Best-selling Massachusetts author Michael Tougias pens self-help, children’s books

MENDON — New York Times bestselling author Michael Tougias, who grew up in Springfield and Longmeadow, has learned the importance of saying “no,” but he has also said “yes” to writing two new books.

The one for adults, “No Will Set You Free: Learn to Say No, Set Boundaries, Stop People Pleasing and Lead a Fuller Life,” helps people set boundaries and take back control of their time while reducing stress. It was released by Mango Publishing.

Topics/chapters include No to Group Pressure – At Any Age, When to Lean Toward Yes, Easy No’s: Creating More Time for You, No and Your Children, Careful Use of No with Your Spouse and Relatives, No and Your Health, No at Work and No is Not Selfish.

The second book, co-authored with Doug Stanton, is the young adult book “In Harms Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Story of Its Survivors.” It is his sixth book in his True Rescue Series with Henry Holt and Company.

“They were such different books I needed to work on them separately,” said Tougias, a 15-year columnist for The Republican who now lives in Mendon.

When he thought about what he wished he did differently in his younger years, he realized he should have said “no” more often, so that he had better control of his time. “I realized how much better I am today at setting boundaries and carefully considering the request before I say yes. This had led to me to feel more relaxed and contented,” he said.

He intentionally made the chapters of “No Will Set You Free” short, hoping people would read one chapter per day with their morning coffee and then practice some of the tips that day.

Tougias sees a “beauty of no;” by setting boundaries one can zero in on what is important. For him, that means more time for his family, his health, his hobbies of bike riding and being in nature and writing. “By saying no to many things that do not contribute to these core activities that bring me joy, I’m leading a much more satisfying life,” he said. “I feel a sense of purpose rather than feeling scattered because I’m fulfilling other people’s priorities. … It is ingrained in us as children to want to help, but there is only so much time in the day, and if you say yes to every request, you are helping others and not your own dreams and priorities.”

Side effects of not being able to say no include weekends that are not your own, projects left half done, stress, little time to focus on your health, etc. “‘No Will Set You Free’ gives you the tools to better manage your time,” he said.

People are taught not to hurt other people’s feelings and to always be polite. Being a “yes” person is a difficult practice to break. In the book Tougias cites the work of many psychologists to help motivate people to develop techniques to be comfortable saying no. “In some cases, a person needs to make small steps to take back their time,” he said. “At the beginning of your journey you may be too uncomfortable to say a simple ‘no thank you,’ and for those people I suggest having a stock answer of ‘I’ll check my schedule and get back to you.’ Then you can later text or email ‘I can’t make it.’”

Of the 38 eight books he has written or co-written, the writing of “No Will Set You Free” flowed more smoothly than any other. “That’s when I knew I had a passion for the message I wanted to share,” he said.

Tougias has a presentation on the topic and is speaking at libraries throughout Massachusetts. View his schedule at

Commenting on the young adult book about the sinking of the Indianapolis, he said having written many young adult books, he hears from kids either online or when he is presenting in schools say, “I’m not a big reader but I finished your book in three or four nights.”

That is exactly what he wants to hear because his mantra when he writes is “keep it fast paced.”

He chose this topic and to work with Stanton because teachers have told him there is a need for narrative non-fiction. “‘In Harms Way’ combines history with a gripping story of men overcoming incredible adversity, and those are the topics I’ve often wrote about in the True Rescue Series,” he explained.

Many of his books are about untold stories focusing on individuals who survived against all odds: “I think I combined that interest with my love of all things water — from the ocean to rivers. Nature can be as unforgiving as it is beautiful, but that is part of its allure.”

Tougias is the author and co-author of such books for adults and children as “Above & Beyond,” “So Close To Home,” “The Finest Hours” (A Disney Movie), “Ten Hours Until Dawn,” “Fatal Forecast,” “King Philips War” and “There’s A Porcupine In My Outhouse!”

For more information, visit

Leave a Comment