Peal of Trumpets for First-Time Writers


Perhaps some of you may wonder what your loyal correspondent that writes this column also does. Then again, perhaps not. (Insert smiley face emoticon here, or maybe better, the tongue out one.)

It would take the better part of the allotted words for my column to describe all the different writing that I do/have done for consumer and trade magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and online publications about a wide swarth of topics and subjects. Then there’s the work-for-hire that I do for various corporations, businesses and individuals. Plus one of these days soon my music and culture blog will appear (I prefer to call it an “unpaid column”).

Among my professional activities of late has been editing books for self-publication, two in a row that first went public through Amazon’s CreateSpace service, which I must say both monetizes and democratizes book publishing quite fairly and efficiently. As a reader I tend to stick to books issued by actual publishing houses. But the literary Medicis don’t have a lock on quality. And I have been so impressed by two first time writers and their books I helped shepherd into print that I would like to semi-bully my pulpit here to discuss them. Just so I don’t seem too self-interested, I’ve already been paid for my services. Besides, they’re both worthy works deserving boosts here and elsewhere. And they renew my faith in how some first-time writers can delightfully surprise (though I’ve also come across manuscripts and even published books that prove that not everyone can write).

The first, Higher Nutrition by Luiza Reingatch, is subtitled “The Art & Science of Healthy Living.” I tend towards natural foods and non-Western and herbal medicinal practices – though sometimes I just have to have a bacon cheeseburger – and at first read of the manuscript was impressed at how Reingatch created a very concise compendium of alternative health, diet and lifestyle practices unlike any book I have come across before. Its author is a naturopathic practitioner trained in kinesiology and reiki, and she provides a very efficient overview of the full range of living better without modern chemistry, so to speak. The book includes references to scientific studies that back the credibility of what are largely ancient practices that can still enhance modern life. It also has a self-selection component using dowsing with a pendulum. Whether one is already immersed in what some may call “new age” living or new to it, the book is informative and useful. All that was there before I came into the process to refine and elevate the text. I’m proud to be a part of what she achieved, and even if I hadn’t been, it would be a book I’d highly recommend.

I also say the same of the next tome I edited, a unique take on the art of the memoir: Training Effects by Joanne Blackerby. In writing the book proposal that should take it from its initial self-published debut to being picked up by a major house, I referenced one of a number of other memoirs in the “competitive analysis” section that was the most recent one I read, Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club. In a similar way, it’s about (as the cover line says) “navigating though the chaos and challenges of life,” especially family dysfunction in one’s youth. But also those of fitness in Blackerby’s profession as a personal trainer.

The author – a natural writing talent with a voice all her own that was a sheer joy to edit – utilizes the core principles of personal training to structure how she tells not just her own sometimes harrowing story but also snapshots of her clients and their lives. Born in Kingston Jamaica to a doctor father of Chinese descent and a Caribbean creole mother from Trinidad, she grew up privileged yet also abused by her irrationally temperamental and violent father until the family had to flee the island’s political violence when she was five years old for Canada and then the US as a culturally awkward multiracial outsider. Later in life she was plagued by ADHD, PTSD and chronic depression. Yet her pursuit of physical fitness enabled Blackerby to address and overcome her personal trials to find fulfillment as a professional, wife and mother.

Both good reads with much to offer the soul. When my own books come to fruition, you’ll likely only read about them in the italicized note on me below. A modicum of personal modesty is becoming, but when I come across genuine talent in the course of my work, trumpeting that is called for.

Rob Patterson is a music and entertainment writer in Austin, Texas. Email

From The Progressive Populist, August 15, 2014

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