Carla D. Bass, Colonel, USAF (Ret)
Write to Influence!
Personnel Appraisals, Resumes, Awards, Grants, Scholarships, Internships, Reports, Bid Proposals, Web Pages, Marketing, and More
Your book’s Amazon purchase link:
What is your book about?
Powerful writing changes lives! It often tips the balance between success and failure. You may be the best qualified candidate—hands down—but if the competition is better at telling a story, you lose. Learn to compose text—clear, concise, and compelling—to beat the competition and achieve your goals. Write to Influence! includes 100 examples and 200 exercises/answers to develop your skills. Not a stuffy text book! Not a grammar book, either! Lighthearted and effective, tailored for the individual (students in high school and college through professionals in the workforce) and for business, corporations, government, and NGOs.
What inspired you to write your book?
The answer lies in a backstory. As a lieutenant colonel, I once led a squadron of 480 people in Hawaii. When I assumed command, it was the most-losing unit in the state. Talented, deserving individuals were routinely beaten in quarterly and annual award competitions, careers impeded because their supervisors couldn’t write strong submissions. This was my “family” and I had to fix the problem.
I took three days personal leave and analyzed my own writing. This was the birth of my Word Sculpting tools (genesis of Part 1 of Write to Influence!). I then developed an 18-page handbook, transformed that into a one-hour workshop, and taught my people to write, catapulting it to the one to beat! So successful were my methods and workshop, I taught thousands of people for the next 15 years—to rave reviews.
That is how I realized that powerful writing changes lives. Indeed, that realization changed my own life!
Can you describe your writing process?
I don’t have one. I write when inspiration hits and time permits … and in a variety of locations: on my sofa, on a street curb, on the deck of a cruise ship, on the balcony of our cabin, and more.
How did you come to do what you’re doing today?
I credit John Wayne, Bob Hope, my very patriotic parents, and my insatiable curiosity. The journey began in 7th grade; my father was a colonel in Air Force intelligence. After being repeatedly chastised by my mother, “Don’t ask your father any questions!” I decided to join Air Force intelligence myself. I realized the power of the written word and its impact on people as a lieutenant colonel—the writing journey began then. I served 30 years active duty and also retired as a colonel. Following that, I went to work for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and have been with ODNI for ten years. For a total of 40 years, I have written for generals, ambassadors, Congress, and even letters that the Director of National Intelligence has signed to the President of the United States.
Can you describe a typical day in your life?
I arise at 3:30 a.m., arrive at ODNI in Bethesda, MD at 5:00 a.m., and spend the day writing executive-level correspondence. I return home around 3:00 p.m., grab a glass of wine, walk the property, and play ball with our cocker spaniel, Cash. I then begin my second full-time job: publicity and marketing for the book and developing/scheduling workshops. All is a labor of love.
What do you most enjoy about what you do?
Positively impacting peoples’ lives—empowering them to better influence their own destiny. To this day, I receive email and Facebook postings from individuals testifying that my techniques opened doors that would otherwise have remained closed to them. “If it weren’t for your book and class, I wouldn’t have…” are some of the most gratifying words I’ve ever encountered. That’s why I wrote the book and continue to write articles in various venues to spread the word; this propels me to continue.
Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey?
I am inspired by an overwhelming desire to help people and the knowledge that my techniques work. Three facts in play: first, many people do not realize that the ability to write has a very real, financial impact on their lives—it opens or closes doors to opportunity. Second, learning to write well, leveraging words to your advantage, takes practice but is not difficult. Third, people spend huge sums of money pursuing an education in their field of choice; however, they don’t spend a fraction of that time or money learning how to wield the written word.
Want to win a research grant? Need finances for a major IT system? Competing for a scholarship or to snag that job? My book and workshops provide an outstanding foundation to do just that. The numerous testimonials I’ve received over the years—and receive to this day—are my inspiration.
Think technicians (engineers, scientists, IT experts) don’t need this skill? They are often most in need. If you can’t effectively and persuasively make your case, how can you convince others (usually non-technically-oriented but in leadership positions) that your solution is correct or deserves funding? You must be able to leverage your written words and the strength of your case to influence the decision-makers.
Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you?
Fun facts: While in high school, I was the first runner-up at the national level in a sewing contest. I adore baking (especially the desserts featured on the cover of Southern Living magazine) and collecting antique playing marbles. I revel in throwing crazy, elegant dinner parties. I enjoy foreign languages, having studied Latin, French, Spanish, Russian, Bulgarian, German, and Turkish. Pure bliss is being on the back of a horse. At age of 58, I took six months of polo lessons . “Croquet on a horse” doesn’t get any better!” My passions are writing and teaching others to write, of course!
What’s next for you?
Continuing to publicize and market the book and give workshops.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
YES! Two thoughts:
1) My writing techniques apply to fiction, as well. The barometric question – Do you want to write a swimming pool book (one in which you can skim three sentences per page, get the drift, and don’t mind it falling in the pool) OR do you want to keep the reader hanging on each word? Apply my writing techniques to reach the latter. My favorite author, Daniel Silva, makes each word count. Quoting from memory, “The doorbell rang with the urgency of an angry infant.” … My goodness, what that conveys! Contrast this with a sentence from an equally famous author (who will remain unnamed): “They went to a bar, ordered a beer, and drank it all up.” OUCH!!
2) I ask that whoever reads this article and agrees with the concepts help me help others, check out my website www.carladbass.com and spread the word!
If you like this interview, you’ll love our weekly teleseminars! See upcoming teleseminar events here.