Hollywood Boulevard – Part 2

In Part 1 of Hollywood Boulevard, we covered how George and I ventured to Hollywood and Vine to meet my online writer friend, Cait Reynolds.

I shared photos of some of the sidewalk stars with the names of famous old-time movie stars.

Lynn Kelley, BBH McChiller

While waiting for Cait to arrive at our meet-up spot, my imagination got the best of me as I gazed out the window of  The Pie Hole, intrigued by the assortment of fashion statements and hair styles, the wide range of expressions on some faces and yet others masked with blank stares.

Such a strange mixture of sights in that massive city: towering buildings interspersed with small businesses sporting creepy signs, plus the nonstop noise of traffic battling through mazes of streets, racing to get ahead in the rat race.

Definitely felt displaced and sensed a pinch of paranoia creeping in. Thankfully, Cait and her husband arrived just in time to save my thoughts from plunging into a deep, dark worm hole leading to Planet Nerdout. Whew!

It was awesome to meet Cait in person. She’s an instructor for WANA International, an online hangout for writers founded by social media guru and author, Kristen Lamb.

WANA stands for We Are Not Alone. Writing can be a lonely business, so it’s important to connect with other like-minded beings. Fiction writers can be quirky, with mind-bending ideas that often scare regular folks. Many writers manage to evoke an image of normalcy, so kudos to them. Maybe one day they’ll share their secrets with us.

Cait is friendly, full of spirit, and has a sharp sense of humor. We discussed some of the concepts she had taught in a WANA class a few days prior. Picking the brain of a brilliant creative is like eating a piece of inspiration pie. Boom! The brain explodes with more other-weirldly ideas. (Thank you, Cait!)

How ironic that I had just taken Kristen and Cait’s speculative fiction classes, which included Building Planet X, Populating Planet X, and Beyond Planet X, and now here I was meeting up with Cait in a real-life dystopian setting. No wonder I was on the verge of a panic attack.

In Beyond Planet X, Kristen covered topics such as building parallel timelines, time travel, non-linear, unreliable narrators, and much more.

Kristen Lamb and Cait Reynolds

When they get together, those two are a riot (as in funny, not a mob wreaking havoc on Pandemonium Boulevard).

I’d be willing to bet they’re destined for galactic domination. Check out this short clip:

Part of the description for the Building Planet X class stated, “Is Soylent Green gluten-free? All the questions you need to ask about your world, but didn’t know…and how to keep track of all the answers.”

Soylent Green? Ew, blech, gag! Can’t even imagine what it tastes like or what kind of consistency it would have. Hmm, that might be a great writing prompt challenge, huh?

If the thought of eating that slimy green concoction grosses you out, let’s change the subject to more appealing food. The Pie Hole’s Earl Grey Tea pie is to die for, and their pumpkin pie is spicy, zesty, and scrumptious. Mm-mmm.

Oops! My mind is wandering again, so I think I’ll go along. Wanna come, too?

How do you think old-time movie stars would react to present-day Hollywood if they were beamed through time and landed on the giant X in the middle of a Hollywood intersection?

Would they freak, or would they be fascinated? Or something else?

What are your thoughts? Do you like speculative fiction? If so, what kind? Would you enjoy hanging out on Hollywood Boulevard? Do you like pie? I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Authorly Stuff, BBH McChiller, Friends, Grammy Gets It, Lynn Kelley, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stars on Hollywood Boulevard – Part 1

Have you ever walked down Hollywood Boulevard?

Lynn Kelley, BBH McChiller

The other day, my husband George and I ventured out to Hollywood to meet up with one of my online writer friends, Cait Reynolds. She lives in Boston, and I was looking forward to meeting her in person.

While stopped at a traffic light at Highland and Hollywood, I noticed the intersection had diagonal crosswalks. There’s a giant X painted onto the street. Are you familiar with that kind of crosswalk? Maybe I’ve been living under a rock?

You wouldn’t believe the crowd of people who had crossed the street before I snapped this photo. It was wild to watch them crossing diagonally and how they had to maneuver around each other when they merged in the middle of the X.

Honestly, I felt like I was thrust into one of the dystopian novels I’m a fan of. Neat to read that kind of stuff, but I must confess I felt uncomfortable and claustrophobic in this real-life setting.

Lynn Kelley, BBH McChiller

Once we found the public parking structure, we walked along Hollywood Boulevard toward our meet-up spot, The Pie Hole.

It was so cool to see all the stars in the sidewalks. I snapped pics of some of them. This was on the corner of Hollywood and Vine:

Jimmy Stewart! My all-time fave. I love George Bailey, the character he played in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” James Stewart is a legend.

And the Apollo XI astronauts! Wow, out-of-this-world thrilling to see their names inscribed in the sidewalk and preserved for future generations to discover.

George and I got a kick out of the sidewalk stars, though there were many names we’d never heard of. It reminded us of the Kinks’ beautiful and poignant song, “Celluloid Heroes.” Man oh man, it evokes so many emotions. Actually, brings me to tears.

Are you familiar with it?

Here are more stars of old-time favorites:

Once George and I settled in at The Pie Hole to wait for Cait to arrive, I spotted Capitol Records in the distance:

George reminisced about his teenage days when his friends and he liked to hang out on Hollywood Boulevard. People passed out copies of the Free Press, and he said it was kind of like the Haight-Ashbury of L.A.

Hmm, married for 42 years and I never knew that about him.

Looking out the window from my seat, I had a prime view to people watch. Unending characters scrolled past us. Crowds and crowds of people. As I looked closer, I realized each person had a unique look, their own distinct vibe, and I’m sure if I sat down with each one, their life stories would move me. I reflected on how easy it is to get lost in the shuffle of humanity in a big city and a world full of billions of souls.

My muse was having a field day messin’ with me.  Thankfully, Cait Reynolds arrived and yanked me back to the third dimension.

Tomorrow, in Part 2, I’ll share more about my adventure on Planetoid Hollywood.

What are your thoughts? Have you walked down Hollywood Boulevard? If not, would you dare to? Does your imagination sometimes get the best of you? I’d love to hear from you. Please share! 



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WWF Fans – Get Superstar Figurines at the Dollar Tree!

Attention: WWF fans, heads up!

Lynn Kelley, BBH McChiller

There are four WWF collector superstar figurines: John Cena, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, and Undertaker for sale at the Dollar Tree.

Lynn Kelley, BBH McChiller

My husband spotted them and grabbed one of each for our son, who happens to be a big WWF fan and also a collector. What a great find, huh? If you’re a World Wrestling Federation fan, too, you might want to hurry to your local store before they sell out.

If you happen to be a WWF fan, which superstar is your all-time favorite? I’d love to know.

The holidays are right around the bend and these small figurines would make great stocking stuffers for big or little WWF fans.

Just thought I’d share these little gems with you guys in case you’re interested.

Sorry I’ve been MIA these past couple months. I’ve been in a funk. I’m not really sure why. Maybe witnessing my aging parents’ health decline? I’m thankful both are still with us, but it’s rough to see the toll taking care of  my father (he has Alzheimer’s) is taking my mother.

Also, seeing the state of confusion my father is constantly in, this once brilliant mind, now questioning the reality of every moment is a heart breaker. His short term memory is bad, but thankfully he still recognizes us. He’s still witty on the spot when responding to certain comments. And then those thoughts are lost. Yes, definitely why I’ve been in a funk.

Lynn Kelley, BBH McChiller

Mom in her new swimsuit. She hadn’t gone swimming in years, but rediscovered how much fun it is. I cropped the photo, because she’d kill me if I shared a pic of her in a swimsuit!

Lynn Kelley, BBH McChiller

My dad in plaid.

However, I hope to keep up with blogging more regularly, though. It’s important to preserve precious family memories and also share some of the wonders of our world with you. And a bargain or two when we find them! Life is hard but, oh, so good.

How have you been? Yes, I do care, so please let me know. If you only knew how excited I get when someone leaves a comment. I guess I’m easily pleased, but interacting with real folks, even if it’s via cyberspace, is pretty amazing, don’t you think? After all, we’re all in this together, right? Life here on Planet Earth, that is. 🙂

Wishing you a beautiful day!




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It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, Mateys!

Here’s the scuttlebutt, scallywags: Today be Talk Like a Pirate Day! Yarr!

Meet Pirate Limber-Jack.

Me latest video features a Limber-Jack dancin’ toy. It’s believed this charming toy originated in the old country of Ireland. Immigrants brought their Limber-Jacks with them to America.

My poor Limber-Jack was stark naked when I bought him.

Lynn Kelley, BBH McChiller

So, I dressed him up for Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Lynn Kelley, BBH McChiller, Talk Like a Pirate Day

It’s obvious in the video that I need a lot more practice hitting the board for my Limber-Jack to have better rhythm. I’m working on it!

For more pirate talk fun, check out my blog post from 2013.

If you’re interested in meeting Vlad, a 300-year-old pirate rat with some cool ditties, check out this interview from 2011. Vlad is kids’ favorite character in our Monster Moon adventure series, which is written under the pen name, BBH McChiller.

What are you doing on Talk Like a Pirate Day?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What’s your favorite pirate term? Do you have a favorite pirate joke you’d like to share with us? I’d love to hear from you!


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Summer Storm in South Carolina

Do you enjoy watching a summer storm?

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Summer Storm in South Carolina

Silhouettes of the trees during a flicker of heat lightning.

I don’t mean from behind the steering wheel on the freeway during a torrential downpour. Those are terrifying times. I’m talking about kicking back on a screened-in porch, hanging out with family or friends and enjoying nature’s performance.

I just returned from a fantastic trip. Flew into Atlanta, Georgia June 13th, where my brother and sister-in-law picked me up. They had to drive through heavy, blinding rain.

Meanwhile, my flight was late due to the storm, and when the pilot announced we might have to “divert” I worried about how far the diversion would set me off course.

Fortunately, the Atlanta airport opened up soon after that and we were able to land. Whew!

My brother moved to Georgia 23 years ago, and this was the first time I visited. I didn’t spend much time there, though, because the next morning we left for his lake house in South Carolina.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, South Carolina

Gorgeous South Carolina summer sky

My oldest daughter, April, her husband Bryan, and the kids (Grasshopper and Ninja Doll) drove from North Carolina and met us at the lake house on Friday.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Summer Storm in South Carolina

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Summer Storm

More relatives joined us for the family gathering: my niece and her husband and nephew and his girlfriend. I hadn’t seen them in years.

We were lucky and had two beautiful days at the lake house with no rain. I’ll cover the water fun in another post.

Saturday night felt like rain, even though there was only a 30% chance. It started with heat lightning in the evening. Spectacular!

The wind blowing through the Carolina pine trees sounded like running water, but it wasn’t raining. The heat lightning entertained us for a couple of hours. Then the sky cracked opened and released a downpour.

We sat on the screen porch and the wind blew the rain in. Felt like a misty breeze. Delightful! I loved the way the tension and momentum of the storm built up, just like a good novel!

Here’s a three-minute video with some of the highlights. I changed a couple of clips of lightning flickers to slow motion and ended the video with a freeze-frame finale.

This was a late night storm, but well worth staying up for.

After a while, April announced, “Here’s a song dedicated to my uncle.” Prince’s “Purple Rain” set the tone for a great lineup of songs about storms.

By 2:00 a.m., my brother was ready to call it a night, but April kept asking him questions and Bryan kept the music going.

“Riders On The Storm” by The Doors was perfect!

I enjoyed hearing the oldie “Rain on the Roof” by the Lovin’ Spoonful, but my favorite song of the night was Thunder by Imagine Dragons.

Since I live in California, a summer storm like this one is rare. I’ll never forget the great time we had riding it out this South Carolina summer storm while rocking out to good music.

The heart of man is very much like the sea. It has its storms, it has its tides, and in its depths it has its pearls, too.

~Vincent Van Gogh

What are your thoughts? What’s your favorite song about stormy weather? Do you enjoy watching summer storms? I’d love to hear from you!

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Learn a New Card Game – 99 – Fun and Easy!

Do you know how to play the card game 99?

Why should you learn a new game? For one thing, games are fun, but another reason is, studies show learning new skills helps improve our brains.

“A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported there are leisure activities that can help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.

To name a few:

  • Reading,
  • Playing board games
  • Learning a musical instrument
  • Dancing.

Although these seniors had various issues, from sleep deprivation, Alzheimer’s, a critical illness (just had a chemo infusion) and a bad case of dingbat-itis, they enjoyed this super fun card game.

The video starts with an open hand demonstration. 99 is a great game for brushing up on adding, subtracting, and paying attention, mindfulness.

Each player is dealt three cards. Once a card is played, the player picks up a new card from the center pile.

Everyone has a copy of the cheat sheet (below) next to them to refer to while playing. Thanks to using the cheat sheet, my father is able to play a game like this, despite having Alzheimer’s. He’s been playing this for years and never needed the cheat sheet before memory problems started.

Take a screen shot so you can print it out.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Card Game 99

Each player starts out with three quarters or three dollars bills if you’re a big gambler. Haha! If you’re out of quarters, use pennies, buttons, or whatever you’d like. You get the gist.

If someone is unable to play a card, they lose one quarter, and that is the end of that round. The next person deals the new hand.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Card Game 99

When a player loses all three quarters, they’re out of the game. The remaining players continue to play until only one player has a quarter left and the others have lost all of theirs.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Card Game 99

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Card Game 99

The cheat sheets sure come in handy!

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Card Game 99

Watch the video and see if you notice our mistakes. No biggie. It’s a very kick-back game. I hope you enjoy hours of fun.

Related post: Fun Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

What are your thoughts? Do you like to play card games and board games? What’s your favorite if you do? Are you learning a new skill? I’d love to hear from you!


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Just Dance for Xbox – Great Fun – Great Workout

Are you familiar with Just Dance?

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Just Dance

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Just Dance

I love to dance and I need a fun workout. This looks like the perfect game for everyone who feels the same.

“Born This Way” is one of the songs on the 2016 Xbox edition. It’s rated okay for everyone.

It has a Karaoke mode and Sweat Mode and more, but I didn’t get to see how these features work.

You need Kinect to hook it up even though the description states you can use a phone app to control it.

There’s also Just Dance 2017, Just Dance 2018, Just Dance Disney Party.

Available on various platforms:

  • Xbox One
  • Xbox 360
  • Nintendo Wii
  • PlayStation4
  • NintendoWiiU
  • PlayStation 3
  • Nintendo Switch Digital Code
  • Nintendo Switch

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Just Dance

It’s available on Amazon. Here are some links for the Xbox One 2018 and 2016 versions. If you click on them to purchase  it, I will receive a small percentage as an Amazon Affiliate, at no extra cost to you. 🙂

Can you believe we’re into June? Some people are already starting their Christmas shopping, so I think I’ll add Just Dance to my wish list. I won’t learn the moves as fast as my grandkids, but that’s okay. Just moving and getting some cardio exercise is the main thing, not to mention getting my groove on. 🙂

What are your thoughts? Have you heard of Just Dance? Do you think Santa will bring me one this year? 🙂 Do you have Xbox, Nintendo, PlayStation, or Wii? What are your favorite games? I’d love to hear from you!

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Parenting Plights and Delights – Should You Wear Underwear for School Pajama Party?

Today’s post is retrospective. It’s from my archives and is one of my favorite Parenting Plights & Delights stories:

When my nephew Brent was in kindergarten, his class had a Pajama Party on the last day of school. Pancakes would be served. The family was leaving for summer vacation that day, but Brent had been so excited about the party the whole month prior to it that my sister Cindy didn’t want to deprive him of the fun he’d been looking forward to. She decided they’d get a late start on their trip.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Pajama Party

Five-year-old Brent (right) with his brother Kyle and sister Brooke

That morning, Brent bounded into the kitchen in his favorite cartoon jamies. “Got your shoes and socks on? Cindy asked.

“Yep,” he answered.

“Did you brush your teeth?”

“Yes,” he replied, flashing a smile.

“Got your underwear on?” she asked.

“NO! You don’t wear underwear with pajamas.”

“Well, you do if you’re wearing them to school.”

“I’m not going if I have to wear underwear,” Brent insisted, folding his arms as he took a stance. After awhile, he asked, “Do you think the other kids are wearing underwear?”

“I’m sure they will be,” Cindy said. “Do you want me to go around and check each kid?”

“Yes,” he answered, thinking his mother was serious.

Cindy told him to march back into his room and get his underwear on.

“No way,” Brent said. “Mrs. Keimlick said we’re not to wear underwear.”

Cindy could hardly contain her laughter. She knew the teacher would get a kick out of that. “Do you want me to call the other kids’ parents to see if they’re sending their children to school with underwear?”

“Yeah,” he said.

Cindy was going to pretend to call, but then decided to call one mother who was a good friend, just to give her a good chuckle.

“Wendy, this is Cindy. Is Grant wearing underwear under his pajamas today?”

“We’re arguing about that right now,” Wendy said.

Cindy couldn’t believe it. As it turned out, Grant did wear his underwear to school that day, but Brent chose to miss out on a great party rather than wear underwear under his pajamas. So, the family got an early start on their vacation!

What are your thoughts? 

Do you have a parenting or grandparenting memory
or another story you’d like to share? 

If you’re not a parent, aunts and uncles have lots of anecdotes, and memories from your own childhood count, too!


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Feeling Groovy – Hippies – Photo Challenge

Do you know any hippies?

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Hippies

In July 2012 our daughter Amy and her husband threw a hippie-themed party for George’s 60th birthday. These are some of the photos I took, but the best pics were taken by Paparazzi Paul, which you can see in the original post about the party.

This photo of Mike and Barbara is one of my favorites. I love their tie-dye clothes, their headbands, and Barbara’s candy cigarette. They look like real hippies, but they’re regular fun-lovin’ folks.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Hippies

Welcome, Jim and Linda! They went to an upscale thrift store the day of the party and found these cool threads.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Hippies

Paper lanterns hanging from the old plum tree added more color.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Hippies

Friends and relatives of all ages came from near and far to celebrate.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Hippies

Good times! We partied into the night.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Hippies

George’s old-time friends.

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Hippies

Peace out, man!

Lynn Kelley, Grammy Gets It, Hippies

For more far out hippie photos, check out the original post, Trippy Hippie Party – Photo Essay.

This post is part of The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. After seven years of photo challenges, this is the last installment. The theme is All-Time Favorites.

I hope you enjoyed my psychedelic favorites.

When George turned 40 in 1992, I threw the first hippie-themed party, and we got some great video clips of it. For more hippie fun (and ideas to throw your own hippie party), here you go:

What are your thoughts? Do these photos make you dizzy? Do you like parties with themes that make them livelier? Have you ever known a real hippy? I’d love to hear from you! 

Posted in Grammy Gets It, Lynn Kelley, Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest – Part 2 – Learn the Rules

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

International Speech Toastmaster Alifah Ahmad acknowledges speakers with certificates of participation and “Job well Done.” International Speech Contestants: Lisa Wright, Caroline Manning, Richard Snyder, Jacinta Mpalyenkana, and Lynn Kelley – Photo by Ray Robles

In Part 1, I shared the final version of my speech, “Reduce Your Risk of Dementia,” which I delivered at the Toastmasters District 12 contest in Temecula, California on May 12, 2018. Wow, I’ve learned a lot on this journey.

When I participated in the first contest at the club level in February, I had no idea what the entire process involved or what I was getting myself into.

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

Image by Geralt – Pixabay

I now know Toastmasters Speech Contests have various levels, but I didn’t know what they were when I won the Division Competition in April. Here they are:

  • Club
  • Area
  • Division
  • District
  • Quarterfinals (International Speech only)
  • Semifinals (International Speech only)
  • Finals (World Championship of Public Speaking)

Here are the various contests held by Toastmasters:

  • Table Topics – Speaking-off-the-cuff for one to two minutes.
  • Evaluation – Contestants have from two to three minutes to evaluate a test speaker’s speech.
  • Humorous – An original five-to seven-minute speech.
  • Tall Tales – An original three-to five-minute speech.
  • International – An original speech from five to seven minutes on any topic.
Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

Image: Rawpixel – Pixabay

Toastmasters International’s website states, “The International Speech Contest is the only contest that proceeds beyond the district level to Region Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and the World Championship of Public Speaking.

I didn’t discover that information until a good while after I placed 1st in the division level. I was excited I’d get to compete in the District 12 competition at the Spring Conference, but I had no idea what to expect because I hadn’t attended any Toastmaster conferences up to that point.

My mind raced with questions. During a break at a Toastmaster club meeting, I asked, “What’s after District?”

“Region,” one of my club members said. “Some regions cover more than one state. Maybe even Hawaii.”

Another state? Hawaii?  This could get expensive.

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

Photo credit: Stux – Pixabay

So region was above district. I didn’t see this mentioned in the levels, however, so I have left it out in the above list. What region was I in? I searched the Toastmasters International website for information about the regional contest, but I had no luck and remained clueless about where it would be held.

Looking back, I should have asked more questions, but I didn’t want to seem presumptuous about winning, plus I didn’t want to jinx myself. 🙂

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

Image: Geralt – Pixabay

Avoid making the mistake I made. Ask all the questions you want answers to. If you’re not comfortable asking an experienced Toastmaster, you can go to the Toastmasters International website contact us page. For inquiries about speech contests, send an email to speechcontests@toastmasters dot org.

If you’d rather call and speak to someone in person, here’s the number: +1 720-439-5050.

Or, if you prefer snail mail, here’s the address: Toastmasters International, 9127 South Jamaica Street, Suite 400, Englewood, CO 80112

Although I couldn’t find information about the region competition, I stumbled across a list of some of the rules.

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

Image: Mohamed Hassan – Pixabay

I was floored when I came across this one:

“Twenty-five percent or less of the speech may be devoted to quoting, paraphrasing, or referencing another person’s content. Any quoted, paraphrased, or referenced content must be so identified during the speech presentation.”

Are you kidding? My speech was based on tons of research about Alzheimer’s and dementia for blog posts I had written. Some of the content is common knowledge in my field as a Master Certified Health Coach, but still . . .

I spent two days revising it.  Despite the overhaul, I knew my speech would be questioned since breaking it down to what percentage of the content was from other sources would be difficult.

Okay, so the likelihood of winning was slim, but I felt sharing the important message contained in my speech with about 200 people was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Plus, the experience would prepare me for future competitions.

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

Now that I know the rules, I’ll take care to write contest speeches that are in line with the requirements. My mistake cost me countless hours revising and re-learning the material, which could have easily been avoided if I’d only seen a copy of the rulebook.

Clearly, I have a lot to learn about public speaking and competing in Toastmasters contests. I’m going to cover some of those points in a future post, Part 3, so if you’re new at this, too, perhaps what I learned (and am still learning) will be helpful to you.

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

Image: Geralt – Pixabay

Also, while browsing the Toastmasters.org website, I found information about the International Conference, which will be held in Chicago, Illinois in 2018 from August 22 to the 25th. There was mention of Semifinals, so I surmised there were no regional contests, but the winners of the District level contests continue on to compete in the Semifinals at the 2018 Conference.

What if? What if? What if I did win? How could I afford the expenses of traveling to Chicago and staying at a nice hotel for four or five days?

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

Image: Kalhh – Pixabay

Aha! The rulebook addresses that, too. The travel expenses are paid by Toastmasters International for semifinalists to attend the International Conference. Awesome!

Toastmasters International has more than 352,000 memberships, 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. The International Speech Contest starts out with about 30,000 contestants worldwide, until it’s whittled down to all the district winners.

According to David Carpenter, newly elected District 12 Program Quality Director, “Each district sends a winner. As of right now Toastmasters has 106 districts. Those 106 will be split up into 10 semifinals and each winner will compete in the top 10.”

One of those 10 will be crowned the World Champion of Public Speaking at the end of the conference.

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

Image: Geralt – Pixabay

There are some major changes in the works for the 2019 competition.

Distinguished Toast Master (DTM) and 2017-2018 District 12 Director Karen De Vries stated, “Beginning next year, districts will be required to video the winner. The video will be sent to a judging panel as a quarter-final round. Those selected will move on to the semifinals at the International Convention. There still are a number of unanswered questions related to how this new process will work. Likely more information will be discussed at the Convention in August.”

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

Evaluation Contest 1st Place winner, Cindy Carpenter, and International Speech Contest 1st Place winner, Lisa Wright. Photo by Ray Robles

1st Place International Speech Contest winner Lisa Wright will represent District 12  in Chicago, Illinois in August. We’ll be cheering her on.

There are a lot winning Toastmasters speeches on YouTube. Very impressive! In one video, something was mentioned about International Speech Contest finalists needing a different speech other than the one they gave in the semifinals. Say what? *Gulp*

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

They have to come up with a whole new speech? Talk about P-R-E-S-S-U-R-E! One contestant interviewed in the video said he was so busy working on his semifinal speech, he hadn’t had time to finish his second speech. He had until the next day to practice and polish it.

The Speech Contest Rulebook for July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 has the answers to pretty much any questions you might have. And questions you never thought to ask. Well, questions I never thought to ask. You may be more perceptive than I am.

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

Image – Geralt – Pixabay

For instance, the night before the district contest, I was still making changes to my speech after visiting another club to practice one more time and get their suggestions for improvement.  One member suggested I start off with a dance move.

I decided it was a good idea, and maybe clicking my fingers would be a good way to lead into the dance, but if I began the speech by clicking my fingers, would the timer start at that point or would it start when I spoke my first words? Here’s what the rulebook states:

“Timing will begin with the contestant’s first definite verbal or nonverbal communication with the audience.” 

That’s another valuable piece of info.

I left out the finger clicking since it wasn’t worth risking going over the allotted time limit and being disqualified.

Also found in the rulebook pertaining to Humorous Speeches, it states, “The speech must be thematic in nature (opening, body, and close), not a monologue (series of one-liners).”

Aha! The only other speech contest I had participated in was the Area Humorous Contest in 2015, and I placed 2nd. My speech “Funny Things Are Everywhere” had some one-liners and a lot of short anecdotes about friends, family members, and myself. If I understand the rules correctly, the 25%-or-less rule applies to the humorous speeches, too.

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Humorous Speech Contest, despite the nervous jitters that go along with it. Even though I didn’t win 1st Place, it felt great to step out of my comfort zone to share amusing anecdotes and entertain the audience.

In this 2015 video, I’m practicing at my club meeting, preparing for the competition:

I’m still processing all the information I’ve taken in while competing at the various levels of the International competition.

Watching YouTube videos is helpful in becoming familiar with what the finalists go through. I love this one:

Part 2 is worth a watch, too.

Does this clip inspire you? Can’t help but smile while watching it because I can feel the finalists’ anxiety, anticipation, and excitement. It makes me appreciate all the hard work they put into the speeches that got them that far.

For now, my best piece of advice for participating in a Toastmasters Speech Contest is: Learn the Rules.

In Part 3, I’ll cover helpful tips I learned through this process. For instance, handling feedback from other people, how to prepare to compete in the next level, and more.

Lynn Kelley, What to Expect When Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest

Image: Marcoreyesgt – Pixabay

Related post:

Competing in a Toastmasters Speech Contest – Part 3

What are your thoughts? Are you familiar with Toastmasters? Do you like to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone? Do you enjoy speaking in front of people? I’d love to hear from you!

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