Do Not Let Pressure From Your Fans Get To You When You’re an Author

PopovichStanGuest post by Stan Popovich

Dealing with peer pressure can very stressful when you’re a successful author. It can be very difficult not to give in to your friends and other people when you become a well known author. As a result, here are some suggestions on how to manage the stresses and anxieties of dealing with peer pressure.

The most important thing to do is to know where you stand when dealing with your book.  Ask yourself if you are willing to do something that your friends want you do. Think about it and determine for yourself where you stand on a certain task or issue. Ask yourself if it is the right thing to do. Determine what you want to do.

Once you know where you stand, you need to communicate this to your fans and other people. Explain to them what your goals. Give them reasons on why you feel this way. Be willing to answer their questions so they understand where you are coming from.

Be firm in your decision and show confidence. Some people will continue to argue with you and this is where you need to show that you mean business. Do not give in to their arguments. Do what is right and stand by with your decision. This can be tough but remember you’re the person who is making the decisions and you need to do what is best for you and your book business.

Hang out with different people who do not respect your decisions. If your friends really like you, they need to respect you. Nobody wants to be with people who are trying to get them to do something that will lead to future problems.

Doing what is best for you will save you a lot of trouble in the long run. It is better to play it safe than to be sorry.

 

BIOGRAPHY:

Stan Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods”. Stan’s managing fear book has become very popular with over 300 positive book reviews and counting. Please read the many book reviews of Stan’s popular book by going to Stan’s website at http://www.managingfear.com/

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Woman and Digitalism

Guest Post by Shella Vugomzki

(Monologue of a woman of a certain age)

To me, living in modern age means, apart from other things, constantly being reminded about my less than satisfactory digitalism.   Ok, with a passage of time each of us has to adjust to the notion of working harder to mitigate the impact of inevitable change on the body and mind.  As if it isn’t enough, digitalism has risen rapidly from obscurity and become a very serious issue, especially for those whose interests belong to humanitarian domain.   Technology debased many of the longings for the times when women’s hands were kissed and the balls were held in the candlelight mansions.  Of course, it would be very nice to be pursued by a few romantically inclined gentlemen…. 

Unfortunately, everything comes at a price.  Wouldn’t it be awful to be considered already old at my age?   What would I do without my gym, jeans, computer, TV set, mobile phone — to crochet during the long evenings and travel for weeks and months on bumpy and dusty roads to see the world?   What about my favorite e-books I love to read during the hours of flight?  Mind you, it is also a window of opportunity for a man to strike a conversation with me.  Should I ditch it? No way. I am not willing to give up what the digital world provides.  Wholeheartedly, I opt for my life in digital age with all the frustration at digitalism or to be correct, at my lack of the necessary skills.  At the end of the day, skills can be mastered.  Don’t you agree?

Shella Vugomzki is an Australian-educated counselor of Ukrainian background who is passionate about motivating weight loss, self-esteem and goal achievement. Letters to my Girlfriend about Love, Weight and Peaceful Revolution is her first book. 

Consider This!

 

Guest Blog Post by Patricia Budd

I think I need to start a blog responding Religious Right Wing news articles that claim Christians are being persecuted by gay activists! Here is my reaction to “9 Reasons You Will be Made to Care” posted by The Family Leader.

http://www.thefamilyleader.com/you-will-be-made-to-care/

The article begins, of course, by stating that all “across the nation, Christians are being targeted by homosexual activists who’s agenda is clear: approve of my lifestyle or pay the consequences! At first, the cases were few and far between. Now the number of cases are building, and the collective threat is growing, with the goal of suffocating Christians’ vocal opposition to promoting a lifestyle which is not consistent with their faith.” Targeted? Yeah, right. Only if you consider self-defense a means of targeting people. As for suffocating, “Christian’s vocal opposition to promoting a lifestyle which is not consistent with their faith”, just because you base your hate on faith does not mean you have a right to spew your hate in a public forum and it should never mean you can create laws based on that hate

Next complaint: “…business who have been attacked legally after refusing to provide serves (their mistake not mine!) based on their firmly held religious beliefs.  One would think, ‘How can they be accused of freely practicing their faith?'”

No one is being accused of freely practicing their faith. People are being accused of refusing services (not serves) based on prejudice! You should seriously rethink your faith if it tells you to be an active bigot in your community!

More whining: “Doesn’t the First Amendment provide us freedom of religion?”

Um, doesn’t the American Constitution open with the idea that ALL MEN WERE CREATED EQUAL?  

The Family Leader then goes on to cite 9 cases where Christians who expressed their faith (by being bigots) were oppressed by law or gay activists.

1. “In London, an American evangelist was arrested for saying homosexuality is a sin while he was doing some sidewalk preaching.”

Oh, so, sorry, I guess in England it is illegal to spout bigotry on the streets! Good on you England!

2. “In Australia, a new television ad campaign includes an ultra-sound technician telling a young couple, “Congratulations, you’re having a lesbian.”

Cleary the FACT that one is born gay has yet to dawn on those of the religious right!

3. “In California a bill was passed that allows boys to use the girls’ bathrooms/locker rooms, and vice versa.”

Clearly the FACT that some people are born with gender dysphoria escapes these people, too!

4. “In Seattle, homosexual activists were captured on video brutally beating a Christian street preacher.”

I agree that violence is inexcusable. Reverse prejudice is happens (I say this without condoning it) due to the build up of anger at being abused for so long that something inside individuals snap. I am not excusing this behavior, however, it comes as a result of having been abused for a very long time. Any minority who has undergone abusive treatment can very likely say that they have felt intense anger against those who abuse them. When I was younger and bullied there were times I wanted to lash out at my abusers. I never did, but I know where those feelings come from!

5. “Next year, the Disney Channel will feature a lesbian couple on one of its TV sitcoms aimed at youth.”

WAY TO GO DISNEY CHANNEL! Progress towards acceptance and understanding is happening!

6. “In New Mexico, a photographer’s refusal to service a gay wedding on religious grounds violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act.”

Good! I am pleased to know that there is another country out there that makes it illegal for bigots to withhold services to people based on prejudice.

7. “In Colorado, a baker faces up to a year in jail for refusing to make a wedding cake for a homosexual couple on religious conscience grounds, even though state law doesn’t recognize any union other than a marriage between a man and a woman.”

I guess this means you are living in a country that has laws to protect minorities from bigots! God Bless America!

8. “In Iowa, Betty and Dick Odgaard, owners of Görtz Haus Gallery in Grimes, are under attack after declining services to a same-sex “marriage.” 

 

IBID!

 

“And if you want to see what unfettered “love and compassion” look like from homosexual activists, just click on the link and read what kind of hate mail they received.  Pretty ripe stuff coming from people who say their lifestyle is all about “loving someone.”

 

I agree hate speech is vile regardless of who slings it! Now, let’s have a sneak peek at the kind words expressed by good Christians in response to this article shall we:

rpp

 

Aug. 9, 2013 at 5:05pm

 

It is so predictable that these mentally unstable deviants are so utterly intolerant. Homosexuals cannot tolerate the truth. They cannot tolerate dissent. The only hate being expressed is from the homosexuals.

Nice, loving, thoughtful Christians words-NOT!

Perkins

 

Aug. 9, 2013 at 5:07pm

 

@ HarryPotter

 

“Or, maybe we could just treat everyone equally…”

 

Says the guy who wants to force Betty and Dick into involuntary servitude.

 

Thanks for the laugh. Please come back when you want to try actual freedom.

 

And that makes a lot of sense. What servitude, exactly, is going to happen to poor Betty Dick due to John and Jake or Jane and Julie getting legally wed? Might it be that you might just have to accept seeing John and Jake holding hands? Might it be that you might actually hear Jane telling Julie how much she loves her and then – OH NO – give her a quick kiss went they part, or meet up? Yikes, servitude indeed! Right back at you, Perkins, thanks for the laugh!

AvengerK

 

Aug. 9, 2013 at 5:14pm

 

HARRYPORTHOLE…the homosexuals involved should thank the business owner for his time and go to where their fantasy of normalcy will be catered to. This is what sane and normal people do when a business is wrong for them..they go to a business that is right for them.

 

This guy goes on and on but his loving words are clearly evidenced in the first few lines, beginning with his Christian adaptation of HarryPotter! Loving Christian words, indeed!

Balatincz

 

Aug. 9, 2013 at 5:16pm

 

wouldn’t matter If you set up a gay chapel these pathetic people would sill come just for the fact to sue someone for discrimination nothing more other than for money they would continue to find places just to get there ugly faces on tv or get attention and lets not forget the money only thing we can do is stand behind his business and all like them chick filet ect. keep them in business and shut these hypocrits up calling someone haters and turn then threaten them such loosers who is spewing hate here.. the gays

 

The gays? really? Let’s reword your rant and see how lovingly Christian it really sounds: “wouldn’t matter If you set up a straight chapel these pathetic people would sill come just for the fact to sue someone for discrimination nothing more other than for money they would continue to find places just to get there ugly faces on tv or get attention and lets not forget the money only thing we can do is stand behind his business and all like them chick filet ect. keep them in business and shut these hypocrits up calling someone haters and turn then threaten them such loosers who is spewing hate here.. the straights…”

 

 

 

Again, though I do not condone hate speech be it result of reverse prejudice (IE having to put up with people like the above spewing their hate on you for so long you end up sputtering hate back in response) it is inevitable that while you continue to abuse others they will inevitably fight back. Many are struggling to fight back using Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of non-violent revolution but as is clearly evidenced by the loving religious right, even the best of us can get upset when abuse is hurled at them.

9. Another example of homosexual activists going after businesses is Barilla Pasta

Who the gay activists said nothing about until the owner of Barilla Pasta publically condemned homosexuality, insisting (much like yourselves) that the only true family is a heterosexual family. Do I feel sorry for Barilla, no? Do I feel sorry for the poor oppressed Christian bigots crying because they are being condemned for being bigots? Not a chance!

Now, oh so cruelly persecuted Christian Right, I’ve decided to create a list of my own to compare to your 9 reasons. Consider this. Balance your woes against what you and others like you put the LGBT* community through. Since February 2013 no less, and I assure you A LOT MORE, than 7 men were murdered for being gay.

1. A a young Somali man stoned to death for being gay.

http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.ca/2013/03/gay-teen-stoned-to-death-in-somalia.html

2. Vladislov Tornovol – murdered May, 2013 – Russia

(http://rt.com/news/man-killed-homophobia-russia-198/)

3. 39 year old senior administrator at an airport – murdered May, 2013

(http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/06/03/uk-russia-killing-gay-idUKBRE9520A120130603)

4. Mark Carson – murdered May 2013 – New York City, USA

(http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/412699/protest-rally-planned-after-gay-man-murdered-in-manhattan)

5. Hashem al-Asmi – murdered July 2013 – Yemen

(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/16/hashem-al-asmi-yemeni-gay-man-killed-al-qaeda_n_3603025.html)

6. Eric Ohena Lembembe – murdered July 2013 – Cameroon

(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/16/eric-ohena-lembembe-killed-dead_n_3604460.html)

7. Dwayne Jones – murdered July 2013 – Jamaica

(http://www.ibtimes.com/boom-bye-bye-murder-cross-dresser-lifts-lid-jamaicas-violent-homophobia-1370173)

Consider this (one list isn’t enough, the abuses against the LGBT* are so numerous I need to categorize them).  Since February of 2013 the following men (and no doubt MORE) were brutally beaten for being gay.

1. Wilfred de Bruijn of Paris, France was brutally beaten for walking arm and arm with his lover.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/09/gay-man-french-homophobia-facebook

2. A Gay man was attacked on a New York City Subway while onlookers simply watched.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/21/gay-man-attacked-new-york-city-subway-hate-crime_n_2733441.html

3. “Jared Fox…26-year-old victim claims that a group of 20 young men beat him as he walked from his car to the establishment.”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/03/youre-one-of-those-broke-fots-video-captures-gay-man-being-beaten-on-the-street-during-alleged-hate-crime/

4. In Russia a 20 year old man is beaten and raped for being gay. His attackers, proud of the fact that they “made him sit on a bottle so that he repents for his sins and comes to reason”.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/09/14/russian-video-reportedly-shows-gay-student-beaten-and-raped-at-gunpoint/

5. 23 yr old Jared R. Olsen was badly beaten for being gay.

 

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/denver-police-conduct-hate-crime-probe-after-gay-man-says-he-was-beaten-by-men-shouting-gay-slurs

Consider this (have you taken note oppressed Christians, I’m on my third list – each having been abridged). The following hate statements have been made about the LGBT* community) not including the lovely verses written above):

1.  “Kevin Swanson, Anti-Gay Pastor, Claims Gays Will ‘Burn Christians At The Stake’”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/kevin-swanson-gays_n_2625101.html

 

2. Christian Blogger claims Michael Bresciani “Satan is using President Obama and the LGBT community to usher in the Antichrist”

 

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/christian-post-blogger-claims-demonic-dream-homosexuality-and-evolution-furthering-last-days

3.  Pastor Steve Branson “called the Episcopal Church’s acceptance of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson ‘just another step on the slippery slope to the destruction of the life that we know in America.’ He (also) cited growing acceptance of same-sex marriage as evidence that America is ‘spinning out of control” and has lost its “discipline to live a good and decent life.’”

 

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/10/02/meet-the-anti-gay-pastor-fueling-fox-news-chris/196219

 

4. “Pat Robertson Wants Facebook ‘Vomit’ Button For Gay Posts”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/08/pat-robertson-vomit-button-gay_n_3562941.html

I really could go on and on and on and on (much like the energizer bunny) and not even have to dip past the numerous crimes committed only this year! . I’ve already topped you 9 and haven’t even listed half of what I have read since I opened my GSA on Facebook! Cry all you want about how persecuted you feel but your list PALES in comparison to everything Rightwing Religious Fanatics have committed against the LGBT* community.

 

Stone Soup for Thanksgiving

Guest Post by Malana Ashlie

 

About 10 years ago, I stepped outside conventional American thinking to look at our holidays as they might appear to people outside our culture; Thanksgiving was one of the first. As much as I love the aroma of roasting turkey and pumpkin pie, a part of me is appalled by the mass slaughter and gluttony that a day created for giving thanks has become. I decided NOT to support that aspect of it anymore. I wanted to focus only on the gratitude portion.

My first thought was to dedicate the day for fasting. The idea of showing gratitude for my health by giving my digestion a 1-day vacation felt right. The food I would have eaten, or the money saved, could go to families less fortunate. However, after years of hosting dinners at my home I found it difficult to retrain friends and relatives that expected to enjoy the old traditions.

Once we moved to Central America, I thought it would be easier to honor my personal intent.  Many of our local Spanish neighbors had family living in the U.S. and their curiosity about the holiday led me to preparing the normal feast, again. As I placed food, sufficient to feed their families for a month, on the table before them their eyes reinforced what my heart was telling me. I did not want to do this again. So as the next Thanksgiving approached, I  announced to my husband that he was on his own for the day.  My announcement promoted him to accept an invitation from missionaries on the beach where we would be having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I stood there dazed, wondering if I would ever be strong enough to follow my heart on this subject.

The perfect solution came during the feast of Thanks with the missionaries. An exhausted woman shared that she and one employee prepared the entire meal of turkey, ham and beef. When I asked why she had not allowed any of us to bring a dish, she responded that the poor could not afford to bring so she preferred no one did.  Those words triggered the memory of a story I had learned years ago; the story of STONE SOUP.

The story tells of a hungry young traveler who happens upon a small rural village. He goes door-to-door asking for food in exchange for work, but always the doors are slammed in his face. The young man resorts to trickery, promising to cook a pot of stone soup for the village if they lend him a cauldron. By the end of the day, every villager has contributed something toward making a huge pot of soup and they all sit and share together. The traveler’s deception becomes a lesson in community and oneness.

Here was the true essence of Thanksgiving with the attitude of sharing that I felt the day should have.  The next year I wrote out invitations for my neighbors and found help to translate them into Spanish. They and their families were invited to share Stone Soup.  The invitation requested each family bring an item for the soup the day before. Meanwhile, I went to the beach to find the perfect stone.

Over fifty people ate soup that Thanksgiving day. There was a mix of Spanish neighbors, volunteers from around the globe with a sprinkling of missionaries. It was such a great event that we have repeated it every year since. Before the food is blessed and we eat, someone tells the Stone Soup story in Spanish and English so the message of gratitude, sharing and oneness is never forgotten.

Malana Ashlie, author of the award-winning Gringos in Paradise: Our Honduras Odyssey (April 2007) and the newly published The Threaded Gem Adventure, lives on the Caribbean Coast of Honduras in Central America.

Along with her degrees in holistic healing and metaphysics, her education includes tutoring from traditional elders of the Mayan and Hawaiian cultures, as well as teachers of sacred traditions of the First Nations. She writes books and articles about restoring balance and connection with the Earth and using nutrition for healing. Malana practices her theories of nutrition on her two pet rabbits, dog, and cat as well as her husband and neighbors.

Malana also has a Single Mother’s Hand-Up Project that helps create strong home based businesses for women in her area who have been deserted by their husbands. 

You can connect with her via her Website: http://www.wisdompathway.com/desk.htm

or on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ahealingperspective?ref=hl

Exercise & Health Dissertation For Seniors

Guest post by Jan Geo

I am eighty years old. I have managed my body for sixty.

I am my own doctor (without degrees without license to practice and without office).

I am my own patient.

I probably have had four different tenures of ten years each with a primary care physician, three men and one woman, and I remember each of them vividly because of their words and their care. I did not always follow their counsel, mainly because they mostly saw me as a case, and I, who micro-managed my life, experienced the details and was responsible for the actions directly and certainly their consequences.

Healthcare, for most people, I think, means primarily examination and counseling by a primary care physician once a year for fifteen minutes. When the structure, muscles and bones, start giving problems in their forties, the physiotherapist and other specialists enter the health maintenance support system. To my mind, the nutritionist should come in much sooner and be directly counseled by more often, before the ulcers, the frayed nerves, the fatigue and sleep troubles start.

Primary care physicians are often traditionalist sticking with the consensus dietary wisdom of the past. They disrespect how much the body and the mind is influenced by the food we eat, and how it is eaten. There’s also conflict between the doctor and the physiotherapist, the doctor again often says – ‘take an aspirin, get some rest, and sleep it off.’ The physiotherapist knows better; he/she knows that seemingly small issues like a callous on a foot, a neck spasm, a slump in the spine, persist and escalate over time, do cause finally serious health problems.

All three doctors deal with the same subject, my or your body; they are however different disciplines with different treatments, although they attempt to deal with the entirety, the whole that is you or me. Ideally the disciplines should all be embodied by one healer, a holistic practitioner – the whole body with all its systems, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, endocrine, respiratory, nervous, digestive, lymphatic, integumentary, and reproductive systems.

I do not have much biological knowledge of the functions of my organs – heart, lungs, kidney, liver, pancreas, intestines, large and small; nor much knowledge of the chemistry they depend on; I do not understand the body’s systems, but I do monitor them all, consciously some of the time, semi-consciously often, and unconsciously constantly.

This dissertation is on exercise for the aging structural system, a subject I do know a great about – its bones, muscles, tendons, joints, discs and especially the spinal column. It is my theory that when the human animal stood upright, by mutation and by adaption, as homo erectus, more than one million years ago, and the presumed ancestor to the 200,000 year-old homo sapien, our spinal column became the most vulnerable part of our structural body. The average weight of the head 15 lbs, the trunk, with most of the organs 60 lbs, and arms each 10 lbs, was now to be carried vertically on the uprightness of the spinal column. This required muscular stabilizing with three groups of muscles, the abdominal, the back muscles, and the deep interior muscles, the iliopsoas, to allow bending and twisting of this column, whose bottom three fused sacral vertebrae, or sacrum, is wedged between the two hip bones of the pelvis. One result from this weight, is compression on several major joints such as the hip, the knee and the ankle. This means that as we age, which basically starts at age 25, the downward pull of the near 100 lbs of moving body parts, counter balanced from the spinal column with the stabilizing muscle groups, the health of the spine becomes increasingly paramount. Both strength and flexibility is needs to be maintained for another fifty years, even as the muscles lose firmness, bones become brittle, and tendons lose their elasticity.

I address the compression-stress with an inversion table exercise which I use every single day, when home, for a 7 minute routine, lying on the table, tilting it vertical to my hanging by my ankles upside down, doing several light twisting and crunching exercises. I recommend the Teeter Hang-Ups model EP-850 which I have used for five years. Mr Teeter, the inventor, is a septuagenarian.

I believe that for flexibility of the spine, the practice of yoga is the most  user-friendly system for that maintenance. For strength and stamina, I believe in light weight use and challenging repetitions. The salutation to the sun, a multi-parts yoga routine can do the job for flexibility of the spine. I think it became the heart of Hindu religion because its practice enhanced the survivability of its practitioner, thus more practitioners living longer – survival of the fittest. Five different primary exercise postures, developed to help man survive the traumatic transformation needed to cope  musculoskeletally with motion being on four feet to motion on two. The salutation to the sun is first the standing posture, then the forward bend, the down dog, and the up dog. They all stretch and flex the spinal column, and therefore stimulate the blood flow and the nutrient flow to nervous system that spirals through its entire length. These simple exercises and their practice do require instruction, initially, patience and persistence thereafter. For me they are one vital anchor to my exercise routines.

However there are two other necessary components of our physical survivability, besides the flexibility of the spine – strength and stamina. The right selection of exercise for these will favorably influence muscle tone, lung capacity, heart rate, blood circulation and nerve stimulation. How I answer this need is fairly simple. I race-walk, I jog lightly, I climb stairs, I do knee-bends, toe-raises, balance on a 16 inch diameter balance disc and jump on a 36 inch trampoline, al this with 2 lb weights on each wrist.

So these last years, each week, I do three 55 minute race-walk & jog routines, two 20 minute yoga sessions, one 20 minute knee-bend, toe-raise, balance & jumping routine, one 20 minute self-taught tai-qi routine, one 20 minute yoga breathing & meditation session, and one 20 minute aroma-therapy session. My yoga practice is now 25 years old. I dance once per week Argentine tango.

The details of these six routines are available free by writing jangero@rcn.com with subject title: 80yr-exercise.

The aging 80 year-old body is a definite challenge. Recognizing the need for exercising it is a must. Obsessiveness and regularity is needed. There are many different paths to achieve the same end depending on your temperament, your life style and your background – many elder people are dedicated senior athletes in several sports, such as competitive ping-pong, avid golfers, regular bowlers, social dancers, swimmers, walkers, hikers and so forth. All good! Bravo to all!

Eating healthily is another area that will occupy an entire other dissertation and about which I do have a lot to say. Again, I am not academically schooled in nutrition, I don’t understand the chemistry of complimentary food groups, I can’t explain anything, but instinctively I have been motivated to become the fully vegan eater that I am today. It basically started for me at my age 35, when my blood father died of atherosclerosis, that I started cutting down on meat and dairy products. Today, gradually, due to aging and slowing of glycogen-burning activity, grains are no more than 15% of my diet, with fruits, nuts, beans, and vegetables making up 45%. Fish dropped out some ten years ago, and organic soy products, as cheese, as milk, as bean, as curd, are the star center of my nutrition taking up 40% possibly. Water, estimated to be as much as 75% of the human body, is currently recommended to drink 8 glasses of daily.

So there you have it – these are the confessions of an 80 year old regarding exercise & health issues, offered in the hope that it might motivate some insight into how you might handle your approaching later years.

The details of these routines are available free by writing jangero@rcn.com with subject title: 80yr-exercise.

Jan Gero is a journal writer who has written consistently for fifty years. He has had published two books titled ‘me on me’ and ‘more me on me’ in 2012, which are each seven short stories derived from his journals. Previously he self-published twenty-four books of journals from 1983-2011. His journal work takes several forms, such as audio, video, dream and therapy-journals. In his eighty years he has had careers in architecture, fashion, modern dance and documentary filmmaker. He was born in Denmark and emigrated to America at age thirteen. For further info, visit www.myjournallife.com and www.mydrawinglife.com

 

A Parent’s Guide to Surviving (and Thriving) in Middle School

Guest Post by Kimberly Dana

Back to school is right around the corner.  Only this time your child is entering middle school – that rite of passage where they will undergo academic, social, and developmental challenges like never before.  While your eager middle schooler is raring to go, you may be secretly asking yourself if you’re truly ready for this auspicious journey.  The answer is Yes!  With today’s challenges, middle school may seem like the new high school, but below are six tips on how to make the transition seamless for both you and your child.  Get your brave on and learn how to survive (and thrive) as a parent of a middle schooler…

6 Steps to Swinging Into Middle School With Ease

Prepare:  Middle school isn’t exactly The Hunger Games – but you will fare much better if you know the rules.  Procure a copy of the school’s handbook and read it, ideally with your child.  Be familiar with the school’s policies.  For instance, does the school have a dress code?  Is there a general class supplies list?  What is the protocol for absences, medications, cell phone usage, etc.?  Make sure to complete all emergency card information with several contacts and up-to-date phone numbers for easy communication.      

Volunteer:  Join the PTA, PTO, or Booster Club.  Introduce yourself to the principal, counselor, and teachers letting them know you are available to assist wherever needed. 

With school funding at a premium, some ways parents can help are volunteering in the computer lab, chaperoning field trips, selling concessions, leading a book club, or supervising dances.  If working with students one-on-one, be sure to check the district’s policy on parent volunteer fingerprinting and/or background checks.

Be a Study Buddy:  Check homework once a week or more if your child is struggling. Designate a study time and place free of distractions with adequate supplies, including pencils, paper, dictionary, and calculator.  Calendar long-term projects, and be available for assistance or hire a tutor if needed.  Many schools offer free after-the-bell tutoring programs or intervention services.  Encourage and teach time management and organization skills – before social networking, cell phone, and television time.

Communicate:  In elementary school, teachers call home if there is an academic issue, but in middle school the report card is often a parent’s first notification that their child is struggling.  To avoid Report Card Shock Syndrome and address problems early on, attend Back-to-School Night and all parent/teacher conferences.  Introduce yourself to your child’s teachers, provide email contact information, and let them know you want to work as a team.  In middle school, each teacher has their own way of posting homework, grading, and communicating with parents.  Ask for a copy of the class syllabus.  Communication is key to your child’s success.

Get Social:  Your child’s circle of friends will most likely be at the top of their priority list.  This is a good time to rally your own parental BFF’s, if nothing else for moral support.  In short, get to know the parents of your child’s friends.  Arrange a lunch to establish common norms for sleepovers, social networking, etc.  Discuss bullying and implementing appropriate safety precautions.  Talk over the school’s vision and what you can do as parents to make it the best place it can be.   

Be a Cheerleader:  As your child enters middle school, he or she will tackle academic, social, and peer related issues.  There will be laughter and there will be tears.  Let your child know that you are their greatest fan and support.  Encourage their strengths and interests with extracurricular activities such as clubs, sports, band, and foreign language.  When a problem arises, be there to help but also just to listen.  At the end of the day, sometimes a tween just needs a sympathetic ear.  Middle school is a challenge, but never let your child forget that you are their ultimate BFF and secret cheerleader.

Kimberly Dana is an award-winning author and teacher whose middle school students give her much insight into the world of tweendom.  Kimberly’s most recent novel is Lucy and CeCee’s How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School, awarded Young Adult Honorable Mention by the San Francisco and New York Festival of Books.  A lover of photography and experimental cooking, Kimberly lives in Nashville with her husband and spoiled shih tzu.  

A Culinary Tale of Seduction

Guest Post by Elisabeth Antoine Crawford

For more than a decade of traveling throughout Italy, I had been captivated by the country’s many charms—its ancient art and architecture, breathtaking scenery, and irresistible cuisine. It may sound a bit cliché, given the overabundance of American Italophiles, but no place else in the world held the same allure in my eyes. It wasn’t, however, until my first trip to Friuli–Venezia Giulia—a tiny region in northeastern Italy—that my Italian affair truly began.

I had traveled to Udine, one of the region’s major cities, for a business meeting at the Ledragomma GymnastikBall factory. (I was, at the time, working as a Pilates instructor and writing a book of ball exercises.) When the company’s owner, Steno Dondè, learned of my interest in cooking, he generously invited me to dinner. I was eager to try some of Friuli’s traditional cuisine, so he suggested Udine’s oldest restaurant, Osteria Al Vecchio Stallo. Converted from an old horse stable, the restaurant has been serving food for more than one hundred years. It was here that I was seduced—not by Steno, but by our meal.

First we ordered the cjalsòns, a type of filled pasta from the mountainous area in northern Friuli called Carnia. While there are countless recipes for cjalsòns, most are either sweet or a combination of sweet and savory. The version at Al Vecchio Stallo was on the savory side, filled with herbs and providing only a hint of sweetness from the cinnamon and butter. The pasta was topped with ricotta affumicata, a smoked cheese that is one of Friuli’s specialties.

This was followed by frico con patate, a potato and cheese pancake typically prepared with the local Montasio cheese. Served with a side of polenta, the wedge of frico was crispy on the outside and oozing with melted cheese and mashed potato goodness on the inside. That evening, I fell in love with both dishes—and the course of my life was forever altered.

After returning home to San Francisco, I couldn’t get that meal out of my mind. Fast-forward several years, and I was traveling in Friuli once again—this time having decided to write a cookbook. My research consisted of eating my way through the region, savoring as many of Friuli’s traditional dishes as possible, including gnocchi di susine (plum-filled gnocchi), orzotto (barley cooked “risotto-style”), jota (bean and sauerkraut soup), goulasch (Hungarian-style beef stew), brovada (pickled turnips), and gubana (dried fruit- and nut-filled spiral cake). I never expected that one meal could change my life, but that dinner at Osteria Al Vecchio Stallo opened a door for me to thoroughly explore and experience a culture, one that I have found to be utterly and seductively delicious.

Elisabeth Antoine Crawford is the author of the award-winning cookbook “Flavors of Friuli: A Culinary Journey through Northeastern Italy.” A former contemporary dancer and Pilates instructor, she is also the author of “Balance on the Ball: Exercises Inspired by the Teachings of Joseph Pilates.” Elisabeth lives in San Francisco and blogs about her travels at http://www.FlavorsofFriuli-blog.com. For more information, please visit http://www.Flavors-of-Friuli.com.

The Writer’s Life

Guest Post by Michael Hoffman

Writers! Beware of success. This is not what you’re in it for. You see things others don’t see, you feel things others don’t feel. If you’re talented you can convey your vision and your feelings in words. It is your business to do so – your calling, rather. Whether others praise you or mock you, flock to your standard or ignore you, is not your concern.

The pursuit of success will blunt your unique vision, and if success should pursue you – it’s rare but it does happen – you will be forced to choose between mining your solitude for what it and only it can yield, and pleasing a crowd that… well, we all know what crowds are. Their opinions don’t mean much. They seek amusement, distraction, titillation, and are soon bored. Your business as a writer is not with crowds. It is not with the many but with the few.

Writing is a serious business – not a serious commerce. There must be nothing dishonest about writing, while commerce, on the other hand, embraces dishonesty. That is not a criticism. It is simply a fact of life – who would deny it? What is advertising if not creative deception? What else can it be? Its purpose is to entice – at the cost of truth if necessary. When the truth is appealing, it is dressed up to seem more so. When it is not, it is hidden, or tossed overboard. In commerce as in life, deception within limits has its legitimate place.

It has no place in serious writing, however.

Let’s start with what a reader starts with – the cover. A corrupt cover bespeaks a corrupt book. Blurbs are toxic. Does anyone believe them? Of course not. Everyone knows better, just as everyone knows not to take ads at face value. And yet we are enticed by them – all of us, the wise no less than the foolish. In another context it’s called brainwashing. Personally I prefer my book covers black and, except for the title and author’s name, blank. That’s all you’ll find on my book’s covers (present and future though not, alas, past). What my book has to say to a reader is in the text –  only in the text.

Fine, you say – but who will notice such a book? There are millions of books, all clamoring for readers’ notice. Silence gets you nowhere in a noisy world. It’s true. But silence has a value all its own, especially congenial to that most silent of activities, reading. A writer must be content to get nowhere. There is nowhere to get to, nowhere to be, except right here. The writer who has not learned that by mid-career is not serious.

Among the prominent members in good standing of the book industry are people known as editors. My stubbornness extends to the point of refusing to have anything to do with them. What can they do for me? Can they tell my stories better than I can? They seem to think so; I beg to differ. Do they know the English language better than I do? Maybe they do, though I hope not – but even if they do: what is the value to the reader of a book or story or article bearing my name and  purporting to be by me that is not entirely by me, whose words are not entirely mine?  Suppose my prose is imperfect – might not imperfection improve a work of art, make it more genuine, more personal, more moving on that account? Is Don Quixote a “perfect” book? Or The Idiot, or Moby Dick? What would a competent editor have done to them? Made them over for sure, and no doubt the changes, considered individually, would not all have been for the worse. You’d have ended up certainly with more professional writing – at the cost, however, of that inexplicable and flawed quality called genius.

Writing is solitude – not only in the sense that you work alone, but in the more important sense that you must think alone. It’s hard, and it’s lonely. If that frightens you, don’t be a writer. Don’t embark on a writer’s journey expecting to be coddled and petted. If you are coddled and petted, it’s a sign you’re on the wrong track. Grab your things and get off at the next station – or risk seeing your talent, your unique vision, turn to dross. Court failure rather than success. It’s bitter but it’s real. “Better to fail in originality,” said Melville, “than to succeed in imitation.” That’s it. That’s the writer’s life in a nutshell.

Michael Hoffman is a fiction and non-fiction writer living in Hokkaido, Japan. His two latest books are Little Pieces: This Side of Japan (2010) and The Naked Ear (2012). His columns and feature articles appear regularly in The Japan Times, the latest feature being “Gender-Bending in Japan: From Myth to Post-Sex” (July 14, 2013).

The All American Roadtrip

 

by David Jerome

Twenty years ago this Summer I set out alone on a two month drive around – no set plans, no destination, the goal was simply adventure.  My companion, transportation, and occasional lodging for the trip would be my 1985 Chevy Blazer with a frequently blinking “Check Engine” light.  I called it my Chevy Motel, because the back seat folded down and to save money this would be my motel room for about a third of the nights.
Looking back on it now with the technology we have today, it’s hard to imagine just how primitive the trip actually was: no cell phone, no GPS, no internet, not even a AAA card.  I would check-in with my parents once a week from various places around the country by pay phone.
I drove the interstates, and highways, but preferred the two lane country roads whenever possible.  I cruised the farm communities where the only program that the radio could pick up was the local crop report. One dark night somewhere on the great plains my country music was interrupted by the National Weather Service which issued a tornado warning.  This was scary for a California kid who had never experienced weather before and didn’t want to end up in Oz.  I spent a couple of soul-searching hours parked under a bridge wondering why I had left California, but thankfully nothing happened.
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While cruising around the flood-ravaged Midwest, the area jetsetters call “fly-over country,” I finally understood the song America The Beautiful.  I witnessed acres of wheat fields gently swaying back and forth in the late afternoon Summer breeze, and thought, “Ah, amber waves of grain.”  Since that day, that song has held a deeper meaning for me.
I tried local dishes at regional restaurant chains such as Shoney’s, Bob Evans, Waffle House, and Roy Rogers.  I did my laundry in Vermont and had a haircut in Louisville.  In New York City I saw Woody Allen play the clarinet in his Dixieland band, and on a Sunday night in bar in Billings, Montana I ran into Academy award winning actor, Lou Gossett Jr.
I ate Mystic Pizza, and had a drink at the Bull & Finch (Cheers bar) in Boston.  A good ol’ boy I met in a Fort Smith, Arkansas told me that he knew of a strip joint that took food stamps.  I played pick-up basketball games all over the country, most notably with “Big Mike” in Lafayette, Indiana who had the shiniest gold front tooth I‘d ever seen.  I cheered-on the Durham Bulls, and looked for baseball ghosts on The Field of Dreams.  I toured the Fargo Walk of Fame, Kittyhawk, NC,  Mt. Rushmore, Sun Records, and Boys Town.
My bug-splattered windshield saw over 13,000 miles and 38 states on that trip, which greatly aided my bucket list goal of visiting every state.  Two months to the day I returned to Fullerton with a suntanned left arm, a greater love and appreciation for our amazing country, and the basis for my book, “Roastbeef‘s Promise.”

Interview with M.P. Ness by Charline Ratcliff

Hi Michael, thank you for being willing to share your story with us today. I’m sure your friends, family, and fans are interested to learn some of what makes you tick. J

 

Charline: So, I see in your bio that you mention you share the same birth month/day as Leonardo Da Vinci. You also comment that you feel you “own a share of the creative spirit for which the renaissance master was known.” Your comments lead me to believe that you have a certain respect/awe for the man and his accomplishments, and if so when did that start, and why?

Michael:  I’d say you’re very perceptive, Charline. 
   
Da Vinci was the quintessential Renaissance man. He could, and did, do it all. 

Few, regardless of their talents or medium, will ever be called “master.” Art itself is a mountain, virtually impossible to scale to its pinnacle. We will always be trying to be better at what we do, and we will never be perfect in our endeavors. That’s part of the philosophical beauty of the arts in general. Art is a way of life. It’s a mode of living toward continual self-improvement. But, Da Vinci, is hailed as a master, and after study, I’m comfortable saying that title is most likely true and fitting. Few others can say as much…

Prior to discovering our shared birthday, (now known as the American Tax Return deadline day,) I already had aspirations of being a Renaissance Man. I drew, I painted, and I sculpted. I wrote stories and poetry and songs. I philosophized; I had a craftsman’s background in construction, I enjoyed landscaping and architecture and I even played musical instruments a bit. So naturally, when I discovered that birthday connection, late in my tenure at the Art Institute of Seattle where I was working for a Bachelor’s in Animation and Applied Media Arts, it did become a sort of fixation. Da Vinci became a subject of intent study.

I felt proud to share such a celebrated artist’s birthday, and I found it interesting that two people separated by so much time and geography, could share such proclivity toward similar interests and abilities. Then, (no less curiously,) my own son, M.P.N.2., was due on my birthday as well. Unfortunately, he was induced two days early, on a Friday, the 13th. 

Spooky…but true.

Charline:  Michael, allow me to continue a moment longer in the Da Vinci theme to ask: do you feel that your acquired knowledge about Da Vinci helped open the “creative” side of the world for you?

Michael: Given that discovery came so late, some seven years after I had already taught myself to draw, had been writing for as many, and had sought schooling to further those abilities, it had less of an impact than it might have, had I discovered it in my earlier creative years. I was already at the point where I knew I wanted to do everything. I wanted my creative control/director position, and I wanted to produce the stories I’d worked on for so many years prior. 

However, in terms of focusing more on finer arts and expanding my abilities to include a wider variety of mediums and subjects when I should have been focusing on my animation studies, it certainly did have an impact. I began to see things differently, more mechanically, and from there my understanding of rendering complex three-dimensional subjects on paper took a dramatic leap. Not surprisingly, my animating skills improved as well. I literally began to set the grading curve in my respective 2-D traditional animation courses. Unfortunately, my desire and enthusiasm to draw frame after frame after frame, in what equates to endless hours of work for mere minutes and seconds of footage, took an opposite turn. 

I decided then to simply write, and execute visual art by commission, (I’m always for hire,) and to compliment my storytelling. Art became a secondary passion. Writing remained dominant.

Many tell me that I should be composing Graphic Novels, given the multi-threat trait. I agree; I should be. However, one key element yet escapes me: page by page composition. It’s something I’ve always attempted, but never quite gotten the hang of. Perhaps one day I will commission a graphic novel artist to work with me on creating those types of books, as I hold a healthy respect for the graphic novelists and comic book artists/writers out there. They can do it all.

Charline: You know Michael; I was intrigued to read that you are a “sometime” musician. Does this mean you play an instrument and/or sing? If so, what instrument? I’m sure some of your readers/fans would also like to know if you have given up performing completely, or is there a possibility that they might see you out on a Karaoke night… *chuckle*

Michael: I was in boys’ choir in grade school, and I’m also told that I have a pleasant speaking voice. However, I do not sing anymore. Except in the car… Or sometimes randomly with my iPod when I’m really in the zone as I work on a painting. 

In truth, the “sometime musician” means I used to play a fair amount of Bass.  Unfortunately, there’s only so much time in a day, a week, or a lifetime. Between the time demands of writing and art/art school, I knew I had to put music aside. It was a third passion, dominated by two bigger brothers.

Music is one of those things I can do, and I enjoy it, but it just isn’t my passion. Nothing equates to simply disappearing for hours into the imagination as you write a story.

Charline: Michael, you’ve shared that you’re an artist, and that you studied at the Art Institute of Seattle. You also mentioned that while you were there, you were inspired to write your debut novel series: E.L.F. White Leaves, the first book of your fantasy series is now out, and I’m curious what it was about the Seattle locale and/or experiences that brought this book series to fruition?

Michael: It was a newspaper stand, actually. On the sidewalk, right outside the AIS campus in Belltown, Seattle was a headline that snared my attention. Being a longtime fantasy reader, there’s no way I could have missed it.

“ELF burns down housing complex,” the headline read, in big, bold, blue font.

At the time, I had no idea what ELF meant, but it wasn’t something one would expect to see on a REAL newspaper headline. I bought the paper, read the article and discovered ELF: the Earth Liberation Front.

Based primarily the Pacific Northwest, the Earth Liberation Front is a hierarchy-lacking extremist-activist organization. They’re Eco terrorists, and not many people are familiar with such a concept. I know I certainly wasn’t. 

These activists are in favor of defending nature, but in the long run their methods are misguided. They firebomb resource companies and housing developments and the like. They actually do more harm than good.

However, to me it was a story.  My initial question that struck me upon reading that headline was: “What if it WAS real elves that had burned down that housing complex? How would it play out? Why would they do such a thing? And how had no one ever seen one before?” 

After stewing on the idea for a while, I then attended a PNWA, (Pacific Northwest Writers Association,) conference in Seattle where I pitched the raw, unwritten idea to urban fantasy author, Richelle Mead, during an urban fantasy seminar she was co-teaching. Frankly, I owe Richelle a huge thank you. I didn’t even write urban fantasy. No one in the entire seminar wanted to speak up about their stories when she and her co-host opened the floor to pitches; so I stepped up with nothing to lose and spilled my raw but coveted concept. She said something to the effect of: “If you can write it, you’ve probably got a sale on your hands there.” That was all the encouragement I needed. I at last decided to write it.  So thanks, Richelle!

I sat down, and the story literally almost wrote itself. I just did the pen-work. The rough draft, (135k words/29 chapters,) took me exactly 30 days. It just poured out, and just in time for the original version to take a place in my schooling, which at the time was the only way I was getting any writing done at all. Art school is no joke. The workload is staggering. So, I completed it for a screenwriting class under tutelage of Seattle’s well known, John Keister, (the 206 & Almost Live – sketch comedy shows,) who was teaching at the AIS at the time. He liked it enough that I decided I’d make it a book one day.

One day has come and gone. And so it is.

Charline: Michael, as a writer, why did you choose the fantasy genre?

Michael: There are several reasons, really. The funny reason; I’m an escapist writer, so for me its therapy.

I love to daydream, and fantasy reading/writing affords me that. I love immersing myself in other worlds. I think it keeps the mind sharp and helps with problem solving/thinking outside the box.

Mostly, though, I write fantasy because I’ve always been a fantasy guy. I initially started reading for personal enjoyment as a child, but only about animals. I had checked out every non-fiction book there was on dinosaurs, sharks, snakes and all the creepy crawly things little boys find fascinating, and I knew all the facts about all those animals. I was a sponge. But then that blasted, (but holy,) Book Mobile came to school early in the 4th grade. The first fantasy I ever read was one I bought there with my own coin. 

The cover art sucked me in. It was Terry Brooks’ “The Talismans of Shannara” which is book four in his second Shannara series. I didn’t know that, and didn’t care. The image struck me enough that I had to know who the one armed man was and why he battled against an excellent rendering of the grim reaper who rode a unique, particularly vicious, looking lizard/cat sort of steed.

I razed that book to the ground, I read it so fast. I got to the scene that the cover art depicted, and I never looked back. The following year, I’d read every single Shannara book there was.

Why Fantasy? It captures me. It really does.

However, I have many stories I will prepare throughout the years to come, and not all are fantasy.

I also plan to write my mother’s memoir/biography with her. She’s led a…particularly brave life, and despite lifelong hardship, her kindness, generosity, patience, and understanding still know no equal in my eyes.

Charline: I did note Michael, that “White Leaves” has a rather stunning cover. It definitely attracts the appropriate attention for the fantasy genre. As an artist, did you design/draw the cover yourself, or did you come up with the concept and allow someone else to put your graphic vision to paper?

Michael: See, now you’ve totally touched on a topic I can really blab about for far too long. I’ll try to restrain myself. Firstly, I’m proud of it. I did indeed do the artwork, and I’m glad you like it. So far the response to the imagery as a cover has been wholly positive. 

The cover started as a quick scene-sketch intended to help my creative juices by giving me a visual rendering of the awful “Powers” called: Traemin and Gane. I’d tinkered with various concepts for the cover art: a simple silhouette of a modified Seattle skyline to include a gargantuan tree, a simple, stylized, bold, flourish-styled tree in silver on black, as well as a few other ideas. However, after having created the current cover image, I couldn’t imagine anything else ever being the cover.

Personally, I am a fan of “scene” covers. I think this style provides a better idea of the story, especially since you’re looking right into one of the moments in the book as soon as you see the cover.

Artistically, I like to render photorealism with pencil/pen, but when it comes to digital and book covers especially, I really enjoy that roughly hewn, concept-art, sketch-quality painting that you see in the White Leaves cover. It just seems to feel more alive than a picture perfect rendering. So, I will most likely continue that trend; at least for the E.L.F. series, as I also like uniformity in series covers.

Image style and selection really get quite interesting when you take a look at the studies of why, and how, that loose style actually affects the imagination of a viewer/reader, as opposed to using photographs, like a romance novel might. Covers are all about establishing a connection with the internal individual. The more realistic something is, the more external, objective, or “out there” the subject is to your viewer. The more simplistic, vague, or stylized something is…the more a viewer can see of themselves within it, or of it within themselves. This is why Comics and Anime and Manga-novels and Cartoons are all so effective. Simplification and stylization…

The best example is a smiley face, because you cannot NOT see a smile when you see two dots and a curved line put together. There are many who may even have a difficult time NOT seeing a face in their car’s headlights, bumper or grill arrangement. Take the Volkswagen Beetle. Did you ever see such a smiley, happy, friendly looking car? No. Why is that? The designers in old Germany wanted to build an affordable vehicle that every commoner could own and love. Their vision worked flawlessly.

This concept also works with sports cars. How many of them just look plain old beastly, aggressive, and mean? There’s a reason for that beyond simply being aerodynamic. It’s a style choice, made specifically to appeal to a type of person who has a set standard of pre-existing interests.

This study was something I learned during my AIS tenure. You can find more about it in a brilliant book, “Understanding Comics,” by graphic novelist/comic artist and writer, Scott McCloud. It’s a comic book about making comic books. Some of his concepts are quite enlightening, and I highly recommend it, even if you aren’t an artist, but especially if you’re thinking about creating graphic novels.

But I digress…to continue with the matter of connection.

As an artist, I like to show works in progress. I’m not shy about it, and I don’t secret away my upcoming book covers to do special-event cover-reveals. I like others to be part of that creative process. And in my opinion, if they get glimpses as I go, they can get more excited about it. I like to think others become more connected that way. As again, it’s all about establishing that connection. And that doesn’t only apply to the visual. We writers pour a great deal of ourselves into our words, and I like to know that others know I’m in total creative control, and that you readers are getting the purest look at me and my vision of my tales as you possibly can.

Case and point, let’s connect a moment. I’m actually in the process of creating the cover art for “Blighted Leaves;” book two of E.L.F., lately.  I take a certain measure of delight in revealing the fact that the sequel and its cover-art were both inspired by…chocolate chip cookies. Yes, chocolate chip cookies.

But that’s crazy talk! You might exclaim. The title is “Blighted Leaves,” and it’s darker than the first book by far. How could it be inspired by something so sweet and decadent and frankly harmless as freshly under-baked chocolate chip cookies?

To which I can say…because, E.L.F. was originally just going to be a stand-alone story. I wrote it in school. It had a single direction and a single dimension at first. However, one day I saw an image on a plate of chocolate smears left behind by fresh chocolate chip cookies. I sketched it because I though it looked a little like a monster, and I thought I could improve upon that happy chaotic accidental image. Sometime later, that sketch triggered a connection with White Leaves, and E.L.F. literally came to life as a whole world of stories.

The point, all triggered by your connection/reaction to the original cover art, Charline, is this… Everything about my books is done by me. As I said before, I like that unrestricted creative control. I believe an artist‘s vision is best when pure. So, with the exception of my wonderful Editor, Maryanne Torgerson, (who may actually be available for hire to other Indie authors,) the book’s entire coming to fruition has been done by my own two hands.

Charline: In closing Michael, what would you say is next for you once the E.L.F. series is finished? Another fantasy book/series? Or focusing on turning your books into blockbuster movies? 

Michael: Well, Hollywood might be a little way off yet. One needs some renown and credibility, not to mention inclusion in the Screenwriter’s Guild, before seriously tackling that mountain. So, for now, I simply plan to write books. But I would very much like to see my stories on screen. That’s why I write them. I see them. And that’s how I write them. 

They’re literally written to be seen. Whether that comes by imagination or by film is merely a matter of timing, and perhaps a little luck.

I’m a very visual and linear writer. The visual aspect definitely comes from the artist part of me, and the linear is exciting because I never know how a story is going to unfold. I get to discover it just as much as a reader might. I think it creates a visceral experience in the reading, much like how the rough-hewn imagery of the cover creates a more living feel.

At any rate, E.L.F. wasn’t the first story I ever wanted to tell, and it won’t be the last. It’s just the first one to make it to the chopping block.

I have a much…larger higher-fantasy saga to tell under the working title of “The Winds of Arillus,” the first book of which will be called “Pheinixfall” for reasons which will eventually become apparent. But that won’t be until after I release a few of the E.L.F. tales. And there are a number of unique standalones, or potential other series that I’d like to delve into. For now though, it’s straight-ahead, full-steam with E.L.F. 

Aside from that I’m also in cahoots with a small contingency of other Indie authors, creating a network around our personas rather than our writing genres. The publishing industry as a whole is like a newborn all over again. The environment we are coming up in is radical and fresh, and authors all over the world have to rethink outside the box, just how best to appeal to the right readers to make their careers. So, we considered this and decided to approach it from a new perspective. 

We decided to appeal to people and readers with similar interests as our own, as opposed to people who specifically read fantasy, or thrillers, or sci-fi-noir-gothic-grind-house-multi-genre-fusions. Since our interests are part of ourselves, and thus come out in our stories, we believe a fantasy story can appeal to someone who happens to like the same music as the author, even if that reader wasn’t into fantasy prior to finding our work. We’d like to think this is a radical and fresh way to approach our own collective marketing. It may well be crazy enough to change the dynamic; given time…if you consider that it’s the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world that actually end up doing so.

Our take…? The authoring world doesn’t have much, if any, in the form of rock stars. As unconventional individuals with interests in some really cool things out there in the variety of mediums that entertainment takes, we collectively agree and suppose a new breed of young author is rising, and fast. 

We aren’t your stereotypical authors. We’re people with interests just like the readers out there. We’re into the edgier side of life, and that comes out in our work.  So we’re building a network geared toward the hard and fast, full-throttle, and unique type of stories we tell in a variety of genre fictions. 

I’d like to mention and suggest readers also take a gander my fellows in this venture. Thriller Bestseller, Charlie Flowers, whose “Hard Kill” has rocketed to chart topping, and Fantasy Author, J.L. Hickey whose “Secret Seekers Society” series is climbing the sales charts quickly, are on board -just to name a few. But there are more, many more, and I think there’s a large a number of us out there worthy organizing our efforts. Naturally, we’ll have more information on that when it gets a little more developed.

Pardon the name, but we’re a little unapologetic about our personas, and we’ll be operating under #BadassAuthors soon.

So, on that final note, I would also encourage other Indie authors who might be a little bit badass in their personal life and interest, and who aren’t afraid to show it, to get hold of me. We have the perfect place for you! Thank you, so much, Charline!

 

Link up with Michael

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Interview with M.P. Ness by Charline Ratcliff for Tour de Blogg

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