In His Latest Interview, Grogan Talks Texas and Immigration

Excerpt from Carol Moye’s Compelled To Write Interview of Leander Jackie Grogan….

“I live in Texas where immigration is a powerfully divisive issue, one that conservative Republicans invariably count on to get themselves elected. If I hadn’t seen and interacted with undocumented workers who had slipped across the border in the dead of night, I would fully expect them to be demons from hell, invading the poor Texas countryside, wreaking havoc upon the land.

In fact, these are hard-working people. Five or six families moved into a single one bedroom apartment, eat can goods and pooled their money to buy a car to get off the bus line. They take the jobs that we don’t want, breathe in the cancerous roof tar, clean the dirty toilets and load the rotten garbage bags onto the truck. They work construction jobs below minimum wage and sometimes don’t get paid at all. But who can they tell? Who will listen to them without asking for their social security card?

They are illegal like we were illegal when we tried to eat at the same lunch counters with whites and the law said it was illegal. They are illegal like we were illegal when we tried to vote without passing the local poll tax test, you know, the one that asked blacks how many bubbles were in a bar of soap.

And so, King Juba’s Chest chronicles this young woman’s underground rags-to-riches story, the Mexican daughter of a black Mafia bagman who lives with one eye over his shoulder and death calling his name from every back alley in Chicago. On the raw and dirty side of the track, monumental lies abound, everyone is illegal and no one is playing by the rules.”






Full Interview here:

Writers, Protect Your Mind

with the conscious mind where the writer is fully aware of the options and painstaking process of elimination that renders a single solution. Other times, it’s the subconscious mind that sorts through an endless array of possibilities and then awakens the writer in the middle of the night with an unexpected epiphany.

The creative process is elusive and difficult to characterize. Scientists often attribute creativity to the right hemisphere of the brain where holistic, intuitive, synthesized thinking takes place. But most writers will tell you when it comes down to the rationale and logic necessary to construct a believable, sequential, detail-oriented plot, the left brain is fully engaged.

The point is no matter what you’re writing, to create the best results, your total mind needs to be functional. That’s not to say you can’t limp through with one engine out and make a crash landing. But what writer wants his or her end result to reflect a minimized creative process? We all want to showcase our best work each chance we get.

A huge part of achieving this objective centers on being able to protect your mind. There are many ways to accomplish this. Considering the scope of this article, I will talk about three of them.

First let’s establish the difference between a distraction and a deterrent. Though they sometimes overlap, a distraction is usually a temporary event that pulls you away from your train of thought. A bird flying against the window, a screaming child on the sidewalk in front of your house, an unexpected phone call from your son’s principal, or a spouse that barges into your writing space and proceeds to share the news flash of the day would all be considered distractions. For the most part, they have no lasting effect. When the event is over, you’re able to get back to work.

A deterrent, however, is more long-lasting, more systemic in nature, and more damaging to the psyche. Sometimes it’s a stolen or fried laptop with all your chapters on it or an accident that affect your vision; or worst, the irreversible news of death in the family or a love one who’s been raped. Other times, it’s tied to the perpetual pounding you endure for declaring yourself a writer with nothing tangible to show.

Many distractions and deterrents are unavoidable. But in most cases, you have far more control over them than you exert.

Let’s start with rule #1: Anticipate distractions in advance, give them a numerical value and cut them off at the pass.

Let’s say you’ve had a long talk with your neighbor about his dog pooping in your yard. You’re sitting at your desk writing, when suddenly you look out your window and see your neighbor, walking his dog in front of your house and now, there he is … pooping on your lawn again. What numerical value (1-10) would you assign to that distraction? Let’s say smelling gas fumes coming from your downstairs kitchen is a ten. What value would you give the neighbor and his dog? Would it be a four or five? If your spouse calls and says she has opened the credit card bill and the interest has doubled. What value would you assign that irritating discovery?

The point is you should determine, in advance, the level of distractions worthy to pull you away from your writing. So you say, “Unless it’s a seven or higher, I’m not bulging until I finish this chapter”. So when you see the neighbor and his dog, you close the blinds. You deal with your credit card company at the end of the week. You make a decision to stay with your writing until the distraction is worthy of your attention.

When I was writing my latest e-book, Exorcism At Midnight, I got to a real critical, spooky part, but couldn’t remember the name of the official Catholic exorcism manual. When I went up online to check, there was an email from an important agent for which I’d been waiting from months. Did I open the email? Absolutely not. At best, nine out of ten agent responses are rejections. In other words, there was a 90% chance it was bad news. I had control over that distraction. I didn’t let it stymie my process. And yes, it was a rejection. As a writer, you must learn to take control.

Rule #2: Classify your deterrents into three categories: unavoidable, avoidable, and manageable. Determine, in advance, how you want to deal with each.

An unavoidable deterrent might be your daughter moving back home with her three unruly kids. Besides the noise, the displacement of familiar boundaries, and realignment of finances, there’s usually this agonizing period of self-assessment as a parent, wondering whether you did all that you were supposed to do to equip her for the real world. In other words, whose fault is it that she’s fallen off the beaten path? Your writing’s going to suffer until you’ve come to terms with the answer.

Let’s say you take your speed bike out to the park and run into a tree. Your typing/ mouse hand is banged up and in bandages. Except for the good decision not to get on a bike at your age and ride like a demon fool, this is also an unavoidable deterrent. But the objective is to move it to the manageable category. So you go out and buy a copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking and you start to dictate your words onto the screen. Now the deterrent is manageable.

Of course, avoidable deterrents offer more latitude. You don’t have to deal with them at all. There are people who take great care in demoralizing your writing dream. You have the option to remove them from your circle completely. (God forbid this article fuels thoughts of divorce.). This is very important because each person has a threshold of tolerance, a point where repeated messages alter their perception of truth. There will come a point where you actually believe you don’t stand a chance. Maybe you don’t. But this realization should come from within, not from without. We used to read about the famous old writers going off to their winter cottage to write. Now you understand the principal they employed. They were protecting their minds.

Rule #3: Give yourself a chance to win.

After so much rejection, your mind needs a chance to hear something positive. That means getting involved in a situation where someone appreciates your talent. Go read at the senior citizen’s home. Help young writing students at the YMCA. Do a free article in a newsletter. Give people a chance to balance the perpetual bombardment of negative news, swirling around in your head, with something positive.

Before my father died, he let me in on a profound secret. He had wanted to go to work on the Alaskan pipeline. It was one of the few places in the world where color didn’t matter and he could earn a decent wage. But people talked him out of it. And so he took that deep sense of regret to his grave.

His message to me, and now, mine to you is simple. Protect your mind. You are a great writer until further notice. And that notice has to come from you.

The Fake Signer at Mandela’s Funeral

It’s unfortunate that so much attention was paid to the fake signer at Mandela’s funeral, one of the greatest leaders of our time. But such is the current cynical nature of humankind. Our minds are prepped for disaster, a complex way of thinking and filtering that dominates our frontal lobe and enhances our ability to get through the uncertainty of each day. It’s like a shield of negativity that protects us from the worst case scenario by preparing us to expect it and then through the repetition of saying it and hearing it, dilutes its sting.


So we don’t talk so much about President Obama’s historic inauguration but rather we focus on Beyonce’s lip sync; not about some dying cancer patient getting treatment, but rather the healthcare website going down; not about the great catch in the final seconds of the Superbowl, but rather Janet Jackson’s breast falling out.

Although it seems like a scene taken straight out of Psych, the elevated discussion of the fake signer is part of a complex mitigation process attached to our society’s ability to cope with constant uncertainty. It’s how we have learned to survive, by bringing it up, beating it down and slowly transforming it into today’s normality.

The Innate Repetitiveness of Mankind … Will We Ever Learn?

My private thoughts today have been on the innate repetitiveness of mankind. I’ve been working with Google Analytics all day, bombarded by words like incognito windows, primary dimensions and asynchronous tracking, and now I’m talking funny. LOL

Innate repetitiveness simply means a built-in predisposition to do the same thing over and over again. Because of the lavish lifestyles of the rich, at the expense of everyone else, the Maya civilization crumbled. Just before the stock market crash and Great Depression of 1929, the oil barons and railroad magnates controlled politicians who sponsored sweetheart deals and skewed laws to enhance the position of the wealthy and drain dry the rest of the population.

Today we have the same elements at play. The elite classes of millionaires and billionaires are fully aware of the growing divide between the rich and the poor. But because of their sense of entitlement, and their need for one more vacation house and one more Picasso and one more Rolls-Royce, they pursue policies of exclusion and suppression. They pay their congressional henchmen to block any legislation that might level the playing field. The freedom of capitalism is always a good rallying cry to justify the status quo, unless they need a bailout.

Remember a few years back before the current administration came to office? Banks could charge you a fee on top of a fee on top of a fee. Credit card companies could call you up out of the blue and double your interest rate. Credit rating agencies could refuse to remove erroneous information from your report … unless you paid a fee. For years, in many small towns in the South, officials working at the courthouse were literally taking poor, illiterate people’s land.

And how many of America’s middle-class workers are currently being bullied and abused, but have nowhere to turn because essentially all of the major unions have been busted? The boss says, “This is your work and this is your pay … unless I decide to overload you with more work, and don’t ask about the pay. Take it or leave it.”

Now here’s the irony. The more money middle-class workers have, the more they’ll spend on the billionaires’ products and services. Henry Ford realized this and paid his workers more so they could buy his Model-T Ford. Billionaire Warren Buffett, one of the most brilliant businessmen in the world, is a proponent of the same middle-class empowerment strategy.

So you would think the rich and powerful would pursue these secretly self-serving strategies to put more money in their customer’s pocket. If I were rich, and the Sequester was eroding consumer confidence and holding back the economy, I would gladly pay a small percentage increase in taxes to get the economy rolling again so people could buy more from me. Instead, they pursue a narrow minded policy of “throw out Obama … Okay, we couldn’t do that so block all of his policies good or bad … hold off on hiring, tried to impose as much misery as possible upon the masses, and maybe they’ll blame the Democrats, and we can get back into office and reimpose the status quo — that status quo that made us richer and everyone else poorer.

The high living of the elite and suppression of the masses is a recurring example of innate repetitiveness. I wonder. How long will it take for our civilization to fall?

Someone in the Warehouse is Stealing. Do We Catch Them with Analytical Thinking or Synthetical Thinking?

What is the difference?  And why does it matter?

First, let’s define both. In the simplest of terms, analytical thinking is the process of coming to a conclusion by analyzing a “whole” or complete part to decipher meaning through the separation of that part. Melting down steel to identify its chemical ingredients, or breaking open a pecan to see what kind of nut is inside would be good examples of analytical thinking. We seek knowledge by separating the whole.

On the other hand, synthetical thinking involves gaining knowledge through the process of combining individual parts. A jury, for instance, may not have been at the scene of the crime when the defendant allegedly committed the murder. However, through synthetical thinking, they are able to piece together the various testimonies, forensics and other evidence to reach a conclusion. The same holds true during the development cycle of new products. No one really knows whether the item is going to sell. However, combining many pieces of critical evidence such as consumer trends, competitive market share, available financing and organizational competencies produce a “synthetical probability” for success or failure.

Innovation of a new machine is synthetical. Pinpointing why the machine is not operating correctly is analytical. Both methods are critical to the entrepreneur, but at different times. Sometimes the owner may be trying to choose the right individual to oversee a particular project. Unaware of the different applications of thinking, he or she might engage in the wrong approach. It would be easy to start analyzing the potential candidates rather than engaging in a synthetical process which considers individual competencies, along with the goals and objectives at hand. You don’t want to analyze the person as much as you want to bring together all the pieces so that you might visualize the big picture and potential interactions within.  On the other hand, if a certain individual gets the job and sales bottom out, you want to analyze or tear down each step in the process to see where the person and/or the system went awry.  Synthetical thinking located Osama bin Laden. Analytical thinking explained why only one helicopter came back.


You should keep in mind synthetical thinking produces a result that is greater than the sum of all the parts. For instance, a tire, engine and steering wheel are not “individually” capable of taking you to the supermarket. Only when these components are combined do we realize the necessary benefits of transportation, benefits that far exceed the capability of each part.

Team collaboration is like that. The contribution of each team member far exceeds the capabilities of the individuals. A powerful “synthetical profile” will emerge that, otherwise, would have been unavailable to you as you sat in your office, stressing over the details without including others. Synthesis is good for you and the entire organization. Use it whenever you can.

Finally, if you haven’t already used synthetical thinking to piece together the evidence and figure it out, the butler did. He’s the one out in the warehouse stealing you blind.