Monday, June 30, 2008

Who Are You?

In life, we often wear masks. As a speaker I heard this weekend said, there's Who we are, Who we THINK we are, Who we pretend to be, and Who others think we are.

In novels, this is also true for the characters we create. And often it is the differences in those 4 images that generates plot. If you're a writer and you're stuck planning out a story, a useful exercise might be to write down for each major character the answer to those four categories.

By the same token, in real life, it can be useful to look at those four categories about ourselves. Looking at the discrepancies might give us insight into what might be causing problems and how maybe, just maybe, we can address the issues and resolve some of them. It's not for the faint of heart, of course, but the results can be very powerful.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Online Public Speaking Class

If you've taken any of my online classes or ever heard me speak, then you know that my goal is to always make material easy, intuitive and fun. I'm about to offer a class on public speaking for writers (though anyone might find it useful). Lessons will be short, easy to follow, and give you real tools to be effective as a speaker and maybe even have fun doing so. I'll talk about pitching to an editor/agent, giving workshops or other presentations, handling interviews with print reporters as well as on radio and television.

Here's the information. The class is being offered through the Outreach chapter of RWA so you'll need to use the link to their website if you are interested in signing up!

TITLE: Public Speaking for Writers
DATE: July 7 – July 18, 2008
INSTRUCTOR: April Kihlstrom
LEVEL: Beginner to Advanced
COST: $10 Outreach Member/Others $20
Deadline to receive application and payment: July 5, 2008

Course Description:
Does public speaking make your stomach clench and your skin go cold? Do you panic at the thought? This 2 week online course will show you simple techniques to make anyone a more relaxed and effective speaker.

Topics will include handling interviews, offering pitches at conferences and presenting workshops. Everything from creating content for an effective presentation to how to dress to handling those pesky physiological responses will be covered.

By the end of this class, you'll be able to enjoy getting up in front of a crowd—or at least know you'll be okay.

April Kihlstrom is the author of 31 published romance novels. She has achieved the rank of ATM Bronze in Toastmasters, won speaking contests, taught public speaking in California, been interviewed on television and presented highly acclaimed workshops at both national and regional conferences.

To sign up, please go to Outreach International Online Campus. Click on current classes then look at July to find mine.

I hope you will consider signing up for this course--especially if public speaking in any way intimidates you. It doesn't have to! As I said above, my goal will be to make this fun, easy and intuitive.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Today, of course, I find myself thinking about fathers and I came up with a list of some of the qualities of a good father (or mother, for that matter...)--whether in fiction or in real life:

1)Sees and nurtures the best in the child—and helps the child build on those strengths.

2)Encourages the child to believe in him or herself.

3)Loves deeply and gives of himself AND sets good limits on the child's behavior.

4)Helps out the child whenever it's a good idea AND knows when to step back and allow the child to discover what he or she can do on his/her own.

5)Admits mistakes and knows how to apologize.

6)Cheers on a child's success AND knows that surviving failure can be just as important and sometimes more so and helps the child know that failure is NOT the end of the world but only a beginning to the next steps forward.

7)Teaches the child financial responsibility, how to handle credit and the value of deferred gratification.

8)Reads and reads to his child and encourages a love of learning—whether book learning or life skills.

9)Encourages a child to be true to him or herself AND to think about others as well.

10)Sets an example of moderation in all things.

11)Is willing to be silly and play like a child.

12)Is willing to be a grownup and make the hard decisions when that's what's called for.

13)Cares enough to set limits and hold to them.

14)Shows the child how to be as safe as possible in a sometimes uncertain world AND encourages that child to LIVE, really LIVE even if that sometimes entails risks.

15)Understands that the harm a parent does goes far deeper than any harm anyone else can do and the good goes deeper as well--and he chooses to do the good.

I have known some wonderful men in my life. I am profoundly grateful to those men who helped me feel safe or helped me to grow to become the person I am now. Some of those men have done both. Some have been friends or married to friends and it was/is a joy to watch how loving some relationships can be.

Today I honor all those men who have been truly loving fathers—or tried their best to be.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Sewing and Life

I'm probably late posting again. That's because I've been sewing. My daughter is going to a friend's wedding and I've been making a dress for her to take with her. She is so beautiful these days and the dress looks so lovely on her.'s finally done.

As I was sewing, I found myself thinking that just as with writing, asking the right questions beforehand can save one a lot of grief when sewing. Questions like:

What will she wear this for?
What will the climate be?
What is her personal style?
What colors look best on her?
What fabric drapes well for the kind of dress I want to make for her?
What's the optimal strategy for THIS pattern with THIS material?
And when the unexpected happened—as it always does, whether in sewing or writing or life—what's the optimal way to address THIS challenge?

The upshot is that my daughter now has a dress she says is the nicest thing she's ever owned. She's thrilled, she looks great in it, it should be perfect for the climate and situation.

You'll notice that most of the questions are about what was right for HER. And that's the key. We're all different, our situations, emotional states, etc. are unique to who we are. If we start with what's right for us and go from there, we have the best chance of figuring out something that will work effectively in any situation—sewing, writing or life. (Note: This doesn't mean being utterly selfish! If relationships are important to us, then that goes into the equation, too..... And if we begin with knowing ourselves and what's right for us, then we're more likely to find ways we can stretch in new directions and be able to help others, too.)