Sunday, April 15, 2012
Saturday, March 17, 2012
I am part-Irish. Of course, I am also part-French, part-Welsh, part-Scottish and part-Native American Indian and heaven knows what else! But my mother’s maiden last name was Thompson. You can’t get much more Irish than that. Maybe that’s why I love all the Irish and Irish-influenced foods we have in America. Corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, Irish stew, potatoes in every form and fashion, Irish buttermilk scones…all delicious, and all foods that I enjoy both in the U.S. and in Ireland!
When I first traveled to Ireland, people warned me that the food wasn’t good, but I never understood what they were talking about. I had some of the best food ever in Irish pubs and country kitchens throughout the Emerald Isle.
Ireland is a place I love and I plan to go back there some day. I can’t wait to see the rolling green hills flecked with sheep and the massive rocky cliffs that overhang the sea. I can’t wait to feel the frothy spray of sea on my face while winds howl and riff through the sand dunes. I can’t wait to lie in the meadow grassland and scrub high on a hill and watch clouds chase one another in the sky. Ireland is a mystical place where dreams are forged and ancient Druid lives are remembered. Ahhh, but I digress…We were talking about St. Patrick’s Day.
According to Wilstar.com, concerning St. Patrick's Day, the person who was to become St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales about AD 385. His given name was Maewyn, and he almost didn't get the hob of Bishop of Ireland because he lacked the required scholarship. Far from being a saint, until he was 16, he considered himself a pagan. At that age, he was sold into slavery by a group of Irish marauders that raided his village. During his captivity, he became a Christian and adopted the name Patrick. He escaped slavery after six years and went to Gaul where he studied in the monastery under St. Germaine, Bishop of Auxerre in Burgundy, France for a period of twelve years. During his training he got the notion that his calling was to convert the pagans to Christianity. His wishes were to return to Ireland to do this. But his superiors, instead, appointed St. Palladius. Two years later, Palladius transferred to Scotland and Patrick was then appointed as Second Bishop to Ireland.
Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. And this fact rightfully upset the Celtic Druids, who had their own native religion. Patrick was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his indoctrination of the Irish country into Christianity. His mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. After that time, Patrick retired to County Down. He died on March 17 in AD 461. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.
Though originally a Catholic Holy Day, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday. Today, people celebrate the day with parades, wearing of the green, and drinking beer...and of course, kissing! One reason St. Patrick's Day might have become so popular is that it takes place just a few days before the first day of spring. Some say it's the first "green" of spring.
And so it is on this day that I want to wish all my friends, my creative counterparts and others, a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I’d like to invite you to join me in a day of celebrating with all green foods! Yep, I’ve decided to “go green” today. That means I’ll be eating cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, green peppers, green onions, lettuce, asparagus and spinach – all with green tea. For dessert, I will have a green Granny Smith apple. These are all foods that are nutritious and are featured prominently on ANY diet you choose whether it’s vegan, low-carb, the Paleo Diet, the Dukan Diet, or whatever. You simply cannot go wrong with green foods. And even the diets that tell you to not eat fruit will generally allow a Granny Smith green apple because it’s not too sweet. And, I'll probably go out and spend some "green" as a way to celebrate this festive day as well!
And yep, I'm open for "kisses." After all, it's St. Patrick's Day and as I mentioned...I'm Irish!
If you find yourself out at a pub having a green beer or two, or home having a heaping bowl of Irish stew, remember to have fun and not worry too much about it. You can get back to your healthy foods and “diet” tomorrow. I’ll leave you with the ole saying: “May the luck o’the Irish be with you!” Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day everyone!
“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.” ~Adrienne Cook
Music: Currently listening to the album "Sigh No More" by Mumford & Sons
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
I am a ghost. I stand in the shadows of celebrities and bestsellers. Ghost. I stand in the obscure corners of the world of time and space and I observe and listen…and I write.
In 2010, the movie, The Ghost Writer, by Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski (The Pianist), starring Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan hit the big screens. I was so excited that there was a movie about someone like me! In the story, Ewan McGregor plays an unnamed ghostwriter who signs on to pen the memoirs of former British prime minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). The money is good, but there’s a catch: the ghost’s predecessor perished under mysterious circumstances (his body washed up on the shore in an apparent suicide). So, does that mean Ewan McGregor’s character is in danger? I get chills just thinking about this. The movie was great and a fairly good representation of a ghostwriter’s life in many ways. Except we don’t always traverse through danger and deserted islands to get our stories. Not always.
Besides denoting the human spirit or soul, both of the living and the deceased, the Old English word, Ghost, is used as a synonym of Latin spiritus also in the meaning of "breath" or "blast" from the earliest attestations (9th century). For me and my clients, "ghost" means I am their ghostwriter. A hidden spirit no one knows about. I don't go on David Letterman and promote my books. The authors do. Confidentiality clauses prevent me from doing this. And I don't mind. I write clients' stories, their books. I step inside their shoes, their homes, and their hearts, and transform into whoever they want me to be.
I have been writing since I was young and learned how to read and write, and I've been a professional ghostwriter for more than 15 years. In addition to ghostwriting and editing books, I also write, direct and produce videos which include travel videos, music videos, book trailers-videos, inspirational, and marketing. And, I author several online music and pop culture columns for fun, as well as write a movie blog. I have been a professional writer, book doctor and editor for more than 25 years. I have written everything – radio & TV commercials, blogs, online columns, documentaries, websites, podcasts, screenplays, book proposals, personal books, short stories, newsletters, blogs, magazine articles, newspaper articles, songs, poems…you name it, I have written it. But about 15 years ago, I began to mostly ghostwrite books for clients as there became a great demand for this kind of work. I’m not the only one. There are an estimated 4 million listings under the Google search term ghostwriter. It’s a competitive business, but for the adventurous types, it’s perfect.
As a ghostwriter, I have to be an actress, a chameleon. I have to be able to take on the role of my client and write in that person’s voice whether it’s a male or female. I often have to travel the world to meet my clients and tell their stories. I have written books for Muslims who de-program terrorists, Afghanistan folks who escaped the Taliban, businessmen, U.S. soldiers from Iraq, Hollywood celebrities, sports figures, entrepreneurs, celebrities, attorneys, Navy Seal experts, fitness gurus, spiritual leaders, wild west figures, doctors, Mafia leaders, musicians, emerald and drug cartels, prison inmates, and more. You wouldn’t believe the people I have met. Some great and some not-so-great. Some patient and some not-so-patient. But they're all interesting!
I write both fiction and nonfiction books. And what is the process? Varied. Some clients give me notes scribbled on a napkin and others give me a sentence or two and say, “I want you to write a book about so and so…” From one sentence, I have created 600-page novels. Some give me more extensive outlines. And yes, some of the stories have been boring - so boring I could barely stay awake writing them - and others have been "on-the-edge-of-your-seat" exciting. Not all of the books have been bestsellers, but a good portion have and that’s rewarding for me. A wise man once told me that if I make others successful, I will be successful. And that is true.
People always ask me: Why don’t you write your own books? Well, I do. I have. I am. But, while I write my own books, I have to make a living since I'm single, so I serve as a “Ghost for Hire.” In addition to ghosting for clients, I offer marketing, branding, coaching and consulting services to help get their books to market. I coach them on every aspect of the publishing industry as most don’t have a clue. I also work with top New York literary agents and publishers as well as Hollywood film agents, and have helped negotiate six-figure advances for their books. Most people don’t know where to start when they want to write and publish a book. That’s why they need people like me. The Ghosts. I can tell you this: It’s a tough business. But, many businesses are. And it’s one I love very much.
A Few Tips for New, Aspiring Ghostwriters
For all of you who want to become ghostwriters, here are a few tips: First and foremost, do not under-price yourself. Never! You should always get paid in advance of each section of work. No exceptions! (Clients can and do disappear sometimes!) You can structure a payment plan for the client if that helps. And always, always, have the client sign a professional Agreement/Contract that outlines your services and fees, your responsibilities and their responsibilities. (The Author’s Guild has some excellent sample Agreements you can use). Since I also write book proposals and marketing plans, and edit and develop books as well as ghostwrite them, my fees range from $4,000 to $6,000 to $25,000 to $100,000 per book. I also critique books for clients and those fees are generally no more than $200 per 200-page book. Fees are flexible, depending on the project. The fee for ghostwriting a book or writing a book proposal includes finding an agent and publisher for my client. I write a book proposal for nonfiction books which includes sample chapters and a marketing analysis. Most of the time, a client will divide his/her payments into thirds. Sometimes, a client pays one-half the fee up front and the balance when I’m halfway through the project. My fee is flexible and generally depends on the type of book it is, if any of it has been written in rough draft, and the client’s budget. I have learned that the more a client pays, generally, the easier that person is to work with. The ones who pay the lower fees are the ones who will drive you crazy. I don’t know why, but this is true.
Second, it helps if you know the publishing industry inside and out. Learn about agents and publishers and connect with them as much as possible. Learn about Kindle and all the new online opportunities and digital publishing, self-publishing and print-on-demand. Learn about Social Media and creating trailers for the books much like a movie trailer. It’s a new world out there and many people are having a lot of success through these new publishing venues.
Third, invest in a killer website. Promote your site by buying Google Ad Sense ads and through Social Media. You have to market yourself which may include advertising in writers’ magazines and online.
Fourth, establish boundaries with your client up front. You will get to know your client very well though this process and will probably be available for him/her almost 24/7. But, that doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice time with your family and friends. I’ve had clients who clamored for my attention when I was with loved ones who were deathly ill, or even during holidays like Christmas and New Year’s. And they’ve demanded my attention even when I was sick in bed with the flu! It has been a big lesson – and a hard one – for me to learn how to establish boundaries so they don’t invade my privacy. Your client is and should be a priority, but there are limits to what you should do or not do. The client does not own you. Being able to meet a client’s expectations is important, so establish some firm rules and guidelines up front.
Realize that you are going to have to be flexible and this means the client may want to fly you to their location. I’ve traveled all over the world to meet clients and it is fun, but can be draining if you schedule too many trips within one month. With the availability of Skype, you can often “meet” with your clients online and not have to travel. But if you enjoy visiting new countries and cities, then the travel is fun. Never let the client coerce you into paying for your own travel expenses though. He/she should buy your airline ticket, reserve your hotel room, and provide funds for food and incidentals.
Enjoy the writing process. Enjoy learning about something new and becoming that “person” for a while. Take on your role as the actor who lives and breathes the story. Each book you write is “practice” for writing your own novel, your own bestselling book someday. And remember, if you make your client successful, then you’re going to be successful. Happy clients mean good referrals and there’s nothing better than getting a great paying job through word of mouth.
Remember that ghostwriting for clients is a business. Respect that and treat it like a business. That’s the only way you’ll survive. But enjoy every moment of being a Ghost. You never know who you might meet.
If You Would Like to Hire Me
If you would like to hire me as your ghostwriter, give me a call. We will discuss your story, your budget and if I'm the right fit for you. You just never know. Your book might be the next bestseller! And no matter what, I can guarantee you, it will be an exciting, rewarding adventure!