Work-Balance Lessons from James Chartrand

Yeah, so you know that I was a lucky winner of a scholarship to this little course called Damn Fine Words. :) And as we were going back and forth in the forum, James was helping us with our copy and it slapped me that I needed to talk to her. She is a successful business owner; she writes like nobody you've ever met, and she has a home and family to take care of. She does what I do - only so much better.

And, honestly, I wanted to pick her brain to know what goes through her mind as she's going through her day. When we have so much to take care of as work at home parents and entrepreneurs, it's hard to get it all done (if we can) efficiently. So, I wanted to know what makes James, well, James and how I can grow up to be her!

In this interview, you'll learn what makes awesome copy, how you have to deal with house and home so you can succeed, and what you can learn from her yourself.

James Chartrand spills it.

Oh, and in case you live under a rock or happen to be new to this game, James Chartrand is the owner of Men with PensDamn Fine Words, and her new course, Damn Fine Ebooks. She's a power writer who's voice is well known over the web from her contributions to Copyblogger, Write-to-Done and just about any other big name blog you can think of...yeah, cause she rocks.

Give a listen, then let us know in the comments how you are going to make your copy (and your life) great.

Thanks for listening and have an awesome week!


PS Don't forget to check out Men with PensDamn Fine Words, and Damn Fine Ebooks!

Surprise Guest on Fit Freelancer!!

OK, I was going to wait until next week to post this...simply because it would be phenomenal to have content posted two weeks in a row!! :) But, my reasons for letting my weekly posting fall by the wayside are good:) And I canNOT wait to put this up any longer. I've literally been smiling since yesterday! If you checked out the post earlier this week, then you got some powerful tips on hitting 6,000 words or more a day from Sean Platt, as I pulled him away from writing his fingers to the bone for his new Amazon contract.

And today, I've got a another special guest with me - if you're a freelancer serious about growing your business, you already know who he is. And if you don't, you're about to find out. (Let's pretend you don't see that pic there in the right, ok? :) )

He has over 223,000 followers on Twitter and he isn't even in business for social media! He's a business designer working to help business develop the Human Business Way through publishing and social media.

Ok, now you know who he is...take a look at what Chris Brogan has to say about taking in info (as opposed to ABSORBING it), how Batman and Superman rate with the Impact Equation (Brogan and Smith's new book coming on October 25, 2012), and how entrepreneurs like you can get out of bed and do what needs to be done - even when you don't feel like it.

I have to say, I was totally freaked out doing this, I mean, this was a professional speaker who has appeared in places like Forbes, USA Today and Dr. Phil; he's the NY Times Bestselling co-author with Julien Smith on Trust Agents and The Impact Equation; and he's a powerful business consultant - yet, here he was...letting me interview him. Wow. The coolest part is my Google Hangout decided to eat dirt, so he stepped in to save the day (not unlike Batman, I might add).

Thanks for that, Chris.

Take a look at the video - then go get the Impact Equation and sign up for the Three Book Diet so you can explode your business with Chris in 2013. And sign up for his newsletter - you'll love it.

Now, I'm shutting up - take notes!

Let me know  in the comments how you're going to grow your business in 2013?

Have an awesome weekend!



Would you do a good deed for struggling entrepreneurs and share this with your networks? Thanks!


Become a Faster Freelancer with These Secrets to Massive Word Counts

You strive to juggle as many clients as possible because that's how you win at freelancing, right? Um, well, we'll talk about that later. But you know how that goes. You've taken on too many clients at once and you're trying to be the hero, but you're doing it all wrong. And your word count is suffering. You need to generate three 700 word content marketing posts for clients (ahem) and it's 5pm and you've only generated one and a half. What are you going to do? If you don't step up and deliver, you're going to tarnish your name as a freelancer and possibly lose your client.

But, alas, you can only crank out so much a day because you're flying by the seat of your pants and it's hurting your word count.

See, when you sit down to write, you think you're supposed to just pound out what's on the top of your head and insert a few facts you've researched. And you can't do that.

Sean Platt, the King of the Serials, and a master wordsmith knows.

As someone who ALWAYS has multiple title streams in production at once, publishing title after title each WEEK, and someone who's also just garnered a shiny new Amazon contract as a 47North writer, he knows what it  takes to reach phenomenal word counts. And as a freelancer, you can't afford not to sit up and listen.

Check out what Sean had to say about his word count and what you can do to increase yours.

How are YOU going to start serving more clients with faster copy today? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for watching!

Have a great week!



If you know a freelancer struggling with their productivity, do them a favor and use those social share buttons to share this post with them. Thanks!

Tips from a Productive Creative Master

Guys, I have a very special guest for you for today's "What's Up Wednesday" post! You all know we’re focusing on upping our fitness this month by logging our Minutes in Motion for our Productive Creativity. (And if you haven’t already downloaded your PC Journal to track yours, you can get it by subscribing to the blog.:D) My guest today is one of Time’s Top 25 Bloggers and he’s no stranger to health, fitness, and Productive Creativity. He’s the author of focus, The Effortless Life, and many more helpful titles written to help us live more minimalistic and happy lifestyles.

Without further ado, please welcome Leo Babauta to the blog today!

Thanks for being here, Leo. You’re a busy man and your time is much appreciated. :) Got your green tea? Let’s get started:)...

1. You’re a vegan, right? And this is the ultimate eating clean plan. You’re a runner and strength trainer. Again, ultimates in the field of fitness. How much of your success do you contribute to your eating and fitness routines?

Leo: My health and fitness are central to everything I do -- it has made me happier, better able to focus on my writing, better equipped to play wildly with my kids, able to walk everywhere and enjoy life to the fullest. I’ve learned that what I used to think was pleasurable -- eating junk food, shopping, mindless entertainment -- is not nearly as satisfying as a good workout or a simple healthy delicious meal. Just a note about veganism: while I believe it’s the most compassionate diet, it’s not necessarily healthy, depending on how you do it. Like any diet, you should focus less on junk foods and more on whole foods like lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, beans, seeds, whole grains.

Tania: This is very true, Leo.  These are the principles that we have been working on improving in order to improve our PCness (Productive Creativeness;D) here.

2. According to a recent survey, many people responded that they don’t have time to eat right and exercise because of work and school schedules. What are your tips for the rushed and rambunctious?

Leo: Simplify. Most people commit to too much, cramming their schedules full because they think they can do more than they really have time for. Start eliminating commitments, leaving only what’s most important to you. For me, that’s family, writing, reading and fitness. My day consists almost only of those four things. Also, cut back on surfing the Internet and watching TV. Once you start making space, you’ll have time for healthier foods.

Tania:  Great point, Leo!  Cutting back on activities can help us make room for things we love!

3. As a dad of 6 babes that are homeschooled, do your children eat the same foods that you eat? What approach do you take if they don’t like the food what’s served? (I’m afraid that if I serve tofu, something might come flying at the back of my head while I cook!)

Leo: My kids are omnivores, except my 5-year-old daughter Noelle, who recently decided she wanted to stop eating animals. I loved that -- I didn’t force it on her. I believe in leading by example instead of forcing. So I share my delicious vegan food with them, but when they go out to a restaurant they often order meat (mostly chicken). My wife Eva cooks vegetarian meals for them now, but for awhile she was cooking chicken and fish. They don’t seem to mind too much that we stopped making meat dishes, because we make them veggie versions of stuff they love -- spaghetti, tacos, pizza, chili, soup. They don’t mind tofu too much because they’re getting used to it, though we rarely make it for them.

Tania: Aw, that's sweet.  Children are so empathetic and tapping into this at this age is great.  Way to go, Noelle!

4. Since this is Minutes in Motion Month, can you give any tips for making a difference physically to those that are just starting out?

Leo: The two most important things are to start, and then to be able stick with it. Most people don’t start because they dread it, so I recommend starting with just 5-10 minutes a day, and make it easy -- just walk, or play a sport you love. Focus on enjoying the activity rather than getting some kind of health benefit. If you can start with a small amount, you’ll get fitter gradually, and if you can stick with it because it’s easy and you enjoy it, you’ll make huge gains over the course of a few months.

Tania: Beautifully it and stick with it.

5. How did you manage change when things got tough? Or did they ever get tough through the changes? (I get the impression that, as a laid back guy, you probably have few struggles, is that right?) :D

Leo: I struggle all the time, just like anyone. When things get tough, I find new ways of doing things so they’re not so tough. I take the easiest course, like water, though I also alter the landscape a bit so the easiest course is also a healthy one. :) So I’ll find a workout partner or go on runs with my wife, so that working out is fun and I’m more likely to do it because I’m accountable to someone. When I start doubting myself or feel like quitting, I’ll find another thing to do that’s fun and that excites me.

6. What’s the single most important tip you can give our readers that are struggling with taking up the healthy and fit lifestyle in order to make the quality of their work clearer and more focused?

Leo: Use exercise as meditation. I love meditation, and have found that running, or any kind of exercise, can be done the same way -- by focusing on the present moment, by cultivating mindfulness, by paying attention to your breath. This becomes not only a way of relieving stress and finding calm and clarity, but mindfulness practice that you take into the rest of your life. When you work, you’ll be better at being present and focusing at the task at hand.

Tania: Mindfulness is a big part of a PC lifestyle.  Love your advice here!

7. Speaking of focus, please tell us about your latest diamond projects and what we can look forward to in the future from a great Productive Creative like yourself.

Leo: I only work on one project at a time, and don’t plan the next projects after that. Right now I’m doing a course with Courtney Carver called Clutterfree, where I help people get free of their clutter. After that, we’ll see what I’m excited about!

Tania: We can't wait to see what that'll be!  There you have it guys...straight from a PC Master! Eat clean, exercise, be mindful and maximize your PCness, just like the Master.

It’s my sincerest hope that if you've been under a rock :) and aren't already a subscriber to Leo’s blog or haven’t gotten your hands on some of his reads that you do so...soon. And I also hope that you've learned something valuable that you can apply to your own Productive Creative life today.

Thank you so much, Leo, for stopping by. We've really enjoyed having you here and look forward to more great content coming from you and Zen Habits.

Follow Leo on Twitter @zen_habits and check out the Zen Habits store. And follow me on Twitter and Facebook to stay motivated in your PC journey with challenges and inspiration!

Leo Babauta Bio

Leo Babauta is a simplicity blogger & author. He created Zen Habits, a Top 25 blog (according to TIME magazine) with 200,000 subscribers,, and the best-selling books focus, The Power of Less, and Zen To Done.

Babauta is a former journalist of 18 years, a husband, father of six children, and in 2010 moved from Guam to San Francisco, where he leads a simple life.

He started Zen Habits to chronicle and share what he's learned while changing a number of habits:

  • Quit smoking (on Nov. 18, 2005).
  • Became a runner.
  • Ran several marathons and triathlons.
  • Began waking early.
  • Became organized and productive.
  • Began eating healthier
  • Became a vegetarian.
  • Tripled his income.
  • Wrote a novel and a non-fiction book.
  • Eliminated his debt.
  • Simplified his life.
  • Lost weight (more than 50 pounds).
  • Wrote several best-selling ebooks.
  • Started a successful Top 25 blog.
  • Started a second blog for writers and bloggers.
  • Created a leading blog on minimalism.
  • Gave up his car, and is now car-free.

What struggles do you have with living a PC lifestyle?  Let us know in the comments so we can help!

Books, Blogs, and Broods...Oh My! Sean Platt Does It All!

Being able to balance life and work is key to balancing mind and body.  Sean Platt is a stellar example of a man with a plan.  He has his game together and it shows in his projects.  He is a dad, author, and blogger among many other things.  He recently took time out of his busy schedule to share with us things that have helped him get to where he is.  Notes: Sean thinks I am complimenting him, but I am not.  I simply state facts.  He is a master, but is too modest to admit it.  J  Thanks, again, Sean, for your time and your grace!

Don’t forget to check out all of Sean’s writing Yesterday’s Gone, Writing Online, Syllable Soup and much, much more!

Enough of my ranting…you came to see Sean and here he is!

You are a busy, busy man whose family plays a prominent role in your life/career.  If anyone knows how to get projects done and live life, it’s you.  What organization tips and tools have helped you balance it all?

Hey Tania, thanks for the compliment!

Yes, my family is the most important part of my life, and the biggest driving force in my career. Not only do they help me recognize where I want to go, they do everything possible to support the drive.

Balance is the hardest thing of all, by far. The last three years I’ve had to write ridiculous amounts of copy, both for myself and to pay the raging bills. Balancing it all is, at times, a nightmare. Only now am I surfacing enough to get my head above water enough to see land, and the bigger picture.

I am extremely fortunate to have a remarkable team: my partners David Wright, Danny Cooper, and Tracy O’Connor are all amazing, and all help move our collective engine forward.

The best advice I can give to anyone just starting out online, or someone without a team, is to be patient. Even if you can do everything, you can’t do it all at once. So stop pretending you can. Breathe deep and take your time, you will eventually hit the finish line.

But remember, whatever your life and your career goals, living them is a process, not an event.

Your words seem effortless when you write.  What is the most difficult part of being a writer or writing for you?

The most difficult part for me, by far, is knowing where to focus my attention. The reason my words seem effortless is because I write almost exactly like I speak, which enables me to write with tremendous speed, and with a style that zips all over the place, like in conversation.

During my last two years spent as a ghostwriter I’ve written everything from sales letters to wedding vows to fiction to speeches and blog copy, so I can write fast, furious, and across practically any genre. Yet, having that skill set makes me feel schizophrenic at times since I don’t know where to focus my creative energies. I just finished Season One of Yesterday’s Gone while in the midst of releasing a few social media and writing books, and right now I’m juggling the production of some children’s fairytales and a collection of short horror stories for grown-ups.

Very different.

And while I like writing all over the place, sometimes I think it would be better if I would just focus on writing one thing at a time!

You have a great writing partnership with David Wright.  How did that come about?  What recommendations can you make to those looking into writing with a team?  Has the writing team mode helped you manage the many pokers that you have in the fire?

Thanks, yes, David Wright is an amazing creative partner, and I’m very lucky to be working with him.

Our friendship and partnership happened in the most wonderfully natural, organic way. My first website was Writer Dad, which was the domain name Dave wanted for his first website, too. However, he never purchased the name and when he went to buy it, he found out I had – a guy who lived on the opposite coast, who he’d never met before.

He started reading my site, loved the way I wrote, then reached out and introduced himself my second week online. We’ve been friends and collaborators since almost day one.

Writing with a partner is absolutely wonderful for me. I love writing in isolation, too, but I’m collaborative by nature and most of the books I’ll be publishing are co-authored.

The best advice I can give is to never let ego get in the way. Ego is the enemy of amazing. Relax and let the creative chemistry do the heavy lifting and you will create superior art. And yes, absolutely, without a solid writing team behind me, my fries would have burned a long time ago!

You are Ghostwriter Dad.  How did you decide on your platform or was it a natural succession in your road map?  What advice can you give to those still struggling to figure out what their platform should be? Do you feel a writer’s platform should be directly related to writing or is a platform a platform no matter what the content in a publisher or the market’s eyes?

Ghostwriter Dad’s origins are sort of funny. Writer Dad had given me a lot of attention when I first started out, but zero dollars. After about six months chasing attention, and slowly bleeding my bank account, I realized I needed to start selling something. I was a fast writer and could sell my services, so I did.

I popped the word ghost in front of the word writer and piggybacked off the online brand I’d started to build, simple as that.

However, if I were doing it all over again, there’s no way I would have ever started a site about writing. I love Ghostwriter Dad and always will, but there are a million and one blogs about writing, and it’s extremely difficult to stand out – no matter how good your content is.

Under no circumstances do I ever think a writer’s platform should be directly related to writing. It should be related to whatever will help that writer bond with their audience most. Chasing attention from fellow writers is a losing game, for the most part, especially if you’re trying to write books. Other writers are too busy writing their own books to help you market yours!

My only goal with Ghostwriter Dad is to help struggling writers. The site isn’t set up to make money, nor would I ever intentionally start a website about writing aimed for big revenue. I’d much rather make my money from readers than from writers.

Recently, the masterful Justine Musk posed the question “Are fiction writers screwed?”  on  While she is not of that mindset, she points out that many in the industry are. What is your take on that?

I like Justine a lot, but no, I don’t believe fiction writers are screwed – at all. Fiction writers have never had it better. Nearly all the top 100 paid downloads on Kindle are fiction, and some are from self published authors. That’s never been possible until now.

A more accurate statement is, “Fiction writers with no ability to market or desire to learn the basics are screwed.”

A marketer who knows how to write reasonably well is far more positioned to benefit from the Kindle economy than a great writer without a clue how to market.

You recently released your serial fiction “Yesterday’s Gone” with David Wright.  What is your next big project?

Oh man, we have more projects in development than we can count!

Something I just released, that I’m ridiculously proud of, is the children’s poetry title, Syllable Soup. I’m in love with the language in this project, and am proud the title hit Number 1 in children’s humorous poetry on Amazon.

I also love the trailer Dave made for the book! Check it out below.

I’m following that up with a collection of children’s fairy tales: three traditional fairy tales retold in my voice, along with three new fairytales written by me.

Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel are both currently available as .99 singles.

Dave and I have a book of six short stories (with killer endings!) that we’ll be publishing in November, then I have an untitled writing/marketing book for Ghostwriter Dad, scheduled for release on December 26. January starts strong with the release of Yesterday’s Gone’s second season, followed by a FAT publishing calendar throughout the rest of 2012.


Sean Platt is an author, publisher, and entrepreneur. He is author of Writing Online and co-author of the groundbreaking serialized fiction, Yesterday’s Gone. Smart writers follow him on Twitter.

There you have it guys…write hard, write fast, write often. And in your own voice.  Think you can do what Sean is doing?  I don’t know if I can, but I certainly want to try!  All the best to my guest and to my readers…no matter what your goals are. 

Let Sean know what you think of him in the comments!  J  Be nice.

Thanks for stopping by everyone!  Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook and leave your email up top there so I can drop you emails when posts are published!


Justine Musk Interview: Lessons in Great Writing

After reading BloodAngel, I became enamored with Justine Musk’s style of writing.  She is phenomenal at visual writing.  Imagery like hers is rare and beautiful.  She has also authored Lord of Bones (the sequel to BloodAngel) and Uninvited.  She has contributed short stories to Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love and Love Bites: The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2. Justine’s writing is so profound that I thought we might be able to learn a thing or two from her. If you are interested in learning more from her, she has an excellent blog over at Tribal Writer .  :) Without further ado, I give you Justine Musk.

BloodAngelwas your first published novel.  How long did that journey take, from conception to shelf?  What struggles did you face when it came time to find a publishing house? 

I started kicking around ideas and images for the book when I was in college, so from conception to shelf it was probably about ten years, all told.  The manuscript, when it was ready, found an agent quickly and it sold relatively quickly. But it took me about eight other unpublished novels to get to that point. Struggle is the name of the game – you have to learn how to love to engage with it, or you won’t last.

“Heat and dust and silence, the sky hammering itself into the flat white of noon” was Jess’ impression of a moment in the desert in BloodAngel.  This line is forever emblazoned in my brain. Your use of imagery in your writing is beautiful.  Is that an acquired talent that the rest that can be learned and honed or an innate talent that one must be born with?  If the former is true, what is the best way to develop that skill?

 Thank you!  I’m a strongly visual person, and so I think that comes through in my writing, and I always gravitated to writers who enjoy that play with language (Joyce Carol Oates, T.C. Boyle, Poppy Z Brite come to mind), who take risks with it.  I definitely think it’s a skill that can be developed – Janet Fitch comes to mind, her book WHITE OLEANDER, how she (apparently) worked hard to find her own language and imagery, to see the familiar from a new angle. 

Probably one of the best things you can do is to read a lot of contemporary poetry. And of course to write, write, write.  Give yourself exercises.  Take different things and force relationships between them, figure out how they’re similar to each other, explore that in your writing.  Do a lot of freewriting – don’t censor, just give yourself over to your undermind and see what bubbles up.  Don’t be afraid of yourself, your true voice.

What is your writing process like?  Describe your frame of mind when you sit down at your laptop to write, be it a blog post or a novel. 

 I write daily, usually in the mornings, and when I have the kids (I am divorced with 50/50 custody) I’ll try to get up at 4 or 5 am to do some work while the rest of the house is still sleeping.  I really love that silent, kind of lonely time.  I’ll give my mind stuff to mull over – some information about the scene, some dialogue – before I sit down to write that scene.  Same with the blog: I’ll do a lot of reading, let ideas surface, percolate, find each other, before sitting down to write a blog post. That incubation period is super important. 

 There are times when I get anxious about writing, and will do a few minutes of meditation, maybe some quick yoga, to calm my brain.  There’s almost always that bit of resistance to work through, but then the writing starts to flow and it’s lovely. The trick is to get through that resistance. It will kill you dead if you let it!

You are established and have this gig wrapped around your finger.  But, in the beginning, how important was critique and mentorship to you?  What suggestions do you have for those that seek these types of guidance?

 I don’t feel like I have this gig wrapped around my finger!  I stepped away from fiction for a couple of years while I went through my divorce and thought hard about the kind of writer I wanted to be (I might have been overthinking it!).  The blog Tribal Writer was partly an attempt to reinvent myself, re-position myself a little bit.  In a lot of ways I feel like I’m starting over, although I guess that’s not exactly true.

 Critique and mentorship are so important, I can’t emphasize that enough.  It has to be the right kind: tough but constructive, nuanced, particularly as you become more advanced in your craft.  My agent has a great editorial eye and I benefited from that.  I also found a great writing coach, who gives terrific feedback and holds me accountable as I push to finish my current novel.  So if anything, that kind of mentorship has become even more important to me.  You need someone to help you through your blind spots, who isn’t necessarily your agent or editor.  We all have those blind spots, and when someone can shine a light on them for you, so you can see something you couldn’t quite before?  Breakthrough. A great feeling. You should always strive to get better, get better.

Your blog, Tribal Writer, is a commanding, educational, and inspirational force for writers seeking guidance in this business.  What is the single most important piece of advice you were given that has guided your career and formed who you are?

Thanks so much.  And wow, what a question.  I feel, looking back, like I made a lot of mistakes, was groping my way through the dark for so long… I can think of a few things, maybe not one big thing.  Persist, persist, persist.  Write what you want to know about (instead of just what you know, which can be very crippling).  Work close to your soul, or else you won’t have a chance in hell.  My friend Jason Calacanis, a tech guy, advised me to get on Twitter back when most people still didn’t know what it was, and that was what really kicked off my fascination with platform and social media, which, now, feels like a huge part of who I am – or am becoming.  I’m not one of those writers who says you don’t need to worry about developing an online platform – I think you absolutely do need to worry about it, you need to start learning about it as soon as possible, you need to think very long-term, and you should make platform-building as important as your actual writing.  


You have a large family and a demanding career, what time management tips would give to help those trying to balance work and family?

I have an unusual life, very privileged, a lot of help, so my situation is not typical and I don’t want people thinking that I’m some kind of superhero.  I’m not.  But you have to be quote-unquote selfish about making the time for your creative work, you can’t allow yourself to get caught in the trap of trying to be all things to everyone, so self-sacrificing, guilty.  You have to absolutely refuse to sacrifice yourself, your writing, which to me is one and the same thing.  But that can get very difficult, because this culture expects women to sacrifice themselves and will frown on them when they don’t (partly because it’s so bloody inconvenient for other people when they don’t!).

And you can’t sweat the small stuff.  Sometimes you have to let the small stuff kind of go to hell, at least for as long as you can get away with it.  Routine is important. Exercise and nutrition and sleep.  Creative rituals.  Healthy boundaries.  But I’m not sure there is a ‘balance’, there are periods of obsession and then periods of recovery.  It’s not a marathon so much as a series of sprints, with rest breaks in between.  Otherwise you burn out and break down. 

You also have to know what you can give up.  I don’t watch TV, I rarely go to movies, I have a very uninteresting social life (at least for the time being).  I am very clear on what I want, and clarity is a beautiful thing.

On your blog, you mention dreams of building a media empire.  What will this mean for your career as an author?  Can we still expect to see new novels on the horizon (soon J)?

I’m actually just starting to say that, it’s still a very tender young bud of a dream.  I just think it’s a very, very exciting time to be a writer.  I spent the last ten years surrounded by entrepreneurs, so I’ve been a little bit infected by that spirit.  But I am a novelist (and maybe a blogger) first and foremost:  I’m just very strongly attracted to the idea of the writer as entrepreneur, self-published as well as traditionally published, as a producer of multimedia content, as a transmedia storyteller. At the moment I just feel open to anything, like anything is possible, so long as you have the passion for it and you’re willing to sweat for it and you’re not afraid to embrace change.  When things are changing, when there’s some chaos, there’s also remarkable opportunity.   

There is a lot of good information here for writers looking to perfect their writing ability.  I hope that you guys have enjoyed this lesson.  I certainly have and I want to say a BIG “thank you” to Justine for agreeing to do this interview. It was kind of you to take time out to help those writers in need. 

What is your writing process?  How can you improve what you do?  Leave your comments below, I love hearing from you! 

 © Tania Dakka and Chaotic Musing, 2011

Patti Larsen

A blog post what?  A blog post exchange! 

I had NO idea what this was until the Roller Derby Queen herself explained it to me.  It was great fun getting to know Patti through this wonderful idea. Patti is the author of The Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House and Henry: A Short Story.  She is currently running a writer marathon with herself to have seven books on the market by January 2012!!  Check out this Roller Derby Woman who plans to dominate the literary world.

Without further ado, I give you, Queen Patti. Oh, and thanks for being here, Patti!

Who is Patti Larsen?  Of course, I am talking about the woman that the public doesn’t know as “Prolifically Gifted.”  Describe yourself in 1500 words or less (Keep in mind we are limited on space here. *ahem*)  

Patti Larsen is a 39-year-old novelist and independent filmmaker. A writer of fiction and screenplays, she began her writing career… eep! You’re not looking for my polished bio, huh? You sure you want more? The real dirty, down deep, nitty gritty? Fair enough. Here goes: I’m a card-carrying nerd. It’s taken years to admit it. I’m also a hermit in a writing basement who prefers solitude to people (cats always welcome). I’m a writing fiend who hears the voices of teenagers and blushes at the S-E-X parts. I don’t sleep very well. Ever. My mind is too busy. I am a feline loving married woman who could easily end up a crazy cat lady if my husband would let me. I am a paradigm shifter, a believer in self and my own personal power. I see everything in black and white until the gray is explained to me. I am a fiercely loyal friend, a confidant and a Tarot card reader and intuitive. I am a proud roller derby girl, a total dweeb and can’t dance to save my soul. I am terrified of heights and challenge that fear every chance I get. Oh, and I’m the Creator. The Queen of my own Destiny. I love that.

 Explain why you have a tomato between your eyes, please.  Is that a new fashion statement?  Have you seen many people wearing them?

Some writer I know has a thing for tomatoes. She threw them originally and I’ve been so busy writing I haven’t had time to grab a shower to wash them off (what day is this? Dear God… I’ve been lost in my WIP for HOW long?) Good part? Built in snack. Halogen bulb-dried tomatoes. Bad part? I stink. And my hair is orange. Sigh. I really need to go upstairs at some point but I’m glued to the chair by tomato juice… and the voices.

Are you a jammer, pivot, or a blocker? Ha!  You didn’t know I knew what those were!  Actually never thought to research roller derby until you had the brilliant idea to make an appearance in my net.  (For which I am grateful?) Do you aspire to play different roles in the rink?  What is your goal with roller derby?

I’m actually coaching right now. I broke my tailbone and my arm in training so I’m off skates until September. But I’m definitely a blocker—and probably will end up a pivot. I have a big mouth. And I’m bossy. I can’t imagine taking orders in the pack and not giving them. But I’m really digging coaching, too. The girls and I have a love/hate relationship. I’m so cheerful when I coach they don’t realize until they are worn to a nub at the end of practice that I’ve thoroughly thrashed their asses. I also give out candy. J Ultimately, I want to be Queen of the Roller Derby. Natch. Go big or stay home. I have super short blonde hair and am toying with the name Fannie Lennox. 

You write…A LOT.  How is that possible?  I mean, don’t you have roller derby practice and tours and stuff? Seriously, what is your state of mind when you sit down to write? 

I’m an alien. Crap, did I say that out loud? Just kidding… (maybe). This is so funny to me. I’ve heard it said so many times it’s about getting your ass in the seat and just writing. And honestly, I wish I had a different answer. Cause, you know, I hate conforming. But it’s the truth. I sit down every day and write. Seven days a week. Eight hours (or more) a day. Yes, I take days off. But not often. The voices won’t let me. (My husband keeps telling me I need to stop telling people I let the voices dictate my life. I think he worries about me.)

State of mind… are you really sure you want to open that Pandora’s box? I suffer from acute mind control by a pack of unruly teenagers who insist THEIR story needs to be told next, thank you very much. I don’t sleep well. In fact, just the other night I had one wake me up and start telling me her story. She made me get up and write down the first six sentences before she’d let me go back to bed. True story. So state of mind is forced order chaos at any given moment. I have to outline my work or I’d be insane. Nutzilla. And I schedule ALL of my writing. In fact, I’ve done so to the end of the year. So some of the voices are quieter knowing they are in the queue but the rest are in the background, grumbling they have to wait until 2012. I’d fire the lot of them if they’d let me. Sigh. No wonder I don’t have kids.

Your four cats must keep you on your toes.  Do they get jealous of your laptop?

I am surrounded by pampered felines as we speak. Nowhere is forbidden to them. Like I could forbid them. I exist at their whimsy and pleasure. They are very inspiring to me though, I must say. In fact, my butterscotch tabby Peanut is the reason I wrote my Middle Grade novelCatCity. But I digress. Please excuse me a moment while I cater to my masters. From the claws in my legs I’m assuming they are hungry.

One more question and I will put you out of your misery.  What is your best life? (Deep one, eh?)

My best life is the one I’m living. Writing every day. Taking charge of my career. Trusting my instincts. I love being in control of what I’m doing. When I was chasing the falsehood of the old dream, that of agented and Big Six success, I was unhappy, nervous and always doubting myself. Now that I’ve committed to small, independent publishing in conjunction with self-publishing, I feel fantastic. I know I’m a good writer. Two publishers agree with me. So the whole fear of self-publishing has vanished. I want to do some myself so I retain control. And others I’m happy to have a publisher’s name on. It’s a sad fact that we still need a certain level of credibility before we’re called authors.

Tied into that best life? Making people laugh, cry, scream and throw my book across the room only to scramble to retrieve it… and have them asking for more, more, more. Saying yes to my muse each and every time without fear or worry. Making enough money to not have to think about money.

Any life that lets me do what I do for a living and fill me up so much is the best.

What torturous plans do you have for the literary world once you achieve domination? 


Household name. I wants it. The ability to help other writers with scholarships and grants. I needs it. Making movies from my work. I has to have it. A shining palace of spun glass built in my honor and crowds of worshiping readers who hang on my every word while unicorns and fairies bathing my toes in rainbow rose water and a chorus of cherubic angels whispering endless story ideas in my ears…

I have two sides. Dark usually wins. Just read my books. You’ll see.


Patti writes a lot of middle grade and YA paranormal books for someone who is afraid of the dark. And she wonders why she has to sleep with the lights on. Sometimes life is a teenaged B horror movie and she’s the one who investigates when the scary music is playing. But the voices are calling and resistance is… Yes. She is a Star Trek geek, too. And a fan of RPG’s. With a slight coolness factor since she plays roller derby when she’s not breaking bones. At least, she likes to think she’s cool...

Make your own decisions at:

@PattiLarsen on Twitter