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)?

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..."* 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 on them until they are.

If you don't trust that I can tell enough from the first two 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, 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, 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 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!


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,