MISS MEINA -The Mighty Femcee Racing In Her Lane

Megan Salisbury has covered some ground since that very first performance when she had serious stage fright and the usual mayhem which happens to all artists as newbies “cd wouldn’t play, my mp3, mic wasn’t right, PA wasn’t good…I did my one song 3x at first.” No longer is she the same performer because nothing has come close to that first time. Born Shamienia , she quickly warns me the ‘spelling is crazy’ and I’d equally say the pronunciation as well lol. She’s a New York Rookie all the way, marking August 28, 1989 the day she graced the earth in Syracuse. We had a chance to meet-up beforehand to acquaint and get to know each other. Quite pleasant, even highly optimistic in nature I was filled with good vibes and warm fuzzies (wait -does anyone still say that?!? lol) something that’s hard to find and I would especially suspect from the traditional New Yorker. It’s hard to resist her instant likeability and coming from the less than safe and “perfect” life many of us are truly blessed to have makes it truly an honor to make her acquaintance  and gives me all the more reason to cover her as our Next Artist on the Rise in our Newcomer Edition! With so much ground left to uncover I’m sure we will be hearing more from her, only time will tell. She is a promise😉

Compared to the childhood I’ve experienced it is always a rude awakening to meet individuals like Meina who were not as fortunate. Never to be taken as a charity case by no means because she is a fighter, a true force to witness, it is through all her experiences she is the driven, lively, ambitious, and goal-oriented person she is today. She is a victor not a victim and that is what it is all measured in.

MAC'S BAD ART BAR
Courtesy of Meina

“I come from a biological family of prostitutes, drug users/dealers, and mental cases haha I don’t know too much more due to the situation in which I was adopted.”

I didn’t know whether to bust out in laughter in shock or keep my mouth ajar because this is just a sample of what to expect lyrically if not personally GRITTY & as REAL As It Gets. Nothing to hide with humor at its core. Many can connect and understand.

Reaching outward is her plan with the expectation of networking to a broad range not only in the US, but internationally.

‘especially being in Syracuse where nobody really goes anywhere you need to network and promote.’

With the economic crunch still affecting the US economy the basic essentials are pretty much the same: networking and promotion, nothing less.

‘I absolutely do and being in Syracuse it’s so hard to make any moves it really just comes down to networking promoting and repeats!’

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Courtesy of Meina

By the “stars” she’s in the same group as another high-profile reigning Pop sensation Beyonce Knowles.

‘I’m a Virgo’ acknowledging proudly with a smiley :] We start discussing this duality between her Rap Star power Meina and your every-day girl Megan…

Do you have various personae you enjoy tapping into or is what we see what we get?

Fabulous question! Yes that I do, just 2 sides though-Megan and Meina. Megan would be he more laid back more reserved and maybe even the smarter side of me lol. Meina on the other hand is the aggressive get stuff done side. I guess in a simpler sense Megan is like the heart of this lyrical creature and Meina is the armor!

Meina Vs Megan
Courtesy of Meina

I guess in a simpler sense Megan is like the heart of this lyrical creature and Meina is the armor!

Approaching different challenges are exactly what the armor of Meina will come in handy for! When discussing any misconceptions she receives as a cutey pie and her prospects on being a leading female emcee she runs into the usual b.s. But hey, she’s up for the challenge.

JESSAH SERAFINI PHOTOSHOOT
Courtesy of Meina

It must be a pain to have to defend your ‘title’ and keep moving forward, doesn’t it?

Yes I can’t stand it because for the longest time at open mics or even just talking to people on the street its “oh you do music so you sing let me hear you” I usually respond with “no I’m an emcee and I’m probably better than you” ;] There isn’t any difference really between my stage persona and my life persona just me ……and Meina.

Funny story, I was adopted and my original birth name was Shamieinia, (yes spelling is crazy) and then, since it was a closed adoption, my name became Megan which in turn gave me my 2 sides Megan and Meina.

With the usual 25-34 year old fans that usually swarm the hottest venues and hot spots with intense force for a young act like herself; they’re not the only ones dividing their time to witness a star in the making! Oh no mah dears😉

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Courtesy of Meina

…and by having a select group of followers you’ll be surprised to know there isn’t a particular entourage that swarms her at every show.

Honestly I have no normal fan base. Though one of my favorites was an older lady probably about 80-90 years old and she would always “rock out” to my sets!!! I also have people telling me their small children like to dance to my music as well so I mean no specific fan base I like to piss off people equally =]

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Courtesy of Meina

And by ‘Pissing people off equally’ it is exactly what Miss Meina intends to do with her abstract perverse humor as she likes to call it! Get ready for some fire-throwing and competitiveness with the guys because she has her game cap on in this male-oriented genre.

MEINA2
Courtesy of Meina

I’m essentially taking everything I’ve lived through, survived, experienced, and venting with abstract perverse humor while maintaining the actual lyrical skill. I’m also supposed to be showing I can be a female Emcee without sleazing myself out and rapping in the same bracket that is expected from a male.’

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Courtesy of Meina

Should we be expecting any exciting news from you very soon?

YES. This year my full length LP, next in line after my EP will be completed, also Meina Records. Well Spezie and I are working on 2 EPs to lead up to a full length we are doing. I also have tons of collabs set up and actually a showcase coming April!

And by Meina Records you’re referring to your own label, correct?Absolutely! I [also] have a manager, Alan Haung, for Meina Records.

Don’t get it twisted Kool World, she’s so used to doing her own thing as a female Emcee she just needed a respected individual to manage this self-made label while she handles the creative part herself.

…not [a manager] for myself because I’m used to managing me.

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In discussing her upcoming EP and LP she gave a few hints as to what is to be expected, but was mum with the subject matter until the release date arrives. After listening to her current work it is sure to be interesting what she comes up with.

What can you tell us about what you’re working on?

For Undefined EP and LP(soon to come) I chose that because everyone always wants to fit a certain title when they first release something but since this is kind of my intro to the game I’m like well I don’t want to be defined because that means someone’s already done it. So for the EP and LP my producer and I are trying some different approaches between the composition and even with my lyrics. In the sense there really isn’t a set theme. Coming up however, I am definitely having some themes but I can’t really go into detail ;]

MEINA3
Courtesy of Meina

‘I honestly just have stayed true to myself because people will love you, people will hate you, people will support you, people will degrade you, but at the end of the day it boils down to you because the “haters” you get in music weren’t there for the rest of your life so why do you care? You shouldn’t, because it has been me, myself, and I through 95% of my trials.

Oh come on sis! You can give us a hint, can’t ya?!! Well anyways…let’s talk about your lyrical flow. I hear that punch lines are common in your verses and you mentioned ‘most people don’t catch it with one listen every time’.

Can you throw some out?

Hmm putting me to the test….it’s hard for me to pick them out because I’m the one who wrote them so to me of course they make sense I guess you all will have to listen to my tracks over and over ;] but I guess an example may be:
“I go to battle rap and I’m attacked by a whack match, so here’s my book of phat tracks, in other words I scratched that…”
I don’t know that’s the best I can think of haha.

Courtesy of Meina
Courtesy of Meina

Have you worked with any well-known or top producers?

Not really just my producer haha I consider him (Emmet Van Slyke) to be the cream of the crop!

With so many showcases such as Spark’s Contemporary Art Space that give the opportunity to deliver your artistic best and hopefully get one’s name out there matters greatly. With Foolapalooza, as one of many events Meina attended, not only did she make an appearance but she made history as the ONLY Hip-Hop act to perform on stage. If that doesn’t set the tone for greatness, then nothing will!

‘I’ve done a few different showcases but the Foolapalooza had me a bit nerved for the fact I was their opener and the ONLY hip hop act haha but everyone loved the fact I brought the energy gave them an enjoyable performance and even appreciated the lyrics.’

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Courtesy of Meina

There are sooo many who came before you who paved a path for Artists like yourself to have a voice to do what you love. Is there anyone who you admire exceptionally?

MC Lyte definitely my old school favorite!!! Though I was definitely influenced by Tupac and of course Eminem

Source: ARTISTOPIA
Source: ARTISTOPIA

And it is too coincidental that you would mention her. Just the other day I saw the back-in-the day smash ‘Ruffneck’ and it had me jumping haha. I’ll never get over the 90’s ever. My  other fav is ‘Poor Georgie’.

At this moment, do you see yourself headlining arenas, venues, concert halls, or independently at your own pace and developing your own endeavors?

I’m not at the point of headlining or any of that. I’m definitely doing it independently right now but I’m more so taking the approach of lining my ducks up nicely in a row and feeding them 3 course meals, 3 times a day, fattening them up because then all I have to do is shoot, and bam I have fat ducks and only used one bullet!

For V-day you shared a tribute music release for your pet rabbit Thumper who was killed in 2013, which speaks to your “love for humanity’ side. I believe this with your statement, “everything that lives needs to be treated equally and loved”. It’s very heartfelt. The world of Hip-Hop can be gritty, grimy, raw, and hard-core. How do you balance this side of yourself with your Artistry?

I typically don’t at all I just do what I want lol. I think I’ve proven enough though that my songs, yes are gritty, grimy, and inappropriate but people know I have a 0 tolerance for: hate, bullying, ignorance – all of that. It is hard to balance this because I am essentially the bully of rap, lyrically.

Courtesy of Meina
Courtesy of Meina

‘ I am essentially the bully of rap, lyrically…’

Woa you’re going to gain some competition after that! The ‘lyrical bully of rap’ -sharp. So let me mention this one song that you know I reacted to instantly lol, Still Sucking My Dick, for anyone who would see you for the first time would mistakenly confuse you with looking like a guy, or a boy with your Artist image. With a title like this it makes sense, but since you are a female what was your message behind it?

Well writing that was from a low point in my life, I used to do pills, weed, alcohol and nicotine excessively like I should be dead and I remember the time that I knew I had to stop the pills and weed, because I still love my nicotine and a drink every once and a while, and it was after some pills and it was such a horrible eye opening experience so I stopped right then and there. Of course that meant I had to cut people out of my life and get back on the path to recovery. Well people gave me so much shit like oh you’re not the same you’re pussin out you changing up etc. etc. so I had a response of well I’m getting my shit together and I’m guna bounce back 10 X harder so you all will still be sucking my dick.

And with that being said now the big question that may bring some umms lol, does your family stand beside your rap dreams?

They support my musical interest but aren’t really a fan haha.

There’s a possibility Meina’s quick use of words doesn’t begin with her, but may have come from the closest relation she can have. Looks like the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree!

Well my mother was apparently very intelligent so that may play into my ability to manhandle words!

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Courtesy of Meina

As far as gaining attention in your community…

I would say I’m relatively known I’ve really busted my butt to make people aware of me whether or not they wanted to. I am always looking to expand to a wider audience! Actually my producer and I cross a lot into the rock appeal and a little synth stuff but honestly a good portion of my fans are rockers!! I am actually working on revamping a song that was on the EP and rock it out and get it on one of our local rock stations so keep an ear out!

Courtesy of Meina
Courtesy of Meina

With rap being a form of Artistic expression that is commonly dominated by males you’ve mentioned “No one gives me a chance, I’m a female emcee in a man’s game”. What has the journey been like for you so far in terms of reactions from male spectators, competitors, and trying to be taken seriously to get further ahead?

Like I said previously everyone would assume I’m a singer because I’m a female that got old real quick so that really pushed me to make it a point to stick it to people and show hey you don’t need dangly parts to be an emcee ! Recently I have definitely seen support for my male counter parts and its great it’s something I’ve never had so I appreciate that locally and even internationally. I think it really shows a lot when in a male game I am backed by many guys who respect my skill and aren’t just like yea well she’s a nice piece of…ya know and instead are like yea I don’t wanna make her mad on the mic haha.

As I asked about what the competition is like with other fellow fem emcees the reality of the scarcity comes to the forefront!

There aren’t many females that actually step up where I am.. so I can’t fairly answer that.

Writing or song-writing usually goes hand-in-hand with rap artists since many of them take pride in memorizing and delivering their own material. What do you enjoy about putting your thoughts on paper?

Well I never used to in the sense of having gone through a lot so to vent I would write angry, mad, sad etc. things. Well certain people didn’t like that so I was essentially told I couldn’t write like that. I started just memorizing things then it got to the point of you know, this actually sounds good, I actually might be good at this and with my growing skill: grew confidence which grew balls and grew the need to write things down.

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Courtesy of Meina

Staying focused and driven with every hurdle, when it comes to valuable advice that would be expected from a seasoned professional or wise ole’ sage Meina relies on her own to keep herself grounded.

It’s my own advice of why I did start writing to begin with. Essentially saying don’t forget where I came from everything I’ve survived and to get my sh*t together it’s too late to turn back.

What is your take on free-style battles and cyphers?
Around here we really don’t have that I mean I freestyle or cypher for fun but nothing serious, Meina Records actually started freestyle Sundays which I can’t guarantee they will be good haha we just do it to have fun but maybe I’ll have to start something up !!

Courtesy of Meina
Courtesy of Meina

In an average day it is nothing short of expectation how ‘a lot of people talk about how Music is what she breathes and literally does’ with a job she manages and multi-tasks. Sleep is out of the question!

There’s the first problem assuming I go to sleep haha!! Ok let me stop messing around I’ve noticed a lot of people talking about I live and breathe music but I literally do. I wake up check my phone to see if I have messages or calls, I check my 2 music emails, I check all the media sites, I post up at least 3 different music related things whether its Facebook, twitter, linked in. then I go to the bathroom and such get ready and get going to work. While driving I have tons of instrumentals to practice free styling I get to work get what I need to done or set up and write lyrics or continue to work on paperwork I track the traffic of our sites I research marketing and promoting I look into advisors that are established, I set up business meetings etc. Then on the way home I either practice newly written lyrics do a business call (hands free of course) or continue to practice free styling. I get home make dinner and get on the comp to check everything as far as sites go maybe work on some beats promote and go to sleep at about 3-4 AM then I’m back up at about 8-9 and do it all over =]

Activism may be the next big possibility in life’s many twists and turns for her. Activities may range from traveling, skating, reading, partying, and many more for chill time. Maybe or Maybe not for Meina – It’s ‘standing up for living things that have no voice whether human or not’ that gets her going and brings heat to her live performances.

Courtesy of Meina
Courtesy of Meina

Taking a step out of what we know can be adventurous and traveling is still on the horizon! When I asked whether she’s been anywhere outside of the country her response shows she’s more than ready as a first timer.

No I have not yet but I plan to!!!!

Is there anyone you want the chance to meet in person?

I have no idea to be honest probably someone from our past because if you don’t learn from history it will repeat itself.

The choice of garb she likes to don is at its simplest.

No difference haha [between my street and stage look]. I love pjs and sweatpants but my advisors say I should definitely pick something because you never know who you will run into, so I throw on jeans, a beater, and call it a day that’s as dressed up as I’m getting !!

Courtesy of Meina
Courtesy of Meina

“I’m not saying I’m going to change the world, but I guarantee I will spark the mind that will”

Within the next few years what do you see for yourself?

In the next 5 years I will have a bachelors in global business, I also see Meina Records as a completely self-sufficient record label with even more great artist. I will also be at a good age to have a mini me but I cannot even imagine that right now haha

I want to make one person life better through my music even if it’s just for 2 minutes.

On Keeping Up with the Latest & Greatest.

Follow us on our networking sites and like and share!! Don’t forget me and my label have music online just about everywhere!!!! Also merchandise coming soon!!!

Courtesy of Meina
Courtesy of Meina

Want to know more about what’s happening in Meina’s World & The Best With Meina Records Check It Out At These Sources!

MISS MEINA Reverbnation: click here

MISS MEINA – MEINA RECORDS Soundcloud: click here

MISS MEINA – MEINA RECORDS – YouTube: click here

MISS MEINA OFFICIAL Facebook: click here

Maazi Aamir The Multi-Instrumentalist Throwin Down The Jazzy, Bluesy, & God-spelling Swag

We’re back Kool World with another edition of our Artists series! We’re hanging out in L.A. also known as Los Angeles, California with one heck of a musician. And we’re not talking about your typical drummer, bassist, guitarist and the whole rig ma-roe  even though that is exactly what this cat does – The complete 1 man band, exactly. I’m talking about multi-instrumentalist Maazi Aamir with his fusion of the ‘passionate, melodic, and funky’ letting the music flow from the spirit with passion and love.’ If that doesn’t give you a hint as to what Greatness you’re about to embark on then I don’t know what will😉 Join us as we explore Maazi’s World: Rocking out along-side all-time favs like Teena Marie, Kirk Franklin, George Howard, and Al Jarreau, The one man that believed in him so much to invest in his music career, the one place he would love to perform whose name inspires the giddiness in kids everywhere😉 And more with our next Artist on The Rise.

We start out with one of the most silly mess-ups I can begin our chat with! Let me remind you Kool World, even for professionals like Maazi it is only laughs when these mishaps happen because he’s just a laid back, chill guy, who delights his audience with self-made Art. But I’m good at turning the face red with my flattery so maybe I can pull this all back into focus again. Don’t let the bashfulness and blushing fool you😉

As I wipe the egg off my face, Mr. Aamir let me just make sure we have this for the record (since I should’ve never listened to one of my sources on this one! lol) So a little birdie told me that you’ve been rocking out with a well-known Hip-Hop Act, who goes by the name of Weezy, please sir correct me lol.

No I have never worked with Weezy. If I get the call to play and I am free I will gladly play for him.Lol

Well we’re making a point to send it out into the universe. Lil Wayne you may just need to pay attention to this guy right here because he’ll bring the heat to your shows😉 (Hopefully I redeemed myself now).

MZ4

I should know better anyways because your style is so classic, groovy, & jazzy. Not to discredit your versatility because I’m sure you can bring the street rawness out for a set with Weezy. There’s a no-bars held aura of energy you send when you play. Definitely the touch of Divinity and pure talent there, for sure.

With 2013 passed and behind us it didn’t all bring the expected joys of being a performer working with well-known music stars and mind-blowing instrumental sets.

The start of 2013 was a bit rough for me with the passing of my big sister, other than that I had a good year performing and recording my music and producing other artist and did a few tours.

As we all live we come to understand the hard truth about creativity and inspiration- sometimes the hardest experiences, circumstances, and hardships give us the muse for amazing work. Life is worth living even through the tough patches and as each day passes on, everthing that happens around us is unavoidable. We take the beauty we can out of the worst and we turn it into the story of our existence.

MZ7

What is the starting place of your story to greatness…

I was born in 1970. I am originally from Los Angeles, California. Growing up in the city was great. I got to experience a lot of positive things and had some awesome role models.

Coming from a strong musical background, Maazi is literally born with musical talent as an aspiring musician but it wasn’t until he encountered one particular man that it secured his future.

My granddad played the piano, my sister played drums, and  the organ; I have cousins that play instruments and sing as well. I was discovered by a gentleman named Anthony Wright who believed in me as a teen..He purchased my first bass guitar and piano. May he RIP..If It wasn’t for him I’m not sure if I would be the multi-instrumentalist I am today. I’ve been playing [the bass] for about 31 years now.

” I can’t see a life without music.I don’t know where I would be without it. ”

MZ11

His family, not only musically-inclined, are also the source of what matters so much for him pursuing his dream.

My mom was my biggest supporter. Yes that is the best thing in the world.She is in heaven and I know she is cheering me on.

Bass, Drums, Keyboards…you’re the whole percussion section! Very accomplishing lol and amazing. Since you’re good at everything ha! Are there any instruments you like more than others or any you want to try out?

Thank you! I really enjoy playing the bass Live. I would love to master the classical guitar. It is a beautiful instrument.

After viewing 2009 bass session “Freddie’s Dead” and other recorded free-styles, you will see why this is the type of music to play or watch on repeat.

ONE MORE LOOK

“One More Look” is an LP you released in 2012, tell us what your focus was for this album?

My focus was to showcase my composing and production skills.

Just like many musicians, he’s by contract a freelance performer – which means the door is open to ANY one, EVERY where, ALL The Time. That means there’s never a dull moment! Who knows who he can be in the company of, which makes him one of the big wigs (as I like to call ’em) but he’s so modest😉

I am a musician by all the above. I freelance and If the contract is right I will do that.Lol! I play with different artist,bands and studio sessions. Not sure If I can consider myself up there with the Big wigs yet, one day maybe. Lol!

So let’s cut to the chance and not prolong it any further Mr. Aamir!😉 Name some top acts you’ve rocked out on stage with.

I have graced the stage with George Howard, Al Jarreau, Teena Marie, Marvin Sapp, Lin Roundtree, Micky Howard, Kirk Franklin to name a few. I would love to perform at the Walt Disney Hall.

Your music has a hypnotic nature to it, partly due to your devotion and passion I’m sure and the wavy groove of Jazz! The Jazz elements clearly show; would you ever take requests to do covers of songs?

Thank you! Blushing! Lol! Yes if it is the proper setting and if I know the song.

MZ6

With great misfortune there was 1 particular person that would’ve been an honor to share the stage with.

I really wanted the opportunity to play with the great George Duke however he is no longer with us.

Are there any songs you find yourself drawn to that you must play when the mood hits?

That is a very hard question because I have many songs I love, I guess If I have to pick one It would be” The Earth Song” by Micheal Jackson.

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Michael Jackson – Earth Song

Not everything is as top notch as it appears, even the best have their off-days.

I have had some bad nights in the musical game. Poor sound engineers, faulty  equipment etc.

But it sure doesn’t stop the few wild fans that can’t get enough!

I have experienced many many stalkers just not from performing. Lol!

If you can have your own front and center prime-time spot, just you, in the venue of your choice, stage production, outfit, song-selection, and specific people in the audience – give us your moment of ‘awe’.

That would be the Grammys. I would give a performance of this lifetime that they will never forget..

MZ10

Even for that one glorious moment in the spotlight that can be remembered for years to come – the only place where Music shines its brightest and the most memorable performances are made.

If there’s any song that can be played for common emotions that we feel as human beings , which one would it be for you Readers? Well for one Jackson song it fits the mood.

That would be “This Place Hotel” by the Jacksons.
The Jacksons – This Place Hotel

Do you have a name for your followers?

I don’t have a name for my followers as of yet. 


What do you hope to accomplish for yourself in 2014, professionally and personally, if I might add?

I hope to reach a bigger audience and to win a grammy or two. Lol

MZ9

With the path that it takes to be a Grammy winner, the pressures are handled fairly well. I wouldn’t mind using it myself.

I just take a few deep breaths and tell myself all is well.

My mantra is “All my needs are constantly met”.

Even during these tough economic times we still face the resourcefulness can be found in just pure faith.

I just keep positive thoughts that I will continue to be taken care of financially through my musical gifts.It also helps that I play more than one instrument.

” I believe you are your own challenge.I just stay true to the music and It’s on auto pilot from there.”

It’s always fascinating when accomplished talents like yourself are star-struck or crushing on stars just like themselves😉 And yes you are one lol. You might as well spill it for us, who you got the hots for.

I have a crush on Gabrielle Union she is a very beautiful lady.

AHA! I knew it. Ms. ‘Being Mary Jane’ herself. She is quite the catch.

MZ5

Leading me to inquire for all the Ladies out here! What do you value in a potential someone?

I value honesty and love.

MAAZI AAMARI 2
I just let the music flow from my spirit with passion and love.I treat every performance the same with the best I can give.

” I just let the music flow from my spirit with passion and love.I treat every performance the same with the best I can give “.

During the downtime when there are no shows and performances on the agenda ______

I spend a whole lot of time in nature at the beach, parks, bike riding or roller skating. I also enjoy building motorized bicycles. I am not into sports.

MZ8

WHAT’S ROTATING ON MAAZI’s PLAYLIST:

The Urban Knights, The Doobie Brothers “What A Fool Believes”

The chosen song that would be the last if there were only a few minutes left on this earth is a classic of course. If 5 minutes were all that he had left his song of choice to perform would be.

 “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. That sound has a very uplifting and positive feel to it.

The world is filled with musicians who would do anything to reach the level of success you have reached. What advice can you give up-and-coming musicians?

” Believe in yourself and stay true to the music you love to play and compose. ”

Leaving us with a final thought, how would Maazi want to be remembered when he reaches the end of this amazing journey of music?

” I want my legacy to be that I cared and loved all people the same. ”

MZ3

How can fans keep up with the Latest and Greatest?

I am currently building a new website. They can find me on YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram and purchase my music on CDBABY.COM or all the digital music websites.

MZ1

CATCH Everything In Maazi’s World Available At These Direct Sources:

http://YouTube.com/MaazisWorld

http://Facebook.com/Maazisworld

http://Twitter.com/MaazisWorld

http://cdbaby.com/cd/MaaziAamir

http://Instagram.com/MaaziAamir

LMD of duo ‘LMD & Skeet’ Indianapolis Native Blazing His Own Hip-Hop Trail

Welcome Kool World to another edition of our Rising Stars in Music! Our travels lands us in Indianapolis, ID where well-known pop stars & celebs such as Babyface Edmonds, David Letterman, Vivica A. Fox, Steve Burton, and more hail from! We are visiting 19 year old rising hip-hop rap act LMD, who is also part of the GAS MASK NATION with SkeetheLyricist. Through the trenches of the path most taken while forging his way to notoriety in the ‘un’popular circle of his peers this young cat is bringing his undiscouraged spirit and unrelenting rap game to the forefront. With an undying love of skateboarding, purpose to use music as a powerful voice to the world, and candidly brash yet charming humor to top it all off lol, LMD will be sure to capture your interest permanently. He’s relatively unknown in the game, which means he has much to look forward to and learn on a path unpaved made for him to travel in this ‘competitive sport’ called Rap; But he’s showing those around him that he’s one tough nut to crack and it’s going to take much more than downing criticism to put his light out. Take a look into his world through candor and realness as he shares: his relatable humbling beginnings, what LMD stands for, how rock was his prime music of choice & how music unexpectedly came into his life, the unlikely formation of ‘LMD and Skeet’, defeating the ultimate stereotype as a white boy in a predominately black male genre of music, and much more as our Artist On The Rise.
Very Pleased To Meet You LMD!
Where can we trace your beginnings and what it was like growing up in your hometown?
I was born in Indianapolis, but for my earlier beginnings I would say it’s hard to say. See how I came up we moved around a lot all over Indianapolis, but I’m from the eastern side of the city for the most part.Well anyone who has heard my music can say it was hard, but it had its moments. My dad was never around and my step father was less than pleasant at times, homeless shelters, the works…Well we weren’t rich, and got evicted a lot so I’d say between humble and average.
Your associated act is your boy Skeet, also known as SkeetheLyricist. Tell us how the name ‘LMD’ came to be your chosen name.
Well originally I was Young Caesar until I heard it on the 50 cent movie and ever since my mom was the only biological family I had aside from my brothers. I adopted her initials as my stage name. So LMD is homage to her and all the sacrifices she made for us kids.

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LEFT TO RIGHT:
LMD (Justin Motley) & Skeet (Askia Shareef)

Now that you mention I can see where the idea for ‘Young Ceasar’ for your artist name came from. All you need is a toga, garland, and scepter and there you have it! lol. Smart idea though. I’m sure your mom was flattered and felt very loved to pay respects to her by using her initials.

Now here’s where our curiosity lies. How did you and Skeet become the classic duo ‘LMD & Skeet’ you are today?
Ha, actually when Skeet ( I call him that ‘love hate relationship problems’) and I met we almost fought. See what had happen was, it was freshman year of high school, so we all had that I’m the hardest cat on the block mentality, and I was in the lunch line and a friend of his cut in front of me and I said, you get behind me, I don’t play that cutting sh*t. So, his buddy got behind me and kept pushing Skeet into me and I turned around. I said, I don’t care who it is but if you push into me again we’re going to have a problem. His friend did it again, I turned around and said, Ok who’s a** is getting beat? Skeet being Skeet had his ghetto mentality come out and said, What you tryin to bump? And his buddy was instigating saying, bro you don’t want it, and someone yelled from the front, Leave that white boy alone before he beats your a**. So I thought it was done and over with. Then Skeet and his buddy came in the bathroom after lunch and his friend tried fighting me while I was taking a leak. Skeet was just like, really bro you gonna try to fight a dude while he’s using the bathroom? I was in his friend’s face and Dino (our DJ) broke it up. A month or so later we ended up having P.E. together and DMX got brought up and someone didn’t know who he was. We both said how do you not know who DMX is and we ended up rapping “Party up”, free styled some, and that was that. A week later he hit me up needing a partner for a rap battle because two dudes were double teaming him lyrically, so I came in and skeet and I murdered (won in battle against) them. After that we decided we want to do this seriously and pretty much have been like brothers ever since.
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Skeet then is really who you would give credit for your discovery lol.
Skeet for sure. He was the only one who took my rapping seriously. Without his egg headed a– I would not be where I am now lol.
To say the least you are an excellent story-teller! I had to fight back tears of laughter because your honesty is so sincere. It is real life what you experienced and even though there’s nothing humorous about male egos clashing resulting in physical disagreement, Justin, you’re rather entertaining. Maybe that’s a sign right there you’re doing exactly what you should be doing😉
Well originally it was just a hobby and then Skeet happened and he pushed me to peruse it seriously. That and the school we went to a lot of people slept on us because we were less than popular, while “popular” kids had people d-ck riding them. Now none of them are doing anything and have no buzz and at one point we out free-styled the guy who everyone was on and afterwards everyone started seeing just what we were about, that we have drive and we are serious about it.
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Unlike the contrary, for Justin ‘LMD’ music wasn’t even a prime interest in his day to day life. With skateboarding being his ultimate love, it wasn’t until an unlikely someone exposed it to him and from then on it opened up the door to genres rock, metal, then hip-hop.
I actually didn’t listen to a lot of music until my step dad came around. He introduced me to a lot of music. Actually I hated rap music when I was younger. I used to only listen to metal and rock. Aside from Eminem and 2pac I did not listen to rap. Then I ended up looking into it more and saw there was more to it than the stereotypical money, cars, and women thing people associate with rap and hip hop culture. I listened to bands Nirvana Metallica, Disturbed Godsmack, Jimmy Hendricks, and all of that. I guess it’s with the whole thing with age; your perception changes and mine did with music.
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LEFT TO RIGHT:
Disturbed Godsmack, Metallica, & Jimi Hendrix

For some families, pursuing a career path in the field of music is not as promising or secure in upholding a livelihood compared to jobs unrelated to the art. Unfortunately the vision cannot be seen the same way the Artist sees it. LMD describes whether his family supports his dreams and performance quality:

For the most part yea. Me, along with two of my younger brothers are very musical people. Actually Skeet and I were discussing this the other night. There is an obvious change in our music now than there was 5 years ago, both quality wise and lyrically. Every time we have performed we rocked the house and up staged the competition. Last show we didn’t even book ourselves; the venue invited us to perform because we apparently got really good reviews from previous shows.

As a team LMD & Skeet are doing it ALL on their own. Right now they are currently unsigned, but opportunities are showing their heads even if it is a hit and miss…

I did have a thing with a local label, but things didn’t fall through.

Whether you’re a creator of music or the listener there’s without a doubt a song(s) that we come across that we can’t get out of our heads whether it’s a hot song or a dud. It just has that affect on us all. LMD recants on the first time he heard a song that he loved to the point he could not stop playing no matter how hard he tried -and loved it so much it had to be performed.

It would be the very first song Skeet and I did together. We remixed “Spend Some Time” by Eminem off of his encore album. I heard it and was just like wow. I was beyond blown away. Lol I was mind nuked.

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Eminem

As we continue, LMD shares what is currently rotating on his playlist. You won’t be surprised to find it is the usual hip-hop artistry many up-and-comers listen to.

I’ve been on a huge old school kick lately lol Nas, 2Pac, Big Lo, Krs One and all of the old school emcees from the 80s and 90s.

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LEFT TO RIGHT:
Tupac & KRS-One

So far, what has it been like trying to get noticed for your skill-set and creativity in this creatively competitive field?

At first people used to be 50/50. This person would like it, then this person would hate it. I’ve learned that people in the music industry can be very fake at times and that really you cannot trust anyone at times. People who ride with you one day, turn their back the next, and next thing you know you’re beefing. Overall, the negativity we started out with changed and now people vibe out and love what we do. After shows people will be like “you yall killed it up there!” and things like that. Then there’s those people who just discriminate just to do it. I don’t say  hater because I think that term is over used in music, but there are people who do it just to do it.

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RIGHT TO LEFT:
LMD, Khiry, & Skeet “Lucid”
 LMD describes his style of Hip-Hop as ‘Aggressive, Old School/New School, Deep, & Descriptive.’ He’s making sure to bring the influences that inspire his style and fluidity and as far as his audience is concerned he uses his voice to focus on social awareness and whatever he feels like getting off of his chest (which is what we all are used to with popular acts out here mainstream).
My music primarily has a social awareness to it. It can also be very personal at times and a way to vent. There have been love songs. Politically/socially conscious songs before, and more. It all really depends on what my state of mind is at that time.
[For my music] I’d like to think it is helping people or at least hope it is. I want my music to help people and also make them listen. I feel like a lot of artists now do it for money and not for the people.
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Music is suppose to be a universal language and give a voice to those who do not have a voice, and I’d to think I am giving people a voice.
Who are what do you attribute your drive to as an artist?
Well originally it was just a hobby and then Skeet happened and he pushed me to pursue it seriously. That and the school we went to a lot of people slept on us because we were less than popular, while “popular” kids had people d-ck riding them. Now none of them are doing anything and have no buzz and at one point we out free-styled the guy who everyone was on and afterwards everyone started seeing just what we were about, that we have drive and we are serious about it.
Gas Mask Nation comprises of LMD, Skeet, Alex Rose (Will Rose). The name was created by member Alex Rose which LMD believes it means ‘masking the masses’ but can’t say for sure since he wasn’t around when the name was dubbed.
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Last year in 2013, the group performed at the Packed Bags Hip-Hop Showcase in Indianapolis to receive raving reviews as their first headlining show! LMD shares what the experience was like with the guys. It can only be STAR POWER😉
What I learned from it is that Will Rose sounds much better live jk lol No seriously though. Performing with the guys was great. We vibe off of each others energy and It progressively grows. Packed Bags was great especially since it was our first show that we head lined. We also did another afterwards that we opened for and we got an amazing response from the crowd and people recognized us left and right after the show and the compliments were over-whelming. We had DJ Spazz’s older brother Khiry with us as well and he brings such a great energy with his mix of reggae. Will Rose has done some shows by himself since then but I think we do best when we are all together. We vibe very well together.
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DEFINING SUCCESS:
Being happy with what you do. Society has success pinned as money and riches but I think if one is miserable with what they do then they are not a success. Now don’t get me wrong, having a little more money would be nice but as cliché as it sounds I’m in it for the love of music and the game.
Still building up their street cred and places to perform: contests, benefit shows, and guest appearing seem to be the most likely ways to gain attention and that audience. Instead rap battles are one of the most important ways of earning respect among fellow peers which can spread like wildfire.
Aside from a few battles here and there not really [performed at benefits, contests,or guest appeared]. Battling though just sends that shaky jitter feeling through you, you know? Like when we perform it isn’t even that bad, but when you battle there is something mat steak so I think those jitters kick in more because rap is like a competitive sport. You always have to keep practicing and perfecting your craft.
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Tell us about your fan base and one of your most unforgettable encounters.
Well it’s [the music] for everybody. Especially people who like ‘conscious’ lyrics. We make deep tracks people can relate to. Sometimes there is humor, other times it can be very serious, other times it can just be a gritty raw track. Age wise, I have seen people who are older vibe  more. Like late high school and on. Lol, there are quite a few [fans] I can name.
I had one girl actually track down my personal facebook and she started saying in quotes “oooooh my God like your voice is soooooo sexy”. I had one person stop me at a Tech N9ne show because they recognized me for my music, which I thought was really cool and had me in complete awe struck. I was just like, wow I’m recognized on the street by a complete stranger -how do I react?

We all know random stuff happens on stage during performances. No likes to be embarrassed in front of people, so has any malfunctions or embarrassing episodes happened for you while during a show?

Lol yea, our first time performing I forgot my lyrics so I improvised and free-styled the verse and it worked itself out. Only people who noticed was Skeet and Dino because they knew the lyrics. If I don’t do that I’ll hype the crowd and talk out to the crowd until I can pick up at the beat again.

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What is your stance on how to get the public to support ‘live music’ and see the shows?

Promotion, promotion, promotion. Give people a reason to come. Don’t just be like, ‘hey I’m performing, you should go.’ Give them an incentive to come. Make it something to remember and give them a reason to come back. Like our very first show a friend of mine came and now he comes to every show because of how much energy we have. He also got his first tattoo at one of our shows lol.

Can you recap a time when someone, one of your peers or an adult, made you feel inadequate and incapable of pursuing your dreams. What did he/she say to you and how did it prompt you to be even more driven to succeed?

I won’t lie, at times criticism has made me want to quit, but eventually you realize it comes with the music and more good is said than bad. When I started out though I can’t blame for people talking bad about it. I was really off-beat and the quality was terrible. Most of the time now though, when someone acts as though I am not adequate enough I feel obligated to prove them wrong, and won’t stop until I do. We had this one guy and his group of buddies habitually dog on us simply because we out rapped the guy. So they would make accounts on YouTube just to go talk shit on comments and dislike the tracks we do to make them look as though they were bad, but eventually we took it to the mic and it ended. I think it did because they saw we were actually serious about it.

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We see that you’ve experienced animosity, but do you also receive a fair amount of respect?

A bit of both. Usually it’s respect though. I get a lot and I mean a lot of people reaching out wanting to collaborate. We have some animosity before and point beefed with another artist.

Social media is not always on our side, especially when it can be used to discourage and prevent others from supporting and becoming fans. Running into competition can cause these set-backs to happen. It all comes down to this mere choice; criticism can be taken personally ultimately causing damage or it can be taken constructively giving amo and fire for improvement.

I won’t lie, at times criticism has made me want to quit, but eventually you realize it comes with the music and more good is said than bad. When I started out though I can’t blame for people talking bad about it. I was really off-beat and the quality was terrible. Most of the time now though, when someone acts as though I am not adequate enough I feel obligated to prove them wrong, and won’t stop until I do. We had this one guy and his group of buddies habitually dog on us simply because we out- rapped the guy. So they would make accounts on YouTube just to go talk shit on comments and dislike the tracks we do to make them look as though they were bad, but eventually we took it to the mic and it ended. I think it did because they saw we were actually serious about it.

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I’m sure it can be a bit much, do you have a ritual or mantra for getting through tough times?

Plug in my head phones or go skate and clear my head.

I have a slight OCD problem and when I want to do something I have to do it or it’ll keep eating at me and drive me crazy. So success is my only option and I’ll keep at it until it happens then some more.

Now one of the most heated points about what LMD does is coupled with his race, which is noticeably “different”. Like many rap artists before him with skin color not ‘matching’ the stereotypical black genre of hip-hop there came a need to prove that race makes no difference in what is true to you.
A lot of people just write my music off as just another white kid rapping, but then when they hear it, their opinion changes. At first I got a lot of sh-t for being a rapper in what is a predominantly black genre, but I hardly get that anymore. Once they hear the music they think differently. One person heard it before finding out I was white, and thought I was a black guy lol. It was pretty funny. I just look at it as all love and good vibes.
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I typically just ignore them [critics]. There will always be those who don’t like what someone does. I am my biggest critic and will look for points in my music to see what I can work on. I welcome criticism because it can help me better my craft
In regard to the music industry, what is being put out is less than satisfactory with the confusion and reversal of ‘whack’ music being deemed as ‘good’ in LMD’s perspective: ‘Isn’t music supposed to be the language of the world and how we bring people together?’ To add even more, ‘to push people to make change in themselves and society itself’. He knows that what his music will bring will be so much more that people can use.
I would change the overall aspect of it [music industry]. Like how “whack” has become “good” and how the mainstream has become so crappy. I would change how consciousness is now unacceptable and make it acceptable.
A lot of people blow conscious music off when music is suppose to be the language of the world and how we bring people together. Yea bangers and club tracks bring people together, but when I say bring people together I mean to push people to make change in themselves and society itself.I want to give people a voice and to be able to make people think. I want to help people with my music like music has helped me. I’ve had people say my music is exactly what they were thinking and that it helped them or even brought them to tears. When I hear things like that I know I’m doing something right and it makes me keep pushing on.
What are thoughts on the music industry as a whole?
Currently I dislike a lot of how the industry is. People seem to only do it for the  money and only listen to what the media says is good, instead of looking into it. Like music has changed so  much it is mind boggling. Like people will completely ignore lyrics and only go for beats and I’m just like really!?! Lyricists work hard to make their tracks and many people just ignore lyrical content now, making a lot of Artists be shelved. Over all I feel like a lot of stuff that is out is whack and would not have been on the radio 10 years ago. I actually discuss this issue in Hip-Hop itself in my EP on the song **”Originality”.

**”Originality”, the second single from The Chronicle EP
Any connections in the industry for a leg-up?
As of now not really. I mean I know other artist’s and such but real connections not really -aside from what Khiry is working on right now to get “Look At Me” on the radio.
Are you the writer of your lyrics & how do you deal with ‘writer’s block’?
Yes I write all of my lyrics myself. If I get a writer’s block I’ll take a small hiatus and get a change of scenery for inspiration. You have to live life to gain experience after all.I encourage people to download it. Plus some of the beats I do not own and have done for promotional use, so I cannot charge for some anyway.
There are so many sounds that surround us all the time. When there’s complete silence it feels like everything is still and we wait for it to break. What sound do you love to hear and which one drives you crazy?
I’ll break the silence with something random lol, and I absolutely cannot stand the sound people make when they smack their lips. Like, dude close your d-amn mouth!!!! My friend did it one time at Wendy’s and I took his burger and threw it in the trash. I hate it.
That reminds me…doesn’t Kelly Ripa have the same reaction lol. It’s called ‘misophonia’ it’s like a sound intolerance. READ More.
And when music needs a moment’s rest, skating is the hobby of choice as a passionate pastime.
I love skateboarding lol I used to do it for 6 to 8 hours straight until I hurt my knee. I’ve been skateboarding longer than I have been rapping actually.
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In your day-to-day life what are the top must-dos?
Getting my EP finished since it’s been pushed back for three years, and going to class for college lol.
What other art forms do you openly embrace? Literature for sure. I’ve read quite a few books. From “The Art of War” to many others. I read, so I better educate myself, and apply it into my music. I feel there is art in everything. The Japanese have made making tea into an art, everything in essence is an art form. It just takes time to learn them.
What are 3 things you can’t leave home without?
Food, water and oxygen lol jk I’d say music, skateboarding, and people. Even though I’m kind of shy sometimes I’m very social.
The best way to describe LMD’s worldly travel desires at the moment ‘There’s No Place Like Home’.
I’d like to see a few places, but right now it doesn’t matter to me. Home is where you make it, after all right?
And you’ll never hear it any other way from any one else ladies. Describing his type of girl with some of the goofiness, but intelligence is at the center to grab his full attention.
Big booties!!!!!!! lol (jk) I like a girl with a sense of humor, but I’m quite the joker. I also enjoy intelligence; nothing is more annoying than trying to have an intelligent conversation with a girl who purposely acts like she was dropped on the head or ate paint chips lol.
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Describe your own personal style: Any brand favs or designers you like?
Casual. I don’t really care about appearance. I’ll typically just have a t-shirt on and jeans. Although the only sneakers I’ll wear are NIKE’S. Well that and skate shoes lol. I wear black and white mostly. I don’t know why honestly lol. But purple is my favorite, but I don’t wear it -makes sense right?
What’s your favorite food?
Lasagna hands down, Garfield doesn’t have sh-t on me lol

If you had the power to change 1 thing in the world, what would it be?
To stop poverty and all forms of it.
What is the worst idea of a job for you?
Cubical work hands down. I don’t want to be stuck at a desk for the rest of my life. I would go insane, well more insane because I already am😉
If you could live 24 hours as any Artist (alive or deceased) who would it be and tell us what you would do.
2pac hands down. From numerous interviews of people who knew him have always said his drive was unmatched; that he was a workaholic. He would hear a beat, write, and lay it, then go straight to the next one. I would want to see his process and see his drive. I feel like it would inspire me to push myself more because at times I do tend to have a lazy side.
Are there any activities this year you want to challenge yourself to tackle?
Yea I want to learn how to blow sh-t up with my mind lol nah ummm, I want to learn how  to grind on hand rails better. I suck at it.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Hopefully within 5 years our music has really taken off. You know, touring and doing more than just local shows. Also hopefully I have my license by then lmao, 19 and still do not have it😄

Paying it forward to others aspiring to do what he’s doing and aiming to accomplish he gives his thoughts:
Just stay true to you and don’t let people discourage you. Music comes with criticism. Keep practicing your craft and never let someone tell you that you can’t do something. It will take time, but with work and patience things will work out.
What is your legacy?
Hopefully my music made a difference and if so then I will never die. My music immortalizes me. It will always be there for people to listen and as long as there is music, LMD will never die.
With music by his side, humanitarian prospects are equally seen on the horizon as we conclude our one on one we look forward to what comes next for this young up-and-comer!
In music I aim to give a voice to those who otherwise will never be heard. I want to voice what the people are thinking. I look at it as an Eminem quote “If I’m crazy enough to think of some sh*t then I am crazy enough to say it”
Very well said LMD😉 Lastly, how can readers and listeners keep up with you, the latest and greatest?
They can keep us with us on facebook on these links:
https://www.facebook.com/LMD.Skeet?ref=hl
https://www.facebook.com/SkeetTL?ref=hl
https://soundcloud.com/forgottentribe
They can also look us up on reverbnation by simply typing in LMD & Skeet.
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Julie ‘JV’ Stanley: Author, Poet, & Editor Paving Her Own Way With Literary Verbose

Welcome Kool World into the New Year 2014! We’re returning back to RPRAI’s Artists On The Come Up Series with the Latest Edition on respected Author & Poet (with a myriad of more to discover!) JV Stanley. For anyone who is reading our Artist Feature for the first time, having an actual writer is imperative to focus a spotlight on since ‘writing’ is a vehicle for many of us to express our full thoughts. Artistry allows us to have a voice through creative expression and just like art, it can be perceived ‘one-sided’ depending on how it is viewed. Therefore our purpose is to break the mold and enrich minds. In our meaningful and candid girl talk together we unearth the makings of the day-to-day life of your every-day writer: As a wife and mother in the balancing act of meeting needs & obligations of her family while finding time for herself, the challenges of staying committed to this “unconventional job” and never giving up on herself, describing how her work speaks to her through her voice AND as it speaks back to us, adding on the simple joys of life like her children, canning/jamming, ‘walking across waterfalls’ and  lastly the challenge that every writer and artist faces: Rejection and set-backs while finding the faith and inner-strength to never give up. Stanley revels in the thought that her time is coming and she has no intention of giving up now when she has come so far especially with motivation ringing in her ears of her biggest supporter & influencer, her father – “Do what you love, the money will come later”. The BEST advice to receive from someone you love in a field that doesn’t hurt to have as much backing and support as possible. Spend a moment of your time and become immersed in the poeticism and introspectively captivating philosophical story-telling of Ms. Stanley. You’ll feel as though you’ve known her all your life as our next ‘ARTIST ON THE RISE’.

Hi Julie, it’s pleasure engaging with you!

The first time we really talked was a few weeks ago and from what I know so far about you and reading your work you are a respected poet and author. I had the opportunity to read your poem”The Mortician of Inevitable Immortality” and it really caught my eye. I knew I had to meet you after reading it because the content was good and worthwhile to read! We must start where it all began to get the ball rolling of course!😉

Where and when were you born?

I was born and raised in Lower Michigan on the twenty-sixth day of October in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty at old-o-clock.  (laughs) I realize I’m not that old, but sometimes I feel old.

Ah the nasty 30’s! You’re only 4 years older than me, and I refuse to feel “old” lol. If I’m keeping it young and sexy then you must as well JV😉

Where do you currently reside?

During my senior year in high school, I immigrated to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I  morphed from city girl to country girl.  I ended up graduating up here and fell in love with the area.  My mom and stepfather moved and I decided to stick around.  I used to work as a dealer at the casino in Baraga and I remember a number of times before I’d go to work, I’d walk on waterfalls.  Yes, you heard me correctly.

Adventurer! I was like huh?!? Did she really say “waterfalls”. The bible mentions Jesus Christ turning water to wine and walking on water, so I guess you’re the modern-day version The Waterfall Walker, wow. Perhaps you can add to this unique skill you possess with explaining how you’re actually walking across waterfalls. If there’s a bridge involved then you aint that great lol.

My favorite pastime is walking on waterfalls.  Immediately following said adventure, I’d mosey on into work with my pant legs soaked to the knees and no one was the wiser.

Upper Peninsula

How many people can do that before work?   The Upper Peninsula is gorgeous, albeit, brutally frigid during the winter months.  It’s a bit of a common joke up here that we only have two seasons: winter and construction.

Without a doubt, who can literally say before work they walk on waterfalls lol. An adrenaline rush to say the least! Before work I’m usually running behind with time not being my best friend.

I live about forty-five minutes to an hour west of Marquette.  Michiganders have a tendency of calculating distance by how long it takes to get to one’s destination.  The Upper Peninsula is its own little world-tranquil, serene, almost like living in a completely different country.  Those born in the U.P. call themselves ‘Yoopers’ and have delicately nicknamed those residing under the bridge…yes, you guessed it.  Trolls.  I’ve lived up here since 1999, so at this point I consider myself more of a ‘Trooper’ than a ‘Transplant’.

You may already be waiting for me to make a “wise-crack” on this -Yooper & Troll (even though they can’t be avoided for laughs). Wish I knew names for the area where I live but all I can think of is “bubble-town” and entitled littletons lol.

Tell us about your childhood growing up.

I came from a broken, dysfunctional home.  I think that is what initiated my love of writing.  I kept a journal since 1989 and found that my prose was therapeutic.  It allowed me to reflect upon my life and gather insight into what I was feeling and why.  It later developed into poetry.  A few of my friends in middle school started writing poetry and I found that I appreciated the unique art form.  It was then when I began writing my own.  In 8th grade, I had my first poem published which subsequently won an award.  From there, I continued writing poetry and prose.

Now here’s something I can definitely relate to! Writing did the same for me in my life but instead of finding my inner voice through poetry, fine art became my subconscious outlet for what I was feeling. I can still hear my teacher of four years in high school tell me to relax and not be so heavy-handed. lol.

During the summers of my youth, I would go fishing, hiking, and participate in a myriad of other outdoor activities.  My stepfather fostered my love for the outdoors, including walking on waterfalls!  When I wasn’t off on an adventure of some sort, I would be in my room reading and writing to music.

Beneficial mix to have the creative mind flow of being outdoors and to come back inside to release it out. Reading was big for me too!

Did you have any genres or Artists in mind (at that age) that inspired your music writing style?

I didn’t have a strong relationship with my biological father until I was in my early twenties, despite the fact that I saw him once a week during his visitation during my youth.  This was entirely due to the very strained and hostile way my mother portrayed him.  It was later when I realized that I was a victim of parental alienation, which attenuated my connection to him while I was growing up.  When I finally realized that my mother had manipulated me against my father, I was able to connect with my father in a way that I never dreamed possible.  He fostered within me a reflective, more philosophically reserved way of approaching my problems and provided an attentive ear.  I attribute my outlook on life as well as my ethics and personal philosophies to my father.  His guidance and understanding through my adult years have proved immeasurable.  I cannot go a few days without talking to him.

As for my mother, we have been estranged for the past three years and I would like to continue to maintain that distance.

The physical and psychological damage that I had endured in my youth has affected the way I perceive relationships. However, instead of succumbing to the troublesome nature of abuse, I find it an invaluable facet in how I perceive life and the relationships I have with other individuals. Instead of allowing it to define me, I use it as a source of strength by which I can overcome and empathize with others. Instead of allowing it to weaken me, I’ve used it as a way to strengthen my resolve (as well as inspire me).

omg how awful…Again I can relate on this-more so on an emotional level. Your response to it is nonetheless similar as well🙂 You’re a brilliant mind JV and it may have much to do with how you’ve managed to turn circumstances around for the better.

Our past does not make us who we are; abusing others is a conscious choice that we make due to either ignorance or laziness to learn the difference between right and wrong.  There are far too many people who abuse others and blame it on the fact that they too, were abused.  Instead of seeking out the help, therapy, or venues that various programs have to offer to assist in our own personal growth and development after enduring abuse, we resort to what we already know or assume.  This is why the cycle of abuse continues-people lack the capacity to fix themselves despite that they recognize the warped ethics that they grew up with.

I couldn’t agree more…

Wow it’s amazing how much we have in common with views. With your wisdom/understanding you could also go into psychiatry/sociology. If many of us could channel into this form of thinking we would probably live healthier lives.

I model my parenting style to that of my father, who, while I was growing up, allowed me to live life to the fullest. From taking me to the circus every year, monster truck rallies, and even catering to my love of the arts by taking me to the Detroit Institute of Arts on regular occasions; he broadened my horizons in ways that have affected how I parent my own children. I cannot begin to explain how wonderful my father is and has been and I can only hope to live up to him.  Between my father’s influence as well as my grandmother Zell’s influence, I am who I am today because of their love and because my father never gave up on me, regardless of the hostility and abuse that had hindered our relationship in my youth.

Detroit Institute
Detroit Institute of Arts

Taking a trip down memory lane, as a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

Choir was one of the most influential classes I had in high school.  I was in choir from freshman through senior year.  At first, I wanted to be a singer and had the option to attend Central Michigan University through the recommendation from the university professor who attended one of my solo performances. As my writing developed, I started receiving recognition, and found a home within the literary community.

Again we share something in common! Are you my soul sister or what?!? ha. I was too fearful, unlike you who had the courage and recognition of your ability with pursuance from your mentor. It must be great to know where you can take your skill-sets in case one slows down or you want to do something different.

As a writer and poet myself, I find it easy to write and convey my thoughts from making it a habit since 11/12 years old.

When did it all began and how did this become your career focus and claim to fame?

As a result of my disjointed childhood, I began conveying my thoughts within a journal. It was 1989 and I believe I was either in third or fourth grade. I wasn’t the popular girl in school (GEEK), so I usually buried myself in make-believe and daydreaming. Once I hit high school, my journals depicted elements of imagery, symbolism as I tried to hide what I was really feeling or relate it in some way in metaphor. Most of my earlier works are so esoteric that many individuals complemented me on the form, structure, and beauty of the images, but didn’t quite understand the intent. Back then I was grateful because I hid a lot of my emotion within it.  To have someone decipher its meaning would probably result in my embarrassment or leave me feeling uncomfortably vulnerable.

Growing up makes it hard, in my opinion, as a writer because you’re trying to make sense of what you’re feeling and how to put words to what you see happening around you. I think it’s with growth and maturity when we can accept our lives for what they really are and not be ashamed of our experiences -we can’t feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. It makes us who we are and others appreciate the honesty because perhaps they went through similar and never had a way of expressing it. It’s liberating for everyone.

Artists
Singers Enya, Loreena McKennett, & Deep Forest

I wrote my first short story in my high school creative writing class. I enjoyed the ability to paint that cinematic picture within the mind so much that I not only took the class again, but also begged a few of my classmates to do their homework for them.  Aside from the journal entries we would write during class, I began writing similar pieces in my own journal. I would turn on Enya, Loreena McKennett, Deep Forest, among other assorted artists and write to my heart’s content. I’d write mostly prose during that time and later I would whittle it down into poetry I’d later share with my friends. A few I submitted for publication and won a fair number of awards.

You were indulging the creative beast! There is a freedom with creative writing -no limitations or restrictions. But on the other hand there’s something great about limitations because it forces a writer to dive deeper for creative outlet and possibly help them discover a side of themselves they never knew or paid attention to before.

Which contests or competitions were you submitting your entries for us out here who want to do the same?

Miracle Ezine is currently developing its second annual poetry competition; I plan on entering that one. I’ve also submitted a short story of mine to Dream Quest One in their winter 2013-2014 competition.  Submissions are currently closed on that one but it’s advisable to check back periodically.  http://www.dreamquestone.com/rules/enter-now/

The Boston Review is also hosting a poetry competition that I plan to enter.
http://www.bostonreview.net/contests

Probably one of the greatest resources regarding the craft of writing is visiting Writer’s Digest.  They often host competitions as well and can direct authors to various ones being held.

Another excellent resource is The Writer’s Market.  That book has a whole chapter dedicated to various writing contests.  It is advised that one should procure the most recent copy as the specific details for submissions are often updated.  The competition includes ones for books, poetry, essays, as well as many others.  Some offer publication and others offer a monetary prize.  The Writer’s Market is like the Holy Grail of publishing resources.

I realize its off-topic but I have to suggest a few excellent books on writing and publishing that have helped me out tremendously throughout the years.  I started studying the art of writing at a young age and a few of the books that influenced me the most are:

books

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

How To Get Happily Published by Judith Applebaum

Write Is a Verb: Sit Down, Start Writing, No Excuses by Bill O’Hanlon

Crossroads: Creative Writing in Four Genres by Diane Thiel

Literature Without Borders: International Literature in English For Student Writers by George R. Bozzini and Cynthia A. Leenerts

Also, I’ve been reading the Norton Anthologies since high school. I’d find older editions at used book stores and found that I really enjoyed the stories within them. These anthologies also included mini biographies and discussion questions pertaining to the story that encourage thought and analysis. In order to be a successful writer one must read. A lot. Reading for pleasure is a fantastic escape .  However, when one stops and analyzes the writing that is when the story really comes alive. There are many other books I’ve read but these ones are my favorites!

books 2

In college, I enjoyed the same rewards of writing short stories. In 2006 after the birth of my first child, I decided it was about time to write my first novel. I wrote it between diaper changes, feedings, appointments, and the mundane domestic responsibilities I had to accomplish.  By the end of 2007, I finally completed the first draft.  During the interim, I studied all areas of the publishing industry and any book related to editing and writing.  Two of my favorite books on writing are ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott and ‘On Writing’ by William Zinsser.  These texts offer a wealth of information and I believe are invaluable resources. I tried to send out the manuscript to agents and publishers to no avail.  I received rejection upon rejection and eventually gave up.

Annie & William

I took a sabbatical from writing until my divorce. Sometimes at the end, you must go back to the beginning. My beginning is where I found solace. I felt more at home writing than I had in years during that tenuous and stressful time. I didn’t stop there, though. I went on to write a poem that has inspired an entire novel (I’m currently working on it, ‘Irony, Karma, And Fate Walk Into A Bar…”). I later learned about Kindle Direct Publishing and decided to dust off that old manuscript of mine and get it published myself. With the help of an author friend who advised me to modify the book in some areas to improve it, I went on to edit the book until it was ready for publication. I just had it published November 20th and it is currently available on Amazon.

So happy for the turn-around. I’m a sucker for happy endings🙂

What genre or genres do you express yourself the most in? Why did you decide to go in this direction for your writing.?

I’ve always had an affinity for the macabre, Stephen King being my favorite author since I was a kid.  I also gravitate toward personal and universal philosophies within my writing.  I’ve learned quite a lot throughout the years and find myself reflecting upon life and the philosophies of others.

Stephen King
Stephen King

Where do you pull your inspiration from?

I daydream, a lot. I used to sit for hours when I was younger and daydream to music. I would sit and reflect upon things I should have said, things I should have done. I reflect upon the actions of others and contemplate the relative meaning behind them. I have a great advantage in my writing as I’m extremely empathic and particularly receptive to the emotions of the individuals who surround me. I think this particular quality of mine has had a strong influence in my writing. I tend to feel what other people feel. Some individuals are more projective with their emotions than others.

Like a more human approach. You connect with others on a profoundly more compassionate level, from being interpersonal with just having time to know yourself. There has to be a bigger role you are made for in this life with these qualities you have Julie🙂

Some of my ideas hit like epiphanies, almost as though a cartoon light bulb suddenly flashes above my head.  Once I have that spark of inspiration, I either jot it down in my idea journal or I begin writing in a frenzy.

Me too! And if you’re like me you’ve used anything you could get your hands on like kitchen napkins, wrappers, plates, store receipts, and anything else that can be written on.

Is your subject matter primarily for adults or do you also write for young adults and children?

I’ve tried my hand at writing a fairy tale once.  I’ve currently sent to another author friend for assistance in its completion.  I primarily write for adults but perhaps someday I will gravitate toward young adult fiction.  I will go wherever the winds of muse will carry me, I suppose.

There is a grave tone from reading, that I notice, about your style and energy. Does this tell readers about your personality or is it how you prefer to express yourself?

Through the course of my study in poetry, I’ve noticed similar attributes in other authors.  When one thinks of poetry what often comes to mind are the more romantic pieces, like Shakespearean sonnets.  There are a plethora of different emotions that are expressed in poetical form.  Some of my work focuses on the fatalistic nature of my thinking due to unfortunate or enlightening events that I feel compelled to write about.  More often times than not, the gravity of emotions are often serendipitous.

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It is my belief that there is more to an individual than aesthetics, and by aesthetics I am not just referencing appearance.  There is the individual that you see, the aspects that people choose to allow people to see, and then there is the depth within them.  I imagine it as a cavern with multiple passages that lead to different areas of an individual but end within the heart.  Upon first glance, I could be described as goofy and fun-loving, relaxed and laid-back.  To those who know me well would describe me as deep, passionate, and intelligent. Depending upon the situation, I could be classified first as one or the other.

Does your family compose of writers, just like yourself, literary observers?

My older brother, Jerrid would read a lot.  He was the first to introduce me to adult chapter books.  The first series I ever read was the Xanth series by Piers Anthony that he handed down to me. I would sit curled up on the couch with my cat and do nothing but read in front of the window in my parent’s living room. From there, I was introduced to the Anne Rice novels and it snowballed from there. I was the black sheep of the family, honestly.  Where my brothers went on to ‘real’ jobs, I was the one daydreaming and writing stories and poetry. I have a cousin who is also in the arts, Joe Wakefield, but his aim is Hollywood where mine is Random House or Simon and Schuster.

anne-rice
Anne Rice

How did they feel about this being your job-focus, were they all for it or wanted a different path for you?

My mother wanted me to be a singer. My brothers admired my creative ability but thought I would be better suited with a degree and a ‘real’ job. My father just supported me and wanted me to do something that made me happy. “Do what you love, the money will come later.” is what he always told me. Doing what you love isn’t always simple and it’s far too easy to give up and move on.  Life has so many opportunities within it and like other writers who struggle to follow their dream, they too understand that it takes work and dedication to succeed.  Some do not find their success until later on in life, but I am a patient woman.  I will not stop if I am unsuccessful with one novel. I plan to write many, many more in the years to come.

Wow, that is BIG! What your dad told you speaks mega-watt volumes. I believe what parents tell their children can either make or break their dreams -spoken and unspoken. Even your mom sees the bigger picture of the possibilities in music🙂 A ‘real’ job for you is following your heart & it takes real courage.

How challenging is it to be recognized and taken seriously for the type of job that you have?

Some individuals I’ve spoken with admire my dedication.  I recently participated in a pistol tournament where I won third in the female division at the Sagola Township Sportsman’s Club.  I chanced to meet a number of really interesting individuals from all walks of life. One woman approached me and asked what I did for a living. I told her that I was an author. “I’ve never met a published author before.” she said and shook my hand. I felt very flattered. She continued asking me about my work and I was very enthusiastic with my responses and she was eager to listen.

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I’ve also had individuals who don’t take me seriously at all. I’ve heard the ‘You don’t have a real job’ and ‘Why don’t you go out and get a real paycheck?’ It’s disheartening, obviously, but even more so when I’m looked down on in certain circles. I have found that these individuals are under the misconception that wealth equates success. I am content in that my children are proud of me and share in the excitement that their mom is a published author following her dream. Their opinion far outweighs the opinion of those who belittle me for what I do.

It can also be challenging when it’s a choice between having electricity or water running as well. When it gets down to the realness of basic necessity, money is either coming in to provide for yourself (and family) or it’s not. When it’s not then the whole ‘get a job’ nag is for the better good because at least it’s understood as ‘pay per hour’ for a steady income. But if it’s just to dictate how a person should live their life, it’s not warranted.

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You’re also the developer and marketing director of MIRACLE EZINE, a literary magazine that helps to support creative writers and multicultural literature, which excited me a bit since I also refer to my work as an ezine in the making🙂 What inspired you to be involved with it?

The credit all goes to a wonderfully talented woman, Guntaj Arora. Almost a year ago, I was perusing different literary magazines I intended to submit my work to and I chanced upon this fledgling magazine. I submitted my poem, ‘Footprints’, which was accepted for publication and included in their third issue. When I saw that the ‘zine was looking for a Development and Marketing Director, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve always had an appreciation of multicultural literature and this magazine perfectly displays the work in a magnificent format. I’ve always felt that multicultural literature is an essential element of understanding. There are far too many bias and fallacies derived from assumption and stereotyping. One of the greatest and rewarding ways to achieve understanding of the differences in cultures, is to read multicultural literature.

My job consists of sharing the magazine with the world and spreading the word of its publication. I am in charge of contacting bookstores, universities, and libraries requesting that they carry the magazine. I also assist in procuring other writers and encouraging them to submit their work. I do so by various channels, either by direct contact, development of leads, and disbursing contact information to various universities and writing groups.
I also write the book review column for the magazine and submit my poetry for publication periodically.  The credit for this wonderful periodical does not go solely to me, but to the entire team of individuals who have made this magazine one of the greatest I could ever hope to work for. Guntaj has been a blessing and it has been an honor to work for her this past year.

Tell us what the pros and cons are with being the director of MIRACLE. By the way congrats on completing the first year of publication and having your first print edition!

Thank you so much! Having the magazine in print has been one of the major goals we have attained. I actually just received my copy of it and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. It is simply amazing and such an accomplishment. It’s been a struggle as with any creative endeavor, but I am so thankful for the drive and ambition that Guntaj has for this magazine. With the talented team of individuals she had selected to work on the magazine, we have seen steady growth and support. It is my sincere hope to see the magazine lining book-stands in the future.

Miracle ezine

Ok so I must share this with you Julie…I have an affinity for pens especially ball-point color pens. I love free-flowing ink, calligraphy pens, just writing in ink. How about you? Do you have that same giddiness with writing utensils?

My calligraphy skills are horrible, to be honest but I do admire the art.  My grandfather, Paul Zell was an artist and I inherited his calligraphy pens but haven’t been brave enough to practice with them. I admire him greatly though he passed away before I got the chance to get to know him.

I unfortunately do not own a good pen set that I write with.  Perhaps for Christmas, if Santa is feeling generous, I’ll get a set. I personally like pens with ink that flows smoothly and glides across the paper.  I’ve had pens that I’ve had to dig into the paper until the words are practically embedded within the back cover.

There’s another I must share with you lol, there’s something about writing and the way words are written on paper. Can’t get enough, it’s just the way letters look and read on paper that is interesting to me. Do you share the same or something similar?

I miss traditional correspondence a great deal.  Corresponding through snail mail is so much more personal than email. I miss the days when I received a hand-written letter. The way an individual writes, their penmanship, handwriting tells a lot about them. I’ve kept all the letters my brother Jason wrote to me while he was in the Navy. Even cards and letters I received from my grandparents. An email can be copied and pasted, it can be backed up and saved forever, sure, but the way someone writes, their handwriting is irreplaceable. I kept a letter that my now fiancé wrote to me 12 years ago while he was in boot camp. He was amazed that I had kept it all this time but I didn’t have the heart to let it go.

I must admit the same. Computers have taken over everything to the point where a basic form of  communication such as letter writing has disappeared. I’ve saved written documents in my memory boxes. Looking back on the years when they were written tells a story in itself because it was before we got carried away with the easy access of texting and emails. Someone’s handwriting does give a personal meaning because we all have unique ways of doing it. You feel as though the person is right there with you or you’re connecting with them personally -almost spiritually.

Handwritten correspondence is a lost art form. Correspondence has evolved into a cursory message that takes seconds to send and receive. Although the convenience is irrefutable, I think a lot of the soul is lost because of it.  Individuals have resorted to texting as opposed to conversing, basking in the convenience as opposed to depth.

Funny thing, I was perusing Kickstarter trying to find ideas for presents for my kids and to help support fellow artists. A number of the gifts for donations for some of the projects included a hand-written letter of thanks. It actually made me a bit sad. A thank you note is quite a treasured gift, but these days some would overlook it as though the individual is being cheap. My father raised me with manners and encouraged me to write thank-you notes and show appreciation. Sadly though, there are a lot of people who overlook these lost traditions and neglect to show that appreciation. Either that or they believe the convenience of a Facebook post or email is sufficient enough.

Jonathan Swift 1
Jonathan Swift

An author friend of mine, S. A. Mantell sent me a hand-written letter not too long ago.  I was both amazed and surprised by her thoughtfulness.  She is a beautifully rare soul, that one.

Value in the little things really matter in the end. What the world or society deems as “important” varies from person to person drastically. I don’t know if we see where we’re going honestly…

It just feels like humanity is drifting a part and before we know androids and robots will be speaking and acting for us. That’s scary…with animals we know to go extinct we may eventually be following that trend as one of those animals. Or to go deep with this thought, become a lesser species, and another animal evolves and develops traits that we possess, resulting in domination over us. Anything is possible.

During Halloween last year I recall us talking about your first novel being published and released on the exact day. That idea fascinated me but did it work out for you?

If so, how well do you think it turned out?

I can’t help but laugh a little. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get the edits finished in time for that particular date. At the time I was working on editing a manuscript for one of my clients. As far as I was concerned, her manuscript took precedence over mine. After I sent the manuscript back to her with the final edits, I took the opportunity (and the week-long break from classes and bouts of sickness) to edit my novel and make it fit for publication. I finally managed to get it up and out on November 20th, nearly a month after my expected deadline. I’m rather proud of how it turned out after I made the necessary changes.

You mentioned your next collection of poetry will have a philosophical meaning…Are there any philosophers you admire and read their work? What do you like about these particular philosophers?

Although I do admire the works of familiar philosophers, such as Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates; Henry David Thoreau is one I admire the most. He focused more on natural observation and incorporated personal experience into his work. Tolstoy is also an influence, but his work is far beyond depressing. There are many others who are considered ‘writers’ as opposed to ‘philosophers’. Voltaire’s Candide, is based on his political philosophy and I found peculiar. It is considered a satire, or comedy but I found that the underlying message and presentation dark but bore universal truths within it. Jonathan Swift’s work is also a great influence.

Henry-David-Thoreau
Henry David-Thoreau

Most authors on some level display an amount of philosophy within their work. Whether it is universally depicted within the characters, plot, semantics, symbolism, or metaphor; the philosophies of the author shine through at least to some degree. I gravitate toward works that were at one point, controversial. I admire the strength and courage some classic authors and poets had for peeling away the skin of truth and baring the bold raw actuality of a topic, despite the collective reader’s opposition. It is amazing how at one point these philosophers and authors were at one point, ridiculed for what they wrote. As the years progressed and more individuals were educated, their work went on to be admired because they were brave enough to recognize and acknowledge truth, instead hiding behind ignorance.

Yes, their work teaches us how to believe in our own paths in life and to follow them no matter what. It may not be recognized at first but eventually others will see the greatness. It’s not all the time that great people are seen but in step with their achievements they become iconic.

Just by us talking about your poetry led into another interesting fact, you’re also an Artist with an interest in graphic art & painting. That too I have under my belt as well so we’re coming from the same place.

What type of painting and G.A. have you set your focus on?

I found a love of oil painting years ago. As I said before, my grandfather was an artist. When my father was moving, he collected all of my grandfather’s paints and supplies and passed them on to me. I have his easel, his drafting table, along with oil paints and brushes he used back in the late 60’s to early 70’s. I prefer to paint scenery pictures because I haven’t quite mastered portraits quite yet. I’m currently working on a mixed media piece. I’m incorporating one of my poems with steampunk embellishments. Hopefully I’ll have time this winter to complete it. I haven’t decided whether or not I will put it up for sale.

DR

As for graphic art, again, I prefer natural scenes. Decades Review just recently accepted one of my pieces for publication in their January issue.

I’m a major foodie and noticed you have a love for canning and preserving. Name some of the things you love to preserve and/or a master at doing?

I learned how to can jelly when I was a kid. Admittedly, this is one of the fondest memories I have of my mom. During berry season on the weekends, from the early morning until well past dark, we would pick berries until our hands turned purple. We

would then go home with our bounty, rinse the berries and either refrigerate them until the morning, or freeze them until we had enough for a batch. After I bought my first home, I continued the tradition and mastered the fine art of making Thimbleberry jam. This particular jam at stores around here cost about $15.00 for a half pint jar.

This past year I finally invested in a pressure cooker because I wanted to start preserving meats and soups. Sometimes through the hustle and bustle of life, I don’t have the time to cook a nice homemade dinner. Instead, I thought I would make them ahead of time, can it, and cut out time spent in the kitchen on a busy day. I started looking up recipes on Pinterest and found a number of recipes I have fallen in love with. Spicy hot watermelon pickles are probably my favorite so far. I could eat those on anything. I’ve also made my daughter’s favorite, tomato soup. I’ve also tried my hand at making corned beef hash. This little Irish girl loves her corned beef hash but I’m not a fan of the price of each can at the store. It turned out a lot better than store bought, that’s for sure.

For Thanksgiving, I bought a 23-pound turkey.  Since the flavor of the turkey gets a little gross if frozen for a while, I decided that I’d can the leftovers for future use.  It preserves the flavor more and tenderizes the meat so if I end up botching the turkey, at least the leftovers will be tender lol.

What are some meals or deserts you love to make?

My fiancé is a fan of my home made brownies. I’m also known for my epic no-bake cookies and sour cream blueberry muffins.

When I was growing up, my brothers had fought over the title of who made the best apple pie. For the longest time my brother Jerrid was the reigning victor. That is, until I brought my walnut streusel apple pie to Thanksgiving dinner a few years back. I created my own apple pie spice, which gives it a unique flavor and thus I won the title. I don’t think either of my brothers bothered waiting until after dinner to delve into it either. They walked around with fork in hand and ate it straight from the tin and almost drew blood over the last piece.

Boasting rights for you Ms. Baker!

We’re living in superwoman times literally with all the roles women juggle in their lives while still maintaining a sense of self. You have your hands full as a mommy and wife.

Where do you find time to make it possible to do the work you love and how are you able to manage the demands of keeping up with it?

I’ve been asked this a lot. “How do you do what you do? Where do you find the time?” Most of the time, sadly, I forego sleep in order to get a lot done. It’s kicked me right square in the behind on more than one occasion. My kids are gone every weekend to visit their dad, so while they are gone, I delve into my responsibilities as much as I can. My fiancé will sit next to me while I’m working and we’ll cuddle while I work. When I appear frazzled or overly stressed, he’ll force me to take a break to play Skyrim and unwind. Most of the time I get so engrossed in my responsibilities that I often forget to take time for myself.

My fiancé has been endlessly supportive of everything I do.

Thimbleberry options
Thimbleberry

Even though writing is your passion and may consume much of your thought space what activities do you like to dive into when you’re not writing?

My fiancé got me into pistol competitions. The first one I participated in I won third in the women’s division.  I would have won first had I used a .22, but I opted to use his 1911 instead.

Skyrim

Aside from that, I also play video games. I’m an RPG geek (role playing game). Skyrim has had my attention for the past year, but I only play it when my fiancé suggests that I play. Again, I need to be reminded to take a breather. I also like going on adventures with my kids, hiking, baking, art. I also try to volunteer at their school as often as I can. For Christmas I bought myself a program so I can start creating spoken word poetry tracks. I figured that could be something fun to do as well while I’m all snowed in.

Writerz Block

Most of my time spent not writing, I’m editing manuscripts for clients. I started Writerz Block editing services around the same time I accepted the position of Marketing Director at Miracle E-zine. I found that I love editing as much as I love writing. I also love to teach, so as a different approach to standard editing firms, I offer classes tailored to the specific individual and their needs. When I edit a manuscript, I also note what I changed and why, allowing the author to either accept the changes or modify as they see fit. As a writer myself, I know the difficulties of the editing process.

That’s very helpful and beneficial to give back to your peers & give knowledge to others. I’m sure you find complete fulfillment in giving back using your skills!

With the work you did before now, did it lend itself as an opportunity to advance you to do what you’re doing now?

I worked as a freelance writer and editor at a few sites. I used to write articles for www.mycollegepal.com and then progressed to ESL editing for a content writing firm in Pakistan. Before that, I worked as a waitress. I loved that job too as I have an inherent desire to feed people.

ha! ha! right. Love that.

If you simply had to make a living with an alternative profession what other skills do you possess that could make it a simple transition? If you know what other jobs you would be good at share please!

I was an amazing waitress and I used to deal blackjack at a local casino. I would continue working with ESL writers or tutor as I have in the past. Until I earn my BA, there are unfortunately not many jobs in this area that I would be qualified for. I have been contemplating the potential of working at a university after I receive my degree and go on to earn my Masters. When I first started college, I was aiming toward a degree in elementary education. After I transferred to Northern Michigan University, I changed my major to Art & Design and English. When I got pregnant in 2006, I had to quit college due to the fact that the classes I was taking at the time were studio classes and I would be around chemicals that could have potentially harmed my daughter. I started attending again in 2011 at the University of Phoenix online, this time for English and Communications. I will be earning my degree in June 2014 and shortly after I’ll be working toward my Masters.

Do you see yourself finishing your Art & Design courses at the same university?

When and if I ever do go back yes I’ll probably go back to Northern Michigan University to get it. I’ve learned not to jump from college to college as it is a waste of money and time considering how many credits don’t transfer. It’s a nightmare.

Technically I should have TWO Bachelor degrees considering how many credits I’ve accumulated in total between the 3 universities I’ve attended. When I transferred, some of the credits did not, so it was like starting from scratch, and all that hard work that I put into those classes were lost. Since I began my Art & Design degree at NWU, I plan to go back to NWU to finish it. Hopefully by then my credits will still be valid enough to allow me that little head start. Otherwise I may venture off to something different. Only time will tell.

From experience being a writer at times can be lonely with one’s own thoughts but it’s captivating because the mind is very active and it’s about expressing through an introspective form, maybe even outward. Can you explain what it’s like for you?

Sometimes I miss waitressing, conversing with the customers, and making them laugh. I loved making people smile. It’s not too bad with my fiancé around, he’s even started his own yarns and we take a break at times to talk about our work, what we’re doing, where we’re going with it, and our plans to finish. There are times though, when it gets really lonely. The kids would either be at school or at their dad’s, my fiancé would be either at work or drill for his weekend with the National Guard and I’d be alone. Admittedly, Facebook is pretty much my only social life, so although it may appear that I’m online constantly; I usually just have it running in the background.  I’ll pop on for a minute or two while I either write papers for class, edit a manuscript for a client, write, or market for the magazine.

I’m always thinking about something; even while I’m driving I’ll be contemplating a new idea or something someone said.  Sometimes I dwell upon topics that occasionally hinder or enlighten me. Mostly though, it’s an inner reflection and the best way I can express difficult emotions or circumstances.

I know all about it lol. Somehow my best ideas and creative flow floats into my mind when I’m washing dishes. Anytime we allow our minds to wander is when the greatest ideas come to us! Balancing them with reality helps with keeping them from becoming a burden.

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How do you keep yourself motivated when ideas are not coming so clearly, regularly, and you experience writer’s block?

I just keep on writing. Even if what I’m writing seems nonsensical or disjointed trains of thought. The important part is just writing and continuing to write. If I feel stumped with one story line, I will begin another. I have poems that are half-finished, simple phrases that come to mind that I plan on developing later that I still haven’t gotten around to because of that loss of ‘inspiration’. Then there are times when I just sit back and enjoy the works of others; I read. Sometimes the news inspires a write. I have one poem that I wrote that was inspired by an article I read a while back on Huffpost. It was about this mother who ran across a dieting journal her six-year-old daughter wrote. The mother was concerned that her daughter was exhibiting signs of a potential eating disorder. Then I remembered when I used to do that. I used to catalogue everything that ever passed my lips. I wrote a very lengthy poem about my struggles with my body and image, my battle with anorexia when I was in my early twenties, along with the massive changes my body underwent once I got pregnant.

It is very brave to share your personal struggles and express it through your art form- writing. Anyone who reads our time togther will know they are not alone with whatever they are suffering with.

Huffpost is one of my favorites for news/education and it definitely gives individuals thought-worthy  content to share their thoughts on.

Inspiration can be found anywhere and has the potential to be write-worthy. Just because a piece of writing isn’t meant for publication or you have no intent of having it published, doesn’t necessarily mean it shouldn’t be written. A love of the art of writing is far more important than monetary gains. You can tell when a writer is writing for the sole purpose of making money as opposed to the writer who does it because they love it. Much like any other 9-5 job, you can tell the difference between a worker who is there solely for a paycheck and the worker who does it and is glad to be there.

What has been the biggest compliment or critique you’ve received from followers and/or critics?

Truthfully? When I gave the raw manuscript of Faces In Still Waters to author David W. Moore III to review and tell me what he thought, I was more nervous than I had ever been in my life.  The rejection letters I had received in the past had nothing upon the anxiety I felt as he read it and I waited for his input. I have always been confident in my skills as a poet, but when it comes to novels, I was terrified. Did I suck? Should I be doing this? Is it stupid? So many questions and negativity ran through my head until I got his call that he was finished. “It has good bones” he said, and then proceed to tell me where I could improve the novel.

“Do I suck?” I asked, hesitantly.

“No, you don’t suck.” he responded.  This coming from the author of “The Shroud” and two other captivating books of poetry. I would have to say that was the biggest complement I had ever received.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for him, my book would probably still remain buried within a folder on my desktop collecting dust bunny pets.

Just like the saying goes, You never know until you try😉 right.

Has it been fairly easy to develop a following or do you still consider it still growing?

I have a lot of people following my poetry but I will admit that my following is still growing when it comes to my fictional pieces. Reviews are an integral part of marketing and a lot of indie authors rely on them to procure more readers. If a book has no reviews, the reader doesn’t have a way to gauge whether or not a book is worthy enough to purchase.

I really cannot wait to receive my first review. Some authors take serious offense to a less-than-perfect review. I know that not everyone is going to love my book because every reader is different in their likes and dislikes. Books are like an all-you-can-eat buffet. There are some dishes you will always love, some you are willing to try, and then there are some that taste like roadkill. But to others the roadkill could be perceived as a delicacy that is savored; it’s entirely dependent upon the individual’s tastes. If I end up with a negative review, I should expect the reviewer to explain why so that I can improve future novels. Every experience, even negative experiences, should be taken as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Totally agree! I’m wondering though will you be able to personally handle reviewers/critiques that are left without a reason?

This is why I love my education in communications so much.  If someone were to leave a critique without reason, whether negative or positive, I’ll just take it at face value.  A lot of the sites that include book reviews such as Amazon have rating system that a lot of people misinterpret.  If I were to receive a one star review, my feelings would be hurt, sure.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, though.  I’m well aware that not everyone is going to enjoy reading my book for one reason or another.  What’s ironic is that I just recently posted an article about reviews and critiques on my blog.  There are a lot of authors out there who get offended with a four-star review.  This particular article can be found at the following link: http://jvstanleywb.tumblr.com/post/73293795975/five-stars-of-death-the-misconception-of-book-reviews

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In what ways do you engage with your audience and encourage more to be involved?

Sometimes I offer giveaways. I plan on doing so here shortly with an autographed copy of Faces In Still Waters. I’ve also asked questions about writing ups and downs and shared other authors that I believe in.

Do you have a lucky habit that you do before or during writing that means you’re on a “winning streak” or a firestorm of brainstorms, or helps you to stay on track?

Not really, honestly besides staying up all hours of the night until my vision blurs. I’ll set public goals for myself via Facebook status updates. This allows people to know that I’m off in my own little world of creativity and shouldn’t be bothered.  Ironically, though, that’s when I get more messages and notifications.

First impressions mean everything but they can also be wrong at times. Have you experienced any situations where you were not given the benefit of the doubt or there was a misconception about who you are? How did you correct the misunderstanding or turn it around ( if you felt the need to )?

Obviously I would try to apologize for any miscommunication on my part. I have had situations where I’ve had personality clashes and often times when that happens, I tend to apologize and bow out politely. If it’s a friend, we talk it over. With individuals I’m unfamiliar with, I approach the situation directly and this is where my long-winded tendencies take hold as I explain the situation. I’ve had to diffuse arguments and hostility due to misunderstandings between classmates on a number of occasions. Usually, when considering the other individual and their feelings, I can often times resolve the matter.

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What is a day in the life of J.V. STANLEY.

“From the moment I wake up in the morning until the time I go to sleep I ….”I wake up, get my kids their breakfast and get them ready for school.  My daughter is in 2nd grade while my son is in the Headstart program, so he leaves a few hours after my daughter does. As soon as they’re gone, I begin my day by making some coffee, if I hadn’t already. I then start working on whatever project that is of utmost importance, either my own writing or editing a manuscript for a client and marketing for the ‘zine. I’ll take breaks periodically to clean or socialize on Facebook, retrieve my children from the bus, and then make dinner. I’ll spend a few hours with them before bed time and then start writing or working some more. At around eleven at night, I’ll start homework and work on that until 2 a.m. Sometimes by then, I will collapse into a heap or I’ll force myself to keep working. On the weekends, I work from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep. If I have an appointment or have scheduled volunteer work for my kids’ school, I will work around that time. The commute to town is horrendous though. I live out in the middle of nowhere; about a good forty-five minute drive from the nearest civilization, pending weather conditions, of course.

Despite how busy I am, I always block out time for my family. Every moment I spend with them is precious to me.

Are there any countries you would like to visit or have visited?

I’ve been to Toronto, Canada once for my senior class trip.  When I was married to my ex, we spent our honeymoon in London, England. I would love nothing more than to go back, but I would opt not to go during the Christmas holiday next time. Very nearly everything was closed but I still enjoyed my time spent there.

Oh yea overseas they don’t play when it comes to their holidays! They understand the meaning of “break-time” even during the year.

I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland and Ireland.  I was even contemplating whether or not my fiancé and I should get married in one of those countries.

What’s your favorite color(s)?

Purple and red.

What is one of your most favorite movies?

I have a number of those. The Saint, Shawshank Redemption, Troy, Star Wars trilogy (as in 4, 5, and 6 as opposed to the Jar-Jar Binks monstrosity), Lord of the Rings trilogy, Serenity…there are countless others.

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Do you have any unusual talents that you can share with readers?

I could talk your ear off. Seriously, it will get up and walk away.  Does sarcasm count as a talent?

I think it’s hilarious that you constitute “unusual” humorously with basic communication overdone lol. Sarcasm is definitely your niche from our conversation. Why not? I mean come on, if it’s used creatively how can it not be a “talent”.

In all seriousness I can operate an assault rifle and the care and feeding thereof. I also do voices, as in cartoonish voices. I’ve creeped my friends out with my impression of Cartman (from South Park) and Gollum. My impression of a chicken is especially convincing. I had a boss that had me do my chicken impression whenever I saw her and she’d laugh and have me do it for her friends. I wasn’t sure if I should have been flattered or embarrassed.

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I also sing.  In Wal-Mart.  At the top of my lungs.  I’m patiently waiting for the day when I end up on ‘The People of Wal-Mart’ website. Christmas is my favorite time of year because that’s when I really belt ‘em out.

Wow, I’m speechless… lol

What keeps you driven and how do you define “success”?

I don’t measure success by the dollars lining my pocket, by the friends I have, the popularity or notoriety I have attained, or even the awards I’ve won. I measure success by the level of happiness I have. I measure the success of my life by the success of my children and their happiness. I also measure small successes like mini victories such as my ability to help others to achieve their goals overcoming an emotional problem.

What motto or saying guides you through your hardest or toughest times?

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.

― William G.T. Shedd

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

― Plato

I also find myself quoting Dale Carnegie quite a bit as well.

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Has writing changed anything about you?

It has allowed me insight into my own life. Sometimes as I write, I recognize aspects about me that wouldn’t have come to the forefront of my mind had I not sat down and written about it. It allows me to determine what emotion I am feeling, or what an underlying problem that needs resolving. It has also helped me understand a little better the motivations of others. I’ve found that I pay closer attention to the people around me and am more attuned to their feelings and mannerisms. This inevitably leads me toward an understanding of their intentions.

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Personally what do you take away from doing what you love to do that is significant to you Ms. Stanley?

I would have to say I take away a greater understanding of myself as well as the people around me. Situations, conversations; sometimes we need to stop and really listen instead of just maintaining our sense of hearing.

With the power you have what do you aspire to change for the better ( about anything in life )?

I wanted people to read my writing and gain insight, perhaps into themselves or others. I want people to stop and really think about how my writing relates to them in life. I suppose I’ve studied enough literature to recognize and relate to some of the works by authors, while the average reader delves into a piece of work not just to learn, but to be entertained. I desire to share my knowledge, insight, and understanding within my work. If my writing influences or inspires just one person, I would be content in that.

If you can meet anyone in the world who is presently alive who would it be and why?

Authors: I would love to meet my author friends in person, notably Victoria Selene Skye Deme.  She and I would have a blast.

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Victoria Selene Skye Deme

As for mainstream authors, I’d love to meet Anne Lamott, Barry Eisler, and Stephen King.

actors
L to R: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, & Barry Eisler

If I could meet an actor, it would be Kate Winslet, Gary Oldman, and the cast of Firefly, including Joss Whedon so I can beg them to make a sequel to Serenity. I’m a Whovian, so I’d also love to meet David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Christopher Eccleston (he was an amazing Doctor).  Billie Piper, too; I just love Rose!

If I could meet an actor, it would be Kate Winslet, Gary Oldman, and the cast of Firefly, including Joss Whedon so I can beg them to make a sequel to Serenity. I’m a Whovian, so I’d also love to meet David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Christopher Eccleston (he was an amazing Doctor).  Billie Piper, too; I just love Rose!

This has truly been a memorable time with you JV, lastly how can readers keep up with the Latest & Greatest?

I can be found on my Facebook pages as well as my websites

The Writing of J. V. Stanley Official Website: http://jvstanley.weebly.com/

Official Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/JVStanley.editor.author.poet?fref=ts

Writerz Block editing service: http://writerzblock007.wix.com/writerzblock

Writerz Block Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Writerz-Block/183631025056560?ref=ts&fref=ts&__rev=1024226

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