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So NOT Another Mundane Memoir (Both Heartfelt & Hot!!)

Published May 1, 2017 by glgiles

My Review of “So L.A.:  A Hollywood Memoir” by Staci Layne Wilson

So LA Cover

 

Back of So LA

 

Right from the onset, Wilson reveals that she was “born in Hollywood to a rock star dad and a pinup model mom.” If anyone deserves the title of ‘Hollywood Royalty,’ then she most certainly does!

I had the good fortune of ‘cyber meeting’ Staci way back when MySpace was stylized just that way:  MySpace. Even before it changed to Myspace. I think it must’ve been circa 2005, as I don’t think Staci even had her trademark look blue-streak hair yet (Hmmm…I wonder where Blue Streak Productions got its ‘roots?!’). Speaking of hair, that’s what drew me to her  MySpace page, initially. Well, that and her wonderful sense of humor! She had a profile picture up on MySpace of her long locks (a la Cousin Itt, with her back to the camera) and the caption “Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” That still makes me smile even as I write this.

Her knowledge of ‘Old Hollywood’ is extensive (perhaps par for the course with her Hollywood Royalty Roots). Yet, it’s not just the famous names she honors that makes this memoir a captivating read, it is the city of Los Angeles itself. She breathes life into the buildings and landscapes of old and new with her detailed and richly layered insider knowledge.

Though she’s definitely the product of her parents’ journeys, she also, quite remarkably, forged her own more darkly delightful artistic paths while at the same time rescuing horses, rats, cats, ferrets, et cetera. But, that doesn’t mean her own journey was easy. It wasn’t. In fact, she struggled both emotionally and monetarily for years, but she overcame all with a non-judgmental attitude, even against those who’d caused her so much pain.

Her creativity is boundless, and in a society where much art has become homogenized from fear of social media backlash, etc., hers stands out for both its perfection and almost resistance to the mundane tide. I admire the hell outta that!

 

G.L. Giles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with the Lovely Sophia DiGonis (AKA ‘The Gypsy Poet’)

Published October 22, 2013 by glgiles

Sophia E. DiGonis (AKA ‘The Gypsy Poet’) is truly a multi-talented woman. She’s a piano teacher, composer, poet, radio personality, model and both an interviewer and reviewer for Punk Globe Magazine.

Sofie 004 copy
Photo Credit: Marisa Hernandez

Girl George Flyer 1

 

 

GL:  Great to have you here, Sophia! Let’s start off with you telling readers about your show and your goal of taking it to Broadway. 

TGP: Okay! Let’s talk–A friend of mine named Jeff Sibley is working on a show on Broadway and his manager had asked him to invite friends from across the country to join him in reading for a crowd and with that, I let him know that I am working on a script called ” Poetry from Lady Angela’s Place” which is a one-woman show about taking problems and turning them into poetry. Each poem is a character and each character gets a moment to speak their part. I have been working for years on this concept, and it’s finally coming to fruition! It’s called “Poems From Lady Angela’s Place” What it is, is each poem represents a character from this fictional bar I created based on a short story collection and it’s about a number of characters that turn their problems into poetry.  Each character represents some aspect of my life that I have dealt with. 

“Lady Angela’s Place” may be a fictional bar, but it’s a place of salvation and sanctuary where people can escape for a bit and turn their lives around.  This one-woman show is based off of the poetry of the two books I wrote and published—plus, in other journals and online material where my work can be found. 

GL:  Please tell readers about your books:  “Mysterium” and “A Voice Over Time.”

TGP:  A Voice Over Time was first started as a project that was suggested by a friend of mine on MySpace. She caught my work on a page and she asked me, “Why aren’t you published?” And I said, “I don’t have the means to do it!” And she got info from her brother-in-law who I totally give thanks to, as he suggested Lulu.com. This was in 2007. I really enjoyed putting this book together because it made me see how much I wrote and my evolution as a person and a poet. There are pieces I dedicated to lost family members and it was a catharsis to put those works in there as a way to remember and at the same time, let go. That’s why it’s called by that title. Our thoughts and memories are an open door for those that have passed on, and those thoughts are a way, if anything, for them to look in and know they are honored. It’s about life, memories, and a sense of understanding even where I am now and where I am going. The title is also about how we can reach beyond our physical limits if we take the time to understand that, too. 

Mysterium is more about tapping into the dark, and tapping into the inside. This one is about understanding the need for discomfort and stepping out of that comfort zone to find out who one really is– this includes me, too. I don’t like to be ‘boxed’ in, or pigeon-holed, (Good God, I CAN’T STAND THAT!) The point of this book is to celebrate diversity, what makes us what and who we are, some of us legends, some of us just people. Though, part of it is a continuation of A Voice Over Time, here, I explore even a little bit more of the dark side of the moon as well as finding out what keeps a star shining, literal and metaphorical.  The cover design is thanks to Donny Morrow, he knew what I was looking for.  Both books are in major retailers online. 

GL: You’re a poet, interview host (for Punk Globe Magazine), a model, a student, a teacher and a good friend. How do you find the time to do all the things mentioned? Please elaborate and feel free to add whatever I missed as well. LOL

TGP: First of all, it’s because I am all of that at once. What it boils down to is I am me when I get up in the morning and everything I do is a PASSION. Punk Globe for me, is a huge passion because I can let loose!!!! Oh, MY GOD I love writing for Punk Globe because it is a different genre and atmosphere! It’s ruthless, bright and rebellious! It’s my dynamite and Ginger Coyote is the source of the fire! She seriously awakened my love for it and there is an energy about the magazine that I just love and with that, has awakened in other aspects of my life, too. My teaching style has changed because of it and in other aspects. I feel like a butterfly emerging from her cocoon!  

As for teaching, I teach music, piano to kids and they love it. It’s a gift for life, literally. Even if they don’t end up playing the instrument, they leave with a sense of attention to details and patience. That’s always an awesome thing! 

Being a student, I currently attend Texas A&M San Antonio, which is an amazing place to be. I’m discovering more of the researcher I am as well as the poetry and I am learning to incorporate them really well. 

The modeling is something I do for my friends who are photographers. Three of the most amazing photographers are Gonzalo Pozo, Marisa Hernandez and Dominic Macias. They have absolutely amazing skills and I’m always happy to give them the best subject matter I can. 

The Piano is an instrument that has dominated my life. I usually can’t go without practicing each day and it sets the mood for the rest of the day.  Chopin is erotic and Beethoven is brilliantly moody. 

On Sundays, I run my own radio show, called Gypsy Poet Radio, with my co-host Girl George, who is feisty, explosive and dynamic. Her trademark giggle just keeps the show going and she is quite entertaining, too, and the guests call in and tell amazing stories. They are what make the show happen! 

This is also why I’m known as “The Gypsy Poet” because I do all of this and I am open to everything.  All of this stems also from my heritage. I’m a first-gen Greek, I speak, read, write, breathe and eat Greek… (LOL!)… Because of my heritage, I taught myself to be open because I love, understand and embrace cultures of all kinds and even the Greek culture has undergone evolution for over thousands of years, going from the belief system of the Pantheon to being believers and defenders of Christ. I’m not afraid of change, because even my root culture undergoes that, too. 

GL:  Besides writing lyrics, you actually compose the melodies, too, correct? 

TGP:  YES! I can write and produce melodies very easily. In fact, my Bachelor’s degree is in musical composition which means I can write and arrange music for even a symphony orchestra if necessary. 

GL:  Have you composed film scores and/or soundtracks? 

TGP:  Yes, I have, actually! And last October, I did a film called “Manchester High: If These Lockers Could Talk” which is on IMDb. It’s a short film about high school situations and it was premiered and featured at Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas as well as the NAMI conference held in Austin, Texas. I loved the experience of film scoring and hope to do it again because that is what I wanted to do to begin with. All the other stuff just came along. 

GL:  What do you have on the horizon for the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014?  

TGP: A LOT, actually, I think that the doors are opening for anything that can happen, first of all, this gig on Broadway is on its way to becoming something of an adventure for me and I anticipate the reaction.  I think that I will keep writing and now music will be opening its doors as I am seeing that both music and poetry are getting some buzz on facebook, twitter and soundcloud and making sure that my voice gets heard and everything starts ROCKIN’! (My new favorite word!) 😉 

GL:  Where can readers go to connect with you and your wonderful work? ( social networking sites, etc.)

TGP:  Here we go!

Http://facebook.com/GypsyPoetRadio

http://facebook.com/SophiaTheGypsyPoet

http://Soundcloud.com/GypsyPoetRadio

http://Twitter.com/GypsyPoetRadio

http://youtube.com/GypsyPoetRadio

http://GypsyPoetRadio.blogspot.com 

http://Blogtalkradio.com/Gypsypoet 

 

Sophia Book ad 1.2

Interview with Ellen Eldridge, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Target Audience Magazine!

Published January 7, 2013 by glgiles

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Introduction:  Ellen Eldridge is the Editor-in-Chief and publisher of Target Audience Magazine, a publication which has managed to both stand out and be well-received—no small feat in this day and age when it’s much harder to get noticed due to the plethora of publications out there.  In addition to her full-time job running TAM, she has two small children, two cats and a talented husband, Russell Eldridge (musician and Music Editor at Target Audience Magazine). Also, she’s penned a thought-provoking book of poetry entitled “Beyond the Eyes” which I had the pleasure of reviewing here: http://targetaudiencemagazine.com/2009/06/review-of-beyond-the-eyes/. In the interview that follows, she reveals how she manages to balance it all and where she plans on taking Target Audience Magazine in 2013.  

So, without further ado, it was truly an honor and great fun for me to interview her!

What compelled you to found Target Audience Magazine in May of 2007? 

My decision to start Target Audience Magazine started out of my love of writing and the realization that my brother knew about basic web design and my sister wanted to continue a career as an illustrator. The pieces seemed to fit perfectly for this creative outlet dedicated to helping each other increase our individual skills and passions into a working model for a profitable business. The idea of family and community tied it all together because I felt it would strengthen our relationships and those who became involved as readers or contributors would experience a shift to strengthen local creative communities as well, with fine artists’ paintings or photographs that inspire musicians’ lyrics and so on.

Pierre Corneille stated, “To conquer without risk is to triumph without glory.” Was starting Target Audience Magazine risky in any way? What about now—with oftentimes cutting-edge content?

The riskiest aspects of Target Audience Magazine are still forthcoming because all I’ve really sunk into the business over the last five and a half years has been my increasingly precious time and personal money. I taught myself a great deal and built relationships with contributors who feel the same way I do; the contributors believe in what we do at TAM so pay hasn’t been a necessity as much as it is a goal for all involved. Of course, the goal is to make money doing what we love so I constantly evaluate my business model. With regard to content itself, I have gone back and forth about what I consider “risky” and I believe the biggest risks I’ve taken involve the way potential readers view Target Audience Magazine. I feel we’ve concentrated too much on music in general and in 2013 I want to hone in on aspects of all content that show readers ways to use the information to their benefit as artists trying to make money doing what they love, be it concert photography or fiction writing. Exposing the why a musician reaches people and how an author sells books is now thought in the forefront of my mind when writing and editing content.

TAM was set up to emphasize the music scenes over the fine art and literary scenes, correct? Has this changed as the years have gone by?

When I thought of starting a magazine, I wanted a single magazine that would have all the articles I wanted to read from interesting stories about human psychology to recipes for cocktails and creative nonfiction essays. I wanted to combine Parents Magazine with Rolling Stone so people like me would only need to spend money on one magazine! By trying to “target” myself I really completely got the idea of one’s “target audience” a bit skewed, so I first trimmed back to focus only on creative content and continued scaling down in the neighborhood of “creative arts,” but still didn’t want to exclude any creative entrepreneur. I want a community-focused magazine that holds reviews on deserving artists chock full of “secrets” that readers can immediately recognize and use to boost their own businesses. This is a difficult thing to explain concisely; I want to create a magazine that functions as a free public relations expert, but more than just that I want the contributors to help each other as a sort of cooperative where we really do want to grow by helping each other. This has the added benefits of helping local physical communities and economies as well as inspiring and generating new ideas for artists because a musician who does nothing but noodles on his instrument will lose the powerful feeling of finding inspiration for a song through the way a poet combines syllables rhythmically. We really can help each other grow by teaching and enlightening each other and staying open to new perspectives and healthy experiences.

However, many of my readers may not know that you’ve penned your own book of poetry entitled “Beyond the Eyes.” I still love your quote from the back cover: “…poetry is most often written and least often read.” Sad, but probably true. What are your thoughts on this quote by Thomas Mann: “A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

I hadn’t heard that quote and it makes me giggle because, if it is true, it is true because a writer—especially a poet for whom each syllable makes a distinct difference—toils and analyzes each word in a book or poem, and then revises what doesn’t fit. A writer stays committed to the craft, questioning and studying language and style even as it changes, like each poem or book is a rock tossed into a river. Those who simply want to communicate in the easiest ways possible transform words into letters and think nothing of the intricacies of grammar and punctuation. 

Cyan Jenkins did the artwork for “Beyond the Eyes.” I love Jenkins’ work, too. Did you choose her for the job because you knew her illustrations would be both evocative and refined at the same time?

Cyan is my sister, and I initially chose her to partner with on Target Audience Magazine because she had the knowledge and technical skill to create a magazine using Adobe InDesign. She agreed to work with me in the interest of portfolio building and for that ever-elusive “family time.” Honestly, I think that she asked me to work with her on the book first because “Beyond the Eyes” was her senior art portfolio project at Ringling College of Art and Design. I agreed and was thrilled with the work that came out of her. Not only were her illustrations evocative and refined but also I felt blown away by the epiphany of what really can happen when a fine artist fleshes out her perspectives from a writer’s words. Some of the illustrations brought to light ideas I hadn’t even considered; the entire experience meant a great deal to me personally, which is why I continue the project in Target Audience Magazine with our “art/poetry” project (for which I am always looking for more contributors).
Since working with Cyan on “Beyond the Eyes,” I have truly come to appreciate her talent and skill. I no longer ask her to work for “portfolio building” purposes and I almost always pay her for her work as she no longer acts as Art Director for Target Audience Magazine but as a freelance illustrator and comic. 

How in the world do you balance everything? You’re a mother, wife, student, publisher of Target Audience Magazine, etc.?

Ha! It took me four days just to start typing answers to your emailed questions! Seriously, the answer is dedication and prioritizing; time management in the most extreme sense. My greatest skill lies in my ability to multi-task and I don’t mean just sautéing onions while reviewing the latest album, but actually using the power of critical thinking to organize my life. I can apply the way my infant son makes me feel to explaining the dynamics in a song. I can study for my mass communication and news writing classes by applying the principles to the work in Target Audience Magazine. In fact, after a summer news writing course, I chose to work with a writer to develop a style guide for contributors to TAM. The limited amount of time we each have must be divided by the choices in our life. I have a tremendous schedule but I enjoy every single piece of it. When I feel frustrated or irritable I try to switch activities until I feel rested doing whatever work needs to be done.

Where would you like to take Target Audience Magazine this year?

I started January 2013 with the first monthly issue of Target Audience Magazine and this year we really are focusing on the aspects of business and marketing that will help all independent professionals whether they are readers or contributors. I want all the reviews, features and interviews to show what independent artists can do in their own businesses to create better work as well as increase their profits. 

Where can readers go to learn more about “Beyond the Eyes” and Target Audience Magazine?

Subscribe to Target Audience Magazine for free here:
http://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=001a5dIHVZdaVPPGkTuq4Y_b8SiLDKTv4ZMHn9Z3es-dna6aUgaWRJw-4QIvHbKhzXSjnzNHimQK8zc9WQw-PPb4g%3D%3D
or visit online at www.targetaudiencemagazine.com
Preview or order “Beyond the Eyes” here:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beyond-the-eyes-ellen-eldridge/1018397757?ean=9781257581511
Also available on Amazon.com and Lulu.com