First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m John Rakestraw, My wonderful wife, Toni, and I, run an online editing company called Unbridled Editor, http://unbridlededitor.com/. Our goal is to help writers be the best that they can be. I have worn many hats in my day. Actor, hydro-ceramic engineer (dishwasher), computer sales, retail employee, office worker, food services, phone rep and all kinds of customer service. My day job now is being a school bus driver.
One of my biggest passions was, and still is, live theatre. To take a character that is written by a playwright and bring it to life on stage is one of the greatest creative things I have ever done. Being creative has helped me get through many of the tough times in my life. I have occasionally hidden from my problems in life by doing a show and escaping into that make believe world of the stage. How theatre has helped me in my life is the way that we have to reinvent ourselves from time to time. When you create a character for the show you are in, you have the framework the playwright has set forth; from that you build your unique outlook for this person. That is how I look at my “real” life, I have a framework to start from, my past, the things I’ve learned and the many people I had the great fortune to have worked with and who have enriched my life. These building blocks are your base, from there the sky is the limit. I think it’s a shame that we make 16 to 18 year olds decide what a 40 year old should be doing with their lives. We need to give ourselves the green light to grow and explore the possibilities that are open to us and have the strength and wisdom to know that the path is still wide open for us to delve into.
It’s about 30 to 45 minutes long… ;-} No, seriously! John Rakestraw, host of his own BlogTalkRadio.com show… The Platform! I bring you a 1/2 hour course in being a published writer by interviewing real authors. I show you their process in the craft of writing: how they get all those words on the page, their passion, how they got published and the magic of it all. I do the show live at 10:30 AM West Coast Time on Saturdays and Sundays. Interview archives for your listening pleasure are on our blog, Unbridled Editor.
How did the show come about? Why a radio show? Have you been in radio before?
The last Presidential election, in 2008, got me thinking. I’d been a political junkie for a long time and I hated that so many talking heads were telling each other what we think, how we look at the issues and I got tired of all of them talking for the rest of us. So, finally, in March of 2010, my wife told me about BlogTalkRadio. I thought, well here is my chance to tell the world my view on all the issues out there. My oldest daughter came up with the name, Shut Up and Think! I started doing my political talk show and started blogging about it. I thought I could start a dialogue between the different sides and pull us all together so that we could work on the real issues. By May of 2010, I found that the sides didn’t what to listen to each other, didn’t care to have dialogue at all. What I got was… Shut up and who gives a crap what you think! So, I stopped… What I did learn was that people were really hurting, angry and needed hope. Lost jobs, lost income and loss of homes. We needed someone to step forward with a plan. I thought what the hell, I will be this person! By the summer of 2010, the US of A had lost over 8 million jobs. I found a company that offered people the chance to make money just by changing stores. No, not Amway… It was called Melaleuca. I figured I could get 8 people to change stores; they could all get 8 people and so on and so on… My great plan was by the end of summer, 2010, I could have 8 million people working for themselves having an income and a healthier, wealthier and wiser life style. Well, it didn’t happen. Great company, great products, but people didn’t want to sign up. I turned my BlogTalkRadio show into a place where I helped people become independent, have their own income and we would control our destiny. I sucked at it. I would tell people too much, give them too much info and they never showed up. By November of 2010, I went back to my roots… acting! My wife, Toni, who, as luck would have it, is one fantastic editor and proofreader, started talking about starting a company to do all of that. I once again changed the BlogTalkRadio show. We would talk about editing, self-publishing and I would do dramatic readings of the classics. By December of 2010, I had to have an hernia surgery, which slowed down my output of shows. I did Sherlock Holmes, O’Henry, Twain, A Christmas Carol and a few shows about writing. By February 2011, I had no idea where to go with the show, I thought about talking about cloud computing. I did a few YouTube videos and some radio shows. Nothing was clicking…then my wonderful wife reminded me that I had promised to interview this writer. I thought, okay I’ll do this and get it out of the way. So, I got ahold of the writer to see if she was still willing. I read her book and looked at her blog. She wanted to know what I was going to ask, she wanted the questions beforehand. I came up with the some quick questions:
1. Are you an outliner or a seat of your pants type writer?
2. How did you get published/ What is it like working with a small publisher?
3. Do you set a time to write or do you play it by ear?
4. Do you write on a computer or do you use a pen and paper?
5. Why do you write?
6. What are you passionate about?
Finally, at the end of March, Toni made me do the interview. I kept thinking, WHY? But, since we said we would, I felt I should…
Now, I’m a performer. I hate to look and sound bad. I remember watching some of the Actor Studio interviews with James Lipton. I wanted the interview to be okay and make the author happy that we talked. I would do this just once, show my wife that I was a waste of time at this, and go back to just talking to the air.
I didn’t want the author to just pitch her book and run. Instead, I hoped that we could talk about the process of writing… the craft itself. Have a dialogue between us and maybe the listeners. Maybe I would finally get that dialogue thing going, just once.
That day was March 22nd, 2011: “Your host John Rakestraw has the great pleasure of interviewing the author of Expectations, Liz Borino! Expectations, released by Lazy Day Publishing, is her debut ebook, depicting the struggle between what we desire for ourselves and our familial obligations.”
I started the show, not knowing how I was going to make it work. I read the story. It was good and I liked it. It was good writing, great characters and I cared about them. I gave Liz a good intro and we started to talk.
Now up to this point, I had only talked to one other person on my show. Nice guy, he had paid for the air time to promote his book. It was a long commercial for his product. He has a great message and people do need his product. But, it wasn’t a dialogue.
Liz Borino and I had a talk; we had a dialogue between us. I learned about how she writes, how she got published and I found out about her passion. I found the one element missing from my show… the dialogue!
I found my passion while asking someone else about theirs. Five minutes in and I was hooked. I found my calling. If I had it all to do over again, I would have done talk radio. So, in a way, my whole life has led to this moment. All the theatre and public speaking I’ve done has brought me to this show. The Platform; http://www.blogtalkradio.com/johnrakestraw.
I have haven’t worked on any radio station. I have been interview on a live radio show for a play that I was doing at the time.
How do you find authors to interview? Are there any special requirements?
My wife Toni is the one who has found 95% of all the writers, through her connections as an editor and blog tours, and then there is word of mouth from author to author. Twitter has been a great area to connect and meet other writers. Social media is a fantastic tool for starting the dialogue with the indie authors and traditional authors out there.
No, there are no special requirements. I will talk with anyone who has a passion about their craft, whether it’s writing, publishing, photography, acting, art, singing, song writing, playwrights, etc and etc. I would love to have a dialogue with as many artists as possible. At this moment we are booked for the next 3 months with interviews. If you are interested in being on our show, just go to the following link and pick an open date. We would be happy to pencil you in. http://unbridlededitor.com/radio-interview-schedule
To date, what has been your most memorable interview?
This is really hard… I have had the pleasure to not only talk to all these wonderful writers, I have also been blessed to be able to read their words, meet their characters and live in their worlds.
One of the many people who have allowed me into their “real” world is Sean Hayden. What makes him stand out is the fact that he writes some of his stories with son. They have enough of a relationship between them to create four books together. That is just beautiful.
Morgan Gallagher is another remarkable interview; as a family, we have had the pleasure to edit, format her eBook and print book and create her front and back cover art.
Then there is A. T. Russell, a fantastic man, who I had the pleasure of having as my second person to interview, plus I’ve had him on the show twice. He doesn’t have a book out in publication, yet! His first book should be out in early 2012. Yet, he is still the most popular interviewee.
I must apologize to all my interviewees… each and every one of you are remarkable, I wish I could talk about each and every one of you here. You have all brought such passion and wonder to my show. I call it a Master Class in Writing from the Masters themselves… the Writers.
What is next for the blogtalkradio show?
I’m really looking to make the show a place where you go to hear writers talk about the craft of writing.
I would love to put together round tables with a group of writers talking in depth about the wonders and issues of being published, marketing, putting all those words to the page, self-publishing and the thousand and one other topics that writers want to talk and know about.
I want to push the Master Class idea and work with writers, publishers and editors to make more in depth recordings. These wonderfully talented people have a lot to offer each other out there.
What else are you and your wife doing online these days?
All day long it’s nothing but Angry Birds and Farmville… kidding! ;-}
Actually, we are always working on new things and finding better ways to help writers out there. Our whole thrust in life is to help writers be the best that they can be! Which in turn makes us be the best we can be for you. We are constantly reading books and articles about the craft of writing so we can keep on top of the trends in the market. We offer full service editing, proofreading, book covers, and formatting for both ebooks and print. We are constantly upgrading our skills in the different formats out there so we can do our best for our authors.
For fun, we use the internet to supply us with our nightly entertainment, and we love using Netflix and Hulu. The kids keep us up to date on the latest cool YouTube videos and what’s going on in the video game world.
Writing and publishing has been a major through line in our lives. Toni would always correct the street signs and ads we’d see along the road. She would even correct her English teacher’s handouts and hand them back to him!
Every writer needs an editor. An editor provides fresh eyes, experience with grammar, syntax and format, and encouragement when you need it most. The writer–editor relationship is symbiotic; the writer provides the text and the editor brings out the best in the writer.
Do you have a manuscript that needs polishing? We are happy to work on fiction or non-fiction manuscripts. We also edit websites, articles and documents. Our rates are reasonable and you have your choice of basic proofreading, copy editing and proofreading, or substantive editing that may lead into rewriting. If we find that your project needs more work than originally estimated, we will bring this up to see if you want to upgrade accordingly. Get ahold of us at http://unbridlededitor.com/.
Toni has a built-in passion for editing; she subconsciously edits everything from the time she wakes up until she goes to sleep. She has spent time honing her craft so she can follow your style sheet or apply Chicago or AP style to your project as you wish.
She has edited several publications over the years and has helped several writers polish their manuscripts. Toni is happy to help you as much as possible to make your work as good as it can be.
Our other staff members can meet your needs by cleaning up digital graphics or by formatting your book in the proper styles for the most popular e-readers on the market. Let us know what you need and we’ll do our best for you.
We have always had books in our lives, Toni and I would drive from theatre to theatre in the Seattle area, just to go get bread was a 45 minute trip. Because of this time going from place to place, we bought books for Toni to read out loud for us. We still do that to this day, we are more home bodies now, but Toni reads out loud to the whole family.
What do you hope to accomplish over the next year?
I hope to win a huge lottery and move to Great Britain! I just have to remember to buy the lottery ticket, which I never seem to do! ;-}
We have taken on a huge job being the PR wing for a gentleman we know, who is marketing his How to Fight Foreclosure and learn about the misrepresentation and fraud caused by the banks and Wall Street. This is a great opportunity for us. We are going to learn how to best market and build a platform. It will be huge amount of work, but well worth all the great effort.
We want writers out there to think of us as the main place to have your book edited, formatted and get cover art.
I also hope to be one of the first stops for authors to promote their books and to talk about the magic of writing and publishing.