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In Praise of Deadlines: To Get Your Book...

In Praise of Deadlines: To Get Your Book Done, Raise the Stakes

For the past month, my husband and I have been preparing for the Tour D’Coop, an annual tour of backyard chicken coops in Raleigh that’s a fundraiser for a local nonprofit. We’ve taken the tour in the past but had always hesitated to offer up our coop. “We don’t have anything special to show people.” […]

Are distractions keeping you from writin...

Are distractions keeping you from writing your book? Try these remedies

This is the year: You are writing a book. Excellent. Congratulations! But you’re already feeling under the gun because it’s the end of January and you haven’t started yet. Or maybe you started writing diligently the first couple weeks of January, then petered out as life swung back into post-holiday gear. Aargh! So frustrating. You’re […]

Write with Ease: Keep Your Creative Well...

Write with Ease: Keep Your Creative Well Filled

I attended an event last week to honor Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina’s Poet Laureate. As she spoke—as I drank in her words—I felt a tremendous sense of relief. The words themselves? I couldn’t tell you. But the feeling of craft and inspiration and new ideas…ah. I hadn’t realized I felt like a parched plant […]

Are you being authentic, or playing it s...

Are you being authentic, or playing it safe with your writing?

In Jane Austen’s Persuasion*, 27-year-old Anne is courted by Mr. William Elliot. Her surrogate mother, Lady Russell, thinks Mr. Elliot, with his education, manners, and future inheritance, would be a fine match for Anne. (Plus Anne already broke off an engagement with Captain Wentworth and declined Charles Musgrove’s proposal. She’s going to age out of […]

Manage Your Fear of Visibility & Set You

Manage Your Fear of Visibility & Set Your Book Free

You’ve worked on your book for months. Drafting, revising, editing, formatting. It’s time to send it out into the world. You should be feeling excited and ready to celebrate, yet you’re more nervous than excited, ready to hide rather than celebrate. Or, you’ve refined your book as much as you can, and it’s time to […]

Advice for New Authors: Two #1 Lessons

Advice for New Authors: Two #1 Lessons

I recently led a discussion with a group of professional speakers about writing a book as part of a business strategy. We didn’t have time to address all the questions submitted in advance, and these two related but distinct questions about advice for new authors got shelved: What’s your #1 piece of advice for new […]

How to Stay Motivated to Write: Butt-in-...

How to Stay Motivated to Write: Butt-in-Chair Advice

  “I hate writing, I love having written.” —Frank Norris, novelist (often attributed to Dorothy Parker and many others) One of the most common questions I hear from newer writers is “How do I stay on track to finish writing my book?” Or a variation of it: “How do I stay motivated to write when […]

Creative Satisfaction: Does Your Book Su...

Creative Satisfaction: Does Your Book Support Your Heart?

When I speak with potential clients or colleagues interested in writing a book, I often find they have several ideas and don’t know which book to write. I sometimes offer strategic advice with my business hat planted firmly on my head. Which idea aligns with your long-term goals? What topic does your client base ask […]

Revision: You Mean I Don’t Have to Get I

Revision: You Mean I Don’t Have to Get It Right the First Time?

When I first said, “I want to be a writer,” I took oodles of creative writing classes that incorporated “workshopping,” a process in which each student shares a draft and the group critiques it. After all the students had offered feedback, the instructor invariably would say, “I think your story starts on page three; cut […]

Opportunity Cost: What’s the Trade-off f

Opportunity Cost: What’s the Trade-off for Your Book?

“You have one dollar,” our teacher said. “You can spend it on a comic book or on candy—but not both.” She let us think about our choice. “If you choose candy, you can’t have the comic book. And if you choose the comic book, no candy. Whichever item you don’t choose is your ‘opportunity cost.’” […]

Birthday Reflections on Finding Your Tru...

Birthday Reflections on Finding Your True Self

My heart broke when I saw the news of Ursula K. Le Guin’s death this week at age 88. As a child I found her fantasy and science fiction writing mysterious and subtle and confusing all at once. Her Earthsea trilogy had the greatest influence on me, and the first in that series, A Wizard […]

The Most DANGEROUS—and Promising—Time of

The Most DANGEROUS—and Promising—Time of the Year

We now enter the most treacherous time of the year—the time of performance reviews and goalsetting, self-recrimination and unrealistic expectations, flagellation for goals forgotten and determination to try again. It’s a lotta pressure, folks. Regardless of corporate HR schedules, there is something about the season itself—the end of the year, the long dark nights of […]