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 atmosphere...an 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...


Monday, March 17, 2014

One More Time!

Fitting this should happen during Lent, the season where we prepare for resurrection....

FROM THE ASHES is coming out again--in its original incarnation as a traditional romance. I've been meaning to redo this book for awhile, and only didn't because the market for previously published romance out there is almost nil. But...I found a house that welcomes reprints, revised the book completely, and sent it in. They are thrilled with it and can't wait to publish it. And, yes, it's a small press. So there are all the small-press accoutrements thereunto. 


What's nice about this is I'm going to put myself out there as a traditional romance author, not as an inspy author. I can now neatly divide my publishing efforts between romantic suspense and traditional "sweet," and chances are I'll have at least one house ready to take either one. Especially if this book sells even modestly well, which I hope it will. This is my chance, I believe, to make that foray at last into selling "those little romances," which is why I got INTO this publishing game in the first place.

(Not, it must be said, to be an inspirational author. :-P)

More to come. Just got the e-mail this morning, with an attached contract. Time to sign and get cracking on FROM THE ASHES, the best little traditional romance that hopefully more people will hear of this time!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

God, Working in Mysterious Ways...Conclusion

Well, my brief sojourn into the possibilities of Radio Stardom in Fort Wayne is over. The polite rejection letter came today. 

(Do I dare say I was a little relieved that it did?)

I do like the fact that they called my background and such "impressive." Considering their needs and what they were going to put the candidate through...I'm not sure my stuff was going to stack up all that well.

I DO know my temperament would not have stacked up with a potential six-month delay before anything would actually HAPPEN with this gig, as in air time.

So I'm very thankful to God for, in this case, saving me from myself. I would have been doing myself and Catholic media a disservice to get back into the field again when I'm so grateful, in essence, to be OUT of it. Only the lure of radio made the potential tradeoff worthwhile; in the end, they'll get the person they need, and I'll have dodged a bullet.

Time to move on with different plans I would like to have for the next 20 years or so.

More to come!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

God, Working in Mysterious Ways, Part II

OK...we've had the interview. Two hours late, but at least we had it. That's a story in itself.

But, I digress. :-)

So this is the first installment, I take it, of what could be several. I am frankly fine with whatever decision Redeemer Radio decides to make here--the position is focused on creating a morning show slot and all the components that would entail, in collaboration with the board, the executive director, etc., etc., ad infinitum. And I do mean "ad infinitum": they're not anticipating this actually going live for MONTHS.

Yep. Not only not immediately, but not for several months into the future. Until then, the candidate would be hauling into Fort Wayne every day during normal business hours, working on this plan. What is going to take them months to put together, I really don't know. Thirty days, I'd understand. Six months (which was the figure proposed to me)? Not so much. It's a morning show on a diocesan radio station...it's not a nuclear summit. :-)

We have a saying here at Glenfarg: "Things move slowly in Indiana." Apparently this is going to move VERY slowly. The up side? By the time I finally got on the air, EVERY duck would be in a row. The down side? By the time they're ready to run with this, every viable candidate may have already lost interest.

'tis a puzzlement, to be sure. 

I'm just glad I'm a writer right now, if you know what I mean. :-)

More to come...

Monday, February 03, 2014

God, Working in Mysterious Ways Again

Under the category of "Be careful what you wish for..."

We were driving home from church yesterday, with my hub doing the usual interpretive reading of the Sunday bulletin (trust me on this, it's not to be missed), when he read off a job listing for our local Catholic radio station: morning show host. I shot my hand up in the air and said, "Me, me." Facetiously. 

To which he said, "This job's got your name all over it."

To which I said, "Yeah, right."

By the time we got home, I decided I'd look on the job ad and see what it entailed. I mean, clearly, it means being on the radio in the morning; duh. That part's a no-brainer. But I was expecting a job ad that detailed how many years of broadcast experience one had to have, asked for an audition recording, or the like.

Buuuuut...that wasn't what I found.

Instead, I found an innocuous-enough-looking job ad with criteria that I met: four-year degree. Broadcast experience. (OK, two years at a college radio station, forty years ago...but it counts.) Practicing Catholic (check) in good standing in the Church (check) with a demonstrable history of service to the Church (also check). Zeal for the Faith (check), ability to do research (check), able to be extemporaneous (check), sense of humor (check), and a team player (well...we won't go there too far). The only things I don't really have are any extensive background in theology, and any recent broadcast experience.

Added to that the fact that I have NO IDEA what I'd do on the air from 6-8 AM.

However, I know what I'd LIKE to do on the air from 6-8 AM if I had airwaves to do it on. I'd like to set up a combination of things to get people's days off on the right feet--or end their nights on said right feet, if they're just coming off graveyard shift.  In other words, what I'd like to do is get people smiling. We've got enough prayer, current events, discussion of theological books, repeats of syndicated programming, etc., on Catholic radio in this town. IMHO, what we don't need first thing in the morning is another classroom. What we need is something that's going to snag the audience that would normally listen to the Christian radio stations: music, pertinent morning-drive data (weather and traffic), and uplifting personalities.

I can be an uplifting personality. Given enough incentive, coffee, and cash. Also, given a microphone, I will quite happily cheer people up if I can. Just ask people about how I read Scripture at church.

Thinking all that, for a lark, I sent in a cover letter and a resume. I readily admitted my last broadcast experience was 40 years ago. I readily admitted to being a freelance writer, not a broadcaster by trade. But I also freely admitted to being a person who, given a forum, is not at a loss for things to say...as all you can attest. I sent it off electronically, then pretty much forgot about it. By this morning, I was convinced that not only didn't I really like the idea of getting up at 3 AM to drive into Fort Wayne five days a week, but that the Fort Wayne end of things would take one look at my letter and resume and say, "Nice try, lady."

Only they didn't. 
They called.
They're going to give me a phone interview on Thursday morning.

What in the world might I be getting myself into???

More to come,

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Yesterday, I wrapped up a small assignment from a freelance client, and I was done.
I had NO more work waiting for me to do.

This is not the usual state of affairs.
Usually, I always have something waiting in the wings--something from Stylish Eve, something of a sample to give someone, something that is hanging over my head waiting to be looked at, edited, or answered.

Right now, I got nothin'. 
That must mean I need to get busy continuing to type FROM THE ASHES into a text file, so I can work on polishing it up to re-submit it out there. 
And it must mean that it's time to look at some of my own work before the next wave of posts comes in, the next client asks me for something out of the blue, or some other demand comes into the picture.


Talk amongst yourselves for a while. I'll be back.


Monday, January 20, 2014


In the interests of strict editorial correctness, I must amend something here.
In a post I wrote some time ago about great commercials, I admitted I loved the DirecTV ads "even though I wouldn't in this lifetime have a satellite dish." Or words to that effect.
Well....that isn't exactly true anymore. Because the only carrier we could GET for our TV service in this location, with the channels we wanted, was...DirecTV.


But, if you're expecting me to say, "It was the best we could do, I'm putting up with it"...think again. Because, much to my chagrin...I LOVE my DirecTV.

Yeah, it goes out in storms occasionally.
But other than that?

It gives us the best package of channels we can get, the ones we truly want, without being prohibitively expensive, and it's truly easy to use.

Yeah, I'm surprised, too. But it's good to be able to still be surprised. 

So much for hidebound opinions. :-)


I Have a BAAAAAD Attitude. Just Sayin'.

How do I know this?

Because certain things in this life, I have NO patience with or for anymore.
It can't be because I'm getting old, either, because I had NO patience with those things from the time I was much younger. I'm just more vocal about expressing that impatience now. 

One of these things?

Job ads on freelance boards that stretch into 4 or 5 separate sections. Not only do you write a cover letter, but you then answer things like "What part of this job appeals to you the most?" (Note: you haven't done the job yet, so answering that truthfully is next to impossible.) Or, one of my favorites, "Would you be willing to spend time in further education and learning to advance in this job?" (Short answer: No. Why? Do I not appear to be smart enough to you through the lens of your computer?)

Now, please understand: If someone's interviewing me for a $100K job doing complex analysis, statistics, or supervising a global work force over multiple time zones, languages, and agendas, then, yes...I anticipate there'll be a bit of learning I'll be doing over time. But these jobs asking for five-part analysis are not $100K positions (trust me on this). Most of them are little more than "Can you write my book for me?" Which, as we know, is Not A Highly Paid Way To Make A Living In The First Place. :-) To expect that person to invest heavily in some idea of "extended education" (which is usually not considered paid time, either)? Ummmm...no.

Yeah. I know. Grumpy Cat's got nothin' on me.

You get that way when you know what you're doing but are constantly confronted with people who want you to prove it through innocuous question-and-answer sessions that sound like the first day of first grade. Besides the hundreds of hours on already-completed jobs, the dozens of 5-star testimonials from happy clients, and the sheer intelligence of your proposal up-front...they want more. 

Please stop doing this, folks. The pro you want working for you doesn't have time for this nonsense, which means the people who'll bother with it...are the people who are left.

I doubt that's what you REALLY want. 

But then, again, I could be wrong. I do have a baaaad attitude, after all. :-)


Sunday, January 19, 2014

"What We Have Heayah..."*

...it never ceases to amaze me. And this crosses ALL status lines, all rank and file, all levels of proficiency, and all age groups.

Why is it when I very clearly state "the first two pages" of something, people will send me something that's 20 pages long and say, "Oh, just pick the two pages you think will show your editing style the best"?

Is there something alien and undecipherable about the phrase the first two pages?

Is is that you don't trust your own work to be good from the get-go...or you don't trust ME to be able to tell from those first two pages how things are going to go?

If you don't trust that the first two pages of your work are that good...work on them until they are.

If you don't trust that I can tell enough from the first two pages...read some more of this blog. I suspect it will give you all the confidence you need that I know what I'm about.

But it is a never-ending frustration to someone to ask for something so simple and have it turn into anything but what they asked for. If this was one of those "tests" in which you don't get any farther than the first instruction if you fail that part, guess what? You'll have failed already.  And no, I'm not being needlessly pedantic. If an editor tells you she wants 2 pages, and you give her 20, what do you think she's going to do with that work?

If you're really trying to give me reasons to say "No," one has to wonder why you're approaching me in the first place. Do you honestly think I won't notice?

There's a reason I'm called "the pickiest of the picky," you know. :-)
'nuff said.

*(if you're of a certain generation, you'll be able to complete the legendary phrase above. If not, put a question in the comments, and I'll be glad to elaborate. )

Saturday, January 18, 2014

No Longer A Spring Chicken...If That Matters

...which leads, of course, to the question, "Where in the world did that phrase come from?"

Well, according to a bulletin board on phrases.org/uk, here's the scoop:

"We find the expression 'now past a chicken,' meaning 'no longer young,' recorded as early as 1711 by Steele in 'The Spectator': 'You ought to consider you are now past a chicken; this Humour, which was well enough in a Girl, is insufferable in one of your Motherly Character.' 'No spring chicken,' an exaggeration of the phrase, is first recorded in America in 1906." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

So those of us who are of a "motherly character," I guess, aren't technically supposed to be as silly as those who've just come out of the shell. So to speak.

Yeah, like THAT's gonna happen. 

May all your chickens be in a row today! (And yes, I know, that's mixing metaphors...and poultry. Which is a poultry thing to do, especially for an incorrigible punster.)

A little fun for a Saturday morning...

Image: free digital photos.net, suwatpo.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Nickels, Nickels, Nickels...

OK, here it is. 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. 
------------------------------------------------->$0.0125 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." 
------------------------------------------------->$0.025 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.
------------------------------------------------->$0.0375 per word

ALTERNATIVELY, we can work on books on an hourly fee basis. As of January 1, my rate is $80 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 $625 for proofreading,
$1250 for a light edit, 
or $1875 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 FIRST...you 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? jbutler824@aol.com. Write me anytime!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Potpourri of Persnicketiness

OK, I had the unforeseen--well, okay, it was sort of foreseen--meeting with my manager online, and was told I needed to use "communication skilles" for some of my work. Yep. I know I shouldn't make fun of that phrase...the guy is truly trying to learn written English. But when I saw that in the conversation, I pretty much saw red. And things didn't get much better from there.

The good news is, though, that Stylish Eve decided they're going to stay in operation through January, even though the owners/managers are all in exams (!) this month and wanted to take time off. Apparently, it hadn't dawned on them yet that people actually depended on the regular income we were all making from the site...

...and as I write this, the half of the gutter that's LEFT on our house is rattling in the wind. Half of it has already come down. This from a landlord who absolutely, positively FORBIDS tenants to touch a thing without prior authorization. So the house is falling down around us, it's not our fault, and the landlord is (I kid you not) in St. Croix until Sunday. His sons, who are supposed to help out in his absence, have been nowhere to be seen.

Now, I understand being slammed with work. Trust me. I do. However, I don't neglect MY home when I'm doing a lot of writing, nor do I neglect my paying clients when I need to stop and do "house stuff." So why is it OK to have a house falling down around tenants?

Yeah. I'm in a *mood* today. :-P

More later,

Monday, January 13, 2014

Okay, So "Shortly" Meant...

...well, okay, it was a little longer than "shortly" between posts here. 

There are good reasons, of course. There are always good reasons.

One of them is the full-time-plus commitment I've had to Stylish Eve, a weblog for "Eve" of all ages to inspire, encourage, and give spiffy ideas for fashions, beauty, decor, and travel...among other things. I agreed to come onboard there in July, at which point I was put to the mettle writing 40 posts a week. Now, this may not sound like much, but it's 250-300 words per post, written around a collection of photographs from various sites. Architecture, home design, resorts (some of which are sinfully expensive), wedding pictures...and for most of which the "research" consists of my looking up on various sites to see who's written anything about the project at hand, and discovering no one has.

Which means it's creation of 10,000+ original words per week, not counting the brief "blurbs" I write at the end of each entry.  The research alone for 40 posts takes a full day, and we're talking 8 hours or more at that point. Then we get to the writing, which was targeted at 8 per day. It doesn't take a math genius to figure out that sometimes, I'd be writing these things at odd hours of the night just trying to catch up with the 8 per day I wanted to do to keep a 5-day-a-week pace.

Exhausted? Yep. Because I also do 98 percent or so of household management things. Cooking, shopping, cleaning, finances.  I bake for a meals-outreach service and both sing and lector at church. (What does the husband do? He's supposed to be in charge of car stuff. Sometimes that works...sometimes it doesn't.)  After a while, it became painfully obvious that I simply can't work nonstop 12-18 hours a day and expect to have anything left over for family, friends, and fun.

Something has to give, and something may be giving shortly. Stylish Eve's managers have called a hiatus on all work for January; no posts, and therefore, no income. And one of them is supposed to be meeting with me later on Skype. I'm not getting a good feeling about this.

But, like all the other strange things that have happened to me jobwise in January...we'll soon find out what's to come of this opportunity, if it's going to change, if it's going to increase or decrease, or if it's going to go away entirely.

In the meantime, I'm making an honest effort to change the way I do things in my writing work and earning life. Stay tuned. This could get interesting.

More to come,