I have known Marin-based copyeditor and promotional writer Linda Jay Geldens for a while through BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Association), where we both sit on the Board, Linda Jay as newsletter editor and I as Board Secretary. I knew Linda was a great copyeditor; after reading a book that she edited and finding it flawless, I hired her to copyedit my second grammar book. But until more recently, I didn’t know some very interesting facts about Linda!
- Linda’s father was a radio and TV writer who worked with Rod Serling before The Twilight Zone; in fact, as a child, Linda vacationed with her family and the Serlings.
- Linda dated Governor Jerry Brown when they were students at UC Berkeley and Jerry’s father Pat was governor.
- Linda used to be a professional jazz singer, and when she was 19 she had a gig at the Hangover Lounge in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, singing jazz while standing on a piano!
Linda Jay was born in New York City to a Methodist dramatic writer (who had studied to become a minister) and a Jewish kindergarten teacher. An only child, Linda moved a lot because her dad was a freelance writer, but she always connected to her new environment by joining the staff of the school newspaper. Her parents teamed up to write murder mysteries and dramas on TV and radio from the 1940s through the 1970s. Their writing included two scripts for the famous radio show The Shadow in the 1940s. Her father, Verne Jay, also wrote an episode of the TV series Gunsmoke. While he was working for WLW, the NBC radio station in Cincinnati in 1950, a new writer was hired. His name was Rod Serling. Rod and Linda’s dad teamed up to write a murder mystery, A Walk in the Night, for the Phillip Morris Television Playhouse before Serling moved to Hollywood to find his fame and fortune — which he did with The Twilight Zone.
Linda Jay, always an English major, started college at Miami University in Ohio. On Serling’s recommendation, she transferred to Antioch. After leaving Antioch, Linda went to New York City for several months, where she hung out in Greenwich Village listening to jazz, while working as a secretary at Columbia University. She then moved to California to attend UC Berkeley, where she met Jerry Brown at the International House, where they both lived. On their second date, he said they were going to Sacramento to visit his parents. Linda had no idea who his father was! When Jerry said his father was the Governor, Linda was just a little surprised!
Eventually, Linda attended George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she graduated with her degree in English.
Her first job out of school was for the well-known Boston publishing house, Little-Brown, where she was an advertising copywriter. Since then, Linda has written for The Artist’s Magazine, Television Technology, websites, blogs, and book covers. She has also been editing manuscripts consistently, about 25 books a year, ranging in genre from business to memoir to fantasy to spirituality.
Her Favorite Genre: Linda’s favorite genre to edit is memoir. “You get the whole picture of someone’s life,” she says. “Not just the facts, but what they’re really all about — their heart, their soul.”
Her Most Unusual Projects: At 19, Linda edited The Tight White Collar, a novel by Grace Metalious, the author of Peyton Place. She also wrote the back cover copy for Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye, a book about John F. Kennedy. Most recently, Linda collaborated on the book Ring EXchange — Adventures of a Multiple Marrier by Pam Evans.
Linda says, “I don’t have a book in me. I have many 1500-word articles in me. In six months I will be 75 years old, and I have just barely scratched the surface of what I can do in editing and writing. Odd, huh?”
Linda is an expert copyeditor, or line editor.She goes over every line of a manuscript to make sure it is publisher-ready, whether it is to be self-published or traditionally published. It is extremely important to her that she not change the author’s authentic voice and that all final decisions belong to the author.
Her grammar pet peeves? “Between you and I” (rather than “me”) and “lay and lie.”
Although we are both copyeditors, we are friends and not really competitors. I would be the first to tell you that Linda is a great editor. We will be representing BAIPA at the Booktoberfest at the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco on September 27.
If you would like to contact Linda Jay, her e-mail is LindaJay@aol.com.