Friday, May 29, 2015

Why Would a Former Harvard Professor...


By Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.

I’ve read that about 80% of adults in America hope to write a book some day. I understand that.

In 2011, after being early-retired for a decade, I wrote a book, a memoir about my fifty-year romance with the woman who has been my wife for thirty years. I gave away hundreds of paperback and electronic copies of the book, Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion. I sold hundreds, too, but the goal was not to make a lot of money (thank goodness).

Rather, I wanted to convince people of the power of love, the importance of marriage, the value of even the most handicapped among us (my wife is quadriplegic), and thank the doctors and nurses who saved Tina’s life. Finally, I wrote it as a gift and tribute to my precious Tina (whose childhood name was Su Ting-ting).

Like many of you who will read this, I have always liked to write. Upon graduating from high school, I could have gone the English major route or the physics major route, given my aptitudes and my education to that point. I chose physics, figuring it would eventually guarantee at least an upper-middle-class life, as it did, after I got my A.B. in physics from Cornell, my M.S. in physics from Penn State, and my Ph.D. in engineering from Harvard.

My three decades of applied physics work included serving as Assistant and then Associate Professor of Environmental Physics at the Harvard Graduate School of Public Health before joining IBM’s Watson Research Center for a decade, as a Research Staff Member. By the time I retired early, partly to care for my wife, I had written over 100 technical papers published in peer- reviewed journals and was elected Fellow of the Institute of Environmental Sciences. I liked to write, and I wrote a lot.

What to do in retirement? Having written and published my memoir, I decided to help others write and publish their books. I didn’t need the money, but I would not do it for free, as I’ll explain next.

Helping would-be authors is for me a hobby and a business. I have decided to charge $25 per week [or $100 per month] for several reasons:

1. People often value what they pay for more than they value what they get for free.

2. Would-be authors who are serious about their writing should be willing to pay this small fee. Those who want more than the initial consultation for free are not as serious and could be wasting my time [and theirs].

3. My setting aside an hour or two a week [consultations, meetings, proofing, related research] for each author at this price is something I am willing to do. Payment by the hour or by the word or by the page or by some other measure did not seem as feasible.

4. A would-be author who is spending $25 per week on my coaching now hears the clock ticking. It is time to get serious and get to writing. [As English poet Andrew Marvell wrote, “But at my back I always hear / Time’s winged chariot hurrying near….“]

5. Some day, I may decide to charge more, if I want to or if I need to.


So far, nine of my writing clients have been published or will be published soon:

Marie Elizabeth Foglia and I wrote and published her memoir, Ava Gardner’s Daughter? An Investigation into Two Women’s Pasts. Marie had reason to believe she was the unacknowledged daughter of the film star, and I found the circumstantial evidence convincing. After publication, the book provided leverage for Marie to get a DNA test with a Gardner relative, a test that we were told indicated she and I were mistaken.

Lenny Golino and I wrote and published The Shield of Gold: A Candid Memoir by a Former NYPD Detective. Not only were we both pleased with the book, which was favorably reviewed, but Lenny reported that it served as a “thick business card,” bringing him some new clients as well as a great deal of personal satisfaction.

Alice Conner Selfridge, with my coaching and editing, wrote and published High Shoes and Bloomers: Remnants from the Attic in My Mind, which has been very favorably reviewed, describing a happy childhood growing up as the youngest of eleven children in a poor family in a small town in Massachusetts during the Great Depression and World War II.

Judith Axtell, Alice’s close friend, decided not to be outdone. She wrote, with my coaching and editing, her book, But…At What Cost, published in 2014. It is a mix of memoir and political philosophy, describing her half-century migration from reflexive Liberal to Conservative activist.

Mary E. Seaman and I wrote her memoir, Kidnapped Twice: Then Betrayed and Abused, published by Outskirts Press in 2014, telling the story of a girl, born wealthy and pretty, whose abuse by her stepmother shaped many decades of her life after she left home. Writing the book has proven therapeutic for Mary.

Mike DeMaio, with my coaching and editing, is finishing Amends: A Memoir of Reconciliation, a Marine’s Journey Home from War, scheduled for publication in late 2015. It describes his hellish year as a Marine in Vietnam, and his decades of recovery from PTSD, which affected all who knew him. Mike is Lenny Golino’s cousin, and he decided to write his book after seeing how becoming an author affected Lenny.

Kathleen Blake Shields has written, and is publishing this year, Home is Where the Story Begins: A Memoir of a Happy Childhood. Like some of my other authors, Kathy submitted her handwritten manuscript in stages, and I dictated it into my computer, coaching Kathy and editing a bit along the way. Written primarily for family and friends, the book is likely to brighten a much wider circle.

Adria Goldman Gross and I are finishing for publication this year Solved! Curing Your Medical Insurance Problems: Advice from MedWise Insurance Advocacy. Like Lenny Golino’s book, this will not only inform readers but serve as a thick business card for Adria and her MedWise business.

Loretta Quisenbery Pickens is well under way with her historical novel about the Civil War, The Last Drumbeat, based on the true story of her ancestors in Northern Virginia.


So, where do you come in? When you enroll, we will work together to plan, produce, and publish your book. I’ll accept only 6 [change that: now 4]  new writers for the rest of 2015, with a two-week open enrollment period scheduled for June 19 to July 3.

After the first 6 are chosen, the others will be placed on a waiting list, in the unlikely event more writing partner positions open before 2016.

For more information about why you should write your book with me, see this five-minute video:  VIDEO LINK.

If you are interested in writing your book with my help, please contact me for a free introductory session through the   CONTACT PAGE

My resume follows:

Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.
Physicist, Retired, and Writer
264 East Drive, Walden, NY 12586

Douglas Winslow Cooper is a writer and retired environmental physicist, now helping to manage at-home nursing care of his wife. Cooper earned his A.B., with honors, in physics at Cornell, then served at the U.S. Army biological warfare laboratories at Ft. Detrick, MD. Subsequently, he returned to school, obtaining his M.S. degree in physics at Penn State and his Ph.D. in engineering from Harvard. His professional life centered on environmental issues. He was the author or co-author of more than 100 technical articles published in refereed journals and was elected Fellow of the Institute of Environmental Sciences. He recently wrote Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion, available at Dr. Cooper does freelance writing, book partnering and editing. He co-authored a detective’s memoir The Shield of Gold and edited the memoirs High Shoes and Bloomers and But…at What Cost? Dr. Cooper also offers tutoring of students in physics, mathematics, and English.

Ph.D., Engineering, Harvard University, 1974.
M.S., Physics, The Pennsylvania State University, 1969.
A.B., Physics, Cornell University, 1964.

Physicist, GCA / Technology Division, Bedford, MA. Conducted air pollution research, 1973-76.

Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor of Environmental Physics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA. Taught environmental management and aerosol science and assisted in teaching introductory biostatistics and a health policy course.  Performed research related to air pollution, industrial hygiene, and nuclear reactor health effects modeling. Became Director, Environmental Health Management Program, 1976-83.

Research Staff Member, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY. Carried out research and did internal consulting and training on topics related to contamination control, measurement, and analysis, often involving statistical analysis and mathematical modeling, 1983-93.

Director, Contamination Control, The Texwipe Company, Upper Saddle River, NJ. Performed research and wrote technical articles on contamination control to improve its products and support the company’s technical reputation. Managed contamination-related quality control, 1993-2000. Then, retired.

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