Today I'd like to introduce you to one of my favorite people, Lisa Murphy. A little over a year ago, Lisa contacted me because she needed help telling a story that was extremely near to her heart. She had heard, through the South Florida literary grapevine, that I often helped aspiring authors "structure and polish" their book projects. Some of my writers call me their "Book Doctor," and others have nicknamed me "Coach."
Since I've started working with other people on their projects, several of these (very different) books have happily made their way into print. Naturally, I get deeply invested in these manuscripts, and so far my fingerprints (and red-ink scribbles) have been all over two cookbooks, two advice books, two memoirs, one biography and one novel. But Lisa's project, which turned into With An Open Heart, is a book that has touched me as no other collaboration has.
Lisa's goal was to write a loving book about the profound effect that her adorable, little adopted son from China, Daniel, had on everyone he met. Even though Daniel only lived with his loving American family for four short months, his death saddened--literally--what seemed like half of South Florida's population. (Not to mention the out-of-state and Internet friends and family who had grown to love this adorable toddler who just happened to have an ailing heart.)
Every week, without fail, Lisa would arrive at my house (a 45-minute drive each way) with a new chapter in need of "doctoring." Some sessions would be devoted to tempo, some to syntax, and others to simply finding the best way to tell the story of a family denied its dream of giving unlimited love to an orphaned little boy. Along the way, the project helped Lisa pay tribute to Daniel, and taught me that the most heroic heart I'd ever met was buried deep inside the facade of an outwardly ordinary 46 year old housewife.
As all of you know, for decades I've been fascinated by accomplished women who have chosen to live "unusual" or "unorthodox" lives, and have (usually against all odds) achieved some level of "success" while doing so. So imagine my surprise to discover that Lisa Murphy, whose only dream was to give a loving home to children in need, would develop--during our weekly sessions--into one of my most-admired Self-Empowered Women.
Perhaps it's because I'm adopted (or maybe because Lisa never even tried to mask the kaleidoscope of feelings that her book project brought to the surface), or maybe because her words made Daniel's spirit come alive on each and every page she brought to our book sessions. Whatever the reason, I became Lisa's biggest fan--both personally and professionally.
With An Open Heart has just been published, and I hope that you will support Lisa's endeavor by ordering a copy for yourself and/or someone else who loves children. The link to her beautiful, inspiring book appears above. For anyone who has lost a child, considered adoption, or wondered what it's like to travel to China as a couple and then make the trip back home as a parent, this lovely book is nothing less than required reading.
Looking forward to your comments...