Sunday, December 27, 2009

One More Reason to Write

I write because I have to:  that's my driving motiviation.

Since being published in newspaper and magazine a number of years ago, I've received the occasional fan mail and comments from readers who like my work.  Those kind words have been know to buoy my spirits for a day or two.  (Okay, or ten!)

But there's nothing like having a reader of one of my novels rave about it.  I was fortunate enough to receive a 5-star review from a fan on Amazon today.  Not only did she love my book, but she's looking forward to reading more of my stuff.

How's that for motivation?

What motiviates you to write?  And how do you feel about those raving fans?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It Pays to Have Smart Kids

Not that I actually had anything to do with the quality of my kids' brain cells--even I know genetics isn't something we can control.  I do choose, however, to believe that my kids inherited their good looks from my ex-husband and their brains from me...

Anyway, getting back on track, I'd like to share with you the brilliance of my youngest daughter.  She is not yet thirty and the level of her intelligence and professional savvy boggles my mind.  She is a recruiter...of salespeople.  And not just any kind of salespeople, either.  She recruits people who sell financial services.  Talk about being behind the eight-ball these days!  I guess she hasn't heard the news that the financial services industry is facing challenges and consunmers aren't investing like they used to:  she's recruiting like crazy.

A couple of years ago, she informed me about a number of online services she'd joined to help her with her job.  In sales, in case you didn't know, the really important thing is to broadcast your name all over the place.  The single most important aspect about making important contacts when you're in sales is the number of people who know who you are and what you do.  (It's not, as many people believe, the number of people YOU know, although there is some correlation.)

More to please her than because I believed posting professional information about myself online would actually benefit me financially, I joined Linked In.  This is where I tie my story in to the blog post title:  IT PAYS TO HAVE SMART KIDS.

I received an e-mail from a fellow in California three weeks ago who was looking for a person with precisely my professional qualifications--which is odd, since I pursue three different professional endeavors in two separate industries.

To cut to the chase, I secured a lucrative contract doing something I love:  writing.  Yes, it's about insurance but, hey, I know that subject really well.  And, did I mention, I'm being paid to write?

If you have smart kids, listen to them.  It pays. 


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Doubts and Fears

Let one person offer constructive criticism of my writing and I'm off and running, doubting my ability and fearing I made a fool of myself.

That's what prompted my stinky plotting skills post.  Sound familiar?  I thought so. Since I'm not the type of person to dig a hole for myself and jump in after I've discovered a new weakness or, worse, embarrassed myself, I launched my campaign. 

If my plotting skills are stinky--IF being the operative word--then all I need to do is strengthen them, right?  And surely ALL my plotting skills can't be stinky, right?  [This is my ego talking. I've learned that the best time to listen to it is when fear is nipping at my heels.]

My campaign lasted one evening and all of the next day:  thumbing through reams of notes I've taken on plotting durng the past 20 years--and exhaustive online research.  What I came up with is that I had all the knowledge I needed, I just hadn't put it together in a way that worked efficiently for me.

Several published authors included terrific information on their websites and blogs.  Their insights touched me in a number of ways, pointing out information I already knew intellectually, but shining perspective in a way that permitted me actually GET it.  I compiled an aggregate of information and created for myself a skeleton, an empty outline telling what I need to put where--and when.

The most important message I took with me, however, reinforced one of my personal writing beliefs.  Not every writer embraces it but, if you do, don't ever let it go:  Plot grows from character. Every single event that occurs in your book or short story MUST stem from the character and his/her emotions, decisions, actions, and conflicts.  The two most important questions to ask yourself when you're plotting are:  What if? and What next?

Happy Plotting!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Can You Help Me Improve My Stinky Plotting Skills?

I'm in a poor-me mood. 

My plotting skills stink.  I can always come up with a really good idea for a novel.  Then I come up with a couple of sub-plots to weave throughout the story--they're usually threads based on character or emotion.

What I need is help figuring out how to create other plot aspects that branch out from the main plot.  Oh, and that enhance the main plot, that are interesting, and that aren't stupid.

That about covers it. 

Except for my disclaimer that I've never had problems plotting blog articles, magazine articles, my newspaper column, or insurance texts.  Just so you know...

Got any advice?