In 2021 I Choose To Be Braver With My Life

2020 was crazy….just crazy, and I don’t know about you but I am happy to see the end of it.
2021 is here, and the New Year is often a time for resolutions. After all of the hardships of 2020, if ever there was a year where we need to cast off the old year and step into the new one boldly, 2021 is that year.

I hate New Year’s resolutions because I suffer from a challenging condition called: “You’re not the boss of me.” It is the difficulty of hating having anyone else tell me what to do. As I get older, the condition seems to be getting worse.

Unfortunately, in recent years my challenge has grown from not only resisting what others tell me to do, but to also now resisting those things “I” ask myself to do. This makes working on change for the better a lot trickier. I find myself looking for ways to gently ease change into my life so I can manage my knee-jerk response of resistance.

When it comes to writing goals, I can resist like crazy. (Can you relate at all?)For years I have been telling myself, someday I’m going to write that book. If 2020 taught me anything, I realize I want to make the conscious decision to make brave choices and be bolder with my life.

When it comes to writing, my advice to me, (and to you if it will be helpful,) is to find the smallest possible step I can take toward achieving my goal of sharing my story and begin there.

If I start the process by thinking I have to produce a 500-page bestselling business book by June 1, I am dooming myself to disappointment. So, I will write the first 100 words, see how it feels, and then write the next 100. I won’t stop and edit (yet). I will ignore my critical voice.

I will just write.

I started with once a week. I am now up to twice a week. I am working my way up to writing every day.

I may find a writing support group. In time, I will set myself deadlines, but most importantly, I will keep reminding myself I have a story to share, and I want to share it.

Good luck to you, fellow writers!

It Is Time For Good Women To Speak Up

What would happen if every woman spoke her mind?

What if she never worried that others might criticize her or call her a bitch?

What if it simply never occurred to her to try and please others when expressing her beliefs?

What if she never, ever, concerned herself with the need to be perfect—to make no mistake and avoid at all costs anything that would embarrass?

What if she always acted on her beliefs and refused to hold her tongue?

What if every woman believed her voice was needed? That speaking up was not just her right, but also her obligation? What if her commitment to herself and to the world was to be heard, regardless of the risk?

On November 7th, Kamala Harris became the first female vice president-elect in United States history. She became the first Black and the first Asian American person to hold the position as well.

During that same election, Stacey Abrams, Nsé Ufot, Helen Butler, Deborah Scott, Tamieka Atkins, and many other women fought to increase voter turnout in Georgia and changed the tide of the election there.

And a record number of women were voted into Congress and state legislatures, including the first out transperson senator, Sarah McBride.

These women all had the odds stacked against them, yet their belief in the power of their voices drove them to never give up. They didn’t stay silent or proper. They made history.

Courage creates a ripple effect. These women stand on the shoulders of those who came before them and will support those who come after them. A year from now, what would the world look like if every woman in it could own her power, use her voice, and speak her conscience?

Would the bullying strategies of industries who put profit ahead of safety stop? Would powerful individuals who hurt others with impunity be held accountable? Would we hold those in power to their promises? Would saving our planet for our children and future generations be a higher priority?

Would we still have mass shootings?

Would we allow those motivated by power, hatred, or greed to rule us—whether in our homes, our places of work, or our halls of government?

We don’t know the answer to these questions. But we have to try.

Kamala Harris told us, “Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before.”

Speak your mind.

Tell your story.

“I’m Not a Real Writer”: Some Strategies for Beating Impostor Syndrome

Age 26. That’s how old I was when I first became an editor at McGraw-Hill. As an editor, I was expected to find, sign, develop, and market best-selling books. As an editor, I was expected to understand what made a book successful so I could teach my authors how to write them.

As a McGraw-Hill editor, I was expected to be an expert.

And yet, I was 26. I had never been an editor before. How could I possibly be an expert? How could I teach my authors anything? What was I even doing here??

I felt like a fraud…an impostor, and I was pretty terrified.

So I started by asking for help, and I got it. My boss and my mentors taught me how to be a good editor—step by step. When I felt like an impostor, they reassured me and showed me how to be a good editor. In time, I became one, but I could not have done it on my own.

When you think about writing that book you have always wanted to write and publish, do you have doubts? Do you ever feel like an impostor? “Who am I to write a book on this subject? There are far more qualified writers out there.”

Impostor Syndrome. It’s the insidious belief that no matter how experienced or accomplished you are, you are secretly a fraud, and one day everyone will find out. Maya Angelou summed up this feeling well: “I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”

Maya Angelou certainly wasn’t an impostor, and neither are you. You are not a fraud. You can do this. 

In my 32 years of experience in the publishing industry I learned an important fact: the difference between someone who wants to write a successful book but never does and a best-selling author, is the latter summons the courage to take that first step and find the help she needs. The former never does.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few strategies that have helped. It’s hard to make that voice in your head go away for good, but with some tools to inspire confidence and a strong support network, you can overcome self-doubt. 

  1. Build your support network: This is the single best piece of advice I can give you if you worry that others will not want to read your story. The more you talk to other writers and artists, the more you’ll realize how many people are interested in hearing what you have to say. More important, you’ll realize that they, too, sometimes have the same anxiety about writing. Knowing that other writers also struggle with this issue can help lessen its impact. Consider finding a writing group as part of your support network. Whether you meet once a week at a local coffee shop or virtually online, having people who share your struggles make it easier to push through those times you may feel like an impostor. 
  1. Celebrate the small victories: Writing a book isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. When you know you have to write 90,000 words, it’s easy to believe that you’ll never be up to the task. But can you write a single paragraph? Research a question? Create a new character? Every step you take in writing is a step toward your goal of completing and publishing your book, and that’s worth celebrating. In time, the voice worrying about failing will be replaced with a voice that reminds you of all that you’ve accomplished. 
  • Hang a pinboard above your desk and add a sticker or a note to it every time you finish a chapter. 
  • Call friends and tell them how you just worked out a tricky plot twist. 
  • Buy a fancy coffee drink when you hit your word count goal for the day. 
  • Even in an intense writer’s block, get a single sentence on the page and then celebrate that sentence. 
  1. Remember how hard you’ve worked: One of the hallmarks of impostor syndrome is believing that when you are successful, it was just luck. When you finally get a story published or land a speaking gig at a writing conference, you question whether you really deserve that success. When you start to question whether you deserve your success, stop and quantify the work that led to that success. Honestly and objectively acknowledge to yourself the time you spent researching, writing, and revising your story. Even in the times you had help, you made the decision to get the help and to make your work stronger. You did the work. You deserve your victories.
  1. Collect positive feedback: When someone gives you a compliment, do you dismiss it, telling yourself that person is just trying to be nice? Women sometimes struggle with accepting compliments and acknowledgement of good work. In those moments when you’re ready to shrug off positive statements, write them down instead. Save them. If someone is editing and commenting on your manuscript, keep that praise of a well-written sentence or a good character choice. In moments of stress and uncertainty, pull out those kudos and reread them. You’ll have a collection of reinforcing positive feedback to remind you of the good work you’ve done. 
  1. Grow from constructive feedback: No writer has ever written a perfect first draft, and even the best writers of all time didn’t write flawless books. Constructive feedback makes your writing stronger. All writers benefit from a critical eye, and it’s important to remember that. Feedback helps good writers become better ones. Don’t be afraid to share your work and ask for constructive feedback.
  1. Keep a steady writing schedule: The best way to silence the voice in your head that tells you you’re not a writer is to keep writing, no matter what. I know it’s hard. Sometimes it can feel impossible. But writing just a few words every day will remind your brain that you are a writer. The only definition for a “real” writer is “someone who is writing”. Hence, if you keep writing, you will defy your fears every day. 

Writing consistently will  help you improve your writing, and confidence is like a muscle, the more you work it, the stronger it will become. When you savor the positive and are objective about the challenges, your confidence will grow and you will have greater writing success. 

Do you have any strategies that have helped you to overcome impostor syndrome? Share your experience with the Bold Story Press writing community below.

Why Write?

The idea of writing and publishing your own book is so enticing. To see your thoughts and stories captured in print and shared with the world is empowering and exhilarating. Yet even with this promise at the end of the process, it’s still so easy to put off starting to write. At the beginning of the process, it helps to be clear about why you want to write a book.

You want to build your brand and establish yourself as an expert.

No matter your industry, as an entrepreneur, authoring a book is a valuable credential. Your published book can say to potential clients that you are not only credible, but also a respected expert in your field. A published book sets you apart from your competition and gives you a real advantage.

You have a message you want to share.

Your rise to the top included lots of victories, but also many, many, challenges. You want to share your journey with others so they can learn from your experience and use new skills to forge their own success. When you are honest, especially about your failures and setbacks, you inspire and empower those following in your footsteps.

You have a story inside that wants to be let out.

I can’t tell you how many authors have said that to me. Whether the book was fiction or nonfiction, they explained they felt “compelled” to write. They had a story simmering within – and they needed to get it out.

There is never a perfect time to write. Even when you pour a cup of coffee, put on jazz music for ambiance, and don your favorite writing cap, you can’t make the words come. There will always be a dozen things pulling you away from your writing. 

You may simply have to accept that it’s the right time to write your book when you keep thinking about writing a book. It’s the right time if you are passionate about a story you want to share. Ellis Avery, an award-winning author, wrote a haiku every day for over 20 years. Each day was the right time to write down those 17 syllables because she made it the right time to write. If you want to write, begin with a commitment to write something every day. 

If the thought of one day writing a book keeps coming up in your head, but you don’t know how to start, begin on September 9th. On that date Bold Story Press is offering a free webinar for those who want to write a book. Join us, and learn how to get started getting that book inside of you onto the written page.

How to Gather Topics for Your Book

From Twitter posts to blog posts, the outline of your book may already exist in the content you’ve shared.

You have expertise in your field; you have the spark of an idea for a book; you even have time set aside to write that book. You’re all set to go! Then the time comes for words to go on the page, and you realize something that brings you to a halt: how do you translate a single topic or concept into a full-length manuscript? Where do you start?

When an author begins to write a novel, she’ll often start one of two ways: either she’ll freewrite and let the plot and characters develop as she goes, or she’ll create an outline first. While the first method is certainly romanticized in writing circles, the vast majority of writers opt for the latter option.

The use of an outline is even more common for those writing on non-fiction topics. Before you can begin to share your knowledge, you need to figure out what you want to share.. You might remember having to create outlines in high school for your English class essays. While they may not have been the highlight of your writing education, those outlines can be quite valuable, especially when you have the potential to write about a lot of different ideas. After all, if you had to give a thirty-minute talk at a conference, you wouldn’t try to explain the entirety of your field in that time. You’d pick a single topic, figure out the key points for that topic, and proceed from there.

But how do you decide upon those points? The answer may lie in the content you’ve already produced for your website and social media posts.

Take a look through the writing you’ve done over the past year or two. Were there any posts that garnered a lot of attention? Were there any frequently asked questions at presentations you gave? These are the topics that people are interested in, and chances are you’ve already spoken on them at length. Gather up these pieces of writing and compile them in a document. You can create a spreadsheet and organize the writing by audience and overarching topic. 

Now that you’ve compiled your various posts and FAQ answers, do you see any common themes emerging? This is your chance to hone in on your book’s core message. Maybe people are interested in the intersection of your environmental activism and your small business consulting. Or perhaps your blog post about increasing diversity in the workplace led to a longer discussion about how to reach out to non-traditional students at job fairs. 

Don’t worry if the theme isn’t immediately obvious. Often, we become so immersed in our area of expertise that it can be challenging to see the bigger picture. Reach out to your support network, whether it’s family, friends, or coworkers, and ask them to take a look at your list of topics. As outside observers, do they see anything that sparks their interest? 

Once you’ve compiled your list of topics and found an overarching theme, start playing around with an outline. Are there any topics that naturally segue from one to the other? This is also an excellent time to try out some early-stage drafting. If there’s an idea that you like, but you’re having a hard time grasping it fully, getting your thoughts down on paper can help you figure out exactly where it fits. Don’t worry about writing for your audience at this point or making it polished; this is just to help you navigate your book’s structure. 

Your outline can be as loose or as detailed as you need it to be. Once you feel like you’ve structured as much as you can, get writing! Make sure to use lots of headings and subheadings in your draft, even if you plan to take them out later. Those headings will help you quickly see what’s in your book and make it easier to move sections around. Keep returning to your outline as you write—it will help you stay the course as new ideas pop into your head. You’re on your way to writing your book!

Hi, I’m Emily

As a young girl, I grew up in a family that loved books. My mother was a librarian and she called the library and made sure the bookmobile stopped in front of our home every week. (If you’ve never heard of a bookmobile, think mobile home-sized vehicle filled with books.)

My five siblings and I were each allowed to take out up to five books every Wednesday, and each week our house was littered with library books. We loved to read. My whole family loved to read – all eight of us.

I have a wonderful memory from my childhood of lying on the floor in our living room one Sunday, with the sun streaming in on my face, as I listened to my father reading The Jungle Book aloud for us.

For my friends and family, it was no huge surprise when after college I set out for New York to pursue a career in publishing.  I pictured myself a young, female, Maxwell Perkins, destined to find and publish the world’s next Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Reality had a different plan for me and I found my place in the educational publishing industry. Working in publishing was incredibly challenging and sometimes downright terrifying. Every day I worked side by side with the smartest people I had ever met and there was so much to learn. It was exhilarating.

I had many successes in my 32-year publishing career, and my share of failures (from which I learned a ton). I worked with good authors, great authors, and a few awe-inspiring ones, and I learned from all of them.

I left publishing a few years ago and started Bold in Business, a teaching and coaching business designed to teach women how to own their power in the business world. While I loved the work of empowering women, I missed the world of publishing. I missed the excitement of finding and signing authors and partnering with them on the books that would one day have a real impact on people’s lives.

On August 14th I announced to the world the exciting news that I was launching Bold Story Press, a publisher by, for, and about women.

At Bold Story Press we intend to publish good books that sell well, and it is our mission to give voice to woman authors who wish to share their stories.

In our culture in 2020, we experience the world from a disproportionately male lens:

Only 20% of the best-selling novels are written by women

Only 25% of our combined legislature are women

Only 30% of our print journalists and television journalists are women

I believe that the world will be a happier, richer, kinder, world when there is a balance of lawmakers, a balance of truth-tellers, and a balance of stories shared – 50% from men and 50% of women

It’s for that reason, that I have decided to focus Bold Story Press on telling the stories of women.

I am starting small by offering two classes this fall. The first, “How To Write and Publish Your Book” teaches the foundations of good writing and includes an overview of the publishing process from someone who knows it well from the inside. We’ll discuss everything you should be thinking about and planning for as you begin to plan and write your book.

That class is live, will run for eight-weeks, and begins October 1st, 2020.

The second program will follow the first and will include things you need to know to publish and market your book: editing, critical reviews, cover and book design, copyediting, and developing a marketing strategy.

By January I will offer a suite of publishing services for women who want to self-publish their books.

Also available in 2021, I will begin publishing a small handful of titles in a full-service publishing program.

I know there are a lot of publishing scams out there…businesses that will take your money and won’t give you much value for it. So, I make you this promise:

“At Bold Story Press we will always operate with integrity. We will teach you, support you, help you, and work side-by-side with you to publish your book. We will treat you fairly and respect your work, and we will do all that we can to make you and your book as successful as possible.”

If you’re thinking about writing a book, or have a first draft in hand, please reach out to me. I want to hear from you.