Meet Michael Allan Scott

Author 1

 

Today’s interview spotlight is on Michael Allan Scott. Born and raised at the edge of the high desert in Kingman, Arizona, Michael Allan Scott resides in Scottsdale with his wife, Cynthia and their hundred-pound Doberman, Otto.  In addition to writing mysteries and speculative fiction, his interests include music, photography, art, scuba diving and auto racing.

His book The Dark Side of Sunset Pointe – A Lance Underphal Mystery is a paranormal mystery that reads like a thrill ride with twists and turns you won’t see coming. You can view the book trailer here.

KT: So tell us Michael, how did you end up writing in this genre?

MAS: When I started writing fiction, I was drawn to science fiction, dark fantasy and horror, yet I love reading a good mystery. In researching which genres within my wheelhouse had the best commercial potential, mystery/suspense/thriller was the clear winner.

KT: If one of your books was being made into a movie, which celebrities would you want to cast for it?

MAS: Of course, I’m expecting they will all be made into movies. In fact, the writing style is more visual than typical novels, custom-built for movie adaptation. That said, for the first book, Dark Side of Sunset Pointe, I envision Jack Nicholson or John Travolta as Lance Underphal and Ryan Gosling or Brad Pitt as Detective Frank Salmon.

KT: Ooh, all good actors and dreamy to watch on the big screen. Nice choices. Moving right along, if you could actually spend a day living the life of one of your characters, which one would it be and why?

MAS: Hmmm … it would have to be Sonja, the protagonist’s dead wife. She’s got the best of both worlds—spiritual and material, with none of the drawbacks.

KT: That would be exciting. Now of all your writing projects thus far, which one are you most proud of?

MAS: The one I’m finishing up now, Grey Daze, the third Lance Underphal mystery in the series.

KT: When did you finally feel like you had really made it as an author?

MAS: April 13, 2013 when my first book, Dark Side of Sunset Pointe, hit #2 in the Kindle Best Sellers Top 100, and #1 in the Best Sellers – Mysteries. Yeah, baby!   

KT: I’d like to take a minute to say congratulations on that and all your successes. I can’t help but wondering if you always wanted to be a writer. What job did you dream of having as a kid?

MAS: When I was really little I wanted to be a cowboy or an Indian (oops, Native American.) Then when I heard “She Loves You” I wanted to be a Beatle.

KT: I know right, who is cooler then a Beatle? Since we are talking about fun subjects, if you could have a super-power what would it be and why?

MAS: The Genii who has the power to grant wishes. I’d get a lot more done in less time. 

KT: That is one I haven’t heard before, most people pick flying. LOL. How about giving us a little known fact about you?

MAS: It’s been rumored I do yoga in the nude.

KT: You sure have a good sense of humor throwing that one out there! If you could give any piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

MAS: Do it NOW! Don’t wait!

KT: So true. Doesn’t it often seem to be the folly of youth that we always put things off for another day that may never come. While we are on the subject, what was the best advice you were ever given?

MAS: Never disparage yourself or minimize your strength or power.

KT: Wise words indeed. As we wrap things up here, do you care to tell us anything about your next project?

MAS: The next project is still a mystery to me. I’ll burn that bridge when I cross it.  

KT: That is one way to keep us all in suspense. 🙂

businesscard-3.5inx2in-h-front

**************************************************

To learn more about Michael Allan Scott and his work, check out the links below.

Website:  http://michaelallanscott.com/

Dark Side of Sunset Pointe – book trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbGeaIs_Kuw

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6617186.Michael_Allan_Scott

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/MAllanScott

G+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/112111830672923490472/+Michaelallanscott/posts/p/pub

FB:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMichaelAllanScott

Amazon Author Central:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00AB4ETQ6

Advertisements

Talking With Tara Brown

20140208-013252.jpg

Today we are talking with paranormal fantasy writer Tara Brown. She is the author of such sizzling stories as Cursed, White Girl Problems, Bane, The Born Trilogy, Sunder and more. See a listing of her work here. http://www.amazon.com/Tara-Brown/e/B007RS9V30

In her own words, Tara describes herself as:

“I am not going to talk in the third person. It feels weird.
I am a Bestselling author of Paranormal Romance, Post Apocalyptic, Contemporary, Romance, and Fantasy novels. I write a lot of books and jump Genres all the time. Mostly because I think I have Writers ADD, I like to call it WADD. It might be a real thing.
I write YA some of the time but mostly New Adult, my books have sexual content (Heck yes) and Swearing. You have been warned. Now enjoy!
I have a beagle named Buster, a husband who I force to read everything I write and two girls who want so badly to be a character in my books. And not in that order.
I am mid thirties so be prepared for the chick lit novel this year. I am calling it my Ode to my Midlife Crisis. I’m kidding. It’s actually called The Single Lady Spy Series and it is an adult romantic-thriller series. The first book, The End of Me is due out April of 2013. It is a sexy and fresh series with the lightest touch of erotic naughtiness.
I have been writing since I was old enough to lie. So for some time. If you’re wondering about the hat, it’s my ‘Hey I’m Canadian Toque’
Welcome to my world. Please enjoy the ride. If you would like to reach me for whatever reason, please visit me at my facebook page – facebook.com/TaraBrownAuthor. You can also email me at tarabrownauthor@hotmail.com
Thanks for checking me out and I hope you got lost in something I wrote or it made you so MAD/HAPPY/SAD/BLISSFUL/TURNED ON/ANGRY/EXCITED/FRIGHTENED/HORRIFIED that you couldn’t believe it.”

Since inquiring minds want to know more, let’s dig a little deeper…

What made you choose this genre?

“I love paranormal fantasy because I love the world of what if. YA is a challenge and I love a challenge. Taking away sex, too much profanity, severe violence, and adult situations makes it harder to craft a story. Those are easy tropes to use, taking them away builds your skill.”

If you could spend a day living the life of one of your characters, which one would it be and why?

“Emma from Born. I would like to say its for honorable reasons, I just want Will lol. A day with Will, yes I think so.”

Which of your writing projects are you most proud of?

“The Lonely, I wanted to stop but I didn’t. I pressed on.”

If one of your books could be made into a movie which book/story would you pick and which celebrities would you cast?

“The Devil’s Roses Series. My dream cast is here http://tarabrown22.blogspot.ca/2013/01/the-roses-dream-team.html and here http://tarabrown22.blogspot.ca/2013/01/roses-dream-team.html I even have hottie pictures!!!!”

Care to tell us about your next project?

“The Reaping. If you liked born you will love The Reaping. It is a sci fi apocalyptic novel. It is awesome, savage and realistic. I am anxious for it to release. I love the cover. The book follows a pair of sisters the day the world ends and beyond. The eldest sister has to keep them all alive as a zombie styled apocalypse starts. But not everything is as it seems and not everyone is who you think they are. Should be fun!!!!”

What was the time in your life that really made your writing career? (When you felt like an established author.)

“Last January I rose to bestseller status with my book Born. It was amazing. It made me feel like an author. Now I have had the status several times I have to say that it doesn’t get old. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Thank you so much Tara for giving us some tasty tidbits about your work and what makes you such a talented author.

When Life Throws You Curve Balls – An Interview with Matt Cavallo

193593_435541959829184_37511874_o

Matt, his son Mason and their dog Ted

Most of us have plans for our lives; dreams that we hope will come true.  Even so, unexpected things happen to all of us along the way, some good and some bad. Just like tossing a pebble into a pond, it causes a ripple effect; and we are never quite the same again. It changes us, sometimes for a few moments and other times forever. These unexpected things are the curve balls. They come flying at you, just when things seem to be going straight and true.

Matt Cavallo is no stranger to curve balls. Life threw him a very big one at the age of 28, when he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He went from a young man with a bright future to the disabled victim of a terrifying disease with a questionable fate. Thanks to the loving support of his wife and his own spirit of strength, he has overcome many of the challenges associated with his disease. Since then, he has become a symbol of hope to others.

Matt now offers his services as an inspirational speaker and chronic illness coach. His blog, “Living My Best Life With A Chronic Illness” is a source of support, guidance, and a directory of resources for others in need. The story of his own diagnosis, and subsequent struggle, has been recorded in his book “The Dog Story: A Journey into a New Life with Multiple Sclerosis.

When I found out about Matt’s story, I couldn’t wait to interview him and help spread the word about his story.

KLT: Before your diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis, what were some of the things about your life that you took for granted, which you now can deeply appreciate?

Matt: The thing I took most for granted was my health. I was twenty eight years old, in good shape and had never been sick a day in my life. I felt like I was coming into the prime of my life. Never, in my wildest dreams, would I have thought that I was about to experience what it was like to lose functionality from the waist down. When I couldn’’t walk, I would lay in my bed and think back to the times when I turned down things like a weekend ski trip with friends because I didn’’t want to take Friday off from work. In that moment, I would have traded anything in the world for one last run down the mountain. Not only did I think I wouldn’’t be able to do things like ski again, but I was unsure that I was ever going to be able to walk again.

While walking was my main concern, I had also lost functionality of everything from the waist down. Things like going to bathroom by myself I totally took for granted, as I never had a reason to think I would need assistance in that area. The other concern was intimacy with my wife. We had always wanted to have children, and as I lay in my hospital bed, I thought those dreams were over.

When I was discharged from the hospital, I still wasn’’t walking and needed assistance to go to the bathroom. However, little by little with medicine and physical therapy, I was able to regain my ability to walk. My wife wanted to ensure that I would continue walking every day, so she got me a dog for my birthday that year. I promised her on that day that no matter what my MS was doing, I would walk the dog once before work and once after work. It has been almost eight years now and I have not missed a day or broken that promise. No matter how fatigued I feel, I force myself to get up and walk so that I will never take for granted another step I am given.

While walking is wonderful, I feel my biggest victory occurred two years later when my wife gave birth to our first son, Mason. When I was in my darkest hours in dealing with my diagnosis, I thought that the dream of ever having a family was over. Now, I have two beautiful boys that I can run and play with like I always wanted too and will never take a moment I get to spend with them for granted.

KLT: What job did you dream of having when you were a kid? What were your career goals before your diagnosis?

Matt: Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be in construction. My dad was in construction and I used to like going to his job sites and climbing all over the big trucks. Before my diagnosis, I realized my childhood dream and was working as an analyst for a real estate development firm in Boston. In my book, I talk about how scared I was to approach my boss or tell anyone in my company what was going on with me. I was afraid that they would look at me differently and that I they would eventually find some way to let me go. Much to my surprise, my company valued my contributions and let me stay on despite my diagnosis. A down economy in 2008 eventually led to the company shutting down and me losing my job. However, at that time I decided that my true calling was in health care and helping people like me navigate the course of chronic illness.

KLT: Since the onset of your MS, obviously many things have changed for you. What are the best things that have happened to you since then?

Matt: The best thing that happened to me is the sense of urgency that was created by my diagnosis. When I was in my twenties and healthy, I was focused on work and not much else. I wasn’’t living for myself or accomplishing the things I really wanted to. Once I was diagnosed, I felt a sense of urgency to do something to make a difference. So, I sat down to write my memoir. Finishing The Dog Story and having it published is something I never knew I could accomplish in life. The big surprise is how well my story is being received. People are writing me from all over the world saying how my story has touched them and given them the strength to know they are not alone.

KLT: What opportunities have you been presented with because of your MS, that you would not likely have had otherwise?

Matt: I never would have guessed the opportunities that my MS has presented me. After I finished the book, I started motivational speaking and to date have spoken at over fifty venues all over the US to thousands of people. I participated in an MS Yoga DVD with Baron Bapiste that was featured on Good Morning America. I also got to meet Ann Romney during the filming of the Future of MS documentary. However, the most meaningful experiences have been all of the one on one interaction that I get with patients like myself.

KLT: It goes without saying, that your work to help others with MS in dealing with their own challenges has been life altering for a great many people. Were it not for your own struggle with MS, they would never have been able to get that influence from you. Do you care to share any personal story from an interaction with someone you met, who may also have influenced your life or touched your heart as well?

Matt: I got an email from a woman whose husband had been diagnosed with MS. She said that he did manual labor and did not know how to talk about what he was going through. Instead he shut her out and became reclusive and depressed. It was getting to the point where the way he was handling his illness was pushing his wife away. She feared that the marriage may end.

Then, a friend of hers had recommended my book to her. She said in her email that they both read my book. They laughed, they cried and he began to relate parts of my story to her that he could not talk about. She said that once he read my story he began to change. He started to be less depressed and started opening up to wife about what he was going through.

It was humbling to know that my story could have that kind of affect not only another person, but a relationship. This email inspired me to keep writing and I am currently working on second book. I want to thank everyone out there for all of the wonderful feedback. I never knew my writing would be so well received. I write because you inspire me!

KLT: If you could give any piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Matt: The advice that I would give to myself is to never give up. In my darkest hours with my diagnosis, I would stay depressed in my house for days at a time. I had given up on myself and any semblance of a normal life. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself and feeling that life was over. Little did I know that life was just beginning and that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. Before I set out and accomplished anything, I had to start believing in myself and realize that my life was not over. Once I did that, I went on to accomplish things I had never dreamed of before getting sick like obtaining my Master’s and publishing my memoir. Just remember that if I can do it, you can too!

KLT: What is one little known fact about you?

Matt: The little known fact about me is that I love to cook! There is a strong correlation to chronic illness and diet. Since being diagnosed with MS, my wife and I have been researching diet and supplement options that are considered good for a person living with MS. While there are hundreds of diet books out there, one thing is consistent with all of them. Try to shop on the outside aisles of the grocery store. The inside aisles all contain processed foods containing tons of sodium and sugar. Living with small children makes it especially hard to maintain a good diet. I will tell you that I definitely feel a difference in my fatigue levels when I don’t follow my own advice!

KLT: As a person with a MS, how has your life been enriched by the challenges you have had to overcome? What are the positive effects your diagnosis has had on your family?

Matt: The challenges that we have had to overcome have been the positive effects on my family. When I was twenty eight, I lost functionality from the waist down. When I was twenty nine, I went blind in my right eye. When I was thirty, I had a cognitive relapse that zapped my short term memory and speech. During this time, our vows of “in sickness and in health” were truly tested and tried to the fullest. This has made our relationship stronger and though it continues to be tested, having gone through all these struggles early in our marriage have prepared us to overcome any challenges in the future.

K. L., I want to thank you for your support and for featuring me on your blog. I really appreciate the opportunity chat about MS, overcoming adversity and living well despite the challenges of chronic illness. If any of your readers want to learn more about me they can find me on Facebook, Twitter or www.mattcavallo.com. If you are interested in purchasing my book it is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or in any E-Reader format. Thank you again K.L. and thank you to all your readers.

Written In The Stars (An Interview with Thomas Watson)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On a clear night you can gaze up at the stars and gape in wonder at the multitude of beauty to behold. Even among the millions of stars, each one is unique and incredible in its own right. Together they make up something magical and inspiring.

It is my belief that this is also true of people. This belief is what gave rise to the “Slices of Life” portion of this blog and all the personal interviews with the incredible people featured there. This latest interview is no exception.

Today’s interview features one of my favorite science fiction authors, Thomas Watson! Thomas is one of those lucky people who seems to be in touch with the Earth and attuned to the skies. His written works include: “The Luck of Han’anga”; “Founders’ Effect”; “Mr. Olcott’s Skies”; “Long Time Passing”; and “Second Chance”.

KL: Thomas, you describe yourself as an amateur astronomer; and as I understand it, your book “Mr. Olcott’s Skies: An Old Book and A Youthful Obsession” was born from your love of astronomy. So I have to ask the obvious question, how did your fascination with astronomy get started?

TW: As I tell it in Mr. Olcott’s Skies, there isn’t a single thing or event I can point to that explains how I became a stargazer. It was an accidental confluence of many events and experiences that, over a number of years, turned my eyes to the Moon and stars. I was fascinated by all of science and nature as a youngster, but somehow the night sky caught my imagination, and held it most firmly. It never really let go, although I stepped away from star gazing for a regrettable number of years.

KL: I love that you took your passion for the stars and turned it into written form so you could share it with the world. Since then you have written a number of other projects as well. Of all your writing projects, which one are you most proud?

TW: That’s too much like deciding which of our four cats I like best! But if I had to pick, it would be the big guy, Linus. No, wait, you were talking about writing. In that case, I’d have to pick Mr. Olcott’s Skies, my brief memoir regarding star gazing. It was intended for the amateur astronomy niche market but has found a readership beyond that niche. That pleases me to no end!

KL: Rightly so. It’s an incredible feeling to have your heartfelt work appreciated by others. In a similar track as the previous question, please think for a moment about the characters you have written. If you could ‘walk in the shoes’ of one of them for a day, who would it be?

TW: Probably Robert MacGregor, the POV character of The Luck of Han’anga and one of the POV’s in Founders’ Effect. We share a love of horticulture and music, though unlike Robert, I’m no musician. Of course, in a way I’ve lived every day of his life, when you think about it.

KL: Being a science fiction fan as you are, what is your favorite sci-fi book, movie, or tv show?

TW: Its an answer given by many, but I’d pick The Lord of the Rings. Its message of hope when things seem most hopeless has brought me through some dark times. I’m not a big movie-goer, but the film made from Sagan’s novel Contact immediately comes to mind. The scenes at the end where faith and science prove themselves compatible were amazing. I don’t watch a lot of television, outside of the baseball season, but I did enjoy Stargate SG-1. The ability of that show to depict a plausible alternate reality was simply outstanding.

KL: Excellent choices! What about authors? Are there any authors you have a soft spot or special respect for?

TW: Isaac Asimov, for one. His anthology The Early Asimov or Eleven Years of Trying made me take short story writing seriously, and inspired me to try to write science fiction of my own. After that, well, this could quickly become an intimidating list! C.J. Cherryh, Ray Bradbury, and Kim Stanley Robinson stand out for science fiction, with Annie Dillard, Edwin Way Teale, and John McPhee as authors I follow in the realm of nonfiction.

KL: If you could go back in time and give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

TW: Ignore the practical advice of your elders and write. Write a lot. And when you aren’t writing, live. Take chances. Travel. Risk getting your feelings hurt. Life sometimes sucks, but you absolutely must take the risks that come of being fully alive. And I’m not talking thrill-seeking, here (I’ll never be a skydiver!), but real-life matters such as relationships, jobs, and the like. I was far too timid in my younger days, when it came to life experiences. So much easier to hide behind books and, later, a typewriter. And having just written that, I wonder if I would listen to myself giving that advice? The younger man I used to be eh, probably not.

KL: Let’s lighten the mood here with one of my favorite interview questions, what is one little known fact about you?

TW: All facts about me are little known. Okay, I was once thoroughly buffaloed in the middle of the night by a bullfrog. It was, however, a very large bullfrog.

KL: I would love to expand on that a bit (as I sense an interesting story in the making), but we are running out of time. So one last question, just for fun. If you could have any superpower, which one would it be?

TW: I’d go for the ability to fly. Just to be able to get away from it all, from time to time.

KL: Nice! I like the way you think.

Well, there you have it, the low-down on Thomas Watson (author, astronomer, and more). For more information on Thomas, please check out the links below.

Under Desert Stars (the blog of Thomas Watson)

Thomas Watson’s Author Page at Amazon.com

Thomas on Twitter

Daniel Kemp and The Unpredictable Nature of Life

Daniel Kemp Photo

Daniel Kemp is a father, grandfather, poet, and an amazing author. Unlike the stories of authors who dreamed of writing stories their whole life, Daniel’s journey to writing came about in a most unexpected and challenging way.

(Daniel): I’m not sure that I was ever ‘meant’ to be a writer, I stumbled into it by accident; literarily.

I was at work one sunny November day in 2006 minding my own business, stopped at a red traffic light when a van, driven incompetently, smashed into me. I was taken to Hospital and kept in for while, but it was not just the physical injuries that I suffered from; it was mental.

I had lost all confidence in myself, let alone those around me. The experts said that I had post traumatic stress disorder, which I thought only the military or emergency personnel suffered from.

On good days I attempted to go to work, sometimes I even made it through Blackwell Tunnel only to hear, or see, something that made me jump out of my skin, and the anxiety attacks would start.

I told my wife that I was okay and going regularly but I wasn’t. I could not cope with life and thought about ending it.

Somehow or other with the help from my wife, and the host of professionals that I saw, I managed to survive and ever so slowly, rebuilt my self-esteem.

It took almost four years to fully recover and become what I now am, somewhere close to what I was before that day, but it was during those dark depressive days that I began to write.

My very first story, Look Both Ways, Then Look Behind, found a literary agent but not a publisher. He told me that I had a talent, raw, but nevertheless it was there. After telling me to write another story, he said that there were two choices open to me: One, wait for a traditional deal. At sixty-two, with no literary profile or experience; little hope. Two, self-publish through New Generation Publishing.

This, I’m delighted to say, I did.

His career as a writer really took off after a chance meeting.

(Daniel): About a month after The Desolate Garden was published I met, by pure chance, a film producer, who on reading my novel paid me for a twelve month option to turn my story into a film.

I’m a licensed London taxi driver and met him in that capacity. It was, he said, exactly what he was looking for.

This is maybe why. It is copied from a review, and summary, of an Australian journalist’s radio broadcast from the novel.

 “The Desolate Garden is especially for readers who like a story, largely rendered through dialog because it was the dialog that pulled the work off the page and onto a movie set. This political thriller resonates with charm, deft touches of satire, and romantic entanglement and where the promise of rampant sex is a turn of the page away.”

I should add here that there is no graphic sex nor gratuitous violence in the story and it is suitable for all ages

He wrote something recently that he led to an unexpected opportunity.

(Daniel): I posted this three-line romantic poem on the internet a week or so ago.

“To rise from a barren earth.

To soar above, to wing away.

To escape from all that’s lacking, and live to love another day.”

From it, I met another author who liked it so much that she commissioned me to do the prophecy at the heart of her enticing tenth century novel. It was an honour and great privilege to do.

The book is titled Viking Hearts, and written by Robynn Gabel.

 It tells the story of a boy left to die by his Viking parents because of the birth stain on his face. He is suckled by wolves until discovered by the Druids who believe he is their answer to this ancient prophecy. The boy becomes…..and there I will stop.  Allowing your imagination to take over. This is the Prophecy I wrote.

The story is hidden in this, and follows the chronological order of the tale.

 “There be cometh a boy that a wolf did raise, with a blotch and stain on his face.

He hath a twin who will rule this land, that only he hath the right to replace.

‘Tis a leader of men he will become, with much victory and treasure at his feet.

But that is not all that will trouble him. T’is much danger he will meet.

 

His image will be seen at an altar, where a marriage will be made.

T’will be a terrible time of vengeance, when plans will be laid.

Come one score year and seven, a mask of death will fall.

The boy will stand alone as a man, with ner’e a fear of its call.

 

All is not pure that lives inside, as greed is hidden away.

With no pleasure the Gods will watch, with much pain and dismay.

Ner’e wielding axe, ner’e slashing blade will spill nor cease his breath.

T’will be only a mirror of disguise that can bring upon him death.

 

Ner’e human hand can take his life, though many will want to try.

He is blessed from the heart of the forest, and to water one day he’ll fly.

T’will be a reflection of his own face he will see that coming day,

But all but the eyes will be hidden from view, secured far away!”

If he could give advice to his younger self, what would he say?

(Daniel): What a question and where to start! One part of me would want to say, change; don’t become what you did, but then again I have loved my life. What some could call ‘mistakes’ I would call ‘opportunities.’ There are so many hackneyed clichés one could use here, but I wrote another poem, that my granddaughter now has, that sums me up quite well. This is it. 

Along the Way.

“I am heavy, I am tired” said the old man to the child. “My life, is drawing to an end. It is not what I have done to life that has brought me here today, but what life has done to me along the way.

I was strong, I was fierce, I took no-one to my side, simply brushing them aside with no need of them. Now I find that I’m alone, but don’t pity nor disown those memories that I’ve sown, along the way.

My path was never straight, sometimes narrow, sometimes wide but along it I did stride to find you here. And I am pleased that I did, otherwise you would never know what I managed in my life, along the way.

I have reached that final bend, the one that leads me to my end, and now I leave you here to make your own way through this life. Tread your path with care, and always be aware that there is no such thing in life, as a mistake. 

Daniel’s book “The Desolate Garden” is available in here!

Daniel Kemp Cover Art

Check out Daniel Kemp’s website here.

Daniel’s on Twitter.

Clowning Around With Jim “Soapy” Dixon

Jim Dixon

Today’s interview spotlights a special guest of mine, Jim Dixon or Soapy, as he is known in the clowning world. To take a quote from his own webpage:

Soapy has been providing entertainment for the Wichita and surrounding area for 18 years. His number of performances is now in the range of 1800, and the education of other clowns is the next step.”

Clowning is not simply painting on a big smiley face, donning some goofy clothes, and running around, tripping and falling for comic relief.

Clowning truly is an art form, and it should be appreciated as such. It incorporates so many different disciplines: face painting, makeup, storytelling, skits, gags, balloons, balancing, juggling, slapstick comedy, costumes, and more.

Now, let’s talk to Jim and learn a little more about the industry from an insider perspective.

Tell me Jim, how did you get started in your career as a clown?

“The answer to that probably isn’t what most people would like to hear; but the truth is I got into it as a ‘for profit’ job, because I saw the potential after having taken a class at a local rec center. I took the class for stress relief, because I was going through a really terrible period in my life; and the instructor said that I was good and he would pay me $65 a birthday party to do it for him; and after a while I decided to break off and do my own. For probably a decade, I was a ‘for profit’ clown. I did not love clowning as a craft, I loved the income that it could provide. It wasn’t until Master Clown, Jim Howell paid me one of the most amazing compliments ever that I realized that, “Hey, I actually do love this”.

Another factor that made me realize how much I love clowning was that I started working at night and realized that I physically couldn’t do working at night, working during the day, and clowning on weekends. So I decided to retire and it took about two weeks before I realized I couldn’t give it up, I actually liked doing it.” 

Jim, what factor has helped you the most in your current success as a performing clown?

I would say it’s my mild autism. I didn’t know I had it until I was diagnosed  with it at 40 years old, and suddenly everything started making sense. As far as how it helps me with bein a clown, I become obsessed with things that I like doing. I become obsessed, and because of that I’ve taken my clowning past what most people would have stopped at. Also, I see patterns. Because I see patterns, I think  it helps me in both skits, balloons, and comedy magic.  I see patterns of behavior in people, so I can anticipate better and when I anticipate better I can prepare better.” 

Makes good sense, the better prepared you are, the better you will think on your feet (so to speak).

Okay, if you could attain any goal with your clowning, what would you hope to attain?

“The answer is: I want to see the industry completely improved. I want to see the industry, as a whole, develop a sense of pride and quality that would make it less scary to people.

I would want to see the industry, as a whole, become something that everybody wants to do, instead of everybody wanting to make fun of it and make fun of it in a bad way, not the way it should be made fun of.

It’s the industry that I want to see improve. So if I could attain a goal for myself, it would be to be a good teacher, where I would make a difference in the success of clowning, because the problem with clowning right now is that anybody can pretty much do it. There is no restrictions on anything. Its an industry where you can throw on a little makeup and some pajamas, call yourself a clown, and start doing birthdays, and what that does is it kills the industry. My goal that I would love to see is to have education or at least help with the education of new clowns.” 

Learn more about Jim “Soapy” Dixon through his website: http://sillysoapy.com/

You can also learn more about the art of clowning at:

Clowns of America, International

Mooseburger Camp

A Look at Life Lessons with R.S. Guthrie

Rob-75x850-Cropped

Today’s interview spotlights writer, R.S. Guthrie. In case your not already familiar with this talented man, we will start things off with a brief look at his bio:

R.S. Guthrie grew up in Iowa and Wyoming. He has been writing fiction, essays, short stories, and lyrics since college.

“Black Beast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel” marked Guthrie’s first major release and it heralded the first in a series of Detective Bobby Macaulay (Bobby Mac) books. The second in the series (Lost) hit the Kindle shelves December of 2011.

Guthrie’s “Blood Land” is the first in the Sheriff James Pruett Mystery/Thriller series and represents a project that is close to his heart: it is set in a fictional town in the same county where he spent much of his childhood and still visits.

Guthrie lives in Colorado with his wife, Amy, three young Australian Shepherds, and a Chihuahua who thinks she is a 40-pound Aussie!

Now let’s dive into the questions:

Tell me R.S., if you had to pick a favorite from among your writing projects, which one would you pick?

(R.S.) – “My third book, which is the first in my James Pruett mystery series, because I have always wanted to write about the people, land, and mannerisms where I grew up in Wyoming. It’s a place of which I’m very proud and when people read the books (I have a second out and a third on the way) and tell me that they felt like they were there and they loved it, well, that’s exactly what I was hoping for, so it’s pretty gratifying.”

Most people start writing as a hobby, dabbling a little here and there along the way. But for some writers, things happen in their lifetime that changes them as people and as writers. What was that moment for you?

(R.S.) – “When my son died of SIDS in 2008 it went so deep into my heart and soul that my writing changed. It wasn’t that the emotions weren’t already there, or that I wasn’t already the writer I was, but his death caused me (willing or not) to really plug into my core. That’s why I am so adamant to other writers that they need to dig down, use the pain, too.”

You have my deepest sympathies on the loss of your son. As a parent, that is the nightmare that keeps me up at nights (worrying about my kids).  

Considering where you are at in life now and the lessons you have learned along the way, what advice would you give the younger writer you once were?

(R.S.) – “Write earlier. Write later. Write more. Write when you don’t feel like doing it. Make writing a part of every day, even if it’s just a fun short-short, blog. But man, once you’re forty, you have yourself in a rut where it’s too easy to put off (like exercise or a million other things in your life). I would have told myself that to be a writer there can be nothing more important in your life (elementally speaking).”

Sounds wise indeed and gives credence to the “practice makes perfect” theory.  🙂

I have asked other writer’s this, and I’m curious what you will say, but have you ever struggled with writer’s block?

(R.S.) – “I seriously don’t believe in writer’s block, per se. We get jammed up or blocked by something else in our lives (usually stress or pain from something) and creativity takes a blank canvass. I believe Life (capital “L” intentional) blocks our creativity and that’s what we writers call “writer’s block”. Until you deal with whatever is blocking your creativity, you CANNOT force writing. I mean you can do some writing exercises (I usually blog when I can’t come up with something for whatever I’m writing at the time—for some reason I can always blog). Now here’s the upside: if the thing that is blocking the creativity is something painful or dark (say a death in the family), use it. As I mentioned before, you should be using it anyway. Break through by figuring out what it is that’s stressing you and use those emotions to get you going on that page—infuse those emotions into a character, or a new plot twist. Say you were stressing about an upcoming family vacation. Jump a couple chapters ahead (i.e. disjoint from your current time line) and write about your character preparing for ______ (it doesn’t have to be a vacation; use the emotion you’re feeling to infuse a great scene for your character (and it can be something you use later, earlier perhaps, or even not at all, but it will get you writing like crazy).”

Were you ever inspired by other authors?

(R.S.) – “John D. MacDonald and the Travis McGee series really got me interested in writing Mysteries in a recurring character format, but it wasn’t until I read James Lee Burke and his Dave Robicheaux series that I really feel like I found my voice. I was recently fortunate enough to meet Mr. Burke at a book fair and then listen to him speak.”

On that note, are there any favorite books you are particularly fond of?

(R.S.) – “Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. There are several audiobook recordings of it, but a very special one, narrated by Scott Brick, is the most soothing, wonderful literature I’ve ever heard. I can listen to it anywhere – honestly it is like one of those relaxing Zen CDs. For me Brick accentuates what Conrad was shooting for as the writer; he assists in telling the tale rather than detract from it. Another combination of narrator/author that is completely magical is Actor Will Patton (Remember the Titans, Armageddon) reading many of the James Lee Burke newer collection. He is so perfect I can’t imagine listening to anyone else.”

Out of curiosity, what are the top three things on your bucket list (assuming you have one)?

(R.S.) – “1. Visit Scotland; 2. Meet Clint Eastwood; 3. Fly, just once, in one of those new wingsuits that allow you to leap off a four-thousand foot mountain, fly for several minutes, and then slow down, pull your chute, and land. You reach speeds over 200 miles per hour. (The death rate in that sport is near 100% if you stay in it for more than like five years. But there’s just something about it. Watch it here.)

Disclaimer about #2: I’m not a stalker. But if I could meet Clint just once and have a half hour or an hour with him, man, that would be amazing.”

I’m inclined to agree with you on #2. Clint is the man!

As we wrap things up, can I convince you to share a little known fact about yourself?

(R.S.) – “In 2002 I had cancer and just this past July, I hit my ten year anniversary cancer-free!”

That’s awesome news, Congrats! May you be blessed with many more decades of cancer free living.

******

Now that you have gotten the skinny on R.S. Guthrie, check out one of his books:

 

BLOOD LAND COVER-FINALx900

Blood Land Synopsis:

Crime’s an ugly constant in the big city. L.A. Chicago. New York. But when a savage murder brutalizes a small town and neighbor turns on neighbor, a tough-as-nails cop is essential to restoring order. Blood Land is a gritty, emotional saga set in the Wyoming badlands with both greed and vengeance at its core—the first in a series of James Pruett Mystery/Thrillers.

When billions of dollars in natural gas rights hang in the balance and the town’s top law officer’s wife is slain by her own blood, a reluctant hero is forced to battle his own demons and ultimately choose between justice, revenge, and duty.

In the tradition of Dennis LehaneTony Hillerman and James Lee Burke, Guthrie’s sparse, haunting storytelling compliments his talent for creating richly-drawn, unflinching law officers with human frailties and a sense of justice.

******

Don’t forget to check out these links for even more tidbits of info on R.S. –

Official Website of R.S. Guthrie

R.S. Guthrie’s Amazon Author Page

R.S. Guthrie on Facebook

R.S. on Twitter