What a Sweet Gig!


I’m super stoked for a multiplicity of reasons!!

Architecture and Interiors photography by Jim Stephenson / clickclickjim

  1.  Coffee – There is nothing more shocking to the writer’s system than to go for coffee and there is none.  I don’t mean the coffee pot was empty,  It was.  I mean,  after finding the coffee pot empty and you search the cupboards and find NONE in the house. I know, right?  After an urgent mandatory trip into town, dealing with crazy drivers that don’t know how blinkers work,  and slow people that are determined to get between you and the shelf that contains the elixir of life – the precious  substance was obtained!  SUCCESS! OH, and the 24 ounce cup from the gas station  didn’t hurt matters either!  I am now fully caffeinated for the next few weeks.  (Or months, depending on how long  8 cans of  my favorite brew last, and how many people I have to share with.)
  2. Freelance Writing Opportunity – I’ll fill ya all in after I know more details but  if it goes well. it will be a decent second income for doing what I used to do  when I worked for the government, and what I’ve done for free for a charitable organization for years. Anyway,  I’m super thrilled that my name is in the hat, and the potential is there. Hit or miss,  at least I tried!
  3. Reviews–  I am so happy to have reviews on Amazon for Red Wine and Roses! Doubly stoked that they are good reviews!

For a rating of 4.3 stars out of 5!!

  1. Speaking Engagement –Tomorrow night. Held at our local library. I get the opportunity to gush about my work.  SQUEE!  A chance to  put in my two cents worth to a captive audience. Mwahahahaha!          meet and greet
  2. Chocolate! – While assembling my giveaway baskets for tomorrow’s event,  I found a single serving bag of M&M’s that my daughter bought for me last week.  SCORE!

So, while I indulge in a little chocolate to  go with my caffeine buzz, have  a peak at the reviews!  Then you can buy the book and leave your own review!

I hope it give you the feel goods, because . . .  that’s what a romance novel is supposed to do!

Write on my friends, write on!

Conquering the Fear of Public Speaking


The most common phobia is the fear of public speaking.  Isn’t it ironic that more people are afraid of standing in front of a group of people than they are of death?

 School does little to prepare us for this.  Most jobs don’t prepare us for it either.  Most of us lack confidence, which is the root of the fear of public speaking.

Public speaking has benefits:

  • It boosts your confidence levels, and therefore creates more opportunities for success in job interviews and in our careers.
  • You will be more comfortable “breaking the ice” and starting conversations with strangers. This expands your social circle and improves your personal life as well.
  • You will be more comfortable working in a team, an important part of most jobs these days.
  • You will be able to give effective presentations and seminars.  This improves your professional life and relations with colleagues.

“Great, sounds good but that doesn’t help me not feel like puking at the thought of standing on a platform holding a microphone.”

NO it doesn’t, but instead of automatically saying ‘I can’t’ it helps to look at the benefits to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks.

What are the risks?

  • I’ll embarrass myself. (I can do that without standing on a stage!  If you do, then chalk it up to the most embarrassing moments and move on.)
  • I might forget everything, and lock up. (That’s why you make notes whether on index cards, or you type out everything you plan to say and read it from the paper.)
  • I might mess up. (Don’t we all? Prepare the best you can, and give it your best shot.)
  • People might laugh at me. (Then use it!  Get them to laugh with you. Clear the air with a joke; put things in a humorous context.)
  • I will look like a fool. (Maybe, but Chris Rock, Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, and Tim Allen all got their start this way.)
  • I might puke. (Been there done that and I survived.  Hint: Don’t eat much for a couple of hours before you speak.  You can always pig out afterwards.)

“I don’t know, it still seems so scary.”

Let’s look at what we can do to overcome those fears.

1.      Take the Plunge Like the Nike ad, just do it.  Start with small groups that you would be comfortable with. My first speaking engagement was in a group that had 6 people. That’s like sitting around having coffee.  Lead a small group, invite your friends to a Book Club, and ask them questions about the book.  Join a writing group, discuss openly. When you get a little braver, join a group such as toastmasters.

2.      Preparation Think about what you are going to say. Write it down.  Practice at home and time yourself.  Practice several times.  You’ll find as you repeat your material, you’ll be adding a bit here and there expounding on specific points, and possibly editing things out that sounded better on paper.  Record yourself, and listen to it.  Are you stuttering?  Saying ummmmmm, ok, or some other word frequently?  Practice makes perfect, or at least passable.  Don’t expect to wow the audience your first time out of the chute!  Thomas Edison stated “Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.”  The same holds true for writing, and for public speaking.  Nobody sees the practice in the living room, or in front of your bathroom mirror.  By going through your material several times, this also will help you not forget and go blank.  If you lose your place refer to your cards.

3.      Who Are They?  Know your audience.  If you are speaking to a group of high school students, you will want to present different material than you would present to adults.  Don’t try to force slang expressions to sound cool, and don’t talk down to people.  Speak in understandable language that they can relate to.  If you’re speaking to a room full of nurses it’s fine to use nurse-ese; but to us non nurse type, it’s best to use layman’s terms. Which leads to the next point:

4.      Speak to Like-Minded People Relate to the people you are speaking to.  I could never speak to a room full of nurses about nursing topics.  I could however speak to them from the perspective of why patients have a fear and loathing of nurses, it’s called needles. I could describe moments of panic, from the patient’s point of view in a humorous vein that will lighten the tone yet get my point across.

5.      Sport the Tude Dr. Robert Schuler stated “You are what you think about all day long.” Quit the negative self talk of “I can’t, I’m afraid, I’m not good enough.”  If that’s what you tell yourself you’re right.  How are you ever going to get better if you don’t change your attitude?

6.      Perseverance You get better with practice so don’t base your whole experience on your first attempt.  Learn from your mistakes and do better next time. The best thing to do when you get thrown by a horse is get back on and show it who is boss! Yes, it can be a blow to your pride. Learning can be humbling, but you’re better off for it.

7.      Everyone’s a Critic OK, after you cry from the criticism whether it’s from yourself or from others wipe your eyes and evaluate the validity of the criticism. If it’s not valid, disregard it and don’t let it have power over you.  If it is then apply changes. 

8.      Rebound Get back in the game and get the next one.  Bounce back from your failures. If you aren’t failing, then you’re not trying. As John Maxwell has stated, we ‘fail forward’. This is where you have to put on your big girl panties or big boy pants and suck it up buttercup and deal!  You can stay in your failure, or you can improve and move closer to your success.

9.      Miss Personality Obviously not everyone is outgoing, outspoken, or the life of the party.  Go with your personality!  I am the party princess, and I try to make it “fun” for the audience.  Sometimes that’s at my own expense by sharing my  failures and shortcomings.  (What? Like they can’t see them anyway?) Perhaps you’re the more logical type, prone to using statistics.  Using the EIEIO principle, you can be an effective speaker and be yourself. (See more about EIEIO on Perception.) I typically use the inform and entertain to grab my audience’s attention.

10.  Celebrate Success! First, you celebrate because you got outside of your phobia box and tried it! (Yay!) Secondly, you celebrate your victories, the parts you did right!  Let’s get one thing straight right now, throw away your ideas of perfectionism.  Give it your best effort and celebrate that you did!

 

My first public speaking to a larger group, which consisted of about 100 people was lame! I was shaking like a leaf from being nervous. I said ok about 50 times. I stuttered and stammered through my presentation by reading everything from my papers. I puked! I had cotton mouth and kept clearing my throat.

I had received the worst advice I think anyone has ever given which was to imagine your audience naked.  I was embarrassed beyond anything I’ve ever felt.  Trust me; it’s not a good idea to picture your audience naked.  My audience ranged in age from 16 to 75. Their weight ranged from about 98 pounds to over 400.  NOT a good idea!

Keep in mind that they are people, not super beings from another planet with laser beam eyes that will kill you if you mess up. Some of them might be vampires, but not super beings.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

Sir Rustalot


As the seminar approaches I am feeling very unprepared.  (breathe, breathe, breathe)  Let me fill you in on a secret – I tend to be  a perfectionist. I know it doesn’t seem like it at times because I fall short of perfection by a mile, but that’s only because I just keep trying.  I want it to be perfect. I want to nail it!  It’s the same thing with everything I do, part of why I’ve been a quitter in the past.  If I can’t be the best then why try?

If I left it at that I’d never do anything!  Instead, I give it my best try and then spend a very long time convincing myself that it was the best I could do.  It’s not like I’ve been shirking on this, I’ve been preparing.  I spent weeks deciding what I would speak on given the broad topic I was given.  I spent another two weeks gathering research.  I have enough material to do the entire seminar by myself on the expanded topic of Soullish Matters.  Alas, I only get one hour to make my presentation and leave the audience in awe.

I’m so not feeling it!  Maybe it’s because I’ve been over the material so many times, or because to me this is old news and I’m ready to move on to the next shiny.  I edited  my material down to an hour and twelve minutes.   I realize that most people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying.  That’s not my problem, although I do get nervous.   I learned a long time ago not to eat much before I speak.  I can always eat afterwards.  Lucky for me they scheduled me for the 10 a.m. slot before lunch.

My problem is the perfectionism thing.  I want to be the best speaker they’ve ever paid money to hear.  I want to wow them, dazzle them with my brilliance, baffle them with my . . well, you know.  I want to give an excellent performance, make an impression, and give them something to think about after they leave the seminar.  It’s got to be worth them sitting in those hard chairs all day.

I don’t want to just read from my notes either.  As a writer, I tend to write out everything I’m going to say, even the jokes.  They deserve better than that though.  This is the second year in a row I’ve been invited to speak at this seminar. Last year, I felt the same way; unprepared and unqualified, yet it turned out well.

I’m recycling some of my props I used from last time.  Last year I had a wooden sword, a small letter opener that looked like a dagger, a Civil War sword and a claymore.  At the end of the stage I had Sir Rustalot propped up.  It was all about training yourself from the wooden sword to be able to swing the six-foot blade of the claymore with precision and accuracy.  The difference between a play sword and the real deal.  I like swords.  When we move to a house that has a fireplace, I will have a sword collection above the mantle. Weird maybe, but whatever.  It was an impressive demonstration and it got the point across about weilding our swords effectively. My slogan was “Armour Up!”

This year Sir Rustalot will return as the main star.  He didn’t get a proper introduction last year.  This former stage prop of a seven-foot tin knight is showing his age.  There are a lot more rust spots on him than there used to be.  I thought about repainting him and making him all shiny, but I decided to use the aged rust.  On stage left there will be a mannequin representing the plastic Barbie people.  You know who they are,  bubble heads that can tell you all the latest celebrity gossip but can’t figure out how to actually do much of anything. Between them lies Mt. Doom.  A mountain made from cloth draped over the percussion set.  The mountain is our trials in life, the ones everyone has to go through –  the trying times we learn from.

I get to strap on my flame thrower.  I inherited it, it was my fathers.  It is World War II vintage, and he used it often.  He planted zoysia grass so he could burn the yard.  We raked the leaves to the ditch so he could set fire to them.  He had a thing about fire, but never torched any buildings.  We lived in the country so it was ok. Anyway, they won’t let me actually fire up the flame thrower – some nonsense about fire codes.  Also, the shop owner wants her mannequin back on Monday.  Darn the luck anyway!

What happens to plastic in a fire?  It melts into a puddle of goo.  Sort of like the Plastic people do under pressure.  What happens to metal?  Metal is tempered by fire, made harder, stronger, more durable.   In between the two lies the secret.

While I’m making references to Barbie, I’ll be taking them out to the woodshed via Mt. Doom.  The badlands, the place even Murphy was scared of.  Mastering our minds, taking control of those wandering thoughts.  Engaging our wills and not operating on autopilot.  Mastering our emotions and not just working when we “feel” like it.  Yeah, I’m not going to be very nice to them but it’s the tough love thing.  the fun princess will pop in for a few jokes and visuals, but Fräulein Task master will  have them saying: Yes Mam!

Boot camp is tough for the soft boys and girls that get off the bus, but the commanding officer turns them into men, and women of valor.  They’ve been trained, conditioned, and toughened up from the civilians they formerly were.  It’s sort of the same thing here, I’m not actually allowed to make them drop and give me twenty or take them on a five-mile road run, but I am allowed to point out simple things that they’ve been missing.

I speak from the voice of experience here, I’ve been the soft person and I had to make the choices for myself.  I’m more of the warrior now than the plastic Barbie but inside my suit of armour is a child shaking in her boots!  I’m sure everyone will appreciate when the seminar is over, because I’ll get off this subject.  I always feel like this before I teach, and before I speak in public like this.  I’ve never felt as unprepared as I do this time.  I’ve never had such a difficult time beforehand with life trials.  It fits though, my trials were dealing with the very subject I’m teaching on.  Ironic isn’t it?  The teacher is the one that learns the most.

The first time was like the tip of the iceberg.  Each time thereafter has been an increased learning experience for me.  Afterwards the people seem to be thrilled with my presentation, many sharing with me that indeed they struggle with these very things.  I’m going to believe that it will go well this time as well.  If not, maybe I’ll just toss Sir Rustalot from the stage and run like the wind!