Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Interview with Dr. Suzana Flores

I was lucky enough to get to interview author and psychologist Dr. Suzana Flores. And I must say, I feel a notch wiser for it.

Introduction

As a social-media expert and commentator, Dr. Flores has appeared on national and international newscasts, podcasts, radio and talk shows including "Leiberman Live" on The Howard Stern Show, PBS, WCIU Channel - "The U," National Public Radio (NPR), "Just Jenny" Sirius XM Channel, WGN Radio Chicago, The ManCow Show, Univision Television News, Mundo FOX, Charlotte News WSOC-TV, The Ron Kelly Show, and radio broadcasts out of Germany, U.K. and Canada.
Dr. Flores has been quoted in The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, ABC.com, CBS.com, Esquire.com, Men's Health Magazine, Everyday Health Magazine, Mashable.com, Dame Magazine, The Nation Magazine, SheKnows.com, New Parent Magazine, Hispanic Health & Beauty Magazine, La Raza Newspaper, Newlyweds.com, Upwave.com, Mujeres Sin Censura, and Moms.me.

She can be reached at drsuzanaflores@gmail.com or through her literary agent, Liz Kracht at liz@kimberelycameron.com.


The Interview


Suzana, you’re a psychologist and the author of Facehooked, a book that presents the dangers of social media addiction. Those two things would trigger people to imagine you as a very serious woman but you’re, in fact, an extremely funny person. Do your clients ever see this side of you, and if so, how do they respond to your humor?

I use humor in sessions all the time. I honestly think that it's healthy to find the ridiculousness of certain situations in order to cope with them. I am brutally honest and blunt in my feedback, and truthfully, I'm can even be crass at times too depending on client comfort level and if appropriate to the situation. My clients understand that this is my style and respond well to it. They appreciate the ability to be "real" in sessions and hear someone "break it down" for them in ways they may not have previously considered. Additionally, my clients are encouraged to curse if they wish, laugh 'til the cry, and be as honest about their thoughts and emotions as they want to be, without judgment. Sometimes the best way for us to work through adversity is to either laugh ourselves, laugh at others, or allow ourselves to say what we're afraid to say. True psychological freedom occurs when we lose the self-critic and forget about censorship. What we feel is what we feel - period. We have to allow ourselves to feel raw emotion. Sometimes this isn't pretty and sometimes it's hysterical. 


How did the idea of writing Facehooked come about?

I first thought about writing about social media when I started noticing a new dimension in my clients presentations: Facebook. Day after day my colleagues and I started noticing that for many people, social media started being the platform for which people either started overtly hurting each other or it was the cause of misunderstandings and miscommunications. 
I spent a lot of time in doubt as to whether or not I could ever write a book about this subject. "I'm a shrink Jim, not a writer!" However, my intrigue about the psychological impact of social media got so strong that I'd talk about it to anyone who would listen to me go on and on about it, until finally one of my friends told me to stop talking about it and start writing. I began by interviewing people on their positive and negative experiences with social media, but the point at which I decided to take the book writing thing seriously happened on the day that I had to escort a client to the emergency room due to a toxic Facebook interaction. That's when I realized, fear or no fear, I had to write this book. 


How do you imagine Mark Zuckerberg, being a psychology major himself, reacting if he read Facehooked?

Ha! Well as fate would have it, I recently have been contacted by a few members of Mark Zuckerberg's staff about my book. I can't disclose more information than that for now but I can say, with a fair amount of certainty, that he likely knows about my book. 
If he read my book, I think that he would understand what I'm conveying through the case examples and the guidelines provided throughout the manuscript. I emphasize that there are many positive aspects to Facebook, but certain interactions and social media related behaviors can be harmful too. In Facehooked I point out that Facebook is not the problem because Facebook alone can't hurt people; people hurt people. Now that we have this newly found power to connect with each other and instantly interact with each other, we have a responsibility to treat ourselves and others with respect - both offline and within our digital expressions. 


One of my favorite parts of your book is a section titled Facebook: Helping Stalkers Since 2004. Have you ever been stalked on, or outside of, social media by a client?

Great question.  Truthfully, I've been waiting and wondered if anyone would ever ask me this question because it would cause me to self-disclose my own reactions to certain encounters on social media. Yes, I've been stalked on Facebook, but not by a client. When I first meet clients I inform them that one of the rules of therapy is that I will not interact with them on Facebook under any circumstances. The stalking experience I encountered was awful and required a lot of work to completely disconnect from this individual. I will not deny that the experience was one of the factors that inspired the book. I figured that if I went through a tough time trying to get rid of a stalker on Facebook, I wondered how many other people suffered through the same experience. 

 
Between writing and sorting other people’s brains out, you’re juggling two careers at once. How do you divide your time between the two?

Maintaining a balance between the two is still a work in progress. Writing Facehooked while working a full-time job, and caring for my father who's health was failing at the time (he's doing much better now) was one of the most challenging experiences of my life - even more difficult than writing my dissertation or studying for my licensing exam. Luckily I had an amazingly patient and supportive agent, Elizabeth Kracht. I couldn't have done it without her encouraging words. She has become a very dear friend. 
I've been wrapping my head around the idea of jumping into the writing process once more. Most people don't realize the immense pain, frustration, exhaustion, self-doubt and fear a writer experiences several times throughout the process, and this doesn't even include editing!  One minute I'm jotting down book ideas while enjoying the euphoria of feeling brilliant and clever, and the next minute I feel like slamming the keyboard on my forehead out of frustration. I envisioned myself flinging my computer out the window and accidentally killing a poor bird that was minding his own business, but was flying by at the wrong place and the wrong time.  #DeathByFlyingLaptop. No, the writing process is no picnic…but then I remember the times when I felt "in the writing zone" and it was during those times that I was deeply inspired to write. No matter how tired I was (it could've been three o'clock in the morning) once an idea hit me I wanted to get up and write, and it felt amazing. These moments make the process all worth it. 

Click HERE to Check out Facehooked

Lastly, I’ve heard that the book you’re currently working on is about sex. As a psychologist, do you still get shocked by people’s sexual impulses and endeavors, or have you heard it all?

The next book is partially about sex and partially about romantic relationships.  It is rather difficult to shock a psychologist, but every time I say I've heard it all, I soon regret it because sure enough, someone will share a story that's stranger than fiction. I've heard some incredibly detailed sexual fetish fantasies that were played out in reality, and they've forever influenced the way I look at the power of fantasy. These stories intrigue me, which is why I became a psychologist. I like to examine all parts of the human psyche…both the light and the dark. These elements, embraced together, make us...perfectly imperfect. 



A BIG thanks to Suzana for letting me interview her!
If you're curious to find out more about Facehooked...




Mia Thompson is a Swedish-born author living in Sacramento, California. Her international bestsellers, Stalking Sapphire and Silencing Sapphire, were published in 2013, and followed by the third book in the series, Sentencing Sapphire. Mia is currently working on completing the series’ last two installments, due out through Diversion Books in 2016 and 2017





 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Writing Productivity Tip: Defeat the Goliath

I remember the first time I used a real microscope. It was part of an old high school kit, with prepared slides with a three-lens magnification range, and had probably belonged to my uncle. It reminded me of horn-rimmed glasses and lettermen jackets and Richie Cunningham’s DeSoto, all sorts of ancient things that didn’t fit into the then-modern 80s.

But, man, did that thing blow my mind. It even came with a box of blank slides and cover slips so you could prepare your own specimens. If something was small enough to fit under that glass, it went under. I would examine each specimen and marvel at all its tiny parts, pretending to be a scientist, feeling like a giant.

The microscope wasn’t just a nifty gadget—it was an important learning tool. Not because it foreshadowed the microbiology classes I’d take in college (mmm, I can still remember the smell of the culture room. Yummy. *makes retching sound*) but because it taught me a subtle but important aspect of management: everything, no matter how big, is made up of tiny parts, and sometimes tiny parts are easier to manage than one great big part.

That concept is the basis for the way I manage big tasks in every aspect of my life, from my day job to my duties as a domestic deity. There is always something that needs doing, and I will be the first to admit that I might push off the big stuff in favor of smaller things. Facing a big, complex task (like Clean the Basement) is like facing a giant on the field of battle.

It reminds me of the ancient story of David and Goliath—a boy faced a giant on the field of battle, armed with only a slingshot and a handful of stones. One stone at a time, David brought that giant down.

Trouble is...goliaths are scary and I’m no David.

Facing Off Against a Giant

My writing life is no different. Books are big things. Completing a Novel is a goliath task when you step back and take it in as a whole. It’s nothing short of a formidable opponent.

But when you zoom in on the process and look at all the separate steps that go into it—writing, editing, revising, and so on—you can see the building blocks comprising that process.

Individual building blocks are manageable things. You can’t lift a brick house, but you can pick it up one loose brick at a time.

And that’s how David defeated Goliath, right? One stone at a time.

When I was writing my first novel, I only had one task: Write the Story. I wasn’t editing a separate book, or promoting an earlier release, or expanding a platform. My first novel was a hobby book and, spared the then-unknown distractions of marketing and promotion, I simply reveled in the experience of creating a world of characters and plots and intrigue and things with sharp teeth that hide in the shadows.

All I did was Write the Story. It was one task, and a very manageable one.

Now, my writing process isn’t so simple. Writing my current book has been a completely different experience. My main task is to Complete the New Novel. But that’s not the only thing on my to-do list.

I have a backlist that needs constant promoting. Halfway through writing the second draft I got a little distracted and produced two ebooks (and a print book. Whoops.) I ran blog tours and promotions and sales and messed around in Photoshop to design book covers and Facebook banners and even revamped my newsletter template.

When I look back at all that, I think: what a schedule! Each task on that list is a goliath in itself, with the top of the list being Complete the Novel.

Why didn’t I run away from it all? Because I did it one stone at a time. (Thankfully, those tiny stones pile up really fast.)

Defeat your Goliath

If you’ve never tried to deconstruct a goliath task before, I suggest you start with a list of projects you want to accomplish, then break each one down in outline form.

1) The Big Project (such as Complete the Novel)
     a through z to the nth power) All the steps that go into completing it.

My last WIP outline looked something like:

Project: THE HEARTBEAT THIEF

1) The Heartbeat Thief manuscript
     a) Complete first draft
     b) Edit first draft
          1) Write chapter summary and look for plot holes
          2) Examine timeline for continuity
          3) Historical reference fact check
               a) Clothing/language
               b) Vehicles/tech
               c) Events
     c)  Enter revisions
     d). Edit second draft
          1) Spell check, typo scan
          2) Grammar check
          3) Format checks (em dashes, italics)
     e) Enter revisions
     f) Read through
     g) Make tiny revisions as necessary
     h) Send to first Beta readers
     i) enter revisions if warranted
     j) Repeat a-i and send to next beta reader

And that’s just the manuscript part. Number two is the cover, number three is formatting, number four is marketing plan, and so on.

Everything on that list is just a tiny part of what goes into the goliath sitting at the top of the list. THE PROJECT: Complete the Novel.

The Victor Emerges

Making an outline for each project is like taking a solemn vow. I will complete that novel. I will get it done, line by line, part by part, one bullet point at a time. Breaking my big projects down like this keeps a project manageable, and keeps me moving forward. I complete a small task, I cross it off, and I’m ready to move on.

It also lets me celebrate little victories at the time. Each time I check a line off, I accomplish something. I’m a firm believer in encouragement and praise and having a cupcake for a job well done. I think most people are, too, but my philosophy of task deconstruction means lots of cupcakes along the way instead of a ten pound cake at the very end.

A goliath cake doesn’t get eaten all in one sitting, but a dozen cupcakes can be eaten, one by one, spread out over time. That's what makes the victory attainable—and so very sweet.



Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who, despite having a Time Turner under her couch and three different sonic screwdrivers in her purse, still encounters difficulty with time management. Visit Ash at www.ashkrafton.com for news on her urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde. Ash is also a contributing editor at the QueryTracker blog. She also writes for New Adult audiences as “AJ Krafton”. Her first release, a Victorian dark fantasy called THE HEARTBEAT THIEF , is now available in paperback as well as on Kindle.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Interview with Author Joe Clifford





I was recently given the opportunity to get up close and personal with author Joe Clifford. Here's how it went:
 

Introduction


Anthony-Award nominated author Joe Clifford is acquisitions editor for Gutter Books, managing editor of The Flash Fiction Offensive, and producer of Lip Service West, a “gritty, real, raw” reading series in Oakland, CA. He is the author of four books (Choice Cuts, Junkie Love, Wake the Undertaker, and Lamentation), as well as editor of Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Stories Based on the Songs of Bruce Springsteen. His latest novel, December Boys, the second in the Lamentation series, is slated for release (Oceanview Publishing) in 2016. Joe’s writing can be found at www.joeclifford.com.

 

The Interview



Joe, besides from being the author of top-rated Junkie Love and bestseller Lamentation, you’re also very tattooed. Is it true that you’re in the Guinness World Records for being the most tattooed man ever? If not, don’t you think you could put a little more effort into it? 
As I’ve explained to my two boys (ages, four and six months), there are three things the men in my family do: we ride motorcycles, we go to jail, and we get tattoos. Not necessarily in that order.

How much does Holden, your oldest, understand about you being an author?
He doesn’t call it being an author. He calls it being a “book player.” Which is a fucklot cooler.

When will you allow your kids to read your books: A) When their faces are overran by pimples. B) When they’ve put you in a retirement home. C) They already have; both sons read at college level when emerging from the womb. D) Insert age of choice.
Here’s the thing about what I do. I can’t hide it from my kids. I mean, I have no intention of “letting” my kids read Junkie Love. But it’s not like I’ll be able to stop them. Holden was two when he pointed at my book on the shelf with the big syringe on the cover and said, “Dada’s book!” And how I write is how I live my life, which is, quite literally, an open book. Okay maybe not literally, but you get my point. I strive to make my work accessible, and my number one goal is to not be a phony. I mean I named my kid Holden.

You’ve been pretty open about your past addiction struggles and your story is kind of amazing, like an R-rated Cinderella tale. Do you often, secretly or out loud, compare yourself to Cinderella?  
When I decided to do this, be a writer, especially writing Junkie Love, I realized I couldn’t do this half-assed. You can’t tell 95% of the story. You go all in. And, yeah, you alienate some people. Like Anne Lamott says: if people wanted to be written about more warmly, they should’ve behaved better. Only in this case, I’m the one who behaved the worst. Go big or go home. I will tell you this about Disney. Disney World/Land is my only happy childhood memory. I have taken my son there five times already. Like I said, he’s only four.

How did you come up with the idea for Lamentation?
Part of it is boring, the biblical Adam Raised a Cain part (for all my Springsteen fans). I’ve always been fascinated by brother stories. As a dad now, I see that you can actually have another you. My kids, more than merely being an extension of me, are, in many ways, a rebirth. But that’s probably more Circle of Life shit than the question intended. But brothers are another version of you. And I love my brother(s), and with one of them I am closer, and our relationship is more fucked up. Lamentation let me explore this shit, but in the context of fiction, which is not life; it’s life like. The other non-boring part, or maybe it’s just as fucking boring, I don’t know, is that you are trying to entertain. That’s my main job as the writer. It’s not to preach. And it’s not to work through my fucking therapy (that’s what I have Dr. Goldberg for). I set out to write a page-turning thriller. We’ve sold more books in the series, so I think I accomplished that. I mean, I hope I have. 

Due to my needle phobia, I could not read Junkie Love. Is it safe to read Lamentation and its upcoming sequel, December Boys?
There are a lot of needles in Junkie Love, and it’s not a book for the squeamish. It’s a true story about being a heroin addict in San Francisco in the ’90s. I was arrested. I had friends OD. I accidentally injected mouse shit. But there’s funny stuff too. It was a crazy time. I made some good friends along the way (it’s where I met Tom Pitts). But with Lamentation, and December Boys, and the third book we just sold, I can move a little bit away from that part. I probably will always write about drugs, or have them play a role in my work, because that’s the world I come from. But not entirely. I grew up a nice Catholic boy, and I live in suburbia now. It’s fun to look at that other side from that POV.  

We share the same agent. Despite serious effort on your part, our agent, Liz, loves me more than she loves you (for obvious reasons.) How have you been able to cope with this knowledge, if at all?
I know Liz loves you more. And it hurts. Dr. Goldberg and I will have plenty to talk about Monday. Thanks for reopening the wound. Want to remind me my dad didn’t love me while we’re at it.
Which of the following edible and inedible items would best describe December Boys: Kale. Steak. Tortellini. Barcalounger. Wheelbarrow. Donald Trump’s hair.
I am a steak man. Pasta is nothing but empty carbs. And I fucking hate kale with every fiber of my being. It’s such a shit food. Really. And I’m pretty sure I read somewhere on the Internet it’s poisonous. I never bothered to follow up on that since it supported my personal beliefs. Which is really what the Internet is for: supporting what you already think and justifying your rage.


Click Here to Check Out LAMENTATION





A warm thanks to Joe Clifford for allowing me to interview/emotionally abuse him for a bit.

Itching to learn more about Joe's latest novel, Lamentation? Here it is:













Mia Thompson is a Swedish-born author living in Sacramento, California. Her international bestsellers, Stalking Sapphire and Silencing Sapphire, were published in 2013, and followed by the third book in the series, Sentencing Sapphire. Mia is currently working on completing the series’ last two installments, due out through Diversion Books in 2016 and 2017
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Interview with Author Peter Hogenkamp


Today, I had the honor of interviewing our very own Peter Hogenkamp. Peter is not only an author and an upcoming Wattpad sensation, but he also happens to be absolutely hi-larious!

Introduction

Peter Hogenkamp
Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician and author living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter's writing credits include ABSOLUTION, the first book of The Jesuit thriller series; THE LAZARUS MANUSCRIPT, a stand-alone medical thriller; and THE INTERN, a novel loosely based on Peter's medical internship, excerpts of which can be seen on Wattpad.

The Interview


Peter, when I think of your name, I imagine it said the way Lois from Family Guy yells “Peeda!” Does this bother you?
Of course it doesn't. I am a huge Family Guy fan--because it's impossible not to be. And Peter Griffin is one of the few people named Peter to whom I compare favorably. You think I want to sing side-by-side with Peter Frampton? (You clearly haven't heard me sing!) Ohhh, baby I love your way, everyday... (Imagine windows shattering and babies schrrrrreeeeeching.)

Is there perhaps another Peter you’d prefer my mind to associate you with?
In keeping with the first question, probably not. I am a huge Genesis fan and for that reason I love Peter Gabriel, but I lack his intensity. Peter Sellers was always a favorite but I don't look good in a trench coat. Peter Dinklage is a great actor but, at 6 feet 4 inches, I don't think I would make a convincing dwarf. Peter the Great was evidently great but I don't think I have the stomach to torture and execute all the people who disagree with me. So, it looks like I'm sticking with Peeda Griffin. (He's bumbling, yes, but well-intentioned at least.)

You’re a physician, an author, the creator of Prose and Cons, and a big family man. How do you find the time to write? And do you even have time for hobbies, like, Bigfoot hunting and playing the didgeridoo?
There is no such thing as Bigfoot--I prefer to call myself a Sasquatch hunter. And I have no idea what the didgeridoo is, but I do like to spend time learning the language of Mordor--which shall not be uttered here.

The Intern is loosely based on the experiences of your own professional life. Which of these characters would best fit you as a physician and why?  A) Dr. Cox from Scrubs. B) Dr “Hi, everybody” Nick from The Simpsons. C) Dr. Quinn – medicine woman. D) Dr. Richard Kimble. E) Dr. Evil from Austin Powers. 
Not even close. I have always loved Dr. Evil, and think I might even pass for him if the lighting isn't good. Plus, we had a similar upbringing:   "My childhood was typical: summers in Rangoon ... luge lessons ... In the spring, we'd make meat helmets ... When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds — pretty standard, really."

You and I are both GOT fans. If you were dropped into Westeros or Essos, who would you try to ally with? And how would you, inevitably, be killed off?
Why Tyrion, of course: Who doesn't love a drunken dwarf with witty ripostes? Unfortunately, Tyrion would inevitably talk me in to stealing a dragon from Danirius Stormborn. I would succeed in riding off with Rhaegal, of course, only to fall to my death after consuming too much wine playing the Game of Thrones drinking game with Tyrion. (You drink every time a Stark gets killed.)

What do you tell people your favorite book is?
I tell people my favorite book is Curious George for two reasons: My parents wanted to name me George (after John Lennon) and I am dead ringer for the man in the yellow hat.

What is actually your favorite book?


Click Here to Read THE INTERN

The Lord of the Rings. I know I shouldn't say that--because I'm not a SF/F writer--but I can't help it. I read the book for the first time when I was nine, and re-read it every summer until was out of high school. More recently, I read it to every one of my children (I have 8 or 9) when they got into the third grade. (What third-grader doesn't want to read about the Doom of our Time?) That makes over a dozen times all the way through, and I never tired of it. I also loved Peter Jackson's movie adaptations (and no, I don't want to be compared to him either, I can't match that beard!)

A BIG thanks to Peter "Peeda" Hogenkamp for agreeing to this interview. It was a blast!

Want to read Peter's Wattpad story, The Intern? Have at it. You won't be disappointed.

You can also find Peter at:




Mia Thompson is a Swedish-born author living in Sacramento, California. Her international bestsellers, Stalking Sapphire and Silencing Sapphire, were published in 2013, and followed by the third book in the series, Sentencing Sapphire. Mia is currently working on completing the series’ last two installments, due out through Diversion Books in 2016 and 2017.