More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

My first speech

Embroidered tallit bagMy first public speech was at my bar mitzvah. I was decked out in my new green suit and tie (remember, this was the 1970s) with my talit and a kipah my mom embroidered for me. Although I was shy, I felt comfortable standing on the bimah in front of family and friends. I had worked hard for the opportunity to give this speech, and I had something important to say.

My bar mitzvah was the day before Mother’s Day. Mom had spent nearly two years raising my brother and me as a single mom, and she had sacrificed so that I could have a Jewish education. I wanted to take that opportunity to thank her and share other things I believe.

There would be other speeches to come, most better written and organized. But it all began at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, California.

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See me at the Muzeo

This month, I will be speaking about my book Mastering Table Topics.

On May 24 at 6:00 p.m., I will be at the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim, California. In my presentation, I will provide tips on public speaking, show how to answer questions in different situations, and give audience members the chance to practice their speaking skills. Admission is free. Autographed copies of my book will be available for purchase.

Mastering Table Topics has earned five-star reviews on Amazon for providing helpful tips on understanding questions, organizing thoughts, and giving quick and effective answers. Readers can practice using 750 thought-provoking questions on a variety of subjects. It was written for Toastmasters and everyone who wants to refine their impromptu speaking skills.

If you’re in Orange County, come and see me on May 24 at Muzeo at 241 S. Anaheim Blvd. in Anaheim.

The joy of primary sources

Amiga World Magazine and floppy diskIf you’ve done research, you’re familiar with primary sources. Reading first-hand accounts, viewing artifacts, and visiting the places you write about can help you bring a story to life.

As I cleaned out our garage recently, I came across some of my old Amiga stuff. One was an issue of Amiga World magazine that published a review I wrote in 1988. I also found some of my old data disks, including one we used to plan our wedding.

The find had some practical benefits. The magazine ads answered a question I had about the price of 3.5-inch floppy disks. (You can buy a 64-GB USB drive for less than the price of a box of 10 floppy disks, and this is without adjusting for inflation.) It also jogged my memory, reminding me of programs I used and things I had forgotten.

The greatest benefit was the emotions it stirred.

Being able to pick up and touch artifacts from 30 years ago reconnected me to the Amiga. I found myself immersed again in a world I was a part of. Recapturing those emotions and memories can help me recreate them in my novel.

The joy of primary sources is how they make you part of the story. You live in it and instead of just writing about it.

Getting out of your own way

I started going to the gym for the first time in years. I go in the morning before work. Some adjustments needed to be made. I gave up on recording the late night talk shows and watching them the next morning. And there are the public showers, something I haven’t used since high school. I’m still not fully comfortable walking around naked with other adult men, but the sight no longer jars me. (Being nearsighted helps.)

One thing I’ve had to struggle with is the negative self-talk that fills my head. I know others struggle with this too. Here are some of the ways I’m working through my negative self-talk.

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The story behind the tweet

My tweet didn’t break the Internet, but it may have left a scratch. Like any tweet, there’s more to be said than what fits in 280 characters. There’s a history behind it, and it goes back to the late 1970s when I was the same age as today’s Stoneman Douglas students. This was when the so-called Moral Majority got its start. And back then, I knew there was something wrong with it.

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