“The most important thing is to get your story down,” says Jaine Toth. “Then get people who can help you. Your first draft might seem boring, but you can play with it and tighten it up. You can learn how to go through your manuscript and clean it up. You don’t have to be super talented to get started. It’s easy to learn how to improve it.”
Jaine started writing her book the day her father passed away. She continued writing stories about her dad and then her mom. Then a friend encouraged her to publish them and she did!
She was compelled to write the following poem in memory of her father, and recited it at his funeral.
Swing Among the Stars
You’ve stepped on out of your earthbound soles
into celestial dancing shoes.
Hear the music of the sphere?
It shall now become your Muse.
Lindy along the Milky Way.
Swing along the stars.
Go Waltzing with Eternity.
Do the Twist ‘tween Venus and Mars!
The Heavens are the dance hall
for your spirit—it’s finally free!
Some day in going go join you, Dad,
so save a Cha-Cha just for me!
Her writing impressed her family and they encouraged her to continue. They enjoyed the melody and the music of her reading.
Share Your Stories
Jane was so encouraged that she began writing a memoir of her parents. She didn’t intend to publish, but only to share the stories with her family. She was fortunate enough to be in touch with a friend who was starting a publishing company called Nine Petal Press. The only cost she incurred was the editing, the ISBN number, and the artwork. Nine Petal Press published her book, Dizzy Izzy & The Red Witch, on Amazon.
Although Jaine does not actively market her book, she’s surprised how many people find it and read it. She’s active in a local writing group, gives presentations on her book, and presents workshops on how to write a memoir. She stays busy as an author. Her advice to writers is, “just get your story down.”
Writing Changes Your Life
She’s inspired by Frederick Buckley because he believes that writing can change people’s lives. People become linked through stories. She encourages writers to just write, because, if you wait for it to be perfect, you will never publish. Get your story down.
“Writing changes your life in ways you just can’t imagine,” Jaine says. She realizes that writing gave her the self-confidence she never had. She also realized she had something to say that others cared about and through her writing, she could help people.
Get Your Story Down
Jaine encourages writers to develop a personal network of readers who offer criticism, editing, and suggestions for improvements. She encourages writers to write memories as you recall them, not as others recall them, because everyone has a different perspective. Get your story down.
Make Your Words Sing
“Make your words sing, because to write is to create music. Practice reading your work out loud and listen for the melody in your words,” she says.
Jaine is currently writing her next book, which is her first attempt in the self-help genre. Her working title is The Art of Spiritual Transformation. It will be available soon.
Brooklyn-born and California-raised, Jaine Ellen Toth is a former columnist for Carpinteria, California’s Coastal View News and, locally, the Eloy Enterprise. She also wrote for the Carpinteria Historical Society’s newsletter, The Grapevine, and has had several poems and stories published. Jaine won first place in the Carpinteria Creek Association’s poetry, and she is a longtime contributor to bahaiteachings.org. Jaine developed and presents a memoir-writing workshop, started and facilitates the Robson Ranch writers’ group, and co-facilitated a week-long writers’ retreat at the Desert Rose Baha’i Institute. Dizzy Izzy & The Red Witch: Memories of My Parents, begun as an exercise in grief therapy, is Jaine’s first (but not last!) book. Jaine loves to write—but honestly—she’d rather be acting.
by Patty Rulli and Sandra Bradley