Tag Archives: indie

HOW LONG IS YOUR WRITING “TO-DO” LIST?

On Friday, I sat down and started to write down what I needed to do to get caught up with my writing over the weekend. I stopped at line 15 knowing I already had more than I could accomplish.

When you are self-published author trying to build a personal brand, it’s easy to overwhelm yourself. After all, you are doing the jobs a team would be assisting you with had you gone the traditional route.

The good news is, things are starting to pay-off for me. Hard work is getting recognized. My latest project, The Bourbon Show, which is a podcast/collaboration with Evan Haskill and Seth Brown, is really doing well. People seem to really like it both in terms of feedback received and the all-important download stats.Also, the industry is taking note. We are lining up some incredible guests for future shows.

I honestly don’t know what the endgame is with my writing/online magazine publishing/podcasting career, but I do know it’s fun. Yes, I have a list of over 15 things I need to be doing right now… and I will get to them, but I have to say everything that is going remains something I like to do.

As long as it stays that way, and I continue to work hard, I’m convinced everything else will simply fall into place.

__________________

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

Coming Sunday: More random thoughts on my writing career.

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

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

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

Sign Up for Steve’s SAP News (writing updates) Newsletter: Email Registration

Sign up for Bourbon Zeppelin (bourbon newsletter): Email Registration

Check out the latest issue of Bourbon Zeppelin: See it here!

ABV Network/A Podcast Channel for Alcohol-Themed Podcastsabvnetwork.com

The Bourbon Show on iTunes: Download it here!

The Bourbon Show on Google Play: Download it here!

The Bourbon Show on Stitcher: Download it here!

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

WHAT’S NEXT?

Have just completed a 10 part series reflecting back on my writing, I picked up the laptop this morning and wondered “Where do I go from here?”

It’s interesting that a question about what to write next for this blog is also reflective of my writing in general. Over the next several week I will be publishing 3 books. Brain Tsunami, Bourbon Mixology (volume 3) and Coffee & Holiday Mixology.

These three books represent the culmination of some really hard work. Normally, this would simply get me working on three new projects (maybe 5). With the successful launch of my Bourbon Zeppelin newsletter, and the launch of a podcast network (abvnetwork.com), I have to be much more cautious about what I am doing to ensure I don’t overextend myself.

Once these are published, I’m going to focus solely on two books. One is a collaborative piece with blogger Evan Haskill. This is more of a research piece… something you can do while watching TV. The other is a biography. I’m not saying who it is just yet, but let’s just say it’s going to appeal to my growing audience of bourbon fans.

I am excited about these two new project. I think both are going to be well received and I look forward to what the future brings.

_______________________

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

Coming Sunday: More random thoughts on my writing career.

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

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

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

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!

ABV Network/A Podcast Channel for Alcohol-Themed Podcastsabvnetwork.com

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 10/10

I have been doing a bit of a retrospective over my three years of writing by listing the top 10 things that have happened to me since I have started writing.

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

#5 of 10 – The Time My Books Were Featured on TV

#6 of 10 – The Story I Took 35 Years to Complete

#7 of 10 – Bourbon Mixology

#8 or 10 – Telephone Call with a St. Louis Legend

#9 of 10 – My Social Media Friends/Collaborations

———————————–

In this post…

My Next Adventure

Wow… this is it. I’m already at number 10 and i think I could do 10 more of these. As I close out this series with this post, it’s my hope you take away how much it has meant to me to simply start writing. It all began in late December 2012, after my father passed away. I published my first book in March of 2013. It’s been nothing but a positive experience, or as this series has shown, perhaps better stated a series of positive experiences.

That leads us to one final story here. This one wasn’t in the mix when I started this series. In fact, three weeks ago it wasn’t even something I had on my radar. Yet, here I am today preparing to tell you about my next chapter in my personal brand.

It all started with the release of the July 1 edition of Bourbon Zeppelin, my “all things bourbon” newsletter. In order to increase awareness about this second issue of my start-up publication I did an interview with my social media buddy Evan Haskill for his blog The Bourbon Guy and Rye.

One of the questions Evan asked me was why do I call my book publishing company SAP Entertainment. I went into how I didn’t care about a publisher’s name when I started self-publishing my books so I just called my publisher Steve Akley Publishing (each book must have a publisher listed so as someone who self-publishes, you can create the name of a publishing company or you can just use your own name like I did). I explained that using “Steve Akley Publishing” for books written by Steve Akley can be viewed as a negative by many people who are just inherently against self-publishing. Plus, it limits what I can do with the brand. In the future. I may be helping others publish their books, or I could go into other things an individual can do on their own to build a media brand like podcasting. In fact, I had even toyed with the idea of starting a podcast or  a newsletter prior to launching Bourbon Zeppelin, but went with BZ since I know about writing newsletters and podcasting would involve learning a whole new skillset for the technical components to doing it.

So the answer was about the switch and reasoning behind it from Steve Akley Publishing to SAP Entertainment. Simply put, with SAP Entertainment (SAP being for Steve Akley Publishing) I could do more with it.

One of the people who read that interview was Seth Brown.

At that time, I really only marginally knew Seth Brown. I had interviewed him via email for my O.P.U.S. interview blog (check it out here) but I hadn’t kept up with him after the interview. I really knew him more as a contributor on another of my favorite whiskey blog… The Son of Winston Churchill blog. Seth had been buddies with Hasse Berg, the blogs creator and had recently started working with Hasse on SoWC. For those who read Bourbon Zeppelin, you probably know Hasse Berg as the Associate Editor and columnist there.

If you asked me about Seth Brown three weeks ago, here’s what I would have had for you:

  1. He is a good guy. I knew this from both his relationship from Hasse Berg as well as my interaction with him when I interviewed him for O.P.U.S.
  2. He lives in Atlanta.
  3. He is a contributor on Hasse Berg’s site.

Little did I know this good guy, Atlanta living, buddy of Hasse Berg was reading my interview with Evan Haskill. One thing not on my list of what I knew about Seth Brown was the fact he used to do a podcast. When he read my interview, he had been thinking about getting back in the game so he reached out to me via direct message on Instagram.

His note mentioned he was starting a podcasting network, with all alcohol themed shows and went into some of the details including another guy who would do a beer show. I thought he was pitching me the idea of doing a show on his network. While I mentioned in my interview I wanted to do a podcast, I really guard what I create. I’m big into creating and owning my content. Additionally, I don’t like answering to people about what I’m doing. I want the freedom and control of if I create it…it’s mine. I never factor in money, or future potential into anything I do. It may be shortsighted but for me, but I have a job. Everything I do creatively is done as a hobby, for fun, so I want to do it my own way and I want to retain ownership of that content it’s mine whether it’s a success or a failure.

Since I thought Seth was pitching me on the idea of a show on his network, it was a little grey. I wouldn’t be doing this my way… but he had the knowledge of how to do something I did want to do. Also, this wasn’t a big company where I would be their puppet. It was just a guy doing something on his own.

So, Seth’s inquiry did open up a dialogue.

We went back-and-forth for about a week before I told him I would do it. That’s when Seth said were in this thing 50/50. It’s our network. We both bring things to the table and it’s been a we have been on fast-forward ever since. Seth and I are building a podcast channel which will have shows we are doing as well as others. It’s called the ABV Network, which since it’s all alcohol-themed shows means “alcohol by volume” to the public… but behind the scenes it’s Akley Brown Ventures.

Out of the gate we will have two shows:

  1. The beer show led by Seth’s buddy Wayne.
  2. A yet-to-be-named bourbon show led by Seth and I. Best of all, we have spoken to Evan Haskill, the guy who really got all of this going, and he is going to join us on this show as the announcer and reading the news.

For Seth and I, this couldn’t be any better. I think our skills complement one another’s and there is overlap in keys areas where we need it like creativity, drive and vision. We’ve got a lot of great ideas and big plans. Hopefully, our next show after these two initial ones will be one called Bourbon Zeppelin and we’ll have all of the crew from the newsletter involved.

You can follow all of the progress by following Seth and I on social media or checking our our web page (abvnetwork.com) once it’s up and running.

Like anything I’ve done to date, I don’t know what this opportunity brings, but I do know working with Seth will be fun. If we can bring  our personal happiness to the audience, I think success will find us.

This… like everything else I have shared in this special series has only happened for one reason.

IT’S BECAUSE 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: Back to our regularly scheduled program! Random thoughts on my writing career.

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

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

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

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!

ABV Network/A Podcast Channel for Alcohol-Themed Podcastsabvnetwork.com

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 9/10

I have been doing a bit of a retrospective over my three years of writing by listing the top 10 things that have happened to me since I have started writing.

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

#5 of 10 – The Time My Books Were Featured on TV

#6 of 10 – The Story I Took 35 Years to Complete

#7 of 10 – Bourbon Mixology

#8 or 10 – Telephone Call with a St. Louis Legend

———————————–

In this post…

My New Friends

One of the greatest elements to come out of my writing has been the incredible new friends I have picked up via social media. Prior to beginning to publish books in 2013, I wasn’t involved in any form of social media other than LinkedIn. I actually only joined that site as it became a requirement of my job at that time (I ran a private group we had).

While most people are on social media, those who aren’t totally get what I’m saying when I say I had no interest in any form of social media (though, they aren’t reading this since…well, they aren’t on social media). Okay, for those of you on social media and have embraced it forever, how can I explain my disdain for it. Well, it’s like this. You know how you feel about whatever social media platform you don’t use? Well, that’s how I felt about all social media.

What does that mean?

Well, if you are a Facebook person, but you don’t do Twitter, it’s because Facebook provides you with meaningful relationships and time-worthy insight into the lives of friends, family and social media buddies.

Twitter on the other hand…

Well it’s just for people who want to spy on others or share stupid updates on what they are eating right now. You don’t have time for that. Facebook, though. That’s great.

The problem is, you turn it around and it’s the Twitter person who is only making meaningful connections and Facebook is a complete waste of time in their eyes…or Instagram…or Snap Chat. (I barely even know what that one is…I mean who has time for the meaningless interactions…wait, there I go!)

Anyway, in 2013, I joined social media not to make friends, or even interact with others but to promote my work.

Somewhere along this journey, I started making friends. Not just virtual buddies where you like each other’s photos and make an occasional comment… like real friendships. Once I opened up to the concept, and redefined the term “friendship” in my own head, it’s been great. I’ve traded tough to find bourbons with people. I’ve used many of the people I’ve met online to seek advice from. You can’t believe the help I’ve gotten from people I’ve never met or even talked to on the phone with some of the projects I’m working on. I’ve built up interest in my work by interviewing new people with my O.P.U.S. blog.

The biggest surprise has been the collaborations. I’ve got a strong network of friends I’ve been buddies with since grade school. They aren’t necessarily into bourbon and writing like I am. Online, I’ve been able to find people with totally different lives than my own who I completely connect with based on the interests we have. We’ve turned these common interests into these really fun collaborations that evolve into such cool things. I know Evan Haskill, Amanda Hoppes and I have worked together from some really fun posts on Evan’s thebourbonguyandrye.com blog. Jenna Brownson, Amanda Hoppes, Samm Lim and I finished an eBook called Brain Tsunami we will be publishing soon. Evan and I are working on a book that is going to be really strong. Something we would want in our own library so it has to be interest to others, right?

Just this past week, I had someone reach out to me which could prove to be the biggest thing I’ve done to date. I’m not telling you about that one just yet. Nope. You gotta wait for that one until next week because it’s going to close out this series. It’s the capper to an incredible look back at what’s happened to me since I started writing.

All of these connections, and opportunities, come from one source and one thing alone…

It’s 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 finish 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

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

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

TIME TO TALK BOURBON ZEPPELIN

BZ Logo

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

It’s almost time.

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

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

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

So why the name Bourbon Zeppelin?

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

Bourbon Zeppelin… like Led Zeppelin.

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

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

Perfection!

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

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

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

All of the content comes in three ways.

1). I create it.

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

3). Industry insiders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________

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

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

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

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

The OPUS Blog: steveakley.tumblr.com

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

Sign Up for Steve’s Newsletters: Email Registration

Twitter: @steveakley

Instagram: @steveakley

What’s App: Steve Akley

Untappd: steveakley

Home Phone: I’m not giving you that!

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!

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!

_______________________

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!

MY VISIT TO OZARK DISTILLERY

Ozark Distillery Building

Ozark Distillery in Osage Beach, Missouri, about 3 hours from my home in St. Louis

Last week I wrote the fact I was preparing to start work at Ozark Distillery. Well, that happened last Sunday and Monday and I can’t begin to tell you how cool this opportunity was.

Owners Dave & Tiffhany Hoffman simply could not have been nicer. Dave, who handles production, had the perfect scenario aligned for a guy who is interested in bourbon. He had two barrels perfectly aged and ready to go. He had a previously cooked mash perfectly fermented and ready to distill. This meant I could see the entire process. Dave and I milled the corn, barley and grains. We cooked a mash. We distilled a fermented mash. We emptied two barrels. We filled bottles, corked them, sealed and labeled them.

Did I mention we drank some bourbon?

It was, without a doubt, one of the most interesting, fun and exciting activities I have ever done.

So what happens now?

Well, while I had a lot of fun, I was also working. During the down times, I was interviewing Dave in preparation for writing a book about Ozark Distillery. The plan is to make this book available on Amazon and in their gift shop. I’ve already started some preliminary work on the book. I’ve interviewed a bourbon historian and started reading a book on the history of bourbon recommended by the bourbon historian. Dave wants a little history mixed in with his story so this should be very helpful.

I have to tell you, if every book was as fun to write as this one has been, I’d have a 1,000 books in my catalog!

At Ozark Distillery

Here’s me, as happy as can be, checking out some bourbon aging in the barrel house.

_______________________

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: Nothing planned, we’ll see what comes up 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

Home Phone: I’m not giving you that!