Me…A Published Author?

Hi guys! Just wanted to stop by and ask you a question or two. A few people have e-mailed and asked me to write a guest post for them, and one of the questions they asked was if I’ve written a book or have any plans to write one. I’ve given it some serious thought and prayed about it, and I’m seriously considering writing a book about my life.

My question to readers is would you actually take the time to read my book? I wouldn’t bombard you with a medical guide about spina bifida, but would share my insights and stories that I’ve had or experienced during my life.

Also, what kinds of things would you actually like me to include in the book? What makes you stop and say, “Hmm, I wonder what Jason thinks about (fill in the blank), or I wonder what Jason would do if _________?” I want you to actually “help” me write the book. Your feedback may make the book that much more powerful and make people want to learn more about the real Jason Bourne.

Drop a comment in the little box or send me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you!!

Trip of a Lifetime

“I am free. Completely free. I cannot believe it. I did it!” Those were the thoughts running through my mind after I successfully stopped abusing laxatives. I was thrilled, proud, over the moon, but I was also terrified.

And while it was true, I was freer, a part of myself still held on to my eating disorder and my addiction. After all, we shared a close attachment for 14 years.  Although it will take more time to completely let go, the differences between the life with anorexia nervosa and the life in recovery are enormous.

A typical day, a year ago, was dictated by the voice in my head. I had to follow orders or disaster would arise. Today, I am the only one doing the talking and the acting. A year ago, my life was a sea of hopeless desperation. I was carrying around feelings of absolute failure. I was constantly counting calories and agonized over the impending daily workouts.

Today, I am full of energy and enthusiasm. I can focus all of my attention on being creative, and I don’t completely obsess over food anymore. I spend my days having fun and enjoying what I am doing and, with that, I am experiencing a level of freedom I have never known before. And on top of that, I have grown as a human being in ways I could have never imagined. I began to love myself for the very first time. I acknowledged my weaknesses and embraced my flaws. But I also regained trust in my many abilities. Today, life is exciting, and the future looks amazing and full of opportunities.

Achieving this stage was not easy. In fact, it was more difficult than maintaining my eating disorder for so many years. However, it was one of the most rewarding processes of my life. With each day, I grew and transformed a bit more, and I learned many invaluable things about myself. I formed a relationship with myself, instead of deepening the one I had with my eating disorder. I learned that it is OK to concentrate on myself from time to time and that it is important to take care of myself and my body.

A body that looks so different now than it did a year ago. A body that finally looks like a women’s body instead of a child’s. At first, it was not easy coming to terms with the fact that I had to gain weight, and I needed a few months to adjust to my new body. But over time, I accepted it and even began to love my curves. I am a woman now, so why can’t my body show that? It has been more than a year now since I initially committed to recovery, and sometimes I cannot believe how far I have come. However, since I am a human being, I sometimes slip and fall, and so setbacks are inevitable. A recent world trip was a reminder that my base is still a bit fragile.

My husband and I recently went on a trip to Australia and Bali. It was a chance of a lifetime, and I was beyond excited to travel to places I had always dreamed of.

I have always loved to travel. It was one of my earliest passions. My parents made sure that we would see the world from an early age on. We would travel around Europe when I was little, seeing France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany (of course), Spain and so many more countries. Even during those early trips, the scale was always with me. I couldn’t leave it at home. I had to be in control. This created many arguments with my parents, many tears were shed because I had gained weight, many vacations were ruined.

When I was 13 years old, my father arranged for me to be able to stay at a friend’s house in Chicago. This was the first time that I would travel to the U.S., and I was traveling alone. I enjoyed myself a lot, but the voice in my head was constantly berating me for eating too much, for gaining too much weight and for not deserving to have fun.

I would travel around the world even when my illness was the worst. I would enjoy myself and be excited about exploring new places, but I was never truly free.

When I traveled to L.A. last November, everything was different. I did not fear going out to dinner with my friends. I did not feel guilty over drinking a mocha. I was able to just be in the moment. So, I thought that I was ready to go on a longer trip.

The first few days at the other end of the world were fabulous. Arriving in Sydney after being in the air for almost 24 hours was amazing. Being able to walk around in shirts in late November was a welcome change. We settled in fairly quickly, met friends, did some sightseeing and enjoyed each other’s company. I ate regularly, not even feeling overwhelmed by having to choose from a menu.

However, after flying to Melbourne for a couple of days, I started restricting again, dark thoughts arose of not being allowed to eat breakfast or lunch. Then I would binge at dinner. This vicious circle accompanied me during the rest of the trip. I felt bad again, cried often, feeling trapped in my own body again. My thoughts were torturing me. I tried to be brave and not ruin everything for my husband. We were able to have many wonderful moments, and we saw so many incredible sights (the Sydney Opera being one of them), but my dark passenger was always there.

In Bali, I was constantly going back and forth between wanting to eat and wanting to stop. I wanted to enjoy the special delicatessen of Bali, wanted to try to delicious cakes they served during high tea every afternoon. But could I deal with gaining weight? Would I lose control? I decided to try it. It was a chance I would not have again for a while, so I had to use it.

It wasn’t easy. I was restless, hardly able to appreciate the beauty around us. I felt discouraged, wishing I could be totally free. But I pushed through these feelings and tried to make the best of the situation.

We saw a lot of the island, and it was breathtakingly beautiful. My husband and I both fell in love with the people and the peaceful spirit of this little island.

Am I sad that I couldn’t totally let go? Yes. Would I change anything about the trip? Yes. I would not go away from home for such a long time this early on in recovery. I would prepare myself better, would make meal plans and detailed coping plans. However, I am beyond grateful for having learned another lesson, and I am sure that I will be able to implement many of the things I learned on future vacations.

Life is a journey and so is recovery. Learning lessons is part of the deal. Some are larger, some are smaller, but they are all important. The way to health is not always fun, and I have taken many detours, but overall, I am proud of where I am today, and I am excited for the next part of this trip.

About Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is a blogger, podcaster and digital entrepreneur.  After struggling from Anorexia Nervosa for 14 years, she recovered and is now helping others who are trying to do the same. If you would like to engage with Anne-Sophie beyond her blog, she offers 1:1 consulting! Just send her an e-mail.

Podcasting 101

Podcasting was something that literally saved my life. 

Back in 2007, when I was super depressed, spending my time in bed, not being able to sleep, but too weak to get up, I started listening to podcasts. Cliff and Stephanie Ravenscraft, now close friends of mine, helped me regain the belief that people could be good. I started opening up and coming out of my isolation again. 

Over the years, I have found many friends through podcasts, friends who have been there for me throughout the years, helping me fight my illness and supporting me in ways I could have never dreamed of. 

I had been playing around with the idea of having my own podcast for a while. But I was too self-conscious and had many doubts. What would I say? Would anybody even listen? Is my English good enough? 

When I was at the treatment facility last year, I decided that learning how to podcast would be a good way to distract my thoughts and to spend all of my free time between therapy sessions. 

So, I participated in one of Cliff’s “Podcasting A to Z classes.” However, it took me another couple of months and a phone call with Cliff to take action and just get the first episode of My Intercontinental Life out there. After this episode, I was hooked. 

I started three other podcasts in a short amount of time: Fighting Anorexia, Raus aus der Magersucht and The West Wing Podcast. 

Even though I haven’t been recording for more than six months, I am noticing how much better I am getting every single time. It is a fun way of sharing my life, the lessons I have learned, the struggles that I am facing in recovery with others. By doing the Fighting Anorexia podcast, I have found yet another way of helping those who are fighting against this disease and feel completely alone. While My Intercontinental Life is simply my audio journal that takes no preparation time, the Fighting Anorexia podcast takes a lot of work. 

Depending on the subject that I choose to talk about, I will research and think of personal stories that can underline what I am suggesting. I usually need four to five hours to prepare one podcast episode. But, just like blogging, I enjoy it tremendously. 

At the beginning, I used my iPhone and an app called iTalk to record the audio. After a while I invested in a mixer, audio recorder and a microphone. The sound quality has improved a lot, and I feel much more professional. 

A fantastic resource for learning how to podcast is the free Podcasting 101 tutorial that Cliff Ravenscraft created. If you need additional help, feel free to ask me for 1:1 training

About Anne Sophie Reinhardt

Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is a blogger, podcaster and digital entrepreneur.  After struggling from anorexia nervosa for 14 years, she recovered and is now helping others who are trying to do the same. If you would like to engage with Anne-Sophie beyond her blog, she offers 1:1 consulting! Just send her an e-mail.

Author’s Roundtable: Lorhainne Eckhart

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Becoming a writer has been dream in the back of my mind since I was young, but I never pursued writing until after my daughter was born. Eight years ago was the busiest time in my life with three young children, one of them being a special-needs child, but believe it or not this was when my focus became clear on what was really important—and one is to turn your dreams to reality.

Although I’d always wanted to write, it was not something I shared, and it wasn’t until I received an offer for publication for my first novel that I shared it with my family and friends. In 2009, my first novel, “The Captain’s Lady,” was published.

What books or stories have you written?

I’ve written three full-length novels and one young adult historical. Two of my novels are contemporary romances, and one is a romantic suspense filled with an element of mystery, the first of a series.

The young adult historical, “A Father’s Love,” is fully illustrated by Vancouver Island artist Sherrill Welz for all those young readers who love a short story filled with adventure, mystery and suspense.

My contemporary romances are “The Captain’s Lady” and “The Forgotten Child.” “The Forgotten Child” is my newest release, a western romance surrounding a man betrayed by the wife who abandoned him and his autistic son, and the woman who loves them now. Reviews have been exceptional, so have the steady rise in sales.

My romantic suspense, “The Choice,” is the first book in “Walk the Right Road” series, and the sequel “Lost and Found” is scheduled to be released next month. 

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Persistence! Don’t give up, which has actually become part of my vocabulary, and if something isn’t working out the way you’re approaching it, re-evaluate and come at it in a different direction. This business is filled with criticism, so you must develop a thick skin, tune out all ill-wishers and align yourself with positive people who are in this business to succeed in a positive way to help others.

One of the most important lessons is to overcome procrastination and learn that in order to have a great novel you’ll need to rewrite your story so many times you’ll become sick of seeing it. Seek out professionals. Hire them to edit your work and really listen to the feedback they give you to help improve your novel—you’re writing.

Become an expert in your industry. What I mean by that is it’s essential to study your market, know what’s going on in the industry and remember don’t blindly sign on with a publisher if it’s not in your best interest. Recently technology has become available allowing authors to take charge of their own career. I’m both self-published and traditionally. But even though I’m self-published, I still hire a professional editor and cover artist to ensure my novel and its presentation is the finest it can be.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

You need to like your own company in order to write because it’s an isolated occupation. If you truly want to write, then write and don’t let anything stand in your way. Be persistent and make time every day to write.

It’s important as well if you decide to self-publish that you hire a professional editor and book cover designer. You want to put your best foot forward. Presentation is everything, and the criticism directed at self-published authors is much harsher than traditionally published.

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Absolutely. It’s the opportunity to tell your story and get it in front of a great number of people to read. I believe we all have a message in our stories–knowledge to share with others.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

I like to be able share some of what I’ve learned in life with others and found the written word to be quite a powerful tool. Writing helps to keep me in balance and in the present so whatever life deals my way I’m dealing with in a more grounded, calm manner.

Keep up with Lorhainne

Blogs and website

Buy Lorhainne’s books

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Author’s Roundtable: Ann Swann

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I’ve been writing since I was a teen, but I didn’t publish anything until college. I put off going to college until I was in my late 20s. Then, I enrolled in every creative writing course I could find. Until that point, I’d been sending out short fiction of the basement variety; you know, the kind that should really remain down in that trunk in the basement? But after a few excellent instructors, I began to see the error of my ways.

What books or stories have you written?

My first book was just published in December by Cool Well Press. “The Phantom Pilot” is a YA novella about a boy who witnesses a small plane crash behind his house. When the phantom pilot begins to haunt him, he enlists the aid of his pal, Stevie. He thinks she is brave because he saw her entering the town’s legendary haunted house, alone! I’ve also just signed the contract to publish the second book in the “Phantom” series: “The Phantom Student.” It will be out around Halloween. In addition, I’ve written three short stories for Cool Well. “The Soul Gardener” will be published in their anthology “Timeless.” It is coming out next month around Valentine’s Day. “Skeleton Rock” and “The Blister Bear” are stories that will be in “Campfire Tales.” That anthology will be published later this year, around September I believe.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

I think the hardest thing I’ve had to overcome is self-doubt. When you have to work a full-time job and be a mommy and a wife, it’s really difficult to stand up and say, “Hey, I’m a writer. I’m going to go in this room and close the door, and I won’t be seen again until I’ve written!” Haha. That really is the hard part. Accepting that you must put writing first if you’re going to succeed.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Believe in yourself, but listen to the experts!

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Writing is a lifesaver. When something is wrong in my life, I have to write about it. I “write it out” so to speak.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

Haha! I guess I sort of answered this one already. Yes, I’ve had to deal with trauma and death, first my estranged dad then, more recently, my mom. Writing has been my confidant; it goes right along with the old adage about books being our best friends. Well, they were my best friends anyway.

About Ann Swann

Ann currently works part-time as a researcher for an online journal “The Courthouse News Service.” She writes full-time. Married for many years to her handsome hubby, Dude, they live in dusty west Texas, and share the care and feeding of two rescue dogs and a rescue cat. Their children and grandchildren live only a short distance away which makes it great for drop-in visits and trips to Six Flags and Disneyland. In previous incarnations, through the years, Ann has been a waitress, a 911 dispatcher, an elementary school teacher and a radio station secretary. She blogs at and She would love to connect on Twitter. “The Phantom Pilot” is available at Amazon.

Author’s Roundtable: Joanna Lee Doster

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Writing was always an essential part of my professional careers, as a teacher of deaf children, television executive and interior designer, but it wasn’t until the mid-90s that I began to get formal writing assignments. I started interviewing and writing profiles about Hollywood directors, producers and athletes for a major film and television magazine, and that got me hooked.

What book or books have you written?

I like to write about things I’m passionate about. I always had a fascination with Hollywood and interior design. In the late 90s, a few years after receiving my interior design degree, I conceived my first book, “Celebrity Bedroom Retreats” (Rockport Publishers, 2002), after a dream I had about what famous peoples’ inner sanctums look like. Do their bedrooms truly reflect their personalities and tastes? What did Einstein’s bedroom look like or Princess Diana’s? What books were they reading? What collections or art work did they have? My book took off from there, and although I didn’t design the celebrities’ bedrooms, I interviewed them and their designers and wrote all about it, and my book became a big hit.

A desire to write epic stories and my love of mysteries switched me from writing non-fiction to fiction.

I had a family of interesting characters dancing around in my head, and I started to write about them. About the same time my husband began to take me to car races, and I soon became enamored with stock car racing and monster truck shows. Thus, my book “Maximum Speed: Pushing The Limit” was born. It’s about an amazing stock car racing family caught up in a web of danger. I have become a stock car racing fanatic. I love the discipline, determination, endurance and focus that these racers have. It’s not just driving around blindly; it takes Herculean strength and extreme tenacity as I mentioned before. Those characteristics also helped me mold my hero racer, Sean Devlin, and show what these racers are made of. I’m working on the second “Maximum Speed” book now.

You mentioned earlier that you taught deaf students and worked with celebrities. Did they inspire your writing? In what ways?

I taught brain-damaged, multiply handicapped deaf children: schizophrenic, multiple sclerosis, autistic, learning-impaired deaf children. It was very difficult emotionally for me, being in my early 20s, dealing with 12 students who had such severe problems and were deprived in so many other ways. I was all by myself in the classroom all day. I had to learn to use my ingenuity. Helen Keller said her deafness was worse than her blindness. After all, when you are born deaf you don’t develop an inner language.
Yes, my experience did help me to create my young racing hero, Sean Devlin, who develops a debilitating stutter as a child and had to endure terrible things. He is truly a hero when he overcomes his stutter for the most part and matures in so many ways. The main theme of “Maximum Speed: Pushing The Limit” is people who overcome adversity are heroes in their own right, without winning any trophies.
What did the deaf students teach you about life in general?
They taught me that some people are born fighters while others are not. The schools I taught in were just for the deaf. They were segregated from the regular school staff.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

The hardest thing was finding a traditional publisher to do a four-color book when I was shopping my first book “Celebrity Bedroom Retreats” around. I finally did get one, and they produced a gorgeous book, but it was a difficult journey. I had to get the top celebrities that the publisher approved of and wanted in order to ensure that my book would be a financial success.

Using an indie publisher, iUniverse, for my fiction novel “Maximum Speed: Pushing The Limit” has been a positive and enlightening experience. I received a lot of wonderful support.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

I keep editing myself along the way instead of just writing to the end and then editing it. My advice is just let your story flow and then go back to edit. Rewrites are inevitable.

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

The benefit of writing is that there are a lot of excellent writers, indies included of course, who have great stories to tell and who produce terrific books.

Jackie Onassis once said something like, “If you can be transported to another place and learn something new, then the book was a good one.” I was brought up in a household that had its own library. My father, a history professor, revered books and taught us to do the same.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

I believe any art form is cathartic and personal to each person. It’s mind boggling to me that there are so many wonderful authors out there who, despite all kinds of adversities, still manage to write good books.

About Joanna Lee Doster

Joanna Lee Doster is a writer and author of the recently published book “Maximum Speed: Pushing The Limit.” Her previously published work includes “Celebrity Bedroom Retreats” and a series of nationally syndicated celebrity profiles that also feature legendary sports figures. She has held executive positions in cable television, communications and the entertainment industry. She and her husband live in New York.

Keep up with Joanna

Termite Control at Home

Pest control can be a time-consuming and costly task, especially if you don’t first have a clear understanding of your situation. Termite infestations are among the most costly.  That’s because they can be inside your home for years without detection, all the while eating through the foundation and causing thousands of dollars of damage. Don’t be alarmed. There are steps you can take to safeguard your home from these pests and even fight them if you do encounter them. Do it yourself termite control doesn’t have to be as scary as you think as long as you are prepared. Preparation involves both preventative matters as well as assault matters.

First, these pests are attracted to wood. Be sure to keep your firewood away from your home. You may also want to replace your mulch with stone, treated wood or another product not made from trees. Or you can simply not mulch in close proximity to the home. Make it a habit of inspecting the wood and cardboard you bring into your home. 

You need to know what to look for when termites are a concern of yours. When termites are around, you’ll notice tubes made of mud. These are used for shelter during their trek from their home to yours.  Another tell-tale sign is the appearance of tiny holes in your drywall where termites have burrowed. 

If you do find yourself with an infestation, you can treat your wood. Termiticides will protect your wood from initial or further termite damage. This pesticide can be applied through injection or sprayed on as a liquid or foam. When deciding the best product or method to use, consider that the simpler to use topical sprays only protect what they cover and therefore don’t usually get to termites that are within the wood.

An alternative to spraying your home or injecting your foundation and furniture is to use termite bait. Baits are the simplest form of do it yourself termite control. These prepackaged systems simply have to be placed and the rest is up to the termite. Foragers will find the bait (usually a toxic piece of paper or cardboard), consume it and carry the slow-acting poison to its colony infecting others. This is often a preferred method because of its reach, but note that termite bait does not provide a repellent agent and therefore does not give the long-term results that a termiticide does.

Whatever method you choose to use, be sure to read all labels for directions and safe use.

About Heather Ashton

Heather Ashton is a home-improvement enthusiast from Atlanta, Ga. She loves to write about gardening, insects, photography, interior design and, of course, food! She has published many articles online with the goal of educating people more about different ways to improve their homes, without spending a lot of money. Check Heather out on Twitter and

Stroke’s New Indicator

I’ve had several surgeries and spent a LOT of time in the hospital during my life because of my spina bifida, and in 1994 after I got back home after back surgery, I had a stroke. I don’t really remember much that happened, just what my parents have told me about the stroke. They said I called my aunt, who was staying with us at the time to help mom and dad take care of me, to come help me get a drink of water in the middle of the night. They said when they came to check on me the next morning, my teeth were clenched, and I was staring straight up at the ceiling with my eyes wide open. My parents called 9-1-1, and an ambulance came and took me to Egleston Hospital, now Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, about an hour away. Because of my disability, the paramedics carried me to Atlanta in an ambulance that was a lot bigger and was basically an emergency room on wheels. I don’t remember anything about that night, the ride down or the next few days afterward, but my dad told me the other day that a guy he worked with back then was driving north on Interstate 75 and saw an ambulance headed south hauling ass. Apparently he passed the ambulance I was riding in while I was fighting for my life.

I’ve fully recovered from the stroke, but it left me partially paralyzed on the left side of my body. My left eye stays closed a little more than my right eye, but it’s such a small difference my friends and family can’t tell a difference. They just see a guy who’s overcome so much during my life, who has achieved some of my biggest dreams and goals, and never takes anything for granted because you never know when today might be the last day of our lives.

I hadn’t really researched strokes or given much thought to mine until I received this from a co-worker a couple weeks ago. This really makes you think and now I’ll know what signs to look for if a loved one or co-worker is having a stroke. I hope you’ll take the time to read this and never take anything for granted. The next person who has a stroke could be someone you work with, your husband, wife, brother, sister, mother, father, son or daughter. It could even be YOU.

I never realized you could tell if someone is having a stroke by the appearance of blood clots. Now they have a fourth indicator: the tongue. 

Stroke: Remember the first three letters: S, T and R

How to identify a stroke

During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and fell – she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics). She said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes.

They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane enjoyed herself the rest of the evening.

Jane’s husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital – (Jane passed away at 6 p.m.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don’t die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.

Take a minute, read this

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within three hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke…totally. He said the trick was recognizing a stroke, diagnosing a stroke and getting the patient medical attention within three hours, which is tough.

Recognizing a stroke

Thank God for the sense to remember the three steps: S.T.R.

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S: Ask the individual to smile.

T: Ask the person to talk and say a simple sentence, coherently (i.e. It is sunny out today.).

R: Ask him or her to raise both arms.

If he or she has trouble with any one of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

New sign of a stroke: stick out your tongue

Note: Another “sign” of a stroke is to ask the person to stick out his/her tongue. If the tongue is “crooked,” if it goes to one side or the other, it is also an indication of a stroke.

Editor’s note: The next time a friend or family member sticks their tongue out at you, they may not be doing it as a joke. There maybe something much more serious happening. Get informed, save a life!!!

Blogger’s Roundtable: Nannette Richford

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I have been writing professionally for five years. Although I have always dreamed of writing, life seemed to have other ideas. After finishing college, I chose to stay home and with my children. Once they were both in school, I went “back to work.” I started as an educational technician working with children with special needs, but I soon discovered I wanted more. I completed my teaching degree and took my first job as a special-education teacher. Although I loved the job and found the work both challenging and rewarding, my district soon faced budgetary issues and closed the school I worked in. I moved on to teaching eighth grade language arts and social studies and eventually taught Pre-K.

My district again faced financial issues and eliminated the Pre-K program. By this time, I had discovered online writing and after a period of unemployment, I decided to pursue writing full time. I quickly found that the skills and knowledge I had gained as a teacher – along with my other personal interests – served me well for content writing. Educational and instructional writing allowed me to touch the lives of a broad range of people while drawing on my experiences as a teacher and mother.

What books or stories have you written?

My work has been published on National Geographic Online, Hidden Valley, Walden College’s ConnectED Program, Garden Guides and various other sites across the Internet. I am a featured garden contributor for Yahoo! Voices and a new age examiner for I provide content for private clients seeking articles for their websites, newsletters and business communications.

I also maintain two personal blogs. In the Direction of Dreams is a collection of inspirational quotes with reflections and expressions of gratitude. The focus of the blog is setting and reaching goals by maintaining a positive attitude and employing the principles of the Law of Attraction.

In Due Time focuses on the paranormal and contains a collection of stories and personal reactions to paranormal events. It also includes reviews and reactions to popular paranormal shows seen on television or in the movies. Although the subject may seem a bit eerie, the blog takes a light-hearted approach to the field.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as an online writer?

The perception that online writing isn’t real writing creates an obstacle for many new writers. It, of course, simply is not true – but the stigma remains. Overcoming that hurdle takes time, patience, and a lot of explaining to friends and family. Because we spend our days on the Internet – working, researching, and seeking out new writing opportunities – others often perceive it as “playing on the Internet” and devalue what we do.

Breaking into the market is nearly impossible without working for a content mill, which can lead to the misconception that our work is slipshod and unprofessional. Because some writing sites do not monitor or control quality of the submissions to their site, our work may appear alongside work that is unprofessional and filled with both grammatical and factual errors.

Because of these misconceptions  – combined with the fact that many new writers are willing to work for low wages to get their foot in the door – many who seek out writers for online content expect to purchase quality articles for a dollar or two.

Finding lucrative work takes time and commitment, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Once established as an online writer, the quality of your work speaks for itself and serves as a convenient portfolio for new clients.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a new online writer?

Online writing requires dedication, organization and hard work – just like any other field of writing. There is no quick way to the top – but there are some things a new online writer can do to improve his chances of success.

  • Provide quality work every time. Resist the urge to think it really doesn’t matter because the pay is low or you are just writing it for fun. Once your work is published with your byline, it serves as a reflection of your ability and professionalism. Make sure everything you write reflects you in a positive light.
  • Write for a variety of sites. There is nothing wrong with writing for what Google now terms a content mill – as long as you produce your best work. However, with the changing face of the Internet, sites appear and disappear without warning. Relying on one site for your livelihood is dangerous business.
  • Set a schedule. It may be tempting to think that because you are a freelancer that its okay to simply write when you feel like it and take time off when you don’t. If you depend on income from your writing, setting a schedule keeps you on track and motivated. Treat freelance writing like a job – not a hobby.
  • Find your niche. Becoming a generalist who can write on any topic may seem like a good idea, but few of us can write with passion on topics that don’t interest us. Think about what you know and what you enjoy and pursue writing opportunities in those areas.
  • Start a blog. Blogs allow you to write with passion about the things that are important to you. Update often, use an authentic voice and don’t worry too much about writing conventions. Good grammar and spelling are always desired, but blogs aren’t formal writing. Keep your blog light and engaging.

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Being a freelance writer allows me to develop my own schedule and work when I am most productive. For that reason, I would say that being a writer has a positive impact on my daily life. The image of the inspired writer pounding away on the keys in front of the flickering fire, as pearls of wisdom roll silently across the page has been lost on me. Perhaps it is because I write nonfiction. Online writing does not provide me with the means of self-expression – but it does allow me to share what I have learned and what I know with those who seek information. It also allows me the time to pursue other writing interests – like my blogs – that do add meaning to my life.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

My blog In the Direction of Dreams reminds me of what is important in life and keeps me motivated. Seeking out inspiring and motivating quotes and sharing my thoughts with the world ignites the desire to always do what is right – not what is popular. My hope is that sharing my personal expressions of gratitude will inspire others to do so too, and in turn enrich their lives. In that respect, yes, my writing has made me a better person.

Has my online writing made a better person? Perhaps. Through it, I have met some incredible people with remarkable life stories. I have touched the lives of millions of readers whose faces I will never know. I like to believe that I have enriched their lives – if only for a moment – by teaching them something they needed to know. Sometimes that may be how to plant vegetables that provide food for the family, other times it might be to look at the world from another point of view. If that makes me a better person, then yes, online writing has made me a better person, too.
About Nannette Richford

Nannette Richford is a freelance writer who lives in the small rural community of Springfield, Maine where she enjoys spending time with her husband and two amazing children. As an avid gardener, Richford enjoys writing about gardening so others may benefit from her experience.

Her background as a special-education teacher – and later a classroom teacher – has equipped her well for writing instructional material designed to inform and educate.

When not writing or gardening, Richford can be found in the backyard “watching the garden grow” and admiring the beauty of nature.

Keep up with Nannette

Author’s Roundtable: Carolyn Arnold

How long have you been writing? Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I have been writing faithfully for the past four and half years. As a teenager I used to write romance novellas, and insisted family and friends read everything. When they wouldn’t read it, I’d read it to them. You could say I was persistent.

However, writing disappeared from my life for approximately 13 years. Life changed significantly during this time. I did a lot of growing up, got married and moved three hours across the country. During this time, I always thought it would have been quite an accomplishment to complete a full-length novel, but it was nothing more than a thought.

Everything changed for me four and half years ago. Things weren’t going well at the day job; in fact, the entire department faced a layoff. Needless to say, none of us were very motivated. A co-worker emailed me towards the end of one work day and said “tell me a story”—randomly, out of the blue. Writing wasn’t something I ever talked about during these years. Regardless, I complied, typed up a few paragraphs and fired them back to her. She loved them and requested more. I kept writing and sending back the emails expanding on the storyline pulling from nothing but imagination. She told me that I needed to finish this. It turned out that’s all the encouragement I needed. This became the birthing point for my first full-length novel, “Life Sentence,” a romantic suspense.

What books or stories have you written?

To date, I have completed seven full-length novels. Most of these belong in the mystery, thriller and suspense genres, with the exception of my first book. I have published three novels—two police procedurals and one thriller—at the point of this interview.

My police procedurals, “Ties That Bind” and “Justified,” which surround major crimes detective Madison Knight have proven to be best-sellers for Amazon Kindle. For this I am extremely thankful to my readers.

I was also honored to find out my thriller, “Eleven,” was noted as a special recommendation read on the Miami Books Examiner’s “Top 12 Fiction Books of 2011” list.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Growing a thicker skin and not letting what one person’s opinion is to become the majority. It’s very important for an author to tune out the inherent internal critic. For authors attempting to get published the traditional way, most will find rejections are more abundant than requests for additional material. An author determined to get their work in the hands of their readers will not let anything deter them from doing so. Remember above when I mentioned I’d read my work to those who wouldn’t take the time to read it themselves? Above all else, an author needs to be persistent.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Be true to yourself and your work. Make yourself write on the days you don’t even feel like it. Sometimes those moments, where you push yourself, can prove be the most productive.

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Most definitely. Writing is, if nothing else, therapeutic. It allows one to release the daily stress and cares from their thinking process because they become preoccupied with something else. Writing gives an author an outlet to deal with emotions they may be experiencing in real life. Writing has a way of making an author make sense of happenings around them. Let me explain.

In life, people do things to us or others we may not understand, however, by analyzing the behavior—the motivators—we’re able to align perspective. In my opinion writing helps authors become empathic of others. As authors we have to see things from every standpoint, and this cannot help but transfer to real life.

Has writing made you a better person? Was there a point in your life where writing helped you deal with something, a death or a problem relationship perhaps?

This question is excellent and expands on what I touched on in my answer to the previous question. As noted, writing is therapeutic. If an author utilizes personal experiences and tragedies, this serves to enrich their work. The characters become relatable, and the situations become believable. 

As for the personal application of this question, I would say writing helps take me from stress I experience in my daily life. Unfortunately, my relationship is strained with the majority of my family at this point in time. It’s heartbreaking but there really doesn’t seem to be any resolution. Writing affords me the means of “escape” into a world of my creation.  When I finish a writing session, I am able to better deal with my real-life situation.

Keep up with Carolyn

The busy life of Carolyn Arnold

Currently she works full-time in Accounts Receivable for a mid-sized company in southwestern Ontario. She balances her “free time” by marketing her books, social networking, writing, editing, and reading and supporting her fellow authors. Carolyn also is the founder of Celebrating Authors, a site dedicated to bringing readers and authors together. She showcases authors through interviews, Amazon snapshots and a weekly feature called “The Independent Voice.” Needless to say this type of support takes up much of her time, but she believes in helping her fellow authors.

Also married nearly 16 years to her best friend, she enjoys relaxing with a glass of red wine and a good movie. Although not a mother to the human variety she is a “furry baby momma” to two beagles—Max and Chelsea.

Her goals moving forward are to continue bringing quality books to her readers. At least two more of her novels will be released in 2012.