Self-Help Review: Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead but Gutsy Girls Do

Why Good Girls Don‘t Get Ahead but Gutsy Girls Do by Kate White is probably the best self-help book I have ever read. And re-read. And studied. Analyzed. Used to get a raise.

It’s an older title–1996. Someone in my local RWA chapter gave a presentation on the book, and I was fascinated. At the time, I was still working in local TV and still on my Big Business Career Track. The book is full of sound advice. Years later, I still offer its wisdom to my husband when he’s perplexed by something at his Day Job.

My copy of the book is dog-eared and bulging with sticky notes. The pages are a rainbow of colored highlights because something new struck me each time I read it.

Yes, the book is geared toward “executive” women, so there’s a lot of “delegate it downward”attitude, but there is also a lot about how to hoist yourself out of the crap pile.

I loved this book so much, I bought the author’s next self-help book and was disappointed. It seemed more about how wonderful she is. When she spoke at an RWA PAN session, I purchased the recording, and while I’ve listened to her speech innumerable times, again I was struck by her almost smug attitude. She should have quit while she was ahead.

Still, the nine “secrets” revealed in the Good Girls book are solid advice. Skimming the pages as I write this inspires me to read the book again: “The secret is to stop trying to do everything and start concentrating only on the essential steps that will allow you to achieve your goal. Anything more is a waste of valuable time and energy.”


MJ Monday: MJ’s Motivation-2020 Vision

It’s that time of year again, when people make their New Year’s resolutions. My friends and I continue to set goals for the coming year. How could I not play off the year and call my plan for the next twelve months my 2020 Vision?

Pulling together an action plan for the next year requires thought and reevaluation.  I study my successes from the previous year. I envision what I’d like to accomplish. I re-prioritize my weak spots. I have combined or deleted categories until I now have only four:

  • The Writing Life
  • It’s All About Me
  • Maintenance
  • Miscellaneous

Some things never go away: a monthly date with my husband, regular contact with my elderly parents, server maintenance.

Some things I simply stopped doing this year. Time became a precious commodity, and I was spreading myself too thin.

The Writing Life continues to be my largest category, because there are specific steps that need to be taken. I have definite ideas about what I want. I try to recognize my missteps and take action to correct them.

I have two new biggies for 2020:

  1. I want to transform my office/writing room into my own space. Yes, I have a room. But my husband has bookcases in there, eating wall space where there should be white boards and planning calendars.  Nothing has been painted since we first bought the house several decades ago. I’ve been making lists, then breaking the lists into steps I need to take. I plan to blog about my progress in months where there are five Mondays.
  2. I need to focus on professional development. I’ve already taken steps to implement this. I have taken one on-line class and have registered and paid for a second one starting in January.

Taking stock of my life matters to me. I think it helps me be a better person.



MJ Monday: MJ’s Motivation: Happy 100’s Update

Only eight days remain in the current Happy 100s Writing Challenge. We write 100 words a day for 100 days. I’m still hanging tough. I haven’t missed a day of 100 words since November 30, 2018. That’s new manuscript words. It doesn’t include blogs or revisions or rewrites. Simply 100 brand new manuscript words each and every day.

I took my small laptop with me when I went to my film festival. Another participant has something on her phone that allows her to get in her 100 words. Another participant claims it’s only 15 minutes. Some days that is true. Other days, not so much. But words are being written, the mind is immersed in the story at least a little bit every day.

That’s what counts.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Motivation-100 Words A Day

Back on December 1, I knew the busy holiday season would push aside my writing  if I let it. The key was not to let it. Easier said than done.

Then I decided I would writing at least 100 words a day every day in December. Only 100 words. Enough to keep me in my story, but not enough to consume huge chunks of time. I threw out a challenge to my local RWA chapter, and there were takers. The first thing I did every morning was get in those 100 words.


About a week and a half into January, I decided it was time to continue (I never stopped, but others may have). I issued a Happy Hundreds challenge to my chapter: 100 words a day for 100 days. We had many takers. Three of us succeed. Two of us kept going. Yes, there were days where I logged over 5000 words, but those words started out as my measly 100. My cohort says if not for the challenge, she wouldn’t have kept writing. It’s the accountability factor that motivates her.

I started another Happy Hundreds challenge on July 1. It’s going well. It’s astounding how quickly those 113-word days add up to chapters and novels.


MJ Monday: MJ’s Motivation–How Badly Do You Want It?

How badly do you want it?

That’s the most important question you can ask yourself when you’re going after something. Because if you want something badly enough, you will work your tail off to obtain your goal.

I have written almost all of my life. I always considered myself “the Writer” of my elementary, junior, and senior high school class. Imagine my shock when I went to a class reunion and discovered that not one, but two classmates had published books. My high school class was small–I attended a rural school district. There were maybe 100, 110 of us.


My entire identity was at risk.

Having my self-definition of who I was threatened made me reconsider what I wanted to do about my dream. Did I want to continue slogging along, trying to get another agent or a  contract with a Big Five publisher or did I want to be a published author regardless of the route? How badly did I want to retain my personal status of class scribe?

How badly did I want to  say, “I am a published author?”

Eight published books later, with contracts for three more, I confess: I wanted my identity bad enough to revise my dream to suit current publishing reality.

What’s your dream? How badly do you want it?