In this interview, Cheryl Krauter talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Odyssey of Ashes: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Letting Go.
“Honor your journey.” ~Cheryl Krauter
In this interview, Cheryl Krauter talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Odyssey of Ashes: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Letting Go.
“Honor your journey.” ~Cheryl Krauter
In this interview, Ryan Foland talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book co-authored with Leonard Kim, Ditch the Act: Reveal the Surprising Power of the Real You for Greater Success.
“Successful people are doing what everyone can do, but which not everyone does.” ~Ryan Foland
As a sailor, Ryan’s analogy for his life is that he “ran into storms,” noting that, as a sailor, one doesn’t have control over the weather or the wind. Ryan admits that there are things in his past that he hid, as he learned that, to be successful, one needs to hide such things and to focus only on “the good stuff.” This is not possible nowadays, he remarks, adding that his co-author, Leonard Kim, “gained traction” only when the latter began sharing his failures as they happened - the complete opposite of what Ryan was doing. That partnership with Leonard enabled Ryan to understand the importance of opening up with others. This enabled him to own the things in his life that went wrong, and also made him realize how those events shaped who he has become. This, in turn, has enabled people to get to know him better compared to when he was still putting on an act. Doing so, he comments, allows people to see themselves in oneself, which “releases the pressure valve,” as one becomes more relatable to others.
“Narrogance” is when naivete and arrogance combine, and both Ryan and Leonard have experienced this. Narrogance is about the emphasis being on image and how people see one in the world being different from what is actually going on in one’s life, as well as of not asking for help. “That disconnect is something that really eats away at your soul,” Ryan notes, adding that there was a time when he owned a Range Rover with 22” rims and a Mercedes SL500 and wore suits and had all the other accoutrements of success, while he was having a difficult time paying his bills “behind the scenes.” It got to a point where Ryan felt he needed to file for bankruptcy, and needed to ask his parents for money to mail in the bankruptcy papers; and it was when he heard the slamming of the mailbox door, when he dropped his papers in, that it finally hit him that he had failed. His bankruptcy papers were returned, however, because he was short 32 cents, and Ryan saw it as a sign at a second chance, so he ripped up the paperwork and rebuilt his life from there.
Narrogance is all about “keeping up with the Kardashians,” according to Ryan, who points out that people have a perception of themselves as they want to show up in the world, which comes back to wanting to belong to a particular crowd, particularly with a crowd whose members seem to be successful. Ryan remarks that wealth, success and appearance don’t give a clear indication of what happens “behind the scenes,” remarking that there are several apparently successful people have shown themselves up to not be the successes they appeared to be after an overdose, accident or suicide.
On a more personal level, Ryan brought up the subject of people not being honest with their bosses for fear of the latter judging them. He notes that, if a person doesn’t communicate the challenges in their life, such as a relative who needs a lot of care, then that person’s boss can’t help that person out, to the point of the boss thinking that the person isn’t doing their job well. On the other hand, the boss might be able to help out if the person lets the boss know what is going on. This kind of dissonance, Ryan remarks, eventually grows and comes out “in pretty unhealthy ways.”
“Everyone has a personal brand,” Ryan remarks; “they just don’t know it.” One’s personal brand, he adds, isn’t just what one wants to be known for, but the intersection of this as well as what one has been in the past. He notes, as an example, researching on someone on the Internet, and then trying to “connect the dots” with what one has researched with one’s impressions when an actual meeting takes place. What makes a personal brand “exciting” is that one has control over some aspects of it, as well as having no control over other aspects. This, Ryan notes, creates an opportunity for people to get a better idea of who a person really is. He also explained the concept of “brand crumbs,” which are bits of information - such as a blog or a podcast - which sheds a little light on the person concerned as well as allows others to participate in the narrative. Everyone, Ryan adds, has a personal brand; it’s just that most people don’t offer the opportunity for others to participate in that personal brand.
Brands also change over time, with Ryan pointing out that the brand crumbs of kids change as they grow up, as an example. “The mistake people make,” he notes, “is that, when you’re branding your personal brand as an adult, they tend to either neglect or ignore or bury everything that’s happened in the past.” By someone focusing only on that person’s successes, Ryan believes, others cannot relate to such successes, and showing one’s vulnerabilities and struggles help others relate to the success reached.
Being transparent and showing one’s vulnerabilities is commonly seen as a weakness, but Ryan points out that doing so is actually a sign of courage. This offers the opportunity for sharing with others, and as Ryan remarks: “Somebody’s got to go first,” adding that others will chime in after that, and that people will be there for one after that. He also notes that everyone has experienced failure, and that people don’t know how to show these in such a way that others will know who one is; and this is what Ditch the Act is all about, so that one can build one’s brand authentically, rather than by “hacks and apps.”
Purchase from Amazon: Ditch the Act: Reveal the Surprising Power of the Real You for Greater Success by Leonard Kim and Ryan Foland
In this interview, Jean-Pierre Isbouts talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, In the Footsteps of Jesus: A Chronicle of His Life and the Origins of Christianity.
“It’s hard to quibble with historical and archaeological data.” ~Jean-Pierre IsboutsIn the Footsteps of Jesus: A Chronicle of His Life and the Origins of Christianity.
Jean-Pierre is a professor in a Ph.D. program and has supervised several dissertations, and has worked with such talents as Leonard Nimoy, Charlton Heston and Morgan Freeman. He is into both filmmaking and scholarly works, as he believes that 21st century scholars shouldn’t focus only on peer-reviewed work, as scholars need to “speak the language” of the 21st century - video, streaming and the like - to “evangelize” their ideas. He thus makes video works on topics which, as a scholar, interest him, and this is advice he gives to his students in the present day. “It’s such a different world,” he remarks when he compares how easy access to information is today compared to when he was in college, “but it also demands more of us. This kind of access also raises the bar for scholarship.”
Jean-Pierre is interested in Biblical archaeology, as he came of age at a time when the Old City of Jerusalem was occupied by the Israelis, which opened up new opportunities for archaeologists to investigate, forensically, what the gospels and Hebrew works talk about. This is because the Bible is a book of faith, rather than a scientific text, and he is interested in the interconnection between science and faith - which has been the driving force behind his interest in Biblical archaeology. (Jean-Pierre is also interested in the Renaissance and 19th century Europe, and has done work on these.)
When he writes about Biblical works and times, Jean-Pierre focuses on writing about history, pointing out that history is something that all religions can agree on. This non-denominational approach, as well as his respect for the traditions of various faiths, has allowed him to be invited into places of worship in different faiths, such as mosques and synagogues alike. This historical-based approach allows for interesting conversations, Jean-Pierre notes, which enlighten and heighten peoples’ faith, pointing out that his research has brought him closer to Jesus in his personal life (Jean-Pierre is a practicing Christian). What he reports are a matter of record, based on available evidence, and this approach, he notes, is something that will deepen one’s understanding of the life and times of Jesus, as well as of the man himself.
The first edition of In the Footsteps of Jesus was a follow-up book to The Biblical World, and in both books Jean-Pierre attempted to put together the political and social environment of the time. The latter book turned out to be an unexpected (to him) bestseller, and he decided to apply that same approach to In the Footsteps of Jesus. A second edition was necessary because of new information that has come out since the first edition.
There is a broad and growing scholarship on the life of the historical Jesus, while Jean-Pierre has focused on the historical framework, and this gives a great deal of insight into the events of the day, as well as on the writing themselves. The evangelists, for example, wrote for an audience in the Roman Empire, both Jews and Gentiles, rather than for Palestinians; and the Jews and Gentiles had their own ideas and expectations about a messianic figure which needed to be spoken to and addressed. This resulted in a gradual change of image of Jesus, from that of a Greek philosopher to the Son of God (which is a common concept of Greco-Roman thought) - images which were not in accord with the tenets of Judaism and the original movement in Palestine. Jean-Paul notes that this viewpoint was the reason the Jews resisted accepting Jesus, particularly since he was seen as a rebel and a revolutionary who was killed like any other common criminal, and the reason why the evangelists focused on Gentiles, who were searching for a new kind of spirituality which was more responsive than the Roman polytheistic religion then practiced. The Jesus movement filled that gap, and it was from there that Christianity emerged.
By the standards of the ancient world - a time without the printing press or mass communications, where information was heavily controlled by the rulers and authorities, who were the only ones who could afford scribes - the expansion of Christianity was “a lightning strike,” growing from a small sect in a small, local area to becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire in three centuries’ time. This was spread primarily through oral tradition, which resulted in 300,000 people professing the Christian faith by the end of the first century (around a hundred years after Jesus began his ministry). Jean-Pierre also noted that, in the 9th century CE, the largest Christian territories were in Asia, which shows the appeal of someone who promised redemption to everyone.
The evangelists, historically, were accomplished scribes who lived in cities throughout the Roman Empire, which is why they aren’t familiar with Judean Galilee, and were likely commissioned by the local Christian community to put the oral traditions to paper. The earliest text is the Gospel of Mark, which is written in commoner Greek (rather than the higher, Attic Greek used for Greek sagas) and which makes him the evangelist closest to the original traditions. Jean-Pierre also notes that the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, which are written for communities familiar with Jewish customs, whereas the Gospel of John is written for non-Jews, which is why such traditions as Passover needed to be explained. That said, such documents have a universal appeal, even thousands of years later.
Where the historical Jesus is concerned, Jean-Pierre notes that second-hand witness testimony of the man - who was a common, ordinary man - is absent, because scribes only wrote about important people of the day, such as kings and wealthy people, who could afford their own burial marker or gravestone. Jean-Pierre notes that nobody contests the fact that Socrates existed, even though there is no contemporary historical evidence that he ever lived, as such evidence came from later writers as Plato. This is also the case of the historical Jesus, as well as “scores” of people in ancient times, whom we know about only from people who wrote about them well after the fact, well after they had passed on. The earliest written documents available on Jesus, Jean-Pierre notes, were written within twenty-five years after the Easter event, with the first writings of the evangelists taking place a generation later. The later Roman historians Tacitus and Seritonius wrote about the tribe of Christus, which was politically portrayed as a subversive cult, and the Jewish historian Josephus, who was brought up in a Jewish environment who could thus speak with authority on Jesus, confirmed what the Gospels spoke of. That said, such was acceptable as proof of attestation and existence in the ancient times, so this yardstick is the one that must be applied when reading about historical figures who weren’t wealthy or who weren’t rulers. Jean-Pierre also points out that there are more attestations to the historical Jesus than other figures whose past existence we take for granted.
Jean-Pierre estimates that there are around 10,000 different Christian denominations in the United States alone, and around 300,000 different denominations worldwide. This is because, he believes, because of politics, with people co-opting Christianity for their own purposes. That said, Jean-Pierre notes that Jesus wanted to recreate society, in Roman Palestine, along the Three Pillars of the Torah, namely:
Complete surrender and faith in God.
Jesus likely saw these three pillars fading away during his lifetime, Jean-Pierre notes, because of the conditions that existed in Galilee at the time. There were those who collaborated with the Roman overlords and those who did not, and Galilee itself was a socially unstable area during his time. There had been two peasant revolts, and the Herodians built great projects in Judea, such as the expansion of ports, temples, cities and strongholds, by using the money squeezed from the Galilean peasants. This resulted in the native Galileans being poor, hungry and disenfranchised, with no hope and with children who ran around in tattered clothes; and it was no surprise that Jesus’ teachings thus had a great deal of appeal to such.
For Jean-Pierre, being a Christian is all about doing what Jesus asks his followers to do, and points out that there is nothing in the book that will challenge its readers’ faith.
Purchase from Amazon: In the Footsteps of Jesus: A Chronicle of His Life and the Origins of Christianity by Jean-Pierre Isbouts
In this interview, Lee Cronbach talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his life and music.
In this interview, Darby Fox talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Rethinking Your Teenager: Shifting from Control and Conflict to Structure and Nurture to Raise Accountable Young Adults.
In this interview, Kris Holmes talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Ignite Your Career! Strategies and Tactics to Unleash Your Potential.
In this interview, Anthony Brinkley talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, You Can't Run Away from You: Journaling the Rise to Manhood: Volume 1.
“Vulnerability is not weakness, but is actually strength on display.” ~Anthony Brinkley
Anthony remarks that: “I didn’t know God, but God knew me,” adding that this truism showed up in his life with all the people who showed up at moments in his life when he needed them, such as his uncle Adolph who gave him jobs to keep an eye on him as he grew up - people who helped him become “a better version” of himself.
Anthony noted his family’s 18th birthday tradition of driving home the point that, from then on, one had to provide for themselves, and it was around then that he joined the Air Force. He served for 28 years, underwent 14 major moves and led around 100,000 people. Anthony notes that all Air Force installations are essentially small cities in themselves, which means that just about any job present in society can be found in the Air Force. He also notes that people don’t pick the people they work with, emphasizing this with a story that he once told the people he worked with that anyone out to kill them didn’t care if they were Christian, Jewish, Muslim, white, Asian or Hispanic - they were out to kill Americans, period. He thus emphasized his people treating each other with respect and as a team.
Anthony achieved the rank of E-9, the rank of Command Chief Master Sergeant, which is the highest rank possible for enlisted personnel. This meant that he had around as many responsibilities and commanded as many people as a commissioned officer. Anthony notes that non-commissioned officers - NCOs - are the ones to translate the directives set down by officers to the enlisted personnel, who are the ones who actually do the work that needs to be done. His work, as an E-9, was to lead his fellow sergeants under his command, and gave him an opportunity to serve others.
Anthony admits that he pushed people away, because of the events he experienced in his childhood, and his stay in the Air Force forced him to face up to such events, as he needed to engage with others as part of his work. “True growth and true connectivity, intimacy, is connected directly to vulnerability,” he remarks. He also notes that half of learning is learning, while the other half is unlearning what was taught wrong - the latter being something which people don’t work on. In his opinion, someone who operated by the principle, “Fake it ‘til you make it” is someone who won’t remember who he or she really is once they reach a level of success. “Face it until you make it,” he advises.
“All a crisis is, is a bunch of data,” Anthony notes, and how it is determined to be good or bad depends on how one reacts to it. The true tests in life, he says, using a school analogy, are not the scheduled tests but the pop quizzes. He thus works with people to ready for any such possible pop quizzes in life by helping them learn about themselves, so they can overcome such crises. As a pop quiz isn’t a final exam, one can study where one went wrong and then learn from it and carry it forward, Anthony adds.
Anthony admits that he would have been a “horrible employee” because he had an independent perspective on things, and this was what drove him to start his own business once he left the Air Force, and he found mentors along the way who taught him how to run a business, which enables him to help others become themselves.
Anthony advises people to accept help from the people around them, as he, himself, is living proof of how far one can go by doing so. “Fight for the life you have, and you’re here to do something special,” he notes, “even if you haven’t realized it. Make the rest of your life the best of your life.”
Purchase from Amazon: You Can't Run Away from You: Journaling the Rise to Manhood: Volume 1 by Anthony Brinkley
In this interview, Maria Espinosa talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her novel, Suburban Souls.
“Go with your instincts. Believe in yourself.” ~Maria Espinosa
Writing was something that Maria had strongly felt that she had wanted to do, even though she didn’t particularly want to write. While she wrote throughout high school, she really got into writing when she wrote out a journal during a difficult time in her life, while she was in college. She began writing stories for her friends while still in high school, and she got started by self-publishing books of her poems. Her first novel, Dark Plums, came out when she was in her forties, published by a press that she had started with some female friends, and this was picked up later on by a Hispanic publisher, whose people thought she was Hispanic, due to her name being what it was.
Maria notes that she follows the advice of Woody Allen, who says that writers should sit down and actually write, and that she also reads and sets a schedule for herself - something which, she admits, is something she finds somewhat challenging, particularly now that she’s gotten older.
Where her books are concerned, Maria remarks that her first two novels are semi-autobiographical, in that the emotions that are written about in the book are essentially her own. She also noted that the character of a Jewish man who appeared in Dark Plums was a character who she didn’t originally intend to become a main character, and that that person was someone who, later on, she would meet and who would become her second husband.
Where writing is concerned, Maria notes that doing so has enabled her to become more aware of other people, as she needs to inhabit a character fully, to know that person’s feelings, emotions and motivations, when she writes. This, in turn, enables her to understand more about herself, and when she looked back over what she wrote over the years, she notes that those writings reflect the changes she has experienced throughout her life. Writing also enables her to explore her own emotions, as she notes that a writer’s own emotions become part of the story the writer works on.
Maria is also not slowing down, despite presently being 82 years old, as she is presently writing out three novels as well as a non-fiction book on homeless people whom she interviewed - a process she describes as being something similar to “a bird building its nest.”
Maria notes the adage, “Youth would and age could,” remarking that, if she had the confidence she presently has now while she was back in her twenties, doing so could have saved her “a lot of heartache.” She also advises people to follow a quote she once heard: “Don’t let other people tell you who you are, tell other people who you are.”
Purchase from Amazon: Suburban Souls by Maria Espinosa
“Writing is one of those things where, to improve, you have to put the mileage into it.” ~Alexandra Bracken
Alex noted that, in the United States, there has been a “steep learning curve” on social issues, and this has made her more aware of such issues when she writes her books, with her taking such steps as having readers check to see how authentic her characters are. She notes, as well, that this was parallel to her growth as a person, adding that there is always something more to learn when writing, saying that: “There is always something to learn and try out.” Alex remarks that “different stories present different challenges,” which, for her, means that a writer needs to start from scratch when writing out a story with a genre or style different from that which one has written before. To improve her craft, Alex reads craft books to see what more she can learn, particularly since, when she started out, she was an intuitive writer.
Alex remarks that feedback is important for a writer, but that this is varied, as each reader brings his or her own opinions and tastes into the review. She thus focuses more on professional reviews as well as those from other authors, so she can better her craft, and gave some examples of these. That said, she also accepts non-professional reviews which help her improve her craft.
Where trying to please everybody is concerned, Alex notes that: “You can drive yourself batty,” while also adding that she cares about how people read her books. That said, where writing a novel is concerned, it takes one to two years from the start of writing to getting published, so a writer needs to be passionate about the characters and the story to maintain such an engagement for such a long time.
Alex notes that, for young adult readers, character-driven stories are important, as this audience loves emotional stories where they can connect with the characters, which helps the story resonate with them. She likes writing for young adults because the latter live at a time in their lives where a lot of things are “high stakes,” and where young adults experience such “firsts” such as first love and first taste of freedom, particularly since they are finding out who they are and what they want to be.
Although Lore is based on Greek mythology, Alex has also included themes of the importance of confronting one’s personal past, and the past in general, to move on to a better future. Another theme of the book is the pursuit of power, and the possible tradeoffs from doing so.
To other writers, Alex remarks that practicing is a good way to grow one’s craft, and for them to find stories that they could write in “their own, unique way.”
Purchase from Amazon: Lore by Alexandra Bracken
In this interview, Robert Hardaway talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, Saving the Electoral College: Why the National Popular Vote Would Undermine Democracy.
“We've been through this so many times in our history, it's kind of become old hat.” ~Robert Hardaway