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THE WRITE STUFF: Official Newsletter of Word Journeys Inc. and Robert Yehling

V 20, N 1 • January, 2016

Celebrating 20 Years of Serving Authors, Publishers & The Written Word 

WELCOME!

Welcome to the 20th anniversary of Word Journeys, Inc. In 1996, I started the company to provide editorial services to magazines and corporate publications. Soon, my goals and the company shifted into the book world, where we have camped since 1999, providing writing, ghostwriting, editing, marketing, promotion, and publicity consulting services to authors, editors, agents, and publishers. We will provide this newsletter of stories, links, and specials to our Google + readers, and mailing list. We cover everything concerning the works of Robert Yehling, Word Journeys clients, and related publishing activities and events. Beginning in February, past issues will be archived on our website, www.wordjourneys.com.

HOT OFF THE PRESSES…

2016: The Year of the Writer

We’re declaring 2016 the year of the writer, and are re-releasing a pair of books to commemorate: The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life; and Writes of Life: Using Personal Experiences in Everything You Write. Both books are being published in second edition by Open Books Press of Bloomington, IN. The Write Time is now available, while Writes of Life will soon be available for pre-order on Amazon.com, and will be published in mid-April.

The Write Time features a different exercise for every day of the year — and a story to enhance it. All genres and styles are covered. This is perfect jump-start material if you’re stuck or just need some fresh creative juice. Used in writing conferences, colleges, high schools, and by many published authors. Links to more than 125 top writing and reading websites. http://amzn.to/1O2skaG

Robert Yehling, Martha Brookhart Halda to appear on Write NOW! TV show

Robert Yehling and Martha Brookhart Halda will talk about the writing life, and how they’ve collaborated, on Write NOW!, a TV program in Orange County, CA. The show will air Friday, January 22. Yehling will discuss his various works, while Halda will talk about the German launch of A Taste of Eternity, her remarkable story, and the book’s forthcoming release in the United States. The show hosts are author/publisher Charles Redner, and Judy Saxon.

Just Add Water a Finalist for Dolly Gray Literature Award

Just Add Water is a finalist for the Dolly Gray Literature Award, given to the top family-oriented book with autism themes. It joins ten other finalists for the prestigious award, which is followed by all of the autism organizations and schools. The ceremony is January 25 in Tampa, FL. For more information: http://daddcec.org/Awards/DollyGrayAwards.aspx

The Hummingbird Review: Michael Blake, E.E. King, memoirists featured

The writing of personal story serves as a theme of the winter-spring edition of The Hummingbird Review, now available through bookstores and online. Featured contributors include the late Academy Award-winning Dances With Wolves author/screenwriter Michael Blake, fictionist-poet and Ray Bradbury protégé E.E. King, novelist W. Thompson Ong, Beat-era poet Michael C. Ford, an interview with guided autobiography facilitator Sheri Kohlmann, and the first excerpt of Martha Halda’s memoir A Taste of Eternity to be published in English. Plus more than 60 poems and essays from a dozen nations. Just $10. Order yours! http://amzn.to/1VohQIp

Appearance at Just Add Water at L.A. Times Festival of Books

Robert Yehling will be discussing the development and writing of Just Add Water at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, the nation’s second largest book festival, which takes place April 9-10 on the USC campus in Los Angeles. He will be signing both after the presentation and in a booth on-site. In 2015, more than 150,000 attended the event. Stay tuned for more details. http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/

FROM OUR CLIENTS

  • Brandon Cruz, star of the smash late 1960s/early 1970s sitcom The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, and I are shopping a pair of titles we’ve been developing for a year, one The Courtship of Eddie, his memoir; and the other a deep look at his work as one of the nation’s foremost alcohol-addiction recovery specialists. Both books are packed with powerful, emotional stories, messages of great hope, and Brandon’s entertaining storytelling style, laced with his sharp wit and insights. Stay tuned…
  • Cracked, Not Broken author Kevin Hines had quite a thrill on January 9, when he spoke at a White House conference on men’s health. Kevin is busily preparing a documentary about his story and speaking engagements worldwide; look for a second book by 2017. http://amzn.to/1Gle6Sf
  • Jeff Emmerson’s long-awaited book, Beyond ADHD, is making the publishing rounds through agent Dana Newman. Emmerson looks beyond the conventional ADHD protocols in this riveting work that combines personal story and the insights of more than 20 medical, neurological, and therapeutic experts. Its findings are not only revolutionary — but potentially transformative. View his Beyond ADHD blog at http://bit.ly/1Rk2lCt
  • Motocross racing fans of a certain age… Remember Gary Wells, the racing and jumping phenom of the 1970s and 1980s? The man who routinely outjumped Evel Knievel for years? As Gary celebrates his 60th birthday this year, his story, Closure, is on its way to publication, thanks to author Tyler Anderson, himself a champion racer. This is a no-holds-barred biography at the up and down sides of America’s love affair with one prodigy and his prowess on a bike, during the biggest 15-year period in U.S. motorcycle racing history. https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=gary%20wells%20closure

FEATURED TITLES

ON THE WORD JOURNEYS BLOG

How Just Add Water Was Written: Behind the Scenes Story: http://wp.me/p8UUi-hB

BLOG OF THE MONTH

Kristen Lamb’s Blog is annually selected one of the Top 100 writers blogs by Writer’s Digest. Not only is it packed with resourceful materials for writers, but readers will delight in all of its behind-the-scenes features. This is a MUST blog to add to your blogroll. https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com

WORD JOURNEYS SPECIALS

Service: 20% off editing of your next book! We’ll bring your manuscript to a publish-ready polish, as we have done with more than 150 others. All genres. Email ryehling@wordjourneys.com. Through Feb. 29.

Product: $5 off hard-cover, signed copies of Just Add Water: A Surfing Savant’s Journey with Asperger’s, the biography of autistic surfing great Clay Marzo. Shipped direct from author. Email: ryehling@wordjourneys.com. Through Jan. 31.

WRITING/READING TIP OF THE MONTH

“Reach into your bookshelf and grab twenty titles of any kind. Read the first paragraphs of each, quickly and in succession. What pops out? What really grabs your eye? How did the writer grab you? Now return to your work, and in the spirit of what you have just read and compared, make your sentences pop and snap.” — From The Write Time, by Robert Yehling

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The Creative Person’s Greatest Resource: Gratitude

Often in our professions, we lose sight of the people who make it possible for us to work: our customers. While owners, directors, vice-presidents or managers might hire us, they would not have the opportunity or the means to bring us aboard were it not for the people who buy their products or services.

Call it gratitude. In the writing, music, film, fine arts and performing arts professions, it means one thing: being forever thankful to our audiences.

In the past couple of weeks, I have heard and seen gratitude expressed by two men who couldn’t be more different in their professions or career directions: bestselling science fiction author David Brin, and

Southern California Writer's Conference keynote speaker David Brin (photo by Gayle Carline)

Southern California Writer’s Conference keynote speaker David Brin (photo by Gayle Carline)

musician Stevie Salas. The spirit of sci-fi’s greatest 20th century voice, Ray Bradbury, even came along for the ride. Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Man, I Sing the Body Electric and other classics, died last year at age 92.

Brin gave the prime-time keynote at the Southern California Writer’s Conference in San Diego last weekend: the banquet speech. On a weekend filled with workshops, keynotes, breakout sessions, presentations to agents, read-and-critique discussions and high-octane networking, Brin’s message might have been the best: always be thankful to the audience; in this case, the readers. They make it possible for professional writers to write.

“Ray Bradbury used to say that the worst sin is ingratitude,” Brin said. “When someone buys a book that you wrote, they give you the opportunity to write some more instead of working in another way for money. Always thank your readers. Treat them for what they are: the most important people of all to the success of your book.”

The gratitude oozed from Brin as he mixed a wonderful discussion on his writing and scientific life with plentiful humor. The winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Campbell and Locus awards has written nearly 30 books, including the bestseller The Postman and his newest, Existence. He is a living legend in the sci-fi world, along with Alan Dean Foster and others who carry the torch ignited by their heroes – Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Frank Herbert, to name a few.

Brin’s passion for his readers, however, burns brightest. And he delivers. What does he consider the primary goal of a book? “You want your reader to throw your book out the window and dive after it,” he said.

That’s commitment to a grateful audience.

• • •

One of the top modern exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution: Stevie Salas

One of the top modern exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution: Stevie Salas

Another example-setter for artistic gratitude is Stevie Salas. His guitar talents and music (20 albums and counting) make him iconic in Europe, Canada and Japan, while keeping him very busy and popular in the U.S. Stevie, who like me grew up in Carlsbad, might belong to one of the most exclusive clubs around: people who have not burned bridges or pissed off others in the music and recording industry. Stevie is so highly respected that he’s now the Contemporary Music Advisor to the Smithsonian Institution. “I still don’t really know how that happened,” he says. “I was lucky.”

That’s the humility and gratitude of someone who produces culturally and music-based TV shows and videos, sits in or produces recording sessions, lays down his own tracks and performs in sold-out concerts worldwide with one thing in mind: delivering to his audiences. He flies around North America like a supercharged thunderbird, keeping up with his many projects to bring more music and musically based entertainment to more people. He doesn’t have to do it; years of playing beside Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, plus his solo projects, have made it so he could just record his way through the rest of this life.

“I’ve never really done anything just for the money,” he says. With most, you’d pull out the BS meter and watch it spike. He’s sincere – and his career reflects it.

Stevie thrives on helping others and connecting people to music. He’s helped “discover” or further the careers of many musicians (as Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters well knows), contributed to projects without credit, and always sought to share music with the masses. This comes right down to his popular app, Rockstar Solos, designed to give users the experience he’s had for the past 25 years.

Consequently, he is one of the best liked people in the music industry. Not surprising, when you know him. Or when he starts rattling off stories. You just know, as he talks, that every musician he references – a Who’s Who list of the past 45 years – is a friend who he has thanked at some point. Stevie lives in a state of gratitude.

Speaking of 25 years … did you know we’re approaching the 25th anniversary of Stevie’s breakthrough, when he launched from his popular North San Diego County party band, This Kids, to playing guitar on Rod Stewart’s 1988-89 World Tour? Or, as he puts it, “I remember driving past the (San Diego) Sports Arena, seeing Rod Stewart was coming and not being able to pay for it. Then a couple years later, I’m on stage at San Diego Stadium when it was sold out.”

You’ll be hearing more about Rod Stewart from us … soon.

Meantime, let’s take a page from David Brin and Stevie Salas, and remember to express our gratitude to our readers, listeners, and the people who buy the products and services we create. It results in developing lifelong audiences, lifelong fans … and such satisfaction that people will jump out of buildings or through hoops to chase what we give them.

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30 Books Every Writer Should Own: The Other 20

Well, good to see that everyone is looking for fun lists for holiday shopping! The “30 Books Every Writer Should Own” blog entry spiked my average reader count for this blog; it was the highest single-day total yet. I thank you all very much!

I’ve already received some wonderful comments, but this one leads to today’s blog: “What books were hardest for you to keep off the Top 30 list?”

Since I took 50 books that have touched me deeply in my writing career – or life – and pared them down to 30, I thought I’d run out the list of the 20 “Very Honorable Mentions.” Keep in mind: this list is incredibly subjective. All of these books belong on every writer’s short list of titles. They continue the theme of how I believe writers should read – roundly, fully, deeply, and interactively.

The Very Honorable Mentions (again, not in any particular order):

The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art, by Joyce Carol Oates: If you could mate pure, distilled wisdom and vision with the intimacy of a deep romance, this book would be the offspring. What a treasure, by one of the greatest writers on the planet.

The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself, by Susan Bell: For most writers, the hardest part of the process comes after you finish writing the draft – editing your work. In my opinion, this is the best book on editing. It contains tips, strategies, counsel from the greatest book editors of the past century, and interviews with top-selling authors. The author’s personal touch makes self-editing very inviting … and I invite you in, because these days, books need to go to publishers very well edited.

Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury: Zen connotes space, presence, serenity, succinctness. All of which you find in Bradbury’s prolific writing style. I was at a signing when science fiction’s greatest living writer toured this book 20 years ago … I’ll never forget his encouraging comments to me. This book remain a treasure.

On Being a Writer, Bill Strickland, ed: I kept this in the Top 30 list until the last moment. A great collection of conversations with our finest authors, who discuss voice, technique and process openly, in a way that every writer can absorb.

Prism of the Night: A Biography of Anne Rice, by Katherine Ransland: One of the most poignant biographies of a living literary figure. Ransland’s book itself is art. It also dives all the way into how tragedy, turmoil, deep suffering and vision created the author who did the impossible – rewrote the legacy of vampires.

The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell: We need to be in contact with the mythologies that formed the archetypes we use in our writing. We also need to know the art of myth-making as storytellers. This book, first published in conjunction with a PBS series in the late 1980s, brings myth into the present. Worthy companion: Mythology, by Edith Hamilton.

Keeping a Journal You Love, by Sheila Bender: A wonderful friend in the writing-teaching community, Sheila has dedicated the last 20 years of her life to helping writers improve their craft. She’s written several books, but this brings home the essence of what it takes to be a compelling writer: Going deep inside, taking your life experiences and world view with you, and percolating wisdom and compassion through journaling. This book erases writer’s block – fast.

The Poet and the Poem, by Judson Jerome: 35 years after its publication, this Writer’s Digest Book remains a landmark on the craft of poetry.

Writing Begins with the Breath, by Laraine Herring: This new release borrows from William Carlos Williams’ philosophy of poetry, which launched the Beat poets movement. Part Buddhism, part instructional … a fine book.

Dare to be a Great Writer: 329 Keys to Powerful Fiction, by Leonard Bishop: Another Writer’s Digest Book, this is one of the most thought-out breakdowns of the fiction writing technique and process.

The Rise of the Creative Class, by Richard Florida: A sociological book on how society, culture, education, timing and the ’60s conspired to form perhaps the most diverse and creative group of people in U.S. history – us. Invaluable reading for better understanding of the Boomers and Gen X – the core book-buying public.

The Literary Journalists, Norman O. Sims, ed.: Another book about the New Journalism movement, which launched the personal memoir and narrative non-fiction as we now know it.

The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson: A classic from its publication in 1979, this book breaks out the sociological network of community, technology, spiritual living and environmental consideration that are front-page news items today. I consider it a “must” because it reminds us of our responsibilities to society as creatives.

The Life of Poetry, by Muriel Rukeyser: A beautifully rendered part-memoir, part-instructional discussion of poetry by one of the greatest writers of the mid-20th century.

Journal of a Solitude, by May Sarton: As those who have been in my workshops know, I am BIG on journaling. This wonderful book is best read by a fire, with a cup of coffee or tea, quiet music … and a journal alongside. Because you will be sparked by the writings of the ever-wise May Sarton.

On Death and Dying, by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: I realize this classic is a very unusual choice, but let’s face it – the vast majority of novels include death, many of us touch the subject in our writing, and we all face it. Why on this list? Because, when I edit books and read end-of-life scenes, it is very easy to see who has experienced them with family or friends, and who has not. This book will bring greater authenticity to your writing. Plus, everyone should read this book.

The Art of the Personal Essay, Philip Lopate, ed.: This should be a staple in every aspiring and practicing essay writer’s home library – from ages 10 to 100. The variety of essays, and informative lead-ins, make this one of the best edited and selected writing anthologies ever.

The Best Writing on Writing, Jack Heffron, ed.: Jack is a former Writer’s Digest Books editor who occasionally teaches writing workshops. He also compiles very good anthologies. This annual release offers plenty of great pieces for writers looking for a tip or some inspiration.

The Alphabetic Labyrinth, by Johanna Drucker: Writing is conveyed by letters. This masterpiece shares the history of alphabets worldwide, how cultures intermingled to create new alphabets, and how the written word spread. The book is beautiful rendered and illustrated, and is one of several wonderful studies of language and the word by this author.

And finally, one of my own:
The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life, by Robert Yehling: It’s very hard for me to include myself in any list, but I’m just sharing the vibe I’ve received from readers and reviewers since its publication in September. The exercises in this book are both stand-alone and mini-series pieces that cover every genre and leave plenty of opportunity for personal interpretation. You won’t find a more diverse writing exercise book.

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