Tag Archives: non-fiction

Sons of Suicide by Dan Andrews

page00011Review: Reviewing a memoir can sometimes be more difficult as it’s a person’s life, at least from their perspective. By nature and subject matter, memoirs can be intensely personal as you learn their thoughts, history, etc. as well as how they interacted with or observed others. With memoirs, you are not only revealing aspects of yourself but also those of other people, and that’s where I had a problem with Sons of Suicide.

As a person with painful personal history that is in the process of writing my own memoir, but more specifically as a psychological counselor now, I know that the after-effects of traumatic events can be affective one’s whole life. Those can take a number of forms, as coping mechanisms develop: these vary from person to person. Throughout this work I felt a sense of trying to make themselves look good at the expense of or in comparison to their brother. I don’t question revealing some things as facts, or events that happened, but just as that, so the reader can make their own decisions. Not having a judgement presented to them.

Although having an intriguing and sobering opening scene that sets the tone for the terrible tragedy endured and times of enjoyability when reading, the almost adolescently egocentric streak throughout of not thinking of the consequences of basically slamming their brother and pointedly showcasing how good they’ve adapted themselves really spoiled this memoir for me. Also, personally and professionally, I couldn’t help be aware of the possibilities of the manner in which this story was delivered could affect that relationship. A very good description but the memoir didn’t deliver that for me.

Description: At eleven, Dan Andrews was abandoned by his Mother. Fatefully, she made the timeless drive down Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago, parked her car alongside Buckingham Fountain, and, after sitting and smoking a few last cigarettes, drowned herself in Lake Michigan.

His Mother’s grave decision has given Andrews the ability to perceive and contemplate loss in a way not written about in recent history. Shared with brutal vulnerability and skill, sprinkled with humor and sexuality, Sons of Suicide masterfully entertains and enlightens the reader— serving as a catharsis to the feeling of loss, a feeling to which all humans relate.

NOTE: The author, Dan Andrews, has pledged for every copy of Sons of Suicide that is sold, one dollar out of his personal royalty will be donated to The Will To Live Foundation click for more information about this wonderful organization that is spreading awareness and helping with the teen suicide epidemic. Purchase today to help put an end to suicide.

  • Published: Nov. 27, 2012
  • Publisher: Broken Glass Publishing LLC
  • ISBN 0615729118
  • ISBN13: 9780615729114
  • Available: Amazon
  • Website: http://www.sonsofsuicide.com/
  • Source: Author
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Filed under Books, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Reviews

Interview: Greg Lentz, Author of The Nexus Complex-A Personal Guide to Truth

Greg Lentz Photo SmallGreg lives in Texas and is a musician, mountain biker, snow skier, and Shotokan black belt. Searching for Truth most of his life, he discovered a large part of it while enduring the pain of personal loss. His pets Max, Mikey, and Newt helped show him the rest. The answer was Love. He spent over twelve years researching, testing, and writing his book, The Nexus Complex: A Personal Guide to Truth, to share this comprehensive look into the human condition and our eternal quest for happiness.

The Nexus Complex Cover-Large

  • Title: The Nexus Complex: A Personal Guide to Truth
  • Genre: Non-Fiction (Self-Help/Motivational)
  • Publisher: Greg Lentz (indie author)
  • Publication Dates:  Print 1 Dec. 2013,  Ebook 19 Jan. 2013

Synopsis: After seeking Truth for years, I finally realized it had been staring me in the face all along. It took some personal loss in my life to help me discover that Truth had always been trying to tell me, “Love is the answer”. Once I began to understand the powerful implications of this revelation, I wanted to find a way to help others find Truth and experience the same thing. So, I began a twelve year journey to design a system that shared this knowledge in hopes of offering people a new understanding of what Truth continually illustrates to humankind; there is no higher inspiration than Love! The book reformats data on the mysteries of Truth typically provided by world religions and philosophies into an insightful system that is easy to understand and implement. The Nexus Complex is built upon a three-tiered foundation that presents:

  1.  The actuality of various social aspects of Truth.
  2. A method to prove this actuality.
  3. A process to apply this verified knowledge.

Through a cohesive design of concepts, techniques, and methodologies, the system shows the reader how to reconfigure themselves towards advanced levels of self-enlightenment. The common desire all human beings have is to experience happiness. Although this may seem elusive (especially with life’s difficulties), The Nexus Complex states it’s not…if we can comprehend Truth’s social mechanics. By knowing what, how, and why Truth dictates what is and is not beneficial for us, happiness can be created at will. One thing is certain, this is not your typical self-help book!

Amazon Kindle Link 

Amazon Paperback Link

Website: http://thenexuscomplex.com/

For readers who enjoy ebooks on Kindle, The Nexus Complex is offered as a free download three days in March (3/22 through 3/24).

INTERVIEW

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
Currently, I’m only writing non-fiction but I’m spending all my free time promoting my book The Nexus Complex: A Personal Guide to Truth. I wrote the book because I have a driving passion to spread Truth and help others find it to improve their lives.

 
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
This is an interesting question for me since I don’t really consider myself a writer but rather, a visionary who writes. So, I didn’t realize I wanted to write. Instead, I had a specific message to tell people and writing was a way for me to put it down into a lasting format they could utilize at their own pace. Writing the book also produced a product that would be viable for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot about the craft of writing (at least in my genre) through the process of completing this book. I did a ton of research and my editors helped me enormously. I can’t say enough about the importance of working with a good editor. In my opinion, it’s mandatory…especially for new authors like myself.

 
Who or what was your inspiration for writing?
Exposing Truth to enlighten the others was my motivation but Love was my inspiration. I wanted to help people discover the power of Truth and Love to help them transform themselves and their lives in ways they may have not been aware. If you honestly think about it, what better inspiration is there to do anything other than Love? It brings the highest benefit to everything we can possibly hope to achieve in our lives because it positively affects everything we feel, think, say, do and experience.

 
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Hmm…that’s a good question because I have so many interests in life. I’d have to say one of my favorite things to do is have a few friends over for dinner and a bottle of wine and then settle in for a delicious discussion of life. Intellectual stimulus is a turn-on for me and I love to engage with the minds of other people through sharing our feelings and thoughts with one another. It brings us closer and helps us to really know each other in a way that promotes wonderful relationships. When I can reveal my deepest desires to others and they do the same with me, it’s an exhilarating experience to share such intimacy…even on an intellectual level. Other than that, I love spending time out in nature (I especially love animals), snow skiing, and mountain biking. I also do quite a bit of study into relativity, quantum physics, string, theory, and cosmology. Anything having to do with the cosmos fascinates me.

 
Where are you from originally?  Family?
I was born in Houston, Texas where most of my family still lives. I keep in touch with my mother, father, and brother on a regular basis.

 
Is there anything unique about your upbringing that you’d like to share with readers?
My parents were divorced when I was two years old and my brother and I were raised by my mother. She’s such a wonderful person and did an incredible job of raising two boys as a single mom. I can’t say enough about what a great upbringing she provided us. It was full of love, support, and kindness. I did see my father fairly regularly throughout my childhood but I have to say that every child needs a family everyday of their lives including both a mother and a father. In my opinion, it’s essential for both to be integral parts of a child’s life on a daily basis.

 
Where do you hang out online? Website URL, author groups, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc?
Well, I’m all over the web. I do some Tweets, Facebook, and (now) Google+ posting as well as participating in some group discussions here and there. I also can get caught up in a YouTube spree at times. Sheesh, once you get going there, you have force yourself to stop! In addition, sometimes I’ll get on the web and just start Googling thoughts and interests to see where they take me. The internet is such a huge place to explore.

 
What types of books do you like to read?
To be honest, I wouldn’t call myself an avid reader. As I said, I love to interact personally with people. I guess I’m “old-school” because I don’t even like to text as I’d much rather actually talk to someone. However, when I read, I tend to gravitate to non-fiction since it stimulates the intellectual side of me. I’m always eager to learn something and get my mind entwined in thought and contemplation. Although, this is usually the case, I have been known to read some fiction but particularly, science fiction and fantasy. This comes from my interest in cosmology and my younger days of playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends as well as my love for computer gaming. Right now, I’m reading Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe by Robert Lanza and Bob Berman.

 
What would you like readers to know about you the individual?
I’d like them to see that I truly have their best interest in mind. I want them to know that I spent many years producing The Nexus Complex to help them understand how and why Truth affects every conceivable facet of their lives. My greatest hope is that humanity can someday rise above of our propensity to choose Fear and begin to transform into a Love-based species. My efforts to accomplish this goal are reflected in my book and I’m trying to do my part in the grand scheme by helping others…even if it’s one person at a time.

 
Who are your favorite authors and why?
Writers that move me emotionally and particularly intellectually are special. To this point, I’d have to say some of my favorites are Ayn Rand, Neal Donald Walsch, Echkart Tolle, Larry Niven, Frank Herbert, J. R.R. Tolkien, and R.A. Salvatore. Of course, Shakespeare was a master with words and his work is true artistry. The way he crafted common speech into a form of art is astonishing and intrinsically beautiful. In my opinion, writing is the essence of creating art from the use of words and he was (and still is) the best from my perspective.

 
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.

That’s a difficult question to answer but probably, it’s that I’m an accomplished vocalist and songwriter. I studied music in college and was in the music business for almost seventeen years as a frontman for various bands where I grew up. Yep…it’s true.

Your Writing Process

Why do you write?
As I said earlier, I write to communicate my journey to discover Truth. Although this path was incredibly profound for me personally, I became motivated to share it with others to help them make sense of the many aspects of Truth in their lives. I found that the motivation continually inspired Love and spreading it to as many other people as possible became my passion. During this process, I also discovered that the more I shared Truth with others, the more I benefited from doing so. Love has a way of replicating itself in our lives when we share it unconditionally!

 
What excites you about writing?
The thing that excites me the most about writing is taking my thoughts, feelings, and experiences and transforming them into a medium that transfers them to another person. Hopefully, it does so in a way that affects them in a positive light. It’s fascinating how we can transmit data from within us to another person and then, it alters them in some way. To me, this is the essence of art and communication. It’s a wonderful capability we have to connect with one another.

 
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I work until my fingers bleed and my brain begins to smolder. During the writing of The Nexus Complex, I had many sessions where I would be at the computer for over fifteen hours. On some occasions, I was writing for over twenty hours straight! Due to the subject matter of the book, it’s design elements, and the previous years before beginning the project when I was formulating the concepts and techniques it includes…I was filled with an immense amount of energy and drive to put all my thoughts down into this work. Each writing session compelled me to meticulously craft my “masterpiece” in a way that would be thought-provoking and profound to the reader. I can say the one thing The Nexus Complex does is get the reader thinking deeply about Truth in ways they may never have imagined before.

 
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Absolutely. I’d advise they do some research to learn their craft. There are plenty of resources and workshops out there to help them out in this area. I’d also say it’s important to free their mind of their own subjectivity because it’s so easy for us to get confined within ourselves and not see the forest for the trees. What might seem interesting to us may be boring to others so it’s a good idea to let family, friends, and associates proof-read the manuscript along the way and when it’s completed. I know this from experience since I looked at my work for so many hours that I’d miss things other people would notice.

Although I can talk about The Nexus Complex until the “cows come home”, I really don’t want to look at the manuscript right now. It’s seared into my brain and I’m a little burned out on reading it since I spent several thousand hours across six years of writing and editing. That’s why other peoples’ insights on a manuscript are so valuable. I’d also strongly suggest any aspiring to writer hire a good editor. In fact, I would say it’s mandatory. An editor is invaluable in polishing the manuscript in so many ways that most writers cannot accomplish. Plus, they provide another objective opinion to help support the author in producing a professional work. Again, I can’t stress this point enough.

In addition, not only does any author these days need to be willing to promote their book(s) but also, they need to be knowledgeable in how to do so. This is especially the case if they’re an independent and aren’t actively seeking an agent or the New York houses. The choice to go indie or not is always a big question for new authors. Both have their pros and cons so do your research and in either case, be ready to spend the time and money it will definitely take to get your work out there to the public. A great book with a weak marketing plan has little change to be successful.

Lastly, I’d say any new author should develop a thick skin and a will to press onwards. Not everyone is going to see the beauty in your masterpiece so be ready for some rejection, brush it off as subjective opinion (which it is), and move on. Determination is a powerful force in your success. Oh…one more thing. Work on your craft. Write more books. Get all the advice you can about writing and marketing books. Never stop gaining knowledge that will help you to be successful.

 
Is there any other genre you have considered writing in?
Well, The Nexus Complex and other possible spin-offs will keep me busy for a while. I also plan on doing speaking seminars and hopefully, mainstream media interviews and talk shows. The Nexus Complex has so much potential to transfer to other forms of media. However, I’ve noticed a little voice in me lately that whispers, “Try your hand at some riveting fiction. Let your imagination run wild and create something new”. Whether or not I’ll ever do it is unknown at this point but I have to say it’s an intriguing idea that’s got me interested.

 
Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing?
When I’m writing, I’m completely focused on transferring my mindset to the manuscript. I don’t want anything to interfere with that process so I don’t listen to music, watch the television, or have anyone near me to get me off track. I don’t know how this will work if I ever write any fiction but due to the intense subject matter and design of The Nexus Complex, any outside interference was not an option for me. It was difficult enough to complete this book without any distractions!

 
Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s the most unglamorous thing that you’ve done in the past week?
Clean the cat litter box but I dearly love my cat Newt and as unglamorous as it is to clean his box, it’s really a labor of love.

 
What would you like readers to know about you the writer?
I’d like them to know that I’m a person who wants to help people find happiness in their lives through learning how to unconditionally love themselves and others. We have far too much Fear in this world and not near enough Love.

 
What is the best and worst writing advice you have ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is to learn how to forgive. This means to not only forgive others but myself as well. The worst advice would probably be that money provides happiness. That seems to the predominant message throughout human history and it’s quite evident today too.

 
Do you have a system for writing?
For The Nexus Complex, I did have to develop a system for writing since the book is a system itself. I spent years thinking, observing, asking questions, testing, re-working, and re-testing the fundamental concepts and techniques in the book before I even began the writing process. When I started to write, all my thoughts and experiences from the pre-writing phase just came pouring out of me. I was so excited to be actually writing the book I lost sight of how it should be written. Initially, it was a form of descriptive non-fiction meshed with prose. I soon realized this would simply not work for what I was trying to accomplish because the book contains such a wide range and comprehensive set of data that this style would only confuse the reader. It was just too much information to process. So, I decided to design a “system” where the information was compartmentalized within three main goals:

1.    A presentation of what Truth is and how/why it operates.
2.    A method for the reader to verify this data.
3.    A process for the reader to apply the verified data in their life.

Once this was done, I separated all the various concepts, techniques, and instructions into these three areas. Then, I arranged the parts to correlate with the goal of each section. After this structure was completed, I began writing. Still, due to the deeply fundamental nature of the material and the distinct possibility that each reader would be challenged to remain objective, I had to be diligent in presenting the data in a way that was compelling and difficult to argue. This would be a key design element in helping the reader to acknowledge the material as being viable for understanding and accepting it as Truth (conceptually). So, yes…there was a specific design and a definite method to my madness!

 
Do you track work count or write a certain number of hours per day?
For this book, no I didn’t because I knew my editor would be stripping the manuscript down to an appropriate length based on its subject matter and content. Oh and believe me, she did. The manuscript went from about six-hundred pages to a little over four-hundred! Regarding the amount of hours I wrote each day, I worked until either my eyes lost focus or my brain couldn’t transfer the data. It’s funny because I remember times when I’d be staring at the screen, dazed and lost in time. Then, I’d snap out of it ten minutes later and see the cursor blinking in the same spot as before! I even fell asleep at the keyboard on more than one occasion! It was writing sessions like those when I knew it was time to get some sleep.

 
What was the most uplifting moment you’ve experienced during your writing career?
Unquestionably, it was when someone read the book (or parts of it) or when I had the opportunity to talk to people about it and they told me it was so profound that everyone should read it. I knew I was on the right track when I repeatedly saw people were altered in some way by the book’s message. Yeah, that was very uplifting!

Your Books

Is The Nexus Complex a religious or New Age self-help book?
That’s a relevant question and one I’m asked quite often. Although many readers will certainly try to correlate The Nexus Complex with their personal beliefs regarding Truth (whether religious, New Age, or otherwise), it was not designed to present data from these perspectives. It uses a pragmatic approach to look at Truth. For instance, the book specifically informs the reader that it doesn’t intend to explain such topics as the existence of God(s), spiritual realms, the afterlife, ghosts, demons, reincarnation, etc….nor does it. In fact, it doesn’t offer any “viewpoints” whatsoever but rather, it presents the actual state of various social mechanics governed by Truth as well as how and why they affect humans beings and their relationships.

Another important point to make is that it doesn’t attempt to offer any explanations of the origin or source of Truth. There is a good reason it takes this approach to all of these topics; they cannot be unquestionably verified. This is why humanity has created so many belief systems in the first place. We have been unable to universally agree on these topics because no one has provided unassailable proof of them…at least not yet. However, though The Nexus doesn’t delve into these areas, it does present that in whatever way Truth came into being, it exists in an observable and verifiable state of operation.

In other words, the book is not concerned with Truth’s origin because it can’t be proven but it is very concerned with illustrating how Truth functions in regard to human social dynamics. These aspects can absolutely be observed and verified to operate in a particular manner and The Nexus Complex was designed to help a person know how to do this. So, even though readers may initially associate the book with religion or New Age postulation, it simply doesn’t fit into those categories. Of course, during and after reading the book, they’ll understand this more clearly.

 
Why should a person consider observing and verifying Truth in the first place?
That’s another excellent question. It’s quite simple really. The basic answer is to know what is and is not in their best interest to experience true states of happiness. Let me to explain this a bit further. The Nexus Complex says that all human beings have the same, innate desire to experience happiness. It also presents that Truth exists in a state of actuality and this state will illustrate benefit and non-benefit regarding the choices we create in our attempt to experience happiness.

Furthermore, it says that if this state is not known neutrally, accurately, and comprehensively (three very important prerequisites), the only thing we have left to understand Truth and its aspects such as what happiness is and how it is actually produced…is our perceptions. If these perceptions don’t correspond to Truth’s actual state, we will have all sorts of distorted interpretations about it that vary wildly from on person to another, from one culture to another, and so on. As a result, we will have varied and incompatible perceptions of happiness and how to achieve it.

For example, a thief may perceive stealing from others provides them with happiness while a philanthropist perceives giving to others produces happiness. Both have the same goal yet very different methods of accomplishing it. If a person had a way to observe and verify Truth such as what it dictates as being actually beneficial and non-beneficial for experiencing happiness, they would be more successful in accomplishing this goal. This is one of the many things The Nexus Complex teaches people how to do but even more important, it shows them why it’s in their best interest to do so. Here’s a simple example to illustrate the problems caused by Perceived Truth and why it’s in our best interest to discard them and replace them with verified knowledge of Actual Truth.

If a person perceives that money provides happiness, they will naturally pursue money to be happy. They will correlate more money to more happiness and vice versa. However, if Actual Truth dictates that money is incapable of producing happiness, they will never truly accomplish their goal. In fact, based on their perception, their level of happiness will fluctuate dramatically depending on the amount of money they possess.

In essence, their inaccurate Perceived Truth causes them to be ignorant of Actual Truth and thus, they will never experience true happiness but rather, a perception of it. What’s more alarming is that they will be unaware they even have a perception. They will not know that they do not know! Conversely, if they knew the actuality of Truth, they would know money does not produce happiness and they would find it inconceivable to pursue money for this purpose. Instead, they would create choices that actually produced happiness as dictated by Truth. This is just one example illustrating why it’s so important to know Truth’s actuality through observation and verification while eliminating any inaccurate perceptions of it.

 
Why is The Nexus Complex different from other similar books in the genre?
There are three basic reasons why this is the case and fourth fundamental reason as well:

1.    It doesn’t present presumptions of Truth social aspects but rather, their actuality. Initially, this might appear to be a controversial statement to the reader but as they continue through the book, it viability will become clear.
2.    It provides a method to prove the actuality of these aspects. This might also seem to be controversial but again, the book will support the statement as credible.
3.    It offers a specific process that shows the reader how and why to apply verified knowledge of Truth in their life.

The overall reason The Nexus Complex differs from other books in this genre is that it’s a complete system designed to provide the reader with comprehensive data to actually produce higher states of self-enlightenment. Not only does it guide a person in how and why to accomplish this goal, it shows them how to monitor whether they have done so or not. Of course, one thing must be said here about everything the book presents; it all depends on what the person wants to achieve. However, that’s another topic entirely but The Nexus Complex goes into detail about it as well.

 
Your book is about to be sent into the reader world, what is one word that describes how you feel?

Prepared.

 
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Only one at this point in my writing career, The Nexus Complex and of course, by default, it’s my favorite. However, I’d have to say that no matter how many other books I may write, this one will remain my favorite because of the important goal it was designed to accomplish. It’s really dear to my heart!

When a new book comes out, are you nervous about how readers will react to it?
Not at all. In general, there will be people who are simply not ready for The Nexus Complex because they will not be ready to accept Truth itself. Truth can be a harsh mistress if a person is not comfortable with acknowledging things about them and their life that might shine an unfavorable light. On the other hand, many people can and will do this. Therefore, I’m not nervous since I already know there will be a wide range of reactions to this book simply due to its controversial and highly subjective subject matter. Actually, I’m looking forward to engaging in the coming discussions, arguments, and debates. As I said previously, I’m prepared…because I know the material inside and out. Moreover, I’ve lived it. So, I can honestly say that I’ve “walked the walk”.

 
What can we look forward to in the upcoming months?
Hopefully, a blog tour, media interviews, seminars, and other means to interact with readers and potential readers. I’m also looking into releasing an audio version of The Nexus Complex as well as a workbook. Several people have suggested writing other books that use The Nexus Complex to look at specific human social topics such as personal relationships, education, business, government, religion and even a version for children. These won’t appear in the coming months but may possibly be in the works a bit later.

 
What story haven’t you written yet but would like to? Is there anything holding you back from writing it?
Hmm…that’s another good question. I think I might be interested in someday writing a fiction novel of a person’s journey toward understanding Truth with all the ups and downs in their life to reach self-enlightenment…or fail to reach it. Either way, it would be an interesting look at the human condition. I wouldn’t say anything is holding me back but instead, I just have a lot more work to do in presenting The Nexus Complex to the world before I entertain other projects. Trust me, this could be a lifelong project in itself!

 
What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
For The Nexus Complex, my research mainly consisted of three process I present in the book:

1.    Data Processing
2.    Verification
3.    Application

Basically, these involve observation to conceptually discern Truth’s actual state, proving this state is actual, and then, applying this knowledge in the form of specific choices to produce benefit to the self, others, and the environment. I did a lot of observation of people currently living and those who lived in the past. Then, I began to observe myself and test the design elements on a personal level. These were in the preparation stages before the actual writing began. Along the way, others close to me were also testing the principles found in The Nexus Complex and their input was very helpful.

Although this was the predominant method, I also did quite a bit of research on various perspectives from philosophy, psychology, and religion. Even though these were helpful to support the information I was presenting, The Nexus Complex is not based on these perspectives but rather, observation and testing of how and why Truth functions in actuality. I have to say that using the three bullet points mentioned above as research altered my life forever in a positive way. Therefore, I truly enjoyed this research. It enlightened me to a greater level of knowledge and experiences regarding Truth and resulted in allowing me to be happier and to love more often. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?

 
Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
I didn’t have an agent or publisher so there was no deadline. Even if one had been proposed, I would make it clear that due to what The Nexus Complex was designed to do, it would take as long as it would take. If they didn’t like that answer, I would have been perfectly happy parting ways before the ink hit the contracts. This book is about helping people in dramatic ways rather than making me or anyone else rich and/or famous. That may sound too altruistic or even naive to some people but those were not the reasons I wrote the book…so I’m not concerned with such criticisms.

 
If your book is available in print, how does it feel to hold a book that has your name on the cover?
I have to say it was exhilarating! After taking almost twelve years to get this book completed, holding it my hand was affirmation of my passion, determination, and hard work. Yet, even more exciting was knowing I would finally get it in the hands of other people to help them improve their lives and maybe, with their help, start changing the world one person at a time.

 
Is there something special you do to celebrate when one of your books is released?
Oh definitely. A fabulous dinner and some special time with my special someone.

Random Questions
Name one website you visit every single day.
Hmm…that’s a tough one since I’m constantly browsing the web. I’d have to say there’s not one particular website but I usually check in on my social networking sites on a daily basis. If I did visit one site, it would probably be YouTube but I don’t and for good reason…I’d never get anything done!

 
Where do you get your daily dose of news?
Ah…the news. Well, I don’t usually seek the news because all it does is remind me of what miserable shape this world is in. I don’t need to check in on the tragedies of humanity on a daily basis since I’m well aware of them. With that said, I do occasionally check the news to see what’s going on in the world but it inevitably reaffirms what I already know. I used to follow the news regularly but the information was so consistently depressing that I decided to forego it and concentrate on improving my life and helping others to the same. However, I will say that when major world events occur, I’ll be watching and reading like everyone else.

 

 

End Notes:

Red, I want to thank you for the opportunity for this interview! I hope you and your readers have enjoyed it. I certainly have and I’d love to come back and visit anytime you’d like to have me. If you or your readers would like to find out more about The Nexus Complex or contact me, please feel free to visit the website at:

http://www.thenexuscomplex.com

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Filed under Contest/Giveaway, Interviews, Non-Fiction, Writers and Writing

Interview & Review of Alex Clermont’s “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely”

Review: The full title is, “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely: Stories About Love, Life, Death and Discover from an American in South Korea.”

It was a bit ironic that the day I started reading this “novelette” length journey in South Korea and the author’s first experiences with its culture and foods, especially kimchi, I had just journeyed almost three hours there and back to a special Asian shop where I live in Berlin which has the best kimchi bar what my Korean amah of sorts used to make. I love kimchi. It’s the one food that I actually crave in the world, so I was quite interested in the author’s perspective. I agree: it’s an acquired taste.

I started the book expecting to read of the biases, stereotypes and generalizations so many Americans traveling to foreign countries tend to express. Sometimes they don’t even seem to realize they are doing it, and I kept expecting to have those biases, some of them understandable, at least be mitigated as the author learned more about another culture, which for me should lead to respect of some level if one has an open-mind. The American ethnocentric mindset is one I encounter all too frequently and find tiresome, yet to be honest, other nationalities do it also.

Nothing was ever uninteresting but I had a mild problem regarding editing errors and continuity, and not just because it is a collection of flash memoirs and different events that happened. I felt the continuity of the work, even with the flash memoir type pieces, could have been better were there some kind of explanation between them, or they might have been put into a different order.

“Eating Kimchi And Nodding Politely…etc.” is an entertaining account of an American traveling abroad from his own country, with all the idiosyncrasies that might entail. As an American myself, an American Indian, who has traveled extensively around the world and currently lives in Germany, I could recognize some of the critical perceptions the author experienced that can provide surprising insight into other peoples…and ourselves.

Description: “Imagine leaving behind everybody and everything familiar to live in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and don’t know a soul. Worst yet, you look different from everybody there. People find your cultural norms insulting, and you can’t get a date to save your life.

Imagine you wrote a book about your time there…

Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely is a collection of snapshots that cover the two years that Alex Clermont lived in the country of South Korea as an English teacher. Scribed with a flair for humor, emotion, character and depth, these introspective narratives do more than act as a travel guide. They are creatively written windows into the life of of someone discovering new things about himself, the world, and the people who he shares it with-all while stuffing his mouth with kimchi.”

  • Published: May 14, 2012
  • Genre: Non-fiction, Travel, Essays, Memoir
  • ISBN: 9781476301723
  • Source: Author
  • Available at Smashwords and other online distributors.

Interview:

What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

Well, my first book, “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely,” is a collection of memoir-like stories about my two years living in South Korea, but I generally tend to write literary fiction.  I can’t do genre fiction worth a damn, but really write literary fiction because I just feel comfortable writing stories about people living their lives and learning something important about themselves and the world while doing it.

I also write those kinds of stories because that’s what I like to read. Even when I’m watching a movie or listening to music I want to be entertained in a way that’s not just transient – something you take in and forget about as soon as you’re done with it. I want to hear songs that will stick in my head and make me see the world differently. I want to see a movie that will make me think. So, that’s what I try to write.

You’ve written works of fiction before, this was non-fiction. How did you approach the writing of it differently?

When I wrote the stories complied in “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely” I took to it the same mentality I have when writing fiction. What was important to me was writing stories about characters and growth. So although the main character is me, I treated the Alex of the book as a stranger that I had to explain to the reader.

Alex’s motivations and how he saw the world was a story I tried to tell with humor and in a way that connected to universal themes that we all deal with. Yeah, it’s a travelogue about my time in South Korea, but it’s also a collection of stories that anyone who wants to read will enjoy – and hopefully leave with a smile.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in elementary school I had some issues. Too complicated to get into now, but I used to have to go to the school counselor every week for a sit down talk that sometimes lasted for thirty minutes.

One of these sessions happened during my English lesson. The teacher went over the class’ homework while I sat and talked about sad things in the other side of the school. The session brought me to tears that I tried to hold back while heading to class. Our homework was to write a story similar to the one we read the week before, and as I wiped tears from my eyes the teachers was reading mine to the class. I stepped inside just as she finished and everyone laughed and cheered as I walked towards my desk. They were quoting my little fourth grade story back to me, and telling me how great and/or funny it was.

I was crying before, but because of the reactions from my story I was smiling. Figured I was pretty good at the writing thing so I stuck with it.

 

What books are currently on your nightstand?

I’ve just gotten started reading The Magician by Lev Grossman. I really mean “just.” I’m only three pages into it. A friend recommended the book when I told him that I have plans to write a novel with some urban fantasy undertones. I let him know that I didn’t want it to have a stereotypical fantasy feel since it was going to my more about character and emotions and questioning the boundaries of societal norms.

He bought me a copy of The Magician after telling me that it might help – making me eternally grateful for the free book.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

George Orwell. My high school didn’t force us to read 1984 or Animal Farm like many other schools. I read both of those books based on my sister having read and liked them. What blew me away at the time was that those stories said exactly what I wanted to say: that the world can be a scary and evil place if people don’t wake up and genuinely work together for something better. That really touched a cord with where my mind was at the time.

What I now see in retrospect, and after having read “Homage to Catalonia” and his other works, is that I enjoy his straightforward style of writing. His books aren’t filled with poetical flourishes, but instead Orwell used descriptive language in a very concise and impactful way to tell great stories.

Yeah, George Orwell. Definitely.

Why do you write?

There are a few reasons I write. Most importantly, it’s an outlet.

I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but didn’t take it seriously until 2011. I had an awkward date with a beautiful woman, and couldn’t sleep cause I kept playing over in my head what I had done wrong. After a few hours of tossing and turning I went to my computer and wrote a short piece titled “13” (you can read it on my website AlexClermontWrites.com). After it was finished I slept like a baby.

That’s what a lot of my stories are: a release of feelings, emotions and observations about the world around me that might drive me insane if kept them inside my head. “13” helped me remember that. I’ve been taking writing serious every since.

Do you listen to music or have another form of inspiration when you are writing? 

Generally, I do listen to music when I’m writing. However it has to be either a song that I know forwards and backwards so it doesn’t distract me when I loop it, or a real mellow track that hopefully sets a mood for what I’m writing.

For my upcoming novel I’ve been listing to “In The Waiting line” by Zero 7. The song speaks of the alienation brought on by conformity in our modern society, so it helps with inspiration. Plus, it’s a damn good song.

What would you like readers to know about you the writer?

I would like readers to know that I take the craft seriously.  That when they see my name as the author they should know that whatever they’re reading has taken time and a lot of my energy. They should know that whatever I write has layers in it and that there are surprises to be found when you read it a second or third time.

For the most part though, I just like playing with words, so readers should know that they’ll find a pretty phrase or two in whatever I write.

 

Do you have a system for writing?

Yup. I think any serious writer should. I’ve heard flowery statements against a practical system that usually start with, “write when your inspired. Writing should come from your spiritual need to blah, blah, blah…” That kind of thinking will have you stuck writing horrible prose and weak stories because you never practice enough on the craft of writing, but indulge in it like a child in a kiddie pool – never learning how to swim.

First, I profile the characters so that I have a solid idea of who they are in my head. Even if the characters are real people, like in my current book “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely,” I still need to have an idea in my mind about what motivates them and what type of personality they have.

Then I outline my stories. Beginning, middle, and as much of the end as I know. This works as the skeleton of the story, and over a period of time I write scenes and other ideas that come to me, and stick them within this skeleton to flesh it out as much as I can before I get to the actual job of writing. The time all this takes depends on how long the story I’m writing is. For short stories most of this is done in my head, and the process takes about a few days.  For the longer stories, like what I’m working on now, I find it takes about a month.

Have you ever had one of those profound “AH-HA!” moments while you were writing?  Would you be willing to share it?

I wrote my book “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely” as a series of creative writing pieces on my site over the course of two years. A lot happened in those two years. One thing was that I became a much better writer who started producing a good amount of work. When I decided to compile the stories into a book I had to edit the hell out of the first few stores because they we so bad.

It occurred to me how much better I had become. I had reached a point where I was 100% confident in my skills as a writer. It was definitely an “AH-HA” moment for me.

Your Books

 

What can we look forward to in the upcoming months?

I have a few projects in the works this year to advance my new indie author career. “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely” is my first book, so now that I’ve put that out I’m working on a novelette that I will release only as an ebook. It’s a comedy called “Missing Rib” and the people who’ve read it so far tell me that they love it. Hopefully everyone else who reads it will think so too.

After that I’m going to release my first novel. Hopefully by the end of the year. Still working on it now along with a pile of other things. “Eating Kimchi and Nodding Politely” was a way to introduce myself to readers. To say to everyone on Amazon, “Look at me! I’m a pretty good writer!”

 

Your Characters

 

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I think any writer would tell you that it’s a combination of both. Or maybe that’s just me.

When I write characters their general profile is usually from pure imagination. However when you get to writing them you have to give them life and personality, and in my case that personality comes, largely, form me and people I’ve met. If I write about someone’s reaction to a tragedy I’m going to have to pull that emotion and descriptive language from how I might feel as human being in a similar situation. We’re all human and so we all have the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of others. Some people have atrophied that part of their mind, but I think a good writer has that muscle flexing all the time.

I twist and turn whatever is Alex in that character till it’s unrecognizable, but there is little bit of me in every character I write, for better or for worst.

 

Author Profile:

Alex Clermont is a writer born and raised in New York City. He has a BA in English creative writing from Hunter College and has been an English teacher for the past several years.

Alex has been a contributing writer to Beyond Race Magazine, covering and interviewing independent artists and musicians. He was also the managing editor of Plateau, a quarterly print magazine that focused on independent musicians.

He has been published in the Anthology, Every Second Sunday– a collection by authors from around the world. His short story, “Catching Butterflies” can be read in the 2011 Anthology Out of Place, and his story, “Standby” can be seen on the online literary magazine Scholars and Rogues.

In May 2012 he independently published, “Eating Kimchi & Nodding politely” which is a collection of Narratives about his time as an English teacher in South Korea.

Website: http://www.alexclermontwrites.com/

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Filed under Books, Culture, Interviews, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Reviews, Travel, Writers and Writing

Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages by Boyd Lemon, A Review and Literary Observation

Review: “Digging Deep” by Boyd Lemon is plain in delivery with flourishes of creative phrase that are interesting yet never mask truth from the author’s perspective. There was much hard won wisdom throughout the narrative that could apply across cultures, but I did find some of it more especially related to what I think of as new American and of European descent. So for some, me included, the general life and story wasn’t applicable per se.

There were parts I could understand and empathize with such as not wanting to be different, even though in my case I am literally different, while other choices and behaviors were completely alien and though I’ve comprehended and observed such, it wouldn’t occur to me to do so at any time. I think that’s the nature of memoirs, however, and why some appeal to peers and then others have no interest in ones too different from their own lives or realms of experience. Adult language, situations and explicit descriptions are a part of the whole that are indicative of an adult’s life, so that should be no surprise for mature readers. I believe this memoir would have great appeal to select groups but should be admired by all for its intention.

Observations: I believe most writers have a courage non-writers don’t necessarily understand. Certainly, they may acknowledge the creative process, but the fact is, whether fiction or non-fiction, for many, being published means putting your heart and soul out there for others to judge. This is one reason I review as I do. Not excusing rude reactions, for some is not a matter of being “thin-skinned” or “overly-sensitive” when someone harshly judges their work in a disparaging or unnecessarily nasty way, especially if it is another writer. It is not a learning process to receive such, besides which, in my opinion, it is as if that writer has forgotten what writing really is and means. Not liking something is fine, saying why is fine, insulting or disrespecting the person themselves is unacceptable to me.

Then there is a special class of writers, memoirists, of the factual kind (not the heavily embellished or really not quite true kind we’ve seen in some news revelations). You are laying bare your soul in an entirely different way, for whatever reason you choose to do so, however you choose to do so. It’s not for entertainment purposes. It is not to titillate the reader, unless it is that sort of book. I think it is crucially important to respect the subject matter and tone. Some people question what’s the point, what do they gain from reading a memoir if it isn’t a celebrity or historical figure. Even the memoirist might ask that sometimes, and certainly the literary agents who reject the vast majority of everything do so, and I don’t think it’s a matter of their having delusions of grandeur that causes them to record some of their most personal experiences and thoughts.

Description: Lemon moves from a lifetime in California to live platonically with a 24-year-old female college student. He takes us with him on his journey to uncover his role in the destruction of his three marriages.

With brutal honesty, courage and insight he uncovers and exposes his conduct and attitudes about women and marriage that had been profoundly influenced by his place on the cusp between the moralistic generation of the 1940’s and the next generation that embraced sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll and greater independence and equality for women.

Deeply troubled by his career choice as a corporate lawyer, he nevertheless, used it for years to avoid his marital issues. Lemon’s story will guide you in resolving your own relationship problems.

Paperback, 336 pages, and for Kindle
Published April 26, 2011
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN 1432768468 (ISBN13: 9781432768461)
Source: Author

About the Author:

“I lived most of my life in Southern California. Moved to Boston in March 2007, where I stayed until spring of 2010. I loved it — great city. I write short stories and have finished a memoir about my three marriages. It will be published in 2011.

I’m learning to draw. I love good food, and listening to good music and visiting the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. When in Boston, I walked and walked and walked around that beautiful city. Now I live in Paris. What can I say?

I love that so many of my life dreams have come true: Lived in a home with a stunning 180 degree view of the California coast, Traveled to Africa, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, France, Ireland, Costa Rica….

Website:  http://www.booksinsync.com/boydlemon.html

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The Red Gate by Richard Sutton

Review: For those interested in family background searches and discoveries, especially of the Irish variety, The Red Gate would certainly be quite an enjoyable piece of reading. Obviously the result of much extensive and sincere research, the author’s literary effort is both passionate and intelligent with a writing style that flows with the lilting accent of its characters. The repeated habit of missed punctuation throughout was unfortunate, but for me it didn’t take away too much from the story itself.

Although I am not Irish and have no relatives that I know of, I have visited the Emerald Isle before and have a number of friends there, and reading this book made me smile thinking of their voices, their tales and unique personalities. A very special quality with which the author was able to embue his work. “The Red Gate” is great example of how family history can be made interesting and accessible to the newer generations.

Description: An unexplained drowning…a muddy fall. A chain of unexpected events, a discovery and an ancient secret threaten the future. The story begins with a rainy funeral in Dublin in 1912. It tells how a very traditional, Western Irish sheep raising family learn of a secret holding them to their land and to an ancient promise. In the process of unexpected discovery they must put aside personal insecurities and failings and open up their lives to defend themselves. A devious plan hatched by a greedy academic attempts to reveal their secret to the world for his own gain. This they must prevent at all cost. Their good humored manner of removing obstacles, both figurative and solid, reminds the reader that not all sources of strength are apparent. Despite loss and fear, they learn that help can come from sources seen and unseen, as they discover their place in the greater world.

Available in a variety of formats including ebook and print, at Amazon and Smashwords.

ISBN: 0000720372
ISBN13: 2940000720370
First published: 18 October 2009
Source: Author

Author Bio:

 

From San Rafael, California on a windy January in 1952, I’ve taken quite a few steps. My father told me how to walk in the woods when I was about 6, how to pilot a boat when I was 8, bought me a Kay guitar when I was 9 then told me not to ever join the army when I was about 13.

University of Oregon 1969 — Everything else, until I met my wife on Manhattan’s Canal Street in 1973, is complicated filler. In short, I’ve worn lots of different hats and hung them all over the place. Now, I have the chance to concentrate on what I really love about being alive in this amazing Creation, and to read what I like, when I like; listen to and make the kind of music that gives me peace and to write.

I learned my craft post-college, spending 20-plus years in the trenches of advertising and publicity as a graphic designer, marker-pen-jockey, art director and copy writer. I served the needs of a wide range of clients from corporate multinationals to non-profits and small retail businesses.

Our family business, since 1985 has been trading and retail in the American Indian arts, primarily Southwestern cultures. Indigenous cultures world wide, have an amazing resilience and ability to endure despite the most repressive conditions imposed by more “advanced” occupiers.

This has been the norm since our species emerged to find the ice melting! I try to reveal characters in whom this interplay and struggle is evident, in my work. Celtic/Irish themes are a specialty and a life-long interest, probably having something to do with my Irish-Anglo bloodlines and my Irish wife!

Website:  http://www.sailletales.com/

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Filed under Memoir, Non-Fiction, Reviews