Peg Herring's Blog – December 2007 Archive (21)

Inspiration (from the Oldies) for the End of 2007

As we look forward to a new year, let's take our cue from the coolest source ever...oldies. See if you can discern my New Year's resolutions from the hints:

In 2008:

1. "I will __________! I will ____________!" (disco)

2. "I'm gonna sit right down and __________ __________ ___ __________." (Old pop)

3. "Wherever you may hide away; I swear to you, I will be ________" (Les Miz)

4. "I'm gonna _________ when the Spirit says __________" (gospel)

5. "I…


Added by Peg Herring on December 31, 2007 at 11:02pm — No Comments

The Writer's Mind vs The Reader's

I've been reading a book by an author I like a lot, but this one has been a real trial. Too many characters, too much obscure information, and a shift between first and third person that creates the feeling that I'm reading two different books. I'll finish it because she's good and I know it, but it won't go on my list of her best.

At the same time I had the experience of two people reading one of my works with two different results. The first one didn't finish, simply gave up with…


Added by Peg Herring on December 28, 2007 at 9:59pm — 6 Comments

An Allegorical Poem

Here lies the body of our Anna,

Done to death by a banana.

It wasn't the fruit that laid her low,

'Twas the skin of the thing that made her go.

Like poor Anna, it often isn't writing that kills writers; it's what comes along with it.

Yesterday I was trying to plan a book tour, composing letters (personalized, of course) to booksellers, librarians, festival vendors, and various places where we might rest our heads as we travel. At the same time I was…


Added by Peg Herring on December 27, 2007 at 10:11pm — 3 Comments

Creative Marketing

Since my book releases next month, I've been thinking (a lot) about marketing. It seems to me that we must be just as creative in this phase as we were when plotting the novel, just as bold in approaching various venues as we were when seeking an agent. It's a bit daunting.

Here's what I've learned, or at least what I think I've learned.

No book will fit every venue every time. You have to choose where you'll expend your energies and forget trying to sell to every…


Added by Peg Herring on December 26, 2007 at 10:00pm — No Comments

3 R's for Writers

Rest Rejuvenates Writing-

Take the day off and relax!

Added by Peg Herring on December 25, 2007 at 10:29pm — No Comments

Reading Makes Better Writers

With all the holiday stuff that's going on, I found it difficult to write over the last few days. In the short patches of time that I get, though, I've been catching up on my reading, and I thought I'd reflect today on what reading does for writers.

It creates the possibility of writing. From your first attempts at reading you've been building your writing skills: vocabulary, turn of phrase, style, genre preference, and plot-building. If you don't read, both in your genre and…


Added by Peg Herring on December 24, 2007 at 10:19pm — 1 Comment

Christmas Crimes & Causes

I like Christmas because

reindeer fly, monsters become good guys, and the ugliest Christmas tree is O.K.

poor and rich, wise and ignorant, powerful and powerless, all stop and consider their purpose

you get to see people at their best

I hate Christmas because

you see people at their worst: greedy, ornery, and intoxicated: how did Christ's birthday become a reason to get drunk?

after all the preparation and anticipation, it's over in a few…


Added by Peg Herring on December 21, 2007 at 10:06pm — No Comments

My Shameful Christmas Secret

It's time to share what I hate about Christmas, and I make no excuses for it.

I hate decorating. In late fall my friends and acquaintances start talking about "doing" the house, some with anticipation, some with resignation. I refuse. I don't like the clutter, I don't enjoy the disruption, and I see no reason to turn my house into a wannabee Wal-Mart.

I realize this might put me in the grinch category, but otherwise I do okay. I arrange and conduct a huge Christmas concert for…


Added by Peg Herring on December 20, 2007 at 10:51pm — No Comments

More Christmas Opinions

Readers tell what they dislike about Christmas:

Deciding who you're supposed to buy for. You always miss someone!…


Added by Peg Herring on December 19, 2007 at 9:29pm — No Comments

Christmas Bests and Worsts So Far

I love Christmas because:

the family gets together

people actually think about what someone else wants

everything gets decorated, even the fenceposts (by Mother Nature)

kids seem younger than their years, and so do a lot of adults

I hate Christmas because:

you have to try to "gift" equally so no one feels slighted. It's…


Added by Peg Herring on December 18, 2007 at 10:15pm — No Comments

Are You Cute as a Bug or Bah, Humbug at Christmas?

This is the time of year when we tend to divide into camps: those who get all soft and gooey about lights, tinsel, and manufactured bows opposite those who grumble about conspicuous consumption and overcrowded malls. I thought it might be fun to let you try your hand at listing the best and worst things about your Christmas experience. You can be serious or funny, specific or general, but I won't publish anyone's name, no matter how many ugly ties that person has bought for you in the…


Added by Peg Herring on December 17, 2007 at 10:12pm — 1 Comment

The Last Word on Speaking and Listening

I've been blogging on speaking and listening, sharing what I observed over thirty years of teaching communication. It's important for today's author to be a good speaker, because we must present well before agents, editors, and audiences of potential readers. While I would hate to think we compete with each other, we are compared to other writers as we sit on panels, in pitch sessions, and so on. Many times I've bought books based on the impression a speaker made on me at a convention.…


Added by Peg Herring on December 14, 2007 at 9:39pm — No Comments

Not-So-Private Nervous Reactions to Public Appearances

I hear from many of my author friends that they hate the public part of the business even though they realize that it's required. If you've been reading the last week's posts, you probably know that I'm not particularly bothered by speaking to groups or meeting new people. After teaching communication for thirty years, I can tell you that whatever your nervous symptoms are, everyone has something, and they probably will never go away. All you can do is minimize them. Here are a few things to…


Added by Peg Herring on December 13, 2007 at 10:07pm — No Comments

Listening to More Than Words

I mentioned in an earlier blog that we must learn to listen to more than the words that are spoken. Last night the Presidential candidates were answering a question about the environment put to them by Katie Couric . She asked if they believe the global warning issue has been over-hyped. Without listening at all to their answers, a person could predict what the words would be. Listening to their tone of voice was much more revealing.

No political candidate is going to say that an…


Added by Peg Herring on December 12, 2007 at 10:45pm — No Comments

You've Got about Thirty Seconds

All day long we choose what we will listen to and what we will tune out. Understanding that, a speaker knows what he must do: capture the listener's attention, pulling it away from television, radio, Muzak, and that building custodian who's mowing the lawn in apparently endless circles. Even if they win that half of the battle, speakers still have to make listeners want to keep…


Added by Peg Herring on December 11, 2007 at 11:00pm — No Comments

How Do You Like to Learn Things?

I don't know how much the average person hears about learning styles, but teachers hear about them a lot. Brain research is fascinating but still pretty new and unsure of itself. One of the things researchers know is that we each have ways to learn that are unique to us. I thought it might help to list them.

Verbal-linguistic learners are teachers' dream students. They learn well just by listening; they tend to speak and write well themselves. That means classroom learning is…


Added by Peg Herring on December 10, 2007 at 10:01pm — No Comments

Don't Just Talk, Speak!

In teaching communication for thirty years, I've learned something about the process. For some, communication is terrifying; my college roommate lived in fear that someone in a group would address her and she'd have to answer with everyone looking at her. I, on the other hand, love to talk and had to learn as I matured that less is better where conversation is concerned.

Writers today must speak as well as write. In order to continue to be published, one not only has to come up with…


Added by Peg Herring on December 7, 2007 at 10:39pm — No Comments

Brevity Is Still Soulful

It's an old quote from Shakespeare: "Brevity is the soul of wit". Communication in today's world, which is nonstop unless you're fast asleep, requires capturing the listener's attention and then communicating quickly. Most people aren't used to listening for more than a few minutes at a time.

I won't argue whether that's good or bad, but when we hear of sermons that used to last three hours and piano concerts that started with nine mazurkas as an introduction, we understand the…


Added by Peg Herring on December 7, 2007 at 10:34pm — No Comments

Remembering With Your Whole Brain

Yesterday I made a case for listening as a writing tool. Today I'd like to suggest some ways to listen better, gleaned from years of teaching communication.

1. Prepare to listen. It takes some practice, but if you are conscious of the need/desire to really hear what people are saying, you'll do better. As you enter a room full of strangers tell yourself, "I'm going to learn the names of everyone I meet tonight."

2. Use mnemonics. Salespeople learn names in order to be (or seem)…


Added by Peg Herring on December 5, 2007 at 10:10pm — No Comments

Abuse and Neglect

Yesterday I laid out my contention that listening should be taught, like writing and reading. Authors know that one must observe carefully with the eye in order to be able to capture an image. The same applies to the other senses: we have to hear, taste, smell, and touch with consciousness in order to be able to describe the sensation.

Most people listen badly. Although we spend the largest part of our day listening, not talking or writing, we tend to be thinking of other things as we…


Added by Peg Herring on December 4, 2007 at 9:35pm — No Comments

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