Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Caffeinated Romance

I let this one sneak through without mentioning it.

Caffeinated Romance: lyrics and poems for everyday people who fall in and out of love is available on amazon for your kindle. CLICK HERE

It will be available other places soon and yes even physical copies.

This book of poems  isn't for everyone, just those who have ever loved or longed to love. You'll find lyrics and poems for everyday people. The dramatic and emotional mixed with the lighthearted and fun. Caffeinated Romance is the perfect companion to a cup of coffee, a window seat or a roaring fire on a raining day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Do You Love What You're Doing?

If you love what you're doing, do you know why? It's probably because of; the people you work with, you're working on something bigger than yourself, you're learning something you want to learn, or a combination of all three.

Think about that and then evaluate the tactical skills you bring to the work environment by rating your demonstration of the skills listed below. Is your use of each skill: rare, seldom, frequent or consistent?

  1. Planning / Scheduling / Budgeting - Setting goals and targets, preparing and justifying budgets, forecasting trends and activity levels.

  2. Organizing - Organizing your own time and commitments, laying out of workflow and equipment, coordinating multiple diverse activities, coordinating resources.

  3. Leading / Staffing - Resolving work plans of direct reports, maximizing their commitments, training and coaching, initiating changes and improvements effectively, delegating responsibility and authority.

  4. Controlling - Setting performance standards, setting up strategic control points and requesting feedback on results, defining and enforcing policy and practice, controlling costs.

  5. Problem Analysis and Decision Making - Diagnosing problems, stimulating new ideas, obtaining and verifying information, identifying alternatives and trade-offs, taking appropriate risks, making decisions with little guidance.

  6. Communicating - Making presentations, leading meetings, contributing effectively to discussions, preparing written reports, keeping groups informed, providing feedback, probing and questioning techniques, reading skills

  7. Relating to Others - Dealing with management, cooperating with other groups, being persuasive under opposition, sensitive to needs of others.

  8. Functional and Administrative Know How - Know-How related to your job, understanding of programs and groups impacting your work, knowledge of your field.

Examine your work skills and assess your present and potential strengths and weaknesses.

  • What specific aspects of your job do you like?

  • In which three areas do you think you need to acquire additional skills?

Self analysis helps you identify your attitudes and the effect on your goal setting and performance. How you think and feel about people and things, greatly influences how you act. This is called your attitude. An analysis of your attitude helps you determine what you like and dislike and helps you understand why. Your attitude is influenced by your personal satisfaction.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Building Short Stories with Cubes

I continue to merge and mingle my left and right brain together to be a smarter writer and a more creative business person. My business head is looking at production, how many titles can I produce and publish in x amount of time or stated differently, given x amount of time, what could I produce. Some “artistic” writers may be repulsed by my notion of wanting creative writing to fit in some sort of production schedule. Creativity isn’t supposed to work that way. I would argue that writer’s are at their most creative when faced with a deadline. 
There’s a common metric that a writer can generally produce 1,000 words an hour. I’m not saying they are in perfect order, grammatically correct or even spelled right but they are in a workable form for later revision. I’ve never tested this until last week and for me, that number holds true. I can spew out about 250 words in a fifteen minute span. Knowing that helps with production numbers. 

How long would it take to write a 3,000 word short story? Three hours. A 50,000 word NaNoWriMo type challenge? 50 Hours or a little under two hours a day for a month. So a 90,000 word novel, if I were so inclined, would take a 90 hour investment spread out over some period of time. I’m not talking about quality, I’m just talking about speed and the “I don’t have time” myth. I know if I can find one fifteen minute block somewhere in the 96 that are offered each day, I can get 250 words down.

In February I created the goal of writing 29,000 words beyond what I’m already committed. If you’re following along that’s 29 hours for me, or one hour a day of extra writing. Pretty good, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to use those words and that time on. There’s no shortage of choices. I have several works in progress in various stages that all could use an extra hour of daily attention but most of them, are thankfully already scheduled. So, why not ramp up production? 29,000 words are 10 or so short stories. 

I’m fairly new to the short story form, but that’s where all my bigger stories start. If I want to continue writing, and earning income, then I’ll always need some more stories. In the past, I used to write fiction when I wanted to. When the mood struck or I wanted a diversion to recharge my batteries. When I had deadlines like contest submissions or events like NaNoWriMo, then writing would become an event and I felt I had to outline my story and create some type of structure. 

I’m not a pantser (one who writes by the seat of their pants) unless you count my journals. I’m an outliner, barely, because they don’t have too much detail. See, left and right brains coalescing again. Are you paying attention Congress? I believe in a loose structure so I created a grid that had these general elements;
  • Current State
  • Wants / Goals
  • Fears
  • Sacrifices
  • Rewards
  • Inner Motivation
  • Inner Conflict
  • Outer Motivation
  • Outer Conflict
  • Resolution

If I was going to write ten new short stories in a month I would need a plan. I had no story burning to get out. I just needed to meet my commitment to writing something new every day. I pulled out a set of Story Cubes from the family game collection. 

Story Cubes are nine dice with different images on each side which act as story prompts. There are countless ways to play and my family has had great fun using them to tell stories; some terrific, some stinkers. That’s life. I used those Story cubes to randomly populate my short story grid. I closed my eyes, rolled a cube and assigned it to each element, except Resolution. It was a little bit like placing bets on a football pool, but soon the grid was filled with five story ideas. I read each one from Current State through to outer conflict and if a natural resolution to the story didn’t present itself I would pull a random cube and force one. 

Now I have the outline to five short stories and have already written three. Some are very short but by the time I’m done with ten or more a couple may turn into a story worth telling over the course of a novel. I don’t know and I don’t care. I don’t have any expectations beyond getting 29,000 new words out but as I look over the grid I created, some stories do excite me.

It’s been said that for every twenty-four pictures you take one is worth sharing. I don’t know what the ratio is for writers. I suspect it depends on the writer. To one extreme there are those with hubris, who think all then pen is magical and to the other is the disheartened who regularly second guess themselves with every comma and period. Most fall between the two and need to chart their own way. All I know for certain is that the best writers are the ones who write.

Career Planning Step Two

Career Planning Step Two
Here’s the second step of the Career Guidance Process I use with clients. Remember, career planning is a continuous process. You are the one who decides in advance how, when, and where to take specific actions that will lead you closer to where you want to go. The following questions will help you organize your thoughts around your career planning objectives, strengths, areas of opportunity and personal development.

  1. What positions or fields of work interest you?

  2. Do you want to specialize or generalize?

  3. Where do you want to be in two years? In five years?

  4. Are these realistic given your current abilities?

  5. What do you do well?

  6. What do you not do so well?

  7. What do you enjoy doing?

  8. What specific work situations help or hinder your productivity?

  9. Do you consider yourself reasonably qualified for the type of work you’re interested in?

  10. What training or development do you feel you need to be better prepared?

  11. What are you currently doing to develop yourself? (i.e. Education, Reading, Professional Associations.)

  12. What additional knowledge, experience or skills do you need to acquire in order to perform better in your current job and meet your career objectives?

  13. What can you do to acquire the additional knowledge, experience and skills and is it worth the sacrifice of time and effort?

  14. Are you willing to move laterally to gather additional experience?

  15. How could your current manager help in your growth and development?

  16. How do you feel about moving to another location?

  17. How much traveling are you willing to do if required?

Are you heading the the direction you've intended?