Archive for Editing

Client Success: Kathy Florence’s Novel Combines Tragedy, Atlanta History, and Southern Voice

“One particular childhood experience with my mother fueled my inspiration for Jaybird’s Song,” shared author Kathy Wilson Florence.   “My mother’s reaction to a singular event was the moment that the extent of motherhood became clear to me.  It’s a story I’ve told many times, I was anxious to write, and it appears early in my book.”

Jaybird’s Song intertwines tales of Atlanta native Josie Flint through her teen years in the mid-1960s with her as a businesswoman, wife, and mother 35 years later around the death of her beloved grandmother, Annie Jo.  In addition to the death of her cherished father, drama of sibling and matriarchal relationships, and the coming and going of best friends, an unsolved hate crime which happened at arm’s length from her family during the Civil Rights movement becomes more personal when details of the mystery resurface.

Kathy, who grew up in north Atlanta, has enjoyed writing since a very young age.  For 16 years, she wrote a weekly column for the Dunwoody Crier, and her first book, You’ve Got a Wedgie Cha Cha Cha, compiles her favorite columns.

“My goal for 2016 was to finish my book after 10 years. At the beginning of the year with about 55,000 words written, I joined Wayne’s Creative Writers’ Workshop.  I often submitted passages I had written years earlier to the weekly sessions, and the feedback gave me the confirmation I needed to give the story priority in my life. I would come home from each meeting jazzed to revise, and then I would either write more toward the end of the story or revisit another passage and edit. After about 5 months, I had completed my story to the point it was ready for editing.”

“I hired Wayne for a content edit on the arc of the story, as well as the direction and reveals of the plot lines. He made many great suggestions and I took them all, but the one that resonated the strongest with me was his suggestion to enhance the character of Grace, Josie’s daughter, to instill within her character the idea that the future of the family might someday be in her hands. It gives a sense of hope for the traditions and stories that are an integral part of this fictional family’s lives.”

A seasoned designer, Kathy designed the book’s interior and cover, polling Facebook friends with sample covers as part of the selection process.  Launched in February, she has sold approximately 125 copies and 100 e-books via Amazon, as well as 50 directly through appearances at Dunwoody’s Lemonade Days, various author events, and book clubs.  Her reviews remain strong and her sales consistent.

“I feel proud to have completed, released, and sold my first novel.”  Now, she’s underway on her new novel with the working title inspired by the Tarot—Temperance Reversed—a story of two women who share a huge secret that begins in the 1960s while their husbands are deployed in the Vietnam War.

How A Good Editor Works

At a crucial juncture after the climactic scene when the subplot needed attention, his novel went in an unexpected direction.  As his editor, I suggested removing the newly-introduced subplot to naturally steer the protagonist to the crucial needs of the woman he loved, the only issue to be addressed for final resolution.  The author read my notes and heard my rationale, yet remained skeptical.

Weeks later during revisions, we chatted about a software challenge, and he brought up his continued attachment to the new subplot.  I further explained my emotional reaction and logical reasoning.  He stated his case from a different angle, and I could tell that it was not only important to him but also to the future of a brewing sequel.

red.100 - goodI felt an idea rise like a jolt of electricity, flashing up my spine to the top of my head.  I shared the basic premise of how the setup of the subplot could be incorporated earlier.  He responded encouragingly.  I shared the entire brainstorm.  He added his creativity to it, and the issue was suddenly a beautiful turning point, one that solved another plot issue too.

Delighted, we laughed, and then he said, “Maybe I’m naïve, but I’ve got to ask:  Is this the way a normal editor works?”

“In my opinion, yes.  A good one anyway.”

I explained good editors work differently.  After acknowledging my client’s work with editors on his other books—usually without contact beyond rote emails and corrections in the text, many of which were computer-generated—I shared about those who inspired me to do the work I’ve chosen to do.

I remembered when my high school English teacher made me editor of the yearbook.  I said, “But I don’t know how to do that,” and he confirmed, “Sure you do.  You’ll be great!”  And that was that.  I knew I could trust him for guidance.

In addition to new skills, he taught me a good editor has a fearlessness to encourage creativity’s experimentation and bold ideas in collaboration. My teacher recognized and affirmed the good, then build upon it.

Among college professors and editors for print media, corporate communications, and theatrical productions, my greatest mentor was a magazine editor who was clear in direction before I began my work and supportive in the process through revision.  Once she took her turn with my copy as she readied it for print, I was hard pressed to find her changes.

She taught me to build relationship on clear vision to encourage writers and to hone my editorial skills to enhance the writing, elevating both the writer’s voice and the final product’s intended message.

The best editing isn’t a one-way street where some unseen person puts their mark on a writer’s work.  From both editors and clients I’ve worked with, I’ve learned it’s imperative to have a friendly relationship with both the writing and the writer.  Don’t turn the process competitive or argumentative with ego.  The union of writer and editor is collaborative with clear communication, keen listening, and openness to discovery and growth.  Yes, editing is a science in the sense of the rules and formats to follow, but it’s also creative.

To the writer on the phone, I added, “This is how I work.  It works well for me and for many others too.”

He agreed, parting with the promise of a quick return of the revisions and a commitment to begin work on his next book while I edited the current one.

Creative Coaching and Editing

Client Success: Lynne Barfield Byrd’s memoir “The Sweetness and The Pits”

Lynne.Barfield.Byrd.The.Sweetness.And.The.Pits_Front“Well, I am a bucket-list kind of girl,” said Lynne Barfield Byrd, 76, who with motivation of said list has earned three advanced degrees including a Masters in Historic Preservation, ran the Peachtree Road Race at age 67, performed in stage musicals, and traveled to England, France and Italy. “Writing my memoir was on my bucket list to complete by September of 2015, and by golly, I did it! I feel wonderful!”

The Sweetness and The Pits: Remembrances of a Georgia Peach chronicles her life through childhood, careers, and relationships with family, friends and community in her native Atlanta. Lynne has lived in Morningside, Virginia Highlands, Sandy Springs, and Doraville before making Dunwoody her home for the last 43 years. After graduating from Grady High, she attended the University of Georgia, Georgia Perimeter College, and Georgia State University.

On Saturday, October 10 from 2-4pm, Lynne will sign books at the Cheek-Spruill House a.k.a. the Dunwoody Farmhouse located at 5455 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, one of the three Dunwoody homes she has placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Her life has had peachy parts, but also some that were the pits. “My first attempt at writing a short memoir left out all of the unpleasant things. I left out a lot! I was surprised at how emotional it was to go back and feel the joy and the sorrow, and actually put it on paper, knowing that I will allow it to be read by strangers.”

After completing a solid draft, Lynne began to work with me after our meeting at the Writer’s Forum at the Dunwoody/Dekalb Library.

“Wayne explained the entire process, and I knew what to expect,” Lynne shared. “He made sure that as he edited, my voice in the book remained clear. Though this and publication, even when discussing thoughts on what might be hurtful to someone when they read my book, Wayne kept the process fun.”

The book has already garnered sales and great word-of-mouth from those in her community circles. It has also spawned new relationships. Lynne.Barfield.Byrd.Author“Yes, it’s like when you are having surgery—all of a sudden every other person has had, or is having, the same! People who want to write are drawn to me because I tried it. I have connected with another first-time author and a would-be first time author, and I can pick their brains and they can pick mine.”

Her best advice is simple: “Enjoy yourself and write, write, write. Maybe it will be a hit, maybe it won’t, but you won’t know unless you write.”

A few days before publication, Lynne was back in the classroom expanding her knowledge and skill with creative writing. This Georgia Peach is proud of her accomplishment, but will continue to add new goals to her bucket list and be motivated to learn and express.

Client Success: Author Ann J. Temkin Blends Christianity, Judaism & Memoir

Ann.Temkin.Sandstorm.final“My inspiration for this book is both my love of God and my own long, winding spiritual journey,” said Ann J. Temkin, author of the newly released Sight In The Sandstorm: Jesus in His World and Mine.

A self-described half-breed—the child of a Jewish father and Protestant Mother—Ann expressed her need to bridge her Jewishness and Jesus’ Jewishness. “Even though the historical context on place and spiritual heritage is acquired from research, it’s also in my bones and has a universal aspect,” Ann said.

An ordained protestant minister who is both a former Catholic nun and licensed therapist, Ann’s book brings Jesus and his companions to life within the rich context of turbulent 1st century Palestine. The political, socio-economic, and religious conditions of the Jewish people living under Roman rule provide moving and meaningful insight into Jesus, his life, and his teachings. Stories from the author’s life are intertwined as the combination proclaims a message transcending time and place about human struggle against oppression and a path to liberation. Sight In The Sandstorm illustrates the power of an extravagantly loving God, a God on the loose in the whole world then and now.

“While conducting research on 1st century Palestine during the last 10 years, I kept being told I should write a book. I was also told the same thing about writing a memoir.” Eventually, Ann felt she needed to honor her research and explore the Jesus story, but she wanted to write a book both accessible and relevant for general audiences of any spiritual background as well as those with none.

She joined my Creative Writers Workshop and shared her written stories with other members from a variety of backgrounds with positive results. She dabbled in memoir, too, also positive. Then, she took the challenge to see how the two could mirror one another in a broadly reflective way, and she began to play with braiding stories together.

Ann.TemkinThis came easily or Ann. “Integrating aspects of theology, various spiritual and life perspectives…well, I do that all the time. It’s central to who I am, as is passing it on for others to consider.” She achieved her goal of showing how Jesus has been influential through reflection and affected her life as both a Christian and a Jew. This illustration is offered to readers to apply to their lives to whatever degree.

“I love writing,” Ann explained. Though she has published in academic journals and written professionally, writing a popular book was a new mountain to climb. After a year in the writing group and a year of personal coaching through revision, final edit and production, Ann said with a confident smile, “That tape used to run in my head a lot, the one that snipes ‘Who do you think you are?’ Now I have the answer.”

Sight In The Sandstorm: Jesus In His World and Mine by Ann J. Temkin is available in Paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.