How To Be Ridiculously Prolific and Healthy with Farnoosh Brock

2014-06-28 19.12.08I recently had the pleasure of meeting and chatting to Farnoosh Brock, the uber-prolific blogger and businesswoman behind Prolific Living and the author of The Healthy Smoothie Bible (just published this year) and The Healthy Juicer’s Bible, (which sold 30,000 copies last year!).

Farnoosh and her husband and business partner Andy live in the US but were visiting Edinburgh as part of a trip to Europe, so we met in the busy BrewLab coffee shop (on a rather dreich day).

Farnoosh shares tips on how to give yourself a complete health overhaul starting from ten minutes a day and the difference between smoothies and juicing.

Not only that but she explains how she juggles running four websites and a number of online courses helping people get promoted or change careers as well as keeping fit and healthy.

Oh yes, and she shares her fascinating background including moving to the US from Iran and the fact she can speak Turkish, English and German. I think you’ll agree that Farnoosh is one impressive lady.

Listen below/after the jump, or at SoundCloud.


Tech Tips and Tiny Houses with Ethan Waldman

We all need a wee break from reading the internet now and again, which is why I like listening to the internet instead. So why not take a load off and join my guest Ethan Waldman and I for another illuminating Clear-Minded Creative Types audio interview.

In this twenty minute conversation Ethan talks about his business as a technology coach over at and how he balances that computer-based work with a variety of other interests including fixing bikes and building a tiny house!

tiny house

We also discuss minimalism and how cutting back on commitments can help us become fully present and improve our existing relationships.

Ethan has some really great advice here that I’m going to implement myself, and I hope you find it as useful as I did. (Click here to listen if you are reading via RSS or email).


 Mentioned in this interview: 

Cloud Coach


Building the Tiny House (on Facebook)

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Self-Control for Mac

Write or Die

Ethan’s post on the “WordPress Myth”


‘Let’s Get Physical’ – with Personal Trainer and Author Tracy Griffen

tracy2012Healthy living is often on our minds at the beginning of the year, but by now many people’s resolutions have faded away into the ether.

Thankfully, any day is a good day to start living a little healthier, and Edinburgh-based personal trainer Tracy Griffen‘s new book is a really good way to begin. It contains simple and not-at-all-intimidating advice for every season of the year as well as recipes and other interesting info.

The book has a local focus, with tips on surviving the dark Scottish winter nights as well as making the most of our all too brief spring and summer!

I asked Tracy some questions about her background as well as how healthy living can help our mental health and creativity.


Riding the Train of Awesome – Interview with Nathan Agin

Nathan Agin in action at his WDS2012 healthy lunch meetup

Nathan Agin is a former actor turned modern day nomad who shares his healthy living practices on his blog Nonstop Awesomeness.

I met Nathan at WDS2012 in July. He organised a number of unofficial meet ups, including a healthy lunch and meditation sessions and we talked about how healthy eating and exercise can have a dramatically positive effect on our mental health (see the Mental Health Foundation website for more on diet and mental health).

This is a man who definitely ‘walks the talk’ when it comes to healthy living, and as I’ve now committed to a Year of Clarity (i.e. no alcohol!) what better time to get advice on that topic.

I chatted to Nathan in sunny L.A. (via the wonders of Skype) and asked him about his exciting plans for a new show celebrating healthy food and travel which recently placed #6 (out of 121 ideas) in a recent Good.Is contest.

Mark Buckland - Cargo

The Firework Factory – An Interview with Mark Buckland of Cargo Publishing

Mark Buckland and his team have achieved amazing things with Cargo Publishing in the last few years and I’m very excited to be sharing this inspiring interview with you on the eve of Elsewhere Day, a launch for a very special book/box set which is taking place across 5 cities across the UK tomorrow (Wednesday 26th September 2012).

Hey Mark, please can you tell us a bit about yourself and what led to you founding Cargo Publishing in 2009.

I’m 25, from Glasgow and I’m the MD of Cargo that includes Cargo, Cargo Crate (the first ebook label in Scotland) and Margins Book & Music Festival which this year was the fifth biggest book festival in Scotland.

Brief explanation (no, really, this is the brief version): I was a gardener for four years. It’s a pretty tedious job and means you spend a lot of time in your own head and listening to a whole bunch of different music, writers and talks on my iPod.

I thought “there have to be other people out there who like a whole range of stuff” and maybe I should put on a club night of writers, bands and DJs to try and showcase the arts scene in Glasgow-that became the Cargo night. When that finished up, I realised there was a glut of very talented people writing in Scotland who had no platform to publish; the whole industry was collapsing and it seemed a lot of young Scottish authors had been lost in the fray. So I spent the £800 I had on setting up Cargo.

That, and I was doing a landscaping job in December. A new house where we had to move a thirty foot hedge across the garden to sit alongside the driveway. It was so cold our spades pretty much bounced in the ground. After we’d put it in, a removal truck came up the drive, caught the hedge and dragged the whole thing out.

With the snow driving in my face, blistered hands and total exhaustion I thought “nothing can be harder than this for a job.” The jury’s still out on that. At least I get to work indoors now.

You’ve said that the aim behind Cargo was to “put a firework up the arse of Scottish Literature”. What does that mean in practice?

I still have no idea. It was a throwaway comment that lots of people still remember. I’m an accidental controversialist in interviews. Mostly because I don’t think before I open my mouth.

Basically, it was a view of doing things differently. I wasn’t trained in publishing, I knew nothing about it. So I’d ask experienced people “why do you do that?” and the answer was often “just because that’s the way it’s always been.” I guess all of us at Cargo felt that things could be different, that things could be made better, particularly for new writers. That being said, I’ll probably end up having ‘upstart publisher’ on my tombstone.

Have we put a firework up the arse of Scottish literature? I think so, whatever it really means. We’ve certainly inspired a lot of people to go into publishing and know that it can be made cool, rather than stuffy and conservative.

What have the highlights been since you started Cargo?

So many. Cargo has been a huge privilege. I’ve met a huge amount of talented people and to have published the likes of Will Self, Amy Bloom and Roddy Doyle before I’m 26 and most of the team are still in their twenties is a great honour I don’t think I expected when starting out.

Highlights for me…Year of Open Doors pretty much united a generation of Scottish writers, Margins became the fifth biggest book festival in Scotland in just two years, Elsewhere has fifty of the best authors working today and is one of the biggest publishing collaborations the UK has ever seen, starting the first ever ebook label in Scotland in Cargo Crate.

Our 1962 Writers’ Conference Book was a personal pleasure; Jim Haynes shed a tear of joy when he saw it. But I think the greatest highlights for me are still bringing through new authors. Watching the likes of Allan Wilson, Tracey S. Rosenberg get great reviews, be nominated for prizes and really start their literary careers means more to me than anything.

Congratulations on Elsewhere, your collaboration with McSweeney’s and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It’s absolutely gorgeous to behold (and to hold), and contains some great work by an impressive bunch of contributors. What was the aim of this project in particular and how did it come about?

Thanks! Really proud of it. The background was it began life as a commission from the Edinburgh International Book Festival for fifty authors. Nick Barley, the festival director, had been chatting with Irvine Welsh about the boxing circuit in Chicago and Nick realised there was a whole world of fascinating subcultures we knew nothing about. Hence the brief-‘elsewhere’. I don’t think there was really much plan to bring it into print. But our involvement started in the way all good things happen; I was pretty drunk with Rodge Glass and he said it might be an idea to talk to Nick about it.

We did and I suggested a collaboration with McSweeney’s, which Nick immediately saw the potential in; two indies from different countries working together. McSweeney’s came on board after I talked to the then-head honcho Eli (he’d remembered me from when we’d met as ‘the drunken, angry Scotsman'; I said that narrowed it down to 2.5million people) and the hard work started.

They’re a pleasure to work with; Brian McMullen is one of the greatest art directors there is and the team that worked on it of Walter Green and Adam Krefman really brought out the best in it. From our side, Helen Sedgwick proved she’s one of the best editors working in Scotland. And I’d dip in to say ‘why don’t we try this?’ Hats off to Jack Teagle, the artist too, he’s an extraordinary talent.

I think the overall aim was to do the stories justice. It’s a phenomenal lineup and the writers really gave it their all. So when you’re working with artists like that, you have to up your game. And our aim was to show that books can be beautiful objects, something we’re celebrating on Elsewhere Day.

What were the challenges involved in working with both a US-based publisher and an international festival? (don’t answer this if you don’t want to!)

Well, it was a massive collaboration. You have the biggest book festival in the world and the best independent publisher in the US on board, so you know everybody is going to be professional and that made it a pleasure to work on. Logistics were tough in that McSweeney’s are in San Francisco and the printer is in Shanghai so that was a lot of well timed phone calls over the year.

But I think the only challenge was pressing the go button to print – with something as radical looking as Elsewhere, you have that terrible fear that nobody will like it, but the authors love it and readers seem to really dig it.

You’ve had a busy year so far and probably deserve a bit of a rest. Still, I have to ask – do you have any plans for the future you want to mention?

Eh, aye, busy year indeed. Many plans in action. We’ve got three more books to publish this year including the Dundee International Book Prize, which at £10,000 is the largest book prize in the UK for unpublished authors and means we get to kickstart the career of a new author. Plus the wonderful Martha Payne telling us all about the neverseconds blog in a really exciting book. Margins is back in 2013 at The Arches and is bigger than ever and we have a wee surprise with Margins to announce too.

For next year’s books, we have a book by the comedian Robert Newman that’s one of the best pieces of historical fiction I’ve read, plus books from Alasdair Gray and Allan Wilson that are simply fantastic. And a debut by Juliet Conlin that I think will be one of the top summer reads. Throw in the launch of a new online magazine and lots of new stuff from Cargo Crate and I think the quality of the work we’re putting out is reaching new heights. We’re also working on some TV stuff, a massive narrative-bending project and some very cool tech I think might appear next year.

In the short term, I’m taking my first holiday in five years. I’ve had a tough year with health; I’ve had ten years of mental health problems before being diagnosed with schizophrenia this year so I’m hoping to try and use my experience to advocate for better mental health rights and to hopefully show that nothing need hold you back if you want to do something. I have an incredible team at Cargo and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved but also looking to see how else we can keep producing great stories. If we’re still putting a firework up the arse of Scottish literature, then it’s like a firework factory these days.

To find out more visit Cargo Publishing & the Elsewhere website and find out more about Elsewhere Day (Facebook event)

And here’s the 2nd Objects of Affection video featuring the Elsewhere book-set:


Mars Dorian profile pic

“Blow Your Comfort Zone to Smithereens” – An Interview with Mars Dorian, Marketing Artist

Standing out online is all about personality, passion and a powerful visual brand. Mars Dorian has all three (and then some).

Over the last couple of years Mars has produced an explosion of colourful cartoons and articles bursting with equally colourful language.  His posts are hilarious and highly motivational, with a ton of insight and advice about branding yourself online.

Now it’s time to find out how he will “light a fire under your ass”.

Andy Lobban - CMC

Andy Lobban, Designer and Music Promoter

You can always find the time and energy for something if you really love it.

Some creative people have one good idea and stick with it throughout their career – others, like my friend Andy, who is a designer and also runs a local mini-record label, seem to have too many ideas and projects to fit in to the average lifetime. As you can see from the questions below, Andy’s been a very busy boy.

Please can you describe who you are and what you are up to at the moment?

I’m Andy Lobban. I’m a designer at Storm ID by day. In my spare time I do a few things. I co-run Gerry Loves Records, a tiny little vinyl and cassette record label concentrating mostly on local grass roots artists. I help organise Refresh Edinburgh which is a get together for internerds.


Alex Mathers from Red Lemon Club

I’ve been a fan of Alex Mathers and his Red Lemon Club blog for quite some time. The site provides really solid advice for freelance creatives of all kinds. Alex’s own speciality is illustration, a topic covered by his other site, Ape on the Moon – so he talks from experience – and of course this means all of his sites and products are extremely well designed.

Alex is releasing a new ebook today designed to demystify the latest social network from Google that hardly anyone seems to know how to use properly, Google+. The guide is designed specifically to help creative freelancers to attract new clients and simplify their online presence. As you can see from the below interview, he knows his stuff.

Please can you describe who you are and what you are up to at the moment?

I’m a London, UK-based self-taught illustrator and writer working on various illustration projects, including something for Wired magazine right now. I run a website called Red Lemon Club that aims to help other freelancers, entrepreneurs and creatives with going it alone, finding clients, doing business, and so on.

I’m about to make a move to Tokyo to experience things from a different perspective and can’t wait!

Did you always know what you wanted to do (creatively) or has it been a process of trial and error to get to the point you’re at now? If it’s the latter, how did you decide what to focus on?

Practically everything that I’ve ever done up until this point has been a result of trial and error, and gradual change. I like to try out new things but also make a point of sticking with something once I’ve started it, and allowing it to evolve over time, fine-tuning as I go.

I’ve stayed focused on particular things, like my illustrations, by always having a vision in mind of where I would like things to go. The thing is, that vision always changes slightly (but not dramatically), and that’s how things progress. When I first started illustrating, things looked a lot different to how they do now.

Ali George

How to Write 12 Books in 12 Months – An Interview with Writer/Illustrator Ali George

Most writers are faced with a difficult decision as October draws to an end – whether to take part in NaNoWriMo (more details below). I’ve never managed it myself and having tried and failed to write a novel when I was younger the thought brings me out in a cold sweat.

So for the next in the Clear-Minded Creative Types series I looked to local writer Ali George for advice and more info on what drives her to work so hard.

As well as being a NaNo veteran, the level of output she maintains on her own blogs and in a variety of other outlets is hugely impressive, and oh yeah, there’s that small challenge she set herself for 2011 – writing a book every month. I hadn’t even realised that she is also an illustrator.

withered hand

“Travelling & Hollering”: An Interview with Musician & Artist Dan Willson aka Withered Hand

After a bit of a break, I’m delighted to crank the Clear-Minded Creative Types series of interviews back into action with one of my favourite songwriters, Dan Willson aka Withered Hand, who is also an artist and DIY gig promoter – not to mention husband and father.

He also happens to be an Edinburgh resident and I’ve seen him at various venues in town, from the small and dingy to the vast and expansive with his recent Queen’s Hall show. He even appeared my telly box in a recent BBC documentary about the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas (Dan became a trending topic on Twitter in the UK due to the US authorities initially refusing his visa).

Please can you tell us who you are and what you are up to at the moment?

My name is Dan Willson. I write songs and perform them under the moniker Withered Hand. I suppose I have been doing this on and off for about 5 years. Before that I used to play guitar in bands and draw a lot. I certainly never expected to be a songwriter, much less a singer, but I mostly like what I get to do right now.

Did you always know what you wanted to do (creatively) or has it been a process of trial and error to get to the point you’re at now? If it’s the latter, how did you decide what to focus on?

As a kid I wanted to be an artist. I guess my parents didn’t realise I needed dissuading. I have always had a clear short term idea of what I want to do creatively, but stagger along with no real plan and right now I’m getting it out there via songwriting and performing songs, I hope it carries on being something I do but maybe in a few years I’ll be doing something else which involves less travelling and hollering.

Extract from Dan’s comic strip ‘A Fake’s Progress’