The Tragic Toastmasters Travail

So, I’ve been writing seriously (with the goal of publication) for twenty-two years. I recently received my 10th rejection from my favorite publisher. Their head editor recognizes me by sight now, hugs me at conferences, loves my writing, but is still sending those rejections because my platform is small.

This time, she suggested that I start speaking.

Gah! Speaking?

However, within a few days, I got two inquiries about speaking. Hmmm … was the Lord nudging me in a new and terrifying direction?

This is the moment where my terrible travail begins.

If I was going to say yes to speaking, I wanted some training. Therefore, I messaged the local toastmasters chapter in the closest town to us. This is Leavenworth, Washington.

Remember this, it’s important.

The person in charge was welcoming and informative. They shared that they meet at the Leavenworth library every other Tuesday and sent me the schedule for the next meeting. Now, I don’t see very well at night, but of course I forgot this in my eagerness to learn the mystical ways of speaking to an audience. On Tuesday, I set out on an epic journey in my youngest son’s car (he is not quite 16 and we bought it for $300 from his cousin and we are still fixing it up … ie. using zip ties to put the license plate on and scraping off the glue where his cousin stuck a coyote skull to the dash). It was getting dark and spitting rain. The first snow of the year was expected.

I plunged into the darkness, squinting against the blurring of oncoming headlights. I could do this!

After thirty minutes of driving and praying, I finally arrived at the Leavenworth library. There are two rooms. One of them was hosting a city council meeting and the other was hosting a doodling class (which I was of course invited to attend). The librarian (my oldest son’s cross country coach’s wife … yes we live near a small town) gave me a kindly look and googled Leavenworth toastmasters. It was in Leavenworth, Kansas! While making certain that we whispered, she informed me that hapless folks showed up for Leavenworth, Kansas meetings at the Leavenworth Washington library all the time.


I went to the parking lot to get back into Samir (my almost driving son’s car) who is named after this exciting video of a drive with rally racer Samir Thapar (which was apparently a plot by a rival racer) Whatever his rival’s intent, this clip only makes my sons’ admiration for Samir Thapar grow. I had locked Samir before going into the library … which Scruff and the boys laugh at me for doing. Well, this time, they may have been right to further an anti-car-locking campaign. The keys I had used to drive did not unlock the doors! My coat, my good shoes (I was wearing sandals), my purse were all locked safely inside Samir. It was raining … but I had my book!

So, I walked to my oldest son’s house and knocked on the door. No one answered. However, their house wasn’t locked. I walked inside, calling out. No one answered. I caught sight of Hiccup’s roommate across the house. I called out. No answer. Well, he was probably listening to music. So, I waved my arms. Nothing. I walked closer, both calling out and waving my arms. Closer and closer and closer. He was really enjoying his music, turned around while bopping his head, and screamed!

Yes, a strange woman was in his house.

He recovered and offered me some tea and the chance to use his phone to call Scruffy. I asked Scruff to have Shazam! give him the keys that opened the doors and bring them down. They were playing a boardgame, so I settled in with my book to wait. Hiccup came home, was startled to see his mother, but recovered enough to offer me a glass of cider.

Drinking both tea and cider, I read my book until Ragnar showed up driving Grond (his car is named after that giant flaming battering ram in Lord of the Rings).

“I’m here to bring Mom home.”

“Did you bring the key that opens Samir’s doors?”

“What key?”

So, I hopped into Grond with Ragnar and we stopped at the library to double check the key. The key did not open the doors, however, it did open the trunk!

Ragnar climbed into the trunk, through the back seat, into the front seat, and unlocked the car!

I drove home, in the dark, in the first snowstorm of the year, not in Kansas and not having learned a thing about public speaking.

Although … the favored topic people wanted me to speak on … Humor in Fiction!

Hmmm … should I feel betrayed? You don’t think God was gifting me with more humor than I needed for my wild quest into public speaking … .

No. He wouldn’t … would He?


I promise you a crazed animal, a concussion, and a kiss in every single book...you're welcome!

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