Martha LaGuardia-Kotite rounded photo

Martha LaGuardia-Kotite

Award-winning Author, Ghostwriter & Professional Speaker

What was your first writing gig?

I moved to Astoria, Oregon to join my shipmates aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute after graduating from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. We soon got underway for Alaska where I volunteered to do the job no one wanted to do: serve as the public affairs officer for the ship representing the U.S. Coast Guard during the Exxon Valdez oil spill clean-up in Prince William Sound. I wrote press releases,  gave interviews and got to know the people who lived there, helping them understand what was being done to clean up the beaches and help them recover.

My shipboard experiences in Alaska, the West Coast of North and Central America and as second in command of a 110' patrol boat, led me to seek opportunities and fulfill my passion for writing and telling stories. My adventures at sea and ashore enriched my opportunities to write and talk about extraordinary rescues, men and women, tragic events, drug busts and even whaling and fishery cases from the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and beyond.


How’d you get a job in Manhattan?

When I left active duty and transitioned into the reserves (part-time U.S. Coast Guard work), I was a well-known public information officer. My skills were relatable to the needs of a technology public relations firm in Manhattan. Offered a job, I moved into the city, helping clients like IBM achieve their goals by telling their client and product stories.

I’ve appeared on national television and have been interviewed by top-tier newspapers and magazines around the country about my technology and financial clients which included IBM.


When you broke into the publishing industry, what did you write about?

I drew upon my experiences and the heroes I met to become an award-winning author. My love of writing continued into the freelance world as a journalist. I've placed my stories with top newspapers like the Boston Globe and regional magazines.

I enjoy writing about extraordinary adventures and challenging topics, which, in turn, I hope make a difference through awareness and inspiration. My books celebrate unsung people - men and women who are inspiring and humbling – who reveal their stories of courage and survival – moments when they nearly died or might have given up. Instead, they called upon their inner strength and achieved their goal, survived.

My first book, So Others May Live: Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers Saving Lives, Defying Death (The Lyons Press, 2006 and 2008) won four awards. I authored Changing the Rules of Engagement: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Leadership from Women in the Military (University of Nebraska Press) in 2012 and that same year, with Trish Marx, we published a tribute to the power and presence of our national flag My Name Is Old Glory, (The Lyons Press).  Two more of my books were written for foundations, collaborations documenting their stories.


Why are you passionate about book collaborations and ghostwriting?

It's authentic, rewarding. I like writing about companies and foundations or real people facing life challenges and how they survived tests of resilience.

This is a fantastic way to help people and organizations that have valuable ideas and history but, don't have time to write a book.

Working side-by-side with my co-author Trish Marx on our book about the Nation’s flag and with the Coast Guard Foundation to create a book celebrating their history gave me the chance to do what I’ve enjoyed doing all along: ask thoughtful questions to produce ideas and help individuals develop clarity about their own stories. I can refine and craft their interviews into chapters. These chapters come together as an intriguing book.

My newest collaboration is a book for young adults called Innovators: Rock Stars of STEM. This partnership with Engineers for America and a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math/Medical (STEM) school inspires up and coming generations of young adults to consider these fields as careers –areas too few young women and men think about pursuing as a career.


Why are you so passionate about talking with students, serving as a professional speaker for corporations and women and men of all ages?

One of the greatest joys I have received from my work are invitations to lend my experience to talk about leadership. Leaning on my military service and leadership insights, I've addressed diverse audiences as a keynote speaker or as a presenter for schools, graduations, book clubs and professional organizations and corporations.

My career in the U.S. Coast Guard and work in New York City have given me plenty of experiences to learn about leading in a crisis and at the highest levels of government and corporate industries.

I've served as the Commandant’s Press Secretary in Washington D.C. working with the White House and Department of Homeland Security through the bookends of this assignment: the Haitian earthquake in 2010 and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

When Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast seaboard, I responded to help as the Coast Guard Emergency Preparedness Liaison Coordinator for FEMA Regions II and I (New York and Boston). During the triple disasters of the summer of 2017, I served as the lead U.S. Coast Guard liaison in the Florida State Emergency Operations Center before hurricanes Irma/Maria spun up the entire state. I worked through the aftermath.

I witnessed chaos, I helped find solutions. I lead a team through the crisis to help save lives and provide shelter and security for those in need.

This work ethic is something I apply to my writing projects and goals. Five books published, numerous articles published. I'm ready for more. I'm ready to help you.


What inspired you to go to Harvard University?

While working as a public relations professional in Manhattan and officer for the U.S. Coast Guard, I received a lot of training and on the job experience. A life-long learner, I knew taking my passion to another level by earning a master’s degree would round out my skills or quite simply help me achieve my bigger dream - validation. After doing some research, I discovered Harvard University offered a Masters in Liberal Arts for journalism. I applied, got accepted and moved to Cambridge, Mass to begin summer courses. Graduation Day was a great moment for me and my family.

I’m excited to share not only did I refine my writing and validate my skill but, two of my features were published as cover stories. Emerald Coast Magazine ran one about human trafficking and The Boston Globe ran my travel feature article about Chatham Lighthouse for their magazine.


How do you spend your time when you are not working on a book, feature story deadline?

I’m curious, always learning and up for an adventure. I love to travel with my family – two sons and husband. Excursions have been to Iceland, Ireland and Europe. My husband and I take our kids skiing in Colorado and to the white-sandy beach here in NW Florida and 30A as much as possible.

I am an avid tennis player, Hobie Cat sailor and paddle board fan - love getting out on the water with family, friends and my tireless water dog – a Golden Retriever - named Mae West.

I’m excited to say I’ve wrapped up my time with the U.S. Coast Guard and retired. Now, I have more time to write and travel, interview and get to know and tell the stories of inspiring men and women. I look forward to facing the issues of our world and writing about them. I will continue to document what’s going on to make a difference.


Why should I hire you?

I deliver stories that are relevant and compelling. I can put together a story that will land the cover of a top-tier magazine or get published by a traditional, credible publisher. I enjoy small gatherings and deliver a riveting presentation. I can tailor a speech to your audience be it a corporate C-suite or 600 students in high school.

Need a great story written on a tight deadline? Want a professional speaker for your audience?

How long have you been saying you're going to write a book?

If writing a book will catapult you or your business into the next level consider hiring a ghostwriter.

Consider me.

Martha's Adventures

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