February, 2016:


A few of the books I've edited

A few of the books I’ve edited

For a time I called myself a Forest Guide, it was a unique way of explaining editing to new, usually first-time, authors. I would guide them through their forest of words, especially when they had gotten to that place where they couldn’t see the forest for the trees, as the old saying goes. Lately, I’m conceiving of myself as a midwife, who helps in the sometimes torturous process of giving birth. The birthing pains involved in creating a book and then sending it out into the world is a lot like having and raising a child. You’ll always feel attached, much like the author does. But you inevitably must let go of your book (child) to make its way in the world.

Before I started editing books, I spent years editing newspapers and magazines. Working with words—twisting them around, rearranging, deleting, finding a more concise, more understandable way of saying something was a wonderful challenge. I’ve always loved editing and the more I’ve done it, the faster and more accurate I’ve gotten. I was an early and avid reader, from Nancy Drew stories to fairy tales and then on to the gods and goddesses of ancient Athens and Rome. I remember accompanying my mother to libraries wherever our military family was stationed. I became an early enthusiast of historical fiction.

In high school and college, English (an outdated word for the subject) was my favorite subject. I majored in English in college but managed to take a variety of history courses, a never-ending passion that would lead me to writing Melaynie’s Masquerade when I got older. As a high school freshman, I became serious about writing and I wrote for the school newspaper. In college I continued my reporting for William and Mary’s Flat Hat newspaper and was delighted at one of the school reunions years later when I saw a couple of my articles in a scrapbook on display.

Journalism has been a great teacher. It requires precise, easily understood truthful writing to explain: who, what, when, where, how and why to a reader. And the information is provided in a descending order—the most important facts are given in the beginning. Books are usually not written that way, but a foundation in journalism has stood me in good stead for many years.

I’ve edited over 150 books in the past 15 years and each one has been a special journey. No matter how much I’d read of each book in advance, there were always surprises. A book develops a life of its own, which proves the baby analogy I mentioned in the beginning. Because many of my clients were “newbies” to the world of writing, I became a co-writer in many instances.

I have edited almost every genre of book from how to save for retirement to what a young man experiencing the singles scene learns about sexual success and failure. Needless to say, I’ve learned a great deal in the process since my clients have experienced amazing things in all areas of the world.

A few recent books include: Once Upon a Man by Debra Pauli (dating tips for the single woman), Time’s Illusion by Carey Jones (simplifying some of the ideas in A Course in Miracles), The Gods Who Fell From the Sky by Dick Mawson (memoir of growing up and living in Rhodesia and South Africa), Parents Take Charge by Dr. Sandy Gluckman (alternative solutions for children with ADHD and the like), and A Nation of Refugees by Tim Gurung (fictional story of a couple passionate about finding solutions for the worldwide problem of refugees). I edited all of Tim Gurung’s books, eight so far.I’m currently working on a biography by Madelyn Roberts about character actor Strother Martin.

I’m always looking for new editing clients because of my passion for editing. Let me know if you’re looking for an editor and get in touch. An estimate is free.


My daughter, Heidi, tapped into her hidden art talents just a few years ago. I’ve been continually amazed at the variety of styles and subject matter she’s produced; each of her artworks are imaginative and colorful. She keeps producing and I’m sharing a few. I love them all and want more of them on my walls…I must admit, I’m prejudiced! I’ve got five paintings so far and joked that I now have the Heidi Giraud Art Gallery Annex. The painting below was created just for me and is Heidi’s interpretation of her mother. She told me the expression reminded her of my confidence in life…I might have been saying about a situation, “I’ve got this!” I’m very flattered by her interpretation!

Mama V - my Mother's Day gift

Mama V – my Mother’s Day gift

Wanting to spread the word about her talents, I asked her to write something about herself and she did: “The past few years I’ve felt that I needed/wanted to do something creative. I don’t recall having a desire to paint when I was a child, but believe it must have been there in my soul. When I was kicked out of high school, I was sent to continuation high school. I decided to take an art class and the first painting I did was a watercolor, all freehand, no tracing. I fell in love with it, but wasn’t settled enough in my life to do more than one more watercolor.”

Red Hat

Red Hat

My artistic yearnings inspired me to use a lot of color when I decorated various apartments of mine over the years. Then I took another art class for a few months, and that planted the seed that grew into a satisfying habit of painting. I have always been attracted to the shapes you can create, not to mention the colors you can use in abstract. My favorite colors are bright blues, reds, oranges and greens. There are no rules in abstract painting, you can create whatever you want, probably why I enjoy it so much. Abstract painting opens your mind to all sorts of interpretations. I feel it’s a perfect expression of life. Just when you think you know what is is, you look deeper into the painting with your mind and soul and see something totally different. (Note from Victoria: Heidi and I went to the Getty on Mother’s Day to see Jackson Pollock’s “Mural”–painted in 1943 and said to be an iconic abstract painting of the 20th century. It was huge and full of images that both of us imagined: from horses and ducks to faces. A photo of this painting does it no justice.)

Purple Girl

Purple Girl

Heidi says,” My inspirations can come from anything. I can walk down a street in downtown Los Angeles, or see the sun’s rays flicker upon the Pacific Ocean and get my ideas from that. My emotions also play a part in my creations.”


Emerging by Heidi Giraud

Emerging by Heidi Giraud

My daughter’s wonderful painting above symbolizes for me the up and down feelings and the muddle of dealing with the aftermath of recent surgery. I have a new hip and am now working on welcoming it into my body. I have become a bionic woman who will set off alarms at airports! Everyone experiences surgery a different way–in my case it’s affected my appetite (don’t have any yet), and a bit of my thinking and writing process. It takes a bit more time to write something since my fingers, for now, don’t operate that fast on the keyboard. I have to concentrate on spelling and be patient with myself. As one of the over 200,000 hip replacement patients in the US yearly,  I’m looking forward to good results and better mobility. Last year I had no idea that arthritic hips were holding me back.

Hip replacement has become pretty popular. Since we’re living longer, we wear out our hips and knees for one reason or another. The operation doesn’t take more than 90 minutes or so, and as soon as you wake up from surgery, nurses get you up and make you take a short walk. Some patients go home the same day, others the next day — at least with Kaiser, which is my health plan. Recuperation at home is deemed ideal, and I agree, as long as you have someone to rely on the first week or so, preferably living with you for that time. My daughter filled that role excellently.

Thanks to my son and daughter (especially my daughter who lives close-by), I got the help I needed to get my home organized and ready to support me as I healed. My son redesigned a few areas in my home so I could move around more easily.  I won’t be in a marathon any time soon, but it won’t take long to be fully functional. I look forward to walking with ease on this journey of my life.

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