The 10 Best Coffee Shops For Writers…And None Of Them Are Starbucks!

*Previously seen on Fine Lines*

By: Nicole McArdle

I asked a group of writers some of their favorite places to get their best writing done. Although I’m a proud Gold Card member, I’m not talking about the corner Starbucks. I asked for the real coffee shops of the U.S. You know, those cozy shops with their own unique flair, filled with regulars and inspiration. Needless to say I was overwhelmed by the responses…

1- Tattered Cover– Located In: Denver, Colorado 

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This little shop is not only cozy but is also a great place to buy your newest read, all while filling up on local treats and organic coffee. Our favorite part, if you bring your own mug there’s a discount!

Must Try Snack While You Write: TC Muffin
Must Try Drink While You Write: Fresh brewed gourmet tea

2- Rhino Coffee Located In: Shreveport, LA

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If you need the great outdoors to spark your inspiration, Rhino Coffee is for you. A coffee place created to fill the need for an independent coffee shop. With homemade food and a comfortable atmosphere, Rhino hopes its coffee makes the day better for their customers.

Must Try Snack While You Write: Rhino Burrito
Must Try Drink While You Write: Iced Lightning

3- Bard Coffee– Located In: Portland, Maine 

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A quaint shop filled with tattered books and amazing coffee, Bard Coffee is the epitome of a writers coffee shop. Best known for their friendly staff , delicious coffee and tasty treats, you’ll often find other writers and bloggers to chat with.

Must Try Snack While You Write: Danish
Must Try Drink While You Write: Hot Vietnamese Coffee

4- Peekskill Coffee– Located In: Peekskill, NY

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An open air space with plenty of unique seating options. This shop is commonly known as “Peekskill’s Living Room” and has been described as the perfect place to grab a bite and get some work done. With a recommended “coffee of the week” and a wide variety of food options, this is one you’re not going to want to miss.

Must Try Snack While You Write: Italian Stallion Crepe
Must Try Drink While You Write: Try the Coffee Of The Week to indulge in coffee from around the world.

5- Grey Dog – Located In: NYC

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Nestled in various parts of the city, there’s no excuse for local writers and readers not to experience what it means to dine at Grey Dog. With an amazing selection of breakfast dishes and strong brewed coffee, Grey Dog is a perfect place to go for those who get their best writing done in the morning.

Must Try Snack While You Write: Challah French Toast
Must Try Drink While You Write: Mexican Hot Chocolate

6- Simply Coffee- Located In: Burbank, CA

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Described as a “charming little shop” owned by local favorite, Gonzalo, Simply Coffee is simply wonderful. Perfect for those who need to get a full days worth of writing and who need a lot of caffeine to do it, the one dollar refills will keep your writing fueled for hours on end.

Must Try Snack While You Write: Le Fremier Panini
Must Try Drink While You Write: Cinnamon mocha latte

7- Blue Moose Café- Located In: Morgantown, WV 

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The Blue Moose Cafe isn’t just your run of the mill coffee house, it is also a cultural center. The shop hosts readings, art events, live music and other activities to bring the community together. Our favorite part? They’ve just added a room where customers can enjoy quiet and sunshine while sipping on gourmet coffee. Blissful.

Must Try Snack While You Write: World’s Best Cookie
Must Try Drink While You Write: Death Charge

8- Central Cafe – Located In: Brooklyn, NY

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A beautiful garden, breakfast all day long, strong coffee and the option to buy beer or wine, what more could a writer ask for?

Must Try Snack While You Write: Green bagel
Must Try Drink While You Write: Nutella Latte

9- Courier Coffee Roasters- Located In: Portland, OR 

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Sit down with your laptop and prepare yourself with what has been described as “quite literally the freshest cup of coffee you’ll get in PDX” Best part? If you feel like doing your writing from the comforts of home, Courier delivers their brew by bike (take the hint Starbucks!)

Must Try Snack While You Write: Muesli
Must Try Drink While You Write: Felchlin Chocolate Mocha

10- Artifact Coffee Located In: Baltimore, MD 

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Equipped with plenty of outlets, a wide selection of music on vinyl and a cozy cottage feel, Artifact has all the makings of great inspiration for your daily writing. As an added bonus, stop by on Fridays at 10 AM for free coffee cupping.

Must Try Snack While You Write: Doughnuts (They make their own!)
Must Try Drink While You Write: Honey Macchiatto

What are some of your favorite coffee shops to write in? 


Uploading To CreateSpace Doesn’t Make You An Author

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*Originally seen on Fine Lines*

As someone who works primarily with self-published authors, I’m often asked advice on the publishing process. Which is better, traditional or self? Simple. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. How much should I spend on publishing my novel? Well, you need professional services and that’s going to cost you, but there are ways for you to raise the funds to pay for this. 

Then, more often than I’d care to admit, I’m asked the question, or in many instances told boldly, something that always manages to leave me perplexed. 

“Why can’t I just upload my book on to CreateSpace?”


 “I’m already a published author, I used CreateSpace to publish my book.”

If you’ve said these words before, I’m assuming you’ve had your book professionally edited, hired a professional cover designer, properly branded yourself and have a strategic marketing plan in place. Assuming all of this is in fact done, then absolutely, you’re ready to upload directly to CreateSpace. If, however, you’ve overlooked any of the above requirements, then I am sorry to say that you do not have the right to categorize yourself a published author…yet

If you’re an author looking to self-publish, I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with what CreateSpace has to offer. When used correctly, it’s a great tool that essentially provides everyone the space to sell their book on Amazon. However, this feature can also be considered its fault. Once uploaded, the question quickly changes from “who will buy my book” to “who is actually seeing it?” What separates your book from the rest?

There’s no secret to a books success, but if you don’t take the time to make your story known while building up a following, then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. Without a differentiator, you most likely won’t sell many copies, leaving your book amongst thousands of others to collect “e-dust” on a virtual shelf.

So, what sets a real, published author apart from a CreateSpace one? Published authors spend time developing an audience. They work on strategic ways to introduce this book to the world and know the importance of treating their book like their business. Through this process, authors learn to give their book the necessary patience, love, time and money it needs to grow, and they never stop believing in its success. The message to be learned is true for all authors – if time and effort hasn’t been put into publishing a book, then why should readers put time and effort into reading it, let alone care about it? 

Self-publishing has for some time, carried somewhat of a negative stigma in the industry. Self-published titles of the past were equated to low quality and poorly edited work. It was thought that writers who couldn’t get published traditionally, jumped to self-publishing as a last attempt to get their work out there. Fortunately, with persistence and fine-tuning, self-publishing has made great strides and has become a viable and optimal choice for many authors.  Due in part to the rise of best-selling, self-published titles, this approach has earned great respect and is slowly becoming the go to publishing option. If it’s continued to be used incorrectly, CreateSpace will be a hindrance to authors, ultimately preventing the self-publishing industry from continuing to flourish. 

So what can be done to prevent this? Guidance for starters, should be available for new authors who know little about what really goes into the publishing process. There should be boxes to check before being able to hit that “submit” button. It should be, at the very least, mandatory to have your book edited before submission. 

Unfortunately for the industry, this is not the case. Why? Because the appeal of simply uploading your book and instantly being amongst Amazon’s literary library is just too strong. In a world where instant gratification is the root of the majority of our purchasing decisions, it only makes sense that writers would want to become instant “authors”. However, writing and publishing a book isn’t supposed to be easy or instant. It’s a tedious process for a reason and frankly, should remain this way.

Somewhere along the line, some authors began equating self-publishing to publishing instantly and lack of education and guidance will allow this misconception to continue. Just because you’re self-publishing doesn’t mean you have to go through the process alone. There are many self-publishing companies that can help you achieve the success your book deserves. Lulu and FastPencil are both great DIY self-publishing companies that allow authors to pick and choose the services best suited for their needs. There are also hybrid publishers such as Wise Ink Creative Publishing who work closely with their authors to help customize plans while helping to publish the book of their dreams. 

Choosing self-publishing is an admirable route to take. Though the appeal of instant authorship may become more enticing the longer you work on your book, it’s important to remember this- Explore your options and take your time. Do not rush this process. Give it the TLC that it needs and deserves before continuing down this road. I promise you, your effort will be worth it in the end.

Why Should Your Book Have To Compete With Potato Salad?

An Open Letter To Crowdfunded Authors 
Written by: Nicole McArdle 

*Originally seen on Pubslush Blog*

While America was transfixed with a $50,000 mundane side dish, I was preoccupied by Jedidiah Jenkins, who was conducting a campaign to raise funds for an autobiographical novel about his 16 month journey from Oregon to Patagonia…by bike. To date, this inspirational novel has made exactly $19,818 less than the $50,000+ potato salad plea,whose inspiration came from joking with friends. ”I figured my friends would laugh, and their friends would laugh,” said Zack Danger Brown, the potato salad mastermind. “That was all I needed.”

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Compare this inspiration to Jenkin’s, who described his campaign by quoting Benjamin Franklin: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” This is my attempt to do both.

So how do all of the other campaigners feel? Particularly authors? The ones who have poured their heart and soul into their projects but can’t seem to make anywhere close to $50,000? Does having an author share a space with a bogus, yet widely successful, fully-funded campaign take away from the validity of their book? Doesn’t it just steal the spotlight all together?

I work with authors on a daily basis. I see their constant struggle of not only getting their work known, but in raising funds and differentiating themselves in this oversaturated literary market. I’ve worked with authors whose stories would break your heart, who utilized every resource and worked for every dollar that was contributed to their campaign. I can tell you none of them were able to make 50 grand in 20 days for their upcoming title. Perhaps it’s the simplicity and joy that this silly campaign brought that inspired people to give their money to something lacking any sort of substance or benefit at the end. But what about the authors who have a great story to share?

The grieving mother who wrote a book to help other grieving mothers deal with the loss of their child. The recovering anorexic who wrote a book to help others with their own recovery. Or how about the journalist’s biography of the life and death of her father, a flier in World War II. They each differ in subject and crowdfunding sites, yet they all share a commonality. Each of these three campaigns were something worth supporting and in total, all three were only able to raise a little over $50,000.

Crowdfunding Campaigns

Kickstarter is a platform to be respected and admired. After all, they’ve arguably made the crowdfunding industry what it is today, proven in the fact that “the term is eight times more popular on the internet than the generic “crowdfunding” However, as their popularity continues to grow off the basis of many different types of campaigns, both serious and otherwise, this has led me to wonder, why are authors not exploring their options? It’s obvious that the allure of Kickstarter and other such sites like Indiegogo is their daily traffic, but why are authors opting to have their work overshadowed by campaigns that have nothing to do with literature? To be glanced over by users, not readers? To be hosted on a site that is “a home for everything” and not just “the literary world?”

My personal belief is that an author shouldn’t have to worry that the traffic they strive for is going to take a left turn towards grilled cheesus, bacon cupcakes or the first ever all-pug production of Hamlet. It has been a long road to gaining credibility as a self-published author and it seems to me that competing side by side with aircrafts that teach flying birds to fly or socks made of coffee, will only set this movement back.

Silly Crowdfunding Campaigns

So this is my message to all the hardworking authors out there. Your book is your business, so treat it with the respect it deserves. There are sites out there for the literary community. Sites where completing your campaign means collecting pre-orders, gaining market analytics and connecting with others in the industry. Sites that are dedicated to providing the support and resources necessary to accomplish your goals…reach your dreams. Where traffic is made up of lifetime readers and fans and the closest a book comes to food, is a colorful cookbook gaining funding for printing. Authors, know your worth and explore your options. You have the opportunity to prove your talent and assess the market viability for your book on platforms that are “all about you”, so you can move forward and  successfully publish quality work and get out of that slush pile once and for all. Don’t let a little (okay, a lot of) potato salad stand in your way.

Your Book Is Your Business- An Open Letter To Authors Everywhere

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*Originally seen on Fine Lines*
Dear Author,

Let me begin by saying, congratulations. Congratulations on making it as far as you have in your writing process, whether it’s typing that first sentence, or finishing that last chapter. I understand the journey has been an interesting one, to say the least. Drafts, edits, plot twists, writing sessions that went so long into the night that the words started to blur and your coffee cups started piling up. Writing, if you can believe it, will be the easy part. Getting your work out there to the world will ultimately become the real challenge.

So how do you share your final product, the end result of those endless hours of clicking away at your keyboard? Where do you begin? In a rapidly changing publishing world, the rules have completely changed, leaving authors scrambling to catch up.

I advise you to start by remembering these five important words: your book is your business. Make this your mantra, and when you’re ready to take on your next chapter, take note of these 8 important steps.

1- Mind over matter.

The first step to selling your book is simply to change your mindset from author to entrepreneur. From the time you decide to sit down and start writing, to the time you print the finished product, having this mindset will help you execute key marketing tactics.

With this newfound perspective, you’ll be able to develop your marketing plan—a complete outline of the business behind your book—What is your book about? Who is your reader and why should they be interested? How will you reach them?

2- Who are your people?

Who is reading your book? Identifying your target market will help to ensure that you don’t waste time promoting to an audience who wouldn’t be interested. Have a variety of people read your book—young, old, male, female. Also, try to reach out to people outside of the family, who won’t give you a biased opinion.

3- How do you plan on promoting your book to the public?

So you’ve identified your tribe, but how do you reach them? A great place to start is social media, but determining which platform to use is entirely up to you. I strongly urge you to not attempt to use all of them, as this will just be tiring and counterproductive. Instead, find one that you feel is easiest to use, which also has a strong audience of readers and writers such as Twitter. Once you’ve discovered a home to connect with your audience, decide on your message.

4- What do you want from your tribe?

Aside from sales, what are you looking to gain from your audience? Friendship? Feedback? A networking community? By deciding on your message, you will be able to discover a specific tone that is your own. Are you the funny tweeter, the photo sharing Facebooker, or the story telling blogger? Creating and sticking to a particular tone and scheduling posts accordingly will be your first steps to developing your online personality. From there you can build relationships and start connecting. Whether you favorite tweets, like posts, or comment on LinkedIn articles, begin engaging with other users. Doing so, in an organic way, will build connections and will hopefully solidify new readers.

5- So you have the home and the tribe, now what?

Keep your network in the loop. These people are your new friends, and just like your real life friends, they want to be kept up to date with what you’re working on. The more connected you become, the more likely they are to help you celebrate your successes and promote your achievements, be it by purchasing your book or by recommending it to a friend. Hey, that’s what friends are for.

6- Book people tend to love other book people.

Once you’ve connected with a tribe, continue to branch out. Find bloggers who host book tours for authors, or simply write about topics relating to your book. Create a standard template to send out. You could request a book review, offer to participate in a giveaway, or do a blog swap. Bloggers can become your new best friends and reaching out will help to increase exposure to your book.

7- Get your wallet ready…publishing is expensive.

When done right, publishing is not for those with empty pockets. I urge, beg, plead with you, if you take one piece of advice from this entire article, let it be this. Do not skimp out on an editor or cover designer. You can have the best book in the world, but if your cover looks like it was created on Paint (you know, from Microsoft Windows), nobody will pick it up and chances are the people who are picking it up aren’t the ones you want reading it. On the same note, a poorly edited book just screams that you rushed to publish. It’s unprofessional, cheapens your brand, and will make it that much harder to be taken seriously. There are plenty of great ways to build buzz and raise funds for your book, so please take the time to research them before hitting upload on CreateSpace.

 8- If J.K. Rowling couldn’t do it, neither will you.

This final lesson is a blunt one so listen up. Your book will not be an instant success and if it is, credit my helpful guide so I can retire early.

For everyone else, know this- there will be a point where your frustration starts to kick in. At this point, you may begin to go through various stages of author rage: Such as comparing your book to successfully published books or going into a false sense of acceptance, like, “Maybe this is a sign. If my book were meant to make it big, it would have already.” Or, my personal favorite, the desperate plea stage, which usually involves an abundance of posts all begging people to buy or review your book.

You’re better than this author.

Harry Potter went through 12 rejections before winning the Quidditch Cup equivalent of a publishing deal. You know your book is great, your tribe knows your book is great, so remember the three P’s. Persistence and patience will help you persevere. If you give up on your book, you’re telling the world your book isn’t very good and we both know you’ve worked too hard to admit defeat anytime soon.

I look forward to reading your upcoming book. As always, I’m happy to help with any of your marketing needs and am always eager to answer any questions you may have.


Nicole McArdle