Life in So Many Words


The Not-So-Secret Life of Ghostwriters

This January, I, along with roughly 140 other ghostwriters, “emerged from the shadows,” as the New York Times put it, at the inaugural Gathering of the Ghosts conference, hosted by the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and Gotham Ghostwriters. If it sounds a bit paradoxical, that’s because it is. Ghostwriters have traditionally skirted the spotlight, hiding their identities so the authors they write for shine. When I was invited to speak on the “Be a Visible Ghost” panel at Gotham, I put on my favorite flowy dress and hopped a plane to snowy NYC. Never before had I been able [...]

4 Unexpected Lessons from a Fiction Workshop

Last October, I huddled in an overstuffed armchair with my laptop in front of me, a blanket drawn around me like an invisibility cloak, eavesdropping on the conversations in the room. Oh crap, I thought, as I began to put the pieces together, many of these women all know each other already. I gazed outside at the drizzly Scottish sky and longed for my cozy living room and my cat. Several months before, I’d been in a “season of yes,” in which I accepted any opportunity that arose. That included a writing workshop in Scotland. The problem was I signed [...]

Being a Visible Ghost: My Talk at the Gathering of the Ghosts Conference in NYC

This past January, I spoke at the first-ever Gathering of the Ghosts conference in NYC. I'll share more of my thoughts later, but for now, check out Gotham Ghostwriter's summary of my "Be a Visible Ghost," panel, in which three other writers and I shared how we find and keep clients. I talked about my SEO strategy, while Carol Tice described how to build a following on LinkedIn. Bryna Haynes said she finds most of her clients on Facebook, and Fran Hauser fosters online community by using the #bookthreads hashtag on Threads. Pauleanna Reid said she aspires to continually surprise [...]

Lessons in Self-Care from a Stained Glass Class

A few years ago, I was chatting with my business coach, when I blurted out, “I never want to work again.” She leaned in, looking concerned. “And I never want to write again.” She raised her eyebrows. I’d been seeing this business coach for a while, and she knew that I was a hustler: Self-starting, determined, and prolific, with twenty years in the book publishing industry. This confession must have caught her by surprise. “And why is that?” “Because I feel completely burnt out. I sit at a desk all day, telling other people’s stories. They’re out living their lives, [...]

4 Lessons I’ve Learned from 23 Years of Client Interviews

I’ve spent countless hours interviewing clients in my 23 years as a ghostwriter and editor. I use these interviews to glean information about their lives and get a sense of their voice so that I can commit their wild and precious life stories to the page. Over the 60 books I’ve written, I’ve noticed striking commonalities between my clients—although many of them couldn’t be more different. I’ve worked with hippie pot growers, billionaire tech gurus, survivors of domestic and childhood abuse, war heroes, and more. Still, the cliche that people are more similar than they’re different rings true in my [...]

Three Tips for Building Your Six-Figure Freelance Career

Becoming a successful freelancer doesn’t often happen overnight. It’s taken 23 years of experience in the publishing industry—and many trials and errors—to get to where I am now as a professional freelance writer. Becoming the best at what I do means carving out time to devote my most undivided attention to writing—and then charging appropriately and setting boundaries without backing down. Although there are endless lessons I’ve learned in pursuit of my dream, here's my recent Brainz article, featuring my top three tips for becoming a sought-after, high-earning freelancer.

Unleashing the Power of Memoir to Grow Your Audience

From 2008–2016, the world knew Michelle Obama as the First Lady of the United States, a woman mostly eclipsed by her husband's presidency. While she was reasonably popular in this role, her own star didn't fully rise until 2018, when she released her ghostwritten memoir, Becoming. While some book tours involve a smattering of poorly attended readings at small bookstores around the country, with maybe a handful of books signed and purchased, Michelle sold out entire arenas. She visited twelve American cities and charged up to $3,000 for a meet-and-greet backstage. Her superpower? “To create intimacy at scale,” Vox Media [...]

A Different Approach for Women’s Nonfiction and Memoir

In the world of story, the hero’s journey reigns supreme. Even if you’re not familiar with the name “hero’s journey,” you’d surely recognize the sequence of events that form the structure.   In my 22 years as a ghostwriter of 60 books, I've found that the hero's journey is not a one-size-fits-all structure, especially regarding women. In the interview process, where I began to tease out the themes of their life stories, I realized the call-to-adventure transformation doesn't align with their lived experience. It's not that these women's lives don't include adventure or trials. On the contrary, the women I've [...]