How do you bring the best parts of you and your message forward as a writer, business artist, content expert, or thought leader?

3 Actions Great Authors Take to Abate Fear, Doubt, & Shame

I’ve told the story of how a Pulitzer Prize-winning author (1) without talent became a master of creative nonfiction and literary journalism.

I mentioned that he took three creative actions that any of us can take.

I want to reiterate those three actions to further disabuse us of two myths:

Myth 1: That great writing stems primarily from magical talent or divine inspiration.

Myth 2: That great writers stick it out alone like lone wolves.

All three of these actions help abate (though not vanquish) the voices of fear, doubt, shame, and armor. By the way, these annoying voices – like telephone solicitors –  call every single one of us, the Dalia Lama included. (2) Read more

Warning: You Cannot Plug in Your Potential


Acorn seed via

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

 “It is better to pursue and to perform your own duty imperfectly than someone else’s perfectly.”
– Krishna to the reluctant warrior Arjuna, The Gita

“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. (1)

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.

Tracey Kidder, that kid who couldn’t write, is known now as a master of creative nonfiction and literary journalism.

Kidder had three things working for him that can work for any of us.

He found the kind of writing he loved to do – literary journalism – and he became devoted to mastering it even when his pieces were not accepted (and even though he feared the public seeing his really bad writing that Todd got to see).

He let his audacity override his doubt. Seth Godin would say that Kidder let his hubris fly. Judging from Richard Todd’s accounts, Todd would probably agree.

Kidder found a mentor, Richard Todd, whom he didn’t bow down to but whom he respected enough to keep his editorial direction. For over 20 years.

That is, Kidder learned his stuff. For over 20 years, he learned the choices writers in his field make to tell a good story. He learned how to get out of the way of the story he needed to tell. He made choices for the good of the story and of his readers’ experience – not for the good of his ego or the market.

He wrote really crappy stuff, by the way, including a novel based on his experiences in Vietnam that he and Todd can laugh about now.

2. Your writing potential is like dynamic water.  Read more

Your Captivating Book Conversation with Jen Louden & Jeffrey Davis

She comes in colors everywhere; 
She combs her hair 
She’s like a rainbow 
Coming colors in the air 
Oh, everywhere 
She comes in colors 

– Mick (apparently upon meeting Jen)

Some people splash into our lives and leave streaks of color in their wake. Author and personal growth pioneer Jen Louden is one of those people.

A heart smiled open, Jen has offered men and women guidance in crafting a joyful life based on self-kindness for over 30 years.

When I need someone to remind me to stop striving so hard and to take better care of my best self – and to give me some creative wisdom that wraps around my head – I go to Jen. So, I was thrilled when she contacted me to chat about one of my favorite subjects – helping writers become captivating authors.  Read more

Experience Architects Engage with Love & Wonder

Memorable enterprises and blogs endure the way memorable art and stories endure.

Mind-changing businesses create experiences for their customers the way mind-changing authors and artists design experiences for their audiences.

Those experiences are sent with love and infused with wonder.

They engage us and surprise us by holding up mirrors to what’s best in us even in our darkest hour.

What mirrors are you holding up to your readers, customers, clients?

One difference between writing for yourself and writing beyond yourself is your ability to become an Experience Architect. Aristotle offered the original blueprint for how great story tellers build such experiences. But the past few decades’ emphasis on self-expression and self-esteem, some aspiring artists, authors, and bloggers have forgotten or never learned the art of Experience Architecture.  Read more

Captivating Author Coaching Call & Webinar (Free)

I’ve seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by distraction. You know what I mean?

You have an idea or story that could become a book. Maybe you’re working on a book or have been for 6, 10 or more years. When finished, it could change people’s minds, crack open their hearts, or light up their imaginations.

But not if you never finish it. What’s holding you back?

You don’t know what you’re doing? You need perspective? You have too many ideas vying for attention?  The publishing world daunts you? Time eludes you?

You’re not alone.

Each week, I work with, interview, and hang out with numerous professional authors, industry leaders, novelists, memoirists, and “ordinary” people with extraordinary ideas, programs, and stories. Plus I keep up with industry insiders and speak with people with a mission to help authors find the best publishing options in paper, digital, or both.

And guess what?

All of us authors (and publishers) have our own versions of confusion and frustration. It’s a challenging time to be an author.

But it’s also an exhilarating time to be an author.

Whether you’re writing your fifth book or first book, stuck at the start or stuck in the middle, or curious about publishing and platforms and brands and crowd-sourcing and promoting, let’s have a useful conversation. A free group coaching call for the first 50 people who sign up. Read more

3 Roles for Author-Entrepreneurs to Thrive in the 21st Century (Animated Video)


These are the best of times to be an author. These are the worst of times to be an author.

They’re the worst of times because the nature of publishing seems in utter disarray, and the days of generous advances appear to have passed with a stable economy.

But they’re also the best of times.

Not only have advances in digital publishing and crowd-sourcing opened doors for adventurous novelists and social change-maker authors, but those advances also are forcing traditional publishers to change the way they play and give authors a more fair shake.

But first things first: Whether you want to publish via traditional publishing, self-publishing, or digital interactive models, all of your marketing and insider knowledge won’t amount to much until you’ve learned three essential arts. Read more

How Seth Godin’s Book The Icarus Deception Works

There 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. It’s 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 latest book 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

3 Ways Books Change Lives (+ Writing Mentorship Program Opens)

Sometimes a book can rattle open such deep recognition that the door remains ajar for the rest of your life. It’s taken me a long time to realize that simple truth.

I’ve always been slow to the take, at least that is how grown-ups such as my father, an otherwise friendly and pot-bellied man with skinny legs who later would challenge my older sister’s teenage boyfriends to barefoot races, perceived me.

“Come on, Turtle,” he would nudge me when he and I might walk toward a football stadium entrance or play word games. My mother would tell me years later my father feared I might be a bit dim-witted.

Maybe it was that fear that led her (although I honestly doubt fear drove her) to take me to Fort Worth’s Ridglea Public Library each week to take home a stack of books.

And it was on one such morning the door opened.   Read more

The Future of Publishing Looks…

I have returned from the Digital Book World Conference ever more curious about the future state of publishing.

This morning, Jeremy Greenfield, Forbes columnist and one of the generous-minded founders, wrote this:

Publishers are grappling with the possibility that bookstores might not exist in the future; that some authors have a very low opinion of them; that agents are pushing them for more advantageous contract terms for their clients; that the landscape of book discovery is changing; and much more.

Yet, publishers are optimistic about the future. If the mood at the Digital Book World Conference + Expo that concluded yesterday is any indication, they’re downright upbeat. Most of the 1,300+ publishing executives, agents, technologists, librarians and others who attended stayed until the final bell at 5:00 P.M. yesterday, buzzing and sharing ideas.  

 Indeed, a few quick trends & take-aways I came away with that I will elaborate on throughout 2013 as I gather more stories, ideas, and data:  Read more