Author Interview with Jason Arias

Writing was my outlet for all the things I saw at work, all the things I had neglected in my head throughout my life, all the emotions I’d pushed down because I didn’t want (or know how) to deal with them. Writing became my therapist.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

  1. I wrote some when I was a kid and teenager. My wife and I started a family early and married when we were twenty. For the next fifteen years I wrote very little. It was about working, putting food on the table, and spending time as a family. Once I established a job as a paramedic I was so sick of reading technical books that I developed a deep hunger for fiction. I wouldn’t call it a problem, but definitely an addiction. I read a lot trying to make up for lost time.

In my thirties I attended one of Chuck Palahniuk’s book launches. Lidia Yuknavitch was his guest reader. I read her book The Chronology of Water. That memoir blew me my face off. The way the tragic coupled with the humorous. The heart left on those pages. A year or two later I realized Lidia was teaching fiction classes at my local community college. With the kids getting to that age where dad (I) was way less than cool to hang with, I found I had a little extra time. The first class turned into a second. The end of the second class rolled into a weekly writing critique group for the next couple of years with some of my peers.

Writing was my outlet for all the things I saw at work, all the things I had neglected in my head throughout my life, all the emotions I’d pushed down because I didn’t want (or know how) to deal with them. Writing became my therapist. The cheapest and most fulfilling therapy I’ve ever had. I told Lidia that one day during my mid-terms conference and she didn’t laugh. She just nodded. I can, without question, point to that first fiction class with Lidia Yuknavitch as the catalyst for everything I’ve published since.

What inspired you to write your book?

It’s really just a product of continually upping the ante. The first goal was just to get a story published. Anywhere. Then to get five published. Then to get one hundred rejections. After creating and reworking a story every week or two for a number of years I had somewhere around thirty stories published in different places and a bunch of unpublished pieces. At that point I felt like I’d stopped moving forward and was moving in circles. That’s the story I tell myself.

The real story is that my writer-ly friends kept asking, “So when are you going to write a book?” And after some self-evaluation, I realized that I kind of already had.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Definitely the themes written on the back jacket are in there (life and death, identity and race, change and resistance to change). There are also themes that question presuppositions about family and masculinity and decision making. But hopefully readers get more out of it than I even realize I’ve put into it. And I hope they get a hold of me and tell me what they find.

I use writing as a way of sorting out what’s confounding about myself or the world or a specific idea. In a sense these stories are writing themselves while I’m trying to pull pieces of answers out of them to build a more comprehensive picture. I’m hungry for these pieces. Every time someone tells me what they’ve gotten from a story they’re given me another piece. It’s like we’re filling in this puzzle together. A puzzle with no box picture. No edge pieces.

I guess what I’m saying is that I know what these stories mean to me, but I’m more interested in hearing what somebody else sees in them. I’m so much more interested in my blind spots.

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What drew you into this particular genre?

Part of what’s always drawn me to short stories is their conciseness. Everybody has time for a short story. There’s an economy to them. Every word is essential. There’s this close, tight world that you can explore these big ideas through. Short stories are sneaky like that.

Also, some of my favorite authors have great works in the genre. People like Junot Diaz, Amy Hempel, Larry Brown, Joy Williams, Scott McClanahan, Elizabeth Ellen, Roxane Gay, Denis Johnson, Mary Gaitskill, Ray Donald Pollock, Lorrie Moore, and so many more. To be able to feel or invoke such emotion from so few pages is like a magic trick. BTW if you haven’t already read Friday Black and Heads of Colored People seek them out. These collections are bringing short story to the cultural foreground.   

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would ask Lacey from Inner Workings what she ever saw in Uncle Timmy. Because, really, she’s better than that.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

As much as it pains me, I’d probably have to say Facebook has been the most connecting social media to my readership up to this point. I can link people to my blog, places to buy the book, and promote upcoming readings the easiest there. But to be honest I’m not a great social media user. I don’t get it like my kids do. I’m a little afraid of it. And probably for these reasons, even though I’ve gotten the best results from Facebook, vs. Instagram or Twitter, they’re still not good.

I was just talking to a fellow author and friend at Indies First and he was saying how the best way for indie authors to find their audience is still face-to-face, at readings and bookstores. The downside is that it’s on an individual basis and amounts to small handfuls at a time. It’s a grind and, unless you travel a lot, it’s largely regional. But it’s a start. Unless you’re getting major media or large publishing house help the personal gigs might get you the most loyal bang for your buck.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Read. A lot. Write. A lot. Read more than you write, and write a ton. While you’re doing that, have people that know more than you be honest with you about your writing. And understand that they’re not doing it to hurt you. Unless they are. Either way you’ll learn where you need improvement. Be thankful for them.

Find a way to love the editing process. Millionaires on Mtv’s Cribs always used to say, “This is where the magic happens,” and then open the door to their bedroom. For us writers the magic happens on the cutting room floor. Start butchering. Maybe leave a little fat for flavor. Foreplay for a well-honed piece is the Backspace button.

Once you’ve finished the feedback loop of cut up, dressed up and re-critique then send that baby out into the big bad world. While it’s out keep honing other pieces. Know that your words, experiences, and perspective matter but they might take a while to find a home. It’s really just about making the right match. Anybody on dating sites probably already knows that can take some time.

Finally, if you have the chance to take a workshop or class with an author you really respect, do it. It could prove to be an invaluable experience.

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What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’ll keep promoting Momentary Illuminations of Objects In Motion to try to give it the best shot possible, but I’m always writing new pieces. I’m always sending shorter stuff out. I’m also currently researching and plotting for my first novel. It takes place in the early to mid-1900s in a West Coast resort town that ended up slowly falling into the ocean.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Arias’ stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Momentary Illumination of Objects In Motion is his first short story collection. 

He has worked as a hospital patient food courier, charter bus after-event cleaner, DMV records consolidator, lithography product deliveryman, one-hour photo developer, cashier, vinyl windows warehouse worker, UPS loader, EMT, paramedic, firefighter, LYFT driver, specimen collector, and sometimes a writer. 

Author’s Website: http://jasonariasauthor.com/

Author’s Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/jasonariasauthor/ 

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The Stigma Around Therapy and Why It Shouldn’t Exist

I am honored to be working with BetterHelp on this article.

One of the most difficult things that anyone suffering from mental health ailments or anyone wanting to take control of their mental health struggles has to deal with is the social stigma that has taken over our society for years. Much like the societal stigma that has been placed on sexual and gender identity over the decades, a person’s mental health journey has been marred by the constant ridicule and ignorance of others who believe seeking help for your mental health is nothing more than a sign of weakness.

Breaking this ignorance can be difficult. Many families and individuals have spent their entire lives being taught that certain things are “wrong”. Even those who grow and learn to see past the stigma of certain things will still find themselves ignorant of things they say or do. For instance, I have known people in both my own life and outside on social media who are great people, but still use terms like “crazy” to describe a person, or even using actual ailments to describe a person negatively, like someone saying a person is “bipolar” and indicating that anyone with the ailment is painted in the same negative light.

These societal stigmas can be incredibly difficult to ignore or overcome. When you have the whole world telling you there is something wrong with you when in reality you are just a human being who needs a little help, it can be hard to make the effort to seek out a therapist or consider therapy in general. The thing we as a society need to do is break the social stigma around mental health and seeking therapy in general. 

First of all, seeking out a therapist or asking for help with your mental health does not mean you are “crazy”. I personally don’t believe that term is accurate, as it brings a negative light to something that everyone should be a part of. The mind is a muscle, and a part of the human body. It needs to be looked after and taken care of just as much as the rest of your body, and seeking a doctor or therapist to help in that regard is nothing to be ashamed of.

Secondly, therapy and seeking out a therapist in general does not make you an outsider, nor should it make you feel ashamed or like there is something “wrong” with you. The stigma around mental health has led to severe consequences, with the loss of life due to some not seeking the help they need increasing and personal impacts on people’s relationships and work lives being affected as well. 

Mental health is a real thing, whether or not people want to believe it. Seeking help doesn’t not make you weak. In fact, getting help for your mental health is smart and the strongest thing you can do. Guys, it doesn’t make you less of a man to seek help and get in touch with your feelings. Women, never let men or anyone in your life make you feeling “crazy” just for finding a therapist and taking care of your own well being. Everyone in this world can benefit from seeking out therapy and getting the help they need. Ignore anyone who tells you differently, and take the steps to find the help you need today.

Learn more about how to find online therapy using BetterHelp at this link —> CLICK HERE (opens in a new tab)”>CLICK HERE

How Telehealth Can Transform The Mental Health Field

I am honored to be working with BetterHelp on this article.

For anyone such as myself who suffers from several physical disabilities or who don’t drive, one of the things that can be incredibly difficult is getting the right therapist and finding a way to get to them. Since I was sixteen years old I have suffered through several auto-immune diseases, and the pain gets so bad that I have a hard time going out into the world as often as I would like. 

The other thing that can be difficult is being subject to the therapists/doctors in your area or within driving distance, and not finding the right fit for you. Finding the right therapist is a crucial and important decision for anyone taking charge or getting help for their own mental health. From personal experience I can tell you that finding a therapist in your local area is not an easy thing. 

I have been with my sister when she goes to see a therapist for the first time, only to come away feeling frustrated, sad or angry because the therapist was rude, didn’t take her struggles seriously or dismissed her entirely. Between insurance and the local area we live in, there are very few choices for someone to find the right therapist to help you on your mental health journey. 

One of the things that can be a true help to those who struggle with issues like this in their mental health journey has to be telehealth/telemedicine. In this age of advanced technology and the internet bringing people together, one of the most innovative things to come to the health profession has to be online therapy. Rather than being forced to find a therapist in your local area or having to rearrange your schedule to include making trips out of the house (especially for those of us suffering from physical pain), online therapy is now available to those who can jump onto their computers or smartphones/tablets to connect with therapists via messaging, video calls or phone calls. 

The truly amazing thing about these services is that you have the ability to choose your therapist based on any mental ailments you may suffer from, as well as the therapists specific specialties (for instance, you can find therapists who deal with the LGBTQ community and the issues they face, or those suffering from family problems and more). In an era that has seen some truly devastating losses and the need for mental health care is far greater than ever before, having a therapist on hand to call or message with through the power of the internet is more helpful than ever. 

Choosing to find help for or taking control of your mental health is an important step that everyone should be taking. Whether you are suffering from a serious mental health illness or are having a difficult time with something personally or just want to maintain your health, therapy and working with the right doctor is crucial to your mental health journey. For me personally, having services like BetterHelp that allow me and my family to find therapists online that fit the journey we are on is important and helpful, and I highly encourage everyone to consider counseling and finding the councilor who will be the most help to you. 

Check out this link to learn more about finding the right councilor for you

CLICK HERE

Release Day Blitz: Grave Importance by Perfectly Poisoned Anthologies


Grave Importance
Published December 1, 2017 by Perfectly Poisoned Anthologies
Historical Fiction

Synopsis:

It’s 1870 in a rural setting on the outskirts of London. Famed surgeon Dr. Benedict Morrow hosts an elite few surgical trainees at the renowned Morrow Academy of Anatomy and Science.
Though the days of Burke and Hare are long gone, and body snatching and grave robbing a seemingly thing of the past, the supply of high-quality fresh cadavers is still lacking.
Each student of Dr. Morrow must procure a fresh corpse for their very own study, or face expulsion from the prestigious academy.

These hand-chosen students are the best and brightest in the country. They are also devious, conniving, and determined to do whatever they must to stay in the academy and under the tutelage of Dr. Morrow. Even turn against each other is necessary.
In the cards will be manipulation, murder, betrayal, sex, blackmail, and of course, money always talks.

ADVENTURES IN LIFE…AND DEATH
Natalie-Nicole Bates

Dr. Linnea Lyons has it all. She is beautiful, intelligent, witty, and charming. All the things a young woman needs to get her way in 1870.

Tasked with procuring a cadaver for her surgical studies, Linnea decides to use her womanly charms to get what she wants. A visit to the morgue when only the Deputy Coroner, Dr. Cyril Rhodes is on duty, she asks him to allow her to watch his embalming process.

Cyril is enthralled with the dark-haired beauty. After all, it is a rarity to meet a female doctor, let alone one studying the art of surgery.

Linnea senses the good doctor is a bit lonely and perhaps an easy mark to get what she wants.

But will her ambition ultimately be her downfall?

Social media links for Natalie-Nicole Bates
Amazon Author Central Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0071MP0DC

An Unlikely Union – Sheri Lynn

The first year Dr. Benedict Morrow at the renowned Morrow Academy of Anatomy and Science considers female students, Louisa Becker is honored to be chosen. An ocean away from everything she has ever known and thrust into a highly competitive, if not, demoralizing group of students is arduous. It intensifies once Dr. Morrow tasks them with procuring their own fresh corpse or face expulsion.

Residing in the home of a previous student of Dr. Morrow’s and his teaching assistant, she suspects Edgar Walker guards sinister secrets and she should fear him. Instead, she observes his skill and technique in class and respects him. Intrigued and attracted to the withdrawn, brooding man she watches him from a distance.

One evening following him into London, she witnesses him commit a grisly crime. Louisa and Edgar forge an unconventional relationship involving murder, seduction, lust, ambition, and mayhem.

Social Media Links for Sheri Lynn:

BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW –
Jennie L. Morris

An immigrant, Fredrick Wolf has to succeed at Morrow Academy of Anatomy and Science. Not only succeed, he has to prove to his peers that he belongs, that he isn’t a poor local Dr. Morrow accepted out of pity.

Fredrick is willing to do anything to procure a prime specimen for their special assignment. Calling upon his uncle, his partner in crime since their move to England, Fredrick plans to use his uncle’s position at the local gaol to select the perfect candidate.

But not all prisoners are the usual drunkards or petty thieves. Some possess dark secrets, especially the man known in Clayton Bridge as Eugene Wallaby. Biding his time, Eugene sees young Fredrick’s murderous plan as a means of escape, but only if Eugene can survive the night.

Social Media Links for Jennie L. Morris:


The Tangled Web
Leslie Hachtel

No one wants to be successful as a surgeon more than Scarlett Kensington and no one has as little conscience. She has met every challenge with skill and talent and by out-thinking her detractors. And when the great Dr. Morrow demands his students present a cadaver for class, whose body will it be?

Social Media Links for Leslie Hachtel
Twitter: @lesliehachtel
Website: lesliehachtel.com


Bring me to life
Lauren Tisdale

Enzo Mason is a hustler and a thief by nature. After stealing the most valuable thing he’s ever stolen, he thinks he’s finally on the path to making a good life for himself. His confidence is tested when Dr. Morrow reveals the newest challenge that will decide their fate in the surgical program – procure your own cadaver for study or be dismissed from the Academy. Will the help of a fellow classmate, who happens to be the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, be the one thing that helps him achieve his goals or will his luck run out?

Jacqueline Kennison is a stunning newcomer to the Morrow Academy of Anatomy and Science who has caught the eye of a fellow classmate, Enzo. Jacqueline is determined to see her master plan through, even if it means teaming up with Enzo. This choice leads to unforeseen dilemmas that she never expected. Will Enzo be the one to aid in her own self-destruction or will he surprise her by saving her from herself? 

Social Media Links for Lauren Tisdale:
@LTisdaleauthor on Twitter


Skeletons in the Closet
Marie Sterling
Doctor Elizabeth Chandler is top of her class at the Royal College of Surgeons of England and has the world in her hand… until it comes crashing down around her. With the sudden death of her beloved father and her mother’s convalescence due to a carriage accident, Elizabeth abandons everything to return to Clayton Bridge and help her family. Traditional medicine has failed to bring her mother back to consciousness, so when she hears of Doctor Benedict Morrow and some of the more unusual requirements of his Academy of Anatomy and Science, this seems like the answer to her prayers. Blackmail, deceit, and treachery are just a few of the lessons she will learn along with her surgical studies.

Social Media link for Marie Sterling:



I Want Your Body
J.V. Stanley

Miranda O’Reily has been struggling with her grades. In a profession where men are the superior sex, she has a lot to prove to not just her peers or Doctor Benedict Morrow, but to herself. Coming from an impoverished home, she was lucky to have an unknown benefactor paying for her college. The mystery unravels as she tries to identify who this mysterious wealthy individual is all while struggling to meet the intensity of the curriculum. 

Edward Thatcher, the last mortician she saw denied her a corpse because of her gender. Infuriated, she vowed to get a body by any means necessary, even if it meant murder.


Social Media Links for J.V. Stanley:
 Link to my group Horror Warriorshttps://www.facebook.com/groups/140403956607785/
A Word To The Wise Blog: https://writerzblock007.wordpress.com







Legal Reserves by James Rosenberg Review

Three friends who made it through law school and settled into their post-law school lives find themselves forced into a legal battle like no other in author James Rosenberg’s “Legal Reserves”.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Three friends who made it through law school and settled into their post-law school lives find themselves forced into a legal battle like no other in author James Rosenberg’s “Legal Reserves”. Here is the synopsis.

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The Synopsis

A significant trial looms.

The two lawyers and the judge all have major reasons to worry: Jeri Richards, a newbie judge, is presiding over her first trial concerned she is too inexperienced to handle it. Mike Reigert, the plaintiff’s attorney, must try his biggest case because his client refuses the department store’s huge settlement offers–just to make sure that what they did to her won’t ever happen to anyone else. The company’s attorney, Jack Rogers, is told that he must win this trial or face banishment from his law firm.

If that weren’t enough, the three of them have been best friends since their first day of law school.

Back then, they were the cream of their law school and thought their legal careers would involve nothing but success . . . . Now, they aren’t so sure.

Jeri adored her two friends in law school. They helped her overcome the trauma of almost being raped. After graduating, she prosecuted the scum that preyed on the weak and became the youngest judge in her county.

Mike was planning to work in Geneva stopping international terrorism, but his uncle convinced him to help in his small practice in a sleepy town outside of Pittsburgh. Mike itches for more responsibility and finally comes to represent a woman mercilessly chained to a table until she confessed to a crime.

Jack craves the big money he would make if he became a partner at his huge law firm, and is willing to do anything to make it happen.

Now five years after graduating from law school they are thrown back together on opposite sides of a trial where Mike’s client seeks to regain her life while Jack will not stop to make sure the company prevails.

Jeri watches as the battles between her two buddies escalate until she has to intervene to protect the life of one of her friends. 

The Review

This is the perfect read for anyone who enjoys a good legal thriller novel. The story does a marvelous job of blending the real life legal system and the intricacies of it all with this fantastic character development between these three friends and the struggle to find their place within the legal system. 

The book does a great job of blending the past with the present, showing the friends who met in law school and the journey they went on to get into their legal professions. Mike’s good nature and belief in justice clashes with Jack’s hungry need to be the best and is balanced by Jeri’s love for them both and the love she has for law and order. The author writes with an expertise that speaks to the highs and lows of studying and practicing law, giving this thriller a sense of authenticity that not every legal thriller can have. 

The Verdict

This is a must own legal drama/thriller that you have to read to believe. A story of corruption, justice and the impact the practice of law can have on three friends make this a truly compelling read. Full of shocking twists and turns, this book is so edge of your seat good that by the final pages you will be left hanging on every word. If you are looking for a great legal drama to read this holiday season, be sure to preorder your copy of Legal Reserves by James Rosenberg or grab your copy when it releases on December 18th, 2018. 

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Rating: 10/10

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Book Review: Freshman Hunt

Thank you Kayla for this amazing review of my novel. It was so refreshing and wonderful to hear your thoughts on my work. It inspires me to keep working on this series i’m so passionate about. You have made my day. Thanks again.

Author Kayla Krantz

Title: Freshman Hunt: A Nightmare Academy Novella

Author: Anthony Avina

Link:https://www.amazon.com/Freshman-Hunt-Nightmare-Academy-Novella-ebook/dp/B07DK616TR/

Summary

Fear rises amongst the supernatural students at Nightmare Academy.

After surviving the first couple months of her undercover assignment at the school, vampire teen Francesca Lucas finds herself fighting a war on two fronts. On one side stands her mission, working for the resistance against the evil supernatural leader King Dalca by infiltrating the Nightmare Academy and learning it’s secrets. On the other stands the handsome warlock who has captured her heart, Jasper. He is powerful, kind and makes her feel alive for the first time in decades. Yet fears cloud Francesca’s mind, as memories of her last love Alan being taken from her still warn her against any happiness.

As she struggles with these internal battles, a new threat arrives at the school. An ancient being of myth and legend makes his presence known. It’s All…

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The Book of FU by Benjamin Davis Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

One author’s life story blends into a magical realism setting in one of the most creative poetry books I’ve read this year. I’m talking to you guys today about author and poet Benjamin Davis and his book, “The King of FU”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The King of FU is a magically realistic poetic memoir about growing up in America in the nineties on the cusp of the age of the internet. It is a voyage that navigates through family tribalism, supervisors, white-gloved Sheriffs, bullies, sex, suicide, dead prisoners, drugs, porn, middle school, and Jesus; all in search of answering one of life’s greatest mysteries: what is the point of adults? This artistic masterpiece comes from the mind of author Benjamin Davis with illustrations by Russian artist Nikita Klimov.

The Review

This was a truly fun, compelling, humorous and engaging read. A healthy blend of the abstract with magical realism and a beautifully told poetic memoir, author Benjamin Davis has painted a often chilling, funny and realistic image of what the 90’s were like for kids growing up in the United States. 

You can feel the author’s struggle through some of life’s deepest challenges as he touches on themes of religion, death, family, abuse and so much more. The incredible illustrations by Nikita Klilmov help to bring the powerful themes and fantasy elements of the poetry to life. 

The Verdict

Overall this was a phenomenal read. The passion, creativity and often hilarious contrast between the view of the world through the eyes of a child versus that of an adult brought this one of a kind novel to a whole new level. The book itself was a fast and easy read, which worked well as it’s poetry was so engaging that putting it down was impossible. If you haven’t yet grab your copy of Benjamin Davis’s novel “The King of FU” today!

Rating: 10/10

Perfect for holiday gifting – Buy Online, Pick-up at your local Barnes & Noble store within an Hour!

About the Author

My name is Benjamin Davis. I am an American writer and Journalist living in St. Petersburg. I grew up in a no-name town in Massachusetts where I was more likely to hear horse sex or a pack of wolves eating a rabbit than cars driving by or drunks fighting, as I do now. I work as a freelance editor, tech-journalist, native-speaking-content-monkey, and social media manager for English speaking markets. To cope with the sterility of corporate writing, my fiction sometimes gets a little out of hand.

From 2016-2017, I wrote one story every day for a year for the project Flash-365, creating a community of people who appreciate the short-winded and the weird. To me it is where I found my voice and where most of my stories found their home.

May of 2018 my first book The King of FU was published: a magically realistic poetic memoir about growing up in America in the nineties on the cusp of the age of the internet. It is a voyage that navigates through family tribalism, supervisors, white-gloved Sheriffs, bullies, sex, suicide, dead prisoners, drugs, porn, middle school, and Jesus; all in search of answering one of life’s greatest mysteries: what is the point of adults? An artistic masterpiece with illustrations by Russian artist Nikita Klimov.

Instagram: instagram.com/davis.benjamin.s

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/benjamindavis

Personal website: benjamindaviswriter.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/benjamindaviswriter

Also, here is a landing page for the book, if you wouldn’t mind including that as well: