Michael Friedman is a consummate gentleman, and it was my privilege to present this amazingly insightful, Interview with mckbirdbks, the pen name that many of us have come to know and follow him by - also known as Mockingbird Books.
Here, on Inspiration Station, I shared what Mike had been writing for his fans in Reviewing the Works of Michael Friedman. This was in September, 2013.
So, fast forward to March, 2015 and Mr. Friedman is going stronger than ever... if you keep reading, you'll see what I'm talking about!
However, it is the following comment that Mike recently left on one of my desk posts that prompted me to approach him for an update... In fact, this comment still has me shaking my head...?? I will also share my response before we get started with this 'up close and personal' look at Michael Friedman: The Man Behind the Talent.
Hello Maria – Your plate seems always to be full. I believe you to be right that many need to examine the pace that they keep. The clock is ticking and there is not near the time needed to enjoy yourself. For many the briefcase carrying days are over.
Me? I have cleared my plate.
You are wise and able to dissect these situations so clearly...if you keep this up, I am going to approach you to write a guest article (oops, I just did...LOL)
Because I know a whole stream of us gals who want to know, "Okay, just how does one clear their plate?"
No, no -- you know the kind of plate I'm referring to. Just sayin'...the clock is ticking!
In any event, thank you for always making me smile, you funny and kind man!
Maria: So you kinda asked for it, Mike. Please 'spill it' on your secret to 'clearing one's plate'.
Mike: Hello mar. Thanks for this opportunity.
I am looking at the first question. It is deceptive in its innocence. It looks like such a small question, yet, the answer is so large and unwieldy. Therefore, I have condensed it into a slogan that I will tell you in a moment. But first I will give you an example.
Two years ago a cousin that I grew up with passed away of cancer. Of course the family grieved and there was much sadness. To honor the life of the cousin, the family (who I love) started a campaign to raise money for cancer research. The family put extreme pressure on all the family members far and wide not only to donate money, but to form teams to walk/run in a marathon and each team was expected to raise money. In my opinion, they tried to feed their sadness by consuming my time and energy. I declined. They insisted. I declined. It sounds cold, and I am okay with that. They are entitled to their sadness and I don’t take anything away from that.
Am I one of the black sheep of the family?
Am I OK with that?
Gary was a good man. I paid my respects. I wept at his passing. I stood by his gravesite. That was my obligation.
I suggest that you can divide up the myriad of things we face each day into small categories: Things we have to do, like pay those pesky bills and buy groceries and things we want to do, like write the great American novel and visit Venice.
I am rambling, here is the slogan: The trick to life is not wanting anything.
Maria: Despite the ability to easily prioritize and balance your life, you always seem to be available to assist your customers and friends with a wide variety of services. Can you share some of what you have been doing?
Mike: Laurel and Hardy come to mind, “This is another fine mess you have gotten me into.”
During the working years of my second life, I went to a job every day and came home and found, advertised, cataloged, and sold books. Over time, I learned a tiny bit about books. Then time passed, a lot of time passed.
My second daughter Tracy sent me an innocent note that said, “Dad, I just found a website called Hubpages. I think you will like it.”
From there it became, one thing after another.
I met a group of talented authors and as we all matured as writers together our needs changed. We wanted to break out into the world.
Because I knew a tiny bit about books, I began adding my two cents here and there. First we all needed ebook covers. So I downloaded and began playing with a graphic software program that allowed me to support many authors and help get them prepared to list on Amazon and Smashwords. It was a learning curve for sure.
My bias is printed books rather than digital books. I can attest to how long a printed book can last. There is a title around here somewhere printed in 1698. None of the digital devices working today, storing the titles you purchased and enjoyed will be around in five years let alone five hundred years. (But I digress.)
I have generated about fifty ebook covers for authors from Hubpages. It has added greatly to my self-worth.
The book industry has progressed. Now, indie authors can get their books printed at a very reasonable cost and have them hosted online at the largest book retailers on the planet. This does not guarantee sales, but after the labor the author puts into their work they receive the satisfaction that their book is out-there.
Maria: How do you juggle your time to meet such a high productivity with helping others and answering your own creative callings?
Mike: Even creative work can become tiring. So, to have multiple projects available allows me to jump from one activity to another. So one day I might try to write a paragraph or two and that afternoon, I might try to learn a new GIMP software function to utilize in a book cover.
I have a file folder with hundreds of pictures taken from the internet that can be used in part or whole on a book cover.
I have offered many people help once they have generated their books. Traditionally authors who were lucky enough to find a publisher skated by with writing the book. Someone else took care of the tedious details of formatting, finding the artist and then getting the work printed and onto shelves.
Because of my background with books, I acquired many of these skills. The last one, getting the printed work onto shelves is still an issue.
Joyce Harasgim was the first to approach me about a Createspace cover. It was a very challenging learning curve. She showed great restraint while having one cover after another rejected by CS for technical reasons. I have learned the ins-and-outs of the process and the difficulty has lessened.
I make no secret that I admire the work of Sunnie Day. So, with these new skills I approached her and asked if I could make her work, Within My Heart that was available as an ebook into a printed book. She allowed me to do this and it is now available.
If the world had not shifted so dramatically away from printed works, I think I would pursue publishing with more energy. Not for money, but to get our stories down on paper. Those that write of their time leave a lasting record. That is important.
Wait, what was the question? Oh, yes, my creative calling. With some effort, Emerald Wells Café, Braids – Angel’s Field, The Quinn Moosebroker Mysteries and a stand alone, The Poetry of Emerald Wells Café are available on-demand via Amazon’s sister company Createspace. They have a payout structure similar to those found in the more traditional publishing industry. But better than the royalty there is the accomplishment.
Currently, I am working on a story starring Quinn and Betty Moosebroker. This unlikely pair, him a disabled police detective and her a widower who mostly stayed home are traveling through Europe in search of a hidden box of treasure left along an escape route preplanned by the very rich and aristocrats.
These two are just a couple who met on a blind date and are now in their sixth adventure.
Maria: In my first interview with you on Hubpages, I asked you:
"What would be a subject/ genre that would challenge your current writing efforts? Or are you perfectly happy with where you are?"
You answered, "Some writers are in tune with themselves; they easily draw from their emotions and can get their thoughts and feelings onto paper. I place myself at a distance, as the narrator, the characters have their thoughts and their feelings. An odd thought, I am not the hero in my stories."
It's funny, Mike -- sometimes others see in us what we are incapable of seeing in ourselves. I guess what I'm asking is, do you still believe you are not the hero in your stories? As ever, honesty over modesty, please.
Mike: My head is spinning at this question. Emerald Wells Café was a place where writers meet and share their work. Hubpages is a place where writers meet and share their work. See any comparison here? Am I the hero of my stories? No, not really. I have been asked (perhaps by you) what character I am in EWC. The closest is Earl, just sitting in the kitchen reading. But whenever he was needed he was right there.
I am not sure I am like Quinn. He is strong and tough and has been around and seen too much as a police officer. The image on the front cover is a likeness of one of my Uncles, now gone. The two-fisted hand-shake is his. The smile is his. The picture I used in the very first story as the billboard is him and his wife.
I began a series of stories titled The Carriage Driver, which is set in Boston. The mane (LOL) character is a horse named Nuelle and then there is the Carriage Driver. There are six episodes written and at the moment they are published on Hubpages. As we age, it is natural to think about what comes next. This series takes a look at the process of the passage to what comes next. It is not necessarily about heaven. I am proud of the story, The Diarists.
Maria: In my recent interview on Fine Arts America, I showcased the photographic and illustrative talents of you, Linda Bilyeu, and Sannel Larson. Please share with us the significance behind your signature Sunflowers series of photographs?
Mike: The sunflowers came about at the end of a growing season. I was out clearing the garden area in the late afternoon. The sun pierced through the shaded area of the backyard and emitted striking images. With a common Olympus camera, I snapped a few pictures. When I was looking at Fine Arts America, I decided to upload the sunflower series along with some other drawings I did that were rejected for a children’s book.
Hey, who doesn’t like sunflowers?
Maria: Mike, you generously and tirelessly share the writing of your friends on a daily basis on Facebook, Twitter and other means of social media. I want to collectively thank you for your time and kind consideration of all of us.
I wonder if you ever had any 'delightful' surprises in all these contacts you have on Twitter ...?
At my last check your number of followers was a staggering 13,400!
Mike: Here, I am just one of the old men in the neighborhood. When the temperatures warm, I mow the yard on Tuesday and pull the trash barrels to the streets for Wednesday pickup. But online, I can read and comment on an author's work, from Quebec, and generate a book cover and place it on Amazon for a writer in Texas or even Pennsylvania. I can compile some thoughts with the intent to amuse or entertain, and a reader in South Africa can read it.
Via Twitter, I can get a note from a writer on the Isle of Man, and hear about her toddler and the energy it takes chasing her around.
And I would like to share, that I recently received a letter in the mail from a reader who found an out-of-print book in my inventory. It is not usual to receive a thank you note in the anonymous world of the internet.
I will conclude with you are welcome. It is a wild ride to help and support the authors I have met. I can use my time or lose my time.
We are here to help each other.
Maria: Thanks for spending this time with us, Mike!
Catch you next Friday for your latest riveting episode of the Quinn Moosebroker Mystery series...
Thank you for your visit today, and until next time, take good care of yourself and treat yourself to some excellent reading, like anything written by Michael Friedman.
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