At Vital Wordplay, I am a certified editor with decades of experience and a big picture vision. I draw on skills learned as an award-winning writer to ensure content is engaging and accessible. I have edited and proofread books on self-help, health topics and more for publishers such as W. W. Norton, MIT and Counterpoint presses. I have also assisted self-published authors of memoir, self-help, and spirituality, university magazines, a national lab, an engineering institute, and non-profits focused on mental health, diversity, or conservation.
My word nerd tendency was fostered by growing up in the Midwest among rambunctious brothers. I interned at newspapers early on, and have freelanced since on topics such as public health challenges and climate change (see publication and other CV details below). I have won national and state awards, with my writing interests often at the intersection of science with aspects of healthy living. My approach is informed by a public relations career until 2016 of assisting faculty at a top-ranking medical school and an R1 research university communicate their work.
My passions include a mindfulness-related martial art (Aikido) that I am developing a book proposal on, therapeutic horsemanship, spiritual development, and traveling to Japan and elsewhere to broaden horizons.
I look forward to helping authors express their intelligence, passion, and personality on the page, whether using my organized, thorough approach to developmental edit, copy edit, or ghostwrite blogs, books, or other materials (see CV and below for more details).
The CV Skinny
Specializing in: Developmental and copy editing of nonfiction for adults, including narrative and historical nonfiction, books of journalism, memoir, psychology, self-help, spirituality, health/wellness, nature, sustainability and landscape design; literary and historical fiction. Ghostwriting books and other long-form content about social justice and other topics. See editing options on Services page.
Editorial areas since 2016:
Books for indie authors and publishers such as MIT Press, Counterpoint Press, Greenleaf Book Groups. 2022 projects include a substantive edit of a Black memoirist's work about marathon running; line edits for voice and style of stories in two books by Sacred Stories Publishing; a heavy edit and line edit (including of Spanish dialogue) for a memoir about the lost culture of handpicking crops; a copy edit of a psychologist's self-help book; a final proof of a memoir for Counterpoint Press; and a sensitivity read for MIT Press of a book about female sexuality.
Conservation and life science reports, features, etc., for clients such as The Nature Conservancy, and the Ecosystem Sciences Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 2022 projects include a medium edit of a 20-page outreach document, and updating 16 web pages about preserves, for the Texas chapter of TNC.
Educational material for W.W. Norton (life science books and web modules), and for a physician education website of Texas Health and Human Services.
Magazines for Deep Foundations Institute (part-time exec. editor, 2020 - Feb. 2022), and for UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences (proofreading); previously edited and wrote UT’s College of Natural Sciences magazine (2 years).
Training highlights: Aced UC, San Diego Copyediting Certificate Program (120+ hours); Certificate in Science Communication, UC, Santa Cruz; 12+ added courses on developmental editing and more
Writings: Internships at the Dallas Morning-News and Kansas City Star; developing press releases, newsletters, and features for faculty and staff for 10+ years at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and at Univ. of Texas at Austin colleges
See examples of freelance features and 3,000-word conference reports about diversity topics on Writings, Blog page
Honors: Diversity Travel Fellowship, World Conference of Science Journalists, and Journalist Travel Grant, Ecological Society of America Conference; nonfiction book competition judge for National Association of Science Writers and Writer’s League of Texas; Austin Creative Nonfiction Meetup director; Best of Texas Feature Writing Merit Award, Texas Public Relations Association, and National Mature Media, National Health Information awards (for AARP Segunda Juventud feature)
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!