Monday, February 22, 2010


If you're reading this blog, you might be like me, surfing writing sites to pursue the dream of making money doing what you love, writing. There are lots of blogs, sites, groups, classes, tips, and advertisements. Each of them promising a dream-come-true.

I'm surprised to see so many online writing groups that are closed to new members. They call themselves professional writers or agents that give tips on words that are unusual, not proper, and taboo in certain circles. Taboo words? Phooey! Is that a taboo word? I hope so. You probably get what I mean.

I am far too old to fall for this propaganda. I was in the health club business for most of my career, and I know that the most convincing looking muscle men didn't know squat about lifting weights, or fitness at all for that matter. My second career was fitness for horses. I was able to convert most of my education to the equine species and found the same thing. A good number of the people with the high falootin (not a word either) horses that performed the high falootin disciplines had money and coaches, but not necessarily horse sense or knowledge.

After writing educational courses and newsletters in the fitness business for over 30years, and, I might add, selling them for thousands of dollars, I'm finding the writing world to be similar to the others. Not the entire writing world, but I see a pattern emerging.

We are all simply word stackers. We find different and more creative ways to organize words. There is more than one way to stack words! Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson did not attend 10 years of songwriting or singing training. Simon Cowell, one of the most successful men in the music business, dropped out of school at the age of 16. I am not condoning dropping out of school, I'm just saying ...

If you are a writer looking to write,then write! YouTube is where the poet at the opening ceremony of the Olympics was discovered. He is now an overnight success. If you find a writing group in your town that is closed to anyone but Master Degree'd Literati, start your own. Of course, your grammar and punctuation needs to be correct, but if you don't get out there and become comfortable with who your inner-writer is, you will never land on both feet as a writer.

I will continue to surf the internet for groups, tips, workshops, and more, but doggone it, when I write I will use words that I choose, in the tone that I choose. I believe that my success might be Blowin' in The Wind for now, but not forever. kd

Saturday, February 20, 2010

To Write Or Not To Write ...

Writing has always seemed subjective to me. Sometimes, I look at the fiction that I have just written and say, “This is real garbage. I’ll never be good at this.” I absolutely remember the first time one of my characters came alive on the page. It was an argument scene between a man and a woman. The end was already written. I had played it out in my head. There were all these cute little sayings and witticisms that my man guy was going to use to dominate this timid controllable woman and win the argument.

It started simply and progressed accordingly, but something seemed to happen along the way. This timid little woman all of a sudden got a back bone. She stood up strait and tall, tucked in her shirt, pulled up her pants, and let my man guy have a verbal tongue lashing. You know the one that only a fed up domineered woman of a stupid controlling abusive idiot for a boyfriend kind of gal can deliver. I was shocked. She wasn’t supposed to win. She was supposed to be left speechless. Instead, during the writing I found myself saying, “you go girl. You tell this jerk of a man exactly what you think of him.”

“Yeah, and Furthermore, Mr. Holier than thou, let me tell you how I really feel about you.” I couldn’t believe it but at the end of the paragraph, I was part of the sisterhood. She had won me over and taken on a life all of her own. I couldn’t have stopped her if I had wanted. It was surreal. I guess when you come right down to it, there is no question. Some times you say, “Yes, Dear,” and you write what you’re told. Albert Bianchine

Friday, February 19, 2010

Old Ski Bums Never Die

Skiers are an odd lot. Snowboarders are even odder. Some of my best friends when I was ski bumming in Vail were Shred Betties. Telemark Skiers are the most reverent. I can still hear the refrain, “Free your heel, free your mind.” To me there is nothing more beautiful than a Tele-skier in fresh deep powder along the tree line, carving up some turns. The beauty belies the difficulty in the act of the turn. Cross Country skiers puzzle me! Why would you not let gravity assist you? They are a very fit lot.

I have been watching the Olympics every evening from Vancouver. Whistler and Blackcomb are incredible mountains. It was my good fortune to be a part of an exchange program there in the late 80’s. Watching Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn in the downhill events got my heart pounding just like I was there again. The runs are some of the longest and most thigh burning runs I have ever taken in my life! One mile of vertical is a long ski run. I couldn’t help but reflect back on my misspent adulthood as a ski bum. My friends and I spent the better part of the 70’s and 80’s chasing snow flakes and sunsets across North America. The quest for the ever deeper snows and ever steeper mountains is truly addicting. I am proud to be a recovering powderholic in my mid-fifties.

That brings me to my point. These days, like all older men, I try desperately to recapture my youth. The only way I know how to do it is by writing about it. You might call it the ( Last Trial of the World’s Greatest Ski Bum.) But let me tell you, for a brief moment sitting in my recliner in front of my Big Screen TV, I indeed was twenty five again. I could feel the wind in my face, the pounding of my heart in my chest, the rush of adrenaline through my veins and the burning in my quads, and thighs. I was straining to maintain my balance and keep my tuck through every turn and roller. All I can say is; “ Thank You to the all the Olympic Athletes for your great feats of endurance, stamina, and will. Thank you for the fire that burns to win from within. You made me realize that Old Ski Bums Never Die, the flame may grow cold, and yes, even old, but it still burns.” Albert Bianchine

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Self Publishing With Xlibris

I've asked that writers who post on our blog not say anything hateful, so I'm going to follow my own advice here. However ... I've been holding out on writing about this, but it's time.

When Al and I decided to publish our books, we decided to self publish just to get our stuff in book form for better promoting of our material. We thought that we had researched the market thoroughly. Apparently, we had not.

We chose an expensive package with the self publishing company called Xlibris in Indiana. The woman in sales was literate, responsive, and clearly spoke English. That part of the agreement went pretty well. Then, we started the actual information exchange. On many occasions I found myself with the urge to become physically abusive. Seriously, I visualized choking someone. It was one of the most violence provoking experiences of my life.

It should be simple. You send the copy, they edit, and return the corrected copy. The mistakes were unacceptable, the language barrier was unacceptable, the final copy had old errors that had been corrected back in it, and on and on and on!

Once the book was published, of course, since they get a much larger percentage of sales than you get, they HOUND you to give them more money for marketing so that they can get more money.

The final straw for me was when it came time for my quarterly royalty check. The quarter came and went. The person on the phone said that I might get it this week ... or next month. When I went back into my choke somebody visualizations, I still got no relief! The robotic, barely speak english voice on the other end of the line repeats "yes, Miss Duncan, I understand that you are angry Miss Duncan ..." AAARRRGGHH. "STOP with the smile school responses!" The more abusive that you become, the more robotic that they become.

No problem. I finally prepare to contact the Better Business Bureau. They have a beautiful BBB Member link on the website. DEAD END! The BBB link tells you that they are not a paid member of the BBB.

Would I recommend Xlibris as a self publishing choice. NO. Resounding NO! NOOOOOO!!! Would you give a classroom of fourth graders your manuscript for a professional presentation? Probably not.

If you look closer, you will notice that there are subtle clues all over their website. On the Authors page there is a note that says something about Royalty payments for 2004. They are outdated, out of touch, and hopefully, if I can help it OUT OF BUSINESS. Thumbs down, costs too much, outsourced to illiterate robots. There are much better choices.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Write My Fire

We've been watching American Idol this past few weeks, and the competition has really heated up. It amazes me to see hundreds of thousands of people lining up for the auditions. Each one of the participants has the same passion and dreams. To be the one. There will be a winner, in the end.

What I wish for them is that each of them will sing their song. There is something lost when they are voted off by the judges, but it's only a part of their dream. Their song lives on. They seem broken when they walk away, but their song sounds the same to me as it was the first day that they arrived. Who cares about the judges?

I've had more articles and essays turned down than I care to count. I've also sold some of my writing for $800.00 a page. I've written some scathing letters that paid $10,000 a page. So, if you don't like what you're reading, ho hum. I don't care. Tomorrow, I'll write something else. Maybe I'll win an essay contest that will pay its reward in Chinese Herbs, publish an article about massaging a horse, or write a threatening and scathing letter that will pay huge dividends. Either way, tomorrow I'll write. I'll sing my song and it will sound beautiful whether I end up being the American Literati or not. I will write again tomorrow.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wordstackers Unite

This is the first step in creating our new retirement business. Both of us writers. Him, a dreamer and a poet. Me, a researcher and organizer.

My husband Al is a fiction writer to the bone. He lectures me daily about suspending reality and going wherever I may. That seems delightful, but raised in a strict Catholic environment, my Italian parents would have said; "You need something to dream about? I got your dreams, right over there in the potato peeler, Sister!"

It's almost painful sometimes. I wish that I could dream up a poem! I am creative though. As long as I'm working. With a career in Health and Fitness, I've written articles and even a book on horse fitness! I'm more apt to write a newsletter, or a blog, or an essay, as long as I think that I'm striving for a beneficial purpose.

Together, we're a team! This is just the beginning of our retirement career where we hope to build a place for what I call "wordstackers" everywhere to share their own interpretation of word stacking. Whether it be a blogger, journal writer, novelist, or song writer, we hope to bring them all together for workshops, writing contests, and information to bring their creativity to fruition.

Today, I'm putting our new corporation together, opening a checking account, designing business cards, a facebook and twitter account, and as I already have, getting our blog together. This is exciting! Although we live in a remote and non-creative ranch area of Colorado, as soon as our house sells, we'll be re-locating to the great Northwest to unite with the vast wordstacker population in Portland and Eugene, Oregon.

Our experiences in writing and publishing are bound to help the beginner in the industry prevent some of the GREAT mistakes and successes that we have endured and enjoyed.

Here, on the first day of the Winter Olympics, "Let the games begin!"