With more than 500,000 followers as 'The Single Woman' on Twitter, Mandy Hale has become a sort of modern day Dear Abby for the blissfully unattached. Proving there's nothing out of reach for today's single ladies, Hale's latest venture, 'The Single Woman: Life, Love and a Dash of Sass', hit stores and online book retailers just last week. After just a week in release, 'The Single Woman: Life, Love and a Dash of Sass' e-book is currently #15 on Amazon's list of Inspirational/Christian Books, while the hardback is also rising up the chat at #20!
Taking a break from her busy promotional tour, I recently had a chance to chat with Mandy as part of my latest RAPID FIRE 20 Q. What follow is that conversation.
JONATHAN PINKERTON: How excited are you to have just released your new book, 'The Single Woman: Life, Love and a Dash of Sass'?
MANDY HALE: Could not be more thrilled! This has been almost four years in the making, and it’s really at the demand of my wonderful readers and Twitter followers, which makes it that much more special.
MANDY HALE: Absolutely. I started the page almost four years ago and the response was almost immediate. Women just flocked to it. They connected so strongly with the message that I knew pretty quickly that The Single Woman movement was going to be something really special. Literally from four years ago to now my entire life has changed. I’ve connected with some of the most amazing people and gotten to realize some really amazing dreams through the power of Twitter and social media, like working with Oprah, speaking at the Women of Faith conference…even my book deal came about as a result of Twitter! It really is such an amazing platform and the opportunities available for anyone with a message are endless.
JP: What was your first tweet?
MANDY HALE: “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun” by Katharine Hepburn, which really set the standard perfectly for the sassy, feisty, fun message I wanted to bring to the single women of the world.
JP: Among your celebrity Twitter followers are Kim Kardashian, Michelle Williams, and Nicholas Sparks. Who is the most unlikely celebrity who follows you?
MANDY HALE: Well, Kim actually unfollowed me when she got together with Kanye (pause for reaction…LOL!) but she unknowingly played a huge role in me getting a book deal! One of the VP’s of Marketing at Thomas Nelson was looking through Kim’s following list one day back when she still followed me and came across my page through Kim. Thomas Nelson reached out to me a short time later and we began discussions for the idea of doing a book. And the rest is history. So thanks, Kim! I’d say the most unlikely person following me is Nelson Mandela. I just discovered that the other day and nearly fell out of my chair! What a monumental privilege!
JP: OK, the Kim Kardashian following you thing never really did much for me. I know I'm in the anti-Kardashian minority, but Nelson Mandela, that's major! Having known you for some time, I have to admit, when I first heard you were posting as 'The Single Woman' I mistakenly felt like you might be doing your spin on Carrie Bradshaw, but you're so much more than that. The fictional character made popular by Sarah Jessica Parker's series 'Sex and the City' seems consumed on nabbing 'Mr. Big', while you celebrate being single. When did you first realize being single wasn't so bad?
MANDY HALE: Carrie definitely inspires my writing. I loved what that character, especially in the early days of the show, personified about single life. She was kind of a hot mess and always picked the wrong guys and bought shoes instead of paying her rent. I can relate! So I definitely feel a kinship with the character of Carrie Bradshaw, but my message errs a little more on the side of inspirational and faith-based without being preachy. My faith is very important to me, so it shines through everything that I do…but somewhere along the way, people got the mistaken impression that if you’re a woman of faith, you must be boring or matronly or dull, and that couldn’t be more untrue! I like to think I am bringing the sparkle and the sass back to spirituality. You can love God and still love shoes, too!
JP: As you mention, unlike Carrie and her pals, most notably the insatiable Samantha, your new book is very spiritual in nature. Is that something that's always been a part of your life?
MANDY HALE: Very much so. But instead of talking down to people and telling them how to live their lives, I like to talk WITH people and just lead by example. Your life speaks for itself, and if you’re spreading love and hope and compassion and forgiveness and joy…I think that’s the best living, breathing example of Christianity that there is.
JP: I feel the same way about talking WITH people instead of talking down to them. Something else we share is our style of writing. We both write basically like we speak. Much to the chagrin of my journalism professors, I've always written in a more conversational way. Do you think that's part of your universal relatability?
MANDY HALE: Definitely! I always hear from my ladies that they feel like I’m the big sister or the best friend that will tell them what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear and will do it with a little humor, realness, and sass. I don’t come at them from a place of “Oh, I’m this evolved guru who’s so much smarter and ‘more arrived’ than you and I’m going to tell you exactly how to live your lives,” I come at them from a place of “Oh, hey, I’m also single and down here in the trenches of dating life with you and experiencing horrible first dates and heartbreaks and career snafus and pressures from the media and society to be married 5 years ago and I’m going to share with you a little bit about my stumbles to hopefully prevent your falls. Is that okay?” And I think that’s what they really connect with. I’m one of them.
JP: Speaking of relatability. When I received my review copy of your new book, I must say, I really didn't expect to get much from it, but after having read it, I was wrong. A few switches in the pronoun and you've got life lessons everyone could use. That said, any plans to launch The Single Man? I have every confidence you could write it under a pseudonym.
MANDY HALE: No plans, as The Single Woman keeps me pretty busy these days, but I would definitely encourage it from any guys out there who are ready to rise up and start leading the positivity and “return to chivalry” parade for the gentlemen! I think both sexes could use a little encouragement and guidance as we go through this crazy journey of singleness, and though I’m not in a position to speak into the lives of single men, I definitely think it’s would be a great thing!
JP: A large majority of your posts are quotable quotes. Growing up, was there someone in your life who doled out advice in a similar fashion?
MANDY HALE: Not really. I’ve just always been a quote junkie. I grew up loving to read, and that appreciation of words and the power of the written word has always run deep in me.
JP: What is one piece of advice you remember to this day?
MANDY HALE: A huge mentor of mine in my early career was the late, great Chet Flippo. I was working in TV as a producer and writing for a weekly entertainment news show and loving life and thinking I had really arrived, and then one day, it all came to a very unexpected and heartbreaking end. And even though I was a lowly producer and Chet was as high on the TV totem pole as it got, he sent me the kindest email. It said: “You're one of the good ones. You have what it takes to be a really good writer. Mainly: discipline, the ability to listen, the ability to observe, and the ability to tell the story without letting anything else get in the way.” The wisdom and grace he carried himself with and spent his life personifying to everyone he encountered was just unparalleled. I’m so thankful I saved that email, because as a writer I have gone back to it many times in times when I’ve doubted myself or lost my way.
JP: That is awesome! Chet is indeed an icon in the entertainment industry. (Full disclosure time for my readers: those days in TV production are how you and I actually got to know each other and I'm grateful for that). Back to my questions. Is there a bit of advice you initially ignored, but later rethought?
MANDY HALE: It sounds so obvious, but just reading all the inspirational books on authenticity and hearing people say to me over the years: “Just be yourself, you’re enough” rather than trying to impress people or prove myself to people…it took me years to finally, finally get it. I never really understood the concept. I always thought I had to live up to the expectations of others and people please and struggle to fit in, but the moment I realized I was born to stand out (as we all are) and I STOPPED trying to impress people…I impressed them. It’s amazing how once you stop caring so much what other people think of you and just start living your life for you and following your own passions and doing what makes you come alive, how out of that comes your purpose. Once you stop trying to live up to other people’s expectations…you start defying them. In the most beautiful, magical ways.
JP: Are the majority of your quotes original, or do you cull thoughts you find from other sources that you think would be beneficial to your more than 500 thousand followers?
MANDY HALE: I’d say about 85%-90% are original, and the others I pull from all different sources. I’m always on Goodreads or Facebook or wherever, on the lookout for quotes that inspire me, because I know if they inspire me, they’ll inspire my ladies. I have about two dozen quote books in my collection, too. I literally eat, sleep, and breathe quotes. I regularly have to stop people in the middle of dinner or a movie or a conversation to text a quote to myself that I just thought of. It’s kind of funny how I talk in tweets now.
JP: From what I've read, your whole The Single Woman persona was the result of a bad relationship. Have you thanked him?
MANDY HALE: I haven’t, but I keep saying I need to send him a fruit basket! Ha! Honestly I don’t regret a moment of the relationship because I needed to really experience what I didn’t want to come to a place of understanding with myself about what I DO want…from life, from love, from my career. Along with what I will no longer accept or tolerate from a relationship. So as Jennifer Aniston would say, “No regrets. Just lessons.”
JP: You point out early on in your book that there is a plethora of books on subject like 'how to get a man', 'how to keep a man' and so on. Why do you think there aren't too many books like yours on truly enjoying life being a single woman?
MANDY HALE: Because no one has figured out how to do it! Society is too busy telling us all the things we’re NOT (married, mothers, engaged, pregnant, home-owners, whatever the case may be) to really celebrate us for everything that we ARE. I just think there has to come a point where as single women, we look around and realize it’s a great thing to hope for love and wish for love and even pray for love…but we can’t put out lives on hold waiting for love. We need to learn to appreciate and celebrate our lives at this very moment, this very colorful, undefined, evolving single life and all of its many possibilities and opportunities instead of wringing out hands over finding a man or thinking like a man or making a man fall in love with us. How about learning to love ourselves? I feel like when that becomes the focus, other people want to show up for that party. My message is all about living happily and letting the “Ever After” work itself out…and that’s what’s so special about this book. I literally feel like it’s the first of its kind.
JP: What was the progression in taking the word 'single' and turning it into something to celebrate?
MANDY HALE: I just decided that life is too short to be anything other than happy. Single or taken, happiness starts with YOU first, and if you can’t be happy on your own first, I really don’t believe introducing another person into the picture will magically make you happy. I just decided to live my life as big and as bold and as bravely as I could, whether someone joins me in it or not. It’s really pretty simple: you can be happy or you can be miserable. I choose happy!
JP: On that same note, was it a conscious effort to use the word 'single' so frequently in your quotes, or did it just happen naturally?
MANDY HALE: Honestly, no. It wasn’t a conscious effort. I just write about and tweet about things that I am going through or experiencing or struggling with, because I know if I’m going through it than someone else out there in the world is too. So whatever I need to hear at the moment is what I share with my readers. Sometimes it’s about single life, sometimes dreams, sometimes letting go, or friendships, or confidence, or setting goals, etc. etc. I actually have quite a few married people who have connected with my message, too. It’s really all about living your best life in whatever season of life you happen to be in.
JP: A prime example of your clever use of the word single in a quote, appears in your book 'True strength is knowing you don't have to be strong every single second of the day'. As I mentioned in a post on Instagram the other day, it's my favorite quote in your new book. Do you have a personal favorite of your own quotes?
MANDY HALE: I have quite a few! I really love “Make no apologies for following your heart. A woman on a mission needs no permission!” and “Not everyone has to ride off into the sunset with a man. Some of us just want a tan” and “The real fairytale is designing a life that’s so fabulous, you don’t want to be rescued from it.”
JP: Wow, I love that last one. In your journey to embrace your single life, is there one thing that you initially resisted doing alone that you now cherish?
MANDY HALE: Going to movies alone. I only started doing this in the past three years or so and now I like going alone better than with friends! It’s just so empowering doing something small like that alone, because it makes you realize that you don’t need the security blanket of another person there and you don’t have to let being single stop you from doing the things that you love. Plus it’s just fun and relaxing and a nice little two-hour oasis from the craziness of life. I highly recommend it to anyone who has never tried it!
JP: In addition to your new book being available in bookstores everywhere and anywhere online where you can buy books, and your huge presence on Twitter and Instagram (@TheSingleWoman on both sites), where else can fans keep up with what's going on in your world?
MANDY HALE: My website is TheSingleWoman.net, and that’s where you’ll find my blog, my products and tons of other fun stuff. We actually just launched the new website last week and it looks amazing! I’m also on Facebook at …you guessed it...The Single Woman.
MANDY HALE: Really focusing on this book for the next few months, and then my second book comes out in March 2014. It’s called 'I’ve Never Been to Vegas but My Luggage Has' and it goes a little more in depth into my story up to this point and some of the adventures and misadventures I’ve had along the way. It’s all about how the journey to Happily Ever After can often even more life-changing and significant than the destination. Other than that…who knows? I’m open to wherever this path leads me. I think there are so many different platforms for The Single Woman message and I look forward to carrying it to the four corners of the world!
Having already appeared at book signings in and around her home-base of Nashville, Mandy's current promotional tour for 'The Single Woman: Life, Love and a Dash of Sass' will next take her to the studios of 'The 700 Club'. Mandy's segment about living the single life will air Wednesday, August 21. Be sure and check out TheSingleWoman.net for the latest news about the book and Mandy's continuing journey as everyone's favorite Single Woman. If you order the book directly from TheSingleWoman.net, you will receive a free gift from Mandy, as well as a chance to be part of a Private Google Hangout with Mandy and nine of her readers. Also currently on the site, a special promotional drawing, so check it out. 'The Single Woman: Life, Love and a Dash of Sass' is published by Thomas Nelson, a division of Harper Collins, and is available at bookstores and online in both a hardcover and digital version.
If you've enjoyed my latest installment of RAPID FIRE 20 Q featuring The Single Woman, Mandy Hale, be sure and subscribe to my Nashville Celebrity Column by clicking the 'Subscribe' tab located at the end of this article.
In the meantime, check out ALL of my National Columns, as well as my Nashville-based Celebrity News Column via the links below: