Dec 132017

“What if…” It’s the beginning of a question that can lead to a big goal or a daydream. It’s also an incredibly useful question for creative people is “What if…”  It is an important tool that can be used to open up the mind to possibilities and stir the creative pot.

Novelists might ask questions about character and plot. “What if I change the gender of my main character?” or “What impact would this setting have on the story?” Writers of non-fiction might ask “what if” questions as they relate to their ideal readers. “What if she is struggling with ‘x’ rather than ‘y’?” And, as far as I can tell, every single writer — regardless of genre — occasionally asks, “What if nobody wants to read my book?”

What if nobody wants to read my book? #indieauthors Click To Tweet

The anxiety surrounding that last question often leads us to do foolish things. They can range from seemingly “little” things like letting “a friend who teaches English” edit our books to Facebook posts or tweets begging people to “buy my book.” Or we enter into arrangments with unvetted coaches, leaving us with both lighter wallets and the same issues. Choices born of anxiety can make us look like amateurs and close off opportunities for progress.

Choices born of anxiety can make #writers look like amateurs and close off opportunities. Click To Tweet

Sometimes “what if” questions don’t yield much but sometimes they can lead us to very interesting and exciting results.

  • “What if authors could get help and support without paying too much for it?”
  • “What if writers could purchase only the services they need — at an affordable price?”
  • “What if we could find resources that had been successfully used by authors we know and trust?”

It was a brainstorming session full “what if” questions like these that led a group of friends to commit to developing a new author services site. We think it’s different from what’s already available  because:

  • We’re not chasing every single dollar out there. Prospective members must apply to — and be accepted by–  the team.
  • It uses a co-op model: members have simple ways to support others.
  • We maintain both public and members-only blogs and, in addition, provide members with tangible opportunities for increased exposure.
  • We support a hybrid publishing model, supporting indie authors in through the self-publishing process or referring them to a more traditional publisher if we know one that’s a good fit for their work.

If an author services site designed specifically for indie authors committed to producing high-quality work is something that interests you, it’s right around the corner. Beta testing will begin within the next 30 days, with the hope of a full launch this spring. And, finally, “what if” you’re someone who’s looking for this kind of support? Sign up for my so-far-never-used newsletter list (at the “contact” tab above) and I’ll let you know when we’re ready to roll.

Who's ready to roll? Click To Tweet





 December 13, 2017  Posted by  Thinking, Writing and Reading 9 Responses »
Nov 302017



Two days ago (on November 28th) I took a friend to her outpatient surgery visit. She was appreciative and apologetic and worried about me getting any work done. Given that this was the third time this month I was the designated driver, I assured was able to reassure her: medical waiting areas are a wonderful place to jack up the ole word count. Yesterday, when I took her back for a follow-up visit she asked how I was coming along with my goal. I was delighted to report that I had finished — more than twenty-four hours ahead of the deadline. I am a winner! (Phew!)

Medical waiting areas are a wonderful place to jack up the ole word count. #NaNoWriMo Click To Tweet

Although I’m not a novelist, I’ve been using November as a time to crank out 50,000 new words for more than ten years now. And, with the exception of the time we had to complete two real estate closings and corresponding moves in the four weeks in October, I think I’ve completed my quest.

Maybe because we had more than twenty members of our precious extended family here for Thanksgiving, but this year seemed to raise more questions than ever. Some people wanted to know why I participate. Another kept asking me why I don’t do 1,667 new words every day, all year long. (Note to self: is a careful look at the guest list in order? Just kidding.)



“You, wonderful author, spent this past November unleashing your creative powers, fighting back inner editors, and teaming up with thousands of writers around the world. We’re incredibly proud to welcome you to the NaNoWriMo winners’ hall. Congratulations on your superheroic achievement!”

Note to self: is a careful look at the guest list in order? #NaNoWriMo Click To Tweet

So, in no particular order, here are some of this year’s revelations.

  • If you’re a regular reader, you know I am fascinated by creativity and brilliance. The idea behind #NaNoWriMo certainly encompasses both. The project’s geometric growth is proof that there are LOTS of people who appreciate creativity and brilliance.


#NaNoWriMo exists to promote literacy. In addition to this crazy 50,000 sh*tty first draft in 30 days there are a number of ways the group seeks to encourage writing (and reading) in classrooms around the world. Actually, this seems like it would be a very good collaboration for the Amelia Island Book Festival or any other group that purchases books for classrooms.


  • Permission. Once upon a time, I have a brief but powerful conversation with one of the well-known authors headlining our local book festival. He asked a few questions and said, “You have permission: go ahead and write the one you can’t stop thinking about.” That memory, combined with the November  mantra “quantity over quality,” helps me uncover many of the” things I think I think.” I don’t know which ones will ever see the light of publication but it doesn’t matter. This is something I do because it makes me better at my craft.


I love the generosity and creativity of the #NaNoWriMo team. I mean seriously… who doesn’t like being referred to as a winner and superhero?


  • It’s a stretch goal that is — for whatever reason — important to me. I enjoy the gratitude and appreciation I feel each time the “official word count validator” says “Congratulations — you did it!” It may be weird but it is what it is.


I now look forward to returning to our regularly scheduled programming: some slow and focused editing. And maybe a slightly smaller daily word count.


My award-winning title The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head was conceived during a #NaNoWriMo Click To Tweet


Andrea Patten’s award-winning title The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head was conceived during a #NaNoWriMo… and while she was working on a crappy first draft this month? She received a generous offer from an Asian publisher. Stay tuned!



 November 30, 2017  Posted by  Thinking, Writing and Reading 10 Responses »
Nov 012017

What is NaNoWriMo? Is it a new erectile dysfunction drug? A political party? A space alien? Actually, it’s a shorter way to say National Novel Writing Month — a crazy, fun event that runs through the month of November.

The free, internet-based writing challenge began in 1999, with fewer than two dozen participants. The idea is to write 50,000 works (aka a lousy first draft) between midnight November 1st and 11:59 on the 30th. For most of us, it’s a pretty good stretch.

Is NaNoWriMo a new erectile dysfunction drug? Click To Tweet

I’ve been writing non-fiction for most of my life, only recently transitioning from corporate and copywriting assignments to books. Shortly after moving to a mountaintop in northern New Hampshire to be with the love of my life, he handed me a newspaper article about the thing. I’m not sure I’d have found it on my own. Always one to “try stuff,” taking advantage of our relative isolation made sense to me. I had no idea what I was getting into but, after winning the first year I was hooked. With the exception of the year we moved twice between October 1st and December 1st, I’ve done it every year since. (If you’re not familiar with NaNo, please don’t get too excited about the “winning” thing. It simply means that along with about a kazillion other people, I completed my 50,000 words!)


Is novel writing good for non-fiction authors? Click To Tweet

So why is NaNoWriMo a good idea for a non-fiction author? It might not be for everyone but for me, it works like this. It:

  • helps me ignore the fact we’re setting the clocks back next week.
  • loosens me up. It’s hard to “write tight” when you’re going for quantity.
  • re-connects my family with the fact that I sometimes disappear into writing and editing.
  • makes me more creative. Trust me, I’ve got to make up some stuff in a hurry if I’m going to hit my daily word count.
  • gives me permission to fail… not on a quantity level but it is one time that I can try to care a little bit less about the quality of what’s coming off the tips of my fingers.
  • creates a draft that I might — someday — develop. The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head may or may not have had some roots in NaNoWriMo and the endless discussions about that wicked Inner Editor!

Today is Day 1. Click To Tweet

If you’ve considered trying NaNoWriMo it’s not too late — today is Day 1. Head to their site, sign up, and get writing. And, once you’ve started, if you’re looking for writing buddies, let me know!

 November 1, 2017  Posted by  Happiness, Thinking, Writing and Reading 7 Responses »
Sep 272017

A childhood highlight was getting — and using — a library card. It was the same for my mother. She tells about choosing her books and facing a librarian who would not let her check them out because she was “too young.” I would love to have been a fly on the wall the next day when my five-foot-nothing grandma marched into the library to share her opinion about banned books, and to inform the staff that her daughter was permitted to read anything she chose.

It's Banned Books Week, but that sort of thing is behind us, right? Click To Tweet

It’s Banned Books Week, and I’d like to think that censorship, book burning, and banned book are far behind us. But, as I write this, social media is alive with an intense first amendment debate, and I don’t have to look too far in the rearview mirror to remember a several-hundred-acre wildfire started by someone burning books. And, as I began to research banned books? The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a recent favorite I found on the list.

Banned Books week is sponsored by the American Library Association and, according to Newsweek, is “both a celebration of freedom and a warning against censorship.” I was also surprised to learn that Banned Books week is only about 35 years old and began in response to a sharp increase in challenges to books in schools, libraries, and bookstores. A significant increase — in 1982. Publishing powerhouse J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is a frequent target of censors as is, apparently, almost anything by Stephen King. And, evidently, the entire Captain Underpants series and Fifty Shades of Grey (which sold over 100 million copies) present a clear and present danger to the Republic. (Dammit, where is that sarcasm font when you need it?)

And lest you think the upsurge in attempted censorship is somehow related to looser modern standards and morals, take a look at some of the classics on the list: Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Jungle.

I was raised to believe that reading was a way to open doors to new ideas and different points of view. I was taught that part of the value of those things was an increased ability to understand and empathize with those with whom I have significant differences; that such skills were useful in maintaining and enhancing peaceful relationships.

Which books present a clear and present danger to the Republic? Click To Tweet

So isn’t it logical that suppression of offensive ideas could bring them to back, stronger than ever? Or, perhaps if an individual finds a certain book offensive she could choose not to read or recommend it. Aren’t those decisions adults can make for themselves and for the children in their lives?

What do you think about banned books? Do you have a favorite? Please use the ‘comments’ to share.
















 September 27, 2017  Posted by  Thinking, Writing and Reading 12 Responses »
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