Meet the Author Podcast

Cory Doctorow, Author of “For the Win,” and Seth Godin, Author of “Poke the Box”

For this week’s podcast I had the good fortune of interviewing two people who are both New York Times bestselling authors and who are also both trailblazers in the world of publishing, Cory Doctorow and Seth Godin.

Cory and I talked about:

The world of gold farming depicted in For the Win; in 2008 there were roughly 400,000 people making a living in the developing world from doing repetitive tasks in online gaming worlds to amass game currency and goods to sell to players in the developed world;

Why the gold farming world was a great setting for a story of global labour activism;

Writing about virtual and real worlds, and how those people experience life and experience games;

Using the dynamics of science fiction to explain the invisible technology of economics;

The war on kids who are being pushed out of society’s real spaces on the one hand, and restricted from virtual spaces as well;

Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids;

The peer pressure parents experience from other adults about parenting;

Cory recounts the genesis of his essay about the reproductive strategy of dandelions that Seth Godin discusses in Poke the Box;

Giving books away for free as a marketing technique and the satisfaction of promoting his books in a way that is consistent with his ethics and moral principles.  You can get “For the Win” free from Cory’s site here;

Cory’s thoughts on copyright regulation in the modern world;

The program Cory has for fans to purchase copies of his books for school classrooms and libraries;

Cory’s self-published short story collection With a Little Help;

Book donations to Worldreader to give Cory’s books to kids in developing countries;

“Transmedia storytelling” and Jack and the Beanstalk;

Turning fictional worlds into game worlds.


Seth and I talked about:

Poke the Box is a book about taking initiative, so we discussed why initiative is so important now, both in business and in society, and why it is so scarce;

The Resistance, as Steven Pressfield calls it (see his upcoming book, Do The Work);

How when failure is not an option, then success is not an option;

How to get past the fear of failure, and the incredible competitive advantage that you get when you learn that failure is not fatal;

The story of giving away Unleashing the Ideavirus for free (you can get the free PDF here);

Why we need to renounce the tyranny of being picked and pick ourselves;

The Domino Project and how it is powered by Amazon.

Traditional publishing’s value proposition in a world where self-publishing is a viable alternative for authors.

Next Week’s Podcast: Eric Lamet, author of the memoir A Child Al Confino.

Meet the Author Podcast: Cathy Sultan, Author of “A Beirut Heart”

Cathy Sultan is an American woman raised in DC who ended up living and raising her family in Beirut in the 70s and 80s, including spending eight years during the cival war that began in 1975. She wrote a memoir about her experience, A Beirut Heart. Cathy writes:

“For six years I led the life of my dreams. My home was a rooftop apartment with a terrace full of flowers and a breathtaking view of the city. I was accepted and loved as a Lebanese. My husband had a successful medical practice and my children were growing up speaking English, French and Arabic.

But in April 1975, my life was abruptly turned upside down. On a quiet Sunday afternoon, the Christian Phalange militia attacked a bus full of Palestinians in a neighborhood not far from mine in East Beirut. This singular incident set off an infamous civil war that eventually engulfed the whole city. My tranquil treelined street, a block off Damascus Road and two blocks from the National Museum, became a deadly territorial divide: the infamous Green Line, separating East from West Beirut. Despite the constant danger, my feelings for my lover-city were slow to change. Instead of fleeing, my love affair with Beirut clouded my otherwise clear judgement and we stayed through the first eight years of Lebanon’s bloody civil war.

I spent my days caring for my family, racing under the bombs to rescue my children from school and comforting my physician husband who spent his days treating wounded civilians. I kept my sanity during the war in large part because I loved to cook. I entertained family and friends constantly, trying as much as possible to incorporate some normalcy into our lives. Little by little I acquired the coping skills necessary to resist and survive in the absurd dysfunction of war. Eventually, though, war took a huge toll on my family and in 1983 we abandoned our beloved Beirut and returned to the States.

It took a number of years for all of us to regain our sanity. And it wasn’t until when my son, by then a junior at Harvard, asked me to record our adventures in Beirut that I began to think about writing my story. What began as a project for my children quickly became my way to mourn the loss of my beloved Beirut. Another reason had to do with the attitude of people I met when my husband and I settled down in the mid-West. They seemingly could not relate to my war stories and quickly became disinterested. This painful experience was the impetus that stimulated me to write, to pour my heart out, to clease my soul of the traumas of war. A Beirut Heart: One Woman’s War is a memoir of my fourteen years in Beirut.”

Cathy is a remarkable woman with a remarkable story. When I talked with her, we discussed:

A Beirut Heart – Cathy’s story, a tribute to women living in war;

How Cathy came to live in Beirut as a young American mother in 1969;

Cathy’s book, Tragedy in South Lebanon: The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006;

The civilian experience of the war in Beirut and the struggle to maintain some sort of normalcy;

The difficulty of re-entering the “normal world” of the United States in 1983;

The development of empathy through a common experience;

What the individual do to understand conflict in the Middle East;

How conflict traps the least privileged and the plight of refugees from Libya;

Whether the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt will result in a better reality for ordinary people;

The Internet and social media in the current protests and revolutions in the Arab world;

Cathy’s work with the National Peace Foundation to give voice to the voiceless;

Cathy’s work in progress, her first novel;

Cathy’s book, Israeli and Palestinian Voices;

What ordinary Americans and Canadians can do to promote peace in the Middle East;

Cathy and her family’s Beirut reunions and the beauty and challenges of a rebuilt Beirut.

Links and Resources:

Cathy Sultan’s website

The National Peace Foundation

Meet the Author Podcast: Kim Olver, Author of “Secrets of Happy Couples: Loving Yourself, Your Partner, and Your Life”

This week I talked to Kim Olver, a relationship expert whose new book is called, Secrets of Happy Couples: Loving Yourself, Your Partner and Your Life. I talked to Kim about her book and the research she did with 100 couples. Kim shared some of her best tips and strategies for getting the most out of a relationship.

Kim and I talked about:

How Kim found the 100 happy couples she surveyed.

The four characteristics all the happy couples had in common.

The four stages of the relationship cycle.

Relationship maintenance.

The Platinum Rule (going one step beyond the Golden Rule).

Sex and romance.

The five basic needs and relationship compatibilty, and how to turn turn incompatibilities into win/win solutions.

The empowerment and frustration of realizing that we can only change ourselves, not other people.

Loss and grieving and Kim’s personal experience with the death of her husband in 1999.

Strategies to work through grief at the end of the relationship cycle.

Kim’s experience with publishing her own book.

Here are some related links:

Kim’s website

The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex by John Gray

The William Glasser Institute

The Mission Marketing Mentors