Today, I’m delighted to have a guest blog post from the very talented Dr Annie Kaszina, author of “Do You Choose Your Dog More Carefully Than Your Husband?”
When I first started working with Annie, she had an idea for a book called “Conversations with Cupid”. However, in our mentoring sessions, it rapidly became clear to me that there was a much more fascinating book that reflected Annie’s great wit, humour and love of dogs!
Twelve months on, Annie is being courted by the world’s media, ahead of her book launch this Valentines’ Day. Over to Annie (and her dog Basil K)…
At 11.25 one wintry Sunday night my shrieks sent my lovely partner haring up the stairs – and he’s, sadly, as deaf as a post*. He raced into my office and found me grinning maniacally. I’d just discovered I was featured in “The Mail Online”, in an article that incorporated all of my passions – although not necessarily in their true order of priority: my handsome little dog Basil (photographed) my book “Do You Choose Your Dog More Carefully Than Your Husband?”(described) my mission to help women find their perfect partner, and my beloved partner (who inspired so much of the book).
In a year, I’d gone from working as just another relationship coach to having a unique message and voice and, potentially, reaching millions of people even before the book’s launch. (Within a few days, there were interviews on the BBC, an inquiry from Australian television, and a piece in “China Daily” no less!)
How did it happen?
Call it a When-Annie-Met-Stephanie moment. Like a lot of people who are quietly passionate about what they do, I didn’t see what was special about my story, and my expertise. Stephanie suggested there was a huge market hungry for relationship books.
I wondered: should I ‘sit on it’ for a while? – and take the risk that what I was doing might start to feel old hat to me. Or should I go for it? I sent Stephanie the book outline. Purely to make her laugh, I added a few words at the end to the effect that I was the serial relationship zero who only wised up to herself when she realized she’d chosen her dog more carefully than her husband.
I started writing the book. Boy, was that fun! Every morning I’d be down at my local Costa when it opened. Swigging latte, I’d bang out my 2-3,000 words in a couple of hours. (Stephanie’s advice not to be precious, but just write really helped.) Around the half-way mark, I went to one of Stephanie’s one-day events. The more I listened, the more I questioned whether my book was on the right track, or not. Stephanie kindly said she’d take a quick look at a sample chapter.
With a view to ‘saving’ what I’d done, I dashed off a latte-fuelled prologue – in Costa, naturally – one Sunday morning. It was personal, quirky, and funny: I talked about ‘glue rabbits’ the ludicrous crunch point in my marriage, and dogs. Quite where it all came from I don’t know.
The sample chapter didn’t do much for Stephanie. But she really liked the prologue. That was the way to go, she said. Great! I was meant to write my book as the Mad Dog-Woman of Hertfordshire! Where would I even start?
Back in Costa, of course, swilling yet more lattes. (You would not believe how many points I accumulated on my Costa card over the following weeks, or the mates I made.) I sat there banging away on my skanky little notebook until I virtually became the cabaret – albeit a whey-faced, make-up free, scruffy cabaret. But at 8am even that is, arguably, better than nothing.
Anecdotes from my own life, and unexpected reflections tumbled from my fingertips. I found a voice I didn’t know I had. I got progressively happier – even though it was, actually, one of the toughest times of my life. It was the best fun I’ve ever had on my own in a public place.
Writing that book was easier than I could ever have imagined. Here are my top 5 tips to make getting a book done a doddle.
1. Find yourself a great place to work. Good music, good light, and good coffee are all big pluses.
2. Time everything. First, allot a block of time each day to writing. Then use a timer to divide that block into 20 – 25 minute chunks. This prevents you slipping into the writerly [sic] pitfall of disappearing up your own thought process.
3. “Worrrk eeez never wasted”, as my old Professor of Italian used to say. So, you write a first draft, or half a first draft and it doesn’t work out. You haven’t wasted your time: you’re just honing your skill. What doesn’t go into the book is every bit as precious as what does, in terms of making you a better writer.
4. Get yourself a brilliant coach who knows their stuff, loves working with people like you, and can see the big picture that you could be missing. There are plenty of people to choose from but not too many as supportive, generous and all round brilliant as Stephanie J Hale. That’s just a fact of life.
5. Have fun so your readers will have fun, too. The guy who I wrote my first academic book about, in Italian, he who shared his name with a brand of chocolates and an industrial machinery supplier, rightly said: “If it bores you to write something, it will bore the reader to read it.” Nobody wants to be bored. Ever.
* Or, as he prefers to put it, “Nearly as deaf as a post.”
Annie Kaszina PhD, author of “Do You Choose Your Dog More Carefully Than Your Husband?” was a long-term relationship disaster, until she realized that it made sense to choose her partner at least as carefully as her dog. She has spent 10 years teaching women how to become that special woman who has her dream partner eating out of her hand.
Find out more about Annie and her new book “Do You Choose Your Dog More Carefully Than Your Husband?” at: www.ChooseYourMan.com
“Dr Annie TOTALLY understands relationships – and talks about them with the sort of humour and insight that comes from true experience. She was a joy to interview… and a joy to read.”
– TV and radio celebrity, Anne Diamond