About your writer & guide

Hello. My name is Jane Mackay, and I love books. Equally, I love facts and knowledge and storytelling.

Since superpowers are all the rage these days, I can say that my superpower is the ability to absorb a large volume of often complex and detailed information and then organize and express it in a way that’s easy to follow and engaging to read.

With equal ease, I can zoom out to look at the macro view, to see how the whole thing fits together; and then zoom in to the micro view, to make sure each detail contributes to the reader seeing and understanding the whole picture.

And I bring an intuitive understanding to all that I do.

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When I was seven or eight years old, my parents, tired of my pestering them always to explain the world I saw around me, gave me a book called Tell Me Why which explained all the wonderful things — why the sky is blue, why the grass is green, why water flows downhill. In great excitement I dove into it, and the pages soon became worn. I loved that book so much, they followed it up with More Tell Me Why and Lots More Tell Me Why.

Even earlier, beginning when I was six years old, for Christmas and birthdays my granddad gave me gifts of volumes of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, until eventually the full set filled the small, two-shelf bookcase in the living room. Countless hours I spent lying on my stomach on the carpet beside that bookcase, pulling out a volume, opening it at random and reading entries until my interest sparked, and then following cross-references from one volume to another.

multicultural
&
multilingual

That bookcase and those books were in rural New Zealand, where I grew up. Later, after a short stint working in a pub in London in my early twenties, I settled in the greater California Bay Area for over twenty years, and I now live mostly in central and southeastern Europe. Since March 2016 I have spent periods of time in Italy, Croatia, Sarajevo, Serbia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Romania, Georgia, Greece, the UK, Ireland, Slovenia, Montenegro. I’ve also visited Austria, Switzerland, Estonia, Latvia, France and Finland.

Thanks to this variegated background, I am linguistically ambidextrous, able to write and edit in U.S. or UK (or NZ) English, and I can manage other varieties with a bit of study and practice.

Language and languages are not only at the heart of my professional vocation, they are my lifelong avocation. Nine years’ study of German culminated in a Bachelor of Arts in German Language & Literature. Since I’ve been in Europe, self-study — and use! — of Italian has brought me to an intermediate level, and I’ve also picked up enough Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian to get by in everyday life. Wherever I find myself, I listen, read, observe, and figure out bits of the language — it’s like a game of piecing together a jigsaw puzzle.

. . . and then there were mountains

In my mid-forties, with no evident provocation, as a lifelong sea-level dweller I suddenly found myself with an obsessive desire to be in the mountains. To live in the mountains, to breathe the mountains, to meld with the mountains. Since then I’ve been exploring ever upwards, mostly in the Orobie mountains of Italy, and also in Serbia, Slovenia, Georgia, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Greece, Switzerland, and elsewhere.

a journey of discovery

Apart from a few rock and ice climbs with an alpine guide, all my mountain explorations have been made alone. Everything was new to me: rock, snow, scree, ice — all the different types of terrain and how different they were underfoot (and under-hand) in terms of stability and grip.

Each exploration upwards, I added a big bit or a little bit to my accumulating store of understanding and experience. Being alone, I proceeded slowly, cautiously, and still I made mistakes, got myself into and out of some tricky situations, and learnt from them. Slowly, slowly, my risk tolerance and confidence have grown and expanded to include more and different types of terrain and challenges — mental as much as physical.

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. . . and mountain running

During lockdown 2020 the desire to be in the mountains expanded into the desire to move swiftly and self-sufficiently through mountainous terrain, and so at the age of just-about-50, as a lifelong non-athlete I started running. This expanded further into structured training following the Uphill Athlete methodology.

In September 2021, curious and interested to test the effect of the training and my body’s actual capacity, I ran the (half) Dents du Midi race in the Swiss Alps: 32 km and a cumulative 2200 m of altitude gain (and spectacular scenery!).

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. . . and always, there are words & knowledge

A Master of Arts in Journalism from Northeastern University in Boston led to writing and editing as a profession. For over fifteen years I have copy edited and line edited books, business communications, and research papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Since 2008 I have copy edited for the International Review of Public Administration, and for many years I have also copy edited for Korean Social Science Journal and Korean Public Administration Review.

The finely honed, deep and broad knowledge of words and how to use them well has not satisfied my thirst for knowledge, learning and varied experience. As office manager for a construction company I dealt with human resources, taxes, insurance, business bookkeeping & accounting, managing people, and of course managing all the functions of an office. As a barmaid (it was 1992!) at a London pub I learnt all about anticipating people’s wants and creating a welcoming atmosphere. As a small-town sports journalist, I learnt how to write great stories that drew the townsfolk out to support their high school teams.

I have served as a search & rescue volunteer, which required regular training and skills upgrades; obtained certification as an Emergency Medical Technician (B); certified as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language; done courses in linguistics, inbound marketing, organisational management, creative writing and music theory; and informally studied (and applied) the physiology of training for endurance sports, photography, Theravada Buddhism, rock & ice climbing, mountain safety, alpinism and its history, human behaviour and psychology, cross-cultural competence, harnessing the power of the mind . . . among other subjects. And I started a rock ‘n’ roll website and learnt to play the drums.

Volunteering has broadened my experience further, taking me into a high school baseball dugout for twelve years, sports photography, and editorial work for the International Medical Community, the Innovation Alliance and Sirius Global — Academic Diplomacy 4.0. I presently serve as forum moderator for Uphill Athlete.

I write and edit in both U.S. and UK English.

(See my full resume/curriculum vitae on LinkedIn.)

Lago di Valbona (2055 m)

colours

The colours I have chosen for my brand.

turquoise

is the colour of an alpine lake.

bronze

is the glow of the setting sun on a snowy peak and a larch pine forest in November.

silver

is a precious metal buried deep in the mountain and snow gleaming in moonlight.

night

wraps the mountain in still silence and graces us with peace and renewal.

metallic gold

is the accent that renders everything brilliant.

Pizzo Coca 3050 m
Pizzo Coca (3050 m)
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