This is where the really red hot interviews from this week end up! What do you need to do to get here? Just come along and talk with me and tell me about your book(s). If I am excited, then I will be the first to tell you! Nick’s Pick will be updated every week– but once your interview is deemed hot– it will never leave this page!
Wednesday, 13th February, 2013
When a new idea comes into play people don’t always take to it. Change is difficult and sometimes the hardest change is enacted only through necessity. Interviewing Ken Howard was one of those times I realised how backward we are in some ways. We still use some of the most outdated technology in our work. It takes vision to know the way to go. Read my conversation with Ken and you may well see that future paths are already envisioned– Ken wants to share his vision with you all…
Q) Hi, Ken, great to meet you! So tell me all about yourself.
A) I was born on July 9, 1958, the youngest of three brothers in Northern Virginia. I spent many a beautiful summer weekend camping in Ocean City, Maryland and whiling away time fishing on the banks of the Potomac in Patuxent River. I went to a private school and then I graduated from a college prep school in beautiful Breton Bay, Maryland– oh boy, back in 1976. Upon graduating in 1976, I attended a four year mechanical course at a union school and I achieved proficiency in math and sciences. Then in 1981, I graduated and landed on my feet working in the field of refrigeration, air conditioning, mechanical engineering, and hydronic systems.
I guess being the youngest brother I was always told, “You can’t do that,” and I always answered back, “Yes, I can.”
Q) Would you say that a “yes, I can” attitude has helped you achieve through your life?
A) Yes, very much so. The attitude “yes, I can” has been my modus operandi because I was always told that I couldn’t do it and I always proved them wrong in the end. I always strove to show them that I could do it and I often amazed many of my peers and my family members. I don’t let anything get in my way and I do not take no for an answer. I always think outside the box.
Q) Tell me about some challenges you faced and how you dealt with them?
A) I’ve always been a mover and a shaker in my industry of heating and air conditioning. I’m always looking to achieve alternative or sustainable methods; always looking for a better way to do things and change conventions, so I have always been challenged. However, the biggest challenge I ever had to overcome when I was about thirty years old. I had always wanted to go to Australia to live and work there and I made that dream come true in 1990.
I was in Washington, DC and found the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper to look for jobs. After spending approximately $800 faxing my resume, I found several companies that were more than glad to hire me and one wanted me, in particular. The company was called Complete Engineering and was based out of Sydney, Australia. I was extremely delighted with them; but even more so when they sponsored me into the country.
Q) Why did you choose Australia? What made Australia the obvious choice for you?
A) I love the people of Australia. I love the country, I love the work ethic there, I love everything about that country. Although it was quite an adventure, my gut did get homesick. Being the baby and the youngest, I got homesick after a while and came back to the States.
I actually think one of the next biggest challenges that I faced was probably a short time after I got back from Australia– maybe about six months or year later– I got the urge to travel and I got a job in Panama. I got my Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and refrigeration & air-conditioning, and hydronic systems– building automation systems. The area I really like is sustainable energy and sustainable infrastructure.
Q) That is the subject of your latest book, correct? Sustainable energy and infrastructure?
A) Yes, that is correct, Nick.
Q) What is sustainable energy and infrastructure?
A) Well, that’s a great question! Here we are in the 21st-century, two decades past 1990, and we are using global positioning systems and satellites and we are talking at the speed of light, literally, through fiber-optic cables; yet were traveling on 150-year old roads. Why is that?
Sustainable infrastructure is infrastructure that has zero carbon footprint. We can build better energy systems and we can build better transportation systems that are much faster. It’s the future.
Q) Your book is basically a blueprint for the evolution of our technology, then?
A) Yes, exactly right. It’s evolution. That is a great way of describing it. The Cro-Magnon man, for example, was inferior to the Neanderthal; but the Neanderthal did not have the brainpower of the Cro-Magnon man. The Cro-Magnon man with his technology moved on and progressed and that’s what we must do. We have the technology to do it. This is a vision that is within our grasp.
Q) So would you say it’s true that the world we live in is rather “Neanderthal” compared to what it could be?
A) Yeah, we are flying around in airplanes that are constantly delayed from weather and all types of other reasons. It costs tremendously more to do so than if we were using the technology that is already out there and ready to use.
Q) In your new book, Internomics: The Lateral Collective Interface, you explain how we can modernise the world. Where do we start?
A) There is a technology that Westinghouse has already developed and is already in use in a dozen locations worldwide. It basically takes our garbage landfills and converts that garbage into energy. That is the way of the future, Nick!
This technology is called plasma enhanced metal and basically it uses the fourth state of matter which is a plasma field. Plasma is the forestay to matter; any material you put through it gets broken down to the atomic level and can be reconfigured into any other useful material that we need.
It’s estimated that we have 4000 landfills across the country and every one of these landfills could be converted. We could supply 100% of overall fuel needs, electrical needs, and many material resource needs from these landfills. This is the kind of evolution my book explains. The evolution that will allow us to move in new and exciting directions.
Q) This is fascinating, but I have one big question. Why haven’t our governments bought into this new idea?
A) It’s the same old song and dance, Nick. The powers that currently exist do not like change. No one likes change, they resist change. It’s like Gandhi once said, “The first day they ridicule, and then that make fun of it, then they attack it, and then they accept.” The four stages that people go through when they resist.
Additionally, you have to realize that the current infrastructure that’s in place right now is the hydrocarbon society is basically saying, “I have a deal set up with the government. We are making money and we won’t turn our backs on that.” Change takes time, I am afraid, Nick.
Q) Have you discussed this at any length with any politicians? It would be interesting to hear their excuses.
A) No, I have not tried to speak to politicians about this. I just to wrote the book to get the idea out there. The book tells it pretty much as it is and I think it can do well. If the people want the technology then they will have it. It is my plan to make sure the facts are known and out there.
Q) Your focus is to educate people about the possibilities? That’s all?
A) No. Not what can be. I am telling them what already exists. These technologies already exist in plants that are working worldwide right now and they are profitable. They have made money from day one; they do not need subsidies. These technologies that I speak about in the book are real and it’s not what we could be doing, it’s what we already have. I just want us to do it!
Q) What do you hope to achieve with your book? Do you think you can get this out there and make an impact?
A) I hope to educate people that this technology exists right now. It is off-the-shelf ready to go. Companies are ready and all we need to do is have the political will and the people to get behind it and get their Congressmen and Senators and tell them that this is a way for America to be number one.
Q) Well, I’m impressed! The world will be a different place when all this happens. Where can people get Internomics:The Lateral Collective Interface?
A) The paperback book is available online at Amazon.com. It is also available on my website. The e-book will be available in about one week. I’m doing all this myself– I built the website and designed the cover jacket, too!
Q) Are you embarking on a lecture tour? This sounds like the perfect enterprise to tour with.
A) Yes, I will do lectures; as a matter-of-fact, I’ve already spoken to one gentleman who’s a professor at George Mason University and he’s going to be contacting me to speak to him and some his students. So, yes, I’m open to doing lectures and I can do a PowerPoint presentation for thirty minutes to an hour.
Q) Thank you for your time, Ken.
A) My pleasure, Nick! People can go to the website and get a pretty good feel for what the book is about.
Well, you heard it here! The resources are out there to turn our garbage into energy. Read Ken’s book and support a worthwhile enterprise for our future.
Friday, 8th February, 2013
Matt Johnson Takes to the Court with His New Book
Matt Johnson approached me for an interview. I was having my usual night in with a beer and a few books– did I want to do an interview about his new book? Well, yes… It literally took seconds and said yes. We sat down at around 1am my time and Matt answered all my questions with honesty and precision. The book is about basketball and if there’s one thing I love reading about, it’s sports. Sit down and watch as Matt breathlessly works his way through an interview about his true loves– basketball and writing.
A) I wrote a book because it has always been one of my dreams. I have always enjoyed being creative and have had a goal of being an author for a few years now. I also love basketball and wanted to write about something that I am passionate about.
Q) You love basketball, too? Tell me what started your love of the game.
A) Oh boy. I would have to say that it started when I was about eight years old. I would play with my older brothers, Kent and Brian, in our driveway. Then I played for some YMCA teams and all the way up a bit in high school. I love watching it, reading about it, and playing it. It has brought me so many memories, friendships, and happy times.
Q) It sounds like, in a way, basketball helped shape your personality. Would you agree with that statement?
A) Yes, it is a big part of my life. So many aspects of basketball make up my personality. The competitiveness, the hard work it takes to be a good player, and just the love of taking on a challenge. I felt the same way in writing my book, The Biggest What-If’s in Los Angeles Lakers History. It was a challenge and one that I relished.
Q) Can you tell me about the biggest challenge you have faced in your life so far?
A) The biggest challenge of my life is helping others and being the person that I know God wants me to be. I think we all have the potential to do great things on this planet, but sometimes we fall short for whatever reason. We tell ourselves we are not good enough. I think it is important to look inside and see the potential we each have. We can each make a difference in our communities and our families. That is what life is all about.
Q) Well said! So do you spend a lot of time working with your community?
A) I try to. I have done various things, such as coaching a youth basketball team. I went on a church mission to Houston, Texas and tried to help the people there. I just enjoy helping people. It helps me forget about my own problems or worries.
Q) You sound like the all-American boy to me. Tell me about your writing process. Do you write at night? During the day? With music?
A) Ha, well thank you. I like to write at night. I am a night owl. I typically don’t write with music, as I find that the background noise muddies up my thoughts. Every now and then, I will turn on some music and just relax as I write, though.
Q) Sounds to me like you take your writing seriously. Let’s talk some more about your book. Is it about the strategy of basketball? The history? Your experiences on the court?
A) It is a hypothetical look at “what-if” scenarios of the basketball team, the Los Angeles Lakers. It poses questions that fans would find interesting and would enjoy debating. For instance, “What if Magic Johnson had played long enough to have played alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant?” It’s just fun questions like that to ponder in your head.
Q) Los Angeles Lakers– you’re Californian?
A) No! Far from it, although my girlfriend is from Los Angeles and my dad grew up near there. I am actually from South Dakota. It was my dad that passed on his love of the Lakers to me.
Q) About the Lakers, do you follow them solely or do you like other teams, too?
A) I root for the Lakers because I love their tradition and many of the players they have had. So I root for them above any other team; but as a basketball fan, I do appreciate talent. I also like the Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks, but the Lakers are my one true love.
Q) Let’s talk about the impact of your book. How are people taking to it so far?
A) Well, it just came out this morning and so far the sales have been a bit disappointing, but it is early. It is a short book meant to entertain, so I hope people realize that. I have received a lot of support from my friends and it has garnered some “likes” on Facebook, so hopefully people will enjoy it.
Q) I am sure sales will pick up! Give it time! Where can readers get it?
A) I haven’t set up a facebook page yet, but I am in the process of it. If anybody wants to buy the book, they can do so at CreateSpace and it will be available in the next week on Amazon.com. The best way to contact me is to add me on Facebook, or visit me at my portfolio, http://mgjportfolio.weebly.com/
Q) Well, I will be getting a copy! What do you like to do outside of sports and writing, Matt?
A) I love spending time with my family. I have two older brothers (one of which actually helped me put this book together) and two younger sisters, and parents that I actually get along with! Imagine that, haha. I also love playing guitar. I am just a beginner but it is a lot of fun. I love watching movies, especially thrillers. You will often find me in the gym or on the basketball courts, of course.
Contact Matt on Facebook or at his portfolio, listed above.
Wednesday 22nd January 2013
I Want To Tell You A Story: Nick Wale Meets Gary Hayes!
Author Gary Hayes came to me on Sunday and told me he was finally ready for an interview. I was ready, he was ready and my proofreader was ready. We started chatting and soon I could see that this was going to be one great interview. This week, I decided to make Novel Ideas better. I needed an interview for the “Hot Picks” page and who better than a talented author like Gary Hayes? Let Gary tell his story to you!
Q) Great to meet you Gary– so how did you get mixed up in this crazy world of writing?
A) I’ve been writing for about 30 years, all my life really, but I took several years off to pursue a Music degree and a Martial Arts career. Yeah, I know, doesn’t seem compatible, but you’d be surprised at the similarities.
Q) Could you tell me about the similarities? I’m sure readers would love to know how it feels to connect all of those arts. This may be a pioneering thought– martial arts and writing together!
A) I’m a pianist/keyboard player, and much of what you do in practice is getting your fingers to obey your mind. Lots of repetition, techniques, strengthening the muscles, etc. Then in performance, it’s all about flowing with the music, reading the other performers, adjusting to what they are doing.
In Martial Arts, it’s exactly the same. A good fighter is like a good musician. Preparation by learning techniques and strengthening the necessary muscles. Then learning to read your opponent, anticipating his moves, going with the flow of the fight.
Many things learned in one discipline translates easily to the other, if you look at it right.
Q) Do you believe good writing skills take time to learn– like the skills used in martial arts or those used by musicians?
A) Absolutely. Although some people are born storytellers, the mechanics of writing is a learned thing. And the better one understands how to express certain ideas and feelings, the better the story flows.
I’m still learning about commas. Nasty little buggers.
Q) Talking about commas, do you use a proofreader? Do you use an editor? Do you agree that writers should use professional help?
A) Personally, I need all the help I can get. I’m in a professional writers group called Dark River Writers. Each person in the group has published professionally. Some, like Brad Strickland, have sold many, many books and stories. Brad is also an English professor at North Georgia College. Everyone in the group has read my stuff and made numerous corrections. I’m still fighting typos though. Even after repeated readings by professionals they just keep sneaking in.
Q) I have the same problem. I always use an editor for these interviews. Nothing worse than a badly written interview, eh? Can you tell me about your latest book? What is it called?
A) My most recent novel, out just this week, is Beneath Castle Walls, Book 4 in my serialized novel Sleag’s Quest. It’s an epic fantasy with what I hope are some interesting differences from typical fantasy stories.
Q) Interesting title! What is “Sleag’s Quest” about?
A) Sleag, the greatest warrior in the world, is forced to rescue his wife and son from an evil wizard who has taken over her kingdom. He assembles a band of colorful characters, a stable boy, an innkeeper, a powerful witch and her equally powerful teenage daughter, and a master swordsman who all agree to help him on his rescue quest. Things get complicated very quickly.
Q) Do you believe that “Sleags Quest” is your best work so far?
A) Yeah, and getting better with every typo. Ha. I started it about ten years ago and the more I live with it, the more I see interesting things to bring out. It’s like the Star Trek movie Wrath of Kahn at the end when Spock says, “Remember.” That was not in the original script and just sort of a throw away Nemoy came up with. Then it becomes a whole ‘nother movie.
I keep finding things like that in Sleag all the time that make the book oh so much richer. I love it when things from early on all come together at the end.
Q) Tell me about your writing process. How do you write? Do you like music in the background? What helps you get into the writer’s groove?
A) I’m a seat-of-my-pants writer. I don’t like doing an outline, although I’ve found that my first draft is actually a very long outline. Music, yeah, got to have music. But nothing with lyrics, too distracting. I like to hear the words in my head and often speak them aloud. Rhythm and flow is so important to my writing. I don’t like clunky sentences. But after 30 years of writing, all it takes to get me in the groove is sitting down and hitting those keys.
Q) Tell me about your personal publishing experience. What turned you onto the Kindle Direct Program?
A) Well, this is my first published book. It runs about 225,000 words. Agents and editors I contacted all said it was too big to take a chance on. One agent actually said books that big intimidated him. This surprised me because most fantasy books are real door-stoppers. So, after years of shopping it around I decided to serialize it and go with Amazon’s Kindle Direct program.
So far, I am very pleased. It’s selling better than I expected, and I still have two more books to go in the series. So, yeah, I’m very proud of Sleag’s Quest. I think I’ve got some really great covers, too. It’s the kind of book I would love to read.
Q) So what tempted you to come over and get interviewed by me? Did you see my previous work?
A) Yes. I’ve read several interviews. And of course I get your Facebook posts. I’ve always believed that books are the best, most fun, most interesting, most rewarding things anyone can buy. Everyone should be excited about books. Everyone should do all they can to help other writers. I used to work for Waldenbooks (15 years) and I loved turning people on to new writers and having them come back and buy more of the same. So, I really appreciate what you do. It’s a joy, pure joy to read about new writers.
Q) Talking of loving books! Who are your own favourite authors?
A) Long, long list all over the map. Starting with Dickens, Shakespeare, Jack London, Vern and Wells, and moving on to Asimov, Clark, Heinlein, Niven, Norse, Norton, Tolkien, of course, C.S. Lewis, and on and on. More recent: Scott Card, Rothfuss, and especially Scott Lynch. Lies of Locke Lamora is the best thing I’ve read in a long, long time. Oh, and let’s not forget Bradbury!
Q) So how do you feel about writing? Is it a creative need for you? Is it a way to make extra money? What drives you as a writer?
A) Definitely a need. Money is always nice. I’ve made more this past year than any other, mostly on short stories. By the way, I’ve got a Steampunk story coming out in Clockwork Fairytales from Tor in June. It’s a novella, and I’ve very proud of it. I’ve always loved reading, and to be able to write my own stories is wonderful.
Q) What do you personally think about paying for interviews on blogs? Recently, even I have come under fire for being paid to do this. Do you believe interviews should be free?
A) Everybody needs to make a living. When I was in college, I took a piano pedagogy class. It was all about teaching piano. The big thing, the first thing they emphasized was, “Your friends will want you to teach them how to play for free. Do not do it. They will not appreciate what you teach them and they will not practice.” If you worked for a big magazine and got paid for doing interviews it would be different. Somebody has to pay for your time and experience. That’s life. Nothing is free. Live your life and help others as much as you can. Nobody writes for free, at least nobody successful.
Q) What does it feel like to be a published author? Has it changed you in anyway?
A) It’s pretty great to go to a bookstore and see your book, or an anthology with your story, sitting on the shelf. And right now, having a thousand people reading my books is frankly unbelievable. I think it would have been better if it had all happened when I was much younger and could have enjoyed it like in a movie. But, hey, I’ll take it any way I can get it.
Still, it’s always about the next book or story, isn’t it? No matter how great the feeling is now at this moment, I still have so much more to write. Let me tell you a story. . . .
Check out the Sleag’s Quest series below!