Monday, April 30, 2007

What Kind Of Speaker Am I?

It's a nagging question. I've logged hundreds of miles over the past year. Spoken to over 120 groups. I feel ... I improve with each speech. My collection of speeches have been reworked and I have never delivered two speeches the exact same way. I speak from my heart ... not my head. As a result, sometimes I trip over my tongue. But I think the audience forgives that. They want authenticity. They want to be entertained. And sometimes, they even learn things. Not just about me, but about themselves.

I'm not like a lot of speakers. I'm not sure that my speeches will inspire and motivate employees to add to their company's bottom line. At heart, I'm a laid-back country girl. Time-management does not compute in my brain to any great degree. I work on my own schedule, for the most part. Although I do run on high most of the time, I don't like telling folks how to manage their workload. Geesh. For God's sake, by the time you're 21, you should've figured that out. It's not rocket science.

I'm just not made up that way. I think people want a message. One that sings to their memories, or jolts their heart. I think, even in the corporate world, getting employees to like themselves ... makes us more productive on the job. Motivating employees to reach out and help their co-workers who have a need ... it's part of becoming a good steward. It's my desire to speak that into my listener. So yes, I want to do more corporate gigs.

My friend, Dena Harris,, is a fantastic writer and speaker. Witty and wonderful, this gal writes for magazines and teaches how to do it. She's an amazing non-fiction writer that has written books and speaks on the publishing process. Check out her web site, it boggles my mind at her workload. My friend, Lisa Wynn,, check her out. She's amazing, as well. She's also the co-founder of the National Women's Entrepreneur group, Hell on Heelz. She also owns a tea company and distributes all over the globe. These two women kick butt in the non-fiction world.

I'm looking to do the same at the other end of the spectrum. Which is, in most cases, very difficult. How many authors who write fiction speak outside of writing circles? Few, to my knowledge. I'm a storyteller, yes, but I've also spent many years in corporate and management. In speaking, I want to mix the two worlds. And I think ... it could be a winner.

Trouble is, how to promote it. How to get the word out that my speech is worth what I'm now charging. Scott Ginsberg says, "If you have to tell people who you are, you aren't." Or at least he quoted that at the NSA meeting in Charlotte a couple weeks ago. I learned I had to tell myself, "I'm not for free anymore. " And yet, the value and experience I gained over the past year, has been priceless to me. I thank so many for letting me break myself in.

So I got to thinking, I've got to find out who I am as a speaker ... But first, I'll send out an email to my friends and acquaintances. I asked them this question: When you think of me, what's the first word that comes to mind?

Here are my words:
Drama Queen (Hey! that's two words!) genuine, funny, kind, patient, insightful, hard-working, beautiful, pretty, fatn'fluffy, wise, storyteller, charming, bright, talented, shiny, bubbly, happy, driven, inspirational, maternal, committed, radiant, bossy (hmmm), integrity, boobalicious (guess who said that one?) dramatic, supportive, stubborn (boo, hiss), friendly, caring, dreamer, inspired, captivating, purposeful, and last but not least, dedicated.

Now, of course, those were from my friends and family. I'm sure I can conjure up a few folks that may not agree ... but hey, so what. This was a great exercise. And suddenly, I began to think of ways to market my speaking career.

Props to all my peeps for their words.

Tomorrow I speak to Southwest Cabarrus Rotary. It'll be one of my last speaking gigs for a while. I'm purposely slowing down to finish my novel, but I'm also gearing up for what my future holds as a paid speaker.

What kind of speaker am I? I'm finding out every day.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Aaron & Annie

I took a quick one-day detour to Columbus after my trip to Kentucky. We had a narrow window. Leaving Lexington Saturday evening we arrived in Columbus, Ohio after dark. We had one day to spend with my children. But, it was Aaron's birthday and since I had not seen my kids since Thanksgiving, we had to make the trip. Living states away, is difficult at best. But when your kids are in their 30s ... they've got busy lives. And, of course, I've been extremely busy, as well.

Anyway, we spent Sunday together. My daughter's one-bedroom apartment is comfy and cozy. First thing Sunday morning we walk to the coffee shop under a brilliant sunny-blue sky. Church bells rang, birds sang, and it seemed the whole city decided to get up early, get outside, and enjoy their day. (Ohio isn't blessed with many sunny days.) Columbus is a great city, however, and Jillian is within walking distance of just about anything she needs.

Aaron had left work (in Cleveland) Saturday night and drove down to spend the night with Annie, who lives in Columbus just a few blocks from Jillian. We all decided to meet for lunch. But first, Aaron and Annie drove to Jill's apartment. We were all hugging and talking at once when Aaron says, "Hey, Mama - look at Annie's watch I bought her for Christmas." So ... I'm looking at the watch, admiring it the way a mother should ... when all of a sudden ... I see it.

The ring.

My eyes must have popped out of my head. I look at both of my kids who are sitting on the couch. They're smiling ear-to-ear. I look at Annie who's sitting beside me. She's smiling and boy, does she have a beautiful smile. Then, I scream. "You did it!" It was a special moment.

My mind flew back in time. To the day Aaron was born. I remember thinking ... he's going to marry someday. I recalled his first steps, his first tooth, his first words, his first day of school, his first crush, his first field goal! His whole life flashed in front of my eyes. And suddenly, just like that ... in such a short time ... he's really getting married. Time went by ... so fast.

It's official. Aaron and Annie are engaged. A July 2008 wedding is in the works. They'll marry (in the Catholic church) in her hometown of Wooster, Ohio. Can I tell you, I'm thrilled? I'm thrilled. (Can you imagine my family at a Catholic wedding? It'll be a blast! All those holy rollers won't know when to stand and when to sit. I love it!)

Two years ago, my daughter, received her Masters Degree at The Ohio State University. She now works for the University. But within her program, she had met Annie. A dark, curly-headed beauty, from an Italian family in Wooster. Immediately, Jillian set about playing cupid. And the arrow stuck. Two years later, Aaron proposed. And from what I understand ... he did it proper. He picked out and bought the ring (a nice one, I might add) ... then, he took her parents to dinner (unbeknownst to Annie) to ask for their blessing. A few days later, on their 2-yr. dating anniversary, he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.

Annie was recently offered a teaching position at Walsh College. In a few weeks, she'll have her PhD. Aaron, spent four years in the Marine Corp. then went to college in Columbus, and now works for Continental Airlines. They are two very different people, and yet ... they are very much the same. The love I've watched blossom over the past two years, makes my heart swell.

It was also Aaron's birthday, so we took them to a nice dinner and celebrated. The picture is in front of the Columbus Fish Market Restaurant. I'm a proud mama this morning.

I'm very proud of all my kids. Chris and Nicole are having a baby in June, Aaron and Annie are engaged, and little Jilly ... she's working toward saving for her first home. They have fulfilled lives ... finally.

Michael and I are looking forward to the future. We've so much to be thankful for. It's been a long tough road for both of us. We've certainly had plenty of mountains to climb. And there may be a few more. Right now, I can only think of one.

I've got to fit into a great dress by next July. :-)

Congratulations, Annie and Aaron!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bluegrass Festival Of Books

We arrived at the University of Kentucky on Friday evening. An author reception at King Alumni House consisted of authors, Joseph Beth Booksellers, and press from the Lexington Herald-Leader. The newspaper, along with Joseph-Beth were sponsors of this fantastic Festival of Books.

But the moment I walked into the large Bluegrass Ballroom at the Lexington Center the next morning, I knew it would be a successful day. Each author was given a large space and a table. The anticipated crowd gathered outside before the doors opened. I would estimate an attendance of 3,000 or more folks came to see Paula Deen and the rest of us. There were several great sessions and workshops, but some authors only graced their tables part of the day. Or even an hour, depending on how "popular" they were. A few authors, I noticed, only sat at their tables long enough to get their pictures taken.

Me? I was there all day, baby. And guess what? I sold out. Just like at the Frankfort book festival, I ran out of books. Once again, Michael sprinted to the car and took books from our stash in the trunk. Hmmm. Seems to me Joseph-Beth underestimated this Southern Fried Woman. Not that I had lines of people waiting with baited breath to buy my book, but I did have a constant flow.

Over the course of the day, sitting there, talking to folks, getting to know them, having them get to know you ... you sell books. It's a process. It's not easy. You sit there, smiling, and waiting. Some come to the table, pick up the book, smile back, and then try to set it down so you're not offended that they're not buying it. Some outright say, "I'll pass." But then there's the women that come just to see you. They've circled your name in the program and make a beeline to your table. They came just to buy your book. Yet some mosey over, read the back and say "I'll be back." And the rest see my posters, their eyes light up, they read the back cover and exclaim, "I know my mama would love this!" Or "I want two!"

Anyway ... you get the picture. Writer's take note! I've said this before ... but, writing the book is the easy part. You need to have a great cover, a catchy title, and a personality to withstand months of getting out there in the public and handselling your book. One at a time.

The big draws, Paula Deen, Dorothea Benton Frank, and maybe a few others ... do help to gather a crowd. And one particular author, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka wrote a book about knitting. (I think it's really neat that women learn how to knit, but good grief, these women take it to the next level.) Stephanie didn't write a book of fiction, but still, the line for her books on knitting stretched around the room all day. I was amazed.

Gwen Hyman Rubio, author of Ivy Sparks, an Oprah Book Pick, sat behind me. Her husband was like Michael. Ever faithful C.E.O. Carry Everything Out. He sat next to her all day, assisting her. She had a busy table. I saw Silas House. Author of Coal Tatoo. Silas walked up to my booth and gave me a big ole' Carolina hug. Though he is a native Kentucky son, his books are well loved by folks in the Carolinas. We've traveled in some of the same book festival circles. What a great guy and an outstanding author.

One thing I did (unintentionally) that drew some folks. I decided that while I sat there all day, I would not waste any time but work on edits of my novel. I figured, when I had no customers at my table, my head would be in my work. You would not believe the questions. "Is that what a book looks like before it's a book?" "Wow, you really are an author, huh?" "Geez, that's so cool, a real manuscript."

I had to laugh. I was drawing folks in and didn't even know it.

Then, I heard from some lucky ticket-holders who sat in on the Paula Deen luncheon. They said the whole thing was like a cult-following. I can believe that. I too, love Paula. Some women wore hats with a big stick of butter on the top. I suppose if you've got a hook, like cooking or knitting, you'll have groupies.

But then, there's always those women who came ... just to see me. They want those stories that sing to their hearts. Now that, my friend, is a feeling of success. I can't tell you what that means to me, or how grand it feels. Because for every low, there is a high. And though we get weary and worn out traveling the countryside from one gig to the next ... it's what I've always wanted to do. Have folks read my stories. The miles on the car and on our bodies are small proof of that dream.

So today, I'll rest. Work on the novel and stay in my nightgown. I sold all my books. I'm soon to go into the third printing of Southern Fried Women. And I'm not even close to the place I want to be as a writer. But after a day of R&R, I'll hop back in the car and Michael and I will head to our next destination.

To speak and sell more stories that sing to hearts.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Killer In The Lecture Hall

I received my regular email today from Bella Stander - Writer, Speaker, Connector Book Promotion 101 - Workshops & Consulting for Authors. She also has a great blog: ReadingUnder the Covers. But I loved what she sent us today. For me, it said everything. Take a look.

The piece was written by Barbara Oakley, who attended Bella's DC workshop last weekend. It was published in today's NY Times: The Killer in the Lecture Hall.

I pray today for the healing of Virginia Tech and its people.

Highs And Lows

It's been a week of highs and lows. Our celebration of Jackie's life went well. Sitting around the table, there were a few good cleansing moments. The photo album got passed around and Michael read many things aloud about her that some had forgotten ... things she liked and didn't like. So we kept it light and we laughed too. It was a good thing we did. A tribute. I liked it, though I didn't have much to add. But it was wonderful listening to those who knew her.

If you have a loved one you want to remember, take some time and just sit around the table and talk about your family member. Share a meal, pass photos, read passages of their life, and share your own memories. It's a small thing, but a good thing to do.

Unfortunately, the work week can't shut down when you're going through something like this. And this week's been a particularly busy week. Tuesday, I spoke to a large group of mostly women volunteers and staff from Women's Hospital. Their appreciation banquet, held at a beautiful facility in town called, The Painted Plate. An attractive group of women, I must say.

It was also nice to see some of the familiar faces I'd once worked with at Moses Cone Hospital. Whew, that seems like such a long time ago. Women's and Mo Co Ho are under the same umbrella of health care system. Many of the pediatricians I worked with in my department went back and forth to Women's Hospital. But the speech went great, and once again ... I sold books. It's a very validating feeling.

Yesterday afternoon was the Spring Lunch for the High Point Literary League with guest author, John Hart. His book, The King of Lies is a bestseller. A native son, his first book has opened doors for him that will fast-track his career, for sure. I salute him and hope to follow in his footsteps. (Don't we all?)

I continue to work (day and night) on the novel. I just wish it was done. I whine about it a lot, it seems. But it's my own damn fault for writing such a long book. I feel like I'm walking through a maze sometimes. Stumbling around in the dark hoping to keep the right things in and take the right things out. Not all my editors agree and ultimately, it's my decision. I wonder if John Hart went through this?

I'm off to speak today at the Greensboro Country Club for the Wesley Long Hospital Volunteer's Appreciation Banquet. Tonight is my Writer's Group meeting and tomorrow morning we leave for the Bluegrass Festival of the Book in Lexington, KY. Ah, the life of an author.

So though the week has been filled with highs and lows, it's been an interesting one. Many times I'm asked, "Do you miss working at the hospitals?" I miss the folks I worked with sometimes, especially when I get to see them again, like this week. But I wouldn't go back ... not for a second. I'm doing what I was meant to do. I know that like I know my name. And that, my friend, is the ultimate high.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Tiny Light Still Shines

Ten years ago today, a little girl passed from one life ... to the next. A little girl with a long history of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. In a hospital in Philadelphia, this wisp of a tiny girl's body decided ... she'd had quite enough, thank you. She lifted her hand as her angel said, "C'mon sweetie, we've been waitin' for you. I'm gonna take ya to a place where you'll never hurt again." The angel smiled down at her. "Don't be afraid, your family will be along ... directly." So she did. And, frankly, that's where I believe she is now ... just hangin' out, havin' fun, learnin', and waitin' on the the rest of us.

To Jackie, that was just yesterday.

To her daddy, it was a lifetime ago. On Monday, I attempted to somehow console my husband, that this year ... the 10th anniversary of his daughter's death, we need to remember her. Out loud. She's still a member of this family, and let's bring some small amount of joy into this, by talking about her. Of course, I'm not sure how, exactly, to do that. I did not know this child. But I do know her father, mother, brother, and grandparents ... those she loved. I know how every year, they quietly remember her. She was a tiny light in their lives. How every year, though the pain may lessen, the memory never does. She was loved by all of them, deeply. I have felt their love for her every day since I've been with this family. So in a very small way ... I knew her, too.

I read my husband's journal yesterday. Here's an excerpt from March 15, 1997: 12:45 a.m. I leave the hospital to get a couple hours of sleep. I can't get out of the parking lot. No one is in the booth. I wait 10 minutes for someone to come out and take my money. Does it ever stop?

The journal of his days and nights, his constant vigil over his daughter, is heartbreaking. I could barely get through it. The entire nightmare of losing a child is something, I for one, cannot comprehend. Only those who have gone through it have the right to discuss it. Michael says, he will never be the same. I'm sure that's the case. But he's an amazing man. He brings light to his family every day. Michael has learned the art of covering his pain.

In the meantime, we will gather together. Those who knew her will bring their best memory of her, and we'll find joy in the darkness. She had a purpose for being here. I know she's touched my life. She will continue to be missed.

In Loving Memory
Jackie Cable
November 9, 1978 - April 17, 1997

Saturday, April 14, 2007

National Speaker Association/Carolinas

I'm inspired.

I just returned home from the National Speaker Association/Carolinas Seminar in Charlotte. A seasoned group, these members have been around the block a time or two in the their speaking careers. A fun group, our speaker today was Scott Ginsberg, He's "the guy with the name tag." In 2000, he decided to wear a name tag permanently ... take a look at why and where it's taken him. What a great speaker! Fantastic presentation. He talked a whole lot about blogging in terms of marketing ... thank you, Scott ... I shall remain a Southern Fried Woman blogger.

A memorable moment for me, Scott said something I must quote ... "Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness." How absolutely delicious is that?

Had a great lunch with Laura Hamilton, Kelly Swanson, and Kali Ferguson, as well as a whole host of other speakers. I asked Kelly about her gig to open for Loretta Lynn. What a kick-butt opportunity for Kelly! She relayed the event to eager listeners and then somehow, we got to talking about famous people. The question was asked, have we met any? One beautiful lady sitting next to us, had been to Pat Benetar's birthday party, met Steve Martin and a whole host of famous folk. Mainly, because she was dating a Hollywood actor at the time.

Then, Kali, pipes up. "I was in The Color Purple."

Kelly, Laura, and I just sat there with our mouths wide open catching flies. "What?"

"True. I was seven," she said. "I got to play with Whoopi Goldberg's cat." A beautiful grown woman now, Kali indicated that many folk from Charlotte were in the movie since it was filmed near there. Kali said, "Next time you watch the movie, I'm the last little girl to come around the outhouse when Mister throws Nettie out of his house." She told us all about her experience.

Since The Color Purple is one of my all-time favorite movies ... (you know that if you've been following my blog) I could've sat and talked to Kali the rest of the afternoon!

Besides hearing and learning valuable information to apply toward my speaking career, it was a great day of fun and food and fellowship. You can rest assured, our wheels are turning ...

Michael and I will return to future NSA/Carolinas events. No doubt about it.

Blessings to you and yours.
Pamela King Cable

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Day In The Life

An amazing thing happened to me this morning. I had to turn down work. There's not enough hours in the day. Their May 15th deadline was impossible for me to work with, and it killed me to turn this down ... but such is life. I can't work around the clock, which sometimes, is what I feel like I'm doing.

This week, I spoke at two different Rotary meetings. The first in North Durham, a great group and sold books again. I would love to speak to them in the future as they grow. Their members are diverse and extremely high energy. And I spoke to a Rotary this week, one I've been to before, but one I wanted to give a report as to my "love affair" with the Rotary for the past year. This little group was the first Rotary I ever spoke to. But they're not little any more. The Archdale Rotary has new members in their crowd and it was with great pleasure I was able to chat with them again. And yes I know the Governor of North Carolina is Mike Easley and not John Edwards! Sorry about that, Larry. Politically minded, I am not. But you can be sure I won't make that mistake again! Whew.

Tonight, I'm off to Charlotte for a state seminar of the National Speakers Association. Should be great and I'm looking forward to it. In the meantime, I'm still burning the midnight oil working on my novel. A day in the life of a writer is 24/7. Our brains never switch off. I used to think I worked hard when I was employed at the hospitals and later in Pediatric private practice. I remember wishing I had more time to do what I wanted. Now that I'm doing what I want to do, I've never worked so hard in my life.

A day in the life of a writer is varied, fulfilling, and often busier than a one-armed paper hanger.

But I'd never go back. Never.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oh Beautiful For Spacious Skies ...

God save me from politics! I can feel it coming ... the election. I steer clear of it as much as possible. But this morning it hit me that I should remind myself of the massive amount of serious problems in this country. Not that I can do a whole lot about them, but I can do one thing, I can VOTE.

I received the following email, and usually when I receive emails like this, I delete them. I simply don't have the time. But as I sat with my coffee, intrigued, I decided to click on the word America. Go ahead, do it here and turn up your speakers. It's narrated by John Wayne, one of my dad's favorite actors. They're spectacular photographs of our country and a pretty poem about America recited by Mr. Wayne. You've probably already seen similar emails like this. But go ahead, enjoy this one for a few minutes, then come back to my blog:

Take two minutes, watch and enjoy your goosebumps---- America Click on the word America, turn your speakers on, then sit back and enjoy.

After watching this, I sat thinking about my next door neighbor, who boldly proclaims to be a Christian. His church bus occasionally sits in his driveway. He goes to one of the holy roller churches here close-by. This family once had a flag pole erected in the middle of their front yard. A very large American flag flew from it daily. For the past year, since the pole broke, the pole and the American flag has been laying on the ground in their driveway! Are they stupid or just plain ignorant? I consider reporting them every day. The American flag is NEVER to touch the ground and these Christian people nearly drive their car over it each time they pull into the driveway!

So, yes, this little email did do something for me this morning. It got me to thinking that I need to report my next door neighbor. I am proud to be an American. Very. And no one, not even those who wear their Christianity like their best Sunday dress, should be allowed to disrespect the flag.

My son was a Marine. I have since become sensitive to patriotism. I do not agree with the war in the Iraq. If Bush could run again, I would not vote for him. (God help us.) My heart goes out to the mothers of the men overseas.

I think somebody should make another pretty video for the Internet. One with pictures of the slums of every major city in America. The poverty-stricken homes in Appalachia. The gulf shore still devastated by Katrina. The damage in Alaska already done by global warming. The border wall being built between Texas and Mexico. How about a picture of the mass of Americans, old and young alike, who can't afford HEALTH CARE! And a large photograph of our soldiers who need to be brought home.

Not a pretty picture is it? I'm a woman of faith. I am a proud American wife of a veteran, mother of a veteran, and daughter of a veteran. I will live and die in this country. But there are too many problems for me to get "goosebumps" over a bunch of pretty pictures someone puts on the Internet amidst the backdrop of John Wayne's poem and an orchestra playing America the Beautiful.

I say I'm not a politically-minded individual. But today, I'm just plain pissed off at our neighbors for allowing the American flag to rot on the ground in their driveway. I think today, I'll do something about it.

In the next election, I think we should try to VOTE for the least political person. And maybe we just all need to stop talking about our problems so much and roll up our sleeves.

Blessings to you an yours.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Is there a cutoff period when you quit worrying about your children? Is there a magical moment when a parent can become detached? Become a spectator, for lack of a better word, in the lives of their children and shrug, "It'll be okay, no worries."

When I was in my twenties, I stood in a doctor's office waiting for my son's pediatrician to tell me Aaron's rare case of the measles was just a “fluke.” I asked, "When do you stop worrying?" The nurse said, "When they get out of the house." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

After a bitter divorce when I was in my thirties, I sat at the hospital bedside of my teenage son who had decided (unbeknownst to me) to go hog wild on his first beer and alcohol binge. I listened to a police officer say he was headed for a career making license plates. But then, as if to read my mind, the cop also said, "Ah, don't worry, Ma'am. They all go through this stage and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy them." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime waiting for the phone to ring, for my son to call from boot camp and then the Marine Base. I lost sleep waiting for my daughter to call from The Ohio State University campus. I worried more than they ever knew. I worried because I couldn't help them as much as I wanted to. But I lived for their cars to pull into the driveway, the front door to open. “Mom! I’m home!” A friend said, "Don't worry, in a few years, you can stop worrying. They'll be full-grown adults." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

By the time I was fifty, I had developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome and several other stress-related illnesses. I was sick and tired of worry. I still worry over my children, but there's a new wrinkle. I finally realized, duh, there's nothing I can do about it. I began to simmer down, mostly because I had moved out of their state. I began to ease up on the worry.

My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing. Though the knot-in-the-stomach worry had certainly dissipated, I continued to anguish from time-to-time over their broken hearts, (especially after phone calls). I was still tormented by their frustrations and absorbed in their disappointments. My children, now both in their 30s, have said I can stop worrying. I don't call them as much, thinking no news is good news. I want to believe I don't have to worry so much any more, but I'm still haunted by my mother's warm smile.

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry? Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and the fears of the unknown? Is concern a curse or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of life?

I look forward to the day when one of my children says to me, "Where were you? I've been calling for 3 days, and no one answered. I was worried." I will smile a warm smile. The torch will have been passed.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Heartfelt Thank You To The Women Of The Outer Banks

Duck Woods Country Club ... sound hoity toity? Elegant and filled with charm, this Outer Banks Club overflowed yesterday with 100+ gracious women and were anything but hoity toity. I laughed and laughed all afternoon. They're a loving group that get together and do good things, like sponsor a scholarship for women in need. They also love to just relax and (here's a new one on me) do a thing called LUSH. Ladies United for Social Harmony ... L.U.S.H. ... In other words, it's just a big ole' happy hour. Love it. No rules. Just fun. How perfect is that!

I was their Guest Speaker yesterday for their Spring Conference. The moment I arrived I was offered a glass of wine and a hugs from members of the board and any woman who happened to be standing near me. Immediately, they wanted to buy books. So before the meeting even started, I had already sold 30 books! Just fantastic. But hold on ... there's more to this story ...

I was a little nervous. I wrote a new speech and decided to deliver it to this group. The reason I chose this group is because women are my true audience. Especially women over 35 or 40. Can I humbly say, it was a huge success! I got a ton of laughs ... which, for me ... made my week! I don't consider myself a humorist, or a comedian to any great degree ... so a room filled with laughter because of something I said, was definitely an honor and a wonderful gift. And then, a shock! A standing ovation. I was so moved and touched. I answered questions afterward, but then before I could even get in line to eat ... I was whisked off to the book table again ... a crowd had gathered to buy the book before I could get to the back of the room!

Of course, Michael was having a ball as he usually does taking money from beautiful women ... Once they heard me speak, those ladies holding off buying decided YES, I've got to have this gal's book! So I sold another 41 books in the afternoon! And come to find out, many of the women there had already bought the book when I spoke at the Outer Banks last November to a different group of business women. Some bought 2 and 3 at a time! Mother's Day presents, one lady even bought extra books for Christmas presents this year!

Thing is, the stories in Southern Fried Women do one simple thing with most women. They resonate. They stir memories that may have been dormant for years. And, they're heartwarming stories set in the South where so many of the women grew up.

Success? You bet your sweet bippie. Whatever a bippie is ... you can bet on it. It's times like these that makes me feel with every ounce of my fiber, this is what I was born to do. Write and speak. I'm good at this. It FITS me. It's an amazing thing when you finally realize you're living your dream.

Some days, the bones creak and the back hurts from sitting so long in my chair. My hormones play havoc with my body ... headaches and aches and pains in places I didn't know existed ... I work hours and hours on my novel, editing, rewriting, working on my book proposal, my query, my synopsis ... it's long and grueling stuff. And then I get a day like yesterday, where I see instant appreciation and love for my work, and all the pain goes right out the window. It's more than a shot in the arm! It's Botox for your self-esteem! Liposuction for your insecurity!

Thank you, ladies of the North Carolina Outer Banks! You've made this old gal's week! You've jolted my heart and made me realize exactly why I do what I do.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Play By The Rules!

Rules ... they're recorded on the inside of every Milton Bradly game box ever made. They're handed to us in thick notebooks as we start any new job. They're written by experts in every field ... every where.

I hate rules. Am I a nonconformist? A rebel? A troublemaker? A big mouth? A pain-in-the-ass?

Possibly. To some folk.

I like to think of myself as an entrepreneur. A visionary. A risk-taker. A leader among my peers.

Some in my family have called me Drama Queen or Miss Smarty Pants.

Possibly. Whatever.

I think to myself ... wouldn't you like to be like me for just one day? Have the guts to say what you think?

This week I'm avoiding some speaking rules. For so long, I've been giving speeches on coming out of the dark, uplifting speeches ... inspirational ... and yes, even motivational. And true, there's a certain amount of humor dispersed in every speech I give. But can I deliver a speech that will have the audience rolling on the floor? I've been told to keep my speeches as is. Don't deviate. It's not who you are. Stick with what works.

I'm about to try something new. This week I'm heading to the Outer Banks. A women's group that I've been feeling ... they want to laugh. And yet, I feel as though I cannot be true to myself, without adding in the heartfelt lines of so many of my other presentations that have moved some folks to tears or conjured images of their childhood. I love to touch hearts. Watch eyes light up.

So I'm going to mix it all up. Play by my own rules.

It's getting close to Mother's Day ... I think a humorous speech about "mother" is in order. But I've decided to try something different, a good mixture of humor and memories and message. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I think for me, playing by the rules never worked. As long as I don't hurt anybody (or at least try not to hurt anybody,) I've always played by my own rules. In just about every area of my life. And it's not that I can't "follow directions." It's not that at all. It's that I like to to get to where I want to go ... my own way. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But don't tell me I can't go that way. Don't tell me, the "rules" say you have to do it this way. Who makes this stuff up?

I know there has to be "procedures" for certain things in life. Surgery, for example. Thank God for that. And God knows the publishing industry has set enough guidelines and rules for writers to fill several dump trucks. And ... sometimes ... if you want to succeed to any great degree ... you got to follow the rules, no matter how obstinate you are or how stupid they seem. You do it because, you want to show you at least know how to play by the rules when you have to. You're not an ignoramous. You've got some class. And by God, you know how to get along with every Joe Schmo who makes the rules, even if you draw blood as you bite your tongue.

It's just that ... if I can do it my way ... I will. It don't make me a bad person. It just makes me a rule-bender. And sometimes a rule-breaker. It makes life interesting. Somehow, I think there's some folks out there that would agree.

Blessings to you and yours.