ADHD is real. Living with it is a challenge and a benefit.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

An ADHD diagnosis means my brain is wired differently, not that I am a failure.

Instead of the official title of Attention Deficity Hyperactivity Disorder, I prefer to think of it as Ambitious Dreamer who Hates Details. Doesn’t everyone want an ambitious dreamer on their team?

I hate when mental health diagnoses are used as adjectives. If someone is forgetful, ‘spaces out’ or cannot follow-through sometimes, “They are so ADHD.”

If someone is super detailed and likes everything super consistent, “They are so OCD.” OCD is the acronym for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Say again?

Mental health diagnoses are nouns and…

Write badly, delete nothing, utilize technology, and banish self doubt

Computer Monitor next to a sign that reads “You Got This”
Computer Monitor next to a sign that reads “You Got This”
Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

A good friend I highly respect is struggling to write her first book. It will be a memoir of her father on a very important topic. She has a Master’s Degree in the topic, has a ton of material, yet is stuck where I was four years ago before I published my first book. On overwhelm.

I invited her to lunch.

As we talked, I realized how much I have learned, and how much I appreciate other writers who have shared their lessons with me. In a world full of critics, we can all be encouragers.

I share these lessons…

Facebook took down my author page for a single, five-month-old post. The censorship for hate speech is laughable, outrageous and the opposite of what I stand for.

A cell phone tuned to Facebook, with Social Media spelled out in Scrabble tiles
A cell phone tuned to Facebook, with Social Media spelled out in Scrabble tiles
Photo by on Unsplash

For any business, especially authors, online visibility is key to survival. Facebook is the first and most common platform people look for you. With 2.8 billion monthly users worldwide, it’s hard to avoid. (See Pew Research Center, June 1, 2021.) Yet beware. Authors face a serious risk of being censored or banned completely.

In March 2021, Facebook flagged a single post on my author page that was five months old for “violating community…

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In the U.S, any discussion of healthcare invariably includes the ridiculously high cost of everything, including insurance premiums, hospital bills and many medications. Still, there are some steps you can take to mitigate expenses.

I learned to navigate health care the old-fashioned way: because I had to.

From preemie twins in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, to an older a son with multiple health conditions, to my aging mother, I have spent time in hospitals, can compare multiple ERs, researched specialists, acquired medical records, filed appeals (and won), and paid attention to countless medical bills.

My work experience includes fifteen…

Every author is an “authorpreneur” and CEO of their writing business. Watching a business-themed reality TV show was great training for being ready to pitch my book

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

I can binge watch Shark Tank. It is one of my go-to shows to watch while I am on the treadmill at the gym or if I need to veg out on the couch. As an author, after watching so many episodes I can recognize a great pitch.

It’s more than watching the art of the deal. As a people person, I love watching the human interactions and negotiations, and studying who is successful and why. Every entrepreneur and business is different. But watch enough episodes and common themes and behaviors repeat again and again.

The Emmy-award winning show is…

Hire a darn good editor before publishing a book. But editors can miss something, or technical errors can occur. It is still the author’s name on the book, not the editor’s. It happened to me.

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You, the author, are one-hundred percent responsible for the quality of the book you write. Sure, the job of an editor is to polish your work and make it shine. But it’s your work, not theirs.

Your best friend’s mother’s sister who was a high school English teacher falls into the category of nice person, or perhaps a reading critique, but does not substitute for a professional editor.

By editor, I mean a professional editor trained in the details of the Chicago Manual of Style and who can spot developmental and content issues. …

Two years ago Shelly suddenly stopped responding to emails, phone calls, texts, or private messages on social media. I still ask myself “What did I do wrong?”

Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash

Shelly and I met at a writer’s group a year earlier. We clicked. We shared a lot of similar interests. Shelly was smart, ambitious, a whiz at marketing, and outgoing. But …. it was Spring 2016 and two completely opposite candidates vied for the White House. We each held strong feelings for and against one of the candidates.

More than strong feelings, she aimed for a high-level position in her candidate’s campaign. She posted daily on social media about how wonderful her candidate was. I hesitated. So often the political choices we make reflect the core values of who we…

Łazienki Park, Warsaw Poland by Katrina Shawver 2013
Łazienki Park, Warsaw Poland by Katrina Shawver 2013
Photo by author, Łazienki Park in Warsaw; Poland, 2013.

If there was a Masters degree for the School of Trial and Error, I would have several. The lessons from my failures have taught me more than additional letters and degrees after my name.

Life is rarely a straight line. Sure, one strategy for success is to begin with the end in mind (thank you Stephen Covey.) It is a wise and proven step towards effective goal setting that I employ when I can. An effective writing exercise in this vein is to write your own obituary. Now that, is true planning for the end.

Similarly, Yogi Berra is quoted…

A pandemic? Worldwide virus? It didn’t seem relevant to me. Sure we had Ebola but that was limited primarily to Africa. And there was SARS, H1N1 and others. But they didn’t affect me personally. They happened elsewhere, to other people, or in crowded conditions where illness can spread fast. Not in 2020, not me and not in the middle-class suburbs of Phoenix Arizona where I live.

Two doctors put on PPE to care for patient
Two doctors put on PPE to care for patient

My husband and I attended an outdoor Irish Festival in Phoenix on Saturday March 7. Lines were long, the bagpipes fabulous, the fiddles fiddled, and the beer flowed. We had not one thought of…

Sadly, I am learning more all the time, and I am angry.

On the evening of October 27, 2018, I received the 2018 Polish Heritage Award from the Polish American Congress of Arizona for my “contribution to the documentation of the suffering inflicted on Polish people during the Holocaust.” This award stands as an honored and public acknowledgment that when I wrote my book HENRY: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America, and teach on Poland and the Holocaust, I “got it right.” Did I mention I am neither Polish or Jewish?

So, what is the irony? The next morning, I woke up to realize that the same…

Katrina Shawver

Author. History geek. Toastmaster. Relentlessly curious.

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