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).


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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?

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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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December Tidings


Happy December to you all. Are you like us up here in Edmonton? Covered in many inches of snow and just starting to come out of a cold snap that reached about -31 degrees Celsius with wind chill? I shouldn’t be complaining I’m an Albertan and use to this season we have called Winter. It lasts 8 months after all, and 10 months if you look at last year.
Not to mention I have been able to remain snugly warm in my sweaters while others have had to drive and go about their daily business.
A plus side for me to being constantly ill. Additionally, I don’t have to shovel snow, nor would I be much use at it as it is.

But enough about the weather I’d rather talk about the fact I managed to finish my Christmas shopping 2 weeks ago when A was up and that combined with a few on line orders did the job. Most of my presents are in gift bags with tags and cards in my room and I just have to receive one last parcel and then I really am finished shopping, even for myself. I need to order a pair of tall boots and that will be my present to me since I have to actually get them made due to the fact I fit neither wide calf or extra wide calf boots; I am right in the middle. It will take a month to get those puppies made and believe me they will last me a long time.

I am going with my brother to this Choklat place on Whyte Ave tomorrow night. We will get to see how the store makes chocolate and then have a wine tasting with chocolate. Some of you might think that is too sweet of a combination but I think it is just about perfection; Choklat is putting together two of my favourite items. It was a Groupon event and I just had to go so I purchased a ticket for my brother and I and now I can’t wait. I think the process of chocolate making will be pretty interesting in addition to the wine and chocolate tasting.

Also, it turns out my 4 month Proofreading course is only a 3 week course. I have finished 1 module and have 2 more to go before proofing an exam worth 85%. It has put me into a panic but I will just have to memorize and study hard for the final. The other 15% is made up of online posts, just answering questions the instructor asks about the modules, that’s the easy part. But I will be pretty busy until those modules are finished December 9 and then while I’m studying for the exam that needs to be finished before December 23. I tell myself at least that’s another editing course finished and done fast. The next one, Copywriting, takes place in April.

Also, looking forward to finally seeing a rheumatologist to find out whether I actually have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I think it’s a good bet I do but that depends what the doctor says and what kind of testing he gives me. But at least another step to unravelling what illness or illnesses that have been giving me grief often enough. Not looking forward to seeing the sleep doctor so much as I think it’s probably time that I require another sleeping medication. Gabepentin has done the trick for a year but I feel it’s effects waning at maximum dose. It has me afraid I will get another medication that will cause weight gain or won’t help me sleep deep enough. A deep peaceful sleep cannot be taken for granted given its effect on your whole day.

I have also started my fourth UBlogging course with WordPress, Writing 201 long form writing. I’m not sure how much writing I’ll actually get done but I am interested in the information each day’s topic will provide. I’m trying to write a book and am stuck on Chapter 3. I just need to sit down at Christmas time and organize my plot line and then just write. I’ll put the chapters up as I finish and correct them to my best ability. But, it may take awhile until How Was Last Night For You starts coming together.

Thanks for reading!

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Notes to Sleep By


I think I am having one of the most boring weeks of my life? I am well enough again after July to be up and about the house all day but I am finding myself a tad bored of reading which is saying something because I can usually read all day most days now and love it as I always have. English Major right here.

I don’t always feel that I need a nap in the day, daily chores, and preparing myself for the day only takes so long, even if I have chosen to do my hair in some special way since I have time.

I’m in this in-between stage where I’m healthy enough to be around the house but not quite healthy enough to be out and about doing too much, that just seems to exhaust me.

So, I walk a short distance — I still feel odd walking without a dog — and I concentrate as much as I can on some book, writing, and a tad bit of scrapbooking. I am trying to do more around the house but it seems when I get to rearranging things for more then a couple hours the usual fatigue kicks in. Same old problems.

I did happen to get together again with A over summer but he has been on a long vacation since the end of July visiting Paris, France, Morocco, and Barcelona, Spain. We’ve kept up communication well but I miss him a lot by this point, we’ve never been a part more then 3 weeks and although we message often I haven’t heard much lately so that usually means the cell reception is bad wherever he is in Morocco now.

He tells me he is coming home soon and I’m extremely looking forward to seeing him and hearing stories about his travels and all the friends and relatives he has seen. Although, I was happy to have a break to think before he left now I believe as the euphemism goes “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

I’m also doing this Writing 101 mini – course through WordPress, it’s about writing every day for a month and writing on varied topics, so I’m excited to have a little something to do until my editing course starts in November by distance learning.

I will be taking Proofreading and if that’s full then I will take Copywriting, both beginner courses. I just think Proofreading is the place to start since it’s more of checking for grammar and spelling etc. kind of idea as opposed to Copywriting which could involve changing more significant grammar, wording, and maybe even changing some ideas that don’t quite make sense ( at least suggesting). But I am happy to do whatever course I end up in.

The next two weeks will be busier, I have a wedding a few coffee’ s and some errands, shopping, and a visit to my favourite, The Beauty Lounge. If I am fortunate enough, A will be back and I’m thinking if he returns in the day I could meet him at the airport. I certainly think he’s worth the cab fare. fall will pick up as it always does and I’m excited for when it does.