Hampton Sides

Hampton Sides is a visionary author who writes primarily narrative non-fiction. His most recent book, On Desperate Groundabout the Battle of Chosin Reservoir–the most infamous battle in the Korean War–is out now. I currently reading it and this book rocks my socks. And it makes for a great last minute xmas gift!

Mr. Sides was so gracious. An amazing writer, and an amazing guy. He’s got plenty of other books as well–some war-related, some not!

Tiffany Jana & Ashley Diaz Mejias

How do we erase institutional bias? Great question! Read Erasing Institutional Bias to find out. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, geez…

…All right, all right, fine. I’ll cover the basics for ya, but you’d better still go out and buy this friggin book!

This friggin book offers inspired clarity on a topic that makes many of us uncomfortable just to think about, let alone try to solve. Of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day! (That doesn’t have anything to do with institutional bias but I just thought I’d pepper in 1-2 historical fun facts.) Enacting real change in the world of systemic prejudice takes a constant intentional effort. That may be why so many lame-o CEOs are too reticent to try! Or maybe it’s because they’re reaping the rewards from a corporate structure that’s been actively designed to benefit them? Who knows!

Despite their different fields, it’s clear that both authors are well versed in the realm of tackling biases. After earning her MA in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and her Masters of Divinity at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Ashley has devoted her academic work to researching and writing on racial bias. She has written for blogs and led institutional conversations on race, systemic bias, and mass incarceration. Tiffany is the founder and CEO of TMI Portfolio, a collection of socially responsible and interconnected companies working to advance more culturally inclusive and equitable workforces. TMI Portfolio’s consulting arm, TMI Consulting, Inc. Previously, they co-wrote Overcoming Biasa book focusing on addressing personal biases within ourselves.

Dom and I had a great time with Tiffany and Ashley. I did a great job interview-wise, while Dom tried his best. Bless his heart!

I hope you consider the fact that I’m writing a particularly long post for this one, and take it to mean that this episode is worth it! All jokes aside, we applaud these determined movers and shakers for writing what is sure to be required reading for employers (and employees) everywhere.

nnltdEVhTRWyeiEt5p1mnQ

Dean King

Dean has written extensively on everything from shipwrecks to blood feuds. He’s traveled around the world researching stories. He gave a sweet Ted Talk.

Dom and I had been looking forward to this interview for a long time, and Mr. King did not disappoint! You’ll learn about the enigmatic wildman John Muir, father of our national parks. You’ll hear tell of 30 women, crazy enough and strong enough to follow Mao’s army thousands of miles across the nightmarish terrain Northwest China. What’s not to love? This guy’s an adventurer and a damn good writer.

Of course, countless hours go into the less glamorous side of research. Dean told us he always has an entire draft of the book he’s writing before he travels to the location in person to put himself in his subjects’ shoes, and to soak up as much of the living history there as he can. You can see those extra details in his books. You can taste the authenticity. King works tirelessly to tell the untold truth.

Kris Spisak’s Grammartopia

Are you one of 99.4% of Americans who believe that grammar is a dusty old subject best left for Elizabethan geezers and Second-Grade teachers? Do you cringe at the letters M-L-A? Do you think words are boring? Well, then listen up, you friggin’ troglodyte!

Dom and I were honored and thrilled to welcome esteemed guest Kris Spisak back to the show, this time with her groundbreaking grammar-based game show, Grammartopia. Author of Get a Grip on Your Grammar: 250 Writing and Editing Reminders for the Curious or Confused and a popular blog, Kris is out to change the world. The world of words.

Dominique James, universally dubbed the less-interesting co-host, invited two self-professed non-grammar-experts, Ro and Cassidy, to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I might’ve joined them, but between show-producing, score-keeping, and scheme-scheming ways to shove as many hyphenated-words into this para-graph, I was rather busy. Plus, I would’ve won by a landslide anyway (and, depending on who you ask, technically did win by a landslide).

This is the most fun we’ve had in a while. You don’t have to love grammar to love this episode, you just have to love fun! And who doesn’t love fun? Plus, I’ve got a feeling you’ll be changing your tune after listening to this episode… but in the immortal words of Levar Burton: “don’t take my word for it!”

Do yourself a favor and follow Kris on social media. Her web presence is as delightful as it is educational. If you just love the dynamic–the ol’ back-and-forth–of this episode, you can always sojourn to the archives of our lil’ show and listen to the last time Kris was on. You’re welcome.

If I have made any grammar mistakes in this post please don’t call me out as it will hurt my feelings. Similarly, please do not fact check any of my wild claims because between you and me many of them are exaggerated if not outright false. Also, please don’t tell Dom any of the things that I’ve said about him here. He is bigger than me and might beat me up. Again.

 

Paula G

Paula Gillison is an author, poet, artist, and all-around inspiration! She’s got a refreshingly open-minded approach to all creative outlets and is here to share her wisdom and part of a short story!

Paula is an active blogger. You can find all kinds of goodies at her website, https://lackofbetter.wordpress.com. You can also usually find her at the monthly Writer’s Den poetry slams!

Richard Rose and Bill Sizemore

Two local, experienced writers each wrote a book about the lasting effect on slavery from the same local publisher. You’d think they’d be pretty similar, right? You’d think they’d be pals, right? Wrong! These two fine books are in fact very different, and these two fine gentlemen had never met before coming on our show (you’re welcome, guys).
Bill Sizemore is a retired investigative journalist who spent most of his professional career at the Virginian-Pilot and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. With this background, when Bill discovered that at least one of his ancestors was a slave-owner, he dove deep into researching the Sizemore family tree, and the family tree of the other Sizemores. The stolen Sizemores. By fateful coincidence, he even discovered that both clans were going to be having family reunions at the same time, mere miles apart. Bill was able to get in touch with the patriarch of the family, Uncle George. Despite the fact that George and his family were direct descendants of the slaves owned by Bill’s ancestors, Uncle George was gregarious and generous. He agreed to a meeting between the clans.
Uncle George and Me will be available September 5 and is published through Brandylane Publishers, Inc. The official release party will be held at Chop Suey Books, Sep. 5, at 6:00pm.
Richard Rose is a retired educator and scientist. He is also a social and environmental activist. He is a poet, songwriter, and playwright. He is also a wonderful person and talented performer! Really, you are not going to want to miss his recitation of an excerpt from his book featured in this episode… it’s a wild ride! While Richard was researching his family history for his semi-biographical opera Monte and Pinky, Richard, like Bill, discovered that his ancestors, too, had been part of the slave trade. Richard’s poetry takes you on a journey through time and place, through culture and history. He believes strongly in being a positive force for change, and that is evident in his writing.
Coming Around will be available September 1, and you can even physically go in person to the book launch party on that same day at Book People, on Granite Ave., at 1 pm. Your faithful prosers will be there armed with bookmarks and possibly other new branded merch(?!).

David Aldridge

The Vietnam War is a fundamental piece of our country’s history. It’s a war we see often in movies, but rarely do we get an honest, accurate portrayal.

Dave Aldridge is a force. Looming at well over 6 feet, his age does not diminish his stature or his presence. He brought three stories to this interview, all three will plunge you into his world and surprise you with their somber spirit and colorful cameos.

We met Dave at a weekly meeting of The Mighty Pen Project, a writing group comprised entirely of veterans. The group is led and taught by the prolific David L. Robbins, former P&C guest, and Richmond writing giant. If you served in the armed forces and would like to be involved, you can register here.