: Indie Author

MY OTHER LOVE

You know, you can never quite be sure where life is going to take you. A while back, I made the bold move to write about something that I deeply love: that “something” is bourbon. For those of you who are regular readers here, you have read about my success in self-publishing on Amazon, Bourbon Mixology, and my most recent project, Bourbon Zeppelin.

I’m going to venture a guess that many of you find yourselves here reading these words in the hopes that I will share a new “must-have” offering or point you to a wonderful new way to enjoy this magical elixir.

Not today.

Because I think today it’s important for you to understand that I made a difficult choice some time ago. There are, in fact, two things I truly love, but presuming one would gain more traction than the other, I chose bourbon over my other love.

Had it been a different morning, had I been in a gentler mindset, had I the courage to take the “road less travelled,” I may have put bourbon to the side and chosen differently. Alas, I did not, but I am here today to tell you about that secret love of mine.

I am a noodler.

At first blush, you might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, who doesn’t like a big plate of spaghetti,” or maybe you prefer something a little more exotic, say udon or lo mein. And while I have always been a huge fan of carbs, I’m not talking about pasta.

Noodling is not about something as trivial and mundane as loving a certain sort of food.

Noodling is a lifestyle, a passion, a love.

For those of you not familiar, noodling is basically fishing with your hands. A noodler feels around snake-infested water with his hands and feet searching for a large hole. Then, the noodler goes underwater to ram his fist into the discovered hole. The result is usually the sensation of teeth latching onto the noodler’s hand. You see, the hole is the catfish’s home and it chomps on the intruder to get it to go away. But we noodlers don’t shy away from this attempt to scare us off. The latching on by the catfish is the signal to the noodler to start with the extraction. The noodler then has the task of dragging his catch—still latched onto his arm—out of the water and either onto shore, or into a boat. This must be done quickly, and certainly quickly enough so that the submersed noodler does not run out of breath. If the noodler can retrieve his arm from the grip of the catfish’s many teeth, then he’s having fish for dinner.

I might have chosen to write about the fifty greatest noodling adventures I’ve been on. (I have hundreds to choose from.) I might have even thought to tell about the minor amputation I suffered over a thirty-two pound Massachusetts bottom dweller. Had I gone the noodle route, I could have written volumes of recipes and shared tips for long-term storage of catfish who weigh in over twenty pounds. My largest “pull”—that’s what we call it—was a sixty-four pounder out of the Tennessee River. I’ve got two deep scars to solidify the memory, and the smell of that beast roasting over the July campfire will not soon be forgotten.

April 1

Here I am, pulling a good one!

There is a lot of information out there on noodling. Some good, some bad. I long considered becoming a force of advocacy for the ancient skill.

But instead, I went with my other love. Bourbon.

I’m not sure if it was the better choice. But I had to pick one: there simply isn’t time in one’s short lifespan to do justice to both.

Please know that every time I raise my snifter to sample a new variation on this beverage, I silently toast the catfish—both those I caught and those that didn’t try to scare me away by latching on. It is not lost on me that those who remained quiet kept themselves safe in their silence.

Not ever once did one scream out, and certainly there was never an occasion when I heard anything that sounded even remotely like: “APRIL FOOLS!”

This is not Steve Akley writing this post. This is his friend and fellow writer Jenna Brownson. Steve came up with this idea to guest blog—or maybe guest blog bomb—today. I was happy to play along.

You can find me blogging at www.jennabrownson.com, tweeting under @jennabrownson, and facebooking at jenna.brownson.author.

You get good ol’ Steve back with his next post. Ask him to share the photo of his chomped right pinky finger.

Happy April 1st.

See where Steve took over Jenna’s blog for April Fool’s Day 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: My fiscal year ends April 1st. What am I spending my book money on this year?

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!

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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.

A DANDY LITTLE PROJECT

I’ve got a dandy little project I am working on… or perhaps better stated collaborating on.

I’ve shared the idea here that I wanted to write a book about my brother-in-law who had a terrible accident last August. He had a wreck on his bike and was left with no memory of what happened.

Fascinated by a now fully healthy brother-in-law with no recollection of the most traumatic incident of his life, I volunteered to fill the gaps with some stories I would publish in a book. I started to sketch out some ideas but felt like the missing component would be a different voice, a different feel for each of these misadventures.

I decided to reach out to some of the authors I have met via social media to see if they would be interested in working with me on this book I’m calling Brain Tsunami. The idea is we each start with the same beginning and ending, but write a story with no interaction or involvement from the others.

I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive responses I’ve gotten from my online friends. I mean this has been so great, I think we need to drop the “online” moniker and everything that goes with that and just say these people are my friends.

The finished project will feature myself and nine other authors writing stories about what might have happened to my brother-in-law that fateful night.

This one’s just getting started, and we’ve got plenty of work ahead but I can’t wait to bring you BRAIN TSUNAMI (the all caps and bolding really increases the impact of that, 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 Next Week: I have no idea what I’m writing about next week, but it will be something.

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!

 

 

 

INTERVIEW STYLE INFLUENCERS

Right now, a lot of you are in-tune with the O.P.U.S. interviews I am doing on Tumblr. If you aren’t familiar with this series of interviews, I suggest you check them out. They are just good fun. I ask acquaintances I’ve met through social media random and funny questions.

When you read the O.P.U.S. interviews you may think these weird questions are the result of a person who simply doesn’t know what they are doing in interviewing people. Actually, that’s wrong. I know exactly what I’m doing with those interviews. I think they are not only fun, they are incredibly insightful into the true person.

In terms of my credentials, I’ll estimate I’ve done over 500 professional interviews for publication in my life. I’ve interviewed over 150 CEOs for my Small Brand America series of books which feature small companies competing against much larger, better-funded competitors. In my full-time job I write all of our sales-related newsletters, all of which incorporate interviews with sales reps out in the field to share best practices.

I would say that while I have my own style, which varies greatly by the type of interviews I do, I do draw from three professionals… Bob Costas, Howard Stern and Marc Maron. These three are each perfection in very different ways.

First, Bob Costas. He’s the ultimate in preparation. I realize he’s probably got a staff that does all of the research, but to Bob’s credit he devours what they find. His preparation in taking all of that research in and then not even needing cue cards to retain what someone did in the third grade is amazing. I have to say, out of the three here, my style is least like Bob’s in that I’ve always kind of shied away from research. I like the idea of going in fresh and not taking a look at what others have done before me. This isn’t because I don’t think there is merit to doing this, it’s just that I know I can’t do it as well as Bob so I like the discovery what’s unique about a person in by asking probing questions. I do try to connect with a person like Bob does which really does help them open up.

Second is Howard Stern. Man, this guy is divisive. Many people automatically hate him and perhaps rightfully so. I’ve always had a sophomoric sense of humor so I have to say I’ve always like Howard. The good news is I have matured as I’ve gotten older and so has Howard. His show isn’t what it once was, but that’s not to say all elements of offensive material have been removed.

Even if you can’t get over the goofy stuff, you should hear his interviews. Howard isn’t confined by time constraints so when he talks to someone it’s a free form discussions that really helps you get to know the person. I hate talk show interviews with their 4 minute format designed more to pitch a movie than learn anything about the person. A 90 minute interview with Howard and you walk away really knowing the true person beyond the public persona.

Perfection!

The last person I like to hear conducting interviews is Marc Maron. If you aren’t into podcasts, you might not know Marc but he has a podcast entitled WTF. Now, by the name alone you may think he’s another Howard Stern… he’s not. I will say he’s a bit of a cantankerous old guy who probably likes the shock value of calling his program WTF, but if you get beyond the first minute where he’s kicking off the show, his interviews are unbelievable. I would say what makes Marc great is the fact this guy, you presume is a grumpy old man based on the show intro, is just so smooth in the interviews. It truly is conversation. What I also like is he comes at it from a fan’s perspective. If I was interviewing the stars he gets (Marc gets everyone by the way, Barack Obama recently was on), I would handle it in the exact same way.

One of the aspects I didn’t like at first, was the fact he just riffs for like the first 10 minutes before he starts talking to a guest. I used to wonder why he did it… now I love it. His approach to the show is exactly what I would want to do someday. The guy is just the best.

Those are the three main influencers for me when it comes to interviewing. I’m no where near any of these three gentleman in terms of success, or style, but I’m going to keep practicing.

Check out those O.P.U.S. interviews and see if you can see the influence of these three!

_______________________

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 Next Week: I have no idea what I’m writing about next week, but it will be something.

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 Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Home Phone: I’m not giving you that!

AM I AT THE DOORSTEP?

When I see the tears of an Olympic athlete in the medal ceremony, I get it.

I don’t think the broadcasters do.

First of all, I love the Olympics. This is an Olympic year and best of all it’s a Summer Olympics year! (I love those even more than the Winter Olympics.) I can’t say I’m a fan of how the TV coverage goes with the Olympics, though. They turn the event into a drama where each person’s grandmother having just died as they were boarding the plane to head out to the Olympic hosting city.

I just like the competition.

The idea that if you can beat your competitors at this event you are the best in the world, at that moment in time, in your chosen activity. It’s powerful to think about it in that way, but it’s true… somewhat true… at least as truthful as we could ever get (Trust me, I know there are other factors here which doesn’t make the statement “best in the world 100% absolute truth” but while you may be able to talk in theory how you could make the Olympics better, in reality this is as good as it gets right now to benchmark competition and that’s what I’m talking about today.)

The idea of being the best in the world, standing on a pedestal with your country’s national anthem playing… you representing your entire nation… “We are the best in the world at the 200m,” that’s powerful stuff.

That’s certainly a component number one to those tears you see. The media gets that.

Yes, grandma’s death as our athlete boarded the plane is the second component (or whatever tragedy has bestowed them). The media devours this aspect. As the music starts playing, the tears flowing, Jim Nance reminding us, “Her grandmother died just as Delta Flight 322 pulled back from the gate. Her final words were, ‘Win the gold Lonnie.'”

I think the biggest reason for the tears is what they don’t talk about. It’s a lifetime of preparation. It’s getting up at 3:30 every morning to start training at 4:00 a.m. It’s skipping holiday treats to stay on the program. It’s prioritizing training over normal socialization for a young person. Not being able to go out with friends and have fun… a sole purpose and focus on being the best in the world at something. That moment has arrived as the anthem is cued.

The dream is here.

The dream is now.

In my own way, I believe I am taking a large step towards realizing my dreams this coming week. On Friday, February 12, my reformatted newsletter comes out. It’s been a large focus of what I’ve been doing over the last four months.

Over these past four months I’ve been working hard behind the scenes to forge a path of “Where do I go from here?” I’ve got a fairly large catalog of work. I’ve got a decent-sized fanbase. I even have a hit on my hands with my book Bourbon Mixology which continues to sell well.

My plan to better engage my readers and social media followers starts with this edition of SAP News, my newsletter. I’m introducing what I’m calling a “magazine style” format… not in look, but content. Each issue will have original content: interviews, product tastings/demos, showcasing the talents of fellow artists, contests, free book giveaways. My old content was simply to provide an update with what was going on with my writing.

I feel like this shift in approach is going to be real big for me. It’s going to generate excitement and enthusiasm for the publication of SAP News, and in-turn, my writing.

Of course, you never know. The 200 meter race for instance, starts out with 50+ racers at the start of the Olympics. Through qualifying rounds they narrow the field to eight before the start of the final heat.

Don’t all eight, or 50+ for that matter, think it’s going to be them?

Don’t all of them presume this Olympic is going to be their moment?

Their culmination of a lifetime in training.

Their time as the best in the world?

Their final tribute to their dead NoNa?

No matter what happens on Friday, I’m good. I’ve got a whole business plan lined out for 2016 that I will adhere to whether Friday’s SAP News draws unprecedented interest in my work or it’s met with a collective yawn.

If it does generate a buzz, who knows, I might even shed a tear.

I miss you NoNa!

_______________________

Next week I’ll reveal the people who have an influence on my interview style.

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 Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Home Phone: I’m not giving you that!

THE QUESTIONS OF O.P.U.S.

I’ve got a good one for you here today…

First off, I have to say I’m having a helluva good time with my O.P.U.S. blog. Thus far, I’ve managed to stay in contact with everyone featured. I really am getting new friends via this social experiment.

Yes, you do always have to redefine “friend” when you are talking about the relationships developed online. This is challenging for some people, but, I’ve always segmented friendships in my mind. Your true “friends” are people in your everyday lives with whom you interact with because you enjoy them as a person and their company.

Another already existing segment of friendships, at least for me, is work friends. Over time, you develop relationships at work… people you just like to be around. Some of the relationships may carry over into your life outside of work where they become “real friends,” but most stay in the 8:00 – 5:00 realm of when you are working.

The newest friend-type is online frienships. These friendships don’t carry the baggage you may encounter with face-to-face relationships. It’s almost like the joy you hear grandparents discussing. They get the best times with their grandchildren, then when they are fussy, or they just want to do something without children, the kids go back to the parents. Same thing with online. Enter into that world when it suits you, exit when you’ve had enough.

I think one of the key drivers in establishing relationships with the people featured in my new blog is the questions. They are meant to be fun without being offensive and never intended to make fun of the person. I always say it’s like the two of us are having dinner and just talking.

Wait a second, you may be thinking dinner conversation never involves me answering “who the worst celebrity is in the history of celebrity” or asking me to rank my favorite cookies from a list.

Well, clearly you’ve never had dinner with me. For me, that’s exactly what dinner conversation is like. The premise for O.P.U.S. is a genuine one. I am truly fascinated with regular people… especially those who say they aren’t interesting. Clearly, those people are so fascinating they don’t want to share it, right?

I’m a believer that the way you get to the interesting stuff is to simply get people talking. If you say, “what are your hobbies” or “what do you like to do outside of work,” these questions are so commonplace you almost get canned answers from people. In our minds, it’s kind of like we have a rolodex of commonly asked questions and we draw upon that anytime these questions come up.

If you throw people a curve… something they haven’t asked before, then you might just find something out about the person way more interesting than the fact they enjoy reading, knitting and singing show tunes in their spare time.

Everyone seems to be enjoying the interviews at this point…me, the person being interviewed and those who are accessing them from Twitter and Instagram. I think I’m even up to 9 people now following me on Tumblr. These are people who likely found the interviews on their own and like them. While it’s a small number, I do like the fact there are people without a connection to me finding the interviews and liking them enough to follow me so they are sure to see all of them.

I do have some go-to questions I like to ask everyone… what they do for a living, where they are from, who would play them in a movie about their life. I think it’s great to have some consistency, plus it might be fun to look back and see how everybody answered the questions that carry over from interview-to-interview.

The real signature O.P.U.S. questions, though, are the crazy ones. I do have to say, it took a bit for me to hit my stride. Not because I didn’t think of the types of questions I really like, I was terrified of peoples responses to being asked them. It’s really tough, when you have no track record, to ask people funny questions. They just might think you are an internet-nut and move on. I feel like now, with a nice group of regular people answering these questions, and me retaining those relationships, my non “internet-nut” status is confirmed so I can ask away.

I’d like to present you now with my favorite 10 questions so far (presented in random order). For the answers, you need to proceed to steveakley.tumblr.com. Note that not all of these are posted just yet. I’ve got 11 posted so far an another 10, or so, waiting to be posted on my way to 100 when the project ends.

#1 – Tall Samm Lim – Tall Samm started it all for me. I had no idea how she was going to react with a request for an interview, especially because I couldn’t reference her to anything else, it was just an idea. Looking back, this one was pretty vanilla, but my favorite question for Samm was:

What’s your favorite nightmare dating story? – What a great way to just get a person talking about a story you know is going to be funny.

 

#2 Ray Taylor – Ray Taylor is a person I play the game Dice with Buddies with. He was just a random computer generated opponent that I’ve managed to continue to play against for quite a while. My favorite question for Ray was this one, which was the start of a reoccurring theme:

If you had your choice of being banned for life from one of these, which would you choose (remember, your selection means you never get to have this item or person again): A. Pizza  B. Sunglasses  C. Kate Upton – I love this question for a few reasons. First, it makes no sense. I mean how are you getting banned from these things anyway? Secondly, it was the introduction of Kate Upton into the questions. I think Kate Upton is, well she’s all right, let’s just say that. People don’t like her, though. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why. We can’t like someone who is attractive? We are jealous? I don’t know. What fascinates me about Kate is the fact one society is fascinated, yet negative about you, it then people often become anti-you just because that’s what everyone else does so I like asking about Kate to get a feel for how the person really is. My personal stand, I don’t care what society tells me I should think about Kate Upton, I just like her myself, so, for me, I guess I’d be banned from wearing sunglasses the rest of my life if this question was posed to me.

 

#3 Jenna Brownson – For Jenna, her question was more of a situation. Jenna is smart so I wanted to give her something really unique. Not even ask her a question, but pose her a situation and see how she reacted. If it isn’t a traditional Q&A would she quickly follow-up with a “where’s the question?” Check it out:

Waiter: “And for a side?”

Jenna: “Well, what are my choices?”

Waiter: “Homemade chips, curly fries, regular fries, seasoned fries, green beans or a side salad.” 

Jenna’s response was pure gold! She definitely came out on top of this battle of the wits.

 

#4 Mike Swain – The notable question from Mike’s interview was:

If you see someone fall down…nothing heinous like a serious injury, but there may be some significant bruising or ankle twisting, is your first inclination to be concerned with their well being or to laugh? – The ironic twist here being Mike is an x-ray technician. What are the chances I ask a person who helps injured people for a living a question like that?

 

#5 Stephanie Adlington – I feel kind of bad for Stephanie. She caught me on this crazy day and the questions I asked her were way out there. My favorite is:

Worst scenario for you:

  1. You walk into a restaurant called the “Condiment Cafe” and you realize they are out of all condiments except for ketchup… and the real killer is they don’t even have Heinz. They have Brooks…and that’s not even ketchup by the way…it’s catsup.
  2. You are dating a guy and he tells you he has made dinner and you look in the trash can and his “homemade” soup is Campbell’s red-and-white label chicken noodle (he did add parmesan and a bit of cracked black pepper to punch it up slightly).
  3. You get a job at the zoo and on day one they are all like, “Until Lester gets back the use of his left arm from that forearm strike you are going to have to take care of the King Cobra.”

This started a whole new line of questioning where I use the “worst scenario”. Look for this in several of the interviews.

 

#6 Lauren Elizabeth – Lauren is a photographer from Australia. My favorite question of her is a great one:

What does the stereotypical American look like? – I know that’s a loaded question and it was one Lauren really struggled with. She asked friends and family to have some input and she was worried the responses were way to harsh. When you ask for a “stereotype” you get kind of this worst case scenario where no one actually believes it, but it always just hangs out there. It is fun to hear what Aussies think of Americans…at least us at our worst via stereotypes.

 

#7 – Sarah Mitchell-Jackson – Sarah is the nicest person in the world. Despite her title, she’s still cool. You don’t normally see nice and cool staying together. Sarah’s got that going on so when I asked her this, I had no idea what she’d say:

If you joined the circus, what would your job be? – Sarah, as you can imagine, put together a well thought out answer!

 

#8 – Tina Williams – Tina Williams’ upcoming interview was unique in that it was a “friend of a friend.” Tina is the blogging buddy of Jenna Brownson, but we also follow each other on Twitter so I reached out to here. I like this question from that interview:

If the Antiques Roadshow came to town, what would you bring in for them to take a look at? – It’s just a cool question because it helps you find out a little about the person, and what potential undiscovered gem they may have.

 

#9 – Six Feet of Dynamite – Dynamite is an awesome person. She’s a character too. If you read through her entire feed you see a person who is passionate, fun and a good family person. That’s perfection  in my book. My personal favorite:

Six feet of dynamite. That’s name has a significant amount of punch to it. Are you the real deal or are perhaps really something like 5’-10 ½” and realized that didn’t have the right ring when you said it? – I mean she’s either going to like this question and see the humor in it, or she’s going to think I’m a real tool. Luckily, she like it and Dynamite and I are good friends who continue to check-in on each other from time-to-time.

 

#10 – The Dawn Husted – My longest online friendship. A true bud.  I like this long drawn out gem:

You are an outdoor enthusiast. Say your backpack for an overnighter only had room for three of the following, which of the three do you take (no need to overthink it, so if you select the ribeye, for instance, there is some sort of way to prepare it on this trip, an essentials like water and other provisions are already packed…these are your luxury items): 1). A Bottle of Bourbon 2). Your Hairbrush  3). A Ribeye  4). A Eyeliner  5). A Package of Fruit Stripe Gum 6). An Oversized Bottle of a Limited Edition Beer 7). A Book from Your Favorite Author 8). A Journal to Write In/Pen 9). A Bottle of Wine 10). A Bottle of Rum – I loved Dawn’s answer too. She’s no diva. 100% cool cat that one is! (Yes, I know that last sentence isn’t really correct, but it sounds cool, right?)

With 80 more interviews still to go, there are plenty of unique questions still to be asked. I hope you check out O.P.U.S. if you haven’t already!

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Next week we’ll take a look at where I’m at in my writing career. It’s self-assessment time!

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 Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Home Phone: I’m not giving you that!

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!