I promise to learn new things and share what works.

What do you want to learn?

I’m Robin Van Auken, and I’m a professional researcher and writer. My company, Hands-on Heritage, collaborates with museum designers to develop outstanding visitor experiences that conserve cultural and environmental legacies.

My educational background is in anthropology (archaeology) and journalism. I’m also the author and co-author of a few regional history books, including “Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball.”

Robin Van Auken with Hands-on Heritage

After dabbling in fiction and creative writing most of my life, I decided to take a leap of faith and in 2011, I self-published my first novel. It was six years in the making, and nobody knew it existed. In fact, few people knew it existed even after I published it.

I had created a body of work in the historical, non-fiction genre, and I didn’t want people to know about my novels, which combine elements of several genres, including adventure, suspense, thriller, and romance. I wrote under the pen name of Madeline Sloane.

On one hand, I loved the personal freedom a nome de plume offered but maintaining two personas, two author platforms, and two websites became exhausting. Both of my author platforms suffered.

Before and during my transition from Madeline Sloane to Robin Van Auken, I couldn’t relax and write. Tension crept in, and I was faced with two conflicting goals: I wanted my new novel to be the best possible story, but I wanted it finished and out of the way. These feelings tugged me into different directions and the result was frustration at my frozen state. I couldn’t move forward. I lost interest in my novel, and it suffered.

But that is a story of a different time and place. If you want to know why I’m interested in learning new things, sharing what works, and writing, read WHY >

I have one more confession. I’m also a Professional Archaeologist, one of the coolest careers I could imagine (except for being a writer). After pursuing a writing degree for years, I switched in my last year to Anthropology/Archaeology Track. This heaped on several more years of university, but it was an exhilarating choice, and one I’ve enjoyed tremendously.

As an archaeologist, I’ve directed multi-year dig projects, and worked with hundreds of volunteers, and educated thousands of visitors. In 2015, I added underwater archaeology and PADI scuba training to my research toolkit, enabling me to investigate maritime archaeology sites.

And yes, I taught both Writing and Archaeology at the college level. Throughout my varied career, I’ve developed many skills and these are what I bring to the table. Below is a sampling of my knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Communication Specialties:
Writing, editing, researching, interviewing, instructing, organizing workshops, developing website content, strategic marketing plans, app development,  social media organizational plans, public relations, video production, graphic design, and most activities within general print and digital communications.

Educational Specialties:
Experience developing curricula for for students of all ages. Confident speaker for groups, small and large. Experience mentoring and advising students, and overseeing independent projects and internships.

Heritage Specialties:
Researching, writing reports, museum curation, cultural consultation, conducting oral histories, videotaping interviews, instructing, organizing public archaeology digs, overseeing field schools, historic and prehistoric site survey.


I’ve been a writer for decades. It began after I absconded with my Mum’s portable typewriter at the age of 12. I set up an “office” and began writing short stories and poetry, which segued into a journalism career after attending university.

Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball by Lance and Robin Van Auken

In 2001, I co-authored a book with my husband, Lance Van Auken, and launched my freelance writing career. Although we published “Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball” with a traditional, small press (Penn State University Press), I acted as my own agent, negotiating the contract. We received a $10,000 advance, and that was the end of the royalties. The book never earned the advance we received.

We actually believed the book would soar to the bestseller list, but the publisher was small (academic) and it did not have the capital to sustain a massive promotional campaign.

Our editor was honest with me when he said, “Robin, the average book has the shelf-life of a tomato.”

I was floored!  The publisher was already moving on to its next big book launch, and our book was already out of sight, out of mind. We enjoyed the experience of working with a stellar team and brilliant people, but we learned an important lesson: We needed control of our books.

I’ve since partnered with a unique business owner, Wendy Dean of The Omnibus Publishing to reprint our book, Play Ball! and I’m excited about the possibilities. This time, we keep ownership of the copyright, we’ll use the power of social media and strategic, guerrilla marketing and hit this book launch out of the park!

I’ve authored (and co-authored) 10 books of regional history, and five novels (the sixth novel is a work in progress, but it’s close!). I’ve published with traditional presses, as well as local presses, yet I choose to be an indie author.

My books are going to live forever, now that the digital press has come of age. My books will continue to be promoted and sold, and if they succeed or fail, it’s not because my hands are tied, but because I didn’t try hard enough.

I embrace the challenge of learning how to market with today’s Internet marketing challenges. The rules change quickly, new opportunities arise, and what worked yesterday may not work today. It can be frustrating, but it also keeps me on my toes and in a state of active learning.

My passion is to learn new things and share what works, and that’s what Wholehearted Author is about — learning and sharing the things that work for indie authors writing, publishing, and marketing books today.

You’re welcome to enjoy my library of blog posts and download all of my FREE guides and workbooks.

Ready for a Challenge?

Have even more fun when you accept the 21-Day Writing Sprint Challenge. This process is one I use every semester with my college students, so I know it can kickstart your creativity and introduce structure to your writing schedule. When you join my Circle of Writers & Authors, you’ll receive FREE writing resources, and you’ll sign up for my newsletter. I will not sell your information, or spam you. I will send you updates about new articles and podcasts I’ve created, and projects I’m working on. You can unsubscribe at anytime. Read my Privacy Policy here.

Wholehearted Author is for you if you are …

  • Starting out as a writer and could use some guidance
  • Wanting to be inspired to create and publish your book
  • Looking for like-minded, happy people and helpful mentors
  • Hoping to turn your writing into a full-time, awesome career
  • New to the concept of “permission marketing” but willing to try


Add WEST WIND to your library!

If you love a good mystery, a romantic whodunit that will surprise you, then WEST WIND is a great addition to your ebook library.

West Wind is my third novel as an author of Contemporary Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, and Romance.  It’s FREE too, when you join my exclusive Readers Group. Join today and download your free book, and as a special thank you, you’ll receive a SECOND FREE BOOK tomorrow! The giving goes on and on when you become my fan.

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