A Few Words on Writing a Book

This is going to be a short one because it’s pretty simple.

If you want to write a book, you need only two things: Passion and Accountability.

Passion for Writing a Book

Motivation comes and goes; it’s never enough. Only a genuine passion for your subject matter will work to maintain steady commitment.

When is your passion strong enough? When you think about it all day; when it colors every decision you make; when you can’t imagine living without it.

If you feel that way about your intended subject matter, then you have the passion it takes to write a book.

Accountability for Writing a Book

If you’re going to start (and finish) writing a book, you must be accountable to someone. It’s rare that anyone can keep a commitment they’ve made to no one except him or herself. There are too many opportunities for excuses and procrastination.

In order to persevere through the rigors of writing that book, an author must be accountable to an agent, a publisher, a ghostwriter or a coach. It rarely works any other way.

Do You have what it Takes?

When you think about having what it takes to write a book, your mind might turn to things like superior intellect, killer grammar and spelling…or the free time to get it done.

In truth, none of that matters.

You bring the passion.

I’ll bring the accountability.

Let’s write that book together.

There’s no better way to express your passion than to share it. A book will pass that passion along; it will preserve it for posterity. Contact me today. You know you want to.

 

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The Delectable Oddities of Ghostwriting

As a ghostwriter, I get a real charge out of helping people to impart their wisdom to those who need it most. I have two sets of clients: The Author and The Readers. When both are satisfied, I’ve made a ripple.

That ripple most often comes in the form of a full-length book or a blog article, but some projects are unexpected, unconventional…odd, even.

I’ve got to admit, they might be my favorites.

The Macabre

“I want to make people laugh while they’re mourning.” This from a man who had just learned of his terminal cancer. One month later, the humorous statement had been carved into his headstone.

The Vengeful

“He needs to know what he did to me.” This from a woman who had just found out her lover had been cheating on her. I didn’t realize that her PayPal account had been linked to his checking account until after he received the six-page letter. Of course, I issued a refund.

The Generous

“I don’t want them to know where it came from.” This from a woman who wanted a letter drafted to her church — a letter that would accompany a $100,000 gift. It couldn’t be in her style; her identity would have to be protected.

The Dishonest

“My dad will pay you.” This from a premed student at one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S. Of course, I didn’t take the job.

The Touching

“I am losing my mind.” This from an elderly pastor, who disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. He wanted his last sermons to be written in his voice, in his tongue-in-cheek style, so that his congregation would not suspect a thing. His wish, of course, was my honor and pleasure.

The Whimsical

“No one can know it’s me.” This from a student who “borrowed” his mother’s over-sized ceramic garden squirrel to accompany him on a study-abroad trip to Spain. I built the website, uploaded the photos, and posted daily updates on Sebastian’s adventures.

The Nervous

“I can’t sound stupid.” This from a television journalist who had just landed her very first assignment. She wanted questions written for a scheduled interview — relevant questions that would keep her subject talking. This was the first of five ghostwritten interview scripts. Today, she’s interrogating guests like nobody’s business.

Never Boring

Those are just a few examples of unusual ghostwriting jobs I’ve fielded, and big parts of why I love this vocation. The people I meet, the messages I get to impart, and the things I learn about the world are precious to me.

Have you been struggling with finding the words to express yourself? Do you have wisdom to impart or a technique to teach, but you’re having difficulty putting it into words (either written or spoken)? Contact me. We should talk.

Grave Designs

“Fifty-eight inches.”

The boy grins. He’s grown since spring.

“Tell your folks I’ll have their order tomorrow.” The crumbling carpenter retracts his tape measure, its disorderly echoes interrupted by an embankment of surplus sweet, green hay. The last surviving mare’s bloated underbelly was painted by the ginger sunrise just three mornings ago. 

Now, he can build. No more digging horse graves.

“Mister?” A tiny voice begs; a rosy girl, no more than five years old tiptoes into the barn . “Mama’s sick. She sent me to get measured.”

Hers will be the smallest yet. Scrap cuts of pine will do.

 

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Copyright Jacinda Little 2018

Every Woman has a Story

I have yet to meet a woman who doesn’t have a story.

Don’t get me wrong—men have stories, too. However, if you’re a woman in business and you want to connect with other women, there’s no better way to start than with your own, unique branded story.

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This isn’t fiction:  it’s a retelling of how you became interested in what you’re currently doing, the transformation that followed, the struggles and your ultimate (or in-progress) victory.

Why am I thinking about this right now?

I was contacted by a lovely young lady this morning, asking for help with her Facebook page. People were starting to follow, but they just weren’t buying. I helped her out. Gave her loads of suggestions for increasing engagement on that Facebook page—for serving her dream customers so she could eventually sell to them.

In the course of our work, we got to talking about stories, and how they endear our brands to the people who need our products and services the most.

And that naturally led us to exchange our own stories. Hers involved her husband losing his job, her two small children, and her quest to find open windows after so many doors had closed.

She’s still close to the beginning of her journey, but she’s on the right track and I look for her to create something great. If you’d like to show your support, go here.

We didn’t have much time to go into my story (she had to go because she also works as a real estate agent and busy patient navigator for a cancer services program), but I promised her I’d write it and ultimately share it.

By the time my story was in motion, I still hadn’t the slightest idea what was intended for me. While the other kids were playing soccer or hanging with friends (you know, being cool), I was learning to type. I was writing letters to my future self (with subject lines like, To Those I Will Serve) and reading so ravenously that I was actually struck by a Buick while crossing Main Street…reading a book, of course.

By the time high school graduation came around, I had already dubbed my literature teacher an English Goddess, and felt like I was on the cusp of something great. I would become a writer. I would craft a novel that would break new ground and tell a story so gripping that it might just get me into heaven.

And then…I let someone convince me that I should stick with my dispatching job at a local construction company—that being a writer wasn’t a real job, and that college was a waste of time and money, especially for someone like me, who came from a working class family.

I spent the next 15 years feeling like a shell. Not quite human; not quite dead.

It wasn’t until I picked up a pen and one of my kids’ discarded notebooks at 2 am, just after my 30th birthday, that I discovered what had been missing. It was the written word, and with it came the feeling of full, unhindered expression. I discovered that night what I had been denying all along: writing wasn’t just a hobby, or something that could become a job. I needed it to cope, to move forward and to make connections—all the things that most people can accomplish without it.

And so, the next day, I gave my boss two weeks’ notice. I quit my job.

Just like that. I couldn’t believe it myself. I hadn’t made plans. I hadn’t given the daycare sufficient notice. My God, what was I thinking? Was this the most irresponsible thing a wife and mother had ever done?

Did my husband have the income to support us all? Nope.

Did I have any reason to believe I could make money? Nope.

Did I think I could live another day without doing this thing that was like speaking and breathing for most people? Nope.

Did I wonder if I had lost my mind? Absolutely.

And so, we struggled for years with paying the bills and keeping our kids’ dreams alive. I found a few clients on freelancer sites willing to pay me a couple bucks for all-night work by candlelight, begged for references and gave away samples for free in hopes that someone would have pity on me and write a contract.

Years passed. I worked. I prayed. I refused to let anyone (especially myself) believe that I’d ruined my life and those of the people who relied on me.

And then it happened. The phone rang and on the other end was what I thought was an apocalyptic joke. The voice (and name) was that of a well-known nightly news personality. She had been following my work and had gotten a recommendation from a friend (for whom I’d done some work). She wanted me to write her book and she was going to pay me more than I could have made in a year working full-time.

That one phone call blossomed into lots of wonderful things. I feel like I’ve learned more than I could have in those four years of college that I had once wanted so much. And I suspect that the struggle (the peanut butter sandwiches, the borax in the laundry and the holes in my socks) have made me a better writer. I have been blessed with a steady stream of work, and I promised myself years ago that I would never take that for granted.

Now, I’m in a place where the people who need me (and whom I need, too) seem to find me. I can’t give away the most recent plot twists of my story, as they will be released in an upcoming publication. However, I can say this:  even I can’t believe the cosmic amazement of it all.

I really do believe that the universe rewards us when we make decisions that align with its energy. I think that intellect is only a small part of how we should be making decisions, and that fear is stopping too many women (and men) from fulfilling their purpose.

I would love to hear your stories. About how it felt when you followed your intuition, even if it didn’t make sense on paper. I’d love to hear the story of how you got started on the journey you now know is meant for you (or isn’t meant for you). It’s not just about the decisions we make; it’s also about the people we meet along the way and how they affect our journeys . Let’s talk about it. Because after all, I believe everyone has a story to tell.

To the young lady I was so happy to connect with today: Thank You. Your words took me back to a place I once was and that fashioned my worldview into something I’m thankful for every day. I’m still not rich. But guess what? I don’t give a rat’s ass. I’m happy, and that’s priceless.

 

Are you struggling with the decision to throw caution to the wind and become a freelance writer? Or have you been struggling with following your dream, no matter what it may be? I want to hear from you. I am compiling a collection of stories about people who broke the mold and followed their dreams…while the rest of the world told them they would fail. Simply comment here, contact me through my Facebook business page, or email me.

The Holiday Apostrophe

It’s the season of giving for people from all walks of life, and when we give, we sign.

Are you signing your family’s name correctly?

And is the Holiday Apostrophe any different than the Everyday Apostrophe?

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Here are some guidelines:

When referring to a number of people in the same family, the family name is pluralized, with no apostrophe needed.

With Love from the Littles is CORRECT.

With Love from the Little’s and With Love from the Littles’ are INCORRECT.

If you’re captioning a photo, the same rule applies.

It’s The Robinsons, not The Robinson’s or The Robinsons’.

If, however, you’re talking about the family vacation, it’s…

The Robinsons’ Family Holiday or The Robinson Family Holiday, NOT The Robinsons Family Holiday.

If you struggle with the everyday apostrophe, the holiday apostrophe is sure to make your head spin, so when in doubt, remember this:

All the traditional rules apply when using (and not using) the apostrophe with proper nouns. If there is plural possession (The Smiths’ Year in Review), the apostrophe is used. If there’s only one Smith, the singular possessive is used (Howard Smith’s Christmas Adventure). However, if there’s no possession indicated, and the name is simply made plural, there should be no apostrophe (Love, The Smiths).

Are you struggling with how to properly refer to your family’s name? Simply comment here and I’ll give you a hand.

Or, maybe you have other examples you’d like to share. I invite you to do that, too.

Join me for book reviews, observations on writing, grammar advice and more by liking my Facebook page.

Become a Published Author

If you’re trying to gain professional authority in your field, enhance your profile or simply get more business, the best way to accomplish that is to write and publish a book.

Writing a book is an oxymoron of sorts; a counter-intuitive notion. It seems like a ginormous task — something most business owners and entrepreneurs don’t even want to think about.

And yet, the crazy thing is this: Becoming a published author is the shortest route to attaining all those delicious things you’re craving, like notoriety in your industry, sales without having to sell, networking opportunities and yes, market domination.

Here’s why:

  • You’ll go from having to prove your expertise to owning it. That’s because without a book, you’ve got to give advice, spend hours crafting custom proposals, write dissertations on the meaning of the universe…all to prove that you’re worthy of a look. When you’re the author of a published book, it’s assumed that you’re an expert in the field — even by those who will never bother to read it.
  • Writing a book is a self-belief builder. If you’re like most professionals, the idea of writing a book is more terrifying than watching a Saw movie — at home, alone, with reports of a serial killer casing the neighborhood. Guess what? Your competition is at least as scared as you are. And do you know who wins? The one with the published book and the confidence to move on to bigger, better and scarier things. Fear’s just a thing, and the more of it you have, the better the indicator that you need to slay it.
  • A published book gives you plenty to talk about with your audience. There are press releases when it’s published, public speaking events to deliver its content, the winning of awards (and rubbing elbows at the ceremonies), book signings, guest blogging requests, PR opportunities…and lots of other fabulous, business-building breaks — because remember, you’re now a sought-after expert in your field.
  • Your business will become more visible. If you’ve ever felt like you’re invisible in the market, well join the millions of other business owners who are wallowing in their own anonymity. Write a book and voila! There you are. You see, when you’re a published author, people suddenly start coming out of the woodwork. Some of them will be hearing about you for the first time (thanks to the expert marketing of your book), and others will finally start paying attention when they see or hear your name.
  • Your profile suddenly looks more impressive. Writing descriptions and bios for your online profiles is loads of fun, right? You know what you do and what you’re skilled at, but what do your dream clients want to know about you? Well, I can tell you one thing they want to know: That you’re a published author. Seriously, put yourself in their shoes for moment. Who are you going to buy from? The published author or…well, you know…the other guy?
  • Books provide a passive income source. After the writing is done, you’ve got a network of marketing resources available to you, so that you can make money from this book while you eat, sleep or suck down drinks on a beach somewhere. Now, I’m not implying that writing and marketing a book is easy. I am, however, attesting to the fact that you can reel in passive income long after the hard work’s done.

I could go on and on, but you’ve got to get to work. You have a book to write.

Just a few pieces of wisdom before I go:

  • Your intellectual property and unique experiences are commodities that deserve to be compensated. Treat them like the gems they are. Share them with pride and with care.
  • Don’t get too wrapped up in perfecting your writing, especially in the first draft. They make second, third and fourth drafts for that…and there are these nifty little gnomes that only come out at night. They’re called editors.
  • Research the market before you start writing. The worst case I’ve ever seen? A woman spent five years writing her life’s work, only to realize when she took it to an agent that she’d inadvertently copied the subject matter of another best-selling book. Ouch!
  • Write from a place of empathy and understanding for your reader, who is also your dream client. Give them your heart, your soul, your sweat…your commitment. Nothing bad can come from that.

And there you go: Why I think you should become a published author. You’re better than you think, and more capable than you’re capable of knowing.

Not sure where to start? Have you already written your book and it needs editing? Or do you want to become a published author without having to write a single word? I’ve got you. Email jacindalittle@gmail.com and we’ll talk about your goals, and if a ghostwriter is right for you.

 

I’m Such a Hypocrite

The wall pressed against my fingertips, convincing them to believe it was finally safe to breathe.

My head bobbed to the surface and I clung breathlessly to the side of the pool, searching frantically for Cindy — my life preserver, my time keeper, the woman who told me, a chubby kid who swam like a Christmas ham, to pretend I saw a fudge pop at the other end of the pool (in an effort to make me swim faster).

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Most kids would have asked for their time. Most kids would have rejoiced. Not me. Instead, I asked, “How come I’ve never seen you swim?”

Disrespectful? Maybe.

Curious? Definitely.

I wanted to know why this woman who spent an hour every week teaching me to thrive in a medium not prevalent in my species’ evolutionary history, a medium that could invade my body and kill me, never even got wet.

How could I trust her advice? How could I be sure she knew what it felt like to have your lungs about to explode, or your arms and legs scream out with fatigue? The only thing I knew about her was that she was, for my specific purposes, a highly literate fudge pop.

The summer passed slow and lazy, like they do for eight-year-old kids. By the time the first day of school rolled around, I had already snagged the Back-Float Award and the Most Improved Award (which was code for “you sucked when you got here, and now you suck a little less”).

But that’s not what I think about when I go back to that summer. I think about the last day when Cindy stripped off her shorts and t-shirt to reveal the broadest female shoulders I’d ever seen, sinewy legs and barely-there hips. She climbed up on the diving board and soundlessly slipped into the crystal blue water, emerging like something on a Beaches commercial. In that moment, she was transformed from a fudge pop to an honest-to-goodness mermaid.

I hadn’t realized that my mother had signed me up for swimming lessons with a former siren of the Atlantic. I guess she didn’t think I needed to know. Looking back, I wish I had. If I would have known how at-home Cindy felt in the water, or how seamlessly she mingled into it, not fighting it, not struggling…just being…I wouldn’t have needed that fudge-pop image.

My motivation would have been born of pure and authentic respect. Her raw example, her presence, would have been more than enough to make me kick faster, reach farther…be better.

Did Cindy do anything wrong? Absolutely not.

Have I? Without a doubt, yes.

You see, for the past 13 years, I have been coaching clients through writing their books. I’ve been editing their work and teaching them to better express themselves, and to more effectively communicate with their readers. I have taught them how we can use words to build businesses, reputations and relationships. I have been writing books for those experts too intimidated by the process, or too busy to give it their full attention. I have been cheering for the success of those works, as if they were my own.

And yet, I have not shed my layers and plunged into the waters I so affectionately call my home.

I have not written a book of my own.

That’s about to change.