I’m storytelling in Cromarty Courthouse Garden, June 23, 2018.

Last month I was invited to read from my own work at the Cromarty Courthouse Museum Garden during Garden Opening Weekend (see photo) in this beautiful village on the Black Isle of Scotland. I’ve written a lot about Cromarty–a search of this blog will reveal that. But I am rarely paid to write in my own voice for my own reasons. Instead, my clients commission me to write, ghostwrite, edit, develop and doctor their books. It’s incredibly satisfying work, especially when my clients are as amenable as David Bland whose book (working titled provided below) is going to change the world. What a privilege to participate in his story.

I felt the same with about ghosting Dr. William Reed’s memoirs, The Pulse of Hope, and every other client I’ve had (see

Vivien, Leeanne and WAR at launchVivien Jennings of Rainy Day Books with William Reed and me, November 2014.

Promoting myself professionally is always awkward for me, so I just avoid it. Every client I’ve had has come to me word of mouth, which is good because I wouldn’t have the first inclination to get out there and find them. But if I did, it would probably be wise to post something like a client testimonial, so here goes:

Leeanne is, to me, much like a sculptor. Underneath the rough layers of my long-winded prose was a much better writer. Leeanne carefully and gently chipped away at that outer layer to reveal the story-teller below. My writing became crisper, clearer, and more purposeful. And I never felt berated, belittled or embarrassed. Try as I might, I could never find fault with her criticism and her suggestions were always on the mark, which is maddening, of course. Every time I sat upon my high horse Leeanne exposed the puny pony I was atop. In a very nice way. It is a rarity to find someone who can both find fault and suggest remedies. We all know the critic who offers nothing better. Leeanne supplies thoughtful criticism and insightful suggestions.

She took care with my work. She honored the time and energy I had spent, and she never diminished the pride I had in my writing. But she showed me where it could be better. That is a powerful talent.

~ David Bland, Author
Smudge: The Narrative Economics of Indian Country
Washington DC, 10 July 2018

His story starts this way . . .

The Pulse of Hope Cover

“The first poets I admired were the trees. It was a blessing to be surrounded by nature during childhood. It gave me a sensory vocabulary for things that couldn’t be contained in words, by which I suppose I mean feelings, but even more than feelings. Does that make sense? For me, nature expresses truth in a way that explains joy, suffering, irony, and people. Growing up as I did, I had to work hard at understanding the world, and my place in it. I was born William Allen Reed on July 18, 1927, on the backside of Kokomo, Indiana, to a family too poor to feed another child. It was the summer of Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, and Al Capone . . . just before the world went dark into the Depression.

We were already living in dire conditions before the Crash of 1929, but things went from bad to worse then. It was a hard-scrabble existence. There were eight of us kids, four to a bed inside the thin walls of the small frame sharecropper’s cottage we rented. We had a coal-burning stove in the middle of the living room as the sole source of heat, and an unheated outhouse out back. There was never enough food and what we did have was often courtesy of local county assistance program. There were no special treats, birthday cakes, or Christmas presents, except for what came from the county. Once I got a light blue sweater, generically given to a “Boy, age 9,” but I can’t recall anything else except the raw feeling of not having what other families seemed to have. It was a stark, meager life made tolerable by my mother and a growing awareness of the beauty that I easily could have missed.

My mother Aldine helped me glimpse the bigger picture. She would show something beautiful just to me, of all her children. She would point out a rose or honeysuckle and in that pointing was a woman seeing more than her bitter, angry, unemployed husband and her hungry, anxious children. It was a vision she shared with me, a quiet leaf of a boy who desperately needed to see that there was more to life. That’s what comes of reading trees and flowers and nature—a grasp of the finer side of one’s circumstances and people. People are a lot like plants. Life has given me ample opportunity to gain fluency in this perspective.

There in the quiet hunger of my childhood, I was a detached observer of the passing scenes. I was raggedy, barefoot, underfed, and hollow-eyed with hair like oat straw. I felt estranged from much of life, a survival tactic no doubt. I’m not sure I can explain how I changed from that skinny, confused kid to the young man who decided he was going to be a doctor; or how I went from a doctor to one of the earliest successful heart surgeons, and then from the surgeon to a horseman raising racing thoroughbreds, and a philanthropist.  A lot of people have asked me to tell the story of how I did that. If it helps anyone to read it, then it’s worth a try.”

It took me about a year and a half to write William Reed’s memoirs . . . he talked and I listened.  I came to know his “voice” as well as the way he wanted to sound, which is an even greater challenge for a ghostwriter.  Then I wrote.  And wrote.  AND WROTE.  When I wasn’t writing, I was taking pictures of his beautiful horse farm where the thoroughbreds would race over to the fence in hopes that I had a peppermint for them.  I knew they would stop in time, but the presence of such speed and strength never ceased to make my heart leap.  The book cover photo is one of mine–didn’t know it would end up on the book when I took it.  But it surely belongs there.

We launched the book on November 1, 2014.  The Pulse of Hope is available at or from Rainy Day Books: