Linda Sivertsen is a New York Times bestselling co-author + agent connector + former ghostwriter who midwifes books at her writing retreats in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She’s the co-creator of the digital bestseller, Your Big Beautiful Book Plan with Danielle LaPorte; creator of the first-ever iPhone app to track the health of any relationship (The Boyfriend Log), and host of the popular Beautiful Writers Podcast, where Linda interviews the world’s most beloved authors like Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, Seth Godin, Glennon Doyle Melton, Marianne Williamson, Arianna Huffington, and Steven Pressfield. Linda and her work have been featured widely in the media, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the International Business Times, TeenVogue, The Huffington Post, Forbes.com, Glamour.com, MarieClaire.com, and on CNN, E!, and Extra. She can be found blogging over at bookmama.com (a “best of the web” pick from the Daily Muse).
1. What are three words that best describe you?
Enthusiastic, intuitive, happy.
2. Tell us why you’re awesome in two sentences or less.
Because I always find a way, and I figure out how to take others along with me, laughing and celebrating (and talking about boys) as we go.
3. What are your three biggest indulgences?
Chocolate, books and Kreation Juice (b/c something’s got to balance out all that chocolate).
4. What’s currently your favorite…
Restaurant: Kreation Juice on 3rd Street for organic perfection, SoHo House in West Hollywood for stratospheric views and creative highs and breakfast at Norma’s in NYC.
Food: Indian is my soul food and Mexican, my crush. If they were men, Indian would be my wise paternal Guru and Mexican would be my very hot boyfriend.
Cocktail: Green drink – seriously, I know, sad – but true. Just reading this answer makes me want to fall asleep (or go jogging). I should probably work on that.
Shopping destination/store: Michael Stars in Malibu. What could be better than jeans, boots, and a sexy MS white t-shirt in the summer, or turtleneck when it’s cold? (I’ll drive there at 10am on a weekday when I should be home working. Up over the mountain pass to the ocean with blue skies overhead and Adele on the stereo. The store is just waking up and the merchandise is all mine, baby. By the time the lunch crowds descend, I’m already back at my desk).
Fashion item: Remonte vegan boots. No one can tell the difference. Well, at least not to my face.
Place to hangout: The barn where our 3 hoodlum horses live, currently in a lot of mud. But drought-ridden beggars can’t be choosers. We’re slopping around up to our ankles and saying our prayerful thanks (while trying not to drop the freshly washed carrots).
City: Carmel-by-the-Sea. Although that’s more of a hamlet than a “city.” For a bonafide metropolis… Paris. Always Paris. I knew humans were worth saving when I saw how very right humanity got it with the City of Lights.
Travel item: Ear plugs and Stevia.
Beauty product: Aveda Inner Light Concealer, Mineral Fusion Sheer Tint Foundation and Burt’s Bees Lip Gloss in Ocean Sunrise.
Skincare product: iS Clinical Pro-Heal & Active Serums.
Hostess gift: Re-gifted, unused (obviously) wine. Plus, Danielle LaPorte’s Truthbomb decks and Ayurvedic Candles – both of which everyone freaks for. I’ve given them so often (oh, including her tattoo packs and day planners and malas and books…) that I can’t keep this up much longer. For F’s sake, D, you’re going to have to create something new for all those needy hostesses!
Home décor item: The above aforementioned DLP candles. And, my new fave: the giant recently framed photo of my fiancé and me on horseback that we call “Kissing in Kansas.” I thought he was going to die of embarrassment when I posed our horses together and flagged down a stranger to hold my iPhone in the middle of nowhere, forcing a lip-locked portrait against a backdrop of rolling, grassy hills. But wouldn’t you know it… the shot came out great and is one of his favorite possessions.
Book: Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior. Are you kidding me? So. Freaking. Good. Few memoirs have blown me away like this one.
Website: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page. Such killer content… and FREE, too (imagine that!). If I skip too many days, I’ve just missed the world. (I call Liz our generation’s Mark Twain, although thankfully she’s had an easier life than poor old Samuel Clemens.)
Magazine: Vanity Fair for the in-depth expose. (Graydon Carter, you’re fearless!) O, The Oprah Magazine for the monthly columns (and all things Oprah). By the way, to my knowledge, the only other place you can find Martha Beck and Liz Gilbert and Glennon Doyle Melton in one place is on iTunes for “The Beautiful Writers Podcast.” Hmmm. Is that too obvious a self-serving plug?
5. What’s the ONE thing you absolutely can’t live without?
Said poodle. And our other dogs. And horses. Plus my fiancé. And my sister, Carol. And my best friend, Diane. Did you say one… because… not possible. Okay. The iTunes store for audio books – take that away from me and I’ll cut you.
6. What is your biggest pet peeve?
People who recite news “facts” without doing their own fact checking. (Myself included.)
7. If you could have dinner with anyone (living or not) who would it be?
Whitney Frick. Best editor in NYC (see Love Warrior). Lunch will work, too, Whit. Can Michelle Obama tag along? And Hillary? Because as high as they go—God bless ‘em—I’m betting there’d be a lot of low-ball laughter (and gossip) flying around.
8. What does it mean to you to have a strong, engaging brand and how has having one helped you?
I grew up aching for the old-school writing life. Cats asleep on my desk, dogs asleep at my feet (check, check). The only time I’d have to venture out in that fantasy was to peddle a new title on TV or to suit up for a quick signing. The aim: just enough fame to keep publishers calling, but near total anonymity in the real world. Ahhh.
My plan was working just fine until my husband of 19 years bailed for another woman and our home went into foreclosure. I was losing everything and couldn’t bribe our teenager out of his bathrobe for anything. But I was saved in the 11th hour by promotion from a client who raved to his fan base that I was the “secret weapon” behind his million-dollar book deal. Soon my first writing retreat was sold out, and enough people were reading my blog that when I put out the APB that I’d be crawling on my lips to Carmel (back to my roots) on a regular basis to keep hosting retreats, women flew in from all over the globe to attend. In a short time I saved my home, my sanity, and enrolled my son in film school. I was so tired, but so proud. I’d never wanted to be out in the world much. Never been a girl’s girl. But the travel and sisterhood became my anchor and my guiding light. A win-win-win. Suddenly “platform” was no longer a dirty word, but the thing that turned water into wine and strangers into besties (and book deals).
9. What is your #1 tip for fellow women entrepreneurs?
Keep showing up and putting your best work out there. You never know who’s watching and benefiting. I was at a party not long ago and met one of my literary heroes. When he told me that he was a big fan of my work, I was totally floored. Me? I kept looking over my shoulder at the buffet table. My point? Trust that ache you have to create. Trust that it’s sacred and knows what it’s doing. And then. Just. Keep. Going.
10. What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
I’d tell myself not to be so quick to judge others. In my youth, I walked away from a few girlfriends, which I later regretted. My grandma had warned me about burning bridges. “Old people live with the scars of being burned,” she said. But she also said crazy things like, “Eat plenty of fiber, never use credit, and those ripped jeans make you look like no one loves you,” so what did she know?
11. What is one piece of advice you would give to women today about staying true to themselves and succeeding on their own terms?
On your way up the “ladder,” you’re going to get offers that go against your values. Sometimes they’ll be reeeeal purdy. As an example, soon after my marriage broke up – while desperate for cash – I got a call from one of the world’s largest tea companies. One you see in every grocery store. They’d read my pieces for the now defunct Balance magazine – where I was the West Coast editor – and decided I was the perfect person to rep their upcoming line of teas… centered around being “balanced.” (Which was hilarious because I was anything but!) The pay was awesome and the tour would take me to some of my favorite cities, with photo shoots and press galore. Not a bad thing for a writer with a new writing retreat business to market.
It took me one minute to say no. I’d just written an environmental book (Generation Green), and my goal was to inspire teenagers to know that eco-friendly living could be fun. We had an entire chapter on Eating Green. But this line of teas were not organic. I explained to the nice lady that tea leaves are some of the most highly sprayed plants anywhere, and that promoting them would put me out of sync with what mattered most to me. She actually said she was proud of me.
My boyfriend (at the time) was horrified. “Your values are putting you in the poorhouse,” he yelled. Needless to say, he’s no longer my boyfriend. On the contrary, I think it’s my values – more than perhaps anything else – that have given me a life I love.
1. iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance+
This powerful formulation significantly increases antioxidant protection while helping improve the appearance of compromised, blemish-prone, and aging skin.
5. Love Warrior
The highly anticipated new memoir by bestselling author Glennon Doyle Melton tells the story of her journey of self-discovery after the implosion of her marriage.