Wow, I’m an “authorpreneur.” I could never conceive of that back when I first took an interest in writing so many years ago. It’s wonderful really, opening doors for us writers to become viable authors and share our work with the public. Quite the learning experience!
My writing career began by drafting press releases and artist bios for NYC music and film companies, then later producing financial articles for Forbes, travel and tourism pieces for a medical publisher, and more recently, marketing and sales copy for a Beijing-based e-commerce firm. I guess you could say I’ve run the gamut of writing on diverse subjects.
I am originally from New York and earned my BA from Columbia University where my guidance counselor had to “convince” me that choosing a major in Literature & Writing wasn’t a waste of time. In hindsight, he was right. Indeed there is much value in a Liberal Arts-based education where primary importance is placed on reading, writing, and critical thinking.
Several years later I relocated to Beijing to reinvent myself and pursue new opportunities for business.
Today, I oversee Shanghai EDGE Consulting, an online education company where I assist students at home and abroad to improve their interpersonal skills and guide them toward achieving greater success in academics or their professional career.
I sincerely hope that my new book, Escape from America, can help make a positive impact on society, and inspire others to improve their lives and pursue their passions.
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Escape from America: An Introspective Journey from America into China...by Vinnie ApicellaPublish: Jun 01, 2020Advice & How To Biographies & Memoirs General Nonfiction Business
Escape from America: An Introspective Journey from America into Chinaby Vinnie ApicellaPublish: Jun 01, 2020Advice & How To General Nonfiction Business
I was born in Bronxville, New York in the States. This was a little suburban area not far from New York City. I was brought up in New York and later California. Having moved around a lot, I can claim many hometowns I suppose. But my favorite is probably during my college years, spending a lot of time in Butler Library on the Columbia campus. It was my sort of sanctuary from the rigors of everyday student life.What was your childhood like? Tell us your fondest memory.
Childhood had mostly fond memories, all of the moving notwithstanding. I can’t remember too much from the experience, but my first visit to Disneyworld when I was about 7 maybe. That was terrific. It opened a whole new world of possibilities for me where my imagination could run wild.When and why did you decide to relocate to Beijing, China?
I first decided to relocate back in 2008 … something like that. Well as to why, haha, it’s all in my new book! But to be brief, I was disillusioned with my life at that time, and having researched and visited developing countries like Nicaragua and China, I discovered opportunities for being a part of the transformative changes taking place there. China was an exciting place and very welcoming of foreign talent. So for me, in a nutshell, it was a chance to reinvent myself and pursue opportunities for business and ways of living not readily available at home.What motivated you to initiate into the world of an authorpreneur?
I’ve always been very independent and entrepreneurial, and writing’s been such an important part of my life throughout my various careers. So for me, it was fitting to discover how we can combine our authorial ambitions with business. Frankly speaking, I’d never even known of the term prior to about a year ago, but whoever conceived of it, kudos to them. I think it’s something that speaks to so many of us, and for so many of us.How was your experience of drafting press releases and artist bios for NYC music and film companies?
I can honestly say if it wasn’t for me gaining that formal experience early on in my career, my book and much of the rest of my work wouldn’t exist. Those experiences allowed me to, first of all, be creative and create meaningful written subject matter, and second, connect me within the industries that I’d always loved when I was younger. Those helped broaden my vision toward the value of writing and helped prime me for what would follow in the future.In what ways do you think earning a BA from Columbia University has helped you shape into a writer?
At first, ironically enough, I didn’t want to do it. My counselor convinced me that Literature & Writing was a worthwhile major that would yield a flexible and transferrable skillset one day, even if I couldn’t envision it yet. I was leaning more toward Liberal Studies. In fact, I essentially did both, but what he told me really stuck. Of course gaining formal knowledge of various genres of writing and contributing to the school newspaper, then later becoming a freelance journalist, these all helped shape me into what I would label a “multidimensional” writer.How did you come up with the idea of an education consulting business for a local training center to assist students to study abroad?
Wow, that’s another great question that figures prominently in the later chapters of my book. I’d never once thought of entering the education industry in the States or anywhere else for that matter. This “business” sort of fell into my lap. Sometimes things just happen unexpectedly and you go with them and see where they lead. And sometimes, as a businessperson, you have to go against what your primary desire may be and let the “business” come to you, so to speak. That’s what happened. I’d always been able to teach or mentor others, and I enjoyed it. So when this opportunity came for me to develop a new business in a thriving industry, it satisfied my need to do business, but without much of the associated risk of starting up your own. In fact, it was their idea, not mine. I just had to convince myself it made sense. And subsequently it did.How would you describe your experience of teaching English, Business, and Writing at Shanghai EDGE Consulting?
Teaching has its own rewards. I never fully appreciated the teachers in my life until I got to experience it from their point of view. It’s really a serious responsibility that we can never take for granted. I feel honored that others call on me to help them learn English, or how to communicate more effectively… I’ve even had a few people suggest I should teach psychology! Overall it’s been a valuable experience that validates the amount of time and energy I’ve spent here, learning from others, and then to subsequently fill this great need. When you’ve got hopeful kids who depend on you to take them to the next level to meet their educational goals, or working professionals who want to advance further in their careers, it’s a wonderful feeling to know that you can in some way help make a difference for them.What inspired you to write your book, Escape from America: An Introspective Journey from America into China?
As odd as this may sound, the economic collapse we had during the end of the first decade of the 2000s was sort of the tipping point for me. I was already somewhat dissatisfied with decisions I’d made in life and questioning my judgment—why this, why not that? I suppose it was an early onset of the mid-life crisis. In the US, our economy was tanking, we were going through a leadership change, and things were going from bad to worse. So my frustration at the time led me to start writing, and “Escape” was an ongoing theme. I felt I needed to get away for a while, and so starting the book was the logical first step for me to escape reality and enter into this new world. Previous ventures in “emerging markets” where exciting things were happening, such as China, gave me a different angle from which to approach my book, where I could begin in America, conclude in China, and cover all points in between.When do you have the most fun writing? When does it feel the most draining?
I’d say I typically always have fun writing because I’ve always viewed it as a liberating form of self-expression without limits. Of course that changes when you switch to the role of an editor, as I’ve done, but I always begin with releasing whatever ideas are floating around my head and start writing them, and letting the revision come later. It gets draining when you try to force things that aren’t there. Sometimes you need to step away for a while and just come back to it when the urge reappears. Of course I’m talking about a book or other mediums that allow for this kind of freedom to enter and exit; but like an artist, when inspiration strikes, it’s awesome, but when it feels contrived or forced, and the labor of love becomes more labor than love, it’s time to take a break and clear your mind for a while.How much did you research while writing your first book, Escape from America?
That’s a tough one. This was never meant to involve a lot of research or come off like a thesis project. I had previously completed Discover China, which was in fact very research-driven… and back to question #10, quite draining! Considering the length of my book, there’s not a whole lot of research that’s gone into it. Of course there’s some, which was needed to be able to reinforce viewpoints and legitimize various claims about the US government or China’s healthcare industry, and so forth, but overall, it’s fairly light on research. Much of what you’ll find in there is based on first-hand experience not only from mine but from that of many others who’ve helped shape the content of my book and make it significantly stronger.Is it important that an author has other friends that are writers as well? Do you have any?
I suppose it could be. I don’t have other friends who are authors, so I can’t really speak from experience. I do have a couple of acquaintances who have written books and we’ve talked shop a bit, which was informative and fun. But in my mind, anytime you can pick the brain of someone who’s either done what you’re setting out to do or walking along that same path, it can only help to bounce ideas off of each other or perhaps critique each other’s work. I can’t say I’ve suffered as a result of not having author friends, since I’ve been fortunate to have other friends who shared valuable advice as early readers of my work and spirited me to move forward.What are some author milestones you've achieved so far? What more do you hope to achieve in ten years time?
Haha… well the first was finally getting this thing done! I poured my heart and soul into Escape from America—it’s literally like two books in one. My approach was this may be my first and only entry into the authorial space, so I better make it count. I hate labels, they’re too limiting. So while my book is obviously first categorized as nonfiction, there’s so much more to the “story” so to speak. When I was working on the second version of my book description, I toyed with the idea of including this:
File under: Social and Cultural Anthropology, Social Consciousness, Philosophy of Culture, Inspiration and Personal Growth, Business, Leadership, and (treading lightly on) China Tourism. I was subsequently talked out of it by my marketing assistant, but I may find space for it somewhere. But anyway, this to me helps illustrate what a monstrous undertaking this was. When I say anyone can read and enjoy this book, no matter what your background or your level of interest in America or China, it’s true. So absolutely just getting to this point after a succession of writing, rewriting, revising… round two, round three, and so forth, and finally self-publishing it is a huge milestone for me.
In ten years’ time, perhaps my book would have served as a catalyst for me to become a counselor or life coach to carry forward the ideas and principles that I’d presented in EFA. I would certainly like it to represent a starting point to make a greater impact in people’s lives.What tips would you give to someone looking forward to join any writing and communications skills course?
Set aside preconception and go into them with an open mind. Many people that I’ve experienced believe that communications is the ability to speak clearly, or good English. Those are but a part of it. Writing is a tool that once you possess it, creates a wealth of opportunities in nearly any industry you can name. Writing is not limited to just “writing” if you know what I mean. So the ability to write well and communicate effectively overall opens doors for us in ways we couldn’t have conceived of… until we’ve allowed ourselves to explore and then experience the possibilities. And this is a big part of what my students learn when they come to me. Yes, these are widely heralded as necessary “soft” skills that are so valuable at school or in the workplace nowadays, but I’d also argue they are just as valuable if not more so as “core” skills that allow you to be more marketable and do your job more effectively.How did you first come across the AllAuthor website? What do you like or dislike about the site?
I can’t recall exactly where I first learned of it but I’m quite sure it was from a list of “Useful Resources for Authors” or “Book Promotion” channels, something like those online. I wouldn’t say there is anything I dislike about the site to this point. I do think there’s a “think outside the box” and creative approach that is refreshing compared with the many I’ve seen. There are plenty of run-of-the–mill free or inexpensive sites out there calling to authors, but they’re either unappealing in their appearance or just very basic as just another nameless, faceless space to enter your personal details and a few links. I like that there’s some degree of dynamism here where we can play with our cover image a bit or pursue various promotional options. And let’s not forget, this opportunity to do an interview and share a little more about our work and what motivates us to do what we do. I like the community-centric environment.
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