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Freelance writer updates history book

by Nancy Hamlett

It’s not every day that you get to shape the way history is studied, but for Jan Jones of the Gardnerville Ranchos, that’s been her job for the past few months.

A professional technical writer and editor, Jones recently was awarded the job of updating the Grace Dangberg Foundation’s textbook, “Wyoming: Courage in a Lonesome Land,” for a second printing. Schools in Wyoming have used the book since 1990 for fourth grade instruction.

“I don’t rewrite history,” said Jones. “The book is almost 10 years old, and the last 10 years are part of history. I’m adding, correcting and consolidating. The foundation wants the book to be the same length, so I have to decide what has to be cut. It’s hard to eliminate someone else’s work.”

Jones and her husband, Alan, moved to Gardnerville 2-1/2 years ago when Perma-Cal Inc., where her husband is quality assurance manager, moved operations from Southern California to the Bently Science Park. Jones wanted to continue working and decided to open a free-lance writing business.

“It was a difficult transition,” Jones said. “I worked for many years as a technical writer for a jet propulsion company in Pasadena. I had to resign from my job- we left behind friends – and the climate and terrain are so different.”

Yet the Carson Valley had a lot to offer Jones and her husband. They both love whitewater rafting, often exchanging the leisurely pace of the Carson River for the raging torrents of the American River and other notable rapids. And they both love to ski.

“It isn’t that difficult to go skiing in Southern California,” she said. “Two hours and you can be at the slopes. But it is nothing like this. And Alan and I have never had so much company. Our skiing friends visit us constantly.”

After freelance writing for some notable companies in the Carson Valley, Jones accepted a full-time position as a technical writer with a company in Sparks. However, when the offer came through from the Grace Dangberg Foundation, Jones discovered that she couldn’t complete the project on weekends and evenings as she anticipated. She quit her job to work on the history book full-time, and has since decided to pursue free-lance writing on a full-time basis.

“I hope when this article comes out I will be swamped with work,” said Jones. “I like the diversity and challenge of working for many different types of companies.”

Jones and Alan have made many new friends since moving to the Carson Valley, especially through their church, Christ Presbyterian Church.

“We’re very active with the church,” she said. “And the people we’ve met have been wonderful to us. We’ve formed many lasting friendships since moving here.”

A part of Jones’ heart may still reside in Southern California, but after a few years of living in the Valley, her loyalties are now equally split.

“I would definitely miss this area now,” Jones said. “We have many new friends, and most days I look at the scenic beauty with amazement.”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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