Tag Archives: The Champion’s Way

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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A Change of Pace: New Blogs, Author Interviews, The Legacy Series Magazine Release

• Word Journeys Media

• Blog Interview with Author August McLaughlin on Dec. 12

• The Legacy Series Magazine Releases Nationally on Dec. 10

For the past five years, we’ve presented a wide variety of topics on the Word Journeys Blog. Much of it revolved around the writing profession, practice and book publishing industry, but we also wrote blogs on culture, travel, surfing, running, and many other topics.

Starting in January, we’re going to expand our reach — while more tightly focusing this blog. Our new blog, Word Journeys Media, will focus on industry-specific topics for writers, publishers, literary agents and others. It will be tied to the new wing of Word Journeys, which will specialize in promotional, publicity, marketing and consultation services for authors.

Among the Word Journeys Media services will be the 360 Book Publicity Suite. We’re partnering with Innovative Properties Worldwide to present this sweeping press release and publicity service for authors that connects their new books with up to 300,000 media, online, blog, book review and industry destinations — a reach most publishers can’t match. It also provides deep social media connection and establishment of the author as an expert on their subject in the eyes of the media. More on this in a special announcement blog next week. Write me at ryehling@wordjourneys.com if you’re interested in learning more.

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Meanwhile, the Word Journeys blog will offer more author interviews, book reviews, and pieces that celebrate life and the writing lifestyle. We’ve just become a part of a number of major book blog tours, so get ready to meet some of the authors who are producing the latest fiction, non-fiction and children’s titles.  I was inspired to take this approach by Santana drummer Michael Shrieve, who hosts a weekly radio show, “Notes from the Field with Michael Shrieve,” that features, well, conversations with other musicians. His recent interview with Rush drummer Neil Peart was truly extraordinary.

We will begin our greater focus on authors next Wednesday, December 12, when we sit down with August McLaughlin, author of In Her Shadow, a psychological thriller that releases in January. This interview is part of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. August recently contributed to The Legacy Series Magazine, which I edited. August is an exceptional writer with one of the most entertaining and informative (and, at times, spiciest) blogs, “Savor The Storm” 

So be sure to stop by The Word Journeys blog on Wednesday to meet August.

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The other big event next week is the release of The Legacy Series Magazine: Celebrating Technology & Innovation. It releases on newsstands nationwide on Monday, Dec. 10. In the year since I took on the editing job for this publication, I have learned so much about our relationship with technology, how the craftiest and most visionary innovators turn their ideas into reality, and just how far we’ve come in technology — and still have to go. To paraphrase IT expert Mary Meeker’s take on the status of mobile apps, we’re still in spring training.

As one who was born in 1959, the year the transistor first started shipping, I’d have to say we’ve come pretty far. In fact, if you told someone in 1959 that they could watch TV on their computer, or text, or run one of more than 1.4 million applications off a portable palm-sized phone, they’d say two words: “science fiction.”

The Legacy Series Magazine is a fun, fun read. We feature incisive, expert-driven looks at the future of publishing, social media, filmmaking, cloud computing, tablets and much more. We built this issue around the legacy of the late Steve Jobs, who as Apple’s CEO revolutionized and/or redefined eight specific industries with his inventions, products and innovations — the most since Thomas Edison. The more I learned about Jobs from those who knew him best, such as Ken Segall, bestselling author of Insanely Simple and the man who came up with the “i” branding concept for Apple products, the more deeply I appreciated what Jobs did for our lives.

We talked with a lot of industry experts. My favorite conversations took place with Chris Voss, host of the Chris Voss Show and a Forbes magazine Top 50 Social Media influencer; Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, co-star of Shark Tank and co-owner of Magnolia Pictures and AXS-TV; Jeanniey Mullen, executive VP of Zinio, the world’s foremost distributor of digital magazine content; Beth Comstock, senior VP of GE and the mastermind of the hulu.com TV website when she headed the digital division at NBC Universal; Dr. Gustavo Rabin, author of Becoming A Leader; and Craig Perkins, winner of the 2012 iPhone Film Festival. You’d be amazed at the cinematic quality iPhones have!

You can pre-order a copy of The Legacy Series Magazine, and receive 50% off the newsstand price.  Go to www.legacyseriesmagazine.com and visit the online store to place your order.

• • •

Finally, I’d be remiss in failing to mention two holiday gift ideas that I had a major hand in creating:

“The Champion’s Way,” which I co-wrote with Dr. Steve Victorson, offers a unique insight into the 11 characteristics all great champions share in common — whether sports champions, business icons, chart-topping entertainers and musicians, or champions in other walks of life. Our revised edition includes an update from the Summer Olympic games. You can order it by going to our website at http://thechampionsway.com.

“The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Enhance Your Writing Life.” I compiled and wrote this book to offer 366 unique, story-driven writing exercises that are guaranteed to increase your range and versatility, whether you’re a middle school student, teacher, or professional writer. There are exercises for virtually every fiction and non-fiction genre, along with “workouts” for poets, screenwriters, lyricists and essayists. I compiled the exercises developed during 10 years of teaching writing workshops, and added some fun asides you will find on every page — inspiring quotes, author birthdays, and much more. You can pick it up by going to http://www.penandpublish/writetime.

 

 

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What Was Behind Lance Armstrong Probe?

To purchase The Champion’s Wayby Steve Victorson, Ed.D and Robert Yehling

Like many others, I was surprised  to see Lance Armstrong give up his fight against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which has spent the past 13 years on a vendetta against him — a vendetta unlike any leveled against an athlete in the history of sport. Even late baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti’s pursuit of Pete Rose for his gambling activities (which proved to be well-founded) pales in comparison to what Armstrong has endured.

I’m sad, but not surprised, that as soon as Armstrong decided he had no need to prove he was innocent (the USADA’s backdoor strategy after 13 years of investigations, plus a federal investigation, showed nothing), the USADA did what anyone on a vendetta would do — moved to strip away everything, from the right to race to his seven Tour deFrance titles to his dignity. No hearing, no trial, no evidence, no nothing. Guilty, no matter what. Isn’t this America?

Did Armstrong engage in blood doping and other use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs? I don’t know. It would be foolish to believe he didn’t check it out early in his career. Nearly everyone who accused him is either banned from cycling or retired so they didn’t have to face the music. In fact, their whole complaint against Lance contains as much caterwauling as anything else. Essentially, they’re saying, “We doped up and he still beat the hell out of us. That’s not possible. He must have been using.” That’s the story thread the USADA ran with, folks.

Here’s where I question this whole process: where’s the evidence? There is none. It would have come out by now. Other investigators produced physical evidence against Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, yet neither was directly proven to have used performance enhancing drugs. As for Lance, he passed more than 500 doping tests — including 29 administered directly by the USADA. So right now, he is being hung for unsubstantiated charges from former cheating rivals (all beaten repeatedly by Lance), and purported physical evidence that has never been produced. They say they have evidence of doping in 1999? Show it then!

I knew Lance mainly during his formative years, first as American’s youngest professional triathlete and then as an up-and-coming cyclist, and I saw a man committed to winning. We had good conversations about the path to becoming a winner, then a champion, whether he was recovering from a closed-course triathlon in the late 1980s or getting ready for the Tour DuPont, a great American cycling tour that took place (and he won) in the mid-1990s. He talked about winning, thought about winning, and put his cards on the table and said, “Beat me if you can.”

A lot of European riders, press and officials considered this to be brash and arrogant behavior. You know, “the ugly American.” I saw it all the time in the German papers (I was living there at the time). Translation? They didn’t want an American riding in to dominate their sport — but he did, like no other. Nor did the USADA want to see this particular athlete transcend his sport, become the face of the sport. But he did.

Along the way, there are a lot of pissed off cyclists who would have been known as champions if Armstrong didn’t relegate their peak years to support team riding. Here are a couple of names you’ve heard if you’ve followed this story: Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis. You want the deeper reasons behind this 13-year witch hunt that has, at times, involved vanquished competitors, race and agency officials who like the status quo, the French media and former teammates? It smacks of jealousy to me. Build a hero up; tear a hero down. It’s the way of this world, unfortunately.

I remember standing near the base of val d’Isere during the 2000 Tour deFrance, watching the move Armstrong put on the 1998 TDF champion, Jan Ullrich of Germany. Ullrich was the superior technical rider, and also was in better condition. However, Lance knew that Ullrich was not nearly as tough mentally. Armstrong spent most of the race feigning stomach illness, hoping Ullrich would ease up if his only true rival was sick on the course. When he got to the base of val d’Isere, a non-category (extreme) climb, Lance caught up to Ullrich, pushed ahead of him and gave him that stare: “I got you. Catch me if you can.” That was it for Ullrich.

While many people lauded Armstrong’s brilliant rope-a-dope strategy, others blasted him for his “cowboy behavior,” that he somehow stooped beneath proper sportsmanlike comportment by giving Ullrich “the stare”. Come to think of it, after this day, the agencies and media began their lynchfest.

They haven’t stopped yet. Funny: I thought we wanted our champions to win in their own clean ways, to do what it takes, and to celebrate their accomplishments. An athlete comes along who’s a little more brash than others, with a personality and a mission much bigger than his sport, who beats the pants off of the very best in his sport … and this happens.

Armstrong committed himself the right way: by working harder than everyone else, putting himself through threshholds of pain few of us could withstand, learning his sport inside and out, and focusing on one thing — first place. My co-author, Steve Victorson, and I wrote a book that details the inner workings of athletes like Lance — The Champion’s Way. In our model of what constitutes a champion, Armstrong rises to the very top in all the key categories. He’s in a very small circle of men and women you can rightfully call, “The Greatest In Their Sport’s History.”

Which pisses off the establishment of that sport.

Oh yeah … along the way, he somehow survived mestastatic testicular cancer that would have ended the lives of most other people. He’d take a brutal chemo treatment, slip out of the hospital, crawl onto his bike and pedal 20 miles. His reasoning? If he’s going to be sick, might as well maintain some muscle tone and focus on cycling along the way. That sound like a drug cheat to you? It only made Armstrong an even more perfect machine to tackle the Tour de France, shedding unnecessary weight and driving an already iron-tough athlete into the stratosphere of mental toughness.

Then, if you listen to the USADA, so “obsessed” was Armstrong with himself and his legacy — and completely self-absorbed to the point of cheating repeatedly, so they say — that he started Livestrong, an organization that has become a beacon of light to 28 million people who suffer from cancer. So many more people recognize Lance as a cancer survivor who fights for the cause that, the day after Lance gave up this ridiculous tug-of-war with the USADA, online donations increased 35-fold from normal weekdays.

My final question: Why stick it to Lance 18 months after he retired from cycling? That answer is easiest of all: the USADA waited until the spotlight was turned off, and the public response wouldn’t be so boisterious. Or so they thought. Instead of nailing him during his career — like reputable agencies do all the time in other sports, including cycling — they had to wait until it was all over.

Why? Because they never had anything in the first place. And they have no problem sullying the legacy of a man who, quite simply, rose above the sport they try to insulate like it’s their private cigar club.

 

Lance Armstrong will always be a hero to millions of cyclists and sports fans, but more importantly, to tens of millions of cancer patients past, present and future. Compared to that, the USADA is a mosquito — and that’s what CEO Travis Lygart and his precedessor, former Armstrong pursuer Dick Pound, hate the most.

 

 

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A Busy Summer of Writing Arrives

A few writing and book topics on a very hot Summer Solstice:

I love writing in summer. The longer daylight hours, warmer weather, presence of trees and plants everywhere, and completion of a college year seem to conspire to throw this writer’s creativity into high gear.

This summer is especially prodigious. In six weeks, on August 1, Dr. Steve Victorson and I will celebrate the publication of our book, The Champion’s Way. Developed from Steve’s doctoral dissertation at Boston University, The Champion’s Way has been a dream project as a book writer, editor, former sportswriter and coach: a look at the 11 distinctive qualities that champions master over all others. However, we make this discussion engaging, with more than 50 interviews with various Olympic and World Champions, along with dozens of other sports anecdotes. Anyone can become a champion of themselves in life, business, the arts, education or sports. That’s our core message — master the 11 qualities.

We spent more than three years writing and rewriting this book. What is especially endearing is that the book is releasing during the first days of the London Summer Olympics — a perfect companion read to see how these great athletes tick.

The Champion’s Way will be available for pre-order in the next few weeks on Amazon.com. The official website will be up by July 10. Meantime, visit our Facebook page.

• • •

The other book I’ve been writing for years, Voice Lessons, is also finished. Am now conducting the final polishing edit after ten years, three complete rewrites, and a restructuring of the plot after it almost sold to Dutton in 2003. The novel is a father-daughter-daughter relationship piece set against the backdrop of a legendary music group that reunites after many years. The main protagonist, music legend Tom Timoreaux, heads out for a long-awaited reunion tour with his band, The Fever, and hires his daughter, Christine, as a backup vocalist. In the course of the book, she becomes a superstar. I won’t spoil the surprises and emotional content of the book, but I will add that the book also provides a panoramic backdrop of the last century of American music, and how the rock and roll pioneers not only drew from many influences, but lived and breathed music in ways that would be really refreshing to see from more of today’s stars.

The book’s official website – with “backstage” passes, Fever “tour schedules,” lyrics to the 80 original songs I wrote for my characters, and much more to entertain music fans everywhere — will be available for viewing in August, and publication is scheduled for Spring 2013.

• • •

Also releasing in Spring 2013, Backroad Melodies, my fifth collection of poetry and essays. This will be my first released poetry collection since The River-Fed Stone in 2008, and it will feature 50 new poems plus 10 essays — including a multi-paneled tribute to my friend, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder, drawn from our many discussions, good times and readings.

One of my personal favorites from this collection is the essay, “For The Lifelong Love Of Learning,” in which I share my own personal experiences with students and faculty through Education for Life, one of the best and most principled systems ever created to inspire, motivate and inform students on what ultimately matters in their intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical development.

We’ll keep you posted on Backroad Melodies. Look for preordering and other information by Holiday 2012.

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Not to be outdone, we will begin our new e-book line in Fall 2012 with The Best of The Word Journeys Blog, featuring the most popular and commented-upon pieces from the first 100 postings of this blog. Several of the blogs went viral, owing to the beauty of social media, and several others ended up in unexpected places (such as Christian Science Monitor’s Culture Cafe), with unexpected readers — back stories that I share in the run-ups to the pieces.

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I’m also working on a very special and unique project, The Legacy Series: Innovations and Technology, with my associate, Lisa Maine, and my friends and colleagues at Innovative Properties Worldwide in Denver. This special publication, which will be available over the holidays as a print magazine, e-book, mobile App and iPad publication, focuses on what we need greatly in this country economically: more innovation, vision and complete commitment to the business models revealing themselves for today and tomorrow. We launched this publication as a tribute to the memory and contributions of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. We depart from Jobs’ enormous impact as an inventor, visionary and businessman to look at the seven industries that Apple products either created or infused, as well as developments in a wide variety of areas.

One of my favorite jobs when developing and editing a specialty publication like The Legacy Series is the interviewing process. During this time, I love hearing the visions, ideas and strategies of forward-thinking CEOs, who have one eye on their bottom lines and the other on tomorrow’s marketplace. You’ll hear from plenty of CEOs throughout the publication.

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The end of summer brings with it one of my favorite writing conferences at which to present: The Southern California Writers Conference. This conference has been partially or wholly responsible for more than $3 million in publishing deals for first-time authors. In the past two years, it also has established the reputation as one of the best conference resources for up-to-the-minute developments in the ever-accelerating digital book world, and what it requires of authors. I will be presenting two workshops, with topics to be drawn from: editing your own manuscripts; writing your book’s business plan; repurposing content for print and online use; and/or a creative writing intensive.

The SCWC features top editors, publishers and agents, all of whom are looking for great books and authors. The workshops are first-class, and we have read-and-critique group sessions that are second to none … including the infamous Rogue Read & Critiques, which start at 9 p.m. and end at … well, the record is 6:45 a.m.

Be sure to click onto the SCWC’s website and register now if you plan to attend. It’s well worth every penny.

• • •

Like I said, summer is a great time to breathe deeply, expand the mind into the warm, open air, and see what comes back creatively.  Enjoy your writing and reading … and most of all, the sun and warmth.

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