James A. Cusumano: “Be or become a “what-if” daydreamer”

Be or become a “what-if” daydreamer — someone who constantly dreams up stories — even crazy ones. An example — last week, I came home and forgot my house keys. I parked the car in the drive and rang the bell. Suddenly, my consciousness began to create — What if my wife opens the door and says in all seriousness, “Yes, can I […]

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Be or become a “what-if” daydreamer — someone who constantly dreams up stories — even crazy ones. An example — last week, I came home and forgot my house keys. I parked the car in the drive and rang the bell. Suddenly, my consciousness began to create — What if my wife opens the door and says in all seriousness, “Yes, can I help you?” She doesn’t know me! Before I got upstairs to my home office, I had a random, rough idea for a sci-fi, thriller short story. Anton Čechov would have been proud!

As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing James A. Cusumano.

Jim is the author of ten books, including a new novel I Can See Clearly: Rise of A Supernatural Hero. He is chairman and owner of Chateau Mcely, chosen by the European Union as a leading Green, 5-star, Castle Hotel and Spa in Central Europe, and by the World Travel Awards as The World’s Leading Green Hotel. Chateau Mcely offers holistic programs for body, mind, and spirit, which promote the principles of Inspired and Conscious Leadership, and finding your Life Purpose and Long-Term Fulfillment.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

My pleasure. I grew up in New Jersey, the oldest of 10 children — six girls and four boys. My father was a postman, so you might imagine, we were far from well off, financially! As youngsters, all of us worked to help the family cause. Shining shoes and delivering newspapers during the frigid Jersey winters got old fast. It wasn’t for me.

After a couple of years of piano lessons, I became the keyboard player and then the lead singer for a group that played for dances, parties, and weddings. Growing up close to New York City, during the birth of Rock and Roll music, it wasn’t much of a leap to move into recording. Entertaining with some of the early pioneers of rock music such as Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, and Buddy Holly & The Crickets was not only a “blast” — it taught me a lot about leadership and understanding all kinds of people, even prima donnas!

I enjoyed entertaining, but another love tugged heavily at me — science — especially chemistry and physics. After a number years of college and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, I found myself working in corporate America as a scientist and eventually a research director, meshing the principles of science and business. But having an entrepreneurial bent since my youth, I left the big company environment and moved to Silicon Valley with my best friend, where we founded and built two successful public technology companies.

After selling those companies, My wife and I moved to Prague, where we bought, renovated, and opened Chateau Mcely in 2006 as Central Europe’s first Green, luxury, castle hotel.

Having worked successfully at several business endeavors, I became passionate about giving something back to the greater, common-good. All of my successes were the result of working with talented, motivated, people. People who wanted to make a difference in the world. People who helped me make good decisions. People who implemented challenging work, sometimes against all odds. I wanted to share with others what I had learned along my professional journey.

Starting about 2010, this I did through seminars at Chateau Mcely, presentations, and a personal commitment to becoming a published author.

I started my writing career with nonfiction and eventually moved to what I call Wisdom Fiction — simultaneously entertaining the reader, while integrating the fundamentals of what I had learned along the way — information and concepts that could have a positive influence in creating a more successful and fulfilling life — elements like inspired leadership, values, life purpose, elevated consciousness, and passion.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

As a writer, I believe you must be open to input, but only from the right person and at the right time — not an easy thing to do — and it can often sting! But if you can get past your ego and some of the subconscious social and cultural hypnosis most of us undergo from the moment of birth, often delivered by well-intentioned people — you can triumph.

So, here’s a story. After completing my best edits on an early draft of I Can See Clearly, I gave it to my son-in-law, Joe Robert Cole, to read. Joe is a successful screenplay writer, producer, and director. He coauthored the screenplay for the internationally-successful, blockbuster-film, The Black Panther. Joe said he loved my writing, the characters, and especially the concepts in the novel. However, he felt there was an issue, which he was convinced I could address, and would improve the novel immensely.

The original protagonist, Lucas Taylor, was a black teenager. Joe, who is also black, advised me, “Jim, while your writing is so well done, the voice of Lucas would be so much more authentic, if it came from deep down inside of you — from your very soul, something you know well and can feel. Why not Italian?” Joe was referring to the fact that my mother and father’s heritage were from the same small village in Sicily, and that I had grown up in an Italian enclave in New Jersey and knew that culture inside and out. After I got over the crushing blow of a rewrite, Lucas Taylor became Luc Ponti, and everything flowed so naturally from there. I loved the change — and so did my agent.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

My biggest challenge was the transition from nonfiction to fiction. When I decided to dedicate a large fraction of my time to writing, I had started with what I knew best — nonfiction books based on my experiences over the years in business, leadership, motivation, science, and technology. As I proceeded to publish in these areas, I increasingly focused on consciousness, the mind, passion, and life purpose because I recognized from my personal experience that they can have a huge positive impact on creating not only a better business, but also a better life and, for that matter, a better world — and that is the fundamental essence of my current life purpose. I want to use my skills and broad spectrum of experiences to help heal our challenged world.

It occurred to me that although my self-help books were useful, I might be able to make greater inroads by what I felt was a more effective approach, and that is to write fiction and weave throughout the fabric of the plot, a strong dose of those areas mentioned above, as integral to the storyline — what I like to call Wisdom Fiction — simultaneously entertaining the reader while providing ideas and concepts that could be helpful in leading a more fulfilled life and making the world a better place.

This transition from nonfiction to fiction was an incredible challenge for a neophyte like me — most specially to bring all of the right elements together in the right way to create Wisdom Fiction. To test what I could do, I wrote a couple of novellas, which were fine, but still not doing what I wanted them to do — so I decided to go to “school.”

Over an intense three-year period, I worked online, exchanging drafts, and Zooming with four talented female editors, each of whom were successful authors in their own right. We started with a small novel called, “The Dialogue,” somewhat like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s, “The Little Prince.” It was brutal, but I was learning new things left and right — character development, strong dialogue, voice, pacing, and much more. With publication of “The Dialogue,” I was ready to take on a full novel, which I did with “I Can see Clearly.” Two of these editors, one for developmental editing and the other for line editing, guided me on the path to publication of my novel.

My point is that by working closely with the right developmental and line editors, you not only get a much better product, but you learn so much about writing in the process.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Submitting a much-too-early first draft of my book to my agent or, worse yet, to a publisher. It’s hard to deal with “Are you kidding me?” feedback!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I have written the first 10 chapters of the first draft of Book 2 in the Luc Ponti series — a follow-up to I Can See Clearly. It’s entitled, The Seagull Reckoning and it takes Luc and his SPI Team to Russia to prevent further development of a devastating new weapon. The novel is a fusion of espionage, science, technology, and politics, against the backdrop of the Team’s supernatural powers.

I write frequent articles and blogs on a broad range of subjects that are of special interest to me — and hopefully to others — including paranormal phenomena, consciousness, meditation, the consciousness-quantum physics connection, inspirational leadership, life purpose, happiness, and fulfillment. They generally appear in one of my three frequent sites of publication — LinkedIn, JimTheAlchymist.Com, and Czech and Slovak Leaders Magazine.

Here’s an example. I’m interested in the power of elevated levels of consciousness and their connection and relevance to quantum physics — one of the threads throughout Book 1 in the Luc Ponti series. To that end, I often write columns and blogs with my commentaries on unusual possibilities.

For example, hundreds of thousands of cases of near-death experiences (NDE) have been documented throughout the world. Why is it that when the body is dead — no heartbeat, no breathing, no brain waves — that awareness and consciousness still exist outside the body? Even people who have been blind since birth and undergo an NDE, rise above their body and after being revived, accurately report shapes, colors, and details they “saw” when their body was “dead?” This is what has been called in philosophy and neurology, “The Hard Problem” — Does the mind cause consciousness or, does consciousness exist external to the body, and creates the mind and awareness. I’m convinced it’s the latter.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your new book?

Without the necessity for a spoiler alert, it would be something that happens to the protagonist, Luc Ponti, that opens his eyes to his Life Purpose and helps resolve a number of crises.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing I Can See Clearly?

It’s the lesson that Luc Ponti eventually learns as a consequence of the path he must follow to address a critical issue that befalls him — finding long-term happiness and fulfillment is a well-defined process and is open to everyone. First you must quiet your mind and look inside to identify your fundamental Essence, that innate capability you were born with. Then, look outside at issues or possibilities that would benefit from your Essence — your innate gifts. Your success should bring rewards to you and those around you, making the world a better place — even slightly better.

In doing this, you will have discovered your Life Purpose, which will create immense Passion, physical and emotional Energy, Creativity, Innovation, and Rewards. The result will be intense feelings of Gratefulness, the source of Happiness and long-term Fulfillment. The Rewards may be psychological, emotional, spiritual, and more often than not — financial.

Based on your experience, what are the 5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author? Please share a story or example for each.

Always write about something you know and understand, or at a minimum, are passionate to learn about.

Do your best within your means and resources to find talented and experienced developmental and line editors.

Don’t let financial and recognition success be your number one focus — yes, they are not unimportant — write about things you love and are passionate about.

Be or become a “what-if” daydreamer — someone who constantly dreams up stories — even crazy ones. An example — last week, I came home and forgot my house keys. I parked the car in the drive and rang the bell. Suddenly, my consciousness began to create — What if my wife opens the door and says in all seriousness, “Yes, can I help you?” She doesn’t know me! Before I got upstairs to my home office, I had a random, rough idea for a sci-fi, thriller short story. Anton Čechov would have been proud!

If at all possible, write something every day.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

Writing what I love and loving what I write — for example, my experience in leading the creation of I Can See Clearly: Rise Of A Supernatural Hero. I say “leading” because creating a successful novel is rarely a solo journey. There are so many “giants” behind the scenes, who help make the book a success. It was the “love” aspect that provided the necessary perseverance, play, discipline, and craft study.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I read a broad cross-section of literature — modern science & technology, consciousness, inspirational leadership, finding purpose, thriller, and sci-fi novels, especially those dealing with foreign intrigue. This broad range sometimes cross fertilizes ideas for stories.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Global Consciousness Paradigm — This is not a New Age agenda. It’s based on my study of quantum physics, consciousness, mediation, yoga, and a host of other supporting disciplines.

I would provide the tools necessary to help people look inside themselves to find what they’re really good at — their Essence — so that they could discover their true Life Purpose — loving what they do, doing what they love — and in doing so, helping to heal our challenged world.

The concept is presented in some detail in I Can See Clearly. Briefly,infinite intelligence and creativity have been eternally present in what is known as Cosmic Consciousness. Eastern Wisdom Seekers, millennia ago, called this the Akashic Record. Albert Einstein called it the “Mind of God.”

Everyone has access to this intelligence if they work to remove the mental fog in their lives caused by fear, misplaced desire, anger, and a lack of purpose. Because we are all connected by Collective Consciousness, it is possible to manifest incredible benefits into your life and the lives of others by the appropriate combination and sequence of Intention, Attention and Detachment — quantum physics demonstrates that all things are connected. As we have progressed physically through Darwinian evolution, this would enable a more rapid evolution of consciousness, and a more sustainable humanity.

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