Client Success: Lynne Byrd Celebrates Community Visionary and Best Friend

“I knew Joyce and her friends very well,” Lynne Barfield Byrd shared of her best friend Joyce Amacher, the community visionary who passed away in February 2017 and is featured in Lynne’s latest book The Queen of Dunwoody.  Lynne and Joyce became fast friends when Lynne’s son and Joyce’s daughter dated and eventually married.  They grew closer as co-grandparents of two little girls, co-authors of The Story of Dunwoody: 1971-2001, and co-founders of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust.  “Joyce and I worked hard to identify the descendants of pioneer families and save the remaining historic homes in Dunwoody.”

“The book began with tributes from her friends along with remembrances of people who worked with her to make Dunwoody a great place to live.” Lynne, the author of three books and a historian who has placed three Dunwoody homes on the National Register of Historic Places, started the book’s research by interviewing Joyce’s husband of over fifty years.  “I had some pleasant surprises when talking with Bill.  He’s a reticent kind of man, but he straightened me out on a lot of details.”

The Queen of Dunwoody is the story of Joyce Amacher, an Atlanta native who moved to Dunwoody in 1968 where she and her husband raised their family and she focused her talents and passion on community enrichment, fighting the effects of urban sprawl while advocating for architectural design standards.

As a visionary leader, Joyce knew the talents of other community members, encouraging them to contribute their best.  She served as charter member and one-time President of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, the volunteer governing body until Dunwoody became a city in 2008. When the county planned to expand Ashford Dunwoody Road into a 4-lane, she was influential in gaining permission and funds to beautify the road with a tree-filled median.  In 1998 after a devastating tornado, she led efforts to replant the Dunwoody Forest.  She and Lynne spearheaded efforts to purchase and restore the Cheek-Spruill House, known as the Farmhouse.

In writing and compiling this book, Lynne credits encouragers like her husband Noah who organized over 100 photos for this full-color publication, as well as a local group of first-time writers called “The Wow Girls.”

And this is the second book Lynne has completed with me.  “I was fortunate to meet Wayne South Smith at his workshop at the Dunwoody library in 2013.  Wayne was the editor and project manager on my first book, a memoir called The Sweetness and the Pits: Remembrances of a Georgia Peach. I never could have done it by myself and probably would have given up trying without his help.  It was wonderful to work with him again on The Queen of Dunwoody.  Wayne is the most patient and encouraging person a writer could work with.”

The Queen of Dunwoody will launch at the historic Donaldson-Bannister House on May 5, 2018 from 2-4pm.  Proceeds from sales will be evenly divided between Joyce’s three favorite non-profits:  The Dunwoody Preservation Trust, The Dunwoody Garden Club, and the Dunwoody Homeowners Association.

Client Success: Joe Shumock’s Thriller Combines Human Cloning and Long Lost Love

“I enjoy writing stories a little out of the ordinary,” said Joe Shumock, author of the new thriller Sacrifice of the Lambs.  “I’d been considering a book broaching the concept of human cloning for several years.”

The fourth novel in his Letter Series involves returning character and retired CIA operative, Rage Doyle, who travels from his East Tennessee mountain home to Prague, summoned by a flame from his 20s upon her plea to investigate suspicious deaths of a friend and her daughter. Ensnared in both a sinister situation thirty years in the making and a rekindled love affair, Doyle uses the strength of a man half his age alongside seasoned know-how to face life-and-death deadlines, heart-wrenching discoveries, and a conspiracy to implicate him in the crimes he’s attempting to solve.

Shumock, who has been writing and publishing since 2007 after retiring from his CPA firm, smiles when he hears the catchphrase writers write what they know.  “Totally untrue of me and my stories. I have a roaring curiosity and imagination. I love imagining what can be. My characters become real, and I help them get into trouble and sometimes out of it.”

Locations are normally a character in his stories. “I picked Prague in the Czech Republic because medical experimentation was important there, and with the capital’s history and beauty, it became my choice. I began writing before traveling to Europe, and I wrote for my three weeks there.  The city enabled me to make it a part of the story.”

“Then in 2015, I met Wayne at the Decatur Book Festival. Our conversation and some time with other writers in attendance convinced me to reach out for editing help.  Wayne told me what I was doing right. The challenging part for me was the period between having Wayne say my story needed major work in areas, offering ideas, and the point where I realized he was right and I was not.

“My biggest takeaway was to listen and discuss, and then not let my pride make me wrong.  I’ve come a long way toward accepting positive criticism as an additional tool to make my novel the best it can be. I have worked with other editors, and with Wayne on this book, I found the right fit with a healthy respect of each other’s goals and what it would take to attain them.  He’s a man of many talents.”

For writers starting out on their path, Shumock shared, “If you don’t have tenacity, find something else to do. Writing is hard and must be challenged at every turn, especially during revision and editing.  Even with marketing. I’ve heard it before, and I agree: writing the early drafts of the book is the easy part.”

Next up, Shumock is finishing a children’s story, Briana and the Dog, for a spring release, and then he will begin the fifth novel in his Letter Series.  For information on Shumock and his books, visit SilverSageMedia.com or his author page on Amazon.com.

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.

Client Success: Eileen Cooley Guides Widows Through Relational Stress From Personal Experience

“After becoming a widow, I would come home from a social encounter or event feeling upset.  I found writing about these stressful experiences helped me manage them,” shared Eileen Cooley when discussing her personal essays.  “As I experienced social awkwardness, I realized that most of the other books on widowhood had failed to address these interpersonal stressors.”  A dozen essays in, she contacted me with the idea for the book.

Four years later, Newly Widowed, Now Socially Awkward: Facing Interpersonal Challenges After Loss includes 45 essays.  Utilizing her experience as both a widow and a licensed psychologist for over 25 years, each essay includes a subjective, first-person account of Eileen’s emotional response to a situation followed by her objective guidance in “What I Can Do For Myself.”

Divided into three sections which reflect changing needs and issues from the initial months through the first years, the book’s essays focus on specific topics.  For example, she found herself upset with others who offered “words of wisdom,” compared their prior losses to her own, and assumed she’d be back on her feet after a year.  She was also upset with herself for seeking too much sympathy, asking for help too often, and sharing the worst side of herself with friends.

“At first I thought my audience was focused solely on new widows.  However, based on the positive reactions I received from non-widows, I believe my audience is broader.  I now see the book as relevant to people experiencing any significant loss and to the folks who support them in their grief.”

The first in this expanded category was me.  I lost both my mother and brother back-to-back at the end of 2012 not long before Eileen and I began our work.  I found the essays’ guidance helped me understand my social discomfort at funerals and to other interactions beyond them.  When my father passed in 2015, I discovered I was more prepared to simultaneously handle my own grief as well as relate to the interactions with other mourners and supporters.  And in attending later funerals, Eileen’s advice to simply be present, and not feel forced to say something to those who suffered the loss, but, proved golden.

Having worked together in 2011 on Eileen’s first book, Why Do My Feet Say YES While My Head Says NO?, a children’s book published by Headline Books, we had an established rapport to build upon.  We easily communicated about the emotionality and gravity of the subject matter while keeping an eye on the audience experience.

“Wayne was my biggest encourager,” Eileen shared.  “Persistence is the key, and working with Wayne as a writing coach and editor helped me with feedback, direction, and commitment.”

Now as Eileen faces accolades and feedback, she is discovering a new awkwardness.  “It’s a little embarrassing to have some people read my book as it is very personal.  A few people have apologized for not being more sensitive to me after hearing my reactions to being newly widowed.”

Still, having the book published and out in the world is a big lift.  “It feels really great to complete a project.  Doing a project for myself that might be helpful to someone else is particularly satisfying.”