Tag Archives: innovation

On Clay Marzo, Stevie Salas & Our Coming New Look

JUST ADD WATER by Clay Marzo and Robert Yehling copyIt’s been a busy and frenetic last two months in my personal writing world. This includes promoting When We Were The Boys, the memoir on which I collaborated with musician Stevie Salas; doing final caption touch-ups and proofs for Just Add Water, my biography of autistic international surfing star Clay Marzo available for pre-order on Amazon.com now and coming in Summer from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; pumping out proposals for books on which I am collaborating and/or writing (details forthcoming); and editing Innovation & Tech Todayone of the hippest and most diverse new magazines on newsstands and most digital magazine services.

Music. Surfing. Innovation. Three of my favorite things. Now for those books on running and fitness, a memoir, and the book for business, book, journalistic and personal writers that’s made it through some brainstorm sessions…salas cover low res

My webmaster and former Ananda College student, Chitra Sudhakaran, and I have also been overhauling the WordJourneys.com website — and our mission. Part of that will be our new-look WordJourneys.com blog, which will be unveiled Monday (3-2) featuring a fantastic conversation with author and international speaker Kevin Hines. His book, Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving A Suicide Attempt, offers one of the most painful, difficult, and ultimately inspiring and redemptive memoirs I have ever had the pleasure to edit. When a man jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge and is served up his greater life and soul purpose during the four-second plunge into frigid San Francisco Bay… well, you do the math. It’s an incredible book,  in its 20th printing just two years after its release. You are not going to want to miss this interview.

You’ll also see excerpts from Just Add Water and my long-awaited novel, Voices, which will release later in 2015.ITTodayWinter2014 cover

On our new-look blog, we will be incorporating a few new things, a stylistic reflection of my 2009 book, The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Expand and Fulfill Your Writing Life:

1) Inspiring quotes from writers, entertainers, artists, musicians, and other creatives

2) Resources for further exploration

3) Spot interviews with authors, thinkers, educators, and leaders

4) Book reviews

5) Perspectives on technology, fitness, health, the arts, education, STEM, and other subjects of interest to writers and creative artists

6) Excerpts from my books, as well as clients

7) Links to pieces and special service offers on WordJourneys.com, and client websites

8) Social Media services of the month (not only the Big Five — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube —  but many other sites)

9) An expanded blogroll

10) More opportunities for you to comment and/or guest post

11) Prompts, exercises, and tips from well-published authors, and creative and leadership

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We’ve always had an eye out for our clients and other writers and creatives on this blog. Now, we will expand that, as part of our mission to showcase the lifestyle of writing and insight of the authors, as well as the final product.

Back to you on New-Look Monday!

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Why Boston Rules The World: Musing on My Run in the Marathon

(This blog also posted today on the Innovation & Tech Today magazine website; I serve as the editor of the magazine.)

UnknownSome quick thoughts on the convergence of running, technology, and one of the greatest and most inspiring sports events to ever take place …

I just returned to San Diego from Boston, where I ran in my fourth Boston Marathon. This year, the 26.2-mile journey from Hopkinton to Boston’s Back Bay took on far more meaning, gravitas and stature than any previous marathon, here or anywhere else in the world.

When April began, I was planning to run Boston – in 2015. I was eight weeks into a 16-week training plan that would culminate in re-qualifying at the Rock & Roll Marathon on June 1. So, my intention was to be race-ready and to peak on June 1. Not that I had time to do it any other way. I’ve spent this month finishing the rewrite of one book (Just Add Water, the biography of Clay Marzo to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Spring 2015); proofing the galleys of another (When We Were The Boys, Stevie Salas’ memoir [which I co-authored] of his days as Rod Stewart’s lead guitarist on the 1988 Out of Order Tour, to be published by Rowman Littlefield in September); and lining up the Summer issue of Innovation & Tech Today.

However, an amazing email came my way that proves, again, the absolute power of networking in business and in life: four-time Boston champion Bill Rodgers, who is a friend, offered me his invitational entry. So, with 12 days’ notice, I switched gears and flew back east, taking my not-quite-ready-for-prime-time legs with me.2014-04-21 09.17.35

Thanks to last year’s tragic bombings, the entire world watched to see what would happen in Boston. More than 1,000 media outlets were on hand, along with 36,000 registered runners and a crowd exceeding 1 million. They came to honor the survivors who were running or walking, to take that glorious run to the finish line down Boylston Street themselves, and/or to celebrate determination and resilience – and to stare down those cowards who would try to disrupt our way of life. In this case, a massive celebration of fitness at the world’s oldest footrace, one that poured an estimated $200 million into Boston. Not bad for a three-day Patriot’s Day weekend.

I ran Boston before large crowds in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Never has the crowd approached the fever pitch we experienced in 2014. “For a few hours, we got to feel like rock stars,” I told my friend, Stevie Salas, who is a rock star. We were treated like rock stars, too, from police who high-fived and thanked us for coming, to strangers in cafes and restaurants who saw the distinctive medals around our tired necks and bought us meals or drinks.

images-1Along with runners, media and spectators came one of the largest rollouts of law enforcement and surveillance technology ever presented at a public event. More than 3,500 uniformed and undercover officers from a dozen agencies (including the FBI, DEA, ATF and Homeland Security) were on hand. They were vigilant, their eyes always scanning the streets; they reminded me of Secret Service agents. A few locals even questioned the massive police presence (really?). However, the police were not only very friendly, but also openly thanked us for coming to Boston to run, then started asking individual questions about our race. In their eyes, we were all in this together.

The cops’ sincerity and welcoming attitude amidst incredible security goes on from there. As we pushed toward the finish line, many high-fived us and cheered as loudly as the spectators. A Brookline cop leaned toward me at mile 24, when I was visibly struggling, and yelled, “You’re f****** awesome! Keep pushing! Own the finish line!” Talk about being caught up in the moment. (BTW, thanks to that officer for getting me going again…)

I’ve been to a lot of sports events. I’ve never seen anything like it. They were over-the-top accommodating. My spine is tingling just writing this — one of many times it’s tingled as the enormity of the journey into Boston starts to open up each and every little experience as the days pass.

Early in the race, I ran next to two of about fifteen NYPD officers in the field. Before passing them (one of the things you can do on a race course, if not on the road!), I mentioned how cool it was that they were running. “We’re also on duty,” one told me. How smart is that, to have fifteen on-duty officers in the middle of the pack?

The technology was impressive. Drones, streetlight-mounted cameras, scanners, robots and the latest in law enforcement equipment covered every bit of the course. Before we boarded shuttle busses to the start, we runners were scanned, too. So sensitive was the scanning that I was questioned about a tube of chapstick and two packs of energy gels. Normally, one might think, “over reach”. Not in Boston. Not this time.

Consequently, out of one million people who poured into the Boston area and along the course, one person was arrested. For public drunkenness. And only two unattended bags were picked up (neither harmful). That is a mind-boggling statistic.images

The other bit of eye-catching technology came from the running shoes themselves. If you ever want to see the very latest in shoe technology, go to the staging area or starting line of a marathon. Especially a prestigious race like Boston.  Every new shoe from every major manufacturer was on the line. You would think marathon shoes would carry some weight, since you need cushion, heel and arch support, side stabilizers and aeration to cover 26 miles, right? Not five years ago, the lightest halfway decent marathon racing flat was about eight ounces. Well, I showed up with 5-ounce Mizuno Wave Sayonaras… and didn’t suffer so much as a blister on the hot, dry day.

However, the shoe story of the day came from a company not normally considered a player among running shoes. It was Skechers, more popular for their Joe Montana-endorsed (and very good) walking shoes. A few years ago, Skechers made an interesting move when they signed then 35-year-old Olympic medalist and New York Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi to an endorsement deal. Meb, a San Diego resident, was a household name to millions of runners but seemingly past his prime, a good way for Skechers to make an imprint in a very lucrative market with plenty of turnover. Let’s face it: runners go through shoes almost as fast as Lady Gaga switches hairstyles and outfits.

Unknown-1 A funny thing happened in Boston: Meb made the largest imprint U.S. marathoning has experienced since Alberto Salazar broke the world record in 1982 and Joan Benoit Samuelson won the inaugural women’s Olympic marathon in LA in 1984. Now 38, Meb became the first American in 31 years to win Boston, a victory magnified by the significance of this year’s race. Now everyone in the sports world is asking themselves, “What technology did Skechers build into those shoes to make someone as esteemed as Meb feel comfortable enough to race in them?” (And no, it wasn’t just about the money side of his endorsement deal; ask golfer Rory McIlroy what happens when the new equipment doesn’t work right.)

That’s the beauty of running shoe technology: just when you think it’s tapped out, something new happens. Just three years ago, Newton was known as a town on the Boston course, the place where a fig bar was invented, and the last name of a mathematician who was clunked on the head with an apple. Now, it’s one of the three top-selling brands.

It’s going to take awhile to recollect every moment of the six days I spent in Boston, and the events surrounding the Marathon itself. Thank God I’m a writer: I can write down the moments and then unfurl the scenes as they happened, and how I felt.  I can recollect all the conversations with runners, officials, fans, media and cops, and turn on my memoir writing afterburners to make some sense and order of them. On second thought, maybe I don’t want to, at least not yet. It’s like picking stars out of the universe. Right now, best to immerse in that universe where, for one day, everyone came together and joy and positivity ruled.

2014-04-28 05.58.09

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Innovation & Technology Today: A New Adventure in Digital Media

During this barnburner of a writing year, I took on the editor’s position at a publication that brings my loves of innovation (all entrepreneurs should bne innovators!) and technology together with digital publishing  — Information & Technology Today Magazine, published by my friend Charles Warner’s company, Innovation Properties Worldwide, out of Denver, CO.

it today cover lo-resOur premiere digital issue came out last week, and is available on Zinio and Apple newsstands. To get the ball of subscribers and readers rolling, it’s on sale for just 99 cents on Zinio. You can read it on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Its digital enhancements really come to life on tablets.

Innovation & Technology Today grew from The Legacy Series Magazine, which I edited last fall and which made a big splash at MacWorld/iWorld 2013. The areas of innovation and technology not only continue to grow rapidly, but they serve as the undercurrent of both business development and the way of ingenuity and independence that has come to define doing business in the U.S. Consequently, our magazine is fun, colorful, full of great links – and highly informative.

The magazine features a rich mix of editorial. This includes regular features and updates on green technology, digital publishing, social networking, communications, security, education, women in technology and new products. We also sprinkled the magazine with metrics, statistics and infographics, again keeping the emphasis on enjoyable reading. For this issue’s women in technology piece, written by Lisa Lunney, we focused on two of the world’s most powerful women, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, author of the runaway bestseller Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. 

The core of each issue is the theme-based feature section. We are taking about one-third of the editorial well to deeply address business areas that are either booming or of major consequence to lives and our economic futures. For the Spring-Summer issue currently on sale, we focused on Smart Home Technology. For the upcoming Summer-Fall issue, we will switch to Sports & Medical Technology. Our Fall-Winter issue will showcase Green Technology & Energy.

In Innovation & Technology, we continued a series of conversations with leaders and innovators that we started with The Legacy Series Magazine.  This time around, we interviewed Al Choperena of the smart home technology provider Smartenit, John Clements of Mitsubishi Electric, Michael Sykes of Enertia Homes, and a pair of authors with major street cred, Twitter Revolution co-author Warren Whitlock and App Nation author Brad Adams of Sunstone Publishing Group, who helps small businesses customize their apps – a major growth area for the next several years. Our guest contributor this issue was Chris Voss, one of Forbes Magazine’s Top 50 Social Media Influencers in the U.S.

I had more fun with this project than with any magazine work in years. I dove headlong into the world of digital publishing, and more specifically, of how to enhance content to animate it for the reader. What we need to remember about working with online content or digital publications (books, magazines, etc.) is that readers want an experience. They don’t merely want the same word-reading exercise they would get from print books or magazines. They want to be taken further.

That’s where links came in. I made it a point to choose our links selectively in Innovation & Technology Today, because, let’s face it – when you choose this title for a publication, you’d better be forward-thinking with your application of digital publishing technology! So we embedded videos, infographics that move, articles  from unusual or under-utilized sources that took readers deeper and broader from the central piece, photo galleries that further tell the story, and also pathways to chat rooms, social networking groups or resources where they can interact with the newsmakers, movers and shakers mentioned in the pieces.

Our goal is simple: if you read the magazine, we want you to receive a thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining, educational and enligtening experience. Enjoyable-Entertaining-Educational-Enlightening. Those should be the 4E’s of any digital publishing endeavor that moves beyond Smashwords-produced e-books, which are text-only.

So I hope you will zip over to Zinio newsstand and pick up a copy of Innovation & Technology Today, and let me know what you think about it. While you’re thinking about, also stop by the magazine’s Facebook page and Like it!

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On Dharma Bums, Eternity, Legacies & Champions: Publishing Highlights of 2012

Happy New Year!

Time to clean off the desk after a busy, eventful 2012…

Headshot- for proposalFirst of all, a big congratulations to my sweetheart, Martha Halda, whose memoir, A Taste of Eternity, is now at book proposal and agent stage.

Martha first thought of writing this book while recovering from a horrendous 1999 car accident in which she was pronounced clinically dead three times — and had a profound Near Death Experience that has defined her physical and spiritual life since.  To give you an idea of how far she has come from that accident? After her family was initially told she would be an invalid for the rest of her life, she went on to complete the 2002 Dublin Marathon, and lives a healthy, robust life today.

Now, she’s written the first three chapters of A Taste of Eternity, and looking forward to a 2013 publish date. Martha has also started a blog, in which she’ll share a few stories from the book and how her daily life continues to be touched by those precious minutes she spent directly in God’s hands.

• • •

Between Christmas and New Year’s, I picked up a very interesting project: to write a Cliff Notes-type “specimen” for Barnes & Noble.  The book in question? One of my all-time favorite novels, The Dharma Bums. Once again, interest in the Beat generation and author Jack Kerouac is flying through the roof, this time because of the December 21 film release of On The Road, Kerouac’s breakthrough novel. When Kristen Stewart is one of the three lead actors (she plays Marylou), the movie figures to draw attention for younger moviegoers. Many will likely turn to the rich soil of Beat literature, which continues to speak to the young, disenfranchised, soul and purpose seekers.

However, The Dharma Bums project excites me for another reason. In the decade since the last time I read the 1958 autobiographical novel about Kerouac’s the dharma bumsawakening to nature and Buddhism, I’ve gotten to know the real-life Japhy Ryder, the novel’s protagonist. With this book, Kerouac turned mountain man-Buddhist-poet-conversationalist extraordinaire Gary Snyder into a cultural hero and the leader of the “rucksack revolution”, a good 15 years before Gary won the Pulitzer Prize for Turtle Island.  What amazes me is how little Kerouac deviated from Gary’s voice and character in what was supposed to be a fictional character. Every time I read Japhy Ryder’s dialogue, I could hear Gary expounding on something or another during the many times we would get together in Northern California. The actions, the convictions, the interests, the profound knowledge and wisdom … all Gary. And to think: he was only 25 when he and Kerouac had the experiences that formed the backbone of The Dharma Bums.

Ever read a novel where you personally know the protagonist? I hadn’t, either. It certainly creates a different experience, one that I hope will add reading insight for the Barnes & Noble customers who pick up this treatment later in 2013.

• • •

photoAlso on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, and newsstands throughout the country, is The Legacy Series Magazine. I was privileged to help conceptualize this magazine, as well as edit it. We began with a tribute to the late Steve Jobs and his enormous legacy to businesses and consumers (besides masterminding Apple products, he facilitated change or the creation of eight industries). Then we talked to some of the most visionary people and leading innovators in technology today, including Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank co-star Mark Cuban, GE Senior VP Beth Comstock, bestselling author Ken Segall, Zinio Executive VP Jeanniey Mullen, Chris Voss of The Chris Voss Show, Ask.com co-founder (and my old high school friend) David Warthen, and iPhone Film Fest winner Craig Perkins.

We also wrote compelling features on the present and future courses of social media, filmmaking, technology, publishing, crowdfunding, music, green technology and cloud computing. All of these pieces brought out what I love most about fine magazine journalism: Great interviews, great insights, explanation of new concepts, and the writers’ distinct abilities to inject their personal experience and the stories of others into the material they were covering. You want to know what’s coming next in these areas? Get the mag.

The Legacy Series Magazine will be featured at MacWorld/iWorld in San Francisco in three weeks. We have a major announcement pending on possible multiple issues, but we will always produce the large annual publication in the fall.

• • •

TCW_r2_ecover-loresI also had the privilege of serving as co-author to Dr. Steve Victorson in The Champion’s Way. Steve and I spent three years gathering materials and writing this book, which revolves entirely around groundbreaking research Steve did in the late 1990s for his doctoral dissertation at Boston University. In that research, he interviewed more than 40 national, world and Olympic ski champions and top performers, and found 11 distinct characteristics in common between champions. These 11 characteristics are not found in any other books on the subject.

We put Steve’s findings to the test with champions in all sports — and they rang true, in every case. Thus, The Champion’s Way’s 200 pages explore the inner and outer qualities of champions, look at nearly 100 repeat winners in 15 different sports, and point out specific ways in which all of us can develop, sharpen and refine our own latent championship qualities. Besides plenty of great sports anecdotes, the lasting value of The Champion’s Way is how the 11 common characteristics can create top performance in our lives, no matter our vocation, sport or interest.

The Champion’s Way is available through bookstores nationwide, and in both print and Kindle form on Amazon.com.

 

 

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Meeting An Old Friend Who Pioneered (Re)Search Engines

Serendipitous moments always create great opportunities for conversation, ideas, and new revelations. They also create great stories.

On September 28, I was inducted into the Hall of Fame of my alma mater, Carlsbad (CA) High School, for my work in publishing, journalism, writing, teaching and sports coaching. While waiting with a crowd of 3,000 for the ceremony to begin, I turned around — and right behind me, also awaiting induction, was one of the great pioneers in information technology, David Warthen.

Carlsbad High School principal Matt Steitz (far left ) with CHS Hall of Fame inductees: (L-R) Doug Haubert, Patti Regan, David Warthen and Bob Yehling.

Among technology engineers, David is a living legend. In 1996, he created the world’s first common-language search engine, AskJeeves.com (now Ask.com), which flung open the doors through which Yahoo! and Google later stormed. After he sold Ask.com, in 2004, he joined the video technology company GlobalStreams, where he served as Chief Technology Officer — the same year he founded Eye Games, a webcam-based children’s video game company. He then went on to become CTO of InfoSearchMedia and to sit on the board of directors of the search site Kozoru.

AskJeeves.com was as visionary and revolutionary as any online service — ever. Consider that in 1996, business people were just getting used to the idea of email and browsing websites. The vast majority of businesses didn’t even have websites. America Online was king of the fledgling hill. The dot-com boom hadn’t happened yet, and search engines were the province of academia and the technology world. Warthen changed that by creating a service, named for one of his favorite literary characters, British author/humorist P.G. Wodehouse’s “Jeeves,” that allowed users to ask questions and receive answers. It connected the Internet in a way that had never been seen before, and made the Internet a valuable resource and reference tool for millions. In many ways, it paved the way for the everyday online experience.

David and I graduated from Carlsbad High one year apart; he in 1976, myself in 1977. His younger sister, Diane, and I were co-editors of Spindrift, the high school’s literary journal. Even in high school, one could see the potential that David’s keen intelligence and out-of-the-box viewpoints might unleash. When I first heard he was the man behind AskJeeves.com, I marveled at his career from afar. I certainly used it a lot while editing a wide variety of magazines and websites — and, later, for book research.

This summer, while preparing our editorial presentation for The Legacy Series Magazine, which I edit, I decided that we needed this technology visionary in our publication — not only for his accomplishments, but for his laser-sharp vision on the future of IT’s relationship with our lives and our economy.

David Warthen and Bob Yehling

So it was a wonderful treat to share the stage with him at a truly honoring event. We also had a couple of catch-up conversations, during which I realized just how much of an innovator and visionary this man is. Whatever he touches not only succeeds, but also changes the playing field in its sector, whether search engines (AskJeeves.com), video technology (GlobalStreams), or children’s video games (Eye Games). At 54, he has plenty of creative years ahead, and his finger is firmly on the pulse of tomorrow.

In November, we will be featuring David in The Legacy Series Magazine, which will be distributed internationally as a print magazine, tablet publication, online publication and Mobile App. I have the great pleasure of conducting the interview and writing the story of not only a treasure in our recent technological history, but a man who truly cares about your computer user experience — and mine.

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