Saturday, 15 February 2014

Author Interview with Jeremy Ritch.

Welcome to my Author Interview and many thanks to Jeremy Ritch

Author -  Jeremy Ritch

1/  Can you tell us a little about yourself? I am a poet/writer living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvainia. As a writer I contribute to a few local websites and have written articles for several publications and blog sites. I am a former pastor that has been involved with several underground churches and outreaches all over the Eastern US. Along with writing I write music and am a avid vinyl record collector. I have been married for 12 years and my wife is a huge support for my work.

2/  When and what made you decide you wanted to be a writer? I started writing in my early teens as a way to express myself I guess. I just found some paper and started to write down things I thought mattered. By 15 or so I was writing poetry and song lyrics, mostly about girls I never met. Then around the end of high school I had been published a few times and just kept going from there.

3/  Can you tell us something about your books, genre? My first book “My Beautiful Mess: A Journey Through faith, Hope, and Love” was a memoir of sorts about my spiritual journey from High School through my late twenties. It covered a lot of my ministry life and the ins and outs of that vocation. It was self-published so it is a bit raw and needed a serious editor.

My new book comes out in Spring 2014 and it is a collection of poems. I wrote the book, which is named “Sidewalk Stories and Other Poems”, over a 15 year period in which I lived in several US cities. The poems are about city living, social justice, and my experiences. I try to write honestly as both an observer and a participant in life so there are many poems written from the outside as well as in.

4/  Where do you get your ideas from? My ideas come from various sources. It could be nature or a city. People I have met or that I wish I knew. Then there are ideas I draw from my faith or my beliefs. I find myself writing a lot about social justice issues as well as telling stories of people that I think need to be told.

5/  Are you working on a new book at the moment? I just finished “Sidewalk Stories and Other poems” and I am working on a follow up poetry collection that is tentatively titled  “Rock n Roll Tiger”. These poems focus more on my rowdier past as a heavy drinker and my involvement in the punk rock and hardcore subcultures.

6/  What are your ambitions concerning your writing career? I want to keep writing and having a platform to release books. I also love doing readings and traveling as a speaker so that would be awesome to do as well. It would be nice to make some money doing what I love for a change.

7/  Which writers inspire you? The Beat Generation heavily influences me, specifically Kerouac and Burroughs. Charles Bukowski has also had a large impact on my writing over the years though we are not quite the same I always found his works inspiring. I love classic writers like Poe and Oscare Wilde too. Honestly I read a lot of non-fiction books. I have a bunch of books on American crime and cities, sociology, and music. Being that I was a pastor I have read many Christian authors of which I love. Writers like Pete Rollins Tony Campolo have inspired me throughout the years. Music however is my main influence as a poet as I draw from artists that I listen to. Everything from hip-hop to punk rock has influenced me greatly.

8/  What book are you reading at present? Right now I am working my way through Burroughs’s “Naked Lunch” just for nostalgia sake. I need to get more books and some newer authors. I often steal ideas from my wife who reads much more than I do. I got to read more. Haha

9/  What are your thoughts on reviews, good and bad? Reviews are good because they mean someone read your book. I mean good or bad your book was in someone’s hands. I tend to not read much of the reviews or the comments I get on articles I write because there is so much negativity out there online anymore. I do however appreciate a good honest critical review because it helps make me a better writer.

10/  What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Write! Write as much as you can everyday. Write poems, stories, articles, music reviews, and all that. Also read books, magazines, newspapers and listen to good music that is lyrical. Surround yourself with artists, musicians and writers to draw inspiration from. Most of all keep hustling your work. It takes a long time to get noticed but once you do it becomes a lot easier. Remember to be humble but have confidence in your work always. Also be kind to people and always take the high road when dealing with rejection, it will happen a lot. In the end you have to just write and do it because it is who you are.

11/ Do you have any advice on how to market your books? Find a publisher and if you can’t then hustle. Get on social media and post it everywhere. Set up readings in your town and try to get people to review it. It is not easy because like myself, many writers are introverted and not really god at marketing but it is something you need to do.

12/  What would you consider to be the worst thing about being an indie author? The financial toll it takes and the desire to have your work read by people. We write to be heard, to have a voice, so when that doesn’t happen we become frustrated and that can hinder our creative process. I often get down because I have done so much work for free or paid for things out of pocket but I also have gotten paid before so it comes and goes. I guess the biggest frustration is there is no consistency to it.

13/  What do you like to do when your not writing, hobbies etc? I collect vinyl LPs. I love record shopping and collecting. It is my greatest passion outside of writing. I probably have about 500 LPs ranging from old country to punk rock and everything in between. I also love to cook and make most of the meals we eat at home. Cooking for me is therapeutic.

14/  How long on average does it take you to write a book, what is your schedule? My first book took me about 3-4 months and I was hammering away at it. I wrote upwards of 9 hours a day and just flew through it. My poetry books are written over time so the hard part is collecting them into a book which takes a few months to arrange, rewrite and edit them.

15/  What is your favourite positive saying? “Find what you love and let it kill you.” 
 Charles Bukowski

16/  Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your books? Oh I have no idea, my first book was about me so that is weird to think about a. My poetry books have no main character. If I could write a script for an specific actor it would probably be for Jason Lee.

17/  Who did your fabulous book covers? My first book was designed by a friend named Sean Akers who took a photo I captured and made the cover. My new book cover was made by a local Harrisburg artist named John Saurman.

18/  What is your favourite movie and why? My favorite movie is probably The Big Lebowski. It is hilarious, a great story and has amazing characters in it. To me it is a perfect film that I culd watch over and over. It is comedy gold and so quotable.

19/  Where can you see yourself in 5 years time? In five years I will be 43 years old and hopefully writing books and touring around doing speaking and readings. That is my goal.

20/  Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? I would love to meet Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters fame. He is a inspiration to me as a song writer, musican and just a super cool dude. I think we would have a lot to talk about.

21/ What is your favourite takeaway food? I love Thai food but I also love some good old Southern Fried Chicken.

Where can you be reached?  On Twitter at @Jeremyritch or at
Facebook page: facebook/jeremyritch
Twitter: @Jeremyritch

Many thanks for your wonderful interview.

Thursday, 13 February 2014


            Well we are now coming to the business end of the season, where one loss can be catastrophic and another piece of silverware is cut adrift. From the start of the campaign the expectations were not high especially after the disappointment of the first game against Aston Villa, but we started to confound the critics who just like in previous seasons had completely written us off, but this team started to beat everything put in front of them. Not all world-beating performances but a few scrappy wins, last minute goals, backs to the wall nail biting defensive displays, performances that would-be champions get away with, Manchester United have been doing that for years and have been highly praised for it. The lows so far have been few and far between, the Capital one-cup exit to Chelsea was poor, but as we all know that has never been very high on Arsene’s priority list. The defeat at Old Trafford was a particular low point especially as this Moyes team of 2013-14 are mediocre and not a patch on the fighters of previous Mancs teams. It wasn’t so much the defeat it was the scorer that hurt the most and the very unnecessary RVP celebration afterwards, alas Adebayor springs to mind. My mind turns to Nic Anelka, who still never celebrates any goal he scores against Arsenal, respect for that. Manchester City was a lesson learnt, they work on the principle of the old Newcastle side managed by Kevin Keegan, you score 2 we will score 3. Even though the score line of 6-3 looked heavy that day, we could have matched that and Wengers comments after of ‘It could have quite easily been 6-6’ was not far off the mark. They do have an awesome strike force and to still keep up an average of 4 goals a game even without Aguero, shows the benefits of a very strong squad.
So what about our squad?
To win any title these days, you must, must have a strong squad from the goalkeeper down to the bench. Over previous seasons our goalkeeping position has been mentioned on numerous occasions. Unfortunately it is the one position where time is on a player’s side but patience is not. Szczesny will be world class, he is still very young in goalkeeping terms and is prone to the odd error and lack of concentration, but overall he has had a very good season and deserves the number 1 spot. Fabianski has stated that he will be looking for a move in the summer and that means we will need another keeper. I have read today that Hugo Lloris is interested in a move to Arsenal from our rivals Spurs, it may just be paper talk and hopefully it is, I rate him average at best, Spurs can keep him. A lot of teams have a number 1 and an older keeper as back up, this just might be a good idea at Arsenal, Szczesny has an experienced keeper to learn from and we have an experienced keeper as back up.
Our defence have received a lot of plaudits so far this season, especially the central pairing of Koscielny and Mertesacker, and yes they have been fantastic against the lesser teams. I still worry about Per’s lack of pace, which brings me to Liverpool 5 Arsenal 1. Sterling, Suarez and Sturridge tore them apart. You cannot paper over the cracks here; they were made to look very average. Hopefully it was just a blip, when you go 2 goals down after 10 minutes from two set pieces, it is bound to shake you but 5 goals against, flattered us, it could have been 10. The full back positions I feel are nicely taken care of, assuming Sagna comes to his senses and signs the contract offered. Jenkinson will only get better and one facet of his game that seems to be over-looked is what a wonderful crosser of the ball he is. In the modern game it is now a necessity for all the top teams to have raiding full backs, the formations most teams play require the backs to get forwards and Jenkinson does this very well. The left back position is another area in which we are fine,  Monreal and especially Gibbs are both very good players and I like the way in which Wenger rotates them, which means they are both usually fresh. Gibbs for once has had a near injury free season and maybe the acquisition of Monreal took a bit of pressure off him and gave him a bit of healthy competition. Vermaelen has been the forgotten man, still club captain but with hardly a kick all season, I fully expect him to leave in the summer.
When everyone is fit, the midfield must be a real headache for Arsene, it is the one area where we are head and shoulders above the rest of the premier league, but I feel that Wenger may have to do some soul searching in the summer and make a few hard decisions. Lets take Mesut Ozil first, the man with the 42 million pound price tag. After a decent start to his Arsenal career, he has since been nothing but average at best and in a few games he has been Arsenals worst player. Against Liverpool he was poor and a liability and was at fault for two of the oppositions goals, forcing Wenger to substitute him half way through the 2nd half. So what is wrong with a player that Jose Mourinho once called the best number 10 in the world, is it the weight of expectation? Does the size of the price tag feel like a millstone? Has he not settled in London? Is he not happy with Wenger’s training methods or could it be something as simple as just being too lazy. He has been accused of strolling around the pitch sometimes; giving square 5 yard passes instead of penetrating the opposition. Maybe he has lost his passion or is he just too arrogant? He was adored when he first arrived but a love affair can soon fizzle out, we all remember him turning his back on the fans after the Man city mauling and walking off the pitch without acknowledging or applauding the very people who pay his wages. As supporters we want to see passion, Per Mertesacker for all his lack of pace shows passion in abundance and that is why he is quickly becoming an Arsenal favourite. If we had paid 10 million for Ozil I think the worm would have turned by now and the fans would be calling for his omission from the team especially when we have such an abundance of good players in that position, luxury players we don’t need. As far as I am concerned the jury is out, I think he needs a rest, drop him for a couple of games and hopefully he will change his attitude and recharge his batteries for bigger battles to come.
Aaron Ramsey has been a massive loss; he was injured just at a time when he was on fire, a bigger asset than Ozil. Arsenals best player by a mile, unfortunately injuries are part and parcel of the game and we have had to make do without him, lets just hope he is back soon for the final push. Jack Wilshire is the epitome of Arsenal Football club, another player with passion and drive and when fit should always be the first name on the team sheet. His performances this season have been indifferent and that may well be down to his lingering fitness problems. One facet of his game he does need to improve on is goals; in the position Jack plays he should be scoring at least 15 goals a season. If he is fully fit and scoring regularly, Wilshire is a 50 million pound player.
Sante Cazorla is class, I always breathe a sigh of relief when I see his name on the team sheet, he has recently added more goals to the team and is a player who never stops running and who always adds more dimensions to the side, just look at the opposition sometimes when he has the ball, they don’t know what to do, our best player by far.
Another player who gets my high praise is Flamini, Wenger’s best signing of the summer. One thing we lacked last season was leadership, unlike Ozil he looks like a player who wants to be there, he runs his heart out and never stops shouting and directing his teammates. He is prone to the odd bad tackle and mistake but Arsenal fans can forgive that because of his obvious effort and commitment he shows. His position just in front of the back four is a problem position for us when he is not in the team. I doubt if Liverpool would have scored 5 if Flamini had been playing. His opposition in that position is Mikael Arteta, I have said before that this is not the best position for Arteta, he is not a natural defensive midfielder and this is an area where I think Arsene has got it wrong. Tomas Rosicky, you have got to love him, he knows he is not an automatic choice anymore but what a great servant. Whenever he is called upon, you can guarantee he will always put a shift in and invariably will come up with the odd goal. His forward play from the centre of midfield is always direct and it is rare that you will see him waste the ball or stroll about giving silly short passes. Keep him on for another couple of years and give him a deserved testimonial.
The biggest debate of the season so far has been the lack of forward options at the club. This was highlighted more in January when we lost Theo Walcott for the rest of the season. Theo had just hit form and was almost guaranteed to get you goals as well as being the much needed pace up front. His injury without a doubt left a big hole. Luckily enough we had Alex Oxlade Chamberlain returning from injury. Maybe not as gifted or as quick as Theo but an option and a player always likely to get you a goal as shown with his two against Crystal Palace. I think the jury is still very much out on Olivier Giroud now one thing you cannot complain about is his commitment he never stops running. He reminds me of Alan Smith, not technically gifted but holds the ball up well and although not prolific, he will get you a good ratio of goals over the campaign. He started the season on fire, scoring in nearly every game but since has struggled to find the net on a regular basis. The weight of expectation does seem to be on his shoulders, we are constantly hearing, ‘If Giroud gets injured we are in trouble,’ When you look at the alternatives maybe there is a case, Nic Bendtner has had nothing but a troubled career at Arsenal, he is always being tarred with ‘He is not as good as he thinks he is’ brush, but for a player who literally only plays a bit part in the team, what is the actual expectation, an hat trick every time he comes on for the last 10 minutes. I think of the two crucial goals he has scored so far this season against Hull and in the last 5 minutes against Cardiff. You must put his attributes into perspective; he is a big lump that puts him-self about and he is very good with his head. Another interesting fact about Mr Bendtner, just look at his international record for Denmark, his goal per game ratio is phenomenal. Lets not be too hard on him, I think he will have a bigger part to play this season then any of us expects. This brings me to another bit part player so far in 2013-14, Lucas Podolski, now I do find his lack of playing time extraordinary, I have always been a big fan of Podolski, he is probably the deadliest finisher at the club. He has a remarkable tally of appearances and goals for his country, but not an automatic choice for Arsenal. He has been mentioned in transfer speculation and swap deals almost since he joined the club, but Podolski comes across as a real character, a team player and a happy soul in the changing room, you never seem to hear a disgruntled moan or any negative gossip about the player. Wenger for some reason doesn’t seem to favour him but I would always fancy him to get a goal before the likes of Giroud.
Much of the criticism this season has centred on our transfer policy or the lack of it. Lots of names were banded about during January headed by Julian Draxler of Schalke. All the right noises were being made, at one point we were told it was a done deal, the clubs were in deep discussions, thrashing out the details, the player was eager to come, even his shirt number was being leaked. Wenger’s plan for the player was all over the net, he was going to be the new Thierry Henry converted from an attacking midfielder to the goal getting centre forward we desperately needed. As the month advanced and the transfer window narrowed, the likelihood of Draxler joining diminished. A figure of 37 million was quoted, his clubs release clause and maybe not a bad figure considering Draxler was being touted as one of the best young players in Europe. Stories started to emerge that Arsenal had offered 30 million and had been rejected out of sight by Schalke, if this was indeed true, then Wenger and the board failed to deliver again, the player would have probably signed at the very least a 5 year contract and if and it is a big if the player is as good as has been touted then that 7 million extra would easily have been recouped over 5 years. The problem now is if we were to go back in for him in the summer, then we will probably have the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City to compete with for his signature. Apart from Draxler another name strongly linked with us on the final day was Miraslav Klose, one of the deadliest finishers in the game over the last 10 years. Some people point to his age of 35 but for a loan signing for 6 months he would have been ideal. We should have pushed the boat out to get him, apparently his club Lazio didn’t want to let him go, in my opinion money talks and everybody is available at the right price. So the one signing we did make was Kim Kallstrom from Spartak Moscow, the 31 years old Swede was signed on loan on deadline day to bolster our midfield, a department we are hardly short in but nevertheless we welcomed him with open arms. It then emerges a couple of days later that Kallstrom had been signed with a broken bone in his back and was on the injury list for up to 6 weeks. It beggared belief that we could sign a player with a known injury.  Arsene Wenger admitted that he knew about the injury and still insisted on signing him, why?
So lets look at the positives, it is nearly half way through February and we are still in 3 competitions, what are our chances? Well what with football being a funny old game, who knows, a bad refereeing decision here, a freak sending off there, an injury to one or two of our rival teams might help. I could add my own predictions here but I don’t want to be the prophet of doom and gloom and risk the wrath of my own fans. I think the only certain thing is that we will finish in the top 4, but that is not really an improvement on the past few seasons. We may win the F.A Cup but first we have to face Liverpool who ran us ragged and gave us a real pasting a week earlier, the difference this time is that it is at the Emirates at least. The Champions League pits us against Bayern Munich, the Champions of Europe, on paper it cannot get more difficult, but lets just say I have a sneaky feeling this time especially with the news that Franck Ribery is out with a buttock injury, you couldn’t make it up. So that just leaves the Premier League, which we have topped for most of the season now we are just behind Chelsea and points will be dropped by everyone, even Manchester City who a couple of weeks ago looked unbeatable. The chief concern from an Arsenal fans point of view is the strength in depth of our rivals; on paper we do still seem a bit lightweight especially compared to City but hope that the momentum might just carry us over the line. After the recent 0-0 draw with Manchester United, the stadium was filled with a chorus of boos, maybe we ought to put things into perspective, the majority of the derision was aimed at Olivier Giroud, who admittedly had a very poor game, but he has played over 40 times this season so far for club and country and if anyone is to blame it should be Wenger. He had 3 strikers on the bench, Podolski, Bendtner and Sanogo and decided not to use any of them. In my opinion Giroud needs a rest, he looks tired, the failure to not sign a forward in January could easily come back to haunt us. The position of 2nd in the league, we currently sit is remarkable with the squad that we have. Manchester City are 3rd and have a 100 million pound a year wage bill more than us, Chelsea are a point clear at the top and have a 50 million pounds a year wage bill more than us, I think it’s time to get behind the team, not send them off the pitch with a chorus of boos.
So finally that brings me to Arsene Wenger, a few months ago there was a lot of division amongst fans, Gazidis has recently stated that Arsene will sign a new 3-year contract after this season. The biggest bug-bear for fans has been our lack of silverware over the last few years and quite rightly a club the size and stature of Arsenal should not have gone this long without a trophy. The competition has got stronger not only in this country but throughout Europe, we can boast a fantastic new stadium, but I liken it to a chocolate box, beautiful on the outside but that doesn’t mean a thing if there is nothing tasty inside. But I do believe in continuity and nobody has continued in the premier league longer than Arsene Wenger, he loves the club and has put his heart and soul in the place, like the old adage states, ‘be careful what you wish for’ he is still a very highly respected manager and would have offers from all over the world if he left or was pushed. I sincerely hope he stays and signs his new contract and has a say in the appointment of a new coach when he does finally step down or as I think we all know moves upstairs. A certain Mr Henry is bringing his playing career to an end at the conclusion of the present MLS season and has stated his desire to coach. He couldn’t wish for a better teacher than Arsene Wenger.

So there is my take on the season so far. All opinions are purely my own. I would very much appreciate any feedback good or bad.

Tom Immins