Shameless Self Promotion and Fun: Michael Thompkins, Author, Speaker and Talk Show Guest

by Michael 6/18/2012 8:51:00 AM

Give me some points for honesty: shameless self promotion says it all. 

I ran into an old friend last week, who is also a shrink, who knew me for many years as a practicing shrink. 

She accused me, "You are having way too much fun as a writer!" 

"Guilty as charged," I replied.  Truth be told, I loved being a shrink but in the 75 per cent zone.  I love being a writer 100 per cent of the time. 

I especially love speaking to groups about Psychology and Cops, Psychology and Writing , and Psychology and people in general.  I call these: Shooting Shrink, Psychology and Pen and Shrinking People.  Soon, you will see changes in the website reflecting these catgeories. The interview I had the most fun doing is in the preceding blog entry, my guest spot on the Elli Tourje show.  The most fun speaking engagements I have done are at the Southern California Writers Conferences SCWC and are available in the Blog Archives.

We will chat again soon.

Guest Article: Getting It Write with Rick Anderson

by Michael 5/23/2012 1:44:00 PM

Once again, my friend and fellow writer steps into our guest spot -Michael

Getting it Write 

The great thing about Michael's site is the resource it provides for writers that want to write about cops—and for cops that want to write. To be more precise, writers can find opportunities to inject authenticity into the cop characters that they're creating. I'm retired after a almost four decades in public service, capping my career as a federal agent. I met Dr. Michael Thompkins two years ago at the Southern California Writers Conference in Sunny Sandy Eggo. We were teaching separate workshops but our topics had connections to police characters. Comparing notes later, we were encouraged by the large turn-outs that revealed a deep desire among writers to keep their characters honest. There were Q&As following the lecture portions and the questions came fast & furious. One example: "Can my hero use a silencer on his revolver?" The short answer is, no. Or consider this question: "My protagonist is a police officer. She has to take on four punks in a dark alley. What're her options?" I replied, "Multiple," and explained a few. 

Michael's premier novel Gun Play reveals the great effort he put forth to bring to life vivid characters that not only talk the talk, but walk the walk in all things related to the world of cops & robbers. His characters are original, their credibility as working cops faultless. And how did Michael accomplish this? Through research, by riding with working officers, and through social contacts. As a result he's nailed the procedures, the talk, and equally important, the attitudes. This last quality is important because cops do have attitude—and good cops have very healthy ones that enable them in their work.More...

From What If to Being Published! by Claudia Whitsitt

by Michael 8/1/2011 11:03:00 AM

The thing about being a writer is that you automatically belong to a world village of writers and...it takes a village to write a book. 

Here's my friend Claudia Whitsitt  (see Shrinking Fiction in Palm Springs: Story Consulting and Writer Coaching with Michael Thompkins Leads to a Debut Novelist in the Shrinking Character Archives 2/2010) with herstory from What If to Being Published.

I began writing THE WRONG GUY three and a half years ago.  The idea was born on the beach in LaJolla, California, after I turned over my first novel for edits.  As I sat in the streaming sunlight digging holes in the sand, I thought back to a time of change in my life.  College.  I attended Eastern Michigan University on the heels of the arrest of John Norman Collins, the suspected killer in a series of brutal murders of co-eds that attended either Eastern Michigan or the University of Michigan.   I played “what if”.  What if the cops had the wrong guy?  What if there was another guy? And my brain took off!  THE WRONG GUY is loosely based on the Michigan Murders. The escalating deaths shocked my peaceful life and affected who I was and how I behaved.  For a lifetime.  My dorm mates and I were cautioned at every turn to travel in two’s, preferably with a male, to carry mace and whistles on our key rings and to never go anywhere with a strange young man we did not know.  Seemed reasonable.  But this was college, right?  Weren’t we trying to meet guys?  Weren’t our lives supposed to be carefree?  Not for co-eds at Eastern Michigan University or the U of M.More...

Gun Play Available from Amazon Kindle and Signed First Editions from this website. Limited Time Offer

by Michael 6/18/2011 8:40:00 AM

         

In preparation for a new publisher for Shooting Shrink v2, Big Island Play, I have recently secured the rights to Gun Play, the series logo, and series title, Shooting Shrink.  For a short period of time, Gun Play will be out-of-print and available from Amazon Kindle, Signed First Editions at this website, and various booksellers on-line and in-store who have stock remaining.

LIMITED TIME OFFER  Email  me a copy of your Kindle receipt for Gun Play  dated in 2010 and I will send the first fifty (50) folks a Signed Copy of Gun Play (not 1st edition.) Please include your name and mailing address.  michaelthompkins@shootingshrink.com

 

Finding Irish Writer Roots: Part Two

by Michael 5/1/2011 12:35:00 PM

 

Finding Irish Writer Roots: Part One is in the Blog Archives.  Part One details the beginning of a personal journey for this writer in 2008 in which I managed through a combination of blind luck, perserverance and professional help from Colleen Fitzpatrick (see her blog article) to stumble across the ancestral home of my grandmother, Anne Conway in Lisheenavalla Townland, Galway County, Ireland.  There I met my second cousin (once removed) Kitty Conway and Padraig Conway, my third cousin.

The next step was to locate my grandmother's baptismal and birth certificate, and other documentation.  Late in 2009, I applied for US/Irish joint citizenship.   

Kitty, Myself and Padraig in Lisheenavalla

 

 

 Finding Irish Writer Roots: Part Two is an installment for which I will let a picture speak a thousand words.  Look forward to more.

 

Shelly Frome Returns on the Writer's Art: the "What-if?"

by Michael 2/18/2011 8:50:00 AM

 And here's a new article by an old friend, fellow writer, and New Englander Shelly Frome about the by now classic in the Art of Writing--the "What-if?"  Shelly's bio can be found in the archive under Shrinking Character--Shrinking Fiction: Meet Shelly Frome.

Stalking the springboard for a crime novel  by Shelly Frome

            Someone once told me that you don’t have the necessary ingredients of a good crime novel unless one of your basic assumptions is threatened or, at the very least, you  have to come to terms with some facet of ongoing reality that’s really troubling you. The noted screenwriter and novelist William Goldman put it another way: “You write for revenge.” Be that as it may, though it may have a lot to do with the aforementioned comments, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what sets me off. Take my antic, edgy Hollywood novel. While staying at the Avalon at the corner of Olympic and Beverly Drive doing research for my book on screenwriting, everyone behind the reception desk was quick to note they were really actors or would-be screenwriters; the waiters and waitresses told me they were actually undiscovered talent. In no time, a short walk up the street revealed a paunchy middle-aged man standing in front of Al’s outdoor news-stand yelling into his cell phone, “Listen to me, Harry!  I’m telling you the me you think you know has breached the barricade. I’m gonna be taking a meeting, pitching a sure-fire idea for a vampire flick. I kid you not!”  And this, as they say, is just for openers.  

While all this was going on, despite the countless pipe dreams and illusions I encountered, there were signs that something approximating reality might be percolating beneath. At the park fronting the Santa Monica Pier, a shaggy-looking drifter in his early thirties was telling a well-tanned homeless man, “I tell you, you better watch out, you know?  It’s going down tonight.” And though she was reluctant to talk about it, my sister, who has a home just off La Cienega and Orlando, had bars installed on her windows after someone hot-wired her car while it was parked in her driveway and drove away into the night.  In addition, my mother’s house, about ten miles east, had been fitted with iron bars that were even more foreboding.More...

Michael Thompkins Guests on Real Life with Elli Tourje

by Michael 11/18/2010 8:00:00 AM

Listen on Newstalk 920 KPSI-AM, Palm Springs, California. Each week Elli interviews the mover and shakers in Palm Springs.  Listen to the podcast of her interview with Michael Thompkins.  The discussion ranges from Gun Play, v1 Shooting Shrink, the next novel in the Shooting Shrink Series, and the criminal mind to politics and Palm Springs. Elli is a talented interviewers and the questions she asks are stimulating. She is also a substitute newscaster for Newstalk 920 KPSI-AM.

Listen to the podcast

Dog Whisperer Falls

by Michael 5/2/2010 12:26:00 PM

All too suddenly I received the following email:

"With mournful regret, the California Narcotic & Explosive Canine Association gives notice that Dan Lamaster tragically perished in a residential house fire on Saturday, April 17, 2010. The Canine Community has lost a pioneer, a, visionary, an icon, a true friend.  There are times when mere words are insufficient to describe a person's life contribution both personally and professionally.  It would be impossible to ever accurately determine the number of people and dogs that Dan has positively influenced during his career, his life.   Dan was an original founding member of the California Narcotic Canine Association. His twenty years of unselfish contribution both on the field and in the classroom has been an integral factor that directly contributed to the overall quality and success of CNCA. Dan contributed so much, quietly, behind the scenes, without any intent to seek any kind of recognition, but instead did it because he wanted to be part of something that in the end would make us all better handler's, better trainer's, better people.  His kindness and compassion will always be, in all ways, a testament to his true character.  As we slowly and over time come to realize what a substantial loss we have all incurred on so many levels, let's give pause, remember and reflect on the absolute kind Soul that Dan was and continues to be and together we all must celebrate his life. He would have not wanted or accepted anything less. "

   

I knew Danny for just a few years as I researched Explosive Detection K9 teams and training in the Southland.  We established a bit of a friendship based on his love of dogs and literature.  When I first met him, he was engrossed in Steinbeck's East of Eden-"for the 13th time!" Danny was a dog whisperer, a man who could train the most stubborn or inattentive puppy to hunt and find explosives, contraband or people.  He was, as CNECA points out, a precious resource to Law Enforcement; his shoes will never be quite filled. 

He was also the lover of books and a resource to this writer. Without his encouragement, I would not be writing my newest and third novel (on K9 officers and their handlers.)  Without his presence, I am forced to continue with just his last words to live up to.  Danny finished the first act of my new novel as an informal editor and told a mutual friend: "tell michael I want more!"

Sometimes, writers write for themselves--the very least important reason.  Sometimes, they write a story that honors others--the most important reason.

Holocaust Frauds et al. as a New Literary Genre by Colleen Fitzpatrick

by Michael 5/1/2010 10:33:00 AM

Guest Byline from Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick , Forensic Genealogist

Story line:  Child orphaned during Holocaust. Alone, must depend on fate to survive while millions perish.  Unexpected savior appears. There is hope. Child survives war implausibly.  Setting is foreign country decimated by Holocaust. Child relocates to new country.

 

Child grows up.  Child writes autobiography– redefining the word “incredible”. Doubts arise about authenticity of story. Yet book becomes bestseller based on public emotion. Skeptics are squashed.

 

Forensic genealogists move in, discover evidence believed inaccessible, disproving story. Child is busted. Much adverse publicity followed by much face-saving in press.  Movie producer is hung out to dry.  Publisher claims no knowledge of fraud, withdraws publication, moves on to next project that may include a second book glorifying lame excuses for child’s deceiving millions of readers.  The phrase “to make a lot of money” is never mentioned.

 

Does this scenario describe

 
  1. Misha Defonseca’s Surviving with Wolves
  2. Herman Rosenblat’s “Apple story”
  3. Both of the above?
 

There is no law against publishing a book as nonfiction when there are suspicions that it is a fabrication. It may even be desirable to do so. Marketing a story as autobiographical can be more lucrative than marketing it as fiction. Public controversy over the truth only boosts sales. 

 

Both Misha’s and Herman’s stories would have made good reading as fiction, but the job of big publishing houses is not truth-in-marketing.  Their job is to make money. And once a work of non-fiction is exposed as a fraud, there is usually no requirement to return the money to the unsuspecting public.  Embarrassment is often enough to cease publication of the work and move on to the next project.  In the present cases, the publishers maintained their innocence, claiming they were taken in by the con as much as the public, and did the best job they could with the difficult task of fact-checking a Holocaust story when documentation was so hard to come by.  Yet if forensic genealogists could find evidence conclusively debunking the stories,then why couldn’t  multi-million dollar publishing houses?

 

A fraudulent autobiography can be lucrative for its author too.  After James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces was exposed in 2006 as fake, he was invited by Oprah to appear on her show to explain himself– displacing countless other authors more worthy of airtime.  Late in 2007, James Frey received a seven-figure advance from a publisher for his next three books.

 

As I remarked to my colleague, “We’re in the wrong business.  The real money is in creating the frauds, not debunking them. Since we are experts at how literary frauds are constructed, why don’t we create our own?” 

 

Are there others Holocaust frauds there?  Probably.  For the last year, I have been investigating Mark Kurzem’s The Mascot, an international bestseller about his father Alex, an orphan who survived the Holocaust thanks to circumstances that give yet a new meaning to the word “incredible”. The savior offers hope of a happy ending, only this time the story takes place in Belarus, Latvia, and Australia. The same indications of literary fraud are evident, including continual adjustment of the “true” story apparently for the sake of embellishment and to evade questions by skeptics. Not surprisingly, the subject of the story was experiencing financial difficulties around the time the book was conceived.  Of course the movie rights have been sold, even as true Holocaust survivors voice concern about the lack of authenticity of both the story and the storyteller.

 

Without the support of publishers, the autobiographical fraud industry would wither.  While there is so much money in publishing falsehood, there is little incentive to tell the truth. If you still want to enjoy a good story, please don’t believe everything you read in the paper, nor the paperback. If a story seems too “incredible” to be true, it usually is. For those of you who wish to take a stronger stand against literary fraud, I offer further advice.  Don’t buy the book, and I wouldn’t wait for the movie either.

-Colleen Fitzpatrick,  www.identifinders.com

 

 

Boy, this one is close to my psychologist turned author heart.  I can hardly wait for the comments to roll in.     -Michael  

   

 

Guest Blogger Brian Hilling Offers Some Thoughts on a New Type Of Fraud in Journalism that Dovetails with our Postings on Misha Defonseca

by Michael 4/12/2010 9:40:00 PM

 

Consider this Brian's First Song on this website--there will be more.  --MT

Once upon a time, there were certain kinds of fraud that a perpetrator might have felt safe committing.  In the literary context, we have the fake memoir. Not every fake memoir, to be certain; in a world when pretty much anyone can write a memoir, some frauds will be more easily apparent than others.  Margaret Seltzer, for instance, found herself called out by family and friends all of a week after the publication of Love and ConsequencesMisha Defonseca, however, telling a more obscure story that was difficult to verify, seems to have gotten away with her ruse for a decade before professional researchers—in this case, genealogists—managed to pluck away the vital threads binding together her tapestry of lies.  And this is important, the idea of getting caught.  Because compared to the narcissism we might suggest as a prerequisite for inventing such a fantastic biography, it is hard to figure just what degree of delusion one must suffer to publish fake interviews with famous people.  Jane Thurman reported for The New Yorker last week on the alleged fraud perpetrated by Tommaso Debenedetti.

Last month, Paola Zanuttini, a journalist from La Repubblica, the progressive Roman newspaper, interviewed Philip Roth about his latest novel, “The Humbling,” which has recently been published in Italian. “We had a lively and intelligent conversation about my fiction,” Roth said. The Q. & A. ran on February 26th, as the cover story of Il Venerdì—La Repubblica’s Friday magazine—with a fierce-looking closeup portrait of Roth, and the title “Sex and Me.” Zanuttini focussed on the relationships of Roth’s aging protagonists with their much younger inamoratas, the feminist response to them, and his own marriages and romances. “Your descriptions of sex are ruthless,” she asserted. “Ruthless?” he countered. She backed down a little: “They describe things as they are, raw and naked.” “I am pleased by the notion that I can still be scandalous,” he said. “I thought I had lost that magic.”

The real scandal revealed by the interview, however, came at the end, when Zanuttini asked Roth why he was so “disappointed” with Barack Obama. She translated, aloud, remarks attributed to him in an article by a freelance journalist, Tommaso Debenedetti, that was published last November in Libero, a tabloid notably sympathetic to Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy (who is embroiled in his own sex scandals with much younger women). “It appears that you find him nasty, vacillating, and mired in the mechanics of power,” Zanuttini said. “But I have never said anything of the kind!” Roth objected. “It is completely contrary to what I think. Obama, in my opinion, is fantastic.” He had never heard of Debenedetti, or of Libero. The interview, with its bitter judgment of Obama’s banality, failure, and empty rhetoric about hope and change, was a complete fabrication More...

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