Talent Management

Every person is born with one or more talents. You may not recognize yours, but it’s there. People need to discover and develop their talents, then apply them. What a shame for a person to go through life without knowing who they are, what gifts God has given them, or what their purpose in life is.

What are the basic principles of talent management?

  • We need to be motivated and encouraged to find out what jobs or activities gives us satisfaction.
  • We must believe in what we are doing.
  • We must be self-reliant and self-disciplined
  • God wants us to accomplish our dreams
  • The fruit of our future happiness lies unborn in the talents we possess today.
  • We should never settle for less than we are worth.
  • God can fill us with skill, ability, and knowledge in all fields.
  • We must be diligent in the use of our talents
  • We cannot afford to be lazy.
  • We must put our dreams into action.

How to get organized

  • Master your habits. Discipline yourself. Stop living in future fantasies.
  • Do things right the first time or postpone them until you know what you are doing.
  • Use your mind and stay alert. Concentrate on what you are doing.
  • Take personal responsibility for what you are doing.
  • Set daily goals and stick with them as much as possible.
  • Stop being sloppy!
  • Do not fill your time with unnecessary, time-wasting activities.
  • Delegate responsibility
  • Plan ahead.
  • Know how you are spending your money.
  • Cut down on luxuries, leisure time, TV watching.
  • Visualize the end product of what you are doing.
  • Do not find excuses. Do what you should be doing.
  • Be on time.
  • Establish authority, standards, and priorities and stick with them.
  • Master your habits. Discipline yourself. Stop living in future fantasies.

10 points to manage time

Time management is important for everyone, including writers. We often have to make time to write, and it’s important for us to use the time doing that in place of giving in to the temptation of doing wasteful things. If I’m not careful, my fingers sneak that curser right over to Facebook.

Some points in the article:

  • When traveling or waiting, use the time to read, write, or plan.
  • Accept and transcend past failures.
  • Take charge. Master your time. Don’t let others control your life.
  • Effectiveness, efficiency, and control are the secrets behind time management.
  • Set priorities by eliminating unimportant tasks.
  • Organize your life. Know what you want and use time wisely to pursue it.
  • Manage sleeping time. Sleep enough hours to rest, but not more than is needed.
  • Learn to live one day at a time.
  • Make the most of every good opportunity.
  • Understand God’s will and seek to fulfill it. Our time should be His

The fun of editing

Well, I’m editing my book, Where the River Goes. It’s a rather long process, and I hope to have it ready to publish sometime this spring. Today I attempted a book blurb. That seems to me like one of the hardest parts of preparing a book for publication. I must write it over and over to get it right, and even then, I’m not sure about it.

I started the editing process by going through a long list of words to delete. Or to change for a different word. Or to change the structure of the sentence to make it sound better. Words like ‘that’, ‘just’, ‘like’, ‘then’, ‘that’ and ‘look’ seem to be sprinkled through my WIP like nobody’s business. It’s amazing when I type in a word in ‘Find’ on the Microsoft Word toolbar how many times I use the same filter words. Have to get rid of those pesky little rascals.

Other words like variants of ‘to see’, ‘to think’, ‘to watch’, ‘to seem’, ‘to notice’ and ‘realize’ are often guilty of taking the reader out of the head of the POV character, which is not good. You want the reader to stay with the POV character to keep them involved in the story. Don’t want to lose your reader, do you?

Another important step is to skim through the pages to see how many times I use a character’s name when I could use a pronoun. Wow! I do that way too often. I recently read a book that often uses the name of a character several times in one paragraph. Way too often. It bothers me as a reader, so I don’t want to be guilty of this.

The next step is to run the whole story, a chapter at a time, through the Hemingway app, which is a free program. This app points out the frequent use of adverbs and passive voice. It also tells you if your sentences are difficult to read and when a phrase or word has a simpler alternative. This is especially useful when a writer tends to use too many adverbs, or, like me, uses the passive voice too often.

Another app that can be helpful is Grammarly. As an English teacher, I don’t really like this app, but in some cases, it will catch errors for me like the wrong use of a word, a misspelled word, or a comma error. I often disagree with it, so I don’t always use it, but it does sometimes show me errors I have missed. It’s worth using most of the time. You can use the free app or pay a little for the premium which gives more details about sentence structure and other things.

Presently my book is with my first beta reader. This reader will look for plot holes, inconsistencies, and unrealistic scenes. If she notices any errors, she will note those as well. As an avid reader, she (my granddaughter who recently graduated college and has a career in marketing) is invaluable to me. She totally understands my need for complete honesty to improve my writing and make my book the best it can be.

Then I have two other beta readers who will read it to find errors, plot holes, ‘show, not tell’, and such. One is a retired English teacher, the other a librarian at a local public school, and both are writers. I would trust these people with my work any time. Their voluntary help is invaluable to me.

One of the best things I have done as a writer is to join a local writers’ group that meets monthly for critique sessions and other beneficial programs for writers. We encourage each other and celebrate the accomplishments of members. Sometimes we meet between monthly meetings for special critique sessions. We also attend conferences when possible and share information with others who can’t attend.

Isn’t writing fun?

When characters become directors

As I near the end of my novel, I have to go back to change some things to make the end events come out right. I changed the occupation of one character to lawyer so she could take care of some legal matters in the resolution. It’s funny, but several times my characters seemed to override actions I had planned for them, causing my plot to change. Hmmmm!

I’m amazed when that happens. The other day, two of my characters—one of my favorites—died. I struggled with whether the protagonist should die. Once I thought I should kill him off, then thought I wouldn’t. I thought about putting him in an insane asylum. I thought about having him see his wrongs and change into a good man. It can happen!

I was just typing away, and all at once something happened, and he died! Then another character ended up dying with him. Wow! I didn’t know that was going to happen. I didn’t plan it. Now I have to go in and deal with all that emotion.

Once, one of my characters got lost and I had no idea where he was. It took a few days, but I did finally find him.

I have decided how to end my story. I just wonder if my characters will allow me to end it my way. They may change some things, but maybe not too many. In one of my previous works, the end was almost totally different than I had planned.

Do you think I should override the characters and insist it be my way? I wonder.

No cursing in my novels

thiebaud-faix-1178408-unsplash My book will not have cursing in it. If someone curses, I say, “He cursed.” I don’t use actual curse words. That’s my preference. Others say they want their stories to be realistic, so they use curse words. As a former teacher, I’ve seen and read many books by popular authors who use no cursing in their books. I don’t curse, and I don’t like cursing. I’m not offended by it; I’m actually seldom offended by anything. Just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean it offends me. My feelings are this: I want anyone to be able to enjoy my writing. Those who curse and those who don’t. If I add cursing in my dialogue, I’m alienating a group of people who don’t want to read books with cursing. If I don’t use cursing, I’m not really alienating anyone. I asked a group of students if they preferred books with cursing or no cursing. They said it doesn’t matter. What matters is if the book is good. But I have had students who didn’t like books with cursing. It’s a matter of preference and sometimes morals. I do feel that what we read and hear affects us and the way we speak. As a parent, I never wanted my children to be exposed to vulgar language. I wasn’t exposed to it as a child, and I never had issues with cursing or vulgar words being part of my language. I worked at school this week, and as I stood in the hall watching junior high students go to class, I heard the vilest language come from the mouth of a cute little blonde girl. I think this is common nowadays. How sad. How do you feel about realistic dialogue? How do you feel about the use of cursing in books you read?

Dialogue is the bomb!

Writers who advise other writers say make your dialogue realistic. Every person doesn’t talk the same, so your characters shouldn’t either. Boy, that gets challenging.

I’ve worked to give my characters different voices. When the people who live in a certain area speak, they speak simply and use slang and bad grammar. When my characters who are educated and professional people speak, they use less slang and more proper language.

Now I’m returning to the manuscript to do some layering. I’m giving one character a slang-word: Dadgum. I’m giving the main character the ability to sing and play music very well. The antagonist loves to hear him play and sing and has a favorite song he requests. I had to do a little research to find good guitar songs. That was fun. I heard songs I’ve never heard before.

Editing is hard work. I have so much to do before this book is done. Lord help this writer!

Thank God for lists!

Do you ever have a problem repeating words while you’re writing? I sure do. I’m aware that when I finish writing this novel (Where the River Goes) I’ll have a ton of work editing and rewriting it. A lot of it will be searching out and killing those repetitious words and phrases.

I’ve found a website that helps me avoid using repetition so much as I write.: http://www.wordhippo.com.  I love this site! I keep it running while I’m writing so I can refer to it often with a click of the mouse. Another resource I’ve found helpful is Pinterest. I search for something like ‘writing a novel’ and tons of information is available to help me be a better writer. I have three one-inch binders full of helpful articles, word lists, name lists, etc. I use constantly.

I organized my binders by using dividers to section off topics such as plot structure, character development, conflict, story structure, layering, and on and on. Great writers seem to enjoy sharing their knowledge with us lesser writers, and I’m glad. I benefit so much from their shared wisdom.

I also save information about publishing, book signings, and marketing. I’m like a sponge when it comes to learning more about my craft. Because I’m a retired English teacher I do okay with grammar, but there’s countless articles to be found for those who aren’t. Grammarly can help, but it isn’t always right.  

I have lists of body language and facial expressions I use constantly. I find these imperative to help me express what is going on with my characters. I also have lists of attributes, values, careers, and other things that come in handy.  

Thank God for writers willing to share their knowledge, for lists, and for binders.

Holiday writing

I sure am enjoying writing over the holidays! My novel is coming together nicely as I start working on the climax and nearing the end. I have to do some layering, going back to add scenes and amp up the plot. Some of my characters need added depth. I’m not sure they have a realistic balance of strengths and flaws to make them believable. Especially the MC.

I have to check descriptions. Probably I’ll have to add some. I’m sure I’ll have to add emotions to scenes. I always have a little trouble with that. I know I need more suspense. Wow, I have work to do! And I haven’t even started working on ridding the story of filter words, repetitions, passive voice and being verbs.

I’m hoping to finish the story in the next couple of months. Then to start edits before I submit it to beta readers. I’m happy that a couple of writer friends have volunteered to beta read it in addition to some others I have.

Here is a scene I wrote the other night. I’d love it if you’d make a comment about it.

A group of angry men gathered under a tree in the Johnsons’ yard. Anger boiled over onto the women who served meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. It boiled over onto rowdy children who played chase around trees and stumps and through and around the legs of the adults.

                “Wade, you said yourself we caint keep doin’ nothin’. Nobody else’ll help us. It’s up to us to fix things around here.”

                “You got that right, Josiah. I’m sick of the law ignoring us. They don’t care when it comes to river people.”

                Other piqued voices joined in and everyone was talking at once. A man near the center of the crowd raised his hand and shushes spread through the group until all was quiet.

“Pa Eli is speaking,” someone said. All eyes turned toward the small, grizzled man.

                “Folks, anger and bitterness will get us nowhere,” he drawled. Heads nodded, and he continued. “We gotta consider the truth, and we gotta have a plan.” He perched on a tall stump and contemplated his audience. “The truth is, people who got no rights are interrupting our lives and taking what’s ours. We’ve asked for help and got nothing. We gotta take matters into our own hands.”

                Fists pumped the air and affirmations articulated the mood. Once more, all grew quiet when Pa Eli opened his mouth. “One thing we gotta remember—people, good and bad, have value. We have to be careful to protect the innocent.” A long hesitation punctuated the importance of his statement.

“Our creator gave us soul to balance us. We have emotions to stir us, a will to move us, and a mind to guide us. We don’t need to get all riled up and act stupid. We have to use our brains to get us going in the right direction.”

Christmas

What a wonderful time I’ve had today celebrating Christmas with family. First, dinner with my in-laws is always enjoyable. We share good food and good conversation, then load up with leftovers to eat later.

This evening our kids and grand kids came to the house. We open our gifts from each other, eat, then play games. We laugh a lot as we play and tease each other. My grand-son-in-law taught us a new game tonight called 4-on-the-couch. It was challenging and a lot of fun. Of course, no matter what we play, we have fun.

We made too much food, though. Meatballs, Mexican cornbread, Tamale dip, candies, and more. Tamale Dip is easy to make and good for any event.

Here is my recipe for Tamale Dip.

  • 1 can tamales
  • 1 can chili, no beans
  • 1 can Rotel
  • ¼ pound Velveeta

Remove paper from tamales and smash them. Keep the juice. Add chili and Rotel. Chunk up the Velveeta and add to mixture. Heat until cheese is melted. Serve with Tostitos chips, corn chips, or whatever you prefer.