Archive for Writers

Client Success:  Heather Dobson’s “Memoirs of a Future Ghost” Reveals the Truth of the Paranormal

“One Sunday morning while grumpily clutching my coffee, I tuned into Ghost Adventures where Zak Bagans yet again found himself possessed by a demon,” Heather says, rolling her eyes.  “I became frustrated, deciding right then and there that I would write an honest and thoughtful account of what it’s really like to investigate the paranormal.”

Memoirs of a Future Ghost shares the truth—the freaky, the funny, even the forlorn—of Heather Dobson’s 12 years investigating ghosts and the people they haunt.  At its heart, this first memoir in a trilogy comes from her childhood fears of the unknown reflected by those of her children when they were wee tots, afraid of what was in their closets, under their beds, and outside their windows.  As diligently as she pursues evidence to prove the paranormal is, well, normal, she seeks the answer to the proverbial question, “Is there life after death?”  This passionate lifelong exploration, active on the front lines with her group Paranormal Georgia Investigations, combined with her love of science, a wicked sense of humor, and a maternal instinct, make her ideal to guide readers—even the most scaredy-pants ones—into the real world of the paranormal.

Heather (center) at her book launch, August 2019, with Wayne and Sheryl

On writing, Heather unabashedly admits, “I am my own worst critic, so I knew I needed an editor. Whenever I searched for editors, the web results sounded cold and distant. My neighbor and friend Sheryl Parbhoo recommended Wayne from his work on her novel The Unexpected Daughter, so I reached out and our rapport was instant!”

Heather felt her book was practically finished when she submitted it to me.  Assuring her I could do the quick edit she requested, I admitted that I was taken with the writing but felt cheated.  I wanted to feel like I was there with her and the shadows, the disembodied voices, the other investigators.  I suggested she rewrite the collection of blog posts, giving herself freedom to flesh out the details to create a vivid account of these fantastic stories.

Her resistance was immediate but ephemeral.  “Because of Wayne’s coaxing, coaching, and belief in my writing skills, my book became a cohesive story that I believe everyone could enjoy, whether ghost stories scare them or not.”

“Though working with Wayne was easy, it was still challenging when he would say, ‘I know there’s more here. I want more.’ I would ignore that note, move on to easier things in the manuscript, and walk away from my computer, stewing on ‘more.’ Usually the next day, I was ready to give more. And then I got him back by inserting more exclamation points than he knew what to do with!!”

I survived the onslaught thanks to the “delete” key.

Heather adds, “My biggest lesson from this experience is that I’m capable of writing a book. And that I have a voice people enjoy reading. And to tell Miss Negative Nelly who resides in my head that she’s a bitter woman who needs to shut the hell up.

“Honestly, across the board, even when I do things well, I feel as though I’m a failure. For the first time in my life, I’m really proud of myself. And that’s saying something.”

And that’s an everlasting truth…to be continued as Heather concurrently works on her second and third books in the trilogy to be published in the summers of 2020 and 2021, covering your reading for the next three Halloweens.

Buy Heather’s book or e-book, or see her at  DragonCon or other appearances.

 

 

 

Client Success: Kathy Florence Explores Female Friendships through Three Decades in New Novel

Kathy Wilson Florence considers her new novel, Three of Cups, a feel-good book. ”The story features three protagonists, each dealing with her own issues and heartache, but each woman is supportive of the others. I personally like hanging around woman who hold one another up, so I prefer to write about them too!”

Three of Cups is the story of the unshakable bonds of female friendships involving three women: Mandy, a determined young mother, raises her son alone when husband Adam is drafted with the Army and captured as a prisoner of war; Ginger, a lonely new bride waits for her husband Pete’s return from war; and Rachel, single and at the beginning her career, rallies for a new start when a high-pressured job gets the best of her. Against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, their stories begin in the early 1970s and converge almost thirty years later when a long-kept secret threatens to undo all their lives.

As with her first novel, 2017’s Jaybird’s Song, Kathy utilized historical events within the setting.  “The ‘60s and ‘70s are rarely covered in the historical novels I’ve read. The Vietnam War offered a perfect background to my story of these women.”  Atlanta repeats as the main locale and is a natural one since Kathy grew up and lived in the city all her adult life.  In both novels, she weaves local places into her plot.

After inspiration struck in the middle of the night, Kathy made notes on some character traits, story arc, time frame, and titles. “My initial thought was to see how a secret between two women would play out over several decades. That’s the only thing that remained from my original notes.  I definitely write from the seat of my pants and am always amazed and excited when the perfect idea comes.”

On designing her cover, Kathy prefers illustration to photography so the reader’s imagination defines their interpretation of each protagonist. “I am pleased with the Picasso-like illustration because, to me, it has an ethereal quality, similar to the tarot card sub-plot.”

I served as content editor for Three of Cups, providing feedback on plot, character, structure, setting, etc.  Kathy shared, “I’m again impressed with the thoughtfulness of Wayne’s content edit as he is able to cut to the gut of a story with hands-down excellence for areas to rewrite, reconsider, and redefine.”

Three of Cups, available in print and e-book, has been featured in readings and at local book clubs.  Her book launch occurs at Dunwoody’s Farm Burger on August 19 from 4-6pm.  Kathy will read at “A Novel Idea” in Canton on September 19. Kathy also coordinates and hosts the monthly event “A Novel Idea” in Dunwoody when a group of up to six authors read from their books in a particular genre, such as southern fiction, thriller, or memoir. “It’s an awesome and rare opportunity for authors to present and sell their books at no cost except for a donation of a door prize. I am enjoying the opportunity to place myself among other authors.”

Client Success: Ann Temkin’s Memoir Illustrates Personal Struggle to Revelation in Spiritual Quest

“I know others have held the same secret,” Ann J. Temkin said of her newly released memoir. “I needed to explore this period of my life, and I wanted to let them know they are not alone.”

The Smoking Nun recounts a woman’s conflicts over loving God, humanity, and one forbidden man.  Passion, struggle, and betrayal ignite this true story lived amidst the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War. Advanced readers found the book inspiring, relevant, and revealing for our current times, calling it “a spiritual quest bound with an inextricable thirst for justice.”

In late 2015, Ann saw the Oscar-winning film Spotlight about The Boston Globe investigative journalists who found proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.  Even though her situation was not the same, Ann began to think differently about a part of her life she had kept secret.  Then came her struggle with whether or not to write about her hidden love affair with a Catholic priest.

Soon, she went to the book signing of a friend.  “She didn’t know my story. No one did.  And when she signed my book, she wrote, ‘Tell your story.  It matters.’  I took that as a sign and began to write.”

Though possessing a career’s worth of writing experience and a published author of 2014’s memoir Sight In The Sandstorm: Jesus in His World and Mine, Ann shared that writing this book was often painful.

“My story involves an early time when I was not in touch with my own feelings and in an environment that encouraged denial. Writing about it, I often asked myself, ‘What was I feeling?’  I had to confront realizations and emotions that had never surfaced before. And it was scary to make myself so vulnerable, not just about the secret, but about my spiritual life.”

As her editor, Ann and I worked from initial writing through publication.  “Wayne got it, and when he didn’t, he asked questions and remained encouraging.”  I facilitated a focus group to lead into final revision, and she credits the stellar panel for their insight and praise. Ann’s cover designer Cristina Montesinos, along with fellow authors, friends, and Mort, her husband of 35 years, were positive influences during the two-plus years of process to publication.

Ann always welcomes opportunities to share her book and hear reflections from readers. For details about readings or to inquire about having Ann speak with your group, please visit www.anntemkin.com or follow her on Facebook.

For budding writers, Ann advises, “Just start somewhere.  Anywhere. Then just write. Thinking about it comes later.

Through her journey of revisiting and resolving the past, Ann came out stronger on both life and writing.  “I’m not at all shy about calling myself a writer now.”

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.