Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Danger of Reading (continued)

That is the danger of reading. Speaking in other people's voices. Saying things in words and in tones that might get me in trouble! But I still read. Because reading immerses me in worlds that I haven't seen, experiences I haven't had, and thoughts that hadn't come to me yet. And if those voices are true and visionary and beautiful, and if I can incorporate them into my own, it makes my voice richer. Take the risk, read!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Danger of Reading (continued)

But if, on closer inspection, it turned out to be a tree branch, as noted by my retired physician companion, and if I had been reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, then I might say,
“Exactly, my dear Watson”

but I wouldn’t say, “Elementary, my dear Watson”
unless I had been watching a movie, because Sherlock Holmes
never said that in any of the books!

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Danger of Reading (continued)

We didn’t go anywhere special for vacation, just stayed at home. I like to read, but if I heard a noise while reading Edgar Allen Poe, I might say:
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door --
Only this, and nothing more."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Danger of Reading (continued)

What if someone had asked me about my vacation
and I had been reading Charles Dickens:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us...”

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Danger of Reading (continued)

When our Vice President of Sales said he was taking some of our clients golfing, I was glad I had not been reading Dave Berry and said:
“Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it’s open to anybody who owns hideous clothing.”

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Danger of Reading (continued)

If I had been reading Benjamin Franklin while training my employees in the call center, I don’t know if they would have understood me if I had said:
Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.
Or if they would have just wondered why I was wearing those funny-looking glasses.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Danger of Reading (continued)

When one of the other managers was making a presentation
I could have been reading Mark Twain and said:
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Danger of Reading (continued)

When my team member found out that I had had a bad day, I might have been reading Edward Bulwer-Lyton and said:
“I was forced to go home in a very ill humor, I assure you.”

And then I might have gone on to say:
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—
except at occasional intervals,
when it was checked by a violent gust of wind
which swept up the streets, rattling along the housetops,
and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps
that struggled against the darkness."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Danger of Reading (continued)

The other day my coworkers and I were talking about the upcoming company picnic and I was telling them that the attire should not be shorts because our boss has such pathetically white skinny toothpick legs.

I didn’t notice that he had come up behind me until he asked, “Do you think that’s funny?”

If I was reading Aristotle, I might have said:
Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.

Instead I said, "No Sir!"

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Danger of Reading

I have a problem. Reading is dangerous for me. It's not because I live in a repressive society or that what I read makes me unhappy, discontented, or rebellious. It's not because of the content at all. It's because of the voice. Every writer has a voice, a style. It's the words they use, the way they put the words together, the way they communicate what they think. My problem is that when I read I pick up the writer's voice and it comes out in my speech.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Being Entertaining

I am working on my next Toastmasters educational achievement award, trying to finish the tenth speech in this set in the next week or two. My very last project in the Professional Speaker manual is an entertaining speech. I always like to be entertaining. At least interesting. Hopefully informative. So, I thought this would be any easy one. But no, this is strictly an entertaining speech, with no story, no point, just to get people to laugh a lot and have fun. I see this is going to be hard work!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Interview Questions

A fellow Toastmaster asked me how you can tell if someone is not being honest about their ability to do a job. I said that you can verify their education and employment if you think that will give you the information you need. But I think it is more important to find out if they want to do the job. She agreed. So how do you tell that?

Tomorrow I will be the Table Topics Master at Albuquerque Weekenders Toastmasters. That means that I will be in charge of asking questions to randomly selected people so that they can practice their impromptu speaking, and I thought I would ask those kinds of questions. These are a few that I thought of:

What was the best job you ever had and why was it the best?
What was the worst job you ever had and why was it the worst?
What do you want to be doing five years from now?
What will you definitely not be doing five years from now?
What would you do if you could not fail?
What is the coolest job in the world?

Can you think of any?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Author Mary Lou Heaphy

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Cliffie Experience

At the Page One Bookstore last Saturday, I was browsing the other writers' tables and saw a book titled, "A Cliffie Experience, Tales of New Mexico 1902-1940". That sounded interesting, so I turned to the back cover and read this: "She lived in the Log House that was built by the same architect who designed both the Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque and the El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon".

I know that house! It's the Albuquerque Press Club where my writer's group and Sandia Lite Roastmasters meets! A 103-year-old log cabin on the National Register or Historic Places and beloved by me. This book was written by the daughter of the woman who owned the house for 50 years. At the Press Club, we tell the story of how a man asked her to marry him and she said, "If you buy me that house, I will marry you." And he did. And she did. And the writer's friend is telling me that story right now!

The author was not there, although she had signed some of the books. I had to have one. I've been reading it since Saturday and it is a great story and makes me love the house even more than I already did. And it's a fascinating description of life in and around Albuquerque back then.

Tonight, I was at the Press Club with our writers' group. In fact, I was telling Judy about the book and showing her some of the old pictures of the Press Club, when a woman walked in with some companions and started talking about the room and how things used to be there. So, I held up the book to compare the picture on the back cover to the woman before me and realized it was her! The writer, Mary Lou Heaphy.

So, our new member Max and I joined the tour and got to hear all about the Press Club from Mary Lou, who lived there herself 30 years. It was fantastic.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Melody Groves at Southwest Writers

The speaker at Southwest Writers tonight was Melody Groves. Her talk was about marketing and self-promotion for writers.

Writers can be shy and think (or hope) that promotion is someone else's job, but Melody pointed out that the writer is the only one who really can or will promote their work. Other people can only help. She stressed how important it is to be able to talk about our work in all kinds of situations and recommended a 7-word answer to the question, "What do you write?"

She gave the best and simplest how-to I've ever heard on networking because word of mouth, even today, is the most effective way to get people to be interested. She said to make a first impression by developing a personal style that is visual. She said to shake hands firmly, look people in the eye, smile, and give out lots of business cards. She said to listen to other people and say their names. And wear a name badge so it's easy for people to remember yours. She said that people will have to hear your name seven times before they remember it, but if they can see it, they will remember in two.

She had lots of great advice. It sounded like marketing could be fun, and you might even make some really good friends along the way!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Looking at Different Parts

I saw my friend and fellow Toastmaster Miz last night and she gave me a clue. She said, "I didn't say you were a wimp, I said you caved." Then, after sleeping on it, I knew what had happened. We were looking at different parts.

I was thinking of the part where I told the other person that she was bugging me. I was clear and direct and sympathetic. I did that all right. To me, that was the important part. To tell someone if they are bothering you so that it doesn't become a bigger problem.

But I remember now that I did not do well on the next part. When the other person acted as if she was hurt, I wanted to make her feel better. Which is not a bad thing, but the way I did it was. It felt to me like she was acting as a child would. So, I treated her like I would treat a child, which was not the right role for me to be playing and probably not even how a parent should treat a child who is acting like that. I told her I would do something for her in return. When that didn't work, I offered to buy her something!

That hasn't happened to me in real life. People have usually taken what I say the way I intended it. Occasionally, they have gotten angry initially and I have done well with that. But I obviously need to work on this possibility, because someday someone really might react like that!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

An Interesting Dilemma

I found myself in a quandary this morning. I gave a speech on Asserting Yourself Effectively from the Advanced Manual, Interpersonal Communications, at one of my Toastmaster's clubs. This is a really fun manual because you get another Toastmaster to role play with you. My partner was terrific (and very funny). We had a great time. After my speech, as usual, I got feedback from the other club members.

I have been trained not to argue with feedback and I agree that I shouldn't for these very good reasons: (1) I have to get everything across in my presentation, not explain myself later, because (2) in a real-world situation, the audience would not tell me these things and I wouldn't have a chance to explain, and so (3) the audience is always right about how they perceived what I said. So, I was trying to just accept what they told me.

On the other hand, some of the feedback was disagreement with the way I asserted myself in the role play. It seems that several people thought that I was too wimpy. I didn't know what to say, because I'm not supposed to argue, but, on the other hand, I believe I handled it the right way. Assertive is not mean or tough or unkind. Assertive is clear and direct and caring. I hesitated for a long time, but then I did try to convince them to see it my way. But it's a loop within a loop, if you know what I mean, because I should have convinced them during my presentation!

Sometimes when I believe something, it's hard for me to remember that other people may not think about it the same way that I do. I have to get them to come with me, if I can. For that, I have to remember how I came to believe it, what convinced me.

I wonder, when giving a speech as opposed to having a conversation, should I always assume that people will disagree with my premise, because I can't check with them as I go, I have to do whatever convincing I'm going to do all at once? Or should I just have been ready for the comments and not tried to be silent? Hmmm. I think I will try to observe what other speakers do in that regard and what is most effective.

It's interesting!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Superb Speech

We really had a wonderful time at Sandia Lite Roastmasters! Ron gave us a superb speech. No! I can't tell you what it's about. It's his competition speech for the Regional contest. But it was one of those speeches that lets you see into the speaker's soul and changes the world for the good just a little bit. I love when that happens. We had a great time tearing it to pieces so that he could make it even better, make it perfect! Of course, that's not what we're supposed to do. But we were all psyched! Because we want him to win at Regional and win at International and bring worldwide fame and glory to New Mexico!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Invitation to Sandia Lite Roastmasters

We had a great time at Writers-to-Writers over at the Hastings on Coors and Montano Monday night. And tomorrow, another great time shall be had by all who come to Sandia Lite Roastmasters! Because we are having as our guest the District 23 (that's all of New Mexico plus El Paso County) International Speech Contest winner, Ron Chapman, and he is going to practice a completely new and awesome International Speech for the Regional competition and then teach us a thing or two (he'll try anyway) about writing and giving speeches.

All are welcome, Toastmasters or not. So come to the Albuquerque Press Club at 6:00 PM. From I-25, go west on Central Avenue one block, then turn left beside Memorial Hospital, go one block straight and then up the hill to Highland Park and park anywhere. The Press Club is on the right. The Press Club is a 101-year-old log cabin on the National Register of Historic Places and an awesome place in its own right!

See you there!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Invitation to Writers to Writers, Monday 6:30 PM

Please join me at the next Writers to Writers workshop on Monday, May 8, 6:30 PM at the Hastings on Coors at Montano on the west side of Albuquerque. I'll be there to talk about "What I Learned from Michael Larsen". Michael Larsen is a very famous literary agent that I had the privilege of having an e-mail correspondence with, then a telephone conversation, and finally got to meet and pitch my non-fiction book proposal to at a Southwest Writers Conference. And that was all after reading his book, which contains everything the aspiring non-fiction writer needs to know:

How to Write a Book Proposal
How to Write a Book Proposal

Lela Belle Wolfert

The highlight of visiting Southwest Writers has to be meeting Lela Belle Wolfert. At every meeting, the President introduces all the officers and members of the board and states their titles and functions. But when he gets to Lela Belle, he asks us, "Who is she?" and we all yell, "THE QUEEN OF EVERYTHING!!!" She looks like a queen of romance in her elaborate and beautiful hats. I especially love the ones with the plumes. Here is her book of poetry:

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Gerald Weinberg

If you're a writer, you need to know what Gerald Weinberg knows about writing. He's been where we need to go!

Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method
Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method

Friday, May 05, 2006

Raquel Troyce

Raquel is bustling and breezy, warm and welcoming. You'll love meeting her at Southwest Writers. Her book is called "Seducción, amor y mentiras". If you can't already read Spanish, you'll want to learn!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Sandy Schairer

The effervescent Sandy Schairer is a writer, a blogger, and a Doctor of Metaphysics. Her book of extremely short stories for busy people is available from her website:

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mesa Dean (Melody Groves)

You couldn't ask for anyone more willing to lend a hand than Melody and you'll find her at Southwest Writers most meetings, too. She is a real western woman. She knows about horses and rodeos and westerns, which she writes!

The Quest
The Quest

Sonoran Rage: A James Colton Adventure
Sonoran Rage: A James Colton Adventure

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Jerry Davis

Jerry Davis also comes to Southwest Writers regularly and helps make it the warm and friendly place that it is. He has written two memoirs that are very interesting reading:

Home on the Farm: Essays on a Michigan Childhood
Home on the Farm: Essays on a Michigan Childhood

Tales Of The Road: Essays On A Half Century Of Travel
Tales Of The Road: Essays On A Half Century Of Travel

Monday, May 01, 2006

David Corwell

David Corwell is a very nice man who is always cheerful, pleasant, and great to be around. Maybe that's because he lets that other side out in "dark tales of elves" and his other fantasy and science fiction writing. Hmmm. In any case, you'll find him at most Southwest Writers meetings manning the book table, where SWW lets members sell their books. He is very active at SWW and also with the Writers to Writers group that meets the second Monday of the month at the Hastings on Coors. He invited me to give a talk there next Monday, May 8, and I picked the topic, which is "The Non-Fiction Book Proposal: What I Learned from Michael Larsen". So come by if you're interested in writing or if you just want to buy a book!

Cloaked in Shadow: Dark Tales of Elves
Cloaked in Shadow: Dark Tales of Elves