Monthly Archives: August 2013

Public Speaking

How comfortable are you with public speaking?

After much thought, I joined Toastmasters International — a public speaking training program with chapters all over the world. A friend belonged to the club years ago, and she’s been raving about it ever since.

I wouldn’t necessarily say public speaking is my strength. I don’t mind speaking in front of people — small groups of friends, if possible. 

Toastmasters goes beyond that. A speech is judged (in friendly terms), there is a grammarian present, a table topics section of the meeting where each speaker is asked a question and is required to give a two-minute answer (speech). And the table topics section is separate from the main speech — a warm-up exercise.

There are evaluators, and a vote at the end (best speaker, best evaluator). But the main objective is to become comfortable speaking in front of complete strangers. To grow. There are district-wide competitions (those usually center on inspirational speeches), state-wide, national and even international. This year, the international contest takes place in Malaysia.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I’m new.  Last week I delivered my first speech, appropriately titled The Icebreaker. An easy one, according to the members, since all you have to do is talk about yourself.

And that’s what I did for nearly six minutes (one gets timed, by the way). Everyone was nice and congratulatory at the end. But I’m just glad I got through it without turning into a mannequin on stage — there’s no podium, the speaker must use the whole stage.

We meet twice a month, and so far so good. My next speech will be about inspiration, and I think I can so totally talk about that.

So, how comfortable are you with public speaking?

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Image: the bizzybuzz.com

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Writing and Personality

UnknownGo out and enjoy the weather, part of me says — the fun-loving Part One.

Nope, finish writing the story, Part Two insists — the nagging part. And after you finish, revise the chapter you wrote last week, edit until you wipe your eyes clean, then edit some more. When you’re done, go back to writing the story you’ve been thinking about last month.

Shut up, nag.

But no luck. Part Two wins. Most of the time. For such a subordinate part (two comes after one, didn’t I tell it?), it sure knows how to assert itself.

And while Part One mentions exercise and sunshine, Part Two is rude enough to wake me from my sleep, keep me thinking and visualizing.

Really? Make an appointment.

I give in so easily. It’s not even a matter of making time for writing — not anymore. I steal time from other projects, from chores, even some obligations. Or I simply delay said duties.  Because the nag insists in such vigorous fashion.  

I so understand Philip Roth:

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”

 And Ray Bradbury:

 “I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.”

And George Orwell:

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

Yikes.  … some demon one can neither resist nor understand.

Sounds serious, grave even. If you know a way out, please do share. 

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Image: Verdé – Original Acrylic on Canvas – Art Deco Painting by Tara H.

Death in a Red Canvas Chair

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I met Noelle Granger this past April during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. We became instant friends, and took to email to discuss our reading and writing.

Soon, I learned that like me, Noelle writes mysteries. Naturally, I had to read her novel.

First, a little bit about the author.

Noelle Granger is a Professor Emerita at UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine. After forty years of research, teaching anatomy to undergraduates, medical students and residents, she turned her knowledge of clinical anatomy to mystery writing.

Impressive, but you won’t hear Noelle talk about her achievements. I had no idea until I read the back cover.

Many times, I question the science behind a crime scene. In this book, we have a professor of clinical anatomy writing not only the mystery, but the medical aspects necessary in such a story.  

Here is my review:

Death in a Red Canvas Chair

A peaceful afternoon in small-town Maine turns chaotic when Rhe Brewster, ER nurse, finds a body sitting in a chair at the end of the soccer field. A take-charge personality, Rhe uses her connections in the police department and the morgue for answers.

From the start, the author’s deep knowledge of medicine and science is on display. The medical aspects are described with expertise and in fascinating detail. Facts establish credibility. While this is fiction, the authority used, which is often blurred in such complex world, drew me in.

The author takes us through the ups and downs of family life, a demanding job, lives of wild students, even decisions based on religious beliefs. As an avid mystery reader, I pride myself on being able to figure out the clues early on. Here, the killer is shrouded in mystery. The pieces come together, but not until everything makes sense. Not until the end.

I was entertained and engrossed in the story. The lead character is endearing and convincing. I found it an enjoyable read, and I highly recommend it. Then again I’m a sucker for a good mystery.

Technology: Gotta Love it, but OMG the Dangers

We have become a ‘picture taking and quickly posting’ people. Log in to Facebook or Twitter and you’ll see thousands of photos with a little icon below indicating the picture was taken/and posted via mobile.  Instant sharing. 

Nothing wrong with that, right?

Well, as Christina Parker of Los Angeles learned, yes, there’s plenty wrong with instant sharing — or it can be. Shortly after posting pics on Twitter (via mobile), Ms. Parker received a message from the website Icanstalku.com telling her they knew where she lives.

Sounds like something out of a horror movie, right? I know where you are … and I’m coming to get you.

What happened was, Ms. Parker’s photos contained information called “geotags” embedded by her smart phone. With every picture she posted online, she was inadvertently giving out her exact location.

Well, call me “behind the times,” but I had no idea. I’m guessing many people would rather not broadcast their exact geographic location when posting a cute picture.

Say, you’re taking a shot of your kids, or pets, or rare diamond necklace to share it with friends. Post it online from your phone, and you’ve given a potential molester/thief/burglar the exact address. Now, all they have to do is pay you a visit.

So, should we stop sharing pictures, or only transfer them via computer? No.

As this article describes, all we have to do is disable the GPS feature on our phone, and we’re safe.

Technology … just gotta love it!

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Image credit: dailyrecord.co.uk, teenagers film.