Thursday, April 17, 2014

Carol's Favorite Interviews, Part Two

Carol's Favorite Interviews, Part Two

Sheryl Seal weaves Native American tales of  folklore and shape shifters that are beautiful threads woven into wonderful stories. She's written "Beyond Bridalveil Fall, Dwellers of Ahwahnee," and "Beyond Oria Falls."  This lovely lady likes Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, a good barbecue, and Elvis Presley.   

C. J. Adrien is a historical fiction novelist who wrote "The Line of His People."  He is an authority on the Vikings.  This charming frenchman likes white chocolate macadamia cookies,  the scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Scooter, a German techno band.

Vivian Drewa loves owls!  She's written "The Angler and the Owl" and "The Owl oaf the Sipan Lord."  She also wrote the story of her grandfather's escape from Poland in 1900, which appeared in The Polish American Journal.  She's a lively one who  likes Stephen King, Mozart, and Chinese food.

New York girl Josie Cara knows how to tug at those heartstrings in her novel about a young woman who works through devastating headaches. thinks she's going crazy,  and finds her roots in "In a Heartbreat."  Josie likes Italian food, Nora Roberts, and the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.

Who likes Beef Stroganoff, Guns N' Roses, Shakespeare, and Marie Curie?  Kathy Bryson, that's who!  She's written "Feeling Lucky" and "Restless Spirits" and has a terrific sense of humor and gives good advice to aspiring authors.

                 To Be Continued Tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Carol's Favorite Interviews from the Last Year, Part One

This morning I was planning on posting my favorite interview from this past year as part of our reflective "look back" on this journey called
Vision and Verse.  Well, the year in review proved to be  much more difficult because some of these strangers  have become friends, people I "talk to" every day, those I go to for advice, or kindly give it, or people I just laugh myself silly with, so instead of one interview, here is a parade of people I've interviewed who are very special to me.

My artist friend, Shirley Ann McElhaney, who allowed me to practice my interviewing skills on her, a fabulous artist, a gracious and beautiful lady, and a good friend.

When I was just starting out I had an online giveaway for one of my eBooks on Facebook.  And nobody wanted it!  Nothing like having something you are so proud of and no one else sees any value in it, but that is a very real part of independent authorship.  We each stand alone.  A few minutes before I closed the giveaway, fellow indie author Eric deBlackmere commented "I do," and became my "man of the hour."  Eric writes in the style of J.R.R. Tolkien and we have been lucky enough to have a little sneak peek at his book here on Vision and Verse.

The lovely Lacey Dearie's book BAKED, about a doughnut who fell in love with an eclair, just seems to be my kind of book.  She is also the author of the LEGER series, about a cat detective.  Leger has taken the US by storm.  Vision and Verse fans love this little Scottish firecracker, and so do I.  Lacey invited me, featuring my race car driver novel, THE BASLICATO, and it was great fun.

The mysterious Loretta Laird wrote a book that completely pulled me into the world of the PASSERS.  She also writes in the J.R.R. Tolkien style and the Passers needs to be made into a movie.  It is a story of love, of course, but also of duty and betrayal.  A must read.

                                                     (To Be Continued Tomorrow)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Guest Post - Building a Better Blog by Nathan Barra

Building a Better Blog

The blogosphere is unique social construct, a community in which thousands of voices speak into the darkness and hope for a whisper in return. Even though nothing committed to the internet ever disappears entirely, the life of a blog is always uncertain. Some voices seem to continue to ring on strong, but these are the exception. Most speak out for a while and then die off into nothingness. There are several important differentiating factors that I have found as both a reader and a writer to be good indicators of the health of a blog.
The first predictor is the dependability of the people behind the blog. If they have a schedule set, do they fulfill those promises? If not, do they post regularly or is it months between new content? Do they have some way to communicate to their readership when new content becomes available? As a reader, I have neither the leisure time nor the inclination to browse blogs that haven’t been updated. Go too long without new material, and I will not be back. Chances are the blogger won’t be either.
The next sign I look for is the self-awareness of the blog and blogger. All writing must have a target audience, a group of people whom they wish to reach and influence. Whether you are trying to reach a niche, sub-culture or an entire demographic, it is essential to know what interests them and to tailor the blog’s culture to fulfill those needs. Do your readers seek entertainment? To learn something or keep up on news? To share in the thoughts and art of another? These questions change the nature of the posts themselves.
This leads directly into my third flag. Does the blogger produce high quality content, or can most of what they post be considered “fluff”? More importantly, is the type of content that they produce consistent to the needs and expectations of their audience? Both are legitimate strategies, after all. For instance, a blog that seeks to target geeks with science and entertainment news may be posting many short, graphic centric articles. They do not rely on readers going in depth, but rather depend on a high frequency of shares and new visits to spread their message. A blog that discusses the finer points of restoring classic cars, however, would rely on a small pool of devoted readers and discussions generated by more detailed content.
The final and most important aspect that I use to predict the success of a blog is its focus. Bloggers who write for their own satisfaction, who are internally focused, tend to be less reliable, and frankly, less interesting. They write for an audience of one. If that is enough for them, then I hope that they have fun with their little piece of the internet. Bloggers who are truly successful tend to be externally focused, seeking to reach people in order to share their passion and interest. They seek to form a community.
When I think of the blogosphere, I can’t help but picture the club fair that occurred during the first week of the fall semester at my college. Back then, we dragged tables out to the middle of our campus, and freshmen wandered around, trying to find what extracurricular they wanted to be a part of. These days I sit behind a digital table, but the goal is the same. I want to attract people who share my interests to stop and talk to me. If I’m lucky, they’ll even join my club and stick around. Community is what matters to bloggers, it is what supports and sustains us. It is our raison d’ĂȘtre.
The lovely people of Vision and Verse have become part of my personal blogosphere, part of my community. Though we only met a short while ago, and our relationship is just beginning, I’m already glad to have met them and am joyful for their success. The one-year mark for a blog is a tough milestone to reach. Most don’t. Reading their blog, I see many of the indications I mentioned above that point to a long-lasting and healthy community.
Most of all, I’m thankful to all of you, dear fans and readers. Both my own, and those native to Vision and Verse. Without y’all, without your willingness to listen from within the darkness, and occasionally even whisper back, we would not, could not go on.
Happy birthday Vision and Verse. And, many, many returns.

Though Nathan Barra is an engineer by profession, training and temperament, he is a storyteller by nature and at heart. Fascinated with the byplay of magic and technology, Nathan is drawn to urban fantasy and soft science fiction in both his reading and writing, though he has been known to wander off into other genres for “funzies.” He is an active blogger, not only on his own site,, but also with a group blog called the Fictorians ( Nathan is always up for a good conversation, so please drop him a line through his contact page or write on his Facebook wall (

Monday, April 14, 2014


Here is #12 of my "FACES" series, the largest work in the group and the largest work I've done using the cardstock medium.  Titled "LIKE ANDY", it is a 16" x 16" printed and textured cardstock composition.  The inspiration for the piece and it's title, comes from my love of the work of Andy Warhol. The images are of myself from a recent photo, which I edited by computer and then reproduced in 4 cardstock versions.  By Parker Kagan-Kaufman, 2014.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

First Birthday Wishes

Our dear friends Debbie Herbert, Lacey Dearie, and Anonymous stopped by to wish Vision and Verse, The Place for Art and Authors, a happy first birthday.
Bert and

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Updates for BENTLEY SQUARE have been completed and are now live on  The story of a wealthy young businesswoman who is explicably drawn to a down-and-out office manager surrounded by sadness and international intrigue remains the same.  I fixed a few typos that managed to squeak by my beta readers, my editor, and myself, but MOST of all, I fixed the cursed bizarre spacing bugaboo that has followed me from my first book to my latest.  These spaces for no reason at all were never in my manuscript, but showed up magically when I hit the PUBLISH button.
To celebrate my victory over space, I am offering BENTLEY SQUARE for $.99 tomorrow, Sunday, April 13th on  Here is the link:

Friday, April 11, 2014


The greatest pleasure I've had in doing this blog was the interview I did with my partner & fellow artist, Kiel Kagan, introducing him and his work to the world.  It was the most fun interview of all that I have done here.

I have the extreme pleasure to bring you this interview with artist Kiel Kagan..  Born in 1977 and schooled in Chicago, IL., he came to Houston, TX., with his family in 1995.  I met Kagan while studying at the University of Houston and followed his career as he has honed his skills and matured as a young artist.

As a contemporary artist, Kagan embraces abstraction.  He deftly uses a visual language of form, color, and line to produce compositions that are quite independent from his world of visual reference.  His work often expresses scale and line in unique geometric shapes.  He utilizes patches of intense color that give his creations a somewhat psychological depth and feel.  His works are truly unique commentaries.

PK:         "Let me begin the interview by welcoming you to the world of Vision and Verse and
               thank you for agreeing to share with our readers."

Kagan:   "It's my pleasure and thank you for inviting me."

PK:          "Let's start with an easy question.  Did you always want to be an artist?"

Kagan:     "No.  When I was 4 years old I wanted to be a mailman because one of our
                  neighbors was a mail carrier and I thought it would be so cool to drive a
                  mail truck."

PK:           "When did you discover your calling as an artist?"

Kagan:      "I got a huge box of crayons when I was in kindergarten and there were all
                  these amazing colors.  The first one I picked up made me forget all about
                   being a mailman....I just wanted to color EVERYTHING!"  I maintained an
                   interest in art as I grew up.  When it was time to go to college I decided to
                   study ancient history.  I changed majors 2 more times before settling on
                   art.  So I would say I was about 28 when I got the call."

PK:            "So what then IS your favorite color?"

Kagan:      "I don't have a definitive answer for changes with my mood.  Right
                   now I would have to say it's purple."

PK:             "What is your medium of choice?"

Kagan:       "I paint primarily with acrylics."

PK:             "What inspires your work?"

Kagan:       "Ha, it sounds so standard, but, everything in the world presents some
                   kind of visual stimulation for me.  How my brain interprets it is the basis
                   of the inspiration."

PK:            "Name some of your favorite artists?"

Kagan:      "I'm inspired by the classic Expressionists like Kandinsky and Rouault.
                   I also like the works of Max Beckmann."

PK:            "Switching directions here, what cuisine do you like most?"

Kagan:      "Wow, well I'm a traditional guy when it comes to food, I'm not really into
                   exotic foods.  I like everyday stuff that's prepared fresh and with love, you
                   know, from the heart....I guess you call that 'home cooking'."

PK:            "What is one activity that you enjoy outside of your craft?"

Kagan:      "Tending to my flower garden."

PK:            "And what is one thing that you dislike doing or avoid doing?"

Kagan:      "Laundry...I spend a lot of money on new clothes."

PK:             "Is there a foreign destination that you want to visit?"

Kagan:       "Not really.  I haven't discovered all that I want to see here in this country.
                    There's so much in my own backyard yet to explore."

PK:              "Who is/was the biggest influence in your life?"

Kagan:        "Without a doubt my Nana, my father's mother.  She once told me to
                     'imagine the life that you want, then go out and live it'.  That advice is
                     foremost in everything I do."

PK:              "Back to your work.  You paint very large compositions...why is that?"

Kagan:        "It has to do with giving visual importance to things or ideas that appear
                     relatively insignificant.  I think life's little things should scream at you."

PK:             "Prior to this interview, you told me that if it were possible, you'd want to live in
                   an art museum.  What museums would be your top picks?"

Kagan:       "Growing up in Chicago I favor the Museum of Contemporary Art and The
                    Art Institute.  Here in Houston I would say that the Menil Collection ranks
                    very high."

PK:             "What excites you?"

Kagan:       "Oh now that's a loaded question. (laughing) is very exciting."

PK:             "What makes you sad?"

Kagan:       "The lack of happiness in people."

PK:              "What do you do to relax?"

Kagan:        "I like to walk in my neighborhood park and go for bike rides."

PK:              "What makes you laugh?"

Kagan:        "Reruns of I Love Lucy."

PK:               "What is the name and author of the last book you read."

Kagan:         "The Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious Brain, by
                      Robert Solso."

PK:              "What music do you listen to?"

Kagan:        "The Wanted, Bassnectar, Velvet Underground, Selena Gomez,
                     Evanessence, Neil Young, Lady Gaga, Skrillex, and instrumental
                     elevator music....seriously."

PK:              "Name one person dead or alive that you would most like to meet?"

Kagan:        "Roman emperor Nero."

PK:              "And what would you say to him?"

Kagan:        "I'd ask him what melody he was fiddling when Rome was burning."

PK:             "As an artist, what would be your dream come true?"

Kagan:       "That's easy, my own studio filled with an endless supply of canvas and

PK:             "What is your philosophy for life?"

Kagan:       "Well, I've been given a great gift of artistic talent.  I would hope that I
                   wouldn't waste it, so that by the time I die I would have used it all up."

PK:             "Do you have any new projects in the works?"

Kagan:       "I'm working to finish all current projects to clear the way to move in a
                    new direction.  I'm really excited to have the opportunity to collaborate
                    on a series of works with a close personal friend and fellow artist.  The
                    merging of two widely diverse styles into one work of art has long been
                    a dream of mine.  I'm looking forward to this new adventure."

PK:             "Kiel, that was my last question for you.  It's been an awesome interview, great
                   to have you here on Vision and Verse.  We wish you the best in your future
                   endeavors.  We also invite you to come back to give us a peak at your new

Kagan:      "Thank you so much, this has been a great experience, I've thoroughly
                  enjoyed it."

Due to a recent hacking, Kiel Kagan's website has been shut down.  Hopefully in the near future you'll be able to access his work via my website.  We'll keep you informed.

Image above:  "VOIDS"  2012,   acrylic on canvas, 7' x 9',  by Kiel Kagan. .