Wednesday, June 23, 2010

She Smiles for Hours on End...

I've been throwing alot of words in the blender lately...writing business articles on BIG business for the MS Business Journal. I like writing business profiles, particularly on businesses like Ross & Yerger Insurance, which has been in business for 150 years. They are obviously doing something right.

But today's post deals with reading, not writing...and not the kind of reading that makes your brain hurt. Instead it's the kind that makes your heart sing! And author I'm talking about graced us with her presence recently...

She can smile for hours on end. She can wave, too. She can even smile and wave at the same time..."It's harder than it looks!" Those are her talents, and by God, she uses them to entertain and delight all those around her.

Who is this talented woman? None other than Her Royal Highness, Sweet Potato Queen Jill Conner Browne, and she was our guest at the BB Queens Book Club Monday night at Lemuria. There was food galore (I think everyone was showing out a bit...), but Jill has skinnied-up on us, and didn't eat a bite. Wine flowed like a river, but all she drank was water. That's fine...more for us!

We read her book, "American Thighs, The Sweet Potato Queens Guide to Preserving Your Assets" for this month's selection.

(Don't waste your time trying to click and look won't work here...)

Jill entertained us with lots of fun stories and a complete history on how she became a self-proclaimed Sweet Potato Queen. Of course, the message in all her madness was to incorporate a little fun into our lives. It just makes it all the sweeter.

After a ticket-snafu, Jill gave out a couple of door prizes--her trademark rhinestone-studded sunglasses, and a tiara. We all had a great time, and appreciated her visit. After all, she has eaten with presidents and other VIPS...

It's always good for a writer to meet other writers, particularly when they are successful writers like Jill. Being a member of this book club has afforded me the chance to meet other writers. We met Pat Conroy at the Girlfriend's Weekend in Jefferson, Texas along with several other writers. We've dined with Neil White (In the Sanctuary of Outcasts), and enjoyed the humor of Shellie Tomlinson and River Jordan.

Jill's story also showed how everything you do leads you to the next thing...and you have to be open for it and know that sometimes the plan God has for your life is so much bigger than your own plan.

So, I'll leave you with some fun photos of a fun evening...enjoy!
Blessings to all who read this!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's a Small World Afterall!

I threw some words in the blender and just posted my (other) blog, "Every Step of the Way," on MS Digital Daily. You can read it here.

I'll be posting links to articles and blogs I've written here, so come by and flip the switch on the blender any time.

Like what you see? Then PLEASE...register to follow my blog (on the right hand side of the screen). It's fast, easy and so much fun! :-)

Like it so much you want to talk about it? Leave a comment! It makes me feel that I'm not alone, and I love your feedback/comments/suggestions...and yes, even criticism, if it's presented in a I'm-only-telling-you-this-for-your-own-good way.

Speaking of reading and and humorist Jill.Conner.Browne. will be a special guest at my bookclub tomorrow night!!! She's just a ton of fun and she has graciously agreed to come hang with us, and talk to us about her book, "American Thighs."

I've had the chance to meet so many authors since becoming a member of this club...starting at "Girlfriend's Weekend," (a whole other column, I promise!), when I met Pat Conroy and his daughter, and several other awesome authors. A couple of weeks ago I met Neil White, the author of "In the Sanctuary of Outcasts." He and his wife joined a group of us for dinner at Bravo! and as a future creative non-fiction author, I learned so much from him.

I'll be putting more words in the blender tomorrow...I've got deadlines looming on several articles. Yippeeeee!!! There's nothing like making money while you're wearing your pajamas!

Blessings to all who read this!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mix it up!

I've been wanting to start a blog about writing. My writing. A place where I can post articles I've written, and chronicle the writing journey I'll be starting soon when I begin to write "You Can't Stop This Dancer: The Fall and Rise of Nicole Marquez."

Writing is an interesting process. We all have access to the same words. Some use more of them than others. Some use obscure words to impress or intimidate. Others use words for the masses--words everyone knows and understands so they can get their point across. Some write on and on, and others are more concise.

I started my professional career as a television copywriter. I wrote and produced commercials at an NBC affiliate in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I quickly learned to tell a story in thirty seconds or less. I had to let viewers know how a product or service could fill a need, and then communicate a compelling call to action. Results are important in advertising, or it's money wasted for the client. I became very results-driven.

My next job included writing not only television commercials, but radio spots and print advertising copy for a department store. That was a great learning experience for me as well. I learned that catchy headlines could make or break a print ad, and I learned that radio is theatre of the mind.

I went on to work for an advertising agency, where my repertoire of written copy included press releases, annual reports and brochures. Oh, and billboards. I became a great billboard copywriter. A good billboard contains eight or fewer words. Most people reading them are driving very fast, and they don't have time to read lots of small copy.

One of my favorite billboards is up now on Highway 49, south of Jackson. It's for a product called "Fish Fry," which is a breading product used for fish as well as for fried vegetables. A staple at many Southern tables in the summer is fried okra. The billboard has a big box of the Fish Fry product on the left, and on the right, it reads: As Seen On Okra. Get it? (My friends and I always refer to Oprah as "Okra.")

OK, that's either funny to you, and you totally get it and you'll remember the product. Or you'll read it, scratch your head and drive on...totally unaffected by the billboard ad. Such is writing. Know your target. Remember who you're writing to, and the message you're trying to get across.

From the ad agency, I went to work at WLBT (another NBC affiliate in Jackson) and then to Northpark Mall, where I was the marketing director. In that job, I had to write marketing plans--a whole new kind of writing.

But the best job of all is the one I've had since 2001. I'm a freelance writer now, working out of my home. I write articles for magazines, newspapers, business journals and other publications. The job gives me freedom, yet keeps me busy. Deadlines determine my office hours. I really enjoy what I do, because it's different every day. I write about a variety of subjects, and because of what I do, I talk to the most interesting people, getting details, quotes, but most of all, learning their stories. And believe me, everyone has a story!

Because most of my articles are 600 to 1500 words in length, I don't get very in-depth on any particular subject. I learn a little bit about a lot of things...and that makes me an interesting person to talk to at a cocktail party. When my knowledge of a subject is exhausted (which usually happens pretty quickly), I can just move on!

I'll be posting some of my articles on this blog, and I'd love to get your feedback. Feel free to leave comments or suggestions. But please be kind...if you absolutely hate something I've mixed up in the word blender, send me a private email and tell me why.

So, welcome to my new blog! Thanks for stopping by. Come back now, ya hear?

Blessings to all who read this!