SPARK PLUG: Writing coach Lisa Tener teaches writers to make their book a priority, hopefully helping them find their creative spark.
PBN FILE PHOTO/TRACY JENKINS
By John Larrabee PBN Staff Writer
Ask writing coach Lisa Tener how to pen an inspirational memoir, and she’ll point to one of her own success stories, Dr. Tim Warren.
Before he turned to her for advice, he was best known as a Rhode Island chiropractor. Outside the clinic, though, he was a globe-trotting outdoorsman. He’d trekked to the top of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, and his experience made him a popular speaker at local schools, which in turn got him thinking he should aim for a bigger audience.
He took Tener’s eight-week writing course, and then sat down at a keyboard and banged out “Lessons from Everest,” a high-adventure story with a universal message for everyone seeking to reach their full potential.
“Tim Warren could have written a book that was simply about climbing Everest, but there are a lot of other books about that,” Tener explained. “Instead, he’s giving you the personal tools he used to make the climb, and making it a captivating story that applies to the business world.”
That kind of advice has made Tener – a Rhode Islander for almost a decade – one of the country’s most successful writing coaches. She’s got a tool box of techniques to get creative juices flowing, and the know-how to help writers deal with the publishing industry as well. Authors who’ve graduated from her course have signed contracts with Simon and Schuster, Random House, Scribner’s and other major publishers. Others have self-published.
Some of her clients gather every Friday morning for eight weeks in an oceanfront home in Narragansett. Those from beyond New England take a self-study course with email support.
Tener’s clients are executives with a lifetime of experience to share. They are therapists and psychologists who seek to extend their reach beyond their clinic, and motivational speakers who want to continue to be heard after their talk is over.
The New York City native took a circuitous route to her current profession.
After graduation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a minor in writing, she went on to work in management-information systems. But after several years she was feeling restless. She knew she needed a career that was more “people-oriented.” She returned to MIT and studied marketing at the Sloan School of Management. That led to a job as executive director of Hospitality Homes in Boston, a nonprofit that matches families of patients in Boston for medical treatment with volunteer hosts who open their homes to visitors. She led the organization for several years, leaving in 2000.
About the same time she also began work on a self-help tome for those handling harmful emotions. “The Ultimate Guide to Transforming Anger: Dynamic Tools for Healthy Relationships,” penned with co-authors Jane Middleton-Moz and Peaco Todd, was published in 2005.
In 2005, Tener’s husband moved his business from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. Once the family had settled down in the Saunderstown section of North Kingstown, Tener was ready to begin a new project. With advice from her town’s librarian, she launched a website and began enrolling students in her writing course.
“The course attracts a lot of entrepreneurs, people who have a business and realize they can use a book to grow their business,” she said. •