Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Picking Through The Broken Pieces - Conversations With Rachel Thompson.

I have been an ardent follower of Author and Social Media entrepreneur Rachel Thompson since around 2011 when her first novel A Walk In The Snark landed on Amazon. Described as a satirical look at men, women and relationships, the novel is a collection of wry and witty essays that were drawn from Rachel Thompson's blog and presented in a roundly celebrated, multi-award winning book. 

Building on the success of that first literary outing (which she added to with her highly successful follow-up The Man Code Exposed), Rachel founded BadRedheadMedia in 2011 where she works with authors to learn social media, branding, and marketing -skills acquired through fifteen years of successful, award-winning pharma marketing and sales. Thompson has coupled her enterprise with one of the most successful Twitter presences I've seen in recent times. Describing it as a wonderful, fascinating platform to connect with readers, Thompson represents the gold standard in the effective, engaging use of that social media platform. 

Her vibrancy, advocacy and entrepreneurship makes her one of the shining lights as an author and a personality.

So, when her third published work Broken Pieces, landed in late 2012, everything I thought I knew about Rachel Thompson was turned on its head - but in the most profound way.

Broken Pieces is as far removed from her previous works as is humanly possible.

Upon approaching the book, I thought that I would read it over a week or so and savor it as I do with most books. I started reading it after finishing a night shift at my hospital and I did not stop until I had turned the last page. And, when I lay down my reader, I sat back. I was stunned. I was moved and I was changed.

Rachel Thompson's series of vignettes have been inspired by life: love, loss, abuse, trust, grief, and ultimately, love again. They examine the deepest and often darkest recesses of her life and they are like a sucker punch to the stomach. Unflinchingly honest, even brutal are descriptions that many reviewers have used to describe this work and I cannot add to those really. 

Broken Pieces is indeed those things but there is something more within its pages - a power, a courage, a potential. Rachel's examination of herself is so raw and honest. By allowing us into her world, Rachel allows us to examine her but she also encourages us to examine ourselves. Her experiences here are unique to her, yet they are unique to many of us. And, within that, Broken Pieces has the potential to start a conversation that may well lead to the healing of many like Rachel. One cannot help but be in awe of what she has achieved.

In my conversations with Rachel, I wanted to explore the genesis of Broken Pieces, and I began by asking her what was the impetus for such a deeply personal work.

Well, that’s a loaded question. I never dreamed I would share such private experiences of my past in the way I have. The idea for the book started forming when I started writing my first book, A Walk In The Snark, and some serious things happened in my life -- and here I was writing a humor book.

It put me into a quandary: my book is nonfiction based on my life, and I’m not writing about anything serious – how real is that? So I included a few of the more serious pieces in that particular book, though I continued to write non-humorous essays and such. 

Fast forward to book two, The Mancode: Exposed (again, satirical humor), and I had met so many amazing author friends, and had such a great relationship with my editor, that I started writing about my childhood sexual abuse, the suicide of my ex, and other serious topics without fear. They challenged me to dig deeper when I needed to, and I’m forever grateful. 

In making the decision to chronicle these intensely difficult pieces of her life, the challenges Rachel would face in that journey would test her like no other endeavor. And perhaps the most significant of these was Rachel's choice of stylistic presentation. Rather than conforming to a narrative with a beginning, middle and end, Broken Pieces reads as a collection of fragmented vignettes which the reader is encouraged to interpret. I asked her a little about those challenges and what she did to overcome them. 

I’m so thankful for my brilliant editor, Jessica Swift (@SwiftInkEditor) for understanding that all the ‘pieces’ create a whole. She understood my work from the second we started working together (way back on book one).

I told her that I was struggling with a structure for it – by topic, by style, I was lost LOL. She advised me to put them together in a way that represented the fragmented feelings I had experiencing everything – so there is no typical chronological order that most books have and I love that.

I do get complaints from readers occasionally that the ‘fragmented’ organization bothers them, but that to me is a total win. That’s exactly what I was hoping for. 

Arriving at the completion of a work, for any author, is a significant personal achievement. With an undertaking like Broken Pieces - to have trawled through some of the darkest corners of ones psyche - ones human experience - the sense of achievement takes on a significance that cannot be understated. I asked Rachel to reflect on that sense. What did it mean for her.

I imagine like any author feels – like letting go of our baby. I’d experienced that twice before to primarily positive response, but this book was entirely different: I was really putting myself out there, sharing intensely private moments that for years had caused so much shame.

A part of me wondered if people would consider it some kind of ‘vanity project,’ but I think my honesty wins them over in the end. At least I hope it does. I also made sure not to go into explicit detail.

The most wonderful benefit, beside reviews from people I admire intensely (top Amazon reviewer/MidWest book reviewer Tracy Riva, Dr. Bojon Tunguz, a Top 10 Amazon reviewer), so many amazing readers, several awards, etc., and being signed with Booktrope for the print version of the book, has been connecting with many other survivors of childhood sexual abuse and being a voice for so many who can’t or won’t speak out. 

Testament to the power of this book, Broken Pieces reached #1 on Women’s Studies and Gender Studies within two weeks of its initial launch and it had garnered almost 55 unique four and five star reviews in less than eight weeks. As it stands presently, Broken Pieces has attracted close to 150 reviews on Amazon alone. In March, 2013, The Midwest Book Review gave Broken Pieces five stars, as did two Top 10 Hall of Fame Amazon reviewers.

In May, 2013, Broken Pieces won best nonfiction book honorable mention from the San Francisco Book Festival, and received nominations for best nonfiction and women’s studies with the Global eBook Awards and eFestival of books — she won first place with the Global eBook Awards.

Going forward, Rachel has a follow up to Broken Pieces in the works and I have no doubt that it will meet its sibling's expectations and exceed them. 

As an author, Rachel Thompson is a astute literary talent, able to cross pollinate genres and retain a familiar voice. She is a risk taker too and those risks have paid dividends. As a business woman, Rachel has poured her considerable experience in marketing and media and occupied a space in the social networking sphere where she contributes - and empowers other to contribute - to a higher standard of social networking. A standard that promotes conversation, the exchange of ideas and self promotion that espouses integrity, rather than blind salesmanship. 

Rachel Thompson is a fully fledged human being.

Connect with Rachel Thompson here.

Purchase Broken Pieces here

Tweet with Rachel Thompson here


Join Dean's Campaign to have "Gifts of the Peramangk" Reviewed by Kirkus.
(Click Through Below).

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Heaven Revisited - Conversations with Madelaine Standing.

In 2012, I sat down with Vancouver based author Madelaine Standing to discuss her journey both in literature and her spiritual wellness endeavors. Back then, I was struck by her dedication - both to the craft of writing and her desire to promote spiritual healing and wellness through a codified practice.

Every so often, an author appears from out of the cacophony of authors and you just know right away that there is something unique about them - something that you can't quite quantify. There is a magic about them - the way they devote themselves to the craft, the subsequent offerings they present that seem to transcend genres and the enthusiasm which they project in talking about the craft. You just can't help but be encouraged in your own enthusiasm for the craft that we share as authors and you want to share it around as much as you can. 

When I happened across author Madelaine Standing and struck up a conversation about her craft and her life more generally, I was immediately captivated by her spirit, her desire to connect and foster a sense of goodwill in the world. 

Standing describes herself as a writer, but she has embraced so much more onto her palette that is worthy of highlighting. From yoga instruction, to volunteering for charities devoted to women recovering from abuse, Madelaine's accumulated life experience, her vigour and positivity stand out as something really beautiful.

Her journey towards writing began when Madelaine left home at the age of seventeen after completing high school in Florida. She took a left turn by enrolling in a season of acting classes at Lee Strasberg Institute in New York City. Though theatre life was one of intrigue and fun, Madelaine recounts that it wasn't long before she became wrapped up in the world of words written by Anais Nin and Ayn Rand, thanks to her older sister’s suggestion. 

I began travelling down the California coast starting in Santa Cruz, California and I stopped at Santa Barbara for a few months where I took a side route and immersed myself in painting with the locals on the mountainsides.  A writing course at a Northern California Institute of healing and fine arts led me back on the trail of expression through letters.  

Soon after, Madelaine moved to Los Angeles where she lived and worked for an independent movie production company.  

Before too long I was being given scripts to read and study, and eventually report on by writing synopses on them.  When one of  my  feedback points regarding a movie script was incorporated into the movie by the director, I realized then, that I might understand stories more than I was yet to understand. What was especially exciting for me were the occasions when those scripts - with my contributions - made it into the notable Cannes Marketplace. I felt a further sense that writing was where my future lay.

A year later while living in the Midwest in between European travels with extended family, Madelaine began to explore her own way with words.  

My first attempts were comical, both to myself and to those close to me who were reading them, but that did not deter me. Through perseverance over the next six years, writing notebooks atop notebooks of ideas and stories I came to understand that writing, for the strong of will, is a gift that can be nurtured, thought it may not be first nature at the start.

Creative Writing classes at Emily Carr Art Institute and University of British Columbia with Paul Belserene, in addition to the course taken in Northern California, helped give her a basis for the craft of novel writing.  Books by Steven King, Betsy Lerner and others also gave her a great deal of insight along the way and from these seemingly separate threads a tapestry was beginning to weave itself together, forming the direction that Madelaine was destined to take - the destination being her first novel.

In Croatia and the United States I wrote the first draft of what is now Heaven in the Meat Packing District, my debut novel.  My travels, my love for humanity and the natural environment have fuelled me and continue to do so in my creative process.

Heaven in the Meat Packing District  follows a neuro-scientist named Sheldon as he attempts to rewire the counterproductive patterns in the brains of willing volunteers who have been recruited from the Meat Packing District of New York. When the experiments go awry, newscaster, Ana McKenna, is asked to develop a way to rescue the unconscious volunteers by way of her involvement in a top secret news story at the local station.

As the title suggests, the novel is set in the Meat Packing District of Manhattan. It is a thought-provoking piece in the sense that it invites readers to explore the environmental challenges of our day, but it is also highly-entertaining - as attested to by its accumulated readership thus far.

I wrote the book on the premise that readers are given the opportunity to delve into the world unseen that well-written fiction offers, while the book also encourages readers to consider their individual place within the world.  I hope people will leave the book upon completion with the sense that they are a unique human being, as well 
as the notion that there is still so much more for us as a collective community to wonder about when we step out the front door in the morning and look around.

Madelaine's literary achievement has continued this year with the release of her new novel "Jail or Garden". Similar in style to "Heaven in the Meat Packing District", Madelaine's new novel can be described as a uniquely drawn coming of age tome in which her protagonist, Tova, embarks on a journey of discovery that will change her life in profound ways.

Tova’s mad dash into the world begins two weeks before turning eighteen. She moves from the broiling sun of Florida to the State of Virginia where she seeks to uncover the truth about her late brother’s death. Tova finds refuge at a farm that is held under city-inspection for its defiance to stick to the rules.

Featuring Madelaine's signature lyricism, "Jail or Garden" is an emotional gripping tale of self discovery featuring uniquely drawn characters, sumptuous setting and an involving journey for the reader. It is very easy to be drawn into the world Madelaine has created through her artistic voice. 

Outside of her writing, Madelaine lives in Vancouver, British Columbia where she balances her career as an author with study, learning and teaching holistic arts such as varying types of Yoga, Meditation, Pilates, Life Exploration, and Reiki.  Looking from the outside in, one might wonder how she manages two professions of such contrast.  She explains how they effortlessly balance one another.

Hours of sitting at the writing desk, glued to my computer, leave me needing to not only meet up with community, but also to move! And, vice versa, so much time spend outward, socializing, and helping others through the craft and vehicle of the healing arts, leaves me needing to go within. Be still. Reflect, and then express the discoveries that arrive from having done so.

In re-visiting Madelaine here in October 2013, Madelaine's commitment to spiritual wellness and healing is now bearing fruit. Just this month, Madelaine launched her business enterprise Steady Stream Wellness. Madelaine describes Steady Stream Wellness as a suite of well-being offerings ranging from Yoga, Pilates, Meditation, Life-Empowerment Classes, Narrative Therapy Sessions, and Healing Thai Yoga Bodywork on the bio-mat. The true genius of the idea behind Steady Stream Wellness lies in its commitment to bring Health and Wellness to your front door - serving clients in the comforting environment of home. 

When I first featured Madelaine, I remarked at the time that, as an author, she cannot be pegged into any particular genre. Her unique approach to life and writing are as interesting and diverse as any author I've encountered. Her commitment to spiritual healing and wellness further defines her as human being for whom creativity and spiritual nourish one another. 

She is all kinds of beautiful.

Visit Steady Stream Wellness here.

Connect with Madelaine here.

Purchase Heaven in the Meat Packing District here.

Purchase Jail or Garden here.


Join Dean's Pozible Project to have Gifts of the Peramangk reviewed by Kirkus 
(click through below).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

All I Need Is An Idea...

I have gone to great lengths in the pursuit of an idea - especially when those ideas strike me at the most inopportune times.

It has been when I've been changing a soiled nappy (diaper) in the parenting room of a major department store and I am up to my elbows in doo-doo. There is never a pen or piece of paper handy. My kid has chewed whatever scraps are available like a tobacco plantation worker chews tobacco or, quite possibly the only pen or pencil or crayon available to me.

It's happened when I've been stuck in the pea-soup thickness of rush hour traffic and suddenly, a brilliant and random idea will crackle in my mind like the proverbial bolt of lightning. An idea so brilliant, I quickly descend into a miasma of desperation when I realize I have left my phone at home or that the pen I have dutifully left in the glove compartment has suffered akin to cerebrovascular event and haemorrhaged ink all over the discarded shopping dockets and scraps of paper that routinely get shoved in there. Desperation quickly evolves into panic. I need to pee. 

image copyright © universal pictures.

Desperate times have called for desperate measures.

I have resorted to scribbling on nappies (diapers) with whatever implement I can fashion from inside the baby carry bag. I have even gone as far as considering the contents of the soiled nappy (diaper) as an option...

In the end, you'd be surprised how effective a chewed up crayon can be on the front of a Dora the Explorer printed nappy (diaper).

In the case of the traffic jam, I've wound down my car window and sought the attention of the driver adjacent to me. Waving my arms in a messianic attempt to see if they have a pen or pencil and a scrap of paper does present some risks and mostly, I've been looked at like a whacko. Although I will say that, on at least one occasion, it has worked. I have secured a pen and paper from the woman in the car opposite...and her phone number.

Where the availability of my fellow countrymen or women has been found wanting, there is the chance of my locating a public phone booth - even though these are rapidly disappearing. I have devised an ingenious system whereby I will call my home phone from said public phone booth and leave a message with my idea verbally sprayed all over it. I'll follow up this message with a plea to my wife, begging her not to erase the message until I've transcribed it. When I first did this, she definitely used thought I was coo-coo magoos and there were some inadvertent deletions of these, quite animated, voice messages that would border on the insane. But - with any sort of abberhent  behaviour that goes on for long enough - now she kinda lets me run with it.

It does provide an endless source of entertainment for my children who regard the whole thing with fits of giggles when it does happen.

"Muuu-umm! Daddy's being cray-cray again!"

Well kids - well may you say that now. But wait until Daddy's ridiculously famous and you're being chauffer driven to school by our personal driver. You won't be laughing at Daddy then will ya. Huh? Huh??

So. What inopportune times have brilliant ideas come to you? Where were you and were you caught short with nary a crayon or a used diaper (nappy) in sight?

Tell me your experiences.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Twitter Beast.

An article popped up in my Twitter feed this morning that had been re-shared by one of my favorite people, Rachel Thompson. Penned by author and writing coach Rebecca T. Dickson, the article was a personal reflection on the beast that is Twitter and how profoundly overwhelming it can be for a newcomer to this most popular of social networking tools. Dickson's article lead me to think about my own "relationship" with Twitter and I thought it worthy of exploring here.

Of all the mistakes that can be made with Twitter, you can bet that I have made them.

When I first began my Twitter “career” around the time of The Hambledown Dream's publication in 2010, I really had no idea what I was doing. I think I set up my account on the advice of a friend who said that it is "essential" to my "platform". At the time, I was like - ??? - but, eager to adopt anything that would help my efforts to get noticed, I dove in to the ocean head first.

And I tended to observe (the worst of) what other writers were doing, thinking that what they were doing was what I had to do. It wasn't merely a congenial marketplace in which to sell ones wares. Rather, I found it to be a battle - a war almost - to be heard, to get the edge and to be noticed. I used every third party plug in there was available - from friend finders, to re-tweet
 engines, to group tweeters. I gravitated towards a number of self appointed 'gurus' who were out there making more noise than anyone else, because I mistakenly believed it would give me the edge I needed in the market place where it is all about sales. There is no room therein for connection...or so I thought.

I realized, after too long a period of time, that everything I was doing was completely wrong – that I was doing untold damage to myself as a presence on Twitter - as brand, if you will. I realized that no-one was listening. I was just another voice in the scream - kinda like that scene in Titanic, after the ship goes down and the camera pulls back on the desperate swimmers in the water, fighting to be heard.

I reconsidered everything – dropped the blanket promotion and the third party plug-ins and the (seemingly) desperate re-tweet groups. I began to treat myself, not as a marketing tool and began to take a deeper look at who I was following and who was following me. In the effort to make a sale, I missed out on whole strands of potential conversation in my blind pursuit of...whatever it was I was trying to pursue. I actually lost sight of my goals in all of that white noise from before.

So I began to tweet organically a whole lot more. I began to look more closely for people who were stimulating conversation both with me and with the Twitter-sphere more broadly. I looked at what they were talking about and found common threads of perspective. Since then, my own satisfaction with Twitter has grown exponentially. My new approach has paid off also - in terms of how my content is influencing others via re-tweets and the conversations I have contributed to and those which I have started myself. 

And, I have allowed myself to have fun with it.

Do I still promote? Absolutely – I am a published author with two novels, one novella and a contribution to an anthology that I want them to sell and sell well - and I am human after all. 

I’ll admit, here and now, that I probably still do the promotion thing too much. But, I am far more disciplined than I was. I'll slip in the occasional promo tweet here and there but that is not my motivation for my presence on Twitter anymore. 

I have learned the lesson of the Twitter Beast. 

And she is a pussy cat...

image credit: Izra (via Deviantart)

Follow me on Twitter at Hambledown_Road.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Gifts Of The Peramangk Receives Nomination In Major U.S. Literary Award.

On a particularly drab and grey Wednesday morning, this past week, as I was leaving the hospital where I work, after a fairly intense ICU shift, I did my customary email check while I was waiting for the car to warm up. I received an email message that I am still kind of blown away by but, as the gravity of it dawns upon me, the more blown away I have become. 

I have been advised that my 2012 novel, Gifts of the Peramangk, has been nominated as a finalist in the contemporary fiction category of the 2014 EPIC Awards.

EPIC - the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition - was incorporated in 1998 to provide a strong voice for electronic publishing. Once an authors' organization, EPIC has expanded to include hundreds of professionals from all facets of the electronic publishing industry: authors, publishers, editors, artists, and others. EPICs members work together in a unique collaboration to further the industry both throughout the United States and the world. 

Since its genesis, EPICs renown has grown and it has become an industry body known for its advocacy, integrity and its commitment to the digital and print publishing industry.   

Several months ago, my publisher approached me about the EPICs and suggested that we should submit an entry to the competition. I had little to no expectation that Gifts of the Peramangk would proceed beyond the first stage of the judging process, given that there are thousands upon thousands of entries and a rigorous judging process. And, when I received the news, I couldn't quite believe it. I received a certificate of nomination from the judging panel and was advised that the nominees would be listed at the homepage shortly - which they now have been. 

I am vying with two other entrants for the EPIC Award for contemporary fiction - David Desmond and his satirical novel Oliver Booth and the Evil Socialite and K.Z. Snow and her powerful drama Xylophone - both of which have earned critical acclaim respectively. They are titles I am really proud to be standing alongside.

The only kicker in all of this is that, now, there is a wait for us all. The Awards will be announced on March 14th, 2014 during the annual EPICon weekend, to be held in San Antonio, Texas. The convention itself is a three day event with innumerable opportunities for industry professionals, authors, publishers, editors, cover artists and literary agents to meet and network. 

In speaking to my parents on the phone this week, my Mum actually asked me if I was considering going - and for about an 8th of a second, I seriously considered it. But, in doing some quick mental calculations, the financial and logistical factors in my getting from Adelaide, Australia to the United States for the convention and awards ceremony are too vast for me to achieve. At this point, I can't see how I could possibly go.

But the thought was there...

So, yeah...I am beyond buzzed by all of this. I am under no illusions that this will lead to a huge surge in sales or put me on the path to ridiculous fame and fortune. But what it does do is remind me that the 2 years I put into Gifts of the Peramangk - the meticulous research, the hours of pouring over stories of utter devastation that was wrought on Aboriginal Australians, the many occasions of self doubt as to whether I could actually write this novel. 

To be recognized by a group of peers in such a way, is something that I will forever cherish. 


Click through to listen to Dean's September interview about Gifts of the Peramangk.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Revealing Mystical High by Lisette Brodey.

Author Lisette Brodey has been a shining star among diligent, independent authors for several years now, producing a number of well received novels that, while occupying different genres, carry strong themes and characters through engaging stories that have been a hit with readers.

As part of her partnership with Juniper Grove Book Solutions, Lisette asked me if I would participate in the cover reveal for her forthcoming new release Mystical High and I was only to happy to oblige. 

So, without further ado, I'm pleased to feature Lisette's new release cover here for the first time.

In Mystekal, a small, dying town in the Southern California desert, only 75 students attend the old, sometimes creepy high school dubbed “Mystical High,” where strange things have been known to happen. Jessie Dalworth and Jinxsy Patterson are juniors and lifelong best friends. At home, Jessie deals with the pain of an absentee mother who has abandoned the family for the lure of Hollywood; Jinxsy contends with a 17th “birthday present” she never wanted or expected.

Meanwhile, at school, the unexplained activity begins to escalate when Jinxsy keeps seeing a long-haired guy in the hallway checking her out. Jessie can’t see him, but her younger brother, River, can.

Then, in English class, a stapler mysteriously flies off teacher Eve Carrow’s desk, hitting a student in the face who has just mouthed off to her. The beloved teacher is in the unenviable position of having her brute of a father as principal, so she hates sending any student to his office. As Principal Ernest Carrow begins to terrorize Eve and others more openly, something or someone unseen decides that it’s payback time.

School is getting stranger, and Jinxsy and Jessie are faced with mind-boggling changes in their home lives that complicate everything. When a string of shocking events expose explosive secrets, decades-long mysteries are finally revealed...

Bibliographical Stats.

Title: Mystical High
Series: The Desert Series
Author: Lisette Brodey
Publisher: Saberlee Books
Word Count: approx. 72,500
Genre: YA Paranormal
Content Warning: Mild sexual content and non-gratuitous profanity
Recommended Age: 14+

Find Mystical High at

Lisette Brodey was born and raised in Pennsylvania. After high school, she moved to New York City where she attended Pace University and studied drama. After ten years in New York, several of them working in the radio industry, she moved to Los Angeles, where she held various positions at Paramount Studios in Hollywood and CBS Studio Center in Studio City, CA.

Back on the East Coast, she worked for many years as a freelance writer, specializing in PR and the entertainment industry. In 2010, she returned permanently to the Los Angeles area.

Her first-published book, CROOKED MOON (General Fiction) was published in both the trade paperback and Kindle editions in 2008. Her first-written, second-published book, SQUALOR, NEW MEXICO (Young Adult/General Fiction) was published in the Kindle and trade paperback versions in 2009.

Her third novel, MOLLY HACKER IS TOO PICKY!, a romantic comedy, was published December 1, 2011. The author blogged as her character, Molly Hacker, for over a year. All blogs can be found at www.mollyhacker.com.

In January 2013, the author edited and published a book of her mother’s poetry (written 50 years earlier) called MY WAY TO ANYWHERE by Jean Lisette Brodey.

Lisette’s fourth novel, MYSTICAL HIGH, is the first book in her YA Paranormal Desert Series trilogy.

To celebrate the release of Mystical High, Juniper Grove Book Solutions and Lisette Brodey are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a copy of Lisette's previous release - Squalor, New Mexico and a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


Great Southern Land - Tales of Australia - The new anthology featuring author Dean Mayes, out now from Satalyte Publishing.