An Interview with Self Help Blogger Rob Young

Rob Young is a self help blogger. Here is a link to his website:

Q:  What inspired you to start your blog?

A: Basically, I wanted to share what I’ve learned with other people. I’ve gone through quite a number of trials and tribulations, as you can read in my blog. My family went broke, my parents died when I was young…I have had a lot of challenges to overcome. There were a lot of dark days but these unfortunate experiences led me to develope a deep spirituality which helped me bounce back. I’ve discovered that even the worst of times can be a good learning experience and I hope my experience and insights can help other people who are feeling down and feeling hopeless. That’s why I started Native American Buddha.

Q: What is the most common misconception about Buddhism?

A: Many people think that Buddhism is a religion and that Buddha is the God of that religion. This is all false. Buddhism is a spiritual practice, designed for self improvement and enlightenment. It’s meant to bring you closer to yourself rather than to God. And Buddha is not a God. He was the founder of the religion and is still a revered figure, but Buddhists don’t think of him the way Christians think of Jesus. Buddha was just a man. A great teacher but very human.


Q:  What is the most common misconception about Native Americans?

A: There are so many! The Hollywood stereotype that has been perpetuated over the last 100 years still affects the way people think of the First Americans. We think of Indians as stoic, red-skinned people with feathered headdresses, living in teepees. That’s a Hollywood myth. Indians aren’t any more grim or stoic than anyone else and they do not have ‘Red Skin’. You really can’t tell their pigmentation from most Europeans. Most Indians didn’t live in Teepees, even in the old days and they certainly don’t today. And the feathered head dresses are only ceremonial, not daily wear.

Q:  What makes a blog interesting to read?


A: To me, an interesting blog has a sense of familiarity. You should read it and say “I totally get that!” If it’s a personal story, you should feel a sympathetic bond with the writer and relate to the writer’s problems. If it’s a hobby blog, you should share the love of the topic. A self-help hub should draw the reader in by discussing a problem that the reader and writer have both experienced and suggesting ways to solve those problems. A good blog should create a bond between the writer and reader.

Q:  What is the best way you’ve found to get readers to your blog?


A: Probably the best way is to use links to other places like Facebook and my Hub Pages articles.

Q:  Do you do any other kinds of writing?


A: I do a whole variety of writing. I just finished the script to a TV pilot about drug addiction and recovery. It’s been filmed and is being edited. I’ve written a biographical film screenplay about the Marx Brothers, (Which I unfortunately haven’t sold yet) and I have over 150,000 views to my series of articles on Hub Pages. I’ve written film reviews for, published some short stories, authored a play, wrote a graphic novel and I’ve ghost-written seven books.

Q:  What sorts of jobs have you had and how do they influence your writing?

A: I’ve done everything. I’ve been an advertising man, a dog groomer, a security guard, a convenience store manager, a janitor, an inventory clerk, a cashier and now I’m a freelance writer. It’s all a learning experience to me. I’ve worked with rich advertising Mad Men and dirt-poor grocery store employees. All these experiences have given me a good view of human nature in every strata of society. It’s a big help in writing to have a good insight into human nature.

Q:  What are some blogs that you follow?

A: Most of the blogs I read are written by people I know. However, I like to read ‘One City: A Buddhist Blog for Everyone’ which is done by the people at the Interdependence Project at Belief-net. Also, as film buff, I enjoy readng Roger Ebert’s online journal.

Q: What made you interested in Native American spirituality?

A: When I was going through my toughest period after the death of my parents, I experimented with a whole lot of different religions, philosophies and practices. The two that really stuck with me were Buddhism and Native American spiritualism. Something about the way they held onto their core beliefs through adversity resonated with me at the time. They still do. I visited the Shinnecock Indian reservation in Suffolk County and attended some of the Native American festivals they have around NY city. I became overcome with awe at their spiritual strength.

Q:  What is the best book you have read about the Native America experience?


A: There are a lot of good books but the best one is still the classic Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown. That book really had an impact on me when I first read it. Powerful!

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 Miss Broadway Dork

Miss Broadway Dork is an internet singing sensation on YouTube. Here is a link to her page:


Q:  What inspired you to start making your YouTube videos?

A: I sang in shows but it always made me nervous and I didn’t quite feel secure in my voice. I thought that perhaps singing online would give me a singing outlet and wouldn’t be quite as scary as singing in public and would help boost my confidence and it did!

Q:  What kind of formal training have you had?

A: I’ve had about a year and a half of lessons off and on.

Q:  If my readers only listen to one of your videos, which one would you like them to listen to and why?

A: Hmm…well my most popular one is probably my Little Mermaid one but perhaps I’d choose the Mother Knows Best video….even though I could have had the lyrics a bit more memorized I guess I think that one is fun;)

Q: What is your dream role and why?

A: Well I’d LOVE another crack at Mrs. Lovett. Any role in a Sondheim show really I’d love. But to get right down to it I have a hankering to play Maria in The Sound of Music.

Q:. How did you go about publicizing your videos?

A: I never did. People just found them I guess! I honestly never expected to get so many subscribers but it’s an honor!

Q:  Where else can we see you work your magic?

A: Oh Gosh! I occasionally do some local theatre. People have been encouraging me to put out a cd so I’ve been thinking about that.

Q:  What is the most common misconception about Broadway musicals?

A: That they’re fluffy and cheesy. That they can’t be art. If you only go to Mamma Mia types shows you’ll be accurate. But I dare someone to go see Sunday In the Park With George and call it fluffy. Not that there is anything wrong with fluff. Fluff has its place. But that is not all there is. That’s like saying all films are Dumb and Dumber.

Q:  If you could change one thing about the theater industry, what would it be?

A: One thing? Well I’d love if Broadway became more affordable so more people could see shows. I have to sneak in another thing though. I wish casting weren’t so “type” based. Most theatre is not about “realism”. It’s about an experience. About magic. Why not change up the rules about what a character is suppose to look like. It’s true sometimes shows require that a person to be a type as it’s built into the script but most of the time this is just decided based on past casting and stereotype. Why?

Q:. Which musical has the best score ever?

A: That is a toughie. Sunday in the Park With George is my favorite.

Q:  Marry kiss or kill; Nathan Detroit, The Phantom or Henry Higgins?

A: Oh dear. What pickings. Phantom I feel sorry for but he’s a creeper so he would have to go. Henry has some misogyny issues and is emotionally unavailable so I suppose a kiss would do. Nathan would need some work but I suppose he’d have to be my groom.

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 Food Blogger RC

RC is a New York based food blogger. Here is a link to his blog:



 Q:  What makes someone a foodie?

 A:  A foodie is someone who recognizes the connection between food and love. Also a foodie is someone who at any given time can drop everything to discuss the best place to get, say, samosa chat.

Q:  What is the biggest misconception people have about vegan food?

It’s not nuts and twigs. Although not vegan myself I’ve learned that it can be delicious and not as limiting as people assume.

A:  A lot of your posts are about gluten free food. What are the benefits of eating gluten free?

I don’t know that it’s more beneficial than a regular diet as there are still chances to eat fried and junk foods even if GF. It does require more planning however to make sure you get variety and nutrition which often means fewer impulsive junk food purchases.

Q:   What restaurant in New York serves the best vegetable korma?

A: Tiffinwallah is a wonderful all vegetarian restaurant at 127 E 28th between Lexington and Park. Their South Indian stuff is worth checking out too.

Q:  What is the best vegan restaurant in New York?

 A:  Right now I’d recommend Sacred Chow. They have amazing GF/Vegan Tempeh reubens. I got a craving just thinking about it.

Q:  What makes a meal worth blogging about?

 A: If it puts a smile on your face or brings out a happy memory then it’s worth blogging about.

Q:  What do you think of the foie gras ban in LA?

A: I understand why it’s banned but haven’t researched what’s considered humane versus inhumane. It’s a high-end food so I was never really tempted to try it.

Q: Do you think it will catch on in other cities?

 A: It’s pretty likely to catch on in other major markets especially if it’s doesn’t have a big economic impact in California.

Q:  What do you think of the trend toward vegan comfort food? (will it get more people to be vegan?)

 A: I think it’s great. Who can argue with comfort food as long as it’s at comfort food prices? Not everything needs to be gourmet. Sometimes you just want the foods you grew up with.

Q:  What was the most annoying food fad ever? (and why)

A: I actually find the cupcake shops to be really annoying. I’d rather have an actual slice of cake with a cup of black coffee.

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 Internet Content Manager Leigh Feldman

Leigh Feldman is a content manager and large data submitter for The Octopus Corporation. Here is a link to the website:

Q:  What exactly is a large data submitter?

A: A data submitter is similar to a community manager in that it uses various social software platforms to facilitate digital conversations between brands and its consumers/community. Ideally you are using technology to help companies talk to potential clients and prospective purchasers about certain products by making them interested in and aware of the larger brand identity.

Q:  What sort of qualifications did you have to have to get your job?

A: Someone needs to have a good understanding of trend-forecasting/trend-reporting, what makes ads ‘sticky,’ basic online marketing principles related to SEO/meta-tags, an ability to write creative ad copy, and be able to recognize when certain items (whether it be pictures/videos/links/stories/live-streams) are beginning to spread to a larger audience.

Q:  What do you like about working in Portland?

A: I love that it is a creative culture. Everyone here has an idea that will make them and some of their friends rich and famous.

Q:  What don’t you like about it?

A:  I hate that it is a creative culture. Everyone here has an idea that will make them and their friends rich and famous, and so few are willing to chart out the steps it will take to see said idea to completion.

Q:  Why should my readers hire a marketing company to submit data for Twitter; can’t they just tweet themselves?


A: It’s not just about submitting data to Twitter, it’s about understanding the frequency with which a consumer will visit your site/page, how far the reach of your content spreads, what the actual yield is for each post, and what the engagement and interaction is from your community (both positive and negative). People can absolutely tweet and post themselves, but understanding when and what is the important part, especially in relation to a brand.

Other benefits of a reputable company can be that they can show you how your media metrics relate to a business metric so that you can have a better idea of where to put your resources and budget(s). The purpose of any social media campaign should be to decrease costs and increase revenue. If a company does not have a strategy/plan for ways to do this they should not be in this business. Hiring a firm is absolutely an investment; a decent one can/should/will hopefully bring you a non-financial return for your brand, a great company will bring you a financial one.

Q: What was the most challenging job you’ve ever had?


A: In non-marketing work I was actually the tour dj for the Jonas Brothers for an incredibly brief period of time. I’m not joking. Dealing with so many requirements from so many personalities was definitely challenging, but it was a great experience and taught me a lot about dealing with constantly changing expectations. In marketing work, I was part of a team for a client who wanted us to shift their outreach focus to grow their company Facebook page by 5000% in a very short period of time (you read that correctly, 5000%). The challenging part was trying to convince the client that what they wanted was simply for vanity purposes and that previous experiential marketing campaigns showed greater success in creating loyal purchasing behavior from their consumers than Facebook activity. This was another case of personality creating the challenge opposed to the actual activity, but it showed to me that in this digital age where ‘infinity’ is (im)possible, for some clients ‘socializing’ becomes objectified and turned into a competition, one in which they will never be satisfied unless they have as much or more than someone else.

Q:  How would you market my blog?

A: What are your expectations? Who are you trying to reach? Where would you like to see your blog ‘be’ that would make you happy?

Q:   What is the biggest marketing mistake you’ve seen people make?

A: Never taking advantage of data collection/data retention. Not recognizing that every interaction someone has with you or your brand is an opportunity to turn them into a loyal consumer and/or brand evangelist. Not believing in their own product enough to take a risk for a return. Hard to decide which one of these is the most detrimental as they hurt businesses in a variety of ways in different stages of development.

Q:  What is tagged content and how does one sell it?

A: Tagged content is a post that has a number of descriptive/specific/related keywords – similar to a label, but often known as metadata – that provide numerous search-ability, identity, classification, original ownership etc. etc. benefits.

Q:  What was the best marketing campaign in history?


A: The one that made us all believe that certain types of paper and metals and stones are worth more than others and will in turn make us happy. Who started that one? I’m sure they are wealthy. Hopefully happy too.



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 Travel Blogger Turner

Turner is a travel and running blogger who recently went to Japan to participate in the All Hands project. Here is a link to his website:




Q:  What made you interested in starting a travel /running blog?

A: I didn’t get started on travel blogging until I decided to move to Japan, where nearly every newbie starts a blog (mainly to rant) on teaching English. Being a runner, I wanted to explore some of the differences in training and races in Japan… you still have jr. high school bands playing “Eye of the Tiger” along the course.

Q:  What is so appealing about movement?

A: Eat less, move more. Being capable of running or any kind of physical activity isn’t a luxury reserved for those with leisure time; it’s essential to our health, and puts all of us in touch with our primal nature.

Q: What is the most under-appreciated travel destination?

A: I think the US is under appreciated the most by Americans. We have the great American road trip, but if we want something exotic, there’s a strong tendency to want to leave the country rather than just explore a different region. I advocate holding a passport and using it, but if you can learn to be a traveler at home first, the mentality will follow you abroad.

Q: What is the most overrated travel destination?

A: Take your pick. Every major city and tourist destination will have aspects to them that don’t really meet our high expectations: cable cars in San Francisco; eating sushi in Tokyo; trying to achieve perfect clarity during a weekend temple stay. In this sense, I don’t really believe any place on Earth is too touristy or overrated, but certain activities in those places are in the guidebook because everyone has gotten into the habit of doing them, rather than questioning why they’re supposed to be fun and memorable.

Q: What is All Hands?

A:  All Hands is an American-run disaster relief organization that helps bring in supplies, support, and volunteers around the world. They’ve operated in the US, Haiti, Thailand, and most recently the Philippines. I was living in South Korea when the earthquake and tsunami struck eastern Japan. All Hands gave me the opportunity to help clean up a small part of the affected area.

Q: What is the media not telling us about Japan?

A: Anything and everything. The international media is still, by and large, completely ignorant about the events following 3/11. The Japanese media has improved, but many citizens believe there’s more to the story. Although I can’t be 100% certain, I believe the radiation scare from Fukushima was completely blown out of proportion. A lot of viewers just weren’t willing to accept the fact Japan has the infrastructure to take of this disaster almost completely on their own (not that assistance wasn’t accepted, i.e. All Hands); the people didn’t need random religious groups enthusiastically offering to adopt orphaned Japanese children; the major roads were clear and public buses were running within weeks of the tsunami. The area is recovering, but cleanup will take some time.

Q: What is your weirdest travel story?

A: Take your pick. I was climbing down a mountain towards the beach near Kagoshima and decided to hitchhike back to the train station. The first man who picked me up happened to be a master in the martial art of cutting off heads. I survived.

Q:  What separates good travel writing from bad travel writing?

A: There’s a lot of both, that’s for sure. You may recall a parable about a king who sent two representatives to two distant lands. One of the men was spoiled, bitter, and lacking empathy. The other was virtuous, kind, and open to new ideas. Upon returning to the king and reporting what they had seen, the former said: “People in this land are the worst humanity has to offer; they are thieves, murderers, scoundrels all.” The latter smiled and spoke to the king: “The people I met were beautiful souls, kind, caring, and friendly.” The king then laughed, because he knew he had sent them to the same land.

As travel writers, our attitudes, backgrounds, everything about us goes into our impressions of the places we visit and the people we meet. For every story talking about being scammed in Vietnam, I hear another detailing one of the best trips of one’s life. But attitude will only take you so far. In general, a travel writer who can bring you into his mind with his words and make you want to visit someplace is more effective than one who merely says what happened in chronological order on his trip.

Q: Which blogs do you follow?

A: Too many to count. Seriously. I mostly follow blogs from teachers in Japan and South Korea, but I have my share of vagabonds across the globe I enjoy reading about too.

Q:  Travels With Charlie or On the Road?

A: “I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was — I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds.”

Kerouac, all the way. I guess I just found myself relating to his situation better than that Steinbeck described. A man on his own, seeing why some might choose to stay in one place but always hearing the call of the road. By today’s standards, it’s a great travel narrative, but in the 1950s, such talk had the power to shape a generation.


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 Fashion Blogger Amber Sweet

Amber Sweet is a fashion blogger. Here is a link to her blog:



Q: What motivated you to start your blog?

A:  I have always wanted to write for a magazine, but a blog is basically the new magazine in this age.

 Q:  Why should women listen to you about fashion?

A: A great painter once told me that I had a solid eye for color. That compliment will never be forgotten. Color is a huge basis of fashion.

Q:  what is the number one fashion mistake you see woman make?

A:  pairing a hot outfit with a lack of confidence

Q:  What, exactly would I get if I were to use your styling services?

 A: After an initial consultation you would get virtually provided looks

that bring together your personal style along with new beginnings.


Q: What  fashion advice would you give to a pasty-faced, 46-year-old,

who is ten pounds overweight and has a rather large posterior?

A:  There would have to be an evaluation process. Everyone has a different inner self and true styling advice is more than just putting clothing on someone to cover their imperfections.

Q: What is the most annoying fashion trend you have ever seen?

 A: Harem Pants.

Q:  What celebrity has the best style?

 A: You will rarely see me gush about celebrities.

Q:  What celebrity has the worst style?

 A: omit!


Q:  If you had an invitation to the Tony’s what would you wear?

A:  an ethereal gown with sequined


Q:  Who would you marry, kill or kiss: Calvin Klein or Levi Strauss?

A:  They are a bit old for me!

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 Filmmaker Ann Marie Bryan

Ann Marie Bryan is the producer of the upcoming film The Double Life of Zhane Rain. Here is a link to the films Kickstarter page:


Q:  What is The Double Life of Zhane Rain about?

A: The Double Life of Zhane Rain, based in New York, is a psychodrama and surreal story about a hard-of-hearing teenager who juggles family, peer and culture conflicts while in search of her own sexual identity, freedom, and self-realization.  Zhane Rain is an intense and carefree high school senior with three generations of hearing and Deaf family members who unravels family secrets behind the traumatic brain injury that caused her deafness.

Q: What inspired you to make the film?


A: Like the character, Zhane Rain, I also endured a traumatic brain injury as a child. As a result of that injury, I also lost my hearing, so I know what it’s like dealing with family secrets, or not having to know the cause of my hearing loss until very recently. While growing up, I felt like I was living my life with a big “?” over my head every time someone would ask me how I became deaf. I’d tell them that I had no idea. The film, which I wrote and plan to direct, is fictional, but I used some of my own real-life experiences while writing the script.

Q:  What life experiences do you draw from in your work?

A: To better understand where I come from, one needs to understand that I live my life in three different cultural worlds. My personal world is a trinity of these worlds: Deaf, Jamaican-born but living now in America, and hearing. I utilize American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate, and the barrier of sound is a life-long challenge for me. This further exacerbates my life-long challenge of living in a world of sound. Therefore, I have three strikes against me as, every day, I fearlessly face societal, linguistic and cross-cultural barriers.

I was brought up in a mainstream society, one that had a tremendous influence on my life as a person with a hearing loss. As a filmmaker, I want to produce films about this experience. I want to tell and expose stories to audiences who will pay to see my films. I want to make films for television and the silver screen about issues from a non-traditional point of view commonly shared by Deaf people.

Through my films, I address a variety of paradoxical issues such as race, family conflicts, biracial and/or bicultural dynamics, socially conscious issues such as the inconsistently-heated debate over cochlear implants, same-sex relationships, domestic violence, rape, police brutality and mistreatment against Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, AIDS in the Deaf community, and interpersonal relationships between Deaf and hearing people who face cross-cultural and communication barriers.

Everyday, we deal with oppression, ignorance and bigotry. I tell these stories in a passionate manner with a strong urge to spread messages of love, awareness, diverse communication, education, uplifting, and peace-sharing that have been neglected by today’s ignorant and troubled world. These messages need more potency to be heard everywhere. As an artist who is deeply in touch with emotions, I respond well to human connection and the human condition; I want to tap into these emotions by making films that expose the human side of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people from all backgrounds, especially people of color.

Instead of turning to others for support, I established a film production company in 2006 to produce my own work as an avenue to address these three worlds, and other human experiences as well, in today’s society. Today, I am a respected and well-versed leader and filmmaker in my own right who serves as a model to others.

Q: What do you like about the film industry?

A: I enjoy attending film festivals, meeting new people and learning new things. I try not to follow in the path of what “Hollywood” is doing, as I am a big fan of the Independent Film industry. I like hearing about new and emerging talents, and new films, too, because they deserve the attention and the buzz. This is what inspires me because people work hard to make it…they believe in their stories and they want it to be told in their own way.

Q:  What don’t you like about it?

A: I don’t like that they’re not open to new voices, new talents who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing actors of color who are looking for opportunities. I also dislike the fact that the Hollywood industry is closed to original stories and is producing sequels more than they ever did.

Q:  Who are some of your artistic influences?

A: My artistic influences include Stanley Kubrick, Stephen Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Pedro Almodovar, Queen Latifah, Oprah Winfrey, and myself. Yes, indeed, myself included, as I am my own inspiration.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge as a filmmaker?

A: I continue to have two (2) main challenges: The inability to hear sound when I am working on my films, and getting financing for those films.

Q:  What do you think was the greatest independent film ever made and why?

A: I actually have a couple of favorites, but I have to say that “In America” was one of the greatest indie films ever made. The first time I watched it was with my best friend. There were a couple of scenes that were very touching and intense, and we cried like two school-girls. I mean we sobbed our eyeballs out. I was like, “throw me another handkerchief, will ya?” I love that movie. I love Djimon Hounsou’s work. He’s very “real”, and his acting is very powerful. In fact, I thought that was the best work he’s ever done. All of the other characters are spot-on as well with their emotions.

Q:  What is your wildest work story?

A: That’s an interesting question. I wrote my third screenplay about female eroticism and sexual exploration, but I actually don’t think America is ready for it yet. It’s about a character, Cleopatra, who is caught up in a triangle of love and lust between a man and a woman, and struggles to make sense of her dark past and shatter her mother’s destructive family legend lifestyle. I don’t plan to film it in America. Instead, I want to shoot this film on an island, and Brazil is my first choice.

While I was working on this project, I saw a lot of foreign films for inspiration. Some of the films that inspired me were Henry and June, Wild Orchid, Wild Sargasso Sea, Karma Sutra: A Tale of Love, The Lover, Y Tu Mamá También, Irreversible, Like Water for Chocolate, Basic Instinct, Jade, and countless more. This type of work is something outside of what I normally do. There is absolutely no deaf character development in the story, and it has nothing to do with deafness or deaf culture.  Still, I hope to shoot this film within the next 5 years.

Q: Is the film industry basically liberal or conservative?

A: Absolutely! They may think that they seem liberal but they aren’t. American Cinema has developed thanks to Conservatives who’ve ruled the movie-making industry. Too many movies that are being made are “too safe” because those who make them care more about making money and pride themselves on the principles of family values instead of presenting original works with great storytelling. They also seem to be discouraged or intimidated by the liberal Indie films and filmmakers.


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