Archive for Writing Tips

Client Success: Women’s Empowerment Author Suzanne Justice Carr

“I had no idea writing this book would affect me as much as it has,” author Suzanne Carr said.

The New Third Act: A Woman’s Guide to Midlife and Beyond is an invitation to empowerment culled from the author’s life and the two decades of therapeutic work she has facilitated for women. “As I wrote, I saw my life more deeply and understood more than I had before.”

Suzanne.Justice.CarrCarr, 81, known by most simply as Suzanne, has lived through cultural changes, including women’s liberation. Not long after women burned their bras for emancipation, Suzanne held her baby on her lap while she took exams toward earning her PhD. Following careers as a music teacher, high school counselor and college professor, Suzanne became a licensed therapist at age 53. She still practices today.

Among stories of women illustrating the challenges and triumphs on the path to an inspired life, Suzanne’s book also looks at her own life story during what is nostalgically viewed as a “simpler time,” but one no less relevant as a mirror of opportunities for personal growth. For subsequent generations, dreams fostered in childhood still got lost among the responsibilities of family and career. She believes The New Third Act is the ideal time for rediscovery and reclamation of joy and fulfillment during life’s pinnacle. Her first published book is a positive affirmation of this truth.

“Beyond my dissertation, I hadn’t thought much about writing a book,” Carr said, “and then you came along.”

Suzanne and I met in the early 90s when I rented office space from her in my beginning years as a writing coach and editor. She joined one of my journaling groups and liked the camaraderie, which gave her an extra incentive to write for and about herself.

When she shared her seminar handouts and group discussion topics with me, I recognized the foundation of the book’s structure. As she began to expand these into chapters, I posed additional questions and reflections, fueling her strength, inner investigation and writing further. The greatest gift which emerged was her kind, encouraging voice and how she used her own life as living example, allowing herself to be questioned and challenged while also gently guiding participants to reach larger goals. As we progressed, Suzanne came to trust that her work easily translated to the printed page.

Every author’s process is different, and Suzanne’s work, no doubt like her clinical psychotherapy methods, was patient and thorough. Like an archaeological dig on sacred ground, precious artifacts of her life and work were carefully uncovered, polished, pieced together and fully considered, then thoughtfully arranged.

Suz.Third_Act _Cover_review2 - CopyAs the spiraled continuum on the book’s cover illustrates, life simultaneously moves onward and goes inward. Suzanne uncovered deeper meanings of authenticity and feminine strength, embraced change while silencing the inner critic, and celebrated her true work through new and revised words. With starts and stops as the book took its turn among her array of life’s responsibilities and joys, writing and editing became a ten-year labor of (mostly) love. The New Third Act became a vital part of her fulfillment in her own Third Act.

“I’ve opened up to things I might not have otherwise looked at or shared,” Suzanne said. “When I wrote this, it was more for me. I was writing to get clear for myself.”

And her search for genuine clarity and personal empowerment, now in print, invites other women to experience their unique journey through its reflection. What was her gift to herself and her community of clients is now a gift to women everywhere.

The New Third Act: A Woman’s Guide to Midlife and Beyond is available on Amazon in paperback for $9.99.

Cover design and author photo by Laura Nalesnik,

Info on Writer’s Coaching and Editing.

Client Success: International Education / Self Help Author Alex Smith

Study U Abroad, newly released in paperback and e-book by Alex Smith, explores the student’s opportunities abroad to go beyond classroom learning and challenge ideas about self and the world to make a conscious impact on both. The book’s 5 Keys and insightful stories of students’ experiences create an easy-to-use framework to tackle challenges and get the most out of the experience abroad and back home.

Alex Smith Author 1“I’m fascinated with international life and how one’s identity shifts throughout the experience abroad,” Alex said. “The growth can be both rewarding and painful.”

As a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Alex saw the opportunity to introduce proven coaching strategies into the experience. “I specifically wanted to write for university students going abroad because they are tomorrow’s leaders. They will impact change in the world.”

Traveling, studying, and living abroad all influenced Alex’s perspective from an early age. “I knew I wanted to live abroad after my first trip to Europe at thirteen years old. I spent two weeks in Iceland and the following year spent two weeks in Germany. During both trips I stayed with local families and had a truly immersive experience. It was amazing to meet these people and learn new ways of being.”

As a young adult, his semester in Seville was such a rush that he didn’t want to leave, a theme explored in the book which is common for many study abroad students. He did, however, find a way to move abroad again, living in Barcelona and Madrid before settling in Malmö, Sweden…for now.

“I continue to live the material in my book every day. I’m 34 years old, old enough to have lived and experienced life yet still young enough to be able to relate to university students. As an expat having moved to yet another country, my everyday life is similar to that of study abroad students.” This discovery of self and place is fuel for a quality life of growth and happiness.

Alex Smith Study U Abroad coverAnother goal for the book is to impact the current conversation, both in the U.S. and worldwide, about increasing the number of students going abroad each year. “My hope is that Study U Abroad can add to the dialog by emphasizing the equal importance of ‘how’ we send students abroad. If we don’t equip students with the proper tools, the experience can turn into missed opportunities.”

Coming from personal experience of studying and living abroad, Alex’s inspiration and excitement transfers to the reader through his words. “I believe in the power of study and travel abroad to change the world. It’s when we open our minds and connect with curiosity to the people, places, and things around us that we create more understanding and compassion for them. It’s been my experience that through this, we can awaken to the same for ourselves.”

After our work together through drafting, revision and copy edit, Alex shared, “Working with Wayne in distance coaching sessions and editing gave me the support I needed to publish my book.”

Client Success: Novelist Sue Horner

Sue and I met in 2012 when she joined my writers’ workshop at Foxtale Book Shoppe in Woodstock. I had the pleasure of conducting a complete content evaluation and edit on an early draft of her book in July 2013. . .and then congratulating her at the book’s launch event a short year later.

sue.hornerSecond Place Sister is a humorous mystery by first-time author Sue Horner about big time sibling rivalry set among small town relationships. Ali, a forty-five-year-old wife, mother, and community volunteer, affectionately known as “St. Ali” in her quaint hometown of Willoughby, nervously anticipates the arrival of her older sister, Janelle, a bestselling romance author and all-around spoiled brat. Ali vows to stop being a bitter doormat and stand up to her diva sister. But when Ali discovers a secret that has the potential to destroy Janelle’s career and reputation, will she expose her sister, or, for the sake of family unity, will she protect her? Can the sisters finally come to terms with each other, or will their relationship disintegrate, bringing bedlam to Willoughby in the process?

WSS: How long did it take you from conception to publication?

SH: It seems as though it was lifetime. Still, I enjoyed writing, rewriting, and trying to find the perfect word or description. I began this book five years ago at age 65.

What inspired you to write this story?

I wanted to write a book before I died.

It’s said that “Writers write what they know.” Is this true in your experience?

Second Place Sister is set in a fictional town, but for readers familiar with Roswell, Georgia, where I live, they might recognize some places. As far as the relationship with my own sister goes, all those who know Jill and have read the book realize there is no connection.

How are your sales?

My initial order was seventy-five copies, which I sold in about three weeks. Sales on are steadily growing. It’s still too early for a royalty check. And whatever I receive will be a drop in the bucket compared with what I spent. I have no unreasonable expectations. It would be nice to break even, but. . .it was well worth it.

Any surprising feedback?

I love how supportive everyone has been even before reading the book. The July launch party at Anna Lee’s in Roswell was attended by over 50. I also loved the Greensboro, NC, event later that month. I was overwhelmed because so many attendees had previously purchased the book, but wanted additional copies to send to family and friends for gifts. Some who had purchased on Kindle wanted a print copy so I could autograph it. And many made comments about the book that proved they read it! hints for budding authors?

Write every day. Find a trustworthy and supportive writing critique group and then hire Wayne. To be successful, you have to write and rewrite, then edit, edit, edit. And then edit a little more. My group was there for me through every step. Wayne promised and delivered not only page-by-page comments, suggestions, and critiques on my initial draft, but also a nine-page overview which I referred to during the rewriting process. I hired him for an honest assessment, no matter how tough, but he also gave encouragement and compliments.

Second Place Sister is available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. Sue is available for book club discussions and public events. Visit her website and reach Sue for more information about the book and appearances at



Procrastination’s Pull

For the ongoing Creative Writers Workshop, a month off is unusual. Before the break, all members affirmed the writing they planned to accomplish.

Upon return, two revealed how their steady flow of writing halted through research.

researchOne writer is drafting fiction within the setting of the politics, culture, and landscape of her birth country. In her weeks off, she stumbled upon information on the hospital system, discovering fascinating facts about how colonizers had built many of these structures.

“After lots of reading, I downloaded and printed a picture of one hospital,” she shared, “then I didn’t do anything with it.” She paused, then admitted the new found history had nothing to do with her story, and honestly, the internet searches had become her “escape route.”

Another writer, striving for accuracy in her memoir about family, has the gift of diaries and letters from several relatives. There were also judicial proceedings involving them in her early childhood, and she has a bound copy of transcripts more dense than a bible.

“I know there’s a companion with some great dialogue in it, but I’ve exhausted all avenues to find a copy. It may have been lost in a fire,” she said with conflicting hints of defeat and lingering determination.

After weeks of research, these writers, who usually produce 2000 or more words each week, had only the 2000 or less they showed up with.

Though research is incredible ground to build upon and important to the reality created in fiction and nonfiction, I reminded them research isn’t the story. The researched details are unique and often vital, but the universality the reader connects with is the humanity of the characters and the conflicts involved in the story.

Researching is a great place for ideas before drafting, and wonderful to secure details during the revision process, but get the story down first. Unless the exactness of the hospital’s location or the court testimony is crucial to the story, leave them for later. Don’t abandon the flow of writing to check facts or create mountains of info looking for a burst of inspiration. Use your imagination, talent with words, and craft with storytelling. These are your finest resources for writing and always at hand.