On this episode we’re joined by award-winning writing coach, editor, and publisher Donna Mazzitelli. Donna is known as “The Word Heartiste.” She believes that finding our voice is critical to living authentically, and that’s why she helps writers connect to their core voice.
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Donna discusses how she ended up helping writers as a career, why it’s important to tell our stories, and what it means to write with authenticity and truth. For Donna, it’s important to make space and allow books to come out just as they are supposed to: in their own right time.
On this episode of the Live. Love. Engage. podcast:
- What kind of writing allows people to really connect with the author?
- How sharing our own truths can be powerful.
- How our mistakes are actually a jumping off point to something better.
- Why people feel urged to share their story, and why they should do it.
- How sharing our real truth can be humbling.
- How Donna uses her coaching and editing to help writers dig deeper.
- What hybrid publishing is and how it works.
- Why Donna says stories take on a life of their own.
- Donna’s advice for getting unstuck on your story.
- Why she emphasizes setting up the right environment for writing.
- Donna’s favorite part of working with writers through their creative process.
- What she means when saying writers “go through the tunnel and come out in the light.”
- How many authors Donna has worked with.
- When Donna’s memoir will be released and why it’s taken more time than she thought.
- Why it’s important to work through your trauma before you begin writing about it.
Connect with Donna
Donna’s Website: https://www.writingwithdonna.com/
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- The Live. Love. Engage. Book
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[00:00:02] I am Gloria Grace Rand, founder of the Love Method and author of the number one Amazon Best Seller, Live Love Engage – How to Stop Doubting Yourself and start being yourself. In this podcast, we share practical advice from a spiritual perspective on how to live fully. Love deeply and engage authentically so you can create a life and business with more impact, influence and income. Welcome to live love. Engage.
[00:00:37] Namaste. And welcome, welcome everyone to live, love, engage, and I am delighted, as always, to have a guest on the show, and I’m going to tell you a little bit about her and the awesomeness that she has to offer. But first, I want to welcome Donna Mazzitelli to the show to live love engage. Welcome.
[00:01:01] Well, thank you so much, Gloria. It’s so exciting to be here with you. Truly exciting because we’ve definitely had a bit of some technical issues getting connected with each other.
[00:01:11] So yes, we did. My My Internet last week was not playing nice and but it’s all better today and it’s and it’s we’re holding the intention it will continue to be better.
[00:01:23] Yeah. So let me share with all of our listeners and viewers on YouTube. Just a little bit about you. You are known as the I love this. The word heartiest and that’s spelled H.E.R. For those of you listening and we’ll explain why in a minute, but you are. She is an award winning coach, editor, publisher, founder of Writing with Donna and Mary Dissidents Press. And she believes that finding our voices is critical to living authentic lives, and that’s why she helps writers connect to their unique core voice so they can share a message that is crafted with heart, which is so perfect because this is my tagline that I started last year, which is messages from the heart. So so we’re already on the same wavelength. So this is awesome.
[00:02:20] So, you know, we were talking before we actually officially started the recording today about, you know, why would someone like write a memoir or self-help book? And I was sharing a little bit about my book that turned out to be more memoir than a self-help book than I had intended originally. And you said that you were glad that happened. So tell me a little bit about why, why you’re glad that I wound up writing up more of a memoir book?
[00:02:52] Sure. So how two books are are great and there. I think there’s a purpose for them. Definitely there, and there’s a need for them. But usually those leave out the author. I mean, there’s usually not much of the author that we get to connect with. And I really believe that it’s when we can mix personal growth with memoir or write a memoir exclusively. That’s what allows people to really connect with us. And it also allows people to connect within themselves. So I just feel like there is there’s so much of a striving to be perfect or to look a certain way to others, especially with our social media, the way it is. And yet at the same time, that’s not usually the truth. I mean, what we try to show to the world, you know, that facade, that’s not it’s illusion most of the time. So when we can. So the fact that you ended up like realizing you had to offer some of your own story that tells me that you really did get into truth and that there is now a way for people to not only connect with the information you’re passing, but to you as the deliverer, as the interpreter of whatever you’ve experienced, whatever you’ve learned. And I think that then it opens up the possibility for them to have permission to look at themselves and to know, you know, what, if she could do this, if she can share this, then you know, I can, too, even if it’s to start sharing it within myself before I even disclose it to somebody else. Yeah. So I just feel like it really is the way for us to. It’s a it’s a connector. Even if you never meet that other person, there’s a connection.
[00:04:43] So, yeah, it was definitely interesting because I did share, you know, mistakes that I’ve made along the way. But but I realized that it really was integral in to what I was teaching because what I was teaching is how it helped me to heal from some of these things and to learn from the mistakes I made. And that really is why I wound up keeping those things in there. Because, yeah, as you said, it’s like if I can help somebody else, maybe spare them some of these things, you know, and it’s it’s all worthwhile for me to kind of bare my soul a little bit and you know.
[00:05:24] Well, and for them to that, they then can look at those mistakes as actually jumping off places that can lead them to to something much, much better in their, you know, for them. So I. Just I think that’s that is the way people get comfortable with more introspective work. Yeah. So yeah, so
[00:05:46] Why should someone write a book? Because I know a lot of people, I think they they may even have this dream possibly of writing a book, but then actually sitting down and doing it can be a little bit intimidating. And and actually, I’m actually working with a client right now who is who’s writing a book, and she’s like, It’s taking me longer than I thought. I said, It’s OK because, you know, it takes as long as it takes. Sometimes you have to just work with it. So why? Why do you think it is important, maybe for someone to write?
[00:06:21] Well, I’ll I’ll go back to if somebody is feeling that inner urge to begin with. It’s like if you if it’s I mean, there are people who might approach it because it’s a bucket list item and I’m not going to I’m not going to say that’s not OK, you know, because if that’s a bucket list item, then that’s an urging, too. So it’s like, go for it. Sometimes the message, though, that is coming through the urging is that you need to tell your story. You need to tell what you’ve lived through, or you need to tell what you’ve come to know because there are people who need it. And I just feel like that’s that’s divine intervention. I mean, I feel like that’s coming from somewhere else. If it’s our intuition, you know, it’s our connection to spirit, to the universe, whatever one might call it, that is that’s where the urge comes from. So if we are willing to be that instrument and let that come through us, then I think it’s really important that we pursue it. And sometimes people with memoir don’t feel, you know, who want to, who want to write a memoir as opposed to personal growth and development. There’s all that stuff, that negative self-talk that goes on of why who am I to tell my story? You know, why should I even do this? Who is? Who is? Who is it going to even want to read it? You know, I’m not that special. All those things that go on. But at the same time, if that urge just keeps persisting, it’s like, Well, there’s there’s some reason for that. There are people who do need to hear your story and whether that’s one which I doubt, it’s one. I doubt for anybody, it’s just one. But whether it’s one or a million and one, it’s like it’s important to allow the story to come out. Yeah, yeah. And I don’t think there’s anything boastful or I don’t know. You know, I guess both was about the best word that’s coming to mind about know. I think it can be a very humbling experience to actually share our our real truth.
[00:08:22] Absolutely. And and as it happened for me in the process of writing it, you know, originally and well, actually two things so so number one, this was like, I call it my divine download because I was I was meditating and this idea popped into my head. That said, you should write a book about love and I’m like, What? I do marketing? What do you mean? Write a book about love. That’s like crazy. But but then what I discovered through the process of writing it was that the reason I had to write the book was because I had to learn what I was writing about for myself. Yeah. Have you have you ever had that experience with with some of the authors
[00:09:04] You’ve worked for? Oh yes. Oh yes. Well, and as an editor, so as a coach, you know, helping somebody get the story out to begin with and then through the coaching process and then leading into the editing process, oftentimes the questions, the prompts that I offer back, the questions I pose, the suggestions or wondering my my own ponderings about whatever they’re writing it, it is about them going deeper, which is why I call myself the word artist because I really do help people, even personal growth and development get to the heart. And there is no way in that process, even if something’s been healed, that you will not go through the spiral effect of revisiting and coming to have a deeper healing in the process. There always is that and people are amazed because especially those who feel like they’re done like, Oh, I got that lesson, I’m done and I’m going to share about it now. And then all of a sudden it’s like, Wow, I didn’t realize there was a bit more here to look at.
[00:10:12] Yeah, yeah, it’s amazing.
[00:10:16] It is crazy. Yeah, so so it happens a lot. Yeah.
[00:10:21] How did you get started in this business? What what prompted you to take up this calling to help others in this way?
[00:10:28] So it’s kind of a crazy story. So I had breast cancer myself in 07, and as a result of that, I started a green living business and it was all about helping people look at What do we have in our environment? What do we put on our bodies? What do we ingest? Where do all these toxins come from? And so I really went in that direction. It was more about the the physical, you know, more about the body than the mind or the spirit. And that business just I did a lot of networking and that business just didn’t go anywhere. I mean, I I had so much stuff available, so many classes and workshops and shopping experiences, and I had a handful of clients at the end of the year. But for that networking, I met a woman who got who partnered with an. Other woman to write a woman’s anthology, so I put a story in that about my breast cancer experience. The second year I put a story in about my daughter who I adopted, who actually today is her birthday and I won’t go to. But today it’s it’s it’s kind of a sad day too, because we lost her two years ago and so
[00:11:44] I’m so sorry.
[00:11:45] Hmm. Hence, the purple purple was her color, so I decided to wear purple and have her with me today. But I wrote that story. And then in the midst of doing that, I offered the two ladies, if anybody, this just popped out of my mouth. If anybody needs help with their story, just I’m here. So they took me up on it and they they had me work with some of the women who really wanted to get a story out, but we’re really struggling with it. And as a result of that, the next year, by then, they had asked me to start editing for them because they started a self-publishing company. And so they asked me to be their contract editor, and by the next year, I edited their third and final anthology. I did all the editing, so it’s kind of interesting. It was me like something just coming out of my mouth that I don’t even know again. It was divine. It didn’t I? You know, I didn’t plan it. And that led to to all of this. And after editing for a few years, I just back in 13. I still saw issues with self-publishing and the what was available and not available. And so I decided to start a publishing company to offer a hybrid version of publishing and also some ways that people could get their books in, like with with beige or off white book pages and then also with Matt covers. Way back then, you could only get glossy. So anyway, it began that way, and I’ve continued it. So yeah, that’s kind of the evolution.
[00:13:21] Very good. Well, can you explain a little bit because you mentioned hybrid publishing, which is actually how I wound up doing as well for those who are listening who may not know what that is. Can you explain it?
[00:13:32] Ok, so how best can I explain it? Let’s see. So it’s I’m a hype. I consider myself a hybrid indie publisher, and that means that I it’s not self-publishing. It’s an independently published. I’m also, though not a vanity press, nor am I a traditional publisher. So the author gets, well, a hybrid indie publisher. By definition, the author needs to get more than 50 or more than 60 percent of the royalties. Actually, the authors I work with get one hundred percent of royalties. I don’t collect royalties, so I get paid up front for all the services that are provided by me and my contractors. But then that’s what they pay to me and then for any consulting afterwards, but otherwise they get their royalties. It needs to be, by definition, a book that has been well edited that is well presented with a cover that’s been done by a designer, the interior laid out by a designer. So it needs to be a well put together book, I mean, for lack of a better way. And I think those are kind of the primary, the biggest ways, you know, I mean, the biggest elements that need to be a part of being a hybrid publisher.
[00:14:49] Yeah, thank you. Appreciate that. Yeah. So, you know, I mentioned earlier that I’m actually helping helping a client because I have done some editing along the way, myself and my career. And when when you’ve worked with people and even for myself too, I mean, I know I got stuck writing my book for a while and I had to kind of take a break because I wasn’t sure what the heck to say. How would you either help people or kind of move through that? I mean, what can people do when they get stuck while they’re trying to tell their story?
[00:15:23] Right? So I think, you know, number one, I believe a book takes on a life of its own. I believe that means in terms of when it’s going to come out. How long does it take to write it? I believe the book will direct the process. However, we have to look at, do we get in the way of that? And so sometimes it’s the book. It’s that there’s more that needs to percolate before before writing can come out. Other times, sometimes there’s more to like really look at in terms of healing. There’s more healing to take place before we can write about it. Mm hmm. So that can happen even in personal growth and development that can happen, believe it or not. And and then there’s the part of am I getting in the way? So am I. Like, are there saboteurs coming up like those ones? I talked about about, who am I to write a book and who would ever read it? Those things can, you know, halt us and and then we don’t proceed, so as a coach, I look at with somebody, it’s like there’s never any like you were supposed to get the assignment done and you didn’t need it, right? No, there’s none of that. It’s kind of like, let’s look at what’s been going on. I mean, did life get in the way which happens to life, just day to day life or a or a business or their job? Or, you know, like all of that family, things can get in the way a health issue.
[00:16:51] So let’s look at it. And I mean, I was working with a client where a divorce came online that wasn’t planned, so I had to take a break for a while before we could proceed. And, you know, just honored that time and it was a gentleman and honored that time with him. And then we came back to it, but it was, you know, allowing for that and for him to not feel bad that, oh, I can’t work on the book right now. And then if there are those saboteurs getting in the way, then we we look at those. I mean, I try to create a safe of a container as possible so that people can really look at that and know that they’re being embraced in a way and held through that to to work through it, to look at why. Why is that coming up and and how can we how can we quiet those voices? They’re not going to go away? Right? But how can we quiet them? How might we give them a job? You know, send them off somewhere on an island, you know, for a vacation, you know, because they’re going to show up. So it’s like, Well, what can we do to dazzle them in some other way so that they won’t keep talking in our ear? So, yeah, I kind of approach it that way.
[00:18:05] I like that. I like that. Yeah, it was interesting. Even just getting for me. Initially, getting started was was hard. I would like sit down on my computer and I couldn’t figure out where to go and you know what to even say. And a friend of mine suggested, you know, like, well, like, where do you feel comfortable? Where’s like your favorite place to go? And I was like, Oh, I like going to the beach. And she’s like, Well, why don’t you right there? I was like, Oh, exactly. And since I’m only an hour’s drive, that’s what I would do Friday mornings. I would go and hand handwrite in my journal, and it helped get it going.
[00:18:40] That’s perfect, and I actually I we look at that too, I look at with authors like, Do you love handwriting? You know, those of us, of my age group and even a bit younger, we were very comfortable handwriting because, you know, we grew up with it, right? Younger people are not so comfortable, so computer is their place. So we look at that or voice recording. Some people are very comfortable voice recording. So we look at what’s going to be the way to get into your story and then the environment. I have one client that she thought hers was at her. She had she rents a workspace. She thought it was going to be there because it was quiet and away from everybody, and she found out that she was not at all energized by it or inspired by it. So she found it’s the morning in a little room. Well, I don’t know how little that a room in her home, that where she can see out the window and watch what’s happening outside in the yard and with her cup of tea. And so she just sat in a comfortable chair and that’s where she sets up every day and that has now gotten her just moving forward. So yeah, we do look at all of those aspects because they play an important role, for sure. Yeah. So good for your friend, for getting you to the beach.
[00:19:54] Yeah. Yeah, that was helpful for sure. What’s what would you say is your favorite thing about your favorite part, I should say, of working with someone in this process.
[00:20:10] I I would say in a general way, it’s it’s when people really do get to the to the depth of their story and when they’re really able to bring it out and they realize they can survive it. And it’s not about bleeding on the page. I talk about that. It’s but it’s more about getting to that to that deeper level of it so we can connect with the emotionality and maybe even see the time and place where something occurred that that we can be with them in that moment and and then helping them realize that, OK, we’re going, we’re going to walk through that part. You’re going to write about that part, but then we get to the, you know, to the hope, the inspiration that what the I call it, that they go through the tunnel and then they get back into the light and we get to show that in their story. And when that happens, that’s just amazing. And I guess more than anything is when I see the author realize it. So usually it’s like during the editing process, it’s not during the developmental edit, it’s when it after they’ve done their work in response to my developmental edit. When it comes back to me and we are doing the line edit, all of a sudden the light bulb goes off and they say, Oh my gosh, I really have something here. It’s just, you know, this is really like, I’m reading my own story and I’m being inspired by it. You know, I’m it’s it’s like, Wow, did I write that? So I love when that happens. I love when people make that connection. So yeah, it’s it’s beautiful.
[00:21:42] That’s cool. How many would you do you think you’ve? How many authors have you worked with? Can you even hazard a guess?
[00:21:50] You know, someday I need to go back and kind of look at it because I know I don’t have every book on the shelf that I’ve worked on, but I usually say dozens and dozens, I mean, to kind of cover it. But I would. It’s it’s well over one hundred, for sure. It’s definitely much more than that. That’s yeah, it’s yeah, it’s great. So I love it. So and I will say to you said your book to the from concept took you about five years, right? From the
[00:22:18] Idea. Yeah, I
[00:22:19] Did. Yeah, I actually. So that and then you really dove into it the last two years, right? That’s when you took it kind of percolated for a while. So that can happen for people too. And I will tell you, I don’t advocate what happened to me, but I am coming out with my first memoir in next year at the beginning of next year. And it’s over ten years in the making.
[00:22:41] So I feel so bad, you
[00:22:45] Know, take a long time to it. Actually, there was more life to live that had to come into this memoir. So it just, you know, it’s like there was there was a reason. Again, there was a reason why the book could not come out sooner than its coming out. So there was life to live and there was also perspective to gain and healing to happen.
[00:23:05] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it is amazing when you think about that, that really does. I think it’s so important for those listening to allow for that to know that that’s that is what might happen. And like, for instance, for me, part of my well, sort of the inspiration, I guess the inspiration or part of the motivation or catalyst for it was my sister had cancer, developed cancer and this this. The idea for the book came a few months before she passed. And I love that the fact that finally, last year, when I really got it going and we and I started talking with the publisher about when can we get it out? I was like, Well, you know, it’d be nice for February because it’s Valentine’s Day and, you know, we’re dealing with love. And then I was like, Wait a minute. No, my sister’s birthday is February twenty first and it’s the year twenty twenty one. It’s like, OK, how perfect is that? It’s like because I’m a numbers anyway, so I am too. So that’s why had to wait.
[00:24:14] Right, exactly. Now that’s beautiful. Yeah, mine actually is going to come out on Valentine’s Day. Or at least that’s what I’m gonna do my launch. Okay, because that date is significant in the book and in two places, it’s very significant. So but I went through all through these years, it was either going to be my birthday or my 60th birthday or my sixty fifth birthday or, you know, it was or it was going to be March at spring or I always had. I kept coming up with these different dates. And now it’s like it’s it’s going to come out exactly when it was supposed to all along. So it’s just, yeah, curious. All right. Well, I want to go back to one thing to say something. And that is sometimes when people, when people have gone through a really traumatic event in their life, sometimes they want to immediately write about it. And I do encourage people of. First to journal and to keep, you know, to record everything that’s happening for them to get it all out, but that they may need more time and perspective before it’s time to actually write the book that’s going to offer something to others. So I don’t know that just kind of came in my head that it’s like some I’ve worked with people who want to get it out immediately, and then it doesn’t usually happen because they’re still working through so much themselves, whatever, whatever it is that has happened.
[00:25:39] So, absolutely. Yeah, I 100 percent agree with that. Yeah, because I spent that whole twenty seventeen. For me, it was just a year of grieving, and so I couldn’t I couldn’t even begin to to start writing it at all. So, you know, then it was like twenty eighteen. I started a little bit, but yeah, I had to had to get through and I had to learn lessons. So it’s right. That’s amazing. Oh, I was going to ask you, do you have a name for your book yet? Have you settled on one?
[00:26:10] What is it? Oh, it’s called Mosaic Heart. These pieces of an unfinished life.
[00:26:16] Oh, I like that. Oh oh. And I can almost imagine what the cover is going to look like, so I’m hoping of it.
[00:26:24] But yeah,
[00:26:25] Some sort of mosaic. I presume it is. Yeah. Oh, very cool.
[00:26:30] Well, turned out better than I could have imagined, actually. So.
[00:26:34] Yeah. Well, I’ll definitely keep keep me informed about when. Oh, I will. Yeah. So because I’ll update the show notes and we’ll have a link to the book so people can get it.
[00:26:44] So that would be great.
[00:26:48] So which brings me to sort of my last question. So someone listening here is feeling that call to write a book, but nice that they’re going to need some support. What would be the best way, you know, if they really have liked what they’ve heard from you today and they’d like to reach out? What’s the best way to connect with you?
[00:27:05] Thank you. Well, thank you for that. So the best place is writing with Donna. And there I actually do have on there you can book an appointment and I offer a one hour zoom or phone meeting. I prefer Zoom so we can see each other. Yeah, and that’s just that’s a complimentary service. It’s a way for us to connect with each other and get to know each other a bit and find out about your book and you know how how I might be of service. So I just feel like this whole. The whole process of coaching, editing and even publishing is such an intimate relationship and it and so collaborative that we really have to, from almost the beginning, feel that connection that that there’s a spark already there.
[00:27:54] Yeah, for sure. Yeah, absolutely. I yeah, because I interviewed a couple of people beforehand and one in particular, I was like, No, I’m not going to work with you. It just wasn’t there. But I may hit you up for some ideas for my second book, so I would love when I get ready to start really diving into it. So that’d be cool.
[00:28:16] Well, now you need to keep sharing your book because you’ve got a special and a very important message to share.
[00:28:21] So I appreciate that. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for being here. I’m so glad that we I know the bandwith got a little low at times, but we could still hear you, which was good. I’m so glad that, oh good God, he was always there, and so I’m glad you were able to be here today and share.
[00:28:38] Thank you, Gloria.
[00:28:39] Here are some of your story and how you help others tell theirs.
[00:28:42] So thank you so much. Thank you very much.
[00:28:47] Yeah. And to all of you listening and watching on YouTube, I appreciate you. Make sure that you are subscribed somewhere. You know your favorite podcast platform is great and you can always go to live Love Engage podcast, where you’ll be able to see all of the episodes as well. And I love hearing comments and reviews, so please do share with me those as well. I appreciate that and until next time. As always, I encourage you to go out and live fully. Love deeply and engage authentically. Did you know that
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