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7 Steps to Improving Your Public Speaking Skills

16 Jul

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What do people claim to fear more than death? Every time? Public speaking. We’ve all had bad experiences with it. At my first “big” interview for the FFA officer team at my high school, I had one hand on my hip and one hand on the podium the whole interview. I stuttered through my responses, lost myself in the explanation, and lacked the skills to create a professional but enjoyable atmosphere. Throughout the rest of my freshman year, I found myself in more and more situations where public speaking was necessary whether it was in the classroom or through extracurricular responsibilities. I blushed when I was nervous, swayed like a birch-tree in a thunderstorm, and used my hands so much the judge’s review cards would flap in the breeze. Four years later, I find myself in love with speaking and excelling at it. So what happened?

Practice, patience, perseverance, sure. But more so, I had guidance and instruction. Public speaking isn’t something you’re just magically good at. Sure, some people have “a good voice” or “a way with words.” Without knowing what to do with those gifts, those people are just as lost as the rest of us.

These are some tips and tid-bits that I’ve found helpful throughout my public speaking career; this is by no means a complete list or a one-stop-shop to making you the next Martin Luther King, Jr., but it may be a good starting point if you aren’t sure where to begin on honing those fabulous talents you have tucked away behind your ear.

  1. Decide to have a conversation. We’ve all heard, at some point, to imagine the audience in their underwear, but that’s never really helped me. I mean, if everyone else is in their underwear, we’ve got a hot mess of an audience who are for sure not going to be listening to what you have to say. Now, that may seem like a good thing, but I can tell you from experience there is nothing better than an actively engaged audience. An engaged audience may nod along to what you say, murmur an “amen” or “preach it” or “yes, ma’am!” as you speak, laugh when you tell jokes, cry when you drop that fantastic story on them, clap at the conclusion of your speech. So how do you get that kind of audience? Decide to have a conversation. Just like you’re having a chat with your bestie, talk to the audience like you would talk to a group of friends–like you know each person individually. If you are nervous, they will be nervous for you. If you are cold, they will return your coldness. If you open yourself up to having a conversation with them (albeit, you’ll be doing most of the talking), they’ll respond with a conversation. Communication is a two-way street; in order for you to have an interactive audience, you have to invite them to the party. That way, when you mess up, it won’t be a big deal because it’s just a conversation with friends.
  2. Master that nonverbal communication. I cannot stress this enough. We all have our nervous ticks: rhythm master, reflex tester, swaying tree, rocking chair, the stanky leg where you do that awkward, twisty thing with your foot, practicing arithmetic on your hands, etc. . All of these things along with your poise and presentation make up what is called nonverbal communication. This is where all of your hand-motions, movements, and voice inflections play into your speech. Make a dramatic pause here. Get teary-eyed as you share a moving story. Curl your hand into a fist when you’re angry– all these things make up what you are communicating without words. All those nervous ticks that I mentioned before convey just that– nervousness, fear, worry. Master that nonverbal communication by executing purposeful movements, inflections, and pauses. Use your hands to illustrate an easily recognizable action or the size of something; lean forward if you say, “I’ll let you in on a little secret;” change the volume and pitch of your voice depending on which part of the speech you are at. All of these things communicate expertise and understanding of the topic at hand beyond the words that you are sharing. It’s okay to let the little actor inside of you out and put on a little show for your audience! Professional, yes. But also enjoyable. A great balance between those two things is the addition of positive nonverbal communication. And if you find that your nerves are getting to you, a cool trick you can also take advantage of is to bring a water bottle. When you feel that you’re becoming overwhelmed, lose your train of thought, or simply need to take a breath, take a sip of the water. It’s an understandable, purposed nonverbal communication that you needed a breather and some water, and no one can critique you for that! When you create a presentation such as a power point to go along with your speech, make it appealing and interesting to look at. If it’s a stock, plain-jane theme then you communicate disinterest in the topic or a rushed presentation. Remember, the way you present the information is just as important as what you say in the presentation. All of these things can make or break your speech, so pay attention to them. Mastering nonverbal communication is half the battle; if you can do that, the rest of public speaking will be a cinch.
  3. Make a move. This point builds off nonverbal communication. Don’t stay in the same place the whole time you’re speaking; work the room to your advantage. Not only will this help you to translate and remember where those pesky paragraph breaks are in real life but it also helps your audience recognize the speech’s progression. Starting and ending standing in the same place is a great way to give closure to your speech. Give points one, two, and three each at different places across the front of the room. That way when you hit your audience with each new topic sentence, it’ll be easier to remember because you changed places. By associating a motor function with an idea or a piece of the speech, you’ll be better grounded in your memorization and your audience can process the information by placement. It almost works like Sherlock’s mind-palace; each different idea gets a different room or spot on the stage. Movement also allows you to involve everyone– not just front and center folks. If everyone feels included, then everyone is that much more willing to be engaged, and remember– an actively engaged audience is our goal.
  4. Look ’em in the eyes. Remind them you’re not a robot staring at that one fly on the wall in the back. Again, it’s all about connecting with the audience. The best way I’ve found to accomplish this is to work from side to side of the room. Mix it up; the more random your contact the better. But if you need a pattern, work in a figure eight through the room: left back, middle center, right front, right back, middle center, left front. If you look ’em in the eyes, you’re reminding them and yourself that these are real, normal people too and that you and they aren’t so different after all. They don’t feel like you’re standing on some untouchable pedestal, and you don’t feel like they’re all out to get you. More than likely everyone in the audience has had some experience– good, bad, or ugly– with public speaking, and really they’re rooting for you. But you won’t see all that silent encouragement if you don’t make eye contact, so do the thing!
  5. Establish mile-makers. We’ve all been there: stage fright with an iron wall in between us and that thing we would have sworn up and down the minute before we knew by heart. It works the same with playing an instrument. By establishing mile-markers, your autopilot not only has land marks to go by but also if you lose your place, you’ll have somewhere to either go back to or to jump forward to. The best mile-markers for me are usually those nice phrases you’re really proud of that just work or a big word that you just enjoying having in there. Just like land marks stick out to us on the road because they are different or easily spotted whilst in transit, mile-markers in your speech should be unique, easy to spot words, phrases, or sentences. That way, when you’re booking it through your speech because good lord there are a lot more people in the crowd than they said there would be, you have a well established road to follow even when your composure is running in a million different directions away from you.
  6. Harness the speech’s momentum. Get into it, ladies and gents. A lot of times this will stem off your style and voice. As your speech builds, allow yourself to go along with it. Don’t bust the mic, obviously, but as you approach the climax, get a little rowdy– get excited. Get loud. When you harness the momentum of the speech and use it to your advantage through your body language and presentation, it feels like you are approaching the climax of a good movie. Be passionate, be excited, be involved in what you’re saying and the audience will be too.
  7. Believe what you are saying. This one is pretty self explanatory. Be passionate about what you’re talking about, and those around you will be excited because of your passion. If you really want an engaged audience, be passionate, and they won’t be able to help themselves but to get swept up in it. Believe in yourself, believe in what you are saying, and they will too.
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Writing Prompt #1

15 Jul

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It’s summer time and you have spare time, so let’s do some writing, how ’bout it!?

– + – + –

Caffeine. Inspiration. Prompt. Let’s go. Here is today’s writing prompt challenge:

What you’ll need–

– 1 genuine sharpie marker (or equally awesome permanent marker)

– set of wheels

– a lil’ bit o’ cashola (I’d say about five bucks will suffice)

– the goods of writin’ (y’know, the pens, the paper, the laptop)

– one willing soul to assist you on your journey

How to Do the Thing–

1. Get in your car. Or on your bike. Or just walk. Walking is good too.

2. Drive to the nearest curb store, stylishly jamming out to whatever you like. If you are not in a car, use whatever portable music device you have and enjoy some good tunes. If you have no such device, sing at the top of your lungs. It’s all part of the process.

3. Purchase 2 bottles of sweet, Dixie campaign (that’s coca-cola, for you non-Southerners) at random. Note: these bottles must have names on them (e.g. John, Sally, Marsha, etc.) in order for the prompt to work. Keep this in mind during selection and purchasing procedures.

4. Using your sharpie, write the number 1 on top of one of the bottles and number 2 on top of the other bottle.

5. Return home in the same fashion as you left, stylishly jamming.

6. Allow your friend to, without seeing the names, choose which of the bottles is to be the antagonist and which of the bottles is to be the protagonist.

For example,

You: *expertly spins cokes around so that friend can only see the bottle caps* Pick 1 or 2. 

le Friend: *ponders choices while stroking an imaginary (or real) chinbeard* 2.

You: *malicious cackling* JONATHAN, YE SHALL BE OUR VILLAIN! *brandishes coke bottle gently as to not upset the carbon dioxide* 

le Friend: *eyebrow arch of Spock* And that makes number 1?

You: *brandishes second coke bottle (gently) like a sword* MAXWELL, YE SHALL BE OUR HERO!

le Friend: *nervous laughter* You are insane.

You: *indignant Sicilian accent* Inconceivable!

le Friend: *exhausted yet amused Spanish accent* You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

7. Enjoy a coke with your friend.

8. While you are a-buzz with caffeine, use the two names and their predetermined destinies to write a 100 word flash fiction that begins with…

“I don’t share things.”

“Well, that explains a lot.”

Post your completed prompts in the comments as well as which song you jammed out to on the way to purchase the cokes!

Writing Buddies Are For Life

12 Aug

So this is pretty much co-authoring in a few pictures. In case you were wondering, along with writing, we also do weird, stupid things in public, but what were the librarians going to say?

The One About Co-Writing (Part Two)

7 Aug

And then they… no, they didn’t dance. They finished the one about co-writing.

 

6. Discuss the Book and All Future Plans for the Book Frequently. This may seem like a weird thing to do at first, but I promise it’s worthwhile. No one will be more supportive of you and your future (obviously awesome) fandom than your co-author. So talk about it. Where do you want this book to go? What are your dreams? If your dreams are as bad as Flynn Riders, then come up with some better ones. While it may seem like you’ll never get anywhere, laughing about who you think your readers will ship in the future and drooling over certain publishing companies will help not only to set your standards of achievement high, but it will also make you and your co-author closer. Along those same lines, you’ll establish similar aspirations for the book. This is very important. If you’re envisioning yourself as the next New York Times Best Seller and your buddy is really just wanting to write a story to share with the family, then he or she might not be so inclined to slave over the manuscript like you are. Talking about where you want to go with the book will also help you tackle the big discussions in chunks instead of all at once. Do you want to have more than one main character? How long of a book are we talking? Do we want to make this into a trilogy? A saga? A series? Multiple series? When should we draw the line and maybe move on to other things? Brooke and I went through this a lot with our “cycle” WilderQuest. A lot of times, we let all of our gushing ideas accumulate for months before we addressed them, and because of that, our ideas would often clash and clash hard. Again, communication is the key.

 

7. Keep the Book Consistent. What tense? What point of view? Formatting. It is a big deal. Let no one tell you otherwise. Ever. Because it is a big deal. Especially if one of the people involved is OCD. That was me, Sarah, if you were wondering. This is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind while you are co-writing. A lot of times, you and whoever you choose to write with will have very different ideas of how things should look. In fact, your styles will likely be very different as well. And although it can become a really big road-block if you let it, there are a lot of ways to avoid locking up over inconsistencies. This may end up requiring you teach a few Microsoft Word short cuts to your authoring compatriot or sacrifice your own ideal title headings for ones that your buddy likes more. Again, be ready to compromise and work through the problem with God’s grace and serenity. Agree on and then set up a chapter template, make character description sheets up, and share what you think about each others’ writing. Brooke and I often talked through inconsistencies that arose, making notes of some character’s preference for certain things and also how to properly indent paragraphs. And more often than not, all that was needed was brief clarification. Here’s what happens when you don’t do this:

“Evangeline huffed in irritation, glaring at Liz with her cold, dark brown eyes.” — Chapter 2, written by Sarah

“Evangeline’s bright blue eyes flashed; fear was evident in her face despite the chaos of battle.” — Chapter 11, written by Brooke

See the dilemma? While these sentences didn’t actually come straight from WilderQuest, this very thing actually did happen. You’ll find that you and your friend will likely have characters that the both of you created almost entirely by yourself, or you’ll come up on a part in your book where one of you planned out the battle scene to the gory details. These aren’t bad things, but always keep in mind that the other person working with you is probably not telepathic. If you have things planned out to the very last dotted i on the page, be sure to share this and be willing to compromise if your better (writing) half has an idea. Plot bunnies multiply exponentially where inconsistencies are, and no one wants to have to chase all those fluffy mongrels off.

 

8. Make Achievable Goals. The word “achievable” here is very important. Goals will be the things that help propel you through the tough times of novel writing and also push you to the breaking point, and goals will also often be a test of your teamwork finesse levels. Whether it’s a goal to reach a certain word count, write a certain number of chapters in a week, or a setting and meeting a certain dead line, you will find that it is very important one, that these goals that you set can actually be achieved, and two– without butting too much into the next point, that you encourage your friend to meet the goals that you do set. Seriously, just knowing that someone else who you know is human (because who can be sure about these big time author people) tacking a crack at reaching that really hard goal will help you to do better, even if you don’t achieve that goal in the end. Granted that nothing is quite as satisfying as knowing that you and your writing compadre have reached a goal on time. So strive to meet those goals. Or make a point to laugh about them later. Both are pretty enjoyable, although one of them is decidedly more productive.

 

9. Encourage One Another in Writing and in Life. This is definitely the biggest benefit of writing with another person. Although, undoubtedly, you will have your ups and downs, good days and days that main characters end up in dark pits being tortured to death, you will also have days that you finally pull out of your writer’s block and the first person to throw you a party and send you cake is your co-author. Days that you’ll disparagingly decide that your novel will never go anywhere and you might as well stop now and take up some profitable career now like your mom has been telling you to for the past sixteen years and the one to dispel all that is your wonderful, high-spirited writing buddy. In fact, you’ll find that the friends who write together, often stay together. Like, seriously, Brooke and I have been life-buddies since the tender age of two. There is something about spinning a tale with another uniquely amazing individual that is really pretty awesome in-and-of itself, and you will likely discover that the people who “get you” the best are the people that you write with. So, with this pretty awesome relationship in mind, don’t overlook the importance of daily making an effort to build each other up and encouraging one another to strive for each of your “bests” — whatever that best looks like. And if you’re pen pal is just having a rough go of it in general, be there for them– pray for them. Trust me, riding through the storms of life with someone is one sure way to ensure that when you write together– it’s just that: together.

 

10. Co-Writing Can Be Lots of Fun. So Enjoy It. One of the best feelings you’ll have while co-writing is the moment when you and your friend finish a book, and you read back through it and realize that you’ve shared a very unique part of yourself with another person who feels the same way. I have learned so much from co-writing and continue to learn about not only my own style and abilities, but also about other people and how to best interact with others. Truly, nothing will improve your writing as quickly as working together with other talented individuals because you will find yourself wanting to put forth your best so that they will do the same. Instead of standing on the precipice of a new novel alone, you will be standing with a friend and fellow warrior. Some of the best memories I have are from late-night role-playing sessions, really, freakishly long book planning discussions, and the intermittent moments of shared insider jokes and character impersonations. So have fun with it. Co-writing is probably one of the most fun things you’ll do. And while it does take a lot of work on the outset, the rewards that you reap in the long run will far exceed the little troubles that you go through at the start.

 

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Well, there’s our take on co-writing. Did you think of something that we missed now that we’ve reached the end? Think that you could explain one of the points better? Have a story to tell that fits one of our ten points? Tell us about it in the comments below!

The One About Co-Writing (Part One)

4 Aug

A couple weeks ago, we received a request from Victoria W. :

“I have a question. I’ve been considering finding co-writing with someone on this story idea I had. There’s just one problem: I’ve never co-written anything and I don’t know how! I was wondering if you lovely ladies had any tips and/or guides that can show me how to get this up and off the ground. 🙂 “

And because we are the prosaic writers we are who can, of course, never do anything with brevity, we have elected to endow you with the knowledge which has come from many years of struggle and strife via a two-part blog post. Kidding. Co-writing is the best.

That being said, there are a great many things that one should be prepared to do in order to reap the most benefits from your collaborative project.

 

1. Everyone Has a “Chapter 10.” This is probably the most negative thing that we have to share, but it is a necessary thing. Your co-writing relationship will be tested. And tested a lot. One of the ways that this relationship will be tested is when you have a disagreement about plot. Or grammar. Or feels. Or characters. Or you find out that your plot has been breeding cute, little fluffy bunnies for months. It just happens and cannot be avoided. So when that time comes, ride through it with as much grace and serenity as God is willing to provide and hope the both of you are alive to tell the tale later on. Kidding. It’s only almost that bad. Brenna and I had a “Chapter 10,” Brooke and I had a “Chapter 10.” And look, we’re not too much worse for the wear. When you do hit your “Chapter 10,” get outside advice and make sure to set aside time to clearly articulate your feelings and opinions. Not in rant form. Because rants get no one anywhere ever. (Passive aggression is also not advised.) Be sure you are ready to compromise or even allow the other person to have what they want. With this attitude, you will conquer many a novel-esque conflicts with the maturity of a professional.

 

2. Establish a System. What is your POA (or Plan of Action for you non-military acronym learned people)? How are you going to write the book?  How are you going to edit the book once its done? These are important questions which you should assuredly have at least tentative answers to going in. Brooke and I, for all of eternity (we’re not that old; I’m kidding), have been using an outline method with alternating POVs (points of view). Meaning that, when we started a new book or series, we sat down at our laptops and talked on the phone for six hours writing an albeit, tentative, semi-comprehensive outline that featured an alternating pattern between two main characters. Now, as we have matured, we have brought in more main characters and story-telling devices, but the basis remains the same. Find something that works for both you and your co-writing compadre and stick to it. We would not suggest flying by the seat of your pants (by the way, if you want a history of this phrase, which Brooke and I discovered while writing this post, click here.) By assigning chapters and working through the plot at the beginning, you will be better prepared to edit and change the ideas you have because of the basis already established. Whatever it is that you choose, be sure that it is consistent and that everyone is on the same page to ensure that the beginning of your partnership is as smooth and well-organized as possible. This will prevent a lot of hick-ups in the long run, while also serving as a point of reference for the rest of writing project.

 

3. Communication Is the Key That Opens the Door to Success. While this is, in fact, an FFA metaphor from Success Conference, it is also true of most endeavors which require the cooperation of more than one individual. We are people. We have different ideas. Different imaginations. Different schedules. Different stress levels. Seriously, we’re different, yeah, we’re different. And admit you just sang that in your head. So communicate about all the things. Even if its just the fact that you’ve gotten a new hair cut (Skype is a great way to show that off, by the way). Keeping your writing buddy aware of the goings on in you life while also letting them inform you about theirs will ensure that you aren’t surprised when they drop off the face of the planet for a week or two because school started, they went on vacation, etc. This will also ensure that when problems arise, your first reaction is to talk it out and make the situation clear. Because you are a writer, you will assume the worst, and things bound out of proportions in your brain all the time. So be swift and poignant when you communicate. Have fun with it. If you characters are making snide comments, share the snide comments. If you had an idea for a plot twist, by all means share the plot twist (and don’t hide it from your co-author either, because that makes for bad ju-ju). Have an idea for feels? Share! You’re in the adventure together, so share stories like you’re around a campfire and plan out the next steps of your quest carefully. When things pop up or a brilliant idea hits you, talk about it. Also, don’t be afraid to laugh about your mistakes, remind your co-author of past insiders, and do some good ol’ fashioned catching up every once and again. You will likely get tired of the plot at some point during the writing process, and that’s perfectly okay. Don’t deviate so far from the book that you’ll never feel motivated to write about it again, but take breaks to just talk. Communication is very important. Do not forget this. Ever.

Ever.

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4. Assign Separate Duties. So you’ve got a plan. Great. What now? Perhaps one of the hardest things to do when collaborating with someone else is assigning duties early on. At this point, you’re probably still trying to preserve whatever delicate sliver of sanity you have left because writing, and actually calling things as they are and giving tasks is a lot like acknowledging the crazy. This is perfectly normal. However, forgoing assignments is a lot like forgoing studying before a big test. There’s a chance you might still pass through the valley unscathed, but you’ll be much more prepared to take on the world and ace that thing if you study. Similarly, you’re a lot more likely to succeed with your novel-writing endeavors if you take the time and say, “Okay, I’ll do [x, y, and z]. How about you do [a, b, and c]?” Brooke and I did this and still do this (on the aforementioned six-hour long phone calls). After brainstorming and building up a plan, we would then assign chapters. Sometimes we alternated. You take even, I’ll take odd. Sometimes we bartered. And sometimes, I was a stupid-head and took all of the battle chapters and left Brooke with all the infamous “journey” chapters in which pretty much nothing ever happened ever. But, the duties go beyond just who is going to write which part of what chapter. Duties can also include who is going to keep up with all of the documents, combine the book as we go, process ideas and jot them down, keep a character journal, buy snacks or appropriate instrumental writing music. Anything that is a high priority for you and your writing friend should be listed out and assigned. This cultivates security and eliminates some of the awkwardness of first starting a project. Something else to note here is that everyone is not meant to be the quarterback of the team. Meaning that you and your writing buddy need to figure out what your combined strengths and weaknesses are before you assign responsibilities. For example, I might not give Brooke the task of keeping up with all the documents because her computer has been known to get viruses and crash. Likewise, Brooke would not give me the more romantic chapters of the book because she knows I don’t write romance very well. By making sure that everyone has a manageable task to conquer at all times, you will ensure that there is always something that each of you can be working on independently from one another without piggy-backing on one or the other author too much.

 

5. Balance Out Those Assignments. You remember the thing I said about the battle chapters? Yeah, so you’re going to want to write all of the really exciting chapters. But so does your co-writing compadre. What? What do we do now? Balance. If one of you gets a journey chapter, the other gets a journey chapter. If one of you is keeping a character journal, the other should be keeping a plot journal. Be just and fair in your dealings. Believe me, you friend will know if you’ve given him or her the short end of the deal and now they’re having to write about the seven-hundred mile trek all by themselves while you’re off frolicking with your climax chapters and battle scenes. You will also both then establish skills in multiple areas. A lot of times, the reason we don’t want to write a certain type of chapter is because we are unfamiliar with it and aren’t sure how to handle it. Here is a benefit of having a partner in crime. Sometimes, you’ll find that what you are good at writing, the other person is not. And what you struggle with, they do not. Use each others’ skills to cultivate new and improved abilities that will stick with you through the rest of your writing career. While it may seem like a lot of prep work before you get started, you will find that the more you do it, the easier the balancing becomes and the more fun you’ll have writing with a friend. Besides, no one wants to be writing buddies with a  battle chapter grubber. They’re just no fun at all.

 

Hope these little tid-bits of the trade helped answer your question– or at least get you started in the right direction, Victoria! We’ll be posting part two of this article very soon, so keep an eye out. And if you have a question, comment, or something to add to what we’ve said above, put it in the down-below! We’d love to hear about your own experiences in co-writing and maybe some pointers that you have picked up along the way.

On a Sort of Related Side-Note

27 Jul

Writing comfort foods include Strawberry Now-and-Laters, chocolate chips, and tea. That is all.

 

“The Stars Shone Brightly in the Moonless Sky as Sarah and Brooke Waited…”

1 Jul

Those lines have become legend with EEB. They are the beginning words for the summary of ‘Napped at Night, which is me and Sarah’s first full length book we wrote together.
When Sarah first told me about this idea on July 1 2009, I thought it was crazy. After all, it is not every day that you hear about kids stolen, taken down a literal underground railroad all the way to Wyoming, forced to work in a mill that made whiskey, and then escape. I honestly did not think it would work because we had both started projects before and then dropped them, but this time we persevered. With no outline. On her old laptop and my parent’s desktop PC. With characters that were basically heroic forms of ourselves, hence the names are the same. We missed seeing each other so much that now I wonder if we wrote this story with the hope to get kidnapped just so we could be together again. Aaah. So many fun memories, including our notorious Shakespeare-sounding twelve year old character named Jordan who once exclaimed, “Sarah, it cannot be!” You knew that one was coming, Sarah. 😉 I started reading ‘Napped at Night again today, fell in love with the idea all over again, but noticed even more fallacies, such as my character being eleven, then ten, and then has her eleventh birthday. Shhhhhhh. It’s okay. I had to tell myself that since we were just in fifth and sixth grade, I should probably just laugh it off.
Regardless, ‘Napped at Night is one of my fondest memories of writing. There was something about those humid long summer nights and crisp, cold-toed early days of fall when we wrote that story. There was something about the fantasy of being kidnapped. There was something magical in the memories of old with our dear friend Jordan Whitfield, who we wished to see again. The idea of Indian reservations and railroad hobos was intriguing, stirring our young imaginations to unique destinations. We even quite literally dreamed of our characters after a while. Chris and Martin, the kidnappers, have been to my house and have actually talked to me in my dreams. That’s how close we are. Even Sarah’s dad had dreams related to ‘Napped at Night while we were writing this. Everyone got involved. As this book and EEB turns five today, I want to thank those (like our friends and family) who have come so far with us on this “train ride to Wyoming and beyond.” Thanks! The cake is for you. 🙂

Happy Birthday, EEB!!!!! Have all the cake you want. :-) The picture is a mixture between a public domain copy-right free Wikimedia Commons file and my own bad job in Paint. ;-)

Happy Birthday, EEB!!!!! Have all the cake you want. 🙂 The picture is a mixture between a public domain copy-right free Wikimedia Commons file and my own bad job in Paint. 😉

This is the first page of 'Napped at Night I wrote. This is not even in the prologue anymore. It was revised and moved to chapter one.

This is the first page of ‘Napped at Night I wrote. This is not even in the prologue anymore. It was revised and moved to chapter one.


World War 3! This is the first page Sarah and I tried to write together over the phone...and then we decided that splitting up chapters was a far better idea. :-)

World War 3! This is the first page Sarah and I tried to write together over the phone…and then we decided that splitting up chapters was a far better idea. 🙂