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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Woodbury gets Dramatic in A Dead End In Vegas

Irene Woodbury has just published her second novel, A DEAD END IN VEGAS, and, might I add, I personally loved it. Woodbury’s first book, A SLOT MACHINE ATE MY MIDLIFE CRISIS, was more on the humorous side, but her latest is jam-packed with drama. It’s an action-packed, fast-moving read.

Having interviewed Woodbury after the release of her first novel, I couldn’t wait to reach out and interview her again on A DEAD END IN VEGAS. With a completely different storyline and style, I had questions!

First off, I wanted to know what inspired Irene Woodbury to write A DEAD END IN VEGAS, since it’s a totally different genre than her last novel. Woodbury’s response: “I had heard about couples who met on the Internet, and then got together in person. Some of them flew across the U.S., or even from one country to another. They had high hopes and were very excited, and, most of the time, it was a positive, romantic experience. But I couldn’t help wondering about a situation where it went really badly--and maybe even ended tragically. It was an idea I couldn’t let go of. And so, little by little, I started to put the plot together and create the characters.” 
That led to my next question: How long did it take to write A DEAD END IN VEGAS? “I thought about it for three or four months,” Woodbury answered, “then spent two years writing it.” I wasn’t surprised. The way the characters were represented and married into the storyline, I could tell it was no fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants book for sure! 
It’s amazing to me that someone can put together a complex storyline--keeping the details to precise perfection--and put it all down in print. I asked Woodbury if there was any truth in her novel (it just felt so real when I read it, like no one could have made that up). She responded, “It took a few months to think it through. I had this idea about a couple—both of them married--who try to meet for a week in Vegas, and it turns into a disaster. But then, when I came up with the friend of the man meeting her, their affair, and her death, I knew I had a book.” 
I asked Woodbury about choosing character names. Did she have them in her head from the start, or did each character grow into their name? Woodbury explained, “Sometimes I have the names early on, sometimes I change them over and over till it sounds, and feels, right. When I’m stuck, I look up most popular baby names on the computer, or the 1,000 most common surnames in the U.S. I can spend days looking at websites trying to create names of towns, too. When you’re writing, sometimes it’s kind of a break, and you prolong the process because you’re trying to avoid the writing. I’ve done that a lot.” I think prolonging the writing, and extra research, are what made this story pop! 
So, do writers fall in love with their characters, or one in particular, I wondered? I asked Woodbury if she had a favorite character in A DEAD END IN VEGAS. She most certainly did: troubled teenager Randy. “He’s in a terrible situation,” she pointed out, “and too young to know how to handle it. He’s angry, rebellious, deeply wounded, and full of vengeance and confusion. I couldn’t believe his trip to Vegas, how resourceful he was about the whole thing. And he dies a sort of heroic death.” Isn’t it funny how a writer reflects on her characters as if they themselves wrote the script of their life--when in fact it was the author? 
I asked Woodbury if she could personally relate to any one of the characters? If so, who, and why? She shared, “I relate to all of them, good and bad; Tricia’s vulnerability, Dave’s stubbornness, Sally’s compassion, Mike’s practicality, Randy’s impulsiveness, and Sarah’s innocence.” 
Okay, once you get the opportunity to read this amazing book you will better understand the next question I had to ask Woodbury. I had to know if she felt it was a little cruel to leave Cindy high and dry on her wedding day? “Oh, yes,” Woodbury replied, “but I honestly believe Dave realizes, as he’s about to put the ring on her finger, that this might not be the best thing for him—or her—because of his feelings for Sally. Once he sees Stella at the wedding with Mike, he realizes that the marriage between Mike and Sally is on its last legs. That causes him to re-examine his feelings and back out of the marriage. In a way, I hate what he does, but I also think he’s doing what he thinks is right.” 
I couldn’t resist asking about a sequel to A DEAD END IN VEGAS. Will there be one? “That would be wonderful!” Woodbury said with a smile. “I’d love to find out what happens at the wedding after Dave and Sally walk out. How do Mike and Stella react? And what about Ryan and Sarah? What does Cindy do? Those are the burning questions. I would love to plot it out and write a sequel, but I would need to give it a lot of thought.” 
So, there is hope! But I still had to know why she ended the book the way she did (read it and you’ll see what I mean). Woodbury shared with me exclusively, “As I wrote A DEAD END IN VEGAS, it became more and more apparent that all Sally talked about was Dave. In the beginning, she doesn’t even like him and blames him for what happened to Tricia. But, as the story develops and she sees him in all these different situations, she starts to understand him and feel sorry for him. I think that Dave and Sally bond over Tricia’s death; to me, it’s a positive thing that love came from the tragedy.”
She went on, “Also, one of my favorite expressions is: ‘Life is what’s happening to you while you’re busy making other plans.’ Sally doesn’t realize what’s happening as the story moves along, and neither do we. And then, suddenly, it has happened. We don’t quite know how, or when, but it has. And that’s the way real life is. I like that.” 

Regardless of whether you like the way the book ends, it gives readers the opportunity to add their own mental sequel. I can also guarantee that you will not forget the characters in A DEAD END IN VEGAS anytime soon. I give the book five stars, and would like to thank Irene Woodbury for the opportunity to get the inside scoop behind the author and A DEAD END IN VEGAS.


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    Friday, September 19, 2014

    Unleash the Power of Mornings

    As a business owner you may often feel as though there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done.  But, if you learn how to use your mornings more effectively, which tends to be a time of day when demands aren't as high, you may be able to increase your productivity.  To help you with this, I have put together some simple ways in which you can unleash the power of mornings.

         Distractions – As you know, your day tends to fill up fast with many different tasks that all need to be done.  This means that if you choose to put off something until later, it may not get done.  Getting important tasks done in the early morning hours is much easier because there are fewer distractions and demands on your time.  If you are constantly trying to find time throughout the day to work out or simply write down your thoughts for the day, mornings can be the best time.

    Willpower – Even if you’re not a morning person, it is still important to know that your level of willpower is at its strongest during these hours.  The more that you deal with clients and are forced to make business related decisions, the weaker your willpower becomes.  So, if you have projects and decisions to make that require a higher level of willpower, you should perform these tasks in the morning when you are stronger.

    Tone – When you wake up earlier and avoid feeling rushed you have the ability to set a positive tone for the rest of your day.  We've all hit snooze a few too many times some days, and that has left us feeling defeated even before we got started.  To ensure that you have the best positive outlook on the day, wake up early and avoid the urge to hit snooze.

    If the mere thought of waking up early sends you running, just remember that these can be some of the most productive hours of the day.  It can be a time for you to schedule out your day and ensure that you are not running behind.  Avoid the stress that comes later in the day by starting your day off early and prepared.


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      Friday, September 5, 2014

      Encouraging Your Kids To Become Entrepreneurs

      The majority of successful entrepreneurs often credit the way they were raised with their success.  In some cases it may be because they were raised by parents with a strong work ethic, in others it may be that they were encouraged by their parents to follow their dreams.  If you are one of the many successful entrepreneurs who were raised in this manner, and have gone on to experience a great deal of success, you may want to pass that trait onto your children.  If you would like your children to become entrepreneurs, there are some steps you can take to help them develop their own love of business.

      To help your children develop a love for business and become interested in entrepreneurship, you need to invite them into your business life.  Allow them to see first-hand what it takes to run a business and everything that is involved.  You may even want to give them a special job that will help them understand what is involved in running a successful business.  Simply by allowing your children to enter into your business life, you will help them develop their natural interests and answer some of the questions they may have.

      If your child shows signs of being interested in business, you should nurture those interests.  No matter how small their business goals may be at the time, showing them that you support their endeavors will help them become more confident in their business aspirations.  It is important that you allow your children the opportunity to discover what success is and find out how rewarding running their own business can be.  The best way to encourage your children that entrepreneurship may be the right path for them is to support their interests. 

      Every successful entrepreneur understands that the first step in creating a successful business is to feed their curiosity.  How are certain things made, what goes into the manufacturing process, how will it be marketed, who can benefit from it.  These are all questions that often ignite the curiosity of an entrepreneur and are naturally found in children.  Feed your child’s natural curiosity and allow them to discover the answer to these questions for themselves.  In many cases, children often have ideas on how games or toys can be made better, allow them to play with these ideas and you may be surprised at the outcome.


      As entrepreneurs we are all too familiar with failure, but our children may not be.  It is important that you pass on your knowledge and explain to them that failure is all part of the game.  Your children should understand that failure is not a devastating experience; it can actually help you grown and design a product or business that will be more successful next time.  If your child understands that there is always another opportunity available, they will not lose hope when they are faced with failure.



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        Friday, August 22, 2014

        How You Can Work Smarter and Save Time Throughout The Day

        We’re all familiar with the phrase, “work smarter, not harder” but trying to implement this rule can be a little difficult.  First of all, every morning when we log onto our computers, the first thing that greets us is an inbox full of emails that require our immediate attention, our phone starts ringing, and the mail shows up.  With all of these things going on throughout your workday, how can you possible find a way to do it smarter? 

        The hard to face reality for many of us is that our regular ways of handling our daily activities may not be as productive as we think.  When you fail to plan your day accordingly, you will likely spend time performing tasks that really aren't producing any positive results.  When you do this, you will discover that you have likely spent a lot of time performing tasks that weren't in need of your immediate attention, or could have been taken care of in a more effective way.  To help you discover the art of working smarter I have put together some tips to get you started.


        • Structure – The most successful people understand that including structure into your schedule will help you develop a routine of success.  If you find yourself continually running around throughout the day, trying to take care of every little thing, you will discover that have fallen behind and are starting to feel burned out.  To have the most effective day possible, you need to put some kind of structure in place. 

          Scheduling time to perform specific tasks throughout the day will help keep you focused on what needs to be accomplished.  If you break this structure, and start performing tasks willy-nilly throughout the day, you will end up wasting a lot of your day.  When you schedule your day you will be able to prioritize what needs to be done first, and delegate what doesn't require your personal attention.  Accepting the importance of structure in your day, will make you smarter and more effective individual.
        • Avoid Multitasking – It may be possible for people to successfully multitask; but for the majority of us, it is not possible.  The human brain is not designed to focus on two different tasks at once.  When you attempt to multitask, you end up wasting more time trying to fix what went wrong during the attempt.  When you focus on one thing completely, you will be able to do it right the first time and avoid the need to have to correct any errors you may have made trying to multitask.  This will also help you gain time throughout your day that you can then spend on other tasks.
        • Breaks – This may sound a little counterproductive, but when you include breaks in your daily schedule, you will experience a greater amount of success.  When you are constantly rushing through the day trying to get as much done as possible, you tend to burnout towards the end of the day.  But, if you set aside time for breaks, you will discover that your mind relaxes and you have enough energy to make through the day.  You shouldn't feel guilty about taking breaks, they are designed to keep your mind and body rejuvenated, which will lead to working smarter and not harder.
        • Power Off – Many of us tend to rely on our cell phones throughout the day.  Whether we use them stay in contact with clients while we are on the go, or to check emails, they can be rather distracting when we are trying to focus on our work.  To work smarter, it is recommended that you turn off your phone and focus on what needs your immediate attention.  Every time our phone vibrates or alerts us to a new email, we are distracted from the task at hand.  To be more productive throughout the day, schedule time where you allow yourself to check messages and respond; other than that leave your phone off.



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