Coaching an Author
Karel came to me for help shaping and organizing her complicated message concerning living ethical and environmentally and socially responsible lives in our still-evolving world. I revised some of the chapters and wrote detailed and extensive questions and comments to help her clarify her intersecting themes and characterize her intended audience for Thinking Green: Ethics for a Small Planet so that she could address them most effectively. This audience analysis included considering her readers’ religious beliefs and level of scientific knowledge.
I never understood why so many writers begin their acknowledgments by thanking their editor and saying how their book wouldn’t have been possible without her. Now I understand.
After asking close friends to read the first draft of Thinking Green I hired Elaine to help me because my friends either quit talking to me, had nothing constructive to say, or didn’t read it at all. I can’t blame them.
Elaine imposed an organization on my writing, asked the hard questions dealing with logic and consistency, and helped put me in touch with my target audience. I too will be citing her in my acknowledgements. She is worth every cent she charges!
Karel L. Rogers, PhD, Thinking Green: Ethics for a Small Planet
Skillful Cutting and Reader Analysis for NIH Grants
My work for KDH Research & Communication (KDHRC) involves drastically cutting draft NIH proposals to fit tight page limits while maintaining the integrity of the proposal and meeting strict NIH proposal submission requirements.
Please do not repeat this to Dr. Holst and her team, but I think they have the most difficult audience of all my clients. When we analyze our audiences, most of us can describe a group of people with overlapping experience, expertise, and characteristics. This situation is partially true for KDHRC. But when they send off a proposal that will undergo several rounds of intense peer review, they don’t know exactly who their readers will be. Their reviewers will have specific expertise in, say, psychology or statistics or public health. That diversity in the reviewers’ disciplines means every part of the proposal needs to ring true with each reader’s background—and that’s a tall order.
Most recently, I revised a successful proposal for the KDHRC initiative “Latinas con Lupus, Promotoras con Información,” which will conduct outreach to Latinas with suspected or diagnosed lupus.
Elaine’s revisions of our NIH proposals are gorgeous. As both an applicant and a reviewer, I know how important a clear, concise proposal is. Elaine’s work not only helps improve our scores, but she makes my job easier. She is skilled at meeting strict NIH submission requirements, and she makes our proposals fit tight page limits without sacrificing meaning. She always delivers as promised, and she’s easy to work with.
If you are thinking of adding a professional writer to your team, I strongly recommend Elaine to anyone who wants to show their work in the best possible light.
Kristen D. Holtz, PhD, KDH Research & Communication, Atlanta, GA
Comprehensive Marketing for a New Firm
When Marydale launched her consulting firm, Fresh Advantage®, she faced a variety of marketing headaches. An unresponsive website development team had left her with a half-finished site; she needed national exposure for improved credibility; and she needed ongoing web content for the hospital and other institutional executives who form her client base. Fresh Advantage® is dedicated to aiding hospitals, schools, and other organizations not only to improve the taste and nutritional value of the food they serve, but to use their food service operations to enhance clinical care, patient support, and community programs to promote population health. I collaborated with Marydale to help solve some of her marketing challenges by overhauling the website content. Changes included adding a white paper and client case studies. The white paper describes how nonprofit hospitals can meet new IRS requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by using food learning and community-based food programs.I also wrote an article for a national journal (Sustainability: The Journal of Record) about Marydale’s pivotal work with Plow to Plate, an innovative hospital-based food program that demonstrates how a community hospital can be a change agent in promoting local population health.
Elaine has a unique combination of skills that enables her to be extremely effective in developing communications materials for professionals. In working with her I’ve found these talents to include:
- Great (not just good) listening skills
- Equally strong research skills
- The ability to absorb new information quickly and then synthesize the content into a compelling narrative using language appropriate to the target audience(s).
Importantly, she is also able to take one’s “story” (of skills, experience, and capacity) and assist a client in understanding how to communicate all of that into a rational appeal that works in marketing documents, advocacy appeals, blogs to demonstrate currency and know-how, and when needed, scholarly writings.
Marydale DeBor, JD, Fresh Advantage®, Boston, MA
Reporting Transportation Issues
I offer a broad background in editing and revising documents of all lengths in civil engineering and transportation theory. In addition to being one of two editors for the 2015 Highway Capacity Manual, I edited multiple chapters in the 2010 HCM; the 2015 Access Management Manual; and the 2015 Access Management Application Guide. I’ve also worked on conference proceedings and special reports on subjects such as women’s issues in transportation, developing countries, and U.S. maritime flag registration.
Since 2007 I’ve completed 26 volumes of the Transportation Research Record and have contributed to others, including Marine Transportation and Port Operations (No. 2166); Asphalt Materials and Mixtures (Nos. 2293, 2372); Traffic Signal Systems (No. 2356); Concrete Materials (No. 2342); and Urban and Traffic Data Systems (No. 2308).
Because Record authors come from around the world, I’ve had the opportunity to work on papers by non-native-English speakers from over 38 countries (on six continents!).
Elaine Eldridge, PhD, understands readers’ expectations and needs and she respects the author’s message while enhancing its quality and effectiveness. She has edited ~300 technical civil engineering papers, many by authors for whom English is a second language, for theTransportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board with great success. These papers span a variety of transportation subjects, from pavements to geotechnical engineering to highway operations to safety and human factors to planning to transit and railway engineering.
Dr. Eldridge is a true professional, ready to listen to her client . . . moreover, she has an adept sense of humor that defuses any anxieties and that increases the likelihood of mutual understanding and success. Any time I have recommended Dr. Eldridge to a colleague, I have received grateful and complimentary reports about her work, her reliability, and her contributions to the project.
Javy Awan, Director of Publications, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, DC
Providing “thoughtful comments and queries”
My work with the Urban Institute, which publishes extensively on social and economic policy research, includes everything from editing books (Strengthening Communities with Neighborhood Data) to research reports, guides, and briefs. Subjects range from early childhood education, improving the lives of boys and young men of color, and ACA special enrollment periods to LGBTQ rights, credit card debt, and pension reform. Some projects cover specific cities or states; others are national in scope.
Key requirements for this work are making certain the authors’ organization, emphasis, and word usage effectively conveys their message; meeting Urban’s publications requirements; and honoring sometimes sensitive subjects.
Elaine is my most-trusted freelance editor. She has demonstrated her skill over the past three years that I have worked with her, from simple and straightforward line editing to heavier editing to the substantive work of changing tone and structure. I prefer to save my most difficult or unwieldy projects for her deft editorial eye. I can count on her for diligent and detail-oriented work and thoughtful comments and queries. Elaine provides accurate assessments of the hours she will need for a project, asks questions when she needs to, and is always open to feedback.
Elizabeth Forney, Senior Production Editor, The Urban Institute, Washington, DC
Cutting without Damaging
In college—all the way through graduate school—I had a terrible time coming up with the minimum number of pages an assignment required. If a professor said 8–10 pages, struggling to the top of page 7 was a victory. Gary, however, had the opposite problem. He needed to distill many years of meticulous primary research into a length acceptable to his book publisher. My job required condensing his manuscript without omitting key information and without altering his distinctive writing style.
I am absolutely delighted with your revisions! This is precisely the kind of pruning I had in mind—you’ve managed to make my prose much more concise but leave both the substance and my sentence style intact. . . . I am deeply indebted to you for doing exactly what I needed done, and so promptly; you’ll be in my Acknowledgments.
Gary Stark, Banned in Berlin: Literary Censorship in Imperial Germany, 1871–1918
Persuading an Unreceptive Audience
As part of a state institution on a restricted budget, the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) at Grand Valley State University needed a persuasive, cogent, and on-going rationale to explain and justify its expenditures and expansion in a university that emphasizes undergraduate education.Priscilla and I worked on a variety of internal and external reports to promote OGS, including a business plan, an assessment report, a long-term strategic plan, a “state of graduate education” report, and lengthy responses to the University’s 10-year accreditation review by the regional Higher Learning Commission.
Elaine has a remarkable skill in taking complex written materials and making them more easily understood by a general audience. She works hand-in-glove with the author to ensure that the message is clear, consistent, and articulate, cutting, reorganizing, asking questions to fill in gaps, as necessary.
The work Elaine did with me involved revising university reports designed for both internal and external audiences. Her work was very instrumental in gaining a wider audience for the matters discussed and enhancing their understanding of the affairs of the division I headed.
I highly recommend Elaine to anyone who needs an objective, personable, reliable, highly talented writer. She can handle a wide range of topics and written products with equal skill.
Priscilla Kimboko, PhD, Grand Valley State University
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Making a Client’s Job Easier
One of my unvarying goals is to relieve a client’s stress level, even if only a little, by delivering on-target, on-time work. So I was extremely pleased when Dean wrote that I made his job easier.As managing editor of the Second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2), Dean oversees and coordinates the publication of technical research reports and professional guidance in the general areas of safety, highway renewal, travel reliability, and transportation capacity. Dean works with researchers and authors, staff and freelance writers, production editors, copy editors, designers, and photographers and must juggle multiple projects and details. Over the past several years I’ve worked on a variety of SHRP 2 reports, such as Precast Concrete Pavement Technology, Freight Demand Modeling, Incorporating Greenhouse Gas Emissions into the Collaborative Decision-Making Process, and Improving Traffic Incident Scene Management. Many of these SHRP 2 reports are in excess of 500 pages.
Elaine quickly grasped our editorial style and the particular needs of the complex technical reports for our transportation research program at the National Academies.
Her sharp eye for finding inconsistencies in a manuscript and ability to offer excellent suggestions for reorganizing and rewriting text for clarity and conciseness have proved invaluable.
I can always count on her to deliver quality work on time. Elaine is a reliable, seasoned pro who has helped make my job easier.
Dean Trackman, Managing Editor
Second Strategic Highway Research Program
Transportation Research Board of the National Academies
Elaine quickly understood our project needs and time line and delivered great writing and editing that helped create a strong project.
One key element of her contribution was a comprehensive case study that helped deliver a clear message for Greening Food and Beverage Services: A Green Seal™ Guide to Transforming the Industry.
Cheryl Baldwin, PhD, Senior Consultant at Pure Strategies, Reston, VA (formerly with Green Seal)
Elaine’s proposal was far and away the best of those that were submitted, and one of the best we have ever received. She had obviously done her homework, and her response to the proposal requirements was compelling and persuasive.
Nancy Combs-Morgan, Heartland Unitarian Universalist Association, Indianapolis, IN (presently with MidAmerica region)
I just wanted to take the time while it was fresh in my mind and thank you for the work you did on the AWE newsletter articles. They all sound great. I am just amazed at how much better our promos have become. Thank you so much!
Connie Sweet, Connection Graphics, Lansing, MI
I would like you to accept my thanks not only for your competence and invaluable help with writing the proposal but also for your patience and kind understanding. I was fortunate to work with you and I learned a lot in the process.
Dalila Kovacs, PhD, Department of Chemistry, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI