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If you’ve dreamed of writing a book, or you’re someone who loves to read, Linda Sivertsen’s at the top of the list of people you need to know. Often referred to as the “Book Mama,” a literary midwife and matchmaker between authors and agents, Linda herself is an author, ghostwriter, and coauthor of eleven books, including two, New York Times bestsellers. In addition to mentoring thousands of writers worldwide, Linda is a TedTalk alumnus, the host of the top-rated Beautiful Writers Podcast, plus she has a writing retreat in Carmel, and a Rolodex most writers would walk across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope just to see.

Meet my amazing friend, Linda Sivertsen, who has the energy of ten people and contagious can-do determination.

Linda Sivertsen’s new book, Beautiful Writers: A Journey of Big Dreams and Messy Manuscripts–with Tricks of the Trade from Bestselling Authors, is part memoir and part advice book from many of the living authors you’d like to meet, and they’re all Linda’s friends… with good reason. As Terry McMillan, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist of Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and eight other bestsellers said, Linda’s “stories are cinematic, hilarious, heartfelt, and pitch-perfect.”

BRENDA: When I think of you, I think of a woman who’s surrounded by magic and who perseveres no matter what. How would you describe yourself?

LINDA: I’m a relentlessly optimistic doomsday believer who has to focus on creating beauty for myself and others, or I get nervous.

BRENDA: LOL! No soap operas in the afternoon for you.

LINDA: No soap operas for me. I have too many fearful visions in my head about the world that I mostly watch sweet programming, especially before bed. LOL! Now I sound super paranoid.

BRENDA: No. You work hard to preserve the land and the environment so I get that. You were even going to pass on a publishing contract unless the publisher printed your prior book, Generation Green on recycled paper and your new book, Beautiful Writers on FSC sustainable paper. You’re a woman who acts on her convictions.

One of the threads that runs through Beautiful Writers is that if we’re not good at giving ourselves permission to follow our dreams, we need to go out and get it from someone else. I’m wondering, who gave you permission?

LINDA: The first people were my parents who always told me I could do anything I wanted. I believed them when I was very young, but when I got into school and compared myself to the really book-smart kids, I didn’t feel like I was smart enough. I had yet to learn the value of my intuition, my street smarts, and my emotional IQ. It took paying people, driving across town, and looking for advice worthy of my Benjamins to trust in my vision. One of the people I went to for permission was Guru Singh in Los Angeles. Many famous people claim he was a significant part of why they’re successful. He’s one of the best cheerleaders on the planet.

When he told me I was supposed to be a writer remembered for 150 years after my death, his vision mirrored the longings of my heart. It was absurd, really, but he was so sure. When I had a dream a couple of days later that showed me exactly how to do it—book titles, format, and text scrolling like a news ticker tape—I threw myself into his vision and mine from the dream.

Then there was Drew Lawrence, a Vedic astrologer who said mine was one of the most powerful charts he’d ever seen, which blew my mind. I was “supposed” to be doing something in the arts related to writing and lots of people. You can have all the self-confidence issues in the world, but if people you respect look at you with enough certainty, it makes it easier to believe in the desires you have that maybe you’re afraid of.

BRENDA: Wasn’t Thomas One Wolf one of your gurus?

LINDA: Oh, yes!

BRENDA: He said something I love.

“Getting what you want won’t make you happy. What will make you happy is becoming who you need to be.”

That’s so insightful, but most of us don’t follow the path that takes us there. In Beautiful Writers, you help readers find the way. Your book is full of such great advice, and the people you interview are the biggest names in the literary world.

LINDA: Thank you. As far as Thomas One Wolf, he was this bigger-than-life figure for me. When I met him, he lived in a cabin off the grid and was happy with the most spartan existence. A can of beans for lunch. And yet, he had these really big visions about what people and humanity, in general, were capable of, and he spoke about the environment and sustainability in a way that mirrored how I was raised. And it had that added ancestral vision to it. He was Suquamish but was raised on the Navajo big res, and I trusted him. We spoke a similar heart language.

Guru Singh’s vision for my life was vast and grandiose, and Drew Lawrence’s vision felt prophetic and destined, while Thomas’s simple desire for me to walk one foot at a time in good made me feel like all would be well. It was imperative to him that I be grounded and that I never forget the Mother and the Grand Father. Also, he was constantly reminding me to stay on the middle path. He called it haz-ho: no highs or lows. Refrain from buying into your great reviews, and don’t buy into your bad ones. Stay in the middle ground and you’ll live a happy life, and I think that’s good advice.

BRENDA: For someone who wants to write a book, but hasn’t started, what advice would you give them?

LINDA: Getting it on the calendar is the most important thing. It’s easy to have a dream to do something, but the years fly by. We’re all so busy. Time is a vacuum. It always fills up, and unless you put yourself on the schedule, it’s too hard to finish anything. I would say, even if it’s 15 minutes a day, five days a week, get moving. Writers need to write, not talk about writing. I knew instinctively that once I got up, I’d be doing chores, walking dogs, cleaning horse stalls, filling that vacuum with anything and everything—even vacuuming! I’d always be caring for my kid, my husband, and our countless dogs, so I was relentless about giving myself “me time” in my bed office. Before I gave it to anybody else, I gave it to my writing.

BRENDA: You have to not only put it on your calendar, but also be stingy with your time.

Brenda Coffee and Linda Sivertsen at one of Linda’s writing retreats in Carmel, California, 2021

LINDA: You do, and people don’t love it. Writing is such a solitary endeavor and everyone else has ideas about what you should do with your time.

BRENDA: Being a writer is almost like having an affair. Like having a lover, but it’s one your spouse can’t say, “I’m better looking than he or she is, or I love you more.” They don’t know how to fight it.

LINDA: That’s exactly right! It can be super challenging. I still give myself time first. I am a better parent. I’m a better partner, a better friend. My heart is full, and I’m more present with the people I love. Ann Patchett talks about that in my book. She has a funny story about when she has a full day to write, and her husband comes home from work—he’s a doctor—she can’t wait to make him dinner and have a wonderful evening, talking and connecting. But she says that when she’s not writing, she’s a bitch! Ha.

BRENDA: I read that!

LINDA: She resents him for taking her away from her writing. You have to know who you are. You have to know the best way in which you work and find a way to figure out how to make your heart happy so you can give more to the people you love when it’s time for them.

BRENDA: You give such great advice in this book.

It’s like having a writer’s support group except they’re the biggest names in the literary world.

LINDA: Oh, that’s a great quote!

BRENDA: I love that I can open Beautiful Writers to a random page and find a nugget of information and encouragement, and it’s always something I need.

LINDA: Thank you! Well said. I would love to put that as a quote from you on my website. That’s exactly what it is—a writer’s support group.

BRENDA: The same thing goes for the Beautiful Writers Podcast you launched. You interview the bestselling authors in the world. I’m so blown away that in 2015, it debuted as number six on iTunes, and it’s been there on Apple’s Top Book Podcast almost every day since then.

LINDA: It’s my total joy to host the show. Every episode takes me 40 or 50 hours because I read all the books and I produce the show. I slowed down while finishing my book and promoting it.

BRENDA: I know, and I miss them.

LINDA: Me too! I’m excited to have three in the can right now. Just yesterday, I was thinking I love this show more than anything I’ve ever done, so thank you for that acknowledgment. I love putting my energy back there.

BRENDA: You won’t remember this, but you and I were on the phone the night before the finished, edited version of your book was due at your publisher. You’d had some significant problems and wondered “What the flip do I do now?” but when we hung up, I knew you would fix it because that’s what you do. I think a lot of people assume, “You wrote a book, it’s doing well, you have money coming in, and you’ve got it made with all of your future books,” but that night was proof it never gets any easier, does it?

LINDA: No, it doesn’t. I think what most people assume about bestselling authors is that we have some kind of magical knowledge about how to make things easy and we just crank it out, but that’s not the case. Rosie Walsh tells the story in Beautiful Writers about how she rewrote pieces of her New York Times bestseller, Ghosted, over and over. Three different times she dropped forty thousand words. Mary Karr threw out 120 thousand words of her bestseller, Lit. I think it was Ann Pachett’s book, The Dutch House (nominated for a Pulitzer), that she told me sent her back to the drawing board when the first version “didn’t work.” That’s so common. Laura Munson, our mutual friend, told me that a month before Willa’s Grove was due to her publisher, she decided to cut a hundred pages and rewrite them. That’s more the norm than the exception.

BRENDA: That makes me feel better because when I told Beth (my agent) I was going to rewrite the beginning of my memoir, she said, “But I love it the way it is!” I went on to cut twenty-four thousand words, including the first chapter, which everyone loved. When Laura read the new manuscript, she called and said, “You’re not using even one sentence from that chapter in your rewrite? When I said, no, she came back with “Woah! Way to go to kill your darlings!”

LINDA: But that’s good. If it doesn’t serve the book in a crucial way, it probably was a good decision to let it go.

BRENDA: Oh! One more thing. Congratulations on winning an International Book Award for Beautiful Writers.

LINDA: Oh, thank you! What a lovely wink from the writing gods that maybe, just maybe, all those years weren’t in vain.

BRENDA: I know how crazy busy you are, so thanks for talking with me today.

LINDA: I always love talking to you. You put out such beautiful work on your blog. I’m 100 percent honored you’d want to have me on, so thank YOU!

BRENDA: I love you, sweet friend.

LINDA: I love you more. I look forward to celebrating your book sale… soon!


  • Carol S. August 12, 2023 at 6:19 am

    Terrific interview. I’m more a reader than a writer, but enjoyed some behind the scenes scoop. Her latest book sounds interesting. On my list. What an inspiring woman with an important message. Meet your own needs and you’ll be better a better person for others.

    • Linda J Sivertsen August 13, 2023 at 1:45 am

      Thanks, Carol! My favorite books are always the ones with the backstage, insider’s view that reveals the magic and mayhem in the creation of one’s dreams. xo

  • Payden August 12, 2023 at 7:52 am

    I’ve taken some writing classes and have started a novel but am not sure I’m good enough to keep going. Think I’m a candidate for Linda’s book. Thanks Brenda

    • Linda J Sivertsen August 13, 2023 at 1:47 am

      Trust your ache, Brenda! If you have the ache, you have what it takes. I believe that 100% and have seen this truth more times than I can count. x

  • Joan Tamburini August 12, 2023 at 8:17 am

    Thanks so much for this spark of inspiration! Just what I needed to read and think about today! Can’t wait to read your memoir.

    • 1010ParkPlace August 13, 2023 at 11:40 am

      In an ideal world, sparks of inspiration would come like meteor showers from the Pleiades. I’m eager for you to read my book as well. Thank you, Joan! Brenda

  • Virginia August 12, 2023 at 8:19 am

    I do love to read but my writing abilities consist of a grocery list and a few thank you notes, but I’m looking forward to your memoir Brenda. Something tells me it will be totally unexpected.

    • 1010ParkPlace August 13, 2023 at 11:44 am

      Those who read books are important because authors write them for you to read. And yes, I think my memoir will surprise and shock you… in a good way, I hope. Thank you, Virginia.

  • Jeannie August 12, 2023 at 10:07 am

    I can’t imagine writing a book. The imagination and talent required but I adore all of you who do.,Best of luck to you and Linda with your books.

    • 1010ParkPlace August 13, 2023 at 11:24 pm

      Thank you, Jeannie. I think writing a book is more commitment and hard work than anything else. Then there’s the enormous challenge of securing an agent who finds a publisher for you. Writing the book is just the first of many hoops you have to jump through, and I’ve shortened everything in between by orders of magnitude. LOL! I appreciate you for reading and leaving a comment.

  • Stacia August 12, 2023 at 11:41 am

    This post could not have come at a better time for me personally. At 53 years-old, and with a long career as a mental health counselor, I have been drawn to writing a book. I have started and stopped several times and whenever I begin feeling self-doubt creep in, a little “message” like this post will pop up in my orbit. I just ordered Linda’s book (one for me, one for a friend) and cannot wait to read it this week for inspiration! Thank you once again for a relatable and informative post. I look forward to them every month! Stacia

    • Linda J Sivertsen August 13, 2023 at 1:49 am

      Stacia! What a sweet note. I hope you and your friend love the storyline and all the madcap things I reveal about my path and my friends on our journey. Fun! Hugs to you. x

    • Linda J Sivertsen August 13, 2023 at 1:54 am

      Oh, this makes me so happy, Stacia! Bless you, for the work you do. I love the idea of you and your friend reading Beautiful Writers together. I hope the stories I reveal about my madcap path to authorship (and wild friendship tales) inspire and make you laugh, too! #WriteOn

  • Maisie August 12, 2023 at 9:36 pm

    Brenda, Like Stacia, I started a book but stopped when selfdoubt got the best of me. I think that people who write book after book have a gift I don’t have. I will but Linda’s book but other than that where do I start?

    • 1010ParkPlace August 13, 2023 at 12:05 pm

      Maisie, I agree some people are better writers than others, but many of the bestselling, most profound books aren’t crafted by someone who has a beautiful way with words. They’re written by people who do the hard work. As Linda said, you put it on the calendar and make time to write everyday. I’m not going to kid you. It’s not easy, but stick with it. Writing is a discipline, a muscle, and like going to the gym to workout, the more you do it, the stronger it becomes. My friend, Laura Munson, taught me that I needed “a map,” so I would know where my story was going. Of course stories and characters have a mind of their own, but in the beginning, when you sit down to write, it’s not as intimidating if you know the way. Laura also has some great beginning, intermediary and advanced writing retreats. Checkout her website, LauraMunson.com. Also, there are a couple of websites you might subscribe to: JaneFriedman.com and Writersdigest.com. Both offer a variety of terrific resources that can help you get started and sharpen your writing skills. And let’s not forget Linda Sivertsen!!! The Book Mama! Look at her website, Bookmama.com, and subscribe to her newsletter. Linda offers many different ways she helps writers. Both Linda and Laura have changed my life! Wishing you all the best, Brenda

  • Katherine August 12, 2023 at 9:51 pm

    Hi Brenda,
    I just acknowledged your post then lost it all. I just do not have it within me to go back and rewrite it. I enjoyed all of the conversation you had with Linda Silvertsen.
    Your book will be outstanding I have no doubt.

    • 1010ParkPlace August 13, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      LOL! That’s a writer’s worst nightmare: losing what you’ve written. Happy you read and enjoyed my conversation with Linda and thank you for the encouraging words, Katherine. I appreciate you! xoxox, Brenda

  • Mobie August 13, 2023 at 11:36 am

    The Thomas One Wolf quote reminds me of Brianna Wiest’s writings. Great interview and interesting life story.

    • 1010ParkPlace August 13, 2023 at 12:10 pm

      I love Brianna Wiest. In fact, I gave one of her books as a birthday present recently. Thank you for reading my interview with Linda and for leaving us a note. xoxox, Brenda

  • LA CONTESSA August 15, 2023 at 11:38 am


    • 1010ParkPlace August 15, 2023 at 6:13 pm

      Hi Elizabeth, Linda has several gurus, some who aren’t listed. They’re more like astrologers and wise men and women with special abilities to predict and suggest areas we might want to focus on and generally steer us in the direction that’s right for us. I’m all ears about your new discovery!! Tell me more! xoxox, Brenda

  • Beckye August 31, 2023 at 12:43 pm

    Loved this interview! Years ago I thought I’d write a children’s book. Later I thought I’d write one for teens. Then for women. After a year of chemo (years ago) I’m not sure I’ll be writing! But I do want to recommended Linda’s book for a family member who hopes to write a book! Loved this and I can’t wait for your book, Brenda! I’m so proud of you for continuing the hard work of writing. Looking forward to hearing when your book is available!! ❤️

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