The book this small business owner wrote isn’t the one she spent twenty-five years imagining, and that’s a good thing.

Sandy Wardenburg had a book living inside of her for twenty-five years. Long before publishing Bold Moves: Take Back Your Power, Reclaim Your Peace, and Live Happy on Purpose, she joked about her book’s hypothetical title: Tales of a Redheaded Stepchild. Like many children of her generation, Sandy experienced the traditional “latchkey kid” childhood. Both of her parents worked long hours, so she came home from school to an empty house and learned to fend for herself from a very young age.

It was an isolating life. Sandy rarely saw classmates her age, and although she had step-siblings, she was the only child of her mother and step-father. Several ugly divorces further strained the siblings’ limited interactions. As a result, Sandy never learned the social skills necessary for adult life. She felt emotionally hindered and insecure underneath her composed surface.

In contrast to her lonely childhood, Sandy’s adult years were marked by routine change. Her husband Mike was a fighter pilot, and his service meant the couple relocated across the country multiple times. Sandy settled in the Lake of the Ozarks area and manages MSW Interactive Designs, the internet marketing agency she founded in 1999. Many businesses didn’t have an online presence and needed her web design expertise, so Sandy’s timing struck gold. She currently manages a remote team of thirteen employees, and in her downtime, she’s an avid lover of the outdoors; she aims to hike every national park in the United States.

Letting Go of the Past

From an outsider’s perspective, Sandy’s childhood seemed idyllic. Her parents were financially stable, they traveled, and she wasn’t physically mistreated. The truth was another matter. Sandy’s mother demonstrated classic narcissistic behavior and abused Sandy emotionally. Her mother’s manipulation made it impossible for the two to have any sort of close relationship.

This appalling behavior from a parental figure damaged Sandy’s self-confidence and affected her ability to have healthy relationships. She couldn’t trust the people to whom she was most close, even though she loved them deeply. She realized she felt trapped in her marriage, and becoming a caregiver for the elderly mother who still abused her left Sandy physically and emotionally depleted. A life coach later diagnosed her with depression; at the time, Sandy only knew she was hurtling toward the absolute limit of what her body and mind could withstand. She was nursing decades-old wounds but not taking care of herself.

It took one-on-one work with a life coach for Sandy to realize how much her mother’s influence had wounded her soul. She garnered the clarity, courage, and confidence to move into a space free from the control of others. It didn’t matter if someone hadn’t given her permission; she pursued the dreams she had always placed on hold. Sandy refused to settle for complacency, and the freedom was exhilarating.

Although these moments are vital to her book, the first-time author is quick to assure that Bold Moves isn’t an autobiography. Sandy uses short narratives about her past to illustrate the negative traits and thought processes she needed to overcome. Then, every chapter outlines the action steps she learned from certified financial, business, and life coaches.

Processing the past proved to be the best decision Sandy ever made. Like the roots of a tree, it touched all areas of Sandy’s life and elevated her out of that emotional darkness. Letting go made her a confident, free, flourishing woman.

Following the Signs

Sandy’s road to meeting The Book Professor® was more like a detour than a straight line. During a family reunion, her step-cousin Kevin said his bank was interested in acquiring a company like hers that could support other small businesses. Sandy knew small businesses usually weren’t in positions to sell; that isn’t the nature of the beast. Nonetheless, she was devastated when the discussed deal with Kevin’s bank fell through.

Her step-cousin wasn’t done, though. Kevin insisted Sandy read a book called You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Everything You Need to Know to Buy or Sell a Business. The catch was Sandy had to call the author, Terry Lammers. That was an act completely outside Sandy’s comfort zone. Nonetheless, she mustered up the courage. After some excellent discussions, Terry suggested Sandy attend one of his friend Tom Hill’s mastermind talks. She met Nancy Erickson at one of these events and was fascinated by Nancy’s profession.

Things came full circle when Sandy learned that The Book Professor® had worked with Terry on You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. All the seemingly discordant signs were now pointing in one direction. So, Sandy joined an Executive Writing Group MASTERMIND program and set to work.

Every Book Needs a Purpose

Sandy expected a traditional high school English outline from Nancy’s coaching. Instead, before Sandy typed a word, Nancy asked her to write a purpose statement. What did Sandy want people to take away from her book? Who was her audience? Why should someone pick it up to begin with?

“People always say they want to write a book,” says Sandy, “but when Nancy forces you to put pen to paper and write a purpose statement of the book, you’re like…I don’t know!”

But the process proved invaluable. After crafting her statement and distilling her ideal outcomes, Sandy worked her way backward into a full outline for her manuscript. Every chapter also required the same reader-focused approach. After all, forming sentences without the bigger picture doesn’t produce a coherent, potent book.

For Sandy, it’s “just crazy” for her to compare her preconceptions to Nancy’s tutoring. Because Sandy used the BookMAP structure, she knew where to fill in the gaps. Once those missing pieces were finalized, Sandy held a published book in her hands.

“Nancy draws [it] out of you,” shares Sandy. “She just made it easy.”

In no large part because of her purpose statement, Sandy realized the true heart of her story was about “bold moves” instead of Tales of a Redheaded Stepchild. The stepchild concept was victimizing; Bold Moves was empowering. Here was the crystal-clear message Sandy wanted to impart. Bringing to life an improved version of her twenty-five year idea was an incredible experience.

The Power of a Creative Community

The Executive Mastermind cohort was a wealth of resources for Sandy. First and foremost among them? Accountability. Meeting with other writers on a weekly basis with the expectation of a finished weekly assignment gave her the drive she needed to complete her work consistently. Otherwise, Sandy knew she would make excuses and miss her deadlines.

Sandy also appreciated the camaraderie among her cohorts. There was an unspoken understanding that everyone struggled with the same hurdles, frustrations, and joys. Sandy felt validated as a writer and a person, and she received honest corrections if her draft was confusing.

When Bold Moves was released, Sandy knew her stories would resonate with readers because she witnessed that emotion firsthand inside her Group. After decades of insecurity, Sandy cherished that affirmation.

Living a Twice-Transformed Life

Since working with Nancy made Bold Moves an easy write, Sandy’s biggest obstacle was internal: letting her work go.

For months Sandy dug her heels in about publication despite having a final draft ready to roll. She was a businesswoman and highly visible in her community; how could she let her colleagues and employees read her deeply personal stories? Months went by with Sandy stuck in a holding pattern of her own making.

Nancy realized the root of Sandy’s problem and challenged her into action. Sandy appreciated Nancy’s honesty, and after speaking with her life coach, she agreed it was time for her twenty-five-year-old book to meet the world. Any repercussions, good or awkward, Sandy could handle as they appeared.

During the countdown to Bold Moves’s release, Nancy put one more challenge to Sandy: what would Sandy do when people asked her to coach them directly? People were undoubtedly going to ask for her help after Bold Moves; she needed to prepare for the eventuality.

Curious, Sandy researched the requirements for life coaching. She owned a marketing agency; she never considered pursuing this path prior to Nancy’s question. In the best experience of Sandy’s life, she earned her certification as a high-performance coach. Currently she coaches five clients one-on-one and leads two groups with the CHPC curriculum. Sandy was also certified under the Maxwell Leadership Program and founded a second business called Transform and Inspire LLC.

With such a vast array of curricula, workshops, trainings, and the experiences she chronicled in Bold Moves, Sandy feels she was born to help others through coaching. Seeing people change their lives “lights [her] up.” Deciding to write a book opened up two new worlds, and both stemmed from one conversation with her stepcousin.

Be Bold Enough to Write

After Bold Moves was published, Sandy received wonderful, thoughtful feedback. But she’s also heard one thing consistently: “I can’t write. I’m not a writer.”

To which Sandy responds, “You can be.”

Anyone interested in becoming an author must possess the confidence to start, the endurance to continue learning, and the support system of a professional like Nancy. The way The Book Professor®’s approach eased Sandy’s book out of her heart into an organized publication still amazes Sandy. Her goal was to uplift and assist survivors of emotional abuse. A proper writing coach helped cultivate her thoughts into impactful takeaways that readers can easily understand. Nancy’s mentorship was inspiring, and Sandy can’t imagine writing without that kind of guidance. “People have to just use her!”

From Victim to Victor

Sandy isn’t resting on her laurels after Bold Moves. She already aims to write two more books. Although nothing’s set in stone, one would help small marketing businesses organize their responsibilities. And although Sandy admits that Nancy taught her to not title a book before writing it, the skeleton key of Sandy’s second idea is the concept (and title) of Metamorphosis. She aims to elevate entrepreneurs to the next level through professional tactics as much as their personal mental health. Returning to The Book Professor® for both is an obvious “yes.”

For Sandy, Tales of a Redheaded Stepchild doesn’t exist anymore. She’s no longer a victim of abusive control; in fact, her life defies the very chains her mother tried to trap her within. Sandy is a whole person, independent and thriving. She reclaimed her power, discovered peace, and left a guiding light for other survivors through her passionate words.

Do you have a book living inside you but don’t know where to begin? Your story, and how you create it, is important to us. Take a leap of faith and reach out to The Book Professor® today!