Friday, May 16, 2008

Lady of Leisure

When I was young I imagined that by this point in my life I'd be a lady of leisure. I expected to be lying about eating bon-bons, although I wasn't then, and am still not, sure what those are. I thought people - you know, the ubiquitous "my people" - would be taking care of the chores of daily living. This would leave me free to lunch with other ladies of leisure, attend charity events and become a charter member of the garden club.

However, I sit here tonight with grass clippings in my shoes from mowing the lawn - with a push mower no less, I have no people, and nary a bon-bon is to be found in my environs.

These dreams were obviously the result of far too much television viewing because no one in my immediate world was leading a life of leisure. Nonetheless, how, oh how, do these childhood dreams go so desperately awry?

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Online Book Launch for Smoky Trudeau

I recently had the opportunity to meet author, Smoky Trudeau. She writes for Vanilla Heart Publishing, and also does some editing for them. She was very, very kind and read the first few chapters of my novel in progress and gave me some valuable feedback. I'm thrilled to say she had only positive things to say about the plot and writing, but I did have some things to be improved regarding style with punctuation and such.

I'm familiar with the AP Stylebook because I was a journalist. I need to become familiar with the Chicago Manual of Style because that's what a fiction writer uses. I intend to purchase a copy of that. I'm also going to get a copy of Smoky's new book, Front-Word, Back-Word, Insight Out.

Smoky taught writing for some years and this is like her workshops in a book. It's full of lessons about writing the novel you've got inside you.

You can attend the online launch party on Sunday, May 18, from 3:00-5:00 p.m. Central Time, at the Forum at There will be prizes and mini-workshops from the book. Barring unforeseen events, I'm planning to attend.

Here's some additional information about the event - anyone is welcome - even if you've never written, but you're thinking about it - you might as well drop in and see if it's for you.

Front-word, Back-word, Insight-Out:

Lessons on Writing the Novel Lurking Inside You from Start to Finish

Every day, people sit down in front of a blank computer screen or piece of paper and start to write their own version of the Great American Novel. Many never get beyond "Once upon a time...."  Their stories remain stuck inside, where only they can hear them. That's because writing a book is easier said than done. Writing a good book is even harder. Why? Because novel writing is a skill that must be learned, just like a nurse must learn to take a patient's blood pressure, a pilot must learn how to fly, and a concert pianist must learn to read music.

Based on her years of teaching writing workshops, author Smoky Trudeau has created a program of step-by-step lessons to teach you how to transform that story stuck inside you into good fiction. You'll learn winning techniques for starting your story and how to decide which character should tell it. You'll gather ideas for writing believable dialogue and developing characters readers will love—and those they'll despise. You'll learn how to build tension, write an exciting climax scene, then gracefully bring your story to an end; and much, much more.

Full of examples and exercises to help you hone your skills, Front-word, Back-word, Insight-Out is the must-read book for anyone who wants to unleash their inner author and free the stories lurking inside.
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Marian Madonia

A couple of weeks ago I went to see Marian Madonia speak during a Food for Thought presentation. She gave a speech titled, "Tell Me Something Good" and made some wonderful points, which I'll highlight here.

She said people don't leave their current jobs for more money and opportunity. She said that's what they're going to, not what they're leaving. What they're leaving is the real question.

Another point she made is that we can only control two things - what we think and what we do. Otherwise, we can only influence things.

She said in every situation there are five options: get by, get out, get info, get help or get going.
Her suggestion was to ask "What concerns you about this situation?"

The biggest take-away message for me was when she was giving suggestions for what you could say to someone if you felt under attack. The first one was to say, "you could be right," but what really struck me was in the explanation of that she said to remember, "it's not your job to prove someone wrong." Wow. So simple, but so powerful. And very appropriate for me.

I sometimes have a need to make sure people understand something, even if it's not a right/wrong situation - I want them to understand. How can they make an informed decision if they don't understand everything? That's the same sort of thing. So, I've adapted this to be that it's not my job to make someone understand. Sometimes it would be much simpler to just accept that people don't understand something and let it go. This seems to be especially true when it comes to technology things.

I often seem to be around people who mistakenly view me a technological wizard - that is not true, at all, even though I love technology. I always feel it's my "job" to make people understand something so they can see how beneficial/useful/fun it would be for them. I've decided to adopt this concept that it's not my job to make people understand. I think it will be easier of everyone concerned.

Her secret weapons included saying:
You could be right
You're right
Have you seen the new PT Cruiser (or something else off the wall)
Tell me more
I've never thought about it that way...I'll have to consider it
I need some time to think about that, give me an example

She also said that when you're dealing with people and they're doing something you don't like to remember that they are clueless about that and that it's not about you - it's about them. They're doing what they're doing because it serves them, not because it doesn't serve you. It's not your job to prove them wrong and curiousity is your best secret weapon.

She suggested asking lots of open ended questions. "What" and "how" are the most important of the 5Ws and H. She said to stay away from "why" because it feels like judgment.

Obviously, I came away with some things to think about.
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