Category Archives: Author adventures

Surf’s Up in Maui for Jessica

For those who have been following Jessica Cox (www.rightfooted.com) — the first woman without arms to earn her pilot’s license — check out her latest adventure. It’s her first surfing lesson, beautifully photographed in a short video clip. Click or copy/paste this link into your browser:

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Jessica Learning to Fly – Underwater!

This video clip says it all in Jessica’s words. Feel free to comment and cheer her on!

Books Can Save Us

by Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE (used with permission)

I’ve always believed that books could save me. No matter what problem or difficulty I faced, no matter what I wanted to learn, somewhere there was a book that could provide me with the help I needed. Of course, that isn’t exactly true. Ultimately, it’s what you and I do with the ideas that saves us.

This eternal optimism of mine about books may explain my love of loitering in bookstores. Sometimes I think I spend more time searching for books to read than I do reading them. This isn’t all bad, as it saves me from wasting time on books that aren’t worthy of it. Think of the exchange of life that is made to read a book. Consider the hours spent, and ask yourself after you finish a book if the exchange has been satisfying. I’ve quit reading a book after a hundred pages because it turned implausible, or lost credibility, or because it became clear that it was poorly written. Why would I want to waste any more of my life on it than I already had? (My friend Jimmy and I jointly formulated the 80-page theory, which assumes that since most people don’t read much further, authors and publishers put the most interesting material in the first 80 pages and often fill the balance of the book with pabulum. Test the theory for yourself on the next book you read.)

Another thing happens when you spend time browsing in a bookstore: you are reminded of things you need to know about. An unexpected book you encounter can expose you to knowledge that you didn’t even know existed. Once acquainted, this new knowledge often creates a desire to learn more. That is why I don’t just frequent my favorite sections, those being business, philosophy, religion and self-help. When time allows, I cover the entire store.

I do like spending time in public libraries, but not as much as bookstores. That’s because I can’t just read a book, I must own it. As someone once said, if a book is worth reading, it’s worth owning. I like marking my books up with a highlighter. Librarians frown upon this practice. Owning the book means I can refer to it at any time without making a trip back to the library and hoping against odds that it will still be there.

I have many friends who live in palatial homes that I would enjoy living in too, but I have never felt the pure unadulterated envy for another’s home as I have for my friend Don’s library. His house is wonderful, but it is his library that I lust for: dark paneling all the way up to the high ceilings, with yards and yards of shelves covered with contemporary as well as rare and out of print books. I get a reader’s rush every time I walk in. Public libraries just don’t have the same effect on me.

I’m tactile and visual, and how a book looks and feels is important to me. Bookbinding has historically produced some lovely volumes, but the competitiveness of the business in recent years has, in my opinion, resulted in the proliferation of “ugly” books. While books were once elegant, more often they are now gaudy. (While they may catch the reader’s attention with bright colors and bold typeface, to me they seem lacking in elegance and richness.)

While the outside of books have suffered, a renaissance has occurred on the inside. Typography is more interesting and formats have been vastly improved. (Magazines, on the other hand, seem to have gone the opposite direction. You can now gauge the hipness of a magazine by how difficult it is to read.) The aesthetics of a book make reading it either more or less pleasurable, and I think there have been advances made in this area.

Bookstores serve another, more subtle purpose: they tell us what our fellow human beings are currently interested in or concerned about. Bookstores are a billboard of our preoccupations. Consequently, I make it a point to read the bestsellers lists to identify the zeitgeist of our times. And it is often alarming to consider what people are spending their time reading about.

Bestselling books seldom make it to my personal reading list. Sometimes they do, but not often. The reason for this is rooted in a theory I formulated early in life: if you do what everybody else is doing, you’ll end up like everyone else, and that is, by definition, “average.” Much of what ends up on the bestseller list is popular but not profound, given that so many people appear to not welcome intellectual challenge and the need to think about what they read. Reading at the lowest level can be done very passively, and that is the preferred manner of our time.

Amazon.com, the latest reincarnation of the bookstore, has a nifty software program that directs you to books similar to the ones you’ve shown interest in. The “what other people who have bought this book are buying” feature directs you to similar and/or complementary works. The software also tracks your purchases and tailors future recommendations to your preferences.

Long before the advent of such software, I used a similar but superior technique. I asked the people I knew and admired what books they had read and recommended. The best reads of my life have often come from these folks. That is how I became interested in Wallace Stegner and his book Crossing to Safety, one of my all-time favorite novels.

So yes, I do also hang out in online bookstores. I feel a little guilty about it sometimes. I prefer to support my local bookseller, especially the Tattered Cover (in Denver) which holds a special place in my heart as the ideal of what a perfect bookstore should be. I’ve spent more money at the Tattered Cover than any other retailer of any kind and never regretted it for a moment. That’s why it presents a bit of a moral dilemma to me to shop online. I don’t get the tactile pleasure of book browsing online, but the convenience and additional information gleaned from virtual browsing somewhat compensates. I now spend my money in both physical and virtual bookstores.

And what of those evil chains as demonized by Meg Ryan in the movie “You’ve Got Mail”? I believe that organizations are rarely evil unless the people who run them are. An evil organization is generally the result of an evil individual or group. Which is to say book chains are no more evil than fast food chains. The chains have a lot to teach the independent bookseller and the independents have already taught the chains much. The challenge, should you choose your livelihood selling books, is to find a business model that works. Nobody has a right to be a bookseller any more than someone has a right to be a farmer or a brain surgeon. You earn the opportunity through study, hard work and meeting the challenges of a competitive marketplace.

What may be bad news for traditional booksellers is good news for readers. For readers, choice proliferates. There are more ways to peruse and purchase books than ever before. I would hope that technological advances like online shopping encourage more people to read.

I believe that the cumulative IQ of our society will increase as more people exercise their right to read. Reading is central to self-education and lifelong learning and if books have the power to save an individual, maybe they have the power to save a society as well.

Mark Sanborn is a leadership expert and past president of National Speakers Association. http://www.MarkSanborn.com

Idyllic Greek Writers Workshop May 2010

I want to tempt you with an extraordinary invitation to an idyllic writers workshop in late May and early June in beautiful Greece-any genre can apply!

Called Astra Writing in Greece, it’s an 11-day program that begins and ends in Athens, and features a 7-day sojourn through the rugged interior of the Peloponnese to the seaside village of Elika. The week in Elika is punctuated by an overnight stay in a fortified medieval town-Mont-Saint-Michel of Greece, home of the renowned poet Yannis Ritsos.

 You’ll visit museums and historic sites, including the Acropolis and Benaki Museum in Athens and the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil in Sparta.

 You’ll engage daily in at least two hours of guided and independent writing with authors Thordis Sorensen (Dancing Girl) and Meredith Hall (Without a Map).

 You’ll work on threshing floors, in ancient courtyards, on beaches, and on the terrace of a seaside chapel reached by a 90-minute walk along a coastal trail.

 You’ll meet each day at sunset to reflect on your travel experience and share the writing it generated.

 Astra Writing in Greece offers a balance between structure and spontaneity, activity and serenity, society and solitude.

Act quickly. Having lived in Greece for 5 years, I know what a great place it is-and this idyllic workshop experience tops it all!

For full details and an application form, visit www.astragreece.com

Wave-of-the-Future Way to Write Your Book

By The Dating Goddess

Dating Goddess

Dating Goddess

Several years ago, I decided the best way to write my next book was via blog postings. I will probably never write another book the old way-sitting down at the computer and writing without any input from the target market until it’s complete.

I made the commitment to write every day. Some days the 400-1000 words flowed easily. I even had a backlog of future postings to write. Some days I wrote 2 or 3 postings, uploading them and pre-dating them for the subsequent days’ release.

But some days it was drudgery and I would be writing at 11:30 trying to beat my self-imposed midnight deadline.

But write I did. Every day. For 2.5 years.

The benefits of writing your book via a blog are many:

* Through your readers’ comments, you get immediate feedback from your target market on what they think of your ideas.
* By watching your stats, you see which topics are of most interest to your target and you can write more like it.
* You see what search terms brought you to your blog, so you can then write to those topics.
* You get media attention and therefore are dubbed an expert even before the book is released.
* You have a built-in market clambering to buy your book when it’s released, even though they may have read many of the postings. Especially if you do a print-on-demand hard book, they’ll want an autographed copy.

The hardest part was deciding to release not just one book, but 13. Since I had so much content, culling it down to one felt stingy. So I crafted the “Adventures in Delicious Dating After 40” series of 13 books, ranging from 100 to 228 pages. Plus I created a 141-page bonus book of articles with 11 other experts for the gift with purchase. And I pulled together a 74-page “thank you” eBook for mailing list sign ups by taking one posting from each of the 13 books, which also works to sell the books.

Go to http://www.DatingGoddess.com to see the results. Finally, after years of figuring out how to turn my blog postings into a book, I’ve released the 13 Adventures in Delicious Dating After 40 books, plus 2 compilation books. If you’re interested, details are at http://www.DatingGoddess.com

Sourena Inspires a Whole Football Team

With great pride, I viewed a feature piece on ESPN (it aired January 1) about my client Sourena Vasseghi. He has worked with me since I edited his book Love Your Life and It Will Love You Back in 2006.

Sourena has become friends with Coach Pete Carrol and his entire championship University of Southern California football team. When an ESPN reporter found out about this association, she created this amazing story featuring Sourena, his assistant Rich, and his inspiring book.

I urge you to learn more at www.loveyourlifebook.com about this USC graduate. He was born with severe cerebral palsy but never let his situation stop him from being a successful speaker, author, and consultant–and loving his life!

 

Jessica Still Flying in Media Skies

What an exciting time for Jessica Cox.

 

More and more folks in the media world are touting her accomplishment of earning her sports pilot’s license. Why is this remarkable? This 25-year-old motivational speaker and newly licensed pilot accomplished all this without having arms. She uses her feet to fly a plane and drive a car.

In December, Jessica appeared as a celebrity guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and was featured in an article in AOPA ePilot (for aircraft owners and pilots) . She appeared on  Inside Edition and was touted in the Tucson Citizen. Here’s the clip from Fox and Friends on her recent appearance there. 

Wonder what January will bring.