Interview with Blogger Michael Grogan: A Writer With A Superb Sense of Humor #amwriting #interviews #bloggers


Welcome to another Writer/Blogger Interview with Micahel Grogan of Morpethroad: Random, Meaningful, Words. Please check out his wonderful blog. As a writer, Michael is versatile and has a wicked sense of humor. I’ve blogged with him a number of years. You can also find him on the site: Mind Loves Misery’s Menagerie where he hosts a writing prompt or two each week.


Michael Grogen
Credit: Michael Grogen – Morpethroad

1. Michael, Please Tell Us About Yourself? What is it Like Where You Live? 


I live in a beautiful part of the world. The Hunter Valley is a rich and diverse region with farming and coal mining being the predominant industries. I also live on the edge of a floodplain, and behind my house is a rich farming area where once-market crops such as potatoes, cabbage, and watermelons. But nowadays, it’s used for feed crops and the raising of some beef cattle.

I’ve always enjoyed writing. I worked for 39-years as a teacher of Drama and English, and during that time wrote a lot of pieces to help my students. In particular, in the 1990’s with the introduction of drama into the school curriculum, I wrote material for my students, and at one time, produced a book of performance pieces.

As a teacher, I liked to provide my students with opportunities to perform. I wrote four musicals, the first one was basic and I’d like to think my musicals improved from there.


2. When Did You Begin Blogging and Writing Outside of Teaching? What Has Blogging Taught You? 


By the time I retired I had started to blog. Initially, blogging was a place to release my writing. While blogging I discovered the opportunity to write and write in a more ordered way. I learned to address prompts on a daily basis to explore my creativity. The creative side of writing is what I love.

I don’t write for profit or anything like that. I’m not all interested in publishing, but I enjoy exploring the writing process. I’ve become engrossed in the process of ‘story.’ I produce the best effort I can. Then, I put it on my blog and link it to the prompt (or another blog), if necessary, and I move on to the next exercise (prompt).

So, I guess I’d say I write predominantly for me. If others enjoy what I write, then great. The other lesson I have learned from blogging is that your audience fluctuates. You might have 500 followers, but only 10 might on any regular basis read and comment on your work.


I don’t write for profit or anything like that. I’m not all interested in publishing, but I enjoy exploring the writing process. I’ve become engrossed in the process of ‘story.’ I produce the best effort I can. Then, I put it on my blog . . .” Michael Grogan


3. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging, and Why? 


My blogging began in about 2012. At the time there was an Australian blog site and I posted my work there. The only issue for me was that I was the only one there. An occasional reader might come by, but I was looking for a wider audience and that brought me to WordPress.

WordPress provided access many wonderful writers and a whole new world of writing opportunities. I was so blown away by other people’s comments on my work, and I thought it was so rare that anyone would like what I was writing, that I used to cut and save the comments. I don’t anymore.


3. What Do You Enjoy Writing About On Your Blog? 


Initially, I used my blog as a place to post work exploring sexuality. Summer and Tommy were two characters I invented to do that. After a time, I ‘got over’ that phase of my life and moved onto other writing.

If you read my blog you’ll find I write a lot of character-based material. I enjoy ‘character’ and so characters such as Miss Marble, Cyril Rum, and Wayne and Greg, have allowed me the license to explore and develop these characters and others.

To me, ‘character’ gives substance. My characters are never perfect — they have flaws, but they also have a sense of humor. That sense of humor allows me to comment on society, to explore satire, and for my characters to develop. I don’t pretend to make them politically correct.

For example, I know my Wayne and Greg stories about the angels from Heaven and Hell do ruffle a few feathers, but I think writing can and should do that. It should make us think about what we are on about. I think people take themselves far too seriously at times. Sometimes its good to stand back and have a good laugh at our behaviors and beliefs.


“If you read my blog you’ll find I write a lot of character-based material. I enjoy ‘character’ and so characters such as Miss Marble, Cyril Rum, and Wayne and Greg, have allowed me the license to explore and develop these characters and others.” – Michael Grogan


Matias Jengel Michael Grogen
Credit: Matias Jengle via Unsplash

4. What Else Does Blogging Mean To You? Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation for Blogging? 


Well, blogging to me is about exploring ideas in the form of a story. Also, when I started blogging a good friend said to me, that ‘my blog was mine, and that what I wrote was what I thought.’ He said ‘I shouldn’t get caught up in what other people might think.’ So in a nutshell, what blogging means to me is to be able to express myself, and be pleased with what I write.

For me, inspiration comes from the writing prompts I receive most days, from different blogging sites. I don’t do them all regularly. I pick and choose the prompts I like. Most prompts that I write trigger a memory or situation from my past, sometimes from what I have read or seen.

Sometimes it takes me a day or two to get a story going in my head before I write it. For me, the story has to work and if it doesn’t I stop, go away, and do something else such as mowing the lawn.

I see if when I go back to it I can make more sense of it. If not I don’t believe in twisting myself every which way to write something but, rather, it’s best to let it go and move on to the next challenge.

In many ways, writing is a puzzle. Whatever the prompt, I find it a challenge to match my ability to its demands. Like anything in life, some days you succeed some days you don’t.


5. Where Else Do You Find Writing Inspiration? What Don’t You Enjoy About Certain Writing Prompts? 


I’ve never liked prompts that involve competition. I avoid them. I don’t like the notion of feeling under threat by imposed rules. I like the freedom to write what I like to write. I once entered a Short Story competition and was so disappointed I didn’t rate a mention when I realized after reading the rules, I had broken most of them.

Also, the people and places around you provide such wonderful inspiration. You meet wonderful people in blog-land. I find I’m in daily contact with great writers, amazing people from who I draw inspiration. In particular, the people I’ve met who have been so brave in writing their memoirs. For many of them, their lives have been the subject of abuse; I find them inspirational. My life in comparison has been dull.

However, my blogging practice is significant as it affords me the chance to exercise my brain and do what I love, writing about ‘character.’On occasion, I dabble in a bit of poetry


“You meet wonderful people in blog-land. I find I’m in daily contact with great writers, amazing people from who I draw inspiration. In particular, the people I’ve met who have been so brave in writing their memoirs. For many of them, their lives have been the subject of abuse; I find them inspirational.” – Michael Grogan


Fabian Grohs Michael G
Credit: Fabain Grohs via Unsplash 

6. Do You Have Any Writing Habits, A Particular Time of Day You Enjoy Writing Most? 


I tend to find I write best in the mornings. It’s 5:00 a.m. now. Here I am tapping away answering questions. If something inspiring pops up in the evenings that I have a ready response for, then I write before my idea disappears.

I’ve discovered another dimension to writing, and that is the reader’s response. If I can write something you find entertaining, that gives you a laugh, and you say so — that’s great feedback. Comments are a source of encouragement and I try when I comment, to encourage people to write because I know it’s not always easy. We should encourage and support each others writing where we can.

There’s also the aspect of learning something new. In particular, reading other peoples responses is a learning experience. We are never too old to learn.


7. Do You Have Any Current Writing Projects? Have You Published Any Recent Writing? Can You Describe Your Writing Process? 


I don’t have any writing projects apart from the family tree document I am working on. I tend to use my blog to respond to the prompts I feel I can do. I was also recently published in the d’verse anthology, and that was a thrill to be included. But I don’t write with the intention to publish.

I usually look at a prompt I’m attracted to and let it sit for a while. Sometimes I have nothing, initially, and then at some point, an idea germinates in my mind and I go from there. The ideas might be from things I’ve read or seen, and I’m able to put my slant on them.

My first draft will be all the ideas I can think of, and then I go back and edit. In the case of word-limited prompt, I write everything and then edit by asking myself, ‘Will the piece stand up if I take this word or sentence or paragraph out?” Usually, when I remove words or sections these prompts work better.


8. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading Genre? Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Beginner Writers and Bloggers? 


I like to try my hand at all sorts of things. Fantasy is good as I often feel there are not as many strict rules or conventions to follow. I’ve tried my hand at writing horror stories, but I don’t have any compulsion to read them. As I said earlier, I do like writing character pieces the most.

Helpful advice: You need to understand why you are doing what you are doing. Do you like writing, and who might your audience be? Your blog should also be for you. You don’t have to answer to anyone; you write what you like writing about. Also, don’t be disappointed if you receive few, if any, comments when you start.

As well, flash fiction prompts are a useful way to attract followers as they often have huge numbers of blogger submitting stories. Don’t blog as a way to make money; you’ll be disappointed. I imagine few bloggers make any money from their blog. Once you start seeing other bloggers are following you, its normal for a few of them to comment. But don’t expect others to comment on a regular basis.

Its also a blogging fact, the piece you write that you consider brilliant and a work of literary merit, may not receive any or many comments. Why? I don’t know. Most bloggers also have a short attention span and so blog posts over a thousand words won’t be read as much. It’s why 100-word flash fiction is so popular.

Lastly, be prepared to read other people’s blogs with the intention of learning something from them. There are many amazing writers out there.


9. Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share With Us? Do You Have Any Favorite Blogs or Reasons You Follow Certain Bloggers? 


If writing doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, then you aren’t doing it right. You need to stop and evaluate what and why you are doing what you do. We all do it differently and whatever process works for you is a good guide. That people read and comment favorably is proof you are doing something right.

Favorite bloggers: I found this a good question in that it reminded me that during my blogging years, people I admired have disappeared for one reason or another. It has always been sad to read of the death of a favored blogger. Some of my favorite blogs are from people who rarely blog nowadays. Some bloggers develop a unique style and voice, and I like their approach to what they write, so I keep wanting to read more. 


“You need to understand why you are doing what you are doing. Do you like writing, and who might your audience be? Your blog should also be for you. You don’t have to answer to anyone; you write what you like writing about.” -Michael Grogan 


Nicole Honeywell Michael G
Credit: Nicole Honeywell via Unsplash

10. Can You Please Share With Us A Few Links from Your Blog? 


Having written a number of posts about Miss Marble, the Witch on Grimace Street, here is a link to one that says something about her origins:

The Origins of Miss Marble, Marble Juice, and Galactic Dust

By

Micahel Grogan 

November 29, 2016.

*****

Toa Heftiba Michael G
Credit: Toa Heftiba via Unsplash – Miss Marble’s Magic Juice

*****

Last week’s Tale Weaver was a piece I wrote about Miss Marble and the aliens. In the end, I mentioned galactic dust and following some queries as to what the dust is, I have written the following, which may shed some light on where Miss Marble has come from, what Marble Juice is, and the significance of the galactic dust. Here is the link to that post: HERE!!

*****

The Klator people had been visiting the earth for many millennia sourcing jupjup berries. They came to earth every two years as part of their orbit through the universe. In the beginning, there had been several spaceships arrive. The earth had the perfect climate for the jupjup berry and they were plentiful. For the Klator the berries provided sustenance.  Their home planet was now uninhabitable and they were forced to live a nomadic life.

Their stopovers on earth were about harvesting and preserving as many berries as they could. With each visit, they became aware of climatic changes on the earth.  They looked for new locations to plant seeds in the hope that by the time they returned the berries would be in fruit.

As time wore on, the places the berries would grow diminished for a variety of reasons. The climate did change, some years were poorer than others in terms of rainfall, heat, and cold. As the human population spread they took over fertile lands previously planted with the jupjup berry. To the humans, the jupjup berry was nothing more than an inedible pest and they destroyed as much as they could.

By the time of the middle ages, with the human population spreading and growing in numbers, the habitat of the jupjup berry diminished. Farms were expanding due to the need for more produce to feed the growing population.

This was a problem for the Klator. The issue of not being able to source the berries was looming closer and closer.

When they landed they avoided all contact with the humans. They saw the humans as a dirty, disgusting race content to live in their own squalor and offering little to the Klators.

One day, they happened upon a young woman gathering herbs in the forest near where they were harvesting jupjup berries. Curious that this young lady should be gathering herbs in that particular part of the forest they watched her.

The young lady lived in a small house in a street that was long and stretched away from the main town. She had inherited the house from her mother who had passed on her practice to her daughter. They were known in those times as witches as they dealt in all sorts of potions and medicines. Most of the townsfolk feared them especially when they had cures that actually worked. Many of these women had suffered the fate of the dunking stool. In many people’s eyes, it was only a matter of time before this young lady suffered the same fate.

The Klator were curious in discovering the young lady had a keen interest in chemistry. She was keen to find out the properties of the herbs she used.

Sensing an opportunity, the Klator decided to engage with the young lady. Discovery they knew was a huge risk. There had been ugly exchanges in the past and they went out of their way to avoid any reoccurrences.

In the middle of the night, they paid the young lady a visit. Startled at first, the young lady found she had not much choice but listen to the tale the Klator told. Mention of the jupjup berry enthralled her. She knew of the berry and knew most people considered it a pest and tore it out at every opportunity. The Klator asked her to look at the berry and see if there was a way the berry’s secret ingredient might be made.

The young lady looked at the berries offered to her and said she would see what she could discover. For several weeks she toiled at her task before discovering an alcohol the berries contained.  This explained the berry’s bitter unpalatable taste.

Knowing a little about alcohol she worked to discover its chemical composition.

It wasn’t long before she discovered a sure way to produce it and in liquid form as well. She presented it to the Klator who, upon tasting it, declared it was ideal for their purposes.

They requested she make enough for the two years they would be away. With due diligence, she carried out the task producing several barrels.

The Klator asked her name were told she was called Marble.

Marble didn’t think of them again as the next two years were a time of survival for her. Times were tough, there was much sickness and the plague was ravaging the country when the Kaltor returned. Seeing them at her door heightened her already high levels of anxiety. Right at that moment, she didn’t need more pressure. The community was whispering witchcraft as she struggled to produce the medicine she hoped would cure the townsfolk.

The Klator had returned with the barrels from the previous visit empty. They asked her to fill them again and what was the name of the substance she made. She mumbled “Marble Juice” for the want of a better name and thought about the manufacture of the liquid for the Klator. It would take her a week to create enough to fill the barrels but in that time her own well-being might come under fire. The plague was not abating, the demand for her medicine was increasing. She explained all this to the Klator who were sympathetic to her cause.

They said they would give her an extra week to help her meet their needs and those of her community.

When they returned they noticed how much Marble had aged. She had not slept well, she worked long hours and the toll was showing.

With their barrels full they were grateful for what Marble did for them and so they gave her a bag of galactic dust. Their instructions were to mix a tablespoon of the dust in a pot of water and drink a half cup each day. Their message was it would give her energy.

Marble did take as they advised and found she did have more energy and could work longer. Before long Marble realized the drink she was taking each day was giving her more than energy. She noticed around her friends and family were growing older. She could not see the same deterioration occurring in herself.

Every two years the Klator returned. They brought Marble a bag of dust and collected their Marble Juice.

As time progressed Marble found people began to build houses along the road past her house. Over the years the area became known as ‘grimace.’ It was what the workers did as they walked past her house, grimaced as if fearful of giving cause to attract Marble’s attention. There were rumors she was not only a witch but a very powerful one. It was just a matter of time before Grimace Street became its official name.

The only friend Marble had in the world was her faithful hound, Sal. (Short for Salivate) She shared her half cup of life elixir with Sal each morning.

As the years went by Grimace Street grew around Marble. Neighbors came and went and Marble became known as Miss Marble.

The galactic dust she knew was invaluable. In the modern age with space exploration expanding and the search for extra-terrestrials ever increasing she knew that should any of the so-called ‘experts’ find out what she had, there would be no stopping them in getting their hands on the invaluable dust. So the arrival of the Klator was always at night, in secret and the galactic dust always locked away.

*****


A Few More of Michael’s Blog Links!!



Thank you, Michael, for taking the time to fill out the interview questions, especially, at 5:00 a.m. I apologize the Interview took so long for me to post. For those of you waiting for your interview, they’re coming! Thanks again and see you next time!


©Mandibelle16. (2018). All Rights Reserved.

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Interview with Writer, Blogger, and Author JoAnne Macco #amwriting #interview #nonfiction


Good Morning, and welcome to another writer and or blogger interview. I’m excited to share with you an interview with a newly published author, JoAnne Macco. I think you’ll love her blog and her book as much as I do.

As per usual, this interview will also be featured on the Go Dog Go Cafe, a blog for writers and lovers of writing, of all kinds. It’s a blogger and writer’s community so make sure you stop by there after reading this interview on my site. You can also submit writing of your own on the site such as poetry and short fiction through the Contact Page.

JoAnne’s blog site is JoAnne of the Forest: Anything is Possible with Faith, Hope, and Perseverance. 


JoAnne Silvia Picture
Credit: JoAnne Macco

1. JoAnne, Please Tell Us About Yourself? 

On WordPress, I’m best known as JoAnna of the Forest and I live in North Carolina on the east coast of the U.S.

In January, I took a leap of faith and retired from a 30-year career as a substance abuse counselor to spend more time writing and painting angels. My goal is to provide hope through my blog, and my book, Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again.

My long-term goals are to continue to develop my storytelling skills, to write a novel based on my parents, and to travel more. As a military kid, my family moved around a great deal.

I longed to settle in one place, so I’ve stayed near the Carolina coast for most of my adult life. It’s comfortable here, most of the year, although summers can become hot and humid. It helps that my little urban cottage is 15 minutes from the ocean and surrounded by trees that provide a lot of shade.


2. When Did you Begin Writing and Blogging? For What Reason and What Does Writing Mean To You? 

I wrote poems and songs in high school and I’ve journaled, off and on, for most of my life. Writing has always been therapeutic for me, which is probably why I wrote more when I approached menopause as a single mom with a 13-year-old daughter.

Writing helped me find perspective and meaning during those rollercoaster years. When I wrote my book in 2012, someone told me I needed to blog as well. Blogging has broadened my world tremendously, and I’m thankful to be part of this supportive community on WordPress. I believe that when we all share our experience, thoughts, and feelings, we discover that we have more in common than we might have realized.


“In January, I took a leap of faith and retired from a 30-year career as a substance abuse counselor to spend more time writing and painting angels. My goal is to provide hope through my blog, “Anything is Possible,” and my book, Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again.” – JoAnne Macco


3. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write and Blog? Why Is Writing Significant to You? 

I’ve learned a lot in my 60 years of life and I’m still learning a ton. I hope to share my experience and give people hope that even when your world seems to be falling apart, things are going to work out if you hang in there and work on you. Plus, writing helps me organize my thoughts and process my feelings. It helps me explore what I want to understand better about myself and the world.


4. Do You Have Particular Writing and/or Blogging Habits? What Do You Enjoy Most About Writing? 

Since I’m a night owl, my natural tendency is to write more in the afternoon and evening. But when I was working on my book, I found I had to write in the morning to keep from being distracted and staying up too late.

I’d force myself write in the morning for at least two hours before looking at any social media or email. Then, after checking those, I’d return to writing a couple of more hours in the afternoon.

I loved those long stretches of working on my book and becoming absorbed in the process. I look forward to doing that again with my next book. For now, I’m writing most of my blog posts at night.


“I hope to share my experience and give people hope that even when your world seems to be falling apart, things are going to work out if you hang in there and work on you. Plus, writing helps me organize my thoughts and process my feelings.” – JoAnne Macco 


5. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects with Your Blog and Outside of Your Blog?

On my blog, I’m searching for positive and inspiring experiences to share with others, whether these experiences are global, local, or personal stories about overcoming challenges and also about meaningful coincidences.

I want to engage readers about relationship issues and personal growth topics that come up a lot in Trust the Timing, my book on Amazon.com. Outside of blogging, I’m beginning to research and collect material for future books I want to write.


6. Have You Published Your First Book? Do You Plan To Publish More in the Future?

I’ve just published my first book, Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again which is told from the alternating perspectives of two high school sweethearts. It became available on Amazon.com in July 2017.

As well, I’m planning to write and publish at least two more books, one about Doodle, the problem step-dog (who makes an appearance in my first book). Also, I’m writing a novel based on the lives of my extraordinary parents. At some time, I would also like to publish a book of poetry.


“On my blog, I’m searching for positive and inspiring experiences to share with others, whether these experiences are global, local, or personal, stories about overcoming challenges and about meaningful coincidences.’ – JoAnne Macco


Trust the Timing: A Memoir of Finding Love Again

by

JoAnne Macco

(Available for Purchase one Amazon.com)

*****

Book Cover JoAnne Macco Amazon.com
Credit: JoAnne Macco (Amazon.com)

*****


7. Can You Briefly Describe Your Writing Process? Did You Self-Publish or Go Through and Agent or Publishing Company? 

When I first started writing, I edited too much as I went along. Now, I think about a story or blog post in my head for a while first. When it comes to the writing, I’ve learned that a stream-ofaconsciousness style, without editing, makes my writing more interesting and fun.

I try to draft a chapter or a blog post without editing as if I’m talking to a friend. Then I’ll go back and edit the chapter or post later. Although, I don’t know if I’d want to write an another entire book like that. As I mentioned earlier, it’s better if I write before I peruse social media. I have to keep reminding myself of that!

Moreover, after considerable research and weighing the pros and cons, I decided to self-publish with Create Space for my memoir. I enjoyed the control this provided me. I think my next book maybe done with a small publishing company.


“When I first started writing, I edited too much as I went along. Now, I think about a story or blog post in my head for a while first. When it comes to the writing, I’ve learned that a stream of consciousness style, without editing, makes my writing more interesting and fun.” – JoAnne Macco


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

In college, I took journalism and technical writing and my previous career required a lot of factual reporting and clinical notes. As a result when I began writing my book I had a strong nonfiction framework. Also, I’ve enjoyed learning more about creative nonfiction over the past five years, working on my memoir.

Moreover, I’ve always been talented at making up stories in my head and I look forward to writing more fiction. However, my reading habits lean toward inspirational nonfiction, by authors like Anne Lamott and Elizabeth Gilbert, with an occasional sci-fi novel thrown in for fun.


9. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Bloggers and Writers Starting Out? 

I think I started writing and blogging, being too serious. Maybe it was my journalism and technical writing background? I thought I knew how to write, but creative writing is a whole different process than what I had been used to writing. To begin, I took online classes and engaged with supportive critique groups. 

Moreover, I learned that it’s vital to be conscientious and caring, when you’re writing, but not to forget to have fun. Also, it’s a good idea not to make your blog posts too long. About ‘five hundred’ words are plenty for a post (unless of course, you’re doing an interview). As well, I’ve learned to use photograps in every blog post I publish. 

My creative writing experience outside of blogging is primarily with my memoir. What I’ve learned from it is to write from your heart and not to be afraid to delve into those feelings if you’re in an emotionally stable place. It can be difficult and you’ll need to take breaks. Also, I’m sure writing fiction can bring up emotional baggage too. If you’re not ready for that, write for fun. Write poetry to yourself or write in a journal.

You can also keep a notebook handy for ideas that pop-up in your head so you can jot them down and allow these ideas to flow and transform into some kind writing later on.


“I’m sure writing fiction can bring up baggage, too. If you’re not ready for that yet, just write for fun. Write poetry to yourself. Keep a journal. Keep a notebook handy for ideas that” – JoAnne Macco


Writing Notebook Thought Catalogue UnSplash
Credit: Thought Catalogue via UnSplash

10. Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share About Yourself or Your Writing? 

In my short biography, I describe myself as an open-minded, tree-hugging Christian. Like Madeleine L’Engle, I don’t consider myself a “Christian writer” but a writer who happens to be a Christian. I like to explore spirituality and connections between things that don’t seem to be connected.


11. Just for Fun. What Are Your Top Three Favorite Blogs? What Do You Enjoy About Them? 

It’s so difficult to name only three! I could easily name 10 favorites or more! But here it goes:

  • Sacred Touches –  Natalie Scarberry always has something to comfort or inspire me with vibrant colors and natural delights.
  • SmileCalm Home – David’s gentle, loving wisdom comes through in each post and makes me smile deep down in my heart.
  • Behind the White CoatBehind the White Coat is written by a smart doctor with a big heart. Her posts can be informative, entertaining, hilarious or heartbreaking. Her honesty makes me feel like I am not alone.

“In my short biography, I describe myself as an open-minded, tree-hugging Christian. Like Madeleine L’Engle, I don’t consider myself a “Christian writer” but a writer who happens to be a Christian. I like to explore spirituality and connections between things that don’t seem to be connected.” – JoAnne Macco 


Jo Anne Silvia Book Cover 2
Credit: Provided by JoAnne Macco

12. Please Share With Us Some Of Your Blog Writing. 

“If We Lose Electricity” 

By

JoAnne Macco

*****

JoAnne Macco
Credit: JoAnne Macco – http://www.joanneoftheforest.wordpress.com

*****

If we lose electricity

in the storm,

We will still have power.

We have the power

To check on our neighbors,

To ask for help,

To move to higher ground.

The power to tell stories,

To laugh,

To sing lullabies.

The power to write a poem,

To mend what’s torn,

To read by candlelight.

The power to hope and pray,

To reminisce,

To hold hands in the dark.

The power to clear a path,

To rise from ash,

 and rebuild.

_____________________________

When we say we’ve lost power, it minimizes the power we still have. If we lose electricity, let’s say we lost electricity. We still have power, at least over our thoughts, words, and actions.

I send prayers for safety and comfort to all those in the path of the storm.

13. Here are Some More Blog Links to JoAnne’s Writing:


Thank you so much to JoAnne for her patience with this interview. I loved learning about her writing and her background as a writer. I also think it’s neat how she is, particularly, a nonfiction writer. I also loved her quote about being a Christian writer who doesn’t, necessarily, do Christian writing.

If you’re a blogger or writer, or someone who blogs about a cause, please feel to contact me if you would like to be interviewed. My contact page is HERE. See you when I see you :).


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!


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