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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Feb 8, 2019

Mark interviews James Fell, the author of The Holy Shit Moment: How Lasting Change Can Happen in An Instant about his new book.

This episode comes with a special offer. If you comment on the show at (Episode 60) in the first week, your name will be entered into a random draw for winning a copy of the book. The choice of the format (Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook) will be decided by the winner.  (Please note this podcast is airing Feb 8, 2019)

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a bit of a personal update, which includes mention of his trip to Superstars Writing Seminars this week as well as a brief word about the episode's corporate sponsor,  Findaway Voices . . .

. . . you can learn more at


In their conversation, Mark and James talk about:

  • The approach James takes when it comes to merging research, attitude and humor in the different articles and columns he writes
  • Where and when the submit matter of an article seems to naturally call for profanity
  • How a cold call (and not following the "standard advice" on the matter) led to a role as a bi-weekly columnist for the La Times
  • The dopamine rush that comes with the recognition of progress
  • The length of time and the amount of work it takes to make it as a writer
  • James' first book, Lose it Right, which sold only to a publisher in Canada (Random House Canada)
  • The decision to write a book within the system of the markets that went beyond fitness and weight loss while maintaining a consistent moral code
  • How there are plenty of self-help books out there that are absolute crap
  • Being goal and motivation oriented
  • Early positive feedback already received on the book and the personal revelations shared from early and beta readers
  • How the book idea came to James in the middle of a long bike ride
  • The concept of System 1 and System 2 from Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Malcolm Gladwell as an example of an author who drilled down in a narrow and focused way into a specific subject within common knowlege, including reference to science and insightful anecdotes
  • The concept of making this a "how to" book about making insights/epiphanies happen
  • The outreach for personal stories and the series of interviews with field experts on the topic
  • How running is a creative process for James
  • The two important elements: 1) The open-ness to the belief that this (a transformative event) can happen 2) Analysis followed by distraction
  • Giving yourself the opportunity for an ephiphany to arrive after first setting the stage by asking questions
  • The importance of being comfortable turning distractions completely off and engaging with nature for arriving at these types of scenarios (looking out the window rather than reading or listening to music)
  • What "shower thoughts" are and why they are important
  • The great value of a "walk in nature"
  • The wave of emotion that comes when "the answer" arrives
  • How we struggle with making "baby steps" because we are not inspired - more likely we felt like it was something we "had to do"
  • The challenging process of recording the audiobook, which was different than any of the radio or speaking experience James has had
  • Recording the audiobook in a music studio that was most often used for "death metal"
  • The four seven-hour days of recording the book and how exhausting the experience was

After the interview Mark reflects on how writers can often experience revelations or sudden insights related to the characters in the books and stories they are writing. He also comments on the Thoreau-like perspective Fell shares, about the importance of walking in nature.

Links of Interest:



James Fell, MA, MBA, is a motivation, health, and fitness writer for the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. He has written extensively for Chatelaine and, and authored pieces in TIME Magazine, the Guardian, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and many other publications. He has a massive and highly engaged following on Facebook and Twitter, and his blog, Body For Wife, has millions of visitors a year. He is also the author of Lose It Right. He lives in Calgary, AB.


The music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0