Little Miss Merit Badge: A Talk with Award-winning, Non-fiction Author Ronda Beaman

by Pamme Boutselis

Ronda Beaman is the author of the award-winning book, “You’re Only Young Twice,” director of Leadership Studies at California Polytechnic University and a highly sought-after speaker. Her latest book is “Little Miss Merit Badge.”

IMG_1758-2What led to your two books, “You’re Only Young Twice” and “Little Miss Merit Badge”?
It’s been said that you teach what you most need to learn; I think the same is true for many writers—you write what you need to know, believe, hope or live through. In my case, both books represent deep reflection on issues I was facing at the time, namely aging and the purpose of my life.

Did you have a publisher in place prior to actually writing your first book or did you have to shop it around? Is the same true for your second?
For “You’re Only Young Twice,” I wrote it first, developed the proposal and then sent it to three publishers who had published great books in a similar vein, and one accepted it! For the next book, I had an agent who helped me develop the idea and proposal and shopped it to the big (publishing) houses, but we decided to go small, independent press, which is altogether a more lovely experience.

What have the challenges been as you worked your way through writing your books?
The biggest challenge in writing or exercise or New Year’s resolutions or becoming better at whatever you do in anything is always the same, putting your behind in the chair to write, putting your sneakers on to run; in other words, doing the work. It’s so easy to say “Someday I will write my memoir, someday I will eat healthier, someday I will. . .” and then we let ourselves down time and time again.

This type of behavior silently tells your brain you are a loser who doesn’t keep promises, even to herself. It seeps into other areas of your life and you begin to believe you are a loser. I teach at a university. I have a consulting company. I run a fitness boot camp. I have every reason not to sit down and do the work, but I believed I had something valuable to contribute and I didn’t want to let myself down by not following through!

What’s the best advice you have received with regard to writing?
Most people will try to protect you, tell you it’s tough, tell you the market is saturated and on and on. The best advice I got was to not worry about who would read it, write because you want to write and enjoy the process. You get better at it everyday that you simply enjoy doing it.

What part of the marketing process do you most enjoy?
None of it! It’s a whole different beast. Interviews are fun, but the whole process is unnerving. You need professional help!

What’s one thing that new writers need to know?
There’s always an audience. There’s always something that needs to be discovered and shared, and no one in the world can write what you are going to write, no one.