Friday, July 25, 2014

Meet Rich Marcello, Author

Rich Marcello is a contemporary fiction author, poet, and songwriter. He worked for many years as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies. During his time in technology, he never stopped creating art, and eventually his love for song and the written word grew to the point where he walked away from his first career to pursue poetry, song, and fiction with the same enthusiasm and discipline he demonstrated in business. Rich has published two novels, The Big Wide Calm and The Color of Home. Born in New Jersey, he lives in New England.

1. Reading about your novels, I like that your lead characters are artists. How do you choose your characters' professions and other key details about their lives?

Because I've been around the arts all of my life, either through songwriting, poetry, or over the last four years, writing novels, I tend to include at least one character in each novel who is an artist. In the first and second novels, I chose musicians. In the third, one of the main characters is a poet. It's a way for me to write, at least in part, from something I know and love well. The artists in my novels tend to be surrounded by folks who are not traditionally artistic which provides lots of contrast.

2. What inspired you to leave your job in technology and pursue your writing career?

Back in college, my English professor told me he would teach me to write novels if I switched majors from engineering and business to English. I was broke, so I stayed with engineering and business, but the desire to write remained with me all of my technology years. A number of years ago, I got the idea to write three novels about different kinds of love, and decided to leave everything technology-wise behind and go for it. It was the best decision of my life. The Color of Home, about romantic love, came out in 2013. The Big Wide Calm, at its core about platonic love, was just released. And The Beauty of the Fall will hopefully be out next year. After that, I have ideas for ten novels floating around, and plan to write for the rest of my life.

3. How does your previous experience in songwriting carry over into your current work as a novelist?

In two ways. First, I sometimes write about the songwriting process in my books. How one goes about creating a song is a process many people have not seen in detail, so it adds richness and authenticity to the main characters. Second, because songwriting is in part about conveying emotion and about the beauty of a phrase, I try to carry that over in my novels. Sometimes I'll spend an hour just on one sentence trying to get the words just right. With that said, because the first two novels had musicians in them, I've decided not to include any in The Beauty of the Fall.

4. What do you find most fun--and most challenging--about writing novels?

I like the process of writing every day first thing in the morning. When I wake up, it's loads of fun to start with a blank page and create something new. But not just that. I really love all aspects of writing. Creating something new. Re-writing. Word-smithing a sentence or phrase. Plotting. Pacing. Becoming a character for a time. All of it. The most challenging part is knowing I can only write five hours each day. After that, I'm toast. I have so much to write about, I wish I could up my hours. Smile.

5. What do you see as your goals as an artist over the next few years?

I'll finish The Beauty of the Fall. After that, I'll just keep going and write the next novel. I tend to love literary fiction, so I'll probably keep writing novels with which focus on truth, honesty, kindness, compassion, and love. Or more accurately, how folks intentionally and unintentionally have a hard time living their lives in those things.

Thanks, Rich!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Meet Brandi Jo Newman, Financial Advocate and Author

Based in San Antonio, Texas, Brandi Jo Newman helps people all over the country prepare for retirement through her retirement income course.

A quote from Brandi Jo: "Here's the truth about me and my business... I don't get paid unless you benefit. It's as simple as that! Many of my colleagues want to charge you excessive fees and separate you from your money. Not me, and I make that promise every day."

1. I saw on the front page of your website that over 300,000 baby boomers are retiring every month. Wow. Based on your experience, how many of these retirees are likely to be truly ready (financially) for retirement?

I would say only the many who have chosen to work with me on their retirement income choices. The unique approach that I follow does not depend on how much money they have saved or how many assets they have acquired throughout their lifetime. It is all dependent upon how efficiently their income choices are positioned.

Quite often a client of mine will enjoy more income over their lifetime, especially during retirement, just by simply being able to position their assets properly and following a more efficient strategy for a lifetime of guaranteed income.

We do this by allocating their assets into appropriate guaranteed vehicles but also leaving room for gains with the protection of a market volatility buffer of at least three to five years.

With all this being done well in advance of retirement time, we are able to increase my clients' retirement income by at least 30% and sometimes more than 50%. This means that someone who had roughly $125,000 of retirement income from pensions, 401k, IRA, and annuities can have at least an income of $187,500 a year guaranteed for life.

2. Do baby boomers still have time to improve their retirement prospects if they are retiring soon--or already retired?

Absolutely! There is always time, but you need to be realistic. The only thing I can't give anyone is their time back. And as we all know time is finite, so it is best to get started right now, today, with a pre-tax retirement summary to see where we are and where we need to focus.

I encourage anyone and everyone to contact me to get their retirement summary at no cost and then allow me to educate them about the many possibilities they may have. There is more to revealing more income choices than just another mutual fund or working longer or--worse--taking on more risk with their existing savings.

3. Would you tell us a little bit about your retirement income course? Does it include readings or videos or...?

The Retirement Income Planning Course is a series of five videos that I have produced to take someone through the entire understanding of how retirement income streams work. Many of my clients have accomplished the first half of their retirement goals which is compared to climbing a mountain: once you get to the top, you need to know how to get back down the mountain, and that's where maximum income options come into play.

The two white papers we discuss are important to the decision making process for which route to take during retirement. The Wharton Financial Institutions Center published a policy brief on the Importance of Investing A Lump Sum for Retirement Purposes. This is in direct relation to how retirement income streams work and how much changes in the investment environment when someone is taking an income from invested active assets. The policy brief shows just how much uncertainty there is with a retirement account that is being used for income purposes. The example case given in the policy brief shows that the income stream has less than a 50% chance of lasting the entire life of the retiree.

The other white paper we discuss is from Morningstar with one of the researchers being Dr. Wade Pfau who discussed the impact of such a low interest rate environment on retirees' assets and portfolios. The findings reveal how fragile retirees' portfolios can be given a lack of liquidity to sustain the bear market years during retirement.

4. What made you decide to focus your career on helping people with retirement financing?

I want to help all my clients through every phase of life. It just so happens that most of my clients are well into their accumulation years, and they want to make sure their assets, opportunities, and liquidity last for their entire lifetime.

We do this by making sure we capture most of their income outside of the markets' volatility first and then leveraging their liquidity for the purposes of lifestyle. Building the bridge between accumulation and distribution is where the permanent and guaranteed vehicles play a major for my clients.

5. Are there some lessons you learned as a professional golfer that have transferred into your current career as a financial advocate and author?

It's been said many times that one round of golf is like life. There are ups and downs throughout every round of golf we play. But the process and the strategy is what delivers us a good score. Golf as a metaphor for life is one that I talk about often with my clients.

We all know where and what the end goal is: we just need to make sure we have most efficient strategy possible for our course of life.

Thanks, Brandi Jo!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Introducing dmi Networking, Specialists in IT for Dental Practices

As someone who follows small businesses and entrepreneurs, I can appreciate the value of a company that is filling a specific niche. Based in California in the North Bay Area, dmi Networking is helping dentists by providing information technology solutions and support. The people who started the company have 30+ years of experience in helping local business owners, and the staff are skilled in helping end users manage the necessary IT processes involved in keeping an office running smoothly.

Depending on the level of in-house IT expertise within a particular office, you can outsource some of all of your IT needs to dmi Networking. They offer a variety of IT services for dental practices such as secure encryption for email and data, network security, HIPAA compliance, and more. You can find help with getting your files online and knowing those files are stored safely on your own network and/or using cloud storage. You can even get help in making sure you have the best computers and other equipment set up in your office to meet your needs.

For Bay Area dental IT services, check out dmi Networking. I'm sure everyone has seen news stories about data breaches in different business environments, and medical and dental offices can be a target for data thieves. In other words, it's worth it to consult with professionals and outsource some of your information technology needs to protect your business and your patients.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Introducing Chelsydale's Silicone Baking Cups, Available on Amazon provides a marketplace which allows a lot of independent business owners to reach a wide audience of consumers, and you can find some unique products as you click around on the site. For those (like me!) who like baking, one such cool product is Chelsydale's Silicone Baking Cups.

These cupcake liners are made from BPA-free, food-grade silicone, and they come in a set of 12 pieces in bright colors. You also receive a convenient transparent cylindrical container case for storage. The cups make a nice alternative to paper or foil liners as these cupcake liners are reusable. They're also non-stick. You can use them for cupcakes and muffins, of course, and also as dessert molds for gelatin, frozen treats, and so on. They are also used in bento lunch boxes.

The cups are safe to use and won't affect the taste of your foods, nor will they leave any unpleasant smell. They are microwave, oven, dishwasher, and freezer safe. And they are very easy to clean. With their handy size, many customers find the silicone cups to be versatile and capable of being used for other functions aside from baking.

Chelsydale is currently offering these silicone baking cups at a special introductory price. Plus, they have shared a coupon code with the readers of our blog. For a limited time, you can get an additional 10% discount by entering this promo code upon checkout: BRTFKDUC.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Meet K.O. Giuseppe, Author

K.O. Giuseppe, author of Bonnie and Klyde + 2 Cats, is currently based in Los Angeles, California. He was born in Nigeria and raised in the United States in Queens, NY and Bridgeport, CT. According to KOG, writing is the only art form that transfers the power of imagination to anyone bold enough to read. Visit him online at his website, as well as on Twitter.

1. How did you first become interested in writing?

For a long time, I never felt interested in writing because coming from a different country, Nigeria, proper English was my biggest barrier. Plus. growing up in the inner city, reading was never the cool thing to do, so in order to fit in, I had to despise books. Silly now that I think about it, but that's how it was coming up in the inner city, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. My hatred of the literary craft led me to a stronger math comprehension and visual expression. After I graduated college, quit my good job, and took a journey to California, God guided me towards writing. Natasha and I, plus our two cats, were living in a car, with no electricity, no internet, and no home, but I had a pen and pad. I believe that that was God's way of telling me to write, and that's what I did.

2. What do you see as the pleasures--and the difficulties--of being an artist in today's world?

The pleasures of being an artist are also the difficulties of being an artist in today's world. It is pleasant to think differently from the status quo, but it is extremely difficult to be understood when you think differently. People categorize artists as crazy, simply because they see things differently. So the smart artist learns to fit in, sometimes.

3. If you had to describe your writing to someone who had never read any of your work before, what would you say?

I would say keep an open mind before reading. My books capture moments, so if I was angry at that moment a few years ago, you will feel the anger when you read it; same thing goes for happiness and sheer dumbness--yes, there is a hell of a lot of dumbness.

4. Would you tell us a bit more about your memoir, Bonnie and Klyde + 2 Cats?

Yes. Bonnie and Klyde + 2 Cats: Journey of a Starving Artist is a nonfiction book about my journey from Connecticut to California. I quit my good engineering job in Connecticut, got into my Jeep with my girlfriend plus her two cats, and spontaneously moved to California. We hit hard times, living out of the Jeep and sneaking cats in and out of motels. I would call it a fun survival guide with a DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME warning label.

5. As someone who writes both fiction and nonfiction, what do you find to be the unique challenges of each genre?

The challenge of writing nonfiction is not writer's block, but the underground demon I call procrastination. I love to experience life, then sit and write about my experiences, but that procrastination devil always has a chore for me to do: wash a car, go shopping, clean up, whatever it takes to avoid writing. The challenges of writing fiction are writer's block and realism. Writing fiction is like making Mars believable on Earth. The more outlandish the idea, the harder you have to work to make it believable to the reader.

Thanks, KOG!