An Author's Talk Should Expand her Book

For me, speaking requests seem to run in cycles. After a dry spell, I'll receive a flurry of requests to speak. I've seen authors talk about their books on television, heard authors speak in person, and these experiences taught me something. I've decided my talks will never be a rehash of a book. Recently I heard an author talk about his book and, at the end, I felt like I had listened to a commercial. This isn't what people want or need. Everyone is busy these days, and busy people want reliable information and they want it quickly. If the information is interesting or humorous or both, so much the better. I've had some training on how to speak on radio and my instructor advised me never to use the phrase, "in the book." Instead, he said I should say the title several times so audience members could remember it. I've followed his advice.

I've also followed my own advice. My book talks expand on a point, add new stories, or updates on research findings. Many authors have computer presentations to go with their talks, but I just talk. Since technology has failed me several times, I avoid it, and have handouts instead. Speaking is easier for me without a PowerPoint presentation. Plus, several people have told me they're sick of them. When I'm asked to speak, I give the organization or church group a list of titles to choose from, including:

* What can You Say to Someone Who is Grieving? * Affirmation-Writing: Boosting Yourself and Your Life with Words * Affirmation-Writing in the Workplace * An Inside Look at a Freelancer's Life * Writing to Recover from Loss and Grief: You can do It!

Is your group looking for a speaker? If so, please contact me. My motto: Have talks, will travel!

What can you Say to Someone who is Grieving?

The massacre in Aurora, Colorado brings up the age-old question, "What can you say to someone who is grievng?" After losing four family members in 2007, including my daughter and brother, I have some suggestions. After losing my mother, father, aunts, uncles, cousins, and beloved dogs, I have more suggestions. One of the things you shouldn't say is "I don't know what to say." The simplest words to say are "I'm so sorry." You may talk about your happy memories of the deceased. Please avoid comments such as:* It's probably for the best. * He (or she) is in a better place. * Life goes on. * Time heals all wounds. * You're still young and will find someone else. A better approach is to say things that encourage the bereaved to speak their loved one's name and share recollections. For example, you may ask about their loved one's talents, the ones people knew about and ones people didn't know about. If you offer to help the bereaved person, be specific. "I'm going grocery shopping tomorrow morning. Give me your list. I'll shop for you and deliver you grocers at _______ o'clock." Whatever you say, choose words that show caring, and give the bereaved person a heartfelt hug.

Writing About Grief: Getting Your Book Published

Putting thoughts about grief into words is one of the best ways to help yourself. Seeing words on paper can be a reality check. As time passes, issues emerge and, thankfully, so do solutions. You may also memorialize a beloved child or familiy member. I've spoken at two bereavement conferences and many of the people I met had written books. Of course, they wanted to see their books in print. This is a challenge at any time, but it's a huge challenge in a sagging economy. Basically, you have two choices, to submit your book to a publisher or publishers when the economy turns around, or choose self-publishing. Self-publishing used to be considered vanity publishing. No more. Good books are being written in a bad economy. New authors are going straight to the Kindle or Nook. Experienced and new authors are turning to the many self-publishing companies that have been established. These companies produce quality books. Do you want to see your book published? Make it happen.

Benefits of Taking a Break

Last week I took a break from my daily life and attended a college reunion in Boston, MA. It was my 55th reunion and my class was well represented. Catching up on news was really fun, more fun than I anticipated. Though the weather was uncooperative (it rained for four days straight), my husband and I still had a good time. We visited historic sights, feasted on "chowda" and walked the same streets we walked when we were courting. I came home refreshed and eager to get back to my routine. When I say I took a break, I mean a real break, without my computer or iPad. Yes, I missed emails and article writing, but the missing was good and gave me more thinking time. Have you taken a break recently? What benefits did you reap?

Do You Recognize the Anticipatory Grief in Your Life?

Yesterday I spoke to a Kiwanis club about anticipatory grief. Some people at my table had experienced post-death grief, but they had never heard of anticipatory grief. To give club members something to refer to later, I gave them handouts with anticipatory grief question and answers. Anticipatory grief is a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event happens. If your child was born with a heart defect, you probably experienced anticipatory grief. If your spouse was diagnosed with Alzheimer's you have experienced anticipatory grief. If the rumor mill at work says people are going to be "downsized" you experienced anticipatory grief. How can you help yourself? You may learn more about this type of grief, journal regularly (this helps more than I can say!) and take care of your health. Adding quiet time to each day is also helpful. Everyone goes through anticipatory grief and one of the best things you can do for yourself is to be aware of it.

The Apple Tree and Hope of Spring

Two weeks ago, the apple tree in my back yard awakened from winter. If I looked closely, I could see tiny specks of green on the branches. In only a day, these specks had turned into tiny leaves. Hours later, the leaves started to get larger and the tree looked like it was covered with green lace. Now I see white dots amidst the leaves, blossoms that are going to flower at any moment. Seeing the apple tree come to life again gives me hope after a five years of grieving. If we let it, nature can help us to heal. Nature is always changing and so are we. After a long period of grief, self-examination and acceptance, we, too, may flower again and create new lives for ourselves. I am living that life now and, to my astonishment, I am happy. May you find happiness as well.