Interview With Colin Chappell


Welcome to my bi-weekly interview series. I’m pleased to introduce to you today an interview with dog enthusiast, thoughtful, and entertaining writer, Colin Chappell. He is often accompanied by his friendly and energetic dog Ray. In fact, Ray is one of Colin’s favorite topics. You can visit Colin on his blog: A Dogs Life? (Stories of Me and Him).


interview-colin-and-ray1
Credit: Colin Chappell

1. Please Tell Us A Bit About Yourself?

My name is Colin Chappell. When I was born, my parents were expecting a girl so, when I arrived, they showed great initiative by thumbing through the BBC Radio Times looking for male names. If Colin Yearsley (a classical pianist) had a second name, I would have probably had a second name also; my older sister did. I am originally from Peterborough (U.K.), and now live in Oakville, Ontario, Canada (on the outskirts of Toronto).

I was born immediately after WWII and moved around the U.K. a lot when I was young because both my parents were in the theater. My Dad designed and painted scenery, while my Mum worked in the costumes area.

The introduction of television decimated the demand for theater and my parents had to make some major decisions. Growing up, my Mum held down multiple jobs and my Dad came home only on weekends. He was working approximately one-hundred-miles away from where we lived. My Dad eventually decided to build his own house. He learned how to do this successfully from library books, visiting construction sites, and asking a ton of questions.


2. What Kind of Affect Has Your Childhood Had On You?

I learned to make the best of any situation, knowing it could always be worse. I learned to not be afraid to step out of my comfort zone; to swallow my pride and ask questions as necessary.

I wanted to be a locomotive driver, but was told that I couldn’t do this job by my Dad. I went to college to pursue a career as ‘Master’ of a cargo ship. I achieved a 2nd Class Honors Certificate and was welcomed into the Blue Star Line. I was ready to join ‘Scottish Star’ in Glasgow; however, I failed a medical exam which blocked my first chosen career path. This was my welcome to the world of adulthood and the realities of the world.


“I learned to make the best of any situation, knowing it could always be worse. I learned to not be afraid to step out of my comfort zone; to swallow my pride and ask questions as necessary.” – Collin Chappell


3. When Did You Being Writing and Blogging?

I have always enjoyed writing short pieces and songs, but they were always private and I rarely shared my work. I cannot recall how I discovered blogging. But I had already been adopted by my dog Ray and wanted to share our experiences. It was also an opportunity to write publicly which was appealing to me. My blog was officially launched in October, 2014.

Later, my desire to write was extended into a book about my first eighteen-months (pre-blog) with Ray. He made a huge impact on me and was nothing like any dog that I would have chosen to adopt. But Ray had a special appeal and after a few months, I loved him!


4. What Does Writing and Blogging Mean to You? Why Do You Write?

Writing is rewarding for many reasons. It allows me to express myself, to be as creative as I can, and to have some tangible evidence of my creativity and expression. No doubt there are psychological benefits to writing also. Poetry is a natural extension of writing because of my earlier days song writing; however, my blog is also my vehicle to present my poetry to the world.

Blogging is the corner stone of my literary endeavors because not only can I now share with the world, but I can receive feedback. I have access to links to bloggers and writers with similar interests and concepts. As well,  I am generally able to create a worldwide network of wonderful people. Over time I have developed friends around the world of all ages, cultures, religious beliefs (etc.) Now I have the pleasure of knowing many details about friends which go well beyond mere blogging.


” . . . [M]y desire to write was extended into a book about my first eighteen-months (pre-blog) with Ray. He made a huge impact on me and was nothing like any dog that I would have chosen to adopt. But Ray had a special appeal and after a few months, I loved him!” – Colin Chappell


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Credit: Colin Chappell

5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write? Is There A Time of Day You Most Enjoy Writing?

Some of my inspiration and motivation comes from the world! From various events occurring which cause me to think because I need to know where I stand. It is important for me, to understand myself. To do this involves constant internal interrogation, until I can come up with a feasible rationale which supports my views.

Ray is also hugely inspiring. He is unlike any dog I have ever known. Just by watching him (which I do a lot) I’m invariably provided with the basis for a blog post. I also inspire and motivate myself. I am retired so have the luxury of as much time as I wish to allocate to blogging and writing but I do have many other interests.

There isn’t a particular time of day I enjoy writing more. Although, mornings and late evenings tend to be my most productive times. This is due more to convenience relative to other day to day activities. It’s not that I feel more particularly creative during these times.


7. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?

I have two active projects at the moment:

My first priority is promoting my book: Who Said I was up for Adoption? All profits from this book go to the Humane Society whom rescued my beloved Ray. It’s hard to make the whole world aware of a book without investing large sums of money to market it. Self-promoting is more financially feasible, but a difficult and time consuming job.

My second priority is publishing a book of my poems. It is tentatively titled: Tina and Other Stories and could be available Spring 2017. My poetry book is ready to be published but some financial decisions have to be made.

I am uncomfortable making these choices until I have a better grasp of how Ray’s book is selling. Hopefully, I can make a decision within the next six to eight-weeks. I also have various other similar projects ‘on the back burner,’ but they will have to wait.


“Some of my inspiration and motivation comes from the world! From various events occurring which cause me to think because I need to know where I stand. It is important for me, to understand myself. To do this involves constant internal interrogation, until I can come up with a feasible rationale which supports my views.” – Colin Chappell 


8. Here is Colin’s book: Who Said I was up for Adoption?

interview-colin-book-cover
Credit: Colin Chappell

You can purchase Colin’s book from Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Indigo, Google Play, Nook, and IBooks. Here’s another link to Colin’s page where you can find links to all book sellers noted: HERE.


9. Can You Briefly Describe Your Publishing Process? Will You Continue With the Same Process in the Future?

I researched a number of leads before publishing and just as life in general — you get what you pay for. The inexpensive route (a relative term) dictated I take responsibility for areas of publishing I knew nothing about.

If my book was planned for purely local distribution, I would have chosen that route, but that was not my goal. I wanted to market my book to the world because dog lovers exist in every country. Most significantly, this book is a fundraiser for Ray’s Humane Society.

My compromise was to have a contract with FriesenPress. They provided their expertise in cover design, book layout, proofreading, overall suggestions, legalities, and ensuring Ray’s book was available to all major book retailers. Regrets? I have none, although, what I learned during this publishing process will reduce the cost of publishing my poetry book!


10. Do You Have A Particular Writing Process?

Blogging – I write from heart to keyboard, and then read, re-read, re-read, fine tuning the piece. Sometimes I will leave a post for a few hours and then read it again to get a fresh perspective. I like to plan to create ahead of time, but more often I end up creating immediately prior to posting. I will not hit the ‘Publish’ button unless I am absolutely happy with my post.

Book Writing – I use exactly the same process, especially with poetry. Reading a poem can often draw attention to a bad line or difficult rhythm. My intended book of poetry is being reviewed, although, it was completed well over six-months ago. Who Said I was up for Adoption? was completed over a nine-month period, but took an additional eighteen-months to polish well enough to publish.


“If my book was planned for purely local distribution, I would have chosen that route, but that was not my goal. I wanted to market my book to the world because dog lovers exist in every country. Most significantly, this book is a fundraiser for Ray’s Humane Society.” – Colin Chappell


11. Do You Prefer Certain Areas or Genres of Reading and Writing?

I have little time for reading fiction — JRR Tolkein being the exception. It’s not that I don’t enjoy fiction, but more that I want to understand more about people and the real world. I recently read a beautifully emotional ‘lost love’ poem. I was devastated to learn later the poem was pure fiction! I need to relate to the writer and I feel I cannot do that with fiction.


12. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?

Write… write… write.

Be honest to yourself.

Write… write… write.

Use blogging as much as you can because there is so much support out there in the blogging world for novice writers.

Write… write… write.

If you are pleased with what you write, then what other people think of it is secondary.

Write… write… write.

If you are not pleased with what you write, you need to spend time finding why you are unhappy with it. Once you have identified the problem, you can start working on the solution — Very logical!


“I recently read a beautifully emotional ‘lost love’ poem. I was devastated to learn later the poem was pure fiction! I need to relate to the writer and I feel I cannot do that with a fictional piece of writing.” – Colin Chappell


13. Is There Anything Else You Would Like To Share Pertinent to Yourself or Writing?

I have volunteered in numerous diverse places over the years, and every position I held was valuable education for me. It was valuable both because of the work involved and in the learning it provided me.

I support a number of charitable organizations which help people regain their self-respect and of course, I support animal rescue organizations. Life has been and still is, a wonderful education; however, one must always participate in life to see any results.


14. Do You Have Any Favorite Blogs You Like to Follow? What Do You Like About Them?

I really do not have favorite blogs, but I do enjoy more philosophical blogs as they are thought provoking. Dog related blogs are interesting simply because I can relate to the topics presented. Any post I read that promotes a positive mental attitude maintains my attention. In a world which seems to celebrate negativity, we need as many positive vibes as possible!


15. Here is a Piece From Colin’s Blog, One of His Favorite Poetic Verse Posts:

“Skeeta’s Legacy”

By Colin Choppell

*****

Skeeta was a Siamese cat

Of distinction so we thought

She was rather unlike her breed

Friendly and quite large

I had known a few Siamese

But none had traits like these

*****

She would ride in our car

On top of the front seats

Swaying whenever I braked

Forwards and backwards

Sideways on the turns

We would laugh until we ached

*****

Then one day she clearly had changed

Her clean toilet habits had gone

Something was wrong we were sure

She used to be meticulously clean

A test revealed leukemia

With no treatment. No cure

*****

After living with us

For only three months

Dearest Skeeta was put to sleep

But she left her mark

Indelibly on my heart

With memories that I would keep

*****

She went to a better place

To join her kind and be without pain

Where cats are happy and free

To be as I’d want her to be

But Skeeta left a legacy behind

Unbeknownst at the time to me

*****

Many years later when Ray moved in

He tested positive for heart worm

After only three months in our home

What were our options? What to do?

A very serious condition

And he could not fight it alone

*****

We could return him, put him to sleep

Or do nothing which would eventually kill him

What would make the most sense?

For such a short and unhappy life

An expensive course of treatment

Could we justify the expense?

*****

The treatment he may not survive

But shouldn’t we at least try?

For perhaps survive he would

Shouldn’t we give him a chance?

A chance for his life to fulfill?

To live out his life being loved?

*****

Euthanizing would give him peace

Not 3 years old with an unknown past

His early life seemed hard and alone

Surely a dog has a right

To fight for his life

In a warm and caring home?

*****

To return him to the shelter

Raised problems of another sort

Who would adopt a very sick Ray?

Who would want his vet bills?

Who would open their home?

Who would invite him to stay?

*****

During these dilemmas I heard a voice

Reminding me of Skeeta long ago

With no hope of a cure in sight

How she was put down

Her future sealed by a disease

That cheated her out of her life

*****

But this time was different

Ray did have a chance

If treatment started right away

The decision just had to be made

And then hope for the time

When once again he could play

*****

Ray will never know

What influenced his future

Or how it came to be

That a cat, of all creatures,

May have saved his life

That was Skeeta’s legacy.


16. Additional Posts:


Thanks so much to Colin for sharing with us his book, poetry, love for Ray, and his experience in life and writing. I loved discovering he both searches inside himself to find the right answers and also engages with the world to learn and discover the things he needs to know. His love of learning and passion for volunteering is something we can all aspire to.


If you would like to be featured as a writer and blogger in my bi-weekly interview series please reach-out to me on my contact page. Thanks for reading and see you in two-weeks!


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

 

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Part 6: Never Again – Finding Peace.


Please read Part 5 of ‘Never Again’ here.

Part 6: Never Again – Finding Peace.

(Three-Months Later).

“Kasia, are you finished packing?” Jolene asked her daughter.

“Yeah, I’m good Mom, but I had to get another suitcase. I did more shopping then I thought.” Kasia was huffing and puffing as she dealt with her suitcases, bringing them outside Chateau Blanc for Luc to load in an SUV.

“I’m not ready to leave Mom. I’ve had such a fantastic time here, seeing Auntie Cathy and hanging out with Damon.” Kasia sighed. ” I can’t believe I didn’t meet him until a month and a half ago . . .and you’re leaving Luc behind too?” Kasia exclaimed with surprise.

“Kasia,” Jolene said. “We have to go back to Ottawa for awhile at least. Auntie Cathy will be moving into a condo close to where we live soon. She only has to finish training her replacement event planner and do a bit of packing.” Jolene cleared her throat reaching for a bottle of water in her purse.

” Luc owns Chateau Blanc but he’s found an experienced caretaker to keep the place running. Luc’s a trained architectural Engineer and he’s taking a job at an Engineering Firm in Ottawa. He’ll have a great deal of input on projects and doing them to LEED standards around the world. You know he is passionate about the environment…” Jolene said shrugging with a smile.

“What about Damon? How will I see him. If I’m supposed to travel around with you and have a tutor for high school, when will I see Damon?” Kasia asked worriedly. “I’ve been saving money to travel. You know, the money I made modelling for La Petite Mademoiselle and a few other shoots, Simon, your agent, could find for plus-sized models in Nice… How will you see Luc if we’re always travelling?” Kasia asked. Jolene smiled as Kasia peppered her with questions. They’d both been extremely occupied the last few weeks.

“There is going to be some changes, Kasia. I’m not going to model anymore. I will have business trips with La Petite Mademoiselle in Europe. I have hired a couple of Presidents for the Canadian and United States chains. Judy thought it was a great idea, she wants to travel more with her husband.” Jolene explained.

” Judy and I will be dealing with our expansion into France and into other select European cities. You will have occasions where you will be able to come to France with me or Luc and see Damon, while you work on Grade Ten material with your tutor. Damon maybe in Grade Twelve, but he also has his last year of high school to get through in Nice.” Jolene reminded Kasia.

“I think, it’s best to keep most of your modelling work for La Petite Mademoiselle, until you are eighteen. I don’t want to overwhelm you when you need to focus on school.  Not to mention, I would like for you to still put a shift in every week in our flagship store in Ottawa when we are home. It will help you to know how our company works on the ground level.” Jolene added. Kasia sighed, not completely happy with her Mom’s solution for Kasia’s schooling and work. Would she get to see Damon enough between work and school? What if Damon forgot about Kasia for some other girl?

“So, if you’re busy overseeing things in Europe, how will you organize your schedule with Luc’s” Kasia asked Jolene.

Jolene’s face lit with a smile. “I have something to tell you… I’m getting married to Luc! He asked me last week. It was so hard for me not to tell you. I wanted to wait for the perfect time, I suppose that’s now.” General shrieking ensued and the details of the proposal were shared.

” Luc will be doing some projects in Europe as well, so all three of us will often be back at the Chateau Blanc and Auntie Cathy is welcome, whenever she wants to come along.” Kasia was taken aback. Everything seemed to be falling into place. Kasia was overjoyed Luc would be her step-dad. Her only Dad, as far as Kasia was concerned. She missed Damon alread, even though he was chatting with Luc. He had come to the Chateau to see Kasia before she went back to Canada. “Damon,” Kasia called. . .

——

An iPhone began ringing and Jolene felt her pocket buzz. Her face went pale when she saw the number on the phone. It was Scott’s work number. Jolene felt sick. She hadn’t heard from Scott since she left Nice over five-years-ago. Jolene wasn’t ready to talk to Scott. But perhaps, she should accept his call and tell Scott once and for all, to leave her alone.

“Hello” Jolene said quietly, walking away from Kasia.

“Hello Jolene,” Scott said.”Nice of you to get in touch with me when you were here.” Jolene said nothing at first.

“Why would I want anything to do with you Scott. I don’t love you anymore and I’m not attracted to you. Our time together is a lifetime away, I’m getting married.” Scott laughed

” So, I heard. It took you a long time. It was difficult getting over me, huh?” Scott said.

” And why is that?” Jolene questioned Scott.

“Because you will always have me in our daughter, Kasia. She looks a lot like me you know. You should have told me about her.” Scott said sounding wounded.

” How did you find out about Kasia? You can’t have her. She’s mine, my daughter — not yours. You wanted me to abort her.” Jolene said furiously.

“Kasia came to visit me a couple months ago. She wanted to meet me. I can’t blame her. She’s a smart girl and tracked me down.” Scott remarked.

“Damn it,” Jolene said, “Auntie Cathy told her everything. I knew we should have kept our mouths shut about you, Scott. You stay away from Kasia, I mean it! I can afford a great lawyer these days so don’t try anything. You are not allowed to see Kasia until she’s eighteen. Then, it is her choice, unfortunately.”Jolene yelled into her phone.

“Relax, Jolene. I don’t want anything from you or Kasia. Kasia wanted to meet me but she doesn’t want a relationship with me. She also told me to stay away from her and you.” Scott said hushing Jolene.

” I don’t need Katrina finding out I have an illegitimate daughter, who might be a threat to the money Katrina brought to our marriage. She wouldn’t like it if Kasia inherited anything. Additionally, having somewhat a relationship with my own daughter Sara and my boys is hard enough.” Scott told Jolene, tiredly.

“So, what are you calling about then?” Jolene seethed.

“I need to apologize,” Scott admitted to Jolene.”It was wrong of me to tell you to get rid of Kasia when she was barely a person. I saw her at my office and I’m so thankful you never got the abortion. She’s a beautiful girl and I have no doubt she will be as successful in life as you Jolene.” Jolene couldn’t believe Scott was apologizing.

“Kasia hates me for trying to have her aborted and that bothers me. I couldn’t stand it if my daughter Sara was as mad at me, as Kasia is mad at me,” Scott admitted. “Kasia is also upset because of what I did to you. I can’t change myself  Jolene. I am who I am.” Scott said.

“But, I regret cheating on you the entire time we were together, when you were off modelling. I was never your ‘one,’ and only guy. I’m no women’s ‘one.’ I’m my own guy. I like to be in control and be with whoever I desire. Katrina understands this, she has had a long-time affair with another man. Kasia believes that guy provides for Katrina, what I should be providing for her, love and attention.” Scott said, his voice scratchy. Admitting his faults was hard for him, Kasia had made him think.

” I’m sorry I met so much to you Jolene. I wish I hadn’t met much to you. I would have broken it off sooner, but I had plans…”

“You are and were selfish Scott,” Jolene shouted.” You never cared about my feelings or what I thought about something. You even tried to tell me I was pretending I wanted a baby — which is why I never told you about Kasia.”

” It wouldn’t have mattered had you told me you had had our baby. My Dad said Katrina was the right wife for me. She is in a sense. . . What I wanted to tell you though is for Kasia: Do not let her end up with a guy like me. I told Kasia ‘boys will be boys’ and that men naturally cheat. She called me on it and I thought about it and she’s right, not all men cheat. My half-brother for instance, is faithful to his wife. He works at the company with me.” Scott said.

” Kasia needs to find a guy like my half-brother. Not like me or her Grandpa. And tell her Scott said he will do his utmost to ensure someone like him does not marry her half-sister Sara.” Jolene pressed the phone to her ear. She was amazed at what Scott told her.

“For real, that’s all you want?” Jolene stuttered. “You want Kasia to end up with a kind and faithful partner? You aren’t trying to get me to sleep with you or have an affair with you? You promise to leave Kasia alone, even though I never told you she was your daughter?” Jolene could barely say anything she was so surprised by Scott’s reason for calling. She heard him sigh on the phone.

” As far as I’m concerned Jolene, you and I are done. I have my life and you have yours. We may be connected by Kasia but I promise, I won’t interfere in your lives. If Kasia in the future, wants to contact me so I can help her get into a prestigious university, I can help her, it’s the least I can do.But I have one request Jolene. . . ” Scott’s voice sounded sad to Jolene. She didn’t remember Scott ever sounding emotional.

“Please send, me a picture of Kasia once in awhile on your phone. Not often, just so I know she’s okay.” Jolene couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She kept her voice neutral.

” I can do that, if Kasia doesn’t mind. I will tell her what you said,” Jolene remarked. “I’ll mention you can get her into a prestigious university, no strings attached. And I will definitely make sure she never falls for a man like you.”

“Great. . . gotta go Jolene. My 3:00 pm is here. Good Luck.” Scott said distractedly. Jolene heard the phone click and knew, Scott had moved on. She couldn’t blame Scott for that. It was time for Jolene and Kasia to move on in life as well.

——

I watch my niece as she finishes walking down the aisle. Beneath her veil, her face is glowing. Her eyes are fixed lovingly on her fiancé, Luc Devereaux.

Luc has a giant grin on his handsome face. He told me earlier, “Aunt Cathy, I can’t believe I get to marry Jolene. I always thought and dreamed about her. She’ll be my wife, and I get a beautiful step-daughter too.”

I carefully patted my new nephews arm. He used to be my boss but now, I am his cherished Auntie.”You’re perfect for Jolene and Kasia. You’re all exactly what the three of you needed, ” I tell Luc.

I see Luc take Jolene’s hand and slide on her wedding band. Jolene does the same for Luc. Beautiful Kasia is her Mom’s maid of honour in a couture pink gown.

But Jolene is simply stunning, channeling Grace Kelly. She is the perfect vintage leading lady in her bridal gown, except for one thing. Jolene’s back reveals a tattoo I never knew she had until I helped her change into her dress this morning.

Jolene’s tattoo is a quote that reads: “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is all you have to be.” 

Jolene’s tattoo demonstrates all that she has come through in life to be at the the altar with her ‘one,’ Luc. It tells me Jolene will be strong whatever she faces in life. But she isn’t alone. She has Kasia, Luc, and as always, her Auntie Cathy who had the pleasure of walking her cherished niece, down the aisle.

Fin

——

©Mandibelle16. All Rights Reserved.

5 Favorite Beauty, Fashion, and Lifestyle Blogs


1. http://www.galmeetsglam.com – A fashion, decor, and lifestyle blog by Julia Engel. I love this blog especially to see the beautiful outfits Julia wears and how I can make my outfits look anything like her outfits. I also love to see the beautiful places she shoots on location like her last trip to Mexico.

2. http://www.thesmallthingsblog.com – I have raved about this blog especially about the hairstyles Kate teaches women how to do on YouTube videos. Never have I felt it so easy to do updos and complex to simple hairstyles before. Kate also blogs about fashion, her favorite makeup products, home decore, lifestyle, and her too adorable baby boys as well as stuff for kids. This tends to be a lot of her blog right now because she just had her second boy Luke.

3. http://www.sequinsandstripes.com – A fashion blog where you can check out the daily outfit and even shop for the pieces or similar pieces you like.

4. http://www.thestripe.com – From DIY, to fashion, shopping, wellness, and even a little bit of beauty, the-stripe has a little bit of everything for everyone. I especially love her fashion because it’s clothes regular people can afford to buy and round ups of items centered around themes like ‘spring break’ or ‘ NY fashion week.’

5. http://www.lezoemusings.com – Kelli is famous for her DIY projects around work and especially around her house. Her husband often acts as the photographer and takes awesome pictures. Kelli creates beautiful themed corners in her home and tons of pictures of her daughter for whom the blogs named Zoe, and her baby Axel. She is also extremely into fashion and takes pictures of her outfits and works for gloss48, an online beauty store with products of speciality from smaller beauty companies that you can purchase in the US.