Tuesday, January 24, 2017

World of Writing - Interview

 -- World of Writing Interview --

It has been quite some time since I have had the honor of interviewing a fellow author on our blog, it is unpredictable as to what kind of queries I get for this blog... sometimes a rash of review requests come in, or article submissions, etc. And it has been a while since I've had one of these. I am most excited because I feel it is an exceptional interview due to the guest and I hope you feel the same! Feel free to connect directly with our guest, leave a comment here on this post or reach out to me. 

Jeff Rasley is a retired lawyer, adjunct professor at Butler University teaching a class on philanthropy, Himalayan trek leader, author of 9 books and over 60 magazine/journal articles.www.jeffreyrasley.com He is a board member of 5 nonprofits and has appeared as an expert guest on over 70 broadcast shows. His latest book is MONSTERS OF THE MIDWAY 1969; Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Viet Nam, Civil Rights, and Football

Q: Who inspired you to pursue a career in writing?

My mother was a journalist, columnist, and city editor of our hometown newspaper, The Goshen News. So, I spent time with reporters and editors as a child. The reporters and editors were all frustrated writers – they wanted to write books. In college I wrote bad-adolescent poetry but was on the editorial board of a literary journal. So, I learned a bit about good writing and editing. My creative writing professor was Richard Stern, who was Saul Bellow’s close friend and sometime-personal editor. He encouraged me as a fiction writer, although he described my college attempt at a memoir as “a magnificent failure”.
Q: How does writing help you make a difference in the world?

Each book I’ve written either directly addresses or circles around the theme of, and conflict between independence/freedom vs. commitment/community. I took for granted the value of community growing up in a small town. Having since lived in London, Chicago, and Indianapolis, I’ve experienced modern urban life and how difficult it is to develop and maintain communities in our transient, alienated, and virtual world. But, we are social creatures who need communal participation to thrive. But, we also need personal freedom and independence to develop a strong ego and creative self. I highly value what I have gained from adventuring out into strange places in the world and some degree of self-reliance. The tension between independence and commitment is felt most strongly in love relationships. And, what would we be without love?

Q: Can you tell us what editors typically look for in a query letter or project proposal?

My last correspondences with agents and editors seemed to be as much about “platform” in social media as the quality of writing. Other than an occasional article, I no longer seek publication by a traditional publisher. The industry has changed in a way that the advantages of direct publishing outweigh the advantages of seeking (and possibly finding) a publisher for a “mid-list author”. If I was famous, the scales would probably tip the other way, because I could demand an advance that might outweigh what I enjoy about publishing through the company my wife and I have created. But control and working at my own pace is more important to me than the potential benefits of working with a traditional publisher.


Q: What do you do when you are not writing?

I serve on the boards of 5 nonprofits; so much of my time is devoted to philanthropic endeavors. My wife and I travel a fair amount and I usually organize and lead a trekking or mountaineering expedition in Nepal each year. I regularly engage in recreational activities which combine physical fitness with enjoyment of the outdoors, like kayaking, swimming, biking, rollerblading, etc. I teach a course in the Honors program at Butler University on philosophy & philanthropy, and lead a weekly discussion class at Indianapolis Friends Meeting. Not to mention regular dining out with friends, playing in two volleyball groups, and sharing a glass of wine with Alicia on the river bank behind our house. Life is good and full, and I do not miss practicing law, which I did for 30 years.   

Q: What gave you the idea (inspiration) for this book?

This book is a work of truthy fiction or fictional memoir. It’s based on my experience of playing on a football team, which People Magazine called “the worst team in college ball”. The narrative is about the struggle of the star of University of Chicago’s football team to cope with the cultural revolution on campus, a 2-year losing streak, and a girlfriend who hates football. All of which I experienced, although I was not nearly as great an athlete as my fictional stand-in. The protagonist tries to resolve the universal conflict between independence/personal freedom and commitment/community. (What is Love?) The cast of characters is inspired by people I met during the 4 years I lived in Chicago, such as, a gay football player, mill-worker-Renaissance-scholar, Communists, racists, and Muhammad Ali. History and historical photos are sprinkled throughout the book.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced in writing your non-fiction books?

The fundamental challenge is dealing with the insecurity of whether I really have something worthy to write and is the message worthy to be read by others? Then, all the craft issues arise involved with writing, organizing, structuring, and editing to create a finished work worthy of publication.  For the books I’ve published through our family publishing company, Midsummer Books, how to create a cover that represents the theme of the book, how to describe the book, which genres/subgenres are most appropriate, and which distributors to use. Finally, how the hell to get anyone to notice it,

Q: What impact do you hope this book will have on the reader?

I started writing this book, because I wanted to re-live and enjoy some of the crazy-meaningful experiences I had at the University of Chicago. Then, I got into historical research about American football and the University, which I found very interesting. So, I wanted to create a work which delves into the issue of freedom/commitment on a very personal level, but make it an enjoyable read by setting it in wacky environment while sharing history I learned. So, I hope the reader has fun while learning some history and thinking about the tension in relationships between personal independence and commitment to others.

Monday, January 23, 2017

intellectual property for song writers

Intellectual Property for Song Writers

*Written by Tony Joett - a celebrated Tanzanian vocal coach and newspaper columnist. His "Letters From A Vocal Coach" column is published in Business Times every Friday. He also offers Tutorial Video Clips on YouTube, and recommends High Quality Vocal Improvement Products on Joett Music Blog

If you are a musician or songwriter, and you think you've got what it takes to write great songs for the international market, then it's about time you consider investing in intellectual property. This article will not only aim to expound on the term intellectual property, it will also elaborate on the three reasons why creating music is a perfectly viable business proposition in itself. And then I will tie all of that in with the advantages of learning the basics of singing to expand your musical horizons. So let's begin.

You will probably be wondering why I specifically mentioned 'international market'. The reason is pretty simple. It is for the copyright laws in place that protect your work, and performing rights societies that pay you royalties on your works. That is reason number one for you to, especially, target creating music for markets that protect your musical work and by so doing, your bread and butter. The second reason why intellectual property is key to your success in the music business--even when you do not perform your own songs--is because you get to earn residual income. 

One of the big sources of publishing revenue you'll earn as a songwriter is performance royalties. But an even bigger income stream comes from music publishing in mechanical royalties. In other words, every time a song you've written is manufactured to be sold on CD, downloaded from a digital music retail site, given radio airplay, streamed through services like Spotify, television, film and even played in bars and clubs, you are owed a mechanical royalty.

So how does all of this tie-in with the advantages of voice training for songwriters? 

Being a trained singer myself, I can tell you this for nothing: with a trained voice your ability to craft the songs you envision becomes a whole lot easier and helps bring your imagination to life in dimensions way beyond your wildest dreams. I suppose the simplest way to put this is to say, if the magic is in you and your vocal instrument is able to deliver your vision, the sky truly is the limit. An even more brilliant way to explain this is to compare an artist who can only imagine beautiful images but is unable to draw that on canvas, with one who can.

And now here's the third reason for songwriters to invest in intellectual property. Not everybody is of the ideal age or visual appearance to make it as an artist, but that doesn't mean you should give up on your dreams. Writing great songs for other artists is another, perhaps more subtle way, to a splendid income doing what you love best, creating music. I hope this article has helped shed light on what else you can do to achieve your dreams in the music business.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

quote of the day

Quote of the Day 

© BrummetMedia.ca

“There is one spectacle grander

than the sea that is the sky; 

there is one spectacle grander 

than the sky 

that is the interior of the soul.”

 ~ Victor Hugo

Saturday, January 21, 2017

recommended resources

-- Recommended Resources -- 

Theme of the day - Finance / Economy...

A new year begins and we are faced with new opportunities to make a difference with both our investments and our charitable donations... among other actions we can take. 

I'd like to start our day off with a discussion presented by Audrey Choi re: Investing in the change you want to see in our future: sustainable, community-minded, environmentally savvy policies, etc.

There are a lot of issues out there, locally and globally, that present themselves to us on any given day - yet as an individual, we find ourselves forced to make difficult decisions as to what we can get involved in. Well, the same difficult decisions are being faced by larger business officials, organization management staff and our governments as well. Here is one resource that may ease the decision making process for all of us:

Now, I found this talk quite interesting – the speaker, Bjorn Lomborg (who looks an awful lot like Chef Ramsey. …like a younger brother, don’t you think?) presents a list of the world’s greatest problems and with teams of economists and experts, they prioritize the list according to the greatest good per dollar spent. I have to say that Climate Change and Education were on my priority list, but now I see that if we tackle things like malnutrition, disease and poverty – we can do the greatest good. Most experts agree that poverty is a huge contributor to climate change. By bringing people out of poverty and illness, they become contributing global citizens and this will free up even more finances because the people in these unfortunate circumstances will no longer be draining the system. Stats show that these people will not only be paying taxes and starting businesses, they will also become more inclined to volunteer, donate and get involved in other ways. Part of poverty eradication, however, is job creation and here I think we could also address climate change in the form of “green” job opportunities.

I hope these two resources inspire exciting and challenging discussions, and help us all make more informed decisions on where we can have the most impact with what we have.