Word For Word—7/14/06
I looked in the mirror a few days ago and discovered, finally, I had
Trixie Belden hair.
If you have to ask who Trixie Belden is, oh my!, but you’ve missed a
wonderful segment of your formative years. A less-famous, but
equally compelling counterpart to Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden solved
mysteries in old mansions, creepy gatehouses and in such
incongruously-named hamlets as Happy Valley. While Nancy Drew was
adventurous, she always had a slightly proper tinge to her. Not
Trixie Belden. Trixie Belden had a temper, rarely did what she was
told and displayed a quality that young girls so desperately needed
for a role model in the 1950s. Trixie Belden was spunky.
The covers of a Trixie Belden mystery were always glossy, colorful
and eye-catching. (All books published by the Whitman Publishing
Company of Racine Wisconsin had that quality—if you’ve never seen
one, visit a Half Price Book Store, www.halfpricebooks.com, where an
entire corner of their store is devoted to old books). And the one
thing that most caught this young girl’s eye was Trixie’s hair.
Short, blonde and wispy, it feathered her face in an appealing,
upbeat way. It just looked like hair a young girl detective would
My thick brown hair that spread out like a Chia Pet at the first
sign of humidity was the antithesis of what I saw on the cover of
Trixie’s books. All those things we did to our hair five decades
ago—rolling, ratting, spraying, curling, lifting, teasing—none of it
did any good. My hair had a mind of its own and it never seemed to
think the way I thought.
So, imagine my surprise when I passed the mirror a few days ago—a
sticky July afternoon—and noticed perky wisps of hair feathering my
face. Sure, they were gray, not blonde, but besides that, staring
back at me was a senior Trixie Belden. And the irony was, all I’d
done was shower, towel dried my hair and ran my fingers through it,
never once thinking “Gee, maybe today it’ll look like Trixie
Belden’s.” Yes, in an instant, staring in the mirror, I was
transported back to the cover of a halter-topped Trixie in denim
shorts carrying hedge clippers and a shovel as she fearlessly went
forward to solve the gatehouse mystery. Whoever said that childhood
is only a thought away had it right on target.
Many times even when you don’t half try, something comes along out
of the blue. It could be Trixie Belden hair, a call from a friend
you thought was lost to you or an email from an editor you contacted
so long ago you don’t even remember. These are the moments that tend
to stand out in our lives because we go along in a sort of humdrum
way and then something pulls us up short and reminds us that good
things—just like bad things—tend to take us by surprise. Sure,
Trixie Belden hair isn’t much, but it’s something I longed for as an
adolescent—and something I’d long since forgotten, until, behold the
wonder—there is was staring back at me from the mirror.
So, if you’ve had a string of rejections lately for those terrific
verses you just knew would have to sell...if you’ve been feeling
lately that greeting card writing—or any writing for that
matter—just isn’t in the cards...if everyone around you is being
negative and discouraging you to continue...Stop! Walk away from
this column. Look in the mirror.
And while you may not be fortunate enough to see Trixie Belden hair
framing your face (that’s only reserved for a select few of us),
remember...the best things in life are just around the corner.
And that’s my Word for Word.
On April 29th, I spoke at the “Writing Your Passion” 15th Annual
Writer’s Conference in Stoneboro PA. It was a lovely cool morning
driving up to rural Mercer County—I’d accidentally met my son at the
local Sheetz—he was coming from work, I was going to. The church
where the conference was held was exactly where the directions said
it would be (you’d be amazed at some of the directions I get in my
travels) and I slipped it with time to spare.
The keynote speaker was Colleen Coble who is a suspense writer.
Colleen told us all her novels have a deep, abiding sense of nature
in them due, in part, to her Native American heritage. She was an
engaging, lively speaker and very down-to-earth and approachable. To
learn more about Colleen, visit: www.colleencoble.com.
Next, I attended Writing About the Great Outdoors, workshop
conducted by outdoor writer and columnist Don Feigert. Don gave us
tips on breaking into the outdoor writing genre and also generously
shared markets that accepted not only factual outdoor articles, but
“Me and Joe” stories with an outdoor setting.
After attending Don’s workshop, my own two back-to-back workshops
were on call. My first workshop on Greeting Card Writing was
packed—I had double the attendance originally signed up—people
seated around the table, around the walls and literally out the
door. After that workshop, I spoke back-to-back on Book Reviewing.
That session, too, had more people than I’d anticipated (never a bad
problem!) The audience was enthusiastic and engaged. So much so
apparently, I’ve been invited back to speak next year.
After my two sessions, I had a lunch break and then attended a
fascinating session with writer Ellen List entitled “When You Have
To Pitch It”—Pitch it not as in “throw it out,” but pitch it as in
“I have five seconds to get this editor’s attention, so I can’t
babble on like a three-year-old.” Ellen put us through our paces
getting our wordy first drafts pared down...and down...and down. I’m
in the “pare down” writing business myself—and yet Ellen cut and
slashed until I had the most concise five words I’ve ever seen.
The Stationery Show was a cornucopia of sights, sounds and creative
sensations, beginning with our first step into the Jacob Javits
Center, with a billowing display of all the 2006 Louie Award
winners. It proved to me, all over again, how much I love this
industry and how proud I am to be a part of it. Booth after booth
displayed not only the newest and best greeting cards, but gift
wrap, scrapbooking materials, alternate products such as calendars,
magnets, napkins, medallions, place mats, sticky notes—all products
we, as writers, are up for. I met some fabulous people running
exciting new companies and as I sift through the two stuffed
briefcases full of show stuff, I’ll give you a heads up on some of
those companies—even if they don’t currently take freelance
contributions, it’s still your job to know them and understand
what’s new and exciting in the industry you hope to write for.
Please continue to check out our affiliates—as you can see, we’ve
added so many new ones throughout the site. If any of their products
interest you, click the icon on greetingcardwriting.com. While this
site is free to you, it is not without cost to me—not only
monetarily, but time and energy wise. Everything helps and anything
I derive from the posted affiliates is plowed right back into the
July is bustin’ out all over—and here in Western Pennsylvania at
least, it’s bustin’ humidity out everywhere. That and rain. It’s
been said that the two major topics of conversation are sex and the
weather. I find it easier writing about the weather.
Take good care.