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The Photo Seen ‘Round the Sports World: Carol Hogan Reflects on Julie Moss

Carol Hogan may be the most significant unsung hero in the history of triathlon. Her photo of Julie Moss struggling to crawl toward the finish line in the 1982 Ironman World Championship in Kona, now on the cover of Julie’s just-released memoir Crawl of Fame, is one of the most iconic photographs in sports history. It is no exaggeration that it is triathlon’s version of the World War II Iwo Jima flag-raising photo — only Carol’s shot was raw and real, unlike the late Joe Rosenthal’s Iwo Jima photo, which was staged (in the original flag-raising photo, a Marine fire squad was under attack atop Mt. Suribachi).

Carol Hogan’s photograph of Julie Moss crawling across the finish line at the 1982 Ironman became a major trigger to an ensuing avalanche of media and “Wide World of Sports” coverage that elevated Julie, the Ironman, and endurance sports & fitness to global status almost overnight. We’ve been riding the wave since.

The photo captured an excruciating moment – the epitome of “Agony of Defeat,” to coin the saying from Wide World of Sports, which televised the race. It also helped fuel triathlon’s rapid ascension from a fringe extreme sport to a global participatory sport following the 1982 Ironman. Thirty-six years later, the photo – and the others Carol fired off during that indelible moment no one on-site will ever forget – stands as a historic symbol of perseverance, courage, and finishing what you start at all costs. The Spirit of Triathlon.

With Crawl of Fame drawing early praise and a lot of attention, ranking #6 on the Amazon Health/Fitness bestseller list (thank you, everyone!), Julie and I asked Carol to share her thoughts of the photo, and its significance in a very full life that has included competing in triathlon herself, promoting triathlons and Triple Crown of Surfing events through her Ocean Promotion firm (which is how I met and worked with her, in the mid- and late 1980s), and crafting a fine journalism and PR career.

It’s been 36 years since Carol Hogan shot one of sport’s most iconic photographs – Julie Moss beginning her crawl to the 1982 Ironman finish line, from which “Crawl of Fame” gets its name… and its story

Now, the circle closes. On Thursday at Kona Stories bookshop in Kona, Carol Hogan and Julie Moss will see each other for the first time since Carol shot those mesmerizing photos 36 years ago. I can only guess how Carol feels, but I know how Julie feels — she’s ecstatic. It will be one of those reunion experiences you can’t make up.

Here is Carol’s account, which is as much of a treasure as she has been to triathlon and ocean sports over the past four decades:

Thoughts about the Julie Moss photo and the Ironman Triathlon

By Carol Hogan

In January 1980, I was the outdoor reporter for The Honolulu Advertiser, one of only two women working in their sports department. The other covered golf and volleyball, so I was assigned to cover the “nutty Ironman Triathalon (sic).” The newspaper files had two or three post-race write-ups –– that was it. To get more information, I visited with race director Valerie Silk in Ironman’s small office headquarters and attended the pre-race meeting. Even then, it was difficult to comprehend how complicated racing an Ironman truly was.

(At the time, my husband Bob and I were training and racing with Oahu’s “The Bike Club” at Kapiolani Park. I knew about bike racing. I once won the Oahu Women’s Veteran class by default, the only entrant in the division.)

The weather was a prime factor and race day, January 10, 1980. Dangerously stormy, it forced race officials to move the 2.4-mile swim from its original Waikiki Open Ocean Swim course to the safer waters of Ala Moana Park lagoon.

Carol and Bob Hogan were the ultimate sea- and adventure-loving couple  – sailing, paddling, surfing, outrigger canoeing… and running triathlons.

Bob and I lived nearby on our sailboat boat in Ala Wai Marina. I mentioned I’d probably be home late and drove early to the race start, in my beloved Porsche 914. I interviewed a few entrants (most journalists called them “weirdo’s”) on the beach, where swimmers flapped their arms to keep warm. Cowman, wearing his furred, horned bison helmet, stood out. Waiting bicycles had candy bars taped to the crossbar. The ABC Wide World of Sports crew was there for their first-time coverage. Offshore, their swim commentator and long-distance swimmer, Diana Nyad, and her cameraman bounced around in a small dinghy.

Dave Scott was first out of the water. When he took off, I did too. He led the way around Oahu, and the ABC crew followed, filming out the back door of a small rented RV. I tucked in behind them, stopping twice: once to purchase a six-pack of Diet Pepsi and a bag of Fritos, the other to jump into the bushes after too much Pepsi.

At the marathon start in downtown Honolulu, Dave changed to running gear. I followed him as far as Kapiolani Park, then parked and waited. I positioned myself at the finish-line telephone pole –– nothing fancy. When Dave ran into view, no one followed. Someone tied a string to the pole, while someone else opposite the pole held the other end. Dave ran through, I got the shot, and interviewed him. Olympic cyclist John Howard was second, grumbling that you can’t “really race” when you have to stop at all the red lights — and twice to weigh in. People finished all through the night. I waited until the first woman, Robin Beck, finished, interviewed her and drove home. That was the beginning of my affair with Ironman.

The race moved to Kailua-Kona on the Big Island in February 1981, due partly to the traffic and stoplights on Oahu. Weighing-in was still mandatory. That year I covered the race from a motorcycle sidecar driven by a cyclist friend. John Howard won.

An accomplished duo: journalist-PR liaison extraordinaire Carol Hogan and her husband, the legendary L.A. County surfer and lifeguard Bob Hogan

In August 1981, after covering the Transpac sailboat race, Bob and I took a 65-day, 2,800-mile cross-country bike tour across the United States, from Portland, Oregon, to Boston. Our first grandchild, Dan, was born just before we crossed the Big Horn Mountains in Montana. We returned to Hawaii in late November and I went back to work as the outdoor reporter.

In February 1982, with my bike as transportation, I flew to Kona to cover Ironman. I had often joked that covering the race was as mentally and physically exhausting as doing it. You never knew who would win, had to be everywhere at the same time, and if anything could happen, it usually did. I usually had a lot of requests for coverage from various magazines. Meeting their needs meant being on the course all day and far into the evening. I always looked for new angles to report.

As the day began, I observed a teeny young Japanese lady whiz by on her bicycle and also noticed that Walt Stack, 74, was still racing. I had 12 writing assignments that year. Hmmm, I thought and went out on the course.

Scott Tinley was close to finishing first. I drove into town, shot the finish and interviewed him, then returned to Kalanianaole Highway. An unknown, Julie Moss, was leading the women’s race, with J. David’s team member Kathleen McCartney behind her. At the appropriate time, I drove into town, positioning myself near the finish line.

Where I chose to stand –– almost on the finish line –– was pure luck!

When Julie crawled around the corner into view, I was mesmerized. Watching her struggling to stand was agonizing, her collapses horrifying, her crawl painful to photograph. But that was my job. I watched history being made through the camera lens. Immediately after collapsing on the finish line, Julie was rushed to the medical tent. No interviews allowed. So I didn’t interview her then, and for the thirty-six years since, have never talked to her face-to-face about that day or her finish. We’ve connected by telephone and Facebook once or twice over the years, but that’s about it. Meanwhile, the photo has been published in dozens of media outlets.

Post-race, I remained in Kona to finish my assignments, and also biked to Waimea­­ to cover a Mauna Kea ski meet. A round trip of 100 miles, it became a pedaling meditation on whether or not to race. When I returned to Kona, I had committed to racing the following October. I was 48, had just finished a major bike ride, and could swim. Hmmmm.

“If you’re doing it, I am too,” Bob said.

We signed up for October ’82. For eight months, we trained relentlessly: with swim coach Jan Prins at the University of Hawaii, with Max Telford’s long-distance running group, and with The Bike Club racing group. On race day, I was ready; the oldest woman to date to enter an Ironman. I surprised myself by winning third place in my division. Bob was fourth in his. We were elated. Our daughter Sharri shot my photos, as I still had writing assignments. Our son Rob, his wife and our grandson were on hand to watch.

The following year, we raced the October 1983 Ironman with Rob. He became so enamored with Ironman, he entered it for the next eight years. Bob and I stopped racing Ironman, but my public relations company, Ocean Promotion and I, remained physically connected with the event until the late 90s, the final two years as press room coordinator.

I’m thrilled that I was able to observe history in the making and proud to have played a part in the growth of a sport that brought me so much pleasure. Knowing that it has made an impact on the growth popularity of Ironman, I try to protect its use as a historical document. The photograph itself is copyrighted, and I protect its publication in the media –– no National Inquirer folks need apply. Sometimes it’s “borrowed” and used by bloggers or writers who haven’t contacted me first. Wherever possible, I contact them and ask them to take it off their page.

I’m truly excited to return to Kona to celebrate Ironman’s 40th anniversary and watch Julie race. She’s been gracious to a fault about the use of her photo and has turned her “Agony of Defeat” into an amazingly positive life lesson for herself and others. I have a feeling this will be Julie’s year to cross the finish line. She’s earned it..

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The Power of Group Book Signings — and Birth of a New Literary Series

In this era of extreme tidal changes in the publishing industry, writers, readers and those who love personal author appearances will be happy to know of a great trend: enterprising authors banding together to form group appearances and signings.

The power of the group read, this occurring at Vista Library, site of the North County Literary Cavalcade: Sunset Poets and Hummingbird Review  launch. (L-R) Sunset Poets creator and poet Dick Eiden; "Dances With Wolves" author Michael Blake; poet and musician John Doe, of the legendary group X; Charles Redner, Jr; Hummingbird Review publisher & author Charles Redner; fictionist Alwyn Pinnow; and yours truly

The power of the group read, this occurring at Vista Library, site of the North County Literary Cavalcade: Sunset Poets and Hummingbird Review launch. (L-R) Sunset Poets creator and poet Dick Eiden; “Dances With Wolves” author Michael Blake; poet and musician John Doe, of the legendary group X; Charles Redner, Jr; Hummingbird Review publisher & author Charles Redner; fictionist Alwyn Pinnow; and yours truly

 

AK Patch, the author of "Passage at Delphi," will appear Feb. 23 to launch the North County Literary Cavalcade series at Vista Library.

AK Patch, the author of “Passage at Delphi,” will appear Feb. 23 to launch the North County Literary Cavalcade series at Vista Library.

Not necessarily. Speaking from San Diego County and nearby areas, I can report that a few enterprising authors are working hard to create more group signings. Kaitlin Rother recently hosted an event at the new San Diego City Library that drew a standing room-only crowd. Author Lin Robinson, one of the most innovative and funniest writers around,  is stirring up the waters for a group signing series as well. “My thoughts are to get some local writers together and do something major and newsworthy, maybe in the atrium of the new San Diego library, or across the street in the beautiful Jing Si Café,” Robinson said.

It goes from there. A genre-based group, the Crime Fiction Collective, has been staging group signings for awhile. The La Jolla-based indie bookstore Warwick’s presents not only national authors, but individual and group signings with area authors — in which the author gets a table and signs for several hours on a Sunday afternoon. Very cool.

Group signings are awesome. Several authors appear together, read from their works, perhaps hold a short panel discussion, and then meet, greet and sign. While every author wants (and should have) the stage to themselves, I can tell you that booksellers and libraries love group signings. Why? They put more butts in the seats — and more buyers, or patrons. Readers feel like they’re at an event, and when you attend an event, you want to take the energy and memory of it home with you; hence, buying a book (that’s why motivational speakers and leaders always sell books at the back of the room). Plus, authors receive the dual stimulation of sharing stories from the trenches with other writers, and engaging with their readers.

We will be actively promoting all group signings on this blog, and on the Word Journeys Social Media Network. If you’re an author, band together with a couple other authors, visit your bookstore or library, and set yourself up. It will be much easier than you think — and you will connect eye-to-eye with your audience. Readers and writers, stay tuned.

 Speaking of libraries, I’m pleased to announce something I’ve wanted to create for a long time: a monthly literary series. This one even gives a naming nod to the Golden Age of radio and TV! The North County Literary Cavalcade will be hosted by Vista City Library. Reference librarian Kris Jorgensen and I met earlier this week, and laid out the plan for a combination of author signings, group reads, student presentations, panel discussions, topical workshops, open mics and festival events that will involve national and area authors, educators and poets. Best of all, we’re drawing authors from all fiction and non-fiction genres, plus young adult authors, sci-fi writers, and children’s writers. No matter your reading preference, you’re going to be up close and personal with a prominent author at this series.

Vista Library is a great venue: We hosted a pair of Hummingbird Review launches there, drawing large crowds in both cases. The secret? Yep — group reads. We had six to eight readers on each occasion.

Our first event takes place Sunday, February 23, from 3 to 5 p.m. Author AK Patch will present the history and backstory of his new historical adventure thriller, Passage at Delphi. This book brings the famous Greek-Persian War (source of the “300” movie series) into modern-day light, as eyewitnessed by time-traveling professors. They are under the influence of the Greek God Apollo, who worries that today’s civilization will go the way of the Ancient Greeks. If you’re a “300” fan, and pacing the floors waiting for the March 7 premiere of 300: Rise of an Empire, this book will not only feed you, but give you a counter-story filled with excitement and depth.

I’ll also be reading, as Dr. Patch’s warm-up act. Kris Jorgensen and I will co-host the event, and we will also present the schedule of Literary Cavalcade events.

Hope to see you there — and at all group signing events.

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If Apollo Were Alive Today: AK Patch Interview, Part Two

(To see Part 1 of the Interview)

"Passage at Delphi," now available on Amazon.com and through booksellers nationwide

“Passage at Delphi,” now available on Amazon.com and through booksellers nationwide

AK Patch’s new book Passage at Delphi is a page-turning historical adventure thriller that portals back two  professors into a defining time in Ancient Greek history – and also carries its arch-villain 2,500 years into the future … modern-day San Diego. That dual time travel element is one of many exciting twists in the 336-page novel, which is drawing 5-star reviews from publications like Midwest Book Review and Library Bookwatch, as well as readers on Amazon.com and Goodreads. Just in time for holiday shopping!

There’s another, deeper side to Passage at Delphi: the presence of the Greek God Apollo, who is the mastermind for the adventures and lessons Lauren and Zack Fletcher experience. In this version of hero training, Lauren proves herself a heroine during a time when women never achieved such status. But why? What is Apollo’s plan? What would he be like if he were alive today?

These are a few of the intriguing questions behind the book. We had some more for Dr. Patch, to conclude our two-part interview with him.

WORDJOURNEYS.COM: A part of the Ancient Greek historical record you used  effectively in Passage at Delphi was the concept of the oracle. You used it as your time travel trigger . Could you elaborate?

AK PATCH: I like the idea of using ancient oracles to transmit my characters between the past, present, and future. I see the site at Delphi as kind a mysterious religious site. A shop-owner in Athens actually did tell me that when he walks among the ruins, he senses a tingling and feels as if he is gliding over the ground. This may be a deep cultural connection with his heritage, or a lightening of oxygen content, but nevertheless, it is a place where many people over two thousand years invested their hopes and prayers. I had many conversations with an associate, Dr. Anthony Marciante, regarding the intricacies of time-travel and how that relates to the movement of characters across millennia.

WJ: The mastermind in this book, and others to come  in this series, is another Ancient Greek icon – Apollo, the god of prophecy (among other titles). You stretch beyond the classic description of Apollo to position him in the modern world, tasked with a solemn undertaking of utmost importance that works through Zack and Lauren. Why Apollo?

AP: I see Apollo as a teacher. Not only must Zack and Lauren struggle to survive, but they are also in a kind of classroom themselves. Many of our countrymen live a stable, comfortable life in the U.S. There are those that don’t, for which daily life is a battle. Lauren, but especially Zack, must struggle and suffer to learn. Apollo is fashioned after the Greek Stoic philosophers. He is a benevolent taskmaster. He doesn’t just want you to talk a good story; he wants your actions to back it up. Zack and Lauren must become warrior–citizens for democracy, to preserve our nation when times become perilous.

Apollo’s training is not over. He has seen the future, even lived it. Greek gods like heroes to carry out their will. People are not hardened by one experience. It takes time, so our heroes must endure and learn before they can be effectual in the great fight that awaits them. It is our fight too. Can we learn and act in time?

WJ: You’ve written Passage at Delphi for reasons far more significant than crafting a historical action thriller. What is the underlying issue that prompted you to create this novel?

Passage at Delphi author AK Patch, doing book research on location in Greece

Passage at Delphi author AK Patch, doing book research on location in Greece

AP: I’ll answer that with a question: What is the state of our democracy today?  It’s a subject best debated by political and constitutional experts, but from the point of view of a citizen, developing events are troubling. More and more, greed, arrogance, and corruption are the mainstays of our politics. Who do we believe? Who can we trust to maintain the secure and bountiful future of our country? Look at the ridiculous shutdown of the government and the way we nearly fell off the debt ceiling. Why? How can a few hundred people shut down a government that we, the people, pay for and are supposed to have representation in? The Athenians had a hand in destroying themselves, as did the Romans. Can we learn any good lessons from their triumphs and tragedies? In PASSAGE, our heroes are propelled into real-time history. They will struggle and suffer, but they will emerge tempered by their experiences and be more cognizant by what has been sacrificed by previous generations.

WJ: To that end, you’ve created a novel with non-stop action that will surely appeal to younger readers as well as older ones. How do Millennials figure into the overarching story ?

AP: There are times when people need to recognize the lessons of history and realize that their generation is the one that is likely to be called upon to save this great country. I see the Millennials as that generation, so the message of this and my other books points to them. We will undoubtedly change as a nation on the path of that struggle, but we have to hold onto our freedoms and not let them be compromised. Other generations will see this in the experiences of Zack and Lauren as they endure real-time what the ancient Greeks did in facing overwhelming odds, and yet, emerge victorious. This is about instead of saving the virtual world, saving the real world.

WJ: How and when did the writing bug first bite you?

AP: The earliest writing project I remember was a short story written in 5th or 6th grade, 1966 or so. The Cold War was prevalent and I crafted a story about a Russian spy hiding out in Charles Lindbergh’s plane when he flew solo from New York to Paris in the 1927. I wrote it the spy’s point of view. He described how Lindbergh had to stay awake and eat sandwiches, had to fly above the waves and was excited when they crossed over Ireland. The spy escaped in the celebration after the landing and was impressed by the bravery of Americans.

WJ: How did you keep it going during your long military career?

AP: During my 26-year career in the United States Navy and serving with the Marine Corps, I held unit positions that required some writing skills – personnel evaluations and reports. As a commanding officer of Marine Corps Medical Unit, we concentrated on physicals and combat casualty care, but it seemed like the evaluation and reports evolutions never ceased. Also, I spent a lot of time in Greece … which found its way into the center of my writing.

TO ORDER PASSAGE AT DELPHI

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Ancient Greece & Apollo Come to Life: Interview with Author AK Patch

What happens when  two modern-day, married professors fall into Ancient Greece through a portal, experience their lives as a page-burner of adventures and harrowing escapes that forges them into hero figures – all at the behest of the Greek God Apollo and his deep concern for the direction of our world today?

PAD cover lo-res

The answer to that rather long-winded question forms Passage at Delphi, the new novel by San Diego-based author A.K. Patch. Passage at Delphi went on sale today worldwide, and is available on online booksellers, Amazon.com, Kindle, bn.com and through all bookstores.

Seven years in the making, Passage at Delphi tackles enough historical, topical and character-driven real estate to open a small state. Flip the pages and you find: protagonists Lauren and Zack Fletcher racing through intrigue, romance and adventure; narrow escapes from predatory hands; their experiences with gods, kings and legendary military rulers; time travel in both directions – from present-to-past and past-to-present; exquisite Ancient Greek landscapes seen and lived through young 21st century professors; a new view of the famous “300” Spartans war against the Persians; and a climactic final scene. All is orchestrated by Apollo, the God of Prophecy, as part of a master plan that reveals itself as Passage at Delphi progresses.

Says the Midwest Book Review of Passage at Delphi: “In presenting action spread out over three different times and characters that intersect, Passage at Delphi creates a fast-paced and challenging story line that places readers at the crux of understanding choices and their wide-reaching consequences makes it a force to be reckoned with: a novel that involves even the most experienced reader of historical fiction, mythology fantasy, and adventure.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost of all, Passage at Delphi has the Big Three of great novels – memorable characters, strong story, and plenty of entertainment and enlightenment. It is smart, gritty and dedicated to its details – much like its author, a retired career Naval officer who has been fascinated with Ancient Greece and ancient military tactics since he was a child.

Now, in the first part of a two-part interview, A.K. Patch talks more about the historical adventure thriller that is already garnering strong praise.

WORD JOURNEYS: First of all, Dr. Patch, Passage at Delphi is a very ambitious project, a compelling blend of deep history and crafty fiction writing – a magnum opus in many ways. How long have you been working on it?

A.K. PATCH: PASSAGE has been in progress for seven years now. I’ve been in no rush to publish it and it has become far more interesting and involved plot. I’ll never have writer’s block. The story just comes out. I occasionally write the story in my head while I’m jogging.

WJ: You wrap the story around a pair of university professors from California who travel to their beloved Greece on an archaeological dig – only to be transported back in time, as intended by the Greek god Apollo. Could you discuss the protagonists a bit more?

AP: Apollo chooses Zack and Lauren because they have the qualities he desires. They have the potential to survive his gauntlet of hero training, but are guaranteed nothing. Apollo’s goal is to save western culture from a devastating collapse. Thereby, the United States must be secured, or the western world will crumble. His heroes must be American, physically able to endure what he has planned, and knowledgeable of the ancient times in which they are tossed into. Even more so, Zack and Lauren are connected to The Professor in Athens. That is how Apollo found them. They fit his requirements.

The Greek God Apollo, the plot orchestrator in "Passage at Delphi"

The Greek God Apollo, the plot orchestrator in “Passage at Delphi”

AP: Lauren, like a lot of women, has the capability to rise to the occasion. She has the temperance of a military upbringing. I have personal experience with military dependents and their silent endurance of multiple deployments, low pay, and the ever-present possibility that their loved one is not coming home. Their dedication and sacrifice should be more celebrated by our nation.  Lauren is not so completely hardened, though. She doesn’t realize her strength, and fears separation from Zack. She will endure many physical and psychological battles.

I have asked women what they think they do better than men. One compelling answer is that they multi-task better. Juggling family and career is no picnic. Zack has a lot to learn. He has not had to struggle. He lives under the umbrella of safety that the United States provides to him. What happens to any of us when our umbrellas are pulled and the full force of the storm hits us?

WJ: No good historical action-thriller with a romantic twist can thrive without an antagonist – and Passage at Delphi has a most memorable one in Bessus, the Persian commander who threatens and harangues Zack and especially Lauren throughout the story. Can you tell us how you created such a menacing character, and why?

AP: Bessus represents evil, but would not most ancient warriors act in the manner he does? There are no terms of chivalry, no mercies extended. That is true today also. One aspect of Bessus I might mention is that he has suffered and struggled, and in his mind, cruelty and domination is survival. A monster such as Bessus is not all evil. He yearns for his son, to hold onto his hard-won gains back in Bactria (modern-day Afghanistan). He was betrayed by his mother and her people, seriously enough that you can hold a grain of sympathy for him. Even though he transposes his brand of malice to the modern day, evil, greed, and malevolence can come in many forms. It doesn’t just hold a two-headed axe. It can wear a three-piece suit with cufflinks and plot domination of markets, too.

The Temple of Delphi, the centerpiece of the novel, where Lauren and Zack are pulled through the portal.

The Temple of Delphi, the centerpiece of the novel, where Lauren and Zack are pulled through the portal.

WJ: How did this gritty, elaborate story originate for you?

AP: PASSAGE originated as a vehicle to bring the Battle of Thermopylae to the attention of readers. The Greeks of that time were presented with a horrific decision of submitting to slavery or fighting the overwhelming power and wealth of The Persian Empire. I find the Persian Wars period fascinating, and it could be considered a climactic event in the development and survival of Western culture. The questions may soon come to be: are we living in such pivotal times? And what may we have to do to survive and pass our way of life to succeeding generations?

WJ: How do you feel people today are connected to the Ancient Greeks themselves in order to arrive at this correlation you’ve formed as a major plot point?

AP: The ancient Greeks might be called our distant grandparents. Their significant advancements in philosophy, mathematics, architecture, art, sculpture, and playwriting are a solid foundation of our western culture. Ultimately, they gave birth to democracy and more so, fought to the death to defend their way of life, allowing those advances in human spirit to be passed to us.

WJ: Can you elaborate?

AP: Sure. When freedom was largely unknown in the ancient world, when kings and despots ruled the lives of populations, a hardscrabble group of Greek city-states on the western edge of the great empires of the east forged a society. As it turned out, that society made a lasting impact on the future generations of the west – and the east, for that matter. We look to Athenian democracy as our crucible of freedom, but it was not inclusive. Only male citizens of wealth and military training were allowed to vote. It is a kernel of what we have today, but an amazing development for the time. Our enlightened founding Fathers declared equality for all, but that didn’t happen for some time.

WJ: What endeared you to the history of Ancient Greece and its relevance in today’s world?

AP: I loved Hercules movies and some of the other big Sword and Sandal Classics of the 50’s and 60’s. Cleopatra, Spartacus, The Robe, Demetrius and the Gladiators, and my ultimate favorite, The Three Hundred Spartans from 1962.  Without video in those days, you would see a movie once and then wait years to see it again. Torturous, if it was a movie that made a big impact on you!

I have been entranced with ancient history for so long that a lot of the events and settings are second nature to me. I did dig deeper into authors and texts regarding life in those times. I especially respect author and educator Edith Hamilton and her works. When I develop plot twists, then I’m looking for an unusual aspect of ancient life to add substance.

(Part Two will be published on Wednesday, Nov. 27)

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An SI Article Trip Down Memory Lane

Since it’s football season, wanted to tread back into memory lane as a writer — with a big assist from Sports Illustrated.

While flying from LA to Kahului, Maui, where I’m working with surf star Clay Marzo on his biography, “Just Add Water,” I read an article in Sports Illustrated that stopped me in my tracks. Well, two of them. The first was  “Exit Sandman,” an incredible story of the greatness of Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera — with an ending that will take your breath away.

The second concerned an old friend and a very special time in my life, when footballs flew all over San Diego and many great careers germinated in the same tiny place. It happened within Tim Layden’s article, “You Spin Me Right Around, Baby”, concerning the back-shoulder pass that drives NFL defensive backs crazy — because they can’t defend it. This pass has become a part of several quarterbacks’ repertoires, most prominently Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. It’s been around in various forms, this Kryptonite play to all defenders, but who used it consistently first?

That’s where the article stopped me. Turns out it was Bob Gagliano, a journeyman USFL and NFL quarterback for 10 years in the 1980s and 1990s. Bob was the quarterback at U.S. International University in San Diego in 1979, when I was a student and assistant sports information director there. Bob and I formed a good friendship, and I always took him with me to community outreach events, such as meet-and-greets with junior high and high school students. He took what Division I  schools considered average ability, used his incisive brain, and after leaving USIU, became a strong D1 quarterback and a spot starter for Kansas City, Detroit and San Diego.

I remember sitting with Bob in the Chiefs locker room in 1982, after he’d made the team as a rookie. He told me about this new pass he was trying out, which turned out to be the same pass I’d seen him throw a few times in USIU games: you hit the receiver on the trailing shoulder, he reaches back to get it, and the defender can do nothing about it.

A few years later, Bob did it on a regular basis for the USFL’s Denver Gold. That got him a second chance in the NFL.

Every so often, I think back to the USIU team that Bob quarterbacked. It was one of those freaks of fate, a ragtag group cobbled together when USIU made its short-lived jump into Division II football. I was publicizing the team, part of my trade-out for a free ride so I could get through school. THe group looked shaky at first, but finished the year 9-3 and beat a pair of Top 20 Division II schools along the way. No one wanted to get into a shootout with USIU, just like their neighbors eight miles down I-15, the San Diego Chargers.

Bob wasn’t the only one from this collection of young guns and Division I rejects to make a splash in the NFL. Not even close. The head coach, Tom Walsh, went on to become offensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders. His offensive assistant, Mike Sheppard, did the same with the Cleveland Browns during their glory years in the late 1980s. As did Mike Solari with the Kansas City Chiefs. Defensive back Vernon Dean won two Super Bowl rings with the Washington Redskins. Three other players made NFL rosters, at least temporarily.

Then there was the young defensive backs coach, just out of San Diego State, a former safety who wasn’t fast enough for the NFL: John Fox. Then in his early 20s, Fox whipped his defensive backs into one of the top units in Division II. He was tough, he connected with his players, and he instilled in them his passion for the game, his passion for excellence.

Fast forward to 2013: Fox is commanding the greatest offensive ship in the NFL, the Denver Broncos. He’s been an NFL head coach for 11 seasons after a brilliant run as a defensive coordinator, during which he won a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants. Now, he goes to work every day and sees Peyton Manning. How great is that?

I can only imagine what Fox was thinking when he opened his Sports Illustrated and saw the article on the back-shoulder pass — which he loathed while coaching the Giants and Carolina Panthers — and then seeing who first put it to use regularly in games. Fox always praised Gagliano in USIU practices, because of the way Gagliano’s accuracy made Fox’s defensive backs better.

Those were fun times — and a joy to relive 34 years later.

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Feasting on Words: Billy Collins, Southern California Writers Conference, and New Books in the Making

A few odds and ends while feeling very inspired and energized by the past ten days, which have included a wonderful Southern California Writers Conference, starting to put together what will be a smashing Spring 2013 issue of The Hummingbird Review, watching editing clients get one deal and opportunity after another, and Tuesday night’s superb event with Billy Collins, the former Poet Laureate of the United States…

The Billy Collins program at Point Loma Nazarene University was truly special. Billy has drawn hundreds of thousands of otherwise non-poetry fans into the world of poetry through his easily accessible, humorous, poignant and endearing takes on life’s otherwise ordinary moments. On Tuesday night before a standing room-only crowd of more than 400 at Crill Hall, he read 17 poems spanning his career (10 collections, plus several anthologies), including a couple from his latest, Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems 2003-2013, which will be released October 22. He also sat with PLNU journalism faculty member and Writer’s Symposium coordinator Dean Nelson, himself the author of a dozen books, for an excellent hour-long discussion.

One of Billy’s many funny lines? Check out this succinct take on science fiction: “There are only two directions for all of science fiction: We’re going there, or they’re coming here.” Priceless.

Discussing poetry with former Poet Laureate of the U.S. Billy Collins (photo by Martha Halda)

Discussing poetry with former Poet Laureate of the U.S. Billy Collins (photo by Martha Halda)

A couple hours earlier, I interviewed Billy at his bayside Shelter Island hotel for The Hummingbird Review. It was fun, lively, full of wisdom and humor – typical of Billy’s take on the world. We had a wonderful discussion about his poetics and vast contributions, a part of which I will share in this blog on Friday. For the rest, you’ll have to pick up The Hummingbird Review.

A really funny moment popped up during the interview. When my sweetheart, A Taste of Eternity author Martha Halda, and I told Billy how Carlsbad High School teacher Tom Robertson turned us onto poetry in our freshman English class, Billy looked at Martha and quipped, “So you were one of those mean girls!” He was referencing the fact that he (like me) was painfully shy in high school, and not on the radar screen of the school’s most beautiful girls. We informed him that Martha was one of the nicest (and best looking, and still is) CHS beauties, to which he replied, “So you were the nice one!” Gotta love this man.

• • •

I’m still pouring through notes from the Southern California Writer’s Conference, so I want to share a few comments that famed science fiction writer David Brin made that are great takeaways for writers and readers alike (with very special thanks to Alicia Bien for emailing her notes as well):

On the bad guys we all love to hate (or maybe root for) in novels: “Give the villain great dialogue so they are tempted. Make your villains so powerful that the U.S. government can’t beat them.”

Bestselling science fiction author David Brin (photo by Gayle Carline)

Bestselling science fiction author David Brin (photo by Gayle Carline)

On the purpose of writing: “Convey your sense of joy on the page. Control your ego, but believe you can write material that people want to read. Remember: writing is the only true form of magic.”

How to write a first page that hooks readers: “The first page must sing. Copy the first page of writers you respect, see how they move the story, and find that within your own voice, your own story.

Four keys to getting published and drawing your readers:

1)   You need an ear

2)   Bring on the criticism because you can be even better – and you know it

3)   Hard work

4)   Luck

• • •

Have been having a blast editing and/or writing proposals for some truly wonderful books that have made their way onto my computer in the past several months. Will rattle off their titles and authors now, so that you will grab them and share the experience when they hit bookstores in the next 12 to 18 months (as I am fully confident they will):

• A Taste of Eternity, a memoir by Martha Halda

• Home Free Adventures, a travel narrative by Lynne Martin

• Island Fever, Mustang Fever and Storm Chasers, an adventure romance trilogy by Stephen B. Gladish

• Who Will Cry for Us? a memoir by Davion Famber

• The Columbian Prophecy, a novel by Gary B. Deason

• Changes in Longitude, a travel narrative/memoir by Larissa and Michael Milne

• Red Hand, a novel by Seamus Beirne

• Forgoing Stress, a prescriptive book by Leo Willcocks

Next week, I will talk more about a couple of books coming from yours truly, including my forthcoming novel, Voices. We’ll also hear from authors Larissa and Michael Milne, Martha Halda and Stephen B. Gladish. Stay tuned.

• • •

Speaking of March, two events are coming up in the next two months that I hope you will participate in, if you are suitably located geographically: the Tucson Festival of Books March 9-10 at the University of Arizona in Tucson; and the L.A. Times Festival of Books April 20-21 on the University of Southern California campus. Between the two, more than 100,000 people will be in attendance. These events are a paradise for readers, a chance to meet and talk with hundreds of authors and publishers in all genres. Check them out.

 

 

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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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