Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Unleashing the Incredible

Recently, I was part of something truly incredible. As a speaker at Darnyelle Jervey's three day conference - Unleash Your Incredible Factor 2014 - I expected to give me talk on the 10 Facts About the Law Every Business Owner Needs to Know, make contacts and maybe pick up a client or two while I learned more about marketing from Darnyelle and the other speakers.

I should have known better.

After all, I'd met Darnyelle before and knew how magnetic she is. We'd had a 90 minute coaching session that still stands as one of the best use of funds in my business. But I hadn't really internalized what who Darnyelle was meant, and would mean in a large group.

The experience was educational, transformational, inspiring, energizing, and invigorating. In short, incredible.

As a lawyer I need to take 12 hours of continuing legal education every year. As a writer I've been to a number of seminars. Hundreds, if not thousands, of seminar and conference hours. Most conferences are fairly boring. Or there are too many people to make meaningful connections. Or the speakers are guarded better than the gold in Fort Knox. Most "marketing" conferences are high on "rah-rah-rah" but low on content. Before Unleash I'd only been to one conference that was more. I've written about Superstars Writing Seminar before so I won't go into any depth here. One thing remarkable about Superstars is how close the attendees become during the conference. There's a reason we have "Tribe" t-shirts.

Unleash was a "business revival." One of the attendees at Unleash said that Darnyelle's pulpit is business, and I think the attendee had it right. Not only did the seminar focus on concrete steps to shift your business and life to their next level, but also there was something undeniably more happening.

While in some ways Unleash 2014 will be one of those things "you just had to be there for,"  I'm going to do my best to convey some sense of that more.

The more started on the first night. Well, maybe sooner, as Darnyelle started the conference by stating that she believed in God, and would refer to him during the next 3 days. It was okay if you called that force fate, universe, or another entity but for her IT was God. We came back after dinner for our night session (7pm - 9pm). Darnyelle had us to the whisper exercise in which one group would think about the word or phrase they needed to hear before they could move on to their next stage and then whisper that word or  phrase into the ear of the second group who stood with eyes closed. Even typing this now I get little shivers thinking of the event.

There were about 225 attendees for the conference and probably 180 people at the whisper session. It was impossible in the time allotted to whisper to or hear everyone. But somehow as we walked around that room or waited for the word the people with the right words found those who needed to hear them.

I don't think I've ever been to a conference with as much crying. Some tears were the slow quiet ones of joy and others were the body wracking ones of release. You couldn't be in that room without feeling Something More.

Darnyelle later said that the whisper exercise was usually something she did on the last day of her conferences, but she'd felt the need for the exercise on the first day. The sense of more continued through the three days. It's hand rested lightly on all of us. Moving some to speak stories they'd never told anyone. Some found their next purpose.

What I do know is none of us left the as the same people we were when we arrived. We'd shifted out mindset - both for our business and our lives.

So, what can I tell you about Unleash?

You need to go in 2015. Even if you don't have your own business. Yet. The marketing and business knowledge you will gain is well worth the price of admission. You can apply it to whatever job you have or want to have. You can use the information to take your business to its next level. The people you'll connect with are priceless. You'll be part of something more, something greater than any one person.

In short, you'll unleash the incredible inside you.

Thank you, Darnyelle and all your incredible staff!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shafts of Starlight

Star light, Star Bright
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.

People wished on a stars. One article I read said the tradition started in the 19th Century and dated the Star Light poem to that time period. Another placed the tradition with the ancient Etruscans - so about 800 - 300 B.C. Regardless of how the tradition started the belief that if you tell your heart's desire to a star it will come true is part of our culture. We wish on stars, cast pennies in wells and blow out birthday candles. Belief is powerful.

Sheppard Book from Serenity said, "I don't care what you believe... just believe it."

When we look up into the night sky we are humbled and awed by the infinite. Stars are made of the stuff of universes. Rather than be cowed by the endless depths. We draw strength from them. Belief is a shaft of starlight.

In starlight's glow we are unlimited. We know that if we want something badly enough to call into the vast emptiness of space that emptiness will return, not the echo of our dream, but its very core. Belief lets you press on when everyone says you want the impossible. It gives you the courage to get back on your feet one more time when you've been knocked down. Again.

We need belief. Without out it we can't resist the call of darkness. Sometimes when we can't find belief within ourselves and have to listen for the external signal. The voice of the universe talking back to us.

I believe people come into our lives for specific reasons. Not all of them good. But they point us onto purpose. Most people who cross our path are shafts of starlight - all with lessons for us to learn.

Sometimes we hear the universe's signal. Sometimes the message must be repeated. A lot.

I've been noticing the same message playing over and over. It comes down to belief in self. 

I'd read Ayn Rand in college and thought I'd understood when she said, "The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me."

But I'd forgotten that.

Three years ago I heard that same message from James Artimus Owen: when he said, “If you really want to do something, no one can stop you, If you really don't want to do something, no one can help you."

One of the speakers at a seminar I attended a few months later used the Ayn Rand quote.

I ran into the quote again today when I was cleaning out the basement for some work we're having done and found my notes from the seminar.

Today I found this quote:

People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don’t sit looking at it – walk.
- Ayn Rand

Shafts of starlight.

Messages from the Universe.



Like Book - I don't care what you believe, but believe in something. I think that first something is yourself.

It makes all the difference.

Tomorrow I will get up and believe my goals are the right ones for me, that I can achieve them, help will be there when I ask for it, and no one can stop me.

Tonight, though, I'll bask in shafts of starlight.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let it Snow.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Despite the day of green we're covered in white (another snow storm) here in Virginia. In nearly late March. The Federal government is shut down again. Blogger is fighting me and won't let me add photos to this post. Grr.

Today I thought I'd take Jennifer Boykin's advice from "Life After Tampons"  and "quit (my) bitching. Change (my) life."

So, instead of the post I'd planned or a rant about the snow, I thought I'd list the top 10 things I like about having yet another snow day.
1. I get to work in my sweats.

2. I don't have to drive three or more hours today.

3. I get to have a snowball fight with my boys and even up the score from last snow day!

4. My husband isn't running off to court and I get to see him while there's still daylight.

5. My husband made me an omlet for breakfast.

6. The animals:  Pips (our youngest horse) did not colic and has fully recovered from his upset tummy, Blue (our arthritic black lab) loves the snow and she was jumping around like a puppy in the snow drifts and  Chewie (our dumber than a post Boxer-mix) got to wear his puppy jacket and played in the snow.

7. I "don't have to" and everyone accepts that answer since they "don't have to" (get to the office , go shopping, or anything else we usually label as a "should" item) because no one is going anywhere today.

8. The Price is Right is on.

9.  There's a fire in the fire place.

10. I get to roast marshmallows and watch a movie with my sons.

Okay, so maybe the snow's not all that bad. Even in Virginia. In mid-March. Without photos in this post.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"I Get Knocked Down...

…but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.” – Tubthumping by Chumbawamba.

Tubthumping has become my theme song for the last six months or so. Why? Well, that doesn’t really matter. I’ll not engage in a pity party here other than to say that I’ve been off balance since October and every time I think I’m getting my feet other me again another blow falls.  Amidst this chaos have also been amazing moments of light and joy. Welcome to the roller coaster that is my world.

What have I learned from my own trials over the last six months and watching friends and family struggle through depression, illness and death?

Chumbawamba had it right. You gotta get up again.  Even when part of your brain is calculating how fast you need to drive to hit that tree hard enough to overcome the car’s safety devices. Death is the only finish line. The later you cross it, the better.

Even if you didn’t watch the Olympics you probably saw news coverage or heard someone talking last month about Jeremy Abbott's fall.  On his very first jump his plans all went horribly wrong and he fell to the ice. Despite hitting the wall, hard, despite lying immobile for several seconds, despite his coach seeking to bring him back to the sidelines to get medical attention and despite rising with clearly injured ribs – Jeremy Abbott got up and skated on. He nailed the rest of his performance and ended up in the number one position for that point in the competition. Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last. But he got up again.

He’s a champion and a role model I’m proud to point out to my kids and believe in myself. He got up again.

Sometimes that’s all we can do.

We stumble and land wrong. If we are really lucky there are people who love us and won’t let us fall. Sometimes though we have to find it in ourselves to catch ourselves and get up when we fall.

Failure teaches what not to do. Learning what not to do leads to progress. Ultimately, progress leads to success. Falling doesn’t keep you from being successful. Giving up and not getting up does.

So, for now, I’m keeping Tubthumping cranked.

I get knocked, down but I get up again
You're never gonna keep me down
I get knocked, down but I get up again
You're never gonna keep me down
I get knocked, down but I get up again
You're never gonna keep me down
I get knocked, down but I get up again
You're never gonna keep me down

Then again maybe I'll just defy gravity.

To see Jeremy’s performance and interview about the fall, please check out:

Always get up when you fall.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cooking with the Wenches: Holly Trent's Meatroll.

Fellow wench, Holly Trent, shares her Tex-Mex Meatloaf. Yum! Take it away, Holly.

This meatloaf spin-off has ground up tortilla chips. Its airier texture is due to rolling the meat rather than patting it into shape. This dish is a perfect substitution for pickier eaters, and the cheese in the middle adds a little something for the kiddos.

Holley’s Tex-Mex Meatroll

2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. mustard powder
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (can substitute Pepper Jack)
3 cups crushed corn tortilla chips
¼ cup mild salsa

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix meat, egg, and seasoning in a bowl. On waxed or parchment paper, pat the meat mixture into a rectangle as wide as your loaf pan or slightly less wide than the width of your paper if you're baking on a cookie sheet.

Cover the surface of the beef with the tortilla chips. Just eyeball it. You don't need to use the full three cups - just make sure you have good coverage. Spread the cheese over the top. Pretend you're building a pizza.

Take one end of the paper and roll the meat as if it were sushi, but don’t catch the paper in the roll. Gently tease the roll to the end and carefully transfer to a greased pan. Pat the ends so they're rounded and the ingredients inside don’t fall out.

Brush the top of the loaf with salsa. Water it down a bit if doing so makes it easier to spread. Cover with foil. Mold it against the roll a bit to provide structure to the meat holds its shape as it cooks.

About 45 minutes in—when the roll has firmed but not completely cooked—remove foil. Apply another brushing of salsa.

Bake until a thermometer reads 160°F. Let the meatroll rest for at least ten minutes before cutting.

While your dinner is baking, check out Holly's fun FREE READ Boughs of Halle only at Musa Publishing and recapture the joy of Christmas.

Ex-hipster Erin Posey is too cool for Christmas. But, when her mother announces she’s driving up to North Carolina to visit her prodigal daughter, Erin engages in a last-minute scramble to deck the halls of her bungalow.

In a night rife with frustrations, a tree salesman named Halle takes pity on the frazzled school photographer and helps her get into the holiday spirit. When the tree’s twinkle lights turn on, the magic Erin feels doesn’t have a thing to do with the joyous season. She knows she needs to mend her strained relationship with her mother, so once all the tinsel has gone on, she sends Halle on his way.

The handsome stranger has got quirky Erin pegged better than anyone she’s ever met. She wants him to return, but is her charm like mistletoe? Does the magic exist only when she’s up close, or will thoughts of her be enough to draw Halle back for a New Year’s kiss, too?

To claim your free copy of Boughs of Halle please click HERE.

Nancy here again. I really enjoyed Boughs of Halle. It's one of those stories that makes you believe in hope when life seems determined to make you miserable.

Holley Trent is the author of Executive Decision, Mrs. Roth’s Merry Christmas, and Her Resident Jester – all available now from Musa Publishing's Calliope Romance Line.

To see all of Holley Musa Publishing books, please click HERE.

Learn more about Holley Trent on her blog and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, January 13, 2014

2013 Roundup

2013 was a bit of a bear for me. I'm glad to see it in the rear view mirror. But before I bid 2013 a joyous farewell, indulge me one last look peak through the looking glass.

So how did I do on my 2013 goals? Some hits and some misses.

Of the three books I wanted to finish and submit, two crossed the finish line and are at publishers (Baen and Musa). Fingers crossed, and hopefully announcements soon. I had to slow down on writing the third novel to do a bit more research and try that outline thing with it. My new goal for Schrodinger Effect is to have the first draft done by the end of the first quarter 2014 (March 30, 2014), and have a final product by ThrillerFest in July. Unexpectedly, Musa Publishing included me in their cookbook of recipes in November, 2013.

I'm a few weeks away from my law firm's first anniversary. Being a solo practitioner has been an experience.  I'll blog more about this in the next week or so.

Not everything was sunshine and happiness in 2013. In fact, the second half of the year was marked with loss. Cancer took my second mom, Phyllis Hussey, in June. Three of our four cats moved on. I was down for two weeks with a nasty stomach virus. My Dad had another stroke and his Lewy Body Dementia has been getting worse.

On the, can't anything go right? page, was the call I received from my bank on Black Friday letting me know of suspicious activity on my debit card. Needless to say, I wasn't the person buying 5K worth of Apple products, $350 at Radio Shack, Facebook credits, a Match.com membership and pizza at Papa John's. I think I'm most offended by the fact the hacker bought pizza and dating with my money. Match refunded the money immediately. Radio Shack took about two weeks to refund $299.99 (I guess they didn't credit the shipping). I'm still waiting for Apple to do something. Needless to say, the unexpected drain on my finances changed our holiday plans a bit.

The upshot is 2013 is over, and I have a brand new year to look forward to.

What's on the horizon for 2014?

I'm waiting to hear back on the two novels I've submitted. I'll definitely have at least one new book out in 2014!

I've been accepted as a co-author on Sandra Yancey and the EWomen Network's new project. When I saw the proposed title, I felt it fairly aptly summarized my life. Succeeding Through Doubt, Fear & Crisis will be a cutting-edge multimedia book with embedded audio and video (available on iPad  and other digital platforms) and traditional print book. The expected publication date is August, 2014 for the annual meeting. I'll keep you updated on the progress.

My conference schedule is pretty full.

I'm getting ready for Superstars Writing Seminar in Colorado Springs. I've written a lot about Superstars on this blog. Since I'm 'sure your tired of hearing me rave about it, let me direct you to Brad Torgersen's and Nathan Barra's fabulous posts on how Superstars changed, well, everything, with their writing careers. Really, folks, this is a must attend seminar.


April will bring the American Bankruptcy Institute annual conference in DC. (Yes, I know, that's the boring lawyer stuff. But since the conference lasts 3 days, I figured it deserved a mention). Balticon in May (Memorial Weekend) is on the list. I'm hoping to attend ThrillerFest in July. August will see me at the EWomen Network conference and book launch for Succeeding Through Doubt, Fear & Crisis DragonCon in September (Labor Day Weekend) is a possibility. World Fantasy is in DC in October and I already have my tickets.

We've started on some necessary home repairs, and have some family time planned. Overall, I'm looking forward to 2014.

What's my number 1 goal for 2014?

In the words of James Artimus Owen - My goal is to be the kind of person who makes things happen.

Draw out those dragons!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Warm up for winter

Hopefully, all of you are safe and warm as winter storms ravage the U.S. To help pass those cold winter nights, please check out: 
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