In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Website and Blog Location

Starting today, September 20, 2012, In Others' Words is located at My talented and ve-ery patient web guru, Stacey Dyer has developed a fun new site.
All my subscribers should be automatically redirected there. If you weren't, please email at so we can correct the problem.
And if you're new, please join us over at  

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Monday, September 19, 2011

In Others' Words: Home

Photo by John Skiba Photography

"My home is not a place, it is people."
~ Lois McMaster Bujold, American author

I had a definitive definition of home for many years--and it was most definitely a place.
Then I married my husband, who was in the Air Force. 
My idea of home had to change.
Uncle Sam determined where home was -- and I realized location wasn't the determining factor when I thought of home.
The people who were with me, whatever our address was at the time, they represented home.
The stuff we lugged with us?
Not home, either.
My husband, my son, my three daughters: home.
I've also discovered when "home" becomes people, it expands. One of our family mottoes is "There's always room for one more."
And watching my adult children establish their own homes ... ah, bittersweet. I'm cheering them on with tear-filled eyes.

In Your Words: How do you define home?

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Friday, September 16, 2011

In Others' Words: Life

"A new dress doesn't get you anywhere; it's the life you're living in the dress, and the sort of life you had lived before, and what you will do in it later." 
~Diana Vreeland, fashion columnist

I like to go shopping for new clothes. I like finding something--a cute top, a fun dress--that makes me feel good when I wear it. I walk a little taller, smile a little wider.
And then I read this quote. Whoa. 
Am I equating life--living--to the clothes in my closet? Or are my clothes merely necessary items so that I can go out and live my life?
Don't get me wrong. I don't think having clothes (fashionable clothes, at that) is to be avoided. It's just understanding the value of a pair of pants. Or a pair of shoes. Or a funky scarf.
Life equals my experiences--now, in the past, and in the future.
Life is not what's hanging in my closet.

In Your Words: So what do you think? Do clothes "get you anywhere?" There is that whole "dress for success" creed. What's the value of new clothes?

photo by justsayozz/

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

In My Words: Balance, Balance, Keep Your Balance

I'm mulling over blog topics last night with my husband. Our conversation went like this:
Me: Maybe I'll post about how writing affects the family.
My husband: That would be a great idea!
OK, then. Glad he had an opinion.
My writing life--my professional life--frustrates my family at times. Not all the time. At least, I don't think so. Of course, I can't ask any of them because they're all in bed while I finish this blog post.
Here's the problem: I work from home.
Yes, there are so many advantages to working from home. That whole no-commute-can-stay-in-my-jammies-thing? Kinda nice on the days that the deadlines gang up on me.
And when everyone else is gone--at school or at work away from home--I can go to my office and get a lot accomplished, writing-wise. And even throw in the occasional load of laundry.
But eventually my family comes home. They are no longer working. And sometimes--oftentimes--I still am. This is when frustration kicks in.
Believe me, I try, try, try to walk away from the computer. (Please notice the multiple "trys.") Just because school is over for my 10-year-old doesn't mean the countdown to my deadline stopped ticking. And when my husband comes home, he leaves work at his office. Yes, he may have a few things to finish up on the computer, but for him work and home are separate entities.
For me? Work and home are one and the same.
And therein lies both my advantage and my frustration.
Problem: How to balance being a stay-at-home mom-work-from-home-woman?
Answer: I don't know. You tell me.
Sorry. Although I will take any suggestions.
For me, it is all about balance. I love the photo I found for this blog post. I'm fascinated by that rock balancing on that other rock. I mean, it just shouldn't be able to do that.
And that's how I feel about my life: I just can't do it.
But I want to. And I will.
What I have to remember is this: Finding balance is not a one-time thing. (This is where that photo fails to capture truth.) In real life, balance is more like walking across a tightrope, with constant adjustments in position required to make it safely across to the other side.
 Some days I manage to balance real life (my family) with my writing life. I meet my deadlines and I'm an available wife, mom and friend. Other days? Not so much. I go to bed with a niggling sense of dissatisfaction.
One thing I know is this: I won't quit. I'll adjust and adjust some more until I get it right for the next day. And the next.

In Your Words: Have you found the balance you need for your life priorities? What helps you be available for both your real life and your writing life?

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In Others' Words: Words

"I like good strong words that mean something." 
~Louisa May Alcott, author

Well said, Louisa.

That's a goal worth striving for: As a writer, I want to produce good strong words that mean something.
As a woman, I want to speak good strong words that mean something.

Little Women, written by Louisa May Alcott, was the first book I remember reading. And re-reading. And yes, re-reading. Her words were strong enough to make me cry. And smile. And fret about Jo and Laurie (and eventually Professor Bhaer). Her writing is vivid enough that I recall scenes even as I type this blog post and I haven't picked the book up in years.  What was Amy thinking when she tried to change the shape of her nose by putting a clothespin on it?!

I wonder how many people recall words I've written?
I wonder how many people recall words I've spoken?
And are the words they're remembering good, strong words? Or did I wound someone? Trip someone up? Maybe disappoint someone? 

Words--strong in a powerful sense. But how is that strength used?

In Your Words: What kind of words do you like? Are you in agreement with Louisa? Are you intent on writing and speaking words with power and meaning? Are you hitting the mark?

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Survey Says: Writing Conference Concerns

Friends Teri, Pat, Edie and Melissa (the 2010 Frasier winner). 

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about a survey on writers conferences. Specific question: Why do you attend writers conferences?
Today's question for discussion:
What are your major concerns when preparing for a writers conference?
Possible answers:

  • Paying for the conference, the travel, and the lodging
  • Pitching my book to an editor/agent
  • Choosing which workshops to attend--to many to choose from
  • Other
You hear lots of talk about the writerly angst involved with pitching--going eye-to-eye with an editor or agent and hoping your passion for your story outweighs your nervousness. But, despite all that, the 32 respondents to the survey didn't list this as the top anxiety producer. Nope. Most of the writers (62.5% or 20 out of 32 respondents) said they were most concerned about paying for the conference, the travel, and the lodging.
Can you relate?
Of all the reasons writers don't attend a conference, cost is the most common "why not" that I hear. 
Let me give you some specifics. I'm attending the ACFW conference next week. Here's a run down of my costs:
  1. ACFW conference registration (early bird) -- $540
  2. Reservations at the Hyatt -- $600 (4 nights, but this will be divided three ways w/ my roommates. Oh, and all those crazy extra taxes aren't included yet. You know what I'm talking about.)
  3. Airline ticket -- $199.40 (I'm flying Southwest because they don't charge one of those obscene baggage fees. And their flight attendants are so, so entertaining.)
  4. Shuttle reservation from the airport to the Hyatt and back again after the conference -- $34
  5. MBT Pizza Party (a must-attend event!) -- $25
Subtotal: $1398.40

OK, that's a bit of an Ouch! 
Now here's why it's a subtotal: What if I want to go to the Early Bird session? (Add $85, if I registered early.) Or the MBT Pitch Scrimmage, so I'm ready to pitch my book with professionalism and poise and an inspiring hook? ($65)
Paid critique? ($35 I've invested in this kind of feedback.) Purchase the conference CDs? (~$99--and yes,  done this too.) If you drive, add parking. 
Adding in those other costs (and assume I exert extreme control and don't visit the bookstore (yeah, right):
Total: $1682.40

(And yes, I realize there is no clothes budget added in.)

Is a conference worth that kind of change?
I say yes. I am, after all, a writer. A professional writer. Even when I was a beginning professional writer, I had a goal in mind: publication. And attending conferences is an absolute must to achieve that goal. Face to face interaction with both editors and agents, as well as other writers, is vital. 
Let me put it in perspective for you: Last year I attended ACFW. Pitched my novel, Wish You Were Here.
Does attending a writers conference guarantee publication? Unfortunately, no. But that personal interaction with an editor allows you to sell your book with passion and personality. 

In Your Words: Have you had to pass on a writers conference because of the costs? Any tips to manage the expenses?

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Monday, September 12, 2011

In Others' Words: Discovery

"One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his greatest surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do."
~Henry Ford, American industrialist

Fear ruled my life for too many years.
Yes, there were reasons for the fear, but still ... I look back and think what I lost.
Emotional and spiritual freedom.
For too long I thought life was going to always be lived that way. Afraid.
And then I discovered I could choose to live differently.
Then there came a time when I found the courage and the help to face the past and walk into healing and freedom.
It wasn't easy.
I needed others' help.
And I needed faith like never before.
And I had to stop being afraid of the truth ... because sometimes the truth is the hardest thing to face.

In Your Words: Have you surprised yourself? Have you discovered you could do something you were afraid to do? I'd love to hear your story.

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