West Coast Woman

Thanks to Laurie Rosin, some first-time Sarasota writers are finding top-rate New York publishing agents. Five years ago, Laurie started a free-lance editorial practice, Manuscript Therapy, to assist authors in the creation and development of fiction and nonfiction.

Manuscript Therapy is based out of her Sarasota home, but the networking involved extends far beyond Florida. Her clients and agents are from all regions of the United States. At any given moment she could be on the phone with an agent up north or at her computer typing up an editorial critique for an author out west. Or maybe she's doing what she seems to like best—getting together to discuss a manuscript with a fledgling Sarasota writer.

"It's not as lonely a job when I'm sitting down working with people," she explains. "I like that human contact, and I love working with people who have a flair, passion or talent for writing. I'm working with them to create a saleable project, and it's wonderful to be a part of that." Preparing manuscripts for publication is a complicated process. Laurie reads with an eye trained to notice inconsistencies in areas such as plot development, point of view, and characterization. She describes herself as "a sort of hybrid editor/author," instantly able to spot and correct flaws.

"Editing is so important because a reading experience should not be disrupted. Mistakes in a book can impair reader enjoyment, knocking them out of the feeling of 'being there.' When I'm reading a manuscript, I'm in a meditative state. My mind is so focused and my concentration so intense that if something is missing, I actually hear a message. I hear the actual words that should be on the page. I happen to have a special gift for editing."

With this gift, she's edited 31 national bestsellers. For 15 years, she worked for Book Creations, Inc., the nation's largest independent producer of books. Until moving to Sarasota five years ago, she managed its editorial department. Her management position with Book Creations involved editorial work, much of which was done in the historical fiction genre. She edited best-sellers such as Donald Clayton Porter's The White Indian, Dana Fuller Ross's The Holts and Wagons West, and Peter Danielson's Children of the Lion.

She's also been a regular editor of William Sarabande's The First Americans series, epic novels of prehistoric America. "His writing," Laurie says, "borders on poetic. His novels are spiritual, with strong plots and fabulous characters and settings." Laurie continued to work for Book Creations when she moved to Sarasota; she simply brought her work (and computer) with her. But with so many requests for her services, she eventually had to resign. "My free-lance practice started to take on a life of its own. I sent back all my projects to Book Creations, and now I'm devoted entirely to private clients."

Laurie attributes her present success to hard work and dedication. She's also experienced some life-altering events over the years, something she refers to as "acts of grace." An act of grace is when "something happens in your life that is serendipitous, extremely meaningful, and extremely beneficial, but you have absolutely nothing to do with its happening and no idea at the time as to how significant it's going to be in your life."

Early in her career, Laurie was an English teacher, and it was during summer vacations that a couple of these acts of grace occurred. The National Endowment for the Humanities, for instance, awarded her a writing fellowship. "From that I learned to analyze and emulate other writers' styles, which is extremely helpful to me now. I can rewrite whole scenes in a manuscript, and you can't tell where my writing began and the author's left off."

Another act of grace was Book Creations offering her a position as fiction editor. Ready to try something new after eight years of teaching, she took the job and launched a career in editing. Hard work and acts of grace aside, Laurie says that her mother Estyr, whose love of reading and talent for writing she inherited, deserves some credit. Laurie grew up in Glencoe, Illinois, in a family of avid readers. At the age of 12, she read her first "adult" book, Atlas Shrugged. With that, she says, "a whole new incredible world opened to me, and I never again read another kids' book.

Her decision to move to Sarasota had to do with strong family ties. Her mother and sister both live here, so she left New York to join them. "Family is so important, and with the three of us left, we should be together." Laurie's father died when she was a teacher, and her only brother died in 1987.

"I adored my brother Rick. He and I had a good thing going. He was high-achieving, funny, and smart. He became infected with AlDS when nobody knew about the illness. There was no AZT, nothing. When he was in the hospital, the staff was always in and out as quickly as possible, with no loving kindness. I hope things are better now."

Laurie feels strongly that humanity "has a long way to go when it comes to feeling empathy for the sick" and is considering addressing this issue in a book about her brother and his battle with AIDS. Other prospective projects are in the works right now for which Laurie would be doing all the writing. She's presently in the negotiating stage for a nonfiction book she's been asked to write about a precedent-setting murder trial in which the accused was found not guilty by reason of an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Laurie is also collaborating on a book with her husband. Although she won't say much about the project, she's eager to talk about her husband, John Marcus.

He's the author of HarperCollins's Complete Job Interview Handbook. She met him at a church six days after her divorce from a 20-year marriage, and a year later they were married. Laurie laughingly admits to minor misgivings upon discovering that he was an author. "Oh, great," she thought, "he's going to want me to edit his books."

Besides the reading/writing bond they share, they're both animal lovers. An instant family was formed with Mosey, Laurie's feline companion of 18 years, and Hopscotch, John's very large rabbit. "It was John who introduced me to the world of rabbits," Laurie explains. "Hopscotch is a Giant Flemish; nine pounds three ounces and a strawberry blond." Laurie recently decided to become a vegetarian ("Hopscotch is the reason for that"), but the prospect of baked potatoes and vegetables day after day bothered her. Her solution: basic and Indian vegetarian cooking classes that transformed her into a proud gourmet cook.

In addition to all her work, Laurie sets aside time for another priority in her life, community service. She's the surtitle editor for the Sarasota Opera, and she's been a speaker at the New College Book Fair, Selby Library Fund Raiser, and a Sarasota Fiction Writers Group meeting. She willingly shares her expertise with struggling, hopeful writers, offering encouragement and advice in her speeches. She's an advocate for writers and considers any attempt to discourage writers from seeking publication of their works as no less than criminal. That's not to say she doesn't give serious advice and even warnings to aspiring writers.

For example, a writer needs to hand his work over to someone who's going to give it an objective reading. As Laurie puts it, "A manuscript should be edited by someone who doesn't love you." Once edited, it's important to find a reputable, trustworthy publisher. "There are charlatans out there who prey on authors, taking their money and taking advantage of them."

Last, a word of advice to those writing what might be the next great American novel: make the bad characters really bad. "New authors are so nice! A writer needs to be able to write about violence and cruelty in such a way that it draws a strong emotional reaction from the reader. A good novel does that. It has incredible highs and lows. New authors need to be tough with villains or the bad sides of their characters. That involves letting go of personal sweetness so that their writing really goes for the jugular."-----


Article from WEST COAST WOMAN August 1994

Laurie Rosin • The Book Editor • Book Editing Services • Book Publishing Consultant
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