We creatives can’t sidestep the importance of “knowing our stuff.” I’ll include some info related to the fundamentals of certain fields – whether it’s writing, design, entrepreneurship, blogging, or whatever field might be of interest to you.

What Value Publishers Add to Your Book’s Publishing Cycle

Image: Book. Copyright by Noah Digley. Some rights reserved.

Image: Book. Copyright by Noah Digley. Some rights reserved.

How Long to Publish?

A lot of people ask me how long it takes to publish a book – to let it fly into the hands and hearts of readers. I wish I had the definitive answer. Let’s get perspective on the realities and why you might or might not need a traditional publisher.

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Creative Commons (Moyan Brenn)

The New Story of Publishing

Creative Commons (Moyan Brenn)

Creative Commons (Moyan Brenn)

2016 might be the year you create a book that matters. I hope so. We need books that change our minds and change our lives. We need stories that expand our imaginations and expand our hearts.

My team and I are devoted to helping you become a captivating author – or an even more captivating author – this year.  I’m committed to helping you become an artisan-author, someone who learns the fine craft of her medium and genre so she can create exceptional work for her audience. And I’m driven to help you sort through the confusing multi-directions of publishing in the 21st century.

I hear and read a lot of anxious talk around publishing these days. Random House (#1 in the world) recently acquired Penguin (#2) so soon there may be just one mega-publisher. Or with the digital revolution maybe no books. Or with Amazon’s and Jeff Bezos’s dominion maybe no bookstores. The angst-ridden speculations go on and on.

I’m committed to filtering through this “Babel” for you and myself.

Among the things I’m sorting through are the several stories about the nature of publishing, past and present.

Let’s take a look at these stories about publishing and discern what matters most for you to focus on. I’m curious what your take is. Share your views in the comments below.

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Frédéric de Villamil

Just Have Fun or Get Better?

Frédéric de Villamil

Photo credit: Frédéric de Villamil, Flickr

A few years ago, when my first girl was two-years-old, she wanted to play my Bengali two-string dotar instrument. She plucked it. It twanged. I tried to guide her pudgy worms toward gentle strokes so it might purr, but no doing. Then, she wanted to pull out her mini-ukele. Similar deal. She set it down on her lap like a steel guitar player and pick in hand began plucking. It twanged. After a few minutes of random ting-tangs, I suggested another way to hold the instrument and strum it. She stood for my guidance for about 2.5 minutes and then said,

“No.” Not in the typical defiant explosive two-year-old way. Just in the resolved and clear-minded way. Read more

The Psychology of Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception

GW1143H755There are thought leaders, and there are Thought Leaders.(1) And Seth Godin is the latter. Why? Godin is a Thought Leader not only because he’s smart. Not only because he’s prolific and creative.

Godin is an archetypal Thought Leader because he understands the nature of Thought itself. He gets what drives human beings. He understands story and the way story awakens something latent within our unconscious and stirs change.

In short, Godin gets the art and science of captivating creativity.

And if you’re someone writing a nonfiction book or wanting to write a book or eBook that makes a difference to its readers, you might learn something from how Godin’s book The Icarus Deception works.

A change in thought. A change of heart. A changed life. A changed patch of the planet.

Godin’s book The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? aims to change the way many people, trapped by corporate and cultural myths, view themselves and their potential.

Despite a flawed assumption here and there, the book works on many levels and for many reasons. Read more

13 Books for Thought(ful) Leaders

16793367681_e748a37419_hThe most effective, influential leaders of their pack read. They read a lot. But in my own experience and in reviewing the reading habits of key leaders in different fields, something surprising surfaced:

Maybe it matters less how much you read and matters more how diversely you read.

If you’re a business owner or a thought leader or thoughtful leader constantly reading business and economics books, guess what? You could be impoverishing your mind’s capacity to imagine, empathize, and think boldly through problems.

Below I share with you a few examples of well-known CEO’s favorite books and then give you 13 books to put on your list this year to do business as unusual. Read more

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Who is Your Brand Story About?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Who is your Story about?

Several months ago, I felt a wee bit disoriented, having shaped part of a book proposal.

What’s it worth? I wondered. What if my agent rejects it? What if this is all a fool’s errand? What have I done with my life? Okay, I didn’t go quite that far.

Then, my five-year-old peeked in my study. She wanted to show me her outfit – a summer skirt and a short-sleever atop a long-sleever.

“I just couldn’t wait any longer to wear summer clothes,” she said as she twirled around the study. And at that moment, I remembered again why I’m writing this book, why I’m building Tracking Wonder, why I utterly adore engaging you.

After years of research and my own share of unbidden surprises, I vowed five years ago to keep tracking wonder so I could help create a world where that little girl could not wait to become a grown up (because the prospect would look so appealing!) and where grown ups could and must wonder again and again.

That’s my vow. That’s my mission. That’s part of the Story of Tracking Wonder. Read more


Buzzing stories versus your Brave Story

“It would be no exaggeration to call it a state of disorientation.” – Carl Jung


“What is your myth – the myth in which you live?”

That’s the question that rattled inside the renowned psychologist Carl Jung at age 37, months after breaking away from his mentor, Freud. He writes that when he examined the hero stories and myths he had amassed, he held them up like mirrors and wondered about his own life. He wasn’t, as far as he could see, the hero of his own story.

When that voice calls and says, “Look at how you’re living your life. How are you walking the talk?,” most of us reply with, “You’ve got the wrong number,” hang up, and turn up the volume on Downton Abby.

But when Jung got challenged on his own soul stuff, he didn’t hang up. He kept the line open.

Listening to that profound doubt prompted Jung to muster the courage to create the Story he knew he must write into and live out.

So let’s consider this: A consultant has an idea book to write. A father has a memoir to write. A journalist has her first young adult novel to write.

Behind every book is a Story. A Story burns inside a writer. And that Story is not the stories that buzz inside her head.

How does she listen to the true voice of doubt beyond the buzz, and how does she muster the courage to create because of that voice?

Those are questions I invite you to live with me.

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No easy promises to write a brave new story


“Write your novel in 60 days.” “Write from your passion, and the money will follow.” “Get a blueprint for your best-seller.”

Do those promises make you cringe? Their simplistic nature is actually destructive. Easy promises are destructive in two key ways. Read more


Warning: You Cannot Plug in Your Potential


Let’s face it, this fellow cannot write.”
– Bob Manning about a young Tracey Kidder

“The life in us is like the water in the river. It may rise this year higher than man has ever known it, and flood the parched uplands; even this may be the eventful year, which will drown out all our muskrats.”
– Thoreau, conclusion, Walden

1. The potential for defeat abounds.

Tracey Kidder was twenty-seven years old when he walked into the hallowed Boston offices of The Atlantic Monthly, one of the United States’ most respected and longest running magazines, and asked for a freelance assignment. He found encouragement from an editor, Richard Todd, thirty-two.

Kidder starting submitting several freelance pieces to Todd. Some of them  were workable enough that Todd could help Kidder shape them into something publishable. Many were not.

Atlantic’s chief editor, the notorious and tenacious Bob Manning, once scrawled on one of Kidder’s pieces a note:

“Let’s face it, this fellow cannot write.”

But Kidder did write. He had to write. And eventually he learned how to write like a captivating author.

Had Kidder ever heard or listened to the publisher’s voice, Dr. Paul Farmer’s story of wanting to cure the world would never have been told in Mountains Beyonds Mountains, readers would never have experienced the inspiring story of fifth-grade teacher Ms. Zajac in Among School Children, or had their minds cracked wide open to a whole new computer wave that not every one could see coming in 1981 as Kidder (and Todd) saw in The Soul of a New Machine.

And Kidder might never have won the Pulitzer.  Read more

From Trauma to True Story: Owning Your Brave Medicine

Mike Boehning Photography. Limited use. Creative Commons.

Mike Boehning Photography. Limited use. Creative Commons.

Note: Many business artists come to us in deep transition. They know that writing & publishing their books and shaping their brand stories are part of a larger Story they cannot quite articulate. Working with Tracking Wonder Consultancy is different than working with a coach on one hand or a creative agency on the other. This guest post by Tracking Wonder’s Lead Consultant Cathy Shap gives you an idea of what it is like. It also gives us the opportunity to highlight one of our extraordinary heroes, Ginny Taylor – Chief Creative Officer of Women of Wonder. As Ginny notes in our “Here’s to the Heroes” film below, her quest has “given me the courage to own my story and not be owned by it.”


Guest Post by Cathy Shap, Lead Consultant at Tracking Wonder

Ginny Taylor didn’t wake up one day, early in 2014, and say to herself, or anyone else for that matter, “It’s time for a Quest, by golly.” She said what I imagine any normal person feeling the pull of change would say: “Do you think I’m ready for it?”

Such was her query in an email to me dated January 8, 2014. She was about to join our first Tracking Wonder ArtMark™ program, which helps business artists shape their larger business Story and expand their presence with integrity.  The program seemed an ideal incubator for Ginny as she was initiating a transition out of her day job into creating her own business. 

Ginny had initially come to us for help with her memoir – a book that deals with the trauma of sexual abuse. She was very much in her head about it all until yoga and journaling helped her get in touch with her fuller self.

In our early months of working together, she shifted from over-thinking her ideas into deeply feeling them. Where she’d felt blocked, things were beginning to move. And sometimes even the slightest movement can start to crack open much deeper shifts. Soon, Ginny wanted to share the power of journaling and yoga with other women, to teach them how journaling and mind-body practices could be empowering, could help them step more fully into their lives, even if she was still in the process of doing so herself. She was now hearing a call. 

“Do you think I’m ready for it?” 

Most of us live in a similar question at certain stages in our life and trajectory as business artists. We wonder if we’re ready to shift careers, write a book, invest in what matters. But underlying those tangible goals is a deeper yearning and curiosity. A calling.  Read more