Tag Archives: writing

IT’S BECAUSE I WRITE 6/10

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

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

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Today, I’m going to tell you about a story that took me 35 years to complete…

The first writing assignment I ever got was a one page assignment to write a short fiction story in third grade. My idea was to write this story about two boys, Frank and Dirk, who had heard about this mysterious island called Bear Island. They decided to go off on their own on an adventure to the island.

Doing so meant a  challenging traverse in a kayak on an island they had heard was quite dangerous. Eventually the boys would stumble across the bear that had been the thing of legend in their town.

So I started writing about Frank and Dirk and their friendship. That led to their plan to go to Bear Island. Then I wrote about the the crossing the ocean to get to Bear Island in a kayak. The boys were quickly in over their head when the seas picked up. They paddled harder-and-harder, but the sea was getting angier. Finally, one wave, the size of which the boys had never seen before, lifted them in their kayak and slammed it down onto land. Both boys rendered uncouncious from the impact. Dirk woke up first and shook his friend awake with the line, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island.”

Then…

That was it. I was out of space. My page was full. I blew the assignment. I never even got to the adventure. They never even encountered the bear.

F.

I went to my Mom and asked her what to do. She read my one-page story in my kid handwritten script (no computers back then) and she told me it was really good.

Wait, she didn’t even get it. This wasn’t complete.

I protested telling her there was no adventure. And the bear. What about the bear?

She told me I didn’t need any of that. The adventure was getting there. The plan, the execution, the angry sea. That was my adventure. That was the story. You leave it where they crash land on Bear Island and let the reader imagine the adventure. You set it up with your stories about mystery and intrigue and then you put your characters in the spot. You have left the reader to decide in their minds what happened to those boys.

Hmmmm.

I mean I think she made all of that up, but it didn’t sound bad.

Taking my Mom’s advice, I brought my story to class with me. We actually had to read them to the class and I have to say I was in good form that day. I really accentuated the tossing and turing in that kayak and I really hit the mark with the line, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island.”

Applause. My teacher, Mrs. Varusa, loved it too.

A.

Wow, that really fueled my desire to become a writer. It wouldn’t be anything I ever acted on though until 2012/2013 after my Dad passed away.

That story never left me all of those years. I would often think about Frank and Dirk and their adventure. That line too, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island” just stuck in my head. Like a real movie line where you apply it to everday life (people who are into movie lines will get that reference). For me, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island” would pop into my head for more than 30 years everytime I was on some new adventure. For example, like when I was walking in the door on the first day of my new job back in 1998 at the company I still work for, I remember that line popping into my head, “Frank, I think we are on Bear Island.”

Yep, just like Mom said. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but an adventure is coming!

About a year into writing and publishing, I got the idea of publishing short stories. The first one I wrote was the Legend of Bear Island.

Haida Bear

The new, updated Legend of Bear Island has the complete history of the island. It has our boys, Frank and Dirk, go on an adventure and now, finally, we get to see exactly what happened to them after regaining conciousness on the beach.

It’s still one of the favorite things I have ever written. The story is inriguing, funny, adventure-filled and immediately brings me back to the third grade version of myself, crafting that story on lined paper with a pencil, sharing it with my Mom and then reading it to the class.

Finishing this gem, only happened to me because I write!

If you would like to check out the Legned of Bear Island, it is available for your Kindle device 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: 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

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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

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!