Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Writing Wisdom: Ann McIndoo

Did you ever think you’d like to write a book? Writing coach Ann McIndoo not only challenges her clients write their book in 90 days; she also tells them to position themselves to be famous.

“Establish your credibility as an expert by writing a book,” she says. “Publicity and speaking engagements are much easier to get when you’ve got the book to use as your calling card.” A book opens doors for you to meet influential people.

As Mark Victor Hansen says, “People will remember you by the books you write.”

McIndoo says there are four reasons why people don’t get their books written:
    ●    No Deadlines
    ●    No Structure
    ●    No Commitment
    ●    No Coach to keep them on track

“If you want to write a non-fiction book, then you must have these four elements,” McIndoo says. She divides the process into five key steps.

Key #1 Set a Deadline

“Decide, commit, and resolve should be your goals,” she says. “Set up a writing place and schedule your time to work on it. You must take action by stepping forward.”

Key #2 Set a Structure

“Decide your chapters, put the subjects in order, and look for sub-topics to go into each chapter,” she says.

She encourages her clients to go on an Author’s Personal Book Tour by physically going to the bookstore and checking out the competition. “Look at the components of the books that are your competition,” she says. “What three sections of the store does your book belong in? Make a space on the shelf for YOUR book.”

Stephen R. Covey says, “Successful people begin with the end in mind,” and McIndoo says a great way to do this yourself is to physically see your book in that space you made on the shelf.

Key #3 Proven Success

“Follow the success of others,” she says. “Proven shortcuts equal results. Get your book done quickly by seeing what others have already done.”

Key #4 Get a Coach

“Have a coach or a support group. This act alone will help you make progress because you’ll be held accountable to others,” she says.

Key #5 Set a Special Time to Write

“Make an appointment with yourself to write,” she says. “Set up your writing environment, then follow the three Ds of Writing: Discipline, Dedication, and Determination.”

Monday, February 14, 2011

Been There, Done That: Kevin Bacon

From 2002 to 2006, my husband was the set medic on the WB television series Everwood, which was filmed in Utah. Although I have stories to tell about my encounters with the cast of that show, this blog is about the final wrap party at the end of the series.

Over the years I’ve been to a variety of wrap parties, and when it came to Everwood I’d also been to several other parties held throughout the years, including Christmas events and times that Treat Williams decided to host a private concert or two.

But this party opened from the start with a different tone. This was going to be the final party, the one that would wrap the entire series, not just the end of a season. So, the entertainment committee decided to go all out. In addition to great food and a fun outdoor setting decorated for atmosphere, the committee had also hired a variety of locals to stop at each table and visit with the members of the cast and crew.

Mike and I were visited by several of these people, allowing them to demonstrate their specialty. We saw card tricks, Mike had his Tarot cards read, and I had my fortune told by a palm reader. Now, I’d never had my fortune told before so it was kind of a fun thing to participate in, even though I knew nothing I heard from her would ever be remotely true.

“Would you like to hear your fortune?” the woman said as she neared our table.

“Why not?” I said as she took a seat between the two of us and took my right hand into hers.

She studied my palm for several minutes, then started to tell me a variety of things about myself, none of which I actually remember.

But then she made a declaration I have never forgotten. “You are Kevin Bacon.”

Some of you might remember the trivia game that was popular at the time, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, based on the idea that, due to Kevin Bacon’s prolific screen career, any Hollywood actor can be linked to another in a handful of steps based on their associations with him. The game as a whole used the small world phenomenon idea that any person can be linked to another person by chaining together a person each knows with someone that person knows, tying us all together in six links of the chain.

At first Mike and I started to laugh, but the woman insisted. “No, you are Kevin Bacon. People come to you because of the people you know. You are the center and important people rotate around you. You are someone because of the people you now, and other people want to know you to make themselves closer to your friends and acquaintances.”

After we had thanked her for the reading, and she had moved on to another table, we started to talk about what she had said. Within a few minutes, we began to realize she might be right.

“President George W. Bush,” Mike said.

“My niece, Connie, met George W. Bush when he campaigned in Iowa,” I said. “That makes me one person away from meeting him.”

“Michael Jackson,” he said.

“That one’s easy, and I have it a couple of different ways,” I said. “My friend Jinafer once met Michael and got his autograph, but I have an even closer connection. I’m friends with Alan Osmond, and we all know the history between the Jacksons and the Osmonds.”

“So, another one-step,” he said.

We tried authors, actors, politicians, and every time I was able to link to them in less than six degrees, sometimes actually knowing the person he asked about myself, making it zero steps to fill the game.

Now, years later, I still sometime contemplate the palm reader’s comment that I was Kevin Bacon, and I’ve found that it’s come even more true because in many occasions I’ve been the one to stand in the center and introduce two people who end up being important contacts for each other in the world of business, writing, education, or public speaking. I’ve had friends comment, “You know everybody!”

And I do. I guess I am Kevin Bacon.

So, how close am I personally to Kevin Bacon? My husband met and worked with him just last week on X-Men: First Class, making me only one step away from the point man himself.