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The Word Journeys Book Blow-Out Sale: 9 Titles from Robert Yehling

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Kids are in school, visitors have left Southern California, the ocean and sun are warm… and tis the season for writing and writers conference.

On Oct. 2, Crawl of Fame, the memoir I co-wrote with Ironman Triathlon Hall of Famer and lifelong friend Julie Moss, releases to bookstores and online booksellers throughout North America. Published by Pegasus Books, Crawl of Fame is the remarkable story of a young woman’s unlikely crawl to instant fame, how her courageous performance at the 1982 Ironman elevated triathlon to world sport status, and how she’s empowered women and men, girls and boys since.

To celebrate the release of Crawl of Fame, welcome to the Word Journeys Fall Book Blow-Out! The perfect time to grab new reads for yourself, and load up on holiday gifts for others. Between now and October 15, we’re offering substantial buy-direct discounts on nine backlist titles, signed and inscribed by me as you’d like.

How the sale works:

  • Choose your book(s), contact us (bobyehling@gmail.com or through WordPress) and pay via check (made to Word Journeys, Inc., sent to 2517 Via Naranja, Carlsbad, CA 92010) or PayPal (at the above email address).
  • Indicate if you’d like your book(s) signed.
  • We’ll ship immediately. Expect your book within 5-7 days of order.
  • If you buy 3 or more books, take an additional 10% off the sales prices.
  • Add $3 to ship 1 book, $5 for 2-3 books, and $7 for 4 or more books.
  • Enjoy your bounty!

Here are the titles:

Voices: The novel about rock music legend Tom Timoreaux, his rising star daughter — and emergence of his lost love-child, set to the backbeat of the past 50 years of rock and roll. Nominated for the Independent Publishers Book Award. 5-star ratings from Amazon. Regular price: $18.95. Sale: $12.00

Just Add Water: Biography of superstar surfer Clay Marzo, who lives with autism. Clay’s inspirational story of becoming one of the world’s greatest surfers, was a finalist for the Dollie Gray Literature Award. Regular price: $16.95. Sale: $12.00

When We Were The Boys: The memoir of rock star, singer-songwriter-guitarist and award-winning film producer Stevie Salas. This coming-of-age story focuses on Stevie’s turn as Rod Stewart’s lead guitarist on the 1988 Out of Order Tour — and how it launched his great career. Regular price: $17.95. Sale: $12.00.

Beyond ADHD: Written with Canadian ADHD expert Jeff Emmerson, Beyond ADHD looks at the many deeper causes of our diminishing attention span, the current rush to diagnose as ADHD and treat it with powerful drugs — and numerous ways to change lifestyles and embrace attention-growing attitudes and activities. Endorsed by Dr. Allen Frances, mental and behavioral health expert and chair of the DSM-IV committee. Hardcover. Regular price: $35.00. Sale: $25.00

Writes of Life: Using Personal Experiences in Everything You Write: Winner of the Independent Publishers Book Award, this book is for writers, students, educators, and anyone using their own stories in essays, journals, fiction, memoir, poetry… anything you write. Features 80 exercises. Regular price: $12.95. Sale: $10.00

The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life: “The best writing exercise book on the market,” Poets & Writers said. Every day, a new exercise to stretch your writing muscles, explore new genres, and refine your skills. For authors, journalists, casual writers, educators and students alike. Features motivational quotes from authors and much more. Regular price: $16.95. Sale: $12.00

For lovers of poetry, lyric and essay, we also bring three poetry-essay titles: Shades of Green, Coyotes in Broad Daylight, and Backroad Melodies. All feature more than 60 new poems and essays, with elements of love, nature, relationship, ecology, music, the deep woods and the open road. More than 30 of my poems also appeared in journals. Regular price for each: $12.00. Sale: $10.00




We invite you to jump in, get some holiday shopping done early, find something for yourself to read and enjoy, and indulge in the Word Journeys Book Blow-Out !

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15 Common Points Between Writing & Running Marathons (part 2)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the conclusion of my two-part series that compares 15 points in common between the writing process – particularly book and extensive projects – and running marathons. Actually, it’s 18 points in common, but who’s counting?)

“The race begins at 20 miles”: Years ago, a friend, journalist and veteran marathoner said this to me. While most people might crash and burn at 20 miles (or before), serious marathon racers dig in the final 10K. So it is with book writing. The last leg is often the hardest. You’re tired, you’ve lived with the subject for months or years, and you want to be finished. But this is the most vital part of the book, next to the first chapter. Focus more intently than ever, tap emotional and creative reserves, and power through to the finish.

Enjoy the solitude: If ever four groups of people know and understand solitude better than the rest of the population, they would be runners, writers, artists and monks. We spend countless hours alone with our words. Enjoy the quiet time; enjoy the ideal atmosphere it provides you to create, think deeply, and work. Not everyone gets this chance. Ask someone who works in a cubicle or workstation all day. The material percolates in solitude. The more you can enjoy it and immerse in it, the more you can produce – and the more cohesive it will be.

Push the hills: One of the best road racing strategies is to push hills hard – and then surge for 30 meters or so at the top. All authors know there are many uphill climbs in the long course of writing a book – struggles with scenes, characters, getting the right information, fluid narrative description, etc. Some days, we feel like we can write anything; on others, our sentences feel like back roads clunkers. We all hit them; we all wonder how we’re going to get to the top. The answer: one word at a time. Push past the obstacles, while holding to the greater vision for your work. Write hard to keep the momentum going.

Increase focus as the race progresses: The same thing has happened in every marathon I’ve raced. For the first eight miles or so, runners talk to each other, compare strategies, talk about favorite runs they’ve ever taken, maybe shoot photos of the crowd (if they carry smartphones, which many do — not me!) and truly enjoy being out there. For the next eight miles, the focus tightens, paces become locked in, and the talking lessens. For the final ten miles, there is very little talking and very deep focus. Good authors take us deeper and deeper into their stories, a reflection of their increased focus as they deliver the goods. Focus, focus, focus.

Don’t hit too many aid stations: One of the myths (and, actually, physical dangers) of long races is that it is important to drink at every aid station. NOT SO. When I run marathons, I only drink six times – roughly once every 4½ miles. Everyone has their number, but point is: don’t take too many breaks. This applies directly to writing. Momentum and rhythm are everything; when you’re on a roll, stay on it. If you must, take only small breaks when writing books to recharge, but never more than a week or two. Long breaks are a no-no, unless you’re between drafts.

There will be pain: To borrow from a surfwear manufacturer’s 1980s ad campaign, Every marathoner knows the feeling. It starts at about 15 miles, hits fully at 18 to 20 miles, and envelops you the final 6 miles. PAIN. We know it’s coming when we toe the starting line, but we know how to handle it – by reaching down and taking the race one stride at a time. Likewise, book writing can be (and often is) emotionally painful and mentally taxing, especially tell-all memoirs and novels with characters exhibiting emotions that grab you from the page. When you read scenes like this, you know the writer is feeling it. Embrace the pain, and turn it into your ally. Use it to drive more deeply within yourself, opening new thresholds of possibility for your writing – and greater perspective as a person. The more you can work with writing pain in all its forms, the more deeply touched readers will be.

Head down; one step at a time: This extends from the last comment. I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon with moderate plantar fasciitis. In other words, the last five miles were hell. However, I nearly held my earlier race pace because I pulled my cap over my eyes like I was in the ‘hood, looked down at my toes, and took it one step at a time. That’s exactly how I write books; by adopting that technique, I’ve gone from being a good starter to a good finisher. Keep your head down and write one chapter at a time, one paragraph at a time – and one sentence at a time. This approach becomes especially important when revising and self-editing, when you make sure every word fits and every word counts.

Finish strong: One of the best ways to ensure good race results is to finish strong in each training run, picking up the pace at the end. Likewise with book writing. Good final chapters sew up the story or subject, and leave readers feeling: a) like they want more; b) wholly satisfied; or c) Googling you for more books, or for more perspectives based upon the great book you have given them. Reach down and give it everything you’ve got in the last chapter – just like a good racer.

Celebrate!: When we finish something as monumental as a book, or a marathon, it’s time to celebrate! Then take at least a week off from writing of any kind … your batteries will definitely need to be recharged.

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Back in the Saddle

For a host of reasons, we’ve been quiet this summer with the Word Journeys Blog. But now we’re back with a new and improved blog, designed to give you specific insight, tips and ideas from our many years of experience in the journalism, non-fiction, fiction, poetry and business writing worlds.

The Word Journeys Blog will focus on the practice and business of writing, and on the works of our clients and the print and online publications that we edit or to which we contribute. We’ll also showcase new services provided by our sister company, Millennium Media Masters. We will post two to three times per week. Our sister blog, 366 Writing, will feature my newest writing and excerpts from my books and e-books, hopefully posted daily. If you’d like, check out today’s piece, “Morning Prayer,” which I wrote the other day while driving through eastern Utah’s majestic Capitol Reef area.

The Word Journeys blogs will primarily concentrate on six areas:

1) Innovative ways to promote your work and build your promotional platform — and ways we can help you do it. We’ll also discuss innovative approaches taken by our clients and other writers.

2) Strategies for presenting manuscripts to agents and publishers – or taking the self-publishing route, which actually works better for more and more people these days.

3) Writing activities and exercises, based on my books, The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life, and Writes of Life: Using Personal Experiences In Everything You Write.

4) Excerpts and back stories from future books and e-books from our clients. This also includes occasional interviews and excerpts of interviews with working authors.

5) Blogs on techniques, strategies and approaches that can help you with every writing challenge you face — and give you greater flexibility and voice in your work.

6) Information on writers conferences and workshops at which we will be presenting seminars and classes.

So sharpen your pencil (or fire up your computer), and let’s get ready for a busy autumn and winter of writing, promoting and publishing – in any and every print and online media that suits your work!

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Writing (Your) Place

I’m getting ready to write a print book memoir and an ongoing online blog-memoir, a series of digital postcards, if you will. (Note: The latter will be the new incarnation of my other blog, 366writing.wordpress.com, alternating with writing exercises). During these times when major book projects are percolating, I always seem to dive deeper into a sense of place – wherever that place may be. Which, with me, could be just about anywhere; somewhere along the line, I inherited an awful lot of gypsy genes.

Right now, am sitting in the Sierra Nevada foothills, at the Ananda Meditation Retreat, rejuvenating health, meditating, writing, editing my clients’ books, planning future teaching gigs, and mapping out the digital publishing side of Word Journeys. I always feel right at home here, deep in-place. Partly, it’s because after the past several years of living in Kentucky, the rural space – whether in hardwood forests, deserts or lush Ponderosa Pine mountains – feels very comfortable. Or maybe it’s because the greatest single influence of my writing life, the great Pulitzer Prize-winning poet-essayist-conservationist-ecologist Gary Snyder, is hanging out at his home not 500 yards away, taking in a rare mixture of rain and snow in mid-May, perhaps reflecting on the 80th birthday he celebrated Saturday. Or, Gary being Gary, moving forward, finding the next text to study, the next piece of firewood to chop, the next poem or essay to experience, then develop. (I am very proud to state that, for 31 of those years, I have been reading, studying and learning from his works.)
I don’t know. What I do see, though, in more and more writing – especially in this new era in which anyone can publish, anytime – is a lot of descriptions about places, without actually writing from within the place. It’s like the difference between us describing Nature and Ecology: Nature is a thing, an object we categorize, define or otherwise try to relate to; Ecology is movement, relationship, the interweaving and interaction of all elements that share the same space, the same place. Nature requires us to write from past or even future; Ecology is all about presence. The difference between the two is the difference between a photograph and a movie. And our goal, as writers and as citizens of this planet, should always be to not only watch the movie, but find our place within it. The great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore put it this way: “Center everywhere, circumference nowhere.”
When we write from within a place – whether it’s our home, community, place we visit often, or somewhere that transforms us, like a beach – we write with strength and conviction. Readers not only surmise that you know what you’re talking about; they can feel it in every energized word. When we can take our readers by the hand and anchor them into our setting, or place – whether in a poem, an essay or a story – we’ve got them. The common perception is that we can accomplish this through facts and crafty word choices, but that’s only the window dressing. The real writing, the real value, comes from feeling the pulsating heart of the earth, or a tree, or a river flush with winter’s snows, or the vibration of a hummingbird’s wings, and sharing the wealth.
Unfortunately, in our haste to crank out the next books, essays, articles or poems, we often miss this point. We miss the ecology, the entire relationship of place in which we exist, and settle for the nature.
I have a couple of exercises in my book The Write Time that help develop the skill of writing within a place that I’d like to share:
1) Sit outside, in a setting that comforts you – a lakeshore, riverbank, woods, garden, beach or even your backyard. From where you sit, visually create a circle surrounding you, 30 feet in diameter. Drop the curtain on everything beyond that circle; your world now exists totally within the circle. This is your place, your oikos (root word of Ecology). For the next 30 to 60 minutes, write your place. You can start by writing about the place, describing things, but turn inward as soon as possible and become the center of the place – write from its heart.
2) Try writing haiku – tiny three-line poems. True Japanese haiku doesn’t use the 5-7-5 syllable rule; rather, it focuses on the simple dynamic of a moment in time, in place. For the purpose of this exercise, observe a movement around you, and put it into three lines. Go with the 5-7-5 syllable count, simply to practice economy of words. As you write your haiku, focus solely on the wholeness of what you’re observing – and keep yourself out of the picture. You’re writing the moment, not your interpretation of it.
See how these practices help with writing place. This skill is essential, no matter the genre. I know one thing – editors and publishers find it very hard to put down manuscripts or collections that are rooted in this way. Readers can’t put them down, either. And there is little more satisfying to writers – whether professionals, journalers or letter-writers – than knowing you have not only described a place well, but written the heart and spirit of that place.
Finally, a little morning moment, using haiku in the popular 5-7-5 format:
Pungent wood smoke scent,
driven down and scattered by
rain and hummingbirds

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Winter Time is the Write Time

To order The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life

Many people have asked me to write about my newest book, The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life. I’ve been hesitant, for the same reason that affects so many other authors: it’s much easier for me to promote someone else’s work than my own.

However, I’ve had a change of heart these past 10 days, while ringing in the New Year in one of the deepest freezes the nation’s mid-section has seen since the infamous winter of 1977-78. While stuck indoors, I’ve spent a lot of time writing experimentally, and working on the three books that I will be sending to publishers later this year: my novel, The Voice; a multi-genre book I am writing with literary agent Verna Dreisbach; and my next poetry-essay collection, Backroads Melodies.

In order to get going on a couple of these sub-20 degree mornings, I’ve resorted to The Write Time for warm-up exercises. It’s worked out very well.

Now I’ll share a few reasons why several reviewers, along with me, believe this book might be the most diverse writing exercise collection on the market.

First of all, The Write Time contains 366 exercises – one for each day of the year, plus a birthday bonus exercise. There are a number of series that range from three days to two weeks; however, most of the exercises are stand-alone. For the most part, the exercises are aligned to the seasons, in order to involve the body, spirit and mind of the working writer – not just the mind, a place in which we find ourselves all too often.

Second, The Write Time includes exercises suited for writers of every genre – unique in the marketplace. Here’s why. In addition to suiting fiction, non-fiction, memoir, essay and poetry writers, The Write Time contains material for screenwriters, songwriters, playwrights, letter writers, journal writers, copywriters, bloggers, graphic novelists and business/technical writers. Everyone in the writing universe is included. I didn’t initially plan the book this way, but after pooling together ten years of exercises I’d developed for my workshops, I saw that nearly every one of these categories was represented. So I completed the circle with the final exercises that I wrote.

Third, all of these exercises are true originals, written from the heart. The vast majority contains mini-stories that lead up to the actual exercise. Of the 366 exercises, more than 250 were “test-driven” by participants at my workshops, and/or clients whose books I have helped to develop, edit and promote.

Fourth, the exercises can be practiced by writers of all abilities, from novices and students to multi-published authors. Some of the best feedback has come from authors who are trying to switch genres, most specifically going from fiction to non-fiction, and vice-versa. Since I’m a multi-genre writer, this transition is of particular concern to me at a time when we all need to be fluid and flexible, whether we are writing personal material or shooting for book contracts.

Fifth, I’ve loaded the book with special features and information that give it an integrated feel. This is definitely the only writing exercise book that provides links to top writing websites and motivational quotes from well-known writers, musicians and artists and the most complete list of author birthdays in the marketplace – online, print or otherwise. For good measure, I’ve thrown in Celtic, Native American and Western/Zodiac sun signs, and space within each day to record your ideas, thoughts and self-prompts.

Finally, and most importantly, is the personal touch: You can re-adjust every exercise in this book to suit your own writing needs. My goal was to provide a single book of exercises that would allow writers of all ages and abilities to attain excellence in their chosen genres while also experimenting with other genres – but most of all, to make writing a lot of fun. Whether you’re a junior in high school, an MFA student, a teacher, journaling practitioner or professional writer, it’s important to always maintain dexterity in style, voice and content.

We’re going to sponsor a Write Time contest, to see who writes the best pieces directly from an exercise within The Write Time. There will be cash and publishing prizes for the top three selections; the cash amounts will depend on the number of total entrants. I’ll have more details in the next blog; the details will also appear on my website, starting the week of January 18.


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Notes from a Writing Conversation: Part One

Blog Note: Beginning Monday, October 19, we will begin posting select writing exercises from The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life on our sister blog, 366writing.wordpress.com.

Enjoyed an hour live on Abstract Illusions Radio last night with host Jennifer Hillman, conversing about the wonderful world of writing and some of its most beneficial applications. Jen and I discussed a number of topics that touched upon the many different professional and personal uses of writing and story:

Journaling: A caller discussed her desire to re-start a journal. I carried it from there to note the three biggest reasons why all writers (and everyone, for that matter) should journal daily, if possible:

1) To get thoughts, feelings, observations, perceptions and experiences on paper. You never know what seeds of future stories, poems, essays, books or lessons lie within everyday words.

2) To plumb our life circumstances or situations, for both reflection and inner healing. Journals are safe havens; by writing deeply about what concerns us, we can uncover solutions, release sources of suffering and reclaim pieces of ourselves.

3) To experiment with new forms and types of writing, or to make test-runs of poems, essays and stories.

Writing the Iceberg: I pointed out one of the core challenges of all writers – to not become too cerebral or intellectual in their work, unless they are academic or topical non-fiction authors. Good writing should reflect life – a combination of emotions, deeper feelings, thoughts, sensory perceptions, actions and responses. Remember that the mind encompasses the entire body and all of your cells – and that, by opening to heart and body rhythms, you actually open huge vaults of memories, experiences and feelings that deepen and enrich stories. Think of your mind as an iceberg: The brain is the tip, while the entire body is the 90% that is often “submerged.” Which would you rather have available when you write? As poet Li-Young Lee said, “We have six trillion potential stories inside us – one for each cell.”

Writing Universal Truths: The goal of personal, introspective writing such as memoirs, poetry and personal essays is to utilize our experiences to arrive at deeper truths, common to all. By doing so, we experience personal discovery and, perhaps, transformative moments, while also creating “familiar” moments for the readers. These are the “A-ha!” moments we experience when reading well-crafted novels, memoirs and other works. Always seek to write so deeply that you shed the veneer of your own personality and tap something much more universal, sacred, primal.

With the Heart Comes Voice: What happens when we try to sing if our heart’s not into the song or the performance? Our voices tend to sound jerky, constricted. The same with good writing. Try to write not so much from the mind, but from the heart. By writing with depth and feeling, we can sharpen our authentic voice, that mixture of style, rhythm, resonance and presence that is our unquestionable imprint on the printed page. Drive voice with your heart. Turn your mind into a willing servant, pulling the words and structure you need to craft the piece, but not directing it.

There’s more to come from our conversation…

Final note: My friend, author/editor/photographer and Cherokee language teacher Brian Wilkes, reminded me on Facebook that, in the Cherokee calendar, we are entering a most auspicious year: Noquis’equa, the Year of the Big Star. The Year of Venus. This is a year of rapid reversals and big change. Here’s to creating some big change in all our lives with a year of great writing!

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