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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Nov 30, 2018

Henry David Thoreau said: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you imagined."

In this episode's interview, Mark speaks with musician and writer Tommy Ray about how he had done just that. They talk about Tommy's experience of how he took a dream (an actual dream) and transitioned it into reality by listening to his heart and trusting his instincts in recreating his life.

Before the interview Mark shares a quick personal update that includes:

  • Being interviewed by Joanna Penn for a forthcoming episode of The Creative Penn podcast, which will air on Dec 24, 2018
  • A shout-out to Patrons of the show who support this podcast via - By saving up the monthly funds Mark was able to order a higher quality microphone for the podcast
  • The printed proof copies of THE 7 P'S OF PUBLISHING SUCCESS that Mark sourced locally, but will be distributing to all retailers as a POD file through Draft2Digital's new beta D2DPRINT option
  • The "Kobo Publishing: Getting Your Book Featured" Webinar Mark will be hosting via Reedsy Live on Wed Dec 5th

Mark then shares a word about the podcast's sponsor, Findaway Voices . . .In their chat, Mark and Tommy talk about:

  • The origin of Tommy's dream mid year in 2015 that had him jumping into his pickup truck and traveling across America to play and share his music
  • How Tommy was also inspired by books from authors Paulo Coehlo and Dan Millman as well as music from artists like Cat Stevens
  • How long music has been a part of Tommy's life (including a memorable photo of Tommy as a young child standing next to a guitar)
  • The concept of being "meant to live a creative life"
  • Music Tommy wrote that was derived from the experience of following the creative dream
  • The preplanning that involved reaching out to 100 venues Tommy had intended on playing in (but not having heard back from any of them)
  • The two award nominations that Tommy rec'd prior to his trip (which altered his trip from a full year to 7 week one, where he drove through 15 trips and clocked 9,000 miles)
  • Zama (population 36), the town where Tommy was born and where his father lived most of his life
  • How Tommy's experience as a musician intertwines with his creative writing
  • The extensive research that Tommy did to teach himself writing, and to learn about publishing and how to find support, such as editors and cover designers for his books
  • Tommy's use of 3 editors on his book RAMBLING ACROSS AMERICA
  • Maintaining passion, strength and integrity when the road is difficult
  • Tommy's temporary return to a day job where he currently is: St. Croix of the US Virgin Islands
  • The preference Tommy has for playing his own music rather than playing cover songs at the local bar
  • The way that being on stage as a musician is easier for Tommy than the prose he shares via the page
  • The new series of dark/horror fiction that Tommy has started writing, inspired by actual dreams and actual mental and emotional torment, starting with the book MIRROR OF PERCEPTION
  • How you should never take this life for granted and how you can leave your mark on this world in a positive and optimistic way

After the interview, Mark talks about Tommy's creativity and his relentless optimism and passion for living a creative life. He finds it fitting that, at the same time he was producing this episode he was watching his friend Julie Strauss post updates about the catch-up she has been doing on her latest novel for NaNoWriMo. 

What Mark loves about the past week of writing sprints in which Julie is trying to catch up for some lost writing time during the month, that love is that, as frustrated and restless as she is, she hasn't once stopped digging into the work with all her heart and soul. And she is turning the angst into hilarious and cheeky updates so many other writers are cheering her on for while being entertained by her musings of the writer's struggle.

Mark then plays a short sample of Tommy's song Zama, reflecting on the creative life and the places we have all called home, lived in and loved.

Links of Interest:


Tommy Ray chooses to become an author to create value and inspiration to the world. He desires all to leave their mark, do not take this life for granted, as well as never give up on your dreams. He has always been inspired by travel adventure tales of real-life journeys.

He always had a voice inside of him telling him he desired to live his life through a creative voice. For many years, he ignored the voice to follow other endeavors, but the voice was always there and increasing in volume.

Tommy loves to travel, write, compose, blog along with performing. He decided it was how he desired to spend his life. “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations,”-Unknown.

To add to his catalog, he recently created the “Amid the Blackness” series. Short stories which fall in the suspense category. Keep a look-out for upcoming music from Tommy Ray along with future books as “The Country Boy.”