I Mean What I Say

Warning: If you’re dragging your feet on something, this post may hurt your feelings, but it’s for your own good.
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We–some of us–do not engage each other enough on the level to see what’s behind common phrases such as, “How are you?”

I remember times in 2009 and 2010 when I told people I was writing a book, and often they would ask, “What’s it about?,” which is a fair question in and of itself. But some of the people I was in touch with regularly, it didn’t register, and they would ask again and again. I didn’t really think about it until I received my first printed book recently and started showing it to folks. As they held the book in their hands, most of the comments were praise and astonishment that I completed my goal.

Writing books is no joke, and a lot of people who say they want to do it or are going to do it, do not ever even try. I didn’t say, “I’m writing a book” to get a reaction from someone, make them care about my project, or look at me differently. Once I said it, I knew I was going to do it.

It surprised me how surprised THEY were, because I know me, and they know me–they know I’m a goal-getter. As hard as writing my first book was at times (the process–not the actual writing), I knew I could not give up because I was called to write this book, and I am pretty ambitious. I believe that you give your time to the things that matter most to you. That being said, I push myself harder than anyone else ever could when it comes to my goals.

I do what I say I’m going to do– for myself and for others.

Continue reading “I Mean What I Say”

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When Your Heart Speaks, Take Notes

Woman sitting against tree writing in notebook
Credit: Blend Images

The first time I looked at Jay-Z’s book Decoded, I thought it was a collection of thoughts, poems, songs that he wrote and made it look like a journal. Although that’s not an exactly accurate description, it is an artistic book, and it’s clear that he has a way with words.

Rappers–the ones who still write their own rhymes, that is–basically capture their thoughts on all kinds of topics and then spit them. I don’t know that any of them would necessarily consider their writing as journaling, but to me it is almost the same thing–writing in the form of journaling helps release a lot of mental stress so that you can try to process it and make sense of it. For anyone who goes beyond the beat and actually listens to song lyrics, you can see what I mean. Continue reading “When Your Heart Speaks, Take Notes”

Goal Call (March Edition)

Source: Vetta

Of all the groups and organizations I’ve been exposed to or joined since my relocation, none of them have focused on the business side of what I want to do as a professional speaker, freelance writer, and soon-to-be author. That all changed in the past few days.

Speaking Up

As a member of three Toastmasters clubs, I have plenty of opportunities to speak to and mentor folks who are interested in building more confidence with their abilities in public speaking—I actually have a new mentee who gave her first speech this week, and I’m proud of her. Most people I encounter in these clubs have the goal of enhancing their skills in new ways, say, as a trainer or in a sales or PR position where interacting with people publicly is a given. At a recent meeting we gave the agenda to speaker visiting us from another club, who is also a professional speaker and member of the National Speaker’s Association in Georgia (NSA GA). I was so glad to meet someone from NSA, because it has been a goal of mine for a few years of mine to become a professional speaker–I have topics and I’ve spoken in for many conferences and programs, but it’s all for free.  She graciously invited me to an NSA GA meeting, and gave me a card to attend the morning session for free (which I did last weekend).

Upon arrival, I recognized her and a few other people who are also Toastmasters. I’m really excited about networking and being mentored by speakers who are in the business. The way another fellow dual Toastmasters/NSA member explained it to me, Toastmasters is about the ability to speak, whereas NSA is about the business of speaking. And your girl Daree wants to get paid!

Chatting Up

The inspiration doesn’t stop there.  I also decided to attend a networking/mixer event last night called “Talk & Taste.” Each event has a different theme, and the theme of the yesterday’s was, “The Writer’s Edition.” If that wasn’t a goal call for me, I don’t know what is. The event was for a good cause, with proceeds going to the Leadership Academy of 100 Black Men of America, DeKalb County chapter. I didn’t know anyone there, but I started chatting up folks from the parking lot! I was also glad that I brought my last 15 business cards with my old VA information on them so I can start fresh and anew. I also brought along my new Android phone, which I had just received an hour before I heading to the event. It allowed me to “check-in” to the venue, tweet about it, and take pics much more efficiently than my old joint.

It was awesome to have a room full of knowledgeable people–authors, publishers, and marketing professionals–great resources for a person like me on the verge of finishing her first book. A few authors had displays with their work; we talked, ate, exchanged cards, and got information. I always make it a point to write notes on their cards and connect through social media before the night is out, and I was able to do just that. And not everyone was an author, but everyone there had something to offer that I could use or contribute to in some way. Now I have new local contacts that I never had before with opportunities for us to help each other (networking is not one-sided): marketing and promotions, internet radio, womens’ entrepreneurial workshops, and exposure in local magazines (I plan to contribute ads and articles). Even make-up artists (your girl needs to update her headshot since my hair is gone J.) Clearly a great 2 1/2 hour investment (and since I registered online so my cost was only $5).

Speaking of time well spent, the event was scheduled from 6 to 9 pm, and my neighbor kept my daughter for me since the venue was less than 9 miles away. I planned to leave before 9 so she wasn’t up too long after her bedtime, but then the raffle was announced. Despite the turnout (which I heard was larger last time when the weather was colder), only 18 tickets were in the fishbowl for the raffle. The odds of winning something were great. I didn’t know what the prizes were until the raffles began: each of the four authors gave away their books, the venue (5 Seasons Brewery) gave away certificates for some of their menu items (either for catering or individuals–I didn’t catch that), and the grand prize was an Amazon Kindle wireless e-reader. I don’t know why, but the small crowd was relatively subdued about the chances of winning of Kindle, but I wasn’t. I love brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries, and I am not sold on reading books from a device instead of holding one in my hand, but I hit my high-pitched cheer when they drew for the Kindle– and I won it. (Several people were taking pictures of all the winners, so if I get one that they took with my crazy facial expressions, I’ll update this post with it.)  Yay me!!

Who knew I’d get two cool new devices in one day? But I have a good feeling that the contacts I made that evening were priceless.

Goal Call: The first quarter of 2011 is almost over. How are you doing with your goals? Have you been able to connect with people who have been successful in your area of focus? What can you do to reach out and create or rejuvenate your professional network?

I Can Add “Award-Winning” to My Title Now…

I just learned that I won an award for one of my entries in the Writer’s Digest 79th Annual Writing Competition! The top 100 winners in each of several categories will be named in the December 2010 issue, and I received 82nd place in the Magazine Feature Writing category. As someone who has never been published in a national magazine before, I’m feeling quite honored. I submitted entries in three different categories, but so did thousands of others.

I could not have written the article without a few accomplished (and busy) authors/publishers who didn’t hesitate to contribute their reflections and advice. To Regina Brooks, Karen Hunter, Mitzi Miller, and Denene Millner, I thank you so much for giving of your time so I could interview you in December 2009, not knowing where the article would turn up, or if it would ever see the light of day! I admire you all so much, and it was a great honor.

If I am allowed to, I will post the award-winning feature article on this blog before the year is out. Yay me!!!

Getting Around To It (This Isn’t Writer’s Block)

The last modification date of the files is mid-August. September and October rolled by before I finally decided to print out what I had for my manuscript in mid-November.  I had been writing articles, working my 2 ½ jobs, and traveling to speak. That was my excuse for the delay in doing my first full self-edit of my manuscript. I can’t afford to hand it to a professional editor without taking a look first.

But I didn’t want to look. I was like a person in deep credit card debt who tries to avoid their problem by not opening their bills. If I didn’t see it, it wasn’t there.

So in mid-November, I printed out each of my chapter files from Word, 3-hole punched them, and cleared out a 3” wide binder with old notes from a PR class I took in grad school. I carefully placed each chapter in the binder in order with dividers. This was my new book binder. This is part of the story I would tell when people interviewed me about my finished book.

I placed the binder on my dining room table in plain sight, and headed off to a Toastmasters conference. The first session I attended was about self-publishing. Do you have a book inside of you? YES! But it’s on my table now—it’s almost finished!

I told the presenter that I considered myself an aspiring author because although I had just printed out my book, it wasn’t finished. He begged to differ. He said if I wanted to, I could go to Kinko’s and slap a cover on it, and since the book IS written, I am an author. I mulled it over. Note to self—I’m not finished. I need an editor/book doctor, cover, ISBN…

Two days later, I returned from the conference. The binder was still there, untouched. That following week I opened it and put some notes in it from one of the 30+ writing books I borrowed from the public library. I interviewed renowned authors about THEIR books. And the binder sat. And sat.

Continue reading “Getting Around To It (This Isn’t Writer’s Block)”