Editing Background

Mission: At Vital WordPlay, I use my eagle eye and ability to see a project’s larger vision to help create accessible, engaging content. My editing approach is informed by decades of professional writing in areas such as conservation, health, and science (see A Scribe's Life below, or a 75-word bio here).

BIO: My book nerd tendency was fostered by growing up in the Midwest amidst rambunctious brothers. I supplemented undergrad biology courses with poetry and Spanish literature classes. I left a graduate school program in cell biology for UC, Santa Cruz’s program that turns scientists into journalists (1995), and never looked back.

My editing, proofreading, and fact checking is informed by 19 years of helping university faculty effectively present their work. As a freelance editor and writer, I recently aced the 120-plus hours of coursework in the UC, San Diego Copyediting Certificate program.

I have led a creative non-fiction writing group in Austin and have judged non-fiction book competitions at the state and national level.

My editing-related clients include self-published authors of memoir and spiritual self-help, a construction engineering magazine, W. W. Norton publishing house, The Nature Conservancy, and a climate research unit at a national lab. Learn more from my CV, Testimonials below, and the Services web page.


A Scribe's Life

I began as a medical writer after interning at The Dallas Morning News and the Kansas City Star. Those internships taught me to write tight, get the facts right, and always keep readers’ needs in mind. My stories often focus on healthy living topics, including covering conservation and public health developments, diversity initiatives, and sustainable landscape design.

I have received national and state awards for articles about healthy aging (2006) and conservation topics (2010). I have also received journalism travel fellowships for a national meeting of conservationists, and an international meeting of science journalists (2017).

My travels have taken me to Japan and elsewhere to train in Aikido, a mindfulness-based martial art. I am also fascinated by human behavior and spiritual development, and I volunteer with a therapeutic horsemanship group in Central Texas.

Learn writing details from my CV and the Writings page.


I truly enjoyed working with Barbra. Her attention to detail and suggestions exceeded my expectations. Initially she started by copyediting and proofreading my memoir, but after working through my initial manuscript and seeing its potential, she gave me some recommendations on where we could improve the project. We decided to continue the work and through additional developmental editing we created a new manuscript that vastly improved the book. All I can say is that I’m grateful for her suggestions! I am thankful for her enthusiasm and willingness to immerse herself in the subject of my book. I strongly recommend Barbra!

Roman Castilleja, Rowing Home memoir


©2019 by Vital Wordplay