This is the weekly web blog of Jimmie Kepler of the jimmiekepler.com website.
Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffee house, he supports his writing, reading, and reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs in 2010. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.
1. Show real interest in the person. Listen to what they are saying. Be interested in what is happening in their life. Let them know you care.
2. Concede what’s important to them. When you acknowledge what’s important to others, you offer a form of verification and support about who they are and what they’re doing.
3. Say “congratulations”. These magical Words of Encouragement at the right time can make all the difference between “keep going” and “give up”. Congratulate them on a job or task well done.
4. Be there for them. Sometimes your presence is all they need. Just being there for them is encouraging.
5. Say “Thank You”. This is common courtesy. It is good manners. People like a little reward after hard work. I have done it for years. A simple thank you lets others know what they have done is worthwhile and meaningful to you.
6. Return the favor. If someone does something nice for you, a great way to show your appreciation is simply to return the favor. It will both shock and encourage them. Note: don’t ever do something expecting someone to return the favor for you.
7. Answer with something unexpected. I have a phrase I have used for years … love them from where they are to where they need to be! Even when others let me down or they know I know they “dropped the ball” I don’t tell them so, I usually pick the ball up for them. It is amazing the long-term results this can have in encouraging someone.
8. Be a “good finder”. A good finder is a person who looks for the good, not the bad in a person or a situation. An example would be if a person is always late to meetings, but makes in on time to your meeting instead of saying “About time you attended a meeting on time” say “I really appreciate the extra effort you made to get here on time” without any reference to their normal tardiness.
9. Smile. Have you ever experienced the magic of a simple smile? Have you ever noticed how when you smile at someone they smile back? Share an encouraging smile.
10. Offer to lend a hand. You can offer to lend a hand. Sometimes a person feels like the weight of the world is on their shoulders and no one cares. Show them you really care. You can be there for them.
On a rainy Friday in Marshall, Texas I turned off US Highway 80. Heading north on Grove Street, I went under the railroad bridge. On the bridge was a sign with the words painted on it announcing “Welcome to ETBU Tiger Country.” Driving a one-hundred yards further north Scarborough Hall greeted me as I drove onto the East Texas Baptist University campus. There Christian writers from Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas gathered. Networking and learning are their goals.
I do not write exclusively for the Christian market. I do not consider myself an inspirational writer. I am a Believer in Jesus Christ who targets the secular market with short stories, books, and nonfiction that include Christian themes.
Here are my top takeaways from the East Texas Baptist Christian Writers Conference.
Register early and follow the East Texas Christian Writers Conference on Facebook. Early sign-up saves you a few dollars. Read the workshop descriptions. You may not understand the small sessions and how the other events work, but this will give you an idea. Read everything. Attend the pre-conference workshop (cost $40 with advance registration, $50 late registration) “Make the Most of Your Conference Experience.” It will give you general information.
I believe the #ETCWC could use a FREE Friday afternoon orientation session for first time attendees. I am suggesting one that doesn’t require a pre-conference workshop fee, but is included in the cost for first time attendees. The session would be specific to that year and cover what is offered at the conference. It would orient you to where the meeting rooms are located. It would explain the schedule, breaks, and meals. It would give you an opportunity to meet other writers in your field. It would help team you up with a couple of writer buddies where you don’t feel isolated or alone at the conference. Some of the writer’s conventions have conference faculty make a presentation in the orientation class giving a two-minute pitch for each of their workshops. The Mount Hermon, Great Philadelphia and Colorado Christian Writers Conferences are great examples of assimilating new attendees. They work hard to make sure first timers don’t have an “all alone in a crowd” experience. They also give a discount for returning conference alumni. This encourages repeat attendance.
Attend all the sessions. The scheduling of the workshops makes attending all sessions a challenge. The organizers fail to schedule transition time between the second and third morning workshop sessions on Saturday. I have spoken to a few people who just skip the 11:30 AM session because they don’t want to walk into a classroom after the workshop has started. The conference organizers should allow a break between the second and third sessions. It is a challenge to get from a class on the fourth floor in one building to one on the second floor in another building with the distance between the buildings, age of the participants and with classes that sometimes run long.
Beware of the do’s and don’ts. The session leaders give you many checklists and rules. Remember that in writing is a creative pursuit. The rules are guidelines or suggestions. Don’t get paralyzed by rules. You don’t have to do what they say. Trust yourself.
Why not be one of the Christian writers from Texas and Arkansas who gathered for networking and learning? You too can make the drive to Marshall, Texas. You’ll feel the excitement I do when you turn off US Highway 80 and head north on Grove Street. When you see the railroad bridge with the words painted on it announcing “Welcome to ETBU Tiger Country” you will feel welcome. Your heart will run a little faster as you drive those last one-hundred yards further north and see Scarborough Hall greeting you. You’ll be ready to meet old friends, make a new one as you network and learn the business and craft of writing.
How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones is a scholarly look at the Civil War. Hattaway and Jones have produced a great book on Civil War logistics, planning, and administration. They authors seem to focus more on the logistics and strategy side over the tactical side. The book was very good, but at times, it was a dry recitation of chronology, dull facts, and statistics. I had to force my way to complete the book, and it took two attempts to get it read. Most copies of the book will collect dust on some university library bookshelf. It is too deep and too dry for most readers. Better to borrow this book from your library than spend your money purchasing the book. Read in April – June 2005 by Jimmie A. Kepler.