I read somewhere that fear of public speaking is the most common fear–more people are afraid of public speaking than of dying! That’s sort of crazy but that’s what I read. Whether it’s true or not, I’m not sure but what is true is that lots of people hate the thought of public speaking. That certainly was true in my case.

When my first book was published I discovered that public speaking is part of being an author. YIKES! Not a good thing as far as I was concerned. After a few miserable attempts–at least miserable on my part–the audience seemed to enjoy the experience, I came to a conclusion. If I was going to be an author I had to learn to deal with public speaking in a calmer, less stressful way.  Or quit writing books. And since I loved writing stories, I had to figure out a way to overcome my fear so I did. Here are 3 things I did to overcome the fear of public speaking.

  1. BE PREPARED. Have a plan. I developed a few different themes to talk about and then wrote out the actual speech, then I would read it and read it again–several times. Sometimes I would actually take a binder up with me and use it to keep me on track. As I became more comfortable, I moved to index cards with the main ideas.
  2. TRUST YOUR AUDIENCE. The audience is not your enemy! They aren’t waiting for you to make a mistake so they can attack you. They came to hear you. They’re on your side. One thing I started telling my audience is that I didn’t like public speaking so to be patient with me if I fumbled the ball a bit now and then. Then if I made a mistake, I’d remind them I’m a writer not a speaker. That usually got a few chuckles and relaxed me and the audience.
  3. IT’S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE. Even though my day job was a speech pathologist (therapist), I also considered myself a teacher. And what does a teacher do? They talk and talk and talk. At some point when I was panicking about my next public speaking event, I asked myself, ‘What am I so worried about? I’m a teacher and talking is part of what I do every day.’ After that I started thinking about my speaking events as a teaching event and that made all the difference for me. You may not be a teacher but I’m sure there’s a different way for everyone to look at the speaking event so that you can be more comfortable having to do it.

So after reading this wonderful advice, you may have the idea that I do public speaking all the time, right? Wrong. I had become much more comfortable and was expanding my speaking engagements when I was diagnosed with my brain tumors. After having to cancel two major speaking events because of my physical health, I stopped booking speaking events but… I’m feeling so much better now, I might just give it a whirl again.

YOUR TURN: What tips can you share about public speaking?





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I’ve been writing for a lot of years. One thing I’ve noticed is a lot of the “rules” that make up good writing works for life as well! That’s what Writerly Wisdom is all about. This week:


One of the rules of writing is to keep the story moving forward. Back story is anything that’s happened to the characters before the story actually starts. Writers love back story. And, in fact, we need to know some of the characters defining moments to understand why the character reacts in a certain way in the present story.

But too much back story bogs things down.

Life is the same way. If we get too focused on our past, we aren’t moving forward. And moving forward is what we should be doing. The interesting this is that whether we’re focusing on the good or bad things in our past, it keeps us from moving forward.

For example:  The star high school quarterback who relieves his glory days over and over isn’t moving forward. He’s stuck in the past instead of living in the future.

Another: The victim in an abusive marriage relieves the horror over and over. And that makes her afraid to get involved with anyone else–ever again.

Neither of those situations are good. Just as a story should keep moving forward, so should we.

What’s stopping you from moving forward?



Are You Ready To Play In The Super Bowl?

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Who doesn’t want to be a champion, especially on this Super Bowl Sunday, right?

My preacher had a great sermon today so I thought I’d share the highlights. So thanks, Tom, for inspiring this post. He entitled it SUPER BOWL CHRISTIANS. Don’t you love the title and wouldn’t we all love to be a Super Bowl Christian. Being a Super Bowl Christian might mean different things to different people but there’s a few things we all need to do if we want to become one.

DESIRE: You can’t win the game if you don’t care about it. Psalm 42: 1 says, As the deer pants for the streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God”  To be a Super Bowl Christian, we should desire a relationship with God above all else. 

DISCIPLINE: To be all that we can be, we must endure a little discipline in life, sometimes self-displine but also from others. (Just ask the Army!) Discipline is not a bad thing. Hebrews 12: 7 tells us,  “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father.” To be a Super Bowl Christian, we must accept and learn from the discipline, not be made angry, frustrated, or bitter.

DETERMINATION: This step is about focus and commitment. Lots of people start lots of things every day, but it takes determination to finish. Proverbs 24: 16 says it all, “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.”  To be a Super Bowl Christian, you’ve got to get back in the game no matter how many times you fall.

DENIAL: This is a painful one–because it’s about self-denial.Something we’re not very good at these days. We want what we want when we want it, and we don’t want to sacrifice anything to get it. .Paul tells us in Romans 12: 1, ” Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”   Each time we make a sacrifice as we run our race, we move a little closer to the goal line. To be a Super Bowl Christian, you must be willing to sacrifce.

DISTINCTION If we follow the other four steps to the best of our ability, then we will have completed the race we were given to run. We will live a life of excellence, a life pleasing to God. As Paul said in Phillipians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”. And we, too, can say we are a Super Bowl Christian.

Can you even begin to imagine what your life might be like if you practice these four steps consistently and to the best of your ability in your writing life as well (or whatever dream you are pursuing)?

You might start that story you’ve been wanting to write.

You might finish that story that’s been sitting dormant for so long.

You might edit, revise, and polish so that it’s ready to submit.

And you might just obtain that illusive goal of being a published writer.

Now that I’m published I still want to write the best story I can. My writing is my ministry, and because of that I want to do it as well as I can. To be a Super Bowl Champion means to live the life of excellence God calls each of us to live.

Any other ideas what we need to do to live a life of excellence?


Writerly Wisdom–It’s all about the story!


One of the things I had to learn as a new writer was to stay focused on the story–not all the insignificant details that didn’t matter and had nothing to do with the story. When I first started writing, I’d show my character getting up; getting ready for the day; even what they ate for breakfast; and move them through each facet of their day.

Somewhere along the way something exciting would happen that would be about the real story. But it took a lot of energy and writing to get there. Boring!

It’s all about the story–whether you’re talking about a novel or life!

So what does that bit of writerly wisdom have to do with real life?

A lot. Sometimes we forget what our focus (our story) is. Instead, we get caught up in all sorts of insignificant activities that have nothing to do with the story we want to create for ourselves. Details that distract us from creating the best story we can.

Sometimes these details can actually derail us from the real story. Not good. In other words, stay focused on the story!

If you want to graduate from college, stay focused on the academics–not the partying.

If you want to get married and have children, then date people who have the same idea.

Yes, we need details in our stories to make them come alive(and in our life), just don’t let the details take over so that you stop focusing on the story. Because after all, it’s all about the story!


Writerly Wisdom–Take A Break!


It’s Wednesday so that means time for another bit of Writerly Wisdom. And it’s the last Wednesday of the year! I don’t know about you but that’s a bit of a shock. I don’t know where the time went. Anyway, it being the last day of the year, I thought this would be great advice:


Wise writers know that taking a break from your writing from time to time can do wonders for the story.  Something magical happens when we take a break. As I focus on other things, little gems wander into my mind that will improve the story.  Sometimes, even clarify what the real story is–not the plot but the spiritual truth of the story.

This holds true in life as well. Most of us are way too over committed to all sorts of things. Our family, our careers, our community, our church. We’re so busy running around and doing that our mind goes on overload. And just as a washing machine malfunctions when it’s overloaded, the same can happen with out minds.

That’s when it’s time to TAKE A BREAK.

Relax, Rejuvenate, and Remember what life is really about.

That’s it for this year! Wishing you a happy and blessed 2015!





I’ve learned a lot about writing during the past twenty years, and a lot of it can be applied to life. That’s what WRITERLY WISDOM is all about.

So, this is actually THE FIRST RULE of writing. There are many things to learn about writing but if you don’t master this one…well, let’s just say the book won’t be as good as it could be.

As a writer, SHOW DON’T TELL means that you don’t tell about the event but you use your words to paint a picture so that the reader is transported into your story.

For example, this is telling: Her wedding was just the way she’d always dreamed it would be.

This is showing:  Marcy gave her niece the signal, a tap on the shoulder. The four-year-old’s little pink dress swished as she made her way down the aisle throwing rose petals as she went. When she saw her mother, she threw her a kiss. 

Marcy straightened out the pearl-laden bodice on her gown, then smiled up at her father. “Are you ready?”

He patted her cheek. “Me? Are you ready? Is this what you want?”

“What do you think? It’s the only think I’ve wanted since I met him when I was twelve.”

He hugged her. “Then lets get this show on the road.”

They stepped forward in unison.


So that’s what SHOW DON’T TELL means when you’re writing. But in life, it takes on a different meaning.

In life we do a lot of talking, especially to our children. We’re always telling them what they should do, what they shouldn’t do, the right thing versus the wrong. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, we should tell them that but more than telling them, we should SHOW them.

In other words, actions speak louder than words!

Don’t tell your kids to be kind, show them.

Don’t tell your kids to be honest, show them.

Don’t tell your kids to live a a life of excellence, show them.

So get out there and SHOW DON’T TELL.

Was there a time when words weren’t as important as actions? Tell us about it!