Words Better Left Unsaid: Do You Know What They Are?

The Words

I began hosting The Writer’s Voice podcast nearly a year ago. In each episode, I chat with one or more writers about the craft of writing, the process of writing, and books. I also attempt to draw out the true personality of my guests so listeners get a glimpse of the person behind the writer. This week, the podcast’s editor, Mike Royer, suggested that when writers plan what they’re going to say in advance of each episode they should also focus on … words better left unsaid.

Not only does he edit the audio and video for each podcast and its trailers, he is also a highly auditory person. In other words, he focuses on the music of the words my guests and I speak. According to Mike, attending to the words better left unsaid is the favorite part of his job. He has told me this before. Many times. In many different ways. For some reason, I never got it.

So, this week, he showed me.

The Sounds

Showing versus telling is a concept we writers learn early on in our careers. The concept is pounded into our heads over and over at writing workshops, during conferences, and in how-to books. We also learn to read our work aloud, especially the dialogue, to ensure the rhythm of the words, and the cadence and pacing, sounds right.

Until recently, I didn’t understand that we writers need to follow these same rules when we appear in public, participate in marketing events, and–yes, host or appear on a podcast. I also learned that showing how not to do something is equally as important as showing how to actually do it.

The Words Better Left Unsaid

When you hear the music of words better left unsaid, you’ll understand exactly what I mean … just listen!

Outtakes 1

Stay tuned for more outtakes – some of them are really funny!

If you’d like to learn more about The Writer’s Voice podcast, see past writers who appeared, or find links to listen, watch the YouTube trailers, or request a guest spot, click here.

Prepare for Hurricane Season

In this week’s podcast episode, I talk about how insurance agents can help their policyholders prepare for hurricane season. Here are a few excerpts from the podcast, along with resources that appear at the end of the post:

Did you know?

  • Hurricane season begins on June 1 in the Atlantic and on May 15 in the Eastern Pacific. In all locations, it ends on November 30.
  • The biggest threat during a hurricane is storm surge–especially at high tide.
  • The National Weather Service reports that the number of hurricanes keeps growing each year.
  • During high winds, the 4 biggest areas of weakness in any building are its roof, windows, entrance doors, and garage doors.
  • Not all property insurance policies provide coverage for wind–especially in coastal states.
  • NO standard property insurance policies provide coverage for storm surge caused by a hurricane. This is because, in most states, it is considered a form of flood–which is an excluded peril.

For more information about how to prepare for hurricane season, listen to the entire podcast, which can be found at: https://episodes.castos.com/5e6ccb9ab4cf97-55025247/TMoI-Ep-16-Aug-4-Prepare-Hurricane-Seaxon.mp3

Resources: Prepare for Hurricane Season

Ready.Gov Hurricanes: https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes

NOAA Hurricanes: https://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/weather-atmosphere/hurricanes

National Weather Service Hurricane Safety: https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane

Webpage with database of disaster declarations by state: https://www.fema.gov/disasters/

DHS’ DisasterAssistance.gov website: https://www.disasterassistance.gov/

SBA disaster loans: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Home/Questions

NFIP/FEMA Hurricane Season: https://agents.floodsmart.gov/pacifichurricaneseason

How to Earn Customer Loyalty

Regardless of what business you’re in–whether you write and sell insurance or novels–customers are only going to buy you and your product if you earn their loyalty. No one is automatically entitled to trust.

How can you earn trust and loyalty?

  • Be authentic and sincere. If you’re a vegan selling Angus beef, that fundamental contradiction is apparent–if only in a funny feeling prospective customers sense.
  • Be open and honest. The popular word these days is “transparent.” And it’s appropriate. You don’t want people to lie to you, be deceptive, or withhold important information. So, don’t lie to, deceive, or withhold from others. The imbalance of treating people in a way you won’t tolerate being treated is going to topple you eventually.
  • Understand people. Do you know how your customers communicate? Would they prefer a phone call, a text, or an email? What do they believe? What do they want? What do they NEED? What do they consider important? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, how can you possibly give them what they want and need … or what they value?

The most important things to remember about people are that they want to:

  • Be viewed as important.
  • Know you care.
  • Be heard.

I talk about this subject in more detail in episode 14 of my podcast, Taking the Mystery out of Insurance. You can find it here.

If you’d like to read more about the subject, check out Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People or any of Jeffrey Gitomer’s sales books (gitomer.com).

COVID, the Insurance Industry, and our Crystal Balls

This week, I ventured down a slightly different path on my podcast. I talked about COVID and insurance, but more about what I believe we need to consider for the future rather than about what is happening today.

Take a listen and then share what YOU think might happen: https://episodes.castos.com/5e6ccb9ab4cf97-55025247/TMoI-Episode-12-MR.mp3

How Homeowners Insurance Works When You’re Working from Home

The homeowners policy was designed to insure personal risks, not business risks. For this reason, virtually all coverage for business property and liability is explicitly excluded in the homeowners policy.

Very limited property coverage is included for business personal property. The limit usually ranges between $1,000 and $2,500 if the business property is at your house. The limit is much less for business property anywhere else–like in your car.

Liability coverage for business activities is also severely limited. It only applies to incidents that occur on your property at home, and only for those that arise when:

  • Your house is rented–either occasionally as a residence or when a part of it is rented to 1 or 2 boarders. This does NOT include Airbnb rentals, or any series of rentals. Neither does it include renting your barn to a neighbor who does lawn mower repairs.
  • A portion of your house or other building is rented for use as a private garage, office, school, or studio. Think designating a room for use to give music or dance lessons, or as an office for a writer.
  • An insured who is under age 21 runs a self-employed part-time or occasional business that does not have any employees.

What all this means is that if a person is working from home, any property used for business–regardless of whether it is owned by the individual or the individual’s employer–has very limited coverage. If the employer has insurance for property it owns, that property should be insured specifically on the employer’s policy with an indication it is located at the employee’s home. In some cases, the employer’s failure to cite the location of the property on its policy, especially if the property is valued at more than $5,000 or $10,000, might result in a lack of adequate coverage in the event of a loss.

Potential problems relating to the lack of business liability coverage under the homeowners policy are more serious. In most cases, clients do not visit employees working from home. But if anyone visits your home for business and gets hurt, your unendorsed homeowners policy does not provide any liability coverage. Similarly, if a FedEx or USPS employee trips and falls while delivering business mail or packages, any claim for injuries would not be covered. Basically, coverage for ANY other type of liability (think cyber liability, products liability, etc.) is NOT covered, either.

Endorsements are available to add limited business property and liability coverage to the homeowners policy but, in most cases, it’s probably not adequate. Some insurers also offer a home business endorsement that does include business, or commercial, coverage. That’s probably a better idea.

Remember, even if you’re working from home and your employer does have coverage for property it owns, and its own liability, your employer gets the broadest coverage under that policy. If you’re covered under it, you can still be held personally liable for property damage and bodily injury resulting from business activities conducted at your home.

Unless you buy and add business endorsements to your homeowners policy, you might find yourself uninsured in the event of a loss when you’re working from home.

For more details, listen to this week’s podcast at Taking the Mystery out of Insurance.

Debra Bokur’s new Release: The Fire Thief

The first book in Debra Bokur’s mystery series, The Fire Thief, was released last month to rave reviews. The series is set in Hawaii and you can check it out on her website at https://www.debrabokur.com/.

Debra visited with me on The Writer’s Voice this week, and we talked about how her career as a celebrated journalist and editor of magazines and literary journals did NOT prepare her for writing and publishing fiction. You can listen to the podcast episode here. A short video excerpt will appear on my YouTube channel on Friday, here.

As most writers will agree, we tend to write long or short. When you’re a journalist, as Debra is, you tend to write to specific word counts required by the outlet publishing your work, such as 1,000 per piece. When you write fiction, you tend to write thousands and thousands of words … only to find you need to slash your word count by as much as 25%.

My experiences have been different from Debra’s. I found that writing a newspaper column and magazine articles actually helped me keep my fiction writing tight and in accordance with required word counts. Then again, I began writing fiction first and found it fairly easy to cut word count. Not every writer can toss away words with relish.

But when you begin writing short nonfiction it’s much more difficult to retrain yourself. Give Debra’s interview a listen and then share YOUR take on how writing one particular type of work did or did not prepare you for tackling another type.

Sarah Osborne, author of the Ditie Brown Mystery Series

I recently sat down with Sarah Osborne to discuss cozy mysteries, pantsing versus plotting, and her take on writing the first draft so many writers dread.

You can:

Visit Sarah online at: https://doctorosborne.com/

The most recent book in the series, Murder Most Southern, was released last month.

Legal Liability and the Pandemic

People are talking about lawsuits these days, even more fervently than usual. Why? Because the big question is: What will happen if a person claims he or she contracted COVID-19 at a restaurant, or store, or at work … and then sues the business owner? Will the business’ insurance policy pay the claim?

At the moment, it’s impossible to answer that question with any certainty because we have no precedent to follow. In other words, we’re in uncharted waters.

One of the first things to remember about insurance claims (with or without associated lawsuits being filed) is that liability insurance only pays if the insured was legally liable for causing bodily injury or property damage. And legal liability can only be determined by the courts.

It’s true that many insurance companies settle claims without lawsuits being filed or trials having to be undertaken. And that’s because the facts associated with the claim are so clear cut the insurance company is confident that if the matter went to trial, their policyholder would be deemed negligent and, therefore, legally liable.

Nothing about COVID-19 is especially clear right now. Therefore, how can we determine whether an individual or business exercised due diligence in preventing its spread?

My best guess is that if every business follows federal, state, and local guidelines about social distancing and preventing the spread of coronavirus, proving it was negligent is going to be very difficult. However, many believe some guidelines are not feasible, or reasonable. What then?

Only time will be able to answer these questions. However, I do talk more about this topic on Episode 8 of my podcast, so take a listen here.

Writer’s Voice Guest: Connie Johnson Hambley

Connie Johnson Hambley is the author of tense, twisting thrillers with a strong moral code. She visited with me earlier this week on The Writer’s Voice podcast to discuss writing and the community of writers.

Connie currently serves as the president of Sisters in Crime New England and two her award-winning books, which are part of The Jessica Trilogy, won the Best English Fiction literary award at the EQUUS International Film Festival in NYC.

You can listen to Connie’s appearance on my podcast here, or watch the YouTube video of that conversation here.

Podcast Guest: Barb Gavitt Talks Insurance Licensing in a Pandemic

Barb Gavitt is Vice President of Product Development and Education at A.D. Banker & Company, one of the leading insurance pre-licensing and continuing education providers in the country. She is also the 2020 president of the Securities & Insurance Licensing Authority.

Barb sat down with me recently to discuss the challenges many have been facing, and continue to face, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Although the insurance and financial services industries have been deemed “essential” during shelter-in-place orders, the licensing test centers were not.

This means that individuals who were already hired to work in the industry could not obtain their licenses, despite having paid significant fees and devoted tremendous amounts of time studying. Similarly, those wanting to be hired or wanting to obtain an additional license or line of authority on an existing license find themselves equally frustrated and stymied.

On Episode 6 of my podcast, Taking the Mystery out of Insurance, Barb explains what’s been happening to date, how the states are opening up now, and what she anticipates in the future.

A video of our chat will appear on the podcast’s YouTube Channel later in the week.