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


interview-colin-and-ray2
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.

 

Advertisements

Interview With Melinda Kucsera


Welcome to another edition of my bi-weekly writer interview series. Today I have interviewed the fascinating and lovely, science-fiction and fantasy writer Melinda Kucsera. You can visit here blog here: www.melindakucsera.com


 

Melinda Kucsera
Melinda Kucsera

1. Melinda, Please Tell Us About Yourself?

I’m an IT project manager for an academic journal publisher by day. By night, I write fantasy books, science-fiction books, and short stories. Then, I post them to me blog: www.melindakucsera.com


2. When did you start writing and blogging?

I started building my own world, when I was small and fleshed out a fantasy world for my characters to live in. Originally, my world only had one country called Shayari. But my world grew to include other countries as well as extensions into other worlds and realms.

I used to tell stories about Shayari and its people to my siblings, the kids I babysat, (etc). But I didn’t write my stories down until I was in middle school and even then, I spent more time writing about my created world and its peculiarities than its people.

Around the age of sixteen-years-old, I came across the bookThe Winds of Fate by Mercedes Lackey at my local library. It was the first fantasy book I’d ever come into contact with and it gave me the idea to write down the stories I had been imagining. I thought, if readers liked Lackey’s fantasy world, then they’d like mine too. So, I began writing all my stories down. And I don’t have to tell you, writing for me is pure joy. I’d rather write than do anything else.

I started blogging a year ago in 2015 because everyone kept telling me I should do it. Blogging seemed like a good way to start fulfilling my sister’s last request. She asked that I publish the stories she grew-up loving so that other people could enjoy them as well.


” . . .I began writing all my stories down. And I don’t have to tell you, writing for me is pure joy. I’d rather writer than do anything else . . . Blogging seemed like a good way to start fulfilling my sister’s last request. She asked that I publish the stories she grew-up loving so that other people could enjoy them as well.” – Melinda Kucsera


3. What Does Writing Mean to You? Why Do You Write?

I write for the joy of it and because I can’t not write. There’s an ever expanding number of characters walking in and out of my imagination, demanding that I capture their life in words. I want to write these character’s stories. Their stories are compelling and they always show me tantalizing bits which make me want to know more!


4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?

Writing is the first and last thing I think about every day. In fact, every other thought I have is about a story in progress, or a character, or an idea for a character for a story. My imagination has no off switch. It never takes a vacation and it doesn’t sleep. It’s always working away in the background, no matter what I am doing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s no logic to what my imagination latches onto and spins into a story or character.


“My imagination has no off switch. It never takes a vacation and it doesn’t sleep. It’s always working away in the background, no matter what I am doing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s no logic to what my imagination latches onto and spins into a story or character.” – Melinda Kucsera


5. Do You Find There is a Time of Day You Most Enjoy to Write?

No, I steal time for writing whenever and wherever I can. I have a demanding day job which keeps me busy for eleven to twelve hours-a-day, five-days a week, if you factor in my commute time to and from work. Additionally, I’m a fitness and health nut and I walk anywhere from one to three hours each day. Thank God for smartphones, they allow me to write, edit, and walk at the same time.


6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects? Do You Have Any Hopeful Projects?

I have too many projects! I love working on multiple projects at the same time, hence, my day job as a project manager.My most current projects are:

1.Curse Breaker: Enchanted, which is on sale on Amazon at http://bit.ly/CurseMK. Sarn must find out why a child was murdered in the enchanted forest before the same fate befalls him or his son. (It’s a heartwarming fantasy tale). I’m finalizing the Kindle version and will start the print edition hopefully, the week following.

 2. Curse Breaker: Faceted, which is the sequel to Curse Breaker: Enchanted, (Dec 2016/Jan 2017 release). It’s already written and I only need to edit the novel. In this book, odd events happen around an old tower which only Sarn can remember seeing. These occurrences are building up to something and Sarn wants nothing to do with it. But he can’t escape what’s coming…

3.Curse Breaker: Jousted, book three of the Curse Breaker Saga (March/April 2017 release). Sarn and his family take in a joust which takes a deadly turn when extinct creatures show up. Who will survive the hunter’s game?

4.Curse Breaker: Trapped, book four of the Curse Breaker Saga (June/July 2017 release). Sarn’s luck has finally run out. The silence that hid his son for the last four years now dooms him when an old enemy shows up to even the score. Sarn’s two lives collide and his son hangs in the balance.

5. I’m also working on several other novels and extensions for the short stories readers have requested. And I publish a short story a day on my blog so yeah, I’m also working on blogging short stories as well.


” . . . I walk anywhere from one to three hours each day. Thank God for smartphones. They allow me to talk, edit, and walk at the same time.” – Melinda Kucsera


7.  Are You Planning to Publish More Works of Writing in the Future? Do You Have Other Published Works Besides What You Are Currently Working On?

Yes, I am planning to publish my stories. My sister asked me to publish my stories before her death in 2014; it is one promise, I intend to keep.

I published Stars and Angels Sing in January of 2016 as well as Curse Breaker: Enchanted, is on sale right now on Amazon. (See the second link to purchase Melinda’s first book in Sarn’s journey.)


Curse breaker Enchanted Melinda
http://www.amazon.com

Additionally, as stated above, I plan to publish the first four books of the Curse Breaker Saga: Curse Breaker: Enchanted (9/27/2016); Curse Breaker: Faceted (December 2016/early January); Curse Breaker: Jousted (March/April 2017); and Curse Breaker: Trapped (June/July 2017). I haven’t figured out which book will follow book four, possibly a book book five; but I’m not sure yet.


8. Can you Briefly Describe the Process You Are Going Through to Publish Your Curse Breaker Series of Books?

Sure, though I’m making this up as I go along. Consider yourself forewarned. I couldn’t afford an editor so I’m doing all editing myself. For me this means:

1. I submit each chapter to The Hemingway App which is a fantastic writer’s tool. It highlights uses of passive voice, wordiness, hard to read sentences, adverbs, words that can be simplified,(etc). I edit my chapter based on The Hemingway App suggestions and until I’m satisfied with my editing.

2. I also, use an app an on my android phone called Voice Reader. It essentially, reads my word document of my manuscript to me and I edit my book while I walk. I listen to each section in my book two-times.

3. I spell and grammar check my entire manuscript in MS Word as well as double-check the meanings of words to ensure I am using them correctly. To ensure I’m using words correctly, I use:  Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

4. After completing the appropriate steps to self-edit a group of chaptersI send them to my beta reader and wait for feedback while I work on the next group of chapters requiring editing.

5. Once, everything is edited to my satisfaction from self-editing and the comments of my beta reader, I will listen to the entire book one last time, to be certain I’ve caught any missed mistakes.

6. I designed the covers for the Curse Breaker Saga since I know my way around Photoshop. But first, I researched. I browsed audio books and ogled a lot of book covers. I may have bought a bunch of those books. I asked my cube-mate fro, work, who is the web designer from my day job, for feedback on the covers but she didn’t have any.

7. Next, I formatted my book for Kindle which required me to apply some styles in MS Word, slap in a hyperlinked TOC, and I was done.

8. After, I created a new MS Word document and set it up for print. I cut and pasted chapter by chapter, following basic design rules (chapter heads always start on the right hand page etc.) I always chose the ‘paste as plain text’ option AND THEN  I applied the new styles. If the document is set up right this process is boring but painless.

9.  I submitted two documents using self-publishing, one to Amazon and one to a printer to proof and print/put up for sale.


9. How Does Your Writing Process Work? Do Prefer Certain Areas or Genres of Writing and Reading?

I write whenever I can steal a few minutes to do so. I always have pages of my writing, clawing its way out of my head. Also, I love audio books. They are the only books I read anymore. As for genres, I love fantasy and science-fiction. Reading science-fiction, I especially enjoy military, speculative, and hard science-fiction. I also like to read whatever else catches my eye when I feel like reading.


” I submit each chapter to The Hemingway App which is a fantastic writer’s tool [for editing] . . . I also, use an app an on my android phone called Voice Reader . . . I edit my book while I walk. I listen to each section in my book two-times.” – Melinda Kucsera


10. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice For Other Writers Or Anything Else You’d Like To Share Related To Writing or Yourself?

Write because you love writing; write for yourself not for others. Read a lot and if you’re busy, listen to a lot of audio-books while you do other work. Hearing great writing in your ear and thinking about it in your mind is vital. So read, hear, think, about writing, however, you can.

Write On!


11. Please Share With Us a Few Links from Your Blog With Some of Your Favorite Pieces? 

Curse Breaker: Enchanted blurb:

“SARN indentured himself four years ago to pay for his brother’s education. It was a desperate bid to help his brother escape the cycle of poverty. For him there was never any hope, not while his body brims with illegal magic that just so happens to fuel the perpetual glow of his green eyes.

THE BARGAIN…The terms of his indenture landed him a stint with the Rangers who patrol the enchanted forest until a party of travelers is attacked in the forest’s midst and killed. Everything changes when that first drop of blood is spilled, waking the forest’s ire.

THE MYSTERY… Sarn tries to stay out of sight and trouble but one of the Rangers has plans for him. And the ghost of a child murdered in the forest haunts him—a green-eyed child just like his own son. Who killed this boy and the party he traveled with and why? The answer might cost his sanity but to find it, he risks losing the son he’s kept a secret for four years. Not finding the answer might damn his son to share that murdered boy’s fate.

As conflicting plans collide beneath enchanted boughs, one thing is certain. If Sarn can’t get his magic under control, he’ll never find the answers that he seeks. But how far is he willing to go to find those answers? The search might cost more than his sanity; it might cost his life.”


12. Here are Some Short Excerpts of Curse Breaker: Enchanted Below from Melinda’s Blog:

1. Queen Of All Trees

2. Curse Breaker: Kaulayaw

3.The Trouble With Marahuyo


Thank you so much Melinda for agreeing to be interviewed and providing such a thorough description of your publishing process and the exciting book series you are publishing. Here is the link to Melinda Kucsera’s Blog again and the link on Amazon to purchase her amazing first book!


Hope you enjoyed today’s interview. I know I did 🙂 If you would like to share about yourself and your writing in my bi-weekly interview series, please reach-out to me through my Contact Page here. Thanks for reading!


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.