Friday, April 16, 2010

My first editor: Lauri Klobas

A very special friend passed away early yesterday morning after her third battle with cancer.

I met Lauri Klobas several years ago on the Books & Writers Forum, a place I've mentioned in previous posts. Lauri and I shared a love of animals (kitties for her, dogs for me), and we often crossed paths on the many pet-related forum threads, not to mention all the writing craft threads that were generated over the years. Lauri also wrote wonderful Letters From Home detailing her work as a teleprompter for NFL, and her past work behind the scenes on many television shows, and her interaction with the "stars" of Hollywood, many of them hilarious, some of them eye-opening, some truly head-shaking.

Over time we began to be aware of the book projects each other was working on, and about two years ago I received an email from Lauri offering to help me edit my extremely long historical novel, Kindred. I hadn't yet encountered Lauri's editing skills for myself, but I knew she was an encouraging soul--she'd headed the monthly Goals thread, where writers state their goals at the start of the month, give a mid-month check in, and an end-of-the-month report. Lauri, during her stint, was always there with the virtual confetti ready to throw for successes and encouraging words for those who hadn't met their goals.

But that would prove no comparison to the effort she made in editing my novel. I wanted her to be ruthless. I know it's hard to be so with another writer's work, especially if that writer is a friend. But Lauri did it. She made that manuscript bleed red, and she did it with gentle humor and encouragement. I'm not sure she ever quite believed how ecstatic I was to get a few chapters back from her and see how much she felt could be excised without diminishing the story I wanted to tell, or the characters I wanted to breathe life into. I learned to trust her instincts, and often cut more than she suggested, because, in spite of my ingrained wordy ways, I was learning to edit.

More than as my first editor, I will miss her as the tenderhearted rescuer of "problem" kitties, as the proud owner of her first home, as a lively, optimistic presence on the forum even while she struggled with her own failing health, as a person who was truly engaged with the world around her and genuinely interested in how the rest of us were getting along with things. As a true cheerleader. As my friend.

These are Lauri's last words to me, in response to the news that I had signed with an agent with Kindred. They were written at the end of March after she left her home and moved to be near family and friends for her final weeks. They so perfectly epitomizes who she was to me:

I have been waiting for this letter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yippee. I would type longly and effusively, but I am having trouble with my typing!
Boy, l am I proud of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I will miss you, Lauri. I am not the same because of you. Thank you so very much.

Lauri's kind heart and generosity of spirit touched many lives. I'll be adding other links to tributes to her as I come across them.

~ From my fellow forumites, Claire, Rachel, Jen and Kristen:


  1. So sorry to hear about your dear friend's passing. She sounds like a remarkable woman! Lovely tribute.

  2. So sorry to hear this, Lori. Will be praying for you and your forumites. Lauri must have been a delightful person.

  3. I didn't know Lauri but I know she was well loved by her forum friends. Thanks for the lovely tribute.

  4. Thank you, Ruth, Laura and Helene. I'd been missing Lauri's long, newsy emails for a few weeks now, but the few short notes I had from her were so positive and uplifting, I had begun to hope she might yet beat that cancer a third time. That was another thing we had in common, both of us being cancer survivors. I will miss her friendship, and forever be grateful for her kind and generous help on my writing journey.

  5. Oh, Lori, I'm sorry for the sadness in losing such a dear friend. It sounds like Lauri was a special person and had such a profound impact on your writing, especially Kindred. I'm glad your lives intersected and pray that you will be comforted by the wonderful memories and influence she had in your life.

  6. This is a moving story and I am sorry for your loss.

  7. Warren, thank you so much for stopping in and reading about Lauri. She was a lovely lady who went above and beyond all my expectations as a beta reader-turned-indispensable editor.

  8. Carla, I'd say in regards to editing, Lauri gave me courage to stop snipping timidly at my over-written prose and go at it with a machete, knowing I could always graft if it back if I cut too deep. That might seem a strange gift to cherish, but it was a real turning point for me as a writer.

  9. Melissa Honig9:15 PM

    Lori, thank you so much for posting this. I've known Lauri since 1975, when we were camp counselors together. I am grateful for our years together, grateful to have shared these last few months in close enough proximity for frequent visits, and grateful for the second family she found through the writing forum. Just two weeks ago, she shared her pride with me in your accomplishments. You made her very happy. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

  10. Melissa, Lauri told me of her camp counseling days, and I'm so thrilled to hear from you. One of the highlights of my too brief friendship with Lauri was the day she told me, in the midst of our massive editing project, that she felt the desire to read and write again stirring. I'm so happy and blessed you told me of Lauri's thoughts these past weeks. I know beyond doubt that my writing journey would have been much longer and harder without Lauri's assistance. Even though we never met in person, I will miss her greatly, but am so grateful to have known her.

  11. djnote7:06 PM

    My Beautiful Friend! I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Death is a permanent loss to those who know not our Lord. But those who give up their lives to HIM, gain everything! Soon and very soon...
    I, too, am proud of you and treasure our friendship.
    hugs, dj

  12. Suzanne Lock11:13 PM

    Dear Lori,
    Like Melissa, I am a long-time friend of Lauri's. We have been best friends for 40 years, ever since we sat next to each other in the high school orchestra. She played oboe and I played flute. She sang at my wedding. I sleep under a quilt she made for me. Although we spent the last thirty years living in opposite ends of the state, we spent her last days living two doors away from each other. Actually, we spent her last days with me sitting on the foot of her bed!
    I, too, heard from Lauri all about the editing job she did on your manuscript. She was so proud of you and excited for you. She really enjoyed working with you! Not only did this stir her energies toward reading and writing again, it also gave her the feeling that editing might be her new calling.
    She truly loved all her friends on the Forum - you folks were her lifeline, especially when she was house-bound. You shared some of her life's passions. You all were so caring and supportive during her valiant battle.
    I just wanted you to know how deeply I have been touched and comforted by your kind words. Thank you so very much for appreciating my (our) dear friend.

  13. Dear Suzanne, Lauri mentioned you to me many times over the past couple of years, as you shared so many of her memories. Oh, to have a friend for 40 years. What a gift, for both of you! Thank you for sharing some of your memories of Lauri. Over the course of our big editing project I grew convinced Lauri did have a calling as an editor. She was truly gifted in that way. But the day she told me she had the desire to read and write again I jumped for joy (having battled my own way through chemo fog to write Kindred). I knew you were the friend Lauri was moving to be near and hoped one day to connect with you, if only to say bless you for all the care you took of her and the love you showed. I can't think of a place I'd have rather been in Lauri's final days than sitting at the foot of her bed.

  14. DJ, thank you, my friend! Looking forward to seeing you at Ann Shorey's book signing on the 1st. :)

  15. Lori, thank you so much for posting this moving tribute to Lauri. Suzanne & Melissa, I have heard about you both so often from Lauri over the years. She always called me "Carrot" for my red hair; sent me songs she wrote and late night phone calls - well, until I got married and she had the sense to curtail those! Lori, I am thankful that you had the opportunity to get to know, and be blessed by this wonderful friend of ours.

  16. David, thanks for stopping by and posting. It's been nearly three months now and I can't count the times I've wanted to send off an email to Lauri to tell her this or that. I miss her very much but you are so right, it was a blessing to know her and I'll always be thankful too. Thanks for sharing your memories and giving me a smile to start my day. Yes, I can imagine Lauri doing all those things, and also having the sense of when they were no longer quite as appropriate! She was an eminently sensible lady.

  17. What a touching story!

  18. That's a wonderful tribute, Lori. I'm glad I got a chance to 'meet' Lauri, through you.

    1. Anna, thank you for giving me a chance to talk about her over at The Heroine Addicts' Blog. I could wish a Lauri on every writer, just when she's most needed.