I have been given the opportunity to create a new writing/creative space for myself. This is exciting as well as daunting. There are many factors to consider apart from the placement of the desk.
Lighting – natural and artificial
The room has one window, which is central to one wall, so I want to maximize the natural light coming onto the desk. Added to this there is one ceiling light, which will cause shadows, so I will add a good strong lamp for desk work. Having a nice view is a double edged sword for writers – it is relaxing and refreshes the mind, but can also be a distraction. Therefore, I will place my L-shaped desk in such a way to allow focused work and nature watching.
I have to consider what ‘mood’ I want to convey with the paint colour on the walls. Do I go for a single or double coloured walls, or have a focus wall? When researching colours, I found that green boosts creativity, promotes harmony and is a good choice for brainstorming spaces. So that may be my choice, although there are a multitude of greens to consider! I The carpet is a light sandy earth tone so it will balance the room. I would like to have some sort of wall mural to make the room feel like a natural oasis and might invest in a large mural of a tree or hanging foliage to make the space feel like it is in nature. This will be especially nice when I endure the Albertan winter! I found some really nice ones.
Decor – natural and artificial
I love plants, so will choose air purifying and variegated leaf plants for this space. These include spider plants, English ivy, and pothos, all of which I have already, so it will be a matter of propagating and new pots.
There is also the texture to contemplate – soft and plush and hard and shiny to give the room balance. My floor lamp is silver metal, my desk a light beige, my office chair is a dark blue, and maybe I will invest in a plush rug for my feet. Then there are the other furniture items to think about – another bookshelf, a large armchair, a a crafting table for other creative endeavors…the list goes on!
All of these are just ideas at the moment, things change, ideas come to mind. It is the process that is the joy.
How did you choose to decorate your writing space?
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.
Back in November, 2013, I wrote the first draft of a western romance, Willow Tree Tears. Subsequently, it was edited and revised, but to date has not made it into the world. One character is an Italian businessman touring rodeo’s selling his high end leather cowboy boots. Like a bolt of lightening, it hit me that my latest obsession -Michele Morrone would make the perfect actor for this part, if the story was made into a movie. The first scene has my heroine glimpsing a white shirt among the leather and plaid attire of the rodeo crowd.
Of course, I then had to investigate who would play the other characters. This is a fun exercise for many writers and authors, not only because we would love all our novels to become movies, but also it can help us ‘picture’ our characters as we write. These are my options for the other characters.
Colton – ranch manager and high school friend of Madison’s. Secretly in love with Madison.
Madison – champion barrel racer.
Which actors do you think would be best for Madison and Colton?
We all know the saying ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ – however, it is the cover that initially attracts a reader to pick up our book. Choosing the ‘correct’ colour for your book cover can be difficult, as it will subconsciously give an impression of the genre/topic/trope of your story. We might look into the typical colours used for a genre, or go with our gut feeling and pick a colour we feel is ‘right’ for our narrative. No matter which avenue you choose all covers are an extension of us and our stories.
I am currently debating, which colour to use for an upcoming novella, which will be a prequel to a two-part series. The existing books have similar designs, but different colours to signify the different characters. As this third character is evil, having a black cover, or elements, will translate to the story of evil, and unhappiness.
Here is a list of colours and their significance with each genre.
Black evokes a serious theme and signifies mystery, death, evil, a sense of authority, power, control, and suspense, but also can feel sophisticated, modern, authoritative, and formal. It is most commonly used in horror, thriller, and mystery genres.
Gray is a neutral color associated with wisdom, sophistication, knowledge, and prestige, but also depression. It elicits an emotional spectrum ranging from remote, distant, cool, and bored to serious, focused, and intelligent.
Green is associated with nature, vitality, environment, health, evoking a soothing, refreshing, and tranquil state of mind, and is therefore a good fit for high fantasy novels or environmental nonfiction. Although it is one of the least-seen colors for book covers, it is often equated with a fresh beginning, excitement, vitality, wealth, and even jealousy.
I chose green not only for my medieval fantasy, but also my children’s picture and chapter books.
Blue has many associations including thoughtfulness, trust, calmness, serenity, inquisitiveness, dependability, mental engagement, sadness, stability and trustworthiness, safety and elicits feelings of calm and serenity as well as nature. Blue is commonly used for covers of political memoirs and nonfiction as well as more thought-provoking fiction. The choice of blue hue changes its meaning as a dark blue or indigo means intuition, truth, sincerity, and trust.
Purple/Violet signifies spirituality, prosperity, transcendence, harmony, while dark purple is related to royalty, depth, wealth, and fantasy. For my YA fantasy novella, Clickety-Click as you can see, I chose a deep purple not only for the background, but for the creature!
Yellow is a striking colour, evoking feelings of motivation, warmth, ambition, fun, cheerfulness, happiness, creativity, and energy, and in all has an attention-grabbing effect. However, it can also be grating and annoying, or even aggressive, while pale yellow is warm, friendly, approachable, and inviting. The choice of hue for yellow is paramount to balance the effect you are looking to convey.
Brown might seem an odd choice and dull, but it evokes feelings of nature, comfort, gives an ‘of-the-Earth’ vibe. Ecological genres may utilize a brown hue for a cover. I, however, utilized rich golden brown backgrounds for three books – a steampunk, a speculative fiction and a reincarnation romance. I find them atmospheric.
White is associated with purity, cleanliness, safety, simplicity, self-sufficiency, freshness and peacefulness. Although, white can come across as stark, bland, or cold, it is well-known as a symbol of purity suggesting a straight-forward, simple book.
Orange is a color associated with playfulness, energy, creativity, dynamic, positive, optimistic, hopeful, confidence and attention-grabbing with feelings of warmth and happiness, but can also be found to be overwhelming and cartoonish. Interestingly, I chose a blue background with orange lettering for my upcoming crime trilogy.
Red conveys energy, enthusiasm, emotion, power, dominance and aggression responses as well as angst for horror and thrillers, but with the choice of a softer tone also gives a feeling of passion, excitement, hunger (desire), love, and warmth.
Pink depending on the shade of pink, this hue can evoke feelings of passion, romance, innocence or childishness, femininity, playfulness, love, tenderness, youthfulness, emotion, and innocence.
With a combination of a deep rose and mahogany hues my YA alien adventure reflects the four young friends and the invading creature.
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.