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Monday, April 15, 2013

#54 Michael Gonzalez

20 Questions with Mourning Goats
Michael Gonzalez

In our line of Perfect Edge Books interviews, the next up is Mr. Michael Gonzalez, author of the new novel, Angel Falls. The goat is looking forward to a lot of good stuff from this guy! 

1. What comes to mind when you hear, "Mourning Goats?"

I think of Fainting Goats, but instead of falling over, these goats get intensely, stoically sad when there’s a loud noise. 

2. You just got back from AWP, right? How was it? Meet any of your favorites while you were there?

It was pretty cool. It’s an interesting experience. Overall, it’s a bit of a boat show for MFA writing programs, but the ancillary things happening there, readings, hangouts, etc, is what made it fun for me. A lot of people seemed to be there to sell books (myself included) but there was a heavy bias towards writers, not readers. I think I’d like to give bookfairs a shot one day to see the different crowds. I got to network though, and met a lot of writers I’d only known online. My favorite thing was seeing people walk up to each other and meeting face to face for the first time. It’s a weird social thing that hasn’t truly existed prior to facebook.

3. What's it been like working with Perfect Edge Books?

Wonderful! They’re very transparent with their operation, and the whats and whens that they expect from you. I’ve heard stories from other authors lamenting that they don’t know when their book is coming out, or waiting on some mysterious round of edits or meetings, but Perfect Edge is very upfront. You know what’s needed and when, and it happens. I’ve also been pleased at the amount of input I’ve gotten in the overall process. I’ve seen other horror stories of authors getting saddled with horrible covers or jacket copy, which might mean less in the age of the eBook. Still, I feel there’s something about a book cover with “curb appeal” that could end up swaying a few people to read and share.

4. Give us a quick summary of the book, did I hear Satan isn't such a bad guy?

Angel Falls works on the premise that every religion that has existed throughout creation is true and accurate. And much like businesses in a capitalist society, some corporations thrive while others die. Lucifer is currently charged with mergers and acquisitions by the current head honcho, condemned to hell to unify all of the world’s  dead and dying religions while tormenting the souls of the damned. Thing is, he’s lazy, and not all that into cruelty. He’s allowed Hell to become a melting pot, a theme park of different cultures and beliefs, where people can spend eternity doing whatever they want. An old god awakens and finds a loophole that will grant him access to Heaven, where he plans an assassination attempt that will allow him to assume the throne. It’s up to Lucifer (with some help from a knuckle-headed Philistine, a surly waitress, and a Monkey) to do the one thing he never dreamed: save God’s life.

5. Where did the name of your site stem from, monkeywright.com?

When I was working on my playwriting MFA, several of us decided that we should have softball jerseys for a non-existent team of the playwriting department. We chose nicknames for each other. Mine stemmed from a playwriting exercise earlier in the semester where I’d envisioned a scene involving a variety show, monkey, and a condom. So I suppose I’m lucky I’m not Condomwright. I’ve always been pretty obsessed with monkeys because they’re awesome.

6. Do you have a writing schedule or just write when the mood hits?

I fight tooth and nail to maintain a writing schedule, but I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like. I should say, I’m not at the keyboard as often as I’d like. My mind never stops writing. Whether I’m jogging, driving, watching a movie, in a conversation, chances are my mind is somewhere else, moving characters around like chess pieces.

7. Can you tell us about Thunder Dome Magazine? What is it? What do you do there?

ThunderDome is a lit mag I started a few years back because the internet was severely lacking in lit mags and places for authors to publish. Is there a font for sarcasm? I’m the editor, the webmaster, the slushpile reader, the… everything, I guess. It started as a lark, sort of, just a place to really get stories going for writers I knew, and it’s grown into a much bigger thing. I subtitled the venture as A Writer’s Collective, because I like to publish multiple pieces from authors. If you publish on the Dome, you’re part of a family, so you’ll always have a place to hang your hat. Beyond short stories and poems, we’ve done multiple-week runs with authors unveiling segments of novels in progress, full novellas, chapters, interviews, whatever we can do to help further the creative process. We released our first print collection a little over a year ago, and we have two more coming this year. (shout out to the irrepressible Amanda Gowin for being my fearless co-editor on this next book).  We’re also working with authors to release short story collections, but it’s a small, slow operation.

8. It looks like you're a web production designer as well as an author, what does that entail?

That job is (mercifully) coming to an end soon. It wasn’t bad work. I essentially started doing graphics work for a company that was like a 1-800-Dentists for plastic surgeons. This meant I spent eight hours a day looking at before and after pictures of boob jobs, which isn’t nearly as entertaining as it sounds. It’s given me a pretty good eye for spotting fake boobs though, which is the most useless super power a hero can have.

9. Your novel, Angel Falls, came out on March 16th, how're sales going? Did I read you sold out for a bit?

I did! It was pretty exciting to click over to Amazon and see that they were out of stock. It’s happened a couple of times over the past week or so. It would be fun to imagine that there are thousands of copies flying through their warehouses, but I know that’s not the case. Still, movement is movement. Hopefully some of those people will remember to come back and toss a few stars my way.

10. I saw you're a writer for ManArchy Magazine, too. What's the story with that?

I joined the ManArchy crew when the magazine relaunched under the guidance of Pela Via. It’s been a kick in the Pants, getting to unleash some of my crazier thoughts. ManArchy has gone through this crazy identity not-quite-crisis while we figure out what it’s all about. A men’s interest magazine that’s not run by men, but appeals to readers and geeks instead of douchebag frat guys. Mostly I let my inner crank out to complain about TV and sports, and this reminds me I need to get back there and complain about a few more things. My last article, defending Women’s MMA, was pretty well-received in the fight community and got passed around by a few fighters and even the president of Invicta Fighting Championships (an all-female organization)!

11. It looks like you put out In Search of a City: Los Angeles in 1,000 Words, through CreateSpace, do you recommend it?

I liked the experience of using CreateSpace (and missed the step where I could list the book under ThunderDome Press). If you are a decent editor and know your way around basic design and layout, there’s no easier way to publish a book and get it out there. The next collections from TD might go a different route for printers. Small presses always have to balance cost and turnaround times. One thing that’s nice about CreateSpace is the removal of minimum print runs. Rather than having to order 100 or 1,000 books to make your book a reality, it’s entirely print-on-demand, so anyone with a few bucks can get their vision out there (for better or for worse).

12. How did you end up in LA from Cheyenne, Wyoming?

I was an Air Force brat and Cheyenne was my dad’s last station. I went to college at the University of Wyoming where I quickly attempted to set a record for changing majors (music performance to music education to small business management to theatre). I caught the writing bug late in my college career, but UW didn’t have a playwriting program at the time. Hunting down grad schools, I ended up at Southern Illinois University, home of the Salukis and binge drinking Halloween riots. I decided to go for broke after graduating. Scriptwriters need to live in LA (even in this modern telecommuting age) so I made the jump… and started writing prose upon my arrival. I’ve produced a few novels since then, Angel Falls being the first to achieve publication, but I haven’t given up on scriptwriting yet.

13. Have you been doing any readings for Angel Falls, yet? How do you like giving readings?

I had my first reading in Boston at AWP, but read from a different novel I’m working on. I felt like there was a time crunch element in Boston, so I wouldn’t have time to set up the excerpt the way I’d need to for the crowd to really “get” Angel Falls. I have some more readings coming up though, where Satan will have his say. I had to do plenty of public speaking during my time as an actor/playwright, so it’s not a big deal. I was a bit rusty in Boston I think. If I had to give a reader any advice it would be to slow down. You’re always speaking faster than you think you are. Or maybe it’s just me. No, it’s you too.

14. You're a playwright, too! What do you like/dislike about writing plays that you don't do in novels?

What I love about plays is the purity of dialogue. There’s no place for description or flowery prose when you write for the stage. Anything you want conveyed has to come through the mouth of a character. I’ve always hated flowery, over-descriptive prose in books. I don’t like passages that get bogged down on physical description unless it’s absolutely necessary, and most of the time it’s not. People should have an image in their mind of your character based on what they do and say, and aquiline noses and almond-shaped eyes rarely factor into that equation. That said, I think I can get too caught up in snappy dialogue exchanges, which get tricky to follow in a novel if you have multiple characters bantering. I’m always working to find that balance.

15. In one interview, you said that the main theme of your new book about Lucifer is Love. Do you think this is at the base of all books? Stories?

I do. It’s the best piece of advice I got from my undergrad playwriting teacher (William Missouri Downs. Look him up, learn from him, love him!). Every story is about love. Silence of the Lambs, Mein Kampf, Moulin Rouge, The Notebook, Titanic, Army of Darkness… all of these are driven in some way shape or form by love. It’s like that old saying that love and hate are two sides of the same coin. The opposite of love would really be indifference, and nobody wants to read a story about characters who have no real feelings about each other, except for Jonathan Franzen, I guess. What does your protagonist want? What stands in his way? Why does he need it NOW? All good questions to ask yourself as you write your story, and the answer always comes back to love if you dig deep enough.

16. Do you think being a photographer also helps you as a writer?

It does. Most of the time when I’m taking pictures, there’s something I’ve caught that sparks an idea or a fragment of a story in my head. Being married to a photographer, has helped me learn a lot about composition and shot selection. Your subject is only part of the story. The way you choose to shoot it says even more. Plus, photographers end up in some of the weirdest places. We took a workshop in Poland with ace photographer Gokhan Cukurova that had us breaking and entering into abandoned castles, rolling around in burned out fields, chasing nuns down the street, dodging buses… photographers are the honey badgers of life, I think. You have to be intensely aware of everything as you take a photo. Background, focus, angles, motion. As a writer, it’s the same thing. Your chapter is two people talking at a table in a restaurant, but what’s happening around them? Where did they come from? Organized chaos, all of it. Really, I think all writers studying at the college level should make a point of taking playwriting, acting, and photography classes, because they will only help sharpen the tools you use every day.

17. Speaking of photography, I've never heard of cowbird, what do you use it for? It's not just photos, right?

It’s a blogging site that I became aware of through Monica Drake. I’ve neglected it a bit, but I need to get back there. Mostly it’s a life chronicle type of site. You take a photo and post it, then add a story, be it about that photo or something else. You can also add ambient sounds under the photos. I realize this sounds like every other blog site out there, but there are ways to connect with other cowbird writers, share stories, mark stories as inspirations, etc. It’s more of a communal writing experience. It was in invite-only beta phase for a while, but maybe it’s open to the public now (checks…) ah! It’s open to the public now with paid and free options.

18. At AWP did you read any new authors, or are you currently reading any new authors you want to share with the audience?

I’m reading Craig Wallwork’s The Sound of Loneliness and Eddy Rathke’s Ash Cinema at the moment. I’m a painfully slow reader and I wish I could go through stories a lot faster. I heartily recommend both of these gents (also see Craig’s short story collection Quintessence of Dust).

19. Angel Falls is actually your 3rd book, what's going on with the first two? And you're currently working on two more? 

My first novel is, well, a first novel. It’s a decent story, and I may polish it up and try to submit it somewhere. It deals with Urban Mythology as well, some of it got absorbed into Angel Falls. My second novel, Hello, Darkness, is a crazy revenge story about a mutilated woman with no legs who goes on a drug-fueled rampage, seeking revenge on a list of ten people (I know, THAT old tale).My next two novels in the works are a near-future story set in an alternate Los Angeles and a tale of a young writer stuck in corporate drudgery who finds a way to break free and ignite a city-wide revolution of underpaid office drones. And after THAT, I plan to go back to the world of Angel Falls. My ultimate goal there is to have a tale spanning five books (three main novels and two related short story collections).  I’m also kicking around a few short film ideas to shoot with some friends, and continuing on the pitch journey for a TV show my friend and I cooked up a while back. Shoot for the moon, if you miss, you’ll still end up in the stars. Starved of oxygen and frozen, with your internal organs imploded and your mind wondering how the hell you wound up in outer space, but still, for those last few moments? Stars!

20. What's next for Michael Gonzalez?

If you find out, let me know. I need to know what to wear.

Thank you!

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Monday, April 8, 2013

#53 Gary Vaynerchuk

*Interview below is transcribed from audio.

Welcome to the first LIVE, 20 Questions with Mourning Goats! Today we have Gary Vaynerchuk, for interview number 53! Let's dive right in with the question we start every interview with!

1. What comes to mind when you hear, "Mourning Goats?"

Ya know what’s so weird, the wine world comes to mind. You know I grew up in the wine business. And for some reason, I don’t know if that’s a former wine name or how I think about certain places in Burgundy or France that I’ve visited. But, for some reason when you ask me that question, the wine world comes to mind.

2. You're on the cusp of a million followers on Twitter, what's the plan when you break a million?

I cannot believe you just asked me that. Literally, no joke, literally, today was one of the first days I’ve thought about it in a long time and I decided that I would do absolutely nothing. I don’t want people to think that the overall number means anything. I’m a big believer in engagement and how many followers really care, not how many you have on the list. I’m going to make sure I don’t do anything about it.

3. Your next book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook comes out October 15th. You have one sentence to sell it, what do you say? 

That’s a great question. I have one sentence to sell it. One sentence. I would say, “I’ve actually built businesses using social media, so I deserve your twenty bucks.”

4. You did a 5-hour Q&A at South by Southwest, what was the coolest thing you learned from it? 

It reminded me that my thesis is right. Which is, even though I could have given a 4,000 person keynote, like I have in the past, the 250 people that I was able to engage with one-by-one, created more content and built deeper relationships with me than I could of with 4,000 and so, once again, back to the last question, it’s not quantity it’s quality.

5. I heard you have some unique flooring upstairs at the wine library, tell me about that. 

Yeah, so in the wine room at wine library, we have stone that actually comes from Burgundy and has purple in it. Because the grapes kept falling to the ground and seeped into the ground and through hundreds of years of grapes hitting the ground and that purple, it affected the stone and the limestone and things of that nature. It’s pretty exceptional flooring.

6. I saw your Piers Morgan interview and one of the things I loved, you said that "grandparents are more equipped to run business today, than we are," do you believe that the small mom & pop shops still have a chance with competition like Amazon, Wal-Mart, and stuff like that, if they embrace your "Thank You Economy?"

I think yes, to a degree. I actually think that it would take a little more umph, because size does matter. But I think the mentality of small-town business applied to businesses that have umph, are the ones that are going to win. So, in a battle between Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Oracle -at that scale- I think the one that most embraces Grandparent DNA, small town rules, and The Thank You Economy, wins. And then at every level, I think whoever does it best, wins. At the small-business level, I don’t necessarily think a small electronics store, just using The Thank You Economy, can necessarily beat Amazon.

7. What was the bet with Myles and Cole Lazerow?

They’re the sons of a very good friend of mine, Mike Lazerow, the founder of Buddy Media. One day I was over at their house and they were wearing Patriot and Giant’s gear and I told them that I wanted them to be Jets fans. And they said, “sure,” because they’re younger, “if you pay us.” And, basically through a series of videos and tweets and different things we got into a huge negotiation which continued very recently. I was vacationing in Turks and Caicos with my family and the Lazerow’s were down there as well and I saw them again and we continued our conversations and negotiations. So, ya know, part of my quest to turn every single kid in the world into a Jets fan.

8. I also saw, Michael Lazerow had a column about why weirdos outperform normals. As a weirdo, myself. Do you agree with that thought process? 

Yeah, I mean, I think there are many ways to skin the cat. I definitely think that people that draw outside the lines have a competitive advantage in a creative world if they put themselves in a position to let their creativity drive their success. So, under the context of creativity in entrepreneurship, and taking risks, and all those things, they certainly do. If a creative person and a weirdo, tries to be a lawyer or a teacher or a doctor, I would say no. So, it’s about putting yourself in the best position to win.

9. I’ve heard of like, 2-book deals, 3-book deals, but you did a 10 book deal? I've never even heard of something like that. How'd it come about? 

Ya know, I gave a talk at web 2.0 2008, it caught fire, it hit a lot of people’s nerves, it was a very big talk for me and a lot of publishers wanted me to write a book about what I said on stage, which became Crush It. It was pretty insane. There was a lot of competition and I’m a good negotiator and business man. I was able to strike a ten book deal with Harper Collins.

10. You're the keynote speaker at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show on April 19th, how the hell did you get involved in something like that?

I think that it comes down to a lot of times in the industries, they want to be a little more progressive and have a wake-up call. Because every industry is being affected by technology and the change of the way that information is consumed. And, I think that I’m one of the few characters out there that has enough practicality about business, while still delivering a rousing and emotional speech that is going to actually make some of the people take action and realize that advertizing in kitchen and bath magazine just doesn’t get you as much as it used to.  And so, I think that’s why they had interest.

11. I read in "The Thank You Economy" that you have no vacation policy for your employees at VaynerMedia, how does that work out? 

Ya know, actually it hasn’t worked out as well as I wanted it to. Meaning, I want to give my employees the freedom to take breaks when they need them. Some people need one day a year and some need a thousand days a year. And so, when I say it hasn’t worked out as well as I had hoped. I feel like some people abuse it and some people don’t take advantage of it enough. It's been an interesting learning experience for me. I thought I was doing something really well for everybody, and I’m wondering if that’s true. I’m still figuring it out. I do like the fact that as more years go by, people trust it more and then do take the time. But, I also preach hustle and work-ethic and hard work, so ya know, it’s a blend of those things always. And so, I think that it’s a work in progress. I do want to find the right balance of work-life and personal-life for myself and for everybody that works for me. 

12. Yesterday (April 2nd), a professor at Virginia Tech requested you to visit his wine class, do things like that happen often? How often can you actually facilitate? 

They happen often in lesser pizzazz than the way Tech’s done it. You can’t do it all the time, you want to, I definitely want to, but you can’t. If you go on YouTube, you’ll find the one they did the first time, and I did go there and it worked. I have a lot of heart for Virginia Tech, so I might have to do it again.

13. I love the newest Vaynerism about "the regret factor" and worrying about the past ten years instead of the next ten. Is there anything you regret, business-wise, about the past 10 years? 

Not really. Because, probably another manifesto of mine is not to really regret. Ya know, I’m so happy, everybody is healthy. I can’t regret anything, I’m just in such a good place why in the world would I regret. I’m sure there’s been plenty of things that I’ve made decisions on that haven’t allowed me to make as much money or as much upside or as much growth as I’d want. But, at the same token, I’m a very simple man. I actually do think things like, "Well yes, I could have done that and made a $100 million dollars but that would have made me go to this business trip in Texas and maybe I would have got hit by a car, right?" And so, I really do think that way, and so, I never regret.

14. I'm a big believer in visualizing success; listening to you talk, it sounds like you're the same, especially with owning the Jets, do you think that having that clear vision of where you're going and what you're going to achieve is a choice or a goal?

That’s a great question, do I think it’s a choice or a goal? I can’t speak for everybody, I’ll tell you why I do it. I love the process so much. I love the climb. To me, the climb of success is everything. And so, when you create a goal that’s so big of a climb you can always be playing it. I didn’t want to achieve something that I could of achieved in my 20’s or 30’s, right? And so, it’s just always been in me, it’s something that I’ve always wanted. To me, I feel like it’s almost picked me as much as I’ve picked it.

15. Mike Dilorenza, formerly of the NHL, told your friend Chris Dessi (of SilverbackSocial Media) that he could beat you at floor hockey. What says you? 

Mike Dilorenza told Chris Dessi what? That he could beat me in floor hockey? Bubble hockey or floor hockey? Floor hockey, I don’t know, cause floor hockey you have to play 5 on 5, it’s real hockey. I’m great at floor hockey, I had two championship caliber floor hockey teams in high school. So, I’d have to disagree with Dilorenza.

16. I think you're one of the first honest entrepreneurs out there. You said in an interview that there is no such thing as a life/work balance. What about on the large scale? Won't working hard now give you freedom in the future? 

It does, but I also think that working hard is a trait and some people don’t. Ya know, honestly, I have my balance. I make my decisions. I’m making choices every day to either work and travel or to stay home with my kids. Right, so, ya know, maybe, I think, back to the honesty, I think it’s far more likely that I’m just gonna burn out and get tired of working more so than fall out of love with it. I’m in love with working. I’m in love with the hustle and the grind. I’m also massively in love with my kids and as they start getting older and having more of a personality they’re driving me to a place that I want to spend even more time with them. And so, it evolves. I feel like I’m working harder than ever, but I’m also spending more time with my family than ever. So, I’m clearly doing something right, and you keep on working on that, ya know?

17. Alright, four more to go! In researching for this interview, I found VaynerMedia's website. What's the reasoning behind only having the name, address, and jobs you're hiring for? 

That’s a great question. The reason that I think an agency needs to work is to get new clients and to get new employees. We have no issues getting either. And so, it doesn’t feel like a place where I really need to put a lot of effort. I think everything should have a reason for doing it and we don’t have a real reason to have a website that’s really robust.

18. The goat has a book of author interviews coming out in next month (May 31st, 2013), called Chewing the Page: The Mourning Goats Interviews, as a New York Times best-seller, what advice do you have for someone putting out a book these days? 

Oh, that’s awesome. Congratulations! My advice is to build the audience before the book comes out.  Right? And so, if you want to reach the most people with your book, have an audience ready for it instead of starting to promote and sell it once it comes out. And so, to me, it’s write the best book you possibly have in you and then put the most work into building a community, long before the book ever comes out.

19. Here’s a hard one. Gun to your head, someone says, "You can own the Jets, but you have to burn the Jets sweater your mom made you. What do you do?

I have to burn it? I would burn the sweater. Because, my mom would be happy that I achieved that goal. I would pick up the ashes and put them in a jar.

20. Finally, what’s next for Gary Vee?

Ya know, that’s something I’m never good at answering. Because I really don’t know. I’m a very reactionary entrepreneur and human-being. Right now, I’m extremely focused on building VaynerMedia and that’s what I’m focused on. And, I’m sure there’ll be something next, it’s just how I roll. But for now, I’m quite content on operating and putting my head down and that’s what I’m doing.

Fantastic, hey, Gary, thank you very much for the interview.

Thanks, brother.

And, can’t wait to see what you do.

Thanks man, I’ll see you soon. 

Check out more from Gary at any and all of the following links!

Gary Vaynerchuk is a talented entrepreneur, a self-trained social media expert, and a best-selling author. With close to 1 million followers on Twitter, Gary is recognized internationally as one of the top people every entrepreneur should follow and a social media trailblazer. He’s received substantial attention from the media including guest appearances on Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Ellen. Gary’s ultimate goal is to own the New York Jets. Although his various businesses obviously play an enormous role in his life, he always puts his family first.

And finally, "like" us on Facebook to keep up to date with all the Goat news and interviews, including the book coming out in May, Chewing the Page: The Mourning Goats Interviews


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

#52 Erika Napoletano

Erika Napoletano is a snarky speaker, strategist, author, and columnist, hailed by Forbes as a “spinless spin doctor” for her BS-free perspectives on business, marketing, branding, and life in general. She's a twice-published author, including The Power of Unpopular (Wiley 2012), a columnist for both Entrepreneur Magazine and OPEN Forum, an acclaimed speaker from TEDx Boulder2012, and speaks at conferences across the U.S. on the inherent power of truth in business… or as she refers to it, the power of unpopularity. She lives in Boulder, Colorado and is the Head Redhead at RHW Media, a brand strategy firm that helps businesses get UNstuck and over those annoying problems that keep them from being awesome. Learn more about her at www.erikanapoletano.com.

1. What comes to mind when you hear, "Mourning Goats?"

Well, by the sound of it, I imagine some well-groomed goats frolicking in a field of flowers between the hours of 8:30 and 10AM. It's a happy thought, not one that goes with your chosen spelling of the first word.

2. You're a little bit different of a writer than my normal interviews, how would you describe yourself to my readers?

Well, someone recently described me as a cross between Lisa Lampanelli, Tina Fey, and Rachel Maddow. I kinda like it.

3. Your language could be described as brash, especially in the business world in which you operate. How do you justify your language...should you have to?

I don't justify it. Love me, hate me, just don't be indifferent. I love hearing from people that they were at first kinda turned off by my chosen vernacular but they sat back and read or listened...and now they're fans for life.

4. Does that language ever get you into trouble?

I have a simple rule: if you don't like the language I use, don't read my blog and don't hire me. Can I dial it back? OF COURSE! And I do quite frequently, especially for speaking engagements. My use of what some people would call naughty words doesn't diminish whatever message I'm sharing. So I'd say no, my potty mouth doesn't get me into trouble. The day it starts being more important than the message I'm sharing for the audience I'm trying to share it with? That's when I might need to have a look. For example -- I recently spoke at a conference with 1200 people. They received four complaints about my potty mouth. Statistically, that's 0.3% -- less than one percent. I don't know about you, but I'll take 0.3% of the people in any room not picking up what I'm putting down every day of every year.

5. You just had a book come out last year called, The Power of Unpopular, what's it about, why should we buy it?

Well, you should buy it if you're sick of shitty business books that are going to be outdated in 6 months. It's a guide to building a brand, a community around that brand, and the things we need to do to take care of that community. It's not a social media book. It's not one of those books with crappy worksheets at the end of each chapter. What it DOES have is a fantastic array of case studies, all of privately-owned businesses from a wide variety of industries, who are using the principles in the book to make their businesses successful and their audiences appreciative.

6. What's your writing process like? Do you have a spot, time, every day, when it hits you, what?

I'm a vomit writer. That means when I get an idea, I vomit it on the page, give it a once-over, and hit publish. It's kind of odd -- I rarely remember what I write unless I go back and re-read it later in the day!

7. I love your sleeve! What does it entail and what does it mean to you?

Well, it entails about 16 hours of work over a year, from November 2010 to November 2011. The sleeve depicts the journey from fear to strength to wisdom, and demonstrates that it's a cycle and not a one-time-process. I fucking love it.

8. What's the deal with hedgehogs?

They're cute and often look like hairbrushes. What's not to love?

9. You've done a lot of appearances, but what was it like doing the TEDx event in Boulder, last year? Craziness?

Doing TEDxBoulder was the single most transformative event of my professional career. In two months, I went from not knowing what the hell I was going to talk about to giving the talk of a lifetime with a standing ovation from 1200 people. How's that for a process? It also completely changed the way I do speaking events and prepare for them -- I owe the change in that process to Erin Weed, the speaking coach I worked with during the 2 weeks prior to the event. She helped me face my truth which made me able to write and hone the talk that everyone saw that evening. And the best part of the whole thing was calling my mom on the way to the airport the next morning and telling her that her kid got a standing ovation. Fuck. Yeah.

10. Is social media what makes or breaks most marketing these days? Is it a necessity?

I think there's entirely too much talk about social media and not enough talk about WHY businesses do what they do and figuring out for WHOM they're doing it. The answer is never "to make money" or "I'm doing it for US" -- you have to find your WHY and WHO. And no, I don't think social media is a necessity. If you're in the semiconductor industry, your audience probably hangs out in different places online and you shouldn't be concerned with building a damned Facebook page.  Social is only a component of a marketing strategy -- and any successful strategy comes down to WHY, WHO, and then your business' special thing, the HOW. Social media won't make up for a poorly-focused marketing strategy. In fact, it can probably kill it before it ever has the chance to succeed.

11. Do you ever take any time off? It seems like you're always working!

I take weekends off. I also take small vacations and am planning a bigger vacation later this year to Nepal to do a trek to Everest Base Camp. I work to live, not the other way around! Oddly enough, when I lived to work, I wasn't really doing any living at all.

12. I love how much respect you have, and demand from, your followers on facebook. I don't really have a question for this one, just really appreciate it, where did it come from? Most people would just let everyone say whatever they want, but you demand more from your folks.

Well, I'm not in a place to demand anything from my audience. I think they demand more of me. The Facebook community has grown into something of its own -- it's not the blog audience, it's not Twitter. It's just a kickass group of people who want to be inspired and who in turn, inspire me. Every day, I'm amazed at where this page has come to in just a few short years. Facebook's changes be damned, we're all still here and kicking!

13. A lot of the readers here are writers themselves, what's the number one piece of advice you'd give writers on branding themselves for success?

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken!

14. What's the most important part of pitching an idea?

Every pitch should have an emotional appeal to your desired audience. If you can't demonstrate (show, don't tell) why anyone should care about what you're offering, they won't.

15. Your "Buy Me Coffee" session sounds badass, can you tell the readers what they entail and why they would consider it?

It IS badass! It's a one-hour, high-octane, one-on-one session with me to help people get UNstuck. Bring your challenges and questions and the entire hour is about you, your business, and your life. At the end, I offer to-dos, potential introductions where appropriate, and other tips, trick, and resources to get folks from where they are to F#%K YEAH. My clients have ranged from CEOs of multi-million dollar companies to emerging entrepreneurs. Not a single one of them is the same!

16. I see that both of your books are on kindle. What are your thoughts on the e-book revolution?

I love that readers can devour my books in nearly any format they like. I read books in both physical and digital formats. I do think that publishers need to get up to speed with eBook royalty rates and marketing so they're in line with the changing way people consume content. Authors should be paid comparable royalty rates for digital sales and physical book sales. More, even, because there are no printing, shipping, or inventory costs for digital editions. There are fabulous publishers out there doing great things with enhanced eBooks with embedded digital-only content that I'm loving. I would love to see the value-adds continue along this trend. If I can do it for a downloadable eBook I offer, why can't publishers?

17. If you could sum up your own brand, would it be GSD? I feel like the simplicity of it is the brilliance.

My brand is unpopular thoughts and blunt advice -- delivered. No one ever got anything awesome in life from being polite. They did, however, make epic shit happen because they and the people who surround them were honest and respectful. Don't like it? Don't read my stuff or hire me. I want my life filled with people who want to make epic shit happen.

18. Is it really as bad as it sounds to be a redhead?

Aside from the fact that we molt instead of tan in the summers, I think being a redhead is pretty badass.

19. What's been the most exciting part of your career thus far?

Realizing that it can become anything I want it to become. Yeah -- that. I'm the only thing standing in my way every day and learning to get the hell out of my own way? That was a damn valuable lesson learned.

20. What's next for Erika Napoletano and Redhead Writing?

Well, come hang out with us! New things are coming along every week, but there's some exciting stuff in the works. If I told you now some of the ideas, maybe you wouldn't come back. Better to let you get to know them on your terms instead of me telling you about them, dontacha think?

Also, check out her TedX talk, here!

Thank you!

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