Archive for Writers

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: Sheryl Parbhoo’s Novel Explores Love, Family and Healing in Intercultural Relationships

“Like my book’s character Jenny, I am a woman with deep southern roots,” Sheryl said.  “Unlike Jenny, I was raised by doting parents and learned to love the quirks and traditions of southern life.”

Sheryl Parbhoo’s first novel, The Unexpected Daughter, is a contemporary story about hard choices in love, family and personal healing.  Set within intercultural relationships in the southern US, Jenny, a Caucasian, and Roshan, an Indian, embark on a love forbidden by his traditional mother Esha, entangling all three in a web of betrayal, violence, and shame as they struggle for peace with the past in the new world of the present day.

“I met my Indian husband when I was 16 and fell in love with his exotic looks, world view, and extreme devotion to his loved ones. But while love is an amazing force, we also suffered through deep cultural differences in how our marriage should look and the role that our families should have in our lives. This became the initial inspiration to write the novel, a sort of catharsis for my feelings, a way to put myself in the cultural shoes of my loved ones, and a way to share the uniqueness and beauty of love that transcends culture and race.

“Because of this, readers may think the plot is my life.  It is not. Yes, the setting is Memphis and Atlanta where I have lived, and the characters are informed by many who I have met over the years.  My knowledge of Gujarati culture, as a perpetual outsider on the fringe of family, has also informed the plot and the characters’ struggles.  However, the characters have lives of their own with no basis in my life whatsoever.”

Sheryl got the idea for the book soon after the births of her twin sons.  “I was consumed with mothering my children, ages 5, 3, and the newborns, and spent many sleepless nights rocking babies and thinking about the unique relationships in my life.  The book slowly began to grow in my mind, becoming my precious little secret for a long time before I ever began writing.”

Sheryl wrote short stories with characters similar to those in the novel.  Eventually, she crafted the opening chapter, rewriting it five times over the next six months before joining my Creative Writers Workshop at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock.

“Wayne encouraged me to give myself permission to move past the imperfections of the first chapter and grow the entire book,” she said.  “He’s uplifting and motivating with a good sense of humor, and I loved that, but during those times when I wanted to give up, he was persistent in coaching me to finish and editing my novel for publication.

“The biggest lesson I learned from writing the book with his guidance is that nothing of value comes without very hard work and sacrifice. When the media features successful people, all we see is them reaping the rewards but nothing of the hard work it took to get there.  Now I know what hard work is.  And whether or not my novel becomes a commercial success, I already feel successful because I completed it.  That’s huge for me.”

The Unexpected Daughter in available in paperback or e-book format.

Visit Sheryl’s blog at www.sherylparbhoo.com

Join the Creative Writers Workshop where many writers have birthed their novels, memoirs, inspirational/self-help, and children’s books.

Client Success: Joan Kaplan’s Heartfelt Fare Blends Memoir and Recipes

Info/schedule for Memoir classes.

The truth is Joan Kaplan is writing a novel. The commitment and the act of producing the drafts doesn’t shock her.

Joan Farbstein Kaplan at stove“What has surprised me,” Joan shared, “is my ability when I’m entrenched in writing to shut out other aspects of my life, like taking my dog out.”

She jests…somewhat. No need to call the ASPCA; her dog is very well cared for.

Yet while she steadily drafted the opening chapters of her first fiction book, she took a detour and left it all alone for a few months after one spring day at her weekly coaching session with me.

She arrived with a tattered pair of treasured recipe collections she had created, one 15 years ago and the other 8. She showed me one group and its intricate mailing package, then wrangled the other photocopied pages escaping the raffia that once decoratively corralled them. Both were fun family projects.

“For each recipe book I create, I combine my love of food, my passion for entertaining, and my desire to give a meaningful gift to friends, clients, and other supporters.” As I examined their uniqueness, she talked passionately about creating another, adding this time she wanted to produce more copies. Maybe 500.

I asked, “Do you want to hole-punch and tie raffia on 500 copies? Will your daughters really chip in?”

Joan looked dismayed, but not deterred. I continued, suggesting a professional layout, 4-color card-stock cover, and spiral binding for durability…and to save her time. She smiled.

“The purpose for this collection,” she added, “is to celebrate my 10th year in real estate.”

“Well, wouldn’t it be extra special if you added a story about where the recipe came from, when you serve it, and how it’s exceptional to you?”

She smiled brighter…and added even more, sharing the news that her family was starting a foundation to support four charities in her neighborhood of Oak Grove. Proceeds from donations gathered by the distribution of the cookbook would join contributions from her family each time she is involved in a real estate transaction to support Atlanta Hospital Hospitality House, Contribute2America, One Good Deed, and Ruffus Rescue.

“Why not combine all of them?” I recommended, and soon we were underway.

As she pulled together recipes and wrote stories, I coached her on content while organizing and editing, then I walked the project through the design and printing process.

Joan.Kaplan.Heartfelt.FareJoan self-published using a local artist, a local designer, and a local printer, sharing, “I believe wholeheartedly and ‘whole-financially’ in keeping things local and supporting the independent contractor.”

Ten weeks after that initial meeting, Heartfelt Fare: A Collection of Favorite Recipes from My Home to Yours was published. Thus far, after personal and mail deliveries, a rousing launch party at Vista Yoga featuring generous donations amongst fabulous bites and bevs from the book’s recipes, and then additional marketing from Joan, more than 700 are now at home in kitchens.

Fueled by the positive response to the recipe book, Joan returned to writing the novel with more gusto.

“By meeting with Wayne, I continue to grow confidence for my dream of sharing my writing in bigger ways,” she said. “One highlight of my otherwise very full life is meeting with him to talk about what I have written.”

I enjoy it too, but continue to wonder which Friday she’ll bring my favorite mouth-watering dessert from the book—a Lemon-Dream-Come-True! I am quite aware we would simply eat and get little done.

And the truth is I’ve got the recipe!

Photo of Joan by Karin Koser.