Keynote Speaker for Rochester Writer’s Festival

Posted on January 27th, 2011

Pretty cool next step for me:  I’ll be the keynote speaker for the upcoming Rochester Writer’s festival.

My focus will be what I consider to be the three C’s of writing:  craft, creativity, and community.  These three concepts form the basis for what writers need to succeed in today’s world.

This will be my first keynote speech, though I’ve had many speaking engagements in the past–primarily focused on inspiring kids to pursue careers in math, science, and engineering.  I’m excited for the opportunity to share what I’ve been doing to build up the writing community in Rochester, including organizing the monthly Writers Night Out events (recent praise), leading the Rochester Writing Group, and being a founding member of the Rochester Writers Collaborative (link to come).

As soon as the Rochester Community Education link is available for the Rochester Writers Festival, I’ll update this blog entry with a link so you can register.

Pencil in the all-day event for April 9.  Hope to see you there!


Posted on January 21st, 2011

This morning, as I was taking a shower, it came to me:  the perfect ending for The Caldarian Conflict.

I’ve been struggling with how to end the story.  I knew where each character would end up, of course, but I was struggling on which note to leave the reader on.

That’s when I realized that I could add one last twist.  A sudden revelation that (hopefully) will cause the reader to reconsider everything that came before.  A final flourish, if you will, before the reader is left standing dazed and in wonder.  With any luck, also desperately in need of the next book.

Assuming I could pull it off, of course.

I shouted “Eureka!” and considered following in the steps of Archimedes.  Since it’s currently -20 F here in Minnesota, I decided that I’d settle for getting dressed and dashing past my cats on my way downstairs.  Ever curious, they followed me down to watch me eagerly type away at my computer over the course of an hour.

Unfortunately, they didn’t share my continued excitement.  They’re now both asleep.

I won’t post the ending here, of course, but wanted to share this special moment with my writing friends.  I’m sure you understand.

ILEO Competition Video

Posted on January 4th, 2011

One of our ILEO volunteers was kind enough to create a short video summarizing our recent ILEO competition.  Please check out his video:

It’s great to work with such talented volunteers. We had an awesome time!

2011 Resolutions

Posted on January 1st, 2011

I’m doing something I haven’t before:  putting up my resolutions for 2011 on my blog.

My hope is that this helps keep me accountable.  I expect to write up my results in December 2011.

I have printed off a shorter version of this list and posted it in my office.  By doing so, I hope to remind myself to make daily progress towards these goals.

Get serious about chasing dreams

I’ve long said that I would like to publish a novel.  This year, it’s going to happen (at least to the point of being accepted by an agent and–hopefully–sold to a publisher).

How can I say that?  There are a few reasons:

  1. I wrote approximately 60% of the novel (both in terms of planned length and planned events for the characters) in the second half of 2010.  I should have little trouble writing the second portion because I now understand my characters and the world they live in so much better.
  2. I’ve created/joined a novelist group where I work with three other writers to finish our novels.  Since we review about 3000 words every week, this should motivate me to finish the rest.
  3. I’ve completed the synopsis for the novel, which is actually the more difficult job.  Now that I know the direction the novel will take, I have less to think about as I write–I can focus on the prose, not the direction.
  4. I’ve arranged to reduce my volunteering commitments in order to create more time for writing and (after our baby arrives) my child.

I’m not sure how to do this one yet, but I have some ideas for a new method of educating children (they’ve been baking for about 6 years).  I’ve shown some success for this through the ILEO robotics program I created.  However, creating a program is one thing, creating a school is quite another. A program like ILEO can be started by one person (Note:  that’s start, not run–we use about a hundred volunteers to run the program).  A school requires a team of experts to be successful.

With all of the other events coming, I don’t believe I’ll succeed at creating a school by the end of the year.  However, I’d like to have something to show for this by the end of the year.  This may result in a new blog focused on spreading my ideas and encouraging dialogue with educators, or forming a panel of like-minded individuals to help me better formulate this idea into a plan.  I’m sure more will come on this later.

For part of our baby’s education, I want to be able to point to a plethora of examples (the ILEO robotics program, a master’s degree, novels I’ve helped get published, etc) when I tell my child that they can achieve their dreams–if one applies oneself.

Focus on family

With Brenda’s pregnancy, I’ve found myself focusing more on spending time with family.  As a part of this, I am preparing to invest my energy in helping our little one be everything they want to be.

We hope to spend a good portion of our vacation this year traveling to see family with our new tiny addition.  We want our parents to be able to see their grandchild.

Also as a part of this, I want to resume writing monthly letters to our nieces and nephew.  I love these kids, but haven’t spent as much time as I’d like with them.  Through writing letters, I can help them to get to know me better.  With luck, they’ll write back (as they have once already) and help me get to know them better as well.

It may be some time until our newest niece can write back.  She’ll start writing coherent letters by what, 18 months or so, right?

Get our financial house in order

This goal sounds more dire than it really is.  It’s not like we’re in any serious financial difficulties–I simply want to improve our financial picture.

Due to some medical emergencies and one of our vehicles breaking down in the past two years, our emergency fund isn’t as large as I’d like it to be.  My goal is to do whatever we can to cover at least six months of our new expenses (considering extra costs associated with the baby).

I expect this will take a combination of reducing unnecessary expenses and generating additional income from my writing and editing business.  Perhaps I’ll also be successful in supplementing our income with some money from my novel, but I’m not going to count on that yet.

As a part of this, we’re sweeping through our house looking for things we don’t use anymore.  Even though the items might be sitting idle, there are hidden costs associated with keeping things we don’t need.  For example, we still have to clean them, or work around them, or (eventually) might have to move them.

Instead, we can donate them to places that might find a better use, sell them in a garage sale, or toss them out.

Focus on building relationships and future opportunities

One of the things I’m quite proud of from the past year is taking over the Rochester Writing Group.  I’ve met lots of wonderful writers through the group, and these connections will help me to be successful in the new year.

I want to continue to build on these relationships so that I and other writers can develop new opportunities over the next several years.  The neat thing about making connections is that you don’t know where they’ll lead.

As an example, last January 1st, I had no clue that I’d be involved in (much less leading) the Rochester Writing Group.  I had no clue that I’d help out with the work for creating the Rochester Writing Festival.

However, I’ve always been good at recognizing an opportunity and seizing it.  I hope to continue to do so over the course of the next year.

The other major collective I want to continue working with is the local entrepreneur group.  While I’m not quite ready to dive in, the connections I build there and the support I can give to help the local entrepreneurs will pay dividends at some point in the future.  I can also learn from their successes and missteps as they progress down that road.

So that’s it: my resolutions for 2011.  Feel free to ask what progress I’m making.  Keep me accountable.