2017 Q&A: Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Both.  I’m very blessed that I’ve been given the gift to write books that keep people entertained.  It’s not an easy task to sit down and put together a storyline and then write the novel.  It’s truly an art, and as with any artist, you have to be gifted.  At the same time, it can be a curse.  I’ve spent many a sleepless night trying to work through problems I’ve created for myself in a manuscript and countless hours fretting over getting the manuscript completed.  And I’ve frustrated myself to no end when I’ve sat down and tried to write but it just wasn’t working for me.  I’ve said before that you have to be in the right frame of mind to write your best; you can’t force it.  You just have to let it happen, yet I’ve sad looking at the blank computer screen and tried to force it because I wanted so much to keep moving the project along.  You’re cursed in that you have high expectations for yourself, and if the book doesn’t turn out the way you want or doesn’t live up to your expectations or those of your readers, you’re very hurt and frustrated.  You’re cursed in that you never feel the book is good enough, and you strive to make the next book better.  So, I think it’s both a gift and a curse.  Is this why so many artists and writers kill themselves?

2017 Q & A: You were a supporter of Donald Trump, what is your opinion on the job he is doing thus far?

I think President Trump is doing a great job thus far, given he’s only been in office a number of weeks.  He is laying the groundwork to do exactly what he promised to do on the campaign trail. He has rolled back a number of Obama’s executive orders.  He has selected a great candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Scalia.  He has put together an impressive cabinet comprised of individuals with political, military and most importantly real-world business experience.  These people aren’t just more bureaucrats.  These are people who have built and run successful businesses.  They’ve led men and women in the military.  So, overall I think the cabinet is going to prove very successful in helping forward the agenda that the President laid out.  I am still very pleased to see him taking on the media.  In fact, I would almost prefer that he not have press conference but instead get his message out to the people via on-going campaign rallies.  I think it’s great that he has been meeting with business leaders to hear their concerns and get their input and ideas.   This is what great leaders do.  They surround themselves with good people and get the input from various stakeholders.  He’s making progress on tax reform proposals, border security, trade, job creation, and immigration reform.  These are all things that were totally neglected over the last eight years that have resulted in the mess we have here in America—low growth, high unemployment (if you look at the real numbers), unsafe borders, high taxes and the list goes on.  Time will tell if he will be able to make a huge difference, but at least he’s continuing to talk about the issues and making an effort to address them.  I think we’ll see good things happening in the future.

2017 Q & A: You were a regular participant in the Thinking Outside The Boxe Symposium until this year. Why is that?

I was invited to participate in Thinking Outside the Boxe’s annual symposium and their champagne summits over the holidays, and I did attend the event.  In fact, I did participate in the panels on a limited basis this year but the transcripts of my comments will not be released per an agreement made between my counsel and counsel for Thinking Outside the Boxe.  This may change in the future.

2017 Q & A: Since you are WWE’s best dressed fan do you have any predictions for WrestleMania?

I think WrestleMania 33 in Orlando is going to be a phenomenal event.  There really is nothing quite like WrestleMania…the energy, the excitement, the drama, and incredible wrestling.  With what has been happening on Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, I think we are starting to see the general direction of where things are heading in terms of the card. 


I think we’ll see Goldberg defeat Kevin Owens at the Fastlane PPV and go into WrestleMania as the WWE Universal Champion.  I predict that Brock Lesnar will then defeat Goldberg for the belt.  I think we’ll see Jericho versus Kevin Owens with a Jericho win at WrestleMania. 


I have to go with The Undertaker over Roman Reigns, but I think this will be a really great match and perhaps the best match at WrestleMania 33. 


It sort of looks like we may see Bray Wyatt versus Luke Harper for the WWE Championship, but we could end up with Cena and AJ Styles in the mix somehow.  I’m not too enthusiastic about that scenario, but it’s possible.  I’ll go with the Eater of Worlds Bray Wyatt for the win regardless of who he faces, and that will also be a damn good match.  I don’t know where any of this leaves Randy Orton. 


For the Raw Women’s Championship, I would really like to see Sasha Banks reclaim the belt, but I’m not sure that will happen.  I’m not a fan of Charlotte, but I suspect that she’ll somehow be involved in the match. 


It’s not apparent at this point if Triple H is going to be involved in any way.  The logical match was Seth Rollins versus Triple H, but it appears that Rollins is injured once again.  I will put emphasis on the term “appears.”   


Then we have a whole bunch of talent that is just sort of drifting along with no apparent roles to fill…Dean Ambrose, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Braun Strowman, Sheamus and Cesaro.  I suspect they may get put on the card, but the matches aren’t apparent at this point.

Q & A 2017: What are your general thoughts on Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live?

I’m actually liking SmackDown Live a bit more than Monday Night Raw at the moment.  I’m not a fan of the cruiserweight division at this point, and it seems Raw is spending a disproportionate amount of time on these matches.  I don’t like that the announcers aren’t ringside anymore on Raw.  I think it takes something away from the show.  There also seems to be a lot more talking and recapping of prior matches on Raw.  And I certainly don’t care much for Kevin Owens…he can’t wrestle, he can’t talk and he has absolutely no stage presence or charisma.  Yet, Raw has made him their posterboy.  Big mistake in my opinion.  When he comes on, I go get a drink or something.  I have no interest in his same old rhetoric.  As far as I’m concerned, WWE can ship him back to Quebec.  In all, Raw’s matches are of less quality, the talent seems lower quality in general, and the show less desirable at this point.  Having said that, I still watch it.  I think SmackDown Live is doing great.  They have the better talent, and the matches seem better as a result of the better talent.  I think Raw will eventually come around, but it may take Vince McMahon to sort things out.

What is your outlook for President Trump’s agenda?

I’m very optimistic about President Trump and his agenda, just as I was very optimistic about his candidacy when everyone else said he didn’t have a chance.  I think President Trump has a great opportunity to bring Republicans together after the divisive primary and unite the party and equally as important, to work with Democrats to address the great challenges facing our country.  I’ve spoken at length about those challenges in the past: the national debt, the economy and jobs, tax reform, immigration reform, and healthcare.  President Trump won an election which was the voters’ repudiation of the liberal Obama agenda.  He was given a mandate for the agenda he espoused on the campaign trail, and since he has been in office he has been working towards fulfilling his campaign promises.


There is no doubt that our country is deeply divided.  President Trump’s address to the joint session of the Congress was a great speech.  He clearly wants to put aside partisan politics that have plagued Washington for decades and work with Republicans and Democrats to fix the problems facing our country.  He’s a great businessman.  In business, he surrounded himself with good people and negotiated with various stakeholders to make deals work.  I think he’s going to use that same approach now that he’s President.  He’ll get leading Republicans and Democrats together at the White House and see where they can find common ground on these issue.  Then, let the negotiations begin.


I think infrastructure will be the easiest bill to get through.  This is an area that Democrats have typically supported.  Remember Obama’s “shovel ready projects”?  I think tax reform and repealing and replacing or reforming Obamacare are related issues.  I’m hopeful this is going to get accomplished sooner rather than later.  Immigration reform is going to be much tougher but not impossible.


In other areas, President Trump is already taking steps to ease burdensome regulations imposed by the prior administration.  These regulations made it unnecessarily difficult for companies to conduct business.


I’m most pleased with the fact that President Trump continues to be of the position that he’s representing the American people and that America comes first.  He’s not representing the world; he’s representing “We the People.”


2017 Q&A: How did you come up with the idea for your upcoming book?

I always loved shows like Falcon Crest, Dynasty, Dallas, and The Colbys, and I think that inspired me to write Gems & Jewels.  Since the shows that I watched during the 1980s were either about oil or wine, I thought it would be good to explore a new industry that operates all over the world, in some pretty dark places too, and that does have some glitz to it.  Everyone loves diamonds and jewels, right?  What’s not to like about beautiful jewelry?

A little known fact is that this was originally a script that I wrote as a television mini-series, and I decided to go back and convert this to a novel.  The original script’s draft was written in the mid-1990s, so a lot needed to be changed with the original storyline to bring it up to date and to make it a better novel.  I’ve changed a lot about the plot, added a lot of characters, and given it a lot more depth than the draft script ever anticipated.  I guess some things do get better with time!

2017 Q&A: What is the title of your next book? What is the setting?

I’m currently working Gems & Jewels Book II: The Restoration.  It’s about a powerful family in the mining industry and retail jewelry industry.  It has all the elements of a family drama—power, sex, money, wheeling and dealing. It’s actually set primarily in Orlando, Florida at the family estate and the business’s headquarters.  Part of the story also takes place in Congo Free State, a fictional country in central Africa.  It’s taking me a bit longer than anticipated to finish this one.  Life sort of gets in the way, and time is always at a premium.  Nonetheless, I’m making progress even if it is slow progress.  When it’s done, it will be epic, and it may be the longest book I’ve written thus far.

Monday Motivation: Don’t be afraid of Failure

You’ve gotta get right back up in the saddle. But think about this. Let’s just say Ford’s first company had been moderately successful. If it had, we might not have the Ford Motor Company of today. It might have turned into something totally different. If Walt hadn’t experienced his first few failures, today’s Disney might have turned out quite differently. No one bats 1,000, buddy, but you’ve gotta keep swinging.- Sebastian

conversations on the bench