2nd Hand Flip – Excerpts

2nd Hand Flip is a book I wrote about the Business of Reselling. A business that I “retired” into 20 years ago.  Here is a small excerpt.  The full book can be found in EBook format @ https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/768871.

My Facebook authors page is: https://www.facebook.com/GAClarkAuthor/?ref=bookmarks

2nd Hand Flip


According to National Association of Retail Trades, (NARTS) (https://www.narts.org,) a consumer research firm, an average of 15 percent of Americans shop at resale or 2nd hand stores in a given year.  The industry has experienced an average growth of seven percent a year for the past two years, and, according to IBISWorld, reselling is expected to increase at an annualized rate of nearly three percent until the year 2021.

The number is higher if you add in Flea Markets or sales through online thrift stores.  For consignment/resale shops, it is higher, hitting in the area of 12 – 15%.  To keep these figures in perspective, consider that during the same time frame; 11 percent of shoppers shopped at outlet malls, less than 20 percent in apparel stores, and  over 21 percent at major department stores.

While many major businesses close their doors every day, resale stores, including the small Mom and Pop booths in Resale malls, remain healthy and continue to be one of the fastest growing segments of the retail market.

Buying and selling for profit is nothing new.  It has been around for thousands of years; the only difference is that the currency has switched from goats and bread to paper, wood and plastic.  The first reason is the acceptance and use of the internet and the second reason is the economy.

Resell, Resale, Reseller, Vintage, Antique

Note: Throughout this book, I will use the term 2nd Hand or “Resale,” The term was first used as far back as the year 1625 (Webster)   I do this for simplicity and to broaden the overview of the business.  Properly defined however, a RESELLER is a business person who buys and sales 2nd Hand or Used goods.  A RESALE store can be a store that resells Antiques, Vintage or fairly New but Used or 2nd hand items.  The products sold can come from a variety of sources including estate sales, people who are downsizing, close out sales from retail chains, consignment, donated or other sources.  The definition of each is generally:

  1. Vintage: Too old to be considered modern, but not old enough to be considered antique. Often used to describe items for sale online, such as eBay auctions, Etsy, or Craigslist posts.  The word Vintage is used in printed listings such as classified ads describing an item that is made to look old.  Vintage is also as a euphemism for “heavily used” newer items.  Because vintage is always in style, you may find new “vintage looking” furniture in high-end furniture stores, bed and bath stores, and hobby stores.
  2. Retro: Recently out of style with potential to make a comeback. Example: In these days of high definition video, VHS is characterized as Vintage and will one day be Antique, while 1950’s chrome legged Formica topped tables and Naugahyde chairs are Retro or Mid Century Modern. (MCM)
  3. Antique: Antiques are usually objects that show some degree of craftsmanship, collectability, or a certain attention to design, such as a desk, glassware, glazed pottery or an early automobile. They are bought at antique shops, estate sales, auction houses, online auctions, and other venues, or estate inherited.  Antique dealers often belong to national trade associations, many of which belong to CINOA, a confederation of art and antique associations across 21 countries that represents 5,000 dealers.

Resale Dealers will find that over 60% of their inventory will be in the “Vintage” category.  20% is Retro and the balance will be Antiques.  As of this writing, an item produced before 1917 is considered as “Antique and anything over 20 years old is considered Vintage.”

1.     Do You Have What It Takes

Reselling takes some knowledge of your products.  I’m not talking about just antiques, even though the history of an item, called its provenance is what makes this business enjoyable and marketable, however what I am talking about here is knowledge of the business of reselling itself.

The first thing you have to know is that you will be in a stable market.  Reselling is a healthy investment for middle class people.  Reselling Antique, Vintage or Crafts is investment vehicle for the wealthy.  i.e Fine Art, Glassware, Pottery.

Your buyers come from all walks of life so it stands to reason that resellers also come from all walks of life.  With a little effort, you can turn your collecting hobby into a very successful business.  Through the advice in this book, you will become a special breed of business owner.

The Characteristics of Resale Dealers.

Zig Ziegler once said: “A Smile is a person’s best social asset.”  I find that Resellers smile a lot.

The people who resell are part historian, part collector, part hoarder and a group of people who have a lot of entrepreneurial spirit running through their blood.  They are not satisfied with the mundane.  They want more out of life.  They want to have some fun while pursuing a profitable business.  If they are retired, they have not retired from life.  People in the Resale Business set their own rules, their own time and their own income.  They like traveling, they love shopping, they like the togetherness they share and they have an eye for the unusual.

If I am describing you at this points, then read on because you will also find that you also have a little bit of a gambler in you and you are confident that – given the right opportunity, you can succeed.  Notice I didn’t say “probably.”  Resale dealers play the market.  Some days they purchase something that they think, everyone will want only to have it sit in inventory for months.  They understand that this is the nature of the business.  We discuss this more in a later chapter.

Blood, Sweat and Tears

What does it take to do this business?  Characteristics of the average owner are, they are not afraid of a little hard work, they are willing to devote a few extra hours each day to their business and they are not afraid to try new ideas that may or may not work.

They may spill a little blood here in terms of losing a little money trying an idea that did not work out as well as it did on paper.  These people don’t consider failure at one idea as a failure at all their ideas, because they are willing to strike out many times, so long as they get that one opportunity to hit a home run.  In this business as in baseball, home runs became more frequent with practice.


This eBook sells for $4.95 @ https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/768871

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The Book


“If you could see into the future, would you look?”

“Oh hell yes.  I’d be living it large on Wall Street.”

“I’m serious.

“So am I.  I’d be a rich son of a bitch.”

“What if what you saw was bad?”

“Depends – How bad?”

“Bad.  The worse.  Like someone dying.”

“I wouldn’t know that until I actually looked. I guess good or bad, I’d have to take my chances.  I’d still look.”

“So you’d look, hoping it to be good, but – if it were bad – what would you do?”

“What could you do?  Nothing.  The future is the future.”

“If it were bad, would you try and change it?”

“Again, that depends.”

“What do you mean?”

“If I saw myself dying in a motorcycle accident in the future, I’d stop riding motorcycles in an attempt to alter the future.  That may not stop me dying at that same time by another cause, but I would have altered the future slightly.  That I would do.”

“What if it were someone dying that was close to you?  Someone you loved deeply.”

“Then I’d probably change the future if I could.  This is a weird topic even for you.  Why are you asking me this?  You look so serious.  What’s up?”

“I changed the future.”

Chapter 1

There are 365.25 days in a year.  On anyone of those days, usually in the dawn of the morning, you could expect to see Mary Ann Nobles at her desk writing.  Author of seven novels and hundreds of short stories, Miss Nobles is best known for her contemporary fiction and “Chic Lit” romance novels.  At least she was.

Exactly one year ago, to this very day, Mary Ann Nobles ceased everything.  This week would mark the first anniversary of her daughter’s death and the first anniversary of the day Mary Ann stopped writing.  She has yet to move on unless you consider alcoholism progress.

Why did Mary Ann’s daughter die?  Mary Ann knew the reason.  Mary Ann had written her death.  She had killed her.  So certain were she of this, that she refused to write another word.  Afraid she would kill someone or something else.

Chapter 2

Having been born in the mellow year of 1980, Mary Ann Noble had the perfect cheerleader body, with long blond hair, bluish grey eyes and that petit figure men died for, although it was slowly getting wider as the booze took over.  She lived in Melvine, Colorado and up until her daughter’s death she had been confidant, outgoing and much sought after personality as a guest speaker on the women empowerment circuits.  As a best-selling author and lecturer, she had broken through the so called ‘glass ceiling’ in publishing and was on her way to the top.  All that stopped on May 21, 2011.

Chapter 3

“Come on Mary Ann, we’re going to be late.”

“One more paragraph.  I’m all most there.  I have to get this out of my head.”  Banging away at the keyboard, the words were literally tumbling from her brain.  As fast as she could type them the faster they came.  She had woken earlier from her nap with the solution to her writers block.  She knew where the story was going and where it had to end.  It had all come to her in her dream.  Before she forgot it, she was bound and determined to get it on paper.  Bill, her fiancé was impatient.  She loved him, but he would never understand the obsessions of a writer.  Then again, he wasn’t a writer.  He was one hell of a lover and her fiancé, but a writer he would never be.

Today was their engagement party.  This would be the second marriage for both of them and they wanted nothing fancy, but an engagement party was part of the tradition they had agreed too, if nothing more than to appease their friends and family.  The entire clan, including close friends and her publisher were to be at the restaurant.  Her publisher would be happy to hear she had broken through the block.  One more sentence.  There, she had effectively blocked the chapter out and she would flesh it out later tonight.  She hit save – typing in the filename “Outbreak-Draft.doc.”

Chapter 4

The wedding went off exactly as planned.  A brief ceremony, teary eyes, fond farewells and a whirlwind honeymoon on the island of Jamaica.  She even managed to put the writing aside for a short time as she and her new husband relaxed and enjoyed each other.  It was truly a romantic holiday and as this stage of her work, one that she needed.   Of course, she kept her notebook with her.  She had broken through the block, but she had yet to figure out the twist in the story, the part where the reader gasps as something occurs that shakes the plot line up a little.

On the beach that afternoon; as it usually did for her when she let her mind relax, the twist came to her as she watched a little girl playing in the surf.  She utilized her favorite method of asking ‘what if.”  In this case, the what if would be “what if her heroes little girl drowned?”  What emotional change would the heroin go through?  Granted it was an ugly thought, but it fleshed out the role her heroine would play in future chapters of the book.  Someone had to die, so it might as well be here she thought as she whipped open her notebook and jotted down paragraph after paragraph.

Six months later, edited, rewrites, and polished, the book was transitioned to its final stages.  Officially entitled Outbreak, the opening chapters were making the sounds of a soon to be released best seller in the circle of pre-publication promotional circuits.  As with all of Mary Ann’s books, the heroine began to take on a personality and Mary Ann thought of her as a friend.  With as much attention as she was developing, there was talk that this friend might have a sequel.  This friend was special however.  Mary Ann couldn’t quite understand why she identified with her more than any other character she had developed.

Chapter 5

“What do you mean you changed the future?”

“I changed it.  Something happened.  I got scared and I never thought it would work, but it did.”

“Ok Mary Ann, calm down, explain.”

“I brought Kati back to life.”

“What do you mean – you brought Kati back to life?  Kati’s sitting right there where she’s always been,” said Bill pointing to his almost five year old daughter.

“Yes, but she died.  I drowned her; or rather, she drowned – just like the little girl in my book “Outbreak.”

“That book is yet to be published.  You killed it.”

“Now you know why.”

“But you are going to publish it. You did some rewrites you told me, right?”

“Yes, now. The presses are set to run today. But I’ve got to kill it.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I need to stop the publishing. I know how to fix it, I think.”

“I still don’t understand.”

“OK, sit back, listen and don’t judge me and don’t yell at me.  Let me get through this. After I finish, you can ask all the questions you want.  Promise?”



You set the price.

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2nd Hand Flip

Reselling through Thrift stores, Antique Store, eBay and other retail outlets have combined annual revenues of nearly $17 billion dollars!  What’s even more impressive is that many people – Mom & Pop, are doing this business without needing to set up a brick-and-mortar resale store of their own.

Look at sites like eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist; you can easily see that selling second-hand goods is a profitable business.  In fact, some people, using Phone apps such as OfferUp, LetGo, VarageSale, etc., get into this business for little to no money risked.  But How?  To answer that question, I wrote “2nd Hand Flip” about the business of reselling.

Flipping is easier now than when I first started out.  I became hooked on flipping when I flipped a Vespa Motor Scooter for a healthy profit in the late 60’s when I was in high school.  That flip allowed me to buy my 55 Chevy Nomad, which I later doubled my purchase price on when I resold it.  I took that money and bought my 56 Chevy coup.  I blew the engine, broke the rear springs racing (showing off), and yet, still sold it to another man for more than I paid for it.

In the 80’s before the internet, even before computers, I flipped used restaurant equipment.  I would stop into restaurants, small stores, or the kitchens of hotels, asking if they had any equipment that they were not using and they wanted to sell.  If they did, I would take the information on the item, including a price they were willing to take for it, and put that info on a 3×6-index card.  Then I would ask them if they were looking for anything in particular.  I made notes of their requests.  I did this all day long and in over a month, I had amassed a lot of cards and indexed a lot of equipment.

How I made money was looking what the item would cost new in an equipment catalog, then offering the owner a used price well below that.  We’d haggle and when we would agree on a price, I would either put it on consignment or pay them then and there.  If I paid them, I would load it up, take it home, and clean it, fixing anything that needed fixing and immediately takes it over to the buyer and sell it to them for a fair markup.  I never got stuck holding an item for more than a few days, because I knew what my customers were looking for and bought accordingly.

I tell you these things, not to brag, but to lay the background of being somewhat knowledgeable in this business.  I’ve had practice for over 50 years.  Since the time of my first flip, I have flipped many things, made a few mistakes, but my love for flipping grows.

Today I flip antique and vintage furniture and collectibles.  My wife’s love, on the other hand, is vintage linens and lace.  She and I love antiquing and she owns Mom & Me Vintage Linens, Lace, and Antiques.  (www.Facebook.com/linen2laceCS.  Yes, the store is housed in a brick and mortar antique mall and she has owned it since 2010.  Do you have to run a brick and mortar business to make a profit in the business of flipping?  No.  With sites like eBay, Craigslist, Facebook, and Amazon, you can make a healthy profit working in a virtual environment, and still have extra time and money to do the things you want to do.

Don’t get me wrong.  We are not filthy rich.  This is not a get rich quick scheme.  Flipping used or vintage is still work, but it is enjoyable work.  We pay our bills, have a roof over our heads with a home we own.  We drive comfortable vehicles and have managed to stay out of debt.  The difference with us however, is the fact that we can take off anytime we want to and do the things we enjoy, without sacrificing our business and income.  Many self-employed people can’t do that.  They become a slave to their business.  We have the freedom to travel, see friends and family, and explore other entrepreneurial interests.  We love the thrill in the find of some treasure that I can turn around and resell.  We enjoy the people we meet and have spent many hours talking to strangers, cementing long lasting friendships with many of them.  As long as I have a connection with my phone, I am in business.  Our investments are in our inventory.  Where else can you work your money and have it earn 100 to 300% return in a short period.

Should you risk your weekly paycheck on flipping?  It depends on how sure you are that you can turn something over quickly.  I have a friend who is a mechanic.  He buys good used cars, checks them over for mechanical issues; fixing what is needed and then hires his son to detail them.  He puts them up on Craigslist and sells them for a healthy profit.  He specializes in SUV’s, small trucks and All Wheel Drives because here in Colorado, he knows that these sell the fastest.  His objective is rapid turn-over, not collecting.  He is also a master of buying low and selling high.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking he is an opportunist.  Remember, American Entrepreneurship means profit and despite the past twelve years, the American Dream still lives on in every nook and cranny of this great nation.

So how much money should you risk?  It all depends on your financial situation.  How much can you afford to lose?  How good of a negotiator are you?  Do you have a market to sell what you purchase?  Can you use online resources to price and market your item properly?  Last but not least, do you like people?

Now the question should be, assuming you answered positive to the questions above, where do you go after you flipped your first item?  The answer is do it again.  How?  I answer these questions in the book.  Check out the suggestions I have in my eBook, “2nd Hand Flip” on sale now at Smashwords This eBook discusses inside the business and future of reselling in greater detail, including what sells and what doesn’t.


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Filed under Academc, Antiques, Book Progress, New Book, reselling, Vintage, Writing

The Worm of Juruti – A Novelette

An review sample of my new book, “The Worm of Juruti”  I appreciate any and all feedback and comments.  The finished Novelette is in final edits now and should be ready for purchase on Smashwords by January 2018


6So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. 7But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. 8When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”…

Jonah 4.6-4.8

The Worm of Juruti

New York City, NY.  1915

The distinctive clip clop of the doctors carriage; drawn by a single horse, broke the stillness of the damp night air. The sound drew the attention of the street urchin huddled in the corner of the church stairwell; the carriage stopped close to where he lay under a cardboard box and canvas, trying to stay warm. The lad looked up to see who could be out at this time of night, afraid that it might be the constable. He automatically tensed, but no one came and eventually he tucked himself back under the pile of canvas. There was a slight mist crowding out the dim light from the gas lights. The waif knew by the pain settling into his bones, that soon it would turn into a downpour. He was always right. Tonight he was fortunate; he had the heavy canvas and he would at least stay somewhat dry. The more worrisome growl of his stomach reminded him that his biggest problem was not rain. Still he thought as he rolled back under the tarp, he was better here rather than living with his drunken whore of a mother and her never-ending stream of abusive boyfriends.

A gaunt figure of a man in a long black theater cape, black bowler hat, and tweed pants stepped from the carriage. In comparison to most men of his era, he was tall at 5’10”. Tonight, however, hunched over against the rain, hat pulled low on the brow, collar up and pulled tight around the neck, he looked undeniably short and sinister. Reaching back into the carriage, the man removed a lantern; lit it and then removed a rusty shovel. Walking quietly, trying to avoid the echoing sound his boots made on the wet cobblestone walkway, he went behind the church and entered the pauper’s cemetery located there. At a freshly completed grave, he stopped and waited, listening. Finally he stooped to examine the simple wooden cross grave marker. There were two names on it. One name weathered and barely legible on the left arm of the cross and the other fresh, painted no more than a day or two earlier on the right arm of the cross. Two names meant two bodies. This was expected. Often, in order to use all available space in the cemetery, the church would bury the bodies of paupers on top of one another. This grave was one of the many paupers’ graves this little cemetery had.

Checking cautiously to make sure no one was around; he buried the spade into the soft earth of the grave. On the third strike, he reached the simple pine wood box, two feet beneath the surface. Two more strikes broke through the flimsy lid. He removed  the thin wood panels, exposing the grizzly contents. Getting down on his hands and knees, he removed a small hard leather case from his pocket, opened it and carefully withdrew an ancient scalpel. Hesitating slightly, he reached into the box. Working quickly, he made a vertical incision into the throat of the once beautiful young girl that lay in the coffin. Reaching inside the incision with his first two fingers, he probed and widened the gap in the flesh until he felt her already decaying vocal cords. A little more probing and he found what he was seeking. He brought forth a fleshy glowing body part that he quickly put into a jar that he also took from his pocket. Just before getting up, he touched his finger tips to his lips and then pressed his fingers against the cold forehead of the deceased. He said a silent prayer, asking for her forgiveness, then stood to refill the hole. Dirt sifted through the broken opening and covered the corpse. He continued to fill. With the rain, the dirt would eventually sink into the hole in the coffin, creating a depression in the grave, signaling an intrusion. By that time, he would be long gone.


1925 Broadwick’s Opera house, New York City

Sarah Keller nervously paced the floor of the backstage. Her audition for the small part in the off Broadway opera was next. She cleared her throat trying to loosen her vocal cords without stressing them. Softly, she ran the scale.  “Do, ray, me, fa, so, la te, do.” Her voice cracked. “Shit, she said out loud to no one.” Nerves, she assured herself. She would get better once on stage. Tonight was the night. Tonight would be the night she would walk into that worthless diner and tell that snake – Stan, you son of a bitch, I quit. The look on his face would be precious. It was the words and the look she had rehearsed in her lonely one room flat above the pub, each and every night since arriving in this god forsaken state four years earlier. Thirty seven failed auditions later, she was beginning to see her dream as nothing more than smoke.

If she failed tonight, she had enough money left for passage back to Ohio. She had been duped into thinking that the off Broadway theaters wanted up and coming actors / singers. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. Maybe it was time to quit pissing and moaning about it and admit the truth. She was not a great actress or even a decent singer. Thirty seven failed auditions were a pretty clear indicator that she was kidding herself.  She was running out of money, struggling to maintain her confidence and time was not on her side.

“OK chickee, you’re next.” The stage master, a gruff looking old bastard with a Boston accent, shoved her towards the side curtain.

She stood at the edge of the curtain, nervous, too afraid to move. “Any words of encouragement,” she asked

“Yeah, break a leg, knock ’em dead, all that other happy horse shit. Should I grab my horn and blow an intro for ya?”

The skinny assistant stagehand laughed as he opened the curtain and shoved her out onto the massive oak floor stage. She stared out into the audience area and saw nothing, the harsh glare of the spotlight stopping her cold, blinding her.

“Hello?” she said shielding her eyes, trying to see in to the darkness.

From out of the seats, a voice loomed. “Hello pretty one, what is your name and how long have you been singing?”

My name is Sarah Keller and I have been singing for 11 years.”

“I can hear from your accent you’re from the mid-west, oh yes, it reads that on your bio. Ohio is it? Have you had any formal training?”

“School plays and the few small stage plays I have done.” Suddenly, old anxieties surfaced. What was she doing here? That sounded so weak. Truth be known, she had little to no experience. Who was she kidding? Why put herself through this. He was only going to reject her, as the others did. This was nonsense. And then he spoke again.

“What were the names of the stage plays?”

“A City Players production of Pygmalion and Peter Pan. I played one of the Indian girls.” Cheap little Indian girl, a bit part that amounted to nothing. Why had she told him that?

“Wonderful,” the director said dryly as he made the notation ‘amateur on her bio. “Is that your real hair color? Are you naturally blond? When she responded “Yes,” he said “Beautiful, very pretty. If you’re hired, we may need to change it. Hope that isn’t a problem for you.”

“No, no problem.”

“Good, So what are you going to sing for us today?”

“The theme song from Pygmalion.” It was the only song she knew by heart, what else could she sing.

“That figures,” he said under his breath. “OK, go ahead Miss, dazzle the crap out of us,” His snarky response was not what she was looking for, but, as her mother would often say, “in for a penny, in for a pound,” She turned towards the piano player, who boringly nodded that he was ready. Turning back to the stage, and waiting to the count of five to set her nerves, she nodded and he began to play. She waited for the opening bars and as the intro reached the fifth bar, she sang:

“I’m dirty; I’m food on the ground,/ “I’m lonely, will I ever be found?” / “I’m sorry, that I’m not what I’m supposed to be,/ “Could you help me?”

“Stop, stop, stop” the director held up his hand and stood up in the row. “Look at the size of this theater girly. Can you see us out here? We can barely hear you and we’re in the fucking 5th row. Jesus Christ girl, I’m looking for a stage singer who can belt out a song and hit the back row audience between the eyes. Do you think you can you do that?”

“I can try.” Of course I can sing loud you arrogant bastard. Clean the hair from your ears and maybe you can hear me. God, let me quit now, this isn’t going to go well.

“Do better than try sweetheart, do it. Now go ahead, dazzle my pants off.” Muttering to his assistant, “where the hell do you find these people, from the bread line? God damn it Stanley, your job is on the line if this is all the talent you can muster up.”

On stage, Sarah paused to regain control of her rising anger. This was the last time. Once again she nodded towards the pianist who started over with the opening bars. She waited, took a much deeper breath and in a voice that was practically yelling, sang out,

“I’m dirty; I’m food on the ground, / “I’m lonely, will I ever be found?” / “I’m sorry, that I’m not what I’m supposed to be, could you help me?” / “Make me shiny and new. like a baby, can I talk just like you?”

She was screaming the notes and at the top of the mid C, her voice cracked, garbling the note and rendering it so far off key as to be embarrassing. It also hurt. The result was to make the notes indistinguishable from that sound a wounded crow would make if you shot it.

The director held up his hand. “Enough, thank you.” Angrily turning towards his assistant, “Damn it. Are we done for the day?” The poor man cringed under the glare of the directors eyes. “We better be.” When he got the weak yes nod, he said “Good,” and got up to leave the area.

“Is that all?” Sarah called out.

“Oh, now you speak up. Jesus Christ,” he said under his breath, “Yes my dear that was all,” turning to leave he suddenly stopped in mid stride and turned back to the stage. “You’re a pretty girl, so let me give you some advice. Do yourself a favor for Gods sake. Learn to sing, take lessons or something, learn how to sing good, but more importantly, learn how to sing loud. You’ve probably got a good voice, as long as you are singing in a bedroom. Who would know? No one can hear you. You need a lot more training. Quit wasting yours and everyone elses time. We’ll get a hold of you if we need an off stage whisperer, but I wouldn’t wait by the phone.”

She stood angrily forming a response in her head, waiting for him to say something else. When nothing else came, she opened her mouth to give her response to him but then realized – he was right. She stopped, knowing that anything she said would fall on deaf ears. Hanging her head she turned and quickly walked off stage. Now she was pissed and knew that she had blown it again. As she rounded the curtain, flinging is aside to avoid crashing into the stage prop hidden behind it, a voice called out from the darkened side stage.

“The director was very rude. I thought you were quite good. Quiet, but very good. For a smaller stage, you would be passable. Here, I am afraid, you are out of your element.”

“Oh, thanks a hell of a lot buddy. Just what I need, another critic, Sorry asshole, one was enough for the day” As he started to speak again, she held up her hand, “Skip it, I know the routine. I’ve heard it before. Thanks anyway, but do you mind? I’m going to be a bar maid forever and I am not feeling very social right now.”

“I understand. How many auditions does this make that you have failed?

“That’s a rather strong term asshole, failed? Let’s just say I have not won a role in the last ten or so attempts.”

He laughed. “Okay, sweeten it any way you want too. Simply put, you failed them. And I think it is more like over thirty, maybe closer to forty. It’s okay however, not many people make it in this business.”

“Like I said, not interested. Besides, who the hell are you? What credentials do you carry that give you the right to critic me? Or are you some back stage Johnny just wanting to get in my pants? Come out of the shadows where I can see you.”

“No,” he said still in the shadows, “It’s not your body I want. It’s your voice. I want to make you a better singer. I want to give you the opportunity to have a life of nothing but success.”

She was already in a bad mood and this clown was not making it any better. “Alright, enough,” she said, peering into the darkness again, looking for a face, “who are you?”

“My name is not important unless you agree to work with me. What is important is that I can make you a world class singer. I will even go as far as to say I can make you a very famous actor as well. Would you want that kind of success, or is singing nothing more than a hobby for you?”

“Enough,” she said. “I get the picture now. I have heard that line many times. You’re a want-a-be singing coach and for your services, I am required to give you my body, my soul and share your bed. No thank you, I’ll pass on your offer.”

“Once again, you have it all wrong. No bed, no body, no soul. I want nothing but your commitment to your own growth.”

“And once I give my commitment, once you have me locked up, you’ll want my first born and a healthy agent’s fee. I know you, she said knowingly, “your name is Rumpelstiltskin. Forget it buster, I know the story.“

“Play it your way, that is not my name, and you are wrong about what I want. The question remains the same, do you want to be famous?” Before she had a chance to speak, as if reading her mind, he said, “Believe me, I understand your hesitancy, but do you want the riches and accolades that go with being a beautiful singer? Do you want to make an impact on the lives of others, or as I asked before, is this a hobby?” That stopped her cold. No one had ever asked her that before.  Was this a hobby? Did she want the riches and fame, or was she destined to be nothing more than a bit part singer and happy for it because it was easier? No, she decided, she wasn’t a bit part singer and no this was not a hobby. When she spoke again, there was a conviction in her answer.

“Yes, I want it all and no, this is not a god damn hobby, this is my life, or at least it was. After today, I’m not sure. I’ll figure it out in time and I’ll start all over again. This setback is not going to stop me.”

“Good, I’m happy to hear that. Would you like some help?”

“I suppose I could use some formal training, but I don’t have a lot of money left and you still haven’t told me How you can help me.”

“I will tell you all of it but first, say you are willing to commit to fame and that you will follow my instructions – no matter how you may question them.”

“Mister, you are nothing more than a strange voice standing in the shadows of a darkened theater on some back street of New York’s theater district. You may have nice words but frankly you have said nothing. I need a hell of a lot more information before I can commit to trusting you, starting with – who the hell are you?”

“OK, fair enough,” he said stepping out of the shadows. He wore a theater cape, spats and a wool dress suit suitable of those who were highborn. He carried a silver tipped cane and was carrying a very expensive top hat. She had seen his kind many times, dining in the fanciest of New York restaurants and taking in every theater that opened onto Broadway. She instantly knew he had wealth and from the way he stood poised and so assured of himself, she guessed him to be a banker, doctor or Wall Street financier.

“We will talk,” he said “over lunch. Then you can ask me anything you want.”

“I suppose that would be acceptable as soon as you tell me your name?”

”Du’an, just Du’an. My patients call me Dr. Du’an.” She had been right on one count. He was a doctor. Was that good or bad.”

“That is an unusual name. First name or last name?”

“Only one name. It is Serbian and it means Soul, a meaning I would not have chosen for myself, but never the less, it is only a name. Come, there is a quaint bistro right around the corner.”


When Sarah was 10 and on a visit to New York with her parents, she was introduced to her first Broadway musical. Mesmerized by the glamor, the lights and the theatrics she knew right then and there, that this is what she wanted to be when she grew up.  When her father took her backstage to meet the leading actress, she was hooked. Sarah could see herself playing center stage in a Broadway Production. However, the farm district of Olathe Kansas offered very little in the way of training or even theaters.  The poor dirt farmers could barely afford a radio, let along go into town for a stage play.

Sarah was luckier than most kids for her father was the town’s only dentist and the Keller’s were considered to be wealthy by town folk standards, even though much of his billings were paid in trade, poultry and the occasional handyman services. Never the less, they lived in a beautiful home, ate well and Sarah managed to go all the way through school, graduating at the top of her small 86 student class. And while she never did get to go back to New York while she was still in school, she did manage to be cast in the local school plays and the amateur theater productions that took place in town.  Gifted with a natural singing voice, any time she got a chance to sing, she would. Her High School Music teacher helped her with her singing and over the years Sarah continued to dream of being famous.

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An Affair of Words

Excuse me she said, but don’t I know you?  Aren’t you an author?”  I stopped, then turned.  My familiar story may have started there but it ends here.
In 1979 I laid down my first line of my new novel.  It was a very good line.  It opened many doors.  The rest of the story was crap, but that’s history
By the time you sign your name two hundred and ten times, you are ready to cry out “enough!  Until another person tells you of your power.
“Who do I autograph this for?”  “Me silly man, surely you haven’t forgotten.”  I looked up.  The fog of time cleared and an old familiar ache rushed in.
She sat across from me, legs tucked under, watching.  I poured the wine.  Her perfume, as tantalizing as the memories she had awakened.
Young and foolish taking chances, we meet for drinks.  It’s exciting.  Her touch on my leg is inviting.  I touch back and the game is on.
I awake to church bells.  Fuzzy headed; too much wine.  She shifts; her skin, hot with passion hours before is cool and smooth to my touch.
Hot coffee chasing greasy bacon, eggs and buttered toast.  Sneaking out, I landed here.  Cell buzzing, it’s her.  I let it go to voice mail. Eventually I have to call.
“Sorry I left without saying goodbye.  I had an early flight and I didn’t want to wake you.   It was great.  No.  I’ll call soon.”  I lied.
The reviews “Void of passion.”  True.  I had worked hard to kill her memory from my head. In turn I killed the passion on every page.
Kissed the wife, hugged my son.  I will call when I land.  I will be back before you go this time.  Take care; you only have three weeks to go.
Plane delayed.  I sense her first.  Gorgeous legs set in Giovanni heels, slender waist and a face that invoked the image of The Madonna.
The airlines put us up in the Charlton Arms.  The snow storms lashed the east coast with every trick in its book.  It was to be a long night.
The drinks flowed, but I retire to my room at 11.  Hell of a way to spend a Saturday.   The knock came softly at 11:25.
My daughter was born at 3:00 AM Sunday morning.  I didn’t hear the phone.  It was left vibrating in my jeans pocket now lying crumbled on the floor a top of her shoes.
“All these calls to Boston,” she asked.  “Who are you calling?  You don’t have a publisher there any longer and you haven’t written anything in the last 11 months.
I don’t lie very well when confronted.  My solution was to feign surprise and anger.  I had always been told – deny, deny, deny.
It’s cold here.  The walls stripped bare, void of any life.  Closets empty, only her scent left.  There was a note.  I already knew the words.
New York Times broke the news first.  Fox crucified me in print and TV.  From number three to not even on the best sellers list overnight.
I came out again.   New pen name, new location, new publisher, swearing to leave the old me behind.  Not succeeding. A ream of useless crumbled paper litters the floor.
I felt the touch on my shoulder.  Excuse me she said, but don’t I know you?  Aren’t you .  .  .? “

No; not me, he died five years ago.

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Quality Writing Instruments on a Budget.

At the request of a couple of my regular customers, I recently bought some low-cost Fountain Pens to add to my stock of vintage pens. There are many people whoCamlin Eyedropper Fountain Pen - Blue - Fine Nib enjoy writing with a fountain pen, but as in the case of a student or small business owner just starting out,, they may not have the budget for a #Mont Blanc, #Pelikan, #Cross or a #Lamy. I selected the #Camilin pen company because it is one of the oldest and best known pen companies in India.  They started in business in 1931 and produce a very nice functional fountain pen at a reasonable price.  They are also “Eyedropper” fillers, which I favor, but for some people because of the fear of leaks, somewhat worrisome – unless you know the secret.  The secret lies in a little dab of silicon grease applied to the threads of the barrel.  There is an excellent video on filling the eyedropper pen from the Fountain Pen Revolution website. Check it out here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL00ITrYFMg

When you stop by either one of my stores, American Classics Marketplace Space B26 or Antique Gallery, case 26, take a look at the Camilin Pens I have in stock. I sell them for $12.00, but don’t let that price fool you. They have the quality, look and feel of fountain pens that cost a lot more. All are new and uninked, so buy some quality ink from your favorite office supply store, check out the video and get ready for an excellent writing experience.

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Filed under Academc, Pen History, Pens, Student, Writing, Writing Tools

From Hand to Brain, a Pen is the Connection

For all you #parents, #grandparent, aunts and uncles who are struggling to figure out what to give your #graduating scholar as a special gift, know this: The Pen is Mightier than the Computer.  #Research #scientist have shown that taking handwritten notes improves comprehension. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-learning-secret-don-t-take-notes-with-a-laptop/

I’ve known this for years, having experienced this with my children. For example, while my youngest has access to a variety of desk top, laptop computers; as well as iPhone’s and iPod’s, (don’t they all) she still takes handwritten notes in all he classes. Because of her very level of comprehension and retention associated with the pure psychology of hand to brain association, she also has a very high GPA.  The fact that she takes after her mother and is very smart is inconsequential, but it does lead me to suggest to you a great graduation gift for your academically student.

A “Cross”, “Pelikan” or “Mont Blanc” roller ball or ball point pen from my vintage collection for your graduate, will go a long way towards insuring their successful college experience.  You can see my vintage collection at both American Classics Marketplace in B26, or my newest site in case #26 at Antique Gallery on S. Wahsatch, downtown Colorado Springs.

As we are talking note taking here, I do not suggest a fountain pen, even though I love writing with them and have some beautiful ones for sale. For the student, fountain pens need a longer drying time which hinders rapid note taking.

Every Cross, Pelikan and Mont Blanc has a lifetime warranty, regardless of age. Pens in my collection are all made in the USA or in the case of the Mont Blanc’s, Germany. Refills for these pens can be found anywhere, including college supply stores which insures that they will not end up unused, sitting in the bottom of some backpack.

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Filed under Academc, Pen History, Pens, Stationary, Student, Vintage, Writing, Writing Tools

The Analogy – A Writers Sword

I love a well crafted analogy.  The fun of being a writer – for me – is being a word smith.  Drafting an analogy does that for

Broken coffeemaker, NYC, 11/21/07 - 1 of 4

Broken coffeemaker, NYC, 11/21/07 – 1 of 4 (Photo credit: goodrob13)

me.  Analogies keep a writer’s mind sharp, which is why I started doing them years ago.  The best ones come off the top of my head, other times I have to work at them.  That’s why its good to have a small notebook handy.   Today’s impromptu analogy came about when I took my car over for some minor repair work.  A man – sitting next to the coffee pot, asked me if I thought the coffee pot should be on when the pot was empty.   As I was sitting on the other side of the room and we were the only two people there,  I said “no, you should probably turn it off. ”  His reply was “well I didn’t turn the pot on.”   The analogy I thought of right then; and one which I voiced rather sarcastically, was “that’s like watching someone who is going to fall into a hole, and someone saying “hurry – warn him,” and you saying,  “But I didn’t dig the hole.”  

After his brain engaged; it took a second or two,  (yes, ignorance is bliss) he got the point.  The coffee pot was saved.

Wikipedia has a good definition of Analogy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy  but I am interested if you readers / writers have ever come up an original analogy you want to share.  Comment back.  I look forward to reading them.

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Filed under copywriting, New Book, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Tools

Christmas 1957

Not every present has to be new; it just has to have love and a special meaning attached to it. 

Every year, as the temperature starts to drop and the leaves turn brassy gold, an old memory comes back to me.  It dates back to my early childhood in Michigan, specifically the fall of 1957.  The air was crisp and filled with the smell of pine burning in fireplaces and nutmeg.  Leaves from the six oak trees that bordered our yard had already fallen and the squirrels had harvested all the acorns their little nests could hold.  Winter was fast approaching –“softly,” as my grandmother would say, “like the whisper of little duck feet paddling through the grass on their way to water.”  Dad was out in the garage putting the finishing touches on the converted house trailer that held the 22 foot Chris Craft cabin cruiser he had built.

“Son,” he called out, “come on, we’re going shopping.  Get in the car.”  To go shopping with my Dad was a big deal for me.  I piled into his pink (yes I said pink) 56 Buick convertible and threw my arm up on the windowsill that, at nine years old, came just about level to the base of my earlobe.  An awkward position I had put myself in, but it was semi-warm, Dad had the top down, and I looked cool.

Off we went until about ten miles later we stopped in our first antique store.  “I’m looking for a special something for your mother for Christmas,” he said turning to me, “so you have to keep this trip a secret.”  I swore I would, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what my mother would want from a store that sold old junk.  Never mind, I was with my Dad.  Three hours and four antique stores later, I was less enthused.  I was tired and bored out of my nine-year old skull.  I hadn’t learned the art of antique buying, nor for that matter – patience.  Besides, there were toys I couldn’t play with, tools I couldn’t touch and God forbid if I stepped too close to a shelf full of antique cut glass.  Dad however was in seventh heaven.

As I stood looking at a set of WWI medals and Meerschaum pipes sitting in a glass case, I heard Dad say, “That’s it!”  As I turned, he was reaching for an old dingy, dirty and bent brass ships bell sitting on the floor this old store.  Holding it in his hands, caressing it as if he were gazing upon the Holy Grail, he headed towards the counter where an old grey haired man and his wife sat; she crocheting while humming to herself and him, watching me out of the corner of his eye.

“How much for this old dirty bell,” my Dad asked.  “$15” the old man said without hesitation.  Remember – in 1957, you were “well off” if you made $5200.00 a year.  $15.00 was a lot of money and a weeks worth of groceries.  Dad put the bell down on the counter quickly stepping back as if it burned him.  “It’s not made of gold is it?” he asked.  The old man smiled but didn’t waver.  “Here’s what I’ll do” Dad said, I’ll give you $7.00 for it.”  The old man shook his head no.  “Make it $10.00 and you have a deal,” he grunted.  Dad shook his head and handed the bell to me.  “Here son, go put this back.  We’ll have to find something else for your mother for Christmas this year.”  Then turning back to the old man he said, “Sorry old timer, all I have is $8.00 to spend and I still have to buy my boy dinner after we leave here.”  Dad hung his head and motioned for me to hurry along.  “Ok,” the old man said, “You can have it for $8.00 but you’re killing me.”  His eyes were smiling as he and Dad shook hands.  By this time, that old bell was getting heavy.  “OK boy, carry it to the car,” Dad said as he paid the man.  On the drive back, Dad pointed out that what he had done was called the art of negotiating.  That was the first time I had ever heard that term.  “We made of great deal,” he said as he carried a Cheshire cat grin with him all the way home.

Christmas day that year brought snow – lots of it.  Early morning, after my brother and I opened our presents and Dad opened his striped tie we got him, Mom started to busy herself with cleaning up the discarded wrappings.  Dad left the room and came back with all of our coats and scarfs, announcing, “I’ve got one more present but it’s outside.”  Bundled up like refugees from a Siberian mining camp, we all traipsed outside, where Dad led us to the garage.  He told my mother to close her eyes.  As she did, he opened the garage door hiding the boat.  There on the stern of his newly built boat just above the dark blue fiberglass waterline were the words “The Shirl J” in gold letters with a red outline.  My mother’s name is Shirley.  He had never told her what he was naming the boat.  There was also a ladder leading up into the interior.  After Mom hugged my Dad, with tears in her eyes, he led her to the ladder.  She climbed up into the boat and there – just past the spot where the flying bridge windshield would eventually go, sat the newly polished – newly restored brass bell with the words “The Shirl J – 1957” engraved on the bell skirt.  They kissed so long this time, we kids were told to go back into the house.

I learned two things that Christmas.  The first was that not every present has to be brand new; it just has to have love and a special meaning attached to it.  Secondly, antiques – like found treasures, are great for conveying that special meaning.

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Filed under Antiques, Autum, Fall, marketing, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writing

Turn off your mind, relax…

I had to re-blog this. My muse is laughing now that he knows he has a partner called creativity.

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