Friday, November 18, 2011

Five Things About...

Today I'm featured on author Elizabeth Boyle's blog as part of her popular "Five Things About..." series of author interviews. Find out my dreaded childhood nickname, favorite romantic city, and more.

While you're there, be sure to check out the excerpts of Elizabeth's fantastic romance novels.  Her witty heroes and heroines have put her books at the top of my Must Buy list for years.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TONIGHT: Live Chat!

Quickie post to announce that I'll be doing a live chat TONIGHT, November 15, at the fantastic YA Bound website from 7 - 8 pm, ET, to discuss my new romantic comedy, Shot Through the Heart.  For more info and to enter the chat room (it's easy, I promise!), visit this link:

Niki Burnham Chat - YA Bound

Feel free to ask questions about any of my books, writing, my recent Amazing Race casting call, or even about my dog.  I'll answer anything!  Looking forward to seeing many of you there!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Be Prepared

Yesterday I blogged about my experience at The Amazing Race casting call, and discussed the fact that--as with writing--even if the odds of making it are slim, if you enjoy the process, it's all worthwhile.

Today, an addendum:  Be Prepared.

The "process" isn't simply about writing a book willy nilly; it's about working toward your goal in a planned way, one that increases your odds of ultimate success.  One that challenges you.

When my dad and I studied the people in the line at the casting call, we knew our odds of success were better than most.  If you're a contestant on The Amazing Race, you can bet you'll be required to climb, swim, run, and carry heavy loads.  You need endurance.  My dad is fit enough to participate in 500+ bike rides through the Colorado mountains each summer.  I exercise 4-5x a week, doing a combination of weights, cardio, and boot-camp style drills.  We watch the show regularly, so we have an idea of what to expect.  We know we'd need to be scrappy, both physically and mentally, in order to win.  We'd need to challenge ourselves.  As I studied the people in line, I knew a number of them would be incapable of going the distance in their current state of fitness.  If they tried to run a mile, they'd be frustrated and angry.  It also was quickly obvious that many of them weren't fans of the show.  They may have seen an episode or two, but they didn't know the ins and outs of the Race, so even if they were fit, they were at a big disadvantage.

With writing, it's no different.  If you expect to write professionally, you need to be able to craft coherent sentences, plot well, and create characters who speak to a reader.  Just as athletes train, working their muscles in order to strengthen them, so must writers.  Take workshops, develop a critical editorial eye for your own work, and most important of all, get your tail in a chair and write in order to build your writing muscles.  You need to challenge yourself.  You also need to read broadly, study the market and know what's being published and by whom so you know what to expect.  If you don't, you can expect the process to be a frustrating one.

Preparation may or may not score you a publishing contract, just as being fit doesn't guarantee you'll win The Amazing Race.  However, being prepared sure increases your odds of success, and challenging yourself will help you grow and bring an immense amount of satisfaction, regardless of whether you reach your goal.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Do What You Love, It's Never A Waste

I've often heard writers lament the fact they spend months or years on a project, yet it doesn't sell.  Even if the chances of publishing with a major publishing house are slim--and they know that going in--they feel that if the effort didn't result in that publishing contract they coveted, they've wasted their time.

I've always believed that if your time is spent doing what you love, it's never a waste.

When I've mentioned this to frustrated writers, emphasizing that if you want to write, you need to love the process as much as the contract, I hear, "Well, that's easy for you to say.  You're published."

Well, today I pursued something I've long dreamed of doing, even though I know the chances of nabbing that ultimate prize are slim:  I went to an open casting call for The Amazing Race.

My dad flew in from Colorado to join me at the audition.  We followed the directions and showed up at 8:30 am, and the line was already all the way around Bernie & Phyl's, the furniture store hosting the event.  The sight of the line in itself deterred a few people, but we expected it.  The Amazing Race is a phenomenal show, and as with publishing a book, appearing as a contestant is a dream shared by many.  We waited outdoors in line nearly four hours before we were seen.  We were asked to stand in front of a camera were told we had one minute to talk about why we wanted to be on the Race, and boom...done.

Realistically, our odds of making the show are slim.  There were easily a thousand people at the Boston casting call, and I imagine the show's producers are seeing audition tapes from all over the country.  But  the people both directly in front of us and behind us were so interesting that the four hours flew by.  We had a blast talking about past contestants, what strategies worked and didn't, how we'd race, and about all the different locations where the show's been filmed.  Better yet, my dad and I got to know the friendly mother and son behind us (she's a nurse and hypnotist, while he's spent time as a ski instructor in Breckenridge) and the witty couple in front of us (women who married as soon as it became legal for them to do so in Massachusetts.)  While we heard other teams exiting the audition mumbling that they'd probably wasted their time, the minute my dad and I walked out, our first words were, "I'd do that again!" Not because we did anything spectacular in our video, but because we enjoyed the process.

If you're a writer, think of the hours spent in front of your computer the same way.  You may or may not get a publishing contract.  But if you find joy in the process, in the sheer intellectual stimulation of what you're doing, the time spent is never a waste.