wrote my first story at the age of ten. It started out, “Once upon a time there were three witches who lived in Spain.” I never got beyond the first sentence because I didn’t know any witches and I had never been to Spain. When it came to people, places, and events, all I knew was what I had experienced in my hometown of Fargo, North Dakota. Somewhere along the way I learned to follow the dictum, “Write about what you know,” and by the time I was in high school I was already identifying myself as a writer.
My first byline was for the Fargo High School Cynosure Bi-weekly, which led to a journalism scholarship and the University of North Dakota, where I enrolled with visions of becoming another Brenda Starr, courageous, go-getting girl reporter in New York City. I’ve lived in New York City since 1963, and although I’ve outgrown my girl-reporter phase, I’ve never grown out of my mid-western curiosity about life in the cultural polyglot I now call home. I have the same need to know everything I can about the world at large and the times I live in.
I attribute my long-term success as a professional freelance writer to this passion for constantly expanding what I know, and I bring it to any project I undertake. In my career I have written everything from blurbs to books, with a wide diversity of assignments in between, but my particular expertise is ghostwriting. I credit my success (25 collaborations sold to major New York publishers, including a number of best-sellers), to another passion—paying attention to the precise way authors tell me their stories.
I transcribe our tape-recorded interviews verbatim so I can start a project with a strong familiarity with a word choice and communication style that is theirs—not mine. I am also adept at doing background research to help put the story of a life into a broader and deeper historical/cultural context. Transforming the spoken into the written word so that the book “sounds like” my client is something of an art form, a kind of alchemy, and it is a skill I have carefully honed over the years.
A Sunday New York Times Book Review of the memoirs I wrote for a famous person, known for his unique and somewhat incendiary style of speaking, includes the statement, “This book does not bear the mark of a ghostwriter.” No higher compliment could be paid to someone in my profession.
Although working with authors face-to-face in my Greenwich Village home office has its advantages, they are not nearly as great as the ones offered via phone and Internet. Wherever my clients live, as long as they have a phone and I have my tape recorder running, we can do business. As Ring Lardner once said, holding up his fountain pen, “Writing is easy. All you have to do is take this and open a vein.”
Let’s face it. Writing is hard. It’s frustrating, grueling, sometimes agonizing, for everybody, including myself, even after writing every day of my adult life. It’s why I don’t ever require non-writers I work with to “jot down a few thoughts” and email them to me so I can get to work. I want to hear what they have to say, and how they say it, whether it’s for a memoir or a bio or a speech or a eulogy, an essay, a brochure, or whatever they are trying to express in a meaningful, cogent way.
I’m also very good at asking the kind of questions that will help them in that effort. That’s the easy part. Then they can go on with their busy day and leave the hard part—getting their words to flow on a page with the same natural fluidity of their speech—to me.
Formally educated and trained as a writer, with over 40 years experince writing for a variety of print and online media, I am ready to work on your next project. Use your preferred means to get in touch with me, include a brief description of your project, and I’ll give you a fee range and a timeline to suit us both. And in the meantime, follow and bookmark my blog.