Home Improvement & Design

The publisher wanted to approach the saturated gardening category with this unique concept. Written with Square Foot Gardening founder Mel Bartholomew, the idea was to give readers a bottom-line rationale for the garden edibles they choose to plant. It involved intensive background research and numbers crunching. I welcome writing challenges that demand extensive research and require that I expand my knowledge base. <i>Black & Decker Complete Guide to Room Additions</i> was just such a project, one that dealt with best standards and practices in home construction, in-depth and current code requirements, and safe building procedures. The “Ideas You Can Use” series are photo-driven inspiration guides, with 100-word, hard-hitting, directive captions and beautiful contemporary environmental photos. The books involve in-depth research on current trends and technology, and acquiring hundreds of high-quality, free-use photos from industry sources. I wrote the original version of this book almost a decade ago and have worked on each successive edition since. Deck-building technology evolves rapidly. Revising the book involves synthesizing complex information on new materials and technology into usable, understandable passages for the lay reader. A pristine lawn is the suburban dream, one that this book helps make a reality. The information is in-depth, and I threw in a good deal of current thinking about eco-friendly lawncare. As with all the Black & Decker titles on which I’ve worked, this one involved compiling detailed photo shoot instructions, including scrap and story board art. Ghostwritten for Square Foot Gardening founder Mel Bartholomew, this book extended the SFG series into children’s gardening. It involved working with educators and SFG professionals to adapt the method’s core principles to children—so that they would learn, be inspired, and be entertained in the garden. As an ardent environmentalist, I strongly believe that we should be doing everything we can to preserve natural resources. Remodeling is an area where we can make great strides in conserving and protecting the environment, so I jumped at the chance to write <i>Building with Secondhand Stuff</i>. The book covers repurposing salvaged and reclaimed materials in new and innovative remodeling projects. Although I did not write the original version of this book, I’ve revised it twice, replacing more than two-thirds of the original copy and photos. These types of revisions require a critical review of existing material, and extensive desk and in-store research to determine new information and new topics that must be included. I ghostwrote this book for Carter Oosterhouse, HGTV host, model, spokesperson for Nautica fragrances, and founder of the non-profit Carter’s Kids. The project involved developing a concept that encapsulated Carter’s approach to home renovation and design, and writing around case studies of homes he had featured on his HGTV shows. Writing under the banner of an established brand means capturing the voice and identity of the brand in the editorial. That was the challenge with <i>House Beautiful: Glass House</i>. The book stemmed from a proposal I made to Hearst Books, and the topic was essentially decorating with light. It was a wholly new topic that I rendered in the voice and style of a classic publication. <i>Good Housekeeping: The Complete Clutter Solution</i> was Hearst’s approach to a perennially popular general reference topic. In writing the book, I focused on new and innovative storage and organization strategies. My goal was to bring a fresh and engaging approach to a subject that had already seen extensive coverage. This book put an interesting spin on a time-tested topic. I proposed using <i>House Beautiful’s</i> brand and photo assets in the service of a book that offered ways to incorporate organization and storage into high-style design. It’s been a hugely successful hook. I’m a former garden editor, so this was a natural project for me. I executed the book as a book packager. I worked with my own designer, illustrator, and proofreader, to adapt 25 garden designs from <i>Country Living</i> magazine into this lushly illustrated publication.

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