Ruth Mills 2016

Ruth Mills, NJ

Critically Acclaimed Writer

Ruth has 20 years’ publishing experience at Random House, Wiley, and Prentice Hall and 15 years’ experience as a freelance book doctor and ghostwriter. She has ghosted more than a dozen books—some bestselling—most notably for Jenny Craig, founder of the weight- loss business, and Mark Weber, former CEO of Donna Karan International. In an alternate life, she would have been a jazz and blues singer.

As a Story Terrace writer, Ruth interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

Deadlines and Ice Cream

I ghosted my first book in 2003. After almost 20 years working for various publishers, I went freelance in 2001, as a developmental editor, to help authors develop their ideas into interesting, readable books. Then a colleague asked if I wanted to write a book with Jenny Craig, the founder of the eponymous weight-loss chain.

Since I had edited and published dozens of books on business leaders and entrepreneurs, ghostwriting didn’t seem much of a stretch: as I had coached hundreds of authors on how to flesh out their topics, I often felt as though I were co-authoring, by directing how each book flowed and what information it provided.

Jenny had started to write her life story for her daughters and grandchildren, when a literary agent asked if she would write a book about how she started and grew her business. She was interested, but for a commercial business book, she would need help.

That’s where I came in. The hitch was the deadline: the publisher gave me only a month to write the book. A month! It was already August, and the publisher wanted the book done by January, because the #1 New Year’s resolution people make is to lose weight. Even though this wasn’t a weight-loss book, a Jenny Craig business book was close enough to capitalize on that interest. So I agreed to write 250 pages in a month.

I interviewed Jenny over the phone, 3 days a week, for an hour at a time, so she could tell me how she started and grew her business. I tape-recorded the calls, listened to the tapes, and transcribed what I needed, to see what holes there still were in the story. I worked about 20 hours a day. Many nights, I worked until 4AM, slept for 4 hours, and got up at 8 to start another day.

Ironically, I gained 10 pounds writing that book. Each evening, I cooked healthful dinners (think chicken and broccoli), but by midnight I was hungry for another meal. And the concept of “meal” takes on a completely different definition at 12AM—more like a pint of ice cream or a bag of potato chips.

I finished Jenny’s book on schedule, and both she and the publisher were happy with it.

But I still haven’t lost those 10 pounds.

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