Tag Archives: Q&A

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September’s are up, October’s scheduled! Visit my homepage for details.

Guest Spotlight with Adventure Lifestyle Photographer Joey MacLennan

Joey is one of the chillest people I know – And his photos blow me away…

I was thrilled to catch him on a break from climbing mountains to get this interview, so I could learn more about the artist side of the guy who’s marrying my niece next year. Here’s our conversation.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Which means your photographs already say so much about you, Joey. It also means that this is a great opportunity to learn more. Can you first share a bit about how you came to love photography and your background?

I grew up in Northern California in a family that loved to get outdoors. Whether it was fishing, camping, or just barbecuing, we spent a lot of our time outside with others. This instilled a love for nature and being able to share that space with the people in my life. Photography was something my grandfather was a natural at, but it came to me before I even knew he had a passion for it when he was a young adult. I didn’t really start to shoot consistently and develop my own style until I was a sophomore in college. From there it inspired me to pursue more remote places. Documenting and sharing my experiences with my friends and family then became my routine. 

D – I for one appreciate that you share such amazing things with us through your lens, and how special is that to discover your grandfather enjoyed the same thing.

Obviously, you have a love for the adventurous life and the outdoors. But besides that, what inspired you to make it your preferred genre?

I realized that every time I’d reach the city limit, breathing  in the fresh mountain air and finding a sense of solitude, I would feel a sense of good energy rush over me. Simply put, at this stage in my life, I got happier when I could escape the chaos within the city. 

Engaging in the kind of epic art you do, it must be hard to focus on the business end of things. I know for me, I could hide away and write all day long. But it doesn’t pay the bills. What are the top three tips you can share to help creators balance their passion in art with other aspects of life?

Honestly, I’m still not very good at selling myself regarding my art. However, I have always worked hard with various jobs I’ve held to allow me to continue doing what makes me happy. I’d say it should be a big priority to take the time to reflect on why you do the things you do. Spend time creating the space to really think about the why. Once you can find a strong reason, it is easier to make the choices that set you up for success.

It has been a lot of fun watching you and Ana taking all those steps and finding your niche while you’re young.

The kind of photographs you take require being in the right place at the right time. What are your tips and preferred techniques for getting those great shots? 

Do what others are not willing to do. It’s not my phrase, but it’s something I’ve seen ring true more times than not. More specifically, if you put yourself in good positions to get those perfect conditions by hiking through the night or waking up before the sun, you’ll be provided with more opportunities to get a great photo.

D – I love that you have a passion for film cameras. Can you tell us about your favorite equipment? How much do you haul around trying to get those shots? Does Leo help out? Sorry, but I had to get a mention in for your awesome German Shepherd, whom I’ve known since he was a pup.

I’ve always focused more on the action of taking the photos and not on the gear I use to get there. That being said I use a Leica M6 primarily for 35mm film and a Pentax 67 for 120mm film (medium format film). Leo doesn’t help much, it’s a surprise I don’t charge him rent at this point haha.

You’re originally from California, and explored the beauty of that state and the surrounding ones extensively with your camera. What compelled you to make your home in the Pacific Northwest? Are there other parts of the country… or the world you’d like to explore?

 I needed a change from where I was living. My fiancé(Ana) and I were living in Sacramento California, but we were constantly traveling north to Oregon and Washington. We both decided it would be fun to simply pick up and move. Not a whole lot more thought went into it at that time. Just a spontaneous choice that left us very happy. 

As far as other parts of the world, I’d love to see as much as I can in my life. Scotland and Ireland are higher on the list because of mine and Ana’s family history there. 

D. I’ve experienced that kind of spontaneous move myself, and often it’s the best kind. Still, I’ve never been to Washington State, and that’s another reason I enjoy your photos. But I will come for a visit and a tour one of these days haha. I sincerely hope you get to travel abroad with my niece someday… And though I’ve said it in person, congratulations on your upcoming marriage!

What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?

Attempting to climb Mt. Tahoma (Rainier) and learning a lot about the mental toughness it takes to document the experience while being fairly uncomfortable. 

D – I love that. Can you share a little more about what you took away from the experience?

Yeah, it was one of those experiences that shows you how much you don’t know, the more you know haha. Basically being physically fit is only a small percentage of climbs like Rainier. The rest is about maintaining a positive outlook when setting up camp in the snow, the sun is going down, and your beginning to get weary of how cold you’ve gotten. Thankfully I have amazing friends with more experience and who were able to show me little tricks to make life smoother out there. 

What are you most excited about in the next year?

I plan to race my first Ultra marathon this year, along with a few others soon after. I’ve developed a love for all forms of movement in the mountains. Running and climbing are simply amazing, and they’ve taken over my life haha. 

D – It shows in your photographs. Wow! All the best in those endeavors.

Where do you want to be as a photographer in five years?

I’ve come to learn that I’m happy just having a camera around and not taking it too seriously. I decided not to worry whether or not I make a living with photography, but rather just to enjoy it for what it is. A passion.

D – I am truly happy that you get to follow your passion freely. Again, it shows in your work. 

Do you offer your art commercially? If so, where can we find it?

I have a print shop where I occasionally add new photos too. I’d like to open a new selection this year and use the funds to donate for ALS research. My lifelong friend’s mother has bulbar ALS and has been showing immense strength in her fight against it. That shop will be available through my website at joeymaclennanphoto.com

D – That is another wonderful reason to follow Joey and watch for those photos. Where can we find you besides your website

Instagram is basically my only other online presence. That is @joeymaclennan 

Any parting advice to those who dream about pursuing a creative and/or an adventurous life?

Get outside, care about the environment, and don’t be afraid to fail in pursuit of things that make you feel alive. 

D – Great advice! Thank so much for dropping by, Joey.

Thanks for talking with me!

Click on any photo to link to Joey’s website and don’t forget to follow him on Instagram for those inspiring posts!

Join me here Sunday for my next Guest Spotlight Q&A

Joey came off a mammoth peak to chat with me.

Join our conversation to get a glimpse into the lifestyle of an adventure lifestyle photographer.

Joey MacLennan Photography

Meet Author E. B. Hunter on my Guest Spotlight this Sunday

Meet Indie Author Douglas W. T. Smith

Douglas W. T. Smith is the self-published author of Shadow of the Wicked, which ranked on Amazon’s Top 5 List in Dark Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery eBooks in 2021. Hailing from Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia, he is one of the CORE authors for Of Metal and Magic Publishing with a debut core novel To Wield the Stars due in 2022.

Between writing and reading fantasy stories, Douglas embarks on adventures in nature with his wife, son, and beloved dog.

We had an awesome Q&A session, and I’m sharing it with you here. Keep on reading…

  • Tell us about yourself. We would love to hear how you became a fiction writer and your life that led up to it.

It’s kind of a strange story. I had always dabbled in creative writing and reading books, but it wasn’t until a friend showed me Lord of the Rings. At the time I was at university, and I was studying something that I wasn’t enjoying, so after watching LotR I fell in love with the lore and Middle-Earth. After devouring the movies, I had an epiphany. I wanted to write an epic story like J.R.R. Tolkien. So, I started writing my first book. I wrote the first 100 pages and showed it to my friend. There were many inconsistencies, and it heavily mimicked The Hobbit. I was a bit devastated but then I began looking at online writing courses to improve my writing and discovered that I could change my university degree to Creative Writing and English Literature. Since then, I haven’t looked back. Writing stories is a part of my life and it will be something I want to pass on to my children.

Thanks so much for sharing that. What a great way to look at your writing career, as a legacy. 

  • Can you share more about your Works in Progress? What are your plans for a full-fledged novel? Or do you prefer a shorter format? Are there any other plans you’d like to share?  Any more stories for Jaromir and Talmage?

Shadow of the Wicked’s audiobook has taken up a bit of my time and I’m so happy to release that on all audiobook platforms. Outside of SotW, I’m currently in the last edits of my debut novel, To Wield the Stars. It will be published this year by OMAM Publishing in a shared universe. I’m pretty excited with that because I’ve been working on it for quite a while.

With Shadow of the Wicked, I wanted to write in the short form because I wanted to test my writing ability and see if I could write a story and keep it within the short form.

I have started the first draft for a novel in the same world–The Three Kingdoms. I have plans to write more stories for Jaromir and Talmage but I’m not sure what stories they have to tell. Maybe something as a ‘before event’ to follow their life story.

Congratulations on the audiobook release and I can’t wait to check out To Wield the Stars. What an intriguing title! Can you give us a little description/teaser?

Thank you. I’m happy with the title but I’m more excited about releasing the book cover, which you’ll have to wait and see when I do the release. 

Here is the elevator pitch for TWTS. 

Two sisters are separated across continents from an attack of a dragonlord and its army.

  • What drew you to sword and sorcery and dark fantasy writing? Do you write or want to write in other genres?

I have always loved fantasy. I played fantasy games and read a lot of fantasy. It only seemed natural to start writing fantasy stories. As I began writing, I discovered the sub-genres of fantasy and sword and sorcery felt natural to write.

  • Are you a full-time author? If not, how do you balance writing and other work?

I would love to be a full-time author but unfortunately, I’m not. I make time for writing. I get up early at 5am and write–or do writerly things–and I’m up late. I don’t sleep much but I try to work around my family and lifestyle outside writing.

  • With a little one around the house, what are your tips for finding time to write while sharing life with a young family?

Create time. If you want it, make time to write. There’s a quote from Stephen King.

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

It is all about time management. If you want to write stories, write them–even if no one will read them. There’s a lot of times during the day you can sneak in a quick writing/ editing session. 

  • What’s your advice or thoughts about getting involved in writing communities and reaching readers through supporting other writers?

I think writing communities are essential to make it as an author. Whether it be online or physical, the interaction and motivation from these communities are invaluable. It can open opportunities, grow your reader audience, and boost your author profile like this interview!

These opportunities can be a lot of fun, too, and I’m thrilled to have you here today. 

  • What is the writing community like in Australia and New South Wales, in particular? Do you get to participate in local events? Is Australia your primary market, or are you reaching other markets?

In my local area, it’s a hard community to crack. The demographics are a lot different from the city. However, in Sydney the events are fantastic, and the community is a lot stronger, but I did find more success and community engagement from my online platforms.

  • What’s your advice about focusing on the best social media platforms, sorting through all the noise, to make what you do count?

I think the bare minimum for an author is to have a website. If you turn that into a blog–even better. My best advice for handling social media is do it within your means. If you can only commit to 1 or 2 social accounts that’s okay. At the end of the day, we can only do what we have time for and what we prioritize. If you have edits to do to finish your novel and your time schedule is tight, prioritize what you want first. During your marketing plan, I think it’s absolutely necessary to be present on social media–whether that’s one or two accounts–if you want to sell books.

  • Do you recommend Patreon for burgeoning writers? What are your top tips for starting one up? Same question for creating a website, newsletter, or YouTube channel. Any plans to expand?

I have a Patreon account and to be honest it’s okay, but it comes back to my previous answer–if you have the time to commit then by all means. With my experience, I think Patreon will be successful later on as I build more of a reader audience and have more time to offer exclusive deals but for now, I give free stories, merchandise and editing opportunities on my Patreon Tiers. (So, if you want to sign up, there’s some great options!)

I’ve recently signed up to Story Origin and I think that’s another essential for authors. It’s a platform to do newsletter swaps to grow your mailing list. I think it’s fantastic and all authors should have a mailing list.

Awesome advice and great suggestions. Thank you. It helps to hear from someone who has navigated so many of the choices we’re faced with.

If you want to get exclusive stories and content, or know when Douglas’ next book will come out, visit his patreon.com/douglaswtsmith and sign up. See below for more ways to follow Douglas.

  • What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?

My biggest highlight of last year was publishing Shadow of the Wicked. To finally self-publish a book and call myself an author.

That is a great accomplishment. What was the main thing that prompted you to self-publish?

Thank you. The main thing that prompted me to self-publish was building my mailing list. I wanted to give out short stories as a reader magnet but as I began writing the story of Talmage and Jaromir, the narrative took control, and it became a lot bigger than I expected. I grew more in love with the world I was creating and the characters that I felt that Shadow of the Wicked needed to be published as a novella. 

  • Where do you want to be as a writer in five years?

I want to be a full-time writer. I want to publish a minimum 1 book a year.

Awesome! Follow Douglas in the links below to stay on top of his upcoming works!

  • Any parting advice to those who dream about writing?

Find time to write. Get up 10-15mins early to write or on your lunch break. All those small increments of writing, sand grains, create a beach. It takes time so make the time. It’s a marathon not a sprint––unless it’s a writing sprint.

Great recommendations! And that makes me think of another question. I’ve been discovering just this summer the value of flash fiction and short story challenges. Tell us about your favorite writing challenges. Will you be hosting any like the writing sprints you mentioned?

I used to do short story challenges. For example, each month the Australian Writers’ Centre does a short story challenge, Furious Fiction. It was great to get the creative juices flowing if they were going stale and stagnant. I haven’t done one in a long time because I’ve had a full schedule but if I ever fall behind in my book ideas, or writing–I know where to go. 

I’ve spoken to the head of the FSF Writer’s Alliance about hosting a writing sprint but I’m waiting to hear back from him. I love writing sprints. I did a couple on Twitter and TikTok, but I want to do it on Instagram as a live stream.

When I did the sprint, I wanted the participants to do something writing related. I know it’s called a writing sprint but if you weren’t drafting a story, I wanted writer’s to at least edit their book or have it related to their current project––without the distractions and with a community. 

Follow Douglas:

Find Douglas W. T. Smith on his:

Website, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Patreon

Click on Douglas’s book to find it on Amazon

For a fun video Interview, check out the conversation with Douglas and our friend from the U.K., dark fantasy author Anna K. Moss.

You can discover more about Anna and her exciting new book here. Anna and I will be having our own conversation in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned!

More about my featured Spotlights

I hope you enjoyed meeting Douglas and getting a glimpse into the life of an Indie Author for some fun and inspiration in your own creative journey. I will be featuring more of my fellow Writers’ Alliance members, other authors, artists, and creators right here, so please like this post and follow me to keep on top of the latest. Feel free to leave comments.

My next guest will be a writer of horror fiction from Canada, E. B. Hunter. If you would like to be featured, shoot me an email. I would love to meet you. Please visit my pages for more about me and my books while you’re here. Thank you so much for dropping in.