Your Book – Write it or Hire a Writer?

You have a message or a story that lives inside you, something you deeply wish to share with others. It’s part of the human experience that as we look at our lives and world long enough, there is wisdom – or at least a few great stories – which we want to send out into the world.

Maybe you built a career or business around that message. You’d like to write a book, but writing isn’t your thing. That’s okay, because there are other ways to get it done.

Why write a book? You have something to say. After that, you have an audience. If you don’t have an audience, that’s not the end of the world because with time and effort, you can develop one.

Writing a book is an investment for the future with current time and money. In order to have the most impact from that investment, you really need to understand your who, why, and how. Look at it from your perspective and your audience’s perspective.

• Who will benefit and how will they benefit?
• Why do it? Why invest your time and money? Why make this particular effort at this time?
• How do I get my book created? Do I write it myself or hire a writer, editor, or coach?
• How do I spend my time, money, focus and intention to create this project?

What’s your story? Let’s look at the variety of scenarios you might fall into as you ask yourself, “Is it time to get my book written – with help?”

  •  You have an idea, but not the time or skill to develop and write the book. You might have a platform. You might not. Maybe you don’t even know what a platform is. Don’t worry.
  •  You have notes and research, but don’t know how to craft it into something desirable for your audience.
  • You have a draft written, but you need help fleshing it out and putting the polish on it.
  • You want to write it yourself, but you know how helpful it would be to have a coach to hold you accountable and guide you along the publishing journey.
  • Your business or career depends on you being an authority. Maybe you are a coach, guide, speaker, trainer, or maybe even a comedian. Your gift is your voice, but you want a book to sell or give away at events, so people can continue their experience with you.

Questions to consider:
What is my message?
Who is my actual or imagined audience?
What is the angle?
What will I do with the book once it’s ready? Will I sell it, give it away to clients or family and friends, use it to grow an audience, or some other reason altogether? Maybe at the end of the day, it would just be nice to see your ideas written down.

What it is and What it Isn’t

A book doesn’t have to be 300 pages, but it can be. It can be a short, powerhouse of a read. Think of the One Minute Manager, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, Walden by Thoreau, any one of a hundred books on spirituality, or any of Seth Godin’s business and marketing books.
The e-book culture we live in means your book can be digital or paper, concise or flowing, long or short.
E-books, especially, can be shorter and targeted around one angle of a question. Best of all, they can be expanded into a series with each book covering a different corner of the puzzle. It’s up to you.

Traditional or Indie?

Publishing your work independently no longer holds the stigma it did years ago, and is often the most effective way to deliver your message. There are no gatekeepers or waiting times. When the book is written and ready to go, it can be sent out into the reading world as quickly as you desire. There are Print on Demand (POD) options to get paperbacks and even hardcovers.

Going with a publisher is also a valid option, but takes much longer if you are able to get a publishing deal. If you already have a publisher ready to work with you, that simplifies the process.

Either way you go will be a personal and financial decision. A good coach, familiar with the industry, can guide you in your decision.

Write it Yourself or Hire a Writer

If you’ve made it this far, you probably have a book inside you. Now comes the task of finding the right help in creating it. Maybe you want to write it yourself but need developmental or editing assistance. Maybe you just want to share the story with the world, but don’t know how to craft a book. Either way, that’s where I come in. As a writer and facilitator, I love to dig deep, bring out the richness, insight, and information you want to share to capture your message on the page. This is your book so you should work with someone who gets that and honors that. At the same time, you should trust that I have spent years honing a skill and quality that will let your message shine.

So, when and why do you hire a ghostwriter, editor, or book doctor?

A ghostwriter can step into the project all along the way. To collaborate with you involves asking plenty of questions, gathering information, and crafting all of it into your book. Working with a ghostwriter requires a serious commitment from both people. The writer must be skilled at listening deeply as well as bringing out the story or message in a way readers will enjoy – and in your voice. As I mentioned in the beginning, there are many scenarios you might find yourself in when you want to hire a professional.

What about developmental editing? Or content editing? This is a before and after situation. Developmental editing is best when it takes place before the book is written. It involves vetting your idea, fleshing out an outline, and determining who the audience is.

Content editing comes when there are pages to comb through, critique, and work into good shape.

Copyediting and proofreading, which you will need, require an adept eye for things like grammar, punctuation, consistency of tone and point of view.

Ready to Have a Conversation and See if We Can Work Together to Create a Book you are proud of?

Go to the Contact page and fill out the contact form.  I’m excited to speak with you and hear your story!

Books, books, books!

Big day yesterday! Handed over the manuscript to my editor of the second in my Kelsey Cormack Ghost Mystery series, called “Chance of Death”. Can’t wait to share more details in the next few weeks!

Also, I’m working on a new non-fiction book called Work Time Money Intention. It’s a book of essays, interviews, and journal prompts to help you sort through the delicate balance of these in your life. I’ve wrestled with these questions myself for a long time and can’t wait to share so much of what I and others I’ve interviewed have learned.

And finally, very soon I’ll be re-releasing a book I wrote a few years ago called Pen In Hand. It’s a book of really fun writing prompts to get your pen moving as you explore your life.

 

Love to all of you!

Andrea

Ask Good Questions

We’re curious, right? When you have a story to tell, it’s because you were curious about one or many things and dug deep to see what you could find. Then, the “aha” moment, the ephiphany, or even the gradual understanding comes and we want to share it. It all started with asking the right questions.

What goes into asking a good question?

I studied with a woman who I think is the best facilitator I’ve ever seen in any field. She is sweet-natured, smart, and deeply caring. She actually listens for the question underneath what you are saying. I spent five years learning from her and every time I’m in a situation where I’m holding a conversation either with a friend or leading a group, I think of Kathy on some subtle level.

Knowing how to ask good questions is a skill you can learn, but it often happens by osmosis when we watch someone who is skilled at it. There are ways to redirect or reposition what someone tells you to bring out the broader picture. There are key phrases to go deeper. But underneath how we ask a question, there must be a swelling curiosity to know the subject or person you are exploring.

Curiosity can come from ego. For example, I want to know more about you so I know better how to control or manipulate you.

Curiosity can come from compassion. For example, I want to be a mirror for you so I ask questions that help you to reflect because I care about your experience.

Curiosity  can come from no place other than the desire to understand better. Sometimes, there is an agenda. Sometimes, there isn’t. Learning for the sake of learning is kind of human. Since I was a young girl, I just wanted to know. Everything. My childhood was spent absorbing World Book Encyclopedias. Yep, I was the kid whose mom told her to put away the encyclopedia when I was done and I constantly had to tell her I was never done. All I wanted was to know, deeply, intimately every last detail of every last thing. A to Z. And not just to read about it, but to understand it. I feel pretty much the same about people and animals.

So, that right there is the key – to want to understand.

Remember in high school when you learned about the 5 W’s? Who, where, when, why, what. And then there was the 1 H. How. We applied those six questions as a place to begin writing an article or a paper. Most of us start wearing out all the adults when we are a tender age of 2 or 3 with “WHY? Why? But why?”

Then somewhere along the way, we start to judge the response and things get tangled up for pretty much the rest of our days. “Why” turns into “how could you?” or “what were you thinking?”  Not the most helpful questions.

Let’s get back to curiosity and the desire to understand. If I want to know something about you, is it better for me to sit back and listen, or should I banter back and forth with my own related tales?  It really depends on the situation. A good question, or a good related tale, should reflect that you listened deeply and heard what the person was saying.

Is there someone you think asks good questions? What do they do, how do they do it, and most importantly, why do they do it? Is it out of concern, the desire to control, plain curiosity, or to be a cosmic mirror? Do they ask good questions about a subject but not good questions about other people, or vice-versa?

Let’s look at both. Questions we ask others, and questions we ask about a subject.

To be a good listener, there are a few things to consider.

  1. Don’t be afraid to peek around the corner, or poke a little at tender spots. But don’t knock the wind out of them. Whether it’s a conversation or an interview or acting as a confidante, be compassionate and curious but don’t bludgeon.
  2. If you are asking the questions, keep the focus on the other person as much as possible. I tend to want people to find me relatable, so I chum them up with a story, when really they are sharing to be heard or understood.
  3. It’s okay to allow space around a question, to give the person time to gather their thoughts.
  4. A classic technique is to play back to them what you heard them say. “What I heard you say is….” and put it into your own words as well as theirs. “Is that what you meant?”

What if you aren’t listening to someone, but exploring a subject to write about?

How do you form good questions in order to learn and share about a subject? 

People who are fascinated with history often are trying to learn how to do better today. Others romanticize the past and don’t go deep. The reality is that for all time, people get out of bed, put on their britches, and do something. They hurt, laugh, cry, smell, sweat, poop, care. They feel the whole spectrum of emotions at some point. It doesn’t matter if you were born in 52 AD or 2052 AD. Go deep.

It doesn’t matter if it is history, science, religion, culture, society, business and economy, or how ants keep coming in to your kitchen.

  1. Allow time to reflect on what you study so you can figure out the next best question to ask of it. Are you asking questions of a culture, a person, a theory? That’s going to require you to reflect. If you aren’t going to reflect, it is simple book knowledge. Is that what you want? Or do you want it to touch your life in a deeper, more direct way?
  2. Go past the surface. Don’t just go to Wikipedia to look up a subject and stop there. What does it bring up for you that needs further exploration? Go to first sources – like books, recordings, etc. And ask yourself, “Why is this curious for me? Why do I want to know more?” Then go.
  3. Apply, test, try on for size.  The best way to form a good question is to put what you’ve discovered into action and see what arises. A friend said to me last night, “I didn’t even know the questions I needed to ask. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”  Now she does and she’ll be better prepared to help others in the same situation.
  4. Don’t run away when it is uncomfortable. Ask, “Why is this uncomfortable? Why does it make me mad? What is triggering some deep emotion or total boredom in me?” Be an adventurer into the deep.

Want a great tool to help you ask better questions? Pop in your email and you’ll get the infographic “Keys to Curious Questions”!

Big, Wide World Beckons

Traveling is a love/hate thing with me. For years, I waited to travel to more exotic places than going home to Minnesota. Traveling was expensive and I could never decide on one place. The siren call of foreign locales wooed me, whispering to my heart and sense of adventure. But my wallet wouldn’t support those kinds of trips. In the meantime, I read, camped, and moved around a lot.

Then in 2011, I got the chance to go to Thailand for three weeks for a cultural immersion tour with a group of people I was involved with. It set off a taste for experiences beyond home, beyond what is comfortable.

This past May, I took a trip to Northern California, and while not as exotic as Thailand, it was an experience that grew on me even as it emptied my bank account. The place was expensive to visit, but by the end of it I figured a few things out about why these adventures mean so much to me, even when I can’t wait to get home at the end.

What is it? You know? That thing that compels me to pack a bag and hit the road?  It’s a lot like my experience with meditation. Sometimes not much happens or too much happens, and the trick is to stay awake to it, don’t judge it, just be in the moment.

Feel the wind when it hits your cheek as your feet push deep into sand that is warm on top and cold if you keep pushing. Taste the coffee and notice it has a flat nutty flavor, which is strange in a latte. See the old woman in the raspberry beret, and wish you were an artist with a pen and sketch pad.

Life is in the details. Travel is all about details- the things you packed too much of. The nasal strips you have to buy because you’ve caught some freaky cold on the road and can’t breathe as you lie in a strange bed each night.

Details. Watercolor over line drawings. Heart shape in the latte foam. Robust stink of sea lions at the wharf. A hundred cyclists in spandex. The wild-eyed man with matted hair shouting obscenities into the street to nobody in particular.

Minutiae. Intimate details like a plastic sack blowing across a tree-lined street in North Minneapolis. The vibration of energy from the redwood trees, so intense it brings tears. The smell of the open gutter in a  Chang Mai outdoor market, not quite like sewer, but maybe. The pungent sweet tickle of lilacs in late May in the north. Jasmine, something new. Sweet, cloying, decadent. Seagulls crying on the beach at Biloxi. Tasting sugar cane from a yard in New Orleans.

There are things to be noticed, things to be ignored, causes for confusion and bliss. It happens at home, wherever home is for you. If I never go to another place, I’ve got enough details to fill hundreds of books with stories. It takes time and space to process what I experienced after each trip. I don’t know what I’d do if I was ever on the road more than a month because it takes me a long time to unravel and understand. Nothing I do is done lightly, but is wrapped in observation on a really precise yet unconscious level. Then it unfurls inside of me over time, growing, expanding, giving back.

That’s why I write. If I didn’t I’d explode. I’m always trying to sneak in bits of beauty and flavor. It’s up to you what to do with any of it, but it’s up to me to make sure it’s there for you to share it. Travel cuts life open. If we’re lucky or paying attention, we might be awake to capture it.

 

photo credit: Evening Light via photopin (license)

Nothing Missing

cropped-24296379731_e46f690447-e1455980701679.jpg

The last weekend in August, I had the privilege of going to Baltimore, MD for a workshop with Jim Drescher, co-founder of Windhorse Farm (www.windhorsefarm.org). It was a leadership conference for sangha leaders in Shambhala, which is a Buddhist community and lineage I’m part of.

I didn’t really know what to expect, and I didn’t even know who Jim Drescher was, but it was important to my sangha for a couple of us to attend and hopefully bring back some potent information to help us. I missed the Friday evening component, but was there for the rest of the weekend. To say it was a rich weekend, well, it’s an understatement. I was there with the hope of picking up a few practices or techniques for growing and strengthening our little group back home. What I got was inspired.

But first, I was scared.

Jim had some travel delays and so, as we waited for his arrival, we were given the unique opportunity to have Jane Arthur, the recently appointed Minister of the Pillar of Government for Shambhala International as our facilitator and teacher for the day.

I’ve seen a lot of people convicted with ideas before. But her conviction about the idea that enlightened society was possible and worth working for – this grew out  of and was overflowing with great clarity and bright light wisdom. Big mind. Big sky. And all that light that Minister Arthur spoke from, it shone on the darkest corners of my heart and mind. I saw where I was afraid of the vision she shared from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. And I knew I wanted to live my life helping that vision spread. No small task. But hey, what else is there to do?

It starts with knowing our own minds.

I’ve been meditating on a cushion for about eleven years. I’ve been journaling for thirty-two years (I started at 12; you do the math). Yeah, I’ve looked at my mind, my heart, my life, the life of those around me, the way society works, all of it, pretty closely for a long time. And I’m a beautiful mess, unraveling my “stuff” one breath and one word at a time.

Saturday afternoon Jim Drescher arrived. He runs this place called Windhorse Farm. He farms and builds and meditates and coaches people into their own wisdom around leadership. I liked him a lot. What I liked most was that he is someone who knows how to ask really good questions. That’s kind of my thing, my fascination. How do I unearth enough wisdom to hear what you are saying and ask you a really good question to help you unearth your own wisdom, your own big sky mind?

Sunday evening, I got on a plane and came home. Something happened in those two days, and in all the days leading up to it. Clear mind. I knew something was unfolding and if I just stayed alert and calm, I might glimpse it.

See, I’ve been tuning in to the rumbling under my feet for a while now. And Monday night there was a calm. A space. A gap. Ah, precious moment of stillness in my churning, burning heart. Yesterday I woke up and there it was. The time. The idea. It made sense.

I’ve known for a few months I didn’t want to add static noise to the world. But neither did I know how to play my part in the symphony (or the jam band!). Life is so short. I don’t want to miss any more moments of it, creating forecasts and predictions based on wishes and magic and daydreams. Nope. I figured out how to be more here and now. I still fight it a lot. But now I get it, why I’m here, why I’m now.  And thanks to Jim, I’ve been reminded nothing is missing from me or from you. Isn’t that good news? It’s all here, our energy, our consciousness, our wisdom. Nothing is missing. And I’m going to write about it.

If you’re involved in this work and need a writer to work with you on projects around mindfulness, enlightened society, leadership, meditation, awareness, communication, what science is finding regarding these fields, any of it, all of it, let’s talk.  Books, articles, blogs, marketing materials, web content, etc. Ready? I am.

When a Book Gets Released and You Forget to Post About it!

Designed for Death Cover

So here I am, doing things out of order…My newest release came out on April 11, 2016 and I have not updated this website. It’s hard to make time for everything, so I end up doing things backwards!  But here it is….

You can get a copy of  Designed For Death: A Kelsey Cormack Ghost Mystery in a lot of online stores including Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and some others. I’m working on Itunes still and hope to have that fixed this weekend.

If you like mysteries- and especially spooky mysteries (don’t worry – I didn’t set out to scare you, just give you a few thrills and chills), would you go over to your favorite online store and get a copy to put on your e-reader?  I’d love your feedback- reviews are always welcome!

After I released the book, I spent a week writing like a crazy woman on the next book. I’d rush home, make dinner, and type till some body part gave out! But like any good writer, I had a wee bit of a meltdown for the next week. Now that I’m bored with my angst, I’ve returned to doing what I love- crafting fun stories for my readers.

We are getting set to go on vacation soon and I’ll be returning to a place I love to scout out locations for the 3rd book in the series. It will be set in San Francisco and northern California. Nothing like traveling a bit to open up the senses. The feel of the wind from the ocean and hopefully floating in the water for a few hours (though I hear it’s pretty damn cold in that part of the ocean!) is all I’ve been dreaming of for the past two weeks. Getting away to see dear friends for a few days – and then spending the rest of the time adventuring with no plans except to spend the last two days in San Francisco- it’s going to be fantastic. I’ll be making sketches for that story and soaking up all the energy of the place.

There’s this little coffeehouse in San Francisco we can’t wait to get back to.  They had the most amazing pastries- one had a lemon filling that made your mouth water, just the sexiest twist of sweet and tart.  So, that’s the one plan I have for the city by the Bay. The others are:

City Lights Bookstore – buy all the Li-Young Lee books I can find. His poetry makes me cry every time I read it. I cry because he knows the things I believe about the universe and life….and his imagery is ecstatic, sensuous, alive.

Get Misty a bowl of clam chowder and all the seafood she desires (I’m allergic so I can’t partake!)

People watch… then write about them.

We are also going to go visit the Redwoods or the Sequoias – any preferences? And Sonoma or Napa? I’m not a big wine drinker, but I’m thinking white wines will be on the list, regardless of where we end up. Any restaurant suggestions? Seafood and really great fresh food – a wicked good salad and some fish are what I’m craving.

That’s all for now. I’ll keep writing, you keep reading, and let’s both enjoy life!

Andrea

 

Coming Soon… my newest book

Designed for Death Cover

 

Here’s the new book cover- can’t wait to share the new book with you all this weekend!

Hope to have it out on Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, and Itunes before the weekend is over. Amazon will be the first, and the others will follow suit.

Have a beautiful day,

Andrea

 

Good to be back!

cropped-medium_3390165382.jpg

Have a cup of tea with me? I’m sipping my second cup of Anhui Grand Keemun, a malty, smooth black tea. As I worked to get this site back online, the tea got cold, but it’s still delicious. A few months ago I took down my website because I was having a lot of issues with my eyes and honestly believed I had to give up my writing. Well, thank goodness for some magical drops that let me get back to work!

It’s been awhile since I put out my last book – August 2014. But a new story and a new series is on the horizon. The Kelsey Cormack Ghost Mystery series is under way, with the first novella to my editor this week. Can’t wait to share the book cover in the next few days! Just working out the final kinks on it with my designer- helps to have talented people to be able to give legs to a dream!

I’ve always had a penchance for spooky stories and mysteries, so why not wrap them up together?  I also love shorter books and plan to write a lot of them. If you want to stay up to date on the releases and any deals that might happen, be sure to sign up for my newsletter in one of the pop up boxes or on the sidebar.

Happy day to you – go read something good this weekend!

Andrea

P.S.  Sign up below for my newsletter!