It is my pleasure to welcome back a fellow author to my blog. Verna has been here before, but today we celebrate her newest novel, The Bastard Sorceress.
Since your last interview, how has your writing life changed? I’ve learned to go with the flow. I’ve survived and found new publishers for my fantasy novels when my previous publishers stopped publishing. It’s happened to me more than once too! But I’ve been lucky to find new publishers willing to take me on. It’s a tough business, and small presses suffer the most. Other than that, I’m still a mad writer who drinks pots of tea and keeps a package of emergency cookies on hand when I create my tales. I’m focused in details of story, world, and characters. I put together book bibles for each novel that are very detailed about every aspect of story, world, and people in in. I still have plans on becoming the next princess of heroic fantasy. Just give me time.
What have you learned about your craft of writing? I learned I have a knack for three things-creating good dialogue, great characters, and giving my characters good names. It’s a gift I’m grateful for.
Would you ever write in another genre? I love fantasy, but would love to dive into science fiction, especially some space opera.
What inspired you to write about Sabine Fable in your latest novel? A new character I’ve never done before. I love my heroines, and they always lead my tales. With Sabine Fable, I wanted to explore a character who suffered a rough home life and poverty, but was determined to rise above what society dictated. I added real human elements in this tale of magic, and created flesh and blood characters with more depth.
What characteristics does she have that make her a force to be reckoned with? A tough upbringing can make a tough character. Her heart is good, but she is fierce and protective of those she loves. She does not trust easily. She champions the underdog because she is one of them. Her family once had magic, but mage fever took that away. She was a bastard, and judged for her low birth. Magic is currency in her world, and mages rule. Even humble charm caste has respect. She had none. Sabine is hungry for more than magic. She wants justice and to be treated with respect. She wants people to see her. And yet she would never betray a friend or family member for what she desires.
Which author would you most like to meet and why? There are so many! Many of my favorites have passed (Ray Bradbury, Tanith Lee, Robert E. Howard, Patricia McKillip). Neil Gaiman is one of many on my list. I did have the joy of meeting Tanya Huff (so awesome), Kevin J., Anderson, and the great Larry Niven at conventions. I would love to meet Jennifer Roberson someday. At least she is my Facebook friend. As are you, Mandy.
With several series of books, are you planning more? Yes, but with publishers rising and falling around me over the years, I plan to be more careful. Even if I plan a series, I will do each novel as a stand-alone. I am working on the second novel to Bardess of Rhulon, called War Poet. But I am writing my novels from that perspective.
Has a movie or TV show inspired any of your stories? Some of the actors in favorite shows or movies I may be inspired by. Some of my characters are drawn from well-known actors.
What aspect of writing do you like the most? The power to create my own worlds and stories. Yes, I am a goddess who rules her worlds.
Where can readers find your books? Amazon has all my novels, available in both print and Kindle. My books are also on Barnes& Noble online. And my new publisher (for Bardess of Rhulon & The Bastard Sorceress) TANSTAAFL Press.
Verna McKinnon is a fantasy author of adventurous heroines. She is the author of the novels, The Bastard Sorceress, The Bardess of Rhulon, Gate of Souls & Tree of Bones. Fantasy is her genre of choice, though she has some science fiction in the works. Check in with her at her website. You can also read some of her previously published short stories at her website http:// vernamckinnon.com. Stay in touch by subscribing to email list at http://vernamckinnon.com/newsletter.html for her quarterly newsletter for news & updates. Follow Verna on Instagram @ vernamckinnon.author & Facebook for the latest on her writing life as a fantasy author, animal lover, and how she stays sane despite the odds. Chocolate helps.
What drew you to horror and paranormal themes in your stories?
The main reason is that horror is so fun to write! Remember telling ghost stories at slumber parties to spook your friends, until you’re all squealing with fear and laughter and don’t want to go to the bathroom alone? It’s an adventure! Horror gets the adrenaline pumping and the nerves tingling, and I love trying to craft a story that does that for others.
Secondly, I’m a catastrophic thinker. Probably because I’m a mom, but we can’t go anywhere without me thinking, “Okay, what’s the worst thing that could happen here? How could we all die?” I’ve tried to write other genres but that type of thinking turns a sweet romantic scene into an axe-murderer horror.
Thirdly, I find that Horror provides us with the ability to explore and process real-life trauma whether in a monster-as-metaphor sense or just through actual real-life scenarios. I think that’s the beauty of the genre for me.
2. Are there elements you feel are required in this genre?
Anticipation. Survival. Mystery.
No matter what the threat is—supernatural, alien, slasher—the reader needs to feel a sense of anticipation. Suspense needs to build scene after scene.
There also needs to be real stakes. People could die, vanish into the void, etc. Horror isn’t scary if nothing bad actually happens to people.
We also fear what we don’t know, so there needs to be a sense of mystery about the threat and the events taking place. That’s actually one of the hardest parts of reading or writing horror. In the ending, when the monster becomes known, it can feel like a bit of a letdown. Once we know what we face, it’s not quite as scary. Michael wears a mask for a reason.
3. Where do you find your ideas?
I spent my teen years in a small town that, like most small towns, was full of urban legends and ghosts. Probably because there wasn’t much to do there but go out into the boonies and scare ourselves. A lot of my writing is based on those stories and experiences, just in a very exaggerated way.
I’m also a total fraidy-cat. Driving down the road at night, I can get freaked out by something on the side of the road only for it be an electrical box. Moments like that will wind up in a story, though it won’t be an electrical box in the end!
4. Why is Halloween so special to you?
My daughter and I were talking about this just the other day and she said it’s her favorite holiday because you never outgrow the magic of Halloween. Which is very true! We all outgrow Santa, Easter is a drag after a few years, but no matter what age you are, spooks and haunts and killers can still scare you. And there’s just something in the air at fall! A spooky, creepy feeling in the change of weather and the crackling of leaves and the days getting shorter. The world feels different, like anything could happen. It’s a good time to light some candles, watch a scary movie, and cuddle up at home.
5. Can you tell us a little about The Prisoner of Stewartville – its inception and creation.
My mom started a job in HR for the Federal prisons here in Arizona when I was twelve. Soon after, we attended a Company Day picnic at the actual prison, and I’ll never forget how weird it was to be barbecuing hot dogs and playing tag while prisoners walked along the perimeter of the fence twenty yards away. Little pitchers also have big ears and over time I picked up on bits and pieces of work conversations that were horrifying. Later we moved to a much smaller town where prison did feel like a larger part of our everyday life and when I visited there again a few years ago, I just knew I had to write about it. Of course, the actual town was nowhere near as bad as Stewartville, but that’s the fun of horror!
6. Where is your special writing space?
I write on my phone, so anywhere and everywhere. On the couch while we watch TV, in bed, out on the patio, while I’m waiting in the school pick up line. In the middle of cooking, if a great idea for a scene comes to me.
7. Which authors have influenced you the most?
Oh wow, so many. The other day my husband and I actually stumbled on the movie Communion with Christopher Walken and almost simultaneously we both freaked out, like, “Omigod! I remember reading that book as a kid! It was terrifying!” And then we had a long conversation about the books we had to hide when we went to bed like Amityville Horror, It.
Having read all my life, the list went back a long way. I mean, my writing is still influenced by the Sweet Valley Twins Halloween specials I read as a kid. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, R.L Stine’s Fear Street. Stephen King. One of my absolute favorite literary ghost stories is Toni Morrison’s Beloved and I do hope my stories have some of that literary element to where reality can feel just as impactful as the supernatural.
That’s the great thing about good horror, though. It all influences you.
8. Are you working on a new project? Can you reveal anything about it?
I’m currently working on a companion novel to Prisoners of Stewartville. I can reveal that the POV is that of a minor character in the last book, and that we’ll see what happened to a fan favorite whose fate wasn’t shown at the end of the original.
9. Do you prefer to write a stand-a-lone novel or a series? Why?
I realized recently that I like to tell stories that happen within the Stewartville universe. Devil’s Dip, a short story of mine that appeared in Midnight in the Graveyard anthology, was about a character who had grown up in Stewartville, though the story itself didn’t take place there.
10. How can readers find you?
I’m not as good about social media as I should be, but I do post occasionally on Twitter at @ShannonNova3 !
Shannon Felton lives in Buckeye, Arizona with her husband, their four children, and three dogs. The Prisoners of Stewartville is her debut novella. Follow her on Twitter @ShannonNova3
P.S. You can find Shannon’s stories in several anthologies as well.
You have written many novels, and most are time travel or sci-fi – what drew you to this specific type of genre?
The easiest answer to this is to say that I was inspired by my love for Back to the Future that I saw at the drive-in theater with my parents in 1985. It is my all-time favourite movie and gave me my love of time travel, which also extended to science fiction in general.
Do your story ideas come easily, or do they develop over time?
Some of them come easy while others take quite a bit of time. Initial ideas come pretty easy. I’ll hear somebody say something or I’ll be listening to a song and that sparks an idea. My ideas come from many different places. It seems I always have ideas coming. I have a list for NaNoWriMo up until 2028.
What is your writing process?
I usually just sit down and write. I’ll come up with an idea and I may take a few notes, but I don’t do a lot of plotting. I prefer to just write and figure things out in editing.
Do you have future projects pending?
I have two projects in editing right now and another one ready for editing, but I’m honestly not sure what I’m doing with that one. I also have the previous year’s NaNoWriMo project that needs to be completed. I unfortunately did not meet my goal.
You are attending a book fair event on 24th September, can you tell us about it?
Yes. Words in the Park is held in Sherwood Park in the Strathcona Community Center’s Agora Room from 9 am – 4 pm on Saturday. I’m really looking forward to it. This is the first live event for Words in the Park that we’ve had for 2 years. There are going to be around 30 artisans, and authors in attendance. There is going to be lots to do for all ages.
Tell us a little about your most recent published books?
What inspired your novel Virtual Age?
I’ve always liked the idea of virtual reality. I can’t think of any one thing that inspired the idea. As for the title, I came up with that at work. I work as a commercial pipe insulator and I remember being on a job and I had to wait for material as it hadn’t been delivered yet. As I was waiting, I took notes on the different ages from history – dark ages, iron age, computer age, etc. – and I ended up using that list in the book.
Do you think this format could become real?
I wouldn’t be surprised. I hope it doesn’t come to the point where it becomes a necessity for survival as the world dies but, as far as the technology is concerned, we are becoming more and more advanced as the years go on. Today VR is impressively advanced; maybe one day we’ll get to step into these computer worlds rather than just have images coming at you.
Would there be dangers to being immersed in such a ‘world’?
I could only imagine the dangers that would be involved with immersing your mind into a computer. I included some of the dangers, in my novel, I figured would be relevant in this scenario.
Does your narrative have a message for your readers?
In most of my books I include the message of acceptance and trust – accepting people for who they are and trusting people until they give you a real reason not to. Don’t judge someone before you get to know them.
When did this story idea come to you?
I’ve had this idea for years. I don’t know exactly when I came up with it. All I know is I heard the Journey song Don’t Stop Believing. There’s a line in the song about a couple meeting on a midnight train. I loved that idea and it spawned from there.
Do you believe in ghosts?
I am intrigued by the idea of ghosts. I have not had any experiences with ghosts and am kind of skeptical. I think if something has happened or were to happen, I would try to explain it away logically. Though, I hope there is something out there.
Why did you base the novel in Edmonton’s LRT system?
I based the novel in Edmonton because I love where I live and, because I live here, it’s easier to write what you know. I chose the LRT system because it perfectly met with my initial inspiration of the couple meeting on a midnight train.
Hello Baby, Nice to Meet You!
Why did you write this story?
I have always wanted to write a children’s book. I have had other ideas in my head in the past but then, when my sister announced she was pregnant, I had an idea to write a book for her child. The title of the story was going to be for a very different story. In that one it was going to be about a father trying to get to the hospital in time to see his wife have his baby. I chose to change the idea as I thought a book about animals would appeal more to kids.
Did you base the characters and location on personal experience?
It’s not about anyone or any place in particular. I did grow up on a farm but, by the time I came around, my parents had gotten rid of most of the animals. We did have cats, a rabbit at one point, and a bunch of laying chickens. I wanted to expand a little bit on what I knew, and chose the animals for the book that would be different enough from each other to be interesting. I could have done more, but I needed to draw a line somewhere.
What advantages does this story have for parents as well as children?
For parents it’s easy to read and there really aren’t a lot of pages, so if their child has a short attention span it’s great for that. For kids I included bits of trivia for them to learn from. Also, the kids will enjoy the brightly coloured illustrations of the fun animals and their young.
Who was the illustrator?
I illustrated it. This is the second full-coloured illustrated kids book I illustrated, but this is the first one I had both written and illustrated.
What drew you to thrillers and suspense as genres?
I have always loved thrillers, suspense, and mysteries. I remember watching shows like Cadfael with my mom when it came on Masterpiece Theater when I was growing up. I suppose I got it from her. She always had a love of mysteries. I’ve tried my hand by this point in multiple genres, and thriller is hands down my favorite. I can make it as light or as dark as I like, there is no formula, and I make my own rules when it comes to my story. I found that I thrive here and plan to stay!
Why did you switch from romance?
I wrote romance first because quite frankly, I was afraid to try writing a thriller. They seem so much harder, more daunting, and difficult to line out when you compare them to something formulated like romance. After my first few books, I got brave and tried my hand at it, writing Crazy Love, my romantic thriller crossover novel that launched me into the darkness where I reside happily now deep in the depths of thrillerdom. I was never comfortable writing romance, it just wasn’t me.
Would you write a standalone novel? What would your chosen genre be?
I have written a few of them, actually. Lucifer’s Game, Crazy Love, and my current work in progress is a stand-alone thriller that’s only weeks away from being put lovingly into my agent’s capable hands. My new book is a dark psychological thriller, but it is not a Deadly Sins novel.
Do you have a favorite character in your series and, if so, who and why?
Men are my favorite characters to dig into and write. I wish I could tell you why, but I don’t know. I think to date, my favorite one to write was Cain, in the Deadly Sins novel, Break My Bones. He was so layered and complex, and his motivations were fun for me to explore. His twisted history and relationships and how things ended up for him when his real heart was revealed. He’s a bad guy, but in the end, you almost understand him. I loved writing his story.
Did any 911 calls you received while working, give you ideas for your stories?
Absolutely! The reactions and actions of callers that I spoke to, the effects it must have had on their lives and loved ones- whatever they might have been going through that day, it all makes the gears in my mind turn. Not to mention the mental illness we dealt with on a daily basis in callers. I’ve had some chilling and strange phone calls that I use as seed when I create the mental illnesses that I write into some of my characters.
Is there a central message within your stories?
No one is all good- or bad. As you get deeper into the stories you see the layers of the characters and realize that the “good guy” or victim in the tale might not be so good. Did they deserve it? Are they the cause of what’s happening to them? And the bad guy, just what was it that made them bad? It’s one of my favorite things to do when I create new characters.
Tell us a little about the relaunch of Crazy Love. What was the impetus?
Honestly, it was my publicist’s idea when I told him that we got the book a new cover for the five-year anniversary. I thought it was a great idea, the new cover is gorgeous, and the book was the one that launched me to where I am today. Crazy Love was fun to write, and it’s one of my favorite stories to date.
What is your writing process? A daily routine or a looser schedule?
I’m all over the place. This book I’m wrapping up now took me about a year, longer than anything I’ve ever done because I can’t force myself to write when I’m not in the right frame of mind. God bless those authors that can do that, I, however, cannot. I do my best work by waiting it out, as frustrating as it is. But I don’t have a method or writing area, I can write whenever, wherever I feel the need.
CRAZY LOVE The relaunch of the critically acclaimed novel by award-winning novel, Rachael Tamayo
A rich and well-respected man teetering on the brink of sanity. A beautiful young woman that thinks it’s a harmless crush. An obsession for a stranger will push a man to the brink of madness and force a woman to rethink everything she took for granted as safe. By the time she realizes what has really happened, it just might be too late. Top 10 finisher in the 2018 Greenlight Screenplay Adaptation Contest.
Other Books by Rachael Tamayo:
Rachael Tamayo is a former 911 emergency operator and police dispatcher. After twelve years in those dark depths, she’s gained a unique insight into mental illness, human behavior, and the general darkness of humanity that she likes to weave into her books. A formerly exclusive romance author tried her hand at thrillers in her award-winning novel, Crazy Love, and loved it so much that she decided not to turn back. Born and raised in Texas, Rachael lives in the Houston area with her husband of sixteen years, and their two small children.
Can you tell us a little of your personal work/life balance journey? This is an interesting question, as my perception of work/life balance has evolved over time. As a corporate employee it meant leaving the office by a certain hour to go home and start doing the things I enjoyed, such as spending time with my family, socializing with friends, and engaging in sporting activities. If I was required to work beyond a certain time to complete a job assignment, I’d often feel resentment because it encroached on my ‘personal time’, denying me the opportunity to do what I actually wanted to do. I remember once asking to leave early for a special dinner, but a domineering manager and the all-important deadline took priority, so I was late to my own birthday party. Years later I was surprised to see more and more work colleagues take leave on their birthday, something which had never occurred to me – they’d obviously learned not to let work interfere with important life events. As a ‘loyal’ wage slave I would go to sleep each night filled with dread about the next day, forcing myself out of bed in the morning to face the drudgery of yet another round of stifling routine where someone else dictated my actions, and eventually the negatives so far outweighed the positives that I knew it was time to leave. Once I left corporate life behind to run my own business, I developed a totally different perspective on work/life balance based on my own priorities, and strangely enough I don’t mind working longer hours when I choose to do so. Today I love what I do, so that even when I’m working harder than ever, I have more energy at the end of the day than I ever experienced in the past. As Richard Branson wisely said, “My general attitude to life is to enjoy every minute of every day. I never do anything with a feeling of, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to do this today’.” These are important messages I share with my coaching clients because when you do what you love and love what you do, you spontaneously achieve the perfect work life balance.
How hard was it to ‘let go’ of expectations and reinvent yourself? I actually found it very challenging to let go of my parents’ expectations. Having left their own country to give their children a better life in Australia, and investing heavily in my education, I was left under no illusions about what they wanted and expected from me in return. They strongly ‘guided’ me toward a professional career, insisting that I lacked the capacity for physically demanding work that would place a heavy toll on my body. Looking back on my journey I’m grateful they steered me toward pen, paper and eventually computers rather than the backbreaking pick and shovel labour they had endured as children. However, I wanted more than they’d ever imagined, which involved at least temporarily disappointing them in my quest for self-fulfilment. Like life itself, no career is without difficulties, but we can at least choose the nature of those challenges for ourselves. I found the monotony of monthly accounting cycles mentally and emotionally draining, and ultimately unfulfilling, so with that stimulus it was relatively easy to reinvent myself into more commercial roles within the company – even pain can help us grow, if we maintain our vision of the future we intend to create. When I finally left the illusory ‘security’ of the corporate world to start my own business (something that would have frightened my parents), I again reinvented myself as a Career Transformation Coach and took another step closer to my ideal life. In that pursuit I’ve been compelled to learn marketing, public speaking, self-motivation… and even writing – things I never imagined for myself, but have embraced as invaluable tools for reaching a wider audience, and a bigger stage. The difference is that these skills are aligned to my highest values and vision for myself, so the reinvention process (which is actually growth) becomes not a painful ordeal but an inspired quest – all it takes is vision and discipline. It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is, and the result is being able to look forward eagerly to what might be rather than ruefully back to what might have been. The pain of regret far outweighs the pain of discipline, so I advise my clients that the first thing to embrace is change itself, because without change there is no life.
Is living in Australia a factor in how you view the world and its opportunities? Like anywhere on Earth, living in Australia has both advantages and disadvantages in the opportunities and challenges it offers, and the worldview it imparts. Being on the other side of the planet from almost everyone else (with different time zones) has meant some very early starts and late night finishes to connect with new people or attend educational and networking events online. This can be uncomfortable, but the benefit is that it’s also given me an unusual mix of discipline and flexibility – both of which are invaluable qualities in business, and in life. It’s an old saying that a prophet has no honour in his own land, but the reverse positive is that the further away you come from, the more people tend to listen to and respect you. To my surprise, I’m often referred to as Australia’s Own or “The Man From Down Under” which has a special ring to it, and has been a definite asset in spreading my message. Also, even though every nation is made up of individuals, they tend to have national characteristics in common, and the Australian archetype is that of someone open, honest, down-to-earth, egalitarian, as well as a little wild and rough around the edges – all charming and useful qualities when applied appropriately, so I have no complaints there either. Do you have a hobby? I don’t know if it strictly qualifies as a ‘hobby’, but my most enjoyable activity is walking and simply being in nature – something I find endlessly pleasurable, invigorating, and calming. Over the years I’ve deepened my appreciation for growing plants, the beauty and freedom of birds and butterflies, clear crisp air, and the warmth of sunshine on my face. Nature also provides constant metaphors, messages, and ideas that further enrich my writing and coaching work. Is the book a culmination of your coaching and life experiences? Yes. “The Phoenix Career Principles” was inspired by my own life journey, the lessons I learned by observing the paths of others, and an awareness of the life-changing power and potential of a book.
My career had many ups and downs – from the heights of financial reward and professional recognition to the depths of tediously repetitive work and nearly losing my job despite exceptional dedication and loyalty. I went from being an integral player delivering an important project one day to nearly being sacrificed the next, merely to serve the company’s staff reduction policy, and the shock of almost losing my job was a key turning-point for me. From that moment on I resolved to no longer be a pawn on my employer’s chessboard, and began by shedding my jack-of-all-trades status to specialize in risk management. The move from generalist to expert authority secured my employment tenure by strengthening my “irreplaceability factor”. In the final phase of my career as an employee I was drawn to coaching and mentoring the next generation of leaders coming up in the organization. This was highly encouraged by management and provided the clue for my next career move – becoming self-employed as a coach. I now work every day helping others negotiate the difficult changes I faced alone, and it is extremely satisfying to pass on my hard-earned knowledge and make a genuine difference in the lives of those following in my footsteps. Without the company’s ingratitude for my contributions to their success I would not be here now, so I thank them in retrospect for their great ‘gift’ – of freedom. Why did you feel it was important to write the book? Well, for the greater part of my life I’d actually seen myself as more of a reader than a writer, but that changed back in the 1990s. At the time I was looking to break into the investment property market and would read a business magazine aimed at property investors. It provided expert advice on the property market outlook, economic and financial trends, and hot spots with the greatest capital growth. Each month the magazine also shared stories of people who had acquired investment portfolios of multiple properties while still in their late twenties and early thirties. When these enterprising young individuals were asked how they’d managed to achieve such financial success so young, they spoke of being disciplined with their money, having several jobs, following a plan, and making wise money decisions. But what caught my attention was that when they were asked if there had been a key person in their life who’d influenced their achievements, the most common response was that they’d read a particular book, and an incredible 80% of the time that book was Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. By applying its principles they developed the financial intelligence to invest their money in assets that generated additional sources of income, allowing their money to work for them instead of always working for it. In reading the stories of these young entrepreneurs, I was amazed that one man with one book could have such an impact on so many lives. This was the catalyst, the Aha! moment that led to eventually writing my own book. I was inspired to show others how to get their career working for their life, not just trading their life for an income – which is why I’m talking to you (and them) now.
What obstacles did you overcome in your writing? I think the biggest obstacles to writing are the significant amount of time it requires, and the disciplined effort and commitment it takes to last the distance. My editors tell me that an astonishingly high percentage of those who begin writing a book don’t make it beyond the first chapter, and there is a reason for this failure rate. Aspiring authors often talk themselves out of completing their books by listening to the negative monologue of the internal critic: “Who am you to write a book? You’re not a writer! It’s all been written before,” and the perennial favourite, “This is much too hard, why don’t you just quit?!” are only a few of the many excuses that end their authorship journey. When I was deeply immersed in the writing phase, during some research I came across a quotation from one of the greatest minds in human history, Albert Einstein, who said, “It is not that I’m so smart, but I stay with the questions much longer,” and that is certainly true for me as well. Although I’m by no means stupid, the key to overcoming the obstacles in writing my books was persistence more than raw intelligence. A final key factor is accountability. I hired an editor who knew her craft, was passionate about writing as she’d written her own books, and was a real disciplinarian. We met once a fortnight and kept in regular email contact to ensure that I remained focused on the task, and that I met her delivery schedules for each chapter. Just as my clients rely on me as a guide through what is for them unknown territory, I called on seasoned experts in their fields to assist me in my learning process here. So to repeat, for anyone wishing to follow this path, it comes down to commitment, discipline, accountability, and clarity about an important message that expresses who you are. If you have these four qualities, you will write your book, and it will change you in surprising and welcome ways.
Can anyone overcome their limitations to be their best self? Yes, I genuinely believe so. There are countless stories of famous, successful people who overcame the limiting labels imposed by others and went on to astonish and change the world. Elon Musk’s father said he would never do anything important in life. When Oscar winner Sidney Poitier auditioned for his first role, he was told to go away and not waste people’s time. The great Walt Disney was advised that he lacked creativity, and Elvis Presley was confidently informed that he wasn’t going anywhere in the music industry. And my favourite: Albert Einstein didn’t speak until the age of four, was academically backward, and due to his habit of whispering everything to himself before daring to speak aloud, the family nickname for him was “the mumbler”. When his concerned father, Hermann, asked Albert’s headmaster for advice about the boy’s future career he was told it didn’t matter because, “The boy will never amount to anything.” I remember a school friend saying I shouldn’t bother pursuing higher education because I wasn’t smart enough. Rather than crushing my dreams, his words merely strengthened my resolve to succeed and prove him wrong. Also, like most people of a certain generation I’m not the most tech-savvy person on the planet, but I haven’t allowed it to stop me. I’ve driven myself to learn the essentials so that I’m at least competent, and delegate the more complex activity to those who are gifted with computers – they make an income, and I get the best people working for me in a win-win resolution. If we look carefully, a deficiency in one area is always compensated for in another, such as the senses of hearing, touch, and smell in the blind becoming much more sensitive and acute. Not only that, our ‘limitations’ can be closed doors guiding us in the direction of our true capacities and destiny, if we just stop focusing on them and look with a clearer vision at what our mind and heart are calling us to do in the world. From a wider and deeper perspective, our limitations or incapacitates are either there to be overcome, making us stronger, or are actually hidden strengths directing our attention to our true gifts and desires. When dealing with so-called limitations there are two ways we can go – we can buy into the illusion, using them as excuses to settle for playing small, or we can use them as fuel to fire our determination to succeed. There are many ways to overcome or manage any limitations on the path to greatness, to becoming the best self we can be, and we’d be wise to embrace and understand rather than fear them. Do you have a guiding statement for your readers? Yes, I do. The essence of my book, and of my message, is that every single person has been given unique gifts and abilities that perfectly equip them for success in the world, in every area of life, if they can only discover, develop, and express them. A career need not be just a job, it can be the expression of who we are on the deepest level, and when we bring together our inner and outer selves in a way that provides value to the world, our ultimate success is assured. If I were to put it into one word, it would be this – purpose! Find your purpose, what you were put on this earth to do, and obstacles will dissolve and doors will open that you cannot even imagine at the present time. My fulfillment comes from helping people make this discovery, this connection. In a very real sense, your purpose is my purpose, and I’d love to help you find it, and grow it into a magnificent life. Are you working on a current project you can share with us? There is a trend in recent years away from reading print to listening to spoken books, so rather than seeing it as a limitation to the spread of my work I’ve engaged a narrator to produce an audio version of “The Phoenix Career Principles”. I’m quite excited about this project because he will not just be reading words on a page, he’ll provide expression and nuance, and also be adding subtle sound effects to enhance the reader’s/listener’s experience. Along with its content, this will further differentiate my book in the marketplace (the power of uniqueness), and facilitate its success.
Tony Pisanelli is a career transformation coach, author and speaker who knows that an entrepreneurial mindset strategy is your best career protection. Tony is the creator of a unique coaching method that expands people’s careers beyond a job for an income to a life worth living. He is also the author of “The Phoenix Career Principles” guiding employees to confidently step into an entrepreneurial path and lead a more satisfying life.
Employees whose careers are threatened by change or are drowning in deep dissatisfaction turn to Tony Pisanelli to advance confidently to a more secure and satisfying working life. Observing numerous work colleagues experience deep career dissatisfaction and who were unprepared for an unexpected job loss was the catalyst to become a Career Transformation Coach and Thought Leader. He is the creator of the E3 Career Transformation Method a coaching framework that charts an entrepreneurial path by recombining existing core capabilities to create a career that rises above a vulnerable job for an income to a life worth living. He is also the author of The Phoenix Career Principles that shows employees how become the driving force of their career. The book provides a blueprint to help its readers, keep their job while others are losing theirs, leave the job they hate and step into a new world of employment opportunities.