Here are some of the many award-winning book projects I’ve worked on with clients:
Salted Plums: A Memoir of Culture and Identity by Alison Hong Nguyen Lihalakha. Alison Hong Nguyen Lihalakha was just a small child when her family fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. From a refugee camp in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, Alison’s family settled in Panama City, Florida, where her father worked as a fisherman until his sudden death. Left to raise seven kids on her own, Alison’s mother moved the family to Kansas to be near relatives. There, Alison found herself torn between her dual identities as both an immigrant and an American kid. She felt suffocated under her mother’s strict expectations and began to reject anything Vietnamese. Quickly recognizing the disparity between her own home and the ones her mother cleaned for a living, Alison vowed to climb her way out of poverty and leave the life of an immigrant behind.
In the tradition of coming-of-age memoirs such as Sigh, Gone and Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, Salted Plums explores the nuances of race and culture for a young immigrant girl growing up while caught between two worlds. (Kahana Press, 2022)
Reading for Our Lives by Maya Payne Smart When her child went off to school, Maya Smart was shocked to discover a good education in America is a long shot, in ways that few parents fully appreciate. Our current approach to literacy offers too little, too late, and attempting to play catch-up when our kids get to kindergarten can no longer be our default strategy. We have to start at the top. The brain architecture for reading develops rapidly during infancy, and early language experiences are critical to building it. That means parents’ work as children’s first teachers begins from day one too—and we need deeper knowledge to play our positions.
Reading for Our Lives challenges the bath-book-bed mantra and the idea that reading aloud to our kids is enough to ensure school readiness. Instead, it gives parents easy, immediate, and accessible ways to nurture language and literacy development from the start. Through personal stories, historical accounts, scholarly research, and practical tips, this book presents the life-and-death urgency of literacy, investigates inequity in reading achievement, and illuminates a path to a true, transformative education for all.
Voice Lessons: A Sisters Story by Cara Mentzel. Voice Lessons is the story of one younger sister growing up in the shadow of a larger-than-life older sister – looking up to her, wondering how they were alike and how they were different, and ultimately learning how to live her own life and speak in her own voice on her own terms. As Cara Mentzel studied, explored, married, gave birth (twice), and eventually became an elementary school teacher, she watched her sister, Idina Menzel, from the wings and gives listeners a front row seat to the opening nights of Rent and Wicked, a seat at the Tonys, and a place on the red carpet when her sister taught millions more, as the voice of Queen Elsa in the animated musical Frozen, to “Let It Go”. As Cara puts it, “My big sister is Tony Award-winning, gravity-defying, ‘Let It Go’-singing Idina Menzel, who has received top billing on Broadway marquees, who has performed for Barbra Streisand and President Obama, at the Super Bowl and at the Academy Awards. The world knows her as Idina Menzel, but I call her Dee.” Voice Lessons is their story. (Macmillan, 2017)
Reimagined by Barbara Rapaport. All her life, Barbara Rapaport had been struggling to reconcile two sides of her personality: the one who felt compelled to remain behind the scenes and the one who gave herself permission to stand in the spotlight. In this candid and emotionally true memoir, Rapaport recounts her harrowing experience battling a rare form of cancer. The story of Rapaport’s suffering as a result of her cancer surgery, and subsequent prolonged recovery, reveals that the tyranny of her physical pain wasn’t the worst of what she had to endure. Rather, it served as a smokescreen for an even greater agony – that neither of her personas, the quiet good girl nor the successful warrior, deserved to live. With extraordinary self-awareness, Reimagined toggles back and forth between Rapaport’s adult cancer journey and the childhood trauma that gave rise to these false beliefs. Her story beautifully illustrates a truth many of us live with: that our childhood demons are never very far away. But with courage and fortitude we can gain the perspective necessary to acquire what’s long avoided us: radical self-acceptance. (Real-time Perspectives Press, 2021)
I Don’t Wanna Be Pink: How a single, 39-year-old woman refused to let breast cancer and its fervent culture define her by Dena Taylor. A month before she was to celebrate her fortieth birthday in Italy, Dena Taylor was diagnosed with breast cancer. In seconds, she was transformed from enthusiastic traveler to frightened patient. Told with grace, candor, and inimitable wit, I Don’t Wanna Be Pink is the story of a single, independent woman and the tumor that threatens to change her life. (Outskirts Press, 2019)
Poco a Poco: A Memoir, by Michele Morris. What happens when a vacation turns into tragedy 5,000 miles from home? Poco a Poco follows Michele Morris’s courageous journey from her husband’s shocking collapse in the Madrid airport to her heartbreaking loss six months later. Recounting her experience with brutal honesty and raw emotion, Morris invites readers to travel with her from Spain to Colorado on a journey of grief, loss, and recovery. (Outskirts Press, 2018) Winner, Silver Nautilus Book Award
Soberevolution: Evolve into sobriety and recover your alcoholic marriage by Matt Salis. Matt Salis is a husband, father, hard worker and cheerful neighbor with a strong faith and a respectable reputation. But he had a secret that was killing him slowly, and it threatened to take away everything. Matt was a high-functioning alcoholic, and along with his wife, Sheri, they were holding on by their fingernails. In soberevolution, Matt and Sheri share all they have learned about the science of addiction, dealing with emotions and resentments, and rebuilding trust, family and intimacy. (Stone Soup Publishing, 2020)
The Unlikely Gift of Breast Cancer by Diane Simard. This memoir is about waking up in mid-life and learning to lead with your heart instead of your head. Diane Simard—a journalist, angel investor, and aerospace executive who was raised in a small Nebraska town—weaves an engaging account of her experience with Stage III breast cancer that is raw, unapologetic, and humorous. Her sobering—yet uplifting—account describes in explicit detail the fatigue, nausea, sights, and smells of her treatment protocol, as well as the oscillating swirl of emotions that forced her to slow down and take stock of the first 50 years of her life. (Book Baby, 2019)
Playing God in Chair Twelve: A Juror’s Faith-Changing Journey by Carl Dubler. Playing God in Chair Twelve: A Juror’s Faith-Changing Journey is the riveting true story of a notorious double-murder, a life-or-death judgment, and the faith journey that followed. Carl’s thought-provoking story reveals what happens when ordinary people must decide between justice and mercy, life and death. (Golden Elm Press, 2019)
Taste the Sweetness Later: Two Muslim Women in America by Connie Shoemaker. This inspirational book features the immigration stories of two Muslim women – one from Iraq, one from Libya. In sharing their stories, Connie gives readers a hopeful look at how we might bridge the social and political chasm that divides America today. (Amity Bridge Books, 2019) Winner, Colorado Book Award
Because She Was by Shelley Brouwer. When her third child was born with disabilities and cognitive delays, Shelley Brouwer was thrust into an uncertain world. With equal parts fear and determination she set out to help her family and her daughter thrive. Navigating the murky waters of an undiagnosed disability and rare medical disorder, Shelley learned as she went, and discovered along the way that her young daughter was her greatest teacher. Then the unthinkable occurred, at the age of 22, her sweet daughter died. Written with deep insight and humor, Shelley invites you to walk with her through this universal tale of a mother’s love. (Outskirts Press, 2019)
Darwin’s First Theory: Exploring Darwin’s Quest to Find a Theory of the Earth by Rob Wesson. Wesson, scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey, reexamines Darwin’s life and his Beaglevoyage to illuminate the great scientist’s contributions to geology. (Pegasus Books, 2017)
Caged Eyes: An Air Force Cadet’s Story of Rape and Resilience by Lynn Hall. An insider’s account of misogyny and rape in the US military and her extraordinary path to recovery and activism. (Beacon Press, 2017)
The Good Daughter: Secrets, Life Stories and Healing by Connie Shoemaker. A memoir about caregiving by an adult only child who is responsible for a father with Alzheimer’s and a demanding mother who competes for attention. (Amity Bridge Books, 2015)
The Third Law by Tamra Ryan. This book explores what is required for chronically unemployed and impoverished women to create new lives for themselves. Gold Medal Winner, 2015 Axiom Business Book Awards for Women/Minorities in Business, Gold Medal Winner, 2015 Living Now Book Awards for Social Activism/Charity, Winner, The Book Excellence Award for Civic/Social Change (Gilpin House Press, 2013)
A Mind to Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland by Sydney Nathans. This book brings to life a vivid cast of characters and illuminates the changing meaning of land and landowning to successive generations of rural African Americans. (Havard University Press, 2017)
This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage by Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad . Do you want a long, successful relationship? Do you wish to be crazy-in-love when you are eighty? Do you covet a sex life that lasts as long as you do? Are you willing to laugh, cry, draw your lover closer? Then this memoir is for you. Find encouragement, entertainment, and inspiration in the wisdom, humor, and poignancy of This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage. . (Mulberry Hill Press, 2013)
Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversation for Couples Becoming Families by Stephanie Dueger. Can anyone really prepare for parenting? Yes! Couples often spend surprisingly little time getting ready for this huge rite of passage. They may paint the nursery, but neglect discussing how their roles may change. They may have a car seat ready, but not a will. The first of its kind, this interactive book provides couples with essential conversation-starters and action items to complete before becoming parents. (Author Academy Publishers, 2021)
Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte by Suzanne Hoffman. A groundbreaking book about the women and families behind the wine estates of one of the world’s greatest viticultural regions – Piemonte, Italy. Silver medal winner, Independent Book Publishers Association Best Regional Non-Fiction, Silver medal winner, Foreword INDIES Reviews. (Under Discovered Publishing, 2016)
Remaking a Life: How Women Living with HIV/AIDS Confront Inequality by Celeste Watkins-Hayes. In the face of life-threatening news, how does our view of life change—and what do we do it transform it? Remaking a Life uses the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a lens to understand how women generate radical improvements in their social well being in the face of social stigma and economic disadvantage. (University of California Press, 2019)
The Athena Principles: Simple Wellness Practices for Overworked Professionals by Kathy Robinson. On the outside, you have it all together, masterfully juggling everything that comes your way. But on the inside, you’re overwhelmed by how busy you are, you’re tired of saying yes when you mean no and you’re starting to feel drained by the monotony of a routine that rarely brings you joy. Sometimes you wonder if you even know what brings you joy. The Athena Principles will help you reconnect with your mind, body and spirit by introducing you to simple wellness practices. (Collabria Publishing, 2020)
SHOUT: A loud and lively book showcasing the talents, thoughts, ideas and voices of kids who are differently “able” by Pat Loewi. SHOUT is an original, one-of-a-kind book with over 70 pieces of stunning art and words of wisdom from 90 intellectually and physically challenged youth. (Shout, Inc. 2015)
Drip, Drop and Drizzle: A Journal for Growing Your Child’s Creativity by Mary Ostrowski. Drip, Drop and Drizzle supports your children’s creative expression by: 1) starting with their brilliant ability to imagine and draw; 2) then guiding them to write about their beautiful drawing; and, 3) prompting them to voice their valuable opinions on various topics through written expression. (Halo Publishing, July 2019)
Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and Other Forgotten Foods By Jennifer A. Jordan. In Edible Memory, Jordan examines the ways people around the world have sought to identify and preserve old-fashioned varieties of produce. (University of Chicago Press, 2015)
Money Secrets: Keys to Smart Investing by Kim Curtis. Money Secrets provides a front row seat to what the financial industry doesn’t want you to know about investing–from an insider who believes you deserve the truth. Independent Book Publishers IPPY Awards, Silver Medalist; Benjamin Franklin Book Awards, Silver Medalist; International Readers’ Favorite Award, Business/Finance category; USA Book News Awards, Business/Finance category. (Financial Literacy Press, 2014)
An Insider’s Guide to Orthopedic Surgery by Elizabeth Kauffman. Nearly two million Americans undergo elective orthopedic surgery each year, and the numbers keep growing. When you are ready for your procedure, you’ll want a copy of this book to prepare yourself (and your home) for a quicker, more thorough recovery. (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018)
The Business of Wanting More: Why Some Executives Move From Success to Fulfillment and Others Don’t by Brian Gast. Amazon Bestseller, Leadership Books, Finalist in the ‘Self-Help: Motivational’ category of The 2012 USA Best Book Awards; Finalist in the Motivational category of the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. (Barnegat Press Company, 2012)
Let Love In: Open Your Heart and Mind to Attract Your Ideal Partner by Deb Berndt, A simple system to change your dating destiny—and it really works! Love starts within you and flows out into the world, not the other way around. This book helps you remove blocks to allow true love into your life. You will attract the right life partner and improve your relationships through a simple three-step plan that uses self-hypnosis to get your mind in the right place for love. (Wiley Publishing, 2010)
Managing Across Cultures: The Seven Keys to Doing Business with a Global Mindset by Charlene Solomon. Whether you run a giant corporation or work in a small business, it’s more than likely that you regularly deal with people of different cultures—from customers and suppliers to salespeople and colleagues.
It simply can’t be overstated: You will have trouble succeeding in business today if you don’t appreciate and know how to actively manage global cultural diversity. Managing Across Cultures examines why people around the world behave as they do and provides actionable tactics for succeeding in today’s global business environment. (McGraw-Hill, 2009)