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Friday, November 13, 2009

Out of the Chute and Muse on the Run: great ideas from two insanely talented, busy people who were also generous and cool

Tuesday night I soaked in the good advice from two of Nevada's finest, Suzanne Morgan Williams and Terri Farley. If you weren't there, I'll give you a taste.

Suzanne, who I've had the pleasure of meeting on a number of occasions, just came out with BULL RIDER, a novel about a boy dealing with loss and war and tough things as he pursues his passion, bull riding. I'm all about pursuing passion, and Suzanne's novel sounds exactly right for a boy 10-14 who is looking for something adventurous and real.

Suzanne talked about promotion ideas for writers, and I have to say how impressed I was with her industriousness as her own publicist as well as her ingenious strategies - things like grouping multiple events on a trip, keeping a Plan B in your pocket, and banding together with others. Suzy is all about the positive: creating win-win situations as well as the best rule I know in this industry: Be Nice. Right on, Suzy.

Then Terri Farley, author of SEVEN TEARS INTO THE SEA and the PHANTOM STALLION series came on scene, and I got a little exhausted just thinking about how many books she has written (she embodies the mantra, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person"). Fortunately, she shared one of her hard-earned secrets: Clustering. I haven't heard of this technique before, but it's essentially getting your left and right brains to work together by connecting stream-of-consciousness ideas until you hit something. She led us through a cluster drawing, which was fun (Nucleus word: SECRET, I kid you not...).

Terri also talked about working against stereotypes in your writing, external and internal character obstacles, and the big C in the writing life: committment. I hadn't really done a fill-in-the-blank character analysis for my current WIP (on draft 5 here...), and I found it incredibly useful to see which places I knew my characters well (my characters' goals) and the places where I didn't know them so well (strongest emotional trait, esp main character, who begins at a breaking point).

Good stuff - especially since work life is esentially divided along these lines right now between book one and book two. If you want something done...right? Well, time to cluster about this revision!


  1. The cluster sounds interesting. I'll have to find out more about it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You go, girl. Thanks for sharing these things you learn from your many wonderful travels.


  3. maybe you could do a post on clustering - id love to know what it is?

  4. Here's some more info about clustering:


  5. Thanks for the great comments on our workshops! We had a great time. You all were generous, fun and funny! I'll come back anytime :)

  6. I was totally inspired by Suzanne's promotion tips. I loved that she recommended we plan book events in "places you want to go" and preferably places where we have family and friends. That way, if the event flops as they sometimes do, at least we are able to enjoy our personal part of the trip.

  7. Thanks for stopping by, Terri! I'm with you, Julie. We ought to plan a book tour together - even if nobody bought my book, I know I'd be eating well the whole time!