Tag Archives: Smithsonian Institution

Two Crazy Weeks of Publishing Bliss

It’s been quite a two-week period on the writing front, and just goes to show what happens sometimes when you throw enough seeds in the garden. So, this blog is going to feel like a combination of a newsletter and announcements.

PrintLast week, two books came out on Amazon.com with which I was involved: The Hummingbird Review Spring 2013 “Hollywood & Literature” edition, which I edited and also contributed a couple of pieces; and Brian Wilkes’ book Stroking the Media, for which I contributed a chapter on the four essentials of generating good publicity – Timing, Opportunity, Newsworthiness and Perception. Will get into these in a future blog. Never had two Amazon listings in the same week, but there they are! Please order a copy – and one for a friend!

This week kept up the pace. I wrapped proposals for two people I have admired for many years: former Surfer Magazine publisher-editor Jim Kempton, who is now shopping his fantastic book of exotic recipes coupled with great surf travel and cultural stories, The Surfing Chef; and Stevie Salas, the Contemporary Music Advisor to the Smithsonian Institution (and great guitarist from Carlsbad), with whom I’m working on his memoir (more details forthcoming). Add to that the chapters I’ve either cranked out or edited for a number of other clients, and it’s been productive.

That’s not all: On Tuesday, Houghton Mifflin announced the acquisition and forthcoming publication of Just Add Water, my biography of surfing great Clay Marzo, who does it all with Asperger Syndrome. For this book, which is truly a joy to write (as those familiar with my long background as former promoter of the ASP World Tour and writing for the surf mags know), I owe a special shout-out to my longtime friend Mitch Varnes, who is Clay’s manager and who suggested I take a shot at writing this book when we had dinner a few months ago.

Mitch and I have history in turning ideas into great books; 20 years ago, Mitch helped me button down my concept and connect me with astronauts and NASA officials for one of the greatest projects of my career, One Giant Leap for Mankind. It was the 25th anniversary publication for the Apollo 11 moon mission, one edition of which NASA later picked up.

Oh yes, one more bit of news: on Thursday, the popular online magazine Indie Writer Net picked up the first of my two blogs on last weekend’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (the second blog will be right here on Saturday).

So, to cap it all off, I’m headed up to Orange County later this morning to appear as the guest on the Write NOW! TV show, with hosts Judy Saxon and Charles Redner. We’ll be talking about, well, writing, but also the benefits of writing about something different every day, and reading on a wide variety of subjects with the curiosity and precociousness of a child.

A quick advisory note on that, to take into the weekend: When you spread out your writing subjects – and forms of writing, from letters to journals to essays and short fiction, and everything in between – you develop the diversity to tackle anything and everything. When you read widely, your brain comes along for the ride and makes connections and observations you never thought you had.

Enjoy your writing and reading this weekend!

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Adult Literacy, Author Platform, Books, Creativity, E-books, Editing, Education, Featured Websites, Film, Journaling, Journalism, literature, Marketing, Memoir, Music, poetry, Promotion, Promotions, Reading, Social Media, Spiritual Subjects, Uncategorized, Writing

March Madness, in More Ways Than One

Now that the greatest sports tournament in the country, the NCAA’s March Madness basketball showdown, is underway, time to take a breather from what has truly been a mad March from the writing and editing desk.

Actually, count in February as well, especially since the Southern California Writer’s Conference. It turned out to be a major catalyst and motivator to a lot of people, me included. I’m overjoyed to see so many of the attendees taking the spirit and momentum of the conference to power forward with their novels and non-fiction books. Consequently, they are keeping editors and agents very busy right now.

So, a few tidbits from the writing world, about some friends, and also fun cultural happenings from my other creative loves, music and art.

Spent Saturday afternoon at Rock Your Loxx in Oceanside, a hair salon with a wonderful rock music motif and theme. The salon, owned by long-time vocalist and stylist Stephen Jerome, is filled with classic album covers, books, photographs of thirty years of stars, memorabilia and the like. Stephen’s supplies and scissors sit on a Marshall amp, there’s a drum kit in the corner, and the newest piece is an autographed guitar signed by rock star Stevie Salas, who is from Oceanside.

On Saturday, I (literally) ran down to Rock Your Loxx to find nearly a hundred people jamming

Robert Munger (R) presents an autographed Stevie Salas guitar to Rock Your Loxx owner Stephen Jerome during Saturday's promotion for artist Derek Riggs.

Robert Munger (R) presents an autographed Stevie Salas guitar to Rock Your Loxx owner Stephen Jerome during Saturday’s promotion for artist Derek Riggs.

into the salon and waiting in line outside to see Derek Riggs, a fabulous artist best known for his Iron Maiden covers. Whether or not you like heavy metal, Derek’s legacy is this: He is probably the last great album cover artist of a storied tradition that began with Rick Griffith, Wes Wilson and the psychedelic rock band covers of the 1960s. As we all know, albums went the way of dinosaurs in the late 1980s, replaced by CDs — which are headed in the same direction as collectible vinyl becomes all the rage. It was an awesome afternoon for a hair salon whose unique design is now catching the interest of the greater rock music world, and for a stylist who definitely personifies his salon.

During the day, Rock Your Loxx’s interior designer, my long-time friend Robert Munger, introduced me to one of my media heroes: legendary disk jockey Bob Buckmann, who turned up with his wife. After building a 100-watt pirate station in New York as a teenager, Bob made his name on WBAB-FM in Long Island, followed by WAXQ, known better as Q104.3. He headed to the West Coast, and became programming director for the greatest of all West Coast classic rock stations, KLOS. You Southern Californians, remember “The Seventh Day,” when KLOS DJs “Uncle” Joe Benson and Jim Ladd spun seven full albums on Sunday evenings? Bob had a hand in this and other programs in more recent years.

Now Bob is at KGB-FM in San Diego, offering up his 43 years of professional experience. What a thrill it was to meet him and talk with him about a mutual acquaintance and friend, Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane, who I helped 10 years ago with his memoir, Full Flight. We agreed: Marty had one of the greatest voices to ever grace a rock stage. In fact, he inspired the titling of my novel, Voices, because in the 1960s, a helluva long time before a certain TV show grabbed the title, he was known as “The Voice”.

I know one thing: Stephen Jerome is all smiles today, which is his birthday. As Queen lead guitarist Brian May told me years ago on the American Idol set, where he was overseeing a week devoted to Queen, “The key to shaping a show is to hit ‘em over the head with the first two songs, then you can put whatever you want into the set.” Rock Your Loxx pulled off a great show.

• • •

I needed a good rocking break. It’s been crazy, with several clients getting ready (or already started with) the publishing rounds with fantastic novels, trilogies, memoirs and other goodies. In my 12 years as a book editor, I’ve never seen so many high quality manuscripts at the same time – and I’m hearing the same from other independent editors. The competition to publish traditionally is so fierce that writers are putting out their best work – early on. And I’m proud to say that my clients are writing highly publishable material.

Meantime, through my agent Dana Newman, I’m in the middle of publisher negotiations for works that I will share more with you when the good news comes. Yep, I’m superstitious. Seen too many “sure bet” deals slip through the cracks. But these look good, and when the contracts arrive, I’ll tell you all about them, who’s publishing them and where to find them next year.

• • •

Barbara Stahura and Ken Willingham

Barbara Stahura and Ken Willingham

A tip of the cap to my long-time friend, Barbara Stahura, who recently moved from Tucson to Southern Indiana. Barbara was the most versatile journalist with whom I worked when I was editorial director at Faircount International in Tampa, and also the person most responsible for hooking me up as a presenter/teacher at writer’s conferences.

Almost 10 years ago, Barbara’s husband, Ken Willingham, suffered a serious traumatic brain injury in a near-fatal motorcycle accident. She wrote about the experience in her 2008 memoir, What I Thought I Knew. She also wrote a workbook based on her time participating in Ken’s rehab, After Brain Injury: Telling Your Story, A Journaling Workbook, which is quickly becoming the standard-bearer for TBI writing therapy in a field that finally has the attention of the nation.

Today, Barbara is a national expert on TBI, particularly writing therapy, as well as a masterful journaling teacher. In a recent article in the Evansville Courier, she discusses the sudden change in her life, and the ensuing decade that has brought her to this front-in-center advocate’s position. What a great work and service, Barbara.

•  • •

Speaking of inspiration, stay tuned tomorrow and Wednesday for a two-part blog that will likely leave your jaw dropping. Let’s just say the subject, and the author, Martha Halda, are the closest things to me in this life. And soon, we’ll get to read all about it through her memoir, A Taste of Eternity.

That’s all the teasing for now. Back tomorrow. Write and read well today.

1 Comment

Filed under Adult Literacy, Author Platform, Books, Creativity, E-books, Editing, Featured Websites, Fiction, Internet, Interviews, Journalism, literature, Memoir, Music, Online Media, Reading, travelogue, Uncategorized, workshops, writers conferences, Writing

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Author Platform, Books, Classic Novels, Creativity, E-books, Education, Featured Websites, Fiction, Interviews, Journalism, literature, Music, Online Media, Promotion, Social Media, Technology, Uncategorized, writers conferences, Writing, Writing Education, Young Writers

Catching Up on Stories, Legacies, and Interviews

Catching up on a lot of good writing news while getting ready to head to San Diego for the Southern California Writers Conference – always a great weekend of fun, frivolity, and connection with other authors, editors, agents and publishers.

Last week, author Martha Halda and I were interviewed on Jennifer Hillman’s Abstract Illusions Radio TCW_r2_ecover-loresshow. Each of us talked with Jennifer for about an hour on this wonderful Internet radio show that merges creativity, expression and spiritual topics. I discussed my newest books, The Champion’s Way that I co-wrote with Dr. Steve Victorson, and my novel, Voices, that will be out later in 2013. I also talked about the writing process, and how vital it is to submit well-edited manuscripts, whether you have a publishing contract or are self-publishing. I will be addressing this topic directly at the Southern California Writers Conference.

"A Taste of Eternity" author Martha Halda

“A Taste of Eternity” author Martha Halda

Martha spoke about her memoir, A Taste of Eternity, concerning her near-death experiences and how she has repurposed her life to align more closely to what she experienced, and to share those  with others. She’s currently shopping the book to publishers, and is receiving a ton of comments and reaction to her work. Since I am helping her with the book and editing it, I’ll give you some inside information right now: It is a fabulous read, with a lot of content you haven’t seen in any other near-death memoirs. Let me put it this way: Any middle-aged woman who jumps off 50-foot cliffs into the chilly Himalayan snowmelt waters in the Ganges River to celebrate her birthday is going to be writing from a place of fearlessness. That’s what makes A Taste of Eternity so special.

I’ll be interviewed on all matters writing April 26 on The Write Now! cable television show in icon-spring2011Orange County, which is co-hosted by my partner in all things poetry, The Hummingbird Review publisher Charles Redner. Really looking forward to it. Speaking of The Hummingbird Review, we’re building the Spring 2013 issue right now, with a distinct theme: the relationship of Hollywood and literature. We have great essays and poems from some familiar names, as well as distinct new voices. Will share a preview on all the goodies very soon in this blog.

• • •

376462_204666292995418_1130802602_nNow to switch gears for some very cool music-related news: Stevie Salas, who grew up surfing in my hometown of Carlsbad, Calif. and is considered a guitar legend in most parts of the world, recently received one of the greatest honors you can imagine. He was named the contemporary music advisor to the Smithsonian Institution. To give you some perspective, the poetry consultant is Billy Collins, who formerly served as the Poet Laureate of the United States – a position appointed by the President.

Years ago, Stevie played with This Kids, a great North San Diego County cover band. Then he moved to LA and, after some tough times, he made it – big-time. About 20 years ago, he played guitar on major world tours by Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger, among others. He has since recorded more than 20 albums, sessioned on countless others, created the Rockstar Solos mobile app that is selling off the charts, and created and served as executive producer for Arbor Live, which airs in prime time every Friday night in Canada.

Stevie Salas exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution

Stevie Salas exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution

I don’t know of many musicians with bigger contact lists, either. Stevie keeps talking about his “six degrees of separation” from every noteworthy musician of the last 30 years, but when he starts talking about it, you realize there are really only one or two degrees.

We’ll have another announcement concerning Stevie very soon. It’s going to be a good one, and it has to do with a book!

• • •

Cover Placed_Proofing6The technology/innovation/creative business magazine that I edit, The Legacy Series Magazine, made a huge splash at Macworld/iWorld in San Francisco last weekend. In addition to thousands of magazines being given away, the magazine booth was among the most crowded at the massive show.

What a labor of love, this magazine: to talk with the top innovators, movers and shakers on a variety of very current topics. Among many other topics, we focus a lot on social media and publishing, as well as the devices, apps and other technology that support it. One of my personal thrills was to interview former high school classmate David Warthen, who co-founded the AskJeeves search engine (which later became Ask.com) that revolutionized search.

But the best news of all concerns the magazine’s expansion. In 2013, The Legacy Series Magazine is moving to a quarterly digital format, with the final issue of the year, a larger-sized issue, releasing on newsstands nationally as a print magazine as well. Will keep you posted.

• • •

"Home Free Adventures" author Lynne Martin and her husband, novelist Tim Martin

“Home Free Adventures” author Lynne Martin and her husband, novelist Tim Martin

Finally, a very happy bon voyage to Lynne and Tim Martin as they sail on the Atlantic this week to begin Year 3 of their Home Free experience. During their three-month interlude in California, Lynne sold her travel narrative, Home Free Adventures, to Sourcebooks. She’s about halfway through the draft manuscript now. As her editor, I can assure you that this fun-filled book is loaded with incredible insight that takes more than simply being a tourist to acquire. The hook is that Lynne and Tim live in each area they stop (Buenos Aires, Paris, Istanbul, Italy, Ireland, etc.) for one to three months at a time, becoming residents, not tourists. The book zips along with plenty of spice, compliments of Lynne’s keen sense of humor, love of people, and love of food.

There is a backstory to this book. Five months ago, the idea didn’t even exist. A meeting in a Paris cafe with a Wall Street Journal contributor started an amazing ball rolling. Whereas some of us might have said, “Someone else probably already thought of this,” Lynne jumped on it and went from zero book writing experience to a deal — quickly. Goes to show what happens when you believe in your ideas so fully that you pour yourself into them. And then, put together an outline that can connect with large numbers of readers (and acquisition editors), and share a compelling story with plenty of personality and good information, to which readers can relate.

That will be the common mantra next week at the Southern California Writers Conference. Which is a good place to sign off, for now …

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Platform, Books, Creativity, Editing, Education, Featured Websites, Fiction, Film, Innovation, Internet, Journalism, literature, Music, Online Media, poetry, Reading, Social Media, Technology, travelogue, Uncategorized, writers conferences, Writing, Writing Education