Month: December 2013

An Interview With Psychic Teacher Kris Cahill

Noel Olken Photography

Kris Cahill is a clairvoyant reader, energy healer, psychic teacher and radio host here is a link to her website:



Q:  How did you know you were psychic?

A: ‘Being psychic’ means being sensitive to and aware of energy, and is normal and human. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been sensitive to other people’s energy. When I was a child, I could walk into a room and know what each person in the room wanted or needed. I wanted to heal everyone and to make them feel better – these were some of my childhood thoughts. I often felt other people’s pain and knew what they were thinking, but I didn’t think any of this was strange. I didn’t know the difference.

I was very responsible. As an adult, this over-responsibility began to get in my way, making me sick with all of the energy I was taking on that I didn’t know what to do about. I had this idea that I needed to learn to ground myself. I wasn’t sure how to do this, or even what it meant, but I kept saying it.

In 1999, I received a call that changed my life. A woman called me wanting to buy one of my paintings. She invited me to come see the school she taught at, which turned out to be the Midwest Psychic Institute, (the school later re-created as InVision). I liked her and the school, and took a six week class called Psychic Meditation. I learned techniques such as grounding, non-judgment, creating and destroying, running energy, and I started putting the pieces together for myself. It became clear to me that I’d always been sensitive to and aware of energy, in other words, psychic. Once I began to let go of the energies I’d always been aware of, instead of carrying them with me, trying to solve them, or heal them, it became easier to use my abilities for fun things, like being clairvoyant and seeing energy. I am a lifelong visual artist, and clairvoyance is colorful, fun, and healing for me. I joined MPI’s year long intensive clairvoyant training, and it only became more real for me to be psychic.

Q:  How can I tell a real psychic from a fake one?

A: A fake psychic will tell you that you are cursed, and that only he or she can remove the curse, provided you pay her or him a large sum of cash. If you find yourself in front of one of these scam artists, run away.

A great psychic will say hello to your spirit, without judging you or telling you what to do. You will feel this deeply, as your own truth is touched upon. A real psychic will not judge you.

Always remember that nobody knows you better than you know yourself. If a psychic tells you something that you know in your heart isn’t true, don’t accept it as the truth. If you go to a psychic needing to be told what will happen in your life, as if it were already decided without you doing your own work, you will get what you ask for. That isn’t, in my view, the best use of a good psychic.

One of the greatest aspects about clairvoyance is that you must be in non-judgment in order to see clearly. This is why I see that more people turning on their clairvoyance will help to heal this planet. With the ability of clairvoyance running, we don’t need to judge each other, for we will be able to see that each of us is a unique being. The outer surface doesn’t begin to tell the story of that truth. Too often we judge the surface and miss the person completely.

Q:  What kind of classes did you take at InVision in Chicago?

A: Every class I took at InVision was designed to help me to see, heal, and know myself better. The greatest psychic ability is the ability to know yourself. It has nothing to do with fortune telling. We were taught to NOT predict the future, or tell anyone what they should do. Clairvoyant training was about learning to give a hello to someone’s spirit.

Specific classes I took include: Psychic Meditation, Energy Healing, Kundalini Energy, Clairvoyant Training, Women’s Healing, Teacher’s Training, Spiritual Autonomy, Trance Medium Training, Planetary Healer’s Training. When I became a teacher at InVision, I taught Psychic Meditation, Energy Healing, the Women’s Training, Creativity Class, Clairvoyant Training, Teacher’s Training.

Q:  How do you teach someone to be psychic?

A: Each of us is already psychic. We don’t need to be taught to be psychic, but we may not be aware of those abilities, or know how to turn them on and control them in a happy way – to be safe with them. It is helpful to learn how to make yourself safe before you learn to turn on your own abilities. You want to make sure that your body will be able to handle the higher vibration of your spirit at work, and grounding is a helpful tool for this. Before anyone is allowed to take the Clairvoyant Training at InVision, they must take the Psychic Meditation Class, which is the first class I took when I went there. This class alone is a game changer.

The yearlong clairvoyant training I enrolled in included one weekly class in which we learned how to look at various aspects of ourselves, at spirit, the energy system, and so much more. We gave readings to each other in class, as well as in the student readings. These are scheduled readings that outside people come in to receive, in which the students get to practice what they are learning. Teachers and advanced students oversee these readings, and the readings are wonderful, an important part of the training. There is a huge amount of spiritual growth that happens during this training. People often look very different when they graduate than they did when they began. They heal themselves, deeply.

The degree that each person decides to have or turn on her or his own abilities will vary. Halfway through my clairvoyant training, I knew that I wanted to teach this information, and it became my passion to do so. I continued my studies as a graduate at InVision, which also being on staff, teaching classes, helping to market the school, taking students and graduate readers to outside events to give readings, and creating my own readings and workshops.

Q:  What kind of rebirth are we experiencing on earth?


A: We are having a spiritual revolution – nothing less than a completely new way of seeing ourselves and each other! Oh yes, and … we need to remember to work with the earth, and stop trying to control and abuse her. We are in a long needed rebalancing of female and male energies, in which the long maligned and hidden female energies can become powerful again. Self love and self knowledge are the key to healing. If you know and love yourself, you cannot be controlled by other energies. I could write a book about this rebirth, it’s very exciting to me.

Q:  How did your radio show come about?

A: One day in January 2013, a friend named Vic Cohen called to ask me if I’d be a guest on his internet radio show, and I jumped at the chance. Meanwhile, I’d been walking around saying to myself ‘I want a radio show…’ – I’ve created so many things in my life this way.

That same night, I was on Vic’s show, ‘It’s a Fair Question’, talking about past lives. Vic is a comedian, and his show is funny, and he was also really interested in the topic. I gave him a past life reading on the air, it was all fun and validating. I’d been nervous beforehand but that faded quickly. It was much easier to talk into a live mic than I’d expected.

I called the owner of the station, and asked if I could have a show there. In February 2013, my show ‘Psychic Everyday’ debuted at out of downtown Los Angeles.  I do my show on Wednesdays from 7:00-8:00pm PT. Skidrow Studios produces real radio on the internet. We also stream live video from the site, and all of the shows are available as free podcasts on iTunes.

Q:  Who was your most memorable guest?

A. I have no guests, but lots of callers. I have a weekly topic, and give free mini readings to callers on that topic. I talk about different aspects of this topic, and what it has to do with being psychic. My favorite recent shows include ‘Ghosts and Spirits’, ‘The Past Life Show’, ‘Scarcity is a Lie’, ‘Get In Your Body’, ‘Love Yourself and Start a Revolution’, and ‘Your Relationship With Money’.

I’ve done over 40 shows now, and my audience continues to build. I have people listening from all over the world, which is one of the great things about internet radio. I’ve had callers during my show from Germany and India, from coast to coast of this country. It’s really fun to connect with the world like this. People are very interested in their spiritual growth at this time in our evolution, which is really exciting.

In 2014, I’m adding some new features to my show, including a feature called the Everyday Psychic. I’ll invite guests on my show, not other working professional psychics, but people who use their abilities in their everyday life. I’ll interview them about how they use their intuition in their work or career, or their clairvoyance, non-judgment, knowing, and so on.


Q:  What do you like about L.A.?

A: I love the permission to reinvent myself and to become whatever I want. The weather is great, though that isn’t why I moved here. Mountains, deserts, the ocean, are all within a short drive. I grew up in the flatlands and it’s not flat here! The creativity all around inspires me – actors, writers, filmmakers, photographers, artists, musicians – these are my people, my friends, my students and clients. I’m a lifelong artist, and being psychic is my art form. Los Angeles is the perfect place for me to learn what I need to learn to grow my art at this time.

Q:  What do you miss most about Chicago?

A: Fireflies, family and friends, snow falling softly, the Art Institute, InVision, defined seasons. I do not miss winter, or the muggy steam of a Chicago August day. Sorry, Chicago.

Q:  What will happen to me next Thursday?

A:  I love this question, because it sets me up to talk about predictions, and why I never make them. First of all, whatever will happen to you next Thursday is going to depend, to a large degree, upon whatever you decide to create between now and then. The choices you make in every moment, the awareness or the unconsciousness you choose to embrace – all have an effect on what ‘happens’. It’s not chance, it’s energy.

Sometimes we create challenges for ourselves in order to grow and wake ourselves up. If we ignore our own inner truth, our heart’s call, our deepest longings, and try to live a life we think we should live instead of one that’s real, we may find ourselves one day facing a great waking up. That is what we are going through on earth now – the waking up. When someone is acting the victim to whatever ‘happened to them’, that person has given up power to outside energy, instead of harnessing it from within.

I no longer have clients coming to me who want me to predict their futures. I would rather say hello to those who want to grow, heal, and live from their own truth. Happily, those are the people who find me now.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

Photo by Noel Olken Photography


An Interview With Comedian Matt Nagin



Matt Nagin is a comedian, writer and actor; here is a link to his website:


Q:  When did you know you were funny?


A: I recently watched an old home video from when I was seven years and pretended to be Mahatma K. Gandhi. The fact that I was doing an impression at this young age shows that on some level the need to entertain has always been integral to my identity.


I also remember being a real showboat at my Bar Mitzvah. It was a shared Bar Mitzvah. To save money and increase efficiency two other children were Bar Mitzvahed with me. But I remember outshining them and really singing my Haftorah portion like I was auditioning for American Idol.


Hence, while I didn’t perform standup until seven years ago, humor has always played a preeminent role in shaping my existence. I’ve used it to fend off bullies, pick up women, improve my relations with my family, deal with a devastating chronic illness. I even used humor during my grandpa’s eulogy!


That being said, I’m not sure I ever KNEW I was funny. There was an overall sense I had potential, but I never KNEW for CERTAIN. To this day I still wonder, at times, if it’s an illusion. Just because I say I’m a comic doesn’t mean it’s accurate. People can call themselves whatever they want. Then, too, you question your priorities. Why am I even going out on stage every night? I could be doing something important…like joining The Peace Corps.


I think this self-doubt and self-questioning is critical to the development of many artists. If I KNEW I was funny I wouldn’t have the same drive to perform. For it would already be PROVEN.


It doesn’t matter that I’ve gotten up on stage more than a thousand times over the past seven years and quite often have terrific sets. It doesn’t matter that I had a very successful one man show that obtained four star reviews. Even after a set where I kill, and go home feeling great, the next day I’ll wake up, go back to a club or open mic, and have to prove myself over again. Comics spend their lives CONVINCING THEMSELVES that they are funny. And, in the end, you’re only as good as your last show.



Q:  What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your comedy?


A: I work as an Adjunct Professor of English Composition. This job has helped my comedy in a number of ways: it has helped me be more expressive; it has taught me the importance of conveying matters in a way that is simple and lucid; it has given me confidence talking to a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds; and it has inspired me to devise a myriad of strategies to relate to an audience.


A critical challenge with being a teacher and a comedian is these are two vastly different worlds. I often go over feminist theories in one of my classes yet I discuss raw sexual encounters with a series of women I explicitly portray as doltish in my standup. One persona does not neatly overlap with the other.


A College Professor is a very strong persona; you are expected to convey a certain level of professional distance and objectivity while in that role that is almost directly oppositional to what is expected from a comic. Most comics unveil what is deepest and most personal—they try to eliminate anything like a professional distance. Plus, they often act like fools; another polar opposite to the prototypical highly intelligent lecturer in a tweed jacket.


Q:   How do you deal with a heckler?


A: Many standups fear and/or despise hecklers. I consider a heckler a gift. The reason for this is that in most cases the audience gives you carte blanche to make this rude intruder look foolish. I have always been able to think quickly on my feet, and am willing to be honest in the moment about my own flaws, as well as being perceptive about the flaws of others, so I do great with hecklers. Some of my best sets have involved making hecklers look foolish. This could also be partly the result of my teaching background—as an instructor you learn how to keep troublemakers in line.


Incidentally, I’m also not a big believer in having prepared heckler material—it seems better to respond in the moment. Stock lines seem too forced. It is like a guy using a pickup line at a bar. Few women take such a wannabe Lothario seriously. I think you are better off being authentic and responding honestly and authoritatively. There are different opinions on this, of course, as with everything, but the critical element is that the comic must win the battle with the heckler. If not it is the kiss of death.


I remember one of the few tough sets I had when it was pretty much a tie. The reason is I was being heckled by a grandma. Female hecklers, in general, are trickier for a male comic. The reason is if a comic eviscerates a female heckler he can easily come across as a total jerk. These feelings are only compounded when the heckler is a grandma. No one wants to see someone rip apart a nice old lady. Well, this old lady screamed out “not funny” during an edgy joke and mocking her in a way that didn’t come across as too cruel yet enabled me to continue the show was challenging. That was probably my toughest heckler in recent memory—not because of what she said so much as because of what she represented to a lot of audience members.


Q:  What is your strangest teaching story?


A: My first year teaching, at a local community college, I had a student with Tourette’s Syndrome in a racially-diverse remedial class. Her condition was such that she could not control the urge to yell out racial epithets. Needless to say the other students hated her. Every day the class was on the verge of a race riot. Because she had a medical note specifying she couldn’t control what she blurted out I had to be sensitive to her condition. At the same time, I had to keep in mind that she was pissing off the entire class in a highly disruptive fashion.


I tried to suggest she do her best to control her condition which only seemed to make matters worse. The class was a nightmare. Every day was jarring. I’d routinely kick students out. I had them all sign behavioral contracts stipulating that certain poor behaviors would get them an F. I gave surprise quizzes and complex homework assignments in a futile attempt to gain control of the classroom dynamic.


Then, one day, during another heated exchange, where I threatened to fail one student who was being rude to the girl with Tourette’s, he stood up and said that if I didn’t pass him he’d come into school and shoot me. He went on to describe how he’d do it graphically. Given all the school shootings at the time that was a very endearing threat. Then he stormed out and slammed the door.


Remarkably, he ended up passing the class. Not because his intimidation worked. I would rather die than lose integrity. But because, in spite of his behavioral problems, his writing was at a level that was ready to move onto the next class. It was terribly inappropriate behavior and, in retrospect, I should have reported him to the Dean’s office. But he probably moved on from it, and, hopefully, never threatened to kill any of his other instructors.


Q:  What are some key ingredients for strong comedic writing?


A: One key ingredient for strong comedic writing is it has to fit the persona of the performer. What is funny in one person’s voice is not funny at all in another’s. Anyone can write a joke. So the critical element that separate’s comedians, in my opinion, is the stage persona, the way they convey a joke, the delivery, the particular charm of the individual.


Another key element with comedic writing is timing. The punchlines need to come in unexpected places. The set needs to play against expectations, to create disruption, to build contrast, and to develop in such a way that the audience cannot see where precisely the performer is taking them. This can all be established in the writing.


A: Yet another key element of comedic writing is depth. When a performer has depth in his set, when he really conveys something of substance, it stands out from the endless performers who merely try to be amusing.


Q:  Of all the people you have opened for, who was the funniest in person?

A:I am reluctant to answer this question directly—because I hate to pick favorites. But some of the funniest individuals in person are not who you would expect. I think being funny off-stage is almost a separate art and some are better at that then they are on stage with prepared material. I know performers who can riff brilliantly off stage an entire hour and have it be better than what most comics take fifteen years to come up with.


Q:  Who are some of your comedic influences?


A: I try to be influenced from all areas—film, painting, writing etc. My favorite filmmaker is Stanley Kubrick, and I was hugely influenced as an artist and human being by Kubrick’s dark sense of humor, his psychoanalytic streak, and his cynical perspective on mankind’s foibles. Films like Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, and A Clockwork Orange, all mix the humorous and the disturbing in ways that have always intrigued me. Woody Allen was another huge influence as I feel I am in the tradition of neurotic Jewish self-loathing intellectuals—only I would say my sensibility is much filthier. Obviously, I am not in his league—he is a brilliant filmmaker and was a terrific comic—but I like to learn from what I consider the best. Other standups I really enjoy are Sarah Silverman, Bill Burr, Don Rickles, and Gilbert Gottfried.


Q:  What about human nature is fundamentally comical?


A: I think humor is a natural defense against the tragic. I am sure Jews during the Holocaust were telling each other one-liners. My 94 year old grandma told me that what helped her family get through the Great Depression was a sense of humor. Not savings. Not stories. Not love. Not family. Humor.


Wherever there is the most sorrow and anguish there is the greatest need for humor. We are currently in a very troubling era; global warming, a country ruled by a military-industrial complex, corrupt politicians subservient to corporate interests, bailouts for corporate criminals who have destroyed the national economy, unheard of infringements of civil liberties—the list goes on. In such an era, humor is essential as a means of coping, synthesizing and responding to the collective madness.


But, really, in any era, there is a need for humor. For human life is so fragile. It all goes by before you know it. We are at the mercy of bowel movements, urination, snot, body odor, sexual emissions, and come into the world helpless and then go out of it the same way. We pretend to have great importance when we are on a rock hurtling through space at more than 67,000 miles per hour. Meanwhile, our incomprehensibly vast galaxy that is but one of hundreds of billions of similarly massive galaxies. Given all these realities, how could you not see our reality as inherently comic?


Q: Are there any subjects you consider off limits?


A: I once had the opportunity to talk with Robert Klein and ended up discussing the same question. He essentially said that you can joke about anything. No topic is taboo. But he felt that if you are going to do jokes about very sensitive topics like 9/11 or child prostitution, say, the material had to be that much more hilarious.


So, to answer your question, no, I don’t feel any topic is off limits. That said, some topics will be easier to develop material from than others. But any topic, to me, is fair game. It all comes down to execution.


Q:  Will you tell me a blogger joke?


A: Many people are very upset the NSA is spying on us. All communication is potentially being monitored by this agency. Nothing is completely personal. But this doesn’t bother me at all. My one hope is that the NSA will start reading my blog. No one else is.


Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of


An Interview With Author Elaine Bernstein Partnow


Elaine Bernstein Partnow is an author, actor and public speaker who has written many quotation books; here is a link to her website:



Q:      What inspired you to write The Quotable Woman?

A: 1973 was a very bad year for me: I contracted double pneumonia and had to quit a show I was acting in; the house I was living in caught on fire; I was injured in a car accident; but the worse was yet to come because my mother, at 61, suffered a stroke. Within 48 hours she was gone. I was terribly depressed, of course. My home unlivable from the fire, I went to stay with my dad. Dad traveled in his business and when he was away I would go and sleep in my parents’ bed, which made me feel closer to my mom. On one such night, lying there sleepless, I had a vision: it was a book. I could see the title of the book, the layout of the pages, the cover—everything. It was a collection of women’s quotations. The next day I bicycled over to the UCLA research library to see if a book called The Quotable Woman existed; it did not. My mom loved quotes and there were several classic collections in the apartment. I began looking through them and discovered, to my dismay, that women were practically nonexistent in them. I got mad—and then I got even. It took me four years to create the first edition of The Quotable Woman. Now it’s been in print for over 35 years; the 6th edition came out in 2010.

Q:  What makes a quote memorable?

A:  A quote, first of all, must work out of context. And then it must move one, either to tears, laughter, anger or heights of inspiration.

Q:  What made you dedicate a book devoted to Jewish women‘s quotes?

A: The Quotable Woman has grown huge over the years (the last edition weighs 5 lbs. 2 oz!). It was my idea to do a series of quote books that would work for various heritage groups: Asian; Latino, Hispanic & Native American; African and Caribbean; and Jewish. Being Jewish myself, I started with that one. To date I have not been able to sell the other ideas to another publisher. I’d still love to do them.

: What is your favorite quote?

A:  That is almost like asking a parent who their favorite child is. It’s kind of impossible. But if I have to choose, I’ll pick this one by Mae West: “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” Why? Because it implies to me that you can’t have too many wonderful quotations by amazing women.

Q: What is an example of a misunderstood quote?

A: Quote are sometimes misunderstood because they’re misquoted. For example, most everyone has heard “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” But if you read Gertrude Stein’s short story “Sacred Emily” you discover that Rose is a person and the quotation should be “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” Another example is the oft misquoted “Fifty million Frenchmen can’t be wrong.” The nightclub entertainer Texas Guinan said, “Fifty million Frenchmen can be wrong,” not can’t.

 Why buy a quote book instead of just reading a lot?

A: Why not do both? I read a lot—and pluck quotes from my collections whenever something pops out at me. A book of quotations is a very useful tool when one is planning a speech or writing a paper and wants to verify and emphasize a point by quoting someone with gravitas.
Q:  Why do people care what famous people think?

A: People generally become famous because they have accomplished something great, something that has inspired others or changed things in the world. Most of us aspire to do good, to accomplish something. Hearing the words of wisdom from those we admire is motivating and validating.
Q: You were in What’s up, Doc; is Babs really a diva?

A: Streisand was—and is—the quintessential professional. She was always on time, she knew what was expected of her, and she pulled it off beautifully. She didn’t pal around with folks, but she wasn’t cold, either. She was polite and professional.
Q: How can I avoid nervousness when giving a speech?

A: Read my book, Speaking with Power, Poise & Ease. Speak publically whenever you can. Practice, practice, practice. Interpret your nervousness as excitement. Have fun with it. Know that people are very forgiving and want you to succeed. And remember—you’re there for the audience; you are giving them something they need or want.
Q: With all the quote books out there why should my readers choose yours?

A: Frankly, most of the quote books out there are not well-documented; they don’t cite sources, so you don’t know when it was said or where it was said or from work it was found in. There are, of course, other good books of quotations—and, these days, they are somewhat more inclusive than mine. But if you want to quote a woman, there is no other source as thorough or well-documented than The Quotable Woman, The First 5,000 Years: it has become a classic.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)


An Interview with Author S.C. Rhyne


S.C. Rhyne is the author of The Reporter and the Girl and she runs a blog by the same name; here is a link to the website:

Q:  What is The Reporter and the Girl about?


A: The Reporter and The Girl is based on my award winning blog of the same name. Sabrien Collins is the main character and the readers follow her relationship with a reporter name Jon. There will be times where you get inside the character’s head and heart. Emotionally — it’s up and down, and asks a lot of hard questions.

Q:  What inspired you to write it?

A: I was partly inspired by my past relationships and different stories of “incidences” I’d exchange with my friends.  But I also did not want the storyline to be so cliché, where boy meets girl and they fall in love and live happily ever after.

Q:  What makes your blog book-worthy?

A: My blog started out as a story blog, where I was posting chapters weekly of the storyline (those draft chapters are still there), and earlier this year I decided to finish and re-work the posts as a manuscript. I still post on the blog of course and have guest contributions.

Q:  What are some of the blogs you enjoy?

A: I enjoy The Sexy Single Mommy it was one of the first relationship blogs I subscribed to and I enjoy Ty’s posts, they are very honest and diverse (not only appealing to single parents). I wish I had discovered her blog earlier in my dating life.

I also follow various personal blogs like Hugh PaxtonAfter Ecstasy, The Laundry, and Looking for Reasoning, Some news blogs like Dear Kitty and lots of book and writing blogs.

Q:  What kind of day job do you have and ho w does it influence your creative writing?

A: My day job is not really related to creative writing, although I do a lot of business writing. I do handle the social media sites and blog for the company though. Sometimes on my lunch break I’ll write something related to what I’m working on or a blog post.

Q:  What is the Versatile Blogger award? 


A: According to the main website, bloggers nominated for the award are considered for the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the subjects covered, the level of love displayed in the words on the virtual page. Or, of course, the quality of the photographs and the level of love displayed in the taking of them.

I feel honored to be recognized by other talented bloggers and I hope my writing continues to make an impact.

Q:  What is the secret to creating an interesting heroine?


A: Well, I guess you can’t strive for perfection. No heroine/hero is perfect, I think readers relate better to a character who is honestly trying to overcome certain boundaries. Because we are all trying to overcome boundaries every day.


Q:  Who are some of your literary influences?

A: I read a lot of books: Ernest Hemingway, Suzanne Collins, Steig Larsson, Larissa Ione, Sandra Brown….to name a few.

Q:  What is the oddest story you have ever covered as a journalist?

A: As a contributor, to health news at Atlanta Black Star, one of the oddest, or I should say most upsetting is the recent controversial verdict from North Texas in which a 16 year old teen killed 4 people and injured others in a drunk driving collision. His psychologist made a defense based on a made up disease called “Affluenza”.

Q:  What is the most unique thing you have done to promote yourself as a writer?


A: Well, I’m always writing and contributing to other sites as well as pitching writers for reviews. I’m trying to get my name out there, I have pitched other websites and have been turned down, but I’m still trying, especially to get more reviews of my debut novel.

Currently, I have teamed up with other author to give away a Kindle Fire HDX, and that has worked well in terms of promoting my website, here is the link!

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Photographer/Writer Leigh Downey



Leigh Downey is a photographer and writer who lives in New Orleans; here is a link to her website:

Q:  What made you interested in being a photographer?

A: I originally wanted to learn photography to enhance my visual art, and that is still my focus. I do abstract, expressionistic, and collage work with layers, sculpting media, found objects, etc. and photographs are integral to the mix. Subsequently because I live in New Orleans, which has a substantial film industry presence, I get requests for headshots and modeling shots. I worked as a set photographer for a while.
Q:  What is your latest photography project?

A: I’m working on a series of books featuring my original photographs. The first will be out in a month.
Q:  What do you hope to express though your work?

A: Color, form, texture, and composition are important to me as an artist and inform my photography, as well.   I’m not really trying to express anything. When I take a shot, I’m in the moment. Later, when I get to my computer, it’s like Christmas and opening up presents to see what I’ve got. My work is synchronicity.

I do art for myself and if someone else likes it, that’s awesome!

Q:  Who are some of your favorite photographers?

Alessandro Rocchi has a great eye for nuance and depth in facial expressions and unplanned events.  I also like Martin Amis’ stylistic beauty of the everyday, the mundane.  Richard Avedon’s iconic fashion photography is amazing. Michael David Adams is a brilliant fashion photographer. I adore the purity, starkness, and precision of his work.  Ansel Adams is a longtime fave because his work was seminal and so influential. Annie Liebowitz’ candid portraiture has inspired many. (Martin Amis)  (Alessandro Rocchi) (Michael David Adams)
Q:  Who do you think are the most overrated photographers?

The photographers that I think are overrated are the ones that don’t resonate with me.

All art is subjective, including photography. Some photographers are better technicians and some have more soul. Some have both and some have neither.
Q:  Why do you think so many great writers have come from the south?

The south is a twisted place. There is a sub-context of angst, pain, guilt, and resentment lingering from slavery debacle 200 years ago. On the surface, southern society looks nice and tidy, divided up into neat little demographic squares divided by railroad tracks. (New Orleans is a bit of an exception.) Underneath the surface is a roiling mass of love, hate, DNA secrets, and denial.  Just like Fifty Shades of Gray, there are fifty shades between “black” and “white” but no one wants to talk about it. For some reason, southerners also have lots of skeletons in the closet that make for good writing fodder like the crazy aunt in the attic or the criminal cousin that the family disowned. They like to hide things—and people.

People just write out their pain and experience. There are a lot of secrets in the south. Lots of secrets and ghosts.

Q:  Who are some of your literary influences?

Zora Neal Hurston’s Moses, Man of the Mountain and Their Eyes Were Watching God have has influenced my writing on several levels—technically, spiritually, politically. Her writing is visceral. Hurston has ties to New Orleans via her voudo initiation. I’ve met people who remember her. Truman Capote and Flannery O’Connor are similar to each other in that they expose the weird underbelly of genteel southern façade, though O’Connor leans toward the grotesque. I’m quite fond of them.  I’m currently reading House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski and I like his creative use of the page!

The Bhagavad Gita, Rumi, and Dr. Sue Walker have influenced my poetry. Sharon Olds and Mary Oliver are two poets whose work I admire.
Q:  What do you like about New Orleans?

A: I love drinking wine with friends on my balcony in the Garden District and hearing the streetcar rumble and live music on St. Charles, the steamboat horn blow on the Mississippi, and the train whistle, while the breeze blows nag champa out the French doors into the oak trees and street. It’s happy and mystical at the same time. Nothing sweeter.

I like Magazine and Frenchman Streets and movie sets all over town. I love the architecture, the diversity, the blues, the funk, the hip hop, the jazz. I love that the city never sleeps. I love F&F Candle Shop, the second line parades, Saints football, Willie Mae’s chicken in the 7th ward, and Commander’s Palace. I like the sanctioned anarchy that goes on like pop-up street parties on St. Claude. I like the dark side and the seediness. I like the palm trees and the Caribbean feel that creeps up on summer nights. There is no place on earth like New Orleans.

I’ve seen a bumper sticker that sums it up: “New Orleans: We’re all here, because we’re not all there.” You either love it or you hate it. If you love it, you might be a little bit crazy.

Q:  What don’t you like about it?

A: I don’t like the smell of vomit and urine in the French Quarter on Sunday morning and I wish people wouldn’t hurt each other.
Q:  What is the difference between a good headshot and a bad headshot?

A: The photographer.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview with Actor Julian G. Simmons


Julian G. Simmons Is an Oxford trained actor who appears in the film The Dinner; here is a link to his website:

Q:  What made you interested in acting?

A: I think for some people, even without proper training, they have an innate ability to perform.  I am not one of those people, I have had to learn how to do good work, and I’m still doing that, but that’s the interesting thing about our world now, we are a society that wants instant gratification. We see that some people become (or seem to become) overnight successes and we think we can have that too.  I have been guilty of that myself, but most of us have to work at what we want to achieve, most certainly those of us involved in entertainment.  I have always gone for the “challenge” and acting is certainly a challenge. I like to think I am pretty intelligent and insightful, but that doesn’t mean I can just walk in front of a camera and give that award-winning performance. Acting is like life, I think, more than most professions. It’s you that is out there, exposing yourself to the forces that be, to strangers, to casting directors that might not be having a great day when you walk in the room and audition for the role they have been seeing actors perform all day long. It’s about being consistent when life itself is anything but that, and making the performance you give feel authentic and also the same every time you do it. Beyond that I think what interested me in acting in the beginning was that I wanted to be someone else because I didn’t like myself all that much. And acting has been a kind of therapy for me, learning how to be comfortable in my own skin by probably doing the most extreme thing I could do and that’s putting myself in front of other people on camera. Anyway you look at it, you are being judged, no one is going to coddle you or hold your hand or say, “Oh that’s okay, you screwed up that scene.”  You have to put your feet solidly on the ground and believe in what you’re doing, find yourself in that character and give a realistic performance. Even the most successful actors will tell you there is nothing consistent about doing that, that we all deal with stage fright, for example, but you can learn skills to help you through that and that’s what makes the difference between doing good work or okay work. All actors deal with their own fears, but often those fears can be transformed into something the actor can use to enhance the character they’re playing. Your fears don’t have to be your enemies. So I think it’s the challenge and to make myself a better person, to understand myself better that attracted me to acting and just the fun of playing different types of characters. Doing comedy and playing unusual characters bring me the most pleasure.
Q:  What is The Dinner about?

A: The Dinner is about a man who has decided to end his life, but before he does brings together a group of people whom he met during his world travels or from past relationships to celebrate his birthday. For me the most fun was a scene near the end of the movie where we all enter a room in the celebrant’s home and on every table, every surface is a birthday cake with candles alight. The lead character gives a speech and I say something smart to him and he picks up a cake and smashes it into my face, which of course starts a cake and champagne war.  I think it gave all of us actors a way to let loose that we wouldn’t normally on a film set. It was quite a mess to clean up I’m sure.
Q:  You play the voice of Roman Polanski in “Haunting Charles Manson”; what did you do to prepare for the role?

A: I watched a lot of interviews Polanski gave over the years of his career to zero in on his accent, his inflections, his speaking voice.  I also come from a Polish background and spoke Polish as a child. My parents were big on English being our first language, so as I grew up we spoke less and less Polish. Now I only remember very basic words, but the accent never left my mind. I still hear it very clearly.  Polanski has a very specific way of speaking. He knows English very well, but the Polish accent still finds its way through in his pronunciation. I was honored to be able to be his voice, as I think he’s an outstanding filmmaker.  I also share with him the fact that one side of his family is Christian and the other Jewish.

Q:  Why do you think The Manson Family still interests people so?

A: I think we humans have a fascination with the morbid. This was not a family dispute or a robbery. It was an extraordinary crime and people are drawn to things that are out of the ordinary. Plus, Sharon Tate was quite beautiful and famous and whenever a beautiful famous person is killed in a particularly morose way, it draws our attention.
Q:  .You went to Oxford where you studied Shakespeare and the classics; do you think people in the film industry are intimidated by your education?

A: That’s an interesting question. I actually don’t think Hollywood takes much notice of it. It may mean something in theatre circles like Broadway and off-Broadway, but Hollywood doesn’t seem to care about classical training.  It’s not the current “trend.”   I don’t know how many people realize the value of having Shakespearean training. Shakespeare was the master of theatre and his plays have such incredibly universal themes that are just as relevant today as when he wrote them.  That’s why his works are still so popular. The other wonderful thing about Shakespeare is that the style of writing and language is different than today so it forces the actor to actually think about what he or she is saying and to also listen to what’s being said.  That makes the difference between being an actor and not being an actor. The words are all we have to go by to tell us who we and the other characters are in a story. We of course need to read between the lines, but without the lines we have nothing.   My current acting teacher, David Dean Bottrell, is a working actor in television, and is very big on teaching us to listen to what the other characters are saying, instead of just focusing on saying our lines. That is such a valuable lesson, as valuable as anything I learned in my Shakespeare training.
Q:  What has been your greatest professional triumph?

A: I’m still working on that one, but I would say being selected to study at Oxford.  I began acting professionally later in life than most. I started in the entertainment business as an assistant to Merv Griffin, then went on to work for an Italian Count, who at the time owned a small PR company, where I eventually became director of the company before starting my own PR business. I had met a lot of celebrities, many were clients, and I quickly got over being star struck.  By the time I reached Oxford I was ready for a new challenge. The hardest part for me was the huge reduction to my income because I was starting over. While I was at Oxford I studied under some amazing teachers. Probably the one that impressed me most was William Gaskill, who is a British theatre director. Bill was one of the Founding Directors of the National Theatre and worked alongside Laurence Olivier. He was the artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre and also a Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is a brilliant man.  Mostly I studied other classic theatre under him, including Samuel Beckett’s work. I most remember working on “Endgame,” and since Beckett’s work is about absurdist theatre, you really, really have to think about what is happening otherwise you will be completely lost.  Bill didn’t make it easier, but that’s the point. He made the learning process difficult, but if you could feel you came out on top of it, understanding it, that in itself is a triumph.  The one other thing I have to mention even though it’s not what you might think of as a “triumph,” is this:  I didn’t grow up in a wealthy household, actually probably quite the opposite.  There weren’t a lot of opportunities laid out for me so I had to find those opportunities and make them my own.  I went to a private high school (another story in itself) and I was able to because it had a sliding tuition, so I went to school alongside a lot of kids from wealthy families and that opened up a different world to me because I saw how money bought freedom that those without money don’t have. And I also realized that what a person like me needed more than these other kids, was a will to succeed. Willful thinking can be very powerful and actually help you accomplish your goals when the avenues for the less fortunate are narrow. And when I say ‘willful thinking’ I am talking about holding the intention in your mind’s eye, so that you hold the vision of the future you want to create.  So when I was 18 I took a year off school and went and lived in Europe.  I did it with very little money and picking up work here and there and eventually landed in London where I got my first modeling job.  One day a British musician friend of mine asked me if I wanted to take a drive to Oxford and I jumped at the chance. It was like being asked to visit a city made of gold for me! I remember walking around the various colleges, and I stopped in front a large old wooden door, the entrance to one of the colleges, and expressed to my friend how much I would love to go to school there. Fast forward to my 40s and getting accepted into the Shakespeare program at Oxford and when I arrived at the gate to Balliol College (Oxford is made up of many colleges), I found myself at the very same gate I stood at when I was 18.  It was a triumph of the sort that really is unimaginable. Something I dreamed years before, and thought unattainable, had become reality.

I would also say my ‘triumph’ is also the last piece of work I’ve done, if I feel I did a good job. I recently narrated an audiobook (“Threshold,” by  Jordan L. Hawk), that was released on at Thanksgiving. I love the author’s work, and I’m thrilled she asked me to read “Threshold.” It is the second book I have narrated for her. The stories are incredible and the characters so original they jumped off the page at me when I first read them. Finding who each of those characters are and giving each of them a voice, is to me a real accomplishment. It’s not just playing one character, but many, and that’s a real challenge.
Q:  What was your biggest disappointment?

A: I would say my biggest disappointment, in retrospect, is that I didn’t start acting professionally when I was younger. When I first moved to Los Angeles from back east my then wife and I were invited to a type of gala in Beverly Hills.  A woman at the party kept staring at me and finally approached me. She was an agent at one of the better-known talent agencies and asked me if I was an actor.  I told her I had done some acting and had been a model, but no, I wasn’t a professional actor. She said she could get me work as an actor just on my look alone and so I signed with her. The thing is I didn’t really take it seriously and I constantly missed auditions and finally she dropped me. I can’t explain why I didn’t take it seriously other than I was not mature enough to understand the opportunity she was giving me or I just wasn’t in the right place in my life to take that on. I don’t like using the word ‘regret,” but I think I could have been much father ahead in my career.  One never knows. Acting opportunities, roles, grow scarcer as one gets older.  I know that’s even more true for female actors. We are a youth-oriented society that unfortunately doesn’t see the value in maturity, and that’s unfortunate because with age comes experience and wisdom. I believe a big part of how good an actor is or how deep he or she can go depends on that actor’s life experiences and what you can take from those experiences and apply to your acting craft. That’s why, when we see a young actor give a powerful performance in an emotionally demanding role, we are in awe. It’s not common for a young actor to do that unless they already have a lot of life experience to draw from.
Q:  What advice would you give to an aspiring actor who is looking to secure professional representation?

A: First, as important as representation is it also shouldn’t necessarily be one on of your top goals if you’re starting out. Hollywood is so much about timing. If you are coming to Hollywood with lots of training and experience behind you, that will help, but if you are really inexperienced, be honest with yourself about what the realities are. I also would strongly suggest doing as much non-union work as you can to build up your resume before joining the union.  Our union is incredibly important to us as actors, but once you join the union, you can only do union work and for a new actor starting out the opportunities aren’t plentiful, unless you want to do extra work. Build up your resume first, get copies of your screen work and put a reel together, then perhaps look for a reputable manager who can help you come up with a strategy for your next moves. And with any manager or agent, save yourself some grief and do your research first. Make sure they’re licensed with the state and that they don’t have complaints against them. And if they ever ask for money from you, run in the other direction. As far as older actors like myself, it’s obviously not impossible to start an acting career, but be sure what it is you want from making this new career move, figure out what roles you would be best at playing and find yourself a good acting class or acting coach. The Internet is an amazing thing. If you do your research you can find who is the best for you, whether that’s teaching or photography or representation.
Q:  What do you like about Hollywood?

A: I remember many years ago when I first moved here I had been introduced to a lawyer for MGM who took me on a tour of the (now Sony) lot. They were shooting a scene from “Bram Soker’s Dracula,” that Francis Coppola was directing.  It was the scene where Keanu Reeves is riding in a carriage through the dark woods on the way to the castle. I was blown away by the magic they created inside this soundstage. It was incredible to see the reality that could be created, another world, a fantasy world, and that’s what Hollywood is all about; making the unreal real. And that is exactly what acting is about; making a character that who before only lived on paper, into a living, breathing human being. And, not only that, we are given the opportunity to create who that person is beyond what the writer created, bringing quirks and idiosyncrasies to the character the writer hadn’t even thought of before. Acting is also a great way, and sometimes a painful way, to discover things about yourself and taking pieces of you and bringing them into a role. If you’re good at it, you really are creating magic. Hollywood is still a place where dreams come true. I also get really excited about being part of Hollywood when I see TV series like, Homeland, Family Tree, Ray Donovan, and House of Cards. The quality of those programs is exceptional.
Q:  What don’t you like about it?

A: The things I don’t like about Hollywood?  I am not crazy about the direction entertainment is going, but it may need to run its course before we can do anything about it. For one thing we are inundated with reality television dreck instead of quality programming. And with film, the studios today are mostly run by corporations and for the most part corporations are about profit, not about creativity.  Of course we all want to prosper from what we do, but it’s also important to always remember that entertaining people is about touching them emotionally, making them laugh or cry, inspiring them or showing them the truth about something. Most of the big studios are focused on making blockbusters and today that mostly translates into superhero films aimed at the youth market, because young people are the ones who mostly go to movies.  What’s getting lost in all that are the films that help us, young and old and anyone in between, learn about life. Films are very powerful things. They can teach us a lot about how we see the world, help us to cope with the problems in our lives, show us new ways of thinking, and teach us about injustice. The only time we get to see a lot of those films now is at the end of the year being considered for Academy and Guild awards. There is also very little support for independent films now, and that is where new actors, directors, and writers have historically been given their opportunity to prove what they can do. So now they, we, are trying to do this on the Internet, but there are so many web series (and not very effectively promoted) that most of the time we don’t even know they exist, let alone the Hollywood decision makers who could help you along in your career. On the good side, there are crowd funding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo that are trying to look after our creative people. It’s like the saying, when one door closes, another opens. Even with the things I don’t like about Hollywood, there are many more I do like. There is nothing like being in front of a camera for me and having the opportunity to create a character that no one has seen before. When I’m doing that and doing it well, I love Hollywood.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Lucid Practice Owners Paz Romano and Brian Levine

Paz Romano and Brian Levine own Lucid Practice, which is a website that offers useful information on yoga, travel and wellness; here is a link:

Q: What is Lucid Practice?

A: Lucid Practice is a community for our readers to live, learn, and give. Anything and everything from our daily practice is brought forward for conversation. By practice we mean daily thoughts, activities, captivating books and websites, to some of our opinions on love, faith, and life. We would like to help our readers “stay lucid” on their journey throughout life.

Lucid Practice is a little piece of positive energy. It’s a ripple. How far will it spread? We don’t know but we’re excited. We hope our readers will find to be a useful daily resource for living a more loving, conscious, healthy, lucid life. We focus on yoga, travel, wellness, and art.

Q: What inspired you to start it?

A: Lucid Practice began as a “blog journal.” We intended to keep record of our thoughts and of the lucid articles and videos we came across day to day. We thought Lucid Practice would serve as a central hub of positivity and sharing that we could always refer back to. Additionally, we thought that others might benefit as well.

However, we never imagined that would be having such a positive impact on so many readers in such a short period of time.

We’re grateful and have enjoyed sharing our thoughts and hearing from readers to create connections and foster conversations that matter.

Q: How can yoga make the world a better place?

A: In Sanskrit, the word “yoga” means “to yoke.” Yoga is a process of self enquiry. Yoga is a process of yoking our body, mind, and breath. With consistent practice, we feel more connected to ourselves, to those around us, and to God and/or the universe.
In this sense, yoga can yoke people together. We feel that if people are at peace with themselves and truly aware of their actions, they will be selfless and their actions will not be contingent upon their own ego.
Yoga is a method of purifying one’s self. Unskillful thoughts and actions that have become patterns in life can be brought to attention and reflected upon. The Tao Te Ching eloquently notes, “In the pursuit of learning, something is acquired every day. In the pursuit of the Tao, every day something is relinquished.” By becoming our best selves through yoga, we can all live at peace together and let the world take its natural course.
Q: You make videos of your travel destination; what makes your videos unique?

A: Many of our readers are backpackers and international travelers. We feature travel videos that we think will have a positive impact on our readers. One of our blog contributors, Danielle, has studied film. She’s so talented in an array of artistic mediums and we enjoy sharing her work with our readers.

Also, we’ve recently been uploading clips on YouTube that viewers can’t find anywhere else. We like to blend yoga with music and the early results of this have been decidedly positive.

Q: What kind of training have you had?

A: We participated in an Ashtanga yoga retreat in Koh Phangan, Thailand with our teacher (who we’re still very much connected to) Rory Trollen. During this retreat, our concept of life as we knew it was forever changed. We do not profess to be experts by any means. We are students first and foremost.

We’re not so sure about (well, we’re not so sure about anything) the Western approach of “200 Hour Teaching Training Courses” which can essentially be crash courses designed to make a quick buck for the yoga studio owner. We feel the real training comes from your own consistent, daily practice. We feel the best training is consistent, daily practice and we mean six days a week for several years consecutively.

Who is more qualified to teach: the 200 hour certified yoga teacher who just found yoga 4 months ago or the “uncertified” practitioner who has studied and practiced yoga daily for twenty years?

Q: You both have backgrounds in football, is the football culture accepting of the teachings of yoga?

A: Ten years ago the answer to the question would be drastically different to what it is now. Yoga has become widely accepted. In the Western culture and especially in American football culture, men tend to have a “tough guy” mentality (we know because that was us!) and yoga was seen as contrary to that. This cultural norm has been flipped upside down as more and more NFL players have expressed their gratitude for the practice.

The best athletes in the world practice yoga regularly: Lebron James, Calvin Johnson, Ray Lewis, etc.

Q: How did yoga help improve your game?

A: We both began practicing yoga to become more dynamic athletes. We became more balanced, more flexible, and less prone to injury. We didn’t realize it at the time but now know that mental aspect of yoga can be even more beneficial than the physical.

Overall, we both agree that yoga helped us bring our game to the next level. The proof is in the results: We both helped lead our respective teams to conference championships while being awarded individual accolades that otherwise may not have been possible.

Q: What are the different types of yoga?

A: Yoga is a form of meditation for cleansing the mind, gaining spiritual consciousness, and forming a connection with the One of life. The Bhagavad Gita is one of the core texts of yoga. The Gita is eighteen chapters long and it’s said that in each chapter a different type of yoga is discussed.

While reading the Gita I didn’t necessarily notice eighteen types. I recognized four main branches of the practice: Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Raja yoga, and Jnana yoga. In basic terms karma yoga is the yoga of action, bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion, Raja yoga is the practice of meditation, and Jnana yoga is the yoga of knowledge into practice.

Hatha yoga is the practice we see many people in the West practicing today. It is a form of Raja yoga. Many people associate Hatha yoga or Ashtanga yoga (a type of Hatha practice) with the well-known eight limbs of yoga. One limb of this practice is the physical asana or postures. This meditational practice is changing the world.

Q: How do you decide where to travel next?

A: We usually pick a starting place and have a defined but entirely open and flexible plan. At one point, we were about to book a flight from Beijing, China to Mumbai, India but at the last minute opted to fly to Bangkok, Thailand. One of our favorite aspects of travel is being spontaneous and disregarding cultural norms that most people are used to.

We prefer long duration trips and tend to stay in one location for at least a couple of weeks in order to get immersed in the local culture.

We’re passionate learners, meeting new people and learning about other cultures has taught us that there’s so much more to life than going to a great college, getting a great job, getting married, having kids and settling down. Many Westerners get distracted by “the rat race,” celebrity gossip, slavishly following sports teams, or other activities that to us seem trivial compared to seeing the world and having a positive impact on people.

Q: If a football player scored a touchdown and no one saw it would it score six points?

A: That’s a tough question! Yes he would, we think? Would he celebrate and showboat? That’s a discussion for another day.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)