Last spring, a married pair of ghostwriting clients flew me down to their place in Palm Springs. Can I tell you how much a Pacific Northwest dweller needs that blinding dry desert sunlight in April? This much:


We’d completed the planning phase for each of their books, and decided to do the bulk of our interviews in person. At first, I hesitated: Staying with my clients, in their home? What if we discover over our first lunch that we’re light years apart politically? What if they catch sight of my ginormous tattoo and think tattooed people can’t write books about leadership? What if what if what if?


Image source:

Mornings, this couple and I sat outside in the clean-smelling shade, recording our conversations and watching hummingbirds and geckos flit by. We jotted notes in notebooks and on one of those big Post-it® easel pads.

We did not look like this:


Also, somebody please send me a year’s supply of these:


Anyway, this couple and I recorded more wild and brilliant leadership ideas outside around the fire pit, evenings, after our post-dinner walk. We talked about Ireland, Canada, and their daughter at Oxford.

On our final lunch together, at some large restaurant in some pale Palm Springs strip mall, we all got so red-faced and giggly, people probably thought our hibiscus-flavored lemonade was spiked. It wasn’t. We were just rolling happy on the creative exchange, and probably, on the strange relieved realization that after three days together in the same house, we didn’t want to say goodbye.

Oh, that vintage clothing shop! Next time!

Next time hasn’t happened yet. The woman I collaborated with travels more for her work than almost anyone I know. She gives seminars, bringing people together and improving their work lives and non-work lives. Her book is about to launch, and I very much doubt the Palm Springs vintage clothing store extravaganza is going to happen in 2016. But that’s okay. I don’t need more clothes. I’ve done my years of dressing for work (Paris, corporate ESL, I rocked the Max Mara pantsuits). I work from home now, so yes, of course: lounge pants. And yes, if and when I find the occasion for a LBD, I’ve got the never-worn D&G. (Yes, for those who know me IRL,

Boil it down, my fashion glory days aside: I gained a mentor out in the desert.

My mentor shared with me her insights on leadership—on leading and living with integrity, grace, and soul. She did this for the chapters of her book, but you know—something odd happens when you listen carefully—ideas rub off on you. Good vibes do too! You grow. You both do.

As my mentor’s book launch approaches, I know how nervous she is, despite the fact she’s as successful as it gets. This too, is part of my job: “Okay, so, your book’s coming out. Eh, it’s just your soul on the line. No biggie. Kidding. You can do this. WOOT!”

Last year, she was supporting me through something totally non-project related (“With grace, Christine. You got this.”), and this summer, I’m ready to be her spazziest geekiest fangirl in lounge pants. I will cartwheel and shoop and chicken dance for her, but of course, since I ghosted this project, I will do it all behind closed doors, shouting “YAAAASSS” into my pillow.

And what then? What next? What’s up? Another gift comes that proves how working with one fab person can alter the course of your work life. Summer ’16 hasn’t even officially started, and this wonderful email from a brand new client just came in:

“I can’t believe I found someone so easy to work with. I looked at about a dozen bios of editors/ghost writers. You were the only one I had a good feeling about. So glad to encounter your enthusiasm.”

This is a woman with an amazing story, and she’s trusting me with it. She found me not through word-of-mouth, but right here, on my website. I’ve just started editing her existing content, and our plan is to map out what’s missing (so, we’re doing a developmental and line edit, and then… collaboratively writing this autumn).

I love the challenge of putting the pieces of story puzzles together like this. I love too, realizing that thanks in part to my mentor’s leadership and friendship, this year I have managed to bring nothing but amazing people to my door. Sure, a couple bad fits have found me, but the more I say, “No thank you,” the more “HELL YES” comes my way.

I’m not one to 110% believe in “Ask and ye shall receive,” and I don’t believe that asking alone or woo-woo wishing and positive affirmation always brings you the gold. You’ve got to Back Your ASK Up© (I just made that up and copyrighted it, pretty good, huh?) with integrity, know how, and talent. The full you better show.

Let goodness prevail.



For the Love of Interviews

For my novel–like most (aspiring!) novelists, I suppose–I combined a tiny percentage of real life with a huge percentage of the imagined. I also did some research. I watched the entire Ken Burns’ Baseball miniseries while at a writers’ residency in Wyoming, checked out the incredible online libraries of MLB stats, read “Watching Baseball Smarter” and “The Glory of Their Times,” and played phone tag with a former MLB pitcher that a friend of a friend knew.

The player and I never made the connection–we were on different coasts at different times and something called a “landline with an answering machine” was involved. But I did call him– twice. And he called me–once.

I didn’t really need to interview this player for my novel, but thought it would be fun to meet up and listen to ball stories. At the height of his career, he had been a rebel, and I thought surely he’d say something offhand that I could tweak and work into a girls’ Little League softball game. Then, of course, the plan was to ask him to coach me some on pitching. Just for a half an hour or so…

Fiction is my baby, and though I’ve done research for stories, interviewing people isn’t usually part of the process. Interviewing is what I do when I ghostwrite or collaborate with someone on a non-fiction book or memoir. Now, four years into it–I’m suddenly realizing how much I love the interview process.

As an undergrad, long ago, I changed my major often. At one point, I told my dad that I wanted to become a “professional student.” He laughed, but I was serious. I had no idea the term “professional student” was used not to describe someone who loved learning, but someone who didn’t want to face reality, i.e. ~~GET A JOB~~

I do love school, and I do still play with the idea of earning my doctorate, but it was a client that pointed out to me last year that as a ghostwriter–as a writer–I AM a professional student. I ask experts and amazing people from all walks of life questions, and they give me very thorough answers. It’s a free education, baby!

It’s rewarding when I bake a pie with “almost flakey” crust; it’s rewarding when I feel tired after twenty minutes in the pool, but stay in for forty; it’s rewarding when someone tells me as we are about to hang up: “You pulled something out of me I didn’t even know I wanted to say.”

During an interview, whenever the person on the other end of the line says, “That’s a great question,” I get a rush.

I once photocopied the John Steinbeck interview from the Paris Review, put stickers on it, and slept with it under my pillow. I declare no abnormal fandom of John Steinbeck, but I think, I had partially fallen in love with… a wonderful interview:

In the very early dawn, I felt a fiendish desire to take my electric pencil sharpener apart. It has not been working very well and besides I have always wanted to look at the inside of it. So I did and found that certain misadjustments had been made at the factory. I corrected them, cleaned the machine, oiled it and now it works perfectly for the first time since I have [had] it. There is one reward for not sleeping.

                                                                                                      –John Steinbeck


Who knows–I think the MLB pitcher I never connected with is still playing in some pro-level circuit. If I find myself where he is one spring or summer, I might just show up. “Hi,” I’ll say. “I called you three years ago and I have this novel that was triggered, basically, by Harry Kalas dying. Do you want to hang out for an hour?”