Winners and More on the List of 20

Monday, Mar 13

Our winners are: Maria Sanchez and Candy Charville.  Congratulations, both of you.  To recap: each week, two winners will be chosen at random from the comment section of this blog.  Each winner will receive an autographed copy of my latest release, and their names will be announced here, usually on Monday.  
I wanted to address a couple of comments that appeared after I mentioned my favorite brainstorming tool, the List of 20.  One lady said that, despite physical challenges, she wanted to get more housework done, and I wanted to address that–from the sounds of things, that blog reader is already doing plenty; in other words, the last thing I wanted was to inspire guilt!  In this case, I would rather recommend another kind of list entirely–“What are 20 things I’ve done well in my life?”  or “What are 20 things I could do to be kinder to myself?”  We are at all different stages of life, which makes us a pretty interesting bunch, methinks.  🙂  I use the technique to build a plot and understand my characters better, but I also use it in many other ways.  “What are 20 places I would like to visit?”  or “What 20 things do I most want to accomplish this year?”  The possibilities, obviously, are limitless.
The second comment was actually a question.  Someone wanted a clearer explanation of what the List of 20 is.  My answer is, the List of 20 is a brainstorming tool, a way to generate ideas, and to go beyond the stuff that usually comes up first to get to the good stuff.  I have a notebook for my lists now, as I want to keep things in one place for easier reference later on, but you could just as easily use a single sheet of paper, the back of an envelope, etc.  The most important things to remember are: don’t overthink–write as fast as you can, get it all down on paper, and don’t judge.  The first few ideas I come up with are usually ridiculous, but I put them down anyway, for the sake of momentum.  Invariably, good ideas pop up toward the end.
I use the technique mainly for plotting stories in the first place or solving problems that come up in the writing.  If I find I’ve painted myself into a corner, in terms of a story I’m writing, I can use the technique to find a new direction.  
Questions are always handy–I might ask myself, for instance, “What does the reader expect to happen here?”  I will then look for a twist, something that would surprise you.  (I hope.)  I don’t know about you, but I love it when an author takes me somewhere I didn’t expect to go.  Because I have read a great deal, as have all of you, I see patterns in books I’m reading or listening to, and I start anticipating how things will turn out for the story people.  I often guess correctly–but I still read on most of the time, to find out if I’m right.  🙂  Few things please me more than being surprised, as long as the writer has laid the proper groundwork.  If something comes totally out of left field, I get annoyed.  The best books are interactive; the reader is a participant, not merely an onlooker, a game played out on the field of imagination, where the writer and the reader meet and share an experience.
I had a good weekend, spending Saturday puttering around home, playing with the pets, listening to books, etc.  I did a few Lists of 20 for the second historical novel, to follow “The Blue and the Gray”.  On Sunday, I went to see my mom, and we visited for a while.  I brought her potato chips and two new books–at 88, my mother is still an avid reader.  She taught me to love books and I will always be grateful for that–and many other things, of course.
Tomorrow is New Book Day, so I’ll be on for sure, checking out what’s on offer.  This week’s favorites are: “The Five-Second Rule”, by Mel Robbins, (previously mentioned), “The Golden Hour”, by T. Greenwood, a suspense novel by an author I always enjoy, and “17 Carnations” by Andrew Morton.  I’m still listening to this one–it’s another story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  
I’m still recovering from burning the midnight oil, so I’m mainly making lists and notes and doing a lot of thinking.  
See you tomorrow.  Or the next day.
But soon.

About Linda

The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West.

Raised in Northport, Washington, Linda pursued her wanderlust, living in London and Arizona and traveling the world before returning to the state of her birth to settle down on a horse property outside Spokane.

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