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Archive for December 15th, 2014

The Power of Words

I recently had an interesting conversation with a new author acquaintance about the power of words. I took from it two important lessons – one about being kind with our own words, the other about not letting others’ words get in our heads.

This author wrote a historical fiction trilogy in the early 80s, which went on to some modest success, including dont speakwinning a few minor awards. Published by a small Canadian press, he had the opportunity to meet with a couple agents from one of the larger houses with international reach. “Over lunch, one of the agents said something that affected my life for the next 20 years,” he explained. “If you were someone, we’d publish you in a heartbeat.”

Translation: “You’re not famous or important or impressive enough for us to take a risk on you, so we’ll pass. But buck up, old chap. Your books are really good.”

The man explained that he went back to work as a CPA, put his head down, and didn’t write another word for more than two decades. Wow – those are some powerful words. You hear about this all the time: parents, teachers, and other adults who burst children’s dreams, often behind the excuse of “helping them face reality.”

And how often do the rest of us say similar things, usually speaking the first thing that comes into our minds, rather than stopping, considering for a moment, and saying the thing that might be the most useful or helpful? It’s called a filter. Some of us have stronger, better developed filters; others just go with the first thing that pops into our heads – kind, cruel, whatever. If they can’t take the feedback, they shouldn’t share their news with me in the first place.

Why is the negative or critical thought so often our first comment? I’m sure there are many pysch studies to explain the phenomenon – but I think it probably has to do with two things: (1) it’s human nature to try to make ourselves feel better by bringing others – even close friends, our children, our spouses – down a peg, and (2) we’re lazy and sloppy and don’t stop to think before we speak. Ultimately, I believe it’s a bad habit that can be unlearned and replaced with a kinder, more thoughtful one.

So here’s lesson two. Why do we allow ourselves to be so detrimentally affected by others’ words in the first place? Now I can understand a child who grows up with damaged parents who constantly harp on the kid or tell him that he’s stupid or his dreams are stupid or he’ll never amount to anything. That’s some deep karmic energy that’ll likely warrant therapy, hypnosis, and/or lots of reprogramming and rebuilding of self-esteem.

doubt our power

But what about those toss-off phrases, like “If you were someone, we’d publish you in a heartbeat”? Why do we give such power to another person’s negative comments, letting them get inside our heads and literally affect the course of our lives? Why do we doubt our own power? Why do we let others’ words, rather than our own thoughts and self-talk, become the mantra we embrace? Why do we live our lives according to others’ expectations of us, instead of our own? And, most importantly, why do we let others’ expectations of us become our own?

Toss-off comments can also be supportive, but you don’t hear too much about those. Let me share two examples. My sixth grade teacher at St. Agnes Catholic School in Phoenix, Sr. Laurian, told me I had great capacity for words and would someday make writing my life’s work. I took a circuitous path to get here – and yet here I am. Being told you’re good at something when you’re 11 years old sure is validating and gives you plenty of incentive to keep getting better at it.

Then there was time the immigrant farm-worker father of my client introduced her to Cesar Chavez, telling the labor leader, “She will be the next secretary for the United Farm Workers union.”

“No,” Chavez said. “She will become a lawyer who fights for our rights.”

It took her a long time to get there, and she had to fight for every degree and promotion, but my client is now a very well-respected immigration attorney. She was two years old when she met Cesar Chavez, but a toss-off comment from him emblazoned itself on her father’s heart, and he went to every length possible to see her become the amazing advocate she is today.

Ultimately, words have whatever power we give them. But it’s essential that we choose them carefully – for you never know where someone else is in the process of developing a thick skin and the ability to let your words roll off, in the event you are inadvertently (or deliberately) incautious, callous, or just plain lazy.

Here’s to the power of words!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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2015 is RIGHT around the corner — are  you READY? If you haven’t begun 2015 Goalsmapping out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

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Day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Contest – “Magnolias of Sutherland Creek” by E.C. Briefield

Hello, book lovers!

Today is Day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Contest. A few of the talented authors from the the magnoliasPhoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup are giving away one book a day until December 24th. Today’s book is The Magnolias of Sutherland Creek, by E.C. Brierfield.

In 1905 Louisiana, 5-year-old Jonas watches the lynching of his great-grandfather William, a freed slave. The trauma renders Jonas mute for the next decade, until his innate ability to play the piano manifests. Jonas, a musical prodigy, succeeds despite prejudice and drug addiction. Hidden in Jonas’s past is an interracial affair that led to murder. That secret threatens his career, fame, and fortune. The solution to his predicament lies within the walls of his newly acquired mansion, but will the spirit living there allow it? Learn more: E.C. Brierfield.

To enter this contest, USE THIS LINK to head over to Rafflecopter, read the 6 different ways you can enter to win this book, and enter as many ways as you like! You may enter once per method per email address, unless otherwise specified.

This contest runs from 12 a.m. PST on 12/15/14 to 12 a.m. PST on 12/16/14. The winner will be posted on the official contest page as soon as his or her name is drawn.

The rest of the books you could win in the 12 Days of Christmas Book Giveaway are:

DAY 4 (Tuesday, 12/16)
“Arrowstar” by C.K. Thomas

DAY 5 (Wednesday, 12/17)
“The Zoo” by R. Lee Fleming

DAY 6 (Thursday, 12/18)
“Doorways to Daily Soul Nurturance” by Cristina Whitehawk

DAY 7 (Friday, 12/19)
“Guide to Free Arizona Family History Research” by Diana DeLugan

DAY 8 (Saturday, 12/20)
“Lonnie the Loon Learns to Fly” by Barbara Renner

DAY 9 (Sunday, 12/21)
“The Cactus Caucus” by Steve Meissner

DAY 10 (Monday, 12/22)
“Parenting … A Work in Progress” by Ellen L. Buikema

DAY 11 (Tuesday, 12/23)
“The Audacious Ladies of La Gran Sorellanza” by K-lee Starland

DAY 12 (Wednesday, 12/24)
“Practical Philanthropy” by Laura Orsini

We’ll also have BONUS Christmas Day drawing for the book of your choice from the 12 participating authors!

Have fun  and may the best readers win!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

2015 is RIGHT around the corner — are  you READY? If you haven’t begun 2015 Goalsmapping out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

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