ghost writer

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Author Versus Journalist

Published December 27, 2017 by Maryanne

sam_3971 - book signing2014, at my very first book signing

If you are reading this, chances are you do not know me as a writer. I’m not a famous writer and probably will never be. Nor will I ever win a Pulitzer Prize. I know my limitations. But I can say, for most of my adult life, writing has been my “day job” and I make a comfortable living as a writer and editor. Yeah, I beat the odds. I get to work in my pajamas.

As I wrote in my first book, “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” it took a long time to earn my bragging rights. Coming from a single parent family, I never had the opportunity to go to college. But I know many people with degrees that don’t follow their dreams as I did! I always wrote here and there — and finally got published. It was sweet extra income while I worked in offices for publishing companies or music businesses. I never took a job I didn’t have extreme passion for.

When I first started writing full time as a journalist, it was because I made my way into the door. I was first hired as a typist at a NYC publication. While there, I told a few editors that I like to write. Then bam! Eventually I was writing about everything — food, theatre, advertorials, features, business, and even sports. I was officially a journalist — in New York City!

I’ll never forget how long it would take me when I first began writing articles. I’d be up until 4 a.m. Then, the more I learned, the faster I got. I take pride in the fact that I could write a 500+ word article, that needs minimal or no editing, in less that an hour.

Back then, seeing an article I wrote hanging up in a restaurant in Chelsea, NYC, was a thrill. Having actresses and rock stars write me letters thanking me for my articles was euphoric. I ate at restaurants for free; got guest-listed more times than I can remember; and received hundreds of gifts and freebies just for acknowledging someone in an article. And this went on for years — now decades.

Writing an article is instant satisfaction. You write. You get published. You get praise. Writing an article is fresh and current. But when you’ve been a journalist for as long as I have, it’s natural to go the next step. No, not author — editor.

As an editor, I started my own home based business and helped dozens of people pen their memoirs and fiction books prior to publication. During this period it dawned on me that I should write a book. I gathered my thoughts together and in three years wrote three books — two self-published and the final was picked up by a traditional publisher.

What came with published books was equally as satisfying as journalism. Anyone who has had a successful book signing knows what it’s like to feel like a star. Anyone who has received a substantial royalty check has that feeling of arrival. Anyone who has had someone they admired endorse their books knows what it’s like to have butterflies in their stomach. And it’s the most surreal thing in the world to wake up in the morning and say to yourself, “I’m an author” and you know your life will never be the same from that moment onward.

But the thing is, writing a book is harder than writing an article. That’s why I didn’t want to write a book to begin with. Work shouldn’t feel like work. There’s a saying, “If you do what you love, you never worked a day in your life.” Writing articles isn’t work for me. It’s a need; a desire. I must write articles, like I must have food and sex and music and love and all the good things life has to offer. Writing a book is like having a slice of pizza. I enjoy it, but it’s not necessary to my being. I’d much rather edit someone else’s book.

Currently I am in the process of writing two more books and will use any excuse not to work on them. Last they’ve been touched was over the summer. And the only time I feel a bit of guilt is when a fan of my books approaches me at a signing and asks when my next book is coming out. It breaks my heart to tell someone, “Probably 2019,” but that is the truth. If that! It could be 2020. Or never.

While I’m writing a book, and really getting into it, I can’t stop talking about it. When you’re in a groove, you’re in a groove. I’ve completed books quickly during afternoons of drinking a few glasses of organic wine. Then comes the hard part. Shopping it around to publishers. Or negotiating with self-publishing companies who prefer you use their packages rather than hire your own copy editors and book designers.

Honestly, the best part is the rejection letters. They do not accept your material, but are encouraging that they are sure you will find the publisher who is a perfect fit.

Then once you find that publisher, who is supposed to be a perfect fit, it’s anything but. Whether you self-publish or are published traditionally, beware of several months of headaches before, during and after the process. Be prepared to be persecuted by clueless betas, to re-do work that editors have fucked up, all the cover “do overs,” marketers who fall short, and those dreaded bad reviews.

Let me pause here for a second to say that a bad review for a journalist is a good thing. It means people are reading your work, which is good for advertising. It’s also humorous when you can share with your co-writers a letter to the editor bitching about you. My biggest laugh was when I wrote an article about tattoo parlors and an irritated reader pondered if I had a tattoo myself. (I have three). Or the times when I wrote about a band and you’d get a member who felt he didn’t get as much coverage as the others and go on an egomaniac rant via email — or even a phone call. (This has happened more than once).

As an author, it’s more personal. It’s your work, not the property of a magazine or a newspaper. You are no longer the reporter. It’s your baby. Like poetry. While a bad review is expected, doesn’t make it easy on you. You have to be able to take it.

I once gave a refund to a client who wanted me to help her write a book. She said, “I don’t want people to judge me.”

I told her, “Then you’re not ready to write a book. Because people will judge you.”

Not only will they judge you on the content of your work — but on the fact that you are an author. Other authors are competitive. Non authors will say things to downplay you. I’ve had an ignorant person ask me, “Do you actually make money off of those books?”

Uh, yes, I do. Especially at book signings or literary clubs. I make a killing.

I also make a killing by touching people’s lives with my books. One of the best compliments I ever received was from a woman who read “On the Guest List.” She liked that when I spoke about being part of the stage show for The Nuns that I had to work and diet to get my body in shape. She wrote me, “You didn’t make it sound like it was easy because it isn’t.”

Sometimes I’ll Google myself and see a glowing review for one of my books and it brings a smile to my face. I just want to hug the stranger who got me!

However, with all the pluses and satisfaction a book brings to my life, I’ll forever be a journalist in my heart. And here’s why:

  • I get to meet more people, especially children. (Nothing is cuter than a little kid jumping up and down screaming, “I’m going to be in the newspaper!” after you interview him/her.
  • The quickness of the truth. It takes about six months to write a book. You are focused on researching, reading it over and over to make sure you’re accurate. In writing an article, the truth is right there for you. You simply write the facts — who, what, where, why, and how.
  • The instant glory. You write, you get published, people are reading!
  • Getting out of the house. While it’s everyone’s dream to work at home in their pajamas — and writing a book will give you that luxury — life is short and it feels good to get out and meet people. As I wrote earlier, there’s free concerts and free meals; but there’s also tree lightings, winter walks, fashion shows … around every corner there is something to write about. And that’s a beautiful thing!
  • Sometimes people do your work for you. No, that doesn’t mean someone is ghost writing my stuff. It means if you get a kick ass interview with someone, the story practically writes itself.

But then again, a book is forever; and years down the road I’ll still be collecting royalty checks and doing book signings for a book that was written years ago. And someone on Amazon or Ebay will be selling my book for much more. Well, that’s book business.

Too Busy

Published January 4, 2017 by Maryanne

busy-2

Last night I was reading my old diaries from 1993. I was only 29-years-old and really loving my life. At that time I was living in a beautiful world people can’t even imagine today. Even as a very good-looking young woman, I had my dateless, lonely nights. The difference was, if you had the blues back then you could count on a phone call from at least five friends in one night! So being sad was not an option.

Today, other than my husband who I could always count on, I can’t imagine conversing with any of my friends without first making an appointment to speak with them. People are always so “busy.” Picking up the phone is no longer an option. So, I just cry instead.

The first of the year usually means new beginnings. As someone who is self-employed, this is usually the time when my business takes off. People always come to me for ghost writing, book editing, and public speaking engagements because they know they can count on me. There’s an old saying, “If you need something done, ask the busiest person you know because he/she will get it done for you.”

That said, I have to question everyone else’s version of “busy.” Because even when my version of “busy” gets so crazy, I’m glued to my desk for hours without getting up for a drink or to go to the bathroom, I ALWAYS sincerely answer an email from a friend who is in need.

This week started out as one of those busy weeks. Then one person cancelled an appointment — at the last minute. So not cool. And another just totally stood me up — no email, no phone call, no explanation.

I was heartbroken for being slighted. This is not the way I do business. This is not how I’d treat somebody. For all the technology we have in this day and age, this should not be. In this modern world, no one can be too busy to type three simple words in an email: “Can we reschedule?” And, I might add, at an appropriate time, not at the last minute unless someone very close to you died. Even so, I think back to when my father-in-law, who sometimes lived with us, passed away three months ago … I still was able to conduct business in a professional manner. And I still listened to problems from friends who needed a friend. Is it so much to ask the same in return?

It is not narcissistic to expect to be treated with respect. My time is just as important as anyone else’s. But here I am, crying my eyes out in the middle of the day, waiting patiently for my husband to get home so I can cry on his shoulder.

It is far from being “unprofessional” when you are disappointed by how so-called professionals treat you. There really needs to be a book on manners in this day and age. What happened to the Miss Manners column that ran in newspapers on a daily basis? Oh, I know, no one reads newspapers anymore.

No one does a lot of things anymore that they should. It’s a sad world we live in. A world without manners. A world without consideration. A world where people do whatever they please as long as it suits them.

And nothing can be done about it either. Just wait for the good karma you’ve been owed … so then things will turn around … and you’ll get everything you’ve ever deserved … because you already have a lot of it … Like a husband who truly adores and loves you. Because you were never “too busy” to find someone you adore and love.

So, hooray for demystifying the “too busy” myth! For those who are “too busy” will never seep the rewards that come from making time.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is an award-winning writer and a public speaker. Contact her at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com 

 

 

 

Mention in Florham Park Eagle for Helping Senior Couple Write Book

Published March 22, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_9246Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta with Domenic and Antoinette Lombardi

Last year I helped Domenic and Antoinette Lombardi write and publish their book “200 Letters, 62 Years and a War” which was their love story. Soon after they started dating, Domenic went to serve in the Korean War. During that time, he wrote Antoinette 200 love letters. The couple recently celebrated their 62nd anniversary.

I sat with them as they told me their story and I ferreted through 200 love letters Domenic wrote Antoinette, as well as his diaries. The book was published by Next Century Publishing last year, followed by their book release party, which I blogged about: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/book-party-for-antoinette-and-domenic-lombardi/

On March 17, 2016, the Florham Park Eagle published their story in print and online. I’m honored and humbled that Domenic and Antoinette gave me such a generous mention: http://www.newjerseyhills.com/florham_park_eagle/news/florham-park-couple-s-book-tells-love-story-amid-korean/article_ca1c2158-4ed1-5328-9ec1-55401512b5d1.html

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta has been helping clients write (and publish) their books since 2008. In addition to Domenic and Antoinette Lombardi, her clients include Clerks actor, Scott Schiaffo and soap opera writer, Scarlet Cassadine, to name a few. She can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

CONTEST/GIVEAWAY! Happy Customer Appreciation Day!

Published March 3, 2016 by Maryanne

pear tree buttonsPear Tree Enterprises loves YOU!

Hey Gang!

It’s Customer Appreciation Day and in honor of such great support since 2008, I’m having some giveaways on all my Facebook business pages. Pear Tree Enterprises (https://peartreeenterprises.wordpress.com/) has been in business since 2008. I’m an author, ghost writer, book editor, and public speaker. I am also the founder of ROAR (https://respectouranimalsrights.wordpress.com/) and a Young Living Oils distributor.

Giveaways/Prizes include:

Young Living Valor soap

Nature goat’s milk shea soap

My first book: “On the Guest List Adventures of a Music Journalist” http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X

My second book “Love Cats” (over 18 only please!) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1681020513

So, you got to be in it to win it!

Here are my four business pages on Facebook. All you have to do is “like” the page and on the page leave a comment why you want to win! You can enter one or all! CONTEST ENDS March 4, 2016 sometime in the morning, which is when the winners will be randomly chosen!

Pear Tree Enterprises: https://www.facebook.com/maryannepeartreeenterprises/?fref=ts

Roar: https://www.facebook.com/respectouranimalsrights/?fref=ts

On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist: https://www.facebook.com/On-the-Guest-List-Adventures-of-a-Music-Journalist-266002553560468/?fref=ts

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta (author page): https://www.facebook.com/maryannechristianomistretta/?fref=ts

“Going Going Gone: What the Next Generation Won’t Remember” at Florham Park Senior Center

Published February 24, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_5528Do you remember cassettes, 8-tracks, bubble gum cards, drive-in speakers?

I was thrilled to return to the Florham Park Senior Center today to present my lecture “Going Going Gone: What the Next Generation Won’t Remember.”

Here is the synopsis for the program:

Since the year 2000, we’ve gained iPhones, GPSs, Twitter, Facebook and many other services and devices.

However, we’ve also lost some things that we’ve grown up with. In “Going Going Gone” Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta will take a walk down memory lane and talk about products that are either on their way out the door, or absolutely obsolete.

Some may actually surprise you!

Items included are: VHS video tapes, phone booths (and making phone calls in general!), travel agents, bookstores, newspapers and classified ads, wristwatches, maps, dial-up internet, encyclopedias, CDs, landline phones, film cameras, yellow pages and address books, and hand written letters.

Which of these items do you miss?

Christiano-Mistretta will also jolt your memory remembering some cool products of yesteryear such as the typewriter, the record player and Polaroid cameras.

Come share your views in this interactive lecture! Audience participation is greatly encouraged.

SAM_9655Very cool sign promoting my program!

Today was extra special because Domenic and Antoinette Lombardi were there. I helped them write and publish their book, “200 Letters, 62 Years, and a War,” which is about Domenic’s time in the Korean War and the 200 love letters he wrote to Antoinette while she waited for his return. At the time the book was written, they celebrated their 62nd anniversary.

I was very touched by their card and gift they gave me today.

And as always, I love meeting the seniors and was happy to be part of their meeting and pizza party today!

Thanks so much to director Olga!

SAM_9653Maryanne and senior director Olga

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is a ghost writer and public speaker. For more information, visit her website at: https://peartreeenterprises.wordpress.com/

Your Own Personal Caring Ministry

Published February 3, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_9489Photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

This morning in my moment of prayer, I was looking back to a few years ago when I spent more time at church. I really wanted to be a part of something special, for God, and was trying to get involved in everything. I voluntarily wrote for their newsletter. I participated in activities. And I even volunteered to be on the Caring Ministry, where I’d go to the homes of those who were bedridden and give them communion.

Then things just didn’t work out. No one’s fault, but that’s just how life happens. New people came on board. I wasn’t asked to write anymore. The woman who was supposed to train me for the Caring Ministry wasn’t available to train when I was available.

So, time went on … a lot of time. Then one of my favorite people in the church passed away and I couldn’t bring myself to go back as often as I once did. It was too painful. I remember driving to church, then feeling so uncomfortable that I turned around and came right back home.

While some die-hard Christians may suggest Satan was keeping me out of church; I have to disagree. There’s a saying, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” I was always of the mindset that when something is right for you, you know it. And what has been right for me was going to church less often, because I felt so much more comfortable (and right with God) by practicing at home — every single morning. I’ve been reading the Bible more and working consciously on my well-being by praying for opportunities to help others.

Then it dawned on me … God is using me, via my business. I’m a full-time, self-employed author and journalist. I am also a ghost writer and book editor. I’ve helped countless people get their books written and published. I make dreams come true — and everyone needs a dream.

Another way I make a living is by public speaking. Two years ago, I started a library series called “Learn and Listen.” I present a half-hour biography on a famous musician, followed by live entertainment by local musicians. Through this series, I am helping to employ musicians — excellent musicians who are top of the line. Being a musician is a tough, competitive business and via this series, I am helping the ones I employ get more work. I’ve also helped an artist friend get work when I created a children’s recycling series. Getting work for people and helping them is what I do best, so that’s the way God uses me. I’m excellent at booking gigs, follow-up calls, organizing dates, and so on … That’s what I’m good at.

But what I’m not so good at …

Though I’m a very good listener, I can’t listen to people’s problems without feeling drained and depressed myself. Some people have the gift of resolving other people’s problems by listening to them complain. I do not have that gift. Nor do I have the gift of singing in a choir. Or counting money for a church. Or organizing big events. These are talents other people are so much better at.

While I was more than willing to let the church dictate how God would use me, I feel God went directly to me. Because these are the people who relate to me — the creative types, the musicians, the writers, the artists …

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop and I’ve been so incredibly busy these days; business is the best it’s ever been. Today is the first day I was able to take a breather and write a blog in a over a week. And to think, I used to write in my blog every single day — sometimes twice a day.

So when I take such joy in my career, I’m also taking joy in the fact that it’s not just about me. We’re all part of this great big chain connecting each other, working together, inspiring, and forging ahead, using our God given talents. Every day is beautiful and meaningful.

God knows where to place us. You’ll know when He’s there because, while it may not always be easy, you’ll just have that gut feeling of “This is where I belong … and who I belong with.” And you will feel God’s presence.

What is your Caring Ministry? Share your stories! Post them here, or email me directly. 

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

Her “Learn & Listen” series is available to libraries, churches, assisted living facilities, Jewish Community Centers, Rotary Clubs, and senior centers. “Learn & Listen” features the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, John Lennon, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.

Book Party for Antoinette and Domenic Lombardi

Published November 23, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_9248Congratulations to the new authors!

Yesterday was a big celebration at Hanover Manor in East Hanover, New Jersey.

My clients Domenic and Antoinette Lombardi had their book published “200 Letters, 62 Years and a War.”

From back book cover:

Domenic and Antoinette Lombardi began dating when they were teenagers. And soon afterward Domenic was called to fight in the Korean War.

During his time in combat, he wrote his love, Antoinette, over 200 letters. She saved every one of them. She also put together an all embracing photo albums that contained newspaper clippings of the war, photographs, holiday cards and other memorabilia; as well as more recent newspaper clippings of celebrations such as their anniversaries and birthdays.

Domenic also had his own collection of memories, several typed as well as handwritten notebook diaries, filled with the truth he experienced fighting for The United States.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta spent many days at the home of The Lombardis in Florham Park, New Jersey ferreting through the photo albums, love letters and notebook diaries in order to put together this wondrous memoir.

The happy couple recently celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary.

SAM_9246Domenic Lombardi, Maryanne Mistretta and Antoinette Lombardi

To purchase “200 Letters, 62 Years and a War” contact Next Century Publishing at 786-999-8550 or contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta at maryannechristiano@gmail.com

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is available to help seniors write their books. Contact her directly at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com