How to Find Your Vital Vocation – An Interview with Brian Cormack Carr

June 20, 2013

Brian, you’ve written a book entitled “How to Find Your Vital Vocation” tell my readers a bit about your book. 

Well, it’s a practical guide for job hunters and career changers who want something more from their working life than just a way to earn a living.  It takes the Vital Vocationreader through a process that will help them discover (or rediscover) their passion and purpose.  They start by identifying their unique gifts and talents – including those they didn’t know they had – so that they can build a life and career around them.  In my work as a career coach, I’ve found that this is the surest way to find real fulfillment.  We have to do what we were designed to do – not what our peers or society tell us we should be doing!

The title draws the reader in and I sense there is a story behind it.  Please share.

At the start of the book, I give a bit of my own history, and how I came to find my own Vital Vocation.  I work on the principle that if I can do it, anyone can do it.  After graduating from university, I trained as a personnel manager in retail, and although there were aspects of the job I really enjoyed, I just didn’t feel fulfilled in that environment.  It felt like there was something missing – and that’s because there was. 

I needed something that was a better fit for me and so I quit my job to take some time to explore other options.  It was a risky strategy, but it paid off (and I had already laid some groundwork by building up some voluntary work and eventually getting a part-time evening job in an area that really mattered to me).  I moved into the charity sector and felt like I had been reborn.  I was using many of the same skills and talents as I had used in retail, but this time I was working in an environment that was more aligned to my values.

In fact, I discovered through this journey that a true vocation is found when all these factors – talents, values, working environment and skills – align in a way that works for us.  I learned this through accident and instinct, but I’ve been able to put together a process that can be applied by anyone in order to make the same discovery.  I still use it as I continue to refine my own career – I now work as a career coach and freelance writer as well as a charity CEO.  I also use it to coach and train others to find their ideal work. 

By the way, I call it a “vital” vocation because when you find it (and “it” might be a combination of more than one income stream and interest) you’ll realize that it’s the essential piece that has been missing all along.  It’s such a relief to finally find that missing piece.

What was your motivation in writing this book?

Really just to ensure that as many people as possible have access to a process that can help them to have happier, more productive, more rewarding lives.  And also because this is my vocation – to write, and to coach others.  The book is a vehicle through which I’m able to do both those things, to as wide an audience as possible.

I originally offered the material as a popular online membership program, but the book really offers even more flexibility and reach.  I’ve self-published it to Kindle and through Smashwords, and it’s coming out in paperback soon.  It’s available all over the world thanks to today’s incredible digital publishing technology. So really, it can reach anyone who needs it.  That’s an amazing thought!

It’s clear that you’ve done your homework. However, based on the current recovery and recession we’ve experienced or are experiencing, how practical is it to think you can find your “Vocation”?

I’m often asked that question and I must begin by saying that I never sugar-coat the situation. It is really tough out there.  However, it’s important to remember that making a living and finding your Vital Vocation are really two separate things that can be brought together, but don’t have to be.

Your Vital Vocation is what you must do to be happy.  If you can make a living at it, great.  If you can’t, then you need to find a “good-enough” job that enables you to pay the bills and that still leaves you with enough time to pursue your passions outside of the workplace.  That “good enough” job has to be something that doesn’t wear you out or wear you down, so that you can put your spare energies into what matters most to you.  I’ve found that, when people do that, they often discover that the two things eventually start to coincide.

One client of mine – who was in a very stressful banking job – reduced his hours (and his salary) and took up gardening as a hobby.  He did this to reduce his stress levels.  It worked.  Not only did he feel the reduction in salary was more than worth the peace of mind he gained, he was able to set up a sideline business doing landscape gardening.  That business is thriving now, and he’s on the verge of leaving his banking job altogether.

He still won’t be earning what he earned doing the job he never really enjoyed, but he’s happier than he’s ever been.  That’s what matters to me, really.  I don’t guarantee your Vital Vocation will make you rich – but nor do I guarantee that it won’t! The key message is, don’t wait around for the perfect job to appear, bemoaning the fact that you haven’t got it yet.  Do what you need to do to support yourself and also find and start doing what you really love to do.  Invariably, doors will open.

What do you hope the reader will gain from your book?

An understanding that it is possible to discover your career purpose and get a job you love.  My book is full of creative tools and tips that help readers to plot their own path to their ideal work. There’s nothing more exciting than self-discovery, especially when it’s on your own terms.

A number of my readers are in the media, so as we conclude this interview – what two things would you want them to know about the uniqueness of your book? 

Firstly, that everyone has gifts and talents – not just the famous people we see in the news.  Those talents may be what society considers “modest” or even “mundane, but that doesn’t matter.  If a person discovers their own talents and starts using them, whole vistas of opportunity open up.  We need more, not fewer, people finding and doing their ideal work in this world. This book provides a process that enables the reader to find that work.

Secondly, that because this is a self-published book, it’s available at a very reasonable price.  60,000 words of support and a whole host of resources – all for less than 5 bucks for the ebook.  This is an equal opportunity career guide and I want as many people on the planet to read it so they can find their own Vital Vocation.  That’s what the world needs!


The Secrets of Heavenly – An Outstanding book by Teresa Robinson

March 29, 2013

GALLAGHER BUSINESS BLOG INTERVIEW

The Secrets of Heavenly

  •  Teresa, you’ve written a book entitled “The Secrets of Heavenly” tell my readers a bit about your book. 

The Secrets of HeavenlyMy historical novel is set in the time period just prior to the American Civil War on a rice plantation in South Carolina. It’s a dramatic story of the relationships between three of the Plantation Master’s children and a young house slave named Willa. Of the three relationships, one blossoms into a sisterhood, another a forbidden interracial affair, and the third a dangerous and dark obsession.  The book deals dramatically with the complications of family allegiance, the loss of childhood innocence, and the theme of betrayal and deception.

  • The title is catchy and I sense there is a story behind it.  Please share.

“Heavenly” is the name of the rice plantation in the book, but rather than being a place of peace and solace as the name implies, the plantation is shrouded in secrets that threaten to tear apart the lives of its inhabitants.

  • What was your motivation in writing this book?

I have always been interested in American history.  A few years ago I happened to be reading a book containing several vignettes from the lives of antebellum slaves.  One story involving innocent young slave women and their babies was particularly disturbing to me. I decided then that I needed to write about slavery and include that scene, describing it in a way that would truly touch others as it did me.

  • You say in your bio on Amazon “Now she hopes her voice will be heard.” Tell me about that statement.  What does it mean to you? 

Well, as a child I was pretty shy and insecure. Rather than express my own feelings and ideas, I kept quiet.  Now, although I’ve outgrown that shyness, I still fear the judgment of others. Writing this book and putting it out there to public has been scary for me. But it’s also liberating, as if I’ve finally released the voice of the person I once was.

  • The book is well written and evidences that you’ve done your homework. What drew you to write on enslavement?

Thank you, Chuck.  I’ve always been drawn to the plight of people who are slighted by others and society. There are so many stories to be told about people who manage to persevere.  In the case of American slavery, an entire race of people overcame and forged ahead.  Although it is fiction, I feel that my book gives voice to those who came from that.  Any of the incidents I’ve written about could well have happened to multiple slave and plantation families.

  • What do you hope the reader will gain from your book?

It’s important that my readers experience this book in a personal way.  I want them to be absolutely appalled by the emotional misery caused by slavery. I’d like them to be involved in the story, to let go and fall in love with some of the characters, rejoicing with them, hurting or crying for them.  As for the villains in my book, I hope I’ve painted an ugly enough picture of their participation in mistreating slaves that my readers despise them as much as I do!

  • How, by the way, did you go about selecting the ideas included in your book?

Teresa RobinsonSome of the ideas and scenes in my book were inspired by accounts from surviving slaves who were interviewed during the Federal Writer’s Project in the 1930’s.  I also read a variety of books about the time period, absorbing what I could about the way of life on plantations them.  .

  • A number of my readers are in the media, so as we conclude this interview – what two things would you want them to know about the uniqueness of your book? 

There are many non-fiction accounts that document the physical horrors of slavery-the degradation, the beatings, the murders.  “The Secrets of Heavenly” deals with some of this, but focuses more on the substantial emotional toll of slavery.

Slavery is an ugly scar that our nation will always wear. Scars, being evidence of something painful, serve to remind us about some activity we should never repeat.  Anyone who might think that the subject of slavery has been sufficiently covered in literature hasn’t met the characters of “Heavenly” who put fresh, memorable faces on the inglorious subject.


The World’s Worst Networker: Lessons Learned by the Best from the Absolute Worst – An interview with Tim Houston

January 17, 2013
  • Timothy, you’ve written a book entitled “The World’s Worst Networker: Lessons Learned by the Best from the Absolute Worst” tell my readers a bit about your book.

0303-TImHouston-EDIT1-336x420The World’s Worst Networker chronicles the kind of people that give networking a bad name!  It takes an uncensored, humorous look at the way some people conduct their business networking, both online and offline and helps the reader to learn from and how to avoid their various flubs, faux-pas and fiascoes.  Here’s a link to my site:  www.worldsworstnetworker.com

  • What was your motivation in writing this book?

For almost 20 years, I have attended thousands of networking groups, various Chamber of Commerce events, trade shows and seminars. At each one, I have always encountered some people who were very bad at networking. Many of them would try to sell their products or services within the first 30 seconds of meeting them.  Others would say or do things that were inappropriate. I called these people “The World’s Worst Networkers.”  In more recent years, the same mistakes which were being made in the real world were also happening on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

After each encounter or experience, instead of complaining I would ask myself a question: “What could I learn from them so I didn’t make the same mistakes they did?” So out of every negative experience I had, I always found something positive that I learned and more importantly, could share with others to help them to avoid being one of “The World’s Worst Networkers.”

  • You start of with a WARNING: This is not the typical “how-to network book” – how did you get the stories that you share?

In sharing my experiences with others —  some of which are considered the world’s leading experts in the fields of networking, marketing and relationship development —  I learned that they too had stories and experiences about their encounters with some of “The World’s Worst Networkers.”  Whenever we shared out stories, instead of it just being a complaint or a “war story”, I would always ask them what did they learn or take away from the experience.  Very often, they would pause and think about it and then share the lesson that they learned.  In some cases, they would also confess that at one point in time, they too did some of the things that some of “The World’s Worst Networkers” do and how they changed their course.

When I decided to write this book, I went back to them and asked if they could share their stories and experiences with readers around the world and they gladly accepted the invitation. The book has contributors from the U.S., Europe, Australasia and the Middle East. While some of the contributors are very well known and others may not t necessarily be household names, each and every single one of them is among the best networkers in the world.

  • You have several sections in your book, the first being “The Most Unwanted List” which of those stories was hardest to live through?

There are so many good and funny stories in the book that it’s hard to choose just one that was the “toughest” to live through.  From my own experiences, I’d say one of the toughest that I had to live through (and still encounter at many events) is what I called “The Outsourced Networker who is on “The Most Unwanted List”.

In brief, these are the people who think that they can have others do their networking for them. What they don’t realize is that people do business and build relationships with other people, not with companies. The Outsourced Networker uses a revolving door approach to their networking by sending a different person to represent their business at every event. The results are usually disastrous: the public’s perception is that the company has a high-turnover; there’s no accountability and no opportunity to build a relationship with one person.  The worst part about it all is that it’s not just the “big companies” that do are guilty of “outsourcing” as some small businesses try to do it as well, as I chronicle in the book.

  • Since you share disasters, what did you hope to accomplish by writing about what not to do?

I remembered something that Jim Collins wrote in his book Good to Great: great companies not only have a “to do” list but also a “stop doing list. In that same spirit, The World’s Worst Networker helps the reader learn the definitive ways of how not to network through the real, uncensored, funny and sometimes scary accounts of our networking experiences.

  • A number of my readers are in the media, so as we conclude this interview – what two things would you want them to know about the uniqueness of your book?

First, while there are so many good books, programs and organizations that teach people “how to” network effectively, this book is very unique in that it’s the only one currently in its genre that takes a contrarian approach to the subject. As one reviewer on Amazon said, “Learning what not to do and how not to behave can sometimes provide better insight than ‘how-to’ instruction.” Lastly, this book is designed for the networking newbie and the veteran alike and the lessons learned can be applied to online or offline networking efforts and can be used by a variety of people, ranging from the business owner, college and graduate students and the everyday person, anywhere in the world.

The book can be found kindle version here:  http://amzn.to/QZlOni – or paper version here:  http://amzn.to/ihUJr2


An Interview with Shalimar Ali and her new book – The Vampire Dancer Saga Part 2

December 27, 2012

The_Vampire_Dancer_Saga_Front_Cover_JPGLately several of my friends have asked me to review their books of help them with promotion via an interview.  I have to admit this book takes an unusual slant on the world of dance…yet having seen the book I have to admit it’s rather interesting.  Here’s the interview.

1.    You’ve Written a book – The Vampire Dancer Saga.  Seems a strange approach to a book that chronicles dance – how did you come about that approach and title?  My home was invaded by 3 bats.  Mind you, I am terrified of mice, rats and birds – so a “bat” is like a deadly combination of a flying rat.  Triple the terror to me.  But one of the bats got caught in a mouse trap and was injured.  I asked my grandkids to dispose of him outside and they felt sorry for him and thought he showed pain in his eyes.  That incident made me also feel sympathy towards the injured creature and inspired me to think about bats as Vampires.

2.    What is your background as an author?
I finally got my first book published in 2011 “Learn to Belly Dance Textbook & Certification Program” after 15 years of rejection from publishers.  Following the “bat” invasion this year, I published The Vampire Dancer Saga in July 2012.

3.    You book is interesting and you certainly take your readers on an exploration of dance.  Why dance and why vampires?  Most of my favorite movies and TV shows are about dance, sci-fi or vampires.  I am a die-hard fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Charmed, anything by Joss Whedon (Firefly, Dollhouse, Serenity), Star Trek, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Star Trek, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With the Stars.  You see this LOVE reflected in my books

4.    When you wrote your book, what did you want the audience to gain?  Please don’t’ forget about dance history and the previous dancers who made it shine.  Like Eleanor Powell, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, etc.

5.    You reference many dance celebrities in your book.  Which dance celebrity most resonates with you and why?  I grew up with Michael Jackson.  I was totally engrossed with him from the time they began back in 1969.  So much to the point, then when he died, it was like having a distant family member die.  It took me a long time to grieve over Michael.

6.    What do you see as the three primary benefits one would have by reading your book?  Going on a fantasy journey through time.  Learning about Dance History.  And sharing my vivid imagination about “what if” these dancers participated in this wild adventure.

7.    A number of my readers are in the media, so as we conclude this interview – what two things would you want them to know about the uniqueness of the book you wrote?  Please imagine this book as a movie or TV Show.  Dance is like a Vampire, in that dance never dies!

The book can be purchased here – http://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Dancer-Saga-Part-ebook/dp/B00AQLOJ96/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1356050603&sr=8-3&keywords=shalimar+ali


An interview with the author of Analyzing Jesus: Questioning The Doctrine of Christianity – a new controversial book by Bashiek Dorsey

December 26, 2012

Here it is – Christmas time – and what crosses my path but a book that some would call heresy.  If you’re a devout Christian – Analyzing Jesus – will rock you and potentially strengthen your faith or wobble it.  The book can be found on Amazon here.  In the description the following words are shared:

analyzing jesusAnalyzing Jesus: Questioning the Doctrine of Christianity may be one of the most compelling arguments ever written in support of the belief that Jesus of Nazareth may have never existed as an historical person. While currently pursuing his B.A. in Science and Religion, Dorsey, began composing Analyzing Jesus before graduating Liberty University’s Willmington School of the Bible. Dorsey’s extensive research skillfully challenges the “Jesus Defenders” of our day with many of the Bibles irrefutable contradictions, inconsistencies, myths, fabrications and forgeries.

Analyzing Jesus not only offers an in-depth study on the Christian doctrine but also gives attention to the pagan origins of the resurrection. As Dorsey brilliantly lays out the facts, opinions, and arguments, amongst some of the world’s most influential scholars, evangelist, historian’s and theologians; he also, exposes the hidden manipulation that is associated with organized religion and its goal to constantly control what we are to believe. So could it be true that the Jesus story is one of the greatest myth’s ever told? You decide!

The interview with Dorsey follows.  Feel free to ask questions or respond to this blog interview on what I think will be a hot topic!

1.     You have just written a book – Analyzing Jesus: Questioning The Doctrine of Christianity – tell my readers what inspired you to write such a potentially controversial book.

Well Chuck, what inspired me to write such a controversial book on such a controversial subject is simple—Christians deserve to know the truth, not my truth, not his truth, but “the truth” about their religion and its history. It wasn’t long ago that prior to it being called the Holy Bible the ancients called it the Helio Biblia, the Book of the Sun. This is because Sun worship was an ancient pagan practice in ancient Egyptian, Asian, and Indo-European cultures centuries before Christianity immerged as a religion. But when it did flourish as a religion the emperor Constantine who was a sun-worshipper himself in 321 A.D issued a decree making Sun-day the official day of rest; which is the main reason why Christians go to Church on Sunday and not Saturday.

So make no mistake about it when Jesus is being referenced as the “Son of God” he is really being cited as a personification of the “Sun.” This is why we are told “As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun” (Matt. 17:2). Moreover, Christians deserve to know that the Gospel’s were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John but by anonymous authors who never met Jesus. Also, nowhere in the New Testament do we read “I, Jesus write these things.” In fact, no one including Paul has ever laid eyes on the alleged God-man—Jesus Christ.

2.    Give my readers an insight into your background.  You were once a Christian songwriter?  Seems like going from songwriter to skeptic is a massive stretch.  Share with us your journey.

Sure, for 21 years of my life I always strived to be the Christian God wanted me to be. I’d go to Church, study what I once believed to be the word of God and diligently helped spread the message of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t long that I started my own independent record label called God Musiq. The puissance of my desire to write songs for Christ was truly amazing. As a result, to really show my dedication to God I took it upon myself to enroll in Bible College so that I could become more effective in the kingdom (as Christians say). I also, wanted to be more knowledgeable in the Bible and its history. This way I could teach it in my music and to people more effectively. Little did I know my faith was about to change—forever!

3.    In your bio on Amazon it says, “It was during my enrollment in Bible College that I seriously began to question the Christ figure. Did he truly walk the earth or was he just a myth?”  Tell us the story of how your transformation came to be.

Yeah, during my enrollment in Bible College we learned so much from Apologetics, Systematic Theology, Christology, Hermeneutics which is the art and science of interpreting scripture, and Church history including the rise of modern Roman Catholicism. But it wasn’t until we began to study The Case for The Resurrection of Jesus resurrection of Jesus by Dr. Gary Habermas & New Testament scholar Michael Licona, who both admit that “Although, other religions contain ‘resurrection accounts’, there are excellent reasons for accepting the story of Jesus resurrection while rejecting others” (pg. 89).

Surprised, I was then curious to know what other religions contained resurrection accounts. It wasn’t long before I would learn in my own personal time of study that the resurrection story is really an ancient pagan myth that originated in Egypt. In fact it can be found in the Pyramid Text written on the pyramid walls of the last king of the fifth dynasty, Unas (B.C. 2375-2345) over 2,000 years before Christianity.

In these texts we learn about the Resurrection and Ascension of a Deceased King, named Horus. In fact, in Egyptian mythology Horus can always be seen with a “sun-disk” around his head identical to many ancient paintings of Jesus. Lastly, the original manuscript of Mark’s Gospel did not contain a resurrection account of the risen Lord. Chapter 16 originally ends at verse 8. This has been the most ignored “addition” to the Jesus story. Learning these things and more were the beginning stages of how my religious to non-religious transformation came to be.

4.    You know that publishing a book like “Analyzing Jesus” had to have some repercussions when it came to the education you were receiving.  What response have you received from the academic community?

You know Chuck, so far no one from the academic community has tried to challenge my knowledge or discredit my work. But I’m sure they will and honestly I look forward to it because I can support all of my arguments with conspicuous facts, references and explanations to help sustain, serve and defend the belief that Jesus Christ may have never breathed, one single breath, on the face of this earth. Even Paul admitted that he was “sent not from men nor by man…” (Gal 1:1). He also admitted that “he received his message from no human source” (Gal. 1:12). So was Jesus not a man? Was he not a “human” source? This is why there is so much debate over Paul’s letters because many scholars have come to believe that Paul was a Gnostic and was not referring to a historical Christ. In fact, Paul is severely silent on just about everything the Gospels tell us about Jesus and in my book Analyzing Jesus I discuss this at length.

5.    Share with my readers some of the challenges (if any) that have arisen as a result of your written and very public challenge to the life and existence of Jesus.

One of the main challenges I face is constantly having to explain to Christians that the intent of my book Analyzing Jesus is not to hinder anyone’s faith in Christ or God. As paradox as this may sound my goal is not to stir up controversy; but rather to truly help educate Christians on what they’ve been taught to believe. But because I challenge the existence of a human Christ some Christians simply do not care to learn about some of the Bibles most irrefutable contradictions, inconsistencies, myths, fabrications and forgeries. Instead, they’d rather graduate to new levels of blind faith.

6.    “Analyzing Jesus” is seemingly well thought out – yet there have to be many in the academic community that would refute your challenges to Jesus.  What type of challenges have you received relative to your new book?

Well in my book I make it clear that if Jesus wasn’t God and if God wasn’t Jesus, then Christianity is idolatry, therefore we must develop the habit of examining what the scriptures say of Christ. Because to be Christian we must believe that Jesus was God manifested in the flesh and this is what creates the challenge. But we must ask ourselves if Jesus was God why would Jesus say: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mk. 10:8)?   If Jesus was God why would God be “seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1)? After all aren’t we told “God is not a man…” (Num. 23:19)? These questions and so many others I address in my book Analyzing Jesus. I also debunk the doctrine of the Trinity and expose how it was formulated which is another challenge I receive from Christians who try to explain away the deity of Christ.

7.    Several quotes on your Amazon site share that your book took them away from Jesus or Christianity. What was your intent when writing the book?  

Good question Chuck I’m Glad you asked that actually. I make it very clear in my book that the intent of its pages is not written to undermine the Christian faith nor cause disbelief in God in fact it’s quite the opposite. My primary objective is to pass along the knowledge and information I carefully researched over the past 24 months of my life. Which pertains to the life of Jesus Christ did he or did he not exist? Therefore, my hope is to help enlighten the mind of another especially Christians because again they deserve to know the truth about their religion.

8.    How has your research and the resultant effort in writing your book changed your faith or religious belief or both?

Honestly, at first it changed me for the worse. I was upset because I felt I had been lied to, I felt deceived and bamboozled. I was a Christian for 21 years of my life, very active in the Church and really did whatever it took to spread the message of Jesus Christ to my friends, family and strangers. But it wasn’t until I came to the realization that God, or the Creator (as I like to call it) cannot be fully explained or completely understood nor conformed into a “religion” and I truly believe that’s the beauty of it. Because everything is not meant for us to understand, however, something’s are. I also believe that the search for truth takes you wherever the evidence leads you, and therefore I was led to Analyze Jesus and Question the Doctrine of Christianity.

9.    What three things do you wish your readers to gain from your book?

If there were three things I’d want my readers to gain from my book it would be to inherit knowledge, logic and truth about early Christianity, the organic meaning of Christ, and the hidden manipulation that is associated with organized religion

10.    A number of my readers are in the media, so as we conclude this interview – what two things would you want them to know about the uniqueness of your book?

I would want them to know that in my book Analyzing Jesus I can confidently uncover all the loopholes in the Jesus story, how it was formulated, how it was fabricated and even worse how it was forged.  I would also want them to know that you can now purchase my new book Analyzing Jesus: Questioning the Doctrine of Christianity on Amazon.com and send any questions you may have to me on Twitter @Analyzing Jesus. Thanks

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


An interview with Gwendolyn Taunton on her new book – Melpomene

December 21, 2012

melpomene_coverAs many of my readers know, from time to time I deviate from my traditional blogs on business and social issues and open the doors to my readers of new works that expand horizons.  This is true for an interview I offered about a new book – “Melpomene” – the link to purchase the books is here.

  • Gwendolyn, you’ve written a book entitled “Melpomene” tell my readers a bit about your book.

Melpomene is my fifth book and the second one I have written under my real name. Named after the Ancient Greek Muse of tragedy, Melpomene is a thematic anthology of poetry/prose. The focus is on the tragic elements of life and the style of the content is centered on the type of poetry written by Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Blake – namely the French Decadent/Symbolist art movement and the Fin de siècle (End of the Century).

Melpomene is therefore concentrated on works which have quite bleak ideas, but yet remain beautiful and haunting in their imagery. Overall the intention is to convey beauty in a context where it is not normally unexpected.

  • What was your motivation in writing this book?

Melpomene started as a personal interest project. Over the last couple of years I have been working with non-fiction and am mostly known for my essays on Perennial Philosophy. However, my earliest writing was in the format of poetry/prose and the first time I was published was as a poet in the ‘New Zealand Collection of Poetry and Prose 2002’. So with Melpomene I wanted to return to my literary roots.

  • Your book is segregated into four sections – Book of Magic – Book of Sorrow – Book of Fate – Book of Death.  Tell my readers about the significance of each of the four sections?

I selected these sections as being representational of the cycle of time itself, because the passage of time is the factor which causes the greatest element of tragedy in human existence. The first section – Magic – is symbolic of the creation of life. Also included in the Book of Magic are the poems/prose/fiction pieces with supernatural themes. As time passes, tragic experiences become inevitable (thus Sorrow is the second principle). Towards the end of the life cycle Fate plays its hand and individuals become aware of their inevitable end – which for all humans is the final section; the Book of Death. The tragic element in the Book of Fate is that one has an expectation of what lies ahead.

The Book of Death is of course the final end of the cycle of existence, which is why it is also the principle cause of tragedy.

  •  Which of the four sections mentioned above is most significant to you personally and why?

The Book of Death is personally the most significant for me, and my own writing ‘The Dance of Kali’ is included in this section. It is especially significant to me not so much because it is the end of the life cycle, but because of what it means symbolically. My piece is symbolist fiction, and it is inspired by a combination of Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ and Rimbaud’s ‘A Season In Hell’. The symbolism I have employed in it is that Death represents a metaphysical and tautological truth which lies shrouded in esotericism, as one of the greatest mysteries of human experience – because it can only be normally experienced once. I have approached Death as being the mirror image of Life, and contrasted the symbolism of both with anthropomorphized concepts found in philosophy and art – Truth and the quest for Beauty. ‘The Dance of Kali’ does not symbolize physical death, but rather the progress of an initiate in the mysteries towards enlightenment and knowledge.

  • What do you hope the reader will gain from your book?

I would hope that they enjoy the book and discover more about the new and emerging writers. When I was putting the book together I was surprised by some of the talent that was submitted, and I am quite convinced that some of the writers will go on to achieve greater things. I would like to see the readers continue to explore their works and help support these aspiring authors.

  • How, by the way, did you go about selecting the poetry that is included in the collection?

A large amount of works were submitted and it was very difficult to choose which ones should be selected. The main criteria I used was the emotional response elicited by the writing, and whether or not genuine feeling was expressed in the text.

Out of the classic works which were selected, most of them were popular favorites. One of the lesser known pieces I included was William Blake’s Book of Thel. This I included because of its early use of Symbolist technique and its metaphysical approach to life. With the exception of this, all the poems by Baudelaire, Blake, Poe, Dickinson and Verlaine are the more well-known pieces.

  • A number of my readers are in the media, so as we conclude this interview – what two things would you want them to know about the uniqueness of your book?

The main thing I would like to reiterate with the uniqueness of this book is that because it is approached thematically, it provides not only the option to revisit classics by favorite authors, but also the opportunity to explore the works of  new writers who will surely go on to achieve fame in their own right one day. Melpomene provides a fascinating opportunity to read some early pieces by authors before they reach the pinnacle of their career.

Link:   http://www.amazon.com/Melpomene-Gwendolyn-Taunton/dp/0987158155/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356087525&sr=8-1


The 13th Cycle: Two Worlds One Secret – a new book by Sabrina Ricci

December 11, 2012

coversmallHere it is December 11, 2012 and we are ten days away from the end of the world – at least that’s what some would say.  Many, of course, debate the wisdom of the Mayans.  Interestingly enough, the topic has spurned the creation of many books one of which is featured here.  This is an interview of a friend of mine related to her book – The 13th Cycle – found here.

  • In a world that has become obsessed with the Mayan Calendar and it’s predictions, what motivated you to write this book?

Partly my own obsessions and fears about the Maya calendar. Earlier this year, my mom visited me and stressed that she wanted me home for December 21, just in case the world ended. This got me thinking about the Maya, and I decided the best way to battle this fear was to learn as much as possible about the calendar and understand what it meant to the ancient Maya. I also wanted to write an entertaining story that would make me (and hopefully other people) feel more optimistic about the topic. Of course, my story is fiction so there are a lot of added elements, but I did incorporate a lot of my research.

  • You talk about a conspiracy in your work – explain?

That would give away the whole story! But I will say that there is a covert group who want to use the Maya calendar for their own purposes. And the conspiracy involves keeping the origins of a particular ancient Maya calendar secret.

  •  Did your book accomplish what you originally intended?

I think so. The book evolved a lot, especially since I wrote it the agile way. By doing that, I used reader feedback to shape the story, and I think it became a lot more interesting. It’s fast-paced, it is overall optimistic, and I did include within the story links to sources, so readers can easily learn more about the ancient Maya.

  • Share a bit of your background and help my readers know at a deeper level who you are…

I have a M.S. in publishing from NYU, a deep interest in digital publishing, and I’ve worked for Simon & Schuster, NBC Publishing, and The Experiment Publishing as an ebook developer.

On a more personal note, I’m originally from California and hope to get back there someday soon. I miss the weather terribly. I’m also like a lot of other writers, and have been writing stories since elementary school. It’s just taken me until now to finish something worthy of publishing.

  • You have an interest in helping indie writers with their ebooks – tell me more about that work?

Yes! As I said, I have a deep interest in digital publishing, and my thesis at NYU was a business plan for a subscription site that could help out indie authors. This past weekend, my partner and I launched the alpha site, Write or Read (http://writeorread.com). Write or Read will show authors of self-published ebooks metrics about their books, such as basic demographics about their readers, how long it takes people to read their books, and what percentage of the book they finish reading. I believe having these insights will ultimate help indie writers be more successful.

  •  Tell my readers about your process – crowd-funding – “Pubslush”?

In order to create the best book possible, I believe it’s incredibly important to hire a proper editor and copy-editor. One of the obstacles for indie writers is not having the funds to hire editors, so I used crowd-funding to raise money to help cover the costs. It’s a lot of hard work, but I used Pubslush because that platform is specifically for people raising money for book projects. I did not do as well as I had hoped, but I did get some backing to help pay my editors.

  •  What have you learned from your foray into ebooks – share three things that aspiring writers need to know?
  1. Revise. It helps to get feedback, especially from readers you trust. And it’s important to hire an editor. Even if you have a great idea for a book, if it’s not written well, people will give you negative reviews, you will lose sales, and it will start a vicious cycle.
  2. Distribute through as many channels as possible. I’ll admit, there are certain exceptions where Kindle Select may help an author more, but I think that largely depends on whether or not the author already as a following. For new authors, I recommend getting your ebook out everywhere—Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Smashwords, etc. I wrote a blog post a while back that explains why it’s important (http://www.digitalpubbing.com/self-publishing-ebooks-why-maximizing-distribution-matters/).
  3. Write a lot. I’m working on this one myself. A lot of authors I’ve interviewed have told me that having a lot of books for sale is helping to boost their success. Readers find one of their books, decide they like the author, and end up buying more of that author’s books.
  • Assume this last question is directed to media – what one thing would you want media to know about you and your services that you feel would make a difference?

I’m trying to level the digital publishing playing field. Right now only retailers have access to helpful information and metrics, and indie authors are in the dark about what’s working and how they can sell more books. With Write or Read, authors will know what exactly about their writing and their books readers like, and will be able to tweak existing books or write new stories tailored to their audience. They’ll be able to find their “1,000 true fans.”