Thursday 12 November 2015


Bonjour everyone and welcome!

Did you know I love pictures? Well, I do. I love taking pictures and I love sharing them. I love color pictures, and I love black and white pictures. I love pictures in frames, in blogs, and in books (the more the better). I love thought-provoking pictures, and I love pictures I can rub my crayons all over. In short, a picture really is worth a thousand words (can my next ms be just pictures?) and to prove my point, below is a picture I took a couple weeks ago......


And a few days ago, I took this beauty....

What exactly do you mean metal box when you say,
"Your computer was unable to start."

Just look at these pictures, they hold so much emotion, frustration, and betrayal. We see the battle between man woman and machine. There are lives and files at stake... These images personify the dying of the light and the motherboard. It is death and rebirth and then death again. It is a portrait as I curse, cry, yell, and curse some more. In these pictures I see a desperate soul trying to reformat (twice) a piece of crap computer. Ultimately, it was all for nothing.


The metal box died five days ago.

This is my first post from my new computer which runs on Windows 8 (which sucks, seriously what is so complicated about opening docx files? Windows 7 can do it!) . Looking back, I should have thrown the metal box of cookies and crippled rams over a bridge, at least it would have been therapeutic. But enough about me and my pictures, you should see the pictures in Mark's book REVIVAL!
(I'm a black belt in transitioning can't you tell?)

But seriously, I'm excited to be part of Mark's blog tour for REVIVAL and today he's going to talk about the many pictures that were included in the memoir and how they were chosen. So check it out, and don't forget to sign up for the rafflecopter at the end to win a bunch of prizes!

                                         Take it away, Mark! ----->>>>>



Nearing the middle of the Tour for my new book,
REVIVAL – The Donald Braswell Story, we find ourselves in France where Elise is so kind to let me parlais about pictures in a memoir—and how do you choose a final set?

 When I first suggested to Donald that adding pictures to the memoir would bring so much more to the story, he was immediately on board, but he soon emailed me with the same question: How do I choose?

I checked my battered copy of What To Expect When You is Memoir-ing, but when that offered little (except to get enough sleep before launch day), I asked Donald to send fifty pics that basically covered the timeframe of the memoir (early ‘20s to late ‘40s.)

I went through the multitude of emails, and because of age and technology (anyone remember how a scanned 4x6 Kodak can appear?) it wasn’t hard to whittle the first round down to a final selection.

Donald sent rough cutlines for each “finalist,” and now REVIVAL ended up with about thirty pictures sprinkled throughout its 236 pages (thanks to our publisher,
Pen-L Publishing.)

 (When I read a section, and then saw the corresponding picture, it really drove home how a picture really does tell a thousand words. Just as well… with thirty pictures, gosh, I’d still be writing :)

 Has a picture ever helped or hindered your writing?


Merci buckets, Elise. You rock, as does the Eifel Tower at night.
I’m stopping by MJ Fifield on Friday, and she’s curious about the challenges involved in memoir writing.




Title: REVIVAL - The Donald Braswell Story
Subtitle: How a Tenor Lost his Voice, but Found his Calling
Author: Mark Koopmans
Category: Non-fiction
Genres: Memoir, Biography, Inspirational
Publisher: Pen-L Publishing
Length: 65,000 words
Release Date: November 03, 2015

Tour: Every weekday in November

Back Blurb:
Five years removed from his 1990 Juilliard graduation, Donald Braswell is set to be “the next Pavarotti.” Braswell’s successful career ends, however, not with a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall, but alone, lying in a dirty ditch.

Following the hit-and-run accident that steals his voice and future, the “Texas Tenor” struggles with depression and despair—until the night his daughter, Aria, is born. Understanding this new and immediate life change, Braswell fights to relearn how to speak, sing—and share this gift of second chances with others.

Working as a plasterer, a car salesman, and many jobs in-between, it takes thirteen years—and a musical miracle—for Braswell to battle back and sing on a professional stage. His dreams and ambitions collide with a tired and angry crowd when he auditions for America’s Got Talent. For his family, his faith and his entire future, can the Rocky Balboa of the operatic world find the courage and strength to win just one more fight?  

Purchase Links

  • Amazon Kindle
  • Nook
  • iTunes
  • Kobo


Donald Braswell II is an American actor, classical crossover tenor and composer. Braswell was on a fast track to become an internationally acclaimed opera singer when he suffered a car accident in 1995that made him unable to speak for almost two years. After that, he lived a quiet life outside of the spotlight until his appearance on the 2008 season of America’s Got Talent where he was a Top 5 finalist, which gave him another chance at a career in entertainment. Since then, he has entertained audiences both internationally as well as shore to shore in the United States in concerts, television appearances, inspirational speaking and radio. He boasts an international fan club with fans from over 25 countries.

Braswell has reentered the world of music by singing in concerts starting with the Symphony of theHills in Kerrville, Texas in June 2009. He performs a variety of musical genres ranging from pureclassical repertoire to soul to mainstream pop. He engages people of many cultures by singing invarious languages outside of English, including Spanish, Italian, Neapolitan, French and Russian. Hisconcerts are generally multilingual, and he has performed pieces that are themselves in more than onelanguage. Some of these include: Mario Frangoulis bilingual version of “Nights in White Satin” (Italiantitle “Notte di luce”), originally by The Moody Blues; “The Prayer”; and Andrea Bocelli’s “Vivere”(English title “Dare to Live”). His other non-English repertoire includes Aqustin Lara’s “Rosa” (Spanish),Mario Frangoulis’s “Vincerò, perderò” (Italian) and the Neapolitan standard “O sole mio”.Some of his many compositions can be heard on his recent album We Fall and We Rise Again.Donald is a testament to the powers of the human spirit in difficult times and he inspires all who come to know him.   Find him at


Mark Koopmans is originally from Ireland. After working in Holland, Spain, France and England, he won his U.S. “Green Card” in 1994, and is an American by choice since 2003. Koopmans began his writing career with a feature for a regional magazine in California. Since then, he’s worked as a staff writer for newspapers in Florida and Texas. Koopmans is also a proficient blogger and is working on his next book, a novel. Koopmans lives in Virginia and is a married, stay-at-home dad to three active boys under the age of nine. He writes at night.


GRAND PRIZE (2 winners): Donald Braswell to sing (Happy Birthday/Anniversary) via
Skype or phone call. (A unique gift idea!)
1ST PLACE PRIZE: Signed Donald Braswell CD/REVIVAL book combo
2nd, 3rd and 4th PLACE PRIZES: Signed copies of REVIVAL (by Donald and Mark)
5th, 6th and 7th PLACE PRIZES: Signed copies of Donald Braswell CDs
8th, 9th, and 10th PLACE PRIZES: Signed Donald Braswell 8x10 picture


  1. Sorry for all the computer problems, Elise. Hope you can get away from Windows 8 soon.
    Pictures are very important and for a story like Donald's, they really help.

    1. Thanks Alex, so many people have told me to stay away from W8. I don't know why but we're having trouble upgrading to 10...hoping it will work out soon. And yes I agree, pictures in a memoir like this adds so much to the story. Congratulations to both Mark and Donald! :)

    2. *Thanks* for having me over on such a tumultuous time, Elise:) And, I really hope you can upgrade soon :) I hope you didn't lose any pictures/docs when the metal box failed...(I love Dropbox!!)

      @Alex: I was so happy to get the chance to review dozens of Donald's pictures. They really helped give me an insight into several REVIVAL-related events.

    3. Anytime. I'm just glad I was able to get this posted on time! :)

  2. Elise, sorry you have such a time with the metal box!

    Pictures go hand in hand with memoirs.

    1. Absolutely. Donald's pictures are a great addition to the book! Thanks for stopping by:)

    2. Hi there Southpaw! I've been trying to get to everyone's blog, but for some reason my browser will not open your website! Seems like I'm still going to have to shake my fist for a few more days until I get all the kinks worked out. Thanks for stopping in!!

  3. The black screen of death is even worse than the blue screen of death.

    As a photographer, pictures and photos are incredibly important to me. That's wonderful you were able to include some in the book.

    1. I agree. The pictures really do help add to the whole memoir. I'm so glad I was able to use some of Donald's favorites:)

  4. I had Windows 8, but thankfully, Microsoft sent me Windows 10, and it's love.

    Pictures are worth a thousand words, Mark! Is it really called What to Expect When You is Memoir-ing? lolol

    1. I've been hearing from many people that W10 is so much better than W8 (I haven't upgraded yet - because I didn't want to have any computer problems around the time of the book launch:)

      PS: *Of course* it's called "What to Expect When You is Memoir-ing." Great title, huh!!

  5. Windows 8 blows a ton, I'd be making fists at it too if I had to get a computer with that on it. Pics can do a lot, they've spurred a rhyme or ten at my den

    1. Gosh, I bet pictures are a fun thing to mix in with your creativity, Pat!!

    2. Hey Pat, I'm still having trouble accessing your comment box on your site in your current post... the computer demon hates me... or loves me. I don't know. I think I'll just go have a beer. I hate technology. God I feel old.

    3. You can have some of mine... I'm now wearing reading glasses :)

  6. I have never used Win 8 but from all I have ever heard, I am very glad. I upgraded my laptop to 10 but my desktop is still running on 7. Long story. I back up my desktop with Carbonite. Have done so for years and it is so worth it.

    Of course I haven't seen any of these pictures Mark. I only read the writing. I do think Grandma Dragon deserves a copy of this memoir, don't you?

    1. Ha-ha:) So true... I will chat with Santa Claus and we'll see if you've been naughty or nice :)

  7. Yeah Elise! So good to be back and see your posts again :) I was sad to see you hadn't posted in a while and now we know why! I totally relate with the crappy computer- my laptop is currently almost 9 years old (yup, that's right, 9). I can only use it plugged in, and to get the internet I have to pop the battery in and out, plus it overheats.
    The memoir sounds amazing- I'm putting it on my "to read" list, especially since memoirs are turning into my favorite genre. Add to that that's what I'm working on right now and it raises the interest level.

    1. Hey Tess! Thanks so much for your comments and I hope you enjoy REVIVAL! (After writing this book, memoirs are now my favorite genre, too!)

      PS: Your computer sounds like mine!! Seriously, if I unplug it... it shuts down in 13 minutes:)

  8. Carbonite is a blessing but those black boxes can still cause stress beyond the pale. So sorry for your problems, Elise.
    Mark, I think it's wonderful to have pictures in the memoir. I'm sure all readers find those most interesting. You've given me an idea for my own story. Not that I'd write my story for the general public. Still I've had such a hard time starting it. Maybe using pictures as prompts for the chapters will easy my journey. I love using photos as prompts in flash fiction. Maybe it will work in this case too. I'm collecting all your posts as I truly do want to write a memoir. This one really got that light bulb burning! Thank you!!!!!

    1. And Yolanda, here's another idea... how about you start every chapter with an uncaptioned picture and then that chapter describes the history of the picture? (OR... you're getting me going here... ) what if you had occasionally "book-end" pictures... then the first picture starts the chapter and the second one ends the chapter...

      In any event, "break a keyboard" and please, use me as a resource if you have any more questions:)

    2. Thanks Mark, I will. Great ideas all!

  9. Hiss and spit on the computer issues front. I think we have all been there, and felt our blood pressure rise.
    It is words which create pictures in my head, and transport me to different places, worlds, times... In a memoir particularly I NEED pictures to anchor me (temporarily) to reality. And to remind me that I am often wrong.

  10. I love having the pictures to help visualize. Not so much in fiction, but in memoir or NF I don't want to let my imagination run rampant, I want to know what it really was. I'm glad your publisher let you put them in.

    Sorry about windows 8 but congrats on the new computer. Every morning I wonder if my computer will still be around at the end of day.

  11. Ugh, how awful. It's amazing how much losing a computer can screw up your life. Windows 8 is impressively terrible. And I think it's much more therapeutic to smash it with a hammer.

  12. I'm still using Windows 7. Guess I'll by-pass Windows 8. Was there a 9?
    Good luck, Mark. What a powerful story about Donald.

    1. I had Windows 7 and really liked it. No firlls and it worked fine..... And yes, this is an amazing and powerful story.
      Good to hear from you. :)

  13. Elise, saw what was happening n Paris. Don't know where you live but hope you are all right.

  14. @ Elise - you must be in shock ... I'm reeling over here ... I wrote a different post for today after the dreadful Paris killings ... so difficult to understand.

    I've switched up from WIndows 7 - not sure what to .. but as long as it works, then I'm fine. Mark's story about Donald's life sounds just amazing ... and I'm so glad the Memoir has been published - I wish them both well with it ..

    My thoughts for France ... and to you - Hilary

    1. Then I forgot the pictures for Mark's memoir about Donald ... I do find it's good to see what a person looks like, or to give some idea through a photo of what you're talking about ... so I'm pleased a number are in the book.

  15. Alex, Hilary- Thank you for your concern. The events in Paris have been horrifying. My friends and family who live in Paris are safe. I wish the same were true for everyone.

  16. Elise, hopefully you don't have any information you need from the old hard drive. However, if you do, I can tell you how to retrieve them. All you have to do is remove the hard drive from the defunct computer and plug it in as a slave drive to the new computer. Then you can go in and see the old drive as additional storage space and click on it and retrieve all your files.

  17. Best of luck to Mark!!

    You poor woman. That is my worst nightmare. My techie niece keeps telling me to back up with an external hard drive...I really should listen to her.

  18. Yay for Mark! And yay for your new computer. You can get a free download of Windows 10 if you have Windows 8. And you should. It's much, MUCH better.

  19. I have an upcoming blog post on this, but Windows 8 drove me to Mac. I bought a Sony Vaio laptop with all the bells and whistles in 2013. About a month later, the hard drive crashed. I reloaded it and a month after that, it crashed again. I sent it back and they returned it 30 days later with a refurbished hard drive...same problem. I had to store all my files on a flash drive because I never know when I'd get that blue screen of death. After about a year and a half of that, I bought a Mac. Sony sold off its laptop division right after I bought my laptop and it turns out, they'd manufactured a lemon just before. Something in the hardware was incompatible with Windows 8 but nobody really cared to look into what it was...because by then, nobody cared. I'm just done having an operating system that has to try to work with thousands of different pieces of hardware. Apple does it oversees the hardware and software. So far (knock on wood), I've had a problem with this thing exactly one time in a year. The caps lock got stuck and I had to Google. Turned out I just had to hit four keys at the same time to fix it. I can deal with problems like that!


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