Thursday, August 31, 2006

What's In a Word

The edit of The Rider's Back Book continues with relative smooth sailing. If all goes as planned, it will be finished by the end of the week.

One of the inherent difficulties in writing a book with an expert in the field is the fact that the expert is more familiar with specific terminology than the average bear. When I was working on the Photo Book project, I found myself awash in a sea of technical terminology. In the case of Dr. Warson, this means he can rattle off medical terms with the best of them.

While I was typing up the transcription of his notes, I ran across a few terms with which I was unfamiliar. Even if I think I know what he's saying, I make it a point to double check it.

One of my favorite resources for checking terminology, meanings, and the spelling of words is the One Look Dictionary. It has access to multiple online dictionaries in a variety of fields, including Medicine, Law, Arts, Business, and Science. It has a "reverse dictionary" feature that lets you look up a word to fit a meaning. It also allows you to type in a portion of a word and find correct spelling and usage. It's invaluable.

Most recently, the term in question was "vertical lumbar region." That's what I thought Dr. Warson said, but it didn't really make sense to me. I knew "vertical," "lumbar," and "region" were all spelled correctly, but had never heard of the term. (That's ok, I'd also never heard of "spondylolisthesis" before working on this book...)

I looked, but couldn't find any use of the term anywhere. The best I could come up with was "thoracolumbar region."

I contacted Dr. Warson for clarification -- "Thoracolumbar" it was.

When doing an edit, it is important -- essential -- to make sure that the words used are the correct ones. This means double-checking the spelling of all unfamiliar terms. It also means double-checking the meaning of words that you know are spelled right, but which are used in new and unfamiliar ways.

The words may be coming from the mouth of the expert. But I'm the conduit that they're coming through. I owe it to the book, and to Dr. Warson, to make sure that every one is as correct as I can make it.

Bye, Bye, Bogie...

Yesterday was a bad one here. We had to put our 15 year old dalmatian, Bogie, and our 18 year old cat Vincent to sleep. We've been limping them both along for quite some time. I knew neither of them would make it through the winter. Vincent was our first pet. And Bogie was my favorite dog ever. Sad, sad, sad... But our vet assured me that we'd made the right decision. Neither had been doing well or feeling well for quite a while. It was time. The house sure seems emptier, though...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- Stealing Rides

On occasion this summer, I’ve been helping a friend of mine work with her two young PMU horses. One, a three-year old gelding, is skittish, unpredictable, and very flighty. The other, a four-year old mare, is less uppity – though certainly not without her own quirks.

Earlier this month, I went over on a Friday afternoon, which was to be the first of three days of concentrated training with the mare. She free-lunges pretty well in the round pen, and does passably well with groundwork exercises. The time had come, my friend decided, to get on and ride.

The older I get, the less inclined I am toward the cowboy mentality of getting on a green horse and riding it out. I prefer to be able to place a hefty wager on the probability of no bucking occurring during my time astride. We got the mare tacked up, lunged her a bit to warm her up, and my friend prepared to climb aboard.

“She’s had someone on her before,” she assured me. “Last year. She walked and trotted.”

I didn’t take as much comfort in that as one might think. I asked if she’d done much desensitizing with the mare while she was saddled. No – she hadn’t wanted to “scare” the horse. (I, on the other hand, don’t want to be on a horse that will scare… I prefer to take care of that before committing to the ride.)

We put some empty jugs of laundry detergent on the saddle to clunk along as the mare moved – to get her used to distractions and things that go “bump” in the night. (Clinton likes to use big boat buoys for this part of the training. They don’t damage easily, and they can’t hurt the horse. In my experience, empty jugs of laundry detergent work equally well.)

Predictably, the horse pitched an ugly fit.

“Maybe we won’t be riding her today,” was my friend’s assessment of the situation.

I told her that no amount of money would get me on the horse’s back. While it’s true that we might have been able to climb aboard, sit quietly, maybe even walk a bit, and get off without the mare making a scene, we would have been doing nothing more than stealing rides. When you get on a horse, you should not feel as if you are taking your life in your hands – even if the horse is green.

With a green animal, it’s in your best interests to make sure you prepare it as completely as possible for what is in store when you get on. It should be comfortable with something banging around on its barrel, with the sensation of a flank cinch (if you ride Western), and with movement above its back – where your body will be.

If you have to get on, freeze, and remain as motionless as possible when riding, praying fervently all the while that the equestrian gods will smile upon you and nothing will startle your horse or distract it, your horse isn’t readily accepting you on it’s back. It’s tolerating you – that’s completely different. And much more dangerous.

Take the extra time to desensitize your horse to distractions. Teach it not to be afraid of movement, noise, or weight. Then, when you get on, you’re able to work together as a team, instead of approaching like a thief and stealing rides the horse is not yet ready to give.

Update on "The Rider's Back Book"

The major edit on the book is finished! Yay! Today, I'll work on finishing up the photo edits and making the final decisions on illustrations. With luck, that won't take long. Then all that's left is for a line-by-line "look for the commas" edit, Dr. Warson's approval, compiling the whole shebang, and sending it to the publisher. Exciting stuff!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On Lies and Legislation

Yesterday, the AP released an article about U.S. Representative Katherine Harris speaking on the record to the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. Harris, a Republican who oversaw the 2000 presidential recount as Florida's secretary of state said that the separation of church and state is a lie we have been told, that God chooses our rulers, and that He did not intend America to be a nation of secular laws.

She also said that if Christians are not elected, politicians will "legislate sin," including abortion and gay marriage.

I find it fascinating that our politicians are increasingly knowledgeable about "what God intended." They are also increasingly vocal in telling the masses what they should believe.

Interestingly, Harris is not expected to win the race against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November. For some reason, the issues she wants to talk about (lies and legislating sin, evidently) have been sidelined. Voters seem to be more interested in news of her dealings with a corrupt defense contractor who gave her $32,000 in illegal campaign contributions.

I can listen to both sides of most political arguments. Abortion. Gay marriage. Gun laws. Immigration. Health care. It's not that I don't have an opinion. But I can play Devil's Advocate for issues that I don't believe in, just to explore what the Other Side might be thinking.

I find it difficult, if not impossible, however, to see the Other Side of two issues. One is the mandatory separation of church and state. The other is the unequivocal freedom of the press.

From a very young age, I appreciated the importance of a media unfettered by politics, cash flow, or polemics. "A free press" is the answer to the question, "Who watches the watchers?"

I've also always been proud of the privilege to live in a country that did not govern through religion or dictate what I could, should, or must believe. God created us with free will. It's not any government's right to change that. I don't require my elected officials to legislate my salvation. I just expect them to put their religious money where their mouths are and make every vote count -- Ms. Harris notwithstanding...

Monday, August 28, 2006

What's in a Name

It's amazing how easy names make things. And equally amazing how quickly confusion sets in when a name is incorrect.

While these musings may seem like the most obvious of "duh!" statements, two things happened over the weekend to make me contemplate the Name Game.

The first has to do with an article that my hometown newspaper, The Courier Express ran on Yours Truly. I'm always happy to talk to the press, and even happier when that press is in my hometown -- it gives me all kinds of warm fuzzies. I heard from my parents that the article ran over the weekend (I believe it appeared in Sunday's edition). I also heard from them that they got my maiden name wrong.

Now, if anyone needs to know a person's "unmarried" name, in order to know who the heck they're reading about, and to determine whether or not they know the person in question, it would be people from the subject's home town, wouldntyathink?

I double checked the notes I'd e-mailed to the reporter to verify that I had, in fact, spelled my name correctly. And I had. It wasn't that difficult. Only four letters. L-O-N-G. Oh well...

The second Name Incident that came to my attention happened on Sunday afternoon. I was working on photo editing for The Rider's Back Book when I discovered that the names of the pictures in the thumbnail .jpg images I had did not correspond to the RAW files.

After some frustrating and mostly fruitless searching, I discovered that the photo files were, in fact, THREE folders put together. In essence, each folder started sequentially numbering at 0001. Since they came this way (something I need to discuss with Sir Charles for future projects), I can't rename and renumber them for ease of reference. Which has led to spending significant blocks of time pondering the importance of a name...

Multiple files named "DSC_0035" notwithstanding, the photo edit is going swimmingly. I hope to have most of it finished by the end of Monday. The rest of the week is earmarked for finishing up the edit.

With any luck, by Labor Day weekend, the book will be as finished as I can make it. The only things that remain outstanding are a few model releases (Shouldn't be much of a problem. Besides -- if the models refuse to sign a release, that'll just be one less picture in the book...) and some medical images that are "on their way."

Tune in tomorrow for further updates...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Consumer Relations Stormtroopers

One of the top stories on Yahoo! at the end of Monday was that Snakes on a Plane had disappointing results in its opening weekend. Awwww.... It only grossed $15.3 million. It just eeked past "Talladega Nights," the Will Ferrell vehicle. Given that these two flicks are number 1 and 2, I'd bemoan the state of American cinema -- except it seems that people are staying away in droves. Perhaps there is hope after all...

On a totally unrelated note, I received the following e-mail from a good friend of mine who recently switched from having his website hosted on USA Domains to a far, far less expensive plan with 1 and 1 (about 10 percent of their previous annual costs). Ya gotta love these consumer-relations tactics -- guilt, patriotism, sarcasm, and homophone deficiency:

This is the e-mail that we spoke about last night. I'm afraid I was mistaken when I told you that I thought the guy was probably the person responsible for servicing the account and was upset about losing a commission or something. Upon reading it a second time tonight, I realized that this guy claims to be the "Founder and CEO" of the company (gee, do I feel privileged and honored that a person of such high stature would take the time to chastise and lecture me on my lack of common sense AND patriotism).

Anyway, as you read his letter you will have to once again ask the question "how do people get to such lofty positions without being able to at least use the English language correctly?" Check out his use of the word "to" when I think he meant "too", and also the use of the word "are" when I think he meant "our." Oh well, who am I to speak? I'm cheap!

And here's the infamous e-mail (in its entirety):

Well, you always had the option to downgrade your account but we have not heard from you over these concerns. We offer many hosting plans, starting at $8.95/month. To have taken a downgrade, would have only took a phone call.

I was told by customer service that you got a deal for $44 dollars a year, or $3.66 a month. Well, don't forget that you get what you pay for, and it's not feasible for any USA based hosting company to offer plans at that price and expect to stay in business very long unless they plan to use cheap hardware and very poor bandwidth coupled with overloading servers.

To often customers simply move their hosting with only looking at their pocketbook without *really* looking at the differences of hosting. We built this small business around *quality* but unfortunately Americans would rather take their business to
offshore companies like, who are a German based firm. No wonder our economy is in the shape it's in!

We have kept are prices as low as possible to keep our doors open, and to provide quality services. I'm sorry you don't understand the differences.

Our tech support department will unlock your domain ASAP We thank you for the business you gave us, and we did appreciate your business, but on the contrary, we are not expensive. We are a great value.

Kindest Regards,

Kevin Kwasnik
Founder & CEO
USA Domains, Inc

Back To The Mainland

Our time on the Big Island is over, and we fly home today. I leave here shortly after noon, but because of the 6 hour time difference, I won't get home until Wednesday morning. Then it's time to buckle down and finish the edit that I thought I'd get done here -- and didn't!

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Things I Do for My Books

Continuing Tales from the Hawaiian Beach Shoot

Most of the photo shoot is now behind us. Charles took the photos we needed over the weekend, and has spent his time editing them ever since.

Here we are -- our entire entourage. From left to right: Savannah (moral support and flash holder extraordinaire), Jill (stage mom), the Lovely Rene (our model), Dr. Warson (the human reflector shield), and Charles. This was the first stop, the first location, the first day of shooting.

That had to be one of the most beautiful days of work I've ever done. What fun!

Yesterday, I took some time off to meet up with my friend Sheila Gallien . She's a screenwriter and consultant that I met several years ago when she was a presenter at the Austin Film Festival. She lives about an hour away from Dr. Warson, and it just worked out for us to get together, have a quick lunch, and catch up a bit.

Today we did some shots to illustrate a "typical" neurological exam -- on Dr. Warson's front porch, with the foliage, and the sun, and the waterfall... They came out beautifully.

It appears that I'll be featured in the book as well. In a moment of less than stellar critical thinking, and because no one else volunteered to do it, I said I'd be the "model" for a representational accupuncture shot. Thank heavens Dr. Warson knows what he's doing!

All in all, it's been a real joy. Today we're going to sit here in the airy, sunny, peaceful, tropically bounded kitchen and edit what we've got. Then, tomorrow, it's off to the airport and back home to reality.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Here in Hawaii


I've found a wi-fi signal to piggyback on, and am happy to use it. Charles and I arrived here Wednesday around 7:00 p.m. Hawaiian time. After we got our luggage and met up with our host, we went to Dr. Warson's home and talked until I couldn't stay awake any longer. I'd been up since 3:30 a.m. By the time I got to bed, it was more than 25 hours later. I was beat.

Thursday and Friday were spent travelling all over the island scouting locations for the photo shoot. So many beautiful places to choose from. We've found many "favorites" that will do nicely for the shoot this weekend.

I've gone over the photo list and flagged the photos we need. With any luck, the shoot will progress as smoothly as the one in Dallas, and we'll have more than enough suitable pictures to choose from to illustrate the book.

We've been having great fun taking in the spectacular scenery of the island. At one of the spots we visited Friday, Charles said that he could happily sit all day with a camera looking for one perfect shot. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he came back someday and allowed himself the luxury of doing just that.

Though we are in Paradise, enjoying each other's company, and having fun working on the book, the whole experience has given me a new appreciation for finding the right locations for an image. It's not as easy as it might seem at first blush. There are many factors -- ease of access, direction, available light, permission to shoot, vertical and horizontal sight lines, interfering structures and wires, and probability of people present, for instance -- to take into consideration. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Heading for Hawaii

The blog will go on hiatus for a week while I'm in Hawaii working the photo shoot for Dr. Warson's "Rider's Back Book." Today is full of the frenzied last-minute running around and tying up loose ends that always accompany a major trip.

If internet connections permit, I'll post updates. But with no guarantees, I won't try to plan on keeping up with daily posts for the next week or so.

The edit hit a snag -- I discovered a minor "flaw." Blast. It's not insurmountable or unfixable. It's merely a matter of two parts of the book that deal with, essentially, the same sort of information. So both parts will need to be re-read, synthesized, combined, and placed in the right place -- wherever that may be.

I did a booksigning at the Berrien County Fair last night. Always fun. Ran into quite a few people who have heard of "Carol of the Horse," and who had good things to say about it. Can't ask for more than that!


Monday, August 14, 2006


You never know what will be the next great idea. Last night, I awoke at 3:00 in the morning and couldn't go back to sleep again. Prayed for awhile (I know there's fighting in the Middle East, typhoons in China, dead water in the Pacific, and children starving in Darfur, God. But I can't do anything about that. So, while my concerns kind of pale in contrast to those, they're still my concerns. Just in case you needed some reminding of what's going on here in my little corner of southwest Michigan....). Still couldn't sleep. So I decided to put my mind to work on some issues that needed fresh ideas.

Bam! Right off the bat, I had three great ideas for marketing the skills and products of three different clients of mine. And one good idea for marketing Geoff's book. They were so good and so novel that I wrote them down... in the dark... hoping I'd be able to make heads and tails out of my scribbling in the morning.

When brainstorms strike, it's best to write them down. You can always look back on them in the harsh light of day and evaluate whether or not you think they were as brilliant as when they first occured. But if you don't write them out as they come, often, they slip away -- never to return.

There's something to be said for setting your mind to work on a problem when it's in a different attitude than normal -- when it's a little sleepy, or distracted, or when there's contemplative music playing, or you're engaged in some unrelated physical activity. (I highly recommend stall cleaning for jump-starting one's creativity. It's an unparalleled activity for brainstorms.)

In Orlando, at the MEGA Book Marketing University, Jean Houston had us do an exercise in which we focused on each of our 5 senses, one at a time. "Can you smell fresh cinnamon cookies?" she asked. "Now, smell wet dog... How about lilacs in springtime... Now, smell the sea..."

Evoking scents, sounds, sensations, sights, and tastes was a controlled way to jump start our creativity. Once we'd "awoken" our senses, she suggested that we "drop in" a creative problem that we'd been wrestling with. Our awakened senses provided mental "hooks" that could snag portions of the problem and lead to previously unthought of possibilities.

It's an interesting exercise. And I have to say that it can be quite effective in opening new channels of thinking about a problem that has previously been considered "done to death." Of course, so can lying awake at 3:30 a.m. -- as long as you've got something nearby to scribble down the resulting brainstorms in the dark.

"Carol of the Horse" News

My good friend Wendy Demarest who owns and operates Gilead Elder Care, will have a booth featuring her elder care homes at the Berrien County Youth Fair. She has agreed to let us feature "Carol of the Horse" at her booth.

The idea just occured to me this afternoon. (It was not one of the 3:30 a.m. gems...) Anything that brings people to your booth at the Fair is a Good Thing. Plus, people with small children and grandchildren are the same people who are in a position of deciding what to do with their aging parents. It's a perfect complement to their target demographics.

When I brought up the idea to Wendy, she was more than happy to let us feature the book at her booth. Friends are golden.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tales from the Editing Trenches

Today the edit of the "Rider's Back Book" continues. It's going quite well. Dr. Warson has made a few additions to the original rough draft text, and I'm working those in, too. I hope to have it finished by the end of the day. Then I can send him a copy in case he has the time to look it over before Charles and I arrive next week.

This edit is fairly benign. Every so often, there's a turn of phrase that needs cleaning up, or a misspelling that slipped through. (My favorite so far, when talking about what to expect from a neurological exam: "Wrist and grip strength may be testes." Should have been "tested." Much less funny, though...) For the most part, however, there isn't a great deal of rewriting needed.

While on the one hand, this is great, on the other hand, it's easy to lapse into semi-somnolence when reading relatively clean text. For some reason, it's easier to catch mistakes when there are a lot of them. When entire pages go by without any significant errors or required changes, it's easy to lose focus.

Frequent coffee breaks (followed by frequent bathroom breaks) are the answer. Getting up, getting my legs moving, and taking my eyes off the printed page for a short while helps keep the editorial edge.

It's always most difficult editing one's own writing. I know what I meant to say. So, often, my brain just allows my eyes to see what should be on the page.

When the final galley proof comes in, I'll go over the project with a fine-toothed comb. I'll also read it backwards. That's one of the most effective ways to catch errors without getting caught up in the natural flow of the text and substituting words that should be there for the words that actually exist.

For now, I'll just keep plugging away with the initial edit. Listen for the party music when it's finished!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thoughts on Terrorist Plots

It's not without a certain amount of trepidation that I watch the unfolding news of the terrorist plot to blow up airplanes bound from Heathrow to the U.S. using liquid explosives disguised as everyday objects like drinks, shampoo, conditioner, and other benign things. With the amount of flying I've been doing lately, the thought that someone would willingly get on a plane with the sole purpose of blasting it into oblivion just creeps me out.

As a writer, I should be able to put myself in the mindset of any number of other people with goals, experiences, and motivations different from my own. But I cannot understand the motivation behind a suicide terrorist. I'm not sure I'd even want to.

Terrorist , John Updike's newest novel, does just that -- it gets inside the head of someone bent on causing death and destruction. Updike is arguably one of the greatest living American authors. Perhaps one of the reasons why is because he's not afraid to delve into the sorts of questions most of us shrink from.

I wonder why those who are urged to give their lives for a "glorious cause" never stop to question why their leaders don't lead by example. By definition, that which we cannot understand scares us -- hence my healthy fear of people who want to blow up planes on which they are passengers. Completely foreign territory...

As I board the plane to fly to Hawaii next Wednesday, I'll try to push such thoughts firmly from my mind. No telling yet how successful that will be...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- Standing in the Wings

Regular readers may remember a post on June 28 about Brigadier, affectionately known as Buford. Brigadier is a Kansas-born horse with international talent. The post told about his upcoming appearance at a show in Verden, Germany, competing against some of the best and boldest in the world.

Here he is, in the ring:

I heard from Cecelia with an update. (Buford is her trainer's horse. She takes clinics from David Wightman, the rider.)

Bufford did pretty well over there. The first day he was a little tense and didn't do the flying changes very well but was still 25th out of 36 horses with a score of 6.70.

The second day in the small final he was very good and placed 9th with a score of 7.26. He was the highest placed American horse! There were lots of nice comments from everyone who was there watching. It was HUGE show....all the best riders were there including Isabell Werth.

I am so proud of him and David! I want to thank everyone for their help and support! The next step will be Kentucky for him and then home for a well deserved break.

I don't know the horse, his trainer, or his rider, but I know Cecelia. And being able to stand in the wings and watch an international contender take shape is quite an honor.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Love Concerts"

So... Last week I worked dilligently for a few days typing up the manuscript for my friend Sharie's brand new book. I'm very proud of her. She took my advice (I love when people do that) and wrote an e-book -- start to finish -- in less than two weeks. And it's not bad.

I'm planning to host a two-day workshop later this fall, showing people how they can do the same thing. Sharie is going to be one of my success stories. I've told her for years she needed to write a book. Now she knows she can. She's already planning her next one.

Since she's appearing at the International Gospel Music Fan Fest in Tennessee, she wanted to be able to take the book with her and make it available to people. So I hurried. Which means I worked a little faster than I normally do. Which never bodes well.

I finished typing the document on Wednesday night. I did a too-quick-for-words proof, Robert made it into a .pdf file, and we took it to Conard's place. I prayed that I'd done a thorough enough job.

But no... We were looking at the last page -- a short bio of Sharie and a listing of her various project. The opening sentence was to tell about Sharie's appearances on television, radio, and in live concerts. Sharie looked at it and asked, "What are 'love concerts?'"


"Love concerts," of course, rendered the whole .pdf flawed and unusable. So I went back to the file and gave it a good proofing. It's a good thing I did, too. I found a few other, minor little flaws. But I was ultimately able to do a better, more thorough job. And that's always good.

It's quite possible that a few glitches got past me. But at least there are no "love concerts" in Sharie's performances any more!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Going Live

My good friend Sharie Conard is a featured performer at the International Gospel Music Fan Fest in Columbia, TN next week. TCT Broadcast Network will air six live shows.

Singing. Live, onstage, in front of thousands and broadcast to millions. Sharie can't wait. I'd be OK speaking... but singing -- no, thank you!

Going live -- giving others the chance to see you in all your flawed glory. And, in this culture, that means opening yourself up to the inevitable criticism, glitches, snafus, and snags that crop up in any endeavor. Not for the faint of heart.

The online newsletter I've been working on for the past month is done. It's a demo version -- only available to the select few who have agreed to help me test it. My editor, however, opted in to see the demo... and never got it.

We've been trying to see if her spam filter is working overtime, or if there's another reason for the glitch. I was hoping to take the newsletter live this week. But there's no point in going live until the demo works.

In the past month, my wonderful husband has designed, tweaked, and posted online two full, functional websites.

One, Muse Ink, is a site for writers and experts who want to be writers. It offers coaching and consulting services, writer's workshop and seminar leadership, and free articles on writing. Eventually it will also offer mp3 downloads on various relevant topics and educational products to help writers get their words out.

The other is a site for my illustrated children's book Carol of the Horse. It introduces the project, plays the introduction to the song that accompanies the book, tells a little bit about each of the principal people involved, and includes ordering information. I think he really outdid himself with the site -- it's gorgeous!

Taking both sites live was nervewracking, though. These are pages that present aspects of me to the world. God forbid that there should be a typo on a page offering help to writers! Or that there's a glitch in the ordering process! Or that a programming hiccup makes a 14 inch right margin with all the text squished unreadably into a quarter-inch strip on the left hand side...

One of the most valuable lessons I've learned this year is: It's not about Perfection. It's about Progress.

If you wait until something is perfect, it will never get done. Nothing will ever be so good that it can't be improved. Often, however, taking something live will illuminate what needs improving in ways that simply working on it alone will never bring to light.

For good or for ill, both sites are live now. I'm proud of them and of my husband. He did a great job. If you visit them and find a mistake, accept my apologies in advance. Then tell me what you've found and I'll fix it. I keep reminding myself: Progress -- not perfection.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Coaching's Catch-22

I have my monthly coaching session with Stephanie today. She's used to coaching high-powered, get-things-done business execs.

I fear that my business, with conversation starters like Guess what? I've got to go to Hawaii, and then it's off to Canada. Totally unexpected. Couldn't be helped. Got nothing done on last month's To-Do list, but accomplished these completely different things instead... would normally fly too low to register on her radar. But she's great. She's supportive. And when I do what she suggests, I feel that I accomplish much more.

The problem is -- good coaching is expensive. It also takes time. A negative cash flow often inhibits coaching. So does a jam-packed calendar. But people who desire to make more money, to free up more time, and to move up to the next level in their field are the ones who need coaching the most.

I often find myself on the other end of the Coaching Catch-22 when I help writers with their projects. Sometimes a simple, targeted 15 or 20 minute phone consultation would clarify their issues, illuminate some of their recurring weaknesses, and clear the way for them to finish -- or polish -- their work. But the money / time snag is always there, ready to trip people up and hold them back.

Stephanie is not inexpensive. But my dreams are not small, either. I've seen what she can do to help push me to bring my dreams into reality. So today I'll sidestep the Coaching Catch-22, put my money where my mouth is, and make the time for our consultation.