Tag Archives: Author interview

Author Interview: Danielle Wilkinson Steiner!


Now this is an interview I’m really excited about, although truth be told, I’m a little disappointed that I can’t interview the main character of the book. Nina Puppalina is real and has the best dog name ever, which is perfect because she is a dog. Her owner and the author of the story of Nina Puppalina and her erstwhile human companion Lizzy Lou, is Danielle Wilkinson Steiner.


TPF: Danielle, welcome to The Phil Factor and thank you for taking some time for my readers and dog lovers. Without giving away too much, could you tease my readers with a tantalizing synopsis of your book?

Danielle:  The Great Adventures of Nina Puppalina and Lizzy Lou: Nina Finds Her Home is a children’s picture book written and illustrated from the rescue puppy’s perspective about her adoption experience! Will she find the right home? Who will take care of her?

TPF: So how did the name Nina Puppalina come about?

Danielle: When we adopted Nina from our local SPCA, they had given her the name Nina. We loved the name and kept it! Our daughter Elizabeth’s babysitter, Sally coined the name of Nina Puppalina when she met our new pup for the first time and it stuck!

TPF: Your bio says that you worked in the publishing industry before choosing to write your first book. What did you do in the industry and did that experience help you when you decided to publish your own book?

Danielle:   I worked for three large publishers; Houghton Mifflin, Pearson and Wiley. I always worked in the College Division doing sales and marketing. College sales are very different from Trade book sales….I can’t really say my career encouraged my desire to self -publish. Writing a book one day was always on my “bucket list” and I did not think it would be a children’s picture book until we adopted Nina.  I decided to self-publish because the story is based on my family. I wanted to be able to share my story my way and own copyright.  Also, I knew going the traditional publishing route probably would have taken more time…….and I wanted Elizabeth to enjoy working on the process with me….not to mention  enjoy the book before she was too old to appreciate it!

TPF: How does your daughter Lizzy Lou feel about being immortalized in literature forever? Any concerns that she’ll grow up with a diva complex?

Danielle:  Well it’s funny, since Nina is telling the story, Elizabeth has decided “Nina’s famous”. So far no Diva complex, she’s just happy to be able to share our story and promote pet adoption!


TPF: Your cover art work is gorgeous. Can you tell us a little about the artist?

Danielle:  Sarah Ashmun is a local mixed media artist, I met through Linked In. She has a background in landscape architecture and my book is her first children’s picture book to illustrate. She was really keen with understanding my vision and capturing it so beautifully. We both read Alexandra Horowitz’s. NYT best seller, Inside of a Dog…..her current research was used to illustrate and write from the dog’s perspective. Sarah also had her first baby girl, Skylar born in January 2016!

TPF: The reviews for your book on Amazon are outstanding! Will Nina Puppalina readers have a sequel to look forward to in the near future?

Danielle:  Yes, stay tuned our next book is Nina Puppalina, Lizzy Lou and the Trainer, full of fun and antics.

 TPF: Danielle, thank you again for sharing The Great Adventures of Nina Puppalina and Lizzy Lou with us. We look forward to reading more in the future. You can follow Danielle (and Nina Puppalina and Lizzy Lou) on Facebook and you can order her books here on Amazon.

To Beat The Devil: Author Interview with M.K. Gibson!


An author friend who has a small independent publishing company recently asked me to read and review a recently published first novel by a new author. Admittedly I was a little leery. I’m very picky about what I read. I’ve started and stopped three different novels over the last several months because I didn’t enjoy them. My friend told me a little about the plot and I agreed to try To Beat the Devil by M.K. Gibson. Remember those three novels I never finished? I flew through To Beat the Devil in a week and was disappointed the sequel wasn’t out yet. It is flat out fun. It may not be for everyone. For instance, if you’re a woman who likes Nicholas Sparks, move on. We don’t need your kind here. If, however, you’re someone who might like a book that is the equivalent of Star Wars, Blade Runner, and The Hobbit thrown in a blender with a dash or two of funny 80’s and 90’s pop culture references, then To Beat the Devil is your new favorite book. Let’s hear from author M.K. Gibson:

TPF: For my readers who haven’t yet downloaded the book, without giving too much away, could you give them a quick plot teaser?
M.K.: Haven’t downloaded the book yet? Your words anger and confuse me! 😉 hah hah, just kidding. So the short elevator pitch is Bladerunner meets Dresden Files meets Supernatural. The slightly longer plot pitch is thus: To Beat the Devil is a quasi cyberpunk novel set after the biblical apocalypse. God is gone, Hell has risen and to combat that, mankind began augmenting themselves with technology. The novel picks up almost 200 years later. Our protagonist, Salem, is an immortal smuggler who a bit of an isolationist and a jerk. He has his world opened when he meets a mysterious client who helps him find his humanity, while together they investigate what’s happened to the human soul.
TPF: What did you do in the Air Force? How did your experience in the Air Force help you with this book?
M.K.: I could tell you but…
But seriously, I worked in Military Intelligence as an analyst for 20 years.
Did it help me? Not directly. But indirectly, 100% yes. In my career I’ve been all over the world and see places and things many folks don’t get the chance to outside of travel. Plus, I was blessed to have had the opportunity to meet many diverse and interesting people, learn their stories and watch every manner of human interaction. And, in my time, I’ve been at tremendous personal and emotional highs with horrible, wretched, tearful lows. As I write, I try and draw from those people and those experiences to hopefully infuse my writing with heart and believability (I swear that’s a word!), even in a dystopian, cyberpunk, Hell ruled future.
For example, back when I was stationed in Alaska, I did a lot of shift work. Over the winter, you would go weeks to months with no sunlight. I was single and recently promoted so my age peers were no longer my work peers. Thus, I was sad, alone in the dark for a good long time. I used those feelings when I write Salem who feels isolated from everyone and everything in this new, messed up world.
TPF: Since retiring from the Air Force, is writing your full time gig, or do you do something else? And if you could, would you just write full time?
M.K.: My current full time gig is as a military contractor. Basically doing the same thing I used to do when I was in the Air Force, but as a civilian. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but when the day comes when I can support my family with my writing, I will walk away from government work and never look back. I want NOTHING more than to write and entertain people until the day I die.
TPF: As unusual as some of your characters are, are some based on people you’ve known in real life, and are you Salem?
M.K.: Hah hah…you found me out. Yes, in many, many ways I am Salem. Similar build, appearance and manner. He is my avatar. My way of reacting in an insane, unique world. But, in many ways, he and I are vastly different. In my defense, a lot of first time writers with 1st person point of view books put a lot of themselves in their primary character. It not only makes the voice more personal, it strengthens their writing as they (we) learn the craft and practice.
And yes, I’ve used people from my life as templates for some my characters. But those templates evolve into, hopefully, fun characters to read.

Jensen Ackles

Jensen Ackles

TPF: If you could choose anyone play your protagonist Salem in the movie version of your book, who do you think would be the best fit?
M.K.: When I originally came up with the idea and tinkered with it back in 2008, it would have been Jensen Ackles, Dean Winchester from Supernatural. Hell, I guess he could still do it. I’m sure Hollywood would want Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper or Ryan Reynolds. I think it may actually be against Hollywood law that they are not in a movie at least once a quarter. Hmm…
TPF: So what’s next for you? How soon is the sequel on the way? Will there be other books not based on Salem and his Earth?
M.K.: Well, book 2 is slated for late summer. I’ve written enough material so far for 5 books, and I have a lot more ideas for where the series goes, ends, possibly picks up again and perhaps some one-shot spin-off novels. I recently submitted my manuscript for Villains Rule to my publisher. It’s my attempt at a Pratchett/Goodkind tongue-in-cheek comedic action novel, which follows a human from “the real world” who acts as a villain adviser to fantasy overlords.Of course, like all writers, I have a ton of great story ideas in my mind. I just need to the bloody time to get them out.
But, before this interview is over, I would like to take a moment and say Thank You to you Phil Taylor. Thank you for taking a chance and reading my book. Thank you for your review and lastly, thank you for this opportunity to talk to your readers. Writing has been a lifetime goal of mine. Starting from the bottom sucks. But, with good people like you, helping poor schlubs like me, each day is easier and worth sitting down at the laptop. To any reader who pick up my book and gives it a read: From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You are why I do this. In the immortal words of Henry Rollins: Live Long & Strong!

M.K., thank you very much for taking the time to talk about your book for my readers. You can find M.K.’s awesome, action packed and hilarious book on Amazon and you can follow M.K. on Twitter, and his website. For more great novels from other authors in this genre visit Amber Cove Publishing and JimBernheimer.com. Have a great Sunday! ~Phil

New Eyes: Author Interview with Steve Treu!


New Eyes is a new book by first time author Steve Treu. I know I don’t usually get into any deep thoughts here at #ThePhilFactor, but Steve’s got some really interesting ideas that may open some eyes. Let’s get right to it!

TPF: In a nutshell, what makes your book, New Eyes, and your theory different from all the other self-help books people have to choose from?

Steve: Jesus, Muhammad, Krishna, Buddha and Albert Einstein all walk into a bar for a discussion. They walk out together as friends. That’s New Eyes in a nutshell!

This book is revolutionary in its depth and breadth. First it dives into quantum physics to identify the true source of our problems, and then it links together all of the world’s well-known religions to support the idea that evolving consciousness is the primary objective of the human species.

While it goes deep into uncharted waters, New Eyes was essentially written for the layman. I’m a former sportswriter and nothing in this book will go over anyone’s head. I didn’t write it to impress college professors, I wrote it so that everyone could have practical access to some of the greatest mysteries within this universe. In other words, as complex as New Eyes may sound, my goal was to keep it as simple as possible. Ultimately, the intention of this book is to inspire a paradigm shift.

TPF: Are you talking about spirituality from a scientific perspective or are you a spiritualist looking at science from a religious point of view?

Steve: Yes. Which is to say, both! The book makes the case that the two disciplines are not mutually exclusive, as science and spirituality are merely different languages that are describing the same thing. It begins with a scientific perspective, explaining the nature of reality through the lens of quantum physics, then shifts toward the non-physical perspective to shed light on the true meaning and purpose of spiritual teachings.

Unfortunately, religion has been greatly misunderstood and misapplied for centuries, creating conflict and division throughout the world.

Steve Treu

Steve Treu

TPF: If someone isn’t looking for self-insight or improvement, what would they like about your book?

Steve: Knowledge is power, and readers are telling me that they feel both after finishing New Eyes. The middle section of the book is filled with super cool concepts.  If you enjoy movies like “The Matrix” or “Interstellar” or “Inception” or anything of that genre, you will be fascinated to know that the world of science fiction is becoming science fact. There is surely much fodder for Jeopardy enthusiasts or trivia buffs in New Eyes.

TPF: What has been the most surprising reaction you’ve gotten to your book?

Steve: Good question. I’ve worked with over 3,000 clients in my life as a licensed professional counselor, nearly all with addiction or mental health issues. I have seen first hand how the concepts in this book heal people as they shift their perspective on life, with countless clients reporting that they feel “cured” from what had ailed them. So I am not surprised when I hear from them how they have been impacted by New Eyes. Plus, my 12-year-old son Aidan said he wanted to read it … and then I actually caught him doing so. That was surprising. (And also gratifying!)

TPF: What can you tell me about your company Quantum Revolution, Inc.?

Steve: As the name implies, we are starting a revolution of the mind that we intend to go viral. Reality-changing scientific concepts have been kept quiet for far too long.

Indeed, the book begins with a little story about a man from the 1500’s who is among the first to realize that earth revolves around the sun. Can you imagine not knowing that? Well, future generations will one day look back upon us, shaking their heads in amusement that we were unaware of some of the scientific facts that we have not been applying.

I’d hate to be the last one to find out that the sun does not revolve around the earth. At Quantum Revolution, we hate to see people struggling when both science and spiritual show that suffering is unnecessary.

As such, we are a mental health and addiction treatment company that utilizes such principles to help people heal. When they shift their consciousness, they improve their lives. Our goal is to make these concepts known to anyone who wishes to be on the cutting edge of modern science and spiritual awakening.

TPF: So what’s next for you?

Steve: I am already writing another book, called Hope Is Dope, which is really more of a basic manual for teachers, students, ministers and anyone else who is interested in taking part in this Quantum Revolution. We want to overthrow the way addiction treatment is done in this country by advocating a more love-based approach, one that features virtues such as compassion, wisdom, forgiveness and hope as opposed to shame, guilt, threats and punishment.

It is an empowering model, as each individual person needs to take complete responsibility for their emotional state as well as for their healing. This is a significant part of what New Eyes is about as well, that the world is healed on the level of the individual. Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, each person who elevates consciousness facilitates the development of others.

Bottom line, Quantum Revolution Inc. is going to be working on inspiring people to see the world differently. We plan to do this through therapy, education, books, seminars, inspirational speakers, social media, documentaries, feature films, video games and perhaps a quantum theme park one day. (We like to dream big.) In the end, we hope that all of us can walk out of this place together as friends.

TPF: Thanks Steve. My readersand I really appreciate you taking your time to talk about your book, which is available in both paperback and e-book format from Amazon. You can also find his work on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram as quantum.revolution. For those of you celebrating the holiday today, Happy Easter and for those not, have a great Sunday! ~Phil

Indie (?) Author Interview: Hugh Howey

This is the guy who gives me hope and keeps me writing. Once he was just an indie author writing his stories like me but when he made it big he was still nice enough to interview for my blog.

Interview with Jodyne Speyer, Author of Dump ’em: How to Break Up with Anyone from Your Best Friend to Your Hairdresser

I’ve decided to re-blog some of my interviews on Fridays. Jodyne, who is Sarah Silverman’s sister, could not have been nicer, and I sincerely thought her book was a fun read.

I Heart My Little A-Holes author Karen Alpert!


Those of you that have followed me for a long time have seen me interview Pulitzer Prize winners, rocket scientists, magicians and a lot of awesome bestselling authors. Those interviews were alright, but today I have someone really impressive, a Mom. Not just any mom. I have a Karen Alpert, author of the New York Times bestselling book I Heart My Little A-Holes: A bunch of holy-crap moments no one ever told you about parenting and the long running, hilarious blog Baby Sideburns.

I’m a parent and I know a lot of you are too. (If you’re considering being a parent I strongly suggest reading Karen’s book first) You know how when you’re a parent sometimes you wish you could respond to your kid like you would to an adult that acted like your kid is acting? (That’s possibly the worst sentence I’ve ever constructed, but you get the gist) Or you want to scream and rant about your kids to another parent who would understand, but you don’t because you’re afraid they’d call Child Protective on you? Well guess what?  Karen Alpert says all those things out loud in her book and on her blog.

TPF: Karen, thanks for visiting The Phil Factor. You worked as an ad exec for many years before becoming a mom. Both jobs involve convincing gullible people to believe you. Which is a tougher audience?

Karen: Thanks for having me, Phil. Definitely the rugrats. But advertising was awesome preparation for motherhood. I learned how to drink a lot, curse a lot, and make people believe a bunch of bullshit. Unfortunately, I think I was probably a lot more successful in the ad world.


TPF: What’s the toughest part about being a stay at home mom/author?

Karen: Not being able to eat chocolate without someone noticing. That’s really hard. Plus, when you’re working at home, it’s really difficult to get stuff done since the kids are always around. Shutting the door in your kiddo’s face because you have to work is really hard. Especially since I don’t have a soundproof room and my youngest likes to shriek at the top of his lungs like a crazy Pterodactyl.

TPF: What’s the best part of being a stay at home mom/author?

Karen: Making my own schedule is great. I never miss any of the fun school stuff like boring PTO meetings, or mind-numbing dance recitals, or monotonous plays. Plus, I’m home for dinner every night. Which basically means I have to make dinner every night. And it has to look like I really tried.

And as much as I like working at home and setting my own hours and being my own boss, oh my gawwwwd do I miss sitting at a desk next to other grownups and being sent on business trips. When I first had Zoey, I was sent on a business trip right away and I was so upset about leaving her. Now the thought of going on a six-hour flight all alone to an empty hotel room sounds heavenly.

 TPF: Trust me, even though my kids are older, those business trips/breaks are great. What’s the funniest or best story you couldn’t include in your book?

Karen: Let’s just say there is one story that has something to do with, wait a sec, if I couldn’t put it in the book, I can’t put it here. Nice try.

 TPF: Have you ever considered writing a chapter or blog post about potty training and calling it “American Wiper”? (Feel free to use that. It’s mine but I have no use for it)

Karen: Damn it, Phil. You’re stealing my thunder. Note to self, change title of chapter seven.

TPF: When I e-mailed, you said you were up to your elbows in a book proposal. Unless that’s code for tiny human bodily fluids, could you give us a preview of your next book?

Karen: Sure. It’s going to have pages and probably a cover. And my name will be on the cover. And there will probably be chocolate on the draft that I send to my editor. Well, there would be if people still sent paper drafts. Oh how I wish I knew what it was going to be about. The truth is the last time I did this, I did it all alone. I self-published and I didn’t have anyone edit it (because I’m an idiot and spelled the words your and you’re wrong all over the place, oh, and flatulence) and I never wrote a proposal. This whole thing is totally new to me and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. But I’m crossing my fingers that my brain farts out a couple of funny ideas so we’ll see.

images (20) 

Karen, thank you for taking some time from your busy schedule to entertain my readers. For those of you who want to enjoy more of Karen’s brilliant, sarcastic wit and insight, you can read her book I Heart My Little A-Holes, her essay in the humor essay collection I Just Want to Pee Alone and her hilariously awesome blog Baby Sideburns. You can also follow Karen on Facebook and Twitter. Seriously, read her book and follow her blog. She’s hilarious.

As always, if you enjoy what you read here at #ThePhilFactor, please put the social in social media by sharing it with your friends by hitting the Facebook, Twitter or re-blog buttons below. Have a great Friday! ~ Phi

Interview with D-List Author Jim Bernheimer!

No, that “D-List” in the title isn’t a dig at Jim, it’s a reference to his hugely popular 2011 self-published novel Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, which chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Calvin Stringel, who goes from climbing the tech corporate ladder to outcast to… I don’t want to give too much away. My story is that Jim’s D-List was the first “indie author” novel  I ever read and after asking Jim some questions by e-mail, I was encouraged enough to start my own self-publishing journey. Jim however hasn’t stopped after D-List. He has a whole catalog of interesting novels. Jim’s newest novel is the prequel to D-List, titled appropriately enough Origins of a D-List Supervillain. Jim was one of my first author interviews in 2013 and was kind enough to come back.

TPF: Jim, thanks for agreeing to a return visit on The Phil Factor. Jim, now that I’ve done more writing, I find that I put a little bit of me into the protagonist of each of my books. Is that the case with you, and if so, which of your characters has the most similarities to you?

Jim: Most of my main characters are rather cynical. I’m probably closer to Mike Ross of the Dead Eye series than Cal Stringel from the D-List Supervillain in my level of cynicism.

TPF: Jim, I know that your wife grew up in western New York. How did she feel about the cheap shot you took at the Buffalo Bills in Origins? Aside from this question, have you gotten flack from others about that?


Jim: Nah. I’m a Bills fan too. We all suffer together. Sometimes at conventions, I’ll wear a Buffalo Bills polo shirt I have and occasionally people will actually stop because of it and talk football. I’ll joke that it is part of my cosplay as a disgruntled Bills fan. Even though we’re 7-6 right now, that remaining schedule doesn’t look promising to get into the postseason.

TPF: Rather than make the main character in your D-List books either a hero or a villain you give him a bit of both. Was that the plan when you started or did it evolve as you created the story?

Jim: I always wanted to write a well done anti-hero. Cal Stringel is that guy. Back in the 80’s (now I feel old), I used to love watching Starblazers. My favorite character – Desslok because he was my first real introduction to an anti-hero. A quality anti-hero will live by his own code and stay true to himself while still being able to evolve as a character.

TPF: Will there be another chapter in the D-List series? Because it’s been so successful for you do you feel obligated to keep it alive?

Jim: Well, I’ve just sent Secrets of a D-List Supervillain off to the editor, if that answers the question. It replaced the Dead Eye novel I had planned to write in this slot. To be perfectly honest, if it sells as well as Origins has, Trials of a D-List Supervillain will probably be written next. The series has all the momentum going for it right now. Audible.com bought the rights to the Confessions audio book for the next 5 years, so it’s in their interest to “move” it. At the end of November of this year (2014), they made it the Daily Deal and sure enough I was the number one bestselling audio book on all of audible.com for that day. It’s the third day of December as I’m responding to this and I’m still in the top 5 of all science fiction. That kind of exposure is the kind of thing that has to be taken advantage of.

TPF: I’m sure Audible.com is nice, but c’mon, is it Phil Factor type exposure? On your website, jimberheimer.com, you mention that the next chapter in the Dead Eye series may be out this Fall/Winter. Could you tell my readers a little about that storyline and when we, and when I say we I mean me, can look forward to the third book?

Jim: Dead Eye 3 is probably more of a summer 2015 release now, especially if D-List 4 bumps it. My plan for Dead Eye 3 is to heavily involve Mike in the supernatural “turf war” taking place from New York City down through New Jersey that was briefly mentioned in the first Dead Eye novel. Mike thinks he’s in a good spot now, but the story mirrors the real world and the Recession of 2008 is about to hammer the spirit who’d planned to employ him. Even ghosts have real world problems in that series.

TPF: To be honest Jim, I’ve only read five of your ten books. Could you tell me and The Phil Factor readers a little bit about both your Prime Suspects and Sorceress novels?

Jim: Prime Suspects: A Clone Detective Mystery is the story of a clone of a homicide detective created to solve the murder of his prime (original). Complicating matters is the fact that most of the suspects are also clones of the same homicide detective and they know all his tricks! He’s the murder victim, several of the murder suspects and the guy trying to solve the murder all at the same time. It is my attempt to write a noir sci-fi in the vein of Blade Runner (or the source material for that – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep). A friend of mine is helping me adapt the novel into a screenplay and I’m eager to see what might come of that!

The Spirals of Destiny Series (Book One – Rider and Book Two – Sorceress) are my epic fantasy novels about a young woman (Kayleigh) who bonds with a unicorn (Majherri). It is anything but your normal unicorn and maiden story. When a woman bonds with a unicorn, she’s drafted into the High-King’s Battle Maidens, who are his peacekeepers, his ambassadors, and his enforcers if need be. The odd numbered chapters are written from the unicorn’s point of view and the even numbered ones are from Kayleigh’s. The unicorns are fully functioning characters in the story. They have their own culture, motivations, and emotions. Majherri is the only unicorn to have survived the death of a rider. Normally when a bond is made, the unicorn is the source of the magic and the rider is the control mechanism. If a rider dies, the unicorns magic eventually becomes toxic to the unicorn and they die of a disease called the wasting.

Because of Majherri’s survival, he’s a pariah and an outcast, a true broken hero searching for answers and redemption. Kayleigh is his second rider off to The Academy to learn how to become a Battle Maiden. She’s your fish-out-of-water / coming of age story. Their unlikely partnership will have to survive the stirring evil that is stalking the Blessed Continent.

I hope to also release Spirals of Destiny Book Three – Champion in 2015. Sounds like a busy year for me, so I’d better get writing. J

Jim, thank you again for taking the time to visit and tell my readers about your phenomenal books. I’m looking forward to reading more from you in the very near future and to having you back on #ThePhilFactor as well. If you’re interested in Jim’s books you can find out more on Amazon and his website. Thanks for stopping by everybody. Have a great Sunday and go root for those Buffalo Bills! ~Phil

Author Interview with Sean Smithson: Being an Arse Shouldn’t Be This Much Fun

Sean Smithson pic

Sean Smithson is not really the author’s name. It’s a pen name. He says it’s far easier to pronounce than his real name. I suspect however that it may be an alias to protect his real identity just in case there are any pending warrants. Also, as you can see in his picture above, he’s wearing a mask as well. Based on his book I also believe that the glitter on his face is from strippers. Once you read his new book, How to Lose a Girl in Ten Ways you’ll understand. Truth be told, I don’t think he documents any real crimes, unless you count his crimes against good taste and common sense when pursuing the fairer sex.

How To Lose

 TPF: Hi Sean and welcome to The Phil Factor. The first and most obvious question is, do any of the women from the stories in your book know about the book and if so, what has their reaction been?

Sean: Hey Phil, thanks for having me on the ‘show’. Hmm… Well if any of them have found out about it, it certainly wouldn’t have been from me. As I’m not really on talking terms with half of them anymore. And as for the other half; it’s fair to say that we were never on talking terms in the first place.

 TPF: Fess up. Was writing a book just an elaborate ruse to score with women by saying, “Can I buy you a drink? I’m a published author.” And if so, has it worked yet?

Sean: Ha. If it was, I definitely would’ve come up with a different title. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that it’s somewhat of an anti-pick-up line. As once they’ve heard what the book’s called, the conversation usually doesn’t last much longer.

Phil 1

“Children’s books. Next time go with children’s books!”

 TPF: Considering the fact that many of your chapters involve bodily fluids, sex and a fair bit of wanking, all of which may have taken place at your parents’ home, sometimes when they were still there, do you parents know about this book? If not, do you ever plan to tell them?

Sean: They’ve always known that I was writing a book; they just didn’t know what it was about. And as much as I would’ve liked for it to stay that way, the truth eventually had to come out… I’d rather they heard it from me than read about it in the book. Or even worse, found out from my uncle; my cousin told me he ordered it from Amazon last week.

I told mum the gist of #3 (possibly my best/worst work) and after an excruciatingly long pause she responded:


“What?!? On our couch?”

 TPF: To be clear, Taylor Swift is not Sean’s mother, although she probably will date him eventually and then write an angry song about him. Sean, If you were to give one piece of advice to women when deciding whether or not they should invest their time with a guy, what would it be?

Sean: I’m not really sure. Nay. I KNOW I’m not qualified to be dishing out relationship advice, Phil.

Phil 2

 TPF: Sometimes the best mistakes are those that we learn from. Based on your experiences that are documented in your book, what is the one piece of advice you would give a guy whose goal is took hook up with a woman?

Sean: Read my book and do the exact opposite of everything I did!

TPF: Now that you’re a little older and allegedly more mature than when you lived the content of your book, has your approach to dating changed at all? If so, how?

Sean: I’m still single, Phil. Does that answer your question?

Phil 3

TPF: There you have it ladies and gentlemen; the first appearance of an animated gif on The Phil Factor. Now that Ten Ways has launched have you considered turning your website SeanSmithson.com into a dating advice site where you answer readers’ questions?

Sean: I refer you back to my answers to the three previous questions…

TPF: Sean, thanks again for visiting #ThePhilFactor. For those of you that want to stalk Sean, which would be an ironic turn of events for the ladies, you can find him at his website and Facebook.

You can download the eBook from Amazon, iTunes or Barnes & Noble. Or purchase the paperback from The Book Depository (free worldwide delivery).

As always, if you enjoy what you read here and want to help Sean finally find happiness, please share by hitting the reblog, Facebook, or Twitter buttons below. Have a great Monday! ~Phil


Author Interview: Robert Chazz Chute!


Hi Robert. Thanks for stopping by The Phil Factor. I’m a follower of your blog, Chazzwrites.com and I’ve read one and a half of your books. I figured that if I like what I’ve read from you so far my readers would too. For those of you not familiar with Robert’s work, he is the author of the unusual zombie serial This Plague of Days, of which he released Season 3 yesterday on Father’s Day as well as the Omnibus Edition containing all three seasons. The series is so awesome that it has it’s own website. Click the highlighted title in the last sentence. That brings me to my first question.

TPF: Why are your Plague of Days books referred to as Seasons 1, 2, and 3?

 Robert: I wrote it like a novelization of a television serial, broke it up into episodes and released it that way. I don’t consider myself an experimental writer, but I do like to do things that are different and play with the form. Well…actually, it’s really fun to play with readers’ expectations and put my fingers in their brains and stir.


There were solid marketing reasons for doing it that way, too. Season 3 is just one big book, though. It’s gained an audience so the serial approach was good last year but the business case for it is over since This Plague of Days succeeded.

 TPF: This Plague of Days has a very unique protagonist. Would you give a brief synopsis for my readers who aren’t yet familiar with your very popular zombie serial?

 Robert:  Jaimie Spencer is 16, from Kansas City, Missouri and on the autistic spectrum. He’s a selective mute with a very rich inner life and interesting obsessions, like Latin proverbs. He’s just about the most unlikely champion for the human race there is. There are very few gun-totin’ Special Forces guys in my zombie apocalypse.


TPF: I love the Youtube video you had made about your Bigger Than Jesus and Higher Than Jesus books. Have you caught much flack from anyone regarding the title and the fact that the covers include some very sexy women wearing large crosses? (everybody, click on the video below it’s hilarious and short)

Robert:  Ha! Early on, there were a few grumbles. Once they found out it’s about a funny, luckless Cuban assassin whose name sounds like “Hay-soose,” they eased off. No complaints about the covers, though. They’re actually a tribute to some Bond covers from the 1980s. It’s weird to me how some people get the vapors over sexy stuff but violence doesn’t bother those same people. Earth is weird, man. We don’t think so, but that’s only because we live here.

TPF: Now that you mention it, I do see the Bond similarities. We all know that Howard Stern dubbed himself The King of All Media. Considering your many blogs, your two podcasts, your Facebook, your Twitter, your Pinterest and your Youtube videos have you ever considered trademarking the phrase The King of All Social Media?

 Robert: No. I think Howard has that title already. It’s a lot to keep up with and the truth is, I’m a bit behind since I’ve poured even more energy into writing books lately. I’m an introvert pretending to be an extrovert. None of that stuff is the real me.

TPF: Is your name Robert or Chazz? Is Chazz your real middle name?

 Robert: Chazz is for Charles. There’s a Native American poet named Robert Chute. It wouldn’t be nice to confuse his readers. Also, it would be a terrible thing to do to him, wouldn’t it? I don’t even want to be me.


TPF: You often write advice for indie authors and you’re very outspoken regarding self-publishing. What do you see as the biggest obstacle to indie authors being taken seriously?

Robert: Typos. I had a problem in production with a couple of my books. It’s fixed now (to my great relief.) Beyond that? I don’t think this is scientific, but 90% of everything is crap, from plumbing supplies to acupuncturists. Literature is no different and there are examples of its zenith and nadir everywhere. That’s why we all live for the discovery of that special book that really speaks to us, right?

However, I should add, indie authors have improved a lot over the last couple of years and I don’t think we have to be so self-conscious anymore. It’s largely known by the numbers, indie is in many ways a solid choice. A lot of people aren’t chasing trad publishing’s gatekeepers anymore so we’re really not so worried about that stuff these days. Self-aware is good. Less self-conscious is also good.

TPF: When readers read a book they often forget that it was the cover art that captivated them before a word was read. You often rave about the cover art Kit Foster does for you. Which of your covers is your favorite and why?

 Robert: Probably the latest one. Kit outdid himself with Season 3 of This Plague of Days. I love all his work. Murders Among Dead Trees looks fantastic, too (and both make fire into high art.) You realize you’re asking me to tell you which is my favorite child, right?


TPF: Well of course. Whether they admit it or not every parent has a favorite child. You have a love for podcasts. Would you recommend all authors have podcasts?

Robert: It’s not for everybody and it does take time. However, it has allowed me to meet people I wouldn’t meet otherwise. Hugh Howey was on the Cool People Podcast, for instance. I’ve made a lot of friends and allies through podcasting and blogging. You really have to have the energy and enthusiasm to have your own radio station. I’ve been on hiatus myself, though I’m getting back on schedule this month. Whatever activities you do, the writing has to come first.


TPF: With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington State has your book Self-Help for Stoners seen a bump in sales over the last six months?

Robert: Haha! Nah. I wish, though the cover art for that book is so popular, it’s repinned on Pinterest quite a few times every week. Legalization doesn’t create new users (or readers), but now they don’t have to deal with some sketchy guy named Skeet with a neck tattoo late at night.Self-help for Stoners sells steadily because its niche is so vast it shouldn’t be called a “niche.” The fiction isn’t even exclusively for marijuana users (no more than the movie The Lost Weekend is for alcoholics.) The story behind the title has more to do with my inspirations to get writing again, director Kevin Smith and comedian Joe Rogan.



TPF: Last question. Why should readers go out and pick up your This Plague of Days series?

Robert: It’s an adventure that’s thought provoking and goes deeper than escapism and fantasy alone. I like all kinds of action, suspense and horror and I’m not above the gross out. However, after you read This Plague of Days, you’re going to be haunted with some questions about yourself that require some thought long after you’re finished the book. Promise. Or come for the jokes.

TPF: Robert, thank you again for your visiting #ThePhilFactor. Good luck with the launch of your two new books and I hope you’ll come back the next time you launch another book. For those of you who want more of Robert Chazz Chute in your life you can find links to all his books and his media empire here.  Of course you can find him on Amazon too. If you’re a Robert Chazz Chute fan please feel free to hit the Facebook, Twitter or reblog buttons below to share this awesome interview with all your friends. Have a great week! ~Phil

Interview with Lori Duron, Author of Raising My Rainbow

Hi Lori and welcome to The Phil Factor. Thank you for taking some time from your busy schedule to answer some questions for my readers.  For those of you not familiar with Lori’s work yet, she is the author of the blog and the book, both titled Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son.

Lori Duron

TPF: Your blog and book are about raising a son, C.J., who from a very young age hasn’t fit the societal gender stereotypes when it comes to his dress, choice of activities or behaviors. How has having such a creative son enriched your life in ways you never expected?

Lori: First, thanks for acknowledging that raising a gender creative child has enriched my life.  So often, people assume that it has had only a negative impact on my life.  C.J. is so fun and sparkly.  He’s creative and free and so set on being who he was created to be.  He’s taught us not to care what other people think and to have more empathy.  He’s taught us to judge less and accept more.   He’s so entirely authentic that it makes everyone around him want to live that way too.  It’s inspiring. 


 TPF: When I read your accounts of how C.J. looks at things from a very different point of view I imagine that he often unintentionally educates you or changes your perspective. What is the most impactful thing you’ve learned from C.J.?

Lori: He’s taught me to just let people be themselves. He’s taught me to let go of expectations because they can be so foolish.  And, he’s taught me that as a parent, I’m here to love my children and support them, not change them.  That’s really freeing in many ways.

TPF: Has C.J. realized yet what a celebrity he has become as a result of your blog and book? How does he react to the publicity?

Lori: Both of my boys know about the book and blog.   They are very proud of what we have done as a family, but their lives are largely the same as they were before all of this.  They go to school and their extracurricular activities and, on the weekends, we spend time with family and friends. We’ve never been recognized when out in public.  The moms at school gossip about us, but the boys don’t notice.  We do get to go to special events and sometimes get spoiled by readers, and they really like that.

C.J. wants “everybody in the world and even America” to read the book so that everybody will know he is gender nonconforming and he’ll never have to explain it again.   But, alas, that has not happened. 

 TPF: Speaking of celebrities, Neil Patrick Harris wrote the Foreword for your book. How did that come about?

Lori:  Neil and David have become friends of our family and are so supportive.  They are great parents and C.J. knows that around their family and friends he can totally be himself.  He sees them singing and dancing and wants to be them when he grows up.  Which is cool with me, because when your son aspires to be like Neil and David when he grows up, you have to think he’s chosen wisely.


TPF: What’s the best reaction you’ve ever seen from someone who has met C.J. ?

Lori:  People are usually surprised that he’s such a happy kid.  That’s what most people say and that, in turn, makes me happy.  That’s what I want for both of my kids, to be happy.  So many kids like C.J. aren’t, because they are being stifled or told that who they are is wrong.  C.J. is really comfortable with himself and there are no signs of distress, anxiety, depression or unhappiness.  He thinks he’s awesome.

 TPF: How long did it take you and your husband to go from panic and worry to enjoying C.J.’s uniqueness? Does the worry ever go completely away? What helps?

Lori:  It’s been an evolution for sure.  The first year was really hard and there were definitely parenting moments that I’m not proud of today.  It’s been an evolution for every member of our family and for those friends who have decided to remain in our lives.  There were certain things that helped us get to a place of acceptance:  reading the book “Gender Born, Gender Made,” blogging, connecting with other families like ours and meeting with a gender therapist.  Other than those things, time and patience were huge helpers.

 TPF: What is your absolute favorite story related to C.J.’s gender creativity?

Lori:  Right before school started one year C.J. wanted girl’s underwear.  My husband and I drew a line and wouldn’t let him get girl’s underwear.  We explained that there wasn’t enough room up front and they would hurt his boy bits.  A few days later, I was standing in a long line at a retail store when he wandered away.  He was up by the register in view of the entire line when he held up a package of Little Mermaid underwear for girls.  He held them high above his head and yelled to me “Mommy, will these hurt my balls and weiner?!”  I was so embarrassed and had to remind myself that one day the scene would be funny.  And, here we are today.

Lori, thank you for your time and your sharing. For those of you who want to read Lori’s blog, which has something in every post that makes me smile, you can find it at RaisingMyRainbow.com. (For those of you blogging on WordPress, she’s one of us)  Her book can be found in paperback and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and everything else. As always folks, if you like what you read here at #ThePhilFactor please share by one of the social media buttons below.

Picture credits: http://www.durangoherald.com, crownpublishing.com