Monday, March 31, 2014

THE ARTISTRY OF THE QUOTE






"GRAY DAY"  by Parker Kagan-Kaufman, 2011  


"A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light."  -- Leonardo da Vinci.

"Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth."  --Pablo Picasso.

"Art and love are the same thing.  It is the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."  --Chuck Klosterman.

"I dream my painting and I paint my dream."  --Vincent Van Gogh.

"You might as well ask an artist to explain his art, or a poet to explain his poem.  It defeats the purpose.  The meaning is only clear through the search."  --Rick Riordan.

"Creativity takes courage."  --Henri Matisse.

"Art is the only serious thing in the world.  And the artist is the only person who is never serious."  --Oscar Wilde.

"If we citizens don't support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams." 
--Yamn Martel.

"You don't make a photograph with just a camera.  You bring to the act of photography, all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard,  the people you have loved."  --Ansel Adams.

"We have art in order not to die of the truth."  --Friedrich Nietzsche.

"A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you, the less you know."
--Diane Arbus.

"Art without emotion is like chocolate without sugar.  It makes you gag."
--Laurie Hale Anderson.

"Nature is a haunted house, but Art, is a house that tries to be haunted."
--Emily Dickinson.

"Art is what you can get away with."  --Andy Warhol.

"Art is the proper task of life."  --Friedrich Nietzsche.

"An artists only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."  --J D  Salinger.

"Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one." 
--Stella Adler.

"Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere."  --G K  Chesterton.

"Art is the reason I get up in the morning, but the definition ends there.  It doesn't seem fair that I'm living for something that I can't even define."  Ani DiFranco.


image above,  "GREY DAY",  5.5" x 8.5", cardstock composition by Parker Kagan-Kaufman, 2011.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

KEY WITNESS, A Southwest Mystery by Sandra Bolton


Key Witness    
 A Southwest Mystery    
by Sandra Bolton



   A loner from New Jersey and a lady Navajo cop form an unlikely alliance when the two join forces to track down a killer and solve the puzzle of a mysterious key.

Abe Freeman feels alienated from his family and the culture he grew up in. After the death of his girlfriend, Sharon, the young Jewish musician leaves the East Coast and heads west, bringing little more than camping gear and the three-legged dog, Patch, Sharon had once rescued. Life takes a dramatic turn when he enters New Mexico and is arrested as a suspect in a murder case by Navajo Tribal Police Officer, Emily Etcitty. The many twists and turns of this story take the pair from the Four Corners of New Mexico to the Texas plains and southern Arizona as they search for answers and try to come to grips with a disturbing secret from their past.

Sandra Bolton has created a fast-moving suspense, sprinkled liberally with romance and a good dose of New Mexico and Navajo culture. Her characters come to life as often sympathetic, sometimes humorous, and otherwise, just plain ornery.


      Excerpt One:
The chant turned to a roar that drowned out the voice of the emcee when Juanita de la Cruz came on stage with a slutty slow-walk. She wore a see-through black negligee that barely concealed the lacy low-cut bra. A black G-string and hip-high black boots completed the outfit. Juanita’s long dark hair curled provocatively over her breasts. Glitter on the teardrop tattoo at the corner of her right eye sparkled in the strobe lights as she began gyrating with the first number.  She teased the crowd with a pole spin, then a pole flip, and the college kids started yelling, “Take it off.” While Abe wondered if she had to quit using the cross as a prop, a couple of guys carried a large metal one onstage and snapped it in place in front of the pole. Not your usual cross, bedecked with twinkly lights and feathers and utilized in a very provocative way, some would say sacrilegious. But, Abe had to admit, Juanita de la Cruz was something to behold.

     
     Excerpt Two:
Abe Freeman lay on his back, staring at water spot patterns on the gray ceiling. He had been arrested and placed in the holding tank of the Huerfano Community Police Substation. The reek of piss and vomit permeated the cell he shared with three other inmates, held on drunk and disorderly charges. His head throbbed from fatigue and confusion brought on by hours of interrogation from the Navajo policewoman and New Mexico State cop, as he tried without success to block  the snores and grunts of the other prisoners. How could he have been so stupid as to leave his knife behind? Before Sharon’s death he had been a careful man. Abe covered his eyes with his forearm, not wanting to think, not wanting to live.

     Excerpt Three:
     Sally stood up, put her hands on her hips, and faced Abe and Emily. “Get off your high horse, you two. I’ve probably been handling a gun longer than both of you put together. “I can shoot the short hairs off a pig’s balls blindfolded, and he won’t even squeal. Never been scared of nothing, and never will be. Now I say we start working out the details and quit whining.”
Sally’s sudden outburst silenced Emily and Abe until they looked at each other and started smiling.
“I didn’t know pig balls had short hairs,” Emily said, unable to stifle a fit of giggles.
Abe cracked up. “I’d like to see that kind of shooting.”
Sally grinned back at them and the tension broke. “Are you ready to figure this thing out?”


Follow Sandra Bolton at:
    amazon.com/author/sandrabolton
     https://www.facebook.com/sandra.bolton.10?fref=ts




Friday, March 28, 2014

AFFORDABLE ART FAIR, SPRING 2014






                 THE AFFORDABLE ART FAIR
The AAF New York City, is a four day, 78 gallery extravaganza of contemporary art.   It takes place April 3 - 6, 2014, at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea, NYC.

This is a fabulous opportunity to scoop up a great piece of art from thousands of sculptures, paintings, prints, and photographs, all original works and all in one place.  And it’s a great place to snatch an amazing piece of art by a future art superstar.

For more information check out www.affordableartfair.com.

Image above, "Dreaming", by Phan Cam Thuong. 2000.   Woodblock print on paper, 12 x 16 in.    From Vietnamese Contemporary Fine Art.
 
 

FROM THE ARCHIVES OF PARKER THE ARTIST





Today I'm dusting off am older work from my archives.  In comparison to my current works, this one kind of gives you a hint at my artistic history and where I've been.  The piece is titled "Surrender The Music",  a dimensional cardstock, computer enhanced images, & Prisma pencil composition, by Parker Kagan-Kaufman, 2010.  The inspiration for this was a sick twist on my love for the British music scene of the 1960's and the classic film, "The Wizard of Oz".  This is the original piece and is NOT available on my website.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review of NOT ALONE by Chantal Bellehumeur





5.0 out of 5 stars Story of GrowthMarch 23, 2014


This review is from: Not Alone (Kindle Edition)
"Not Alone" is the lovely, well-written story of Harmony, a young Canadian divorced mother who struggles daily with illness and feelings of depression and isolation. Written in first person narrative, the story takes us on a journey of growth and maturity with Harmony as she discovers she is much stronger than she thought and that she is "not alone." The descriptions of the Canadian countryside are vivid and beautiful. It was a joy to read.

"Not Alone" is available at Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Not+Alone+by+Chantal+Bellehumeur

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

THE ART OF JOE SORREN






I first became aware of Joe Sorren while perusing a recent issue of New York Magazine.  Very little information about Sorren can be found online.  Wikipedia tells us that he was born in Arizona in 1970 and that he began his painting career in 1991.  We are also told that he attended Northern Arizona University where he earned a bachelor of fine arts degree.

My fascination with his work stems from the surrealistic quality of his paintings.  They remind me of dreams, with very stylized figures.  I find there is an ethereal beauty to them.  I'm not sure how he does it, but Sorren magically  captures a hidden light in each of his pieces.  I find them enchanting and I believe you will too.

You can see more of his works at www.joesorren.com.

Image above, "VALERIE", by Joe Sorren.

Information from Wikipedia.
Image from Yahoo.com..

FOR THE WHOVIANS IN THE HOUSE.





For the Whovians out there, this piece needs no explanation.  For those of you unfamiliar with the long running BBC Tv series, "Dr Who", this work depicts the vehicle used by the series character, Dr Who, to travel through time and the universe.  The device is called the "Tardis". (cleverly disguised as a police call box).

This work is titled "TARDIS", an 8.5" x 11" cardstock, computer design, and colored pencil composition, by Parker Kagan-Kaufman, 03-2014.  Inspired by many, many, episodes of Dr Who.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Interview with author Donna Marie Gentry



Donna Marie Gentry
Van Buren, Arkansas




Good morning, Donna. Welcome to Vision and Verse, the Place for Art and Authors this morning.  What have you written?  
A book titled "SimpleWords" with poems and two short stories.

What is your favorite genre to write?  
 Poetry

What is your favorite food? 
Seafood

Tea or coffee?
 Coffee for breakfast. I drink mainly diet coke and water.

Pizza or ice cream?
Pizza.


Where would you like to visit? 
East coast.

Favorite musical artist? 
John Denver

Do you listen to music when you write?   
Sometimes. it depends on what I'm writing about.  There are times I need complete silence.

What?  
 I like listening to Enya. The music and lyrics are just beautiful. It's so comforting to listen to.

What makes you laugh?   
It's easy to make me laugh. So I laugh at most anything. My friends and family is good about making me laugh. Laughter is definitely great!

How old were you when you started writing?  
13 years old. I started putting rhymes together much earlier, but I didn't put it on paper. I wrote a short story in the sixth grade, and I was hooked.

Describe your perfect evening.  
A quiet night at home watching television, then focusing on my thoughts and writing.



Where do you get your inspiration?   
Family, friends, and people in general. Different situations we go through in life.

What do you do when you get a writer's block?    
I focus on a game of scrabble, read, or watch television.

Who is your favorite author?   
 I read more non-fiction than anything.  I do enjoy reading the works of Helen Steiner Rice.

Best book you ever read?    
Every book I read touches me in different ways.  A book that always comes to mind is one I read in high school titled "Girl in Cotton Wool." I still have that in my collection.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?   
My daughter. We are very close. She makes me see things in a different light. She has a very kind heart and I am so proud of her. She always makes me feel special.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?  
 My paternal grandmother. She passed away when my dad was three years old. He never got to know her. When someone sent me a picture of her unmarked grave, I cried like I had just lost her. I grieved for someone I didn't know. I didn't expect to be overwhelmed like that.   I would like to sit with her to find out the type of person she was. It would have been interesting to know what kind of influence she  may have had on my dad's life also.
What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer? I would say start writing down your thoughts. Write in a journal for different events. Just write. It will get better as you write more and more. Never give up!


Do you any links so we cn follow you?
www.amazon.com/Simple-Words-Donna-Marie-Gentry/dp/1605638927
www.facebook.com/DonnaMarieGentry
www.simplewords.webs.com
www.twitter.com/Simple_Words1
https://www.goodreads.com/DonnaMarieGentry


Monday, March 24, 2014

#10 FACES SERIES BY PARKER KAGAN-KAUFMAN





#10 of my series FACES, this work was inspired by the exploration of my darker side.  Certainly not a subject everyone talks about, but one that merits looking into.  Using a digital camera to take a "selfie", (a process that required me taking about 40 photos in order to get the right one) then using a computer program, made it negative.  I used a filter to blur the image just enough to achieve a shadow effect.  Using the photo as my guide I hand cut the image from dark hued cardstock, then layering it onto white.  Trimming the white layer very close to the dark allowed for the sense of dimension.  The work is titled, "DARK SIDE", is 8.5" x 11", matte cardstock composition, by Parker Kagan-Kaufman, 2014.  Available at www.parkerkaufman.net.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

THE NECRODANCER by Joanne Boyd


THE NECRODANCER by Joanne Boyd


Blurb/Sypnosis:

Ella thought that going to the ballet was the worst thing she has ever had to do and that was BEFORE she discovered that the dancers on stage were actually a bunch of reanimated corpses controlled by the evil necromancer Albertino. 

NOW she has to go to his studio and find and destroy his talisman to save the trapped souls all by herself; since the only other medium she knows, her grandmother, is “too old to run around all day chasing talismans.” And the talisman in question? It sits on Albertino’s big fat finger.

Unfortunately, Ella will learn that the corpses under his control are capable of more than just dancing.




Read an excerpt from  NECRODANCER:




Sneak Peek: The NecroDancer


As the lights in the centre dimmed, I felt a fluttering in my stomach. The music started and I felt the little hairs on my arms stick up. I looked up at Gran to ask what was going on but she looked just as anxious as I felt. She was looking back at me with wide eyes.
‘What is this?’ she mouthed.
The curtain started rising and I felt a familiar pulling in my chest. My heart was racing and I knew exactly what was happening. This was how I felt when there were dead bodies around. Someone must have just died in the centre.
Gran must have figured it out at the same time as I did because we both jumped out of our seats to look for the body.
No – make that bodies.
The feeling was so strong; there was no way that this was coming from just one.
Oblivious to how ridiculous I must have looked, I ran through the row of seats while Gran took off in the opposite direction.
We darted up the aisles, looking under the seats, looking anywhere we could think of. There must have been at least a dozen dead bodies in the room and that’s not usually the kind of thing that’s hard to spot. The other audience members started complaining,
‘Sit down!’
‘It’s started!’
Frozen in the middle of the aisles, we looked at each other in disbelief. How were we the only ones who knew there were a whole bunch of corpses in the room?
The music was growing louder now and we turned our focus toward the stage to see that the dancing had started.
The ballerinas performed with perfect technique and grace but their eyes were filled with despair.
They weren’t just beautiful and elegant.
They were dead.


Links to buy:



Follow Joanne Boyd at:

Friday, March 21, 2014

YOU CAN QUOTE ME ON THIS





A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.-- Oscar Wilde.

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation it is a corpse. – Winston Churchill.

In art, the hand cannot execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.   – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. – John F Kennedy.

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.  – Thomas Merton.

Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known to what is arcane and concealed. – Khalil Gibran.

Without freedom, no art; art lives only on the restraints it imposes on itself, and dies of all others. – Albert Camus.

The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure.
– Dale Carnegie.

A true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection. – Michelangelo.

Treat a work of art like a prince. Let it speak to you first.
– Arthur Shopenhauer.

Artists who seek perfection in everything are those that cannot attain it in anything. – Gustave Flaubert.

Every good painter paints what he is. – Jackson Pollock.

Art is parasitic on life, just as criticism is parasitic on art. – Harry S Truman.

The arts are an even better barometer of what’s happening in our world than the stock market or the debates in congress.
– Hendrik William van Loon.

Image above, "ODE TO HENDRIX", by Parker Kagan-Kaufman, 2011.  Cardstock and computer enhanced designs, 8.5" x 11".  Available on www.parkerkaufman.net.
 
 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Interview with author Ruth Hartman Berge


Ruth Hartman Berge
Jupiter, Florida


Good morning, Ruth, and welcome to Vision and Verse, the Place for Art and Authors.  It's great to have you here with us from beautiful, sunny Jupiter, Florida.  What have you written?
“Betty Tales: The True Story of a BraveBobblehead Cat” is a children’s book about my disabled cat that teaches diversity as well as how important determination and persistence is in reaching your goal.
“Growing Up in Northern Palm Beach County” (working title) is currently under contract with The History Press and is scheduled to be published June, 2014.

What is your favorite genre to write?
I seem to be drawn to the Florida of the past, although I love writing both fiction and non-fiction. I’m just starting a murder mystery and have another novel based in 1930s Florida on the back burner. Love writing short stories, too!

Favorite food. 
Steak and potatoes!

Tea or coffee? 
Tea and none of that fancy stuff, either!

Pizza or ice cream? 
Ice cream!

Where would you like to visit? 
Want to go back to London. Haven’t been there since the 1980s.

Favorite musical artist.
Right now, Blake Shelton.

Do you listen to music when you write? 
Nope. I actually have the tv on to the scifi channel. I love looking up to see the campiest, most fake monster everAnd if the acting is terrible, too? I’m in heaven.


What makes you laugh? 
Silly things. Love the old tv show “FawltyTowers.” That’s my kind of silly.

How old were you when you started writing? 
Started when a pencil was put in my hands. I only started taking myself seriously at age 50. I tell my children all the time to find their passion early and don’t make a purely practical choice. Practical should be on the list, but find the passion that makes your heart sing and you’ll never regret it.

Describe your perfect evening. 
A dinner out with friends followed by an hour or two of writing.

Where do you get your inspiration? 
All over the place. I’ll overhear someone say something, see something on tv or at the store. My latest short story came about because I have an antique typewriter with a flower arrangement sitting next to my tv. The idea will just keep coming back until I give up and write about it.

What do you do when you get a writer's block? 
I’ll just keep mulling my thoughts over. I’ve been fortunate not to be stuck with a big one yet.

Who is your favorite author? 
I have two. Stephen King and Prudy Taylor Board.

Best book you ever read. 
I loved “The Stand.”

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why? 
I would have to say Brian Klemmer who wrote The Compassionate Samurai. There was a writing exercise at one of his seminars. We were to take five minutes and write who and what we were one year from that date. The first sentence I wrote? “I am a writer.” I was so stunned, my jaw dropped and I got tears in my eyes. It had been a childhood dream that had been buried while I made a living and raised my children. I was 50. By 51, I had a column and a blog and was working on what has become “Growing Up in Northern Palm Beach County.” By 53, I had published “Betty Tales.” It’s important to approach life with a sense of urgency. Don’t put things off.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Tough one.There are many. I would have loved to have a conversation with my great-grandfather. A German immigrant who traveled all over the United States before settling in Florida, he led a fascinating life, homesteading on the plains of North Dakota. He was also one of the men who huddled in Fort Sauerkraut in Hebron, North Dakota in advance of an Indian attack that never happened. Oh, the stories!

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Find a mentor. Join a critique group led by a multiple-published author. Grow a thick skin. Require honest, no-holds-barred critiques of your work and carefully consider the suggestions. Don’t automatically accept every suggestion. Study and read, read, read everything you can get your hands on about your craft.

Do you have any links for us to follow you?








Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WHAT'S UP WEDNESDAY: ANIMAL ART BY PARKER KAGAN-KAUFMAN





 Several years ago I was using computer generated images of very small designs...rosettes, crosses, stars, etc, to create works of animal art.  Most of the works were dogs with the exception of one cat.  Above is a piece inspired by my beagle, Lily.  The work is approximately 8" x 8", composed of printed images on cardstock, individually hand cut and glued.  BEAGLE by Parker Kagan-Kaufman, 2010.




Above, SHIH-Tzu, by Parker Kagan-Kaufman, 2010, a composition of computer printed designs, hand cut and glued individually.  Approximately 8" x 8".




This work was featured here last year as one of our give-away items.  Titled, "TUXEDO CAT", the composition is 8.5" x 11", computer images printed on cardstock, singularly cut and glued to a printed paper background.  By Parker Kagan-Kaufman, 2013.




"POODLE" is another work from 2010, computer enhanced designs, cut and glued singularly, approximately 8" x 8", by Parker Kagan-Kaufman.




The final work in the group was this "DACHSHUND", computer images on cardstock, hand cut and glued, 8.5" x 11", by Parker Kagan-Kaufman, 2011.  In this piece, the same design was used throughout, printing it on 3 different colors of coardstock.


All images above by Parker Kagan-Kaufman, are available on www.parkerkaufman.net.











Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Interview with author, blogger, and engineer Nathan Barra


 Nathan Barra
 West Texas, USA.  
Do you know that corner where Texas and New Mexico meet?  
Just about there.


Good morning, Nathan.  Welcome to Vision and Verse.  We are so happy to have you with us this morning.  What have you written? 
Words?  Though, I suppose if you want more specifics, I have been writing my whole life.  I started with short stories, about as long as my attention span as a child.  They were done when they were done, what can I say?  I really enjoy writing flash fiction, though I don’t publish most of it as I want to try to find a professional home for the pieces before I put them up for free.  Recently, I’ve been working more as a novelist, and am in the process of polishing my first completed manuscript of sufficiently good quality that I don’t want to take it out back and set fire to it.  To keep my fingers on the keyboard, I spend much of my time blogging, on my own site (www.NathanBarra.com) and with a group blog of very talented folks called “The Fictorians” (www.Fictorians.com).  I’ve also been known to provide a guest post.

What is your favorite genre to write? 
Fantasy, especially urban.  Science fiction is also a great deal of fun.  Can I say science fantasy?  That would be ideal.  As I am an engineer by training, temperament and profession, I feel like I get enough of the “real world” in my day to day life.  I can’t escape it as my writing seems to juxtapose magic and technology, with fascinating results.

Favorite food. 
Oh… That is a question akin to “Which of your children is your favorite?” or “What’s your favorite book?”  I’m a self-proclaimed foodie, and when I start cooking, friends seem to come out of the woodwork, so I can’t be half bad.  But, enough stalling.  If forced to a single answer, I’ll have to say Saki (salmon) Sushimi.

Tea or coffee?
Tea.  Loose leaf, specifically.  I’m a bit of a snob.

Pizza or ice cream? 
Given the choice of delicious and delicious, I’ll choose pizza.

Where would you like to visit? 
There is a long list.  On the top, right now?  I want to rent camping equipment and a jeep, then camp my way across New Zealand.

Favorite musical artist.  Do you listen to music when you write?  What? 
There isn’t one musical genre or artist that I can point to as a favorite as my musical tastes largely depend on my mood and to what I’ve been listening to recently.  By far, I own more techno (mostly vocal trance and house) music, though I have a smattering of just about everything.  When not dictating, yes, I do listen to music as I write.  I’ve created a number of Pandora stations for different types of writing (action scenes, romance scenes, travel scenes, various kinds of sequels, specific character sound tracks, etc.) that I’ll queue up as appropriate.

What makes you laugh? Situational humor, especially something that is cleverly worded or observed in an interesting way.  I adore good standup or improvised comedy.  I don’t have much respect for bathroom humor.  I used to, but three years on stage as a live performance improvised comedian changed my tastes significantly.

How old were you when you started writing?
I have no idea.  My earliest stories are in French, so before the third grade.

Describe your perfect evening.
Again with the absolutes!  I much prefer hanging in as to hanging out.  I’m a writer, so, a productive evening is a wonderful one.  I also like spending time with my lovely girlfriend, or having a group of friends over for games and brew.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Life and the acts involved in living.  I am always on the lookout for good ideas and usually have a number of things simmering in the back burners.  My girlfriend says that I’m always thinking about writing in one way or another and that she’s learned to recognize when I space out and continue the conversation when I come back to reality.  Have I mentioned how awesome she is?

What do you do when you get a writer's block? 
I write.  Either in that work or something else.  Defy the empty page!  Worry about fixing what is broken once it exists!  If you don’t believe in writer’s block, it can’t believe in you.

Who is your favorite author?
I’m going to continue my trend of defiance and list several (in no particular order).  Brandon Sanderson, Kevin J Anderson, James Artemis Owen, Jim Butcher, JD Robb & Richelle Mead.  I’ve learned something from almost everything I’ve ever read.  Those folks in particular have taught me a lot.  I’m blessed enough to call some of them friends, and the lessons they have taught me off the page have been invaluable.

Best book you ever read. 
I made a joke about this earlier in the interview, and now you’ve done it!  I’ll behave this time, I promise.  If I had to pick one book, I’d say it’s The Way of Kings.  I’m not normally an epic fantasy guy, but the craftsmanship is exquisite, and there was one moment that garnered a great (both in appeal and magnitude) emotional reaction from me.  Books should make you feel, and this one did.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
My mother.  She taught me to read, and in so doing taught me that I have to work hard for success or it has no meaning.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Benjamin Franklin.  He is a man who wore many hats, helped shape the future of several countries, and was brilliant.  I don’t know what I’d want to ask him, but rather shake his hand and buy him a beer.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Read and write a great deal, almost constantly if you can manage it.  Study your craft, your strengths and weaknesses, and then consciously seek to improve both.  When you look back on your old stuff and think that it is crap, take a moment to feel wonder at the realization.  When you wrote it, it was brilliant, right?  How much have you improved to realize that it is not?  Fear the day you look back and think you no longer can improve.

Media Outlets:

@NathanBarra on Twitter