I am living proof that Jen Sincero was right.

Many of you — like me — know and love her You Are a Badass books.

One of the key tenets of her work is that we should put our dreams and goals out into the universe. We should make them known. And the universe will deliver, but not always in the way we expect. Jen tells us that often our dreams and goals will arrive in ways we had not imagined.

Author and Book Coach Sheila Athens

Like many or most writers, my goal for years was to leave my high-stress Corporate America job to become a writer. I would record this goal in my Morning Pages each day. For those not familiar with this practice: Morning Pages are three journal pages handwritten first thing each morning. Julia Cameron introduced them and wrote about their importance in her seminal work The Artist’s Way. I highly recommend that book if you’ve not read it.

For years, I would write about how I wanted to leave my day job to “be immersed in a story world.” I repeated that notion day after day in my Morning Pages. I’m not sure when and where I got that phrase, but “immersed in a story world” sounded ideal to me. Sinking into a good story, whether writing my own or reading someone else’s, is my ideal state. It’s where I wanted — and still want — to spend my days and evenings.

As part of my writing journey, I took a course from Author Accelerator. I loved the experience of receiving one-on-one guidance from a knowledgeable and engaged book coach/developmental editor. Shout out to Lizette Clarke! I loved it so much as a student that I sent Author Accelerator my writer resume, which included a traditionally-published book, several finals and wins in prestigious writing contests and fifteen years of the study of our craft. I thought book coaching was something I’d like to do when — and if — I was able to leave my Corporate America job.

It didn’t happen immediately, but I was eventually invited to take Author Accelerator’s online editing test. Shortly thereafter, I had an interview with founder Jennie Nash and managing editor Laura Franzini. I was delighted and honored to be offered a position as a book coach for them.

For many months, book coaching was my side hustle while still holding down my Corporate America job. It gave me a taste of what it was like to be a part of the gig economy, a world that had previously been unfamiliar to me.

Once I was “on the inside” I became even more convinced that Author Accelerator shares my values. They believe in tough and honest feedback to the writers, but shared — always — with a healthy dose of kindness. They believe in transparency. They believe in the importance of writers capturing their truths on the page. They believe in the power of story.

Several months after I began book coaching for Author Accelerator, my company in Corporate America was purchased by a larger firm. Though I’m still in my mid-fifties, that acquisition gave me the perfect opportunity to retire from that world. A year ago this month, I left Corporate America behind.

I quickly realized, however, that “retired” is a misnomer since I now spend 30+ hours a week book coaching for Author Accelerator. At present, I work with an average of about twelve writers at any given time. I’m also mentoring members of Author Accelerator’s first group of Advanced Book Coaching Certification students. And I’m proud to say that I’ve recently started working with a writer who is one of three to earn a yearlong scholarship for writers of color from Author Accelerator. I’m grateful to be able to do this work. I’m grateful to have a job that I can do from anywhere, whether that’s from my home in Florida or the log cabin Hubby and I have built in the woods in the mountains of North Georgia.

Yes, I’m always working on my own writing, but as I said at the top of this blog post, Jen Sincero was right. The universe doesn’t always deliver our dreams and goals in the way we expect. When I wrote day after day in my Morning Pages that I wanted to “be immersed in a story world,” I had no idea that book coaching would become such a large and important part of my life.

I love providing feedback to writers who are eager to learn, who need the kindness of a guiding hand after being wounded by a misguided critique group, who want to take their writing to the next level. I work on everything from historical fiction to contemporary romance to career-related self-help books to memoirs that take me to places I’ve never been. Each writer is working hard to capture the truth, as she knows it, on the page. I’m honored to be a part of such an important and noble calling.

Now, a year after leaving Corporate America, I realize that my dreams and goals have come true. I love being immersed in stories — whether that’s my own, a book I’m reading that’s already been published or the work of one of my book coaching clients.

I am now immersed in story. And that’s exactly where I want to be.

Author Accelerator is on a mission: to help serious writers become successful writers. We’ve created a step-by-step program that offers committed writers the customized accountability and guidance they need to write great books.

Whether they are working on their book concept, revising pages, or trying to break through barriers that have been holding them back, we help them realize their potential. We help them kick procrastination and doubt with weekly editorial feedback — and finally finish writing their book.

Learn more about Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification Program here.

Check out Sheila’s website here: https://sheilaathens.com/