Energy and resourcefulness! Those are the two words that immediately come to mind when I think of Lynne Golodner, a writer, entrepreneur and champion of writers who want to move their work forward and get it out into the world. Lynne is a social media expert with a special niche for author branding. Her own story of grit and determination contains lessons for us all.
Diane: Welcome, Lynne! I’m really excited to talk to you. You’ve been in my life for a while now.
Lynne: I know. What a treat.
Diane: I first met you in a class, in WritingWorkshops.
Lynne: Creating Your Author Brand, right?
Diane: Yeah. I was just about to query my novel and I kept hearing, “Oh, you have to do all this platform building beforehand,” so I signed up for your class. It taught me so much. And then I hired you to help me move forward with my social media.
Lynne: Which has been so much fun. I think you’ve been my favorite social media client ever.
Diane: Oh, that’s wonderful. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from you. So much about types of content and what to post. It’s just been a joy working back and forth with you.
Lynne: I’m so glad!
“I Worked Around the Clock, But It Was So Exhilarating”
Diane: I know that’s just one of the things you do. Can you tell us a bit about who you are, what you do, how you got there?
Lynne: Sure. I’ve always loved to write but had this notion that I couldn’t make it a career. I was always trying to figure out, well, what can I do to earn money? But meanwhile, writing on the side. I started out after the University of Michigan many, many, many years ago as a journalist. I worked in New York and in Washington DC, and then I came home to Detroit in the late 90s, where I worked on the staff of newspapers and freelanced.
When I was 27, I went freelance because I could earn more money working for myself than working on the staff of a newspaper. And in fact, that year I tripled my income, which tells you how little I was making.
I worked around the clock, but it was so exhilarating because I could come up with a story idea, pitch it to an editor, get the assignment, do the story, and get paid for it, and get paid really well in a lot of cases.
Diane: Was that journalism mostly?
Lynne: Yeah, it was mostly reported articles. I wrote a lot about food, faith, home—architecture, real estate, design—and family. Those were my themes. But I had some regular columns in The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press for a number of years. I was still writing creatively on the side and teaching as well. When I did my MFA in writing, it enabled me to teach at the college level, so I would teach a class in creative writing here or there to keep my hand in it. I started working for myself in 1998 and have been ever since.
“I Was Getting Divorced and Became the Single Mom of Three Kids, Ages Two, Four, and Six”
In 2007 and 2008 when the economy was changing, a lot of the magazines I wrote for were closing. I was getting divorced and became the single mom of three kids, ages two, four, and six. When everybody was getting laid off everywhere, I said, “I think I need something more than journalism.” So I decided to pivot and use my communications and journalism skills to create a PR and marketing firm. It took off. I used my niche subjects from journalism as a way to find clients, so food clients; I had this grocery store chain that was one of my first clients that was just so much fun. I had a lot of yoga clients, a lot of non-profit clients, and I would still keep my hand in writing and teaching. I did write some books in that time. I’ve had eight books published in the past 20 years.
Diane: Wow! Eight books, look at you.
Lynne: Two poetry collections, and six non-fiction titles.
Diane: What kind of titles? What did you write?
Lynne: Well, my master’s thesis at Goddard College was published as my first collection of poetry. My second collection of poetry came out in 2002. It was a chapbook of poems based on the Amidah, the main prayer in Jewish services. I was Orthodox then. I looked at what that prayer meant to me and rewrote every blessing of that prayer as a poem.
Diane: Oh, wow.
Lynne: I had another book come out in 2002 called Hide and Seek: Jewish Women and Hair Covering. It was the first book, and I think the only still, about the practice of Jewish women covering their hair when they get married.
“I Had to Put My Feminism on a Shelf When I Was Orthodox, and I Couldn’t Let It Sit There Anymore”
Diane: Did you cover your hair?
Lynne: I did for four years, for half of my marriage, my first marriage.
Diane: Wigs? Scarves?
Lynne: I used hats, mostly hats, sometimes scarves. I couldn’t get on board with a wig. It just wasn’t me, but I did stop covering after about four years. It felt like I had to put my feminism on a shelf when I was Orthodox, and I couldn’t let it sit there anymore. So I gradually shed all of those things
Diane: Tell us about your path with Judaism. You became Orthodox when you got married?
Lynne: No. I was reform growing up. I became Orthodox when I was still in Washington DC. I had a colleague who was modern Orthodox, and her synagogue was so welcoming. Her rabbi would sit and learn with me. I moved back to Michigan, where there was a much more conservative Orthodox community, but I still found a really cool rabbi who took me under his wing. Then I met my first husband who has always been Orthodox.
I was already on board for a year or two before I met him, and then when I married him, it was like, “We’re agreeing to this.” So even when four years into the marriage it just didn’t resonate with me anymore, I didn’t think it was fair to him to abandon it because we had kids. I stayed Orthodox until we divorced, and then I decided it was intellectually disingenuous for me to continue. I wanted my kids to know that there are many authentic ways to be Jewish. We belong to a conservative synagogue now, but we’re not really conservative Jews. I say we’re just Jews. We take from all and reject from all, and that’s really what we are.
“When We Have All These Things in Common, What Is It We’re Arguing About?”
Diane: There’s the head covering book.
Lynne: That was published in Israel. I basically took a journalistic approach and researched this practice, spoke to linguists about what the Hebrew says. I wrote an introduction and then curated about 30 essays from people around the world.
An architect hired me to write his coffee table book. I created a writing workbook for kids with cancer after spending a year writing with a young girl who was battling leukemia. (She’s now a pediatric oncologist and mother of two!) A medical foundation that hired me to write a book for their purposes.
I put out a book about marketing and public relations, sort of a DIY – that’s my only self-published book to date. And then my last book came out in 2013 called The Flavors of Faith: Holy Breads.
It’s about how every community and faith has a bread. When we have all these things in common, what is it we’re arguing about? The book includes recipes and interviews and shares this cornerstone of community—breaking bread together.
That’s what’s out there. I have a novel that I’m shopping around right now, but I may choose to self-publish it. I’m still not sure.
Diane: What’s that about?
Lynne: I’m stepping into fiction now, and I’m really committed to making sure that my novels include interesting Jewish characters. This one is called Woman of Valor, and it’s about a woman who becomes Orthodox and is super happy in it, but something happens to one of her kids at school that really throws her for a loop. Her husband, whom she adores, responds differently than she does, so it creates a rift between them. And that’s right when her college boyfriend pops back into the scene on Facebook and tempts her.
I won’t reveal any more of it, but you’ll see.
“The Sensual Pleasures of Life Are Some of the Richest Details”
Diane: I don’t know where I heard this, but I heard you write sex very well.
Lynne: I do. I write sex well and I write food well.
Diane: Is there a difference?
Lynne: Sometimes no. The sensual pleasures of life are some of the richest details, and so I don’t shy away from that. I think that’s what makes it really exciting and draws the reader in. There are some really good sex scenes in that novel. They’re Orthodox, but they can still have great sex. So there you go.
Diane: Who knew?
That’s great. I can’t wait to read it.
I took your branding class, but you teach a lot of other classes. Want to tell us about those?
Lynne: About four years ago, after I’d been working on marketing and PR with clients around the world for 15 years, I asked myself, “Is this really what I want my life to be?” Even though it was very lucrative, it’s just not where my heart was. So I made this plan to pivot back to writing. I kept a couple of my marketing clients, but I really started focusing on helping authors market themselves and create brands. I’ve always kept my hand in teaching because I love it, and I really ramped it up with WritingWorkshops.com. I teach a lot of classes for them online.
“Author Brand and Marketing Mastermind Walks Writers Through the Process of Creating Their Brand and Their Marketing Strategy”
I also offer writing retreats, work one-on-one coaching writers, and offer some programs on my own. I have an Author Brand and Marketing Mastermind that starts in January.
That walks writers through the process of creating their brand and their marketing strategy. Even if you go with a big publisher, you’re still going to have to do a lot of your own marketing. How do you do it? How comfortable are you with that? So, I facilitate that. I also teach a lot of creative writing classes and offer something called The Writers Community for my students who want to keep writing together.
Diane: How do your retreats work?
Lynne: I’ve done one for a number of years on Mackinac Island, which is in Lake Huron, between the two peninsulas in Michigan. It’s one of my favorites because we all gather on this island where there’s no motor traffic, so it’s really quiet and beautiful. We write every morning together and have instruction, but in the afternoon we hike, kayak, bike. And then we have a reception at the end for everybody to share their work.
But every year, now that I’m in my 50s, I offer another retreat in a place that I want to travel to. In 2023, it’s going to be in Nova Scotia. That one’s almost sold out actually.
Diane: It sounds wonderful. It seems like the 50s have not slowed you down.
Lynne: No. My grandmother always said I do too much, and she was probably right. But I have a lot of energy, so why sit around? We have this one life, why not make the most of it?
“Entrepreneurs Believe Beyond Logic That Something Is Possible, and So It Becomes Possible”
Diane: It sounds like you always had a creative spark.
Lynne: Yeah. It’s funny. My dad said to me when I applied and got into an MFA program, “Well, I’ll pay for law school.” I was like, “Can you pay for the MFA? It’s a quarter the price of law school.”
I love writing but was basically told “it’s a nice hobby” but I couldn’t pursue it as a career. And now I teach all of these writers at midlife. One of my signature courses is called Finding Your Voice. I always hear in the first class, “It’s a hobby, or I always wished I would’ve…,” all this hesitation around calling oneself a writer or taking their writing seriously.
And I say, “Yeah, we’re all prey to that. Why can’t you?”
I come from an entrepreneurial family. Entrepreneurs believe beyond logic that something is possible, and so it becomes possible. And I’ve seen that happen with me in my career. I have worked for myself since 1998. I supported three children. My ex-husband is an Orthodox Jewish musician. You do the math. He’s very talented, but it’s a limited audience, so I had to figure out how to support our family.
I’m doing that now with my writing career. Why can’t writing be what I “do”? What any of us does?
Diane: Would you say that most of the people who sign up for your classes are women?
Lynne: Yes. I would say about 95%.
Diane: And a bunch of them are older women, I would think?
Lynne: I’ve had writers in their 30s and in their 70s and 80s who are taking my Finding Your Voice at Midlife class.
Diane: I love that. Do you find anything specific to that age group in your writers? Or do you have anything you want to say to people specifically in that age group?
Lynne: You get to a point in your 40s or 50s where you say, “Life is short, and I’m not going to do it according to somebody else’s rules,” and so you finally have the confidence and the courage to listen to your own voice. You take a class called Finding Your Voice, because you’re like, “It’s time. It’s beyond time.” Also, when you get to that point in life, you’re hopefully a little more financially comfortable. So you have the privilege of spending some money on yourself, investing in yourself, even if it’s not a lot, just to do the things you’ve always wanted to do, things you wish you had started earlier, like taking your writing seriously. I see a lot of people gaining clarity on who they are and who they want to be, and not wanting to waste any more time.
Diane: There’s something about the urgency of that ticking clock. That’s a good thing.
Lynne: It is a good thing. And that theme fits with my Author Brand Marketing Mastermind that I’d like to talk about.
“Author Brand and Marketing Mastermind Walks Writers Through the Process of Creating Their Brand and Their Marketing Strategy”
Diane: That starts in January?
Lynne: Starts in January.
I’m only accepting 10 writers. It’s a 12-week in-depth mastermind to focus step by step how you build your brand as an author, very deliberately, very strategically, and then how you market yourself. Which channels you want to choose, knowing that you have a choice, and how to populate them with content. How to understand all the different options and become comfortable with marketing, so you can sell books and make money as an author. The whole point is to arm writers with the tools they need to get their writing out in the world in a way that’s manageable for them, so they don’t have to outsource it and pay lots of money to other people to do it.
Diane: Tell us about your other offerings—so many of us are urgently wanting to jump right in!
Lynne: I’m teaching a new course called Writing a Book & Getting it Done, an eight-week accountability course to motivate you to get your book done in a really strategic way. There’s Finding Your Voice, and I’m teaching a class in January through WritingWorkshops on perfecting line breaks in poetry. I’m also teaching a webinar in early 2023 about perfecting the sentence, inspired by the writing of Ernest Hemingway.
I’m offering four retreats in 2023, the Mackinac Island retreat, in September, the Nova Scotia retreat in July and I have two weekend retreats in Michigan—one in March focused on nonfiction, one in November focused on fiction. I also work one-on-one with writers though I only take on two at a time.
Diane: Terrific! Thank you for speaking with me today. You are a wonderful resource for writers—and for those who are dipping their toes in the writing pool.
If you’d like to learn more about Lynne or any of her offerings you can find out more on her website.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please write a comment or send me an email.
Wishing you all the Happiest of Holidays!
See you soon!
For one-on-one support in uncovering your voice on the page, please consider working with me! I’d love to join you on your journey!