Name: Steve Shipley
Where are you from: Born in West St Paul, MN, USA, but currently live in The Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, NSW, Australia
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
Was an athlete, musician and mathematician in previous life. Married to my soul companion, Deanna Lang.
Worked in corporate life for 37 years in Banking and IT with strong technical and system engineering skills.
Learned to write for business as an adult, and wrote my first book “Still Stupid at Sixty” under the pseudonym, Blake Stevens two years ago.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Recently retired from corporate life (by following the plan I present in “Still Stupid at Sixty”) to be able to write full-time. I just completed a successful preorder campaign raising $12,000 for publishing my next book “Wine Sense” which is being released in July.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing? My wife asked me to do a guest blog for her cooking blog “DAZ in the Kitchen” and I enjoyed it so much, I started a blog on wine call “SAZ in the Cellar” about two years ago. Then I felt compelled to write “Still Stupid at Sixty” and realized how much I loved writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Haha, I am still not sure if I can consider myself a writer or not. I have written about 600,000 words between books and blogs so far, but feel I need to write about 5 million words before I can consider myself a real writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was so embarrassed with how I screwed up my life financially even though I was in the Top 1% earners and I felt compelled to write about it as a cathartic experience. I realized I would never be able to retire unless I completely changed my life around. I just starting writing about it, and two weeks later had about 75,000 words on how to improve my personal financial management, spending less and saving more. This journal then became the book “Still Stupid at Sixty.” It almost happened by accident! I did not start that project with the intent to write a book.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I write non-fiction and try to educate people through story telling and using examples from other people, myself included.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I was two months shy of my 60th birthday and felt so dumb about my financial mistakes and the self-deprecating title “Still Stupid at Sixty” just popped into my head.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I am not writing a novel currently, but rather a book on how to drink and appreciate wine, and the main point is that anyone can significantly improve their ability to taste and enjoy wine with a little practice and experience – you do not need to have special skills and there is nothing mystical about tasting wine.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Since it is non-fiction, I am hoping 100% of it is realistic!
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The book is mostly based on my own experiences and my research.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
I have read thousands of books across many different genres. The Bible, books on leadership, and classic novels have made a large impression on me, regardless if they were from early American writers or international writers. Philosophy books have had a large influence on what I believe and how I behave.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Extremely difficult to pick one, but I would say Steinbeck is who I would most like to be like.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am just finishing “Treasonable Doubt” by Bruce Craig on the Harry Dexter White case during the McCarthy era in preparation for a screenplay I am planning on writing over the next two years.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Ian Walkley – he wrote a great debut novel with a truly unique story line two years ago and I am hoping to see more from him.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Once “Wine Sense” is published in about a month, I will write a book on writing processes and technology (already started), and a book on Scrivener, in addition to the screenplay on the McCarthy era mentioned previously. I am also doing a training video on Wine Appreciation and one on Scrivener, which I hope to publish on Udemy by the end of the year. That should keep me busy for the next six months!
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Several mentors in business, Frank Orzell and Gerald Loev, who taught me the value of writing well and taking the time to teach me and invest in me during my consulting career.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, now I do and that is why I worked so hard to work down my debt, reduce my cost base and be able to retire to work full-time at it.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
In my last book, “Still Stupid at Sixty,” the answer is ‘yes!’ I am going to change the cover, add top tips in each section and re-launch it as a more serious book on financial management.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I always wanted to write a book, but never thought I had the discipline to do so. Then when I wrote 75,000 words for “Still Stupid at Sixty” in two weeks, and I realized that I could write a book. But this was all prefaced by developing a stronger urge to leave a legacy of advice as I was aging and feeling the need to leave something behind for others. I know that sounds sappy and egotistical, but it’s the truth. Growing older encouraged me to write things down more!
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Easiest way to review my current work is to look at the link: http://sazinthecellar.com/book/
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Creating high quality images and charts is challenging for me. I also have difficulty promoting myself and the marketing aspects of being an author.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Stienbeck and his connection with the human condition.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, thanks to technology, I can do most of my research and writing from my home office.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I am currently using Sheamus Burns out of New York who I was introduced to several months ago. He is an amazing young talent and a teacher and creative director, so I have the ability to learn so much from him. He is doing the cover design for “Wine Sense,” and the book’s layout and formatting. He will also design the new cover for “Still Stupid at Sixty.”
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Accepting it is finished and is ready for publication. It just always seems like there is another thing you can do to improve it!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
You really need to research properly, be authentic and never cut corners. I am amused by people who write a book a month and consider themselves to be good writers. I believe one or two books a year is about as many as you can do credibly.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Learn to be a good researcher, start your bibliography and footnotes in earnest at the beginning of the project, become an expert editor, and be able to project manage all aspects of the writing and publishing process. Also part with it early and have beta readers, and experts in the field and genre review and provide feedback.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Read a lot of different genres and material and continue your love of reading – never stop reading.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I think it was “See Jack Run.” But I remember my first more serious books were the Hardy Boys series.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Cooking and reading. I love woodworking, but have to build a new workshop now that I have the room to do so again. All my equipment was in storage while living in city apartments the last seven years and I just recently got access to it again.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
NCIS, Bones, Glee, Big Bang Theory and documentary films.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music:
All foods (except Russian peasant food), Yellow, and Jazz.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I still plan to do it and I have fallen in love with programming again and will be developing apps for writers to combine my two passions. If am not writing words, I am writing code.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?:
SAZ in the Cellar (my wine website and blog): http://sazinthecellar.com/
InkIT Publishing (my writing and publishing website and blog): http://www.inkitpub.com/