The Velvet Word

Lorna Johnson | Spiritual Storysmith | Memoir Midwife | Ghostwriter | Editor


Lorna, I met you in the magical tree house that is Linda Sivertsen's writing retreat in Carmel, California, and from the moment I heard you read your work, I was blown utterly away.

When you read a chapter from your memoir, our whole group was captivated, stunned, silenced. People don’t write like you anymore. You have this classical, literary, timeless style; the epitome of poetry and prose woven together. Your writing is breathtaking, literally, as I actually found myself holding my breath as I waited for the next delicious beat. And then when you offered feedback on my novel, I was impressed by your intuitive ability to tap into the deeper themes, as well as your concrete editorial suggestions.

 I watched you work with other writers, and you seemed to be able to tap into everyone’s story and everyone’s voice. You have a knack for that, even though there couldn't have been five more different writers, books and voices around that table. When I learned that in addition to being a published writer, you were a professional editor, I knew that I wanted to work with you.

We developed a close bond in Carmel and spoke frequently in the weeks following as I began the process of submitting my query to agents. In every conversation, I told you that when the time came for me to need a professional editor (as all novelists do eventually), I wanted to hire YOU. You thought I was saying it out of guilt and obligation, but I was actually preparing you for the moment when my novel was going to take over your life!

After my query generated interest and requests for the entire manuscript from agents, I panicked, because I knew there were some chapters that needed work. After four years of writing, revising and obsessing, I was suddenly struck dizzy, numb and blind to my own book. I needed a brilliant and intuitive editor to help me get my stuff together, STAT. You were the person I went to—the first person I entrusted with my precious baby that I had been nursing and rocking in solitude for four years. 

You worked tirelessly to get my draft ready for submittal, and in those early negotiations with the agent who eventually signed me, you were instrumental in helping me hold true to my intention with my characters and to the heart and soul of my novel.

And then when I did get signed, you were the one I told my agent I had to work with. Now we’re in the process of revision and the plan is to have my book ready for publishers in the next six months. From our first editorial conference call, you immediately gained the respect from my agent, who is delighted to be working with you as well.

Both as a writer and as an editor, you are a literary genius, and I am beyond grateful to have found you.

— Jennifer Ginsberg, author of a forthcoming novel

Jennifer Ginsberg is a Los Angeles mother, writer and clinical social worker (on hiatus). After receiving her MSW from the USC School of Social Work and MAJCS from Hebrew Union College, Jennifer served as clinical director of Beit T’Shuvah, a Jewish drug and alcohol treatment facility. After having children, she threw herself into the pursuit of a career that has absolutely nothing to do with her highly specialized, massively expensive education, and everything to do with not missing a moment with her children. She currently works as a private organic foods chef, and is completing her first novel while balancing single motherhood. 

Lorna is a genius at figuring out the heart of someone's life story. I've been working on my memoir project for over a year now and my biggest challenge has been trying to figure out what my real message is. And after six hours of interviews, she nailed it: the heart of my story, the theme, the core message. She understands what readers want to read, and she has helped me so much to understand the true and significant value of my life story.  I've discovered so much already in such a short period of time, and I can't wait for more.

— Marisa Hamamoto, Professional Ballroom Dancer, Actress, Inspirational Speaker, and Wheelchair Dance Instructor.  After 20 years in ballet and contemporary dance, both in the US and Japan, Marisa Hamamoto started salsa and ballroom dancing while recovering from Spinal Cord Infarction, a severe neurological disease which left her paralyzed from the neck down, and from which her doctor said she may never recover. She can be found beating the odds through dance at 

Lorna Johnson has a rare combination of talents: She's both a superlative writer and an accomplished editor. She brings that player/coach to the table with every client.

Many editors can point to a chapter or paragraph that needs work, but few can tell you exactly why. Even fewer can then guide you to an inspired revision. Lorna has it all: the what, the why and the how.

Her training in intuitive counseling gives her an added edge: She has a knack for discovering the latent genius in your draft and the skill to nudge it to the surface.

Lorna works competently in all genres from fiction to poetry to memoir. And if she makes editing look easy, it's because she comes to it from a successful writing career and a lifetime love affair with words.

— Michael Anderson, poet and editor of RHINO, award-winning poetry journal,