I was practically born with a book in my hand, so I suppose it's no surprise that I ended up creating a career in the literary sphere. It did, however, take awhile to get there ...
Despite arriving in the world unplanned to teenage parents, I was deeply loved and had a wonderful family on both sides—including
the best grandparents on the planet—who not only put up with my precociousness, but encouraged all my interests and provided me with ample books, games, and learning tools. I started reading when I was three years old, and by kindergarten, I was reading chapter books, parts of the newspaper, and the weekly TV Guide. I absolutely adored school and escaping into the worlds of the many books on my shelves, whether Seussian, Dahlian, or Narnian.
Fascinated by language, I was blessed with a near photographic memory when it came to spelling—words, names, places—and I had an inexplicable gift for and obsession with grammar that baffled my family, all of whom wondered what planet I hailed from.
In 1977, Plymouth came out with a model called the Arrow, and their jingle drove me crazy. It went, "Me and my Aaarroow." I would stand in front of the TV and say with exasperation, "It's 'My Arrow and I.'"
All through elementary and junior high, I continued to hone my love for language with extraordinary teachers who promoted and expected expanded vocabulary, excellent writing skills, and creative writing projects. At age eight, I started writing my first "novel"; in 7th grade, I voluntarily—and eagerly—read and used The Elements of Style; and I was on my junior high newspaper and yearbook staff. You might think my natural path would be journalism, but ...
Although I was drawn to the idea of working for a magazine or newspaper, I saw how aggressive reporters tended to be, and that didn't match my personality at all. And though I loved the notion of being a full-time writer, I didn't know exactly how I'd make a living at it. So I switched my sights to working for a publishing house as an editor, until I found out I'd have to move to New York (I was a native California girl who couldn't imagine moving) and was told that I would likely spend years in a cubicle by myself with a red pen, correcting whatever manuscripts they assigned to me for not much pay, and that I could spend years working my way up to a position of significance. Whether that would have been my experience or not, the idea of that was enough to steer me away.
So what was a girl to do? Go work for Nordstrom, of course!
Long story short: I was 19 and in an ambiguous place, unsure of what my life's path should look like. So on the suggestion of a coworker, I applied at Nordstrom and was hired within a week. I absolutely loved the company, its humble backstory, and its dedication to its clientele, and by the time I was 21, I was promoted to a significant management position. I continued to move up and before I knew it, I was 25—and while I had grown tremendously and developed excellent leadership skills, it hit me hard that the "smarts" of my youth weren't going to carry me into adulthood. I suddenly knew the time was right and that I finally felt ready to go to college.
Retail Derail + Education = Improved Me in Retail
I stayed with Nordstrom but stepped down from management, spent four years in community college while working a second job at Barnes & Noble (books again—I was in heaven!) and a third job tutoring Spanish, then got into my dream school: Scripps College, a small, esteemed women's college in the quaint town of Claremont, CA. After graduating, however, I fell into the first great job to come my way, and that was being the director of a small, boutique retail company. Yes, retail management again! Nine years later, the company had gone through changes and they could no longer afford me, so it was up to me to reinvent myself—only this time, it was my chance to create the career of my dreams.
While in my director position, I taught myself Adobe Illustrator and discovered a love and talent for graphic design I didn't know I had in me. I not only produced a uniting company newsletter every other month, but I also developed a 300 SKU vintage-inspired greeting card line with my girlfriend, which sold quite well in over 50 stores. I was hooked on the natural high I got while designing ... and I secretly wondered if I could create a career out of it.
The Book Doctor Is In
After connecting with dozens of authors while serving on two committees that hosted annual author events, one asked me to work on a project with him. That one didn't happen to pan out, but when he wrote a blog post beseeching his readers to suggest cover designers for a new ebook release, I jumped at the chance. In short, he hired me, he loved the design, I relished the work, and an idea was born. I was thrilled with the notion of this potential career path, and I spent time studying all I could find on the strategy and art of cover design. And as I had possessed a talent for typography for years, which is a crucial aspect of cover design, I had a nice head start. Before I knew it, this author referred me to another author. Only this time, she asked if I could design her interior too. In love with the idea of designing book interiors AND covers, I set out to learn all the conventions of layout artistry and master an appropriate program.
That first book quickly turned into a referral to another high-profile client, only this time she was also interested in having me be her editor. Though I had read numerous books on writing, editorial skills, and grammar for my own knowledge, and had edited countless articles, business letters, short stories, and the like for people over the years, I had never done it for pay. The thing about being an editor is that yes, it requires a great deal of knowledge and skill in the nuances and rules of the English language—no doubt about that. But it also requires a strong instinct about how words and paragraphs are crafted and how they flow together, about how those paragraphs must constitute a clear and harmonious presentation of content—an instinct that simply can't be taught. You can pursue a certificate in editing from a handful of schools that offer it, but in the world of editing, you either have "it" or you don't. I knew I had been blessed with this gift for years—the way others are blessed with gifts in music or art—but until then I hadn't had the opportunity to apply it as a professional.
This enormously bright, educated, successful woman who gave me my first shot at editing a full book loved my work and my perfectionist standard so much that she became my champion of sorts. She understood that everyone starts somewhere (thank you, Ora!), and that's when my new career was truly born.
Shortly afterward, a book I edited was spotted by the head of communications for Parker Aerospace. Impressed by the caliber of editing and professionalism of the book, she contacted me and offered me a position as a top freelance editor for their company. I happily accepted and have been editing complex newsletters and in-house articles, as well writing commissioned pieces, for them regularly ever since.
During this time, I had also embarked on a crash course in self-publishing—CreateSpace was brand new, and I mastered the platform quickly so that I could not only be an editor and designer, but also a publishing partner, taking the burden off authors who were already overwhelmed with the self-pub process. This proved to be a huge asset—every subsequent author I worked with greatly appreciated my hand-holding and "manuscript-to-market" skills, and this serendipitous marriage of my talents and passions was a dream come true—in fact, more than a dream, because until this all happened, I didn't even know such a career could exist for me.
Since those early fateful connections and that first book I edited and designed cover to cover, I've been blessed to connect with—and partner with—over fifty authors on their complete book production. Not only have I been able to build a unique business in this industry as a one-stop-shop for independent authors, but I've continued to learn by studying the trends and options in self-publishing, as well as add skills to my offerings (such as proofreading, ebook production, writing services, marketing materials creation, website design, and presentation crafting). I have also recently added ghostwriting to my offerings, penning the memoir of a notable male artist. It took years to discover, but through the memoirs I've edited and this one I've now ghostwritten in its entirety, I realize I've been given the extraordinary gift of being able to fully step inside someone and write their story in their voice, which has been a tremendous gift to unearth!
Not only that, but I've been enriched by every partnership—by the dear people I've worked with, the beautiful books we've created together, and the "honorary masters degrees" I feel like I've earned in a wide range of topics from being immersed in those books, everything from presentation skills to self-healing to parenting to Boomer-era toys to holistic leadership to Arctic fishing and more! Here's a small sampling of the diverse books I've had the privilege of working on, some of which have won notable awards:
Graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Scripps College, and was named to Who's Who Among American College Students.
Had an epistolary friendship with actress Audrey Meadows of The Honeymooners between 1989 until her death in 1996, met her on four occasions, and attended her private funeral.
Realized I had a gift for foreign languages when, in my sixth grade year, a Jordanian family moved in across the street, and I learned fairly easily to speak and understand Arabic with a pitch-perfect accent. I later formally studied Spanish, French, and German, as well as teaching myself to read Hebrew.
Am a huge classic movie fan and have a treasured collection of books, many of which are out of print, on old Hollywood, films, and favorite classic stars.
Me in front of my Hollywood book collection
Thanks to a vintage photo booth app, this is what I might have looked like if I lived in the 30s or 40s!
One day, I would love to have a classic car like this one!
Had an adult bat mitzvah at age 30 and was given the immense honor that same year of an aliyah—being called to perform a Torah reading—on Rosh HaShanah, in front of over 1,000 people, which required learning a special High Holiday cadence in order to properly chant the Hebrew for the occasion (talk about nerves!),
If I could be someone else for a day, I'd be Phryne Fisher, the intuitive, smart, witty, and glamorous female detective of the 1920s-set Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, based on the books by Kerry Greenwood and brilliantly portrayed by Essie Davis.
Was the only student in my junior high to ever win the school spelling bee all three years.
I love sports movies!
Am incredibly sentimental — I cry at touching movies, sweet commercials, and every time someone performs well or wins a medal in the Olympics.
Can recite the 50 states in alphabetical order in under 20 seconds (I learned it in 5th grade and never forgot!), as well as all the presidents in numerical order.
Am a huge fan of Gilmore Girls—it's not only an incredibly smart and witty show, with a perfect cast and brilliant writing, but it parallels my own life in remarkable ways!
Was honored to host one of my favorite authors, Fannie Flagg, at a women's author event in 2013.
Things I find hard to resist:
true vintage (40s/50s), reproduction, or vintage-inspired dresses
petting and cuddling my kitties every time I pass them
really good vegetarian pizza
(some girls buy shoes or handbags; I buy fonts!)
Films I've watched a ridiculous number of times and can quote extensively:
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Now, Voyager (1942)
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
Desk Set (1957)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
9 to 5 (1980)
The Big Chill (1983)
Terms of Endearment (1983)
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Enchanted April (1991)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
[ click on any image to enlarge ]
In addition, I've been blessed to work as a layout artist for She Writes Press for over four years, designing over 90 distinct interiors for their authors. I've also been interviewed on numerous podcasts, given webinars and seminars to writers groups, and participated in online conferences for writers. I am a member of IBPA, Independent Book Publishers Association, and was honored to be a webinar presenter for them in March 2017.
What I know without a doubt is that no matter the subject, no matter the genre, every book is precious to an author. I, myself, am a writer of fiction, so I understand this firsthand. This is why it's not only important to me to connect on a deep level with someone's book and to have harmony in personalities, but also to be able to guarantee bringing the highest standards to every book I produce from cover to cover, always upholding the legacy of traditional publishing. You deserve to partner with a professional who doesn't merely see your book as a "job," but rather as a deeply personal commitment to bringing your labor of love to beautiful fruition, collaborating with you every step of the way and ensuring its top-notch quality. That's the only way I know how to work. I absolutely love what I do, and my goal is for that love to show in every detail of each book I produce with an author ... making their publishing dream come true in the most enjoyable and fulfilling way.