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Friday, November 3, 2017

Meet Tony Overbay, Therapist and Coach

Tony Overbay is a licensed marriage and family therapist, humor columnist, motivational speaker, and certified Mindful Habit Coach. Tony is the host of the popular podcast The Virtual Couch as well as the creator of The Path Back, an online recovery program for pornography addiction and compulsive sexual behavior. Listen to Tony's latest podcasts and learn more about his work by visiting http://virtualcouch.xyz/.

1. What inspired you to become a therapist?

I spent 10 years in the computer software industry because I was offered a job with a startup right out of college. My bachelors degree was in mass communications, but I minored in Psychology. I enjoy psychology but wasn't clear on what a career in psychology looked like at that time, so I took the job in front of me and moved forward. I enjoyed high tech, but I wasn't passionate about it. I found myself routinely being the one who people turned to to solve problems in the workplace, and there were times where I felt like I had missed my calling. Shortly after the dot.com boom and the market collapse, I started my own computer hardware company, and I was sued by larger companies trying to get me out of the industry a couple of times and I knew I needed to pursue a different career path. At that point, I truly did feel called to go back and get my masters in counseling, I felt inspired to work with men, to help them become better husbands and fathers. I like to say that once I did start my practice, I realized not a lot of men come to therapy on their own, so I found myself doing a lot of work with pornography addiction, which is a very big problem with men, and some women, and I also started doing a lot of couples therapy. Because of my work with pornography addiction, I also started an online recovery program called “The Path Back” which helps men and women with tools to overcome pornography addiction and compulsive sexual behavior. You can find out more information at http://pathbackrecovery.com.

2. What are your favorite parts of your work?

I know it can sound cliched, but helping people break out of negative patterns, helping people identify and then achieve goals that they either never knew existed inside of them, or that they had given up on. I love watching somebody come to me with an addiction, for example, going minute by minute to not give in, to get to a place where the addiction is no longer running their life. I started doing a lot of couples counseling a few years ago, and I am very passionate about a modality called EFT (Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy): it changes lives, it gives couples skills they didn't know were even available, and it helps people get to places in their marriage that they thought were only seen in movies. And a quick side note, I love when somebody comes into my office and opens up about a struggle for the first time in their lives--I love seeing the relief of hearing their worst fears normalized, and then seeing them slowly have hope, and gain momentum as they overcome their issues.

3. How did you get the idea to do The Virtual Couch podcast?

I'm an ultra runner, that's somebody who specializes on running races LONGER than the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. I've run around 50 regular marathons, including the Boston Marathon, but then I got into ultra running and I've run nearly 100 ultra marathons including a dozen runs of over 100 miles. That requires A LOT of training, and I've been running 6-days-a-week for over 20 years--that's a lot of time on the road, and I found podcasts over a decade ago and I've listened to thousands of podcasts over the years. I love the medium, and I've always wanted to do a podcast. The more time I spent in my therapist chair, the more things I began to notice that I wanted to share to as many people as possible that I felt like could help people live better lives. My first few podcasts have dealt with how to talk to teenagers, how to get "unstuck," tips on resolving anger, making new habits, and I have so many more I can't wait to record.

4. How do you choose the guests/topics to feature on your podcast?

That's a great question. In the months leading up to the launch of the Virtual Couch podcast, I made a list of topics and colleagues that I would love to interview, and I started to reach out to people to see if they'd be interested in coming on my podcast...but I didn't have a podcast to show them so I feel like a lot of people didn't seem too interested, or they weren't familiar with podcasting in general, but once the podcast launched, and especially as it has immediately shot up the charts on iTunes, people have been more receptive. My first three interviews were so much fun, and easier to book than I anticipated. Tina Fuller, author of the book, It's My Turn, about growing up with a narcissistic mother, Paul Gilmartin, host of the incredibly popular podcast The Mental Illness Happy Hour, and Eriz Schranz, host of the chart-topping Ultrarunnerpodcast, were all immediately responsive and willing to come on the show, and that gave me some legitimacy, so now I have a lot of interest from therapists, and authors. I've began to be contacted by publicists for a couple of authors who would like to come on and talk about a book about mental health that they've written. I'm so excited to bring these interviews to The Virtual Couch.

5. What's your advice to others who want to start a podcast, and what else would you like readers to know about you and your work?

Haha! Don't go out and buy a bunch of equipment that you ASSUME you'll need. I have a pretty nice mixing board that I don't need and a couple of high-end microphones, only one of which I need to record a nice sounding show. There is SO MUCH information about what it takes to start a podcast on the internet, YouTube, etc., so just spend some time researching how to put one together, but then go for it!

I would just love to plug my podcast, The Virtual Couch, if you have an iPhone go find the Podcast app, it comes pre-installed, and search for The Virtual Couch, please hit the subscribe button, listen to an episode or two and if you like it, I'd be grateful for a nice rating and maybe even a review, and feel free to share any episodes that you found helpful on social media. If you aren't an Apple user, you can find the podcast on any podcasting app for android, there are quite a few or go to http://virtualcouch.xyz (that's a real domain ending!) and the shows are there. Scroll down to the bottom and send me a question you’d like answered on the show, and if you feel inclined please consider making a donation to help with the cost of hosting and producing the podcast. And if you, or anyone you know, is struggling with pornography addiction or compulsive sexual behavior PLEASE visit http://pathbackrecovery.com and take a look at my program, it can really help give you the life you always dreamed up.

Thanks for interview and for your time. Take care!

Thanks, Tony!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Meet Sheldon Charles, Author

Sheldon Charles is the author of From Within the Firebird's Nest. He lives in Michigan, but his work is informed by years of international work and travel. He is a decorated Air Force veteran who was later hired by the Department of Defense to be the civilian Director of Information Operations for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Learn more about Sheldon Charles and his work by visiting http://valkyriespirit.com.

1. What gave you the idea for From Within the Firebird's Nest?

In the beginning, I was mapping out the story of a young Arab man who was misled into jihadism by a manipulative teacher when I read an article about numbers stations. The stations gave me a method for Abdul-Malik Kaseem, the young man, to gain access to something much more substantial and catastrophic than anyone could have expected. Bringing in two characters from my earlier books, Evan Davis and Maksim Bondreovich, I was able to continue their good guy versus bad guy dynamic, weaving them into Abi's story. As the story began to develop, I included more and more things from current and recent history to give the story depth and the plausibility needed for a reader to more thoroughly enjoy it.

2. How has your perspective as someone who has served in the military and worked for the Dept of Defense influenced your work as a novelist?

The wealth and depth of experience that can occur over a military career provide realism and multiplicity unavailable elsewhere. As a result of that path, every geographic location used in every book I've written thus far, are places where I've been. When I was in Berlin, I went to the Glienicker Brücke (Bridge of Spies) at the height of the Cold War in the early 80s. If you did not know the history of the bridge, it might seem nondescript and unimportant--it was the events that occurred there that make it memorable. Likewise, the people that I have met, befriended, and worked with from many different cultures tend to show up in my book. This makes the characters fully developed rather than stereotypes or presumed personas.

I once heard a person saying that the draft forced people from many different regions, wealth levels, and backgrounds to meet and work with each other in a way nothing else in American society does. I have to agree with that. Unlike where you live or work--which might be determined by your geography, or what school you attend--which might be determined by wealth. Service in uniform and with the federal government forces a uniting with people who were unlike you but with a common goal to serve the public good--and many times in a location far, far away from home. The job takes people to unfamiliar situations and causes them to overcome their own assumptions and prejudices based on an actuality they are experiencing. Nothing could be better to unite the people of the diverse country such as the United States.

3. What were the most challenging aspects of writing your latest novel?

Making sure that everything worked. When I read a book that takes me on a journey into something I'm unfamiliar with or provides me with clues that can be sorted out or examined, I expect those things to be real and to work. In all of my books, I aim to ensure that everything within the story is as close to real as possible. All of the codes listed in the book work, the descriptions on how you could decrypt a message that was encrypted using a book also work. It may seem trivial, but to some readers, it is essential because they may want to try to decrypt the codes themselves. I realize that such things are not universal, I even got into a discussion about it with my editor, but for that one reader, they will find that extra bit of realism it makes them enjoy the book even more.

On a less intricate level, I also make the locations and scenery as factual as possible. In the book when Dieter goes to visit Fyodor in Munich, the description of his journey to the restaurant is entirely accurate--a reader could duplicate that trip by getting on the trains and subways mentioned and make the same exact journey. This may not matter to some readers, but if you had made that journey yourself you would expect it to be described accurately in the book or the book would lose plausibility.

4. How have readers been responding to the novel so far?

At this point, the book has only been out a month, so I am just starting to get feedback on what people think, and I am very flattered by the reception that the book has been getting. It has been well received overall, and in addition to good reviews, I am getting some surprising queries via email about topics I did not expect.

I have had readers write me about some of the more minor points in the book that I felt were an interesting asides when written, like Ashely's family heritage. Now I know they were appreciated; nothing could be more complimentary. I have also gotten queries about the fate of characters beyond the book and if I plan on bringing them back in the next "Evan Davis Tale." For some yes, for others no; but to hear that I have created a character worthy of interest or concern does make me feel a great sense of satisfaction.

I have also heard from readers who have their own ideas about the directions I should have taken the story. I see those as complimentary too--it means I created a story that the reader delved into so deeply they started to ponder the world I created. Some of my favorite books are those that I spent time thinking about how I might have changed things within the story.

5. What else would you like readers to know about you and your work?

My function is to be a storyteller--to take the reader on an enjoyable journey. I am not here to present you a particular political narrative or to examine social issues unless they relate to the story that I'm telling. I think there are plenty of authors out there who write books with an agenda or to support a particular narrative. You will not find that in my books. What you will see, is an exciting story with characters that you can relate to and enjoy as an escapist form of entertainment. To me, that is why you pick up a work of fiction in the first place.

Thanks, Sheldon!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Meet Steven LaVey, Author

Steven LaVey is a writer from Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England. He writes autobiographical novels and surreal short stories. He has written three books: Three Leaves, Shorts, and The Ugly Spirit.

To learn more about Steven and his work, check out www.stevenlavey.com and visit his author page on Facebook.

1. Why did you choose autobiographical fiction rather than memoir in writing Three Leaves?

I've chosen to write autobiographical fiction over writing memoirs because I feel that the writing process of autobiographical fiction allows me to have more creativity over the structure, events, and characters involved. By that, I mean that instead of aiming for a direct, linear version of events, I can meld, merge, and amalgamate the timeline, characters, and scenes. It also allows me to exaggerate, and even make things up, if I feel that by doing so it will potentially improve the story.

2. Who are some authors of the past and present day whose work inspires you? Alan Bennett came to mind for me because of his autobiographical work in different genres, but it seems like your work has more of an edge to it. 

While there are many influences on my writing, the main influence, both philosophically and stylistically, would be Henry Miller. What Miller did was to make art out of his own life, to bend it, manipulate it, and turn it into a tall, amusing, sexual, and philosophical tale. However, it is not just the content or philosophy of Miller’s writing that I love; it is the rhythm, poetry, and language, which he uses to express his ideas. While he dips in and out of the Miller "voice," in my opinion he only really nails it consistently in his first published novel, Tropic of Cancer. What I love about TOC is the immediacy of the language Miller uses; it is the rawness, and the almost spiritual excitement at the situations he finds himself in. Coming back to the first question, I would add that the immediacy of Miller's work inspired me to write autobiographical fiction. It is why I wrote Three Leaves in such a way, transferring myself back into my nineteen (to twenty-three) year old frame of mind, and writing as if I were telling the narrative as it happened, instead of in a retrospective memoir.

3. In writing with so much honesty, do you ever come up against things you have to really fight to get onto the page? 

Absolutely, but not so much for the actions or words of my own character, but for anyone else who I have fictionalized. As I am attempting to use real individuals (albeit with fake names) as the basis for my characters, my concerns are that should any of those individuals read my work and discover that they are involved, they may think that I have not portrayed them correctly. This is a particular concern when it comes to family members.

4. What motivates you to keep writing? Do you maintain a schedule or do anything else that keeps you focused on your work?

For me, writing is like breathing, eating, or sleeping; it's natural and something I've always done. There is no motivation--I either write or die. However, when I plan to write something of a certain length, like I did with Three Leaves and The Ugly Spirit, I plan my work out scene-by-scene and then write the novel from the notes. Presently, I am working to a slightly different method (which I'm keeping secret) for my next book, which I hope to publish in late 2018 or early 2019.

5. What would you like readers to know about your latest book?

I felt like I went through an enormous metamorphosis while writing Three Leaves. The process of digging about in my brain to remember all the things that happened ultimately got me thinking (a lot more than usual) about my behavior at the time. What I would like anyone thinking of reading Three Leaves to know is that it is about a real individual; someone who is idiotic, insecure, hopeless, embarrassing, angry, sad, depressed, lost, addicted, manic, loving, kind, spiritual, honest, violent, and all the other endless traits that make people what they are; whole, complex, and not mere stereotypes of "good" and "evil."

Thanks, Steven!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Introducing SpeedDatingCupid.com

The internet has made a lot of things easier in our lives, and sometimes I wonder how people met each other before the era of dating websites. Have you ever noticed that the popularity of different dating sites seems to change over time? In order to improve your chances of meeting people, it can help to try new and different sites.

One of the latest sites I've heard about is https://speeddatingcupid.com/. This site is described as a place for speed dating, where it only takes a minute to register and start connecting with potential dates.

New people across the US are joining the site and uploading their profiles daily. The site has several features to allow you to meet people in a low-key way. For example, you can easily set up friend lists, and you can send messages or winks to other people on the site. It's free to sign up and get started using the site. There is also a premium level available for those who want to try more features.

Some other cool things about the site are that it has a blog where you can find articles about love and dating related topics, and the site runs contests where you can win prizes like a free premium subscription.

With a free site like this, what can you lose? Check it out and let me know what you think by sharing your experience in the comments below.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Meet the Founder of VoIPtoners.com

The founder of VoIPtoners.com is a freelance business owner who started the website http://voiptoners.com because Voiptoners he had tested so many VoIP providers on the market and wanted to share out his findings with all the people that need good and reliable Voip services yet affordable ones.

1. In general, what are some of the benefits in using VoIP in the first place?

People start saving money once they get started with VoIP due to its low monthly commitment compared to a normal fixed line or even a mobile. Some VoIP services provide free services if you purchase their devices one-off, such as Ooma. The VoIP utilizes your internet connection as well since I believe most of the residents or users now will surely have fiber now.

2. How did your own experience as a VoIP customer motivate you to start the site?

My first experience sucked as I had committed to a bad service. It all happened because I wanted to save costs and get the cheaper price while the provider promised on the features and reliability. Back then, there weren't as many reviews and sharing on the internet or forums, very limited information. I ended up losing more money, and it was such a frustrating experience. I thought it would be great if I picked a few providers and tested them along while giving out my experience and encounters due to my own usage and criteria. I have since become an addict and I love to try more of them to review for my site.

3. What are some of the most interesting things you've learned since starting the site?

What I love is that more and more people and users are willing to share their experience and knowledge on the VoIP providers. I believe most are still unfamiliar or not even heard of them but now all the information and knowledge are much more easily accessible. First time users can skip the pain and get what they need. More webmasters are setting up review sites, and we all can learn from different points of view, too.

4. Do you think VoIP has changed over the years, as more people have dropped landline phones for mobile phones?

Of course I do. The first thing that I had noticed is the lowering of prices for residential users. But this hasn't happened for business purposes; the price had increased, in fact, for business VoIP over the years. I believe these facts had to do with the functionality and increase of facilities to cater all the demand. Other than that, the reliability of the VoIP has vastly improved, so now the voice is much more crystal clear and stable, less jittery and delayed. Certainly the voice compression technology has improved over the years. From my observation, mobile users are utilizing VoIP app from their smartphone more than ever because of convenience and stability. I still remember my first time using a VoIP app from my smartphone 5 years back (Viber); back then, you could barely hear what the other person was saying on the line. Luckily, all these bad experience have gone away over time.

5. What else would you like people to know about your website?

I certainly hope users can benefit from what I've encountered personally. Check and read the reviews carefully if they suit your needs. Always cut out if you find that the provider failed to deliver what they promised--that's why a no contract situation is always my priority.

Thanks!