Interview with Dr. Ronald J. Frederick, Author of Living Like You Mean It

Ronald J. Frederick, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and life coach, with over 15 years of experience helping people get the life they really want. A long-time proponent of the transforming power of emotion, he co-founded the Center for Courageous Living, which offers innovative therapy, coaching and consulting. Noted for his warmth, humor, and engaging presentation style, he lectures and facilitates workshops nationally.

Frederick is a senior faculty member of the Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) Institute, as well as the Clinical Supervisor of Park House, an outpatient program at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

He is also the author of Living Like You Mean It. We interviewed him to find out more about his new book.


Welcome to The Writer's Life, Dr. Frederick! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Sure. I’m actually not a writer by trade. I’m a psychologist who, among a number of things, writes. Over the years I’ve written a number of journal articles and book chapters, but Living Like You Mean It is my first book.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Living Like You Mean It is a self-help book published by Jossey-Bass, a division of Wiley. Based on cutting-edge science, it shares my proven four-step approach to overcoming fear and becoming more emotionally present in one's life and relationships.

I was inspired to write Living Like You Mean It by my own life-changing experience. I was in my early thirties, had just finished my doctoral studies, and despite having everything going for me, I hit a wall. I was in relationship I frequently questioned and found myself filled with trepidation and fear about moving forward. I ended up in therapy and discovered, rather surprisingly, that the anxiety I was experiencing at the time had so much to do with being uncomfortable with what I really felt deep down inside. I had become so afraid of my emotions, of listening to and trusting my true feelings, that I couldn’t hear the voice of my deepest self buried somewhere inside me—the voice that knew what I wanted, knew what I longed for, knew what felt right to me and what felt wrong. I might have gone on doubting myself forever had I not gotten the help I needed to recognize what, in fact, I really was afraid of and to learn how to overcome my fears, accept and embrace my emotional self, and really connect with others. The experience changed my life. My anxiety decreased, I stopped doubting myself and felt much more confident and in touch with my personal truth. I found it much easier to be emotionally present and felt closer to the people in my life. Ultimately, I found the courage to listen to and trust my heart and move forward, to leave the relationship I was in, and to realize the kind of relationship and life I had dreamed of having.

When you have an experience like that, when your life is changed in such a dramatic way, you want to spread the good stuff around. The more people I’ve been able to help, and the more I witness the dramatic changes that can take place when we develop the ability to be with and share our feelings, the more I have felt compelled to spread the word. I guess you can say that it’s become a mission for me: to help people to wake up to their feelings and get the lives they really want. I wrote this book to help people do just that.

What kind of research did you have to conduct to write your book?

A part of the “research” for this book came from my own experience which, I believe, made it possible to write from a very personal place of understanding. In addition, my approach is solidly based on cutting-edge findings from the fields of affective neuroscience, brain development, and attachment studies. As a psychologist, I was already familiar with much of this work, but I looked into it more deeply as I sought to flesh out my approach, make sure I had covered all the bases, and to find a way to articulate the main points in a readily accessible way. As a result, the program I suggest, while easy to understand and implement, is not the kind of anecdotal, “quick fix” found in so many self-help books. Instead, it offers tools that have the potential to fundamentally change the way our brain works and truly transform lives.


How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

Some. I was shown two cover designs and asked for input. Fortunately both designs were beautiful and my editor and I both agreed on which one we liked best. However, there was a little bit of an issue. In the middle of the cover there is a flower design. Originally it was a lotus and I had reservations about using a lotus, particular. To my mind, the lotus connoted too much of an Eastern influence. While I talk about emotional mindfulness, it’s not a book on meditation or anything like that. Initially the publisher didn’t agree. Here’s where it was helpful to have an agent on your side. My agent stepped in, very politely, and encouraged them to get input from the marketing/sales division. A few days later we heard back that they decided to change it. In the end, I love the cover of my book!


Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

BUMPY! Over the course of two years, I did about three rounds of submissions to literary agents and got a lot of rejections. After the first round, I went back to the drawing board and worked on my proposal (which included the first three chapters of the book) with a writing coach for about a year and then tried again. After the second round of rejections, I decided to hire both an editorial consultant and a marketing consultant, both of whom were recommended to me by colleagues and turned out to be extremely helpful. I then did my third round of submissions and, fortunately, two agents wanted to work with me. Interestingly, both of them remarked that my proposal was far better than most things that come across their desk. I guess all the work was worth it! The agent I decided to go with then began pitching it to the different publishing houses and within a few weeks we had offers from two. While each round of rejections was a blow, they also motivated me to work harder, to reach out to others for help, and to find a way to crack the code! But, I will say that by the time I got to my last round of submissions, I had doubts about continuing. I figured that I had given about 2.5 years of my life to this project and, if it didn’t fly this time, maybe the universe was telling me it was time to put my focus somewhere else. Fortunately, it finally took flight.


For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

Once I signed the contract with my publisher, I then had eight months to finish the book. Nine month after that it was on the bookshelves for sale.


Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Yes, I’m with Vigliano Associates in NYC. The agent there that represented me on this book was Dan Ambrosio. I’m now working with James McGinniss at Vigliano.


Do you plan subsequent books?

At some point but, right now, my main focus is on promoting this one.


Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Morning. By the time I get to the evening I can barely string a sentence together!

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

I would have hired someone else to do my internet book launch. I did it myself and, while it was quite successful, it was a ton of work.


How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Quite frankly, if you don’t promote your book, no one is going to do it for you. So, to my mind, self-promotion is essential. I did an internet book launch to get the ball rolling. You can check it out at: In addition: I developed a book website; hired a local PR person who got me several media spots on television and radio; did a few book signings; took an ad out in Radio Television Interview Report (RTIR); am working with a national PR firm; am doing workshops and speaking engagements; and, hired “Pump Up Your Book Promotion” to organize a virtual tour.


Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Getting a book published has so much to do with being tenacious. For me, it was four years from start to finish, with many road blocks along the way. I’m so glad that I persevered despite all the rejection, all the hurdles, all the down times. That I reached out to others for help and that I stuck with it as long as I did. I can hardly believe it sometimes when I’m holding the book in my hands that it’s actually come to fruition. It’s been quite a ride. So, don’t despair. Hang in there and keep at it!


Thank you for coming, Dr. Frederick! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Sure! You can find out more about me and my new book at:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for profiling my book! Best, Ron Frederick


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