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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Brainstorming Novels with the M&Ms by James L. Rubart

Not with the candy.

With my Master Mind group. (A group of like-minded individuals who meet regularly to encourage, motivate, and brainstorm with each other with the goal of helping advance all areas of our writing careers.)

Last weekend (Thursday night through Sunday morning) six of our ten member group gathered at a ranch in Austin, Texas. Each of us had time in the “hot seat” where we could get input from the others on anything we wanted; our Web site, our career path, our marketing strategy, how get teaching gigs at writing conferences … anything we wanted help with.

I chose to get the MM’s assistance on my next novel. It’s due April 1st (no kidding) and going into the weekend I didn't have a clue what it was about.

So I got in the center of the room and we went at it. My friend Susie led the charge and she was brilliant.

The other four tossed out rapid fire ideas as well and I felt a bit like the I Love Lucy episode in the chocolate factory and that candy tasted amazing.

I shook out my writing hand frequently to keep it from cramping up I scribbled in my notebook so fast.

By the time we were done I had 90% of the novel figured out and my mind was blown at the power of the six of us working together.

I know from the feedback from my other MM’s that their individual times were just as powerful for them.

Here’s why I think the sessions and the weekend worked:

  1. Although the six of all have strong personalities with strong ideas and convictions, none of us have an ego which needs to push its way to the front. No one had to be right. If someone came up with a better idea or an excellent insight, all applauded it.
  2. We talked over the top of each other. It was okay to interrupt because the ideas flew so fast and furious we didn’t want to stop the flow and no one’s feelings were hurt because of it.
  3. We’re committed to each other and want the best for all.
  4. We believe(d) in one another.
  5. We took time to play (yes, we shot guns—it’s Texas, remember?) and we took a long walk on the property of the ranch together.
  6. We were eager to learn from each other. 
  7. We were open and vulnerable with each other about our fears and insecurities.

My guess is at the end of 2013 each of us will look back on our Master Mind weekend as one of the highlights of the year.

Your Turn

Do you have a Master Mind group? Have you heard of a group like this before? Would you like one? If you do have one, what can you teach us about how to make a Master Mind group work well? And please explain to me how my Seattle Seahawks lost that game on Sunday.

James L. Rubart is the best-selling, award winning author of four novels. Publishers Weekly says this about his latest: ““Readers with high blood pressure or heart conditions be warned: [Soul’s Gate] is a seriously heart-thumping and satisfying read that goes to the edge, jumps off, and “builds wings on the way down.” During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps authors make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and loves to dirt bike, hike, golf, take photos, and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at


  1. THIS sounds so stinking FUN! I think my online peeps and I will be like that at the ACFW conference, if we can get ourselves there this year! But we have a great back/forth online and on the phone. Love iron-sharpening-iron type friends!

  2. Exactly, Heather! How we meet is on Google + so we can all see each other. Something about seeing each other's faces instead of just hearing voices that's powerful.

    1. I didn't know you could do that with Google+! I think I have that...

  3. Jim,

    First, the Seahawks ... the important stuff: I can't tell you why they lost, or why the stars didn't align for MY Broncos, and the ever-deserving Peyton Manning, but I suspect the evil NE Patriots are involved. It's a nefarious Belichick plan. I am, admittedly, a Belichick denyer. Now I feel so much better!

    Ahem, on to the MM group: I will simply say, with no pretense at trying to be cool and aloof, I WANT ONE!!

  4. I'll tell you why the Seahawks didn't win .... because the FALCONS DID!!! LOL Go Falcons!!!


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