Monday, August 21, 2023

The MuseInks Interview with Ghostwriter Madison Fitzpatrick

I'm excited to introduce you all to Madison Fitzpatrick, a ghostwriter with one goal: crafting clear messages about complex stuff. 
Madison loves wading into other people’s brains and sorting their tangled thoughts into flowing prose. Logic and structure are her jam (chalk it up to her engineering background), and so is the fine art of channeling other people’s voices (maybe thanks to her music-trained ear). 
In this brave new world of “effortless” AI-generated content, she knows genuine human connection is the only thing that will transcend the noise, and building it takes originality and authenticity. Her mission is to help leaders, experts, coaches, innovators, and business owners find the words that make their audiences fall in love.
I'm grateful to Madison for taking the time to answer my questions about ghostwriting and about her views on publishing. 

Ami: How long have you worked in the publishing industry? What are some of the positions you’ve held?

Madison: I’ve been ghostwriting since 2019. At the time, I had been a freelance writer for a couple of years, doing mostly short-form content and copywriting. I had been helping my husband blog about his teaching experiences, and after a few months, we realized we had enough material to create a book. That book was my first ghostwriting project, and I enjoyed the process so much that I decided to look for more opportunities to do it.
There's so much satisfaction in helping someone untangle their ideas and organize them into a cohesive narrative that other people can latch onto, which is exactly what I specialize in now.

Ami: What is your writing superpower? How did you discover it?

Madison: I help people craft clear messages about complex stuff. I love to tackle a complicated, abstract idea and lay it out in concrete terms anyone can understand. 
Part of this comes from my background in engineering, where logic, structure, and clarity are so important. I also did quite a bit of teaching in grad school, and I found that I had a knack for breaking down difficult concepts and explaining them in ways my students could grasp. My time as a management consultant strengthened those skills as well, both on the analytical side and the communication side. 
Funnily enough, I have no formal training in writing, beyond my high school AP Literature class. That hasn't stopped me yet!

Ami: Tell me about some of your recent career successes.

Madison: By the end of this year, I'll have 10 published books under my belt, most of which were written in the last 2 years. 
What I've found particularly surprising and rewarding is that several of those authors are repeat clients. They have a lot to say, and once we've established trust and rapport on one book, they can't wait to work together on the next one. It makes sense--I get deeply embedded in how they think and speak, so the more we work together, the more effortless it becomes for both of us. That kind of thought partnership is what I love most about this work.

Ami: Do you have a particular genre or niche that you most enjoy working in?

In truth, my enjoyment comes more from the author relationship than from the content. I've always been a curious person, so I'm game to dive into any topic, and I can promise I'll have fun with it as long as the author is excited to share their message.

In practice, I do a lot of writing on business-related topics, but I've also written about psychology, leadership, education, personal growth, and more. Then there are my personal interests, which include music, art, nature, science, travel... There's a very wide range of things I would enjoy writing about.

Ami: What are some of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on? What made them so special?

Madison: One of my favorite projects was a book for entrepreneurs about how to manage the "people side" of their organizations as they scale up. The author was an executive coach who came to me with only a vague idea of what the book would be about, and we developed the manuscript over the course of a year. We started out by writing a weekly blog to get all the important ideas out on the table, then we pulled that material together into a more comprehensive book.

The best part was that the author was looking for a true thought partner and was highly receptive to my questions and suggestions throughout the process. The raw material was his, but he allowed me to play a significant role in shaping it, which I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated.

Ami: In a perfect world, what will your writing career look like by this time in 2025?

Madison: Of course, I fully intend to continue working one-on-one with authors to ghostwrite complete manuscripts. However, I also have plans to explore some one-to-many services, like group book coaching and online courses--anything that helps more people put their ideas out into the world in an impactful way.

Ami: What advice would you give to someone who is considering hiring a book coach or ghost?

Don't worry too much about whether they've written "bestsellers" or traditionally published books. What matters most is whether they make you feel understood, both in conversation and in their writing. If you can tell that they get you and your message, you have a winner. That rapport makes it so much easier for you to express yourself, and it will make you more receptive when they ask questions and make suggestions.

At least twice, I've taken over projects from much more experienced ghostwriters because the authors simply didn't click with them, and I learned from those experiences that a good relationship means everything on these long-term, demanding, emotional projects.

Monday, August 14, 2023

The 5 Things You Need to Succeed at Writing Your Book

Over the past two decades, I have helped scores of people write to "The End." I've been a ghost, a co-writer, a developmental editor and a book writing coach.

I have come to the conclusion that there are 5 things the successful "new" author needs to write a good book:

1. Something Worth Saying

Recognizing the intrinsic value of what you're writing about motivates you in ways that simply saying "I want to write a book" can never do. 

Some of my clients are working on their memoirs. One has written a portion of his father's biography. One long time client is continually looking for ways to make the subject in which he earned his doctorate degree interesting and accessible to the average person. They all strongly believe in the value of what they write. That propels them forward.

2. Simple Sentence

I encourage every client, before they write Word One, to develop a single sentence that encompasses their project. Ideally, the sentence includes the genre and scope of the work, while also presenting a promise of what the book will deliver.

That sentence can take some new authors longer to write than an entire chapter later in the process, but it is invaluable. It allows the writer to have a ready answer to the question "What's your book about?" And it provides a firm foundation on which to build the rest of the project.

3. Structural Integrity

Sure, you can write a book without paying attention to structure, Punkin. But it won't be any good. Imagine a house without a framework. That's a book without structure.
If you're working with a book coach who does not make absolutely certain that you understand the critical importance of structure and teach you how to apply basic structural tenets to your project, they are either incompetent or using you as their personal cash cow.

I said what I said. And I stand behind it.

4. Single-mindedness

This is where many authors -- new and not-so-new -- sometimes struggle. It's easy to get in the middle of a project and be distracted by a different project: one that's newer, sexier, flashier, more timely, or more salable.

I know that Sir Terry Pratchett would often have 8 or 10 or more books in various stages of completion at a time. Isaac Asimov could work on multiple books at a time. Maybe one day you can do that too. But let's get the first one done first. 

That means no dithering. No stopping and re-starting (once you've done your structure work, there's no need for such things). No chasing after other shiny projects. Just focus on getting This One Done.

5. A Solid Support System

Your family and friends may or may not be a part of your writing support system.

That guy who keeps spamming your Facebook writing group asking for agent recommendations is definitely not part of your book support system.

Your support system includes every one who says, "Let me know when it comes out and I'll buy it." 

It's every person who hears you are writing a book who doesn't start telling you about this kid they know who wrote a book and got an agent and sold a bazillion copies without even trying. 

It's every person who learns you are writing a book and who doesn't remind you that you once failed English class and had to repeat it.

It's your book writing coach. It may also be your neighbor, your co-worker, the girl you talk to at the gym, the family you meet at the dog park, or your dentist. 

Tell people you're writing a book. When they ask what it's about, tell them your simple sentence. Look for those people who light up when they hear it, who want to hear more. They exist. Their interest will support you as your write your book. Because -- like you -- they can't wait to read it!

Monday, August 07, 2023

The MuseInks Interview with Activist, Storyteller, Screenwriter, and Poet Andie Woodard

Andie Woodard is a queer writer and activist. They recently earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Antioch University, where they developed their skills at writing culturally sensitive, relevant creative nonfiction and poetry. 

Andie has been awarded runner-up twice in the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference’s Personal Essay Contest and received a Best of the Net nomination from Prometheus Dreaming for their poem “Self Portrait.” They are also an accomplished screenwriter.

I met Andie when we both freelanced for Scribe Media. We became "publishing siblings" when we both had chapbooks published this year by Bottlecap Press (read on!). 

I'm so glad they agreed to chat with me about their writing journey. Take it away, Andie!

Andie Woodard:

I have always wanted to be a writer, since I was a little kid. 

I had multiple interests, so I always thought I'd be a writer and something else—a lawyer, or a detective. But I'm grateful for that perspective these days, in this "gig economy." It set me up for success to know early on that writing would always be part of my identity, part of what earned my living, but not all of it. 

I journal several times a week, and out of those journal entries will bloom a poem or a gnarled part of an essay that needs to be straightened out with a lot of elbow grease. 

I'd say I produce more poetry than anything else, but that has more to do with the volume of words, how quickly you can call a poem "done." This perspective is also why I tell people I'm a writer who happens to write poetry, but I wouldn't call myself a "poet." Poets have a particular way of seeing the world and will languish over each word, each line break, in the poems they produce. They're careful. My philosophy has always been, "Good enough means done." When it comes to succeeding in Capitalism (I'm not a fan, as a general construct, but whether you're winning or losing in Capitalism, you're still playing the game, right?), you could say that this mindset makes me marketable. 

My writing superpowers, though, are my introspection and curiosity. I know what questions to ask to fill in the gaps. I know how to communicate a feeling as well as an idea because of these values I hold in my back pockets.

My biggest writing success to date is having my chapbook, Trailer Trash, published by Bottlecap Press. I have been working on Trailer Trash since 2016, and it has seen a number of revisions. 

I thought I had a full-length collection of poetry, but upon closer inspection, I realized I had just 25 polished, succinct pieces that communicated what I wanted to say: being perceived as a woman in Capitalism means you're already losing. But: when we share that burden together, when we do not look back at trauma with gratitude for "making us stronger" but envision a future where the people we love may be treated more fairly, there is hope.

I started working in publishing in September, 2020. Honestly, at the time, working for Scribe Media was my dream job. I found the company by doing a search online in early 2019 and applied as an Author Success Manager, but then, I had no experience in working with books of any sort (I had just been working in content marketing), so they didn't move forward with my application. 

The online videos about the Scribe Tribe encouraged people to apply again and again if they felt this place was the best fit for them. There was a video of a woman who had applied three times before she was brought on. When I applied again in August, 2020, I didn't expect Scribe to hire me. I did have one book under my belt at that point—a wonderful man found me on LinkedIn and took a chance on me because he liked my writing voice and thought I was the right person to help him finish his book—but it was just the one. I thought this would be my second "no," one step closer to getting hired, maybe when I finished my MFA. 

To my surprise and delight (and to the chagrin of my Imposter Syndrome Demon), they hired me, and I have enjoyed basking in the literary realm ever since. 

With the flexibility of "full-time" freelance work from Scribe, I finished my MFA in Creative Writing, with a focus in Creative Nonfiction and a "genre jump" to Poetry, at Antioch University in 2022. Antioch is focused on "literacy citizenship," writing about identity with thought, research and care, which has helped me "babysit" the books I worked on at Scribe as well as write more carefully for my full-time work in the nonprofit sector.

I no longer work with Scribe, but I still make time for literature. I work full-time at a nonprofit funder, working to fight sexual violence by uplifting nonprofits with relevant missions across the country, but in my off time, I help other authors cross the finish line of their own books. Whether they need structural editing, line editing or proofreading services, I'm there for them.

People who are interested in my services may email me at or call or text me at 972-341-4802. They can read samples of my work—from books to short screenplays to media criticism—on my website at