Write Motivation with Desiree Holt

Colorado struck Gold this past weekend with its 33rd annual writer’s conference, and yours truly enjoyed every minute of it. There were so many great people and events that I’m going to share the experience over a couple of posts with you.

DESIREE HOLT

Desiree Holt at RMFW's Colorado Gold Conference

Desiree talks about building stories around character at CO Gold.

USA Today called Desiree the “Nora Roberts of erotic romance writing.”  Since her first book was published in 2006, she has produced an incredible 197 books . . . and counting!  Desiree is a graduate of the University of Michigan (go blue!) and even has the U of M fight song as her ring tone.  How do I know this?  I had the happy honor of giving this great woman a ride from the airport to the convention hotel.  We spent about an hour or so together, and I have to say, it was one of the best hours I’ve had in a good while.

We met as she stepped out of the tram area and instantly clicked.  This tiny woman of indeterminate years and a dash of style was so warm we hugged immediately.  Soon after, we were snug in the car and she was telling me about life in Texas and her plans to move closer to family somewhere in Florida.  I was taken aback, as it seems like we’ve lived in the same states, just at different times. Heck, Desiree could be one of my sisters.

The biggest impact upon meeting her is that Desiree has a seemingly boundless energy. She is excited about life, about writing, and about what’s next on the agenda. Those of us lucky enough to attend her workshop on building characters got a sampling of how she brainstorms while we built a character together.

“Quick, someone,” said Desiree, “give me a gender.”  Someone shouted out “female.”  Female it was. “Now, ask yourself some questions about your character.  Things you’d ask a friend about someone you don’t know.  What food does she like to eat?”

And we were off.  Soon, a young woman (in her early forties) is opening the door to a total (and totally hot) stranger, who is dripping from the rain he just ran through, and asking for help with his flat tire, because his cell phone can’t get reception in this less populated part of town.  The sparks fly as the artist-welder takes him in, only to have him inadvertently insult her.

I’m sure, right now, there are thirty or forty new stories being written with these characters leading the plot along.

Meeting Desiree Holt

Meeting the warm and wonderful Desiree Holt.

Something else Desiree shared was her love of meeting strangers.  Imagine that–an extroverted writer.  Good for her!  She has her smart phone with her constantly and will ask total strangers if she can take their picture and ask them a few questions.  She gives them her business card and the two are off and running.

Case in point was a nice-looking waiter who Desiree chatted up with family looking on.  At one point Desiree’s daughter apparently said to the waiter, “Don’t worry, she’s harmless.  My mom’s a writer.”  The answers flowed and soon the young man became a football player for Desiree’s series, Game On.  I have a copy of the first book there called Forward Pass. One word–Hot. Okay, one more–Blush!  Wow. I’m only on chapter four and this book has me thinking thoughts I long believed went dormant.

Yet having sports figures as main characters should be a natural for Desiree.  She was the first woman sports reporter for her university’s, Michigan Daily newspaper.  Between that and working for a while as a stringer for four or five publications, Desiree picked up the habit of writing fast and furious.  She said she currently works on at least three projects at a time.  That way, when she’s stuck on one, she can move to another and the words keep flowing.

Great advice from a successful writer.

And my favorite Desiree line?  This obviously middle-aged (okay my daughter would say “senior”) was at a book signing and a reader walked up to say something like, “You haven’t done all the exploits you’ve written about, have you?”  Desiree smiled and said, “Of course I have, but you see dear, I’m only twenty-seven years old.” They both laughed and Desiree earned another fan.

Wishing you a happy, stranger-filled week.

The Business of Being Personal

BOUCHERCON BAG CONTEST

Bouchercon Book Bag - Grand Priaze

Bouchercon Book Bag – Grand Priaze

Whew!  I must have stumped you well last week!  I only had one person able to answer the questions.  Congratulations, Sharon from Littleton, CO for guessing these contest questions right:

  1. What was Anthony Boucher’s full legal name?  William Anthony Parker White
  2. When and where was the first Bouchercon? 1970 – Santa Monica, CA
  3. Who is the main suspect in Liesa’s upcoming novel, “Sliced Vegetarian?”  Brian Hughes – the special needs worker at Gigantos Supermarket (and Ginny Caerphilly’s boyfriend)

Better luck next time, my friends.  By the way, what kind of contests do you prefer: raffles, trivia, puzzles, other?  I’d like to do more of these, but will probably do them in my quarterly newsletter, which I’ll be starting to send in January.  Please let me know if you’d like to be on my mailing list.

‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE SOCIAL

RMMWA 2014 Holiday Tree

Happy holidays, my reading and writing friends!

If you are an aspiring author, chances are you’ve been inundated with the concept of “author platform” over the past few years.  An author platform is a fancy way of saying “personal branding.”  I may be opening a can of worms here, but in yesteryears personal branding was pretty much handled by a resume and a handshake.  Today, we’ve replaced that minimalist effort with social media.

As authors, we are supposed to engage with multiple social sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.  The list goes on…and on…and on.  I could see an author getting stuck in social media and never writing anything for real consumption again (please don’t ask how my book’s coming!).

But the bigger question is, with all this personal advertising and letting total strangers get to “know” us, are we any better off? Hmm.

I like to write this journal on-line, because I feel like I’m being a pen pal.  I love hearing from and responding to you individually.  But with Goodreads, I’m not really fond of reviewing books by others (everyone should get five stars just for going through the publishing process in my mind), and saying “something” in 140 characters for Twitter 1,000 times a day is truly noise pollution from my perspective. Sheesh! What’s an author to do?

With so much noise on the Internet, I am finding that connecting with others is a more personal mission.  It isn’t a game of “who’s following me?” but the more genuine back and forth of building personal binds between potential friends and true acquaintances. This “belly-to-belly” approach isn’t efficient, but much more rewarding.

Littleton Writers Holiday Party

Social Media at its finest is a one-to-one connection.

The Internet is a “safe place” for introverts to hang out.  We only have to post our opinions and comment a few times here and there to build reputations in our chosen communities. But when we truly buy into our areas of interest, and the people who populate those areas, we must make a personal effort, have good timing and embrace good luck.  In the ’80s we called it “networking.” Before that, it was simply “good business.”

This reminds me of the “Christmas Carol,” where one of the ghosts reminds Scrooge, “Business? Business?  PEOPLE are your business!”  In the spirit of that people focus, I’m attending a few holiday parties this year.  Not my area of strength, but people are indeed my business and I find that the more I put into this effort, the richer my life becomes.

It’s no good to go to a party, convention or business gathering and make the excuse, “I’m shy” to not engage.  We need to reach out, shake hands, have our photos taken and be involved.

The Littleton Writers’ party was on Sunday. Small turn-out, but I had the chance to engage not only with my writing friends, but with their interesting and wonderful spouses.  John talked about education in the south, Dave talked project management, and I always enjoy Marta’s dialog on public relations and the light rails going around our cities in the Denver metroplex.  How cool is that?

Edgar Holiday Ornaments

Being social can be crafty.

Tomorrow, I’ll be at the local chapter of Mystery Writers of America.  Because I volunteered (something cynics among us think of as a waste), I got to play with arts and crafts, I’ll be reading a snippet from my second book to the group, and I had the chance to get to know the chapter president and a few other people much better than before.  Every person in this group is not only a potential reader, but someone who may promote my book, or give me a book review.  This is HUGE!

On Saturday, I may miss a function.  These parties are, after all, “work” for authors.  But my sister is coming in from Detroit, and I have wanted to chat with her for a while.  Family is priority one to me.  But if she slips off with her daughter, I may go to the RMFW holiday party.  If I do, there’s probably someone I haven’t met yet who may become a friend or at least friendly acquaintance.

Author platforms. We build ’em one plank (or friendship) at a time.