How do you take a stack of unrelated stories spanning some twenty years and create a cohesive book?
My friend Vern approached me with just that question. He started writing after he retired and decided he wanted to write a book. With over sixty stories recalled from his childhood in Pennsylvania, he was off to a great start.
Common themes ran throughout the stories, such as faith, family, friends, the farm, fishing, the future, and food—especially food. In fact, he mentioned his mother’s roast beef dinner multiple times. Not coincidentally, those topics made natural divisions into chapters for the book, filled with celebrations of humanity, caring, hope, gratitude, endurance, and respect.
Because food played such a big part in the daily life of this young boy, I was delighted when Vern provided original recipes from his childhood.
The next task consolidated related topics into chapters and then into the individual stories. This part of the process proved both exciting and challenging. Each of the heartwarming stories was edited and revised, sliced and diced, culled and expanded, reorganized and reworked, until the book felt right. With such a large variety of story lines, it became necessary to alternate uplifting tales with sad ones, heartbreak with courage, and discouragement with hope for the future.
It was a pleasure delving into Vern’s stories and creating the book of his dreams.