Friday, December 04, 2015

A Little Advent Meditation...

I love Christmas. When it's actually Christmas.
I do not love Christmas for Labor Day, Halloween, or even, yes, Thanksgiving.
I think it's ironic that some of the very same "wise voices" who tell us how fast time is flying are also in the forefront of the cultural trends that rush everything ahead of its proper timetable.
There's an inherent contradiction here. 
But, hey, that's the extent of my profundity for a Friday afternoon.
What I really mean to say is...
No, I don't believe that Christmas is only for children. If you truly think that, you've missed the whole point.
No, I don't believe that if you're all alone, there's "no point" to Christmas decorating, preparing a nice meal, or other special traditions. Again, if you truly think that, you've missed the whole point; it's the birthday of the One who came for Every Single One of Us. Think about that long enough, and a little birthday cake will be worth firing up the oven for.
No, I don't believe that whether someone says "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" has a thing to do with how good a Christian they are...or how good of a Christian they expect ME to be. And I don't take offense at either one. After all, it's also the season of Hanukkah, and soon will be the season of New Year's Day. Holidays are holidays, folks. They're worth smiling about.
And no, I don't believe that the best gifts in life are the ones money can't buy. Not always. Money can buy some pretty valuable things. Food. Water. Clothing. Shelter. Medicine. Protection from harm. And, yes, just plain enjoyment.
(Which there's nothing wrong with, by the way. Just so's we're clear.)
So the next time someone start waxing sanctimonious about how meaningless Christmas is...for one reason or another...
...or how you "shouldn't" want things you DO want under the tree...
...or how it's "just not worth it" to fuss for any of this holiday stuff because it's all "out of control"...
Remember, the One whose birthday we look forward to thought it was worth a lot of fuss to give us a special present.
Enjoy the gifts you have to the fullest, and give the gifts you can with all the joy and enthusiasm you want to expend...
And you'll never have to ask, "What Would Jesus Do?"
Ever. Again.
Christmas tells it all.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Nickels, Nickels, Nickels...New and Improved

In response to inquiries about how you, too, can have the Fabulous Ms M (otherwise known as me) edit your manuscript, here's a handy price breakdown. Share it with those you love, especially if those you love are writers with books to clean up! :-)

BASIC: Proofreading  
Defined as strictly checking for correctness of spelling, punctuation, sentence structure (if glaring), word usage, sense in general. Queries on any points that are not clear, but no changes made to them by editor. 
------------------------------------------------->$0.05 per word

INTERMEDIATE: Light editing
Defined as everything included in proofing, PLUS queries on minor plot points, suggested corrections or alternate words if needed, making sure sentence and paragraph structures are "clean." 
------------------------------------------------->$0.075 per word

COMPREHENSIVE: The "deep tissue massage" of editorial consultation
Defined as everything included in proofreading and light edits, PLUS substantive editing: here, I'll analyze your plot, your characters, and your conflicts; here, I'll mark anything that stops me in the course of a read, anything I can't believe, or anything that seems weaker than it can be. This step, obviously, is best when you're in the drafting stages, and it can save you money in the long run, but it's a more expensive alternative up front.
------------------------------------------------->$0.10 per word

ALTERNATIVELY, we can work on books on an hourly fee basis. Think in terms of $100 per hour, and I track time on Klok and other software to make sure you get value for your dollar.

What does this break down to?
For a 50,000-word manuscript...
you'll pay $1250 for proofreading,
$3,750 for a light edit, 
or $5,000 for "the works" based on a per-word rate.
Total bill by the hour would depend on how long the book takes to go through; we'd talk about that after I saw a couple of pages.

As a matter of fact, I do.

My offer for all potential clients is the same: Send me the first two pages (250 words each) of your manuscript (or about 500 words total) FOR FREE: I will mark them up in "comprehensive" style so you can see how I usually work (even when I'm proofreading, inevitably I'll also do some tweaking and commenting along the way). I'll use Word and Track Changes, so you can see what I do and why. If you like the way I work, we can progress on to the paid project, with appropriate deadlines and milestones. If not, just say, "No, thanks, Janny," and we'll call it a day. No obligation, no hard feelings.

SO IF YOU WANT TO TRY IT can be my guest. And yes, I've found that within two pages, we know if we'll work well together--as long as they're the FIRST TWO PAGES. Do not send any other part of the book, or you'll get a polite note back asking for the beginning. You see, the beginning tells ME where the book is, too...which gives me a lot better handle on how much work the manuscript may be, and what level of editing I'll recommend.

That's the scoop, lay of the land, and price list.
Feel free to share this anywhere you like. I'm always interested in taking new clients.
Questions? Write me anytime!


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Notice the Nifty New PROGRESS?

Yep, I'm cooking on CALLIE'S ANGEL.

On one hand, you could look at old files of the beginnings of this book (which I have) and say, "Uh, yeah, chickie, it's over two years."

Or you could look at the updates that have happened in the last two months...and rejoice.

Prior to a couple of months ago, I had barely 21,000 words on the book.
Now, I'm pushing 58,000. And while this book is still a BEAR to write...I'm knocking down word counts 1,000 or so at a time, and will worry about making things "perfect" later.

Suffice to say that it's been hard getting back into the groove of trusting my fiction again.
But it's also renewed my desire to "just sit down and write" again, too.

And yes, there IS a secret behind this burst of activity. But I'm not sharing it right away.
I'll wait until a first draft is done before I do that. 
(Mwah hah haaah)

Make 'em laugh...make 'em cry...make 'em WAIT.

Now, can't you hardly WAIT to read this book?

More later, 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

If It's Not About the BOOKS...It's Probably Not Worth Doing.

OK. Here are my profound thoughts for the day. 

Writing great books, and writing enough of them that you have a presence out there, is key. 

Writing one book and marketing the bejabbers out of it isn't a BAD idea...but once your fans have all bought it, it grows slowly, if at all. It tends to have a peak of activity when people first learn about it and/or you, and then it subsides. Then, you and it get lost in the 44,736 other books that all come out at the same time or right around the same time (at least two of which will probably have exactly the same title yours does)...and you end up in those rankings that have multiple commas in them. 

So writing bookS...PLURAL...and writing them quickly...has always been a better idea than writing one slow book per year and hoping people will wait for it. 

Note: this is not to say that you CAN'T succeed with only one book, once in a while. It's just harder.

Sometimes, people will wait for you, of course. Best-selling authors can get away with one book a year. But these are people whose books already have sales figures (not rankings) with multiple commas in them. If you are them, you're not reading this. If you are not them, then you and I are in the same boat, and this is something you no doubt have told yourself already.

But notice what I do NOT say about selling books. 

I do NOT say to get on every social media board out there.
I do NOT say to make sure you're tweeting X times per day.
I do NOT say to make the Neverending Blog Tour.
I do NOT say to have a splashy book party online.
I do NOT say to give unlimited books away for free to get new "fans."
I do NOT say to sign up for pricey publicity services that send announcements of your book to 35,000 book clubs.

I personally don't believe in any of these things anymore.

I am not saying those things can't HELP. Lightning in a bottle, after all, does happen.

But for those of us whose only meaningful resource is our own creativity... 

Those of us who are not blessed with 28-hour days, 28-figure bank balances, or 28 servants to take care of Real Life while we do the Publicity Darling bit... 

For us, it has to be, in the end, what it should be about anyway. Which is the BOOKS. 

Not frantically jumping on the next publicity bandwagon.
Not even if our publisher demands that we do it. Unless that demand comes with one of those 28-figure advances--and we all know it doesn't--it's just another guess in the big pool of "guesses" about "what's gonna work to get your name out there."

The problem is...EVERYBODY's name is out there. And no one human being will have either the time or the energy to see us all. EVER.

So don't fall victim to the panic. You won't miss anything. There's nothing TO miss, in the end, unless you've got Another Book to Sell. 


In the end, we are usually our own best career managers. 
Yes, even those of you who think you're "hopeless with business."
You know what you can write, how much you can write, and how much of yourself you can afford to give away before you start to suffer.

Notice I didn't say before your WRITING starts to suffer....because YOU'll suffer way before IT does. Eventually, it will catch up. But by that time, not only won't it be worth much; it won't even be fun anymore.

So...write the books. 

If you can do nothing else--or especially if you CAN do other things--WRITE THE BOOKS FIRST anyway. You will never have a career without them.

NOTHING else... 
...not all the Ads, Pins, Tweets, Updates, Statuses, Bleeps, or Links... 
...can take the place of the books.

Make those your mission, and let the rest happen as it will.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

OK, I Don't Really Mean to Write a "Gripe of the Day"...

...even if that's how this is going to sound.  Or, even if that's how some of my blog posts have come across (LOL)....
Just something that needs to be said.
Note to potential clients:

I'm a fiction writer, and I'm a book editor. Don't confuse that with "I will write your novel for you."

Even if you make a somewhat convincing case...

Even if you've got an airtight outline...
Even if I kind of like your idea...
You can't afford me. smile emoticon

Nor will you EVER be able to.

Because...and I'm going to say this slowly, and in small words... 
If it's MY story, it goes out under MY name.
No exceptions.

We clear now?


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

When We Last Left Our Heroine...

...she was recovering from what seemed to be a sudden attack of a flu. (It's telling that when I'm trying to type this, I'm coming up with "glu" and "clu" and the like. Did I mention I'm an obscenely fast typist who spends half her time backspacing and correcting? LOL!)

Subsequently, I spent most of last week Taking It Easy. This is not a normal activity for me, and it especially hasn't been a normal form of activity since last summer, when I began writing for Stylish Eve. In fact, I hold that activity largely responsible for the fact that my body at last decided it was THROUGH. As in finished. As in enough is enough.

Truth to tell, I've been overworking it for some time. And that, boys and girls, is why we get sick days: they're God's way of telling us we've been neglecting ourselves.

I've developed the habit of pushing to get work done, sometimes literally pushing through exhaustion to finish a post or two or three that are the last ones of a batch...and then, because I'm overtired, not being able to get decent sleep when I finally do go to bed.

I've also been disgusted over the past year by the fact that I've put on weight. Yes, living in the country...with a new, healthier outdoor lifestyle...and what have I done? Put on weight. I was already too heavy, and now I'm struggling to get back in the clothes that DO fit. Or did fit much better before, that's for sure. To achieve that end, I bought one of those weight-loss herbal supplements. Has everything touted to help the cause...

...suffice to say that there have been several health concerns I've had of late, frustrating little stuff that just gets in the way rather than being truly troublesome--at least if you tell yourself so. I suspect that, too, was deceptive. The telling myself so, not the health concerns.

So here I am, 1o pounds fatter than when I moved here, working myself to a frazzle, losing my hair (oh, did I forget to mention that?), and still strugging to pay the bills. Matter of fact, with most of the bills, it's merely a struggle to juggle which gets paid what part of from one month to the next. What we owe is frightening right now, considering what we have coming in. And it's not getting any better, because...

...periodically my main clients have the habit of vanishing. For days, or more, at a time. This means no communication, no assignments, and, of course, no money--with no reasons given and no advance warning.

Disgusted? Yep. I'm there. So I guess since I'm sick and tired, my body realized it, too, was sick and tired...and flattened me.

How to solve this?

I'm working on it. But one thing that has to go is the notion that I can work past exhaustion for months on end. I know that. I always knew that...I just wanted to ignore it.

So this is why you get a sick day.
What you do about it is what's important.
What I did about it was spend an entire week doing approximately half to less than a third of what I'd normally do around the house and around the office. For the first two days, I did a lot of bed rest. When I finally did get up, I made myself go half-speed. (Actually, that wasn't hard. I still only FELT half-speed.)

And I think I've discovered what normal people feel like again now. You know...people who leave work at work and sign OUT when they're tired.

The only dilemma then becomes how to make the income rise so I can not WORRY and/or constantly have to keep barricading the door against the wolf outside.

More to come...

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Sick Days...and Why We Get Them

Let me just say that getting an unexpected flu attack at this point in time was inconvenient, to say the least...however, better early in the week than late. And better now, when I'd already bowed out of singing Beethoven's Ninth (please God) than if I were committed to doing the thing.

There is also a LOT to be said for extended bed rest. 

More when I'm stronger...