September, 2016:



Some of My EditedBooks

For a time I called myself a Forest Guide, it was a 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.m

Before I started editing books, I spent years writing and 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In high school and college, English (an outdated word for the subject) was my favorite subject.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 200 books in the past 17 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 (dating tips for the single woman) and a spiritual book Where is God by Deborah Pauli, Beyond Time by Carey Jones (simplifying some of the ideas in A Course in Miracles), The Gods Who Fell from African Skies 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),  A Nation of Refugees  (fictional story of a couple passionate about finding solutions for the worldwide problem of refugees) and Afterlife (spiritual-what happens when the body dies) by Tim Gurung, and Feng Shui for Career Women by Patt Sendejas. Most recently, I was editing a book about Hitler and Eva Braun, and I’m currently editing a biography about character actor Strother Martin.

For more information about my editing and writing check my website.



The world grows smaller every day with the Internet, satellites and other means of communication. After World War II, the US and other countries realized, like it or not, the world was connected, as English author John Donne said way back in a 1624 sermon: “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…”

Wars, ironically, have brought people together, and as the US became more powerful, we sent our military with many of their families all over the world. It was surprising when we discovered people in these various foreign countries knew something about America from our movies and even from our sports teams.

Pete Remmert, who lived in Tripoli from 1958-1962, told me a fascinating story about his encounter and a friendship with a Libyan boy while his family lived in a nice area near the beach, a bit west of the center of town. It’s nice to relate a positive story about the Middle East these days.

“I was eight years old in 1958. Before we acquired (Wheelus) base housing, we lived in Giorgimpopoli and occasionally when I walked alone in the streets of the neighborhood, I would run into a group of Libyan boys (a few years older than Pete was) who sometimes liked to play a little rough. One of these boys didn’t like the way his companions were giving me a hard time, and he pulled me aside and offered me, in very good English, a deal I couldn’t refuse. He told me that he collected American baseball cards, the rectangular ones that came in packs of bubblegum.”

Tripoli Street- a mix of old and new

Tripoli Street- a mix of old and new

For those old enough to remember, I looked up some of the stars of that era on baseball cards. Though I’m not a typical baseball fan, I still remember a few of them. Stars like Don Drysdale (I saw him play as a Los Angeles Dodger), Mickey Mantle (a Yankee great), Whitey Ford, John Roseboro, and Carl Yastrzemski, are a few examples.

Although he didn’t remember the boy’s name, Pete commented, “He was a couple of years older than me, of slender build and bald as an eagle. He wore typical Libyan clothing: white robes with a multicolored shawl-type wrap during the colder months. He usually wore a ‘beanie’ type maroon-colored cap but on occasion he would wear a fez. I was always impressed with his command of the English language and his knowledge of contemporary American baseball players was vastly superior to any of the American kids I knew. He also introduced me to those yummy dates that we pulled off the date palms and ate like candy.”

Pete continued, “I told him that I was only interested in the gum and that he was welcome to have the cards. From that moment on, he swore that he would be my personal bodyguard. Well, one afternoon he made good on his promise. A group of older kids decided to rough me up a bit, and my young friend immediately took off his cap, bent over at a ninety-degree angle and, like a battering ram, plowed into one of the kids. The boys scattered and never gave me any trouble again.”

A street in Old Town

A street in Old Town


September 11, 2001, as other world-shaking events, still seems like only yesterday. Perhaps because the media makes sure we don’t forget our 21st century Pearl Harbor. Today marks the 15th anniversary. Being suddenly attacked, as an individual or as a country, is a difficult trauma to face and overcome in life, and some never do adjust. “Where were you on 9/11?” is a more current version of, “Where were you when JFK was shot?” We all share the tragedy, whether it’s about one person or nearly 3,000. It’s inspiring and heartbreaking to read and hear the real stories and experiences from that fateful day. Today’s Los Angeles Times featured several touching stories, like how the children of those who died that fateful day are coping as they grow up. And an editorial about how our worries about future horrors didn’t materialize as we thought. A new World Trade Center opened with a museum and life in New York City is thriving.  Jeh Johnson, Department of Homeland Security said, “We are a remarkably resilient country in ways that we don’t always appreciate.”

My daughter, Heidi, and I were sharing an apartment in Sherman Oaks, California, that September Tuesday morning, which began in a typical fashion. Heidi was out for an invigorating walk before going to work for a downtown Los Angeles attorney service. At 7:30 a.m., I had spread my exercise mat in front of the TV and turned it on to watch Good Morning America before I had breakfast and started work editing a book. I was sitting on the floor, barely into the exercises, when I saw the footage on the planes striking both the north and south tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. It was so shocking I couldn’t absorb it; I was impatient to share the news with Heidi before I broke down completely. Human instinct propels us to turn to others.

World Trade Center before the disaster

World Trade Center before the disaster

A couple of days later, I wrote in my diary, “It was unfathomable to most of us—resembling an especially bad special effect from an action movie, but played hundreds of times over and over.”

That morning I was mesmerized and horrified as I listened and watched the news, which eventually grew to include the Pentagon disaster and the plane that went down in Pennsylvania. Heidi returned from her walk totally ignorant; it was still early and many neighbors were getting ready for work and school. As I filled her in, we watched the continuous replays and news. A good friend of hers soon called and advised her to stay home from work. At that time one of the hijacked planes was supposedly headed for LA—the one that crash landed in the field in Shanksville, thanks to passengers who fought back.

Because of all the uncertainties, downtown Los Angeles was literally shut down. The terrorists had hijacked planes flying to LA because they would have the highest amount of volatile jet fuel to act as a bomb. Airports around the country were soon shut down because of potential danger.

Suzi, a friend of Heidi’s who worked in the travel industry, had driven to work in Culver City and wondered why the 405 freeway was so empty until she heard the news on her car radio.

It was a strange quiet day of little traffic and no sounds of planes: very unusual because we lived fairly close to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. Many of us felt lost, at loose ends. It was a time of getting in touch with friends and family and watching TV for more news and the scenes of horror over and over again. Shopping centers and businesses closed down all over LA. The scene, the mood, resembled a California earthquake disaster without the physical damage. In this case the damage was emotional.

In our immediate neighborhood of single-family homes, apartment buildings, a strip mall and a supermarket, most of the businesses stayed open. It was comforting for Heidi and I to walk the short distance to the little pizza parlor in the strip mall. People shared stories and observations with each other as we ordered Italian food and watched the small TV, playing nothing but World Trade Center news. It was a day full of tears and tissues.

Soon-to-open 9/11 Memorial

World Trade Center Memorial shortly before it opened to the public.

A year after the disaster, Una, a friend from Northern California, visited Manhattan and walked down to the site. “I was overwhelmed with grief at seeing the gaping hole, this open wound on the heart of America, still raw, so vulnerable. Walking by the small church next door, posters and photos of missing loved ones were still attached to the fence. It was a heart-wrenching sight to read each plea for help in finding a loved one. The wind whipped up, creating a dusty whirlwind of the ashes and dust in the hole. I wondered whose ashes were being resifted.”


My mother’s family, the Motley’s, was a large and loving one—what a privilege to be born into it! Living my first few years of childhood in their family home in Danville, Virginia, just after the U.S. entered WWII was a great start for my adventurous  life. I can see from old photos how loved I was by Mom’s parents, her five sisters and one brother. All of that joy came back to me recently after talking to my Cousins Jackie and Penny, who still live in the South. I cherish those times, especially now that my grandparents and all my aunts and uncle have departed this world. Thankfully, I have many cousins still around and lots of wonderful memories.

Motley siblings

Motley siblings on the front steps of the Danville, Virginia, Motley home.

I’ve posted a photo of the siblings, in order of age, on the steps of my grandparents’ spacious home on a corner lot in Danville. Years later, on the same steps in the 1950s, my dad took a photo of me and sister Tupper, cousin Jackie and Beth, a family friend, a photo I’ve also posted.

The photo poses the siblings from the oldest on the bottom to the youngest at the top. Inez was not the firstborn, baby Edwin had that honor, but tragedy struck when he was given the wrong prescription for an infection when he was nearly 9 months old. Grieving over her baby’s death, my grandmother, Bertha Jake, wanted more children and Inez came along 11 months later in 1906. She was probably the most serious of the siblings. Maybe it was due to her alcoholic husband, though she was blessed with a son and daughter who were both full of life, intelligence and humor. Her second husband years later, was a theater owner, not a good choice since he was pursued for tax evasion. Inez left this world in 1994.

Louise, on the second step, looks serious in this photo, but I know she had a fantastic sense of humor. She was born in 1908 and was married in 1933. She became a widow too early, but she enjoyed living with her daughter Nancy in Hampton, Virginia, in later years. I got to spend some time with them when I attended the College of William and Mary. I will always remember the laughing fit Louise and I had one evening over something really silly. Louise didn’t stick around very long and died in 1978.

Miriam, born in 1910, became a nurse and married a lawyer. I was told her husband Willie had a nervous breakdown and decided to give up law in favor of owning and running a motel on Daytona Beach, Fla. She had a son and daughter, still thriving. She lived past 90 and died in 2001. I have a fun memory of her as a senior affected by cold, even in hot Daytona Beach. She was wearing a sweatshirt and earmuffs and had taken her false teeth out when I visited one summer, a few years before she passed on.

Above her is Penn (formal name—Pendleton Koons Motley), the male of the female-dominated family. Penn found his mate, Dorothy, in high school and they were married in 1934, when he was only 19. Dorothy, an amazing and loving woman, might as well have been a Motley by blood since she was like a sister to all the other siblings. My cousin Penny, his daughter, always reminds me how much Penn loved his sisters. My sister and I visited Penn in Florida in 1997, and I can testify to his outrageous sense of humor! He didn’t depart until 2004 some years after his beloved Dorothy died of ALS.

Rosebud Peace Motley was an appropriate name for a baby born in December, just weeks after the WWI Armistice in November 1918. Rosie (her appropriate nickname) was like a substitute mother to me for many years, especially appreciated after my own mother died at age 51. She and my mother, Garnette, (on the step above Rosie – note: they both wore polka dots!) were best buddies to the end of my mom’s life. Rosie was volunteering her kidney to my mother suffering from kidney disease in the 1970s. Rosie was there to comfort my brother and my dad in Texas for the last few months of my mother’s life. Rosie and my mother were both married in 1942, but neither of those marriages lasted. Rosie keep up her spirits and was the last of the Motley siblings to pass away – in June 2007. During her last years, her daughter Jackie made sure she was loved and well taken care of. Rosie never lost her sense of humor.

Garnette, my mother, always had a sense of style—look at those two-tone shoes! She was named after her mother, Bertha, and the doctor who delivered her—Dr. Garnet. When my stepfather wanted to annoy my mother, he’d call her Little Bertha. After graduating from high school, Mom went to live with some relatives in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and got a job at the nearby Fort Bragg. She met a dashing Infantry Capt. Victor Hobson, a West Point graduate. Their attraction resulted in me. Victor did the right thing and married her not long before he was sent to Italy as part of the U.S. invasion. Their marriage was over at the end of the war, but my Uncle Penn and Aunt Dorothy had already introduced her to a handsome Lt. Darby Williams stationed at Ft Belvoir in the Army Corps of Engineers. My new dad took us both to Murnau, Germany, where he was part of the U.S. occupying troops from 1947-49.

My mother, Garnette, and her youngest sister, Anne, were the adventurers in the family. Mom married twice, both of them Army officers, and we traveled a good portion of the world. Anne married a professor who had his own plane and after teaching in Kansas, Japan and Alaska, they settled in Fairbanks. All the other siblings remained on the East Coast

Anne Motley, the youngest, was a fair-skinned redhead and born in 1926. One of her bosom buddies was Amy Lee (oldest sister Inez’s daughter). My grandmother gave birth to Anne one month before her own daughter, Inez, gave birth to Amy Lee. Aunt Anne and her niece Amy Lee grew up together. Anne was the only Motley sibling who got a college education. She died young of a brain tumor, only 58 in 1984. My mother was 51 in 1974.

Hope you enjoyed my trip down Memory Lane. Below: 1950s photo – L to R: Viki, Tupper, Beth and Jackie with dark hair.

Viki, Tup, Jackie, Beth - Danville




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