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Friday, May 27, 2016

Meet Ross Lang, Owner of Cobb Pawn & Gold in Marietta GA

Ross Lang is the owner of Cobb Pawn & Gold in Marietta, Georgia, a family owned shop that has been in business for over 30 years.

1. How long have you been in business?

Cobb Pawn and Gold is a family owned and operated business established in 1982 as an alternative to a typical pawn shop in Marietta, GA with more the look and feel of a fine jewelry store, including the personal service you would expect. We specialize in low interest loans on diamonds, jewelry, watches, and other valuable assets. We also offer loans on boats, PWC's, heavy equipment, and more, all stored on our secured lot.

2. Why should you get a loan at Cobb Pawn & Gold vs a typical pawn shop?

We are a family owned and operated business. With over 30 years experience in the jewelry business, we have the expertise to assess and offer you the true value of your fine jewelry at interest rates a fraction of that of a typical pawn shop. Unlike most of our competition, our mission is not to acquire your treasured possessions and flip them for a one time quick profit; our goal is to have a long-term personal relationship with you. Many of our first time loan customers become some of our best retail customers, returning every holiday or birthday year after year for that special item and the same quality of service and respect they received the first time they walked in our door.

3. What is the most unusual item brought into your store?

It's hard to come up with just one item out of the thousands of loans over the last 30 plus years, but the first thing that comes to mind is a 1966 Pontiac GTO Tri-power with factory original paint. We've had the car a couple of times. The customer owns a small seasonal business of his own and has used it as collateral to purchase additional inventory when needed.

4. Is there really such a thing as win-win with pawn shops?

Yes. We recently had a customer that had a pawn loan with a local competitor on a civil war-era rifle that had been in his family for generations. He's retired on a fixed income and was caught in a dead end loan that he could never afford to pay out; he only pay the monthly fees and the pawn shop he was at would not accept any principal payments. We paid out the loan and wrote him a new loan at half the interest rate he was paying. The discount in the rate left him enough cash to pay on the principal every month, and he was able to get his rifle back in a few months.

5. You have fantastic reviews online. Why do your customers keep coming back?

Being a family ran business, we offer superior customer service at the best rates in the industry; it's that simple! Our loan process is fast, easy, and private. All your transactions with Cobb Pawn and Gold will be kept confidential by us. In addition, all your jewelry collateral, while in our possession, will be fully insured, secure and kept off premise in a bank vault. That's why Cobb Pawn and Gold's growing customer base and our reputation of discretion and professionalism have attracted some well-known local athletes, executives, entertainers, small business owners, and prosperous locals who need quick cash. We are well-known in the industry and purchase fine jewelry and Swiss watches all over the southeast from pawn shops and jewelry dealers.

Thanks, Ross!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Meet Ali Larsen, Author

Ali Larsen is a self-published author. She writes mostly about life, love, and the relationship between the two. Visit her website at www.NeverSigningOff.com

1. Have you always been interested in writing, or did your desire to write develop over time?

I've always had some interest in writing, for as long as I can remember. When I was little kid, I wrote poetry and works of fiction. My book Stand By Me was actually written over the span of 10 years. But, as I grew older and wiser, I started writing based on personal experiences. My commitment to writing definitely developed over time.

2. I noticed that you publish in PDF format and sell your own books on your website. Why do you publish and distribute independently instead of through big retailers?

I actually considered trying to get my work published, but I wanted to try selling it all myself first. I figured having it up myself was a good way to gauge if anyone would actually purchase my writing. I chose the PDF format because I see it as a very universal file type that anyone would be able to view.

3. As someone who writes both poetry and prose, how do you decide which genre is the best for the ideas you want to express?

My writing sort of chooses me. Whenever I have an idea, it usually comes to me formed already. I'll think of a couple rhyming sentences, and then I'll write a poem. Or I'll think of a couple lines and know it would work as prose instead. The real challenge is deciding between prose and articles. For that I just see what sounds better at the end. Then I make whatever changes I need to.

4. Who are some authors, artists, musicians, or other people who inspire you creatively?

I would say one of my biggest inspiration is Gerard Way (formerly of My Chemical Romance). He always had an attitude that said "it's okay to be a little messed up." I've always felt different, so his message really stood out to me. But my biggest inspiration is the author Christopher Gutierrez. He made an entire career out of telling stories about his life. They aren't even well written, but it's because he always delivers powerful messages with them. He's an amazing author. Every time I feel like my writing isn't very good, he reminds me that it doesn't have to be. It just has to have a whole lot of heart.

5. What projects are you currently working on?

I'm currently working on two novels. One is a sort of autobiography about the places I've been and the people I've known. The other is about the challenge of living with a mental disability. I was diagnosed as bipolar when I was teenager. It's been rough journey into adulthood. Obviously, it affects personal relationships, keeping a job, and everything else. I want the message of the book to be that it's okay to be a little messed up.

Thanks, Ali!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Meet Jeffery Craig, Author

Jeffery Craig is the author of the Reightman & Bailey Series. He's released two mysteries in the series so far, with a third book soon to appear. Jeffery lives in South Carolina and runs a local art and gift gallery with his husband. Learn more about Jeffery's work by visiting JefferyCraigBooks.com/, as well as his author page on Amazon.

1. How did you come up with the idea for your new mystery series, and did you have any issues writing it?

I've been thinking about this series for several years, and I've jotted down notes every time a new idea popped into my mind. I never did anything with those ideas. One evening, a friend pressed me to go ahead and start writing, and the next morning I sat down and wrote the prologue and the first chapter. I had a strong sense of the main character already, and the murder kind of wrote itself! The hard part was solving that murder and bringing the environment and the characters to life while doing so. There was a lot going on politically and socially in this part of the United States that provided some good fodder--I guess it was perfect timing.

When I started writing, my worry was I wouldn't be able to find enough words, but the opposite turned out to be true. In the space of about six weeks, I had over 700 pages, and suddenly I had two books to wrangle instead of one. After a lot of editing and re-writing, Done Rubbed Out and Hard Job were born, and the next few books of the series were outlined.

2. Your two protagonists seem like an interesting and unlikely pair. Would you tell us more about them?

Both of the protagonists are pretty complex. Toby Bailey is a young gay man who has opened his dream business--a high-end spa. He was raised in a small southern town, and in many ways, he's pretty naïve. When he finds his business partner (and former lover) naked and dead on a massage table, his whole world is turned upside down. Not only does he have to deal with a very personal loss, but that loss happens in a horrific way. On top of that, he's a prime suspect and isn't sure what to do.

Melba Reightman is the lead homicide detective on the case, and the senior detective in the city police department. She came up the ranks the hard way and learned to deal with the good 'ol boy network in a southern city and everything that represents. She's tough, smart, and capable. Her last few years have been rough; she divorced her cheating husband, her daughter has left home, and frankly, her job isn't providing much personal satisfaction. She doesn't have many friends. She's also grumpy, short-tempered, and experiencing the onset of menopause. She's seen it all, and her view of life is cynical and more than a little sarcastic. She also had a fixation on her large, overstuffed purse... it's a security blanket of sorts.

The differences between the two provide a lot of good tension, and when combined with the rest of the vivid characters, gives the series a lot of depth.

3. What are some of the unique challenges of writing in the mystery genre?

I think the most obvious challenge is that of leaving a trail of clues that lead the reader the direction you want them to go, without being too obvious or pointing toward the murderer too quickly. I would write about 60-70 pages and then go back to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I reworked that aspect a lot. The clues had to be laid out in a realistic manner. I didn't want there to be any "ah ha!" moments until the very end. In this series, the crimes serve a dual purpose. They move the story along, but also provide the framework for character growth and evolution. I guess the best way to think about it is to realize this isn't just a simple set of mysteries, but is an ongoing picture of how people and events we encounter throughout life change us in unexpected ways.

4. Why did you decide to self-publish your books?

That's a great question! I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of people that have made and are making a career for themselves writing fiction. I learned the publishing world has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, and is expected to change more rapidly in the next 10. Even in the traditional publishing world, the expectations are very different now. I was under the assumption your agent and publisher took care of everything once the book was written and acquired. I learned that's just not the case anymore. Unless they're fortunate enough to be picked up by one of the big three or four publishers, a new, unknown author has to write a good book, have it edited, and have at least a concept if not a full design for the cover, and is expected to do a lot of the PR and marketing. But all of these things have to be done against a slow timeline that the author doesn't have much influence over.

As an indie author, I do all of the same things, but I'm in control (for good or for bad) of most of the process. The biggest challenge is learning as you go, and I have made some spectacular mistakes. Thankfully, there are so many great tools out there now, and terrific forums and groups that are willing to share the things they have learned. These folks--along with new ways of buying books--have totally sparked a new revolution, and it's fun and exciting to be a part of the indie movement. Seeing how things have changed, and experiencing and dedication of the people following the same path, is what ultimately decided me.

5. How do you find the time to write and keep up with your day job of running an art gallery/shop?

I'm one of the co-owners of the gallery, and focus on specific parts of the business. I don't have to be there every day, except for certain times of the year when every hand is needed. I'm fortunate that I'm able to divide my focus and can plan my time. The more difficult thing to do is to find time to write a new book while trying to promote the finished books. I have to really be ruthless with my time and set certain days and hours aside to complete each task. It helps to have deadlines! I book my editor in advance and know I have to have a finished manuscript into her hands by the date agreed or life will be unpleasant! At the end of the day, I really try to focus on telling the best story I can, with messages and themes that are important to me and that--hopefully--resonate with others. Getting that story into the hands of a reader is the best feeling ever.

Thanks, Jeffery!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Meet Troy Conrad, Filmmaker and Photographer

Troy Conrad is an award-winning filmmaker and the creator/co-producer of improvised stand-up show Set List: Stand-Up Without A Net. He has photographed comedy in seven countries, and his images for the upcoming Comedy Central series Roast Battle have additionally been published in Playboy.

Samples from the series can be found via the Instagram hashtag #hallseries and at humansofcomedy.com.

A photo posted by Troy Conrad (@troyconrads) on

1. How did you come up with the idea for the Hall Series?

Last August at The Comedy Store in Hollywood, I took a picture with a fisheye lens of the all the headshots on the wall, and something about it looked very different... it felt like I was surrounded by these pictures on the wall. A couple weeks later, Brian Moses was walking through the hallway and I took his picture, and it looked really cool. Then I wanted to see what it looked like as a portrait. Joey Diaz was the first person I asked to stand in the hallway and pose. I loved how he looked. To me, it felt like the pictures of the comics surrounding him were giving him the nod, pushing him forward. I'm very honored that The Comedy Store liked these shots enough to make them a part of the club. Starting on May 10th, they will be on permanent display in the entrance to the Main Room.

2. What sets the photos in this series apart from other portraits?

The thing that gives these pictures a different feel is the imagery surrounding each comic in the shot. There are vintage headshots on the walls of legendary comics--some of those photos go back as far as 30 or 40 years. There is a feeling of reverence being in that hallway, and these portraits seem to capture that feeling of reverence as if the viewer is there.

3. How many photos have you taken for the Hall Series so far, and what are the plans for expanding on the series over time?

I’ve taken over 80 photos of Paid Regular performers at the Comedy Store, and the collection is growing all the time.

4. What other projects have you done involving filming and/or photographing comics and comedy?

I started as a filmmaker, and directed a film called Runyon: Just Above Sunset starring Eddie Pepitone which won awards at the two festivals it was submitted to. I created and co-produce the improvised stand-up show, Set List: Stand-Up Without A Net. With the show, Paul Provenza and I have traveled the world, and I've photographed the show as well as other shows in seven countries. I've also done a lot of photos of comics in New York and Los Angeles. When I saw Roast Battle at the Comedy Store, I was hooked from the beginning. I knew someone needed to be capturing stills for that show, which is unparalleled worldwide for its high level action. I'm there for that show every Tuesday night.

A photo posted by Troy Conrad (@troyconrads) on

5. What makes The Comedy Store a vital and interesting venue after 40+ years?

The Comedy Store is vital because of its integrity. There are three rooms that are bustling every night. It's run incredibly well right now. It's a place that is welcoming to comics, and very hard to get into as a Paid Regular performer. But everyone wants to be there. There is so much personality there that makes it interesting. Roast Battle is so unique. Ari Shaffir's "This is Not Happening" is still running there. Joe Rogan is there all the time. Chris Rock came in to practice for the Oscars. Dave Chappelle pops in, and Louis CK drops in. Last night John Bishop just came in from the UK and did his first show in the US in the Main Room. I love watching Joey Diaz. He's one of the real humans of comedy. He's so unfiltered and raw, and is pure joy to watch. He's raised the bar for so many comics there.

The Paid Regular Hall Series Exhibit debuts at The Comedy Store on Tuesday, May 10th 2016 from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. and will be on permanent display thereafter. More info at www.thecomedystore.com

Thanks, Troy!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Meet Robert, Owner of My Matcha Tea

My Matcha Tea is Australia's premier tea shop. They sell premium grade Matcha Tea blends to customers worldwide. Matcha Tea 100% pure, organic certified, vegan friendly, stone ground green tea leaves. Learn more about the shop's offerings by visiting their catalog at www.mymatchatea.co/matcha.

Our interview is with Robert, the owner of My Matcha Tea.

1. For people who haven't tried matcha before, what are your favorite things about this type of tea?

My favorite thing about My Matcha Tea is definitely the boost of energy I get from it. Within the first seven days of drinking My Matcha Tea, I found myself more focused and engaged in what I was doing.

2. How do you choose the teas that you offer for sale in your shop?

We work closely with tea distribution farms in Japan. We look for farmers that show a real passion for the tea they grow. Our tea loving farmers are the best in the world when it comes to creating the perfect matcha tea blend.

3. What distinguishes matcha from other green teas and organic teas?

The most obvious thing that separates matcha is the look of the tea powder. It is ground into a super fine powder between granite stone, and packed fresh. The thing that gives matcha tea its bright green color is that it is grown under shade for two weeks, causing the plant to produce more antioxidants than regular green tea.

4. How did your shop first come to be, and what inspired its creation?

My Matcha Tea was created by a noticeable lack of premium matcha tea available in Australia. We wanted to make it easy and affordable for people all over the world to engage easily in this traditional Japanese art.

5. What else would you like our readers to know about My Matcha Tea?

If you've thought about trying matcha tea, now is the time. We offer a range of affordable premium tea blends with a global satisfaction guarantee.

Thanks, Robert!