Finding your voice — and making it heard
Local musician and tai-chi teacher Gene Burnett sells two books through PublishOnDemand

Gene Burnett has two big passions, tai-chi and songwriting — and, being a Taoist, he teaches these in unusual ways that encourage harmony, balance and trusting yourself.

And like a lot of people with something to say, Burnett sought — and found — a way to say it: writing a book, which isn't all that hard, but skipping the aggravating part, which is finding a publisher.

So, Burnett became the publisher, paid about $500, got a local designer to help with the cover, e-mailed his manuscript to the printer and, within 30 days, viola! He's an author.

"Your inner genius can help you set

goals and directions, but it can also help you choose how

to get where you're going and who to trust along the way.

Learning to trust this inner genius is not a quick and easy process.

It involves trial and error and the errors are sometimes

painful. Sometimes what seems like your inner genius telling

you to do something is actually not. When it is not, the results

you get will feel wrong. When it is your inner genius you've

been listening to, the results you get will feel right. This is

an ongoing process that never ends, since life, you, and your

inner genius are in constant motion. What feels right today

may not feel right tomorrow. Listening to your inner genius

means maintaining an open, inquiring, and unfinished mind

and body."

— Gene Burnett, from "Tai-Chi for Geniuses"

His books, published by iUniverse, are "Songwriting for Geniuses: 25 Tips for the Genius in Everyone" ($11.95) and "Tai-chi for Geniuses: a Practice Companion for the Genius in Everyone" ($20.95).

Authors can purchase PublishOnDemand (POD) at several levels and, at $500 a book, Burnett got an actual person to talk to him, fix errors, get an ISBN number and post it on their Web site. When he orders books, his cost is a little over half the cover price, so his profit is several times that paid by a regular publisher.

By the way, Burnett uses the word "genius" not to mean IQ, but the native, intuitive skill or "higher self" we all have — and to get away from the "for dummies" approach, which, he says, suggests we're all stupid.

"My genius speaks to me in the form of sudden inspirations, as well as 'right' feelings and 'wrong' feelings, feelings of 'Yes!' and 'No!,' that resonate throughout my body," Burnett says in his songwriting book. "I have learned, with many years of practice, to tune into and listen to these feelings; to go where the 'Yes!' feeling is and to slow down or turn back where the 'No!' feeling is. I do what feels most deeply right to me, and I keep checking to see if what felt right to me once, still feels right to me now."

As Burnett sings the praises of his first two passions, he lauds the simple, cheap and democratizing phenomenon of POD, which allows authors full control over what gets published, lets them order only as many books as they need, allows them unlimited freedom to promote and market the book as much as they want and where they want and is better for the environment because no books get remaindered and thrown out.

Being an "author" gives you significant cachet and opens the door for people to buy your message and hold it in their hands, so it's "an expensive business card," Burnett said. In addition, if you Google his name and book title, you get not only his Web sites, but his books listed on Amazon, Target,, and several others.

Burnett hopes his tai-chi book will stand out and find an audience because, instead of being illustrated with all the movements, representing a lineage going back ages into China or having a rigid right-and-wrong way of doing it, Burnett says his approach is "for self-directed people who want to guide their own practice and trust their own sense of right and wrong."

Different people want different things from tai-chi, he notes, so if you want to learn to relax, find a teacher who looks relaxed. Trust yourself. His approach is "use less force," which is at the heart of Taoism.

"I believe balance is unforced. You find it in your body. You can learn to balance in a natural way instead of inflicting your will. Trust your own sense of right and wrong," says Burnett, who has taught tai-chi for 24 years and, a believer in the power of fresh air, conducts his classes at the band shell in Lithia Park.

Burnett's approach to songwriting is in a similar Taoist vein.

"Try to write the song that's in you, not what you think would be a good song. If you try to write a song that will change the world, that's in your head and won't work. Let go of what you're holding on to. When you write the song that's in you, it releases a charge in you. It releases emotion. You feel great!"

Burnett performs at local venues, including Oak Tree, Liquid Assets and Alex's, has written more than 60 songs, recorded 15 CDs and sells them (he also allows free downloads or listening of all songs) on his Web site,

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