#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

Winners and More on the List of 20

Our winners are: Maria Sanchez and Candy Charville.  Congratulations, both of you.  To recap: each week, two winners will be chosen at random from the comment section of this blog.  Each winner will receive an autographed copy of my latest release, and their names will be announced here, usually on Monday.  

I wanted to address a couple of comments that appeared after I mentioned my favorite brainstorming tool, the List of 20.  One lady said that, despite physical challenges, she wanted to get more housework done, and I wanted to address that–from the sounds of things, that blog reader is already doing plenty; in other words, the last thing I wanted was to inspire guilt!  In this case, I would rather recommend another kind of list entirely–“What are 20 things I’ve done well in my life?”  or “What are 20 things I could do to be kinder to myself?”  We are at all different stages of life, which makes us a pretty interesting bunch, methinks.  :)  I use the technique to build a plot and understand my characters better, but I also use it in many other ways.  “What are 20 places I would like to visit?”  or “What 20 things do I most want to accomplish this year?”  The possibilities, obviously, are limitless.

The second comment was actually a question.  Someone wanted a clearer explanation of what the List of 20 is.  My answer is, the List of 20 is a brainstorming tool, a way to generate ideas, and to go beyond the stuff that usually comes up first to get to the good stuff.  I have a notebook for my lists now, as I want to keep things in one place for easier reference later on, but you could just as easily use a single sheet of paper, the back of an envelope, etc.  The most important things to remember are: don’t overthink–write as fast as you can, get it all down on paper, and don’t judge.  The first few ideas I come up with are usually ridiculous, but I put them down anyway, for the sake of momentum.  Invariably, good ideas pop up toward the end.

I use the technique mainly for plotting stories in the first place or solving problems that come up in the writing.  If I find I’ve painted myself into a corner, in terms of a story I’m writing, I can use the technique to find a new direction.  

Questions are always handy–I might ask myself, for instance, “What does the reader expect to happen here?”  I will then look for a twist, something that would surprise you.  (I hope.)  I don’t know about you, but I love it when an author takes me somewhere I didn’t expect to go.  Because I have read a great deal, as have all of you, I see patterns in books I’m reading or listening to, and I start anticipating how things will turn out for the story people.  I often guess correctly–but I still read on most of the time, to find out if I’m right.  :)  Few things please me more than being surprised, as long as the writer has laid the proper groundwork.  If something comes totally out of left field, I get annoyed.  The best books are interactive; the reader is a participant, not merely an onlooker, a game played out on the field of imagination, where the writer and the reader meet and share an experience.

I had a good weekend, spending Saturday puttering around home, playing with the pets, listening to books, etc.  I did a few Lists of 20 for the second historical novel, to follow “The Blue and the Gray”.  On Sunday, I went to see my mom, and we visited for a while.  I brought her potato chips and two new books–at 88, my mother is still an avid reader.  She taught me to love books and I will always be grateful for that–and many other things, of course.

Tomorrow is New Book Day, so I’ll be on Audible.com for sure, checking out what’s on offer.  This week’s favorites are: “The Five-Second Rule”, by Mel Robbins, (previously mentioned), “The Golden Hour”, by T. Greenwood, a suspense novel by an author I always enjoy, and “17 Carnations” by Andrew Morton.  I’m still listening to this one–it’s another story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  

I’m still recovering from burning the midnight oil, so I’m mainly making lists and notes and doing a lot of thinking.  

See you tomorrow.  Or the next day.

But soon.



25 comments to “Winners and More on the List of 20”

  1. Leanna
      · March 13th, 2017 at 3:54 pm · Link

    My mother showed me the importance of reading when I was a child as well. I read way more than here now.

  2. Theresa
      · March 13th, 2017 at 3:54 pm · Link

    Don’t over think!! That will get you in trouble sometimes! ha

  3. Ruby Norwood
      · March 13th, 2017 at 3:59 pm · Link

    I have always loved to read, but like you sometimes I do love a little twist in my books. Enjoyed the blog! Congrats to Maria and Candy on your win.

  4. Candy charville
      · March 13th, 2017 at 4:03 pm · Link

    Can’t wait for my book …. thank you so much …

  5. Teresa G
      · March 13th, 2017 at 4:12 pm · Link

    I love a good twist in my books. :)

  6. Gloria Herring
      · March 13th, 2017 at 4:16 pm · Link

    Congratulations to the winners, Maria Sanchez and Candy Charville!! Enjoy your book.

    I have a question Linda, pertaining to your list making. I’ve made list for years, and some have never been attained, even though I’ve accomplished other things, instead, but…what happens when your one BIG dream is impossible to attain, due to lack of finances, help, and sometimes…energy. How do you cope with that, or have you ever had that happen to you?

    Have a good and godly rest of the week.

  7. Melaine
      · March 13th, 2017 at 4:25 pm · Link

    Linda, do you ever participate in the Tucson Festival of Books? I understand that it is the 3rd largest in the US, with a wonderful array of authors and vendors. It seems to grow larger every year. Your friend, RaeAnne Thayne, was here this year. I have read a number of her books which I enjoy.

    I like your idea of Lists of 20. I used to do something similar when I was still in my career, however, I don’t recall I had a name for it. But it was very helpful in organizing my thoughts, and especially the steps I needed to take to get from point A to point Z for a paper, a project, or an event.

  8. pat Dennis
      · March 13th, 2017 at 4:34 pm · Link

    I suffer from RA, and always feel like I am never “sometimessou know what I mean. I do have a list, and sometimes items are rotated.
    I am always ready to read of course!

  9. midge watkins
      · March 13th, 2017 at 4:37 pm · Link

    Thanks for “splaining” more on the 20 list. I’m notoriously not
    a self starter and this may help. My friend is bugging me to do
    a painting for her and, as I am strictly an amateur, not a pro, I
    do these things more on a whim. I’ll “get er done”, but it won’t
    be tomorrow! Meanwhile, the horses are shedding like crazy and the birds want their houses up, so priorities. Take care.

  10. Virginia Horton
      · March 13th, 2017 at 5:21 pm · Link

    Great post Linda, I always enjoy them. I like you idea of list but I am lucky to get my grocery items put on a list. I guess I am not that organized and just live from day to day.

  11. Ann Bartholomew
      · March 13th, 2017 at 5:34 pm · Link

    Congratulations to the winners!
    Linda, you sound sooooo organized. I, on the other hand (pun not intended), am very left-handed and tend to put things off. I guess my list of 20 should start with attending to things NOW instead of later! My desires usually win out and I read a book instead of dusting. I’m retired and feel no shame.

  12. Janet Hurt
      · March 13th, 2017 at 6:01 pm · Link

    You have a great week too. I am trying to recover from sinus/bronchitis yuck! Later!

  13. Jan
      · March 13th, 2017 at 6:26 pm · Link

    Congrats winners!
    I like the idea of making a list of twenty things you want to accomplish and plaves we want to go this year! In fact, my husband and I have started our list-separately and then we’ll combine. Thanks for your inspiration!

  14. Carol Luciano
      · March 13th, 2017 at 7:22 pm · Link

    Congrats winners. Your posts are always very encouraging and positive. Thanks for zall great reading hours your books have given me.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  15. Linda
      · March 13th, 2017 at 7:45 pm · Link

    Hope your week is restful and fulfilling

  16. Caryn Horn
      · March 13th, 2017 at 8:03 pm · Link

    I’m glad you turned the 20 into something positive. I never thought of being kinder to myself, but I know I need to. I’m caregiving for a former co-worker since all of her family is out of state and all of her friends work. She’s actually more demanding than my mom was, and I thought my mom was bad! What gets to me most is her language. I’m actually embarrassed when she uses the foul language in public. So by the end of the month we should be done. THAT’s when being kinder to myself will definitely come into play. I won’t step back from her right now. Thanks for the reminder Lael. Have a terrific week and next weekend! :-D

  17. Lois Rotella
      · March 13th, 2017 at 8:31 pm · Link

    I kinda do a list in my head. I should write it down and go back and check it out. Right now I am trying to a family tree for a new friend. I enjoy doing genealogy. When I find a new family member and write the time they were born and where I think about the history of that time. It fascinates me. I will have pently of time since we are expecting a blizzard with a possibility of 18 to 24 inches of snow. Have a great week and congrats to the winners this week.

  18. Roberta Giordano
      · March 13th, 2017 at 9:14 pm · Link

    Congratulations to the winners ! I wouldn’t even know where to begin on making a list. Hope you have a nice week.

  19. Deborah Nelson
      · March 13th, 2017 at 10:19 pm · Link

    Thanks for the clarification. :-)

  20. Lorelei
      · March 13th, 2017 at 10:52 pm · Link

    Love the lists of 20 when my characters get stuck. Super good idea. Congrats to the winners. (Jealous me)

    Lorelei :wink:

  21. Evelyn Baldwin
      · March 13th, 2017 at 11:00 pm · Link

    I lovenhow you keepnyour books interesting! I love how they end! I’m reading, Two by Two by Nickolas Sparks and I can’t seem to get where this may go! I do love his books but I have to put them down! I get all twisted up in his story line and how this may end! That’s his style, keep you guessing! Ugg!

  22. Elaine Key
      · March 14th, 2017 at 8:57 am · Link

    My Mother also taught me the love of reading. Now that I am retired, I can read a whole lot more. I love trying to guess who committed the murder and sometimes I am right and sometimes I am totally surprised. I even talk to the characters in the book and tell them what to do. I get upset when they don’t listen to me. No, I am not crazy. That’s just enjoying what I read.

    Thanks for clearing up the list of 20.

  23. Marie Potts
      · March 14th, 2017 at 1:43 pm · Link

    First I would like to say I love your books. They are like a vacation to me. Reading is a passion for me and I’ve often encouraged my daughter to read and she too loves to read to the point she’s been ask to be in honors reading at her school. Your blog on list was dead on . They seem to make things go a lot smoother.

  24. Tammy Carter
      · March 14th, 2017 at 9:29 pm · Link

    I am always so excited to see your blog show up in my email. Even more excited the week of a new release or if I discover a book of yours I have yet to read. Your witty and fun. You always speak respectfully of your family, and have a great relationship with our furry friends. Thank you for the years of entertainment…..keep on typing

  25. Kathleen O
      · March 16th, 2017 at 10:27 am · Link

    I can still remember going to the library for the first time as a young child and being filled with wonder that I could read any I wanted to.. Reading has been a life saver for me. I rarely go anywhere without a book and it’s even been made easier with my kindle and my phone.. And your books have been a must read for me.

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