Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Joyce Stewart, Author

Joyce Stewart, Author
BBQ Trilogy
THE BBQ: Book 3 - Coming Soon
Joyce Stewart has published two of the three novels in her “BBQ Trilogy” and plans to release the third book mid-year 2015. These novels focus on relationships, and reviewers tout the realism of her characters and their relationships. Stewart appreciates the value that humor brings to character development and believes in the concept of villains and heroes to bring readers into the plot.

Stewart, known for her poetry, has been writing poetry and short stories for ten years. She describes her approach as “edgy inspirational writings.” She also writes, directs, and produces plays; and is talk show host of YouTube Channel “Brides and Wives.”

Q: One of your reviewers says of THE BBQ: FIREWORKS SPARK that it is a  great depiction of relationships good, bad or indifferent. At times, I forgot that these were just characters because their story was real life to me.” How did you create such compelling characters? What made them so real? How were you able to depict such real relationships?

Joyce Stewart: My depiction of real characters is an observation of true to life personalities.  They are based on personal references of strangers, friends, co-workers etc. As a writer you are always absorbing life in “Real Time” as you are going about your day to day experiences.  I was able to dig into my reservoir of imagination to combine what I knew and my “Crazy-zany” imagination to create relationships that people could truly identify with.

Q: You are quoted as saying, “I absolutely loved and hated the process of writing this book.”  What was it about the writing process that you disliked? I know that you also write poetry, which do you prefer writing: poetry or novels? Why?

Joyce Stewart: There were portions concerning the editing and research process that were very new to me and not calculated as a new writer, this became my “Achilles’ heel.”  I definitely prefer writing novels!! Writing novels allowed me to go deeper than just the surface and challenged me to be more than one dimensional.  I had to do my homework. Working with a plot and setting required location, description; and it was very time consuming but I would not trade it for poetry. 

Q: Does the concept of “villains vs heroes” apply to The BBQ Series? What makes a good villain?

Joyce Stewart: Absolutely, it applies to the BBQ Series.  I believe all stories must have good and evil plots or characters to bring the readers interest into play.  My concept of a good villain is one that you can say you may know a woman or man just like them.  They must invoke extreme intense feelings.  They are the ones that you long to see get what’s coming to them.

Q: How helpful is humor in developing your character’s relationships?

Joyce Stewart: Humor, for me is crucial as it brings special kindredness and relatability to a character.  This causes a reader to develop an affection for the story and have more personal interest in how things turn out.

Q: How did you come up with the title The BBQ series and FIREWORKS SPARKS? (Don’t tell us if it’s a plot spoiler!)

Joyce Stewart: I chose this title because it represented something so simple but so engaging simultaneously in regards to the nature or setting of a BBQ.  It didn’t become a series until I came to the last chapter.  I just couldn’t let it go at that point.

Q: What do you consider to be the most important elements of a compelling story?

Joyce Stewart: Choosing characters that are loveable but imperfect, or villainous, but not heartless.  The story line must keep you on the edge chapter after chapter. Having a plot that can be believable without being predictable. 

Q: How helpful are back-story and setting to telling your story? Could your book have occurred anywhere at any time?

Joyce Stewart: For me, they create a beneficial narrative that allows the reader to understand the characters persona.  The BBQ, I feel is more for today’s contemporary woman but it is certainly not limited to this era.

Q: Do you develop your stories from an outline and stick to it; or do your characters push you around?

Joyce Stewart: I make outlines and then make adjustments as I develop my characters.

Q: What’s next?

Joyce Stewart: I’m writing the final volume three as book two launched last year, February 14, 2014 – THE BBQ: LOVER'S HOLIDAY.  I will be completing the trilogy around Memorial Day.  I have many other books on my desktop including a series called “Here Comes the Bride” about five friends and their journey of love relationships.  I also have a book that I will be working on called “My wife, my mistress.”

Q: Tell us about Joyce Stewart. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Joyce Stewart: I love to teach and mentor women.  I’m very active in my church and also am writing, directing and producing plays.

About Joyce Stewart

Joyce C. Stewart, known for her poetry, plays, talk show host of YouTube Channel “Brides and Wives” and founder of The Love Business, has been a mentor, wise counsel to men and women needing a helping hand in the area of relationships especially in the love category. It is no wonder that she delves effortlessly into her “Edgy Christian love stories” which have been called captivating, realistic and teachable tools to use in everyday dating situations. Joyce uses her sense of humor to encourage others to consider their choices and consequences of waiting for the right kind of love - in a teachy but not preachy Christ-Inspired setting. Her first debut in 2012 for the first book, THE BBQ: FIREWORKS SPARK was well received. Since that time, book two THE BBQ: LOVERS HOLIDAY its sequel stirred up even more excitement. Joyce is more than a romance novelist but also travels to do speaking engagements and women conferences (upon request).

Watch for the third book in “The BBQ trilogy” near Memorial Day 2015.

Most people recognize a fork in the road…

Monica had a visible crossroad just up ahead.  As usual, she wasn’t able to view it. Her uncanny ability to turn her peripheral vision on and off at will, distorted her intuitive wisdom; which is why something as simple as a Barbeque with all its queues, clues and even sparks, left her guessing. Life was about to take Monica off the beaten path – right into the world of a Man of Destiny. The only question was “which man” held her future.

This story of integrity, deception and at times, unbridled love can only be unraveled with a trained eye and an unblemished heart. Monica soon learns that emotions are not the best source of measuring the truth.

Excerpt: Chapter 1: The Intro

Monica stood in the kitchen while her mentor, Leslie, talked on the phone to Pastor Richard (Monica’s Godfather). Leslie’s husband, Charles was in the living room glued to the television’s marathon of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Monica lived about fifteen minutes away from Leslie and stopped by her house to drop off her birthday gift. The perfume was her favorite, White Linen by Estee Lauder.
By their conversation, it was obvious that Leslie and Richard had discussed things that God showed them about her life.

Now ending her phone call, Leslie turned toward Monica.

“Pastor Richard says that he expects to see you today, so please don’t disappoint him.” Though Monica felt like a kid dragging her feet, she hugged Leslie and yelled “Goodbye” to Charles and then began her trip to Pastor Richard’s house.

July 4th Independence Day
Monica sat in traffic impatiently waiting to merge onto the Palisades Parkway. Monica despised any driving that was more than twenty minutes travel, but for the sake of her mentor and Godfather she agreed to go to the Barbeque. July 4th’s well recognized, Grand Finale of all Barbeques of the summer, but to Monica it may well end up being just another religious function. Cars were literally at a standstill and she just took a long sigh. Even her favorite music couldn’t suppress Monica’s inward road rage from asserting itself into her otherwise peaceful personality. Monica swerved her car around a disrespectful man driving a Jeep Cherokee. She saw him coming on her right hand side trying to cut her off to merge onto the Palisades parkway. Monica blocked him and continued on her merry little way. She dialed Leslie.

“Hi, just wanted to let you know that I’m only a few minutes away from crossing into New Jersey, but the traffic is overwhelming.” Monica wished she could just turn back.

“Well dear, sometimes when you’re very close to receiving a breakthrough – you have to do things you don’t always feel comfortable with. You are in an important season in your life Monica,” Leslie said. Leslie felt that Monica needed to remember “the promise”. She was completely aware that Leslie was gifted with wisdom, but at the moment she wasn’t feeling very ‘spiritual’.

Monica was petite; 5’ 3 with an hour glass shape. Her face was attractive with defined cheekbones brown eyes, naturally arched eyebrows and a pronounced nose resembling a Native American woman. Her long hair was worn straight or curly depending on her mood. She debated with herself on what to wear for nearly a week and even today she struggled. Knowing that church folk and strangers would be checking her from head to toe, she had to look her best. ‘It’s funny how men didn’t have that pressure’, she thought ‘They could wear overalls and beat up sneakers—no one would care less.’ However, women had to shine like a peacock. She had a few choices: A halter top denim jean jumpsuit, a beautiful floral ankle length sundress or Baby Phat: leggings with a cute powder blue v- neck mini dress. She decided on the jean jumpsuit since it was cool and sexy combined with 3” cork-heel denim sandals.

Monica is back after jumping the broom. Monica and her new husband try to keep the honeymoon going in their day to struggles. All newlyweds have a vision and with sparkles in their eyes they pursue it. In time people prove that they are not always who they appear to be. She did not know everything about her husband and neither did he know everything about her.
Now as things unfold life get’s muddy and the honeymooners are threatened to lose hope. While trying to make the two become one they create a head on collision instead.

Monica was on her career track; Shawn was on a mission to keep things intact. Selena was all about being the Boss and Brian was Hell bent on proving himself at all cost.

All the players are back but the roles are changing and the game is definitely engaging. God makes promise(s) but it’s up to Monica and Shawn to meet His requirements.

Whether they win or lose, sometimes living “Happily Ever After” means a Lover has to take a Holiday.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Shannon Muir, Author

Shannon Muir, Author
"Pretty as a Picture" NEWSHOUNDS
Shannon Muir’s recently released short story GHOST OF THE AIRWAVES takes readers back to solve a mystery in the “golden age of radio,” a topic she knows something about given her degrees in radio/tv and communications. The author writes non-fiction and fantasy, science fiction and mystery stories, including  "Pretty as a Picture," a mystery in the anthology NEWSHOUNDS.  

In the future, she plans to focus on Mystery, New Pulp, and Genre Fiction. In the meantime, she expects stories submitted to Pro Se Press to be published. When she’s not writing, Muir likes to play multiplayer online games. She lives in California where she works in animation production.

Q: What led you to write your latest short story, GHOST OF THE AIRWAVES – ‘a new pulp tale’? Why set the story in ‘the golden age of radio?’ Is this part of a series?

Shannon Muir: The first two questions you have somewhat go together. I originally wrote GHOST OF THE AIRWAVES because I had one published story out with Pro Se Press (part of Pro Se Productions) called "Pretty as a Picture" in the anthology NEWSHOUNDS. At that time, Pro Se Press also ran an e-magazine, and GHOST OF THE AIRWAVES was submitted for that with the hope it would raise my profile as a writer for the genre and the publisher. Not long after the submission, the e-magazine folded, with the publisher remaining focused on full books, anthologies, and the "Single Shot" digital short story singles that were just starting up then. Anyone who had submitted to the e-magazine ended up in the Single Shot pile to be considered, but as a result over a year went by before I got to the right place in the queue to be considered and released.

As to how it ended up being the specific story that it is, that goes back to when I was in college as a double major in Radio-TV and English-Creative Writing. I wrote a thirty minute teleplay script called FROM THE FATAL HEART in which a dedication and request show DJ (those were very popular at the time) thought his wife committed suicide but she really hadn't; it turned out to be a carefully orchestrated murder. I'd chosen that subject matter because I was a Radio-TV major and in fact a DJ in college; I later established a show on our 10,000 watt college jazz station called "Women of Jazz" which I believe is still running over two decades later. Though that script actually received national recognition as a finalist for an award from a national college radio-television honor society, as I've looked back at it over the years there are some things I wished I'd done better. My DJ lead really played more of a passive role in the story, and I decided to challenge myself by writing a female centered story with a more active lead and see what I got. Also, because most traditional pulp stories are 1920s or 1930s for the most part, I decided to see what happened if I shifted to that time period. DJs as we know them today weren't around yet; radio's power lay heavily in the serialized programs that were broadcast, and the actors and actresses in them the stars of the airwaves. From that core, I built the rest, and I really like the way it turned out.

Right now, GHOST OF THE AIRWAVES is not part of a series, but in my mind I have certainly left it open ended enough to be one. I also really want to do more with these characters. To be honest, though, it's going to take a couple things to make that happen. First, enough people have to buy the short story to show demand. Second of all, positive reviews indicating demand for more would be needed, since a lot of people might buy it but find that was all they needed. Third, of course, is the publisher would have to be open to it. While they don't own the story, Pro Se does do a line of Single Shots that are series in nature, so it seems like if I would continue I owe the courtesy of continuing to work with that publisher if possible.

Q: You’ve written in a variety of genres—both fiction and non-fiction. Is GHOST OF THE AIRWAVES your first mystery? Do you have a favorite? Mystery? Fantasy? SciFi? Romance? Why?

Shannon Muir: My first mystery story actually was the previously mentioned "Pretty as a Picture" in NEWSHOUNDS, which features a newspaper staff in the 1950s using the power of the press to right wrongs. Mine is one of three stories in that book. Those characters were actually based on a "bible" as developed by Pro Se Press, which gave all the backstories of the characters. In a way that was kind of like writing for television – this is done for live-action and animated series, and I have written for an animated series in Japan, as well as worked in other positions on animated shows in the United States. This meant I was accustomed to the challenges of writing a story making sure I followed the rules set out for me. Again, that was extremely fun, and I really became attached to those characters even though they're not my own. If I got the chance to do more with them, I would.

My personal favorites to read are science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. Science fiction and fantasy are exceptionally hard because you have to be able to build a completely believable world. While I have a passion for world building, I haven't built anything strong enough in science fiction or fantasy that I'm really happy with yet. The New Pulp works need some world building because you're often working in another time and place, but by no means to the same extent.

I've done a lot of stuff in a self-published vein that came out of ten years of completed National Novel Writing Month attempts. For people not familiar with it, writers challenge themselves each November to complete a 50,000 word or more first draft of a novel within the month of November. I've done that for ten years straight, and succeeded, but I don't think I'll do that again. It taught me a lot about writing under pressure and how to get out of tight writing corners, and I discovered a lot of ideas that are interesting that I'm making available after doing editing and clean-up on them, but they kind of define being categorized. While they have leading women, they tend to not be Romances. I made that mistake initially, and quickly learned that Romance has a very defined set of terms; most of what I've written doesn't seem to fall there and what little can is a bit of a stretch. They're definitely all about contemporary women trying to find their identity in a variety of situations.

Going forward, I definitely plan to stick heavily to the mystery, New Pulp, and Genre Fiction work. To that end, there are still several stories in the pipeline forthcoming from Pro Se Press and one from Emby Press. Unfortunately I don't know dates for any of them at the moment.

Q: GHOST OF THE AIRWAVES is a short story. Do you prefer writing short stories or novels? How difficult is it to develop characters in a short story? How helpful is setting?

Shannon Muir: Short stories are harder overall. You have a limited amount of time to set up your location and characters so that people can jump in and follow the plot. You can do a lot in a little time but it takes a lot of planning ahead. Every word counts. I prefer on writing whichever way best suits the story I'm trying to tell. If it's a complex character tale, that usually needs a novel. However, if the character's essence can be captured enough to tell the story that you don't need to go into tons of self-examination, novellas or short stories can be more appropriate.

Q: Can you leverage your writing skills from your non-fiction books to writing fiction? What are the key differences?

Shannon Muir: Honestly, this is reversed. I've been trained in writing fiction long before I wrote my columns and later textbooks on the animation writing and production process; I just wasn't aggressively publishing it until later. I didn't do print journalism in college, or broadcast news. My columns and to a degree even the textbooks probably could be better likened to the tone of conversational blogs, helped out by the fact that I did a lot of guest interviews with fellow animation professionals. By then, I'd worked for Sony Animation and Nickelodeon and just had it on my heart to pay what I'd learned and what my friends could teach forward. In fact, I actually got hired to do the textbooks after the textbook company rejected a pitch based on my past columns plus new material, asking me to focus on the material they wanted to feature. That was a very specific situation of wanting to educate in a medium that has captured my heart since my youth and for which I've been proud to have be part of my career, and as you may notice I've not done anything non-fiction since. I'm not sure I feel qualified to compare the differences.

Q: Why do you focus on female protagonists?

Shannon Muir: I think in general because being a woman, I feel more confident coming from that viewpoint. As noted above, I did have a male lead in the FROM THE FATAL HEART teleplay, but I found him too passive. It also gave an interesting challenge to me when pitching stories to Pro Se Press because traditionally private investigators in those types of stories are male, so I hunted out the untold stories of how women might be able to make a difference outside of the norm. Even in the NEWSHOUNDS story with the ensemble cast, the characters prominently featured are the two women. That said, I think I've also gotten past that. I recently did two stories waiting to come out from Pro Se Press that have strong male leads and I really like how both of them turned out.

Q: Do you write to deliver a message, educate, inform, or just to entertain readers?

Shannon Muir: Again, it depends on what I'm doing. The New Pulp and Genre Fiction I write to entertain. Some of my more personal self-published projects are meant to get readers thinking on certain topics.

Q: How helpful is humor to your story-telling?

Shannon Muir: Humor tends to be a real challenge for me. I'm usually that person in the room who doesn't get the joke everyone else just got. I can be too serious for my own good sometimes. If I use humor, it may come in the form of puns or higher level intellectual humor, which both my father and his late father were very good at so I borrow what I learned to figure out.

Q: Do you use the concept of heroes vs villains in your story-telling? What makes a good villain? Do you need a villain to have a hero?

Shannon Muir: I use protagonists, antagonists, and villains. Maybe it's just my English degree training kicking in, but I think heroes and villains might be a bit too black and white. Antagonists are people who conflict with the protagonist but who may have some redemptive qualities, while villains tend to not have anything redeeming about them. I think what makes a successful opponent to your protagonist – or hero, to use your word – hinges on the motivations being convincing. In short, if there's no good reason for he or she to do what causes the problem, the whole thing falls apart. As far as needing a villain to have a hero, you don't need a hero but you need some sort of opposition or conflict. That can be – to draw on the English training again – man versus man (or woman versus woman, or whatever mix here), man or woman versus society, man or woman versus nature, or even an individual with a personal struggle. There must be an opposition to be conquered. If the person focused on in the story triumphs, this can make them a hero, but even that might not be necessarily true. Stories can go in so many directions, and that's what makes it fun.

Q:  What’s next?

Shannon Muir: Hopefully more of the stories I know are pending with Pro Se Press will come out soon, in the short term. I've got a couple of personal project series I've published myself I want to wrap up in 2015 or early 2016 at latest. The mystery, New Pulp, and Genre Fiction is really where I plan to be putting the bulk of my effort in the future, however.

Q: Tell us about Shannon Muir. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Shannon Muir: I like to play massive multiplayer online games, in particular LORD OF THE RINGS ONLINE based on the world development of J.R.R. Tolkien's THE HOBBIT and LORD OF THE RINGS. My father raised my sister and I on those stories and THE HOBBIT is still my favorite story of all time; I identify with Bilbo Baggins an awful lot to this day. As an interesting aside, I actually worked for several years on a virtual world intended for younger audiences; I was part of the team behind the launch of the now-closed PETPET PARK that was a spinoff of the NEOPETS franchise. While an interesting way to empower the players to craft their own stories, there's also a lot that goes into it from a game balance and world development perspective and I learned a lot in the several years I got to be a part of it.

Also, I've liked board games all my life but don't often find enough people to play them with. Got together with some old friends for the first time recently and they introduced me to TICKET TO RIDE, which I really enjoyed. I hope to be able to do more of that again.

I'm also known as the person behind two writing focused blogs. INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS at and DISCOVER WORDS at, which have been around for a couple years now. Interviews and guests posts tend to be the focus of INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS, while excerpts reign at DISCOVER WORDS. However, in early 2015, I had a huge hiccup with my provider that cost me both the blogs and it is going to be an uphill battle to reconstruct them. I'm going to try and get everything reposted that people have taken time to assemble for me, but with over two years of content this may not be completely possible though I will give it my utmost best.

On that note, thank you so much for giving me the time to share about my emerging work in New Pulp and Genre Fiction, along with my creative passions.

About Shannon Muir

Shannon Muir’s most recent genre fiction release is the Single Shot GHOST OF THE AIRWAVES a New Pulp digital single tale, preceded by her debut genre fiction story "Pretty as a Picture" in the anthology NEWSHOUNDS from Pro Se Productions. Prior to venturing into the world of New Pulp, Muir is best known to genre readers as co-writer of the long-running webcomic FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY with her partner, Kevin Paul Shaw Broden (featured in Pro Se's anthology THE BLACK FEDORA, his own story in NEWSHOUNDS, and the self-published REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST). She tends to gravitate towards writing stories with females in leading or influential roles, which can prove a challenge in the time periods that pulp stories are set in. Muir aspires to bring different perspective to a classic time period by taking on this viewpoint. Muir also has credits in new adult contemporary fiction, as well as published textbooks on the animation industry, a field in which she's held writing and production positions as part of her nearly twenty year career focused in family entertainment. She currently resides in Glendale, California.

GHOST OF THE AIRWAVES is from Pro Se Productions’ Single Shot line. It is a tale of mystery and murder set against the backdrop of the Golden Age of Radio! Through this stand alone digital single, Author Shannon Muir introduces the world to Ghost of the Airwaves!

GHOST OF THE AIRWAVES is the suspenseful tale of radio actress Abigail Hanson, whose husband died under mysterious circumstances. Everyone believes the culprit is caught until a mysterious typed letter from "Ghost of the Airwaves" comes through her mail slot. Abigail becomes determined to find out who killed her husband and uses her own observant eye to help coax the police along. But, as she delves deeper into the mystery, Abigail may learn she should have stayed behind the microphone…to stay alive!
Cover art and logo design by Jeff Hayes and digital formatting by Russ Anderson. A Pro Se Single Shot digital single from Pro Se Productions!

News For All, Justice for the Innocent and Weak!
That is the Masthead of The Partisan and the mission of its keepers in Pro Se Productions’ action packed tribute to the printed press- NEWSHOUNDS! Dogged reporters, crusty editors, copyboys and cub photographers with dreams of grandeur. Pressmen who know the city lives and breathes by what they print. Characters like Editor ‘Red Dillinger, reporters Viv Bailey and Ted Boland, photographer Margie Haviland, and more all work for The Partisan, a 1950s paper partial to the common man, to righting the wrongs done against the housewives and the blue collars! And this gaggle of hard bitten, hard fighting men and women are known near and far to those who love them and those who wish to see them dead! Do No Wrong in Their City unless you want it covered by the Newshounds! Started in 1930 to stand up for the little person and to protect the rights of the rightless. The Partisan has always been the paper that focused on both accurate news reporting and standing up for the common citizen against crime and corruption of all types. This led to a style of writing both factual and fiery that the paper is known for. Authors Kevin Paul Shaw Broden, Shannon Muir, and J. Walt Layne bring life to the chaotic adventures of a larger than life newspaper staff in this three story collection. Only two types of people work at The Partisan- Those truly interested in standing up for truth and justice and what’s rightand those with a death wish or nowhere else to go. Either way, they make great stories for Pro Se Productions’ NEWSHOUNDS!

Excerpt: from NEWSHOUNDS "Pretty as a Picture"

"Are you out of your mind?" Margie Haviland insisted to her editor in the main press room of the Partisan, a paper known for exposing more than a few dirty downsides of the city and fighting for the everyday citizen. "You expect me and Viv," Margie said, thumbing a finger at Vivian Bailey, the tall and knockout female reporter of the group, "to just go and crash some charity function?" '
"Definitely not crash it, at least not openly," Red responded, much calmer and collected than the saucy, petite Margie. "We don't want to call attention to ourselves. But the reality is you and Viv are the only female reporters we've got that can swing this kind of a high pressure undercover job. As you know though, there are, shall we say, added complications."
"Such as the fact that Margie comes from the same rich elite that will be attending this function," pointed out Ted Boland, the lead male reporter for the Partisan. "Some of these folks could even be family or friends."
"Trust me, they'd be no friends of mine," Margie all but spat in Ted's face. "I left that life behind a long time ago."
"Not only are you our top photographer, you also know how to get around and what to look for," the editor reassured Margie. "That's why you and Viv need to do this. Augustus Morton says he's doing this all as a charity benefit, allowing a sneak peek at next year's European styles before they trend in the States. All the proceeds would be to benefit business scholarships to further the education of young people, including internships with Morton's companies."
“Internships with him will just teach them how to play dirty pool. This Morton's got a history of being nothing but trouble," stressed Viv. "He looks so great on the surface with what the public sees, but as you all know we've turned up a few dirty things about him. Unfortunately, we never quite witnessed his involvement in those dealings."
"Which is why we can't miss this time, doll," Ted responded.
"You're walking on thin ice calling me doll and you know it, Mr. Boland," Viv threw back, not even giving him the respect of answering with a first name.
"All right you two, we get it," spoke up Dice, the circulation manager. "I think everyone knows what's at stake here. We all got to play it like pros. Viv, Margie, come up with a strategy of how to get into this special event. The big thing, our friend Augustus Morton," Red underscored sarcastically, "emphasized in his little invite is that this charity fashion show will culminate with the unveiling of his new personally discovered star, name of Kitty Kline."
"Knowing you Red, you researched like crazy about this star doll of his," ace reporter Ted added in. "So, what kind of dirt did you uncover?"
"That's the thing. I came up with nothing."
"You mean she's squeaky clean?" asked Margie.
"I mean, I found diddly squat. All my years in this biz and I can't even turn up a hint as to who this gal is."
"If she even exists at all," Viv pointed out. "Maybe that's the ultimate joke of it. Morton's pulled bigger ruses and gotten away with it."
"That's true," Red agreed. "But what's Morton's game, if that's the case?"

NEWSHOUNDS "Pretty as a Picture"

Twitter: @Shannon_Muir

Sunday, March 1, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Ken Poirot, Author and Mentor

Ken Poirot, Author and Mentor
Ken Poirot’s MENTOR ME “will give readers direction to help them reach their greatest life’s goal,” according to reviewers. Described as a motivational book, it is based on Poirot's own extensive experience and success in the financial services industry and his degree and studies in microbiology. In the following interview, he clarifies that success is not restricted to financial gain, but to “getting to the next level in life” or “improving... life” depending on our own individual definition of success.

Poirot has a broad list of things he likes to do when he’s not writing or motivating people, which include history, science, travel, and meeting new people. His favorite traveling experience occurred while staying in the Belize jungle and making a day trip to the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala. He is currently working on a new book to offer a leadership and management model.

Q: Why did you write MENTOR ME? Your life seems quite full without the need to produce a book!

Ken Poirot: I have a deep desire to help people and to influence others in a positive way. You can only touch so many people’s lives directly on a daily basis, even as a manager sometimes interacting with hundreds.

In contrast, a book is a medium you can use to leverage yourself and potentially positively affect many, many more lives. Additionally, a book is permanent. We all face the fact we are mortal; as I wrote in MENTOR ME, “Time (T) is our most valuable commodity. None of us knows how much Time (T) we have on this earth, and no matter how much money we have, we cannot buy any more of it.” Writing this book was a way to leverage my time to potentially help more people presently and even after I am long gone from this earth.

Q: Why did you divert your life from a career in microbiology to financial services? How did you learn financial management when your background was in microbiology?

Ken Poirot: Moving to Houston from New York and attending graduate school made it necessary for me to take on student loans in order to continue my studies. I decided economically that didn’t make sense for me.

For this reason, I began an internship with American Express Financial Advisors, Inc. during the second year of my graduate studies. I learned financial management during this internship and later made the leap to work as a financial advisor.

I will also say the scientific process is directly applicable to business. I joke with people all the time how microbiology and cancer research are very similar to business….as I pause and enjoy how people look at me with a blank stare, all speechless, not knowing what to say.

I then explain: science is a process. In science, you design an experiment (plan) in order to achieve a stated result (a hypothesis). It is very similar to business, except in business most of the variables are known, whereas in science very often you are dealing with the unknown. The thought process, designing an experiment/plan, then executing that experiment/plan to achieve a goal/stated result is the exact same process in science and business.

Q: What makes your book unique from other mentoring books?

Ken Poirot: MENTOR ME has many different layers and levels. Differences on the surface: this book is interactive and will provide the reader with an individualized experience. It is focused on the reader to help them reach their goal(s)/life purpose based upon their individual goals/dreams/desires. On this level it functions as a personal success, self-help, and self-improvement book.

Another major difference is this book is based upon proven, time tested, real-world practical experience. So many books of this genre are written from an ivory tower as theory, and/or are difficult for the reader to figure out how to adapt the information to their own real life experiences. In contrast, with MENTOR ME the reader can literally walk through a book written in a practical, conversational tone, implement its ideas, and readily use them for their own individual, real-world circumstances as they read.

On the next level, MENTOR ME is a coaching, mentoring, leadership, management, and business book. There are stories and examples from my own personal experiences that provide anecdotal lessons on these topics.

On the deepest level, MENTOR ME has a plethora of subtle and some not so subtle themes. What I find interesting is only one reviewer so far has seemingly discovered just one of these deeper themes (“Know Thyself”) intentionally scattered throughout MENTOR ME.

In the Preface of the book I provide an answer for what I believe to be the meaning of life and introduce other deeply philosophical themes. This should alert readers there is so much more to this book than a “typical, self-help or business book.” It has so many different themes and layers purposefully placed throughout its pages.

 I recently described it in my blog as, ...the crossroads and convergence of where science, metaphysics, religion, and utopian society intersect.” There is a lot more complexity written into this seemingly “simple, real-world, practical self-help and business book.” As these themes are revealed by readers, it will give them a great deal to think about and ponder. In this sense, it is a bit of a “literary chameleon.”

Q: What are the 3-5 most important tips to motivate people to succeed?

Ken Poirot: Motivation begins with a fire inside the individual; I spark this fire and continue to feed it with a few carefully constructed psychological/emotional exercises in MENTOR ME. These tips summarized are:

1) Defining goals/dreams/desires
2) Visualizing the emotions/experience of achieving those stated goals/dreams/desires
3) Designing a plan to make these goals/dreams/desires a reality
4) Taking action based upon that plan
5) Keeping focused by continually reviewing those goals/dreams/desires while surrounding yourself with like-minded people who will give you support along the way

In MENTOR ME I provide tools to help the reader accomplish this and more effectively communicate with others to help the reader with their relationships.

All of these steps are designed to kindle the fire of motivation, feed it, and keep the fire going over time.

Q: Who should read your book? Are you targeting people who want to be financially successful?

Ken Poirot: Anyone who wants to get to the next level in life should read this book. I am targeting anyone who has the desire to improve their life. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to take the steps necessary to improve their lives, so I am specifically targeting those who have goals/dreams/desires and who are willing to make the commitment to turn their goals/dreams/desires into reality.

Everyone’s definition of success is different, for some it is financial success, for others it may be helping others, having more time with family, happiness, etc… Readers can use MENTOR ME to achieve whatever their personal definition is of success. It is not necessarily financial success, as this is dependent on each person to define what success is for them; this book will help the reader achieve their personal definition of success.

Reviewers tout the book as both motivational and also helpful in terms of offering tips on how to succeed. Do you believe one is a higher priority than the other? Is motivation more important than planning? How important is balance?

Motivation and planning/tips to succeed are equally important. You can have all the motivation in the world, but without a well-constructed, defined, plan to focus this motivation, someone will meander with no direction or ultimate goal for their motivation, therefore, accomplishing very little.

Conversely, having a plan but lacking the motivation to begin it, implement it, and continue with the execution of that plan will not lead to success. So it is important to have both: a carefully constructed plan to lead to success and the motivation to take the steps necessary to consistently execute that plan.

Q: Did you do any research to confirm your instruction or is your book based on your own experience?

Ken Poirot: MENTOR ME is based upon not only my personal and professional experiences, but my hands on experience working with hundreds of professionals one-on-one. This is what makes MENTOR ME so practical and easy-to-implement; it is written based upon proven, time tested strategies that actually work in the real world.

Q: Would you say your advice applies to a broad variety of careers and positions? Or is it geared to financial services? Management careers? Or to financial success?

Ken Poirot: I wrote MENTOR ME to help people in any career or position. Also, it is not necessarily only applicable to careers as someone may decide their Greatest Achievement (GA) or goal(s) may have nothing to do with their career.

It is applicable for any goal someone may have for their life. I draw analogies and experiences from my time in financial services in the book, but these anecdotal stories have lessons that can be applied to any goal or career.

Q: What’s next?

Ken Poirot: I recently outlined a leadership and management model based upon the elements that made me a successful manager. I developed an easy way to relay this information to other managers/leaders so they have a framework to increase their effectiveness as leaders/managers. I will be working on turning this into a book in the future.

Q: Tell us about Ken Poirot. What do you like to do when you are not writing or motivating?

Ken Poirot: I have many interests: meeting new people, traveling, history, science, and a curiosity about the world around me. I also have a love for animals; right around Christmas Day a stray kitten showed up on my back porch, so lately I am spending more time at home with my new friend, who is now a very spoiled and happy indoor cat.

As an example of my diverse interests, on a given day I may be reading a story about string theory, watching a television program about some historical event on the History Channel, or researching a story about hunting for an ancient legend or some mythical beast.

I am also a bit adventurous. My favorite experiences from traveling were taking a day trip to the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala while staying in the jungle in Belize, swimming in huge waves in the Pacific Ocean at Lover’s Beach after kayaking/snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas, and swimming with sharks in The Bahamas.

I am sure my future will include more travel and additional exciting adventures.

About Ken Poirot
Ken Poirot grew up on Long Island, New York in the quaint village of Northport. After graduating from Cornell University with a B.S. in Microbiology, he moved to Houston, Texas to pursue his Ph.D. studies in Cancer Research at MD Anderson Cancer Center through UT Health Science Center. Upon receiving a US Patent for his research, Lipid Complexed Topoisomerase I Inhibitors, he left graduate school for a career in financial services.
Over the last two decades, he worked for many of the top financial services firmssome better known New York Stock Exchange-listed companies like American Express, Charles Schwab, Merrill Lynch (now part of Bank of America), JP Morgan Chase, as well as some smaller New York Stock Exchange-listed companies like Cullen/Frost Bankers (NYSE: CFR) and Guaranty Bank (now part of BBVA, NYSE: BBVA).
As the Senior Vice President and Sales Manager for Frost Investment Services, the brokerage division of Frost Bank (NYSE:CFR), he led his department to four consecutive years of double- digit revenue growth, increasing revenue by over 83% while substantially increasing the profit margin from approximately 27% to 37%. During this same time period, his financial advisors increased their individual production from an average of less than $25,000 in revenue per month to over $41,000. He achieved similar results at various other firms, including Guaranty Bank and JPMorgan Chase, consistently increasing the sales of his territories/producers by double-digits as a regional manager and personal/professional coach.
Happiness. Success. Motivation. Influence. Inspiration.

Groundbreaking Practical Self-Help, Mentoring, Coaching, Personal Success, Business Guide

We all want to have success and happiness in every area of our lives, as well as be a positive influence and inspiration to other people. But too often, we get lost in our resolutions to do just that, having no idea where to start or how to get there. 

This book is the perfect guide! Fun, Concise, Succinct, Proven, and Filled with Wisdom! 

Successful mentor and coach Ken Poirot provides answers and walks you through in this groundbreaking book, Mentor Me: GA=T+E—A Formula to Fulfill Your Greatest Achievement

Finally a Real-World Practical Self-Help, Mentoring, Coaching, Personal Success, Business Book!

In MENTOR ME, you will discover: 

- How to formulate a plan to achieve your dreams 
- Your personality style and how it relates to the personality styles of other people 
- How to most effectively learn new information, motivate yourself, and others 
- The two most powerful words in the English language and how to put them to work for you 
- The best and most effective way to handle any conflict in life 
- And so much more... 

MENTOR ME delivers what other books only promise: real-world strategies, techniques, and information that produces effective, tested, and proven results! 

Easy-to-implement directives and personal life illustrations combine to provide readers with the pathway to success they have only previously dreamed about. 

Including some fun "smile" moments included along the way... 

Begin reading and following the plan found in Mentor Me today and step-by-step, you will transform your life! 

A Fun and Simple Self-Help, Mentoring, Coaching, Personal Success, Business Book!



What do you want out of life? When you look back on your life, what do you want to see?

              What do you want to accomplish…to achieve for yourself…or to give to others? What do you dream that people will say about you and your life?

Maybe you seek happiness. Maybe your desire is to help other people, or to lead a life that motivates, inspires, and influences others to accomplish things they never thought they could achieve. I don’t know what you want in life or where you are in your current situation. Maybe you are in the Abyss of Emotional Bankruptcy looking for a way out, looking for the next rung in the ladder on your climb to the Peak of Happiness, or you may even be at the Peak of Happiness already, looking for a way to stay there. Wherever you are in life, this book is designed to give you the tools necessary to help you achieve your goals.

My Greatest Achievement (GA) in life is spending my Time (T) and Energy (E) helping, motivating, inspiring, and influencing others to create their own Greatest Achievement (GA). (GA = T + E: Greatest Achievement = Time + Energy).

My hope is, in turn, these individuals will also motivate, inspire, and influence others to do the same. Through this medium, writing, I can leverage my Time (T) and Energy (E) in a focused and methodical way to create a chain reaction that positively affects the world.

It is my dream to be the GATE, the conduit, to help someone from where they are today, to where they want to be in the future. It is also my dream to have a society of people who will be that GATE for someone else. Imagine if we lived in a world where everyone utilized their Time (T) and Energy (E) to positively affect others’ lives?

I have been a success and I have been a failure. I have experienced the greatest joys life has to offer (the Peak of Happiness), and I have experienced the seemingly endless Abyss of Emotional Bankruptcy. I can say, having been there, the greatest transformations in my life, the most personal development, and ultimately my greatest breakthroughs, all came on the back of complete Emotional Bankruptcy.

Sometimes we get so busy with our daily lives we do not take the steps and the Time (T) necessary to be introspective—to analyze where we are and where we want to go; to decide what is working well for us and what is not going well; and to make the appropriate adjustments so we can get to where we want to be in life.

As I see it, the meaning of life is each other, and we are all we have in this world. I will even go so far as to say that this world we live in, in my humble opinion, may, in fact, be hell.

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