Friday, 18 November 2011

Welcome to Xavier Axelson: Mr Manners

So I was mooching around Facebook the other day, and my name popped up. Xavier Axelson said he was in a mood, and as he was coming here today, I should hold onto my hat... or words to that effect. Well, he was right. This is a man with something to say!

Over to you, Xavier...

Mr. Manners
Xavier Axelson

I hate to complain.  I hate to gripe, bitch and groan.  I truly do, but sometimes it really is necessary.  I’d like to start off by asking a simple question.  It should have a simple answer.
Do manners still exist?  Or are they just quaint, eccentric tools used by the few and far between?
I ask because as I am rounding out my first year as a published writer/reporter I’ve discovered fewer and fewer people seem to understand words such as: please, thank you, may I, and would you mind?
Writers spend an inordinate amount of time emailing.  I do anyway.  I email to inquire about interviews, reviews, link exchanges, guest blogs, advertising, etc.  After I interview someone, I send a link to the article in which I have posted and I thank him or her for being a guest.  When  I am a guest, or have been interviewed I make sure I send a thank you email to let the people know I appreciate the time it took for them to come up with questions and post said public relations item.  It is a lot of work on both ends.  Work that I respect and think should be respected back.
After a year of doing this, I am reflecting at how many times I have spent the time coming up with questions for guests at my column.  The time I have spent posting the article, resizing their photos, editing their words, inserting hyperlinks, etc.  While most people are grateful I am stunned by how many people don’t even email me back to tell me they have gotten or seen the article.  They don’t say thank you, they don’t even acknowledge their own contribution to the article.  Nothing.  I don’t write the column for thanks, it is, like waiting tables, a thankless job.  I write it for my own amusement and also because I enjoy discovering artists who are doing something different and I love showcasing interesting talents and artisans.  It is a pleasure.  I think what disappoints me is the lack of interest the person shows in their own publicity.
I am grateful anyone is interested in what I write.  I am grateful when someone let’s me guest post or is willing to interview me because I see it as an opportunity to show off my talent and hopefully interest new readers.  I take my writing very seriously and I think a lack of interest or manners is a reflection of mediocrity on the part of the artist.  I think following up and successfully completing the communication cycle is a reflection of mature consideration.
I would be horrified to think someone found me ill mannered when they had done something nice for me. 
What I find even more frustrating is when I’ve contacted someone about advertising, bought advertising space and then am not told (even after I’ve requested a heads up) when the ad goes live.  Or, when an ad doesn’t go live by the deadline the person/company has told you.  What’s worse is the lack of communication about the fuck up.  No, “hey, you know, your ad will be up tomorrow, sorry I got swamped.”
I’m flexible.  I understand and usually won’t follow up until a few days later and if the ad still isn’t up then I will send a polite email.  I feel as writers we are so often asked to bend over and take it and smile while doing so, I would’ve hoped the people who are also in the business would be more understanding when it came to following up and professional integrity.  I guess it’s like nurses and health insurance.  You would think they have amazing insurance, not so. 
Most recently, I was a guest on a show.  I followed up with a thank you email, no response.  I sent an email a few weeks later asking for a heads up on the airing of the interview, no response.  The next thing I know the interview airs and I never knew it.  Now, it becomes a game of my publisher contacting them to see if we can get an archive of the show so I can use it as a promotional tool.  The chase begins.
Speaking of chasing, I hate to do it.  I’m not a chaser.  If I contact you about an interview and you say you can do it and then I never hear from you again I will send one follow up email and then no more.  I learned this lesson after  stupidly trying to get an interview with a local perfumer and found myself in a bi-weekly email dialogue with the people who kept saying, “Sorry, I’ll have it to you next week.”  I stupidly believed them.  This has happened more than once.  What I’ve discovered is that there are plenty of people willing and able to be adults and follow through on their commitments.  I’m giving up the chase.  No more.  I’m not a stalker.  I don’t have the energy, or frankly, the interest.  I have my own writing to deal with.
Lastly, (isn’t this a fun blog?)  I’d like to thank a certain popular book review website (if you’re reading this, you know of which I am speaking).  I’d like to thank the website for allowing anyone who is capable of speaking to use their words to personally attack, degrade and rate writers work regardless of whether they have actually read said work or not.  To all the reviewers there who are giving fair and honest criticism I’d like to say thank you, sadly, the idiots outweigh the intelligent and writers are people with feelings too.  Luckily, my years working in cornfields, waiting tables and the porn industry have given me a thick skin.  I couldn’t care less what people think or say.  This statement is in defense of the writers who have posted their woes on Facebook and who have allowed the words of a few to devastate their creative flow.  Trust me, a review is hardly a reason to have your light snuffed out.  I think of this site like the Enquirer.  If you are an actor, you avoid it.  If you MUST go there, go and then get out quick.  It also makes me think of the swamp of sadness in The Never-ending Story.  Think of me as Atreyu.  Get the hell out before you drown in the mire.
So I end this blog with a big thank you to all the people who have made my first year amazing.  The support of a few has made a world of difference.  I am grateful, hopeful, and excited to continue the journey with you.  Be strong, be polite, be amazing, and ignore the darkness, the haters, and the idiots because the woods are wild with them.
Be sure and stay in touch with me and my own wild woods at


Perfection isn’t everything, although it’s everything Leo wants. His desire to become the perfect chef may keep him at the top of his class, but it drives his friends and family crazy while keeping love and passion on the back burner. That is until he meets Dock, owner and chef of the new and popular restaurant, The Birches. Although Dock isn’t a trained chef, Leo finds the food he cooks delectable and the man behind the food irresistible. The lessons taught at the hands of an untrained cook may be just what this uptight chef needs to let go. 

Excerpt for The Birches:

He pulled into the parking lot of The Birches and sat on his bike a minute. He felt nervous, like he was about to meet a celebrity and the self-doubt that plagued him made him queasy.   
“You gonna sit outside or come in?”
Leo jumped at the sound of the man’s voice. He pulled his helmet off and looked around, but didn’t see anyone.
“Over here.” 
Leo looked just past his left shoulder and saw a man emerging from the nearby woods that surrounded the little restaurant.
“Oh, hey,” Leo called out, his voice cracking.
“You looking for something to eat?” the man asked, coming closer.
Leo was shocked to find himself riveted to the spot, staring at the man who came towards him. 
The man offered Leo a rough, calloused hand. “I’m Dock,”
“Hey,” Leo managed weakly.
“I was out back, picking blackberries, they grow wild around here.  I thought they’d make a great dessert. Don’t know what kind of dessert, but how can you go wrong when you have stuff like this?” He said as he offered up a large, wooden bucket half-full of dark, purple black berries.
There were purple smears across Dock’s white tank top that seemed barely able to contain Dock’s impressive chest. There were several brown freckles on Dock’s shoulders, next to where the strap of tank top clung to his body.
“Lucky berries,” Leo said under his breath.
Sweat ran down Leo’s back, he felt so nervous. For a brief moment, he thought of hopping on his bike and taking off.  Instead he said, “Um, nothing, sorry, I just wanted to come by and--” 
“You want to come inside and have an iced tea or something?” Dock asked, “It’s hot as hell out here and I know I need to cool off.” He swiped a hand across his face and left a smudge of blackberry juice across his cheek.
Leo’s heart was pounding, what was it about this place, this man?
“You coming?” Dock asked.
Dock laughed, “You coming inside or you just gonna stare at the ground the rest of the day?”
Leo was still staring at the spot where Dock had been standing.  Something was happening inside his head.  He felt spellbound and excited.  He didn’t know where this sensation came from, all he knew was he wanted more of what he was feeling.  He followed Dock, who was still talking about black berries, the sun and something else that sounded perfect, into the restaurant.  When Dock stopped suddenly by a booth at the back of the restaurant, Leo almost crashed into him.
“Take a seat. I’ll be right back with some tea.” Dock said, a smile lingered on his lips.
He knows he makes me uncomfortable, Leo thought once Dock left and was sitting down. It was this realization that held him glued to the seat.  He wouldn’t give this man the satisfaction of getting the better of him.  
 “So, what’s your name?” Dock asked when he reappeared and set a jam jar full of iced tea in front of Leo, there were several blackberries floating in it along with some ice and a sprig of mint.
“Leo,” he replied, taking a sip of the tea.
“You know we’re closed, right?” A woman’s voice called from behind Dock’s perfect shoulders. Leo decided right then and there he would trade his ability to beat an egg for a chance to touch those shoulders and kiss the freckles that lived there.
What was he thinking? 
He wasn’t thinking, that was just it, there was something about the place and, more noticeably, about this man that seemed to block Leo’s ability to think rationally. Where there was once thought, there was now an incredible amount of feeling. He was stunned into a stupor by this realization.

Where to find the incomparable Xavier Axelson:


  1. Hi Sue, thanks for having Xavier on your blog.

    GREAT blog Xavier! Thank you. I could not agree with you more. It's amazing how manners are missing even in the regular day-to-day stuff.

    I'll never forget a night not too long ago as I was leaving work with my arms full of stuff there was a man (I was going to say gentleman - but he doesn't deserve that couresty) who was several paces ahead of me. He quickened his steps to get to the exit doors before me, and silly me thought he was going to hold them open for me, but no, I was mistaken. He breezed right through them and let them shut on me as I approached. Mind you, it's not like he didn't see me approaching. We actually made eye contact and did that little head nod in acknowledgement. Jerk! I wanted to shout out and ask him if his mother ever taught him manners, but didn't. I probably should have.

    So, thanks, again for the great blog. I am looking forward to reading The Birches!

  2. *courtesy
    (can't spell - LOL)

  3. After you, my dear Alfonse...

    When I was a kid (yes, I had a pet Pteradactyl, what of it?) my parents made certain we wrote thank you notes for gifts, for outings, etc. Written thank you notes. On pretty paper. That had to be mailed. Old-fashioned now, yes. But good imprinting - it makes you aware at a young age that there are simple courtesies that brighten other people's lives.

    Thank you, Xavier. Well said. :)

  4. Ahhh, manners. Here's the funny thing about them. They don't cost anything. My mother always said that just because we were raised poor didn't mean we couldn't have manners.

    That having been said, I feel bad that you've experienced these things. Follow-up e-mails and just simple communication goes a long way.

    The Birches sounds like a good read. Many sales!

  5. Great post and topic and thank so much for speaking so honestly on something that shouldn't be forgotten. Simple manners acknowledging, and appreciation of another's hard work and creative artistry is the right thing to do. It is rude, and a sign of disrespect. I'm not a writer or author, but each email that I've received informing me that I have won something from an author or blogger in a contest, I always email my thinks and appreciation of the gift. And yes it is a gift! It is a gift of their hard earned creative work. I just can't express enough gratitude that I've been given such a marvelous gift. To me it is part of the author, and not to something to be ignored or acknowledged without gratitude.
    I can't imagine being an author and all it entails in regard to getting it written, published and promoted for sale. It's hard work, and not using manners in any industry is just plain rude.
    Sharon, Angel and Johnny..your points are so true and I couldn't agree more.
    I work in retail for the moment, and just the other day I had a customer rip the item they were purchasing out of my hand, and they threw their money in my face. As a grown adult of adult children it was a very humiliating experience to say the least. If I had the courage at the time I would have blown my cool, but grinned and took and just kept my mouth shut. :)
    Thank you for the great post and topic..and I so enjoy your stories...*S*


  6. Thanks for the great comments! :) and thanks again to my hostess Sue! xoxoxo