What Clients Say

Books

Historical fiction
I had the opportunity to work with Mary for several months while preparing my book, Natural Destiny (available on amazon.com) for self publication through CreateSpace. Mary was extremely thorough from the very beginning of the project. She communicated with me as needed to address issues as they came up in person, via email, and over the phone. She not only helped me with the customary editing (e.g., grammar, flow, and tense) but also put herself in the reader’s position throughout the book and pointed out where I needed to clarify, define, and expand. With Mary’s help, I rewrote several complete drafts of my book and still met my publishing deadline. I am absolutely pleased with the final draft of the book, and customer reviews continue to be overwhelmingly positive. I am in the process of writing the sequel to my book. Without hesitation I am once again hiring Mary as my editor.

Sherry Dixon
Boeing’s Director of Emergency Health Safety 
North Charleston, South Carolina


Health care
I sought Mary’s feedback about the organization, content, and style of my patient advocacy book. Mary provided the editing I was expecting and beyond to the point that I now refer to her as my writing coach. She showed a depth of understanding of the content as well as an innate ability to stand back and play the reader. I can’t think of a more trusted reviewer of my manuscript and proposal as I head toward traditional publication.

Laura Tutt
Veteran Journalist
Charleston, South Carolina


Therapy
For many years I have been working on a book about my clinical method for children with autism. At every step Mary was there to help—with outlines, punctuation, sentence structure, tone, and style. I’m very grateful for her work and dedicated efforts to keep me writing. Without her, I would have dumped my drafts into the trash long ago. Thanks to Mary, Greenwood Publishing Group published Helping Children with Autism Become More Social 76 Ways to Use Narrative Play! (child-talk.com)

Ann Densmore, Ed.D., CCC-SLP/A
Clinical Psychologist 
Boston, Massachusetts


Gardening
Mary is an extraordinary editor; her insights and careful attention to detail will show in the final pages of your work. Her enthusiasm and knowledge of her craft strengthens my message word by word. I can’t imagine working on any writing project without the assistance of Mary as my editor while I was writing It’s About More Than Trees. She takes the time to understand the message I want to convey. Then, she helps me work the text into something masterful. Mary has a gentle way of helping improve my writing skills, while at the same time helping me meet my goals. I recommend her highly.

Colleen Carroll, Ed.D.
Director of NatureTalks 

Kaui, Hawaii


Academic Writing

Mary has been providing our laboratory with an excellent editing service for journal articles, technical reports, and presentations. She has worked well with many non-native English-speaking students and researchers both in person when she was located in Hawaii, and now through the Internet after her move to South Carolina. Her service is very prompt. I highly recommend her.

 Lloyd Hihara, Ph.D.
Professor at University of Hawaii, Department of Engineering
Honolulu, Hawaii


I was so lucky to have Mary as my editor for my doctoral dissertation. Since English is not my first language, I have a hard time communicating my ideas and thoughts in English. First, Mary helped me organize my ideas with an outline and stay on task with a timeline. Then when I sent her a draft, her comments about and corrections helped me clarify my ideas. During the whole process, Mary kept me on task and encouraged me. She was also always prompt and considerate. Although we live in different places, we worked very well through e-mail and on the phone. I have told my friends about her and will definitely work with her in the future.

Chen-Wen Su, M.A.
Violin Teacher
San Jose, California


I am a graduate student who speaks English as a second language. Mary’s editing of my thesis was so helpful that I hired her to work on my doctoral dissertation as well. Her comments and questions not only identified where I needed to clarify and elaborate on my points but also showed me how to write clearly, concisely and beautifully. She respects my ideas and style, offering better ways to phrase thoughts without changing them. I trust Mary and feel very comfortable with her.

Ruriko Kumano, Ph.D.
Graduate Student at University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii


Application essays to college and graduate school

With Mary’s help on my application essays, I was accepted to Johns Hopkins Medical School, my top choice. Her editing of my essays was unique because she not only made corrections, but more importantly, provided reasons for her corrections. In short, her help was one of the most critical components in writing a competitive application and getting accepted to the school of my choice.

Joseph Crompton
Student at Johns Hopkins Medical School
Baltimore, Maryland


Mary is an exceptionally talented editor who is passionate about helping others express themselves concisely and beautifully. Mary’s professional editorial guidance empowered and inspired me to write my best work. A seasoned professor’s response told me that my application essays were “eloquent and concise—exceptional in every way.” I feel so wonderfully (and unexpectedly) calm after having sent my applications in and I know it is because of the work she and I did together. Had I forged ahead alone, I would not have felt such confidence in the strength of my application; the essays communicate everything I needed and wanted them to and were instrumental in my being admitted to the program.

Amy Rossiter
Graduate Student at Baylor’s Physician Assistant Program
Waco, Texas


Family Histories and Memoirs

Mary has helped me with a variety of family history writing projects. After my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness, she recorded conversations with him and wrote his memoir based on these interviews. Later she organized and edited his letters and talks. Mary works well from transcription to finished text, keeping the authenticity of the speaker’s voice and organizing material in a cohesive fashion. Mary also organized and edited two volumes of family letters, bringing order to material that family members valued but did not have the time and/or skills to complete. She is helping us preserve voices from my family’s past.

Charlotte Cannon, M.A.
Retired Reading Teacher, Mother of Four and Grandmother of Fifteen
Chicago, Illinois


Without Mary’s help and encouragement I would have never started writing my memoir. Being foreign born and not trusting my English language skills, I needed her expertise. She took on the challenge of pulling together my story and giving it the direction it needed. She also helped me recall and write long forgotten incidents. I am almost finished with my life story and look forward, with Mary’s help, to seeing it published.

Margit Benton
Hotel Manager
Charleston, South Carolina


Without the expertise and guidance of Mary Johnston, my memoir, Eva ‘n Me, would still be a rough draft. She is the consummate editor and writing coach. Struggling to shape my book, which is now in the publishing stage, I called on Mary to do three things.

First, to examine my manuscript with a fresh eye for detailed editing. In the process, she hammered my ubiquitous clichés and dashes, and polished both punctuation and language usage—all things difficult to spot in your own writing, even if you’ve taught English for over thirty years as I have!

Second, to help with clarity of purpose and continuity throughout my fifteen chapters. Peppering me with pertinent questions, she forced me to rethink specific passages as well as the overall message I wanted to convey. Together we reorganized chapters, decided where to put scenes, and what to delete. (She’s ruthless on the latter!)

Third, to hold my feet to the fire. I’m a procrastinator. In addition, I have trouble with closure, so I’d still be tweaking the text on my deathbed were it not for Mary’s insistence that we keep to a writing schedule.

No athlete has enjoyed a more rigorous coach or one with more encouraging words. She believed in my story, and it showed in all of the energy she put into our sessions. Mary met all of my expectations of a writing coach with candor, caring, and supreme professionalism.

Angela Williams, M.A. 
Life Coach, Writing Teacher, and Author
Charleston, South Carolina


I’m writing my autobiography. When Mary received my book, the story was disjointed and unorganized. She helped me fill in gaps in my timeline and expound on parts that were not fully explained. Thanks to Mary’s expertise, my book is now close to being completed. If I had found her earlier, perhaps it would not have taken me five years to write my story.

Val Johnson
IT Specialist
Charleston, South Carolina


At the age of seventy-three, with some physical weaknesses and mental limitations due to a stroke, I wanted to write about my life to leave a bit of myself for my grandchildren, who are very young and live far away. I had not written much for others to read and my mind was slipping. Until I spoke with Mary, I was not sure I could record my life story. She explained how we could do it. Across a couple of months she would interview me on the phone. (We live a couple thousand miles apart so meeting in person wasn’t possible.) After transcribing the interviews, she would weave together my stories. Then it would be my turn to make the changes I wanted. Despite my challenges with focus and memory, I’ve been able to tell my story with Mary as my writing partner and mentor. I never could have done it without her.

Blanche Johnston
Retired Law Librarian
Salt Lake City, Utah


Mary did a remarkable job working with our mother to tell the story of her life. She began the process with a series of interviews that made Mom feel very comfortable telling Mary anything and everything about her life. The beauty of the finished product was in how well Mary organized sometimes disconnected stories into a series of chapters that captured the major aspects of our mother’s life and accomplishments. I learned things about my mother I had not known. My mother is very proud of the book. Her extended family, friends, and members of our community have loved reading it. I appreciate Mary’s wonderful writing, her attention to detail, and her commitment to keep the project on track so that my mother’s extraordinary life story got told. As I worked with Mary to revise and edit the book, while also adding pictures with important captions, Mary was a complete professional—a delight to work with at every step. I highly recommend Mary’s work!

Laura L. Bush, Ph.D 
Owner of Peacock Proud, LLC
Mesa, Arizona


Other Manuscripts

We hired Mary to edit Head Start curriculum as well as brochures, essays and newspapers articles about child development and parenting. She ensured that we had a) consistent formatting; b) correct grammar, punctuation and spelling; and c) clarity of content. Because she is a thorough editor who writes well, we know that whatever she edits is ready for publication. In addition, she is easy to work with and returns manuscripts in a timely matter. Without any doubt, my colleagues and I highly recommend her as an editor.

Mary Ann Nemoto, M.A.
Administrator for the Center on the Family at the University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii


Writing group facilitator

I have been a musician and music educator for the past thirty-five years, and most of the writing I have done has been in music. Recently I met a young man who told me a very compelling story, and I was motivated to write it in the form of a novel. Fortunately, I was introduced to Mary, who is helping me bring the story to life with her expert editing and guidance. With her nurturing and that of our writing group, I am gaining confidence in my approach to the subject and characters. I am learning to be consistent, to balance dialogue with narrative, and to make each sentence have a purpose.

Madeline List Hershenson, M.M.Ed.
Violinist, Pianist, Teacher, and Conductor
Charleston, South Carolina


My association with Mary began with a non-fiction writers group that she led for several weeks, under the auspices of the Center for Women in Charleston, South Carolina. Several of us continued to work with Mary after the “official” group was finished because she was conscientious and thorough in her critiques and because we appreciated her way of gently prodding us to improve the clarity and style of our writing.

I found her thoughtful and competent editing extremely useful and asked her to edit another manuscript, which she tackled with zest and greatly improved.

I have recommended Mary highly as an editor to several friends because she is thorough, competent, and thoughtful in her approach to editing a manuscript. She not only scrutinizes the written details but also analyzes the overall structure of the work. She has edited other books I have written, including The God That Says I Am: A Scientist’s Meditations on the Nature of Spiritual Experience and is helping with another. I trust and value her commentary and insights.

Jo Anne Simson, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus from Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, South Caolina


Not sure of what to expect, I walked into the first session of one of Mary’s writing groups. My hope was to find advice and direction on how to write and publish my first book. I learned that and so more from Mary, who was the facilitator for the group.

Under Mary’s direction, I have learned many essential components of nonfiction writing. I wanted candid and comprehensive feedback on both my book topic and my writing. Mary delivered on both! Her style is gentle yet insistent, non-threatening but very informative. She obviously loves her work and that positive spirit shows.

Being a total newbie to book writing, I would have never been able to progress as far as I have without Mary’s expert guidance.

Jane Perdue 
CEO of The Braithewaite Group and Get Your Big On
Charleston, South Carolina


For many years I have wanted to write a book about my travel and food experiences and include some of my recipes. The process seemed overwhelming. Fortunately, I crossed paths with Mary and that process became “a piece of cake”.

A group of us who are aspiring writers meet monthly and Mary guides us. Her feedback is clear, helpful, and consistent. Mary has shown me how to make my readers smell flavors and see sights. She has taught me to paint with words!

Dani Manilla
Chef, Cooking Instructor, and Culinary Tour Guide
Charleston, South Carolina