Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Just exactly who is that Dixon chick?

A blog virgin
A published author (10 books & 7 anthologies)
A cult leader (GMC-more about that in a moment)
An award-winning quilter (a best-in-show even)
A publishing mogul (CEO of a respected small Southern press)
A glutton for punishment

Why that last? Because I can't say one of the easiest words in the English language. Heck, even a toddler has a better grasp on the word "no" than I have. So, when some pals I adore, respect and admire asked me to come play in their blog sandbox, I said yes. Even knowing I was going to have to scramble to find the time.

Like the rest of working America these days, I've forgotten that very important lesson I first learned as a toddler. If you don't set limits for the folks in your life and learn how to say "no" then you're going to be dragged to every rodeo, zoo and juice bar this side of the Mississippi. Why is it that once we grow up our vocabulary purges "no" and replaces it with "nnn-okay?" When we were two, we were quite uninhibited about the no-ing. Loud even. Our space, our toys, our "me time" was terribly important during the Terrible Twos.

Our "me time" should still be important.

Once when speaking with some writers of Romance Writers of America (I did mention that some of those books are romance, right? And that I've won some really cool recognition and awards like an RT Career Achievement Award for one of my romantic suspense books)...anyway...I once said, "No is a complete sentence." Geez! That was profound--if I do say so myself--and I'm hereby resolving to embrace that concept once more.

Right after I fit blogging into my routine.

And who wouldn't want to blog? To whip up sentiment? To get a few dirty little secrets off my chest? (Don't get me started on shoes and pool boys.) "Oh, the thoughts I could think, and the rights I could wrong," to misquote the Scarecrow. I was seduced by the siren song of unbridled blogging. Then I remembered that unlike a diary there would be actual people reading these thoughts. People who would grill me on my opinions and picadillos and maybe even call my mother to rat me out. My mother hates a good picadillo, not that that ever bothered me before.

(I'm from the South. Embarrassing my mother is something of a hobby, but I digress. The purpose of today's blog is to introduce myself.)

Hello. My name is Debra Dixon. DebraDixon.com I'm not in and have never been in a 12 step program unless you've heard me speak at writers' conferences on the Hero's Journey. In that case, you got me dead-to-rights and I am in a 12 step program--a 12 step plotting program for writers. I'm going to tell you the secret of bonding the readers to your characters and stories...Goal, Motivation, Conflict and the Hero's Journey. I have to credit Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler for gifting writers everywhere with an understanding of the Hero's Journey in story, but the GMC (Goal, Motivation & Conflict) grew out of a workshop I designed to help writers understand how a plot springs from character. GMC is a little nonfiction book I wrote that's now in its seventh printing. Who knew? "Goal, Motivation and Conflict--the building blocks of good fiction." www.GryphonBooksForWriters.com

I love the craft of writing. A good friend once told me that when I found writers, I found my tribe. She got no argument from me. Books have been some of my dearest friends and motivators since before I could tie my own shoes. (My mother wouldn't let me have my own library card until I finally "buckled down" and learned to tie my own shoes. I was adamantly anti-tie. It worked. I refused to be limited by the paltry two books she'd let me check out on her card!)

So, here I am. A fledgling blogger, hoping you'll welcome me as the days and blogs go by. I'll attempt to keep the sarcasm in my blogs to a minimum, but, really, have you seen the world lately? I'll be sharing bits and pieces of myself and my experiences and hoping to hear your perspective as well.

First I'd like to know if any of you are good at saying no? Or do you most often say, "Nn-okay." And then could someone figure out why my blog software spell check has left the building?


Helen Brenna said...

First, Deb, a very heartfelt welcome! And I'm not going to apologize for one second for asking you to blog with us. Well, maybe one, but no more than that!

As for saying no? I didn't used to be able to do that very well, but I've had to figure it out within the last couple years, or literally go insane.

The place I'm always a sucker is with my family. "Mom, can I have a kitty?" "Mom, can I have 20 bucks?" "Honey, can I go on this mountain biking expedition that costs $2,000? Oh, and by the way, I'll be gone for two weeks." (just kidding)

They get me every time.

I guess I have no hard and fast answers for you, Deb. But I will tell you this, now that we have you, we're never letting you go!!!

Betina Krahn said...


Welcome, Deb! You're the best and your intro blog shows why. . . warmth wit, humor. . . oh, and the precious and increasingly rare inability to say "no."

I used to fret over not being able to say no and found myself stretched verrrry thin at times. So I tried saying no to a few things and not only felt lousy about it, I now think I should have said yes a few times I didn't!

Then I met Sister Beverly, a nun with a potent spirituality and a killer sense of humor. She said to me that she almost always says "yes" to things that people ask of her, because she never knows what God is going to send her way and doesn't want to be in the awkward position of saying no to something God really wants her to do. Hmmmmm.

So --without going into an in-depth debate on the ontology and eschatology of that outlook here-- I decided to adopt it. Or at least try it. Each time I'm asked to do something, I remember it and try to let it guide me in decision making.

In short, you never know when saying yes might lead to a great opportunity, a lovely surprise, or a chance to help someone or even the world. Good stuff, all.

So, maybe there's a good reason you outgrew the "NO" phase, Deb! Maybe you're a gift to us and to the rest of the world with your "nn-okay." I know I sure think so. And by golly, I'm celebrating!

Welcome, welcome, welcome!

Anonymous said...

I just would like to say that growing up with Aunt Debi I do believe we heard no sometimes!!! However, it always started with no and then ended up being "ok" or "here is your quilt (still waiting on my 2nd one)." :)

I will say, she did introduce me to the wonderful world of romance books and now I can thank her for giving me false hope in men. They certainly don't live up to the men in romance novels!!

I do admit that I have a cool Aunt and can't wait to read more.

Helen Brenna said...

You come back anytime, dear neice, and give us all the dirt on your sweet ole Aunt Debi!!

Melissa n said...

As I was reading this blog, my toddler (nearly two and already slightly terrible--or at least a minor terror) was screaming "NO!".
As for me, I have the tendency to say "nn-okay" to my family and friends. However, I was proud of myself yesterday because I did say no to going back to my former very stressful job (even though my former boss was really nice about asking).

anne frasier said...

hi deb!!

i tend to avoid going anywhere because i'm so bad at saying no. which is completely spineless of me. i know it's spineless, so that avoidance makes me feel like an even bigger loser. oops. must dash to make an appointment with my therapist.

Debra Dixon said...

Helen-- Oh, yeah. Family just gets a free pass because they know I'm a sucker. You read my niece's post! And she is waiting on her second quilt which is in my quilt studio even as we speak. I'm sure she's thinking, "Why is Aunt Debi out there blogging when I have a quilt that needs finishing???"

Debra Dixon said...

Dear Anonymous (Shelby)--

Your quilt is coming soon. And I didn't give you false hope in men! I just raised the bar. It worked. We like the new one.

Debra Dixon said...


Thank you for the lovely welcome!

I love the nun's mindset. Makes me think of all the times I knew I should have said no but something pulled me to say yes. Why would I get so many opportunities if I wasn't supposed to go for it?? Okay, maybe I'll rethink my rededication to no.

Debra Dixon said...


You have my sympathies and envy. Two-year olds are fabulous and scary all at the same time. I love the way they can be so sweet and melt against you. And I hate the way they always manage to find my face with a nerf ball!

If you check back, give me some reading recommendations for my 2-year-old nephew. He's gone through my tried-and-true favorites so I'm going to have to restock.

And congrats on holding firm about the job! It's hard to do.

Debra Dixon said...


I would pay real money to see you in a therapy session. "No. The dream wasn't dark and steamy. I said dark and stormy."

Candace said...

Welcome, Deb. I'm another one who has a hard time saying, "No." Why else would I be on the Board of the Corvette Club when I don't even drive a 'vette?

Sometimes I think I should say "No" more but then I think of something I learned from a book on improvisation (I was researching my Hollywood Dynasty trilogy). It said the key to good improv is, in essence, always saying "Yes" to whatever scenario your improv partner comes up with because saying "No" stops the action. "No" is a deadend. There is, in improve, nowhere to go after "No." "Yes," on the other hand, keeps things the action going and moves everyone on to the next step.

I kind of like that idea. At least, it's my rationale when, yet again, I say yes to something I really don't have time for.

lois greiman said...


So glad to have you on board with us. Well, I'm kind of on board. Heavily under deadline and usually insane. But I pop in now. I hear all good things about you. And now I know you quilt. I promised my daughter a patch work when she was six--kiddingly said I'd have it done by the time she graduates. She's a senior this year. Still no quilt. And here you are giving them away to neices. Wow. Am I impressed!

Melissa said...

Welcome Deb! If you're using blogger's spell check, it's been a hit or miss for me. Sometimes I just type into word and then paste it to make sure it's spell-checked.

Debra Dixon said...


I've never taken a class or read anything on improv and I find that tidbit so interesting. It does make perfect sense that "no" is a deadend and stops forward motion. Never looked at it like that.

You guys are giving me an unexpected and different perspective on saying no. Now that I'm thinking about it, I clearly do feel that saying yes opens doors and opportunities for me that are being sent my way. I do think I see no as somehow stopping forward motion and yet I've never recognized these beliefs. They've been there hovering beneath the surface driving my decisions.

This is such a cool blog! Love it!

Debra Dixon said...


When I found quilting about 6 years ago, I felt I'd really found something that gave back to me spiritually and creatively. Plus quilts are *functional* art. I so love that about them.

And I sent my son off to college with his. It almost killed me because it was a hand quilted heirloom quilt. But you know...it was his quilt and why give someone something they have to keep in a closet?!! I honestly think he was so happy to have that quilt with him. That quilt was home and mom and he never had to be "unmanly" about needing his support system. The quilt just quietly reminds him that he is never truly alone.

He recently asked me for a second quilt. And now I know why I said "yes" when he asked to take his quilt to college. He's too macho to ever say it but his quilt means something to him and he wants one for his living room when he's watching tv or napping. He could buy a throw but he wants his mom to make him a quilt. Cool, huh?

Except he thinks he gets to jump ahead in line of people waiting for quilts. He has that only child-only son "prince complex."

Debra Dixon said...


Okay, good to know that I'm not crazy! I'll take your advice and use Word for spell checking my actual blog postings.

Michele said...

Ah, I used to quilt. What a great way to get 'in the zone'. Welcome, Deb! And now that we know you're a 'no' chick, we'll just have to word our requests more particularly before putting them to you. ;-)

I'm getting better at 'no'. But I do believe in 'yes' as well. Balance.

Loralee said...

Chiming in late to say "Hi" to my special Southern sister, Deb. So glad you didn't say "no" when we asked you to speak at our Retreat. That's where I learned about GMC, thanks to you.

I'm afraid I'm a "Nn-okay" person, but have discovered that sometimes I gain more self-confidence when I do. If I'd said No to my inner voice and stopped writing, I'd never be able to say "I finally published". I would never have attended that first RWA chapter meeting or sent my work out for all the world to see. I'd never have my wonderful family, if I'd said No to that good-looking Yankee so many years ago, either. So I guess sometimes it's good to say Nn-okay.
Does any of this make sense? I'm still working on the NO thing.

Helen Brenna said...

Makes total sense, Loralee. Can everyone tell we're all women here?

Debra Dixon said...


Hello! Yep, I've come to understand that I don't need to work as hard on my NO thing because I'd miss too many wonderful things in life if I did. :)

I'm glad you stopped by and don't be a stranger! I may need a little down home support from time to time.