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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.

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...

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.

 

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  

   

 

Reader View Loves Gun Play

by Michael 3/11/2010 8:29:00 AM
Reader Views, has published a review of Gun Play. The reviewer, Richard R. Blake, gives a general summary of the books plot ending with gleaming praise for both the title and its author.

"Gun Play is well written, with subtle humor, excellent reporting on crime scene procedures, and is filled with fast-moving narrative, believable characters, and entertaining, informative dialog. This is a must read for every mystery fan."

"Gun Play and The Shooting Shrink Series will soon be a household word, discussed at every Starbucks, on the Oprah show, and on the bestseller lists."


Reader Views reviews appear on Amazon.com, Fox News, USA Today, Reuters and NBC. They also appear on iVillage, in newspapers and on many online websites and blogs.

Check out the full review here!

 

Shrinking Fiction in Palm Springs: Story Consulting and Writer Coaching with Michael Thompkins Leads to a Debut Novelist

by Michael 2/1/2010 8:30:00 AM

As a spin-off from the Shrinking Fiction Workshops at Southern California Writers Confereence , a number of students approach me to help them with their writing projects. My work with them has been highly enjoyable for me and, hopefully, for them. My work with these first students is falling into a pattern where we divide the projects into three parts: Act One, Act Two and Act Three of their novel. The work is taking place in Seattle, where I live and Palm Springs where I have a condo. 

If you are interested in this work, please listen to the following podcast which is a discussion between Claudia Whitsitt and me in Palm Springs in July. Need I say in advance, the weather was hot, 106 degrees. You can hear the fountain in the background helping cool the patio. In the podcast, we discuss progress on Claudia's novel, The Wrong Guy.

February 2010: This just in from SCWC: "SCWC21, 22, 23 and 24 conferee Claudia Whitsitt has inked the deal for her debut novel, The Wrong Guy, with Echelon Press. This makes for the sixth or seventh author discovered by Echelon publisher Karen Syed at the Southern California Writers Conference. Congratulations, Claudia!."

 

Listen to the Video Podcast Here!

Exclusive: Ron Oden Interviewed by Author Michael Thompkins

by Michael 1/2/2010 12:02:00 PM

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Ron Oden is an American, openly gay politician. In November 2003, he was elected the mayor of Palm Springs, California after serving eight years on its city council. He was born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Los Angeles, California. He was an ordained Seventh-day Adventist minister and holds two Masters degrees, but stepped away from the church shortly before entering politics [1].He is the father of two daughters, Brooke and Brittany. He is also the grandfather of two granddaughters and one grandson. [2] In June 2006, he lost in the Democratic primary for a seat in the California State Assembly by less than 100 votes."

Ron is a friend of mine. We both enjoy a good talk, so the first week in September, as summer grew to a close in Palm Springs, we finally sat down at my condo in Palm Springs and did the interview we had been talking about for several years. In the final moments of the hour, I realized how much I admired and respected Ron for his honesty,courage,and service to Palm Springs. 

-Michael 

 

Download the Interview

Podcast of Southern California Writer's Conference Saturday Workshop on Shrinking Character Part II- How Psychology Can Help You Write Character

by Michael 12/30/2009 4:00:00 PM

The podcast from Saturday at the Southern California Writer's Conference San Diego SCWCSD#23 is here:

Download to your desktop

If you didn't attend the conference and want to learn what we covered in the Saturday workshop, Shrinking Character II-How Psychology Can Help You Write Character simply download the Windows Media File to your computer desktop and it will automatically play for you. (Or save it for later viewing.)  This podcast covers the Saturday workshop Part II, where I discuss the various somatic maps in depth and work with various character developments issues from student projects. Enjoy and, as always, leave your comments. If you attended these workshops, the entire two day workshop will be available from me for downloading as soon as I complete editing. Email me and leave your email address if interested. If you were not a conferee but are interested in the full sessions, they will be avaiilable for a small fee to be determined.


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions.