Tag Archives: writing

“P” is for Presence, Part 1

FullSizeRender[1]A few months ago a new business acquaintance told me that my business card gave a false impression of me. I was curious and frankly a little offended.  I’m rather attached to my business card.  It’s printed on high quality card stock, unique in that it’s a fold-over and on the inside it outlines the services I offer. What was this person saying? Was he saying I was not high quality and unique? Curiosity won over offense.

“Your card comes across as cool and professional,” he continued, gaining some points with me. “You are warm and approachable. Your card should reflect that.” Hmmm.

The presence we exude is critical to our success. Presence is a part of our brand.  To th-1paraphrase lyricist Shirley Bassey, our presence/brand should be obvious “the minute we walk in the joint…” and in this virtual world, oftentimes our presence is present even when we physically are not.

While how we physically present ourselves is huge, presence itself refers to so much more. Presence refers to how we:

  • communicate (verbally and non-verbally)
  • show up when we’re “googled”
  • interact with colleagues, clients and customers

th-2Many workplaces are far more casual than they were even five years ago. But what does that really mean? Look around at the folks who are respected in your organization. How do they act? They may be friendly and approachable, but chances are they are never inappropriate in their stories, dress, or behavior. Become aware of how they speak, the stories they tell and how they act. I was reminded of this while eavesdropping at my doctor’s office recently. From the exam room I could hear the banter and laughter of the clerks. I suddenly realized that never in all the years I’ve been a patient there have I heard the doctor or her nurse’s voice chime in. I’m sure they do not hold themselves aloof, but they stay professional when patients are present.

What presence do we reflect in our written word? It is not just about what we say but how we say it. What image of you does your written word send. One would think in this day of spell check, typos would be a relic of the past. Nope. While spell check is a blessing, it doesn’t know th-3the difference between there, they’re and their or to, two and too. Sadly, many of us do not either. Our written presence needs to communicate our best selves. Beware of the language and abbreviations used in texting. They send a wrong message when included in a business email or a written report.

Online? What impression do people get when they “google” you? And don’t think they don’t. The internet is pervasive and it never forgets.

So, did I do anything to change my business card? I did. I value the fact that I come across as approachable as well as professional. I would never want anyone to hesitate to contact me due to a “too formal” business card.

My strategy? I added my tag-line, Life is short…exceed expectations, to my business card in a warm hue of orange. It adds color in addition to sending a more approachable message. What do you think?

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“P” is for Presence, part 2 addresses enhancing your presence when presenting in front of a group. Looking at ease when presenting, be the audience two people or 200, is a critical skill.

 

 

The Stories Inside You:  Develop a Manuscript Idea in 45 Minutes or LessOswego

 A story lives inside you even as you read this. Whether we write for our own enjoyment or share our work with others, we sometimes fall into periods of fallow. We worry. Where has our creativity gone? What can we do to get the spark back?

The Stories Within You ignites the creative embers of writers at all levels. Through exercises adapted from the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Festival, participants will learn techniques to defeat writer’s block, develop a new scene with 5-10 possibilities for expansion, plus interact with others who write! Join us for this workshop and give your story life.

 When:             Saturday, November 8     9:30 – 11:30 am

Where:            First Presbyterian Church of Itasca      207 E. Center St., Itasca 

Facilitator:             Jerilyn Willin, speaker, published author, coach

 Cost:               $30.00 if paid by November 1  or  $35.00 at the door     (fee includes Jerilyn’s       book, Deep, Deeper, Deeper Still)

Register:       Jerilyn@speakerwritercoach.com or by phone 630-924-8362  

Career Strategies: B is for Behavior

“B” is for Behavior

chocolateLast fall, a friend and I decided to take a chocolate tour of Chicago. On the appointed day, we showed up at the Wrigley Building and began looking for our tour guide. We approached a woman who, while looking rather cross, also looked official. Was she connected with the chocolate tour, we asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “We’re waiting for a second guide. She’s late and I can’t take everyone.” Her tone matched her weary facial expression. She checked off our names and dismissed us by never making eye contact again. A few minutes later, the second guide arrived. Participants were asked to join one of the two women.

“I don’t want to go with crabby pants,” one young woman whispered to her friend. Others must have felt the same way, for much coaxing was needed to get the right number of people in the original guide’s group.

We often think of behavior as performance, but the two are not always the same thing. None of us knew the competence or experience of the “crabby” guide. Her knowledge of the seven chocolate shops we visited may have been stellar, but her behavior turned people off.

Behavior, as well as performance, affects the bottom line of any business. As writers anJerikd speakers, our behavior with readers/fans/meeting planners affects repeat business. What role does your behavior play in your success? Where do courtesy, respect, and professionalism to others with whom you interact fall on your radar?

Most people would probably find it easier to tell you what being unprofessional is, giving examples of unprofessional people they have dealt with in the past. However, it is much easier and more positive to know what to do than not to do.” Tash Hughes of Word Constructions.com goes on in her post Being A Professional to list a number of behaviors: apologizing, taking responsibility, being prepared for meetings, and accepting feedback to name a few. http://www.wordconstructions.com/articles/business/professional.html

For most of us, behaviors such as punctuality, keeping confidences, and being fair in constructive feedback are common sense. How did we learn them? Did we see them exhibited early in our careers? Did we learn them in school? In any case, professional behavior is essential to career success. It is our responsibility as individuals experienced in professional workplace behavior to pass this knowledge on to those who are new.

In this age of increased technology, new forms of bad behavior can be seen daily. How many of us have been in meetings where people are obviously texting one   texting another, or texting in general rather than participating in the discussion? How many folks neglect to turn off their phones (or at least put them on vibrate) during meetings or when a speaker is giving a presentation? The “pace of business” is a poor excuse for lack of courtesy/rude behavior.

In The Cost of Bad Behavior, author Christine Porath devotes an entire chapter to her work at Cisco Systems. I quote, “The company values interpersonal skills and mutual respect in its hiring, but when Porath helped Cisco calculate the impact of even occasional acts of incivility, it amounted to a hefty sum. If just 1 percent of employees experienced workplace$$$ incivility, she says, the cost of lost work time and employee departures would add up to almost $12 million a year.”

As speakers and writers it may be more difficult to quantify what is lost in repeat bookings or when readers don’t pick up our books because of a diva reputation. But the effect is there. Remember some years ago when a famous author was accused of plagiarizing the work of another? Her sales plummeted.

Professional, courteous behavior is a soft skill with hard consequences when it goes missing. Part of good behavior is being simply being present in the moment to what is happening, looking beyond the press of the buzzing phone.

A client recently told me of an experience he had while getting his haircut. While the stylist did a great job (he’d been going to her for years), he had been thinking about finding someone new as he felt invisible while sitting in her chair. “She was always talking to people other than me, occasionally answering her phone. I literally felt like an object. Last time I was there, it was amazing. She concentrated only on me. When her phone rang, she commented that voice mail would take care of it. She looked me in eye (through the mirror) as we chatted. It was a wonderful experience.” His stylist was always talented and when she added professionalism and courtesy to her services she retained a customer on the verge of leaving.

Take some time to become more aware of how you interact with others. Are you treating them as you would expect to be treated? Do others feel good after an interaction with you? Keep in mind, how people treat each other is often a reflection of how they are treated. It all begins with us.behavior

An Interview with Dyanne Davis

When I began this blog, one of my goals was to interview writers, published or unpublished, to introduce them to a new audience and to have my audience learn more about the world of writing. My interview with Dyanne Davis is the first author interview of this blog.

Dyanne’s debut novel, The Color of Trouble, was published in 1994. You can find her subsequent novels at amazon.com.

An Interview with Author Dyanne DavisDyanne Davis

Jerilyn (JW):  Dyanne, I am so honored to have you as my premiere author interview! We have known each other for quite a few years. What would you like readers of this blog to know about you?

Dyanne Davis (DD):  I am happily married for 43 years to my real life hero, Bill Davis.  Seriously, he saved me from drowning. . .but that’s another story. I am a former nurse. Bill and I have one son and we live in Bolingbrook.

In addition to writing, I host a local cable TV show out of Bolingbrook, Illinois. The Art of Writing has been on the air for seven years! Bill is my producer. I try to stick to guests who have written a book or who can share information about the world of writing, but my guests have been varied. I have introduced my TV audience to psychics, numerologists and anyone else that I decide it would be fun to talk to. More people than I imagine watch the show. Recently I ran into a former patient who told me she’s been watching me on TV.

JW:  Did you begin to write during your career as a nurse, or was writing a later passion?

DD:  I started reading when I was four years old and I suppose the bug began at that time.  I tried writing off and on without knowing the first thing about being prepared or realizing all writers receive rejections.

My husband Bill was an inspiration. He made a deal with me, take two years off my nursing career and give writing a real chance.  If nothing happened during that time I was to return to nursing.  No publisher wanted my work during that two-year period so at the end of it I told Bill I would return to work. His answer? “No, keep trying.”

One year later I had my first contract. Bill also encouraged me to keep writing after my first book came out. Initially I received praise and great reviews. Wise members of my RWA chapter, Windy City, warned me to be ready for the scathing ones because it goes with the territory. I’d never trolled the Internet or thought to write a bad review of a book I’d read. I didn’t know this was a common practice.  When it happened I was shocked and hurt. I’d never known people could be so personal and mean. That was it for me. Writing was history.

Once again Bill was my voice of reason, my hero and my love. It would take way too much space to tell you everything he said to me. Suffice it to say he kept me in the game. Along the way, I won an Emma award for Best New Author of the Year from Romance Slam Jam and a couple of other awards for the book.

JW:  Next time I see Bill, I’m going to have to give him a hug for having your back during the early days of your career!

You said in the beginning you were not “prepared”. Did you take some writing classes or how did you get prepared to actually write a book?

DD:  I don’t have a writing background but I have taken many writing courses and continue to take them.  My writing training came from my local RWA chapter, Windy City RWA. There I learned the nuts and bolts of romance writing.

JW:  RWA, or Romance Writers of America, is where I got most of my nuts and bolts writing training as well. We both belonged to the Windy City Chapter that meets in Naperville the second Wednesday of each month. It’s a fabulous resource for writers of any level. (www.windycityrwa.org)

For writers who do not have a “Bill” in their corner, what advice would you give to those just getting started with their first manuscript?

DD:  Hmm. To a totally brand new writer with their very first manuscript I’d say, “Finish the book before you ask anyone to read any parts of it”. Negative comments can sink your heart and your story for eons. Once the book is finished you can and should work to improve on it. At that point no remarks will stop you from the task of finishing. You’re already done.

JW:  It took me years to get my first manuscript published. What was your experience?

DD:  Now that’s a very difficult question to answer. Guess I would say all my life, considering I’d send things out in the past and wouldn’t write again for ten years. From the time Bill told me to give it a try it was three years. And it wasn’t my first manuscript. That one will never sell, nor will I self publish it.

I should say too, that I write under a couple names. I write paranormal under F.D. Davis.  I also write women’s fiction.

41C1YPOv80L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click-small,TopRight,12,-30_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-85,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_My most recent release, Giving It Up, has been doing very well. It was on the Amazon list of Top 100 at 14-15 and 44-47 depending on the keyword.  Look for it in the romance section.

JW:  Tell us a bit about Giving It Up.

DD: In Giving It Up, Taylor Jones and Michael Smith are doctors with control issues. Because of a secret Michael has kept hidden from Taylor he’s determined to micro manage her life to ensure she’ll be happy. As far as Taylor is concerned, Michael’s need for control coupled with the secret he continues to keep from her causes her to keep barriers around her heart. This one really is a contemporary romance, nothing paranormal leaked through.

JW:  Doctors with secrets! Sounds like you may have used your background as a nurse in this book.

Earlier you said your first completed manuscript was not published and that you would not be self-publishing it. I assume your current books in print were published through traditional publishing houses.

DD:  Yes, I am published through two traditional publishers. Between the two, I have 15 books in print.  My publisher and agent were acquired through the usual means: query letter, partial of three chapters, and then acceptance.

I no longer have an agent, though we remain friends and I love her.  I remain on very good terms with one publisher. The other…let’s say I no longer hate them.

JW:  Recently you have published independently. Why the change?

DD:  Deciding to self publish came about for several reasons. One of my traditional publishing houses was having problems as were a lot of other publishers at the time. We negotiated the return of the rights to my previously published books including two that had already been edited by my wonderful editor. Since the publisher was going to go POD (print on demand) and epub I figured I could do it myself.

The other publisher offered me a lousy contract for a new book. I had had several short stories published in a magazine and the rights were about ready to revert to me. I interviewed several big name authors who were self publishing. I joined a group of writers who were self-publishing and willing to answer questions.

There were many factors involved including how much of my own money was I willing to spend and how long was I willing to wait for a return. The decision wasn’t made lightly.

I’d like to tell you how I feel about self-publishing.  I love it. Preconceived ideas about the quality of work available are being put to the test everyday. The bias is receding. Does that mean I’ll never go the traditional route again? No. Do I think writers should just forget trying to get that publishing contract and going Indie? No. Having someone offer you a contract for something you’ve written is a dream and it’s not something I think a writer should give up on. I think writers can have it both ways though. For those books that are a bit more controversial or not exactly what ANY publisher is looking for I’d say go for it.  I am.

JW: We’ve talked a lot about publishing. What about your process when you write? Are you an outline writer or are you directed by your muse?

DD:  Each story calls for something different. I’m a write into the mist/by the seat of my pants type.  I never know how a story will progress or end or what voice it will require. The only thing I’m aware of going in is the idea of the beginning.  So I sit and begin writing and allow whatever point-of-view (POV) works to do the writing. If that changes while I’m writing I go with the flow. I love being surprised when I find out something in the story. I’m always going, “Wow, I didn’t know that.”  It makes the writing so much more fun for me.

I can’t write like writers I admire because my thought processes are not the same as theirs and the word choices would not be my “voice”. My voice reflects who I am. I write with a more conversational tone. I can be preachy so I’ve learned to be subtle. I found my voice when I accepted that I want my writing to change minds and hearts. I want my writing to be entertaining but also serve as a platform for tolerance.

God is a huge component in my life and without my planning it God has appeared in every single thing I’ve written. Initially it just happened. As I began taking note of it, I acknowledged the fact.  I don’t set out to give God a part. It just happens.

JW:  Having 15 books currently in print means you have some that have been out there for a while and then some, like Giving It Up new to the marketplace. What is your plan for marketing? What do you do to get sales?

DD:  Promoting is the hardest part for me. At this point in my career I have a following, Thank God. Mostly I put it out and hope they’ll find it.  Yeah, I know I need work in this department. I will post something on FB and make a mention on my website or on my blog. Occasionally I’ll do an ad or host a contest.

JW:  You mention a blog and a website. Where can we find you?

DD:  My websites are <www.dyannedavis.com> and < www.adamomega.com> Folks can visit my blog at http://dyannedavis.blogspot.com

JW: As we end this delightful conversation, would you be willing to share a taste of GivIng It Up with the readers?

DD:  Of course!

GIVING IT UP

Taylor moved up and down on his erection and a low moan slipped out of Michael.  His eyes clenched tightly. Resisting the urge to thrust upward, to just grab her buttocks and go at it hot and heavy he concentrated on not having an early climax.

“Your skin is so soft, Taylor. You taste delicious and you smell…Um…yummy.  I love your scent.  One day you’ll have to tell me what that tantalizing fragrance is.”

He trailed his hand along the ridge of her shoulder following with his lips, his tongue nipping her lightly, licking her skin in circular motions, sucking her tongue into his mouth, pulling her closer, holding her tighter but never ever taking control. “Ride me baby,” he offered, “ride me hard…or gently if you want.”

He’d helped her to delay her climax with talk and look at the thanks he’d gotten for it. Taylor was toying with him now. She was deliberately killing him. With one hand Michael braced himself while with the other he attempted to lift Taylor from him.

“Stop it, she scolded. It’s my turn to have control.”

Show mercy,” he whispered. “Taylor, you’re so not playing fair.”

“And you think the way you’re touching me is playing fair?”

But I was attempting to be helpful darling.”

How, by burning me up?”

He heard the delight in her and once again leaned into the hollow of her neck breathing in her essence, laving her repeatedly. His hands twisted in her hair and he held on as she slid down the length of him.

“This is my game,” Taylor reminded him. “I get to do what I want to you.”

With that she lowered herself all the way down over his erection, grinding her pelvis, not allowing him to break their connection. She wrapped her legs around his back and held on tilting her head downwards. Her pelvis tilted also giving just the angle she was looking for. Michael was touching her just where he knew she wanted it most and… yes, oh yes, she was coming.

“Michael, please.”

Instead of answering her Michael quickly reversed positions. His flesh throbbed and jerked, delighted to be buried inside her creamy wetness. With a groan of satisfaction Michael pushed into Taylor while bringing her hips forward to meet his thrust. He couldn’t go deep enough into her body. She was circling him with her tightness making him want to come with each stroke. But that would be selfish. He was thrusting into her without mercy, faster and faster and… “Yes, yes, that it’s baby. Oh, that’s it,” he groaned as she ground her pelvis into his. It was time for him to give them both the relief they sought. Taylor was moaning. “I’m going to come. I’m…”

The insistent shrilling of the phone pulled Michael from his dream. Damn. Barely opening his eyes he glanced over at the clock and noted the time. 3 A.M.  Who the heck could be calling him at this ghastly hour? He wasn’t on call and could not think of a single patient who needed him. He thought to ignore the still ringing phone, but the idea that it might be urgent worked its way into his mind. What if Taylor needed him?

With that thought, he snatched the phone from its cradle not masking the gruffness of his voice. If it wasn’t Taylor, wasn’t an absolute emergency, he wanted the caller to be aware they’d awakened him.

“Michael,” Beth’s voice purred through the lines.

“Where the hell are you?” Michael asked, and then followed with: “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I thought maybe instead of continually telling you and Taylor to check the time before you pick up a phone to call me; I’d show you what I meant.”

If he weren’t feeling so annoyed, Beth’s voice would have brought him amusement. After all, she was one of his closest friends. And she had a point.