Bringing a book to life


Nancy Haines holds the proof copy of “We Answered with Love” Pacifist Service in World War I, the letters of Leslie Hotsen and Mary Peabody

I met Nancy at a local women’s networking event for a group she helped found but is no longer involved with. She mentioned that she had a book project, a collection of letters written during WWI, correspondence between a man, and the woman who eventually became his wife. The man traveled to France during the war, not as a soldier, but as a conscientious objector, and served with the Quakers in France. With the Quakers, he worked to rebuild housing, even as the war continued to rage elsewhere in France.

This sounded like an amazing story! Nancy said she had asked one person for help but that this person “didn’t do letters.” I answered, “I love letters!” It brought me back to the work I did transcribing and editing letters of my grandparents, as well as courtship letters my father wrote to our mom the year between when they met and were married.

Nancy shared with me what she had written up and we went back in forth a few times about what didn’t feel clear to me, and what I thought could be done to help make more compelling the story these letters told. Nancy took it from there and did a great job crafting the letters, with needed historical background, into a unique book.

She needed an introduction–after trying to write it herself, she came back and we talked about “What was the most important thing.” Nancy is a good writer, and with some feedback, she headed back and finished up the writing. At this point I passed her on to colleagues who are skilled book designers and editors. What I had done for Nancy was probably my first taste of providing some developmental editing. When I visited with Nancy the other day I was able to hold the proof copy of her book, now just about ready to go out into the world.

I have worked with many people who start book projects but for numerous reasons have been unable to get their projects to completion. Magic. Hard work. Stories that deserve to be shared. Great job, Nancy. Congratulations!

For more information about “We Answered with Love” please visit:

Marjorie Turner Hollman

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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