Monthly Archives: May 2012

Paying It Forward

Opportunity Knocks at Marketing For Romance Writers Summer Camp. Open the door to our MOTTO: SEEK, TEACH, LEARN, SHARE, SUCCEED

Today, please welcome Pauline Baird Jones who will be talking about the other theme of my blog—writing. She has authored 12 novels, the most recent of which is Kicking Ashe.  She also has published three handbooks on writing.

 Welcome Pauline


One day, when my daughter was little, she asked me, “Mom, how do you know what you know?

I looked at her, blinked a couple of times, and responded, “I learned it from someone else.”

Teaching and learning are fairly simple–and really obvious–concepts and yet…to learn a person needs to be teachable. We start out teachable, but too often, along the path to becoming grownup, we forget how to learn.

Being teachable is really important for authors. We need to be able to learn the craft, be able to adjust to a changing marketplace, and manage our personal businesses (yes, an author is a business).

Thankfully, there are people who are willing to share what they know to those taking their first publishing steps. I’ve been really lucky about finding people who a) knew stuff and b) were willing to share that stuff with a newbie so green she convinced beans she was one of them.

I can’t go back and shake the hand of the people who helped me when I was new to the business. Many of them I never met in person and some, sadly, are no longer around to thank. I can only do what they did and pay it forward. One way I do that is by directing people to good resources.

I recently had the good fortune to stumble onto a great resource, a yahoo email loop called Marketing for Romance Writers. If I feared I was too old to learn (I have been around the biz for a considerable time), that fear was eased after a week or two. I can still learn.

MFRW totally embraces the concept of paying it forward. In that spirit the loop is hosting a Summer Camp, which promises to be both free and packed with marketing information (details below).

So, how do you know what you know? And are you still teachable?

Marketing for Romance Writers Summer Camp is July 14th – July 15th. To receive updates for the camp or learn more about it and MFRW, please sign up here:

Pauline Baird Jones is the author of twelve novels of varying levels of mayhem and humor. She’s also written two writing handbooks, Adapting Your Novel for Film and Made-up Mayhem and she co-wrote Managing Your Book Writing Business. You can find out more about her and her work at

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Personalities, Horses and Heroes

Opportunity Knocks at Marketing For Romance Writers Summer Camp. Open the door to our MOTTO: SEEK, TEACH, LEARN, SHARE, SUCCEED

What I’m reading: Satin Pleasures by Karen Docter – Fun frolic about keeping priorities straight.

Next week I’ll be hosting Pauline Baird Jones who is going to talk about being teachable—an important ability for everyone, including riders and writers. So this time I thought I’d talk about how personality influences teaching and learning.

I started training animals when I was a pre-teen, taught school in my 20’s, educated my kids (at least in some things) as I raised them and  ended up teaching engineers to use sophisticated software to design computer components. Along the way I learned how much the personality of the animal or human influences how they learn.

My first instructor in this area was my horse, Star, who I talked about last time. I became pretty successful in teaching her to do a lot of different things. Then her second son, Junior, came along and I discovered I needed a different set of tools to work with him. And this has been true with each horse I’ve dealt with.

You can classify horses as having one of four basic personalities. Just like with people, they can be Extroverts or Introverts. They also can be Thinkers or Reacters (emotional). So you can have an extroverted thinker, an extroverted reacter, an introverted thinker and an introverted reacter. Then you add their gender and their experience into the equation and you have a complicated being that requires some thought to train effectively. Each personality type has its pluses and minuses and is good for different things and different riders.

Star was an extroverted thinker. She was friendly, self-confident, rarely afraid of anything and willing to try whatever I asked her. She was also strong-willed and could be difficult. Horses are prey animals and, as such, are basically “scaredy cats.” In the wild they stay alive by being hyper-aware of their environment and ready to run on an instant. Domestication hasn’t done away with that basic instinct. A horse whose emotions dominate sees threats everywhere and can react without thinking. My Portia is a prime example. When I first got her, she would whirl and try to bolt at the slightest provocation. Typical extroverted reacter.

Star, on the other hand, rarely ever reacted to anything. Her version of a spook was to stop, study the offending object for a minute and then go up and sniff it. She had grown up along a railroad track and had experienced earth moving equipment moving around her space, so she learned early that loud noises and big things weren’t usually dangerous. Given her basic self-confidence, she extended this attitude to the rest of her world. You could surprise her, of course. She wasn’t bothered by the fire engine racing down the street, but nearly jumped onto our neighbor’s porch when it suddenly blasted its siren right alongside her. Scared the dickens out of me too!

Because of her personality, Star was easy to teach, once we started communicating properly. She enjoyed learning, experiencing new things and exploring new trails. Portia likes to learn too but gets upset easily, which shuts down her brain. On the other hand, Glory, an introverted reacter, is harder to teach because she’s afraid to try new things. And my husband’s horse, Koko, an introverted thinker, can be down right stubborn about trying anything new. So I have to adjust my methods for each personality.

These personality styles correlate to the characters I write about too. Alpha heroes, particularly military men, are commonly the extroverted thinker type. Brave, self-confident, ready to take on anything. Spunky, smart-ass heroines are usually extrovert reacters. They often take chances, letting their emotions rule their common sense. The quieter “beta” heroes, introverted thinkers, stubbornly do what they think is best. And often the heroine starts out as an introverted reacter but changes during the story.

What personality types do you like best? What type are you? What types do you like to read or write about?

I’m helping to promote an upcoming program for writers called Marketing for Romance Writers Summer Camp. It takes place July 14th – July 15th. To receive updates for the camp or learn more about it and MFRW, please sign up here:

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Best Friend … Best Teacher

What I’m reading: The French Detective’s Woman by Nina Bruhns. Delightful page-turner with wonderful details about Paris.

We all turn to friends for fun, companionship and support with life’s difficulties. If we’re really lucky a good friend can also teach us a lot about life.

My best friend when I was a kid was a horse named Star. I had started riding off and on when I was four, but I didn’t get a horse of my own until I was ten. A year later I got the love of my young life. Star was a beautiful, liver chestnut (dark brown) Morgan mare who turned into the best pal a kid could want.

She didn’t start out that way, though. Six months after we bought her, I was ready to give up and try for another horse. While she was sweet and loving on the ground, she had been badly handled under saddle and was very hard to control on the trail as a result. There were few professional horsemen in my area. Most people bought horses with some basic training and just got on and rode. If a horse gave you problems, you tried a stronger bit and maybe a tie down. The advice we were given by more “experienced” people and even books was the harsh “make her behave” variety. I now know, of course, that was exactly the wrong approach for her.( See my previous post about “asking” mares.)

One day when I was at a really low point, I began playing around with Star on the ground. When we bought her we also bought her yearling colt, Comet. My dad used to play with him and taught him a couple of tricks. Of course Comet got lots of carrots and praise when he did them right. For some reason that afternoon, I gave Star the signal for one of her son’s tricks…and SHE DID IT. I was flabbergasted and tried again and she did it again. It was then I realized that she really wanted the pats and treats too, which had not been many because of her “bad” behavior.

The next day I went to the library and got a book on teaching tricks. I started with the simple ones, such as bowing, counting, nodding “yes” and shaking her head “no.” I soon discovered I had an astonishingly smart horse who would do anything for a carrot and praise. Over the years we developed a large number of tricks and even put on demonstrations at small horse shows. But I also discovered I had a horse who would try her best if you asked her, but would fight like mad against anyone who tried to force her.

I spent a lot of time developing a good relationship with Star on the ground and she learned to trust me. I changed to a milder bit and tried to listen to her as I realized how much she wanted to please. Eventually, we became an inseparable team. We competed in small shows, jumped cross-country, danced in parades, led a Western drill team and covered hundreds of miles of trails. When things got difficult at home, I’d take off on her and find my peace.

Star taught me a different way to deal with life. My family’s approach to life tended to be harsh and critical. She showed me a gentler way to handle problems. And to try and see what was really going on rather than reacting to appearances. She taught me how to be a friend by being my best friend.

Did you have a good friend who taught you something special or made a difference in your life? Who are the people you value?



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