Photo Credit: Rose Riot
Ellen Eldridge embodies the characteristics of a contemporary Renaissance woman by successfully juggling many enterprises with both seeming ease and finesse. She’s a journalist, Editor-in-Chief at Target Audience Magazine (check out the May Issue here ) brand ambassador, writer, a wonderful mother to two small children, a wife, et cetera! To learn more about her and her work, or to contact her, visit her LinkedIn site here and TAM’s Facebook page here. Besides interviewing and reviewing bands, visual artists, authors, etc., “Target Audience Magazine is a resource for creative entrepreneurs to manage their businesses” (TAM Facebook).
Besides being the founder (and EIC) of Target Audience Magazine, you’re also EIC at Talon Magazine and the Lifestyle Writer at Cherokee Tribune! Awesome accomplishments! *tips hat* How would you like to see each of these publications grow in the next few years?
I’ve been building Target Audience Magazine as a marketing magazine for artistic entrepreneurs since 2007, but in 2012 I went back to school for a second bachelor’s degree. I earned a bachelor’s in psychology, but wanted to hone my journalism skills so I started working toward a journalism degree at Kennesaw State University, and I got involved with student media. Talon is the university’s student feature magazine. Additionally, I picked up an internship at Marietta Daily Journal, one of the biggest newspapers in Georgia, for the summer of 2014. So, my vision for TAM remains to continue to service the niche community of artists not only worldwide via the Internet but also to those in north Georgia.
How do you manage being a professional powerhouse AND a great mother?
I wouldn’t call myself a “professional powerhouse,” but I balance everything carefully and constantly re-evaluate my decisions concerning my priorities. I didn’t have children to have someone else raise them, so the balance between working to provide for their future and their current needs is a constant struggle. The easiest way to answer this question is to make it widely known that without my husband I would be nothing. He works as a guitar teacher in private music stores so his hours involve working in the afternoons to late evenings (and weekends). I generally get the mornings to attend classes. My mother has been helping with the kids more now that I’m working about 32 hours a week at the newspaper. Everything else (writing, running TAM and such) must get done while the kids are with me, so writing can be done, but it’s tough. I often feel like I’m not a great mother, but I do my best.
How has the ‘advanced social media management’ of HootSuite helped you?
HootSuite is great because I can use it to not only schedule posts but also track campaigns for clients as well as my various accounts. I made great use of HootSuite University, and its lessons helped me become more knowledgeable as a social media manager for private clients. More marketing strategy goes into social media (when done properly) than many people realize. HootSuite recognized my efforts in teaching social media after I won a grant for Society of Professional Journalists to teach social media using HootSuite University, so I am now a “brand ambassador,” meaning I advocate publicly on behalf of the brand.
I know that I like running my blog as a ‘Variety Show’ of sorts—by showcasing artistic works (of all kinds) which I’m naturally attracted to. It seems to me that TAM does much of the same with great musicians, writers and visual artists interviewed, reviewed, et cetera. And, you and your crew also attend and cover many live events, too. Are they live events in and around Atlanta only?
Target Audience Magazine seeks to help artists both by featuring them and by helping writers and photographers build their resumes. We cover live events mostly in Atlanta, but have covered events nationwide. The issues that we publish contain articles focused on the marketing aspects of being in business as an artist, musician, writer etc. So, yes, we cover all things artistic globally, but seek to inspire locally and grow communities of artists who can network and increase sales.
Where did your appreciation for music, the ‘indie movement’, visual art, literature, etc. begin?
I’ve been a writer since I was able to hold a pen upright. I’ve been writing stories and learning about the things that make us human as I studied psychology and business. My sister is an illustrator and my husband teaches and plays guitar professionally so I’ve just always been inspired by the arts. My friends have always been artistic. Music, art and literature have gotten me through the darkest of times—both through indulging in music and through writing—I want to inspire artists everywhere to be successful at the business side of being artistic so generations to come will pursue the arts.
I had the pleasure of reviewing your book of poetry titled “Beyond the Eyes” here. Have you had any time to work on your own writing recently? Any future books planned?
I’ve recently remembered how much I love writing. I’ve been unable to write much of the creative nonfiction genre works that I mean to. I hope now that my kids are a bit older (3 and 1), I can let them play more on their own with legos, crayons and blocks so that I can get back to writing. We’ll see how it goes. I plan to try to get more essay work published rather than attempt books. If I work with poetry again, it will be a children’s book, where I will invite my sister, Cyan Jenkins, to illustrate.
What’s on the horizon for the rest of 2014?
During the summer, my internship writing for Marietta Daily Journal takes most of the week, but I have a private client for whom I manage a blog and social media. I also plan to publish issues of Target Audience Magazine June 1, August 1 and October 1 this year (we are as of June slowing to once every two months). In addition to that, I plan to publish Talon Magazine mid-July, early August and in October. So, I have a ton on my plate. Not to mention, I’m campaigning for a campus representative position on the national board of Society of Professional Journalists. The election occurs during our Excellence in Journalism conference in Nashville Sept. 4-6. Wish me luck, and if you’re a member of SPJ, please vote for me digitally (you don’t have to be at the conference to vote)!
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Yours in dark delight,
“Patrick Ryan grew up in Columbus, Ohio and started writing after graduating from college with a Bachelors Degree in Communications and Marketing. After marrying Molly and living vicariously through the sports and activities of their children ~ Colleen, Michael and Patrick ~ while balancing work in the financial services industry, Patrick recently reignited his writing passion in earnest cranking out Blood Verse in a little over a year while working on two novels and a second short story collection at present. An avid sports and music fan, Patrick enjoys Football, Basketball, Baseball, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and hard rock. In addition to writing, Patrick is a voracious reader, taking in an eclectic swath of fiction and non-fiction across many genres, with horror being a favorite. A practitioner of martial arts for over 25 years, he holds a second degree black belt and is a huge fan of Bruce Lee” (downwarden.com/blackbedsheetstore/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=81_139).
GL: How many of your short stories are included in “Blood Verse?” And, which ones were the most difficult to write. And, why?
PR: Blood Verse contains fourteen short stories varying in length from 3 – 45 pages and thirteen short verse poems averaging a couple of pages each. While each of the stories are designed to be thrillers that disturb and hook the reader with an element of horror and suspense, there were several story ideas that were challenging to navigate from idea to completion.
For example, “Pain and the Boxer” tugged at my emotions on a couple of fronts as the story premise was a personal favorite of my father’s prior to his death. It remained incomplete for several years and, after he died, I wrote it with a passion and dedication unequaled in anything else I have composed to date. “Pain and the Boxer” is also somewhat autobiographical as I have been involved in athletics and martial arts most of my life and have had my share of annoying injuries. On one such occasion after smacking my elbow badly with Nunchucks flying around with them at a maniacal speed, I was so exasperated with the injury I fantasized what it would be like to conjure up pain as a physical entity to battle with and the crazy story idea of “Pain and the Boxer” was born.
One of the most controversial stories in Blood Verse is “Road Rage Bigot.” It was difficult to write because I wanted to take on prejudice and bigotry head on in the context of a horror story. My desire was to create an utterly obnoxious character that basically hated and resented everything that was not a straight W.A.S.P., while at the same time weaving in empathy for the character. Not an easy task! It was challenging adopting viewpoints of racial, gender and social bigotry to an extreme without alienating or offending my audience. Imagine Archie Bunker on steroids, but much more repugnant as a protagonist in a story. Not a terrific way to build audience support for the character! Suffice it to say when my Bigot goes to Hell and locks horns with Lucifer he has a chance at redemption, and I’d like to think the audience is rooting for him at that point!
I deliberately took a few risks with a couple of stories by challenging popular norms and trends. In “Veteran of the Craft” I sought to trace the origin of vampirism ~ (not sure if any other writer has tried to tackle that? A challenge in and of itself!) ~ back to its beginning with the oldest, most powerful and vicious Vampire on earth who takes contemporary romantic Vampire lore as a personal affront, and sets out to make a point that punctuates the horror associated with Vampirism. I wrote this knowing many readers are enamored with current slants on the subject, which is fine, and they may not like my nasty, nefarious Vampire in lieu of what they are accustomed to! I think it was a risk worth taking based on feedback thus far!
In “Spelling Bee” I took another risk and made a statement on the country’s infatuation with Reality TV. Blending this infatuation with a futuristic extension of the economic woes we all see every evening on the Nightly News, I used a standard American Academic Hallmark and twisted it into a reality show harkening back to the days of Gladiatorial Rome with the mob zeal for a bloody reality spectacle. So far, my readers love it!
GL: Speaking of readers, do you have more than one target audience?
PR: At the risk of being overly idealistic, I think a well written story with empathetic characters that a reader can relate to, and a fast paced plot that makes the reader want to keep flipping the pages to see what happens next, can transcend genre. Obviously, the main theme of the Blood Verse collection focuses on the horror/suspense/thriller genre, but there are elements of irony, subtle satire, a dose of humor occasionally, and certainly settings with ordinary people in normal everyday situations placed in extraordinary circumstances that I hope a mass audience will enjoy!
GL: Has your book had much media coverage yet?
PR: My publisher, Nicholas Grabowsky, at Black Bed Sheet Books (Go Black Bed Sheet Books!!! Yeah!) does a terrific job getting authors on the popular Radio Blog Show ~ Francy & Friends that boasts an audience of 300,000 listeners. I’ve appeared three times on the show and had the opportunity to promote Blood Verse. Additionally, the book has been promoted on the Black Bed Sheet Books affiliate, Black Hamster TV ~ a web television show featuring Black Bed Sheet Book authors and other matters pertaining to the horror genre. I also have several pending reviews that I hope to receive by the end of the first quarter 2014. I am certainly open to other avenues of media coverage. Any takers? LOL!
GL: LOL! And, I had the good fortune of meeting Nicholas in person at World Horror Con. in New Orleans last year. Are you attending any conventions in 2014? If so, then which ones?
PR: I would love to attend some of the book and media conventions in 2014 if I can overcome the challenge of balancing day job demands and commitments with my alter ego writing passion schedule. I will be working with Nick Grabowsky on tailoring the best forums for appearances and promotions.
GL: Hopefully I’ll see you at one soon. Switching gears, how have you created narrative tension in your stories? Please give examples.
PR: Narrative tension is a key ingredient to spin a successful yarn, especially in a short story where you need to get from point A to point B in a condensed fashion, as opposed to a novel. It is common in horror sometimes to substitute sheer gore and shock for the reader in lieu of real tension. However, use of gore just for the sake of gore is vacuous. I do feel that in order to craft a good horror story you must be very descriptive about things that readers find disturbing or scary, and there is a time and place to be graphic. I honestly tried to use both gore and narrative tension in Blood Verse, and I would like to think that narrative tension has been successfully employed in all of the stories! Horror has a special place in creating narrative tension because the subject matter itself is intrinsically fraught with tension! I do believe, however, that the more the tension is prolonged, the better you will hook your reader.
In Road Kill for example, my character is placed in a horrible situation where he crashes his car on a desolate highway, is thrown into the brush with fractured legs in a barren southwestern topography too far from the road. He is immobile and contending with injuries when he passes out. The baying of the first vulture wakes him up from unconsciousness an hour later. The reader knows something horrible is going to happen, but I make them wait as the character ponders his options as the menacing threat grows with the arrival or more vultures laying in wait like a vigil. By the time the cataclysmic battle ensues, the reader is more than hooked!
In Elevator the reader knows early on the setting is an outpatient psychiatric clinic. As four patients with incompatible phobias get trapped on an elevator, their thoughts looking back and forth at each other build tension as a foreshadowing of something terrible that is about to happen. By the time those thoughts turn to words and ultimately actions, the reader should be squirming. When the situation explodes, the reader will be appalled at the action. Just when you think it over, the reader is thrown a curve ball with an unexpected ending that will reveal a deeper evil than previously described.
In the Milkman Cometh, I introduce an eminent scientist who is ruined by jealous and self-serving colleagues, and reduced to a homeless vagabond. The audience feels huge empathy for the man as the tension mounts with all the terrible things that have happened to him before I pull the rug out from under the reader!
GL: Where can readers go to connect with you and your work? (social networking sites, etc.)
PR: I can be found at the Black Bed Sheet Book Store below and on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and several foreign booksellers. Additionally, I maintain presence on several social media sites:
GL, thank you for working with me on this! I am thrilled and honored!
GL: My pleasure! Great answers.
Rebecca Seven is the delightfully wicked creator of the salaciously stunning line of haute couture clothing fittingly called Viva Rebecca Clothing! She specializes in one-of-a-kind fantasy design, and she has outfitted many celebrities, including rock stars and movie stars from Motley Crue’s guitarist Mick Mars to Hollywood legend Raquel Welch. No stranger to wearing striking apparel herself, she has been known for expressing herself in wonderfully unforgettable ways since her days in the ‘80s as a guitarist and part-time vocalist for the groundbreaking fem-core band Frightwig (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frightwig). Truly a versatile artist, she works in a variety of materials—including organic and vegan items (for specialty orders). You can view more of her totally captivating and unique designs at www.vivarebecca.com.
GL: First, it’s so great to be interviewing you again, Rebecca. I know it’s been a whirlwind year for you since last time. Lots of great things happening for you—for starters, I was so happy to hear that you’re playing with Frightwig again. How did that come about?
RS: I am happy to be playing. I was looking at photos and getting nostalgic, and I just missed the creepy chemistry of us playing. Playing with Mia, Deanna, Cecilia and Eric is a huge flood of emotions…happiness…because I love playing, and I feel content because we shared a lot of history together. Deanna asked me early this year to come to a rehearsal and reconnect. I brought my guitar and plugged in. I think we played “American Express”…it was the best feeling. I was nervous, but I wanted to be a part of it so bad.
GL: I also heard that Frightwig is playing at Meow Con in Austin. What dates will you be there? And, will you be on any panels?
RS: Meow Con is October 24th-October 27th (2013). We are playing and on a panel. Jean Fury will be interviewing Frightwig. I haven’t been asked to speak at a costuming panel at Meow Con which is unfortunate because the most successful female performers of today spend a lot of time on their stage-wear. It’s very important to have a strong visual impact! Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry all put a lot of energy into their look, and I can’t stress enough how important that is.
GL: Which album(s) is Frightwig currently promoting? And, where can readers listen, download, etc.?
RS: Hit Return is the title of the latest Frightwig release. We re-recorded all the faves with a twist. Plus, a new ‘old song’. It’s on iTunes, CD Baby or you can get it at www.frightwig.org.
GL: To me, you are the embodiment of living the ‘luxe life’, but on your own terms, and I so admire that!! Love how you put it at your Facebook page with, “I have sewn for humans, dolls, puppets, animals, automobiles and rockstars, but nothing is crazier than sewing for giant moving statues.” LOL Please tell readers about your involvement with the ‘living statues’, Ceasars Palace and the Emmys.
RS: I am part of a small team working on revamping the statues at the Forum Shops at Ceasars Palace. They are nine feet tall, and so much leather was used sewing for giants. Four giant cow hides for the skirt and for the cape. My sewing machine was going overtime. Killed ten pounds of thread. Nothing is stranger than sewing a sleeve as long as my inseam. The statues are moving armatures with false teeth and glass eyes—they needed to have the foam waists zipped around them so I could fit them. They also needed the rubber skin mask applied so the wig could be fit along with the crown. Also, every seam needed snaps or velcro. These aren’t humans or dolls—everything needed to be thought out carefully. The ‘forum shops display’ will open in November.
While I was getting the statues dressed, I got a call to design two dragon-style capes for the Game of Thrones dance sequence for the Emmys. Very exciting! Very short sequence. I love what I made. I also designed the dress that Katy Perry wore on SNL recently. I loved that!
GL: I saw her dress on SNL…loved it, too! Switching gears, you drew the cover art for “Every Good Boy Dies First.” Was it the subject matter in the book that drew you to it or the author’s blog? Something else?
RS: I am a huge fan of Andy Seven’s writing. I read the book, and it is probably the most realistic book about being in a band, and I wanted to draw the cover. Andy’s book is a punk rock book, and I wanted it to look like a punk rock flyer. I love pen and ink. I also drew the cover for my Dad’s book: “The Underground Dwellers.”
GL: What’s in the pipeline for you this tail end of 2013 and heading into 2014?
RS: I designed spokesmodel outfits for the Australian skincare line EVE. Thierry Mugler is my fave designer. His lines influenced the cut: Tight waist, skinny sleeves, flared hip pencil skirt. I used super 180 wool—very fine, very thin—and placed the logo in gold a few places. The first ones have already been shipped out. Plus, commercials, a cave girl dress, fixing up my guitar—which is a never ending job.