Do You Remember?


Earlier this year, I accepted a new client who had never been edited before. From the start, there were problems. She couldn’t follow the payment plan, which was bi-weekly. I gave her multiple opportunities to “get it right” before she did, but I didn’t start working until she paid in full. Call me crazy, but I wasn’t about to lose money over a person who wasn’t serious and who thought everything was funny. “Oops, I’ll have to pay you in two weeks. I put the money on the wrong prepaid card. Sorry.” I’d get these messages for weeks before I said “You have to pay by this date or I’m not taking the job.”

Her “manuscript”, and I use the term so loosely, rope should be involved, was a fucking MESS. I don’t exaggerate about the written word, ever. Mess, disaster, and “manuscript from hell” are words I’d use, and did, to describe the torment of having to work for this demanding, rude, insensitive, know-it-all who’d never been edited and is going to tell me, after 20 years of experience, how long a “dirty manuscript” on a first edit should take. I know people who have taken five years to write a book they were proud of.  When it was edited a year after completion, so as to be thorough, at least they knew it wasn’t crap.

I’ve given her weekly updates, sometimes bi-weekly. I’ve done everything to be highly communicative, receiving responses like “Okie”, because apparently that’s how she spells “Okay”. Did you just empathize with me? Communicating with this person was like talking to a crash test dummy.

When I contacted her this morning to let her know that I’m moving and would complete her manuscript once I was settled in to my new place of residence, she claimed she’d given me two different deadlines that never existed. I know they didn’t exist because I never committed to a deadline, and she never specified one in the contract, or in conversation. It was 100% never discussed. I have a very sharp memory and yes, she bitched once, but I flat-out explained how much work was involved in her manuscript, and how time-consuming it was as it is not my full-time job.

Today she decided she’d prefer to part ways and “go a different road”. I returned the “dirty manuscript” with all of my notes and for the first time in 20 years, allowed myself to say “Good riddance.” I was the epitome of polite and respectful, but her demands during one of the worst years of my life and her deciding to “part ways” is a blessing. If I told you how much I got paid for this edit, you’d cry. Never again will I allow myself to be demeaned or disrespected by someone who thinks they’re the next Stephen King.

I had a moment where I felt like a failure. I have NEVER, not once, returned incomplete work to someone, but when a person is completely unwilling to work with you, to read their work before submitting it, etc., then I don’t feel it’s my responsibility, once they get vile, to do more than say “Here you go. Good luck.” Clearly she has NO idea how the industry works, what is and is not marketable, and that without a team behind me, yes, editing takes time. She said she wrote this manuscript in a few months and that “everyone who read it loved it”. It was barely a first draft, leave alone a fourth re-write. I can tell when someone is half-assing something. Even if they’re a New York Times Bestselling Author, I can tell when something isn’t properly thought out before submission.

So from here on in, I am only accepting proofreading, beta reads, and critiques. My writing focus now returns to my novels, which are quality. My creative focus will move to my career change because while I will always be a writer, I need more to keep me going. I need something daily that makes me feel like I have purpose.

A word of advice: Editors aren’t your punching bag and they don’t deserve to be shit on. If your editor is having a bad year, it’s okay to suggest moving on so that they can focus on their own life during a crisis, but it’s not okay to be a bitch to them. Treat people the way you’d want to be treated if the roles were reversed. Be respectful. Even more, if you’re barely paying them, you have no right to bitch about time unless you split everything up into chapters and allow them to work and submit chapters back to you as they complete them, because that’s when things can work in a much smoother fashion.

I highly recommend splitting your files up into chunks, perhaps a few chapters at a time, that way you’re communicating properly with the person who will be tending to your “baby”. Also, ask them to do a read-through before they edit, that way they can give you a fair price and an estimated time of delivery. Don’t freak out if the book that took you years to write takes nine months, or longer, to edit. I do a proofread, edit, fact-check, and then I double-check the work, so yes, it’s time-consuming.

The person you’re hiring is a flake only if you never see any results and never hear from them again, but a person who communicates with you regularly is being honest.

If my editor was having a bad year, I would never show them such disrespect. Shit happens, and it’s not the other person’s fault. If you want to hire a trained monkey who will kiss your ass, perhaps you should check out your local zoo.

I’ve never been so happy to delete someone’s work in my entire life. That probably sounds horrible, but at the end of the day, I shouldn’t want to remove my head off my shoulders because I was doing my job. No one should feel that way.

When someone tells me their story is SO good that it will be picked up traditionally and I’m editing it shaking my head “No, not in this lifetime.”, that means it will be 99 cents on Amazon Kindle. Granted, I’ve read some fantastic stuff for $5 or less on Kindle, but I’ve also been mortified by a lot of it.

Anyone who reads this sees my work regularly. They know I don’t eat bullshit politely with a knife and fork, and when you see my writing style, you can see that I edit it thoroughly. I’m human. I have the occasional typo, I’m quick-witted, educated, and willing to admit my faults.

Today, I say “C’est la vie.” Write what you want to write, but disrespecting an experienced, talented editor is unacceptable to me. One migraine less to think about. I’m moving on.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.



Pain In The Neck

Good morning. Buenos dias. Buongiorno. Guten Morgen.

I’ve been up since 4:50 (I know this because I checked, hoping it was later.) and the only thing I can say is “UGH”! I’m in so much pain, it’s wrong. I slept in a delusional fit early last night, and again for a few hours early this morning. I am trying not to let the pain get to me, otherwise it will result in yet another migraine from the stress it is placing on my body. I do NOT need that. I do, however, need to be adopted. Any takers?

I suspect I am in so much neck pain partly due to my marathon laundry session yesterday. Did it all need to be done immediately? No, but I was trying to make the most out of a Sunday after suffering on Saturday through migraine hell. My efforts resulted in two phone calls: One to my mattress manufacturer, the second to the store where I bought said mattress.

Upon removing the mattress protector to throw it in the wash, a protector which has remained on the mattress at all times (I have more than one, obviously) since I purchased it, I discovered a hole in the top of the actual mattress. It was not there two weeks ago, or even a month ago. My immediate reaction was “What the fuck is THAT?!” At first I thought it was merely a surface tear, which wouldn’t have been an epic deal, but no, it’s a one inch by one inch hole. If you stick your thumb into it, you will hit a spring pretty quickly. The second you do and realize what a piece of crap a nearly $2000 mattress is on the inside, you feel a plethora of things. Mostly I was glad I got it on sale with my bedroom furniture because in that initial moment, I wanted to throw it at someone.

The mattress manufacturer said I should try to work with the store first since I didn’t buy it directly from them, but that if they don’t make it right I should call their warranty department and see what they are able to do for me. Yeah, I bet. 😦

I will say this: The store called me back pretty quickly. On a Sunday. Damn near unheard of. After a nice conversation with one of their “furniture specialists”, I took some photos for him and e-mailed them off yesterday afternoon. I am sure they will want to send someone out to personally inspect it before deciding if they’re going to honor the “lifetime warranty” and replace it. If it weren’t for the spring and the fact that it is a hole that will only get worse with time, I’d let it slide. The fact that they guaranteed the mattress when I bought it means they should stand behind what they sell. I hope they make good on their promise because if they don’t, you can expect to hear the store name and the names of all of the employees assisting me blasted from here to kingdom come. Chica takes notes! If the manufacturer screws with me, they’ll definitely be hearing from me via social media and every other means of communication.

I was told by two employees that it sounds like the mattress might be a “production lemon”, but that they do need to determine if the damage is their responsibility or not. I may be a major badass, but I assure you: I have never harmed a mattress in my life. Besides, you’d have to take the protector off to do that kind of damage and the protector is 100% in tact. You do the math. I loved being asked if I “had a dog”, because we all know a dog that puts such a precise, spring sized hole in a mattress, right? OY!


I was able to do some editing yesterday and talk with my client, albeit briefly. I worked on 80 pages and I am still coming across so many issues. I don’t want to prolong the process, but I don’t want to submit work back that is going to require another year of additional edits after the revisions and rewrites are done. Since this client has always self-published, she is not used to the editing process, knows nothing about it, and probably doesn’t realize how time-consuming it can be. The more work I do, the more problems I find.

                                    “I’ve got 99 problems and this manuscript is one!”

If you find continuity issues in chapter 22 and they exist through to the end of the manuscript, it requires you to go back to the beginning and correct things from page one all the way back to the current chapter, solely because continuity errors are a bigger issue as you continue to work. You will quickly lose your patience as you find these little gifts. I don’t know how most people write, but I check my work thoroughly and would never submit a first draft to ANYONE to edit. I fixed my first draft within the first few months of writing book one, so yes, I lose my patience with people who don’t read and proof their work before submitting it to me.

When you’ve got dates in a manuscript, make sure you look at the calendar for that year and get your facts straight. If you reference a full moon on a date when there was no full moon, you don’t look like a creative writer, you look like a moron. Perhaps I’m the only person that notices such things (probably not), but you MUST have your facts straight, be it fiction or non-fiction. You can’t play around with certain things. The majority of your readers won’t notice little things, but the percentage that does notice will tell you, and no one wants to be embarrassed by continuity issues, or other things that make me grind my teeth from the stress of having to work on something so distracting as a professional. I’m developing a twitch in my eye from dealing with this.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled insanity. Me? I need a nap. Apparently writing about this made the pain worse. No, I’m not surprised.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Friday, How I’ve Missed You

I don't feel or think all of these things, but I know many people who do.
I don’t feel or think all of these things, but I know many people who do.

I have come to cherish my weekends like a newborn baby. The arrival of Friday makes me feel less guilty about self-care. This week in particular, I need it.

Early yesterday evening, I had a coughing fit come out of nowhere. In the midst of said coughing fit, I felt something in my upper spine pop. The sound resounded through the room. My immediate thought was “This is NOT good.” Already in a pretty harsh Fibro flare, I did NOT want or need to add to the pain I was already in. My brain kept saying “I can’t believe you hurt yourself coughing! Why can’t you have a more interesting way of causing your body excruciating pain?!” 😦 Don’t worry, I shut that fucker up.

Less than an hour or so later, I was in bed. On top of being exhausted, I could already feel that this sudden pop was going to make things worse for me for a few days. As I sit here writing this, the pain has escalated immensely between 6:45 last night and now. Moving my neck too much is completely out of the question. I’m contemplating Icy Hot. I already took over-the-counter pain medication, whatever good that will do, but I’d rather attempt to treat it as opposed to doing nothing at all. I know it’s going to be achy and sore for a few days. I just need to allow myself proper rest so that it doesn’t get worse.

ifanationI had planned on getting some editing done today. I have decided to limit it to a chapter once my neck loosens up and isn’t screaming in agony. Hell, I’ll do two chapters if I feel okay, but no more than that because I don’t want all that sitting and neck movement to aggravate this and make it worse than it already is, and it’s pretty fucking bad. If I feel better tomorrow, I can do another 2-3 chapters and so on. Hopefully that means I will finally rid myself of this nightmare manuscript, for good. It’s a first edit of a fourth draft. I suspect it will need 2-3 additional rounds of editing, but if I am asked to do additional work on it, I absolutely MUST price it better because it’s tormented me from day one and explaining that to my client in a nice way is -cough- difficult because this client isn’t a very good listener.

If you’ve never been edited before and you’re worried about how long it takes, not understanding the editing process and how thorough I am, then think about how long it took you to write it. If you tell me “I wrote this in three months.”, I already know it’s going to be full of issues. This manuscript is full of issues, and it is also one of the reasons that I want to focus on my work, which probably does have some issues in it, but if nothing else, it is predominantly clean and flows beautifully. I know this because I’ve been writing it for five years. I also know it flows beautifully because the last time I read it, I was so caught up in the story, I forgot that I was the writer. Color me impressed. 🙂


I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, but I did sleep. I was unable to take the 9:00 a.m. nap I thought about yesterday morning, mostly because I was in a lot of pain, have a lot on my mind, and couldn’t get comfortable. On the plus side, I did fall asleep pretty quickly last night and I slept soundly for nearly three hours before I heard my phone buzzing. If I don’t leave it on vibrate, any ringtone will make me come right out of my skin or it will make me yell at whomever is calling. After listening to the other person for damn near 30 minutes, I practically growled and hung up. It’s not wise to talk to me after a certain time when I’m A) Still in sleep mode and B) Hungry. It’s like trying to negotiate a ceasefire with a dragon. I’m not exaggerating, I’m aware when I am unpleasant.

Do you have anything special planned this weekend? Do you feel guilty when you have to prioritize your health over the demands of others? Let me know in the comments.

Have a safe, pain-free, pleasant weekend. If it can’t be all three, aim for one positive thing.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Friday Musings


Mondays bring forth a lot of stress and anxiety. Fridays? Not so much. In fact, I feel calm that the week has come to an official end. I’m looking forward to putting up a load of laundry, eating dinner, and eliminating an hour or two off my DVR.

I spent a huge portion of my week battling migraines. I was unsure if the cycle would continue, but I can say that after an exceptionally long day yesterday and going to bed early, I have mostly felt good today. Sore and achy, a little moody at times, but nothing I can’t handle. The downside of going through so much pain is that your body is pre-programmed to take the brunt of what it normally handles each day. It took me almost a full 12 hours to realize I wasn’t in agony. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing what tomorrow brings in terms of the physical side of things. 😦

I’ve struggled with some work-related things this week. I’ve had some personal breakthroughs with ideas for my work, I’ve made some career-related decisions for new creative outlets, but I am still being tormented by that manuscript. It requires so much time, it frustrates the hell out of me, so I’ve decided I will never edit for someone ever again without doing a read-through first. I refuse to price myself into a position that makes me feel used or abused.

I should be charging between $1000-$5000 per job, or more for additional development. I have tried to be incredibly fair to people, I even offer a payment plan, but the end result is that I am being unfair to myself, my time, my vision, and my skills.

When someone says “I’d like to pay you a penny per sentence and there are 10,000 sentences to go over.”, I shake my head. That’s a grave insult. Even worse, I bid on the job and didn’t get it. Yeah, that didn’t help my attitude one bit this week. Anyone that approaches with a disrespectful budget and the claim “It should only take an hour or so.” should Google the cost of minimum wage for an experienced freelance editor. I have exactly one client who I work for on an hourly basis and he thinks my hourly rate is “really reasonable”. Others are fearful of the hourly rate and even more fearful of the quote. I have an answer to that: Don’t write 100,000+ words and expect for it to be edited in a professional manner in a week for “$50 or less”. Be fair, be realistic, and don’t be disrespectful if you truly want to do business with someone.

What else occurred this week? Injury from cat’s back claws. I have absolutely NO idea why she’d think climbing over my scalp was a good idea. I tried to detach her from ripping me apart and she wouldn’t budge, so I have a long tear on the right side of my scalp under my hair down the side of my temple. The facial part isn’t even noticeable because she dug deeper into my scalp, which, thanks to my new hair color, isn’t visible. It hurt for a few days, but should be healed completely in about a week.

Yes, I said “new hair color”. When I get bored, I get dangerous. Last month I cut off a ton of hair. It was way more than I’d anticipated, far shorter than what I walked in asking for. I am still adjusting to having to put product into my hair as opposed to using Argan Oil and being able to work with my natural texture or straighten it. “Short Hair Don’t Care”? Bullshit. Shorter hair requires some finesse in order to look good. I’ve been every natural color a person can be. Blonde, a wide array of varying degrees of red and brunette, but this is my first time truly on “the dark side”. It’s only a few days old, but it is truly blue-black. My stylist refused to do it for me because my skin is on the fairer side of fair. I asked if it was “too dark” or “too Goth” and she said “Too dark.” I think she was trying to be diplomatic. Guess what? It is dark, and it’s a little Goth, but it looks fucking awesome. Ultimately, the only person who has to like it is the person that has to live with it and look at it day in and day out. Every time I look in the mirror I think “Man, this looks AWESOME. It’s so much better than I thought it would be.” Let’s hear it for listening to your inner voice and not the odd judgment of others. Everyone else is going lighter for summer, I’m going darker. Typical. Now all I need are sharper fangs to get my point across. 😉

Quote credit: Angelina Jolie. I agree with her.

Have a great weekend everyone!

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Professional Headaches


I am not known for my patience. If you’re not a child or a “little” (“Hello littles!” That’s how I talk to animals.), my tolerance for you is probably slim to none. God help you if slim leaves town.

People’s expectations are unreasonable, especially when I am given work that requires hours and hours of face time. There are only so many hours in a day. You can only write “rewrite” and “revise” so many times in a day. You can only make so many corrections that are crucial to the development of a story, and point out major errors before you slowly start to lose your mind. And when you do, if you’re like me, you take a few days to breathe. Unless I’m on a tight deadline, I am going to include some self-care in the mix, or I’ll kill the clients and no one wants that…or do they?

You ignore the “Is it done yet?” questions that have about as much impact as on you as “Are we there yet?” You try not to say what you really think and feel. You wait a few days and then you respond as professionally as humanly possible, but how many times do you really need to say “Please, let me work. This is way more than what I signed on for.” to the same person? How many times do you have to repeat yourself about how they should have read their work in advance of sending it to you? Yet, perhaps it’s nerves, impatience, what have you, but it is fucking annoying to constantly be asked the same damn questions. I’m exceedingly mature, so when people far older than I are immature, it’s an immense turn off, be it personally or professionally.

If you give me something and ask me to read it, be prepared for an honest answer when you inevitably ask “Is it good?” I used to ask people if they wanted my opinion or the truth, and to be careful with their choice. I no longer ask because whether it’s one or the other in terms of delivery, it is still the unadulterated truth. Dunkin Donuts and I have not teamed up to sugar coat your day. Mmm, donuts…

Editors still have lives. I work hard, but when I need a break it is usually due to my health or personal responsibilities. I cannot be glued to my laptop 24/7 looking at the same material every single moment. One, it’s not healthy and two, it’s important to get up and move when you work at a computer all day. Sitting is the new cancer, at least according to the medical professionals I know. I don’t know about all of you, but it makes me uncomfortable hearing the two words used together, so it’s not uncommon for me to walk away and do a load of laundry, or cook, watch the birds and bunnies in the backyard for a while, or simply shut the computer down for a few hours and focus on other things. I’m human. Moreover, I’m a human-being who suffers from Fibromyalgia. The days I can sit at all are miraculous. My pain gets worse each day, so I’m not receptive to whining from others.

I can either do something right the first time or not do it at all. If you consistently annoy me, you can pretty much guarantee I will be unavailable for future projects. I’ve already done enough work for 20 paychecks, not one. It’s hard not to be frustrated knowing that.

For future reference, too many people think they’re writers. Puking ideas onto paper does not make you a writer. Cohesive storytelling is a gift. Having honest people in your life who encourage the good and let you know when something is awful is also important.

There are days I wish I was an unprofessional hack. 😦

For those of you that messaged me about cutting off so much of my hair: I am almost certain today that it’s too short and I hate it, but I am trying to give myself time to get used to it. In turn, I am off to play with the Topstyler and see if that makes a difference. If it doesn’t, I am changing the color to blue until it grows back. Right now I am pretty sure I look like my brother with hair. 😦

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


To Cut Or Not To Cut


In editing, I spend a lot of time “cutting out the crap”. Endless amounts of time are spent, weeding through words, cutting what does not mesh well, making everything cohesive in the end. Flow is important when it pertains to writing. In fact, it is crucial. A successful manuscript isn’t always about the first draft, but the finished product.

As an experienced editor, I know when to cut something in my own work. If that means deleting an entire chapter, five words, or only keeping key elements of the chapter and re-writing, then I do that. That which is best for the overall body of work is what I am going to do, even if it’s slightly upsetting/heartbreaking in the moment. I also keep a few files for paragraphs and/or chapters/characters that are well-written, but might work differently with something else or fit better in another spot. Sometimes, you don’t have to cut something entirely, and other times, you do. It’s trial and error.

I feel content with the amount of work I’ve done over the last few weeks. I still have the killer manuscript. My goal is to focus on the manuscript as much as humanly possible until it is completed. Should additional smaller jobs pop up, I will work on them because they’re immediate and don’t require as much face time as the manuscript needs, but ultimately I want to get this big one done.

Because I’ve worked my ass off, I am excited to say I cut something else entirely today. Rather than trekking into the city (New York people, I will never refer to any other place as “the city”.) to see my usual stylist, I went to my local stylist and chopped off more than half of my hair as a “reward” for working so hard and not having the time to do “me things” as often as I’d like. I wanted to do it last Friday, but she was off and I wasn’t able to make it there on Sunday which is the start of her work week. So, I went this afternoon. My hair was at my waist, it now sits above my shoulders with a mess of really cool layers in it. It’s going to take some time to get used to it, but it feels amazing. I cannot remember the last time my hair was so short that I couldn’t put it in a pony-tail, braid, a clip, or twist it into something cute. I suspect I’ll be using the TopStyler on a regular basis now that it’s so short. Beachy waves will look great with this cut. Bring on the salt spray!

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

As A Direct Result

It’s also an evil life-destroyer.

I’ve decided that today is going to be a work-free day.

I went to bed this morning sick as a dog. I suspect my brief time out yesterday affected me more severely than it ought to. Within a few hours of coming home, I got my fourth migraine of the week. I took a brief nap and I wasn’t entirely okay afterward, but now? UGH!

Sadly, with migraines, you often question whether you did something wrong, ate the wrong thing, etc. All I did was go out in tremendous heat for an hour and a half and come home. It wasn’t a lot of physical exertion, but my body says otherwise. I had a mild headache upon returning, but it wasn’t until I actually felt pain in my head that I took something for it. By 7:30, as my neighbors attempted to power wash something right near my bedroom window, I contemplated outright murder. My ears simply cannot bear the noise, and what are they up to at this precise moment? Yard work. At 9:23 a.m. On a Saturday. When it’s already 85 degrees and a heat advisory has been issued for the entire area, AGAIN. Schools actually closed early yesterday, if they opened at all, because it was over 100 degrees with the humidity and people were experiencing breathing problems. But hey, dumb & dumbest need to make noise on a yard that requires no work at all this week. This is where I would like to point out that I refrained from putting #TheyNeedToBeShot. I’m not a violent person…just don’t make noise when I’m sick or on any day ending in a y.

As a direct result of this migraine/heat/stomach agony, I’m trying to decompress this morning. I’d rather be asleep, but I desperately need to hit the grocery store. Not a fun task, I do not look forward to this, but I am going to try going once it cools down. There’s no point in making myself any sicker by attempting to do it early on in the day. Everyone and their grandmother will be there to capitalize on the digital coupon extravaganza, which has already turned into an epic fail because 9/4’s of the coupons don’t come off at the end of each order, which means customer service is inundated with questions as to why they didn’t work and precisely “Where are my savings? Are you going to give me my money back?” Actually, the store is set up to make sure you actually loaded the coupons on to your savings card in the first place. If you didn’t use the physical coupons that were also provided for the week, chances are you didn’t get the savings on those four items. I clipped all of my mine last night and will print up a few others later on. I’ve saved nearly $1000 this year alone in coupons at one store. That is a small accomplishment, but it feels good every single time I look at my receipt.

I’ve completed all of my work this week (though I am seemingly still loosely on the consulting job), except for the manuscript, which I will devote more daily time to next week in my attempt to complete it. I’m not looking forward to that, I’m simply tired of seeing it and knowing that it’s not complete. I do NOT relish the line of questioning that will come with the delivery, but since I stated in the contract how much time I will spend on answering questions before charging again for my time, I hope that will make the client aware that I mean business. It’s in black and white, how hard is it to follow guidelines?

Before I forget, I want to thank Writerstream for featuring my work this week, and I’d also like to give a huge shout out to the dozen or so new Twitter followers in the last 12 hours alone. (Special thanks to Lillian for encouraging me to join Twitter. Hugs sweet pea!) I never knew I’d grow to love it so much. To the friend that reads my Tweets and isn’t afraid to joke with me and laugh, I appreciate it. (You know who you are, doll!)

If you need me, I’ll be here for the next few hours. Drinking coconut water. Praying that it helps. If it doesn’t, I’m seriously considering an ER visit because this level of pain is out of control.

Have a great weekend everyone! And please, stay out of the heat and wear sunscreen.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Weird Worthless Weekends Lost To Pain


Friday morning I stated that I’d rest this weekend and get things done inside my home, as much as humanly possible. I mentally calculated exactly how much laundry needed to be done, and then factored a few others things into the mix. What I did not factor in was a terrible Fibro flare and bouts of sleeplessness that drove me up a wall. Why couldn’t that have happened last week? Because I was working like a dog in between migraines and the day and a half I spent unable to move, so apparently my body waited and the second I had time to breathe, I got slammed. I’m livid that it is now Monday and that my “weekend” was so bizarre in it’s lack of time.

I know I am being unfair to myself. I’m not a machine and I do have to factor pain into my daily life. There was a lot I wanted to get done from Friday until now. As I angrily folded laundry a little while ago, the only load I did this weekend that isn’t even my stuff, I realized just what a wasted weekend this was.

Who’s looking forward to another hot, miserable work-filled week? Not I. Plus, I’ve got about four loads of laundry that need to get done. In all fairness, one could be up right now, but I will not move a happily sleeping kitten off of my bed in order to yank the linens so she can think it’s some kind of evil game and destroy another set of sheets. I cannot get a soul to hold her so I can trim her nails. Apparently everyone is afraid of the world’s sweetest, sassiest kitten. I don’t want to traumatize her by pinning her down with my body to get two nails, if I’m lucky, before she hisses, cries, or attempts to bite me. Believe me, I understand her frustration and I don’t take her reactions to heart, though the crying kills me. She’s not a mean biter and she’s not mean, period, she simply doesn’t understand why her nails need to be cut. As sweet and loving as she is, a lot of basic kindness is scary to her. I have to keep trying as patiently as I can so that she doesn’t have these fears later on in life. This is residual shelter trauma; it has nothing to do with her life with me. Knowing that, I can utilize far more patience than if it were a person. Animals and babies are one of my speeds. People need to handle their own shit.

I am looking forward to work this week in a “I really like this particular client” sort of way. I spent about an hour on the phone with a client one afternoon to be certain of what he needed from me. We had a lovely conversation and he was incredibly pleased with the work I turned in. During our conversation he said he wanted to keep my information close at hand in order to hire me again for other editing/writing jobs. That is the only time I will write for someone else, when they know what they want, but can’t quite put the words together cohesively. Most times, that’s less than 500 words and it takes no time at all, but some people cannot put their internalized thoughts onto paper, so an idea is scattered and hiring someone to polish the idea is a good way to find the right person for the job you’re looking to hire for. Hiring field specific people is a really great concept.

My point, however, is that he contacted me yesterday for another job. I wasn’t 1000% sure I’d hear from him again, but I’m glad that I did. It’s nice dealing with people who get it and have respect for your time, knowledge, and the work you do. Most people just made rude demands. I had someone point out a tiny error I made, which happens. I’m not perfect, it was late, and all she had to do was delete one word. I asked if she wanted me to redo the entire file, but instead she took up over an hour of my time asking me to proof the work that SHE had just re-edited. (Did your jaw just hit the floor? I was astounded by the stupidity because it resulted in a two hour phone conversation the following afternoon to make sure I’d get paid for the time.) Did I mention that this was a corporate job and her English is swimming somewhere between broken and non-existent? I suspect she was using Google translate because revising her thoughts was like playing with a puzzle, and the message “Is it done yet?” grated on my nerves because I informed her precisely how long it would take and that I’d get it back to her by late Thursday evening EDT. It is all too easy not to want to do specific jobs after a while based on the treatment of clients that do not understand that not everything can be done in 60 seconds. It’s incredibly unrealistic to expect that, but it is what it is and I have the right to pick and choose the jobs I take, for that reason alone. I am excited to see what this new opportunity brings. I wish every opportunity was a prosperous one. Alas, many are not, so I do my job and move on. That’s all I can do, my best.

And now, despite all this back pain, I am off to tackle at least two loads of laundry since kitten has moved along. I suspect she will be back soon to thoroughly inspect all the clean linens I’ve put down since stripping my bed and quickly dashing downstairs to the laundry room (Cat has already given me a mixture of approval, disdain, and attitude.). Now if I could just find the perfect pillow…

The truth is, the evil never truly rest. 😛

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

This is crucial.
This is crucial.

How To Be A Client An Editor Wants To Work With

Author’s Note: These are all true experiences. I will never name names, but I’m not going to filter my honesty either. If something I say here offends you, then you probably don’t want to be a writer. 


Not every client I work with is a breeze, but a small percentage are truly fabulous (One I had this week was wonderful.). There has been a tiny percentage over the last 20 years that have enraged me with their constant inquiries, rude comments, whining, tantrums, or those who simply do not understand the process.

It’s 2015, so I think it’s important for writers, especially new writers seeking publication by any means, to understand that editors are human beings. We have families, we have things that go wrong in our lives, and no matter how much we may love what we do, we’re just like everyone else. We have bills to pay, we have responsibilities, children to raise, meals to prepare, animals to care for, homes to clean, clothes that have to be washed, etc. Why would you treat your editor as a lower life form and expect them to respond well to you? I wouldn’t treat a stranger the way some people treat their editors, so here are a few things I feel are crucial information for you to have.

If you’re about to work with an editor or are currently in the process, even for the smallest project, here are some surefire ways to be a good client and not make said editor contemplate a move to a Brazilian rainforest (Another good goal is not to end up on a list of clients they’ll refuse to do business with in the future.)

#1- Don’t call or e-mail within 15 minutes of sending them your manuscript to ask if they’re finished. I JUST started. I’m on page three. Why are you asking if I’ve read the entire thing that you JUST sent to me? Precisely how does one get it into their head that a non-magical entity has just inhaled 100,000 words (or more) in 15 minutes?! It is annoying to the point of something more severe. Here, let me whip out my magic wand…  Don’t do it, and if you’re thinking about doing it, lock your phone in a drawer and change all of your passwords to stifle yourself.

A good editor will update you during the process, there is no need to nag. You may find yourself so excited that you can’t help but constantly send your editor messages, but eventually, even the best editor is going to lose their patience with repetitive questions. The only time it’s acceptable to keep track of them is, if by some strike of lightning, you never hear from them again, which happens to people on occasion. However, a person that responds to you and keeps you updated is working, and you probably aren’t their only job, so be patient. Take this from a person who is being nagged every few days by a client. If strangling were legal…  

#2- Don’t say rude, insensitive, inappropriate, idiotic shit. If an editor lets you know right away that they are dealing with any kind of emergency (We’re people, life/shit happens and it’s not always good.) decide whether or not you can hold out. If they are in the middle of the work, let them finish. Continuity is important. Hiring another editor to do what they’ve been working on is a headache because that person will only start from the beginning and make changes more suitable to their style, and that’s additional time, and money, being spent.

If they just started working and you’ve barely paid them, it’s okay to move on if need be, but don’t take hostility out on them or, if you agree that you can wait, don’t send them messages every few days, or weekly, to ask about the progress. Let them work. If I have to stop what I’m doing to answer your repetitive e-mails, I might not be pleasant, polite, or anywhere near the word “professional”. I might give you one word answers. If I respond three days later, that does not mean I was ignoring you. It means I was working. Don’t make assumptions. 

#3- Realize that every freelance editor does not have a team behind them and/or a slew of assistants. I’m a one-woman show. There are days I knock out 25,000 words in the editing and/or proofreading process and there are days I am only able to get through a few pages. The dirtier the manuscript, the more face time it requires.

#4- Read your work in advance before you submit it. You might even want to read it twice. Use spell check. Hell, use a grammatical tool so I don’t stare at the page flabbergasted by your complete and utter lack of knowledge regarding the use of the English language. “Did she actually write “ancestory” instead of “ancestry”? I think I’m having a stroke. (This happened to me Thursday.) That is not a typo (look at where each letter is on your keyboard), it’s someone trying to sound out a word and failing, miserably.   

#5- You may have a few self-published titles under your belt, but that doesn’t make you a writer. Yeah, I said it. Anyone can self-publish. If you don’t have an audience to sell to and a solid story, don’t make it out to be more than it is. There are some exceptions to this rule and they are people who have properly marketed themselves as a brand. I know a few of them and their decency measures up to the quality of their writing.

#6- You cannot self-promote anything that isn’t edited, clean, and ready to go. It’s childish and unprofessional, and it’s not going to work in your favor the second a prospective agent Googles you and finds your blatant self-promotion, for a book they may or may not want to buy, in places they probably don’t want to see it. They might like your chutzpah, because you will need those skills later on, but they’re not going to want unedited excerpts on every writing web-site from here to Calcutta. Know when to hold things close and even better, know when to keep your mouth shut. Unless something is a done deal contractually, zip it. Afterwards, I’d still refrain.

#7- Write what you know. If you’re choosing a place you have never been and will never visit, you’re not going to capture the essence of the most crucial things, and a local resident or someone who has been there is going to pick up on that immediately. There may be a lot of competition to write about things in major cities, but if you’ve actually made the statement that Johns Hopkins University and their respective Hospital are in New York City when it most certainly is not (Hello, have you ever heard of Baltimore, Maryland?! Unless I’ve had a recent lobotomy, they’re both still there.), I strongly recommend NOT making New York City your setting. (Yes, this happened. I had to walk away from the crazy because insistence does not make something truth.)

#8- Speak to me, on the phone & in e-mails, the same way you want to be spoken to. If you’re incessantly rude, eventually even the nicest person is going to snap. Ultimately, treat people the way you want to be treated, in all things.

#9- You may love your editor, but he/she is not your bestie. Unless we’re genuine friends outside of work, I cannot take time to counsel you on your marriage, friendships, parents, or children. Not when you constantly ask me “Is it done yet?” It’s NOT a piece of chicken.

#10- An editor who knows his or her shit is going to push you to be better. We are going to tell you to re-write, revise, and altogether tell a better story. It’s our job to dissect what you’ve written and help you make it into a cohesive, readable body of work. Telling you it’s the most fabulous thing I’ve ever read when it is not and kissing your ass for writing it “in three months” is NOT in my job description. I can tell when something took no time at all.

#11- There is a relatively long list of words I will cut out of a manuscript the second I see them in an overly repetitive fashion. “Very”, “Awesome”, “Seriously”, “Really” “Totally”, “Umm”, “Just” “Ya” as opposed to “Yeah”, are merely a few. The deal-breaker is “Alright”. I flip my lid every time I see it and you’re out there calling yourself a writer. Don’t insult me, I’ve been writing for 28 years and I’m almost positive I have always known that “all right” is two fucking words, not a creative amalgamation for the lazy. If ever I DID make errors like that, there was always someone present to correct me.

The occasional slip-up is not the end of the world, but if you regularly use the word “Y’all”, or any variation thereof, please exit stage door left so I don’t throw something. I realize it’s a part of some people’s daily vernacular, but if you’ve written it into a book that does not take place south of the Mason-Dixon line, I’m cutting it.

#12- If you want five hundred pages edited in 1-3 days, you’re either looking to hire a machine or highly intelligent zoo animals. Let me know how that works out for you. (This is a regular request. These are the same people who think this level of editing shouldn’t cost more than $30 U.S., not Canadian. I would rather starve for a week than do that much work for so little money. That’s not even my current hourly rate!)

The very best editor for you is someone you have fostered some sort of professional, communicative relationship with, maybe even someone you know who edits and who you have come to respect, but it’s not the person you picked out of a line-up as the cheapest person for the job. Unfortunately, sometimes you get what you pay for and other times you find someone amazing. It’s the luck of the draw.

At the end of the day, I do not have all the answers. I have 95% of them, but not all of them. 😉

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


I Wrote Today…Be Thrilled

I am in excruciating pain. From the top of my spine to the top of my thighs, I cannot stand the torturous pain that only seems to get worse with every passing minute. After a point, you really have to ask yourself an important question: Do I take ANOTHER pill or do I pray this will stop at some point? It’s been quite some time since I’ve wanted a morphine drip, but right now, it sounds good.

While this pain attacks my being relentlessly, cutting off my early (for me) bed time by waking me up, I actually sat here for over an hour pouring over what shall forever be dubbed as “the manuscript from hell”. At this point, I can honestly say I am forcing myself to work and get it done. I am NOT enjoying myself in any way, shape, or form. I keep thinking about all the Biotin I will have to take to replace the hair this manuscript is costing me. God help me if my work ever tortures another individual so much! 😦


On a more serious note, a fellow writer had her first book hacked by someone claiming to be an editor in India. After three months of “editing”, he hacked into her Amazon account, tried to pass the book off as done, and then stole her credit card information and, to my understanding, maxed out her card. He damaged her files to the point where she has just lost a year of hard work, work she cherished beyond measure. So now, she’s lost a book she was proud of AND she has to file all kinds of reports to avoid identity theft, and get her credit card charged back and replaced. This is nightmarish, and I don’t want it to happen to anyone ever again.

I want everyone that is a writer to be VERY careful when hiring an editor. I highly recommend sticking to your country of origin and asking for a contract and non-disclosure agreement. That is my standard method of dealing with all of my clients and while some of them may drive me insane at times, I have never, not once in 20 years, released their names or discussed what their work was about. It’s okay to say your job is driving you nuts, but as an editor it’s crucial to my reputation to protect my clients’ work.

At the end of each day, I don’t OWN their manuscripts. I can ask to receive credit as the editor for those that self-publish, but three months after a job has been completed, I release my hold on any and all files. I keep them for that short time period on the off-chance they will need me to fix something or need a backup copy, but after that, I delete the work. I have no rights to it whatsoever, and each contract states that.

If you’re writing a book, back up your files to something external. A thumb drive, a microSD card, an external hard drive, etc., and put a hard copy on a CD or DVD, and put it in a safe place. If you can put it in a safe, I highly recommend that as an option. Don’t EVER allow someone to access your work remotely. Do not give passwords out! Shield everything you put your name on and protect it with your life. There are seriously evil people in this world that are, without question, predators to some extent. Do not allow yourself to become a victim of anyone professing to be something that are, quite clearly, not.

There are plenty of legitimate freelancers and there are even more that are simply liars. Aim high when searching for someone legitimate to assist you with something so important. If you have any questions, I am happy to assist where I can.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.