Sandra Miller-Louden's

Greeting Card Writing Dot Com




Word For Word—4/23/06


An “E” word?  Political hair?  A Q-Tip™?”


“And these are related how?  And, as a matter of fact, what are the first two?”


March 28th started like any other writing day.  I woke up, made a cup of tea, said good morning to the cats and turned on the computer to settle in for a day’s work.  Awaiting me was an email with an “OPEN ASAP” subject line.  Since it was from a writing colleague—instead of the usual “urgent” message from the widow of a former ambassador wishing to deposit $25 million in my bank account—I did, indeed, open it.


There was a women’s business conference at our Westin Convention Center sponsored by Seton Hill University’s E-magnify® entitled “This Way Up Building A World-Class Business.”  There would be workshops, a nice lunch, plenty of chances to exchange business cards; my friend wrote there had been a cancellation and would I be interested in attending?  I would have to be there in under three hours.


Overcoming my aversion to hastily-scheduled events, not to mention my innate misgivings about navigating in downtown Pittsburgh at noon while trying to find parking that wouldn’t cause me to take a second mortgage on my home, I emailed her it was a go.  I printed some business cards, printed driving directions, said a tiny prayer and jumped in the shower.


Even though it took me seven minutes to get downtown and, once there, another 20 minutes to find a place to park, I scooted into the luncheon just in time to hear the director of the conference, Jayne H. Huston, begin her speech.  Jayne touched upon many interesting, vital topics.  Yet, now, a month later, I remember only one thing.


Seton Hill University had previously come up with an accurate, well-defined name for their Women in Business program.  They even had a website.  Problem was, the name was so accurate and so well-defined, no one could remember it.  Instead, their nickname (as it were)—“E-magnify®”—was what everyone instantly knew...and more to the point, remembered.


“We finally wised up and gave in,” Jayne admitted.  “So from now on, we’re “E-magnify®.”  (And you can learn more about Seton Hill’s new identity at:


Next, Jayne introduced the keynote speaker, Marie C. Wilson, co-creator of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work® Day.  Marie, too, touched upon many interesting, vital topics.  Yet, now, a month later, I remember only one thing.


Marie C. Wilson, by her own admission, is blessed with political hair.  If one is blessed with political hair, you can shake it, squeeze it, ruffle it in all directions with your fingers...doesn’t matter. It automatically springs back into place as if you stepped out of a hatband box. (I can vouch for this because Marie demonstrated just how flexible political hair really is).  With political hair, your appearance at a 10 PM fundraiser is as fresh and pristine as was your earlier 7:00 AM breakfast with trustees of the local college.


After lunch, we broke up into individual seminars.  The co-speakers at the seminar I attended were dynamic, engaging, focused.  They, too, touched upon many interesting, vital topics.  Yet, now, a month later, I remember only one thing.


They advised everyone in the room to tape a Q-Tip™ on the monitor where we worked, so we’d see it everyday, every time we sat down at the computer.  A Q-Tip™?  A simple reminder to Quit Taking It Personally.  Even though it’s a little frayed at both ends from my cats trying to dislodge it with their claws, my very own Quit Taking It Personally reminder stares at me constantly—as I’m answering emails, talking on the phone, deciding how best to deal with a problem.


So, what does this have to do with greeting card writing?  As I’ve told people for almost 20 years, greeting card verses by their very nature are short, succinct, to-the-point, direct messages where every word counts.  There’s no room for fudging in a greeting card verse—no extra verbiage need apply.  People who buy and send our messages, as well as those who receive these personal expressions of love, hope, encouragement and celebration, remember—and cherish—them precisely because of this clarity of expression. 


Just as the general public remembered “E-magnify®” over the longer, more detailed, original name Seton Hill had come up with.  Just as Marie Wilson’s “political hair” observation received the loudest laugh and the longest applause.  Just as the Q-Tip™ reminder was effective due to each initial signifying something deeper.


We remember that which stands out due its simplicity and clearness of meaning.  And if ever anything truly describes the craft of greeting card writing, this is it.


And that’s my Word for Word.


On April 14th, I spoke to a group of University of Wisconsin students for a course they took under Professor Bill Hogue, entitled “Writing: The Real World.”  As usual, these students were bright, witty and it was a joy to talk to them about the writing life.  I put them through their paces with a dozen selected greeting cards; they were only shown the front of the card and based on the outside verse and/or the outside visual, had to come up with the inside concept.  They were enthusiastic and as with all my student audiences, were pleasantly amazed at how much a greeting card writer can make per verse.  At the end, they gave me a spirited Wisconsin round of applause. 


Just one last reminder that April 29th is the “Writing Your Passion” 15th Annual Writer’s Conference in Stoneboro PA.  There’s still time to register for this Mercer County event, so if you’re in the area, contact Gloria Clover, Registrar:   I’m scheduled for a workshop in Book Reviewing and one for Greeting Card Writing. 


As the Stationery Show looms ever closer, I’m starting to finalize travel plans and digging out comfortable shoes for the trek among the booths.  Alexis, my daughter, is bringing her camera, so I hope to have some great photos to share with you on the site.  I’m mapping out my walking route now—hopefully, it won’t be as challenging as finding a parking space in Pittsburgh.


And, at long last, my fourth booklet in the NFBB (No Frills Bare Bones) Series is proofed, galleyed (is that a word?) and ready to spin off the press.  I’ll have Cover Vs. Query Letters: Allies In The Challenge Of Getting Published in my hands and available for shipping by the end of April.   So, those of you for whom I had to backorder the booklet, it’s coming soon...and well worth the wait (if I do say so myself).


Don’t stop checking our affiliates—we’ve tried for several weekends in a row to put up new links, but that seems to be the same time the affiliate coordinator chooses for site maintenance.  We will be adding new links and we also plan to give our affiliates a whole separate section on the site.  We’re in the process of simplifying the home page to give you easier access to our many features.


Going from “the cruellest month” into “the lusty month”...quick!  Do you remember the references?


Take good care.



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