Friday, June 23, 2017

Interview with writer Patrick A. Roland

Welcome, readers. My special guest today is writer Patrick A. Roland. He’s chatting with me about his memoir, Unpacked Sparkle.

Bio:
Patrick A. Roland is an award-winning journalist, author, and editor with 21 years of mainstream media, specialty publication, corporate and public relations experience.

Unpacked Sparkle chronicles Patrick Roland's transformative journey upon finding his partner Pack dead in January 2014. It begins on the day of the funeral that he was uninvited to by Pack's homophobic family and details the nearly two-year journey back to a now thriving, joy-filled life he experienced as a result. It discusses addiction and the recovery from it, grief and the journey to acceptance that ensued, the family dynamics and DNA that resulted in a live-saving bi-polar diagnosis, and the importance of civil rights and marriage equality. This miraculous journey is threaded together by a tapestry of amazing friends who helped him find his way back to happiness, where he remains putting his hand out to others in search of their own sparkle.

The author hopes that by sharing his experience and strength with readers, they will find hope. He believes everyone deserves to sparkle. Let's take this journey together so you can unpack yours.

For more information, visit www.unpackedsparkle.com.
To reach the author, write patrick@unpackedsparkle.com.

Welcome, Patrick. Please tell us about your current release.
Unpacked Sparkle documents the nearly 2-year period after I found my partner dead in our home one January morning in 2014. In the 8 days following, his extremely homophobic family raided our home without my permission, kicked me out of it and disinvited me from the funeral. Unable to grieve him, I turned to drugs as a "solution" to my pain. The intersection of grief and addiction was a dangerous place that eventually took me to the 26th floor of a Vegas casino, where I almost jumped out of a window. My mother - who I never told where I was and who has dementia I might add - somehow found me and called the police and I was hospitalized against my will. I have been sober since (now over 2 years), and my new life in sobriety is nothing short of a miracle.

What inspired you to write this book?
I think initially I wanted to write myself out of pain. In getting it all out of me, I found the power in everything that had happened. I wasn't really sure for a long time if this was just going to be this thing that I did for myself, or if I was going to release it, but I came to realize that there were others struggling with similar issues - especially grief - that perhaps I could help through my story. I feel like this is less about me and what I went through and more about me and what I got through. I want people to realize that no matter what they are facing, they can. It starts with loving yourself. I know that sounds really simplistic and maybe even cliche but so many of us - especially addicts and alcoholics - are not able to love ourselves. We think we are bad because of what we do or what we have done. But we are not - we are people with a disease who do recover and our addiction can become a beautiful blessing in our life if we do the work to make it so.


Excerpt from Unpacked Sparkle:
The very things in life you are the most afraid of are the very things that bring the most growth. It's in facing those intimidating and unrelenting fears that we become who we are. The other side of fear is always a miracle. Magic isn't created when you are comfortable, it manifests when you are not.


What exciting story are you working on next?
Well, life is kind of unfolding at the moment. I still want to turn Unpacked Sparkle into a screenplay. I also wrote a children's book, but I think for it to be successful, it needs a good illustrator, which I haven't found yet. My parents are not doing so well health-wise and we are at that point where some major decisions are going to have to be made, so something tells me that my next project will tackle that. A constant theme for me is taking things that seem hard or awful and making them beautiful. I don't let things break me; instead I look at the opportunity for them to make me.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In college I started writing for the newspaper there and people really took to my work; but I think I knew I was really a writer when I was at my first newspaper job right out of college. That very first year, I won a couple of major awards from the state newspaper association. I felt like if I was already winning major awards with such limited experience, I was probably on to something.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I actually do have a full-time job that is centered around writing but it is totally separate from my literary career. I've been employed as a writer my entire career - 20 years now. Finding the time to write is hard, especially since I have a full-time job and several commitments in the 12-step program that keeps me sober. I was kind of lucky that Unpacked Sparkle spilled out of me the way it did. It felt like I went through what I did because I was supposed to do this - like I was realizing my life purpose. That's pretty cool.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I wrote the entire book in the "Notes" section of my iPhone. I only used a computer during the final editing process.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a therapist actually. But when I got to college, I realized I was going to be in school for like 10 years and I wasn't very excited about that, so I picked writing because I figured I could still help people. I guess I just always wanted to help people really.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I want people to know that no matter how bad it seems it's never worth giving up. I'm living proof that you can turn your life around after a rough time. There are people all around you that will help you if you ask for it. But more importantly YOU are capable of more strength and power than you ever thought possible. All you have to do is love yourself. Even if you think you can't - and I get it because I was there once too - you can. You are beautiful and you are worth it. Don't ever forget how much you sparkle.

Links:

Thanks for being here today, Patrick.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Interview with poet Vijaya Gowrisankar


Poet Vijaya Gowrisankar joins me today. We’re talking about her new collection of poems, Savour – Art and Poetry meet.

Bio:
Vijaya’s fourth book of poems, Savour – Art and Poetry meet was published on April 30, 2017. Her first three books of poems, Inspire, Reflect, and Explore are best sellers. Her submissions have been published in Silver Birch Press, Nancy Drew Anthology, Poetry Marathon 2016 Anthology, Sometimes Anyway: Pride in Poetry Volume II, Forwardian, Triadae Magazine, iWrite India, Dystenium Online, and Taj Mahal Review anthologies. She has appeared as guest speaker in colleges. A participant in the Poetry Marathon 2016 (24 poems in 24 hours, 1 poem per hour), she has reviewed and edited poetry and fiction books. She participated in NaNoWriMo 2016 and completed her first novel in November 2016.

Welcome, Vijaya. What do you enjoy most about writing poems?
Poetry gives me freedom of expression. When I adhere to a poetry form, it gives structure to my thoughts and helps me enhance it. I love the ability to let my thoughts ride wings of freedom.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your poems – perhaps a couple of your favorites?

Painted dreams (from my second book of poems, Reflect)

It starts as a whiff
floats in imagination
conjures golden wings
soars into vast sky
dreams

Painted in bright colours
changes with mood swings
powerful to overcome obstacles
privilege of every child
faith

Free of shackles of stature
encourages heartfelt fantasy
a world built of positive dreams
inspires to combat every failure
innocence


A white dove (from my third book of poems, Explore)

She flaps her wings, seeking entry to hearts
She draws attention away from hurt’s darts

She urges to dream, as she flies amidst clouds
To explore the heights and hues, away from crowds

She calms the soul, when disappointment rages
She holds firm, like a friend, through tough stages

She smiles on joyous occasions, from behind the scenes
She takes the first step to fight hatred among enemies

She guides in the final journey of release
Unaffected by the darkness, she propagates peace


What form are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
Open Form gives me the most freedom. I learnt the Pantoum form in the Poetry Marathon 2016 last year. I love the rhythm of that form.

What type of project are you working on next?
Currently, I am writing one poem a day and submitting to anthologies. I hope to complete Poetry Marathon 2017. I am reaching out to readers about my fourth book Savour. Savour is a book of ekhprastic poetry, featuring 19 artists, 58 paintings, 73 poems in 20 poetry forms.

When did you first consider yourself a writer / poet?
I used to write in school. I participated and won many prizes in inter-school competitions. I used to send my poems to radio programs and some were read out in the shows. After that, I wrote at will, and sparsely.

I resumed writing in full swing in June 2014 and since then I have been writing at least one poem a day. I guess on November 1st, 2014, when I decided to publish my first book, I considered myself as a writer / poet. I felt I was writing well and my readers would enjoy my work. They would be able to relate to my poems and I felt an acceptance in myself for this love of writing.


How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for not-yet-published poets?
I read a lot. I strive to keep each poem different, each theme different. I try to keep the content of each book different. I ask myself “Why would a reader buy this book? What does it offer differently from the rest of my books?” I am open to ideas and I try to connect with the pulse of contemporary writers, their opinion on what the readers want and the suggestions my readers give me.
I firmly believe in the following two thoughts:
“Our inner voice guides us, we just need to listen to it.”
“Creative wings have the power to change the world.”

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I keep thinking of what to write and zone off when I have a thought in mind. That becomes embarrassing when I am in the middle of a conversation.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I was very unsure what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to do everything – be a teacher one day, an IPS officer the other day, a writer when I read books by Enid Blyton, a tennis player when I watched tennis. I just wanted to be the best at whatever I did. Life just showed its course, and I followed it.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I often hear “Poetry is dead” or “Poetry is hard.” The beauty of poetry is that it is open to the interpretation of the reader. Any art form – visual like painting, sculpture, cinema, dance, music or verbal like stories and poems has the power to touch the viewer or reader’s soul. It connects us with ourself. Each person should identify their creative interest and pursue that, rather than subduing it.

Links:

Thank you for joining me today!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Interview with writer Douglas H. Melloy

Writer Douglas H. Melloy joins me today to talk about spirituality, conscious awareness, psychology, and self help through his new book, Opening to the Realness of God: A Manual for Being Human, The Time is Now for a New Understanding.

Welcome, Douglas. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Became conscious at age five. At age ten decided to resolve anger as an issue. This took 36 years to accomplish at age 46. At age 12 knew I would be a teacher for humanity. At age 18 began meditating. Have studied four forms of martial arts. Have a black belt. Am also a world class musician. Began writing in 1980. Use to write aphorisms, then poetry, then prose. I am wine connoisseur. Have studied extensively. 9 books in print, 18 books written, 7 books in the works. I have moved 63 times and have lived in 6 states. This book is fourth density teaching for humanity. Went to college for two years, then went to a Ph.D. tutor for 3 ½ years. Am a graduate of Inner Bonding.

Please tell us about your current release.
Draws a distinction between God, what created us, what brought us to life, and what conquers, enslaves, and destroys. Also talks about positive and negative energy. Also defines what it is to be human, predatory, and arbitrary as a way of life. The book also talks about personal and social evolution. It explains personal and social ascension. Talks about the importance of doing personal work, meditating, serving others, and aspiring to ascend. Also explains why intuition, psychic abilities, and channeling are important to develop.

What inspired you to write this book?
Is part of my contract for being human. Plus people need this to prepare for fourth density.

Excerpt from Opening to the Realness of God:
When looking at the nature of the Self it is god to begin with issues and talents. Issues need to be resolved and talents developed. From here one is wise to be the love and know the light humanly and personally. There is also understanding how the will of God works consciously. Completing the mix is a working knowledge of God's All Encompassing-ness and the universe's infinity. We humanize all of these differing states of being and knowing. Further complicating the process is the preditor mindset of pain, fear, anger, and hatred that is antithetical to our true human ideal of joy, love, compassion, and kindness.


What exciting story are you working on next?
The next book is titled: Love and Wisdom the Art of Appropriateness. It is almost done.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
At age 13.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work part time for a large grocery store. I used to write 8 hours a day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can put into language any idea. Case in point: I read once an article that stated: “Beauty that cannot be defined.” Here's my definition of beauty. Beauty is love and light given representation that reflects back to us the love and light we are so that we can see it.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Fully conscious.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Life can be lived using only 8 words. They are God, life, humanness, and service coupled with oneness, healing, wholeness, and ascension. When combined equal: The oneness of God, healing of life, wholeness of humanness, and ascension of that which serves. These are the only words one needs to work with because they include everything. My writings focus on 3 things. They are knowing the Self according to its Design, serving others as the positive path, and intending to collectively ascend. Negative energy is ending as our planetary base. It is imperative people become positive as the life so lived.

Thank you for your interest in my work.

Links:

Thanks for being here today, Douglas.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Interview with YA sci-fi author Steve Bellinger

My special guest today is young adult science fiction author Steve Bellinger. He’s chatting with me about The Chronocar.

Welcome, Steve. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised on the West Side of Chicago by a single mom who worked nights for a printing company. She would bring home books and magazines to encourage us to read. This is how I discovered Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke and the other masters of classic science fiction. It didn’t take long for me to get the itch to write. Over the years I’ve written everything from newspaper articles, comic strips and radio drama to short stories and fan fiction.

One of the original Trekkies, my wife Donna and I plan to renew our wedding vows with a full Star Trek-themed ceremony; I’ll wear an admiral’s dress uniform, and she will be decked out in a custom-made leather-and-lace Klingon wedding dress.

Please tell us about The Chronocar.
Imagine being born the son of a slave with the mind of a genius. That was Simmie Johnson in the years following the Civil War. After a perilous escape from lynch mobs in Mississippi, he manages to earn a PhD in physics at Tuskegee, and in his research, discovers the secret of time travel. He develops a design for a time machine, called a Chronocar, but the technology required to make it work does not yet exist.

Fast forward a hundred and twenty-five years. A young African American Illinois Tech student in Chicago finds Dr. Johnson’s plans and builds a Chronocar. He goes back to the year 1919 to meet the doctor and his beautiful daughter, Ollie, who live in Chicago’s Black Belt, now known as Bronzeville. But, he has chosen an unfortunate time in the past and becomes involved in the bloodiest race riot in Chicago’s history.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve loved science fiction since I was a kid. I used to make my own comic books and write stories but never had the nerve to share. Then in the 70’s I experienced some success with writing and producing original radio drama, including a modern version of War of the Worlds (http://sonicsociety.org/tag/day-of-the-martians/ )

After getting a sci-fi short story published in 2012, I decided it was time to write a novel. I had been playing around with The Chronocar for a couple of years. I finally got serious and did a year of research to create a time travel story that takes place in Chicago during the Red Summer Riots in 1919. In 2015 it was picked up by Barking Rain Press. It has gotten many excellent reviews and was the August 2015 Black Science Fiction Society’s book of the month.

I have lived the dream of doing book signings at major independent bookstores, libraries and my Alma Mater, the Illinois Institute of Technology, where The Chronocar has been placed of the shelves of the library and the university’s archives.


What exciting story are you working on next?
My second novel The Edge of Perception should be out later this year. It is a sci-fi/paranormal love story that starts out with a poor African American kid in the Chicago ghetto in the 1960’s who is haunted by a curse that was put on his family a century earlier.

I am just putting the finishing touches on the third book, which will be a techno-thriller.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably the first time I saw my name in print when I wrote something for my high school newspaper. I have since written everything from articles for a small town newspaper, short stories, radio drama, Sunday school skits (used in several churches) and for three years I wrote the Junior High Sunday School text for the AME Church worldwide.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work full time as a computer support specialist. In the past I’ve been a software instructor and a web developer. My wife, a business coach, is a morning person. I am a night person. So it actually works out for me because I tend to do my best writing at night when it is quiet with no distractions.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Whenever I find myself with writer’s block, or just not motivated to work on my current project, I will sometimes write a little fan fiction. That’s where anyone can write their own stories about Star Trek, Dr. Who, Harry Potter or whatever your favorite TV, movie or book series might be. The real fun is when you do “crossovers” where you take characters from one series and put them into another. My fan fiction has actually gotten some pretty good reviews.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a very young child I wanted to be a bus driver, then a TV repairman. With the advent of the space program, I wanted to be an astronaut. Now, when I grow up, I want to be a starship captain.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I was a late bloomer. I was 65 years old when The Chronocar was published, and it is doing rather well. This should encourage older persons to remember that it is never too late to pursue your dream. And for younger people with the dream of getting published—don’t wait until you’re 65!

Links:

Thanks for being here today, Steve. All the best with your writing.