Working with Elaine

Writing Your Memoir

Writing a memoir with a ghostwriter is a collaborative effort, but your book is always your book. Here’s what you can expect:

My job is to help distill your experience into a coherent, engaging book that people will want to read. If we continue after our initial call, we’ll decide the overall content and focus of your book. A memoir doesn’t need to cover your entire life: if may focus on your years in the Navy or medical school or your time spent hitchhiking through the South.

She’s flexible, good-humored, and responsive.

Fiona Blackshaw, Senior Managing Editor, The Urban Institute, Washington, DC
I’ll send you a letter of agreement that will outline what we each agree to do, costs, and a suggested timeline. We’ll go over it together, revise until we’re both satisfied, and sign it.

I’ll conduct extensive interviews or you can supply all or part of a written draft (or both). Interview calls will be recorded and transcribed.

I’ll ask for a timeline—nothing fancy, just a basic list of what happened, when and where, and who was involved.

The first part of our collaboration is mainly talking. During this time, I’ll work out a detailed chapter outline. Later in our collaboration, I’ll write more, talk less, and send chapters for your review.

Your job is to be the expert on your own life. I’ll ask many, many questions to get the detail we’ll need. These questions are sometimes intimately personal. At times you may need to relive experiences you’d rather forget. After this, you’ll be responsible for reviewing our draft and working with me to finalize it.

Together, we’ll create a compelling story told using your voice.

Working with an Editor

If you have a draft of a report, proposal, or training guide—or  you’re working on one—I can work with you to assess your readers’ beliefs, knowledge, and assumptions. Your case study or report can be clear, well-organized, and error-free, but it may fall flat on its face if it isn’t pitched to your intended audience. I’ll revise your document so you achieve the greatest reader impact.

We’ll talk as the work develops to make sure we’re progressing as planned. This collaborative approach avoids tear-your-hair-out revisions as the project deadline looms. It also means the finished work won’t contain any surprises. You will know what to expect, and when.

She has an adept sense of humor.

Javy Awan, Director of Publications (retired), Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, DC
My experience with the following situations will let us put your project to bed successfully:

Projects Short, Long, and Too Long

You don’t need to be writing a book to benefit from an editor. I’ve worked with authors of blogs, briefs, and case studies of 500 to a few thousand words.

I’ve also worked on reports of over 600 pages. Lengthy reports are manageable with my careful eye for necessary detail and tight organization. Inconsistencies are hunted down. Unneeded repetition is banished. (Is repetition ever needed? You bet!)

If your team has created a report or proposal that is just too long, I can shorten it with judicious, thoughtful cutting. The writing will be reorganized and sharpened without altering the content.

Multiple Writers and ESL Writers

If your project has more than one writer, I’ll combine your different styles into a single, seamless voice. If your team includes ESL writers, I can blend their contributions into the final document flawlessly. I’ve worked on papers by authors from 38 countries on six continents.

The Backstory

Canada FlagI was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and grew up in Seattle. I’ve also lived and worked in Iowa, Tennessee, Texas, and Michigan. After many years away I’m delighted to be back home in the Northwest.

I finished my doctorate in English literature at the University of Washington in Seattle. I wrote my dissertation on Shakespeare.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.

What can Shakespeare possibly have to do with your writing?

Writers begin as readers. Reading Shakespeare well means reading hard, paying attention both to the smaller things (choices of words and details) as well as the larger things (the themes of the plays and how the scenes and acts work together).

As a memoir ghostwriter, I’m familiar with the fictional techniques we’ll use to bring your story to life because my university education (as well as my on-going education since then) included wide-ranging study of fiction, poetry, and drama. To that I add over twenty years’ experience as an editor in multiple fields and formats, which has honed my skill at organization, emphasis, and reader analysis.