Thursday, 17 April 2014

Interview with Bruce Davis Of "The Love Letters"

1.Why did you write The Love Letters?
After visiting Assisi, Italy for many years and living there for twelve years, the lives of St. Francis & St. Clare of Assisi are very dear to us.  So when Pope Francis was elected and for the first time in history a Pope took the name Francis, we became v
ery excited.  We wondered what could it mean if Pope Francis was really a brother of St. Francis of Assisi?  What would the Church be like, indeed the world, if many people began living the heart and prayer of St. Francis of Assisi wanting to be instruments of peace and healing? What would the Church be like if it really embraced Franciscan humility, service, and joy?

2.Who was St. Francis besides being a lover of nature, all creatures, and the poor?
St. Francis had a fascinating life.  In the beginning he was a troubadour much like any teenager interested in music, girls, having fun.  After being caught and imprisoned the first day in a crusade against neighboring town of Perugia, Francis began the ask the meaning of life.  He was in a small prison cell for a year.  Afterwards he was ill and resistant to going into his father's clothing business.  He wanted a life that had heart, a life that was true.  He wandered outside the walls of medieval Assisi to nearby mountain tops and a church in ruins. In the simplicity of his days, abundant nature, and his opening heart, he found a peace that was greater than any peace.  God spoke to him in words and in the beauty of nature and life all around him.  The harmony and stillness around Francis touched a place inside of him of perfect harmony and peace.  His heart began opening and continued opening as he found a great source of inner love, generosity, compassion, and joy.  St. Francis is one of the world's greatest mystics as pilgrims of all religions have found as they follow in his footsteps.

3.If Pope Francis was to continue following in the footsteps of St. Francis how would the Church change? What would it look like?
One person, even a Pope, cannot change an entire Church.  But Pope Francis has started by giving himself to the people and showing people that a true leader is here to serve other than being served.  This is the central message of St. Francis of Assisi and the growing message of Pope Francis.  The Church has become too isolated from the needs and hearts of normal people.  Francis is calling everyone to open their minds to find God and to look into their hearts for spiritual meaning. Humility, compassion, and simplicity were the cornerstones of the little church of St. Francis of Assisi.  So, we can only imagine if priests and bishops, brothers and sisters throughout the Church today find similar cornerstones for their lives. We all can only  Imagine Catholics and people of all religions adopting the prayer of St. Francis to become instruments of peace and healing. I like to imagine a great outpouring of heart to the misunderstood, the ill, the poor in our neighborhoods and cities0  This would be St. Francis in our world today.


4. If individual Catholics, people of all religions, or no religion were to invite the heart of St. Francis into their lives what would they experience, what would they feel?
St. Francis spent much of his short life on mountaintops in the silence and beauty of nature.
There he asked to be left alone and undisturbed. As his mind was not so busy with thoughts of this world, he found a well of peace and joy in his heart.  In the small grottos he lived he, we would curl up and be In the grotto of his heart.  There he found simple peace.  The deeper he went inside into the silence he found much light and an indescribable joy.  This light and joy grew as he came down from the mountaintops and began serving the lepers and poor people needing love and food.  Everyone who takes time to listen to the silence of their heart and practices service to others is walking in the footsteps of St. Francis.  This is the path of many simple joys, what Francis called the path of perfect joy!

5. How did you come to become so knowledgeable and intimate with the inner life of these two saints?
Beginning in 1983 I began leading groups from many parts of Europe and America to Assisi.
We meditated in the places of St. Francis and St. Clare and would practice their prayers.  Both Francis and Clare would offer everything in their hearts.  After doing this for some days, people naturally find a silence, a peace inside.  In the inner stillness many of the people in these retreats began having experiences described by Francis and Clare in their writings.
In 1999 we moved full time to Assisi.  For the following twelve years we were more or less in retreat full time.  It was a wonderful period to have so many days and nights, months and years living and being in the peace of Assisi.  During this time we traveled to many parts of Italy where St. Francis discovered more of his soul and the spiritual journey.

6. What attracted you to them?
Like many people, I found religion to be more form then substance, more about rules then about opening the heart and finding a real spiritual path.  Trained as a psychologist, I soon realized we are more then our thoughts and feelings.  There is something more to each of us.
People are not happy unless they have a sincere spiritual life.  St. Francis of Assisi had such a life. It doesn’t matter what we call it but a life without spirituality is superficial and empty.  A life without compassion and service is not fulfilling.  When I discovered St. Francis, I found someone who was all the substance I looked for.  In his humanness, he found God.  This is what I believed.  As we make peace with all our humanness there is something more inside each of us.  As our mind quiets down, we find a profound stillness in our hearts. In the many monasteries, mountaintops, and gardens where St. Francis lived, you can feel this peace.
It is not a matter of belief or imagination, in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi the presence of something greater is very present.

7. Do you think that Pope Francis can bring back the values these two espoused in 
their teachings?
Every time Pope Francis enters the square of St. Peters and gets off his Pope Mobile and mingles with the people, he is expressing the spirit of St. Francis.  Every time he touches the sick and asks us to feed the hungry, St. Francis is present. Most of all, it is in the Pope’s humility as he washes the feet of prisoners or the handicapped he is showing everyone that spirituality is in giving up our self importance and give to one another. As Pope Francis continues this path, hopefully more and more priests and people everywhere will understand
that what is important is not to be understood but that we understand.  What is important is not so much if we feel loved but that we love.  These values turn us as individuals into new people.  These same simple actions can be an example for the Church and everyone who is looking for more meaning and a deeper relationship with life and God.

8. How did you so charmingly capture the voices of Saint Francis and Saint Clare?
After living in Assisi, Italy so long, visiting daily the places where Francis and Clare lived, their presence is so alive, you cannot help but begin to feel how they felt.  You cannot help but hear the words that must have been in their heart. Reading the stories, sitting in the gardens, walking the many trails into the woods, Francis and Clare become very human.
Their hearts are the hearts of everyone in our fears and desires.  Francis and Clare expressed the dreams and hopes we all have but don’t have an opportunity to really feel and express.  We feel very blessed that we could spend so many years living in Italy, having coffee in its squares, wine with the meals, and living with the language and culture which is so much about life, having great heart, and simple joy.

9. This great love found by St. Francis and St. Clare, is it available to people today?
We don’t have to travel to Italy to find the love of Francis and Clare, although it definitely helps!  The secret to their spirituality was their path.  Today there is a saying we need to unplug, disconnect.  This is what Francis and Clare did.  They dropped out and found a great peace living in the beauty of nature and their hearts.  God is not in the rules and ceremony of religion but in our willingness to be open minded and available for love. Francis and Clare were known for their great nakedness, poverty.  This nakedness and poverty is in letting go of our self importance, finding compassion for those we judge, and sitting in the emptiness of our heart and finding a great presence.
10. Who should read this book? And why do you think it is important for people to read it?
The Love Letters was written for lovers!  We are all lovers enjoying and suffering the same disappointments, dreams, and desires for complete union.  St. Francis and St. Clare are two of the world’s most famous lovers although there is no evidence they actually had a physical relationship.  They traveled deeply in the heart.  In this journey they found the challenges and obstacles that all lovers find.  Loneliness and complete union, fear and utter bliss…the path of lovers, mystics of all religions is very much the same.  This book hopes to support the lover, the inner mystic in each of us .  The book hopes to be a support for everyone who travels the inner path including the simple joys and mystery how our small hearts can feel so human and so Divine.

11. Tell us about living in Assisi?
Assisi, Italy is like many of the small hilltop towns in Tuscany and Umbria in the heart of Italy.
What makes Assisi different is St. Francis and St. Clare.  There are so many small chapels and back streets where you are transported into another realm.  There is really no other way to describe it. We have seen very ordinary tourists walking through Assisi who just begin crying.  They don’t know why.  Between their tears they say there is just so much peace here..
Celebrating Easter and Christmas are especially special In Assisi.  To see the processions during Easter Week, to hear all the bells, and feel the energy, the days of Easter are very much alive.   Most people don’t know St. Francis started the idea of a nativity scene some 800 years ago.  Every Christmas there are nativity scenes everywhere, all around the town.  Christmas in Assisi is the real Christmas without all the shopping, rush, and hurry.  Assisi is the town of lots and lots of grace.

12. How do you and your wife Ruth live these values yourself?
Ruth and I now live in the hills near Napa, California. We live and run a retreat center called silent stay.  Most of our days are spent in silence.  Each day with our guests we have an hour of meditation in the morning, meditative movement, and another half hour of meditation in the evening. There are hundreds of beautiful acres around us.  We feel very fortunate supporting others to disconnect from their busy lives and feel the silence.  The peace and quiet of where we are living touches deeply our own inner peace and quiet.  I am writing books and columns for the Huffington Post.  But most of all, I enjoy a simple life of being a contemplative.

13. Has your retreat center, Silent Stay, brought these values to others? Tell us about it.
Many of our guests have never made a retreat before.  This is fun!  At first all the quiet is a bit unsettling. We tell them it is not really about not talking but enjoying peace and quiet.  Their stay is several days of soaking in peace and quiet.  The guests quickly get it and just enjoy.  We offer lots of free time for them to wander, journal, take a nap, make cookies, to be free.  For us, each retreat is all about the heart.  So our guests are encourage to nurture themselves.  We give a simple and clear meditation to practice while they are with us.  Everyone is offering everything they find in their heart. Then each of us are going inside and receiving the gentleness, peace, our own experience of heart essence which is God inside  of us.

14. You are one of the world’s leading experts on silence for spiritual connection and simple peace. How can someone embrace silence with our very busy lives today?
Making friends with silence is not difficult.  We just have to take the step and enjoy it.  The most difficult part of making a retreat for many people is actually getting to the retreat.  Once  they are here, enjoying peace and quiet is easy! People take time off and often suffer the stress and noise of making a vacation.  A silent retreat is a vacation for the heart, simple joys, peace, and quiet.  Our nerves feel much better afterwards.  Taking the steps to get away has many rewards but most of all it is taking a step for ourselves. Underneath our busy mind is a whole realm of heart for us to discover.

15. Tell us about your other books and how they can help people return to this place of simple peace.
My first book was actually the first book about the inner child.  It is called The Magical Child Within You.  This book was a best seller all about not being so serious and remembering our inner child.  Everything we do to touch our heart and the hearts of others is part of this path of remembering our inner child.  My next book was called Monastery Without Walls.  It is all about supporting the inner mystic within us.  We don’t have to join a monastery but we do need to create our own monastery only without walls. There are several books I wrote but one of my favorites is Simple Peace about the inner life of St. Francis of Assisi.  Another book which is about the magical child thirty years later called The Calling of Joy.  It is all about listening to and following our joy as a path to our heart and simple peace.

16. Do believe that The Love Letters will inspire people to see their own path to the peace and joyfulness expressed by Saint Francis and Saint Clare?
The book business has changed much in recent years.  It is very difficult to get a book known since so many bookstores, especially the small ones have closed.  So it is mainly word of mouth that we hope people will share The Love Letters.  Life is too good to not really enjoy..  We hope readers will find the love letters as a friend telling them not to hurry, slow down and smell the beauty.  Sit in the simple peace and practice service in some part of our lives.

17. Are you sending a copy of your book the Pope? What do you hope he will say?
The Pope is a very busy guy.  We don’t know if he would receive a book with all the mail he receives.  We just want to support his big heart, his humility, and all he is doing to remind the world to judge less and love more. Who would have ever thought, the Church with all its problems would get a Pope like Pope Francis?  Who would ever have thought that St. Francis, his life and prayer would come so front and center and challenge the world?

18. What thoughts would you like readers to take away from The Love Letters?
We hope that readers of The Love Letters will walk away feeling they are not alone on this inner way, this path of heart.  People write us and tell us they are reading the letters a day at a time for a daily meditation.  We hope the great love of St. Francis and St. Clare will inspire us all to spend more time in the silence of our heart, to hug more, and have fun. Life is precious.  We pray for the day when all churches open their doors to everyone and embrace the heart in each of us. May The Love Letters spread until we are all writing our own love letters to God, one another, to especially those who are challenged in difficult and challenging times.

19. Your book is really about the inner steps of mystics of all religions. Tell us about these steps?
The first Christians went out into the desert to find Christ.  We each are called to disconnect and spend sometime in the desert.  What we will find is that the emptiness we fear is actually a vastness, a big space which includes the presence of God. As we take the time to explore this presence in our hearts we discover it grows and grows reaching without end for the planets and stars.  This is the mystic’s way for pilgrims in all religions.  There is so much for us to explore in the caves and gardens, rivers and ocean of our hearts. It all begins by taking sometime for retreat and receiving deeply the heart essence underneath our normally busy mind.

20. How can someone find this inner peace in our busy world and hectic schedules today?
Practicing not being in a hurry is a spiritual practice.  Finding simple joys is a spiritual path.
Finding some compassion for difficult people, some generosity when we feel little all are things we can do in our normal busy lives.  Feeding our hearts and the hearts of others is not in the big things we do but in the small moments of being present, available, receiving and offering ourselves.  Meditation, even if it is just for a few minutes upon rising or going to sleep is a big gift for our soul.  A few minutes of a quiet mind supports something deeper within us.  A few minutes of conscious outer stillness can touch the inner quiet which is in each of us.  It is all a matter of priorities, intention.  If our intention is for more inner peace we will discover it in the elevator, car, and in the midst of the noisy parts of life.  Inner peace is our true nature.

21. Is there an inner mystic in everyone or is the calling just for a few?
If we follow only the news we would think the spiritual path is for only a very few.  The problem is that everyone who is following their inner mystic, the simple steps of the heart, we do not make the news.  There are so many truly mystical people in all parts of the world quietly leading their heart full lives.  We must be walking slow enough, open enough, present enough to notice.  As we slow down, we will see hearts smiling in all kinds of people, lots of people everywhere.

22. Do you think Pope Francis will succeed? Can he really heal a problem Church?
In many ways Pope Francis has already succeeded.  The Church is changed.  In Pope Francis way of being, his wanting to serve instead of being served the Church is changed.  Maybe he won’t be able to make all the changes necessary.   But in showing his heart, his humility, and desire to touch the poor, the Spirit of St. Francis is very much alive and will continue growing.

23. What is your vision of the Church were it to be truly well, serving, and lifting hearts?
My vision for a true Church will be a time when people are taught to find their inner Church, their inner temple and cathedral of God.  Finding God in our lives is not complicated.  In simplicity of time in silence of the heart, beauty of nature and one another, and giving to those most in need, God is very present.  I pray for the day when religion is less about talking and judging and more about hugging and serving.  The is a great silence in the heart of everyone.  In this silence is a perfect peace and path for each of us to follow.  Everyone has gifts which express their heart.  I imagine the prayer of St. Francis becoming alive for many as we become instruments of healing including lots of fun, dancing, humor, and life!  Yes, lets all become instruments of much life, perfect joy!


 
Bloggers Interview
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Friday, 11 April 2014

Interview with Kyle Hawkins

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself, your blog/website, and your aspirations and your hobbies!!

My blog is nomadicministry.com.  I have been a ordained minister for the last two years and did not have a pulpit to preach from so I created an online ministry.  It is really just a place for me to write about God and hopefully one day will become a community.  My aspirations are to continue to grow my ministry website and start a travel website over the next two years.  Hobbies include reading, writing, learning new languages, and traveling.
2. How you first got involved in with blogging/writing, are you an imaginative person?
I consider myself a very imaginative person.  I am always thinking of new topics or trying to wrap my head around another idea.  I have always had a knack for writing so I thought I would give it a shot and see if I could get a site off the ground.  I never realized it would go so well.
3. What do you find most challenging about blogging/writing about your topic?
The thing that I find most challenging about writing with regards to religion is the backlash that comes from members of the community.  With regards to religion no two people always have the same belief and more often than not will tell you just why your belief is wrong and their belief is right.  
4. Tell me about some of the people you have met while working on your blog?
I have not meant anyone personally yet, but I have had conversations with people across the globe.  I have talked to people from the Middle East, India, Asia, and all up and down the Americas.  
5. How would (someone) describe your blogging/writing style?
Orderly chaos.  I tend to try to write a week’s worth of posts in one sitting.  Usually I have just a general idea of what I want to write and go to work.  I have been studying Christianity and religion as a whole for the last 10+ years so I tend to write very quickly.  I try to make it as conversational as possible to encourage dialogue for those who read it.  
6. What do you do when you are not working on your blog?
Right now I am looking into starting a book, creating more websites, and learning as many languages as possible.  I am trying to do things that will leave a mark on this world after I am done.  
7 .Where do you see yourself blogging/writing wise in the next 6 months, and 5 years down the road?
In 6 months I can see Nomadic still being my main focus as I create the code for the new website.  5 years down the road I hope to be traveling full time with Nomadic and the travel website allowing me enough income to continue with that lifestyle indefinitely.
8. What networking do you do that you feel helps your blogging/writing business?
I try to connect with as many people I can in as many ways as I can.  I use  social media and reddit to try to meet new people and bring them into the fold.  Reddit has been my main source of this so far and drives my traffic up more than anything at the present.  I also have begun to bring in people I know personally and ask for their help in making the ministry grow.
9. How do you keep coming up with material/content for your blog? Many people struggle with coming up with different articles/posts and they only have one blog.
Truthfully, I have a notebook with enough topics to last me for the next two and a half years already.  I have been thinking of this stuff since I graduated college so there is quite a backlog of things I want to talk about.  I also get more ideas from books, articles, and current world news.  
10. What’s your strategy with your blog in general?
The strategy for my blog is to spread the love of Christ without judgment to the four corners of the world.  Anything else that happens with the blog is just more blessings.
11. Any specific tips you have for newbie bloggers who want to make it in the blogosphere?
Do not give up.  My first few months I had just over 1000 visitors and I understand it can get frustrating.  Keep going and remember you are writing because you love something not because it is going to get you noticed.
12. What would you prioritize? Content? SEO? Traffic? Readers?
Content above all else.  Without great content no one will care to visit your blog.  
13. What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his readers?
The greatest thing that I can give someone is hope.  It may be specific to my blog, but with every article I write I hope someone gets something that makes their life a little better.
14. A lot of people are interested in blogging/writing for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging/writing? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?
I have not monetized my blog yet, but the advice I would give is not to expect to get rich quick.  I have a decent following and I know if I tried ad revenue I would still be making very little.  Blog because it is something that you are passionate about and if it takes off then worry about the other stuff later.
15. What motivates you most in life?
Love of God, love of my wife, love of my family, and love of all people.  Those four things make it really easy to live in this world and try to do good at all times.
16. What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your blog?
I have tried everything.  I have looked up tips online, tried every social media outlet, tried throwing my link every place I can find, and everything in between.  The best thing though that has got me noticed is writing content that actually appeals to the reader.
17 What was the most challenging moment in your blog content development process and why?
Actually putting up the website.  I had just recently lost my job and the money that it would cost to get the domain name and set up the site was a lot for someone who had just lost his source of income, but thankfully my wife told me that it was in God’s hands and I gave it a shot.
18. Everyone has a favorite/least favorite post. Name yours and why?
Favorite Post-Why Christians are Fanning the Flames-It really brought up a lot of good conversation and allowed me to write on something that was a little more controversial.
Least Favorite-Any of my first posts-Just looking back on how I used to write 7 months ago makes me cringe.
19. Name some of the bloggers whom you look up to and why?
I do not really think anyone looks up to me yet, but I hope that I have influenced someone’s life.
20. What is the story behind the name of the blog?
I live the idea of traveling and making your mark on the world as a whole.   The nomadic came because I hope to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
21. Your connection with any Blogger Networks or any other and the experience?
No current connections with any bloggers networks.
22. Which genre do you feel gets the raw deal?
Honestly, I feel ministry and religion as a whole is nearly neglected in the blogosphere.  There is infinite room out there to spread the Gospel, but many people still believe you need a brick and mortar church to teach one another.  
23. Which one plug-in would you suggest all bloggers to have?
So far I would say Askimet, because without it I would have had a lot more spam comments to work through.
24. Five adjectives that describe you.
Compassionate, Tempered, Honest, Wise, Friendly
25. What book would you say has made the biggest impact good or bad on you?
The Bible bar none.  Without it I would not be the man I am today nor have the beliefs to change the world.
26. Do you get easily provoked by positive/negative comments??
I try not to but honestly from time to time someone will get under my skin and I will retaliate albeit never with pointless jabs or comments I try to come out of every argument in a dignified manner.
27. Do you plan to write a book, as every bloggers dream it is?
I do plan on writing a couple of books in my lifetime.  The first one that I plan on starting in the near future is based on the differences between Paul’s Christianity and Jesus’ Christianity and how we need to get back to the latter.
28. Are you a judgmental person, do you prefer to take sides instead of standing neutral?
Without taking a side for something we end up standing for nothing.  I am not judgmental, but I stand on the truths and the beliefs that I have without fail, but am willing to listen to any argument.  
29. Your collaboration with other bloggers, are you much into social networking, tell us everything about it?
The only current collaboration I have is through Reddit.  I try to keep up with social networks but that part of my blog is moving a little slower than others.  
30. What genre attracts you the most and which genre you avoid?
I tend to read a lot about the religion genre as well as lifehacking, reading, and world events.  I try to avoid anything that seems to be a flash in the pan or a passing fad and look for things that are beneficial to myself and those around me.
31. Your Views on Contests and increasing plagiarism?
I have not ran a contest yet, but I believe that they are a great way to drive traffic to a blog or website.  Plagiarism has been around for many years and we must be vigilant to combat it so that those who truly are behind the work get the credit they rightly deserve.
32. Words for me and my blogs Desire v/s Destiny and Blogger Interviews and my Website www.MyMagicJobs.com
Love all of your websites and think you have a great niche doing blogger interviews.
33. On winning the Award/s, Are they really necessary.
I would say no, but if I was given an award I would be excited.  They are not necessary though.  We do not write for accolades nor recognition, but to be able to have a voice about our passions, beliefs, and hobbies.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Interview with Aayesha Hakim | Young Blogger Interviews


1. Can you tell us a little about yourself , your blog(s)/website(s),and your aspirations and your hobbies!!

Hmm.. About myself, to begin with I am a true Scorpio! You can match with most of the qualities and traits. I'm an optimist and an outspoken person. I don’t hesitate to call a spade a spade!
I hate unwanted attention. I hate being the talker, I prefer listening more. I am an obsessed reader and writer. I love to write Romance and inspiring stuff. I am an engineer by profession, chronic thinker and a forever child! I love to shop!
My blog- The Inspirational Romance Writer ;) is my journey of self discovery, a symbol of chasing my passion for writing - my madness, an attempt to be a part of the 'Write-A-Thon'. Here, I dabble mostly in Romance, Poetry and Shayari (mere attempts) and trending topics (venturing out of my comfort zone) with a dash of personal views, social issues that bother me and trivial babbles occasionally.
2. How you first got involved in with blogging/writing, are you an imaginative person?
Initially I poured out my thoughts in Facebook ‘Notes’ section. They got appreciated then. But I wasn’t aware of a medium called ‘blog’ still. Then there was a contest from Hundred Works and my friend Rafaa Dalvi asked me to join in! The criteria of the contest was one should have a blog! Hence, I created one!
Imaginative person? Yes, in many ways. Imagination is the health of a person. I do not stick to old tried methods to solve my problems; I am always trying something new. Even with writing, if you give me a blank computer screen, I would still use my imagination and type something down! When you’re a non linear thinker, you are often surprised where your mind takes you! This helps mainly in narration and storytelling. 

3. Now tell us about the win at Conclave contest
Ah! I wasn’t even going to write for that one, thanks to my hectic college life! The entry I wrote was written in haste during my train travel. But I was glad it won, it was my first win, so it will always remain special and big. Winning a 100K entry pass for the event was lovely!

4. What do you find most challenging about blogging/writing about your topic?My topic was romance. So it isn’t really very difficult to write on, just get into the mood and the words flow in! But what you never think happens and it leads you somewhere good. I started writing for contests just to venture out of my comfort zone. I wrote poems, haiku, even book reviews! So getting to be versatile now!

5. Tell me about some of the people you have met while working on your blog?I met many people in the journey and many more to come, I am sure. I have a new category of friends now – blogger friends! I already knew Rafaa Dalvi, who plays a big role in my blogging. He introduced me to this world. And then the rest was history.

What I like about blogging is, there are lovely people here. Who are writers like you; but they are always there to appreciate you. This happy environment further boosts you. I met Karan Sampat, Grishma Balani, Stephen Ak, Namrota Mazumdar, Vaisakhi Mishra, Deepti Verma, Karan Shah, Rahul Ashok, Renu Sethi. Others who I haven’t met but still inspire me are Anita, Nabanita, Richa, Bhavya Kaushik.
6. How would (someone) describe your blogging/writing style?
A blog full of romantic posts! Inspiring writing style, focusing on social issue - articulate, crisp! Sometimes, chatty and conversational. Punchy, rhetorical occasionally! ;)

7.a) What do you do when you are not working on your blog?I am a Masters student! So I have a hectic life and college takes up most of the time. With whatever time I am left with after my student life, I blog, I read!

7 .b)Where do you see yourself blogging/writing wise in the next 6 months, and 5 years down the road?
In the next 6 months, I will be writing posts on my blogs, about whatever amazes me. Whatever you start has a purpose, so this shall take me somewhere. I am already getting noticed, and who knows by 2-3 years I would have my book ready to get published *winks* My writing would be more mature down the line!
8. What networking do you do that you feel helps your blogging/writing business?
I am not much into this. I share my posts on blogging forums like Indiblogger or Blogadda, networking sites like Twitter, Facebook , Google+, and I do send the links to some of my readers on Whatsapp. Yes! I have created a page of my blog on Facebook! So that garners a few more readers and hence more traffic.

9. How do you keep coming up with material/content for your blog? Many people struggle with coming up with different articles/posts and they only have one blog.Yes. This is difficult. But when you are reading you do come up with things you can share your thoughts on! Be it newspapers, social issues, etc. As said earlier, I write for contests too, so that adds to my posts. I also took up Ultimate Blogging Challenge (UBC) for the month of January. That was a big challenge, as days passed, mid-way I suffered from Writers Block, but eventually I managed it well!

10. Whats your strategy with your blog in general?I write what I like, share links, people read, I have got 25+ page views in less than a year. I think it’s going good! Focus on the content, make it useful and unique. No strategy as such.
11. Any specific tips you have for newbie bloggers who want to make it in the blogosphere?
First read what you write. Then share. If you’re taking up ideas from somewhere, do cite, else its plagiarism. Avoid grammar mistakes and using short forms. e.g ‘U’ instead of ‘you’. This can be irritating. So much so that readers might never be back on your site! Find your voice. Follow your passion.

12. What would you prioritize? Content? SEO? Traffic? Readers?Content and readers for sure! If there are readers, there will be traffic. Write what can please people to visit you.

13. Whats the best thing a blogger can give to his readers?Honesty and motivation. Don’t try to trick your readers and just be yourself.
14. A lot of people are interested in blogging/writing for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging/writing? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?
I personally, do not look forward to money earning from my blog, it is something I like doing, and will keep doing, without the temptation of drawing money out of it and commercializing it. I think it’s too greedy on a person’s part! 


But for those who wish to do, their content needs to be extremely sticking to a particular stream, have a customizable theme, boost your traffic, know more about SEO tips, put up ads, request donations, etc.


15. What motivates you most in life?
My vision for my goals, desire to grow, explore and learn new things– motivate me, push me!

16. What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your blog?
I am bad at it, and honestly I don’t bother much. I share my posts on blogging forums like Indiblogger or Blogadda, networking sites like Twitter, Facebook , Google+, and I do send the links to some of my readers on Whatsapp. Otherwise nothing special as such. Yes! I have created a page of my blog on Facebook too! So that garners a few more readers and hence more traffic.

17 What was the most challenging moment in your blog content development process and why?
It was through UBC, I realized my potentials; a post a daily. It was hectic, but somehow when there’s a will to not give up, you eventually don’t and you find a way! I wrote on vivid topics during that phase, it was the most developing phase as a writer, I am glad it took it up!

18. Everyone has a favorite/least favorite post. Name yours and why?


Favorite post #1 : http://aayesha1611.blogspot.com/2014/02/winning-mindset.html (Because it was my first win at Conclave 2014)

Favorite post #2 : http://aayesha1611.blogspot.com/2013/10/within-marriage-romance-can-truly-abound.html (I got an offer from PGI (Platinum Guild India) for this post. My personal favorite)

19. Name some of the bloggers whom you look up to and why?

Rafaa Dalvi – he is an awesome person and truly motivates me.
Bhavya Kaushik – I love his writing style. 
Anita – on the vivid topics she writes on!
Karan Sampat – he is a great friend and has done a lot while he is just 17, inspiring indeed!

20. What is the story behind the name of the blog?
Actually, it was chosen in quite a hurry, like I cited I needed a blog to participate in a contest, I didn’t know then that the name plays a very important role in your identity as a blogger. But eventually I am happy with the way it has turned out. 114 posts in 10 months!
21. Your connection with any Blogger Network like Indi blogger or Writeupcafe or any other and the experience?
Yes I am connected with Indiblogger, Writeupcafe, Blogadda, Write tribe. Simply love their contests, prompts, meets, the kind of exposure they give to my blog and of course their book review programs!

22. Which genre do you feel gets the raw deal?
Well, I think crime and mystery. 
23. Which one plug-in would you suggest all bloggers to have?
Floating Social Bar: Floating social bar is the fastest social media plugin that adds a horizontal floating share bar to your content. It is easy to use with its drag-drop interface, and its eye-catching floating display allows you to maximize your social shares.

24. Five adjectives that describe you.
Responsible, diligent, self-driven, outspoken, mysterious!

25. What book would you say has made the biggest impact good or bad on you?
I loved Ravinder Singh’s ‘I too had a love story.’ It was very touching.

26. Do you get easily provoked by positive/negative comments??
No to both; I am well grounded, so I don’t react to any of them, unless I am satisfied about it being truly right/wrong myself. I don’t want my writing to be controlled by anyone’s views too. 

27. Do you plan to write a book, as every bloggers dream it is?
Yes, I am on my way. But there’s loads to be completed yet. But yes, plans are on. Let’s hope for something soon. 

28. Are you a judgmental person, do you prefer to take sides instead of standing neutral?
I don’t mind standing for what is right, even if I am standing alone then. 

29. Your collaboration with other bloggers, are you much into social networking, tell us everything about it?
Not really. I do interact with co-bloggers, had a guest post too by Karan Sampat. But otherwise, I write what I like and for now, I am happy that it is being appreciated, though now my focus is shifting to getting published. 

30. What genre attracts you the most and which genre you avoid?
I love writing romance, hence my blog name! :D
I avoid writing crime and comedy, they are the toughest ones, I feel. 

31. Your Views on Contests and increasing plagiarism?
I love contests! They keep me on my toes and keep you alive in the competition. And not always about competition, they even help me to explore and expand my horizon about many topics I would never have thought about if it wasn’t for the contests! 

I am strictly against plagiarism. It will always remain cheating, if you don’t quote it in your article. It is an ethical offence.
32. Words for me and my blogs Desire v/s Destiny and Blogger Interviews and my Website www.MyMagicJobs.com
You’re doing a great job, Rahul! I am going to follow your blog regularly now! It’s a great website – all under one roof, all for free! Tips and career options are well explained. Keep writing!
33. On winning the Award/s , Are they Really necessary.
I have won 3 Liebster awards and 1 versatile blogger award. These aren’t really necessary but who doesn’t like being appreciated and honored? Yes, these are virtual; you need to be grounded and not let it reach your head. 
34. So whats Next in your list?
There’s loads on my list! I have to finish my book, get it published, want it to be a National bestseller, travel the world! Also I wish to explore the art of blogging more. 

35.Words for your readers and why they should follow you?
Live your passion, find your voice, raise it!
I don’t and I can’t push people to follow my blog, but yes, if you want to see honesty and if you connect to my blog, keep coming back! J

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Interview with Victoria Heckstall : Young Work at Home Mom

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself, your blog(s)/website(s), and your aspirations and your hobbies!!

I am Victoria Heckstall. I have been working online and blogging since 2011. I started off with one blog, “Young Work at Home Moms”, and in 2012 I started a review blog, “Giveaways 4 Mom”. In the beginning of 2014 I published my first eBook, althoug
h I have been an author in some others. During my spare time I am a full time mom outside of work and I enjoy going to different places with my children. I have a goal of being able to make six digits a year solely through my online endeavors. 

2. How you first got involved in with blogging/writing, are you an imaginative person?
I actually just jumped into writing and blogging back in 2011 when I moved from FL to VA and was 5 months pregnant and no one wanted to hire me. I researched work at home jobs and started landing clients on forums such as WAHM.com, and Digital Point. The rest is kind of history. I have been working online and blogging since the day I started – it took me three months to make a full time income – and I have not looked back at brick and mortar jobs since.

3. What do you find most challenging about blogging/writing about your topic?
Since I write full time and blog full time the most challenging part is finding the time to do both. I have deadlines for some of the posts that I post on my Giveaway blog, since I work with companies, and I have deadlines for my writing clients. Managing my time wisely is something that can be very challenging at times. I never run out of things to write about it is just finding the time to get them drafted.

4. Tell me about some of the people you have met while working on your blog?Being the owner of two blogs I have met a lot of people. My work at home mom blog has allowed me to meet people online such as Carol Tice and other influential freelance writers. My Giveaway Blog has allowed me to work with a lot of brands such as Busch Gardens.

5. How would (someone) describe your blogging/writing style?My writing style is described as “real” when I blog. On both of my blogs I share photos and things from my personal life to let my readers know that I am a real person who can relate to them.

6. What do you do when you are not working on your blog
?
When I am not working on my blog usually I am spending time with my family, writing for writing clients, marketing for new clients, or interacting on social media. 

7 .Where do you see yourself blogging/writing wise in the next 6 months, and 5 years down the road?

In the next six months I hope to have my work at home blog back ranking since it was hit by Google recently and my Giveaway blog more well know. In five years, I hope to have a decent amount of traffic coming to my sites and to be considered a go to site in my niche. Regarding my writing career, I hope to be able to be pickier with the work that I accept. In addition, to being able to work less hours and make more money.



7. What networking do you do that you feel helps your blogging/writing business?

I am always marketing and networking on various social media sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to always make sure that I am in the loop. Additionally, I have a few Google Alerts in place to insure that I can interact with people who post content that is relevant to me. Lastly, I have a few forums that I stop by in addition to joining at least one link up a day to stay connected with others in my niche.



8. How do you keep coming up with material/content for your blog? Many people struggle with coming up with different articles/posts and they only have one blog.

Both of my niches – working online & product reviews/giveaways – always have something that need to be discussed. I will admit that I have let my work at home blog go a little bit. But, my Giveaway blog is always updated at least once a day. Blogging is one of my passions and it helps me escape from everyday life and interact with others. So, when blogging is something that you enjoy doing you will never have to worry about what you want to say.



9. Whats your strategy with your blog in general?

I schedule out posts on my Giveaway blog to insure that something will post everyday even if I do not have time to blog. My work at home blog I usually try to post something once a week.



10. Any specific tips you have for newbie bloggers who want to make it in the blogosphere?

New bloggers have to make sure that they are starting to blog because it is a passion and they are not just after the money that can come with it. If you are just after the money you will find that blogging seems to be more of a headache and you will more than likely have a blog that does not even make it for a year.



11. What would you prioritize? Content? SEO? Traffic? Readers?

My content and readers are my priority. I aim to write good content that my readers can benefit from. I actually do nothing SEO wise at all. However, I must be doing something right since my Giveaway blog is ranking for certain keywords and has an Alexa under 70,000.



12. What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his readers?

The best thing that a blogger can give to their readers is high quality content that comes from a real person.



13. A lot of people are interested in blogging/writing for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging/writing? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?

Honestly, when I first started blogging I had no clue that I could make money doing so. I started my work at home blog to connect with other people who worked from home as well as track my progress. When I learned about making money blogging I started my Giveaway blog. However, on my best month I have only made about $200 – unless you include the value of all of the products that I have received.

In my opinion before you start aiming to make money off your blog you need to have been blogging for at least six months. I would say avoid advertisements as they annoy readers and stay away from shading people who want to advertise in general. Even when making money off of your blog you should always have your reader’s best interest in mind. Besides, without them you would not have a blog.



14. What motivates you most in life?

My children motivate me the most in life. I aim to show them that you can succeed at anything as long as you put your mind to it.



15. What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your blog?

I am a member of various Facebook groups for bloggers, which allows me to reach larger audiences than my own.



17 What was the most challenging moment in your blog content development process and why?

My most challenging moment is promoting and photos. I never seem to have the time to promote like I want to and I am always constantly working on improving my images so they would be ideal for Pinterest and Instagram.

18. Everyone has a favorite/least favorite post. Name yours and why?
This is my favorite blog post because it was my first time attending a mom event. I was so excited that I wrote it the moment that I got home from the event. This is my least favorite blog post because it was one of my earlier reviews and it shows just how much I did not know what I was doing. 

19. Name some of the bloggers whom you look up to and why?
The main blogger I look up to is Carol Tice. Not only does she blog but she writes too. She is amazing at both, manages her time wisely, and always writes blog posts that get people’s attention. 
20. What is the story behind the name of the blog?
Young Work at Home Moms originated because at the time I was 20 – a young mom – and I worked from home. Giveaways 4 Mom has its name because Giveaways for mom was not available and I wanted a site where I focused on providing moms with giveaways. 
21. Your connection with any Blogger Network like Indi blogger or Writeupcafe or any other and the experience?
I connect with some blogging groups for moms such as Mom Central and I am a member of The Freelance Writers Den.


22. Which genre do you feel gets the raw deal?
I only have experience with my two niches but I both think of them as equally the same.
23. Which one plug-in would you suggest all bloggers to have?
Disclosure picker to insure FTC guidelines are followed. 


24. Five adjectives that describe you.
Smart, strong, determined, spontaneous, and dedicated

25. What book would you say has made the biggest impact good or bad on you?I haven’t read a lot of books related to my industry. The ones that I have read did not provide me with much value.
26. Do you get easily provoked by positive/negative comments??
I enjoy receiving comments from my readers both positive and negative. I approve both on my blog. It just lets me know what I am doing right and what I need to improve. 

27. Do you plan to write a book, as every bloggers dream it is?
I have published my first eBook, working on my second, and I plan to do a hard copy book within the next three or four years. 


28. Are you a judgmental person, do you prefer to take sides instead of standing neutral?
I consider myself to be more of a neutral person.
29. Your collaboration with other bloggers, are you much into social networking, tell us everything about it?
I am very much into collaborating with other bloggers. I love social media and I interact every single day. Sometimes I have to limit myself from social media because I could literally spend all day up there interacting with my network.
30. What genre attracts you the most and which genre you avoid?
I enjoy the work at home industry, I would definitely avoid the health industry though. 


31. Your Views on Contests and increasing plagiarism?
I run contests on my blog all of the time. If multiple people are posting the same thing I always no index and no follow my posts. However, for my own contests I do not have to do so since I am the only one who is promoting the contest. 

33. On winning the Award/s , Are they Really necessary.
I don’t think they are necessary. However, it does feel good to win them. I was one of the top 50 review blogs in 2013 and I was thrilled when I received the email.


34. So whats Next in your list?

I plan to continue working online, blogging, and working on my books. Maybe by the end of the year I will even start another blog. 

35.Words for your readers and why they should follow you?
You should follow me if you want to be up to date with what goes on in the work at home industry, see real user experiences before purchasing products, and enter some amazing giveaways.
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