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August 7, 2015 in Author & Celebrity Interviews, Character Interviews, Friday Favorites, Tribute, Writing | Tags: Audie Murphy, Betty Dravis, Cheatham, Clint Eastwood, Clint Walker, Doster, Gene Autry, Reel World Talent, Roy Rogers, Terry G. Reed | by Betty Dravis | 2 comments
by Betty Dravis
The first movie cowboy I ever saw was Gene Autry, the singing cowboy of my youth. Then in my heyday, my all-time favorite and life-long “crush” Clint Eastwood rode into my life. And now there is Scott Eastwood, star of the blockbuster movie The Longest Ride… and Terry G. Reed.
“Who,” you might ask, “is Terry G. Reed?” Well, before I tell you a little about this Los Angeles actor–born in Ohio but spent most of his adult life in Tennessee–here is a photograph that captured my eye. If you can look past the man, don’t you just love his shirt? I wish they would bring this style back.
Terry G. Reed is a SAG-AFTRA actor who will play the role of Russell Rawlings in the coming TV series Big Sky. Rawlings is a rancher who is running for mayor. Big Sky has a huge cast with many of my Florida friends playing various roles. (I just learned yesterday that another of my California actor friends, Tia Barr, has also been added to the cast.) From all I have read and seen, Big Sky should be a big hit. Here is the link to the edited reel that helped Terry land the role: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fD69BCOnA7Y&sns=em
After seeing Terry’s demo and pictures, what do you think, ladies? He sounds and looks like a force to be reckoned with, in my opinion.
In real life, Terry is not a cowboy, but that’s how I see him and most likely will always think of him that way. However, since he plays business and bad-boy roles with equal ease, I doubt if he’ll get type-cast. But being type-cast as a cowboy is not a bad thing… On the contrary, take Clint Eastwood, for example. In addition to cowboys, Eastwood played roles from detectives to radio disc jockeys, but what image pops into your head when his name is mentioned? That’s right: a handsome, rugged, sexy cowboy!
Terry’s IMDb lists many former roles, from coroner, assassin to pro baseball scout. Just to name of few of his movie roles, Terry was a security chief in Rejourer (2011); a school principal in Truly Blessed (2009); and in In Da Cut he played the role of Kelly. He has an impressive list of TV credits, also. A few examples: The role of coroner in Howard Hughes Revealed; in The World’s Astonishing News TV Series, he played Joannie’s father in The Joannie Rochette Story; the part of Ray Kitchen in Eaten Alive; Killer Bears episode; and a security and pit boss in Las Vegas. The list goes on…
In addition to his cowboy role in TV’s Big Sky—which I am personally anticipating—Terry has two films in pre-production: Dolphin’s Song and Cowgirl Romance.
Terry is a songwriter and guitarist. In case you’d like to hear some of his music, following are links to a few of his videos. He wrote the songs in some of his videos, plays guitar on others.
One of my favorites is Grant’s Lullaby that he wrote for his son:
Terry has a good sense of humor, so it isn’t surprising that he can now laugh when recalling that for a TV role he once had to cry around twenty-three times in a two-day period. He said after that, he never wanted to cry on set again. He learned the hard way–on a shoot–that yellow jackets are attracted to fake blood.
Since Terry’s coming role in Big Sky set my mind on a cowboy “tangent,” I asked my agent at Reel World Talent LLC and several popular authors to say a few words about cowboys who stood out in their memories.
Author Mary Lou Cheatham Recalls
Saturday Afternoon Matinee Cowboys
“Back in the fifties in Taylorsville, Mississippi, my friends and I went to the Melroy Theater on Saturday afternoons to see the Westerns. I loved Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I thought about them all week. Gene Autry was a favorite too. Back then I thought all cowboys were singers.”
Author Loretta Wheeler Chose Audie Murphy
“I was asked to write a little something about my favorite cowboy. Being from Texas, of course, that didn’t seem a very difficult request. But, my take on it will probably make a few scratch their heads and say ‘Who?’ And then, ‘Why him?’
“The cowboy that sticks in my mind from way back is Audie Murphy. Here’s a short bio of him, followed by my reasons for choosing him:
“‘Audie Murphy was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II, receiving every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. At the age of nineteen, Murphy received the Medal of Honor after single-handedly holding off an entire company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945, then leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition.’
“After the war, Murphy became a popular movie star, often portraying cowboys. So, dig through Netflix and find one of his old cowboy movies, fix yourself a bowl of popcorn, and sit back and watch a man portraying all the things we hold dear in cowboys, and know that he embodied those qualities in his “real” life too.”
Author Joanna Lee Doster Chose Clint Walker
“I just discovered and have begun watching Cheyenne with Clint Walker. I love the show. He is always honorable and always seeks justice. He takes off his shirt in almost every episode. He is the strong and silent type but he always saves the day. Six feet, six inches makes him the record champion. In 1969, New York Times film critic Howard Thompson, in reviewing Walker’s performance in the movie More Dead Than Alive, described the actor as ‘a big, fine-looking chap and about as live-looking as any man could be. And there is something winning about his taciturn earnestness as an actor, although real emotion seldom breaks through.’ In 1958, Thompson described the actor, then starring in Fort Dobbs, as ‘the biggest, finest-looking Western hero ever to sag a horse, with a pair of shoulders rivaling King Kong’s.’”
Michael McGregor of Reel World Talent LLC
Likes Singing Cowboys
“My favorite Cowboy…. hmmm…. I have two actually; both cowboys who sing. The first is Kenny Lee of the great state of Tennessee, and the second is Don Allen of the Gold Coast of Australia. Kenny Lee just finished producing Don Allen’s latest CD and I had the pleasure of listening to it on Kenny’s computer while he and Don cut-up and joked around. It was a great evening of friendship and witnessing amazing talent by both Kenny and Don!”
Now, that I have, hopefully, intrigued you and gained a few more fans for Terry’s long list, why not meander on over to his Facebook page and invite him to be your friend. Also check out some of his old films to see him in action and follow him in Big Sky when it’s released. His shoulders might not be as huge as Clint Walker’s, but he’s long and lean like Clint Eastwood (or even Gary Cooper)… and he cuts a “mighty fine figure” in the role of rancher Russell Rawlings.
Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb) link:
Another film, scene from Crime Investigation role:
The Dames of Dialogue and our readers wish Terry huge success in his acting career. We love your cowboy persona. But whatever the role, as you ride off into the sunset–as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans always sang–“Happy trails to you…”
July 25, 2012 in Author & Celebrity Interviews, Character Interviews, Culture Keepers, Tribute | Tags: art, Betty Dravis, canada, Dames of Dialogue, digital portraits, New Zealand, painting, Sally Rowland, sketching, UK, Vermeer | by Betty Dravis | 34 comments
Betty Dravis: Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Sally Rowland. We are mostly about writers, but we love the other arts too. It’s a great pleasure to have you here and to share your artworks with our readers.
You’ve been a Facebook friend of mine for a while, but oddly, I got to know you better when you challenged me to the Words Game. I don’t like to brag, but I beat you nine times out of ten. (laughs) Anyway, you took it in stride and when we joked about it is when we bonded even more. Needless to say, I enjoy roaming through your Facebook albums, viewing all your art and photos.
This brings me to your first question: Sally, what were you like as a child and when did you first start sketching and realize you had artistic flair?
Sally Rowland: Hi, Betty, and thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of your Dames of Dialogue family. I must say I was surprised, but pleasantly so, to be asked to share my artwork with you all.
I’m enjoying being beaten by you in the Words game–but it’s early days! Maybe we should be playing a drawing game, too, to even things up a bit? (laughs)
Anyway, to your first question: I was born and spent the first ten years of my life in Bristol, England. I come from what is known as a “working class” family, which really means you didn’t have a lot of money. I think for many children back then, you didn’t have many “things” and had to rely on your imagination to have fun. I have fond memories of making mud pies in old cans, while we girls pretended we were cooking.
I remember loving to paint and draw as a little girl and I think I might have been about five or six when I won a prize at school for painting a clear plastic container with daffodils. Well, they were meant to be daffodils, but more likely just green and yellow blobs. (laughs) My biggest passion back then, though, was music. We were taught to read music and I played the recorder, finally moving up to the bass recorder, as I was the only one who had the finger span to play it.
My Christmas gifts were nearly always craft themed: Paint by Numbers, knitting kits, books and my favorite “Fuzzy Felt,” which was a box of cut-out felt pieces that you could attach to a board and make all your own scenes, pull off and do again and again.
My family immigrated to New Zealand not long after I turned ten and that was a huge change for us. The school system is quite different and I loved English and anything artistic. I did woodworking, metal craft, art, photography and so on. I think it was during that time I discovered my real love of drawing, so my essays and school projects were always full of pictures I’d drawn to go along with the required words. My favorite part of the art classes was actually doing a wood-block print and an etching on a slab of rubber that was then turned into a print. I still have a scar where the knife left the slab and went right over my thumb…
Betty Dravis: I have to laugh at you mentioning the Facebook game of Draw Something, Sally. I enjoy that one with my kids and a few friends. I’m such a terrible artist that I have no doubt you’d outdo me in technique, but I’m still pretty good at guessing the pictures. My drawings look like a kindergartner’s, but I’m getting pretty adept with stick figures. (laughs)
But back to your art, did you or your parents keep any of your younger works?
Sally Rowland: I’m sure my daffodils ended up in the garbage because I wasn’t really a prolific painter when younger, but I did do a wooden bird sculpture at school in New Zealand that my parents still actually have today. It’s complete with a burned beak, as I got a bit carried away when we had to use a flame to give it some color.
Betty Dravis: I bet your parents really hated to part with the daffodil art. We tend to love everything our children do…good or bad, but it seems like they made a good choice, keeping the sculpture.
What’s your favorite medium?
Sally Rowland: I would have to say oil is my favorite medium. I’m entirely self-taught in regards to painting, Betty. I never had any formal training, so using oils was a way to be able to correct mistakes before the paint dried. (laughs) I also find that oils match the way I like to paint, which is a lot of blending to get my desired color and effect. I do the same when doing pencil portraits; lots of smudging and blending going on there too.
In recent years I’ve started to dabble with digital painting and I find that I do that the same way I paint with oils–lots of layers and blending. The good thing about digital is that, of course, there’s no mess–I’m a very messy painter–no time limit on drying and if I don’t like what I just did on a layer, I simply delete it and start over. Another thing I love about digital is that you can work on one thing at a time and when you’re happy with it, you can simply merge it into the main piece of work.
Betty Dravis: Digital painting fascinates me, Sally, so thanks for sharing some of the intricacies. I’ve seen samples of all your mediums and they’re fabulous. I think my favorite oil is the one that looks like a scene from a Greek isle. The colors are so vibrant… I like to think of that painting as a “feel-good” work. It really cheers me up.
Since you didn’t mention watercolors above, we would appreciate hearing a little about that. I saw some samples of your “exercises” and if I recall correctly you said on Facebook that you were beginning to try your hand at that. How’s that project coming along?
Sally Rowland: Oh the “Greek Village” painting… You have a good eye, Betty! I love that one myself, and you’re right, it’s definitely a feel-good painting. The joy in creating it is that I got to use whatever colors I wanted for the buildings, while still trying to keep it looking somewhat “Greek.” (laughs) I’m glad it cheers you up; it certainly does it for me too. I even got that one professionally photographed and sold some prints, as well.
But on to the watercolors: I’m definitely all at sea with that particular medium. My late mother-in-law, who was one of my biggest fans, used them. Although she was pretty modest about her talent, she painted some lovely works which we have here, along with lots of paints, brushes and papers she had amassed. She inspired me to give it a try and, as you mentioned, the exercises I tried were fun, but hard. I’d still like to get into it more at some point, but I’ll definitely need to take some courses. I can remember her telling me that her teacher kept saying, “More water, Patsy… More water…” (laughs) Nevertheless, it’s a whole new way of painting that I’m looking forward to trying one day in the not-too-distant future.
At the moment, though, I’m just enjoying having a room for my art supplies…one I can make a mess in and nobody cares. (laughs) We recently–well almost a year ago now–moved to a new city and home, so we’ve been busy redecorating. The first room to be finished is, of course, my art room, so I’m just settling into that and looking forward to finally having a dedicated space in which to pursue my passion properly.
Betty Dravis: If your exercises are any indication, you’ll be great at that too, Sally. I have two favorites: the red one with the chair and table and the purple viola. It will be interesting to see how you progress in the future, but never give up your oils…
So you have been traveling around quite a bit. I bet it’s exciting to be back in Canada again. I have some dear friends there; it’s a lovely country, eh? (laughs) From the few photos I’ve seen, your new home looks very comfortable and you’re making headway in setting up your work areas. I bet you look forward to getting back in the swing with the Belleville Art Association. Tell us about your plans for the future.
Sally Rowland: Yes, I guess I’m a bit of a gypsy! (laughs) I’ve always loved to travel and experience new things, and immigrating to Canada was certainly a big move. While things don’t always work out the way you expect, it’s fun to just take what life throws at you and do the best you can. Eventually, it all works out just the way it should, although it can take a bit longer than you thought to get where you want to be.
As I mentioned, we’ve been here in Belleville for almost a year now. I had intended to join the local Arts Association straight away, but thought it would be better to get settled first and get a few things sorted out so that I could make the most of what they have to offer. With that in mind, I’m looking at joining them later this year. I’m really looking forward to meeting other local artists and learning some new things along the way.
Betty Dravis: I’m really curious about digital painting, so one more question about that, Sally. Is that accepted in the art communities as “real” art? Also, I notice that most of your digital art is of movie stars. Your portrait of Sandra Bullock is certainly lifelike. Beautiful… I admire her greatly, but my favorite digital photo is of the unforgettable and gorgeous Marilyn Monroe. Are you, like most everyone these days, fascinated with movies and the entertainment world?
Sally Rowland: Ah, the good old question: “Is digital art real art?” Personally, I say yes, it is, although I know a lot of artists who disagree. To me, it’s simply another medium. You still have to have the talent to design, draw, paint, etc. On top of that, you also have to be able to use the software to bring it all together, so I view it as just another tool to create with.
I need to purchase a proper painting software package at some stage. Currently I use a photo/paint program; it’s not the best thing, so it really challenges me. To me, the process is almost the same as painting with oils, etc.: You sketch the idea, then use that as a base to add layer upon layer of color and shape until you get the final product. I mentioned the things I like most about digital painting above, but I’d like to stress the point: the flexibility is a definite bonus.
Yes I must admit most of my digital work has been of movie stars, but to be honest, I’m not really into movies/celebrities/entertainment. Photos of stars are so abundant on-line that I found them useful for learning how to use my software. (laughs) I do love trying portraits, though, so I guess that is why there are so many. Many years ago, I recall having a book of portraits of movie stars–the black and white studio shots. I didn’t really care who they were, I just loved the actual photographs. I have to admit that I do have a few books about Marilyn Monroe, though. I found her life intriguing and very sad, rather than glamorous, despite that she was quite the beauty at the time.
Betty Dravis: Sally,I think all generations adore Marilyn; she’s a real, unforgettable legend. But, OMG, I almost forgot that you also did a digital of my very favorite: Clint Eastwood. Although that’s not one of my favorites of your works, I love all things “Clint,” as everyone knows. Since I was lucky enough to interview and get to know him a little–back in the day—I’ve never forgotten him. At the time of the interview, I didn’t realize how much larger-than-life he is, but he put me so at ease that I immediately bonded with him. I made him my mentor (from afar) and tried to shape my career after his. Fat chance! (laughs)
But getting off the subject for a minute, since art is a rather passive activity, how do you keep in shape? Do you have a favorite exercise regime or do you simply rely on healthy eating? Or could it be that your husband Pete and your three cats keep you hopping? (laughs)
Sally Rowland: Oh my, Betty! Keeping in shape! I have to admit to being a passive exerciser also… (laughs) I think the biggest thing I ever did was a 10k marathon which I loved. I also used to play on an indoor cricket team (both all-girl and mixed teams). However, over the years I’ve noticed that I can’t do a lot. I have scoliosis (curvature of the spine). It’s not too bad, but one false move and I’m in pain for days. Keeping in shape now is probably limited to gardening and healthy eating. Now that we’re out of the city and living in a less populated area, I think I’d like to get back to biking, a great way to stay in shape and also see more of the area.
Oh yes, Pete and the cats definitely keep me on my toes, as well, but that could be an entire book if I told you everything. (laughs)
Betty Dravis: Well, Sally, you certainly look fit and trim, and I’m very sorry to hear that you have scoliosis. With that in mind, you seem to have come up with the right solution for yourself: gardening and healthy eating. Sounds very sensible to me…
Perhaps you will write that book one day, with illustrations, of course, but the world will have to wait. (laughs) Now speaking of cats, I heard that there’s an interesting story about one of them that traveled back from New Zealand to Canada with you. Do you mind sharing that with our readers? The Dames love animals…
Sally Rowland: My oldest cat, Tyson, now almost thirteen, has probably racked up more air miles than some people. I got him as a kitten back in New Zealand and within months we were headed off to Canada. (I swear there are more paperwork and conditions for moving pets than people–at least there was back then…)
Then after a while we decided to go back to New Zealand, so off he went again… Loads of paper work and then quarantine back in New Zealand (more strict animal import regime). After some time there, and with my in-laws getting older and needing help, we decided to go back to Canada. By that time, we had adopted another cat from the local SPCA. Tyson took it in his stride, though, and was a real trouper.
The day we picked them up from the airport was so funny. We got a bit of a runaround, but finally got sent to the right ‘hangar.’ All we could hear was loud meowing as they were delivered to us, howling inside their cages–on a forklift! The silly thing about it all was that when we went back to New Zealand, Tyson had to be micro-chipped (NZ law). It was apparently so that he could be tracked. However, even with the government-approved micro-chip the cattery/pet shipping company that we used when we finally came back here said that they couldn’t read the chip. So much for that! (laughs)
Tyson has been through a lot for a cat; we all know how cats need routine and familiar surroundings. He’s now getting old and has had some health scares, but he is still my baby and we’ll do whatever we can to make sure he has a great “retirement.” (laughs)
Betty Dravis: Aw-www, poor Tyson, but he’s well loved, Sally… Truthfully, he has many more air miles than I do. I enjoyed your interesting stories about pets and airlines. I never realized pet transportation policies were that strict. With Tyson and the other two cats in mind, I hope you decide to stay in Canada for the duration. (laughs)
Now, if you don’t mind my asking, Sally, where do you get your inspiration for a particular painting or work? Art, like book publishing, is a tough, competitive field. Is your family supportive of your career choice?
Sally Rowland: In the last few years, Betty, I have to admit to not feeling terribly inspired. As with everyone, I suppose, life situations get in the way. I find I’m still trying to find my own niche. I often say, “I’m a jack-of-all-trades, master of none,” so in a way, I’m still on my own journey of self discovery. I’m definitely leaning more towards portraits, but as you say, like book publishing, art is also very tough and competitive, so I’m happy to take on anything…well, apart from landscapes. (laughs)
I’m very lucky to have an extremely supportive family. Painting had not been my choice of career at all, despite loving it. My career background is actually in finance, banking and tourism, of all things. Art had always been just a hobby, so I feel really blessed to be able to get involved in something I’ve always loved.
With my own family back in New Zealand and in the UK, it’s always lovely to send them photos of my art–what I’ve done or am working on–and get feedback. I remember when my parents had to have their dog put to sleep: He’d been so unwell and, although it was the right decision, it was heartbreaking. I decided to paint Mac as a puppy–when he was all healthy and vibrant–but it took my Mum quite some time before she could even open the parcel and finally get it framed.
Betty Dravis: It’s heartening to know that your family has been supportive of you, whether in tourism or art, Sally.That means a lot to anyone and often makes the difference between success and failure.
Speaking of support, Sally, do you have a favorite artist? If so, tell us about him or her…
Sally Rowland: Gosh, Betty, it’s hard to say I have one favorite artist. I love so many styles. It’s like I love ice-cream but all the flavors are delicious… (laughs) But when I think about it, my top artist would have to be Modigliani. We went to an exhibition of his art back in 2005 in Toronto. I was just totally blown away seeing them in the flesh, after only ever seeing them on-line or in a book. They were huge…vibrant…and up close you could see his brush work and the lines from his original sketch on the canvas. Awesome…
Needless to say I could never afford his work, so I decided to paint my own. I’m also a huge fan of Rosina Wachtmeister; her cat paintings are wonderful, as are her other works. I admire Vermeer for his use of light… Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, Klimt, Beryl Cook …ad infinitum I’m afraid. (laughs)
Betty Dravis: I anticipated such an answer, Sally. When I ask authors about their favorite author, they almost always have a long list. (laughs)
With those choices in mind, it will be interesting to see how you answer this question: If you could spend a day with just one person (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Sally Rowland: Well, Betty, I’ve been doing a lot of family research over the years and hit a huge road block with my own great-grandfather on my father’s side. He’s not famous, but he’s elusive and I can’t find anything much about who he really was, or his family, so I’d have to say it would be him.
I’d like to sit down with him for one day, notebook in hand, and ask him thousands of questions about his life and our family history. The most we know about him is that he was a musician in the Army back in the 1800s and spent over a decade in India and perhaps other countries; beyond that there is nothing. He’s a mystery and I love mystery…
Betty Dravis: That’s a very human choice, Sally. It’s too bad that so much of our personal family history gets lost because we’re too busy to ask our parents when we’re young, not becoming interested until it’s too late.
Sally, when you’re actively working, what’s a typical day like for you? Do you have any habits or established routines that work best for fulfilling your daily commitments?
Sally Rowland: I mentioned earlier that I’m a messy painter. For me, I just get absorbed in what I’m doing. I prefer to listen to music, which depends on what exactly it is I’m working on. I throw on my old clothes because I just know I’m going to get paint everywhere. (laughs) There is never a set routine; I just like to go with the flow.
Betty Dravis: Sally, I hear you loud and clear! That’s so typical of artistic types. I get so absorbed in my writing, I often forget to eat or even get out of my jammies. (laughs)
Which painting turned out to be your biggest challenge? Do you have a personal favorite?
Sally Rowland: Well, Betty, my biggest challenge–and it was actually a challenge on an art forum–was painting The Girl with the Pearl Earring. I had never attempted to reproduce or paint from a master, so I thought I should give it a go. Even to this day, I really don’t know how I did it. I just got lost in the process and loved it. It’s still my personal favorite. I gave it to my mother-in-law as a gift, and now, since she passed away, it’s back with me. That gives it a personal touch and some lovely memories too.
Betty Dravis: Oh, I love that one, too. I had forgotten about it, but when selecting the Greek painting over The Girl with the Pearl Earring, I did so mainly for the cheerfulness of the painting, not for quality. I must say, the latter is absolutely phenomenal work, even if you did copy a master. Your rendition is brilliant, Sally.
Now for your next question, what advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Sally Rowland: From where I am now–at this later time in life—I would tell them to embrace their passion. Take as many classes as you can to help you, but don’t ever let that interfere with what you love to do. I hate that phrase “think outside the box”; I’d prefer to hear, “There is no box.” While I sometimes wish I had taken notice of what I loved to do, I realize there is a reason your journey takes you where you need to go first. Just keep that passion going…
Betty Dravis: That’s great advice, Sally. I never thought of it exactly like that; it’s thought provoking. I do agree about the passion; that makes the difference between winning and losing.
What is your most cherished memory of a viewer reaction to your work?
Sally Rowland: For me, every reaction is important, be it good or bad. One painting I sold started out as a really silly thing. I looked at it and went “arrghh,” so I turned it into a seascape. All in blue: clouds, sky, boat… All of it! When I posted the changed painting, someone wanted to buy it. They loved it–and that made me very happy.
Betty Dravis: Since blue is my favorite color, that sounds like “eye candy” to me. I’d like to see that one sometime. I think it may be on your lovely videotape (link below).
But now for a fun question! I waited till near the end to put you on the spot, but do you mind sharing the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you in connection with your artistic works?
Sally Rowland: Oh, this question took me all of two seconds to answer, Betty. (laughs) It has to be when I took part in another on-line art challenge. One of the pieces you could do was a Frans Hals. I loved it, so thought, “Yes, why not?” I thought not only could I paint, I could also have a go at using a palette knife. So off I went… But I couldn’t figure out why the paint was soaking into the canvas I was using. I was almost halfway through before I felt like running from the room screaming because I’d actually painted on the wrong side of the canvas! I did finish it, still have it, and it’s a reminder that sometimes mistakes are worth keeping.
Betty Dravis: Oh-hahaha, Sally. That is funny. I’m glad you treasure the work now, though…mistake or not! You certainly have a fun, exciting life…
Now before leaving, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that you also design CD covers. Please share about the ones you’ve created.
Sally Rowland: Oh yes, the CD covers… I’ve really loved this aspect of my art. I found Guitarra Azul, a Chicago-based band, through MySpace about four or five years ago and loved their music. I was lucky enough to be asked by Steve Edwards to paint something for their second CD. I love their music, so was really happy to do it. My first one was for Oasis; an 18×18 oil painting on which I had to actually change the title on the canvas itself. (McGuyver skills coming into play here.) Then in late 2011, I started work on a digital painting for their latest release Lotus Flower. I’m very happy for my art work to be a part of such wonderful music.
More recently I have designed and digitally painted a cover for Simon Allan in the UK for his upcoming EP release Demons and Dreams. We’re working together for another release later this year, also. It’s very exciting for me, and I hope, for them as well.
Betty Dravis: Since you love music, it’s very appropriate that your work be on CD covers, Sally. I’ve seen all three covers and while I love them all, I’m captivated by the Demons and Dreams cover. Probably because my latest book, Six-Pack of Blood, is a horror anthology (co-authored with the very gifted writer Barbara Watkins) and I spent some time with the cover artist. I can picture that particular painting on the cover of a horror book. (laughs)
I also understand that one of your works is scheduled to be in a book. Please share that with us.
Sally Rowland: I guess this is where fun meets something wonderful, Betty. My friend Brian Bohnett, who is an author and also a graphic artist, has been working on a biography for many years now. Brian has done an amazing job on his biography The Remarkable Enid Markey: First Lady of the Tarzan Films. This will be an eye-opener because most people would recognize the men who played “Tarzan,” but not many would know the “Janes.”
While Brian was sharing his journey, he sent me some lovely photos; one caught my eye, so I decided to try painting it digitally. It was all in fun, but I am happy to say he has included it as a frontispiece to his biography, and it’s also part of a set of cards to go along with the book. The book is being released at a convention in California this coming August. I am so excited for him and proud to be involved, even if in only a small way.
Betty Dravis: That sounds like a fascinating book, Sally. This is a coincidence, but I have a Tarzan tie-in: In my 1106 Grand Boulevard novel, I tell the story of my aunt’s first husband being Franky Johnston, the swimming coach who taught Johnny Weissmuller to swim for his role as Tarzan. Small world…and the Internet has made it even smaller. (laughs)
It sounds like you have some great projects coming your way. Since we’re almost finished, now’s the time to mention any other plans you might have.
Sally Rowland: Well, Betty, after I settle into the art community, as mentioned above, I’ve also got plans to get my own website up and running so that I can start selling my work, be it paintings, prints or digital. I like to think of myself as a bit of a late bloomer in the art world. I know how competitive it is, so I know that to be successful I’ll have to have a good business plan. That all takes time and is something I’ll be working on this year also.
Before closing, I’d like to tell our readers that they can find more of your artwork in the photos on Facebook, and the YouTube video has a vast array of your works. I love the way it’s presented in sections. All your works are great, but the pencil sketches amaze me too. We didn’t get around to discussing the sketches, but an example is to the right. It all starts with an artist’s ability to sketch, so the fine examples on the video are important. The links follow and readers should keep in mind that the contact info at end of the YouTube is outdated. Sally will share that with us when she gets completely relocated.
Thanks for being with us today, Sally, It’s been a pleasure getting to know more about you and to view your stunning art. We look forward to your website so we can check into buying some of your art. Until next time, please keep in touch and send your website link so I can put it out on the social media.
Sally Rowland: Thank you, Betty, for allowing me to be a part of your world. It’s always a pleasure to join with other artistic people. I know you showcase many successful people, so as a still-emerging artist, I truly appreciate that you took an interest in me. And you’ll be the first I inform when my website is up and running. Thanks again, for having me on Dames of Dialogue.
June 1, 2011 in Author & Celebrity Interviews, Character Interviews, Escape to where? | Tags: Asha Adventures, children's book, culture, grandma, grandpa, Malaysia, Marina Mustafa, travel | by maggiebishop | 5 comments
Firstly, as a first time writer, I am truly honored with this interview opportunity. I also never thought surrounding myself with such talented writers of the High Country Writers can be such a wonderful and educating experience.
This book is about little Asha and her parents during their trip to the beautiful tropical country of Malaysia to visit her grandma and grandpa. Through its colorful illustrations and the stories behind it, this book will expose little readers, and their parents, to the kind of adventures and experiences they will have when visiting another country with different culture. The friendly people, the delicious food and mouthwatering fruits, the colorful clothing, the warm sunny beaches and the festivals are all worth exploring.
2. Why did you write this book?
The idea came after coming home from a vacation to my homeland of Malaysia. I come from a country that has a strong multi-ethnic, muti-cultural and multi-lingual society. Raised in such environment, I grew up to be someone that respects, acknowledges and most important understands the different values, customs and beliefs practiced by many Malaysians. Because of this, I would like my daughter, Asha, as well as the children that she shall be associating with, to develop such sensitivities to everybody around them, especially everybody that are so different from them. Realizing that children learn about other cultures and people through books, the internet, media sources and even from the school, Little Asha’s Adventures was written to educate young readers, and their parents as well, about the people and the cultures of countries so different from America. If Euro-American children find only people like themselves represented in literature, they could easily get the impression that they are somehow better or more worthy as a group than others. They need to learn that they can always learn something new and different from other group of children.
I strongly believed that by exposing children to people of different cultures, they will be better prepared to function in this diverse global society that they live in. I am a product of such exposure.
Some of the pictures illustrated were based on actually events that Asha witnessed and some were events that I experienced myself as a child. Interestingly, many of the things told in the book still remain the same until today. For example, the way the lion dance festival and the wedding celebrations were conducted remain unchanged until today.
4. Where do you write?
I started writing the book early last year, when I was going through my breast cancer surgeries and treatments. My parents were here assisting and helping me during that time (they were here for almost five months) and having them around, it helped me to reserve some time for myself to do my writings and drawings. But my favorite time to do my work was at night after 10p.m, when my daughter is asleep. For 4-5 months, I would stay up until 2.00-3.00p.m. in the morning sketching my drawings. My favorite place is sitting on the couch with my sketching book and my drawing materials watching Late Night Shows. It makes me think better! You just do not know how many sketches that were discard before finally deciding with the right illustrations.
5. What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?
I think I underestimated the difficulty of writing a children’s book and I am sure many people out there feels the same. Firstly, using and choosing the correct and proper words fitted for a child ages between 6-12 years old can be very difficult. You must put yourself in the shoes of these children to understand their thinking and their minds. Then, there is the issue of selecting the right pictures and the choices of colors.
Normally, when finding a children’s book, what attracts readers at first glance are the illustrations. Other than parents, our most important target audience are the children. With striking illustrations , a children’s book would be even more interesting.
It is something like an adult telling us about his/her vacation to a particular destination. By showing us photos of the vacation, we can understand and grasp their explanations better.
6. Why did you pick a journal format?
A journal format reflects a self story of a person. It is like a diary that the child would like to share personally with other children. It eases a child’s understanding of the Little Asha’s experiences.
7. What advice do you have for first time authors?
Do not be afraid to write something that is very close to your heart. As far as publishing and marketing your book, talk and get advice from as many established writers as you can. When going through my cancer diagnosis, I learnt that sharing information is of utmost important. Writing goes the same way too. You will always learn new and informative information from other writers, even writers that are writing genres different from you.
Often described as “Asia In Miniature”, Malaysia acknowledge and celebrates quite a number of religious holidays and festivities throughout the year. Located in Southeast Asia, Malaysia is located between Thailand and Singapore. On the map, you will find Australia and New Zealand located underneath Malaysia. Flying to Malaysia from America would take a total of between 20-28 hours, depending on the airlines you are taking and the route you are going through. There are three major languages spoken in Malaysia. The national language is called Malay, and then there are the Indian and the Chinese languages. The Chinese population in Malaysian mostly speaks Cantonese. Most Chinese in China however speaks Mandarin.
Last year, Martha Stewart visited Malaysian and I think her visit to Malaysia was even featured in her television show.
The most impressive thing about my country? That has to be the food! The nearest place for you to sample a true Malaysian delicacy is in Charlotte at a restaurant called Cuisine Malaya.
9. What surprised you about your new home in the United States?
Well, I am actually not new to America. The first time I came to America was in 1992, when I was sent by my Government to pursue my degree in Economics at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. I was there for five years. In fact, I have travelled to more than 20 states in America during my student years. I even went back to Kansas City in 2007 and some things still remain the same there!
10. How did you meet your husband? — we love a romance.
Have you ever seen the movie The Terminal, with Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta Jones? Of course I do not look like the beautiful Zeta Jones but my husband was most certainly better looking than Tom Hanks! Well, I met Brad, my hubby, at the terminal at Newark Airport. I was waiting for my flight to go back home to Malaysia (I was on a business trip in the States and my flight was delayed) and Brad was waiting for his flight to Charlotte. I was bored but was in the mood for conversation. Then, I saw him, siting next to me. Well, I am very proud to say I started the conversation first and the rest was just history!
My favorite all time book has always been Jane Eyre. I thought I would find my Mr. Rochester somewhere in England. But I guess I found him in America!
11. What’s your favorite Malaysian saying?
My most common used Malaysian phrase is “sayang”, which means honey/baby/sweetheart/darling. I used that to both my hubby and my daughter!
12. Is there another book in the works? Tell us about it.
The main reason I wrote a book about Asha’s experiences in Malaysia was because her mother is a Malaysian. For her to respect me as her mom, she must also understand and respect my ethnic background and my heritage.
Brad’s family was originally from Dundee in Scotland. I too, would like Asha to meet and understand the Scottish culture. We are planning a trip soon to Scotland and that would be my second book, Asah”s Adventure: A Girl’s Journal of Scotland. In Dec this year, we are planning to go back to Malaysia again for vacation and since Bali island is just an hour by flight from Malaysia, I would like to take Brad and Asha to Bali as well. Hopefully, that would be my third book, about Asha’s trip to Bali.
To understand the culture and lifestyles of other group of people, a child must first learn that at home.
The best place to purchase the book is at www.authorhouse.com because they have the latest edition of my book.
You can also visit my website at www.ashaadventures.com
If you are interested to know more about Malaysia, please visit my blog at www.visitmalaysia.blogspot.com
Thank you Maggie for this opportunity!
What a Fun Way to Announce My Latest Books, Including “DREAM REACHERS II” (co-author Chase Von) – by Betty Dravis
May 23, 2011 in Author Speak, Books by the Dames, Character Interviews, Writing | Tags: 1106 Grand Boulevard, A Home for Christmas, Astra, authors, Betty Dravis, C. Robert Lee, Canterbury House Publishing, Champagne Books, Chase Von, Chris Platt, Circles of Destiny, Dames of Dialogue, Dawn Huffaker, Deborah Grace Staley, Dream Reachers, Dream Reachers II, editing, Flights of Fancy, Flower Escapes, Grundish and Askew, Imajin Books, Irish Twins, It's Nor Your Mother's Bridge Club, Lance Carbuncle, Laurel-Rain Snow, Linda Rettstatt, Love Sam, Michele Van Ort Cozzens, Miles to Go, Moon Shadow, new books, new publications, Next Time I'm Gonna Dance, Only You, Peachtree Publishing, Peru of 1968, poet, poetry, Rent to Own, Shooting into the Sun, Storm Chaser, The Other Face of God, The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley, Web of Tyranny, Wendy Dingwall, What the Heart Wants, Willow King, Writing | by Betty Dravis | 11 comments
by Betty Dravis
So by way of celebrating the release of my latest book and to tell you about two more to follow, I decided to write this blog and invite some of my favorite authors to answer a fun question, thus giving them some good PRESS also.
I’m also introducing a new author, C. Robert Lee, a high-school friend whose first book will soon be published. (YES, people of our generation are still active and productive, so knock off those snide remarks, please…) After you read about my latest books and go purchase Dream Reachers II on Amazon.com or BN.com, then and only then can you finish reading this blog. 🙂
DREAM REACHERS II is second in a series of celebrity interview books wherein my co-author Chase Von and I interview high-achievers who work hard to make their dreams come true. Some are celebs, like Bryant McGill, founder of the Good Will Peace Treaty & famous author/radio host; actress Katherin Kovin Pacino (Al’s Step-mother); Actor/Director Tony Tarantino (Quentin’s father); Hollie “Hot Stuff” Dunaway, four times world female boxing champio; SOP and American Perspective Founder Judyth Piazza, etc. And some are average people like you and me. This book has been two years in the making, following the publication of the first Dream Reachers. It can be purchased on any online bookstore, but here’s the most popular link: http://tinyurl.com/3gdw4gz
Published by Von Chase Publishing Company of Southern California.
(We all adore the photo of the beautiful actress and pop star Darcy Donavan on the cover of the first Dream Reachers, but are elated with the cover on DRII. It’s adorned by a rare, special photo of the gracious, talented actress Katherin Kovin Pacino. The cover has a special story behind it and deserves a blog of its own…which I promise to write in the near future.) You will see what I mean in the montage below:
TWO MORE BOOKS COMING SOON: Another dream of mine is being fulfilled by a two-book contract with Canterbury House Publishing who is re-releasing my most popular out-of-print books… I’ve desired to bring back 1106 GRAND BOULEVARD and THE TOONIES INVADE SILICON VALLEY in the innovative e-Book format, so am pleased that Wendy Dingwall of Canterbury House took an interest in me. When she told me she was going to “take Toonies to the moon” she blew me away… I expect her to keep her word because I’m ready for some heady adventures. 🙂
Following is a montage of the covers of the new e-Books and the two DR books (my latest works). When I signed up with Canterbury I had no idea they would work so fast and that the release of the e-Books would come so close to the release of DRII… Double PR work, but with the help of my friends and readers, like you, the word will spread. I am impressed with the covers on all these books, aren’t you? 🙂
OK, and now that you have ordered MY books, I welcome you back so you can check out my guests and order their creative books. There is something here for all literary tastes: YA, Romance, Mystery, Humor, Dark Humor, Fantasy, Adventure, etc. – Betty Dravis – http://www.bettydravis.com
Chris Platt, Author of Willow King, RWA Golden Heart Award Winner
I’m Chris Platt and I write horse books for the eight-to-thirteen-year-old crowd. My fifteenth book just came out this past September, but the character that I liked best came out of my second book, Race The Wind, and she wasn’t even a main character. RTW was a sequel to my first book, Willow King, and I was looking to add a new character to the ones already established in the first book. The character of Camela, a little blind girl, kept popping into my head.
I kept tossing the idea out because it would be really tough to be around horses and stay safe if you couldn’t see. But the idea wouldn’t go away, so I put the little girl in the book and had a great time writing that character. Even though she was blind, she had excellent hearing and a good sense of place and distance. When there were people she didn’t like, she’d trip them with her cane, then stand around and look all innocent. She also spouted old Irish sayings that she got from her grandpa. I need to write another character like that; she was a lot of fun and very courageous.
Chris Platt – RWA Golden Heart Winner – http://tinyurl.com/3uz3qmx
Author Michele Van Ort Cozzens Has an Easy Choice
My favorite character is Anne Shields from the novel Irish Twins—although I must pause and reflect on whether or not I can claim full responsibility for “creating” her. Anne, an eighty-year-old woman who dies while water-skiing and then narrates this family saga from the afterlife, has a rather provocative opening line:
“I have a little God in me,” she claims.
Granted, I created that line for her—and no matter how many workshop critics didn’t approve of it—I kept it for good reasons. There were powerful forces of imagination at work as I told the story of her life; however, Anne Shields was based on the true character of my mother, who did indeed die back in 1999 while water-skiing. Since my mother didn’t share much about her life with me, or any of her children, I elected to use the few things I did know to tell the story called Irish Twins, and made up the rest. Because her character was developed with love and respect, she materialized on the pages in a manner that made her not only loveable to me—which encouraged me to continue writing—but also to my readers.
When initially work-shopping the material that would become Irish Twins, I had used multiple voices. Anne was first, but I also used her sister—her Irish Twin Molly—who greets her in the afterlife, and the voices of Anne’s children—her own Irish Twins, Jenny and Caylie. Anytime I posted a chapter that wasn’t narrated by Anne, a wave of protests ensued. Readers, without question, wanted MORE ANNE!
Even though the story begins with Anne’s death, she is the driving force and heart and soul of this tale. Having her voice in my head as I wrote kept my actual mother alive for me, and it helped me to appreciate her life and her choices in ways I never anticipated. I also didn’t anticipate the incredible loss I felt once I finished writing the story. For a brief time, it was like losing her all over again.
I truly believe that because of Anne Shields and my mom—twins in my mind—Irish Twins is the best thing I’ve ever written.
Michele Van Ort Cozzens – http://tinyurl.com/3fv4ysk
Author Lance Carbuncle Has a Tough Choice
It’s a funny thing trying to come up with a good answer to the question: “Who is the favorite character you ever created?” It’s kind of like trying to decide which one of your children you love most. It is an unfair question and, for me, one that’s impossible to answer. I’ve created many characters (and many children) and I love each and every one of them in different ways and for different reasons. But, I would have to say that currently, I am quite proud of the titular characters of Grundish and Askew. I can’t say that I like one more than the other. They complete each other and come together as a single unit (much like one can consider a married couple as one person). Considered individually, each character would come off as slovenly, immoral, corrupt, contemptible, violent and scary. They are the kind of guys that you would give a wide berth on the street. But together they bring out each other’s humanity and even become (hopefully) loveable in some twisted way.
I found my inspiration for Grundish and Askew in the Elvis-obsessed Japanese lovers in Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train. At this point, I cannot even remember much about the movie or the couple. But I do know that I loved the interaction between them. Something about the way that they argued, but clearly still cared about each other, gave me the starting point that I wanted for Grundish and Askew. I wanted them to argue about things constantly. I wanted them to get on each other’s nerves. And, in the end, I wanted them to be the most important things in each other’s lives. Those two white-trash, bottom-of-the-barrel losers had nothing. They lived in a trailer park amidst a swarm of convicted sex offenders. In Grundish’s case, he repeatedly found himself incarcerated. Those boys couldn’t keep jobs or girls or even self-respect. But together, they found something meaningful. They found true friendship of a quality that many will never be lucky enough to experience.
I loved the challenge of taking two detestable bums and digging deep to try to make my readers feel a connection to them. Yes, Grundish and Askew burglarize houses. They’re dirty and probably smelly. Grundish abuses substances and sleeps with his probation officer to avoid being thrown back in prison. Askew becomes an out-of-control psychotic – he kills and maims people. These are guys on an absurd crime spree. But through it all they stick together. They have each other’s backs. They are family. And, somehow, despite the fact that they should be thoroughly unlikable, I think my readers want to see Grundish and Askew come out on top at the end of the book. And that, for me, was the joy of creating the characters of Grundish and Askew – taking those two good-for-nothings and somehow crafting them to be endearing characters.
Lance Carbuncle – http://tinyurl.com/3e5ocnl
Deborah Grace Staley: on Miss Estelee of the Angel Ridge Series
I write a series called the Angel Ridge Novels in which three of six have been published by Bell Bridge Books. Book One was Only You (May 2009), Book Two was A Home for Christmas (December 2009), and Book Three was What the Heart Wants (September 2010). Book Four will be out later this year.
Angel Ridge is a small southern town in East Tennessee filled with a cast of, shall we say, “unique” characters that readers get to visit each time they read one of the novels; that’s the series part. Each novel also features a different sweet romance.
I think my favorite character in Angel Ridge has to be Miss Estelee. She’s the town’s oldest resident. In fact, she’s so old, no one knows how old she is. No one knows her last name either. She lives in the oldest house in the town proper. The streets are lined with hundred-year-old Victorians, but her house doesn’t have all the fancy architectural details of a Victorian, save the gingerbread trim, which has angel’s wings in it.
Legend has it that an angel appeared to the first settlers in Angel Ridge and saved them from an Indian attack. In appreciation, the settlers named the town Angel Ridge (see the short story that appears at the end of Only You). Miss Estelee has a particular attachment to the focal component of the Town Square: a bronze statue of a warrior angel standing sentinel on a brick pedestal. She sees that flowers are planted around him in the spring and fall. She also says he reminds her of her only love, yet she never married.
Miss Estelee turns up at odd times in the novels, as if she knows in advance where she’s needed. She’s full of folksy wisdom for the town’s residents, particularly in matters of the heart. There were women in Southern Appalachian history known as “granny women.” These women just knew things, like what sex a baby would be, when someone was coming, how to heal common ailments, and when something bad was about to happen. Some people from outside these mountain communities called these women witches. Having come from a long line of these women, I say they were full of common sense, practical knowledge and were more than a little clairvoyant.
Another oddity about Miss Estelee is that when she’s around, nothing bad seems to happen. But when she’s gone, like the time she disappeared in the middle of What the Heart Wants, trouble abounds in Angel Ridge. Readers have speculated that Miss Estelee is an angel. When asked to confirm or deny, I can only say, “What do you think?” Truth is, I don’t think I’ll know myself until I write the last word of Book Six.
For more information on the Angel Ridge Series, see http://www.deborahgracestaley.com and http://www.bellbridgebooks.com. Books may be purchased at http://www.amazon.com. For a chance to win an autographed book, “like” Deborah Grace Staley’s Fan Page on Facebook.
Deborah Grace Staley – http://tinyurl.com/5vve2xj
Poet Dawn Huffaker Selects Her Favorite Poet
What poet do I admire, and why? Well, as a teenager, my first love was Robert Frost. His poems would draw me in and totally captivate me. The nature poems were my favorite. I felt as if I was there with him and could see the poetic scene of deep snow or falling leaves.
As I compared our writing styles, I noticed that they were very similar. The poems were:
1. about nature or country life
2. in blank or free verse form
3. with a “bigger picture” message as a poem’s basis
4. inspirational and meaningful
There was a poster in my bedroom. It had a light green frame around a forest of trees. At the bottom was written the last few lines of A Road Not Taken. They were:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
When I saw those words for the first time, they gave me chills. They were words to live by. I decided to use them as my philosophy.
Time moved on. High school came and went. College flew by. Then, I had to make a decision for a job. At that time, working with computers was a more stable income than trying to publish poetry. I founded a local computer store. Kept it running for seventeen years. After a lengthy illness, the business was closed in the spring of 2007.
As a hobby, I have returned to writing. Still not completely well, but I have progressed quite a ways. I compose poetry and short stories while looking out into the forest from my window. It is a very peaceful and inspiring place to be.
Robert Frost encouraged me to see the beauty all around me. And, after my business closed, I came back to the two roads in his forest and I’ve chosen the road less traveled again. I thank him for both of these.
In closing, I’d like to share one of my poems.
Night Made Day
Night made day
By moon on snow.
Sleeping trees whisper
In their dreams.
Biting air keeps the animals
In their burrows.
Branch shadows glide across snow
I look out with wonder
At the scene before me.
Magical it has become
After the mighty storm.
Nothing is as it was, and
The world is weighted down.
Only the wind can come and go
As it pleases.
What a blessing it is
To live in my mountain home!
God’s handiwork is so close
I can touch it with my own hands.
Indeed, I am made rich with the bounty
That is set right before me.
Nothing man-made can compare
With His Masterpiece.
2011 © Dawn L. Huffaker
All rights reserved.
I’ve self-published two books. One is a collection of poems that were written over twenty-five years. The title is Flights of Fancy (Volume 1). The next book is a collaboration with a floral photographer, Michele Duncan, where I wrote a poem for each of her wonderful photos. The title for this one is Flower Escapes (Book 1). The poems are about God’s garden. They give an inspirational boost to people who need a little TLC. Both are at Amazon and Lulu.
Dawn Huffaker – http://tinyurl.com/3vbmonk
Author Laurel Rain Snow’s Characters Are Her Friends
My characters feel like they are my friends, especially the ones who show up again and again, like Rainbow Luft. We meet her in Miles to Go, at a point in her life when the secrets of her past are beginning to surface. We see her again in Web of Tyranny, in “prequel” moments that showcase her time during the 1960s.
When she first appears on the canvas in MTG, she is an artist who supports herself after the end of her marriage by working in restaurants, and then later takes a job in an art gallery.
In the early 1970s, she is still clinging to the freewheeling “hippie” lifestyle, and, as someone once described her, she looks like a “moving sculpture” with colorful layers draped over her body. Her frizzy hair stands out like an aura around her slightly moon-shaped face. But her ebullient energy, combined with a peaceful demeanor, draw others to her.
She first meets Lindsay Malone and Gia Greenbaum in a consciousness-raising group in midtown Sacramento. To the others in the group, she is like a leader. She seems to have incorporated all the feminist teachings and epitomizes everything about freedom and independence that the others only dream of espousing.
But beneath that serene exterior lie the secrets of the past that haunt her. What happened to Rainbow in her turbulent teens that led her to a commune in the sixties? And what deeply buried pain continues to daunt her days, even as she pursues her art? Who will finally unlock the key to the previous versions of Rainbow and lead her into a happier life? And then, when she finally believes that the past has been dealt with, what betrayals will catapult her backwards into pain and despair?
Laurel Rain Snow – http://tinyurl.com/5srynrn
Circles of Destiny Author C. Robert Lee Chooses Professor Danny Barcea
This blog is about a character from Book One of the trilogy, Circles of Destiny, titled The Other Face of God. The story is set in the Peru of 1968. This book will be published by Imajin books and be available as an e-book around July 1, 2011.
Professor of anthropology, Danny Barcea, PhD, finds a way to non-violently free 2,567 feudal serfs whose ancestors have been attached by law to a forty-thousand acre fundo for four hundred years. He helps them gain title to the fundo and teaches them how to compete in a twentieth-century marketplace.
By 1955, the professor’s teachings and actions shame the Peruvian legislature into passing an emancipation law that goes widely unenforced . By 1968, two percent of the population owns ninety-eight percent of all arable land. Oligarchic large land owners are frightened and infuriated by a new president sympathetic to land reform. The lords of the fundos back a dictator-in-the-making to assassinate the president and to establish a secret policy of genocide to stop the outcries for land reform generated by the professor’s ideas and actions.
The professor’s assassination is made to look like an accident on a mountain road between his car and a bus in which forty-eight people die fiery deaths. The blueprint of his work in the form of an autobiographical manuscript is hidden deep underground in a secret vault known only to his son and daughter who are now marked for death by the dictator. On his last night alive, Danny Barcea shares secrets with Father Ryan that he would never share with a family member. The professor’s work becomes the seminal reality that subsequently results in land reform without civil war.
His spirit of sacrifice and generosity resonates throughout the trilogy. The name of the corporation he forms on behalf of the Indian owners is an ancient Quechan word, Achirana, that means: That Which Is Clean Flowing Into That Which Is Beautiful.
Excerpt from The Other Face of God:
Epitaph on professor Danny Barcea’s gravestone.
HE GAVE LAND REFORM A HEART AND POURED HIS OWN BLOOD INTO IT
Loud applause greeted President Ricardo Soriano’s arrival on stage at Danny’s Wake. He began, “Most of you don’t know that Danny Barcea was my best friend. We both enrolled at Cornell University the same year, Danny in Anthropology, me in Architecture. He was best man at my wedding.
“We had a lot of disagreements as young men often do who are trying to set a course for their lives. The question Danny always asked himself was ‘Does this action help without hurting?’ One of his eternal verities that went on to include ‘Does this act contain any seeds of self deception that in time will grow into a choking vine of self destruction? If so, it will also hurt others as well and should be avoided at all costs.’
“Almost every day of my life I have awakened with Danny’s question. Finding an answer to the question has saved me from making many mistakes. His legacy of love for the disenfranchised will last forever.”
ENDNOTE: Bob’s new website is under construction and I’ll share the link when he launches it and his first book. Best of luck, my friend.
Author Linda Rettstatt Invites Readers to Meet Photographer Rylee Morgan
My favorite character is photographer Rylee Morgan in Shooting Into the Sun. When I began to develop this story (no pun intended), I started with the title and mindful of one of the cardinal rules of outdoor photography: Never shoot into the sun. The story unfolded from the ‘what if’ question: What if a young female nature photographer worked according to the rules of her trade and lived her life in much the same manner—within the bounds of the rules? What I love about Rylee Morgan is that she is eventually willing to admit, at least to herself, that the rules keep life orderly, but also keep her lonely.
I needed a character who was strong and who had been shaped by events in her past that had a negative impact on her and skewed her view of life. And to highlight Rylee’s strengths and challenge her character flaws, I created Lexie—her younger sister and polar opposite. Many readers have been drawn to Lexie and asked about a sequel telling her story. Well, we’ll see about that.
Rylee is both complex and transparent all at once. She’s not that good at disguising her emotions or her motives. Her list of rules mostly consists of the things one does not do, leading Lexie to ask Rylee if she even has a ‘do’ list. The rules are what give Rylee’s life order and safety. But I admire her willingness to finally take chances when she comes to terms with the fact that those things that create safe boundaries to keep the bad out are the very same things that keep her locked inside. It’s not easy for Rylee to admit she’s wrong or to let her guard down. But a cross-country trip with Lexie and the hitchhiker, Josh, whom Lexie invites to join them, stretches Rylee’s rule book to the limit.
Rylee’s transformation is not without cost, soul-searching and a lot of emotional turmoil. But she dares to delve into the depths of her own fear and anger to find freedom and happiness.
I like to think that Rylee is a composite of women I’ve known. But my friends who have read Shooting Into the Sun tell me Rylee has a lot of my qualities, characteristics and stubbornness. Okay, so maybe they’re right—just a little bit. And perhaps that’s why, of all the characters I’ve come to know, Rylee holds a special place in my heart. That and the fact that as a former psychotherapist, I love to see someone plumb the depths of their inner fears and past hurts and come out whole. Who doesn’t love a happy ending?
Linda Rettstatt – http://www.lindarettstatt.com
2010 Author of the Year – Champagne Books
September 9, 2010 in Author & Celebrity Interviews, Character Interviews, Tribute, Writing | Tags: Betty Dravis, California, Central Valley, Chase Von, Dames of Dialogue, Dream Reachers, journalism, Sacramanto County, San Joaquin County, Stan C. Countz, Stan Countz, Writing | by Betty Dravis | 38 comments
by Betty Dravis
Betty Dravis: Welcome to our growing slate of Dream Reachers, Stan. It’s a pleasure to have such a talented man from the California Central Valley with us today. I moved from Silicon Valley to the Central Valley two years ago. While I live in the smaller town of Manteca and you live in the booming metropolis of Modesto (laughs), we’re in the same “neck of the woods.” I met you on Facebook and you drew my interest because you promote local merchants, have a background in publishing, TV show production and are a prolific poet and wordsmith. When I saw the quality of your full-color Valley Views Magazine, I knew you were a man of vision…a man I wanted to interview.
Before we get to know “Stan the adult,” I’d like to give our readers a peek at “Stan the child.” Where did you grow up? What were you like as a kid? What were your first ambitions?
Stan C. Countz: Thanks, Betty, I’m happy to be here. To start at the beginning, my parents met and married in the Central Valley city of Turlock during the fabulous fifties. My mom, Myrna Louise Wymar, was an avid horse enthusiast and barrel rider and a member of the Turlock Cavaliers. My dad, Charles Alvin Countz, was like the original “Fonzie.” He wore his hair in a duck-tail and was a member of a car club, like most guys in those days. They fell for each other and, before you know it, I was on my way. They got married and moved to the Bay Area where my two brothers and I were born and raised. I lived in Martinez, Walnut Creek, Danville and Alamo before moving back to the Turlock area in 1967. From the sixth grade through high school, I lived there; my parents built a countertop manufacturing and installation business (Countz Counter Tops).
In high school, I was a member of the track team and during this time I was confronted with the claims of Christ and decided to accept Him into my life. This decision was to have tremendous impact on the course of my life and the lives of my family and friends. This was at the height of the “Jesus Movement” of the early 70’s. After receiving Christ, I was walking on “Cloud Nine” from about the middle of my freshman year through my senior year in high school.
I was one of those guys that brought my Bible to school and actually read it. I was involved with the early days of contemporary Christian music and enjoyed listening to early Christian rock artists such as Barry McGuire, Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Chuck Girard and other pioneers of that genre. During this time, I had a voracious appetite for Bible Study, prayer, evangelism and Christian fellowship. I wrote a weekly column in The Turlock Journal, entitled “For Real.” Several articles were picked up by national publications. I took a class taught by Margaret J. Anderson, author of The Christian Writer’s Handbook, who happened to live in Turlock at the time.
Betty Dravis: Your parents sound “Fifties Cool,” Stan. Thanks for painting a vivid picture of that era; your description brings back pleasant memories for me. It’s also interesting to hear about your accepting Jesus into your life.
Your interest in singing may have been sparked by those Christian singers and your interest in writing must have gotten a big boost when a few of your articles made it national. I find it interesting how everything in our lives tends to blend together to form who we become as adults. Using myself as an example, I started writing poetry at about age eleven, took private elocution lessons, favored English, journalism and creative writing throughout my school years. It didn’t surprise anyone when those skills followed me throughout my working life.
Stan C. Countz: You’re right, Betty; that’s how it was for me too. After graduating from Turlock High School in 1974, I majored in English and minored in Journalism at Modesto Junior College. I wrote for the college newspaper and was inspired to continue writing when I won an award for an investigative journalism piece from the California Community College Association.
Unfortunately, writing jobs were not too plentiful, so after graduating, I took a few minimum wage general laborer jobs before I discovered I could sell. My first sales job was working for Fuller Brush, selling degreasers, germicidal cleaners and brushes door to door. I met my wife Teresa at Modesto Junior College and hired her to deliver and collect on all the products I was selling. I went from selling brushes to selling freezer food plans.
When I made enough money so I didn’t need to take just anything that came along, I interviewed with media companies–including TV stations, radio stations and newspapers–and was hired by a new FM radio station in the Modesto area. K102 (today referred to as Sunny 102.3) was the first contemporary station on the FM dial in the Modesto area. I was given ninety days to “sink or swim.” Luckily, I excelled at radio-advertising sales and subsequently started a Christian radio show, The Right On Rock, which eventually aired on three rock stations in the Modesto area over an eight-year period.
In 1979 I left the radio station as an account executive and was hired by a local advertising agency where I had the opportunity to produce TV shows, direct mail-coupon mailers, bus-bench advertising and other innovative local advertising programs. In 1979 I launched Advertising Alternatives and began publishing specialty tabloids and publications. In March of 1980, I founded Valley Views magazine.
Betty Dravis: Well, you earned your way to the top, Stan, through diligence and hard work, the old-fashioned way. (laughs) It’s great that your wife worked with you to help you get started. That’s impressive and says a lot for both of you.
My research shows that Valley Views magazine was the first city/regional magazine ever published in the Central Valley. Before telling us about your current projects and your ambitious plans, please tell us what happened to the original publication and what you did in the interim…before starting up again.
Stan C. Countz: I put out thirty consecutive issues of the original Valley Views between 1980 and 1983. The magazine was a victim of its own success. After approximately twenty-eight issues of the magazine, I convinced myself that I needed investment capital to take it to the next level. I spent hundreds of man-hours with my business consultant, Brad Schuber, putting together a complete business plan. The first person I showed it to, a CPA, jumped at it and brought in his printer business associate.
They offered to set up a new corporation and issue me 40% of the stock in the new entity. I had always told myself that I would never give up controlling interest in any of my businesses, but I had convinced myself of the need for this capital. Well, in a nutshell, I was left holding the liabilities of the sole-proprietorship and all the assets were transferred to the new corporation. Once this was done, these investors surprised me by asking me to step down from my role as publisher. Once I did that, there was no one to assume my responsibilities and so they put a couple of issues out without me, but, basically, there was no one who could generate the ad sales so the magazine took one last breath and “gave up the ghost” after I stepped down.
Remember, I did all of this while I was in my early 20’s way before anyone else even thought of producing a magazine for the Central Valley.
Betty Dravis: That’s really something for someone so young to build a magazine like that, only to have it “snatched” from beneath you by unscrupulous businessmen. I bet you learned valuable life lessons from that, though. Seems like they “cut off their noses to spite their faces,” though, so you must have had the last laugh. So, what happened next, Stan? Where did you go from there?
Stan C. Countz: I was disheartened by that setback, of course, Betty, but I carried on and stayed in the advertising field for another twelve years. I produced direct mail coupon books and published Modesto Lifestyles and Stanislaus Business, special-interest newsprint publications. In 1990, I was the top ad-sales rep for the Valley Yellow Pages for Stanislaus County and Sacramento County. In 1993, I decided to pursue other business interests…
All that time, I missed the publishing business; it gets in your blood, as you must know. So in 2003, I decided to go back into the publishing and advertising business.
In the previous twenty years, publishing technology had changed drastically, so I was in for a steep learning curve. I hooked up with graphic designers, freelance writers and photographers and a heat-set web printer and put out a forty-page magazine. This was followed by a fifty-six-page magazine. Once I changed the name back to Valley Views, it jumped up to eighty pages and then a hundred. The success of Valley Views magazine spawned and inspired other magazines as well. For example, as soon as I changed the name of the magazine from Modesto Homes & Lifestyles to Valley Views, almost every paper in the Valley changed their names.
Tony Zoccoli, who published two Valley magazines, confided in me over the phone years later that he had watched for every new issue of Valley Views to see if he could match the quality of the content and the design. He changed his distribution strategy and format of his publications to mirror Valley Views and today is still publishing a successful magazine covering the San Joaquin County area.
In an attempt to diversify my brand and add depth to my coverage, I also launched a website and a TV show Valley Views Spotlight that featured “documercials” promoting life in the Valley, Bay and foothills. We produced four episodes of Valley Views Spotlight. A successful developer, who had bought up much of downtown Sutter Creek, saw the potential of doing some “destination marketing” and jumped on board prior to the building of the bypass that everyone knew was coming. Here is a link to the introduction to Episode IV of Valley Views Spotlight: http://www.vimeo.com/7962515
Betty Dravis: That’s interesting, Stan. I enjoy hearing about your publishing career because I relate to your struggles and your successes. For fifteen years before my retirement, I owned and published a 20,000-circulation newspaper in Silicon Valley. Construction Labor News was the “Official Voice of Labor in Silicon Valley and Beyond.” It was a highly political newspaper, as you might guess, because our subscribers were Unions affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council.
But, aside from my interest, I’m sure our readers will enjoy learning more about you and your ventures. You have an outstanding video on the internet wherein you speak of the original Valley Views Magazine and your plans for your new “baby.” You rekindled fond memories of my own publishing days when you spoke of the old-fashioned way of cutting-and-pasting with an X-Acto knife. I remember those days from when I edited the Gilroy News Herald. In fact, we always needed “filler” stories in various lengths to fill gaps in layout when the writers didn’t “guesstimate” length correctly. It was funny when the “paste-up man”—which is what we called our graphic artist in those days–stuck his head in the door, saying, “We need a three-inch story.” (laughs)
Since you openly discuss Valley Views Magazine in one segment of the video, while other segments feature great places to visit in the Central Valley, I’m sharing the internet link with our readers: http://www.valleyviews.biz/ It’s a fascinating video and I hope our readers take time to watch all the segments and surf the site. I couldn’t drag myself away from it; all that yummy food, breath-taking scenery, the news segments, etc. The Central Valley is, indeed, a lovely area with much to offer residents and visitors. I hear you have launched a big “Local First” campaign. Tell us about it, Stan.
Stan C. Countz: Well, I think many communities throughout the country could benefit from being in better touch with their local resources, local talent and local business and non-profit organizations. Also, I believe a community resource guide can inform and educate people about the importance of supporting locally-owned and locally grown companies, non-profits and talent. For the last three years, I have been working on ways of rewarding consumers who think and shop locally first. To this end, I believe I have found several creative ways to tap into the growing “Local First” movement by launching a local search portal and publishing local community resource guides and/or coupon directories that educate, inform and entertain their respective communities while rewarding local consumers with local shopping rewards, online, print and video coupons.
The community resource guide ought to profile successful local business leaders, non-profit organizations, artists, entertainers, authors, actors, models, etc. and ought to be a source of community pride and solidarity. It should cover the “Who’s Who & Who’s New” in the community. Due to the current economic downturn, however, we thought it prudent to format the publication in such a way that the break-even point is reached easier than was the break-even point for Valley Views. To this end, we have come up with a simple, duplicable print and online publishing platform and format that would work in nearly any cohesive community that wants to improve the economic climate of its local economy.
Betty Dravis: So it appears you’re no longer publishing Valley Views and are back into promoting again. I thought that Tim Tafolla, your ad designer and associate on VV, was quite talented. What’s he doing now that VV is no longer being published?
Stan C. Countz: Well, Betty, Valley Views is still a brand we want to keep and promote, but we are holding it for when an economic resurgence occurs. That’s why we’re doing smaller, less-ambitious community resource guides for ultra-local neighborhood target marketing. We organize a “school of little fish,” instead of trying to land a couple of “big fish.” Many of the big fish have moved to deeper waters.
Thanks for asking about my friend, Tim Tafolla, Betty. I’m sorry to report that his office building was gutted by a tragic fire about eight months ago. He had to start all over again from scratch, so he moved to North Modesto where he’s currently operating his photography and graphic-design business from his home. He is moving towards fashion photography and videography and is going forward in his business. I designed his website and his company Facebook fan page. His new company name is Maya Media Studio. I believe he is also managing another business as well.
Betty Dravis: It’s too bad the magazine is out of print, but the print industry has always been a hard, competitive business that’s prone to huge shifts in advertising revenue as the economy rises and falls.
I hear that you’re contemplating a different kind of TV production for the Central Valley, Stan, and I think this is a good place to give readers an impression of its size: As we Californians know, the Valley stretches approximately 500 miles (800 km) from north to south. It boggled my mind when I learned that it’s around 42,000 square miles, making it roughly the same size as the state of Tennessee. Its northern half is referred to as the Sacramento Valley and its southern half as the San Joaquin Valley. That said, is it too soon to talk about your new venture?
Stan C. Countz: As you may have noticed, there’s nothing I like better than talking business, Betty. (laughs) When the economy took a dump in the fall of 2006, I curtailed my plans for both the magazine and the TV show. However, through Tim Tafolla, I have recently been connected with a very talented video editor who is looking to co-produce a TV show for the Spanish-speaking Central California market and I am in discussions with him exploring the possibility of producing a show for both the Anglo and Hispanic markets. The show would air on a couple of English-language and a couple of Spanish-language broadcast channels out of Sacramento and would beam all over the Northern San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley. This program would give us an opportunity to promote local businesses, local artists and local events and destinations to an audience of millions of regional viewers.
Betty Dravis: That sounds fascinating, Stan, and is something I think the public would favor. If anyone can make it work, you can. Best of luck…
Stan, you send tempting Facebook invitations to the most fabulous places in the Valley, but you spoke about that above when telling about the “Shop Local” and “Who’s Who and Who’s New” campaigns. I can tell you’re proud of this area we call home. You certainly promote it well and belong to all the civic organizations. I saw some of your videos and am impressed with your on-camera persona and with the logos you created. The premise makes lots of sense to me and I understand it’s sweeping the country, with Chambers of Commerce and local leaders joining the national trend. And as seems to be your way, you’re on the cutting edge again.
Stan C. Countz: Yes, I am proud of this area, Betty; my heart, my home and my family are here. I’m sure you have seen, heard or read some of the sensational stories that have been produced or written about our area. If one is to believe all they have heard about our region, no one would want to live here, much less raise a family here. Our media outlets have become very adept at airing our “dirty laundry,” but, for some reason, they are reticent to cover any story that shows our region in a positive light. They can never be found when someone “does it right.”
I would like to try to rectify that. I think the local media should be there with our video cameras, our microphones and our notepads when someone does something noteworthy or worthy of praise, rather than following the scent of blood, like a bunch of crazed bloodhounds. I believe we can make a difference in our local communities by supporting locally-owned businesses, local talent and causes in which we believe.
Betty Dravis: You’re right about that, Stan, and I think that holds true of all the media: sensationalism is the name of the news game nowadays, it appears. I, personally, enjoy shopping and dining in my little corner of the Valley. I’ve found some amazing restaurants in Manteca, not to mention some fabulous clothing and shoe shops. (laughs)
Among many other things, Stan, you also sing, play guitar and compose lyrics. I’ve seen videos of you singing your own compositions and like them very much. I especially enjoy one entitled “Stand for Somethin’ or You’ll Fall for Anything.” That’s sound advice, Stan, and confirms that you are a true Dream Reacher, a man who believes in stretching to reach your dreams. But how and when did you start writing verse, Stan?
Stan C. Countz: In the spring of 2005, my mother, Myrna Louise (Wymar) Countz, passed away at the age of sixty-six. About a year after she passed away, out of the blue and unexpectedly, I started writing poetry and verse. Perhaps it was a “coping mechanism,” but I prefer to believe that it was a gift of God. All of a sudden, I started writing lyrics and verses and poems like a madman. Since that time–I think it was 2007–I have become quite prolific in my lyric-writing. Two of my poems have been featured in international poetry anthologies. Several of them have been re-tooled as songs, been recorded by bands and are being played on radio and on the internet all over the world. One song, Recipe for a Broken Heart, was recorded in Chet McCracken’s studio; Chet was the original drummer for The Doobie Brothers when they were featured on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine in their heyday. This song was recorded by the band Big Rain, out of Aptos, California, and played on radio stations all over the world. I wrote the lyrics and Bruce Guynn wrote the tune.
Here’s a little something I wrote, entitled I Write a Lot, that describes my writing habits:
I write quite a bit, usually every night and sit in front of my computer composing megabits of verse and rhyme. How often do I do it? All the time…to my wife’s shock and dismay, I write around the clock and every day. I never stop or have writer’s block. But I’m still trying to make it pay. I’ve written hard rock, doo-wop, country and pop. It may seem silly, but I write non-stop for hillbillies, fillies, tikes and tots. Some say I’m crazy, some say I’m not. Some say I’m lazy. Some say I’m hot, but either way, I write a lot.
Betty Dravis: That’s sad your mother passed on so relatively young, Stan. My belated condolences…
And I must say, the end of your little ditty above is really funny, but the poem is a little hard to read in places. For better effect, I’d like to hear you sing it…or speak it as poetry. Do you still sing and play guitar? And do you have any albums or CDs recorded yet?
Stan C. Countz: Yes, I still sing and play—every chance I get. (laughs) I also play drums, Betty. I have recorded enough of my songs to produce an album, but I need to focus on pulling everything together, get everything tweaked and mastered and released. I did my first wedding last month and would love to do more weddings and events. It was great. I especially enjoy performing for “Baby Boomers,” since I write for them and they “get” my lyrics better than any other age group. But I will perform for any group or gathering, if given half a chance. I also enjoy discovering local talent and promoting it. I have been producing some local talent showcases lately and would like to expand the effort to a monthly. Check out http://localfirst.biz/local-talent.htm
Betty Dravis: As I said above, I’ve heard a few of your tapes and you have a definite talent, Stan, but I can understand how and why Local First is your main focus now. Since you also help plan many grand openings and special events, serving as master-of-ceremonies at many, do you ever perform at any of these events?
Stan C. Countz: Right again, Betty… My main focus right now is promoting the Local First message. Along with a huge media campaign, we are looking to organize Local First Local Talent Showcases and networking events to introduce the local business community to the non-profits and the local talent. We had our Local First kick-off in Turlock July 7th at Sweet River Grill and had a standing-room-only launch that pulled three times as many people as the venue expected. http://localfirst.biz/blog.htm
Betty Dravis: Congrats on the Turlock event, Stan; I hear it was a lot of fun. Best of luck with all your projects.
You have an impressive array of photos on Facebook; from cruise ship to playing guitar to weddings to your lovely family to magazine covers. These photos represent many facets of your life. I could comment on each of them, but I’m really curious about those awesome convertibles from back in the day. They are way beyond cool, reminding me of the movie American Graffiti. Tell us about that photo, Stan. And while on the subject, were parts of American Graffiti filmed in Modesto?
Stan C. Countz: Although American Graffiti was loosely based on George Lucas’s life growing up in the Modesto area, it is my understanding that the actual filming of American Graffiti was done in the Petaluma area. However, Modesto has had a love affair with cruising since I can remember. We used to have Graffiti Night in Modesto when people came from all over to cruise up and down McHenry Avenue. Several years ago it was outlawed, but now they have converted the entire month of June to Graffiti Summer. Check out this video produced by Valley Views Spotlight (my former TV show) that chronicles some of the 2006 activities in the Modesto area: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMva9uHXWK0
Betty Dravis: That is, indeed, a famous movie; we’re all enamored of that era. But moving on: Stan, how important is family to you? We would enjoy knowing a little about yours.
Stan C. Countz: I have been married to my saint of a wife, Teresa, for nearly thirty-three years. We have twin daughters who are eighteen years old and we are getting close to becoming “empty nesters.” My mom, both of my brothers and my dad have all preceded me in death. I’m the last of the Mohicans, so to speak. My daughters are working on getting their driver’s licenses and buying their first cars. We are very close with my wife’s family. She comes from a family of seven and has three sisters and a brother who all live in the Modesto area. Her mom and dad only live ten houses down from us. Her mom is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico and her father is originally from Mexico City. My wife and all her siblings were born and raised in Modesto. My wife is very close to her family. Her family members are some of her best friends and confidants. http://countzfamily.blogspot.com/
Betty Dravis: Nothing beats a close-knit family, Stan. You are surely blessed.
Okay, now for a lighter question: If it were possible to spend the day with anyone throughout history, who would you choose…and why?
Stan C. Countz: I would like to stay for a day with Jesus, son of Joseph, during his three-year ministry as he went about the Judean countryside. In fact, I wrote a lyric entitled “Carpenter’s Son.” It paints a scene that might take you back in time to when he was turning water into wine and giving sight to the blind and blowing the Pharisee’s minds. Internet link to read the poem: http://happyholidaysfromstan.blogspot.com/2008_11_23_archive.html
Betty Dravis: Jesus is the perfect choice, Stan; that would be a divine blessing, for sure. I hope to be able to hear you sing that song one day. That would be a real treat… But moving on, I know how important the Central Valley and home are to you, but everyone likes to get away from time to time. What are your favorite vacation spots? And what do you do for recreation?
Stan C. Countz: We like to get away to Pine Crest up in the Sierras or the Santa Cruz/Monterey area on the coast. We also enjoy the Morro Bay and Pismo/Avila Beach area. My wife enjoys scrapbooking and I enjoy writing poetry and songwriting. (laughs) I also enjoy jamming with other musicians and creating memorable songs that change the way people think.
Betty Dravis: I’m happy you get away with the family, Stan. My children and I take to water too. In fact, as I conduct this interview, it’s Labor Day weekend and my adult kids and some of the grandkids are headed to the beach home of friends in Santa Cruz. I’d be with them, but I have to work. (laughs)
There’s a lot of talk about “paying it forward” in recent times, so tell us, Stan, how do you show appreciation for your good fortune in life?
Stan C. Countz: I like to encourage talent in all forms where I find it. Talent comes in all shapes and sizes. I like to encourage people to dig in, set their goals and don’t let anyone steal their dreams. There is so much that is discouraging out there. I want to be that one bright light in the night that shines its beacon and warns of the rocks and shoals ahead, so the ship can make it safely into harbor. If I find a flower blooming in a desert place, I want to water it, fertilize it and see how big it will grow.
Betty Dravis: Good analogy, Stan… Encouraging talent is an admirable way to pay it forward. In a way you are doing what Chase Von and I do when creating our “Dream Reachers” books: inspiring people to dream big! I admire that about you, Stan. Keep up the great work.
But now we’re nearing the end of this interview, so before I tell our readers where they can contact you, is there anything I missed that you’d like to share today? And what advice do you have for young people just getting started in journalism or writing, in general?
Stan C. Countz: Read good writing and write good writing. The way you spot a counterfeit is to become so familiar with the real thing that when a fake comes along, you can spot it immediately. Become acquainted with good writing, so you can recognize it when you see it. And I encourage writers to keep a journal or online blog. If you do not know how to set up a blog, contact me. I’ll get you all set up.
Betty Dravis: I’m sure your advice will be welcome, Stan. It’s been a pleasure talking with you today. Thanks for sharing your dreams with us and for standing up for your convictions. That said, this is the perfect place to share more links where fans, friends and potential advertisers can reach you on the internet:
And now before leaving, thanks again, Stan. Best of luck with all your projects… And I’ll be seeing you on Facebook, Twitter and in the pages of Who’s Who & Who’s New, I’m sure. (laughs) Don’t forget to check back with us and keep us in the loop.
Stan C. Countz: It’s been fun, Betty. Thanks for including me with all these fascinating high-achievers. I’ll try to live up to your expectations and stretch to become a top-notch “Dream Reacher.” And don’t forget: Shop & Search Local First. (laughs)
August 31, 2010 in Author & Celebrity Interviews, Character Interviews | Tags: acting, actor, Al Pacino, Betty Dravis, celebrity, diane keaton, Emmy, entertainiment, fan base, Godfather, Iris Frank, Jackie Krudop, Katherin Kovin Pacino, living legend, Meryl streep, movies, Oscar, Pacino Worldwide, Sal Pacino, Scarface, Scent of a woman | by Betty Dravis | 29 comments
by Betty Dravis
Betty Dravis: Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Jackie. It’s not every day I interview a woman with your special mission in life. In fact, I never met anyone who does what you do… With millions of blogs and websites on the internet, I never even thought of interviewing a site owner–until I stumbled across Pacino Worldwide and wondered who was behind the fascinating site.
I did a little research and the more I learned about you and your dedication to the fabulous actor, Al Pacino, the more intrigued I became. You have a dream and are working hard to make it happen. You are a Dream Reacher and qualify as a celebrity to me and my co-author Chase Von.
Jackie Krudop: Thanks for inviting me here, Betty. I’m pleased with the kindness you’ve shown towards my dream. Some people may consider it silly, but to me it’s a labor of love. I know your Dream Reachers books are all about celebrities achieving their dreams, so I get a laugh from that… I am far from a celebrity! But when I learned that you and Chase consider everyone’s life worthy of celebration and all it takes to be a celebrity is to have a dream and fulfill it, that’s when I began to celebrate my own “celebrity” status. (laughs)
In a lot of ways I feel like a celebrity to Al’s fans because I get emails and tons of compliments on things I have posted on Facebook, such as photos from events, appearances and such. Maybe I post something that they may not have had the chance to see in their part of the world because of press or what not… That word “celebrity” is still a little new to me, but secretly, it makes the old ego feel realllyy good! (laughs) In fact, Betty, this interview makes me feel very confident right now. I thank you.
Betty Dravis: It’s our pleasure, Jackie, and you got it right! Life is as fun as you make it… But now please tell us what your website is all about. I know you adore Al Pacino and your website states: Maintaining the integrity of an artist at a level deserving of the man it honors. Just what does that mean to you?
Jackie Krudop: Wow, just seeing our mission statement in print takes me back to the very beginning. I guess that it means that at all costs, we will bring to Al’s fans the facts–not the rumor mill “b.s.” and nothing that will exploit him, his family, his children or anything in his personal life.
I mean, when we first started this, you wouldn’t believe how many questions we got about who he’s dating, what church he goes to, who he votes for president …just silly stuff like that. It sort of angers me that people claim to admire someone, but then they invade their personal life as if there is truly no respect at all. I don’t know…
Sometimes I get a little overly protective of Al, but it’s not in a possessive or obsessive way; it’s in a humane way. But I wouldn’t want all those questions answered by anyone but me, and if Al hasn’t answered them, then perhaps no one needs to know. Make sense? (shrugs shoulders)
In short, what that means to me is that when you come to Pacino Worldwide, you get facts about Al’s art and his works–past, present and future–nothing else. And you will make a friend or two along the way…guaranteed!
Betty Dravis: It’s an admirable mission statement, Jackie. No one could expect more from you than honesty and good information; I’m sure Al Pacino would respect that in you, also. In the eyes of the world, that must make you Al’s number one fan! How do you feel about that?
Jackie Krudop: I think about half the fan base of Pacino Worldwide would call me more than just a “fan.” I used to hate that word because it sounded so “stalker-ish,” so I’d rather be thought of as a respectful admirer. Either way, I hope my tribute is known by at least Al himself. I hope that he knows of my dedication to keeping his other admirers in the loop. That’s a nice thought…
In fact, my website vice-president and co-owner, Iris Frank, recently said, “In more ways than one, it’s Al’s name that gets the fans to Pacino Worldwide, but it’s you, Jackie, that keeps them there!”
I appreciate Iris pointing that out because it is a lot of work… If there is one thing I have learned by being a “fan” and someone who looks “in” from the “outside,” there is a constant need to know as much as I can without seeming like some psycho stalker. I started this site as a way to keep fans informed of everything I can with the resources that are available to me that may not be available to them. And along the way, friendships are made. That’s the cream.
Betty Dravis: Jackie, as a former career journalist, I can understand that in gathering information for the site yourself, you might appear to be stalking. That’s the way journalists are often perceived, even the most ethical ones. But everyone who knows you knows you are respectful of Al and always put his interests first.
I like that term “respectful admirer,” Jackie. It has class, like you. But hasn’t Al or anyone from his entourage ever contacted you to acknowledge the website? If not, perhaps they might read this and get in touch. I hope that someday you get to meet him. That would be another dream-come-true. How do you feel about that?
Jackie Krudop: Well, I certainly wouldn’t know the first words to say to the man…really. Honestly, we have had no one from Al’s “people” ever acknowledge the site at any time. However, we have written to comment on a few newspaper articles…just to let them know our side of a situation. If they would read this, perchance, and happen to want to get in touch, well, I’m sure they’d know how to find me. (laughs)
As far as my next dream, it would be to not only meet Al, but to see him perform in a live play. I’m a bit of a nut for Shakespeare since high school; but thanks to Al, it seems more educated and more passionate… So to see him perform onstage would be a nice dream too. If that happened to be a current Shakespeare play in New York, then all the better.
Betty Dravis: I know how you feel, Jackie, and I hope that dream comes true. Don’t forget to grab the opportunity with both hands when it comes your way. That’s the message we hope to inspire with our Dream Reachers books.
Even though it’s been forty years since I interviewed Clint Eastwood, I would dearly love to see him again. In fact, I would like to have a photo taken with him in the identical pose of the one taken then. We were both young and “pretty” in those days, but we’ve fared well and a photo like that would be a blast. Oddly, I think he’d get a kick out of it, too, if I could get past his “people” to request it. I guess I will have to try harder. (laughs)
But moving on, Jackie, when did you first see Al Pacino? In what movie?
Jackie Krudop: My first movie was Scarface, but I barely remember seeing it because I had to sneak in the drive-in theater to see it. I hadn’t reached the age of eighteen yet (1983), but I saw it, anyway. I just remember feeling so bad when hearing all those “f” bombs being dropped in one movie. (A bit of trivia Betty: Did you know that Al has said in an interview a long time ago that there were 182 “f***s” in that movie? That’s more than some people get in a lifetime!)
Betty Dravis: I never liked too much profanity in movies, either; I suppose they did it to make their characters seem tougher…but whatever, it was never in good taste and was unnecessary, in my opinion. Bruce Willis is one of my favorite actors and I cringed during many of his movies when that word came up too often. I notice they don’t use that word as much as they once did. That is a good thing…
But back to your first encounter seeing Al, at that point, did you succumb to his dark, swarthy looks or to his acting ability?
Jackie Krudop: The movie that actually “did it” for me was Scent of a Woman. It still remains my favorite of his movies. I must have seen it too many times to count. You know, there is just something about his “charm” that just escapes me now (sigh), but the thing about that movie was that I found myself wanting to take care of him or to tell the character to “snap out of it!” Then, of course, the famous tango scene…. Aaahhh…my favorite… Now there’s the dream! You just have to see it to know what I’m talking about.
I “succumbed,” as you say, more so after reading his first bio Life On the Wire. This book was something of a project I gave myself when I was pregnant with my twin boys. I had nothing better to do with my time off work than to take my other two kids to school and read, so I read a bio from the library every week. I went by alpha order and, needless to say, I stopped at the “Ps.” That got me to the internet and the rest is history!
Betty Dravis: I, personally, got hooked on Al when I saw him in the first Godfather; he was absolute dynamite in that movie, and so good-looking. I’m surprised you never mentioned any of the star-making Godfather movies, but you were probably too young when the first two were filmed. It sounds like you were really “hooked” after reading his bio. Did you go on to see all his movies after that? Or have you seen them all?
Jackie Krudop: You know, I’m not sure if it was before I created the website or during the process of it all that I decided I better see some of these films. (laughs) I mean, here I am trying to entice people to see the Al that I see and to come to this website, but if I don’t know his films, how can I offer opinion or shed light, right? So yes, at this point in my “Pacino life” I have seen all but one…and that is Me, Natalie. It was from the 70s and it’s not out on DVD, so I’m not sure when I’ll see it, but I will see it!
Betty Dravis: You’re right, Jackie, you have to have seen his films in order to talk and write about them. His stepmother, Katherin Kovin Pacino, told me he said that “Scent of a Woman” was his personal favorite movie. Have you heard that? And what’s your favorite movie starring Pacino?
Jackie Krudop: Isn’t Kat just wonderful? Kat has been very good to me. Yes, I have heard that about Al and I know that he is also fond of the work in Scarface too. But Scent of a Woman was his Oscar winner, so I can see how that would be his favorite. It just so happens that it’s my favorite movie of his too. As I said earlier, it was this film that really got to me. His charm and his tenacity as the blind retired Colonel Frank Slade just brought so much to the film. The film was about strengths and weaknesses, family and self… I just loved it! I watch it about once a month to just hear a big WHHOOHAH!! (Yes, I can actually recite the end speech too.)
Betty Dravis: I liked that movie myself, Jackie. That tango scene and his amazing speech were awesome, but that “Whhoohah” cracked me up. But did the great Al ever make a film you didn’t like? If so, why didn’t you enjoy it?
Jackie Krudop: Honestly? At first I wasn’t crazy about Donnie Brasco, but after watching it for the third time, it took on a different meaning… I think the reason I strayed from it at first viewing was because of the stereotypical “gangster” side of things and the over-acting and over-used accents of some of the actors (not from Al). But the story and the meat of the movie holds plenty to see… I mean, look… It’s Johnny Depp and Al Pacino! What’s not to love? (laughs)
Betty Dravis: Which of his leading ladies do you like best? I, personally, love Diane Keaton who played his wife in the first Godfather, but I also like Michelle Pfeiffer who starred opposite him in Scarface. She’s a gorgeous woman.
Jackie Krudop: While I do agree with you about Diane Keaton, playing Kay in The Godfather, I’d have to say that my favorite is the great Meryl Streep in her role with Al in the Emmy-winning HBO movie, Angels In America. She (as Ethel Rosenberg) and Al (as Roy Cohn) just have that “something” that is needed on screen to make it work. They feed off each other’s lines as if it were a match in acting Heaven.
Betty, I believe the rapport comes from the paths they have taken in their personal lives (Meryl was in a relationship with Al’s dear friend John Cazale who played Fredo in Godfather and Sal in Dog Day Afternoon. Cazale had passed away.) He speaks of his own admiration of Meryl in a movie recently released called I Knew It Was You: The John Cazale Story. It’s currently showing on most Cable channels. Their on-screen chemistry just worked wonders. It was real from-the-gut acting.
Betty Dravis: I haven’t met one person who doesn’t admire Meryl Streep. Sorry to say, I never saw Angels in America…
Well, Jackie, Al Pacino is a major talent and has won numerous acting awards, so I can understand the attraction. I’m very devoted to actor Clint Eastwood, but never once thought of honoring him in this way. I met and interviewed him years ago, as everyone in ear-shot must know by now. I’m not shy in bragging about it, but I simply honor him by trying to follow my dreams with as much diligence and creativity as he’s always shown.
Since you have a devoted husband and four children, how do you find the time to maintain the site in such a professional way? Does your family support you in this endeavor and if they help you, tell us what they do.
Jackie Krudop: Well, Betty, while they do support me and my endeavors (no matter what I want to do) they pretty much leave Mom to her “computer time,” and then she’ll come back and be “mom” again soon. As far as my husband, he is very devoted to his family. He sometimes works more than ten hours a day in a hot stinkin’ factory. He has been there for over twenty-five years this July and I have to tell you, there is not one time that he comes home to a dirty home or a meal not cooked or at least planned. My children all do their daily chores and make sure that they are all contributing members. So thanks for pointing that out and I’m sorry if I strayed from the actual question. I guess that’s how this “well-oiled machine” works. (laughs)
Betty Dravis: I’m glad your family is so supportive of you and of each other, Jackie. Family is what it’s all about. So tell me about your daily work routine. Do you have a regular “day job?” And how many hours do you devote to Pacino Worldwide?
Jackie Krudop: Hmmm, Betty…my daily routine? I guess I do have one; I do have a day job. I am the office-everything girl for a small, family-owned construction company that shall remain nameless as I promised myself not to talk about bosses or work on the internet.
I’m not sure how many hours you could calculate that I work on the site and on the Facebook page. I am “online” daily because my day job is not that busy, so I take the time to answer questions and connect to fans via Facebook. I guess it’s a good thing Al doesn’t have me on the payroll then, huh? (laughs) There are some days I work on the site for at least four hours and then there are days I don’t hardly touch the computer. Working on the site, updating it and connecting with the fans on Facebook is a “get-away” for me…therapy of sorts. While others turn to vices such as gambling or alcohol, I turn to web design and “facebooking.”
Betty Dravis: Good for you, Jackie. It’s easy to see you’re enjoying it.
You are the president of Pacino Worldwide and Iris Frank is the co-founder and vice-president. This might come as a surprise to you, but following is a note she wrote telling about how you met. I hope you don’t mind my sharing it.
I can’t tell you the exact date I met Jackie. I can tell you I was in my forties. I am no longer in my forties. In fact, I am deep into my fifties. I can, however, tell you how I met her. I was hungrily seeking a ticket to see the screening of “Chinese Coffee” at the first Tribeca Film Festival in New York after 9/11. I put out a web-wide email to various Pacino fan groups (never have I taken such a risk!) asking if anyone had an extra ticket. I did, in fact, find a ticket. I also found Jackie, or should I say, she found me. Although ticketless, she responded to the search of a Pacino fan.
Al Pacino’s talent and love of his craft are the reasons Pacino Worldwide exists but also the reasons Jackie and Iris exist. That is a blessed irony… But what you also have when you sign onto Facebook is the wit, drive and dedication of Jackie Krudop. She reminds us that as payback for her effort and her talent we are required to enjoy her handiwork. Her website is here to relax with. She insists you do just that.
Many years, many tears, many arguments and many, many phone calls have passed between us, but our love and admiration for each other remain constant. Take your bow Jackie.
Wow, Jackie, Iris thinks the world of you. It’s interesting how you met and it’s heartening to know you became such good friends. Have you ever met Iris in person?
Jackie Krudop: Have I ever! Iris comes to visit me here in my humble abode (in the Midwest) every Labor Day weekend for what we call our “board of directors meeting,” but really it’s nothing else but good old girl time. We have become the best of friends, knowing one another better than we do our own selves. Knowing Iris is a true treasure; we not only share a “Pacino-thing” but so much more. We share so much…tears, laughter… My kids have even grown to call her “Auntie Iris,” so what does that say? I just simply love her! I call her “sister” all the time, but right now you can call her “Grandma.” She’s busy enjoying her first grandchild, Jacob Ryan Frank, who was born June 30, 2010.
Betty Dravis: I’m happy for Iris and her family, Jackie. Please congratulate “Grandma” for me and express my best wishes. (laughs)
What legalities were involved in starting Pacino Worldwide? How many members do you have? How many countries are represented in your fan base? And who supplies the fabulous photos and movie stills of Al?
Jackie Krudop: As far as legalities are concerned, the only promise I made to Al’s lawyers years ago (as the president of Pacino Worldwide) was to never make money from his name. So therefore, we are a non-profit, tribute-for-entertainment-purposes website. Yes, his lawyer contacted me as to a response to a very “ballsy” proposal we sent regarding the start up of perhaps a “fan club.” Not knowing what was in store, he just wanted to make sure of our intentions.
That is when I decided it should be something that all can enjoy and get use from; a resource, if you will. That way when fans who have never seen a particular film research that film, they will go to us, hopefully.
Members consist of fans from all around the world. We are up to 496 fans on Facebook and it continues to grow daily. Only Iris and I “run” the website. It may be “my baby,” as Iris called it once, but we both manage it. The photos on the site are mostly photos that we have access to from various sources upon release: Reuters, Corbis, Zimbio… They’re available to most–but not to everyone–so as soon as we get them, we pass them on. And trust me, there are fans out there who count on us to send these photos. We are constantly researching the web for new pictures and get press releases from Google and Yahoo daily anytime Al’s name shows up in the news. Right now–that’s a lot!
Betty Dravis: That’s interesting, Jackie, and you’re right about Al: He’s a hot commodity now and has been for a long while. He has become a living legend…
Iris mentioned your page on Facebook, so I think she met the Pacino Worldwide Facebook page. Your personal Facebook page is where I met you (indirectly through Katherin Kovin Pacino). I notice you post trivia questions and other information about Pacino and your page seems to be where many people first learn of Pacino Worldwide. You also talk about your day-to-day life and your children on Facebook. Did you set up that page for social networking or as another means of getting the word out about your favorite star?
Jackie Krudop: Well, to be honest Betty, the personal Facebook page is my own little way of connecting to old friends and family I don’t see all the time. The Pacino Worldwide Facebook page is a bit of a “coming of age” thing for the little boost I thought that the website needed. It has, indeed, worked! Iris does the marketing and watches our site’s numbers/visitors constantly. She says that since the onset of the Facebook page, our “hits” (numbers) increased instantly! We’ve gone from 20,000 to 30,000 “hits” a month to over 60,000 just this past June. Now, the numbers get larger once Al is busier, so keep working Al… (laughs)
Betty Dravis: Wow, those are fabulous numbers, Jackie. I’ll post the link on my sites around the internet and, hopefully, send more “hits” your way. (laughs)
I mentioned Al’s stepmother, Katherin Kovin Pacino, several times above. I also interviewed her for Dream Reachers: Vol. 2. She’s a fabulous, good-hearted, lovely woman and a noted actress. I notice she’s your friend on Facebook and approves your website. How did you meet her and is she a help with Pacino Worldwide? Also, you call her Katherin the Great… Why is that?
Jackie Krudop: I call her Katherin the Great because I picked it up out of a Facebook post when you called her that in a joking manner. I thought it really fit her–she truly is great! We met over ten years ago as I was searching for “ideas” and found myself joining “blogs” and various other Pacino groups in my quest to know all I could about the man and the actor. Well, I had casually mentioned to Kat that I’d love to start my own website, but that it was probably impossible and that no one would even like it, etc…all the negative stuff you could say.
It was Kat who encouraged me. Because of my age and my “experiences” in life, she knew I’d have a more mature side to Al’s fan-based sites. I had pretty much given up when one day she and I exchanged emails about Tribeca tickets and such and she said something about all the fans from other countries… That’s when I realized that I could and I would do the site and I’d call it “worldwide” because of how many countries his fans are from. I think, personally, that the name worldwide makes people pause to think…like, hmmm, maybe…
Betty Dravis: I noticed that side of Kat, too; she’s forever encouraging people…a fascinating, caring woman.
Since Al Pacino has won many awards in his outstanding career, I can’t go into all of them, but I’d like to run a quote he made in 2003. His words make me smile, affirming that he has a good sense of humor and has remained down-to-earth and humble.
“I’d like to be remembered as the only man who lived to be 250 years old! (laughs) And someone who had a chance to do what he always wanted to do. I like to think I’m a guy who wasn’t going to make it, and I did. So it’s good to buck the odds. If that means anything to anyone, I will be grateful from the beyond!” – Al Pacino (from Interview by Ken Burns for USA Weekend, Issue Date: January 26, 2003)
Jackie, do you have a favorite quote of Al’s…or an anecdote you’d like to share?
Jackie Krudop: My favorite quote of Al’s comes from his Oscar-winning movie Scent of a Woman: “There isn’t nothin’ like the sight of an amputated spirit, there is no prosthetic for that.”
This quote came at the climatic ending to that wonderful film. It had everything to do with the character, Charlie, and the demise he was facing. I think I have chosen this quote because of the depth of it. It says that there is no way to “fake” a spirit. Once someone’s spirit is broken, it’s hard to build back up and no one has that right to take your dreams and break the spirit that you were born with.
Betty Dravis: I agree that those are powerful words, Jackie; a lot of truth in so few words too. Thanks for sharing that. That was a fantastic movie and Al certainly won that Oscar, fair and square.
On a less serious note, have you had any embarrassing moments in your life that stem from having this website?
Jackie Krudop: Well…I’m not sure if it’s embarrassing, but it sure made me aware of what I was in store for by building this website. When Iris and I first got the idea to have a website, I dubbed it Pacino Worldwide. So, naturally, at family functions and times with friends we liked to pass on our “good news” by giving them the domain name and web address: pacinoworldwide.com. Simple…right? Or so you’d think…. Well, when some friends of Iris looked up the address, a slip or misunderstanding of the words and all of sudden, up on the screen comes “Pacino’s *****” which is not our site. In fact, it has nothing to do with Al. It’s Porn! You can imagine the looks on her friends’ faces as they stands there in awe or shock or whatever… Iris corrected her friends and they had a great laugh, but this is how a simple switcheroo can really make for an awkward moment.
Betty Dravis: Oh, that’s really funny, Jackie, and that would sure embarrass me. (laughs) But at this point in the interview, I usually ask my guests this question: If you could spend an entire day with anyone in the world (living or dead) who would you choose and why? Since we already know the answer to that, who would be your second choice? (laughs)
Jackie Krudop: (Giggles)… Honestly Betty, I’d love to spend an entire day with Al with all the knowledge and life experiences he has, but truthfully, I’d give anything to spend a day (again) with my departed grandmother. This woman raised me when my own mom worked full time at a factory and when we were in hard times as a child. She raised me from birth to about high-school age. I’m happy that she was able to live long enough to see me married and witness all four of my children. She passed away the summer my twin boys turned a year old. They’re now sixteen, so while it has been a long time ago, I long for dinners and prayers at her table and her good old southern hospitality.
Betty Dravis: I don’t blame you, Jackie. Your grandmother was undoubtedly a strong, wonderful woman and must have been an inspiration to you. Thanks for sharing that touching story.
What other famous actors do you admire?
Jackie Krudop: Yes…there are other actors out there, huh, Betty? (winks) Well, let’s see…I admire Meryl Streep for her “real” acting methods and being able to also transform perspectives (such as Al). I also adore the singer/artist Billy Joel. I have only seen him once in concert and love the way he brings such soul to his songs… You know, “It’s All About Soul” and all his songs, actually. I don’t really get a chance to know the names of many of the current celebs. I stick to movies with the people that I’ve been watching awhile, like Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, Jennifer Lopez (for her acting ability, not singing) and Bonnie Hunt.
Betty Dravis: You wrote the following on your Facebook page: “Love my husband, my kids and my God…what else is there?” Dare I answer the question by quipping: “There is Al Pacino?” (laughs)
What ages are your children and what do you like to do on family outings?
Jackie Krudop: Thanks for asking about my kids, Betty. I have four wonderful kids, but what Mom doesn’t say that…right? They really are, though; they start with my son Matt, age twenty-three, who is taking college courses for interior design, and then my daughter Katrina who is eighteen, just graduated from high school and is bound for cosmetology school in the fall, and last, but not least, are my twin boys, Jerod and Jordan, who turned sixteen on July 19, 2010. Look out, world… (laughs)
My husband John and I have been married for a little over twenty-three years and mostly spend our “family outings” doing whatever the kids want. We like to take our two dogs for walks or play volleyball in the backyard or just go catch a movie! It’s all about them, and we’ve found that just doing that and having our own “date night” once in a while, works for us.
Betty Dravis: That sounds like a winning combination to me, Jackie. Your family seems to be tight-knit and close, which is how it should be…
Before ending this interview, I’d like to know if you have any plans to expand Pacino Worldwide. And what’s in the near future for Jackie Krudop?
Jackie Krudop: The only plans I have for Pacino Worldwide, I’m already doing. I opened up the Facebook Page to fans that had already been with our little forty-member Yahoo Group and now we have 415 fans! I love it! The reason I love it is because I get to see how many folks from all ages, all walks of life, and all parts of the globe have the same great sense of awe and admiration for Al. And as they said about Elvis: forty million fans can’t be wrong! And as I say: 415 fans—and growing– can’t be wrong! (laughs)
As for Jackie Krudop, I’m not sure what’s next for me… My kid is going to college, so I think I’ll stick around home for a while and keep running the website and Facebook page! How’s that?
Betty Dravis: Sounds good to me, Jackie. Well, we could talk all day about Al Pacino and his fabulous body of works, but instead I’ll refer our readers to your websites:
Now before closing, Jackie, this is the perfect place to share the good news about Al’s HBO movie You Don’t Know Jack! And this is your last chance to mention anything we may have missed, so feel free to do so.
Jackie Krudop: As you know, Betty, in You Don’t Know Jack, Al plays the role of Dr. Jack Kevorkian (1928 –) who in the 1990s defied Michigan law by assisting the suicide of terminally-ill persons. It’s an HBO presentation, directed by Barry Levinson. Critics and fans are raving over Al’s accurate portrayal of the controversial, single-minded and often antic Kevorkian.
I’m pleased to announce that Al has been nominated for an Emmy in August, 2010! We predicted as such and are so ready to see Al receive the Emmy once again. He already received an Emmy for the HBO movie, Angels In America. We happen to think that Al and HBO make a pretty good team!
Currently, Al is performing as Shylock in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in New York’s beautiful Delacorte Theater for the summer months’ Shakespeare in the Park. This is a very big deal at Pacino Worldwide and we are even more excited to have gotten news recently that says that there are “talks” of this very show going to Broadway. We hope! Any other Pacino news and happenings can be found on our site’s “Future Features” page.
Betty Dravis: I saw You Don’t Know Jack and was mesmerized by Al’s performance; he was fabulous. He not only played the part, he was Dr. Kevorkian in that film. That’s how great he is! He certainly deserves an Emmy. Thanks for the good news!
In parting, I wish to thank you for sharing your life and your dreams with our readers, Jackie. It’s been great fun talking with you. Please keep us in the loop about Al, and I want to be first to know when you finally meet this living legend who has millions of fans all around the world. Dare I call him the “Man of Your Dreams?” (laughs)
Sweet dreams, Jackie.
Jackie Krudop: Thanks, Betty. I’m happy to have this chance to share my thoughts about Al Pacino and to talk about Pacino Worldwide. My husband comes first, but in a way, Al is “The Man of My Dreams” because I admire him and his legendary acting. Sweet dreams to you all. It’s been fun…
Pacino lungo Vivo! (Long live Pacino!)
Caitlyn Hunter: We had an unexpected break in our author interviews today so we decided to put up another character interview similar to the one I did in December of last year with Apprentice Angel, Ted “Mac” McNabb, from my book Unwilling Angel. This one is with Marcus Tassel, the hero of my upcoming book Storm Shadows.
Okay, Marc, let’s start this conversation by having you tell us a little bit about yourself.
Marcus Tassel: I guess I should start with the basics; I live on Eternity Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, I’m Cherokee, and I’m a shape-shifter.
CH: A shape-shifter, you mean like a werewolf?
MT: No, that would be my brother Luke. He shifts to a wolf. Me, I turn into a cougar.
CH: How often does this happen?
MT: Whenever I want it to; these days anyway, but back when the Shamans first cursed us—
CH: Wait, us?
MT: Yes, me and my three brothers.
MT: For putting aside our responsibility to our tribe. You see, the Cherokee believe every person has a certain amount of responsibility to their People and my brothers and I turned away from that so the Shamans warned us to straighten up. We ignored their warning, enticed other men to join us, and more or less lived like wild animals for a while. It was all fun until someone died then the Shamans decided they’d had enough and cursed us.
The curse included exile to Eternity Mountain and we’re all shape-shifters; Matt into a bear, me into a cougar, and Luke into a wolf. Poor Jon can shift into just about any animal he wants, which gives him a lot of animals to watch over since part of the curse is protecting the animals we turn into and keeping their habitats on the mountain safe
CH: And when did all this, the curse I mean, happen?
MT: Hundreds of years ago, I’d give you the exact date but even we don’t know when it was. We do know it was before the white man came to live there, back when the only people who walked the Blue Ridge Mountains were the Cherokee and a few other tribes of Native Americans.
CH: Wow, that would make you more than 300 years old, right?
MT: Yeah, about that but like I said, we don’t really know the exact date.
CH: You held up good.
MT: Thank you, immortality has a lot going for it in that respect.
CH: Anything else we should know about the curse?
MT: All of us have psychic abilities, something else I don’t think the Shamans intended, but we all have them. We can read each other’s minds and the minds of most people we meet. I’m also, to a certain extent, precognitive, meaning I sometimes know what’s going to happen before it happens—but that’s not always a sure thing.
CH: What do you mean by “not always a sure thing?”
Well, take my fiancé, Betty Sue, for instance. She first started showing up in my visions back in the 1960’s and she’s pretty much been a constant visitor in them since then. Only thing was, I never saw her face until I actually met her in real life. All I really remembered about her after a vision was her eyes. She has what I call storm shadow eyes; they’re the color of storm clouds lit from behind by the sun. That was the only thing I remembered—well, that and she was fiercely determined to keep me alive at any cost.
You see, each of the visions, the early ones I mean, had to do with my death and—
CH: Wait, you’re immortal. I thought immortals couldn’t die.
MT: Depends on how you interpret the curse and also how you look at the Cherokee legends. Although the curse hints at immortality, it never comes right out and says we’ll live forever so sometime around 1980 or so, after the fifth time I died, I started doing some research about the legends of the Cherokee. What I found was that some of the People believe that every man is given a certain amount of time to live. Within that time he can be killed over and over but he’ll always come back to life or can be brought back by a ritual performed by his relatives. Until his time is up and then nothing can bring him back.
But I think that one really deals more with reincarnation than anything else. The other theory I found was that each person is given a set number of lifetimes and after they use those up, that’s it.
CH: You mean like a cat having nine lives?
MT: Right, except in Cherokee legend, it’s seven.
CH: So, you’re not sure if you’re immortal or not?
CH: Okay, now on to your story, Storm Shadows—oh, I get where the title came from now. That’s really nice that you would name your story after your fiancé’s eyes. Anyway, it’ll be coming out soon. Can you give us a hint of what it’s about, sort of a summary straight from the horse’s—or cougar’s, I should say—mouth?
MT: Sure, but since you wrote what you call a back story blurb, can I just read that? I’ll probably go into a lot of detail that’s better left for the reader to find out when they read.
CH: That works for me. Go ahead.
Betty Sue’s grandfather calls her a “pert-near” woman, meaning everything about her is ordinary, maybe even a little dull. When her friend, Nathan, inadvertently puts her job as a middle-school librarian in danger, he offers her the use of his cabin on Eternity Mountain while she waits for the school board to decide her fate. She accepts, grateful for the chance to chase a dream or two, determined to become something more than a “pert-near” woman.
When she meets Nathan’s blood-brother, Marcus, she’s literally knocked off her feet. And when he tells her the truth about what he is, an immortal shape-shifter living under an ancient curse, Betty Sue doesn’t care; not when he has her dreaming of happily ever after.
Despite being hurt and confused when he tells her he loves her but he can’t ever marry her, Betty Sue risks her life to save him from one of the deadliest creatures on Eternity Mountain. As she recuperates in the hospital, she makes up her mind not to give him up without a fight and with the help of his brothers goes back up the mountain to confront him.
Can Betty Sue snare one of the few remaining cougars in the Blue Ridge Mountains and find her fairy tale ending?
CH: Thank you for being here with us today and sharing a little bit about your life, Marc.
MT: You’re welcome, I enjoyed it.
This week for the Dames’ Dozen, we’re going in a different direction. Instead of interviewing an author, I’m talking with Ted “Mac” McNabb, the main character from my book Unwilling Angel. For those of you who don’t know the story behind this book, I got the idea for writing it when one of my favorite authors passed away back in 2005. A couple of months after that, I had what I call an “Elvis” encounter, only instead of Elvis, I saw a man who bore an uncanny resemblance to the dead author. Being a writer, what else could I do but go home and write about it?
Now that you have the background, let me introduce you to Mac, who came about because of that strange encounter.
First, Mr. McNabb, tell us a little bit about who you are.
I think we know each other well enough for you to call me Mac, after all, if it wasn’t for you my story wouldn’t have ever seen the light of day. But for the benefit of those who don’t know me, when I was alive, I was a best-selling author but now that I’m dead, I’m an Angel…
Okay, okay, don’t get your panties in a wad, Gabe, jeez. And keep the lightning bolts in your pants, for crying out loud.
Excuse me, I should’ve known he’d be listening in.
Gabriel, one of the Archangels, and the bane of my existence. Grumpy Gabe is a stickler for the truth and he’ll nail me with a lightning bolt if I don’t tell you I’m only a lowly Apprentice Angel right now.
What’s an Apprentice Angel?
An Apprentice Angel is sort of an angel-in-training or an angel-intern. We do all the dirty work and the Archangels take all the credit.
I don’t understand.
See, it’s like this, when I died I went to Heaven, which was a bit of a surprise. I kinda thought I’d end up in the other direction, if you know what I mean, but I didn’t. Once I got to Heaven, I had to go through Judgment just like everybody who ends up there. After that, the Archangels told me I had to complete five missions before I could move on to my Personal Heaven. I didn’t have a problem with that, but they send you out on these missions from God without proper training. Just, here’s the client, here’s what needs to happen and bang, you’re back on earth trying to help some poor, sad schmo who doesn’t have a clue who you are or why you’re there. I mean, you’d think they’d give you some pretty intense training before they send you out to change a person’s life, but they don’t, it’s more learn as you go. And let me tell you, when you make a mistake, they really let you know it. About the only good thing about it is you can read the client’s mind so you know what they’re thinking which helps tremendously.
Can you tell us about the missions you’ve been on?
Yeah, my first was in Maine in the dead of winter, well, really, it was at Christmas so not exactly the dead of winter but you could’ve fooled me. Snow up to your eyeballs and colder than a witch’s…um, you know. Anyway, I was sent there to help a woman named Emma Bradshaw get her life back on track. She was terribly unhappy and thinking about suicide until I stepped in and set her straight.
How did you do that?
Can’t tell you, it’s against the rules to share secrets of the trade so if I did tell you, I’d have to kill you…kidding, I’m kidding, Angels don’t kill people, although the Archangels do everything they can to make the afterlife miserable. Let’s just say I convinced her she had something to live for after all. And yes, before you ask, there are rules you have to follow, there’s even an Angel Rule Book, but I can’t talk about that either…unless you’re my next subject and I don’t think you are. At least, if you are, nobody told me.
Is Gabriel your boss?
No, not really, the way it goes is I answer to a different Archangel with each mission. Gabriel was my first then Raphael was the second and I don’t have the faintest idea who’s coming up next; Michael, Uriel, or Haniel—one of those guys.
Okay, five missions, each with a different Archangel. The first one, with Gabriel, was in Maine. What about the second, the one with Raphael?
That one was in Boston in the summer. My subject was Val Cortez, a pitcher for the Red Sox. It was, to say the least, a bit of a challenge for me since I’m a diehard New York Yankees fan but I did what I had to do and got ‘er done.
What happens between the missions? Do you go back to Heaven?
Nope, I go to some sort of Angel Limbo. That’s a term I made up for the waiting period between missions. When I’m there, I’m not aware of anything; it’s sort of like being in a deep coma. Either that or the Archangels are powerful enough to play around with time, and I don’t go anywhere, they just immediately send me to my next mission.
To tell the truth, I’m still trying to figure out what happens. My mind’s not geared to sci-fi, I was a mystery writer, you know, so all this space travel and time travel is Greek to me but I think the Archangels know not just what’s already happened but what’s going to happen in the future, and they can send me wherever and whenever I’m needed to complete all the missions that will achieve what they want in the end.
That probably doesn’t make sense but all my missions are tied together and if I’m successful, it means the thing the Archangels want to happen in the future will actually happen.
Let me see if I have this right, if you’re successful on all of your mission it won’t only help your subjects, it’ll also ensure that something that needs to happen in the future does happen. Right?
Give the lady a cigar. The Archangels have a plan and I’m the ace up their sleeve because if I don’t get it right, the world’s going to come to an end or something. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect it has something to do with an alien encounter sometime in the far distant future, but like I said, I’m not geared for all this sci-fi stuff so I could be wrong.
Okay, so your next mission will involve someone who is connected in some way with your first two subjects, Emma Bradshaw and Val Cortez?
Possibly, but I don’t really know. Emma and Val never met, hell, they probably don’t even know the other one’s alive, unless Emma’s a Red Sox fan, which is entirely possible since she lives in Maine. But that’s neither here nor there, the point I’m trying to make is the next subject could be anywhere, at any time. See, Emma was writing a book which needs to be read by a group of teenagers sometime in the future. Part of my mission was to make sure she finished the book. As for Val, he was having marital problems because of some stupid decisions he made pertaining to baseball and my mission was to get him on the right track professionally which would in turn solve his marital problems. So, my guess is the Archangels needed him to get back together with his wife for procreation purposes, if you get my drift.
I think I do, the Archangels were trying to make sure the Cortez line continued because some future Cortez is an important part of whatever they need to happen
Yep, hey, you’re a pretty smart chickie aren’t you?
Thank you. One last question and then I’ll let you go back to…wherever you were before the Archangels brought you here. What do you miss most now that you’re dead?
I think you know the answer to that, writing. I miss my wife, Carmelita, too, but mostly I miss writing. Of course, after I get three more missions under my belt, I’ll be able to write again. I just hope when I get to that point, I’ll leave the clichés behind. You noticed that nasty little habit, didn’t you?
Yes, I did.
Figured, you’re a writer and any writer worth their salt knows that using a bunch of clichés is tantamount to tattooing “Amateur” on your forehead—or on the cover page of your manuscript, as the case may be. Am I right or am I right?
I’d have to agree with you on that one.
Okay, so, before I died, I avoided clichés like the plague but since I’ve been dead, I spout them off with a regularity that’s frightening. I mean, it’s like I can’t say one sentence without throwing out at least one. It’s frustrating but I can’t seem to help myself and I think it’s the Archangels’ fault.
I noticed you also use quite a few –ly words which is another thing writers shouldn’t do. Is that the Archangels’ fault too?
Yep, I do. Hey, wait a minute, you created me, or you brought me back to life after I died so you created my Angel character. Right?
I did, yes.
So maybe it’s you making me do this. Is it?
Well, after I saw you, or I guess I should say, someone who looked enough like you to be your twin, I thought it might be kind of fun to give you a few quirks which I was positive you didn’t have in real life. So I decided to have you do things that all authors know are forbidden, like using a lot of clichés and –ly words. I can change it in the next book if you like though I’d really like to stay true to that aspect of your character. It’s kind of liberating for me as a writer, but I guess it can be changed, if you’d really like me to.
Hell, no, it is kind of fun, but if you tell Grumpy Gabe I said that, I’m going to come back from the grave and haunt you till it’s your time to kick the bucket.
Fair enough, I wouldn’t mind having a best-selling author looking over my shoulder. I’ve enjoyed our talk, Mac, and I look forward to working with you again on your next story.
Hey, do you know where I’m going next?
Yes, I do, but I’m not telling. By the way, how do you feel about vampires?
Vamps are okay…as long as they don’t sparkle.
Nope, no sparkling, I can promise you that.
Alrighty then, thanks for getting me out of limbo. Are you sure you don’t have any other questions? I’d be happy to stay here and chew the fat with you for…oh crap, I guess not. Excuse me, seems I’m being called home to the angels…
Unwilling Angel is available in ebook at Red Rose Publishing, Fictionwise, B&N, and for Amazon’s Kindle, and other online e-tailers. It is a heartwarming Christmas story along the line of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and and at $2.99–or less, depending on where you buy–it would make a great “virtual” stocking-stuffer!
The second book in the series, Unruly Angel, is finished but I haven’t decided what I want to do with it yet. Stay tuned…