Wednesday, August 26, 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:



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


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.

Monday, August 24, 2015


It's official!
The SILENCING SAPPHIRE Book Club will start on Wattpad some time in the coming weeks!

The club will lead up to the release of SENTENCING SAPPHIRE, the third book in the Sapphire Dubois Series, on Oct. 6.
Along with the free reading of the second book in the series, a contest will also be held on Wattpad. The winners will be announced at the end of the book club, and will receive ALL three (E-pub) books in the series: Stalking Sapphire, Silencing Sapphire, and Sentencing Sapphire.

In other news, I'm counting down the hours until the cover for SENTENCING SAPPHIRE will be  ready. Soon, very, very soon, I'm told!

More updates to come...


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Interview with Author Peter Hogenkamp

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


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?
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!)

Click Here to Read THE INTERN

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:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ten Reasons To Adopt a Pet

I usually talk about writing, but today, I'd like to share my secondary passion.
There are so many reasons to adopt from an animal shelter instead of buying from a breeder, pet store, or god forbid, a puppy mill. I'm sharing the Humane Society's list, since they've put it better words than I ever could. But first, I'd like to add my own reason to the top.

My Reason

In 2007, my husband and I drove over to the park in Burbank where animal societies all over L.A were holding a fair. Of course, we'd decided, we were only there to donate and not to get a pet.
We were students, at the time, and we didn't even know if we'd be able to stay afloat in the insanely expensive city after school was out. Getting a pet would just be plain irresponsible, we'd agreed beforehand.

After twenty minutes at the fair, my husband pointed at a funny-looking black and white mutt with a red bandana. We watched her for awhile as people with equal interest in her funny-looking-ness came up to the handle to greet her. She was unsocial, her tail was down, and she refused to accept the touch of anyone trying to woo her. As soon as people realized she wasn't "friendly" they moved on.
We kept watching her as the handler took her to the line of dogs that would be brought up on stage for display. One after one the dogs came up to the center of the stage and sat nicely so the audience could look at them as the announcer told us their names and stories.

When it was time for the funny-looking mutt, the handler brought her up and told her to sit. The mutt looked at the audience, then turned her butt to them and sat.
"Ah..." the announcer said, "and this is Oreo."
Though the handler tried to coax her to turn, Oreo sat resiliently, facing the wrong direction, in a very screw-you-all manner.

After they brought her back down, my husband suggested we should walk over to her.
"But we're not adopting," I reminded.
"Of course we're not," he agreed as we walked over. "We can't."
My husband kneeled by Oreo. Immediately, and without reservation, she sprung up to give him a kiss. My husband looked up at me, eyes saying "ah, shit."
Ah, shit, I replied telepathically.
"Do you have other pets?" the handler asked. "She doesn't get along with other dogs, or cats. Or most people."
"We can't adopt," I hurried. "We're just...ah...sorry." I nodded at my husband to go, and he got up, saying his goodbyes to Oreo.

As we left her, and moved back to our car, we overheard someone say that the dogs with the red bandanas were the ones that only had three days to live.
My husband and I looked at each other in horror, then back at Oreo with her red bandana, sitting once more with her butt to the by-passers. We didn't know if it was true, or merely some random person's theory, (still don't know) but we reacted. We marched straight up to the handler and said, "we want her."

The moment we left the park, Oreo started prancing. Her tail, which had been permanently down, shot up. I don't care what people say on how much a dog can and cannot comprehend, she knew she was not going back to the shelter.

Since, Oreo has been with us everywhere we've moved: Colorado, Europe, Nevada, and now back to California. It's been eight years since that day in the park, and when I think back on it, I can't believe how close we were to walking away from her, simply because we didn't feel our future was perfectly laid out for us. But, when is it ever?

My reason to vow shelter adoption for as long as I live?
The thought of this picture of our dog--happy as can be on a day at the lake--having never happened because no one ever gave her a second chance, does it for me.
Oreo Age 7

Ten Reasons To Adopt a Pet

List from Humane Society:

1. Because you'll save a life

A shelter pet is more than one in a million—she's one in 2.7 million. That's the number of adoptable dogs and cats who are still euthanized each year in the United States, simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people adopt.
The number of euthanized animals could be reduced dramatically if more people adopted pets instead of buying them. When you adopt, you save your animal and open up shelter space for another animal who might need it.

2. Because you'll get a great animal.

Animal shelters and rescue groups are brimming with happy, healthy pets just waiting for someone to take them home. Most shelter pets ended up there because of a human problem like a move or a divorce, not because the animal did anything wrong.

3. Because you'll get a great bargain.

When you adopt a pet, the cost of spay/neuter, first vaccinations and sometimes microchipping is usually included in the adoption price, which means you've scored a major deal—a fuzzy deal who will thank you with kisses or purrs for years to come.

4. Because of the bragging rights.

No one needs to see another selfie—unless it’s a selfie of you with the adorable cat you just adopted, like the hero you are! Adopt a pet, post the pictures and let the love (likes) roll in.

5. Because it's one way to fight puppy mills.

You're too smart to get a dog from a pet store or online seller—you might as well buy direct from a puppy mill. Puppy mills are "factory style" breeding facilities that put profit above the welfare of dogs. Animals from puppy mills are housed in shockingly poor conditions with improper medical care, and are often very sick and behaviorally troubled as a result. The moms of the puppies are kept in cages to be bred over and over for years, without human companionship and with little hope of ever joining a family. And after they're no longer profitable, breeding dogs are simply discarded—either killed, abandoned or sold at auction.
Most puppies in pet stores and sold online come from puppy mills. The dogs are sold to unsuspecting consumers in pet stores, over the Internet and through classified ads. Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop supporting them. By adopting a pet, you can be certain you aren't giving them a dime.

6. Because your decor will thank you.

Many of the pets from shelters and rescues are already housetrained, which means you’re not only saving a pet’s life, you may be saving your rug.

7. Because all pets are good for your health, but an adopted pet is good for your self-esteem.

Not only do animals give you unconditional love, but they have been shown to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial. Caring for a companion animal can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation in all age groups. And when you adopt, you can also feel proud about helping an animal in need.

8. Because you’re environmentally responsible.

You recycle your paper and plastic so it doesn’t end up in landfills, and you know that recycled materials make all sorts of things. A “recycled” pet can make something even better: She can make you happy.

9. Because The Shelter Pet Project will make it super-easy.

We like easy. Go to the Shelter Pet Project to find pets near you, of every size, color, temperament and breed. You want an orange cat who likes ear-scratches on alternate Tuesdays? You can probably find one.

10. Because you'll change a homeless animal's whole world.

And get a new best friend in the bargain. Seriously, what could be better than that?