Survive a Snow Blizzard and Help Others

If you own a four-wheel drive vehicle that is capable of getting out when weather conditions are bad, you might consider driving nurses and doctors to and from the hospital. Also, it is a great feeling to simply be a good Samaritan and drive around rescuing folks who are stuck in the snow. If you do decide to help, this article might have some tips and ideas you have not thought of yet… Also, if you know additional tips or ideas, please share in the comments below!

Note: If you do not have four-wheel drive, or are not comfortable in slippery weather, than please stay warm and cozy at home. With today’s equipment, we clear stuff up pretty dang fast… Sit back and enjoy the fire and a movie.

Note two: If you’re going out to get groceries, supplies, and fuel before a storm, consider going early morning or late evening, when the lines will be non-existent.

WARNING: Snow (especially deep snow) and related winter activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend using your head and carefully planning out any winter excursions. Remember that carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can easily occur if you sit in an idling car where the exhaust is partially blocked (think snow pile, deep water, closed garage, and so on). Never sit in a running vehicle who’s exhaust system is blocked or hampered in any way. Also, frostbite and exposure are very easy to get during cold times of the year. Dress appropriately (in layers) and bring extra layers just in case.

First… Let’s talk about the equipment that you should have in/on your vehicle for rescue expeditions:

  • Mobile phone and charging cord;
  • GPS and/or appropriate maps (I carry a compass, because a GPS can fail in a blizzard);
  • First Aid kit;
  • Recovery gear (recovery strap, 5/16″ (or thicker) grade 70 chain, D shackles, and so on);
  • Essential tools;
  • Jumper cables;
  • Shovel and/or entrenching tool;
  • Flashlights;
  • Extra jackets;
  • Rain gear (poncho is great);
  • Gloves, gloves, and more gloves;
  • Food;
  • Water;
  • Sleeping bags and/or blankets;
  • Jack, lug nut wrench, and full-sized spare tire.
  •  

    You might also consider carrying a fire extinguisher, extra fuel, toilet paper, air compressor, tire repair kit, and multi-tool (knife). I do.

    Before you head out, make sure that you have a good understanding of your four-wheel drive system and how to properly use it. I literally helped a guy one time who had his Mitsubishi stuck and didn’t realize it wasn’t in four-wheel drive… He thought it was an automatic system. Knowledge will help, big time!

    Also, make sure you let friends and family know where you plan to drive. Check in with them from time-to-time to let them know the conditions, and that you are okay.

    When I rescue, help, or otherwise offer assistance to folks, I do not accept payment. There are a few occasions when folks try to insist on giving you money… So, about 15 years ago, I printed 500 of these business cards that I hand out now:
    Pay It Forward
    Now it is my life-goal to hand all of them out.

    Depending on the depth of snow and road conditions, you might consider lowering your tire pressure. Only do this, if you know what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Never drive deflated tires on clear roads at normal speeds. Also, never go below 15 psi unless you have beadlocking rims. Remember that your ground clearance will come down a hair with every 10 psi, so consider only deflating 10 (or so) psi to increase your tread footprint and make the tire more malleable. Deflating all the way to 15 psi will nearly double your tread area, but comes with a price. Not only will your rig sit much lower, you also risk overheating your tires at road speeds. Having a larger tread on the ground will give you more traction (for driving and stopping)… But, you must weigh the depth of snow, conditions, and your experience before deciding to deflate. When in doubt, skip this tip.

    Before using recovery gear, make sure that you are well-versed in your equipment and how to safely use it. ALWAYS be patient and use your head. This is dangerous and can result in injury or death. Do not perform a recovery until you know more about it. I have done dozens of winch rescues and countless snatch strap recoveries and still run into new issues and conundrums each time.

    We average 17 inches of snowfall every year in my part of Maryland. So, it gives me plenty of time to practice my winter skills. I highly recommend going out every snow day and building your skills with practice. My father taught me this, and I am teaching my children the same thing. Never practice out on the road with traffic. Instead, find an empty parking lot and do some practice there. Remember that many parking lots have concrete curbs, light poles, and other obstacles, so carefully drive it (slowly) at first and feel your way around. Once comfortable, you can practice things like recovering from a slide (I think this is most important). Also make sure you practice braking, and how to avoid sliding while stopping. Get used to the way your rig, tires, and setup responds in snow conditions. The more comfortable you are in a parking lot, the better equipped you will be out on the real road.

    Most of all, watch out for others. There are many people out there (especially since the SUV-boom) who really shouldn’t be. Share the road and be courteous, but also keep your eye on them. I’ve seen my share of guys going way to fast in bad conditions, and I have seen more than my share of accidents that resulted from this (and ones that should have/could have been completely avoided). Don’t pass snowplows. Not only do you risk wrecking with the increased speeds, your paint will also take a beating from the ejecting salt and sand. Besides, those guys have the right-of-way. Their job is more important than yours in this scenario. Give ’em room to work!

    Remember that a lot of people walk during these storms. So watch carefully for pedestrians. Often they even walk in the plowed street, because the sidewalk isn’t clear yet. While I consider this insane, I still watch for and am patient with folks. We’re all in this game of life together. Save a life by simply paying attention!

    Let’s finish up with a timeline of some of the more major storms I’ve experienced, and hopefully you will share your stories in the comments below… We’ve had our share of Nor’easter storms, snow storms, and nasty weather that have left Maryland blanketed in snow. These are the ones that stick out the most in my memory (sorry if I got any dates wrong):

    February 1978 (Maryland got three feet of snow) – I was ten. My Dad and I went out in our brand new 1977 GMC Jimmy (K5 full-sized). Back then, very few had four-wheel drive. We drove nurses, doctors, and rescued stuck people (not to mention having a TON of fun). That was the start of my love of helping folks in need during emergencies.

    December 1992 (Maryland got more than three feet of snow) – Between four-wheel drive vehicles, I had gotten rid of my CJ5 and Jimmy. Unfortunately, I blew my transmission in my station wagon while trying to rescue people anyway… Lesson learned.

    March 1993 (Maryland got about 18 inches of snow) – I had a 1963 Willys CJ3B that had more rust holes in it than a sunk ship… That Jeep was incredible and it shined in deep snow. However, the doctor I drove to the hospital hung on for his life, and looked terrified that the military Jeep would fall apart with each bump. Ha!

    January 1996 (Maryland got more than two feet of snow) – My 1994 Toyota 4-Runner was a beast in the wet fluff. Notably, I helped many more stuck vehicles than ever before, as the SUV fad was full tilt and folks took out their vehicles with summer tires on them… Also, this was the first time the hospitals didn’t need my help, because they had tons of 4×4 people offering assistance. My fondest memory was helping a family drive home with their newborn baby. That was a treat and made it all worthwhile!

    February 2003 (Maryland got more than three feet of snow) – Our 2001 Dodge Durango proved it’s worth as I again went out on rescue missions. More-and-more folks were out there with street tires on a moderate SUV… It was mayhem, and I stayed busy yanking them out of ditches.

    February 2006 (Maryland got near two feet of snow) – Our 2004 Chevy Tahoe was aggressive and responsive. This larger vehicle was ridiculously handy for driving half a dozen people around, but I could clearly see the downside of a huge and heavy truck in the deep snow.

    February 2010 (Maryland got a combined four feet over two storms) – Our 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser was a fantastic truck to handle this “snowmageddon.” Too date, this was by far the best truck for the nasty weather.

    Now I’m excited to see if the hype is real for the January 2016 Blizzard… If it is, my 2016 Willys is here and prepared. I have a feeling it will reign champion as the best snow vehicle I’ve ever owned. Bring it!
    2016 Willys

    Thanks for listening (reading), and please focus on safety if you go out,
    Vaughn

    p.s. Give me a ring if you get stuck or stranded and I will try to get out there and rescue you!

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    How to Give a Killer Speech or Presentation

    So much advice exists out there, and here I am just piling on more… However, I do have some experience in this field. I am an inspirational speaker and extreme encourager who has given hundreds of speeches and presentations. Over the years I’ve learned some really important key factors and also built some of my own opinions on things that do or don’t work. So, I thought I would share some of my findings… Just remember that like most things found on the web, this is my personal opinion and you should obviously create your own based on your findings.

    Probably the number one question I get asked is, “How do you speak to an audience without fear and nervous tension?” The short answer is, I don’t. HA! How do you like them apples?? Honestly, I’m not sure I will ever be completely rid of the butterflies. I mean come on, this is simply a human reaction (stemming from flight, fright, or freeze) that we cannot control. That said, there are several things you can do (or not do) to alleviate your pain. Some of these will sound ridiculously obvious to many, but hopefully I can share enough of my own ideas to help anyone.

    Before I list my thoughts on soothing speech jitters, let’s dispel a few ideas I think aren’t as good as some people say they are:

    1. Imagine your audience is in their underwear. Really? Um… I dunno about you, but this just doesn’t work for me. I mean come on… Do I really wanna be thinking about that?? I have enough trouble concentrating on my task at hand, without throwing in: the old guy with the walker and wondering if he’s wearing a diaper… Or, getting stuck on that hot lady in red…

    2. Never look people in their eyes. Stare at foreheads or something else. This might work for some, but I’m sincerely trying to connect with my audience. My speeches and presentations are from the heart and it just doesn’t feel right trying to locate a mole on someone’s head, or worse getting caught (accidentally) staring at the lady in red’s breasts.

    3. Use lots of bullet points so you can remember where you are and what you’re talking about. Ahhhh… No. Bullet points are boring as shit. See my section below about preparation and practice, know your talk like the back of your hand, and skip the twenty lines of code on each slide. I don’t have a cute line about the lady in red for this one, but for some reason I can’t get her out of my head…

    Now let’s talk about real world things we can (and probably should) do to eliminate or at least lessen stage fright… First and foremost, if you want to skip the upset stomach, sweaty palms, and nervous stuttering, do this one thing:

    • Make sure your speech doesn’t suck!!!

    That may sound silly, but it’s true. If you’re already nervous about your content then you will automatically be nervous while presenting it! The easiest way to do this is to prepare. And then, prepare. Finally, after all that, make sure you prepare. You need to carefully and meticulously research your speaking points and ensure that the material is actually going to be important to your intended audience! Skipping this stage is sure to keep you up late at night and make you horribly nervous at speech time.

    • Along with the three prepares, you must also do three (or more) practices. There is no simple algorithm that tells you precisely how much time to spend practicing, but I can tell you that the better you know your material, the better you will feel when you walk onto that stage. Think about this, would you be more nervous going on stage and trying to simply say, “A, B, C” or reciting a page of Shakespeare’s King Lear from memory? I dunno about you, but I’ll take “A, B, C” any day!!! The reason is simple. My odds are infinitely higher that I will screw up chanting ancient tomes. That said, by practicing and knowing your material you will calm yourself.
    • Use photos or graphics instead of words… If at all possible, don’t put words in your presentation slides. If I have any words, they are short one-liners that give an overall look at this section of my talk. Instead I find inspirational (and cool) photos that relate to the subject. The audience doesn’t want to read through boring line after line… They wanna see a beautiful sunset or picturesque ocean wave. Just make sure that whatever you put there will keep you focused on the part you’re discussing. For instance, when I get to a part where I’m telling a scary story from one of my mountaineering expeditions, I have a photo of a crevasse, or mountain peak, or guy freezing his arse off. This way you won’t distract yourself, or (more importantly) the audience.

    Side note: If you aren’t relying on bullet points or run-on sentences in your slide deck, then you will be much better prepared when the laptop, projector, or something else fails. Part of the “be prepared” and practice session is that if a wrench gets thrown into your talk (it happens to the best of us), you will be ready to roll despite the hurdles. In turn, this makes you even more comfortable when speech time comes!

    • Be properly fueled up and hydrated. I can’t express this one enough… You must have a balanced level of nutrients and water in your body. If you aren’t hydrated you will feel it on stage. Along these lines, don’t go out partying late the night before a speech… Getting drunk, hung over, and tired before a speech is a big no-no. If you enjoy libations, feel free to do that AFTER your speech! This can be an exhilarating way to celebrate with some of your audience.
    • Fitness goes hand-in-hand with nutrition. I find that doing some physical activity before a speech (make sure you have time for a shower and clean-up… Don’t just run right on stage after a five mile run, ding-dong!) really ramps me up and energizes me. Don’t over do it, but get some exercise in and empower yourself!
    • Take a potty break a short while before your sprint onto stage. Regardless of how often you pee, you will feel like you need to go to the bathroom leading up to your speech. Make sure you get a bathroom trip in before going on stage. Feel comfortable knowing that the sensation is all in your mind, and move past it.
    • Remember the rule of tens… Actually, I’m not sure if there is a rule of tens… hehe… But, I call it that. People tend to get bored after about ten minutes. So, prepare your speech so that you are switching slides at least once every ten minutes. Change your subject or storyline at least once every ten minutes. If one of my stories or subjects goes over the ten minute line, I like to throw in something scary right at the ten-minute mark and emphasize it with extreme arm flailing and loud vocals. Whatever you do, keep the crowd engrossed by giving them a change of pace.
    • If you’re funny, then start with a joke… If you aren’t, then skip it. This is another of the obvious ones, but must be discussed. I’m a goofball, and love laughing at myself. It’s actually a bit of a tension breaker for me (not just the audience) to get up and start with a chuckle. Often I will pick on myself or one of my silly faults. That said, if you aren’t a naturally funny person, you might want to forgo the awkward joke. There is no written rule about using or omitting a joke as an introduction… But I can tell you that your nerves will only get worse if you tell a dry joke and no one laughs. food for thought!
    • Lastly, and perhaps most important… Believe in yourself, believe in your message, and believe in your audience. Remember, these guys and gals signed up to hear what you have to say. You owe it to them, to relay your message with a positive impact and inspirational spin. Now get out there, and nail it!

    BTW – did you notice I used bullet points to point out my ideas?? Remember: BPs are okay in an article, not okay in a speech.

    Disclaimer: The lady in red is a fictitious character and is simply a product of the author’s lewd imagination. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely in my dreams…

    What do you do to spice up your talks and ease your worries?

    I hope this post was not only helpful, but also inspirational in some form or fashion.

    Cheers,
    Vaughn

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    Surefire Way to Beat Your Best Time

    Today’s article was inspired by a close friend, Paul. During a casual conversation he mentioned that he’d had an epiphany about something I’d said to him a few months back. Paul has always been fit and healthy, but over the last two years or so, he’s ramped it up a good bit. One of the exercises that he really likes and has done good at are pull-ups. Pull-ups are a great exercise and they can also be very hard to do when you’re just starting out. Several months ago, Paul asked me a simple question… How can I do more pull-ups?

    That is an excellent question! I started with my standard personal trainer response… Weighted negatives, lat pulldown, interval training, assisted pull-ups, curls, bentover rows, yada yada yada…

    While these are certainly ways to increase your maximum number of pull-ups, I also thought of something else, and said so. “The easiest way to do more pull-ups is to lose some weight.”

    Wow! There… I said it! And, it felt good to say!!!

    Paul laughed and said, “That actually makes sense.” The light switch clearly clicked in Paul’s head that day… But, he did something for me too. By seeing how simple this idea was, and by saying so, Paul opened my eyes. I decided to do a little investigation; which I am want to do in times like these. Can you guess what I figured out?

    Did you know that the average person can do about one to two extra pull-ups for every 5% of body weight loss? If we go one step further, you can do approximately three pull-ups with each 10% of body weight you lose. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. To make this more real, let’s show an example:

    Say a man weighs 185 pounds and has 22% body fat. In order to drop his weight by 10%, he’d have to lose 18.5 pounds; which would take him down to 166.5 pounds and 12% body fat.

    During the weight loss period, this “example man” would also be working out and increasing strength anyway, but now he’d have the advantage of a lower weight and do even more pull-ups then if he ONLY increased his strength. On top of that, he would be considerably healthier at 12% body fat instead of a beefy 22%.

    Pretty cool huh?

    Now let’s talk about my epiphany. To me, counting pull-ups is arbitrary. I mean what does it really mean, except being able to say you can do more than someone else. No real correlation to things in life, unless you challenge others in pull-up competitions. My epiphany was in a totally different area… Racing! I started thinking about it, and realized that I could also trim my run times and bike times by trimming the fat.

    Not convinced?

    Here’s a simple question. If you ran your fastest mile with a 18.5 pound backpack on, do you think it would be as fast as you could do without the pack? Of course not!! Now imagine that stripping that extra bit of fat off your body (which is what most of us want to do anyway) is a weighted backpack. This gets exponentially more important when hills are involved! You get my point?

    Wanna trim some seconds off your 5K time? Wanna get a PR (personal record) in your next triathlon? Wanna finish faster in a mountain bike race? Maybe you simply want to run up some neighborhood hills without feeling like you’re dying! Obviously you need to workout and train hard to continue improving… But, I just gave you an ace up your sleeve. Include a proper nutrition plan and cardio/weight training regiment to properly lose fat, while building muscle and you will beat your competition!!! Guaranteed or 100% of your money back!

    I sincerely hope this advice helped skim some time off your next race!

    -Rip

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    How to Recover From an Injury

    Let’s talk about injuries and how to get over them! Before we do that, let’s quickly get the painful stuff out of the way first.

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    My first piece of advice in this article is how my disclaimer ends… Listen to your body! You might think that sounds more like a fantasy, then real life… However, I’m here to tell you that I am not only capable of listening to my body, but I literally communicate with it. Perhaps hemophilia is a gift, because I believe it’s the reason I can hear my body speaking. Most easy bleeders that I know are gifted with the ability to listen to their body. If you aren’t a hemophiliac or dealing with some other painful disease or problem, you might need to dig awful deep to hear your body talk. I recommend meditation for starters to get yourself in tune.

    There is a very popular and silly saying: No pain, no gain! Well, that is just plain ridiculous. I would actually say: No gain comes from pain! Regardless of what you might think, there are some kinds of pain that are not good and it’s rarely a smart idea to workout when you’re experiencing this kind of pain. Keep this in mind the next time you are trying to exercise while your body is trying to heal.

    I bring this up because we all know many active athletes (myself included) who not only complete races on injuries, but even train through them. Everyone thinks differently about this but I’ll share my thoughts. I believe in pushing myself despite injuries when I’m in an actual race or event… That said, I do not like to push my body through training when I’m injured. Do you guys see the difference? You need to talk to your body, listen, and then determine if you can workout or not.

    Once you know you are injured and decide to skip a few workouts, you need to figure out what to do during the healing process. Certainly you guys all know what RICE stands for, but let me spell it out anyways:

    Rest – Recovery requires sleep and downtime.
    Ice – Cold helps with the healing process.
    Compression – Wrap your injury.
    Elevation – Raising the injury spot helps it heal too.

     

    I made up my own mnemonic (I have a need to be different). I call it, the five I’s:
    Injury = Ice, Ibuprofen, Interlude, and Invert.

    Regardless of what you use, it’s important that you have your own process to follow during your healing phase of an injury.

    Many folks like to alternate ice and heat on an injury… As a hemophiliac I sort of fear heat. So, I’m very careful to ensure the bleeding is not only stopped, but won’t recur before I apply heat.

    Depending on the injury, you might want to do specific stretching too. Always do gentle smooth stretches and never bounce. This is true whether you have an injury or not. Carefully stretch injuries and slowly go until you get close to pain. Never stretch to the point of pain. As I’ve said over-and-over again, listen to your body. Focus on that painful injury area and slowly stretch. Listen. If you feel (hear) pain approaching, stop the stretch where you are. If possible, hold it. For the best results, hold this stretch for 22+ seconds and then slowly ease up and relax. Repeat a few times for a deeper and more invigorating stretch.

    Once the damaging pain of an injury starts to subside (this can be a day or several months), I recommend starting to do some extremely light weight exercises that pinpoint the injury area. As I keep saying, take it easy and do not push yourself in the beginning. Over the next several days, carefully and slowly raise the weight and range of motion.

    Normally you only need a day or two of rest between workouts… However, when dealing with an injury, you know what to do by now… That’s right… Talk to your body, and listen. If it tells you that it is ready to continue, then by all means… Continue.

    Depending on how bad the injury was/is, go through several days to several weeks of gradual increases in stretching and lifting. Continue this until you have full range of motion and no pain before moving back into your “normal” workout routines.

    I hope you never need the advice in this article… But, if you do, you can always lean on me and my experience.

    Be well,
    Rip

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    Make Your Creative Juice Flow

    Our last Inkslinger blog article was about the choice to outline or not. Now that you’ve gotten past that stage, let’s talk about where you can find some creativity when you aren’t feeling particularly creative.

    The world is full of wonderful things that can help boost your creativity. Sometimes I find that a simply walk around the neighborhood is enough to spark something magical. If I’m feeling extra dull and struggling, one of my favorite things is a hike in the wilderness. Getting away from concrete and asphalt always helps to clear my mind and inspire me to write.

    Along with walking and hiking, I love music to help generate emotional creativity. Sometimes I listen to it before writing, other times I blast it while writing.

    Often I find creativity being built while I read other books. I’m careful that I don’t utilize the stories I’m reading but I can definitely pull some excitement to write and ideas about my story by seeing the viewpoint of other authors.

    Before writing, I often watch inspirational videos on YouTube. These will spin me up more than most anything else. I get pumped and after watching one or two, my fingers literally fly over my keyboard banging out stuff.

    Meditation is another technique I use to tap into my creative side.

    If I’m getting writer’s block, I love to do Google searches and read other blogs to help inspire me.

    One area that drives me nuts and I avoid is writing with the TV on in the background. I can’t juggle television shows while trying to generate a story. This might work for you, but I try very hard to make sure that the TV is not on while I’m typing away.

    If you struggle with creativity and often find yourself experiencing writer’s block, try playing with timing. What I mean is each day write during a different time of day. I have found that I often do my best writing before the sun comes up, so I set my alarm for an hour or two early and bang out my words before the world even starts moving…

    This is what a friend of mine, Staci, had to say about making those juices flow:

    “Great ideas, V. I use some of the same. A shortcut for me is to hike solo into the woods. Not because the woods hold any special power for me, but because being alone in that space accomplishes several goals for me. First, it shifts my focus to “being” rather than doing or producing. And creativity is best in me when it simply flows. Also, I’ve found that that level of disconnect from screen time gives me opportunity to explore what is genuinely me, without distraction or insertion of other stuff. Examining process is fun… Thanks for sharing!”

     

    Hopefully, this article was able to inspire and motivate you… But, most of all, I want to help you find creative avenues for your own adventures!

    As fellow inkslingers, what do you guys do to make your creative juices flow??

    Sincerely,
    Vaughn

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    Write Your Book

    I was inspired by my friend, Susan Kim, to write about how easy (literally) it is to write your first novel. We were talking about writing and the ups and downs of it, when it occurred to me that the majority of people I know dream of writing a book and yet fewer than 5% of them have actually done it. So, as I was taking my Scottish shower (see my earlier blog post for this most energizing and creative way to cleanse yourself – Take a Cold Shower) I started thinking about this more. I decided it was article worthy.

    Did you know that most publishers consider 40,000 words to be the minimum word count in a submitted book? My autobiography, Survivor, has approximately 100,000 words in it. That said, there are a few authors that stuff 160,000 or more words into a book; which is more like an encyclopedia in weight and reading time! For simplicity’s sake, I decided to do a few calculations based around a 120,000 word book. This will give us more than enough for an average sized book. The other piece of the calculation that we need to guess is how many words per minute you can type. I believe that the average person in today’s computer age can type 60 WPM (words per minute). This is even true of single digit hunt-and-peckers like me. I can actually type close to 100 WPM with only my pointer fingers and thumbs! I assume most of my friends with aspirations of writing a book can beat the average of 60 WPM, but let’s stick with 60 to cover all bases.

    Now for the fun part (I love math). The calculation part… Considering 60 WPM, you could literally type 120,000 words in under 34 hours. You read that right! For all of you procrastinators out there, you literally could write the rough draft of an entire book without sleeping! As a matter of fact, this is exactly how Sylvester Stallone wrote Rocky, when he sat non-stop and wrote the entire thing in three and a half days!!!

    Now, most of us mere mortals cannot sit in front of a keyboard for 34 hours straight. At the very least there are things like food and potty breaks. However, don’t you think this is encouraging?? Now let’s dive a little deeper and be more realistic.

    Most writers that I have read say that they normally write for about two hours per day. With that in mind, you could bang out a 120,000 word book in under 17 days. Even two hours per day is a bit tough for us weekend warrior types. So, what if I asked you, “Could you find thirty minutes each day to write?” Think about it… Can’t ANYONE squeeze thirty minutes out of a super busy day to write? Of course we can. Now that we know what we can absolutely do, let’s look at the math:

    At one half-hour per day, you could write a 120,000 (remember this is a thick book) word rough draft in 69 days (actually 68, but I really love the number 69 – plus this gives us one cheat day. HA!) So, even with some missed days, any of us could type in a rough draft in a mere two-and-a-half months!!!

    What are you waiting for? Stop being a lazy procrastinator and get off your ass! I mean it! It is seriously that easy!

    Now… Since we got the math part out of the way… In future blog posts I will talk about ways to outline and write your desired story. And, where to pull creative juices from. And, finally we’ll talk about things like polishing your rough, getting it edited, and finding an agent and/or publisher. This is fun! And, simple! Remember what I like to say, “Just because something is simple, does not make it easy.” And, writing is a perfect example of this quote. However, now that you have the math laid out before you, you have no excuses!

    While you’re waiting for my future writing posts, be sure to checkout all of my previous ones in the InkSlinger section.

    I honestly expect to hear from at least one friend in three months time who adamantly thanks me and thrillingly says, “I did it! I wrote my first novel!”

    Love you all,
    Vaughn

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    Care for a Threesome?

    Let’s talk about one of the toughest competition fitness events that you can put your body and mind through. Triathlon.

    It’s my belief that triathlon is the single greatest way for you to stay in the best shape of your life. Think about what this sporting event has to offer. Swimming. Biking. Running. When combined, these three activities can’t be matched for building the ultimate healthy body. If you’ve got the guts (and I do mean that), you should give this AWESOME sport a tri.

    Before we start… You guys know what’s coming…

    WARNING: Working out and exercise can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here (and everywhere on my blog) are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout and/or race, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Now stop making excuses and get in the game!!!

    Many people consider a marathon to be the toughest thing you can compete in… Others say that a century bike ride is unbelievably tough… You can imagine what folks say about swimming 2.4 miles… Well… Combining all three of these into one event and pushing yourself in each of them is sick beyond any individual sport. Triathlons will push you like you never imagined possible!

    Triathlon is a relatively new sport. It was technically started in the 1920’s in France… But, it is widely recognized that the first “real” triathlon occurred in 1974 in San Diego. 46 people participated in that race, including Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan, the two guys who came up with the idea.

    “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!”
    — Commander Collins, USN (1978)

    Standard Distances

  • Sprint: Swim: 750 meter (.465 mi) / Bike: 20 K (12.5 mi) / Run: 5 K (3.1 mi)
  • Olympic (AKA Intermediate): Swim: 1.5 K (.93 mi) / Bike: 40 K (25 mi) / Run: 10 K (6.2 mi)
  • Half-Ironman (AKA 70.3): Swim: 1.9 K (1.2 mi) / Bike: 90 K (56 mi) / Run: 21.1 K (13.1 mi)
  • Ironman (AKA: Ultra or 140.6): Swim: 3.8 K (2.4 mi) / Bike: 180.2 K (112 mi) / Run: full marathon – 42.2 K (26.2 mi)
  •  

    Along with these distances there are several that differ slightly. The one that stands out the most is the “mini-sprint” or “super-sprint”; which is typically about half the distance of a standard sprint. This is the distance I would recommend doing (if it’s available in your area) for your first race.

    First Things First
    To start racing, your best bet is to get a membership at www.usatriathlon.org. This membership will get you access to join most races around the country. And, you get a magazine when you sign up.

    After joining USAT, buy a book… The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel, who I consider the most knowledgeable and amazing coach in triathlon history!

    Next thing on your list of to-do’s is to find some local races. I’ve found that www.trifind.com is a good resource… But, you can find tons of sites by simply Googling, “local triathlon races” or checking out the USAT website. Once you find one that gives you ample time to train for it (think two or three months if you’re in reasonably good shape), sign up and commit yourself!

    Finally, TRAIN HARD!

    A Few Tips and Pointers

    On my first race I learned a few things and I made a few mistakes… Let me tell you guys about some of these in the hopes that your first race can go a tad better.

    I pushed myself hard in the swim and paid for it as I tried to put my bike shoes on. I nearly passed out… Remember to push yourself hard but then taper off near the end of the first two events; which will make your transition better.

    My swim to bike wasn’t the only problem area… I also pushed myself hard to the end of the bike and found my calves literally locking up during the start of my run. I limped out of the transition area and spent the first five minutes hobbled and hopping. When my legs finally started responding I had lost some precious minutes!

    When I started my run, I had forgotten to take my helmet off. Honestly I would have forgotten to put pants on if that was part of it. I was dazed, confused, and lost… Stay calm and stay focused and you will be fine. Enjoy those first few mistakes you make and laugh at yourself. This is about fun!

    One thing that you can do to avoid the calf problems I had is to stand up out of the saddle during your last mile or so on the bike. Ease back a hair and do the pedaling in a way that you can stretch your calves. You might lose a few seconds because of this slowing down, but it beats the minutes you’ll lose if you don’t do it!

    In your transition area, make sure that you carefully lay things out ready for you to change into them… During your race your mind will be all mixed up and the easier you make the transition station the quicker you can get past it. I like to wear socks for the bike and run (some people don’t), so I wear very short socks to make them easier to put on. When your feet are wet, socks are freaking tough to put on! One thing that helps is to turn them halfway inside-out. This way you can stuff your toes in and then simply unravel them around your moist feet.

    I also bought elastic shoe laces for my tri running shoes, so I don’t have to waste fifteen seconds tying them. It’s the little things that will speed up your transitions!

    Get a tri suit (one piece or two piece is personal preference). The bike seat pad in a tri suit is thinner and won’t absorb water during the swim.

    Practice your transitions!

    Training

    As I mentioned, you should get The Triathlete’s Training Bible. But, if you don’t I can give you a few pieces of training advice. You need to train in all three sports. And, it’s important to prepare yourself for the bike to run transition by following some of your bike rides with an immediate run. These style workouts are commonly referred to as BRICK (Bike, Run, ICK!)

    After some of my swims I like to leap out of the pool and stand immediately. This is a bit of a rush, but it gets you used to the transition to bike.

    Along with training in each sport, I think it’s very important that you do some cross-training… I prefer weight lifting for my cross-training. And, don’t forget some serious core work. The core is the key to ALL three sports and will benefit you greatly!

    I hope that this article was helpful.

    And, let me know what you think. Also, tell me about your experience with triathlons.

    See you at the starting line,
    Rip

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    Getting Results

    For better or for worse, ALL of the things we do have results or an outcome. Wouldn’t it be cool to shape your life to provide positive and desired/wanted results? This post is related to one of my passions… Improving yourself. I am going to spend a little bit of time here, and hopefully help you get closer to achieving your dreams.

    Many moons ago, a saying became very popular and has seemingly stuck with us… The saying is: “Knowledge equals power.”

    While this is a potent statement, I do not feel that it applies as well today as it may have eons ago. It’s my belief that it takes a good deal more than knowledge to give you power. Along with this statement, another one comes to mind: “Just Do It!” While this is another potent saying, it isn’t really possible without some planning and focus… Right?

    Let’s talk about my trademark super-secret formula that gives you more than knowledge equals power and/or just do it… My formula gives you the entire bluprint and allows you to accomplish any dream!

    My formula is: KFD=R

    or:

    Knowledge
    Focus
    Drive

    (equals)
    Results

    What? You may be asking… Let’s break it down!

    What is knowledge?
    Knowledge is information, facts, or data that is gathered through many areas like:

  • Internet searches (Google it, but beware fiction);
  • Books, videos, audio recordings, and other media;
  • Life lessons;
  • Peers, friends, and family members;
  • Church;
  • Schools and training;
  • Your own thought process.
  •  

    Try some of the following ideas to utilize the knowledge that you gather:

  • Gather information and ideas;
  • Select an optimal approach to tackle tasks;
  • Utilize friends, mentors, coaches, and peers (bounce ideas off each other);
  • Learn by doing (“sharpen the saw” as Covey likes to say);
  • Avoid analysis paralysis.
  •  

    When a baby touches a hot stove, she does not need KFD (Knowledge, Focus, and Drive) to learn and follow through. In most cases, when extreme pain is involved, the focus and drive come naturally.

    Unfortunately, most things in life will not be powerful (painful) enough to ensure we will do what it takes to accomplish our desired result or outcome.

    Be proactive instead of reactive!!! The baby scenario aside, we all deserve and desire a healthy and happy life… So, make that your focus and drive. Instead of waiting for a doctor to tell you that you’ll need a walker, or are going to die… I challenge you to walk away from this discussion and be proactive in creating a healthier you!

    What is focus?

  • Concentration;
  • Motivation;
  • Application;
  • Thinking or pondering;
  • Hard work;
  • Devotion;
  • Believing.
  •  

    Design a doable plan to achieve your desired outcome (avoid analysis paralysis). Once your plan is in place, utilize focus to stay on track with what you know and make adjustments as necessary to achieve your final outcome. Keeping a journal and tracking your progress will make a big difference in accomplishing things that you set out to achieve. Make sure that you watch out for time stealing distractions. Finally, surround yourself with like-minded people.

    Let me ask you something… When an airliner flies from Dulles Airport to Sea-Tac Airport do you think that it simply flies one straight path over the entire flight? Of course not. A flight across the country goes through thousands of course corrections. For similar reasons, you must stay in touch with your goals and ensure that your daily path is adjusted to get you to your final destination!

    “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.”
    — Henry Ford

    What is drive?

  • Willpower;
  • Gumption;
  • Determination;
  • Get-up-and-go;
  • Mental toughness;
  • Persistence;
  • Self-discipline;
  • Resolve;
  • Tenacity.
  •  

    Along this path, find some leverage. Often this leverage will be small, and other times it will be as big as a doctor telling you, “You will die if you don’t change.” Regardless of the size, leverage is a very powerful tool to help you follow through with goals. Concentrate! Dig deep when you must. Be persistent, and NEVER give up!!!

    Now we can say it… “Just do it!”

    What are results?

  • Outcome;
  • Consequences;
  • Goals;
  • Conclusion;
  • Effect;
  • Finale;
  • Product;
  • Accomplishment.
  •  

    Define your desired results or outcomes. Here are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Exercise and/or weight loss;
  • Get closer with God;
  • Financial success;
  • Happy home;
  • Improving at work;
  • Quit smoking;
  • Write a book;
  • Live a righteous life;
  • Become a successful entrepreneur.
  •  

    Apply KFD=R today!

    In order to be successful at using KFD=R you need to know your “desired outcome” or the results you wish to achieve. These results need to be clearly outlined and defined.

    Once you know your results you will want to set short and long term goals. These goals will vary based on the desired outcome.

    “Climbing Our Mountains Takes Knowledge, Focus, and Drive”
    — Vaughn Ripley

    I hope this post was helpful, insightful, and most of all motivational! And —As always— Please give me feedback and provide comments on your own life experiences!

    See ya soon,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Start Your Own Business

    Creating a business is rarely as easy as you might think. Sometimes it’s as easy as doing work and charging for it. This is called a sole proprietorship. However, most of us would like at least a partial veil of protection, and that requires incorporating in some form or fashion.

    I’ve done this a few times, so I thought I would lay out how to do it for those of you who are curious. I’m going to use a real example for this article, only I will change the business name to protect the guilty. Let’s call our fictitious company, EIEIO.

    I thought of this article, because I’ve created several businesses, and it has always been a bit of a tedious experience. I have read about twenty books on forming a company/corporation so far and I am still a little out of my league! Anyway, let’s pretend I am starting a company to do computer consulting and I want to name it EIEIO. I want to form a company (as opposed to sole proprietorship), because this will make us take it more seriously. And, it will make others take us more seriously.

    If anyone has questions, insight, or whatever, please feel free to respond with a comment and I will try to tackle it.

    I decided to make my company a limited liability company (LLC). Why LLC? I selected LLC as the entity type, because it is a “pass-through taxation” (unlike C-Corp, but similar to S-Corp entities). This means that the owner gets taxed, not the company. Also, it is a tad bit easier to run, because you do not have a board of directors or stockholders. Instead of shareholders as owners, you have “members.” Finally, I wanted either Corporation status or LLC, because Sole Proprietor and Partnerships do not offer liability protection. In other words, if someone sues my company, they can’t come after my house, boat, savings accounts, etc without “piercing the corporate veil.”

    I decided to name our new company: EIEIO, LLC. I chose this name simply because I already own the web domain ( I don’t really own eieio.com, but I sure wish I did!) and it is easygoing for a technology business name. It works.

    In this example, I’m going to have sole ownership (100% ownership) for ease of use.

    Pretend that I decided on sole ownership for now, because my plan is to apply for an 8(a) status in two years (or sooner, with a waiver) and it will require that I (the “discriminated-against” individual) have a majority ownership in the company. Look for future posts about 8(a) and other special small business types.

    Forming the LLC was fairly straight forward. I found the following websites; which all offer LLC creation. My plan is to create the LLC myself, but I wanted to share some good sites and pricing to make it easier for you:

    Legal Zoom $550
    LLC.com $720 (comes with three NOLO books)
    BizFilings $523
    My Corporation $423
    The Company Corporation $720 (suspiciously like llc.com)

    This company will be formed in Maryland. Maryland’s fees end-up being about $200. However, most of the above mentioned “packages” include Article of Organization (which are required documents to start an LLC), a company stamp, documents and agreements on CD, state filing, EIN filing, etc. For the money, I think that these services are worth every penny.

    Other BLOGs (and info) About Forming a Company:
    zacjohnson.com/how-to-form-an-llc-for-your-business
    entrepreneurs.about.com/od/businessstructure/ht/llcsetup.htm

    Kits can be found here:
    www.corpconnect.com/category.aspx?categoryID=5
    www.corporateseal.com/search_results.cfm/Search/KeyWordSearch/search_term/kit
    www.corpkit.com/store/catalog/LLC-Kits-p-1-c-487.html

    Sample pricing for doing this three different ways looks sort of like this:

  • File by myself: $100 (state fee) + ~$60 (company kit) = < $200
  • File using an online service = > $500
  • File using an attorney = > $1,500
  • In light of frugality and the simple curiosity I decided to do this myself and register on my own. This added a little bit of technical jargon to my process, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.

    Using the state of Maryland expedite fax form ( www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/charterfax.pdf ), I registered EIEIO, LLC.

    Because the fax service is automatically considered an “expedited filing,” it is registered in about seven business days. You can verify that your business was registered at this link: sdatcert3.resiusa.org/UCC-Charter/CharterSearch_f.aspx

    The fees were $100 filing fee + $50 expedite fee (this means it will take seven days as opposed to the “normal” six to eight weeks to form an LLC in MD), for a grand total of $150. Maryland’s fees can be found here: www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/fees.html

    Once I receive the information back from MD, I filed with the IRS for an EIN and also got a DBA (doing business as – or, fictitious name) for EIEIO (along with EIEIO, LLC).

    After receiving my EIN, I applied for a merchant business bank account; which will allow me to accept credit cards.

    Finally, I purchased a cheapo (that’s a technical term) LLC company kit. Each kit comes with a stamp, stock certificates, record book, and “official” articles of organization.

    Also, I registered this business from my home address and I plan on writing work area off.

    For accounting, I opted for Quick Books Pro Online (starting at $9.95 per month); which I use as an easy way to share my business financials with partners and my business CPA/accountant.

    Here is some good information about Merchant Bank accounts:
    www.home-business-savvy.com/home-based-business-merchant-accounts.html
    www.gspay.com/the-difference-between-merchant-accounts,-payment-gateways-and-third-party-processors.php

    After all of that hoopla, I may simply choose to continue to use Paypal via a “Website Standard” business account:
    www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_wp-standard-overview-outside

    Here are some links to resources that I am using to make sure that I follow all procedures in starting my business:

    Small Business Development Center
    Maryland Department of Labor, Licencing and Regulation
    Legal Zoom’s info on creating MD-based LLC’s

    Next, I went to the IRS page and registered my newly formed business. There was no charge associated with this, and the whole process took about four minutes.

    I ordered a standard LLC kit; which cost $76.00 + S&H = $83.45

    I received the LLC kit/package a few weeks after ordering it and then finalized the “Operating Agreement” for my LLC.

    Next, I signed-up for (and received) my business credit card from Capital One.

    Next steps:
    1. open a business bank account;
    2. buy the business domain (if I didn’t already do so);
    3. setup simple web page with content for my company;
    4. plan and implement some marketing ideas to get some consulting work.

    When you start your business banking account, don’t forget to bring your original Articles of Organization (that you originally filled with state), the response from your state, and your IRS EIN documentation.

    As planned, I created a Paypal account for EIEIO, so now I can accept credit cards.

    For government work (if you plan to work with the federal government) you will need:

    A CAGE Code (you get this when you register in SAM).
    DUNS Number.
    and you need to register in SAM (System for Award Management); which used to be CCR.

    Here is what I have located so far:

    By registering for SAM, you will automatically be assigned your CAGE code.

    I got my DUNS number by going calling D&B’s dedicated Government Customer Response Center at: (866) 705-5711, or by browsing to:
    to: fedgov.dnb.com/webform

    GSA information can be found here:
    www.gsa.gov

    And, these guys have some good GSA info as well:
    www.gsaadvantage.gov

    I located this site for Federal Opportunities for businesses: www.fbo.gov

    And, here is an SBA link to some additional goodies: www.sba.gov/services/contractingopportunities/index.html

    I registered for my DUNS using the SIC code: 7379 (you can search for SIC codes here)

    I looked up my NAICS code and came up with: 518210 (Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services)

    More info can be found here: www.census.gov/eos/www/naics

    I ordered my company logo from thelogocompany.net

    I went with these guys because I liked their portfolio and price. Some of the companies I found cost as much as $1,999.00. I was able to get my logo designed for the web and stationary plus 500 business cards for $289. They will send you five ideas and then you pick one and they work on it until you’re happy with the final artwork.

    They will also provide a greyscale version for trademark with the Patent and Trademark Office.

    Finally, I finished setting up the initial website: http://www.ThisAintReal.com

    I’m (you’re) ready for business…

    I realize this was a long article, but I really wanted to cover all of the steps for anyone truly interested.

    Have you created a business? Or, do you have experience in this area? Please comment below with your thoughts, ideas, and questions!

    Thanks for reading,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    How I Self Published

    Since my book, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C, has come out, I have been asked a plethora of times what the process was, how long it took, and how I did it. So, I decided to create a blog article to detail what made me decide to self publish, the steps I went through, the pitfalls, my struggles, cost, and of course, how long the entire publishing thing took.

    Let’s go back to the beginning to really get this post kicked off properly… In 1986 I was diagnosed with HIV, due to a bad blood transfusion. My doctor told me that I had fewer than two years to live. After those two years passed, I decided to start keeping track of my life stories (which were often pretty scary) in sort of a diary fashion. I wanted this to be a legacy for my friends and family after I died. In circa 2005 I realized that I had amounted a pretty large cache of data. Sometime around then my wife, Kristine, looked at all of my notes, stories, and timelines and said, “You know… you’ve got a book here.” She was right.

    Now, having a pile of notes and publishing a book are two totally different animals. But, I was on the right track, and did have a great start for an autobiography. With that in mind, I started turning my compiled notes into a book format. I had to create stories out of each journal entry, and this was hard work. I wrote the whole thing in the first person, and made it as if I was telling a story; which I was. Early into the project I also decided to be utterly frank and blunt. I was not going to hide my secrets (like the one I divulge in chapter twenty-five). I wanted my story to be brutally honest.

    Once I had the book written, I started sending query letters to agents and publishers. For about a year or so, each one was politely returned with a cookie cutter postcard that essentially said, “no thank you.” Then, I got my first break. An agent actually sent me a personal note, and it talked about how unless I had slept with a celebrity or was a famous figure, that my chances of publishing an autobiography was close to nil. While this was disheartening, I did appreciate the sincerity. I was once again back at square one. Then, out of the blue, someone suggested that I look into self-publishing. The funny thing is that I didn’t even know what that meant. Before long, I realized that it was a good avenue to get my work printed, published, and distributed. So I researched out the wazoo (something that I’m fairly good at). I finally narrowed my search down to one self-publisher in particular: iUniverse.

    On November 30th, 2009 I clicked a link to request more information about iUniverse and they responded that day. On December 2, 2009 I paid $1,400 to iUniverse for what they called the “Book Launch Premier Pro” package. Their website showed that the package listed for $4,200, so I was able to get a really good deal! And, this package was filled with tons of goodies including an email marketing campaign, all kinds of website setup (which I didn’t need, because I already had my own), Library of Congress and copyright setup, ISBN assignment, and 80 books (20 hardcover and 60 trade softcover). You can see iUniverse’s current packages here:
    www.iuniverse.com/Packages/PackageCompare.aspx

    I instantly justified the cost of the package, because I would be getting a retail value of $1,800 worth of books along with all the goodies they provided.

    The team at iUniverse was incredibly helpful and extremely prompt (no, I do not get kickbacks for praising them – I sincerely loved working with them). My assistants and helpers were a Godsend, considering I knew nothing about the publishing world. I was assigned an editor, who proofread my work and sent back suggestions. They also worked on taglines, biographical line, and additional marketing based things. Essentially, they did all of the legwork and tough stuff (besides writing the book) for me.

    After edits, rewrites, little changes, and adjustments we were finally ready. I looked over my final proof and approved it. The finished product was officially published on September 29, 2010. So, the entire process took ten months. I think that was a reasonable amount of time considering the copious amounts of work and effort that went into the project after I had finished my rough draft.

    I would strongly recommend utilizing the self-publish route if you are struggling to get published. I would also highly recommend iUniverse, although I suggest that anyone going this path do their own research and draw their own conclusions on what publisher to go with.

    One final note is that I sometimes hear, “Yeah but your book wasn’t really published…” To that I would retort, “My book was published. It has an ISBN, is registered with the Library of Congress, was printed and bound in soft and hard cover, and is available on all major online book seller sites. On top of that, it has been created on all popular eBook formats and is even available in the Frederick County Library system.” How can anyone say it isn’t published??

    If anyone ever asks you about the validity of self-publishing, you can always fall back on the list of other authors who have done it: Mark Twain, John Grisham, L. Ron Hubbard, Irma Rombauer, Walt Whitman, Richard Paul Evans, Jack Canfield and Mark Hensen, James Redfield, Beatrix Potter, Thomas Paine, Edgar Allan Poe, T.S. Elliot, Carl Sandberg, Gertrude Stein, Deepak Chopra, Upton Sinclair, D.H. Lawrence, George Bernard Shaw, E.E. Cummings, Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, Tom Clancy, and Stephen Crane. BOOM!

    One additional piece of advice is that everything is negotiable. So, when talking to the self-publisher you decide on, make sure you barter on the package price and future prices for your books that you buy.

    You can buy my book directly from my publisher, or through Amazon (among other online book sellers):
    My publisher: bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000173056/Survivor.aspx
    Amazon: www.amazon.com/Survivor-Mans-Battle-Hemophilia-Hepatitis/dp/1450260306
    Kindle: www.amazon.com/Survivor-Battle-Hemophilia-Hepatitis-ebook/dp/B00466HHTG

    If you’ve been through this process, or have questions, or simply feel like chatting, please comment below using the simple form.

    I sincerely hope that this article motivated or inspired someone out there, and helps you see that this process is doable!

    Love to all,
    V

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    How to Create Your Own Blog

    Several times a week I am asked two questions:

    1. What is a blog?
    2. How can I make my own blog?

    So, I thought I would take a break from the deadly serious subject of health and wealth and tackle another tough subject: blogging… and, how to do it.

    What is a blog?
    Let’s start with a definition. The term blog was created by combining the two terms “web” and “log.” Somewhere along the line, someone simplified these into the single word, blog. A blog is a journal of sorts that stores and displays (usually in reverse chronology) a person’s blog posts (articles).

    Most blogs are articles around a certain subject. For instance, my blog HIVLongevity.com was created to discuss how I’ve survived all of these years despite being HIV+. As you can see (if you read my other blog), not all of my articles are specific to surviving, but most all of them relate back to the subject in some form or fashion.

    You will find that almost all blogs out there have a way for readers and subscribers to comment on a specific post. In this way there is often an open dialog between the author(s) and readers. Therein lies the magic of a blog!

    Should you create a blog?
    Do you have a story to tell? Or, do you have lots of things to say that you think others would dig reading? You first might consider sticking to simple social media avenues like Twitter and the Facebook. But, if you, like me, feel compelled to post long diatribes on a routine basis then maybe a blog is for you. An important question is: Will you be able to keep up with a blog? Many authorities in the blogging world recommend posting a blog article AT LEAST once per week. Most say that you should even do more than that (think two or three per week at a minimum). Despite what you might think, this is much tougher than you can imagine without trying it!

    If you think you have something to share. And, that you’ll be able to share that weekly (or more often). And, (perhaps most importantly) that others will be interested in what you have to say/share… Then a blog may be just the thing for you.

    Before moving forward and creating a blog, I would recommend going out and reading other people’s blogs. Find ones that you like and read them on a regular basis. Note what they do that you like, and what they do that bugs you. This way you will be more prepared to provide a good blog for your future fans.

    How is a blog created?
    One of the first things you need to decide is if you want to host or be hosted. What that mostly means is how your URL will look. When I created hivlongevity.com and healthywealthytribe.com I decided to host it myself; which gives me the unique URL and a little bit more control (including deciding not to have someone else’s ads on my blog). If I had gone the hosted route, my blog URL might have been something like: healthywealthytribe.wordpress.com

    If you can afford to pay for a URL and site, and have the additional time needed to manage and administer your own site, I would recommend hosting it yourself. In addition to not having some provider’s ads on your blog, you also get the unique name, and to me it feels more like your personal site.

    That said, a free hosted blog site can be a good way to get started and learn the ropes. Just remember that if your idea/blog takes off and you decide to host it yourself later that you will not necessarily take your subscribers with you! Migration from a hosted blog to your own site is not an easy process, and you may lose readers along the way. Think this out before deciding.

    Creating a hosted blog is extremely easy. You simply go sign-up at a service like:

    wordpress.com
    www.blogger.com
    www.movabletype.com

    If you plan to do the hosting yourself, then I recommend using a provider like godaddy.com or someone similar. GoDaddy has a very easy process and you can stand up a server with pre-installed blog software using your very own domain name.

    I purposely didn’t go into deep detail here, because there are lots of sites that have already done this. If you are new to domain creation and blog install, I would recommend visiting one or more of the following sites:

    firstsiteguide.com/start-blog *note: most comprehensive blog creation site I’ve ever run into!
    howtostartablog101.org
    www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Blog

    Another great resource (as usual) is en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

    How Long Will This Process Take Me?
    The first thing you need to do is come up with a catchy name that isn’t already taken. This can take a few hours of investigation. After the name is decided, getting the domain name, setting up hosting, and installing your preferred blog software is normally accomplished within an hour or two.

    Once that is complete, you will need to select a theme (free or paid) and install it. Selection can take anywhere from ten minutes to ten hours depending on how much research you do. Installation of the theme is a simple process and only takes a few minutes.

    The tough part is editing your theme to make the site precisely the way you want it. This includes adding “plugins” to add the cool features you want on your blog. You’ll also add pages as needed (like about, contact, etc.) Expect this editing/adjusting part to take a solid twelve or more hours… if you’re doing it right.

    Now comes the easy(ish) part. Posting your first article. I like to do a “Hello, world!” post to get things kicked off.

    Once you have that first article published, consider writing other ones in advance and scheduling them. Most blog environments offer the ability to postpone publishing until a future date. Doing this ensures that you’ll have fresh content going up on a regular basis.

    I like to plan on an ENTIRE weekend to fully create a blog site and get the first article published.

    How to Attract Readers to Your New Blog
    Once you have the blog in place and have done a post or two, start by bouncing it off your friends with emails and status post on your favorite social media site(s). With a little bit of feedback, you should be able to adjust and work up to a mighty masterpiece.

    When you feel that your blog is ready for the general population, you can freely advertise it by going to other (similar) blogs and replying to blog articles as comments. You will notice that most blog comments allow you to put your website URL in there… Insert your blog URL. Before you know it, you will start to have a following and it will grow by word of mouth.

    Deeper marketing and publicity ideas are easily found on blogs around the web.

    Most of all; make sure that you are having fun with your blog.

    Now… Start writing!

    Your friend and fellow blogger,
    Vaughn

    p.s. In future posts, I will tackle deeper blog subjects like: plugins, themes, getting readers, advertisements, and even make some side-money posting. Until then, I hope this was useful.

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