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Wednesday, July 25, 2012 47 comments

Morgan Shamy: The 2012 Guest Interview


It is my honor to present this guest interview with the Fabulous. Red. Head, aka Morgan Shamy.
(Morg is a former ballerina turned YA writer and author of SHADOW WATCHERS, inkpop’s No.1 top pick for Jan. 2010.

She is also wife to Mr. Morgan J, (an amazing X-Games gold medalist) and Mom to four little ankle biters.)

 Here are my ten $6,400 questions:

1.      Your current work revolves, in part, around the world of ballet. How long did you dance before hanging up your pointe shoes?

Ohhh man. Ballet was my world. I started when I was four, and danced hard-core up into college. Danced alongside the big professional company here in Utah for seven years and then traded the stage for teaching. 
I taught around 300 students per week until a couple years ago—until I knew I wanted to be home with the kids full time. It didn’t take long for my creative juices to get antsy… that’s when I discovered writing…

The Morg-inator... Climbing Upside Down in a Utah Canyon

2.      You and Mr. Morgan must have an interesting story on how you met – he being an X-gamer and you a former dancer. Can you share how you guys met?

Hubs and I met our junior year in HS, in Chemistry class. *Insert chemistry joke here* It quite literally was a Bella/Edward thing: where the wind blew my hair as I walked in and he stiffened in his seat… I couldn’t keep my eyes off him and he stared me down like I was something he wanted to eat for breakfast…

Okay, not *quite* like that, but you get the idea. We had an immediate connection. We dated. I ran away to San Francisco with him when he won the Gold medal in speed climbing for the U.S. Just your usual teen story.

3.      You had four kids by the age of twenty-nine and still have time to smile, respond to email and write. HOW do you find time to write? Seriously??
I have the uncanny ability to flip in and out of my MS periodically through the day. When my eyes hit the document, I’m in the world wholly and completely. Until five seconds later when someone is screaming and needs another bowl of cereal. ;) I work whenever and however I can.

I have though gone through different trial and error phases. With my first MS, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. six days a week and wrote until the kids got up. Now I stay up until one or two at night to get the work done. (Those nighttime hours are magic… I highly recommend them!)

4.      You’ve been handed $5,000 with no strings attached – and no obligation to pay it back. What would you do?
I’d go to Hawaii! (I hear there are some great Irish writers there.) But truth? I’d probably do something boring like pay off medical bills or something :P
(Don't believe what that Leprechaun says :)

5.      Have you always wanted to write – and if so, can you recall the first story you ever finished?
Always wanted to write? Bah! Not at all. I didn’t like to read until my adult years! How awful is that? Though I did find a story I wrote in 3rd grade the other day… and Mark, seriously. It was amazing. (It was about these 3 rings that held power. I think Tolkien ripped off my 3rd grade paper) I kid, but I believe writing has always been a part of my life without me being aware.

So yes, my first story was written a couple of years ago and the horror of what it was is still fresh in my memory. ;)

6.      If not a writer, you would be a … or a …, but *never* a ….
I would be teaching ballet, or maybe hubs and I would become rock-climbing bums…

But I could never be a stunt water-skier performer for a show in Sea World. Ha. Or anything involving water sports or sun. Sooooo not me. I seriously need to move to the upper Northwest or Ireland or something, where it’s always overcast. ;)

7.      Why not?
Oh! Answered above. LOL

8.      What are looking forward to reading next – and why?
Your next blog post, because they’re hilarious and meaningful. Book-wise? My favorite author is Diana Gabaldon… cannot *wait* until the next book in the Outlander series comes out!
(Man-blushes ...)

9.      How do you respond to blank/polite looks when you tell people you’re a writer?
Hahahaha! Never had the blank/polite look before.
Though I do get the bazillion questions that come from trying to explain the world. Words like “querying” and “submission” and answering why I haven’t been published yet are difficult to spell out.
While I respect self-pubs a great deal, I want to go the traditional route—and most people don’t understand the process.
Morgan & (Right Side Up) Mr. Morgan :)

10.  You seem to have figured how to get writing things done on a daily basis. What words of wisdom could you share on staying motivated – especially when life seems to get in the way of writing America’s. Next. Great. Novel?
LOL to the “Next. Great. Novel.”

But, there’s no shortcut to writing.

It literally is one word at a time over and over and over again.

Are you willing to put in the work?

Simple as that.

Write when you feel like it.

Write when you don’t feel like it.

Write when you’re too tired to write, and when you’d rather be doing something else.

It takes sacrifice, and you have to be willing to make it.

(Yes, I know I’m not there yet, but as I look back on my three-year journey, the leaps I’ve made are astounding.)
Hopefully in another three years I’ll be able to say the same thing. It’s a journey, and no matter where you are in the process, the best thing you can do is connect yourself with good people, smile, and get to work.

There now. That’s what I’m talking about, people!!!
Thanks, Morg, for being a true inspiration to me and other writers – on many different levels.

You can catch Morgan Shamy’s latest posts here.

 Bald. Guy. Out.

Friday, July 20, 2012 24 comments

An Open Letter to Our 5-year-old Son

Hey Son,

It’s getting close to July 21, 2012, and 2:23 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
Jan. 2007: After years of heartache, meet our Miracle Angel

I’m sitting in an uncomfortable recliner, thinking back five years to when I sat in such a chair while your mother and I waited for you to head down your first slide.

We’d arrived at Wilford Hall at about 5 p.m. that Friday, and after watching seven, eight episodes of Deadliest Catch, our doctor, who wanted to give your Mama the best possible chance of a natural birth, didn’t like how you and the Pitocin interacted.

It was a quiet night, so when Doc made the call to do an emergency C-section, everything changed in a heartbeat.

One minute it’s 2:23 a.m.
The next it was 3:12 a.m.

14 Hours Old.
Tears fell from my eyes as I saw and heard you for the first time. (I held you first only because Mama had surgery… but you were in her arms, all 3lbs, 7oz of you hours later.
FYI, Son, never forget your roots. You're a Texan with a heart the size of the Lone Star State. The world is a better place because of the love you share.

Here are a few things I will never forget:
·         Taking your first steps in San Antonio, throwing your first snowball in Rhode Island and body surfing your first wave in Hawaii

Age One
·         It took two-and-a-half years, but I’ll never forget your first words. Mama and I were so excited. Now, we’re worried you’ll never take a breath!

·         Rocking you to sleep – because I’ll never get the chance to do that again.

·         The first time your little chubby fingers grabbed ahold of my shirt and wouldn’t let go – you may laugh, but once you were a little squirmy, squiggly snake.

·         Feeding mama’s milk and bottles of formula at 5 a.m. because you are a picky eater and won’t eat much. (Sigh, some things don’t change J)

Age Two
·         I’ll never forget the first time you willingly told me that I was your best pal, because I was used to being introduced as “Papa, my friend."

·         Playing hide and seek with you, because one day you might not take my call.

·         The joy on your face when you discovered the freedom of crawling, because now I’m always reminding you to slow down at the playroom.

·         The rush of love when you smile and give me a hug – by the way, there’s no time limit on this one – I still love your hugs J

I also wanted to offer you my five wishes for your fifth Birthday (and beyond):

·         May you remain a child of God, and may you write a letter to your grandkids.

·         Do to others what you would have them do to you.

·         May you always have a love for learning.

·         May your touch be gentle, your words firm and your heart strongest.

·         May you always be your own man – but never one afraid to ask for guidance.
Age Three

When I was younger, Howard Jones was one of my favorite singers – I still have his 1985 Calendar. Howard wrote (and sings) this song, Soon You’ll Go, and I dedicate this song to you now, and in the future.

This second song was originally by Bob Dylan, and below is the Rod Stewart version.
(Yes, I used to have hair like that – and yeah, I do miss holding you , too.)

I wish only the best for you and your brothers, so may you always stay Forever Young.

Age Four

Son, I loved you the first moment I saw you.
I love you now, Buddy, and I’ll love you well past the last time I ever see you.

Love you always,

Papa (and Mama :)

And, finally, a quote.
“…this is the lesson: Never give in. Never give in.
Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.
Never yield to force.
Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
- Winston Churchill, Oct. 29, 1941

Happy Fifth Birthday, Son :)

Monday, July 16, 2012 17 comments

Social Media: Am I Deluding - or Diluting Myself?


 Away for a two-week, unscheduled “blog post sabbatical,” I'm happy to report my non-attendance was an absence that made my WIP grow fonder J

It was also a stress-releaser discovering the Blogisfear didn’t implode because I hadn’t posted for a dozen days.

 Anyhow, I was thinking about Social Media, and how we can use many varied websites to promote ourselves and our work, aka The Brand.

No One Wants To Follow Me...

That begged the questions: Am I on too many sites, or not enough? Am I deluding or diluting myself?

Leaving out Blogger, ‘cos you’re here, I will gently review some of the many ways to brand yourself, and share my unscientific, non-technical knowledge of each.

 (I will, however, exclude the obvious way of branding that necessitates the involvement of an authentic cowboy, a blowtorch, hot irons and a set of tongs.)

In less than 140 words, what is Twitter?

Imagine joining a happy party, filled with different people. Everyone is atwitter and the conversations are fast, flowing – perhaps even somewhat hard to follow.

Then, you spot a friend and follow her to a group you both know. Heading there, you both share a highlight of each other’s day – that’s tweeting.

Later, you hear a snatch of interesting conversation and decide to share it with other friends – that’s a Retweet or “RT” if you’re running short of your 140 character max.

Say another friend invites you to tag along during an ongoing conversation in the kitchen – that’s the hash tag (#) in action.

What is Facebook?


I’m not even linking this. I know it’s on your favorites list J

What is LinkedIn?

“OK, OK, OK,” he said, arms in the air – in a voice reminiscent of Leo Getz.

This was the first Social Media site I joined – even before Blogger.

When I signed up, I was excited! LinkedIn was the bee’s knees and it probably still is, for many.

It’s a fantastic way to network, but LinkedIn has lost much of its initial buzz as I’ve embraced Blogger and Twitter.

Perhaps I will use/need it in the future, but for now, I’ve found I can do all my networking via my blog (comments and follows) and Twitter (via Tweets and follows.)

What is Pinterest?

Honestly, I didn’t know much about this platform – but I do now!!! Read this post (and others) from August McLaughlin, who is my now my official Pinterest Heroine.

What is Google+? (And am I even calling it by its right name?)

I had no idea, but several people had invited me to join, so for the sake of taking one for the team, I signed up while writing this… hang on for a moment…

(Thanks to the Power of The Internets, we iZoom you ten minutes into the future…)

Google+ looks like a mix between FB, Twitter and Blogger (all the peeps I was recommended to connect with are folks I follow in Blogger…)
Therefore, it seems a little redundant to me… but we’ll see if there’s room for Like-able friends and followers in my circle…
Will the circle expand if more +’ers join?
What if it doesn’t?
How are we going to move about…?
Although, if the size of the profile pic on the homepage is anything to go by…we should be OK.

One final thought…

A Letter Written by the Former Private Ryan
Another reason for this topic is because I received a typewritten letter the other day.

Written by U.S. Army CSM (ret.) William “Bill” Ryan, a WWII Veteran of D-Day I once featured in a Florida newspaper, Bill’s letter made my week for many reasons, including the fact that the last typewritten letter I received was about thirty-five years ago from my Dutch Oma.

And think about it... Using an old typewriter to write a letter to a friend or colleague…  now that’s social media!

To answer the begged questions: I’m not deluding myself by being out there in the Blogisfear, but I’ll concentrate (and not dilute myself) with Blogger and Twitter - for now :)

What say you? Are you Tweeting? I’m @markjkoopmans

Hey, when I'm 86, I hope I have half of Bill's Joie de Vivre :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 22 comments

Fourth of July: Happy Birthday & Thank You, America

Happy 236th Birthday, America!
It’s Independence Day (and Insecure Writer’s Support Group day) but I’d like to share what the Fourth of July means to me – an Irish immigrant who became a naturalized citizen nine years ago – yesterday (July 3.)

For the actual ceremony, my wife wore her Navy dress whites uniform, hoping that, as an officer, she could swear me in, but there were 2,700 new citizens, so a judge was in charge!

I’ll never forget when he stood up to give us a round of applause as he officially welcomed us as the nation's newest Americans.
My wife’s parents brought patriotic balloons and gave me a red, white and blue lei, which I wore at work, and all the way until midnight on the Fourth :)

Many have asked why here?
Why America?

In response, I had a long winded, verbal “blog post,” until one night a light went off as I turned the question on this one dude.

“Have you ever been outside the States?”

“OK, well then, you’d never understand. Go visit somewhere else, and when you come back, we can talk.”

If you’ve never been out of the USA, you can’t understand what it means to come back to the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

I found this little, tattered flag after 9/11. I can't get rid of it...

(Embedded as a reporter on a trip to Haiti for several days, the first thing I did upon returning (even before showering,) was kiss Old Glory as she waited in the garage for the next sunrise. Then, I thanked God and counted my many, many blessings.)

(That’s how I still feel, but I can’t imagine how awesome it must be for each and every service member who comes home from a deployment…)

I LOVE showing my American passport when I go through Customs, especially in Ireland, because I still have a wee bit of the Oirish accent, and it always throws the officer off for a few seconds… ;)

So, while millions consider themselves Irish-American, I know I’m American-Irish.

As I live my version of the American Dream, some “firsts” (in +/- chronological order) I will never forget include:

·         Being interviewed by an armed Federal Agent at Dulles Airport (about thirty minutes after I landed) due to a clerical error – on my part :)

·         Getting nearly kicked out of the country until above error was found to be legit. (That tale is a post all of its own J)

·         Seeing the Stars and Stripes flying outside someone’s house in Fairfax, Virginia.

·         Watching and moving away as an old Veteran found his buddy on the Vietnam Wall…

·         Getting my first driver’s license in Key West, Florida (the tester was heavily pregnant... I don't think I drove over 13 mph...)

Road Trip: Chicago to first CA Sunset, 2000
·         Going to my first ballgame at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (It’s all about the BleachersJ)

·         Travelling through the Badlands of South Dakota and marveling at Mount Rushmore.

·         Flying the flag the day my wife and I moved into our first home in Florida.

·         Surviving four major hurricanes in six weeks (Summer 2004, in “sunny” Florida…)

·         Voting for the first time (as I drove my Mustang down the street, I had the windows down and Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA cranked up J)

·         Freezing my butt off at Niagara Falls.

·         Hearing a group of kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

·         Holding my first ever published magazine article in Newport Beach, California.

·         Watching the birth of No. 1 Son in San Antonio, Texas.

·         Eating my first hot dog from a street vendor in New York City.

·         Getting goose bumps seeing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

·         Enjoying my first bottle of Samuel Adams in Boston.

·         Scared out of my wits at the Grand Canyon (yes, I climbed out onto one of those rock ledges…)

 Things I Miss and People I Wish I’d Known:

·         Watching Congress live in 1996 – without the hassle of uber security procedures.

·         The Twin Towers.

·         The young Marine Sgt. and U.S. Army Capt. whose family members I interviewed after the pair died in separate incidents during the war in Iraq.

·         What Joplin, MO, must have looked like prior to the tornadoes that took more than 150 lives in 2011.

 America the Brave:
Sure, things aren’t perfect, but after driving across the United States five times (and counting), staying at least one night in thirty-five states and interviewing dozens of military service members, firefighters, police officers and EMTs, I can’t think of another place I want to live.

My heart swells with pride when I hear the good we do, and my knees buckle at the horrors we commit against one another, but still, there is no place like home…

There’s no place like home… no place like home...

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