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Mission & Me: About Me
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Wordsmith Background

At Vital Wordplay, I am a certified book coach and 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 big ideas, health topics and more for publishers such as W. W. Norton,  MIT, Stanford, and Counterpoint presses. I have also provided all stages of writing assistance to self-published authors of memoir, self-help, and more, in addition to editing for 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 features often focused on healthy living matters. 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 have practiced for decades, broad spiritual development, traveling overseas, and reading memoir, biography, and historical fiction.

I look forward to helping authors overcome writing-related challenges to expressing their intelligence, passion, and personality on the page, while applying my high-touch approach to coaching, developmental and line editing, or ghostwriting books and book proposals (see CV and below for more details). 

Barbra Rodriguez 

Mission & Me: About Me

The CV Skinny

Specializing in: Book idea development and early content or completed draft coaching, developmental and line editing of nonfiction for adults, and of women's fiction and historical fiction. Nonfiction focus includes memoir, psychology, self-help, broad spirituality, health/wellness, nature essays, sustainability, and landscape design. I also ghostwrite select nonfiction. See project options on Services page.  

Editorial areas since 2016:

  • Book development for indie authors and six publishers. Recent projects have included coaching a historical fiction writer on the early structure of her work; providing a substantive edit of a Black memoirist's work about marathon running; developmental and line edits (for voice and style) of a memoir from Stanford University Press and a book on sustainable food choices from MIT Press; copy and line editing of stories in two books by Sacred Stories Publishing; a line edit and copy edit (including of Spanish dialogue) for a memoir about the lost culture of handpicking crops;  a sensitivity read for MIT Press of a book about female sexuality.

  • Editing conservation and life science reports, web features, etc., for clients such as The Nature Conservancy, and the Ecosystem Sciences Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

  • Editing educational material for W.W. Norton (life science books and web modules), and updating and editing physician education modules for Texas Health and Human Services. 

  • Editing a construction engineering journal for the Deep Foundations Institute (part-time exec. editor, 2020 - Feb. 2022), and proofreading and writing for a magazine for UT Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences; previously wrote and edited content in UT’s College of Natural Sciences magazine for 2 years.

Training highlights: Certified book coach through Author Accelerator (400+ hours, memoir and fiction); aced UC, San Diego Copyediting Certificate Program (120+ hours); certificate in Science Communication, UC, Santa Cruz; dozens of added courses on the development of memoir, fiction, working with diverse authors, and more.

Writings: Developing features for websites such as The Nature Conservancy, alumni magazines, and stand-alones such as AARP's Segunda JuventudNature, Texas Co-op Power; developing press releases, newsletters, and features for faculty at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and at Univ. of Texas at Austin colleges. See example features and one of the 3,000-word conference reports I've written at Writings, Blog page

Honors: Diversity Travel Fellowship, World Conference of Science Journalists, and Journalist Travel Grant, Ecological Society of America Conference; serving as a nonfiction book competition judge for the National Association of Science Writers and the 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).

Mission & Me: Testimonials

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

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