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Meet My Author Friend – Susie Smith Vaughan!

Today, we had a chat with my author friend Susie Smith Vaughan, here it is and I thank you and wish all the best on her writing as well as in her personal life!

1. Tell me something about yourself and how you started writing?
A – I am a single mother for 14 years, with 3 children, ages 18, 27 and 31, after being married for 24 years. I was born in Texas, moving 13 times before I graduated high school. I always say, “I’m from Texas, I just live in New Jersey.” Stuttered as a child since age 9. I always had something to say but oftentimes would remain quiet for fear of the stutter that would hold me hostage with humiliation causing others to laugh or help me along or complete my sentences which may or may not have been what I was going to say.
I traveled with a college singing group and band to high schools and churches both nationally and internationally, including Hong Kong, Sydney & Adelaide, Australia, Seoul and Kwong Jui, South Korea. These were some of the best memories of my life until I had my children.

I really started writing after I got married at age 20. I cried for my first year thinking “what have I done, I married someone different than who I thought he was.” I began writing in journals for self therapy, poetry, lyrics, quotes, thoughts, and things that happened during the day. I must have over 80 journals. My son, Chris, said, “Mom, I bet you have a book in all your journals.” He’s probably right.

2. What’s your writing habit? How often do you write?
A – My writing habit is to carry my journal notebook and pen with me constantly in my bags, beside my bed. I write every day, mostly.

3. How do you find writing as a self-published author?
A – I have only 1 article written that has been published with “A Letter to My Dad.” I was first rejected, asked to reapply with changes as I did and was accepted with, “we will publish your article.” The founder, John Finch, is promoting a movie of his life called “The Father Effect.”

4. How many books have you written so far and which one is of your favorite, if any?
A – No books published as of now.

5. What do you want to achieve through your writing?
I want to achieve that I made a difference in someone’s life with my stories by writing books, novels, autobiographies- memoirs, poetry, quotes – muses.

6. Can you tell me a little about your new book and the challenges of writing it?
A – My new book is a story of decisions I’ve made and how it affected me and others and how I learned from my mistakes. Also, a look into the lives of the women behind the men. Challenges are in the research and in the memories that can be foggy and choppy scenes of my life.

7. How have your books been received so far?
A – No books yet, my one and only published article was well received by my family.

8. What are you working on now?
A – I am researching a woman responsible for an artist becoming known to the world and preserving his letters and drawings because she felt them priceless and of value when everyone else said it was trash. If it hadn’t of been for her passion and determination, the story would’ve never been told to the world.

9. What else do you write beside novels?
A – I write poetry, quotes, short stories, autobiographies.

10. How you make time for your writing in general?
A – I write in the morning upon waking up, lunchtime, before I go to sleep. I keep my journal and trusted pen by my bed if inspired by a Dream or a thought instead.

11. Do you find marketing hard?
A – I need to market and discipline myself to write nonstop for hours more.

12. What is the most important aspect of writing for you?
A – Getting my thoughts out on paper to inspire or encourage is my main aim.

Thank you , Tim for the opportunity to share with you a little bit about me and my writing passions. May God bless you in all you do.

All my best with pen in hand.
Susie Smith Offenbacker
Susie Smith Vaughan

10 Facts You Might Not Know About The Gurkhas!

1. As they were not the subject of the crown, initially, the Gurkha Brigade was known as India’s Foreign Legion.

2. The first ever soldiers who had joined the then Indian Army and started the two hundred years’ long tradition were actually Kumaon and Garhwals which happened to be under Nepal’s jurisdiction by then.

3. The 9th Gurkha Regiment, which mostly enlisted the soldiers from Khas and Thakuris tribes, is also known as The Khas regiment.

4. Brian Hudgson was the most influential British resident in Kathmandu and wielded tremendous power in the government. So much so that even the formation of new cabinet said to be needed his final approval.

5. The relationship between Kalcutta and Kathmandu was said to be cold and unfriendly until Jang Bahadur took the helm, he did not only send troops in support of the British in trouble but also led the troop south by himself as well in some occasions. He also was the first leader from Nepal who was invited by the crown and visited/welcomed as the head of nation during his one month visit to UK.

6. Jang Bahadur’s admiration for the Queen Victoria was said to be legendary, some books even claimed they were lovers, and rumor had it that Jang Bahadur himself told the Gurkha soldiers to take care of British interests very well as of theirs own.

7. It was Chnadra Shamsher who took the relationship to a new height. In WW1, he did not only send 200000 youths out of 5m population of Nepal, sent fund, and changed the rule of ‘Kaalo Paani or ocean’ and introduced ‘Paani Pattiya” through Raj Guru, so, Gurkhas could be sent overseas for war.

8. Before WW1, Gurkhas were not entitled of Victoria Cross (VC), the highest medal they were awarded was “Order of Merit”, and Gurkhas won 2 VCs during WW1.

9. Judha Shamsher did the same in WW2 and sent out more than a quarter million of youths for war, the Gurkhas won a staggering 10 VCS in WW2 alone and played a very important role on defeating the Japanese in Burma.

10. A total number of approx. 60000 Gurkhas died, lost or didn’t return home from WW1 and WW2. In return, Chandra Shamsher was made an full General of Indian Army and honorary general in French Legion, invited/visited to UK as Jang Bahadur did before, and was called respectfully “Your Highness of Nepal”. In 1934, the legacy of Nepal embassy was allowed in London and the embassy was finally opened in 1947.

Historians, intellectuals and the whole Nepali people might have forgotten them but it won’t be an exaggeration at all that their sacrifices alone had saved Nepal and as a result, we still have a nation to call as of our own today.

More on my coming Gurkha book, mark the page, thank you!😀✍️👏🙏👈

#Gurkhas #Nepal #India #BrigadeofGurkhas #British #Army #WW1 #WW2 #History

My New Dilemma As An Indie Author!

I was not only a proud but also a true believer in self-publishing and have been championing the Indie authors since my 1st day as an author. I have become an Indie author by choice, did learn the trade somehow, and despite all the odds, I did actually pretty well on my own.

Needless to say, the sailing wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked at the beginning and I had to go through pretty rough stages during my early years as an author. Just to name a few, I was berated by a fellow author with a one-star rating without even touching my book, another one humiliated me by saying my only motive of offering a review was to pirate his book after obtaining a free copy, and the third one insulted my intelligence by calling me a student who was pretending to be a professor in the international literary world. In addition, snubbing by so-called elitists was a norm, resentment was nothing new, and many fellow authors have written me off on many occasions.

However, I didn’t pay much attention to them at all, did my utmost best on what was in my hands, and persevered. And I have come a very long way since then and I should be really proud of myself as an Indie author.

That was, of course, before that unfortunate event of last two weeks and everything has changed in a great deal since then.

What happened was this – I was accused of using paid ads in order to push up my sales rank by a gadfly through his regular blog post, haters and zealots zeroed in with vengeance and my Amazon page was littered with nasty reviews and comments. Before long, my book was killed off and I was declared guilty without a trial.

The subsequent events were pretty nasty and ornery, I was declared a scammer, and hanged and left out to dry on my own. The remarks were pretty mean and scathing, many so-called friends have distanced themselves from me, and some fellow authors have unfriended and blocked me on Twitter.

Unsurprisingly, just a few of my fellow authors did openly support and defended me, and I will always remain grateful to them in life.

I intentionally didn’t comment on the accusation for some reasons. First of all, I don’t comment on negative views for two reasons: one, it will only make the situation worse as fuel to the fire, and two, I have a self-disciplined policy of using social media – if I have nothing nice to say, I rather say nothing at all. Secondly, I genuinely thought that people have already made up their mind, nobody was in the mood for listening and my explanation would have no use at all. Thirdly, I thought that it would just go away in a few days’ time, people would forget about it, and we could just move on.

But it took a turn for worse, my whole Amazon account was put under review and I had to write a statement why and how am I going to avoid that in the future before my account was reopened again. It was undoubtedly one of the horrible and gravest periods of my career as an author, it has dented a scar on my soul and it will probably remain there for the rest of my life.

I don’t see any points of explanation, the damages have already been done and I have no intention whatsoever of seeking out for a redemption for myself as well. But I still want to say some words to you all and here is the reason why.

Yes, I have bought many ads, who doesn’t? If you are a new and Indie author, we all know that without ads we are going nowhere, and each and every author buys ads for exposure. We also know the fact that most of the paid ads don’t work for many reasons and we must keep on trying. I was no different.

After many ads have failed, I took a master class from a popular author and learned many new things from him. I spent the next six months reworking on my books, not to mention the thousands of dollars I spent on them, and when I had a new book launch, I did almost everything that I could possibly do and made the bestselling list in one category for the very first time in my writing career. In order to keep up the buzz, I had bought almost 20 more ads (Big or small) for the next few weeks and had no tap on when they were running.

All I wanted was to make the top 100 list and when it went to the top of the pile, I was totally shocked, and as the saying goes, the rest is the history.

The 1st mistake I made was buying the ads without knowing how exactly they work and my 2nd mistake was to share my success on the social media. All the ads that I bought were the most common ones and used and recommended by fellow authors. What’s more, it’s almost impossible for us, authors, to know precisely how they work and the service providers won’t tell even if we had inquired beforehand. On the second one, if I were not to share it with my fellow authors, why would I work for so hard at the first place? Making the bestseller list is a dream of every author and what’s the point of achieving it if we cannot share it with the world?

I just have two grievances with this sorry episode, first to the fellow authors who have started it, and second to those fellow authors who have reacted upon this call. You might be doing the right thing, at least from your own point of view, but you should have at least wrote to me a short email before shooting it from the hip like a cowboy, and I would have done my utmost best to clear your doubts if there were any. You could have still proceeded with your plan if my explanation was not good enough. Besides, who gave you the right of declaring yourself the judge and do you know how dangerous it can be when one exercises power without responsibility? To those who have called names and left a nasty, one-word review on my Amazon page, I have nothing nice to say. It was one of the lowly, childish and irresponsible acts only losers like you can do and you called yourself a writer and acted like a high school teenager? Well, I am utterly gutted and ashamed of myself for being in the same group as you. I have always thought writers as a group of intelligent, compassionate and honorable, the lowly act from you have utterly shocked me, and it was nothing less than a disgrace for us all.

For God’s sake, I was a proud indie author, I was supposed to be on your side and did tearing apart the flesh and blood of your own type make any sense to you? I still want to ask you all is this – Did I murder anyone from your family? Did I steal anything from your home? Or did I do anything wrong to you personally?

One person left a 1* review because I didn’t mention about African atrocity and my answer to this person is I am not writing a history here my friend. Another author labeled my book as a children book, well, if you think the Israeli-Palestinian issue like a child-play, then, I have nothing more to say. More importantly, if you read a book with a pre-determined set of mind, of course, you will find problems with that book. If you ask me to read a book by any famous authors out there and find my dislikes, I can easily do that to any given books out there and so can you.

I do admit that my books are not for everyone out there, if you don’t have the slightest interest on global and social issues, you won’t like my books and I will be the first one to tell you that. My books make you think and I know many of you out there don’t want to do that. My earlier books were also criticized for being too long and difficult reading and that was the reason why my new books are written in the simplest way possible so they can be read by all. And they are way shorter than my previous books too.

By doing so, you have not only ruined my bestselling book but also destroyed the future of a dozen of poor children back in Nepal and gave a bad name to my project for which I have been devoting my life. I am a self-made man, took writing only after I turned fifty and I have been writing only for my charity. The charity helps provide financial support to the poor children back in Nepal and we have been supporting 27 children since 2015. And I have a dream of expanding the project throughout the nation, so, one day every one can go to school.

No wonder people look down at us as indie authors, it’s this sort of disgraceful act that justifies the treatment, and we have no others but ourselves to blame for our downfall. If indie authors keep on fighting each other, you will never get the respect from outside world and the sooner you understand it the better for indie authors.

The unfortunate incident has certainly caused great pain and indignity to me but I am not among the one who will run away from challenges and I will continue my journey until my goal is achieved.

Please just keep in mind that I will never stop writing, I don’t have to pull other writers’ leg to move forward, and you weren’t and you will never be my competitor.

Yet, one thing is pretty certain. My trust, respect, and support for the indie authors have changed once and for all and it will never be the same again. Thanks to you, I have become a rather skeptic person now on almost everything including this indie thing, restraining myself from social media, and I have already stopped all the promotions.

I even hate the word ‘Bestseller’ now and it will probably be a very long time before I can make myself ready to embrace it again. Until then, I wish you all the best and God bless you all.

I just wish that you had spent time on improving your own writing, that way you could have at least improved as a writer, and never had to belittle fellow writers to make yourself feel better.

Please read and share it with your friends and fellow authors so it won’t repeat again. It’s such a sorry and pathetic event that no soul deserves to go through that pain again.

Writers without a heart and compassion will never understand it. They don’t have to, because, without it, they can never become a good writer anyway.

Last but not least, I am not going to pull my book off the market. I want to keep it live on Amazon as a reminder to myself, so, I will never be able to forget about the unfortunate event for the rest of my life.

And ha, I am definitely going to look for a new agent as well.


A Few Tricks Of My Own On Twitter Etiquette!

“I might be one of the nicest guys on social media but don’t make the mistake of assuming that as of my naivety.”

Before anything else, let me make one thing very clear, I never write or claim as an expert on anything in life including writing, and I only write as of my own experiences and nothing more. I can be anything but a Twitter expert? Give me a break..!

Although I have started using Twitter since early of 2015, it was only after early this year that I started using Twitter more frequently and the last six months or so have been pretty interesting as well as revealing. I do use twitter at least twice in a day, morning and evening, and spend at least an hour or so on each session.

And here is a few tricks of my own that I have learned so far on Twitter etiquettes.

– Twitter is certainly not Facebook, users here are more professional and personal stuff is better left behind. You have to be careful about what you share or comment and mistakes are hardly tolerated.

– The rule of only 140 characters can also test your patience and leave you frustrated as well. But don’t get disheartened, on the bright side, it actually helps improve your writing, especially writing punch lines which can be really handy when writing articles for newspapers.

– Whatever you share on Twitter, it’s, of course, your own choice and the right choices of a message, picture and slogan can attract more followers. Therefore, you should have a nice plan before posting anything and they should be posted on a regular basis with a clear theme or purpose. Posting a myriad of random posts won’t take you anywhere hence a total waste of time.

– Having knowledge on such basics as having the proper profile, pinning your most important post on the top, and how to like, re-tweet and reply to someone else’s post is a must. If you don’t know these basics, you shouldn’t even be using the Twitter in the first place then. You can learn how to list your favorites, search and create your own groups later on as you start getting more crack of it.

– Notifications button must be the most important function of Twitter, it’s here where all the activities of your Twitter account are found, and this is where you can interact with real people. Message button is mostly for automated messages and most users ignore it.

– If you tweet only about your books without any inputs from other topics, you are overdoing it and such behavior is also known as over-promotion or even spamming which can easily put off people hence the un-follows. According to experts, the ratio is said to be five to one, which means you should post a promo only after you have posted five unrelated but interesting posts, and my own ratio is approx. fifty to one.

– The best way to gain more followers is, according to experts, do a lot of re-tweets, follow the right person of your interest, and interact with them in a proper way. I myself follow the 1st and last steps in a proper manner but I do usually skip the 2nd step and hardly follow anyone. I do a ton of re-tweets on a daily basis and you are advised to use Twitter in a different part of the day to reach out different users.

– Being nice can take you a very long way in life including here on Twitter, I still think it’s one of the best practices of them all, and it always has to be the genuine one. I am not only kind, polite and responsive but also appreciative to my fellow twitters and I always reciprocate. In addition, I also have a self-improvised principle of ‘saying nothing at all if I have nothing nice to say’ and it has saved me from a lot of unnecessary hassles. It’s quite understandable that some people would treat you as a naïve and others would take you for granted, yet, many would appreciate kindness.

– Last but not least, stay away from controversial subjects, especially politic and it mostly ends with a bad taste.

All in all, it’s a learning process and I am learning few more tricks here and there along the way. It has almost been six months since I have started using Twitter on a regular basis, yet I still haven’t reached my first 5000 followers, and there is still a very long way before I can take myself as an expert. That won’t be happening until I have reached my first 100000 followers and I still have a lot to work. Until then, I will keep on tweeting with the broadest smile possible and you are also advised to do the same.

Thank you for reading it up to here and hope you have learned some tricks of your own by now. BTW, this article was meant to be for the beginners on Twitter and if you were reading it by mistake, sorry!


No Matter How We Put It, ‘Occupy Central’ Was The Wasted Opportunity.

Whenever I recall ‘Occupy Central Movement’, a whiff of disbelief runs across my mind and it still amazes me even today. How could that be possible? I still couldn’t bring myself into believing that China would actually let it happened in its front yard and that’s still a mystery to me. After all, China is a communist country, public dissents or disturbances are hardly tolerated within China and Hong Kong is still an integral part of China.

‘Occupy Central’ itself was not only unprecedented but also a phenomenon in Hong Kong’s history and such event of massive proportion was not seen for decades. Thanks to the post-handover activism era, having rallies or public demonstrations in Hong Kong is pretty normal and a day hardly passes by without such news. Yet, ‘Occupy Central’ was way ahead of what we were seeing hitherto and it certainly raised eyebrows in the mainstream community. People were camping in the middle of the busy highway as it was a country park, occupying busy streets in Mong Kok as it was their own backyard, and participating in various activities as they were in a festival venue. What’s more, it continued not only for a day or a week or even a month but for a staggering 79 days and that’s a very long period of time in politics.

Hong Kong people had never shown such unity, courage, and resilience before for a common cause and created a history for which we shall actually feel proud. Having said that, however, cracks started to appear at the very moment when the government finally caved into the popular demands and agreed for the talk. I was genuinely astounded when I saw only the student leaders at the talk and my initial reaction was something like what’s going on. Why the leaders of the opposition party, the movement itself and so-called flag-barriers of the movement were not joining the talk? They should have come together as a united team and help each other until the goal of achieving universal suffrage was finally achieved.

Then, three leaders of the movement itself declared the end of the movement and left the field but many openly ignored the order and remained on the ground at their own will. It clearly showed the movement was not as united and strong as it was initially thought, different groups of demonstrators had different agendas, and they were operating rather individually inside under the veil of democracy which happened to be the pretext for the whole movement. We had a pro-democracy group, pro-independence group, government’s policy haters, Chief Executive Haters, and much more with real social issues such as unaffordable housing prices, inflation, and deterioration of livelihood, poor health and education system and so on. Yet, everything was boiled over because of one major issue and we all know what that was – China.

Had it not been for China haters, including the western world (the so-called protector of democracy, humans right, freedom of press and freedom of speech), there would have neither Occupy Central movement nor other demonstrations in Hong Kong for sure, and they would not have such a big say in the history of Hong Kong.

The failure of removing the protesters from the streets for such a long time clearly showed government’s lacking in implementing rules and orders and how top leaders at Beijing did manage to look on is still a mystery. I know the tradition of saving a face, or rather losing it, plays the great significance in Chinese society and Beijing is no exception. Besides, Hong Kong is said to be sacred for Beijing and they would never make any hasty decisions unless it’s absolutely necessary. Beijing turned out to be truer in their words, people were skeptical about ‘One country two systems’ and yet, the doubts seemed pretty unfounded by now.

Admit it; Hong Kong is still the one and only place in the whole Greater China where we have rules of law, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, human’s rights and some degree of democracy as well. We do have the choice of electing some of our legislatures and district councilors while the rest come through relevant constituencies. We could have even been able to elect our own Chief Executive, principal officials and government itself had it not been for our city leaders.

Our so-called city leaders should have been wiser and accept the offers on the table that had been won hard through Occupy Central movement. Although the offer was not perfect, it was still an offer far better than what we have at the moment. Only the naïve thinks democracy is perfect. We should have accepted as it was and use it as the foundation of future democracy and gradually build on it as we learn the trade with time. By simply refusing it outright, we ended up empty handed and have absolutely nothing to build something on. As a result, all the efforts, sacrifices and meaning of Occupy Central movement went through the drain hole and all we get a the end was a bitter and divided society.

In brief, no matter how to put it, ‘Occupy Central’ was the wasted opportunity and our city leaders are to blame for the mess. History shouldn’t forget them that easily.