Uncorking a Story

Art is medicine—that’s the core message that poet, musician, and artist Aliana Kann Michals wants to convey with her forthcoming poetry collection entitled In Defense of Science. 

What valuable life lessons did a relationship coming to an end during the pandemic teach her ? Why does she believe that vulnerability is her superpower? What words of advice would she give her younger self? Listen in as Aliana answers all of these questions and more in today’s insightful episode of Uncorking a Story.

Direct download: Art_is_Healing_with_Aliana_Kann_Michals.mp3
Category:Poets -- posted at: 12:01am EST

I’ve had many different types of storytellers on Uncorking a Story including authors, comedians, and filmmakers. What I haven’t had yet is one of the most popular types of storytellers these days—fellow podcasters! That changes with today’s episode featuring Kathy Kay, the host of Strictly Anonymous

I came upon her show by accident. Over the past few years I’ve been on a self-improvement kick, part of which involves listening to podcasts by the likes of Lewis Howes, Brene Brown, and Brooke Castillo. While looking for something new to arouse my ears on long runs, I came across Kathy’s show.

I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to hear in episode 411, and it’s true what they say—you never forget your first time. The episode’s headline was, “Peter Tried Swinging After His Divorce, and he’s Been Swinging Ever Since.” Now I knew something about “the lifestyle,” as swinging was a key plot point in my novel All the F*ucks I Cannot Give and I had to do some research while writing that story. While the content of the episode was certainly provocative, the way Kathy guided the conversation and made “Peter” feel comfortable sharing his story left me wanting more after my listening refractory period was over.

I wanted to chat with Kathy to uncover how she came up with the idea for the show, take a deep dive into what she’s learned about people by hosting an advice show focused on sex, and talk about her autobiographical book, The Cartoon Misadventures of a Total Trainwreck. This is a fun conversation that you aren’t going to want to miss!

Be sure to check out Strictly Anonymous at http://strictlyanonymouspodcast.com/ or listen wherever you get your podcasts. For bonus content, including sexy (and anonymous) pictures of some of her guests, check out Kathy’s Patreon.

Happy listening!

Direct download: Lets_Talk_About_Sex.mp3
Category:Podcasters -- posted at: 3:50pm EST

Out of the many guests I’ve hosted on Uncorking a Story, Michael Macari may have one of the most varied tales to tell. The son of immigrant parents, he was in Adonis, an up and coming rock band that was just about to feel the sensation of stardom with a record contract until a kidney stone sidelined his musical ambitions and put him on the path to a career in film and television. There’s no way he could have predicted that another medical issue three decades later would put him on the path to publishing a passion project—a book on the birth of Jesus.

Inspired by the big budget biblical films of his childhood, Michael started the project over thirty years ago and originally envisioned it as a screenplay. After being sidelined with Covid-19, he found himself with ample free time and dusted off the yellowed pages now close to three decades old and reimagined his story as a novel. The result is a work of fiction entitled The Star of Bethlehem: The Epic Story of the Birth of Christ, recently published by Trilogy Christian Publishing. 

Listen in as Michael bridges the gap between the rock and roll lifestyle of his youth and his faith filled work of fiction. We also discuss how he weaved Old and New Testament biblical stories with historical fact in this faithful retelling of the Christmas story. This book couldn’t have come at a better time—with only a handful of shopping days left until Christmas, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that books make great gifts.

Happy Listening!

Direct download: Michael_Macari.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 6:46pm EST

Nadine Crocker survived a suicide attempt when she was 23 years old. After leaving home at 16 to pursue a career in front of the camera, maybe she thought she could leave the intense feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety back in Fresno. Also, really pretty and talented people aren’t supposed to have those kinds of feelings, are they? Well, they do and Nadine wasn’t immune to the feelings that run through her family. She wrote, directed, produced, and starred in Continue as a gift to the world to help us all have better conversations about mental health.

Most working actors will tell you that overnight success is a myth. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but there’s a lot of rejection that comes when seeking an on-screen career. Authors tell me the same thing—many of us can line our walls with rejection letters from agents we’ve queried over the years. Just like there are few overnight successes, depression and anxiety are slow burns that, for some, eventually may lead to suicidal ideation, attempts, and, for too many, death. Those of us who have experienced these emotions, or who have loved ones who live with them, know that we all need to do a better job at recognizing mental health issues, addressing them, and loving those who experience them. 

If you look closely at the cover art for the film, you will notice that the title is spelled Cont;nue, with a semicolon replacing the letter i. A friend of mine had to educate me on the significance behind this. She pointed me to a website for Project Semicolon whose late founder, Amy Bleuel, explained, “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.” There is a tragic beauty to that sentiment; tragic that it had to be written at all but beautiful because the second chance/hope it implies.

I know that you will enjoy my interview with Nadine, which is certainly much more upbeat than the subject matter we discussed. She’s an amazing person with a light that comes through in her voice.  My only regret is not asking her if she was familiar with the 1986 mini series Fresno which took place in her hometown! Think Dallas but about raisins instead of oil.

Please visit https://www.continuethefilm.com/ for more information about Nadine and the film. Follow Nadine on social @nadinecrocker. 

If you, or anyone you know is in distress please know that help is available through Lifeline, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ for more information.

Direct download: Nadine_Crocker.mp3
Category:Filmmakers -- posted at: 4:51pm EST

Cindy Finch is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who specializes in helping people through their darkest times. She trained at the Mayo Clinic and has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, HuffPost, and CURE magazine. A survivor of traumatic life events, Cindy writes and works from lived experiences. She's helped thousands of people through their suffering, encouraging them to move forward and keep enduring to come out invincible.

Her latest book, When Grief is Good, was released this past September and, at some point during this interview, we actually talked about it. Before that, though, she turns the tables a few times and puts me in the hot seat. This is definitely one you have to buckle up for and stay to the end because if you do I’ve got two words for you—hot monogamy!

You can learn more about Cindy at her website, cindyfinch.com. Additionally, Cindy would love it if you learned more about Love to Pivot, an organization that helps individuals, couples, families, and groups pivot from unhealthy relationships into healthy relationships.

Direct download: Cindy_Finch_Edited_final.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 12:00am EST

C. Frederic John enjoys a global reputation as a strategic researcher with a career spanning over 40 years. He specializes in melding profound insights into concrete recommendations for clients, and in crafting compelling research deliverables using story-telling techniques.

Fred and I have a few things in common; we both worked in the market research industry, we both worked for MasterCard, and we both value the power of storytelling when it comes to presenting findings to clients. In fact, Fred is so passionate about storytelling in market research that he literally wrote a book called Storytelling and Market Research: A Practical User Guide.

While the market research industry has gotten better about storytelling with regards to presenting research findings, the need for Fred’s book is undeniable. In it, he discusses the importance of story to keep a reader’s attention and gives practical and tangible advice for transforming mundane reports into page turners.

I caught up with my former colleague just a few days before the book launched to discuss his career as a researcher, what compelled him to write this book, and how he went about finding a publisher and turning his idea into reality. 

Storytelling and Market Research: A Practical User Guide will be available for sale on Thursday, November 11, 2021.

Direct download: Fred_John.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 12:00am EST

In her 30+ year career as an author, Laura Davis has written seven non-fiction books that have changed peoples’ lives. The Courage to Heal paved the way for hundreds of thousands to heal from the trauma of sexual abuse. Becoming the Parent You Want to Be helps parents develop a vision for the families they want to create. And I Thought We’d Never Speak Again: The Road from Estrangement to Reconciliation teaches the skills of reconciliation and peace building to the world, one relationship at a time. 

Laura’s ground-breaking books have been translated into 11 languages and sold more than two million copies. 

Her new memoir, The Burning Light of Two Stars, tells the story of Laura’s dramatic and tumultuous relationship with her mother, Temme, from the time of Laura’s birth until her mother’s death. This story about “two souls who just wouldn’t quit each other” provides a no-holds-barred peek at the real Laura--the woman behind the teacher, the facilitator, and author.

Direct download: Laura_Davis.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Kris Clink is the author of Goodbye, Lark Lovejoy and Sissie Klein is Completely Normal, which have received praise from Bustle, Midwest Book Review, Kirkus Reviews, Women.com, Lone Star Literary, Brit + Co, Travel and Leisure Magazine, and Entertainment Weekly, among others. Set in middle America, her novels are laced with love, heartbreak, and just enough snark to rock the boat for the relatable characters as they confront transformative challenges.

I had a great conversation with Kris about her writing including why she sets her stories in what most would consider “fly over” states, what she loves most about writing, and our mutual appreciation for the movie Hope Floats. We also get into a great conversation about the publishing industry today, how to write characters we hate, and why Hallmark will never adapt any of our stories (their loss).

You can learn more about Kris at https://krisclink.com/ and be sure to check out her podcast Kris Clink’s Writing Table on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. It’s a great listen for writers and book lovers alike. Her forthcoming release, Sissie Klein is Completely Normal, will be available for sale wherever books are sold on Tuesday, November 11.

Direct download: Kris_Clink.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 4:08pm EST

Have you ever wondered why there are so many legal dramas on TV? I know I’m dating myself here but off the top of my head I can think of LA Law, Boston Legal, Law and Order, and Night Court. Okay, so maybe that last one isn’t a drama, but it was damn funny. Maybe it’s because so many authors I’ve interviewed recently have fled the legal profession to follow writing as a career.

If you think about it, Lawyers, especially trial attorneys, have all the makings of good writers—good listening and analytical skills are the cost of entry, they have to be creative with how they present cases (hopefully not too creative) and they have to be passionate about their work. Reyna Marder Gentin is no exception.

In 2014, after practicing law for over two decades, Reyna decided it was time for something new. She followed a friend to a class on memoir writing at Sarah Lawrence College and got bit by the writing bug. Ever since, writing has become her passion. 

Her third novel, Both are True, has her returning to women’s fiction, her legal roots, and a setting she knows all too well—New York City.

To learn more about Reyna, please visit her website at https://reynamardergentin.com/. Her three novels can be purchased wherever books are sold, including bookshop.org where a portion of the proceeds goes to help support local independent bookstores. Happy listening!

Direct download: Reyna_Marder_Gentin.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 3:21pm EST

When I was presented with the opportunity to interview J.M. Thompson about his memoir, Running is a Kind of Dreaming, I sprinted to say yes for two reasons; I’m an avid runner and wanted to know what inspired the title and it deals with mental health issues, specifically men’s mental health issues.

A few years ago, my twin brother was suffering from anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. I’m not telling tales out of school here, he chronicled all of that in his own memoir. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life was check him into the psychiatric hospital where he spent a long week of in-patient treatment followed by multiple weeks of outpatient treatment. It pained me to see this strong man, who I shared so many life experiences with, come to the brink of falling apart. 

Even in this day and age, men’s mental health is still very much a taboo subject given our sex’s aversion to vulnerability. I hoped that by interviewing J.M. about his book, I wouldn’t just leave with another powerful story but that I’d also help the cause to raise awareness of men’s mental health issues in general.

But enough about me. 

You might be asking yourself who J.M. Thompson is. Well, I have answers. He was born in England and holds a BA in English literature from Oxford University and a doctorate in clinical psychology. 

He completed his psychology training at the University of California, San Francisco, where he conducted research on the brain mechanisms of meditation and the physiology of trauma. He is also an ordained Zen practitioner and certified yoga teacher. 

Critical to this story is the fact that he has finished over 40 ultramarathons, and multiple solo adventure runs in the Sierra Nevada, the Grand Canyon, and Death Valley. Thompson currently serves as a staff psychologist at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. His aforementioned memoir, Running is a Kind of Dreaming, became available for sale as of October 5th. 

Listen in as we uncover the emotionally charged story that is the genesis behind the book as well as how running helped J.M. turn his life around. This is a powerful story and one that I was honored to uncork. Please share it with anyone who you think could benefit from it. Happy listening!

Direct download: JM_Thompson.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 4:53pm EST

Imagine you are a father of two young children going through your morning routine of getting them—and yourself—ready for the day when there’s a knock at the door and the intimidating people right out of central casting on the other side are about to share news that will rock your world.

John Vandemoer doesn’t have to imagine that; in fact, I bet he wants to forget it. John is the former Stanford University sailing coach and the first person sentenced in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal. He’s now speaking out about what happened. This comes on the heels of the release of his new book: RIGGED JUSTICE. How the College Admissions Scandal Ruined an Innocent Man's Life.

Listen in as we discuss not just the day that changed his life forever, but what his life was like in the aftermath. John courageously talks about opening himself up to vulnerability so that he could share his side of the story. We also discuss the importance of community and having a support system to lean on in times of need. 

Enjoy the show.

Direct download: John_Vandemoer.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 5:32pm EST

Jay Jay French is an American guitarist, manager, record producer and founding member of the heavy metal band Twisted Sister. He is a columnist, author and motivational speaker who oversees licensing and intellectual property rights for the Twisted Sister brand.

His new book, Twisted Business, is part memoir and part business book follows French’s adventure-filled life, from growing up in New York City in the sixties, to working as a drug dealer and struggling as an addict before quitting cold-turkey, and finally, to creating and cultivating Twisted Sister and turning it into one of the most successful brands in the world.

Twisted Business: Lessons from My Life in Rock ‘N’ Roll can be purchased wherever books are sold. Enjoy the show.

Direct download: Jay_Jay_French.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 2:19pm EST

After a brief hiatus between seasons, I’m happy to report that Uncorking a Story is back for its 5th season. Our first episode features a great conversation I had with Heather Frimmer whose second novel, Better to Trust, will be released on Tuesday, September 21st. 

As a young woman, Heather was a bookworm who used to write short stories for her own entertainment. However, she did not write her first novel until after realizing that there was a void in her life that wasn’t being fulfilled in her career as a radiologist. After taking a class on creative writing and hearing some strong words of encouragement from her teacher at the Westport Writer’s Studio, Heather penned her first novel, Bedside Manners, which went on to receive numerous awards as well as high praise from breast cancer survivors.

We discussed how being an avid reader is an important ingredient to being a successful author as well as the role curiosity plays in the creative process. We end with some words of advice that Heather offers her younger self around being careful not to suffer from imposter syndrome, and to learn more about that, you’ll have to tune in!

Direct download: Heather_Frimmer_Audio.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 2:38pm EST

Dani Klein Modisett is a comedian, actor, and author of the book “Take My Spouse, Please,” about how to create shared laughter to keep your marriage happy and healthy. That book was preceded by 2009’s “Afterbirth...stories you won’t read in Parents magazine.” Additionally, her writing has appeared in AARP, NY Times, LA Times, Parents Magazine and on many websites.

In addition to publishing two books, Dani taught Stand-Up at UCLA for 10 years. She has also coached keynote speakers, business leaders, and Congressional candidates to use more humor in their communication. You may have seen her on the show GHOST for Starz where she has a currently recurring role. Dani is a graduate of Dartmouth College. 

Direct download: Dani_Klein_Audio.mp3
Category:Comedians -- posted at: 4:20pm EST

Andrea Bartz is a Brooklyn-based journalist and author of the forthcoming WE WERE NEVER HERE. Her second thriller, THE HERD, was named a best book of 2020 by Real Simple, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, CrimeReads, and other outlets. Her LA-Times bestselling debut, THE LOST NIGHT (Crown, 2019), was optioned for TV development by Mila Kunis. It was named a best book of the year by Real Simple, Glamour, Marie Claire, Library Journal, Crime Reads, Popsugar, She Reads, and other publications. 

Andi’s work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Women's Health, Martha Stewart Living, Elle, and many other outlets, and she's held editorial positions at Glamour, Psychology Today, and Self, among other titles. Listen in as we dig into her path to becoming a writer, her pivot from magazine journalism to becoming a novelist, and her passion for challenging cultural conventions through her work.

We Were Never Here will be available wherever books are sold on August 3rd.

Direct download: Andrea_Bartz_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 11:59pm EST

Lea Konen is the author of All the Broken People and of several young adult novels, including Love and Other Train Wrecks and The Romantics. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied journalism and English literature. She lives in Brooklyn and Saugerties, New York, with her husband; their daughter, Eleanor; and their dog, Farley.

Listen in as we discuss how Lea's navigated the transition from writing YA novels to thrillers and why it's so important for her to work from an outline, and the inspiring advice she'd give her younger self.

Direct download: Leah_Konen_Mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 12:09pm EST

Shari Lapena is the internationally bestselling author of the thrillers The Couple Next Door, A Stranger in the House, An Unwanted Guest, Someone We Know, and The End of Her, which have all been New York Times and The Sunday Times (London) bestsellers. Her books have been sold in thirty-seven territories around the world. She lives in Toronto and Not a Happy Family is her sixth thriller.

Listen in as we talk about her writing process, why so many lawyers want to become writers, and the secrets to becoming a bestselling mystery author.

Direct download: Shari_Lapena.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Jessica Chiarella is the author of And Again. She holds an MA in writing and publishing from DePaul University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside.

In this interview, I learned that she wanted to be a writer when she was seven years old so, when she told me that she had a degree in Political Science, I had to ask about that.  It turns out, she didn't think she could make a living as an author. Clearly, she was wrong.

Listen in as we discuss the differences between writing a mystery and writing speculative fiction, what Jessica go out of her two Masters programs, the powerful advice she would give that seven year old girl with aspirations of becoming an author.

Direct download: Jessica_Mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 2:51pm EST

A #1 New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including The Exiles, Orphan Train, and A Piece of the World, Christina Baker Kline is published in 40 countries. Her novels have received the New England Prize for Fiction, the Maine Literary Award, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Award, among other prizes, and have been chosen by hundreds of communities, universities and schools as "One Book, One Read" selections. 

Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in publications such as the New York Times and the NYT Book Review, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, LitHub, Psychology Today, Poets & Writers, and Salon. Born in England and raised in the American South and Maine, Kline is a graduate of Yale (B.A.), Cambridge (M.A.) and the University of Virginia (M.F.A.), where she was a Hoyns Fellow in Fiction Writing.

Listen in as we talk about the pioneering spirit embodied in her family of origin, her experiences teaching in a supermax women’s prison, and the inspiration behind her latest book, The Exiles, which should be at the top of your Summer reading list.

This episode of Uncorking a Story is sponsored by Mike Carlon’s latest novel, The Ruin of Souls. If you like books about gladiators, then this isn’t the book for you. But, if you can appreciate a good mystery, jaw dropping plot twists, and a generous pour of espionage, then The Ruin of Souls should be on your summer reading list. You can buy The Ruin of Souls in e-book or paperback format wherever books are sold online. Enjoy the show.

Happy listening.

Direct download: Christina_Baker_Kline_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 2:22pm EST

Nigerian born and raised debut mystery author Noel Obiora watched the George Floyd video and said to himself, That could have been me. Having come to the United States when he was 17 in 1983, and having attended the University of Texas Law School, Noel, a black man in very white Texas, was pulled over many times for minor infractions and believes it was his accent that kept him safe from police brutality.  

His debut crime novel, A Past that Breathes, takes place in Los Angeles in the early nineties when he practiced law in the City of Angels during racial turmoil bookended by the Rodney King and O.J. Simpson trials and years before the Black Lives Matter movement gave people a forum in which they could express their grief and anger.

Listen in as we discuss his childhood in Nigeria to his University education in the United States and how he found working as a practicing attorney in Los Angeles a far cry from the expectations set by the hit TV drama L.A. Law. We also discuss how he found the confidence to write again after facing rejection, why it's important to get out of your own way in the publishing process, and his favorite Seinfeld episode. 

This episode of Uncorking a Story is brought to you by Michael Carlon’s latest novel, The Ruin of Souls. You can purchase The Ruin of Souls in e-Book or paperback format or wherever books are sold. Enjoy the show.

Direct download: Noel_Obiora_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 12:01am EST

Mary Dixie is the daughter of Designing Women star, Dixie Carter and step-daughter of Hal Holbrook. Her writing has appeared in Time, The Economist, San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and more. She worked at The Observer for five years as the publishing director, and has worked as a professional actor. Mary Dixie has an honors degree in English Literature from Harvard College and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two young children. 

Her first novel, The Photographer, has been called "an explosive debut” (Library Journal) and “a breathless psychological thriller about epic mind games” (from People Magazine's 20 Best Books to Read This Summer). It is destined to be the book everyone will be reading this summer.

This page-turner about a family photographer, desperate to belong, who lives off of images rather than experiences will stay in readers minds for a long time. Brilliantly observed, suspenseful, a story of envy and obsession, mesmerizing, this is a unique novel and will make us doubt that seeing is ever believing.

Listen in as we dig into the real-life event that inspired the story, why it’s so important to write every day, and what it’s like driving an RV from coast-to-coast.

The Photographer is available wherever books are sold.

This episode of Uncorking a Story is brought to you by Michael Carlon’s latest novel, The Ruin of Souls. You can purchase The Ruin of Souls in e-Book or paperback format or wherever books are sold. Enjoy the show.

Direct download: Mary_Dixie_Carter_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 2:13pm EST

Anne Basting, Ph.D. is an artist, scholar, and educator committed to the power of the arts and culture to transform our lives as individuals and communities. She is Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and founder and President of the award-winning non-profit TimeSlips.

Basting's innovative work as both a community-engaged artist and a scholar has been recognized by a MacArthur Fellowship, an Ashoka Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship, and multiple major grants. She is author/editor of multiple books, including her latest, Creative Care (HarperOne); as well as The Penelope Project (U of Iowa), and Forget Memory (Johns Hopkins). TimeSlips fosters an alliance of artists and caregivers bringing meaning and joy to late life through creativity, and has over 900 certified facilitators in 48 states and 20 countries.

Her latest book, The Creative Care Imagination Kit, is available for sale beginning June 8th and is a perfect resource for friends, family, and caregivers to make connections with and spark conversation and engagement among anyone living with physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges, including memory loss.

Learn more at https://www.anne-basting.com/

Direct download: Anne_Basting_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 6:06pm EST

Marilyn Peterson Haus’ story begins when she was born in 1941 on a farm on the Minnesota Plains. Twins, mental illness, sexism/favoritism, religion, farm life in the 40s and 50s, forgiveness and reconciliation are all topics she meticulously weaves together in this extraordinary memoir.

While we touched upon all of that in our interview, what struck me hardest was the struggle she faced with her twin brother. This hit home for me as, like Marilyn, I have a twin brother and our relationship was also strained by favoritism and mental illness, though to a much lesser extent.

While her memoir has elements of tragedy, at the end of the day it is a story about a woman who found the courage and strength to break free and live life on her own terms. Half of a Whole, My Fight for a Separate Life is inspiring, uplifting, and available for sale wherever books are sold on June 8th.

Thanks for listening.

Direct download: Marilyn_Haus_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 5:37pm EST

David Yoon grew up in Orange County, California, and now lives in Los Angeles with his wife, novelist Nicola Yoon, and their daughter. He drew the illustrations for Nicola's #1 New York Times bestseller Everything, Everything. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Frankly In Love, which was a William C. Morris Award finalist and an Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature Honor book, the YA novel Super Fake Love Song, and the adult thriller Version Zero.

Before he made his living as a writer, David spent more than a dozen years working in the tech industry as an interface designer and user experience expert, a role that immersed him in all the cultural and technical workings of core online industries like advertising technology, social media, cybersecurity, and content strategy. It was during this time that he observed a paradox: while these companies believed its work was making the world a better place, the staff behind these platforms had a serious mistrust and disdain for the very things they were creating.

Yoon mines this experience in VERSION ZERO, his first novel for adults, which tackles everything from social media and personal privacy to data mining, surveillance capitalism, and the responsibilities of individuals in a globalized society. Part satire, part tech thriller, this propulsive tale centers on Max, a blackballed data whiz who assembles a team of disillusioned tech workers to create chaos in the world of social media—with disastrous consequences. Yoon uses his dazzling abilities to bring this contradictory and often insidious world to life with startling prescience and ease, establishing himself as one of the most exciting and dynamic voices writing today in the tradition of Blake Crouch, Ernest Cline, and Max Barry.

Version Zero is out everywhere books are sold on Tuesday, May 25th. Please consider picking it up at your local bookshop or at bookshop.org. 

Follow me at all socials @uncorkingastory and be sure to rate and subscribe to Uncorking a Story wherever you get your podcasts.

Direct download: David_Yoon_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 6:04pm EST

This is the one where I talk to author, musician, and comic Aug Stone about his newly released memoir, Nick Cave’s Bar.

Don’’t feel bad if you don’t know who Nick Cave is because I wasn’t cool enough to know of him either. The important thing here is that Aug and his friend Andy know who he is and, more importantly, believed he owned a bar in Berlin, based on a rumor overheard in Spain (are you with me so far?).

Twenty years ago they had what can best be described as a misadventure in Europe complete with bad decisions, near misses at true love, and drinking. Lot’s of drinking. Check out Nick Cave’s Bar here or at the following retail locations:

City Books (Hove, England)

Happy Valley (Melbourne, Australia)

Grimey’s (Nashville, TN)

Atomic Books (Baltimore, MD)

Buch Bund (Berlin, Germany)

Brookline Booksmith (Brookline, MA)

Direct download: Aug_Stone_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 11:32am EST

Alta Ifland was born in Transylvania (Romania), took part in the overthrow of Romania's communist dictatorship, and experienced two years of post-communism before emigrating to the United States in 1991. 

After a PhD in French language and literature, and several years in academia, she now works as a full-time writer, book reviewer, and translator (from French, Italian, and Romanian). She is the author of two books of short stories―Elegy for a Fabulous World (2010 finalist for the Northern California Book Award in Fiction) and Death-in-a-Box (2011 Subito Press Fiction Prize)―and two collections of prose poems―Voix de Glace/Voice of Ice (bilingual, French-English, winner of the French prize Louis Guillaume) and The Snail’s Song

Listen in as we discuss why she had to leave Romania, what it was like moving to the united states to seek asylum, and the journey she took to make a career in writing and publishing. Along the way, we of course had to talk about Romania’s either most infamous or heroic figure depending on your point of view, count Dracula himself.

Her novel, The Wife who Wasn’t, is available for sale as of Tuesday, May 18th and can be purchased wherever books are sold.

Thanks for listening.

Direct download: Alta_Ifland_mixdown3.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 4:59pm EST

Laura Hankin is the author of Happy & You Know It and A Special Place for Women. Her musical comedy has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and more. She splits her time between NYC, where she has performed off-Broadway, and Washington, D.C., where she once fell off a treadmill twice in one day.

Listen in as we talk about her path to success as a performer, why her days working as a children’s musician were instrumental in her getting a two book deal, and the spark that ignited the idea for her forthcoming book A Special Place for Women, which will be released on Tuesday, May 11th.

As a kid, Laura was drawn to funny and spunky characters and those two adjectives can also be used to describe her personality. You can buy her novels wherever books are sold, but please consider supporting your local independently owned bookstore. If you must buy online, consider purchasing at Bookshop.org

Follow Laura on Instagram and Twitter @LauraHankin and feel free to follow me @uncorkingastory.

Direct download: Laura_Hankin_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 6:16pm EST

Christina Sweeney-Baird lives in London where she works full-time as a corporate litigation lawyer. Listen in as we discuss her debut novel, The End of Men, which will be available wherever books are sold on April 27.

Listen in as we discuss her journey from litigator to author, what inspired her to come up with the idea for The End of Men, and why, at its core, this is a book about hope (and not a fantasy).

Direct download: Christina_Sweeney-Baird_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 11:26am EST

Joshua M Greene is a popular lecturer on Holocaust History and an author whose biographies have sold more than half a million copies worldwide. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his books and films. He sits on the board of Yale University Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies and has served as director of strategic planning for the United Nations Summit of Religious and Spiritual leaders. 

This all begs the question, why is such a decorated individual talking to me?

Well, I interviewed him about his new book entitled Unstoppable. It’s the story of Siggi Wilzig and his astonishing journey from Auschwitz survivor and penniless immigrant to Wall Street legend.

Before we get to the book, though, I had to uncork Joshua’s story a bit and learn how he went from being a hippie who got to jam with George Harrison to becoming a Holocaust scholar. Along the way I learned that he and the subject of his latest book share a few things in common, but you will have to listen in to find out what they are

I found it fascinating that after being approached to write this book by one of Siggi’s sons, Joshua’s first instinct was to turn him down saying he’s written too much about darkness and it was time to focus on something that brought more light. That was, of course, before he knew Siggi’s story which is at its core a celebration of human ingenuity, a testament to the power of faith, and a tale of triumph in the face of adversity.

I know you will enjoy this interview and urge you to pick up Unstoppable, which can be purchased wherever books are sold, though Joshua would urge you to consider buying it at your local bookstore. If you must buy it online, please consider buying it here, at Bookshop.org where a portion of every sale goes to support local bookstores.

You can learn more about Unstoppable at https://unstoppablesiggi.com/

Direct download: Joshua_M_Greene_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 9:40pm EST

An interview I did this week got me to thinking about how little things can make a big difference.

This one Uncorks a story about U2 and a Bodega owner I met this week whose business is being threatened by the pandemic. Listen in to see the connection between them. Trust me, it will be one to grow on.

Direct download: The_Little_Things_mixdown.mp3
Category:Inspiring Stories -- posted at: 1:40pm EST

While interviewing author Christina Sweeney-Baird about her debut novel The End of Men, I started thinking about how most authors, and other creators in the arts including comics and actors, have to work additional jobs long before they can earn a living off of their art. Christina herself is a lawyer (but I don't think she'll have to practice law for long as she's quite a gifted writer).

Her full story will be shared in April closer in to her book's publication date. For now, though, her story got me thinking about the importance of living a dual life when you are just starting to explore your passion in the arts. It also reminded me of a character I created—Kelly Carson—who was leading a secret life but just didn't know it. You see, he had a secret identity hiding just beneath the surface and it took a fiery red headed actress on the run to bring it out his inner Superman. His name is Kelly Carson and he’s the protagonist in All the F*ucks I Cannot Give

The audio book recently came out and I wanted to share the first few chapters with you here. If you like what you hear, please consider buying it on either Amazon or Audible. Mike Dawson did a great job with the narration and really brought the story to life.

Happy Listening

Direct download: Dual_Life_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 1:57pm EST

Julie Ryan McGue was born in Chicago, Illinois. She and her identical twin sister were adopted together. Her debut memoir, Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging is about the search for birth relatives.

Listen in as we discuss what prompted her to find her birth parents, the emotions she experienced along the way, and what this experience has taught her about herself. This conversation also prompted me to share the adoption story within my own family of origin. It’s a very powerful conversation and when I know you will enjoy.

In her other writing, Julie focuses on about finding out who you are, where you belong, and making sense of it. Her weekly blogs focus on identity, family, and life's quirky moments. If she's not at her computer writing, she's out exploring with her camera, or on the tennis court. She is the mother of four adult children and splits her time between NW Indiana and Sarasota. You can follow her at https://www.juliemcgueauthor.com.

Her book will be released on May 11th and is available for pre-order now. While you can pre-order it wherever books are sold online, we’d like you to consider supporting your local independent bookstore and preordering through Bookshop.org where every purchase helps support local, independently owned bookstores.

Direct download: Julie_McGue_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 12:01am EST

This past weekend, my sister gave me one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received—a stack of letters I had written to my grandparents back in the 1980s. This inspired me to record and share this episode with you. 

Reaching out and touching someone used to mean picking up the phone and calling them. Today, it means Facetiming them or maybe just sending them a text. How about this, instead of doing that, why not write an old-fashioned letter? Fold it in an envelope, slap a stamp on it, and send it by mail. Sure it will take a lot longer to get to the recipient than an email or text, but some things are worth waiting for.

Direct download: The_Lost_Art_of_Letter_Writing_mixdown.mp3
Category:Inspiring Stories -- posted at: 12:18pm EST

This week I sat in on the first of hopefully many episodes of Comedy Roads, an online show featuring interviews with established stand up comedians reflecting on their path to success. It's hosted by the one and only Bob DiBuono.

A-Lister Eddie Brill told a story about performing in front of 12 people that I'll never forget and it inspired me to reflect on the importance of always giving 100% whenever you make a commitment to something.

Find more about Comedy Roads by clicking here. 

Direct download: Giving_100_2mixdown.mp3
Category:Inspiring Stories -- posted at: 2:11pm EST

Today we are going to switch gears a bit as I'd like to share with you the first chapter of my latest book The Ruin of Souls.

Now look, I'm not a professional voiceover artist nor am I an audio engineer, so keep both in mind as you listen in.

If you like what you hear and want to listen to more, let me know by emailing michael.carlon@uncorkingastory.com. if there's enough interest, I'll release the second and third chapters.

As always, thanks for listening.

Direct download: ROS_Ch1_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 2:25pm EST

This is the second part of my interview with my twin brother, Jim Carlon. In it, we discuss his decision to join the Jag Corps at almost 40 years of age and why that marked such a turning point in his life. Buckle in and grab the Kleenex. 

Direct download: Jim_Carlon_2_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 11:59pm EST

I have easily interviewed a few thousand people in my career as a moderator and interviewer. I can honestly say that Interviewing my twin brother about his book, Conversation with a Desperate Man, was one of the toughest interviews I’ve ever had to conduct. It isn’t easy hearing someone you love describe the pain they’ve faced in their lives and the darkness that enveloped them. But his story isn’t a tragedy; far from it. It’s actually a love story and you will hear how Jim was able to overcome the challenges he faced.

I had to cut it into two parts because, frankly, it’s a lot to take in at once. Also, Jimmy can be a bit long winded, but I didn’t want to cut anything. Look for the second part to be released this Friday.

If you know someone who would appreciate listening to this interview, please share it with them. Jim’s book is available for sale now in paperback or ebook formats wherever books are sold online. Why not show a little love to your local independent bookshop and ask if they can order it for you? 

As always, thanks for listening.

Direct download: Jim_Carlon_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 12:04pm EST

All the news about the surge in GameStop’s share price got me to thinking just how much money is made when institutional investors bet on companies to lose. To me there’s an amorality there and I just don’t like it. I’d rather bet on someone to win. And that got me to thinking about the importance of betting on yourself.

Over the years, I’ve interviewed many people who bet on themselves and won big. Two who come to mind are Andy Greenfield and Dave Mezzepelle and I’ve got snippets from those interviews on today’s episode of Uncorking a Story.

A few key takeaways you’ll have after listening include:

  1. If you have a dream or desire to create something or do something different, bet on you. You have to be the first investor. Your confidence in placing that bet will gain the confidence of others.
  2. Remember that ideas are cheap but action takes talent. It’s okay to dream, but the rubber has to hit the road at some point, so eventually you are going to have to stop planning and start doing.
  3. Know that your eventual success will not come from where you expect it to. It will be up to you to go out and earn it; it won’t be given to you.
  4. People will challenge your ideas, assumptions and abilities. That’s actually a good thing. But you need to mute those who provide resistance without an offer of support as well as those who offer nothing but praise. Neither of those types of people will help you. Instead, to make your dream a reality, surround yourself with people who will push you while they look for ways to support you in the pursuit of your dream.

As always, thanks for listening to uncorking a story. If you liked what you see or heard here, please subscribe to us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Also, be sure to tell a friend about Uncorking a Story as we always will welcome new listeners. Have something to say about the show? Please leave a review. Be sure to check out our previous sixty episodes and be on the lookout for another episode early next week.

Direct download: Bet_on_you_mixdown.mp3
Category:Entrepreneurs -- posted at: 2:57pm EST

I had a conversation with an old friend and prospective client last week about a challenge her business is facing—attracting men to use their service. They have a new spokesperson they’ve tapped to help with that effort, but they have no idea what he should be saying to raise interest from guys.

So, in the spirit of partnership and wanting to land some new business, I held some Curiosity Conversations with men who wanted to lose weight about their approach to doing so. I call them Curiosity Conversations because I didn’t approach these interviews with a formal discussion guide. Rather, I just followed my nose—my curiosity—to learn all I could from guys who wanted to lose weight. What I found were a number of contradictions:

  1. In general, men will first approach weight loss through exercise. They don’t want to talk about diet even though they know it’s a primary component of weight loss. In short, men want to lose weight on their own terms, even if their own terms don’t work effectively.
  2. Guys don’t fully understand the emotional components of behavior and how dealing with them is the first step in a long-term lifestyle change. Dealing with emotions is not one of our strong points because doing so requires vulnerability, and if there’s one thing we’ve been taught since we were young is that men shouldn’t be vulnerable.
  3. Men want to go it alone and feel as if we should have the strength and discipline to not ask for help in this arena. So we eventually get frustrated when we fail, beat ourselves up, and dip back into our bank of bad habits.

The reality is this goes beyond weight loss. The three points above could summarize our approach to everything from career management to personal relationships. We approach them on our own terms, we don’t recognize how our emotions impact our behavior, and we don’t want to ask for help (and in my case directions!). 

Listen in to hear it first hand from some of the guys I met while doing this work. As an added bonus, you’ll hear my own personal struggles with weight and why I could relate to every word these guys spoke to me last week. 

Interestingly, all of the guys I spoke with said they had a newfound energy and confidence just talking with me about the topic. This alone led me to believe that my prospective client has a huge opportunity with this market because their service model is all about accountability and building connections. I believe they already have all the tools at their disposal to set up men for success with lifestyle changes, but like the guys I interviewed, they just need some help in how to use those tools effectively. The good news is that I’m confident that my business can help them succeed with men.

Direct download: Weight_loss_mixdown.mp3
Category:Inspiring Stories -- posted at: 8:23am EST

Olga Grushin was born in Moscow and moved to the United States at eighteen. She is the author of three previous novels, Forty RoomsThe Line and The Dream Life of Sukhanov. Her debut, The Dream Life of Sukhanov, won the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, earned her a place on Granta's once-a-decade Best Young American Novelists list, and was one of The New York Times' Notable Books of the Year. Both it and The Line were among The Washington Post's Ten Best Books of the Year, and Forty Rooms was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction of the Year. Grushin writes in English, and her work has been translated into sixteen languages. She lives outside Washington, DC, with her two children.

Listen in as we talk about her upbringing in Moscow and Prague and how she knew she wanted to be a writer at the tender age of four. To that end, every year on her mother’s birthday she’d present her with a typed, illustrated, and bound original book—hearing this made me feel bad about always giving my mother an ashtray for her birthday (to be fair, though, she was a smoker).

We also talk about her journey to the United States at eighteen to study at Emory as well as her path to publishing. Of course, we discuss her new book The Charmed Wife, which has been characterized by CNN as “A modern take on the story of Cinderella, marriage, divorce and love that’s surprising, darkly comedic and enchanting.”

This was a great conversation and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed hosting it. Follow Olga on twitter @olgagrushin and purchase The Charmed Wife wherever books are sold.

Direct download: Olga_Grushing_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 3:41pm EST

When I was a kid, we used to take these road trips from Connecticut to Florida to visit my grandparents. I know that may sound like a huge waste of time when you can just fly there in a little over two hours, but the fact is we remember more about the adventures we had on those car trips than we do about the actual vacations themselves. We truly enjoyed the journey.

At some point in time, and I can’t pinpoint when exactly, I started to disregard the journey. My life became a game of what’s next, instead of focusing on what is. When I look back on my kids, I realize that I just couldn’t wait for them to get to the next stage of development from crawling, to walking, to talking, and the next thing I knew I blinked and was dropping them off at college. At some point, I stopped enjoying the journey.

I found myself getting distracted by work. I was buried answering emails on my phone when I should have been enjoying whatever movie was on. In short, I didn’t live in the moment. Here’s the thing, as efficient as I was living my life, I was blind to what I was missing out on.

This all reminded me of a conversation I had with Shihan Manny Esmeraldo, the senior instructor at the Karate studio my kids and I used to train at. Listen in as I recap what he has to say about the importance of enjoying the journey. At the end, I share four tips for how we can do a better job at living in the moment including:

  1. Awareness. Be aware of what your actions are suggesting to others. It isn’t just you who you are shortchanging by not enjoying the journey, it’s other people in your life. When you are with others and are not embracing the moment because you are distracted by your phone, your thoughts on work, etc. know that your behavior might suggest to them that you do not value the time they are spending with you. If you are aware of your own behavior and what it suggests to others, you will be more likely to keep it in check.
  2. Remind.  Remember that the journey is part of the fun. Think about it as you would reading a good book. When you are so engrossed in a story, you don’t want it to end. You don’t just rush to the last page to see the conclusion. You want to stay on the journey! Conversely, how many times have you been let down by a story that ends abruptly? So, enjoy the story you are writing with your life. Don’t rush to the end.
  3. Enjoy. Find a way to simply enjoy being where you are. On those long car trips, my brother and I would record silly fake radio programs on a boom box. We’d make up stories about people we saw driving. Find the joy of any situation and you will be more likely to stay present in it.
  4. Avoid Temptation. If you are so distracted by things like your phone, and I know just how easy it is to be distracted by what I call my “work thingy,” maybe lock it up when you don’t need it. Kind of like how you can’t eat that bag of chips if it never makes its way into your shopping cart. So if the phone is your Achilles heel, leave it in another room when it's time to watch tv. Or if you go to a party or sporting event, leave it in the car. Someone else will take pictures. 

Thanks for listening to another episode of uncorking a story. If you like what you hear please subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Also, we appreciate you telling a friend about the podcast as that helps us spread the uncorking a story message to more people.

We will be back with another episode on Monday. And next Thursday, wow do I have a treat for you. But I’ll tell you more about that on Monday.

Thanks for listening!

Direct download: Enjoying_the_Journey_mixdown.mp3
Category:Inspiring Stories -- posted at: 10:52am EST

I heard Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt yesterday and it got me thinking about how important it is to reinvent oneself periodically. 

We live on a planet that does not stay still. It spins on its axis causing day and night. It circles around a star, moving through time and space, and as it does, seasons change. And that’s not all; fashions change, art changes, culture changes, all because we change. 

Whether in business, or in personal relationships, at some point we will find that we have to reinvent ourselves in order to stay relevant with the changing times. All of these thoughts came to me on my morning run and I felt compelled to share them in this episode on reinvention. If you don’t have the time to listen, here are some Cliff’s notes:

  1. Reinvention is in our nature. Our world is built around it and reinvention is necessary to stay relevant in our careers and strong in our relationships.
  2. You can’t reinvent yourself if you adopt a victim’s mentality. It is a self-limiting belief that will sabotage anything you try to do to move forward. If you find yourself with a victim’s mentality, spend some time reflecting on how your actions got you into a certain situation, take responsibility for them, and do what you need to do to turn the ship around.
  3. It’s never too late to reinvent oneself. Johnny Cash was able to do it, I was able to do it, and you are able to do it. 

Listen in to find out more! 

Direct download: Reinvention_mixdown.mp3
Category:Inspiring Stories -- posted at: 10:39am EST

I was introduced to the work of Viktor Frankl as an undergraduate student studying psychology. His book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is divided into two parts; the first is a memoir of his experiences living in a concentration camp during World War II and the second details his theory of Logotherapy, which involves identifying a purpose in life to feel positive about and then immersively imagining that outcome.

He’s also adamant that, in order to lead a fulfilling life, we must find meaning in three areas: work, love, and in finding courage in the face of danger.

In this episode, I uncork stories from three people who have done just that.

  • Fr. Dave Dwyer left a promising career in the entertainment industry behind to become a priest.
  • Author, psychologist, and speaker Gay Hendricks reflects on how he met the love of his life.
  • Emmy award winning filmmaker Jess Stainbrook recounts the time when he exhibited courage in the face of danger after being detained by the KGB.

Throughout the episode, I recount my own struggles in these areas and challenge you to reflect on how you might be able to find meaning in work, love, and courage.

Links:

Busted Halo https://bustedhalo.com/

Gay Hendricks https://hendricks.com/

The Invisible Disabilities Association https://invisibledisabilities.org/

Thanks for listening.

Direct download: Meaning_mixdown.mp3
Category:Inspiring Stories -- posted at: 12:25pm EST

While running this morning, I heard the actor Mandy Patinkin being interviewed by Marc Maron on his WTF Podcast. In the conversation, he divulges that one of the ways he prays is by saying, “Help me help you in any way I can, in any way imaginable.”

This reminded me of a conversation I had with author Kevin Knight almost two years ago who talked about how running is a spiritual form of exercise for him and how running barefoot makes him feel more connected to the world as well as other people. 

Oftentimes, when he runs, Kevin is stopped by neighbors and people passing by because, let’s face it, it’s pretty unique to see someone running on the road barefoot. While this would annoy me to no end, he looks at it as an opportunity to change a moment for that other person in a positive way and I think that is a great sentiment to start the first episode of 2021 on.

Let’s all look for ways to positively impact other people this year. An investment in kindness costs nothing and it will pay dividends almost immediately.

Thanks for listening and Happy New Year! 

Direct download: Born_to_Run_mixdown.mp3
Category:Authors -- posted at: 12:11pm EST

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